“Megalocune” Addressed by Gildas May Have Been Arthur

Gildas the Wise is the most ancient British writer, working in Latin from Brittany about turn of the century 500 AD. The following is an excerpt from the blog “Arthur, Guinevere and the Ancient British:”

   …Megalocune is addressed as nephew to the king, heaping upon his “kingly shoulders” a load of sins. But upon examination, the last addressed is Christian, and may well be Arthur or Uther Pendragon. Two points from Gerald of Wales make this seem an un-excluded possibility (is it yet included?): the great size of the bones of Arthur and the inscription saying that Guinevere was his “second wife.” Gildas may speak as Churchmen do who judge by convention, and identify, for example, conventional marriage with true marriage and artificial piety with natural virtue. For it seems this Megalocune is given to hearing bards tell flattering tales in song, “rung out after the fashion of the giddy rout of Bacchus by the mouths of thy villainous followers…vessel…This Megalocune is said to have married his nephew’s wife, and for this is accused of two murders, of each, though Gildas may simply mean the murder of their souls in convention, if the first marriages were conventional and the second based on true love. Finally, Gildas writes:
And, the just king (according to the prophet) raiseth up his region. But warnings truly are not wanting to thee, since thou had for thy instructor the most eloquent master of almost all Britain. Take heed, therefore, lest that which Solomon noteth, befall thee, which is, “Even as he who stireth a sleeping man out of his heavy sleep, so is that person who declareth wisdom unto a fool, for in the end of his speech will he say, What hadst thou first spoken?
Gildas speaks to this one as the present king, and says enough that it can be known he is a Christian king. He says says nothing inconsistent with this one being the Arthur known not to the poets that come later, but to history, addressed so as to remain within propriety, and early enough in his career, say, 516-524, to cohere with the other things written previously pertaining to the time of peace with the Saxons but civil turmoil following the death of Ambrosius Aurelianus and the first battle of Badon in 493. The revellings sound quite like a liberally educated prince having fun and living a normal life of the liberal arts from the view of an austere Churchman, who, however, may be more correct than wrong in his warning to Arthur. The “most eloquent master of almost all of Britain” may be Gildas himself, or Merlin Ambrosius, someone likely to be famed rather than forgotten completely.
   Concluding the first section, Gildas says that he does not wish to declare the concealed vices of his countrymen to the wider world so much as to “bewail the wickedness of those who have become servants not only to their bellies, but also to the devil rather than to Christ…”  In the second section, he then writes first against 5 warlords who ruled after Aurelianus Ambrosius, that is, after 449+44=493 AD. And then against the churchmen of Britain, going therough the old and new testaments while railing at them in tones again similar to Luther. This, a time of great corruption due to the luxury following the victory of Ambrosius, is the circumstance into which the real Arthur is born, about 501 AD. If Megalocune” is not Arthur- and I do think he is-, then Gildas, or the part of his writing we have preserved, just barely missed the event of Arthur, though Nennius lists the death date of Gildas as 570. He wrote at least the first 26 paragraphs in a time of peace, when Ambrosius was the last victorious British general. There seems little reason to hypothesize the identification of Arthur with Ambrosius, the brother of Uther, nor, to say thye least, with Riothamus, though the work of Ashe is impressive and quite helpful in seeing into the period. Those histories would have been preserved, or at least writers would write in a way that cohered with other things known, such as the time and effect of the Saxon invasion, and its geography, pushing the Roman Britons gradually West, from St. Martins and London (Lud-don, or Lud’s city, also called Trinovantium, or “New Troy”) to the area of Westminster and Silchester, near Arthur’s Camelot, and finally to Glastonbury-Avalon and North into what is now Wales, toward Snowdon, and even into Scotland where some of my own MacDomnwald ancestors became “Lords of the Isles.”
   Nennius lists 10 battles of Arthur from which the fortunes of the British in the war and the movements of the border between the Saxons and Britons might be followed, in some detail, if the locations can be identified. Vortimer, the son of Vortigern, had beseiged the Saxons on the isle of Thanet, having pushed them off the mainland after the death of Vortigern:
   The first was at the mouth of the river called Glein. The second, third, fourth and fifth were on another river, called the Douglas, which is in the country of Lindsey. The sixth battle was on the river called Bassas. The seventh was in celyddon Forest, that is the battle of Celyddon Coed. The eighth battle was in Guinnon fort, and in it Arthur carried the image of the holy Mary, the everlasting Virgin, on [his shield,]…The ninth battle was fought in the city of Legion. The tenth battle battle was fought on the bank of the river called Tryfrwyd. The eleventh battle was on the hill called Agned. The twelfth battle was on Badon hill, and in it 960 men fell from a single charge of Arthur’s…
Badon is Bath hill. Obviously, there were two battles at this strategic place, and no reason to confuse Arthur and Aurelius Ambrosius. Geoffreys account of the battles (ix.i) at Douglass and York occurs early in the career of Arthur. The monk whom Gildas calls almost the most eloquent may be Dubricius, Archbishop of the city of Legions. This Dubricious, in Geoffrey, addresses Arthur and his troops:
Whoever suffers death for the sake of his brothers offers himself as a living sacrifice to God and follows with firm footsteps behind Christ himself, who did not disdain to lay down his life for his brothers…
Dubricius is thinking of the passage in John, (15:13) “Greater love has no  man than that he lay down his life for his friends…” Death in war as penance and absolution is  a slightly different if related idea. We say that our police do this “every time they punch the clock,” as do our citizens accidentally shot.
   Geoffrey simply fills in certain blank places in the account of Gildas and Nennius (or perhaps some other similar to Nennius). For example, no parents of Aurelianus Ambrosius are mentioned, but Geoffrey makes these directly descended from one of the house of Constantine. Geoffrey writes of a monk Constans, of the house of Constantine, an elder brother of Ambrosius and Uther who who would have been king but had entered the monastery. Vortigern is said to have brought him out, made him king, and then usurped his kingship, as Constans not only lacked the proper character, but “what he learned in the cloister had nothing to do with how to rule a kingdom.” That is, unlike Robert the Earl of Gloucester of Geofferey’s Dedicatory Letter, in the introduction, Constans did not pursue in the monastery the liberal arts and philosophy together with the martial arts, the pursuits of philosophy and kingship, or the pursuits of the philosopher-kings. This Robert is an illegitimate son of Henry I, the very king who dug up the grave of Arthur and Guinevere at Avalon or Glastonbury, only to see the hair of Guinevere turn to dust).

