Hugh of Saint Victor

Last updated
Hugh of Saint Victor, C.R.S.A. Hugostv.jpg
Hugh of Saint Victor, C.R.S.A.

Hugh of Saint Victor, C.R.S.A. (c. 1096 – 11 February 1141), was a Saxon canon regular and a leading theologian and writer on mystical theology.

Canons regular Roman Catholic priests living in community under a religious rule

Canons regular are canons in the Catholic Church who live in community under a rule. They are often organised into religious orders. They are distinguished from clerics regular, a later form of religious life where members also live life under a rule, in that canons regular emphasise a life lived in community. Examples of religious orders of canons regular include the Crosiers, Premonstratensians, and some Augustinians.

Mysticism Practice of religious experiences during alternate states of consciousness

Mysticism is the practice of religious ecstasies, together with whatever ideologies, ethics, rites, myths, legends, and magic may be related to them. It may also refer to the attainment of insight in ultimate or hidden truths, and to human transformation supported by various practices and experiences.

Contents

Life

As with many medieval figures, little is known about Hugh's early life. He was probably born in the 1090s. His homeland may have been Lorraine, Ypres in Flanders, or the Duchy of Saxony. [1] Some sources say that his birth occurred in the Harz district, being the eldest son of Baron Conrad of Blankenburg. Over the protests of his family, he entered the Priory of St. Pancras, a community of canons regular, where he had studied, located at Hamerleve or Hamersleben, near Halberstadt. [2]

Duchy of Saxony German duchy

The Duchy of Saxony was originally the area settled by the Saxons in the late Early Middle Ages, when they were subdued by Charlemagne during the Saxon Wars from 772 and incorporated into the Carolingian Empire (Francia) by 804. Upon the 843 Treaty of Verdun, Saxony was one of the five German stem duchies of East Francia; Duke Henry the Fowler was elected German king in 919.

Harz is a district in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.

House of Regenstein noble family

Regenstein, also Reinstein, was a Lower Saxon noble family, which was named after the eponymous Regenstein Castle near Blankenburg on the edge of the Harz Mountains of central Germany.

Due to civil unrest shortly after his entry to the priory, Hugh's uncle, Reinhard of Blankenburg, who was the local bishop, advised him to transfer to the Abbey of Saint Victor in Paris, where he himself had studied theology. He accepted his uncle's advice and made the move at a date which is unclear, possibly 1115–18 or around 1120. [3] He spent the rest of his life there, advancing to head the school. [2]

Reinhard of Blankenburg was Bishop of Halberstadt from 1107 to 1123.

A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight.

Works

Hugh wrote many works from the 1120s until his death (Migne, Patrologia Latina contains 46 works by Hugh, and this is not a full collection), including works of theology (both treatises and sententiae), commentaries (mostly on the Bible but also including one of pseudo-Dionysius' Celestial Hierarchies), mysticism, philosophy and the arts, and a number of letters and sermons. [4]

Hugh was influenced by many people, but chiefly by Saint Augustine, especially in holding that the arts and philosophy can serve theology.

Hugh's most significant works include:

Musica universalis ancient philosophical concept that regards proportions in the movements of celestial bodies as a form of music

The musica universalis, also called music of the spheres or harmony of the spheres, is an ancient philosophical concept that regards proportions in the movements of celestial bodies—the Sun, Moon, and planets—as a form of music. This "music" is not thought to be audible, but rather a harmonic, mathematical or religious concept. The idea continued to appeal scholars until the end of the Renaissance, influencing many kinds of scholars, including humanists. Further scientific exploration discovered orbital resonance in specific proportions in some orbital motion.

Boethius philosopher of the early 6th century

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius, commonly called Boethius, was a Roman senator, consul, magister officiorum, and philosopher of the early 6th century. He was born about a year after Odoacer deposed the last Roman Emperor and declared himself King of Italy. Boethius entered public service under Ostrogothic King Theodoric the Great, who later imprisoned and executed him in 524 on charges of conspiracy to overthrow him. While jailed, Boethius composed his Consolation of Philosophy, a philosophical treatise on fortune, death, and other issues, which became one of the most popular and influential works of the Middle Ages. As the author of numerous handbooks and translator of Aristotle, he became the main intermediary between Classical antiquity and following centuries.

John Scotus Eriugena Irish theologian

John Scotus Eriugena or Johannes Scotus Erigena was an Irish theologian, neoplatonist philosopher, and poet. He succeeded Alcuin of York (735–804) as head of the Palace School at Aachen.

