Tag Archives: history

Emperor Julian – To Apollo and The Sun

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The Sun’s resplendent deity I sing,
The beauteous offspring of almighty Jove,
Who, thro’ the vivifying solar fount
Within his fabricative mind conceal’d,
A triad form’d of splendid solar gods;
From whence the world’s all-various forms emerg’d
From mystic darkness into beauteous light,
Perfect, and full of intellectual goods.
Hail! Supermundane king of light divine,
And fairest image of the unknown good:
For, as the light proceeding from the one,
The god of gods, and beauty’s matchless flower,
Intelligibles, with deific rays
Occult, illumes; so from Apollo’s beams
Exulting glorious through harmonic power,
The mental world with elevating light
Is fill’d exub’rant: and th’ apparent Sun
Largely diffuses thro’ the world of sense,
Light, all-prolific, beautiful, divine.
To thee, as bright Apollo, it belongs
All multitude in union to collect,
And many natures generate from one;
With vigour in thy essence to convolve
The diff’rent ranks of secondary forms;
And thro’ one fair hyparxis tocombine

All-various essences and fertile powers.
‘Tis thine, from multitude exempt, t’ inspire
In forms subordinate, prophetic truth;
For truth and pure simplicity are one:
And of preserving unpolluted power,
Thy liberated essence is the source.
Fam’d mystic bards of old, in sacred song,
By thee inspir’d, as th’ arrow-darting god,
Constant invok’d thee, with resistless sway,
Because thy vig’rous beams like arrows pierce,
And totally, whate’er of measure void the world
Inordinate or dark contains, destroy.
And last, thy revolution is the sign
Of motion, harmonizing into one
The various natures of this mighty whole.
Thy first bright Monad hence, illustrious god,
Enunciates truth and intellectual light;
That light, which in the essence of the gods,
Subsists with rays uniting and unknown.
Thy second, ev’ry thing confus’d destroys:
And from thy third, the universe is bound
In beauteous symmetry and just consent,
Thro’ splendid reasons and harmonic power.
Add, that thy essence, ‘midst the mundane gods,
A super-mundane order is assign’d;
An unbegotten and supreme command
O’er all the ranks of generated forms;
And In the ever-flowing realms of sense,
An intellectual dignity of sway.
Progression two-fold, hence, to thee belongs,–
One in conjunction with the mundane gods,
The other supernat’ral and unknown:
For when the Demiurgus form’d the world,
He kindled in the solar sphere a light,
Unlike the splendour of the other orbs,
Drawn from his nature’s most occult retreats,
A symbol fair of intellectual forms;
And openly announcing as it shines
To ev’ry part of this amazing whole,
The essence solitary and arcane

 

Of all the ruling, supermundane gods.
Hence too, when first thy beams the world adorn’d
The mundane gods were ravish’d at the sight;
And round thy orb, with emulative zeal
And symphony divine, desir’d to dance,
And draw abundant from thy fontal light.
‘Tie thine by heat apparent to exalt
Corporeal natures from the sluggish earth,
Inspiring vivid, vegetative power;
And by a nature secretly divine,
And from the base alloy of matter free,
Inherent in thy all-productive rays,
Thou draw’st to union with thy wond’rous form,
Exalted souls, that In dark Hyle’s realms
Indignant struggle for the courts of. light:
All beauteous, seven-rayed, supermundane god!
Whose mystic essence secretly emits
The splendid fountains of celestial light.
For ‘midst the ruling, super-mundane gods
A solar world, and total light subsists;
A light, which as a fertile monad shines
Superior to the three corporeal worlds.
By sacred Oracles of old, ‘tie said,
Thy glorious orb beyond the starry sphere
And in the last etherial world revolves.
But in thy course, harmoniously divine,
Thy orb, quadruply intersects these worlds;
And then twelve powers of radiant gods displays,
Thro’ twelve divisions of the zone oblique.
And still abundant in productive might,
Each into three of diff’rent ranks divides.
Hence, from the fourfold elegance and grace
Of times and seasons, by thy course produc’d,
Mankind a triple benefit receive,
The circling Graces’ never-failing gift.
All-bounteous god, by whom the soul is freed
Prom Generation’s dark corporeal bands,
Assist THY OFFSPRING, borne on mental wings,
Beyond the reach of guileful Nature’s hands
Swift to ascend, and gain thy beauteous world.
The subtle vestment of my soul refine,
Etherial, firm, and full of sacred light,
Her ancient vehicle by thee assign’d;
In which invelop’d, thro’ the starry orbs,
Urg’d’ by the Impulse of insane desire,

