Story of Civilization ~ Will & Ariel Durant ~ Volume IV, Part 11 ~ 7/06 ~ Nonfiction
June 29, 2006 - 06:47 pm
"I want to know what were the steps by which man passed from barbarism to civilization." (Voltaire)

What are our origins? Where are we now? Where are we headed? Share your thoughts with us!

Volume Four (The Age of Faith)

"Four elements constitute Civilization -- economic provision, political organization, moral traditions, and the pursuit of knowledge and the arts. "

"I shall proceed as rapidly as time and circumstances will permit, hoping that a few of my contemporaries will care to grow old with me while learning. "

"These volumes may help some of our children to understand and enjoy the infinite riches of their inheritance."

"Civilization begins where chaos and insecurity ends."


Dante and Beatrice
The Poet in Politics
The Poem

In this Discussion Group we are not examining Durant. We are examining Civilization but in the process constantly referring to Durant's appraisals.

This volume surveys the medieval achievements and modern significance of Christian, Islamic, and Judaic life and culture. It includes the dramatic stories of St. Augustine, Hypatia, Justinian, Mohammed, Harun al-Rashid, Charlemagne, William the Conqueror, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lion-Hearted, Saladin, Maimonides, St. Francis, St. Thomas Aquinas, Roger Bacon, and many others, all in the perspective of integrated history. The greatest love stories in literaure -- of Heloise and Abelard, of Dante and Beatrice -- are here retold with enthralling scholarship.

The Age of Faith covers the economy, politics, law, government, religion, morals, manners, education, literature, science, philosophy, and art of the Christians, Moslems, and Jews during an epoch that saw vital contests among the three great religions and between the religious and the secular view of human life. All the romance, poverty, splendor, piety and immorality, feudalism and monasticism, heresies and inquisitions, cathedrals and universities, troubadours and minnesingers of a picturesque millennium are gathered into one fascinating narrative.

This volume, and the series of which it is a part, has been compared with the great work of the French encyclopedists of the eighteenth century. The Story of Civilization represents the most comprehensive attempt in our times to embrace the vast panorama of man's history and culture.

This, then, is about YOU. Join our group daily and listen to what Durant and the rest of us are saying. Better yet, share with us your opinions.

Your Discussion Leader:Robby Iadeluca

Story of Civilization, Vol. IV, Part 1 | Story of Civilization, Vol. IV, Part 2 | Story of Civilization, Vol. IV, Part 3 | Story of Civilization, Vol.IV, Part 4 | Story of Civilization, Vol.IV, Part 5 | Story of Civilization, Vol.IV, Part 6 | Story of Civilization, Vol.IV, Part 7 | Story of Civilization, Vol. IV, Part 8 | Story of Civilization, Vol.IV, Part 9 |Story of Civilization, Vol, IV, Part 10 |
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June 29, 2006 - 06:51 pm
Remember to subscribe!

June 29, 2006 - 08:52 pm
It isn't easy to lurk when no one has arrived.

I'll be waiting....


June 29, 2006 - 09:02 pm
Me, too. Lurkers of the world, stay awake!

June 29, 2006 - 11:52 pm
Hi Jane! Thanks for the new page

Hello lurkers and good day to you and all our friends here. Bubble

robert b. iadeluca
June 30, 2006 - 04:14 am
Without lurkers, what would the world be? Of course, participation keeps the blood circulating too.


robert b. iadeluca
June 30, 2006 - 04:15 am
Society and Sport

robert b. iadeluca
June 30, 2006 - 04:21 am
"The general coarseness of medieval manners was smoothed by certain graces of feudal courtesy.

"Men shook hands on meeting as a pledge of peace through unreadiness to draw a sword. Titles were innumerable. In a hundred grades of dignity and by a charming custom each dignitary was addressed by his title and his Christian name or the name of his estate.

"A code of manners was drawn up for polite society in any circumstance -- at home, at the dance, on the street, at tournament, at court, ladies had to lern how to walk, curtsey, ride horseback, play, carry falcons gracefully on the wrist.

"All this, and a like code for men, constituted courtoisie, the manners of the court, courtesy.

"The thirteenth century saw the publication of many guides to etiquette."

Any comments on courtesy, either in the thirteenth century, or in our day?


June 30, 2006 - 04:42 am
Was it important for a lady to only ride sidesaddle? I always think of this as an easy way for injuries to happen.

As far as etiquette, what tools did they use? Forks and spoons or just the finger method?

June 30, 2006 - 04:44 am
Rich, thank you for a wonderfully interesting article.

June 30, 2006 - 05:26 am
Hats, You're welcome.


June 30, 2006 - 06:22 am
Hats, the first utensil ever used at the table was the personal knife. It was used for cutting ond for eating as well. The others came after.

June 30, 2006 - 06:24 am
Oh, thanks Bubble.

Éloïse De Pelteau
June 30, 2006 - 09:51 am
This LINK is in French but the pictures are worth a thousand words about Medieval gastronomy.

June 30, 2006 - 10:37 am
Great pictures Eloise, and a test of my high school French LOL .....jean

June 30, 2006 - 11:33 am
Eloise, thank you.

June 30, 2006 - 02:46 pm
"In its oldest recorded use, a handshake signified the conferring of power from a god to an earthly ruler. This is reflected in the Egyptian verb "to give," the hieroglyph for which was a picture of an extended hand.

By the Middle Ages in Europe, the symbol of serfdom to a feudal lord was restricted to baring the head. The implicit message was: "I am your obedient servant." So persuasive was the gesture that the Christian Church adopted it, requiring that men remove their hats on entering a church.

Eventually, it became standard etiquette for a man to show respect for an equal by merely tipping his hat." ~ "Panati's Extraordinary Origins etal."

Fifi le Beau
June 30, 2006 - 07:39 pm
The Age of Faith discussion began on August 27, 2004. We are currently a few weeks away from a two year journey on this book. While catching up on the posts I noticed that we have completed Part 10 in Vol. 1V. That would total around 10,000 posts on this book alone.

Congratulations Robby and all contributors to the 'Age of Faith'.


July 1, 2006 - 12:59 am
These accounts of medieval manners and customs are almost exclusively about the few rich people. The lives of great majority of people are not well recorded, and largely not recorded at all.

I do hope and trust that Durant will not continue to write about manners and morals to the exclusion of how the poorer sorts of people earned their livings, lived their everyday lives, their hopes and fears.

In this connection, one of the best books, for children actually is 'A History of Everyday Things in England' by the Quennels, also, incidentally a man and woman who were married to each other

Éloïse De Pelteau
July 1, 2006 - 01:10 am
Fifi, Story of Civilization started 5 years ago and a lot of water went under the bridge since then. A few of us have been here since the beginning. After some digging up in the Archives I found the first post HERE on November 1st, 2001 and counted approximately 27,000 posts since the beginning. Enough to make a book with the comments of participants who have left us for some and are still here for others. The Age of Faith had the most postings, but others were no less interesting.

robert b. iadeluca
July 1, 2006 - 03:34 am
I re-read that posting, Eloise, and it brought up many memories -- pleasant memories. When I wrote that I was a very young 81, my hair was much blacker and not almost white as it is now, and I knew almost everything as compared to my paucity of knowledge which I have now. And I can truly say that the result of reading Durant's words plus the thousands of postings by our participants changed my philosophy of life and toward life. I am not the same person I was five years ago due in many ways to this discussion group.


July 1, 2006 - 03:55 am
could you elaborate about philosophy, Robby? I am surprised, because you had travelled, knew the world existed outside.

robert b. iadeluca
July 1, 2006 - 04:11 am
That is so hard to explain, Bubble. I guess what has happened in these five years is that I now take a much longer perspective in looking at life. If someone says: "It's never been done that way," I think to myself: "Yes, it was, in ancient Egypt." I look at the U.S. as being an extremely young civilization (culture) which could disappear in an instant. As a matter of fact I now look at the 200+ age of America as just an "instant." I now look at the future the same way. Tomorrow means a thousand years from now.


July 1, 2006 - 04:55 am
Yes! I always thought that people in general and more so in US maybe, take their own present time so seriously when it is just a speck in Time. Our lives are important, our epoch does matter, but it will not have more than a "crease" importance in the weaving of history. America is young and Israel is a babe still. lol

Durant and this discussion do help to see a wider view. I wish "those who matter" could read it, participate and gain a deeper understanding.

I wish we could have a glimpse at that tomorrow. Do we need to relearn it all, each generation, each era? Bubble

Éloïse De Pelteau
July 1, 2006 - 07:34 am
I think that we have been very fortunate indeed to have had that opportunity, so enlightening to broaden our views in more ways than in history. It sharpens the ability to think critically without destroying the profound philosophy each of us lives with.

The sharing of knowledge between participants is what makes the book pro active and unless one reads each page slowly, one cannot retain the whole historical data. Durant passes judgment even unconsciously with specific words that even he didn't notice as he narrates the history on each specific strata of civilization.

Robby, except for whiter hair you don't seem to change an iota. What is your secret?

robert b. iadeluca
July 1, 2006 - 08:32 am
True. I continue to be the same wonderful sweet lovable person I have been all my life.

Secret? It's my humility.


Éloïse De Pelteau
July 1, 2006 - 11:19 am
Mmmmm..... yes, of course if you say so.

July 1, 2006 - 11:37 am
Eloise, there is a scent of violettes in the air... did you notice? lol

Éloïse De Pelteau
July 1, 2006 - 12:16 pm
I noticed it Bubble, it's the excitment of smelling les violettes at last. We only have a scant two months of summer here, so let the sun shine on you and yours and peace come once and for all.

robert b. iadeluca
July 1, 2006 - 01:21 pm
"In traveling, one exprected courtesies and hospitality from persons of his own class.

"The poor for charity, the rich for fee or a gift, would be sheltered en route by convents or monastieries. As early as the eighth century monks established hospices in the passes of the Alps. Some monasteries had great guest-houses capable of shletering 300 wayfarers, and stabling their horses.

"Most travelers, however, put up at wayside inns. Rates were low there and a wench might be had at a reasonable rate, if he guarded his purse. Offered such comforts, many braved the dangers of travel -- merchants, bankers, priests, diplomats, pilgrims, students, monks, tourists, tramps.

'The highways of the Middle Ages, however discouraging, were alive with curious and hopeful people who thought that they would be happier somewhere else."


July 2, 2006 - 03:38 am
I have always wanted to visit a monastery. I feel monasteries are peaceful and very busy too. I think of monks busy baking bread, hoeing in a garden or filling birdfeeders. Then, there are the quiet times of meditation. Is it the monks who sing the Gregorian chants? So beautiful.

July 2, 2006 - 03:53 am
Gregorian choir.

Listen to Ave Maria in the "God of Loveliness" CD

July 2, 2006 - 03:59 am
pictures of Mt Saint Michel

Story of Mont St Michel

They have the most inspiring male choir, but I couldn't find any samples.

July 2, 2006 - 05:02 am
Bubble, thank you!

Éloïse De Pelteau
July 2, 2006 - 05:09 am
Bubble, on my first visit to France in 1972 the first monument I saw was Mont St. Michel. It is so grandiose and the photos don't do it justice, of course it is too big, you have to be standing among the columns to appreciate it fully. Thank you for showing it.

I could have access to the Ave Maria, unfortunately. I will try again.

July 2, 2006 - 05:48 am
My 'Ave Maria' did fine, very beautiful. I started typing and it stopped. Now it's fine.

July 2, 2006 - 05:55 am
It seems very sad to use a monastery for a prison. I suppose this changed in later years.

"Over time, the spiritual foundations of the abbey waned, and in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries it was used as a prison."

Eloise, I can't imagine how Mont St. Michel looks on a personal visit. I bet it is huge. What about the statue of St. Michel? I see it in the photos. I bet it is really huge too.

"Over time, the spiritual foundations of the abbey waned, and in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries it was used as a prison."

robert b. iadeluca
July 2, 2006 - 06:51 am
I have climbed up St. Michel at least twice. Once when I was taking a course in French Language and Civilization at the University of Paris shortly after the war's end and the other time 17 years later in 1964 when I went over for a visit to Brittany. Wonderful memories.


robert b. iadeluca
July 2, 2006 - 07:11 am
"Class distinction were as sharp in amusement as in travel.

"The mighty and the lowly mingled now and then -- when the king held a public assembly of his vassals and distributed food to the crowd -- when the aristocratic cavalry performed martial maneuvers -- when some prince or princess, king or queen, entered the city in panoplied state and masses lined the highway to feed the pageantry -- or when a tournament or trial by combat was opened to the public eye.

"Planned spectacles were a vital part of medieval life -- church processions, political parades, guild celebrations, filled the streets with banners, floats, wax saints, fat merchants, prancing knights, and military bands.

"Traveling mummers staged short plays in the village or city square. Minstrels sang and played and strummed romantic tales. Acrobats tumbled and juggled and men and women walked or danced on tightropes across mortal chasm.

"Or two blindfolded men belabored each other with sticks, or a circus would come to town, exhibit strange animals and stranger men, and pit one animal against another in combat to the death."

Referring to the first sentence in this paragraph by Durant -- I have said it so often in these past five years -- because Durant impresses this fact upon us -- and I say it again now. More than anything else the "progress" of civilization seems to be the constant class wars -- the "haves" versus the "have nots."

And as we approach our celebration of America's independence, I think it is fitting that I quote Thomas Jefferson in a letter he wrote just days before he died:-"The mass of mankind was NOT born with saddles on their backs, nor a favoured few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God."

I don't believe that anyone here thinks that America became a classless society. The class "wars" still exist. But maybe -- just maybe -- some of those who have gone under the impression that they were "born with saddles on their backs" are removing them.

The question remains (at least in my mind) do they now think they have the right to "ride" others?


July 2, 2006 - 07:35 am
Bubble, The links to the photos and history of Mont St Michel are outstanding. What an imposing and historic place! It goes on my list of things to see, someday.

I like the way they show a series of photos of the monastery starting from a distance, then sequentially closer, until you are up and into the building.

The Bayeux Tapestry states that Harold the Saxon and William the Conquerer visited Mont St. Michel. No mention of Robby's climb to the top (twice). How can we repair this historical oversight?


July 2, 2006 - 12:55 pm
Some dark night when no one is looking we can steal into the rooms holding the tapestry and sew him into an empty corner.

July 2, 2006 - 12:57 pm
I believe that there always will be social classes. My ideal government is one that uses its delegated power to pass laws that tend to equalise. to spread the wealth around so that the differential is lessened.This is done of course by taxing the wealthy and supporting the helpless poor, while supporting important industries over tough times to maintain employment

July 2, 2006 - 01:13 pm
This question of the haves and have nots is one easily stereotyped. Many of the haves in the US and in other modern countries have reached that status because they were born into families who were have nots. "Not having" provided motivation for upward mobility.

California newspapers today are full of stories about Denise Denton, the forty year old gal with an engineering background who became Chancelor of the University of California. She came from a family of have nots.

Do the members of this discussion think of themselves as "haves or have nots?"

I think of myself as a "have" but not as much a "have" as some others who seem to flaunt success.

July 2, 2006 - 05:59 pm
Durant's words in post #38 describe nothing new. The Roman poet Juvenal described such events in his time as Bread and Circus.

From the Wikipedia Encyclopedia: "Bread and circuses is a derogatory phrase which can describe either government policies to pacify the citizenry, or the shallow, decadent desires of that same citizenry. In both cases, it refers to low-cost, low-quality, high-availability food and entertainment, and to the exclusion of things which the speaker considers more important, such as art, public works projects, democracy, or human rights.

It originated as the Latin phrase "panem et circuses" (literally "bread and circuses"), and is thought to have been coined by Juvenal, a Roman satiric poet of the 1st century AD, to describe the practice of Roman Emperors who gave unlimited free wheat to the poor and costly circus games as a means of pacifying the populace with food and entertainment."

The mind numbing circus of modern time is Hollywood. If you think not, look at the magazines screaming at you at the supermarket check-out. Apparently it's very important to many people to know that Jennifer Annisten is getting married (again), or that Tom Cruz has not yet revealed the name of his new baby.

I, however, don't attribute this to an elaborate plot by a government to distract the people from other things. I think bread and circuses is what people want. They wanted it in Roman times, they wanted it in Medieval times, and they want it now.


robert b. iadeluca
July 2, 2006 - 06:52 pm
Every year -- they'be been doing this for years and years -- National Public Radio recites the Declaration on the Fourth of July.. They begin with the Morning Edition host starting off reading the first phrase: "When in the course of human events . . . .", followed by a familar NPR voice reading the next phrase, etc. etc. until the entire declaration is read. It sends a shiver down your back -- mine anyway. Those of us who listen regularly to NPR recognize practically all the voices.

I can't tell you what time that it is. In this Washington, DC area 88.5 (WAMU) starts Morning Edition at 5 a.m. If you put it on and leave it on, within an hour or so you are bound to hear it.

Also -- every year -- they've been doing this since I was a boy, the New York Times devotes an entire page to a repro of the actual document. When I was older and my sons were boys -- I did this for years -- I would sit down at the table with them and read the main parts of the Declaration and explain it to them as we went along.

July 2, 2006 - 07:52 pm
We do "bread and circuses" today. We call it changing the national conversation. Sometimes we just call it diversion. One recent example may be found in the phrase," I did it to protect the American people." Another may be found in "Let's talk about gay marriage, abortion, and flag burning.

July 2, 2006 - 11:27 pm
The opening paragraph of the Declaration refers to the laws of Nature's God not to man's God or to God but to Nature's God. It is these laws which entitle the people to separate and equal station among the powers of the earth.

This is a different concept of God than we are used to. This God is possessed by nature. He is a captive of nature and he has a set of laws which are subservient to those of nature.

Jefferson must have thought long and hard about a reference to a god in the Declaration. He is a non-believer and may have acquiesed to pressure from a few delegates to include some reference to a deity. The Declaration concludes with "reliance upon the protection of divine providence." These are the only phrases to suggest an interest in a deity. The last reference has the quality of "yours truly"- a customary but meaningless salutation.

In any case, the language is a long way from that described by televangelists and public fundementalists in America who speak reverently of the religiosity of the founding fathers. One may well wonder which founding fathers thay have in mind.

July 2, 2006 - 11:48 pm

I did not see enough upward mobility among the have nots of New Orleans

July 2, 2006 - 11:52 pm

I gather that Pat Robertson's forte is not mind but unprocessed emotion. Except for money spinning. He got rich on pulling on simple people's nose rings, didn't he?

July 2, 2006 - 11:55 pm
As you say , Rich#43

nothing new. Except that the Emperor has enrolled popular religion as a circus act

July 2, 2006 - 11:59 pm
Robby #44 wonderful! Some say we need this sort of thing in Britain, as there seems to be great diffculty defining what 'Britishness' is, and it seems to be important to do so.I think their idea is to help us to regard ourselves more as fellow citizens and therefore be less likely to carry knives or bomb subway stations

robert b. iadeluca
July 3, 2006 - 04:01 am
Morality and Religion

robert b. iadeluca
July 3, 2006 - 04:14 am
"Does the general picture of medieval Europe support the belief that religion makes for morality?

"Our general impression suggests a wider gap between moral theory and practice in the Middle Ages than in other epochs of civilization.

"Medieval Christendom was apparently as rich as our own irreligious age in sensuality, violence, drunkenness, cruelty, coarseness, profanity, greed, robbery, dishonesty, and fraud. It seems to have outdone our time in the enslavement of individuals but not to have rivaled it in the economic enslavement of colonial areas or defeated states.

"It surpassed us in the subjection of women. It hardly equaled us in immodesty, fornication, and adultery, or in the immensity and murderousness of war.

"Compared with the Roman Empire from Nerva to Aurelius, medieval Christendom was a moral setback. But much of the Empire had in Nerva's day enjoyed many centuries of civilization while the Middle Ages, through most of their duration, represented a struggle between Christian morality and a virile barbarism that largely ignored the ethics of the religion whose theology it indifferently received.

"The barbarians would hve called some of the vices virtues as necessary to their time -- their violence as the other side of courage -- their sensuality as animal health -- their coarse and direct speech and their shameless talk about natural things, as no worse than the introverted prudery of our youth."

Durant is here not only talking about the Medieval Ages but is asking us to look at our own "modern" culture. Are we more civilized?


July 3, 2006 - 11:33 am
I grew up a "have" but ended up a "have-not." I married for love or what I thought was love (how can one really tell at 18). But I have to say that I was happier as a "have-not" than I ever was as a "have."

As to whether we are "more" civilized now. I think we are civilized if we go by the definitions at the top of the page, but the "more" can surely be debated.

July 4, 2006 - 12:10 am
The question remains (at least in my mind) do they now think they have the right to "ride" others?


The answer thru history has usually been YES! Which baffles me. It would seem to me if you have experienced the pain of being the "have not", whether in money, power, education, rights - whatever, that you would have empathy for those kinds of people when you become a "have." Sometimes it has worked that way in individual situations - I know, I know, Andrew Carnegie, etc. - but in group movements, the new powerful become mean/greedy "riders.".............why aren't all minority and workingclass men supportive of women's equality? .........yeah, yeah, i know it has to do with only so many pieces in the pie - supposedly - but does it?

Bread and circuses? - legitimate professional sports, the WWF, yes, all those phony issues that Justin mentioned, reality tv shows, NASCAR, "yellow/orange" terrorist warnings, revival meetings, on and one. Some of them are just darn fun and some of them are dangerous............ History just DOES repeat itself, sometimes in different costumes...........

Justin, i consider myself one who has always been "O.K." sometimes having more "have" than at other times, now being modestly comfortable in all those areas mentioned above (money/power/rights, etc)

What's the definition of a "have?" ............jean

July 4, 2006 - 03:48 am


"As Thomas Jefferson said late in life, when explaining the genesis of the Declaration of Independence, the ideas expressed in it were 'the common sense of the subject' in Revolutionary America. In drafting the Declaration, he had not meant to proclaim any 'new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of,' but merely to express 'the American mind.' The Declaration contains a stunning summation of the principles of free government; but it was only because the American people had already learned to understand and to embrace these principles that it was possible to establish an American republic. As the Declaration proclaims, the just powers of government are derived from 'the consent of the governed.' Only a people prepared to consent to a republic is capable of establishing one—or capable of keeping it, as Benjamin Franklin later reminded his fellow citizens. Are we still such a people? No one else can answer this question for us. It is up to this generation, as it has been up to each generation that preceded us and will be up to each generation that succeeds us, to demonstrate our capacity for self-government. This we do for our own sake and for the sake of the cause to which our country was dedicated on that Fourth of July long ago."

The Honorable Determination

July 4, 2006 - 11:03 am
I read this paragraph in the editorial section of "Time" magazine and although it isn't about the period of time that we are discussing perhaps there are those here that might be interested in it:

"...I recently returned to "Time" after two years of running the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, a wonderful new museum and educational center on Independence Mall. While there, I got to know the great historian David McCullough, who has been on a one-man campaign to end the epidemic of what he calls historical illiteracy. I believe that our "Making of America" series is an antidote to historical illitracy, which David describes as a great danger to our democracy. Being an American is not based on a common ancestry, a common religion, even a common culture - it's based on accepting an uncommon set of ideas. And if we don't understand those ideas, we don't value them; and if we don't value them, we don't protect them. A nation can never be ignorant and free, said Thomas Jefferson..." ~ Richard Stengel, Managing Editor "Times" July 3, 2006

In a since aren't we discussing the "ideas" of the Middle Ages and how they valued them and than how they protected them. Isn't that what history is really all about?

July 4, 2006 - 09:44 pm
If you get a chance to go to the Nat'l Const Cntr, go, it's wonderful, Stengel has done a great job and they have interesting exhibits, both permanent and changing. .....jean

robert b. iadeluca
July 5, 2006 - 04:15 am
"Christianity brought some moral retrogressions and some moral advances.

"The intellectual virtues naturally declined in the Age of Faith. Intellectual conscience (fairness with the facts) and the search for truth were replaced by zeal and admiration for sanctity and a sometimes unscrupulous piety.

"'Pious frauds' of textual doctoring and documentary forgery seemed negligible venial sins. The civic virtues suffered from concentration on the after life but more from the disintegration of the state. Nevertheless there must have been some patriotism, however local, in the men and women who built so many cathedrals and some lordly town halls.

"Perhaps hypocrisy, so indispensable to civilization, increased in the Middle Ages as compared with the frank secularism of antiquity or the unabashed corporate brutality of our time."

Is hypocrisy indispensable to civilization?


July 5, 2006 - 04:21 am
It might be necessary so as to live in peace with one's neighbor, even if it is a bit dishonest.

July 5, 2006 - 08:15 am
One may have quarrels with the hypocrisies of Christianity, but still Christianity had a moderating effect on the brutalities of those “half a millennium of invasion, war, and destruction.” Discussions here frequently touch on this point. It’s an interesting “what might have been” concept: if it weren’t for Christianity would there be a Western Civilization? Would there be a Europe?

Hypocrisy IS indispensable to civilization. These days we eschew the word hypocrisy, choosing words that we think express the concept without the negativity. Words such as diplomatic, diplomatic channels, protocols, etc.

July 5, 2006 - 08:30 am
Interesting question by Tooki. "If it weren't for Christianity would we have a Western civilization?"

In my opinion, if we didn't have Christianity, we would have embraced and "institutionalized" another religion to serve the same human need.

Quoting Voltaire, " If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him."


July 5, 2006 - 09:28 am
I agree. Rich. If there had not been Christianity, there would have been some other patriarchal religion. Perhaps not a trinitarian religion though. Although, considering the influence of Zoroastrianism on Christianity, I cant imagine how the incarnationist idea would not have caught on. Certainly the Manichean heresy (2 Gods)which was taken up notably by the Cathars, could have developed into an all-European form of Christianity, if the powerful Roman Catholic hierarchy had not conquered the heretics.

The Arian heresy (Jesus was entirely human) may also have won out over Rome, if the heretics had been well organised.

July 5, 2006 - 10:31 am
If you want to get an inkling as to what it would be like if Christianity had not flourished I suggest you read: L. Sprague de Camp's "Lest Darkness Fall." "The Roman Empire had spread order, knowledge, and civilization throughout the ancient world. When Rome fell, the light of reason flickered out across the Empire. The Dark Ages had begun; they would last a thousand years..."

July 5, 2006 - 05:15 pm
I too agree with you, Rich. If Christianity had not flourished,some other spiritual mechanism would have served rulers to keep the masses in line. Many religions had already flourished and been absorbed by succeeding religions by the time Christianity evolved. Religion and a priesthood prooved very useful in several societies.

However, I don't think people, inherently,have a need for the gifts of religion. The great mass can be fooled easily but the need for forgiveness, an essential ingredient of Christianity, does not exist if sin does not exist. Personal injury is resolved with apology, contrition, monetary compensation and occasionally with revenge.

July 5, 2006 - 11:17 pm
Scrawler, Rome was the victorious empire builder, so Rome perpetuated its own 'history'. Actually , the Barbarians were as civilised as Rome, but less strong

robert b. iadeluca
July 6, 2006 - 03:28 am
The Resurrection of the Arts

robert b. iadeluca
July 6, 2006 - 03:41 am
Note the changes in the GREEN quotes in the Heading to see where we are now and where we are headed.

"Why is it that Western Europe, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, reached a climax of art comparable with Periclean Athens and Augustan Rome?

The Norse and Saracen raids had been beaten off, the Magyars had been tamed.

"The Crusades aroused a fever of creative energy and brought back to Europe a thousand ideas and art forms from the Byzantine and Moslem East.

"The reopening of the Mediterranean and the opening of the Atlantic to Christian commerce, the security and organization of trade along the rivers of France and Germany and on the northern seas, and the expansion of industry and finance generated a wealth unknown since Constantine.

"New classes capable of affording art, and prosperous communes each resolved to build a finer cathedral than the last. The coffers of abbots, bishops, and popes were swelling with the tithes of the people, the gifts of the merchants, the grants of nobles and kings.

"The Iconoclasts had been defeated. Art was no longer branded as idolatry. The Church, which once had feared it found in it now a propitious medium for inculcating her faith and ideals among the letterless and for stirring souls to a devotion that lifted spires like supplicatiing litanies to the sky.

"And the new religion of Mary, rising spontaneously from the hearts of the people, poured its love and trust of the Divine Mother into magnificent temples where thousands of her children might gather at once to do her homage and beg her aid.

"All these influences and many more, came together to flood half a continent with profuse streams of unprecedented art."

Your comments, please?


July 6, 2006 - 04:07 am
I wonder in what way art 'was branded as idolatry' in the dark ages. Does this say more about what the authors think is the nature of art, than facts about man's imaginative quests during the dark ages?

In the same vein, I wonder what the authors mean by 'spontaneous'.

July 6, 2006 - 07:20 am
Here is a brief discussion from Wikipedia about the importance of the “Iconoclasts.” Durant saying, “…art was no longer branded as idolatry…,”appears to be shorthand, compressing many centuries of development in art into a pithy comment. He’s really good at that

"During Charlemagne's reign the Iconoclasm controversy was dividing the Byzantine Empire. Charlemagne decided to take a middle road, not allowing the complete destruction of human images, but not going so far as to allow their worship either. This decision not to adopt iconoclastic principles, and to allow the use of human figures in moderation, had immense consequences, for it was out of Carolingian art that western Romanesque and Gothic art developed — had Charlemagne sided with the Iconoclasts, the history of Western art would have been very different."

July 6, 2006 - 08:57 am
Thanks Tooki. There is quite a lot packed into Durants' words

Éloïse De Pelteau
July 6, 2006 - 09:53 am
Tell me if I am wrong, but wasn't art the masses' text book? If the populace was illiterate for the most part in the Middle Ages, I feel that it might have been only through artistic expression that the message of faith could be transmitted. The population might not have had many chances of text transmission of religion but through art a large population could 'read' the message

Works of art has a compelling visual language that anybody can appreciate no matter of little formal education one receives. I am thinking also of their short life span, they had to cram everything in a few short years and if they happened to have a few minutes to elevate their soul between their endless chores it took to earn a living they went home happier than before.

Churches and cathedrals were the people's schools, both orally and visually through art and the populace found enough satisfaction and stimulation there to quench their thirst for knowledge of the Almighty God as the artist expressed the inner sentiments on canvas and on stone to this unlearned population.

I try to put myself in their places, would I have been different?

July 6, 2006 - 01:04 pm
Mallylee: The comment about the "Barbarians as civilized as the Romans but less strong" is a complex thought. Certainly the Romans were an advanced civilization but so too were the Greeks and Egyptians in the same time period, although in a declining state. In lesser degree were the Carthaginians and in much lesser degree were the Celts,Germans and Alpine tribes.

Barbarian today means "uncivilized." When the Greeks used the term, they meant one who did not speak Greek.

July 6, 2006 - 02:40 pm
The church began very early to use images to explain it's cult ideas. Some encaustics as well as mosaics remain from the period of proscription. In some of these images Christ appears as a beardless shephard.

Images of Roman emperors were venerated at this time and worship of the emperor god before his image was considered the same as worship of the emperor in person. It was not a stretch then for Christian images to be venerated in the same way. In the fifth century the walls, floors and ceilings of churches were decorated with images of Christ and saints.

In the sixth century emperors thought the veneration had gone too far. They introduced measures to destroy every image in every church leaving only the cross. The measures were successful. We have very few icons left fromm the period.

In the ninth century Church councils at Nicea made religious images acceptable again. The rush to recreate the images of earlier centuries coincided with a renaisance that culminated in the 12th and 13th cnturies. The Crusades, expansion of trade, and stoppage of the raids by northern tribes, permitted the people to express the ideas of the period in art. Chaos diminished and the people found time to advance culturally.

July 7, 2006 - 01:03 am

The fact is, the Romans had the world's first professional army

July 7, 2006 - 07:11 am
As is commonly assumed, by "Barbarian" the Greeks meant non-Greek speakers. What the Romans meant was apparently closer to our use of the words contemptuous and loathful.

However, according to H.D.F.Kitto. “the fact that the barbarians did not speak Greek was a sign of a profounder difference: it meant that they did not live Greek or think Greek either. Their whole attitude to life seemed different; and a Greek, however much he might admire or even envy a “Barbarian” for this reason or that, could not but be aware of this difference.…The pre-classical Greek, Homer for instance, does not speak of the “Barbarians” this way, not because he was more polite that his descendents, but because this difference had not yet declared itself.” (From “The Greeks,”)

Humphrey Davy Findley Kitto, (1897-1982) was a well known British classical scholar. His 1951 general treatment, "The Greeks" covered the whole range of ancient Greek culture and became a standard university text.

"Think Greek?" Not "think like a Greek," but "Think Greek." What a wonderful idea! I think maybe Eloise would like to "think medieval," so she could understand medieval devotion more than she already demonstrates she does! I would like to "think religious" so that I might understand and feel the need for religion.

July 7, 2006 - 12:17 pm
Mally: What is "codswallop"? Kitto is ok but JB Bury and Durant are more thorough. Herodotus and Thucydides are also useful.

July 7, 2006 - 12:36 pm
JUSTIN: you don't know codswollop? Where are the good old insults?

The people who are dominant always think of those they are oppressing or bullying as ignorant savages, or some other derogatory stereotype. Remember, it is just one of those same "Barbarians" who later called himself an "Aryan"(sp?) and used that as a justification for killing or conquering the "inferior" races.

Do you think there is a touch of that in the way the United States deals with other countries -- as if they just aren't smart enough to be just like us?

July 7, 2006 - 04:22 pm
JoanK. There is more than "just a touch" I'm afraid. If we continue as we have been, I fear, our centuries are limited. We are self destructing more and more each year.

kiwi lady
July 7, 2006 - 04:32 pm
As one of the inferiors that is what we feel. The US is running the world and the UN and is imposing its philosophies on the rest of us. By that I mean its dependance on military might and nuclear weapons. I wish Americans could walk in the shoes of countries like mine who have been bullied for their stance on having a mainly peacekeeping army and a nuclear free policy. To a certain extent also we are bullied by Australia which swings far too big a club for its size on the world stage. Wonder if thats to do with the fact they have large deposits of Uranium.

elizabeth 78
July 7, 2006 - 06:01 pm
justin and kiwi lady: i wonder if there is a site in seniornet where these ideas are being discussed.

robert b. iadeluca
July 7, 2006 - 06:03 pm
Welcome, Elizabeth! Nice to have you joining us.


July 7, 2006 - 06:25 pm
Crusaders returning from the "holy land" carried new Byzantine ideas to Europe. In painting that meant flat images on a two dimensional surface embossed in hammered gold leaf. In architecture that meant heavy stone walls supporting lead roofs with barrel vaults and small incised windows. In sculpture that meant less stylized and more human figures in human poses.

Europeans, during and after the Crusades,traveled extensively on foot and horseback. They carried with them reliquaries and breviaries. Reliquaries are small boxes containing a family's relics. Breviaries were made with miniature illuminated oil paintings in initial letters. The boxes and breviaries are works of art. Some, such as the Tres Riches Heures of the Duke of Burgundy, have been preserved.

kiwi lady
July 7, 2006 - 07:07 pm
Elizabeth I would not advise the Political folders. There are some vicious posters in there who will attack you should your opinion veer from the norm. This folder here is one of the sanest in in SN. In Books everyone may not agree but we are respectful of each others opinion and can debate without personal attack. Probably best thing to do would be to find a book that discusses this issue and others and moot a discussion on the book.


July 8, 2006 - 01:08 am
Thanks Justin! I only realized now that relics means remains from any person and not just from saints. Those educating nuns had a narrow view.

July 8, 2006 - 01:30 am
Justin, thank you for explaining Reliquaries and Breviaries. I bet these are "works of art." Is there any way we might see these tiny boxes? I just can imagine their beauty.

July 8, 2006 - 01:44 am
Here are some pictures from breviaries

and on reliquaries

July 8, 2006 - 01:47 am
Bubble, great!!

robert b. iadeluca
July 8, 2006 - 03:57 am
"The ancient techniques had here and there survived barbarian devastation and municipal decay.

"In the Eastern Empire the old skills were never lost. It was above all from the Greek East and Byzantine Italy that artists and art themes now entered the life of the resurrected West.

"Charlemagne drew into his service Greek artists fleeing from Byzantine Iconoclasts. Hence the art of Aachen married Byzantine delicacy and mysticism to German solidity and earthiness.

"The monk artists of Cluny, inaugurating in the tenth century a new era in Western architecture and adornment, began by copying Byzantine models. The school of monastic art developed at Monte Cassino by Abbot Desiderius was taught by Greek teachers on Byzantine lines. When Honorius wished to decorate San Paolo fuori le mura he sent to Venice for mosaicists.

"Those who came were steeped in the Byzantine tradition. Colonies of Byzantine artists could be found in a score of Western cities. It was their style of painting that molded Duccio, Cunabue, and the early Giotto himself.

"Byzantine or Oriental motives -- palmertes, acanthus leavs, animals within medallions -- came to the West on textiles and ivories and in illiminated manuscripts and lived hundreds of years in Romanesque ornament.

"Syrian, Anatolian, Persian forms of architecture -- the vault, the dome, the tower, flanked facade, the composite column, the windows, grouped by two or three under a binding arch -- appeared again in the architecture of the West.

"History makes no leaps and nothing is lost."

That last sentence is profound.


July 8, 2006 - 04:43 am
The tapestry of Cluny are world famous.

A novel was written based on their depiction of the six senses: The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier.

July 8, 2006 - 04:49 am

Basilica San Paolo fuori le Mura- exterior

July 9, 2006 - 03:22 pm
BUBBLE - your last post reminded me also of the beauty of some of the numerous Persian Miniatures and architectural styles, which are included in much of the classical Persian literature. Here's a link to one form of architecture, which is recognized world-wide.

And another depicting some well known Persian works.

July 9, 2006 - 09:20 pm
Mahlia: It is wonderful to see you contributing again. I've missed your comments a great deal. Please don't go away again.

robert b. iadeluca
July 10, 2006 - 02:50 am
"Just as the development of life requires variation as well as heredity and the development of society needs experimental innovation as well as stabilizing custom, so the development of art in Western Europe involved not only the community of a tradition in skills and forms and the stimulation of Byzantine and Moslem examples but also the repeated turning of the artist from the school to nature -- from ideas to things -- from the past to the present -- from the imitation of models to the expression of self.

"There was a somber and static quality in Byzantine art, a fragile and feminine elegance in Arabic ornament that could never present the dynamic and masculine vitality of a rebarbarized and reinvigorated West.

"Nations that were rising out of the Dark Ages toward the noon of the thirteenth century preferred the noble grace of Giotto's women to the stiff Theodoras of Byzantine mosaics and, laughing at the Semitic horror of images, they transformed mere decoration into the smiling angel of the Reims Cathedral and the Golden Virgin of Amiens.

"The joy lf life conquered the fear of death in Gothic art."

What a powerful paragraph! Development of life requires variation. Development of society requires innovation. Moving from school to nature - from ideas to things - from the past to the present. A rebarbarized West. The noon of the thirteenth century. Joy of life conquered the fear of death.

What are your thoughts on all this, folks?


July 10, 2006 - 03:22 am
Golden Virgin of Amiens

Statuary, Reims Cathedral

July 10, 2006 - 08:02 am
THIS portrait of St. Francis by Cimabue, when compared to icons of St. Francis, is an example of the moving away from the Byzantine tradition. That is, perhaps icons should be considered as illustrations of an idea, and the movement toward naturalism is a movement toward things. What are your views, Justin?

July 10, 2006 - 04:19 pm
Durant describes the changes in art during the Duecento and the effects of those changes in the Trecento so well I hesitate to embellish any of his material. This is the period of the proto-renaisance. It is the beginning of the movement in art away from the lifeless, stylized,but colorful, figures of the Byzantine and toward naturalism. Cimabue painted in the Byzantine manner in 1280 and 1290.As 1300 (the Trecento) approached his manner changed and his fresco painted image of Saint Francis from the upper Church at Assisi is the very first expression of the shift toward naturalism that occurred in this period. Cimabue's pupil,Giotto,however,greatly enlarged the concept and expanded it to such an extent that one thinks of Giotto as the seminal painter of the Proto-Renaisance. I tell you this and yet I know that Cimabue's work is not unchallenged but that's a problem for art historians.

Durant tells us artists moved from the school to nature and so we see they did. One can also recognize a change in images from the past to the present in the Saint Francis frescoes. Francis died in 1226 and the frescoes were painted in the 1290's. In the long span of history seventy years is practically the present.

July 10, 2006 - 04:37 pm
While a shift from the past to the present in art is noticeable, it is not the present as one ordinarily conceives of the present. One might expect portraiture as the present but such is not the case. Even in the Naumburg sculptures of Ekkehard and his wife Uta,we are looking at an idealized German woman. Yet the forms are natural.

Consider the sculptured forms of the Visitation at Chartres. Here, two women are in obvious conversation. What could be more natural? It is clearly an expression of self as Durant points out.At Reins, I think, Saint Nicoise is surrounded by two smiling angels- another expression of self. There is lots of speculation about the cause of the smiles. Was Saint Nicoise innocent and the two women smiling because he missed out on one of life's great pleasures? Who knows.

July 10, 2006 - 04:44 pm
I take issue with Durant when he says, "Artists transformed mere decoration into the smiling angels." I don't think any of the sculpture adorning the cathedrals of this period was "mere decoration". It's purpose was didactic though I must admit that some of the sculptures are placed so high on the buildings one would need optical aid to get the message.

robert b. iadeluca
July 10, 2006 - 05:08 pm
The Adornment of Life

robert b. iadeluca
July 10, 2006 - 05:16 pm
"It was a monk who wrote the most complete and revealing summary of medieval arts and crafts.

"Theophilus -- 'lover of God' in the monastery of Helmershausen near Paderhorn -- wrote about 1190 a Schedula diversarum artium:-

'Theophilus, a humble priest addresses his words to all who wish, by the practical work of their hands, and by the pleasing meditation of what is new, to put aside all sloth of mind and wandering of spirit. Here shall such men find all that Greece possesses in the way of diverse colors and mixtures -- all that Tuscany knows of the working of enamels -- all that Arabia has to show of works ducile, fusible, or chassed -- all the many vases and sculptured gems and ivory that italy adorns with gold -- all that France prizes in costly variety of windows -- all that is extolled in gold, silver, copper, or iron, or in subtle working of wood or stone.'

"Here in a paragraph we see another side of the Age of Faith -- men and women, and not least monks and nuns, seeking to satisfy the impulse to expression, taking pleasure in proportion, harmony, and form, and eager to make the useful beautiful."


robert b. iadeluca
July 11, 2006 - 04:12 am
"The medieval scene, however suffused with religion, is above all a picture of men and women working.

"And the first and basic purpose of their art is the adornment of their work, their bodies, and their homes.

"Thousands of woodworkers used knife, drill, gouge, chisel, and polishing materials to carve tables, chairs, benches, chests, caskets, cabinets, stairposts, wainscots, beds, cupboards, buffets,icons, altarpieces, choir stalls -- with an incredible variety of forms and themes in high or low relief, and often with a mischievous humor tht recognizd no barrier between the sacred and the profane.

"On the misericords one might find figures of misers, gluttons, gossipers, grotesque beasts and birds with human heads.

"In Venice the wood carvers sometimes made frames more beautiful and costly than the pictures they enclosed.

"The Germans began in the twelfth century that remarkable wood sculpture which would become a major art in the sixteenth."

Any artists or art lovers here?


July 11, 2006 - 04:50 am

Medieval and Renaissance Woodworking

Society for Creative Anachronism today

Will's Medieval Woodworkiing, as done today

FAQ: Medieval woodworking

July 11, 2006 - 05:02 am
About stained glass

July 11, 2006 - 05:02 am

Les Tres Riches Heures de Duc De Berry

July 11, 2006 - 05:10 am
food and feasting


July 11, 2006 - 06:32 am

Off topic: The fraud of primitive authenticity

July 11, 2006 - 08:23 am
Malryn, an interesting point of view which I am surprised may be news to any reasonably educated person.Even the Bible has substantial traces of tribal morality, until the prophets came along.

I am a European ex-Christian, and I for one, dont suffer at all from being ex. There is plenty to substitute for Christian ritual, beliefs and fellowship. There are urgent ethical issues that need to be addressed, and there is the whole array of arts and sciences as manna for the soul.

What surprised me most was the author's assuming that Americans in general are devoted to a Bowdlerised version of indigenous inhabitants. If this is true that they are so devoted, it's quite possible that the cause is , as suggested, filling the spiritual gap. The more dogmatic versions of Christianity are much to blame for failing the Christian flock in the search for authenticity.

Thanks again, Malryn

July 11, 2006 - 12:42 pm
Riemanschneider was a great wood carver of a slightly later period.

July 11, 2006 - 01:00 pm



July 11, 2006 - 11:01 pm
Are those Riemanschnieders not great or what.The guy on Jesus' right is supposed to be sweet faced John the one who might in reality be the Magdalene. R, makes him look like a hawkish man.

robert b. iadeluca
July 12, 2006 - 03:58 am
"Cameos -- small reliefs on precious material -- were popular among the rich.

"Henry III of England had a 'great cameo' valued at $40,000. Baldwin II brought a still more celebrated cameo from Constantinople to house it at Paris in Sainte Chapell.

"Ivory was painstakingly carved throughout the Middle Ages -- combs, boxes, handles, drinking horns, icons, book covers, diprychs and triptychs, episocpal staffs and croziers, relinquaries, shrines.

"Astonishingly close to perfection is a thirteenth century ivory group in the Louvre depicting the Descent from the Cross.

"Toward the end of that century romance and humor gained upon piety and delicate carvings of sometimes very delicate scenes appeared on mirror cases and toilet boxes desinged for ladies who could not be pious all the time."

Comments, please?


July 12, 2006 - 06:07 am

Some Medieval ivory

The Noah cameo

The Medieval chest

July 12, 2006 - 03:26 pm
I learned early in art school that ornament, embellishment, and adornment were dirty words. that “modernism” had found the true faith and the true faith was “Form Follows Function.” The result was organic, unadorned art – whether a building, a sculpture, or a painting. If somehow an object still looked like it contained ornament, it was disdainfully called “craft.” “Eclectic” was another dirty word, indicating borrowing ideas, forms, and ornament from previous or other cultures.

The religion of Form Follows Function took shape around the turn of the last century and the first part of the new 20th century. However, it appears to now have had its day.

“Ornament Follows Function” is as true as “Form Follows Function.” There are new magazines, such as “Surface Treatment,” “Ornament,” and “Raw Vision,” devoted to discussions and examples of the “new ornament."

I currently am a beader, after years of doing sculpture and photography. I work with those small, glass, trade beads, gluing them on various sculptural objects. I found "Modernism" extremely confining, and I am glad to see it lose its grip on art.

July 12, 2006 - 03:48 pm
As for the article in #106 - BALDERDASH! .......jean

robert b. iadeluca
July 12, 2006 - 04:43 pm

robert b. iadeluca
July 12, 2006 - 04:48 pm
"The Pictorial art in the Age of Faith took four principal forms -- mosaic, miniatures, murals, and stained glass.

"The mosaic art was now in its old age but in the course of 2000 years it had learned many subtleties.

"To make the gold ground they loved so well, mosaicists wrapped gold lear around glass cubes, covered the leaf with a thin film of glass to keep the gold from tarnishing and then, to avoid surface glare, laid the gilded cubes in slightly uneven planes.

"The light was reflected at diverse angles from the cubes and gave an almost living texture to the whole."


July 12, 2006 - 06:12 pm
Mosaic of Zoe and Constantine IX Monomachos

July 12, 2006 - 11:10 pm
Tooki: Form follows function... is a product of the industrial revolution. We have gone through a process in which products, early on, were embellished and ornamentalized. Consider the Chicago school of architecture. Sullivan, the foremost architect of this ornamental school was a teacher of Wright who pioneered the form follows function concept in architecture. In some art forms the change is very recent. Wright's concepts were modified in the International style and again by Corbusier, and again by Mies Von der Rohe. Concepts such as "form follows function" are alive and change shape with each new artist who thinks he will invent something new as well as create a masterpiece that will have lasting value in the public mind.

In my own University, the Art department, on the studio side was headed by an abstract expressionist. No longer does form follow function. The struggle now is to find emotional satisfaction in every brush stroke. The form of a work appears to almost whimsical and a work is finished when the artist says it is finished.That's not new but no one else would come to same conclusion. Kline for example draws five lines with a black brush and we meditate to give the work meaning and value. We are not yet finished with that concept. But it will pass. That is one of joys of being an artist. One is always reaching for something new and different but satisfying.

The form and function concept was over when Duchamp hung his urinal on the wall and said art is what I say it is.

The dirty words of your period in school will return to favor one day but in another form that we can't see now.

July 13, 2006 - 12:00 am

I love your Post 118, JUSTIN.


July 13, 2006 - 12:28 am

How about this celebration of a civilization?

robert b. iadeluca
July 13, 2006 - 03:44 am

robert b. iadeluca
July 13, 2006 - 03:48 am
"The illumination of manuscripts with miniature paintings and decoration in liquid silver and gold and colored inks continued to be a favorite art, gratefully adapted to monastic quiet and p;iety.

"Like so many phases of medieval activity, it reached its Western apogee in the thirteenth century. Never again has it been so delicate, inventive, or profuse. The stiff figures and drapes and hard greens and reds of the eleventh century were gradually replaced with forms of grace and tenderness in richer hues on backgrounds of blue or gold.

"The Virgin conquered the miniature even as she was capturing the cathedral."


July 13, 2006 - 07:33 am

Illuminated Manuscripts: Medieval France

July 13, 2006 - 01:05 pm
and music of this period. As i have said before tho' when i look at those gorgeous cathedrals, i think of the sacrifices that were made by the masses of people to pay for them. I don't know tho' what the people's attitudes were - did they feel as tho they were helping to build something for eternity, something beautiful? If that was the case, i feel o.k. about it. It they were just browbeaten to give money, that gives me a different feeling about them. In any case, it's wonderful to have them, and the rest of the arts produced by the Church..........jean

July 13, 2006 - 04:19 pm
Jean: It was the people who built the cathedrals. When the oxen could not pull the heavy loads alone towns people laced themselves in to the traces and pulled to bring the blocks to the site. There are numerous instances of that order to indicate that our cathedral was really "our cathedral".

robert b. iadeluca
July 14, 2006 - 03:25 am

robert b. iadeluca
July 14, 2006 - 03:38 am
"It is difficult to tell how far the miniatures, in subject and design, influenced murals, panels, icons, ceramic painting, sculptural relief, and stained glass and how far these influenced illumination.

"There was among these arts a free trade in themes and styles, a continuous interaction and sometimes the same artist practiced them all. We do injustice for art and artist alike when we separate one art too sharply from the rest or the arts from the life of their time.

"Reality is always more integrated than our chronicles. The historian disintegrates for convenience' sake the elements of a civilization whose components flowed as a united stream.

"We must try not to sever the artist from the cultural complex that reared and taught him, gave him traditions and topics -- praised or tormented him, used him up, buried him, and -- more often than not -- forgot his name."


July 14, 2006 - 04:52 am


July 14, 2006 - 01:24 pm
We are in the period in Art called the International Style in Northern countries and Proto Renaisance in Italy and southern countries. It is a period in which painting is devoted to religious themes, and figures surrounded by architectural structures. The Flemish Limbourg brothers, as well as Broederlam, were prominent in the period.

Illuminated manuscripts were common from about 1000 or so when the Utrecht Salter was made at Canterbury. Illumination means to adorn or decorate and in this case we are talking mostly about hand written books adrorned in the margins and in an initial letter. In some instances whole pages were illuminated. The themes were primarily religious but there are several late examples of this work depicting city scapes.

Some of the earliest examples of illuminated manuscripts contain figures of biblical personages depicted with"beetle back" arms and legs. The Bury Bible is a good example.

The various books of hours which we have seen several times in this discussion might be fun to look at again. Scenes from farm life and nobility activity are historically worthwhile as well as pleasant to examine. The Tres Riche Heures which Mal has brought up for us is a fine example.

Some where around the beginning of the 13th century lay painters began to take over from the monkish scriptorums and painters like Jean Pucelle became prominent in "book of Hours" work. The Belleville Breviary is an example of his work.

Illumination continued until well into the 16th century and the invention of printing when it gradually phased out.

July 14, 2006 - 02:01 pm
One thing that struck me when I read Ken Follet's "Pillars of the Earth" was how long it took for these murals etc took to do. Whole generations would pass from beginning to end. For example your great-grandfather might start it and than his great-grandson would finish what he started. I wonder if any of us would have the same endurance to do something like that today.

July 14, 2006 - 08:31 pm

There is a 2nd and beginning a 3rd generation of sculptors working on a sculpture of Crazy Horse. Of course it's a mountain they're carving. It's in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where summers are hot and winter's cold. Perhaps it's done by now.

Crazy Horse

July 14, 2006 - 08:46 pm

There sure are a lot of these. Apparently no Library considers itself arrived unless it owns a miniature from someones Book of Hours.

Book of Hours

robert b. iadeluca
July 15, 2006 - 04:13 am
Stained Glass

robert b. iadeluca
July 15, 2006 - 04:22 am
"Italy was a century ahed of the North in murals and mosaics, a century behind in architecture and stained gass.

"The art of painting glass had been known to antiquity but chiefly in the form of glass mosaic.

"Gregory of Tours filled the windows of St. Martin's with glass 'of varied colors' and in the same century Paul the Silentiary remarked the splendor of sunlight as filtered through the variously colored windows of St. Sophis's at Constantinople. In these cases, so far as we know, there was no attempt at making pictures with the glass.

"But about 980 Archbishop Adallero of Reims adorned his cathedral with windows 'containing histories.'

"In 1052 the chronicle of St. Benignus described a 'very ancient painted window' representing St. Paschasius in a church at Dijon. Here was historiated glass but apparently the color was painted upon the glass, not fused into it.

"When Gothic architecture reduced the strain on walls and made space for larger windows, the abundant light thereby admitted into the church allowed -- indeed, demanded -- the coloring of the panes.

"Every stimulus was present to find a method of more permanently painting glass."


July 15, 2006 - 05:18 am




July 15, 2006 - 08:48 pm
Bubble: The rockets from Hezbollah are getting uncomfortably close to your town. Are they not? Tell us you are safe, please.

robert b. iadeluca
July 15, 2006 - 08:58 pm

robert b. iadeluca
July 15, 2006 - 09:06 pm
"Much Roman sculpture had been destroyed as loot by victorious barbarism, or as obscene idolatry by nascent Christianity.

"Something had remained, especially in France, to excite the imagination of barbarism tamed and a Christian culture coming of age.

"In this art, as in others, the Eastern Roman Empire had preserved old models and skills, had overlaid them with Asiatic conventions and mysticism and had redistributed to the West the seeds that had come to it from Rome.

"Greek carvers went to Germany after Theophano married Otto II. They went to Venice, Ravenna, Rome, Naples, Sicily, perhaps to Barcelona and Marseille. From such men, and from the Moslem artists of his Regno, the sculptors of Frederick II may have learned their trade.

"When barbarism became rich it could afford to wed beauty. When the Church became rich she took sculpture, like the other arts into the service of her creed and ritual.

"That, after all, was the way the major arts had developed in Egypt and Asia, in Greece and Rome. Great art is the child of a triumphant faith."


July 15, 2006 - 09:07 pm
Dale Chihuly, American, Contemporary Glass Artist, has a museum in Tacoma, Washington, devoted to his work. (Tacoma is spitting distance from Seattle.)

In Medieval Europe the glass art was devoted to the church. In contemporary America the museum (with its church like demeanor) is devoted to the glass artist.

July 15, 2006 - 09:31 pm
There are several factors that led to the developmnt of stained glass windows. During the Romanesque period in architecture windows were small and recessed as in fortresses. Little light penetrated the churches through such openings.

The development of the flying buttress, which stabilized the thrust of vaulting, permitted walls to be slendarized, opened, and in the final forms of the Gothic,almost eliminated. It allowed windows to be enlarged and pushed forward bringing light to church interiors.

At the same time the Murano glass workers found new ways to process glass with color emdedded in the glass. The colors were limited to yellow, red, green, and blue. But these were enough to create some magnificent windows.

Early windows were confined to the east and west ends of Cathedrals. The dimensions of the glass was limited by the characteristics of tracery. At first tracery was heavy and confining and not conducive to image construction. But as tracery advanced through several stages curvilinearity was achieved and the great windows of the High Gothic were created for arcades, triforiums, and even clerestories.

They punctuated the walls of chapels and eventually encompassed entire walls. The best example of this stage is the Paris reliquary called Ste. Chapelle. There are two full decks enclosed by stained glass walls. The interior experience in daylight is exquisite. It is as though one were inside a jewel.

I will try to identify many of the important windows in Europe and in England and talk a little about some of them in the next post.

July 15, 2006 - 10:13 pm
Chartres Cathedral is particulary blessed with stained glass. Great rose windows let colored light into the north and south transepts. Lancet windows are used to tell the stories of Christianity. There is a lancet called the Tree of Jesse. It depicts the lineage of the Virgin, beginning with Jesse through David to Mary and thence to Jesus.There are lancets depicting the Passion and the Resurection, as well as one depicting the nativity cycle. The west rose window at Chartres is achieved with early tracery and it's result is outstanding.

The rose window in the North Transept at Notre Dame, Paris is achieved in Blue and Yellow. It is breathtaking. Reds and yellow dominate the south transept rose at Amiens which was brought about using a tracery of curvilinear forms. The tracery can be seen in a view of the facade from outside.

English Cathedrals and Abbeys have used windows to commemorate temporal heros. Isaak Walton, the notorius fly fisherman has a window at Winchester Cathedral and the men of the royal Air Force who died in the battle of Britain is memorialized at Westminster Abbey.

Coventry Cathedral is rebuilt after it's destruction in WWll. The glass work is contemporary with blues and yellows dominant. Linearity is a strong element in the work. It's nice but it does not give me the same emotional kick I get from Medieval roses.


robert b. iadeluca
July 16, 2006 - 04:11 am
Please note the change in the GREEN quotes in the Heading showing where we are now and where we are headed.

"Why did Western Europe build so many churches in the three centuries after 1000?

"While need was there, in a Europe with hardly a fifth of its present population, for temples so vast that they are now rarely filled even on the holiest days? How could an agricultural civilization afford to build such costly edifices which a wealthy industrialism can barely maintain?

"The population was small, but it believed.

"It was poor, but it gave.

"On holy days or in pilgrimage churches, the worshipers were so numerous, said Suger of St. Denis, that 'women were forced to run toward the altar on the heads of men as a pavement.' The great abbot was raising funds to build his masterpice and could be forgiven a little exaggeration.

"In towns like Florence, Pisa, Chartres, York, it was desirable on occasion to gather the entire population into one edifice. In populous monasteries the abbey church had to accommodate monks and nuns and laity.

"Relics had to be guarded in special shrines with room for intimate devotion and a spacious sancturary was needed for major rituals. Side altars were required in abbeys and cathedrals whose many priests were expected to say Mass every day.

"A separate altar or chapel for each favored saint might incline his ear to petitioners and Mary had to have a 'Lady Chapel' if the whole cathedral was not hers."

A community center?


July 16, 2006 - 06:49 am
Here is a assortment of the favorite stained glass windows.

Stained Glass Gallery

Use the little navigational doohickies at the bottom of the page to see others.

July 16, 2006 - 07:07 am

BUBBLE has posted in WREX that she and her family are all right. Her son is on vacation in London. Below is a map that shows the proximity of Nathanya to Haifa and Tel Aviv.

Here is a link to a map that shows Haifa where the Hezbollah rockets hit recntly in Israel. Just south of Haifa on the coast is Nathanya where BUBBLE lives. South of that is Tel Aviv.


July 16, 2006 - 01:11 pm
Tooki: Thanks for locating the stained glass windows. The image of the Tree of Jesse at Chartres has been truncated. In the image posted there are just two figures-Jesse and Christ. In th actual glass image there are five figures between Jesse and Christ.

I hope you are able to find some of the other works I mentioned. They are all magnificent.

During the wars, WWl and ll glass was very vulnerable to shelling and many beautiful windows were damaged and some were so badly damaged it was not possible to recover them. The work at Coventry is an example of that.

July 16, 2006 - 01:52 pm


CHARTRES. more stained glass


July 16, 2006 - 04:47 pm
Durant notes that after the religious needs ("adornment of worship") were met, the sculptor "might carve the likeness of secular persons."

Here is one of my favorite 14th century secular persons:

Uta, wife of Ekkehard, Naumburg

She sits atop the church and is not readily seen from the ground. But, boy, is she ever there! This photo looks like it's hand painted, giving it an even more etheral look.

July 16, 2006 - 04:57 pm
Thank you, Mal. The glass work is beautiful. Is it not?

robert b. iadeluca
July 17, 2006 - 03:21 am
"Who designed the cathedrals?

"If architecture is the art of designing and beautifying a building and directing its construction, we must reject, for Gothic, the old view that the priests or monks were the architects. Their function was to formulate their needs, conceive a general plan, secure a location, and raise funds.

"Before 1050 it was usual for the clergy, especially the Cluniac monks, to design and superintend as well as to plan.

"But for the great cathedrals -- all after 1050 -- it was found necessary to engage professional architects who, with rare exceptions, were neither monks nor priests.

"The architect would not receive that title until 1563. His medieval name was 'master builder,' sometimes 'master mason.' These terms reveal his origin. He began as an artisan physically engaged in the work that he directed.

"In the thirteenth century, as wealth permited greater edifices and specialization, the master builder was one who -- no longer sharing in the physical work -- submitted designs and competitive estimates, accepted contracts, made ground plans and working drawings, procured materials, hired and paid artists and artisans, and supervised the construction from beginning to end.

"We know the names of many such architects after 1050 -- of 137 Gothic architects in medieval Spain alone. Some of them inscribed their names on their buildings and a few wrote books about their craft.

"Villard de Honnecourt left an album of architectural notes and sketches made on the travels that he undertook, in the practice of his profession, from Laon and Reims to Lausanne and Hungary."

Who builds the cathedrals and churches of today?


Fifi le Beau
July 17, 2006 - 02:04 pm
Living in a typical sized county in the south that was mostly rural for much of its existence, there are many small churches. They were built to accommodate those who lived on farms and since the population was sparse they had no use for large churches. They were built by the locals who used the masons, carpenters, etc. within the area. They were mostly built of wood and painted white, with bell tower and steeple.

Now, instead of building churches, they are selling them. A small wooden church on a hill between my mother's farm and her nearest neighbor recently was sold. The last of the three elderly ladies who kept it going died and the church ceased to be active. Since there was another Methodist church about three miles away with a larger congregation the diocese decided to sell it.

Our local paper ocassionally has ads with churches for sale. They are usually bought by builders who tear them down and use the land to build houses. One family bought a church and turned it into their home, bell tower, steeple and all.

At one time there was a small chapel on the farm where my mother lives. America is a young country and many people living in isolated areas built their own chapels for the family and workers living there. Ministers traveled on the circuit from far and wide visiting families and holding services for them in their chapel or church.

Of course this is long past, but there are few churches being built here today. Most of the larger churches were built before or soon afer the turn of the last century. Even with a booming population the small churches disappear and the large churches struggle to fill theirs.

This country is in a consolidation frenzy with everything from churches to schools to business. It's a mechanism for control of large populations by a smaller and smaller group of people.


July 17, 2006 - 03:10 pm
Beginning in about 1080 the Romanesque style gradually faded out and the Cluniac influence in design diminished. The Cluny influence in design was extended largely to abbeys rather than to cathedrals.Although, one cannot deny some transference of knowledge from one to the other. Some master masons who designed the cathedrals received early training in the Cluniac tradition.

Because the construction period of a cathedral extended over many generations of workers several master masons were required. Each master mason had his own ideas about design and as a result each cathedral is a composite of the design ideas of several. The amazing thing about the overall design is that the cathedrals have the appearance of a single complete whole. If one examines the buildings in a scholarly manner one can easily find the joinings where one master mason left off and another began. Today, an architect designs a complete building and issues a full set of plans before construction starts. That did not happen in 1100.

Clearing the land, marking the places to dig, determining how deep the excavation, and setting the first foundation stones, may be all that the first master mason was responsible for. There were no plans. The plans were in his head. His designs were spoken or expressed in a palimpsest. A palimpsest consisted of a sand floor on which a master mason could show his workers what he wanted them to do using a stick to draw. When the next design question arose the sand was raked and a new problem and solution was entered. They proceded this way until the cathedral was complete.

Fifi le Beau
July 17, 2006 - 03:56 pm
The mosques of Saudi Arabia, mainly at Mecca and Medina were rebuilt or greatly added to by the Bin Laden Group. They also have the contract for all work on the mosque in Jerusalem. In addition to mosques they also build palaces.

Muhammed Awad bin Laden began work as a porter on the docks in Jeddah. His work eventually got him contact with the Abdul Aziz bin Saud family who ruled Saudi Arabia and made him a very wealthy man.

So it's not necessarily what you know, but who you know. All the labor is brought in and done by craftsmen from other countries. So it would not be necessary to be a master mason, but it would be necessary to have the ear of the king.

Muhammed bin Laden


July 17, 2006 - 05:09 pm
Fires were common in Cathedrals. Roofs were leaded and the heat of a fire in the lower precincts very often melted the lead and thus extended the fire and caused great damage.

