Phalerae Poetae and the Prophet’s New Words in the Anticlaudianus of Alan of Lille
Florilegium, vol.1 (1979)
Autoris mendico stilum falerasque poete, Ne mea segnicie Clio [dejecta] senescat, Ne iaceat calamus scabra rubigine torpens. Scribendi nouitate uetus iuuenescere carta Gaudet, et antiquas cupiens exire latebras Ridet, et in tenui lasciuit harundine musa. Fonte tuo sic, Phebe, tuum perfunde poetam Vt compluta tuo mens arida flumine, germen Donet, et in fructus concludat germinis usum.
The opening of Alan of Lille’s epic Anticlaudianus, termed Prologus in Bossuat’s edition, and usually referred to as the “verse prologue” to distinguish it from Alan’s prose preface, is more correctly an invocation. Curiously enough, E. R. Curtius misread this initial appeal to Apollo and flatly declared that “Alans Anticlaudianus hat am Amfang keine invocatio,” limiting his discussion of Alan’s muse to the summoning of a diviner power in Book V.2 But the Anticlaudianus possesses two invocations – one to earthly Apollo, whose aid is sufficient for the first half of the epic, and one to the Heavenly Muse, God the Creator, whose inspirational efficacy is required for the rest of the poem as it pursues “Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.” Less struck with the self-exalting solemnity of a Milton, and yet equally stirred by the newness and promise of his task, Alan in the twelfth century sought to surpass ancient poets without abandoning their giant’s vantage-point: pagan Apollo could carry him to the very bourne of Heaven where new images appeared and a new language was spoken. The narrative of the Anticlaudianus – Prudencia’s rational and sapiential ascent from Nature’s domain to an ecstatic experience of “celestial theophany” – also traces the poet’s journey from the style of the ancients to that of the moderns, from old figures of speech to new tropes. The Anticlaudianus, like Alan’s earlier work, the De planctu Naturae, which has been termed “a handbook for the aspiring poet,”3 is a prospectus of poetic theory, incorporating much contemporary thought about the nature of poetry, and at once preserving the legacy of revered auctores and dispensing it to the greater increase of Christian art. With perfect decorum, Alan might invoke Apollo for a certain task and revoke his influence at the proper moment. Unlike many Christian writers before him, Alan did not disparage Apollo’s spring for the sake of Jordan’s waters or utterly reject pagan fictions for sacred history:4 both Apollo’s lyre and the prophet’s utterance, both decorative fiction and numinous fact, are joined together in the Anticlaudianus in an elegant poetic structure that recognizes their sympathetic but diverse spheres and their discontinuous though hierarchically linked forms. The two invocations mark the old see-plot and the new crop of twelfth-century poetics.
Although the Anticlaudianus was to become a widely read text, diligently commented upon and especially cherished by thirteenth-century writers on poetic and rhetorical art, the poem initially seems to have met with adverse comment. Alan alludes to this hostile criticism at the end of the poem and in his prose prologue. Apparently, the Anticlaudianus was viewed in some quarters as a work in which Alan was attempting to rival the ancients (“antiquos . . . equare poetas,” IX. 412, p. 197) by displaying the moderns’ insolent preference for native genius over venerable poetic tradition (Prologus, pp. 55-56). Alan’s reply to such criticism both refutes and acknowledges the charge of overweening modernity: he has not tried to outdo the ancients, but rather he has followed admiringly in their footsteps (IX. 413-14, p. 197); he is a dwarf perched on a giant’s shoulders; the spring of the ancients feeds the greater torrent of modern poetry. With fierce humility Alan denies stature and grandeur to his poem – a mere twig or reed, not a towering tree apt to attract the full lightning force of critical ire and envy. He submits his work to the sympathetic reader for correction, pleading the unavoidability of error in the product of a human artist’s clouded intelligence. Yet at the same time Alan desires that the reader put aside the temptation to find fault with the poem and that he be drawn to it by a delight in novitas. Though the poet characterizes the Anticlaudianus as lowly, flawed, and lacking in purpled eloquence or starry sententiae, he nevertheless wants its novelty to be appreciated (Prologus, pp. 55-56). Its modernity, he implies, lies not in its disregard of the ancients but in the complexity of its conception.
Accordingly, in his prologue Alan moves from expressions of extreme humility (which are at the same time scathing attacks on the undue excitement of critics) to statements which leave no doubt that he is proud of his accomplishment, and that perceived lapses in his wok arise from deficiencies in the reader. Those who are just beginning the study of the Trivium, those who are taking up the Quadrivium, and those about to commence theological studies should not presume to criticize the Anticlaudianus, because it will please puerile taste with the sweetness of its literal sense, inspire the more advanced with its moral instruction, and sharpen the fully developed intellect with the subtlety of its allegory. Alan forbids the unworthy (those who can follow only sense-images and who have no appetite for truth born of reason) to read his book; he will not throw pearls before swine or reveal secrets to defilers. Further challenging the reader, Alan claims that his work not only operates on three levels but also contains the principles of the seven Liberal Arts and goes beyond them to a “theophanie celestis emblema,” that is, to an “emblem” or shining image of Divine manifestation.5 For this reason, only those who dare elevate their powers of understanding to the perception of supercelestial forms are qualified to take on the difficulties of the poem; those content with sense-bound imagery or speculative fictions must not impose their interpretations on a work they are not equipped to comprehend (Prologus, p. 56). Alan’s ideal reader, then is one sympathetically attracted to a new kind of poem which is at once polysemous, erudite, and visionary, and one which demands the strenuous ascent from sensuality to the apotheosis of human reason. The reader must, therefore, like the author himself, identify with the poem’s questing heroine Prudencia, whose journey, commissioned by Nature and the Virtues, upborne by the chariot of the Liberal Arts and directed by Reason, eventually takes her to a world where Nature’s laws and all the eloquent wisdom of the ancients are confounded. Alan, as he says, lovingly follows the footsteps of the ancients, yet goes with Prudencia beyond them.
The prose prologue, with its promise of an “emblem’ of celestial theophany and its requirement that readers of the poem dare to lift up (“audent attollere”) their minds to a contemplation of supercelestial forms. Indicates that Alan is offering a challenge not just to sense-beclouded critics but specifically to a theory of poetic narrative enunciated by Macrobius in the fifth century. In his commentary on the Somnium Scipionis, the sixth book of Cicero’s De Republica, Macrobius had justified the philosophical use of narratio fabulosa, or myth, as a means of concealing the truths of Nature from the vulgar. Just as Nature hid her mysteries “by enveloping herself in variegated garments,” wrote Macrobius, so “she has also desired to have her secrets handled by more prudent individuals through fabulous narrative.” Though Macrobius rejected fables that spun immodest fictions round the gods, he sanctioned narratio fabulosa when it draped “holy truths” with decorous veils of allegory. But while he allowed that philosophy had need of myth, he denied that fabulous narrative could extend is legitimacy beyond Nature, the realm of the World Soul. When discourse dared ascend (“se audet attollere”) to the Supreme God and Mind, the philosopher must shun the use of myth, contenting himself with similitudines and exempla in order to convey some intuition of the Good. But there can be no poetic simulacrum of God, who is too far beyond earthly existence to be figured in speculative fictions concocted of images drawn from this world.6 Alan’s Anticlaudianus is, however, a poetic narrative which bursts the barriers erected by this Neoplatonist’s theory of philosophical fable: in the prose prologue Alan ironically echoes Macrobius’ phrase, “audet atollere,” to invite the reader to ascend with Prudencia to an “emblem” of Divine manifestation, something no fabulous narrative ought to attempt. But a Christian poet, and more precisely a Christian poet respectful of Macrobian teaching and imbued with Chartrian thought, might acknowledge the necessity of Macrobius’ restrictions on narratio fabulosa, and yet see how they could be amended to allow for figurative language inaccessible to the ancients.
In Alan’s earlier De planctu Naturae, which adheres strictly to the rules laid down for narratio fabulosa, Natura reminds the dreamer of Macrobius’ teaching that the language of natural philosophy is myth and that she – Alan’s embodiment of a splendidly costumed Nature, equivalent to the ornamented discourse of philosopher-poet – cannot appropriate a subject which she does not comprehend and for which she lacks speech. In the course of a parable likening God to the ruler of a city wherein “God commands by the mastery of authority, the angel administers with the ministry of action, the man obeys with the mystery of regeneration,” she interjects: “but the sequence of our thought has already strayed too far, boldly elevating the discussion [lit. “quae . . . tractatum audeat attollere”] to the ineffable mystery of Divinity, and in the effort to understand this our mental capacities grow faint.”7 Natura’s echoing of the key phrase from Macrobius, “audet attollere,” indicates exactly the limitations of her kind of discourse, the fabulous presentation of truths pertaining to the Soul. While she may instruct the dreamer about the mysteries of her realm, preeminently those of lawful procreation, she dare not elevate her speech to treat of mystery beyond her ken – the regeneration of man through Christ. Alan’s quoting of Macrobius both in the De plactu and in the prologue to the Anticlaudianus shows that he accepted Macrobius’ theory that myth was a legitimate vehicle for what Alan would call natural philosophy.8 But it also shows that he could place this theory within a larger framework which provided images and a language for truths beyond those of the Soul and consequently beyond the kind of poetic artifice required to conceal inferior realities. In the De planctu, Alan faithfully serves the demands of natural philosophy and its poetic Muse – “Musa rogat . . . Natura precatur” (W 429; M 431) – to convey the truths of Nature in the fabulous guise of a dream-vision; in the Anticlaudianus, however, he seeks to erect on the infrastructure of myth a higher vision owing its figures to inspiration more divine. In the earlier poem, Natura can only condemn, not amend, human vice; in the Anticlaudianus Natura seeks God’s help in creating the soul of a new man who successfully combats vice and inaugurates a golden age of love and peace.9 In moving from the limitations of natural philosophy in the De planctu to the efficacy of theology in the Anticlaudianus Alan rises from dream-vision to prophecy, and in the later poem enacts these ascents within the narrative itself.
At the beginning of the Anticlaudianus, Alan begs for the traditional instruments of a writer embarking upon a major work – the style of an author and the ornaments of a poet. He wishes to serve his neglected Muse, Clio, and invokes Phoeban inspiration. Yet in Book V, when Prudencia encounters the poli regina, Theology, at the fabulous stellar margin, and when Reason no longer can guide Prudencia in the chariot of the Arts drawn by the Senses, Alan halts his narrative in order to invoke God’s help to speak of what Prudencia will next confront. Now he will abandon lesser things, putting aside Apollo’s lyre so that he may assume the “new words” of the prophet. Earthly Apollo will give way to the Heavenly Muse; terrestrial language will be replaced by the language of Heaven. No longer the “author” of the poem, Alan will be the pen itself, a lowly instrument of the One God whose illuminating power he now requires (V. 265-305, pp. 131-32). The second invocation is obviously at one with the crucial turning-point in the narrative – the ascent to realities beyond Nature, the Senses, the Arts, and Reason – and it helps to clarify in retrospect what Alan was attempting in the first half of the poem, for which the initial invocation also provides sure indications.
