Sunday, November 2, 2008

Aristotle's Tomb

I am about to post a series on Henry of Harclay's first ordinary question (recently edited by M. Henninger), which concerns theories of end-time chronologies based on Daniel and Revelation. Here is a foretaste, a story related by Alexander Neckham in De naturis rerum. Harclay does not give a refutation of this view.

p. 63 of Henninger's ed. and transl.: "We should also look at the remarkable story Alexander Neckham tells in the second book of On the Nature of Things, in the chapter called 'On the Jealous'. It concerns the evidence for Antichrist's coming. He writes that Aristotle, the Philosopher, when about to go the way of all flesh, gave instructions that all of his subtlest writings were to be placed with him in his tomb, so that they could be of no use ot those who came after him. When he was alive, he fortified a place for his tomb with his own hands so that to this day no one has been able to enter it. This place, Neckham writes, will be given over to Antichrist when he comes. Antichrist, then, will work wonders by means of the cunning inventions to be found in Aristotle's writings, so much so that the folish will take him for God. At that time, if anyone were to know where Aristotle's tomb was and were to see it lying open, that person could (if this story is true) argue that Antichrist had come.

Alexander's exact words are these: 'I would be unwilling to write that Aristotle was afflicted with so deadly a plague as jealousy, if I did not mean to insult so wicked a monster. When he was going the way of all flesh, this philosopher ordered his most subtle writings to be walled up with him in his tomb, so that they could be of no use to those who came after him. He prepared the place of his tomb and the surrounding area so that no one, even to this day, is able to enter it; I do not know wheteher he did this by natural means or by some skill he had (I shall hardly suggest he used the unnatural means of magical arts.). Some people say that this place will yield to the wiles of Antichrist, and they think that he will examine the writings contained therein. So Antichrist's messengers, as they say, will bring Aristotle's secrets to the eyes of him who will be the idol of abomination and desolation."

I guess we know where his fabled dialogues are.


Anonymous said...

"I guess we know where his fabled dialogues are."

Ok, consider me dense -- where?????

Lee Faber said...

There's a rumor that Aristotle also wrote dialogues, going back to the ancient world. So according to this post, one could speculate that Aristotle's dialogues are among his subtlest writings which he had buried with him.

Anonymous said...

This is an awesomely interesting post!

Any clue as to what the dialogues might contain specifically or is it something that is perhaps in keeping with his collection of logical writings that currently comprise the Organon?

(This is so cool since I'm currently trying to read up on Aristotle's works via my admittedly amateur excursion into Scholasticism! Thanks for this!)

Lee Faber said...

I don't know what they're about...lots of people in the ancient world say that he wrote them, and there might be titles and some quotations out there as well.