Briefly noted for The March for Science: in the margins, a little faith, a little reason, a little unclarity

 

This morning, the British Library tweeted that a manuscript of Henry of Huntington’s Historia AnglorumArundel MS 48, had just been digitized, so, rather than get into some real writing, I took a brief tour. Among its many treasures (so many marginal faces!), including a cute little miter, I found this bit, where Brutus seeks an omen from Diana about his future. Here’s a 19th-century edition of the Latin, if you like.

You’ll notice, however, that a much later commentator has issues. Earlier, they had complained about the avarice of contemporary clerics; here, they write ‘de veritate huius, doctores dubita[n]t’, ‘about the truth of this, theologians/scholars/teachers doubt.’ Of course Brutus didn’t hear from a sylvan goddess about his future passage to Britain! That’d be absurd!

But then, in response to ‘cui dea respondit’ [to whom the goddess responded], that is, Diana’s answer to Brutus’ supplication, our same commentator sniffingly intervenes, ‘cui diabolus respondit,’ ‘to whom the devil responds.’

I’m reminded, as I’m sure you are, of François Hédelin, whose 1627 treatise, Des satyres, brutes, monstres et démons, takes up the question of the famous talking satyr from Jerome’s Life of Saint Paul, the First Hermit. It’s perhaps a hard story to believe. Jerome himself offered proof, namely, that the corpse was sent along, salted, to the emperor in Antioch [postea cadauer exanime, ne calore aestatis dissiparetur, sale infusum et Antiochiam, ut ab Imperatore uideretur, adlatum est]. The skeptical and scientific Hédelin, however, insists that Constantine was already dead, so clearly this was impossible. And, anyway, the corpse must have been a monkey.

As for the talking satyr? Obviously a demon.

Sovereignty and Salvation in the Vernacular, 1050-1150, James A. Schultz

3537067The various uses of GEWALT, which stands out because of Derrida’s commentary on Benjamin’s “Zur Kritik der Gewalt.” Most notably, it appears in the earliest version of Das Ezzoleid, where God creates man according to his own image “so that he might hold power” (“taz er gewalt habete”) and then there’s a reference to human eternal life. Given my arguments elsewhere about the relations between violence and human uniqueness, Ezzo’s order here stands out (it’s not duplicated, by the way, in the latter Ezzoleid (where the gewalt is God’s, not man’s).

The peculiar microcosm in Ezzoleid II, where human hair made from grass, sweat from dew, blood vessels from roots, blood from sea, mind from clouds, eyes from sun, flesh from clay, bones from rock, which reminds me of the Norse creation of the world from the corpse of Ymir (see the hilarious discussion here, which calls for equal attention to Norse Creation Science in the classroom: key quote, “For those of you not familiar with this venerable theory of creation, it states that the world as we see it is made up of the fragments of the dead giant Ymir–his blood forms the oceans, his shattered bones the mountains and rocks, his skullcap the sky above, and levitating fragments of his brain tissue form the clouds.”: the connection is, I think, pretty obvious, although I imagine it’s already been covered in the German scholarship, which is, sadly, unreadable by me).

Christ teaching “worten mit werchen,” which corresponds to the “verbo et docere” (by word and deed) that I thought was typical of 12th-century Christianity; here it’s about 50 years earlier, which means I should check Bynum’s book….if I were interested.

The very military Christ throughout all poems in this book. Thus Christ is called a Herzog, a military leader. Or, in Das Annoleid, “through baptism we become Christ’s vassals / We must love our lord,” which sounds less like Christianity than a guide on proper secular behavior for nobles. And, although the Annoleid opens by decrying the love of secular narratives (in fact, another witness says Bishop Anno–a fighting bishop who, when exiled from Cologne, won it back by conquest, killing hundreds–loved hearing tales about Attila), it devotes several loving stanzas to battle.

The peculiar microcosm, apparently from Eriugena, in which humans are “count[ed] as part of the third world,” since they are made of body and spirit.

The rewriting of the end of the Roman Republic to give Germanic tribes the key role: without the Saxons, Bavarians, Swabians, and Thuringians, Caesar would never have won the battle of Pharsalus. The observation that since Bavarians come from Armenia, it’s certain that somewhere in India, a people still speak German. The association between Saxons, treachery, and secret knives, which I recall from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain.

Semiramis’s construction of Babylon by repurposing old tiles, originally made by giants for the tower of Babel.

Alexander the Great’s fear at his glimpse of mermen (“half visc half man”) while rolling about on the ocean floor in a glass ball.

Anno’s vision of heaven, which I’ve never seen anthologized with such visions.

The Anno-cursing knight Arnold, whose left eye “ran out of his face like water” and whose “right eye squired out of him / far away like a shot.”

The account of Caesar’s census in Die Kaiserchronik, which is instituted to return people to their own lords: “one day, so the book tells us, / he ordered more than 30,000 / foreigners, men and women, / to be slain.”

Das Lob Salomens, which tells of the construction of the temple and Sheba’s visit. Salomon, having captured a dragon, is taught by it how to construct the temple without iron: find and kill an animal in Lebanon whose veins can cut stone