When Alan at first asks for the style of an author and the ornaments of a poet (“autoris . . . stilum falerasque poete”) he signifies he desire to write in the manner recommended by Macrobius and exemplified by such authors as Cicero and Martianus Capella and by himself in the De planctu Naturae. Such is the meaning that his sometime student, Radulphus de Longo Campo, would attach to these phrases, although in a more generalized fashion. In his commentary on the Anticlaudianus, Radulphus glosses auctoris in this way:
Auctoris ab authentim. Licet enim quilibet tractatores dicantur auctores quidam tamen specialiter dicuntur auctores qui augent scilicet rem secundum poesim. Quidam ab “authentim” id est ab auctoritate, qui scilicet sub exteriori verborum superficie aliquid occultant et claudunt mysticum et spiritualis intelligentiae et de talibus hic loquitur.10
For Radulphus, the “author” is an “authority” who “augments” his subject poetically; that is, he conceals beneath and encloses within the external surface of language (the poetic “augmentation”) something “authentic” and of spiritual significance. Such an author is thus akin to Macrobius’ philosopher who cloaks “holy truths” in fiction and similar to the kind of poet Natura speaks of in the De planctu, one who wraps the dulciorem nucleum veritatis in a literal cortex resounding with the false notes of the poetic lyre (W 465; M 451). If the author is also a poet, he will pay particular attention to the kind of language enclosing hidden truth. That is why, comments Radulphus, Alan adds faleras poete. Faleras may be glossed as “modum scribendi integumentalem,” “the integumental mode of writing;” for, “just as phalerae veil and ornament a horse, so the integumental mode of speech veils something hidden, encloses it within, and ornaments the words without.”11
The use of the adjectival form of integumentum, a technical term employed by William of Conches, by Abelard, by an important contemporary commentator on the Aeneid and the De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii, and indeed by Alan himself, is of great interest, because here the word clearly describes the chosen mode of a modern poet, whereas it is usually invoked to explain the literary method of authors such as Plato, Virgil, Cicero, Ovid, Martianus Capella, or Boethius.12 In twelfth- and thirteenth-century commentaries on literary and philosophical works, integumentum designates figurative writing in which a veil of fiction conceals truth, normally of a physical or moral nature. The term may refer to philosophical myth (Timaeus, Consolatio Philosophiae), pagan poems regarded as repositories of hidden knowledge (Aeneid, Metamorphoses, De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii), or classical myths generally and the story of Orpheus preeminently. The author of commentaries on the first six books of the Aeneid and on the De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii, who had been conveniently, but perhaps erroneously, names as Bernard Silvester,13 virtually identified integumentum with Macrobius’ narratio fabulosa: integumentum is “a kind of picturesque writing which envelops its meaning with a fabulous narrative, and for this reason it is also called involucrum.”14 In his commentary on the De nuptiis, the same writer further refines the concept of integumentum by subdividing figurative writing, involucrum, into two species, integumentum and allegoria. Integumentum is a literary work concealing its true meaning under a narratio fabulosa, as in the story of Orpheus: allegoria, exemplified in the story of Jacob’s struggle with the Angel, envelops truth with an historical narrative. Though “both history and fable contain a hidden mystery,” allegoria is suitable for Holy Scripture, while integumentum belongs to philosophy.” Immediately after drawing this distinction, the commentator cites Macrobius to remind one that
A philosophical treatise does not allow involucrum in every circumstance. For he says that when the style [of an author] dares to elevate itself [se audet attollere] to the Supreme God, it is wrong to use fiction, even of the acceptable kind.
The commentator momentarily seems to have forgotten that, according to his own definitions, only an integumentum uses fabulosa, so that he might more consistently have written that a philosophical treatise does not allow integumentum everywhere. In any case, he goes on to discuss what Virgil and Plato have legitimately wrapped in integumenta; these are the subjects – the Soul and the powers that dell in the ether and the air – designated by Macrobius as suited to fabulous treatment.15
It is clear that the commentator respects Macrobius’ limitations on the use of narratio fabulosa, but he does so without mentioning Macrobius’ reason for forbidding fictional narratives about God. According to Macrobius, there could be no simulacra of God and Nous because these hypostases were so far beyond nature that it would be improper to represent them by means of images derived from corporeal existence. The Christian, however, could hardly share this fastidiousness about the Divine: the Incarnation provided a true image of God, and in Scripture this image is both truthfully figured and made manifest in historical narrative.16 Accordingly, the twelfth-century adapter of Macrobius must distinguish the kind of figurative narrative, allegoria, which clothes the highest mystery in the involucrum of history, from the kind which ornaments the secrets of Nature with protective fiction. In providing this footnote to Macrobius, the author of the De nuptiis commentary thus retains the idea that myth is appropriate to natural philosophy while acknowledging another figurative mode able to ascend to the representation of the Divine. The kind of mystery, natural or divine, determines what sort of involucrum, integumental or allegorical, will envelop it.
Although the De nuptiis commentator’s classifications of figura have lately been dismissed as idiosyncratic, uninfluential, or simplistic,17 Jean Pépin has seen in them essentially the same categories as Dante’’ “allegory of the poets” and “allegory of the theologians;” in Dante’’ terminology, however, “allegory” has lost its specific denotation.18 One may also doubt that the commentator’s terms and their application were without influence if one considers their survival in John of Garland’s Poetria Parisiana, written c. 1220-1235. In that work, John advises that a writer may clarify an obscure narrative by using certain types of figurative writing, integumentum and allegoria. Integumentum, he explains, is ‘ueritas in specie fabule palliata;” allegoria is “ueritas in uerbis historie palliata,” for which he provides the example of a saint’s apotheosis.19 The distinctions of the De nuptiis commentator must have been known and taught in the schools of Paris, and taught, moreover, as tools for the would–be writer wishing to achieve a vivid style, not as instruments for uncovering the arcana of the ancients or of Scripture. Radulphus, Alan’s student and loving interpreter, was familiar as well with at least a part of the De nuptiis commentary, borrowing from it, or from some common or derivative source, the classifications of Scientia found in the fifth folio of the Cambridge manuscript.20 One might speculate that Radulphus’ master, Alan the “tiny Capella,”21 was not unaware of the De nuptiis commentary, and that he may have seen in its distinction between integumentum and allegoria a means of adapting Macrobian teaching to literary forms more congruent with modern poetic aspirations.
In glossing Alan’s faleras poete as the integumental mode used by poets, Radulphus emphasizes the high seriousness of this kind of ornamented discourse. The “phaleric” mode, by which the poet creates a scintillating caparison for hidden truth, is similar to what Geoffrey of Vinsauf calls the “Tullian” style in his discussion of four styles used by modern writers: the Gregorian, the Tullian, the Hilarian, and the Isodorian. Characterized by sentencie gratuitas and verborum florida exornacio, the Tullian style was used by older writers in both prose and verse; and in modern writers Geoffrey finds that the mixture of Tullian brilliance of metaphor (colores transumpcionis) with the colours (colores verborem) and cadences of the Gregorian style is especially pleasing.22 As an example of such a blend of rhetorical and metrical styles, Geoffrey cites the De planctu Naturae of Alan of Lille, a work written in prosimetrum, and one in which Alan “used to the fullest extent the metaphorical mode, in which all the trappings of eloquence are in glittering abundance.” Geoffrey goes on to say that, since then, no other book of the moderns has been found to equal the Architrenius (by John of Hauville) because of the great distinction it displays in its use of metaphorical expression. Although the Architrenius is a wholly metrical work, Geoffrey classes it with its illustrious predecessors, Alan’s De planctu and Bernard Silvester’s Cosmographia, both of which used the mixed prose-verse form, satura, of the De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii of Martianus Capella; in fact, Geoffrey finds the Architrenius superior to the Cosmographia, whose metres proclaimed the author a nightingale but whose prose bespoke the parrot.23 But for Geoffrey the Tullian style is not limited to prose writing. It is above all typified by the rich use of metaphor in works which have a serious purpose.
In his grouping of the leading twelfth-century exponents of the Tullian style, Geoffrey would seem to recognize more than their common eloquence. All three authors devoted ornament to the service of what Macrobius had called narratio fabulosa or to what contemporary writers termed integumentum. Macrobius’ commentary on the Somnium Scipionis had taught what sentencie gratuitas lay concealed beneath the entirely legitimate verborum florida exornacio, and Martianus Capella’s De nuptiis provided an admirable example of the extent to which instruction in the Arts could be embellished with narrative fancy and precious locutions. For Alan, as for Geoffrey, Cicero’s writing typified the glories of the “stellar” style: Cicero could redeem the poverty of a word by the splendour of his style and wield lightning-bolts of ornament; he made speech shine with the stars of rhetoric; his language was like the peacock’s spread tail, glowing with astral beauty.24 Alan’s association of Cicero with stellar ornament is due, I think, primarily to the stylistic grandeur of the Somnium Scipionis; that work, drenched in starlight, is a rime example of literary ornament dedicated to cosmic exploration, the kind of writing Chaucer’s eagle in The House of Fame would later characterize as “hard,” with respect both to “langage” and “matere,” and as replete with subtlety of speech, philosophical terms, figures of poetry, and colours of rhetoric.25 As master of the “phaleric” style, Cicero was also an adept of narratio fabulosa. In the twelfth century, to adopt the Tullian style was to assume not only stylistic refulgency but also fabulous subtlety.
Alan’s use of the word phalerae elsewhere in his writings justifies Radulphus’ gloss on it as “the integumental mode of speech.” In the De planctu, Natura prefaces her poetic myth about Venus and Antigamus / Antigenius26 with a description of the style she will use to treat the distasteful subject of aberrant sexuality:
Making my beginning in a more elevated and more distinguished style, and desiring to weave together the threads of my narrative, I do not wish as before to make my subject clear in plain, straightforward language, not to reveal unholy things in newly-coined common speech, but rather to gild shameful things with the golden ornaments [phaleris] of chaste discourse, and to clothe them with the various colours of elegant diction.27
She chooses the grand style over the middle and low styles, that is, in order to avoid the brutality that more direct or vulgar speech would borrow from the practices she describes. And because Natura employs the ornaments of the grand style in the relating of an instructive fable about Venus’ illicit union with Antigamus / Antigenius, one may conclude that, for Alan, the phalerae verborum belonging to this style are associated in his mind with poetic fable having a serious philosophical purpose – in this case, to explain how natural sexual feeling has become culpably dissociated from lawful procreation. Although Natura is careful to check her use of figurative language when it threatens to encroach upon mystery beyond her comprehension, she habitually uses a highly coloured, metaphorical, “phaleric” style to treat her proper subject matter, whether she creates a platonesque myth about Venus, delivers a clever theatralis oratio about Cupid (W 475; M 456), or in an elaborate stretch of double entendre refers to sexual activity in terms of sound or corrupt forms belonging to the trivial Arts (W 471; M 455), even in her showier tour de force, Natura is a brilliant practitioner of the Tullian style, encouraging the dreamer to ask that she maintain her aureate flow: she must discuss human vices, he urges, using a style “speciossimarum specierum intersticiis discoloribus,” that is, with interspersed and variegated colours of the most splendid ornaments (W 484; M 461). These splendid ornaments – species – are also, perhaps, false external images concealing the inner truth of Natura’s discourse. Obeying the dreamer’s request for a colourful style, she also satisfies his taste for fictions when she personifies vices and manes, for example, Bacchilatria as one of the “daughters” of Idolatry: “ut fictitio loquar vocabulo” (W 485; M 462). Natura’s speech – grand, stellar, fabulous – perfectly illustrates the integumental mode of poets.
