Wednesday’s flowers

baby yellow flowers

Boccaccio criticized Petrarch and Dante with Theophrastus

Petrarch teaching Boccaccio

In fourteenth-century Florence, Boccaccio worked in the shadow of his great predecessor Dante.  Boccaccio figured Dante as an excellent father who called Boccaccio “my son.”  Boccaccio also worked amid great regard for the European-wide celebrity Petrarch.  Petrarch, a classical humanist writing Latin poetry, was crowned a new poet laureate of Rome (the first since the fall of the Roman Empire) in a ceremony at the Roman Capitol in 1341.  Boccaccio referred to Petrarch as “my excellent and reverend teacher.”[1]  Despite his high regard for Dante and Petrarch, Boccaccio with subtle irony used Theophrastus’ Golden Book on Marriage to criticize both.

Boccaccio ironically praised Dante for achieving literary greatness despite being married.  As imagined in his Vita Nuova, Dante at age nine fell madly in love with Beatrice.  He may not have seen her again for another nine years.  In any case, Dante’s parents arranged a marriage for him at age twelve to Gemma Donati.  Dante and Gemma had four or five children.  Beatrice died young.  Dante never mentioned his wife Gemma in his writings.  Beatrice, in contrast, was a major presence in Dante’s work, particularly his Commedia.  From a literary perspective, Dante might as well have been unmarried.

Boccaccio deployed Theophraastus’ Golden Book on Marriage in playful appreciation for Dante’s achievement.  Writing in praise of Dante in a literary construction of his life, Boccaccio declared:

Academic endeavors (and especially those of philosophy, to which our Dante, as has been shown, devoted himself), usually require solitude, freedom from anxiety, and tranquility of mind.  Instead of this serene retirement and quiet which Dante almost from the beginning of his life and up to the day of his death searched for, he had to endure an uncontrollable passion of love, a wife, familial and civic responsibilities, exile, and poverty, not to mention other special troubles which naturally arise out of these.  I will explain all of them one by one, so that their burden may become more evident. [2]

In describing the burden of having a wife, Boccaccio lifted text nearly verbatim from Theophrastus’ Golden Book on Marriage.  Amid reciting from that well-known text, Boccaccio expressed concern about giving “too long a sermon.”[3]  Then he wittily expanded upon a point in Theophrastus’ Golden Book:

it is enough to discuss one matter that pertains to almost all women: they believe that doing a good job always keeps the lowliest servant in the household, while doing the opposite leads to dismissal.  As a result, they feel that if they themselves do their work well, they are simple acting like menials; they can remain great ladies only when they do their jobs poorly, but avoid the fate of the dismissed servant.

Boccaccio then winked at the reader:

But why should I want to keep on proving in detail what most of us already know?  I believe it is better to hold my tongue than to offend our lovely ladies by my talk.

Many men are deathly afraid of offending women.  Boccaccio wasn’t.  He went on to cite another point from Theophrastus’ Golden Book.  Boccaccio concluded with a classical invocation of the highest love:

Let no one believe that I am suggesting, from what I have stated, that men should not take wives.  In fact, I recommend this highly, but I must say that it is not for everyone.  Permit philosophers to leave marriage to wealthy fools, to noblemen and peasants, and let them take their delight with Lady Philosophy, who is a far better bride than any other. [4]

The list “wealthy fools, noblemen, and peasants” light-heartedly casts a net over the major classes of medieval society.  Philosophers, in contrast, remain apart from wealth, the world, and flesh-and-blood women.  Boccaccio in the outrageous comic realism of his Corbaccio mocked the courtly love fantasy of Dante’s Vita Nuova.  Boccaccio found inspiration in flesh-and-blood ladies, not the Muses on Mount Parnassus.  Boccaccio admired and valued Dante’s civic engagement.[5]  Boccaccio idealized the solitary, disengaged philosopher only to praise Dante’s achievement in real life.  That real life was not with Beatrice, but with his flesh-and-blood wife Gemma.

In emphasizing the burden of having a wife, Boccaccio elevated Dante relative to Petrarch.  Petrarch did not marry, stood apart from contemporary civic concerns, and took delight in Lady Philosophy and a Laura no more real that Beatrice.  Boccaccio wrote:

What will those say now whose houses are not sufficient for their studies and who thus seek solitude in the forests?  Or, those who have complete repose, and whose ample facilities without any anxiety are supported by every opportunity?  Or those who, free from wife and children, have as much leisure as they desire?  Many of those are such that, if they were not sitting in comfort, or if they were to hear a murmur, they would not be able to read or write, let alone reflect, if their elbows were not at rest. [6]

Scholars have suggested that, “whether deliberate or unintentional,” Boccaccio is describing Petrarch.[7]  Boccaccio was from the merchant class in which persons kept their elbows moving and sharp.  Men from that class also had wives and were aware of women’s guile.  Boccaccio followed Petrarch in recovering classical learning and creating new humanist literature in Latin.  At the same time, Boccaccio was critical of Petrarch’s disengagement from everyday life.

Boccaccio further used Theophrastus’ Golden Book on Marriage to assert his own sense of humanism against Dante’s theological ascent and Petrarch’s classical models.  In Canto XVI of Dante’s Inferno, Jacopo Rusticucci, suffering in Hell, complained, “it is my fierce wife who pains me most of all.”[8]  Boccaccio provided a conventional literal exposition of that line: Rusticucci’s shrewish wife drove him to seek satisfaction in sodomy to his eternal perdition.  Then Boccaccio provided a round-about introduction to Theophrastus’ Golden Book:

St. Jerome writes in one of his books called Against Jovinianus the Heretic that Theophrastus, who was a venerable philosopher and student of Aristotle, composed a book that is called De nuptiis {On marriage}.  In a part of that work, he questions whether a wise man should take a wife. [9]

Boccaccio then copied into his work the text of De nuptiis (Theophrastus’ Golden Book on Marriage), which he silently translated from Latin into Italian.  The only significant change Boccaccio made to De nuptiis was to excise these two outrageous sentences about the wife:

You have to show deference to her nurse and her maid, the servant from her father’s house, and her foster-child, and her handsome attendant and her curly-haired “assistant,” and her eunuch, gelded to prolong her pleasure and to make it safe: behind these titles there is an adulterer hiding.  Upon whomever she sets her heart, they must have her love though they want her not. [10]

Boccaccio wasn’t afraid to write about women’s sexual eagerness and women’s guile.  The problem with the above text for a learned, free-writing person is that eunuchs did not exist in Theophrastus’ Athens.  The eunuch reference signals to the learned that Theophrastus’ De nuptiis is a post hoc literary artifice.[11]  Boccaccio seems to have been in on Jerome’s ruse.  Boccaccio concluded his account of De nuptiis and its relevance to Dante’s account of Jacopo Rusticucci with artful, more general moralizing:

Let those who prepare to take a wife, then, be alert and let them keep an eye on others, for all too rarely does it happen that a man gets a Lucretia, a Penelope, or someone of like ilk.  As I have heard many men say, although they seem like angels in the daylight, they are devils in your bed at night. [12]

A woman who is a “devil in your bed at night” isn’t a conventional figure of a shrewish, domineering, selfish, and unsatisfying wife.  In the Decameron‘s story of Alibech and Rustico, Rustico urged Alibech to “put the Devil back into Hell” as means to have sex with her.  With sound literary insight, the translator of Boccaccio’s text noted that a woman who is a devil in your bed at night “may not seem in modern times to be so bad.”[13]  The classical heroines Lucretia and Penelope don’t represent true, humanistic understanding of men imagining wives.  “Oh, my little devil” is a universal fantasy of real men throughout history.  More in the fullness of the real world than his father Dante, Boccaccio outwitted his teacher Petrarch in humanistic understanding.