 

She fail’d precipitate, till Lethe’s shore,
Involv’d in night, unhappily she touch’d,
And lost all knowledge of her pristine state:
O best of gods, blest dæmon crown’d with fire,
My soul’s sure refuge in the hour of woe,
My port paternal in the courts of light,
Hear, and from punishment my soul absolve,
The punishment incurr’d by pristine guilt,
Thro’ Lethe’s darkness and terrene desire:
And if for long-extended years I’m doom’d
In these drear realms Heav’n’s exile to remain,
Oh! grant me soon the necessary means
To gain that good which solitude confers
On souls emerging from the bitter waves
Of fraudful Hyle’s black, impetuous flood.
That thus retiring from the vulgar herd,
And impious converse of the present age,
My soul may triumph o’er her natal ills;
And oft with thee In blissful union join’d
Thro’ energy Ineffable, may soar
Beyond the highest super-mundane forms;
And in the vestibule supreme survey,
Emerging from th’ intelligible deep,
Beauty’s transcendent, solitary Sun.

Translated by Thomas Taylor (1793)

The Roman Emperor Julian (331-363 CE) suceeded Constantius in 361 CE. He shocked the empire by renouncing Christianity, which earned him the title ‘the Apostate’ by Church historians. He issued an edict of religious freedom, rebuilt the Pagan temples, ended banishment of religious exiles, and eliminated special privileges for Christian officials. He founded the Neo-platonic school of philosophy. Julian spurned the decadant Byzantine palace; he dressed simply, studied philosophy, promulgated tax reform, and fostered study of the humanities and arts. However, his reign lasted only twenty months; he died in June of 363 in battle with the Persians, possibly at the hand of a Christian.


Wyld’s Great Globe in Leicester Square

800px-Greatglobe_sectionalWyld’s Great Globe (also known as Wyld’s Globe or Wyld’s Monster Globe) was an attraction situated in London’s Leicester Square between 1851 and 1862, constructed by James Wyld (1812–1887), a distinguished mapmaker and former Member of Parliament for Bodmin. At the centre of a purpose-built hall was a giant globe, 60 feet 4 inches (18.39 m) in diameter. The globe was hollow and contained a staircase and elevated platforms which members of the public could climb in order to view the surface of the earth on its interior surface, which was modelled in plaster of Paris, complete with mountain ranges and rivers all to scale. Punch described the attraction as “a geographical globule which the mind can take in at one swallow.”

By day the globe was illuminated by the light from the glass set into the dome directly above it and by night with gas lighting.Visitors entered the globe through an opening into the Pacific Ocean, then ascended through a series of four platforms. At each stage they could see a different portion of the world represented on the concave interior face of the globe. The platform scaffolding was built up from the conveniently desolate Southern Ocean; Antarctica was largely unknown at the time – Wyld dismissed stories of the existence of a great Southern continent:

“It was formerly imagined that a great continent must exist somewhere towards the South Pole, to counterbalance the mass of land lying in the northern hemisphere, but the discoveries of the English, under Ross, and of the American, French, and Russian navigators, prove, that although a large mass of broken land, with volcanoes now burning, exists there, the southern continent cannot be of a great extent.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wyld%27s_Great_Globe

The Poetry of Dafydd Ap Gwilym – The Nightingale of Dyfed

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Dafydd ap Gwilym was described by his fellow-poet Madog Benfras as eos Dyfed, “the nightingale of Dyfed”. Dafydd was born sometime between 1320 and 1330 and died around 1380. He was a member of one of the most influential families in South Wales, and was buried at Strata Florida like many of the princes of Dyfed. Consequently he felt no need to look up to the English conquerors. Neither was he dependent on the patronage of noble families, unlike most of his contemporaries. This was to have a profound effect on the subject matter of his poetry, which is lighter, and more playfully risqué than the other works of his age.

It is believed that he was educated in the court of his Uncle Llywelyn ap Wilym ab Einion, a man of great learning. He was to be surrounded by the greatest European works of the time, from which he borrows a great deal of his subject matter and style. Dafydd skilfully ties this in with the Welsh tradition – a master of ‘cynghanedd’ and the ‘awdl’ he was to create works of great beauty and merit. His poems are often merry and playful. His tales of the adventures experienced whilst trying to court young ladies, Morfudd and Dyddgu in particular, are truly hilarious. Dafydd also wrote extremely beautiful nature poetry, and there is a general consensus that he is one of, if not the greatest of Welsh poets and of European stature.

