6.15.2017

Language learning in the Crusader States

Christopher Tyerman. God's War: A New History of the Crusades pp. 234-235 Penguin (2006)
Inevitably, some Franks did learn local languages as well as more generally becoming acculturated with the Near East in diet, dress, hygiene, economic activity and accommodation. A smattering of Arabic for judicial, diplomatic or administrative purposes may have been common place; at least one western knight, William de Preaux, managed to learn the Arabic for king, malik, during the Third Crusade, using it to divert the attention of Turkish troops away from Richard I during an ambush near Jaffa in 1191. Learning to speak, even read, other languages came as less of a burden to twelfth-century western aristocrats than to some of their modern successors. In addition to his own local vernacular, an educated nobleman would have daily confronted Latin (if only in church or at prayers) and probably numerous other vernaculars, if only orally. Henry II of England was fluent in northern French and Latin, with a smattering of other western European languages; his son Richard I cracked jokes in Latin and recited verse in northern and southern French. To rule England or Sicily, Norman rulers or their officials needed to be trilingual; Bohemund [de Antioquia] spoke Greek. 
Among the Frankish nobility in Outremer [Estados Cruzados], captivity provided a more peculiar school of languages; during his imprisonment in the 1160s, Raymond III of Tripoli learnt Arabic, probably not a unique pastime among long-stay prisoners. Others acquired Arabic out of curiosity, intellectual energy, political judgement or necessity. Reynald lord of Sidon (1171-1200) employed a Muslim language teacher, enjoyed religious debate and studied Arabic literature. Sufficiently fluent and adept to charm Saladin himself, Reynald used his linguistic skill to bamboozle the sultan into withdrawing from his stronghold at Beaufort in May 1189 and buy a year’s grace and good surrender terms for his castle. Later Reynald acted as a diplomat in negotiations with Saladin during the Third Crusade. Another Frankish noble who, according to Saladin’s associate and biographer Baha’ al-Din Ibh Shaddad (1145-1234), spoke Arabic well was the effeminate Humphrey III of Thoron, whose linguistic talent was in turn employed by Richard I of England in his negotiations with Saladin in 1191. Both Reynald and Humphrey came from families long established in Outremer, their proficiency in Arabic, while striking Arabic chroniclers as sufficiently unusual to be worthy of note perhaps reflecting a growing facility among the Latin rulers, surrounded as they were, even in their own households, by Arabic-speaking Christians as well as a few Muslims and Arabized Jews. 
Throughout the twelfth century, chance comments or descriptions of exchanges between Franks and Arabic-speaking neighbours, even at the level of spying, hint at a perhaps wide pool of linguists. The parallel may be with Anglo-Norman England, Sicily and Spain, where conquerors encountered resilient and sophisticated local languages of learning, literature, government and an indigenous social elite. Again, in the context of relations with Syrian Christians, the desire to communicate, even if not strictly imperative for political or administrative survival, appears unsurprising. Much the same could be said of other eastern elite languages. The charter recording the negotiations between the Hospitallers and Meletus the Syrian archbishop of Gaza and Bethgibelin of 1173 is bilingual in Latin and Greek. The Edessan nobleman Baldwin or Marasch, killed in a failed attempt to recapture Edessa in 1146, spoke fluent Armenian and employed an Armenian priest as his confessor. 


Notários gregos, árabes [sarracenos], e latinos na chancelaria normana da Sicília, séc. XII.
Fonte: Cod. 120.II Liber ad honorem Augusti de Pietro da Eboli, c.1197 Folio 101r
Burgerbibliothek Bern, aka BBB [Biblioteca Municipal de Berna]

5.27.2017

freedom ancient & modern (Arendt)