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Notes:

[1] Filosa (2014) p. 220, citing Boccaccio’s De casibus virorum illustrium 8.16 and 9.23.7.

[2] Giovanni Boccaccio, Trattatello in laude di Dante (Little Treatise in Praise of Dante, also know as Life of Dante), s. 3, from Italian trans. Bollettino (1990) p. 10, adapted slightly.  The text has survived in three version, which apparently do not differ in this passage.  In a letter on Dante to Boccaccio (Familiares 21.15), Petrarch declared:

my father, compelled by other matters and by concern for his family, resigned himself to exile, while his friend {Dante} resisted and began devoting himself all the more vigorously to his literary pursuits, neglecting all else and desirous only of glory.  In this I can scarcely admire and praise him too highly when nothing — not the injustice suffered at the hands of his fellow citizens, not exile, poverty, or the stings of envy, not his wife’s love or his devotion to his children — diverted him from his course once he had embarked upon it, when many other great talents, being weak of purpose, would be distracted by the least disturbance.

From Latin trans. Bernardo (2005) v. 3, p. 203.  Petrarch seems to have rewritten Boccaccio’s text into a veiled critique of Dante.  Cachey (2009) pp. 25-8.

[3] Expressing concern about prolixity follows Jerome’s rhetorical strategy in Adversus Jovinianum.

[4] Boccaccio, Trattatello in laude di Dante, trans. Bollettino (1990) pp. 16-7 (previous three quotes above).

[5] Houston (2010).

[6] Gloss that Boccaccio added to shortened Chigi version of Trattatello in laude di Dante.  From Italian trans. Filosa (2014) p. 219.

[7] Filosa (2014) pp. 219-20.

[8] Dante, Inferno, XVI.44-5, cited by Boccaccio, from Italian trans. Papio (2009) p. 577.

[9] Boccaccio, Esposizioni sopra la Comedia di Dante, “Canto XVI: Literal Exposition,” s. 28, from Italian trans. Papio (2009) p. 578.

[10] Liber De Nuptiis (Theophrastus’ Golden Book on Marriage), from Latin trans. Hanna & Lawler (1997) p. 152, with amended as described in note [12] here.  Boccaccio replaced those two sentences with relatively bland sentiment:

indeed, more than any other person, he must show that the loves her father — and any other relative or person whom she holds dear.

Boccaccio, Esposizioni sopra la Comedia di Dante, “Canto XVI: Literal Exposition,” s. 34, from Italian trans. Papio (2009) p. 579.

[11] Scholars who have discussed the reference to eunuchs have rationalized it as later interpolation.  The truth seems to be simpler: Jerome brilliantly created Theophrastus’ Golden Book on Marriage.

[12] Boccaccio, Esposizioni sopra la Comedia di Dante, “Canto XVI: Literal Exposition,” s. 46, from Italian trans. Papio (2009) p. 580.

[13] Id., notes, n. 16, p. 707.   That text adds a cautionary reference to Boccaccio’s exposition of Canto XV (15.83).  There Boccaccio refers to the sin:

committed when a man and a woman (even a husband and a wife) come together in a fashion that is less than moral or against the rule of Nature or, indeed, against canon law.

Trans. id. p. 568.  That’s the literal level of understanding “my little devil.”  It’s inner meaning in life can be recognized in the sly gusto of Decameron 9.10 and innuendo Boccaccio made in the conclusion to the Decameron.  See note [4] in post on masculine love.  While devilish behavior has its attractions, medieval men also considered heterosexual intercourse preoccupied with intercourse of non-reproductive type to be oppressive, demoralizing, and wrong.

[image] Petrarch teaching Boccaccio, illumination in Giovanni Boccaccio, De casibus virorum illustrium in French translation (Des cas des ruynes des nobles hommes et femmes), translated by Laurent de Premierfait, France, Central (Paris?), 1st quarter of the 15th century.  British Library, Royal 20 C IV f. 269.

References:

Bernardo, Aldo S., trans. 2005. Francesco Petrarca. Letters on familiar matters = Rerum familiarium libri. New York: Italica Press.

Bollettino, Vincenzo Zin, trans. 1990. Giovanni Boccaccio, the life of Dante (Tratatello in laude di Dante). New York: Garland.

Cachey, Theodore J. “Between Petrarch and Dante: Prolegomenon to a Critical Discourse.” Pp. 3-49 in Zygmunt G. Barański and Theodore J. Cachey. 2009. Petrarch & Dante: anti-Dantism, metaphysics, tradition. Notre Dame, Ind: University of Notre Dame Press.

Filosa, Elsa, 2014.  “To Praise Dante, To Please Petrarch (Trattatello in laude di Dante).” Pp. 213-220 in Victoria Kirkham, Michael Sherberg, and Janet Levarie Smarr, eds. 2014. Boccaccio: a critical guide to the complete works. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Hanna, Ralph and Traugott Lawler, eds. 1997. Jankyn’s book of wikked wyves. Vol. 1: The Primary Texts (with translations). Walter Map’s Dissuasio; Theophrastus’ De Nuptiis; selections from Jerome’s Adversus Jovinianum. University of Georgia Press: Athens.

Houston, Jason M. 2010. Building a monument to Dante: Boccaccio as Dantista. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Papio, Michael, trans. 2009. Boccaccio’s Expositions on Dante’s Comedy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

strong, independent Kenyan rejects Unbound gender bigotry

pith helmet in the style of 2nd French Empire

Like most cutting-edge international development organizations, the sponsorship organization Unbound has been attacking failures in poor communities to conform to world-elite standards of gender equality.  In a recent mailing to  Unbound sponsors, an article entitled online “Bank accounts offer independence and opportunity to families” got an extra super-title and cover billing: “MOTHERS KNOW BEST.”  This article explains:

In countries such as India and Kenya, sponsorship benefits are distributed to families through individual bank accounts.  With the assistance of Unbound staff members, the mothers of sponsored children manage the accounts until the children are of age.  These bank accounts are created to empower mothers to decide how to best use the sponsorship funds for the development of their families. [1]

Notice how “distributed to families” is equated to “distributed to mothers.”  Contrary to gender lies  propagated through leading educational institutions and powerful media, males across all primates commonly have been excluded from equal relationships with their children.  In the U.S., men face huge gender discrimination in decisions about child custody and child support.  Nothing has been done to address that gender inequality.  Unbound and many other international development organizations are perpetuating and worsening gender inequalities against men worldwide.

