Saturday, June 7, 2014

"Ah dearest [Maid], what euill starre | On you hath fround, and pourd his influence bad, | That of your selfe ye thus berobbed are"?

    . . . Ah dearest [Maid], what euill starre
   On you hath fround, and pourd his influence bad,
   That of your selfe ye thus berobbed are,
And this misseeming hew your [love]ly looks doth marre?

     Edmund Spenser, The faerie queene I.viii.42.  Adapted to the anorexic supermodel from

   . . . Ah dearest Lord, what euill starre
   On you hath fround, and pourd his influence bad,
   That of your selfe ye thus berobbed are,
And this misseeming hew your manly looks doth marre?

     Lady Una to her Redcrosse Knight at the point that he emerges, extremely emaciated, from a long imprisonment.
     The French model and actress Isabelle Caro is widely thought to have died of complications consequent upon anorexia nervosa.

Isabelle Caro

"True Loues are often sown, but seldom grow on ground."

   O happy Queene of Faeries, that hast found
   Mongst many, one that with his prowesse may
   Defend thine honour, and thy foes confound:
True Loues are often sown, but seldom grow on ground.

     Lady Una to Prince Arthur, in Edmund Spenser's The faerie queene I.ix.16. 

"there may be sin in the knowledge of certain truths, in so far as the desire of such knowledge is not directed in due manner to the knowledge of the sovereign truth, wherein supreme happiness consists."

"potest esse vitium in cognitione aliquorum verorum, secundum quod talis appetitus non debito modo ordinatur ad cognitionem summae veritatis, in qua consistit summa felicitas."

     Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae 1.
     I was reminded of this by Gregory Pine, O.P., "This post might kill you:  blogs and curiosity," First things, 3 June 2014.

Of ants, shrimp, and men

"no vertebrate brain can match the compactness of an ant's, and no vertebrate nerves can match the almost supersonic speed (210 meters per second) of conduction that Kusano et al. have measured in the humble Kuruma shrimp."

     Oliver Sacks responding to a letter from Stuart J. Edelstein of the École Normale Supérieure, The New York review of books 61, no. 10 (June 5, 2014):  76.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

"We now live, if you stand fast in the Lord"

     "Blessed Barlaam has called us together to this holy festival and feast-day, not so that we might praise him, but so that we might emulate him; not so that we might become an audience for his praises, but so that we might become imitators of his achievements.  Whereas, in worldly matters those who ascend to the great magistracies would never choose to see others share in the same precedencefor there jealousy and envy disrupt affectionin the case of spiritual matters it isn't like this, but entirely the opposite.  For the martyrs gain a sense of their own honor above all when they see that their fellow servants have outstripped them in sharing their particular blessings.  In consequence, if someone wants to praise martyrs, let them imitate martyrs.  If someone wants to extol the athletes of piety, let them emulate their hard work.  This will bring the martyrs pleasure no less than their own achievements.  Indeed, that you may learn that they sense their own blessings above all when they see that we are secure, and consider the matter an extremely great honor, hear Paul, who says:  'Now we are alive, if you're standing in the Lord' (1 Thess 3.8)."

     John Chrysostom, "On Saint Barlaam," St. John Chrysostom:  The cult of the saints:  select homilies and letters introduced, translated, and annotated by Wendy Mayer, with Bronwen Neil, Popular patristics series, ed. John Behr (Crestwood, NY:  St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2006), 179-180 (177-189).

"Information literacy" in 1725

“In the use of the [library] it is not sufficient that someone be thus handed the book, but [rather that] he is able to secure precisely that book which agrees with his capacity and from which, depending upon the nature of his studies, he can get the most use.  To this end, must the historia litteraria of the book, the use and virtue and finally modus excerpendi [(mode of excerpting) from it] be taught.  [And] finally, how [the student actually] uses it and what he excerpts from it [must] also be examined.  Which is one of the soundest [(reelsten)] and most useful things for [the attainment of] learning, of which there is for the most part a lack in beginners, who wander around at universities or else in public libraries [(und sonst in publiquen bibliothequen) for] many years before they learn to recognize without being led by the hand [(ohne Handleitung)] the books and how to use them [(die Bücher und den Gebrauch derselben)].”