Easter Blog: The Charcoal Fire and John 21.

The risen Jesus asks Peter 3 times, “Do you love me?” using two different words for love and indicating three answers in action to the question. There is a famous sermon noting that Peter is again at a charcoal fire as he was when he denied being a follower of Jesus three times, and the cock then crowed.

   The three answers indicated by Jesus are not clear from the English, and this is a good example of the importance of the Greek and the Greeks. The question asked of Peter- and hence of the Church- by the charcoal fire is first “Do you love me” agopos moi-” and “more than these“? The apostles are gathered on the shore of the sea of Tiberius, and have just recognized that the man who told them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. As are the churches, the apostles were characterized by an unreflective self love or self promotion, even including the young John and James, a sort of natural ambition, as when John and James asked if they could sit at his right hand when he comes into his kingdom (Mark 10:35). Agape is the word used for Christian love of the neighbor, while philos is friendship, and both have broader meanings- neither of which are eros, which is yet another kind of love, the longing of an emptiness to be filled. Agape, rarely used by the ancient Greeks, is rather an overflowing fullness, while friendship is somehow both and yet neither. Peter tries to answer: “you know I love (philo) you.” The answer is if you love me, feed my lambs. Second, Jesus asks Peter, as if to say, “But do you love (agapos) me? dropping off the “more than these? Jesus asks, that is, “Do you agapos moi, as well as philos moi? and “Do you (even) agapos moi? Peter again answers that he knows he loves (philo) him. The answer is shepherd then my sheep.” And, third, “DO you love (philo) me? That is, “Are you the friend of the risen Jesus? One statement of the highest in the Greek thinkers is “friend of God” (Plato, Symposium 212) and we suggest that that is the same as what is appearing here.

   The three kinds of shepherding are: 1) feeding lambs, as with milk, 2) tending sheep, as even in politics, and 3) feeding sheep, as in education in the highest sense, the cultivation of intellects, above imagination, as with meat” or solid food, for the mature. These are three kinds of what the Greeks call practical wisdom or phronesis.

