Poseideon / XI Kal. Jan. / SS Chaeremon and Ischyrion of Egypt (3rd century) / December 22nd: Technodoulia

When I was in college my friends and I used to taunt each other with accusations of “technodoulos!” if one of us seemed to rely too heavily on technology to do work he could have done well enough for himself with his own two hands or, more often, brain.

The commute home from the heart (K street) of our nation’s capital tonight, which took, all told, about 105 minutes, predisposed me to be more receptive to the best thing I read today. I thought I was going to be sitting here writing about Sophocles again (I’m sure I will, often, in the next few months), but Tolkien, my five-year-old son, and what I hold to be the single greatest cause of evil in the world, the automobile, fixed my heart on this little gem:

“There in the shadows on a large flat stone sat a tremendous goblin with a huge head, and armed goblins were standing round him carrying the axes and the bent swords that they use. Now goblins are cruel, wicked, and bad-hearted. They make no beautiful things, but they make many clever ones. They can tunnel and mine as well as any but the most skilled dwarves, when they take the trouble, though they are usually untidy and dirty. Hammers, axes, swords, daggers, pickaxes, tongs, and also instruments of torture, they make very well, or get other people to make to their design, prisoners and slaves that have to work till they die for want of air and light. It is not unlikely that they invented some of the machines that have since troubled the world, especially the ingenious devices for killing large numbers of people at once, for wheels and engines and explosions always delighted them, and also not working with their own hands more than they could help; but in those days and those wild parts they had not advanced (as it is called) so far. They did not hate dwarves especially, no more than they hated everybody and everything, and particularly the orderly and prosperous; in some parts wicked dwarves had even made alliances with them. But they had a special grudge against Thorin’s people, because of the war which you have heard mentioned, but which does not come into this tale; and anyway goblins don’t care who they catch, as long as it is done smart and secret, and the prisoners are not able to defend themselves.”

(speaking of Christmas music…)

Remember, thou, O man!

Not bad for a man living at the dawn of the automobile age, and one who had watched his fellows die in the trenches of the Great War.

Thanks, dear reader, should you ever find me, for being the gadfly of my discipline.



About philokalos

Philologist, historian, and lover of great books, I started this blog to keep myself alert to the beauty of what I see amid the demands of my work.
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