Building the Text: Architecture as Metaphor in Late Medieval and Early Modern France

By David Grant Cowling | Go to book overview

6
'UNG TEMPLE Y A, PLUS BEAU NE VIT ONCQ. NULZ': FICTIONS OF THE BUILDING IN JEAN LEMAIRE DE BELGES

Ung temple y a, plus beau ne vit oncq nulz,
Assiz sur roch, en lieu fort autenticque,
Aux confluentz d'Arar et Rhodanus
.

[ . . . ]

Là a Venus son temple et ses relicques,
Où maintz amans par grand ardeur se vouent
Et y font veux, tant privéz que publicques.
De temples maintz, que les poëtes louent,
Ce n'est plus rien, ilz sont tons aboliz,
Mais cestuy seul les dieux font et advouent.
1

Jean Lemaire's temple of Venus, described and visited in his Concorde des deux langages of 1511, has the particularity among rhétoriqueur buildings of possessing a recognizable location at the confluence of Rhône and Saône. Like other textual buildings, however, it has successfully frustrated the attempts of scholars to identify it with a contemporary structure. The most plausible analogue is the ruined Roman temple of Fourvière, familiar to readers of Lemaire from its appearance at the end of the Temple d'Honneur et de Vertus of 1503, where it is used as a springboard for a request for the attention of the young princes of Europe.2 The temple of Venus in the Concorde is, however, no ruin; indeed, its chief feature in the above description is its imperishability, a feature which it shares, strikingly, with the textual buildings in the "Exegi monumentum" tradition studied in the last chapter. And yet this building, sacred to Venus,

____________________
1
Jean Lemaire, La Concorde des deux langages ( Frappier edn.), 12-13, ll. 133-5, 145-50. Further references will be incorporated into the text.
2
Note also the popular contemporary etymology of Fourvière as "Fons Veneris" ( La Concorde, p. xxxi).

-170-

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