Posted by: ken98 | May 31, 2011

Orcs, Ticks, Shepherd Kings, and Consoling Philosophy

Day 627 – Ken here (T)(5-31-2011)
(DEF II, v.4 Ch.39,40 pp.550-560)(pages read: 1610)

The Tick - verbally expressing a desire to get on with it - he was a New England Comics character (1986) and an animated TV series (1994) with a talent and predilection for the absurd

The Tick - verbally expressing a desire to get on with it - "it" being whatever long, complicated job lies ahead - like nailing down the Emperor Justinian - he was a New England Comics character (1986) and an animated TV series (1994) with a talent and predilection for the absurd - the Tick I mean, not the Eastern Emperor Justinian


 

Man! I did it again – made it into a very, very, very long day.

But I’ve always wanted to learn more about Boethius, and here Gibbon has him taking up MOST of today – all in all a good thing – because Boethius is a mass of contradictions – at least to me – a saint who’s most famous written works are not centered on Christianity, a “classical” Roman born at the very tail-end of Roman Italy, a Roman senator named for a Greek Hero – Boeotus (I’m guessing – his name is oddly un-Roman – to me).

We will also see the last of Theodoric, i.e. we’ll see Theodoric killing Boethius, killing Symmachus, and then see him die, and see his tomb.

And just like a tiny cloud appearing on the horizon can actually signify the largest hurricane, we will quickly run through 3 pages on the emperors Justin and Justinian and how they came to power in the East. This innocent beginning (looking at the accession of Uncle Justin and nephew Justinian from the sticks in Macedonia) is actually the subject of almost the whole 4th volume of Gibbon.

We will move through about the same amount of time (60 years) of Roman history that took us 10 pages only a chapter ago (the emperors Zeno and Anastasius) – only it will stretch for almost 300 pages. I’m actually looking forward to it as I like Justinian, his wife (the former prostitute, and now a saint) Theodora, and their devious, and somewhat schizophrenic historian-friend Procopius. It will be an interesting month and a half of blogging – and it all starts here.

so… onwards and upwards….or as some would say (like The Tick) Spoon!

The Story
 
Boethius (480-524/5) – Early Life, Studies
 
  • Extreme Twilight of Classical Rome
  • Born wealthy orphan of fabulously rich Anician family – family used to own considerable portion of empire in centuries past
  • Called the Last of the Romans – wrote one of the most well-used phil tracts (dur Middle Ages) – De Consolatione Philosophiae – On the Consolation of Philosophy
  • Studied Latin, Greek, wrote textbooks/translated/taught Geometry (Euclid), Music (Pythagoras), Arithmetic (Nicomachus), Mechanics (Archimedes), Astronomy (Ptolemy), Theology (Plato, Porphyry)
  •  

    Boethius – Service To State, Treason Accus
     
  • Married daughter of friend Symmachus, of another extremely wealthy old Senatorial Roman family – orig a very pagan family, but providing Popes in the late 400’s (the controversial and belligerent Pope Symmachus 498)
  • A very honorable PUBLIC LIFE of SERVICE also: Senator at 25 (505). Consul at 30 (510), he had both his sons as Consuls for the year (a very very rare honor – Emperor Anastasius in the East had to accede to Theodoric’s wishes and give up his choice for Consul for that year to allow both Consuls to be from the West – Rome – see Fasti Roman Consuls Online – Wikifor years 522 (for his sons), and 510 (for him)
  • Could have been styled the most happy of men at this point
  • In defending Senator Albinus, against charges of treason (“hoping” to conspire with Byzantines-East Romans – at the end of his life, Theodoric was given to treason trials – like so many Roman leaders), Boethius made the mistake of claiming that if Albinus were guilty, he and the rest of the Senate were equally guilty – this earned him his own treason trial and prison
  •  

    Boethius – In Prison, Writes – On the Consolation of Philosophy (524)
     
  • Awaiting execution, Imprisoned in a tower in Pavia, he wrote a book to himself, on the consoling effects of the knowledge of philosophy – the benefits of studying philosophy on a person’s life (524)
  • It became, accidentally, a best-seller of the Middle Ages and Boethius’s name became a household word (in students’ households at least) as everyone had to study and memorize him
  • Although Boethius wrote many Christian works and was an ardent Christian – the book is notable for having little or no direct references to Christianity as a grounds for consolation, instead relying on that of the philosophers of the last 900 years
  • A very popular book – even England’s King Alfred the Great (late 800’s) translated it (into Old English) – see here (Samuel Fox trans. York Univ Canada) for a translation of his translation online
  •  

