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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

When Francis saved the world

The whole cultural difference between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance may be summarized in one curious detail. The subject is avaritia, a Latin term that does not correspond to avarice, but greed. It was considered one of the greatest evils on earth, maybe the worst one (see I Timothy 6: 10). Both Dante and, expressly drawing on Dante, Ludovico Ariosto described it by means of the icon of the she-wolf.
How to get rid of it?
Dante, Inferno 11, thinks that a new start in human history was provided by St Francis of Assisi, who first found out that Poverty was not a monster as frightening as Death but, right the opposite, a beautiful Lady whom he symbolically married.
As for Ariosto, Orlando Furioso 26, he thinks that the she-wolf will be annihilated by Francis. . . I, the King of France. And he will do so not by embracing poverty, absolutely not, but by exercising generosity and munificence, as well as by promoting virtue and justice i.e. by waging wars.

Choose the candidate you like better. The wolfish demon of Greed is still out there, anyway.