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philosophy, theology, Renaissance authorship


Although Renaissance philosophers and theologians like Marsilio Ficino strove mightily to show Plato and Plotinus compatible with Saint Paul, writers of popular prose and poetry suffered no such qualms. While it appears curious and often shocking to modern readers to find reference to the apostles and Apollo in successive paragraphs, many Renaissance writer followed Dante's example in The Divine Comedy and saw nothing incongruous in embracing classical mythology while espousing Christian doctrine. A fascinating example of this combination of traditions is the popular French work of a female author of the early Renaissance—Hélisenne de Crenne's Les Angoysses douloureuses qui procedent d'amours (The Sorrowful Anguish That Proceeds from Love) published in Paris in 1538. In it, Hélisenne uses pagan imagery to accentuate the sensual passions of her lovers and Christian references to advocate chaste love and moral rectitude. Furthermoore, I would argue that the continual twining of the two traditions provides a tension and cohesion that serve to unify the disparate elements of the work.