Saturday, March 31, 2012



Llucífer és un dimoni, QUE segons els hebreus ÉS diferent de Satanàs, malgrat que el cristianisme ha lligat els dos noms.

El seu nom procedeix del llatí (lux-lūcis: llum, i del verb fĕro, tŭli, lātum: portar) i significa:

"Aquell qui porta la llum."

Aquest terme llatí :


Estrella del Matí,
"Portador de la Llum",

s'utilitza 6 vegades en la Bíblia Llatina.

Notablement en :

·1er· En relació amb Crist, 2a Pere 1,19:

("D'aquesta manera ens és confirmada la paraula profètica a la qual feu molt bé d'entendre com un llum que fa claror en un lloc fosc, fins que no apunti el dia i neixi en els vostres cors l'estel del matí (llucifer)"

Així doncs, se'n va derivar l'ús normal del terme, com un nom Cristià entre els primers cristians, per exemple: Sant Llucífer.

Llucífer s'anomenava el Bisbe de Càller (Sardenya), del Segle III.

·2on· Sobre el rei de Babilònia:

En la Burla contra el rei de Babilònia, Tiglath-Pileser III, que regnà en 745–727 aC,....... Isaïes 14,12 diu:
"Com has caigut del cel, estel del matí, fill de l’aurora!
Com has estat abatut a terra, tu que abaties les nacions!"


En la mitologia rabínica i en la cristiana, Llucífer és considerat el rei dels inferns.
La mitologia rabínica (de l'Edat Mitjana) enclava la seva creació junt amb amb la de tots els àngels del Senyor.
Havent-li estat atorgat el nom de:
Helel Ben Shahar (fill de l'aurora) Luzbel.
I el seu rang era el mateix que el de l'arcàngel Miquel.

Llucífer és l'equivalent grec de Fòsfor o Hespèria, "el portador de l'Aurora".

Pels antics aquesta llum a la que es referix el terme llucífer no és la llum del sol, sinò la de l'aurora.
La mateixa a què es refereix la Bíblia, quan diu que Déu separà la llum de les tenebres.

La pèrdua del Paradís
La seva caiguda, juntament amb la resta d'àngels que el seguiren, causà també l'anatematització del nom Llucifer.
Segons la tradició originària, o recollida dels càtars, la caiguda de Llucifer precipità amb ell la caiguda d'un terç dels àngels.

L'assimilació popular amb el nom de Satanàs, data de tradicions pre-cristianes que afirmaven que hi havia un únic Príncep dels Inferns,...(si més no, per coherència amb la Jerarquia Angèlica), i van començar a aplicar indistintament els dos noms als mites relacionats amb el màxim dimoni.

Les obres de la Patrística van consolidar la fusió, ja que el diable rebia molts apel·latius diferents, que van passar a ser títols i no dimonis separats.

I "La Divina Comèdia", de Dante Allighieri, va reafermar literàriament la identificació.

El satanisme, en conseqüència, també li ret culte com a figura principal.



Friday, March 30, 2012


Some of Albrecht Dürrer's
paintings, engravings or dessigns



A supremely gifted and versatile German artist of the Renaissance period, Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528), was born in the Franconian city of Nuremberg, one of the strongest artistic and commercial centers in Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

He was a brilliant painter, draftsman, and writer, though his first and probably greatest artistic impact was in the medium of printmaking.

Dürer apprenticed with his father, who was a goldsmith, and with the local painter Michael Wolgemut, whose workshop produced woodcut illustrations for major books and publications.

An admirer of his compatriot Martin Schongauer, Dürer revolutionized printmaking, elevating it to the level of an independent art form.
He expanded its tonal and dramatic range, and provided the imagery with a new conceptual foundation.

By the age of thirty, Dürer had completed or begun three of his most famous series of woodcuts on religious subjects:
· The Apocalypse (1498),
· the Large Woodcut Passion cycle (ca. 1497–1500),
· and The Life of the Virgin (begun 1500).

He went on to produce independent prints, such as :
· The engraving of Adam and Eve (1504)
· Small, self-contained groups of images, such as the so-called
· Master Engravings featuring: Knight, Death, and the Devil (1513),
· Saint Jerome in His Study (1514),
· and Melancholia I (1514),
Which works were intended more for 'connoisseurs' and collectors than for popular devotion.

Their technical virtuosity, intellectual scope, and psychological depth were unmatched by earlier printed work.

More than any other Northern European artist, Dürer was engaged by the artistic practices and theoretical interests of Italy. He visited the country twice, from 1494 to 1495 and again from 1505 to 1507, absorbing firsthand some of the great works of the Italian Renaissance, as well as the classical heritage and theoretical writings of the region.

The influence of Venetian color and design can be seen in the Feast of the Rose Garlands altarpiece (1506; Prague, Národní Galerie), commissioned from Dürer by a German colony of merchants living in Venice.

Dürer developed a new interest in the human form, as demonstrated by his nude and antique studies.
Italian theoretical pursuits also resonated deeply with the artist.

He wrote Four Books of Human Proportion (Vier Bücher von menschlichen Proportion), only the first of which was published during his lifetime (1528), as well as an introductory manual of geometric theory for students (Underweysung der Messung, 1525; 125.97 D932), which includes the first scientific treatment of perspective by a Northern European artist.

Dürer's talent, ambition, and sharp, wide-ranging intellect earned him the attention and friendship of some of the most prominent figures in German society.

He became official court artist to Holy Roman Emperors Maximilian I, and to his successor Charles V, for whom Dürer designed and helped execute a range of artistic projects.

In Nuremberg, a vibrant center of humanism and one of the first to officially embrace the principles of the Reformation, Dürer had access to some of Europe's outstanding theologians and scholars, including Erasmus, Philipp Melanchthon, and Willibald Pirkheimer, each captured by the artist in shrewd portraits.

For Nuremberg's town hall, the artist painted two panels of the Four Apostles (1526; Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Alte Pinakothek), bearing texts in Martin Luther's translation that pay tribute to the city's adoption of Lutheranism.

Hundreds of surviving drawings, letters, and diary entries document Dürer's travels through Italy and the Netherlands (1520–21), attesting to his insistently scientific perspective and demanding artistic judgment.

The artist also cast a bold light on his own image through a number of striking self-portraits—drawn, painted, and printed.

They reveal an increasingly successful and self-assured master, eager to assert his creative genius and inherent nobility, while still marked by a clear-eyed, often foreboding outlook.

They provide us with the cumulative portrait of an extraordinary Northern European artist whose epitaph proclaimed:

"Whatever was mortal in Albrecht Dürer lies beneath this mound."


JEAN-LÉON GÉRÔME (lLife of a Painter)

painting "Thirst - Tigress and Cubs

-Main references, are from the
Book: "Jean-Léon Gérôme
His Life - His work 1834-1904"
by Gerald M. Ackerman


JEAN-lÉON GÉRÔME was born on 11 May 1834, in Vesoul (a town in the modern French department of Haute-Saône, not far from Besançon and the border with Switzerland), nd was the first son of Pierre Gérôme, a goldsmith, and his wife Claude Françoise Mélanie Vuillemot, a merchant's daughter.

At school in Vesoul he had much academic success from an early age, in his final year receiving first prize in chemistry, an honourable mention in physics and another prize in oil painting, having commenced painting lessons when aged 14 after five years of drawing classes.
His drawing master was Claude-Basile Cariage, a strict task master in the academic methods who is thought to have once worked in the atelier of either J B Regnault or of Ingres.

His schooling complete, in 1840 at the age of 16, he set out for Paris with a letter of introduction to Paul Delaroche who was then at the height of his fame.

Delaroche's style, which he naturally communicated to his students, was a fusion of the academic Neo-classical school and the dramatic subject matter of the romantics in which the universal themes of the former were replaced with the personal psychological studies typical of the latter, resulting in, what might be termed, a historical genre painting style.

Delaroche also recommended the study of Phidias (i.e. casts after the friezes and pediments of the Parthenon) and, at that time, he had just completed his most famous work - the fresco in the Hemicycle of Fine Arts in the École des Beaux-Arts - the concept of which clearly owes a lot on Raphael's Vatican frescoes.

The atelier (studio) routine was rigorous, with five hours each morning spent drawing from either a cast or model, a week being spent on each drawing, and the afternoons spent on personal studies, perhaps sketching in the streets or countryside or copying old masters in the Louvre.
Gérôme also took supplementary courses at the École itself, possibly in anatomy or perspective.
He was popular with his fellow students at the atelier and, since the income from his father made him relatively well off, his various accommodations at this time in Paris always had an open door.
Indeed he often cut his own food rations dangerously to keep his friends fed.

Encouraged by Delaroche, he offered a drawing to the Magasin Pittoresque and had it accepted.
Thereafter he became a regular contributor.
He supplemented his allowance further by, together with his friends, mass-producing sets of 'Sations of the Coss' to be sold in the religious shops.

In his third year of studies, returning from a vacation in Vesoul, he learned of the closure of Delaroche's atelier:
Delaroche was in depression following the death of his wife, Louise, the daughter of Horace Vernet, and also that of one of his students following a duelling incident.

Gérôme found his teacher setting off for Rome and asked to accompany him.
He did so together with E-J Damery, who had recently won the Prix de Rome, and an English artist from the atelier, Eyre Crowe.
He was later to refer to his year in Rome as the happiest and best time of his life.

In Italy, he spent much time studying the antiquities, which formed the basis for many of his later motifs, and it was in the Naples museum that he encountered the famous gladiatoral armour from Pompeii that was to inspire his gladiatorial scenes. However, his stay in Italy was cut short by a bout of typhoid fever and his mother had to travel from Vesoul to nurse him.

Returning to Paris in the autumn of 1844, he entered the atelier of the famous Swiss painter and teacher Charles Gleyre (1806-1874) who had more or less taken over from Delaroche.
He was a popular teacher and an excellent and erudite draughtsman, with a technique in oils considered to be one of the most secure at the time - this when oil paint was not yet supplied in tubes and a careful scientific mixing was required to avoid rapid deterioration of the pigments over time.

Amongst his many later famous students, to whom he had obviously imparted his special techniques, were Monet, Renoir, Bazille and Whistler.
Besides the usual drawing or painting from a model or cast, Gleyre also taught composition - a rare occurrence in an atelier.
Remembering his own poverty as a student, he never charged attendance fees at his classes.

Gleyre's traditional empathy with Phidias and Raphael was at a time when the Realist movement was developing and his own compositions might have seemed somewhat old-fashioned, however his students reacted inventively, keeping their master's classical figures and settings with their idealized backgrounds, but instead of employing elements of the grand manner to paint historical, biblical or mythological subjects, they painted antique genre scenes.
His students became known as the Pompeïstes or Neo-grecs and Gérôme -doubtlessly due to the learned and sophisticated wit of his compositions together with their freshness and accuracy- became known as the leader of this small group.

