Hildegard’s empathic writing towards her own gender

Something I found interesting while reading the selected writings in Hildegard of Bingen is her repetitive use of ethos in her letters when writing to other women. Firstly, Hildegard will often use a modest tone when writing to other women by portraying herself in a humble manner in her letters: “I, a mere female and a fragile vessel”. Whereas, when she writes letters to men, the structure of her writings slightly differ in the manner that she does not begin with any formality or introduction including ethos, instead Hildegard begins and ends the letter with the contents of the vision, starting from “A certain man rose…” to “…never be destroyed!”. Hildegard also continuously refers to the women she writes to as “Daughter”, “Daughter of God”, “Mother”, displaying further empathy towards these women. In contrast, Hildegard writes in a more distant tone to the Bishop of Bamberg by only mentioning him as “you” and commanding him to do something instead of asking in a compassionate approach as she does with women. The reasoning behind why Hildegard writes in a somewhat discriminative manner in my opinion is due to an unintentional action created by her actual sympathy towards other women who also suffer from gender inequality during her time.

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