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994 Reviews

vocabulary. A minimal list of the entries in Klaeber's glossary affected by Robinson's


study (not counting the Old English words already mentioned) includes bealu and its
compounds, druncen, ece (1. 2796), feorcypS, fyren (1. 2480), gefrignan, gepinged (1. 1837),
ginne (1. 466), heafodsegn, hrafyl, hringas (1. 1507), leoht (1. 2469), meegen, modsefa (1. 349),
oretta/oretmtscg, sod, sum, sylf, yrre (1. 1447), and the phrases purh anes craft . . . selfes
mihtum (11. 699-700). 2
Beowulf and the Appositive Style shows us how, in the absence of any historical or
literary context, we can still find meaning and value in the minutiae of the poem, in its
apposite words and phrases. Fred Robinson's anatomy of the poet's art has taken us a
giant's step closer to recovering the Beowulf bequeathed to us.

ROBERTA FRANK
University of Toronto

2
Printers' gremlins (no doubt furious with Robinson for seeing through the Grendelkin) have
burrowed into his index, s.v. Beowulf, to verses individually discussed: page references seem to be
to another book.

JEFFREY BURTON RUSSELL, Lucifer: The Devil in the Middle Ages. Ithaca and London:
Cornell University Press, 1984. Pp. 356; illustrated. $24.95.
LIKE its two predecessors in this projected tetralogy, Lucifer is at once a history and a
criticism of traditional theodicy, a study of the concept of the Devil and particularly his
metaphorical function as a personification of evil. Covering the millennium A.D. 500-
1500, Lucifer succeeds Russell's first two studies: The Devil (1977), which explores the
ancient world up to the New Testament, and Satan (1981), which treats early Christian-
ity through Augustine.
In Lucifer, Russell's system of categorizing his sources is worthy of particular atten-
tion. Beginning with the early period, Russell deliberately organizes the material with
some overlap (Byzantine, Muslim, Latin, vernacular, theological, popular, visual) and
attacks his authors seriatim. Typically he introduces a writer, then describes his views
of God, evil, and the Devil. These topics are connected, Russell suggests, because once
a need to discuss evil is conceded, an author implicitly attributes to God either a certain
impotence before, or a toleration of, evil. As the personification of evil, the Devil is
free, or is permitted, to exploit those limitations. Thus Russell treats beliefs about the
Devil's actions together with the great themes of theology and philosophy as they were
expressed in many literary genres and levels of discourse.
For Russell the break that separates the early from the high Middle Ages comes with
Anselm and the shift in soteriology from theories of ransom (in which Christ's Passion
annuls the Devil's claims to humankind — Satan, pp. 83-84) to that of satisfaction (in
which the Devil is not mentioned, and Christ, as the God/Man, restores the right
relationship between humanity and God —Lucifer, p. 171). As a result of this shift, the
Devil is relegated "to an unnecessary and subsidiary role in the central doctrine of
Christianity" (p. 172). Although, as Brian McGuire has shown, Anselm's theory of
expiation only gradually permeated theological circles, with perhaps the greatest resis-
tance coming from the Franciscans, Russell maintains that both Abelard and Thomas
Aquinas furthered Anselm's approach. Nevertheless, despite the tendency among the
leading minds of the age to decrease the Devil's role in theology, Russell demonstrates
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a continuous popular receptiveness of clerical works illustrating Lucifer's relevance
and activity, whether in folklore (chap. 4), Old English poetry and preaching (chap. 6),
homiletic, liturgical, and hagiographic literature (chap. 8), or the mystery and miracle
plays (chap. 9).
In the later Middle Ages, under the influence of "nominalism, mysticism, and
humanism," the Devil was further "demoted" (p. 301). In contrast to these trends,
which made rapid progress in learned circles, the Devil retained his force in much of
the more broadly aimed media of art, drama, hagiography, and vernacular literature,
though Russell considers the Inferno and Piers Plowman as exceptions, for in these two
works Lucifer functions as a "negative center" (p. 216).
Because of this millennial debate over the centrality or marginality of the Devil, and
not only because of groups like the Bogomils and Cathars, the question of dualism is
fundamental to the whole book. Far from taking the doctrinaire position that Chris-
tianity has no room for dualism, Russell perceives a broad spectrum of views. Invoking
"the dualism inherent in mainstream Christianity" (p. 49) and contending that "an odd
convergence of Catholic and Cathar views lies beneath the surface" (p. 190), he shows
that dealing with, or working out, those dualist assumptions required intense effort on
the part of virtually every major Christian thinker.
In addition to his full description of the tension between monism and dualism,
Russell also abandons the simplistic dichotomy between clerical and lay culture by
identifying a range of contacts between these two groups. For example, in analyzing
the West after about 1100, he describes "literature and popular imagination" where
"the struggle between Christ and Satan for the rights to humanity persisted in spite of
the theologians' efforts to replace it" (p. 263). His greatest contribution comes in
isolating a third, middle level of religious discourse, consisting of a certain group of
authors, particularly preachers and hagiographers, who function as a "hinge" between
Latin and vernacular sources, between theologians and the uneducated public (p. 213).
"The sermon was the chief vehicle for linking elite with popular culture" (p. 301). He
treats vernacular literature, and particularly the mystery plays, in a similar vein. In a
chapter devoted to the Scholastics, Guibert of Nogent is cited as an example of a