If Natura’s discourse is self-consciously “phaleric,” she owes her chosen mode to Satura, the artful Muse of Martianus Capella. In Book III of the De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii, “De arte grammatica,” the poet expresses misgivings about the phalerae Satura is lavishing on his little book, but she assures him that such ornamentation is in order. It is better to clothe the nakedness of the arts, and, since one gives them voices, why not go all the way and make fictitious figures for them as well? Conquered by his playful Muse, Martianus consents to join her game.28 By phalerae, Martianus means, therefore, not only the highly coloured language deemed appropriate by his Muse by also the dress of fiction she devises for his treatise. Commenting on phalerae in this passage, Remigius correctly takes the word to mean “ormanemta fabulosa,” though he adds that it is also used for “the superfluous ornamentation of language.”29 Martianus’ special use of the word phalerae makes it the equivalent of the twelfth-century modus integumentalis, as Radulphus recognized in his gloss on Alan’s faleras poete.
Though in his two major literary works Alan requests and exploits the integumental mode, the “phaleric” style of Martianus Capella, in his pastoral writings he consistently advises clerics to eschew difficult and embellished language, which he finds unsuited to Christian discourse. “Preaching,” he counsels, “must not glitter with the ornaments of speech [phaleris verborum], with the purple vestments of rhetorical colours, not should it be pitched too low in words conveying the bare minimum; it should ‘hew to the golden mean’.”30 Natura, or natural philosophy, may assume the artful sublimities of the grand style, but in preaching the middle style is required. Similarly, at the conclusion of the Liber potentientialis, Alan justifies his use of the plain or middle style in that work by asserting that he did not want to risk the kind of falsehood that a more “stellar” style might favour: “Malui enim verborum utens planitie, veritatis assequi limitem, quam colorum stellas assequendo, incurrere falsitatis errorem.”31 In one of his own sermons, “De Pascha, ad magistros clericorum,” he declares that lectio theologica, which he associates with the “substantial bread of allegory,” does not desire “the flowers of rhetoric, not the ornaments of speech, but humble sayings” (“nec ditionum phaleras, sed humiles sententias”).32
When Alan discredits phalerae verborum in this way, he recalls St. Ambrose, not Macrobius. Writing of the lowly shepherds’ response to the angelic choir (“Transeamus usque ad Bethleem, et videamus hoc Verbum quod factum est, sicut Dominus ostendit nobis”) Ambrose had commented : “God did not turn to colleges filled with troops of learned men, but to simple ordinary people who did not know how to ornament [phalerare] and colour what they had heard.”33 Elsewhere, St. Ambrose had compared Job’s mode of knowledge with that of Plato and Cicero: Job attained insight “nec eloquentiae phalerandae gratia, se veriatis probandae.”34 The eloquence of wise pagans may indeed screen truth, as twelfth-century proponents of the concept of integumentum were eager to demonstrate, but there is no doubt that Ambrose and Alan viewed phalerae verborum as the device of those who could not speak openly of truth revealed in the fullness of time, humbly to the humblest of witnesses. Such “phaleric” writers are like Natura, unable despite their eloquence to speak of a mystery they cannot grasp.
The idea that phalerae verborum are the devices of gentile writers who cannot pronounce “videamus hoc Verbum quod factum est” is also reflected in the language of a Cistercian abbot, Alan’s contemporary, who in this way began a letter to a scholar unsure of religious vocation:
Writing to my beloved, I have not taken pains to work up frothy turns of phrase or to polish ornately worded [phalerati sermonis] sentences. Indeed, having given myself over to the service of God, I cannot write to you grandiloquently. With someone steeped in the writings of a pagan, I should not take up the mysteries of divine law, but rather give him a foretaste of plain and simple truths, saying with the apostle: “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat” (I Cor. 3:2).35
Although it could be argued that Alan’s stern view of phalerae verborum is a mark of Cistercian influence, and that he, in effect, condemns his own literary works by taking such a strict approach to Tullian eloquence, “one might better argue,” with J. M. Trout, “that Alan has two styles: one for the poet, the other for the preacher.”36 In the Regulae Theologicae, Alan writes that a Catholic theologian should avoid verborum involucra in order to be clearly understood;37 like William of St. Thierry, who had criticized Abelard for using the term involucrum because of its supposed associations with Eriugenian “heresy,”38 Alan seems to have regarded involucra with a jaundiced eye, at least if such involucra wound their way into Christian discourse. This is in accord with his conviction that, since the advent of Christ, the gospel could be preached openly, no longer latent in the shadowy figures of the Old Testament.39
But if the preacher should steer clear of the involucra and phalerae verborum, the poet, who, like Natura, must keep to his proper sphere in the use of figurative language, may legitimately indulge in stellar subtleties. In doing so, he follows lovingly in the footsteps of the ancients, freely choosing a style older writers were bound to use. The integumental mode was fit, after all, for the embellishment of human knowledge, not of revealed truth, and so long as the poet did not dare to clothe Christian doctrine in fabulous ornaments, he might invest natural philosophy with all the splendid fashions of antiquity.
Natura in the De planctu defines the limited scope and serious nature of the integumental mode. We have noted that she dare not speak of man’s redemption, and that she does not permit her figurative discourse to stray far beyond her own concerns. She is careful, moreover, to distinguish her form of narrative from less creditable kinds. Indignant that the dreamer indiscriminately accepts “the shadowy figments of poets to which the activity of poetic art has given imaginative shape,”40 she condemns those poets who either shamelessly expose naked falsehoods or cloak falsehoods with verisimilitude. Like Macrobius, she contrasts the “childish cradles of poetry” with the more rational discourse of philosophy, and declares that the fables attributing perverse sexual behaviour to the gods must not be countenanced. (This despite her own myth about peccant Venus – but Venus, of course, is a fabulous goddess, her numen long extinguished.) Going beyond Macrobius, she says that when poets speak of many gods, they lie. But Natura does admit that a lying poetic cortex may conceal a sweet kernel of truth, and that poetsmay join together “historical” events with fabulous “jests” in an elegant structure, which combination may produce a more elegant, expressive narrative.41 Natura herself, however, constructs a purely mythic narrative in her story about Venus, but one which is “adorned with the riches of thought” (W 471; M 454). To her chagrin, the dreamer disrupts her weighty eloquence to inquire about Cupid, a subject poets have obliquely treated “sub integumentali involucro” (W 470-71; M 454). In scornful deference to his boyish mentality, Natura obliges with a “theatralis oratio” on the topic of Love, then resumes her mythic narrative in a style “paululum maturior” (W 475; M 456). Thus Natura’s art, wile it cannot avoid flashy turns of phrase and fabulous ornament, has a serious philosophical purpose and uses phalerae not to deceive but to maintain a kind of sumptuous verbal chastity.
Nevertheless, Alan’s view of the bound and fictive nature of the integumental mode, which can be inferred from Natura’s speech, creates a negative force in the De planctu whereby Natura and her alter ego. Genius, are subtly undermined. If Natura cannot speak of certain things and must defer to Theology (W 455; M 445), Genius cannot produce images free from the intervention of Falsehood. Although he is assisted by inscrutable Truth, he is dogged as well by Falsehood, who succeeds in marring whatever Truth has helped to shape (W 519; M 480). Fraus was one of the companions of the eloquent Mercury in the De nuptiis,42 and she returns to haunt the natural ingenium of the poet, i.e. Genius, depicting the truths of philosophy.43 In the Anticlaudianus, Fraus resurfaces as a vicious threat to the new man; her weapon is her tongue, thick with “dulcibus . . . verbis” and “phaleris dictorum” (IX. 334-35, p. 195). The “phaleric” style, despite the chaste and noble use to which it can be put, was never in Alan’s eyes a vehicle for higher truth, but a vivid and literally sophisticated means of conveying what was accessible to human reason. Natura’s poetic explanation and denunciation of human vice, Hymen’s eloquent embassy to Genius (“penes quem stellantis elecutionis astra lucescunt” [W 510-511; M 476]), and Genius’ concluding “excommunication” of the vicious, all express Natura’s power and at the same time confirm her weakness; she cannot exceed the limit of her authority (W 510; M 476), which is to chide and condemn those who have abandoned reason. The De planctu rings with the melancholy beauty of a style recognizing its inability to voice the certain knowledge that man is not only born through Nature to die but also reborn through Christ to live forever.
Just as Natura in the De planctu assumes the integumental mode of speech, proper to natural philosophy, so she represents in her person Macrobius’ image of a symbolically dressed Nature, hiding her principles for the vulgar. Alan describes Natura literally per integumentum, in accord with Macrobius’ teaching that the philosopher should imitate Nature’s own decorative and protective vesture. Nature herself explains that she has veiled (palliare ) her countenance “pleris . . . fiuguris” to prevent too easy an access to her mysteries (W 454-55; M 445). These figurae, giving her speech the fabulous ornaments of the “phaleric” style, also appear in her clothing as images which Alan variously terms lies, fables, phantasms, magical illusions, theatrical representation. On her diadem the “effigiata . . . effigies” of a lion (the constellation Leo) blazes, “ut fecet picturae loquebantur mendacia” (W 433; M 433). Other stars are depicted by means of “curialis scripturae phantasi” (W 434; M 433) and “sculpturae tropica figura” (W 435; M 434). Though the birds on her allegorice (W 439; M 436). Her pallium, “artificio subtili lasciviens,” displays a “fabula . . . picturae” of water-dwelling creatures, who are said to be “eleganter . . . figuratae” by means of a “picturae . . . tropo” (W 439-441; M 436-37). Terrestrial animals, including man, appear on her tunica, in “quaedam picturae incantatio” (W 443; M 437), and in an “histrionalis formae representatio” (W 443; M438). Where the insomnia of a picture represent man on her tunic, Natura’s self-styled integumentum is symbolically torn by those not respectful of her “pudoris ornamenta” (W 467; M 452). On her shoes the flowers, themselves called Natura’s pallia and sidera, blossom there “arte sophistica” (W 444; M 439). Thus Natura bears the rich embroidery of the Tullian style and the fictional imagery of the integumental mode.
