The Sin of Despair
The term most commonly used to describe the state of mind immediately before suicide was despero, with its derivative noun desperatio. The word came into medieval vocabulary from two origins, whose uses of it fused to allow use of the term to mean either of two things. The sin of desperatio was opposite to the ecclesiastical virtue of hope. This chapter aims to discover two things: what meanings the word had, context by context; and what the ensemble of meanings reveals about the mental recesses of those who used them. It examines the ways words relating to despero were actually used in medieval writings, both by theologians and by others who had occasion to use this group of words.
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