Unbound’s literature provides a fine case study in the soft power of cultural imperialism in spreading gender bigotry.  A recent edition of an Unbound magazine had 12 pages (about half the total pages in the magazine) devoted to “girls and women.”[2]  That’s a conceptual category largely unknown in relatively high-income, cosmopolitan cities and poor rural villages only a few decades ago.  Are women really more akin to girls than boys are to girls?  If you doubt that conceptual doctrine, then you aren’t fully educated to today’s world-elite standards.

Unbound’s literature aggressively disseminates cultural constructs of gender bigotry.  Here are some more examples:

  • Article titled “GIRL POWER / sponsorship provides opportunities for girls, women.”  The phrase “girl power,” like “girls rule” and “boys are stupid, throw rocks at them,” now appear on girls’ t-shirts in the U.S.  You can count on Unbound to bring these phrases to girls living in material poverty in villages around the world.  After all, persons in high-income countries have an abundance of spiritual poverty.  They can contribute their spiritual poverty to persons living in material poverty.
  • Article titled “Women in India establish identity.”  Western experts in lack of identity ask poor, under-educated others whether they have an identify.  The other responds with a look of complete bewilderment.  The Western expert records that the other does not have an identity.  Western expert then helps the other “establish identity.”
  • Article titled “Giving Girls the Power to Dream.” How can girls dream without the help of highly developed teen-girl magazines (“polish your nails with the color of your dreams!”) and specially designed go-girl video programming (“Glamor and Drama in STEM — the adventures of supergirl hero who works 80 hours a week as a computer programmer at Facebook”)
  • Another article featuring the exemplary indoctrination of Sonia in Guatemala.  The article begins:

    “I have so many dreams!” Sonia said as her mother looked on proudly. “I see myself graduating from the university as a business administrator or an auditor.  I dream of working in a big company and doing important things.”

    Sonia has thus received outstanding preparation for joining the global workforce of corporate drones.  I’m sure when she’s fifty years old, shuffling papers and counting the days until she can retire and spend more time home alone with her cats, she’ll look back fondly on her original and truly inspiring childhood dreams.

  • Article titled “Challenging Traditions.” This article describes how Sophia, a Greek-named woman living in “the traditional Maasai community in southern Kenya,” plans to “continue her education.”  Making clear that Sophia has been well-educated, the article reports:

    “I have learned that girls are equally as important as boys,” Sophia said. “I have been empowered to fight for the rights of the girls who are suffering in my community.”

    How generous, empathetic, and community-spirited!  To better understand how to serve her community, Sophia might examine how her values relate to sexist values in the World Values Survey.

  • Article titled “Staff member sees effects of gender inequality.” Unbound staff member Sara Asmussen answers questions about “gender inequality.”  Here’s a typical question, “How does {Unbound} help to empower women and their families?” Asmussen says nothing about gender inequalities disadvantaging men or disadvantaging boys.  A reasonable inference is that Unbound doesn’t care about inequalities hurting men or hurting boys.
  • Pull quote from Unbound founder Bob Hentzen: “My joy and inspiration is to work with strong, independent women.  They are my heroes and I love them.”  Unbound apparently is rooted in fashionable, old-fashioned, insipid sexism.  Parroting the women-are-wonderful effect is not inspiring. [3]

Culturally dominant persons offering the poor desperately needed material resources and gender bigotry are an enormously powerful force worldwide.  But heroic acts of resistance are possible.  For example, David, a strong, independent Kenyan, stood up to Unbound’s gender-biased programming:

One requirement of {Unbound} sponsorship is the family taking an active part in the program. In some projects this can include being part of a mothers group.  As the name implies, these small groups are typically made up of mothers.  A main goal is to empower members to become economically self-sufficient through microlending.

Because Caroline {David’s wife) spent so much time at the market, she couldn’t attend the group meetings. So David went instead. “I am a member of a support mothers group, although I am a man,” David said. “My group is called Nguono group, and we have 30 members. It is from this group that I was able to grow and come up with the idea of starting my welding workshop.” [4]

Women and men worldwide should look for inspiration to courageous persons like David.  The future of civilized life depends on such action.

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Notes:

[1] From feature article, p. 4, in Unbound’s publication Impact, Spring 2014 issue, cover title: “MOTHERS KNOW BEST / Celebrating mothers around the world.”

[2] Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, renamed CFCA, renamed Unbound, publication sacredground (vol. 32, no. 2, fall/winter 2013), pp. 10-19, 22-23.

[3] All these examples are from sacredground, id.

[4] From feature article, p. 5, in Unbound publication Impact, Summer 2014 issue, cover title: “A FIRE WITHIN / Sponsorship sparks opportunities for fathers full of potential.”  That title is misleading.  One father’s refusal to accept being excluding by gender from Unbound’s programming allowed him to acquire resources to open his own welding shop.  Here’s an online version of the article.

[image] Pith helmet in the Second French Empire style, worn by soldiers in the army of Madagascar Queen Ranavalona III (reigned 1883 – 1897).  Thanks to Rama and Wikipedia.

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virilocality & polygyny in evolution of communicative sex differences

wedding party at wife's family's home: no virilocality

Virilocality and polygyny probably have been common features of human groups across evolutionary time.  Virilocality means heterosexual mates tend to establish a home near the man’s kin.  Uxorilocality is the corresponding term for locating near the woman’s kin.  Polygyny means one man tends to have concurrently either no or multiple heterosexual mates.  Polyandry is the corresponding term for women.  Among about 330 societies that European anthropologists have described at early dates of European contact, 70% were virilocal, 10% bilocal, and 20% uxorilocal.  About 80% practiced polygyny to some extent.[1]  Among societies classified as foragers, residence patterns have been summarized as flexible.[2]  The independence and representativeness, over an evolutionarily relevant time scale, of the data points underlying these statistics are highly problematic.[3] The expansion of agricultural societies has strongly affected the distribution and ecology of hunter-gatherer societies and plausibly their residence arrangements as well.[4] More sophisticated phylogenetic comparative analysis indicates that Proto-Indo-European social organization was virilocal and Proto-Malayo-Polynesian, uxorilocal.  Virilocality appears to be more stable than is uxorilocality.[5]

More interpretive social-geographic analysis associates key developments in human communication with virilocal and polygynous societies.  Research systematically analyzing ethnographic data from around the world for patterns in social structure identified Middle Old World social structure:

The Middle Old World includes North and Northeast Africa, the Middle East, South and Central Asia, most of China, and the Vietnamese. … for most of history the economic center of Eurasia was in this region. … The Middle Old World has a combination of two kinds of constraints – it is constrained both to being unilineal and to being patricentric.