Dafydd ap Gwilym, Wales’ greatest poet (and lover!), is a fascinating yet shadowy figure from the past. He was born in the early part of the fourteenth century, a contemporary of Boccaccio and some thirty years older than Chaucer. He spent his early years in Llanbadarn with his parents and with his uncle Llywelyn in Castell Newydd Emlyn. He spent much of his later life in exile, and, so popular belief has it, was buried in Strata Florida, near Tregaron. Llywelyn was described by Dafydd as a warrior, as Lord of Dyfed, and also as a poet, a scholar, a linguist and a teacher. Llywelyn and Dafydd were learned and cultured: they probably spoke several languages and were versed in both contemporary and in classical literature. Dafydd describes Llywelyn’s house, Cryngae, as a white-washed house perched on a hill, with lamps burning brightly, with seats covered with silk brocade, and in which fine French wine was drunk from cups of gold.

I took the above from an old file of mine, that I put together many years ago, and unfortunately the links no longer work – sadly, the link to the notes below no longer works either! It is regrettable that I cannot credit the work and words to their rightful owners.

His family originated from the cantref of Cemais in Pembrokeshire, and it had in earlier generations included several officials who had held positions of high authority in the same area under the English crown. The few datable allusions which Dafydd makes to contemporary events all point to the middle years of the 14th century as his period of maximum poetic output: he may thus have been born about 1320 – a slightly older contemporary of Geoffrey Chaucer.

Tradition places Dafydd’s birth at Brogynin in the parish of Llanbadarn Fawr, a few miles north-east of Aberystwyth, in a substantial mansion or plasty which lay adjacent to a farmhouse still retaining this name. It is believed that he lies buried not far away, near Pontrhydfendigaid, within the precincts of the monastery of Strata Florida. Several poems indicate that the neighbourhood of Aberystwyth and north Ceredigion was more familiar to Dafydd than any other part of Wales, yet he appears to have travelled widely throughout the length and breadth of the country, and to have been well-acquainted with places in Anglesey such as the borough of Rhosyr or Newborough, and with Bangor and Caernarfon in Gwynedd. He may also have visited Chester, whose famous Cross is the subject of a poem which has latterly come to be accepted as belonging to the canon of his work; but there is no indication other than this that Dafydd ever travelled beyond the borders of Wales.

He describes himself, no doubt fancifully, as a member of the clêr: these were the Welsh equivalents of the clerici vagantes or “wandering scholars” of other countries, and Dafydd may indeed have qualified at an early period in his life for minor religious orders – a not uncommon practice. But the indications are that he was a man of birth and breeding, and of no fixed occupation, who had sufficient means to travel at will through town and country, visiting the taverns in the Norman boroughs, and the homes of his cultivated friends over a wide area of Wales. And in both tavern and plasty there were no doubt to be found audiences fully capable of appreciating the cywyddau which, in their different kinds, he composed for their entertainment.

Dafydd’s range of personal contacts included his fellow-poet Gruffudd ab Adda, Madog Benfras, and Gruffudd Gryg – the last being an Anglesey poet with whom Dafydd exchanged a sequence of cywyddau in the form of a debate concerning the proper subjects to be treated of in the newly-introduced cywydd verse-form. Among his friends and acquaintances were also uchelwyr or men of hereditary station in Ceredigion and further to the south – men such as Rhydderch ab Ieuan Llwyd of Glyn Aeron and his family, and his uncle Llywelyn ap Gwilym, the constable of Newcastle Emlyn, who appears to have been a powerful educational influence upon the poet’s early life. Dafydd’s uncle may, perhaps, have been the first to have introduced Dafydd to the “two cultures” – that is to the native bardic tradition as well as to the language and poetry and romances of the Anglo-Norman world. There was in addition Dafydd’s friend and patron Ifor ap Llywelyn or “Ifor Hael” of Basaleg in present-day Gwent. To all of these men he addressed praise-poems which by the very fact of their existence provide an authentic framework, however exiguous and inadequate, for the bare facts of the poet’s life. For in all his other compositions but these few poems, fantasy intermingles with fact to such an extent that it is impossible to distinguish the one from the other, or to estimate the degree of reality which lies behind what Dafydd ruefully presents as his perpetually thwarted love-affairs.