     Royal Joachimsthal Gymnasium librarian Jacob Elsner in March of 1725, as quoted in Christian Ritzi, "Bibliotheca Joachima:  zur Funktion von Gymnasialbibliotheken im Wandel der Zeit," in Das Joachimsthalsche Gymnasium:  Beiträge zum Aufstieg und Niedergang der Fürstenschule der Hohenzollern, ed. Jonas Flöter & Christian Ritzi (Bad Heilbrunn:  Verlag Julius Klinkhardt, 2009), 264 (261-294).  Ritzi is himself quoting Friedrich Carl Köpke, Geschichte der Bibliothek des Königl. Joachimsthalschen Gymnasiums nebst einigen Beilagen:  Beilage zum Jahresbericht des Königl. Joachimsthalschen Gymnasiums Ostern 1830 bis Ostern 1831 (Berlin:  1831), 9.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Aquinas on Chrysostom's Homilies on Matthew

"once, [when Thomas was] coming with his students from Saint Denis, to which he had gone to visit the relics of the saints and that holy collegium of monks, and [given that] he would have seen the Parisian city up close, [his] students, expecting [(credentes)] to hear from him some word of edification, said to him:  'Master, look [(pAI2P)]!  What [(AFS)] a beautiful city [(NFS)] is Paris!  Would you like to be lord of this city?'  He responded:  'I would with greater pleasure prefer [(Libentius uellem)] to have the Homilies of Chrysostom on the Gospel of Saint Matthew.  For this city, if it were mine, would, on account of the care[s] associated with governance, take from me the contemplation of divine things, and prevent the consolation of soul.'"

"semel ueniens de sancto Dyonisio cum suis studentibus,  quo iuerat sanctorum reliquias et sanctum illud monachorum collegium uisitare, et uidisset de propinquo ciuitatem Parisiensem, dixerunt ei studentes:  'Magister, uidete quam pulchra ciuitas est Parisius!  Velletis esse dominus huius ciuitatis?', credentes ab eo aliquod uerbum edificationis audire.  Qui respondit:  'Libentius uellem habere Omelias Chrisostomi super Euangelium beati Mathei.  Ciuitas enim hec si esset mea, propter curam regiminis contemplationem michi diuinorum eriperet et consolationem animi impediret.'"

     William of Tocco, Ystoria sancti Thome de Aquino 42 ("Quod predictus doctor fuit rerum temporalium et honorum contemptiuus")Ystoria sancti Thome de Aquino de Guillaume de Tocco (1323):  édition critique, introduction et notes, ed. Claire le Brun-Gouanvic, Studies and texts 127 (Toronto:  Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1996), 172 (171-173).  Cf. the 1911 edition ed. Prümmer.
     From the notes provided at this point by Le Brun-Gouanvic:  "De quo dicitur:  Cf. Naples [(Processus canonizationis S.Thomae Neapoli, ed. Laurent, Fontes vitae sancti Thomae Aquinatis 4), p.] 56 (Anthony of Bresica); Naples 78:  Bartholomew of Capua specifies that this anecdote, well-known in Paris, was recounted to him by Brother Nicholas of Mallesort, of Naples, counselor of the King of France, and ambassador of this latter to Charles II of Anjou.  Walz-Novarina ([Saint Thomas d'Aquin (Louvain & Paris, 1962,] p. 170) situates this episode during the second sojourn in Paris.  Foster ([The life of Saint Thomas Aquinas:  biographical documents (London & Baltimore, 1959),] p. 76, note 81) observes that the escort of St. Thomas would not have to have been composed exclusively of Dominicans, nor even of religious, for St. Thomas enjoyed a great popularity with the Faculty of Arts, as the celebrated letter composed at his death shows."  And "Magister . . . impediret:  the dialogue is livelier in the mouth of Bartholomew of Capua.  To the question of St. Thomas:  'Quid facerem ego de ipsa?', a brother responds:  'Venderetis eam regi Francie et de pecunia edificaretis Omnia loca fratrum Predicatorum.'"

"one day, while returning with some students to Paris from a visit to the relics at Saint Denis, as they drew near the city the students said to him, 'Look, Master, what a fine city Paris is!  Wouldn't you like to be the lord of it?'  To tell the truth they expected an edifying answer, and they got one.  'I would rather,' replied Thomas, 'have Chrysostom on Matthew.  If I had to concern myself with Paris, I should lack time for contemplation; it would interfere with the study of Scripture, which gives me such joy.  Besides, it would be dangerous; the more desire for this sort of thing, the less for heaven.'"

     Bernard Gui, Life of St. Thomas Aquinas, chap. 34; The life of Saint Thomas Aquinas:  biographical documents, trans. & ed. Kenelm Foster, O. P. (London:  Longmans, Green and Co.; Baltimore:  Helicon Press, 1959), 52.  76n81:  "Tocco, c. 42.  Calo, c. 23Canonisation Enquiry, LXXVIII.  Walz, pp. 132-3, places this incident in the saint's last period at Paris, 1269-72.  The 'students' with whom St. Thomas made the outing to St. Denis were not necessarily all Dominicans, nor even 'religious'.  We know that he was popular in the faculty of Arts; see Section V."

