Monday, July 22, 2024

A Potato Is a Poem

 And if a man could ask for a potato in the form of a poem, the poem would not be merely a more romantic but a much more realistic rendering of a potato. For a potato is a poem; it is even an ascending scale of poems; beginning at the root, in subterranean grotesques in the Gothic manner, with humps like the deformities of a goblin and eyes like a beast of Revelation, and rising up through the green shades of the earth to a crown that has the shape of stars and the hue of Heaven.

G. K. Chesterton, "The Slavery of Free Verse", Fancies Versus Fads

I'm currently going through a rather brutal period of grading, so things will likely be light here and perhaps also next week.

Saturday, July 20, 2024

The Open Sea-Shore of My Soul

 Song
by Alice Meynell 

As the inhastening tide doth roll,
Dear and desired, along the whole
 Wide shining strand, and floods the caves,
 Your love comes filling with happy waves
The open sea-shore of my soul. 

 But inland from the seaward spaces,
None knows, not even you, the places
 Brimmed, at your coming, out of sight,  --
The little solitudes of delight
This tide constrains in dim embraces. 

 You see the happy shore, wave-rimmed,
But know not of the quiet dimmed
 Rivers your coming floods and fills,
 The little pools ’mid happier hills,
My silent rivulets, over-brimmed. 

 What, I have secrets from you? Yes.
But, visiting Sea, your love doth press
 And reach in further than you know,
 And fills all these; and when you go,
There’s loneliness in loneliness.

Friday, July 19, 2024

Huw Price on Princes

 Huw Price has an interesting, if quixotic, article at "Pearls and Irritations", Conscription and the Monarchy -- the infant in the room. In it he argues that the children of royalty aren't allowed normal choices in life and that they should have the right to them. He has made this argument before, and for some very difficult to discern reason he always seems to take it as an especially clinching argument against the Australian monarchy.

It's very difficult to pin down what exactly the right is that Price thinks princes and princesses are denied. "Normal choices in life" is not something children generally have; at least, the actual choices children have are extremely limited. For instance, Australian children are in some sense denied normal choices in life; if 'normal choices' are just choices that can usually be made, it's a statistical normality, and being born in Australia prevents you from making all sorts of choices that are normal around the world. The population of Australia is dwarfed by populations that have very different customs with regard to children and therefore very different choices. I can hardly imagine that Price thinks we should abolish citizenship as well as principality and republics as well as monarchies.  It's obviously some particular kinds of 'normal choices' that Price has in mind; but he never really tells us what they are, nor why these rather than other kinds of choices are the ones about which we should be concerned. And when he's ever actually pressed on it, what he actually talks about is not the child's choices but the parents' choices, as he does in this very argument when countering the objection that the children of the wealthy are often in analogous situations.

Likewise, he likes to use the word 'conscription', but never does anything to contrast it with other things that have been called the conscription of children, like mandatory schooling, which is almost always justified as making them suited to a what is in fact a public office, even if not always called such because of its fundamental nature, namely, that of citizen. In fact, that's where conscription, at least in modern societies, is found: in countries that have the draft, or like the United States leave open the option of the draft, actual conscription is based on the duties of citizenship. And this is part of the problem; he seems so taken with the argument that he never clarifies what we are to make of the fact that we are all born under duties and obligations that are taken to override our choices.

What I really find puzzling, though, is that he never discusses the actual reason for the situation he bemoans, in which princes and princesses have limited options. Why do they have limited options? Because the role of the Royal Family has been sharply curtailed so as to be nothing but a tool of the Crown. Being nothing but instruments of the Crown, princes and princesses are obviously going to be required always to do things in light of the interests of the Crown. There are lots of monarchies in which kingship is just a title with some responsibilities, in the way that being a landed baron is, but the British form of monarchy partly develops as a way to limit both the power of the king and even more sharply the power (and thus choices) of anyone around the king. Both the United Kingdom and Australia are sometimes called 'crowned republics'; this cannot be taken seriously (at all of the United Kingdom, which is not in any way republican at all, and for most things of Australia, which does have republican features but interwoven with clearly non-republican features), but the grain of truth in it is that much of how the monarchy currently works in Commonwealth countries has arisen not from the nature of monarchy itself but from continual attempts to force the monarchy not to act quite like a monarchy but like a state-dignity-machine.

He ends:

Many of us hope that we’ll have another chance to make Australia a republic—within our lifetimes, if we’re lucky. In pressing for that change, let’s remember that it is not just about our right to govern ourselves. It’s also about the rights of a few British children, presently conscripted to do the job.
Australians usually have their referenda on monarchy or republic when the reigning monarch dies, so I almost read this as Price wishing for King Charles to hurry up and die; but then I remembered that the Australians postponed the referendum after the death of Queen Elizabeth, so perhaps that is the one that he means.  Or perhaps he thinks it might happen by some other means. But in any case, what I actually find interesting is the phrase "make Australia a republic", which sums up entirely why republicans in Commonwealth countries are usually loons. You can't just up and make something a republic. That's not how republics work at all; a lot of things have to come together for them. The transition from monarchy to republic is a particularly harsh transition, because the habits of governance and self-governance have to change rather extensively in order to make it; no nation has ever made the transition without several severe stumbles, and remarkably few have even succeeded at all. Most attempts to "make monarchy X a republic" end up actually making a third-world dictatorship in which the tyrant calls himself "President" and the people are less free than they would be under a king. The consistent evidence of history is that monarchies are just easier to build and maintain than republics, so the move from the former to the latter switches a lot of things from 'easy' to 'hard', and every people who have ever made the change have struggled with some of the new hard-mode features. Actually rising to the challenge requires a complete change in politics, because in a republic everything that is a matter of national identity is a matter of politics. People abroad are often astonished at the insanities of American politics, but I tell you, my friends, this is how politics in an actual republic works; the formats and institutions may change, but there is a particular kind of mixture of patriotism and paranoia and chaos that is needed to make a republic work, and by the nature of a republic it infects everything.

Of all the Commonwealth monarchies (and indeed, I would argue all the Commonwealth nations, monarchy or not), Australia is the one best positioned to make the transition to a republic. A major part of that is that its hybridized form of government means that its habits of governance and self-governance are already adapted to at least some republic-like institutions. Since lack of this adaptation is one of the big stumbling-blocks, as far as history seems to tell us, that headstart counts for a lot. But 'republic' is not just a decal you slap on the chassis; it's an entire way of doing things. Even if Australians were to vote to become a republic, and start calling themselves a republic, Australia will not be a republic in our lifetime, but only some weird hybrid thing sliding erratically in a vaguely republican-ish direction. Republicans in Commonwealth countries are usually loons because they have somehow picked up the idea that you can just wave a magic wand of voting and transform, but republics are an immense amount of work.

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Novelist Supreme

 Jane Austen died in Winchester on July 18, 1817; she was 41 years old. From one of the three prayers she wrote for family devotions:

Father of Heaven! whose goodness has brought us in safety to the close of this day, dispose our hearts in fervent prayer. Another day is now gone, and added to those, for which we were before accountable. Teach us almighty father, to consider this solemn truth, as we should do, that we may feel the importance of every day, and every hour as it passes, and earnestly strive to make a better use of what thy goodness may yet bestow on us, than we have done of the time past. 

 Give us grace to endeavour after a truly Christian spirit to seek to attain that temper of forbearance and patience of which our blessed saviour has set us the highest example; and which, while it prepares us for the spiritual happiness of the life to come, will secure to us the best enjoyment of what this world can give. Incline us oh God! to think humbly of ourselves, to be severe only in the examination of our own conduct, to consider our fellow-creatures with kindness, and to judge of all they say and do with that charity which we would desire from them ourselves....



Wednesday, July 17, 2024

The Problem of Arthur's Battles

 It is fairly universal across the legends constituting the Matter of Britain that Arthur, after he became king, fought in a war of consolidation against the northern British kings and then fought a war against the Saxons. The former is fairly well developed, but the latter much less so. The primary text on the Saxon Wars is that of Nennius, in his Historia Brittonum (sect. 50):

Then it was, that the magnanimous Arthur, with all the kings and military force of Britain, fought against the Saxons. And though there were many more noble than himself, yet he was twelve times chosen their commander, and was as often conqueror. The first battle in which he was engaged, was at the mouth of the river Gleni. The second, third, fourth, and fifth, were on another river, by the Britons called Duglas, in the region Linuis. The sixth, on the river Bassas. The seventh in the wood Celidon, which the Britons call Cat Coit Celidon. The eighth was near Gurnion castle, where Arthur bore the image of the Holy Virgin, mother of God, upon his shoulders, and through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the holy Mary, put the Saxons to flight, and pursued them the whole day with great slaughter. The ninth was at the City of Legion, which is called Cair Lion. The tenth was on the banks of the river Trat Treuroit. The eleventh was on the mountain Breguoin, which we call Cat Bregion. The twelfth was a most severe contest, when Arthur penetrated to the hill of Badon. In this engagement, nine hundred and forty fell by his hand alone, no one but the Lord affording him assistance. In all these engagements the Britons were successful. For no strength can avail against the will of the Almighty.

This seems explicit enough, but runs into the problem that we don't actually know where any of these places are, and the only battle that has any date in any sources is Badon (516 in the Welsh Annals, although Gildas seems to suggest it was before 500). It's also worth noting that (1) Nennius doesn't actually say that these were all in a single campaign, and (2) it's not entirely clear that what the principle of his ordering is. Nonetheless, it's common to assume that this list is at least more-or-less chronological order in a single major campaign. If we do assume that, it's still unclear whether the campaign would have been in the north (Scottish border), or the center (the area around York and Lincoln) or the south (around Caerleon).

Suggestions are plagued by loose fantasies with names, so that pretty much every river in Britain with a name like Glein, Gleni, or Glen, gets to claim the first battle, and so on with the rest. Since many of the names are not distinctive -- Glen would just mean 'pure' and Douglas would just mean 'black water' --this doesn't help much. But on the other hand, it's true that we have very little more than names and basic descriptions. We have a fairly good mix of geographical identifiers, and he order of the battles in terms of geography is: river, river, river, river, river, river, wood, castle, city, river, mountain/hill, mountain/hill. But these are all so generic that they don't provide much guidance. The name that seems most promising is Caerleon (City of Legions); Caerleon in these contexts usually means Caerleon-on-Usk, in the south of Wales, which seems to suggest a southern campaign, and this is a common proposal. On the other hand, "the wood Celidon" seems to some to suggest the Caledonian Forest, which would put it in the north. The primary virtues of a more central campaign are the importance of York (Eboracum) and the ability of the central campaign to allow some northern or southern action if you like.

