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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

Chapter:
(p.15) Chapter One Martianus Capella, De Nuptüs Philologiae et Mercurü: A Brother to Hermaphroditus
Source:
Kiss My Relics
Author(s):
David Rollo
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226724607.003.0002

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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