However, in addition to Gleyre's attention to correct and accurate settings in his compositions which seemed to either parallel or influence those of Gérôme, he also had an enthusiasm for the Near East -an area which was ultimately to become Gérôme's destiny-.

When Delaroche returned to Paris from Rome, summoned to work on an important commission, Gérôme left Gleyre's studio to become his assistant and he stayed for almost a year.
Delaroche encouraged him to prepare paintings for the Salon and he was soon commissioned to paint a reproduction for the Queen. For this he was given a studio in the Louvre. It was to be the first of a long series of official commissions.

He also worked on "The Cock Fight", a large canvas combining nude studies with animals, which he intended for the Salon of 1847.

After much lobbying, he succeeded in obtaining an unobtrusive location for it there. Fortunately, however, it was noticed and praised by the well-known poet and critic Théophile Gautier - a man who was later to support Gérôme throughout most of his career. His review made Gérôme famous and effectively launched his career.

Successive French governments continuously supported artists by commissions of various sorts, and that of the Second Republic was no exception, awarding many to Gérôme on an ongoing basis. A tireless worker, he rose at dawn, worked while there was good light throughout the day and only indulged in social amusements at night.

Greater fame followed these commissions and his prices gradually increased until, by 1860, the state found that he had become too expensive.
This was by then no hardship for him enabling him to concentrate on more adventurous subjects for the Salons.

These paintings showed great originality, merging his old-fashioned classical interests with the contemporary objectivity of Realism, enthusiasm for which encouraged him to record events on his travels for later incorporation into his paintings which might otherwise have been ignored.

Having got a taste for oriental travel after visiting Turkey in 1855 to make studies for a large official commission , he was soon to visit Egypt in preparation for the Salon of 1857 in which his first Egyptian genre paintings were shown.

Gautier saw in them a true and fresh view of the Near East.
The variety of subjects and themes he presented were astonishing and this was to mark the start of his career as an Orientalist or a 'peintre ethnographique'.

At the end of 1861 Gérôme planned an eight month visit to Egypt and the Near East with the intention, following his return, of marrying the daughter of Adolphe Goupil, his dealer.
But his plans were endangered by a duel.

An exchange of violent words with a certain Mr Stevens, an art dealer, (possibly over a woman) upon leaving a party led to the challenge.
He had never duelled before and his opponent was experienced.
Apparently his doctor, Dr Lorrain, arrrived just in time to advise him to stand sideways.
This must have saved him, since the bullet of his adversary hit his right wrist en route to lodging in his shoulder.

Not to be deterred, however, Gérôme set off for Egypt with his arm still in a sling. In the same trip he also visited Judea, Syria and the Holy Places.
Upon his return he married Marie Goupil (1842-1912) as originally planned.

Goupil was a famous international art dealer with offices in Berlin, Brussels, London and New York as well as two shops in Paris.
Starting in 1827 as Goupil and Ritter, they first sold only prints, but by 1847 it was selling modern paintings in its shop in the Rue de Montmartre.

The Gérômes had four daughters and one son, Jean, who, after attempting a career as a painter, died of consumption in 1891 at the age of 27.
The daughters all married prominent men and gave him many grandchildren.

In spite of this, after Adolphe Goupil's death in 1884, the firm became Boussod, Valadon and Company, liquidating in 1917, the New York branch having been sold much earlier to the agent Knoedler.

For his marriage, Gérôme bought a house at 6, Rue de Brussels, near the Boulevard de Clichy and opposite the Folies Bergere, later extending it right through the block to the boulevard, building a grand house with courtyard, stables, a large sculpture studio on the ground floor and a large painting studio with a huge atelier window on the top floor.

After many complaints about the selection (or rather rejection) of many good artists from the Salons and the Emperor himself having ordered the opening of the parallel exhibition - the Salon des Refusés - in 1863 there came an imperial decree separating the administration of the École des Beaux-Arts and the Salon from the academicians of the Institute de France, putting them under separate control.

A new curriculum was inaugurated for the École and three painting ateliers were founded. Gérôme was appointed as professor of one which opened in 1864. It had 16 students, most presumably from his own independent atelier which he had started between 1860 and 1862.

In January 1868, entrusting his students to a good friend, he set off upon a three-and-a-half month excursion to the Middle East in the company of 8 other friends, including the young photographer Albert Goupil.

By this time he had learned Arabic and was a seasoned traveller as well as a lively and convivial companion.

Leaving from Marseilles, they disembarked at Alexandria and journeyed up the Nile to Cairo and Giza, taking photographs and sketching all the while.
Thence by train to Suez and a safari to Mount Sinai via the east bank of the Dead Sea, then ever onwards across the peninsula of Aquaba to Petra and finally to Jerusalem. Here he met the, by then, equally famous American painter Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), before leaving the group and heading home by ship from Jaffa to Marseilles with Albert Goupil.

Returning to his studio in Paris, Gérôme developed a repertoire of "standard" pictures - single models posed with costumes and properties he had collected on his travels - all painted with meticulous care: Arabs, Arnauts, Almehs, merchants, Bashi-Bazouks, butcher boys - sitting, smoking, holding guns, tending dogs, or just standing there - and incorporating his props of rifles, side arms, hookas, vases, etc.

By the time the war started in 1870, Gérôme was at the height of his career: regularly a guest of the Empress at the Imperial Court at Compiègne; he was a professor at the École; elected a member of the Imperial Institute in 1865; promoted from a knight to an officer in the Legion of Honour in 1867; elected an honorary member of the British Royal Academy in 1869; and awarded a decoration, the Grand Order of the Red Eagle, Third Class, by the King of Prussia.

In the autumn of 1869 he was invited to be among the distinguished group of French artistic and literary élite to see the opening of the Suez Canal.

When the war started the Gérôme family was already in their country home in Bougival, just outside Paris, where they had all their valuable possessions transferred. He worked there until he thought that the Germans were getting too close then took his wife and children to England, returning himself to aid with the defense of Paris.
He didn't remain there long, however, and soon returned to London and his family, where he stayed until the summer of 1871, accepting the hospitality of Eyre Crowe. He had little knowledge of the English language himself and probably re-introduced himself to Lord Leighton, who spoke excellent French, and to Sir Edward Poynter, who had also studied with Gleyre in Paris.
It was in London that he started his series of oriental bath scenes - usually incorporating two or more nudes in imagined baths - fantasy rooms full of coloured tiles, fountains and steam penetrated by light beams.

Soon after the siege of Paris finished in June 1871, the family returned to their home which had only suffered minor damage.
Although he had not requested it, the home in Bougival had also been given special protection by the invading Prussians, either because of his fame or his being a knight in a Prussian order.

He resumed his teaching at the École des Beaux-Arts which had earlier been abolished by the Commune.
He also commenced re-building his professional reputation which had been somewhat damaged by his association with the fallen empire.

He sent no exhibits to the Salon until 1874, in which the jury awarded him his second Gold Medal for three genre pieces set in the baroque era.
Some critics objected that gold medals were not for genre painters.
Hearing this while in Holland, he telegraphed home that he would not accept the prize. However they would not withdraw it, so he gave the medal, worth about 4000 francs in gold, to a student fund at the École.

Throughout this period he continued to travel:
Turkey in the winter of 1871;
Spain and Algiers in 1873;
Holland in 1874 (to study Frans Hals);
Turkey again in 1879;
Egypt in 1880;
perhaps to Greece in 1881;
London in 1888;
Sicily in 1890 (on the Duc d'Aumale's yacht);
and Italy in 1889 (with François Flameng and Victor Clairin).

Despite his constant travel and a series of illnesses -the dysentery acquired much earlier in Algiers recurring several times- he never ceased from his rigorous work habits.
Twice a week he rode horseback across Paris to his classes at the École, looking so much like a cavalry officer that he was often salluted on the way.
Indeed he became one of the major personalities of his time, being constantly in the newspapers.

Gérôme made his public debut as a sculptor at the Paris International Exhibition of 1878 .
His friend Frémiet had encouraged him in this direction and gave him instruction in the techniques. His exhibit was an impressive life-size bronze group, The Gladiators, based on the central figures of his painting Pollice Verso.

He had been making plaster models to paint from for some time and his interest in the structure of the human body found a natural expression in this medium.
With Anacreon, Cupid and the Infant Bacchus, he returned to a theme dear to the Neo-grecs.

At the Salon of 1887 he exhibited his marble statue Omphale, a lifesize depiction of the Lydian queen watching the enslaved Hercules perform one of his assigned labours.

He was highly satisfied with this work and had several photographs taken of the model posing alongside the plaster in his studio - the likeness was considered to be astounding.
The government offered to buy it, but he turned them down saying that "In offering to buy my statue ... you have given me the most wonderful award for my effort". He encouraged them to save their money to award to other less prosperous sculptors whose only income could be from official patronage.

His next sculptured masterpiece, Tanagra of 1890, was actually bought by the government for 10,000 francs but only with the proviso that the money should not come from the state sculpture fund.

Not particularly liking portraiture, he did however produce a series of portraits of his friends in the 1890's which was supplemented by a splendid series of commisioned busts in marble and bronze, the climax of which was a splendid polychromed Sarah Bernhardt now in the Musée d'Orsay.

Between 1884 and 1891, Gérôme's circle and family suffered from a high number of deaths, no doubt due in part to recent 'flu epidemics' during the severe winters.
Indeed he was seriously afflicted himself, although making a full recovery.

His father died aged 84. In the same year his young brother-in-law Albert Goupil died, closely followed by his father, Adolphe, thus extinguishing the male line of the family.

Other deaths followed including his closes friends, the painters Paul Baudry and Gustave Boulanger.
However, whether ill or in mourning, Gérome returned to work whenever he could, seeking consolation in his labours.
He was to survive although his output naturally decreased during these years.

During the latter part of his life Gérôme was a vehement opponent of the Impressionist movement in painting.

He caused a scandal over his opposition to the Caillebotte bequest to the state where he encouraged the Institute to write a letter to the Minister of Public Instruction protesting the exhibition of the large collection of Impressionist works in the Luxembourg Gallery -to no avail however- the collection was ultimately to become the foundation of the Musée d'Orsay collection.

He also organised a public demonstration in his atelier and gave interviews to reporters.
From the L'Éclair journal: "The Institute cannot remain still before such a scandal ... How can the government dare welcome such a collection of inanities into a museum? Why, have you seen the collection? The state the ward of such junk! The Luxembourg Museum is a school. What lessons are our young artists going to receive there from now on? They'll all start to do Impressionism! Ah! these people believe they are painting nature, nature so admirable in all its manifestations! What pretension! Nature is not for them! This Monet, do you remember his cathedrals? And that man used to know how to paint! Yes, I've seen good things by him, but now!"

