Getting Medieval on Love

Lady Smut

tumblr_m36au3BiYV1qcp1zx By C. Margery Kempe

The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne…

You know the drill: hearts, flowers, chocolates.  Great if you’re in a relationship, but often not so great if you’re not.  Many a lonely soul on Valentine’s Day wonders: How did all this insanity get started?

Well, you can blame the Middle Ages for a lot of it. Sure, St. Valentine himself was really a third century Roman martyr, clubbed to death and then beheaded (not a propitious start for the holiday, eh?).  The holiday itself, however, got going only when Geoffrey Chaucer set his poem The Parliament of Fowls on that day.

The dreaming narrator, who’s fallen asleep reading Scipio’s book on dreaming (!), finds Scipio leading him through Venus’ temple.  On the walls are the stories of suffering lovers and the acolytes of the goddess gather near.  The dreamer, who claims to be ignorant…

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