When in 1170 a fire in the choir at Canterbury caused a large part of the choir to be consumed. A question arose about how much of the old choir to save. The chapter was without a master mason to guide their recovery so they invited master masons from several parts of England to advise them as to the best way to proceed. The monks held a symposium of master masons and finally they sent to France for William the master mason of Sens. When he came, the monks dismissed all the others and hired William without knowing what he proposed. The building was largely, Romanesque, or Anglo-Norman in style but the monks were impressed with all they had heard about the new forms and William's credentials and manner convinced them. Today, the choir at Canterbury is the earliest example of the Gothic style in England.

July 17, 2006 - 05:38 pm

Choir Canterbury

Another view

July 17, 2006 - 09:59 pm
in Washinton D.C. which took about a century to complete......jean

pictures of the cathedral

robert b. iadeluca
July 18, 2006 - 06:14 am
Continental Romanesque

robert b. iadeluca
July 18, 2006 - 06:23 am
"We should misjudge the variety of Western architecture in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries if we allowed the foregoing sketch of cathedral structure to stand as valid for all Latin Christendom.

"In Venice the Byzantine influence continued.

"St. Mark's added ever new decorations, pinnacles, and spoils but always in the manner of Constantinople crossed with that of Baghdad.

"Probably through Venice, perhaps through Genoa or Marseille, the Byzantine style of domes placed with pendentives upon a Greco-cruciform base entered France and appeared in the churches of St. Etienne and St. Front at Perigueux and in the cathedrals of Cahors and Angouleme.

"In 1172 when Venice decided to restore and enlarge the Palace of the Doges, she took a medley of styles -- Roman, Lombard, Byzantine, Arabic -- and united them in a masterpiece that Villehardouin in 1202 thought moult riche et haiux and which still remains the chief glory of the Grand Canal.

No definition of an architectural style has ever escaped exceptions. The works of man, like those of nature, resent generalizations and flaunt their individuality in the face of every rule.

"Let us accept the round arch, thick walls and piers, narrow windows, attached buttresses or none, and predominantly horizontal lines, as characterizing Romanesque and let us keep an open mind for deviations."


robert b. iadeluca
July 18, 2006 - 01:28 pm
This is my last posting for approximately a week. Tomorrow I leave to attend Eloise's wonderful Bash in Montreal. I haven't had a vacation for a year and I am ready to have a real good time!! Be assured that I won't think of you folks for even a minute.

Mal has kindly offered to do what she has been doing for years (how many, Mal?) and that is be the facilitator while I am gone.

Thank you, Mal!!


July 18, 2006 - 01:55 pm
Welcome Mal, I am pleased that you feel up to the task.

July 18, 2006 - 04:47 pm
Almost a century after the foundation of its duomo, Pisa commissioned Diotisalvi to erect a baptistry across a square from the cathedral (1152). He adopted a circular plan, faced the structure with marble, disfigured it with a dome that might have been perfect except for its conical cupola.

Behind the cathedral Bonanno of Pisa and William of Innsbruck raised the Leaning Tower as a campanile. (1174). It repeated the style of the cathedral facade -- a series of superimposed Romanesque arcades, with the eighth story housing the bells.

The Tower sank on the south side after three stages had been built upon a foundation only ten feet deep. The architects tried to offset this by inclining the later stories toward the north. In a height of 179 feet this Tower now deviates 16 1/2 feet from the perpendicular -- an increase of one foot between 1828 and 1910.

July 18, 2006 - 04:49 pm

Article and pictures of every floor: Leaning Tower of Pisa

Map: Pisa

Photos of the Leaning Tower

July 18, 2006 - 09:16 pm
The National Cathedral: I have many memories of that as in the early 50s, I sometimes sang there with my church choir. We were very aware that it was still being built, because when it rained, the roof leaked like crazy. I remember trying to sing and dodge the cold water that was dripping down my neck (an appropriate reward for my singing, which was pretty bad!)

Fifi le Beau
July 18, 2006 - 09:35 pm
No wonder the tower of Pisa is leaning with a foundation of only ten feet.

When building the cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, the workers dug for two years and did not reach bedrock. A donation from JP Morgan of $500,000 allowed them to continue and they finally reached bedrock at 72 feet below the surface.

Some claim St. John is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, but when we were there last they stated it was the second largest. Since they are still working, it may well have become the largest by now.

The National cathedral and St. John the Divine were both efforts by the Episcopal church to bring Gothic architecture to America. I prefer St. Pauls chapel down near Battery Park where my grandfather (many times removed) is buried in the small cemetery.


July 18, 2006 - 11:15 pm
went back to the "Medieval New York" link, can't wait to get to read it all.......jean

July 19, 2006 - 02:15 am
Italian monks migrating into France, Germany and England brought Romanesque fashions in their train. Perhaps because of them most French monasteries were Romanesque, so that in France Romanesque has the second name of the monastic style.

The Benedictines of Cluny built a magnificent abbey there (1089-11131), with four side aisles, seven towers, and such an arrayof zoological sculpture as roused St. Bernard's ire.
In the cloisters, under the eyes of the monks who read, what do these ridiculous monsters seek to do" What do these unclean monkeys mean, these centaurs, tigers and lions . . . these soldiers fighting, these hunting scenes? . . . What business here have these creatures wo are half best and half man? . . . . We can see several bodies under one head, and seeral heads on one body. Here we observe a quadruped with the head of a serpent, there a fish with the head of a quadruped, here an animal is a horse in front and a goat behind.
The abbey at Cluny was destroyed in the Jacqueries of the Revolution, but its architectural influence spread to its 2000 affiliated monasteries. Southern France is still rich in Romanesque churches, the Roman tradition was strong there in art as in law, and long resisted the "barbaric" Greek that cam down from the North.

Marble was rare in France, and the cathedrals atoned for lack of external brilliance by a profusion of sculptures. Startling, in the churches of southern France, is the expressionism of the statuary --- the resolve to convey a feeling instead of copying a scene.

So the figure of St. Peter on a portal of the abbey of Moissac ( 1150 ), with its tortured face and arachnid legs, must have aimed not so much to accentuate structural lines as to impress and terrify the imagination.

That the sculptors deliberately distorted such figures appears from the minute realism of the foliage in the Moissac capitals. The best of these French Romanesque facades is the west portal of St. Trophime's at Arles (1152) crowded with animals and saints.

What do you think about this Romanesque influence? Is there a touch of pantheism here?

July 19, 2006 - 02:18 am

Capitals at the Clunic Abbey of St. Peter, Moissac

Abbey at Cluny

Abbaye de Cluny

July 19, 2006 - 02:24 am

Portal at St. Trophime at Arles

Statuary at St. Trophime

St. Trophime

St. Trophime: plans and drawings

July 19, 2006 - 03:13 pm

Spain raised a lordly Romanesque shrine int he church of Santiago de Compostela (1078-1211), whose Portico de la Gloria contains the finest Romanesque sculpture in Europe. Coimbra, son to be the university city ofPortugal, bilt a handsome Romanesque cathedral in the 12th century. But it was in its more northern migrations that Romanesque reached its apogee.

The Ile de France rejected it, but Normandy welcomed it; its rough power accorded well with a people recently Viking and sitll buccaneers.

As early as 1048 the Benedictine monks of Jmieges, near Rouen, built an abbey reputedtly larger than any edifice that had been raised in Western Europe after Constantine; the Middle Ages too were proud of size. It was half destroyed by the fanatics of the Revolution, but its surviving facade and towers preserve a bold and virile design.

There, indeed, was formed the Norman style of Romanesque, relying for its effect on mass and structural form rather than on ornament.

In 1066 William the Conqueror, to expiate the sin of marrying Matilda of Flanders, provided funds for a church of St, Etienne at Caen, known as the Abbaye aux Hommes, and Matilda, perhaps with like motives, finaced there the church of La Trinite, known as the Abbaye aux Dames.

About 1135 in a restoration of the Abbaye aux Hommes, each bay of the nave was divided with an extra column on each side, bound with a transverse arch. In this way, the usual "quadripartire" became a "separtire" vault, a form that proved popular throughout the 12th century.

July 19, 2006 - 03:15 pm

Abbey Church St. Etienne at Caen

Abbaye aux Dames

Abbaye aux Hommes

July 19, 2006 - 04:42 pm
The schematic of Moissac's cloister is the best I have ever seen. Monks walked in the cloister reading their breviary and contemplating the Christian tales as they appear on the capitals. Some of the capitals at Moissac are given to figures from fables and are as much fictional imagery as the christian tales. It was these strangely formed animals and human forms that St Bernard of Cluny objected to. Cloisters are peaceful places that encourage contemplation and the monks loved to contemplate.

July 20, 2006 - 06:00 am


Ths above should read "sexpartire" vault, not "separtire." Guess that was my New England Puritan background showing up!

From France the Romanesque style passed into Flanders, raisng a handsome cathedral in Tournai (1066), and from Flanders, France and Italy it entered Germany.

Mainz had begun its cathedral in 1300, sitll in the rounded style. Cologne built in this period the church of St. Maria im Kapitol, famous for its interior, and the church of St. Maria, famous for its towers. Both buildings were destroyed in the Second World War.

The cathedral of Worms, dedicated in 1271 and restored in the nineteenth century, is sitll a monument of Rhenish Romanesque.

These churches had an apse at each end, and cared little for sculptured facades. They adorned their exterior with colonnades, and buttressed the towers with slender turrets of pleasing form.

The non-German critic praises these Rhenish shrines with patriotic moderation, but they have a charming gemutlich beauty quite in harmony with the inviting loveliness of the Rhine.

Comments, anybody? Help me out here, please. Just because our leader is off Cavorting in Canada and doing the Cancan with his favorite mesdemoiselles, it doesn't mean that the rest of us are on an International Vacation, too!

July 20, 2006 - 06:17 am
Notre Dame Cathedral, Tournai

St. Maria im Kapitol

Worms Cathedral

Many cathedrals

July 20, 2006 - 08:39 am
I've found something interesting in this week's "Newsweek," and I'm transcribing it as quickly as I can. More later. Can I say that Durant loves architecture more than some of the rest of us. But, we're trying; really we are.

July 20, 2006 - 09:58 am
It was very interesting and talked about Dominick's influence in turning the monastery experience to one of studying and education....Loving all the links.......don't fret Mal, there's a lot to see, but not a lot to comment about in this section.......don't we all need a cloister in which to contemplate???..........jean

July 20, 2006 - 01:12 pm
Sorry, Mal, the word is sexpartite. We humans, we do have difficulties, don't we? Also quadrapartite is appropriate.

July 20, 2006 - 01:22 pm
An article in the July 24 issue of Newsweek discusses new uses for churches in rural areas that are losing their customers. New England churches are quite Gothic looking with large stained glass windows above the entrance and tall steeples on the corners. Here are some excerpts from the article:

New England churches have found a solution to dwindling budgets: renting their picturesque steeples to wireless companies in need of cell sites. Zoning laws don’t allow cell towers in residential area (and residents don’t want ugly structures), so wireless companies have had trouble providing coverage to hilly nonurban area. But since many of New England’s historic churches have been grandfathered into local zoning laws, wireless companies can install externally invisible antennas inside steeples. It’s a way for churches to turn water into wine. Examples are given of churches getting 74,000 a year for spaces nobody is using anyway. This money pays for such things as the church’s renovation.

July 20, 2006 - 02:24 pm
The history of architecture is filled with interesting material. We started with Sumerian and Babylonian huts, moved to Persian Pergamon (now in the Berlin Museum), noted the shapes and forms of Egyptian tombs, advanced through Greek and Roman temple building and now we are observing the churches of the Romanesque, sometimes called Norman-Anglo.

Builders, since earliest times have relied upon compression (stone upon stone) to provide stability and have coped with thrust (outward pressure on the walls) to support roofing. Thrust has been relieved with wide walls and heavy buttressing. Openings in walls to accomodate portals, windows, and interior arcades have been supported by the rounded arch and the barrel vault- a Roman advance. We have reached the highest point of achievement in the use of these tools in the building of the Abbaye Les Hommes.

Change will now come rapidly and it will come from improvement in the builder's ability to cope with thrust. It is what we know as the Gothic style.

July 20, 2006 - 06:11 pm
The history of architecture is alive with interesting material. We started with simple structures from Sumerian life, moved to Persian Pergamon (which now can be seen in Berlin) and advanced through Greek and Roman creations to the period we are looking at now- the Romanesque, sometimes called Norman-Anglo.

July 21, 2006 - 05:04 am


July 21, 2006 - 05:12 am

When Edward the Conqueror came to the throne in 1042 he brought with him many friends and ideas from the Normandy in which he had spent his youth. Westminster Abbey began in his reign as a Norman church with round arches and heavy walls. That structure was buried under the Gothic abbey of 1245, but it inaugurated ana rchitec tural reovlution.

The rapid replacement of Saxon or Danish by Norman bishops ensured the triumph of the Norman style in England.

The Conqueror and his successors lavished upon the bishops much of the wealth confscated from Englishmen who had not appreciated conquest; the churches became insturments of mental pacification. Soon the Norman English bishops matched the Norman Engliah nobles in wealth, and cathedrals and castles multilied as allies in the conquered land.

"Nearly all tried to rival one another in sumptuous buildings in the Norman style," wrote William of Malmesbury; "for the nobles felt that day lost which they had not celebrated with some deed of magnificence."

Never had England seen such a frenzy of building.

Norman English architecture was a variation of the Romanesque theme. It followed French exemplars in supporting the roof by round arches on far piers, and by heavy walls --- though its ceilings were usually of wood. When the vault was of stone the walls were from eight to ten feet thick.

It was largely monastic and rose in out of the way places rather than in cities. It used very little statuary; fearing the effect of a damp climate, and even the capitals of the columns were simply or poorly carved. In sculpture England never caught up with the Continent. But not many towers could match the mighty structures that dominated the Norman castles, or guarded the facade -- or covered the transept crossing --- of the Norman church.

Hardly any ecclesiastical architecture in England is sitll purely Romanesque. Most cathedrals underwent a Gothic lifting of the arch and vault in the thirteenth century, and only the basic Norman form remains.

In 1067 fire destroyed the old cathedral of Canterbury. Lanfranc rebuilt it (1070-7). It was rebuilt along the lines of his former Abbaye aux Hommes at Caen. Nothing survives of Lanfranc's cathedral except a few patches of masonry where Becket fell.

In 1096-1110 the priors Ernulf and Conrad built a new choir and crypt. They kept the round arch, but channeled the strains to points supported by external buttresses. The transition to Gothic had begun.

July 21, 2006 - 05:15 am
Canterbury interior

Trinity Chapel: Canterbury Cathedral

A pilgrimage to Canterbury to the shrine of St. Thomas
Click Stops on the Tour on the left

July 21, 2006 - 07:20 am

York Minster, built in 1075 on a Norman plan, disappeared in 1291 under a Gothic edifice.

Lincoln Cathedral, originally Norman (1075), was rebuilt in Gothic after the earthquake of 1185, but the two great towers and sumptuously carved portals of the west facade survive from the Norman church, and reveal the skill and power of the older style.

At Winchester the transepts and crypt remain of the Normal cathdral of 1081-1103. Bishop Walkelin built it to receive the flow of pilgrims to the tomb of St. Swithin.

Wlkelin appealed to his cousin the Conqueror for timber to roof the enormous nave. William agreed to let h im take from Hempage Forest as much wood as he could cut in three days. Walkeliin's flock cut down and carried off the entire forest in seventy-two hours.

When the cathedral was finished nearly all the abbots and bishops of England attended its consecration. We may readily imagine the competitive stimulus aroused by such an enormous edifice.

July 21, 2006 - 07:23 am

York Minster

York Minster, another view

Lincoln Cathedral, photos and plans

Parson's World: Lincoln Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral

July 21, 2006 - 11:52 am
What is the relationship of Medieval Architecture to devotional architecture of today? For example, the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. is thought of as almost a sacred place, as are other memorials to those killed in wars, pogroms, and other unspeakable acts of brutality one group aims at another

The times in “The Gothic Flowering” discussed by Durant were fraught with warfare, killing for ruling position, and other assorted acts of mayhem. And still the devotional urge continued. The juxtaposition of these seemingly basic instincts (or values), warfare and devotion to a higher authority, don’t go together, to put it gently. They didn’t go together in the Middle Ages, and they don’t fit together now.

July 21, 2006 - 04:57 pm
War and devotion go hand in hand. The attacker prays that his arms will be successful and the victim prays that he will survive and that some external force will protect him. The two- war and devotion-are inextricably linked.

July 22, 2006 - 01:43 am

Some echo of Norman bulding comes down to u s when we note that St. Alban's Abbey was begun in 1075, Ely Cathedral in 1081, Rochester in 1083, Worcester in 1084, Old St. Paul's in 1087, Gloucester in 1089, Durham in 1093, Norwich in 1096, Chichester in 1100, Tewkesbury in 1103, Exeter in 1112, Peterborough in 1116, Romsey Abbey in 1120, Fountains Abbey in 1140, St. David's in Wales in 1176.

These are not names, they are masterpieces, shame bows us at leaving them after a few hours, or dismissing them in a line.

All but one were later rebuilt or reclothed in Gothic. Durham is still predominantly Norman, and remains the most impressive Romanesque structure in Europe.

July 22, 2006 - 01:45 am

St. Albans Abbey

Ely Cathedral

Father Time: Rochester Cathedral

Worcester Cathedral

July 22, 2006 - 01:48 am

Old St. Paul's Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral

Durham Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral

Chichester Cathedral

July 22, 2006 - 01:51 am




Fountains Abbey

St. Davids Wales

July 22, 2006 - 02:33 pm
Mal: Your views of England's great cathedrals are exquisite. The ribs of vaulting we spoke about earlier have advanced from the their quadripartite beginnings to complex fan ribs as may be seen in Henry Vll's chapel in Westminster Abbey. The webs which were so difficult to close over in quadripartite vaults of the mid to late 11th century are, as in Westminter, fully supported.

Stone tracery we saw earlier in the exterior rose windows of Chartres has in Ely been brought inside and used in very delicate forms to decorate arcade openings. The effect is quite lovely.

There is so much to see and to enjoy in the growth of architectural forms. If one begins with the Romanesque and an undertanding of it's limitations one can experience the changes that led to the beautiful excesses of the perpendicular Gothic and it's flamboyant tracery.

Buildings erected in the Romanesque style during the latter half of the eleventh Century were raised with ten foot wide walls, small, recessed,windows, roofs made from wood and overladen with lead. The name Romanesque came from the rounded arches that supported entrance portals and arcades which supported the vaulting. The interior of these churches is very dark. Light came from votary candles which were distributed about the church interior. Fire was common and it's damage was often greater because the lead in the roofs very often melted and spread the fire with it's hot droplets.

Flying buttresses were introduced to support the roof and to reduce the need for wide walls. The walls eventually disappeared almost entirely. They were replaced by stained glass which became a new art form in the twelth to fifteenth centuries. The pointed arch replaced the ovoid arch and changed the support systen for interior arcades as well as portals. Vaulting systems changed to stone and were supported by columns and ribs.

These changes provided space for decoration. Sculpture and stained glass quickly advanced to fill the empty spaces and the Church adopted the concept of narative design to tell the story of Christianity to peasants and nobles who were not literate.

July 23, 2006 - 08:03 am
Here are some comments from one of the apparently millions of peripatetic commentators on the net who delight in giving their views about things they frequently know nothing about!

Gothic Overview

July 23, 2006 - 12:12 pm

Durham is a little mining town of some 20,000 souls. At a turn of the river Wear a rocky promonotory rises. On that startegic elevation stands the gigantic mass of the cathedral, "half church of God, half castle against the Scots."

Monks from the island of Lindisfarne, fleeing form Danish raiders, built a stone church there in 993. IN 1093 its second Norman bishop, William of St. Carilef, demolished this building, and with incredible courage and mysterious wealth riased the present edifice.

The work continued till 1191, so that the cathedral represents the aspiration and labor of a hundred years.

The lofty nave is Norman, with a double arcade of rou nd arches resitn on uncarved capitals and some piers.

The vault of Durham introduced to England two vital innovatioins: the groins were ribbed, helping ro localize pressures, and the transverse arches were pointed, while the diagonals were round.

If the transverse arches had been round, their crowns would not have reached the same height as the diagonals, which are longer. And the apex of the vualt would have been a disturbingly uneven line. By lifting the crowns ot the transverse to a p9int, they could be made to reach the desired heights. This sturctural consideration and no esthetic aim, apparently fathered the most prominent feature of the Gothic style.

In 1175 Bishop Pudsey added at the west end of Durham Cathedral an attractive porch or narthex. This for some unknown reason received the name of galilee. Here -- where lies the tomb of the Venerable Bede -- the arches are round, but the slender columns approach the Gothic form.

Early in the thirteenth century the vault of the choir collapsed. In rebuilding it the architects supported the nave arcade with flying buttresses hidden in the triforium.

In 1240-70 a Chapel of the Nine Altars was added to hold the remains of St. Cuthbert. In that shrine the arches were pointed, and the transition to Gothic was complete.

July 23, 2006 - 12:17 pm


Scroll down for links to pictures of DURHAM CATHEDRAL


DURHAM CATHEDRAL: Chapel of the Nine Altars. Click picture for a larger view

July 23, 2006 - 01:14 pm

The Evolution of Gothic

July 23, 2006 - 01:18 pm

In short:
Durant states that Gothic architecture evolved through the solution of mechanical problems set by ecclesiastical needs and artistic aspirations. Vaults of stone or brick were used because of fear or fire. Thick walls were necessary to accommodate heavy ceilings. The ribbed vault lessened the ceiling weight. Support through buttresses allowed longer windows in thinner walls. Arches became pointed to allow arches of uneven length to reach their crowns at an even length.

Though Chartres is still without a crack, the choir of Beauvaus Cathedral crumbed 12 years after it was built. The essential feature of the Gothic style was the functional rib. Each bay of the nave became a structural unit, bearing the weight that thrusts brought down by the arches rising from its piers and supported by counter pressures from the corresponding bays of the aisles and by outer buttresses applied to the walls at the inward springing of each transverse arch.

July 23, 2006 - 02:11 pm

The buttress was an old device. Many pre-Gothic churches had pillars of masonry externally added at points of special strian A flying buttress carries a thrust or strain over open space to a base support and to the ground.

Some Norman cathedrals used half arches in the triforium to prop up the arches of the nave. Such internal buttresses reached the nave wall at too low a point and gave no strangth to the clerestory where the explosive pressure of the vault was most intense.

To apply support at this high point it wa necessary to take the buttress out of its hiding place, let it r ise from the solid gorund and throw it through open space over the aisles roof to directly sustain the clerestory wall.

The earliest known use of such an external flying buttress was in the cathedral of Noyon about 1150. By the end of that century it had become a favorite device.

It had serious faults. Sometimes it gave the impression of a structural skeleton, a scaffolding negligently unremoved, or the makehsift afterhought of a designer whose building sagged. "The cathedral has crutches," said MIcheler.

The Renaissance would reject the flying buttress as an unsightly obstruction, and would support by other means such burdens as St. Peter's dome.

The Gothic architect thought differently. He liked to expose the lines and mechanicanisms of his art. He developed a fondness for buttresses, and perhaps multiplied them beyond need. He compounded them so they would give support at two or more points, or to one another. He beautified their stabilizing piers with pinnacles, and sometimes, as at Reims, he proved that at least one angel could stand on the point of a pinnacle.

July 23, 2006 - 02:15 pm



NOYON CATHEDRAL. Click image to access a larger one


NOYON CATHEDRAL flying buttresses. Click Previous and Next to see more photographs

St. Peters Dome

July 23, 2006 - 03:36 pm
Great pun! I always thought the argument was how many angels could stand on the head of a pin. Usually it's trotted out to prove how stupid the Scholastic Philosophers were.

This is an important argument because it has to do with whether angels are corporate or not, an important theological point. If any angels at all could stand on the head of a pin they were corporate. If they weren't corporate they didn't go around trying to stand on the head of a pin, or pinnacle.

The argument is more sophisticated that what I've given, but you probably get the point. Ah, that clever Durant.

July 24, 2006 - 12:33 am
Some years ago I was preparing a paper connecting the work of William of Sens (the French architect) at Canterbury with some of his earlier work at Sens and Laon. One way to follow an architect from cathedral to cathedral is to follow his signature. Of course, the signature must be identified first. In the case of William I had fixed on his design of pier bases as a signature. I sketched those piers at Canterbury I was absolutely sure were Williams and then I headed to France to examine cathedrals I knew he had worked on in an earlier period.

While driving to Laon I went through Noyon and had lunch across from the Cathedral.There was a view of the south transept from the cafe. Noyon was dirty and neglected and it was rarely visited by scholars and much less by tourists. It was late October, I think, and I was chilled so I was preparing to go inside when I thought I observed an external passge at the clerestory level. I left my lunch and walked over to look more carefully. Sure enough there was an external passage.

If there were internal passages at the level of the triforium and at the level of the tribune, I would be looking at a double wall that had the thickness of the Romanesque in the foundation and the lightness of the Gothic in the upper stories. Not only would this Cathedral be transitional but it would reflect a double wall treatment at Canterbury in the ambulatory. Canterbury is a mixed style Cathedral. It is Romanesque and Gothic.

I thought I might be onto something that would connect Canterbury with Noyon and perhaps help me to link William to both places. As luck would have it, Noyon was closed and there was no one to let me inside. The cafe owner told me it was almost never open and he didn't know anything about passages. Well, I left not knowing the rest of the story.

I went to Laon and found confirmation of my pier signature and forgot about the double wall theory. Years later, when I saw pictures of the interior of Noyon, I saw passage ways at the triforium level and at the tribune the north transept confirming my guess of years earlier. But at that time I wasn't able to do anything about it. The moment had passed. Noyon and it's double wall transition to the Gothic is there for another scholar in another generation to discover and report upon.

July 24, 2006 - 12:35 am
But You had the satisfaction of knowing you had been on to something.

July 24, 2006 - 01:08 pm
Joan: Yes, just knowing is good for the ego.

July 24, 2006 - 05:12 pm

The balancing of strains was far more vital to Gothic than the ogive or pointed arch, but this became the outward and visible sign of an inward grace. The pointed arch was a very old form. At Diarbekr in Turkey it appears on a Roman colonnade of uncertain date. The earliest dated example is at Qasr-ibn-Watden in Syria in 561.It is found in the Dome on a Nilometer in Egypt in 861; in the Mosque of el-Aqsa at Jerusalem in the seventh century.

Durant goes on to list other examples of the ogive, and says:

It may have arisen spontaneously in the West to meet mechanical problems in architectural design. It should be noted that the problem of bringing arches of uneven length to an even crown could be solved without th ogive by "stilting" the wall. . . . . The ogive solved a further problem, since aisles were narrower than the nave, an aisle bay had more length than width, and the crowns of its transverse arches would fall far short of those of its diagonales, unless the transverse arches were pointed or stilted so high as to prevent their harmonious inward movement with the diagonals.

The ogive offered a similar solution for the difficult task of vaulting with arches of even crown the ambulatory of the apse, where the outer wall was longer than the inner, and each bay formed a trapezoid whose vault could not be chos grace appears from the large number of buildings in which it was used to meet these problems, while the round arch continued to be used in windows and portals. Gradually the vertical lift of the ogive gave the pointed arch the victory.

The space between each point of support and the next bore relatively little pressure; the wall there could be thinned or even removed. So large an opening could not be safely fitted with a single pane of glass. The space was divided into two or more pointed windows (lancers) surmounted by an arch of stone, in effect a series of arches, an arcade.

About 1170 the architects of France pierced the four-pointed shield above with plate tracery. In the 13th century the sculptors cut away more and more of the stone and inserted into the opening little bars of stone carved into cusps or other forms.

Similar processes applied to wall surfaces over the portals produced the great "rose windows". The radiating tracery generated the term rayonnaise for the style that began at Notre Dame in 1230 and reached perfection in Reims and Sainte Chapelle.

Some tracery passed from the walls to other parts of the Gothic cathedral -- the buttress pinnacles, the gables above the portals, the soffits and spandrels of arches , the triforium arcade, the sanctuary screen, the pulpit and reredos.

The Gothic sculptor crowded facades and cornices and towers with statuary of the saved and the damned. He cut his fancy into capitals, corbels, moldings, lintels, frets and jambs, inventing gargoyles (little throats).

Never elsewhere have wealth and skil, piety and lusty humor combined to provide such a feast of ornament as revels in the Gothic cathedral. It dawns on us that Gothic art, despite its heaven-pointing lines and spires, was an art that loved the earth. We perceive the unseeen but omnipresent medieval artisan, laughing at theology and philosophies, and drinking with relish and to the last drop, the bubbling, brimming, lethal cup of life.

Isn't that lovely?

July 24, 2006 - 05:23 pm




July 24, 2006 - 05:31 pm

Gargoyle, Chartres

Gargoyles, Notre Dame

Many gargoyles

Éloïse De Pelteau
July 24, 2006 - 05:44 pm
Mal the beauty of these great cathedrals gives me a thrill and I want to keep every one in a special place and look at them once in a while. I am quite sure Builders and Architects were devinely inspired to build something as beautiful and as lasting as those magnificent monuments which we can still enjoy today. Thank you my dear.

I had the priviledge of seeing several great cathedrals and there are not enough words to express the feeling they inspire when you see one up close, it made me want to die on the spot.

July 24, 2006 - 06:08 pm

I was lucky enough to see some of them, too, ELOISE, but not with the knowledge about architecture I've gained since then. Not that I know very much, but I certainly know more than I did thirty years ago.

JUSTIN, where does Brunelleschi's dome (the Duomo in Florence) fit in? I found it fascinating to read and do research about how he designed and built it.


July 24, 2006 - 06:39 pm
The stone tracery supporting the great rose windows also found a use in decoration of interior arcades. Ely contains some of this work. An exterior view of the south rose at Chartres shows a clear example of the use stone tracery in a rose. Similarly, an external view of the facade at Laon will show rose tracery. The facade of Exeter is a prime English example. If you show Exeter Mal, look also for a view of the vaulting of the nave. It will knock your socks off.

July 24, 2006 - 06:55 pm
Brunelleschi's dome at the Duomo in Florence is a Renaisance work rather than a Gothic work. It is from a later period. Emphasis in the Renaisance is on horizontality. Emphasis in the Gothic is on verticality. Everything in the Gothic forces the eye up ... to heaven. Italy did not adopt the Gothic style as did France and England. Its great building period came with the Renaisance in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries- called Quatrocento and Quincento.

July 24, 2006 - 07:27 pm

The church I grew up in in Massachusetts is of Gothic design. It has a very pretty rose window that I loved when I was a child.





July 24, 2006 - 09:23 pm
Here in Exeter Cathedral one can see what has become of the quadripartite rib and also very clearly the make-up of a web in vaulting. Stone work has been extended to ribs and tracery has ben extended to decorative roles in the interior of the Cathedral.

Jean Bony is a Medieval scholar of singular renown in the field of Gothic architecture. In the preface to his most recent work he says," The driving force of human inventiveness being a critical dissatisfaction with the immediate past, each generation of Gothic builders in turn had to reassess it's aims, each time redefining Gothic in it's own terms and often changing dramatically the direction of the movement." He goes on to say," there is an accidental quality in it's development." He means that each master mason found a solution to the problem facing him that was a unique solution within the Gothic framework. Each cathedral being the result of the efforts of many master masons, it reflected the development of the Gothic over time.

Let me try to say that a little better. We look at a single cathedral (any one of them) today as a finished work and see it as "of a piece," as a representative of the Gothic art. But it is actually a reflection of the history of Gothic art. That is because it took so long to build, and involved so many architects, that the changes that occurred in the style are incorporated in the finished product.

We began by looking at Canterbury and recognizing that it contained elements of both Romanesque and Gothic because a new Gothic choir replaced a burned out choir in a Romanesque Cathedral. In other Cathedrals this process of design change was extended over the entire period of construction. Why is this significant? It is so because today a design for a building has fixed elements. An architect is not likely to combine international elements with post modern elements in the construction of a building. Isn't it a wonder that cathedrals for all their design change appear to have singularity in the complete design. .

robert b. iadeluca
July 25, 2006 - 03:13 am
Hi, everyone! I came back late yesterday and have read all the wonderful posts and have gone into all the absolutely magnificent links that Mal gave us!!

Mal has completed Durant's comments about "The Evolution of Gothic" and I will be picking up at "French Gothic." However, I am suggesting a 24-hour break from Durant to give you folks an opportunity to share some more thoughts about the evolution of Gothic (you have so many interesting remarks) and to give me a period of time to get back into the swing of things. I will pick it up tomorrow morning.

This will also give Mal a well-earned rest. Thank you, Mal, for once again keeping the ball rolling while I was away and for those many many fantastic links!

I just want to add a memory of riding on the train in France and stopping for a few minutes at the Chartres station -- and there -- right there!! -- was the beautiful cathedral staring me in the face. Everyone else was reading newspapers, or whatever, and I was sitting there open-mouthed.


robert b. iadeluca
July 26, 2006 - 03:04 am
French Gothic

robert b. iadeluca
July 26, 2006 - 03:19 am
"Why did the Gothic revolution begin and culminate in France?

"The Gothic style was not a virgin birth. A hundred traditions joined in a fertilizing flow -- Roman basilicas, arches, vaults, and clerestories -- Byzantine themes of ornament -- Armenian, Syrian, Persian, Egyptian, Arabic ogives, groined vaults, and clustered piers -- Moorish motifs and arabesques -- Lombard ribbed vaults and facade towers -- the Germanic flair for the humorous and grotesque.

"But why did these streams of influence converge in France?

"Italy, as in wealth and heritage the favored country of Western Europe, might have led the Gothic flowering but she was the prisoner of her classic inheritance.

"Italy exepted, France was in the twelfth century the richest and most advanced nation of the West. She above all others had manned and financed the Crusades and profited from their cultural stimulus. She led Europe in education, literature, and philosophy and her craftsmen were conceded to be the best this side of Byzantium.

"By the time of Philip Augustus the royal power triumphed over feudal disunity and the affluence, power, and intellectual life of France were congregating in the king's own domain -- that Ile de France loosely definable in the region of the middle Seine. Along the Seine, Oise, Marne, and Aisne a fruitful commerce moved, leaving behind a welath that turned to stone in cathedrals at Paris, St. Denis, Senlis, Mantes, Noyon, Soisson, Laon, Amiens, and Reiims.

The manure of money had prepared the soil for the growth of art."

Does it always come down to money?


Éloïse De Pelteau
July 26, 2006 - 03:43 am
Yes, it is always about money, everything is about money but so what after all, money is a seed. I don't mean just hard currency, but the stuff what motivates people the most to do both good and evil things. At first I thought money was the source of all evil as my mother used to say, the old cliché, but with time I have come to accept that it is a necessary evil.

France then was what the US is today and she is struggling to keep her place at the top of the heap, but her time is up. France clings to her glorious past and tries to preserve her beautiful language from the invasion of anglicism, but she is losing the battle. At the cost of losing her pristine heritage, she abdicated and let Germany use her. Poor France, now she will have to bow down to the dictates of the US, like all the others, but at a tremendous cost.

robert b. iadeluca
July 26, 2006 - 03:53 am
"For the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

I Timothy 6:10

Please note -- it is the "love" of it, not the money itself which is evil.

July 26, 2006 - 07:06 am
Maybe Better On The Money Than In The Cathedrals

robert b. iadeluca
July 26, 2006 - 03:17 pm
Any comments about Durant's remarks in Post 213?


July 26, 2006 - 09:53 pm
The Gothic flowering in France +


Why did the Gothic flower in France and not in Italy? I think I can say with some confidence why it flowered in France though the answer is a complex one. I am less certain about the lack of interest in Italy. Scholars say, in an offhand way, that Italy was more closely tied to classical forms than France. On the face of it that's true but Sicily was Islamic and Byzantine in this period and certainly some elements of the Gothic came from that source. France acquired those elements from the Crusades. Mal asked me this question a few posts back and I glibly tossed off the same classical response. Italy had Roman ruins to look at. France did not.

The question of why the Gothic came to France is a little easier to answer. I think we must first identify the construction elements that led to the development of the Gothic. Ribbing the vault allowed thin aslar stone to be used thus reducing the thrust on the walls. Clustered piers took some of the thrust from the vault thus reducing the need for thick walls. A pointed shape was given to all windows, arches, arcades, and vaults. The French insisted on height and openness.

Each of these elements was available in the Romanesque before 1100 but not all together in one building. Ribs were used at Durham in 1095 but no advantage was taken to lighten the vault and thus thin the walls. Who knew that thrust was less with rib vaulting,clustered piers,and pointed arches?

The French had incentive to try. They were searching for openness, for interior lighting. They knew that buttressing carried thrust to the ground. But they did not know that a skeletinized butress would perform the same way. Someone had to try these risky ideas even though such a test could involve many years of work that might be lost.

The French were motivated the Italians were not.It was tried on the Ile de France in a limited way and was successful.From that moment on French builders were willing to take the risks necessary to advance the Gothic. It was tried in England at Canterbury by a French architect, William of Sens.

robert b. iadeluca
July 27, 2006 - 03:49 am
Very helpful, Justin. Thank you.

"In later ages men would look back to that thirteenth century and wonder what fountain of wealth and faith had poured out such glory upon the earth.

"For no man can know what France accomplished in that century -- besides her universities, her poets, her philosophers, and her Crusades -- unless he stands in person before one after another of the Gothic audacities that can here be only names -- Notre Dame and Chartres and Reims and Amiens and Beauvais -- Bourges with its vast nave and four aisles and famed glass and lovely sculptured Angel with the Scales -- Mont St. Michel with its marvel of a monastery set in a fortress towering on an island rock off the coast of Normandy -- Coutances with its noble spires -- Rouen with its ornate Portail des libraires -- and Sainte Chapell in Paris -- a 'jewel box' of Gothic glass built by Pierre de Montereau as a chapel adjunct to the palace of St. Louis to house the relics that the King had purchased from the East.

"It is good to remember in ages of destruction, that men, when they will, can build as once they built in France."

I feel so fortunate that I saw on numerous occasions the outside and interior of Notre Dame in Paris and twice I climbed up into Mont St. Michel. As Durant says, you have to be there and see them to experience their "audacity."


July 27, 2006 - 04:05 am
I remember Bourges, Reims, Chartres too. Marvels that one does not get tired of visiting.

robert b. iadeluca
July 27, 2006 - 04:21 am
Your posts are always interesting, Bubble, but it is also wonderful just to hear from you considering the current situation in Israel.


Éloïse De Pelteau
July 27, 2006 - 04:41 am
Bonjour Bubble, I think about you every time I watch the news lately and wonder if you are safe.

Justin, great post, thank you.

Notre Dame de Paris, what a masterpiece not to hurry through with hundreds of tourists on a tour but to appreciate slowly and often. I even took a short nap sitting in front the last time I went to Paris. Unfortunately the Sainte Chapelle was in renovation that time and it was not as grand as I had previously seen it 20 years past.

July 27, 2006 - 05:05 am
Thank you all. I try to keep afloat.

Eloise you are right, ND de Paris is a jewel. Those windows...

July 27, 2006 - 06:04 am
So far there has been only praise for these famous European cathedrals. Do any of you who heap compliments on them find that your religious feelings intrude on your appreciation? .

Are the religious feelings of those who see these works increased? Or does a lack of religious feeling mean that one appreciates then less?

We are so seperated from the cathedrals by time, technology, and societial changes that I am curious whether they have any religious significance left. Have they become just architectural curiousitites?

July 27, 2006 - 06:23 am
I can't say I appreciate them from a religious point of view since they are built for a catholic public and I am not. On the other hand, I appreciate them not only from the artistic or architectural point of view.

I think they all have a certain aura, an atmosphere that induces meditation and introspection. One is filled with awe when one thinks of the hours spent by artisans to produce such sublime grandeur. They did not just do it for earning a salary, they put their skills and their souls into those scuptures, columns, decorations and windows.

Éloïse De Pelteau
July 27, 2006 - 06:48 am
As usual, Bubble you are absolutely right.

July 27, 2006 - 01:30 pm
The French cathedrals today are monuments of state. Some may yet be used for religious purposes but I doubt it. They are just too big to be maintained by a local parish. The state maintains a museum in Paris to exhibit residual particles and molds of tympanums, capitals,pier bases and stray bits of masonry that have come loose. Schematics of portals and sculptural arrangments are also available.

The English cathedrals, on the other hand, are maintained locally with added support from the crown's treasure chest. Monks and canons continue in residence and operate the facility as a religious precinct. Schools are maintained and the buildings serve as the place of a bishop's cathedra.

July 27, 2006 - 01:40 pm
Cathedral interiors are generally cold and damp, even on warm days,making it uncomfortable to spend much time inside. They are dusty and musty and must be a bear to keep clean and almost impossible to heat. Places like Canterbury and Chartres seem to manage alright but others are just cold and damp.

robert b. iadeluca
July 28, 2006 - 04:07 am
English Gothic

robert b. iadeluca
July 28, 2006 - 04:21 am
"From Chartres and the Ile de France the Gothic style swept into the French provinces and crossed frontiers into England, Sweden, Germany, Spain, at last into Italy.

"French architects and craftsmen accepted foreign commissions and everywhere the new art was called opus Francigenum - work born in France.

"England welcomed it because she was in the twelfth century half French. The Channel was but a river between two sides of a British realm that included half of France. Of that realm Rouen was the cultural capital.

"English Gothic derived from Normandy rather than from the Ile de France and kept in a Gothic frame the Norman massiveness. The transition from Romanesque to Gothic was almost simultaneous in England and France. About the same time that the pointed arch was being used at St. Denis it was appearing in Durham and Gloucester cathedrals at Fountains, Abbey and Maimesbury.

Henry III admired everything French, envied the architectural glory of St. Louis' reign, and taxed his people into poverty to rebuild Westminster Abbey, and to pay the school of artists -- builders, sculptors, painters, illuminators, goldsmiths -- whom he gathered near his court to execute his plans."

I think of Dickens' "Tale of Two Cities" which took place centuries later during the French revolution but nevertheless illustrated the constant commerce between Paris and London with the English Channel being only a "river."

Is it ethical to "tax people into poverty" for the "greater good" of creating magnificent art?


Éloïse De Pelteau
July 28, 2006 - 04:51 am
I don't know if Montreal was "taxed to poverty" to build Expo 67, the Metro system and the Olympic Stadium afterwards, but people are still complaining of our high municipal taxes. Olympic Stadium, though it has structural faults, is admired worldwide.

Too bad we didn't have time to go and see it during the Bash, as my grand children would say, it is awesome. They renamed the island where Expo 67 took place Parc Jean Drapeau, the mayor of Montreal who saw further than the tip of his nose and I am glad he did it. "Taxing people to poverty" are Durantesque words, he colored the language for better effect. Everybody was poor in the 12th century except the aristocracy.

July 28, 2006 - 07:42 am
because of a hospital stay, but you weren't out of my about 3:00 a.m. on Thurs morning when i was in excruciating pain, a male nurse and i had about an hour long discussion about the Middle Ages!!! One of the other nurses mentioned he was a history buff and he contintued that he especially liked medieval history, just for fun, and that he could name all the English monarchs and that Eliz I was his favorite historical character. So, of course, i told him about Seniornet and STory of Civ - even tho he's not quite a "senior" yet and we just talked on from there - distracted me perfectly and by the time we were done the morphine had kicked in and went to sleep. .......The benefits of SN just never quit!!!! I love you all and especially anyone who was responsible for getting SN started and keeps it going, you have given me hours and hours of pleasure......jean

July 28, 2006 - 01:47 pm
Some of you may not be familiar with the various “Art in Public Places” laws which are in force in America today. (There may be similar laws in other countries, but I have no knowledge of them.) These state laws require that a certain percentage of the budget for a state building be set aside to purchase art for the building or its site. The percentage legislated isn’t large, but when the total budget is huge, it amounts to a goodly sum. The law was controversial, contentious, and difficult to keep free of the ol’ buddy system (wherein the folks on the choosing committee picked artists who would then be on the next choosing committee, and so on).

I was the Chair person of such a choosing committee for a new Veterinary School at Washington State University, in Pullman, Washington during the 1970s. Poor silly, innocent me; I thought we were doing as objective a job as you can do with art. We decided we wanted a piece of sculpture in the huge front court, and we mounted an open competition wherein the specifications were given: location, size, etc. We hoped for realistic entries because WSU is not known for its sophistication.

Boy, was it ever a hornet’s nest. The few realistic entries were no good so the Committee’s selection was a large, welded, abstract piece. The Veterinary School organized marches, protests, and threatened to burn us in effigy! (There were representatives of the School on the Committee and they were for the choice.)

In the end, our choice was upheld because we were anointed by the Administration. But a few years later the alumni got together and found the money for another piece to better demonstrate the skill, compassion and wisdom of the Veterinarian.

It was an over life size bronze of a strong, noble veterinarian holding an intravenous device of some sort connected to a lamb who was being cuddled by a small winsome boy.

So, is it ethical to use tax money for the "greater good" of creating art? My experience says it doesn't work any more.

July 28, 2006 - 03:20 pm
I have never seen public art installed without controversey both before and after installation. The Roosevelt memorial is a good example. No one was completely happy with the result. Even the Statue of Liberty was not without complaint. One half the body laid about in lower Manhattan for twenty years before school children's pennies helped make Bedloe's Island available. We received the statue for zip cost but had to find a place to erect it. Some people wanted to melt it down to build RR rails.

July 28, 2006 - 05:53 pm
Oh my! Mal, those pictures are wonderful, even tho' i've seen many of them before, it was great to have them all together to look at. Justin, your cathedral of knowledge (yeah, i couldn't resist) and commentary is so informative, thank you.

Is the word "quire" related to "choir?" I couldn't find a definition that related to cathedrals, but it seemed to be in the place where a "choir" would be placed.

Did most of these cathedrals survive in tact thru WWII or have they been renovated? Did the Germans have the decency not to bomb many of them? They seem like such a good target - physical and psychological ....jean

July 28, 2006 - 05:59 pm
It is just great to drive around the city and see the various kinds of art provided. And of course, Phila has a fabulous "murals" program on sides of houses or buildings, anyplace there is a huge blank wall in neighborhoods all over the city. I think I heard recently that there are over 1000 murals completed and more than 1200 requests for specific others. It is a fascinating city to drive around in because the variety of public art, your eyes are given a banquet to feast upon........jean

Éloïse De Pelteau
July 28, 2006 - 06:11 pm
I was inside this one in England 20 years ago, I felt sad at the destruction of war. Coventry Cathedral

July 28, 2006 - 10:19 pm
Yes, Coventry, of course, is rebuilt in modern forms. It is no longer a useful example of Medieval design. Monte Casino in Italy has been completely rebuilt. Some of it has been restored.

Many more French cathedrals were damaged during WWl than WW2. I think in large measure that was caused by the nature of the fighting. In WWl the Germans invaded FRance and lines were drawn at the Marne,the Somne and the Argonne. Cathedrals at Ypres and Arras were completely wiped out. They no longer exist.

In WWll once the Germans pulled out of Paris the Allies were on the move. There was a delay at Bastogne for the Bulge but that was a ground battle and major cathedrals were not in the line of fire. In both wars Cathedrals at Amiens, Laon, Reims, Noyon, and Beauvais were damaged. The latter were restored.

Some cathedrals had the foresight to remove the glass from the windows. Canterbury removed the roses and restored them when the war ended.

The damage was caused not only by German bombardment but also by American bombardment. We were responsible for the Monte Cassino destruction but the cause was just. The destruction of Dresden was another matter. The City was a jewel. War is damaging for art as well as for people and institutions. It is an evil we can do without. What it has done to the Crescent is a case in point. The treasures of Sumeria,Ahkadia, Babylonia etc have been cast to the winds by looters and archeology has ceased.

If one wanders through France looking for what was one will find it all about.

At Soissons where Beckett spent ten years away from the wrath of Hnry ll we find only a facade and cloister. The rest is gone.

Cambrai is gone.

Amiens suffered during March and April 1918 when 6000 shells and six hundred bombs fell on the city leaving 1000 out of 90,000 people alive.

Arras is a desert. Clara Laughlin, writing about Arras in 1919 said" The bricks and stone and mortar, and tiles and glass that once were Arras have become under the senseless pounding of German guns, a desert. This was a city of 25,000. There are now 1200 alive.

Noyons- that " Mother of French Cathdrals was rent in twain" says, Clara Laughlin.


St Quentin








All martyred in the cause of victory.

July 28, 2006 - 11:14 pm

robert b. iadeluca
July 29, 2006 - 03:47 am
That's horrifying, Justin.


July 29, 2006 - 08:30 am
Just an historical footnote, here. Justin, your comment on Montecassino, "The damage was caused not only by German bombardment but also by American bombardment. We were responsible for the Monte Cassino destruction but the cause was just."...illustrates one of the great blunders of WWII.

There were just a relatively few German defenders in the Abbey on the top of Montecassino when the Allies arrived. They (the defenders) had orders to fire a few delaying shots, then retreat. The allies decided to take the hill by destroying the abbey by air and artillery barrage. The ensuing barrage reduced the abbey to random piles of large stone blocks. The Germans found this rubble much more defensible, and what should have been a short exchange of small arms gunfire turned out to be one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the Italian campaign.


robert b. iadeluca
July 29, 2006 - 08:37 am
Justin:-What is a "just" war?


robert b. iadeluca
July 29, 2006 - 10:03 am
"The culminating achievement of Early English Gothic was Westminster Abbey.

"Henry III, who had made Edward the Confessor his patron saint, felt that the Norman church built by Edward was unworthy to house Edward's bones.

"He ordered his artists to replace it with a Gothic edifice in the French style. For this purpose he raised by taxation what we may diffidently equate at $90,000,000 today. The work began in 1245 and continued until Henry's death in 1272.

"The design followed Reims and Amiens, even to admitting the Continental polygonal apse. The sculptures of the north porch, portraying the Last Judgment, were influenced by those of Amiens' west front.

"In the spandrels of the transept triforium are remarkable reliefs of angels. One angel in the south transept offers to the centuries a tender, gracious face rivaling the cherubim of Reims. Over the doorway of the chapter house are two figures representing the Annunciation, and showing the Virgin in a chrming gesture of modest deprecation.

"Even finer are the early royal tombs in the Abbey and, best of all, that of Henry III himself -- an ideally handsome and well-proportioned improvement upon the stout and stunted King.

"The crimes of a score of rulers are in those splended tombs forgotten and half redeemed by the English genius tht lies buried under the stones of this sovereign sepulcher."


July 29, 2006 - 12:52 pm
Good Grief, Robby, did I say "just"?

robert b. iadeluca
July 29, 2006 - 02:47 pm
Justin, you said:-"We were responsible for the Monte Cassino destruction but the cause was just."

Should I have narrowed my question down to a "just" battle?


July 29, 2006 - 10:23 pm
Don't be too harsh, Robby, or Justin will need a consultation with you soon. lol

July 29, 2006 - 10:41 pm
Ok. I'll face the issue. What is "Just"? It is the quality of fairness, integrity. An action is justified if it is taken in fairness. Is a blow struck in defense a "just" action? I think so. Hitler declared war on us and he attacked France,England,Belgium and the Netherlands as well as Poland, Norway, etc. without provocation.

July 29, 2006 - 10:46 pm
Bubble: It is so good to have you in here commenting while the rockets must be getting closer. Be careful. Those guys are mean.Your boys are making a "just" response.

July 30, 2006 - 01:33 am
WW2 is usually called a 'just war' whereas WW1 is not. Does the term apply only to the rationale for starting the war, or initially defending the country ? Or does it also apply to the way the war is subsequently done? E.g. Hizbullah began to attack the sovereign country of Israel, and Israel has a right to defend itself. But Israel's response is said to be disproportionately destructive.

Perhaps more importantly, is the heuristic 'just war' any use any more?

My belief is that transcendent quality of justice does not exist, justice is always in a balance held in human hands. In that case the best scales of justice to apply to wars is International Law.

July 30, 2006 - 06:26 am
About 70% of the population from the North of Israel have moved temporarily to the South. Many municipalities have arranged for them to be "adopted" by local families for the duration. Those who could not move have sent their children to special vacation camps organized in safe locations. This means that we are lucky to have a minimum of victims althought the damage to buildings and possessions is unbelievable. This morning only 120 missiles and rockets fell on those towns. Can International Law stop them firing them?

In Lebanon, even though fliers were dropped advising the populations that there would be bombing in that region, Hizbollah hides among the civils and doesn't let them vacate the villages. The refugees going towards Syria are mainly from the big towns. So there are many more casualties in Lebanon because Hisbollah uses children and women as shields. Nonetheless, innocents should not suffer; they are the dear price paid in war.

robert b. iadeluca
July 30, 2006 - 06:40 am
Thank you so much for bringing us up to date, Bubble. As you say, we are all concerned about civilians on both sides, especially children, but we are particularly worred here about you and your family. Please don't let too long a period go without posting.


robert b. iadeluca
July 30, 2006 - 08:50 am
German Gothic

robert b. iadeluca
July 30, 2006 - 08:57 am
"Flanders imported Gothic from France at an early date.

"St. Gudule's, proud on its hill in Brussels, was begun in 1220. Its chief glory is its stained glass.

"St. Bavon's, at Ghent, built a Gothic choir in 1274.

"St. Rembaut's, at Mechlin, surveyed the countryside from huge towers never finished but still too ornate.

"Flanders was more interested in textiles than in theology. Its charcteristic architecture was civic. Its earliest Gothic triumphs were the cloth halls at Ypres, Bruges, and Ghent. That of Ypres was the most majestic:-a 450-feet-long facade of three-storied arcades, with columnaded corner pinnacles and stately central tower. It was reduced to ruins in the First World War.

"The cloth Hall of Bruges still dominates its square with a superb and world-famous belfry.

"These fine buildings, and those of Ghent, suggest the prosperity and just pride of the Flemish guilds and constitute some part of the charm of these now quiet and pleasant towns."

July 30, 2006 - 09:25 am
About St Gudule

July 30, 2006 - 09:57 am
Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek, but that means that the other person must also believe in this philosophy. Therefore if he does not and strikes us first are we not "justified" in defending ourselves?

July 30, 2006 - 01:54 pm
Scrawler, that is very interesting as we had a discussion about that very text in church. I said what you have written, and how I was puzzled. Then one woman said was if you are knocked down, pick yourself up and get on with life. It's about forgiving and forgetting, I dont think it applies to revenge or self defence.

I remmebr that Jesus was angry with the money changers in the temple. Also he said he'd come to bring a sword. He was not a peace at any price preacher. I think that Jesus did nothing to defend himself, he was only interested in defending others.

It's rather like the Sikh religion, where the religious warriors use their fighting strength to defend the weak

July 30, 2006 - 06:37 pm
The Ghent altar piece is well worth the time to bring it up. The piece is sometimes called the Lamb of God Altarpiece. If someone can find it I will talk about it when it appears.

Éloïse De Pelteau
July 30, 2006 - 07:18 pm

robert b. iadeluca
July 31, 2006 - 03:32 am
"As Gothic spread eastward into Holland and Germany it encountered increasing resistance.

"In general the grace of the Gothic style did not accord with the sturdy force of the Teutonic frame and mind. Romanesque was more congenial and Germany clung to it until the thirteenth century.

"The great cathedral of Bamberg is transitional. The windows are small and round arched, and there are no flying buttresses. But the vault is in ribbed and pointed form.

"Here at the outset of German Gothic we find a remarkable development of sculpture--at first imitating the French, but soon advancing to a style of splended naturalism and power.

"Indeed, the figure of the Synagogue on the Bamberg church is more satisfying than the similar figure at Reims. The Elizabeth and Mary in the choir are far from replicas of like subjects in France. Elizabeth has the face and form of a togaed Roman senator and Mary is a woman of physical substance and vigor, such as Germany has always loved."

robert b. iadeluca
July 31, 2006 - 03:47 am
Mal, where are you?!!

July 31, 2006 - 05:50 am

Did somebody call me?



July 31, 2006 - 06:04 am

Ypres Cathedral

Ypres Cathedral in ruins

Belfry and Cloth Hall at Bruges

July 31, 2006 - 06:27 am



July 31, 2006 - 06:45 am





July 31, 2006 - 11:55 am
Justin, that was interesting about what you said about Jesus not defending himself, but defending others.

If we believe that we are made in the image of God, when we are defending ourselves aren't we defending God as well?

July 31, 2006 - 04:16 pm
Thank you Eloise and Mal. The Ghent Altarpiece is a polyptych and major work of Art. It is in a side altar at Saint Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent. It was completed about 1425 by the Van Eyck brothers, Hubert and Jan. They were miniaturists in Flanders who worked in egg tempera but later, and for this altarpiece, worked in oil. The detail in this altarpiece is incredible. There are 65 identifiable, different, examples of vegetation from the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain.

The central theme of the work is concerned with man's sinfulness, symbolized by Adam and Eve and his ultimate salvation, because God in his infinite love, will sacrifice his own son for this purpose. It is works of this kind that formed the mind set of the Catholic devotee-that God is Good. The work is a blend of natural forms and religious symbolism. It ranges over the complete spectrum of the Christian message.

You will get most enjoyment from this discussion of the painting if you are able to bounce back and forth between the painting and my comments. The work is a complex one and at times I may lose you so ask questions as we go along. I will start with the organization of the work in the next post. I hope you enjoy it.

robert b. iadeluca
July 31, 2006 - 04:31 pm
Mal:-I hope you didn't wear yourself out from those 12 links so we don't hear from you for awhile!!


robert b. iadeluca
July 31, 2006 - 04:52 pm
Italian Gothic

July 31, 2006 - 04:57 pm
Couldn't resist it.


robert b. iadeluca
July 31, 2006 - 05:03 pm
"Medieval Italians called Gothic lo stile Tedesco.

"Renaissance Italians, equally mistken about its origin, invented the name Gothic for it, on the ground that only the transalpine bararians could have developed so extravagant an art.

"The decorative exuberance and exalted audacity of the style offended the classic and long-chastened tastes of the Italian soul. If Italy at last adopted Gothic, it was with a reluctance verging on contempt.

"Only after she had transformed it to her own needs and mood could she produce not only the exotic brilliance of Milan Cathedral, but the strange Byzantine-Romanesque Gothic of Orvieto and Siena, Assisi and Florence.

"Her soil and her ruins alike abounded in marble with which she could face her shrines in slabs of many tints. But how could she carve a marble facade into the complex portals of the freestone North? She did not need the enormous windows by which the chill and cloudy North invited light and warmth. She preferred the small windows that made her cathedrals cool sanctuaries against the sun. She thought thick walls, even iron braces, no uglier than stilted buttresses.

"Not needing pinnacles or pointed arches as devices of support, she used them as ornaments and never quite appropriated the constructive logic of the Gothic style."


July 31, 2006 - 05:56 pm
There are 26 panels in this altarpiece and they are all inteconnected symbolically and each panel comprises a symbolic narrative in itself. There are 14 open panels and twelve when the side panels are closed over. Post 263 "another view" provides a complete view of the front panels. Post 264, third selection shows a complete view of the closed polyptych. A praedella or bottom panel,depicting hell, may have been completed but has disappeared.

Enough preliminary.

In the center panel of the upper register, God appears wearing the triple crown of the Papacy which he passed on through his Son to Peter. There is a worldly crown at his feet signifying his power over worldly kings. It may be difficult for you to see but thre are pelicans embroidered in the tapestry that falls ovr the back of the throne. Pelicans symbolize self- sacrificing love. The inscription in the arch above says," This is God, all powerful in his divine majesty, by the gentleness of his goodness, the most libral giver, because of his infinite generosity. etc." The language here is very different from the language of the early medieval stern judge of mankind. God's hand is raised with the palm outward showing three fingers symbolizing the trinity.

The panel of God is flanked by the Virgin, Queen of Heaven, wearing a crown with twelve stars from the apocalyptic vision in Revelations. On the opposite side is John The Baptist, pointing with one finger, as we so often see him, at the form of God in the next panel. He bears a book, open to references to the "Lamb of God" passages.

John and the Virgin are flanked by St. Cecilia and her organ and a choir.The choir panel may be seen in detail in post #258.

These pieces are in turn flanked by Adam on the left and Eve on the right. Eve bears a pomegranite (Apple) and is clearly pregnant. She and adam are both hiding their genitals as a symbol of their sin. Above them are two small rounded panels depicting Cain and Able at play and in the murder scene. The sin scene is above Eve. (Does anyone wonder why this occurs?)

robert b. iadeluca
August 1, 2006 - 03:10 am
Spanish Gothic

robert b. iadeluca
August 1, 2006 - 03:18 am
"As the monks of France had brought Romanesque architecture to Spain in the eleventh century, so in the twelfth they carried Gothic over the Pyrenees.

"In the picturesque little town of Avila the cathedral of San Salvador inaugurated the transition with round arches, a Gothic portal and in the apse, elegant columns rising to pointed ribs in the vault.

"At Salamanca piety preserved the old transitional cathedral of the twelfth century beside the new one of the sixteenth . The two together form one of the most imposing architectural ensembles in Spain.

"At Tarragona difficulties of finance prolonged the building of the seo or episcopal see from 1089 to 1375. The simple solidity of the older elements forms a fit background for the Gothic and Morish decoration.

"The cloisters -- Romansque colonnades under a Gothic vault -- are among the most beautiful productions of medieval art."


August 1, 2006 - 03:33 am


August 1, 2006 - 03:47 am


August 1, 2006 - 02:23 pm
The panels of the lower register in the Ghent Altarpiece extend the symbolism of the upper panels. All the lower panels represent an Adoration of the Lamb. It is an apocalyptic theme from Revelations but may have been inspired by the liturgical office for the feast of all saints.

In the center foreground is the Fountain of Life and on the left we see the patriarchs and prophets including Vergil. On the right side we see the apostles (seven are kneeling) and Sts Paul and Barnabus with the martyrs led by Stephen.

In the middle ground are the bishops on the lft and the virgin martyrs on the right. They are led by Agnes, Barbara, Catherine etc.They carry palm fronds, a symbol of the their martyrdom. The scene is one in paradise and all those in attendance adore the apocalytic Lamb standing on the altar bleeding into a chalice.Angels surround the altar holding the instruments of the passion. There is a dove high in the landscape symbolizing the third person in the Trinity.

On the inner right side panel are the holy hermits led by Sts. Paul and Anthony. Mary Magdelene and Mary of Egypt joins them in the background. The outer right hand panel shows the holy Pilgrims led by Christopher and James who wears the cockleshell on his hat.

The two panels on the left show the Knights of Christ headed by Sts. George, Martin and Sebastian. In the outer panel are the just judges. These fellows are the judges of Ghent who made a donation to the Van Eyck studio wishing to clean up their reputation as unjust judges by inclusion in the altarpiece.

August 1, 2006 - 02:39 pm
When the polyptych is closed, ie: when the outer panels are closed over the center panel one sees more panels. The upper panels depict the Annunciation, and above that are some prophets.

The lower panels depict the donors praying to Sts. John the Baptist and John the evanglist. The saints are painted in grisaille to resemble marble statues.

When the painting is open it is 15 feet wide and eleven feet high. If you are ever in Ghent, go to Saint Bavo's to see this wonderful work of art.

Éloïse De Pelteau
August 1, 2006 - 03:14 pm
Thank you Justin for this remarkable account of the Ghent alterpiece.

robert b. iadeluca
August 1, 2006 - 04:59 pm
"Not the least notable achievements of medieval architecture were the castles and fortresses of the countryside and the walls and gates of the towns.

"The walls of Avila still stand to prove the medieval sense of form and such gates as the Puerto del Sol in Toledo typically married beauty to use.

"From memories of the Roman castelium and perhaps from observation of Moslem forts, the Crusaders built in the Near East mighty fortresses like that of Kerak, superior in both mass and form to anything of their kind in that warlike age.

"Hungary, the bastion of Europe against the Mongols, raised magnificent castle-fortresses in the thirteenth century.

"The art flowed west and left in Italy such masterpieces of military art as the fortress-tower of Volterra and in France the thirteenth-century castles of Coucy and Pierrefonds and the famous Chateau Gaillad that Richard Coeur de Lion constructed on returning from Palestine.

"Castles in Spain were no figments of fancy but powerful masses of masonry that kept back the Moors and gave a name to Castile."


August 1, 2006 - 06:55 pm
The castle of Coucy in Picardy had multiple towers and a central Donjon which was the largest in Europe. It housed a thousand men in a seige and blocked the northern route to Paris. The donjon still stands. Laon, Reims, Amiens, and Beauvais were all under construction at the same time Coucy was built. I don't clearly remember the Coucy motto but it goes somthing like this'" Neither King nor Duke, nor count, nor Prince am I. I am the lord of Coucy".

August 1, 2006 - 08:25 pm
Take a walk round and see it all.


August 1, 2006 - 10:44 pm
By Golly, Brian, You found the motto too. Nice to see that though I am almost as old as Robby, I am not forgetting things. The walk round was a pleasure. The Cathedral at Laon is also on the site you gave us and worth a walking tour.

robert b. iadeluca
August 2, 2006 - 03:30 am
Speaking of Picardy, my father and I used to sing this song:--

"Roses are shining in Picardy,
In the hush of the silver dew,
Roses are flow'ring in Picardy,
But there's never a rose like you!
And the roses will die with the summertime,
And our roads may be far apart,
But there's one rose that dies not in Picardy,
'Tis the rose that I keep in my heart

robert b. iadeluca
August 2, 2006 - 04:07 am
"Medieval man thought that truth had been revealed to him so that he was spared from its wild pursuit.

