This form of ennobling love was inspired by the classical writings of Aristotle (d. This idea of ennobling friendship was adapted and spiritualized in monastic writings that praised the love between cloistered monks mutually sworn to the love of Christ and to each other as brethren.
Aelred of Rievaulx is the strongest proponent of spiritual brotherhood.
How should a monk balance friendship with his brethren at large with that of particularly dear brothers, and at what point does loving one’s cloistered brother distract from the primary friendship with Christ?
The idea of spiritual friendship influenced popular genres such as romance.
Some romances, such as the many versions of , combine aristocratic and monastic forms of writing about sworn brotherhood into a form of secular hagiography.
Proven friends who suffer willingly for the love of their friend become virtual saints, though again not without contradictions.
Yet after this seeming victory, Chaucer does not allow the imperatives of brotherhood and sisterhood to vanish.
Theseus is left on the one hand with Palamon and Arcite, imprisoned perpetually, and the enormity of their misery demands redress.
His treatise , “On Spiritual Friendship,” (1164-67 CE) shows how love of one’s spiritual brothers intensifies love of Christ.
However, it also illuminates spiritual brotherhood’s essential contradictions.