"learned person who was not a theologian" (p. 181). Although many women writers
like Hildegard of Bingen, Herrad of Landsberg, and Mechtild of Magdeburg could be
mentioned in the same way, nonetheless the very inclusion of Guibert demonstrates a
bold approach to the categorization of sources.
Any major study of the Devil should, one expects, devote considerable attention to
that period when the Devil was actually worshipped or believed to be worshipped by
large numbers of people. Although diabolism might provide a test for his sociology of
sources, Russell, the author of two books on witchcraft, is terse in his discussion of the
subject. Given the declining importance granted the Devil by leading intellectuals and
the continuous receptivity of the populace to traditional themes of Luciferan lore, one
might expect the diabolism attributed to witches by their persecutors to be a natural, if
extreme, outcome of the constant fascination with the Devil on the part of audiences
for art, drama, hagiography, vernacular literature, and preaching. Yet Russell main-
tains that "witchcraft was less a popular movement than an imposition of ideas by the
intellectual elite upon the uneducated" (p. 299). Or again, "witchcraft was thus for the
most part invented by the scholastics and the inquisitors, but popular belief in witch-
craft was promoted by the sermons and exempla of Caesarius of Heisterbach, Jacques
de Vitry, and other popular preachers" (p. 301). The question, I think, is not whether
ideas about witchcraft originated in scholarly or popular circles, but whether many
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clerics themselves, particularly the friars, those who "were at least as terrified of the
Devil as their flocks" (p. 213), originated in the same social and cultural milieu as their
popular audience. This uncertainty shows that the role of the "pivotal" authors of
manuals needs further amplification — surely an agenda for many scholars. The
authors of preachers' manuals, men such as James of Voragine, Humbert of Romans,
William Peyrault, and Stephen of Bourbon, or the authors of inquisitors' manuals,
such as Anselm of Alessandria and Bernard Gui, worked with the conclusions estab-
lished by the theologians, but they did not themselves "do" theology or "prove" its
conclusions in the manner of thinkers like Anselm, Abelard, and Thomas Aquinas.
Thus Russell's "hinge" authors operated at a level below that of the theologians who
actually developed the soteriology of satisfaction. It is this pivotal group of compilers,
inquisitors, and preachers, not the leading theologians, who came closest to sharing the
fears of their flocks. There are functional distinctions, divisions of labor, specialties
within the clergy that still need to be articulated.
Aside from the matter of orthodoxy and the role of the Inquisition, what difference
did these beliefs about the Devil make for the institutional, sacramental, liturgical life
of the church? In Satan, Russell clearly indicated the power claimed for baptism
against the Devil. In the millennium covered by Lucifer, the church used the orthodox
belief in the Devil to encourage confession, although Russell omits this development.
John of Damascus had stated that "the fall is to the angels what death is to men. For
just as there is no repentance for men after their death, so is there none for the angels
after their fall." This sentiment was reaffirmed by Thomas Aquinas in the Summa
theologiae I. q.64 a.2, and by many others. Russell recounts this opinion of the Damas-
cene and states that his explanation "passed into Western scholastic thought, but it is a
weak argument" (p. 40). Instead of commenting on the validity of the statement, we
might notice the close link it establishes between the fallen Lucifer/Satan and repen-
tance.
In the period discussed in this volume, the church began gradually to complement
the unique act of baptism (followed by the possibility of penance — also a once-in-a-
lifetime ritual in the early centuries), to involve its ministers increasingly in the lifelong
monitoring of believers by means of a repeatable sacrament of penance, a transition
that culminated in the requirement of annual confession by Lateran IV in 1215.
Throughout the thirteenth century preachers claimed that confession frees sinners
from the clutches of the Devil. These trends suggest that penance should have the
importance in this volume that baptism has in Satan.
This is a book with which one wrestles. As a study in intellectual history it is challeng-
ing; as an essay on theodicy it is sometimes seductive for its subject matter and some-
times harsh in its advocacy. Following the pattern of his two previous volumes, Russell
uses the opening and closing chapters to define, and urge acceptance of, the Devil's
reality. He challenges a series of writers (in this volume, those of the Middle Ages)
whose positions on the problem of evil he presents and opposes. He prefers the
approach of modern process theologians (p. 308). In this sense, therefore, Lucifer
participates in the tradition of the grand humanistic essay. In another sense, Lucifer is
an accomplished study in medieval cultural history. Sometimes, however, the two
approaches conflict as, for example, when Russell implies that Nicholas of Cusa missed
"a great opportunity for understanding evil as part of the coincidence of opposites," an
idea which "C. G. Jung saw .. . clearly five centuries later" (p. 282; cf. The Devil, p. 31).
In sum, Russell's work offers a sensitive and highly differentiated view of the
medieval religious community, a bold reclassification of the sources of theology and
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literature, a trenchant analysis (particularly valuable on dualism) of major trends in
medieval religion found in many languages and media, and a compendium of concise
accounts of evil by the major writers of the Middle Ages.

