Holy War

Swiftly he speaks with cutting wit,
And pries their premise from under.
Yet briefly considers his terrific fit,
Still tearing courtesy asunder.
Carries the torch of pious mind,
Pandering judgment and grace.
When finally another of his kind,
Reveals a pugnacious face.
"Fight it!", he thought of whom is called the beast,
Of licentious dragon's teeth.
To slay that monster would be at least,
A righteous and glorious deed.
A deed undarkened the mind to the soul,
And knowing exactly what spirit,
Where from he speaks and ego pulls,
And why the acceptance to hear it.
By Evan Gunn Wilson


A Sinner

Bearing itself in honest dire woe,

Reveals to Him an unrelenting foe,

In sin, using, abused glory’s grace,

Trembled again, repents to find his face.

Whose body did he charge to live anew,

Grown amongst thorns, the pleasures, care returns.

Half turned (a child is still more gracious true),

Guilty mind, but escaping shame that burns.

These lips that honor, praise increases more,

To Him, while it had planned to sin before.

Water stolen is sweeter now, and then

It eats the secret bread in darken’d den.

Controlled its breath, truly it still is mean,

Attempts to fool the God of it unseen.


The Methods and Nature of Ancient History

History is illusive. The reason it is illusive is because we are not there; even if we once were. History is the study of the past, attempting to narrow down the possibilities to one most probable event. But it is only “most probable”, cursing us with doubts against our desire to make a science out of history. In the sciences one is able to test hypotheses and theories, whereas history cannot be referenced, isolated or tested. The only things that a historian has are human accounts (some many degrees removed) and physical evidence subjected to human unpredictability. Consequently, anything and everything about our past could be true or false. Even the myths we read may be truer than we know. Neville Morley, author of Writing Ancient History, said “As historians we are likely to find ourselves emphasizing that the myth offers just one of many possible interpretations of events.”[1] The methods employed are the same as a detective’s methods. There are primary sources or the witnesses and there are secondary sources, which for every degree of removal away from the historic event the source’s credibility is damaged. 

How then are we to approach ancient history? The temporal distance increases every day and we have yet to gather all the data we can; it breaks apart, disintegrates and disappears without our consent. Laodicea remains unexcavated though it promises of new material. Why should it stand still untouched, when there may be a copy of Paul the Apostle’s letter to the Laodicaeans somewhere in the ruins? If there is anything that we can learn from history that we are certain of it is that money is the large driving force. This may be the most difficult thing for a historian to understand; his interest in collecting data is so great that he would be happy to unload millions of dollars to everything he could. Often the historian is not the millionaire. He must get grants or loans to fund a dig. Those who have the ability to give out free money or a loan usually do not share the same delight. One might blame progressivism which seems to suggest that anything new is better than the old, so why waste one’s time rediscovering old obsolete things? Those with money invest in the future. What could possibly convince them otherwise?

 Karl Marx, whether or not one agrees with his social philosophy, did have a bit of sage advice. Paraphrased, he suggested in regards to history that we know where we have been in order to know where to go. To popular society ancient history seems irrelevant to the modern world; it is all too alien. But for the classicist or the historian their desire is like a literary man’s desire to know all he can about Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy; except the presumption is that these cities rising and falling, and the massive armies marching across the country side have or had a reality. When we can derive our cultures, habits, politics, economies and governments from these nations the size of Idaho the curiosity heightens for no other reason than to be aware of the delicacy of the present circumstance. The year 1066 in England holds much to be discussed: what would a Viking ruled England turn out to look like in a hundred years or how would that affect the present year? The big question: how easily could that have come? One method for learning and uncovering ancient history is tracing lineages as far back as one can. One might remember their experience with the exhaustive genealogies in the bible and resent them entirely, but for the historian they serve as a useful thread. That is one of the tasks of the historian. To connect threads and create a story satisfies the desire for an answer; falsification and debunking only come after this fact. Historical nihilism does nothing but falsify, leaving no room for an actual answer. People would rather be wrong about the Greeks than not believe and not have faith in something. Our origins really do end up being that important to us and perhaps rightly so. 

And so, western civilization remains curious since it owes so much to the Greeks and Romans. They gave us the very idea of history. They asked the questions we may never have thought to ask ourselves. How many great civilizations have faded into obscurity all because they did not ask the right questions or take time to write down their histories? We know very little about ancient African civilization because we have very few primary sources. But these histories must occur as stories. This is because our cultures define themselves according to the plot-arch and the moral. Neville Morley mentions that “the Victorians had a very Romantic view of history as progress, where as we tend to see history in more satirical terms, as a succession of events which cannot be understood in terms of any monolithic Grand Narrative.”[2] Morley subjects history to the same structures as literature: Romance, Comedy, Tragedy and Satire. It should be noted as well that the word “history” comes from the Greek historia, which was termed because of the temples upper stories often related a tale, whether it was myth or fact. In other words, story-telling and history are one in the same. 

But whose story? Since historians will often write in one of the four literary genres mentioned by Morley there is an implied agenda. In Mary Beard and John Henderson’s book Classics: A Very Short Introduction, they asked, “Is it fair to judge the Greeks and Romans by our own contemporary moral standards? Or is impossible not to?”[3] There are difficulties in interpretation because everyone has an ego connected to their ancestors. It is blatant in Virgil’s poetry. The Aeneid was a paid venture to represent Caesar Augustus’ lineage in a good, if not great, light. While at the very same time the poet Ovid was mocking and disowning the ancestral gods. These two poets would write vastly different histories. Morley said, “We might take any one of these stories and undermine it, turning it into a satire: a tragic account of the Republic’s demise that ends not with the death of Cicero but with the elevation of his son to the consulship in 30 B.C. or an account of Augustus’ career which emphasizes the gap between his public persona and his actual deeds.”[4] For modern laymen of history, it is usually enjoyable to learn of Rome’s transition from a republic to an Empire because the Pax Romana resembles the Pax Americana; but for a die-hard republican (a term I use vaguely) this is a sorry story. These are some of our baser motives, but one must not presume that these motives will produce the basest product, for even bald face lies contain a little truth. Morley quotes Thucydides saying “people are inclined to accept all stories of ancient times in an uncritical way – even when these stories concern their own native country.”[5] What is your country? To whom do you belong? To whom are you loyal? Whether it is the present or former regime that you are loyal to, it matters not; the personal historian’s bias may or may not affect his studies, but it is our job to weigh the arguments he makes soundly. One should like to have these answers, because one should like to hold some one accountable. It may be futile hindsight, but an answer to our questions will do enough to settle the origins of one’s past. 

