|1 May 2007 @ 16:35, by Vaxen Var|
Eureka! (as the ancients put it)
When a medieval scribe 'recycled' ancient manuscripts to make a prayer book, his pious work obscured significant texts. Now yet another jewel has been revealed, reports Andy McSmith
Published: 30 April 2007
If you must write a book, and have no access to a computer, you really should start on a blank sheet of paper. But paper, or papyrus, was in short supply when a scribe named John Myronas, was compiling a prayer book, 778 years ago. So he took some old books that nobody seemed to need any more, scrubbed off the text, and recycled the pages.
His prayer book, or Euchologion, is moderately interesting to students of ancient manuscripts. But with all due respect to Myronas, it is nowhere near as significant as the old texts that he wiped out, whose traces are just about legible in the parchment. Those hidden works have now turned his book into one of the most valuable and extraordinary literary properties in the world.
To the astonishment of experts, the old Greek prayer book has thrown up yet another unique buried treasure.
It was already known that, hidden in its pages were treatises by Archimedes - hence its name, the Archimedes Palimpsest - and parts of a speech that an Athenian politician delivered 2,330 years ago. This time, digital technology has uncovered an essay on Aristotle written approximately 1,800 years ago - the third hidden jewel to emerge from the 174-page prayer book.
"The extraordinary thing is no matter how much you put into this book in terms of energy, knowledge and brain power, you always seem to get more out," William Noel, who has led the team that have been examining the book, said in a webcast given to celebrate the discovery.
The new find is a commentary written in Ancient Greek on Aristotle, who studied philosophy in Athens, under Plato, and tutored Alexander the Great. He wrote a seminal work called Categories, of which the new discovery is a critique. Its author is thought to be a philosopher named Alexander of Aphriodisias.
Aristotle's Categories has served as the foundation for the study of logic throughout Western history, according to Reviel Netz, the professor of ancient science at Stanford University. "The philosophical passage in the Archimedes Palimpsest is now definitely identified as a relatively early commentary to Aristotle's Categories," he said.
Dr Noel added: "There is no more important philosopher in the world than Aristotle. To have early views in the second and third century AD of Aristotle's Categories is just fantastic."
One newly translated passage speculates whether the category "footed" applies only to animals, or whether it includes objects, such as a bed. The writer argues: "For as 'foot' is ambiguous when applied to an animal and to a bed, so are 'with feet' and 'without feet'. So by 'in species' here [Aristotle] is saying 'in formula'. For if it ever happens that the same name indicates the differentiate of genera that are different and not subordinate one to the other, they are at any rate not the same in formula."
We now know that the scribe Myronas vandalised at least five very old books in putting together his prayer book. They included the only surviving written work by the Athenian leader Hyperides, and a collection of seven essays by Archimedes. He also pirated a liturgical book and two other books that have not been identified.
But if John Myronas seems like one of the great literary vandals of all time, there were extenuating circumstances. He lived through a very difficult period in a city that had been gratuitously wrecked. This was the fault of the misnamed Pope Innocent III, who launched the Fourth Crusade in 1204. The Crusaders assembled in Venice, but could not raise the necessary cash to sail to their planned destination, Egypt. Instead, egged on by the greedy burghers of Venice, they headed for Constantinople, the richest city in Europe, and plundered it. One witness lamented: "How shall I begin to tell of the deeds wrought by these nefarious men ... these wrathful barbarians, vomiting forth bile at every unpleasing word."
The smouldering wreckage of the city they left behind lost its position as the world centre of the Greek Orthodox religion, and there was no one to take proper care of the treasures that had been stored for centuries in its ancient libraries. Living amid the wreckage, Myronas can perhaps be forgiven for thinking that nobody needed old works by Greeks who had been dead for years.
The prayer book he created in 1229 belonged for many years to the monks of St Sabas monastery, on a hilltop a few miles east of Bethlehem. No one knows how it got there, but there was a record that the monks had it in their possession in the 16th century.
