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23— Education of the Young (Book VIII)
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Education of the Young (Book VIII)

A Limited Program

The illustrations of Book VIII (Figs. 77 and 78), the last book of the Politics , relate to the education of the young, a subject already discussed by Aristotle in the previous book. The formats and settings of Figures 77 and 78 do not indicate, as they did in Book VII (Figs. 74 and 75), that Aristotle is addressing education in the ideal state. A comparison of the size and visual structures of Figures 77 and 78 to those of Book VII reveals a less inventive approach in the Book VIII series. Rather than the fully articulated models of complex concepts pictured in the miniatures of Book VII, the paradigmatic mode of representation affords selective and simplified examples. Indeed, a reading of both Aristotle's text and Oresme's translation suggests a disjunction between the profundity of the ideas expounded and the superficial character of the illustrations. An approach similar to that of the program of Book II (Figs. 55–57) of the Politiques diminishes the rich content of the text to a reductive subject-guide function.

A miniature from the Morgan Avis au roys (Fig. 79) represents a wider range of pursuits appropriate to the upbringing and education of a prince during the different stages of childhood. These phases begin on the upper left, where two attendants bathe a royal baby. The second scene, on the upper right, shows the young prince receiving instruction. In the lower register four youths play ball, an example of appropriate physical exercise. In contrast, Oresme selects for illustration two of Aristotle's main types of instruction necessary for future citizens of the ideal state at different stages of their development: physical education and music. Oresme omits letters (encompassing reading and writing) and drawing, the other two fields of training established by Aristotle.

Formats and Decoration

Figures 77 and 78 adopt a two-register format. The former presents an irregular example inasmuch as the lower register contains one, instead of two, units. The resulting imbalance creates an awkward gap between the left and right halves of the miniature. Although the lower right space is filled with chapter headings, following from where they begin below the lower left miniature, the verbal space


Figure 77
Above, from left:  Trop dure discipline, Bonne discipline pour les armes; Bonne discipline
pour bonnes meurs. Les politiques d'Aristote,  MS  B.


Figure 78
Above : Excercitations corporeles;  below, from left:  A gecte le dart, En musique.
Les politiques d'Aristote, MS  D.


Figure 79
The Stages of Childhood. Avis au roys.

filler protrudes beyond the right margin of the first column and disturbs the symmetrical organization of the folio. With their sharp angles and central points, the elongated interior quadrilobe frames accentuate a discordance between the visual and calligraphic elements of the folio.

Figure 77 is the third folio in B to bear the king's arms, interior quadrilobe frames, and the naturalistically delineated birds and other animals. Like Figures 55 and 56, the author portraits of Book II, these illustrations are the work of the Master of the Coronation of Charles VI; the archaistic character of the style and the reductive program are similar. In Figure 77 the miniaturist introduces accents of colors contrasting with the alternating red and blue organization of the calligraphic and border decoration, such as the green of the ground plane and trees or the pale brown of the psaltery and shields. Most unusually, red and brown tones depict an interior brick wall of a cutaway structure in the lower left compartment. Moreover, the small scale of these figures—perhaps an effort to represent children—seems at odds with the large size of the inscriptions. In short, the delicacy and mannered quality of the grisaille figures contrast with the strong calligraphic and decorative structure of the folio.

In all respects, Figure 78, executed by a member of the workshop of the Coronation Book of Charles V, is far more robust and unified. To regularize the awkwardness of the three-unit configuration in Figure 77, the addition of a fourth


panel in Figure 78 evens out the layout of the folio. Occupying about two-thirds of the text block, Figure 78 thus represents a revision of the arrangement in the Book II illustration in D , where a three-unit, two-register format (Fig. 57) results in an imbalance similar to that of Figure 77. Also rejected in Figure 78 are the interior quadrilobe enframements. The removal of the quadrilobes and the substitution of the heavy interior frames result in small, independent panels that allow an uninterrupted presentation of the figural compositions.

In contrast to the small scale of the figures in Figure 77, those of Figure 78 dominate the space and, as usual, are modeled in grisaille. These forms stand out against the alternating blue and red geometric backgrounds. These features are greatly diminished in the upper left and lower right panels in favor of extended landscape and architectural settings. The miniaturist uses green abundantly to define naturalistic features such as the trees and the grassy, expanded ground plane of the three exterior scenes. A red tone picks out a roof that covers the gray building in the lower right. Despite the flaccid, clumsy style of Figure 78, the illustration shows a greater interest in naturalistic representation than does the archaizing mannerism of Figure 77.

