Title Background

The Problem of Synecdochic Flesh: <i>Piers Plowman</i> B.9.49-50

The Problem of Synecdochic Flesh: Piers Plowman B.9.49-50

In the account of the creation of humanity, B.9.42-57, are the following two lines, “That is þe Castel þat kynde made; caro it hatte, / As muche to mene as man with a Soule.” Why does caro, normally denoting, “flesh,”mean here “man with a soul?” Because in Biblical texts, such as Luke 3:6, I Corinthians 1:28-29, and especially John 1:14, caro “means more than simply flesh.”Exegetes such as Hilarius Pictauensis, Leo Magnus, and Ludolf of Saxony support this reading. This new information, furthermore, may well help us better understand the verbal play in B.17.110 (‘on my Capul þat highte caro of mankynde I took it’) and 18.409 (‘Manye hundred of Aungeles harpeden and songen, / Culpat caro, purgat cara, regnat deus dei caro‘).

Volume

YLS 15 (2001): 213-18

Author

Hill, Thomas D.