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Martianus Capella, <i>De Nuptüs Philologiae et Mercurü</i>: A Brother to Hermaphroditus

David Rollo

in Kiss My Relics

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780226724614
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226724607 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226724607.003.0002
Martianus Capella, De Nuptüs Philologiae et Mercurü: A Brother to Hermaphroditus

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Martianus has set himself the impossible task of writing a treatise on the unwritable. The difficulties of his undertaking are perhaps already obvious. First and foremost, by positing Mercury, the god of higher mediation, as the apposite partner for the intellectual desires of mankind, Martianus is inevitably providing a diffident commentary on the viability of any human or contingent language. He makes this diffidence clear in describing the first stage of Philology's apotheosis, which resolves into a complex ritual of dressing and undressing. The sum of knowledge that Philology yields is not an abstract principle; it is a veritable library of books, material artifacts bound to linguistic codes and to a graphemic intelligibility. Only when voided of this textualized learning can Philology drink the draught of immortality. The textual sum of human learning, therefore, must be jettisoned before apotheosis can be achieved.

Keywords: Martianus Capella; Mercury; intellectual desires; learning; Philology; linguistic codes

Chapter.  6835 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)

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