William of Malmesbury, <i>Gesta regum Anglorum</i>: Empowering Remnants of Ancient Rome

David Rollo

in Kiss My Relics

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780226724614
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226724607 | DOI:
William of Malmesbury, Gesta regum Anglorum: Empowering Remnants of Ancient Rome

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This chapter focuses on one twelfth-century writer's meditations on his own allegedly sinful dalliance with fable and his efforts—eventually triumphant—to negotiate his rebellion against the trends of confining Augustinianism. “The Statue and the Ring” is not only an entertaining interlude in a work explicitly intended as a history of the English kings. It is an entertainment that dramatizes the bedroom influence of Venus, the pagan goddess of physical love and sexual pleasure, carnal appetites that had come to be as rigorously proscribed to men of monastic vocation as pagan belief itself. The very themes of the story go some way to anticipating this type of negative response, creating something of a warning against the revival of pagan culture. “The Statue and the Ring” is, after all, a tale in which the modern Christian inadvertently empowers an aspect of the classical past and does so with deleterious consequences.

Keywords: The Statue and the Ring; English kings; goddess of love; pagan culture; classical past; ancient Rome

Chapter.  10459 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)

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