medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture There's also a lovely story in Bede's Life of St Cuthbert, in which the saint is off praying alone in the sea (as was his wont); he's being secretly watched by an acolyte (conveniently explaining how someone could know this happened) and lo! a couple of otters appear and towel of his feet with their fur.
 
There's an illustration of this in the famous late C12 version of the text (...was a book on the illuminations by Dominic Marner I think published by the British Museum press?...) sadly, the otters have got a little blotched by the centuries.
 
PS
I won't mention the Green Man if no one else willl....





> Date: Mon, 15 Sep 2008 14:32:18 -0500
> From: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [M-R] holiness and the natural world
> To: [log in to unmask]
>
> medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
>
> On Monday, September 15, 2008, at 8:38 am, Chara Armon wrote:
>
> > Recently I noticed John Ruusbroec's recommendations of the work of
> > bees and
> > ants as a model for human spirituality (in his Spiritual Espousals),
> > and I'm
> > wondering whether anyone has thoughts on any past history of this
> > concept
> > or on other writers who expressed it.
>
> Ancient Greek and Latin writers were accustomed to using social insects as comparanda for human activity. Both bees and ants often figure in similes evoking numbers of people in motion. Ants are also famous as paragons of industry and thrift (cf. the Aesopic fable of the ant and the cicada [later, the ant and the grasshopper]). Detailed accounts of bees in a hive occur repeatedly as illustrations of human social and political organization. On top of that, there is a tradition in Greek and Roman antiquity of representing souls as bees and of using bees as images specifically of _just_ souls (for the latter point, cf. the discussion in Maurizio Bettini, _Anthropology and Roman Culture: Kinship, Time, Images of the Soul_ [Johns Hopkins U. P., 1991]).
>
> So it comes as no surprise to find rhetorically well educated Christian writers of late antiquity adapting these cultural commonplaces to Christian contexts. Cf., for example, the translated matter here from Origen on ants and bees:
> http://tinyurl.com/6mltu5
> or John Chrysostom's valuation, in the matter translated here, of the bee as one who labors in behalf others (set your browser to find 'bee'):
> http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf109.xix.xiv.html
>
> Good hunting!
>
> Best,
> John Dillon
>
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