6 A ROMAN PROJECT TO GIVE RULERSHIP TO THE WISE
The Platonic point of view was envisioned by Plotinus
to take form as a philosophers' city, establishment of which was approved
by his Roman emperor as the noblest experiment in time....
But the fear of the Roman Senators that the projected commonwealth
of learning might finally overthrow the empire brought the project to naught,
as Rome continued in the advanced state of smugness
that immediately preceded the complete collapse of the nation.
DURING chess games played nearly seven hundred years after Plato's death, Plotinus, the greatest of the Neo-Platonists, discussed the problem of State with Galienus, Emperor of Rome. The Roman ruler was not a profound thinker, but he had an excellent mind which inclined toward the Platonic point of view, and he frequently sought advice from the great philosopher and mystic, Plotinus. This friendship led to Plotinus confiding to the emperor his dream of a philosophic city.
The situation and circumstances were impressive. One of the two men had the vision of the world's greatest need, the other had the power to make that vision a reality.
In the Compania, not far from Rome, stood the deserted ruins of an ancient city which had been destroyed by the vandalism of men and the crumbling forces of time; Plotinus asked that this become the site of a habitation for the learned, that here with funds raised from both public and private sources a noble community be built, to be ruled over by the laws set forth in the writings of Plato, and to honor the great man the city should be called Platonopolis.
Plotinus pointed out that such a project would not only bring honor to the wise but would confer immortality upon the name of the emperor, lasting dignity upon the whole of the Roman Empire. Galienus came to favor the project as the noblest experiment in time. But the Roman Senate viewed the matter with suspicion and alarm. To them it would be a serious misfortune for the aristocracy of wealth to be challenged by the aristocracy of learning!--the philosophers' city might finally overthrow the Empire. Always, philosophers had been especially troublesome to the smug, and Rome was in the advanced state of smugness that immediately preceded the complete collapse of the entire Empire.
So Galenius had to discover that emperors were not all-powerful; he was quietly informed by representatives of powerful and aristocratic families that if he continued to entertain seriously the dream of a philosopher's city it would be necessary to find as his successor a ruler with a more practical turn of mind. Plotinus and the emperor continued to play chess and conversationally build philosophic cities in the privacy of the royal apartments, and Rome continued on its headlong flight toward oblivion.
Excepting only recent years, this is the one time in history when a serious attempt was made to give wisdom a place in the temporal plan of living. Wise men are naturally endowed with the qualities of rulership, but they have had little if any voice in the rulership of the world; their voices have been heard only after the men themselves were dead. Plato lives thus today, and his words have a greater vitality in this century than they did in his time in ancient Athens.
An ever increasing thoughtfulness has resulted from the vicissitudes of recent years in bringing the realization that wars destroy not only the economic and political structures of nations, but the irreplaceable monuments of culture and learning which are the enduring wealth of empire. Great libraries are reduced to smoldering rubble by the engines of modern warfare, the art treasures of five thousand years vanish in the smoke of battle, and ruthless pillaging and wanton mutilation are the inevitable accompaniment of military aggressions. Both victor and vanquished are impoverished by a common loss, and posterity deprived of the noblest of its heritage.
This need not go on. The remedial action required is no more than for men to set aside in some selected part of the earth an area to be kept apart from all strife and struggle, and establish this as the common repository of the treasures of essential learning. On an island distant from strategic military objectives could be built a city of art, libraries, museums, universities, laboratories, and observatories. These institutions could be united as one great structure, a school over all schools, the city to become the capital of the intellectual empire. It might appropriately be named Platonopolis, to honor the great man who first conceived the idea of the commonwealth of learning.
In times of stress or danger each nation could send to this community those of its citizens whose mental excellence would entitle them to a world citizenship. Here, protected from all outside interference, they would be allowed to continue the various works of their individual lives for the enrichment of their own time and future ages, their progressed knowledge becoming the common property of all men, regardless of race or nation.
It is safe to predict that such a philosophers' city would ultimately be the most practical and certain instrument for accomplishing a world point of view in all departments of human thinking. The international nation--the dream of the future which has been inspired by the terror of modern warfare--would have its natural beginning in a union of superior intellects. Art knows no race; music is a common denominator; biology and physics are served by explorers into the furthermost and innermost secrets of nature. When we recognize that the poet, the scholar, and the savant are indeed a race inhabiting the suburbs of a superior world, that they are the noblest of our creatures, we can know that we honor ourselves most by honoring them.