The pursuit of history may be trumped up to a psychological inconsequential necessity, or a real moral compass that perpetually judges. For the Greeks it is evidenced in Aeschylus’ Oresteia. Shortly and bluntly, bad things were happening and bad things were anticipated to happen based on a dead man’s actions, and the people in the story drew these lines. History has a practical purpose; our actions have consequences and we should like remember which actions had bad results. And yet, Herodotus and Thucydides wrote histories that were chronologically close in proximity to their own time. For them it was modern history, whereas for us it ancient history. Because of this, the classics seem hardly relevant to the modern man. Rather, many an average educated person has a sizable amount of information about the French Revolution, American Revolution and both World Wars. These events are direct testaments to the present man’s position and so he values the information more. We can trace our lineages far back enough to know just how our family was involved and hopefully increase the pride and dignity of our family. But this behavior is not an exclusive hard and fast rule. Fads and trends exist in the study of history as much as anywhere else. Beard and Henderson said “Yet at the same time there is much debate about which works of art or literature surviving from the ancient world are the best. Such judgments are deeply affected by changes in our own contemporary culture.”[6] The will of the culture decides what is to be studied. Sometimes, a piece’s objective good is ignored because the customs it represents are seen as immoral in the present day and they will be left ignored. Other times there will be calls for man to return to his roots and pay homage to his ancestors; new curriculums will evolve from this but it will always be focused on the same material. 

Our relationship with modern history is perhaps far more rewarding than with ancient history. Simply, by the time Gutenberg’s printing press was in use, record keeping became more and more precise, and the keeping of records grew exponentially. Suddenly, questions as to what happened on such and such a date were put to rest by the five separate accounts from five different people, who were all witnesses. Our studies of World War II are intriguing because we are not left in the dark anywhere; if it were fiction nothing would be left to the imagination. Though, we use the same methods in studying modern history as we do in ancient history and there may be more dots to connect, most of them have already been connected. Beard and Henderson said, “The rediscovery of Greece was, in a way, the rediscovery of the origins of western culture as a whole.”[7] The key word is “rediscovery”. This implies that these cultures along with their classics were once known and loved. With this in mind, there are two options for the history of man: either history is linear on an upward progressive incline or man is an animal of predictable patterns and history holds the pictures. For those who study modern history the former option is how our past is viewed; man is ever ascending to perfection, backed by science and improving economies with higher standards of living. Eventually, man will become Nietzsche’s ubermensch. For those who study classics/ancient history the desire is based on a deficiency of a lost good. The classicists find Socrates, Plato and Aristotle and praise their insight into the human condition and social constructs. They find Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey unlike anything out of their own era; they have beauty that is misunderstood by the common man. To study classics is to say that man is not always improving himself. It is to say Livy may have more to teach than Churchill’s war histories. Beard and Henderson said, “The questions raised by Classics are the questions raised by our distance from ‘their’ world, and at the same time by our closeness to it, and by its familiarity to us.”[8] They say Classics aim to define and debate our relationship to that world. This is exactly what Karl Marx touched upon. One should not be as fatalistic as George Santayana when he said that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, but since the ancient world has influenced our world to such a great degree, it might be vulgar to ignore such things. 

Man’s study of modern history is “cause and effect” and nothing but the facts. For man to study the Enlightenment and the French Revolution he will understand the immediate reason modern man operates the way he does. For man to study the Classics he will understand what facilitated the Enlightenment and the French Revolution to happen in the first place. Again, out of Beard and Henderson, “ancient Athens can still be seen as the ultimate ancestor of democracy world-wide.”[9] And this is the greatest distinction between ancient and modern history. Because of our close proximity with modern history we focus on finding out “what happened”, while because our distant blood relation with ancient history we focus on finding out “why it happened”.

 When studying ancient history one may be simply intrigued with the alien nature or the stories told, whether they be myth or historical accounts, one certainly does not see anything so base. Our sophistication has made man either jealous of their grand simplicity or outright snobbish towards the ancients. A classicist is perhaps more often the jealous kind. A classicist unconditionally loves most ancient things; he translates and interprets and then discerns what must be added to the curriculum of schools everywhere. A historian may be either of the two kinds, but most of all, they attempt to be non-biased while using their powers of deduction to let the facts speak for themselves. There is a danger here; Morley says, “Facts don’t speak: the historian who tries to listen to nothing but the facts will produce an interpretation that is driven by his own unconscious preconceptions, assumptions and prejudices.”[10] The accounts of historians who claim the utmost objectivity are often most dangerous for reliable information. They neglect surrounding histories and hardly make an attempt to falsify their own position and answer their detractors. The classicist would be a formidable opponent for these historians; they might be taught humility. While the historian cites his data to make an argument, the classicist cites the very zeitgeist of the age, which he gathered through the literature, language and other avenues. The classicist seems to have a much more intimate relationship with the material at hand than the historian. 

But there are more points of contention. For a classicist, he is free to interpret materials however he pleases since no one will ever gain any more evidence about a dead man’s thoughts. E.M. Tillyard (a classicist) was free to write a whole book on the mind of an Elizabethan and generalize the entire way through. A man’s mind is nebulous, vague and unclear which makes for open season for the classicists. Historians do not have this luxury. Simply, it is accepted by everyone everywhere that only one thing happened at a particular time and place. Because of this, the objective for the historian has become to get nearest the truth as possible, but not all agree on where “near” is. The argument may go on for centuries about some event which may lead a man into historical nihilism giving him no hope of finding truth; it may be wise for the historian to imitate the classicist. The historian can bear to gain some imagination. Morley says of this, “imagination plays an indispensable role in the interpretation of evidence, helping the historian to make connections, fill in gaps and build up a wider picture of the period being studied.”[11] Ancient history in the broader study of classics ought to fit quite nicely. For early classical material it will give a clear context; an example would be reading the Annals of Tacitus and Catullus. Modern classical material is often inspired by the ancients like the works of the Victorians and Romantics. They praised and glorified the ancients, because of their imagination. The historian, though he often fulfills the stereotype of the monotone lecturer, could adopt and benefit the humility and imagination of the classicist. 