Hymen and the Virtues, too, wear garments vividly but fabulously picturing their various powers. In the changing materials of Hymen’s robe “picturarum fabulae nuptiales somniabant eventus” (W 503; M 472), making it an evneloping spousal dream. Even the pure white gown of Chastity is coloured with images depicting the stories of Hippolytus, Daphne, Lucretia, and Penelope, all traced “sub commento picturae” (W 505; M 473). Temperance is clothed in garments bearing an instructive pictura, spelled out with litterae (W 506; M 474); and Largitas boasts on her dress an “imaginaria picturae probablilitas” securing its effects by magical illusion – “sophistice picturationis suae praestigio” (W 508; M 474). Though Humility’s beauty is natural, not artificial, and though her garments retain their own colour, one may find her nature represented in her dress “fabulosis picturae commentis” (W 509; M 475). Genius, Nature’s other self, wears cinematic garments, flickering with changing colours and momentary images (W 517, M 479). Only Truth is set apart as one whose clothes, indistinguishable from her body, are unfamiliar and imageless (W 518-19; M 480). By presenting all the characters in the De planctu, save Truth, as beings enfolded by bright images, Alan embodies, or rather clothes, Macrobius’ teachings in poetic form, giving Nature’s secrets the colourful habiliments of fabulous artifice. Indeed, the picturesque attire of the individual personifications reflects the nature and technique of the poetic narrative in which they appeal; the De planctu itself is a dream-vision a fabulous narrative, clothing Nature’s lore in a dazzlingly figurative, fictional style so that an “imaginaria picturae probabilitas” may be given of her workings.
Wrapped in fabulous pictures, uttering poetic fables, Natura is also an artist, inscribing a succession of fading and newly vivid images on earthen tablets (W 444-45; M 439). The garments of Genius reflect Natura’s mortal artistry, depicting images of things that for a moment lived and pass away. Genius, too, is portrayed as an artist, etching fluid images upon a hide, his right hand creating such admirable figures as Helen (a type of feminine beauty inviting natural heterosexual passion), Turnus, Hercules, Capaneus, Ulysses, Cato, Plato, Cicero, and Aristotle. The left hand of Genius draws the smudged and half-realized portraits of Thersites, Paris, Sinon, and of two literary duds, Ennius and Pacuvius (W 517-18; M 479-80). Not only are the productions of Natura and Genius doomed to mutability, disfigurement, and death, they are also liable to be downright failures, ugly and vicious shapes. To these flaws in Natura’s art Alan reverts in Book I of the Anticlaudianus, where her mistakes as well as her achievements are represented in the murals of her home. Here praising Nature’s artwork with a mixture of iron and genuine admiration, Alan exclaims that such “new” and “miraculous” pictorial skill can make what is non-existent or false take on the appearance of truth; and because the “picturing” art is creative, not argumentative, it triumphs over the sophisms of logic even though both art and logic deal in deception (I. 122-30, pp. 60-61). In the mural appear Aristotle and Plato, and here the inspired author of the Timaeus is preferred to his logic-chopping disciple. Though Plato sompniat, that is, shows as if in a dream, the mysteries of heaven and earth, his cosmic vision, bound up as it is in fiction, is more compelling than the demonstrations of logic (I. 131-134, p. 61). In this way Alan pays due homage to the power of poetic imagination.
Other ideal portraits may be seen on the murals, forming a pantheon of the poets, heroes, and wise men of antiquity, of all who have represented the nobility of human achievement under the old dispensation. Seneca, who “forges character by reason,” is there; Ptolemy rides in the chariot of Reason; Cicero splendidly adorns speech; and “Virgil’s Muse gilds many a lie and weaves from falsehood a cloak in the image of truth” (I. 135-43, p. 61). With the sapient and eloquent ancients are found fictional illustres – Hercules, Ulysses, Titus, Turnus, and Hippolytus – and together they comprise the “metaphors and dreams of truth” (“tropos et sompnia ueri,” I. 152, p. 61). Even before one sees the more recent mistakes of Nature – the tyrannical, the vicious, and those who sing antiquity vulgarly and tediously44 – one senses that even Natura’s successes are to be perceived al limited: limited to the dream-world of myth, to the insufficiencies of logic, to the bounds of human reason (whose chariot could take Seneca, as it will lead Prudencia, only to the edge of heaven), to the merely rhetorical enrichment of language, and to the golden lies of poetry. Such “metaphors and dreams of truth,” Nature’s emblems of human achievement in philosophy, logic, rhetoric, and poetry, will be shown to be completely evanescent when Prudencia encounters the marvels of Heaven. Phenomena there cannot be accounted for by natural science; all is beyond the jurisdiction of Nature; reason is powerless; mere sapientia crumbles; Tullius is speechless; Virgil’s Muse is dumb; Aristotle and Ptolemy languish (V. 367-72, p. 134). Similarly, before the Virgin Mary, Nature, logic, rhetoric, and reason are wordless, bereft of authority (V. 478-79, p. 137). “in hac Verbi copula / Stupet omnis regula” wrote Alan in his famous “Rithmus de Incarnatione Domini”;45 the rules of the Arts, rational, natural, human, cannot construe the grammar of Divinity or comprehend its tropes. Depressed by her failures and knowing the limitations of her past successes, Natura must seek God’s help to create a new and better man. In the same way the poet, conscious of the qualified achievements of the ancients and disdainful of some contemporary uses of antique themes, desires to create a new and better poem acknowledging, and upheld by, the diviner artistry of God.
At the beginning of the Anticlaudianus, Alan emphasizes the novitas of his enterprise. In his desire to prevent the aging of his dispirited Muse, he may have in mind the lapse of time since the writing of the De planctu Naturae, composed some ten to twenty years earlier.46 Perhaps he is indicating as well that he has thought of writing the Anticlaudianus for some time, without, however, executing his design until now. The “vetus . . . carta,” the old parchment, or the poem itself, regains its youth in the “newness” of writing; the carta rejoices in its emergence from “antiquas . . . latebras,” where presumably it has lain coiled without a voice (“Prologus,” 11. 4-6, p. 57). Though Alan here speaks figuratively of the renewal of his poetic energies, there is the added suggestion that he is alluding to the birth of a new poem our of old forms, the antique latebrae where truth was wrapped perforce in concealing integumenta. Then newness of the Anticlaudianus will arise, perhaps, out of the cast-off skins of old poems like the De planctu and its antique models. Radulphus’ gloss on vetus carta explains the nature of Alan’s originality. Although the carta, or poem, is “old” because its subject-matter, the four artificers Nature, God, Fortune, Vice, and their works, has existed since the time of the Fall, knowledge of this ancient materia has been wanting. “The world,” however, “moved forward into the light of revelation’” and Alan is now able to deal with materia hitherto untreated.47 For this reason, Alan’s poem, advancing like the world “into the light of revelation,” is said to rejoice “in the newness of writing.”48
The poem, therefore, embodies some kind of cognitive advance; it manifests knowledge inaccessible in antiquity, and with new words is able to express such knowledge. It moves, or at least proclaims the necessity to move, from the integumental mode suited to Nature’s realm to a kind of symbolic discourse capable of reflecting celestial theophany, The second invocation reveals this desire for “new words,” and though the fable of Prudencia’s quest for the soul of the new man is kept up after the invocation of the Heavenly Muse, her experiences involve confrontations with images that could be said to signify the “new words,” and the new figurae, which the poet become prophet now requires.49 Faith, who revives Prudencia from her ecstatic collapse before the Virgin and who gives Prudencia the mirror in which the unbearable splendour of God’s kingdom is adapted to her sight,50 is clearly of a different order from Natura and is dressed accordingly. Her garment is embroidered with “scripture . . . honestas,” the truthfulness of written words, or Scripture, and no “wantonness” (lascivia) is evident in her dress (VI. 64-65, p. 143). The poetic Muse, which disports itself in the “slender reed” of the poet who begins the Anticlaudianus (“Prologus,” 1.6, p. 57), plays no part in embellishing the clothing of Faith: Prudencia’s meeting with Theology has marked the point up to which “in fragilili lusit mea pagina versu” (v. 226, P. 131). Though Natura’s mural had playfully displayed deceptively “real” images (I. 124-25, p. 60), though the Arts personified had worn garments where the “ridens lascivia” of pictures “ludit” (III. 412, p. 101), and though the poet’s Muse had named the stars “ueri sub ymagine ludens” at the furthest reaches of the universe gained by Reason (V. 28, p. 123), Faith is not oufitted by a poet’ histrionic lies. On the contrary, she wears the theophanies of sacred history:
[Her] splendid dress indicates the authority of Mind, for Mind itself is made visible in her clothing. The garments yield a picture set out entirely in allusive figures, and which in form is drawn to represent a book. Here the living picture gives new life to the teachers of old, through whom our faith, spread throughout the world, shone clear and bright, radiating glory with its titles of honour.51
Here is depicted Abraham in a scene where Nature must yield to Faith as the very “father of our faith” prepares to sacrifice his own son. The “unnatural” event prefigures, of course, the sacrifice of Christ, a mystery Nature cannot comprehend. By example, miracle, argument, joyous testimony, and martyrdom, SS Peter, Paul, Lawrence, and Vincent, strengthen faith and continue the life of the Church. Here are no artful fables, lies, or phantasms, or images of those limited to natural philosophy; here are Scriptural figurae, numinous historical events, and images of those whose lives testify to Divine manifestation. Clearly the gown of Faith is an allegoria, not an integumentum. In John of Garland’s phrase, Faith is “ueritas in uerbis hystorie palliata.”
Faith is first described, moreover, as anterior to Reason:
For Reason does not come before Faith; rather, Fiath anticipates her and Reason at length obeys the instruction of Faith and follows her as she teaches the articles of faith. Reason engrafts these divine symbols of flesh, writing on the mind what she depicts with the pen.52
The startling phrase, “these divine symbols of flesh,” alludes to the Incarnation, which Alan has just evoked in his hymn to the Virgin at the end of Book V: in Mary’s womb the Son of God “put on the garment of salvation and clothed himself in our flesh.”53 This is the teaching Reason must accept from Faith, and the normal, rational state of man – Alan calls this thesis – undergoes an apotheosis, and ecstasy, whereby man is enabled to contemplate the things of heaven.54 Such is Prudencia’’ experience. But if the light of human reason goes out before the mystery of the Incarnation, Faith is summoned to provide a mirror for the Divine and to present historical images of Divine theophanies, by which means human vision is raised beyond Nature and fabulous device.