At some point, it was taken back to Constantinople, to the Metochion, or daughter house of the Holy Sepulchre, which housed hundreds of manuscripts belonging to the Greek Patriarch. In 1840, a visiting biblical scholar, Constantine Tischendorf, spotted that there was hidden writing in the parchment, without identifying the author. He was interested enough to remove at least one leaf as a keepsake. His estate sold it to Cambridge University Library in 1879.
In 1899, a Greek scholar named Papadopoulus Kerrameus undertook the job of compiling a catalogue of all the manuscripts in the Patriarch's collection. He, too, noticed the older writing under the text of the prayer book, but did not recognise its author. He did, however, transcribe a few lines. These few lines were enough to alert a Danish scholar named John Ludwig Heiberg, who was one of the world's foremost authorities on Archimedes, who hurried to Constantinople in 1906 to examine item No 355 in the Patriarch's collection. He hit gold dust. He found all the seven treatises by Archimedes that were concealed in the parchment, three of which had been lost partially or completely lost for centuries. Heiberg was already working on a book on Archimedes. The finished version included photographs of the Constantinople treasure, and a list of his latest finds.
Archimedes is of course known as the Sicilian who leapt out of his bath and ran naked down the street shouting "Eureka". Well he might, because if the old tale is accurate, he had hit upon one of the basic principles of physics.
King Hiero of Syracuse had ordered a new solid gold crown, but when it arrived, he suspected that the goldsmith had used silver with a gold coating. He asked Archimedes to find what the crown was made of, without damaging it. Archimedes could weigh the crown, but could not measure its volume, which he needed to do to test its purity - until he noticed how the bath overflowed as he lowered himself into the water, and realised that if he immersed the crown in water, he could measure its volume by the amount of water it displaced.
The other famous story about Archimedes, who was born around 287BC, is that King Hiero was stuck for an effective method of removing rainwater from the hulls of his ships, so his ingenious courtier designed a machine consisting of a hollow tube containing a spiral that could be turned by a handle at one end. When the lower end of the tube was placed into the hull and the handle turned, water was carried up the tube and out of the boat.
Scholars knew that Archimedes was a man of great wisdom and curiosity, but they did not know he had written a treatise called The Method of Mechanical Theorems until Heiberg photographed and translated it. The palimpsest is also the only sources for passages in another treatise, called Stomachion, and the only source for the original Greek text of Archimedes's essay "On Floating Bodies".
That discovery was enough to make the manuscript an almost priceless asset, and may have tempted somebody to steal it. For almost a century, it vanished, until a French family put it up for auction at Christie's in New York in October 1998. The family claimed to have owned it since the 1920s. If so, they took very little care of it. Three pages of Archimedes's manuscript that had been photographed and transcribed by Heiberg were missing, and have not been found. The book has also been severely attacked by mould, which had destroyed whole areas of text. Also, bizarrely, some time after 1929, someone had made four paintings of the Evangelists over the top of the prayer book text, and therefore over the older texts.
The Greek government claimed that it was stolen property and took out an injunction to prevent its sale, but a court permitted the auction to go ahead. The purchaser was an anonymous American who deposited it at The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, for conservation and study. Dr Noel, the curator of manuscripts there, said that when it first came into his care he feared it was a "write-off".
But in 2002, using modern imaging technology, the palimpsest yielded its second great secret, the only known manuscript of a speech by Hyperides, a contemporary of Aristotle who was executed for leading a rebellion against the Macedonians a year after the death of Alexander the Great. The pages are damaged and difficult to read, but it appears to have been a political speech.
There could be other fragments of his speeches in the parchment.
Alexander of Aphrodisias is a more recent character who is regarded as one of the best of the ancient commentators who kept Aristotle's philosophy alive. The dedication to two Roman emperors on the frontispiece of one of his books suggests he was writing between AD198 and AD209.