This relationship between these different areas of study is just another thread that we find ourselves connecting in order to find an origin. All too often, we presume that certain customs were created out of irrational nonsense. But if you trace things far back enough you will find a creator and reason. Our methods are to trace and deduce, like a detective, in order that we might praise the past or condemn it. Our cultures make us biased towards these things, but perhaps this is unavoidable. Ancient history is very like modern history except with much more theory attached to it. The question “why?” is more important than the question “What?” A historian may arrive at these answers more quickly if he employed the tactics of the classicists.

[1] Neville Morley. Writing Ancient History (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press). 1991. P. 156

[2] Morley. Writing Ancient History. P. 106

[3] Mary Beard and John Henderson. Classics: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press). 2000. P. 54

[4] Morley. Writing Ancient History. P. 107

[5] Morley. Writing Ancient History. P. 37

[6] Beard and Henderson. Classics: A Very Short Introduction. P. 87. Examples they used were how the earliest Greek sculpture became valued during the Early Twentieth Century when abstract art was most popular.

[7] Beard and Henderson. Classics: A Very Short Introduction. P. 15

[8] Beard and Henderson. Classics: A Very Short Introduction. P. 6

[9] Beard and Henderson. Classics: A Very Short Introduction. P. 16

[10] Morley. Writing Ancient History. P. 93

[11] Morley. Writing Ancient History. P. 32


Phil 361 - Relevancy of Ethics in Business

When we consider whether or not ethics are relevant to business we should first find out what exactly it is that we are asking.  Ethics can be referred to as moral principles that we choose, or choose not to adhere.  Business, as a popular term means nothing more than your method of advancing yourself in society.  Business necessitates that you interact with others and since the objective is to advance yourself there is a right way and a wrong way to do that.  Still, one's own advancement is not a moral imperative as far as I am aware so we have no reason to pursue business, or pursue interactions with others.  But back on the word ethics, I should not say it is an awful dilemma.  Ethics are always presumed to be a certain way, but with no authority backing up the claim.  We rely on majority answers to decide was is righteous and what is wicked; but these have no god given authority to absolutely say one way or another.  Consequently, we are left in the dark.  Left could be right, up could be down, black could be white, and most importantly bad could be good.  If anyone objects the universe replies with a hearty "says you".  I am not saying that nobody is correct anywhere; rather, someone could be absolutely right, but they will need to back it up with authority before convincing anybody.

Since business has no moral imperative and has a definitional imperative, and ethics appear foggy it seems pretty grim.  But we shall not be left to anarchy.  At the very least mankind operates as a machine, and a machine must accomplish its task.  If we presume upon this one "must" (moral imperative) then we can actually go somewhere.  Also, if we presume a perspective of today's culture and on American soil then we can get even further.  Ethics, though they are broadly similar, differ on a few points from culture to culture.  Some may be egalitarian and some not; I cannot think of any cultures that encourage murder.  With these two presumptions we may determine the relevancy of ethics to business.  Business would be a way in which we as machines accomplish our tasks.  Though it may seem existential, our finished tasks go on to create other tasks for others to complete.  It never ends.  But the status quo must be kept, otherwise it stalls and becomes a horror.  Our natures seem to run better on good ethic (what it is popularly known to be) rather than bad ethic.  The "bad ethic" moves towards the stall.  A small distinction would be between encouragement and discouragement.  So it should follow that our understanding of good ethics or The Tao is necessary to finishing the task.  Therefore, we must pursue the questions and uncertainties that The Tao presents us if we want to operate in business.

Lastly, can a good business be unethical?  I believe that it can, just not for very long.  Example: A man might heighten his self-esteem by treating everyone else poorly, but he will presently do more damage than good.  Eventually, his actions burned too many bridges for him to improve himself (self-esteem) in a natural order.  The Tao remains the only cost efficient (no pun intended) way for us machines to accomplish our tasks.  Business needs ethics just as much as we presume non-businesses needs ethics.


An Ex-Lover's Lament and Hope

Bring your beer and bring your smokes,
Sing, "Sally, she was good to me!"
And if you hear our ribald jokes,
Sing, "She brought out the worst in me!"

For we all have a Sally, and a Sally swell,
A pretty peach, unruly cute.
Whether a Northern brick, or a Southern bell,
She loved this ugly brute.

With her, our weekends were void of pain,
Always she was nearby.
Best she left so as to leave me sane,
Ignore the glutton's cry.

Ah, Sally!  Why?  Naive you tried!
To come when I had called.
But every sigh was a bald face lie,
She hit the lover's wall.

That wall endured for only a time,
But Sally wore thin and fine.
Had I bought her for only a dime,
Still warranted not to be mine.

I gripped to hard and nothing left,
But wisdom to accept.
Now Sally is with a better man,
Denied desire and from her ran.

Be excellent too, primarily wise,
Walk with a gentleman's grace.
And Sally who?  Powerless eyes,
Her staring admiring face.

By Evan Gunn Wilson


War and Fights in the Classroom

During the Fall semester of 2012, I was fulfilling some of my core curriculum at the University of Idaho.  It was an Integrated Seminar (Isem) class which is the kind of thing that is supposed “broaden” your mind and knowledge of your world; the purpose was to give you another accomplishment to make you more interesting and less bigoted.  As I was looking at the list of Isem classes, I came across one that was title “Tribal Cultures and Histories”.  Naturally, since I am a History major I figured this would be sufficiently promising class for I had thought that it would cover tribes all over our globe, ancient and modern.  I would have recommended it cover everywhere from the bushmen of Africa to the revered middle eastern tribes.  I was sadly mistaken as I showed up to my first day of class and discovered that this class was to cover only Native American tribes and what the white man had done to them.