Theology, too, wears a gown characterized by the honestas of its form (V. 113, p. 126). Like Faith’s robe, it proclaims Nature’s inability to comprehend the workings of God; and, as if refuting Macrobius, the picture on Theology’s dress reveals the secrets of God and the divine Mind, giving definite shape to what is ineffable, boundless, and invisible. (V. 114-18, p. 26). The clarity of Theology’s picture shows “how the inferior language of Nature is utterly at a loss when it tries to express things divine: it loses the power of speech and longs to revert to its old meaning; sounds grow dumb, scarcely able to stammer, and disputes about them meaning of words are laid aside.”55 Faith’s Scriptural picture shows how Nature is confounded by Abraham’s historic act of faith; Theology’s mode of expression exposes the aphasia of Nature faced with the secrets of God. Although Theology is not clothed with the allegoriae of Faith, she exhibits, as it were, a language able to voice the ineffable and hence superior to the language of natural philosophy. Theology, like Faith, is a medium for divine manifestation.
The special nature of this medium may be elucidated by considering Alan’s proposal in the preface to the Theologicae regulae that, just as each of the Arts has its proper set of rules, theories, maxims, and proposition, so has Theology. These he terms paradoxae (because of Theology’s “immutable necessity” and “glorious subtlety”); aenigmata (because of its obcurity); emblemata (because of “the inner radiance of its meaning”); enthymemata (because these signify things hidden within the mind); and hebdomades or “prerogatives” (because of the authority of Thology).56 In the Anticlaudianus, where Alan wishes to present an emblema of celestial theophany as well as the principles of the seven Arts, the appearance of Theology at the outer limit of the Arts’ achievement marks the advent of a higher system of knowledge. Just as the costumes of the Arts picture their regularized lore, so the garment of Theology formulates her special knowledge in a design which is indeed paradoxical, enigmatic, radiantly emblematic, not wholly conformable to strict logic, and authoritative. While in a certain sense Alan’s theological propositions imitate and extend the rational procedures of the Arts (Minerva as well as God has a hand in stitching Theology’s pictura [V. 112-13, p. 126]), they also signify the irregular, arbitrary, and mysterious nature of Theology, which works to the confusion of all human systems of knowledge. These theological propositions are, furthermore, fit to be studies only by the few “who, led on by the purer mind, ascend to the ineffable, and who with an eye made more pure gaze upon the secrets of philosophy.”57
In confronting Theologia, who is clothed in these propositions, Prudencia relinquishes the rational state of thesis which produces natural philosophy “quae circa terrena versatur.” Her voyage from earth through the planetary spheres to the region of the fixed stars was a philosophical expedition in Ptolemy’s chariot of Reason. But now she achieves the level of intellectus, out of which is born “hypothetical” or “subcelestial” theology, “qua circa spirituales creaturas attenditur.” Subcelestial theology is “hypothetical” because it deals with beings under divine authority. Thus Theology shows Prudencia the angels, virgins, martyrs, and doctors as well as phenomena unaccounted for by natural philosophy, and leads her finally before the Virgin Mary. At this point Prudencia’ s ecstasy marks a new level of awareness, called intelligentia, from which issues “supercelestial” or “apothetic” theology whereby man is enabled to gaze upon the Trinity and himself to become “deified.”58 Led by Faith to the inner precincts of God’s kingdom, Prudencia eventually sees God and receives from him the anointed soul of the new, godlike man. Prudencia’s ascent, then, is from natural philosophy through subcelestial theology to supercelestial theology: from the fabulous “metaphors and dreams of truth” through the truthful propositions of Theology to truth incarnate in historical figurae, in the symbola of the Sacraments and Creed, and n the symbolic gift of the divine soul. Because, as Theology’s gown reveals, God “conceives everything . . . by means of a trope and by the expression of a figure,”59 Prudencia discovers the language of Divine manifestation, the Word made flesh, in the emblems of Theology and in the historic and dogmatic symbols of Faith. It is no wonder that the poet desires the “new words of the prophet” in order to witness this transformation of language.
Crowned with a diadem of twelve jewels and wearing garments shining with lunar silver and solar gold, the puella poli, Theology bears a resemblance to the mulier in the Apocalypse of St. John 13:1, traditionally understood as the Virgin Mary or more properly as the Church. If Alan intends such an association, then Theology is truly an authoritative and apocalyptic figure demanding the prophetic tongue. Her gold and silver garments may also signify the union of divine and human natures in Christ.60 Because God reveals himself in the garment of our humanity, theology’s dress can give a definite picture of Divinity. The apotheosis, the ecstasy, of Prudencia is possible, to use Alan’s terminology, because of the hypothesis of God, who humbles himself by descending to the state of human thesis and even to the hypothesis of our misery in his guiltless suffering on the Cross.61 To encounter Theology one ascends to emblems of the Incarnate God, divine tropes and figures, and thus to language and images incarnating the ineffable.62
Despite Alan’s preference for the language of theology, he did not scorn the discipline or the speech of natural philosophy. Prudencia may trancsend nature’s domain, but, symbolically equipped with complete knowledge of the Arts and with the approval and assistance of Reason, she attains the suburbs of Heaven. At the beginning of the Anticlaudianus, therefore, Alan solicitously acknowledges his Muse, Clio, whom Radulphus names “doctrina” or, more precisely, “doctrinam quaerens” and whom other glossators understand as “apeintia” or “meditacio rerum.”63 She is, then a poetic figure for human knowledge derived from a meditation upon things of this world, just as Apollo is a mediator for naturalia.64 The invocation of Apollo, and thus the choice to present natural philosophy is the poetic integumental mode, is a necessary first step if Alan is to deal with God the Maker: initially the author must treat or Nature as artificer “for through the things that were created visible, invisible things are understood, and through knowledge of creatures ascent is made to knowledge of the Creator.”65 Nature is, after all, the vicar of God, supernally delegated as “coiner” of images (De planctu, W 469; M 453), and it is through an understanding of her principles that one begins to glimpse the high artistry of God. The author, then, must hearken first to Apollo, assimilating the poetic philosophy of the ancients before daring to summon more Olympian assistance. In respecting the style and content of ancient philosophy, he is also paying tribute to the divine ordering of the natural world and of the human intelligence which mirrors, perceives, and expresses such order. Certainly, a poet would be over bold if he were to jettison the considerable achievements of the ancients and trust to untutored ingenium in the narration of an epic journey commencing in the underworld of terrestrial creation.
The poet’s sapiential journey through this underworld and thence to heavenly mysteries mirrors Prudencia’s quest. The figure of Prudencia, also called Phronesis and Sophia, is well suited to the spanning of human Arts and to the quantum leap from knowledge directed by reason to insights revealed by theology, because she embodies activity of the intellect,66 signified in the poem by her variable stature. Now she strikes heaven with her head, and now she returns to earth and to the limitations of human restraints (I. 298-302, p. 66). Although her ambiguous stature makes her akin to Boethius’ Philosophia, Prudencia differs from Philosophia in that she is an energetic cardinal virtue rather than a synthetic figure representing the furthest reach of human wisdom;67 she is capable of operating within the sphere of Nature but is also able to be infused with grace. The Virtues, Alan believed with Cicero, came under the jurisdiction of Nature, but he argued further that these same natural powers could be informed by caritas so that, changed in mode but not in essence, naturalia become gratuita.68 Prudencia’s ability to make the journey from the realm of nature to the sphere of grace is rapturously commended by Natura in the De planctu; there she uses Prudentia as a synonym for sapientia and praises it as the power which can deify man. It is the lucifer singularis of human night, the redemptio specialis of human misery (W 490; M 465). In the Anticlaudianus, Prudencia is contrasted with her sister Reason: while Prudencia is depicted as a young woman, physically beautiful; and, like Natura in the De planctu, promising hidden delights (I. 296-97, p. 65; W 432, M 433), Reason is a matron who, despite her intellectual accomplishments does not seem to possess the same energy and sweetness as Prudencia, described s holding out her arms as if to embrace whomever she meets (I. 292-93, p. 65). In praising the fitness of Prudencia for the proposed mission, Reason emphasizes her sister’s unflagging courage and intelligence; she has the correct spirit for the endeavour as well as the requisite natural philosophy (II. 95-147, pp. 75-77). Prudencia, then, is that motion of the intellect that not only encompasses naturalia but also impels humanity towards divinity.
Prudencia’s dress (I. 303-315, p. 66) is emblematic of her ties with Nature and Philosophy and of her motion towards the divine. It is woven of fine thread, like Philosophy’s gown, and like Natura’s it displays a pictura of the species of things in a dreamlike panorama. The naturalia here depicted are like the images Natura engraves on earthen tablets and like the images on Genius’ robe: they live and die in testimony to natural mutability. Like the dresses of Boethius’ Philosophy and Alan’s Natura, Prudencia’s garment is torn in some places, but torn with a difference. In the De consolatione and in the De planctu, the tears represent, respectively, warring philosophical sects and heresies and the unnatural behaviour of man, but here Prudencia is said to unclasp the gown in order to tear it herself:
She unfastens the robe in pieces, about to rip it apart in various places; the garment appears to deplore and bewail the reproaches inflicted on it.69
If Natura’s fabulously vivid dress may be understood as a philosophical integumentum, then Prudencia’s robe, bright with dream-images of mutable life, is also such an integument, but one which she is about to rend. The poet, too, will reject the ream-imagery of Apollonian inspiration for divine trope; his work weaves, then severs, the fine cloak of poetic philosophy to present the finer dress of theology and faith.
If Alan in the De planctu Naturae and the Anticlaudianus demonstrates the uses and limitations of natural philosophy and of the integumental mode used by poets protectively to embellish the secrets of Nature, does he also demonstrate, in the Anticlaudianus, what kind of symbolic writings might best present supra-natural mystery? Certainly in his descriptions of the clothing of Theology and Faith he indicates that such essences are to be enveloped with truthful, not fabulous, “pictures,” whether they be the propositions of theological science analogous to but transcending those of the Arts, or Scriptural, historical figurae revealing a power beyond formulation by earthly disciplines. But if Alan in this way shows how the Christian poet might stop lying with the ancients – decorous and instructive though the lies may be – and assume a mode of symbolism equal to the task of reflecting celestial theophany, he himself does not essentially alter the fictitious nature of his narrrative after announcing that he will put aside Apollo’s lyre and speak the new words of the prophet. Even in his references to God and Heaven at this point he employs “integumental” epithets: the Heavenly Muse is “Musa Ioui,” Heaven is Olympus (V. 271-72, p. 131). The fable of Prudencia’s quest continues: her encounters with the Virgin, God, and Noys are none the less embedded in a fictional matrix; the description of Fortuna’s dwelling is wholly fabulous in mode; and the ensuing psychomachia is equally enclosed by poetic invention. If one were to claim that integumentum becomes allegoria after Alan relinquishes Apollo’s lyre, then how would one account for the patently unhistorical cortex of the narrative? Faith may be dressed per allegoriam, but Alan’s narrative continues to look very much like an integument.70
The Anticlaudianus may be said to present a theory of modes, but in practice it does not wholly realize that theory. The transformation of “the allegory of the poets” into “the allegory of the theologians” is not satisfactorily achieved until Prudencia becomes Dante, Reason Virgil, Theology Beatrice, in a poem whose movement is modelled to some extent on that of the Anticlaudianus but whose mode is radically altered. Though Alan, acutely conscious of the modernity of his work, intended to raise philosophical verse to a pitch not dared by the ancients, or indeed by Boethius, it remaided for Dante to grasp fully the implications of the theoretical extension of Macrobius’ teaching: the author of a sacred epic must use historical allegories analogous to71 and continuous with72 those of Scripture, the allegory of the theologians and not of the poets,73 if he is to find proper figures for the unimaginable. But the Divine Comedy, if it is not quite a fiction, had been called a fiction purporting not to be one;74 it is a supremely poetic form of allegoria blending myth and history in such a way that the basically fictitious mode of the poem can be seen in a new light. If fiction imitates “the allegory of the theologians,” then it is not longer the lying envelope for truth but an imaginatively particular and existential revelation of truth, and inseparable from the truth it reveals. Dante is bold enough to invoke Apollo to help him describe Paradise, signifying by this means, perhaps, that the poet’s lyre need not be discarded in Heaven. It can be tuned to a higher pitch and resonate with no false notes, if the poet’s fiction imaginatively subsumes the numinous patterns of Christian typology.