Hannah Arendt. On Revolution. pp.30-31 Penguin (1963)
Freedom as a political phenomenon was coeval with the rise of the Greek city-states. Since Herodotus, it was understood as a form of political organization in which the citizens lived together under conditions of n-rule, without a division between rulers and ruled. This notion of no-rule was expressed by the word isonomy, whose outstanding characteristic among the forms of government, as the ancients had enumerated them, was that the notion of rule (the 'archy' from ἄρχειν in monarchy and oligarchy, or the 'cracy' from κρατεῖν in democracy) was entirely absent from it. The polis was supposed to be an isonomy, not a democracy. The word 'democracy', expressing even then majority rule, the rule of the many, was originally coined by those who were opposed to isonomy and who meant to say: What you say is 'no-rule' is in fact only another kind of rulership; it is the worst form of government, rule by the demos. 
Hence, equality, which we, following Tocqueville's insights, frequently see as a danger to freedom, was originally almost identical with it. But this equality within the range of the law, which he word isonomy suggested, was not equality of condition — though this equality, to an extent, was the condition for all political activity in the ancient world, where the political realm itself was open only to those who form a body of peers. Isonomy guaranteed ἰσότης, equality, but not because all men were born or created equal, but, on the contrary, because men were by nature (φύσει) not equal, and needed an artificial institution, the polis, which by virtue of its νόμος would make them equal. Equality existed only in this specifically political realm, where men met one another as citizens and not as private persons. The difference between this ancient concept of equality and our notion that men are born or created equal and become unequal by virtue of social and political, that is man-made, institutions can hardly be over-emphasized. The equality of the Greek polis, its isonomy, was an attribute of the polis and not of men, who received their equality by virtue of citizenship, not by virtue of birth. Neither equality nor freedom was understood as a quality inherent in human nature, they were both not φύσει, given by nature and growing out by themselves; they were νόμῳ, that is, conventional and artificial, the products of human effort and qualities of the man-made world.

5.10.2017

patristics in full cry

Garth Fowden. Before and After Muhammad: The First Millenium Reconsidered p.13 Princeton UP (2013)
The deliberations of [the Council of Nicaea at 787] allow us a fascinating glimpse of a world of ambitious, frequently irate bishops and slanted scholarship based on the corruption or forgery of proof texts, in other words patristics in full cry, powered as much by testosterone as testimonia.

4.27.2017

οἰκοδομεῖν

וּמִי יַעֲצָר־כֹּח֙ לִבְנוֹת־לוֹ בַיִת כִּי הַשָּׁמַיִם וּשְׁמֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם לֹא יְכַלְכְּלֻהוּ וּמִי אֲנִי אֲשֶׁר אֶבְנֶה־לּוֹ בַיִת כִּי אִם־לְהַקְטִיר לְפָנָיו

Quem lhe construiria uma casa, se nem os céus, nem os céus dos céus o podem conter? 
E quem sou eu que lha construa, se não para que queime incenso na Sua presença?

Segundo Livro de Crónicas 2:5
Tradução minha

تحت جنح الظلام

יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר־בָּאת לַחֲסוֹת תַּחַת־כְּנָפָיו

O Sᴇɴʜᴏʀ é o Deus de Israel
sob cujas asas buscaste refúgio.

Rute 2:12
Tradução minha

4.26.2017

there and back again

הֲשִׁיבֵנִי וְאָשׁוּבָה כִּי אַתָּה יְהוָה אֱלֹהָי

traz-me de volta para que eu regresse
porque tu és o Sᴇɴʜᴏʀ meu Deus

Jer 31:18
Tradução minha

4.23.2017

Relationship goals

 וַיַּגֶּד־לָהּ שְׁלֹמֹה אֶת־כָּל־דְּבָרֶיהָ לֹֽא־הָיָה דָּבָר נֶעְלָם מִן־הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר לֹא הִגִּיד לָֽהּ  
E Salomão respondeu a tudo que [a Rainha de Sabá] lhe perguntou - e não houve nada que lhe fosse obscuro a que ele não fosse capaz de lhe responder.
1 Reis 10:3
Tradução minha

4.22.2017

קוֹל אֹמֵר קְרָא
וְאָמַר מָה אֶקְרָא

diz uma voz: Chama!
e a resposta: Chamo o quê?

Isaías 40:6
Tradução minha

4.18.2017

navigare necesse est

أمرتي بركوب البحرمغتررا
عليك غيري فأمره بذا الراء
ما أنت نوح فتنجيني سفينته
ولست عيسى أنا أمشي على الماء

mandas-me a cavalgar o mar, eu que nunca antes lhe toquei —
busca-te alguém que não eu, que o mandes à espuma das ondas!
não és tu Noé que me salve a sua arca
nem eu Jesus que caminhe sobre as águas

Ibn Rashīq (390-456 AH)
Tradução minha

dois versos do Avicena

هبطت اليك من السماء الارفع
ورقاء ذات ترفع وتمنع

Dos céus mais altos [a tua alma] desceu sobre ti
Uma pomba orgulhosa e hesitante

Avicena
tradução minha