By Nancy Mandeville Caciola
Concurrently genuine and unreal, the lifeless are humans, but they don't seem to be. The society of medieval Europe constructed a wealthy set of imaginitive traditions approximately demise and the afterlife, utilizing the useless as some degree of access for puzzling over the self, regeneration, and loss. those macabre preoccupations are glaring within the common acclaim for tales concerning the back useless, who interacted with the residing either as disembodied spirits and as dwelling corpses or revenants. In Afterlives, Nancy Mandeville Caciola explores this notable phenomenon of the living's courting with the lifeless in Europe through the years after the 12 months 1000.
Caciola considers either Christian and pagan ideals, displaying how sure traditions survived and advanced through the years, and the way attitudes either diverged and overlapped via varied contexts and social strata. As she exhibits, the intersection of Christian eschatology with quite a few pagan afterlife imaginings—from the classical paganisms of the Mediterranean to the Germanic, Celtic, Slavic, and Scandinavian paganisms indigenous to northern Europe—brought new cultural values concerning the useless into the Christian fold as Christianity unfold throughout Europe. certainly, the Church proved strangely open to those affects, soaking up new photos of demise and afterlife in unpredictable model. over the years, besides the fact that, the patience of local cultures and ideology will be counterbalanced by means of the results of an more and more centralized Church hierarchy. via all of it, something remained consistent: the deep hope in medieval humans to compile the residing and the useless right into a unmarried neighborhood enduring around the generations.
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Extra info for Afterlives: The Return of the Dead in the Middle Ages
The faithful honored their dead with festive meals and commemorations at regular intervals throughout the year, just as their pagan ancestors had always done as part of the grieving process. Custom called for commemorations to be held at the gravesite at regular intervals after interment; archaeological excavations of ancient cemeteries have found widespread use of feasting mensae (stone tables) atop burial plots, which served as gathering places for these commemorative picnics. These mensae often were fitted with libation tubes that funneled offerings of drink from the tabletop down 9.
Thus, even after the assimilation of formerly pagan populations to the Christian church, earlier cultural practices and imaginative constructs persisted, whether as active deeds of resistance or as inheritances of custom and folklore that continued to be considered meaningful. People who venerated saintly relics still thought of their dead ancestors as nearby, active presences; Christians who prayed for the swift salvation of their kinfolk sometimes buried them with pagan tokens or grave goods; many with faith in the resurrected Christ still feared the dangerous dead who might roam from their graves.
On the one hand, this book literally concerns different versions of afterlife, stemming from different cultural and regional milieux. The book takes death and afterlife as a springboard for an inquiry into how cultural attitudes shifted, diverged, and overlapped through varying contexts and social strata. It juxtaposes universalizing discourses such as theology and medicine with regional case studies, in order to cast light upon the multiplicity of cultural traditions in the Middle Ages and their conceptualizations of the human.
Afterlives: The Return of the Dead in the Middle Ages by Nancy Mandeville Caciola