Similarly he objected to the Manet memorial exhibition at the École in 1884. It was not just that Manet had never studied or taught there, but because he had "chosen to be the apostle of decadent fashion, the art of the fragment.
I, for my part, was chosen by the state to teach the grammar of art to young students. ... Consequently I do not think it right to offer them as a model the extremely arbitrary and sensational work of a man, who, although gifted with rare qualities, did not develop them."

Despite Gérôme's position, his power was only that of his reputation and he held no administrative authority - the Manet exhibition went ahead.
However, after the opening which he did in fact attend, Gérôme came out telling everyone it was "not so bad as I thought" - apparently the highest praise he ever gave anyone!

On the 31st December 1903, Gérôme wrote to his student and former assistant Aublet:
"I begin to have enough of life. I've seen too much misery and misfortune in the lives of others. I still see it every day, and I'm getting eager to escape this theatre."

He was to live just ten more days and perhaps knew that his heart was weakening.

Yet, ever energetic, he still planned another trip to Monte Carlo.

On the 9th of January he had lunch with his brother-in-law Léon Cléry and the widow of the painter Alfred Stevens, afterwards showing them round his studio.
In the evening he dined with friends from the Institute.

However the next morning, the maid found him dead in the little room next to his atelier, slumped in front of a portrait of Rembrandt and at the foot of his own painting "he Truth".

As a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour, he was entitled to a full military funeral, but he had already requested just a simple service without even flowers.

Nevertheless there was a large attendance at a Requiem Mass held in his memory which included the President of the Senate, the Director of Fine Arts, the former President of the Republic, the mayor of Vesoul and many painters and writers - he had been a very popular figure and good friend to many.

He was buried in the Montmartre Cemetary in front of the statue of 'Sorrow'
he had cast in memory of his son Jean.



Thursday, March 29, 2012


1 - Roman S·P·Q·R Banner (The capital letters S·P·Q·R
....stand for: "Senatus PopulusQue Romanus")
2 - Julius Caesar's Statue, by Coustou, (Louvre Museum)
3 - Death-Conspirators encircle Caesars
4 - Morte di Cesare, by Vicenzo Camuccini, in Rome's
....Modern Art Gallery
5 - Roman Standard, (a modern recreation)

------ THE "IDES OF MARCH" ------



The assassination of Julius Caesar was the result of a conspiracy by approximately
60 Roman Senators, who called themselves Liberators.

Led by Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus, they stabbed Julius Caesar to death in the Theatre of Pompey, on THE IDES OF MARCH (March 15).

Caesar was the Dictator of the Roman Republic at the time, having recently been declared Dictator Perpetuo by the Senate.

This declaration made several senators fear that Caesar wanted to overthrow the Senate in favour of tyranny.

The ramifications of the assassination led to the Liberators' civil war and, ultimately, to the Principate period of the Roman Empire.

Biographers describe tension between Caesar and the Senate, and his possible claims to the title of king.
These events were the principal motive for Caesar's assassination by his political opponents in the Senate.

Plutarch records that at one point, Caesar informed the Senate that his honors were more in need of reduction than augmentation, but withdrew this position so as not to appear ungrateful.

He was given the title Pater Patriae ("Father of the Fatherland").

He was appointed Dictator a third time, and then nominated for nine terms as Dictator, effectively making him Dictator for ten years.
He was also given censorial authority as praefectus morum (prefect of morals) for three years.

The Senate named Caesar dictator perpetuo ("dictator in perpetuity").

Roman mints produced a denarius coin with this title and his profile on one side, and with an image of the goddess Ceres and Caesar's title of Augur Pontifex Maximus on the reverse.

While minting the title of dictator was significant, Caesar's image was not, as it was unusual to feature living consuls and other public officials on coins during the Republic.

According to Cassius Dio, a senatorial delegation went to inform Caesar of new honors they had bestowed upon him in 44 BC.

Caesar received them while sitting in the Temple of Venus Genetrix, rather than rising to meet them.

Suetonius wrote that Caesar failed to rise in the temple either because he was restrained by Cornelius Balbus or that he balked at the suggestion he should rise.

Suetonius also gave the account of a crowd assembled to greet Caesar upon his return to Rome, and that :
A member of the crowd placed a laurel wreath on the statue of Caesar on the Rostra.

The tribunes Gaius Epidius Marcellus and Lucius Caesetius Flavus ordered that the wreath be removed as it was a symbol of Jupiter and royalty.

Caesar had the tribunes removed from office through his official powers.
According to Suetonius, he was unable to dissociate himself from the royal title from this point forward.

Suetonius also gives the story that a crowd shouted to him "rex", the Latin word for king.
Caesar replied, "I am Caesar, not Rex".
Also, at the festival of the Lupercalia, while he gave a speech from the Rostra, Mark Antony, who had been elected co-consul with Caesar, attempted to place a crown on his head several times.
Caesar put it aside to use as a sacrifice to Jupiter Optimus Maximus.

Plutarch and Suetonius are similar in their depiction of these events, but Dio combines the stories writing that the tribunes arrested the citizens who placed diadems or wreaths on statues of Caesar.
He then places the crowd shouting "rex" on the Alban Hill with the tribunes arresting a member of this crowd as well.

The plebeian protested that he was unable to speak his mind freely. Caesar then brought the tribunes before the senate and put the matter to a vote, thereafter removing them from office and erasing their names from the records.

Suetonius adds that Lucius Cotta proposed to the Senate that Caesar should be granted the title of "king" for it was prophesied that only a king would conquer Parthia.
Caesar intended to invade Parthia, a task that later gave considerable trouble to Mark Antony during the second triumvirate. His successors did attempt the conquests of Parthia and Germania, but without lasting results.

Brutus began to conspire against Caesar with his friend and brother-in-law Gaius Cassius Longinus and other men, calling themselves the Liberatores ("Liberators").

Many plans were discussed by the group, as documented by Nicolaus of Damascus:

“ The conspirators never met exactly openly, but they assembled a few at a time in each other's homes.
There were many discussions and proposals, as might be expected, while they investigated how and where to execute their design.
Some suggested that they should make the attempt along the Sacred Way (Via Sacra), which was one of his favorite walks.
Another idea was to do it at the elections, during which he had to cross a bridge to appoint the magistrates in the Campus Martius.
Someone proposed that they draw lots for some to push him from the bridge and others to run up and kill him.
A third plan was to wait for a coming gladiatorial show.
The advantage of that was, because of the show, no suspicion would be aroused if arms were seen.
The majority opinion, however, favored killing him while he sat in the Senate.
He would be there by himself, since only Senators were admitted, and the conspirators could hide their daggers beneath their togas.
This plan won the day.”

Nicolaus writes that in the days leading up to the assassination, Caesar was told by doctors, friends, and even his wife, Calpurnia, not to attend the Senate on the Ides for various reasons, including medical concerns and troubling dreams Calpurnia had:

“ ...his friends were alarmed at certain rumors and tried to stop him from going to the Senate-house, as did his doctors, for he was suffering one of his occasional dizzy spells.
His wife, Calpurnia, especially, who was frightened by some visions in her dreams, clung to him and said that she would not let him go out that day.
But Brutus, one of the conspirators who was then thought of as a firm friend, came up and said: 'What is this, Caesar? Are you a man to pay attention to a woman's dreams and the idle gossip of stupid men, and to insult the Senate by not going out, although it has honoured you and has been specially summoned by you?
But listen to me, cast aside the forebodings of all these people, and come.
The Senate has been in session waiting for you since early this morning.

" This swayed Caesar and he left. ”

Caesar had been preparing to invade the Parthian Empire and planned to leave for the East in the latter half of March.

This forced a timetable onto the conspirators.

Two days before the actual assassination, Cassius met with the conspirators and told them that, should anyone discover the plan, they were to turn their knives on themselves.

Ides of March: Assassination Day

On the Ides of March (March 15; see Roman calendar) of 44 BC, the conspirators staged a game of gladiatorial sport at Pompey's theatre.
The gladiators were provided by Decius Brutus in case their services were needed. They awaited in the great hall of the theatre's quadriportico.

Mark Antony, having vaguely learned of the plot the night before from a terrified Liberator named Servilius Casca, and fearing the worst, went to head Caesar off at the steps of the Forum.

However, the group of senators intercepted Caesar just as he was passing the Theatre of Pompey, located in the Campus Martius (now adjacent to the Largo di Torre Argentina), and directed him to a room adjoining the east portico.

Had Antony arrived while the assassination was ongoing, he would certainly have come to Caesar's aid, and would have proven a very formidable adversary in Caesar's defense. (Antony was much younger than most of the senators and was a trained veteran of the 13th Legion, which fought the Gallic soldiers for nine years.)

According to Plutarch, as Caesar arrived at the Senate Tillius Cimber presented him with a petition to recall his exiled brother.
The other conspirators crowded round to offer their support.

Both Plutarch and Suetonius say that Caesar waved him away, but Cimber grabbed Caesar's shoulders and pulled down Caesar's tunic.
Caesar then cried to Cimber, "Why, this is violence!" ("Ista quidem vis est!").

At the same time, Casca produced his dagger and made a glancing thrust at the dictator's neck.
Caesar turned around quickly and caught Casca by the arm.
According to Plutarch, he said in Latin, "Casca, you villain, what are you doing?"11 Casca, frightened, shouted "Help, brother!" in Greek ("ἀδελφέ, βοήθει!", "adelphe, boethei!").
Within moments, the entire group, including Brutus, was striking out at the dictator.
Caesar attempted to get away, but, blinded by blood, he tripped and fell; the men continued stabbing him as he lay defenseless on the lower steps of the portico.

According to Eutropius, around 60 or more men participated in the assassination. Caesar was stabbed 23 times.
Suetonius relates that a physician who performed an autopsy on Caesar established that only one wound (the second one to his chest) had been fatal.
This autopsy report (the earliest known post-mortem report in history) describes that Caesar's death was mostly attributable to blood loss from the multiple stab wounds.

The dictator's last words are a contested subject among scholars and historians and people alike.
Suetonius reports that others have said Caesar's last words were the Greek phrase "καὶ σύ, τέκνον;" (transliterated as "Kai su, teknon?": "You too, child?" in English).

However, Suetonius himself says Caesar said nothing. Plutarch also reports that Caesar said nothing, pulling his toga over his head when he saw Brutus among the conspirators.

The version best known in the English-speaking world is the Latin phrase:
"Et tu, Brute?" ("You too, Brutus?").
This derives from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (1599), where it actually forms the first half of a macaronic line: "Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar."

It has no basis in historical fact, and Shakespeare's use of Latin here is not from any assumption that Caesar would have been using the language, but because the phrase was already popular at the time the play was written.

According to Plutarch, after the assassination, Brutus stepped forward as if to say something to his fellow senators not involved in the plot; they, however, fled the building.