   Adam was placed in the garden of the Lord “To till and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). This is the purpose of man, even that from which we are divided. “Feed my lambs.” “Tend my sheep.” “Feed my sheep.” Both are parables of the highest activity of man, to which each has some access. This teaching replaces the more usual teaching of providence, in which man does not participate, but even awaits service as an ungrateful child. The rain falls on the good and evil alike- subject to the same- and no, we do not know why. Some seeds fall among the rocks where there is no soil to root, or among thorns, or on the path to be trodden, and some to be preyed upon. In the gospel of Luke (13:1-7), Jesus explains that those whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices- killed them while at the activity of piety- are as those on whom a tower fell. It does not fall on the worst sinners, and so we know that fortune or what occurs is not the same as the will of God. It is a prayer if the will of God is ever done on earth as it is in heaven, not a thing to be pre-supposed.

   The teaching at John 15:15 also distinguishes the friends who are no longer called servants because they know what the master is doing, but friends, philous. Greater love agape has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (phil-on).

Iris, by RWillowfish from /Cats

Iris #’s 1- 8

Lisa RWillowfish


Lisa RWillowfish


Lisa RWillowfish


Lisa RWillowfish


Lisa RWillowfish


Lisa RWillowfish


Lisa RWillowfish


Nennius on Patrick

Here is a nice chunk from Nennius:

Now I want to get out Bede and Geoffrey and Gildas.

54. Saint Patrick taught the gospel in foreign nations for the space of forty years. Endued with apostolical powers, he gave sight to the blind, cleansed the lepers, gave hearing to the deaf, cast out devils, raised nine from the dead, redeemed many captives of both sexes at his own charge, and set them free in the name of the Holy Trinity. He taught the servants of God, and he wrote three hundred and sixty-five canonical and other books relating to the catholic faith. he founded as many churches, and consecrated the same number of bishops, strengthening them with the Holy Ghost He ordained three thousand presbyters; and converted and baptized twelve thousand persons in the province of Connaught. And, in one day baptized seven kings, who were the seven sons of Amalgaid. He continued fasting forty days and nights, on the summit of the mountain Eli, that is Cruachan-Aiichle; and preferred three petitions to God for the Irish, that had embraced the faith.. The Scots say, the first was, that he would receive every repenting sinner, even at the latest extremity of life; the second, that they should never be exterminated by barbarians; and the third, that as Ireland will be overflowed with water, seven years before the coming of our Lord to judge the quick and the dead, the crimes of the people might be washed away through his intercession, and their souls purified at the last day. He gave the people his benediction from the upper part of the mountain, and going up higher, that he might pray for them; and that if it pleased God, he might see the effects of his labours, there appeared to him an innumerable flock of birds of many colours, signifying the number of holy persons of both sexes of the Irish nation, who should come to him as their apostle at the day of judgment, to be presented before the tribunal of Christ. After a life spent in the active exertion of good to mankind, St. Patrick, in a healthy old age, passed from this world to the Lord, and changing this life for a better, with the saints and elect of God he rejoices for evermore.

55. Saint Patrick resembled Moses in four particulars. The angel spoke to him in the burning bush. He fasted forty days and forty nights upon the mountain. He attained the period of one hundred and twenty years. No one knows his sepulchre, nor where he was buried; sixteen years he was in captivity. In his twenty-fifth year, he was consecrated bishop by Saint Matheus, and he was eighty-five years the apostle of the Irish. It might be profitable to treat more at large of the life of this saint, but it is now time to conclude this epitome of his labours. {Here ended the life of the holy bishop, Saint Patrick.}

[Chap. 56 is not in the Giles translation. It is supplied here from the text   made availabel to the net by Alan Lupack [ALPK@db1.cc.rochester.edu] for the Camelot Project]