Here lies the solution to the great educational reform so necessary at this time. We can not hope to build a nobility of man upon the sterility of a narrow, competitive, materialistic educational policy. The ignorance of man has been his undoing. Only wisdom can restore him to his divine estate.
The religious motion in the modern world is away from theology and all the artificial limitations set up by creeds and dogmas. To meet the ever increasing dissatisfaction, there must be a new vision concerning the substance of spiritual truth. The religion of the future will include within its own structure the best of science, art, literature, politics, and sociology. Spirituality is not a blind faith about things invisible. It is an inspired use of things known and available. That man is religious who lives well. That man is sacrilegious who perverts universal good for purposes of private gain. The abstract parts of religion are useful only to the degree that they justify and prove the moral virtues.
From the broad gates of the philosophers' city could flow the inspiration for a completely new estimation of the Universe, and man's relationship to it. When the gentler parts of learning exercise dominion over the human mind, world peace will be more than the substance of things hoped for.
The Roman Senate now lies in its snug little tomb along the Appian Way. But unfortunately the temper of the Roman Senator still survives to oppose the unknown and defend private privilege against the world's necessity. And for this reason it may be as difficult to found the philosopher's city on the ruin of modern civilization as it was to build Platonopolis on the ruins of the old city of the Compania.
There is one difference, however. In the last 1800 years humanity has suffered its way a little nearer to a state of enlightenment. We are a little older and a little wiser than the Roman Senate. Education and science are lodged in institutions far stronger than in that day when wandering teachers held classes on doorsteps or along the country road. In every nation of the civilized world great institutions of learning have sprung up, richly endowed and fully equipped to meet the challenge of a new age. What these institutions lack is common spirit and common purpose, and an ideal strong enough to bind them into one great empire of learning.
When Plato dreamed of his wise man's world he set the chief place in it aside to be the temple of the Ever Living God. Here he proposed to set up once more the column of precious substance bearing upon it the laws of the immortals for the conduct of human affairs. To this shrine the learned would come again, to bind themselves with the great oath that they should dwell at peace each with the other, and serve all men, justly and without favor.
This oath is the beginning of learning and the end of strife.
7 THE DEMOCRATIC TRADITION PRESERVED BY SECRET SOCIETIES
For more than three thousand years, secret societies have labored
to create the background of knowledge necessary to the establishment of an enlightened democracy
among the nations of the world ... The Creek Dionysians were social and political temple builders,
known as the Collegians in later Rome. ... The rise of the Christian Church
brought persecution of the classical intellectual pattern's ideology,
driving the guilds into greater secrecy; but all have continued
searching for human happiness under a variety of rituals and symbols;
and they still exist, as the Order of the Quest.
TODAY'S thinking toward a democratic world state is neither a new trend nor an accidental circumstance; the work of setting up the background of knowledge necessary to the establishing of enlightened democracy among all nations has been carried on for many hundreds of years by secret societies.
Secret societies have existed among all peoples, savage and civilized, since the beginning of recorded history. The esoteric organizations of ancient times were for the most part religious and philosophical. In the medieval world they were philosophical and political. In the modern world, political and social.
Secret societies have had concealment and protection as the first purpose for their existence. The members of these orders were party to some special knowledge, they usually took part in certain rites and rituals not available to non-members, but it was more important that through the societies they were also able to practice beliefs and doctrines in private for which they would have been condemned and persecuted if these rites were made public.
A second purpose for secret societies was to create a mechanism for the perpetuation from generation to generation of policies, principles, or systems of learning, confined to a limited group of selected and initiated persons.
Primitive secret orders exist among African tribes, among the Eskimo, and throughout the East Indies and Northern Asia. The American Indian, the Chinese, Hindus, and Arabs have elaborate religious and fraternal organizations. In most cases these secret orders are benevolent and the members are bound together by obligations of mutual helpfulness and the service of the public good. It is beyond question that the secret societies of all ages have exercised a considerable degree of political influence, usually directed against despotism, intolerance, and religious fanaticism.
The Order of the Dionysian Artificers originated among the Greeks and Syrians at some remote time before 1500 B.C. It was composed originally of skilled craftsmen, banded together in a guild to perpetuate the secrets of their crafts. Gradually the science of architecture took precedence and dominated the policies of the society. According to legend, when Solomon, King of Israel, resolved to build his temple according to the will of his father, David, he sent to Tyre and engaged the services of a cunning workman, Hiram Abiff, a master of the Dionysian Artificers. The members of this society held the exclusive right throughout the Greek states of designing the temples of the gods, the houses of government, the theaters of Dionysius and the buildings used for the public games.