Brutus and his companions then marched to the Capitol while crying out to their beloved city: "People of Rome, we are once again free!".
They were met with silence, as the citizens of Rome had locked themselves inside their houses as soon as the rumour of what had taken place had begun to spread.

Caesar's dead body lay where it fell on the Senate floor for nearly three hours before other officials arrived to remove it.

A wax statue of Caesar was erected in the Forum displaying the 23 stab wounds.
A crowd who had amassed there started a fire, which badly damaged the Comitia and neighboring buildings.
In the ensuing chaos Mark Antony, Octavian (later Augustus Caesar), and others fought a series of five civil wars, which ended in the formation of the Roman Empire.

Portentous Events

Virgil wrote in the Georgics (26 B.C.E.) that several unusual events took place following Caesar's assassination.

Who dare say the Sun is false?
He and no other warns us when dark uprisings threaten, when treachery and hidden wars are gathering strength.
He and no other was moved to pity Rome on the day that Caesar died, when he veiled his radiance in gloom and darkness, and a godless age feared everlasting night.

Yet in this hour Earth also and the plains of Ocean, ill-boding dogs and birds that spell mischief, sent signs which heralded disaster.
How oft before our eyes did Etna deluge the fields of the Cyclopes with a torrent from her burst furnaces, hurling thereon balls of fire and molten rocks.
Germany heard the noise of battle sweep across the sky and, even without precedent, the Alps rocked with earthquakes.
A voice boomed through the silent groves for all to hear, a deafening voice, and phantoms of unearthly pallor were seen in the falling darkness.
Horror beyond words, beasts uttered human speech; rivers stood still, the earth gaped upon; in the temples ivory images wept for grief, and beads of sweat covered bronze statues.

King of waterways, the Po swept forests along in the swirl of his frenzied current, carrying with him over the plain cattle and stalls alike.
Nor in that same hour did sinister filaments cease to appear in ominous entrails or blood to flow from wells or our hillside towns to echo all night with the howl of wolves.
Never fell more lightning from a cloudless sky; never was comet’s alarming glare so often seen.

Aftermath of the Assassination

The result, unforeseen by the assassins, was that Caesar's death precipitated the end of the Roman Republic. T
he Roman lower classes, with whom Caesar was popular, became enraged that a small group of aristocrats had sacrificed Caesar.
Antony, who had been drifting apart from Caesar, capitalised on the grief of the Roman mob and threatened to unleash them on the Optimates, perhaps with the intent of taking control of Rome himself.

But, to his surprise and chagrin, Caesar had named his grandnephew Gaius Octavian his sole heir, bequeathing him the immensely potent Caesar name as well as making him one of the wealthiest citizens in the Republic.

Gaius Octavian became the son of the great Caesar, and consequently also inherited the loyalty of much of the Roman populace.
Octavian, aged only 18 at the time of Caesar's death, proved to have considerable political skills, and while Antony dealt with Decimus Brutus in the first round of the new civil wars, Octavian consolidated his tenuous position.

To combat Brutus and Cassius, who were massing an enormous army in Greece, Antony needed soldiers, the cash from Caesar's war chests, and the legitimacy that Caesar's name would provide for any action he took against them.

With passage of the Lex Titia on November 27, 43 BC, the Second Triumvirate was officially formed, composed of Antony, Octavian, and Caesar's Master of the Horse Lepidus.
It formally deified Caesar as Divus Iulius in 42 BC, and Caesar Octavian henceforth became Divi filius ("Son of the Divine").

Seeing that Caesar's clemency had resulted in his murder, the Second Triumvirate brought back proscription, abandoned since Sulla.
It engaged in the legally sanctioned murder of a large number of its opponents in order to fund its forty-five legions in the second civil war against Brutus and Cassius.
Antony and Octavius defeated them at Philippi.

Afterward, Mark Antony married Caesar's lover, Cleopatra, intending to use the fabulously wealthy Egypt as a base to dominate Rome.
A ninth civil war broke out between Octavian on one hand and Antony and Cleopatra on the other.
This final civil war, culminating in the latter's defeat at Actium, resulted in the final ascendancy of Octavian, who became the first Roman emperor, under the name Caesar Augustus, a name that raised him to a Status of a deity.



Some forty people joined in the plot, but most of their names are lost to history. The known members are:

Gaius Cassius Longinus

Marcus Junius Brutus

Servius Sulpicius Galba

Quintus Ligarius

Lucius Minucius Basilus

Publius Servilius Casca Longus (brother of Gaius Servilius Casca)

Gaius Servilius Casca (brother of Publius Servilius Casca Longus and the one responsible for the first stab)

Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus

Lucius Tillius Cimber

Gaius Trebonius

Lucius Cassius Longinus (brother of Gaius Cassius Longinus)

Gaius Cassius Parmensis

Caecilius (brother of Bucolianus)

Bucolianus (brother of Caecilius)

Rubrius Ruga

Marcus Spurius

Publius Sextius Naso

Lucius Pontius Aquila


Decimus Turullius

Pacuvius Antistius Labeo


MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO was not a member of the conspiracy.
And even was surprised by it.

But later, he wrote to the conspirator Trebonius, saying that:
<< He wished he had been "invited"... to that superb banquet. >>

He believed that the Liberators should also have killed Mark Antony.


The conspirators had decided, however, that the death of a single tyrant would be more symbolically effective, claiming that the intent was not a coup d'état, but tyrannicide.



Wednesday, March 28, 2012


FOTO : Winston Churchill y General Degaulle




Una historia interesante para sonreir...

Cuentan que Winston Churchill discutía con Charles de Gaulle sobre una operación militar....

y que al francés le molestaba que Churchill hiciese tanto hincapié en los costes de la operación y en el tema financiero, pues no era "rentable".

-Ustedes los ingleses sólo pelean por el dinero. Nosotros luchamos por la dignidad y el honor, deberían aprender de nosotros los franceses -comentó Charles de Gaulle ya un poco exasperado-.

Churchill, con mucha calma y sin perder la compostura respondió:

-Bueno Charles....cada uno lucha por lo que le hace falta.





Goose laying a golden egg



-------- ON THE ALTAR OF COMMERCE --------

Why has Britain's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) adopted an 'impact' agenda?

The discoveries that have had the biggest impact on industry were all products of basic research. Photograph: G.K. & Vikki Hart/Getty Images
As Margaret Thatcher famously once said: "Although basic research can have colossal economic rewards, they are largely unpredictable. And therefore the rewards cannot be judged by immediate results. Nevertheless, the value of Faraday's works today must be higher than the capitalisation of all the shares on the Stock Exchange."

In his first speech as minister for universities and science, David Willetts seemed to agree: "I'm all in favour of curiosity-driven research whose applications may take time to emerge, if at all … Too often, politicians have taken the economic value which flows from much academic research and then treated it as the only possible motive for the research. I am not going to make that mistake … I have doubts about the impact agenda."

Most practising scientists hold these truths to be self-evident. The discoveries and innovations that have had the biggest impact on industry – quantum mechanics, the structure of DNA, or the world wide web, for example – were all products of basic research. Nanotechnology, one of the government's favourite activities, was the brainchild of theoretical particle physicist Richard Feynman.

Most of these commercial applications were completely unpredictable. Serendipity is the norm not the exception in great discovery and sacrificing basic science on the altar of commerce is killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

So we are all agreed, then? Er, actually, no. Britain's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has rejected academic excellence as the sole criterion in science funding and adopted just this kind of "impact" agenda, requiring grant proposals "to clearly identify the national importance of the proposed research project over a 10- to 50-year timeframe".

"Our 2010 Strategic Plan, endorsed by leading members of our research and business communities, is driving and accelerating our change agenda as we take a more proactive role in shaping research and training to meet national need.''

According to its chairman, Sir John Armitt, the purpose of the EPSRC is " … to make sure that we are supporting those things that industry says it needs but which industry itself is not willing to fund".

Leaving aside his apparent disagreement with David Willetts on the nature of scientific enquiry, does Sir John believe that Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web because industry told him they needed it (but didn't want to pay)? Surely, the mark of a truly groundbreaking discovery is that no one knew beforehand how useful it would be?

This EPSRC policy, called Shaping Capability, stands in sharp contrast to that of the European Research Council, whose president Helga Nowotny said in a recent speech:

"One answer is to target resources … to look to strategic sectors, to put science to work on the most pressing problems. It all looks so easy, so obvious," she said. "But frontier science does not work like this. We cannot programme scientific breakthroughs or order them from a menu … We can't foresee the consequences of what we discover."

Since the historical evidence suggests that the UK economy and society in general would benefit most by investing in the brightest scientific minds and letting their imaginations wander, and since the S in their name stands for science, I asked the EPSRC whether its claim to the contrary was part of evidence-based policy or policy-based evidence. They replied:

"The evidence for the appropriateness of the strategy comes from the collective input, discussion and decisions of EPSRC council and the council's advisory bodies. The individuals on these bodies all have significant experience and have been appointed for their ability to take make strategic judgements.''

One of these EPSRC council members and "Impact Champion" is TV personality Lord Robert Winston, professor of science and society at my own university, Imperial College London. He recently wrote an article in the Observer on the marvels of Einstein's general theory of relativity. After all, this is not merely one of the greatest intellectual achievements of the 20th century, it is used daily in GPS technology.

What a pity then that bureaucrats at EPSRC headquarters in Swindon are rejecting, without peer review, grant proposals in this area of theoretical physics because it is not in the national interest. Last year, in fact, they disregarded the panel recommendations of their own International Review on Mathematical Sciences and eliminated mathematical physics completely from their portfolio without any consultation with the community.

After much protest, it was restored on the EPSRC webpage but without its previous definition as "theoretical physics with a significant mathematical content". When I asked about this change of policy, I was told there had been no change of policy: mathematical sciences never did fund theoretical physics! As in the former Soviet Union, the past in Swindon is very unpredictable.

The "shaping capability" policy of having non-scientists trying to pick winners and constraining researchers with the straitjacket of "impact" and "national interests" is neither good science nor good economics. New Scientist recently ran a cover story on the practical impact of theoretical physics called "Seven equations that rule your world''. By my reckoning, under its current policies, the non-scientists at the EPSRC would have prevented six of them from ever reaching peer review.

This just in (28 March): EPSRC has announced it is maintaining funding for 10 out the 11 subthemes in the mathematical sciences and reducing it for the other one. Of these 11, only one, mathematical physics, was rated "excellent" for international profile/standing by EPSRC in 2009. This is the one they cut.