I suspect the southern campaign option is the most popular one today; one reason for that is historical -- it just does not seem historically likely that there were enough Saxons in the north to be that much of a threat. Nonetheless, the legendarium seems clearly to envisage a northern campaign. In the Vulgate Cycle, the main Old French sequence of stories, the northern kings fail to defeat Arthur in part because their war with him is interrupted by a Saxon invasion of their countries, thus giving them a more immediate problem; Arthur's wars with the Saxons grow causally out of this, so it seems he has to be fighting in the north. Wace seems to envisage a war spanning an impossibly large portion of the island: major waypoints are 'beyond York', York, Lincoln, Bath, and Totnes, but strikingly the whole thing ends at Loch Lomond, with Arthur having invaded Scotland to terrorize the Scots for supposedly having aided the Saxons.

If I want to fill out some of the framework here, I need to make some choice about where the battles would have taken place. The legends seem to push me to a northern campaign. My current tentative idea is something like this:

(1) The river Gleni: Sometimes 'Glein'. The mouth of the River Glen, overlooked by Yeavering Bell (Ad Gefrin, where there is an Iron Age hillfort)

(2), (3), (4), (5) The river Duglas in the region Linuis: Various locations around Douglas Water in Lanarkshire

(6) The river Bassas: This is generally recognized as the most elusive site, regardless of the assumptions one makes, and it's one on which I waver. I'm inclined to make it a minor tributary of the Clyde somewhere in the very broad vicinity of Fallburn Hill Fort or Crawford Castle. A suggestion that is sometimes made is that it is Cambuslang, up near Glasgow, which has some Arthurian associations (although perhaps not close enough to make it stand out) and a nearby Iron Age hill fort. It's also not a stretch for it to be a battle after some battles along the River Douglas. Thus it has some attractions; but then 'the river Bassas' would just be the river Clyde, and I am not sure why it wouldn't just have been called that, since it's one of the rivers with the most durable names.

(7) The wood Celidon: The Great Wood of Caledonia, perhaps near Drumelzier.

(8) Near Gurnion Castle: Near a Roman fort somewhere around Stow of Wedale.

(9) The City of Legion, which is called Cair Lion: I am strongly inclined to go well out on a limb with Carlisle, previously Luguvalium, in Cumbria. It would have been Caer Luel, not Caer Leon. But if Nennius saw anything described as 'the City of Legion', he may have just assumed that it was Caerleon, because this is what 'Caerleon' was taken to mean. York (Eboracum) would probably be safer -- it may have occasionally been called City of Legions, and comes into the campaign anyway, and the legendarium has the Saxons besieging York in the time of Uther. But there was a Roman legion stationed at Luguvalium, and a Roman fort (where Carlisle Castle is currently found); and Carlisle would have been in Rheged, one of the northern kingdoms that the legends suggest were invaded by the Saxons. Some people suggest the Roman hillfort of Trimontium, and it would have been a thriving place, although as far as I know, no one ever calls it 'City of Legion'.

(10) The banks of the river Trat Treuroit: Sometimes 'Tribuit' or 'Trevoit'. Hexham/Warden, where the North Tyne and the South Tyne join to become the Tyne. If one were to do Trimontium, the River Teviot would be the obvious choice.

(11) The mountain Breguoin: Sometimes 'Agned'. The Roman fort of Bremenium, near Rochester.

(12) The hill of Badon: Cockleroy Hill, near Linlithgow. Then Arthur and Hoel could march to Loch Lomond, as in Wace.

In Google Maps, the campaign would look something like this. Of course, many of the particular places are only approximate, and armies would not have been following modern roads except perhaps occasionally where the modern roads happen to follow much older Roman roads. Some of these overlap with places suggested by those who posit Arthur as 'really' a Scottish king; this is not consistent with the legends, but many of the places would make some kind of sense of the legendary battles. You might also notice the regular associations with Iron Age and Roman hillforts. (This would make sense of Nennius's list, I think; it might well be a list of hillforts of which he or his source knew, which then were associated with Arthur. And there does seem a sporadic impulse in the legendary traditions to associate Arthur with Roman and Iron Age hillforts, in much the way that Merlin is often associated with Neolithic monuments.)

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Links of Note

 * Rob Alspaugh, Cur Deus Homo II.10-15, and Cur Deus Homo II.16-18a, at "Teaching Boys Badly"

* Constantin Luft, What's in a Name? Legal Fictions and Philosophical Fictionalism (PDF)

* Menashe Chaim Roberts, Development in the Analytic Philosophy of Judaism, at "The APA Blog"

* J. Dmitri Gallow, Surreal Probabilities (PDF)

* Patrick Flynn, The Philosophical Attraction to a Simple God, at "The Journal of Absolute Truth"

* Tai-Dong Nguyen & Manh-Tung Ho, People as the Roots (of the State): Democratic Elements in the Politics of Traditional Vietnamese Confucianism (PDF)

* Shahidha Bari, What do clothes say?, at "Aeon.co"

* Rosanna Picascia, Our epistemic dependence on others: Nyaya and Buddhist accounts of testimony as a source of knowledge (PDF). This is a fascinating paper, well worth the time of anyone interested in the nature of testimonial evidence.

* Timothy B. Jaeger, Phenomenology's First Lady: Hedwig Conrad-Martius and Phenomenological Realism, at "JHI Blog"

* Felipe Nobre Faria & Andre Santos Campos, Social Evolution as Moral Truth Tracking in Natural Law (PDF)

* Darwin, No, It's Not 1933, at "DarwinCatholic"

* Susan B. Levin, Plato on Women's Nature (PDF)

* Carlos Fraenkel, Is a Public Philosophy Still Possible?, at "Liberties"

Monday, July 15, 2024

Seraphic Doctor

 Today is the feast of St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, Doctor of the Church. From the Breviloquium: 

 Not only is Wisdom capable of knowing [all things]: it is the very principle of knowing. Therefore, it is called 'light,' as being the principle of knowing all that is known; 'mirror,' as being the principle of knowing all that is seen and approved; 'exemplar,' as being the principle of knowing all that is foreseen and disposed; 'book of life,' as being the principle of knowing all that is predestined and reprobated. For divine Wisdom is the 'book of life', considering things insofar as they return to God; the 'exemplar,' considering things as they proceed from God'; the 'mirror,' considering things as they follow their course; and the 'light,' from all these perspectives simultaneously. Now under the concept of 'exemplar,' we also use other terms, such as 'idea,' 'word,' 'art,' and 'reason.' 'Idea' refers to the act of foreseeing; 'word,' to the act of proposing; 'art,' to the act of accomplishing; and 'reason,' to the act of perfecting, for it adds the idea of a goal. Since all of these acts are in God, one is often taken for another. 

[Bonaventure, Breviloquium, Monti, ed., The Franciscan Institute (Saint Bonaventure, NY: 2005), p. 50.]

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Her Wine was Dew of the Wild White Rose

 Meg Merrilies
by John Keats 

Old Meg she was a Gipsy,
 And liv'd upon the Moors:
Her bed it was the brown heath turf,
 And her house was out of doors. 

 Her apples were swart blackberries,
 Her currants pods o' broom;
Her wine was dew of the wild white rose,
 Her book a churchyard tomb. 

 Her Brothers were the craggy hills,
 Her Sisters larchen trees --
Alone with her great family
 She liv'd as she did please. 

 No breakfast had she many a morn,
 No dinner many a noon,
And 'stead of supper she would stare
 Full hard against the Moon. 

 But every morn of woodbine fresh
 She made her garlanding,
And every night the dark glen Yew
 She wove, and she would sing. 

 And with her fingers old and brown
 She plaited Mats o' Rushes,
And gave them to the Cottagers
 She met among the Bushes. 

 Old Meg was brave as Margaret Queen
 And tall as Amazon:
An old red blanket cloak she wore;
 A chip hat had she on.
God rest her aged bones somewhere --
She died full long agone!

Saturday, July 13, 2024

The Arian Syllogism

 Francis A. Sullivan, SJ, in his The Christology of Theodore of Mopsuestia, published in 1956, has a nice way of getting a sense of the terrain of a large amount of patristic Christology. A major argument by the Arians against the Nicene position was to challenge the supporters of the latter to explain how the one subject to passion and death could be consubstantial with God, who is impassible. Sullivan puts the core of this challenge into syllogistic form (p. 162):

MAJOR: The Word is the subject even of the human operations and sufferings of Christ.

MINOR: Whatever is predicated of the Word must be predicated of Him according to nature.

CONCLUSION: The nature of the Word is limited and affected by the human operations and sufferings of Christ.

The Arians then took this to indicate that the Word could not be divine, since the divine nature could not be so limited and affected. There were sects, less popular and influential (and in general regarded by all other parties as raving loons) that rejected this additional assumption by claiming that passibility could in fact be attributed to God.

The Nicene position, which accepts that the divine nature is impassible but rejects Arianism, requires rejecting the syllogism. The syllogism, interpreted as pretty much anyone would regard the natural interpretation, is valid. So the Nicene position requires rejecting either the Major or the Minor. This eventually -- not immediately, but eventually -- created a significant rift between, on the one side, Antioch and (a bit later) Constantinople, and, on the other, Rome and Alexandria, all of whom were firm supporters of the Nicene orthodoxy, but who split on the question of why the Arian argument was wrong.

The Antiochenes, beginning apparently with Eustathius of Antioch, rejected the Major, i.e., the claim that the Word is subject even of the human operations and sufferings of Christ. This effectively disposes of the Arian argument. It runs into some initial difficulty in terms of how to interpret certain Scriptural expressions, but the Antiochenes did take the trouble to address the matter, and the whole position finally achieves its strongest defense in the works of Theodore of Mopsuestia -- and it is a fairly strong defense. This is the reason for the peculiarity of Theodore's career -- while not completely avoiding all controversy on the matter, he effectively becomes the major Antiochene theologian, and one of the greatest theologians of the day; he lives a life widely respected and dies in communion with the Church and no aspersion at all on his reputation as orthodox; his writings are later condemned in harsh terms. There is no doubt of Theodore's commitment to Nicene doctrine or his opposition to Arianism, the major heresy of his day; there is no doubt that he put considerable thought both into the rejection of the Major nor -- what is perhaps more important for his generally good reputation at his death -- is there doubt about his sincerity and honesty in trying to take into account the objections people were occasionally already raising against it (to the extent that he sometimes sounds very much like later Alexandrian orthodoxy, although always giving the expressions an Antiochene interpretation). But there becomes no way to defend the Antiochene position against those objections which are worked out with increasing force, without the development of Nestorianism. 