Other works by Hugh of St Victor include:

Various other works were wrongly attributed to Hugh in later thought. One such particularly influential work was the Exposition of the Rule of St Augustine, now accepted to be from the Victorine school but not by Hugh of St Victor. [24]

A new edition of Hugh's works has been started. The first publication is: Hugonis de Sancto Victore De sacramentis Christiane fidei, ed. Rainer Berndt, Münster: Aschendorff, 2008.

Philosophy and theology

The early Didascalicon was an elementary, encyclopedic approach to God and Christ, in which Hugh avoided controversial subjects and focused on what he took to be commonplaces of Catholic Christianity. In it he outlined three types of philosophy or "science" [scientia] that can help mortals improve themselves and advance toward God: theoretical philosophy (theology, mathematics, physics) provides them with truth, practical philosophy (ethics, economics, politics) aids them in becoming virtuous and prudent, and "mechanical" or "illiberal" philosophy (e.g., carpentry, agriculture, medicine) yields physical benefits. A fourth philosophy, logic, is preparatory to the others and exists to ensure clear and proper conclusions in them. Hugh's deeply mystical bent did not prevent him from seeing philosophy as a useful tool for understanding the divine, or from using it to argue on behalf of faith.

Hugh was heavily influenced by Augustine's exegesis of Genesis. Divine Wisdom was the archetypal form of creation. The creation of the world in six days was a mystery for man to contemplate, perhaps even a sacrament. God's forming order from chaos to make the world was a message to humans to rise up from their own chaos of ignorance and become creatures of Wisdom and therefore beauty. This kind of mystical-ethical interpretation was typical for Hugh, who tended to find Genesis interesting for its moral lessons rather than as a literal account of events.

Along with Jesus, the sacraments were divine gifts that God gave man to redeem himself, though God could have used other means. Hugh separated everything along the lines of opus creationis and opus restaurationis. Opus Creationis was the works of the creation, referring to God's creative activity, the true good natures of things, and the original state and destiny of humanity. The opus restaurationis was that which dealt with the reasons for God sending Jesus and the consequences of that. Hugh believed that God did not have to send Jesus and that He had other options open to Him. Why he chose to send Jesus is a mystery we are to meditate on and is to be learned through revelation, with the aid of philosophy to facilitate understanding.

Legacy

Within the Abbey of St Victor, many scholars who followed him are often known as the 'School of St Victor'. Both Achard and Andrew of St Victor appear to have been direct disciples of Hugh.[ citation needed ] Others, who probably entered the community too late to be directly educated by Hugh, include Richard of Saint Victor and Godfrey. [25] One of Hugh's ideals that did not take root in St Victor, however, was his embrace of science and philosophy as tools for approaching God.[ citation needed ]

His works are in hundreds of libraries all across Europe.[ citation needed ] He is quoted in many other publications after his death,[ citation needed ] and Bonaventure praises him in De reductione artium ad theologiam.

He was also an influence on the critic Erich Auerbach, who cited this passage from Hugh of St Victor in his essay "Philology and World Literature": [26]

It is therefore, a source of great virtue for the practiced mind to learn, bit by bit, first to change about in visible and transitory things, so that afterwards it may be able to leave them behind altogether. The person who finds his homeland sweet is a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign place. The tender soul has fixed his love on one spot in the world; the strong person has extended his love to all places; the perfect man has extinguished his.

Works

Modern editions

Latin text
English translations

See also

Related Research Articles

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite Christian theologian

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, also known as Pseudo-Denys, was a Christian theologian and philosopher of the late 5th to early 6th century, who wrote a set of works known as the Corpus Areopagiticum or Corpus Dionysiacum.

Richard of Saint Victor Scottish theologian

Richard of Saint Victor, C.R.S.A. was a Medieval Scottish philosopher and theologian and one of the most influential religious thinkers of his time. A canon regular, he was a prominent mystical theologian, and was prior of the famous Augustinian Abbey of Saint Victor in Paris from 1162 until his death in 1173.

Anselm of Laon, properly Ansel, was a French theologian and founder of a school of scholars who helped to pioneer biblical hermeneutics.

Adam of Saint Victor was a prolific poet and composer of Latin hymns and sequences. He is believed to have sparked the expansion of the poetic and musical repertoire in the Notre Dame school with his strongly rhythmic and imagery-filled poetry. In Mont Saint Michel and Chartres, Henry Adams wrote that Adam "aimed at obtaining his effect from the skillful use of the Latin sonorities for purposes of the chant."

