Lessico iconografico-simbolico – Gallo

Gallo (LS)



Early Christian Sources of Platonic Geometry: Augustine (1)

Ambrose presumably had less need for Latinizers because of his own knowledge of Greek. It was partly this and his enthusiasm for Greek thought, both classical and Christian, and in particular the Platonists whom he regarded as the ‘aristocrats of thought’ that contributed to his standing as one of four Doctors of the Western Church.
In addition to adapting Basil’s Hexaemeron,
he eagerly collected other Greek works, especially those of Origen, from whom he acquired his own understanding of allegory. Ambrose’s contact with the Greek world evidently made his sermons the most progressive in the West and it was into this environment that Augustine (354-430) arrived in 384.

Symmachus, the Prefect of Rome and one of the leading pagans of his day, had recommended Augustine for the post in rhetoric at the court of Milan. On his arrival from Rome, however, Augustine soon fell deeply under the influence of Ambrose and his sermons. In just two turbulent years he had contemplated withdrawing from the world with a band of amateur philosophers; he had been introduced to various Neoplatonic writings in the translations of Victorinus, including probably the Enneads of Plotinus; then
having turned to Simplicianus who particularly impressed him with the earlier conversion of Victorinus, Augustine underwent his own conversion; and, following a breakdown, he penned four Dialogues during his convalescence which marked his arrival as a Christian Platonist thinker, teacher and writer.

It is of crucial importance to this study that his massive output, together with his command of classical and Christian thought and his ability to conduct an argument derived from personal reflection, ensured his place along with Gregory as the foremost authority for the Latin Church in the tenth century and either side of it.
Being comprehensive in span, his writings are concerned not only with purely theological interpretations of scripture and the Christian revelation but with Christian philosophy as well. In this he reveals the Platonic underpinning of his own thought, particularly that related to the universe, harmony and numbers, to the extent that he is credited with transmitting to the medieval Church the best account of Plato’s teaching, thereby securing its acceptance by the Church.
Among the first of the early Dialogues was De ordine. Another Platonic work, De musica,
was started a year later in 387 along with his treatise De quantitate animae. After an interval of ten years his Confessiones,
compiled over a period of four years, also contains an exposition of Platonic metaphysics. This was overlapped by his treatise De Trinitate which was written between 399 and 419. During this time he commenced his greatest undertaking, De civitate Dei,
a work of twenty-two volumes which was perhaps the most widely read of all books early in the middle ages apart from the Bible itself. It was written throughout the years 413 to 427, with what can be considered the Platonic volumes of the work, VIII-XI, coming over two years from 415. Finally, as he was nearing the end of De civitate Dei,
he issued his Retractationes in about 427.

It needs to be borne in mind, however, that since Augustine’s search for truth had already caused him several revisions, the views expressed in this huge collection of writings are neither uniform nor unchanging. For example, De ordine is a treatise dealing with the liberal arts as the path leading to comprehension of the universal order. It shows that their evolution was rational because it was orderly and it concludes with a generous tribute to Pythagoras. This and the predominance accorded the liberal arts were subsequently moderated, though by no means actually retracted, in his Retractiones. De musica, on the other hand, constitutes a six-volume work on rhythm that was meant to be complemented by a further six on melody. The first five serve as an introduction to Book VI which places number and music in a cosmological scheme that is essentially Platonic and reflects material in Timaeus. The work as left by Augustine largely follows a Greek treatise on music written in the second century by Aristides Quintilianus.
However, the Platonic content of De musica and the early Dialogues which it followed was shortly to be put into perspective in Confessiones as being but a preparation, albeit a necessary one, for understanding the Christian mysteries. This was a similar conclusion to Clement’s, yet the importance of Platonism was hardly diminished thereby, for it is abundantly evident from his later De civitate Dei that the discipline of Platonic thought and the basic precepts of its natural philosophy remained indispensable for such an understanding.

However, this did not place Platonists beyond criticism, especially those who found the idea of the Incarnation of the Son of God profoundly distasteful. Augustine recalled Simplicianus recounting how one Platonist had maintained that the quotation, “The Word was in the beginning of all things, and the Word was with God”, should be displayed in gold in every church. This was sufficient, it was argued, and some could not accept the Christian sequel that “The Word was made flesh”. Porphyry in particular was repelled by the suggestion that the Word, as Christ Incarnate, should appear as a body from a woman, bleed on the Cross and become resurrected. This earned Augustine’s dismissal:

But god, the great teacher, became of no account in the eyes of the proud [Porphyry and the Platonists] simply because “the Word became flesh

De civitate Dei X.29

I read there that the Word, God, “was born not of the flesh, but of God”. But, that “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” – I did not read that there that “in due time He died for the ungodly” and “that Thou didst not spare Thine Only-begotten Son, but didst deliver Him up for us all” – that is not there.

Confessiones V.II.9.14

That all gods should be worshipped, as urged by Plato, was also repudiated by Augustine together with the doctrine of metempsychosis. Porphyry was again criticized for upholding both these teachings along with Origen who, as recently as 400, had been criticized at a council in Alexandria for some of his

Despite these differences, it can be seen that the two traditions remained essentially compatible. This was still partly explained by the belief that Plato may have learnt some scripture in Egypt,
a belief based on what was taken to be internal evidence as, for example, when Augustine compares Timaeus with Genesis:

“In the beginning God made heaven and earth. But the earth was invisible and unformed, and there was darkness over the abyss, and the spirit of God soared above the water (Genesis 1.1f)”. Now in the Timaeus, the book in which he writes about the creation of the world, Plato says that God in that work first brought together earth and fire (Timaeus 31B); and it is obvious that for Plato fire takes the place of the sky Plato goes on to say that water and air were the two intermediaries whose interposition effected the junction of those two extremes
(Timaeus 32B). This is supposed to be his interpretation of the biblical statement: “The spirit of God soared above the water”.

De civitate Dei VIII. 11

And when God declared, “I am He who is ” (Exodus 3,14), it was the “truth Plato vigorously maintained and diligently taught”. Augustine’s own exegesis of Plato’s moral philosophy acknowledged that, to Platonists, the highest good was to be found not in the mind or body, but in God, and that goodness, being equated with virtue, is only to be found through knowledge of God.”

[Platonists] acknowledge a God who transcends any kind of soul, being the maker not only of this visible – heaven and earth, in the familiar phrase – but also of every soul whatsoever, a God who gives blessedness to the rational and intelligent soul – the class to which the human soul belongs – by giving it a share in his unchangeable and immaterial light.