Roger Easton, the professor of imaging science at Rochester Institute of Technology, said yesterday that the new discovery involved digital imaging techniques which pushed "the limits of available technology". As Professor Easton was deploying the method hoping to uncover more about the texts they already knew they were there, he realised he had stumbled something new. "Even though I couldn't read Ancient Greek, just the fact that I could see the words gave me the shivers," he said.
Dr Noel told the BBC: "I am at a loss for words at what this book has turned out to be. To make these discoveries in the 21st century is frankly nutty. It is just so exciting. We have one book that contains three texts from the ancient world that are absolutely central to our understanding of mathematics, politics, and now philosophy."
1 May 2007 @ 18:49 by hgoodgame : Heureka!
The story goes something like this ~
King Hiero had just commissioned a new crown made, but suspected that it might not be pure, and that the craftsman who made it had cheated him. Hiero contacted Archimedes, a man known well educated(by the standards of the time). The king wanted to know how to determine the purity of the crown without damaging it, and Archimedes was at a loss. He did not know how to proceed, and went home deep in thought. Eventually, he went to take a bath. The tub was very full, and when he attempted to sit down, water spilled over the side. At this point, he realized the now well known principles of water displacement. It is said that in his excitement and eagerness to tell the king , he ran naked through the streets shouting "Eureka! Eureka!"
I'm still at a loss of understanding how this would tell how much of the crown was gold and how much was silver but oh well, I love a good story! (and.. they're all good stories)! Fun(ny) how they come to light for us now. How do we know they are not making it up out of whole cloth? ;)
1 May 2007 @ 19:25 by swanny : well
makes me wonder how many other scrubbed works might be out there
he couldn't have been the only one short of paper....
this sounds like it could be a goldmine in itself if there are more
authors around the time 1229 AD. who did the same thing.
1 May 2007 @ 19:32 by a-d : Heidi, Heidi, u crack me up!
of course u know and understand this: Archimedes (first) Law: when your body is all dunked into (the bath)Water, the phone rings! How did Murphy put it?...ahhh... if Things can go wrong they will!... ; )
1 May 2007 @ 21:28 by : If...
they can go wrong they can go right. Dichotomies and trance ending them...
"Apples of gold in settings of silver." - Morei Le Nebukiim by Moishe Maimonides ;)
How do we know the whole cloth is really whole cloth? Yeah, there was an alarming shortage of paper. Hahahahaha But it is so easy to make out of most any kind of grass including 'that' grass... so, no excuses. ;)
"How shall I begin to tell of the deeds wrought by these nefarious men ... these wrathful barbarians, vomiting forth bile at every unpleasing word." - One Witness to the sacking of Constantinople.
Hey, but aren't the, good and right-eous, Christians, Jews, and Muslims, still at it? You bet they are! Only now they have Nukes!
And what the hell is John Edwards doing campaigning in Israel? Getting a haircut?
2 May 2007 @ 00:56 by a-d : here
[ http://shiftingages.com/ ] click on image, then one more click once done reading 1st page. Continue next and behold the greatness of what us said! Trans ending them. yesss... Yahhh.... I would say the whole story of "not enough paper" smells a little too much rat to really be the truth of the "situation"
2 May 2007 @ 01:13 by hgoodgame : Nice link, Astrid!
'The Shift of the Ages is an affirmation that focus is being redirected from the problems themselves to the active participation in the solution.'
That's the way we do it, by looking to what we want manifested now and looking away from the old uglie-buglies. It's an ancient seek-rit now being un-veiled for all to see.
Here's another interesting link right back atchoo (gesundheit!)
Apples of gold! ;)
2 May 2007 @ 04:18 by : Support the shift?
Hey, WE ARE THE SHIFT! And how much does the good 'Don' "CHARGE" for this little bit of Gnosis? Gnu? ;) Schoene Danke, A-d...