Denis the Carthusian theologian

Denis the Carthusian (1402–1471), also known as Denys van Leeuwen, Denis Ryckel, Dionysius van Rijkel, was a Roman Catholic theologian and mystic.

Rabanus Maurus archbishop of Mainz and writer

Rabanus Maurus Magnentius , also known as Hrabanus or Rhabanus, was a Frankish Benedictine monk, theologian, poet, encyclopedist and military writer who became archbishop of Mainz in East Francia. He was the author of the encyclopaedia De rerum naturis. He also wrote treatises on education and grammar and commentaries on the Bible. He was one of the most prominent teachers and writers of the Carolingian age, and was called "Praeceptor Germaniae," or "the teacher of Germany." In the most recent edition of the Roman Martyrology, his feast is given as February 4th and he is qualified as a Saint ('sanctus').

Gilbert de la Porrée, also known as Gilbert of Poitiers, Gilbertus Porretanus or Pictaviensis, was a scholastic logician and theologian.

Walter of St Victor was a mystic philosopher and theologian, and an Augustinian canon of Paris.

Anagoge (ἀναγωγή), sometimes spelled anagogy, is a Greek word suggesting a "climb" or "ascent" upwards. The anagogical is a method of mystical or spiritual interpretation of statements or events, especially scriptural exegesis, that detects allusions to the afterlife.

Saint Hugh, Hugh of Champagne, or St Hugh of Rouen, was the grandson of Pepin of Heristal and Plectrude through their son, Drogo of Champagne, and his wife Anstrude, herself the daughter of Waratton and Ansflede. Both Waratton and Drogo were mayors of the palaces.

Abbey of Saint-Victor, Paris abbey located in Paris, in France

The Abbey of Saint Victor, Paris, also known as Royal Abbey and School of Saint Victor, was an abbey near Paris, France. Its origins are connected to the decision of William of Champeaux, the Archdeacon of Paris, to retire to a small hermitage near Paris in 1108. He took on the life, vocation and observances of the Canons Regular, and his new community followed the Augustinian Rule.

Anastasius Sinaita Byzantine theologian

Anastasius Sinaïta, also called Anastasios of Sinai, was a seventh-century Greek ecclesiastical writer, priest, monk, and abbot of Saint Catherine's Monastery at Mount Sinai.

William of St-Thierry Theologian and Abbot

William of Saint-Thierry was a twelfth-century French Benedictine abbot of Saint-Thierry, theologian and mystic who became a Cistercian monk and writer.

Hervaeus Natalis was a Dominican theologian, the 14th Master of the Dominicans, and the author of a number of works on philosophy and theology. Among his many writings may be included the Summa Totius Logicae, an opusculum once attributed to Thomas Aquinas.

Thomas Gallus French theologian

Thomas Gallus of Vercelli, sometimes in early twentieth century texts called Thomas of St Victor, Thomas of Vercelli or Thomas Vercellensis, was a French theologian, a member of the School of St Victor. He is known for his commentaries on Pseudo-Dionysius and his ideas on affective theology. His elaborate mystical schemata influenced Bonaventure and The Cloud of Unknowing.

The Glossa Ordinaria, which is Latin for "ordinary gloss", was a collection of Biblical glosses, from the Church Fathers and thereafter, printed in the margins of the Vulgate; these were widely used in the education system of Christendom in Cathedral schools from the Carolingian period onward.

Godfrey of Saint Victor French theologian

Godfrey of St. Victor was a French monk and theologian, and one of the last major figures of the Victorines. He was a supporter of the study of ancient philosophy and of the Victorine mysticism of Hugh of St. Victor and Richard of St. Victor.

Achard of St. Victor, C.R.S.A., was a canon regular, abbot of the great Abbey of St. Victor, Paris, and later Bishop of Avranches.

Andrew of Saint Victor was an Augustinian canon of the abbey of Saint Victor in Paris, a Christian Hebraist and biblical exegete. His learning "reflects a great humanist culture ... put at the service of theology," while he emphasised the literal meaning of the Old Testament "to an extent not found elsewhere in the Middle Ages."

