chapter  3
23 Pages

Making Love in Language

Friendship in the Carolingian Era
WithR. Jacob McDonie

Chapter 3analyzes eighth- and ninth-century friendship, including that of the Carolingian Renaissance. Chapter 3 illustrates that such heavily emphasized twelfth-century themes of friendship as sympathy, authority, rhetoric and performance, gender, and coinherence did not appear ex nihilo in the twelfth century. This chapter addresses the rhetorical scaffolding of friendship in courtly, pedagogic, and monastic contexts, in the letters of Boniface (c. 675–754) and Alcuin (c. 735–804), and in the verse letters of Walafrid Strabo. Friends desire friendship—or making love—in language, often because language is the only available medium to them insofar as the friendship networks of those treated in this chapter were spread throughout Western Europe. Perhaps more than any other author in this study, Alcuin is aware that love and friendship can be “made” in language, especially when absence requires such mediation: Alcuin is especially sensitive to the agency of language in friendship. Moreover, both Alcuin and Boniface are concerned with the authority invested in them by friends on account of their friendship, and the authority that they convey on friends as well, themes that will resonate with later writers, especially Aelred. The eighth and ninth centuries followed Cicero’s lead by positing that in friendship, one distinguished friend could confer great authority of character on his friend.