The Real Charlie

Friday, February 7, AD 2014

Remarkable.  The bones of Charlemagne at Aachen are likely his real bones:

 

The relics of Charlemagne, long on display at a treasury in Germany, are likely the real bones of the Frankish king, scientists say.

Last Tuesday (Jan. 28) marked exactly 1,200 years since Charlemagne died in A.D. 814. To commemorate the occasion, a group of scientists at the Cathedral of Aachen gave a summary of the research that has been conducted on the king’s bones, stretching back to 1988.

Go here to read the rest.

Charlemagne.  He found the crown of the Roman emperors lying in the gutter of time, and by his efforts, against the odds, restored, in alliance with the popes, a Western Empire.  Charlemagne laid the foundation that allowed Catholic Europe to survive the siege by Islam and to ultimately defeat the Vikings through conversion.  In his reign Western Europe began waking from the long night described by Chesterton:

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6 Responses to The Real Charlie

  • In France, Charlemagne is widely venerated as a saint. The Maid, on recalls, on the testimony of her companion Dunois, attributed the relief of Orléans to the intercession of St Charlemagne and St Louis.

    Charlemagne was canonized by Pascal III in 1165, possibly to please the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Unfortunately, Pascal was an anti-pope! However, Charlemagne’s cultus has been permitted in many dioceses, both in France and Germany for over a millennium, so he can properly be considered “Blessed.” At least, Pope Benedict XIV thought so, but that great and cautious canonist added that he was expressing his opinion as a private doctor – But what a doctor! There has been no greater canonist than Prospero Lambertini.

    Dom Prosper Guéranger, the great abbot of Solesmes, composed a prayer to Charlemagne, saluting him as “beloved of God, Apostle of Christ, rampart of His Church, protector of justice, guardian of morals and terror of the enemies of the Christian name”; with a pardonable touch of patriotism, it includes the petition, “Protect with a special love France, the most splendid flower of your splendid crown [le plus riche fleuron de votre splendide couronne]. Show that you are always her king and her father. Put an end to the progress of the false empires that have raised themselves in the North on foundations of schism and heresy, and never permit the peoples of the Holy Empire to fall prey to them.”

  • “Thus for Charlemagne and Roland my attentive gaze followed them both, as one’s eye follows his falcon in its flight.” Dante Paradiso 18.43-45.

    The eagle, symbolic of the Roman Empire then the HRE , was seen as a force to defend and advance Christianity. And, I think, Dante viewed the Empire as being “friendly” to Florence and his faction.

  • Dante believed that the problems of Italy could be solved by a unified government under a strong emperor. He was woefully disappointed in his lifetime as imperial power was definitely on the wane in Italy. I have often wondered what he would have made of the sawdust Caesar Mussolini.

  • I had a schoolmaster – he had served in both World Wars – who was firmly convinced that the wars of the 20th century were a direct result of the Treaty of Verdun in 843, when the domains of Charlemagne were partitioned amongst the three sons of Louis the Pious. Louis the German received Germany, Charles the Bald, France and Lothair the middle strip of land, including modern Belgium, Alsace, Lorraine, Burgundy and Italy – The Middle Frankish Kingdom.

    Imperial involvement in Italy, from the time of Frederick Barbarossa (the great-uncle, by the by, of St Thomas Aquinas), the quarrels of Guelphs (the papal party) and Ghibellines (the imperial party), the Habsburg-Valois rivalry that was fought out in Italy was the great destabilising factor in European history – the French and Austrians were still fighting each other there in the battles of Solferino and Magenta in 1859.

    His theory does have a sort of quirky logic

  • Considering the Dark Ages from which most of Western Europe was not yet emerged, the Reign of Charlemagne was brilliant, much like emerging from a dark tunnel into immediate sunlight. It also revealed the fruit of the hard laborare et orare of the Gregorian Reform [This reform was Pope St Gregory the Great’s] which synthesized Augustinian theology and Benedictine monasticism. The Benedictine monk, Alcuin was constantly at the side of Charlemagne counseling and setting up the ‘new civilization’s’ Liturgy [Gallo-Roman Liturgy], language {Latin among the educated and officials], education and aesthetics.