Athanasius, on the other side, clearly addresses the Minor, i.e., the claim that whatever is predicated of the Word must be predicated of Him according to nature, and the Alexandrians preserve this tradition. In particular, he takes the Minor to be equivocating, and distinguishes between what is predicated of the Word according to human nature and what is predicated of Him according to divine nature. This lets Athanasius preserve a robust doctrine of the Incarnation -- the Word actually does become flesh and dwells among us, since Athanasius can keep the Major -- but without muddling together the divine nature and the human nature and making the divine nature passible. It did have some difficulties to work out, such as how we predicate human attributes to the Divine Word, but Athanasius did so at least roughly, and later Alexandrians up to and including Cyril with slowly increasing sophistication.

The opposition between the Antiochenes and the Alexandrians is muddled a bit by the rise of the Apollinarian heresy, which vehemently opposed the disunifying of Christ that they saw in the Antiochene approach, and in fact anticipates some of Athanasius's response to it, but gets sidetracked with the assumption that a human being is a mind or spirit with a human body, and that therefore Jesus is the Divine Word because He is just the Divine Word with a human body. The Antiochenes opposed this for a number of reasons that were entirely right; and therefore it is because of opposition to Apollinarianism, which was on serious examination obviously untenable, that the Antiochene theologians came to be so certain that they were right. Some of Athanasius's most serious difficulties in argument were concerned with overcoming this by-then entrenched certainty that the options were either the Antiochene position or Apollinarianism; he had to argue that one could reject the Minor without being committed to the latter. This was not actually difficult to do in itself, but the assumption became so entrenched so quickly among those who were already inclined to the Antiochene position that making them see the point was often quite difficult.

These are not by any means the only issues or lines of influence, nor even the only important ones -- there are theological reasons why it eventually became so clear that the Alexandrian position had to be the right one that only become apparent when you consider how the two positions interact with other aspects of Christian doctrine or prayer. Famously, the question of Mary as the God-bearer, Theotokos, or Mother of God was the one that eventually did in the Antiochene position, but it was only an especially eminent case. The Antiochene position is very plausible considered only in itself, but it creates a remarkable number of problems when it comes to how it relates to other theological doctrines. Nonetheless, Sullivan's account of the period in terms of responses to the Arian syllogism gives a nice handle on a large portion of the theology of the Church Fathers.

Friday, July 12, 2024

Major Dissimilitudo

 God's being is from eternity and is immutable, for He has no beginning and in Him nothing begins. His whole being is one act; that is, He is eternal actuality and activity. But He is the beginning, the principium [beginning, principle]. From Him whatever has a beginning sets forth. Created things have a beginning and in them something constantly has its beginning, and this is their major dissimilitudo [greater unlikeness] to the divine being.

Edith Stein, Potency and Act, Redmond, tr., Institute of Carmelite Studies (Washington, DC: 2009), p. 128.

Dashed Off XVI

This begins the notebook started in June 2023.

***********

"When Men are scattered into different places, and fixed at a distance from each other, it would be a foolish Labour to gather all the Provision into one Heap, and to distribute it out of the common Mass." Pufendorf 

"Love is to be valued because it enhances all the best pleasures, such as music, and sunrise in mountains, and the sea under full moon. A man who has not enjoyed beautiful things in the company of a woman whom he loved has not experienced to the full the magic power of which such things are capable." Bertrand Russell

The act of imputation always occurs within a general plan or system of actions. Imputability may pre-exist, but actual imputing is ordered to an end.

Bruni's three principles of a republic: libertas, aequalitas, ius.

What is most important in the sacraments is not our receiving but Christ's doing.

seminal causation // objective causation
seminal reasons as 'signs' of possibilities

The heart of Christianity always lies beyond and behind what can directly be experienced. This is the life of faith.

"In vain are we called Christians if we do not imitate Christ." Leo (Sermon 25)

Because they are relatively comprehensive, people often use politics and religion very deliberately to justify doing things they would otherwise regard as unreasonable.

the state as a pen-and-paper 'artificial intelligence'

Implicature cannot be determined prior to determining the illocutionary force.

three elements of conversational implicature
(1) cooperative presumption
(2) determinacy (supposition of belief or something similar)
(3) mutual knowledge (supposition of intention to communicate belief or similar)

Pragmatic meanings cannot be determined without knowing ends of the communicating.

"Our experience, as it comes to us, is a realm of Signs." Royce

idolatry and the cognitive alienation of the image of God into other things

class
(1) object/element/individual
(2) relation of membership
(3) assertion of membership (mapping to truth/falsehood)
(4) principle/norm/standard to which assertion may be compared so as to constituted the unity of the class

Through the Spirit we are made the symbol of Christ.

intrinsic common consent (nature or reason) vs. extrinsic common consent (original experience and tradition or widespread experience)
common consent and the entire human race as a rational inquirer
four forms of common consent: nature, reason, experience, tradition --> each of these gives you certainty within the limits of the source plus confirmation/testing through time and across different situations

Many social entities are specifically designed artifacts that are physically produced; it's just that only considering their physical production gives you an incomplete explanation.

Scientific experimentation takes place within the social world, and scientific experiments are social entities that fill a social role in inquiry.

Doubting itself implies by contrast the idea of omniscience.

theocrasia: the melding of deities

"Man is the being who can say *no*." Scheler

The mind or sense of the Church is a communal participation in divine providence.

"Ecclesia est societas instituta ad conservandam profitendamque omnem veritatem doctrinae Christi pertinentem." Berthier

atheism fantasy in science fiction

the angelic proclamation as an archetype of evangelism (Leo, Sermon 26)

"Peace nurses love, engenders unity, gives repose to the blessed, and provides a home to eternity....Where the truth of peace has been, no virtue can be lacking." Leo (Sermon 26)

possible worlds as perspectives --> intersubjective identity

"In solipsistic experience we do not reach the natural object, 'human being'." Husserl

Human life begins already in the middle of extensive cooperation.

Encounter is necessarily not the most fundamental mode of personal interaction; it is a derivative and highly impoverished one.

We begin as persons to understand the world and we begin to understand the world insofar as it is personal toward us.

Reason comes from what is beyond itself but not different from itself.

love and the blending of personal ambits

Even in sexual love we feel ourselves swept up by something bigger than we are, which we are, being swept up by the species of which we are a part.

Medicine is sanocentric in end but remedial in means.

To recognize moral disagreement requires recognizing there really is disagreement and that it really is moral.

constituation as "a time-indexed, contingent relation of unity between items of different primary kinds" (LR Baker)

Marriage is constituted not merely by the spouses but by a moral framework.

institutionalizing, institutionalized, and noninstitutional conventions

Numerical terms are not univocal, because they vary according to number system.

Affirmation of existence is not denial of the number zero, as one sees when the zero is temperature.

Platonic Myths as attempts to communicate the justice and the like are much 'bigger' than people are assuming.

mathematics as the icon of knowledge

Most observable things are made to be observable.

four different experiences of community: in, with, to, from/for
baptism : in :: confirmation : with :: ordination : to & for

ordinate (prior/posterior) disjunctive transcendentals ; purity (unqualified/qualified) disjunctive transcendentals
--> These are overlapping -- unqualified priors are especially important for metaphysics

Every virtue, intellectual or moral, suggests divinity in some way.

"a spiritual creature possesses an intrinsic generation which is the generation of a word by the mind; among all created things, this bears the greatest likeness to eternal generation." Bonaventure
"Generation is the communication or acceptance of being through consubstantiality."
"Both generation and spiration exist in the person of the Father."
"That unity is highest which exists in many but is undivided, and this implies a tirnity. That truth is highest which is infallible and most certain, and this implies necessity. That goodness is highest which is both lovable and loving, and this implies will."

novelty as a kind of measurable posteriority

society as constituted by fellowship and headship

The divine processions are immutable and consensual.

All good is self-diffusive in a manner appropriate to itself, but that good is most self-diffusive that loves.

transcendental unity --> continuous union --> discrete unit

Lukasiewicz's axioms for the 24 valid moods of syllogism
(1) Aaa
(2) Iaa
(3) CK Abc Aab Aac (Barbara)
(4) CK Abc Iba Iac (Datisis)

Modalizing predication is not the same as modalizing a predicate term that is then predicated.

"God gave language, when it was first instituted, a double purpose, and established it as a kind of mediation between the two great orders of visible and invisible things. Its first purpose was to make the sensible universe fully intelligible; the second, to make it a means by which we might pass beyond the confines of the sensible universe and rise to the knowledge of greater things." Rosmini
"Nothing is more absurd than to consider as contrary to reason the means that help, perfect, and instruct it."

People don't learn from 'instructional design'; the latter removes barriers and interfering complexities, and does not bear the essential elements of teaching and learning. Effective learning cannot be engineered, only aided.

Freedom always presupposes a kind of grace.

"A 'fall' takes place when an agent enters a region of the life-tree to which there is no permitted inlet. A 'predicament' occurs when an agent finds himself in an (acting-, life-) situation from which there is no permitted way out. An agent is in a predicament when his situation is such that, whatever he does, he does something he ought to omit, and whatever he omits, he neglects something he ought to do." von Wright

the Jephthah Theorem -- O(~t/p) -> O~p
"It is only as a consequence of a fall that a man can come to be in a predicament." von Wright

possibility --> ensemble --> probability

Physics is always in a state of inconsistency; it has never not been so.

'ens quoddam diminutum' = not ens realis, but not repugnant to actual being like ens rationis (cf. Punch vs. Mastri on whether this is possible; this dispute arises due to differences in how ens realis is defined)

The possibility of creatures presupposes God as exemplar cause; the possibility of their beginning to exist presupposes God as efficient and final cause.

Love itself does not kneel.

Contracts do not express resolve or resolution.

A contract is a shared artifact.

Statutory law is always a response to the life of a community, which pre-exists it.

authority as self-diffusion of truth

"We humans very easily attribute to ourselves rights we do not have." Rosmini

Good tends to link up with good over time.

"True peace for a Christian means not being separated from the will of God and taking delight only in those things which God loves." Leo (Sermon 29)

The actual language of science is and has always been heavily intensional.

