Abelard's Reputation Analysis

1099 Words 5 Pages
One of Abelard’s main goals in Historia Calamitatum was to justify the misfortunes of his life in order to repair his reputation by considering who is to blame for each major event. Specifically, Abelard largely wanted the reader to understand the “true story” of two major “episodes” in his life that had brought him great shame: his castration and the burning of his book (9). In regards to these calamities, it seems clear that Abelard had already justified them to himself in his conscience (37,42,43), so his decision to write these thoughts in the form of a letter was likely driven more by his desire to repair his reputation, which he valued more than “great riches” (37). Moreover, he wanted the reader to understand these events “properly” …show more content…
However, none of these are wholly sufficient to understand where the blame lies on their own. At one point, he stated that his castration occurred by his “own fault” (25), but he had already mentioned that these actions he was taking responsibility for were brought on by lust and love. This meant that, while he took responsibility for giving into the temptations, he retained a qualifying argument that the actions were forced upon him strong urges rather than a sudden whim. This defended his reputation because it was “worldly security” that weakened his spirit to allow it to be destroyed through “carnal temptation” (9) and not any flaw in his character. It could be easy to confuse Abelard’s apology to Fulbert (13) as one that blames Heloise for these events, since he claimed that “women had brought the noblest men to ruin” (13), but he is actually saying that love “made” him deceive Fulbert and “wrong” Heloise, not that she was at fault or had done anything to cause this. The predatory tone in his description of the way he sought out Heloise also supports this conclusion that it was solely his design and not hers (10,

Related Documents