Limina: A Journal of Historical and Cultural Studies

“So the satiated man hungers, the drunken thirsts” The Medieval Rhetorical Topos of Spiritual Nutrition

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James L. Smith

The University of Western Australia

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“So the satiated man hungers, the drunken thirsts” The Medieval Rhetorical Topos of Spiritual Nutrition


This article explores the representation of hunger and thirst as faculties within medieval spiritual allegory that existed at two forms. In their bodily form, hunger and thirst represented a feeling of lack indicating the need for sustenance. In their figurative moralised form these needs came to represent a longing for that which was missing within the soul, an abstraction of human nutrition. In order to discuss this idea, this article presents two heavily interrelated forms of bodily need rendered as spiritual experience: a greedy longing for wealth with negative moral valance and a spiritual and transcendent hungering and thirsting after lasting spiritual foods. It concludes with the proposal that the abstract qualities of nutritive need (namely hunger and thirst) featured in a rhetorical formula when abstracted and mobilised for the purpose of moral allegory.

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Smith article [PDF, 461.2 KB]
Updated 20 Mar 2015


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Updated 20 Mar 2015


 

Limina: A Journal of Historical and Cultural Studies

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