56. At that time, the Saxons grew strong by virtue of their large number and increased in power in Britain. Hengist having died, however, his son Octha crossed from the northern part of Britain to the kingdom of Kent and from him are descended the kings of Kent. Then Arthur along with the kings of Britain fought against them in those days, but Arthur himself was the military commander [“dux bellorum”]. His first battle was at the mouth of the river which is called Glein. His second, third, fourth, and fifth battles were above another river which is called Dubglas and is in the region of Linnuis. The sixth battle was above the river which is called Bassas. The seventh battle was in the forest of Celidon, that is Cat Coit Celidon. The eighth battle was at the fortress of Guinnion, in which Arthur carried the image of holy Mary ever virgin on his shoulders; and the pagans were put to flight on that day. And through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and through the power of the blessed Virgin Mary his mother there was great slaughter among them. The ninth battle was waged in the City of the Legion. The tenth battle was waged on the banks of a river which is called Tribruit. The eleventh battle was fought on the mountain which is called Agnet. The twelfth battle was on Mount Badon in which there fell in one day 960 men from one charge by Arthur; and no one struck them down except Arthur himself, and in all the wars he emerged as victor. And while they were being defeated in all the battles, they were seeking assistance from Germany and their numbers were being augmented many times over without interruption. And they brought over kings from Germany that they might reign over them in Britain, right down to the time in which Ida reigned, who was son of Eobba. He was the first king in Bernicia, i.e., in Berneich.

In addition to his Confession, St. Patrick has left only this brief letter to the soldiers of Corotius, copied from Eg Patri, as follows:

Letter to the soldiers of Coroticus


I declare that I, Patrick, – an unlearned sinner indeed – have been established a bishop in Ireland. I hold quite certainly that what I am, I have accepted from God.[Nota] I live as an alien among non-Roman peoples, an exile on account of the love of God – he is my witness that this is so. It is not that I would choose to let anything so blunt and harsh come from my mouth, but I am driven by the zeal for God. And the truth of Christ stimulates me, for love of neighbours and children: for these, I have given up my homeland and my parents, and my very life to death, if I am worthy of that. I live for my God, to teach these peoples, even if I am despised by some.


With my own hand[Nota] I have written and put together these words to be given and handed on and sent to the soldiers of Coroticus.[Nota] I cannot say that they are my fellow-citizens, nor fellow-citizens of the saints of Rome, but fellow-citizens of demons, because of their evil works. By their hostile ways they live in death, allies of the apostate Scots and Picts. They are blood-stained: blood-stained with the blood of innocent Christians, whose numbers I have given birth to in God and confirmed in Christ.


The newly baptised and anointed were dressed in white robes; the anointing was still to be seen clearly on their foreheads when they were cruelly slain and sacrificed by the sword of the ones I referred to above. On the day after that, I sent a letter by a holy priest (whom I had taught from infancy), with clerics, to ask that they return to us some of the booty or of the baptised prisoners they had captured. They scoffed at them.

St George: Wiki Excerpt

Saint George and the Dragon

Miniature from a 13th-century Passio Sancti Georgii (Verona)

The legend of Saint George and the Dragon was first recorded in the 11th century, in a Georgian source. It reached Catholic Europe in the 12th century. In the Golden Legend, by 13th-century Archbishop of Genoa Jacobus da Varagine, George’s death was at the hands of Dacian, and about the year 287.[27]

Saint George Killing the Dragon, 1434/35, by Bernat Martorell


   The tradition tells that a fierce dragon was causing panic at the city of Silene, Libya, at the time Saint George arrived there. In order to prevent the dragon from devastating people from the city, they gave two sheep each day to the dragon, but when the sheep were not enough they were forced to sacrifice humans instead of the two sheep. The human to be sacrificed was elected by the city’s own people and that time the king’s daughter was chosen to be sacrificed but no one was willing to take her place. Saint George saved the girl by slaying the dragon with a lance. The king was so grateful that he offered him treasures as a reward for saving his daughter’s life, but Saint George refused it and instead he gave these to the poor. The people of the city were so amazed at what they had witnessed that they became Christians and were all baptized.[28]

   The Golden Legend offered a historicised narration of George’s encounter with a dragon. This account was very influential and it remains the most familiar version in English owing to William Caxton‘s 15th-century translation.[29]

   In the medieval romances, the lance with which Saint George slew the dragon was called Ascalon, after the Levantine city of Ashkelon, today in Israel. The name Ascalon was used by Winston Churchill for his personal aircraft during World War II, according to records at Bletchley Park.[30] In Sweden, the princess rescued by Saint George is held to represent the kingdom of Sweden, while the dragon represents an invading army.

