Friday, April 11, 2008

Carthage (2)

After attending the lectures on Providence and the Pneuma,
I decided to review all those notes on the religious cults that
had attracted me over all my years wandering about the Empire.
Reading through, I really wasn't able to make anything concrete
out of them--other than they reflected impressions of what
God might be like for any given person or people. Religion
had been around forever, and (for me) it seems strange.

Why Religion? Is it a way that the Logos communes with us?
If the Logos is Cosmic Reason, why is Religion often so
unreasonable? Maybe the issue points to our own inability
to receive the Numinous in a straightforward way. We have
not yet developed enough; thus, we work through our emotions.
More importantly, perhaps we are coming to grips with Deity
through our intuition? And in the end these efforts come to
reside in varied religious cults.

Eventually I stashed my notes back in one of my trunks, no
doubt frustrated trying to make sense of any of this. Then
Providence played a joke on me.

I found out that the patron god of Carthage was Saturn, who
was the god of agriculture. Considering all the farmlands
around, Saturn would seem a good selection. But Saturn was
more--he was oft called the "god of seeds." Oh yes, Someone
was pulling my strings!

Over time I tried to work into astronomy. It seemed an effort
in futility. Wherever I turned, I ran into astrology. It was like
meeting twins--one trying to be scientific, and the other delving
into magical fortune-telling. It was just too difficult trying to pull
these two areas of study apart. As for our recent efforts to devise
a more correct calendar, such was mainly based on lunar and
solar cycles that seemed to have more import for agriculture--
what with the emphasis being on seasonal change.

In the end I decided to keep trying to become more expert
reading the naturalist writings that Marc had collected. Also,
I made use of the library at the Collegio Carthago. And,
finally, I began writing some small essays--and effort, at first,
to try to help me see a pattern out of all the information I had
come across, whether philosophical, religious, or naturalist

I knew that I was treading on unsteady ground, but fortunately
I didn't sink into a bog. My essays kept growing until I had
quite a collection. If nothing else, they might prove interesting
to someone. Than again, maybe not. I had both Quint and
Marc look them over. Both of them found my ideas challenging.
At least my thinking was different.

Quint suggested that I might compile all these essays into a book.
How do you do that, I asked. Easy, go down to one of the local
booksellers and let them put all my material together. The process
proved fascinating. The owner of the bookshop explained to me
that booksellers all over the Empire have thousands of copyists
at hand. His copyists would make duplicates of my notes; and
through gluing together the pages, they are rolled into a scroll.
Depending on the size, sometimes two scrolls are tied together.
These scrolls become books. And depending on their popularity,
they can be duplicated again and again.

Hence, I became an author of a book. And much to my
amazement, my book became popular and was duplicated over
and over--sent to private collectors as well as libraries. My
bookshop owner made a lot of money, and I made some. So
I made us both happy by writing more essays, turned into books.
As time went by, I had become fairly well known. At this point,
Quint (who had now become the head of the Carthage Stoa)
invited me to be a guest lecturer, giving at least three
presentations over a year.

I warned Quint that I was *not* a purebred Stoic. No matter, he
laughed. Putting together all these variables--whether philosophy,
whether religions. whether natural studies--would make for a
fascinating lecture. Besides I had become well known as an
author and surely would draw a crowd. Quint felt that what I had
been doing, trying to integrate the information in these fields,
seeing new patterns, formulating new models of understanding,
was well worth hearing about.

Amused, I walked home shaking my head. I had become a

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