Professor Michael Duff
is a Theoretical Physicist
at Imperial College London




PHOTOS: Émile Michel Cioran 1911-1995
(jeune et plus agé)
+ Un écrit
+ La Tombe de Cioran au Cimetière de



Philosophe occidental
Époque contemporaine

Emile Michel Cioran, né le 8 avril 1911 à Rășinari en Roumanie, et mort le 20 juin 1995 à Paris, est un philosophe et écrivain roumain, d'expression roumaine initialement, puis française à partir de 1949.

Il est interdit de séjour dans son pays d'origine à partir de 1946, pendant le régime communiste.

Bien qu'ayant vécu la majeure partie de sa vie en France, il n'a jamais demandé la nationalité française.
Il a parfois signé sous le nom de « E. M. Cioran.

Jeunesse et période roumaine
Cioran naît d'un père pope orthodoxe et d'une mère athée.
Après quelques années de vie heureuse à Rășinari, petit village de Transylvanie, alors en Autriche-Hongrie, Cioran est traumatisé par un déménagement vers Sibiu, ville proche du village.

Son compatriote Lucian Blaga, philosophe de la culture, a aussi décrit le rôle matriciel que pouvait avoir un village roumain.
Ce choc, ainsi que les relations difficiles avec sa mère et les nombreuses insomnies dont il souffre durant sa jeunesse, façonnent rapidement sa vision pessimiste du monde et le font penser au suicide.

Il a sept ans lorsque la Transylvanie rejoint la Roumanie.
Il fait des études de philosophie à l’université de Bucarest dès l’âge de 17 ans. Ses premiers travaux portent sur Kant, Schopenhauer et, particulièrement, Nietzsche.

Il obtient sa licence en 1932, après avoir terminé une thèse sur Bergson, dont Cioran rejettera plus tard la philosophie, jugeant qu'il n'a pas compris la tragédie de la vie.

En 1933, il va à l'université de Berlin.

À 22 ans, il publie "Sur les cimes du désespoir", son premier ouvrage, avec lequel il est inscrit, malgré son jeune âge, son nom au panthéon des grands écrivains roumains.

Après deux années de formation à Berlin, il rentre en Roumanie, où il devient professeur de philosophie au lycée Andrei-Șaguna de Brașov pendant l'année scolaire 1936-1937.

Comme toute sa génération, il assiste, en compagnie de Mircea Eliade, à l'ascension du mouvement fasciste et antisémite de la Garde de Fer, combattu par les armes par la police du régime parlementaire.
Une ambiance de guerre civile règne dans le pays, nationalistes xénophobes ultra-chrétiens d'un côté (la Garde de Fer elle-même s'affiche comme chrétienne), laïcs démocrates de l'autre.

Les premiers font appel aux anciennes traditions roumaines, aux valeurs de la paysannerie longtemps opprimée par les Empires étrangers voisins; les seconds s'inspirent des valeurs de l'Occident.

En 1936, Cioran publie "La Transfiguration de la Roumanie" (Schimbarea la față a României), où il développe une pensée passablement influencée par les thèses de la Garde de Fer (qui, à ce moment, n'a encore assassiné personne, et a une aura de martyre patriotique, car la police tire sans sommation sur ses rassemblements.

Il écrit : «Les Hongrois nous haïssent de loin tandis que les Juifs nous haïssent au cœur même de notre société » et «Le Juif n’est pas notre semblable, notre prochain, et, quelle que soit l’intimité entretenue avec lui, un gouffre nous sépare».

Bien plus tard, il biffera ces passages pour l'édition française.

En 1937, la publication de son troisième ouvrage, "Des larmes et des saints", fait scandale dans son pays.

C'est alors le debut de sa Période française.

Arrivé en France à la fin de cette année 1937 comme boursier de l'Institut français de Bucarest, il ne reviendra jamais en Roumanie où, pour lutter plus fermement contre la Garde de Fer, le roi Carol II instaure un régime autoritaire, faisant arrêter et exécuter Corneliu Codreanu (le fondateur de la Garde de Fer), et où les «légionnaires» (comme se font appeler ses membres) commencent à assassiner des ministres, des professeurs, des banquiers, des juifs.

Après l'effondrement de la France qui avait offert sa protection à la Roumanie par le traité du 13 avril 1939, un coup d'État largement favorisé par l'Allemagne nazie renverse Carol II en octobre 1940, et met au pouvoir la Garde de Fer et le Maréchal Antonescu qui s'auto-proclame «Pétain roumain».

La France (du régime Pétain) et la Roumanie (du régime Antonescu) restent alliées... mais dans le camp de l'Axe.
La bourse de Cioran est donc maintenue, il peut rester à Paris pour y terminer sa thèse sur le philosophe Bergson.

Après la soutenance de celle-ci, la bourse s'arrête et il devient un temps Attaché Culturel de l'Ambassade de Roumanie à Paris.

Mais, ne voulant pas se sentir complice des persécutions sanglantes des régimes fascistes, tant en Roumanie qu'en France, il abandonne toute idéologie pour se consacrer exclusivement à l'écriture.
Il est alors fortement influencé par Spengler.

Les communistes qui ont pris le pouvoir en Roumanie à l'issue de la Seconde Guerre mondiale ayant interdit ses livres, il reste à Paris jusqu'à la fin de son existence, vivant assez pauvrement, rédigeant dorénavant ses ouvrages en français, tout en traduisant par ailleurs les poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé en roumain.
Il y est entouré par des penseurs et des écrivains tels que Eugène Ionesco, Mircea Eliade, Samuel Beckett, Henri Michaux ou Gabriel Marcel, et par quelques lecteurs fervents, mais peu nombreux.

Refusant les honneurs, il décline entre autres le prix Morand décerné par l'Académie française.
Son œuvre, essentiellement composée de recueils d'aphorismes, marquée par l'ascétisme et l'humour, connaît un succès grandissant.
En retour, il entretient des rapports ambivalents avec le «succès» :
«J'ai connu toutes les formes de déchéance, y compris le succès.»

Après la guerre, il écrit toute une partie de son œuvre en français, abandonnant totalement sa langue maternelle, le roumain :
« En français, on ne devient pas fou », allusion aux dérives de la littérature roumaine dès avant, mais surtout après l'instauration à partir de 1938 de régimes dictatoriaux successifs, qui tentent de transformer tout acte créateur en une louange à la tyrannie, d'abord royale, ensuite fasciste, et pour finir communiste.

L'œuvre de Cioran, ironique et apocalyptique, est marquée du sceau du pessimisme, du scepticisme et de la désillusion.

En 1973, Cioran publie son œuvre la plus marquante: "De l'inconvénient d'être né".

En 1987, il publie son ultime ouvrage, "Aveux et anathèmes", avant de mourir, huit années plus tard, en 1995 de la maladie d'Alzheimer sans avoir mis à exécution son projet de suicide.

L'œuvre de Cioran comporte des recueils d'aphorismes, ironiques, sceptiques et percutants, tel "De l'inconvénient d'être né" ou "Syllogismes de l'amertume" qui forment ses œuvres les plus connues, mais on peut aussi y trouver des textes plus longs et plus détaillés.

D'une façon générale, l'œuvre de Cioran est marquée par son refus de tout système philosophique.
Son scepticisme est probablement son caractère le plus marquant, bien plus que son pessimisme.

Cioran, dont les écrits sont assez sombres, est un homme de très bonne compagnie, plutôt gai. Il déclare avoir passé sa vie à recommander le suicide par écrit, et à le déconseiller en paroles, car dans le premier cas cela relève du monde des idées, alors que dans le second il a en face de lui un être de chair et de sang.

Tout en conseillant et déconseillant le suicide, il affirme qu'il existe une supériorité de la vie face à la mort : celle de l'incertitude.

La vie, la grande inconnue, n'est fondée sur rien de compréhensible, et ne donne pas l'ombre d'un argument.

Au contraire, la mort, elle, est claire et certaine.

D'après Cioran, seul le mystère de la vie est une raison de vivre.

On peut accuser Cioran d'avoir pris dans ses écrits une « pose » de désespoir, mais il semble avoir été profondément et sincèrement triste de n'avoir pu établir de système qui donnerait un sens à sa vie, alors même que dans sa jeunesse il avait été extrêmement passionné.... mais dans l'erreur (cf. "Les Cimes du Désespoir").

Le cheminement littéraire de Cioran et son trajet spirituel ont, semble-t-il, trois points de repère majeurs (selon Liliana Nicorescu) :
« la tentation d'exister », la tentation d'être Roumain, et la tentation d'être juif.
Ni sa roumanité réfutée ni sa judéité manquée ne pouvaient lui offrir la moindre consolation pour l'humiliation, pour «l'inconvénient d'être né».

Le salut par l'esthétique
Confronté à la pensée de la lucidité, au reniement permanent, Cioran trouve un sursis dans la voie esthétique.
Il reprend clairement le thème de l'illusion vitale (Nietzsche).
L'attention au style de son écriture, le goût prononcé pour la prose et les aphorismes deviennent, par exemple, des moteurs assurant sa vitalité.

Il s'éloigne des idées, perdant parfois son lecteur, ou plutôt l'obligeant à ne pas tout comprendre.

La poésie devient autant un moyen de traduire sa pensée qu'un remède temporaire face à la lucidité :
« Elle a –comme la vie– l'excuse de ne rien prouver. »

Tentative qu'il juge honteuse, trop vivifiante, détestable parfois, Cioran s'y laisse pourtant conduire.
Il accepte ce paradoxe de sa pensée, comme d'autres.

Lucide, il perçoit aussi l'imposture du nihiliste qui est encore vivant :
« Exister équivaut à un acte de foi, à une protestation contre la vérité ».

Si Cioran doit survivre aux vérités irrespirables, s'il est donc obligé de croire en quelque chose, il choisit délibérément l'art, l'illusion reine.

Pour échapper à la mort et au vide, qu'il entrevoit autour de lui, comme une «porte de secours», il choisit l'écriture.
Semblable à la figure moderne de l'artiste maudit, auteur peu lu et presque inconnu de son vivant –malgré l'estime du milieu littéraire– Cioran continuera inlassablement d'écrire.

Sa philosophie est une «philosophie du voyeur», car, peut-être, esthétiquement salvatrice, selon la définition de Rossano Pecoraro dans 'La filosofia del voyeur'.
"Estasi e Scritura in Emile Cioran".


À Paris, Cioran vécut d'abord à l'hôtel Marignan, au 13 de la rue Du Sommerard, dans le 5e arrondissement.

C'est dans le quartier latin et le quartier de La Sorbonne qu'il va rester jusqu'à sa mort.
Dans ses écrits, il relate ses longues nuits de solitude et d'insomnies, dans de minuscules chambres d'hôtel et ses déambulations dans la nuit.

Puis plus tard, ses chambres de bonne, unique tour d'ivoire pendant de longues années.
Il reste pauvre, décidé à «ne jamais travailler autrement que la plume à la main».
Alors il se promène simplement au jardin du Luxembourg.
Il bénéficie parfois de l'aide matérielle de rares amis, mais prend ses repas au restaurant universitaire, dont l'exclusion vers l'âge de 40 ans est l'un des moments les plus tragiques de son existence.