"The cause of evil is a deficient cause, but in God there is no deficiency; his every act is perfect." Rosmini

first cause
(1) as positive (creative) -> being
(2) as negative
-- -- (2a) non-deficient
-- -- -- -- (2a1) permissive -> moral evil
-- -- -- -- (2a2) inactive -> penal evil
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- (2a2a) nongiving (not carrying out an action)
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- (2a2b) ceasing to carry out action
-- -- (2b) deficient (N/A)

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Logres, Book I Notes

 Logres

Book I: The Devil's Son

Chapters 1-6

The Trojan Brutus and, later, the Romans, descendants of the Trojans, come to Britain. Seeing the darkness of the world, the Devil intends to initiate the reign of Antichrist; to this end, the demons begin to harass a family in Armorican Brittany. The oldest daughter, who is raped and becomes pregnant with the Devil's intended Antichrist, receives the help of a hermit, Blaise. The child, named Merlin, is baptized by Blaise, and thus is given a new destiny. Merlin's mother is brought to trial, but is defended by the infant Merlin. Blaise agrees to write the deeds of Merlin in a book. -- Vortigern usurps the place of Constans and brings the Saxons and Jutes to Britain in order to consolidate his position. To protect himself from the Saxons, Vortigern attempts to build a powerful tower, but it keeps falling down. Vortigern, convinced that the death of a boy without a human father will save his tower, begins looking for Merlin, who is seven years old. Ulfius and others discover Merlin. Merlin knows things it seems he could not know, and he gives the true explanation of the mystery of the tower. He prophesies that the sons of Constans are even then on their way to retake their father's kingdom.

Chapters 7-12

Ambrosius and Uther, the sons of Constans, arrive in Logres with their foster brother Ector. Ulfius recommends to them the help of Merlin. Ambrosius and Uther seek for Merlin. Merlin gives them victory by facilitating the arrival of an ally, Urien. A great battle is fought near Sorbiodunum; the brothers are victorious, but only Uther survives. Uther becomes Pendragon. The barons, afraid of Merlin, convince Uther to test him. Uther is anointed King of Logres, and with Merlin's magical help memorializes the Battle of Sorbiodonum and his brother. On Merlin's advice, Uther founds the Round Table, on the model of the tables of Simon the Leper and of Joseph of Arimathea; at the table there is a Perilous Seat.

Chapters 13-18

The barons defy Merlin's instructions about the Perilous Seat, resulting in a death. Discontented groups of Saxons attempt to invade and lay siege to Eboracum. Uther arrives to aid them, but the battle is fierce and nearly disastrous; it is saved by the counsel of Gorlois. A great Christmas feast is held by Uther; Gorlois and his wife, Igraine, arrive, and Uther falls in love with Igraine, attempting to woo her. She refuses him. Gorlois flees with Igraine to Tintagel, without permission. Uther goes to war with Gorlois. Uther and Ulfius enlist Merlin's help; Merlin disguises Uther as Gorlois and smuggles him into Tintagel while Gorlois is away at battle. Uther lies with Igraine, who thinks he is her husband. Gorlois dies in battle and news comes to Tintagel; Uther escapes, his imposture undiscovered. Merlin demands as his price that Uther give Merlin his firstborn son.

Chapters 19-25

With the help of Ulfius, Uther makes peace with the partisans of Igraine. Uther and Igraine marry, forming the order of the Queen's Knights, and the Knights of the Round Table agree to protect and defend any children of either Uther or Igraine. Uther arranges marriages for Igraine's daughters, Morgause, Elaine, and Morgana. Merlin arranges in secret for Ector to raise the coming son of Uther and Igraine. Ector, who does not know the boy's true father, christens him 'Arthur'. A poor, spendthrift former knight of the Round Table, Cleges, discovers his cherry trees yielding excellent fruit in the middle of winter, and, overcoming obstacles, takes them to Uther as a Christmas gift. Uther and Igraine both rejoice, because Merlin has previously indicated to them both that cherries in winter would be a sign of good. Cleges is honored and prospers. As the life of Uther approaches its end, the Danes begin to make trouble again. The ill Uther, at Merlin's advice, prepares himself for death and leads his army against the Danes from a litter. He is victorious, but continues to sicken; Merlin extracts from him a public declaration that his son should succeed him. As no such son is known, the barons fight over the kingship and the land becomes wild. Merlin, learning of his mother's death, flees north and lives as a wild man until Kentigern returns him to his path.

Notes

Of Logres

The Matter of Britain is an immense tradition with many varying branches across many cultures and languages. Our usual acquaintance with it in the English-speaking world comes from Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur, which organizes a more or less coherent history from a variety of French works. But this more or less coherent history leaves out many excellent stories, ranging from local legends to folk tales to highly literary works like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It would be nice to have a work that does better than anything that has been done so far at drawing all of this together in a unified way. We want a unified story, based on the traditions. These traditions, however, differ greatly in tone and detail, because different stories branch off at different stages of the tradition and enter into very different historical mixes. So in unifying, one has to (as Malory to some extent did) pick and choose what goes in, and modify and adapt various stories so that they can weave well with each other. The ideal is a unified text in which (1) a large variety of the different branches are brought together in a way that draws on their various strengths; (2) the selection of different stories and story elements be done on a unified set of principles; and (3) any change to a received story be justifiable either by some other part of the tradition or as useful for making different traditions cohere with each other or as making the story better on its own terms. This, then, is the essential idea of Logres

A look at many of the Arthurian works that have been written in the past few hundred years shows the dominance of three basic impulses: historicizing, celticizing, and secularizing. Retellings historicize when they bend the stories to conform to some reconstructed version of the historical past; they eschew the fantastic in favor of a speculative or scholarly history of Britons and Saxons, turning the tales of the Matter of Britain into historical fiction. Retellings celticize when they rework the tales in order to make them more 'Celtic' according to some constructed version of Celtic culture. Retellings secularize when they sharply reduce the specifically Christian or broadly spiritual elements of the tradition that we have inherited in order to make the tales more generically relatable or more easy to integrate with modern liberal ideas. All of these have their place in the tradition, and have plenty of precedent, as well; they all go back to the beginning. What is often forgotten by those who engage in these activities is that the result is entirely fictional -- the historical reconstructions are entirely fictional, the Celtic Twilight even more thoroughly fictional, and the secularizations posit even more fictions in order to work. None of this, again, is a problem; these are all ways you might adapt the tradition, and they have always been part of the traditions we have inherited. But they also do not sit well with the goal mentioned above, and therefore I have resolutely refused to do any of them: I treat any historical points as just one of the traditions, not superior to any other; any Celticism in the stories is just that which is already in the tradition itself; and I don't try to excise any spiritual or religious elements beyond what is practically required to integrate tales and keep them from getting too unwieldy. Likewise, most Arthurian treatments over the past century and a half have been novelizations. Some of these, like Steinbeck's The Acts of King Arthur, are excellent contributions to the tradition. But I have deliberately avoided any attempt to make the overall story more novel-like; although the influence of the novel probably does affect some of the ways I organize things like dialogue and description, I am not trying to write a novel but a romance, a legendary history. 

There is also a secondary aspect to the book, that is not the primary source of the storytelling decisions, but nonetheless is a hope for the book, and one that I do keep my eye on in terms of how I conceive the overall story. The tradition is immensely broad, but large parts of it are interesting in being specifically focused on the spiritual life of the laity. This thread is found in very diverse parts of the tradition; we find it in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, we find it in Tennyson's Idylls of the King, we find it in various hagiographies with Arthurian elements, and of course we find it to an almost overwhelming degree in most of the versions of the Grail Quest. Even Malory, a prisoner accused of rape who tends in general to be a secularizer, provides an excellent contribution to this aspect of the tradition in his story of Sir Gareth. This is also often an explicit purpose; for instance, in some strands of the tradition, particularly those associated directly or indirectly with the Cistercians, Merlin dictates his book to Blaise specifically so that it may be read for spiritual enlightenment. Again, the primary narrative decisions are not driven by this; but I think it is important that the overall story be able to fulfill this function that was so important to so many contributors, and to so many very different contributors, to the tradition.

Of Book I in General

Following the bulk of the tradition, there are basically three commonly chosen places where one can start the story: Joseph of Arimathea, Merlin, or Young Arthur. I have followed Malory in picking the second, drawing the first into the mix only to the extent that it is relevant backstory for the Round Table and the Grail. Starting with Arthur and the Sword in the Stone causes problems with trying to give a text with any kind of unity; Malory, I think, was exactly right that it is Merlin who makes it possible to bring the essential elements -- Arthur, Round Table, Grail -- together in a coherent way.

The story of Merlin is in many ways one of my favorite parts of the entire Matter of Britain. Malory's version is excellent; in many ways the version in what is called the Prose Merlin is even better. Most of the tradition is very clear that he is the son of a demon, either a fallen angel or a 'demon of the air', i.e., a not-quite-savory spirit, and that his birth was intended by the Devil to be the birth of the Antichrist. He was, however, baptized by Blaise, thus ruining the Devil's plan. However, as a half-demon almost-Antichrist, Merlin is a very powerful figure. In fact, one of the fascinating things about him is that, despite being a generally (if sometimes ambiguously) good character, all of his powers are powers that are usually associated with demons. (The one exception is genuine prophecy of the future. It is a common theological view that only God really knows the future; demons are better at extrapolating and guessing than we are, but only God can provide genuine prophecy. So some strands of the tradition make very explicit that Merlin's genuine prophecies, as opposed to just his shrewd predictions, are gifts of divine grace rather than part of his panoply of inherited Antichrist-powers.) This is also true of some of his behavior, which includes tricking people by deceptive appearances and demanding a firstborn son as payment. I like how in many of the versions of the story we start out in what is easily identified as a horror story -- and it is quite as horrific as a story involving demons could be expected to be! But Blaise by disrupting the Devil's plans also redirects the story into a different genre.

On Sources of Book I

The Prose Merlin is one of the (many) names for a Middle English translation (from the fourteenth or fifteenth century) of the Merlin-part of the rough collection of Old French Arthurian romances that are collectively known either as the Vulgate Cycle or the Lancelot-Grail. Since the Middle English translation is an unusually good one, 'Prose Merlin' is often also used as the name for the Old French text that it translates. A reworking of a now-lost version by Robert de Boron, the Old French Prose Merlin is the central version of the Merlin story, being far and away the most influential version, including on Malory, and rivaled in quality, I think, only by Malory's very reworked and abridged retelling of it. In Book I, I have followed the Middle English Prose Merlin in almost all major elements of the story. The primary version I have used is:

Henry B. Wheatley, ed., Merlin, or the Early History of Arthur: A Prose Romance, EETS, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, and Co. (London: 1894).

I have also used:

John Conlee, ed., Prose Merlin, TEAMS, Medieval Institute Publications (Kalamazoo, MI: 1998).

And I have occasionally consulted the following translation of the Old French version:

Norris J. Lacy, ed., Lancelot-Grail: The Old French Arthurian Vulgate and Post-Vulgate in Translation, Volume I, Routledge (New York: 2010).

However, I have used several other sources to supplement and 'correct' the Prose Merlin. Chapters 1, 14, 22, 23, and 25 are based on completely different sources.