It is certain that the Dionysians practiced secret rites and worshipped the gods under geometric symbolism; and that they possessed a body of lore which included mathematical secrets of proportion and design, certain knowledge concerning universal dynamics, and a philosophical, religious, moral and political conviction concerning the perfecting of human society. They referred to ignorant and uncultured humans as a rough ashlar, that is, an uncut stone as it comes from the quarry, unsuited to the purposes of building. Through the refinement which resulted from self-discipline and an addiction to the divine arts, man perfected himself; becoming square, upright, and true, thus forming the true ashlar, or the cut stone which could fit with others into a pattern of masonry. In their secret work the Dionysians thus were social and political temple builders, and the temple upon which they labored was the living temple of the Living God, "built of stone made ready before it was brought thither; so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was in the building." This temple was human society perfected; and each enlightened and perfected human being was a true stone for its building.
As Grecian culture reached Rome, the Latins formed their own Dionysian society and named it the Collegia. The greatest of the Collegians was an architect, Vitruvius, sometimes called the father of modern architecture. A man of vast learning, he was responsible for the superior sanitation of Rome and the great aqueducts which still border the Appian Way. While the Collegia of the Romans was less philosophical than was the Grecian society, because of the different temper of the Latin people, it exercised considerable social power and perpetuated the substance of the old belief.
The rise of the Christian Church broke up the intellectual pattern of the classical pagan world. By persecution of this pattern's ideologies it drove the secret societies into greater secrecy; the pagan intellectuals then reclothed their original ideas in a garment of Christian phraseology, but bestowed the keys of the symbolism only upon those duly initiated and bound to secrecy by their vows.
Part of the Dionysian movement migrated eastward to build the empire of Islam with each stone in mosque and palace bearing the mark of the master masons. Later the migration continued as far as India, where these same marks are to be seen on the monuments of the Mogul dynasty.
In early development of Europe the Dionysians became the guild of the cathedral builders. They signed each stone with the secret symbols of their cult, and into the intricate carvings of church and chapel they worked the old pagan figures and designs. Many guilds sprang up, binding skilled craftsmen in confraternities of arts and crafts and trades. Architecture remained the chosen instrument for the perpetuation of the Great Design--the building of the perfect world.
All the sciences contained brilliant far-seeing men who equally desired to contribute their part to the philosophic empire of the future. Secret societies were formed in their own professions, using the emblems established in their arts to conceal their social aspirations. Thus did the Alchemists come into being, the mystic chemists seeking the elixir of life, the wise man's stone, the universal medicine, and the agent for the transmutation of metals.
The elixir of life is truth itself, the preserver of all things.
The wise man's stone is science, that can work all wonders and solve all riddles of the mortal sphere.
The universal medicine is wisdom, the only cure for ignorance, which is the universal disease.
The agent for the transmutation of metals is the pattern of the Universal State, the essence of the perfect plan for a world civilization by which all the base elements in human society can be transmuted into the spiritual gold of right purpose.
In Italy, the Illuminati sought for the pearl of great price hidden in the deep waters of mortal corruption.
In northern Europe, the Knights of the Holy Grail dedicated their lives to the search for the chalice of the passion.
Christian and Jewish cabalists pondered the letters of the scriptures to find the secret of the crown of splendors, and the Rosicrucians in their hidden houses used the Rose of Sharon as the symbol of brotherly love, a simple rearrangement of the letters r-o-s-e becoming e-r-o-s, the Greek God of love, Eros.
All these groups belong to what is called The Order of the Quest. All were searching for one and the same thing under a variety of rituals and symbols. That one thing was a perfected social order, Plato's commonwealth, the government of the philosopher-king. To this end each consecrated its life and knowledge, exploring ever further into the secrets of Nature to discover the greatest secret of all--the secret of human happiness.
We are indebted to these Brothers of the Quest for our sciences, arts, and crafts of today. They were the discoverers; they were the astronomers, scientists, physicians, mathematicians, and artists whose works we treasure but whose dreams we have ignored. They gave knowledge to the world to make men happy. We have used their knowledge to make a few men rich. We have perverted their skill, desecrated their dreams, and profaned their mysticism. But the knowledge they have given us is available to be used in a nobler way, and some day we shall awaken to our responsibility with the realization that it is our common duty to restore the dignity of learning and dedicate unselfishly to the human need.
About the middle of the 17th Century, Sir Elias Ashmole, patron of the liberal arts and founder of the Ashmolian Museum at Oxford, was initiated into the guild of the operative freemasons of London, the first non-craftsman to be permitted membership. From that time on, the entire pattern of the guilds was changed, and speculative masonry came to dominate the older form of the craft, and the intellect builder came into his own. One veil of the old symbolism was lifted, to reveal in full clarity that the guilds were dedicated to a program social and political.
