The After Dinner Scholar
The Wife of Bath and the Meaning of Marriage with Prof. Adam Cooper

The Wife of Bath and the Meaning of Marriage with Prof. Adam Cooper

September 27, 2022

Geoffrey Chaucer begins The Canterbury Tales describing the beauty of April and the countryside coming back to life. It is the time, he tells us, “Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages.” “And specially,” he adds, “from every shires ende / Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende.”

A small company of pilgrims forms and, as the go, each tells a tale. 

Like the Samaritan woman Jesus spoke with in John chapter four, The Wife of Bath says she has had five husbands not to mention “other companye in youthe.” She is a wealthy woman who had been on pilgrimage as far as Jerusalem. She is also rather fond of sex and knows quite a bit about marriage.

Prof. Adam Cooper has been reading The Canterbury Tales with Wyoming Catholic College juniors and shared these thoughts.

Journeys Among the Dead by Dr. Glenn Arbery

Journeys Among the Dead by Dr. Glenn Arbery

August 2, 2022

In his poem The Four Quartets, T. S. Eliot wrote:

“What the dead had no speech for, when living,

They can tell you, being dead: the communication

Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.”

In Homer’s Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, and Dante’s Divine Comedy, we read about encounters with those who have died. Odysseus seeks wisdom from the prophet Teiresias and his mother, Anikleia (Odyssey 11.1-224). Aeneas meets his father Anchises, parent and prophet (Aeneid 6.739-983). And Dante holds a long conversation in Heaven with his great-great-grandfather, Cacciaguida who also assumes the role of prophet (Paradiso 15-17).

What can we learn from these fictional encounters with the dead? Dr. Glenn Arbery gave this introduction at the 2022 Wyoming School of Catholic Thought.

Introduction to William Faulkner’s ”Go Down, Moses” by Dr. Virginia Arbery

Introduction to William Faulkner’s ”Go Down, Moses” by Dr. Virginia Arbery

July 26, 2022

Author Ann-Marie MacDonald noted, “It’s important to attend funerals. It is important to view the body, they say, and to see it committed to earth or fire because unless you do that, the loved one dies for you again and again.”

In “Go Down, Moses,” the final chapter of his novel Go Down, Moses, William Faulkner tells us the story about a funeral. The deceased is a young man executed in Chicago for murder. Home is back in Mississippi and his grandmother who raised him is determined to bring him back home to bury him. For that she’ll need a great deal of help.

Dr. Virginia Arbery gave the 2022 Wyoming School of Catholic Thought this introduction to Faulkner’s story.

Introduction to Sophocles’ ”Antigone” by Prof. Adam Cooper

Introduction to Sophocles’ ”Antigone” by Prof. Adam Cooper

July 19, 2022

Antigone’s brother Eteocles fought for Thebes and King Creon. Her other brother, Polyneices, fought against Creon and thus against Thebes. In battle they killed each other. Creon buried Eteocles with full military honor. But regarding Polyneices, has ordered, “No one shall bury him, no one mourn for him, / But his body must lie in the fields, a sweet treasure / For carrion birds to find as they search for food.”

His sister, Antigone, won’t stand for it.

Sophocles’ tragedy, “Antigone” was one of the readings as the 2022 Wyoming School of Catholic Thought considered “Mortality and Eternity.” In the play Antigone risks and loses her life over the filial duty of burying the dead.

Before we broke up into seminar groups to discuss the play, Prof. Adam Cooper gave us this introduction.

Introduction to Leo Tolstoy’s ”The Death of Ivan Ilych” by Dr. Glenn Arbery

Introduction to Leo Tolstoy’s ”The Death of Ivan Ilych” by Dr. Glenn Arbery

July 5, 2022

In the big building of the law courts, during a break in hearing the case of the Melvinskys, the members and the prosecutor met in Ivan Yegorovich Shehek's office, and the conversation turned to the famous Krasovsky case. Fyodor Vassilievich became heated demonstrating non-jurisdiction, Ivan Yegorovich stood his ground; as for Pyotr Ivanovich, not having entered into the argument in the beginning, he took no part in it and was looking through the just-delivered [newspaper].