Excerpt II:



The martyrdom of Saint George, by Paolo Veronese, 1564


   A titular church built in Lydda during the reign of Constantine the Great (reigned 306–37) was consecrated to “a man of the highest distinction”, according to the church history of Eusebius; the name of the titulus “patron” was not disclosed, but later he was asserted[by whom?] to have been George.

   The veneration of George spread from Syria Palaestina through Lebanon to the rest of the Byzantine Empire—though the martyr is not mentioned in the Syriac Breviarium[17]—and the region east of the Black Sea. By the 5th century, the veneration of Saint George had reached the Christian Western Roman Empire, as well: in 494, George was canonized as a saint by Pope Gelasius I, among those “whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to [God].”

The early cult of the saint was localized in Diospolis (Lydda), in Palestine. The first description of Lydda as a pilgrimage site where George’s relics were venerated is De Situ Terrae Sanctae by the archdeacon Theodosius, written between 518 and 530. By the end of the 6th century, the center of his veneration appears to have shifted to Cappadocia. The Life of Saint Theodore of Sykeon, written in the 7th century, mentions the veneration of the relics of the saint in Cappadocia.[35]


    Hercules, too, rescued a maiden, a daughter of the father of Priam, Leomedon, from a sea monster, but then was jilted in payment, hence beginning the first Trojan war.


Stones: Sympathy

Sympathy for the Devil

   In this song Mr. Jagger demonstrates a profound understanding of evil in political history. He could not possibly be an advocate in sympathy with the Devil, unless he were indeed so wicked as to advocate the worst regimes the earth has ever seen, the Communist and Nazi, regimes guilty of more deaths than any in the history of the world. Jonathan Cott, in his preface to the 1975 Rolling Stone interview of Jagger, suggests that the Stones “attacked the vice of the spirit of society itself in such songs as Sympathy for the Devil and 2000 Man.” The song presents the Devil as a dramatic character. In his plea for sympathy, this character reveals things about the nature of the diabolical and its involvement especially in the politics of the Twentieth Century.

Please allow me to introduce myself

I’m a man of wealth and taste

I’ve been around for a long long year

Stolen many a man’s soul and faith

I was around when Jesus Christ had his moments of doubt and pain

Made damn sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed his fate

Pleased to meet You / Hope you guess my name

But what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game.

In the first set of eight lines, the Devil introduces himself. Contrary to our mythical expectation of an obvious ugly beast, he is, like Goethe’s Mephistophiles, a refined character. As Edgar, in disguise, says in Shakespeare’s King Lear, “The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman” (Act III, iv, 134). He claims to have been around for a long time. Yet it is not clear that he existed as a figure in history until the incarnation, when, as is told in the scriptures, he tempted Jesus (Matthew 4). The song addresses the period of history from this date, early in the first century. He claims to have been present in all the moments of doubt and pain Jesus had, such as the agony in the garden and the entire crucifixion. Throughout the song, he does not claim to have caused or done anything, but only to have been present when humans did certain things. This is a theologically profound point about the character of evil, which in some sense “is not,” or cannot simply and properly be said to exist as the beings or principles do. It may be more like a hole humans fall into, and dependent on humans to have any effect. The name that it is hoped we guess is Lucifer, and the question of the song is that of what on earth it is he thinks he’s up to.

Stuck around St. Petersburg when I saw it was time for a change

Killed the Tsar and his ministers, Anastasia screamed in vain

I rode a tank, held a General’s rank

When the blitzkrieg raged and the bodies stank

Pleased to meet you / Hope you guess my name.

Ah what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game.

