Publication details [#8158]

Musolff, Andreas. 2009. Metaphor in the history of ideas and discourses: How can we interpret a medieval version of the body-state analogy? In Musolff, Andreas and Jörg Zinken. Metaphor and Discourse. London: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 233–250. 18 pp.
Publication type
Article in book  
Publication language
Place, Publisher
London: Palgrave Macmillan


The use of political body and illness metaphors in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance has been portrayed in the history of ideas as a preliminary stage to 'modern' uses, due to its alleged grounding in 'humoral' medicine and micro-/macrocosm cosmology. This chapter reviews these claims through analysing the use of the body-state metaphor in the twelfth-century cleric John of Salisbury's treatise Politicus. The analysis shows that John's metaphor use is highly rhetorical and that his scenario of medical treatment for a diseased state even resembles present-day usage in some respects. In conclusion, we discuss ways in which a discourse-oriented perspective can link cognitive and historical approaches to metaphor analysis. (Andreas Musolff)