The Grail Code 
What they thought of Aristotle

The big news for Aristotle’s legions of screaming fans is the latest find from the Archimedes Palimpsest. A palimpsest, as you probably already know (so you can skip to the end of this sentence, if it ever does end) is a book written on top of another book: the pages are carefully scraped off and then used again, because you can’t afford to waste good parchment.

You may recall that the Archimedes Palimpsest is so named from the fact that it was written on top of an otherwise lost work of the great Archimedes, famous for running wet and naked through the streets of Alexandria, which is how they used to celebrate an important scientific discovery back in those days. It was always a party town, but at least Alexandria had a good sense of what was worth celebrating.

But Archimedes was only part of the book. With sophisticated digital imaging, scholars have also been able to recover a previously lost work by the Greek orator Hyperides. And now comes the news that a third lost work has been uncovered from the same manuscript: an ancient commentary on Aristotle.

Speaking as a big Aristotle fan myself (in college my senior thesis was entitled Jazz and the Division of the Soul, and yet I still graduated somehow), I just can’t tell you how exciting this is. Here is a glimpse at how ancient teachers interpreted the foundations of all Western logic. If you don’t think logic is exciting, try imagining how the computer you’re looking at right now would work without it.

So for once I’m not even attempting to ease the subject around to the Holy Grail. Although, as readers of The Grail Code may recall, the best medieval Grail romances were written just as Aristotle was making his big comeback in western Europe. Coincidence? Maybe, and maybe not.

The really tantalizing thing is that the Archimedes Palimpsest was recycled from five old books. Three have been deciphered so far. What’s in those other two? I can hardly wait to find out.

2 Responses to “What they thought of Aristotle”

  1. Mike Says:

    What’s in those other two? The Holy Grail of lost manuscripts, no doubt!

  2. nike hyperdunk low Says:

    Wow… I was just surfing around and took a look at these comments. I can’t believe that there’s still this much attention. Thanks for posting about this.

Leave a Reply

(C) 2006 Mike Aquilina and Christopher Bailey