"The reckless energy that we give to seeking it was turned in thse days to the creation of beauty. Amid poverty, epidemics, famines, and wars men found time and spirit to make beautiful a thousand varieties of objects, from initials to cathedrals.

"Breathless before some medieval manuscript, humble before Notre Dame, feeling the far vision of Winchester's nave, we forget the superstitition and squalor, the petty wars and monstrous crimes, of the Age of Faith.

"We marvel again at the patience, taste, and devotion of our medieval ancestors and we thank a million forgotten men for redeeming the blood of history with the sacrament of art."

Any comments before we move on to Music?


Éloïse De Pelteau
August 2, 2006 - 04:48 am
"we thank a million forgotten men for redeeming the blood of history with the sacrament of art"

Only Durant can write history like that.

A beautiful cathedral is music for the eyes.

August 2, 2006 - 07:07 am
is still a topic of interest to contemporary historians such as Norman F. Cantor, author of “In the Wake of the Plague,” and “The Last Knight,” the story of John of Gaunt.

The reasons given by Durant for the exhaustion of Gothic architecture seem to me to be equally applicable to the coming end of the Gothic era and the beginning of the Renaissance.

Among these reasons are the collapse of the Crusades, the decline of religious belief because of the rise of reason, the upcoming importance of money over Mary, the increasing power of the State to govern and to tax (resulting in fewer funds for the Church). Let’s not forget the Black Death that swept Europe. And the Hundred Years War and the Wars of the Roses pretty much decimated England and France. Let’s see; that covers much of the turf. All of these intertwined events conspired to take the wind out of the billowing Gothic sails.

It’s no wonder that folks turned with relief to what they choose to call the Renaissance, preferring sculptures of Satyrs leaping with gay abandon on whatever was handy to be leapt upon.


robert b. iadeluca
August 2, 2006 - 02:05 pm
Medieval Music

robert b. iadeluca
August 2, 2006 - 02:14 pm
"We have done the cathedral injustice.

"It was not the cold and empty tomb that the visitor enters today. It functioned. Its worshipers found in it not only a work of art but the consoling, strengthening presence of Mary and her Son.

"It received the monks or canons who many times each day stood in the choir stalls and sang the canonical Hours.

"It heard the importunate litanies of congregations seeking divine mercy and aid.

"Its nave and aisles guided the processions that carried before the people the image of the Virgin or the body and blood of their God.

"Its great spaces echoed solemnly with the music of the Mass. And the music was as vital as the church edifice itself, more deeply stirring than all the glory of glass or stone.

"Many a stoic soul, doubtful of the creed, was melted by the music, and fell on his knees before the mystery that no words could speak.

" The evolution of medieval music concurred remarkably with the development of architectural styles.

"As the early churches passed in the seventh century from the ancient domed or basilican forms to a simply masculine Romanesque and in the thirteenth dentury to Gothic complexity, elevation, and ornament, so Christian music kept until Gregory I the ancient monodic airs of Greece and the Near East, passed in the seventh century to Gregorian or plain chant, and flowered in the thirteenth century into polyphonic audacities rivaling the balanced strains of a Gothic cathedral."

Your comments, please?


August 2, 2006 - 06:55 pm
Art is a living expression of man's imagination and man's imagination is boundless. It builds piece on piece until a new expression is found. The development of art style is a process of seeding, flowering, excess, and succession through reaction.Sometimes new forms,styles, and schools grow out of the excesses of the old but more often the excess is simply the result of creative bankrupcy.

We have talked about the seeding of the Gothic in the Romanesque; it's transitional flowering in Canterbury, Sens, and Noyon; it's full expression at Amiens and Laon, and it's excesses at Westminster. One might well ask," what is meant by excesses in the Gothic." What distinquishes full bloom from decay.

The Gothic came about as a reaction to the limitations of the Romanesque. There were small windows in thick walls giving little interior light. Vaulting and Roofing were excessively heavy and tended to extend danger during fires. These limitations were overcome by functional change. The walls were thinned by flying buttresses and vaulting was supported by ribs which lightened the weight. Great windows were created from stone tracery. In the development of these elements we have the functional heart of the Gothic and it's full flowering. The final phase of the Gothic is a decorative one.

Masons could push the design no higher than Beauvais where the narthex and nave collapsed at 157 feet to the vault. Light penetrated Ste Chapelle as colored daylight. The functional form of the Gothic was complete. The artisans were left with nothing more to accomplish except decoration and we find that in extentions of the vaulting ribs and window tracery. In France the excess is called the Flamboyant style and in England it is called the Perpendicular style. Stone tracery bends back upon it self and is applied to choir screens,arcades, and vaults.Ribs are increased in number springing from clustered piers and forming decorative but useless shapes on vaulting. Yes, the Church ran out of money, so new construction ended but decoration continued. The process continued in France and England until the early seventeenth century.

August 2, 2006 - 08:13 pm
Robby - You frequently ask for "Comments".

I do have a comment to make, but not about the the last words from Durant. My comment is a word of thanks to the people that post here and share what they know about places they have been, and knowledge of the subject under discussion.

I have visited many of the cathedrals mentioned here, both in Germany and England. I stood in awe in the presence of such beauty from the past, collected pamphlets, books, and photographs to remind me of the experience.

Here, in the SofC, I have learned more about where I visited, and what I saw than from any other source I have ever researched.

When Robby presents Durant's words it is the core of the entire topic. When those of you that share your experiences in far places, and your knowledge of those places about the Architecture and History of our past, is all fleshed out and becomes complete.

Thanks to all of you. To Mal for the links she provides, and to Justin that leaves me speechless (almost) with the knowledge he shares with us. This is HIS subject. I could name everyone, but I shouldn't...just thanks to all that participate in this Discussion, starting and ending with Robby.


August 3, 2006 - 12:55 am
Gregorian chant and music is for sure more powerful than any words from prayers or sermons. It seems to touch and thrills the very fibers of the soul, it causes an emotional response by its majesty and euphonia. It would appeal probably even more to those not totally litterate, since it does not require any special knowledge to appreciate it.

Thanks Justin for the comments on cathedrals, architecture and art. It was most interesting and easy to follow. You should be a wonderful teacher. Bubble

robert b. iadeluca
August 3, 2006 - 02:53 am
Thank you, Sun, for that sincere note of gratitude. In my case, I can say that the five years spent so far in this discussion have changed my life -- most certainly my perspective. As I listen to the daily news, as I listen to people talk about their mundane activities, I find myself reacting to them in terms of centuries -- nay, thousands of years. I find myself saying:-"Well, it's happening again."

And then I find myself wondering if we humans have learned anything. As the question in the Heading asks:-"Where are we headed?


robert b. iadeluca
August 3, 2006 - 03:17 am
"Before the eleventh century the only musical notation used by the Gregorian chant consisted of small signs derived from the Greek accent marks, and placed over the words to be sung.

"These 'neumes' (airs, breaths)indicated a rise or fall of tone but not the degree of rise or fall, nor the duration of the note. Such matters had to be learned by oral transmission and the memorizing of an enormous body of liturgical song.

"No instrumental accompaniment was allowed.

"Despite these limitations -- perhaps because of them -- Gregorian chant became the most impressive feature of the Christian ritual. The modern ear, accustomed to complex harmony, finds these old chants monotonous and thin. They carry on a Greek, Syrian, Hebrew, Arab tradition of monody which only the Oriental ear can appreciate today.

"Even so, the chants sung in a Roman Catholic cathedral during Holy Week reach to the heart with a directness and weird power withheld from music whose complications divert the ear instead of moving the soul."

Am I understanding Durant to say that music (along with many other facets of life) became more complicated as the centuries moved along? Where does symphony music come into this? How about "heavy metal?"


August 3, 2006 - 10:04 am
I have, many times in my life, found music to be a psychological life-saver, literally. What is it about music that soothes, calms, feeds our psyche? Gregorian chants w/ no "understandable" words, can be all of those things to me.

Last week when i was in great pain from my heart angioplasty, humming - you may laugh, but what i was humming was the "A, B, C" song melody, i couldn't get to the point of saying the words, just the resonance in my chest of the humming - was soothing to me. I have used singing, pulling up the lyrics as a distractor, when i am anxious. Obviously, we use music in every human event - lullabies, dirges, work songs, celebrations.

Robbie, does it take us back to the "music" we hear in the womb of heartbeats and other bodily noises and therefore comforting to us?

Being in a beautiful cathedral w/ harmonies resonating around the building must have been like heaven to people who had very little other beautiful things in their lives. I wish we could run a music history course on SN........jean

August 3, 2006 - 01:29 pm
by Steven Mithen, is a fascinating, new (2006) book about the origins of music, according to a recent review in "Scientific American."

Although making music, including Mabel’s humming, is a universal human behavior, research in its beginnings and evolution is neglected in favor of research on language. Darwin touched on the subject of the importance of music. He posited that. unable to woo with words, our ancestors “endeavored to charm each other with musical notes and rhythm.”

It’s clear that in Mithen’s view, music was first! Then came language. He makes a strong argument that music’s evolution holds the key to language.

Even though language eventually supplanted music as humans’ main conveyor of ideas, information and emotional expression, music still stirs our most basic emotions.

August 3, 2006 - 01:31 pm
While sitting, one late afternoon in Paris, on the second deck of La Chapelle, my examination of the stained glass was interrupted by the sound of white clad Augustinians singing a gregorian chant. They came in single file on both side aisles and the sound of the chant filled the entire upper deck of the reliquary. The afternoon sun came through the windows spilling color everywhere and the sounds were glorious. It was a wonderful afternoon and it stands out in my mind as though it were yesterday.

Éloïse De Pelteau
August 3, 2006 - 02:05 pm
Mabel when I was carrying my babies I played classical recordings almost every day because I thought that my baby heard it and would develop a taste for the music I loved but only one plays an instrument regularly. As you say a mother's heartbeat is the strongest sound a featus hears for nine months and perhaps that is why teenagers love drums so much.

I heard Gregorian chant all during my childhood but somehow I never developed a taste for it.

August 3, 2006 - 03:31 pm

I can't say that Gregorian chant really has inspired me. It's difficult music to listen to for anyone trained in the contemporary (last 300-400 years) Western canon of music The chant are sung with open tone and usually no vibrato. The modes with no or few semi-tones are not easy, either, in my musically-educated opinion. I am attaching a link to various Medieval modes in this post. A mode is a scale, by the way.

Perhaps if I'd heard Gregorian chant as Justin did, in a grand cathedral with the echoes, the dynamics, and the acoustics afforded by the hall in which they were performed, I'd feel differently about this music.

Modes in Medieval Music

robert b. iadeluca
August 4, 2006 - 04:17 am
The Music of the People

robert b. iadeluca
August 4, 2006 - 04:27 am
"The impulse to rhythm expressed itself in a hundred forms of secular music and dance.

"The Church had her reasons for fering this instinct uncontrolled. It allied itself naturally with love, the great rival of religion as a source of song.

"The hearty earthiness of the medieval mind, when the priest was out of sight, inclined it to a freedom, sometimes an obscenity, of text that shocked the clergy and provoked councils to vain decrees.

"The goliards, or wandering scholars, found or composed music for their paeans to woman and wine and their scandalous parodies of sacred ritual. Manuscripts circulated containing solemn music for the hilarious wors of the Missa de potatoribus -- the Mass of the Topers -- and the Officium ribaldorum -- a Prayer Book for Boisterers.

"Love songs were as popular as today. Some were as tender as a nymph's orisons, some were seduction dialogues with delicate accompaniments. And of course there were war songs, calculated to forge unity through vocal unison or to anesthetize the persuit of glory with hypnotic rhythm.

"Some music was folk song, composed by anonymous genius and appropriated -- perhaps transformed -- by the people. Other popular music was the product of professional skill using all the arts of polyphony learned in the litergy of the Church.

"In England a favorite and complex form was the roundel, in which one voice began a melody, a second began the same or a harmonizing melody when the first had reach an agreed point, a third chimed in after the second was on its way, and so on, until as many as six voices might be running the rounds in a lively contrapuntal fugue."


Éloïse De Pelteau
August 4, 2006 - 05:28 am


"Allons enfants de la Patrie,

Le jour de gloire est arrivé !

Contre nous de la tyrannie,

L'étendard sanglant est levé !

L'étendard sanglant est levé !

Entendez-vous dans les campagnes

Mugir ces féroces soldats ?

Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras

Egorger nos fils et nos compagnes !


Aux armes, citoyens !

Formez vos bataillons !

Marchons ! marchons !

Qu'un sang impur

Abreuve nos sillons !

August 4, 2006 - 06:21 am

ELOISE, when my sister, Natalie, visited me in the Town of Tonawanda, New York, just north of Buffalo, from her home at the time, which was Potsdam,NY, we used to stand in the kitchen and belt out La Marseillaise. That bloody flag image got us every time! Nat and I decided the French national anthem is much better music and more fun to sing than "Oh, say can you see," but the American music can bring tears to my eyes, and the French one doesn't.


August 4, 2006 - 06:36 pm





robert b. iadeluca
August 5, 2006 - 10:52 am
The Transmission of Knowledge

robert b. iadeluca
August 5, 2006 - 11:01 am
The Rise of the Vernaculars

robert b. iadeluca
August 5, 2006 - 11:17 am
The change in the GREEN quotes in the Heading show where we are now and the direction in which we are going.

"As the church had preserved in some measure that political unity of western Europe that the Roman Empire had achieved, so her ritual, her sermons, and her schools maintained a Roman heritage now lost -- an international language, intelligible to all the literate population of Italy, Spain, France, England, Scandinavia, the Lowlands, Germany, Poland, Hungary, and the western Balkans.

"Educated men in these countries used Latin for correspondence, business records, diplomacy, law, government, science, philosopny, and nearly all literature before the thirteenth century. They spoke Latin as a living language, which almost daily developed a new word or phrase to denote the new or changing realities or ideas of their lives. They wrote their love letters in Latin, from the simplest billets-doux to the classic epistles of Heloise and Abelard.

"A book was written not for a nation but for the continent. It needed no translation and passed from country to country with a speed and freedom unknown today. Students went from one university to another with no thought of linguistic embarrasments, scholars could lecture in the same language at Bologna, Salamanca, Paris, Oxford, Uppsala, and Cologne.

"They did not hesitate to import new words into Latin, sometimes to the horror of the Petrarcan-Ciceronian ear.

"So Magna Carta ruled that no freeman should be dissaisiatus or imprisonatus.

"Such words make us wince but they kept Latin alive.

"Many modern English terms -- for instance instance, substantive, essence, entity -- descended from medieval additions to th Latin tongue."

Any comments about the unifying power of language? Comments about the disunification of Europe? How about the power of Latin in keeping the Church unified? Or the changeover in the Church from Latin to the local language?


Éloïse De Pelteau
August 5, 2006 - 12:29 pm
In this link "the Arab world I learned that the combined economies of the Arab world surpass by l.6 trillion dollars that of the United States. It is no wonder that they feel powerful.

If Latin unified Europe in Medieval times, later it became divided again when countries developed their own language. Now it looks like the English language is becoming today's Latin in the Western world.

August 5, 2006 - 02:12 pm
The Middle Ages met the Internet this past Friday when "The Domesday Book" went online. For those who have Durant, it's discussed on page 667.

William the Conquer, a French Norman, ordered the census shortly after capturing England in the Battle of Hastings. He needed the survey in order to divided up his new holdings among his warrior nobles. The introduction of the French into England caused many changes in their language, I would imagine.

The Domesday Book

robert b. iadeluca
August 5, 2006 - 02:15 pm
Thank you for that great link, Tooki.


August 5, 2006 - 03:45 pm

Thanks, TOOKI. I found the paternal side of my family (Stubbs in Yorkshire) back in 1086 in a Domesday Book search. Imagine that!


robert b. iadeluca
August 6, 2006 - 04:38 am
"The disruption of international intercourse by the collapse of Rome, the introverting poverty of the Dark Ages, the decay of roads and the decline of commerce, developed in speech those variations which segregation soon expands.

"Even in its heyday Latin had suffered national modifications from diversities of climate and oral physiology. In its very homeland the old language had been changed.

"The abdication of literature had left the field to the vocabulary and sentence structure of the common man which had always been different from those of the poets and orators. The influx of Germans, Gauls, Greeks, and Asiatics into Italy brought a multiformity of pronunciation and the natural laziness of tongue and mind sloughed off the precise inflections and terminations of careful speech.

"H became silent in late Latin.

"V, classically pronounced like the English W, acquired the sound of the English V.

"N before S dropped away -- mensa (table) was pronounced mesa.

"The diphthongs AE and OE , classically pronounced like the English I and OI, were now like long English A or French E.

"As final consonants wee slurred and forgotten (portus, porto, porte; rex, re, roi; coelum, cielo, ciel), case endings had to be replaced by prepositions, conjugational endings by auxiliary verbs.

"The old demonstrative pronouns ille and illa became definite articles -- il, el, lo, le, la and the Latin unus (one) was shortened to form the indefinite article un.

"As declensions disappeared, it sometimes became difficult to tell whether a noun was the subject before, or the object after, the predicate.

"Viewing this continuous process of change over twenty centuries, we may think of Latin as the still living and literary language of Italy, France, and Spain, no more transformed from the speech of Cicero than his from that of Romulus, or ours from Chaucer's.

OK, you language and grammatical hounds, chew into this one. All you folks who despair at hearing the pronunciation and slurring of our youth as they speak -- are they perhaps speaking the language of the future? What is good speech and what is bad speech?


robert b. iadeluca
August 6, 2006 - 08:39 am
All you ever wanted to know about the causes of LANGUAGE DEATH AND ATTRITION.


robert b. iadeluca
August 6, 2006 - 08:46 am

robert b. iadeluca
August 6, 2006 - 08:50 am
Is the English language CHANGING?


August 6, 2006 - 09:00 am
The English Language is always changing. Note the new words like "ipod" and "cell phone," plus new meanings to earlier common words like "surf."

The French have an organization, The Academie Francais, that is chartered to maintain the French language against change, especially anglicized words. The forty members of the academie are colorfully known as "The Immortals." It is my understanding that with exponentially growing global communications, their job has become like stopping the tide with a teaspoon.


robert b. iadeluca
August 6, 2006 - 09:00 am
Here is an absolutely intriguing ARTICLE about some differences between American English and British English. Talk to us about this, you British Senior Netters.


August 6, 2006 - 09:09 am
I've always found it funny that if a play is a "bomb" on Broadway, it is a colossal failure. A play that is characterized as "bomb" in London is a smashing success.


August 6, 2006 - 04:13 pm
To me, more intriguing than comparing American English to English, is the pronunciations that we share -
to perplex the rest of the world.

Take the different sounds of the four letters OUGH.

bough - b 'aow'

cough - k 'off ' - - hiccough hicc ‘up’

dough - d 'oh' - - though - th 'oh'

lough - l 'ochkh'

through - thr 'ew' - - slough - sl 'ew'

thought - th 'or' t - - fought - f 'or' t

tough - t 'uff ' - - rough - r 'uff ' - - enough - en 'uff ' - - slough - sl 'uff '

Puts me in mind of the Frenchman visiting London, who packed up and went home to Paris
when he saw a sign on the side of a bus which read : "BOVRIL PRONOUNCED EXCELLENT"


August 6, 2006 - 08:00 pm
That's a dreadful question to ask someone that grew up in East Texas. Some of us traveled far from our "beginnings"....too far.

I also found the paternal side of my family (Lawrence of Ashton Hall, Lancaster) in a Domesday Book search.


robert b. iadeluca
August 7, 2006 - 03:49 am
"While Latin was dividing reproductively into the Romance languages, Old German was splitting into Middle German, Frisian, Dutch, Flemish, English, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Icelandic.

"Old German is merely a convenient phrase to cover the many dialects that exercised their tribal or provincial sovereignty in Germany before 1050 -- Flemish, Dutch, Westphalian, Eastphalian, Alemannic, Bavarian, Franconian, Thuringian, Saxon, Silesian. . .

"Old German passed into Middle German partly through the influx of new words with the coming of Christianity. Monks from Ireland, England, France, and Italy labored to invent terms to translate Latin.

"Sometimes they appropriated Latin words bodily into German -- Kaiser, Prinz, Legende. This was legitimate thievery. Tragic, however, was the influence of Latin sentence structure -- keeping the verb to the end -- in changing the once simple syntax of the German people into the stiff, inverted, and breath-taking periods of the later German style. Pehaps the finest German was the Middle High German written by the great poets of the thirteenth century -- Walter von der Vogelweide, Hartmann von Aue, Gottfried of Strasbourg, Wolfram von Eschenbach.

"Never again, except in Heine and the young Goethe, was German so simple, flexible, direct, clear."


August 7, 2006 - 06:22 am
Robby , all of your links are excellent . I read and enjoyed them all. Thanks

August 7, 2006 - 01:41 pm
It seems to me that along with the development of vernacular English, there is the development of – for lack of a better word – could be called “the other vernacular.”

Members of this discussion group use the other vernacular when they quote their Grandchildren using words like “awesome.” This other vernacular uses words that have a legitimate dictionary meaning and gives them a different meaning.

Use of these words indicates that the speaker sets him/her self off as different, a member of a special group. When too many folks outside the special group start using the word it is discarded and reverts back to its original meaning. “Square,” is a good example.

Some others:

Hip, Hep. These mean the same thing, but only squares use hep.
Booty. A recent new one. One shakes it, if one has one.
Ho. Does not mean hello.
Man. Explanation, emphasis. Similar to Dude.
F***. Started out as good ol’ Anglo Saxon vernacular and has now become a ubiquitous word fulfilling the functions of noun, verb, adjective, expletive, etc. Proper use of this word takes years of practice.

Over the years my use of these sorts of words has waxed and waned. Some I used because such words horrified folks when they came out of a young women’s mouth. After I found easier and better ways to attract attention, I stopped using such words.

robert b. iadeluca
August 8, 2006 - 03:52 am
The World of Books

robert b. iadeluca
August 8, 2006 - 04:04 am
"How were these diverse languages written?

"After the fall of Rome in 476 the conquering barbarians adopted the Latin alphabet and wrote it with a 'cursive' or running hand that bound the letters rogether and gave most of them a curved form instead of the straight lines that had been found convenient in writing upon hard surfaces like stone or wood.

"The Church preferred in those centuries a 'majuscule' or large-letter writing to facilitate the reading of missals and books of hours. When the copyists of Charlemagne's time preserved Latin literatue by making many copies of the classics, they saved costly parchment by adopting a 'miniscule' or small letter writing. They agreed on set forms for thetters and created the 'set miniscule' lettering that became for four centuries the usual medium of medieval books.

"In the twelfth century, as if in accord with the exuberant decoration then developing in Gothic architecture, the letters acquired flourishes, hairlines, and hooks, and became the 'Gothic' lettering that prevailed in Europe until the Renaissance and in Germany until our time.

"Very few medieval manuscripts were punctuated. This breath-guiding device, known to the Hellenistic Greeks, had been lost in the barbarian upheaval. It reappeared in the thirteenth century but was not generally adopted until printing established it in the fifteenth century. Printing was in somc measure prepared as early as 1147 by the use of woodcuts, in Rhenish monasteries, for printing initial letters or patterns upon textiles.

"Divers forms of shorthand were practiced, much inferior to the 'Tironian notes' developed by Cicero's slave."

Any comments about lettering?


August 8, 2006 - 04:47 am


August 8, 2006 - 06:51 am
This site is a bit long, but the information is clear, concise, and the scripts are handsome. Calligraphy writers will enjoy it; there are some great fonts here.

The Evolution of Writing From Greece to the 21st Century

August 8, 2006 - 08:06 am
Thanks Tooki, a wonderful site!

Pontifical looks so funny. We had to learn Fraktur for calligraphy lessons at school. I can still draw those curves and highly polished letters. It was a good sckill for writting diplomas, but not anymore with the modern computer who does it so easily.

August 8, 2006 - 10:28 am

August 8, 2006 - 02:54 pm
I remember in grade school learning calligraphy and my writing was full of flourishes, but now a days with computers and such, I can't even read my own writing.

robert b. iadeluca
August 8, 2006 - 03:21 pm
Tooki:-I followed that link all the way to the end. Intriguing!


robert b. iadeluca
August 9, 2006 - 03:07 am
"There were, here and there, private libraries.

"Even in the darkness of the tenth century we find Gerbert collecting books with true bibliophile passion. Some other churchmen, like John of Salisbury, had their own collections and a few nobles had small libraries in their chateaux.

"Frederick Barbarosa and Frederick II had considerable collections. Henry of Aragon, lord of Villeria in Spain, gathered a great library which was publicly burned on the charge that he had intercourse with the Devil.

"About 1200 Daniel of Morley brought to England from Spain 'a precious multitude of books.'

"In the twelfth century Europe discovered the wealth of Spain in books. Scholars descended upon Toledo, Cordova, and Seville and a flood of new learning poured up over the Pyrenees to revolutionize the intellectual life of the adolescent North."


robert b. iadeluca
August 9, 2006 - 02:57 pm
The Translators

robert b. iadeluca
August 9, 2006 - 03:21 pm
"Medieval Europe, partly united by a common language, was still divided into Latin and Greek halves, mutually hostile and ignorant.

"The Latin heritage, except of law, was forgotten in the Greek East.

"The Greek heritage, except in the Sicilies, was forgotten in the West.

"Part of the Greek heritage was hidden beyond the walls of Christendom -- in Moslem Jerusalem, Alexandria, Cairo, Tunis, Sicily, and Spain.

As for the vast and distant world of India, China, and Japan, long rich in literature, philosophy, and art, Christians, before the thirteenth century knew almost nothing.

"Some of the work of linking the diverse cultures was performed by the Jews who moved among them, like fertilizing subterranean streams.

"As more and more Jews migrated from Moslem realms into Christendom, and lost knowledge of Arabic, their scholars found it desirable to translate Arabic works (many written by Jews) into the only language geneally understood by the savants of the scattered race -- Hebrew.

"So Jospeh Kimchi at Narbonne translated the Jewish philosopher Bahya's Guide to the Duties of the Heart. Joseph was the father of brilliant sons but even more important, as translators, were the progeny of Judah ben Saul ibn Tibbon.

"He too, like Kimchi, had moved from Moslem Spain to southern France. And though he was one of the most successful physicians of his time, he found energy to translate into Hebrew the Judeo-Arabic works of Saadia, Gaon, Ibn Gabitol, and Jehuda Halevi.

My eyes are beginning to open more and more in regard to the richness of the East. I realize now why Durant's first volume was "Our Oriental Heritage." And I have to keep reminding myself that although the Jews I know are American and part of the Western culture, that their heritage is Eastern.

And Durant is helping me to see the diaspora in an entirely different way. It is not just a "scattering" in the sense of something being lost but instead, to use his terms, were (and are?) "subterranean streams" bringing richness of all sorts to the lands they touched. I think of the Jewish peddlers who traveled with the American West as it opened up bringing information and knowledge with them.

What are your thoughts, folks? Bubble, do you have any comments here to help us?


August 9, 2006 - 07:28 pm
I agree with you, Robby. Here are some more interesting comments from a blog I found.

The word "diaspora" has been used to describe the transnational community of the Jews for some time. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language goes into some detail on the word's etymology:

1. The dispersion of Jews outside of Israel from the sixth century b.c., when they were exiled to Babylonia, until the present time. 2. often diaspora The body of Jews or Jewish communities outside Palestine or modern Israel. 3. diaspora a. A dispersion of a people from their original homeland. b. The community formed by such a people. 4.diaspora A dispersion of an originally homogeneous entity, such as a language or culture: “the diaspora of English into several mutually incomprehensible languages” (Randolph Quirk).

The word "diaspora," however, has begun to be applied to other transnational communities. The Jewish diaspora remains the prototypical diaspora, established in the middle of the first millennium BCE with the Babylonian exile, growing immensely with migration and deportations dispersing Jews throughout the sphere of Roman civilization in the Mediterranean and Europe, and in the second millennium expanding first into Germanic and Slavic central and eastern Europe, then to Europe's overseas countries of settlement. Since Israel's foundation, the continual decline of Jewish communities in the Muslim world and in central and eastern Europe have contributed to the growing concentration of Jews in their diasporic homeland of Israel. Even now, though, after the Holocaust and substantial aliyah, only a minority of Jews live in the diaspora.


August 9, 2006 - 11:56 pm
" I am not the same person I was five years ago due in many ways to this discussion group."

Well, in that case . . .vbg checking in for a bit. . . claire

do we have to be green? it's so hard to read although making it bold helps.

as to the present there is a large jewish community associated with Hollywood and the entertainment business. I was contacted a few days ago by a Stanford doctoral candidate who was writing her dissertaion on Jews in the Movie field in the 1930's. It seems there was an underground movement against the German Bund at that time and she wanted to speak to me about it because it was evidently led by MY FATHER. something I never knew. . .and evidently they didn't either. There is a book about this period by Louis Brown entitled SEE WHAT I MEAN. I do remember that and she says that it's pretty much the way it all happened.

There's more and I look forward to meeting her later this month. fascinating and I as a secular Jew feel very much involved. . . Claire

August 10, 2006 - 12:21 am
Robby, the one before last name mentionned in #333 is called here Ibn Gvirol. Every place that prides itself to be a town has streets named Ibn Gvirol, Yehuda Halevi, Saadia Gaon, Abraham Bar Hiyya, Maimonides, Abraham ibn Ezra, and many others. They are just part of the daily life even if we are not sure about the extent of their deeds and fame

I'll have to think before answering: I feel like a knitter being asked what is crochet, when never having realized it was not common knowledge! lol
Until I came to live in Israel, being Jewish was just a label. After arriving here I feel it is more than that and I cannot express exactly in what ways. To use Claire's words, I am a secular Jew and still feel very much part of this ... culture? clan? family? not religion surely? It is a very deep gut feeling.

There were lots of tranlators and writers among the Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition.

Ibn Ezra

August 10, 2006 - 12:28 am
Look from chapter 10 on. Some fine excepts given.

robert b. iadeluca
August 10, 2006 - 03:22 am
Thank you, Claire and Bubble, for those enlightening postings.


robert b. iadeluca
August 10, 2006 - 03:39 am
"The main stream whereby the riches of Islamic thought were poured into the Christian West was by translation from Arabic into Latin.

"About 1060 Constantine the African translated into Latin al-Razi's Liber Experimemorum, the Arabic medical work of Isaac Judaeus, and Hunain's Arabic version of Hippocrates' Aphorisms and Galen's Commentary.

At Toledo, soon after its conqueste from the Moors, the enlightened and tolerant Archbishop Raymond organized a corps of translators under Dominico Gundisalvi and commissioned them to translate Arabic works of science and philosophy.

"Most of the translators were Jews who knew Arabic, Hebrew, and Spanish, sometimes also Latin. The busiest member of the group was a converted Jew, John of Spain whose Arabic patronymic, ibn Daud (son of David) was remodeled by the Schoolmen into Avendeath. John translated a veritable library of Arabic and Jewish works by Avicenna, al-Ghazali, al-Farabi and al-Khwarizmi.

"Through this last work he introduced the Hindu-Arabic numerals to the West. Almost as influential was his rendering of a pseudo-Aristotelian book of philosophy and occultism. Some of these translatins were made directly from ARabic into Latin. Some wer made into Castilian and then translated into Latin by Gundisalvi."

Maybe I am stereotyping here but I have always been impressed by the seriousness the Jewish people in New York City took toward education. It was almost as if they had to attend City College where the tuition was nominal but the academic level was high.

Will someone please tell me why the educational level of Jews, in general, is higher than the average -- or am I again stereotyping?


August 10, 2006 - 08:12 am
I think it is so, but the why eludes me. Here it would be unthinkable for example not to buy books to babies/toddlers as soon as they can hold one and can concentrate on a page. The learning starts at an early age.

Because of the diaspora, many families have members in different parts of the world. This encourages the learning of different languages. It is a great incentive for the children to be able to talk to them when they visit or to be able to communicate so as to be invited to visit abroad.

August 10, 2006 - 11:16 am
of how important it is to be educated. When you are a small minority in every society, perhaps you look for every advantage to increase your value to your family, your group and the rest of society. When you have trouble getting employment and therefore decide being self-employed is your means to a good livlihood, being as highly educated as you can be may be beneficial to your livlihood and your families existence. All of which adds up to each person in society getting as much education as they can and over generations, being smart and well educated becomes valued and a high priority. ......jean

August 10, 2006 - 11:51 am
anyway it was probably the reason our family valued education even if only historically and the reason I married a teacher, a non jew, who didn't share my feelings about it. He did it for tenure and a deep feeling of insecurity in his first chosen field where he didn't quite measure It directed the rest of my life too. For some reason I don't respect MERCHANTS.

August 10, 2006 - 01:16 pm
"Worried Los Angeles Jewish community leaders gathered in early 1933 to determine a course of action against mounting anti-Semitism. Alarmed by the boldness of the pro-Nazi group Friends of New Germany, the leaders formed a special defense organization know as the Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee. It consisted of approximately 40 influential leaders from Jewish groups such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Jewish Committee. Their work followed the ADL's strategy for fighting un-Americanism: surveillance and exposure of pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic groups.

A small paid staff, including Leon Lewis and Joseph Roos, co-ordinated information gathering activities. Operatives, planted in suspected fascist groups in Los Angeles, furnished information on activities and membership. These men and women were instructed to make themselves useful: serve as speakers, organize meetings and distribute propaganda. The operatives rendezvoused clandestinely with Roos on a regular basis to dictate spy reports. "Our business was to know what they were doing and where possible, using whatever means necessary - they were always legal means - to put them out of business," says Joseph Roos."
edit: this is information quoted from both public and private sources. Northridge has an archive of thirty boxes of correspondence from this period. . . re the organizations cited and my fathers role. brand new to me. there will be a book and possibly a movie...exciting hm?

robert b. iadeluca
August 10, 2006 - 07:28 pm
The Schools

robert b. iadeluca
August 10, 2006 - 07:35 pm
"The transmission of culture from generation to generation was undertaken by the family, the Church, and the school.

"Moral education was stressed in the Middle Ages at the expense of intellectual enlightenment, as intellectual education is today stressed at the expense of moral discipline.

"In England it was not unusual, in the middle and upper classes, to send a boy of seven or so to be brought up for a time in another home, partly to cement family friendshiips, partly to offset the laxity of parental love.

"The splended school system of the Roman Empire had decayed in the tumult of invasion and the depopulation of the towns. When the tidal wave of migration susided in the sixth century a few lay schools survived in Italy. The rest were mostly schools for training converts and prospective priests.

"For some time he Church gave all her attention to moral training and did not reckon the transmission of secular knowledge as one of her functions.

"But under the prodding of Charlemagne cathedrals, monasteries, parish churches, and convents opened school for the general education of boys and girls."

Intellectual education is today stressed at the expense of moral discipline?


August 10, 2006 - 08:00 pm
religion isn't allowed in the schools here in the united states and what else is considered moral discipline. "be quiet and stay in your seats"???

August 10, 2006 - 10:46 pm
Being an historian Durant should know that every generation thinks the younger generation has no moral discipline and is going to hell! The ancient Greeks were very clear about that. I'm surprised at Durant making that statement.......jean

robert b. iadeluca
August 11, 2006 - 03:26 am
"The economic revolution brought some changes in the educational scene.

"Cities that lived by commerce and industry felt a need for employees with practical training. Against much ecclesiastical opposition they established secular schools in which lay teachers gave instruction in return for fees paid by the parents of the pupils.

"In 1300 the fee for a year in a private grammar school in Oxford was four or five pence $4.50).

"Villani in 1283 reckoned 9000 boys and girls in the church schools of Florence, 1100 in six 'abacus' schools that prepared them for a business career, and 975 pupils in secondary schools.

"Secular schools appeared in Flanders in the twelfth century.

"By the second half of the thirteenth the movement had spread to Lubeck and the Baltic cities.

"In 1292 we hear of a schoolmistress keeping a private school in Paris. Soon she was one of many.

"The secularization of education was on its way."


Éloïse De Pelteau
August 11, 2006 - 06:22 am
There are some who live by Christian rules and proclaim to be Athiests, while some proclaim to be Christians and live by other rules. What children learn in school cannot completely erase what they learn on their mother's knees. How many preschoolers in the past centuries in America learned to read with the Bible and later, even if they don't practice any religion live by those rules. IMO of course.

Even in this discussion I can see that.

August 11, 2006 - 11:23 am
How does one define moral discipline? And if it is not taught by the schools than where will our children find it? Should it be taught by the parents or the church?

August 11, 2006 - 12:27 pm
parents of course. would you really want a man who has never had children as in a priest of the catholic church to raise your children? his own childhood is questionable. . .Claire

robert b. iadeluca
August 12, 2006 - 03:40 am
Universities of the South

robert b. iadeluca
August 12, 2006 - 03:51 am
"Secular schools were especially numerous in Italy.

"Teachers there were usually laymen, not clerics as beyond the Alps. In general the spirit and culture of Italy were less ecclesiastical than elsewhere.

"Indeed, about the year 970 one Vilgardus organized at Ravenna a movement for the restoration of paganism.

"There were, of course, many cathedral schools. Those of Milan, Pavia, Aosta, and Parma were particularly competent as we may judge from such graduates as Lanfranc and Anselm. Monte Cassino under Desiderius was almost a university.

"The survival of municipal institutions, the successful resistance of the Lombard cities to Barbarosa, and the rising demand for legal and commercial knowledge worked together to give Italy the honor of establishing the first medieval university.

"In 1925 the University of Pavia celebrated the eleven hundredth anniversary of its foundation by Lothair I.

"Probably this was a school of law rather than a university. It was not until 1361 that it received its charter as a studium generale -- the medieval name for a university uniting diverse faculties. It was one of many schools that from the ninth century onward revived the study of Roman law -- Rome, Ravenna, and Orleans in the ninth century -- Milan, Narbonne, and Lyons in the tenth -- Verona, Mantua, and Angers in the eleventh.

"Bologna was apparently the first of the West European cities to enlarge its school into a studium generale."


August 12, 2006 - 04:31 am
Bologna today is very much a University Town, famous for law and medicine faculties.

August 12, 2006 - 04:37 am
Moral education is learnt from stories told by good story tellers, whether they are parents, priests, or famous authors and artists. Good stories and pictures depict life as it is, and how various people have dealt with it.

For instance, Jane Austen wrote about snobbery of material possessions, and the worth of personal honour. Emily Bronte wrote about being honest about one's feelings, and being loyal to the right person. Middlemarch's Dorothea was a lesson in how many talented and good people are overlooked by a materialistic society, and how it's still possible for them to remain true to themselves.

August 12, 2006 - 07:40 am
Drawing Of The Interior Of The University of Bologna

Doe studying in a medieval building enhance learning, do you suppose?

August 12, 2006 - 08:05 am
I don't think so, Tooki, but the high standard of teachers does.

I finished my highschool in Geneva. The school was a very old building with thick walls, grand staircase, relatively small windows never opened. I hated it and was very claustophobic: I came from a place of sun and vast spaces. Compared to my old teachers who had travelled and were very liberal, those Swiss never moving from their surroundings for generations seemed very narrow minded and cold. I was the very first foreigner accepted in that school.

robert b. iadeluca
August 12, 2006 - 04:22 pm
"The universities of Spain were unique in being founded and chartered by the kings, serving them and submitting to governmental control.

"Castile developed a royal university at Palencia, later at Valladolid. Leon had one at Salamanca, the Baleares at Palma, Caralonia at Lerida.

"Despite this royal connection the Spanish universities accepted ecclesiastical supervision and funds and some, like Palencia, grew out of cathedral schools. The University of Salamanica was richly endowed in the thirteenth century by San Fernando and Alfonso the Wise and soon stood on an equal footing of fame and learning with Bologna and Paris.

"Most of these institutions gave instruction in Latin, mathematics, astronomy, theology and law -- some in Medicine, Hebrew or Greek.

"A School of Oriental Studies was opened at Toledo in 1250 by Dominican monks to teach Arabic and Hebrew. Good work must have been done there for one of its graduates, Raymond Martin, showed familiarity with all major philosophers and theologians of Islam.

"Arabic studies were prominent also at the University of Seville, founded by Alfonso the Wise in 1254.

"At Lisbon, in 1290, the poet-king Diniz, gave a university to Portugal."


robert b. iadeluca
August 13, 2006 - 04:20 am
Universities of France

robert b. iadeluca
August 13, 2006 - 04:32 am
"The unquestioned leader of the European mind, in the medieval meridian of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, was France.

"Its cathedral schoools had from the early eleventh century achieved international renown. If these schools flowered into a great university at Paris, rather than at Chartres, Laon, or Reims, it was proably because the thriving commerce of the Seine, and the business of a capital, had brought to the city the wealth that lures the intellect and finances science, philosophy, and art.

"The first known master of the cathedral school of Notre Dame was William of Champeaux. It was his lectures, given in the cloisters of Notre Dame, that stirred up the intellectual movement out of which the University of Paris grew.

"When Abelard came out of Brittany, slew William with a syllogism, and began the most famous lectures in French history, students flocked to hear him. The schools of Paris swelled their ranks and masters multiplied. A master (magister), in the educational world of twelfth century Paris, was a man licensed to teach by the chancellor of the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

"The University of Paris rose by now untraceable steps from the church schools of the city and derived its first unity from this single source of pedagogical licensing. Normally the license was given gratis to anyone who had been for an adequate period the pupil of an authorized master and whose application was approved by that master.

"It was one of the charges made against Abelard that he had set himself up as a teacher without having served such an approved apprenticeship."


August 13, 2006 - 04:57 am
did other things besides giving universities to Portugal.

Here are some interesting bits of information about him and Portugal.

August 13, 2006 - 06:32 am
is a great comment. Since there is a whole chapter devoted to Abelard coming up, I will keep my comments to myself. (Thank your lucky stars, you philosophy buffs.)

However, I have to give my short definition of "syllogism."

A syllogism is an argument with two premises and a conclusion. It always involves three "terms." Here is a classic example.

All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Therefore Socrates is mortal.

The terms are men, Socrates, mortal. Each of the three terms must occur twice. There's more, but this is the general idea.

And, in conclusion here is a bit of fun.

robert b. iadeluca
August 13, 2006 - 08:54 am
To hear some pseudosyllogims, listen to what is being said on the news these days.

You are right, Tooki. We will be arriving at the chapter on Abelard in a couple of days.


robert b. iadeluca
August 13, 2006 - 04:09 pm
"The most renowned of the French universities outside of Paris was at Montpellier.

"Situated on the Mediterranean halfway between Marseille and Spain, that city enjoyed a stirring mixture of French, Greek, Spanish, and Jewish blood and culture, with a sprinkling of Italian merchants and some remnants of the Moorish colony that had once held the twown.

"Commerce was active there. Whether through the influence of Salernian or Arabic or Jewish medicine, Montpellier, of an unknown date, established a school of medicine that soon outshone Salerno.

"Schools of law, theology and the 'arts' were added. Though these colleges were independent, their propinquity and cooperation earned for Montpellier a high repute. The university declined in the fourteenth century but the school of medicine revived in the Renaissance.

"In 1537 one Francois Rabelais gave there, in Greek, a course of lectures on Hippocrates."


August 13, 2006 - 11:22 pm
I have visited that School of Medicine in Montpellier. They have a museum attached to it. I saw there medical trusses that were own by famous Jewish rabbis and surgeons with their name engraved in Hebrew on scapels on other tools. I don't remember now (it was in '62!) but I seem to remember the name of the Rambam there too.

There were rows and rows of clear jars with specimens kept in formalin (formol) for the education of the students. Many aberrations too like foetuses with multiple heads or malformed hearths.

There were medical documents written in Arabic, ofther in Hebrew, all nicely preserved. Bubble

robert b. iadeluca
August 14, 2006 - 03:46 am
Universities of England

robert b. iadeluca
August 14, 2006 - 03:56 am
"Oxford, like the equipvalently named Bosporus, developed as a cattle crossing.

"The Thames narrowed and grew shallow at that point. A fortress was built there in 912, a market formed, and Kings Cnut and Harold held gemots there long before the University arose. Presumably there were schools in Oxford in Cnut's days but we hear of no cathedral school.

"About 1117 we find mention of a 'master at Oxenford.'

"In 1133 Robert Pullen, a theologian, came from Paris and lectured at Oxford on theology. By steps now lost to history, the schools of Oxford became to the twelfth century a studium generale or university -- 'no man can say when.'

"In 1209 , according to a contemporary estimate, there were 3000 students and teachers at Oxford. As at Paris there were four faculties -- arts, theology, medicine, and canon law. In England the teaching of civil law escaped the universities and lodged at the Inns of Court in London.

"Lincoln's Inn, Gray's Inn, the Inner and the Middle Temple were the fourteenth century descendants of the homes of chambers in which judges and teachers of the law, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, received students as apprentices."

<Comments about universities in England?


August 14, 2006 - 05:13 am
Oxford is older than Cambridge? They look like contemporaries in style, both a delight to visit.

robert b. iadeluca
August 15, 2006 - 03:47 am

robert b. iadeluca
August 15, 2006 - 03:54 am
"Let us give a separate chapter to Abelard.

"Not merely as a philosopher, not as one of the creators of the University of Paris, nor as a flame that set the mind of Latin Europe afire in the twelfth century, but as, with Heloise, part and personification of the morals and literature and highest fascination of their time.

"He was born in Brittany, near Nantes, in the village of Le Pallet.

"His father, know to us only as Berenger, was the seigneur of a modest estate, and could afford to give his three sons and one daughter a liberal education. Pierre (we do not know the origin of his surname Abelard) was the oldest and could claim the rights of primogeniture. But he felt so lively an interest in studies and ideas that, on growing up, he surrendered to his brothers his claim and share in the family property and set out to woo philosophy wherever a philosophic battle raged, or some famous teacher taught.

"It meant much for his career that one of is first masters was Jean Roscelin, a rebel who prefigured Abelard by drwing down upon his head the condemnation of the Church."


Éloïse De Pelteau
August 15, 2006 - 06:01 am
PETER ABELARD: The Story Of My Misfortune

At last I am going to learn about Abelard and Heloise through the eyes of Durant. Wonder what he is going to say now.

August 15, 2006 - 07:54 am
Great! I've bookmarked it to read later.

robert b. iadeluca
August 15, 2006 - 11:13 am
"In comparing your sorrows with mine, you may discover that yours are in truth nought, or at the most but of small account, and so shall you come to bear them more easily."

This sentence from the Foreward of Abelard's book cheers me up greatly! My life is happier than I thought it was.


robert b. iadeluca
August 15, 2006 - 11:28 am
"The controversy that Roscelin had aroused stemmed from what seemed the most harmless problem of the driest logic -- the objective existence of 'universals.'

"In Greek and medieval philosophy a universal was a general idea denoting a class of objects (book, stone, planet, man, mankind, the French people, the Catholic Church), actions (cruelty, justice), or qualities (beauty, truth.)

"Plato, seeing the transitoriness of individual organisms and things, had suggested that the universal is more lasting, therefore more real, than any member of the class it describes -- beauty more real than Phryne, justice more real than Aristides, man more real than Socrates.

"This is what the Middle Ages meant by 'realism.' Aristotle had countered that the universal is merely an idea formed by the mind to represent a class of like objects. The class itself exists, he thought, only as its constituent members. In our time men have debated whether there is a 'group mind' apart from the desires, ideas, and feelings of the individuals composing the group. Hume argued that the individual 'mind' itself is only an abstract name for the series and collection of sensations, ideas, and volitions in an organism.

"The Greeks did not take the problem too much to heart. One of the last pagan philosophers -- Porphyry of Syria and Rome -- merely phrased it without offering a solution.

"But to the Middle Ages the question was vital. The Church claimed to be a spiritual entity additional to the sum of her individual adherents. The whole, she felt, had qualities and powers beyond those of its parts. She could not admit that she was an abstraction and that nothing but ideas and feelings in her constituent members. She was the living 'bride of Christ.' Worse yet, if only individual persons, things, actions, and ideas existed, what became of the Trinity? Was the unity of the three Persons a mere abstraction. Were they three separate gods?

We must place ourselves in his theological environment to understand the fate of Roscelin."

I foresee the amateur philosophers in some of us coming to the fore. Let us, as usual, be cautious about our comments which border on religion.


August 15, 2006 - 11:36 am
Peter was a handsome man!

And what man could resist Heloise

August 15, 2006 - 01:37 pm
Faith has occupied our attention for over a year and we are almost at the end of the Age. We have watched as man gave himself over to, pomp, ceremony, and superstition. Now, finally, that we understand the meaning of faith and recognize it as comprised of universals that do not really exist in an Aristotelian sense, we come to the first real challenges to mythical explanation of life's natural phenomena.We come to Abelard. At last, reason enters our discussion. The process has been absent for a millennium.

robert b. iadeluca
August 15, 2006 - 02:31 pm
"We know his views only through the reports of his opponents.

"We are told that he considered universals or general ideas to be mere words (voces). Mere winds of the voice (flatus vocis), individual objects and persons exist.

"All else is names (nomina). Genera and spcies and qualities have no independent existence. Man does not exist, only men. Color exists only in the form of colored things.

"The Church would doubtless have let Roscelin alone had he not applied this 'nominalism' to the Trinty. God, he is reported to have said, is a word applied to the three Persons of the Trinity, just as man is applied to many men.

"But all that really exists is the three Persons -- in effect, three gods. This was to admit the polytheism of which Islam implicitly accused Christianity five times a day from a thousand minarets.

"The Church could not allow such teaching in one who was a canon of the cathedral at Compiegne. Roscelin was summoned before an episcopal synod at Soissons and was given a choice between retraction and excommunication. He retracted.

"He fled to England, attacked clerical concubinage there, returned to France, and taught at Tours and Loches. It was probbly at Loches that Abelard sat impatiently at his feet. Abelard rejected nominalism but it was for doubts about the Trinity that he was twice condemned.

"It deserves also to be noted tht the twelfth century called realism 'the ancient doctrine' and gave to its opponents the name of moderni -- moderns."


August 15, 2006 - 03:58 pm
The process has been absent for a millennium.

Only absent in the Christian Dark Ages, but not in the centres of Islamic learning?

August 15, 2006 - 04:06 pm
So did Roscelin claim that what existed was only what we might describe as those items which exists in space-time? (E.g. human persons.Grains of sand. Blades of grass). The theory falls down when you think of e.g. a river, which at first glance seems to be an item that exists in space-time , until you see that the river is in constant change and would not exist at all except for its banks, the law of gravity, the physical properties of water etc. The river is as much a universal as a nation of people.

better than Plato as regards what is real, but theories of existence have become more complex between then and now.

August 15, 2006 - 04:23 pm
Roscelin contended that class titles were abstractions and the members of a class the real thing. It followed then, that God did not exist but the Trinity members were recognizable entities. Man is abstract but Jesus is a real entity. Devils are an abstraction. Lucifer is real.

robert b. iadeluca
August 15, 2006 - 04:35 pm
A bio of ROSCELIN.


August 15, 2006 - 07:58 pm
said Heraclitus, back around the time of Plato. He invented the philosophy of eternal change, also called the theory of flux. Is Mallylee a Heraclitusian?

"You cannot step into the same river twice, for fresh waters are ever flowing upon you." Heraclitus

August 16, 2006 - 01:31 am
Do you agree that Roscelin is correct, Justin? I dont. I am what Tooki said . Devils and Lucifer, well, a difficult area, since moderns would not hesitate to call all supernatural entities abstractions.

Me. I am an abstraction, so is Robby, so are you, and Tooki, even in the flesh and not just in our electronic versions we are abstractions. Even subjectively, when we introspect, all we find is collections of sense impressions. Does Heraclitus coexist happily with Hume? I believe so.

robert b. iadeluca
August 16, 2006 - 04:07 am
"The Church was ably defended by Anselm in several works that seem to have deeply moved Abelard, if only in opposition.

"Anselm came of a patrician family in Italy. He was made Abbot of Bec in Normandy in 1078. Under his rule, as under that of Lanfranc, Bec became one of the major schools of learning in the West.

"As perhaps ideally described by his fellow monk Eadmer in a loving biography, Anselm was a gentle ascetic who wished only to meditate and pray and reluctantly emerged from his cell to govern the monastery and its school.

"To such a a man, whose faith was his life, doubt was impossible. faith must come long before understanding and how could any finite mind expect ever to understand God. He said:-'I do not seek to understand in order to believe' following Augustine, 'I believe in order to understand.' But his pupils asked for arguments for use against infidels. He himself considered it 'negligent if, after we are confirmed in our faith, we should not aim to understand what we have believed.'

"He accepted the motto fides quaerens intellectum -- faith in quest of understanding. In a series of immensely influential works he inaugurated Scholastic philosophy by attempting a rational defense of the Christian faith.

We are back to definitions we have discussed way back when we were in the second volume, The Life of Greece. What is faith? What is understanding? How can one believe without understanding?


August 16, 2006 - 06:09 am
Difficult for me to think in this archaic terminology. Beliefs, understanding, and faith are all theory -dependent

August 16, 2006 - 06:57 am
And, I would add, continuously discussed as we have progressed (sometimes laboriously) through this interminable, weighty, though not abstract, volume!

The return of considerations of understanding, faith, finite minds and understanding God were a necessary predecessor to the Renaissance. The Renaissance could not have happened without there first being a mental construct of what the ancients were up to.

The real question is why did these discussions emerge at this time? Durant has set the stage for us, talking about the gains of the 12th century. Things were going along well, trade increasing, kings gaining ascendancy over “The Church,” and living conditions mildly improving. Suddenly all hell breaks loose as a plethora of brilliant minds descends on the intellectually roiling new Universities and rolls out Aristotle to infect minds with logic.

And things were never the same again for “The Church.”

August 16, 2006 - 01:32 pm
Tooki thanks for helpful summary

robert b. iadeluca
August 16, 2006 - 03:13 pm
"Suddenly all hell breaks loose as a plethora of brilliant minds descends on the intellectually roiling new Universities and rolls out Aristotle to infect minds with logic."

Your comment, Tooki, makes me think. Do such events happen "suddenly" or do we "suddenly" become aware of them? I think of the Broadway actress who has been acting in scores of performances announced in headlines as an "overnight success."


August 16, 2006 - 03:44 pm
I don't a revolution in ideals happens "suddenly." I believe that they gradually emerge one tiny step at a time. In the 1960s we had a revolution of sorts, but the seeds of unrest were planted in 1940s with the GIs coming back from Europe and those here in America having lived through WWII. It has always been interesting to me that the introduction of certain music such as rock 'n' roll was interlude of a change in ideals. Artists seem to sense the need for change before the rest of the general public. At least that's my opinion.

robert b. iadeluca
August 16, 2006 - 04:54 pm
"The realism of Anselm was developed by one of Roscelin's pupils, William of Chambeaux.

"In 1103 William began to teach dialectics in the cathedral school of Notre Dame at Paris. If we may belive Abelard, who was too good a warrior to be a good historian, William out-Platoed Plato and held not only that universals are objectively real but that the indiv8dual is an incidental modification of the generic reality and exists solely by participating in the universal.

"So humanity is the real being which enters into and thereby gives existence to Socrates.

"Moreover (William is reported to have taught) the whole universal is present in every individual of its class.

"All humanity is in Socrates, in Alexander."


robert b. iadeluca
August 16, 2006 - 04:59 pm
Here is a definition of DIALECTIC.


August 16, 2006 - 07:13 pm
Roscelin's view is that reality lies in class members and abstraction in class titles. What happens to reality when the members of a class are abstractions? We see this clearly in Lucifer and the Devils.

August 16, 2006 - 11:58 pm
Justin, I think that what happens nowadays when class members are abstractions is that the class members and the universals as well, become concepts, each one having no essential being.

It could be that truth corresponds with science, or with common and popular representations of truth, but then cultural relativity may spoil that assumption.

I think this could be an illustration of how one class member becomes an abstraction : Hume introspected with the purpose of finding his self if such existed. All he found was a collection od sense impressions etc. I dont think anyone has ever foumd the binding twine that makes the bundle of sensations into a self.I dont think scepticism had been thought of as a virtue at the time of Roscelin?

robert b. iadeluca
August 17, 2006 - 02:37 am
The GREEN letters in the Heading show where we are now (Divine Philosophy) and where we are headed.

"Abelard remained with William, he tells us, 'for some time.'

"Then he himself began to teach, first at Melun, later at Corbeil, the one forty, the other twenty-five miles from Paris. Some criticized him for setting up his own shop after too brief an apprenticeship but a goodly number of students followed him, relishing his quick mind and tongue.

"Meanwhjile William became a monk at St. Victor and 'by request' continued his lectures there. To him, after a 'grievous illness,' Abelard returned as a pupil.

"Apparently there was more meat on the bones of William's philosophy than a hasty reading of Abelard's brief autobiography suggests. But soon their old debates were resumed. Abelard (in Abelard's report) forced William to modify his realism and William's prestige waned.

"His successor and appointee at Notre Dame now offered to yield his place to Abelard. William refused consent. Abelard resumed lecturing at Melun, then on Mont Ste. Genevieve, just outside Paris. Between him and William, and between their students, a war of logic ran its wordy course for years.

"Abelard, despite his rejection of nominalism, became the leader and hero of the moderni, the ardent young rebels of the 'modern' school.

Aside from the philosophic differences, it was a power struggle between the young and the old. What's new?


robert b. iadeluca
August 17, 2006 - 02:42 am
Here are some definitions of REALISM.


robert b. iadeluca
August 17, 2006 - 02:45 am
Here are some definitions of NOMINALISM.


August 17, 2006 - 08:21 am
Thanks Robby for the useful definitions. The 'realism' one that we have been reading about is number 5 definition

August 17, 2006 - 09:47 am
Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), inventor of the dictionary and sage of London dinner parties, wasn’t a noted philosopher, although apparently he fancied himself one.

Bishop Berkeley, for whom Berkeley, California is named, was a noted philosopher. The Bishop’s motto was “Esse est percipi,” Translated as “To be is to be perceived.” Loosely interpreted, this means we never experience physical objects, we only experience sensations. Like many philosophical notions this is difficult to refute, or for that matter, to prove! Hence the importance of dialectic and logic.

Dr. Johnson, as he was always called, was engaged in a discussion about The Bishop’s ideas wherein Dr. Johnson became agitated, upset, and angry. Philosophy will do that to you. He solidly kicked a fire hydrant or maybe it was a large stone.

And said, “Thus I refute you, Bishop Berkeley!”

I seem to recall one of the our current doyens of philosophy, Richard Dawkins maybe, or Steven Pinker, saying essentially the same thing. One of them invited his opponent to come upstairs to his apartment and jump out of his 25th floor window thereby disproving the intangibility of reality.


August 17, 2006 - 02:05 pm
Kicking a stone, and hurting your toe thereby is still known by sense impressions. Sense impressions are all we can ever know of reality.

It may be the case that objective reality is the same as the reality that is set up by our sense impressions, but this cannot be proved.

The fact that many people can vouch for the same experience of reality is not sufficient evidence that this reality is objective reality. There is always the possibility that someone will come along and claim that reality , according to his sense impressions, is not the same.

robert b. iadeluca
August 18, 2006 - 04:42 am

robert b. iadeluca
August 18, 2006 - 05:04 am
"Up to this time, he doth protest, he had maintained 'the utmost continence' and 'had diligently refrained from all excesses.'

"But in the maiden Heloise, niece of the cathedral canon Fulbert, there was a comeliness of person and a flair for learning which aroused the sensitivity of his manhood and the admiration of his mind.

"During these hectic years when Abelard and William fought the universal war, Heloise had grown from infancy to girlhood as an orphan of whose parentage no certain trace remains. Her uncle sent her for manuy years to a convent at Argenteuil. There, falling in love with the books in the little library, she became the brighest pupil the nuns had ever had.

"When Fulbert learned that she could converse in Latin as readily as in French and was even studing Hebrew, he took new pride in her and brought her to live with him in his home near the cathedral.

She was sixteen when Abelard came into her life.

"Presumably she had heard of him long since. She must have seen the hundreds of students who crowded the cloisters and lecture rooms to hear him. Perhaps, so intellectually eager, she had gone openly or furtively to see and hear the idol and paragon of the scholars of Paris. We can imagine her modest trepidation when Fulbert told her that Abelard was to live with them and be her tutor.

"The philospher himself gives the frankest sxplanation of how it had come about:---

'It was this young girl whom I determined to unite with myself in the bonds of love. And indeed the thing seemed to me very easy to be done. So distinguished was my name, and I possessed such advantages of youth and comeliness, that no matter what woman I might favor with my love, I dreaded rejection of none.

'Thus, utterly aflame with passion for the maiden, I sought to discover means whereby I might have daily and familiar speech with her, thereby the more easily to win her consent. For this purpose I persuaded the girl's uncle to take me into his household in return for the payment of a small sum. He was a man keen in avarice and believed that his niece would vastly benefit from my teaching. The man's simplicity was nothing short of astounding. I should not have been more surprised if he had entrusted a tender lamb to the care of a ravenous wolf.

'Why should I say more? We were united, first in the dwelling that sheltered our love and then in the hearts that burned wthin us. Under the pretext of study we spent our hours in the happiness of love. Our kisses outnumbered our reasoned words. Our hands sought less the book than each other's bosoms. Love drew our eyes together.'

"What had begun with his simple physical desire graduated through Heloise's delicacy into 'a tenderness surpassing in sweetness the most fragrant balm.'

"It was a new experience for him and wooed him quite from philosophy. He borrowed passion from his lectures for his love and left them anomalously dull.

His students mourned the dialectician but welcomed the lover. They were delighted to learn that even Socrates could sin. They consoled themselves for lost jousts of arguments by singing the love songs that he now composed.

"Heloise from her windows could hear on their lips the boisterous echo of his enchantment."

I have a hunch there will be numerous comments from you folks.


Éloïse De Pelteau
August 18, 2006 - 10:30 am
  • "Malheur à qui n'a plus rien à désirer ! Il perd pour ainsi dire tout ce qu'il possède. On jouit moins de ce qu'on obtient que de ce qu'on espère et l'on n'est heureux qu'avant d'être heureux" (Rousseau, La Nouvelle Héloïse)

    Woe to the one who has nothing more to desire! He loses, for all intents and purposes all he owns. One enjoys less what one obtains than what one hopes to obtain and one is only happy before being happy. (My poor translation doesn't do the French version justice I am afraid)

    Then that would mean that the chase is more exciting than the capture!!!
  • robert b. iadeluca
    August 18, 2006 - 01:40 pm
    "Not long afterward she announced to him tht she was with child.

    "Secretly by night he stole her from her uncle's house and sent her to his sister's home in Brittany. Half from fear and half from pity, he offered to the infuriated uncle to marry Heloise provided Fulbert wouuld let him keep the marriage secret.

    "The canon agreed and after his classes had adjourned, Abelard went to Brittany to fetch a tender but unwilling bride. Their son, Astrolabe, was three days old when he arrived.

    "Heloise long refused to marry him. The reforms of Leo IX and Gregory VII, a generation back, had barred married men from the priesthood unless the wife became a nun. She was not ready to contemplate such a surrender of her mate and her child.

    "She proposed to remain his mistress on the ground that such a relationship, kept judiciously secret, would not, like marriage, close his road to advancement in the Church.

    "A long passage in Abelard's History of My Calamities ascribes to Heloise at this point a learned array of authorities and instances against the marrige of philosophers and an eloquent plea against 'robbing the Church of so shining a light:---'Remember that Socrates was wedded and with how sordid a case he first purged that stain on philosophy, that thereafter other men might be more prudent.' He reports her as saying:-'It would be far sweeter for her to be called my mistress than to be known as my wife. Nay, this would be more honorable for me as well.'

    "He persuaded her by promising that the marriage would be known only to an intimate few."

    Let me see if I have this correct. Abelard, a canon of the cathedral and professor of philosopher in the Church, was getting ready to move on to the bishopric, and even to an archbishopric. Enter a beautiful "innocent" sixteen year old girl who furtively went to the cathedral to hear (and see) this handsome young man who, by his own words, had never been rejected by a girl.

    Abelard comes to live with her and her uncle. and lo and behold, he "forgets" not only what the Church had taught him but what he had been teaching others. The screen slowly fades and in the next scene we see biology in action. She is an expectant mother and Abelard, the former strong, righteous teacher now is petrified with fear andlooks about for an escape. One can almost hear him saying:'"How did this happen?" The uncle is infuriated but agrees to keep the story out of the newspapers because he knows what side his bread is buttered on. Abelard also has a slice of bread that needs buttering so the two upright community citizens come to an agreement.

    A married man could not rise in the Church and Heloise, now not so innocent -- needs an affluent male provider for her infant. She knows what side her bread is buttered on too. Necessity is the mother of invention so she suggests being his mistress which gives her not only all the sexual advantages she already had but now a possible future in a beautiful large modern home. Let us remember that Abelard was the leader of the "modern" school.

    Knowing that she is the one with the beauty and Abelard is the one with the brains and that she might not be able to compete with him in that arena, she brings up Socrates who was, himself, not adverse to sinning. Who can fight Socrates? Not even Abelard when at his strongest. Now he was vulnerable and, as the labor unions say, negotiate only from strength.

    In desperation, he uses that age-old male method of talking about a ring on her finger and she succumbs.

    Is this how you see it, folks?


    August 18, 2006 - 02:38 pm
    you are being a bit harsh about Heloise. Really, Robby, "She has the beauty, and he has the brains!"