Inscriptions and Texts

Although the inscriptions of Figures 77 and 78 differ, in both miniatures the introductory paragraph forges the general link between text and image: "Ci commence le .viii.e livre de Politiques ouquel il determine de la discipline des joennes gens apres l'eage de .vii. ans. Et contient .xiiii. chapitres" (Here begins the eighth book of the Politics in which he discusses the education of young men after the age of seven. It contains fourteen chapters).[1] The inscriptions of Figure 77 quite effectively relate to this summary by repeating the key word discipline , used in the sense of education or training. In the upper left compartment the words read, "Trop dure discipline," or too difficult training. This phrase describes the activity of three youths. In a landscape setting suggested by three stylized trees, two youthful males are engaged in wrestling, while a third lifts a heavy stone. Opposite this scene, on the upper right, the inscription reads, "Bonne discipline pour les armes," or good training to bear arms. Again, three youths embody the activities named in the inscription. The two on the left are practicing with shields and sticks, while a third prepares to throw a long spear, perhaps a javelin. Below on the left, the inscription indicates "Bonne discipline pour bonnes meurs," or good training for good morals. Within a cutaway doll's-house interior, three standing figures make music. The person on the left plays a psaltery, while two others, guided by a scroll and book respectively, sing together.

In the headings for the first, second, and fourth chapters, further links among the inscriptions of Figure 77 and the text occur in the repetition of the word discipline . Although no reference to this term is found in the index of noteworthy subjects, several appropriate entries occur under enfans , a word that appears in


the headings of the second, fourth, and fifth chapters. Particularly relevant is this reference: "Comment pour disposer les enfans as armes il ne les convient pas nourrir durement ne les faire excerciter en fors labeurs—VIII, 5" (How, in order to prepare children for military pursuits, it is not appropriate to feed them roughly or train them in heavy work—VIII, 5).[2]

In turn this entry relates to a text passage and gloss by Oresme that refer specifically to the verbal and visual message in the upper left unit of Figure 77:

T. Maintenant aucunes des cités qui semblent avoir mesmement cure et sollicitude des enfans, il leur impriment et funt avoir habit athletique, ce est a dire excercitations trop dures et trop fortes. (T. Now some cities which seem to be especially solicitous and concerned about children force them into a training more appropriate to athletes, that is to say, strong exercises which are excessively harsh and exacting.) G. Si comme luicter et porter pierres et vestir armeures pesantes ou faire teles choses. (G. Such as wrestling and carrying rocks and wearing heavy armor or other such occupations.)[3]

Oresme has selected for illustration in a left-to-right sequence, following the order of his gloss, the two examples cited: luicter , or wrestling, and porter pierres , or lifting heavy stones. The somewhat uncouth appearance of these youths in their short tunics and bare feet may allude to both the physical and mental effects of such harsh training. Oresme translates the relevant passage this way:

T. Et ceulz qui renvoient ou mettent les enfans tres grandement ou tres longuement a ces excercitations corporeles, et ceulz qui ce funt et les y mettent sans pedagoge ou maistre qui leur monstre les choses necessaires, il funt les enfans bannauses, ce est a dire rudes de corps et de engin.

(And those who send or put the children excessively or for too long a time to these bodily exercises, and those who do so and put them to it without an instructor or a master to show them what they need to know, make the children vulgar, that is to say, rude in body and mind.)[4]

The definition of the term bannause in the glossary of difficult words further explains the ill effects of such training. Oresme first uses the word to designate a man who engages in "oevres serviles ou deshonestes et viles ou ordes et a fin servile et pour guaing" (servile, dishonest, vile, or filthy work for a low end and for gain). The next sentence describes a physical or physiognomic disposition to such a state:

Et aucuns sunt ad ce enclins de nature ou selon les corps qu'il ont gros et rudes et mal formés ou selon les ames sensitives pour aucune malvese disposition des sens de dedens. Et telz l'en seult appeller vilains natifs .