De civitate Dei, VIII.1

Platonists assert that the true God is the author of the universe, the source of the light of truth, and the bestower of happiness.

De civitate Dei VIII.5

His synthesis of the two traditions appears as effortless as Clement’s had been.

The philosophy that is true has no other function than to teach what is the First Principle of all things – Itself without beginning, – and how great an intellect dwells therein, and what has proceeded therefrom for our welfare, but without deterioration of any kind. Now, the venerated mysteries teach that this First Principle is one God omnipotent, and that He is tripotent, Father and Son and Holy Spirit.

De ordine II.5.6

In his expositions of the cosmos, the elements, the liberal arts and the understanding of numbers, it may be seen that Augustine again very much continues the teaching of Clement.

But what are the higher things ? Where there is no time, because there is no change, and from where times are made and ordered and changed, initiating eternity as they do when the turn of the heavens comes back to the same state, and the heavenly bodies to the same place, and in days and months and years and centuries and other revolutions of the stars obey
the laws of equality, unity and order. So terrestrial things are subject to celestial, and their time circuits join together in harmonious succession for a poem of the universe.

De musica VI. 11.29

In this is contained the original sense of universe as unus versus,
namely one that is turning.

From him derives every mode of being, every species, every order, all measure, number and weight he has not left them without a harmony of their constituent parts, a kind of peace.

De civitate Dei V.11, paraphrasing Wisdom 11.20

there is nothing which is not brought into being by him, from whom comes all form, all shape, all order …

De civitate Dei XI. 15

However, understanding the orderliness of the creation and what a Christian’s attitude towards it should be was naturally difficult, particularly following the shock of the sack of Rome in 410 which prompted the writing of De civitate Dei. In achieving such an understanding, Augustine evidently differs somewhat from Clement for, whereas Clement excluded the uneducated from the path to knowledge, Augustine seems prepared to include anyone even at the risk of holding back the educated.

If only the weak understanding of the ordinary man did not stubbornly resist the plain evidence of logic and truth! The result is that we are forced very often to give an extended exposition of the obvious …

De civitate Dei II. 1; see also VII. Pref.

In all these branches of study, therefore, all things were being presented to reason as numerically proportioned Then, reason gained much coinage and preconceived a great achievement; it ventured to prove the soul immortal. It treated diligently of all things. It came to feel that it possessed great power, and that it owed all its power to numerical proportions. Something wondrous urged it on. And it began to suspect that it itself was perhaps the very number by which all things are numbered, or if not, that this number was there whither it was striving to arrive But, false images of the things which we number drift away from that most hidden something by which we ennumerate, snatch our attention to themselves, and
frequently make that hidden something slip away even when it has been already in our grasp.

De ordine II. 15.43

If a man does not yield to these images, and if he reduces to simple, true and certain unity all the things that are scattered far and wide throughout so many branches of study, then he is most deserving of the attribute learned. Then, without being rash, he can search after things divine …

De ordine II.16.44

Open though this may be for anyone to attempt, Augustine both warns of the difficulties that lie ahead and at the same time describes the milestones that must be attained in order to succeed:

… no one ought to aspire to a knowledge of those matters without that twofold science, so to speak – the science of right reasoning and that of the power of numbers.

De ordine II.18.47

only a rare class of men is capable of using [reason] as a guide to the knowledge of God or of the soul; either of the soul within us or of the world-soul.

De ordine II.11.30

If you have a care for order you must return to those verses, for instruction in the liberal arts produces devotees more alert and steadfast and better equipped for embracing

De ordine I.8.24

But since all the liberal arts are learned partly for practical use and partly for the knowledge and contemplation of things, to attain the use of them is very difficult except for some very gifted person who even from boyhood has earnestly and constantly applied himself.

De ordine II.16.44

Autore: Nigel Hiscock
The Wise Master Builder. Platonic Geometry in Plans of Medieval Abbeys and Cathedralsl
: Ashgate
Luogo: Aldershot
Anno: 2000
Pagine: 64-69

Il Cielo

«Se, talvolta, in una notte serena, fissando lo sguardo sulla bellezza inesprimibile degli astri, tu hai pensato all’autore dell’universo, domandandoti quale, tra questi fiori, abbia ricamato il firmamento e come, tuttavia, nel mondo sensibile, la bellezza ceda il passo alla necessità e se, ancora, hai considerato durante il giorno con spirito riflessivo le sue meraviglie, tu giungi quale uditore preparato… vieni, dunque!» Prima d’iniziare il lettore ai grandi segreti celati nel libro della creazione, san Basilio (Omelia 33)
comincia col domandargli se egli abbia effettivamente contemplato la natura e più precisamente la cupola celeste. Egli pone, dunque, la contemplazione nell’ordine di un’esperienza antica come l’umanità.

Da millenni, la contemplazione prolungata della volta stellata esercita sullo spirito dell’uomo un fascino che lo rende dimentico di se stesso e del mondo troppo angusto in cui si svolge la sua esistenza terrena. Essa gli consente di sognare da sveglio e fornisce una risposta ai suoi interrogativi più profondi. È proprio meditando davanti al cielo che l’uomo ha cercato e trovato ciò che solo rende ragione della sua esistenza: la rivelazione dell’ordine sacro dell’universo in seno al quale si scorge quell’impercettibile elemento materiale che, per la sua vocazione spirituale, conferisce all’insieme coronamento e fine. Questo sguardo levato verso le stelle trova la sua più toccante dimostrazione – e quasi la risposta data dall’alto – nell’esperienza mistica di san Benedetto mentre vegliava accanto alla finestra, assorto nella contemplazione del firmamento; esperienza che i grandi dottori, escludendo la morte, indicano tra le più alte che l’uomo possa compiere quaggiù. San Gregorio Magno ce l’ha riportata nel secondo libro dei suoi Dialoghi: «Mentre i confratelli dormivano ancora, Benedetto, l’uomo di Dio, anticipava vegliando l’ora della preghiera notturna: in piedi, alla finestra, invocava l’Onnipotente. Improvvisamente, nel pieno della notte, gli occhi rivolti al cielo, vide diffondersi dall’alto una luce così splendente che le tenebre furono dissipate e laddove era notte la luce rifulse più chiara del giorno. Questa visione fu subito seguita da uno spettacolo veramente prodigioso poiché, come egli stesso raccontò più tardi, ai suoi occhi si presentò il mondo intero quasi raccolto su un solo raggio di sole». Dante (1265-1321), stigmatizzando l’attitudine di coloro che ignorano il simbolo più bello che il Creatore abbia dato agli uomini per parlare loro di Dio, non esiterà a denunciarla come autentico peccato: «Chiamavi ‘l’ cielo e ‘ntorno vi si gira, mostrandovi le sue bellezze eterne, e l’occhio vostro pure a terra mira; onde vi batte Chi tutto discerne».