ALAN E. BERNSTEIN
University of Arizona

HOWARD H. SCHLESS, Chaucer and Dante: A Revaluation. Norman, Okla.: Pilgrim Books,
1984. Pp. xiv, 268. $85.
"THE INDEFATIGABLE in pursuit of the untenable" was the Wildean phrase with which
Schless characterized the over-zealous source hunter in a previous essay on Chaucer's
use of Italian ("Transformations," in Geoffrey Chaucer, ed. D. S. Brewer [1974], p. 184).
His warnings about in vacuo comparisons between authors and his objections to the
"linked atoms" approach to Chaucerian creativity are well known both from the
"Transformations" essay and from an earlier paper on Chaucer and Dante (in Critical
Approaches to Medieval Literature, ed. D. Bethurum [I960]), and they are repeated again
here. The present study maintains a cautious approach to the question of Chaucer's
dealings with Dante, although its conclusions are ultimately less reductive than those of
the previous essays.
The process of "revaluation" begins with a discussion of Chaucer and fourteenth-
century Italy (pp. 3-7 closely follow pp. 189-95 of "Transformations"; pp. 10-27
offer a new account of Chaucer's acquaintance with Italy and the differences, as
Schless sees them, between him and Dante), and it ends with a brief summary of the
issues dealt with (pp. 245—47). In between, the book's other chapters survey the
specific ascriptions of material to Dante in seven main works or groups of works (from
the House of Fame to the minor poems), documenting and scrutinizing claims about
sources and parallels line by line. The catalogue of ascriptions for the House of Fame is
preceded by some fairly extensive exploration of questions about dating and the na-
ture of Chaucer's "imitation" of Dante (pp. 29—42), while other chapters (including the
two longest ones, on Troilus and the Canterbury Tales) preface their lists with no more
than a page or so of broader observations.
Such a procedure doesn't encourage continuous reading, and the chapters in most
cases end rather abruptly with the final ascription in the work concerned. This effect,
however, appears to be deliberate; the siren voices of certain sorts of speculation have
gone studiously unheeded in the interests of surveying "the vast majority of... posited
ascriptions" and considering "Chaucer's use of Dante as objectively . . . as possible"
with reference to a "broader context" in "the social and literary background" of the
period (p. ix).
The listing method has several virtues; it is useful, for instance, that certain ill-
founded ascriptions that have found their way into the notes of standard editions
should be duly scrutinized and challenged as they occur. On the other hand there are
some modifications that could profitably have been made; for instance, the more
improbable ascriptions that few people have taken seriously (and even the indefati-
gable S. L. Bethel considered doubtful) could perhaps have been consigned to an
appendix — thus freeing space for attention to really contentious or significant cases.
It would also have been helpful to have a major topic such as the representation of
Fortune — which is given some prominence in the chapter on the minor poems (pp.