Jacques de Vitry was one of the most famous preachers of the Middle Ages, a true master of the medieval sermon form. This style used exempla, or examples, from everyday life, to illustrate the moral interpretation of Scripture passages. These exempla became themselves famous and widely used and offer a window into the moral imagination of the Christians of the Middle Ages, an imagination that intermixed the mundane with the fantastic and sublime. Preachers borrowed these exempla from each other and over the centuries they often took on established, proverbial forms. The exempla of Jacques de Vitry are extracted from his sermons, but they cannot be considered to have been written by him. Rather, they represent a body of fables, proverbs, and short tales that were widely used in the sermons of the Middle Ages and would often have been recognizable to audiences. This volume contains only the Latin text of the Exempla, with an English introduction, analysis and notes.
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Jacques de Vitry (c. 1160–1240) was a famous French preacher of the Middle Ages. He became a bishop in 1216, and a cardinal in 1229. He is considered a master of the medieval sermon style of exempla.
Thomas Frederick Crane studied law at Princeton and Columbia Law School and worked as a librarian at the newly founded Cornell University. At Cornell, he taught French, Italian, Spanish, as well as medieval literature. Crane was one of the founders of Journal of American Folklore and later served as the first dean of the Arts College.