By Harry Blamires (auth.)
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Gill laments that we have nowadays 'come to think of art as though the word did not mean all human works whatsoever, from drain-pipes to cathedrals ... from sign-boards to Royal Academy paintings ... ' Though Aquinas does not treat of art at all, as we understand it, let alone of poetry, what he has to say about beauty opens the way for a Christian aesthetic which others were to formulate. III The Trivium While philosophical thinkers allowed their speculations about beauty to hover around the fringes of 'literary criticism', there was also throughout the Middle Ages a tradition of THE MIDDLE AGES 33 technical linguistic instruction which concerned itself with questions of style that have become the province of the literary critic.
Nevertheless he had something to say about the nature of beauty. A good thing is a beautiful thing, for both epithets have the same basis in reality, the possession of form; and this is why the good is esteemed beautiful. Good and beautiful are not however synonymous. For good, being what all things desire, has to do properly with desire ... Beauty on the other hand has to do with knowledge, and we call a thing beautiful when it pleases the eye of the beholder. 5 Thus the beautiful is the object of a non-possessive contemplation, whereas the good is something which we desire for ourselves.
There is plenty of 'poetic fiction' in the imagery and allegory of the Scriptures. Indeed, 'it plainly appears that not merely is poetry theology but that theology is poetry'. 10 3 The Renaissance The term 'Renaissance' is sometimes so vaguely used that it tends to represent a period of history rather than a historical development. In its strictest sense, at least for the literary world, the 'Renaissance' is the rediscovery of the ancient classics of Greece and Rome which scholars edited, translated, and wrote commentaries on.