Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pedro Calderón de la Barca and the Natural Law, Part 4

GENTILITY GRUDGINGLY RESPONDS TO INTELLECT, though she makes clear that she considers it not strictly within her duty to answer. She recognizes Intellect's dual role as Ingenio and Dyonisius, ya que a dos luces me hablas. "I am Gentility," she declares. She's been given a name that signifies whom she represents. She is named after peoples--gens or gentes--because of the sheer magnitude of people she represents.

Pues las gentes que poseo,
Por su grande multitud
Me aclaman así, advirtiendo
Que en las gentes el mayor
Número á mi cargo tengo;

Because of the people I possess,
Because of their great multitude
They call me thus, intimating
That I have in my charge
The largest number of peoples.

Indeed, prior to the coming of Christ and, later, Muhammad, the only people outside Gentility's charge is the Jew and the Atheist.

Bien que negando mis Dioses
El bárbaro Ateismo ciego,
Muchas me llevó tras sí;

Seeing that negating my gods,
That blind barbarian Atheism
Took many of my people behind him;

But that is another topic, a harbinger of what is to come later in the play. Gentility's great rule included Rome, and, by extension, all of Europe, and even Asia. She is in charge of the rites of worship to be given to the unknown God.

Hoy me merece, asistiendo
Al ceremonioso rito
De los devotos festejos
De un ignoto Dios . . .

Today it is my obligation to assist
In the ceremonious rite
Of the festive devotions
To the unknown God . . .

Gentility explains that the temple has no altar, no statute because, though the Gentiles have notice of God, it is a remote notice (noticia remota). The temple is built in the hopes and belief that the remote notice will become one day become proximate or immediate (próxima la tengamos).

Esta invocación le hacemos,
En fe de venturo Dios,
Como aclamando y pidiendo
Que al desocupado solio
Venga á llenar el asiento.

We make this invocation
In faith of the coming of God,
Acclaiming and pleading
That He will come fill the seat
Of the unoccupied canopied throne.

Gentility then anticipates Intellect's next question. It seems that Intellect would ask why it is the Gentiles expect a new God inasmuch as they already have more than three thousand gods. Why, with three thousand gods before them, do they thirst for yet another? The reason for their yearning, Gentility explains, comes from the teachings of their wise men and their learned followers, such as those from the highly-praised School of Athens, honor, parent, luster, and center of great philosophy. Of these, perhaps most significant are the Stoics, as Gentility explains to Intellect.

Los que más señalaron
Fueron los Estoicos, siendo
Cuidado de sus estudios,
De sus vígilas desvelo,
El desprecio de la vida,
Investigando, inquiriendo
Y apurando siempre humildes
(Si ya no es siempre soberbios)
La sacra naturaleza
De los Dioses, discubriendo
En una primera causa,
A cuyo cargo quisieron
Que estuviese reducido
El órden del Universo;
Destos, pues, al creer que todo
Debajo está de un gobierno,
Y que con igual arbitrio
Cuida algun poder inmenso
Desde el hombre hasta el gusano
Y desde el mayor lucero
A la menor planta, dijo
Uno habia un Dios Supremo.

Those whose teachings stand out most
Being careful with their studies,
In their sleepless vigils,
In their contempt for life,
Investigating, inquiring,
Worrying always humbly,
(If now no longer always proud)
About the sacred nature
Of the gods were the Stoics.
These discovered a First Cause
In whose charge they desired
To have reduced
The order of the Universe.
Of these, then, in believing that all
The world is under one government,
And under the self-same will,
From man to the worm,
From the North Star
To the least plant,
One of these declared
That there was but one God.

According to Fiore (29), this is a direct reference to the Natural Law.
Natural law decrees that man is dependent on God and that the act of Worship is due God by knoweldge of his existence. Calderón emphasizes the natural inclination to worship God which is imbedded in la Gentilidad. God is knowable to her although remotely.
Of all the philosophers, the Stoics seemed to have grasped the implications of natural theology and natural law most clearly as Fiore (29) explains:
The Stoic believed that the universe was animated by the Divine Logos who unified the diverse beings into a harmonious hierarchy. God, as the cause of causes, was the Divine Reason in the order and beauty of the Cosmos. Man attained happiness by leading a life that coincided with divine reason, thus obeying the laws of nature and his own conscience.
This God, Gentility continued to elaborate, was all hands, all eyes, all ears, and even cause of all causes. The Stoics provided the hope that at some future point in time, God, the cause of all causes, God, all seeing, all doing, all hearing, would come reveal himself and allow himself to be known:

Cuyos dos altos acuerdos
Pusieron en esperanzas
De que había de venir tiempo
Que este Dios, causa de causas,
De ojos, manos y oídos lleno,
Se nos declare y se dé
A conocer . . . .

