Vol. 2, Issue 3
January 26, 2007
IN THIS ISSUE:
1) SCHOLA NEWS: The Bookstore
2) COGITEMUS: What Courtship Is Not
3) DE ASTRIS: Gemini
4) ANNO DOMINI: Timothy, Titus, and Gemini
5) SIC LOCUTUS: John Lyly
SCHOLA NEWS: The Bookstore
Please notice that there is now a link to Schola's Bookstore in the left navigation pane of the Schola homepage. If you visit it, you'll find lists of all the books required for the classes being offered for the '07-'08 school year. Even if you're not taking classes from Schola you might enjoy looking over the lists and clicking the titles to see their description on Amazon; and if you feel the temptation to buy some of these great books and continue your own self-education, why resist? (Note the quotation at the end of this issue and the top of the Schola Bookstore!)
Soon there will be a feature added to the Bookstore that has been a long time coming -- lists of recommended books to supplement the books already listed for the classes. I've tried to construct the Schola Great Books reading lists -- and consequently the Bookstore lists -- such that if a person owned all these books he'd have the foundation for an excellent library. It's not enough but it's a great start. Please browse.
COGITEMUS: What Courtship Is Not
Recently I wrote in this section about the meaning of the word "courtship", and now upon further reflection I really ought to add some words of caution and clarification.
First, I was concerned in that essay merely with the historical meaning of the word. It only confuses issues to use in a brand new or sloppy way words that have a legitimate and known history, and yet nowadays when someone uses the word "courtship" there is no way to know what they're referring to. The word "courtship" historically simply means seeking the favor of someone. The application of that principle to relationships between men and women hoping for marriage can be very wide indeed, depending on culture, time, family circumstances and habits, and many other things. But at rock-bottom it simply means that a man is seeking to win the favorable attention of the woman, however he goes about doing that, whether he goes directly to her or to her father first. Unfortunately, currently it's being used to refer to all kinds of practices which bear astoundingly little relation to the actual historical meaning of the word, just as "classical education" is being used to refer to an amazingly broad spectrum of educational practices, many of which have almost no connection whatsoever with the history of late Roman (Christian) and Medieval education. Currently, "courtship" means everything from surreys with fringes on top straight out of the musical "Oklahoma" to a free-wheeling "make sure my daughter's home before 2 AM" to a misguided "we're courting which means we're engaged," to a domineering dad's "don't you even look at her till the wedding day and, as the father I'll be the go-between and make all the decisions for her."
That last bit leads to my second point. To the extent that I was suggesting anything at all in that first essay about what I think courtship should actually be, I most emphatically was NOT suggesting sympathy with the wicked and monstrous idea that fathers "own" their daughters absolutely and determine what their daughters should think and who they should marry with no regard for the daughter's maturity and wishes. Whatever authority means, it does not mean this. Most of us object to the casual, flippant "dating" practices of modern secular America in which there is no vision for the future of the relationship or desire to honor the parents; but we should be just as wary, if not infinitely more wary, of some of the practices that go by the name of Christian, wherein a father thinks his authority means he can determine every step of the burgeoning relationship, force the relationship into a mold that doesn't take real life into account, and refuse to grant his grown daughter considerable trust and freedom.
A father who is worth anything at all will have raised his daughter in such a way that by the time she is in her late teens he trusts her judgment, respects her maturity, encourages independence for the exercise of her gifts and talents, and doesn't micro-manage. His daughter is still under his headship, of course, and a wise daughter will listen carefully to her father's counsel (and a wise father will have raised her so that she wants to liten to, and trusts, his counsel). But that doesn't require his treating her as though she were still eleven years old. A father who controls every aspect of his grown daughter's life is a father who has failed utterly. A young woman with a father like that may feel that she must still respect his aberrant wishes, but the older men around him should have him shoved up against a wall asking him whether his blind idiocy came natural or did he have to practice a lot.
The third point is that when I asserted that a young woman could conceivably be courted by more than one man at the same time I had no intention whatever of suggesting that she should toy with affections or make her suitors jump through hoops or otherwise treat them with disdain and cruelty. I simply meant that several men may be interested in her and seek her favor before she decides which, if any, she is interested in -- or even before she is aware of their interest. And during the time in which they are seeking her favor ("courting" her) she owes them no more than the normal demands of Christian love and honor which we all owe to each other all the time. A girl does not owe anything special to a young man merely because he is showing interest. What if she is not interested in return? Is she required to accept his wooing simply because he is wooing? Absolutely not. And suppose that while he is struggling to win her attention and admiration another young man begins to do the same -- she is not toying with the affections of either of them if she simply goes about her business and is courteous to both. If they have actually *asked* for permission to "call on her", etc., then of course kindness demands that she tell them of her lack of interest; or, if she is interested in one, that she tell the other kindly that he needs to look elsewhere.
DE ASTRIS: Gemini
If your sky is clear, go out under the stars tonight (Friday, January 26) and find Gemini. Here's how. Find Orion in the southeast (below and to the left of the first quarter moon. Orion's belt points down and left to rising Sirius, the Great Dog Star and the brightest star in the night sky. To the left and up a bit is Procyon, the Little Dog Star. You'll notice that Sirius and Procyon form a rough equilateral triangle with Betelgeuse, the bright red star in Orion's upper left shoulder. Now trace a line from Sirius to Procyon again, but keep going past Procyon and bend up a little - you'll strike two bright stars which are Castor and Pollux, the bright stars in Gemini representing the heads of the Twins. The rest of the stars of the constellation, representing their bodies, are off to the right, but you can ignore them. The upper star is Castor and the lower slightly brighter star is Pollux.
The word "Gemini" means "twins" in Latin and refers to the two brothers of Helen (of Troy). In the ancient world it was common to swear by Castor and Pollux, and this practice continued into the Middle Ages and early modern world but with the constellation name, and in Shakespeare we see the oath, "by Gemini!" which became in more recent times, "by Jiminy!"
Gemini was considered a propitious sign for mariners because the twins had helped calm a storm while sailing on the Argo with Jason to fetch the Golden Gleece and because of the fine spring weather that prevails when Castor and Pollux are in the west at sunset in springtime. Because of this, ships would often have a figurehead of the Twins or their names or images painted on the prow, and certain seaport cities also were considered to be under the special protection of the Twins, and these included Alexandria, Egypt, and Ostia, the port city near Rome. We read in Acts 28:16 that the ship on which Paul sailed to Italy after wintering in Malta was a ship of Alexandria that bore the sign of the "Dioscuri", a Roman name for the Twins. Tyndale's 1526 version says beautifully that it was "a ship of Alexandry, which had wyntered in the Yle, whose badge was Castor and Pollux..."
ANNO DOMINI: Timothy and Titus (and Gemini!)
January 26 in some western church calendars is the commemoration of Timothy, according to legend martyred for opposing a pagan festival, and Titus, Timothy's disciple, companion, and secretary, who organized the church in Crete and was its first bishop. Today you can see the ruins of a very old church, built perhaps only a couple of centuries after Titus's time, at the site of ancient Gortys in the south of Crete.
January 27 is the date of the dedication of the temple of Castor and Pollux by the Romans in 484 B.C. for their help in the victory by the Romans over the Latins at the battle of Lake Regillus in 496 B.C. Centuries later, the temple of Castor and Pollux was a frequent meeting place of the Roman Senate.
It is far more seemly to have thy Studie full of Bookes, than thy Purse full of money.
--John Lyly, Euphues
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