It was not the type of environment that was supposed to make you feel guilty, although a lot of guilt was then pandered to, and the lesson plans were accusatory.  Our teacher was a nice lady whose main goal was for us to be educated about the “real” history of the founding and creation of America as a nation, and also to be prepared adequately for the likely event that we socialize and work with Native Americans.  These were things that I had no problem with other than the guilt tripping, but what I discovered as the class progressed was unnerving.

Our culture has become naïve.  They are not naïve about the history of man, but rather about the nature of man.  When some of the students read or hear about the war that was waged on the “peaceful” Indians by the colonists, they were utterly shocked.  They could not imagine that men could act in such a fashion to kill millions of people for no other reason than their personal gain.  This led me to believe that they had never opened a history book in their lives.  They had a keen distaste for these actions and felt it necessary to inform others of the atrocities committed by our white ancestors.

The absolute brain washing of the culture that has taken place in these students is done pretty well if they never notice how evil and wicked man is.  In Judeo-Christian tradition it is pretty clear that man is wicked and we should not be surprised of his actions when he is.  The Bible is full of lists that describe the condition of man and one that is popular is right out of Romans 1 which goes as such: “They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventers of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”  Pretty good and direct list this is, and it has proven true in the centuries before and after it.  And no better evidence is there than our present day where we see mass shootings almost as a regular expectation.  But the shock of these students over what is simply war is proof of the slow loss of Judeo-Christian sensibilities.  Our kids are being raised with dump trucks full of self-esteem that could knock out any curmudgeonly old man.  They are told that toleration is important and the only way this can be argued is if the premise that people are generally good prevails upon them.  So they walk around in the defined mental utopia where they are a gift to the human race and no one would ever say otherwise because they are pretty decent people themselves.  This is a folly that has nothing but pain and suffering ahead of it.  As these self esteem sponges begin to function in society they slowly realize that their initial opinion they had of themselves was not wholly accurate.  And it does not stop there.  They begin to see others who are undeniably better people than they are.  They will rationalize that these betters are not actually better even though the proof of their lives is a complete testament to the opposite persuasion.  If they accept that there are some people are going to be better human beings this is a first step to repentance of down right depression.  But the inconsistencies do not stop there.  They also deal with people who are worse than they are; then their emotions are conjured up to the indignant or an unhealthy amount of pride.  All the while the questions remain un-answered.  They cannot account for the wickedness that they experience in the fallen.  Things cease to make sense and they are left to nothing other than a life full of confusion, bitterness, and resent.

These fools have become popular images and have inserted this type of thinking into our media, penal system, military, and politics.  Philosophies like humanism, communism, and modern Buddhism are the refined versions of this elementary grade of thought.  Luckily, reality has a way of catching up with bad philosophy.  Before I had only mentioned that some of the students in this class were shocked at the “news”.  Others I had discovered later were of a more realistic persuasion.  They knew that everybody in every culture has had a bad day.  No one is exempt from suffering.  I said, perhaps some what insensitively, “So what?  This sort of stuff didn’t just happen to the Indians, but most every other culture who gets dominated.”  So, this was refreshing for me, as a dinosaur, that these freshmen were a bit smarter than their culture bargained for.  They weren’t acting as bigots who want to always maintain the upper hand for the white race (they were white kids).  Instead they had a cold blood towards the matter.  They wouldn’t mind seeing an evil man sent to the electric chair, because they believe in morality, so they believe in good and evil, so they see these truths to be self evident.  Some men deserve it.

“Gunn, you are a psychopath!  Isn’t it clear to you that the Native American Indians didn’t deserve what happened?”  No.  Just because they had cutsie nature philosophy does not convince me that these inhabitants weren’t also out for blood.  Some of them were nice to the white man and the white man with his ultimate knowledge of commanding and conquering pulled a double cross on the Indians after a series of unfortunate events.  My point is simple: Indians as individuals and nations were equally evil with the white man; the white man was just better and more efficient at it.  And now we have the great nation America where the prejudice is mild and the hate for one another is nicely regulated in the court system.

The Judeo-Christian tradition is under a lot of fire.  Certain moments in the Old Testament are “intolerant, bigoted, sexist, racist and unenlightened” according to the modern age.  We have grown past that and now we know that problems can be solved through dialogue.  We distinguish ourselves from the Neanderthal by not waging war.  Of course, I am speaking in a sarcastic voice.  By no means!  There is not a single legitimate argument that I can find that defends Enlightenment philosophy.  So, most of the children of enlightenment philosophy believe in it because it strokes their own egos in one way or another.  But then I should ask, “What was the argument that convinced you that Judeo-Christian morals were wrong?”  They may have not done their due diligence in finding a new belief, but what about the old?  You will find that most people have not even done this.  They have no argument other than it was too hard for them.  Might war be the default of man?  Is it possible that the natural state of man is one of war, battle and killing.  Is war bad?  They will automatically say “no!” but they would be more than willing to fight in a war to defend tolerance.  They partake of the sweet, savory aspect of war and they have just temporarily justified it.

All that we do is war against each other.  And we do this especially in a free society.  If a man stands next to another and he is of different culture, he will be resented, hated and eventually killed.  The utopia where nobody fights is an ultimately childish endeavor.  All that I should like to see in my generation is a bit of reality and hardness.  As David said to Solomon on his death bed, “Be strong and show yourself a man.”  Taking offense and demanding reparations is one the least manly things you can do.  As a Christian I recommend forgiveness.  If you are not a man of the law all one can do is pray to his God to deliver him.  Love is patient.  Love is kind.