    Aragon, the heir of Isuldur, who returned to his throne after a long absence of rightful kings in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings certainly is at least partly based on Charlemagne as well as the Arthurian legends. The difference between Arthur and Charlemagne is that Charlemagne lived, and is a real historical figure.

    I would concur with MPS’ comments about Western European history in many ways being the direct result of the Treaty of Verdun in 843, just as I believe this history of Western Civilization is directly marked by the Emperor Diocletian’s dividing the Roman Empire in two around 300 AD to be confirmed by Constantine making old Byzantium into the new Capital of the Eastern Roman Empire in Constantinople [City of Constantine]. I was watching the heir of the Eastern Roman Emperors declare the Olympic Games open last night on television.

  • Botolph

    Alcuin of York was an excellent poet. I hope Donald will pardon me for reproducing one of his sonnets, with Helen Waddell’s translation. It is the equal of anything written in the Silver Age and brings the man to life, across the gap of twelve centuries. One can understand that plaintive letter to his brethren in York, “Malo vocem lectoris in ædibus tuis quan turba ridentium in scalis” [I prefer the voice of the reader in your house to the laughing throng on the stairs] Life at court, and as a prime minister at that, must have been a trial to him at times.

    De Luscinia

    QUAE te dextra mihi rapuit, luscinia, ruscis,
    ilia meæ fuerat invida laetitiæ.
    tu mea dulcisonis implesti pectora musis,
    atque animum moestum carmine mellifluo.
    qua propter veniant volucrum simul undique cœtus
    carmine te mecum plangere Pierio.
    spreta colore tamen fueras non spreta canendo.
    lata sub angusto gutture vox sonuit,
    dulce melos iterans vario modulamine Musæ,
    atque creatorem semper in ore canens.
    noctibus in furvis nusquam cessavit ab odis,
    vox veneranda sacris, o decus atque decor,
    quid mirum, cherubim, seraphim si voce tonantem
    perpctua laudent, dum tua sic potuit?

    Written for his lost nightingale

    WHOEVER stole you from that bush of broom,
    I think he envied me my happiness, O little nightingale, for many a time
    You lightened my sad heart from its distress,
    And flooded my whole soul with melody.
    And I would have the other birds all come,
    And sing along with me thy threnody.
    So brown and dim that little body was.
    But none could scorn thy singing. In that throat
    That tiny throat, what depth of harmony,
    And all night long ringing thy changing note.
    What marvel if the cherubim in heaven
    Continually do praise Him, when to thee,
    O small and happy, such a grace was given?

Feast Day of the Angelic Doctor

Monday, January 28, AD 2013

 

As a highly Pagan poet said to me: “The Reformation happened because people hadn’t the brains to understand Aquinas.” The Church is more immortally important than the State; but the State has its rights, for all that. This Christian duality had always been implicit, as in Christ’s distinction between God and Caesar, or the dogmatic distinction between the natures of Christ.
But St. Thomas has the glory of having seized this double thread as the clue to a thousand things; and thereby created the only creed in which the saints can be sane. It presents itself chiefly, perhaps, to the modern world as the only creed in which the poets can be sane. For there is nobody now to settle the Manichees; and all culture is infected with a faint unclean sense that Nature and all things behind us and below us are bad; that there is only praise to the highbrow in the height. St. Thomas exalted God without lowering Man; he exalted Man without lowering Nature. Therefore, he made a cosmos of common sense; terra viventium; a land of the living.
His philosophy, like his theology, is that of common sense.
He does not torture the brain with desperate attempts to explain existence by explaining it away. The first steps of his mind are the first steps of any honest mind; just as the first virtues of his creed could be those of any honest peasant.

G.K. Chesterton

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12 Responses to Feast Day of the Angelic Doctor

  • It is worth recalling Etienne Gilson’s comments on Chesterton’s biography of St Thomas.