Per noi spiriti moderni, più abituati ad aguzzare gli occhi per vedere il bordo dei marciapiedi che per contemplare il firmamento nella profondità della notte, simile affermazione non è così facilmente comprensibile. Possiamo registrarla come un fatto storico, non la sottoscriviamo come una verità sperimentata e familiare; rari sono, oggi, coloro che abbiano ricevuto una folgorazione decisiva dall’osservazione diretta del cielo.

Sicuramente, l’osservazione del cielo risulta più facile in certi climi, favorita da alcune culture ed è più propria di certe mentalità naturalmente contemplative. Comunque, lungi dall’essere appannaggio di popoli privilegiati, la storia delle civiltà ci insegna che essa risponde ad un bisogno innato nell’uomo. La trasparente luminosità delle notti d’Oriente non spiega la visione di Giacobbe più di quanto la mitologia astrale del bacino mediterraneo non renda ragione delle famose parole di santo Stefano, primo martire, nel momento in cui gli si spalancarono le porte della vita eterna: «Io vedo i cieli aperti». Non è senza motivo che la prima riga della Bibbia ponga come dato fondamentale della geografia umana la dualità dialettica cielo-terra e non è senza motivo che l’Apocalisse, per concludere la Rivelazione e la storia, culmini in una grandiosa visione celeste. Terra, cielo: punto di partenza, punto d’arrivo, e tra i due, l’avventura umana. Il simbolismo del cielo è universale quanto il Libro sacro.

Sembrerebbe che la prima azione da compiere sia quella di alzare gli occhi e di guardare. Tuttavia, ci avverte san Basilio, «conviene che colui che si pone alla ricerca dei grandi e magnifici spettacoli della creazione nutra qualche desiderio di contemplare gli oggetti che gli si propongono». Quale desiderio? Quali oggetti?

E a questo punto che bisogna cercare di disfarci delle nostre abitudini di occidentali moderni per cui tale osservazione non si concepisce senza riferimento ad una scienza più o meno utilitaristica. La preoccupazione di san Basilio era d’altro ordine. Egli richiama il desiderio di una vera contemplazione sacra e la necessità che essa abbia come oggetto i fenomeni cosmici non tanto in se stessi, ma in quanto rappresentano i segni sensibili e i simboli dell’ordine che presiede all’opera della creazione.

Ora, secondo san Tommaso d’Aquino «ogni uomo capace di percepire l’ordine della natura attraverso la contemplazione dei corpi celesti, dà prova di un’intelligenza superiore a quella di altri, la cui perfetta conoscenza dipende dall’osservazione dei corpi terreni» (III C.G. 80). Siamo dunque sulla buona strada, ma possiamo legittimamente domandarci il perché di questo.

Agli occhi di tutta l’antichità, gli astri partecipano le qualità di trascendenza e di esemplarità caratteristiche del cielo stesso. Persino la loro natura è diversa da quella dei corpi terrestri. In pieno XIII secolo, san Tommaso d’Aquino spiega che il cielo è una sorta di quinto elemento e che la luce emanata dagli astri non è un corpo, ciò che in perfetto tomismo si enuncia: lux non est corpus! (I 76, 7, c). Egli si colloca, dunque, sulla linea dei grandi maestri del pensiero occidentale ed in primo luogo di Aristotele che così si esprimeva: «Dal momento che il corpo celeste ha un movimento naturale suo proprio (quello circolare), diverso da quello dei quattro elementi (acqua, aria, terra, fuoco), ne consegue che la sua natura è necessariamente diversa da quella dei quattro elementi». Consideriamo questo quinto elemento celeste e il movimento circolare che costituisce la sua trascendente originalità: sono due caratteristiche che ritroveremo presso quasi tutte le epoche e tutte le civiltà.

Il mondo, i suoi quattro elementi, il firmamento e Dio; Cosmografia Universale, 1559

Il suo maestro Platone – così come i predecessori di entrambi – si era già lasciato colpire dal fenomeno che li sconcertava tutti: la perennità del mondo degli astri, imperturbabili, sempre uguali a se stessi, senza segni di sfaldamento, di disgregazione o di rigenerazione. «In effetti per tutto il passato, in accordo con la tradizione trasmessa d’epoca in epoca, non si è mai constatato alcun mutamento né nell’insieme del cielo, né in alcuna delle sue parti». (Aristotele, De coelo,
I, 3). Insolubile mistero agli occhi di un fisico che poneva quale postulato incontestabile il principio che tutti i corpi, in quanto composti dai quattro elementi, sono necessariamente corruttibili. E Platone spiega che la ragione di ciò va attribuita non già a qualche proprietà inerente alla materia di cui sono fatti gli astri, ma alla volontà del Dio creatore dell’universo che dice loro: «per vostra natura siete corruttibili ma per la mia volontà siete incorruttibili, poiché la mia volontà è più forte della vostra» (cfr. Tommaso d’Aquino, Summa Theologica,
la 66, 2, c).

È interessante considerare come questa fisica che si ritiene – ed a suo modo è – scientifica per l’onestà e il rigore dei suoi metodi, sia tuttavia intrisa di contemplazione naturale e risulti carica dei valori sacri cui essa stessa ha attinto. Sant’Agostino stesso, che polemizza continuamente con tutti gli astrologhi, maghi o seguaci di culti pagani tributati alla natura e soprattutto con gli adoratori dei pianeti, confessa le sue esitazioni: «Troni, Dominazioni, Principati, Potenze, che differenza corre? Per me, io confesso d’ignorarla. E non sono neppure sicuro se si debba considerare in questa società celeste anche il sole, la luna e gli altri astri, dal momento che alcuni li osservano come corpi luminosi privi di sensibilità e dì intelligenza» (De fide, spe et charitate,
c. 58). Da qui, inevitabilmente si pone il problema dell’assimilazione degli angeli e degli astri. Sant’Agostino come i suoi predecessori – e come i suoi successori: si pensi allo Pseudo Dionigi – lo affronta di frequente senza per altro riuscire a definire la parte esatta del simbolismo che ha potuto annettervi, come abbiamo già visto. Secondo il vescovo d’Ippona, gli angeli sono ancora i «cieli dei cieli» di cui parlano i salmi; sono «la corte del re del cielo» e, tra gli altri, si pone il problema di sapere se il loro numero sia uguale a quello degli astri. E ancora, si sa che gli angeli agiscono misteriosamente negli effetti della creazione della materia; sono essi che fanno ruotare l’immensa calotta del firmamento.