The second set of lines jumps immediately to the twentieth century, where he was present in the two forms of twentieth century ideological tyranny, or what has been called “Totalitarianism.” These are the two places where, in addition to stealing souls, the Devil is said to have acted or done something. Though anticipated by aspects of the French Revolution, this new kind of tyranny is a political phenomenon entirely peculiar to the twentieth century. It is here that we see that Mr. Jagger, or the writer of these words, could not possibly be a Satanist, or a genuine proponent of the Sympathy for the Devil which the main character requests. The Devil was present in the communist revolution of 1917, when the family of Tzar Nicholas was murdered. The family included the prince who would have been the next Tzar, and, most heinously, the princess Anastasia, a young girl shot to death on the orders of the communist revolutionaries, headed by Lenin. Had he lived, he would always have represented a claim of the monarchy contrary to the Communists. The bodies of the prince and princess were apparently located recently, confirming the murder. Stalin took over from Lenin in 1924, and the number of dead, killed by their own government in Russia, averaged about one million per year until the breakdown of the Soviet Union in 1989. This pace is about equal to the pace at which the Nazis murdered Jews and others, including German citizens. And it is no surprise, then, when the song shifts abruptly to the claim that he was present as a general in Hitler’s army when the blitzkrieg bombed London and the corpses lay rotting in the camps. Hitler followed the example of Stalin in the organization of the camps, though their residents were not especially the bourgeoisie or the enemies of the communist revolution, but rather the Jews and any others who did not fit into the racial utopia envisioned as the cause for seeking to kill large groups of people. The understanding that both these forms of government were influenced by the presence of the diabolical in an unprecedented way is a profound insight, something most politicians do not see, with rare exceptions such as Winston Churchill. The two are extreme opposites of the political left and right, and enemies, even while sharing certain striking similarities. Both arose out of German philosophy, both are utopian, with the vision based in one case on race and in another on class, held up to move the revolutionaries to what becomes like a diabolic inversion of religious sacrifice inserted into the political realm. The vision of Fatima occurred in 1917 while the Communist Revolution was introducing this new form of tyranny into the world. There is no suggestion that the poet advocates the murders of the princess Anastasia referred to in the song, or that, having revealed the presence of the diabolical in twentieth century history, he could possibly be understood to advocate it. What then could be the meaning of the song or the songwriter, as distinct from the character portrayed in the song?

I watched with glee while your kings and queens fought for ten decades for the gods they made.

I shouted out “Who killed the Kennedys” when after all it was you and me.

Let me please introduce myself / I’m a man of wealth and taste

And I lay traps for the troubadours who get killed before they reach Bombay.

Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name.

But what’s puzzling you is just the nature of my game.

Meanwhile, most of the world does not see what is occurring. Referring for the first time to a period outside the twentieth century, he says that he looked on while the oblivious monarchs fought wars over gods, or religious doctrines and idolatries that are in fact of human making, not eternal but rather made by man. He claims at least partial responsibility for raising the question of who is the true murderer of the Kennedys, and then says it was after all “You and me.” This at first seems to mean all of us, the many, but on second thought appeared to mean that “you,” or all of us, together with “him,” were the cause. The deep truth here is that the diabolical is effective only because of the people (apparently because “it” does not strictly speaking exist without the malice of humans to give it what effect it has.) Assuming that there is not some more particular reference, troubadours are the medieval poets of courtly love, or the writers of love songs. Bombay is the capital of India, the spiritual destination of the love poets, similar to the other shore as discussed above. The devil is opposed to the goal of the lovers or love poets, and says he lays traps for them, or that he has laid the traps for those who do not make it to India. You see, the troubadour Jagger is not confused about the subject he is addressing, and the song intends to convey this caution of one who knows what they are dealing with.

 Just as every cop is a criminal / And all the sinners saints,

as heads is tails, just call me Lucifer / ‘Cause I’m in need of some restraint.

So if you meet me have some courtesy have some sympathy and some taste

Use all your well learned politesse or I’ll lay your soul to waste.

Pleased to meet you hope you guess my name

But what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game.

The fourth set of lines is a proper conclusion, in which the character helps out the one addressed by giving us his name. The set begins with another of the song’s profound points in the theological understanding of evil and the human soul: Human virtue or goodness usually depends on the inner opposition to the bad or vicious, and he claims that every cop is in a way a repressed criminal, or something of the sort. Jung explains that the cultivation of perfection leads to or is accompanied by a corresponding shadow that accumulates in the unconscious (Answer to Job). All the sinners are then said to be in the same way saints in the opposite or upside-down world of Lucifer. A curiosity of history is that Stalin and Lenin were both failed students of the priesthood. He tells us to call him this as if the name will limit or restrain him, all other limits or restraints having disappeared with the supposed realization that virtue is really vice, or is accompanied by vice. One even wonders if we, or human beings, do not give these things existence by naming them, in which case the character has tricked humans into giving existence to one who otherwise would not be. Attempting to restrain it, we focus on it rather than the good, fueling it with our opposition, giving “it” an existence it otherwise would not have (Revelation 17:8). Evil in its mythical forms is not real, but has effect only through humans, who fall into it as into a cavern or pit. The opposite truth is how the divine has no visible or particular form, at least in our contemporary world, except through the members of what is something like the body of the Lord.

