Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Book of Gomorrah

PLEASE NOTE: This post should have a NSFW [Not Safe For Work] label. My apologies if this is not to your liking.

Illumination from Liber Gomorrhianus
Peter Damian (c.1007 - 21 February 1072/3), who later became a saint, wrote a book called Liber Gomorrhianus ["The Book of Gomorroah"]. Addressed to Pope Leo IX about 1050, it blasted the clergy for their many sexual vices. There are many works that condemn sexual practices that were considered deviant—such as handbooks designed to describe (and help one avoid) vice—but the Liber Gomorrhianus goes into much greater detail than others.

There are four particular vices he rails against:
Four types of this form of criminal wickedness can be distinguished in an effort to show you the totality of the whole matter in an orderly way: some sin with themselves alone [masturbation]; some by the hands of others [mutual masturbation]; others between the thighs [interfemoral intercourse]; and finally, others commit the complete act against nature [anal intercourse]. The ascending gradation among these is such that the last mentioned are judged to be more serious that the preceding. Indeed a greater penance is imposed on those who fall with others than those who defile only themselves; and those who complete the act are to be judged more severely than those who are defiled through femoral fornication. The devil's artful fraud devises these degrees of failing into ruin such that the higher the level the unfortunate soul reaches in them, the deeper it sinks in the depths of hell's pit.*
He finds particularly damning those priests who have relations with young boys, and those superiors who do not enforce proper discipline and punch these actions.

Damian made no friends with this exposé of clerical sins. Pope Leo IX came to dislike the book, feeling that the situation was not as widespread in the Church for which he had responsibility and authority as the Liber painted it. The pope did not mete out punishments as harsh as the Liber suggested, choosing to dismiss only those priests who were long-time repeat offenders.

*from Pierre J. Payer (ed.): Book of Gomorrah: An eleventh century treatise against clerical homosexual practise, Waterloo, Ont., 1982.

1 comment:

  1. Hello. Can you tell me from where the illumination from Liber Gomorrhianus is extract. I will be very intresting to have the complete information to find this manuscript. It can be really helpfull for me.
    Thanks a lot