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Hrabanus Maurus, Liber de laudibus Sanctae Crucis (click on image for more information)
Week 7. Hrabanus Maurus: De rerum naturis
We now travel several hundred years into the future: Augustine wrote his encyclopedic De civitate Dei in the first years of the fifth century C.E.; this week, we will read from the encyclopedia written by Hrabanus Maurus some four hundred years later, in the early 9th century. Welcome to the European Middle Ages!
When Hrabanus Maurus composed his De rerum naturis, he found himself in entirely different circumstances than Augustine: although Hrabanus profited from the so-called "Carolingian Renaissance" and the learned activities promoted by King Charlemagne, his information about the world was strictly circumscribed within the bounds of Christian tradition. All of Hrabanus Maurus's writings, even his "scientific" writings, are filled with allegory, and his rhetoric resounds with the words and phrases of Catholic Mass and prayers.
Although Hrabanus Maurus's Latin is easier to read than Augustine's, you may find his world much more strange and alien to our modern ways of thought: try to transport yourself to the cultural outpost of Fulda, to the east of the modern city of Frankfurt. This is Hrabanus's world, and you will get a chance this week to try to imagine the world as Hrabanus understood it.