Ces détails sur son quotidien traversent son œuvre et son discours.
Mais Cioran n'explore nullement l'aspect sordide dans cette condition.
Il décrit simplement une sorte de cheminement ou de combat, qui s'établit autant dans ses écrits que dans son existence: un «état d'esprit».

Pour Cioran, il ne s'agit plus seulement de savoir –à l'identique du professeur d'université– mais surtout de sentir.

Dans la solitude, le dénuement matériel et son retrait des divertissements modernes s'établit alors une démarche philosophique —spirituelle— comparable aux ascétismes prônés par le bouddhisme, les Cyniques ou Diogène de Sinope.

Le mythe Cioran
Si Cioran vécut véritablement la plus grande partie de son existence modestement, cet autoportrait de solitaire et désespéré qu'il dresse dans ses livres ne correspond pas entièrement à l'écrivain; c'est plutôt là le mythe Cioran, le personnage des livres.

Mais parler de «pose» dans le désespoir serait inexact.
Cioran cherche la sincérité dans ses textes, c’est-à-dire l'adéquation de son discours avec son existence, et critique vivement les auteurs de discours moralistes menant par ailleurs une existence immorale, tels ces membres du PCF parisien qui prônent la dictature du prolétaria » mais vivent très bourgeoisement et défendent bec et ongles leurs propriétés intellectuelles ou matérielles.

Il dira ne vouloir garder secrète que sa vie privée :
Sa vie amoureuse, la part heureuse et optimiste de son existence.
Car «le bonheur n'est pas fait pour les livres», expliquait-il.

Se tenant à l'écart du milieu universitaire et littéraire parisien, il eut néanmoins quelques amis intimes avec qui il aimait converser: Mircea Eliade, Eugène Ionesco, Samuel Beckett, Constantin Tacou, Fernando Savater, Gabriel Matzneff, Frédérick Tristan, Roland Jaccard, Vincent La Soudière.

Critiques et Opinions
Bien que l'œuvre de Cioran ne semble pas sujette à une controverse particulière et qu'elle bénéficie d'une notable acceptation dans les médias, peut-être due à un effet de mode depuis sa redécouverte récente, la sincérité de Cioran lui-même a parfois été controversée, soit en raison de ses opinions de jeunesse, soit parce qu'il fut accusé d'être un « poseur ».

Si son nom reste assez connu, son œuvre, elle, reste le plus souvent ignorée, sans critique commentée, dans les débats littéraires et philosophiques actuels.

Le grand public la jugera souvent pessimiste, voire morbide.

On peut dégager parfois une critique contre l'excès stylistique ou le classicisme de son écriture, qui compromettraient la diffusion des idées: cela est peut-être dû au fait qu'il n'est pas francophone de naissance, et qu'il a appris le français d'abord dans les livres.

Des critiques y ont vu un manque de profondeur dans sa recherche philosophique, dans la mesure où Cioran reprend des idées nietzschéennes et bergsoniennes, en les illustrant simplement.


Cioran refusa tous les prix littéraires (Sainte-Beuve, Combat, Nimier, Morand, etc.) à l'exception du prix Rivarol en 1949, ....acceptation qu'il justifia par un besoin financier.

En 1940, place Saint-Michel, il «faillit être la première victime» de l'entrée des Allemands dans Paris, parce qu'il lançait des paquets de cigarettes à un convoi de prisonniers français.

Invité dans une université américaine, et présenté comme l'égal des plus grands philosophes, il déclara inquiet: «Mais je ne suis qu'un plaisantin!»

------- (Les six premiers titres parurent initialement en roumain) :

"Sur les cimes du désespoir" (1934)
"Le Livre des leurres" (1936)
"Transfiguration de la Roumanie" (1936), traduit du roumain par Alain Paruit (Éditions de L’Herne 2009), 343 p.
"Des larmes et des saints" (1937)
"Le Crépuscule des pensées" (1940)
"Bréviaire des vaincus" (1944)

"Précis de décomposition" (1949)
"Syllogismes de l'amertume" (1952)
"La Tentation d'exister" (1956)
"Histoire et Utopie" (1960)
"La Chute dans le temps" (1964)
"Le Mauvais Démiurge" (1969)
"Valéry face à ses idoles" (1970), 78 p.
"De l'inconvénient d'être né" (1973), 243 p.
"Essai sur la pensée réactionnaire. À propos de Joseph de Maistre" (1977),
"Fata Morgana" (d'abord publié comme préface d'un recueil de textes de Joseph de Maistre en 1957 aux éditions du Rocher), 78 p.
"Écartèlement" (1979), 178 p.
"Ébauches de vertige" (1979), 126 p.
"Face aux instants" (L'Ire des vents, 1985), 28 p.
"Exercices d'admiration" (Gallimard-Arcades 1986), 224 p.
Aveux et Anathèmes (Gallimard-Arcades 1987), 154 p.
"L'Ami lointain: Paris, Bucarest" (Criterion, 1991), 76 p.
"Entretiens" (Gallimard-Arcades 1995), 319 p.
"Œuvres" (Gallimard-Quarto 1995), 1818 p.
"Cahiers,1957-1972" (Gallimard 1997), 998 p.
"Cahier de Talamanca" (Mercure de France 2000), 57 p.
"Solitude et destin" (Gallimard-Arcades 2004), 434 p.
"Exercices négatifs: En marge du précis de décomposition" (Gallimard 2005), 227 p.
"De la France", traduit du roumain par Alain Paruit (Éditions de L’Herne 2009), 94 p.
"Bréviaire des vaincus II", traduit du roumain par Gina Puicǎ et Vincent Piednoir (Éditions de L’Herne 2011), 116 p.
"Lettres 1961-1978", préfacé et annoté par Vincent Piednoir (Éditions de L’Herne 2011), 386 p.
"Œuvres" (Gallimard-Bibliothèque de la Pléiade 2011), 1658 p.

Après la mort de Simone Boué, une série de manuscrits (environ 30 cahiers) écrits par Cioran ont été récupérés lors du débarras de l'appartement.
Ils contiennent en particulier tous les cahiers de son journal à partir de 1972, soit l'année où les Cahiers déjà publiés s'arrêtent.

Alors qu'ils allaient être vendus aux enchères à Drouot, en décembre 2005, la chancellerie des universités de Paris a réussi à bloquer la vente et à réclamer dans la foulée la restitution de ces cahiers censés lui revenir en raison du legs fait par la «veuve» de l'écrivain.
Le 14 mars 2011 cependant, la cour d'appel de Paris a confirmé que la brocanteuse qui était à l'origine de la découverte des manuscrits en était la légitime propriétaire.

Un homme d'affaires roumain a acquis les manuscrits qui ont été mis aux enchères à la veille du centenaire de Cioran, le 7 avril 2011 et en a fait don à L'Académie Roumaine[.


Études E.M. Cioran & M. Sora, Cioran jadis et naguère.
Entretien à Tübingen, Éditions de l'Herne, 1988, 104 p.

Sylvie Jaudeau, Cioran ou le dernier homme, Éditions José Corti, (1990, éd. rev en 2001), 224 p.
Michel Onfray, Cynismes. Portrait du philosophe en chien, Éditions Grasset, 1990, p.213
Gabriel Liiceanu, Itinéraires d'une vie: E.M. Cioran et Les Continents de l'insomnie, Éditions Michalon, 1995, 143 p.
Norbert Dodille et Gabriel Liiceanu, Lectures de Cioran, Éditions L'Harmattan, 1997, 108 p.
Patrice Bollon, Cioran, l'hérétique, Éditions Gallimard, 1997, 307 p.
Rossano Pecoraro, La Filosofia del voyeur. Estasi e scritura in Emile Cioran, Il Sapere, 1998
Joan M. Marín, E.M. Cioran, l'escriptura de la llum i el desencant, València, 7 i mig, 1999
Joan M. Marín, Cioran o el laberinto de la fatalidad, València, Ed. Alfons el Magnànim, 2001
Nicole Parfait , Cioran ou le défi de l’être, Paris, Éditions Desjonquères (La mesure des choses), 2001
Armel Guerne, Lettres de Guerne à Cioran, 1955-1978, Éditions Le Capucin, 2001
George Bălan (avant-propos et chronologie de Alain Cophignon), Emil Cioran. La lucidité libératrice?, Éditions Josette Lyon, 2002 [avec trois lettres inédites de Cioran à l'auteur], 234 p.
Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine, Cioran, Eliade, Ionesco. L'oubli du fascisme, Presses universitaires de France, 2002
Ion Vartic, Cioran naiv și sentimental, Cluj, Biblioteca Apostrof, 2002 (en espagnol : Cioran ingenuo y sentimental, traduction Francisco Javier Marina, Zaragoza, Mira Editores, 2009)
Simona Modreanu, Le Dieu paradoxal de Cioran, Éditions du Rocher, 2003
Rossano Pecoraro, A filosofia negativa de Cioran, "O que nos faz pensar", 2003
Nancy Huston, Professeurs de désespoir, Éditions Actes Sud, 2004
Rossano Pecoraro, Cioran, a filosofia em chamas, Porto Alegre, EDIPUCRS, 2004
Giovanni Rotiroti, Il demone della lucidità. Il «caso Cioran» tra psicanalisi e filosofia, Soveria Mannelli, Catanzaro, Rubbettino, 2005
Roland Jaccard, Cioran et compagnie, Presses Universitaires de France, 2005
Nicolas Cavaillès, Le Corrupteur corrompu : Barbarie et méthode de l'écriture de Cioran, Éditions Le Manuscrit, 2005
Sylvain David, Cioran. Un héroïsme à rebours, Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 2006
Aymen Hacen, Le Gai Désespoir de Cioran, (essai sur le tragique en littérature), éd. Miskiliani, Tunis, Tunisie, 2007
Jean-Philippe Robert, Cioran : Pyrrhon des temps modernes, mémoire de DEA Philosophie-Histoire des Idées, université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, ss la dir. de C. Rosset, 1998
Ciprian Valcan, La concurrence des influences culturelles françaises et allemandes dans l'œuvre de Cioran, București, ICR, 2008
Marius Dobre, Certitudinile unui sceptic - Emil Cioran, Bucarest, Editura Trei, 2008
Cahier Cioran, Éditions de L'Herne, n° 90, dirigé par Laurence Tacou et Vincent Piednoir, 2009
Abad Alfredo, Herrera Liliana, Cioran en Perspectivas, Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira. Colombia, 2009.
· Stéphane Barsacq, Cioran, éjaculations mystiques, Le Seuil, 2011.
· Sous la direction de Pierre-Emmanuel Dauzat et Yun-Sun Limet, Cioran et ses contemporains, collectif, Pierre-Guillaume de Roux, 2011.