    “I consider it as being without possible comparison the best book ever written on St. Thomas. Nothing short of genius can account for such an achievement. Everybody will no doubt admit that it is a “clever” book, but the few readers who have spent twenty or thirty years in studying St. Thomas Aquinas, and who, perhaps, have themselves published two or three volumes on the subject, cannot fail to perceive that the so-called “wit” of Chesterton has put their scholarship to shame. He has guessed all that which they had tried to demonstrate, and he has said all that which they were more or less clumsily attempting to express in academic formulas. “

  • Pingback: My Three Favorite Stories from the Life of St Thomas Aquinas | Big Pulpit
  • I have started Etienne Gilson’s Elements of Christian Philosophy. I will admit that it has been on the shelf for awhile. Just couldn’t get past the first chapter. Then, as a lark, I read it out loud. Ah, what a difference. Maybe I’ll try the same with Mr. Chesterton’s treatment of the Angelic Doctor. It’s been sitting awhile, too.

    Wasn’t it Stacy Trasancos that sighed longing for a relationship with the Catholic religion that went beyond the bookshelf?

  • One philosophic error of Aquinas, contrary to Chesterton, seems to be that he exhalted man while lowering God. Or that he at least opened the back door to humanism.

  • Not at all. Aquinas believed that God gave us our intellects by which we could understand much about Him. However he also understood that the human mind could never hope to entirely fathom God and that what the mind cannot understand the human heart often can. Near the end of his life Thomas had a mystical experience and stopped writing. He explained it to one of his fellow Dominicans:

    “I adjure you by the living almighty God, and by the faith you have in our order, and by charity that you strictly promise me you will never reveal in my lifetime what I tell you. Everything that I have written seems like straw to me compared to those things that I have seen and have been revealed to me.”

  • The critique I’ve come across is that Aquinas lacked a ‘high’ view of the Fall. He didn’t take into account the profound effect the Fall had on our intellect. This seems to have elevated nature on a par with grace to where nature would soon dethrone grace, i.e. the humanist ‘renaissance.’

  • Jon

    It is important to distinguish between St Thomas’s own teaching and that of some of his commentators, especially Suarez and his successors. They had talked of a “natural order,” governed by Natural Law, consisting of truths accessible to unaided human reason, as something that can be kept separate from the supernatural truths revealed in the Gospel. This “two-tier” account of nature and grace was based on this view that the addition of “grace” was something super-added to a human nature that was already complete and sufficient in itself and apart from any intrinsic human need.

    To rebut this misunderstanding of St Thomas was a central aim of the Nouvelle Théologie and united such such disparate thinkers as Blondel, Maréchal, the Dominicans, Chenu and Congar and the Jesuits, Lubac and Daniélou. Their central thesis was that the natural and the supernatural do not have utterly separate ends in and of themselves and that this is the teaching of St Thomas.

  • “The critique I’ve come across is that Aquinas lacked a ‘high’ view of the Fall.”

    “In this way the sin of the first parents is the cause of death and of all like defects in human nature. For the sin of the first parents removed original justice; through this not only were the lower powers of the soul held harmoniously under the control of reason but the whole body was subordinated to the soul without any defect…. Once, therefore, original justice was lost through the sin of the first parents, just as human nature was injured in soul by the disordering of the powers, so also it became corruptible by reason of the disturbance of the body’s order. (Summa Theologiae I-I1, 85, 5)”

    The Angelic Doctor used the imagery of wounds to liken the effect of original sin on human souls and human nature. I do not think that Aquinas viewed the Fall as anything but devastating when it came to its impact on Man.

  • There’s a line – it may in fact have been from Chesterton describing Thomists – that you learn more about them by reading their works than you learn about their subject. I don’t see how you could fault Aquinas for errors in emphasis without having a full picture of his thinking. Aquiring that picture would take at least a lifetime – but oh, what a life it would be.

  • My one problem with Chesterton’s book is that he set up Augustine and the Augustinians as the bad guys (or to put it better, the bearers of a less sane understanding). There may be truth in that. But I haven’t been able to reconcile it with the fact that the Dominicans were essentially an Augustinian order.