Chapter 1 is based primarily on Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, which is the usual name given for a twelfth century legendary history of Britain sometimes also called De gestis Britonum. It is both a major treasury of British legends (like King Lear and King Coel) and one of the major early contributors to the Arthurian mythos. A major concern of the early part of the work is to connect various British legends with the larger legendarium of Europe; as with many other such attempts, it does so by going back to the Trojan War, which provided a convenient way to connect various nations to major Greco-Roman legends. The version I have used is:

J. A. Giles, ed., Six Old English Chronicles, Henry G. Bohn (London: 1848).

The Historia was the foundation for Wace's Roman de Brut, which translates and reworks it; although it was not the primary source, I did consult it for Chapter 1. It was, however, the primary source for Chapter 14. The Roman de Brut was originally called the Geste des Bretons and has also been called Brut d'Engleterre. In some ways it is even more important for the Arthurian mythos than the work on which it was based, since it incorporates even more Arthurian material. I consulted

Wace & Layamon, Arthurian Chronicles, Represented by Wace and Layamon, E. P. Dutton & Co (New York: 1921).

Chapters 22 and 23 are based on the Middle English lay, "Sir Cleges"; the earliest manuscripts of this tale date to the fifteenth century, although it likely records an earlier oral tradition. I have consulted:

Anne Laskaya & Eve Salisbury, eds., The Middle English Breton Lays, TEAMS, Medieval Institute Publications (Kalamazoo, MI: 1995).

Chapter 25 is a somewhat more complex matter. One major source is Geoffrey of Monmouth's Vita Merlini, a very early contributor to the tradition about a prophet named Merlin who lives as a wild man (Myrddin Wylt) after a terrible battle. A further source is Jocelyn of Furness's Vita Kentigerni. These two are combined with various legends of the wild man Lailoken, whom Kentigern is said to have met and who is sometimes identified with Merlin; I did not consult a specific source for the Lailoken aspect, but merely used my own knowledge of bits and pieces of the legend. There are several interesting hagiographies with Arthurian stories, but, with a few exceptions, they are on the margins of the tradition, branching off early and never receiving development, so that they have to be reworked rather heavily in order to integrate them with other traditions. For the Vita Merlini I consulted:

Geoffrey of Monmouth, The Vita Merlini, John Jay Perry, tr., University of Illinois Studies in Language and Literature (Urbana, IL: 1925).

For the Vita Kentigerni I consulted

Jocelyn, a Monk of Furness: The Life of Kentigern (Mungo), Cynthia Whidden Green, tr., Internet Medieval Sourcebook, translation copyright 1998.

In addition to all of the above, there are bits and pieces from other sources. With a few exceptions I have followed the naming conventions of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur, and anticipating the latter's role in upcoming parts of the book, it has influenced some of what I have selected from the Prose Merlin. I have also incorporated a few local legends. There was no need to do much to incorporate the connection between Merlin and Stonehenge (near Salisbury, i.e., Sorbiodunum), since this is in the Prose Merlin and is a very prominent part of the tradition. However, there is also a tradition in Malborough, north of Salisbury, that connects Marlborough Mound to Merlin and the name of the town to "Merlin's Barrow"; the town motto is ubi nunc sapientis ossa Merlini, 'where the bones of wise Merlin are now'. As one might surmise from these, the local legend takes Marlborough Mound to be the grave of Merlin; this is untenable in the larger story, but, feeling that Salisbury should not get all the glory when Marlborough has so many Merlinic associations, I have incorporated it and given an explanation of those associations that I hope fit it more easily into the rest of the legend. It perhaps requires taking the geography a bit loosely, but this is in fact common in Arthurian tales. Likewise, there is near Trevena (i.e., Tintagel) a sea case known as "Merlin's Sea Cave"; the particular legend associated with it I do not anticipate being able to use, but I have briefly given it an association with Merlin nonetheless. In general, with local legends (like Drumelzier, associated with Myrddin Wylt) I am happy to reweave them into the larger whole, but I take them as looser than those with strong textual authorities.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Two Poem Re-Drafts

 The Tree of Knowing Good and Evil 

 Ages rise in splendor, born with tumult to be free,
Given good and evil by the serpent on the tree: 

Apple for your tasting, dear, a wisdom God may fear,
Taste the peach of higher sight that makes the cosmos clear.
Swiftly all the schoolmen are a jape one might despise,
Mocked by haunted engines that are daring to be wise. 

 Peasants, unenlightened, are made to serve the rod,
Money for their chaining seized from altars raised to God.
None can for them speak because the king has lost his head,
priests are turned to bureaucrats, and saints are lying dead. 

 Homebound wars of faith must all the peaceful nations flee!
Fight instead for cotton and for gold across the sea,
Fight instead for oil, by which wondrous highways rise;
Call it 'cost of freedom' when some loyal soldier dies. 

 Freedom shall be given; and no longer under heel,
All may follow reason, or be slaves to what they feel;
Freedom to be counted, and to rise to speak your say:
Be as free as e'er you please -- as long as you obey. 

 Babel rose in glory as the railroads ran on steam,
Bearing stones of science quarried from the land of dream,
Bearing hopes and horrors such as gods alone can make,
Weapons for the grasping hands that from the rajahs take. 

 Close the plains and commons; there's a profit there to find;
Push the peasants off the land lest any speak their mind;
Bring them, though they kick, into the progress of the age,
Teaching all that liberty is working for a wage. 

 'Prince of powers of the air' you thought was but a name;
Rumor broadcast on the air is power just the same:
Do your part and buy with thanks the fruits we advertise:
Factories, plastic, cars, and silver planes to fill the skies. 

 Life is like tradition; it is something handed down,
Being as you were before, heritage as crown;
Thirsting to be like the gods, we break the ties of past.
Ages born of breaking, though, unbroken cannot last. 

 Solving every problem will a newer problem form;
Never will the lightning-fire save you from the storm.
Yet you shall be mighty, and as wise as gods on thrones,
Ruling land and sea and air till darkness takes your bones. 

 Greater shall you flourish, day by day, and year by year,
Greater in accomplishment for which you pay so dear;
Greater than the gods of old will ever men arise;
Greater till they are no more and every wonder dies. 

 Might on might will pile, like a tower that you build;
Moving all by reason, lightning's power you will wield;
Up and up to heaven, with your limit only sky,
You yourself betraying you while never knowing why: 

 Every age in splendor has a doom, that it must pass;
Every age of might reveals the serpent in the grass.


Writing Poetry

Poetry:
 I wrote a word.
 The word then grew
 and turned into a forest fair
 that perfume-scented evening air,
 extending, out-lending, itself everywhere,
 ten myriad thousand trees in brightest, brilliant green
 and thick with bowing branches and laughing, leafy stem;
 the trees from dawn to blazing noon to gently falling evendim
would speak new words
to forest beasts and birds
that never human ear had heard.

Logres, Book I (The Devil's Son), Chapters 19-25

Chapters 13-18

 Chapter 19

After some time in thought, King Uther Pendragon called together his barons and advisors, saying, "These things threaten to harm us all in ways that cannot be repaired, and I am very sorry for the death of Gorlois, who was a man admirable in many ways. What can possibly be done to make amends?"

Then Sir Ulfius said in secret to the other barons, "The king is surely right that hostility must be put behind us and that we must do what can be done to restore friendship with the Lady of Trevena and all of the duke's friends. This is my advice, and if there is any who can think of better, let him not be silent. To wait for peace is folly; it must be made. Let a message be sent to all the friends of the duke and his lady, and let the king go himself to Tintagel. Let him proffer peace and great amends for the death of the duke. If they accept it, all is well; if they reject it, it is they and not the king who have rejected it."

Then all were agreed on this course of action, and they came as a group to the king and offered this counsel, which the king accepted. The king therefore sent letters to all of the kith and kin of Gorlois and Igraine who had been involved in the recent war, inviting them with promise of safe passage to Cardoel, so that all faults might be amended and all complaints addressed.

Shortly thereafter Merlin visited the king, and when the king told him of his plans, said to him, "Who has given you this counsel?"

"It comes from all of my barons," said the king.

"It was agreed upon by all of your barons, no doubt," said Merlin, "but it is clearly the advice of Sir Ulfius. He is a knight I have found both wise and true, and this counsel is both wise and true." Then the child spoke for some time alone with Sir Ulfius and returned. "Do not forget your promise to give me your firstborn son," he said to the king. "You will not see me until he is born. Until then be guided by Sir Ulfius, who knows well how to obtain the peace you wish."

Then Merlin took leave of the king and returned to Blaise, telling him all that happened. Blaise wrote it all in his book, but when they came to events at Tintagel, he laid aside his pen for a moment and remonstrated with the child. "How can this be seemly and right?" he said.

"It is a matter of timing," said Merlin. "The years of preparation are few, and therefore it is necessary to take what opportunities may be had for achieving the right end."

"The right end is to do what is right before God," said Blaise. "It is not your task to make the world go right but to do your duty and let God determine all else."

"My duty is to delay the coming of Antichrist," said Merlin.

"Your duty is to be a good man," said Blaise. "Wise you are, but you are a man and not God. It is God who will delay the Antichrist, or not, as divine wisdom sees fit."

"But I am destined to be an instrument by which this is done, and all else must give way to what will prevent the Antichrist from arising in this age."

"Only devils look only to the consequences and not to the deed done," replied Blaise sternly.

The child was silent a long time after this. Then he said, "Write this conversation in the book."


Chapter 20

The king's messengers soon came to Tintagel, where they found the duchess and the friends of the duke and of the duchess, who in turn all took counsel over it. They saw well enough that they could not defend much further against the wrath of the king, but they were wary of the kind of peace that might be offered. So the Duchess Igraine agreed to ask further what might be the terms, and if they were acceptable, to accept them. Agreement was made between the duchess and the messengers that the duchess and her friends would come to Cardoel on the quinzieme, where they would have full right to make such complaint and ask such remedy as they deemed appropriate.

On the quinzieme, all being gathered together at Cardoel, the king asked the duchess, through a messenger, what amends she deemed appropriate to restore friendship. To this, however, Duchess Igraine replied, "I have not come to ask amends but to see what your intention is toward me and those around me."

At this, the king sent Sir Ulfius himself to the duchess and her advisers. Sir Ulfius said to them, "The king wishes to make amends. If you have no specific amends that you wish, will you be willing to abide by the amends that I will choose?"

The duchess and her advisers took counsel. Then Sir Brastias said, "I do not believe that either the king or Sir Ulfius will act with dishonor in this matter," and on his recommendation they agreed to Sir Ulfius's proposal.