In this way the old dream of the philosophic empire descended from the ancient world to modern time. Secret societies still exist, and regardless of the intemperance of the times, they will continue to flourish until the Quest is complete.
For more than three thousand years, secret societies have labored to create the background of knowledge necessary to the establishment of an enlightened democracy among the nations of the world.
8 A NEW IDENTITY FOR CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS
Many scholars were fully aware of the global form of the earth
in the time of Columbus, who, according to early historians, State documents,
and his own son, was not an Italian of humble station and uneducated
but was a Greek Prince with an excellent classical education. ...
It was from a Greek port that he sailed on the celebrated voyage of discovery.
He was accompanied by a mysterious stranger, which has suggested
that Columbus was an agent of the society of unknown philosophers. ...
The pattern of the democratic ideal was beginning to assert itself over the tyranny of decadent aristocracy.
A new world was necessary for a new idea. ... When it was necessary, it was discovered.
NOTE: The University of Barcelona has pronounced genuine a document discovered by an Italian archeologist in 1929. It records that the treasurer of Spain counseled Colon to represent himself as Christophorens in demanding aid from the King of Spain, and states emphatically that Admiral Colon was not the same man as Christophoro Colombo, son of Dominico and Susana Fontanarossa who lived in Genoa.
AS stated earlier, there can be little doubt that the Greeks were aware of the existence of the American continent long before the beginning of the Christian era. If information is not general on that point, it is equally surprising how little is known about the man Christopher Columbus who is accredited with the discovery of the new world. The date of his birth is unrecorded, and twenty cities claim Columbus as a native. So many legends have sprung up about this strange man that it is difficult to distinguish fact from fancy.
In 1937 a little book was published, entitled, Christopher Columbus Was A Greek. According to its author, Spyros Cateras, the real name of Columbus was Prince Nikolaos Ypsilantis, and he came from the Greek Island of Chios. The statement is backed by quotations from numerous early historians and State documents.
The author of this little book has documented his opinions in a manner to bring joy to the critical reader. He mentions the following Greeks who navigated the Atlantic ocean in ancient times: Hercules, Odyssus, Colaeus, Pytheus, and Eratosthenes. He points out that the language of the ancient Mayas of the American continent contains many words of pure Greek belonging to the Homeric period, and, to quote the book: "Years ago, in the republic of Uruguay, South America, were discovered traces of the army of Alexander the Great, swords and thoras with the inscription 'PTOLEMEOS ALEXANDROY'!".
All modern research on the life of Columbus tends to prove that he was not a man of humble station, poor or uneducated, and the story of Queen Isabella and her jewels is rapidly becoming recognizable as fiction. Columbus is emerging as a man of impressive personality with marked abilities as a leader and organizer and an excellent classical education.
Like most Greeks of his time he admired the writings of Plato and the other classical philosophers; he had the Greek birthright of legend and tradition, and was mentally well suited for interpretation of classical lore. There is much to indicate that Columbus was inspired for his voyages by Plato's account of the lost Atlantis and the records of early navigation to the West. Furthermore, Europe was not without some knowledge of geography and in his day there were many scholars aware of the spherical form of the earth.
A great trade with Asia had long passed over the caravan routes of the Near East, as the Arabs for the most part were a friendly people; but with the rise of the Turkish Empire to power most of these routes were closed to the infidel. When even the Crusades failed to keep clear the roads of commerce, it became ever more desirable to discover a western passage to the Orient. It was for this purpose that Columbus sailed, and not from an Italian or Spanish port, but from the Greek port of Mahon.
It is astonishing how difficult it is to ascertain the facts about the celebrated voyage of discovery and the life of one so prominent in history as Christopher Columbus; it appears that history entered into a conspiracy to conceal the truth. Possibly an elaborate misrepresentation was intentional, for certainly the confusion began before the death of Columbus. His own son refers to his father as a Greek. It has been suggested that Columbus changed his name because of religious or political pressure, but this is in the field of conjecture.
Then too, in browsing about among old records I have run across a dim figure involved in the life of Columbus, a strange man who seems to have served the explorer in die capacity of counselor. Nothing very tangible has as yet come to light, but it is hinted that this mysterious person accompanied Columbus on his first voyage. He was not included in the list of the mariners. He did not return, but remained in the West Indies; beyond this, no further mention is made of him.