  • Chesterton didn’t like ambiguity or anything approaching a fideistic stance. So he would have held to that sentiment about Augustine. Chesterton liked that Aquinas affirmed the world and the mind and probably felt Augustine in some sense disparaged them both. But that was Chesterton–his personality and inclination.

  • St Augustine was a Platonist and, as Mgr Ronald Knox puts it, “The issue hangs on the question whether the Divine Fact is something given, or something to be inferred. Your Platonist, satisfied that he has formed his notion of God without the aid of syllogisms or analogies, will divorce reason from religion”

597 Years Since Agincourt

Thursday, October 25, AD 2012

We are in God’s hand, brother, not in theirs.

King Henry V

The anniversary of the long ago battle of Saint Crispin’s Day gives us yet another opportunity to recall the immortal “Band of Borthers Speech” that Shakespeare put into the mouth of Henry V, a speech that could put fight into a dog dead three days, or, mirabile dictu, even a live Congress Critter:

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here

    But one ten thousand of those men in England      

That do no work to-day!

  KING. What’s he that wishes so?

    My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;      

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow

    To do our country loss; and if to live,

    The fewer men, the greater share of honour.

    God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

    By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,      

 Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;

    It yearns me not if men my garments wear;

    Such outward things dwell not in my desires.      

 But if it be a sin to covet honour,      

I am the most offending soul alive.

    No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.      

God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour

    As one man more methinks would share from me

    For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!     

  Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,     

  That he which hath no stomach to this fight,      

Let him depart; his passport shall be made,

    And crowns for convoy put into his purse;

    We would not die in that man’s company

    That fears his fellowship to die with us.      

This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.

    He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,

    Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,

    And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

    He that shall live this day, and see old age,

    Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,

    And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’

    Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,      

And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’

    Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,

    But he’ll remember, with advantages,

    What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,

    Familiar in his mouth as household words-      

 Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,

    Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-

    Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.

    This story shall the good man teach his son;      

And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,

    From this day to the ending of the world,      

 But we in it shall be remembered-      

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,      

This day shall gentle his condition;     

  And gentlemen in England now-a-bed

    Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,

    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

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7 Responses to 597 Years Since Agincourt

  • St Crispin was the patron saint of souters or shoe-makers (from Latin suere = to sew) In Glasgow, up until the Reformation, he was the patron saint of the Incorporation of Cordiners (the Scots equivalent of English cordwainers), which included tanners (who had their own patron saint – St Bartholomew), curriers, barkers, as well as souters. The name derives from Cordoba, the source of the best Spanish shoe-leather.

    The Incorporation still survives and sends six member to the Trades House of Glasgow.

  • Great timing Donald.
    Thank you for the lift.
    In the very end the brotherhood of righteousness will unite in an endless Kingdom, a lasting city that St. Paul searched for within his being.
    Lord give us the grace to excell at servitude. To not count the cost nor attribute
    self worthiness to our works, remembering that your works are great.
    In twelve days the blizzard of ballots will fall from the sky to push back a defeated army.

  • I remember John Keegans’s, The Face of Battle, covering Agincourt.

    The English received Absolution and Holy Eucharist; and knelt down and took soil in their mouths in anticipation of burial, if memory serves.

    Then, the field flowed with blood, mostly French and etc. mercenaries.

    Courage and Christian humility ruled that day.

  • And far away, in a little village in Lorraine called Domrémy, Jeanne d’Arc was three years old…

  • Yes, it took God to save the French from the English.

  • Donald R McClarey

    After the raising the siege of Orléans, the Dauphin refused to keep paying the Scottish Free Companies. The Maid told them the bad news. Sir Hugh Kennedy turned to his fellow-commanders and demanded, “Since when did we need paying to fight the English?” Now that was a miracle, if you like.

    Sir Hugh never did get paid, but, after the Loire campaign and the coronation at Reims, Charles VII granted him an augmentation of his arms

    http://heraldry-online.org.uk/kennedy/kennedy-roland.jpg

    Several branches of the Kennedy family bear them to this day, including my neighbours, the Ferguson Kennedies of Bennane

  • “Since when did we need paying to fight the English?” Now that was a miracle, if you like. 🙂

Saving Civilization One Word at a Time

Saturday, August 13, AD 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the end of the world was long ago,

And all we dwell today

As children of some second birth,

Like a strange people left on earth

After a judgment day.