(And some are inclined to this by nature or according to the gross, uncouth, and deformed bodies or by the sensitive part of the soul to some bad disposition of the external senses. And such people one should call natural villeins.)[5]

In short, the text warns against the physical and mental dangers associated with too-severe training. Such pursuits not only endanger the proper growth of youthful bodies but also prevent the formation of habits for achieving the moral virtue of courage necessary for an adult to fight in battle.

The more desirable forms of physical training represented in the upper right compartment are associated in Oresme's text with lighter forms of exercise, legieres excercitemens .[6] A further entry under enfans in the index of noteworthy subjects clarifies this point: "Comment le nourrissement et l'excercitation des enfans pour les disposer as armes doivent estre ordenés et moderés—VIII, 5" (How the diet and training of children for military pursuits must be organized and moderate).[7] The two forms of physical training seem also to be associated with differences in body types and social classes. The larger heads and stockier forms of the youths on the left contrast with the more refined proportions of their opposite numbers who wear elegant, belted pourpoints or jacques and pointed shoes or poulains . The change in the inscriptions of Figure 78 may result from the reformatting of the miniature, specifically the addition of a fourth compartment. But the shift may also originate in Oresme's dissatisfaction with the generic word discipline as the essential term of the visual definition. Instead, he substitutes three specific descriptors. In the upper register he uses the words excercitations corporeles , or physical exercise. The noun appears in the upper left compartment; the adjective, in the upper right. The phrase thus seems to join the two panels.[8] In contrast, the inscriptions on the lower register lack grammatical coherence either as separate units or as an ensemble. The verb phrase a gecter le dart , to throw an arrow or javelin, may refer to the excercitations corporeles above, but its grammatical connection is somewhat tenuous.

Even more cryptic is the juxtaposition of the lower left inscription with the one opposite, en musique , applied to the seated music-making trio. While music is the subject of the lower left compartment of Figure 77 and is a concrete example of bonne discipline pour bonnes meurs , the word itself is not used. The naming of music as the specific subject of the fourth compartment of Figure 78 reveals Oresme's interest in a field to which, as later discussion will show, he made important contributions. His index of noteworthy subjects devotes over twenty text locations to describing Aristotle's discussion of musique . The second entry is a notable exception to Oresme's system of specific citations in informing the reader that "tout ce qui s'ensuit de musique est en le VIIIe livre" (All that follows about music is in the eighth book).[9]

Subsequent references cite Chapters 7 to 14 as sources of important information about the subject. Such elaborate documentation is consistent with Aristotle's formulation that education in music is an important part of the training of the future citizen. As proper training in gymnastics prepares the bodies of young males in


promoting the virtue of courage, so study of and engagement in music cultivates the mind and serves as a means of moral training. Oresme points out this truth in the index of noteworthy subjects: "Comment soi delecter en musique deuement vault et profite a bonnes meurs—8" (To delight in music properly is valuable and benefits good morals—8).[10] Later entries under musique observe: "Comment bonnes melodies purgent de toutes excessives passions ceulz qui sunt de bonne nature—12" (How good melodies purge excessive passions from those who are of good character—12) and "Comment bonnes melodies meuvent a contemplation et a devotion—12" (How good melodies prompt contemplation and devotion—12).[11] In a reference that recalls the contrast with the harsh training associated with the lower orders, Oresme excludes certain types of music that appeal to inferior social classes: "Comment rudes villains se delectent en autre musique que ne funt ceulz qui sunt de franche nature" (How crude villeins delight in a [type of] music other than that which people of free status make).[12] Oresme also identifies Chapter 10 as the location of information about "Comment ce est expedient que les enfans apprennent musique, et de voiz et de instrumens" (How it is advisable that children learn music, both vocal and instrumental). He then specifies: "Quele musique les enfans doivent apprendre et quele non, et jusques a quele terme" (What music children should and should not learn, and to what point).[13] The lack of any inscription relating to music in Figure 77 and the elliptical reference in Figure 78 afford an example of a disjunction between Oresme's elucidation of profound Aristotelian concepts and their extreme condensation in the verbal and visual summary of the illustrations.