Gli angeli muovono il primo cielo con una manovella
Manoscritto provenzale del XIV secolo, Londra, British Museum

Non bisognerà dimenticare tutto ciò quando scopriremo la ricchezza dei segni stellari o astrali di cui sono costellate le opere romaniche, quando cercheremo quali furono i simboli privilegiati che gli artisti romanici utilizzarono per materializzare nella pietra la propria concezione sacra del mondo.

Se gli uomini del XII secolo continuarono a nutrirsi di quella cultura, a utilizzare quella fisica, significa che ne avevano percepito le possibilità d’espressione a tutti i livelli dell’esperienza umana e significa soprattutto che restarono sensibili al linguaggio della natura e ai suoi simbolismi. In questo, essi si ponevano accanto ai popoli primitivi mentre noi ci troviamo agli antipodi, insieme ai moderni. Gli studi recenti di storia delle religioni accentuano le intuizioni acute di quei popoli: «La semplice contemplazione della volta celeste genera da sé, nella coscienza primitiva, un’esperienza religiosa… Tale contemplazione equivale ad una rivelazione. Il cielo si mostra qual è in realtà: infinito, trascendente. La volta celeste è per eccellenza tutt’altra cosa dal piccolo che rappresenta l’uomo e il suo spazio vitale. Il simbolismo della sua trascendenza si deduce semplicemente dalla presa di coscienza della sua infinita altezza. L’altissimo diventa ovviamente un attributo della divinità. Le regioni superiori inaccessibili all’uomo, le zone siderali, acquistano la prerogativa divina del trascendente, della realtà assoluta, della perennità… Tutto ciò si deduce già solo dalla contemplazione del cielo, ma sarebbe un grave errore considerare una tale deduzione come un’operazione logica e razionale. La categoria trascendente dell’altezza, dell’ultra-terreno, dell’infinito si rivela all’uomo tutto, alla sua intelligenza come al suo animo. Il simbolismo è un dato immediato della coscienza globale cioè dell’uomo che si riscopre come tale, dell’uomo che prende coscienza della sua posizione nell’universo; tali primordiali scoperte sono legate così organicamente all’intimo dramma dell’uomo che lo stesso simbolismo esprime contemporaneamente l’attività del subconscio e le più nobili espressioni della vita-spirituale. Giova insistere su questa distinzione tenendo presente che se il simbolismo e i valori religiosi del cielo non sono dedotti in modo logico dall’osservazione calma e obiettiva della volta celeste, non sono neppure tuttavia il prodotto esclusivo dell’affabulazione mistica e di esperienze irrazionali religiose.

Ripetiamo: prima di ogni valorizzazione religiosa del cielo, quest’ultimo rivela la sua trascendenza. Il cielo simbolizza la trascendenza, la forza, l’immutabilità con la sua semplice esistenza. Esiste perché è alto, infinito, immutabile, potente (Eliade, Trattato di storia delle Religioni). Concetto che ventitré secoli prima Aristotele riassumeva meravigliosamente in una semplice frase: «Tutti gli uomini si fanno una nozione degli dei e tutti quanti sono, Greci o Barbari, che credono alla loro esistenza, si accordano a collocare la divinità nella regione più alta, destinando, così, all’immortale ciò che è immortale e considerando inammissibile ogni altra possibilità». (Aristotele, De coelo,
3). Quest’ultime parole sono dense di significato; caratterizzano cioè una cultura e noi stessi nel momento in cui ci apprestiamo ad iniziare la nostra osservazione dei fenomeni celesti.

Autore: Gerard de Champeaux; dom Sebastien Sterckx
I simboli del medioevo
: Jaca Book
Luogo: Milano
Anno: 1988
Pagine: 13-17

Early Christian Sources of Platonic Geometry: Basil and Gregory

Basil (c.329-79) read philosophy and rhetoric in the young capital of the Eastern Empire, Constantinople, before continuing his studies in Athens with, among others, Julian, the apostate emperor of the Byzantines. It was only later in life, in 364, that he was ordained priest and only seven years before his premature demise that he was consecrated metropolitan of his native Caesarea, whereupon he made his younger brother Gregory (c.335-c.95) bishop of Nyssa. Before his ordination, Basil had spent some time as a hermit studying Origen and when Gregory stayed at his brother’s cell he too studied ‘his master Origen’ along with everything Basil had learned in Athens. On Basil’s death, Gregory came into his own as a churchman and teacher to the extent that he became known as the ‘Father of Fathers’. In 381 he was summoned by the Emperor Theodosius to the Second Oecumenical Council in Constantinople, as a result of which he was recognized as a principal interpreter of the emergent orthodoxy of the Eastern Church.

Of chief interest to this study is Basil’s Hexaemeron, a series of sermons on the 6 days of Creation delivered morning and evening during Lent to a congregation of workmen. As he acknowledges,

I know that many artisans, belonging to the mechanical trades, are crowding around me. A day’s labour hardly suffices to maintain them; therefore I am compelled to abridge my discourse, so as not to keep them too long from their work.

Hexaemeron III.1

Although the sermons are systematically arranged, the final homily which should have described the creation of man seems to end prematurely and was supplemented by Gregory’s treatise De hominis opificio. Such was the importance of Hexaemeron that its teaching quickly spread to the West.
Ambrose produced an adaptation of it which was soon translated into Latin by Eustathius in about 440 and, whether or not this was the work of Basil’s already noted on Alcuin’s shelves at York, a vernacular abbreviation of Hexaemeron was produced in Anglo-Saxon in 969 by Aelfric. As has been remarked elsewhere, the circulation of shortened versions of texts can usually be taken as evidence that such texts had become standard reading. In addition to manuscripts of several of Gregory’s writings surviving from the tenth century onwards, including no less than three of De hominis opificio from the tenth century itself, this same work had already been translated into Latin by John Scotus in the previous century.

At first sight Basil appears largely to repudiate classical philosophy as he recounts how one theory about the origin of the universe became supplanted by another.

