“The dove – the rood – the loaf – the wine.”
Men know the gods because they have seen or intuited them, but not all men have seen or intuited the gods, and some men are incapable of seeing or intuiting them. The gods, moreover, sometimes disguise themselves so as to test men, or they appear in and as omens and auguries, which the dull of mind and the wicked of heart invariably either miss entirely through their mental obtuseness or, through self-serving prejudice, blatantly misread.
I. The gods appear in and as their attributes, which again only those who have vested themselves in the proper lore and the requisite discipline can correctly interpret. Who would see the gods must enjoy a gift of pre-attunement, even before he bows under the discipline and engraves the lore in his heart that will let him see them. Such a man is called a poet. The ancient Boeotian teller of the gods, Hesiod, whom scholars assign to the late Eighth Century or early Seventh Century BC, bears a name that means simply “The” (he or hos) “Poet” (aiodos), suggesting that the Boeotians, or at least those of them in the vicinity of Mt. Helicon, recognized his special talent and accorded him the status owing thereto. That status may claim itself paramount because the community must commune with the gods, just as the gods must communicate with the community, and an efficient go-between nicely serves the requirement both ways. One misthinking modern school argues through Hesiod’s name that any particular poet is a non-existence, as though no one could write a poem, as though poems constituted themselves, authorless, and as though therefore no one really ever saw Hesiod’s gods or heard them speak. This thesis of a literary fantasy amounts, however, merely to another kind of noetic obtuseness. Someone wrote Hesiod’s poems, obviously, and if Hesiod were the invention of that someone then that someone nevertheless would have seen Hesiod’s gods – through his invention, as it were, and taking Hesiod’s name, but equally in a vision such that the seeing must guarantee its own authenticity and such that He remains The Poet.
Yesterday, 17 July, my wife and I celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of our marriage by going to dinner at a The Bistro, a local establishment in Oswego, New York, our city of residence, where we have previously had pleasant experiences. Not the least part of that pleasure is the affability of the establishment’s bartender, Mark, whom I know also from Old City Hall, where we both like to drink. Mark, a former SUNY Oswego Philosophy major, is a friendly acquaintance.
In any case, I tried to dress for the occasion. It was too hot and muggy for a jacket but I wore a black tuxedo-style shirt with a bow tie and I sported my new hat, a white Panama with the characteristic broad brim and a black band. When we decided to eat at the bar, I put the hat on the table behind us, where, of course, I failed to retrieve it when we got up to leave. (The two Martinis might have had something to do with it.)
Not only did I leave the hat behind, but I forgot it entirely. Then, around ten o’clock this morning, my telephone (yes – I maintain a land line) rang and when I picked it up I recognized the voice of my friend Dick Fader, who is also a regular at Old City Hall. Dick told me that he had just received a telephone call from Mark (my number not being known to him), and that Mark had told him (that is, Dick) that he (that is, Mark) had rescued my hat when he left work, and that he had left it for me at Old City Hall.