The Early History of Greed: The Sin of Avarice in Early Medieval Thought and Literature

The Early History of Greed: The Sin of Avarice in Early Medieval Thought and Literature

Paperback Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature

By (author) Richard G. Newhauser, Series edited by Alastair J. Minnis, Series edited by Patrick Boyde, Series edited by John Burrow, Series edited by Rita Copeland, Series edited by Alan Deyermond, Series edited by Peter Dronke, Series edited by Nigel Palmer, Series edited by Winthrop Wetherbee

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  • Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Paperback | 264 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 224mm x 20mm | 422g
  • Publication date: 1 June 2006
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 0521026482
  • ISBN 13: 9780521026482
  • Edition statement: Revised ed.
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 1,570,794

Product description

The history of avarice as the deadliest vice in western Europe has been said to begin in earnest only with the rise of capitalism or, earlier, the rise of a money economy. In this first full-length study of the early history of greed, Richard Newhauser shows that avaritia, the sin of greed for possessions, has a much longer history, and is more important for an understanding of the Middle Ages, than has previously been allowed. His examination of theological and literary texts composed between the first century CE and the tenth century reveals new significance in the portrayal of various kinds of greed, to the extent that by the early Middle Ages avarice was available to head the list of vices for authors engaged in the task of converting others from pagan materialism to Christian spirituality.

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Review quote

'Newhauser has created a thought-provoking study that points beyond moralism to economic theory.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Table of contents

List of abbreviations; Preface; 1. Alms and ascetes, round stones and masons: avarice in the early church; 2. Ascetic transformations I: monks and the laity in eastern Christendom; 3. Ascetic transformations II: soaring eagles or safety in the herd - from anchoritic to cenobitic monasticism; 4. Ascetic transformations III: the Latin west in the fourth and fifth centuries; 5. Secularizing avarice and cupidity; Epilogue: Future perspectives; Appendix; Notes; Bibliography; Indexes.