<i>A Phenomenological Reduction: Allegory in Prudentius'</i> Psychomachia

Brenda Machosky

in Structures of Appearing

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780823242849
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823242887 | DOI:
A Phenomenological Reduction: Allegory in Prudentius' Psychomachia

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About the same time that Augustine developed a method for allegorically interpreting obscure biblical passages and connecting the old dispensation to the new, the poet Prudentius created a narrative fiction with personified characters fighting a moral battle for the human soul that called out for a similar kind of allegorical interpretation. Subjecting this “first allegorical poem” to a phenomenological reduction reveals what allegory is as distinct from theology, narrative, personification, and poetry. The allegory of Psychomachia is not so much about an actual battle as it is an attempt to manifest the appearance of the imago Dei in human beings. This study of the image (of God) deepens the argument of the image as resemblance rather than representation. Heidegger's essay “On the Origin of the Work of Art,” shows how the techné of allegory sustains a fundamental gap (riß) through which something other than the work of art appears, and this explains how the soul appears in Psychomachia. Although Psychomachia is not aesthetically valued as poetry, it is, in fact, an important example of the intimate relation between poetry and allegory. The soul is a “phantasmenon,” an image that reason cannot explain but that appears in the work of art.

Keywords: Heidegger; image; personification; Prudentius; phenomenological reduction; soul

Chapter.  12983 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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