CHAPTER THREE:

IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING



- chapter index -
pg. 1 - Epitaph | pg. 2 - The Iron Gates of Fate
pg. 3 - The Fate of All Mankind | pg. 4 - Moonchild
pg. 5 - The Court of the Crimson King | pg. 6 - The Purple Piper
pg. 7 - Averroes | pg. 8 - The Keeper of the City Keys
pg. 9 - The Pilgrim's Door | pg. 10 - The Return of the Fire Witch
pg. 11 - The Gardener Plants An Evergreen | pg. 12 - The Prism Ship
pg. 13 - The Grinding Wheel | pg. 14 - On Soft Gray Mornings
pg. 15 - Divining Signs | pg. 16 - The Yellow Jester
pg. 17 - Remember the Future | pg. 18 - The Return of the King
pg. 19 - The I Ching | pg. 20 - Octants

- page index -
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". . . the deeds of those
Who know and who are known;"



"When I raised my eyes a little higher
I saw the master of those who know,
Sitting with his philosophic family

Who look his way and pay him honor.
There nearest him and before the rest
I saw Socrates and Plato . . .

I saw Dioscordes the good taxonomist
of plants and I saw Orpheus
Tully and Linus, and Seneca the moralist;

Euclid the geometer and Ptolemy
Hippocrates, Galen, Avicenna,
And Averroes who made the Great Commentary."

Dante, Inferno, IV
129-44

"The commentary of Aristotle's works by the Islamic philosopher Averroes had given rise to a school of philosophers known as the Averroists who had restored confidence in the autonomy of empirical knowledge. However, this was at odds with Saint Augustine's legacy of revelation which had been dominant. This threatened the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church and filled orthodox thinkers with alarm."

- Saint Thomas Aquinas

"Averroes died in the year which found the four-year old Frederick crowned King of Naples in Palermo, though legend relates that he lived at the court of Frederick."

- Frederick II
by Ernst Kantorowicz
(p. 338)

"Since the beginning of the thirteenth century an Arabian author of the first rank had become the object of much curiosity in Europe. This was the famous Averroes of Cordova, whose history might fill a volume, so full was it of romantic adventure and literary interest.
His philosophy was understood to embody the strangest and most daring speculations regarding the origin of the universe and the nature of the soul. For these he had suffered severely at the hands of the Moslem orthodox. They had proscribed his works and compelled him to leave his employment and pass the most precious years of his life in exile."

- Enquiry into the Life and Legend of Michael Scot
by Rev. J. Wood Brown
(p. 106-7)

"Many of his works in logic and metaphysics had been consigned to the flames, so that he left no school, and the end of the dominion of the Moors in Spain, which occurred shortly afterwards, turned the current of Averoism completely into Hebrew and Latin channels, through which it influenced the thought of Christian Europe down to the dawn of the modern era."

- The Catholic Encyclopedia

"One of his messages was this: Science and religion are two valid ways of gaining insight into the nature of things. They have different methods, neither one should interfere with the other, and an educated person will deny neither form of understanding. He placed spirit and intellect on equal footing. This was enlightened stuff, for a practicing monotheist!

After his time, Muslim clerics pretty much erased his teaching from Islamic culture. They saw to it that faith ruled the mind without challenge. In theocratic Islam, there would be no more cracks."

- The Conflict of Thought and Faith

"Averroes was a rationalist who scoffed at all religions indiscriminately in that spirit of irreverence which Abelard too had shown, and which had caused apprehension as to the dangerous influence of even the logic and metaphysics of Aristotle. His two most pernicious doctrines were that a thing could at the same time be true theologically and false philosophically, and the assertion of the commonality of one intellectual soul among all human beings.

When these heterodox doctrines reached the West through Spain and through the court of Frederick II, who, attracted by Aristotle's scientific writings, supported two of the sons of Averroes, the authorities were alarmed."

- Albert the Great

"Averrhoism quickly penetrated into the University of Paris and was adopted by some of the foremost thinkers of the day. The Emperor Frederick II openly espoused it and was excommunicated from the Church as a result. Roger Bacon studied it and approved of it. It formed the favorite theme of discussion among the later Italian painters, Leonardo da Vinci accepting it without question, while others used Averrhoes in their paintings as the type of anti-Christ. In 1512 the Church anathematized Averrhoes and his doctrines and branded all who studied them as infidels."

- Great Theosophists Roger Bacon

"The influence of Aristotle was too great to ignore or condemn, what was needed was some way of reconciling them, and Aquinas' thought was brilliantly successful in this challenge."

- Saint Thomas Aquinas



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" Plato's spawn cold ivyed eyes
Snare truth in bone and globe.
"

Because they believed that only union with God could lead to knowledge, Medieval neo-Platonists insisted that study of the natural world was useless. As the song, In the Wake of Poseidon , appears to be primarily about this problem, it is not unlikely that Peter Sinfield also made reference to neo-Platonism in the first album. The passage, about snaring the truth "with bone and globe," refers to divinatory practices, which are not guided by scientific reasoning. Divination is attempted by throwing bones and with a crystal ball, a globe.

