Tuesday, June 20, 2017

15C Garden of Love and Earthly Delights - Roses, & Chivalry in the Walled Garden or Locus Amoenus

Illuminated Maniscripts 1490 [folio 006r] MS. Douce 195 (Le roman de la rose) Robinet Testard

The Roman de la Rose ("Romance of the Rose") is a medieval French poem written as an allegorical dream vision as courtly literature. The poet hopes to both entertain and to teach others about the Art of Love. At various times in the poem, the "Rose" of the title is seen as the name of the lady, and as a symbol of female sexuality in general. Similarly the other characters' names function both as regular names and as abstractions illustrating the various factors that are involved in a love affair. The poem was written in 2 stages. The first 4058 lines, written by Guillaume de Lorris circa 1230, describe the attempts of a courtier to woo his beloved. Around 1275, Jean de Meun composed an additional 17,724 lines for the Roman de la Rose, in which allegorical personages (Reason, Genius, and so on) hold forth on love in the tradition of the Code of Chivalry.

Much of the story is set in a walled garden or locus amoenus, one of the traditional settings and forms of chivalric literature. A locus amoenus usually has 3 basic elements: trees, grass, and water. Often, the garden will be in a remote or walled situation and function as a landscape of the mind. This garden can also be used to highlight the differences between urban and rural life or be a place of refuge from the processes of time and mortality. In some works, such gardens also have overtones of the regenerative powers of human sexuality marked out by flowers, springtime, and goddesses of love and fertility.