[DWJ] Re: OT medieval speculations

Robyn Starkey rohina at shaw.ca
Thu Mar 23 18:53:39 EST 2006

Piers Plowman is a much better source for the categorisation of sins and 
virtues, methinks. Gawain is problematic in more ways than one.

For those of you who enjoy medieval things, and haven't yet seen it, 
Geoffrey Chaucer hath a blog:

I will confess I wrote to his advice column; not telling which letter.


minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:

>That's because they aren't really traditional, I suspect.  Three of them,
>faith, hope and charity, are the stand-alone Pauline virtues, and after
>that it's not obvious and different sources give different virtues.
>In several places there are five virtues listed for the chivalric code, for
>instance, as Generosity, Love of his fellow men, Purity, Courtesy and
>Compassion (that's how they appear in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight:
>"fraunchyse, fela3schyp, clannes, courtaysye, pite").  One of those is
>clearly charity -- or is it? are two of them actually charity in different
>guises? -- the other four or three don't match your listed Faith, Hope,
>Charity, Temperance, Justice, Prudence and Fortitude.  I suppose clannes
>and chastity are a match, which might be how it came to be smuggled in to
>replace prudence.  :-)
>Throw in Gawain's problem-child "trewthe" -- "integrity"? "honour"?
>"honesty"? -- which isn't in the seven.  Then there is loyalty, which seems
>to be such a "given" in the chivalric code that it hardly needs to be
>mentioned.  What about valour, as opposed to fortitude: the former is
>something you set out to do, the latter is something you need when someone
>sets out to do unto you.
>I'd say it's an interesting quirk of human nature that codifying the Sins
>can be done fairly easily and agreed on, but there are so many different
>ways of expressing virtue that no two people I know seem to agree which
>virtues ought to be set against the seven deadly sins.  Some go for
>opposites, as it were (what's the opposite of "accidie"?), and some go for
>whatever they feel are the most important good qualities for humanity
>without reference to the listed sins.  (Just at the moment, waiting for a
>builder who is now three weeks late or an hour late depending on which
>time-scale I use, I would list "punctuality" as a virtue, or maybe
>obDWJ, every time she tries to list the seven deadly sins she gets six of
>them straight off and can't remember the seventh, but each time it seems to
>be a different seventh that she can't remember immediately and only comes
>to after a lot of mental rummaging.  She always gets gluttony first,
>possibly because her plump little cat is an ever-present reminder of its
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