· Emile Cioran : Un siècle d'écrivains- France 3
· Notes et références «E.M. Cioran» pour le nom de plume «Émil Michel Cioran»
2.↑ Catherine Durandin, Histoire des Roumains, Fayard, p. 272 à 280 et 309 à 311.
3.↑ Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine, Cioran, Eliade, Ionesco - l'oubli du fascisme, p. 161, PUF, 2002.
4.↑ Michaël Finkelsthal, Cahiers Benjamin Fondane, n° 6, 2003
5.↑ Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine, Cioran, Eliade, Ionesco - l'oubli du fascisme, p. 502, PUF, 2002
6.↑ Cioran raconta qu'étudiant en Allemagne, il prit ses distances avec la fureur nazie en se réfugiant dans « l'étude du bouddhisme » (Entretien à Tubingen)
7.↑ Dans ses écrits, Cioran fait souvent allusion à l'exemplarité des Cyniques : Antisthène et surtout Diogène.
8.↑ La nouvelle [archive] et des détails [archive]

Voir aussi: Emil Cioran, sur Wikiquote
Articles connexes

Concepts se retrouvant sous la plume de Cioran :
Suicide et philosophie
Philosophes au style apparenté, ou admirés par Cioran
Arthur Schopenhauer
Friedrich Nietzsche
Joseph Joubert
La Rochefoucauld
Oswald Spengler

Liens externes:

Catégorie Emil Cioran de l’annuaire dmoz site inter-europeen de resources

Portail de la littérature
Portail de la Roumanie Portail de la philosophie
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012





"Certain stylistic devices feature prominently in Chinese poetry, including allusion, imagery, parallelism and stylized language."

From "Chinese Love Poetry"
A book edited by Jane Portal,(The British Museum)




The following is "A Study of: Tao Yuanming's Nature Poetry"
By Angela Jung Palandri
Journal of Chinese Philosophy
V. 15 (1988) pp. 97-121
Copyright 1988 by Dialogue Publishing Company,
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.


In the intellectual history of China, two philosophical schools, Taoism and Confucianism, predominated up to the twentieth century.

Although these two rival philosophies contended for supremacy, each served, jointly or separately, as a basic mode of Chinese thinking, which would in turn form the infra- and supra-structures of traditional Chinese society.

Though divergent in their approach and methods of application, the followers of both Confucius and Lao Tzu, set as their ultimate goal the attainment of the Tao, an elusive term that defies exact translation.

"The Tao that can be defined is not the eternal Tao, warned Lao Tzu, the acknowledged founder of Taoism.

For practical purposes the word is usually translated as "the way," "the path," or "the road."
By extension, it has come to mean the norm (in the Platonic sense), the moral principles, Truth, or Nature.

To Confucianists, the Tao stands for an abstract principle in the realm of ethics, applicable to human behavior and human relationships.
More concretely stated, a man can become an ideal moral being, if the moral law is implemented by education and by adherence to a set structure of duties, rites, and observances.

The Taoist, on the other hand, believes that man's spirit is free and that it must be allowed to grow and expand spontaneously, to live in harmony with nature where all things are equal.
In the Taoist view, to cultivate goodness in man through academic learning and socially imposed rules and conventions is to restrict him to superficial human values, which are material and temporal, and to strip him of his primordial purity and simplicity.

The earliest literature on the Tao is the Lao-tzu, traditionally attributed to Lao Tzu, a semi-legendary figure supposed to be a contemporary of Confucius (551-479 B.C.).
Although highly cryptic, it remains the uncontested authority for orthodox Taoist philosophy.
The second most important of the Taoist writings is the Chuang-tzu, named after
the honorific title of its author, Chuang Chou.

According to Arthur Waley, in his Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China, Chuang Tzu "can be understood by anyone who knows how to read poetry."
Indeed, the Chuang-tzu is read today more for its literary qualities than for its metaphysics, because it is highly imaginative, and full of rich symbols, imagery, and paradox.

What little we know of Chuang Tzu is found in the Shih-chi (Historical Records) of Szu-ma Ch'ien, from which we learn that he was a native of Sung, born during the last part of the fourth century B.C. and thus a contemporary of Mencius.
Even though he was sought by the rulers of Ch'i and Ch'u to assist them in governing, he never served them in any official capacity.

He spent his time in teaching and writing, content to live poor but independent. Chuang Tzu's philosophy has had little impact on the social and political systems of China, but his influence on Chinese literature, especially on nature poetry, has been immeasurable.

In the introduction to his translation of Chinese poetry, "Images of Jade", Arthur Christy observes:
Nature, the Universe, is the Chinese poet's field.
Here he exercises the widest liberty in indulging his passion for the things which please his fancy.
And what he produces is not primitive or elemental in feeling, nor is it a mere enjoyment of the sensuous. If a comparison may be permitted, he is more Wordsworthian than Keatsian.

His poetry is a chastened and subdued product of reflection, for he regards Nature not merely as a physical phenomenon, with sensuously enjoyable qualities, but as animating soul which is in intimate relation with life itself.
For him spirit interprets matter. He is a thorough-going mystic.
He is not satisfied merely with a faithful representation of presentation in his art of what he sees and feels, although he does this extremely well.
His desire in to render Nature's more subtle and essential aspects, for in them he believes he finds the way towards an appreciation of the Law of our being and the universe as a whole.



Among the numerous nature poets in China, T'ao Yuan-ming, also known as T'ao Ch'ien (365-427 A.D.), comes closest to the above description.

The earliest recognized and the most admired of all Chinese nature poets, T'ao Yuan-ming also had a great affinity with the English Romantic poet, Wordsworth (1770-1850).
Granted that the two are separated by time and space, and are products of their own environments and their own philosophical traditions, their poetic inspirations, however, seem to have been derived from the same source: Nature.
And Nature plays a major role in both their lives and their poetry.

Wordsworth's concept of nature can be traced to Rousseau's idea of primitivism, with the elevation of the "Noble Savage" and the belief that man's heart and actions are basically good, until he is tainted or corrupted by civilization, which then causes him to become crafty and devious through imitation or education.

T'ao Yuan-ming perceives nature through the vision embodied in Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu, in which nature is equated to the primordial power of creation.
If anything, it is close to the Natura Naturans of Spinoza, who, also believes that all things are determined in Nature, which he conceives to be infinite and unified.

"Instead of maintaining that God is like man magnified to infinity, who has absolute, irresponsible control of a Universe which is external to him," observes Joseph Ratner, author of The Introduction to the Philosophy of Spinoza, "Spinoza maintains that God is identical with the Universe and muse be and act according to eternal and necessary laws."
In this sense, Spinoza is also a Taoist at heart in observing that God is Nature, or that God, Nature or substance is one.

For in the final analysis, Spinoza's Natura Naturan and Natura Naturata are ultimately one.

But Chuang Tzu seems to go one step further when he implies that man's freedom can be gained only by transcending one's self and by becoming one with Nature as he voices in the following paradox:
"The perfect man has no self: the holy man has no merit; the Sage has no fame."

It was in pursuit of this kind of vision that T'ao Yuan-ming renounced public life and returned to his farm, that is, to nature.
The "return to nature" served as a turning point in T'ao Yuan-ming's life and in his poetry.
He wrote several poems to justify, exalt, and commemorate the occasion, which possibly happened in 405 A.D.
In the first section of a long poem entitled "Returning to My Farm," he confesses:

In my youth I was out of tune with the world of man.
My nature inclined me to mountains and streams.
By mistake I fell into the web of the dusty world.
And thirty years of my life have been wasted.

The captive bird longs for its home in the grove.
The fish in the tank craves for its former abode.
So I have cleaned up the wilderness south of the village;
Remaining rustic, I have returned to my farms.

Elms and willows lend shades to my rear eaves;
Peach and plum trees decorate my front hall.
Distance blurs the village from sight,
Wrapt in mist and smoke rising from the chimneys.
Dogs bark in the narrow lanes;
Cocks crow atop the mulberry trees.
No dust or turmoil in this homestead;
Plenty of freedom in the unadorned rooms.
Long, long was I confined in a cage;
Now I have returned to nature once more.

The same return-to-nature theme is further repeated in a fu (a prose poem) bearing a similar title, "Returning Home" ("Kuei-ch'iu lai- hsi" , which is prefaced by an introductory note that reads in part:
I was poor, and what I got from fanning was not enough to support my family. The house was full of children, the rice jar was empty, and I could not see any way to supply the necessities of life... P'eng-tse was only thirty miles from my native place, and the yield of the fields assigned the magistrate was sufficient to keep me in wine, so I applied for the office. Before many days had passed, I longed to give up and go back home.

Why, you may ask. Because my instinct is all for freedom, and will not brook discipline and restraint.
Hunger and cold may be sharp, but this going against myself really sickens me. Whenever I have been involved in official life I was mortgaging myself to my mouth and belly and the realization of this greatly upset me...

The ensuing long poem in sixty lines of irregular meter that follows expresses the poet's elation and irrepressible joy at the free, rustic, and simple life after the return:

Every day I stroll in the garden for pleasure,
There is a gate there, but it is always shut.
Cane in hand I walk and rest
Occasionally raising my head to gaze into the distance.
The clouds aimlessly rise from the peaks,
The birds, weary of flying, know it is time to come home.
As the sun's rays grow dim and disappear from view
I walk around a lonely pine tree, stroking it.

Back home again!
May my friendships be broken off and my wandering
come to an end.
The world and I shall have nothing more to do
with one another...

I admire the seasonableness of nature
And am moved to think that my life will come to its close
I have no desire for riches
And no expectation of Heaven.
Rather on some fine morning to walk alone
Now planting my staff to take up a hoe,
Or climbing the east hill and whistling long
Or composing verses besides the clear stream:
So I manage to accept my lot until the ultimate home coming.
Rejoicing in Heaven's command, what is there to doubt?


Although T'ao Yuan-ming tells us that he is fond of nature by inclination, we sense that his joy in nature is heightened after his disillusionment with public life during a period when China was occupied by alien tribes in the north, and was rift apart by the civil strife and political corruption of the government in the south.

Coincidentally, Wordsworth, too, took refuge in nature and chose the life of a recluse at Dove Cottage, Grasmere, after he became disillusioned with the French Revolution.
His long, autobiographical poem entitled "The Prelude" (written between 1798 and 1805, but not published until his death in 1850) remotely echoes the sentiments of the fifth-century Chinese poet in these lines:

Oh there is blessing in this gentle breeze,
A visitant that while it fans my cheek
Doth seem half-conscious of the joy it brings
From the green fields, and from yon azure sky.
Whate'er its mission, the soft breeze can come
To none more grateful than to me; escaped
From the vast city, where I long had pined
A discontented sojourner: now free,
Free as a bird to settle where I will.