Those who have written about the nature of the universe have discussed at length the shape of the earth … all these conjectures have been suggested by cosmographers, each one upsetting that of his predecessor. It will not lead me to give less importance to the creation of the universe, that the servant of God, Moses, is silent as to shapes … Shall I then prefer foolish wisdom to the oracles of the Holy Spirit? … It is this which those seem to me not to have understood, who, giving themselves up to the distorted meaning of allegory, have undertaken to give a majesty of their own invention to Scripture …

Some have said that heaven is composed of four elements … Others have rejected this system as improbable, and introduced into the world, to form the heavens, a fifth element after their own fashioning. There exists, they say, an aethereal body which is neither fire, air, earth, nor water, nor in one word any simple body … But yet another speaker arises and disperses and destroys this theory to give predominance to an idea of his own invention. Do not let us undertake to follow them for fear of falling into like frivolities; let them refute each other, and, without disquieting ourselves about essence, let us say with Moses ‘God created the heaven and the earth’. Let us glorify the supreme Artificer for all that was wisely and skillfully made … Because … the objects which on all sides attract our notice are so marvellous, that the most penetrating mind cannot attain to the knowledge of the least of the phenomenon of this world.

Hexaemeron IX.1, I.11

Basil seems intent here on keeping the minds of his workaday congregation upon simple devotion. He lived, after all, at the time of violent religious disputes such as those caused by Julian’s apostacy and Valens’s Arianism, and
both needed to be answered by an insistence on orthodoxy, particularly concerning the Holy Trinity, rather than by raking over old arguments about classical cosmogony. In fact, it was Basil himself who has been credited with precipitating the end of the Arian dispute, to be ratified soon after his death at the Council of 381 in the presence of his brother. Given the determination to hold the line on orthodoxy which this indicates, Basil is hardly likely to have encouraged cosmological speculation from his own pulpit, especially since he considered such matters to be above the heads of his artisan audience. Certainly the tradition of teaching he inherited from Clement and Origen of knowledge being reserved for the educated, leaving faith to the uneducated, would seem to support this. Indeed, it will be shown that the early Church actually developed its liturgy in a way that protected its innermost secrets from the uninitiated.

Ambiguity in this passage over the fifth essence being ether still seems unabated for, although Basil appears to dismiss it here, when dealing elsewhere with God’s command, ‘Let there be light’, he refers to it as a matter of course.

Up it sprang to the very aether and heaven. In an instant it lighted up the whole extent of the world … For the aether also is such a subtle substance and so transparent that it needs not the space of a moment for light to pass through it … With light the aether becomes more pleasing …

Hexaemeron III. 3

Here it is surely the fifth essence, being distinct from the elements and yet associated with heaven. Later in the same homily, the implication again must surely be that ether is the substance surrounding the 7 planets which therefore fills the universe.

These circles, they say, carried away in a direction contrary to that of the world, and striking the aether, make sweet and harmonious sounds, unequalled by the sweetest melody …

Hexaemeron III.3

That such matters may sometimes be implied is clear from his treatment of the elements:

… ‘In the beginning God made heaven and earth.’ … Thus, although there is no mention of the elements, fire, water and air, imagine that they were all compounds together, and you will find water, air and fire, in the earth … Do not ask, then, for an enumeration of all the elements; guess, from what Holy Scripture indicates, all that is passed over in silence.

Hexaemeron 1.7

The underlying view here seems clearly to be Platonic as well as Christian, as it is when Basil deals with the divine order and the sensible and intelligible worlds.

… ‘In the beginning God created.’ What a glorious order!

It appears, indeed, that even before this world an order of things existed of which our mind can form an idea, but of which we can say nothing, because it is too lofty a subject for men who are but beginners and are still babies in knowledge. . . . The Creator and the Demiurge of the universe perfected His works in it, spiritual light for the happiness of all who love the Lord, intellectual and invisible natures, all the orderly arrangement of pure intelligences who are beyond the reach of our mind and of whom we cannot even discover the names.

Hexaemeron I.2, 5

You will finally discover that the world … is really the school where reasonable souls exercise themselves, the training ground where they learn to know God; since by the sight of visible and sensible things the mind is led, as by a hand, to the contemplation of invisible things.

Hexaemeron I.6

This anagogical doctrine of the path that leads from the sensible to the intelligible, or from the material to the spiritual, was not only a logical corollary of Plato’s world of Forms but, of importance to this study, it also justified religious art and architecture, as Suger was to write in explaining the design of his abbey of St Denis in the twelfth century.

Gregory’s completion of his brother’s Hexaemeron seems similarly Platonic.

Now all is beautiful and good that is closely related to the First Good … If, then, … that which is truly good is one, and the mind itself also has its power of being beautiful and good, in so far as it is in the image of the good and beautiful, and the nature, which is sustained by the mind, has the like power, in so far as it is an image of the image, it is hereby shown that our material part holds together, and is upheld when it is controlled by nature; and on the other hand is dissolved and disorganized when it is separated from that which upholds and sustains it, and is dissevered from its conjunction with beauty and goodness.

De hominis opificio XII.11

Although, like his brother, Gregory sometimes appears to refute a conventional Platonic doctrine, it reappears later albeit in slightly altered
guise. For example, in referring to humans as a microcosm of the universe, he

… how unworthy of the majesty of man are the fancies of some heathen writers, who magnify humanity as they supposed, by their comparison of it with this world! for they say that man is a little world, composed of the same elements with the universe.

De hominis opificio XVI.1

Yet when he answers:

In what then does the greatness of man consist, according to the doctrine of the Church? Not in his likeness to the created world, but in his being in the image of the nature of the Creator.

De hominis opificio XVI.2

surely he is simply equating Creator and created with Origen’s own distinction between the intelligible and sensible worlds. His description of rational man certainly appears purely Platonic:

Now since man is a rational animal, the instrument of his body must be made suitable for the use of reason …

De hominis opificio VIII.8; cf. Plato, Timaeus 44D

Likewise, in another treatise, Plato’s world of Forms lies just beneath the surface as Gregory celebrates the liberal arts as the path to virtue. A virtuous man is one who,

… has been led to the apprehension of a Master of the creation; he has taken the true Wisdom for his teacher, that Wisdom which the spectacle of the Universe suggests; and when he observed the beauty of this material sunlight he had grasped by analogy the beauty of the real sunlight….

Has a man who looks at such spectacles procured for himself only a slight power for the enjoyment of those delights beyond? Not to speak of the studies which sharpen the mind towards moral excellence, geometry, I mean, and astronomy, and the knowledge of the truth that the science of numbers gives, and every method that furnishes a proof of the unknown and a conviction of the known, and, before all these, the philosophy contained in the inspired Writings, which affords a complete purification to those who educate themselves thereby in the mysteries of God.