Despite his consciousness of the historical figurae of Faith, Alan of Lille was unable to develop the implications of these figurae for the Christian poet. Except for the description of Faith’s garments in the Anticlaudianus, his writings do not stress the intimacy of historia with allegoria; in fact, Alan characteristically treats the literal and historical sense of Scripture as the least important, least productive, least palatable, and least “advanced” level of meaning. Historia is bitter myrrh, giving the soul no delectation;75 it is thin whey, offering little sustinence.76 He associates historia with ratio, tropologia with intellectus, and anagoge with intelligent, which alone contemplates things divine.77 Although Prudencia in the Anticlaudianus experiences ecstasy before the Virgin, an ecstasy which marks a passage from ratio to intellectus at the very least, more probably a passage from intellectus to intelligentia, and although Prudencia is revived by Faith wearing the dress of sacred history, Alan elsewhere suggests that historia has no power to life the soul beyond transitory things. Impatient to discover the sensus mysticus, he has little reverence for historia; he attacks the Jews precisely because of their attachment to the letter of the Old Testament. Frequently he reminds us of how the letter kills and how the spirit gives life.78 Curiously, the poet who rejects Apollo’s music for the new words of the prophet shows little of the prophet’s grasp of the significance of history; Dante, still calling upon Apollo’s aid in Paradise, firmly allies revelation with time, place, event.
The Anticlaudianus was surely meant, however, to demonstrate how the “metaphors and dreams of truth” devised by the ancients and exhibited in his own De planctu Naturae, might be transcended by a new, overt kind of theological epic. In the Anticlaudianus Alan may have been attempting, as well, to use a style less grand, less “phaleric” than that of the De planctu; his prologue modestly disclaims stylistic and sententious refulgency. When in Book V he declares that he shall not longer be the author but the pen of his song, he characterizes his proposed new plainness of style using images identical to those he applied to the style of his Liber poentitentialis. He will be the “spina rosam gestans, calamus noua mella propinans, / . . . luctem uas, nectare manans” (V. 276-77, p. 131). In the Liber poentitialis he justifies his unadorned style by claiming:
Non dedignetur rosam in spineto quaere, nec pudeat in vase luteo mellitum poculum invenire. Solet . . . in fragili calameo mel inveniri.79
But despite the identity of purpose revealed in these images, the style of the two works is manifestly different. C. S. Lewis’ contempt80 for the “monotonous rhetoric” of the Anticlaudianus, unfair though that contempt might be, nevertheless was not prompted by the universal doctor’s plain, pellucid style. His near “rankling personal hatred “ of Alan was provoked by those very phalerae verborum which Alan, at other times sounding rather like C. S. Lewis, also felt Christians could do without.
It could be argued that Alan, as poet, was caught up in a mode of writing which he, as theologian, knew could not properly convey Christian doctrine. But as theologian he knew also that men cannot see God as the angels do: we see God not “reciprocally” but by means of an “ymaginaria visio,” by which one thing is comprehended in another, as the beauty of Atalanta is perceived in that of her daughter Partenope.81 In the fabulous De planctu Naturae, which Alan specifically calls an imaginaria visio (W 522; M 482), we may be expected to perceive the power of God in his vicar Nature; but such divine manifestation is strictly limited to what natural philosophy might encompass. In the equally fabulous but loftier Anticlaudianus we are given an imaginaria visio of celestial theophany, just as Prudencia is given a mirror by Faith to reflect the otherwise insupportable brightness of Divinity. Although she enters angelic reams, Prudencia lacks reciprocal vision. With the mirror, however, she may meet God almost face to face: this imaginaria visio takes one further than the dreamlike apparitions of the De planctu. But although the Anticlaudianus suggests truer media for figuring theophany, both it and the De planctu may be termed fabulous imagiariae visiones. While Alan, the eloquent poet of the Incarnation, knew how the Christian author might find images for divine manifestation, he could not, in the end, given them satisfactory incarnation. He would need to begin with Beatrice.
University of Guelph.
1 Alain de Lille, Anticlaudianus, ed. R. Bossuat, Textes Philosophiques du Moyen Age, 1 (Paris 1955), “Prologus,” ll. 1-9, p. 57 [reading dejecta, 1.2, with Migne, PL 210.487]. All references to the Anticlaudianus are to Bossuat’s edition; book, line and page numbers will be placed in parentheses after quotations from or references to the poem. English translations of passages from the Anticlaudianus are my own.
2 “Mittelalter-Studien XVIII,” Zeitschrift für Romanische Philologie 63 (1943) 260. Alan’s invocation of God is in Book V, ll. 278-305, pp. 131-32.
3 Jane Chance Nitzche, The Genius Figure in Antiquity and the Middle Ages (New York and London 1975) 114.
4 E. R. Curtius has collected examples of the topos “Kontrasierung der heidnischen und der christlichen Dichtung” in “Die Musen in Mittelalter,” Zeitschrift für Romanische Philologie 59 (1939) 129-88 and in “Mittelalter-Studien XVIII,” 258-67. These studies form the basis for his chapter on “The Muses” in European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, tr. Willard R. Trask (New York 1953) 228-46.
5 Radulphus de Longo Campo notes that emblema properly signifies frustrum auri, literally “a little piece of gold,” and that emblema is therefore the aurea regula of theology, because of its dignity (Radulphus de Longo Campo, In Anticlaudianum Alani commentum, ed. Jan Sulowski, Zrod a do Dzie ow Nauki i Teckniki, XIII [Wroclaw, Warsaw, Cracow, and Gda sk 1972] 22, ll. 23-26). Amongst the special rules of theology, Alan of Lille includes emblemata, so called “propter internum intelligentiae splendorem . . . , quia puriore mentis comprehenduntur” (PL 210.622). Alan’s use of the word emblema suggests not so much its original meaning “inlaid work” or “raised ornament,” as it does in the later meaning “symbolic image,” because the emblem contains an inner significance perceived by keenness of insight.
6 Ambrosii Theodosii Macrobii Commentarii in Somnium Scipionis, ed. Jacob Willis (Leipzig 1970), 1.2.7-21, pp. 5-8; Macrobius, Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, tr. William Harris Stahl, Records of Civilization, Sources and Studies, XLVIII (New York and London 1952) 84-7.
7 “Alani Liber de Planctu Naturae,” ed. Thomas Wright, in The Anglo-Latin Satirical Poets and Epigrammatists of the Twelfth Century, II (London 1872; rpt. Wiesbaden 1964) 453; PL 210.444; “Jam nimis nostrae ratiocinationis series evagatur, [quae: Migne] ad ineffabilem dietatis arcanum tractatum audeat [audet: Migne] attollere, ad cujus rei intelligentiam nostrae mentis languescunt suspiria.” All future references to the De planctu Naturae will be to Wright’s edition; page numbers will be enclosed in parentheses and inserted after passages cited. The column numbers from Vol. 210 of Migne’s Patrologia latina will also be supplied. Translations of passages from the De planctu are my own.
8 M.-T. d’Alverny points out that Alan appears to have been one of the first to use the term “natural philosophy” to designate knowledge accessible to human reason (Alain de Lille: Textes inédits, avec une introduction sur sa vie et ses oeuvres, ed. Marie-Thérèse d’Alverny, Etudes de philosophie médiévale, LII [Paris 1965] 35).
9 Although some medieval commentaries on and adaptations of the Anticlaudianus identify the novus homo with Christ, recent students of the poem are inclined to view him either as a timeless ideal mirroring Christ but unrealizable in this life (R. H. Green, “Alan of Lille’s Anticlaudianus: Ascensus Mentis in Deum,” Annuale Medievale 8  10-11) or as the equally ideal, but less Christ-like (because too courtly and aristocratic), model of a twelfth-century honnête homme (J. Huizinga, Über die Verknüpfung des Poetischen mit dem Theologischen bei Alanus de Insulis, Mededeelingen der Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen, Afdeeling Letterkunde Deel 74, Serie B, No. 6 [Amsterdam 1932] 69-70; Guy Raynaud de Lage, Alain de Lille: Poète du XIIe siècle, Université de Montréal, Publications de l’institut d’Etudes Médiévales, 12 [Montréal 1951] 99; Marc-René Jung, Etudes sur le poème allégorique en France au moyen âge, Romanica Helvetica 92 [Bern 1971] 77-80). For reasons which I give at length in “The Identity of the ‘New Man’ in the Anticlaudianus of Alan of Lille,” Viator 10 (1979), I would argue, however, that the divinus homo is neither Christ nor an ideal figure more or less reflecting Him; he appears to be, rather, the divinely consecrated Philip II Augustus of France, envisioned in the poem as a Carolus redivivus heralding the millennium. Alan’s attempting of the prophetic mode from Book V onwards, then, is bound up with the subject of his epic – the creation of a new man through whom God manifest himself in history. In my reading of the poem, the new man is not entirely abstract, nor is the coming age of gold out of time.
10 In Anticlaudianum Alani commentum, p. 67, ll. 7-11.
11 Ibid. P. 67, ll. 12-15: “sicut enim phalerae velant equum et ornant, sic integumentalis modus loquendi aliquid misticum velat et claudit interius et ornat verba exterius.” Another glossator, apparently independent of Radulphus, also understood phaleras as the “modum loquendi integumentalem quem habent poete,” distinguishing the poet’s special mode from that of authors in general (British Museum, Add. MS. 24567 [13th century], fol. 2r.).