Love and Nature are the prime subjects of his poetry, and the two are very frequently blended, for he presents his love-theme most characteristically in an idealised woodland setting, in which he imagines himself as building a deildy or house of leaves and branches in which to shelter with his chosen sweetheart – “Morfudd” or “Dyddgu” or some other un-named girl, making his retreat with her in the wilderness, as an escape from the hampering restrictions of conventional society.

There is a website dedicated to his work, and it can be a little fiddly to navigate initially, but it’s easy once you familiarise yourself with it. There is a choice of language on the home page, so for English speakers, select English. Then select “The Poems”. You are then asked to choose a poem, and there is a drop down list, but the list is in Welsh! Once you select the poem however, there are options along the bottom of the page; one of which is “English Translation”. On selecting this option, the poem is shown in Welsh on the left hand side of the page, and in English on the right. For non-Welsh speakers, it’s pretty much pot luck selecting the verse, but as his verse is very beautiful, you can’t go wrong.

http://www.dafyddapgwilym.net/index_eng.php
Here is one example: The Wind from

Sky-wind, unhindered course,
mighty commotion passing yonder,
you are a harsh-sounding minstrel,
4 world’s fool without foot or wing.
It’s amazing how wondrously you were sent
from the pantry of the sky without any feet,
and how swiftly you run
8 now across the hilltop on high

Constant hymn, tell me your destination,
you north wind of the valley.
You fly the length and breadth of the world,
12 hilltop weather, be on high tonight,
oh man, and go to Uwch Aeron
nice and gently, a clear song.
Don’t wait, don’t restrain yourself,
16 don’t be afraid despite Bwa Bach,
[he who] serves a malicious accusatory complaint.
The land and its nurture is closed to me.

[One who] steals nests, though you winnow leaves
20 no one indicts you, you are not restrained
by any swift troop, nor officer’s hand,
nor blue blade nor flood nor rain.
No mother’s son can kill you (false expression),
24 fire won’t burn you, deceit won’t weaken you.
You won’t drown, you’ve been forewarned,
you won’t get entangled, you are smooth.
There’s no need for any swift horse beneath you,
28 or bridge over estuary, nor boat.
No official or retinue will arrest you
to bring you to judgement, winnower of treetop foliage.
No eyesight can see you, huge open lair,
32 thousands hear you, nest of the great rain.

You are God’s blessing over all the earth,
roaring, fierce shattering of oaktree tops,
swift-natured notary of the sky,
36 fine leaper over many barren lands.
Dry nature, powerful creature,
trampler of the sky, immense journey,
shooter on snowfields up above,
40 noisy disperser of chaff-heaps,
storm agitating the sea,
high-spirited lad on beach waves,
you are a fine author of an awdl who scatters snow,
44 you are a scatterer, a pursuer of leaves,
free laugher [on] hilltop,
thruster of the wild-masted white-breasted sea.

Woe is me that I placed deep love
48 on Morfudd, my golden girl.
A maiden made me an exile,
run on high to her father’s house.
Knock on the door, make it open
52 to my messenger before daybreak,
and seek a way to her, if there be one,
and sing the voice of my sigh.
You come from the splendid stars,
56 say this to my noble faithful maid:
as long as I be in the world,
I am a true servant.
Woeful is my face without her,
60 if it is true that she is not untrue.
Go up on high, you will see the fair girl,
go down below, sky’s favourite.
Go to fair-haired Morfudd Llwyd,
64 come back safely, you are the sky’s treasure.

Echoes of Gilgamesh in the Jacob Story

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Echoes of Gilgamesh in the Jacob Story  – Esther J. Hamori

Excerpt:
“It was popular for some time to seek apparent Near Eastern parallels to bibli-cal narratives. The methodology employed was at times problematic, and conclusions were often overstated, as similarities between texts explicable in any number of ways were attributed to direct relationship.
For some biblical texts, of course,there is stronger evidence for Near Eastern influence. I propose that this is the casein regard to one text for which a Near Eastern counterpart has not previously been suggested: the story of Jacob’s wrestling match in Gen 32:23–33 (Eng. 32:22–32).There is reason to believe that the Israelite author knew some form of Gilgamesh,and particularly the scene of the wrestling match between Gilgamesh and Enkidu.
The case presented here is not simply one of a shared motif or logical group-ing of elements, but one of an unexpected and striking series of correspondences
[…]
“The final outcome of the match is shared by the two texts as well. In each casethe victor is blessed by his attacker. It should be noted immediately that this is nota usual context for a blessing. As Westermann has observed, this is in fact the only place in the Tanakh in which a blessing is acquired through a struggle.

