Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ars Moriendi (The Art Of Dying)

Before I begin this post, just a quick shout out to Jade from Daughter of a Jaded Era for commenting on my first Danse Macabre post. Thank you Jade, you inspired my inner nerd! You see, she commented on that post about a book called Ars Moriendi (The Art of Dying) and I had to read up on it!

Ars Moriendi (The Art Of Dying) are two Latin texts that advise the reader on how to die well. This is according to the Middle Ages and under a Christian view point. These texts date back to around 1415-1450.These texts were written on the contexts of the black death (plague that hit Europe and caused the deaths of approx. 75 to 200 million people) as well as the social upheavals of the 15th century (religious upheavals, famine, etc.)

There are two versions of the Ars Moriendi. There is a long version and a short one.

The long version was composed in 1415 by a friar. This version was translated into most European languages and was especially popular in England. The Ars Moriendi consisted of six chapters:

(1) Chapter one consoles the dying person that death is a good thing

(2) Chapter two talks about the 5 temptations of a dying man and how to avoid them. The 5 temptations are: (1) lack of faith, (2) impatience, (3) despair, (4) spiritual pride, and (5) avarice.

(3) Chapter three lists the 7 questions to ask a dying man and how to console him

(4) Chapter 4 is about the need to copy Christ's life

(5) Chapter 5 is about rules for the family and friends. How to behave at the deathbed.

(6) Chapter 6 recommends prayers for the dying man

The short version was carved out of wood and had pictures. These came around 1460. The images were seen as angels and demons contemplating the fate of the dying man. Common illustrations were skeletons, corpses, The Last Judgement, good and evil forces fighting over the fate of souls.

I like to think I am done (for now) on danse macabre and articles relating to it. Thank you all for reading and I hope you found it as interesting as I did! We will be back to our regular scheduled program shortly!

Image source:

5 comments:

  1. I like these texts about death very much! It sounds similar to the Tibetan book of the Dead!

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  2. Thanks for the shout out. :) The culture related to death was intriguing both during the middle ages and the Victorian era! COuld read articles about it every day. :D

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    1. You're welcome. It was so much fun doing these posts!

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  3. Thank you for sharing. This was really interesting.

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