    Boethius – Death
     
  • Boethius defends the Senator Albinus on charges of treason (for “hoping” for Byzantine/East Roman help and re-establishing Roman rule over Italy – apparently, like most Roman leaders late in life, Theodoric gave himself over to rampant paranoia and treason trials)
  • Boethius unfortunately declares that if Albinus is guilty of treason for such a cause (hoping) that Boethius himself and the entire Senate is equally guilty – Albinus is executed, and this last remark of Boethius lands him in prison in a tower in Pavia
  • While he is awaiting execution, he writes his little book De Consolatione Philosophiae, and is later strangled and beaten to death
  • Symmachus (his father-in-law) makes the mistake of MOURNING Boethius and is executed for treason also
  • His body is later transferred by Holy Roman Emperor Otto III (ca. 1000) to a church in Pavia, San Pietro in Ciel d Oro as a martyr (since he was executed by a heretic – an Arian Christian Theodoric, he qualifies as a martyr), and was declared a saint by the Catholic Church in 1883 despite the Consolation’s lack of a Christian foundation – one explanation (2008) “Pope Benedict XVI explains the relevance of Boethius to modern day Christians by linking his teachings to an understanding of Providence” – see Papal General Audience Transcript (orig ref from Wiki)
  • Cassiodorus took over as Theodoric’s Master of Offices when Boethius fell from favor – altho he doesn’t mention Boethius’s death in his official correspondence – his prudent silence probably the reason why Cassiodorus lived to a ripe old age and founded a monastery, and Boethius died a criminal
  •  

    Theodoric – Death
     
  • Theodoric (per Procopius) is dining, sees a fish with a gruesome head served him(expressive eyes, point teeth), is reminded of the head of Symmachus (recently executed), is horrified, takes ill, dies 3 days later of flux, and is seen (his soul at least) taken in chains (or dragged off by a mysterious devil-lake man and a black horse) and thrown into a volcano on Lipari presumably into the underworld – where all Arian Chiristians go
  • There is (apparently) a great deal of legends about Theodoric and his Damnation involving black horses, volcanos – see here – AncientWorlds.net Germania accounts from none other than Procopius, Gregory the Great, then Otto of Freising and on throughout the Middle Ages – the Black Horse Legends
  • Thoedoric dies remorseful (8-30-526) – altho I have to say, its a very Romano-centric idea that in his last days he thought, not of Ostrogoths, his family or his kingdom, but of his mis-treatment of Roman nobility – kind of suspicious history that a barbarian king is only as good as his treatment of civilized Romans
  • Succeeded by daughter Amalsuntha – Theodoric is buried in the famous Mausoleum in Ravenna
  •  

    SHEPHERD KINGS – Emperors Justinian/Justin – Life/Access of Justin (late 400’s), Emperor Justin (7-518 to 4-527)
     
  • Famous Eastern Emperor (and well-documented – but famous and well-documented are just SYNONYMS) Justinian born May 482 or 483
  • Start on Justinian’s history – next 4 chapters! and 300! pages are all about Justinian (the next 60 years – ca. 500-560’s) – in comparison (due to Gibbon’s not having much sources – we breezed through approx. 50 years in the East (Zeno, Anastasius) in about 5 pages
  • Justin, a shepherd, and Justinian’s uncle, with a couple of other shepherds take off from the sticks of Bulgaria to the bright lights of Constantinople.
  • Because of their strength, size, physical proportions, they are enrolled under the emperor Leo as palace guards and serve many long years in Isaurian (Turkey) and Persian wars
  • Justin becomes chief of the guards, and, at the point of Anastasius death (this all from Procopius), the eunuch Amantius gives Justin a great amt of money to bribe the guards to elevate a non-entity that Amantius controls to emperor – but Justin keeps the money and uses it to bribe the guard to elect HIM< JUSTIN emperor (7-10-518, he's emperor 518-4-1-527) – with great help from Justinian
  •  

    Adoption, Accession of Justinian (520-527), How Justinian won the People Over
     
  • Justin is a rough, illiterate soldier, relies on quaestor Proclus and others (his relatives, like his nephew Justinian) – Justin adopts Justinian as his son 4-1-520, and Justinian is consul – (see Fasti – Roman Consul List – for 521 in the East – right before Boethius’s sons in 522) and from this date Justinian and he rule – Justin contrives to kill the members of the older cabals that had other candidates for emp (ex. Amantius, Vitalian)
  • Justinian is also Master of Offices – and instead of campaigning militarily outside of the city, Justinian spends fortunes courting the populace of Constantinople with games, races, and feasts – from his consulship, he essentially reigns – Justin dies 4-527
  • Justinian the Great now sole emperor after Justin’s death
  •  

