Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Isocrates on Using Judgment

The quote below, by Isocrates, appears to claim that each age deserves to be judged by its own opinion (or, at least, the opinion of its intelligent members). Is this an example of the "golden rule"?

"It is reasonable that we judge events in our own time according to our own opinions, but for events that are so ancient, it is fitting that we show ourselves to be like-minded with the intelligent people of that time." from Isocrates's Encomium of Helen in reference to judging the virtue of Theseus as a basis for judging the virtue of Helen, whom he admired and abducted.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

St. Crispin's Day!

"This day is called the feast of Crispian. He that outlives this day and comes safe home with stand a tip-toe when the day is named, and rouse him at the name of Crispian" (King Henry, Shakespeare's Henry V).

October 25th is the anniversary of saints Crispin and Crispian, two brothers who were beheaded under Emperor Diocletian's persecution of Christians in the late 3rd and early 4th century (they were executed on October 25th 285 or 286, according to the Wikipedia article).

The day is also remembered as the anniversary of the English victory over the French in the battle of Agincourt in 1415. Shakespeare memorialized the battle in his play, Henry V, by putting a speech into the mouth of King Henry that roused his outnumbered troops to fight valiantly in the face of the enemy and gain the glory that would assured whether in defeat or victory.

I have for the last three years had my senior rhetoric students memorize and perform the St. Crispin's Day speech and this year it just so happens that Romans Road Media is hosting a contest for anyone who can recite, from memory, the best rendition of St. Crispin's Day speech. Unlike many contests in the classical education sphere, this one is open to adults as well as students!

I will be encouraging my students (current and former) to participate in the contest, as well as some of my colleagues. I'm planning to enter myself, too. I hope the contest gets lots of participants, for several reasons. First, I hope it does well because the speech is magnificent and deserves to be memorized by many. Second, the more folks who hear and gain an interest in Shakespeare, the more folks will come to love his language, which in turn will allow them to love the English language more, too. Finally, I hope it will lead to more recitations of Shakespeare, for the reasons above and because there are so many more beautiful words of the Bard to be committed to memory and performed.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sonnet for Calvin's Institutes 1.1-3

Duplex Cognitio Dei

When I consider all the ways of man,

His blesséd pow'rs, or heaven's sun and show'rs,

Or that ill state of ruin that makes him wan,

And call to God for help in lowly hours;

When eye is cast beyond the earthly haze,

And pierces through the starry heights above,

To rest on beauty, burning blind its gaze,

And falters before glory's weighty oeuvre,

Then shall a man, his God and self behold

Aright in truth: that righteousness, so pure;

That wisdom, keen; that virtue, ever bold,

That light in fullest light, none can endure,

Till he undone shall be by doom and death,

And born anew by Holy Spirit's breath.