De infantibus praemature abreptis 377-8

Once again it may be seen that the doctrines of Plato and Clement are conveyed in the importance given by Gregory to education and purification as preparations for the ‘apprehension of a Master of the creation’ and ‘the spectacle of the Universe’. Part of this apprehension is to be gained in the understanding of numbers:

… number is nothing else than a combination of units growing into a multitude in a complete way … accordingly, in order that we may be taught by Holy Scripture that nothing is unknown to God, it tells us that the multitude of the stars is numbered by Him, not that their numbering takes place as I have described, [for who is so simple as to think that God takes knowledge of things by odd and even, and that by putting units together He makes up the total of the collective quantity?] … For to measure quantity by number is the part of those who want information. But He who knew all things before they were created needs not number as His informant. But when David says that He ‘numbers the stars’, it is evident that the Scripture descends to such language in accordance with our understanding, to teach us emblematically that the things which we know not are accurately known to God.

Contra Eunomium librum II 293

Autore: Nigel Hiscock
The Wise Master Builder. Platonic Geometry in Plans of Medieval Abbeys and Cathedralsl
: Ashgate
Luogo: Aldershot
Anno: 2000
Pagine: 56-61

Early Christian Sources of Platonic Geometry: Clement of Alexandria (2) and other Greek Fathers

Therefore just as the equation of the law with perfection appears safe so, it seems, can references to law and perfection be equated with 10.

It may also be seen that the meaning of number was as integral to Clement’s universal view as it had been to those of Pythagoras and Plato, the sole distinction between them being that he acknowledged his authority to be biblical as well as Platonic.

They say, then, that the character representing 300 is, as to shape, the type of the Lord’s sign.. Now the number 300 is 3 by 100. Ten is allowed to be the perfect number…

‘The days of men shall be,’ it is said, ‘120 years’ (Genesis 6.3). And the sum is made up of the numbers from 1 to 15 added together.

Stromateis VI. 11

Numbers were not endowed with specific significance arbitrarily. For example, because the Greek letter T served as the numeral for 300 and resembled a cross, 300 became regarded as the Lord’s sign. Yet numbers were also held to be expressions of the divine order because of the order to be found within them. If the tetrad was given importance partly because the sum of the first 4 numbers is 10, then 120 was important partly because it is the sum of the first 15 numbers. Moreover, Clement continues:

On another principle, 120 is a triangular number, and consists of the equality of the number 64, [which consists of eight of the odd numbers beginning with unity], the addition of which in succession generates squares; and of the inequality of the number 56, consisting of seven of the even numbers beginning with 2, which produce the numbers that are not squares.

Stromateis VI. 11

In other words,

64 + 56 = (8 x 8) + (7 x 8) = 120

64 is composed thus:

1 + 3 = 4, + 5 = 9, + 7 = 16, + 9 = 25, + 11 = 36, + 13 = 49, + 15 = 64

where each sum is a square number which, when added to the next odd number in the series, produces the next square number in the series. As for the series of the first 7 even numbers adding up to 56, each sum, whilst being even, is not square.

2 + 4 + 6 + 8 +10+ 12+ 14 = 56

2 + 4 = 6; 4 + 6 = 10; 6 + 8 = 14; 8 + 10 = 18; 10 + 12 = 22

Following this, Clement continues:

Again, according to another way of indicating, the number 120 consists of four numbers – of one triangular, 15; of another, a square, 25; of a third, a pentagon, 35; and of a fourth, a hexagon, 45. The 5 is taken according to the same ratio in each mode. For in triangular numbers, from the unity 5 comes 15; and in squares, 25; and of those in succession proportionally.

Stromateis VI. 11

It can be seen that in this apparently numerical analysis, geometry is clearly implicit. In addition to the importance given to numbers when they relate rationally to each other, the relationship is perceived and expressed in geometric terms, with the concept of figurate numbers standing for square, triangular and polygonal arrangements of numbers, originally in the form of pebble figures. This, together with the inherent order to be found in numbers themselves was to be treated by the Latin encyclopedists and Augustine.

Clement’s successor at the Didascaleon was his former pupil Origen (c.185-c.254) who went on to study philosophy under Ammonius Saccas. He in turn had abandoned an earlier conversion to Christianity and was a Neoplatonist.
One result of Origen’s varied education was a certain flexibility in calling upon the authority of Plato, not invariably, but when it supported his own theological speculations. In a huge output of literature, these were largely a development of Clement’s and organized into his famous treatise, De principiis, which enjoyed particular influence in both the West and the East. Before they caught the attention of Ambrose and others in Italy, Origen’s ideas had spread to Cappadocia reaching the generation of Basil the Great and his brother Gregory of Nyssa and, although some of his ideas were soon to be condemned, his main thesis remained intact.
Ammonius Saccas also taught Platonic philosophy in Alexandria to the Greek Egyptian Plotinus (c.205-70) whose principal contribution lies in incorporating Plato’s thought with Aristotle’s methods and in bringing to this his own theories concerning progressive planes of spiritual existence. As the doctrine of emanation, this was to have a profound effect on mystical thinkers, setting him among the greatest of the Neoplatonists. Care, it should be said, needs to be taken in the understanding of Neoplatonism as a term, since it is comprehensive rather than specific, referring to various individual developments of Platonic thought, some of which are more Christian than Platonic, or more theological than philosophical, or more mystical than intellectual, or vice versa. Despite such distinctions, however, Neoplatonists at the time called themselves Platonists. As for Plotinus, his importance for this study is that in 244 he moved to Rome, where he taught and eventually died, and it was in Italy that Augustine may well have read his essay On Beauty from his Enneads (I, VI).

Autore: Nigel Hiscock
The Wise Master Builder. Platonic Geometry in Plans of Medieval Abbeys and Cathedralsl
: Ashgate
Luogo: Aldershot
Anno: 2000
Pagine: 54-56

Le cosmos symbolique du XII siècle (2)

L’on ignore à quel moment de son existence Honorius découvrit un manuscrit du « Periphiseon ». Des traces des doctrines de Jean Scot se retrouvent dans plusieurs de ses œuvres, mais leur chronologie est assez incertaine. Il en fit une sorte de Defloratio, découpant de larges extraits au fil des cinq livres du massif monument de l’Irlandais, sans tenter du reste d’améliorer le plan. Mais, s’il respecte le plus souvent le texte de son auteur, il lui arrive aussi de l’abréger, de modifier certains termes, et parfois d’ajouter une explication ou un commentaire de son cru, qui n’est pas sans conséquence sur l’ensemble du développement. Nous ne pouvons affirmer que les manchettes ou titres marginaux qui guident si utilement le lecteur de la Clauis à travers les méandres des démonstrations érigéniennes soient dues à Honorius lui-même, mais cela nous paraît conforme à son tempérament de professeur. Ces « manchettes » différent de celles qu’a relevées D. M. Cappuyns dans les manuscrits de la troisième rédaction du De Diuisione Naturae, et elles nous semblent mieux adaptées au vocabulaire et à la culture du XIIe siècle. La préface qu’Honorius a placée en tête de sa compilation, si elle ne nous apprend malheureusement rien sur les circonstances de la rédaction de l’ouvrage, en indique du moins les motifs. Honorius a fort bien compris l’importance et la signification de la Somme de Jean Scot, et le titre même qu’il a choisi montre qu’il en a saisi le sens profond.

