Sunday, April 27, 2008

Gregory of Tours, Clovis

      Book II from the History of the Franks deals with the beginning of the Merovingian dynasty.  It is very clear after reading just a few lines that these people cannot possibly be the descendants of Jesus, as is claimed in the Da Vinci Code.
     Roman consular lists mention a Clodio, who is one of the Kings of the Franks, the long-haired kings.  Merovech, one of his descendants, was the father of Childeric and gave his name to the dynasty.  Childeric is described by Gregory as being King of the Franks, whose private life was one long debauch. 
     Gregory also described the conversion of Clovis since, up until around 496 A.D., the family had been firmly pagan.  But, Clovis married a Christian woman who worked tirelessly to convert her husband to her faith.  She had their first son baptized and he promptly died, leading Clovis to declare it was a bad religion.  Their second son was baptized and nearly died, but Clotild prayed and Chlodomer survived.  It was not a good sign.
      In spite of this, when a battle with the Alamanni was going against Clovis, he decided to try this god and promised to be baptized if Jesus would  assist him in slaughtering his enemies.  Because Jesus enjoys a good bloodbath, do you not know, Clovis won and was immediately baptized.  His sister decided to be baptized too and died right after.  It makes you wonder what was in the water. 
     One might think Clovis had a hand in these deaths but female relatives were generally safe.  It was all his male relatives and possible competitors for the throne that he had murdered. Which is part of why this dynasty died out in the end:  they kept killing each other.

Beatles's song of the week

This one was hard to translate because of things in it which did not exist in Classical Rome. I did my best.  I am sure it won't be hard to guess anyway.

Pulchra Rita, vigilia stativae mercedis,
Nihil inter nos venire potest,
Ubi obscurum decet, corem tibi abstraho. 

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Gregory of Tours

  Opening lines have to be the toughest.  I have been thinking and writing and writing and thinking, wanting my first blog to be a dazzler. 
  My summer reading project - well, I have several but the one on the top of my list - is Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks.  While other moms are at the beach reading the National Enquirer or the latest from the Oprah book club, I will be reading about the adventures of Fredegund, which are far more salacious.  I may have read the entire book before then if I get really into it.  I have already begun.  This very morning, while my kids were having a swimming lesson, I sat outside with my Ipod on and reading the Introduction, Preface and Book I.
  Gregory begins with a declaration of faith.  Heresy was a serious business; you would not want to be caught on the wrong side of that law.  In his Preface, Gregory declared that he was a true Catholic and did not believe in the Arian or the Pelagian heresies. 
   The Pelagian heresy is especially interesting since it appears to be winning in the long haul.  During the Middle Ages, the temptation of Eve was held to be 'sex' not the 'Knowledge of Good and Evil' but opinion seems to have shifted to the view that eating of the fruit meant acquiring free will and personal responsibility.  Sex was always there; how else were Adam and Eve going to populate the Garden of Eden?  He who laughs last laughs best and hopefully Pelagius is having a good laugh somewhere.
   However, this is not exactly what Pelagius was saying; he spoke rather about Original Sin and that children were born innocent and not tainted with this sin of Eve's.  It is our later actions that make us sinful or not.  We can lay the blame for the anti-Pelagian stand on St. Augustine who lobbied hard for the opinion that we are all dirty swine from the moment we are conceived.  Speak for yourself Augustine; I am as pure as the driven snow. 
  In Book I is the story of the Chaste Lovers and how boring are they?  Especially coming on the heels of section 44 which deals with Urbicus, a Bishop of Clermont-Ferrand who had a legal wife.  The wife decided she needed 'some' and she went over to the church and screamed until he agreed to come and give her some but good. You go girl!  Of course that was the Devil's fault.  After all, what woman in her right mind would be screaming for sex from her husband?

The Beatles in Latin.  
What could be better than a Beatles' song?  Why a Beatles' song in Latin of course.  I will post the answer next week but try to guess which song this is. Just for fun.

Te volo, te volo male, melilla.
Te volo, te volo male,
Eo alienor mente, eo alienor mente.
Ea est gravis.