To this Sir Ulfius replied, "I will then give you my advice, and if you have nothing wiser to offer, it shall become an agreement between us. You know well that the duke died in battle, although the king did not intend his death, and that the lady, who is one of the best ladies in the world, has young children and is with child, and that her lands are in disarray after the recent battles. It is right, therefore, that the king shall restore the duke's lands to the lady and to his parents. You know as well that the king has no wife. If you will accept my advise, let him marry the lady, extending his protection to her and to her children, and making her true Queen of Logres. Let him find good marriages for her daughters, and let her select such knights as she deems appropriate, whether from the Round Table or otherwise, whether from her friends or the friends of the king, to be Queen's Knights sworn for her protection. And let all the knights of the Round Table swear to protect the children, whether of the queen or of the king, from harm against their enemies."

Then Sir Brastias said, "It seems to me that this is a generous proposal. Peace is necessary, and it would be difficult to find a better path to it."

And Duchess Igraine said, "If the king will really honor this proposal, I will agree to it."

Then a great gathering was held. Sir Ulfius rehearsed the terms of the agreement, and asked of all gathered, "Does this agreement seem fitting to you?" And they all said that it did. Then Sir Ulfius turned to the king and said, "Will you abide by the terms of this agreement as recognized and ordained by these worthy lords?"

The king replied, "If the duchess and her friends are content with it, I shall certainly uphold it."

Then Sir Ulfius turned to the duchess and said, "Will you accept this peace offered by the king?"

And Duchess Igraine said, "As the king is so gracious and true, I will accept it wholly."

Afterward, the king said to Sir Ulfius, "Tell me, was this proposal crafted by Merlin?"

But Sir Ulfius said, "No, my lord. He told me to determine the best proposal I could by my own judgment, and only charged me to two things: that the proposal should be generous to the lady and that care should be taken to provide for and protect all her children."

Then the day was set, and King Uther Pendragon and Duchess Igraine processed to the church door. There on the porch before Bishop Fastidius, Uther gave to Igraine a ring of gold and a shield piled with gold and silver as symbol of her whole dowry, and said to her, "I take you as my wife," while she replied, "I take you as my husband." She was then crowned queen and all there went to Mass. Afterward, Bishop Fastidius gave the new man and wife a blessing before the crowd, and the feast began.

Marriages were arranged for all the daughters of Gorlois and Igraine. The eldest, Morgause, who was already of marriageable age, was married to King Lot of Orkney and Leudonia, also known as Lothian, who had been an ally of the king against the Saxons and of Duke Gorlois against the king, and who was a half-brother on his mother's side of both King Urien of Rheged and a half-brother on his father's side of Saint Teneu. From this marriage came in years to come Sir Gawain, Sir Agravain, Sir Gaheris, and Sir Gareth. She would also bear, out of wedlock, Sir Mordred. 

The second daughter, Elaine, was promised to King Budic or Budicius of Nentres and Garlot in Brittany, who was sometimes known as Emyr Llydaw, or High King of Brittany. He had supported Ambrosius and Uther in their early days. He had previously been wed to Arianrhod, the sister of Saint Teilo, and had had by that previous marriage five children, Saint Ismael of Menevia, Saint Oudoceus, Saint Tyfei, Saint Gwen Teirbron, and Sir Hoel the Great. Saint Gwen Teirbron, that is, the Three-Breasted, would later marry Saint Fragan, the Prince of Dumnonia, and would bear him Saint Wethenoc, Saint Jacut, Saint Winwallus, and Saint Creirvia; afterward she married Sir Aeneas the Breton and would bear him Saint Cadfan. Elaine and Budic would themselves have as children Sir Galeschin and Elaine the Younger. 

The third and youngest daughter of Igraine was named Morgan. She was even when just walking a lively and vivacious child, and was promised to King Urien of Rheged, but spent much of her early youth with Budic and Elaine in Brittany. As she grew to show forth brilliance of mind and mastery of all arts both common and strange, being able to remember perfectly anything she heard even once and to devise schemes beyond the cunning of most men, in later days she became known as Morgan the Fay. Later, after her marriage to Urien, she bore to him Sir Ywain the Tall, the Knight of the Lion.

All of these daughters of Igraine in later days wielded great power, being supported even after Uther's death by the knights of Uther's Round Table; but greatest of them all was Morgan the Fay.


Chapter 21

King Uther Pendragon and Queen Igraine were one night abed, the queen having begun to grow great with child, and the king asked the queen by whom she was pregnant, given the timing, as she had not seen the duke for some time before his death and it seemed too early to have begun after their own wedding. Then the queen began to weep. 

"My lord," she said, "I will not lie to you, but have mercy on me, for even I do not fully know how this has happened. Please do not forsake me over this."

The king replied, "Nothing that you can say would make me leave you."

Then the queen told him that she had lain with a man who seemed in every respect her duke, who had arrived at Tintagel with two men who seemed in every respect like men who were loyal to the duke, but who afterward she knew could not be, for her duke was already dead at the time.

Hearing this, the king said, "You are my wife and we are one by that bond; but we must ask Merlin his counsel as to what to be done with the child."

"My lord," she said, "let it be so."

Some time afterward, Merlin returned from his visit with Blaise, and was informed by the king and Sir Ulfius of all that had happened.

He replied, "Sir Ulfius has made a sort of satisfaction for his sin by making the peace, but I must yet do so."

King Uther Pendragon said, "You are wise enough, I have no doubt you can find a way to do so."

The child replied, "Some satisfactions for sin can only be done with aid; I will need your help."

"Say on," said the king. "I have already agreed that you should have the child; what more do you require?"

"There is in this land a good man who is married and has recently had a male child. Let them both be summoned to swear on the holy book that they shall keep a child who shall be brought to them, and raise that child as if he were their own."

"You have but to say the name and I will find him so that it may be done," said the king.

"That shall not be difficult," replied Merlin, "for you already know him. He is Sir Ector, one of the truest men in all of the realm."

King Uther Pendragon was delighted by this suggestion, and after Merlin had taken his leave to return to Blaise, he summoned Sir Ector, for whom he gave a great feast. Sir Ector was surprised by this and asked the reason for it. To this the king replied, "A great marvel has happened to me, and I must beg aid of you."

To which Sir Ector naturally replied, "Whatever my king and brother requires, I will do."

Then the king said, "I have had a strange and wonderful dream. A man came to me in my sleep saying that you are the worthiest and truest man in my realm."

"That is indeed strange and wonderful," said Sir Ector drily.

"No," said the king, "do you think I do not know my foster brother? That is not strange and wonderful at all. But this is the strange thing. He said that you will receive a male child and must raise him along with your own son as if he were your own."

"Did he say when and where I should receive this child, or where and when he would be born?"

"No," said the king, "but ever since I have had this dream, my heart has been unsettled, for I believe that in some dark way the survival of this kingdom may depend on it."

Sir Ector had his doubts, but he said, "As my king wills, so will I attempt to do, if the occasion arises. I shall let my wife know." Thus he did, and although she too, being of a skeptical disposition, thought it strange and unlikely, she agreed that it would be wise to humor the king.

When the time had almost come for Queen Igraine to give birth, Merlin came again to court and sought out Sir Ulfius in secret.

"Tell the king to go to the queen and tell her that she shall bear her son tomorrow after midnight, that she must give her son over to the first man seen in the hall, and that this must be done all in secret, because there are those who would harm the child if it were known that Uther has an heir."

Sir Ulfius said, with some surprise, "Will you not speak to the king yourself?"

But Merlin said, "No," and would say nothing further. So Sir Ulfius went to the king and told him what Merlin had said, and the king went in turn to the queen and told her, although without telling his source.

"I marvel that you know my condition so well," said the queen to the king, "but I will do as you say, especially if you think that the child may be in danger otherwise.

"My lady," he said, "I know that this is not easy for you, but there are many who would harm the child if they could."

That very day, one of the queen's maids and confidantes was out in the town, giving alms on behalf of the queen, when she was stopped by a beggar, to whom she gave a coin.

"I thank you and your lady," said the beggar, "and in exchange, I will give you this word: May the queen be glad in the birth of her son, for he will do wonderful things of great honor, and may she be comforted as well, for her action shall save the life of the boy, that he may do them. And if she has any doubts later, let her look for the cherries in winter, for by them she shall know that the boy is safe." Then the beggar vanished before her eyes.

Marveling, the maiden returned to the queen and told her what had befallen, so that the queen also marveled.

In the morrow after evensong, the queen went into labor and was delivered of the child shortly after midnight. Then after she had held the boy in her arms for a while, she sent for the maiden who had spoken with the beggar and said, "Take this child and carry it to the hall door, and if you meet a man who asks for it, deliver the child to him, but make note what kind of man he is."

The maid obeyed, and when she reached the hall door, she found there an old and rumpled man.

"Why are you here?" she asked.

"I am here to receive what you bring," he replied.

"What man are you, that I might tell my lady?"

But the rumpled old man said, "That is nothing to you; do as you were commanded and let the queen know that it has been done." So the maid handed over the child, but as soon as she had done so, the man vanished, and she knew not where nor how. She returned to the queen and told her what had happened. And the queen wept.

But in the early morning, as Sir Ector was leaving holy mass, Sir Ector was met by a man so old as to be decrepit, who called to him and asked him to bide a moment. And when Sir Ector had courteously turned aside, the man said, "I have brought you a man-child, and I beg that you baptize him and raise him as if he were your own. If you do so, great good will come to you and your heirs, beyond what you would believe if I were to tell you."

And Sir Ector, astonished, said, "This must be the child which the king told me I was to raise as my own."

"It is the same," said the ancient old man. "And the king and all just men and just women should pray you to do so, as I pray you to do so."

"I will take the child," said Sir Ector.

Then the old man said, "God bless you, Sir Ector! For by this deed you will accomplish more than many generations of knights have ever accomplished." And he handed the child over to Sir Ector and disappeared around a corner, before Sir Ector could ask the question that he had on his mind, which was whether the child was to have a name.

Then Sir Ector looked at the child and saw that he was a strong an handsome infant. He arranged with the priest of the church for the child to be baptized that day. The boy was christened Arthur, for the name sounded like the Breton word for 'bear' and also like the name of the Artorii, a Roman clan from whom Sir Ector was descended through one line. Then he brought the boy home to his wife, and they raised the child as the younger brother of their own son, whose name was Kay.


Chapter 22

There was a knight of the Round Table, named Sir Cleges, valiant and true, who had rendered many services to King Uther, for he was an excellent warrior. He was known for his excellence in battle and his courtesy in all other situations, but he had withdrawn from the deeds of war some time before. In the king's service he had been well rewarded, but he was generous to a fault, giving gold freely to those in need, and holding it beneath his dignity to scramble after coin. He was also generous to his tenants, and gentle with them when they could not pay their debts, never driving them off the land. He loved holding feasts for kith and kin, and if anyone, even a beggar, showed up at the door when he was having such a feast, they would be invited in and feasted as if they themselves were family. At every such feast, he paid minstrels, trumpeters, pipers, and drummers abundantly. His wife, whose name was Claris, was also generous with money, and much devoted to supporting the Church by alms. Inevitably, they were poor.

