Honorary Degree: Harrison Birtwistle

My goodness. Cambridge gave Harrison Birtwistle an honorary degree. Laudatio follows; translation over the fold.

artifex quondam ingenio fabrae artis celeberrimus carcerem inextricabilem aedificauit in quo reginae taurique progenies absconderetur. Daedalus, ut ait poeta,

ponit opus turbatque notas et lumina flexa
ducit in errorem uariarum ambage uiarum
.

nunc adstat Daedalus alter musicus, qui labyrinthum fecit non ut in latebris ageret Minotaurus, sed ut in scaenam produceretur. nunc adstat alter Naso, qui cuiusque aetatis fabellas enarrat: en prodit nunc gibber ille parricida cui nomen non minus quam nasum dedit pullus gallinaceus; iam temporis flumine refluente Orphea miramur iterum iterumque perire; iam cothurnis indutis regem magnum simiarum puellae alterius amore uix feliciore flagrare. operibus ingeniose factis ingeniose nomina imponit; et quis nostrum molis Cretensis non reminiscitur cum ille sua describit, aut cum audimus modos immutatos iterari duplicarique,

haud secus ac plateas necnon fora lata uiator
ambiguis lustrat gradibus repetitque petitque
cursus et cunctam peragrat pedis inscius urbem,
et nunc ad tectum, nunc ad loca uisa reuersus
illa recognoscit quae iam nouisse putabat
.

quod omnibus artificiis utatur quae recentioris aetatis ingenia produxerint, sunt qui uerum artis musicae iudicium sibi solis adrogantibus ea quae facit opera faciem haud minus immanem quam taurum Cnosium praebere iudicent. audire modo uellent! sed nec tamen qui Panos thorubo acclamabant eum exsibilare poterant, neque umquam haec uox singularis scit conticescere: ‘id quod possum facio,’ inquit. ‘nil est ultra.’

dignissime domine, Domine Cancellarie, et tota academia, praesento uobis Equitem Auratum inter Comites Honoratissimos adscriptum, Musices Regiae Academiae Sodalem, Collegi Regalis apud Londinienses in nomine Henrici Purcell Modos Faciendi Professorem Emeritum, HARRISON BIRTWISTLE, ut honoris causa habeat titulum gradus Doctoris in Musica.

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Asterix L annos complevit

Asterix, series pictographica in toto orbe terrarum nota, mense Octobri exeunte quinquaginta annos complevit. Quod iubilaeum in Francogallia variis expositionibus, concentibus aliisque eventibus institutis, quin etiam propria tessera epistulari edita, publice celebrabatur. Ad honorem anniversarii semisaecularis etiam novus libellus pictus et divulgatus est, qui inscribitur: ‘Dies natalis Asterigis et Obeligis – Liber aureus’.

From Nuntii Latini [obviously]

Philip Pullman’s Oxford Honorary Degree Citation

Quas res melius aliis gentibus gesserunt Britanni? Neque in sphaeristica, ut puto, neque in coquina neque in fabulis musicis fingendis omnibus antecellunt. Sed si fabulas ad puerorum delectationem inventas examinaverimus, adfirmare fortasse audebimus nullum esse populum quem ea in arte non superaverimus. Praeterea, magna pars eorum qui libros pueris optime scripserunt Oxoniam nostram habitavit; plerique in hac universitate studuerunt atque docuerunt. Tamesis prope ripam Grahameius ventum inter salices susurrantem audivit; qui etiam hac in urbe est sepultus. Oxoniae Alicia terram mirabilium intravit; Oxoniae gens hobbitorum nata est; Oxoniae porta ad Narniam est aperta. At hic quem nunc produco hunc ipsum locum vel maioribus laudibus ornavit, quippe qui in suis fabulis Oxoniam lepide descripserit et, ut ita dicam, dramatis sui personam fecerit.

Primus Carolus Kingsley, ut videtur, cum de infantibus aquaticis scriberet, id genus fabulae invenit quod puerum vel pueros in alium mundum transfert et aliquando in nostrum rursus reducit. Quem secutus est Ludovicus Carolus, ubi Aliciam ad terram mirabilium et per speculum misit, postea etiam is qui de Petro Pane scripsit, mox Clivus Lewis, denique hic quem hodie videmus. Hoc tamen modo ab aliis differt, quod mundo illo ficto ad naturam animi humani scrutandam usus est. Socrates quidem daemonis se monitu saepe corrigi credidit; hic daemona unumquemque hominem, sive iuvenis sit sive senex, manifeste comitari fingens, arcana indolis et ingenii nostri in apertum protrahit. Itaque cum puerulos delectat innumerabiles, tum lectores adultos alicit atque arrigit. Quare ut Horatius Romanae se lyrae fidicinem vocavit, ita nos Lyrae Oxoniensis cantorem salutemus.

Praesento textorem fabularum sollertissimum, Philippum Nicolaum Outram Pullman, Excellentissimi Ordinis Britannici Commendatorem, Collegii Exoniensis et alumnum et socium honoris causa adscriptum, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Litteris.

