Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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(950 words)

1. Concept

Despair (from Latin desperatio, “hopelessness”) is an early modern term for an inclination towards suicide, and sometimes for the act itself. As a deadly sin, despair was in medieval and early modern art paired with the virtue of hope (Latin spes), for example in Giotto's depiction of the seven sins and seven virtues in the Arena Chapel at Padua (1304-1306). On the one hand, the concept of despair derives from the ancient idea of the inevitable dissolution of all matter…

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Lederer, David, “Despair”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 09 December 2022 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_029744>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20170626

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