Ce petit livre est appelé Clé de la Nature, parce que l’on y trouvera dévoilés une grande partie de ses secrets. Ce qui peut y paraître faux aux esprits peu exercés s’appuie, en réalité, sur l’autorité sainte et la juste démarche de l’intelligence, déclare sans hésitation l’abréviateur, qui énumère ensuite les «autorités», en spécifiant qu’elles sont irrécusables. Dans l’ordre des trois langues de l’inscription de la Croix du Seigneur, nous trouvons, pour les Hébreux, le Seigneur lui-même, « auctor » des deux Testaments, avec ses prophètes et ses apôtres ; chez les Grecs, les grands théologiens, Denys l’Aréopagite, Grégoire de Nazianze, Grégoire de Nysse et Basile son frère, Jean Chrysostome, et le moine Maxime, évêque et philosophe éminent ; chez les Latins, Hilaire de Poitiers, Ambroise de Milan, Augustin et Jérôme.

Comment Honorius se représentait-il le savant auteur capable d’alléguer une si belle séquence de textes? En tout cas, l’artiste du scriptorium où a été exécuté le manuscrit lat. 6734 a esquissé son portrait. Il figure vis-à-vis de son interlocuteur fictif, vénérable personnage au front sillonné de rides, insigne de la grauitas, alors que le chef de Johannes s’orne d’une chevelure savamment bouclée. Assis sous deux arcatures, ils discutent, l’index levé, mais le disciple est, comme il convient, placé plus bas que le maître, qui a droit à quatre gradins. De leur main restée libre, ils entrecroisent des banderoles : « Dogmatis is lumen pandit per mentis acumen » signale le phylactère du premier. « Inuolucrum rerum petit is fieri clarum », indique la seconde inscription.

Inuolucrum rerum… La Clauis est bien, en effet, une explication de ce monde mystérieux et changeant des apparences sensibles à la lumière de la contemplation des plus hautes vérités qui révèlent l’ordre divin du Cosmos. La Nature dont il est ici question comprend, harmonieusement liées, les choses qui sont et les choses qui ne sont pas, c’est-à-dire l’univers visible et l’univers archétype. Pour pénétrer le mystère de cette harmonie, l’auteur du Periphiseon s’était mis, comme le dit Honorius, à l’école non seulement d’Augustin, docteur par excellence de l’Église d’Occident, mais des Pères grecs, dont l’acumen mentis lui paraissait plus pénétrant. Cet appel à la sagesse hellénique est précisé par le titre qui surmonte la figure
: « Disputatio abbatis Theodori, genere greci, arte philosophi, cum Iohanne, uiro eruditissimo, Romane ecclesie archidiacono, genere Scotho ».

Comme l’a justement remarqué Endres il faut chercher l’origine de cette étrange assimilation dans une autre œuvre d’Honorius, déjà citée, le De Luminaribus Ecclesiae, où la notice suivante est consacrée à Jean Scot : Ioannes Scotus uel Chrysostomus, in Scripturis insigniter eruditus, scripsit eleganti stylo librum περὶ φύσεων, id est, De Natura omnium rerum. Cette notice a été insérée par Honorius dans le l. III, extrait en majeure partie d’Isidore, et suit de peu le capitulum dédié à saint Jean Chrysostome lui-même. Le «solitaire» ne semble donc pas avoir été très fixé sur la personnalité et la chronologie de l’auteur du Periphiseon, et ceci peut aider à comprendre la fantaisie du titre inscrit en tête du ms. lat. 6734, en admettant qu’il ait eu quelque part à sa rédaction.

Le nom de Théodore, et les épithètes qui l’accompagnent nous invitent à supposer que le souvenir de l’Église de Cantorbéry, et la lecture de l’Histoire ecclésiastique de Bède ont incité l’illustrateur de la Clauis à personnifier le Magister. Il est vrai que le savant Théodore de Tarse était simple moine, et non abbé lorsqu’il débarqua en Grande-Bretagne et devint archevêque, mais c’est un détail de peu d’importance en regard du fait essentiel pour le point qui nous intéresse. Cet organisateur modèle de la hiérarchie dans les royaumes anglo-saxons était aussi le représentant de la culture et de la tradition grecque dans l’Occident barbare : « Graeco-Latinus ante philosophus, Athenis eruditus » selon les termes de l’éloge du pape Zacharie ; « uir et saeculari et diuina literatura et Graece instructus et Latine », dit Bède. Ajoutons qu’Aldhelm le représente entouré d’élèves irlandais à l’école de Cantorbéry qu’il avait fondée.

Le qualificatif accolé à Johannes provient-il d’une interprétation erronée du texte de Bède? Il est question, dans le l. IV d’un certain Jean, archichantre de Saint-Pierre de Rome que le pape Agathon députa en Angleterre vers 680, à la demande de Benoît Biscop. L’incertitude où certains écrivains du XIIe siècle semblent avoir été au sujet de la véritable biographie de l’auteur du Periphiseon laisse entrevoir la possibilité de confusions chronologiques. Mais nous nous plaisons à croire que l’association de ces deux noms a surtout une valeur de symbole, et qu’en évoquant la mémoire vénérée de Théodore, le dessinateur a voulu incarner l’autorité reconnue à l’Orientale Lumen

Autore: Marie-Thérèse D’Alverny
Periodico: Archives d’Histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Age
: 1952
Numero: 28
Pagine: 33-38
Vedi anche: Le cosmos symbolique du XII siècle (1)

Il microcosmo e il macrolibro (5)

In quanto figuranti le creature del mondo, per la loro connessione con le parole del testo, e per il modo come l’artefice le aveva rappresentate relativamente a tale connessione, delle creature, di tutte le creature, le immagini sensibilizzavano il significato soprasensibile. Non diversamente, del resto, si costituivano come esposizioni di una significanza soprasensibile i programmi sculturali nelle facciate e nei fianchi delle chiese (comprese le immagini teriomorfiche di cui si indignò Bernardo da Chiaravalle), o i cicli pittorici che nell’interno vi erano dipinti a fresco nelle pareti e poi, sopravvenuta l’architettura gotica, erano proiettati dalle vetrate dei finestroni. E basterà in proposito nominare l’esauriente esegesi che il Katzenellenbogen prima, o più di recente la Levis-Godechot, hanno compiuta su quei programmi figurali della cattedrale di Chartres che, probabilmente, nel mentre quel fabbricato si ricostruiva dopo l’incendio del 1134, furono veduti, almeno in corso di lavorazione, dal nostro Alano di Lilla: del quale sappiamo i contatti con la Scuola Episcopale, appunto, di Chartres, centro importante, nel dodicesimo secolo, della filosofia di indirizzo platonico.