The set and the song ends with a warning: If we meet him, we ought be very courteous, sympathetic and tasteful, summoning all our “well learned politesse” or cautious politeness, or he will destroy our souls. The word “politesse” enters the English language from the French, and means politeness, usually with a derogatory connotation of false appearance or courtly flattery. It can also refer to prudence or practical wisdom, as distinct for example from “letting it all hang out.” The diabolical identifies all political virtue with mere appearance, and as a “gentleman,” shares in common with the genuine statesman a mastery of appearance. The diabolic assumption that there is no more to the gentleman than the artificial will, however, be tested by the consequent events, as in King Lear. We are told to use all our well learned politesse, or he will lay our souls to waste.

Here again, then, though not as dramatically as in the case of “Louie, Louie,” we see a surprising depth to the lyrics of our music, a high and uncommon meaning that is not pernicious, but rather understands and genuinely warns against things truly evil. Mr. Jagger is said to hold a Masters degree in Political economy, which would have brought him a familiarity with these things, though we’d be surprised if the insight underlying this song were present in the curriculum, and not the poet’s own profundity.

Diamond: Holly Holy

Here is one I missed among the best lyrics of all, copied from Songmeanings.com :

Holly holy eyes
Dream of only me
Where I am, what I am
What I believe in
Holly holy
Holly holy dream
Wanting only you
And she comes
And I run just like the wind will
Holly holy

(Sing) Sing a song
(Sing) Sing a song of songs
(Sing) Sing it out
Sing it strong (Sing, sing, sing, sing)

Call the sun in the dead of the night
And the sun’s gonna rise in the sky
Touch a man who can’t walk upright
And that lame man, he’s gonna fly
And I fly
And I fly

Holly holy love
Take the lonely child
And the seed
Let it be filled with tomorrow
Holly holy

(Sing) Sing a song (Sing)
(Sing) Sing a song of songs (Sing)
(Sing) Sing it out (Sing)
Sing it strong (Sing, sing, sing, sing)

Call the sun in the dead of the night
And the sun’s gonna rise in the sky
Touch a man who can’t walk upright
And that lame man, he’s gonna fly
And I fly, yeah
And I fly

Holly holy dream
Dream of only you
Holly holy sun
Holly holy rain

Holly holy love

   This is a good example of inspired lyric, above even what the poet himself, and the listeners, understand, a song that takes us up. First, Holly is similar to evergreen, symbolic of life in winter and is used at Christmas in association with the crown of thorns. The song as a whole is also a good example of how, in lyric poetry, the music is essential to the communication.

   This is a Psalm, written in the pattern revealed by the Biblical Song of Songs, as human love follows the pattern of the imago Dei, the image of God in man.

   Note that true love- rare if not extremely rare- is of only one. In the beginning, it is a call of love, the natural function of love songs reaching into the reptilian nature of organic life, i.e, the songs of songbirds. Commentators on Songmeanings note the deep sensuality of the song, but that is to approach it from below. His own participation in the fullness of love allows him something like a vision of the Most High, manifest in both action- his love- and words- this poem.

   The unity of the object love in its true form explains everything else about love, that follows from this for we mere nobles, who seek but never find such love. For example: The law against adultery is based upon the same in the soul- that true love is of one. It would support literal monogamy, if Abraham and Sarah were not the first historical example, as the Hebrews learn to pick up those Chaldean girls from over by the well.

   The center of the song is addressed to the Most High, upon bursting through into His presence. He is the one who calls the sun to rise in the dead of the night, like a Holly in winter, and the Sun, he’s gonna rise. Just as when Jesus touched a man who could not walk upright, and that lame man not only walked but could fly- the sort of soaring that is the high activity of the singular image of God in man. In this way, love is the first rung in the ladder of the philosophic ascent, and can awaken the soul to salvation.

   Love too is our participation in creation and the semblance of immortality living things have in the continuance of the generations. He would not be so explicit were it not inspired.



