The Relationship Between Pseudo-Dionysius And Gothic Architecture Because most important Gothic monuments were intended for religious use, it is quite natural that Gothic architecture in general should be interpreted or even defined in the context of religious meaning. The theological, didactic, liturgical, and mystical texts of medieval writers constantly refer to the significance of the physical church. In their view, it is literally the House of God, the dwelling place of his mystical person, or the material manifestation of such spiritual phenomena as the community of the faithful of the Church of the Elect (Gordecki, 20).
Whilst the writings of Augustine and the Pseudo-Dionysius were readily accepted due to their Christian foundations, throughout the Middle Ages there were a number of different attitudes towards the ancient, pagan authors, such as Plato. Some twelfth century theologians, such as Bernard of Clairvaux, believed that these works were of no use to Christians, and such study could only lead to heresy. The other attitude, which can be seen in the work of Peter Abelard, Bernards contemporary, was to see the pagan authors as forerunners of Christianity.
Abelard liked to explain that the pagans, using natural law, which is human reason had gained a knowledge of God or even of the Trinity. The attitude of Hugh of St-Victor lay between these two opposing approaches. He rejects the substance of the teaching of pagan authors while borrowing from their methodology. The twelfth century attitude towards the philosophy of the writer, known today as the Pseudo-Dionysius, shows a different aspect of this tendency to regard the identity of the author as central to the importance of their writings. By the twelfth century, the identities of three different historical figures had amalgamated to form the character of Saint Denis. The first of these was Dionysius, the first Bishop of Paris in the third century.
Introduction The 18th century in English literature can be divided into two periods: THE AUGUSTAN AGE (The Age of Pope) – 1700-1745 and THE AGE OF SENSIBILITY (The Age of Johnson) – 1745-1785. This was the period of heavy colonizations of the new world and the time when cities rise. Various inventions, as well as the Industrial and Agricultural Revolution, influenced manufacturing and ...
By the ninth century, the Bishop of Paris became associated with Dionysius the Areopagite, a disciple of Saint Paul who lived in the first century. The third person was the author of all the writings attributed to this complex character of Saint Denis, which included The Celestial Hierarchy. This writer is now identified as a fifth or sixth century Syrian. If the true identity of the author had been known during the twelfth century, these works would probably not have been widely read. It was due to the importance of the Dionysius the Areopagite, Pauls disciple, that these works gained their authority. In addition, Abbot Suger thought it was this same Dionysius (Denis) who founded the Abbey of St-Denis and it is clear that these works were of special significance at St-Denis (Wetherbee, 24).
The philosophy of the Pseudo-Dionysius is probably the philosophy scholars of the twentieth century have most commonly associated with Gothic architecture. Two elements of the Dionysian doctrines have been proposed as relevant to architecture.
The first, is the Dionysian system of hermeneutics; the second is the important place of light within this system. The twelfth century understanding of the Pseudo-Dionysius was not based solely on his writings, but had been heavily influenced by the attitudes of John Eriugena in his translation of The Celestial Hierarchy. Dionysian hermeneutics was based on the idea that all things in this world, the visible, were symbols of the invisible, or of God. The Dionysian symbols have a fixed reading, which is not affected by the individual. Through the interpretation of the symbol, the viewer is able to ascend to a union with God. The idea of symbols leading upwards to God is known as anagogy (Wetherbee, 27).
19th Century architecture is a wide subject only because there were so many beautiful and magnificent buildings built. The Houses of Parliament were built between 1840 to 1865. It was built by Sir Charles Barry in a Gothic Revival style. The buildings cover an area of more than 8 acres and contain 1100 apartments, 100 staircases, and 11 courts. The exterior, in it's Revived Gothic style, s ...
One of the most important symbols mentioned by the Pseudo-Dionysius is light.
God is portrayed as the True Light and physical light is the visible symbol that is closest to the divine. It is particularly this aspect of the Dionysian philosophy, which has been related to Gothic architecture by twentieth century scholars (Wetherbee, 32).
It must be noted that this metaphysical light is not confined to the philosophy of the Pseudo-Dionysius. The Pseudo-Dionysius light mysticism was based on Platonism, however twentieth century scholars have not considered Platonic light metaphysics as a source for Gothic architecture. The world of twelfth century philosophy, although still dependent upon tradition, was rapidly changing. The translation of new texts, the changing attitudes of the scholars, and the development of scholasticism were dramatic breaks from the past. At the same time, architecture was undergoing the radical change from the Romanesque to the Gothic style. Not only was this occurring at the same time, but also in the same place. Advances in both architecture and learning were centred on Paris and the region of the Ile-de-France (Gordecki, 27).
Although this may have been the impetus for later scholars to relate Gothic architecture to philosophy, twentieth century scholars have found many ideas in twelfth century philosophy that can be associated with Gothic architecture. However, many of these proposals have met with extensive criticism from other scholars working within the field of the history of Gothic architecture . Works cited: Louis Grodecki, Architecture Gothique, 1976 Winthrop Wetherbee, Philosophy, Cosmology and the Twelfth-Century Renaissance in Dronke, ed, A History of the Twelfth Century Western Philosophy.