Furthermore, the two blessings are similar in both form and content. Jacob’s attacker declares: “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with human beings, and have prevailed” (Gen 32:28). This can be divided into two parts. First, the divine opponent makes a declaration regarding the identity and legacy of Jacob in relation to God; second, he affirms that Jacob has prevailed over all others. Enkidu’s blessing of victorious Gilgamesh follows the same pattern: “As one unique your mother bore you, the wild cow of the sheep-folds, Ninsunna! Your head is extolled above men; kingship of the people Enlil hasdecreed for you” (P 234–39). Again, the first statement is in regard to the identity and legacy of Gilgamesh in relation to his mother, the goddess; the second statement affirms that Gilgamesh prevails over all others. In both cases, the force of the blessing is clear: the hero will continue to prevail as the divinely appointed father or leader of his people.”

Full Paper: http://www.academia.edu/1213087/_Echoes_of_Gilgamesh_in_the_Jacob_Story_JBL_130_2011_625-42

With thanks to History of The Ancient World

The Virga Aurea – Seventy-two magical and other related alphabets.

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“In order to bring all this mass of material together, Hepburn must have had a wide range of source material to study, and it seems most likely that this material was available in the Vatican Library itself. As to what Hepburn’s motives were for publishing such a collection of alphabets, we can only speculate. He certainly produced these in a form which gave it scholarly respectability and also by heading it with the figure of the Virgin Mary, using the pun ‘Virga’ Rod-Virgin, gave it credibility in terms of the Church. The timing of the publication, 1616, right at the centre of the Rosicrucian/hermetic publishing period, suggests that Hepburn in his own way may have been responding to that impulse. Under the guise of the Virgin Mary heading the plate, Hepburn was able to publicly reveal the symbolism of many alphabets, and in particular, magical alphabets. If we further take into account Hepburn’s interest in the Kabbalah, and his translation and publication of a Solomonic occult text, I think we are justified in assuming that Hepburn may have, in some small way, contributed to the public revelation at that time of the esoteric wisdom of the past. At the very least one can suggest that he was inspired by this movement into producing the Virga Aurea. As librarian at the Vatican, he certainly would have received early copies of the Rosicrucian publications. The Virga Aurea, although a single large engraving contains such a mass of detail that an exhaustive analysis will be left till later.” By Adam McLean. First published in the Hermetic Journal 1980.

For more images and to read more about the Virga Aurea, follow the link to the article on Adam McLean’s website, below

http://www.levity.com/alchemy/virga_aurea.html

The Unsolved Mystery of the Tunnels at Baiae | Past Imperfect

The Unsolved Mystery of the Tunnels at Baiae | Past Imperfect.

“The antrum at Baiæ proved difficult to explore. A sliver of tunnel, obviously ancient and manmade, disappeared into a hillside close to the ruins of a temple. The first curious onlookers who pressed their heads into its cramped entrance beat a hurried retreat–the pitch-black passageway was uncomfortably hot and wreathed in sulfurous smoke. There the mystery rested while the Second World War intervened, and it was not revived until, early in the 1950s, the site came to the attention of Robin Paget.”

The Death of the Gods – Julian the Apostate by Dmitry Merezhkovsky

The Death of Gods. Julian the Apostate came out in 1895 (Severny Vestnik, ##1–6); it opened the Christ & Antichrist trilogy and in retrospect is regarded as the first Russian symbolist novel. This publication made all the difference […]  Critics there were aplenty (most of them denouncing the author’s alleged Nietzscheanity), but not one of them dared to question this debut’s major significance. As for allies, they were ecstatic. “A novel made for eternity”, Bryusov marveled. Five years later Julian the Apostate was published in France (translated by Z. Vassilieva) and made Merezhkovsky a respected European author. Read the book in English online, here: http://archive.org/stream/deathgods01meregoog#page/n10/mode/2up

wiki page about Merezhkovsky: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dmitry_Merezhkovsky