Dal microcosmo della pagina alluminata (liber et pictura) a quello che possiamo chiamare il grande libro del cosmo, il mondo come la baudeleriana “forèt de symboles” a cui indiretto riferimento fa Eco (e per lui Guglielmo di Baskerville) nel Nome della Rosa, passando per l’altro microcosmo della cattedrale come speculum mundi, che Franco Cardini ha esaminato sotto tutti gli aspetti in uno tra i più suggestivi suoi Minima medievalia (Firenze, 1987). E diremo allora, sempre pensando alla quartina iniziale di Omnis mundi creatura, il mondo come il macrolibro, se così possiamo dire, che nell’Abbazia dei Canonici Regolari di San Vittore presso Parigi, esplicitamente teorizzò il mistico Ugo (al secolo, forse, Ermanno dei conti di Blanckenburg), filosofo vissuto nella prima metà secolo decimosecondo e non ignoto a Dante, che insieme a Illuminato e Agostino, seguaci di San Francesco, lo colloca nell’alta famiglia di cui, nel cielo del Sole, gli fa l’elenco San Bonaventura.

“Tutto questo mondo sensibile è infatti come un libro scritto dalle mani di Dio, cioè creato dalla potenza divina, e le singole creature sono come figure, non inventate dall’arbitrio dell’uomo, ma istituite dalla volontà di Dio per manifestare e indicare la sua invisibile sapienza”. È un passo, questo di Ugo da San Vittore, conosciutissimo da chiunque, in un modo o nell’altro, col pensiero del Medioevo abbia avuto a che fare. Vi salta subito agli occhi, come suol dirsi, la rispondenza al concetto ispiratore di Omnis mundi creatura, la cui redazione è forse posteriore di qualche decennio. E chi oggi lo legga per la prima volta non mancherà di ricordare la pagina del Nome della Rosa in cui il buon Adso racconta quando, tormentato dai rimorsi che certe volte si tramutano in nostalgie, dalle nostalgie che generano rimorsi, s’arrovellò ad almanaccare su come la cagione di quel suo conflitto interiore, “quella povera, lercia, impudente creatura”, col piacere intenso, peccaminoso e passeggero (cosa vile) che gli aveva dato il congiungersi a lei”, potesse accordarsi al grande disegno teofanico che regge l’universo, secondo il pensiero di Ugo che gli torna in mente quasi alla lettera, perfettamente saldato alla sentenza di Alano. “Era, ora cerco di capire, come se tutto l’universo mondo, che chiaramente è quasi un libro scritto dal dito di Dio, in cui ogni cosa ci parla dell’immensa bontà del suo creatore, in cui ogni creatura è quasi scrittura e specchio della vita e della morte, in cui la più umile rosa si fa glossa del nostro cammino terreno, tutto insomma di altro non mi parlasse se non del volto che avevo a mala pena intravisto… “.

Quello però che in questo momento ci interessa in modo particolare è l’avverbio “enim” (“infatti”), con cui Ugo della definizione del mondo come un libro significante in modo visibile la sapienza invisibile di Dio, fa una sorta di glossa esplicativa a due citazioni bibliche riguardanti la bellezza del creato: il salmo 103 (“Quam magnificata sunt opera tua, Domine ! Omnia in sapientia fecisti”) e il salmo 91, che abbiamo sentito citare dalla Matelda di Dante, personaggio che il Pascoli interpretò come simbolo della concezione tomistica dell’arte, abito operativo e virtù intellettuale al medesimo tempo:
Delectasti me Domine in factura tua, et in operibus manuum tuarum exsultabo. Quam magnificata sunt opera tua, Domine! nimis profundae factae sunt cogitationes tuae. Vir insipiens non cognoscet, et stultus non intelligit haec”. E va rilevato a questo punto come le due citazioni dai Salmi la bellezza del creato la dichiarino manifestazione della sapienza del Creatore, espressione di suoi profondi pensieri.

Appoggiandosi all’autorità del Salmista, il nostro Ugo riprende qui un tema che Basilio aveva ampiamente trattato in quel capitolo settimo della prima Omelia esamerale. Vi si legge infatti che Dio “nella sua bontà creò ciò che è utile, nella sua sapienza ciò che è bellissimo (ὡς σοφός τὸ κἁλλιστον) nella sua potenza ciò che è grandissimo”, mostrandosi quasi “come artefice che penetra la sostanza degli esseri, nell’atto di armonizzare le singole parti fra loro, e nel dare all’universo omogeneità e accordo interno e perfetta armonia” (I, 7, 5, 26-30) (meriterebbe forse una sottolineatura il fatto che Basilio, dovendo parlare delle tre qualità della creazione, utilità, bellezza, grandezza, corrispondenti ai tre attributi di Dio: bontà, sapienza, potenza adoperi il superlativo per la bellezza e per la grandezza). Ugo riprende questo tema quando all’inizio della trattazione asserisce che la grandezza delle creature rivela la potenza divina, la bellezza rivela la sapienza, e l’utilità rivela le benignità: “… Potentia creat, sapientia gubernat, benignitas conservat E ancor più significativo sarà per noi quello che si legge subito dopo, e consente un puntuale riferimento delle sentenze filosofiche di Ugo al concetto ed alla fattura di quello che nella sua interezza possiamo considerare il poemetto di Alano: “… Potentiam manifestat creaturarum immensitas, sapientiam decor, benignitatem utilitas…”.

Autore: Rosario Assunto
Pubblicazione: Musica e architettura nel pensiero medievale
Editore: Cesare Nani
Luogo: Lipomo (Como)
Anno: 1994
Pagine: 33-36
Vedi anche:
Assunto – Il microcosmo e il macrolibro (1)
Assunto – Il microcosmo e il macrolibro (2)
Assunto – Il microcosmo e il macrolibro (3)
Assunto – Il microcosmo e il macrolibro (4)