Heloise and Discussion about Love

Constant J. Mews

in Abelard and Heloise

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780195156881
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835423 | DOI:

Series: Great Medieval Thinkers

 Heloise and Discussion about Love

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Heloise and Discussion about Love. This chapter examines the significance of the early love affair of Abelard and Heloise. It argues that this relationship was not simply a matter of fornication portrayed by Abelard in the Historia calamitatum. Drawing on the Epistolae duorum amantium, which I argue is a record of an early exchange between Abelard and Heloise, I explain that Heloise wanted to apply Ciceronian ideals of friendship to love between a man and a woman. At her request, Abelard did endeavor to define friendship in terms based on Cicero, but he never developed her interest in true friendship as not seeking any personal reward. His love letters are more strongly influenced by a passionate ideal of love, inspired by the poetry of Ovid.

Keywords: Abelard; Heloise; friendship; love; Cicero; Ovid; love letters

Chapter.  10438 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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