    Abelard is trying to pass her off as an innocent victim of his oh so virile self, and she will have none of it. To make her the innocent victim of his lust is to strip her of freedom of choice and independence. She is refusing to be the lesser in the relationship. Abelard wrote what we are now reading. We will have to wait until we get to her letters to see what she has to say.

    Two powerful wills, brains, and body's vieing for position here. My money is on the supposed innocent one.

    August 18, 2006 - 02:56 pm
    Elosie -

    Absolutely. Do you remember the line in Anna Karina (sp!) that goes something like, "He had at last attained that which he longed for these many months."

    Vronsky subsequencely becomes bored with Anna. Anna loses all social position when she becomes Vronsky's mistress. Heloise wants that position. Strange what a couple of hundred years does to social ideas. Anna had no means whereby to combat the situation. Heloise at least could get herself to a nunnery.

    Just between you and me, Eloise, I sometimes wonder if Robby is his real name. Maybe it's Vronsky!

    August 18, 2006 - 07:09 pm
    There is more here than we see. Abelard was hired by the uncle to teach Heloise.Women generally,were not given instruction in anything other than music and manners. Abelard was neither musician nor well mannered. He was a philosopher, a theologian, a grammarian, a linguist. He taught Heloise what he knew. If you are getting the sense that Heloise was a very bright 16 year old,you are right.

    What pregnant 16 year old would think that the role of mistress was better suited than marriage to a layman with affluence? Only a very bright 16 year old would see an advantage in such a relationship.

    I doubt Abelard saw a bishopric in his future. A bishopric took money and property to attain not brains. He was hiring out to the local gentry as a teacher of children.

    He had already rubbed against Bernard in philosophical argument to Bernard's disadvantage and Bernard had the ear of the Pope who was needed to support a bishopric.

    Abelard is a guy who is challenging the status quo in religion. Such guys do not get to be bishops.

    August 19, 2006 - 03:15 am
    I have always heard the names Heloise and Abelard linked together. I did not know the story behind the names. Being in love, then, having a baby without the vows does seem to, in any century, cause complications.

    Did Abelard take advantage of Heloise? I get the impression he was her teacher. A teacher, I feel, should always stay in his or her place. We have heard a lot of stories lately of teachers sharing intimacies with students. Not good. We have also heard many stories about church officers stepping out of place and doing what they should not with the parishioners. I think Abelard was out of bounds.

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 19, 2006 - 04:20 am
    Heloise and Abelard left Astrolabe with the sister, returned to Paris, and were married in the presence of Fulbert.

    "To keep the marriage secret Abelard went back to his teacher lodgings and Heloise lived again with her uncle. The lovers saw each other now only rarely and clandestinely.

    "But Fulbert anxious to redeem his prestige and overruling his promise to Abelard, divulged the marriage. Heloise denied it and Fulbert 'visited her repeatedly with punishments.'

    "Abelard again stole her away. This time he sent her, much against her will, to the convent at Argenteuil and bade her don the garb of a nun, but not to take the vows or the veil. When Fulbert and his kinsmen heard of this says Abelard:---

    'they were convinced that now I had completely played them false and had rid myself forever of Heloise by forcing her to become a nun. Violently incensed, they had a plot against me and one night while I was asleep in a secret room in my lodgings, they broke in with the help of one of my servants whom they had bribed. There they had vengeance upon me with a most cruel and shameful punishment for they cut off those parts of my body whereby I had done that which was the cause of their sorrow. This done, they fled, but two of them were captured and suffered the loss of their eyes and their genitals.'

    'His enemies could not have chosen a subtler revenge.

    It did not immediately disgrace him. All Paris, including the clergy, sympathized with him. His students flocked to comfort him. Fulbert shrank into hiding and oblivion and the bishop confiscated his property.

    "But Abelard realized that he was ruined and that 'the tale of this amazing outrage would spread to the very ends of the earth.' He could no longer think of ecclesiastical preferment. He felt that his fair fame had been 'utterly blotted out' and that he would be a butt of jokes for generations to come.

    "He felt a certain unpoetic justice in his fall. He had been married in the flesh that hd sinned and had been betrayed by the man whom he had betrayed.

    "He bade Heloise take the veil and he himself, at St. Denis, took the vow of a monk."

    Your comments, please? Who was "right?" Who was "wrong?"


    August 19, 2006 - 01:04 pm
    It is the rules of religion playing havoc with people's lives again.

    August 19, 2006 - 01:41 pm
    perhaps images of Heloise and Abelard will move things along

    Number 1

    Number 2

    Number 3

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 19, 2006 - 02:44 pm
    Excellent links, Tooki!! Thank you.


    August 19, 2006 - 03:59 pm
    Tooki thank you. That looks like Richard Burton in the last one. Maybe not.

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 19, 2006 - 04:08 pm
    The Rationalist

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 19, 2006 - 04:20 pm
    "A year later (1120) at the urging of his students and his abbot, he resumed his lecturing in a 'cell' of the Benedictine priory of Maisoncelle.

    "Presumably we have the substance of his lecture courses in his books.

    "These, however, were composed in hectic installments and hardly allow dating. They were revised in his final years when his spirit was quite broken and there is no telling how much youthful fire was quenched by the flow of time.

    "Four minor logical works circle about the problem of universals. We need not disturb their rest. The Dialectics, however, is a 375-page treatise on lotgic in the Aristotelian sense;-a rational analysis of the parts of speech, the categories of thought (substance, quantity, place, position, time, relation, quality, possession, action, 'passion'), the forms of propositions and the rules of reasoning.

    "The renascent mind of Western Europe had to clarify these basic ideas for itself like a child learning to read. Dialectic was the major interest of philosophy in Abelard's time, partly because the new philosophy stemmed from Aristotle through Boethius and Porphyry, and only the logical treatises of Aristotle (and not all of these) were known to this first generatin of Scholastic philosophy.

    "So the Dialectica is not a fascinating book. Yet even in its formal pages we hear a shot or two in the first skirmishes of a Two Hundred Years' War between faith and reason.

    "How can we, in an age already doubtful of the intellect, recapture the glow of a time that was just discovering 'this great mystery of knowledge'?

    "Truth cannot be contrary to truth, Abelard pleads. The truths of Scripture must agree with the findings of reason, else the God who gave us both would be deluding us with one or the ohter."

    Western Europe begins to wake up and ask itself who and what it is.


    Éloïse De Pelteau
    August 19, 2006 - 06:18 pm
    Heloïse did need a provider for her infant preferably the father of her baby. She had been raised in a convent since infancy getting all her education from books, not from real life up to now, and went straight from the convent to her uncle’s house. She had not been raised where there were any men or boys her age around, so she was as innocent of the ways of the world as a child of 10.

    But not Abelard, he admitted that he had designs on the young girl even before she knew him. To seduce her would only be a sport for him he readily admits, but surely he could not have predicted that using a young girl in that way would result in the unthinkable act that ensued. He must have thought that he could find ways to solve his problem his usual way, with rhetoric, he could wind anyone around his finger, all he had to do was speak and every one would see his logic and would agree that sending her to a convent until things died down would be enough to calm down her uncle.

    Later she proved that her brains exceeded his by the way she conducted her life and she was better off there than with A who would have treated her like chattel in the long run.

    All he wanted was his pound of flesh.

    August 20, 2006 - 04:25 am
    Re Hats' photo # 3. I believe the two actors are a very young Keith Richards and Diana Rigg. If I remember correctly another Frenchwoman, Simone de Beauvoir, used the same argument when Jean-Paul Sartre suggested marriage [married life was incompatible with the scholarly life].

    August 20, 2006 - 04:27 am
    Suec thank you for taking the time to find out.

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 20, 2006 - 04:34 am
    "After a turbulent year with unruly monks, Abelard secured permission from the new abbot, the great Suger, to build himself a hermitage in a lonely spot halfway between Fontainebleau and Troyes.

    "There, with a companion in minor orders, he raised with reeds and stalks a little oratory or place of prayer which he called by the name of the Holy Trinity.

    "When students heard that he was free to teach again they came to him and made themselves into an impromptu school. They built huts in the wilderness, slept on rushes and straw and lived on 'course bread and the herbs of the field.'

    "Here was a thirst for knowledge that would soon make and crowd universities. Now, indeed, the Dark Ages were a nightmare almost forgotten.

    "In return for his lectures, the students tilled the field, raised buildings, and built him a new oratory of timber and stone which he called the Paraclete, as if to say that the affection of his disciples had come like a holy spirit into his life just when he had fled from human society to solitude and desspair."


    August 20, 2006 - 04:53 am
    par·a·clete , n.
    1. an advocate or intercessor.
    2. (cap.) the Holy Spirit; the Comforter.
    [1400–50; < ML, LL Paracl"tus < LGk Parákl"tos comforter, lit., (person) called in (to help), verbid of parakaleîn (equiv. to para- PARA-1 + kaleîn to call); r. late ME paraclit < ML Paracl#tus, repr. MGk Parákl"tos]

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 21, 2006 - 05:44 pm
    The Letters of Heloise.

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 21, 2006 - 06:03 pm
    "Abelard had an interlude of moderate happiness when Suger decided to use for other purposes than a nunnery the house at Argenteuil.

    "Since her separation from Abelard Heloise had so devoted hherself there to her duties as a nun that she had been made prioress and had won 'such favor in the eyes of all that the bishops loved her as a daughter, the abbots as a sister, and the laity as a mother.'

    "Learning that Heloise and her nuns were looking for new quarters, Abelard offered them the oratory and buildings of 'the Paraclete.' He went in person to help establish them there and frequently visited them to preach to them and the villagers who had settled near by.

    "Gossip murmured 'that I, who of old could scarcely endure to be parted from her whom I loved, was stil swayed by the delights of earthly lust.'

    "It was during his troubled abbacy at St. Gildas that he composed his autobiography -- Historia calamitatum mearrum. We do not know its motive. It assumes the guise of an essay in consolation offered to a plaintive friend 'so that, in comparing your sorrows with mine, you may discover that yours are in truth naught.'

    "But apparently it was intended for the world as both a moral confession and a theological defense. An old but unverifiable tradition says that a copy of it came to Heloise and that she wrote this astonishing reply:--

    'To her master, nay father, to her husband, nay brother:-his handmaid, nay daughter, his spouse, nay sister:-to Abelard, Heloise.

    'Your letter written to a friend for his comfort, beloved, was lately brought to me by chance. Which things I deem that no one can read or hear with dry eyes for they renewed in fuller measure my griefs. In His name. Who still protects the name of Christ, as His handmaids and thine, we beseech thee to deign to inform us by frequent letters of those shipwrecks in which thou still are tossed, that thou mayest have us, at least, who alone have remained to thee as partners in thy grief or joy.'

    'Thou knowest, dearest -- all men know -- what I have lost in thee. Obeying thy command, I changed both my habit and my heart that I might show thee to be the possessor of both my body and my mind. Not for the pledge of matrimony, nor for any dowry, did I look. And if the name of wife appears more sacred and valid, sweeter to me is ever the word friend, or, if thou be not ashamed, concuine or whore. I call God to witness, if Augustus, ruling over the whole world, were to deem me worthy of the honor of marriage, and to confirm the whole world to me, to be ruled by me forever, dearer to me and of greater dignity would it seem to be called thy strumpet than his empress.'"

    Your comments, please?


    August 22, 2006 - 12:03 am

    So much pain lately for me, that sends me to bed early and wakes me up in the middle of the night. Thank heaven for SeniorNet and books that give my mind something else to focus on and think about besides the bushel of pain that is I.

    I read this letter and others when I was taking an Ancient History course in college 55 years ago. That was when I first stumbled on Heloise and Abelard. I was head over heels in love with my future husband at the time. All these years later I still think this is the most heartfelt, sincere, beautiful outpouring of love and devotion that I have ever read.

    What a shame. What a darned shame.That's all I can say.


    robert b. iadeluca
    August 22, 2006 - 03:48 am
    Heloise's letter to Abelard continues.

    'For who among kings or philosophers could equal thee in fame? What kingdom or city or village did not burn to see thee? Who, I ask, did not hasten to gaze upon thee when thou appeared in public? What wife, what maiden did not yearn for thee in thine absence, nor been in thy presence? What queen or powerful lady did not envy me my joys and my bed?

    'Tell me one thing only if thou canst:-why, after our conversion to the religious life which thou alone didst decree, I am fallen into such neglect and oblivion with thee - that I am neither refreshed by thy speech and presence, nor comforted by a letter in thine absence. Tell me one thing only, if thou canst, or let me tell thee what I feel, nay, what all suspect:-concupicence joined thee to me rather than affection. When, therefore, what thou hadst desired ceased, all that thou hadst exhibited at the same time failed. This, most beloved, is not mine only but the conjecture of all. Would that it seemed thus to me only and thy love found others to excuse it by whom my grif might be a little quieted.

    'Attend, I beseech thee, to what I ask. While I am cheated of thy presence at least by written word -- whereof thou hast abundance -- present the sweetness of thine image. I deserved more from thee, having done all things for thee. I, who as a girl was allured to the asperity of monastic conversion, not by religious devotion but by thy command alone. No reward for this may I expect from God for the love of Whom it is well known that I did not anything.

    'And so in His name to Whom thou has offered thyself before God I beseech thee that in whatsoever way thou canst thou restore to me thy presence by writing to me some word of comfort.

    'Farewell, my all.'"

    Comments, please?


    robert b. iadeluca
    August 22, 2006 - 03:52 am
    Definition of CONCUPISCENCE.


    August 22, 2006 - 06:48 am
    I would rather be called, "thy strumpet than his empress," and "envy me my joys and my bed," are wonderfully poetic. These letters apparently form part of the French Romantic tradition in literature.

    However poetic they may be, consoling, sincere, and heartwarming, I side with the folks who consider them forgeries. But, that casts no pall on them. Let's enjoy them. But, I would enjoy a modern translation. What we're reading is Latin into French, then into 16th century "St. James Bible" English.

    Mal, How about giving us a 21st century English version of what Durant quotes? I would love to read your version of even a few lines.

    While I'm waiting, I'll mull over John's Donne's best line. Upon secretly marrying Anne Donne and it being discovered, John wrote:

    John Donne, Anne Donne, Undone.

    Éloïse De Pelteau
    August 22, 2006 - 02:31 pm
    "C'est toi seul que je désirais, non ce qui t'appartenait ou ce que tu représentes. Je n'attendais ni mariage, ni avantages matériels, ne songeais ni à mon plaisir ni à mes volontés, mais je n'ai cherché, tu le sais bien, qu'à satisfaire les tiennes. Le nom d'épouse paraît plus sacré et plus fort; pourtant celui d'amie m'a toujours été plus doux. J'aurais aimé, permets-moi de le dire, celui de concubine et de fille de joie, tant il me semblait qu'en m'humiliant davantage j’augmentais mes titres à ta reconnaissance et nuisais moins à la gloire de ton génie".

    Lettre à Pierre Abélard

    It is you only I wanted, not what you owned nor what you represented. I expected neither marriage nor material advantage, was hoping neither my pleasure nor my will, but I only wanted, surely you know, to satisfy yours. The name of wife looks more sacred and strong; but that of friend always felt softer to me. I would have liked, permit me to say, the name of concubine or whore because it felt to me that in humiliating myself further, I increased my rights to your gratitude and was less harmful to the glory of your genius. (my translation)

    Bubble, Isn't this a beautiful love story?

    August 22, 2006 - 03:00 pm
    It is also a story of human abuse.The uncle who, in thinking his honor stained, sought revenge by punishing his neice and castrating her lover, thus destroying not only three lives, but also the lives of those who committed the dastardly act. This kind of abuse is more common among the men of Islam but is not confined to them. Tennessee Williams relates a similar scenario in his play The Long Hot Summer.

    August 22, 2006 - 04:15 pm
    Eloise, for your fine translation. It has somewhat the flavor of "The Story of O."

    Justin, the "Long, Hot, Summer," is, for me, almost unreadable. Even the film, noirish as it is, is almost unseeable

    August 22, 2006 - 09:03 pm
    A MOVIE from awhile back. . .it's usually sexually orientated. the opposite is more romantic and apt to be a fantasy. which is how he manages to win. and it's said that getting there is half the fun, but for whom?

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 22, 2006 - 11:32 pm
    "Abelard was physiologically incapacitated from responding to such passion in kind.

    "The reply that tradition assigns to him is a reminder of religious vows:-'To Heloise his dearly beloved sister in Christ, Abelard her brother in the same'

    "He counsels her to accept their misfortunes hunmbly as a cleansing and saving punishment from God. He asks for her prayers, bids her assuage her grief with the hope of their reunion in heaven, and begs her to bury him when he is dead, in the grounds of the Paraclete.

    "Her second letter repeats her fond impiieties:-'I have ever feard to offend thee rather than God. I seek to pleae thee more than Him. See how unhappy a life I must lead if I endure all these things in vain, havintg no hope of reward in the future. For a long time thou, like many others, hast been deceived by my simulation, so as to mistake hypocrisy for religion.'

    "He answers that Christ, not he, truly loved her. 'My love was concupiscence, not love. I satisfied my wretched desires in thee and this was all that I loved. Weep for thy Saviour, not for thy seducer, for thy Redeemer, not for thy defiler.'

    "And he composes a touching prayer which he asks her to recite for him. Her third lettr shows her resigned to the earthly death of his love. She asked him now only for a new rule by which she and her nuns might live properly the religious life. He complied and drew up for them a kindly moderate code. He wrote sermons for their edification and sent these compositions to Heloise over a tender signature. 'Farewell in the Lord to His servant, once dear to me in the world, now most dear in Christ.

    "In his own broken heart he still loved her."

    Spending all those years in a nunnery pretending that she had religious feelings and now opening herself up completely, not only to him, but to the "world."


    August 23, 2006 - 12:11 am
    Yes Eloise, a great story and a very good translation you did. That life in a nunnery must have been hell for Heloise. What became of the child, is it known?

    Did your mother name you after reading these letters???

    August 23, 2006 - 12:26 am

    I suspect that Heloise's long years as a "nun" may have heightened her romantic fantasies. I'm w/ Justin,again,....... much abuse, but much degradation to the woman. If she did write the letter, how sad that she feels so inferior and unworthy, or that she has set him on such a high pedestal above her. I don't see this as romantic in the least. It's a sad tale of people wishing to control each other, showing power over each other, even to the point of mutilation and "imprisonment."

    Like Hats i have never heard ALL the details of this "romance" before, it's a pity that history has held this story up as THE great romance, but maybe there is some fascination w/ a man being shorn of his "manhood" because of his love for this woman. Isn't that the great fear of men in relationships w/ woman that she will "castrate" him. Robby???........jean

    August 23, 2006 - 12:37 am
    Jean, maybe he gained a sweeter voice for his sermons and lessons?

    Éloïse De Pelteau
    August 23, 2006 - 05:19 am
    Bubble, my mother was well read but it was my father who wanted to name me after his mother. I guess the letter H was removed because it has no purpose in French as it is usually a silent letter, as you know. My mother would have avoided mentioning this love story to us because of it's sexual content.

    It is hard to understand, for some people that girls can be so strictly controlled until they got married, but I assure you that it is possible and they are not necessarily abused. Most of the time, girls raised in a convent were completely ignorant about sex and only could fantasize about the romance they read in books. Girls raised like Héloïse were many in her time if she came from the aristocracy. Convents were not the 'hell' that are described in today's movies. They were often better than what life was at home.

    My only teachers were nuns in primary school, very few were hard, most of them were like a mother to us.

    I don't think Héloïse suffered from her upbringing and she didn't realize the consequence of her romance with Abélard until it was too late. Afterwards being in a convent was better than being in the world she would face, banned from all proper social contact. Remember that young unmarried women were not as free as they are today. Everywhere they went they were chaperoned until they were 'given' in marriage.

    She trusted her uncle, who gave her the only home she ever knew and he trusted Abélard to act only as her teacher, not as her lover, silly man. Fulbert became enraged because he loved Héloïse as a daughter. (I read in my searches that she could have been his illegitimate daughter).

    Abélard and Héloïse is not fiction otherwise Durant would not have dwelt on this would he?

    August 23, 2006 - 06:04 am
    I totally agree with you Eloise. I did almost all my schooling at the nun's school until I had to go away to Europe, and those nuns were kind and loving.

    The girls who were in boarding school there because their parents lived too far away also told us how the nuns came to each to wish good night and see all was OK and they were not too homesick. They told us that between themselves the nuns lost their serious composure and were often like teenagers in holiday, even playing pranks on one another.

    I suppose one must have experience the nun's way to be able to understand it?

    Heloise's life as head of her community could never have been as good and "free" except for the religious rule as if she had been outside in the world.

    August 23, 2006 - 06:27 am

    It does happen that religion and ethnic customs sometimes co-exist in the same societies. I wonder if 'honour' killings and punishments pertain to ethnic custom rather than to Islam. If so, then the religion and the illegal 'honour' punishments are separable.

    August 23, 2006 - 06:38 am
    'My love was concupiscence, not love. I satisfied my wretched desires in thee and this was all that I loved.

    An admirably clear thinker who was able, before sociology was ever invented, to be able to see that romantic love is falsely glorified. This attitude towards romantic love gained pace with industrialisation which needed people who could be emotionally separated from the places and ethical codes of their birth, and go off as independent persons able to form new loyalties, to new money and to new family.

    Since Christ represented the only viable alternative at the time of Abelard, he sees love of Christ as more universally applicable than romantic love. The tradition of the troubadours was strong and enduring. We are still under its thrall, which is promoted by Hollywood and other popular media

    August 23, 2006 - 07:30 am
    Was that really what Abelard felt, or was that the thing to say , expected from him by his superiors, so as to retain his position? that was most important of course for both his and Heloise's future.

    They are both quite eloquent.

    August 23, 2006 - 02:23 pm
    But i still call what happened to Heloise abuse, even if it was the custom of the day and even if being in a convent because of her "condition/circumstances" may have been "better" than being out in society. She was a victim of older men who were supposed to be her "protectors" and teacher, ESPECIALLY because of her innocence. In todays world we would be outraged at a teacher taking that advantage even if the girl was not so innocent. Tell me what is romantic about this relationship?

    Is anybody having sympathy for Abelard? (and i say that w/ NO sympathy for A) O.K. his punishment was a "little" (that's tic) drastic, but more than one person has said castration should be the punishment for an act like his - NOT ME, but I have heard more than one other person make that suggestion. I see this story as a bunch of male egos run amuck and, as often in history, it has been glorified into this great romantic legend.

    This could be a rant, but i will stop there since we're not supposed to get too political in this discussion - and that is "political" in it's broadest sense, as well as it's relation to current events.....have i explained myself enough?..... ....jean

    August 23, 2006 - 02:29 pm
    it's hard for a modern woman to evaluate a story like this. the choices seem to be so ridicuous. . . the men having all the power and the society so confusing in OUR DAY.

    August 23, 2006 - 05:51 pm
    Bubble; Abelard could well have been called the castrato preacher.

    August 23, 2006 - 06:27 pm
    You will recall that after the marriage, Abelard went to his bachlor quarters and Heloise went to Fulbert's home to live. Fulbert had promised to keep the marriage quiet to satisfy the desires of A and H. He broke that promise and disclosed the marriage to save his protect own honor. Heloise, denied the marriage and Fulbert punished her several times hoping to get a confirmation. You don't suppose these punishments were a slap on the wrist after the castration of Abelard. This guy was out to redeem his honor at any cost. He didn't give a damn about A or H and what might have been right for them. He wanted the appearance of custom attached to his name.

    I think it is fairly clear the relationship between A and H after the deed is dictated by Abelard's Abbot. The language of his letters sounds very much to me like the aftermath of the confessional.

    This is a story of human abuse for the sake of religious custom.It is certainly not a love story. What happened to the child? Astrolabe is irrelevant in all this. Well, clearly, she is another victim of this painful, sordid affair.

    August 23, 2006 - 06:32 pm
    Good news today. Scientists have found a way to extend the use of stem cells without destroying the embryo. Our modern Comstocks have been overcome.

    August 23, 2006 - 11:33 pm
    Mallylee: You raise an interesting question concerning separation of ethnic customs and religion. The two are intertwined and probably reinforce one another. I would have to reread the surahs of the Qu'an in order to identify specific verses that contribute to the custom of honor killings but I don't seriously doubt their existence. Do you?

    August 24, 2006 - 01:54 am
    Justin I have read chapter two of the Koran quite recently, as it is the longest to plough throutg (my sense of duty called me )

    I have read a bit of another chapter that I was referred to as being the aggressive bit, however it seemed to me to be open to interpretation as to attacking civilians, torturing women etc

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 24, 2006 - 02:47 am
    The Condemned

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 24, 2006 - 03:11 am
    "We do not know when or how Abelard escaped from the dignities and trials of his abbacy.

    "We find John of Salisbury reporting that in 1136 he had attended Abelard's lectures on Mont Ste.-Genevieve. Nor do we know by what license he had resumed his teaching. Perhaps he had asked none.

    "It may be that some flouting of Church discipline set eccelesiastics against him and by a devious route led to his final fall.

    "If emasculation had unmanned him there is no sign of it in the works tht have transmitted to us the substance of his teaching. It is difficult to find explicit heresy in them but easy to discover passages that must have made churchmen fret.

    "In a book of moral philosohy entitled Seito te ipsum (Know Thyself) he urged that sin lies not in the act but in the intention. No act -- not even killing -- is sinful in itself. So a mother, having too little clothing to warm her babe, pressed it against her bosom and unwittingly suffocated it. She killed the thing she loved and was properly punished by the law to make othr women more careful but in the eyes of God she was sinless.

    "Furthermore, that there should be sin, the agent must violate his own moral conscience, not merely that of others. Hence the killing of Christian martyrs was not a sin in Romans who felt such persecution necessary to the preservation of their state or of a religion which seemed to them true. Nay, 'those even who perecuted Christ or His followers, whom they considered it their duty to persecute, are said to have sinned in action.

    "But they would have comimitted a graver fault if, contrary to their conscience, they had spared them.'

    "All this might be logical as well as irritating but on such a theory the whole doctrine of sin as a violation of God's law threatened to go up in a haze of casuistry about intention. Who but a few Pauls would admit that he had acted against his own conscience?

    "Of the sixteen excerpts for which Abelard was condemned in 1141, six were taken from this book.

    Following Abelard's teachings, the persecution of Christian martyrs is not a sin because it was related to the preservation of the Roman state. Would you say that the Iraqi indiscriminate killings of civilians is, therefore, not a sin? According to Christian belief? According to Islamic belief? It relates to the preservation of Iraq.

    Is Israel's bombing of Lebanon's civilians not a sin because it relates to the life of Israel?

    "These questions can lead to political remarks so please do your best to relate your answers to Abelard's philosophy.


    August 24, 2006 - 04:01 am
    "So a mother, having too little clothing to warm her babe, pressed it against her bosom and unwittingly suffocated it. She killed the thing she loved and was properly punished by the law to make other women more careful but in the eyes of God she was sinless. "

    This reminds me of a case we had here a few years ago: terrorists arrived from the sea and invaded a house, killing the inhabitants and several children one after the other. The mother escaped with her last child by hiding in the double ceiling where one keeps luggage or not often used belonging. She was afraid that the whimper of the child would attract the terrorists and she covered his mouth firmly. Later it was found the child had suffocated. The court judge acquitted her of crime.

    Éloïse De Pelteau
    August 24, 2006 - 04:46 am
    Too many people appoint themselves judges of who is a sinner or a criminal and what is a sin or a crime. Who are they to judge others? That woman who accidentally suffocated her baby was obviously innocent of a crime Bubble, the crime should be to condemn her, but I am not a judge of the law.

    August 24, 2006 - 06:42 am
    What is a sin ?It all depends on the criteria. The word 'sin' applies not to ethics but to religious edicts. In ethics, the criteria may be utilitarian, which is what most national laws in the west are based on. My ethical criterion is a combination of human sympathy and reason.I also think that utiliarian ethics are often the best way for governments to go.

    There may be a place for individual virtue, but it should be an adjunct of a free society, not of some theocracy or dictatorship

    August 24, 2006 - 08:41 am
    the agent must violate his own moral conscience, not merely that of others.”

    That is moral relativism of the simplest sort. Moral relativism can be understood in various ways, most of them difficult. Witness Eloise's story. But, what I mean is that there are deep and widespread disagreements between peoples depending on their societies’ religions and traditions.

    That in the face of such difficult problems as outlined by Robbie, Abelard proposed such a simple minded view is hard to imagine. He must have said more, or had more complex reasoning in mind.

    No wonder he is remembered as a lover rather than a philosopher, except by Durant.

    August 24, 2006 - 08:51 am
    I didn't find an adequate picture of John of Salisbury, mentioned by Durant as attending Abelard's lectures in 1136. But I did find a lovely paining by John Constable of Salisbury Cathedral.

    Salisbury Cathedral

    August 24, 2006 - 11:08 am
    I don't think that the question is what sin is but that sin exists at all. If one does not believe in sin, how than can he/she sin? What may be sin to one person is not necessarily sin to another.

    August 24, 2006 - 11:18 am
    and therefore the whole concept of "sin." Is something legal or not, that is the question......jean

    Fifi le Beau
    August 24, 2006 - 12:51 pm
    Robby's question..........

    Following Abelard's teachings, the persecution of Christian martyrs is not a sin because it was related to the preservation of the Roman state. Would you say that the Iraqi indiscriminate killings of civilians is, therefore, not a sin? According to Christian belief? According to Islamic belief? It relates to the preservation of Iraq.

    Is Israel's bombing of Lebanon's civilians not a sin because it relates to the life of Israel?

    It seems that Abelard's description of sin has been adopted by many nations. All nations who incite war always say it is for defense and therefore the killing is justified. It would be difficult to have wars without Abelards way of thinking about sin.

    Since most faiths claim to be against killing, they surely must have some way out of the dilemma of committing that act. Abelard gave them a way to justify the killing, and it is alive and well in the 21st century.

    The death penalty would also apply to his thinking. The State is allowed to kill if the laws and people agree this is a 'sinless' operation on the part of the executioner.

    The indiscriminate killing of women and children during wars is usually excused as being in enemy territory and therefore fair game. Without Abelard's philosophy those who pull the trigger or release the bomb would be deemed murderers.

    Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all had laws saying 'you shall not kill'. It worked fine within their own community, but a problem arose when it was applied to 'others'. Should it apply to heretics, other tribes, perceived enemies? History says it did not, therefore religion never stopped killing, but came up with new interpretations to cover breaking their own laws.

    When a pilot releases his bombs on a target and it kills a group of school children in Afghanistan playing in a field, he is not charged with murder but confusion because a previous bomb had obscured the bombing site. He is justified using Abelard's argument.

    When an American marine killed two small Iraqi boys trying to catch the family camels that had been frightened by our convoy, they were not charged with murder, but using Abelard's argument again, served with honor and did their duty. Great distance and high powered weapons obscure the face of humanity.

    Being a realist and a literalist, when they say 'you shall not kill' and then begin to make excuses for killing, it is all as false as their religion and god, no different from any other killer who ever lived, and in fact worse because they wrap themselves in pious rantings while committing heinous acts against humanity.

    All my opinion of course, and Abelard would easily recognize his arguments on sin in Washington, Tel Aviv, and Mecca.


    Éloïse De Pelteau
    August 24, 2006 - 02:10 pm
    "Je n'avais pas franchi les bornes de l'adolescence, je n'étais pas entré dans les années de la jeunesse que déjà ton nom parvint à mes oreilles ; ce n'était pas encore ta profession religieuse, mais ton goût si honorable et si louable pour les études qui faisait ta renommée. J'entendais dire alors qu'une femme, retenue encore par les liens du siècle, se consacrait à la science des lettres et ‑ ce qui est très rare ‑s'adonnait à l'étude de la sagesse. Ni les plaisirs du monde ni ses frivolités ni ses délices ne pouvaient la détourner de son propos : l'étude des arts. Quand le monde entier donne le spectacle d'une véritable apathie pour ce genre d'exercices, quand la sagesse ne sait plus où poser son pied, je ne dirai pas chez le sexe féminin d'où elle est entièrement bannie, mais dans l'esprit même des hommes, tu t'es élevée par l'éclatant niveau de tes études au‑dessus de toutes les femmes et tu as dépassé presque tous les hommes."

    I had not passed beyond the milestones of adolescence, I had not yet entered the years of youth that already your name came to my ears; it was not yet your religious profession, but your honorable and praiseworthy taste for learning that made you famous. I was hearing at the time that a woman, still held by the bonds of this world, was committing herself to the studies of letters and, which is very rare, was dedicating herself to the study of wisdom. Neither the pleasures of the world, not its frivolities or its delights could deter her purpose; the study of the arts. When the whole world shows apathy for this kind of exercise, when wisdom no longer knows where to set foot, I will not say from the feminine standpoint from which she has been entirely banished, but in the minds of men you have raised yourself, by the dazzling level of your studies, above all other women and you have surpassed almost all men. (my translation)

    August 24, 2006 - 04:34 pm
    we've come a long way ..."baby???"

    August 24, 2006 - 10:05 pm
    Robby: I have been opening at post 421 lately rather than at the latest unread posts. Is anyone else experiencing this peculiarity?.Does anyone know how to correct the problem?

    August 24, 2006 - 11:18 pm
    Fifi you are right about how conscience cannot be the ultimate guide to the sum total of human values. The goodness or badness of a person's conscience depends on the culture that enlighteneed the consciousness. In this connection, I've been told that in French, 'consciousness' and 'conscience' are the same word/ Perhaps Eloise would comment on that?

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 25, 2006 - 03:06 am
    Justin:-Are you still having that problem? What I would do is go to B&L and click onto that, then onto SofC.


    robert b. iadeluca
    August 25, 2006 - 03:28 am
    "What disturbed the Church more than any specific heresy in Abelard was his assumption that there were no mysteries in the faith, that all dogmas should be capable of rational explanation.

    "Was he not so drunk with the lees of logic that he had dared to connect it with the Logos, the Word of God, as a science almost divine? Granted that this seductive teacher arrived by unorthodox methods at orthodox conclusions.

    "How many immature minds, infected by him with the logic-chopping germs, must have been, by his specious pros and cons, unsettled on the way!

    "If he had been the only one of his kind he might have been left untouched, in the hope that he would not take too long to die. But he had hundreds of eager followers. There were other teachers -- William of Conches, Gilbert de la Porree, Berenger of Tours -- who were also summoning the faith to trial by reason.

    "How long, on this procedure, could the Church maintain that unity and fervor of religious belief on which the moral and social order of Europe seemed to rest?

    "Already one of Abelard's pupils, Arnold of Brescia, was fomenting revolution in Italy."

    Immature minds infected with logic? An oxymoron perhaps? Maybe another way of saying it would be the "faithful" beginning to use critical thinking?


    robert b. iadeluca
    August 25, 2006 - 03:33 am
    Definition of CRITICAL THINKING.


    August 25, 2006 - 06:16 am
    In preparation for a rant on Durant’s constant bad-mouthing of logic, I found this passage on page 930 that I think deserves repeating.

    “… any way of life develops a similar dogmatism about the assumptions on which it rests. So today we leave men free to question the religious, but not the political, faith of their fathers, and political heresy is punished by social ostracism as theological heresy was punished by excommunication in the Age of Faith; now that the policeman labors to take the place of God it becomes more dangerous to question the State than to doubt the Church."

    So in America you can be a religious fundemantalist, a religious free thinker, or an atheist, but you are looking for trouble if you question curtailing civil liberties, amongst them freedom of speech. How's that again?

    Fifi le Beau
    August 25, 2006 - 09:35 am
    Tooki, Durant was writing the "Age of Faith" in the 1930's and it was published late in that decade. It was an unsettled time, soon after WW1 and on the eve of WW11.

    In this country anyone could easily set up a new church and make it according to their interpretations of God, gods, goddess, or tree for that matter. They may have been looked on as crackpots, but they were in no danger of being arrested.

    However, questioning the authority of state or federal laws by refusing to obey them or breaking them was a quick way to be arrested and put on trial. The State is the law in this country enforced by the policeman, not the Church.

    That is how I interpreted Durant's words.


    August 25, 2006 - 11:14 am
    Fifi: Re. your post 464. I quite agree with you; that is my interpretation too. My apologies for being so criptic. I was attempting to point out that things are as heavily policed by the State now as they were in the 30s.

    I won't say more because it verges on the political. I think I will go work on my Logic rant. That's much more argumentative, as befitting a topic such as logic.

    August 25, 2006 - 12:24 pm
    Robby: My problem seems to have cleared up. Thank you.

    This may be a good time to restate the policy on politics. Tooki seems concerned about approaching the topic.

    August 25, 2006 - 12:50 pm
    It is my wont to apply reason to religious dogma and as one might expect and Abelard recognized, religion comes up wanting. It is no wonder the Church (the Papacy and a Council at Sens) sentenced him to silence. Religion is composed of fiction and superstition and therein lies it's great appeal. It can be made to expand or contract to fit the wishes of adherants. When the Church quelled Abelard they acknowledged the vulnerability of Christianity to reason and endorsed its superstitious character. These fictions are called Mysteries but the term cannotes an absence of certainty and thus holds open for many a promise of paradise.

    August 25, 2006 - 01:46 pm
    I am to understand that according to Durant the Church was more important than the State during the Age of Faith? Was that true for all people or just those living in more civilized communities?

    August 25, 2006 - 04:50 pm
    Certainly the Church was more important in people's lives than the state in the twelfth century. The state collected taxes but the church offered life after death and prescribed sin to guide them through life's boring periods. People woke up with the church on the mind and went to bed with the message of God occupying their lips.I don't know about uncivilized areas. The church spread its influence over Asia, Africa, and Europe and was in competition with Islam. Australia, Antarctica, and North and South America were unknown quantities at the time. I guess we must conclude that the church did not reach into these uncivilized areas. However, there must have been some recognized but uncivilized areas not overlapped by Islam and Catholicism. Perhaps, Buddhism and Hindi accounted for some of that. Let's face it, the folks of the known world were exposed to religion in some form. It must have been difficult to avoid.

    August 25, 2006 - 06:32 pm
    Justin I had the same problem as you, my computer opening these pages at a fixed and earlier date.

    I eventually found that it was due to my battery running low, and the clock computer clock thus loosing time. It would happen once or twice, then seem to correct itself, before slipping again.

    If it happens to you again, check the computer clock, and if it is wrong, or worse, out of date, then a weak computer battery may be the cause.. Trevor

    August 25, 2006 - 10:25 pm
    Thank you Trevor. My sync with internet time was off by an hour and twenty minutes. I updated the thing and all is well again.

    August 26, 2006 - 12:41 am
    Tooki it's our duty as free people to be iconoclasts wherever any idols appear, whatever they are.If human rights are cast in brass, or stone, or gold they should be melted down and reformed, and the same treatment for any deity however elevated

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 26, 2006 - 03:01 am
    "Abelard fell till and his kindly Abbot sent him to the priory of St. Marcel near Challons for change of air.

    "There on April 21, 1142 he died, aged sixty three. He was buried in the priory chapel but Heloise reminded Peter the Venerable that Abelard had asked to be interred at the Paraclete.

    "The good Abbot brought the body to her himself, tried to comfort her by speaking of her dead lover as the Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle of his time and left with her a letter rich in Christian tenderness.

    "She joined her dead lover in 1164, having lived to equal his age and almost his fame. She was buried beside him the garden of the Paraclete.


    August 26, 2006 - 11:28 am
    Robby’s link on critical thinking (post 462) contains no references to logic. Apparently one can think critically without using logic (if one is rational and clear headed enough, I suppose.) However, for some of us, the use of rudimentary logic aids in clarifying thoughts and expression, an aspect of critical thinking.

    Durant’s dissing of logic may be merely a literary device, presenting logic as an “enemy” of faith, or perhaps he genuinely dislikes it. Such phrases as “. . . drunk with the laws of logic, logic-chopping germ, specious pros and cons, driest logic,” certainly imply that logic is an enemy of faith.

    I don’t accept that because I don’t even see a connection between faith and logic. Logic is a tool that provides one with the means to manipulate statements. The truth or falseness of the statement, or premise, is outside the laws of logic. Logic has nothing to do with truth or falseness of the premises, only with the conclusion of the argument.

    At about this point we get mired down in inductive and deductive reasoning, valid inferences, and such, just as the Scholastics did. The big deal is that logic will not prove the truth of your premises. Your premises are true or false before you begin your logical arguments. Logic may help you mess things up and confuse folks, but it will not find truth where it doesn’t exist. So, have all the religious faith you can, but logic will not prove it’s anything but faith.

    Here is the way Wikipedia put it: “The conclusion of a valid deductive inference is true if the premises are true. The conclusion is inferred using the process of deductive reasoning. A valid deductive inference is never false. This is because the validity of a deductive inference is formal. The inferred conclusion of a valid deductive inference is necessarily true if the premises it is based on are true.”

    The reason logic is important is because it insures that the conclusions of an argument are true IF THE PREMISES ARE TRUE. Sorry to be repetitive, but that point about premises is frequently missed. What Abelard was doing isn’t clear to me from what Durant presents, except that Abelard was supposedly using logic. And I suppose that as we discuss further “The Adventure of Reason” I will become enraged at the “Scholastics.” Sigh!

    August 26, 2006 - 12:16 pm
    hmmm is it coming soon? the age of faith has been going on for so long I wondered what came next. I look forward to the Adventure of Reason. It is that. . . reasoning, an adventure.

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 26, 2006 - 01:50 pm
    The Adventure of Reason

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 26, 2006 - 01:54 pm
    The School of Chartres

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 26, 2006 - 02:06 pm
    The change in the GREEN quotes in the Heading show where we are now and where we are headed.

    "How shall we explain the remarkable outburst of philosophy that began with Anselm, Rocelin, and Abelard and culminated in Albertus, Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas?

    "As usual, many causes conspired. The Greek East had never surrendered its classical heritage.

    "The ancient philosophers were studied in every century in Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria. Men like Michael Psellus, Nicephorus Blemydes, George Pachymeres, and the Syrian Bar-Hebraeus knew the works of Plato and Aristotle at first hand.

    "Greek teachers and manuscripts gradually entered the West. Even there some fragments of the Hllenic legacy had survived the barbarian storm. Most of Aristotle's Organon of logic remained. Of Plato the Meno and the Timaeus, whose vision of Er had colored Christian imaginations of hell.

    "The successive waves of translations from the Arabic and the Greek in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries brought to the West the revelation and challenge of Greek and Moslem philosophies so different from the Christian that they threatened to sweep away the whole theology of Christendom unless Christianity could construct a counterphilosophy.

    "But these influences would hardly have produced a Christian philosophy if the West had continued poor. What beought these factors to effect was the growth of wealth through the agricultural conquest of the Continent -- the expansion of commerce and industry -- the services and accumulations of finance.

    "This economic revival collaborated with the liberation of the communes -- the rise of the universities -- the rebirth of Latin literature and Roman law -- the codification of canon law -- the glory of Gothic -- the flowering of romance -- the 'gay science' of the troubadours -- the awakening of science and the resurrection of philosophy -- to constitute the 'Renaissance of the twelfth century.'"

    And we of European heritage are so proud of ourselves and look down on the East.


    August 26, 2006 - 02:20 pm
    Tooki: The clarity of your presentataion conerning logical processes is outstanding in my judgement. It is clearly very easy to to mistakenly assume that logic will dispel faith and falsehood. Certainly the two are not linked. They are independent thought processes.One tends to forget that it is the truth of a premise that must examined to learn the exact quality of a statement.

    It is interesting that Durant studied at Saint Peter's College in Jersey City where logic is taught by the Jesuits and is a required subject. I am not sure what they do about testing premises. Premises based on faith must produce conclusions based on faith.

    August 27, 2006 - 01:30 am
    I endorse that Justin. Both yours and Tooki's posts are well constructed arguments, and they are informative as well

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 27, 2006 - 04:19 am
    "From wealth came leisure, study, schools.

    "Schole at first meant leisure. A scholasticus was a direcctor or professor of a school.

    "The 'Scholastic philosophy' was the philosophy taught in the medieval secondary schools or in the universities that for the most part grew out of them.

    "The 'Scholastic method' was the form of philososphical argument adn exposition used in such schools.

    "In the twelfth century, barring Abelard's classes in or near Paris, Chartres was the most active and famous of these schools. There philosophy was combined with literature. The graduates managed to write of abstruse problems with the clarity and grace that became an honorable tradition in France.

    "Plato, who also had made philosophy intelligible, was a favorite there, and the quarrel between realists and nominalists was mediated by identifying the 'real' universals with the Platonic Ideas, or creative archetypes, in the mind of God.

    "Under Bernard of Chartres and his brother Theodoric the school of Chartres reached the height of its influence.

    "Three of its graduates dominated the philosophical scene in Western Europe in the half century after Abelard -- William of Conches, Gilbert de la Porree, and John of Salisbury."

    Europe is coming alive.


    August 27, 2006 - 05:52 am
    Thank you for your kind words, Justin and Mallylee. For them you get to see pictures of these dudes. You may also, if you are so inclined this beautiful Sunday morning, review the Ontological Argument, by Anselm.

    Albertus Magnus

    Thomas Acquinas

    P.S. Anselm's a priori truths require no premises; no emperical evidence is used in the arguments. I consider this approach to be a cheap way out.

    August 27, 2006 - 08:58 am
    Tooki, I like Anselm's ontological argument because it makes me think. What I think, is that existence as we know it implies a host of negations as well as all the attributes of the concept of the existential event or entity.

    For instance, to know about a thing's existence( the overlap in the Venn diagram) we have to be able to say what it is not, as well as what it is. E.g. Bill Clinton is not Hilary Clinton : Bill Clinton is a grey-haired man. These are empirical facts .

    God is not existential like Bill Clinton is, unless 'God' is defined as being finite, not infinite; as temporal, not eternal. Clearly,it would be unusual for anybody to attribute finity and temporality to God. Moreover, God is said to be perfectly good (Jesus said it, for instance),and the experience of perfection is subjective.

    Apples and oranges ; to compare God with things that exist is specious.

    If I understand you, you and I agree that this objection can stand?

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 27, 2006 - 09:11 am
    All you ever wanted to know about a VENN DIAGRAM.

    August 27, 2006 - 03:49 pm
    Anselm has a hard time convicing me that one mental image is greater than another mental image simply because one includes an additional state.

    The Anselm definition is more interesting to me. If one accepts his definition of God as a being that can not be improved upon, then, since all humans can be improved upon it follows that God is not human. Hence, Jesus, a human,is not God.

    August 27, 2006 - 06:17 pm
    I'm looking for someone who in real life knew SHORTHAND and might still remember it. My fathers papers are important to some historians and some of them are in shorthand. It isn't taught anymore in the secretarial environment. There is paid work here for someone who remembers how and would like to help out in this regard.

    claire. just contact me with an e-mail if you're interested.

    August 27, 2006 - 10:53 pm
    Justin, I take it that your reference to an additional state applies to existence in space and time? If so, I agree .

    Winsum, I do hope you will find someone who can translate your father's work from shorthand. Is there a history society, perhaps a local history society who could help ?

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 28, 2006 - 02:49 am
    If anyone can help Claire, please do so by email.


    robert b. iadeluca
    August 28, 2006 - 02:51 am
    Aristotle in Paris

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 28, 2006 - 03:00 am
    "Toward 1150 one of Abelard's pupils, Peter Lombard, published a book which was at once a compilation of Abelard's thought purified of heresy and a beginning of the formal Scholastic philosophy.

    Peter, like Anselm, Arnold of Brescia, Bonaventura, and Thomas Aquinas, was an Italian who came to France for advanced work in theology and philosophy. He liked Abelard and called Sic et non his breviary.

    "But also he wanted to be a bishop. His Sententiarum Libri IV, or Four Books of Opinions, applied and chastened the method of the Sic et non. He drew up under each question of theology an array of Biblical and Patristic quotations for and against. Bu this Peter labored conscientiously to resolve all contradictions into orthodox conclusions.

    "He was made bishop of Paris and his book became for four centuris so favorite a text in theological courses that Roger Bacon reproved it for having displaced the Bible itself.

    "More than 4000 theologians, including Albert and Thomas, are said to have written commentries on the Sentences."

    Nothing like starting with a conclusion, then drawing up "facts" to prove it.


    August 28, 2006 - 03:59 am
    Mallylee - After mulling it over, yes, we agree. There's more there, but Paris awaits!

    August 28, 2006 - 05:33 am
    As you say Robby or depending on whether it's good to be able to criticise such intellectual sleight of hand, or bad that it should have any influence over anybody's thinking

    August 28, 2006 - 08:17 am
    Perhaps Durant was unaware, when he was writing this book, of the connection between Platonic “archetypes” and those of Carl Jung, Austrian psychologist, 1875-1961. It’s an interesting connection, and there is much information on the subject of Platonic and Jungian archetypes on the net, much of it contradictory, fascinating, and wrong. This post is merely a short take on the subject.

    The word archetype has a long and interesting history. A glance at any dictionary shows that there are many meanings for it in English. According to my ancient dictionary, in Greek archetype means original pattern, a prototype or permanent form.

    For Plato permanent form fits the bill: pure ideas of which existing things are pale reflections, like flitting shadows on the walls of a cave. (Excuse me: I got carried away by the great shadows metaphor.)

    For Karl Jung, in what is called Jungian psychology, the archetype is an ancient symbol imbued with cultural meanings, a system build up over millenniums. This system of archetypes operates beyond the personal. Archetypes are innate, universal prototypes of ideas.

    The similarities in their views seem to me to be apparent. Both the Platonic and Jungian views of archetypes play a big role in the arts. For example, in the visual arts especially, all pre-20th century Madonna’s have a certain Platonic resemblance. Is there, in a cave somewhere, a real Madonna?

    There are also modern Madonnas that, to me, have a certain Jungian feel. Ah, this is a fascinating subject.

    <Max Ernst (1891-1976) Jungian Madonna

    Caravaggio (1513-1610) Platonic Madonna

    August 28, 2006 - 09:54 am
    I supposethere is a resemblance between Jungian archetypes and Platonic forms. Do you think, though, that Platonic forms rely on dualism, whereas archetypes can be explained as caused by both cultural norms and genetic inheritances of the specie?

    By genetic inheritances, I mean that the human brain has evolved so that some connections are inevitable across all cultures

    August 28, 2006 - 09:58 am
    I like Caravaggio because of the high lights and dark low tones. Never saw this madonna before though. I like her too.

    Why 'Platonic'? Isn't the idea of a virgin goddess always an archetype?

    Is this an example of how the Platonic form and the archetype are the same ?

    August 28, 2006 - 01:03 pm
    Caravaggio is a Jungian precursor. (note the dirty feet on the peasants).


    August 28, 2006 - 01:24 pm
    Adolphe Bouguereau's Madoona, Jesus, and Saint John is also an interesting deviation. (Frank Buttram of Oklahoma City has the thing in his private collection.)

    August 28, 2006 - 01:35 pm

    Bougeureau Madonna

    August 28, 2006 - 01:43 pm
    SHE'S SPANKING JESUS. . . what did he do? very funny thank you. . .claire

    edit: and here are all the madonna's anyone could imagine. the image has a life of it's own, reproduces itself over and over, never grows old. here

    well you'll have to do a search at this place because it won't allow it's page full of madonnas to roam. just write in the word in the search slot. I wonder how they do that. I might find out in the source code but it's not worth the trouble.

    August 28, 2006 - 01:57 pm
    let's see if this image works.

    a modern madonna

    yep the only modern one in their collection. . . claire

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 28, 2006 - 05:42 pm
    Plato and Jung -- a very interesting comparison.


    August 28, 2006 - 11:41 pm
    Robby it is a very interesting comparison, as you say. I am still thinking it over. Coincidentally (or maybe synchronicitally!!) Someone on another list who introduced the topic, and another, and I are dicussing Jungian archetypes and dreaming.

    August 28, 2006 - 11:46 pm
    Mal: Bougeureau made several Madonna's. This one is called the Oklahoma Madonna.

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 29, 2006 - 03:39 am
    "As the Lombard's book upheld the authority of the Scriptures and the Church against the claims of the individual reason, it stayed for half a century the advance of rationalism.

    "But in that half century a strange event transformed theology. As the translation of Aristotle's scientific and metaphysical works into Arabic had in the ninth century compelled Moslem thinkers to seek a reconciliation between Islamic doctrine and Greek philosophy -- and as the impingement of Aristotle upon the Hebrew mind in Spain was in this twelfth century driving Ibn Daud and Maimonides to seek a harmony between Judaism and Hellenic thought -- so the arrival of Aristotle's works in Latin dress in the Europe of 1150-1250 impelled Catholic theologians to attempt a synthesis of Greek metaphysics and Christian theology.

    "And as Aristotle seemed immune to scriptural authority, the theologians were forced to use the languge and weapons of reason. How the Greek philosopher would have smiled to see so many world-shaking faiths pay homage to his thought!

    "But we must not exaggerate the influence of Greek thinkers in stimulating the efflorescence of philosophy in this period.

    "The spread of education -- the vitality of discussion and intellectual life in the schools and universities of the twelfth century -- the stimulus of such men as Roscelin, William of Champeaux, Abelard, William of Conches, and John of Salisbury -- the enlargement of horizons by the Crusades -- the increasing acquaintance with Islamic life and thought in East and West -- all these could have produced an Aquinas even if Aristotle had remained unknown.

    "Indeed the industry of Aquinas was due not to love of Aristotle but to fear of Averroes. Already in the twelfth century the Arabic and Jewish philosophers were influencing Christian thought in Spain.

    "Al-Kindi, al-Farabi, al-Ghazali, Avicenna, Ibn Gabirol, Averroes and Maimonides entered Latin Europe by the same doors that admitted Plato and Aristotle, Hippocrates and Galen, Eclid and Ptolemy."

    Any such thinkers in this past century to change the direction of civilization?


    August 29, 2006 - 12:34 pm
    explosion of the christian right but whom to blame.

    August 29, 2006 - 12:58 pm
    John Dewey. George Santayama, Ludwig Von Mises, etc.

    August 29, 2006 - 01:02 pm
    Karl Marx, Mao, Ghandi,

    August 29, 2006 - 01:05 pm
    FDR, Keynes,

    August 29, 2006 - 01:41 pm
    that’s what Steinbeck called those whose thinking alters civilization. I prefer the words shape shifters, implying as it does, something mysterious.

    Here’s my list: Freud, Darwin (whom I consider 20th century), Einstein, and Marx. There are others of course, but these four, in my view, shifted things around the most.

    Although Freud is currently not popular or his theories held in high repute, by anybody except Freudian Analysts, he had insights that changed our thinking. Who can now have a verbal slip of the tongue and not call it a Freudian slip? I am bringing up Freud mostly to tell this joke.

    A man told his analyst, “My wife and I were sitting at the breakfast table on a beautiful, sunny weekend morning. I said to her, “You ruined my life, Laura, you bitch.” Actually, what I meant to say was, “Please pass the toast.” It was only a Freudian slip!”

    August 29, 2006 - 02:00 pm
    "Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (April 26, 1889 - April 29, 1951) was an Austrian philosopher who contributed several ground-breaking works to contemporary philosophy, primarily on the foundations of logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of language, and the philosophy of mind. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century.

    He published only one philosophical book in his lifetime, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus in 1921. Wittgenstein's early work was deeply influenced by Arthur Schopenhauer, and by the new systems of logic put forward by Bertrand Russell and Gottlob Frege. When the Tractatus was published, it was taken up as a major influence by the Vienna Circle positivists.

    With the completion of the Tractatus, Wittgenstein believed he had solved all the problems of philosophy, and he abandoned his studies, working as a schoolteacher, a gardener at a monastery, and an architect. However, in 1929, he returned to Cambridge, was awarded a PH.D for the Tractatus, and took a teaching position there. He renounced or revised much of his earlier work, and his development of a new philosophical method and a new understanding of language culminated in his second magnum opus, the Philosophical Investigations, which was published posthumously."

    August 29, 2006 - 02:59 pm
    How about Hitler, Stalin and Osama bin Laden - - - and don't tell me that they are not thinkers!


    August 29, 2006 - 03:17 pm

    August 30, 2006 - 12:18 am
    Bernard-Henri Levy? Jean-Paul Sartre? Bertrand Russell?

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 30, 2006 - 03:28 am
    The Freethinkers

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 30, 2006 - 03:39 am
    "To understand Scholasticism as no vain accumulation of dull abstractions, we must see the thirteenth century not as the unchallenged field of the great Scholastics but as a battleground on which for seventy years, skeptics, materialists, pantheists, and atheists contested with the theologians of the Church for possession of the European mind.

    "We have noted the presence of unbelief in a small minority of the European population. Contact with Islam through the Crusades and the translations extended this minority in the thirteenth century.

    "The discovery that another great religion existed and had produced fine men like Saladin and al-Kamil, philosophers like Avicenna and Averroes, was in itself a disturbing revelation. Comparative religion does religion no good.

    "Alfonso the Wise reported a common disbelief in immortality among the Christians of Spain. Perhaps Averroism had trickled down to the people.

    "In southern France there were in the thirteenth century rationalists who argued that God, after creating the world, had left its operation to natural law. Miracles, they held, were impossible. No prayer could change the behavior of the elements.

    "The origin of new species was due not to special creation but to natural development.

    "At Paris some free thinkers -- even some priests -- denied transubstantiation. At Oxford a teacher complained that 'there is no idolatry like that of the sacrament of the altar.'

    "Alain of Lille remarks that 'many false Christians of our time say there is no rsurrection since the soul perishes with the body.'

    "They quoted Epicurus and Lucretius, acopted atomism, and concluded that the best thing to do is to enjoy life here on earth."

    "Comparative religion does religion no good?"


    Fifi le Beau
    August 30, 2006 - 08:58 am
    The works of the Greeks such as Aristotle and Plato had been in Europe before the dark ages, but after the invasion and destruction most of it perished, but a remnant. As Durant says there were pockets of rationalists who did not accept the Christian dogma of the church, plus those realists who had no god belief and accepted life as it was in the real world.

    The Arabs had no such history. The religion of the Muslims and Jews was based on dreams. They could not distinguish between the 'dream world' and reality. There were no rational thinkers until they read the Greeks and then only a few who dared question the religious dogma. Their ideas did not take over the Jewish or Islamic world as history proves. There are many however who no longer follow the religious ideology and through education have left the world of dreams and the occult to live their lives in the real world.

    The Roman Catholic church in France will do to the Christians who question their dogma what the Jews and Muslims did to their fellow questioners. They will try to control them and if that doesn't work, kill them. France has again found rational thinking and eventually it will win over the populace, but not before 400 years plus of religious persecution, witch hunts, and massacres.

    The Greeks were the first to think outside the occult world. Their reasoning was not based on dreams, spirits, devils, alchemy, rocks, gods, and etc. Others may have eventually reached the same conclusion, but the Greeks did it first, and all other so called great thinkers were simply plagurizing the Greeks.

    In this entire book, Age of Faith, Durant never mentions the great writers of the time in whatever faith, without giving attribution to the Greeks. Even those who tried to rationalize religion used the Greek formula, and today their reasoning looks silly and contrived, but in the dark ages was embraced by the church to control the population and keep power.

    As to those who changed the world, I would say Gutenberg and the printing press did more to change Europe from the occult worshiping world it was to the rationalist world it is today.


    robert b. iadeluca
    August 30, 2006 - 05:39 pm
    "Toward the end of the thirteenth, and throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the University of Padua was a turbulent center of Averroism.

    "Peter of Abano, professor of medicine at Paris and then of philosophy at Padua, wrote in 1303 a book, Conciliator controversiarum, designed to harmonize medical and philosophical theory. He carried a place in the history of science by teaching that the brain is the source of the nerves and the heart of the vessels, and by measuring the year with remarkable accuacy as 365 days, six hours, and four minutes.

    "Convinced of astrology, he reduced almost all causation to the power and movement of the stars and practically eliminated God from the government of the world.

    "Inquisitors accused him of heresy but Marquis Azzo d'Este and Pope Honorius IV were among his patients and protected him. He was accused again in 1315 and this time escaped trial by dying a natural death.

    "The inquisitors condemned his corpse to be burned at the stake but his friends so well concealed his remains that the judgment had to be executed in effigy.

    Your comments, please?


    August 30, 2006 - 07:15 pm
    The message" Comparative religion does religion no good", is valid because it makes one aware that there were other Gods before ours and that polydeities do not make for the exclusivity that is the principal evil of all religion.

    August 30, 2006 - 07:20 pm
    517: No wonder Galileo recanted. The evils of religious zeal are so evident it is a wonder there are any adherants remaining.

    August 30, 2006 - 11:29 pm
    'Comparative religion does religion no good'.

    Perhaps in a technologically almost static world this is true; the place of religion was to be ther bearer of morality of all but the thinking eccentrics. However, now that the world is in rapid change religions have to be fluid in order to feed the lambs.

    Dogmatic beliefs about God, and fatalistic acceptance of evils are dangers to continuing life on Earth

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 31, 2006 - 03:31 am
    The Development of Scholasticism

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 31, 2006 - 03:39 am
    "To meet this frontal attack upon Christianity it was not enough to condemn the heretical propositions.

    "Youth had tasted the strong wine of philosophy. Could it be won back by reason?

    "As the mutakallimum had defended Mohammedanism from the Mutazilites, so now Franciscan and Dominican theologians, and secular prelates like William of Auvergne and Henry of Ghent, came to the defense of Christianity and the Church.

    "The defense divided itself into two main camps -- the mystic-Platonic, mostly Franciscans, and the intellectual-Aristotelian, mostly Dominicans. Benedictines like Hugh and Richard of St. Victor felt tht the best defense of religion lay in man's direct consciousness of a spiritual reality deeper than all intellectual fathoming. 'Rigorists' like Peter of Blois and Stephen of Tournai argued that philosophy should not discuss the problems of theology. Or, if it did, it should speak and behave as a modest servant of theology -- ancilla theologiae.

    "It should be noted that this view ws held by only a sector of the Scholastic front."

    The battle is on!


    August 31, 2006 - 06:13 am
    We’ll just have to wing it.

    Averro and his doctrines “that natural law rules the world without any interference by God.”

    Peter of Abano determined that the brain is the source of the nerves. He also measured the year, says Durant.

    No illustrations of Siger of Brabant. He taught the world is eternal, natural law is invariable, and only the soul survives death.

    Awesome head gear.

    robert b. iadeluca
    August 31, 2006 - 05:10 pm
    "The Platonic-Augustian division of the Scholastic army dominated orthodox theology in the first half of the thirteenth century.

    "Its ablest exponent was the saintly Bonaventura -- a gentle spirit who persecuted heresy, a mystic writing philosophy, a scholar who deprecated learning, a lifelong friend and opponent of Thomas Aquinas, a defender and exemplar of evangelical poverty under whose ministry the Franciscan Order made great gains in corporate wealth.

    "Born in Tuscany in 1221, Giovanni de Fidanza came for some unknown reason to be called Bonaventura -- Good Luck. He nearly died of a childhood malady. His mother prayed to St. Francis for his revovery. Giovanni thereafter felt that he owed his life to the saint.

    "Entering the Order, he was sent to Paris to study under Alexander of Hales. In 1248 he began to teach theology in the University. In 1257, still a youth of thirty-six, he was chosen minister general of the Franciscans. He did his best to reform the laxity of the Order, but was too genial to succeed. He himself lived in ascetic simplicity.

    "When messengers came to announce that he had been made a cardinal, they found him washing dishes. A year later he died of overwork."

    "A gentle spirit who persecuted heresy?"


    August 31, 2006 - 10:14 pm
    A Franciscan teaching order founded a University at Olean NY namd for Saint Boneventure. It is known affectionately as St. Bonny's. I have known two of it's graduates for many years. They are much like Saint Bonny himself. They are a peculiar mix of reason and faith. Their dialog on religion is often disconcerting. They recognize the failures of the church and clergy but accept them as characteristic of humanity and suggest that the spiritual world is beyond all that ugliness.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 1, 2006 - 03:35 am
    Click HERE for history of St. Bonaventure at Olean, New York.


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 1, 2006 - 03:45 am
    Thomas Aquinas

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 1, 2006 - 03:59 am
    "Thomas came of lordly stock and gave up riches to win eternity.

    "His father, Count Landulf of Aquino, belonged to the German nobility, was a nephew of Barbarossa, and was among the highest figure at the Apulian court of the impious Frederick II. His mother was descended from the Norman princes of Sicily.

    "Although born in Italy, Thomas was on both sides of northern origin, essentially Teutonic. He had no Italian grace or deviltry in him but grew to heavy German proportions, with large head, broad face, and blond hair, and a quiet content in intellectual industry.

    "His friends called him 'the great dumb ox of Sicily.'

    "He was born in 1225 in his father's castle in Roccasecca, three miles from Aquino, and halfway between Naples and Rome. The abbey of Monte Cassino was nearby and there Thomas received his early schooling.

    "At fourteen he began five years of study at the University of Naples. Michael Scot was there translating Averroes into Latin. Jacob Anatoli was there translating Averroes into Hebrew. Peter of Ireland, one of Thomas' teachers, was an enthusiastic Aristotelian. The University was a hotbed of Greek, Arabic, and Hebrew influences impinging upon Christian thought.

    "Thomas' brothers took to poetry. One, Rainaldo, became a page and falconer at Frederick's court and begged Thomas to join him there. Piero delle Vigne and Frederick himself seconded the invitation. Instead of accepting, Thomas entered the Dominican Order. Soon thereafter he was sent to Paris to study theology.