12 Integumentum and its sometime synonym involucrum have been the subject of many recent studies: M.-T. d’Alverny, “Le cosmos symbolique du XIIme siècle,” AHDLMA 20 (1954) 31-81; M.-D. Chenu, “Involucrum: Le Mythe selon les théologiens médiévaux” AHDLMA 22 (1956) 75-79; Edouard Jeauneau, “L’Usage de la notion d’integumentum à travers les gloses de Guillaume de Conches,” AHDLMA 24 (1958) 35-100 (rpt. In “Lectio Philosophorum”: Recherches sur l’Ecole de Chartres [Amsterdam 1973] 127-92); Hennig Brinkmann, “Verhüllung (‘integumentum’) als literarische Darstellungsform im Mittelalter,” in Der Begriff der Repraesentatio im Mittelalter: Stellvertretung, Symbol, Zeichen, Bild, ed. Albert Zimmermann (Berlin and New York 1971) 314-39; Brian Stock, Myth and Science in the Twelfth Century: A Study of Bernard Silvester (Princeton 1972) 49-55; Peter Dronke, Fabula: Explorations into the Uses of Myth in Medieval Platonism, Mettellateinische Studien und Texte, IX (Leiden 1974) 13-67.
13 See Stock, pp. 36-37, n. 42; The Commentary on the First Six Books of the Aeneid of Virgil Commonly Attributed to Bernardus Silvestris, ed. Julian Ward Jones and Elizabeth Frances Jones (Lincoln, Neb. and London 1977) ix-xi.
14 The Commentary on the First Six Books of the Aeneid . . . , p. 3, ll. 14-15: “Integumentum est genus demostrationis [sic] sub fabulosa narratione veritatis involvens intellectum, unde etiam dicitur involucrum.” The Jones’ edition of the Commentary is based on three manuscripts of the work, rather than on the single one used by Wilhelm Riedel in his edition, Commentum Bernardi Silvestris super sex libros Eneidos Virgilii (Griefswald 1924).
15 MS. Cambridge, University Library, Mm. I. 18, fol. 1 rb. This passage is edited by Stock, p. 38, with minor changes from the trascription by Edouard Jeauneau, “Note sur l’Ecole de Chartres,’ Studi medievali, 3rd series, 5 (1964) 856-57. The Latin of the parts I have translated is: “Nam et ibi historia et hic fabula misterium habent occultum . . . . Allegoria quidam diuine pagine, integumentum uero philosophice competit. Non tamen ubique, teste Macrobio, inuolucrum tractatus admittit philosophicus. Cum enim ad summum, inquit, deum stilus se audet attollere, nefas est fabulosa, uel licita, admittere.”
16 William of Conches commented on Macrobius’ statement “ideo et nullum ei [i.e., of the Good, ] simulacrum” (In Somnium Scipionis, ed. cit. I.2.16, p. 7, ll. 9-10): “id est, nullam imaginem ante incarnationem” (“Selections from William of Conches’s commentary on Macrobius,” in Dronke, Fabula, p. 74).
17 In Fabula, pp. 119-20, Peter Dronke claims that “the terms in which Bernard [i.e., the De nuptiis commentator] formulates his subdivision and distinction are unusual, and his usage does not appear to have gained wider acceptance.” Winthrop Wetherbee, in Platonism and Poetry in the Twelfth Century: The Literary Influence of the School of Chartres (Princeton 1972) 113, characterizes “Bernard’s” definition of the relationship between integumentum and allegoria as “somewhat simplistically lucid,” and denies that “Bernard” implies any limitation in the scope of integumentum.
18 Dante et la tradition de l’allégorie (Montréal 1970) 66.
19 The Parisiana Poetria of John of Garland, ed. and tr. Traugott Lawler, Yale Studies in English, 182 (New Haven 1974) 104. The date, sources, and tradition of the Parisiana Poetria are discussed on pp. xxii-xvi.
20 In Anticlaudianum Alani commentum, pp. 39-40, 44. The classifications of Scientia in the De nuptiis commentary (fol. 5ra-5va) are printed as Appendix C in Jones and Jones, eds., The Commentary on the First Six Books of the Aeneid, pp. 131-133; the transcription, however, is unreliable. The various parts of Scientia are also listed in the Aeneid commentary (ibid. p. 32, ll. 13-19), but Radulphus uses the fuller exposition given in the De nuptiis commentary. His definition of Poesis combines those from the two commentaries: “Poesis igitur est scientia claudens in metro vel prosa orationem gravem et illustrem” (p. 44, l. 5); cf. Aeneid commentary, “Poesis vero est poetarum scientia habens duas partes, metricum poema et prosaicum” (ed. cit. p. 32, ll. 18-19) and the De nuptiis commentary: “Poesis vero est scientia claudens in metro orationem gravem et illustrem” (ibid. p. 132). While the De nuptiis commentator lists sapientia, eloquentia, poesis, and mechania as parts of Scientia, Radulphus replaces sapientia consistently with philosophia: e.g., “Philosophia siquidem removet ignorantiam et informat contrarium scilicet agnitionem” (p. 39, ll. 21-23); cf. De nuptiis commentary (fol. 5ra) “Sapientia enim fugat ignorantiam, formans agnitionem” [Jones and Jones incorrectly have “formas agnitionem”].
21 The De planctu Naturae was the work of “Alani minimi Capellae” according to some manuscripts, and thus the diminutive author’s debt to Martianus was slyly recognized; see M.-T. d’Alverny, Textes inédits, p. 33.
22 This discussion of the four styles is to be found in the longer version of the Documentum de modo et arte dictandi et versificandi; the relevant passage from Bodleian Library MS. Laud Misc. 707 is printed by Lawler, ed., The Parisiana Poetria of John of Garland, pp. 328-29. John of Garland says that the Tullian style is used by vates “when they write in prose, and by masters in academic compositions” (ibid. pp. 107-07); but Geoffrey, while noting that the Tullian style is not concerned with metre, locates its characteristic gravity and colour in verse as well as prose.
23 Ibid. p. 329: “et hoc modo scribendi maxime vsus est Alanus De Planctu Nature; maxime enim ibi tropicis locucionibus vsus est, in quibus tocius eloquencie floridior est ornatus. Inde est quod libro Architrenii proper tropicarum locucionum celebrem precellenciam nullus liber nodernorum similis inuenitur, quamuis Bernardus Silvester in prosaico dicatur psitacus, in metrico philomena.”
24 Anticlaudianus, I. 140-41, p. 61; De planctu, pr. VI, W 489-90, M 464; De planctu, pr. IX, W 517, M 479.
25 “The House of Fame,” II 853-63, in The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, ed. F. N. Robinson, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, Mass. 1957) 290.
26 The name varies in different manuscripts; see Wright, p. 480 and passim.
27 W 467-68; M 452: “Ab altiori enim sumens initium excellentiorique stylo, meae volens seriem narrationis contexere, nolo ut prius plana verborum planitie explanare proposita, vel profanis verborum novitatibus profanare profana, verum pudenda aureis pudicorum verborum phaleris inaurare, variisque venustorum dictorum coloribus investire.”
28 Martianus Capella [De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii], ed. Adolfus Dick (Leipzig 1925; rpt. with addenda by Jean Préaux, Stuttgart 1969) III, 221-22, pp. 80-82.
29 Remigii Autissiodorensis Commentum in Martianum Capellam Libri III-IX, ed. Cora E. Lutz (Leiden 1965) 1, ll. 2-5: “PHALERAS id est ornamenta fabulosa. Cui parat? PARVO LIBELLO meo. Phalerae proprie sunt ornamenta equorum, Grece ephipia. Ponuntur abusive pro superfluo ornatu verborum.”
30 “Summa de arte praedicatoria,” cap. I, in PL 210.112C: ” . . . praedicatio enim non debet splendere phaleris verborum purpuramentis colorum, nec nimis exsanguibus verbis debet esse dejecta, sed Medium tenuere beati.”
31 Alain de Lille, Liber poenitentialis, ed. Jean Lougère, Analecta Mediaevalia Namurcensia 18 (Louvain and Lille 1965) II, 192.
32 PL 210.209. In his “Summa de arte praedicatoria,” cap. XXVI (PL 210.163D), Alan proposes: “Melior est vera simplicitas, quam abundans loquacitas: melior est sacta rusticitas, quam peccatrix eloquentia.” On the significance of simplicitas with regard to monastic intellectula studies, see Jean Leclercq, “Sancta Simplicitas,” Collectanea Ordinis Cisterciensium Reformatorum 22 (1960) 138-48.
33 “Expositio Evangelii secundum Lucam,” II, 53, in PL 15.1653: “Non gymnasia choris referta sapientum, sed plebem Dominus simplicem requisivit, quae phalerare audita, et fucare nesciret.”
34 “De officiis ministrorum,” I, 12, 44, in PL 16.40.
35 Pembroke College, Cambridge, MS.154, fol. 169v: “Scribens dilecto meo, nec spumeum verborum ambitum nec phalerati sermonis sententias elimare curaui. Diuino namque mancipatus obsequio, pomposa tibi scribere uerba nec potui, ne debui gentilis scripturis imbuto diuine legis archana molire, sed plana quoque uel leuia prelibare cum apostolo dicens: ‘lac potum dedi non escam’ (I Cor. 3:2).” I am grateful to L. Braceland, S. J., for drawing this letter to my attention and for providing the transcription, which is more accurate than that found in C. H. Talbot, “A Letter of Roger, Abbot of Byland,” Analecta Sacri Ordinis Cisterciensis 7 (1951) 224.
36 John M. Trout, “The Monastic Vocation of Alan of Lille,” Analecta Cisterciana 30 (1974) 50.
37 “Regulae Alani de Sacra Theologia” XXXIV, in PL 210.637C-D.
38 In Disputatio catholicorum patrum adversus dogmata Petri Abaelardi, cited in M.-D. Chenu, Nature, Man and Society in the Twelfth Century: Essays on New Theological Perspectives in the Latin West, selected, ed. and tr. by Jerome Taylor and Lester K. Little (1957; Chicago 1968) 322. But as M.-T. d’Alverny has pointed out, the word involucrum is not found in any of the known works of John Scotus (“Le cosmos symbolique du XIIe siècle,” p. 35).
39 “Contra haereticos,” III (Contra Judaeos), ii, in PL 210.402C; “Liber in distinctionibus dictionum,” [argentum], PL 210.710A. The Old Testament is for Alan the wax containing the honey of the New Testament (PL 210.854B), the husk of the nuclear New Testament (970C), and the gospel’s umbra (985D) and its velamentum (993B).
40 W 465; M 451: ” . . . umbratilibus poetarum figmentis, quae artis poeticae dipinxit industria . . . ”
41 W 465-66; M 451: “Poetae aliquando historiales eventus joculationibus fabulosis, quasi quadam eleganti structura, confoederant, ut ex diversorum competenti junctura ipsius narrationis elegantior pictura resultet.”