    Justin I  - tremissis coin - we only have coins for images of Justin, but have multiple (and beautiful) mosaic portraits for his nephew and successor Justinian I

    Justin I - tremissis coin - we only have coins for images of Justin, but have multiple (and beautiful) mosaic portraits for his nephew and successor Justinian I

     

    Reconstruction of Justinian's face - available on a tee shirt from bigicetees.com search on Byzantine

    Imaginative reconstruction of Justinian's face - he was supposed to have been short, muscular, blond, blue-eyed and handsome, so maybe this is a somewhat accurate likeness from a couple of decades before he became emperor at 45 - who knows? - from and available on a tee shirt from bigicetees.com - search on Byzantine - a bridal t-shirt shop!


     
    Justinian from a mosaic in Ravenna in San Vitale - a city he retook and then plastered with the most beautiful Byzantine mosaics - he's the important-looking guy in the center (obviously)

    Justinian from a mosaic in Ravenna in San Vitale - a city he retook and then plastered with the most beautiful Byzantine mosaics - he's the important-looking guy in the center (obviously) - I've seen these in person - the tile colors are both extraordinary AND 1500 years old


     

    The link to the tea shirt online store: BigIceTees – although, why you’d want Byzantine t-shirts for your bridal party is something I’m not quite getting. It must be a 21st century bride thing.
     

    I’ll take Tombs for 500
     

    Tombs of the Day: Boethius, followed quickly by Theodoric.
     

    Boethius - his tomb in Pavia

    Boethius - his tomb in Pavia in San Pietro in Ciel d Oro -


     
    Mausoleum of Theodoric in Ravenna - it is now below ground level in a low pit (excavated due to a stream which gradually silted-over and partially buried it) - it is nearly empty inside  - Theodoric's body apparently long gone, even in Charlemagne's time (200 years later) - the architecture is unique - possibly a tent in stone  - a lost, dead-end of Germanic architecture

    Mausoleum of Theodoric in Ravenna - it is now below ground level in a low pit (excavated due to a stream which gradually silted-over and partially buried it) - it is nearly empty inside - Theodoric's body apparently long gone, even in Charlemagne's time (200 years later) - the architecture is unique - possibly a tent in stone - a lost, dead-end of Germanic architecture


     

    Orcs - beings who are NOT created evil, but twisted versions of other created beings.  An example (to some) of Boethius's (and his Consolation of Philosophy's) influence on modern day authors - a painting of Orcs from Lord of the Rings - from llotr.wikia.com/wiki/Orc

    Orcs - beings who are NOT created evil, but twisted versions of other created beings. An example (to some) of Boethius's (and his Consolation of Philosophy's) influence on modern day authors - a still from the Lord of the Rings film - from llotr.wikia.com/wiki/Orc


     
     
     
     

    Last Word…
    J.R.R. Tolkien and the Christian View of Evil
     

    Tolkien has a very specific idea of evil: that evil is not a thing opposite of good, but is instead the absence of good – that evil is therefor not capable of creation, of things new, but can only weakly imitate what has already been created – Sauron can only twist existing races out of shape (an example his “creation” of orcs), but cannot create in a positive sense.

    This from Wiki:

    Author Tom Shippey has noted several Boethian influences in J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Lord of the Rings. It is documented fact that Tolkien was very familiar with Alfred the Great’s Anglo-Saxon translation of Consolation of Philosophy, known as the Lays of Boethius. Shippey contends that this Christian view of evil is most clearly stated by Boethius: “evil is nothing.” He says Tolkien used the corollary that evil cannot create as the basis of Frodo’s remark, “the Shadow … can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own,” and related remarks by the Ent Treebeard and the Elvenking Elrond.[49]
    [edit]

    (from Wiki – Boethius)

    There is even controversy here (see a Lord of the Rings fansite conversation thread here, and some gratuitous Wiki-bashing also (it fascinates me that people actually think the MEDIA an argument is presented in affects the amount of scholarly research and careful thought applied to its logic – these people have obviously never written or edited books – BUT, that’s just more gratuitous Ken-carping and whining about carping and whining – worth about what you paid for it).

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