Note also how similar in feeling and tone with T'ao Yuan-ming is Wordsworth's poem :

"Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey"
.. Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Though of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
Those plots of cottage-grounds, these orchard-tufts.
Which at this season, with their upripe fruits,
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
'Mid groves and copses. Once again I see
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees.

The landscapes of the nineteenth-century English countryside could not possibly have been identical with the countryside of fifth century China, but one cannot fail to see the similarities in description, in the exuberance that both poets derive from their respective natural elements.

Further on in the same poem, Wordsworth grows into a more reflective mood and rises to a more elevated thought, which could well have been that of the Chinese poet:

... For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing often times
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, and objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things...

In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my mortal being.


Although less explicit and low-key in expression, T'ao Yuan-ming finds both pleasure and sustenance in the nature that surrounds him in all seasons, whether he is well provided for or destitute. In the two poems written in response to Secretary Kuo, a former colleague of the poet, who might earlier have questioned T'ao Yuan-ming's wisdom in choosing early retirement from public life, or sympathized with his present humble condition (we have no way of determining which, since we do not have Kuo's writing), T'ao Yuan-ming describes the rather cheerful condition of his rustic life:

Luxuriant are the trees in front of the hall;
In mid-summer they offer cool shade.
The seasonal south wind arrives on time.
How refreshing it blows through my open lapel.
In retirement I am engaged only in leisure:
I amuse myself with books and music, free to rise or to rest.

My vegetable garden yields plenty for the table;
The rice bin still contains last year's grain.
There is a limit to what one needs;
Having more than enough is not my plan.
With sorghum I have made wine in spring.
Now that it is ripe, I pour myself a cup or two.
My little child frolicking by my side
Is trying to make intelligible sound.
In all these I have found genuine delight
Which helps me to forget honor and rank.
As I gaze at the white clouds in the distance,
The ancients are deep in my thoughts.

Mild and moist were the months of spring;
Cool and clear is the white season of autumn.
Now the dew congeals, no longer drifting mists.
The sky is high, the landscape sharp and clear.
Soaring peaks rise from yonder mountain range --
Seen from here, their lofty beauty is unsurpassed.
Fragrant chrysanthemums deck the woods with splendor;
The green pines stand in rows above the cliff.
I admire their beauteous grandeur,
Elegant and lofty under the frost.
Holding my wine cup, I toast to the mystics
Who once roamed along the pines.
Searching for the essence I have not yet acquired,
Reluctantly I await the rising moon.

Granted, these poems are replete with ambiguous symbols not easily grasped, and thus lend themselves to various interpretations; however, the general tenor and intention of the poems are quite clear.
While the conventional symbols of chrysanthemums and pines could very well stand for the poet's personal integrity and endurance, it seems unlikely that these poems stress T'ao's own moral values.
This can be substantiated by the poet's allusion to the "ancients" in the last line of the first verse, and to the "mystics" in the second verse.
Both seem to refer to the same "ancients" mentioned in the following passage of Chuang-tzu:

The understanding of the men of ancient times went a long way.
How far did it go?
To the point where some of them believed that things have never existed -- so far, to the end, where nothing can be added.

Those at the next stage thought there were boundaries but recognized no right or wrong.
Because right and wrong appeared, the Way was injured, and because the Way was injured, love became complete.
But do such things as completion and injury really exist or do they not?

- Only in this context do the last two lines, which defy the interpretation of many critics, make sense.
It has often been said that T'ao Yuan-ming's poetic language, unlike that of his contemporaries, is simple and unadorned.
This does not mean that he is incapable of expressing profound thought.
However, when his thought verges on mysticism, or his idea grows out of his Taoist vision, words are inadequate for the full expression of the concept.
The reader can either confine himself to appreciating the surface meaning of the poem or he can attempt to read between the lines, and try to grasp its meaning through his intuitive power.

The following poem is a good example of the intrinsic complexity of T'ao's thought behind his deceptively simple expressions:

I have built my cottage amid the realm of men
But I hear no din of horses or carriages.
You might ask. "How is this possible?"
A remote heart creates its own hermitage!
Picking chrysanthemums by the eastern hedge,
I perceive the Southern Mountain in the distance.
Marvelous is the mountain air at sunset!
The flitting birds return home in pairs.
In these things is the essence of truth --
I wish to explain but have lost the words.

The concrete imagery and the realistic description in these lines seem to have such a strong impact on the reader, that he may feel transported from a mundane world into a rare world of beauty and tranquility, momentarily sharing and experiencing the poet's vision.
The juxtaposition of the Southern Mountain (a symbol of immutability) and the chrysanthemums (a symbol of impermanence but recurrence) could, by their contrasting yet harmonious presence, lift the reader out of the existential level to a metaphysical plane of perception approaching to a universal harmony, or an infusion between subject and object.

At the same time, one is kept in touch with the reality of the present -- heightened by the feel of the mountain air and the sight of the birds flying home at sunset.
If this is a subjective and perhaps limited response to the poem, it is because one can hardly find adequate words to explain the full import of that which the poet himself has left unexplained because words have failed him.

The last line of this poem in particular is reminiscent of the first line in chapter one of Lao-tzu which says: "The Tao that can be explained is not the eternal Tao [or Truth]."

However, if one can grasp the Truth through one's intuitive power, there is indeed no need for words, as Chuang-tzu explains:

The fish trap exists because of the fish; once you've gotten the fish, you can forget the trap.
The rabbit snare exists because of the rabbit, once you've gotten the rabbit, you can forget the snare.
Words exist because of the meaning; once you've gotten the meaning, you can forget the words.
Where can I find a man who has forgotten words so I can have a word with him?

Could the truth that T'ao Yuan-ming tries to convey in his poem be inherent in the innocence and glory of "the new-born blesses" that Wordsworth writes about in Stanza VIII of his "Intimations of Immortality":

Thou, whose exterior semblance does belie the Soul's immensity;
Thou best philosopher, who yet dost keep
Thy heritage, thou Eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent, read'st the eternal deep,
Haunted for ever by the eternal mind, --
Mighty Prophet! Seer blest!
On whom those truth do rest,
Which we are toiling all our lives to find¡

Unlike Wordsworth, T'ao Yuan-ming did not seem to have to "toil" to find the truth, or the Tao, in his life. He simply lived it, by returning to Nature.

Since his resignation from public service, and his rejection of those social values which tied him down, the poet was able to "return home" to his natural habitat, free from all outside pressures or the need to conform, free to follow the dictates of his own nature.
He was content even in adversity with the life he chose to live.

Although he experienced hunger and cold, as he stated in several poems, even to the point of begging for food, as attested to by his poem "Ch'i-shih" ("Begging Food"), he never complained and never lost heart.

But he did not choose the deliberate asceticism practiced by certain Taoist and Buddhist religious sects.
He never denied himself the pleasures of wine whenever he could afford it, he enjoyed family life and the company of his rustic friends and neighbors.

Two-thirds of T'ao Yuanming's extant poems were written after his resignation from the office of P'eng-tse magistrate.
They are a record of his life as a farmer, eking out his livelihood from the soil.

This is where he and Wordsworth part company, because Wordsworth wrote about the humble subject and the rustic, and the hard life of "Michael" or the "Leech Gatherer" purely from a spectator's point of view;

T'ao Yuanming left us with his first-hand experiences and a record of his innermost thoughts and feelings.
Occasionally, T'ao Yuanming brooded upon such ontological questions as life and death.

One representative poem of his philosophical reflections is "Hsing, Ying, Shen" (variously translated as "Substance, Shadow and Spirit," or "Body, Shadow, and Soul"). Of this poem, A. R. Davis comments:

This poem stands out in T'ao's collection as a deliberately "philosophical" poem.

Similar ideas can be found incidentally in other of his poems, but here alone in his surviving work are they developed to the point of dialectical treatment.

The piece, however, remains a poem, a fine poem; it is not a philosophical essay.
It has, therefore, the obliqueness of reference, natural to poetry and the poet's mind.

Although there is in the few words of the preface a slight suggestion of polemic
the expression is strongly personal, and I think that it is wrong to regard it too much as a document in contemporary intellectual controversy...

In a head-note to his poem, T'ao Yuanming gives the following explanation:
"Every one, noble or base, brilliant or dumb, clings tenaciously to life, which is nothing but a delusion.
Therefore, I have given voice to Substance and Shadow to express their grief, and let the Soul or Spirit resolve their problems by following the course of Nature. Those who are concerned with this matter understand my intention."
The poet's intention seems to present at first three different points of view regarding human life and mortality. The source of T'ao Yuanming's philosophical outlook is found in Chuang-tzu:

"Once a man receives this fixed bodily form, he holds onto it, waiting for the end. Sometimes clashing with things, sometimes bending before them, he runs his course like a galloping steed, and nothing can stop him. Is he not pathetic?"

Further on, in the same book one reads:

"Do not be an embodier of fame; do not be a storehouse of schemes; ... do not be a proprietor of wisdom... Hold on to all that you have received Heaven (i.e. Nature) but do not think that you have gotten anything. Be empty, that is all."

T'ao Yuanming, in this poem, makes Substance speak for the hedonistic 'carpe diem concept of indulging in wine, since there is nothing for him to look forward to.

He does not believe in the attainment of immortality as do some of the Taoists of the esoteric religious cults, nor does he believe in the transcendency of inevitable change as preached by the Buddhists of his time.

The Shadow represents the transitory glory of name and fame or moral virtues from the humanist perspective adhered to by most Confucians.
T'ao Yuanming's own philosophy, represented by the Spirit, is that man should follow the course of Nature, which is the essence of Tao. The poem, quoted here in full, is one of the most revealing texts of the poet's philosophical bent:


Shadow to Substance:

Earth and heaven endure forever,
Streams and mountains never change.
Plants observe a constant rhythm,
Withered by frost, by dew restored.
But man, most sentient being of all,
In this is not their equal.
He is present here in the world today,
Then leaves abruptly, to return no more.
No one marks there's one man less --
Not even friends and family think of him;
The things that he once used are all that's left
To catch their eye and move them to grief.
I have no way to transcend change,
That it must be, I no longer doubt.
I hope you will take my advice:
When wine is offered, don't refuse.

No use discussing immortality
When just to keep alive is hard enough.
Of course I want to roam in paradise,
But it's a long way there and the road is lost.
In all the time since I met up with you
We never differed in our grief and joy.
In shade we may have parted for a time,
But sunshine always brings us close again.

Still this union cannot last forever --
Together we will vanish into darkness.
The body goes; that fame should also end
Is a thought that makes me burn inside.
Do good, and your love will outlive you;
Surely this is worth your every effort.
While it is time, wine may dissolve care
That is not so good a way as this.