In this connection, I may mention a famous essay by Father Hugo Rahner, in which he has shown how the Fathers of the Church could beautifully interpret the heroic travels of Ulysses as a type of the Christian's journey through terrestrial life. Ulysses had himself tied to the mast so that he would not be lured to disaster by the songs of the Sirens. Similarly, the Christian stranger on earth, the peregrinus, could be said to travel through strange and awesome seas in a ship, which is the Church, affixed to the mast of the Cross, absorbing the sweet and far from meaningless Siren songs of the world, without being deflected from the right course.The essay is in Rahner's book, Greek Myths and Christian Mystery, which was published in 1963 and sounds as if it might be really interesting...
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Another quotation from Ladner. Here he talks about the myth of Ulysses/Odysseus, which is sometimes contrasted with the Biblical stories of exile on the grounds that Ulysses does in the end find his way home - his is not a permanent condition of exile. However, early Christian appropriations of the myth take a different line:
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
Another fragment from Ladner's essay, "Homo Viator: Medieval Ideas on Alienation and Order":
The metaphor [...] of the viator, the traveller, who seeks only temporary comfort in an inn on the road is found in Augustine's works, whence Gregory the Great may have taken it. The topoi of xeniteia and peregrinatio, of pilgrimage, of homelessness, of strangeness in this world, are among the most widespread in early Christian ascetic literature, and not a few ascetics, monastic and otherwise, practiced it by voluntary and migratory exile from their fatherland.In a footnote Ladner refers to a work on self-exile as spiritual discipline that I so want to read but which sounds so long and German that it really might defeat me!
H.v. Campenhausen, Die asketische Heimatslosigkeit im alterkirchen und frümittelalterlichen Mönchtum (Tübingen, 1930).Will see if I can even find a copy...