Volume 42, 2021

Joseph Rudolph
Pages 63-87

The Narrative Persona in the Cosmographia of Bernard Silvestris

This article calls attention to the presence of a narrative persona in the Cosmographia of Bernard Silvestris. This persona is that of a masterful poet and scholar, but a figure who, as a fallen human, is alienated from humanity’s original state—an important caveat if we are to properly understand Bernard’s relationship to his material. The article goes on to suggest an important implication of this persona for our understanding of the role of gender in the poem. Examined in light of twelfth-century notions of the gender dynamics of allegory and of clerical Neoplatonic poetry, Bernard’s narrator may be linked to the primus homo presented at the conclusion of Microcosmos 14. This reading suggests an answer to the question of the absence of a human female, the creation of whom is excluded in the abrupt ending of Bernard’s narrative.