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.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pedro Calderón de la Barca and the Natural Law, Part 6

THE INTELLECT DECIDES TO WAKE SLUMBERING ATHEISM, an Atheism that is completely unperturbed by the world's suffering. Awakened, Atheism does not recognize Intellect.

¿Al Ingenio no conoces?
Bien se ve cuán bruto eres.

You don't recognize Intellect?

Well now do I know how obtuse you are.

Intellect wants to elicit Atheism's opinion of the natural phenomena they have witnessed. In short, he wants Atheism to explain suffering. In Intellect's effort to search for truth, he is willing to listen to Atheism's views. In response, Atheism likens the Cosmos to the human body, composed of different qualities, the four humors, and subject similarly to sickness and disease. Like the human body, the Cosmos, a universal body, is subject to the heat or cold of distemper. The world is subject to grippe. Atheism is therefore not surprised by the distempers of the time. They are no more surprising to him than the common cold, and for this reason he was able to sleep during their occurrence.

Calderón de la Barca

Intellect asks Atheism whether he has given thought to how his theory tallies with the notion of a First Cause.

ATEÍSMO: ¿Quién primera causa ha sido?
INGENIO: Un dios, que vamos buscando
por todo el mundo los dos.

ATEÍSMO: ¿Un dios?


ATEÍSMO: ¿Qué cosa es Dios?

INGENIO: Eso voy investigando.

ATHEISM: What is the First Cause?
INTELLECT: One God, Whom we two
are seeking
all around the world.


ATHEISM: What sort of a thing is God?

INTELLECT: That's what I'm investigating.

This is one search Atheism has never bothered with, because he presupposed that he would not, indeed could not, find such a Being.

How, then, Intellect, challenges, does Atheism explain the existence of the World? The World apparently exists. Who, then, made it? Intellect asks.

Atheism's answer is that the World made itself: Él se hizo. How then explain the order in the World, its regularity? The fact that the Sun sets in the West, and not the East? All, this, Atheism suggests, is happenchance. Uno y otro sería acaso.

And so, Atheism's life, his being, his soul, his eyes are the result of happenchance?

Y di, ¿el acaso podía darte
a ti vida, alma y ser?

Quien dio ojos para ver
todo ojos no sería.
¿Quien dio oídos, todo oídos?

ien manos, ¿manos todo?
¿Y de aquese mismo modo
es todos cuantos sentidos

con superior armonía

le dieron ser al no ser?

And tell me, could chance give
You life, soul, and being?

Who gave you eyes to see
Wouldn't it be one who is all-seeing?

Who gave ears? The all-hearing?

Who gave hands? One that is all-hands?
And in the same vein
All the other senses

With superior harmony

Came into being from nothing?

Atheism simply points out the fact that he did nothing but be born, knows not why, nor when. His father gave him birth, just like his father's father gave his father birth, and so ad infinitum. He sees no reason in anything.

Intellect insists, going back generations, who was at the beginning? What started this chain? Atheism suggests that it is all explicable through corruption of prime matter.

Puedo pensar que la prima materia
se corrompió
y al
primer hombre engendró.

I like to think that prime

Matter became corrupt

And engendered the first man.

But this is sheer materialism, and cannot explain those things in man that cannot be said to be material. This does not explain the reason in the human soul, nor does it explain its immortal nature. Intellect asks:

Y el alma que en él anima,
¿pudo de corrupción tal
¿No lo ves,
siendo inmortal como es?

How can the immortal soul have engendered itself as a result of corruption? Atheism shrugs his shoulders, and denies that the soul is spiritual and enjoys immortality. His only knowledge is that only birth and death are certain. Beyond that he knows nothing else. He suggests that they stop the discussion so as to be friends and proposes an Epicurean ethic:

Yo no sé que hay más que nacer y morir.
Y así argumentos dejemos,

y por que amigos seamos

comamos hoy y bebamos,

que mañana moriremos.

I don't know that there is anything more
Than birth and dying.

And so, let us leave arguments aside,

And so as to be friends

Let us eat and drink today,

For tomorrow we die.

Atheism, who believes not in eternal life and the resurrection of the dead, has read St. Paul or Isaiah, or shares in their sentiments, though not in their faith: "If the dead are not raised, 'Let's eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.'" (1 Cor. 15:32; Cf. Isaiah 22:13) Atheism does not believe in eternal life, and so, like a beast, he falls for a shallow Epicurean ethic. There is no mention of the darker side of Atheism's ethic, one mentioned by the character Ivan in Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov, and one reflected in such modern horrors as the Holocaust, or in Stalin's and Mao's brutal policies: "If there is no God, then everything's permitted."

This simply too much for Intellect. One cannot argue with someone who denies first principles. He speaks with the same frustration, perhaps, as King Juan Carlos did at the empty verbal tripe of Hugo Chavez.

Calla, calla, que tan ciega
doctrina no se ha de oír,
pues no se debe arguir

con quien los principios niega.

Hush, hush, such blind

Doctrine ought not to be heard,

As one cannot argue

With he who first principles denies.

Thought becomes belligerent at Atheism's wholesale refusal to reason, at his crass materialism, his carpe-diem attitude.

Discursos buenos ni malos
con él no tienes que hacer,
que éstos no se han de vencer

a razones, sino a palos.

Amigo, si no hay primera
¿quién mueve mi
a darte este mojicón?

Neither good nor bad discourse

Do you have to engage in with him,

Persons like these one cannot defeat

With reason, but with sticks.

Friend, if there is not a First Cause,
Then who is it that moves my

Action to give this this punch in the face?

Thought smacks Atheism in the face. Are you crazy, loco? Atheism asks. Upon learning that it is Thought that hit him, Atheism decides to flee, as he mutters that he has not ever in his life been pleased with Thought and seeks not to have his life burdened by it. Though Intellect attempted to stop the fray, he realizes the vanity of it:

No en vano confieso
sus devaneos
Theos Dios y Antitheos

el contradiós, con que es llano

que los ateístas son
por quien
David repetía
que el no haber Dios
lo decía
el necio en su corazón.

Not in vain,

Do I confess, the idle pursuit
Theos God and Antitheos

The Anti-God; it is plain

That the atheists are those

Of whom David repeated
That he who says there is no God

Is a fool in his heart.

This is a clear reference to Psalm 14(13):1: Dixit stultus in corde suo non est Deus.

It is right to flee from this error, Intellect observes. But this causes Thought to ask what they are now to do:

PENSAMIENTO: ¿Y dónde habrá en quien reposes
si huyes de quien tiene dioses

y huyes de quien no los tiene?

THOUGHT: And where will you ultimately settle

If you run from those who have gods,

And you run from those who have none?

To which Intellect responds:

INGENIO En quien tenga sólo uno,
que si un error a otro igualo,

tener muchos es tan malo

como no tener ninguno.

INTELLECT: To one who has only one
In that I equate one error to another

Of having many gods is as evil

As having none.

In that case, Thought suggests, they ought to go to Africa. Africa is full of Ishmaelites and Hagarites, descendants of Ishamel and Hagar, and they believe in one God whom they call Allah, quien es Dios grande, who is a great God.

Calderón de la Barca

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