The ecology of the Middle Old World favored competition for assets – domesticated animals, pasture land, and other capital and land associated with capital-intensive agriculture.  Probably driven by the interests of dominant, asset-rich men, social life in the Middle Old World strongly limited men’s and women’s freedom of association and freedom of sexual interaction:

the Middle Old World shows a strong tendency for women to be restricted from public roles, with little political or economic autonomy. Purdah, veiling of women, foot-binding, infibulation, the suttee, and the honor-shame complex, all originated within the Middle Old World.

The Middle Old World also was the locus of significant developments in human communication:

Most of the earliest Eurasian civilizations are in the Middle Old World – Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and China. Most of the important empires of Old World history were in the Middle Old World, and all of the major world religions originated in this region, as did many of the world’s writing systems.[6]

Significant communicative developments thus occurred in social environments favoring virilocality and polygyny.

Virilocality and polygyny bias men’s communication toward kin and women’s communication toward non-kin.  Virilocality implies men’s continuing communication with kin.  Women, in contrast, under viriloclity have to establish intensive communicative relationships with new, non-kin.  Under polygyny, men’s mate-typical communication occurs across multiple mates.  Those mates, living in a common familial space, have more complex communicative relationships among each other.  The human evolutionary history of virilocality and polygyny together suggests that social communication has been more evolutionarily significant for women than for men.

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Notes:

[1] Based on data and coding for Murdock’s Ethnographic Atlas, as reported in Burton et al. (1996), Table 1.  Number of societies: 311 coded for marital residence, 348 coded for mating (marriage) type.  The societies are almost exclusively non-European societies that European-oriented anthropologists described at early dates of European contact.

[2] Alvarez (2004) and Marlowe (2004).

[3] Marlowe (2004) uses the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample (SCCS), which he describes as “186 societies with good ethnographic coverage that have been chosen to create an unbiased sample of the world’s societies with respect to geographic region, language family, and cultural area.”  However, the definition of society is highly problematic and not external to the SCCS.  In addition, geographic region, language family, and cultural area do not together define a consistent, well-defined sampling frame that would make the statistical concept of “unbiased sample” meaningful.  Id. p. 278,  ft. 4, notes:

North America is overrepresented among foragers (83% in the EA {Ethnographic Atlas}, 50% in the SCCS {Standard Cross-Cultural Sample}) because there were many foragers there when ethnographies were first written, while the Circum-Mediterranean region is completely absent because foragers had disappeared there before ethnographies were written.

Even in geographic regions where foraging societies exist, the advance of agricultural societies has strongly affected the distribution of foraging societies.  Alvarez (2004) analyzes fifty hunter-gathering societies selected from the Ethnographic Atlas.  The relevance of this sample to general patterns of human social organization is unclear.

[4] For example, starting from about 4000 years ago, Bantu farmers from southern Cameroon spread across sub-equatorial Africa and displaced foragers living in locations propitious for agriculture.  Wood et al. (2005).  The social organization of ethnographically described hunter-gather societies may not be more evolutionarily relevant than the social organization of non-human great apes, or the social organization of ethnographically described humans in non-hunter-gatherer societies.  Given human-Neandertal interbreeding, dispersed development of agriculture prior to 11,000 years ago, and relatively rapid genetic evolution, significant human evolution may have occurred in social circumstances different from those of current (marginalized) human foraging societies.

[5] Fortunato & Jordan (2010).  Copeland et al. (2011), using much different methods, finds evidence of virilocality in ancient hominin species.

[6] Burton et al. (1996) pp. 100-1 (previous three quotes).

[image] wedding of Miss Watts of Bonmahon, Co. Waterford, Ireland, on 29 Apr. 1907 at Watts family home.  From original glass plate negative. Thanks to National Library of Ireland and flickr Commons.

References:

Alvarez, Helen Perich. 2004. “Residence Groups Among Hunter-Gatherers: A View of the Claims and Evidence for Patrilocal Bands.” Pp. 420-441 in Bernard Chapais and Carol M. Berman, eds. Kinship and behavior in primates. Oxford: Oxford University Press: .

Burton, Michael L., Carmella C. Moore, John W. M. Whiting and A. Kimball Romney. 1996. “Regions Based on Social Structure.” Current Anthropology 37(1): 87-123.

Copeland, Sandi R., Matt Sponheimer, Darryl J. de Ruiter, Julia A. Lee-Thorp, Daryl Codron, Petrus J. le Roux, Vaughan Grimes, and Michael P. Richards. 2011. “Strontium isotope evidence for landscape use by early hominins.” Nature. 475 (7357): 532.

Fortunato Laura, and Fiona Jordan. 2010. “Your place or mine? A phylogenetic comparative analysis of marital residence in Indo-European and Austronesian societies.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences. 365 (1559): 3913-22.

Marlowe, Frank W. 2004. “Marital Residence among Foragers.” Current Anthropology 45(2): 277-284.

Wood, Elizabeth T., Daryn A. Stover, Christopher Ehret, Giovanni Destro-Bisol, Gabriella Spedini, Howard McLeod, Leslie Louie, Mike Bamshed, Beverly I. Strassmann, Himla Soodyall and Michael F. Hammer (2005). “Contrasting patterns of Y chromosome and mtDNA variation in Africa: evidence for sex-biased demograhic processes.” European Journal of Human Genetics 13: 867-876.

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Wednesday’s flowers

tulip landscape

shipwreck beggars: popular pictorial communication in ancient Rome

shipwreck victims

In ancient Rome, shipwreck victims begged for money using pictures.  A Roman satirist who died in the year 62 wrote:

am I going to part with a penny if a shipwreck victim sings a song?  Are you singing with a picture of yourself in a shattered ship on your shoulder?  The person who wants to bend me with his sorry tale will utter a genuine lament, not one concocted overnight.

So break off a portion of your green turf {land in the country} and give it to the penniless man, to stop him wandering around with his picture painted on a sea-blue placard. [1]

Another Roman satirist, who wrote no later than in the second century, described a shipwreck survivor:

satisfied with rags covering his freezing crotch and with scraps of food, while he begs for pennies as a shipwreck survivor and maintains himself by painting a picture of the storm. [2]

These passages attest to the prevalence of pictures in ancient Rome.  A Roman poet who died in 15 BGC complained:

The hand that first painted obscene pictures and set up disgraceful things to view in innocent homes corrupted the unknowing eyes of young girls, and denied them ignorance of sin itself. [3]

Another Roman poet from about the same time pleaded ironically:

Now, goddess, help me now (since the many pictures in your temples witness that you can heal) [4]

Pompeii and Herculaneum, buried in ashes with the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 GC, contained many frescoes, including erotic frescoes.   A tavern in Ostia Antica from about that time include an extensive scheme of low-culture frescoes.  Shipwreck victims begging for money had little money to commission or purchase pictures.  If shipwreck beggars in ancient Rome used pictures, pictures were accessible to everyone.