“Gentlemen,” he said, “Ivan Ilyich is dead!”

Thus begins Leo Tolstoy’s 1886 novella, The Death of Ivan Ilych, the first reading for the 2022 Wyoming School of Catholic Thought. It’s intriguing that the story begins with Ivan Ilych’s death, recounting his life and his dying as a flashback after we hear of his funeral.

At the Wyoming School, Wyoming Catholic President, Dr. Glenn Arbery introduced Tolstoy’s novella this way.

A Semester of Latin Hymns with Prof. Eugene Hamilton

A Semester of Latin Hymns with Prof. Eugene Hamilton

June 21, 2022

NUNC, Sancte, nobis Spiritus,
unum Patri cum Filio,
dignare promptus ingeri
nostro refusus pectori.       

Now, O Holy Spirit (given) for us

One with the Father (and) the Son

condescend to enter [us] at once

(you) having been poured into our breasts

Wyoming Catholic College students study Latin during their freshman and sophomore years. From there they move to two years of Latin reading groups. One of the groups this last semester read Latin hymns including Nunc Sancte nobis Spiritus.

Prof. Eugene Hamilton—better known simply as Magister—led the reading group along with Dr. Travis Dziad. Prof. Hamilton is our guest on this podcast.

Graduation 2022–The President’s Address by Dr. Glenn Arbery

Graduation 2022–The President’s Address by Dr. Glenn Arbery

May 31, 2022

The night before Wyoming Catholic College's graduation exercises, we celebrate our senior with a formal dinner, The President's Dinner, which includes seniors, their families and friends, as well as college faculty and staff. At the dinner, the college president addresses the seniors for one last time. President Glenn Arbery had this to say to the Class of 2022.

”Ode to Constantine XI” with Prof. Adam Cooper

”Ode to Constantine XI” with Prof. Adam Cooper

May 24, 2022

O last of Rome, among small-minded citizens,

The bickering children of your mother’s house,

Your gaze was calm and grave and kind

As is the glowing lamp

Upon the holy ikon’s deep-set brow.

Those lines are from the latest issue of the Wyoming Catholic College publication Integritas. They are the beginning of a poem called “Ode to Constantine XI” by Prof. Adam Cooper. While this podcast has featured any number of conversations about poem, it is a rare treat to feature a poem along with the poet.

To read "Ode to Constantine XI in Integritas click this link.

 

Dante and The Sin of Ulysses with Prof. Adam Cooper

Dante and The Sin of Ulysses with Prof. Adam Cooper

April 26, 2022

The eighth circle of Dante’s Hell are the Malabolge, the evil ditches. In the eighth evil ditch false counselors are punished, trapped in flames. Dante the pilgrim asks Virgil his guide about one flame in particular Virgil answers, "Within this flame find torment Ulysses and Diomedes.”

Ulysses is also known as Odysseus who, after conquering Troy, wandered ten years trying to get home to his kingdom of Ithaca, to his father, Laertes, to his beloved wife, Penelope, and to their son Telemachus. After he finally returns to all that was dear to him, Dante tells us, Odysseus succumbed to wanderlust "to gain experience of the world and learn about man’s vices, and his worth."

The voyage did not end well. Death and Hell take him. But did he deserve to be in Hell? Was his sin really as great as all that? 

Prof. Adam Cooper has been teaching Dante helps us understand.

George Herbert’s Easter Poems with Dr. Glenn Arbery

George Herbert’s Easter Poems with Dr. Glenn Arbery

April 19, 2022
Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
      Though foolishly he lost the same,
            Decaying more and more,
                  Till he became
                        Most poore:
                        With thee
                  O let me rise
            As larks, harmoniously,
      And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.
 

These lines are from George Herbert's poem "Easter Wings." Herbert, a contemporary of William Shakespeare and John Milton, lived 1593 to 1633. In addition to being a poet he was a Church of England priest and theologian. Wyoming Catholic College president Dr. Glenn Arbery has long been an admirer of Herbert’s metaphysical poetry including “Easter Wings” and a poem simply entitled “Easter.”

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