Visual Structures

The somewhat puzzling change from the tightly knit contrasts of the inscriptions in Figure 77 to the series of more fragmentary verbal references in Figure 78 suggests again that revision of the illustrations' formats affected their visual structures. As was previously noted, the most obvious change is the addition of a fourth unit in Figure 78 to the three of Figure 77. The extrapolation of the javelin thrower from the upper right unit of Figure 77 to form the lower left compartment of Figure 78 brings unity to the folio at the expense of certain basic visual relationships. For example, the two upper scenes of Figure 78 are grouped under the single heading of excercitations corporeles . Although the basic disposition of the two scenes preserves the visual contrast between the too harsh and the good types of training, the inscription shared by the two units also indicates parallelism and equivalence. It is possible that Oresme, or the miniaturist responding to instructions conveyed by Raoulet d'Orléans, here does not distinguish between the training with shields and sticks and wrestling and lifting heavy weights as opposite types of physical training. If this interpretation is correct, then the entire upper register of excercitations corporeles offers a united, if somewhat negative, contrast to the lower one.


It is more likely, however, that the additional unit on the lower right of Figure 78 affects the original contrast of good and bad pursuits set up in Figure 77. In the latter, the lower left scene of Bonne discipline pour bonnes meurs offers a clear-cut opposition to the Trop dure discipline in the scene directly above it. Of course, in one sense, the javelin thrower of Figure 78 provides an obvious contrast to the wrestling and stone-lifting figures above him. Unlike these stocky youths in their simple shirts, his clothing, hairstyle, and svelte figure identify him as a member of a higher social class. Since the shield wielders of the upper right also share these characteristics, a common class association seems to unite the two units.

While ambiguous relationships remain among the two scenes of the upper register and the lower left unit of Figure 78, another interpretation of the lower register is possible. By balancing a representation of a proper form of physical exercise with one that stresses cultivation of the soul, Oresme may prefer to suggest a distinction between the two types of training. In a gloss on Chapter 5 the translator amplifies Aristotle's point that

les excercitations qui profitent a faire le corps plus fort et plus agile ne sunt pas profitables a l'entendement pour l'estude. Et au contraire la solicitude de l'estude ne profite pas a la disposition du corps desus dicte. Et ne peut l'en bien faire ces .ii. choses ensemble.

(The physical exercise that improves the agility of the body does not benefit the disposition to study. And in a contrary sense the disposition to study does not benefit the body as stated above. And one cannot do these two things well together.)[14]

The significance of the lower right compartment remains intact. With certain changes in Figure 78, the choice of music as a field of training that develops the moral powers of the soul continues. Unlike the blank wall in the comparable scene of Figure 77, the setting of Figure 78 suggests an interior space with windows. This kind of location may allude to one of Oresme's glosses on Chapter 4 that refers to a persuasive interpretation by an unidentified commentator on a passage from Homer. The explanation concerns a remark by Ulysses on the enjoyment of music "quant les gens sunt joieus et assemblés sus les tecs des maisons" (when people are joyful and assembled on the rooftops of houses). Oresme elaborates:

Mes de ce que il dit quant les gens sunt sus les tects des maisons, ce est pource que en pluseurs lieus les gens s'assemblent sus les terraces des maisons pour disner ou pour eulz esbatre ou pour autre chose, jouxte ce que dit Nostre Seigneur: Quod in aure audistis predicate super tecta.

(But he speaks of this when people gather on the rooftops of houses, that is because in some places people assemble on the terraces of houses to dine, to take their pleasure, or for other reasons, [and to this] Our Lord says: "What you hear whispered you must shout from the housetops.")[15]


Figure 78 also differs from Figure 77 in that the music makers are now seated, with the psaltery player in the center rather than on the left. The three figures exchange attentive glances that indicate the communication and coordination required in making music. Singing to the accompaniment of the psaltery again absorbs the people on the left and right, who respectively hold an open book and a scroll with notes. The emphasis on singing as the musical activity most suited to educating the young derives from the power of melody and rhyme to inspire the soul to virtuous activity.[16] Young people need instruction so that they can play and sing and, without becoming too involved in technical and mechanical matters, judge what distinguishes good music from bad. The group in Figure 78 look like mature individuals rather than youths. Since musical training in Aristotle's scheme belongs to youths between fourteen and twenty-one, in medieval terms this age group could well signify their status as young adults. The dress of the players, particularly the buttoned cloak of the figure on the left, suggests an upper-class context for this pursuit.