    "At the outset of his journey he was kidnaped by two of his brothers at their mother's urging. He was taken to the Roccasecca castle and was kept under watch there for a year. Every means was used to shake his vocation. A story, probably a legend, tells how a pretty young woman was introduced into his chamber in the hope of seducing him back to life, and how, with a flaming brand snatched from the hearth, he drove her from the room and burned the sign of the cross into the door.

    "His firm piety won his mother to his purposes. She helped him to escape. His siter Marotra, after many talks with him, became a Benedictine nun.

    Comments, please?


    September 1, 2006 - 04:06 am
    I hope that the authors are not going to be reporting details of Aquinas's biography so much that they fail to make enough of the influence of his thought on RC, and philosophy generally.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 1, 2006 - 04:16 am
    Mallylee:-This is why we have this discussion. Throughout these five years we have all learned as much from the interchange of our participants as we have from Durant.


    September 1, 2006 - 05:43 am
    Bonaventura’s death and a discussion of the painting.

    A College

    Bonaventura and some wonderful Cezanne mountains.

    September 1, 2006 - 06:02 am
    The Platonic-Augustinian division of the Scholastics hinged on various approaches to Dualism, or what is called the Mind/Body problem. Since Aristotle doesn’t seem to directly address questions that deal with dualism, it’s hard to pin down just where he stands on the issue.

    But, Plato is a dualist. Any system that distinguishes between the mind or soul of a person and their body, ascribing properties to the mind different from those of the body is dualistic.

    Anyone who posits the mind as being free from the body qualifies as a dualist. The soul as “an independent spirit inhabiting and thwarted by the body” is right up there for dualistic definitions. If we can believe Thomas and Durant about what Aristotle said, his definition of the soul as the “substantial form” of the body, although not clear, certainly is clearer than Dualism.

    Dualism is perhaps not a current burning philosophical question. (Much current interest is in exploring consciousness by studying how the brain works using scientific apparatus. Call it philosophical neurology.)

    But, Dualism must be of great interest to religious people. If you believe in Heaven, Resurrection, or Hell, you must deal with Dualism. If it’s an empirical fact that the body decays when we die, what goes to Heaven, is resurrected, or goes to Hell? Regardless of what contemporary philosophers are doing, religion still must deal with Dualism.

    September 1, 2006 - 03:58 pm
    St. Bonny in state is a product of the Spanish school of Realism. The work was completed by Francisco Zurburan.I think it is part of a pair done for a convent. Zurburan was heavilly influenced by the work of Caravaggio and perhaps a little by Velazquez.

    The work depicting the mountains of Italy is early 14th century and probably a Giotto. Cezanne was a 19th century post impressionist.

    September 1, 2006 - 04:15 pm
    The Great Dumb Ox wrote a work called Summa Theologica. The work challnges modern students as no other.

    September 1, 2006 - 04:42 pm

    September 1, 2006 - 08:26 pm
    Geez, guys, sorry I wasn't clearer, but I know it wasn't Cezanne, it was Giotto. What I meant was that the mountains looked like those in Cezanne paintings. Here in the northwest most of the mountain ranges look like the mountains in Cezanne paintings, and I was started to see the same look done so early.

    It's got to do with the way Basalt fractures, I think. Anyway, I'm glad you clarified what I said, and I'm glad I clarified what I said.

    Justin, Did Giotto paint anywhere near where Cezanne painted? That would explain what I see as the similarities in their mountains.

    September 1, 2006 - 09:34 pm
    Cezanne was known for taking liberties with perspective resulting in flattening the image for the sake of the shapes on the painting. they were more important than the thing itself to him.

    Mont Sainte-Victoire

    another version of Mont Sante-Victoire. . . by cezanne

    He painted this mountain many times. made it famous. looks like a volcano I wonder if it is. . . claire

    September 2, 2006 - 01:02 am
    Winsum. I especially enjoyed the tinyurl pics of the quarry, and of Mont St Victoire. Thanks for posting this. Do you know if the later ones are supposed by those experienced in looking at good paintings to be better in some way than the earlier ones?

    The mountain does look like a volcano. I wonder if all conical mountans are volcanos.

    Pls excuse going off at a tangent from Durant and Aquinas

    Tooki, I can see the resemblance btween the mountain in the Giotto you posted, and those of Cezanne. It seems to me to lie in the pale large almost horizontal rock surfaces, with light reflecting off them

    September 2, 2006 - 06:20 am
    Thank you, Claire. Lovely paintings. I have marked the site where the thumbnails enlarge enormoursly in order to return and contemplate the mountains.

    Once having really looked at "Cezanne Mountains," I see them everywhere. Even in Giotto!

    Mallylee, a small digression refreshes the soul for the ardorous of pursuing the elusive St. Thomas.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 2, 2006 - 06:35 am
    Having refreshed our souls, let us listen further to what Durant tells us.

    "At Paris Thomas had Albert the Great as one of his teachers. When Albert was transferred to Cologne, Thomas followed him and continued to study with him there until 1252. At times Thomas seemed dull but Albert defended him and prophesied his greatness.

    "He returned to Paris to teach as a bachelor in theology. following in his master's steps, he began a long series of works presenting Aristotle's philosophy in Christian dress.

    "In 1259 he left Paris to teach at the studium maintained by the papal court now in Anagni, now in Orvieto, now in Viterbo.

    "At the papal court he met William of Moerbeke and asked him to make Latin translations of Aristotle directly from the Greek."

    Aristotle's philosophy in Christian dress?


    September 2, 2006 - 02:33 pm
    Giotto lived where he was painting. All his time was spent in Italy. The early period at Assisi and the later period at Padua. There is one fundemental difference between Cezanne's paintings of Mont St. Victoire and Giotto's inclusion of a mountain in his "natural" images. Giotto's maountains are figments of his imagination. He was not looking at a mountain when he skstched them in. He was standing in a church, facing a wall, painting a hand of fresco from his imagination.Cezanne. on the other hand was painting in the field while the mountain loomed in front of him. He painted "plein aire." His images of the mountain are impressions. They are similar to those of Monet in Rouen at the cathedral. He was concerned with light and air and shadow and weather and time and the effects of these things upon the mountain and its appearance. The work has some of the ingredients of Monet's "Haystacks".

    September 2, 2006 - 03:38 pm
    He is principally known for his personal use of perspectives, more than one in a single still life for example. . . claire

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 2, 2006 - 04:04 pm
    The Thomist Philosophy

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 2, 2006 - 04:24 pm
    "What is knowledge?

    "Is it a divine light infused into man by God, without which it would be impossible?

    "Thomas parts company at the very outset from Augustine, the mystics, the intuitionists -- knowledge is a natural product, derived from the external corporeal senses and the internal sense called consciousness of the self.

    "It is an extremely limited knowledge, for up to our time no scientist yet knows the essence of a fly. But within its limits knowledge is trustworthy and we need not fret over the possibility that the external world is a delusion.

    "Thomas accepts the Scholastic definition of truth as adequeto rei et intellectus -- the equivalence of the thought with the thing. Snce the intellect draws all its natural knowledge from the sense, its direct knowledge of things outside itself is limited to bodies -- to the 'sensible' or sensory world.

    "It cannot directly know the super-sensible, meta-physical world -- the minds within bodies, or God in His creation. But it may by analogy derive from sense experience an indirect knowledge of other minds, and likewise of God.

    "Of a third realm, the supernatural -- the world in which God lives -- the mind of man can have no knowledge except through divine revelation. We may by natural understanding know that God exists and is one because His existence and unity shine forth in the wonders and organization of the world. But we cannot by unaided intellect know His essence, or the Trinity.

    "Even the knowledge of the angels is limited for else they would be God."


    September 2, 2006 - 06:57 pm
    Yes, Claire. His perspective variations eventually led into cubism.

    September 2, 2006 - 07:14 pm
    Thomas limits the intellect too severely.Unless he includes the minds ability to manipulate as a sensory organ, he restricts us too much.Granted, we can not know the supernatural but we can posit such a state and examine it's ingredients in the mind accepting or rejecting such states as fact or fiction. Man is a thinking animal who can invent gods at will.

    September 2, 2006 - 08:48 pm
    Thank you, Justin, for a vivid description of imagination at work in Giotto, Cezanne, and Monet.

    September 2, 2006 - 09:12 pm
    We cannot know another’s mind or God in his creation. But the intellect can by analogy derive from sense experience indirect knowledge of other minds, and like wise of God.

    From this I get that we vaguely apprehend God and other minds, like shadows on a cave wall, I suppose. Actually these days most of us operate on a tacit assumption that we can know another’s mind, otherwise psychologists wouldn’t be able to label deviancy.

    What do you think, Robby? Aren’t you in some way a mind-knower and label assigner?

    And if we think we can know another’s mind, then I suppose we can know God too.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s possible to know another’s mind. Thus I will never know God.

    September 2, 2006 - 09:30 pm
    In Acquinas' mind is some sort of equivalency between the mind of others and his concept of God. I have the mind of another, as does Tooki. Are we two Gods? This is a strange construction. He seems to be saying we are a creation of God therefore God can be found in our minds.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 3, 2006 - 04:07 am
    I agree with Thomas that "knowledge is a natural product, derived from the external corporeal senses and the internal sense called consciousness of the self."

    The various senses - sight, sound -- are brought in and combined with the internal senses -- emotions -- and a "map" -- combination of neurons -- is made in the brain which we call "God" or whatever name we want to give it.

    Note also that I am the discussion leader for the group reading Darwin's "Origin of Species." You can see where my inclination lies.


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 3, 2006 - 04:21 am
    Durant continues to explain the Thomist Philosophy.

    "The very limitations of knowledge indicate the existence of a supernatural world. God reveals that world to us in the Scriptures.

    "Just as it would be folly for the peasant to consider the theories of a philosopher false because he cannot understand them, so it is foolish for man to reject God's revelation on the ground tht it seems at some points to contradict man's natural knowledge. We may be confident that if our knowledge were complex there would be no contradiction betwen revelation and philosophy.

    "It is wrong to say that a proposition can be false in philosophy and true in faith. All truth comes from God and is one.

    "Nevertheless it is desirable to distinguish what we understand through reason and what we believe by faith. The fields of philosophy and theology are distinct.

    "It is permissible for scholars to discuss among themselves objections to the faith but it is not expedient for simple people to hear what unbelievers have to say against the faith. Simple minds are not equiopped to answer.

    Scholars and philosophers as well as peasants must bow to the decision of the Church. We must be directed by her in all things. She is the divinely appointed repository of divine wisdom. To the pope beloongs the 'authority to decide matters of faith finally, so that they may be held by all with unshaken belief.'

    "The alternative is intellectual, moral, and social chaos."

    Are we talking about control? Like the child asking "why?" and the parent answering "it's so because I said it's so."


    September 3, 2006 - 09:33 am
    I am afraid so , Robby. It is such a pity that Aquinas has adulterated the philosophy of Aristotle with his own theological nonsense.

    It seems obvious . now, that it's theological nonsense to consider revelation to have the same status as reason. Then, wasn't it literally unthinkable to deny the reality of God/ the supernatural order of being?

    But then,"Nevertheless it is desirable to distinguish what we understand through reason and what we believe by faith. The fields of philosophy and theology are distinct. is true, for Aquinas. If theology is so limiting in its depth and reach, why is it still a respectable academic discipline? I guess this must be because theology has changed paradigms since Aquinas's day.

    September 3, 2006 - 04:24 pm
    Robby; I don't follow you..The eyes see and the brain makes a map in neurons and you call that map God ... where did I fall off the trolley tracks?

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 3, 2006 - 04:28 pm
    Justin:-The key word is perception. The world is what we say it is. Rainy days are wonderful for the farmer and miserable for the picnicker. We create in our brain our perception of God, happiness, the President of the U.S. or whatever.


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 3, 2006 - 07:40 pm

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 3, 2006 - 07:45 pm
    "The metaphysics of Thomas is a complex of difficult definitions and subtle distinctions, on which his theology is to rest.

    1 - In created things essence and existence are different.

    "Essence is that which is necessary to the conception of a thing.

    "Existence is the act of being.

    "The essence of a triangle -- that it is three straight lines enclosing a space -- is the same whether the triangle exists or is merely conceived.

    "But in God essence and existence are one. For His essence is that He is the First Cause, the underlying power (or, as Spinoza would say, sub-stantia) of all things.

    "By definition He must exist in order that anything else should be.


    September 3, 2006 - 07:49 pm
    If the world is what we say it is, the phrase, "It's true for me," is accurate. The world is thus full of various "truths," careening around, crashing into each other like bumper cars. If what you are saying is true, Robby, it's no wonder that no one gets along because every country, government, tribe, community, and indicivual speaks to the world from its own truth.

    Surely you have room in your view for the possibility of some kind of objective truth? Isn't it true that the sun comes up in the east even if I'm dyslexic and perceive it coming up in the west?

    September 3, 2006 - 11:03 pm
    Here we are at the core of religious teaching. "Scholars and philosophers as well as peasants must bow to the decisions of the church. We must be directed by her in all things." This characteristic of religion has not changed. The papacy is seen today as infallible in matters of faith. Acquinas put the Pope in charge of all things. Interestingly, guys like Warren Jeffs of FLDS assume a similar role and in this case we think he is guilty of wrong doing. We ought to have a judicial look at the papacy and some of the televangelists for the damage they do to gays and pregnant children.

    September 4, 2006 - 02:09 am
    The objective truth, Tooki,has to be a matter of probability it seems. That there will be a sunrise every morning is probably something you could lay your family's lives on, because the sun always has come up every morning, plus there is a jolly reliable explanation why it should be so.

    Just the same, the laws of science do have an authority based on their extraordinary coherence with each other.

    It's obvious to me that a religious institution is a form of social control. However, that is not all bad, because people co-operating can do a lot of good as well as a lot of bad.

    September 4, 2006 - 02:15 am
    Robby; I don't follow you..The eyes see and the brain makes a map in neurons and you call that map God ... where did I fall off the trolley tracks?

    Perhaps for Robby, as it is for me. God is a man-made concept.No more.

    However, for me, God being a man-made concept does not belittle God in any way. Existence in space-time is not necessarily the ultimate good. Neural pathways can be good or bad, that's an ethical judgement.

    Oh, and there may be a supernatural way of being, but becuase its nature is not human nature it cannot be revealed in any shape or form. If God is real, in a supernatural sense, he is an eternal mystery.

    I call myself an atheist, for social reasons, as few social situations are suited to detailed discussions of metaphysics


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 4, 2006 - 03:27 am
    "2 -- God exists in reality. He is the Being of all beings, their upholding cause. All other beings exist by analogy, by limited participation in the reality of God.

    "3 -- All created beings are both active and passive -- i.e. they act and are acted upon.

    "Also, they are a mixture of being and becoming. They possess certain qualities and may lose some of these acquire others -- water may be warmed. Thomas denotes this susceptibility to external action or internal change by the term potentis -- possibility.

    "God alone has no potentia or possibility. He cannot be acted upon, cannot change. He is actus purus, pure activity -- pure actuality. He is already everything that he can be.

    "Below God all entities can be ranged in a descending scale according to their greater 'possibility' of being acted upon and determined from without. So man is superior to woman because 'the father is the active principle while the mother is a passive and material principle. She supplies the formless matter of the body which receives its form through the formative power that is in the semen of the father.'"

    OK, gang! I know there will be comments about this!


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 4, 2006 - 04:09 am
    Here is a definition of METAPHYSICS.


    September 4, 2006 - 06:45 am
    Following are snipes of quotations from either Aquinas. or Durant on Aquinas, which illustrate the total elitism of, if not both of them, then certainly Aquinas.

    “The church is divinely appointed….” “Pope had ultimate authority.” “Below God all entities are arranged in a descending scale….” “Man is superior to women….” “Intellectual dependence upon the senses.

    “Everyman has an angel….” “Simple minds are not equipped to answer.” “folly for the peasant…he cannot understand.” “foolish for man to reject God’s revelation,” because it contradicts man’s natural knowledge.” All truth comes from God.

    Here we have the first manifestation of “The Great Chain of Being,” as invented by Thomas. Although the concept is ancient, Thomas was the first to formalize it.Link to The Great Chain of Being.

    It’s all really simple minded elitism, poorly disguised as religion. The concept of the Great Chain lasted for a long time, and is, I think, still with us. It’s the genesis of the belief in progress that so bedeviled Darwinism. (That is, the view that social progress would continue in the same manner as the eventual perfection of the species, another wrong headed Darwin idea. I hope I am not being too cryptic here.)

    To answer Mallylee’s earlier thought about why Aquinas still has influence. It’s because he invented and/or formalized the concept of the Great Chain.

    September 4, 2006 - 06:57 am
    more about "The Great Chain of Being," Read This.

    September 4, 2006 - 02:09 pm
    Very interesting, Tooki I'd never before seen all these hierarchies and symbolisms put together as a system.Seeing it all as a belief system helps me to understand the bits that I have heard about. E,.g.

    the hymn "All things bright and beautiful" that contains the non -p.c. lines " the rich man in his castle , the poor man at his gate".

    September 4, 2006 - 03:03 pm
    If I believe that I was made in the image of God, and I exist, doesn't that mean also that God exists. But if I don't believe that I was made in God's image, does that mean that he does not exist. I know I exit, but what does that really mean.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 4, 2006 - 05:18 pm
    "4 - All corporeal beings are compoed of matter and form. But here (as in Aristotle) form means not figure but inherent energizing, characterizing principle.

    "When a form or vital principle constitutes the essence of a being, it is a substantial or essential form.

    "So the rational soul -- i.e. a life giving force capable of thought -- is the substantial form of the human body and God is the substantial form of the world.

    "5 - All realities are either substance or accident. Either they are separate entities, like a stone or a man or they exist only as qualities in something else, like whiteness or density. God is pure substance as the only completely self-existent reality.

    "6 - All substances are individuals. Nothing but individuals exists except in idea. The notion that individuality is a delusion is a delusion.

    "7 - In beings composed of matter and form, the principle or source of individuation -- i.e. of the multiplicity of individuals in a species or class -- is matter. Throughout the species the form or vital principle is essentially the same. In each individual this principle uses, appropriates, gives shape to, a certain quantity and figure of matter. And this materia signata quantitate, or matter marked off by quantity, is the principle of individuation -- not of individuality but of separate identity."

    Is that clear enough?


    September 4, 2006 - 11:02 pm
    too comfusing for early morning, I'll come back after work!

    I receive this quote in the mail today:

    Whenever morality is based on theology, whenever right is made dependent on divine authority, the most immoral, unjust, infamous things can be justified and established. -Ludwig Feuerbach, philosopher (1804-1872)

    September 4, 2006 - 11:22 pm
    It's easy to think of form as what we may call 'integrated system', rather than Form in the other-worldly Platonic sense.

    For Aristotle, are 'individuals' what we may call. for instance the family of primates, or are individuals such as Mr Bush or Mr Blair?

    Both the family of primates, and Mr Bush have forms all of their own, not shared in the first place, by the family of ungulates, or in the second place by Queen Elizabeth.

    September 4, 2006 - 11:29 pm
    True , Bubble. It is pretty arrogant for any person to claim they know the mind of God, which is what revealed religion is based on----- claims to know the mind of God

    September 4, 2006 - 11:35 pm
    The "Chain of Being" describes a hierarchical structure that clearly does not exist. It is about as useful in understanding relationships between beings and things as religious dogma is in understanding the origins of life. The Chain deals with uncertainty by postulating a structure of unquestionable order. Darwin, on the other hand, postulated an hypothesis that can be tested and measured empirically and valued through probability. But the people who invented Christianity would like Darwin to go away.He challenges their "Chains."

    The "Chain" is in the natural order of things in the Middle Ages. Theologians invented a religion out of whole cloth and specified it's boundless characteristics so why not describe a hierarchy of beings and things. Voragine invented a genealogical history for the Virgin and church employed sculptors carved it into the portals of Chartres Cathedral to make it real. The theologians made it up as they went along. Acquinas is doing that and it is only the advocates of reason such as Abelard who offer any chance of holding to reality, but he was silenced as was Galileo in another century.

    September 4, 2006 - 11:39 pm
    Of course, one can know the mind of God. Why not? If one can invent a God why not invent a mind to go with it.

    September 4, 2006 - 11:42 pm
    because it is totally imprevisible, as blinded Chance is>

    September 4, 2006 - 11:57 pm
    Bubble: I ran to the dictionary but alas no "imprevisible."

    I see the mind of God not as blind chance but as what one choses to make it. Did man invent God or did he not?

    September 4, 2006 - 11:58 pm
    but Aristotle is clearer than Aquinas. Aquinas just babbles merrily along, but Aristotle says it.

    Aristotle"s Categories

    That's predicated, a logical term. That part of a proposition that is affirmed or denied about the subject. For example, in the proposition We are mortal, mortal is the predicate. (From The Cyberspace Dictionary).

    September 5, 2006 - 12:06 am
    Justin - unforseeable, unpredictable. Sorry, I am sloppy in early mornings and didn't check my vocabulary. My last-toward-morning dream was in French, lol.

    I was comparing in my mind the idea of God with the familiar image of that lady Chance (or Fortune?) and her eyes covered by a knotted cloth, both being unpredictable. Bubble

    September 5, 2006 - 12:14 am
    The Cyberspace Dictionary in the sky indicated that the word is Swedish! According to cyberspace it means what you said, Bubble. But is it really Swedish? Too much. I'm going to bed now.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 5, 2006 - 03:45 am
    As we continue this exchange of thoughts, let us keep in mind and respect the people who follow this discussion who believe that God exists and was not created by man.


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 5, 2006 - 04:08 am

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 5, 2006 - 04:16 am
    "God, not man, is the center and theme of Thomas' philosophy.

    "He writes:-'The highest knowledge we can have of God in this life is to know that He is above all that we can think concerning Him.' He rejects Anselm's ontological argument but he comes close to it in identifying God's existence with His essence. God is Being itself -- 'I am Who am.'

    "His existence, says Thomas, can be proved by natural reason.

    "1 - All motions are caused by previous motions and so on either to a Prime Mover unmoved or to an 'infinite regress' which is inconceivable.

    "2 - The series of causes likewise requirs a First Cause.

    "3 - The contingent, which may but need not be, depends upon the necessary, which must be. The possible depends upon the actual. This series drives us back to a necessary being who is pure actuality.

    "4 - Things are good, true, noble in various degrees. There must be a perfectly good, true, and noble source and norm of these imperfect virtues.

    "5 - There are thousands of evidences of order in the world. Even inanimate objects move in an orderly way. How could this be unless some intelligent power exists who created them?"

    Your comments, please?


    Éloïse De Pelteau
    September 5, 2006 - 11:36 am
    Just imagine there are less than 1/4 of 1% Jews around the world and they have occupied center stage in international affairs since Abraham with a faith that is so durable and strong in spite of persecutions and deportation. I have a lot of respect for them especially today squeezed as they are between billions of Christians and Muslims who use Israel for their war arena.


    September 5, 2006 - 01:28 pm
    Bubble: I find imprevisible in Le Robert. Qui ne peut etre prevu. Des evenements imprevisibles.

    September 5, 2006 - 01:30 pm

    September 5, 2006 - 01:48 pm
    There are forces at work in the world and universe that simply exist. There is no need to create them and certainly no requirement for a first cause. Call it the theory of uncaused motion. The planets revolve not because they were pushed by some unseen hand but rather because their weight and posture combined with gravity produces movement. The idea of an uncaused causer is semantics not logic.

    September 5, 2006 - 02:48 pm
    Justin It is the same age old argument over and over again, isn't it ? "What caused the uncaused causer ?" Or, what caused the 'Big Bang'?

    We have trouble imagining an endless series of events that has no beginning or end, except as a finite circular chain. that endlessly repeats.

    And when Evolution abolishes any evidence of repetition, the Cosmological Theorists, like the Theologians, search for a Prime Mover, and in one case call it 'The Origin' or in the other, 'God'.++ Trevor

    September 5, 2006 - 04:54 pm
    Hi Trevor; It's nice to see you in here once in a while. One should be able recognize natural events that occur because there is change in the universe not because there is some circular repeater at work. Other constructs are possible than the one proferred by Acquinas. He sees things as linear. You see them as circular. I see them as random.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 5, 2006 - 05:00 pm

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 5, 2006 - 05:10 pm
    "Thomas considers carefully the philosophical problems of psychology and his pages on these topics are amnong the best in his synthesis.

    "He begins with an organic, as against a mechanical, conception of organisms. A machine is composed of externally added parts.

    "An organism makes its own parts and moves itself by its own internal force. This internal formative power is the soul.

    "Thomas expresses the idea in Aristotelian terms. The soul is the 'substantial form' of the body -- i.e. it is the vital principle and energy that gives existence and form to an organism. 'The soul is the primary principle of our nourishment, sensation, movement, and understanding.'

    "There are three grades of soul -- the vegetative -- the power to grow. The sensitive -- the power to feel. The rational -- the power to reason. All life has the first, only animals and men have the second, only men have the third.

    "But the higher organisms, in their corporeal and individual development pass through the sges in which the lower organisms remain. 'The higher a form is in the scale of being the more intermediate forms must be passed through before the perfect form is reached' -- an administration of the nineteenth century theory of 'recapitulation' that the embryo of man passes through the stages by which the species developed.'

    Any scientists here?


    Traude S
    September 5, 2006 - 07:18 pm
    If I may, a quick comment from an occasional lurker. Indeed, JUSTIN. 'imprévisible' is, literally, unforeseeable = that which cannot be foreseen (prévu). "pré" is the prefix, vu (seen) the participle of the verb voir.
    The English "to foresee" is prédire" in French (pré-dire).

    September 5, 2006 - 08:38 pm
    according to Durant who is recapitualating Thomas, is a 19th century theory that the embryo of man passes through the stages by which the species has developed. One of the most famous ways of summing this up is “Ontology recapitulates Ontogeny,” as least that’s the way I heard it. Below are exerpts from a site which casts the whole thing into doubt.

    "Don't Believe Everything You Read:. . a website claims that W. V. Quine invented "Ontology recapitulates phylogeny," a corruption of Ernst Haeckel's "Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny."

    That is just plain wrong. There are three sayings that need distinguishing:

    1. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. 2. Ontology recapitulates philology. 3. Ontology recapitulates phylogeny.

    (1) is Haeckel's dictum. (2) is attributed by Quine to James Grier Miller and appears on p. viii of Quine's Word and Object (MIT Press, 1960). (3) is a confusion certainly not attributable to the learned and precise Quine.

    (1) is used by Quine but not in Haeckel's sense. The sense Quine has in mind is that the ontogenesis of reference (the subject matter of Word and Object, Ch. III) recapitulates the phylogenesis of reference. Thus we are not talking evolutionary biology here, we are talking philosophy of language.

    The moral to be drawn from this is encapusalted in the Latin, Caveat lector! Reader beware! That, along with Caveat emptor! (Buyer beware!) ought to be tatooed onto one's forearms for easy reference.

    Never enter a business transaction without reflecting on Caveat emptor, and never read anything, on the Web or off, without bringing Caveat lector before your mind.

    The Web is a wonderful tool, but it is also a rich source of minsinformation, disinformation, and much worse. Finding something via a Google search proves nothing. I was amazed a while back by a blogger who defended a spelling of a word by saying that it had turned up in a Google search. That is idiotic since eventually every corruption of every word and phrase will be enshrined in some dark corner of cyberspace."

    Trude, Which phrase do you favor as best capturing the flavor of Aquinas's "recapitulation theory?"

    September 5, 2006 - 10:14 pm
    Justin I believe in an evolutionary universe. The individual changes are certainly random, as you say, but the direction of evolution is one way, and thus in a certain sense, linear.

    Evolution never returns to what once was. Mammals will never evolve into Dinosaurs, but they most likely will evolve into something the universe has never known before.

    In this sense I am a linearist, not a circularist. lol.

    Sorry Robby. I must pay attention to the volume we are reading. ++ Trevor

    September 6, 2006 - 12:49 am
    Justin and 3Kings#585 and #586

    Re the All is

    1 circular

    2 linear

    3 random.

    I choose circular, because I believe every event is caused,(randomness disallows causes) and I believe that events are not finite, ( linear disallows infinite)

    September 6, 2006 - 12:57 am
    "He begins with an organic, as against a mechanical, conception of organisms. A machine is composed of externally added parts.

    "An organism makes its own parts and moves itself by its own internal force. This internal formative power is the soul.

    (Durant on Aquinas)

    This is the opposite of what Dawkins says, which is that living organisms are made as from recipes, not as from a blueprints.In cooking, the successful completion of each stage depends on the success of the preceding stages, but in engineering, all stages are previsible (thanks Bubble! )

    September 6, 2006 - 12:59 am

    September 6, 2006 - 01:19 am

    By 'random' do you mean impossible to impossible to predict, as for roulette, or do you mean that randomness is a metaphysical fact?

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 6, 2006 - 04:14 am
    Trevor, you believe in an evolutionary universe. Have you considered joining Mallylee, Bubble, and others who are carefully discussing Darwin's book, "Origin of Species?" Just click HERE.


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 6, 2006 - 04:32 am
    "Whereas Plato, Augustus, and the Franciscans thought of the soul as a prisoner within the body, and identified the man with the soul alone, Thomas boldly accepts the Aristotelian view and defines man -- each personality -- as a composite of body and soul, matter and form.

    "The soul, or life-giving form-creating inner energy is indivisibly in every part of the body. It is bound up with the body in a thousand ways. As vegetable soul it depends upon food -- as sensitive soul it depends upon sensation -- as rational soul it needs the images produced by, or compounded from, sensation.

    "Even intellectual ability and moral percpetions depend upon a body reasonably sound. A thick skin usually implies an insensitive soul.

    "Dreams, passions, mental diseases, temperament, have a physiological basis.

    "At times Thomas speaks as if body and soul were one unified reality -- the inward energy and outward form of an indivisible whole. Nevertheless it seemed obvious to him that the rational soul -- abstracting, generalizing, reasoning, charting the universe -- is an incorporeal reality. Try as we will, and despite our tendency to think of all things in material terms, we can find nothing material in consciousness. It is a reality all the world unlike anything physical or spatial. This rational soul must be classed as spiritual, as something infused into us by God. Who is the psychical force behind all physical phenomena? Only an immaterial power could form a universal idea, or leap backward and forward in time, or conceive with equal ease the great and the small.

    "The mind can be conscious of itself. But it is impossible to conceive a material entity as conscious of itself."

    This appears to me to be similar to the mind-body connection that I take in my psychological practice. Many physicians with whom I am acquainted see only the body and completely ignore the mental/emotional aspect. This topic is covered in the comparatively new discipline of "behavioral biology."

    "The life-giving form-creating inner energy is indivisibly in every part of the body." How about our genes which are present in every cell of our body?


    September 6, 2006 - 03:39 pm
    Yes, I mean randomness as in haphazzard. Yes I see it as a characteristic of ontology just as I see causality as an explanation for the appearance of events. I also mean randomness to suggest unpredictability as in a roulette wheel. However it should be pointed out that while randomness gives every number on the wheel an equal chance to appear it is that very charactristic that enables one to measure the probability of an event's occurrance in the face of uncertainty.

    September 6, 2006 - 03:52 pm
    I do not know there is a life force in us (call it a soul if you wish) but I do know that as long as the parts function we will live and if the parts become defective from wear and tear the body will cease to live. Does that mean a life force had left it. No. It simply means the body parts have ceased to function. The new Behavioral Psychology deals with a body part called emotion.

    September 6, 2006 - 11:38 pm
    Of course we all would want a part of us to live for ever, maybe as testimony that we are/were.

    September 7, 2006 - 12:33 am
    Thanks Justin. Me, I dont believe in metaphysical randomness, as I believe that every event is enmeshed in causal circumstances and causal chains back through time. Even a computer generated random number is, I believe, caused by circumstances that are neither previsible, nor explainable, at any rate by a non-physicist such as I.

    September 7, 2006 - 12:37 am
    Bubble, I think it was (is?) some Zen Buddhists who were given the mental exercise of imagining the decay of a human corpse from stage to stage until it had disappeared from view.

    Although I have not done the exercise as a timed discipline, I can surmise that it is good for emotional health, because it perhaps allows one to rejoice in the transience that is a necessary part of life. It is of course an exercise to do with dispersal of physical bits amd pieces, it's not directly about being bereaved.Although I suppose that grieving over terrible loss is not so bad when one can accept universal transience.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 7, 2006 - 03:23 am

    September 7, 2006 - 03:27 am
    I am totally indifferent to the disappearing, dying part although I would find it repugnant to think of decay. One shouldn't be aware of one's own decay? I don't believe a deceased would grieve after his ...end.

    Being bereaved I see as an egoistical reaction. It is about being sorry for ourselves about how much we will miss someone. Maybe I have a warped view. Bubble

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 7, 2006 - 03:44 am
    "The proper end of man, therefore, is in this life the acquisition of truth and in the afterlife to see this Truth in God.

    "For assuming, with Aristotle, that what man seeks is happiness, where shall he best find it? Not in bodily pleasure, not in honors, nor in wealth, nor in power, nor even in actions of moral virtue, though all of these may give delight.

    "Let us grant, too, that 'perfect disposition of the body is necessary for perfect happiness' But none of these goods can compare with the quiet, pervasive, continuing happiness of understanding. Perhaps remembering Virgil's Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas -- 'happy he who has been able to know the causes of things.' -- Thomas believes that the highest achievement and satisfaction of the soul -- the natural culmination of its peculiar rationality -- would be this -- 'that on it should be inscribed the total order of the universe and its causes.'

    "The peace that passeth understanding comes from understanding."


    September 7, 2006 - 04:05 am
    The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.

    --Allan K. Chalmers

    Fifi le Beau
    September 7, 2006 - 10:24 am
    The proper end of man, therefore, is in this life the acquisition of truth, and in the afterlife to see this truth in God.

    Thomas had a lot of time on his hands. He evidently worked tirelessly to acquire what he considered 'truth' that he could carry with him to the 'afterlife' and get an 'A' on his report.

    Twenty first century neuroscience shows that the 'soul' is simply the activity of the brain. There is no ghost in the machine, and our bodies are not made of matter and spirits. Modern neuroscience has shown there is no 'user'. The 'soul' is, in fact, the information processing activity of the brain. New imaging techniques have tied every thought and emotion to neural activity, and any change to the brain--from strokes, drugs, electricity, surgery, etc. will literally change your mind. Steven Pinker..Professor of psychology, Harvard

    Without a spirit or soul controlling the body, Thomas' work is useless and without merit.

    'happy he who has been able to know the causes of things.' -- Thomas believes that the highest achievement and satisfaction of the soul........would be this -- 'that on it should be inscribed the total order of the universe and its causes.'

    Thomas thought he had found the 'cause of things' that included the total order of the universe. He didn't use the logic of science with rational thinking, he used the occult world of spirits, the unseen and unknowable conjured up by his own imagination to prove there was an elephant in the room, and it was a sin if no one else could see it.

    If one had a stroke, they might actually see an elephant in the room sitting there quietly knitting. If you didn't see the elephant would you be sinning?

    I don't think so.


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 7, 2006 - 05:49 pm
    Fifi:-I wish you hadn't said that. Now I can't get out of my mind the image of an elephant quietly knitting.


    September 7, 2006 - 11:47 pm
    Mallylee; Clearly, an unpredictable event may be an effect resulting from a cause.As you probably know, both Becker and Mill make a strong case in support of your argument. However, it is not at all clear to me that this process of cause and effect must necessarily entail a first cause. The process could well repeat ad infinitum.

    September 7, 2006 - 11:56 pm
    FiFi: 607 is a gem.

    September 8, 2006 - 12:09 am

    Indeed it does not imply a first cause, and the web of causal circumstances goes on infinitum. Circularity, so that although my brain events are among the causes of my actions, my actions are among the causes of some other event,an event perhaps far away from me in time or space.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 8, 2006 - 05:15 am
    "Normally conscience inclines us not only to the natural virtues of justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude but also to the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity.

    "These last three constitute the distinguishing morality and glory of Christianity.

    "Faith is a moral obligation since human reason is limited. Man must believe on faith not only those dogmas of the Church that are above reason but those too that can be known through reason.

    "Since error in matters of faith may lead many to hell, tolerance should not be shown to unbelief except to avoid a greater evil. So 'the Church at times has tolerated the rites even of heresies and pagans when unbelievers were very numerous.'

    "Unbelievers should never be allowed to acquire dominion or authority over believers.

    "Tolerance may expecially be shown to Jews since their rites prefigured those of Christianity and so 'bear witness to the faith.' Unbaptized Jews should never be forced to accept Christianity. But heretics -- those who have abandoned faith in the doctrine of the Church -- may properly be coerced. No one should be considered a heretic unless he persists in his error after it has been pointed out to him by ecclesiastical authority.

    "Those who abjure their heresy may be admited penance and even restored to their former dignities. If, however, they relapse into heresy 'they are admitted to penance but are not desivered from the pain of death.'"


    September 8, 2006 - 06:42 am
    but hopefully germane.

    This week's issue of "Newsweek" magazine, September 11, 2006, contains an article of interest. (The issue's lead article is, "The New First Grade.") The article of interest is, "The New Naysayers." Its theme is that "In the midst of religious revival, three scholars argue that atheism is smarter."

    It cites Aquinas as authority for the belief that souls in heaven will get a view of hell, where unbelievers are burning, for their enjoyment.

    On another topic: it would be helpful if, when citing sources, participants gave full names, or at least initials. Who, pray tell, are Becker and Mills? Thank you.

    September 8, 2006 - 01:35 pm
    H.P. Becker and John Stewart Mill are philosphers of the eighteenth century. Sorry about that. Mill's thinking of course, was greatly influential in the formation of the American constitution.

    September 8, 2006 - 08:43 pm
    Although Robbie passed by this little gem, I have a few comments about it, mainly because it is the only Thomasian concept I relate to.

    Actually, I relate to the beatific vision because I was a beatnik back in the 50s. I had no idea then where the idea of blissed out beatific experiences came from, except “On the Road,” by Jack Kerouac. It was exciting to be a beatnik, wear all those black clothes, stay stoned all the time (or at least appear to be stoned), and have a snotty look on one’s face.

    The lifestyle portrayed in “On the Road”, Ginsburg’s poem, “Howl, and other work by members of the group was the value of a search for significant experiences. This significance was never quite made clear. Criticism of the contemporary social milieu was important and abundant. The word Beat, according to Catholic-born Kerouac, is a religious word, related to Aquinas’s beatific vision. Though Kerouac and the others never made it completely clear, the Beat lifestyle did require a religious-like devotion or practice. What was sought were “intense experiences and beatific illuminations,” as discussed by Aquinas.

    What I liked most about being a Beatnik was the intense rebelliousness against 1950s conventions. Such things as having many babies, baking lots of bread, and living in the suburbs didn’t appeal to me.

    Fifi le Beau
    September 8, 2006 - 10:04 pm
    Tooki, I hope you found your bliss. Your story reminded me of the Caliph we read about in Age of Faith. He stated that he had everything any man could wish for in life, wealth, women, food, palaces, but he had only known a few moments of real happiness during his long life.

    After reading Robby's last posting on Thomas, it was such a downer that maybe we should all join Tooki and get blissed.


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 9, 2006 - 04:48 am

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 9, 2006 - 04:57 am
    Durant continues to describe the Thomist philosophy.

    "Social organization is a tool that man developed as a substitute for physiological organs of acquisition and defense.

    "Society and the state exist for the individual, not he for them. Sovereignty comes from God but is vested in the people. The people, however, are too numerous, scattered, fickle, and uninformed to exercise this sovereigh power directly or wisely. Hence they delegate their soevereignty to a prince or other leader.

    "This grant of power by the people is always revocable and 'the prince holds the power of legislating only so far as he represents the will of the people.'

    "The sovereign power of the people may be delegated to many, to a few, or to one.

    "Democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy may all be good if the laws are good and well administered. In general a constitutional monarchy is best, as giving unity, continuity, and stability. 'A multitude,' as Homer said, 'is better governed by one than by several.' The prince or king, however, should be chosen by the people from any free rank of the population. If the monarch becomes a tyrant, he should be overthrown by the orderly action of the people.

    "He must always remain the servant, not the master, of the law."

    Despite the temptation, please refrain from mentioning current political figures.


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 9, 2006 - 05:50 am
    Here are some definitions of SOCIAL ORGANIZATION.

    And definitions of SOVEREIGN.


    September 9, 2006 - 10:07 am
    Aquinas is proposing a “social contract” theory not too far removed from those of T. Hobbes, J. Locke, J. J. Rousseau and John Rawls, whose theoretical versions differ from each other. However, I believe they had in common the right of the people to “delegate their sovereignty to a prince or other leader,” as Aquinas puts it. Relinquishing certain individual rights allows for the creation of the legitimate state. In return the people are given (or supposed to be given) the stability of an effective social organization. This effective social organization is called government.

    Belief in the Social Contract is just that: a belief in a theoretical position on government. One is free to reject the idea of a “social contract” existing between those who are governed and the governors.

    Aquinas joins other thinkers in supporting constitutional monarchy. His comments about the merits of the leader, who must always remain the servant, not the master of the law, are germane to today’s happenings.

    His support of Aristotle’s view that “when everybody owns everything, nobody takes care of anything,” while admirable, is not surprising. Aristotle apparently never said anything that Thomas did not twist into something he could support.

    September 9, 2006 - 12:56 pm
    Dogmas of the church are always said to be "above" reason never unreasonable or even beyond reason.

    Fifi le Beau
    September 9, 2006 - 03:16 pm
    Sovereignty comes from God but is vested in the people. The people, however, are too numerous, scattered, fickle, and uninformed to exercise this sovereign power directly or wisely. Hence they delegate their sovereignty to a prince or other leader.

    Sovereignty comes from the man who has the biggest weapon and is willing to kill and pillage until he either dies or is crowned sovereign. History tells us he will murder his father, mother, brother, child, sister, or any other mortal who stands in his way.

    Sovereignty definition.....Supreme power....freedom from external control....autonomy....

    Give up our sovereignty to a politician, I don't think so. We may 'lend' power to work on our behalf through voting, for a limited time. Those who we 'lend' power are not autonomous, or free from external control. All can be recalled, voted out, or impeached. Most could probably be easily indicted with a good U.S. attorney.

    In general a constitutional monarchy is best, as giving unity, continuity, and stability.

    Why would any country choose to support a King or Queen and their entire family which after a time could become enormous and expensive, just to have a figurehead? They are parasites, and I could never support a monarchy.

    Thomas is an elitist who has disparaged the people as incompetent, women as irrelevant, and has spent his life of leisure in the cocoon of the church writing away against most of humanity. His contempt shows in his words.


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 9, 2006 - 03:26 pm
    "Thomas did not rise above his time on the question of slavery.

    "Sophists, Stoics, and Roman legists had taught that by 'nature' all men are free. The Church Fathers had agreed and had explained slavery, like property, as a result of the sinfulness acquired by man through Adam's Fall.

    "Aristotle, friend of the mighty, had justified slavery as produced by the natural inequality of men. Thomas tried to reconcile these views.

    "In the state of innocence there was no slavery. But since the Fall it has been found useful to subject simple men to wise men. Those who have strong bodies but weak minds are intended by nature to be bondmen.

    "The slave, however, belongs to his master only in body, not in soul. The slave is not obligated to give sexual intercourse to the master. All the precepts of Christian morality must be applied in the treatment of the slave."

    And has that been done over the centuries?


    September 9, 2006 - 08:59 pm
    lives at the time that they were alive? They may have been read by some elite at the time, but did any of these men have any real impact on what was happening? I know that their philosphies were used by later educated persons - especially in the American revolution and the forming of our gov't, but we're centuries before that happening, so why should we think that anything they are saying would have been implemented in any way, whether having to do w/ gov't or slavery or decisions about whether there is or is not a soul.........jean

    September 9, 2006 - 11:50 pm
    What is Roman Catholicism (and the "Church")? It is a living thing and its form is shaped by people like Bernard, Augustine, Jerome, Clement, Acquinas, Torquemada, Jean Paul, Pious 12th, Gregory, etc... I know they say it is a fixed entity but it is not. It changes whenever a strong personality comes along and either redefines by explaining what seems fixed or introduces new ideas into the mix. After a few generations what was seen as new is now part of the fix.

    September 10, 2006 - 12:01 am
    Jean: I am certain that great masses of people are either not intrested or the material of philosophers is too complex for them to grasp. The same is true for mathematics, physics, economics, law etc. However, these same masses of people are more than willing to accept the views of a shaman about complex issues rather than a voice of reason.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 10, 2006 - 04:14 am
    Throughout our reading of Durant we have come across what were called philosopher-kings or philosopher-emperors -- leaders who were interested in poetry or music or education in one form or another. I was wondering if in the past century or so our Western civilization has had any leaders of that ilk.


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 10, 2006 - 04:16 am

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 10, 2006 - 04:21 am
    "As economic and political problems are ultimately moral, it seems just to Thomas that religion should be ranked above politics and industry and that the state should submit, in matters of morals, to supervision and guidance by the Church.

    "Authority is nobler, the higher its end. The kings of the earth, guiding men to earhly bliss, should be subject to the pope who guides men to everlasting happiness.

    "The state should remain supreme in secular affairs. But even in such matters the pope has the right to intervene if rulers volate the rules of morality or do avoidable injury to their peoples.

    "So the pope may punish a bad king or absolve subjects from their oath of allegiance. Moreover, the state must protect religion, support the Church, and enforce her decrees."


    September 10, 2006 - 04:33 am
    Aquinas is a real medieval thinker, Thank God for the Enlightenment!

    I don't think that is an oxymoron. If God is not to be stifled in ancient theocracies God has to be mobile

    September 10, 2006 - 08:02 am
    Western civilization creative rulers should include those kings. emperors and nobles who in the 17th and 18th centuries were musicians. They supported the work of Bach, Mozart, and others by commissioning pieces to play themselves. Am I correct that the "Goldberg Variations" is one of them?

    To prove that the concept of "The Philosopher Kings" endures, I offer THIS.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 10, 2006 - 04:09 pm
    The Reception of Thomism

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 10, 2006 - 04:18 pm
    "It was received by most of his contemporaries as a monstrous accumulation of pagan reasonings fatal to the Christian faith.

    "The Franciscans, who sought God by Augustine's mystic road of love, were shocked by Thomas' 'intellectualism,' his exaltation of intellect above will, of understanding above love.

    "Many wondered how so coldly negative and remote a God as Actus Purus of the Summa could be prayed to. How Jesus could be part of such an abstrction -- what St. Francis would have said of -- or to -- such a God.

    "To make body and soul one unity seemed to put out of court the incorruptible immortality of the soul. To make matter and form one unity was, despite Thomas' denials, to fall into the Averroistic theory of the eternity of the world. To make matter, not form, the principle of individuation seemed to leave the soul undifferentiated, and to fall into the Averroistic theory of the unity and impersonal immortality of the soul.

    "Worst of all, the triumph of Aristotle over Augustine in the Thomist philosophy seemed to the Franciscans the victory of paganism over Christianity.

    "Were there not already, in the University of Paris, teachers and stuents who put Aristotle above the Gospels?


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 10, 2006 - 04:19 pm
    The Successors

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 10, 2006 - 04:23 pm
    "The historian always oversimplifies and hastily selects a manageable minority of facts and faces out of a crowd of souls and events whose multitudinous complexity he can never quite embrace or comprehend.

    "We must not think of Scholasticism as an abstraction purged of a thousand individual peculiarities but as a lazy name for the hundreds of conflicting philosophical and theological theories taught in the medieval schools from Anselm in the eleventh century to Occam in the fourteenth.

    "The historian is miserably subject to the brevity of time and human patience and must dishonor with a line men who were immortal for a day but now lie hidden between the peaks of history."

    Now do you all feel sorry for Durant?


    September 10, 2006 - 04:29 pm
    I don't know that I feel sorry for him....

    I truly admire that last statement about 'the historian'. Well said.


    September 10, 2006 - 06:08 pm
    Even those of us in the history classroom sympathize w/ the frustration of never enough time and having to decide what content gets the honor of the time and what fascinating persons or events get left out. Putting in or leaving out makes each semester a different experience and the discussion and interests of the students often make the determination of what the professor brings to the classroom.

    It saddens me every semester that more of the "humanities" - especially music - cannot be included in the survey classes, but i always get some in somewhere, particularly in American History, but it's never enough.

    It gets more frustrating the more resources we have available - the internet has me almost doing eenie, meenie, minee, mo......LOL. .........jean

    September 10, 2006 - 08:59 pm
    Jean - I agree entirely with your thoughts on the absence of "humanities" in the classroom these days. I believe today's students miss out on lessons that would be invaluable to them for the rest of their lives.

    I am sure it must be frustrating from a teacher's point of view.

    My (tongue in cheek) remark about not "feeling sorry for Durant" had more to do with how much longer The Story of Civilization would have been, if he had even more time to spend on it. I can well imagine he and all Historians are at a loss to pick and choose what, and who....and how much to tell. I feel sure that Durant usually made the right choice, and knew just how much to say. I have nothing but admiration for the way he said it.


    September 10, 2006 - 09:07 pm
    Count Kaiserling asked Bach to compose some variations on the harpsichord for use by Bach's pupil, Goldberg, who was employed by the Count. For reason's not clear to me the work sounds better when performed on an antigue harpsichord. I heard it a year ago by our local Baroque group on a modern harpsichord and enjoyed the work thoroughlly. The harpsichordist tried to explain the difference to me but she lost me in a discussion of triads and limits of the register. .

    September 10, 2006 - 09:43 pm
    Every semester I wrestled with the question of what to include and what to leave out. Sometimes I did not make the choice until I was right on top of it and had a feel for the class. But in the main I reasoned that the students were paying to get my view of what was worth carrying away and so I freely prepared making selections based on relevancy and significance.

    September 10, 2006 - 09:57 pm
    In my judgement Durant is performing extremely well. The Story is a survey in depth which is probably a contradiction of terms. His selections always seem relevant and his presentations come with surprising depth.

    September 11, 2006 - 02:35 am
    Robby,Re: the way Durants select what to write about ------here is a short summary of historiography

    According to this short summary, it would seem that Durants are writers of narrative history. Perhaps Durants were aiming at the middle class popular market, and this coloured Durants' selections of material

    Because history is such a broad subject, organization is vital. While several writers, such as H.G. Wells and Will and Ariel Durant, have written universal histories, most historians specialize. from Wikipedia this website is about the historiographical intentions of Durants

    September 11, 2006 - 02:56 am

    I agree, and also, since I see that you are interested in geography, I wonder if you agree that it's a pity that some man or woman who was immortal not only for a day, but also in one tiny part of the world, is long forgotten.

    The forgotten casualties of war,of disease, of civil unrest or of famine. All these must owe much to the geography of the regions where a woman or a man had their day

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 11, 2006 - 04:13 am
    Please note the change in the GREEN quotes in the Heading showing us the section we are now entering.


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 11, 2006 - 04:14 am
    The Magical Environment

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 11, 2006 - 04:26 am
    "The Romans at their Imperial height had valued applied science but had almost forgotten the pure science of the Greeks.

    "Already in the Natural History of the elder Pliny we find supposedly medieval superstitions on every other page.

    "The indifference of the Romans co-operated with that of the Christians to almost dry up the stream of science long before the barbarian invasions littered the routes of cultural transmission with the debris of a ruined society. What remained of Greek science in Europe was buried in the libraries of Constantinople and that remnant suffered in the sack of 1204.

    "Greek science migrated through Syria into Islam in the ninth century and stirred Moslem thought to one of the most remarkable cultural awakenings in history while Christian Europe struggled to lift itself out of barbarism and superstition.

    "Science and philosophy in the medieval West had to grow up in such an atmosphere of myth, legend, miracle, omens, demons, prodigies, magic, astrology, divination, and sorcery as comes only in ages of chaos and fear. All these had existed in the pagan world and exist today but tempered by a civilizazed humor and enlightenment. They were strong in the Semitic world and triumphed after Averroes and Maimonides.

    "In Western Europe, from the sixth to the eleventh century, they broke the dikes of culture and overwhelmed the medieval mind in an ocean of occultism and credulity.

    "The greatest, most lerned men shared in this credulity. Augustine thought that the pagan gods still existd as demons and that fauns and satyrs were real. Abelard thought that demons can work magic through their intimate acquaintance with the secrets of nature. Alfonso the Wise accepted magic and sanctioned divination by the stars.

    "How, then should lesser men doubt?"

    Any similarity to the divisions in thought and belief today?


    September 11, 2006 - 05:56 am
    Contemporary "historians" rely on evidence from other fields, eg., anthropology, archeology, etc., to buttress their opinions. I think this is a healthy merging of fields compared to the over specialization of the last half century. For example, Easter Island history is no longer a big mystery because other disciplines have shown that it was an ecological disaster that finished it off, not something unexplained.

    Another trend, although in the opposite direction, is the minute examination of local records to understand what actually happened. Eg., the "Doomsday Book" is popular not only for genealogy, but to demonstrate the Normans' dispersion of estates to the conquerors and the subsequent havoc this played with the Saxon landed gentry. Eg., Saxon widows lost all their hard won rights.

    September 11, 2006 - 08:26 am
    From Durant:

    "Greek science migrated through Syria into Islam in the ninth century and stirred Moslem thought to one of the most remarkable cultural awakenings in history while Christian Europe struggled to lift itself out of barbarism and superstition."

    It would appear that the situation is quite the opposite today. Why was "Moslem thought," as Durant called it, so receptive to cultural awakening then, and so narrow and doctrinaire now?


    September 11, 2006 - 01:51 pm
    Was the decline of Islamic thought perhpas due to the long decay of the Ottoman empire?

    September 11, 2006 - 02:29 pm
    Tooki#647 Yes.

    September 11, 2006 - 02:36 pm
    Any similarity to the divisions in thought and belief today?


    How about this? THEN in the Christian west there were beliefs in occult and supernatural beings, and in states of being that were apart from the material world.

    NOW, there is a violent resurgence , perhaps a violent death-throe, of medieval Islam where there are also beliefs in an occult and supernatural order of being

    September 11, 2006 - 02:51 pm

    My thoughts are similar. The Christian West had to go through a "Reformation" to reject much (but not all) of the superstition of the past. Islam has not experienced anything like a reformation.

    Your reference to a possible death-throe in Islam is a tempting concept. Is this possibly what Islam has to go through before an Islamic "Martin Luther" stands up for the silent majority and metaphorically nails his thesis to to the door of a mosque?


    September 11, 2006 - 04:47 pm
    Begin with the astrological beliefs of a former President and his wife that coincided with his plans and thoughts for a star gate defense of the country.

    Let me mention the many computer engineers and technicians working at Intel out here in Portland who believe in the existence of angels. Many stores here cater to all things angelic; nothing else but angel stuff.

    I myself own a garage sale bonanza: a 23 volume illustrated encyclopedia of “Man, Myth and Magic: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Supernatural.” I consult this encyclopedia whenever I need the wherewithal to cast a spell. It’s where I learned how to forecast by reading the entrails of chickens.

    I think Zeus had it right, saying at the beginning of the “Odyssey,” “How foolish men are! How unjustly they blame the Gods! It is their lot to suffer, but because of their own folly they bring upon themselves sufferings over and above what is fated for them. And then they blame the Gods.” (H.F. F. Kitto translation)

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 11, 2006 - 05:12 pm
    Hi, Rich!! Where have you been?


    September 11, 2006 - 05:17 pm
    Hi, Robby

    I've been here. The postings have been so thoughtful of late that, for me, it's just best to stand back and learn.


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 11, 2006 - 05:21 pm
    Rich:-I guess we're just going to have to "dumb" ourselves down so as not to lose you again.


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 12, 2006 - 03:17 am
    "A multitude of mysterious and supernatural beings had descended into Christianity from pagan antiquity and were still coming into it from Germany, Scandinavia, and Ireland as trolls, elves, giants, fairies, goblins, gnomes, ogres, banshees, mysterious dragons, blood sucking vampires and new superstitions were always entering Europe from the East.

    "Dead men walked the air as ghosts. Men who had sold themselvfes to the Devil roamed woods and fields as werewolves. The souls of children dead before baptism haunted the mnarshes as will-o'-the-wisps. When St. Edmund Rich saw a flight of black crows he recognized them at once as a flock of devils come to fetch the soul of a local usurer.

    "When a demon is exorcised from a man, said many a medieval story, a big black fly -- sometimes a dog -- could be seen issuying from his mouth.

    "The population of devils never declined.

    "A hundred objects -- herbs, stones, amulets, rings, gems -- were worn for their magic power to ward off devils and bring good luck.

    "The horseshoe was lucky because it had the shape of the crescent moon which had once been a goddess. Sailors, at the mercy of the elements, and peasants, subject to all the whims of earth and sky saw the supernatural at every turn and lived in a vital medium of superstitions.

    "The attribution of magic powers to certain numbers came down from Pythagoras through the Christian Fathers. Three, the number of the Trinity, was the holiest number and stood for the soul -- four represented the body -- seven, their sum, symbolized the complete man. Hence a predilection for seven -- ages of man, planets, sacraments, cardinal virtures, deadly sins.

    "A sneeze at the wrong time was a bad omen and had better be disarmed with a 'God bless you' in any case. Philters could be used to create or destroy love. Conception could be avoided by spitting thrice into the mouth of a frog or holding a jasper pebble in the hand during coitus.

    "The enlightened Agobard, Archbishop of Lyons in the ninth centry, complained that 'things of such absurdity are believed by Christians as no one ever afortime could induce the healthen to believe.'"

    Fortunately in this age of Science, people no longer believe in such things.


    September 12, 2006 - 07:16 am
    Touch wood!!!!

    September 12, 2006 - 08:03 am
    Aaarrghhhhh! It's time, me hearties, to sign up for the discussion of The Mutiny on Board H.M.S. Bounty! This book is Captain Bligh's own written account of what happened on the mutinous voyage and afterward when he and some of his crew were set adrift in shark-infested waters.

    The discussion begins officially on November 1. There's plenty of grog, salt pork, and duff aboard ship waiting for you, so sign up here:

    patwest, "---Mutiny on Board H.M.S. Bounty, The ~ William Bligh ~ Proposed for Nov. 1st" #, 11 Sep 2006 2:26 pm


    September 12, 2006 - 08:41 am
    Bubble, Keep your fingers crossed!!!!


    September 12, 2006 - 09:51 am
    ***spitting three times over my left shoulder*** T'foo-t'foo-t'foo!

    (Robby made me do it)

    September 12, 2006 - 08:41 pm
    It is thriving in the very chic Saatchi Art Gallery in London. Tracy Emin shaking off her painting demons

    The explanation is at the bottom, should you be motivated to seek one.

    September 12, 2006 - 10:21 pm
    Gematria is Kabbalah based and is still practiced in some quarters.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 13, 2006 - 03:16 am
    "Medieval medicine was in some measure a branch of theology and ritual.

    "Augustine thought that the diseases of mankind were caused by demons and Luther agreed with him. It seemed logical, therefore, to cure illness with prayer and epidemics by religious processions or building churches. so Santa Maria della Salute at Venice was raised to check a plague and the prayers of St. Gerbold, Bishop of Bayeux, cured that city of an epidemic of dysentery.

    "Good physicinans welcomed the aid of religious faith in effecting cures. They recommended prayer and the wearing of amulets.

    "As far back as Edward the Confessor we find English rulers blessing rings for the cure of cpilepsy. Kings, having been consecrated by religious touch, felt that they might cure by imposition of hands. Persons suffering from scrofula were supposed to be especially amenable to the royal touch. Hence the name 'king's evil' for that ailment.

    "St. Louis labored assiduously with such imposition and Philip of Valois is said to have 'touched' 1,500 persons at one sitting."

    Any current laying on of hands?


    September 13, 2006 - 03:28 am
    Gematria and more

    September 13, 2006 - 03:05 pm
    They are all over the religious dial.Even I have been tempted to lay my hands on some folks, especially televangelists. I am not sure I would have any effect on scrofulous but they would know my hand was upon them.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 13, 2006 - 03:14 pm
    The Mathematical Revolution

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 13, 2006 - 03:21 pm
    "The first great name in the science of this period is Leonardo Fibonacci of Pisa.

    "Sumerian mathematics, born of forgotten parentage, had descended through Babylonia to Greece. Egyptian geometry, still visible in the pyramids, had passed, perhaps through Crete and Rhodes, to Ionia and Greece.

    "Greek mathematics had gone to India in the wake of Alexander and had played a part in the Hindu development that culminated in Brahmagupta about 775. Translations were made of Hindu mathematicians, and soon afterward of Greek mathematicians into Arabic.

    "About 830 the Hindu numerals entered Eastern Islam.

    "About 1000 Gerbert brought them to France.

    "In the eleventh and twelfth centuries Greek, Arabic, and Hebrew mathematics streamed into Western Europe through Spain and Sicily and came with Italian merchants to Venice and Genoa, Amalfi and Pisa.

    "Transmission is to civilization what reproduction is to life."

    Think of the speed of transmission these days!


    September 13, 2006 - 05:42 pm
    No. But there is modern interest in defending against the evil eye, discussed in the same paragraph. Historically the best defense was to wear beads or amulets that symbolized eyes and reflected, deflected, or otherwise turned back or away the evil cast.

    All Mediterranean cultures created evil eyes for their jewelry making. In time these defensive beads became good luck talismans. Now days they serve a purely decorative function. (At least I hope so!) The Turkish market is filled with them, and the Chinese copy them. (The Chinese also create excellent Native American bead work.)

    In Mexico donkeys wear necklaces of symbolic evil eye protectors for good luck. The necklaces are made of large, primitive but gorgeous, turquoise, fired clay beads strung on a rope or heavy string. I hear camels wear them too. Anyone ever seen any on a Camel?

    I wear my “Donkey Beads” along with a Native American neck hanging with a symbolic eye and long leather dangles with bells, and a necklace I made from Turkish “eye beads.” The effect is both startling, and of course, protective.

    Some examples of evil eye protectors:

    Sorry, computer problems.

    September 13, 2006 - 08:12 pm
    More evil eye beads. (I love them.),0

    September 14, 2006 - 12:46 am
    I like the red evil eye beads Tooki

    I wonder if there is a connection between animals feeling that it's aggressive to stare at them, and the evil eye traditions

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 14, 2006 - 03:49 am
    "Mathematics in the Middle Ages had three purposes -- the service of mechanics, the keeping of business accounts, and the charting of the skies.

    "Mathematics, physics, and astronomy were closely allied and those who wrote on one of them usually contributed to the others as well.

    "Sir John of Holywood (in Yorkshire), known to the Latin world as Joannes de Sacrobosco, studied at Oxford, taught at Paris, wrote a Tractatus de sphaera -- Treatise on the Earthly Shere -- and an exposition of the new mathematics, Algorimus vulgaris -- Mathematics for the Millions. Algorimus, a corruption of the name al-Khwarizini, was the Latin term for an arithmetical system using the Hindu numerals. John credited the 'Arabs' with the invention of this system and was partly responsible for the misnomer 'Arabic numerals.'

    "Robert of Chester, about 1140, in adapting the astronomical tables of al-Battani and al-Zarqaii, brought Arabic trigonometry to England and introduced the word sinus (bay, sine) into the new science."



    September 14, 2006 - 05:44 am
    Mallylee - As you undoubtedly know, staring has many meanings among mammals, Feeling threatened (aggressive staring) is among them. Other reasons for staring might be fear, stalking, evading or avoiding danger, mating behavior and - intense interest in something. Have you ever noticed that a dog or cat will stare at something they want for a long time until their person has no doubt what they want. Of course, they also stare just before they attack. I wonder if Darwin gave passing thought to what staring means and its effect on the the development of the eye, whose design he considered so fabulous. Which came first? The desire to stare, or the rudiments of staring ability?

    September 14, 2006 - 06:03 am

    Robert of Chester (Robertus Castrensis) was an English arabist who flourished around 1150. He translated several historically important books from Arabic to Latin, by authors such as Abu Musa Jabir Ibn Hayyan and Al-Khwarizmi including:

    Liber algebrae et almucabala Al-Khwārizmī's book about algebra translated in 1145. Liber de compositione alchimiae a book about alchemy translated in 1144. In the 1140s Robert worked in Spain, where the division of the country between Muslim and Christian rulers resulted in opportunities for interchange between the different cultures. However, by the end of the decade he had returned to England. Some sources identify him with Robert of Ketton who was also active as an Arabic-Latin translator in the 1140s. (Web sources)

    The Chinese Abacus

    History of Mathematics


    September 14, 2006 - 05:50 pm
    Durant mentioned Fibonacchi (sp?) as an early mathematician. I've been trying to understand the relationship between the Fibonacchi series, the Golden rectangle om Aristotle (?) and the perfect spirals found in nature, in such things as the chambered nautilus. Any math addicts out there to help me?

    September 14, 2006 - 08:28 pm (Fibronacci Numbers) (Fibronacci Rabbits) (Golden rectangle of Aristotle)) (Chambered Nautilus)


    September 15, 2006 - 01:58 am
    Joan, I Googled'sacred geometry' and

    is one of the sites Google reveals.

    The others seem to give good explanations too, especially the one at the top of Google's list. I did not find sa ref to the Fibonacci series, but I am sure it is on one of them, as it was mentioned in a course I took some years ago, on sacred geometry.

    And, by the way, during this course, the tutor, who was a Church of Scotland minister, explained how the Bible is rich in references to numerology and astrology, for instance, how the astrological 'great year' explains Methuselah. Also how the Gospels reported the death of Jesus as an example of the ancient 'threefold death' of the old pre-Christian religion, such as was undergone by the priest-king.