Shipwreck beggars may have used pictures to overcome language barriers in cosmopolitan Rome.  In addition to Latin and Greek, Rome contained many uneducated persons who probably understood mainly only local, ethnic languages.  One small picture of a shipwreck probably didn’t support pictorial storytelling.  Such a picture might have identified a beggar cross-linguistically as being particularly worthy of sympathy.

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Notes:

[1] Persius, Satires 1.89-90 (picture reference: “cantas, cum fracta te in trabe pictum / ex umero portes?”) and 6.31-3 (picture reference: “ne pictus oberret caerulea in tabula”) from Latin trans. Braund (2004).

[2] Juvenal, Satires, 14.300-2 (picture reference: “mersa rate naufragus assem / dum rogat et picta se tempestate tuetur.”) from Latin trans. id.

[3] Propertius, Bk. II.6, from Latin trans. A.S. Kline.

[4] Tibullus, III. Illness in Phaecia, from Latin trans. A.S. Kline.

[image] La Balsa de la Medusa (The Raft of the Medusa), Théodore Géricault, 1818-19. In the Louvre, Paris.  Thanks to Wikipedia.

Reference:

Braund, Susanna Morton, trans. 2004. Juvenal and Persius. Loeb Classical Library 91. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Saint Jerome’s corpus of letters shows concern for women

Saint Jerome was a leader in orienting his life toward women.  Of Jerome’s 123 surviving letters, 36% are addressed to women.  Jerome in his surviving letters addressed by name 20 different women.  Jerome’s letters to women have less diverse types and are more personal than his letters to men.[1]  In a scholarly letter to the learned woman Principia, Jerome stated that he was censured by many for writing to women and preferring women to men.[2]

Jerome wrote many more letters to women than have survived.   In one of his works, Jerome referred to “volumes of letters which I have written to Paula.”  He also noted, “how many letters I have written to Paula and Eustochium I do not know, for I write daily.”[3]

Jerome closely associated with women.  In Rome, Jerome was frequently surrounded by women. Women and Jerome were comfortable discussing scripture and Christian living with each other.  Jerome observed of his relationship with women:

Study had brought about constant companionship, companionship comfortableness, and comfortableness a sense of mutual trust. [4]

The patrician Roman women Fabiola, Paula, and Eustochium followed Jerome from Rome to Jerusalem.   Jerome toured monasteries in Egypt with Paula in the winter of 386/6.[5]  Both Paula and Eustochium financially supported Jerome and lived next to him in Bethlehem.   Jerome eulogized Lea, Blesilla, Fabiola, Paula, and Marcella after their deaths.[6]  They probably would have done the same for him.

two women, Saint Paula and Saint Eustochium, with Saint Jerome

Because Jerome loved women, he told them what they needed to know, not what men thought women wanted to hear.  Jerome was far from the self-abasing, desperately love-seeking man of Roman love elegy.  Rather than keeping women ignorant, Jerome told women directly what men want.  Men debated among themselves about whether men should marry.  They assumed that women should marry.  Jerome, in contrast, strongly supported women not marrying.  Few men have cared as much for women as Jerome did.  Only persons who don’t understand women and don’t truly love them cannot understand why women loved Jerome.

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Data: Letters of Jerome Dataset (Excel version)

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Notes:

[1] See the summary statistics sheet in the Letters of Jerome Dataset.  Saint Jerome is also known as Jerome of Stridon and as Hieronymus.  His full Latin name is Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus.

[2] Jerome, Letter 65 (to Principia, dated 397), from Latin trans. by Medieval Women’s Latin Letters.  In this letter, Jerome refers to women as the “weaker sex.”   That was a conventional term associated with women’s less powerful physical stature and more powerful communication capabilities.  Jerome uses that conventional term in high rhetoric replete with irony.  A simpler presentation is in Jerome’s Letter 126.  Freemantle (1892), p. 601, describes that letter as addressed to “Marcellinus, a Roman official of high rank, and Anapsychia his wife.”  Jerome addresses the husband of high public rank and his wife equally as students of scripture:

Our reverend brother Oceanus to whom you desire an introduction is a great and good man and so learned in the law of the Lord that no words of mine are needed to make him able and willing to instruct you both and to explain to you in conformity with the rules which govern our common studies, my opinion and his on all questions arising out of the scriptures.  In conclusion, my truly holy lord and lady, may Christ our God by his almighty power have you in his safekeeping and cause you to live long and happily.

Letter 126, s. 3, trans. Freemantle (1892) p. 602.

[3] Jerome, De viris illustribus (On Illustrious Men, dated 393), s. 54, 135.  Cain (2009), p. 220, observes:

Considering Jerome’s otherwise prolific literary output and the size of his social network, his 123 extant letters are bound to represent only the tiniest fraction of all of the letters he wrote during his long career.

[4] Jerome, Letter 45 (to Asella, dated 385) s. 2, from Latin trans. Cain (2009) p. 107.  Freemantle (1892) provides an alternate translation of the full letter.

[5] Cain (2009) p. 155.

[6] Lea (Letter 23), Blesilla (Letter 39), Fabiola (Letter 77), Paula (Letter 108), and Marcella (Letter 127).  Freemantle (1892) has English translations.

[image] Saint Paula and Saint Eustochium with Saint Jerome, Francisco de Zurbarán and Workshop, c. 1640/1650, oil on fabric, Samuel H. Kress Collection, U.S. National Gallery of Art, 1952.5.88, thanks to Wikipedia.

References:

Cain, Andrew. 2009. The Letters of Jerome: Asceticism, Biblical Exegesis, and the Construction of Christian Authority in Late Antiquity. Oxford Early Christian Studies. Oxford University Press.

Freemantle, William Henry, trans. 1892.  The Principal Works of St. Jerome.  Philip Schaff, ed. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd Series, vol. 6. Oxford: Parker.

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men’s position in social communication in human evolution

coal miner

Human societies typically prefer to sacrifice men’s lives relative to women’s lives.  A scholarly analysis explained:

It is morality that enables us to shame our males into putting their lives on the line for the group, while it is innate altruistic propensities that help to motivate those males to suffer and die in the interest of the rest of the group.[1]

Both morality (social values) and innate altruistic propensity of individuals evolve through time with the differential reproductive success of humans and human groups.  The evolved social preference for sacrificing men’s lives is more complex than simply sex differences in parental investment, sex differences in the operational sex ratio, sex differences in potential rates of reproduction, or anisogamy.[2]  Men’s relative disposability developed in human evolution through mutual re-enforcement between social values and sex differences in social communication.

