On Fri, 5 Jan 2001 [log in to unmask] wrote:
> Paul's posting about medieval Welsh literary images of Hell as an icy marsh
> is interesting - the visual depiction of Hell, on the other hand (as in the
> Doom over the chancel arch at Wrexham) is of flames. Another example of the
> disparity between visual and literary imagery ?
I just recalled an anecdote from the *Gesta Romanorum* in which
hell matches Dante's icy place. The date of the work, as I understand it,
is late 13th century.
Skipping the details, a farmer briefly transported to hell
described it as "a subterranean palace entered by a single gate, enveloped
in the thickest darkness." It was situated at the peak of a mountain,
part of which was "perpetual snow and ice; here there was abundance of
crystal, and the sun was never seen." The story ends with the admonition
"Let us guard our hearts and beware that [the devil] not catch up the
sinful soul and plunge it into the lake of everlasting misery; where there
is snow and ice unthawed--crystal that reflects the awakened and agonized
conscience, perpetually burning with immortal fire." The crystal as
mirror of conscience is a nice touch.
This is from Charles Swan's trans. in the old Dover edition,
pp. 308-10 (story 162).
John Shinners e-mail:[log in to unmask]
Professor Phone: (office): (219) 284-4494
Humanistic Studies Program Phone (dept.): (219) 284-4501
Saint Mary's College Fax: (219) 284-4716
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556