For the end of the world was long ago,

When the ends of the world waxed free,

When Rome was sunk in a waste of slaves,

And the sun drowned in the sea.

When Caesar’s sun fell out of the sky

And whoso hearkened right

Could only hear the plunging

Of the nations in the night.

G.K. Chesterton

 

Something for the Weekend.  From the endlessly talented songsters at Music For History Lovers, Illuminated Manuscripts sung to the tune of Nowhere Man by the Beatles.  Monks toiling in Scriptoriums in monasteries throughout Europe during the Middle Ages and thereby rescuing some of the classic works of Antiquity is  a cliche, but a true cliche.  When the secular world of the Western Empire dissolved in chaos and ruin following the babarian invasions, it was the Church that rescued the lamp of knowledge.  Only an institution like the Church, a rock in the river of time, could century following century ensure the survival and copying of manuscripts that preserved a precious fraction of the writings of Greece and Rome.  Jerusalem rescued Athens.

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10 Responses to Saving Civilization One Word at a Time

  • Father John Jalopy (The Big Bad Wolf) has something to add to all of this. See his new videos exhorting us all to progress the Faith:

    THE NUCLEAR WASTE OF THE SOUL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MlsAY4fsmg

    “PERMISSIVE PARENTING”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-YC6nv3t_o

    “THE DANGER OF DANGERS”

  • You’re touched, Donald! 😉 But I enjoyed the videos, nevertheless!

  • Perhaps the lines should be read as Anglo-Saxon four-beat lines. Cf. “Seafarer,” BEOWULF, and Coleridge’s “Christabel.”

  • And there is still more ancient works occasionally found saved in the monastic libraries of Europe. But ask anyone, the Catholic Church is against knowledge and learning.

  • There are people more touched than Donald R. McClarey!

    Father John Jalopy! By ye gods! Absolutely fantastic! I gotta stop laughing before I bust open my gut!

  • That comedy clip is brilliant 😆
    I wonder how many other situations could be dreamt up to apply the same thinking?

  • Don

    The second video is pitch perfect, I have loved it ever since I first saw it.

    At least Brother Tech Person did not have to explain that it works better if you jush push the button that says “Off/on” in a friendly and helpful tone of voice.

  • Or the ever popular, “Did you plug it in?” 🙂

  • Interesting….Christianity preserved knowledge and fostered learning. The world had grown old and weary (to paraphrase Chesterton), and Christianity breathed new life into it. Yes, this is marvellous.

  • And right about now we’re getting tired of programs, schemes and of planning. Tired of building and of projects. People can’t reason well anymore. People don’t know how to live life. And only Christianity can help. Only Christ can rescue the individual. More often than not, it’s that very brokenness that leads us to God, drawing us closer and closer to Him. Otherwise we’d be fine. We’d ignore Him, too wrapped up in ourselves and allthat we have and do. No, I would not lament decline. Of course it’s never enjoyable. But anything that brings people closer to God and further away from themselves is profitable beyond measure.

Agincourt

Saturday, April 2, AD 2011

 

Something for the weekend.  Agincourt by the ever talented folks at History for Music Lovers, to the tune of As Tears Go By, by Marianne Faithful.

October 25, 1415 was an amazing day for the English.  The English longbow had long proved in the Hundred Years War to be a devastating weapon in the hands of skilled archers, but rarely had the English faced such long odds as they did at Agincourt.  Approximately 6,000 English, exhausted and worn from their march, faced approximately 30,000 French.  About five out of six of the English were archers with the remainder men-at-arms, knights and nobility.  The French had about 10,000 men-at-arms, knights and nobility, and 20,000 archers, crossbowmen and miscellaneous infantry.

