Sunday, March 19, 2006

The life and times of Peter Abelard

Prior to this semester, I had never heard of the guy. But his story is, well, memorable, to say the least.

Peter Abelard was an 11th century philosopher in Paris, was a proponent of a Conceptualist philosophy, and wrote his most famous work Sic et Non (Yes & No).

While he's known for the above, what he is most famous for is his legendary love affair with his student Heloise...

The following snippet from Wikipedia tells you all you need to know:
Becoming tutor to the girl, he used his power for the purpose of seduction, and she returned his devotion. Their relations interfered with his public work, and were not kept a secret by Abélard himself. Soon everyone knew except the trusting Fulbert [Heloise's uncle]. Once her uncle found out, the lovers were separated, only to meet in secret. Héloïse became pregnant, and was carried off by Abélard to Brittany, where she gave birth to a son. To appease her furious uncle, Abélard proposed a secret marriage, in order not to mar his prospects of advancement in the church; but Héloïse opposed the idea. She appealed to him not to sacrifice for her the independence of his life, but reluctantly gave in to pressure. The secret of the marriage was not kept by Fulbert; and when Héloïse boldly denied it, life was made so difficult for her that she sought refuge in the convent of Argenteuil at Abélard's bidding. Immediately Fulbert, believing that her husband, who had helped her run away, wanted to be rid of her, plotted revenge. He and some others broke into Abélard's chamber by night, and castrated him. The priesthood and ecclesiastical office were, thereby, canonically closed to him. Héloïse, not yet twenty, consummated her work of self-sacrifice at Abélard's jealous bidding that she never again share romantic love with a man, and became a nun.
High drama in the 11th century!!!


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