References

  1. B McGinn, The Growth of Mysticism, (1994), p365
  2. 1 2 Catholic Encyclopedia:Hugh of St. Victor
  3. McGinn (1994), p365, gives 'around 1120' as the date.
  4. A helpful, though not necessarily complete, list of Hugh's work – along with modern editions and translations – is printed in Hugh Feiss, ed, On Love, (2010), pp15-20.
  5. Reprinted in PL 176:173-618 and in Hugonis de Sancto Victore De sacramentis Christiane fidei, ed. Rainer Berndt, Münster: Aschendorff, 2008. There is an English translation in Hugh of St Victor, On the sacraments of the Christian faith: (De sacramentis), translated by Roy J Deferrari, (Cambridge, MA: Mediaeval Academy of America, 1951). An English translation of the Prologues is made in Franklin T. Harkins and Frans van Liere, eds, Interpretation of scripture: theory. A selection of works of Hugh, Andrew, Richard and Godfrey of St Victor, and of Robert of Melun, (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2012), pp253-268.
  6. The Latin text is in Henry Buttimer, Hugonis de Sancto Victore. Didascalicon. De Studio Legendi, (Washington, DC: Catholic University Press, 1939). An older English translation is in Jerome Taylor, The Didascalicon of Hugh of St Victor, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961). A more recent translation is Franklin T. Harkins and Frans van Liere, eds, Interpretation of scripture: theory. A selection of works of Hugh, Andrew, Richard and Godfrey of St Victor, and of Robert of Melun, (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2012), pp61-202.
  7. Andrew Hughes & Randall Rosenfeld. "Hugh of St Victor". In Deane L. Root (ed.). Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online . Oxford University Press.(subscription required)
  8. An older edition of the Latin text is in PL 175:928A. The modern edition is Hugonis de Sancto Victore Opera III: Super Ierarchiam Dionysii, (Turnhout: Brepols), CCCM, vol. 178.
  9. David Luscombe, "The Commentary of Hugh of Saint-Victor on the Celestial Hierarchy", in T. Boiadjiev, G. Kapriev and A. Speer, eds, Die Dionysius-Rezeption im Mittelalter, (Turnholt:Brepols, 2000), pp160-164; D. Poirel, "Le 'chant dionysien' du IXe au XIIe siècle", in M. Goullet and M. Parisse (eds), Les historiens et le latin medieval, (Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 2001), pp151–176.
  10. For further commentary on this work, see Rorem, Paul (2008). "The Early Latin Dionysius: Eriugena and Hugh of St. Victor". Modern Theology. 24 (4): 601–614. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0025.2008.00488.x.
  11. Reprinted in PL 175:115A.
  12. These three treatises are printed in PL 176:617-740.
  13. Reprinted in PL 176. A detailed study of this work exists in Dominique Porel, Livre de la nature et débat trinitaire au XXe siècle, Le De tribus diebus de Hugues de Saint-Victor, (Turnhout: Brepols, 2002), 169-198. Much of this introduction is summarised in the introduction to the English translation in Boyd Taylor Coolman and Dale M Coulter, eds, Trinity and creation: a selection of works of Hugh, Richard and Adam of St Victor, (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010).
  14. Reprinted in PL 176:845-856.
  15. Reprinted in PL 177:285-294.
  16. 1 2 3 Reprinted in Roger Baron, ed., Hugonis de Sancto Victore Opera Propaedeutica (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1966).
  17. Reprinted in Muller, Karl, ed., Hugo von St. Victor: Soliloquium de Arrha Animae Und De Vanitate Mundi (Bonn: A. Marcus Une E. Weber's Verlag,1913). There is an English translation in Soliloquy on the Earnest Money of the Soul, trans Kevin Herbert, (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1965).
  18. See Bernard McGinn, The Growth of Mysticism, (1994), pp384-390. A French translation is in Roger Baron, Hugues de Saint-Victor: La contemplation et ses espèces, (Tournai-Paris: Desclée, 1958).
  19. An English translation is in Franklin T. Harkins and Frans van Liere, eds, Interpretation of scripture: theory. A selection of works of Hugh, Andrew, Richard and Godfrey of St Victor, and of Robert of Melun, (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2012)
  20. Printed in PL176:993-998
  21. Printed in PL175:405-414.
  22. Printed in PL176:405-414.
  23. Eggebroten, Anne. ""Sawles Warde": a retelling of "De Anima" for a female audience" (PDF). Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  24. Thomas F Martin OSA, Our Restless Heart: The Augustinian Tradition, (2003), p82
  25. B McGinn, The Growth of Mysticism, (1994), p366
  26. Erich Auerbach (2009). Damrosch, David; Melas, Natalie; Buthelezi, Mbongiseni (eds.). The Princeton Sourcebook in Comparative Literature. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 124.

Further reading