The Elizabethan Era: Its People and Perspective

The Elizabethan Era is known for significant military action and great accomplishments in the liberal arts.  When this era is referenced it commonly delves into Shakespeare’s plays or Queen Elizabeth’s political prowess.  But there is an ignored part of this history; for instance when historians take a look at the French Revolution the mythology, beliefs, philosophy and religion secure the most attention.  They dissect every last “cause and effect” scenario and publish whole books about their findings and theories.  Strangely, only certain eras have merited this treatment by modern society.  One neglects to dissect the Elizabethan Era.  There are, of course, anthropological studies and other trends in this era, but the world view or “zeitgeist” has been paid little attention.  One writer, Eustace M. W. Tillyard published a work in 1972 titled The Elizabethan World Picture.  In this piece, Tillyard explores the idea of order in the minds of writers such as Shakespeare, Donne and Milton.  Though it is not difficult to find quotes in these authors that expound their idea of the universe, this book limited itself to the manifestations of ideas in the poetic minds of the day.  It does not consider the common man’s experience or how these ideas may have shown in the inane and frivolous.  Consequently, when one thinks of Queen Elizabeth’s reign images of writers or explorers flood the mind and satisfy the historical concepts.  There is so much more left untapped, such as the explorer, poet, statesman, soldier that was Sir Walter Raleigh (1554-1629).  Raleigh is exemplary of a man who completely reacts instinctually to the tide of the times while maintaining his own critical thought.  This man and his contemporaries were like any French or American revolutionary; they were beasts of their age.   His views as to the order of the cosmos may have been indispensable from the average Elizabethan.  After all, many popular figures in Elizabethan lore are common men by birth and rose to notoriety based on their exceptional work.  Though it may not seem so, the Elizabethan Age was dominated by this unique and peculiar design for the universe and it bleeds from many areas of business.  The design is one of Order; the Four Humours and the Divine right of Kings.  The opposition, like Beatrice Groves, believes otherwise.  She asserted in her book Texts and Traditions: Religion in Shakespeare 1592-1604, that, “Shakespeare does not commit the same ideological elisions of which many of his contemporaries were guilty in their discussions of a biblically based government”.[1]  Along with Raleigh, Francis Bacon’s (1561-1626) essays are ripe with data to support the world view of the Elizabethan.  Bacon approaches philosophically the scheme of this order for which Tillyard so adequately gave evidence.  Finally, Shakespeare (1564-1616) will also be used as another source to perhaps paint the minds of the common man.  These men, their actions and their writings should finally reveal what the Elizaethan world view was.
A Measure of Shakespeare
Who better to approach first than the undisputed greatest playwright that ever lived William Shakespeare?  He was born and baptized in the town Stratford-on-Avon to a glover, John Shakespeare and his wife Mary Arden in 1564.  Living a plain life under plain circumstances did not prevent Shakespeare from receiving a standard education.  It has been supposed that he actively started pursuing the theater in 1592.[2]  His plays have become immortal since then.  When one presumes that William Shakespeare was a real man as opposed to a conspiracy, the question comes: What gave this man his clairvoyance to pen these masterpieces with only the use of a menial free education?  His plays may answer this question for us.  Stephen Greenblatt points out that Shakespeare found himself searching for what other playwrights had not yet done.  So he writes of fools and presumably honorable men getting drunk and disorderly.  Greenblatt says of Sir Toby and Falstaff, “They do for a limited time overturn sobriety, dignity and decorum”.[3] In Julius Caesar Shakespeare inserts and references classical imagery that could not have come from a standard education; he obtained this knowledge from his society.  In Act I, Scene iii, Casca, a conspirator meets Cicero in the night.  He described the setting and wrote that there should be “thunder and Lightning” as this is what the topic of the scene required.  This use of weather was not a device to communicate devious behavior, rather it was suggesting that along with the dialogue that there was a disturbance in the cosmos.  Casca says early on, “Either there is a civil strife in heaven/Or else the world, too saucy with the gods/incenses them to send destruction”.[4] 
Why does this mean anything about the common Elizabethan world view?  Tons of authors have referenced the gods at one point or another.  Elizabethans had a keen sense of hierarchy.  In the Monarchy they assert that the king or queen is God’s Anointed.  This is what Tillyard calls (and used as a chapter title) the chain of being.  God delegates power to his subjects, and they must not be questioned.  C. S. Lewis describes this in his Preface to Paradise Lost saying, “Everything except God has some natural superior; everything except unformed matter has some natural inferior”.[5]  So, in the case of Julius Caesar, although he was technically a dictator, qualified as “God’s anointed”; which meant that the conspiracy caused a storm in the cosmos, creating chaos and disarray.  Brutus and Cassius planned to assassinate Caesar and this was not conducive to a peaceful world.  Of course, modern scholars have written of Shakespeare’s strange representation of political intrigue.  The notion of hierarchy is so prominent amongst Elizabethans that modern sensibilities cannot handle to the torque.  In Taming of the Shrew Katharina’s eventually submitted and gave a speech that drove modern historians to think that Shakespeare wrote it ironically.[6]  Many strange sights were observed and reported, such as men walking about engulfed in fire.[7]  Casca knew he was up to no good, testing his boundaries with the questionable Cicero.  Casca relates these things to Cassius later hoping for consolation saying, “But wherefore did you so much tempt the heavens? / It is the part of men to fear and tremble / When to the most mighty gods by tokens send / Such dreadful heralds to astonish us”.[8]  Tillyard quotes John Fortescue saying, “In this order hot things are in harmony with cold, dry with moist, heavy with light, great with little, high with low.  In this order angel is set over angel, rank upon rank in the kingdom of heaven; man is set over man, beast over beast . . .”.[9]  This quote nicely sums up the general thesis of the Elizabethan era which promotes order and rank (divine right).  The humours are mixed in but only appear as a subset of the over arching order.
One cannot really be sure of what motivated Brutus to assassinate Caesar, but the fashion that Shakespeare wrote it was that Brutus was an “honorable man”.[10]  He deeply lamented having to put to death his good friend, but figured the ends justified the means.  When Antony turns the people against Brutus, Cassius, and the rest of the conspirators, Brutus becomes panicky; he tries to patch things back to normal and justifies his actions.  Of course no matter how much mental gymnastics he does he is visited in the night by Caesar’s ghost.  Being approached by the ghost he says, “I think it is the weakness of mine eyes . . . art thou some god, some angel, or some devil?”.[11]  This is not merely a send up of Greek mythology, because if it were Brutus would have spoken of fates, furies and gods by name.  Perhaps, Shakespeare was following up on Dante Alighieri’s suggestion that Brutus (guilty of regicide) was a man just as wicked as Judas (Guilty of killing God).  These actions are significantly different in scope, but the suggestion is that they are one and the same.