    Many forms observed in nature can be related to geometry (for sound reasons of resource optimization). For example, the chambered nautilus grows at a constant rate and so forms a logarithmic spiral, and honeybees construct hexagonal cells to hold their honey. These and other correspondences are seen by believers in sacred geometry to be further proof of the cosmic significance of geometric forms.

    from Wikipedia

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 15, 2006 - 03:23 am
    The Earth and Its Life

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 15, 2006 - 03:33 am
    "The least progressive medieval science was geology.

    "The earth was the chosen home of Christ and the shell of hell and weather was the whim of God. Moslem, Jew, and Christian alike covered mineralogy with superstition and composed 'lapidaries' on the magical powers of stones.

    "Marbod, Bishop of Rennes, wrote in Latin verse a popular Liber lapidum describing the occult qualities of sixty precious stones. A saphhire held in the hand during prayer, said this erudite bishop, would secure a more favorable answer from God. An opal folded in a bay leaf rendered its holder invisible. An amethyst made him immune to intoxication. A diamond made him invincible.

    "The same eager curiosity that spawned superstitions upon the minerals of the earth sent medieval men wandering over Europe and the East and slowly enriched geography. Giraldus Cambrensis -- Gerald of Wales -- roamed over many lands and topics, mastered many tongues but not his own, accompanied Prince John to Ireland, lived there two years, toured Wales to preach the Third Crusade, and wrote four vivacious books on the two countries.

    "He weighed down his pages with bias and miracles. but lightened them with vivid accounts of persons and places and lively gossip of the trivial things that make the color of a character or an age.

    "He was sure that his works would immortalize him but he underestimated the forgetfulness of time."

    How often through the centuries that men went in search of one thing and, instead, found another -- that thing often of more value than the thing searched, e.g. Christopher Columbus.


    September 15, 2006 - 06:14 am
    seems to be the contemporary version of sacred geometry. I don’t know much about the subject except that fractals are the most beautiful spirals I have seen in nature. Here are a few sites to investigate.

    Spiril Galaxy Images

    .A clear explanation of what a fractal is.

    The Discoverer of Fractals, Mandelbrot.

    September 15, 2006 - 07:19 am
    How often through the centuries that men went in search of one thing and, instead, found another -- that thing often of more value than the thing searched, e.g. Christopher Columbus.


    The best historical sources are often of this nature. Unwitting Testimony is what Arthur Marwick calls it.

    I wonder how this applies to one's life, and to the lives of one's friends

    September 15, 2006 - 11:39 am
    The classical case of "Unwitting Testimony" is Alexander Fleming's discovery of Penicillin.


    September 15, 2006 - 08:32 pm
    Great sites, guys. I'm still looking at the links in the links. They made my question clear. I'm still confused about fractals -- I followed how they are made, but don't see why they have the properties they do, or why they are important.

    So a chambered nautilus and the Greeks don't follow the golden ratio exactly! Who knew? What about a head of cauliflower? The next time I get one, I'll have to look.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 16, 2006 - 08:20 am
    Gerald of Wales was one of thousands who in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries made a pilgrimage to the East.

    "Maps and routes were drawn to guide them and geography benefited.

    "In 1107-11 Sigurd Jorsalafare, King of Norway, sailed as a crusader with sixty ships via England, Spain, and Sicily to Palestine. After fighting Moslems at every opportunity he led his lessened band to Constantinople and thence overland through the Balkans, Germany, and Denmark to Norway. The story of this adventurous journey forms one of the great Sandndinavian sagas.

    "In 1270 Lanzarotte Malocello rediscovered the Canary Islands which had been known to antiquity.

    "About 1290 Ugolino and Vadino Vivaldo, according to an unverified tradition, set out from Genoa in two galleys to sail around Africa to India. All hands, it appears, were lost.

    "A famous hoax took the form of a letter from a mythical 'Prester John' who told of his dominions in Central Asia and gave a fantastic geography of the Orient.

    "Despite the Crusades, few Christians believed in the antipodes. St. Augustine considered it 'incredible that a people inhabits the antipodes where the sun rises when it sets with us and where men walk with their feet toward towad ours.'

    "An Irish monk, St. Fergil, had suggested about 748 the possibility of 'another world and other men under the earth.'

    "Albertus Magnus and Roger Bacon accepted the idea but it remained the daring concept of a few until Magellan circumnavigated the glove."

    And now in our day and age, there is nothing more to discover.


    September 16, 2006 - 09:00 am
    I see your tongue in your cheek Robby

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 16, 2006 - 09:06 am
    I'm a provocateur from way back. But you knew that already!!


    September 16, 2006 - 11:44 am
    Was he referring to Australia?


    September 16, 2006 - 01:09 pm
    Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans (John Lennon)

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 17, 2006 - 02:54 am
    Matter and energy

    September 17, 2006 - 03:01 am
    Mallylee, nice quote.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 17, 2006 - 03:13 am
    "Physics and chemistry did better than geology and biology. Their laws and marvels have always harmonized better than a 'Nature red in tooth and claw' with a theistic view of the world.

    "Their vitality is suggested near the outset of this period by the efforts of Oliver of Malmesbury to make an airplane. In 1065 his contraption was ready. He soared in it from a high place and was killed.

    "The science of mechanics produced in the thirteenth century a remarkable figure, a Dominican monk who anticipated several basic conceptions of Isaac Newton. Jordanus Nemorarius became the second General of the Dominican Order in 1222. That such a man could do such brilliant work in science bears witness -- if Albert and Thomas were not enough -- to the intellectual engagerness of the Preaching Friars.

    "In three mathematical treatises rivaling those of Fibonacci in courage and influence, he accepted the Hindu numerals and advanced algebra by regularly using letters instead of figures for his general formulas.

    "His Elements super demonstrationem ponderis studied the component of gravity along a trajectory and laid down a principle now known as the axiom of Jordanus -- that which can raise certain weight for a certain height can raise a weight K times heavier to a height K times less.

    "Another treatise, De ratione ponderis (perhaps by a pupil), analyzed the notion of statiscal moment -- the product of a force into its inclined plane.

    "A third treatise, inscribed to 'the school of Jordanus,' gave tentative expression to the theory of virtual displacements -- a principle developed by Leonardo da Vinci, Descartes, and John Bernouli and finally formulated by J. William Gibbs in the nineteenth century.

    "The progress of mechanics slowly affected invention. In 1271 Robert of England clearly stated the theory of the pendulum clock. In 1288 we hear of a great clock in a tower at Westminster and about the same time, of similar giants in churches on the Continent."

    Ever so slightly, the stulted brains of certain people are awakening.


    September 17, 2006 - 10:04 am
    When Louis IX send William of Rubruquis to see the Great Khan in 1253, Billy came back with excellent new information, including “… the distinction of Mongols from Tatars.” (p.993)

    European geography may have known this difference in 1145, but it seems to be forgotten, ignored, or lost these days.

    Here are some web definitions and a site describing THEM. In the Middle Ages Mongols and Tatars apparently fullfiled the function of “The Other.” That is, a scapegoat group on whom xenphobic fears could be projected.


    A collective name applied to the Turkic speaking people of Europe and Asia.

    A ferocious or violent person.

    A member of the nomadic peoples of Mongolia


    An ethnic group that originated in what is now Mongolia, Russia, and China.

    Generic term for a number of inner Asian tribes that were united by Genghis Khan.

    One of the great races of man, including the greater part of the inhabitants of China, Japan, and the interior of Asia, with branches in Northern Europe and other parts of the world.

    And to confuse the issue even more, HERE is what Marco Polo had to say about the Tartars, who sound like the Mongols.

    September 17, 2006 - 03:33 pm
    Sorry about this being out of sequence, but I just thought of it.

    D’Arcy Thompson’s 1917 book, “On Growth and Form,” may be of interest to you. Here’s a quote:

    “For the harmony of the world is made manifest in Form and Number, and the heart and soul and all poetry of Natural Philosophy are embodied in the concept of mathematical beauty.”

    A good account of the work can be found HERE. Good luck!

    And HERE is Joan's shell.

    September 17, 2006 - 05:07 pm
    Thanks, TOOKI. Much appreciated. The shell certainly shows why this form is considered the most asthetically pleasing.

    September 17, 2006 - 10:46 pm
    That axiom of Jordanus as understood by Durant was far from the the mark, and thus failed to anticipate the gravitational theories of Gallileo and Newton. A check with any educater would have disclosed the idea as mistaken. I wonder why Durant accepted such a claim +++ Trevor

    September 17, 2006 - 11:43 pm
    Interesting book Tooki. I read the Wikipedia blurb you posted, and I am reminded of David Hume's idea that causes of events are constraints as well as freedoms. For instance the shoulder joint could not have its leverage unless the ball of the humerus is constrained by the socket it sits into,

    The anatomical constraints, which we see as patterns, sometimes most beautiful regularities, are perhaps mathematical and physical constraints that cause the anatomies of living forms to be as they are.

    Do we see beauty because it's really truth that we are seeing?

    September 18, 2006 - 12:31 am
    I need to ponder on that last sencence of youra Mallylee

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 18, 2006 - 03:32 am
    The Revival of Medicine

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 18, 2006 - 03:39 am
    "Poverty always mingles myth with medicine for myth is free and science is dear.

    "The basic picture of medieval medicine is the mother with her little store of household remedies -- old women wise in herbs and plasters and magic charms -- herbalists peddling curative plants -- infallible drugs and miraculous pills -- midwives ready to sever new life from old in the ridiculous ignominy of birth -- quacks ready to cure or kill for a pittance -- monks with a heritage of monastic medicine -- nuns quietly comforting the sick with ministration or prayer -- and here and there, for those who could afford them, trained physicians practicing more or less scientific medicine.

    "Monstrous drugs and fabulous formulas flourished.

    "Just as certain stones held in the hand were by some believed to ward off conception, so even in medical Salerno some women and men ate asses' dung to promote fertility."

    How fortunate we are that the medical world is so different nowadays.


    September 18, 2006 - 10:41 am
    Funny man Robby !

    September 18, 2006 - 01:01 pm
    Trevor - Durant accepted the claim that Jordanus “anticipated basic assumptions of Newton” because it bolsters his case for “the intellectual eagerness of the Preaching Friars.” Durant has many subtle axes to grind, hasn’t he? I think he has shown partiality toward the Dominicans throughout the book.

    I am, perhaps, especially sensitive to this issue having had an aunt who was a Dominican nun, converting from the strict Northern Synod of Lutheranism. She was so adamant, conceited, and convinced of the intellectual superiority of the Dominican order that she tried to convert me to Cathalolicism during my childhood by giving me the wonderful, romantic books of Lloyd C. Douglas, like “The Robe.” My mother combated these insidious inroads on our strict Lutheranism by telling me things about my Aunt. “She only became a nun because that was the only way she could get away from the farm and get educated.”

    Since I’m not competent to further discuss Jordanus’s Axioms, I’ll give you moreLloyd C. Douglas.

    September 18, 2006 - 04:54 pm
    We know that Durant originally planned to enter the priesthood. Was he a Dominican?

    September 18, 2006 - 06:05 pm

    Jesuit, JOAN.


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 19, 2006 - 03:11 am
    "Three men stand out in this period as devotees of science -- Adelard of Bath, Albert the Great, and Roger Bacon.

    "Adelard, after studying in many Moslem countries, returned to England and wrote a long dialogue covering many sciences. It begins Platoniclly by describing Adelard's reunion with his friends.

    "He asks about the state of affairs in England. He is told that the kings make war, judges take bribes, prelates drink too much, all promises are broken, all friends are envious.

    "He accepts this as a genial summary of the natural and unchangeable condition of things and proposes to forget it. His nephew inquires what has Adelard learned among the Moslems?

    "He expresses a general preference for Arabic as against Christian science. They challenge him and his replies constitute an interesting selection from all the sciences of the age.

    "He inveighs against the bondage of tradition and authority.

    'I learned from my Arabian masters under the leading of reason. You, however, captivated by authority, follow your halter. For what else should authority be called than a halter? Those who are now counted as authorities gained their reputations by following reason, not authority. Therefore, if you want to hear anything more from me, give and take reason. Nothing is surer than reason. Nothing is falser than the senses.'

    "Though Adelard relies too confidently on deductive reasoning, he gives some interesting replies. Asked how the earth is upheld in space, he answers that the center and the bottom are the same. How far would a stone fall if dropped into a hole bored through the center of the earth to the other side? He answers 'Only to the center of the earth.' He states clearly the indestructibility of matter and argues that universal continuity makes a vacuum impossible.

    "All in all, Adelard is a brilliant proof of the awakening intellect in Christian Europe in the twelfth century.

    "He was enthusiastic about the possibilities of science and proudly calls his age -- the age of Adelard -- modernus, the climax of all history."

    Interesting, as we look back from the 21st century, that Christians learned logic and reasoning from the Moslems.


    September 19, 2006 - 09:59 am
    and therefore believe that everything - ideas, events, etc - are new, happening for the first time, and that only Europeans and Americans were always at the head of culture, science, politics, research, academics, medicine, etc.......jean

    September 19, 2006 - 03:33 pm
    “Christians learned logic and reasoning from the Moslems,” Robby says.

    I don’t think that’s quite right. Christians learned logic and reasoning from Aristotle funneled through the Moslems. Those Christian medievalists looked at everything through the lens of Christian theology.

    Logic is a field of philosophical study; reasoning, whether inductive or deductive, is not. Both are acquired tastes and suffer from periods of philosophical chicness or neglect. One does not intuitively reason in a certain way and have the eureka response: “Ah ha, I have reached my conclusions through the use of propositional logic, mixed with some deductive baking powder.”

    Logic, as a field of study, currently suffers from this lack of chicness, the same as it was when Durant was writing. Durant was doing his best to hawk the virtues of logic and reasoning, with a courteous bow to the Moslems.

    This is not the place for a chronology of Western philosophical interests over the years. But an important point is that the bridge between medieval philosophy and contemporary philosophy is philosophical theology. And while there is much interest, to say the least, in theology, it certainly isn’t philosophical in the way that the medievalists practiced it.

    It is neither logically correct nor politically correct to view the work of Abelard, Aquinas, Magnus, without reference to their heavy duty theological issues. Durant’s axe to grind in this instance, “the awakening intellect in Christian Europe,” is praiseworthy.

    Currently, philosophical issues revolve around such things as Feminist Philosophy, Environmental Ethics, and other humanistic interests centering on the relative nature of truth. However, the idea that, “It’s true for me,” says nothing about truth or falseness. One’s “personal philosophy” does not, in my opinion, qualify as a philosophical area of study. I await the reemergence of philosophical theology with interest.

    September 20, 2006 - 03:43 am
    Did Arab(Muslim) learning encompass physics and mathematics, but not physiology for the reason that it was improper in Islam to examine human likenesses?

    September 20, 2006 - 04:18 am
    I dont know where I got that idea. I have done a Google search , and all the info I see says the opposite, that medieval Islamic medicine flourished, especially by contrast with the Christianised world

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 20, 2006 - 05:44 am
    Roger Bacon, the most famous of medieval scientists was born in Somerset about 1214.

    "We know that he lived until 1292 and that in 1267 he called himself an old man. He studied at Oxford under Grosseteste and caught from the great polymath a fascination for science.

    "Already in that circle of Oxford Franciscans the English spirit of empiricism and militarianism was taking form. He went to Paris about 1240 but did not find there the stimulation that Oxford had given him. He marveled that so few Parisian professors knew any learned language besides Latin, that they gave so little time to science and so much to logical and metaphysical disputes that seemed to Bacon criminally useless for life.

    "He 'majored' in medicine and began to write a treatise on the relief of old age. To get data he visited Italy, studied Greek in Magna Graccia and there became acquainted with some works of Moslem medicine.

    "In 1251 he returned to Oxford and joined the teaching staff. He wrote in 1267 that in the preceding twenty years he had spent 'more than 2000 pounds in the purchase of secret books and instruments' and in training young men in languages and mathematicxs. He engaged Jews to teach him and his students Hebrew and to help him read the Old Testament in the original.

    "About 1253 he entered the Franciscan Order but he seems never to have become a priest."

    Any comments about this great man?


    September 20, 2006 - 11:58 am
    He seems to have great influence even today. I'm not sure from Durant's comments why.

    September 20, 2006 - 02:26 pm
    I am very interested that Durant observes that the English spirit of empiricism was evident in a thinker of the 13th centy. Today, I understand that it's still the case that Anglo-American philosophy is generally empirical, while so-called Continental philosophy retains its interest in rationalism

    September 20, 2006 - 03:55 pm
    That's interesting. It seems to me that you can't really find out much without using both inductive and deductive reasoning (I assume that is the distinction here). Even classic geometry, the most "purely" deductive system we have, rests on axioms whose truth is decided empirically. And empirical work scientific work involved deductive steps.

    September 20, 2006 - 04:03 pm
    Deductive reasoning seems to me unusually prone to what sociologists call "The Law of the Instrument".

    The law of the instrument says that if you give a small boy a hammer, he immediately discovers that everything needs pounding.

    Teach almost anyone a little deductive logic, and they immediately discover that "everything needs deducing". No one does what every parent with a small child does: teach what deducing is good for and what it isn't. One day, (maybe in another life) I might give it a try.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 20, 2006 - 04:45 pm
    "Sick of the metaphysics of the schools, Bacon gave himself with passion to mathematics, natural science, and philology.

    "We must not think of him as a lone originator, a scientific voice crying out in the scholatic wilderness. In every field he was indebted to his predecessors and his originality was the forceful summation of a long development. Alexander Neckham, Bartholomew the Englishman, Robert Grosseteste, and Adam Marsh had established a scientific tradition at Oxford.

    "Bacon inherited it and proclaimed it to the world. He acknowledged his indebtedness and gave his predecessors unmeasured praise. He recognized also his debt -- and the debt of Christendom -- to Islamic science anbd philosophy and through these to the Greeks and suggested that the 'heathen' savants of Greece and Islam had also, in their own fashion, been inspired and guided by God.

    "He had a high regard for Isaaac Israeli, Ibn Gabirol and other Hebrew thinkers and had the courage to say a good word for the Jews who lived in Palestine at the time of the crucifixion of Christ.

    "He learned avidly not only from learned men but from any man whose practical knowledge in handicraft or husbandry could augment his store."

    He "stood on the shoulders of giants."


    September 21, 2006 - 01:02 am
    Joan#712 Yes, both deductive and inductive reasoning are okay, and they are compatible too. I personally like a bit of metaphysical speculating as well.

    Big all-embracing theories are fine, but they should be regarded like scientific theories,falsifiable,and dispensible when new evidence builds up to require a new paradigm.The small boy with the hammer is all too damaging in today's world

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 21, 2006 - 03:36 am
    "Roger Bacon had little influence on his time.

    "He was remembered chiefly as a man of many marvels, a magician and conjurer. It was as such that he was presented in a play by Robert Greene 300 years after his death.

    "It is hard to say how much Francis Bacon owed to him. We can only note that the second Bacon, like the first, rejected Aristotelian logic and Scholastic method, questioned authority, custom, and other 'idols' of traditional thought, praised science, listed its expected inventions, chartered its program, stressed its practical utility, and sought financial aid for scientific research.

    "Slowly, from that sixteenth century, Roger Bacon's fame grew until he became a legend -- the supposed inventor of gunpowder -- the heroic freethinker -- the lifelong victim of religious persecution -- the great initiator of modern thought.

    "Today the pendulum returns. Iistorians point out that he had only a confused idea of experieent -- that he did little experimenting himself -- that in theology he was more orthodox than the pope -- that his pages were peppered with superstitions, magic, misquotations, false charges, and legends taken for history.

    "With all its faults and sins, his Opus maius deserves its name as a work greater than any other in all the literature of its amazing century."


    September 21, 2006 - 11:53 am
    About whom less is known than his Elizabethan namesake - Francis Bacon

    was an interesting fellow.


    Fifi le Beau
    September 21, 2006 - 12:14 pm
    This is Bacon writing on experimental science. It is difficult to read since they don't break it down in paragraphs.

    His discussion of the color spectrum in rainbows is worth the read. People believed that crystals had special power because it displayed the colors when held to light. His attempt to dispel this notion is pure common sense but as he said in his writings, it was in short supply.


    Fifi le Beau
    September 21, 2006 - 12:47 pm
    Here is Bacon on the despair over Thirteenth century learning.

    A Bacon quote, "For it is impossible that wisdom should co-exist with sin."

    Since sin is a man made invention, and religion has made almost every human activity sinful, I would think it is the complete opposite.


    September 22, 2006 - 12:52 am
    Fifi dont you think this depends on what Bacon meant by 'wisdom'? Later on he writes that the RCC is torn by deceit.

    If wisdom is knowledge of truth, and sin is a compendium of evil, then wisdom banishes sin, because truth banishes evil.

    E.g. to know all is to forgive all

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 22, 2006 - 02:58 am
    "Intermediate between science and philosophy were the reckless polymaths who sought to give order and unity to the expanding knowledge of their period, to bring science and art, industry and government, philosophy and religion, literature and history into an orderly whole that might provide a base for wisdom.

    "The thirteenth century excelled in encyclopedias and in summae that were all encompassing syntheses.

    "The outburst of scientific activity in the thirteenth century rivals the magnitude of its philosophies and the variety and splendor of a literature ranging from the troubadours to Dante. Like the great summae and The Divine Comedy, the science of this age suffered from too great certainty, from a failure to examine its assumptions, and from an indiscriminate mingling of knowledge with faith.

    "But the little bark of science, riding an occult sea, made substantial progress even in an age of faith."

    Any final comments about "Christian Science?"


    September 22, 2006 - 08:58 am
    Even if everyone knew the truth and acted upon it, wouldn't there still be evil in the world?

    September 22, 2006 - 10:20 am
    Reasons for the outburst of creative thinking in the 13th century in Europe are still being explored. Durant isn’t alone in attempts to give reasons for the metaphorical dam breaking.

    Earlier in this discussion someone questioned why, if Moslem countries were also so creative during this period, they subsequently declined. I haven’t found any discussion in Durant, except for a couple of off hand comments that the Moslem culture changed, and freedom of thought was discouraged. (Maybe the Ottoman Empire’s quietism at work?) So these two questions seem to be still floating in the vast limbo of historical ciphers.

    Is technological change and progress the single defining feature of European civilization that allowed it to surpass other great civilizations, such as China, India and the Muslim world? The exploitation of other peoples, called Colonizing, was a source of the West's riches. Its continued expansion, called Globilization is a current source of riches. While the past has been domininated by this technological creativity urge, will the future be as Western dominated?

    If so it only pushes the question back: why was (is?) the west more technically innovative that other civilizations? Maybe by the time we finish all 11 volumes we’ll know something!

    September 22, 2006 - 10:33 am
    I'm now somewhat confused, more so than usual. Is this Wisdom and Sin being talked about in the world or in people?

    September 22, 2006 - 10:38 am
    Scrawler, yes. I forgot. I meant moral evil, not earthquakes and tsunamis etc.

    I meant that if every person knew everything, including all her/his own negative emotions, then every person would be wise enough to forgive, co-operate, tolerate.

    September 22, 2006 - 10:38 am
    Tooki, as I wrote to Scrawler, re truth and evil.It's all in the works of Spinoza.

    Is technological change and progress the single defining feature of European civilization that allowed it to surpass other great civilizations, such as China, India and the Muslim world?

    I was taught that the Protestant Reformation along with the printed Bible, allowed people to think and read independently,without the hegemony of priests. This novel state of affairs enabled the European Enlightenment, with its sceptical questioning and rigorous empiricism to give rise to modern science. So to technology.

    September 23, 2006 - 04:50 am
    Did you see in NYTimes about Robby's town of origin?


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 23, 2006 - 08:41 am
    I hadn't seen that, Bubble. Thank you. According to some research the prefix "IA" is a title, e.g. count. Therefore an ancestor of mine might have been the Count of Lucca.


    September 23, 2006 - 09:48 am
    "IA" means Lord (a title?) or "of the Lord-God" . Jeremiah = Je -ram (high)-ia (Lord).

    Jonathan, Yonathan = Yo(The Lord) nathan (has given).

    Deep curtsey to you, Lord de Lucca! lol

    September 23, 2006 - 10:20 am
    we count YOU amongst the accountables we know.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 24, 2006 - 04:30 am
    Prepare yourselves, folks. We have only two sections in the book to cover and then our two-year discussion of the Age of Faith will be complete. We are about to enter "The Age of Romance" and after that will be "Dante."

    Those of you who have been lurkers, I hope that the topic of romance will bring out some of your comments.


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 24, 2006 - 04:50 am
    The change in the GREEN quotes in the Heading show you where we are now and the direction in which we are going.

    "Every age is an age of romance for men cannot live by bread alone and imagination is the staff of life.

    "Perhaps the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in Europe were slightly more romantic than most periods. Besides inheriting all the mystic creatures of Europe's faery lore, they accepted the Christian epic in all the beauty and terror of its vision.

    "They made an art and religion of love and war, they saw the Crusades, they imported a thousand tales and wonders from the East.

    "In any case they wrote the longest romances known to history.

    "The growth of wealth and leisure and laic literacy, the rise of towns and the middle class, the development of universities, the exaltation of women in religion and chivalry -- all furthered the literary flowering.

    "As schools multiplied, Cicero, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Livy, Sallust, Lucan, Seneca, Statius, Juvenal, Quintilian, Suetonius, Apuleius, Sidonius, even the ribald Marrial and Petronius, brightened with their art and exotic world many a pedagogic or monastic retreat, perhaps, here and there, some palace bower.

    "From Jerome to Alcuin to Heloise and Hildebert, Christian souls stole minutes from their Hours to chant the Aeneid's music silently.

    "The University of Orleans particularly cherixhed the classics of pagan Rome and a horrified puritan complained that it was the old gods, not Christ or Mary, that were worshiped there. The twelfth century was almost 'the Age of Ovid.' He dethroned then the Virgil whom Alcuin had made the poet laureate of Charlemagne's court, and monks and ladies and 'wandering scholars' alike read with delight the Metamorphoses, the Heroides, and the Art of Love.

    "We can forgive many a benedictine carouse to the monks who preserved these damned souls so lovingly and taught them so devotedly to the reluctant, then grateful, young."


    September 24, 2006 - 05:15 am
    The Metamorphoses and art of love were on the curriculum in Latine classes, in my convent too. The nun teacher could recite it all by rote and with gusto.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 25, 2006 - 04:16 am
    "The glory of medieval Latin was its verse.

    "Much of it was poetry in form only, for all varieties of didactic material -- history, legend, mathematics, logic, theology, medicine -- were given rhythm and rhuyme as mnemonic aids.

    "And there were epics of small moment and great length, like Walter of Chatillon's Alexandreis which seem to us now as dull as Paradise Lost.

    "There were also poetical disputations -- between body and soul, death and man, mercy and truth, rustic and cleric, man and woman, wine and water, wine and beer, rose and violet, the poor student and the well-fed priest, even between Helen and Ganymede as to the rival merits of heterosexual and homosexual love.

    "Nothing human was alien to medieval poetry."


    September 25, 2006 - 04:44 am
    Are all medieval poems epics? Aren't epics very long? If so, are any of medieval poems short to medium in length? Who is the most well known medieval poet?

    September 25, 2006 - 06:13 am
    A medieval castle being built today

    September 25, 2006 - 03:41 pm
    Epic poetry is a BIG topic. HERE is a good place to start.

    The earliest English epic poem is something called "Beowolf." The best known medieval English sort-of-epic poem is "Canterbury Tales," by G. Chaucer. I say sort-of-epic because epic poems are supposed to be very serious, and the Canterbury Tales is full of ribald stories, as is the Decammeron (sp).

    September 25, 2006 - 04:18 pm
    So I always understood, Tooki. However, having reached an age when I thought I could safely read the shocking, ribald Decameron of Boccaccio, I had a good laugh. Compared to what appears daily on prime time TV in these 'enlightened' () days, the Decameron would not so much as raise an eyebrow.


    September 25, 2006 - 08:32 pm
    I think Durant would call the Decameron and Canterbury Tales “National Mythologies,” along with other chronicles he talks about in this section. (p. 1019)

    Nations, like people, need identities to explain their place in the world, and the mythologies they construct help them know who they are. The United States has, along with many other mythologies, George and the Cherry Tree, The Alamo, Kit Carson, The Building of the Transcontinental Railroad; the list goes on and on. National mythologies affect definitions of nationalism, nationality and national culture. They tell us who we want to be and who we think we are.

    Durant mentions a number of chronicles for other countries: Historia Britonium, Gesta Francorum, Gesta Romanorum. These national mythologies furnished plots to poets and writers. I wonder if there are also “International Mythologies.” Among these I would place the Bible, along with other international religious icons such as the Koran,

    Things taught in Colleges and Universities to constitute a liberal education in the Western world, such as Greek and Roman mythology, epic poetry, and the wonders of Shakespeare are part of the Western World’s International Mythologies.

    If it weren’t for the teaching of mythologies we would have no education at all!

    September 25, 2006 - 10:10 pm
    Tooki, thank you for the information and the clickable. Your above post is interesting too.

    September 26, 2006 - 01:17 am
    “International Mythologies.” Among these I would place the Bible, along with other international religious icons such as the Koran, Tooki, the Christian myth in the bare bones of its narrative is one of the most powerful myths ever to enthrall mankind. An English literature teacher I know has to disabuse her pupils of their implicit belief in the myth before they can rise above it and see it for myth, and proceed to understand literature from other perspectives.

    I dont know about any Islamic myth, there may be a mythical narrative that explains the human condition in Islam, but the Koran looks to me to be simply a set of moral, legal and political injunctions, devoid of narrative.Even if one takes the narrative of how Muhammad encountered Gabriel, that in itself explains nothing but the provenance of the Koran

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 26, 2006 - 03:19 am
    Please keep in mind as we make comments that not everyone who lurks in this discussion considers the Bible "mythology." Each of us is certainly entitled to our beliefs but so is everyone else.


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 26, 2006 - 03:20 am
    Wine, Women, and Song

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 26, 2006 - 03:38 am
    "Our knowledge of the pagan or skeptical aspects of medieval life is naturally fragmentary.

    "The past has not transmitted itself to us impartially, except in our blood. We must all the more admire the liberality of spirit -- or the fellowship of enjoyment -- that led the monastery of Benediktbeuern (in upper Bavaria) to preserve the manuscript which reached print in 1847 as Carmina Burana (Beuern Poems) and is now our main source for the poetry of the 'wandering scholars.'

    "These were not tramps. Some were footloose monks straying from their monasteries, some were clerics out of a job, most were students en route, often by foot, between home and university, or from one university to another.

    "Many students stopped at taverns on the way, some sampled wines and women, and learned unscheduled lore. Some composed songs, sang them, sold them. Some abandoned hope of an ecclesiastical career and lived from pen to mouth by dedicating their poetic powers to bishops or lords.

    "They labored chiefly in France and western Germany but as they wrote in Latin their poems achieved an international currency. They pretended to have an organization, the Ordo vagorium, or guild of wanderers and they invented as its founder and patron saint a mythical Rabelaisian personage whom they called Golias.

    "As early as the tenth century Archbishop Walter of Sens fulminated against the scandalous 'family of Golias' and as late as 1229 a Church council condemned the 'Goliardi' for singing parodies on the most sacred songs of the litergy.

    "Said the Council of Salzburg in 1281:-'They go about in public naked. They lie in bake ovens, frequent tavers, games, harlots, earn their bread by their vices and cling with obstinacy to their sect.'"

    Your comments, please?


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 28, 2006 - 03:19 am
    The Rebirth of Drama

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 28, 2006 - 03:34 am
    "The classic drama had died before the Middle Ages began for it had degenerated into mime and farce and had been replaced by hippodrome spectacles.

    "The plays of Seneca and Hroswitha were literary exercises which apparently never reachd the stage.

    "Two lines of active continuity remained -- the mimetic rituals of agricultural festivals and the farces played by wandering minstrels and clowns in castle hall or village square.

    "But in the Middle Agees as in ancient Greece the main fountainhead of drama was in religious liturgy.

    "The Mass itself was a dramatic spectacle. The sanctuary was a sacred stage, the celebrants wore symbolic costimes, priest and acolytes engaged in dialogue and the antiphonal responses of priest and choir and of choir to choir suggested precisely that same evolution of drama from dialogue that had generated the sacred Dionysian play.

    "In the ceremonies of certain holydays the dramatic element was explicitly developed. At Christmas in some religious rites of the eleventh century men dressed as shepherds entered the church, were greeted with 'glad tidings' by a choir-boy 'angel,'and worshiped a wax or plaster babe in a manger. From an eastern door three 'kiugs' entered and were guided to the manger by a star pulled along a wire.

    "On the 28th of December certain churches represented the 'slaughter of the innocents' - boy choristers marched up nave and aisles, fell as if murdered by Herod, rose and walked up into thge sanctuary, moved the crucifix from the altar and carried it to a receptacle representing the Holy Sepulcher from which on Easter morning it was solemnly restored to the altar in token of resurrection.

    "As far back as 180 the story of Christ's Passion had been written as a Euripidean drama by Gregory Nazianzen, Patriarch of Cconsttantinople, and from that time to this the Passion Play has kept its hold uponb Christian peoples.

    "The first such play recorded as having been performed was presented by Siena about 1200. Probably there had been many such representations long before."

    The church as a theater and Mass as drama?


    September 28, 2006 - 09:05 am
    Yes, that struck me too as being very profound. But when you think about it if our lives can be dramas, why not the Mass as well!

    September 28, 2006 - 03:21 pm
    Sorry my comments about poetry are late. Back a few pages Durant discusses meter in poetry and the emergence of accent, rhythm, and rhyme. As Latin was supplanted, “rhythms became simple and short lines of iambic feet” popular.

    Iambic means verse consisting of a short syllable followed by a long one, or of an unaccented syllable followed by an accented one. Iambic pentameter is a five footed line. Shakespeare wrote in iambic pentameter. E.g., Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day. The expense of spirit in a waste of shame. When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes.

    A simple way to help determine if a line is iambic or iambic pentameter is to speak the line aloud and hear where you stress the syllables, counting with your fingers. “Say the line aloud,” is a three footed line, as is “See where you stress the syllables.” (Talk sing-song)

    Below is an Anglo-Saxon poem, one of the earliest and most popular poems in English, written by that famous poet Anonymous somewhere between 1250 and 1350. It is an ode to the Cuckoo. Although little translation is needed from the Middle English, here are a couple of aids. Nu is now; thude is loud (our contemporary thud); med is meadow; awe is ewe; verteth is breaks wind; swil is be silent. I think you can trust my spelling on this one.

    Sumer is icumen in,
    Lhude sing cuccu;
    Groweth sed and bloweth med
    And springth the wude nu.
    Sing cuccu!

    Awe bleteth after lomb,
    Lhouth after calve cu;
    Bullue sterteth, bucke verteth;
    Murie sing cuccu.
    Cuccu, cuccu.
    Wel singes thu, cuccu,
    No swik thu naver nu.Br> Sing cuccu nu! Sing cuccu!
    Sing cuccu! Sing cuccu nu!

    And then, Ezra Pound, a famous 20th century poet, (1885-1972) wrote this parody.

    . Winter is icummen in,
    Lhude sing G……..
    Raineth drop and staineth slop,
    And how the wind doth ramm!
    Sing: G……..

    Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
    An ague hath my ham.
    Freezeth river, turneth liver,
    Damn you, sing: G……..
    G……, G……., 'tis why I am, G……..,

    September 28, 2006 - 09:00 pm
    Think of the evangelical movement in the U.S. One of the great attractions of the First and SEcond Great Awakenings was that they brought drama and entertainment to the lives of people who seldom were entertained, or allowed to be dramatic or emotional, particularly in the rural areas of the country. There were huge crowds. There was music, drama, socializing, lusting, sometimes great preaching, emotion of all kinds, including people "falling out," talking in tongues, crying, being saved, etc.

    Surely some of you attended "tent meetings" in your youth. Was there a better place to meet up w/ young people of the opposite sex, very often ones you hadn't met before and you could keep meeting them for the next six nights telling your parents that your were going to "church." They were the rock concerts of the mid-century, people could get as emotional, sweaty, excited as they wanted to - all in the name of religious fervor. As close to a sexual experience as most were to come to in their teens.

    Have you seen the huge churches that are being built today? They don't look like cathedrals, they look like theaters - projection screens, sound systems, lighting of all kinds, all kinds of instruments used, dancers - very "theatrical" and all of the drama to go w/ the building........jean

    September 29, 2006 - 01:13 am
    About fiteen years ago I asked a young priest if it was true what a Humanist had said, that Christian ritual was theatre.. He endorsed this and added that the ritual arose from drama.

    So apparently this is no secret in the theology departments. I trust the seminaries teach likewise?

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 29, 2006 - 04:43 am
    Epics and Sagas

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 29, 2006 - 05:02 am
    "The secularization of literature went hand in hand with the rise of the national languages.

    "By and large, by the twelfth century, only clerics could understand Latin and writers who wished to reach a lay audience were compelled to use the vernacular tongues. As social order grew, the reading audience widened and national literatures rose to meet its demand.

    "French literature began in the eleventh century, German in the twelfth, English, Spanish and Italian in the thirteenth.

    "The natural early form of these indigenous literatures was the popular song.

    "The song was drawn out into the ballad. The ballad, by proliferation or agglutination, swelled into such minor epics as Beowulf, the Chanson de Roland, the Nibelunggenlied and the Cid.

    "The Chanson was probably put together about 1130 from ballads of the ninth or tenth century. In 4000 simple flowing iambic lines it tells the story of Roland's death at Roneesvalles.

    "Charlemagne, having 'conquered' Moorish Spain, turns back with his army toward France. The traitorous Ganelon reveals their route to the enemy and Roland volunteers to lead the dangerous rear guard. In a narrow winding gorge of the Pyrenees a horde of Basques pours down fronm the cliffs upon Roland's litle force. His friend Olivier begs him to sound his great horn as a call to Charlemagne for aid but Roland proudly refuses to ask for help.

    "He and Olivier and Archbishop Turpin lead their troops in a desperate resistance and they fight until nearly all are dead. Olivier, blinded by blood flowing from mortal wounds in his head, mistakes Roland for an enemy and strikes him. Roland's helmet is split from crown to nosepiece but saves him.

    "Roland at last blows his oliphant, blows until the blood bursts from his temples. Charlemagne hears and turns back to the rescue.

    "No translation can catch the simple but knightly dignity of the original and none but one reared to love France and honor her can feel to the full the power and sentiment of this, the national epic that every French child learns almost with its prayers."

    Your comments, please?


    September 29, 2006 - 06:53 am

    The Song of Roland

    September 29, 2006 - 06:58 am

    I'm worried about JUSTIN. Has anyone heard from him?


    September 29, 2006 - 10:32 am
    Alas, it seems to me that Roland has allowed his personal pride to stand in the way of the better good of the troop under his command and his service to Charlemagne. Such men make dashing, if dead, heroes, but d___ poor officers. As a national epic, I wonder if it is all that fine an example to place before each generation.


    September 29, 2006 - 01:29 pm
    Babi - Your point about Roland’s “personal pride standing in the way of the better good of the troop,” is well taken.

    As far as national epics go, this macho pride of national heroes, all of them men of action, in their own individuality, bravery, and general wonderfulness began with the great Achilles, sulking in his tent.

    “Divine Muse, sing of the ruinous wrath of Achilles which brought ten thousand sorrows to the Greeks, sent the souls of many brave heroes down to the world of the dead, and left their bodies to be eaten by dogs and birds, and the will of Zeus was fulfilled.”

    Oh, so many thousands of brave men slain and dishonored because of a quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles about who won the slave girl prize. The Greeks called it hubris, and Zeus usually punished it.

    September 30, 2006 - 12:54 am
    "The song was drawn out into the ballad. The ballad, by proliferation or agglutination, swelled into such minor epics as Beowulf, the Chanson de Roland, the Nibelunggenlied and the Cid.

    I think it would be marvellous if Robby would lead us through one of these!

    September 30, 2006 - 01:21 am
    I read only a little of the first stanza, BaBi, but I did wonder that , too. I guess it was all right for these people at that time to glory in warfare and heroics.

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 30, 2006 - 05:07 am
    And so nowadays we don't glory in warfare and heroics?


    September 30, 2006 - 12:59 pm
    We are proud of, and concerned for, the young men who are risking their lives daily on a battle front. And those who give their lives for others as still heroes. But I think the harshness and revelations of VietNam pretty much cured us of thinking of war as glorious. On the other hand, I am of a generation that goes back to WWII. I'm not sure how the younger generation sees war now.


    robert b. iadeluca
    September 30, 2006 - 01:10 pm
    The Troubadours

    robert b. iadeluca
    September 30, 2006 - 01:29 pm
    "At the end of the eleventh century, when we should have expected all European letters to be colored by the religious enthusiasm of the Crusades, there developed in southern France a school of lyric poetry aristocatic pagan, anticlerical, bearing the marks of Arab influence, and signalizing the triumph of woman over the chastisement laid upon her by the theory of the Fall.

    "This style of verse moved from Toulouse to Paris to London with Eleanor of Aquistaine, captured the lion heart of her son Richard I, created the minnesingers of Germany and molded the Italian dolce stil nuovo that led to Dante.

    "At the origin of the style stands Eleanor's grandfather, William IX, count of Poiton and Duke of Aquitaine.

    "This reckless blade found himself at eleven the practically independent ruler of southwestern France. He joined the First Crusade and sang its victory. But, like so many nobles in his heresy-infected lands, he had scant respect for the Church and made gay mockery of her priests.

    "An old Provencal biography describes him as 'one of the most courteous men in the world, and a great deceiver of ladies, and he was a brave knight, and had much to do with love affairs, and he knew well how to sing and make verses, and for a long time he roamed all through the land to deceive the ladies.'

    "Though married, he carried off the beautiful Viscountess of Chatellerault and lived with her in open scandal. When the bold bald bishop of Angouleme bade him end his wicked ways he replied:-'I will repudiate the viscountess as soon as your hair requires a comb.'

    "Excommunicated, he one day met the bishop of Poitiers. he said:-'Absolve me or I will kill you.' Answered the bishop, offering his neck:-'Strike.' Said William:-'I do not love you well enough to send you to paradise.'

    "The duke set a style of writing amorous poetry to noble dames. He suited the action to the word, led a short life and a merry one, and died at fifty-six.

    "He left to Eleanor his immense domain and his taste for poetry and love."

    Your thoughts about troubadors?

    Lyric poetry influenced by the Arabs?


    September 30, 2006 - 08:34 pm
    The cultures of the Goliards, Meistersingers, and Troubadours were related. They all sang songs and wrote basically lyric poetry in the 12th and 13th centuries, albeit in different parts of Europe.

    (This 12th and 13th century culture of roving singing poets came in the 14th century to mean minstrel. I suppose that’s where the United States got its word for the 19th century traveling shows of song and dance.)

    The Arabs contributed to these interrelated cultures. The site given below is a discussion of “the intercultural experience of medieval poetry.” The article speaks specifically to the Troubadours but helps in understanding the emerging European poetic scene.

    The rise of interrelated cultures in Europe at this time presents a global vista, sort of like things are now. The Goliards, Meistersingers, and Troubadours were all part of the creative frenzy that smote Europe at that time and from which it seems never to have recovered.

    Islam and Poetry

    October 1, 2006 - 01:35 am
    Troubadour, minstrel, trouvere, ambulant singer...

    \Min"strel\, n. [OE. minstrel, menestral, OF. menestrel, fr. LL. ministerialis servant, workman (cf. ministrellus harpist), fr. L. ministerium service. See {Ministry}, and cf. {Ministerial}.] In the Middle Ages, one of an order of men who subsisted by the arts of poetry and music, and sang verses to the accompaniment of a harp or other instrument; in modern times, a poet; a bard; a singer and harper; a musician. --Chaucer.

    October 1, 2006 - 05:46 am

    I dont know when the first dissenting voices were raised against the culture of the glory of war and heroics, but certainly the poets of WWI had a lot to do with changing attitudes to warfare.

    Perhaps it was politically expedient ( as it still is!) to glorify war and heroics during the times when these Heroism stories were being distributed.Since there was no such culture as Individualism then I guess that any dissent would be unexpressed.

    There is individualism now,especially in countries that have benefitted from the Enlightenment and the Romantics,not to mention the Internet, so there is popular dissent and how!

    Gandhi is interesting, as I understand that he was a hindu, so there was/is a pacifist momentum in 'hinduism'. /is a pacifist momentum in 'hinduism'.

    October 1, 2006 - 05:51 am
    The Viscountess should be so lucky!

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 1, 2006 - 11:38 am

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 1, 2006 - 11:46 am
    "The troubadour movement spread from France to southern Germany and flourished there in the golden age of the Hohenstaufen emperors.

    "The German poets were called Minnesinger, love singers, and their poetry coincided with the Minnedienst (love service) and Frauendienst (lady service) of contemporary chivalry.

    "We know over 300 of these minnesingers by name, and have a plentiful legacy of their verse. Some of them belonged to the lower nobility. Most of them were poor and depended upon imperial or ducal patronage.

    "Although they followed a strict law of rhythm and rhyme, many of them were illiterate and dictated the words and music of their Lieder. To this day the German term for poetry -- Dichtung -- means dictation.

    "Usually they let minstrels sing for them. Sometimes they themselves sang. We hear of a grat Songerkrieg, or song contest, held at the Castle Wartburg in 1207.

    "There, we are told, both Tannhauser and Wolfram von Eschembach took part.

    "For a century the minnesingers helped to raise the status of woman in Germany and the ladies of the aristocracy became the life and inspiration of a culture more refined than anything that Germany would know again until Schiller and Goethe."

    I am trying to think if we have anything like that in our culture these days.


    October 1, 2006 - 11:57 am
    We have the rap singers; do they count? I don't know their music and couldn't say whether they raise anyone's status, except possibly their own. They do represent a culture, or possibly that should be sub-culture. Not, I would think, one that could be called refined.


    October 1, 2006 - 01:20 pm
    Mallylee – The dissenting war poets of WWI were British, e.g., Brook, Owen, Sassoon. A dissenting American poet of the same time does not come easily to mind, although I suppose there were some.

    Britain took WWI as a lesson in the horrors of war because it lost most of its young males in that war. Apparently an entire generation was destroyed. The trenches that crisscrossed Europe consumed, destroyed, and mutilated mostly British troops. Eventually a reluctant United States entered the “Great War,” as it is called. But, the brunt of the fighting fell upon the British. Small wonder that England changed its attitude and “Empire” became less attractive.

    WWI affected the United State by producing Hemingway, certainly not a war or violence dissenter, Fitzgerald, a roaring 20s portrayer, and Faulkner, the first of the Southern writers. They began writing shortly after the war.

    I don’t think United State dissenters from war were a visible, viable social force until Viet man.

    P.S. The “Balfour Declaration,” in 1917, produced by England after the demise of the Ottoman Empire, promised Zionists a national home in Palestine , which of course came to pass. I think that England did not add Palestine to its Empire because it was already disillusioned about war and empire. I wonder if we could attribute that action to anti-war poems of British poets

    World War I Poetry

    The Balfour Declaration


    October 1, 2006 - 01:35 pm
    The writings of Sir Walter Scott influenced soldiers in the American Civil War especially in the south.

    October 1, 2006 - 03:22 pm
    I am trying to think if we have anything like that in our culture these days.


    A thesis that I agree with, is that the culture of Romantic Love is still quite strong. The reason for Romantic Love's revival during the industrialisation stage of the Western past, was that Romantic Love partnered the individualistic ethic that permitted young men and women to leave their traditional, rural homes and lives, usually becoming urbanised so that they could earn better money in new industries.

    The older and less able people who remained in rural areas were necessarily neglected by the workers in the new industrial centres. Mystification of Romantic Love made it a positive good when the deserting young were far more attached to their urban spouses than to their folks at home in the country.

    I dont know much about popular culture but aren't there signs that sexual love is more down to earth for young people today?

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 2, 2006 - 02:12 am
    The Romances

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 2, 2006 - 02:24 am
    "In romance the middle class had already captured the field.

    "As aristocratic troubadors and trovatori wrote delicate lyrics for the ladies of southern France and Italy, so in northern France the poets of humble birth -- known to the French as trouveres or inventors -- heightened the evenings of the middle and upper classes with poetic tales of love and war.

    "The typical compositions of the trouveres were the ballade, the lai, the chanson de geste, and the roman.

    "As social order improved and the status of women rose with the growth of wealth, war yielded to love as the major theme of the trouveres and in the twelfth century the chansons de geste were succeeded by the romans.

    "Women mounted the throne of literature and held it for centuries. The name roman meant at first any work written in that early French which, as a Roman legacy, was called roman. The romances were not called romans because they were romantic. Rather certain sentiments came to be romantic because they were found so abundantly in the French romans."

    "Women mounted the throne of literature."


    October 2, 2006 - 12:53 pm
    of this period. And women are having more and more of a voice in the lyrics of popular, r and b, rap and country music. In fact, lyrics written by women are some of the most interesting contemporary poetry and cover almost every aspect of life.......

    yes, Robby, that is a strange phrase "women mounted.......literature." Am i being too 21st century and too sexist to think only a man would have written it that way?.......jean

    October 2, 2006 - 03:43 pm
    JUSTIN still awol..... I do hope he's ok, and not ill. == Trevor

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 2, 2006 - 03:56 pm
    Let's all email him.


    October 2, 2006 - 04:08 pm
    Can someone please explain to me the difference between a ballad (ballade) and a lay<lai)? I had thought the two terms pretty much interchangeable. Unless...maybe.. one has a melody and the other is declaimed to a musical accompaniment. (That just popped up in the back of my mind.)


    October 2, 2006 - 11:48 pm
    Tooki your#770 impressed me so much I have been thinking about it since you wrote it

    October 3, 2006 - 01:42 am
    From Webster's

    bal·lad ,n.
    1. any light, simple song, esp. one of sentimental or romantic character, having two or more stanzas all sung to the same melody.
    2. a simple narrative poem of folk origin, composed in short stanzas and adapted for singing.
    3. any poem written in similar style.
    4. the music for a ballad.
    5. a sentimental or romantic popular song.

    lai ,n.
    1. (in medieval French literature)
    2. a narrative poem written in octosyllabic couplets and dealing with tales of adventure and romance.
    3. a lyric poem, often a love poem, having great metrical variety and designed to be sung to a popular melody.

    October 3, 2006 - 03:18 am
    Bubble, I too would like to be clear on what precisely, Durants mean by 'ballad'.

    When I was at my Scottish schools I was taught that '2' in the definitions you have provided was the one for the genre known as Border ballads. There was a lot more about the rhythm and length of lines, the sort of imagery,the historical/social background and the sort of content that were peculiar to Border ballads. I did wonder if the ballads that Durant referred to are similar to Border ballads.

    I think that number '1' in the medieval definitions applies to Border ballads , e.g. the end-rhyme couplets of 8 syllables

    Wordsworth copied the style of such ballads in some of his poems, as did Keats(The Lady of Shallot),and Coleridge (The Ancient Mariner) when the Romantics of that time wanted to revive simple country people's style of story telling for reasons of sincerity and frankness

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 3, 2006 - 03:24 am
    We are entering "Dante," the final chapter in this volume (prior to the epilogue.) Please note the changes in the GREEN quotes in the heading.


    robert b. iadeluca
    October 3, 2006 - 03:49 am

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 3, 2006 - 03:50 am
    The Italian Troubadours

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 3, 2006 - 03:56 am
    "It was at the Apulian court of Frederick II that Italian literature was born.

    "Perhaps the Moslems in his retinue contributed some stimulus, for every literate Moslem versified.

    "Some years before Frederick's death in 1250 Ciullo d'Alcamo wrote a pretty 'Dialogue Between Lover and Lady' and Alcamo, Sicily, was almost wholly a Moslem town.

    "But a more decisive influence came from the troubadours of Provence, who sent their poems, or came in person, to the appreciative Frederick and his cultured aides. Frederick himself not only supported poetry, he wrote it, and in Italian.

    "His prime minister, Piero delle vigne, composed escellent sonnets and may have invented that arduous form Rinaldo d'aquino (brother to St. Thhomas), living at Frederick's court."

    Culture at the highest level.


    October 3, 2006 - 09:10 am
    Mallylee, I never heard the term border-ballad. This is the reference I found:

    October 3, 2006 - 01:58 pm
    I actually found an article on the web that suggested, as did I in an earlier post about poetry, that you count on your fingers to determine meter. “Are you feeling stressed? Don’t be. It all works out in the end. Count the stressed syllables on your fingers - no one is looking.” More information about Sonnets and other poetic forms HERE.

    “There is absolutely no truth in the rumor that iambic pentameter is the scientific name for a nasty medicine.”

    Knowing something about iambics is relevant because Dante seems to be almost always translated into iambics in English. Whatever meter he used in the new Italian language that he originally wrote in, it is translated as iambics in English.

    Besides, counting iambics on your fingers and aloud is a wonderfully eccentric thing to do in parks and other public places. People gaze upon you with wonderment. (I think that’s an iambic pentameter.)

    Many of the translations used by Durant sound hopelessly dated, to my ear. Over the years I’ve noticed that most of the great epics get re-translated for every new generation.

    October 3, 2006 - 03:45 pm
    Nice sites, Bubble.

    The Border Ballads may not be any Divine Comedies, but they are full of pathos, bathos, and love. HEREis a site that gives the words to many of the old favorites. I know a few of them, but in slightly different form.

    Are you going to count on your fingers for the meter?

    October 3, 2006 - 03:50 pm
    BUBBLE &TOOKI, thanks for the information on ballads and lays.


    October 3, 2006 - 10:40 pm
    I apologize for not letting you know that I would be away for such a long time. So many of you were concerned about my well being that I think I was remiss not to have posted some notice. When old bones like mine simply stop appearing in regular haunts one must expect concern.It was insensitive of me not to give notice.Robby gives us warning and we adjust. An opportunity arose overnight to travel in New England with my daughter as companion so I packed up, bought a plane ticket to Philadelphia,and launched into a research effort to find missing ancestors, temporarily forgetting all about my friends in SOC.

    Medieval literature, when compared with that of the Renaisance, is limited but what has survived is rich. We had the pleasure of reading Beowolf here in seniornet a couple of years ago.The work, though clearly early Scandinavian, contains passages referring to Christianity.These were probably inserted in the text during translation and preservation in English monasteries in the period of the Danish incursions.

    The Romance of the Rose and the Song of Roland are both worth reading. Roland, as any French kid will tell you, was Charlemagne's rear guard hero who died fighting the Basques but the truth is he used poor judgement in not calling for help when he had the chance. Disaster in conflict situations is often brought about by folly.One can cite the Trojan horse case but Roland is also a good example. Hitler in Russia is another example as is the five or six Renaisance Popes who failed to stem the Reformation. Viet Namn and Iraq are probably the best modern examples. Now the Senate Majority leader thinks we should join forces with the Taliban to bring peace to Afghanistan. Folly is in the order of the day and it often rules our lives.

    Here in Seniornet we worked our way through Dante and Chaucer and I must say that reading these works in company with others interested in rooting out the full message in the context of the period was a great pleasure. Someday perhaps, we will read Petrarch, though he comes a little late to be read as Medieval.

    I bought the Decameron during the war in a Honolulu book store and carried it in my gas mask bag along with candy bars and cigars for those long moments when nothing untoward was occuring. While many of the guys were reading those funny little books containing intimate messages, I had a rousing good time with descriptions of the real thing, though I bet on rereading I would find the stuff pretty tame today.

    You folks managed to get in 100 or so postings on some very intresting topics while I was away and I am looking forward to reading them. Good to be back.

    October 3, 2006 - 11:36 pm

    You bought a plane ticket to Philadelphia, and I -- alone here on my little mountain in the Poconos -- didn't even know?

    Whew, JUSTIN, I'm very glad to see you! New England, you say? Next time take me along so I can check on a few of my ancestors, okay?

    (P.S. I was really, really worried about you!)


    October 4, 2006 - 03:07 am
    Glad to see you back, Justin, you were missed. Don't go missing again like that, OK? Bubble

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 4, 2006 - 04:23 am
    Regarding notifying people in SN - I once mentioned to Eloise in an email that I could die (I live alone) and no one in SN would ever know what happened to me. This upset her so I ended up giving a friend of mine here Eloise's phone number. You would then know that one of you would have to become DL for SOC.


    October 4, 2006 - 05:10 am
    Tfu-Tfu-Tfu Robby! (spitting three times over left shoulder! lol) You are destined to stay with us until you are 120!

    Actually SN address is on my list of those who will need to be notified. Bubble

    October 4, 2006 - 03:29 pm
    JUSTIN, my eyebrows went way up when I read that remark about the Senate Majority Leader saying we should enlist the Taliban to bring peace to Afghanistan. I had to go find out more about that, and found the following:

    “While touring Afghanistan, Senator Frist made the observation that Afghan tribesman should be brought into the government or risk losing them to the Taliban. Giving the native tribes often targeted by Taliban recruitment a voice in the government will promote peace and prosperity in the region. Senator Frist does not believe Taliban fighters – often foreign fighters who come to Afghanistan to further conflict – should be brought into the reconciliation process."

    Sorry to get off the subject, ROBBY. Back to it,.. JUSTIN'S observation about the tameness of the Decameron today is right on. Old Boccaccio would probably have a stroke if he saw what was piped in the average American home every evening.


    October 5, 2006 - 12:37 am
    Making a list of people to be notified is a good idea, Bubble. Certainly, the list should include SN and SOC. I will do that.

    October 5, 2006 - 05:32 pm
    BaBi: Jim Krane of the Associated Press on Tuesday reports that The US Majority Leader said Monday that the war against Taliban guerillas can never be won militarily and urged support for efforts to bring "people who call themselves Taliban" and their alllies into the government. You need to bring them into a more transparent type of government," Frist said.

    Sorry, Robby. Here I am just returned to the fold and I am committing sin already.

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 5, 2006 - 06:46 pm
    Very busy these days. Be back tomorrow or Saturday.


    October 5, 2006 - 09:02 pm
    Welcome back, Justin. So you are "sinning already", are you? Well, at least you confessed.

    Robby, are you off to chase ancestors again? Good luck! I spend half my time chasing ancestors. Finding our "past" is very rewarding.


    October 6, 2006 - 10:56 pm
    I have so few occasions when I am in accord with Pope Benedict,that when an occasion comes along, I can not pass it up. On September 12 at Regensburg, Benedict speaking about Islam and the Qur'an quotes Paleologus who is responding to a question about the relationship between religion and violence. He says, "Show me just what Mohammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.The emperor goes on to explain in detail the rerasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul."

    I don't know why Benedict quotes someone else to express a viewpoint that he could have expressed on his own but since the quote clearly expresses Benedict's view he has said some thing that is fundemental and worthy. The issue of violence in the Quran must be addressed by infidels for it is probably foolish to ignore it's influence in the Middle East peace process. Violence is part and parcel of the religious procss. It was thus in the Hebrew Scriptures as God directed violence in the Mosaic period and later as well. We tend to think of religion as a good thing but we would be much safer in the world were we to acknowledge the evil that lies in our midst and then to make an effort to control it.

    October 7, 2006 - 05:35 pm
    Well said Justin ! Your remarks are obviously true to all, except the fanatics, Christian and non Christian alike, who, as Christ said, cannot see past the beam in their own eye. ++ Trevor

    October 8, 2006 - 12:38 am
    Perhaps the Pope intended to arouse discussion about holy violence and about reason, in religion. It's good to sit up and take notice.

    As I understand the Koran, it is supposed to be God's own words, unlike the Bible which is interpretations of God's word, by various writers. Nevertheless Muslim scholars disagree about what Allah meant by several of his pronouncements to Muhammad.

    The Vatican has been instrumental in the spread of AIDS in Africa, and I dont entirely trust anything any pope says, but in this case I am interested in what Benedict said, especially his remarks about the value of Hellenistic reason in Christianity; there may be pragmatic application of the idea of the sovereignty of good.

    October 8, 2006 - 06:21 am
    I doubt thet the Pope made that comment to arouse discussion. Discussion is not something the Vatican encourages. They prefer to tell you what to think.

    The Pope did sort of apologise for making the statement. He stated that he was sorry that what he said may have offended some. He did not say that the words were not how he felt.

    Like Justin, this is one of the few times that I find myself agreeing with a Pope.


    October 8, 2006 - 06:42 am
    Yesterday's news carried a story about the Vatican considering the abolishment of the concept of Limbo (Where the souls of unbaptized babies are supposed to go).

    I suppose the next item on the agenda will be consideration of the concept that the earth may not actually be flat.


    October 8, 2006 - 07:18 am
    ...and there you will find things only evil and inhuman..???

    Paleologus or Benedict, I find this statement as false as most broad generalizations. As for the purported command of Mohammed to 'spread by the sword the faith he preached', the Qu'ran actually gave permission for the struggling new faith to defend itself as necessary. Since I had heard so many statements as to what the Qu-ran said, I read it for myself.

    "The Vatican has been instrumental in the spread of AIDS in Africa", MALLY? No, never mind. Feel free to e-mail me to tell me where that info. comes from. I don't want to help continue this here. I think we are far afield from the Durant opus.


    October 8, 2006 - 09:10 am
    BaBi I posted one ref in Science 'Environmental Issues'

    October 8, 2006 - 06:57 pm
    BaBi: It is hard to imagine Vatican representatives passing out condoms to people of varied interests in sexual activity. Abstinence is the Vatican's head in the sand advice. In my judgement such advice promotes aids.

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 9, 2006 - 05:24 am
    Back to Dante --"When Frederick's court traveled through Italy he took poets along with his menagerie and they spread their influence into Latium, Tuscany and Lombardy.

    "His son Manfred continued his patronage of poetry and wrote lyrics that Dante praised.

    "Much of this 'Sicilian' verse was translated into Tuscan and shared in forming the school of poets that culminated in Dante.

    "At the same time French troubadours, leaving a Languedoc harried by religious wars, found refuge in Ialian courts, initiated Italian poets into the gai saber, taught Italian women to welcome verse eulogies and persuaded Italian magnates to reward poetry imitation of the French troubadours so far as to write in Provencal.

    "Sordello, born ner Virgil's Mantua, offended the terrible Ezzelino, fled to Provence, and wrote, in Provencal, poems of ethereal and fleshless love."


    robert b. iadeluca
    October 9, 2006 - 04:30 pm
    Dante and Beatrice

    October 9, 2006 - 04:39 pm
    Something seems to be the matter with something. I can't post a couple of good links to Ezzelino, the Guelphs and Bhibellines, and a portrait of him.

    I'll try again when I can think in a linear manner to solve my problem. My linear thinking leaves much to be desired.

    All of this chaos must be the result of Robby and Justin's absence.

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 9, 2006 - 04:41 pm
    "In May 1265 Bella Alighieri presented to her husband, Alighiero Aligheri, a son whom they christened Durante Alighieri.

    "Probably they took no thought that the words meant long-lasting wing-bearer. Appparently the poet himself shortened his first name to Dante.

    "His family had a lengthy pedigree in Florence but had slipped into poverty. The mother died in Dante's early years.

    "Alighiero married again and Dante grew up, perhaps unhappily with a stepmother, a half brother, and two half sisters.

    "The father died when Dante was fifteen, leaving a heritage of debts.

    "Of Dante's teachers he remembered most gratefully Brunetto Latini, who, returning from France, had shortened his French encyclopedia, Tresor, into an Italian Tesoretto.

    "From him Dante learned come l'uom s'eterna -- how man immortalizes himself. Dante must have studied Virgil with especial delight. He speaks of the Mantuan's bel stilo. And what other student has so loved a classic as to follow its author through hell?

    "Boccaccio tells of Dante being at Bologna in 1287. There or elsewhere the poet picked up so much of the sorry science and miraculous philosophy of his time that his poem became top heavy with his erudition.

    "He lerned also to ride, hunt, fence, paint, and ling. How he earned his bread we do not know. In any case he was admitted to cultured circles, if only through his friendship with Cavalcanti.

    "In that circle he found many poets."


    October 9, 2006 - 05:46 pm
    I wish I had the book at hand. This statement out of context has me puzzled: "Boccaccio tells of Dante being at Bologna in 1287. There or elsewhere the poet picked up so much of the sorry science and miraculous philosophy of his time that his poem became top heavy with his erudition."

    What sorry science?


    robert b. iadeluca
    October 9, 2006 - 05:56 pm
    Rich:-I think he was referring to the "science" that the people practiced in those times which we discussed a few weeks ago and which was more superstitution than science.


    October 9, 2006 - 06:05 pm
    Robby, Thank you. I must have missed that part. Been away for a few weeks myself.

    I'll go back and get caught up.


    October 9, 2006 - 06:21 pm
    I am surprised that Durant thinks Dante's poetry "top heavy" with the sorry science and miraculous philosophy. In my judgement the sorry science and miraculous philosophy were central to the support of the theme. Had the history of Florence not been hung on a framework of Catholic superstition the tale would have been left in the dustbin of literature.

    October 9, 2006 - 08:30 pm
    were political parties in Florence. Although there are many laborious discussions of them on the web, the one below is brief and clear. It is from "Fact Monster." Dante began as a White Guelph.

