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Kiss My RelicsHermaphroditic Fictions of the Middle Ages$
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David Rollo

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226724614

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226724607.001.0001

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Martianus Capella, De Nuptüs Philologiae et Mercurü: A Brother to Hermaphroditus

Martianus Capella, De Nuptüs Philologiae et Mercurü: A Brother to Hermaphroditus

(p.15) Chapter One Martianus Capella, De Nuptüs Philologiae et Mercurü: A Brother to Hermaphroditus
Kiss My Relics

David Rollo

University of Chicago Press

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

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