Consider the relationship between parents and their biological children.  Parental support for children depends on the combination of many different factors – biological capabilities (gestation, lactation, etc.), behavioral patterns (feeding, protecting, and teaching young), social resources (availability of social substitutes for parental roles) and other aspects of the environment (such as the prevalence of food and predators, which determine the survival value of different parental activities).  Suppose that all these factors combine to produce an observable effect: if a father dies, his offspring is more likely to survive than if the mother dies.   Such an effect favors social communication valuing fathers as being more disposable than mothers.

Dependence relations are a general feature of social groups.  Men’s and women’s contributions to the average reproductive success of all group members depend on a variety of factors.  A small number of men can provide sperm to a large number of women, and thus, apart from other considerations, additional men are a cost to the average reproductive success of the group.  But many other group effects also are relevant.  For example, in small, technologically primitive human societies, the meat that male hunters secure is typically shared among the whole group.[3]  In such circumstances, the value of men to the group depends on the value of this common food provision.  Similar considerations apply to men’s contribution to territorial defense, defense from predators, and to reproductively harmful within-group behaviors such as intrasexual and intersexual hostility and violence.  Suppose that all these factors combine to produce a commonly recognized effect: the death of a man reduces the expected reproduction of the group by less than does the death of a woman.  Such an effect favors social communication valuing men as more disposable than women.[4]

Socially constructed, sex-biased morality connects social values to individual behavior.  Humans plausibly evolved in circumstances in which, among breeding pairs, fathers have had less reproductive value than mothers, and, within groups, men have had less reproductive value than women.[5]  These social values suggest that, in competition to acquire resources and avoid harm, a woman can more effectively make claims in social communication than a man can.  That makes social communication more valuable to women than to men.[6]  Human evolution has thus favored women’s social communication capabilities over those of men.  That sex difference in turn supports lack of social concern about men’s lives.

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Notes:

[1] Boehm (1999) p. 254.

[2] For an example of simplistic evolutionary-psychological reasoning justifying men’s relatively high death rate from violence, see Daly & Wilson (1988).

[3] E.g. Woodburn (1998) and Hawkes (2001).

[4] See, e.g. Hawkes (2004), pp. 464-5, which emphasizes infanticidal males, the dangers of male mating competition, and the relative unimportance of males’ contributions to group reproductive success.

[5] These social values do not necessarily imply that men maximize their inclusive fitness by being more aggressive, taking more risks, and committing more crimes than women.  Arguments that higher male reproductive variance explains male risk-taking are remarkably ad hoc. See, e.g. Daly & Wilson (1988) Ch. 7.  Social life enables and shapes possibilities for behavioral exchanges.  The price of mates, like the price of food, is part of an aggregate budget constraint.  Suppose prices are measured in energy expenditure.  A fitness-maximizing response to a higher price of mates might be substitution into more food collection and less risk of harm to self.  On biological markets, see Noë (2001).

[6] This is a general implication of cooperative game theory.  In cooperative game theory, payouts are typically directly related to expected marginal contributions averaged across a large number of possible coalitions. Roughgarden et al. (2006) forcefully advocates the importance of such models.  Criticisms of id. have focused on whether Darwin’s theory of sexual selection needs to be replaced.  The argument here is that the cooperative distribution of fitness benefits determines the individual value of communication capabilities.

[image] Harry Fain, coal loader. Inland Steel Company, Wheelwright 1 & 2 Mines, Wheelwright, Floyd County, Kentucky.  Thanks to the National Archives and Wikipedia.

References:

Boehm, Christopher. 1999. Hierarchy in the forest: the evolution of egalitarian behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Daly, Martin and Margo Wilson. 1988. Homicide. New York, A. de Gruyter.

Hawkes, Kristen. 2001. “Is meat the hunter’s property? Ownership and explanations of hunting and sharing.” Pp. 219-236 in C. Stanford and H. Bunn, eds. Meat-Eating and Human Evolution.  Oxford: Oxford University Press: 219-236.

Hawkes, Kristen. 2004. “Mating, Parenting, and the Evolution of Human Pair Bonds.”  Pp. 443-473 in Bernard Chapais and Carol M. Berman, eds. Kinship and behavior in primates.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Noë, Ronald. 2001.  “Biological markets: partner choice as the driving force behind the evolution of mutualisms.” Pp. 93-118 in Ronald Noë, Jan A.R.A.M. von Hooff and Peter Hammerstein, eds. Economics in nature: social dilemmas, mate choice and biological markets. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Roughgarden, Joan, Meeko Oishi and Erol Akçay. 2006. “Reproductive Social Behavior: Cooperative Games to Replace Sexual Selection.” Science 311: 965-969.

Woodburn, James. 1998. “Sharing is not a form of exchange: an analysis of property sharing in immediate return hunter-gatherer societies.” Pp. 48-63 in C.M. Hann, ed. Property Relations: Renewing the Anthropological Tradition.  Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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Wednesday’s flowers

lines in blue and green

beyond Origen: Jerome, spiritual doctor in Galen’s persona

Late in the fourth century, Jerome brought the Greek biblical scholarship of Origen to the Latin-speaking western Roman Empire.  From Jerome’s perspective, Origen’s primary merits were:

  1. Origin was an extremely hard-working scholar.  He produced an enormous body of biblical scholarship.
  2. Origin engaged in thorough textual study.  He knew the original languages of scripture and compared manuscripts and translations.
  3. Origin produced a precious scholarly legacy of enduring value.  His work deserves continued, careful study. [1]

Those merits also characterize well Galen in relation to the Hippocratic corpus.  In his efforts to instruct, in his pugnaciousness, and in his melding of scholarship and practice, Jerome advancing himself among Christian authorities writing in Latin was much like Galen advancing himself among non-Christian authorities writing in Greek.

Jerome in the desert

In a letter written in 384, Jerome claimed to have vowed to forsake worldly books.  Jerome as a young man received a broad education  in non-Christian Greek and Latin works.  He found Cicero and Plautus particularly attractive.  However, one night early in his life he dreamed that he was  caught up in the spirit and dragged to the judgment seat.  Amid dazzling light:

I was asked to state my legal status; I replied that I was a Christian.  But He who presided said: “You lie.  You are a follower of Cicero, not a follower of Christ.  ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’”  Straightway I became dumb, and amid the strokes of the whip — for He had ordered me to be scourged — I was even more bitterly tortured by the fire of conscience [2]

Angelic bystanders gave Jerome an opportunity to repent:

At last the bystanders fell at the knees of Him who presided, and prayed for Him to pardon my youth and give me opportunity to repent of my error on the understanding that the extreme of torture should be inflicted on me if ever I read again the works of Gentile authors.  In the stress of that dread hour I should have been willing to make even larger promises, and making an oath I called upon His name: “O Lord, if ever again I possess worldly books or read them, I have denied you.”

