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Abstract

This dissertation examines the thought of Honorius Augustodunensis with special attention to his understanding of creation and to his pedagogical method. Honorius was a popularizer, a pedagogue, and a talented author notable not only for his success in appealing to a wide medieval audience, but also for his synthesis of a bewildering variety of sources into simple, easily memorized forms which were used in daily pastoral care. He represents a vital and important strand of thought, centered on creation and the liturgy, which profoundly shaped the society of the Middle Ages. ,As Honorius left us with virtually no biographical information, my investigation begins by drawing out his character through an examination of the few biographical tidbits that he does provide—that he was a reforming priest and schoolmaster. From there, I explore his use of sources, particularly his unique appropriation of the thought of John Scottus Eriugena. I then detail Honorius’s theology of creation and contemplation, noting that the core idea which animates his work is a vision of the cosmos as a harmonious and beautiful salvific engine that inexorably draws humanity back towards its creator. I follow with a study of Honorius’s authorial methods—his use of dialogue, rhyme, and ekphrasis—arguing that these tools are a concrete manifestation of his theology, intended to shape his readers’ memories in order to enable them to attain contemplative vision. Finally, I consider the underlying harmony and unity of his catalog, allowing a portrait of the man to emerge from his words. With this portrait, we see that Honorius is a profoundly incarnational thinker, one who understands pedagogy as the key to the salvation of the individual and of the cosmos as a whole. It is a striking vision, yet the very act of making it explicit led to the erosion of the unity that sustained it. Honorius set the stage for the intellectual transformations of the twelfth century and beyond, yet his own vision faded away, as did his identity. A victim of his own success, but a window for us into the intellectual ferment of the twelfth century.

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