    "The names were first used in 13th-century Florence to designate the supporters of Otto IV (a Guelph) and the Hohenstaufen Frederick II (a Ghibelline). The terms, however, soon lost their original significance. Among the Ghibellines were Ezzelino da Romano, Castruccio Castracani, Della Scala of Verona, the Montefeltro family of Urbino, and the Visconti family of Milan (although Milan itself was Guelph). Unlike the noble families, towns seldom had fixed party loyalties, although Milan, Florence, and Genoa were usually Guelph; Cremona, Pisa, and Arezzo were usually Ghibelline. Venice remained neutral. In Rome the Ghibellines were represented by the pope's enemies, notably the Colonna family, and by the republicans. In S Italy the terms were rarely used, although the Angevin kings of Naples were strongly Guelph. In Florence, after the Ghibellines had finally been expelled in the late 13th cent., the Guelphs soon divided into Blacks and Whites. By the 15th cent. the names fell into disuse. At no time did either party clearly represent any particular political doctrine or social class."

    October 10, 2006 - 02:52 am

    I studied the Italian language for four years of my life because I was a singer who sang Italian operatic arias, along with a lot of other things. All I can say about Dante is that when I was in college my very small class and I translated Il Paradiso from La Divina Commedia one year. That was enough Dante to last me a very long time.


    robert b. iadeluca
    October 10, 2006 - 04:20 am
    "The most famous of all love affairs began when both Dante and Beatrice were nine years old.

    "According to Boccaccio the occasion was a May Day feast in the hone of Folco Portinari, one of the leading citizens of Florence. Litle 'Bice' was Folco's daughter. That she was also Danate's Beatrice is probable, but not close enough to certainty to calm the doubts of the meticulous.

    "A lad nearing puberty is ripe for such a trembling. Most of us have known it and can look back upon 'calf love' as one of the most spiritual experiences of our youth, a mysterious awakening of body and soul to life and sex and beauty and our individual incompleteness and yet with no conscious hunger of body for body but only a shy longing to be near the beloved, to serve her, and hear her speak, and watch her modest grace.

    "Give the male soul such sensitivity as Dante's -- a man of passion and imagination -- and such a revelation and ripening might well remain a lifelong memory and stimulus.

    "He tells us how he sought opportunities to see Beatrice, if only to gaze unseen upon her. Then he seems to have lost sight of her until, nine years later, when they were eighteen."

    Puppy love, anyone?


    October 10, 2006 - 06:25 am
    HERE she is in her little golden dress.

    October 10, 2006 - 07:38 am
    Tooki, Another portrait of Beatrice from the collection you posted

    From the description of the painting:-

    The subject comes from Dante’s Vita Nuova, and shows the mystical translation of Beatrice from earth to heaven. On the right stands Dante, staring across to the Angel of Love. Beatrice sits beside a sundial on which the shadow falls on nine, the hour of her death on 9 June 1290. A red bird, the messenger of death, drops a poppy, the symbol of sleep, into her folded hands.

    Wish I knew the story.


    October 10, 2006 - 12:07 pm
    Hi Robby,

    I've been waiting for you all to catch up to where I left off reading Durant (at least five years ago). Now I see I have several hundred pages to read to catch up to you. That's what I get for not checking back more often.

    Robby, you may have noticed that I disappeared from the Darwin discussions. I am not sure whether it was more difficult or tedious than I expected. At any rate, "The Story of Civilization" is more up my alley and I am determined to finish the volumes before I pass. (Hopefully, I have a good while yet.) Please allow me to join in your conversations now and again. I can't think of a better way to take up where I left of and reach my goal.


    robert b. iadeluca
    October 10, 2006 - 05:04 pm
    Hi Margie! Yes, please join in our discussions but not "now and again." Just jump right in!


    robert b. iadeluca
    October 10, 2006 - 05:14 pm
    "So, if we may believe his account, was born his sequence of sonnets and commentaries known as La vita nuova, The New Lifre.

    "At intervals in the next nine years he composed the sonnets and later added the prose. He sent one sonnet after another to Cavalcanti who preserved them and now became his friend.

    "The whole romance is in some measure a literary artifice. The poems are spoiled for our changed taste by their fanciful deification of Love in the manner of the troubadours, by the long scholastic dissertations that interpret them and by a number mysticism of threes and nines,

    "We must discount these infections of the time.

    "Some of the prose is more pleasing than the verse:--

    'When she appeared in any place it seemed to me, by the hope of her excellent salutation, that there was no man mine enemy any longer. And such warmth of charity came upon me that most certainly in that moment I would have pardoned whosoever had done me an injury. She went along crowned and clothed with umility and when she had gone it wa said by many: 'This is not a woman but one of the beautiful angels of heaven' I say, of very sooth, that she shewed herself so very gentle that she bred in those who looked upon her a soothing quiet beyond any speech."


    October 10, 2006 - 08:20 pm
    She "appeared to me dressed in white, between two gentle (highborn) ladies elder than she." Page 1059.

    The Lady In Red

    I have no idea who painted this one.

    October 10, 2006 - 08:31 pm
    This Rossetti Beata Beatrix is Rossetti's wife. While she lived Rossetti painted some intense works with Medieval settings.Historians refer to his work as Romantic Escapism. He is the leader of a group known as the pre Raphaelites who were called thus largely because their interest was in late Medieval topics. Rossetti's full name was Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

    October 10, 2006 - 08:44 pm
    The Lady in Red is of the Pre Raphaelite school. The iconography is genre and the intensity that characterizes Rossetti is missing. The work is probably that of Burne Jones, an imitator of Rossetti.

    October 10, 2006 - 08:45 pm
    is the name of the artist who painted the scene at the bridge.

    19th Century Artists

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 11, 2006 - 02:43 am
    The Poet in Politics

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 11, 2006 - 02:50 am
    "Rarely has any man, through all the tides and storms in his affairs, charted and kept so straight a course. However, there were deviations.

    "Some time after Beatrice' death Dante indulged himself in a series of light loves -- 'Pierra,' 'Pargolerta,' 'Lisette,' 'or other vanity of such brief use.'

    "To one lady, whom he names only gentil donna, he addressed love poems less ethereal than those to Beatrice.

    "About 1291, aged twenty-six, he married Gemma Donati, a descendant of the oldest Florentine aristocracy. In ten years she gave him several children, variously reckoned at three, four, or seven, Faithful to the troubadour code, he mever mentioned his wife or his his chldren in his poetry.

    "It would have been indelicate. Marriage and romantic love were things apart."

    Have times changed?


    October 11, 2006 - 05:57 am
    Justin, we have to give you credit for being very close. Burne Jones strongly influenced Henry Holiday.

    From the Wikipedia write up on Holiday:

    "Holiday also spent a lot of time at the studios of Sir Edward Burne-Jones. The influence of Burne-Jones can be felt in Holiday's work – the artists working in Sir Edward's studios discussed, exchanged and pooled their ideas, thus causing similarities between them."

    It would appear that Jones was an imitator of Rossini, and Holiday was an imitator of Jones.


    October 11, 2006 - 03:57 pm
    Italy was the last European country to become centralized. And that, I think, was not until the 19th century. The 13th century was the darkest period of Italian history, marked by bloody struggles between rival political factions. The 15th century was filled with unscrupulous and cruel Italian rulers, But, surprisingly. it was also a time of great creative achievement -- the Renaissance. ( I wonder what is the connection between the creativity of the Renaissance and the brutality of its politics?)

    In contrast, the 13th century was generally a time of unrelenting violence. Entire families were killed in escalating blood feuds, sort of like Mafia families.. The tragedy of Romeo Montecchi and Juliet Capuleti (made famous by William Shakespeare's play in 1595) took place in that time.

    The politics made every northern Italian town a cradle of civil wars. A family backing a particular political party often controlled a neighborhood adjacent to one controlled by a family belonging to a rival party, much like the gangs of today. The year 1198 saw the beginning of two such political parties--the Guelphs and Ghibellines. (The Montecchis were Ghibellines; the Capuletis were Guelphs.) The names of the parties are of German origin. At that time, German emperors also reigned over Italy. . The Guelphs became the upholders of papal supremacy, while the Ghibellines supported the political claims of German emperors and kings of Italy. Later, the Guelphs split into two factions: the Blacks (extreme Guelphs) and the Whites (moderate Guelphs). Ghibellines came to be regarded as the party of noblemen, Black Guelphs the faction of the upper middle class, and White Guelphs the faction of the lower middle class. The truth was that all of the parties and factions steadily degenerated into gangs without any ideology who fought for the ambitions of their own bosses to control local businesses and rackets.

    In the middle of the 13th century, northern Italy, the so-called kingdom of Italy, was a myriad of independent city-states--more than 60. Central Italy was made up of the Papal States, from which the popes vied for rule over European Christendom with the Holy Roman Empire.

    The struggles continued between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, especially in Tuscany, where the hatred between Florence (Guelph) and Siena (Ghibelline) escalated. Both towns wanted hegemony over Tuscany. The "eternal peace" signed by Florence and Siena on July 31, 1255, was only a memory, and the ongoing duel between those two towns, which had begun in 1140, ended in a gory climax.

    In Florence and in Siena, the Guelphs regained power and persecution of the Ghibellines began. Also in Florence, the Guelphs split into Whites and Blacks under the Cerchi and the Donati families. Supported by Pope Boniface VIII, the extreme faction, the Blacks, under Corso Donati, ultimately won out. Among the Whites who felt Donati's wrath was the Dante.. Dante, who hated the Blacks, was condemned to death by burning at the stake on March 10, 1302, but he was later able to escape before the sentence was carried out. And, one wonders, on what grounds did Dante hate the Blacks? (Sources: Me and Web Historical sources)

    October 11, 2006 - 04:04 pm
    I'm sorry that post was so long, but I needed to find out what Dante was so, shall we say, irritated about. I've always wondered why he was so cranky. As far as I'm concerned, while the bloodshed was regrettable, it was much ado about nothing.

    But, I suppose, if he hadn't taken his politics so seriously, there would be no Dante's Inferno. More's the pity.

    October 11, 2006 - 04:23 pm
    Poets in politics may also take a more positive approach. In 2003 there was a convention of POETS AND POLITICS, which brought together the State Poet Laureates of the nation. This description of them I found in a site describing the gathering:

    "the state laureates were committed to working within their communities and had strong beliefs about the role of the poet in the public arena."

    A far cry from Dante's 'Inferno'. There was a lengthy list of the various Poet Laureates, but I was not familiar with any of them. (But then, I haven't really kept up with modern poets.)


    robert b. iadeluca
    October 11, 2006 - 06:54 pm
    "Perhaps through Cavalcanti's aid, he entered politics.

    "For reasons unknown to us he joined the Whites or Bianchi -- the party of the upper middle class.

    "He must have had ability for as early as 1300 he was elected to the Priory or municipal council. During his brief incumbency the Blacks or Neri, led by Corso Donati, attempted a coup d'etat to restore the old nobility to power. After suppressing this revolt the priors, Dante concurring, sought to promote peace by banishing the leaders of both parties -- among them Donati, Dante's relative by marriage and Cavalcanti, his friend.

    "In 1301 Donati invaded Florence with a band of armed Blacks, deposed the priors, and captured the government. Early in 1302 Dante and fifteen other citizens were tried and convicted on various political charges, were exiled, and were sentenced to be burned to death if they should ever enter Florence again.

    "Dante fled, and, hoping soon to return, left his family behind him. This exile, with confiscation of his property condemned the poet to indigent wandering for nineteen years, embittered his spirit, and in some measure determined the mood and theme of The Divine Comedy.

    "His fellow exiles, against Dante's advice, persuaded Arezzo, Bologna, and Pistoia to send against Florence an army of 10,000 men to restore them to power or their homes.

    "The attempt failed and thereafter Dante followed an individual course, living with friends in Arezzo, Bologna, and Padua."

    Could one say that he felt like hell?


    robert b. iadeluca
    October 12, 2006 - 03:14 am
    The Divine Comedy

    The Poem

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 12, 2006 - 03:23 am
    "Boccaccio relates that Dante began it in Latin hexameters but changed to Italian to reach a broader audience.

    "Perhaps the ardor of his feelings affected his choice. It seemed easier to be passionate in Italian than in a Latin so long associated with classic urbanity and restraint.

    "In youth he had restricted Italian to the poetry of love. But now that his theme was the highest philosophy of human redemption through love he wondered dared he speak in the 'vulgar' tongue.

    "At some uncertain time he had begun -- and then had left unfinished -- a Latin essay De vulgari eloquentia (On Vernacular Eloquence), aspiring to win the learned to wider literary use of the vernacular. He had praised the compact majesty of Latin but had expressed the hope that through the poetry of Frederick's Regno and the stil nuovo of the Lombard and Tuscan trovatori an Italian language might rise above its dialects to be (as the Convivio put it) 'full of the sweetest and most exquisite beauty.

    "Even Dante's pride could hardly dream that his epic wouuld not only make Italian a language fit for any enterprise of letters but would raise it to such dolce bellezza as the world's literature has seldom known."

    Any passionate responses?


    October 12, 2006 - 03:55 am
    Ahhh I am trying not to enthuse about the beauty of those flowery verses read by an Italian with warm voice, excellent pronunciation, the right intonation, all in the proper atmosphere and with a glass of Chianti.

    I wonder if Beatrice never felt like answering in rimes.

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 13, 2006 - 04:55 am

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 13, 2006 - 05:03 am
    ""'Midway on the road of our life I found myself in a dark wood whose direct way was blurred' and lost.

    "Wandering in the darkness, Dante meets Virgil, his 'master and guide from whom alone I took the beautiful style that has brought me honor.'

    "Virgil tells him that the only safe exit from the wood is through hell and purgatory but if Dante will accompany him through these, he will conduct him to the portals of paradise 'where a worthier than I must lead thee.'

    "Indeed, he adds, it is at Beatrice' command that he has come to the poet's aid.

    "They pass through an opening in the earth's surface to the gates of hell, inscribed with these bitter words:--

    "Through me one enters the sorrowful city. Through me one enters into eterninal pain. Through me one enters among the lost race. Justice moved my high Maker. Divine power made me supreme wisdom and primeval love. Before me were no things creted except eternal ones, and I endure eternally. All hope abandon ye who enter here!"


    October 13, 2006 - 07:24 am
    is my preferred version of this famous line. It must refer to the poor, unsuspecting, and good hearted reader, just like me.

    Dante adopted the philosophy and thinking of Aquinas for “The Divine Comedy,” says Durant on p. 1067. Further back, p. 978, he also says that Dante made a modified Thomism the framework of “The Divine Comedy.”

    Does anyone have a clue as to how this “adoption” and “framework” of Aquinas play out? How does a poor, unsuspecting, and good hearted reader know that Aquinas, metaphorically speaking, haunts hell?

    October 13, 2006 - 01:44 pm
    "Divine power made me supreme wisdom and primeval love."

    Okay, I need some help with this one. The above is part of the inscription over the gates to Hell. "Sorrowful city" and "eternal pain" are understandable. The place where the lost dwell, made by the Creator for justice, ..not a problem. But, how is hell 'supreme wisdom and primeval love'?!!! This, I do not understand, at all, at all.


    October 13, 2006 - 03:21 pm
    BaBi I found this very difficult too. This Dominican homily may be helpful as an insight into the sin of not choosing Christ's redemption of one's own free will.

    Divine power made both the possibility of redemption and also the possibility of hell. It's Hell, not as retribution but as inevitable result of making the wrong choice. It's more like Hell as the destination of the lost who have rejected Christ's redemption.Like the Hell is their own bad choice. I hope I have understood. Maybe not

    He thus points out that Hell is a consequence of Justice, Wisdom and Love – a consequence of Divine and Human choice. We are not compelled to love God – we are able choose that which is not God.

    October 13, 2006 - 04:49 pm
    Try reading it as a series of things that God made.

    “Justice moved my high Maker, divine power made me, supreme wisdom and primeval love.” (Notice the comma between Maker and divine.)

    I wouldn’t know how to translate it; perhaps someone here could do that. But, I read this translation as God (the high maker) was moved by feelings of Justice so he (divine power) made hell. God also made supreme wisdom and primeval love.

    It's sort of like the current punctuation funny: "Eats, shoots, and leaves." That sentence should be minus a comma: "Eats shoots and leaves." It's a Panda that is being discussed.

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 15, 2006 - 03:44 am

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 15, 2006 - 03:53 am
    "The conception of purgatory is by comparison humane. Man may by effort and pain, by hope and vision, cleanse himself of sin and selfishness, and mount step by step to understanding love and bliss.

    "So Dante pictures purgatory as a mountainous cone divided into nine levels -- an antepurgatory, seven terraces -- one for the purgation of each of the Deadly Sins -- and, at the summit, the Earthly Paridise.

    "From each level the sinner moves with diminishing pain to a higher level and at each ascent an angel chants one of the Beatitudes.

    "In the lower stages there are stern punishments for sins shriven and forgiven but not yet atoned for with sufficient penalty. Nevertheless, as against hell's bitter consciousness that suffering will never end, there is here the strengthening certainty that after finite punishment will come an eternity of happiness.

    "A softer mood and a neightening light pervade these cantos and reveal a Dante learning mildness from his pagan guide."


    October 15, 2006 - 05:41 am
    This reminds me so much of the religion lessons at the convent... The nuns were inspired by Dante?

    October 15, 2006 - 11:45 am
    There are vast resources on Dante's Inferno on the Web. Sample these.

    Purgatory is a Place of Mercy

    Diagram of Purgatory

    October 15, 2006 - 12:08 pm
    Back in 2003 members of Senior Net had a disccusion group on Dante's Inferno. Much work went into preparing lists of resources and questions for discussion. You can find it HERE.

    It is so complete a resource guide that I believe I will stop reinventing the wheel! Cheers Everyone!

    October 15, 2006 - 12:24 pm
    The translation MALLYLEE found is somewhat different, and does make a bit more sense, tho' I'm still not entirely happy with it. TOOKI's punctuation also changes the meaning, bringing it closer to the version Mallylee found.

    I'm still not entirely happy with it, tho'. To me, God is Supreme Wisdom and Primeval Love; he didn't 'make' them. May I suggest that the error here is Dante's, and that he sacrificed theological correctness to poesy?


    robert b. iadeluca
    October 15, 2006 - 12:40 pm

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 15, 2006 - 12:50 pm
    "Dante's theology made his task harder.

    "Had he allowed himself to picture paradise in Persian or Mohammedan style as a garden of physical as well as spiritual delights, his sensuous nature would have found abundant imagery. But how can that 'constitutional materialist, the human intellect, conceive a heaven of purely spiritual bliss?

    "Moreover, Dante's philosophical development forbade him to represent God, or the angels and saints of heaven, in anthropomorphic terms. Rather he visions them as forms and points of light.

    "The resultant abstractions lose in a luminous void the life and warmth of sinful flesh. But Catholic doctrine professed the resurrection of the body.

    "Dante, wihile struggling to be spiritual, endows some denizens of heaven with corporeal features and human speech.

    "It is pleasant to learn hat even in heaven Beatrice has beautiful feet.

    "The life and warmth of sinful flesh." Oh, I love that phrase! It portrays a whole new aspect of love and beauty.


    October 15, 2006 - 10:52 pm
    I'm still not entirely happy with it, tho'. To me, God is Supreme Wisdom and Primeval Love; he didn't 'make' them. May I suggest that the error here is Dante's, and that he sacrificed theological correctness to poesy?

    I hope someone can answer this BaBi. It seems to me a valid question, and now that you have asked it,I too wish I knew the answer. i think the answer is most likely Tooki's explanation that if a comma is inserted after 'God made me' it begins to make sense. Maybe if it had read 'God, divine Wisdom and primeval Love, made me' it would be even clearer, Perhaps the English translation lacks clarity. I dont know about Italian syntax

    October 15, 2006 - 11:04 pm
    at least I have learned a bit of theology that explains the problem of moral evil in a world created by a benevolent creator. The additional problem about the undeserved and unavailing punishment of newborns is addressed by Limbo, as I have heard. I dont see how Limbo can be theologically disposed of, as there is so much innocent suffering. Unless the innocents get a fast track through purgatory.

    October 15, 2006 - 11:37 pm
    Babi: The language quoted by Durant at the entrance to Hell comes from the Carlyle-Okey-Wicksteed translation.

    Longfellow writes," Through me the way is to the city dolent. Through me the way among the people lost. Justice incited my sublime Creator: created me divine Omnipotence, the highest wisdom and the primal love.

    Ciardi writes, "I am the way into the city of Woe. Sacred justice moved my architect. I was raised here by divine omnipotence, primordial love and ultimate intellect.

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 16, 2006 - 05:06 am

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 16, 2006 - 05:19 am
    OK, folks, here we are. The ending of Volume Four, "The Age of Faith." At the start I indicated to you that we were going to cover 1000 years in a 1000 pages. Each of the previous three volumes took us approximately one year to cover. This one has taken us about two years.

    Now is the time for you lurkers to come out of the woodwork. I want to hear from each of you!!

    "It is fitting that we should end our long and devious narrative with Dante. In the century of his death those men appeared who would begin to destroy the majestic edifice of faith and hope in which he had lived.

    "Wycliff and Huss would preface the reformation. Giotto and Chrysoloras, Petrach and Boccaccio would proclaim the Renaissance.

    "In the history of man -- so multiple is he and diverse -- one mood may survive in some souls and places long after its successor or opposite has risen in other minds or states.

    "In Europe the Age of Faith reached its last full flower in Dante. It suffered a vital wound from Occam's 'razor' in the fourteenth century. But it lingered, ailing, until the advent of Bruno and Galileo, Descartes and Spinoza, Bacon and Hobbes.

    "It may return if the Age of Reason achieves catastrophe. Great areas of the world remained under the sign and rule of faith while Western Europe sailed Reason's uncharted seas.

    "The Middle Ages are a condition as well s a period. In Western Europe we should close them with Columbus. In Russia they continued until Peter the Great (d. 1725). In India until our time."

    Please let us hear all your comments.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    October 16, 2006 - 09:12 am
    Robby excuse me but I just want to share that Curious Minds is opened for October - wouldn't you like to share your a bit about the four guests you would invite to be a part of a dream conversation? They can be four guests from history - maybe some of those you are reading about now or, the guests could be current personalities.

    Imagine folks you would like to know more about - day dream an invitation to them and describe to us your fantasy gathering. Further, day dream the question you would like to ask them that you just know they alone could answer. Have some fun with this.

    What about a favorite author or someone who lived during the time that few could read however, they were reading Dante or how about some folks who struggled over leaving their home for a better life or to escape religious persecution - or maybe a past king or president who made a decision we still live with today or maybe an early scientist and just where and how did they obtain their supplies - on and on -

    The imagination of those of us on Seniornet is broad and this is your opportunity to share who you would invite to your dream conversation. Here is the link to the Curious Minds all about a dream guest list.

    patwest, "Curious Minds ~ Who's Coming to Dinner? - Starting - October 16" #107, 11 Oct 2006 8:06 am

    October 16, 2006 - 10:21 am
    Religion, and heaven and hell are they not concepts of mankind. And as such these concepts can be as varied as the number of different variations of mankind. To each his own should be in my opinion the acceptance of religion and heaven and hell. The mere fact that we don't all agree with these concepts makes it all the more interesting. I don't know about you, but if we ALL believed in the same thing how dull our lives would be. Controversy isn't that the spice of life!Perhaps when all is said and done it is in the concept of "controversy" of men [and women] that we need to deal with instead of the vague concepts of heaven and hell.

    October 16, 2006 - 11:01 am
    Faith has always been part of man's preoccupation, be it the idols of primitive people, the pantheon of mythology in different cultures, the specific monotheism in its different variations of the three main religions. So it is not surprising that it took that much time to get through Age of faith.

    It seems we are at a crossroad these days and it is not clear what will be the next tendancy or which of the trends will have the upper hand. Once again intolerance appears to gain on understanding and acceptance. History has a way of repeating itself and lessons are never learned.

    October 16, 2006 - 12:46 pm
    Dante is a fitting end to the Age of Faith for his Comedy summarizes much that we came to expect from religion. The work is a blend of religion and politics and serves as a precursor to the modern world. We are today where Florence was in the 14th century. A cocktail of religion and politics made everyone drunk then and now it repeats.

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 16, 2006 - 03:48 pm
    "We are tempted to think of the Middle Ages as a fallow interval between the fall of the Roman Empire in the West (476) and the discovery of America.

    "We must remind ourselves that the followers of Abelard called themselves moderni and that the bishop of Exeter, in 1287, spoke of his century as moderni tempores, 'modern times.'

    "The boundary between 'medieval' and 'modern' is always advancing. Our age of coal and oil and sooty slums may some day be accounted medieval by an era of cleaner power and more gracious life.

    "The Middle Ages were no mere interlude between one civilization and another. If we date them from Rome's acceptance of Christianity and the Council of Nicaea, A.D. 325, they included the final centuries of the classic culture, the ripening of Catholic Christianity into a full and rich civilization in the thirteenth century, and the breakup of that civilization into the opposed cultures of the Renaissance and the Reformation.

    "The men of the Middle Ages were victims of barbarism, then the conquerors of barbarism, then the creators of a new civilization.

    "It would be unwise to look down with hybritic pride upon a period that produced so many great men and women, and raised from the ruins of barbarism the papacy, the European states, and the hard won wealth of our medieval heritage."

    Your comments, please? We are near the end of the volume.


    October 16, 2006 - 04:23 pm
    Ciardi writes, "I am the way into the city of Woe. Sacred justice moved my architect. I was raised here by divine omnipotence, primordial love and ultimate intellect.

    Now this version makes sense, JUSTIN. And it is appropriate that it come from an Italian.

    ROBBY, the point about 'modern times' always being one's own time is something we need to bear in mind. I well remember how startled I was once on reading this line by a character who said, with exasperation: "After all, this is 1850! These are modern times!"

    What most bemuses me about the middle ages is how backward Europe appeared in contrast to what was happening in the Arab world at the time. They might as well have been on the other side of the world. One of the characteristics of the middle ages was that the vast majority of the common people were born, lived and died in the same small area of their world, with virtually no outside contact.


    October 16, 2006 - 09:08 pm
    Meeting all the fabulous folks and their ideas throughout the time span of the book was more important to me than the religion.

    The wonderful, kooky, or invigorating ideas of these people and the changes they caused in civilization was stimulating and in many ways timely.

    Religions come and go, and I can’t imagine that to lessen the grip of religion on society getting rid of the promulgators is any sort of an option.

    October 17, 2006 - 12:23 am
    "Religions come and go, and I can’t imagine that to lessen the grip of religion on society getting rid of the promulgators is any sort of an option. "

    Huh Tooki? Is there a comma after society? or is it society that is getting rid of? Please elaborate because I don't understand what you meant, sorry...

    I thought Modern Times is always what the present is called. In the same way, I never looked at Middle Age as backward, just different and on the way to develop, just like any other time. We too should become less barbaric. Bubble

    October 17, 2006 - 01:06 am
    The phrase 'early modern Europe' is what historians call this material that we are just beginning to study. It's the early roots in Europe as a whole, of mankind as kingpin, rather than God.

    October 17, 2006 - 01:41 am
    I thought that sentence was too cryptic; thanks for requesting a clarification.

    I was thinking about (1) current discussion in the press about the possibility of religious feelings being genetic, and (2) the publication of two recent books directed against Christianity.

    Two aspects came to mind. (1) If there is a genetic component to religious/spiritual feelings, does that exalt such feelings? (In the current climate of opinion, feelings and ideas deemed to have genetic components are treated with great respect.)

    Or, (2) if the grip of religion on society is to be lessened what happens to those many people who have strong religious feelings, genetic or otherwise? Do they get “retrained”?

    P.S. The mentioned books are: Sam Harris, "The End of Faith," and Richard Dawkins, "The God Delusion."

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 17, 2006 - 03:07 am
    "That legacy included evil as well as good.

    "We have not fully recovered from the Dark Ages -- the insecurity that excites greed -- the fear that fosters cruelty -- the poverty that breeds filth and ignorance -- the filth that generates disease -- the ignorance that begets credulity, superstition, occultism -- these still survive amongst us.

    "And the dogmatism that festers into intolerance and Inquisitions only awaits opportunity or permission to oppress, kill, ravage, and destroy.

    "In this sense modernity is a cloak put upon medievalism, which secretly remains. And in every generation civilization is the laborious product and precarious obligating privilege of an engulfed minority

    "The Inquisition left its evil mark on European society. It made torture a recognized part of legal procedure and it drove men back from the adventure of reason into a fearful and stagnant conformity."

    How relevant all this is to the start of the 21st century although Durant wrote this in the early 20th century. Cruelty, poverty, filth, ignorance, disease, superstition, intolerance, oppression, killing, torturing, ravaging, destroying -- perhaps these will always be with us.

    Where on this earth at the moment is the "adventure of reason?" Are we all conformists?


    October 17, 2006 - 03:45 am
    We are seeimg the insecurity of Muslims, now, in Britain, where Muslims' generally poorer educations, employment prospects, and possibly village type ethnic customs, are creating in many Muslim individuals a culture of separateness from the majority, and of taking offence at anything that can be construed as insults to Muhammad the holy prophet, who is the paradigm of proper Muslim life.

    The answer is to enrich the education and employment prospects of Muslims from Pakistan and Bangladesh origins.

    The USA surely has much experience of disadvantaged ethnic/religious minorities in US cities. How has the US dealt with this problem?

    October 17, 2006 - 03:54 pm
    It has always seemed to me that cruelty is bred in 'poverty, filth, ignorance, disease, and ignorance. And in order to 'climb on top' and stay there, people will oppress, kill, torture and destroy. And until, and unless, we can remedy the former, we can expect the latter will always be with us.


    October 17, 2006 - 07:11 pm
    This is a moment, Robby, when you might give us free rein to relate the past to the present.

    One might well argue that insecurity is a characteristic of a free market economy and that a degree of greed is therefore inherent in the American body politic.

    It is clear that fear fosters cruelty. We fear nuclear retaliation today and as a result we are willing to allow our president to endorse torture. The twelth century Papacy feared those who disagreed and so resorted to torture to keep the faithful in line.

    Poverty is the handmaiden of ignorance and superstition for the poor have not the leisure to acquire knowledge and to recognize superstition. We are clearly better off, today, in the west, than the general population in 13th century Europe but one does not have to go far to find poverty and ignorance and superstition.

    Dogmatism festers into intolerance and inquisitions only await opportunity and permission to oppress. The inquisitors are here. They would make us all one faith if allowed to proceed. Some are already engaged and moving against the forces of reason openly.

    In the US the Constitution is a voice of reason. It is under assault and weakened by those who fear the voice of reason in a free society. In the past six years Americans who reason have lost some of their rights. ( see Patriot Act etc.) We put up with it because the loss is said to be a temporary one but the US has been and will continue to be under threat of one kind or another,as long as we exist.

    October 18, 2006 - 01:47 am
    This is a moment, Robby, when you might give us free rein to relate the past to the present.

    In any case , it's never possible to shift oneself entirely into the stance of some person who lived long ago , for one is always the person one is. The only way to understand, is to learn insight into who one is, into present day prejudices, and then compare that stance with the people we are learning about in The Story. In fact, it's a strength to be able to compare and contrast, because you have to be rooted somewhere in order to view another place. Archimedes?

    Another reason to relate history to the present, is that history as academic discipline is justifiable not only as entertainment, or as nostalgia, but more importantly as showing us where we stand here and now. There is an important application for the study of history.

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 18, 2006 - 03:34 am
    I would say that now that we are ending the volume, that this is the time to relate the past to the present. Just keep the sensitivities of others in mind as we mention religion and/or politics.

    "The preponderant bequest of the Age of Faith was religion.

    "A Judaism absorbed all the eighteenth century in the Talmud. A Mohammedanism becalmed after the victory of the Koran over philosophy in the twelfth century. A Christianity divided between East and West, between North and South, and yet the most powerful and infuential religion in the white man's history.

    "The creed of the medieval Church is today (1950) cherished by 330,000,000 Roman, 128,000,000 Orthodox, Catholics. Her liturgy still moves the soul after every argument has failed.

    "And the work of the Church in education, charity, and the moral taming of barbaric man left to modernity a precious fund of social order and moral discipline.

    "The papal dream of a united Europe faded in the strife of Empire and papacy. But every generation is stirred by a kindred vision of an international moral order superior to the jungle ethics of sovereign states."


    Fifi le Beau
    October 18, 2006 - 10:55 am
    Durant writes...

    "The Inquisition...... made torture a recognized part of legal procedure and it drove men back from the adventure of reason into a fearful and stagnant conformity."

    Robby asks...

    How relevant all this is to the start of the 21st century

    Yesterday the president of the United States again made torture a part of the legal procedure when he signed a new law. This bill also does away with the right of habeas corpus.

    With a flourish of the pen, we are now back on equal footing with the Dark Ages and the inquisition. The Supreme court had ruled (narrowly) that torture and the denial of habeas corpus was unconstitutional.

    So our congress passes a law ex post facto also unconstitutional to make the governments actions legal. See Article 1, Section 9, number 3. The president signed it yesterday so it is now U.S. law.

    The adventure of reason has ended for America by law, but there will be no conformity in this house, nor fear. With only a small voice and pen, I will fight for reason over inquisition.

    This family never wants to live under a dictatorship, nor king, nor queen, nor oligarchy, nor theocracy. That's why we came to this country from the Europe of which Durant writes, and wrote a Constitution with a different set of laws by which to live.

    Europe at the end of 'Age of Faith' is still controlled by religion. The timid introduction of reason is met with torture, death, and confinement by religious authority. Even in the 'Age of Reason' religion does not remain idle. There will be wars, inquisitions, and terror for hundreds of years to come.

    I live my life forward, but with a better understanding of the past for having read 'Age of Faith'. Thank you Robby.


    October 18, 2006 - 11:05 am
    The trouble with "temporary losses" they tend to become permanent when the government is concerned. Hence the "Income Tax" that was ratified during the Civil War and was only supposed to be for the duration of the war, but as we all know is alive and well 145 years later!The question than becomes how many years will it be before we wake up and find that we no longer have ANY civil liberties!

    October 18, 2006 - 03:13 pm
    It made torture a recognized part of legal procedure.” That sentence got to Fifi too. I’ll show pictures anyway.

    This evil is still with us as can be seen in the contemporary paintings of Leon Golub, (b.1922- d.2004)

    Goblub’s “The Interrogation Series,” consists of a number of paintings held together by the theme of, “How is an interrogation conducted?” He created this series during the 1980s.

    For my taste, this Interrogation Series is right up there with Goya’s, “Horrors of War.” It is less horrifically vivid, but equally terrifying, especially the blank looks on the interrogators faces.


    Interrogation No.2

    Interrogation No. 3

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 18, 2006 - 05:14 pm
    "When that papal dream broke, the nations of Europe took essentially the form that they retained until our century. And the principle of nationality prepared to write the political history of modern times.

    "Meanwhile the medieval mind created great systems of civil and canon law, maritime and mercantile codes, charters of municipal freedom, the jury system and habeas corpus, and the Magna Carta of the aristocracy. Courts and curias prepared for states and Church modes and mechanisms of administration employed to this day.

    "Representative government appeared in the Spanish Cortes, the Icelandic Althing, the French Estates-General, the English parliament.

    "Greater still was the economic heritage.

    "The Middle Ages conquered the wilderness, won the great war against forest, jungle, marsh, and sea, and yoked the soil to the will of man.

    "Over most of Western Europe they ended slavery and almost ended serfdom. They organized production into guilds that even now enter into the ideals of economists seeking a middle way between the irresponsible individual and the autocratic state.

    "Tailors, cobblers, and dressmakers, until our own time, practiced their handicrafts in personal shops after the medieval fashion. Their submission to large scale production and capitalistic organization has occurred under our eyes.

    "The great fairs that now and then gather men and goods in modern cities are a legacy of medieval trade. So are our efforts to check monopoly and regulate prices and wages. Nearly all the processes of modern banking were inherited from medieval finance.

    "Even our fraternities and secret societies have medieval roots and rites."

    So we are not as far advanced from the Middle Ages as we might think.


    October 19, 2006 - 12:43 am
    That's true: it is an eye opener. However, I wonder if Durants are implying that prehistoric Man was not organised into societies in a family, clan or tribal sense. I mean, I cannot imagine that any vertebrate animal species is ever made up of loners with no societal affiliations.

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 19, 2006 - 04:00 am
    "Medieval morality was the heir of barbarism and the parent of chivalry.

    "Our idea of the gentleman is a medieval creature. The chivalry ideal, however removed from knightly practice, has survived in one of the noblest conceptions of the human spirit. Perhaps the worship of Mary brought new elements of tenderness into the behavior of European man.

    "If later centuries advanced upon medieval morality, it was on a medieval foundation of family unity, moral education, and slowly spreading habits of honor and courtesy -- much as the moral life of modern skeptics may be an afterglow of the Christian ethic absorbed in youth.

    "The intellectual legacy of the Middle Ages is poorer than our Hellenic inheritance and is alloyed with a thousand occult perversions mostly stemming from antiquity.

    "Even so it includes the modern languages, the universities, and the terminology of philosophy and science. Scholasticism was a training in logic rather than a lasting philosophical conquest although it still dominates a thousand colleges.

    "The assumptions of medieval faith hampered historiography. Men thought they knew the origin and destiny of the world and man, and wove a web of myth that almost imprisoned history within the walls of monastic chronicles.

    "It is not quite true that medieval historians had no notion of development or progress. The thirteenth century, like the nineteenth, was powerfully impressed by its own achievements. Nor were the Middle Ages as static as we once proudly supposed. Distance immobilizes motion, assimilates differences, and freezes change. But change was as insistent then as now, in manners and dress, language and ideas, law and government, commerce and finance, literature and art.

    "Medieval thinkers, however, did not attach as much importance as the modern thoughtless to progress in means unaccompanied by improvement in ends."

    Your comments, please?


    robert b. iadeluca
    October 19, 2006 - 04:41 am
    This evening (Thursday) I will be leaving for the Senior Net Conference in Washington, DC, and will be returning Sunday afternoon.


    October 19, 2006 - 08:47 am
    Robby, Good luck, and have a good time at the SeniorNet Conference.

    From Durant:"The chivalry ideal, however removed from knightly practice, has survived in one of the noblest conceptions of the human spirit. Perhaps the worship of Mary brought new elements of tenderness into the behavior of European man."

    Generalizations usually get you into trouble, but I'll venture one here.

    If, in order to understand each other better, we were to make a list of differences between "Western" culture and Islam, I would have to say that the concept of chivalry never developed in Muslim culture. Is there anything in Islam that compares with what we call chivalry when relating with women?


    October 19, 2006 - 09:17 am
    Have fun Robby, forget all the chores and tasks! Don't forget your camera. Bubble

    October 19, 2006 - 01:33 pm
    Rich. That's a good question. We have seen so much in Islam that oppresses women that is hard to imagine chivalry being alive and functional. We need Mahlia to field questions like this one. She has much insight into the Muslim-Muslima relationship.

    Robby: Have a good weekend.

    October 19, 2006 - 03:36 pm
    much as the moral life of modern skeptics may be an afterglow of the Christian ethic absorbed in youth.

    On one hand may be, on the other hand, may not be .

    October 19, 2006 - 03:48 pm
    "Medieval thinkers, however, did not attach as much importance as the modern thoughtless to progress in means unaccompanied by improvement in ends."
    No amount of altered punctuation seems to improve this gobbledygook.


    October 19, 2006 - 04:09 pm

    Depends what you mean by chivalry. I think that the overarching tenet of chivalry is that the strong protect the weak. Women were less able than men to fight and do hard physical work by reason of continuous pregnacies or lactations. It's my understanding of Muslim custom that women are protected by men to the extent that if a woman is widowed, her late husband's nearest male relative will marry her in order to protect her in family surroundings. This marriage will probably not be a sexual relationship. It seems to me that this Muslim custom although perhaps archaic now, in the context of western mainstream society, does follow the chivalric tenet.

    October 19, 2006 - 04:21 pm
    Mallylee, I understand that there is a strong tradition in Islam of men "protecting" their women, but I see this as the same protection they give to their sheep, camels, rugs and other things they own.

    In its ideal, the tradition of Western chivalry went beyond "property" into respect for, and deference to all women.


    October 19, 2006 - 09:07 pm
    Adrbri -

    How about, "The ends DO NOT necessarily justify the means.

    At least it's understandable.

    October 19, 2006 - 09:14 pm
    "The moral life of modern skeptics may be an afterglow of the Christian ethic absorbed in childhood.”

    Durant’s going along, being pithy and reflective when suddenly he throws this old saw into his argument.

    I take his statement to mean that skeptics (read, those without Christian faith) are unable to be moral without the guidance of a higher moral authority, which he assumes to be Christianity. Skeptics can’t think of moral behavior without being told what it is. There are far too many aspects to this statement for them all to be entertained in a brief posting, but I would like to say something about the possible genetic aspects.

    I’ve mentioned earlier the contemporary interest in possible genetic bases to religiousity. Well then, perhaps there is a genetic component to the development of the moral life. To get along together folks from the earliest times must have had moral precepts to individually survive and for the group to thrive.

    If it turns out that morality and religiousity are genetic based, there are reasons to be moral – with or without a religion

    October 20, 2006 - 12:47 am

    I'm not defending the modern ethnic customs of some Muslims to repress and murder their female relations, to castrate little girls, or for that matter, to kill people who disapprove of the Holy Prophet. What I am saying is that in classic Islam, women own/owned property and within the household and tribe had a substantial say in both business and politics. I am unable to refer to any good source for my info, just that I went to a lecture by a senior sort of imam about twenty years ago when he was a guest of the Humanist society I belonged to, and this is what he said, about the status of Muslim women.

    As a woman, I can say that it's a lot more important to be one's own woman, with rights to one's own property and political powers than to have male 'respect' and flattery.

    However, the way Muslim customs are going, in the UK, and I suppose in Europe as a whole, Islam classic Islam seems to be in decline, and unpleasant ethnic customs, such as women wearing black tents, vaunting their gold wealth on their persons, and empty piousness, are too evident.

    October 20, 2006 - 02:37 am

    October 20, 2006 - 02:32 pm
    MALLYLEE - thanks for the link to the article about Women in Islam. It is "right on," and certainly gives a clear look at how Islam (the religion) includes consideration/protection for women.

    The important issue to keep in mind for anyone (even Muslims who do NOT always understand clearly all aspects of their religion) is that many of the negative elements associated with Islam and pertaining to women are NOT from the religious standpoint, but from cultural traditions of the Muslims of certain regions. And many of those traditions towards females carried forward from generation to generation.

    Indeed, Muslimas were in many cases far ahead of their Western sisters in being able to own property, manage their own funds (derived from inheritance or lands and goods which they owned), determine substantial issues in their marriage contracts, refuse to marry prospective husbands chosen by family unless they wished to and their wishes were adhered to.

    Muslimas in the earliest period of Islam - in the days of the Prophet Mohamed and for many years following his death - had substantial family, tribal, clan and land ownership responsibilities. An excellent example of womens' rights in this period and throughout the history of Islam, derives from the Prophet's first wife of many years, Khadija. She was a wealthy, successful businesswoman. Throughout her marriage to the Prophet he (and his male relatives and those who worked with or knew the family) were highly respectful of Khadija.

    The historical aspect of treating women with less respect and the rights which have been given to men is NOT just an issue in Islam, as we already know, but has been a manifestation of cultural traditions world-wide. And, of course, since many wealthy Muslim women have chosen not to function in a widely public manner as Western women are more inclined to do, there is less understanding about them.

    For example, it is NOT only women like the former Queen Noor of Jordan (an American by birth), the current Queen Raina of Jordan (a Palestinian by birth), the former and current First Ladies of Egypt (Jehan Sadaat, whose mother was English, and Suzanne Mubarak, respectively), but less publicly-known women (especially those from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States), who hold substantial professional and family decision-making responsibilities.

    At the less public and more moderate income levels, Muslimas also have tremendous input into family decisions. But since the West really does NOT know the intricacies of these levels of Muslim society, it is not unusual that the freedom and major responsibilities of women within the family is not clearly known and understood.

    While Muslims do indeed marry widowed Muslimas within their family, it is done after much consideration, discussion AND agreement with the widow. On the other hand, there are many Muslimas who do NOT want to marry again after they have been widowed, are able to care for themselves and their children, and decide to refuse any offers of marriage. In terms of funds, Muslimas are encouraged to take care of their own inheritances (with professional guidance if needed), keep their earned funds for themselves or spend as they like, and are NOT responsible for talking about or sharing these funds with anyone else if they choose not to. NOTE: The link which MALLYLEE provided is a really clear picture of Muslimas within Islam.

    JUSTIN: How's that?

    October 20, 2006 - 06:29 pm
    I can't respond for Justin, but I can for myself. A thorough and thoughtful answer, well expressed, as usual.

    On the issue of woman and Islam, have you read "Reading Lolita in Tehran?"


    October 20, 2006 - 07:22 pm
    Yes, I've read that book. Did you? If so, what did you think of it?

    October 20, 2006 - 09:48 pm
    As usual Mahlia, you provide well reasoned insight into this question. Thank You.

    Men are in charge of women because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other. The Qur'an.

    Laila Said, in her autobiography, talks about her mother." Her name was Om Abdou, mother of Abdou. From him she derived her identitiy. Om Abdou always wore black. Her hair was always tied beneath a black scarf. She had been married twice.Her first husband was twenty-four years older than she. Her second was thirty years older. Both marriages had been arranged. When she married her second husband he was sixty. She was twenty-five.He was old, yes, but would a twenty-five year old widow find a better man? She bore him four children. She was not allowed to sit at meals with him though she shared his bed. He aknowledged her presence only as part of a retinue of children and servants. When her second husband died Om Abdou inherited an eighth of the land. Her secong husband's oldest sons stepped in to administer the estate. Om Abdou protested. The family was outraged. The village was outraged. A council of vilage elders, that existed solely to govern the affairs of widows, was convened. Why was she unwilling to do what was proper and let her husbands sons take over the reins of the family? She wanted to raise her babies on her own. For that she needed her own money. She wanted to make her own decisions in the household. Alright, the council said, have it your way but you must provide a yearly accounting of every penny spent until the children are twenty-one. A bookkeeper would come from time to time to inspect her books."

    October 21, 2006 - 01:50 am
    This conversation began by comparing the statuses of Muslim women on the none hand,and Christian women who were affected by chivalric code on the other.

    I wonder if it's really relevant to bring in the general status of women compared with that of men. Women have been downgraded ever since property became a paramount value. It's clear that property had to be passed to the father who paid for the child to be reared, and the property kept in the family. People with no property. meanwhile, were kept in the same sort of order by religious tenets accompanied by their rewards and punishments.

    The industrial revolution and then the sexual revolution that gave women money and freedom to bear and rear children on their own has given freedom to half of humanity, (talking about post industrial nations, of course, and their mainstream cultures)

    October 21, 2006 - 06:53 am
    If chivalry had or has any effect on western women, Christian or otherwise, why are there videos like “Girls Gone Wild?”

    For those of you in other countries, even though you may live in the United States, “Girls Gone Wild,” is a series of videos produced in the last few years that can only be had by purchasing over TV. The videos are sold via “Infomercials,” half hour long advertisements purporting to furnish extensive information about the product.

    In the videos young women cavort around, flashing and exhibiting breasts and bottoms, indulging in lesbian activity, and generally having a good time. It’s just more of the “soft porn” that this culture churns out without even thinking about it. But it's shown on national TV!

    So, if the chivalric code was anything at all, it seemingly would also affect women’s, even girls, behavior. The chivalric guy was noble, heroic, and put women on a pedestal, and this behavior was (is) directed at these “Girls Gone Wild?” If so, I don’t get it. I just don’t get it.

    October 21, 2006 - 07:10 am
    Mahlia, I have not yet read "Reading Lolita in Tehran." My wife is reading it and raving about it. She is most impressed by how these anonymous looking women in dark robes, looking only at the ground as they walk quickly through the streets of Tehran, become transformed when they arrive at the author's home to read great Western classics.

    They all look like shadows, anonymous carbon copies of each other in the street, but when they come into her home they doff the robes and become unique and interesting girls and young ladies, each with her own real personality as they sit about reading and discussing the classics in their different pastel colors, jeans and earrings and expressing their own opinions and thoughts without fear.

    As you know, it is a true story.


    October 21, 2006 - 10:37 am
    RICH - indeed it is a true story and there are numerous young women in Iranian cities and the provinces who, with guidance from their elder female relatives (who are often extremely encouraging), teachers and friends, have gone through similar transformations. And it might be surprising to note that many men are also encouraging of the womens' right to education, better understanding of the world, and how best to follow their own interests.

    I knew one young Iranian woman whose father was a career military officer, very severe with his soldiers, but upon his arrival home would announce to his kids "Now we read!" He was educated in the West and made sure that his kids were multi-lingual in Farsi, French and English. His vast collection of hundreds of books included topics which appealed to all members of his family, including the youth and also to the women in his family. Their house looked like a small Library of Congress! In the outside world, Dad was tough; inside he treasured his family and the opportunity for them to learn "anything and everything." And he insisted that in the evenings when the family gathered for their "reading," the household servants would join them, seating themselves comfortably and either reading themselves or if they could not read, then listening to someone who was reading aloud.

    To a Westerner, especially someone who has NEVER encountered veiled women in the Muslim world, the "women beneath the veils" are often a shock. Removing the veil brings to life some wonderful moments of happiness, sharing, praise for one's new hairdo or clothes, etc. In my experiences, it's a time of happy surprises.

    I've also know the "other side" of the society where women are "hidden away" from anyone outside the immediate family. Only because I was female and trusted was I able to interact with some of the more traditional women, who indeed were fully veiled (as was I until I entered their homes) seldom went outside their home property - but had gorgeous Persian gardens, which offered them great joy - and really did not know much about the world. Their "world" was their family.

    October 22, 2006 - 04:16 am
    New book:

    THE GOD DELUSION By Richard Dawkins.

    "The nub of Dawkins’s consciousness-raising message is that to be an atheist is a “brave and splendid” aspiration. Belief in God is not only a delusion, he argues, but a “pernicious” one. On a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 is certitude that God exists and 7 is certitude that God does not exist, Dawkins rates himself a 6: “I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.”" /
    Review in the NY Times


    October 22, 2006 - 05:07 am
    Bubble, that is the conclusion of a very proper sceptic, to rate himself , not as ten out of ten certainty, but concluding that the existence of God is 'improbable'.

    I have not read the book, but I hope that Dawkins has defined what he means by 'God'. There are so many different definitions, and also the belief that it's blasphemy to even try to define 'God' as 'God' is indefinable.I sympathise with the last belief, as it avoids idolatry

    October 22, 2006 - 05:22 am
    A definition is not an idol. A representation could be an idol.
    I don't think a name would be an idol even though some religions forbid to pronounce a name.

    idol n.
    an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed.

    October 22, 2006 - 08:59 am
    Here's what Albert Einstein thought of belief in God:

    "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals Himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings."

    —Albert Einstein


    October 22, 2006 - 09:02 am
    That's a good one, thanks Rich!

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 22, 2006 - 10:33 am
    I have just come back from a very stimulating SN 20th Anniversary week-end get together. It was wonderful and you can read about it in other discussions. I have also read thoroughly your exchanges regarding men and women. Let us now continue reading Durant's Epilogue.

    "The scientific legacy of the Middle Ages is modest.

    "Yet it includes the Hindu numerals, the decimal system, the conception of experimental science, substantial contributions to mathematics, geography, astronomy, and optics, the discovery of gunpower, the invention of eyeglasses, the mariner's compass, the pendulum clock, and -- apparently the most indispensable of all -- the distillation of alcohol.

    "Arabic and Jewish physicians advanced Greek medicine and Christian pioneers emancipated surgery from the tonsorial arts. Half the hospitals of Europe are medieval foundations or modern restorations of medieval establishments.

    "Modern science has inherited the internationalism and in part the international language of medieval thought.

    Your comments about this paragraph, please?


    October 23, 2006 - 05:30 am
    The current issue of “The New Yorker” magazine, (October 23), contains a book review that may be of interest. “Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University," by William Clark is one of the New Yorker’s interminably long articles, masquerading as a book review.

    While it may seem to go on forever, it’s worth reading because it discusses Abelard’s intellectual “charisma” as being part of Eloise’s attraction to him, in ways perhaps not open to Durant.

    "The Nutty Professors"

    October 23, 2006 - 12:09 pm
    - - - is worth reading for that one paragraph.

    Posted here : - (to save you the trouble of reading the rest.)

    One early academic champion was the Parisian master Abelard, who cunningly used the format of the disputation to point up the apparent inconsistencies in orthodox Christian doctrine. He lined up the discordant opinions of the Fathers of the Church under the deliberately provocative title “Sic et Non” (“Yes and No”) and invited all comers to debate how the conflicts might be resolved. His triumphs in these “combats” made him, arguably, the first glamorous Parisian intellectual. A female disciple, Héloïse, wrote to him, “Every wife, every young girl desired you in absence and was on fire in your presence.” Their story has become a legend because of what followed: Héloïse, unwed, had a child by Abelard, her kin castrated him in revenge, and they both lived out their lives, for the most part, in cloisters. But even after Abelard’s writings were condemned and burned, pupils came from across Europe hoping to study with him. He had the enduring magnetism of the hotshot who can outargue anyone in the room.


    October 23, 2006 - 02:29 pm


    But I bet there were , and are, times and places when intellectual vivacity and ability are not as sexually desirable in a man, as muscles and physical aggressiveness

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 23, 2006 - 05:16 pm
    The Epilogue continues.

    "Next to moral discpline, the richest portion of our medieval heritage is in art.

    "The Empire State Building is as sublime as Chartres Cathedral and owes its grandeur to architecture alone -- to the stability of its audacious height and the purity of its functional lines.

    "But the union of sculpture, painting, poetry, and music with architecture in the life of a Gothic cathedral gives to Chartres, Amiens, Reims, and Notre Dame a scope and depth of sensuous and spiritual harmony, a wealth and diversity of content and ornament, that never lets our interest sleep and more fully fills the soul.

    "These portals, towers, and spires -- these vaults that made a soaring counterpoint of stone -- these statues, altars, fonts, and tombs so fondly carved -- these windows that rivaled the rainbow and chastened the sun -- one must forgive much to an age that loved so conscientiously the symbols of its faith and the work of its hands.

    "It was for the cathedrals that polyphonic music was developed and a musical notation and staff and from the Church the modern drama was born.

    "The medieval heritage in literature, although it cannot vie in quality with that of Greece, may hear comparison with Rome's.

    "Dante may stand beside Virgil, Petrarch bsside Horace, the love poetry of the Arabs and the troubadors beside Ovid, Tibullus, and Propertius, The Arthurian romances are deeper and nobler than anything in the Metamorphoses or the Heroides and as graceful. The major medieval hymns top the finest lyrics of Roman poetry.

    "The thirteenth century ranks with the age of Augustus or of Leo X. Rarely has any century seen so full and varied an intellectual or artistic flowering.

    "A commercial expansion almost as vigorous as that which marked the close of the fifteenth century enlarged, enriched, and aroused the world. Strong popes from Innocent III to Boniface VIII made the Church for a century the summit of European order and law. St. Francis dared to be a Christian. The mendicant orders restored the monastic ideal. Great statesmen like Philip Augustus, St. Louis, Philip IV, Edward I, Frederick II, Alfonsi X raised their states from custom to law and their peoples to new medieval levels of civilization.

    "Triumphing over the mystical tendencies of the twelfth century, the thirteenth sallied forth into philosophy and science with a zest and courage not surpassed by the Renaissance.

    "In literature the 'wonderful century' ran the gamut from Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival to the conception of The Divine comedy.

    "Nearly all elements of medieval civilization seemed in that century to reach unity, maturity, and culminating form."

    Apparently these were not the Dark Ages -- especially the thirteenth century.


    October 23, 2006 - 05:47 pm
    We still do not fully know what accounts for these outbursts of fertile art, literature and thought in certain times and places. I look forward to seeing what the 14th century will bring.

    It was great to finally meet Robby face to face in Arlington. PatH was telling me how impressed you were by the learning centers.

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 23, 2006 - 05:51 pm
    It makes a difference doesn't it, Joan, posting here after having met someone personally. For example, I have also met Eloise, Bubble, and Mal (although I wonder how she is doing these days.)

    I am thinking of forming a Learning Center in my area but that would take at least a year.


    October 24, 2006 - 10:13 am
    "These portals, towers, and spires -- these vaults that made a soaring counterpoint of stone statues, altars, fonts, and tombs so fondly carved -- these windows that rivaled the rainbow and chastened the sun -- one must forgive much to an age that loved so conscientiously the symbols of its faith and the work of its hands."

    When I think of the 13th century, the above paragraph says it all. It was a time that makes us appreciate not only the craftsman, but what they accomplished with their hands and how long the projects must have taken. Now we live in a time period where "speed" is essential otherwise we are left behind in the dust. We become impatient, but part of the beauty of these creations was the time and patience it took to produce such beauty.

    October 24, 2006 - 10:41 am

    JoanK, We need such outbursts NOW. The world is getting too materialistic.

    Robby, it makes a difference to meet: I saw you much tamer than I imagined... lol Bubble

    Éloïse De Pelteau
    October 24, 2006 - 06:03 pm
    "Abelard’s intellectual “charisma” as being part of Eloise’s attraction to him, in ways perhaps not open to Durant."

    Oh! Abélard!!!!!

    "But I bet there were, and are, times and places when intellectual vivacity and ability are not as sexually desirable in a man, as muscles and physical aggressiveness"

    Is that so?

    Enough hilarity, I just came in to thank our Discussion Leader for two years of absolute dedication to the 4th volume: The Age of Faith. Frankly, I gave it up a while ago and have only skimmed over the surface of Durant's excerpts but I didn't want to leave without giving full credit to Robby for his patience and endurance.

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 24, 2006 - 06:10 pm

    October 24, 2006 - 07:19 pm
    The Thirteenth century is often called "Proto Renaissance" by historians. Giotto who painted in the first quarter of the Thirteenth century brought naturalness in painted figures to the fore for the first time since the Greeks and that led to the wonderful discoveries of the great fourteenth century.

    The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century as we all know now came about largely as a result of the Crusades.

    The Fifth through the Eleventh centuries are some times called "Dark". Two elements contributed to the darkness. On the one hand, superstition flourished, and intellectual inquiry was shut off. On the other hand, raids by maurauding bands in Europe kept, those who might otherwise have pursued learning, occupied protecting oneself and family.

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 25, 2006 - 03:12 am
    "We shall never do justice to the Middle Ages until we see the Italian Renassance not as their repudiation but as their fulfillment.

    "Columbus and Magellan continued the explorations already far advanceed by the merchants and navigators of Venice, Genoa, Marseille, Barcelona, Lisbon, and Cadiz.

    "The same spirit that had stirred the twelfth century gave pride and battle to the cities of Renaissance Italy. The same energy and vitality of character that marked Enrico, Dandolo, Frederick II, and Gregory IX, consumed the men of the Renaissance.

    "The condottieri stemmed from Robert Guiscard, the 'despots' from Ezzelino and Pallaavicino.

    "The painters walked in the paths opened by Cimabue and Duccio.

    "The Palestrina mediated between Gregorian chant and Bach.

    "Petrarch was the heir of Dante and the troubadours. Boccaccio was an Italian trouvere. Despite Don Quixote romance continued to flourish in Renaissance Europe.

    "Chretien de Troyes came to perfection in Malory. The 'revival of letters' had begun in the medieval schools.

    "What distinguished the Renaissance was that it extended the revival from Latin to Greek classics and rejected Gothic to revive Greek art. But Greek sculpture had already been accepted as a model by Niccolo Pisano in the thirteenth century .

    "When Chrysoloras brought the Greek language and classics to Ialy the Middle Ages had still a century to run."

    Durant is preparing us for a seamless move over to the Renaissance. Who was it who said "We stand on the shoulders of giants?"


    October 25, 2006 - 06:02 am
    Isaac Newton.

    October 25, 2006 - 06:07 am
    "Standing on the shoulders of giants leaves me cold"

    Though usually attributed to Newton, [this quote] is not his originally. The following appeared in "The Decline and Fall of Footnotes" by Bruce Anderson, in Stanford: "As Sir Isaac Newton modestly noted in a letter to Robert Hooks. 'If I have seen further [than you and Descartes] it is by standing upon the shoulders of Giants.' [Footnote:] Not only did Newton's work build on that of others, his comment to Hooke did, too. This aphorism was apparently a commonplace in the 17th century. It has been used for almost 2,000 years, by writers ranging from Lucan to George Herbert, from Bernard of Chartes to Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Robert K. Merton explored it fully in his short book, On The Shoulders of Giants: A Shandean Postscript (Free Press, 1965)." [calbear]"

    October 25, 2006 - 08:40 am
    BUBBLE - I'm laughing at myself! I should have added a question mark after Newton's name.

    October 25, 2006 - 01:58 pm
    said, apropos of the 5th through the 11th centuries, that superstition flourished and intellectual inquiry was shut off because marauding bands in Europe kept folks otherwise occupied.

    The historical fact of “marauding bands” is documented, and there were reasons for it. Population pressure, the need for new pasture land for the nomads, and plain, straightforward empire building caused tribes to meander and maraud.

    However, the reasons for the cessation of intellectual inquiry are not nearly as clear. Actually superstition flourished because of the lack of intellectual inquiry to halt it; it was not that superstition was the cause of the lack of intellectually inquiry. (This point is surely merely a linguistic quibble as in actuality they went hand in hand.)

    Anyway, I can’t accept that the demise of the Roman Empire, which was gradual anyway, left Europe destitute of learning and those who were wont to learn. Perhaps they were busy transforming themselves into the “Warrior Class,” or Knights. I don’t think the Church can be held responsible because during most of this time she was struggling for survival too.

    So, either it was all the fault of the marauders (I love that word), or there are reasons neither we nor Durant have uncovered. Any thoughts on this most stimulating question?

    Scholars are still debating the whys and wherefores of these so called “Dark Ages, although they are hard put to make valid determinations because of the lack of records. Since, of course, most folks were illiterate and records were not kept! I believe that is a genuine Catch-22.

    October 25, 2006 - 04:58 pm
    There is little scholarly debate, and Durant clearly confirms this, on the question of the role of Christianity in guiding the thinking of people in the period 500 to 1100. One is hard put to recognize a scholar other than Augustine and his thought formed the basis for the pervasive superstition of this period. Even illiterate common folk have questions but when all one's neighbors answer the question," Who made me"? with, "God made me," there is little interest in pursuing the question further. When such responses are pervasive,a variation of Say's law applies. Say says,"bad answers drive out good answers.

    Try pages 732 to 750 in Durant and pay particular attention to his material at the bottom of page 737.

    There is certainly validity in the catch 22 argument that records from the Dark Ages are few. It was however, during this period, when the Vikings were loose on the land, that men retreated to monasteries where copying of Latinized versions of Greek and Islamic manuscripts was in progress. We know about Beowolf (including Christian distortions) from this period.

    It is difficult for me to not to recognize the positive role of the Church in supplanting intellectual inquiry during the Dark period in history. The sobriquet "Dark", it seems to me, refers, pointedly, to an absence of intellectual expression. Some of that may be due to the pervasiveness of illiteracy but much is due to the substitution of superstition which most scholars lay at the feet of Holy Mother Church.

    October 26, 2006 - 01:46 am
    Is it likely, as I remember hearing something about this year, that Barbarians were not savages at all, but that Roman culture deliberately stifled Barbarian cultures?

    Also, the demise of the Roman system of communications across Europe would be another cause of Barbarian dark age , in addition to the lack of recording of the Barbarian cultures, for centuries after the Romans ceased their twisted recordings of Barbarian cultures.

    October 27, 2006 - 07:45 am
    Flash! Pompeii makes it big on AOL news!

    Recent News About Pompeii

    October 27, 2006 - 09:26 am
    Part (but not all) of the reason why the Vikings had a reputation as marauders was that Christian countries were forbidden by the Church to engage in trade with these "pagans."

    The resulting reaction by the Norsemen was if they couldn't get what they needed by trade, then, in the morality of the time, they felt their only alternative was to take it by force.


    October 27, 2006 - 09:46 pm
    My goodness, Rich. That's news. Do you you have a reference or a citation on the prohibition? Vikings were raiding monasteries like Lindesfarne, I thought, because they were rich easy plums but not in retaliation for failure to trade.

    October 27, 2006 - 09:49 pm
    Robby: Do you have a little vacation in mind between volumes? I'm getting a little stale.

    October 28, 2006 - 06:17 am

    A quick reference. Note the first sentence in the year 750.


    October 28, 2006 - 10:36 am

    October 28, 2006 - 10:41 am

    partly to avoid the entrenched stereotypes associated with the phrase, but partly because more recent research and archaeological findings about the period has revealed that complex cultural influences persisted throughout this period.

    October 28, 2006 - 03:53 pm
    One of the few pleasures in attaining the mantle of years is the chance to observe and participate in changing intellectual fashions.

    Of course the Vikings were farmers; it wouldn’t be politically correct to call them marauders, which is after all, a pejorative term. Nor of course were the middle Ages “Dark.” To call them dark surely maligns the time period and the people in it.

    The site Rick cited has this statement:

    “Historians with hidden agendas like to cloak old evils in nice new shinning words. Slavery becomes feudalism, dictatorship becomes kingship. Slavery is achieved by: Demeaning people - classify them as Heathens - Barbarians - Uncouth Use wars, force or threats of any nature restrict their freedom of movement - speech - livelihood Impose grinding obligations”

    Wow! Talk about hidden agendas! This guy believes so strongly in freedom that he will decide what words people use!