One major part of the Elizabethan world view was the four humours.  The general idea was since food was a necessary part of our living, it was integral to our being.  As food passes through our system it converts to four bodily liquids which were phlegm, melancholy, blood and choler.[12]  All of these corresponded to four elements which were water, earth, air and fire.  This was the science of the day and this is what was referenced in matters of health.  This is a sub-order of the grand order of the complete cosmos; it merely has to do with man.  In Julius Caesar Antony speaks of Brutus at the end of the play saying, “His life was gentle, and the elements / so mix’d in him that Nature might stand up / and say to all world, ‘This was a man!’”.[13]  This is a prime example: not only does it apply to the soft science of the world, but also to a man’s general position of the cosmos to the point where an anthropomorphized nature speaks well of a man to have these humours balanced.  This is not merely poetry; this is orthodoxy.  Shakespeare was not a doctor, but a simple man of the theater.  One must also notice the fact that the word “nature” is capitalized.
A Measure of Francis Bacon
Francis may not be as interesting a man as Shakespeare was, but he may provide a greater wealth of world view evidence.  He was an informal theologian who was not all that “churchy” but was willing to defend it mightily.  Atheism was at this time gaining believers, so naturally Bacon stepped in.  Tillyard, in his chapter on sin said, “Atheism not agnosticism was the rule.  It was far easier to be very wicked and think yourself so than to be a little wicked without a sense of sin”.[14]  Not only did agnosticism doubt God’s existence, but it forgot the entire order of the universe and their personal role inside it.  This was socially unacceptable and so naturally pagans, heathens and atheists were more acceptable for their mere validity, because they at least had a design.  Heathens served a false and valid god while atheists served the “god self”, which is just as valid as any pagan deity.  The acceptance of a grand order to the universe was incredibly important to the Elizabethan.   Still, in the eyes of Bacon, atheists were sorely mistaken; so much he wrote an essay on atheism.  The opening lines go, “I had rather believe all the fables in the legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without mind”.[15]  Not only is this an apologetic, but this claim also asserts that order is necessary, and to forget inserting order into your world view is down right absurd.  Bacon argues from the perspective that Tillyard called the “chain of being”.[16]  He granted that a little philosophy “inclineth a man’s mind to atheism” but that when one delves deeper into the whole business he is eventually brought about to religion.[17]  Bacon spoke almost directly of the chain of being saying, “But when it beholdeth the chain of them [events] confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to providence and deity”.[18]  Simply, he says that when a man does not see the bigger picture he will not believe in god, but examining his world and his place inside it he will quickly resort to religion.  In hindsight, Bacon points out that Protestantism fueled the fire for this belief.  He tracks the lack of atheism to a little division in the church; the Protestant Reformation though large boiled down to two opposing doctrines of salvation.  As the Reformation continues one notes the amount of division in Protestants, and with much division in religion atheism gains power.  This perfidiousness of people, mixing in the apparent chaos, gave reason to believe that there is no god.  “Where is he?” they ask.
As mentioned before Bacon saw order as necessary, but along with that order came a delightful Elizabethan notion of hierarchy.  Not only hierarchy, but monarchy was his favorite given that Yahweh is himself a monarch.  He said with great Solomonic fervour, “A king is a mortal God on earth, unto whom the living God hath lent his own name as a great honor”.[19]  He believed in divine right of kings, because it was another puzzle piece to hold everything together.  He did have other instructions for monarchs but most of all, in a very un-Lockeian way, the king must be obeyed. 
To relate this to commoners one must know that poets were, in fact, the rock stars of that day.  Poetry was the easiest means of creating and sharing art in those times, so naturally poetry circulated in and out of the courts and into the streets.  Sir John Davies wrote a poem upon seeing the Virgin Queen in her majesty.  He was stricken to the point of writing, “Her brighter dazzling beams of majesty”.[20]  Tillyard quoted this poem, but used it in a different effect.  He wanted to point out the fabled cosmic dance that exemplified itself inside the court.  This poetry resonated with the people; not only did they enjoy the sight of the queen, but they enjoyed the sheer cosmic order.  For one’s country to gravitate towards prosperity is a good thing, but for there to be no war in heaven is encouraging to say the least.  Hence, atheism during this time was unfashionable, even if tolerated.  Dancing (an ordering of bodily movements) was a very popular entertainment for Elizabethans, as well.  It, like poetry, was easy to accomplish with minimal resource.  Even though Bacon was not fond of dancing himself said, “Dancing to song, is a thing of great state and pleasure”.[21]
It should be noted that Francis Bacon is known as the father of the modern scientific method.  Bacon wrote very clearly his ideas on how to obtain empirical knowledge about our world.  What had inspired him to create this plan of science.  The general idea was to let Nature (that is with a capital “N”) speak and argue for itself.  He considered it conceited to propose a hypothesis and attempt to prove it.  Who was man that he can measure nature so precisely?  Rather, he wanted man to create a hypothesis and attempt to disprove it.  He said in his essay Of Truth:
“Doth any man doubt, that if there were taken out of men’s minds vain opinions, flattering hopes, false valuations, imaginations as one would, and the like, but it would leave the minds of a number of men poor shrunken things, full  of melancholy and indisposition, and unpleasing to themselves?”.[22]
Scientists based their science off of religion.  If religion had not been customary advanced science would have been drastically slowed down.  C. S. Lewis points out in his book Miracles that “Men became scientific because they expected law in nature, and they expected law in nature because they believed in a legislator”.[23]  Lewis suggests that when religion begins to leave a society science will cease advancing.  He also said agreeing with Bacon, “Science itself has already made reality appear less homogenous than we expected it to be”.[24]  This suggests that human nature tends to think that there is more order in the universe than for which we have visible proof.  Unknown forces have arranged the universe.
A Measure of Sir Walter Raleigh
All this is only a fraction of how Elizabethans functioned.  Of course, when analyzing the intellectuals of the era there will be different suggestions left and right.  Sir Walter Raleigh, a prime poster child of the Elizabethan commoner, will shed more light upon the zeitgeist of the people.  Raleigh was a commoner despite his time as a statesman, soldier, and writer.  He was a Protestant born into complete obscurity as we have almost no information about his early life.  What Lewis said about his poetry, the same may be said about his life that “Raleigh has happy moments but seldom gets through a longer piece without disaster”.[25]  But out of secluded life he came and ascended into prominence, and noted by Queen Elizabeth.  Loved by the people he had a significant discipleship (ship mates, mostly) allowing him to settle the Americas and do a little pirating of Spanish vessels on the side.