Jerome’s vow, contained within a tissue of allusions to Virgil, is best understood as a literary bow to  Origen.[3]  Origin reportedly gave away his library of ancient Greek literature in turning from a career as a Greek grammarian to a new career of sacred studies.  In his dream, Jerome followed Origen.[4]

Jerome remained engaged with non-Christian literature and rhetoric throughout his life.  Jerome’s writings are filled with references to Horace, Terrence, Virgil, and Cicero.  His library at Bethlehem, where he retreated to live as a Christian scholar-monk, contained a wide range of non-Christian books.[5]  Jerome apparently first read Juvenal between 382 and 385.[6]  Juvenal was an important literary influence in Jerome’s construction of Theophrastus’ Golden Book on Marriage.  In a letter to an orator dated to 397, Jerome discretely observed:

You ask me at the close of your letter why it is that sometimes in my writings I quote examples from secular literature and thus defile the whiteness of the church with the foulness of heathenism. … You must not adopt the mistaken opinion, that while in dealing with the Gentiles one may appeal to their literature in all other discussions one ought to ignore it; for almost all the books of all these writers — except those who like Epicurus are no scholars — are extremely full of erudition and philosophy.  I incline indeed to fancy — the thought comes into my head as I dictate — that you yourself know quite well what has always been the practice of the learned in this matter. [7]

Jerome’s letters are written in highly polished literary Latin.  After he spent about two years in Constantinople from 380, Jerome became a proponent of Greek Christian learning.[8]  He probably also gained greater appreciation for Greek non-Christian literature.

Jerome seems to have first read Galen in or shortly before 393.   Jerome’s Adversus Jovinianum, written in 393, explicitly cited Galen twice.  In the course of making functional-teleological arguments common in Galen, Jerome declared:

Hyena’s gall restores brightness to the eyes, and its dung and that of dogs cures gangrenous wounds. And (it may seem strange to the reader) Galen asserts in his treatise on Simples, that human dung is of service in a multitude of cases. [9]

Galen here appears as an authority capable of carrying a surprising claim.  The reference to the specific Galenic work underscores that Galen’s surprising claim isn’t a commonplace.  Later in Adversus Jovinianum, Jerome explicitly specified Galen’s authority and cited him congenially:

Galen, a very learned man and the commentator on Hippocrates, says in his exhortation to the practice of medicine that athletes whose whole life and art consists in stuffing cannot live long, nor be healthy: and that their souls enveloped with superfluous blood and fat, and as it were covered with mud, have no refined or heavenly thoughts, but are always intent upon gluttonous and voracious feasting. [10]

Both of these citations to Galen are accurate, technical, and specific.  While Jerome had an extraordinarily good memory, he probably didn’t remember these citations from long before.[11]

Galen would have been an attractive figure for Jerome.  Galen studied the Hippocratic corpus with the reverence and textual-philological attention that Jerome brought to the Bible.  Galen emphasized that a good physician must be extremely hard-working.  Galen produced an enormous corpus of scholarly work.  His work presents a persona “combative, opinionated, pedantic, long-winded, even unscrupulous.”[12]  Those adjectives also characterize Jerome’s persona.  Galen harshly attacked the Epicureans.  Galen declared:

{the excellent physician} will, necessarily, not only despise money, but also be extremely hard-working. And one cannot be hard-working if one is continually drinking or eating or indulging in sex: if, to put it briefly, one is a slave to genitals and belly. [13]

In Adversus Jovinianum, Jerome attacked Jovinian as “the Epicurus of Christianity.”  Jerome’s rhetoric, translated from Latin into Greek, would need no other modification to fit within a Galenic work:

I must in conclusion say a few words to our modern Epicurus wantoning in his gardens with his favourites of both sexes.  On your side are the fat and the sleek in their festal attire.  If I may mock like Socrates, add if you please, all swine and dogs, and, since you like flesh so well, vultures too, eagles, hawks, and owls.  We shall never be afraid of the host of Aristippus.  If ever I see a fine fellow, or a man who is no stranger to the curling irons, with his hair nicely done and his cheeks all aglow, he belongs to your herd, or rather grunts in concert with your pigs. [14]

Both Jerome and Galen positioned themselves as critics of their contemporary scholarly world and as seekers of true knowledge.[15]  Both were anti-sophists working in the style of sophists.

Both Jerome and Galen advanced scholarship from within another profession.  Galen treated patients in his long and laborious clinical practice as a doctor.[16]  Jerome spent perhaps eighteen months living as a hermit in the desert outside Antioch.[17]  He spent much of his later life living as a monk in a small monastery in Bethlehem.  While Jerome built for himself in Bethlehem an expensive library, he did not live the life of an urban orator or teacher seeking to develop a school of rich and well-connected male students.[18]  Women financially supported Jerome.  He in turn instructed them in Christian ascetic living.  Jerome, like Galen, had a profession open to persons with little formal learning.

Galen wrote a treatise declaring that the best physician is also a philosopher.  Jerome through his work implicitly claimed that the best Christian ascetic is also a biblical scholar.  Both attacked what they regarded as bad scholarship in ways that scholars (at least today) regard as uncollegial.  Seeing Jerome in the persona of Origen obscures Jerome and Galen’s common position across Greek and Latin, Christian and non-Christian knowledge competition.

Institutionalization of knowledge competition naturally tends to generate intellectual cartelization, disciplinary barriers, and self-interested discursive civility.  Latin classics, Greek classics, and patristics have thus developed as separate spheres of professional scholarship.  Professional scholars, keenly aware of the importance of collegiality for professional advancement, shun pugnacious, opinionated, and outrageous work.  More appreciation for Jerome and Galen might help to spark renaissance and enlightenment.

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Notes:

[1] Vessey (1993) pp. 141-3.

[2] Jerome, Letter 22 (To Eustochium, dated 384) s. 30, from Latin trans. Wright (1933) pp. 127-9, with amendments, e.g. modernizing archaic English.  The translation in Freemantle (1892) is similar.  The quote within the quote is from Matthew 6:21, Luke 12:34.  The subsequent quote is also from Letter 22.30.

[3] Williams (2006) pp. 27.   Id. pp. 26-7 observes, “it seems like that the story of the dream is a fiction.”

[4] Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Bk. 6, states:

having come to the conclusion that he ought not to depend on the support of others, he {Origen} gave away all the books of ancient literature that he possessed, though formerly he had fondly cherished them, and was content to receive four obols a day from the man who purchased them.

Trans. Williams (2006) p. 133.  Origen apparently had a material interest in “giving away” his books of ancient literature.  Id. p. 134 asks:

Could Eusebius’s account of the fate of Origen’s library have played a role — perhaps an unconscious one — in Jerome’s concoction of the story of his dream?

Jerome was highly creative.  Jerome seems to me likely to have constructed his dream to follow Origen giving up pagan literature.  Jerome probably regretted that he didn’t have a daily financial stipend to support his scholarly work.