    I can’t find any place on the site that says who is responsible for it. (Rick, help.) When one has strong opinions that attempt to change things, one should identify oneself – easily.

    Durant accepts the use of “The Dark Ages” and devotes a whole “book” to them, plus numerous references cited in the index. And, as far as he’s concerned, the Vikings were some of the European marauders.

    I give Durant credit for not having a hidden agenda, using the intellectual shibboleths of his time as meaningfully as he could, and giving the whole nine yards (or rather, nine centuries) his best shot.

    Besides, I have a crush on him and adore his writing. We can update him as we go, can’t we?

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 28, 2006 - 05:44 pm
    We are currently in Durant's Epilogue and almost at the end of the volume. We will be taking a one month sabbatical as we usually do between volumes and will resume with "Renaissance" December 1st.


    October 28, 2006 - 07:56 pm
    Robby, Hope this doesn't mean we stop talking with one another.

    Just watched a speech by Salmon Rushdie (sp) on C-Span.

    I thought his most significant line was, "Where is the Million Muslim March on Washington demanding an end to terrorism? ...The silence is deafening."


    October 28, 2006 - 11:41 pm
    The reference says " Christians refused to trade so the Vikings pillaged." Sounds to me like a local objection not a Papal Bull. I see no author identified at the site. Who are these writer-guys who say "some say" and do they have an ax to grind?

    October 29, 2006 - 12:00 am
    In the late Ninth century Vikings after raiding settled down in some places along the English coast and became farmers but in the late Eighth century and early to mid-Ninth they were marauders. They did not carry trade goods. Sutton Hoo confirms that. History rewriters, who, not to offend Denmark, may find some trading in axes and short swords but there is little else for the Danish coast is quite barren. Agriculture is limited by the shortness of the season.

    October 29, 2006 - 01:28 am

    has a bibliography . It begins :---

    < understand the Anglo-Saxon settlement of England three important issues must be considered:

    As the early Anglo-Saxon settlers were pre-literate there are few contemporary written sources until the conversion to Christianity which began in the late 6th century but was not finalised until 686.

    The main written sources we have available (Gildas and Bede) were both compiled by clerics and their accounts reflect their own agendas and biases.

    Until quite recently, historians tended to accept the Gildas/Bede view that the coming of the Anglo-Saxons resulted in the cataclysmic end of Roman Britain[1] followed by a period of barbaric darkness until the St. Augustine led conversion to Christianity began to achieve success.

    October 29, 2006 - 01:02 am
    I found this about Vikings, which may be of interest. According to this article they raided first, and very soon settled, with families.

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 29, 2006 - 04:14 am
    Rich:-My practice has always been to leave the folder open for the entire period of the sabbatical but to ask everyone to continue discussing items relevant to The Story of Civilization and not wander off into recipes, weather, and what have you.


    robert b. iadeluca
    October 29, 2006 - 04:28 am
    These are the final two paragraphs of the volume.

    "In Renaissance Italy, Spain, and France the same religion held sway that had built the cathedrals and composed the hymns, with only the difference that the Italian Church, sharing richly in the culture of the time, gave to the Italian mind a freedom of thought born in the medieval universities, and predicated on the tacit understanding that piilosophers and scientists would pursue their work without attempting to destroy the faith of the people.

    So it was that Italy and France did not share in the Reformation. They moved from the Catholic culture of the thirteenth century to the humanities of the fifteenth and sixteenth, and thence to the Enlightenment of the seventeenth and eigtheenth.

    "It was this continuity, combined with pre-Columbian Mediterranean trade, that gave to the Latin peoples a temporary cultural advantage over northern nations more severely ravaged by religious wars. That continuity went back through the Middle Ages to classic Rome and through southern Italy to classic Greece.

    "Through Greek colonies in Sicily, Italy, and France, through the Roman conquest and Latinization of Frence and Spain, one magnificent thread of culture ran, from Sappho and Anacreon to Virgil and Horace, to Dante and Petrarch, to Rabelais and Montaigne, to Voltaire and Anatole France.

    "In passing from the Age of Faith to the Renaissance we shall be advancing from the uncertain childhood to the lusty and exhilarating youth of a culture that married classic grace to barbaric strength and transmitted to us, rejuvenated and enriched, that heritage of the civilization to which we must always add, but which we must never let die.


    Your comments, please, not only about these last paragraphs but perhaps about the entire volume, The Age of Faith, as well as about Durant himself.


    October 29, 2006 - 07:07 am
    gave to the Italian mind a freedom of thought born in the medieval universities, and predicated on the tacit understanding that piilosophers and scientists would pursue their work without attempting to destroy the faith of the people.

    So the intellectual elite were to shut up about any disruptive ideas? I suppose at a time when everyone was expected to keep in line, this was normal thinking.

    October 29, 2006 - 07:10 am
    "In passing from the Age of Faith to the Renaissance we shall be advancing from the uncertain childhood to the ---

    Did Durants ever warn against such periodisation? I know that grand scale historical narrative has to be divided into periods so that it can be studied term by term perhaps. But it's respectable to issue a caveat about it

    October 29, 2006 - 09:29 am
    Do historians give us a clearer picture of the worlds past or do they insert their own opinions and thus cloud the past?

    October 29, 2006 - 01:29 pm
    Historian bias, Scrawler, comes from at least three sources- selectivity, expression and commentary. The events selected for exposition determine the shape of the tale. The historian says " this is what happened," but a lot of other things happened in the same time period. So he chooses what to include and that shapes the tale.

    Saint Jerome was a historian of the fourth century CE. He selected books of the Bible. Some he left out and others he included. Those he included represent the New Testament as we see it today. However, many of the books he left out are coming to light today. The Dead sea Scrolls are just one example of books not selected.

    There are many ways in which a tale can be told. Some parts of a tale may be emphasized while other parts minimized. In criminal trials, a defense attorney's tale rarely matches that of the prosecutor. Witnesses present a similar problem. They rarely describe an event in the same way. They often corroborate in part rather than wholly.

    So we have bias and today revision is common. Things must be "politically correct," one must be aware of another's sensitivities when writing history.

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 30, 2006 - 02:37 am
    This is my original posting for "The Age of Faith" made in August, 2004. Please read this from the perspective of having participated here for two years (for some of us) and a bit less for others. What is your reaction?

    robert b. iadeluca - 05:12pm Aug 27, 2004 PT (#1 of 1003) Books Discussion Leader

    WELCOME back, "old timers" and a very special welcome to those newcomers who are joining our "family". You will very quickly understand why we consider ourselves a family. Although we all have the same serious purpose -- trying to answer Voltaire's question in the Heading above -- we also suffer from a contagious disease. We seem unable to repress our tendency to laugh, giggle, and sometimes tease each other -- all in good spirit of course - and not straying from the topic. Somehow this FUN approach leads to our better understanding of Mankind's progress.

    We are ready to move on. The following Foundation has been laid.

    Many of us here have been watching with fascination for almost three years the development of the potters wheel in Sumeria, the building of the pyramids in Ancient Egypt, the creation of the Code of Hammurabi in Babylonia, the start of letters and libraries in Assyria, and the influence of the prophets in Judea.

    We observed the construction of imperial highways in Persia, the formation of the caste system in India, the coming of culture to China, the powers of the shogun in Japan, the Heroic and Golden Ages of Ancient Greece followed by the Hellenistic dispersion, and the rapid expansion of a small crossroads town named Rome to the ultimate all-encompassing power of the Roman Empire.

    Throughout that progress toward civilization what we now call "religion" was ever-present. We felt the supernatural influence of sky gods, the sun god, plant gods, animal gods, sex gods, Osiris, Isis, Horus, Marduk, Ishtar, Tammuz, Polytheism, Henotheism, Yahveh, Zarathustra, Mithra, Naga, Hanuman, Nandi, Varuna, Prithivi, Parjanya, Agni, Vayu, Rudra, Indra, Ushas, Sita, Vishnu, Krishna, and Buddha. Add on to that the worship of ancestors, yin and yang, T'ien, the philosophy of Confucius, Shang-Ti, the doctrine of Lao-tze, and the Taoist faith.

    Then came Zeus, Athena, Demeter, Hera, Artemis, Poseidon, Dionysus, Hermes, Priapus, Aphrodite, and countless others who competed with but finally lost to the less supernatural advancement of the philosophies of Xenophanes, Parmenides, Plato, Zeno, Philolaus, Leucippus, Democritus, Empedocles, Pericles, Protagoras, Socrates and Aristotle.

    The Roman Empire, however, shunned the philosophies of Greece and re-introducing us to gods, gave us Jupiter, Vesta, the Lar, the Penates, Janus, Juno, Cuba, Abeona, Fabulina, Tellus, Mars, Pomona, Faunus, Pales, Sterculus, Saturn, Ceres, Fornax, Vulcan, Minerva, Venus, Diana, Hercules, Pluto, Mercury, and Neptune.

    Religion had returned in full force, bringing with it, even as Rome lay dying, a belief in monotheism growing out of Ancient Judea.

    Those joining us for the first time will have no problem easing right in to the discussion without having read the previous three volumes. Each book stands by itself. Anyone with an interest in the Middle Ages will feel immediately comfortable.

    Durant warns us:- "We are tempted to think of the Middle Ages as a fallow interval between the fall of the Roman Empire in the West (476) and the discovery of America. We must remind ourselves that the followers of Abelard called themselves moderni, and that the bishop of Exeter, in 1287, spoke of his century as moderni tempores, 'modern times.' The boundary between 'medieval' and 'modern' is always advancing."

    To those of us living in the 21st Century, the Middle Ages appear close enough to visualize and to compare with our own culture. Could it be because some of us still practice the same religion that took hold two thousand years ago? Is it because the language coming out of the "Moyen Age" has words, phrases and spelling close enough for us to decipher? Maybe the names and events of the more recent time ring a louder bell than the muffled tones of more primitive cultures.

    This volume contains a thousand years in a thousand pages.

    It is a history of medieval civilization -- Christian, Islamic, and Judaic -- from Constantine (A.D. 325) to Dante (A.D. 1300). It gives a unified picture, and perhaps a new and wider perspective, of medieval life -- observing Christian civilization against the background of an Islamic civilization of great richness and complexity -- seeing Christian philosophy, and viewing the Crusades -- not as the assault of civilization upon barbarism -- but as the contact of a young culture with one of greater maturity and subtlety.

    The Age of Faith aims to be philosophical history. The author seeks to explain causes, currents, and results and to find in events a logic and sequence that may illuminate our own day.

    Durant comforts previous readers by saying:- "Readers familiar with 'Caesar and Christ' will find it easy to pick up the threads of the present narrative. Chronology compels us to begin with those facets of the quadripartite medieval civilization which are most remote from our normal interest -- the Byzantine and the Islamic. The Christian reader will be surprised by the space given to the Moslem culture, and the Moslem scholar will mourn the brevity with which the brilliant civilization of medieval Islam has been summarized. A persistent effort has been made to be impartial, to see each faith and culture from its own point of view."

    So let us move ahead.


    October 30, 2006 - 07:09 am
    These last years have been as interesting and instructive; it has been fun to see the different angles presented by different readers here. This philosophical history would have been arduous and forbiding to get through alone; I would never have managed it. I am most grateful for the help and the insight gained here.

    Justin, I am not at ease with all the "political correctness" that seems to be required these days. I feel it is a pointed finger rather than increased awareness of another's sensitivities. Bubble

    October 30, 2006 - 07:21 am
    Bubble, Your comment on political correctness:

    "I feel it is a pointed finger rather than increased awareness of another's sensitivities."

    Very well put.


    October 30, 2006 - 07:53 am
    Robby, To your question. The Age of Faith reading and discussions have made me more aware how sigificantly religion has affected the direction of history.

    I read somewhere recently that, today, a majority of Europeans do not consider themselves part of any organized religion. Is this a trend that we will continue to see throughout the western world? Does this mean that future European events will be less "religion driven," and what does this mean for the direction of Western Civilization?"

    One thing about learning; the more you learn, the more questions you come up with.


    October 30, 2006 - 08:45 am
    Robby , the summary and introduction made me wish I had been in the discussions since the beginning. What a lot of good stuff I have missed.

    Yes. I am a European atheist, a position |i have thought long and earnestly about. Many people describe ' don't believe in God, but there is something---'.Probably not thought it all out.Organised Christianity is flourishing if it's the evangelical/charismatic sort, although not nearly as much as it is in the US, so I hear.

    I do wonder if organised religion can help to organise people into an almost worldwide society for the combating of climate change. I don't see how this can be done without engaging people's feelings, and organised religion has historically been used for getting people to work together in time of war.

    October 30, 2006 - 11:11 am
    What I found interesting is that at the core of the religions thus studied and discussed they really are very much alike. It is only the way in which we interrupt various dogmas that we find our differences and to me any way these differences are man-made. For example in almost all religions there is at least one superior being, but it is how we see this being that any differences are established. Reading this book and discussing it has brought to me a new understanding of these organized religions.

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 30, 2006 - 12:09 pm
    I have said this before but I say it again because it has most certainly changed my attitude toward what happens each day. I now take a much longer perspctive in looking over the worldly scene than I did before doing these four volumes. There isn't a thing mentioned in the daily paper or on the daily TV but what I don't say to myself:-"So what's new? Caesar did that. The earlier popes said that." And at the expense of repetition, I am coming to the conclusion that all of the progress of civilization takes place in the form of class wars -- the have-nots fighting the haves. And I now believe that it will always be so. I will be watching this carefully in the coming seven volumes.


    October 30, 2006 - 09:08 pm
    Robby, thank you for your précis of the Durant volumes we have read so far. An excellent effort. It had me thinking, "Ah yes ! that's so. I remember most of that list of names, and so on. "

    It is clear that you have absorbed a great deal while leading us through Durant's works. +++ Trevor

    October 30, 2006 - 11:58 pm
    ...and so the play continues.Each succeeding century carries some of the seeds of the previous centuries into its make-up. Sometimes the seeds lie dormant for long centuries and then, suddenly,awaken to bring the past back to life. That will happen soon as the Laocoon reappears and classical ideas return.

    Through the previous centuries, religion, Christian and Islamic, built up a tight grip on the people of the world and left little or no room for independent thought. The Christian grip began to loosen in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and in the fourteenth it will loosen even more as the leaders of the movement begin to decay. I am looking forward to continuing into Book Five.

    October 31, 2006 - 04:21 am
    A Bravo, both for Durant and Robby. And for us. Now I look forward to the next adventure.

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 31, 2006 - 05:09 am
    I am planning to rest from Durant until December 3rd. So don't expect to hear much from me.


    October 31, 2006 - 07:09 am

    October 31, 2006 - 08:53 am
    That means we can all celebrate Santa Klaus together on December 6th, lol, since he is the patron saint of all children or children-like.

    October 31, 2006 - 01:20 pm
    A lurker speaks - - -

    Having only found this discussion group in the last six months, and not having a copy of the book itself, I did a little research to see what I have missed, and what I might enjoy if I live long enough,

    The volumes are listed together with their dates of publication.
    Robby, you, and your cohorts have done a fabulous job. You are fully entitled to a breather. Enjoy a rest, and come back to us refreshed.

    The Story of Civilization. Vol. 1: Our Oriental Heritage. 1935.
    The Story of Civilization. Vol. II: The Life of Greece. 1939.
    The Story of Civilization. Vol. III: Caesar and Christ. 1944.
    The Story of Civilization. Vol. IV: The Age of Faith. 1950.
    The Story of Civilization. Vol. V: The Renaissance. 1953.
    The Story of Civilization. Vol. VI: The Reformation. 1957.
    The Story of Civilization. Vol. VII: The Age of Reason Begins. 1961.
    The Story of Civilization. Vol. VIII: The Age of Louis XIV.
    The Story of Civilization. Vol. IX: The Age of Voltaire. 1965.
    The Story of Civilization. Vol. X: Rousseau and Revolution. 1967.
    The Story of Civilization. Vol. XI: The Age of Napoleon. 1975.


    October 31, 2006 - 01:43 pm
    Brian: hope you'll be here. We learn a lot, have a lot of fun, (and sometimes butt heads.

    robert b. iadeluca
    October 31, 2006 - 05:45 pm
    Now that we have completed reading the entire volume, we are not constrained to discussing the particular paragraphs and chapters we are reading. This sabbatical month might be an opportunity to discuss world events in light of the various things we have learned from Durant over the years, e.g. arabs vs non-arabs as outlined in the article below.

    Always remaining sensitive to the politics and religions of participants and lurkers here.


    October 31, 2006 Chad Villages Hit by Echoes of Ethnic War Across Border By LYDIA POLGREEN DJEDIDAH, Chad — The account Halima Sherif gave of her family’s ordeal was chillingly familiar in this part of the world. Arab men on horseback rode into her village, shouting racial epithets over the rat-tat-tat of Kalashnikov gunfire.

    “They shouted ‘zurga,’ ” she said, an Arabic word for black that carries the connotation of a racial slur. “They told us they would take our land. They shot many people and burned our houses. We all ran away.”

    Scenes like this one have been unfolding in the war-ravaged Darfur region of western Sudan for more than three years, and since the beginning of this year Sudanese Arabs have also been attacking Chadian villages just across Sudan’s porous border.

    But the attacks on Djedidah and nine villages around it in early October took place not in Darfur, or even on Chad’s violent border with Sudan. It took place relatively deep inside Chad, about 60 miles from the border, a huge distance in a place with few roads, where most travel by horse, donkey or foot.

    Beyond that, the attack was carried out not by Sudanese raiders from across the border but by Chadian Arabs, according to victims of the attack.

    “They were our neighbors,” Ms. Sherif said, as she hurried to collect a few goats from the charred remains of her family compound. “We know them. They are Chadian.”

    The violence in Darfur has been spilling over into Chad since at least early this year, when cross-border attacks by Sudanese bandits and militias chased more than 50,000 Chadians living in villages along the border from their homes.

    But the violence around one of the other interior villages that was attacked, Kou Kou, is different and ominous, aid workers and analysts say. It appears to have been done by Chadian Arabs against non-Arab villages in Chad, and was apparently inspired by similar campaigns of violence by Sudanese Arab militias in Sudan. The villages are inhabited primarily by farmers from the Daju tribe.

    “This is not a cross-border conflict — it is a local interethnic conflict,” said Musonda Shikinda, head of the United Nations refugee agency’s office in the area. “The perpetrators are their neighbors, not people from abroad.”

    About 3,000 people have fled their homes because of the recent attacks, and about 100 have been killed, according to United Nations officials.

    Accounts of the attacks from displaced people, most of them living in makeshift camps around Kou Kou, are strikingly similar to the accounts given by non-Arab Darfurian refugees of attacks on their villages by Darfur Arabs.

    Yusuf Adif, a 29-year-old farmer from Djedidah, said he heard gunshots while tending his crops in early October. Mr. Adif was ready with a group of other village men to fight off the attackers.

    Grabbing their traditional weapons — spears with hand-forged blades, bows with poison-tipped arrows — the men ran toward the gunfire. But they soon fled when they saw dozens of men on horseback with automatic rifles. Some wore white robes, like almost all Muslim men here do, while others wore khaki uniforms of a militia he could not identify, Mr. Adif said.

    Abdel Karim Gamer, the sheik of Djimese, a nearby village, said that 20 people had been killed in the attack, among them women and children. Five women were abducted, he said, and he feared they had been raped, as so many women in Darfur have been.

    “These are Arabs we know,” he said as he sat on a mat near the cobbled-together shelter where he and his family have been living for the past two weeks. “We trade with each other, depend on each other. We never had any problem in the past.”

    Racial and ethnic identity are complex concepts in this region. The terms Arab and African or black are often used to signify the deep tribal divisions that have marked the conflict in Darfur.

    Historically the racial divisions had been largely meaningless in the arid scrublands of Darfur and eastern Chad, but racial ideology, stirred up among landless nomadic Arabs in Darfur against non-Arab farmers the 1980s, laid the groundwork for the present grim conflict over land, resources and identity in Darfur.

    The ethnic makeup of eastern Chad is similar to that of Darfur. The border between Chad and Sudan has little practical meaning for the villagers who live, trade and marry across the border, and whose families and tribes often span both Chad and Darfur.

    The latest violence here raises fears that Darfur’s troubles could ignite a broader conflict between nomadic Arab tribes and mostly settled non-Arab tribes across this broad swath of the sub-Saharan region.

    If the racial and ethnic conflict that has infected Darfur is being copied by Chad’s Arabs, then the violence spreading beyond Darfur’s borders could presage even further regional conflict, said David Buchbinder, a researcher for Human Rights Watch who specializes in Chad.

    “The racial ideology is spreading, and that is very dangerous,” Mr. Buchbinder said.

    Zachariah Ismael, who fled Ambash, one of the villages that was attacked, with his wife and six children, said of the conflict across the border, “Now it has come for us, too.”

    He was building a bigger, sturdier shelter to replace the one he had constructed when they arrived two weeks earlier. His crop of maize and dura wheat would soon need to be harvested, but he despaired of being able to reach his fields, half a day’s walk away.

    “I think we will be here for a long time,” he said. “We cannot go home.”

    November 1, 2006 - 12:40 am
    Racial and ethnic conflicts are prevalent all over Africa and they are not always Arabs or Moslems against non-Arabs. These wars are the plague of the land.

    The different tribes living together have had to keep peace while the "colons" lived there and had the supremacy about trade, government, the welfare of all. Left to themselves after they got their independence, these countries often have a dictator at the head, who only wants to fill his pockets. To do it with impunity this dictator will most of the time play tribe against tribe and favor his own ethnicity. It is the colons who fixed the borders of the land they had conquered and often it put together tribes which had nothing in common. In other parts, the same tribe might be divided between two countries because of an arbitrary frontiers.

    Both happened in Congo with over 400 ethnies and in it Southern border of the Katanga province, the same bantu people were divided between Congo and what was then North Rhodesia. You had on both side of the frontier the same group talking swahili, having the same cultural heritage, but one got fluent in French and the other in English... just because of a border! These two would never fight with one another, but the different ethnies in Congo are forever at war. The tribes may have different beliefs, but I haven't heard that religion is a motive for conflict there.

    It is so sad because the country is rich enough to provide lots of opportunities for all. It is maimed in poverty because of the greed of their rulers. Bubble

    November 1, 2006 - 01:46 am
    Bubble, is this what will happen after the US and the UK leave Iraq? That is, the colonists departing, leaving the country divided into warring factions with the strongest men with the best weapons in charge?

    November 1, 2006 - 02:06 am
    Mallylee, I very much fear that this will be the scenario... They don't need the best arms for guerilla welfare or for swarming the place.

    November 1, 2006 - 06:12 am
    Something I saw on TV vividly reminded me of all the children caught up in these ethnic or religious conflicts -- millions of children the same ages as my grandkids who grow up knowing nothing but violence, hatred, poverty, displaced and ruined lives. It hurts so badly. And what kind of adults can they become -- what kind of future generation?

    November 1, 2006 - 08:34 am
    I can see I'm a little late getting in on this discussion. I remember I posted when it first started but haven't been back. Some timing! Although I would have trouble keeping up with such a deep discussion I am very much impressed with Robby and the many participants his discussion has attacted. I hope I'll be back in December. My trouble is that my time is taken up with more trivial things.

    kiwi lady
    November 1, 2006 - 10:27 am
    Race and Religious division has long been used by Governments to cloud the real issues of poverty and unemployment.Its amazing that people still fall for this ploy.

    Now I notice that in the last hour of the American mid term elections the ruling party has begun a patriot - non patriot row to cloud the real issues. People should realise that politicians encourage this sort of division for their own ends.

    November 1, 2006 - 11:05 am
    Don't worry! We realize it. Some of us anyway.

    November 1, 2006 - 12:05 pm
    Blood has always been the symbol of "life" both metaphysical and literally. In centuries past if you drank the blood of your enemies you received their power and in a sense their "life." As long as this idea is retained either by governments or individuals there is little hope that the world will ever find true peace among the tribes of all nations.

    kiwi lady
    November 1, 2006 - 12:09 pm
    In my honest opinion blood lust has got nothing to do with it. Its simply the wealthy and powerful ensuring that they maintain the status quo.

    November 1, 2006 - 12:49 pm
    When I first started following this discussion, I sent off to buy the Age of Faith...and found one bundled with Vol. V: The Renaissance. I bought them both. I do not claim to have read every chapter covered so far, but the post here frequently send me back to the book, so I am glad I bought them.

    I have thanked many of you posters here before. I am grateful for the knowledge you add to the discussion and would like to take this "time-off" to thank you again.

    Robby, of course, is due special THANKS. Can you imagine SNet without Robby and the Story of Civilization by the Durants?

    Meanwhile, back to the lively discussion you have going now: a little history, a little politics. A lively conversation.


    November 1, 2006 - 09:31 pm
    Over the two years we have been reading Durant, I’ve used the opportunity to read related history books. I started systematically by using Durant’s bibliography as a guide. That didn’t work too well since many of his sources are out of print and not readily available.

    So I just randomly wandered the medieval history shelves in the book stores and libraries here, in Portland, Oregon. I’ve had a wonderful time finding old books with “hidden agendas,” and new books that are tendentiously “politically correct.” I have also had my fill of Foucault and Darrida, whose views on history make them the darlings of French intellectuals and United States academics.

    My thanks to Robby and all of you for bearing with me when I go into “excited mode.” Even my family avoids me when I get too excited. I have been threatened with the consequences of one more remark about meandering marauders

    I look forward to getting over excited in the Renaissance, and I hope all of you will be there.

    November 2, 2006 - 12:13 am
    Religious conflict and intertribal warfare are two sure ways to keep the masses busy while the leader fills his pockets. The trick works here in the US as well as in Congo,Chad,and Sudan.

    November 4, 2006 - 11:15 am
    This has been so stimulating, even when i'm just lurking. Where in our adult lives can we find this kind of discussion except at SN.

    A special and HUGE thanks to Robby for putting up the pages and asking the questions that get us, and keep us, all going.

    Thanks to you all for the links you've provided to add to the visual and historical content of the disussion, i've used some of them for my students in WC.

    Thanks to you who have shared your esoteric knowledge of the time and events - it's all added to an exciting intellectual discussion....jean

    November 4, 2006 - 09:01 pm
    Another thing about history is seeing it as theater. Historical happenings are reported as though they are scenes from grand opera. Nietzsche (somewhere) called history “the vast warehouse of theatrical masks and costumes” that constitute the past and affect us now.

    Historical reenactment, a sort of theater, are history as symbolic action. In the United States there are, to name a few, the Civil War reenactors, the wars between whites and Indians, and that place in Virginia where there is a whole town reenacting 18th century life, open to tourists. In Europe you can be a member of the Roman Legions, fight jousts in Tournaments, or be a Scottish noble and wear kilts to meetings! Can it get any cooler!

    Then there’s meta-theater. Theater is the only history that some folks know. There’s Shakespeare, and if we count the movies as theater the possibilities are endless. Starting with “Birth of a Nation” and coming forward to the latest war movie, that’s history! Or rather, that’s meta-history, the history of history.

    As we get into the Renaissance we see many of the paintings of Greek and Roman myths as history. And for music, let’s start with Bruce Springsteen singing, “Born in the USA.” Or maybe that’s end, starting would be a Gregorian Chant, maybe.

    All of the arts conspire to help us view history as theater. Unfortunately, many of those who aspire to be a major character in the theater of history end up being a walk on or an extra in a crowd scene.

    November 5, 2006 - 01:55 am
    Are we in a tragedy or in a comedy?

    It's variety for some, and epic for very few others . For nobody is it a lighthearted musical show

    We may be near the end of the programme now, and we begin to fear Curtains.

    There will be a call 'is there a doctor in the house?' for some of us, but for the young ones who came to the show, they will may to see the bitter end, unless audience particip[ation is on the programme and we can work a different ending

    November 7, 2006 - 05:20 pm
    Jules Michelet (1798-1874), French romantic historian, is reported, in my current reading, as having posited the idea of history as epic poetry. More importantly perhaps, he invented the use of the word Renaissance as an historic period.

    Below is a link to a site that discuses his life and work quite thoroughly, including this:

    “The term renaissance, meaning literally "rebirth," was first employed around 1855-8 by Jules Michelet to refer to the "discovery of the world and of man" in the 16th century. The great Swiss historian Jakob Burckhardt, in his classic "The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy," (1860), expanded on Michelet's conception. Defining the Renaissance as the period between the Italian painters Giotto and Michelangelo, Burckhardt characterized the epoch as nothing less than the birth of modern humanity and consciousness after a long period of decay.”

    (Michelet also became “habituated to the spending of the winter months on the Rivera.”)

    Durant’s bibliography for our upcoming volume includes Michelet and Burckhardt.

    Jule Michelet

    As an aside, this article is copied almost completely for the article in Witipedia. Or at least I think Witipedia copied, not the site I cited.

    November 12, 2006 - 10:52 pm
    In case you haven't noticed the moral majority just became the immoral minority.

    November 13, 2006 - 08:57 am
    Did anyone see last night's special on the History Channel's about Hell? I believe it was called: "Hell - the Devil's Domain. They discussed what hell means to the various peoples of the world as well as discussing subjects like Dante's "Divine Comedy" and "Paradise Lost."

    I thought it was interesting that many religions like the Muslim religion and oriental religions believe in hell, but also believe that the souls go there for only a short time and than are sent on to heaven.

    At any rate it was a very interesting program.

    robert b. iadeluca
    November 13, 2006 - 05:20 pm
    kiwi lady - 10:21am Nov 13, 2006 PT

    Did you all know Mal is in a burns unit. She accidentally poured boiling water on herself.

    If anyone wants to send a card her address is now

    Marilyn Freeman

    LeHigh Valley Hospital and Health Network

    Cedar Crest & 1-78

    PO Box 689

    Allentown PA 18105

    Carolyn ------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- kiwi lady - 12:02pm Nov 13, 2006 PT Kia Kaha - be strong Mal is without her PC at the moment. She must feel like she has had her right hand cut off. I hope she has some books and a notebook. Her hands are ok from what I can gather. You are such kind people! I bought Mal a little something and will post it off by airmail when I get to the Post office at the end of the week.


    November 13, 2006 - 07:03 pm
    How terrible!! Do you know how bad her burns are?

    robert b. iadeluca
    November 13, 2006 - 07:16 pm
    I only know what Carolyn wrote here -- which I took from another discussion.


    November 13, 2006 - 10:31 pm
    I believe they were third and forth degree burns.

    November 14, 2006 - 12:26 am
    3rd degree according to her daughter Dorian. She has received skin grafts and is recuperating from those at present. Of course she is in much pain. She will need special physiotherapy too after the grafts heal.

    November 14, 2006 - 01:17 am
    Mal's pain must be severe. Third degree burns are deep and scarring. I feel so compassionate about her. She has had much pain all her life and now this. There isn't much we can do to ease her pain. Perhaps, flowers would decorate her room. Any other suggestions?

    November 14, 2006 - 01:48 am
    a good book? Hours must be long... When I twice spent 5 months in hospital, books were the only thing that saved my sanity. Bubble

    November 14, 2006 - 09:14 pm
    Perhaps we could somehow get a site (homepage, whatever) here at Senior Net. We could all then say something to Mal. This would be printed off and sent to her. Perhaps Robby could ask, saying that although this was outside the range of Senior Net's purview, an exception might be made in Mal's case because she was here (S of C) from the outset

    If that fails perhaps Robby could "organize" this site, and we all speak to her..

    robert b. iadeluca
    November 15, 2006 - 04:56 am
    I sent an email to Marcie, asking her thoughts.


    kiwi lady
    November 15, 2006 - 03:58 pm
    Dorian, Mal's daughter says she is being moved in the near future to a nursing home so I am holding off my parcel til she notifys me of the new address because my mail will take about 10 days to get to Mal by air.


    Marcie Schwarz
    November 15, 2006 - 04:35 pm
    Thanks for the suggestion about a discussion in which to collect messages for Mal. We've created the discussion at: Let's send messages to Malryn

    robert b. iadeluca
    November 16, 2006 - 04:40 am
    Thank you very much, Marcie.


    November 18, 2006 - 05:43 pm
    Thank you all for being so thoughtful. Mal and I really appreciate it. I read her the posts in the "Let's send a message to Mal" folder over the phone yesterday. She was really surprised and pleased.

    Yes, Bubble, she would go crazy without books. I just sent her three from Amazon to my brother's house, I figured that would be the best way to get them to her. I am sure she will gobble them up quickly, with not much else to do.

    The good news is she sounds stronger as each day progresses.

    Take care, everyone,

    robert b. iadeluca
    November 18, 2006 - 06:02 pm
    Nice to hear from you, Dorian. Please continue to keep us up to date. And remind your mom that in two weeks (December 3rd) we will be starting the fifth volume of Story of Civilization -- Renaissance. I'm sure this will pique her interest.


    November 19, 2006 - 02:20 am
    Hi Dorian! Thanks or update.

    Robby, maybe Mal can get hold of a copy "Renaissance" and start reading it as well. There is lots of food for thought in there.

    robert b. iadeluca
    November 22, 2006 - 06:06 pm
    Stop whatever you are doing!! Click onto this AMAZING BIO OF DURANT and you will be mesmerized. You will never look at anything he wrote in the same way again.

    If you are thinking of participating in his "Renaissance," you absolutely must read this first. Scout up as many friends as you can to join us as we start his fifth volume on Sunday, December 3rd.


    Éloïse De Pelteau
    November 22, 2006 - 07:58 pm
    Yes Robby, I like this: "Less than any other man have I excuse for prejudice, and I feel for all faiths the warm sympathy of one who has come to learn that even the trust in reason is a precarious faith, and that we are all fragments of darkness groping for the sun. I know no more about the ultimates than the simplest urchin in the streets." If only those who think they know everything knew that and,

    "Durant embodied the two qualities that he once declared no philosophy or philosopher was complete without: understanding and forgiveness."

    November 22, 2006 - 08:53 pm
    Eloise: I had marked the same passage as you for quote. Perhaps we need to keep those in front of us as we continue.

    November 23, 2006 - 09:52 am
    Thanks for this biog of Durant! I am surprised that in spite of his socialist feelings and actions, and also his declared interest in historiography as being broad-based, he does not seem to have embraced Marxist historiography. By this, I mean that the economy of means of subsistence is the basis of social change.

    I love Spinoza too!

    November 24, 2006 - 03:29 am
    Dorian, I am very happy Mal is growing stronger.

    Eloise, what a positive quote from Durant. Thank you for putting it here. Robby, thank you for the bio of Durant.

    November 24, 2006 - 03:59 am
    The man was filled w/ contradictions, wasn't he? An atheistic priest? A socialist Catholic Church? A professor of everything - my dgt is a graduate of Seton Hall, wonderful university. A man constantly ahead of his time - in his seemingly non-prejudice against Jews at a time when almost everyone else was very prejudiced. A man talking of equality of races when the world was ready to explode into WWII and it's epitome of race-hatred. And so much more. The most amazing thing for me was how he had time to do everything he did? Do we know anything about his health? He must have had abundant energy and good health.

    Thank you also for the "gratitude" article in Book Nook, Robby.

    Looking forward to starting the Renaissance.......jean

    November 24, 2006 - 07:58 am
    Mabel: Re Durant’s health. In their “Autobiography,” the Durants’ speak of his nose bleeds, an indication of high blood pressure. Other than that (!), he was endowed with a vigorous constitution and abundant energy; every time bucks got low he ran around the country lecturing.

    Mallylee: Perhaps “Himself” didn’t embrace Marxism because it wasn’t all that intellectually popular or viable during his intellectual coming of age. In 1905, when he espoused Socialism, George Bernard Shaw and Bertrand Russell, among others, were devoted and articulate Socialists. I don’t think there were any public intellectuals in the United States around 1905 who were Marxists; they were either Socialists or Anarchists. Marxism didn’t become an acceptable or popular intellectual and ideological position until the 1930s in the United States, when the rise of labor unions and the depression forced many intellectuals to reevaluate their positions.

    As far as I know there are few respectable Marxism intellectuals in the United States at this time. One of them, Alexander Cockburn, is a columnist for the magazine, “Nation,” where he is fondly referred to by the other columnists as “The Last Marxist.” Alexander is the son of an Irish/English Marxist, Claud Cockburn. Claud, a radical journalist, influenced the British publications, “Private Eye,” and “National Guardian.” Alexander refers to himself as a “red diaper baby,” a term I find endearing.

    Did I miss who the “secret conspirator” was? Who was he/she?

    kiwi lady
    November 24, 2006 - 09:29 pm
    I was born into and lived in a country where for many years we had a socialist party. This party spent quite a lot of time in power. It is nothing like Marxism. I wish Americans would not keep mixing up socialism which is a democratic philosophy working in a multi party environment and Marxism which wants a one party state. We had one of the highest living standards in the world under our Socialist system and a wonderful education and healthcare system. Sweden has had a socialist system too for a long time. Socialism is something the very rich are scared of. They don't like the idea of sharing with their fellow man. Please don't knock socialism when you have never lived under the system.

    Under a centre right system we have dropped in our status in all things in the world. We have many more millionaires and at the same time many more paupers. I think I know what I am talking about.

    November 25, 2006 - 03:35 am
    Tooki, Kiwi, I really was wondering why Durant did not write his history as a Marxist historian. Not so much that he was some sort of communist politically.

    I have not been here unfortunately for me, for all of the discussions. However, from the little I have read, Durant seems to me to assume that historical change originates with persons and their ideas , rather than originating in the means of subsistence of whole populations, including the rulers with their power struggles.

    robert b. iadeluca
    November 25, 2006 - 05:27 am
    Mallylee:-That sentence in the heading which begins "Four elements..." tells us the approach that Durant takes in each of his volumes.


    Éloïse De Pelteau
    November 25, 2006 - 08:01 am
    Durant, the philosopher: "It is a mistake to think that the past is dead. Nothing that has ever happened is quite without influence at this moment. The present is merely the past rolled up and concentrated in this second of time. You, too, are your past; often your face is your autobiography; you are what you are because of what you have been; because of your heredity stretching back into forgotten generations; because of every element of environment that has affected you, every man or woman that has met you, every book that you have read, every experience that you have had; all these are accumulated in your memory, your body, your character, your soul. So with a city, a country, and a race; it is its past, and cannot be understood without it."

    Then nothing we think or do is new if I understand this, everything is a continuation of something that was there before and has left an indelible mark.

    November 25, 2006 - 09:44 am
    It’s easy to be baffled, if not confused, by the array of definitions of Communism, Socialism, Marxism, and, let’s throw in Capitalism.

    A couple of definitions indicate the scope of the problem. Here is a brief take on the subject from Whipedia.

    “Socialism refers to a broad array of doctrines or political movements that envisage a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to social control.[1] This control may be either direct—exercised through popular collectives such as workers' councils—or it may be indirect—exercised on behalf of the people by the state. As an economic system, socialism is often associated with state, community or worker ownership of the means of production. The modern socialist movement had its origin largely in the working class movement of the late-19th century. In this period, the term "socialism" was first used in connection with European social critics who condemned capitalism and private property. For Karl Marx, who helped establish and define the modern socialist movement, socialism implied the abolition of money, markets, capital, and labor as a commodity”

    I propose we take Durant at his word and assume by Socialist he meant well, that his sympathies were with the workers. .

    kiwi lady
    November 25, 2006 - 04:34 pm
    One interesting thing about our Socialist system was that home ownership was actively encouraged. The people on lower incomes got into good homes on a very low deposit with a State held mortgage of 3%. At the same time good rental homes ( very well built) were available to the very low income families. Rental was set to income. Health and education were important including state sponsorship in Trade training. That produced the best tradespeople we have ever had. They went on often to have their own businesses.

    I find it very interesting that the Politicians who got free University education, whose parents had low rentals in their state owned homes and who built up businesses from the said education now sit in Parliament on the far right advocating that the children now coming up should pay for their education. Kind of like - now I am rich I am not putting my taxes to benefit anyone else. By advocating user pays they got lower taxes. Meanwhile I and my husband and many others paid 50 cents in the dollar to educate these politicians. It is not surprising that I and many others of my generation are so cynical.

    Now I have said my piece I will shut up on the subject as I am doubtless making some people uncomfortable.

    November 25, 2006 - 05:27 pm
    Not me Kiwi Lady. Keep on. You are doing just fine.

    November 26, 2006 - 02:36 am
    Tooki that's what I thought he meant by socialist

    I propose we take Durant at his word and assume by Socialist he meant well, that his sympathies were with the workers.

    Robby you drew my attention to Durants foundation of civilisation sentence : I do see that he mentions the economic foundation, first among the others.I will look out for it in future readings. Thanks.

    The foundation of historical change is important because if we get it right, we can see why recent political moves come about.

    For instance, if historical change originates in economic forces, our invasion of Iraq was due to perceived need for oil.

    November 26, 2006 - 02:41 am
    Kiwi please keep on saying your piece if only because being made uncomfortable is what gets us doing some new thinking

    robert b. iadeluca
    November 26, 2006 - 05:04 am
    Remember, folks, we start "The Renaissance" one week from today, Sunday, December 3rd. I have been doing my job in preparing for that. Now it's time for you to do your job.

    Your job is to bring as many people as possible into this discussion. Each of you is in other discussion groups in addition to SofC. Tell them about Story of Civilization. TALK IT UP. Many people are afraid to join us because (in their own words) they are too stupid. They are afraid they would not "keep up with us" or understand what we are talking about.

    Explain to them that this is not a class. No one is graded at being any better or any worse than any other participant. Tell them about the FUN we have! Tell them about the links we use which make what we do so much more interesting than the history classes we had in school. Have them get the picture that we are just a group of folks sitting around in our cyber living room talking about ourselves -- which is exactly what Durant would want us to do. As the final sentence in the Heading says:-"This is about YOU." Pass along Durant's quote that Eloise gave to us in Post 1002.

    Let's have a whole horde of Senior Netters join us next Sunday morning!


    November 26, 2006 - 09:17 pm
    ROBBY - how about if, as GINGER did with your recent article, the above post is circulated throughout several (many ?) of the SN discussions, so other posters can read exactly what is going on in the SOC? I no longer participate here as often as I wish to, but I try to continue to read along with the posts and that gives me great pleasure. I can understand that new posters to SN might be a bit intimidated - after all you folks are extremely intelligent and it shows! - but then drawing newcomers into this discussion is one of the pleasures of sharing different thoughts, the diverse range of understanding one topic or point that Durant makes and whether that is accepted or not. My own personal experience has been like many others: I've found the SOC posters to be well informed, eager to share their ideas and impressions of what Durant wrote and what he REALLY means (which may not be always clear at first glance), and welcoming to newcomers. Individuals who have recently joined SN or those who have focused primarily on other discussions have a great treat in store when they come through the portal to this discussion. Thanks to all for many great moments!

    November 26, 2006 - 10:20 pm
    Does Historic Change originate in economic forces?

    Aristotle said, “Man is by nature a political animal.” He meant that man lives in a “Polis,” which gets translated as city/state, but was much more to the Greeks. A Polis was like a small town where citizens knew everybody’s business, took turns running the town, and fought in its wars.

    Carl von Clausewitz, Prussian military theorist, 1780-1831, wrote “On War,” one of the few books on military philosophy. In it he said, “War is a mere continuation of policy by other means.” (“On War” is used as a text in all the United States military academies and War Colleges.)

    If you agree with Aristotle and Clausewitz, or they are right, then all of mankind’s behavior is motivated by politics. If this is the case, then when politics do not achieve the desired goal, man goes to war.

    Thus historic change, including wars, originates in politics, not economics.

    kiwi lady
    November 26, 2006 - 11:08 pm
    My theory is that yes its politics but the politics mask the desire to possess something material. For instance mineral wealth. If you track all political reasoning back there will be some material thing behind it. Some country wants to make money from some asset another country owns.

    November 27, 2006 - 12:21 am
    Perhaps the most famous Polis of all, ancient Athens, came to be what it was largely because of its terrain,climate and position in the Mediterranean. The City State nursed the politicians and thinkers who would never had arisen to power without the peculiar situation in time and place.

    Kiwi I agree. I hope that the main religions can change the ancient tribalism that has been one of the ways that man has in the past preserved his bits of land, and increased his wealth. For instance, the universal message of Christ and others is now obviously the way ahead, for reasons of combating climate change and genocides

    November 27, 2006 - 02:24 am
    NOTE: My local PBS station (WETA in DC) is broadcasting a program on the Medicis this Wednesday. It's probably being broadcast in other areas as well. This may be a repeat? -- it seems to me they did one a few years ago, but if so, I didn't see it. If you didn't either, it might be a good way to get into the next book.

    robert b. iadeluca
    November 27, 2006 - 05:27 am
    The Medicis will be discussed in the coming volume, "The Renaissance."


    robert b. iadeluca
    November 27, 2006 - 06:17 am
    Is what Durant calls Renaissance and what a University of Chicago professor is calling ENLIGHTENMENT the same thing? And, if so, are we about to enter a volume where the topic of religion is as much in the forefront as in the previous volume?


    November 27, 2006 - 09:01 am
    To me the only reasons in which countries go to war is to gain power or wealth or both. I'm sure that politics does play a part as well as does religion, but I think these are only secondary in nature.

    November 27, 2006 - 02:43 pm
    to be the same. Perhaps we could say the the R is the "Mother" of the E, the rebirth of the classical knowledge led people to think more about the math and science and philosophical thinking that was known in Greece and Rome, which evolved into thinking based on "reason" and "facts" during the Enlightenment. The individuals who "created" during the R led to more thinking about the rights and lives of individuals rather than of the state and society.

    What dates is Durand giving to the R?.......jean

    kiwi lady
    November 27, 2006 - 04:29 pm
    I wish the super powers could be put in the place of a tiny nation for a year. I bet their thinking would change! Its a bit of a change to be the bullied and not the bully.

    November 27, 2006 - 06:49 pm
    Mabel1015j. Hi Jean. Durant has split the next period, ( 1300 - 1576 ) in to two volumes. One he calls "The Renaissance" and the other volume he calls " The Reformation".

    The first book deals almost exclusively with Italy( Petrarch to Titian) the next ( from 1300 - 1564,) the events in the rest of Europe including Russia, and the Islamic areas, and an update of the Jews in their dispersion throughout western, northern, and eastern Europe.

    So the next two volumes are devoted to the same period. +++ Trevor

    robert b. iadeluca
    November 28, 2006 - 03:57 am
    Are you talking up The Renaissance in your other discussion groups? The more people we have at the start, the more successful we will be. Let them know we begin this Sunday, December 3rd.


    Éloïse De Pelteau
    November 28, 2006 - 07:40 am
    I though Durant did not recognize the value of women enough in Story of Civilization, but:

    "Civilization came through two things chiefly: the home, which developed those social dispositions that form the psychological cement of society; and agriculture, which took man from his wandering life as hunter, herder, and killer, and settled him long enough in one place to let him build homes, schools, churches, colleges, universities, civilization.

    But it was woman who gave man agriculture and the home; she domesticated man as she had domesticated the sheep and the pig. Man is woman's last domestic animal, and perhaps he is the last creature that will be civilized by woman. The task is just begun."

    I wonder how much Durant would have accomplished if Ariel had not been there for him all those years.

    November 28, 2006 - 09:35 am
    There seems to be a current intellectual back lash about the value of mankind settling down, raising grain, and in the process, increasing the population. One such back lash book is, “Against the Grain,” by Richard Manning. He discusses “how agriculture has hijacked civilization.” His thesis is interesting and controversial.

    “This is a revisionist theory of agriculture, from the domestication of plants and animals ten thousand years ago to today’s mega farms. From the beginning this enterprise was expansionist and was the motor of colonization. In this expansionist, colonizing process agriculture overran indigenous peoples and species; pushed past the limits of arable land into the water, where we know have fish farms. The diet it produced, high-carb, sugar laden and monotonous, undermines mankind’s health. In short, agriculture has enslaved us.”

    A different view from Durant’s! The author purports to offer solutions, but he lives in Montana, on the proceeds of his books, and thinks building log cabins by hand and shooting buffalo on a buffalo farm are exciting and worthwhile endeavors. Since I have, blame it on my youth, engaged in both these activities, I think his solution, which is basically that’s how we should all live, stinks!

    I’m with Durant; these were astonishingly creative acts of domestication.

    kiwi lady
    November 28, 2006 - 09:55 am
    I myself think the way we live now is unnatural. We live in big cities mostly. We are isolated from our neighbours. We lack support. Resulting in unnatural practices like infanticide in larger numbers than we have seen before. Once children were cared for by the entire village. They still are in some primitive societies. There must be a better way to live! We think we are civilized but in a lot of ways we are very barbaric.

    November 28, 2006 - 01:39 pm
    but also saw this one from Durant

    "On Women Over Forty

    Once a woman of forty was old, decrepit, and trustworthy; today there is nothing more dangerous"

    Did Ariel see this in print? And did she have any influence on the quote being made? I didn't have that impression of their relationship, but maybe words speak truth????........jean

    November 28, 2006 - 02:23 pm
    Mabel, you must read the Durants Dual Autobiography." There are many copies available on Here is a reader's review to pique your curiosity even more. I read the book some time ago and remember it as being FULL of charming stories about their life together. After writing eleven very intellectual books, they had every reason to have some fun.

    An Amazon Reader's Review:

    "This is a very enjoyable book by Will & Ariel Durant who gave us a wonderful account of their fascinating lives together. In many respects, Will Durant was not only a great historian and philosopher, but also a great and gentle man who was fortunate to have the love and support of his outstanding wife, family, and a huge supporting cast of friends and colleagues. You'll learn about meetings with Einstein, debates with Clarence Darrow and Bertrand Russell, dinners with Charlie Chaplin and Will Rogers. From turn of the century New York and Greenwich Village, through both world wars, the Depression, you name it. These people lived through it and participated fully. The book is worth it just for the oppurtunity to see the world unfold through the eyes of a man who lived from 1885 to 1981.

    One thing that also impressed me throughout this book was the Durant's unwavering honesty about their evolving lifestyles, viewpoints, and beliefs over the course of their lives. They were among those rare people who fully understood where they were they were headed and never forgot where they'd been. They had the courage to face their own inconsistencies and doubts, and did it with style and grace as the decades, with all their incredible changes, flowed by. These were tireless people who loved life and humanity, and watched as humanity went from wagons to the moon.

    This book overflows with stellar intellect, endearing humility, and a couple's incredible love for each other during a marriage that lasted for 69 years. An awesome dual autobiography!

    November 28, 2006 - 02:40 pm
    this is now more like my field of interest and Tookie's review of the Durants joint autobiography is very inviting. see you. Claire

    Fifi le Beau
    November 28, 2006 - 02:57 pm
    Robby your link in #1014 to University of Chicano professor Richard Shweder on the "Enlightenment".

    Shweder has been spreading the alarm in articles far and wide about the new spate of books published on the fate of the latest gods to rear their heads. These come lately gods are a creation of middle east origin, the most recent being only 1300 years ago. That makes these middle east Arab gods babies in the god business.

    Shweder uses John Locke's argument for toleration during the 'Enlightenment' in an attempt to keep these non believers in the supernatural under control, and argues for their toleration of religion, when they themselves were never to be tolerated under any condition, according to Locke. Since they can no longer whisper in the King's ear and have them burned at the stake, writing in the New York Times will have to suffice.

    It's about time someone threw John Locke under the bus, and with the spate of new books like Sam Harris in "The End of Faith" and Richard Dawkins "The God Delusion" they are debunking the myths and bringing out the 'deceivers' who have been hiding behind 'secularism' as their cover to keep the myths alive, like Shweder does here.

    The 'deceivers' like Shweder do not believe in the myths either, but their goal is to use the 'myth' as they have for centuries to get in positions of power by using religion. They are now playing the Christians against the Islamists. They worship the two headed god... 'money and power' and their bible is Machiavelli and the 48 laws.

    Notice his use of the term 'billion Christians' and 'billion Islamics' with nay a mention of the creators of the 'myth'.

    He is a clever writer, but the 'myth busters' are on to his kind of deception that has been used since the 'Enlightenment' to keep the 'myth' alive at all costs. The cost of that effort has been in streams of blood. It is time for a new 'Enlightenment' this time with the 'myth makers' exposed as the frauds they have always been.


    November 28, 2006 - 03:33 pm
    The Story of Civilization 
    Durant, Will (1935). Our Oriental Heritage. New York: Simon and Schuster. 
    Durant, Will (1939). The Life of Greece. New York: Simon and Schuster. 
    Durant, Will (1944). Caesar and Christ. New York: Simon and Schuster. 
    Durant, Will (1950). The Age of Faith. New York: Simon and Schuster. 
    Durant, Will (1953). The Renaissance. New York: Simon and Schuster. 
    Durant, Will (1957). The Reformation. New York: Simon and Schuster. 
    Durant, Will, & Durant, Ariel (1961). The Age of Reason Begins. New York: Simon and Schuster. 
    Durant, Will, & Durant, Ariel (1963). The Age of Louis XIV. New York: Simon and Schuster. 
    Durant, Will, & Durant, Ariel (1965). The Age of Voltaire. New York: Simon and Schuster. 
    Durant, Will, & Durant, Ariel (1967). Rousseau and Revolution. New York: Simon and Schuster. 
    Durant, Will, & Durant, Ariel (1975). The Age of Napoleon. New York: Simon and Schuster. 

    November 28, 2006 - 09:54 pm
    In the 70's i read some interesting writing by Ivan Illich (Deschooling Society", "Medical Nemisis", "Tools for Conviviality", and wondered if he droipped off the face of the earth or whether he wrote more after that period. I havene't seen anything of him in recent times. However I liked his humanity and reasoned quiet approach to what I consider to be the current probelms surrounding us. Does anyone else rememeber these writings and have knowledge of other writings by him?

    robert b. iadeluca
    November 29, 2006 - 03:55 am
    Welcome from New Zealand, Ted. For many years Carolyn, also of New Zealand, was a regular participant in this discussion group and I hope to see you here when we start this coming Sunday (Eastern Time).


    November 29, 2006 - 04:38 am
    yes he was remarkable for doing so much in the 1970's to make school education more centred on the child as individual learner, rather than on a syllabus fed into the child from on high. He also advocated just the sort of thing we are doing on SeniorNet: meeting up with others who can satisfy curiosity and learning about our special interests.

    He has died of cancer

    November 29, 2006 - 08:21 am
    I'm not sure that going back to the way-it-was is really the answer, but certainly taking the ideas of the agricultural world and our own computer driven world and blending them together is of great importance. I truly believe that if our species is to survive that two things have to happen: we need to be aware of own health and the problems of animals which we depend on and we need to do what is necessary for the environment in order insure that our specie has a place to live. I think in order for this to happen we need both the know-how of the computer-generated age and the ideals of the agricultural life.

    kiwi lady
    November 29, 2006 - 11:34 am
    Ted what city are you from?


    November 30, 2006 - 06:55 am
    Early Astronomical ‘Computer’ Found to Be Technically Complex

    the Antikythera Mechanism

    November 30, 2006 - 07:41 am
    Bubble, My computer blocks anything from the NY Times, but I read that article this morning in my local paper. That ancient celestial computer is amazing.

    What captured my imagination was the statement that nothing that complex or sophisticated was,until now, believed developed until a thousand years later!

    Maybe the labels of "Dark Ages," "Renaissance," and "Enlightenment," are over simplifications for the history books, and civilization marches forward in cycles, sometimes up, sometimes down, but always forward.


    November 30, 2006 - 08:21 am
    We know the far past only from finds dismantled or ruined, or from old scripts. There is so much that has not been found yet or left no trace behind.

    This week on our local TV were pictures of the most beautiful, in excellent state of repair and the most extensive ever found mosaic floor, of what was the most antique church excavated. That is in Shiloh, one of the big towns mentionned in the Bible. An inscription inside the mosaic, in three languages, one of them ancient Greek, mentionned that Jesus had been on this site. The huge floor is signed -I hope I remember it right- Hyronimus. The colors are so vivid that I doubt they could reproduce that today.

    I am sure it will be mentionned in foreign news as well.

    November 30, 2006 - 02:41 pm
    and it's engineering was astounding to me. They had figured out an awful lot of sophisticated engineering of roads, viaducts and buildings, including the making of a "brick" that still holds up after 1000's of years and the concept is still used in many places. Just getting enough running water and working sewers for the cities' inhabitants is amazing and for the wealthy there was hot water. ..... i think we have underestimated many ancients, even when we knew on a superficial level what they had built and done.......jean

    November 30, 2006 - 03:04 pm
    When we can clearly see that the Romans built sewers, and water mains, water closets and taps two thousand years ago, it does not seem like some great thing when we learn that New York City did not do those things until 1850. My great grandpop on my mother;s side worked on the Croton Resevoir in NYC in 1830. He carried stone. In 1840 he worked building the water mains and by 1850 he was building the new NYC sewer system. Prior to 1850 there were 10,000 private wells in the city contaminated by the lack of adequate sewage.

    November 30, 2006 - 09:35 pm
    Christopher Tyerman has written a new book: "God's War: A new History of the Crusades."

    It is reviewed by Daniel Lazare in the current issue of "The Nation." II is a long review, since the book is as long as "Age of Faith." I thought some of you might be interested in comparing the two books. My view is that Durant gave as objective an account of the crusades as does Tyerman.

    The Crusades

    Rick - I can't stand it! Why does your computer block access to NYT?

    December 1, 2006 - 05:14 am
    Did anyone watch the series on The Medici on PBS? Although it was overdramatized, I found it extremely interesting. Two points especially -- the comparison between the rule by influential families in Florence in the R and Mafia rule in Scicily. And the relationship between politics and Art in Florence. Artists needed the patronage of the influential families. But the families also needed to patronize artists in order to become influential. In particular, the first powerful Medici, Cosimo, rose to become the leader of Florence by backing Brunelesci (sp?) in his completion of the famous dome of Florence's cathedral, a matter of great concern to the citizens, who felt their civic pride depended on it.

    robert b. iadeluca
    December 1, 2006 - 05:21 am
    At one time I was blocked from the NY Times after receiving it for years. Then I found that my browser had to be upgraded and now I have no problem.

    Are you folks talking up "Renaissance" to your SN friends? It begins the day after tomorrow.


    December 1, 2006 - 06:45 am
    Tooki, Your comment: "I can't stand it! Why does your computer block access to NYT?" I have no good answer. My last computer did the same thing. Now I have a branny new computer with new operating system, and it continues to reject NYT articles.

    I've even contacted the NY Times to ask their advice, and received a lot of information about spyware walls and cookies. I guess it's just one of life's burdens that I'll have to endure.


    December 1, 2006 - 07:03 am
    Pity, Rich. Since the NYT prides itself on printing, "All the news that's fit to print," you will have to be content with all the news that's unfit to print. However, we're lucky because Robby has access, and, avid reader that he is, provides us with news both fit and unfit! Cheers, you all!

    Rich, now go and read the long, long "The Nation" review. It will be good for you.

    December 1, 2006 - 05:59 pm
    the rest of the news is free. which articles are you looking at.

    December 2, 2006 - 12:29 am
    We live in Papakura. There is merit in your suggestion Scrawler. I grew up in an area without electricity until the early 1950's. We had radio after the war (mid 40's) and I built a crystal set which worked without batteries. One of the things that I was able to do for our son was get him onto a lambing beat when he was 13 and I think that has made him a better Father. One of the things that I feel our children missed out on was the hand milking of cows night and morning. It is a meditative period in the day and although my father didn't talk very much it was amazing when you look back on how much was learned in those times. It was how I learned of the changes to the sky and stars with the seasons and how to interpret the weather patterns, of when to rest areas and when to cut hay etc. Although I had a period when both our children were on my bicylce with me (one sitting sidesaddle on the bar and one in a seat behind me) and there were good conversations, once they started riding their own cylces those intimate conversations seemed to be lost. This period did not start at the same time in their lives and was over before those important education years came along. I think that today the opportunity for those conversations that I had with my father (which seemed very sparse at the time) (but were very significant in the way I have lived since) are no longer available to the parents of today. I feel that today the children are separated from the structured meditative time with their parents. It is almost as though there is a move to ensure such contact is non-existant. I think it is important for young men to be involved with birth and death prior to puberty so that they can become more human and thougthful in their dealings with others. Most modern literature, film etc seems to present a macho non-empathetic image of what it is to be a man, and I believe that we have lost that with not being reponsible for killing and dressing our meat and growing our vegetables and dealing with our needs in a humane and thougthful manner. The question is how can we help our granchildren to recover some of that thoughtfulness and ritualistic meaningful meditative discourse?

    December 2, 2006 - 12:36 am
    Rich7 and Tooki, I also like to look at the NYT but only get 2 weeks free access and so the opinion pieces are not available to me outside the times I can get a new free access. (Mean or frugal, take your pick) However generally if you get onto the reported page within a few ours of being posted I'm able to keep up with the important headlines. I also like to read Al Jazeera stories to balance the NYT. ( dont know if that is availabel in the US but I feel it is well worth the time to read. IN NZ I think our news systems are becoming very one sided in their reporting. The news sources are being swallowed up by very few conglomerates and although there is seemingly different editorial style the reportage of important events is very similar and not always as balanced as I expect.

    December 2, 2006 - 01:11 am
    Thak you for that information. Do you know when he died and if he wrote anything subsequent to those titles mentioned? I remember one item in Deschooling society where he likened the World Bank loan to Brazil for the motorway connecting Sao Paulo to Brazilia as being not the best way forward for Brazil and totally inappropriate. The people of Brazil would be a long time paying it back and that only a very small proportion of the population would ever have enough income to use it. He felt for that much money they could build a 6 foot wide road to connect every village in Brazil (using local labour and materials thus helping the local economy) and also provide each village with a mountain mule (a small 3 wheeled motorized cart) which would faclititate inter village trade and would really boost the local economy. Whereas the villagers who lived near the motorway could not afford to ride in a bus on the motorway and were seen as living in deprived circumstances when in fact prior to the motorway they had been very content in their deprived life style. Many of the villagers along the route of the motorway were displaced by the associated developement and were no longer able to live in their old ways and eventually migrated to the slums of Brazillia and Sao Paulo. (I may have the cities wrong but the essence is the same.)

    December 2, 2006 - 02:45 am
    Yes, Aljazeera is available in the US -- read it every night along with British News and El Mundo. Amazing how much goes on in the world that we don't hear about unless we subscribe to a number of publications.

    robert b. iadeluca
    December 2, 2006 - 04:08 am
    OK, folks. The moment is almost here. You have been idly chatting with each other about your own lives but chatting is about to come to an end. "Renaissance" begins tomorrow and we get down to brass tacks examining the lives of the people of that era.

    If you have not yet talked to your SN friends in the other discussion groups about this wonderful discussion, now is the time. TALK IT UP! The more people we have here, the greater the exchange.


    December 2, 2006 - 10:51 am

    December 2, 2006 - 03:03 pm
    Ted how sad! I did not know that about the Brazilian motorway. How is it that highly paid economists from the World Bank did not foresee this? Ivan Illich was right wasn't he. I hope that the World Bank people have learned now, The slums of the Brazilian cities are bad, with these poor street children being hounded and sometimes killed

    December 2, 2006 - 04:51 pm
    It's mid-day Sunday 3rd. I have just dug some new potatoes and planted out some lettuces and pricked out the next lot. So I'm able to take time for a siesta!!! (don't feel like a snooze yet) Renaissance! Does that mean "reBirth"? While there is a period of history (which I understand to be the 14th through the 16th centuries) I feel that there have been some very profound changes right through the history of human developement which could be called transforming periods when progress instead of being steady has been transformational or similar periods of rebirth. One of the probelms I have with the period of the 14-16th century was of the published thinkers failure to recognise the humanity of their less well endowed peers. I think that the new right of today is trying to re-establish that caste system of we the thinkers are rightful rulers and the peasantry and plebs are to be exploited/used to our own ends. While there were those of the period who were more humanitarian thinkers there was great simiolarity to to-days world. So what can we learn from those so called visionaries that are applicable to our present condition.

    robert b. iadeluca
    December 2, 2006 - 05:03 pm
    I'm glad you're with us, Ted, and be patient. In just a few hours Durant will tell us what he means by Renaissance.

    It's good that we are all champing at the bit. That will make a terrific exchange among us!


    December 2, 2006 - 05:23 pm
    "Among" is the right preposition. One may infer from that, that we will be more numerous than we were at the close of "Faith".

    December 2, 2006 - 07:04 pm
    Between two, among many. Who were just the two at the end of Faith, Justin?

    TEDF I also wish to welcome you to this discussion. Like Carolyn, I live in Auckland (Hillsborough) but spent my working years in Papatoetoe. I can relate to your childhood on a dairy farm, as that was my upbringing too. (Cambridge ) Then at a country store in BoP. ++ Trevor

    December 2, 2006 - 07:51 pm
    I can't get away with anything with you around, Trevor. We are having such an influx of New Zealanders in the Discussion, those of us from the States will be forced to learn something of your language peculiarities in order to cope. Ted I am vry happy to have you join us. I am a city boy who has never had a cold wet hand on an udder. You can tell me anything and I'll believe you.

    kiwi lady
    December 2, 2006 - 08:44 pm
    Ted F - re your comments about the new right. How true that is. I think of Jim Bolger when he left office saying that the new National Party was mean spirited. ( when they dropped the Universal super and sickness benefits etc by that $20 a week.) If you ask me the right is moving over the globe. Its a case of laissez faire arising again. Watch out for Keys - He is a wolf in sheeps clothing!

    December 2, 2006 - 09:39 pm
    It is time to move to Story of Civilization ~ Volume V, Part 1.

    This discussion is now Read Only.