He had a significant amount of poetry to go along with his personality.  He wrote one twelve line poem titled De Morte which interpreted man’s life as a standard play; this has underlying tones of cosmic order.  In his Excellent Observations and Notes Concerning the Royal Navy and Sea Service he mentions to the Queen, whom he was writing to, certain thanks.  He says, “I confess that peace is a great blessing of God, and blessed are the peacemaker, and therefore doubtless blessed are those means whereby peace is gained and maintained”.[26]  This is not just Raleigh being devout, but it also is concluding argument to his piece.  He appeals to Queen Elizabeth through ethos; it would be right for her to follow through with Raleigh’s ideas.
             One of the more striking pieces he wrote was his letter to King James I.  Formerly, he was locked away in the tower for fourteen years for suspected treason against the king.  But he was let out for one last voyage to Guiana to mine gold.  Along the way Spanish ships ambushed him, and twenty-six of his men along with Raleigh’s own son were murdered.  His men mutinied, but not against their captain but for the sake of their captain; they knew if he was to return home then the King would send him to the scaffold.  He ended up writing a letter to King James saying:
“My mutineers told me that if I returned for England, I should be undone, but I believed in your Majesty’s goodness, more than in all their arguments.  Sure I am the first that being free and able to enrich myself, yet hath embraced poverty and peril.  And as sure I am that my example shall make me the last: but your Majesty’s wisdom and goodness I have made my judges, who have ever been and ever shall be”.[27]
This is a very bizarre statement.  First, his mutineers were not revolting against their captain, but for their captain.  Raleigh manages to convince them of his world view to let him return to England.  These sailors were the “undocumented” Elizabethan, but they shared a sense of hierarchy and order, however misplaced that it is.  Second, it is important to remember that the Enlightenment age was imminent.  This letter is deeply disturbing for many who do not share the Elizabethan world view.  Raleigh was so devoted to the Divine Right of Kings that he submitted himself to someone whom he very well knew wanted him dead.  King James the First despised Raleigh.  The last line of the letter said that he would forever remain faithful to the cause of the monarch.  Lewis describes the matter of degree and office nicely and gives us a reason why it is important for these men.  He wrote, “If you take ‘Degree’ away ‘each thing meets in mere opugnancy,’ ‘strength’ will be lord, everything will ‘include itself in power’ . . . .  The real alternative is tyranny; if you will not have authority you will find yourself obeying brute force”.[28]  Simply, you either submit willingly, or you have submission forced on you.  This is what Raleigh’s policy was.  In a letter Raleigh wrote to his wife on the night that he was expecting to go to the scaffold he does the same thing.  He praised his God and recommended that his wife do the same.  Lastly, in a letter to his son he wrote, “Serve God: let him be the Author of all thy actions”.[29] 
            Perhaps one of the most significant moments in English history was the Spanish Armada being destroyed.  A decisively embarrassing event for Spain and almost quite literally a God send for the English.  Raleigh, after the fact, noted that there were multiple propaganda pieces being put out by the Spaniards. They attempted to cover up the shame of their loss through lies and spin.  So he counteracted them and wrote his own account just for the Queen to examine.  He began saying, “The Spaniards according to their vainglorious vaunts, making great appearance of victories, when on the contrary themselves are most commonly and shamefully beaten and dishonored”.[30]  Paraphrased he says, “Let me inform you, Queen of the truth.”  Near the end of the account he references the storm that occurred and as the world view would have it, he brought God in to the equation.  He wrote, “Thus it hath pleased God to fight for us . . . .  A manifest testimony how unjust and displeasing their attempts are in the sight of God . . .”.[31]  He says this while at the same time he refers to a traitor in this way, “To be unnatural to his own country that bred him, to his parents that begat him, and rebellious to his true prince to whose obedience he is bound by oath, by nature and by religion?”.[32]  Raleigh not only condemns the traitor by his Christianity, but also condemns by the Law and Order of Nature.
            Tillyard makes it clear through Raleigh’s History of the World that he was convinced of this order of degrees in God’s Kingdom.  He wrote, “For that infinite wisdom of God, which hath distinguished his angels by degrees . . . .”.[33]  He points towards the cosmic hierarchy in this as he continues to list the orders of kings, dukes, magistrates and judges.  For such a fantastic description of the universe Raleigh has an easy time asserting it.  Again it must be pointed out that Raleigh is a good measuring stick for how the average Elizabethan thought.  He arose out of the people, got fame, got slandered multiple times, and maintained his firm beliefs all the way up to his unjustified death; in spite of all the things he was (poet, soldier, statesman, explorer) he was not a philosopher.  Raleigh was just a man who lived what he believed.  Tillyard said, “Raleigh’s life had been in part as secular as one can conceive . . . he must have known disorder at its most horrible . . . .Yet it is the same man who can see the glory of God”.[34]
            Raleigh shared more than tobacco with Francis Bacon (They were, at least, acquaintances).  He wrote of atheism in a four line poem; the last two lines went, “Raw is the reason that doth lie within an atheist’s head. / Which saith the soul of man doth die when that the body’s dead”.[35]  This was not enough to keep rumors from building. Agnes Latham noticed that once a judge had been employed to determine whether Raleigh was an atheist.  The reason might be discovered by an anonymous comment after his execution regarding his speech, which went, “He spoke not one word of Christ, but of a great and incomprehensible God, with much zeal and adoration.”  The accusation was just a case of mudslinging as the judge read his History of the World and said, “I am resolved you are a good Christian”. [36]  Latham said of it, “Raleigh is concerned with the source of ultimate power and ultimate order rather than with saving grace, but it is a question of emphasis, not of orthodoxy”.[37]
            When one thinks of the importance of order, hierarchy, and the four humours inside the Elizabethan era it may seem confusing to those who look forward to the Enlightenment, the French Revolution and the American Revolution.  The Enlightenment claimed to be built for reason, and about reason; it would trust no other empirical source of truth other than reason.  The French Revolution was chaotic anarchy devoid of order and the American Revolution was a rebellion against the “divine right of kings” whether they knew it or not at the time.  One wonders how this shift in attitude happened so suddenly and that it happened at all.  Tillyard wanted his readers to realize that the Elizabethan era, although short, was the golden age as opposed to his contemporaries who thought it was the metaphysical poets.  He greatly admired the Elizabethans and said of them, “It is precisely the basic simplicity and strength of the greatest Elizabethans that we need to perceive if we are not to reduce the norm of their age to mere pageant-making and minstrelsy”.[38]  This age is due more than we give it, and we neglect several parts of its zeitgeist whether it is in the literature, letters or essays.  The ethos, pathos and logos comes out of every nook and cranny.  It must not be ignored for long.