[5] Id. pp. 36, pp. 162-5.  Rufinus accused Jerome of working in Bethlehem as a grammaticus, teaching boys to read Virgil, Horace, and Terence.  Jerome didn’t deny that charge.  Williams (2006) pp. 163-4.  In his De viris illustribus (On Illustrious Men), Jerome eulogized Origen:

his immortal genius, how that he understood dialectics, as well as geometry, arithmetic, music, grammar, and rhetoric, and taught all the schools of philosophers, in such wise that he had also diligent students in secular literature, and lectured to them daily, and the crowds which flocked to him were marvelous.  These, he received in the hope that through the instrumentality of this secular literature, he might establish them in the faith of Christ.

De viris illustribus, s. 54.  Jerome probably followed Origen in such practice.

[6] Adkin (2000) p. 126.

[7] Jerome, Letter 70 (To Magnus an Orator of Rome, dated 397) s. 2, 6, from Latin trans. Freemantle (1892) pp. 368, 374.  In his Adversus Rufininus (dated 402), Jerome claimed that he merely remembered secular literature from his boyhood education:

I learned the seven forms of Syllogisms in the Elements of logic; I learned the meaning of an Axiom, or as it might be called in Latin a Determination; I learned how every sentence must have in it a verb and a noun; how to heap up the steps of the Sorites, how to detect the clever turns of the Pseudomenos and the frauds of the stock sophisms. I can swear that I never read any of these things after I left school. I suppose that, to escape from having what I learned made into a crime, I must, according to the fables of the poets, go and drink of the river Lethe.

Jerome, of course, knew “the fables of the poets.”  His claims in Adversus Rufininus about this knowledge of worldly literature is best understand as participating in sophistic argument.

[8] Williams (2006) p. 28.

[9] Jerome, Adversus Jovinianum (Against Jovinian, dated 393) Bk. 2, s. 6, from Latin trans. Freemantle (1892) p. 865.  On Galen’s discussion of the use of human feces, see Keyser (1997) p. 189, citing Galen, De Simp. Medicament. Facultatibus (On the Powers of Simple Remedies) 10.2.14.

[10] Id. Bk. 2, s. 11, Freemantle (1892) p. 871.  Cf. Galen, An Exhortation to Study the Arts, s. 11.

[11] Another explicit citation to Galen is in Jerome, Letter 54 (To Furia, dated 394), s. 9:

Physicians and others who have written on the nature of the human body, and
particularly Galen in his book entitled On matters of health, say that the bodies of boys and of young men and of full grown men and women glow with an interior heat and consequently that for persons of these ages all food is injurious which tends to promote this heat: while on the other hand it is highly conducive to health in eating and in drinking to take things cold and cooling. Contrariwise they tell us that warm food and old wine are good for the old who suffer from humours and from chilliness.

Trans. Freemantle (1892) p. 276.  I haven’t been able to find any other explicit reference to Galen in Jerome’s corpus besides the three cited.  The three references to Galen all date to 393-4.  This is when controversy over Origen’s orthodoxy emerged.  Jerome may have considered Galen as an additional model of work apart from the controversy over Origen.

[12] Nutton (2013) p. 234.  Mattern (2013), p. 4, observes of Galen’s personality:

{it} was typical of his time, place, and social strata, and Galen was not more competitive, hostile, or self-aggrandizing than his peers.

That persona arose within knowledge competition that wasn’t highly institutionalized.

[13] Opt. Med., from Greek trans. Singer (1997) p. 33.   Jerome declared of Jovinian:

For although he boasts of being a monk, he has exchanged his dirty tunic, bare feet, common bread, and drink of water, for a snowy dress, sleek skin, honey-wine and dainty dishes, for the sauces of Apicius and Paxamus, for baths and rubbings, and for the cook-shops. Is it not clear that he prefers his belly to Christ, and thinks his ruddy complexion worth the kingdom of heaven?

Adversus Jovinianum, Bk. 1, s. 40, trans. Freemantle (1892) p. 837.

[14] Jerome, Adversus Jovinianum, Bk. 2, s. 36, trans. Freemantle (1892) p. 904.  Id. also mocks Jovinian’s followers as declaring, “we follow vice, not virtue; Epicurus, not Christ; Jovinianus, not the Apostle Paul.”  The reference to “the Epicurus of Christianity” is from id. Bk. 1, s. 1.

[15] In Letter 52 (To Nepotian, dated 394) s. 4, Jerome declares:

To what end, you ask, these recondite references? To show that you need not expect
from me boyish declamation, flowery sentiments, a meretricious style, and at the close of every paragraph the terse and pointed aphorisms which call forth approving shouts from those who hear them.

Trans. Freemantle (1892) p. 246.  The “recondite references” were merely citations of scripture in a letter instructing clergy.  In Letter 28 (To Marsella, dated perhaps 384), Jerome disparaged “foolish knowledge of the knowing.”  That’s a key theme in Galen’s writings.

[16] On Galen’s practice of medicine, Mattern (2013) esp. Ch. 7.

[17] Williams (2006) pp. 29, 273.  Jerome lived as a hermit in Chalcis.  The length of that experience isn’t clear and tends to be exaggerated.

[18] Id., Ch. 4, describes Jerome’s large, expensive library.

[image] Jerome in the desert, meditating on the cross. Angelo Caroselli (Italian, 1585-1652). Painting, Rome, c. 1620-1630. The Walters Art Museum 37.1910.

References:

Adkin, Neil. 2000. “Jerome, Seneca, Juvenal.” Revue Belge de Philologie et d’Histoire 78 (fasc. 1, Antiquite – Oudheid): 119-128.

Freemantle, William Henry, trans. 1892.  The Principal Works of St. Jerome.  Philip Schaff, ed. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd Series, vol. 6. Oxford: Parker.

Keyser, Paul T. 1997. “Science and Magic in Galen’s Recipes (Sympathy and Efficacy).” Pp. 175-98 in Armelle Debru, ed. Galen on Pharmacology: Philosophy, History and Medicine. Proceedings of the 5th International Galen Colloquium, Lille, 16-18 March 1995, Leiden, New York, and Cologne, 1997 .

Mattern, Susan P. 2013. The prince of medicine: Galen in the Roman Empire. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Nutton, Vivian. 2013. Ancient medicine. 2nd. ed. London: Routledge.

Singer, P. N., trans. 1997. Galen. Selected works. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Vessey, Mark. 1993. “Jerome’s Origen: The Making of a Christian Literary Persona.” Studia Patristica: Papers Presented to the International Conference on Patristic Studies 28: 135–45.

Williams, Megan Hale. 2006. The monk and the book: Jerome and the making of Christian scholarship. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Wright, F.A., trans. 1933. Jerome: select letters. Loeb Classical Library. London: W. Heinemann.

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