The English established their battle line between the woods of Agincourt and Tramecourt, which offered excellent protection to both of their flanks.  The English archers made up the front line with stakes set in the ground before them to impale charging horses.  Archers were also placed in the woods to provide flanking fire against advancing French.  The men at arms and knights and nobility, were divided into three forces behind the archers.  They fought on foot.

The terrain between the woods that the French would have to cross in their attack of the English consisted of newly ploughed, and very muddy, fields.  Having walked through muddy fields on several occasions in rural Illinois, I can attest that simply getting from point A to point B in such terrain can be exhausting, let alone fighting at the end of the tramp through the morass.

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4 Responses to Agincourt

  • John Keegan’s book, The Face of Battle, has a fair (I assume it’s factual) depiction of the battle and the men.

    Another famous battle and example of Catholic courage is depicted in Ernle Bradford’s, The Knights of the Order, chapters 19 through 23. It tells the story of the famous siege of Malta. The siege was endured about 70 years after Comumbus’ discoveries and 23 years before the tragedy of the Invincible Armada in 1588.

  • Excellent post.

    I love the way the History teachers get the essence of major event in 3 minutes.

    Henry V was in a bind. He was being chased by a larger French army that move dfaster than his army and could defeat hin in open country. Almost by luck he stopped at Agincourt where the woods protected his flanks. He did not have food more than two days and would have to move into open ground in a losing race to Calias if the French did not attack him. All the French had to do was sit and wait. The reason Henry V moved forward was to provoke the French. Luckily patience is not a French virtue.

    Keegan’s face of Battle is an accurate and excellent description of the battle. This is a ground breaking book that looked at the ‘face of Battle” in a very clinical manner. Do not read on a full stomach.

    Bernards Cornwell’s novel <a href=http://www.amazon.com/Agincourt-Novel-Bernard-Cornwell/dp/0061578908/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1301777975&sr=1-1-spell in additon to placing one in his view of the cultural milieu sets of the context of the campaign and battle in an entertaining style

  • Thank you Hank for first making me aware of History for Music Lovers. If the French had simply raided Henry’s army with small parties, and cut his force off from villages and towns where they could get resupplied, they would probably have bagged the entire English army with minimal French casualties. King Henry’s gambit at Agincourt to advance was a daring one, but it played upon the French dilemma of a large hit to the morale of their army if they seemed to be backing down from a much smaller English army. Morale in medieval battles was all important, as the troops were usually ill-trained except for the knights and men-at-arms, and once a force panicked, it was almost impossible for it to be reassembled before a battle was completely lost.

Alexander the Great

Saturday, March 26, AD 2011

Something for the weekend.  The song Macedonia to the tune of Sharona by the Knack, by the endlessly talented folks of History for Music Lovers.  Alexander the Great, living refutation of the idea that history is all grand vast processes and that individuals matter for little.  In his brief 32 years he had a larger impact perhaps on this world than any other one man in secular history.  The spreading of Greek culture in the East led to the vast cultural synthesis of Hellenism, and had a huge impact upon Judaism and, eventually, Christianity.  It is somewhat frightening to think that so much of our history depended upon the military prowess of one man.

What if Alexander hadn’t turned East?  What if he had turned West?  The Roman historian Livy, in one of the first examples of alternate history, mused about what would have happened if Alexander had marched against Rome.

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3 Responses to Alexander the Great

  • Being a two-bit, wannabe gold bug, I recently compiled a history-time line of gold. Of interest, Alexander obtained $1 billion in gold from his conquest of Persia. Previously, Egypt had become “wealthy” from Nubian gold, as did Rome, when it took Spanish gold mining areas from Carthage.

    Despite evident Livy’s chauvinism, I (it would have been extremely close-run) tend to agree that Aleander would not have prevailed against Rome. Rome would not have defeated him in the field. Alexander would not have been able to take Rome. We have the example of Hannibal to ratify that determination. It would have been close.

    Also, agree with Livy, Rome rotted from within.