     "Once Thomas was returning to Paris from St. Denis with a number of brethren, and when the city came into view they sat down to rest a while.  And one of the company, turning to Thomas, said:  'Father, what a fine city Paris is!'  'Very fine,' answered Thomas.  I wish it were yours,' said the other; to which Thomas replied, 'Why, what would I do with it?'  'You would sell it to the king of France, and with the money you would build houses for Friar Preachers.'  'Well,' said Thomas, 'I would rather have Chrysostom on Matthew.'  This story, the witness said, he had fromamong othersbrother Nicholas Malasorte of Naples, who had been an advisor to the French king and a particular friend and pupil of his own; he told it when he came on a mission from the same king of France to King Charles II of noble memory . . . ; saying that it was well known in Paris."

     First Canonization Inquiry 78, Archbishop's Palace, Naples, 21 July-18 September 1319; Ibid., 108-109.  124n72:  "the first King of France must, then, be Philip the Fair, 1285-1314."

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Feast of the Ascension

To where you, glorified, have ascended,
—To that place you, now leading the way, may we follow in mind and heart.

Quo tu ascendisti glorificatus,
—illuc te nunc prævium mente sequamur et corde.

"Where you have gone before us in glory,
may we follow you in mind and heart."

     From the Intercessions for the Feast of the Ascension, Liturgy of the hours.

"He has not said we rejoice, but 'we live,' the life to come", "life indeed".

"he has not said, we breathe again, nor we are comforted, but what?  'Now we live,' showing that he thinks nothing is either trial or death, but their stumbling, whereas their advancement was even life [(ὄπου γε καὶ ζωὴν τὴν ἐκείνων προκοπήν)]. How else could any one have set forth either the sorrow for the weakness of one’s disciples, or the joy?  He has not said we rejoice, but 'we live,' the life to come [(ζωὴν λέγων τὴν μέλουσαν)]."

οὐκ εἶπεν, ἀνεπνεύσαμεν, οὐδὲ, παρεμυθήθημεν·  ἀλλὰ τί; Νῦν ζῶμεν·  δεικνὺς ὅτι καὶ πειρασμὸν καὶ θάνατον οὐδὲν ἄλλο ἡγεῖται, ἢ τὸ σκάνδαλον τὸ ἐκείνων, ὄπου γε καὶ ζωὴν τὴν ἐκείνων προκοπήν.  Πῶς ἄν ἄλλος τις ἢ τὴν λύπην τὴν ἐπί τῇ τῶν μαθητῶν ἀσθενείᾳ, ἢ τὴν καρὰν ἐδήλωσεν; Οὐκ εἶπε, χαίρομεν, ἀλλὰ Ζῶμεν, ζωὴν λέγων τὴν μέλουσαν.

     John Chrysostom, Homily 4 on 1 Thessalonians, at 1 Thess 3:8 ("for now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord"), as trans. Broadus.  =PG 62, col. 418.
     "The ptc. of μέλλω is used abs. in the mng. future, to come", with a wide variety of nouns, and not infrequently by contrast with opposites like "this" or "now" (BAGD, 501, citing Mt 12:32 ("either in this age or in the age to come [(οὔτε ἐν τούτῳ τῷ αἰῶνι οὔτε ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι)]"); Eph 1:21 ("not only in this age but also in that which is to come [(οὐ μόνον ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι)]"); 2 Clement 6:3 ("the world that is, and the world to come [(οὗτος ὁ αἰὼν καὶ ὁ μέλλων)]"); Barnabas 4:1 ("the things which now are, and . . . those which are able to save us"); 1 Tim 4:8; ("for the present life and also for the life to come [(ζωῆς τῆς νῦν καὶ τῆς μελλούσης)]"); 2 Clement 20:2 ("the life which now is, . . . that which is to come [(τῷ νῦν βίῳ, . . . τῷ μέλλοντι)]"); and so forth)).
     To me it seems likely that Chrysostom introduces μέλουσαν in order to set up a play on precisely this traditional contrast; precisely, that is, in order to introduce the latter into the former in such a way as to make it clear that the life Paul experiences in the "now" ("for now we live") as a consequence of the proclamation of the exceedingly good news of Thessalonian fidelity (1 Thess 3:1-10) is in fact "the life to come".
     This does not mean that Chrysostom has gone to the lengths that the Franciscan Béda Rigaux (Saint Paul:  les épitres aux Thessaloniciens, Études bibliques (Paris:  Librairie Lecoffre; Gembloux:  Éditions J. Duculot, 1956), 480) seems to want to accuse him of having gone.  For surely it is possible to experience in the "now" the life "to come" without experiencing it in some sense definitively.  Indeed, surely Chrysostom, too, is pitching his tent somewhere in between, rather than at the first of the two extremes ("Il ne s'agit point de [1] la vie éternelle (Chrysostome . . .), mais ce n'est pas non plus [2] simple figure de rhétorique"), if closer to the former than Rigaux and most other modern commentators would.  (And note also the range of possibilities across which, in context, the Chrysostomic commentary extends:  "feel nothing of"; "were comforted", "confirmed", "anointed"; "caused us to breathe again"; "not suffered us to feel"; "further softening the expression"; etc.)