The wisdom of Granny Weatherwax

Today’s reading:

  • Elizabeth Scalia on treating people as things.  Quoth the wise witch: “And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”
  • the story of Ohthere of Hålogaland as recorded by Alfred the Great in his appendix to his translation of Orosius’ History of the World.
  • a report of Roger Pearse’s current reading: the letters of C.S. Lewis have led him to other good books.
  • the charming Story of King Leir from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae.
  • Popes Formosus (891-96), Boniface VI (896) and Stephen VII (896-97).  Stephen had such a hysterical hatred for Formosus that he had his rotting corpse exhumed, propped in a throne and tried for many crimes, a deacon standing beside the ripe body to answer for the dead pope.  He was convicted, of course, and subjected to a not-as-rare-as-I-thought posthumous execution, after, of course, cutting off the three fingers of his right hand that he had used for blessings.  His twice-dead and mutilated body was thrown into the Tiber and recovered by a hermit downstream, and began working miracles.  Formosus’s less spiritual-minded followers then got busy and deposed Stephen and degraded and imprisoned him; he turned up strangled a few days later.  This is the only sure thing known of Stephen’s reign as pope; times were rough in the late 800s and records are scanty.
  • Book 9 chapters 3 and 4 of Geoffrey’s History of the Kings of Britain, in which King Arthur, his shield Priwen, bearing an image of the Mother of God, his lance Ron, fit for slaughter, and his mighty sword Caliburn, forged in the Isle of Avallon, raised the siege of Lincoln and defeated the treacherous Saxons.  Indeed, Arthur with his Caliburn alone slew no fewer than four hundred and seventy stout Saxons.
  • I also dipped into a bit of the Ancrene Riwle, a monastic rule perhaps written by Richard Poore, then the Dean of Salisbury Cathedral.  It looks very promising—I may need to do more than dip into it.
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