This mysterious stranger is reminiscent of the black-robed man who guided the destiny of Mohammed. Were these obscure figures ambassadors of the secret government?--Columbus being one of the agents through which the society of unknown philosophers accomplished its purposes ?
It is my opinion that he was such an agent. The signature of Columbus, composed of letters curiously arranged and combined with cabalistic designs, certainly conveys far more than is inherent in the signature of a private citizen.
The importance of Columbus in the larger scheme of things is to be estimated from his relationship to the pattern of his own time. Europe, passing from the obscuration of the medieval period, was coming into the light of the modern way of life; the motion of the Renaissance had spread like ever widening ripples over the surface of a stagnant pool. Printing had been discovered; the mental emancipation of man from the tyranny of ignorance, superstition, and fear was gradually being accomplished. The democratic ideal was beginning to assert itself over the tyranny of decadent aristocracy.
As the mental horizon broadened, the physical horizon extended also. The Crusades had broken up the structure of feudalism. Principalities were forming themselves into nations, and the tribal consciousness was disappearing from the theater of European politics. This progress was opposed at each step by vested interests. But the human mind was becoming aware of its own powers, in a motion of continuing irresistible force.
A new world was necessary for a new idea. When it was necessary it was discovered. That which is needed is always near if man has the wit to find it.
Today we are again seeking for a new world. No longer do there remain undiscovered continents to serve us as laboratories for social experiments, so we are turning our attention to other kinds of worlds--worlds of thought, inner spheres which must yet be explored by daring navigators. Science in the last fifty years has discovered a new universe--the universe of the mind. The infant psychology has but to come of age for us to fully discover a new sphere for new exploration in the science of living.
The voyages of Columbus were followed by two centuries of enlarging our geographic knowledge of the earth. Explorers who sailed the seven seas seeking wealth, brought home knowledge; it released human thought from its Mediterranean fixation and accomplished the still greater end of breaking the power of a Mediterranean theology and a Mediterranean way of life. Men began to think world thoughts, began to realize that while the whole earth was one land divided into continents and oceans it still was a gigantic unity. Out of the global wanderings of stout sea captains in little wooden ships was developed our so-called global thinking of today.
The concept of a global world, at least in terms of geography, is now our common inheritance. After four hundred and fifty years we accept it without question, but mainly to toy with the belief that we will accomplish something in terms of ultimates if we can industrialize the entire planet. Our world is still too large for us to know how to use it. We have discovered much, but the greatest voyage still lies before us.
Our venture will be into that greater ocean that lies beyond the boundaries of the known. The new voyages will be made in laboratories, and the contrary currents will be the cosmic rays that move through the seas of universal ether.
This will require of each man that he make a long journey of discovery within himself, searching out the hidden places of his mind and heart. As Socrates so wisely observed, all mankind lives along the shore of an unknown land. This unexplored world abounds in wonders and is filled with riches beyond the wildest dreams of old Spanish conquistadores. In this land beyond the sea of doubt the wise men dwell together in shaded groves, and here, according to the old tradition, the scholar, the musician, the artist, and the poet--who makes the discoveries that science and philosophy must later prove--have already found the better way of life.
Christopher Columbus sailed his little ships for a land which by the writings of ancient philosophers he knew existed. And each of us in the fulness of time will make our own voyage in search of a philosophically-charted better world--to follow the advice of Homer, to prepare our ships, unfurl our sails, and facing the unknown go forth upon the sea to find our own far distant native land.
9 THE PROPHECIES OF NOSTRADAMUS
Eleven years after Columbus reached our shores, an extraordinary man was born in France.
In adult life he was both a respected physician and a mystic who was able
to write accurately the history of the world to come. ... There was no indication at the time
that in the Western Hemisphere would arise a great nation,
but Dr. Michel Nostradamus saw a civilization established there
that would observe (always on a Thursday) a day to express thanksgiving
for freedom of religion, freedom of opportunity, and freedom of life. ...
He prophesied that this nation would free itself from the bonds of the mother country,
would greatly prosper, but would have to fight several wars--one with the Orient--
before becoming a great power in a pattern of world peace,
with other nations looking to it for leadership. ...
All that he foretold is precisely according to the Platonic tradition.
HISTORIES are generally written about the men who prominently influence the events that make history; little is written--though it might be of greater interest--about those shadowy figures who seem always to stand behind the men who make history.
Michel Nostradamus, seer of France, is among the most extraordinary of such men; born in 1503, and possessed of some inner source of knowledge beyond the reach of ordinary mortals, he wrote the history of the world to come !
