Archive for July, 2006

The Pharsalia continues as Pompey’s dead wife (Caesar’s daughter Julia) lets him know she means to haunt his dreams and keep him from his new wife, the unlucky Cornelia. Meanwhile, Pompey’s forces are joined by supporters from all over the known Roman world and beyond it. Lucan, like Julia, keeps reminding us that they’re all doomed.

Meanwhile, the Greek settlers of Massilia (Marseilles) want to remain neutral in Rome’s civil war. Caesar doesn’t intend to let them.

Book III: Massilia


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Blog Announcement

The summer cold/flu/sinus drippage thing continues, and so does my hoarseness. I’ve been pushing it a bit too hard this week, and last night my voice announced that it was ready to take on the title role of The Godfather. Today didn’t improve it any. So I am resting it again.

However, with any luck (or intercession by St. Blaise), I’ll be back podcasting tomorrow with Morien, the Ascent, and a special treat for the feast of St. Mary Magdalene. See you then!

UPDATE: Or maybe I’ll just be hoarse all weekend. Well, that happens.

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It’s Mystery Thursday again! Today we visit Max Carrados with “The Coin of Dionysius”. It’s the beginning of a rather remarkable old series of stories which today have been almost forgotten.

Ernest Bramah himself, of course, is rather remarkable for his wide interests and amazingly fertile imagination. Largely known today for being mentioned by Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey, he deserves wider fame than that. This podcast will do what it can.

“The Coin of Dionysius”


UPDATE: Link to mp3 fixed.

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Treatise IV continues, as Cyprian interprets the “Our Father” up to “On earth as it is heaven”.

Treatise IV (cont.)


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Against Heresies continues, with in-depth criticism of the Gnostics’ cosmology of Aeons.

Fun for pure argument’s sake. If that doesn’t interest you, I swear we get to more widely applicable stuff soon.

Book II, Ch. 12: The Triacontad and the Conjunction System Doesn’t Work.


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Mr. Sponge’s Sporting Tour continues, as Mr. Watchorn the huntsman attempts to serve up a foxhunt at a moment’s notice. Unfortunately, you need a lot of people and horses and dogs to go hunting this way, so expressing the process isn’t the best way to go….

Ch. 64: The Kennel and the Stud


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Lucan’s Pharsalia continues, as Pompey and his fleet flee Italy in a daring predawn escape. Dang, now  I wish every daring predawn escape movie included a scene where Venus, as the morning star, becomes “lost in light”. Some lovely stuff here.

Part 2, Book II


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Lucan’s Pharsalia continues with all the stuff happening after Pompey left Rome with his untried legion. Mostly, we hear about what Caesar was up to, who was resisting Caesar, and spend time with young Brutus and his famous friend, Cato. Cato was a really honest lawyer and a really determined Republican, but he was also really really unsuccessful in his politics.

Anyway, this section also features the typically Roman, touching yet creepy, love story of Cato and his second and third wife, Marcia. Marcia did indeed bear him three kids. Then Hortensius comes looking to marry one of Cato’s daughters (from his first marriage). A daughter who’s already happily married, thank you, and would rather not divorce hubby to marry one of Daddy’s political friends. So what’s a good daddy to do? Well, if you’re Cato, you get your wife Marcia to agree to divorce you and marry Hortensius.

Why, yes, it is possible to be a tad too political and idealistic. (And yes, Marcia should have sworn vengeance on both men and fed them poison. But maybe that’s just me.) Yet  apparently Marcia shared her husband’s interests enough to do this. And then, when her husband Hortensius was dead, she did indeed remarry Cato. You can’t make up stuff like this!

Still, I am beginning to see why the popularity of Lucan waned. You have to be a bit up on Roman history and geography to get some of the references. But the secret of reading poetry in general is this — you don’t really have to understand completely what the poet is going on about. Every poet makes references to girls you don’t know, incidents nobody remembers, songs in the Forgotten Top Forty, beer and wine you never got to drink, friends and enemies you never got to hang out with, and sunsets you have never and will never see. I don’t say you should ignore them, quite — it’s more like you should insert a placeholder (“Interesting and Significant Placename”) and go on.

Part 1, Book II: The Flight of Pompeius


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For once, a chapter of The Ascent of Mount Carmel where I’m not flailing to describe just what it’s about….

This chapter describes why the soul, to advance toward union with God, has to turn away deliberately from its own knowledge and experience — including its previous experiences of the supernatural — to walk by faith alone. Everything the soul knows of itself is just a sort of approximation, which is fine for normal purposes, but worse than nothing as regards God. Having so little and so inaccurate of knowledge really is a dangerous thing — and misleading, too. So the soul needs to set all that aside and go with nothing but blind faith. Only by walking blind will the soul be able to see.

(This does not mean ditching your Christian faith, of course, as that is precisely your guide. Christianity is not something we know of ourselves, but through revelation, reason, and faith — all of which were given to us by God, and exist outside ourselves. You also don’t get to ditch Mass and the other obligations of the faith, since those are your air, water, and food for the journey, and were instituted by God for that purpose. I hope it was unnecessary for me to say this.)

Chapter 4: How the Soul Must Be in Darkness to Be Guided by Faith


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Blog Announcement

I’m calling off the podcast today on account of hoarseness (and coughing, and fever). When I get to feeling better, I’ll start up again.

Gotta love that summer cold (or flu, or whatever).

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Morien continues, as Sir Gariet (Gareth) joins the quest for Morien’s absent father, Sir Agloval. Morien has to ask his dad a very important question; so, apparently, important questions run in the family. Also, we have a dream sequence involving a stairway to heaven. (But no lady’s trying to buy it.)

Part 5


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It’s Mystery Thursday again, and today our story is “The Reward”.

Melville Davisson Post is another forgotten turn-of-the-century American mystery writer. Even mystery buffs mostly think of him as the author of the Uncle Abner stories (historical mysteries set in the backwaters of the antebellum South). But in his own time, he was more well known for writing the rather chilling stories of Randolph Mason, a lawyer who planned crimes for criminals so that they’d be sure to get off scot-free, especially after life imitated the legal loophole in “The Corpus Delicti”. (Uncle Abner came later, though he was also quite famous.) Project Gutenberg has his collection of his WWI-time stories about an aristocratic Scotland Yard detective, The Sleuth of St. James Street; “The Reward” is one of them.

Trivia: Post, himself a lawyer, ran for president in 1924 on the Democratic ticket.

“The Reward”


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Blog Announcement

Mystery Thursday will be slightly delayed. When I get everything up and processed later today, though, I promise there’ll be a story. I apologize for my slowness this week.

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If you’ve been staying away from my Fathers stuff, try this one. No high complicated theology here — just the simple first part of a simple essay on the spiritual riches of the prayer we call the “Our Father”. (By a bishop who was martyred in AD 258.)

Part 1 of Treatise IV: On the Our Father


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Against Heresies continues. Irenaeus talks about the consistency of belief in God as the creator of the world, both in Christianity and outside it, and that God made matter out of nothing. He says that it’s their inability to believe this that makes the heretics go astray.

Chs. 9-11, Book II


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