By Steven Botterill

During this learn, Steven Botterill explores the highbrow dating among the best poet of the fourteenth century, Dante, and the best religious author of the 12th century, Bernard of Clairvaux. Botterill analyzes Bernard's visual appeal as a personality within the ultimate cantos of the Paradiso within the context of his medieval popularity as a contemplative mystic, devotee of Mary, and, certainly, a preacher of exceptional eloquence. Botterill's new severe stance will impress a reevaluation of Bernard's importance within the Commedia.

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Extra info for Dante and the Mystical Tradition: Bernard of Clairvaux in the Commedia

Sample text

William of St Thierry knew Bernard intimately; Arnald and Geoffrey, if they could not claim quite the same degree of personal acquaintance (though Geoffrey had been Bernard's secretary), were his younger contemporaries, moved in the same Cistercian circles, and were steeped in the atmosphere of an Order still rich in recent memories of its most celebrated abbot. Their versions of Bernard's life thus had a central role in defining the official view of him, which the Cistercian Order sought to promulgate as an ideal, both to its own members and to the outside world.

This gift was to be the birth of a * doctor precipuus, qui esset quasi alter Moyses' (' a man of great learning, who would be like another Moses'). This turned 32 Joachim of Fiore, Tractatus de vita sancti Benedicti, edited by Cipriano Baraut, Analecta Sacra Tarraconiensia, 2 4 ( 1 9 5 1 ) , 3 3 - 1 2 2 ( q u o t a t i o n s from 5 4 , 8 6 , 1 1 7 ) . 36 Dante and the mystical tradition out to be Bernard. The Mosaic analogy recurs, accompanied by still more exalted comparisons: Bernard was sent 'in spiritu Moysi' ('in the spirit of Moses'), just as John the Baptist was, with the same mission of gathering a multitude of disciples through his preaching.

38. St Bernard in medieval culture 37 Joachim's skilful synthesis here reveals a thorough knowledge of Bernard's biography, and a more than adequate familiarity with his writings, as well as profound respect for him as a historical figure. De consideratione is mentioned again later in the Liber concordie, and again called 'alter Leviticus', as part of a shorter discussion of Bernard as one of the saintly men sent to the leaders of the Church 'qui securi de charitate et simplicitate sua in libertate spiritus loquerentur ad eos' ('who, emboldened by their charity and simplicity, would speak to them freely in the Spirit').

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