Each year for Christmas, Sir Cleges and Lady Claris would hold a great feast in honor of Christ's birth, at which they spared no expense. But as their money ran out, and even when their tenants could not pay what was due, they still spent as freely. To make up the difference, Sir Cleges borrowed, putting up his estates as security. Slowly they vanished into the maws of the moneylenders, until he had only one bit of land left, and, as servants vanished when money dried up to pay them, no one lived there in the castle except Sir Cleges, Lady Claris, and their two children.

On the Christmas Eve after Arthur's birth, Sir Cleges was grieved, thinking of the feast that he would in other years have been preparing on this day. He almost thought he could hear the music and laughter, the pipers and harpers and singers, and he began to weep, saying, "Oh Jesus, Heavenly King, who made all things from nothing, how often I have celebrated your day by feeding freeman and bondservant alike, for your sake. But now those days are passed, for I have nothing."

As he said this, however, his lady wife entered the room, and taking him in her arms, she said, "Away with all your sorrow, my dear and faithful husband! By Christ's sake, give thanks to God for what we yet have. Although we have but one simple meal, it is enough to make merry as we can, as is fitting on these holy days during which everyone should be merry and glad."

And this they did, making such cheer as they could over their simple meal, and playing with their children until evensong, after which they went to bed. When the church bells rang in the holy feast of the Nativity, summoning all to church, the knight and his lady and their children went to Mass.

As they returned from Mass, Sir Cleges felt himself in a more grateful mood, and he knelt beside a cherry tree in prayer, thanking God for all those in need he had been able to feed in years past. To rise, he grabbed the great bough above his head to pull himself up, and saw that it had become green with leaves and rich with cherries. He broke part of it off and carried it to his lady, asking her, "What do you think this means? Dear God in Trinity, I have never heard of cherries growing in winter."

They tasted the cherries in curiosity, and found that they were flawless, and , after giving some to their children, Lady Claris said, "This is surely a token of goodness to come. But it would also be surely wrong not to share it. Let us fill a pannier with this fruit, and you will go to the king's court to give it to him as a gift."

Sir Cleges was delighted by this plan, and that very morning, having filled panniers with cherries, Sir Cleges and his oldest son set out walking for King Uther's court, for they had no horses. Sir Cleges had no sword for defense, but only a stout staff. They both were shabbily dressed and bore baskets on their back, so that Sir Cleges looked more like a poor laboring shepherd than like a knight. Thus when they arrived at the gate, the porter looked suspiciously at him.

"You must withdraw from this place and go the place set aside for beggars," said the porter, "or else, by God and the Holy Virgin, I will break your head."

But Sir Cleges said to him, "Good sir, I beg you to let me go in. By Christ who bought me dearly, I sear that I have not come to beg but only to give the king a gift." Then he opened the pannier on his son's back and said, "Look and see for yourself!"

The porter gasped as he beheld the cherries, each one perfect and wholly out of season, and began to consider how such a gift to the king might be rewarded. Then he said, "By God and Saint Mary, you shall not pass this gate unless you promise to give me a third of any gift the king will give you."

Sir Cleges consented to this and therefore he and his son were allowed through the door. Soon he came to a hallway overseen by an usher, who, on seeing such shabby figures said, "Who has let you in here? Get hence or I shall beat you head and foot, and not regret it in the least."

But Sir Cleges replied, "Good sir, by Christ's love, cease your anger, for I have brought a present from the Lord of Heaven who died upon the cross, which I have come to give to the king, your lord and mine." And he lifted the lid of the basket on his son's back, saying, "Look and see for yourself!"

The usher marveled at how beautiful the unexpected cherries were. Then, considering the matter closely, he said, "By sweet Mary, you will not step one foot past the door of this hallway unless you grant me one third of whatever the king may grant you in reward for this gift."

And Sir Cleges consented, seeing no other way to continue, but his face was sober and cheerless in doing so. In the hall beyond the door, he found some wealthy lords, a steward, a deputy serving in the place of Sir Ector, the seneschal, who was away on king's business. All of them were dressed in marvelously fine clothes. Seeing Sir Cleges and his son, the steward boldly went up to them and said, "Churl, who made you such a fool as to come here without being summoned? Withdraw with your shabby clothes at once!"

To which Sir Cleges replied, "Peace, good sir. I have brought a present for my lord the king from the Lord who died upon the cross." And he opened the lid on the basket on his son's back. "Look and see for yourself!"

The steward wondered at the cherries, saying, "I have never in all my life seen such fruit at this time of the year." Then, thinking about the reward such a luxury might command, he said, "You shall come no nearer to the king unless you promise to give me a third part of any gift the king might give you in return for this; promise, or throw yourself out!"

Sir Cleges was silent a long moment, thinking that he would then receive nothing at all for his gift to the king, despite the difficulty of his journey, and that he would perhaps have been better off simply to eat the cherries with his family at home. But, seeing the steward impatient, he finally consented.

Thus finally Sir Cleges received an audience, and he came before King Uther Pendragon and Queen Igraine as they sat upon their thrones. Sir Cleges knelt, offering his present, then, setting the baskets on the ground, he opened them so that all might see the cherries.

The king and the queen both rose at the sight, astonished with delight, and tasted of the cherries; the queen especially held that she had never known cherries so perfect, and her eyes were bright as she said it. She had the cherries served throughout the hall, as the king said, "Make merry, my friends! The one who has brought us this gift will surely be rewarded."


Chapter 23

"I thank you heartily," King Uther Pendragon said to Sir Cleges. "You have made my court joyful and made this day memorable to all. By God's good grace, whatever you wish, I will give, if God does not impede it, whether it be land or anything else your heart desires." And Queen Igraine spoke her approval of this.

Sir Cleges replied, "I thank you, my king, for such a gracious gift, for I am but a poor knight. To give me land, or gold, or silver, is much too much for such as I. Therefore I ask only one thing: to have full permission, as if it were the king himself who did it, to give out twelve stout blows with my staff, safe by king's authority from all penalty or retaliation. By holy charity, this is all I need; grant this to me, so that I may repay what needs repayment."

The king replied, "I repent my grant. By God who made us both, you would do better to take gold as your fee. You seem to need it more."

But Sir Cleges replied that the king had asked and he had given the king his answer, by the guarantee of the king's word. The king was angry and sorely grieved, but he ordered that it be as was agreed. Sir Cleges immediately went through the hall, searching through the great lords, until he found the steward. He struck the steward, who fell down like a stone, and then hit him with the staff three more times.

"Sir, for your courtesy, strike me no more!" cried the steward.

Sir Cleges then went and found the usher, giving him four hard blows over the head, saying, as he did so, "Here is the third of my reward that we both agreed that I should give you!" The usher was given such an ache that he could not fulfill his duties for several days afterward.

Finally Sir Cleges came to the porter, whom he paid with his third so stoutly that the man could neither speak nor fulfill his office for several days, and his shoulder and arm were also broken.

The king meanwhile had withdrawn to a side-parlor to cheer his mood, making mirth and revel with his noblemen and listening to a harpist play. When the harpist had finished, the king said, "Tell me, since you seem to know many people, who was that poor knight who brought the cherries, if you know?"

"That," said the harpist, "was surely Sir Cleges, one of your knights, a man of high stature when his fortune was better."

"That cannot be Sir Cleges!" said the king. "I wish it were, for Sir Cleges did me many a fine service, and I would rather have him than three other knights."

Sir Cleges shortly after returned to the king, having delivered his twelve strokes and, kneeling before the king, thanked him for granting his request. Then the king asked why he had demanded such a strange gift. He replied, "The three men to whom I gave the strokes would not let me enter unless I promised to give them each one third of my reward for the cherries. Since I would then have nothing, I decided to ask for twelve strokes as my reward."

The king and all the barons in the parlor laughed heartily at this. "Whatever the clothes he may be wearing," said some of the barons, "surely this man is of noble kin, because he has a noble wit." And some laughed so hard they fell off their chairs.

The king, however, took a moment's thought and sent for the steward. "I understand you have an agreement with this man; if he has received any further gifts, ask your lawful due."

But the steward said, "I want nothing more to do with this man; I wish I never knew him." And some of the barons began laughing again.

"Tell me your name," the king commanded, turning to Sir Cleges.

Sir Cleges replied, "My lord, men call me Sir Cleges; I was for a while a knight of your Round Table, although age and bodily hardship have taken me away from such a life."

"Are you really that man, so noble and free, so strong and hardy?"

"Yes, my lord," said Sir Cleges, "until God chose to take it away. But I suppose it is the fate of all young men to become old men, and all hale men to become ground down, and as for anything else, I cannot say that I am not myself to blame."

The king then made sure that Sir Cleges was given all that a knight needed, a good horse, a good sword, and good armor, with excellent clothes and a purse of gold and estates around Cardiff. He also made his son a squire as well as lands of his own, and gave them both a finely wrought cup of gold to give to Lady Claris. 

When they returned home, Lady Claris gave thanks to God for having given her both a knight and squire. On Sir Ector's return, after some consultation, the king made Sir Cleges one of the king's stewards, and the knight, always better at caring for another's treasure than his own, no longer lacked for anything. When God sent for him not long afterward, he was respected by all, and Lady Claris followed him not long after that, having given a generous donation to the Church for prayers for their souls. Their oldest son later became a knight of some renown and was known to all as Sir Amadas; their youngest son, Sir Eglamour, traveled abroad and had even more extraordinary adventures. But these are different tales.


Chapter 24

In the last years of King Uther Pendragon, troubles arose on every side, as Saxons and Angles and Jutes, hearing of good land in the British isles, multiplied on every side. The king, too, began to endure ill health, suffering gout in his hands and feet, as well as other illnesses; but the task of a king does not grow less. Seeing that the Danes were committing outrages in every place, he called together his barons, who were eager for vengeance against the interlopers. Therefore, at the king's behest, they gathered together their forces for the fighting of the foe. But the king was unable to lead due to his health, and those who led in his place were not his match, with the result that the host was scattered, with men fleeing on every side.

At this time, Merlin counseled Blaise to leave the lands north of the Humber and take residence for a time near Ineswitrin, or, as the Cambrians call it, Ynys Witrin, the Isle of Glass, for it was at that time better protected from the raids of the Saxons and the Danes. Thence Merlin came to Cardoel at a time when the king was particularly incapacitated from his illness; but the boy met the king with good cheer.

