The Melos amoris stands as the most daring literary achievement of medieval England’s most influential mystic, Richard Rolle. Full of autobiographical glimpses and spiritual rhapsodies, this sustained étude in alliterative, rhythmic Latin prose contains Rolle’s first public account of his profoundly sensory mystical experience. The current volume provides the first full translation of this unstudied masterpiece into English, in alliterative prose that mirrors the original.
As Rolle defends himself against controversy, he offers detailed descriptions of the spiritual fire, sweetness, and song that characterize his mysticism, amid a labyrinthine weave of scriptural exegesis, personal narrative, and inspired utterance. Among his longest and most literary works, the Melos amoris has long been derogated as a frivolous gaud of the hermit’s youth. Read more generously, it offers a key to the corpus of Rolle’s Latin writings and opens crucial insight into his mystical discipline and the spiritual practices and experiences that stemmed from that discipline in the later Middle Ages.
Richard Rolle’s Melody of Love offers manifold pathways into the Melos amoris and its world. A quintet of appendices offers an edition of a spurious chapter, marginalia and music found in one key manuscript, reconstructions of early fourteenth-century Anglo-Latin songs and recitations, and guidance through Rolle’s unusual Latin vocabulary. These materials are supported by a companion website offering audio recordings by Sine Nomine, the early music ensemble-in-residence at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, and a range of additional contextual matter. Conceived with student and scholar alike in mind, this multidisciplinary, multimedia project holds rewards for researchers not only of medieval literature, but also of medieval music, embodiment, theology, popular spirituality, and cultural history.
Abbreviations and Conventions
The Melody of Love: Ten Ways In
1 Melos amoris
4 Manuscripts and Reception
5 Richard Rolle
6 Human Being
7 Angelic Kinship
The Melody of Love: A Translation
Index of Themes and Figures