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William of Malmesbury, Gesta regum Anglorum: Empowering Remnants of Ancient Rome

William of Malmesbury, Gesta regum Anglorum: Empowering Remnants of Ancient Rome

Chapter:
(p.51) Chapter Three William of Malmesbury, Gesta regum Anglorum: Empowering Remnants of Ancient Rome
Source:
Kiss My Relics
Author(s):
David Rollo
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226724607.003.0004

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

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