Two hundred years later, the celebrated Illuminist and Rosicrucian, the Comte de St. Germain, remarked to his close friend, Prince Carl of Hesse-Cassel, that he was the one who had assisted Nostradamus in the calculation of his remarkable predictions.
All this is far too shadowy for sober historians, although a number have spent considerable time and developed numerous headaches trying to trace the life of the illusive Comte, who was called by Frederick the Great, "The man who does not die."
Nostradamus was a respected physician, a man of outstanding medical accomplishments. Few details of his life are available, but from the context of his manuscripts, his epistles to the King of France, and his letters to his own son, it is evident that he too belonged to the Order of the Quest. Mystic, philosopher, astrologer, alchemist, and cabalist, Nostradamus was versed in all the secret lore disclosed only to those who have bound themselves with the oath of the brotherhood.
The prophecies of Nostradamus might have come entirely as revelations of the spirit; but it is equally possible that in his quaint old doggerel verses he included part of the plan of things to come as already well set in the minds and purposes of his brother initiates.
The first edition of the Prophecies of Nostradamus was published in 1660. At that time the Americas were still the happy hunting ground of Spanish adventurers. There was no indication that in the Western Hemisphere would arise a great nation. Yet Nostradamus writes at sufficient length of the future state of America to indicate an extraordinary knowledge.
The old seer refers to this country under several names. He calls it the Hisparides, the Blessed Isles of the West. In another place he simply names it America. And his third designation of it is, the Land Which Keeps the Thursday.
This last form is the most astonishing. For it refers to the unique American holiday, Thanksgiving, which always falls upon a Thursday. And this the only holiday which depends upon the day alone for its observance, and is peculiarly the American holiday which expresses thankfulness for freedom of religion, freedom of opportunity, and freedom of life.
To summarize the opinions of Nostradamus concerning the future destiny of Western civilization is difficult, because of the involved idiom of the original text. But he points out clearly certain things that will happen. He saw that a great civilization would rise in the western world. This civilization would free itself from the bonds to its mother country, and then assume a free place among the temporal powers. The new country would flourish and extend its domain across the entire continent. It would grow rich and powerful, he predicted, and live at peace with its sister, (Canada). He said that America would have to fight several wars, including one with the Orient. This conflict he describes as an eagle flying against the rising sun, and in his day neither the eagle nor the rising sun had significance of the slightest importance in the symbolism of nations.
Fulfilling its destiny, Nostradamus foretold that America would become a great power in a pattern of world peace and would be looked up to by other nations for leadership against the common evils of the time. In short, as Nostradamus foretells the story of the Blessed Isles it is precisely according to the Platonic tradition; and we can not but wonder if he was a party to that tradition, and knew exactly whereof he spoke.
Whether the 16th Century physician of France had his visions from within himself, or whether he merely wrote down what was given to him by another, we can never know. Conventional thinkers, doubting such prophetic powers, incline toward the second alternative. And that will leave them scarcely less comfortable of mind, for the existence of this secret brotherhood plan is then virtually admitted.
Nostradamus is not the only prophet who sensed or knew the future of western empire. There was Dr. Ebenezar Sibly, who flourished in England about the close of the 18th Century. It is reported that Sibly had a shrewish wife and it was to escape her tongue that he retired to a garret of his house to ponder the mysteries of the Universe, his meals being passed to him through a hole in the door. Dr. Sibly divided his time between an infallible elixir which, if dissolved in wine, would dissolve all human ills, and the writing of long books dealing with astrology, physiology, and anatomy.
In his day, the American republic was in its infancy; and brilliant politicians on the floor of the House of Commons were predicting that the rebellious colonies would soon be begging on bended knee to be restored to the British commonwealth. Sibly, though a stout Britisher, expressed his regrets that he had to point out that, in one detail at least, an astrologer in his garret would prove wiser than the best politicians in Europe, for sad to relate, the American colonies would not come home--the stars decreed otherwise. Not only would they remain outside the fold, he said, but they would grow rich and powerful; extending themselves across their continent, Americans would build great cities and develop world trade and industry. And, one day--horrible thought!--they would be stronger than the mother country ! And this was the truth that must be spoken, if only through a hole in a garret door.
It should be remembered that among the ancients, astrology was one of the sciences of government. The prognostic aspect of the subject was not the main interest in the minds of such men as Pythagoras and Plato; these philosophers saw in the motion of the heavenly bodies and the order of the cosmos a great pattern of natural laws. The Universe was a celestial empire populated with planets, and suns, and moons, in a heavenly arrangement which was a clue to the proper distribution of human affairs. The State, they advocated, should be patterned after the Cosmos. Governments of men should be in harmony with the larger government of the world.