According to an ancient Mayan Calendar we are living in the last days of a great cosmic cycle known as the "Long Count." Traditionally, this is labeled as the Death of the Fourth period of the Sun and the Birth of the new Fifth Sun. The Maya keep accurate and detailed records of cosmic cycles, Earth's transitions and extreme changes in civilizations' collective consciousness. Indigenous traditions and world religions as well as Platonic philosophy view the current phase of existence as a harbinger of radical adjustment in our perception of reality. The birth of the 5th Sun signifies a "Shift of the Ages." Light-workers are now unifying, forming alliances and underground networks to assist the mainstream with this momentous transition. Don Alejandro Cirilo Perez Oxlaj, a 13th Generation Quiche Mayan High Priest, is a warrior of light par excellence. He is also known as "Wandering Wolf" among the indigenous cultures. Don Alejandro, on behalf of the Mayan Council of Indigenous Elders in Guatemala, commissioned the production of this film in order to reveal sacred visions, concepts, and information. According to Mayan prophecy, we now live in a crucial period of time when it is advisable to release this information to the public. The Ancient Ones left stories, heiroglyphs and prophecies to be carefully considered by each successive generation. "The Shift of the Ages" gives voice to these Ancient Ones who have prophesied this shift for eons. "Wandering Wolf" and other indigenous elders lovingly share their message with the people of our planet. Hear their words, feel the yearning in their hearts, and see their visions! Positive seeds are already sown for our future. The "Shift of the Ages" warms your heart, inspires your soul and expands your mind. Support the Shift!
Now on to Elf Riedes linkage...
Storm Ulf *Wink*
2 May 2007 @ 04:28 by : Sophia
"Apples of gold in settings of silver." --- Commentary on a portion of the TeNaCh made by one Moses Maimonides in his work "Morei Le Nebukiim" or "Guide for the perplexed."
It was written at a time when good old Aristotle had been conning the world for ages and had finally come to Spain, in force, to become the predominate Philosophy (Devoid of Sophia, of course).
So, in order to persuade youg Jews, who were being assimilated in droves to Aristotilianism, Moses, a physician by trade, took up the bat to illustrate the pro-found depths of thought to be found within the Torah, Niviyiim, and Kituviim (Law, Prophets, and Writings) of Yahadut (Judaism) thus bringing many back to the fold at a time that was very dangerous to be a Jew in...
But, beyond Judaism, this was a great service, as well, to all of humanity stuck in the Dog-Ma of Aristotle who was NOT, by a long shot, the greatest philosopher (Phileo Sophia) the world has ever known.
That's just plain old Hubris! ;) Danke, Heidi san, as well, for the linkage...
Purusha is said to dwell in the Heart. Purusha, google it, is about the size of your thumb. ;) Heh, heh, heh... I love me! Do you?
2 May 2007 @ 04:34 by hgoodgame : Reminds me of a ring I deeply cherish.;)
Apples of gold in settings of silver. I haven't worn rings for a number of months now but am suddenly tempted to pull out that particular one and begin wearing it on a regular basis again. Such a beautiful piece of filigree work with the sweetest little unostentatious diamond, perfectly representative of me! I love me too, do you? ;)
2 May 2007 @ 07:08 by : Hahahaha!
Yup. Sounds like a really nice ring perfectly re-presentative of... you!
Layla Tov, Habeebchee,
2 May 2007 @ 23:22 by a-d : To tell u the Truth....
Heidi.... I STOLE that URL from somewhere here on NCN blogs.... I found it and saved it and then I forgot where I found it!.... Luckily I had saved it -as I thought it was very important one! (a soon as I have a little more time I will work on finding who gave it to us originally. I really liked his article as well,.... oooops ... it was more that I liked the info on his Membership page! : ) ---
yet i cant for my life remember it right now... and need to go out and finish my garden work!... But just know that the honor and thanks really goes to that Someone else! : )
2 May 2007 @ 23:29 by a-d : Oooohhh Heidi,
i did just saw it! It is Jeff Hutner, who is the Dad of the Shift of the Ages!
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