Quotes in the Middle Ages

History - Middle Ages




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The Middle Ages quotes listed below are from some of the most famous and influential people of the time period.  These Middle Ages quotes reflect the culture and societal norms of the time period.  They cover everyone, from famous religious figures to philosophers, from lovers to painters.

Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen was a Medieval philosopher, composer, visionary, and powerful religious figure.  She is often credited with being the composer of the first play set to music.  This play was entitled Ordo Virtutum.  She made many other contributions to music, including over sixty hymns and an opera.  Her opera, which was written for St. Ursula, was entitled 11,000 Virgins.  Hildegard was an abbess who is still famous for dressing her nuns in nontraditional, less formal adornments.  For example, her nuns did not always have to wear habits (the traditional hood that nuns must cover themselves with at all times).

Hildgard of Bingen Quotes:

“Underneath all the texts, all the sacred psalms and canticles, these watery varieties of sounds and silences, terrifying, mysterious, whirling and sometimes gestating and gentle must somehow be felt in the pulse, ebb, and flow of the music that sings in me. My new song must float like a feather on the breath of God.”

-Hildegard of Bingen

“When the words come, they are merely empty shells without the music. They live as they are sung, for the words are the body and the music the spirit.”

-Hildegard of Bingen

“The soul is a breath of living spirit, that with excellent sensitivity, permeates the entire body to give it life. Just so, the breath of the air makes the earth fruitful. Thus the air is the soul of the earth, moistening it, greening it.”

-Hildegard of Bingen

Peter Abelard and Heloise

Peter Abelard was a French philosopher who was famous for his controversial book, _.  He was also famous for his long love affair and friendship with Heloise.  This relationship was more platonic on Abelard's side, though Heloise loved him her whole life.  Abelard and Heloise exchanged letters for many years, even after the two had long since been separated; Abelard became a monk and Heloise a nun.

Peter Abelard Quotes:

“Often the hearts of men and women are stirred, as likewise they are soothed in their sorrows, more by example than by words. And therefore, because I too have known some consolation from speech had with one who was a witness thereof, am I now minded to write of the sufferings which have sprung out of my misfortunes, for the eyes of one who, though absent, is of himself ever a consoler. This I do so that, in comparing your sorrows with mine, you may discover that yours are in truth nought, or at the most but of small account, and so shall you come to bear them more easily.”

-Peter Abelard

Heloise Quotes:

"But if I lose you, what have I left to hope for? Why continue on life's pilgrimage, for which I have no support but you, and none in you save the knowledge that you are alive, now that I am forbidden all other pleasures in you and denied even the joy of your presence which from time to time could restore me to myself?"

-Heloise

“The name of mistress instead of wife would be dearer and more honourable for me, only love given freely, rather than the constriction of the marriage tie, is of significance to an ideal relationship.”

- Heloise

Paraclesus

Paraclesus was a German-Swiss physician, astrologer, alchemist, and astrologer.  He is credited as being the first systematic botanist.  He is also credited with giving a name to zinc, which he called zincum.

Paraclesus Quote:

“Thoughts give birth to a creative force that is neither elemental nor sidereal. Thoughts create a new heaven, a new firmament, a new source of energy, from which new arts flow. When a man undertakes to create something, he establishes a new heaven, as it were and from it the work that he desires to create flows into him. For such is the immensity of man that he is greater than heaven and earth.”

-Paracelsus

Dante

Dante, formally named Durante degli Alighieri, was an Italian philosopher, poet, political theorist, literary theorist, and writer of prose.  He is most well-known for the epic poem Divine Comedy (La divina comedia), originally titled Commedia.  This work is considered the greatest piece of literature in the Italian language, as well as one of the greatest pieces of literature ever composed in the world.

Dante Quote:

There is no greater sorrow / Than to be mindful of the happy time / In misery

- Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, (Inferno, Canto V, Lines 121-3)

Julian of Norwich

Julian was an English anchoress who is one of the most highly regarded Christian mystics of all time.  She has never been officially canonized or beatified by the Catholic Church.  This is most likely because not much is known of her life other than her writings that exist today.  Her exact date of death is also unknown.  However, she has been venerated in the Luteran and Anglican churches.  It is even unknown as to whether Julian was a nun, or possibly even a common laywoman.

Julian of Norwich Quote: 

“Wouldest thou wit thy Lord's meaning in this thing? Wit it well: Love was his meaning.”

-- Dame Julian of Norwich, in Revelations of Divine Love.

Leon Battista Alberti

Leon Battista Alberti was an Italian artist, poet, author, linguist, philosopher, humanist and priest.  Oftentimes he is only cited as an architect, but he was noted as having had extensive experience in almost all areas of fine art.

Leon Battista Alberti Quotes:

“When I investigate and when I discover that the forces of the heavens and the planets are within ourselves, then truly I seem to be living among the gods.”

-Leon Battista Alberti

“Painting is possessed of divine power, for not only does it make the absent present, but also makes the dead almost alive.”

-Leon Battista Alberti





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