Many old astrological books indicate clearly that planetary symbols were used to represent the elements of a political system, and that the astrologers themselves were part of the Order of the Quest. Beneath the cloak of professional astrologers, they were counselors advising kings and princes to establish better laws and rule their peoples more wisely.
Nostradamus was consulted by three kings. Europe's most powerful Queen, Catherine de Medici, also consulted him on numerous occasions. His advice was always temperate and directed toward the public good. His scholarship gave a perspective on political problems that was beyond the scope of the professions of statescraft.
All the petty princes of Europe in medieval times had their Merlins, wise old men who in many instances were the actual rulers of the State. It is obvious that if these counselors Were bound together by some common purpose their collective power would be considerable. And they were bound together, in the secret society of unknown philosophers, moving the crowns of Europe as on a mighty chess board. Men of this calibre bring about the mutations of empire. It is the general opinion that revolutions begin with the common people, but this is not true; the benevolently informed always guide and direct public opinion.
Through the centuries the prophesies of Nostradamus have continued to exercise a powerful force on the political destiny of the world. They have been translated into most of the languages of Europe; they were frequently quoted and reprinted during the period of the First World War; and in the Second World War both the Axis and the Allied powers have quoted Nostradamus variously to serve their purposes.
It is in the larger picture of the world's future that Nostradamus indicates the coming of the great league, or assembly of world powers. This league is to be the only human hope of peace, the only solution to a competition between nations. The formation of this league begins the new life of the human race, will allow the human being at last to emerge into the estate for which he was fashioned.
Barbarism ends with the beginning of world civilization. To be civilized, according to Cicero, is to reach that state of personal and collective behavior in which men can live together harmoniously and constructively, united for the betterment of all. By this definition, we have never been civilized. We have existed in a state of cultured savagery.
The promise of Nostradamus is especially meaningful in these difficult years; for he assures us that the commonwealth of nations is to become a reality.
The men who through the centuries have envisioned Utopia belong to ages yet unborn, when the principles of natural philosophy will be applied to the problems of government and social dilemmas will be examined for solutions which are now termed impractical
10 THE DESIGN OF UTOPIAS
Sir Thomas More wrote a fable, about four hundred years ago, to set forth the social state of man
in a philosophic commonwealth, but so completely has the world missed the entire point,
that the very word "Utopia" is even today a synonym for optimistic
but impractical ideals of reform. ... Campenella, an Italian philosopher,
wrote of the major tragedy in that the subject of statesmanship alone had been neglected
as practically every other subject had been reduced to a science.
Government officials, he insisted, should be elected after examination to determine
knowledge and fitness .... Boccalini contributed further to Utopian literature,
and Andreae sought to Christianize it, with the theme: "For lack of vision the people perish."
ONE of the best known and least read of the world's literary productions is Sir Thomas More's Utopia. It was composed by a man who had suffered greatly from the political corruption of his day, 1478-1535; having held high office, More was well acquainted with those machinations commonly called conspiracies of the State.
More should properly be regarded as a Platonist, too; for the entire framework for the Utopia is borrowed from Plato's Republic, and the book is permeated throughout with Platonic ideology concerning the ideal State. Under a thinly veiled satire attacking the policies of King Henry VIII, here then is another voice calling men to the correction of their political vices.
Unfortunately, the immediate success of More's book was due to his attack on the King and the government in general, rather than any serious considerations of the remedies which he suggested.
In the Utopia, More presents his philosophical and political conviction in the form of a fable which sets forth the social state of man in a philosophic commonwealth. So completely has the world missed the entire point that More attempted to emphasize, that the very word "Utopia" has become a synonym for optimistic but impractical ideals of reform.
Sir Thomas More was centuries in advance of his day, which was reason enough why he could not be appreciated. Together with the master, Plato, More belongs to ages yet unborn, to the time when men weary of study of the dilemmas which now they examine by what they think is practical, will turn to solutions which they now term impractical.
An important Utopian was Tommaso Campenella, 1568-1639, an Italian philosopher also with strong Platonic leanings. Out of the wisdom of his years, Campenella composed the Civitas Solis, the city of the sun. In this work he departed from his usual interests--science, mathematics, and religion--to apply the principles of natural philosophy to the problems of government. He regarded it as a major tragedy that men had reduced to a science practically every branch of learning except statesmanship, which continued to be left to the vagaries of incompetent politicians skilled only in the arts of avarice.