42 De nuptiis I, 51-52; Dick, p. 28, l. 17.
43 Taking Genius as the Artist who follows Nature, as “both the archetypal or ideal poet-philosopher-orator and the agent of art and inspiration (i.e., modern “genius”); see Nitzsche, p. 112.
44 I. 165-86, pp. 61-62: Nero, Midas Ajax, Paris, and Davus have been identified respectively as Henry II of England and his four sons Henry, Richard, Geoffrey and John (C. M. Hutchings, “L’Anticlaudianus d’Alain de Lille: Etude de chronologie,” Romania 50  10-12). “Meuius” refers to Walter of Châtillon, author of the Alexandreis, and “Ennius” to Joseph of Exeter, author of De bello trojano.
45 Ed. M.-T. d’Alverny, in “Alain de Lille et la Theologia,” L’Homme devant Dieu: Mélanges offerts au Père Henri de Lubac (Parie 1964) II, 126-28.
46 G. Raynaud de Lage, in Alain de Lille: Poète du XIIe siècle, p. 42, proposes that the De planctu was written between 1160 and 1170; M.-T. d’Alverny (Textes inédits, p. 34) concurs. The actual date of composition is unknown. The Anticlaudianus is dated between 1181 and 1184 (see Hutchings, p. 13).
47 In Anticlaudianum Alani commentum, p. 67, ll. 33-36; “Vetus . . . incognitionis ratione et ratione antiquitatis, quia a principio mundi fuit haec materia scillicet quattuor artifices et eorum opera statim scilicet post lapsum Adae. Ratione incognitionis quia mundus prodierat in lucem manifestationis. Hucusque enim nullus tractavit hanc materiam.” The four artificers — God, Nature, Fortune, and Vice — are the materia (p. 19, ll. 7-8) of the poem, as the accessus often found with the Anticlaudianus elaborates (“Summarium” in Bossuat, pp. 199-201.).
48 Ibid. p. 68, ll. 1-2: “Gaudet . . . iuvenescere ratione cognitionis, quia scilicet prodiit in lucem manifestationis, Ideo subiungit novitate scribendi.”
49 The idea that the poet must yield to the prophet is found in a poem by John Scotus, who writes that “moysarum [i.e., musarum] cantus” are replaced for the Christian by the “dicta prophetarum” (“Iohannis Scotti Carmina,” III. i. 13-15, in Poetae Latini Aevi Carolini, III, ed. Ludovicus Traube, Monumenta Germaniae Historica [Berlin 1896] 527).
50 The angelic mind, cleansed of intervening images, experiences theophany of “divine manifestation” simply and “reciprocally;” but humanity requires a medium, a speculum, in order to glimpse the indivisible (P. Glorieux, ed., “La Somme ‘Quoniam Homines’ d’Alain de Lille,” AHDLMA 20  282-83).
51 VI. 31-37, p. 142: “cultusque fatetur / Arbitrium mentis, mens ipsa uidetur in illo. / Picture cedit uestis que tota figuris / Scribitur et forma pretendit scripta libelli. / Hic renouat ueteres uiuens pictura magistros, / Per quos nostra fides totum diffusa per orbem / Clariut et laudum titulis preclara refulsit.”
52 VI. 24-28, p. 141: “Ipsam namque Fidem Racio non preuenit, immo / Ipso Fides hanc anticipat Fideique docenti / Obsquitur tandem Racio, sequiturque docentem / Articulos Fidei, diuinaque simbola carnis / Inserit hec, scribens animo quot arundine pingit.” Alan defines the articles of faith as symbola in “Expositio Prosae de angelis,” Textes inédits, p. 201; in his Distinctiones (PL 210.964), Alan terms both the sacraments and the articles of faith symbola.
53 V. 485-86, pp. 137-38: ” . . . nostreque salutis / Induit ipse togam, nostro uestibus amictu.”
54 Theologicae Regulae, XCIX, PL 210.673-74.
55 V. 119-23, pp. 126-27: “Quomodo Nature subiectus sermo stupescit, / Dum temptat diuina loqui, uiresque loquendi / Perdit et ad ueterem cupit ille recurrere sensum, / Mutescuntque soni, uix barbutire ualentes, / Deque suo sensu deponunt uerba querelam.”
56 PL 210.621-22.
57 Ibid. 622: ” . . . qui ductu purioris mentis ad in[e]ffabilia conscendunt, et puriori oculo philosophiae secreta perspiciunt.”
58 The various levels of consciousness, thesis, intellectus, intelligentia, and what issues from them, naturalis philosophia, subcelestis theologia, supercelestis theologia, are set forth in Alan’s Summa “Quoniam homines,” I, p. 121, and are summarized by Radulphus, In Anticlaudianum Alani commentum, p. 42. Radulphus does not, however, relate them directly to the narrative of the Anticlaudianus.
59 V. 124-27, p. 127: “Cuncta . . . mediante tropo, dictante figura / Concipit.”
60 Distinctiones [‘aurum’], PL 210.715B. Listing the various significations of gold in theological discourse, Alan includes “Deus,” (quoting Ezechiel 1:4, “Et in medio ignis quasi electri”): “Ibi electrum dicitur Christus, quia, sicut in electro aurum unitur argento, sic in Christo est divina natura humanae untia, et per aurum divinitas, per argentum intelligatur humanitas.”
61 Theologicae Regulae, XCIX, PL 210.673-74.
62 Cf. “Quoniam homines,” I, p. 119.
63 In Anticlaudianum Alani commentum, p. 24, ll. 28-30; “sapientia,” B. M. MS. Cotton Vespasian A. 10, fol. 2r; “meditacio rerum,” B. M. MS Royal 15 B XX, fol. 4r.
64 “Invocat ergo Phoebum id est naturalem scientiam optat, qua mediante tractare possit de naturalibus”: In Anticlaudianum Alani commentum, p. 68, ll. 10-12.
65 Ibid. II. 14-16: “quia per ea quae facta sunt visibilia comprehenduntur invisibilia et per cognitionem creaturarum ascenditur ad cognitionem Creatoris.”
66 On the nature of prudentia, see Alan’s “De Virtutibus et de vitiis et de donis Spiritus Sancti,” cap. I, art. 2, ed. Odon Lottin, Psychologie et morale aux XIIe et XIIIe siècles, Problèmes d’histoire litteraire de 1160 à 1300, VI (Gembloux 1960) 51-52.
67 Concerning Philosophia as the pinnacle ofhuman reason rather than a divine Intelligence, see Pierre Courcelle, La Consolation de Philosophie dans la tradition littéraire. Antécédents et postérité de Boèce (Paris 1967) 21-22.
68 “De Virtutibus,” cap. I, art. 1, pp. 47, 51 and art. 3, p. 59.
69 I. 313-15, p. 66: “in partes uestem diffibulat istam / In uariis scissura locis, lugere uidetur / Vestis et illata sibimet conuicia flere.”
70 While noting that “the propriety of a mediating fiction becomes more and more questionable” once Alan assumes the prophet’s voice, R. H. Green contrasts Alan’s allegorical mode with that of typology and fable in order to elucidate its unique ability to convey ‘the mind’s awareness of its own cognitive processes” (“Alan of Lille’s Anticlaudianus: Ascensus Mentis in Deum,” pp. 6, 9). Alan’s poem becomes, then, like Faith’s mirror and Theology’s gown, a mediating speculum for celestial theophany, whereby knowledge of the divine is given to man “per imaginabilia et caduca” (“Quoniam homines,” II, p. 283). Nevertheless, Alan does make very clear distinctions between the types of language appropriate to the realms of Nature and Grace, and one is led to expect some alteration in the symbolic mode once heaven is broached. There are, as H. R. Jauss has pointed out, isolated instances where typological allegory is mixed in with abstract allegory, e.g., the gift of Pudor makes the new man a second Elias and another Joseph (VII, 116, p. 160); but these do little to support the idea that Alan here was attempting to link allegory with history (“La Transformation de la forme allégorique entre 1180 et 1240: D’Alain de Lille à Guillaume de Lorris,” in L’Humanisme médiéval dans les littératures romanes du XIIe au XIVe siècle [Paris 1964] 116). Still, one is left trying to account for Alan’s challenge to Macrobius, his assumption of the prophetic voice, his unmistakable portrayal of the allegoriae of Faith.
71 Charles S. Singleton, Dante Studies, I, Commedia: Elements of Structure (Cambridge, Mass. 1957) 61.
72 A. C. Charity, Events and Their Afterlife: The Dialectics of Christian Typology in the Bible and Dante (Cambridge 1966) 257.
73 Although R. H. Green, in “Dante’s ‘Allegory of Poets’ and Medieval Theory of Poetic Fiction,” CL 9 (1957) 118-28, characterizes the Commedia as poetic rather than theological allegory (contra C. S. Singleton, “Dante’s Allegory,” Speculum 25  78-83), it is clear that the Commedia, though “fictive,” is written in different mode from that of the integumental Convivio. Singleton’s response to Green, in “The Irreducible Dove,” CL 9 (1957) 129-35, reiterates his “firm persuasion [the phrase appears to be borrowed from William Blake] that the kind of allegory which Dante gives us in the Comedy has its root and life-spring in the mystery of the Incarnation, by which I mean that such allegory is not even thinkable without the conception of the Logos made flesh and dwelling among us, and the mystery of two natures joined” (p. 134).
74 Singleton, Dante Studies I, p. 62.
75 “Sermo in die Epiphaniae,” Textes inédits, p. 243.
76 “Liber sententiarum et dictorum memorabilium,” PL 210.240B.
77 “Sermo in die Epiphaniae,” Textes inédits, p. 243.
78 E.g., “De Pascha, ad magistros clericorum,” PL 210.207A. Alan’s disdain for historia is noted by Christel Meir, “Zum Problem der allegorischen Interpretation Mittelalterlicher Dichtung,” Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache und Literature, 99 (1977) 266-68 (a review article concerning itself, in part, with the recent work by P. Ochsenbein, Studien zum “Anticlaudianus” des Alanus ab Insulis [Frankfurt and Bern 1975]). This excellent study of the Interpretationsdilemma posed by the Anticlaudianus came to my attention too late to make full use of it here. My treatment in this paper and elsewhere of Alan’s use of the integumental mode proposes at least a partial answer to the questions raised my Meier concerning the literary form of the Anticlaudianus (pp. 268-69); and, like Meier, I would stress the importance of the influence of the philosophical allegorists (Calcidius, Macrobius, Servius, Boethius) in determining the literary theory behind it.
79 Liber poenitentialis, p. 191. Cf. Also “Summa de arte praedicatoria,” cap. I, PL 210.114A.
80 The Allegory of Love: A Study of Medieval Tradition (1936; rpt. London 1967) 99-100.
81 “Expositio Prosae de angelis,” Textes inédits, p. 204; cf. Radulphus, In Anticlaudianum Alani commentum, p. 24, ll. 20-23.