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TSE  April 2003

TSE April 2003

Subject:

Re: Medieval Thinking

From:

Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Sun, 6 Apr 2003 21:14:12 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (133 lines)

From: Carrol Cox [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
 .......... And Eliot was probably most interested in the least
representative aspects of the medieval world.
.........................
>From the Memoirs of Usamah (in the Portable Medieval Reader [Viking],
pp. 447-52)
............................................
In the army of King Fulk, son of Fulk, was a Frankish reverend knight
who had just arrived from their land in order to make the holy
pilgrimage and then return home. He was of my intimate fellowship and
kept such constant company with me that he began to call me "my
brother." Between us were mutual bonds of amity and friendship. When he
resolved to return by sea to his homeland, he said to me:

"My brother, I am leaving for my country and I want thee to send with me
thy son" -- my son, who was then fourteen years old, was at that time
in  my company -- "to our country, where he can see the knights and
learn wisdom and chivalry. When he returns, he will be like a wise man."

Thus there fell upon my ears words hich would never come out of the head
of a sensible man; for even if my son were to be taken captive, his
captivity could not bring worse misfortune than carrying thim into the
lands of the Franks.
...................................................
===============================================================
Peter's reply:
Waste Land, 185-195.

    A rat crept softly through the vegetation
    Dragging its slimy belly on the bank
    While I was fishing in the dull canal
    On a winter evening round behind the gashouse
    Musing upon the king my brother's wreck
    And on the king my father's death before him.
    White bodies naked on the low damp ground
    And bones cast in a little low dry garret,
    Rattled by the rat's foot only, year to year.

Cheers,
Peter.

Dr. Peter C. Montgomery
Dept. of English
Camosun College
3100 Foul Bay Rd.
Victoria, BC CANADA V8P 5J2
[log in to unmask]
www.camosun.bc.ca/~peterm


-----Original Message-----
Sent: Saturday, April 05, 2003 11:39 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Medieval Thinking


Peter Montgomery wrote:
>
> In what aspect of medieval culture wasn't Eliot interested,
> and by which wasn't he influenced?
>

From: Peter Montgomery

> In what aspect of medieval culture wasn't Eliot interested,
 and by which wasn't he influenced?

I would agree with Nancy that medieval civilization can't be reduced to
any easily describable essence. But if I were forced to choose between
the image of that culture as a whole presented by Dante & St. Thomas or
that represented by the following, I would choose Usamah as the more
accurate.

Carrol


THEIR (the Crusaders) LACK OF SENSE

Mysterious are the works of the Creator, the author of all things! When
one comes to recount cases regarding the Franks, he cannot but glorify
Allah (exalted is he!) and sanctify him, for he sees them as animals
possessing the virtues of courage and fighting, but nothing else; just
as animals have only the virtues of strength and carrying loads. I shall
now give some instances of their doings and their curious mentality.

 However, I said to the man:

"By thy life, this has exactly been my idea. But the only thing that
prevented me from carrying it out was the fact that his grandmother, my
mother, is so fond of him and did not this time let him come out with me
until she exacted an oath from me to the effect that I would return him
to her."

Thereupon he asked, "Is thy mother still alive?"

"Yes," I replied.

"Well," said he, "disobey her not."

THEIR CURIOUS MEDICATION

A case illustrating their curious medication is the following:

The lord of al-Munaytirah wrote to my uncle asking him to dispatch a
physician to treat certain sick persons among his people. My uncle sent
him a Christian physiciqn named Thabit. Thabit was absent but ten days
when he returned. So we said to him, "How quickly hast thou healed thy
patients." He said:

"They brought before me a knight in whose leg an abscess had grown; and
a woman afflicted with imbecility. To the knight I applied a small
pultice until the abscess opened and became well; and the woman I put on
a diet and made her humour wet. Then a Frankish physician came to them
and said, "This man knows nothing about treating them." He then said to
the knight, "Which wouldst thou prefer, lving with one leg or dying with
two.?" The latter replied, "Living with one leg." The physicican said,
"Bring me a strong knight and a sharp axe." A knight came with the axe.
And I wa standing by. Then the physician laid the leg of the patient on
a block of wood and bade the knight strike his leg with the axe and chop
it off with one blow. Accordingly he struck it -- while I was looking on
- oen blow, but the leg was not severed. He dealt another blow, upon
which the marrow of the leg flowed out and the patient died on the spot.
He then examined the woman and said, "This is a woman in whose head
there is a devil which has possessed her. Shave off her hair."
Accordingly they shaved it off  and the woman began once more to eat
their ordinary diet - garlic and mustard. Her imbecility took a turn for
the worse. The physician said, "The devil has penetrated through her
head." He therefore took a razor, made a deep cruciform incision onit,
peeled off the skin at the middle of the incision until the bone of the
skull was exposed and rubbed it with salt. The woman also expired
instantly. Thereupon I asked them whether my services were needed any
longer, and when they replied in the negative I returned home, having
learned of their medicine wht I knew not before."

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