A Pastoral or Academic approach to wrath in Thomas of Ireland’s dictionary of quotations, the Manipulus florum (1306)?
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This paper compares the discussion of anger in Thomas of Ireland’s Manipulus florum (1306) with that found in important reference works for preachers from about the same period. Richard and Mary Rouse’s major study of the text argued that Thomas’ “best-selling” and alphabetically arranged Latin dictionary of classical and Christian quotations was intended as an aid to preachers during the late medieval bourgeoning of popular preaching. The Rouses associated the MF with other genres developed during the thirteenth century to digest the Christian intellectual tradition. Through such tools, it is often assumed, the achievements of scholastics trickled down to pulpits and reached the masses of less educated clergy and lay people. Although the text remained a standard reference work for centuries, Chris Nighman has recently argued that the MF was not originally intended for popular preaching, but as an edifying anthology for university students preparing for ecclesiastical careers. In supporting Nighman’s contention, this paper highlights the gap between scholastic teaching and more popular moral instruction relating to emotional restraint. The MF reflects the nuanced patristic approaches to emotions taken by thirteenth-century scholastics, a period in which the moral valance of emotions were subjected to academic scrutiny. Anger was frequently a paradigm for discussing human responsibility for passions. The MF’s lemma for ira contains the sorts of classical and patristic sententiae from which students built their arguments and which also provided them with guidance in both moderating vicious wrath and in cultivating virtuous zeal through reason—skills needed by aspiring ecclesiastics. Aids used by preachers, however, such as collections of distinctiones by Nicholas de Byard, or William Peraldus’ Summae de vitiis et virtutibus, were most concerned with showing the sinfulness and dangers of wrath, which was one of the seven deadly sins. Treatment of zealous anger was usually perfunctory or downplayed. This pastoral approach to wrath had a venerable tradition, since its emphasis on rhetorical force, rather than intellectual argument, was practical for popular moral instruction. Preachers drawing on such tools sought to counter sinful wrath among their listeners by eliciting feelings of disgust, shame, and fear of the dangers and punishments caused by anger. Although the MF has features useful for preachers, and overlaps with the message conveyed by other tools, it does not appear to be an artifact of popular preaching. The differences highlight the variations in religious teachings about anger in the thirteenth century.