This book considers how scientists, theologians, priests, and poets approached the relationship of the human body and ethics in the later Middle Ages. Is medicine merely a metaphor for sin? Or can certain kinds of bodies physiologically dispose people to be angry, sad, or greedy? If so, then is it their fault? Virginia Langum offers an account of the medical imagery used to describe feelings and actions in religious and literary contexts, referencing a variety of behavioral discussions within medical contexts. The study draws upon medical and theological writing for its philosophical basis, and upon more popular works of religion, as well as poetry, to show how these themes were articulated, explored, and questioned more widely in medieval culture.
Virginia Langum is Associate Professor of English at Umea University, Sweden and Pro Futura Scientia Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study. She recently edited Words and Matter: The Virgin Mary in Late Medieval and Early Modern Parish Life.