Saturday, 30 April 2011

Giselle de Nie, “Whatever mystery may be given to my heart”: Arator on miracles in the ‘Historia apostolica’

In 544, while the Ostrogothic army advanced toward Rome, a former rhetor turned deacon named Arator held the city’s desperate non-combatant populations spell-bound for four separate days reciting an epic poem he had composed at the request of PopeVigilius about ‘Acts’. He tells them he will follow ‘history’ but also speak ‘true poetry’ by ‘open[ing] up in alternating ways what the letter makes manifest and whatever mystery may be given to my heart’. For visible events are only ‘figures’ of the real, substantial Truth which is ‘situated in heaven’. He and his besieged audience, then, found the courage to deal with the hard earthly facts by envisioning spiritual liberation through infinitely more powerful, indestructible, ‘mysteries’, many of which were ‘miracles’. Arator’s descriptions of these reveal an imagistic dynamics that underlies the whole poem.

Abbreviated curriculum vitae Giselle de Nie

Born in the Netherlands, emigrated to the U.S. in 1950.
B.A. cum laude with Honors Bryn Mawr College 1958
M.A. Radcliffe College/Harvard University 1959
Doctorate University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, 1987
Teaching position medieval history at the University of Utrecht 1962-2001.


            L. Halphen, Charlemagne and the Carolingian Empire. Transl. by Giselle de Nie, Europe in the Middle Ages, Selected Studies, 3 (Amsterdam: North Holland, 1977)
            Views from a Many-Windowed Tower. Studies of Imagination in the Works of Gregory of Tours, Studies in Classsical Antiquity, 7 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1987)
            Word, Image and Experience. Dynamics of Miracle and Self-Perception in Sixth-Century Gaul, Variorum Collected Studies Series, CS 771 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003)
            G. de Nie, K.F. Morrison and M. Mostert ed., Seeing the Invisible in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Papers from “Verbal and Pictorial Imaging. Representing and Accessing Experience of the Invisible: 400-1000” (Utrecht, 11-13 December 2003), Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy, 14 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2005)
            Giselle de Nie, Poetics of Wonder. Testimonies of the New Christian Miracles in the Late Antique Latin World, Studies in the Early Middle Ages, 31 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011).

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