Latin mythographic tradition came to fruition in the twelfth century. Medieval mythography assumed the universe of Plato's Timaeus as its implicit context. Within this cosmic framework, the Olympian gods of the classical poets coexisted with a host of personifications, philosophical concepts, natural forces, or attributes of the divine, giving rise to the tradition of “learned” mythography. From the Timaeus, the middle Ages learned a distinctively Platonic conception of myth and its function: myths need not be borrowed from the poets, but can be created for a philosophical purpose to translate the truths of intellect into sensible terms. Thus, the poetic and philosophical uses of myth were perceived as largely complementary. The text most immediately responsible for ensuring that perception was the De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii of Martianus Capella. The De nuptiis is a manual of the Liberal Arts in which cosmology and mythology are precisely correlated, and mythographical analysis involves no more than translation from one set of terms to the other. Under Martianus's influence, the Olympian gods, the Muses, and other mythical beings descended to the medieval schools invested with a rich orthodoxy of cosmological, pedagogical, and ethical associations.
Anne L. Clark
This article focuses on the shaping of subjectivity by the circumstances of medieval Latin literary culture in the field of spirituality. Medieval Latin spirituality can be characterized as the Christian practice of cultivating the self, through reading, hearing, seeing, singing, meditation, often institutionalized and experienced communally, so as to experience the objects of this world—books, architecture, images, nature, other people—as leading one into the divine presence. The focus is on Latin spirituality, which illuminates a domain that was largely limited to the professed religious: men and women who lived in institutions which trained them for literacy and the practice of literate spirituality. This implies that medieval Latin spirituality was, for most of the Middle Ages, a religious practice of the educated. This “professional” or elite constituency opened up in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries with increased literacy and the creation of texts offering versions of Latin spirituality for lay practice.