  • A great and interesting read. The author of The Seven Deadly Sins recounts a story that Plutarch wrote about Alexander the Great. Alexander, in a drunken rage, seized a spear and killed an old friend and faithful soldier who had criticized him. At once Alexander felt remorse and drew the spear from the dead body and would have dashed it into his own throat but for his bodyguards. According to Plutarch, Alexander spent day and night in bitter lamentations and lay speechless worn out with his cries and wailing. His friends were alarmed enough to enlist the help of a philosopher who soothed him and told him that the whole world should not see him on the floor weeping like a slave in fear of law and censure of men, because Alexander should himself be a law and measure of justice since he has conquered the right to rule and mastery, instead of submitting like a slave to the mastery of vain opinion. The whole point of the story was that rather than encouraging Alexander to accept his guilt and mend his ways, the philosopher absolved him of guilt. Alexander wasn’t allowed to complete the process of repentence and become a better man, because he now thought himself guiltless and his ambition and vanity were fed by the philosopher.

    In contrast, consider the story of King David and Nathan. David put Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, opposite the enemy where the fighting was fiercest in the hopes he would be killed so David could sleep with his wife. But Nathan, a prophet, told David of a cruel rich man who stole the only ewe lamb of a poor man and tells David he is the cruel man. David acknowledged his guilt and was able to repent.

  • “For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?” Mark 8:36

Charlemagne

Saturday, February 19, AD 2011

 

Something for the weekend.  Charlemagne by the endlessly talented folks at music for history lovers, sung to the tune of Call Me by Blondie.

Charles the Great.  He found the crown of the Roman emperors lying in the gutter of time, and by his efforts, against the odds, restored, in alliance with the popes, a Western Empire.  Charlemagne laid the foundation that allowed Catholic Europe to survive the siege by Islam and to ultimately defeat the Vikings through conversion.  In his reign Western Europe began waking from the long night described by Chesterton:

For the end of the world was long ago,
When the ends of the world waxed free,
When Rome was sunk in a waste of slaves,
And the sun drowned in the sea.

When Caesar’s sun fell out of the sky
And whoso hearkened right
Could only hear the plunging
Of the nations in the night.

When the ends of the earth came marching in
To torch and cresset gleam.
And the roads of the world that lead to Rome
Were filled with faces that moved like foam,
Like faces in a dream.

And men rode out of the eastern lands,
Broad river and burning plain;
Trees that are Titan flowers to see,
And tiger skies, striped horribly,
With tints of tropic rain.

Where Ind’s enamelled peaks arise
Around that inmost one,
Where ancient eagles on its brink,
Vast as archangels, gather and drink
The sacrament of the sun.

And men brake out of the northern lands,
Enormous lands alone,
Where a spell is laid upon life and lust
And the rain is changed to a silver dust
And the sea to a great green stone.

And a Shape that moveth murkily
In mirrors of ice and night,
Hath blanched with fear all beasts and birds,
As death and a shock of evil words
Blast a man’s hair with white.

And the cry of the palms and the purple moons,
Or the cry of the frost and foam,
Swept ever around an inmost place,
And the din of distant race on race
Cried and replied round Rome.

And there was death on the Emperor
And night upon the Pope:

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Hannibal and 16 Tons

Saturday, January 29, AD 2011

Something for the weekend.  A song about Hannibal to the tune of 16 Tons.   Hattip to Hank at Eclectic Meanderings.  I have read quite a bit about the Punic Wars, but I have never seen information on them conveyed more fetchingly than when sung by “Anna Domino”, as she does her dance of the elephant veil and sings her song.  What a hoot!  This is one of a series of videos put together by history for music lovers, and long may they prosper!

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3 Responses to Hannibal and 16 Tons

  • Thanks,

    What a hoot!

    If I remember, Hannibal’s generalship and Carthaginian disciplined valor tore up large Roman legionary armies in at two major fights in Italy.

    Ancient sources state that Cato the elder ended all his Senate speeches with “Cartago delenda est” – Carthage must be destroyed.

    “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Plato (I think).

    In 2011, same truth: “another day older and deeper in debt”; only now, you owe your soul to the government.

  • Donald

    Thanks for the link!

  • Thank you Hank for introducing me to the wonderful videos of History for Music Lovers!