[over the fold for the translation]

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Virtual Stoa Agrees With Ratzinger Shock!

Ever since I started reading the Vatican’s excellent website about ten years ago I always thought it odd that you could get it in English, French, Portuguese, and so on, but not in Latin. Now the BBC is reporting today on the launch of the Vatican’s Latin website and suggesting the Pope’s enthusiasm for Latin might be the reason for its belated appearance. I’m quite pleased with this. Not so pleased that I’ll forgive the Church for its appalling record on child abuse or contraception or for closing down Amnesty International groups in its schools in Northern Ireland because Amnesty thinks rape victims should be allowed to have abortions, or anything like that. But, still, I’m quite pleased.

Oh Frabjous Day!

Perhaps they’ve been there for years, but I’ve only just noticed. Anyway, the papers from PECUS: Man and Animal in Antiquity, a conference held at the Istituto Svedese (i.e., Swedish Institute) in Rome in September 2002 are all online over here. I showed up with the rest of the gang from the British School at Rome in order to provide moral support for Michael MacKinnon, who was presenting some of his zooarchaeological work (i.e., ancient animal bones), and it then turned out to be easily the most enjoyable academic conference I’ve ever been to. Though I’m sorry to see the poster presentation (with music!) on bestialities ancient and modern in the rural mezzogiorno didn’t seem to make it through to the publication stage.

Rivers of Blood: Links Round-Up

Oliver Kamm makes the correct point that Paul Foot’s book on The Rise of Enoch Powell is really very good indeed; Mary Beard provides a classicist’s perspective on his notorious speech; and Simon has a very interesting discusison of West Midlands Toryism.

UPDATE [4.45pm]: So, here‘s Hastilow’s article; here‘s the transcript of the “rivers of blood” speech, and there’s some blog-discussion by Tories here, here, here [ConservativeHome] and here [Iain Dale]. Also Michael White and Sunder Katwala on CiF.

Beards and Philosophers

Norm links to the bearded philosophers page at Cambridge and quotes the saying that “A beard does not a philosopher make” (“Barba non facit philosophum”, from over here). It’s a terrific topic. We have a report of this exchange from antiquity, involving the Stoic Epictetus:

“Come now, Epictetus, take off your beard.”
— If I am a philosopher, I answer, I will not take it off.
“Then I will take off your head.”
— If that will do you any good, take it.

And John Sellars tells this story in his book on The Art of Living (2003, p.15):

“In AD 176 the Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius created four chairs of philosophy in Athens, one for each of the major schools. When, a few years later, the holder of the Peripatetic Chair died, two equally well qualified candidates applied for the post. One of the candidates, Diocles, was already very old so it seemed that his rival, Bagoas, would be sure to get the job. However, one of the selection committee objected to Bagoas on the grounds that he did not have [a] beard saying that, above all else, a philosopher should always have a long beard in order to inspire confidence in his students. Bagoas responded by saying that if philosophers are to be judged only by the length of their beards then perhaps the chair of Peripatetic philosophy should be given to a billy-goat. The matter was considered to be of such grave importance that it was referred to the highest authorities in Rome, presumably to the Emperor himself…”

Over the page, Sellars suggests that it was the mission of the three philosophers to Rome in 155 BCE which created the popular link between philosophers and beards. That was the famous occasion (which haunts Grotius scholarship down to the present day) when the Sceptic Carneades made a speech in favour of justice one day, and a speech against it the next, very much annoying Cato the Censor in the process. But these were bearded Greeks in clean-shaven Rome, and the Romans remembered the beards.

ADDED A FEW MINUTES LATER: Sellars also goes on to note (pp.18-9) that there’s evidence from the ancient sources to suggest that the philosophies of the Greek philosophers shaped the ways in which they wore their beards:

“For example, the Cynics, who preached strict indifference to all external goods and social customs, sported the longest and dirtiest beards. The Stoics, who argued that it is acceptable to prefer certain external goods so long as they are never valued above virtue, also sported long beards, but engaged in occasional washing and trimming for purely practical considerations. The Peripatetics, who following Aristotle believed that external goods and social status were necessary for the good life together with virtue, took great care of their beards, carefully trimming them as appropriate for a member of the traditional Greek aristocracy.”

Presumably this is some kind of ancestor of the debate in the Eastern Orthodox Church about whether holiness resides in a beard, but maybe that only ever existed in my imagination.

Final thing, final thing: I think the Stoics were the ones who were most gripped by the idea that philosophers should have beards, and it’s interesting in this regard that when eighteenth-century French writers were compiling their surveys of women philosophers in antiquity (which were sometimes appended to editions of Diogenes Laertius, presumably for consumption within salon culture, but I don’t really know) that they were able to find evidence of women philosophers belonging to all the different sects except the Stoics. (Lots of good women scholars of Stoicism these days, but that might not be quite the same thing.)