Romeo and Juliet is Historical: Excerpt

   The event of Romeo and Juliet actually occurred, about 1302-3,[13] in Verona, and was related in an Italian history translated by Arthur Brooke, used by Shakespeare as a source of the play. The action of a few months is famously telescoped or encapsulated into as many days[14] by Shakespeare, where the haste and rapidity of the tragic events imitates the intensity and haste of love, and emphasizes the fated or un-opposable wave of the events. The five days of Romeo and Juliet are about as long as the four days of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Rather than look for an earthquake about the 1590’s, as has been done in considering the date of the production of the play, one wonders if there were not an earthquake in Italy there 11 years before this plague. The great plague comes with Boccaccio about 1315, when one third of all the people in Europe died. 1291-3 would be 11 years prior to 1302-3). Plague prevents the delivery of the crucial letter of Friar Lawrence to Romeo in Mantua. The original Italian sources are Bandello (1554) da Porto (1525) and Salernitano (1476), according to Hankins in the Signet edition (p. 586; Arden ed., pp. 33-37). Da Porta, writing war memoirs, said he heard the story from an archer named Pellegrino da Verona. It is likely that there were prior sources, a century and a half after the event would have torn the conscience of Verona. One might, as with the Saints, examine the local histories. According to one,[15] Verona was governed by the Scaliger family from 1277-1387, prior to the Visconti, and then the transfer of Verona to the Venetian Republic in 1405. Alberto della Scala tried in vain to appease the internal struggles due to the family hatreds of Verona, which became a part of the division in Italy between Guelphs, supporters of the Pope, and Ghibellines, supporters of the emperor. Incidentally, the reference to the Holy Roman Emperor is the best explanation for the almost playful use of the word emperor by Romeo and in the play Two Gentlemen of Verona. Dante Allighieri was hospitably received, at Verona by Bartolemmeo della Scala (Paradise XVII). The date was 1304, very close to the date of Romeo and Juliet. The quarreling Montecchi and Cappelletti families are referenced in Canto VI of Dante’s Purgatory.[17]  A note confirms that Montagues were Ghibellines, Capulets Guelph. The forgotten origin is the attempt, about 1045, of the emperor Henry to remove the Pope, and the excommunication of the emperor, followed by the besieging of the Pope, the retreat of Henry back to Germany and the relief of the Pope by Robert the founder of the Kingdom of Naples.[16] Just after he meets the philosophers Plato and Socrates in Hell, Dante sees the romantic suicides- the same question that led to the obscuring of the grave of Juliet. Justin Martyr, the first of the Christians known to have read the works of Plato, considers these to be saved, or Christian, in a sense of the word not used since (First Apology, XLVI). A different understanding of nature and convention and what Christian is, may be involved. Some interesting monuments remain, including the houses of Capulet and Montague and the tomb of Juliet. A Capelletto family gave the house to the city of Verona, and the house is from the thirteenth century. Archduke Giovanni seems to have taken the cover of the tomb in the Nineteenth Century, and chips of the red marble were taken as souvenirs. The tomb was converted to a horse watering pool to disguise it, because the convent at the site of the church was embarrassed by the scandal of having buried a suicide, a question familiar from Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. As usual in reading Shakespeare, the Shakespearean additions are an important indication of the purpose of the dramatist. The principal characters and events are all there in the story, while scenes like the palm dance, upon the meeting of the lovers, and events like the killing of Paris on the porch of the tomb, are Shakespearean additions, along with almost all the words. But Romeo and Juliet, in Shakespeare’s play, are about 13 or 14 and 16 or 17, and theirs, we think, is true love.  They are rich kids, and beautiful, though they are not a prince and princess. Rank is apparently not essential to true love. Hankins states: “In Biandello’s story Juliet is eighteen years old, in Brooke’s poem she is sixteen, and in Shakespeare’s play she is nearing her fourteenth birthday” (p. 856). The reason for this is a good question. It increases or emphasizes the innocence of the lovers, but also does something very interesting, in light of a comment of Bloom in the introduction to his edition of Rousseau’s Emile (p. 17): There is disjunction between the natural and conventional age of marriage, between puberty and the age when people are expected to marry. This difference, of course, causes all sorts of interesting circumstances in what are now recognized as the teen years of life, often a very difficult time in many ways. Shakespeare makes the two coincide in the play, and even in the world of Juliet, as her mother also was a bride at fourteen, though of a much older man. But Romeo and Juliet is then in a way an Italian history play.