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Ch 4g: pp 63-69

For the Medieval Dinosaur in all of us.

Ch 4g: pp 63-69

Postby Stanley Anderson » 03 Aug 2007, 16:39

Sorry for the long delay since the last section – busy with other threads and such. This post will cover the rest of the Macrobius portion of chapter 4. But I’ll divide the post into sections in order to easily reference various parts.

(pp 63-64, Six paragraphs beginning with "To a modern reader..." and ending with "...of Dionysius Cato")

This section describes Macrobius’ scheme of dream species. I wonder what categories the dreams in Lewis’ works would fall into? Jane’s seem to be clearly visio. I suppose The Pilgrim’s Regress must be somnium as well as Orual’s dream/vision in TWHF, and the Great Divorce is possibly oraculum. The Dark Island visions would seem to fall into the visum category, and some of the dreams Ransom has on Perelandra (and in Out of the Silent Planet – I think) could fall into the insomnium category. Any others?


(pp 64-66, Three paragraphs beginning with "A dream may combine..." and ending with "...transmuted into theology")

Macrobius’ different kinds of “figmentum” brings to mind Lewis’ insistence that Narnia is not allegory (along with his disclaimer in Perelandra that none of the characters are allegorical). Of course the modern usage of the word allegory has been watered down and corrupted from the meaning that Lewis applied to it. And “symbolism” and “metaphor” don’t seem to exactly get what Narnia does either. I wonder if Lewis would not object to item 2A “the argument is grounded in solid truth but that truth itself is exhibited by means of fictions”, along with “The knowledge of holy things is here hidden under ‘a pious veil of figments’” as good descriptions of what the Narnian stories encompass?

The third paragraph about the change in the spiritual atmosphere, where Lewis says of Macrobius at the end, that “mythology and philosophy have both been transmuted into theology” reminds me a lot of what Lewis accomplishes in Till We Have Faces – the raw pagan rites and images of Ungit and the god of the mountain gradually transform, in the course of the book, into more purely theological and moral concepts.


(pp 66-69, Three paragraphs to finish the Macrobius section beginning with "The God and Mind mentioned..." and ending with "...enable us to predict them ")

I found the four levels of the four virtues fascinating. The transcendent forms of the highest level and their lack of description along with Lewis’ comment “Apparently it was to leave room for all this that Cicero wrote the five words quod quidem in terris fiat” leave me wanting to hear more:-) It’s been too long since my four years of Latin in high school to be able to accurately translate anything anymore except “et cetera” and “E pluribus unum”:-), so I can only guess that those mysterious five words mean something like ‘that indeed which is to be on Earth”? (any Latin scholars out there who can correct that?)

The part about the Neo-Platonism view of the world that “seeps, as it were, into existence at those moments when Mind is not perfectly ‘waiting upon’ God”, gives one (as a Christian) a rather creepy view of creation:-), but it is probably a pretty good description of sin itself. Curiously, the reverse of that image is sort of what one sees in Prince Caspian when the children are journeying to the rescue and they gradually each see more and more of Aslan as they increasingly attend to him – he sort of “seeps” into their recognition gradually.

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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Ch 4g: pp 63-69

Postby liriodendron » 17 Aug 2007, 02:02

Sorry for the long delay since the last section

I should make the same apology; I have had projects due and then a beach vacation.

I don't have much to say about the dreams. In fact I get really impatient at people talking about dream interpretations - probably because my dreams are so mundane. But I can see their advantage as a literary tool.
Do you think the adverage adverage person at that time put a high importance on dreams? I can see why, if they felt the 3 higher level of dreams were comunications from higher beings. Our outlook is so materialistic now. The brain is seen as a computer, and dreams are of interest only as revealing what the computer might be working on behind the scenes.

What is Lewis' definition of allegory?

I don't think of Narnia or the Space Trilogy as allegory, but rather as fiction experimenting on how a Christian worldview might play out more clearly in another situation.

Your other references make me realize how few CS Lewis books I've read.

“Apparently it was to leave room for all this that Cicero wrote the five words quod quidem in terris fiat” leave me wanting to hear more:-) It’s been too long since my four years of Latin in high school to be able to accurately translate anything anymore except “et cetera” and “E pluribus unum”:-), so I can only guess that those mysterious five words mean something like ‘that indeed which is to be on Earth”? (any Latin scholars out there who can correct that?)

I think Lewis translated them himself as "Nothing - nothing anyway that goes on on earth"

The way Macrobius lauches off in his own direction from Cicero's writing reminds me of the way preachers and Christian writers can launch of or some scripture in a random direction and then call their conclusions bibical. I guess that's human nature to see what is important to you in authors that you admire.
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Postby Cet » 22 Jun 2008, 02:48

Not a Latin scholar at all but...

quod quidem in terris fiat


...is something along the lines of "...of all that one does [of all that is done?] on earth."

"Fio," the verb in that sentence, can mean a lot though. It can also mean something like "come into existence" or "happen" too, so you might be able to translate that phrase "...of all that exists on earth" or "of all that happens on earth."

...which is basically what Lewis says right before that, "[of that which] goes on on earth."
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