1. Tillyard, Eustace M. W. The Elizabethan World Picture. New York: Vintage Books. Print.
2. Shakespeare, William.  Julius Caesar.  London: Oxford University Press, 1957. Print.
3. Raleigh, Sir Walter.  Letters, Poems and Essays.  New York: J.M. Dent & Sons. Print
4. Bacon, Francis.  Essays.  New York: The Henneberry Company. Print.
5. Lewis, C. S. Miracles.  New York: The Macmillan Company.  Print
6. Lewis, C. S.  Preface to Paradise Lost.  London: Oxford University Press.  Print
7. Greenblatt, Stephen. Will in the World.  New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004.  Print.
8. Groves, Beatrice. Texts and Traditions: Religion in Shakespeare 1592-1604. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.
9. Agnes, Latham.  Sir Walter Raleigh. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1964. Print.
10. Lewis, Clive S. English Literature in the Sixteenth Century.  Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954. Print.

[1]Beatrice Groves, Texts and Traditions: Religion in Shakespeare 1592-1604 (New York: Oxford Univeristy Press, 2007.), 183.   Groves also argues that Shakespeare was a closet Catholic.  Tillyard who was a Catholic and co-wrote a book of theological arguents with C.S. Lewis called A Present Heresy seems to miss Grove’s point in his own research.  He seems to believe that Shakespeare was solely protestant.
[2] Stephen Greenblatt, Will in the World (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004).
[3] Greenblatt, Will in the World, 41
[4] William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (London: Oxford University Press, 1957), 16.
[5]C. S. Lewis, Preface. (London: Oxford University Press, 1946), 72.
[6] Groves, Texts and Traditions, 154. Groves argues this particular point by pointing to Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure.  She believes that Shakespeare was questioning the divine right of kings and above all was an early enlightenment figure.
[7] Julius Caesar 1. 3. 15-31.  Along with men walking around on fire there were other oddities that Casca heard reported.  There was a slave whose hand burned like twenty torches and left unscathed, a lion wandering the capitol building and owls “hooting and shrieking”.  Shakespeare battled the naturalist notion further when Casca warned Cicero saying, “Do so conjointly meet, let not men say, / “These are their reasons, they are natural.”
[8] Julius Caesar 1. 3. 51-56
[9] Eustace Tillyard, The Elizabethan World Picture (New York: Vintage Books, no date), 26-27.
[10] Julius Caesar 3. 2. 88.
[11] Julius Caesar 5. 1. 275-278
[12] Tillyard, Elizabethan. 69
[13] Julius Caesar 5. 5. 73-75
[14] Tillyard, Elizabethan, 18
[15] Francis Bacon, Essays (New York: The Henneberry Company, no date), 68.
[16] Tillyard, Elizabethan, 25
[17] Bacon, Essays, 68
[18] Bacon, Essays, 68
[19] Bacon, Essays, 215
[20] Tillyard, Elizabethan, 105
[21] Bacon, Essays, 146
[22] Bacon, Essays, 17
[23] Lewis, Miracles, 128
[24] Lewis, Miracles, 35
[25] Lewis, Sixteenth Cent., 519
[26] Sir Walter Raleigh, Excellent Observations and Notes Concerning the Royal Navy and Sea Service, (New York: J.M. Dent & Sons, no date), 171.
[27] Sir Walter Raleigh, Return From Guiana, (New York: J.M. Dent & Sons, no date), 205
[28] Lewis, Preface, 74
[29] Sir Walter Raleigh, Instructions to His Son, (New York: J.M. Dent & Sons, no date), 182
[30] Sir Walter Raleigh, The Last Fight of the “Revenge” at Sea, (New York: J.M. Dent & Sons, no date), 73
[31] Raleigh, “Revenge”, 88.
[32] Raleigh, “Revenge” ,89.
[33] Tillyard, Elizabethan, 11.
[34] Tillyard, Elizabethan, 24.
[35] Raleigh, Poems, 59
[36] Agnes Latham.  Sir Walter Raleigh.  (London: F. Mildner & son, 1964), 32.  “Raleigh was interested in the problems propounded by the nature of God, of creation and of the image of God in man. . . . It is peculiarly liable to be misconstrued by narrow minds.  Raleigh had a dangerous kind of disengagement, a tolerance when confronted with alien ideas and an intellectual boldness.”
[37] Ibid., 32
[38] Tillyard, Elizabethan, 108.