"You are greatly sick," he commented, "and greatly afraid."

"Indeed," said the king, who thought now that Merlin had come that there might at last be comforting news. "You know well that I am beset by foes, and many of my men have been slain by them."

"This is because the arms of your people will avail nothing without a good lord at their head," said Merlin.

"For the love of God, Merlin" said the king, "give me advice as to what should be done."

"My king," said Merlin, "I will tell you, but it is for your secret ears alone. Gather your host again, and when they have answered the summons, cause yourself to be borne out to them in a litter, and prepare yourself to fight your enemies. I tell you truly that you will vanquish them, and by your victory, the whole land will see the value of a king. But when you are done, your time begins to come to an end, as it does for all men. Make a division of your treasure, showing yourself to be even to the end a king who is considerate of his people. Your wealth will do you no further good, but it may do great good to others. Treasures and honors only weigh down the soul, and as your life comes toward its final day, you must show yourself aware of what is beyond the grave, beyond the point at which all earthly joys fall aside, in the life perdurable. God has given you much, and now you must give in return."

"Alas," said the king, "as I look over them, it seems that our years together have been too few."

"Your calling and my calling are very different," said the boy to the king, "but I am glad that they have brought us together on the same road this little way. I have loved you much. But all the good deeds of a life are as nothing compared to a good end. Now we part, for you must do the work of a king. For king you are, Uther Pendragon, and may you never be forgotten for it."

"This I will do in any case," said King Uther Pendragon, "although it seems strange to fight in a litter."

"You have achieved greater things by stranger means, my king," said Merlin. "Or have you forgotten already? But now I must take my leave."

"Before you go," said the king, "tell me how things go with the child."

"Of what is beyond the bounds of our lives, it is pointless to inquire," the boy replied. "But I will let you know that your son is kept well and taught well."

"Will I see you again?" asked the king.

"Once only. But tell Sir Ulfius to pay particular attention to any instructions that I might give." And with that, Merlin left.

The king summoned again his host, and this time he went to battle with them, carried in a litter. The host of Logres clashed with that of the Saxons and the Danes on the field at St. Albans. The Saxons and the Danes were routed in a humiliating defeat, with many slain before the British swords, so that it seemed that they had no more protection than sheep would in the presence of lions. Sir Ulfius and Sir Brastias did great deeds upon the field. Octa surrendered, and all his sons. Thus the land was at peace. Then, reflecting on the advice of Merlin, the king went down to Trinovant, which is also known as Londinium, and there he brought with him his great treasury, giving his goods to good men and women, and to the needy of his realm, and to the doing of fair almsdeeds. What was left he gave to the holy Church. He kept back nothing for himself.

Then he was a long time sick, growing ever more so, and at the end had grown so feeble that he could not speak or move, but only stare at the ceiling. Then Merlin returned and the barons told him that the king was dead.

"The king is not yet dead," said Merlin. 

"He has neither spoken nor moved for three days," replied the barons.

"You shall hear him speak once more," the boy replied. Then Merlin and the barons came to the bedchamber of the king, and opened all the windows; Sir Ulfius and Sir Brastias, as well as Mabon, the king's valet, were there, as well. And Mabon said to the king, 'Lo, Merlin is here."

And at the name, the king turned toward Merlin and recognition flashed in his eyes. Then Merlin said to all who were in attendance, "Still yourselves and hear now the last words of the king."

Merlin bent down and whispered in the king's ear. "You have done well, and have a beautiful end, if your conscience has been cleaned by pardon in the tribunal of mercy. I tell you that your son Arthur will be the next king of your realm after you, and by the grace of Jesus Christ, he shall complete in its full glory the Round Table that you have begun."

Then he said aloud to the king, "My king, do you ordain that your son shall be king after your days of this realm, with all of its appurtenances?"

And King Uther Pendragon spoke in a clear voice, saying, "I give him God's blessing and mine. For the love of God, let him pray for my soul, and if my blessing means anything, let him claim the crown and take the throne righteously and in a worthy manner."

"You have heard the last words of the king," said Merlin to those gathered round. 

Thus passed Sir Uther Pendragon, King of Logres, Duke of Britain. The barons and knights did him great honor and the fairest service that they might, interring him as befit a king. Many mourned him, and not least Queen Igraine, and there was great sorrow.

But the realm grew violent after his death, as baron after baron reached out his hand for the prize of the crown, and the shadows grew with malice throughout the land.


Chapter 25

For some time after the death of King Uther Pendragon, Merlin went from place to place throughout the land, setting in place things whose design he alone knew. But there came a day when Merlin knew by his special sight that his mother had died, and he fled weeping to the north and its forests, and lurked there like a wild thing. He lived and slept in the open air, alone except for a wolf, to whom he gave the name Bleiz, which is a Breton word for 'wolf'. Those who lived in the nearest villages called him Lailoken, and they whispered of strange things happening in the woods wherever he was found.

There was in those days, a saintly man named Kentigern, whose mother was Teneu, the daughter of King Leudonius of Lothian, also known as King Lot, a man of terrible temper. She had had a love affair with a nobleman of Rheged, and they had a child. Furious, the king attempted to throw her, while still pregnant, off a cliff; but, falling into the lake below, she survived, and because of an empty boat nearby she escaped to a place called Cuileann Ros, where she gave birth to Kentigern. The boy she raised with the help of Saint Servanus, also known as Saint Serf, who was ministering to the Picts, who became as his foster-father. Saint Serf called the boy Mungo, which was an expression meaning 'Dear One', and the boy was often called that even in later life. Saint Kentigern, also known as Saint Mungo, began himself to do missionary work in the kingdom of Alt Clut, along the River Clota, near the villages of Cathures and Mellingdenor, founding a church in the latter place. For some years he worked in his mission. However, a king rose up who was wicked in thought and deed, named Morcant Bulc; he would in much later days be the same King Morcant who assassinated the great King Urien of Rheged, thus destroying the power of the old northern kingdoms to resist the Saxons and Angles. In those days, he was still allied to King Urien, but he was suspicious of all missionaries as possible spies, and expelled them from his kingdom.

Thus it was that Saint Kentigern was traveling in the woods where rumor said that Lailoken was to be found, and as he sought water, he came to a spring where Merlin sat, with the wolf Bleiz at his feet, a wild and naked young man with piercing eyes. When Merlin saw him he laughed and said.

"Here is the bird that never flew,
Here is the tree that never grew,
Here is the bell that never rang,
Here is the fish that never swam.
"

And Saint Kentigern, seeing that the young man was dangerous, and not understanding the import of the words, said warily, "Will you let me have a drink of water?"

Merlin said nothing, only looking at him, but Saint Kentigern knelt and drank from the spring. Then Saint Mungo said to the wild young man, "I do not understand the words you said before."

To this Merlin replied, "Because the bird and the tree have passed, but the bell and the fish are yet to come. But from them will rise a great city."

The holy man did not understand this either, but he sat on a stone to rest his feet and looked at the wild man. They were both silent a moment, then Merlin said, "O Ruler of heaven! Why have you not made all seasons the same? The times come, the times go. Though spring provides the leaves and flowers, summer gives the crop and autumn gives the harvest. But for each there is an icy winter, devouring and laying waste to all. After the king comes the Saxons."

Then Saint Kentigern said, "Perhaps some king will rise who will defeat the Saxons once and for all."

But Merlin shook his head. "This is not how it will be."

"There is more to you than meets the eye, I think," the saint said.

"True," replied Merlin, "for although this may be said of anyone, it is especially true of me. I was christened to delay the Antichrist."

"This is a strange place from which to do that," replied Saint Kentigern.

"And how would you know such a thing?" replied Merlin. "But it is true that most of what is to be done is to the south, in Logres."

"Then why are you here in Alba instead?" asked the saint.

But Merlin was silent. Then Saint Kentigern said, "I adjure you, by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and by the holy Virgin and all the saints, tell me who you are. Who are you, and who are your father and your mother?"

Then Merlin said, with a bitter laugh, "My mother was a good woman, whose good name should never be associated with such a man as I. I was conceived in plan by the devil to be the Antichrist, but I was saved from that fate by the piety of my mother and my teacher, who baptized me a Christian and taught me the path of justice; by their prayers the powers with which I was born have been turned to a godly end, to delay the Antichrist's coming, that men may yet have time to repent and that the choirs of the holy Church may be filled as God has planned. My name is Merlin, and I was the prophet who came to Vortigern, and who aided Ambrosius and Uther in their undertakings. I will raise up a great kingdom in preparation for the manifestation of the cup of Christ, and be buried alive by a white serpent in stone, and fulfill my task of delaying the Antichrist alone through the ages until at last I fail, and am killed by the Antichrist three times over."

But Saint Kentigern shook his head. "I know nothing at all of any this, but this I know: Whatever your past, whatever your future, this is not your great task, even if your task involves these things by happenstance. Your task is the task every human soul shares, to practice virtue before God and man in faith and hope and love, with the aid of God's holy grace."

Merlin was silent again. Then Saint Kentigern rose and said. "I have been overly concerned with my own troubles, having been exiled from my home by a wicked king, and should perhaps take my own advice. May I say the holy mass here?"

Then Merlin received the sacrament of confession from Saint Kentigern, and Saint Kentigern said mass and gave his blessing to Merlin. When they were done, Merlin said to Saint Kentigern, "Do not be troubled; I know you intend to go on pilgrimage to Rome. Go thence, and when you return you will find spiritual strength in Cambria, and before the end of your long life you will return home where the holy dove will come to you with consolation."

All of this came true; Saint Mungo went to Rome, then studied with the saints in Saint David's in Cambria, and returned to Alba at the invitation of King Rhydderch Hael, where he had a mission between the braes of Glenapp and the Nith, until he returned again to the villages by the Clota, where he was visited by Saint Columba. And after he died, a very old man in his bath, he was recognized at the altars as a saint because of four miracles, involving a bird, a branch, a bell, and a fish.

As for Merlin, he bade farewell to the wolf Bleiz and took himself south. The villages in the area where he had lived as a wild man remember him to this day, although in later times they mixed up his tale with that of other men. They will point out to you the places where the lunatic Lailoken walked and a mound that they say is Merlin's grave, but this was the grave of a different man with a similar name. In truth, Merlin's fate was otherwise. He went down to Ineswitrin, where he was welcomed with open arms by Blaise, and they stayed together for some time, talking of many things.

After he had refreshed his spirit with Blaise, however, Merlin made his way to Londinium, and there he changed the course of Britain and all the world.

End of Book I, "The Devil's Son".

Book II will be called, "The Swords of Destiny".