If the visual structure of Figure 78 presents certain problems of consistency, the lower register in itself provides contrasts that offer general equivalents of Aristotle's ideas. Proper education of the body that takes place outdoors parallels training of the soul in an interior setting. The meaning of the entire ensemble is, however, less clear than in Figure 77, where the moral consequences of the different types of training are more clearly differentiated in both the inscriptions and the visual structure of the miniature.

Historical and Musical Experience

On the surface, the programs of Figures 77 and 78 do not seem directly to address the historical experience of the Politiques ' primary readers. Yet it is possible that the emphasis on the ill effects of too-harsh physical training may have recalled to Charles, who was a sickly youth, disagreeable experiences of his own knightly training. More inclined to study, he had a reputation as a music lover. In her biography, Christine de Pizan mentions that after meals the king enjoyed listening to music of string instruments to raise his spirits.[17] Following Aristotle's advice in the Politics , Charles would have studied music as part of his education. The French translation of Giles of Rome's De regimine principum, Li livres du gouvernement des rois , prescribes musical training as an aid to the moral development of princes and noble youths.[18] In fact, by the fourteenth century music assumed an important part in religious and secular court ceremonials as emblematic of the rank and authority of the prince.[19] Furthermore, Paris had long enjoyed great prominence in the development of musical theory and practice.[20] The rapid growth during the fourteenth century of the ars nova —with its complex rhythms, separate national styles, and the rise of secular music—had strong ties in France not only to the University of Paris but also to the French court.[21] For example, evidence exists of close ties between the royal family—including Charles V—and the leading poet-


composer of the period, Guillaume de Machaut (1300–1377).[22] As François Avril has clearly shown, manuscripts of Machaut's works, illustrated by miniaturists who worked on books commissioned by John the Good and Charles V, reveal strong links between royal and aristocratic patronage of such works.[23] Especially interesting is Avril's finding that two hands who worked on the illustrations of Machaut's writings are the illuminators of Charles V's first Ethiques and his two Politiques manuscripts: the Master of Jean de Sy and the Master of the Coronation Book of Charles V. A common thread in the pattern of royal patronage is the preference for the vernacular as an instrument of national identity and cultural superiority.

Oresme had his own strong connection with the ars nova and its theorists. In a long gloss on Chapter 7 of Book VIII Oresme cites two of his own writings when he speaks of theories of harmonic proportions and the music of the spheres and their relationship to mathematical theory.[24] During his long association with the University of Paris, Oresme undoubtedly became acquainted with leading theorists of the ars nova . He dedicated his treatise on mathematical ratios, the Algorismus proportionum , to Philippe de Vitry, who in his treatise of 1320, Ars nova , named the new musical movement in which his ideas played a prominent part. As Menut points out, Oresme's dedication was appropriate inasmuch as Philippe's "interest in music was still primarily mathematical, deeply involved with harmonic ratios, isometric rhythms and strictly patterned tonal arrangements."[25] Oresme's contribution to music theory is rooted in his mathematical and scientific interests. V. Zoubov discusses Oresme's contributions in such works as the De configurationibus qualitatitum et motuum , the De commensurabilitate vel incommensurabilitate motuum celi , and the commentary in his translation of On the Heavens . Zoubov also mentions Oresme's still-unknown treatise on the division of the monochord.[26] Oresme's glosses on Book VIII of the Politiques confirm his genuine appreciation and knowledge of the theoretical, aesthetic, and intellectual traditions of music.

The involvement of Charles V and Oresme in contemporary musical life seems especially to contradict the rather terse illustrations of Figures 77 and 78. Aristotle's theories on the education of future citizens of the ideal state find updated and concretized visual summaries. As examples of a paradigm, the illustrations serve simple indexical rather than lexical functions. Perhaps the familiarity of Oresme's primary readers with the subject accounts for the perfunctory character of the scenes. As in the illustrations of Books II (Figs. 55–57), the simplified content of Figure 77 coincides with an archaistic style and elegant decorative presentation favored by the workshop of the Master of the Coronation of Charles VI.


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23— Education of the Young (Book VIII)
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