"Chesterton 'notes that the Catholic Church "...began by being Platonist; by being rather too Platonist. St. Thomas Aquinas sought to reaffirm the Incarnation, the Word made Flesh, by means of his synthesis with Aristotle, to counter-balance the "Oriental elements" of the Greek Fathers. Aristotelianism simply meant that the study of the humblest fact will lead to the study of the highest truth.
St. Thomas laid down principles that, if followed by succeeding generations, would have averted the "...clumsy collision" of science and religion."

- A Report on St. Thomas Aquinas the Dumb Ox by G.K. Chesterton / by R. Jeffrey Grace

Of course the Church did not strictly follow the principles laid down by St. Thomas, as demonstrated by the persecution of Roger Bacon, Galileo, Giordano Bruno and other untold thousands. But Aquinas did manage to open the door to Reason, if only a crack, and he did this by rendering acceptable to the clergy some of the elements of Averroism which were then being promoted by the Court of Frederick II.

"The christianizing of Aristotle would at once solve the problem of the moment and effect a reconciliation between philosophy and theology, between reason and faith, by providing that scientific system which theology had been seeking since the early ages of the Church. To do this it was necessary to get back to the primitive text, then to purge the authentic thought of Aristotle of its pagan errors, and expound it in a manner compatible with Christian truth. In this last task the Arab commentators could be utilized. Indeed Thomas -- acting upon advice of St. Augustine which he quotes with approval (ST, I. Q.84, a5), "If those who are called philosophers said by chance anything that was true and consistent with our faith, we must claim it from them as unjust possessors" -- molded his own commentary upon that of Averroes, whom he frequently cites with respect despite the hard words already mentioned."

- Albert the Great

"Although Aquinas's great work of Aristotelian synthesis, the Summa Theologica, seems the height of orthodoxy from our safe distance, it was not always judged so. In places, it flirted perilously with heterodoxy . . .Thomas was treading on dangerous ground, as were a number of his counterparts, Maimonides and Averroes prominent among them. But Aquinas had certain advantages. Before he arrived on the Parisian scene, he had the benefit of an education shaped by Frederick II's Andalusian-like culture in Southern Italy, where he had been able to read a Latin translation of Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed , reportedly a favorite of Frederick's. At Frederick's court Michael Scot had been a key member of the group that translated it from Hebrew into Latin."

- The Ornament of the World
by Maria Rosa Menocal'
p. 214

"Coming from southern Italy himself, even as Frederick II was patronizing unorthodox ideas and Islamic learning, St. Thomas took the doctrines of Aristotle refined by Islamic and Jewish philosophy and made them acceptable as Christian theology. This achievement continues to ground Catholic theology."

- Philosophy In the Christian High Middle Ages
by Kelley L. Ross


The impact of Averroes upon the Church (by way of Frederick II and St. Thomas Aquinas) also extended into the legal realm.

"Roman law was undergoing a revival at the University of Bologna; this involved a rigorous analysis of the natural law and provided the jurists of Frederick II with a weapon against ecclesiastical theocracy. The traditional presentations of the role and duties of princes, in which biblical symbolism was used to outline beautiful pious images, were replaced by treatises that described experimental and rational attempts at government. Thomas had composed such a treatise-- De regimine principum ("On the Government of Princes")--for the King of Cyprus in 1266. In the administration of justice, juridical investigations and procedures replaced fanatical recourse to ordeals and to judgments of God."

- Thomas Aquinas (Thomism) by Peter Schmidt

And thus the purple piper, St. Thomas Aquinas, who was to lead the Catholic world to reason, can play his tune while Frederick's choir sings three lullabies (Three Impostors) and it can be done harmoniously.

In summary, the first verse is about the rising sun. Frederick is just starting out and telling the world, "This is what I'm about." By philosophically aligning himself with St. Thomas he is stating his position regarding Science and the Church.

Thanks to the influence of Averroes, Frederick II and St. Thomas Aquinas, the Medieval Catholic Church was forced to liberalize, an occurence that may have saved the Church and profoundly altered the course of European history.

"While Aquinas' thought was hugely influential, his confidence in the synthesis of reason and revelation was not shared by all philosophers of his time. Many philosophers, still under the influence of Averroes, did not see the need of using Christian faith in their scientific endeavours. A schism grew between the two opposing camps, which deepened greatly following Aquinas death. The church could do nothing to stop the secularistic philosophers who continued their work. However, the church's authority still persisted throughout the Middle Ages, and Aquinas was canonised as a saint some 50 years after his death."

- St. Thomas Aquinas

As for Averroes . . .

"His influence in Europe persisted, developed, and expanded. His Catholic students, many of them, believed him, and carried his modernist message to Paris and Oxford and other nascent Christian universities. Aristotle's demand for natural explanations for nature and his ideas concerning inductive and deductive reasoning had a profound influence on generations of Catholic scholars. Because of Averroes, a Muslim Arab, Christian philosophers learned to think for themselves. The capacity of Christendom to accept Classical Philosophy into its religious culture, while Islam shut it out, explains why airplanes exist today, and also why all commercial pilots have to learn English instead of Arabic. By listening to this Arab genius, Europe began to surge ahead of Africa and Asia."

- The Conflict of Thought and Faith


Averroes' contribution to Western civilization was acknowledged by Raphael in The School of Athens


detail from The School of Athens
left to right: Averroes, in a turban, Pythagoras writing out his harmonic tables and Empedocles looking over his shoulder.





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