Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chapbook Entry for "The Elizabethan Wolrd Picture" by E. M. W. Tillyard

"The greatness of the Elizabethan age was that it contained so much of the new without bursting the noble form of the old order." -pg. 8

"Indeed all the violence of Elizabethan drama has nothing to do with a dissolution of moral standards: on the contrary, it can afford to indulge itself just because those standards were so powerful." -pg. 20

"The chain [of being] is also a ladder. The elements are alimental. There is a progression in the way the elements nourish plants, the fruits of plants beasts, and the flesh of beasts men. And this is all one with the tendency of man upwards towards God." -pg. 28

". . . the chain of being . . . made vivid the idea of a related universe where no part was superfluous; it enhanced the dignity of all creation, even the meanest part of it." -pg 31, emphasis mine.

"Far from being dignified and tending to an insolent anthropocentricity, the earth in the Ptolemaic system was the cesspool of the universe, the repository of its grossest dregs." -pg. 39

"Our own age need not begin congratulating itself on its freedom from superstition till it defeats a more dangerous temptation to despair." -pg. 54

On Fortune and the Fall:
"It was the Fall, then, that was primarily responsible for the tyranny of fortune, and, this being so, man could not shift the blame but must bear his punishment as he can." -pg. 55

"But however pessimistic orthodoxy could be about the heaviness of the punishment inflicted through fortune on man for his fall, it always fought the superstition that man was the slave as well as the victim of chance." -pg. 55

"Raleigh . . . begins with saying that it is an error to hold with the Chaldaeans Stoics and others that the stars bind man with an ineluctable necessity. It is the opposite error to suppose that they are mere ornament." -pg. 56

On Knowledge and Reason
". . . one of man's highest faculties is his gift for disinterested knowledge. It was through that gift that he might learn something of God." -pg. 72, emphasis mine.

"Far from being a sign of modesty, innocence, or intuitive virtue, not to know yourself was to resemble the beasts, if not in coarseness at least in deficiency of education. to know yourself was not egoism but the gateway to all virtue." -pg. 72, emphasis mine.

"Morally the correspondence between macrocosm and microcosm, if taken seriously, must be impressive. If the heavens are fulfilling punctually their vast and complicated wheelings, man must feel it shameful to allow the workings of his own little world to degenerate." -pg. 93

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