Unfortunately, Campenella was not able to free his mind entirely from the pattern of his contemporary world, so his ideals are confused and not entirely consistent. He viewed government as a kind of necessary evil to be endured until each man shall become self-governing in his own right. To the degree that the individual is incapable of the practice of the moral virtues, he must be subjected to the laws which protect him from himself and protect others from his unwise actions. The principal purpose of life then is to release oneself from the domination of government by the perfection of personal character.
Campenella envisioned the perfect State as a kind of communistic commonwealth in which men shared all the properties of the State, receiving more or less according to the merit of each one's action. His theory that the State should control propagation is a little difficult in application, but his advice that all men should receive military training as part of their education would meet present favor. Government officials, he insisted, should be elected by an examination to determine knowledge and fitness, and promotion should be by merit alone and without political interference. This view is definitely Platonic, and leads naturally to Plato's conception of the philosopher-king as the proper ruler over his people.
Campenella may have intended his City of the Sun to be a philosophic vision of a proper world government, or may have been setting forth no more than the basis for a new constitution for the City of Naples, which at that time was looking forward to the estate of a free city. It is also said of Campenella that he lacked the beauty and idealism of the greater Platonists, and while this is probably true, his book is witness to the ills of his own time and a reminder to us that most of the evils he pointed out remain uncorrected.
In the year 1613, Trajano Boccalini, aged seventyseven, was strangled to death in his bed by hired assassins. At least this is one account. We are informed by another historian that he died of colic. A third describes his demise as a result of being slugged with sand bags. Anyhow, he died. And it is believed that Trajano's end was due to a book which he published entitled, Ragguagli di Parnaso, a witty exposition of the foibles of his time.
The 77th section of this book is titled, "A General Reformation of the World." Like the other Utopians, Boccalini made use of a fable to point out political evils and their corrections: Apollo, the god of light and truth, is dismayed by the increasing number of suicides occurring among men. So he appoints a committee composed of the wisest philosophers of all time to examine into the state of the human race. These men bring a detailed account and numerous recommendations to Apollo. Nearly every evil of modern government is included, ranging from protective tariffs to usury in private debt. The final conclusion reached by the committee is that the human problem is unsolvable except through a long process involving suffering and disaster. As an immediate remedy the best that could be done was to regulate the price of cabbages--which seemed to be the only article not defended by an adequate force of public opinion or a large enough lobby in places of power.
Boccalini's satire is important because it constituted the first published statement of the Society of the Rosicrucians. It points out that, first, evils must be recognized; then, the public must be educated to assume its proper responsibility in the correction of these evils; and lastly, public opinion must force the reformation of the State and curb the ambitions of politicians. This was a solemn pronouncement in the opening years of the 17th Century. It is little wonder that it cost Boccalini his life.
Johann Valentin Andreae, an early 17th Century German Lutheran theologian, was the next to cast his lot with the Utopians. Andreae's status is difficult to define, but he is generally believed to be at least the editor of the great Rosicrucian Manifestos, and the author of the Chemical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz. We may therefore safely assume that he was connected with one of the great orders of the Quest.
Andreae's contribution to the Utopian literature is his Christianopolis, or the City of Christ. This work, which is almost unknown to English readers, is largely developed from the ideas of Plotinus. Christianopolis is Platonopolis, Christianized. Its author was a quiet scholar with a long white beard and a strict sense of Lutheran propriety. His Christianopolis is a monument of morality and good taste, but beneath his strict orthodoxy, Andreae was a man of broad vision. His city is governed by the wise and is enriched with all the arts and sciences; there is no poverty. The citizens are happy because each is performing his task motivated by an understanding of the dignity of human life.
To my mind, it is dignity of values that makes Christianopolis a great book. In order to live wisely, men must have a sense of participation in the present good and future good. There must be a reason for living. There must be a purpose understandable to all, vital enough and noble enough to be the object of a common consecration. Andreae tells us again and again, in the quaint wording of his old book, "For lack of vision the people perish."
It remained for the master of all fable, Sir Francis Bacon, to bind together the vision of the Utopias with supreme artistry. It is a philosophical catastrophe that Bacon's New Atlantis was left unfinished. Or was it left unfinished ? Rumor has it that the book was actually completed but was never published in full form because it told too much. The final sections of Bacon's fable are said to have revealed the entire pattern of the secret societies which had been working for thousands of years to achieve the ideal commonwealth in the political world.
I have examined two old manuscripts relating to this subject and found them most provocative; but it might be less to the point to discuss that which Lord Bacon was compelled to conceal, when there is so much that is worthy of our consideration in the parts of the work actually published.