"I want to know what were the steps by which man passed from barbarism to civilization." (Voltaire)
"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."
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.
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"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?
Secret? It's my humility.
"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."
"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?
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?
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.
"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?
INDEPENDENCE DAY, 2006
"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
"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?
"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?
"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.
"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?
What are your thoughts on all this, folks?
"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."
"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?
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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?
"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?
"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."
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!!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
"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?
I Timothy 6:10
Please note -- it is the "love" of it, not the money itself which is evil.
"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."
"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?
Is it ethical to "tax people into poverty" for the "greater good" of creating magnificent art?
"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."
Should I have narrowed my question down to a "just" battle?
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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
"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?
"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?
And then I find myself wondering if we humans have learned anything. As the question in the Heading asks:-"Where are we headed?
"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?"
"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."
"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?
"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?
"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."
"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?
"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."
"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?
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?
" I am not the same person I was five years ago due in many ways to this discussion group."
"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?
Will someone please tell me why the educational level of Jews, in general, is higher than the average -- or am I again stereotyping?
"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.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?
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."
"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?
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
You are right, Tooki. We will be arriving at the chapter on Abelard in a couple of days.
"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."
"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?
"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."
This sentence from the Foreward of Abelard's book cheers me up greatly! My life is happier than I thought it was.
"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.
"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."
"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?
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."
"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."
"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?
"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.
"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?
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?
"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?"
"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.
"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."
"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 thee...in 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?
'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.'"
"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."
"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.
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.
"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?
"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.
"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.
"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.
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.
"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?
"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?"
"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?
"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!
"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?"
"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.
"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?
"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."
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.
"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."
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.
"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!
"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?
"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?
"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?
"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?
"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?
"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."
"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.'"
"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.
"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?
"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."
"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?
"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?
"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?
"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.
"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?
"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!
"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."
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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?
"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."
"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."
"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?"
Those of you who have been lurkers, I hope that the topic of romance will bring out some of your comments.
"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."
"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."
"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?
"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?
"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?
"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?
Lyric poetry influenced by the Arabs?
"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.
"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."
"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.
"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."
"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."
"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?
"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."
"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?
"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?
"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?
"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!"
"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."
"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.
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.
"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.
"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?
Where on this earth at the moment is the "adventure of reason?" Are we all conformists?
"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."
"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.
"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?
"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?
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.
"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.
I am thinking of forming a Learning Center in my area but that would take at least a year.
"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?"
"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.
"THANK YOU AGAIN, FRIEND READER."
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. Robby
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.
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.”
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,
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.
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!
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.
Are you folks talking up "Renaissance" to your SN friends? It begins the day after tomorrow.
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.
It's good that we are all champing at the bit. That will make a terrific exchange among us!