For this reason, Gentility explains, the Gentiles seek to ply God with gifts, and obligate him with prayers, in this sacred mountain that rises eminently in the middle of Egyptian Heliopolis, the city of the Sun, and Athens, the seat of all Sciences, with the purpose that he come, declare himself, and make himself known.

And then, adverting to Intellect's muteness when given answer, Gentility assume that Intellect is satisfied, that he is bereft of further argument, idly suspended. Gentility recommends that Intellect participate in the happy cult of the Gentile's music in that in matters of Faith, Intellect's duty is to be silent.

(In assessing Gentility's comment to Intellect, one thinks here of the philosopher Wittgenstein's comment when confronting mystery: "What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence." Or in the the title of the proponent of "Radical Orthodoxy," Catherine Pickstock's book, After Writing: On the Liturgical Consummation of Philosophy. Philosophy directs us to mystery, and our only response is then silence, that is, awe and worship. Ultimately, human reason becomes silent when it confronts what Rudolf Otto called the mysterium tremendum et fascinans that is God. Man's only response is worship: "Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 45:11 [46:10])

Intellect admits he is at a loss for words, that he gapes in wonder at the rite of worship and its pretext or basis. Yet, like Buridan's ass, he is stuck in the middle of neither approval or disapproval, of neither proof or disproof. He is, one might say, agnostic. And yet, seemingly befuddled, he desires to talk with Thought about it.

Thought, however, has impulses of his own. He has no desire to discourse, no desire to talk, no desire to engage in intellectual wrestling or methodological doubt. His only impulse is to dance, to participate in the Gentiles' joyful worship of the God they do not know. Thought shares in the impulse, only it is more reserved, he wants more study. But Thought advises that thought must be temporarily suspended, and action is required:

Pensamiemnto: Pues va de máscara, y baile.
Todos: De tono y letra mudemos.
Gentilidad: ¿En él entras?
Ingenio: Esto solo
Es seguir mi Pensamiento.

Thought: Well go masked and dance
All: Let us move to tone and letter.
Gentility: Will you participate?
Intellect: In this alone, will I follow my Thought.

According to Fiore, the mask represents the second of St. Thomas Aquinas's proofs of God, based upon the notion of efficient cause, which results in the determination that there must be an uncaused cause, the First Cause, namely, God. [S.T. I, q. 2, art. 3]
The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.
Gentility, Intellect, and Thought, along with all others, then join together in harmonious worship. The music begins with the refrain:

Al sacrificio del Dios Ignorado
Acude devoto y festivo el afécto.

To the sacrifice of the Unknown God
Go with devoted and festive affection.

Which is interspersed among the following stanzas, displaying perhaps not so much a primitive notion of an anthropmorphic God with hands, ears, and voice, but rather already touching on the notion of a personal God. We have something here more than force, more than an impersonal First Cause. Indeed, we have intimations of the Trinity, the mysteries of mysteries.

Mostrando, si es causa de todas las causas,
Que humano responda á la causa el afecto.

Showing if he is the cause of all causes,
To whom mankind responds with affection.

* * *

Pidiendo, si es manos, oidos y ojos,
Que venga á tocarnos, oírnos y vernos.

Asking if he is hand, ears, and eyes
That he may touch us, hear us, and see us.

* * *

Pues ya tres mil Dioses no valen por uno,
Cuando el tres es uno y los otros son ceros.

For three thousand gods are not worth one,
When the three is one and the others are zeros.

The festivities and liturgical dance are suddenly interrupted by an earthquake, and the crowd disperses in great fear, leaving Gentility, Intellect, and Thought alone.

Calderón de la Barca

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