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First Word

What a ludicrous month of travel I’ve had. In the past forty days, I’ll have flown on sixteen different airplanes! Aaagh! On the one hand, it's terribly gruesome that I always feel compelled to say something on the Corvus list whenever I'm about to fly off somewhere. Still, in today's world of terrorism and disgruntled union workers, I never really know if this flight or the next may be "the one." On the flip side, I never regret the opportunity to let you all know how much I love you, so that's my silver lining!

Thankfully, I’m never ashamed to express my emotions in that way. I’m equally thankful that you don’t mistake my heart-on-my-sleeve demeanor for a weakness - as some sadly misguided people choose to do. They mistake my easy, good nature for something soft. However, we all know that my love for you is a source of great strength. Just as I hope my own love and support can be a source of strength and comfort for each of you to draw upon.

What with everything going on, I never had the chance to officially (well, within the Roundtable anyway) congratulate our own Guillaume de Bracy on his investiture as the newest Baron of Hidden Mountain! This makes Guillaume the eleventh member of House Corvus to be in the running for a territorial coronet and the fourth member to actually serve in this capacity.

His Excellency, Baron Guillaume of Hidden Mountain.

It’s a very mixed bag of emotions that go along with the entire nomination/polling/selection process. Thank you to everyone who shared their opinions and advice with Guillaume prior to his selection as Hidden Mountain’s next Baron. I know he’ll continue to benefit from your guidance and experience even as he forges his own, unique path as Hidden Mountain’s new coronet. It’s a long, tiring, joyous, painful road he’s set himself upon. But the road can be more easily navigated with our support and encouragement. Good luck, Your Excellency! We’re all here for you!

So, my Cannes schedule was amazingly full, but I think I managed to send everyone a postcard, at least. I know that‘s only a small thing, but I so rarely have time for more elaborate epistles when I travel. But I always want you to know, as often as I can manage, just how much I think of you. Sadly, I’m always limited by time, money, or ability. Still, I’d rather try and fail than not try at all.

No sooner did I get home from Europe though, then I jumped right back on another plane (literally, the very next day!) and winged my way to Seattle to finally visit Michael O’, Krystyne, Mackenzie, and Colin! It’d been a year since I last made it out there and I couldn’t wait to see them! Seeing them at the airport was such a genuine joy - like a family reunion - which, for me, it was!

We spent several days catching up and I had the chance to meet several of their friends during dinners out and a great gaming night one evening at the house. We even went to an SCA event! On Saturday, June 5th, we attended June Faire, a huge demo/event held annually by the Barony of Dragon's Laire in the Kingdom of An Tir’s Western Region. It’s always fun to see how other SCA groups handle their events, so I’m really glad we went.

Of course, spending time with the kids is always fun! They have grown so much! We had a lot of fun together. Between our time out, our really cool ferry ride to Seattle, restaurants, even watching tv - I had a great time. Though I continue to be constantly amazed at just how much Mike and Christine can juggle. You guys overwhelm me!

When I mentioned to Christine that I had last month’s Roundtable just sitting in my computer (I was too busy to print and mail it), she suggested that I just send them together. So, that’s exactly what I did. Enjoy your multiple copies this month! --BRAN

Courtly Virtues

(jûs'-tîs; ME. justice, Lt. justitia, from justus, 12th c.)

Rooted in Socratic philosophy, Plato defines the four virtues later adopted by Medieval philosophers, with modifications by St. Thomas Aquinas. While Classical Greek philosophers considered the foremost virtues to be prudence, temperance, courage, and justice, Plato states that, "Wisdom is the chief and leader: next follows temperance; and from the union of these two with courage, springs justice.”

In the Middle Ages, justice is primarily a moral virtue that consists of the constant and firm commitment to give your due to both God and neighbor. Justice towards God is called the “virtue of religion.” Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of individuals. The goal, of course, being to establish the harmony that promotes equity with regard to all persons and to the common good of the community. The just man is thus distinguished by habitual right thinking and the honorableness of his conduct toward his neighbor. While we institute a system of laws to govern specific aspects related to “justice,” it’s the basic, mutual respect we afford others in society that more accurately reflects the virtue itself.

Justice hinges on the concept of jus. That is, something which is inherently owed to another. Because man is a being created in the image of God, he has a certain dignity and intrinsic worth superior to the material and animal world by which he is surrounded. While more modern thinkers may question man’s innate dominion over creation, that was not a Medieval consideration. Mankind can know. He is capable of love. And he can worship his Creator. Indeed, medieval church doctrine contended that mankind was created for that end. God gave mankind the mental faculties and free will so that he might freely work for the accomplishment of his destiny. Because of this, a man is duty bound to strive to fulfill the designs of his Creator.

As he is under these obligations, mankind is consequently invested with rights. These rights are God-given, antecedent to the State and independent of it. Such are man's natural rights, granted to him by creation itself, sacred and inviolable. In addition to these, he may have other rights given to him by the Church, the State, or acquired by his own industry and exertion. All these rights, whatever their source, are the object of the virtue of justice. One may make a claim to justice whenever these rights are violated as they are his inalienable due. Ultimately, justice requires that all persons should be left in the free enjoyment of all their rights.

While the rights which belong to every human being, inasmuch as they are a person, are absolute and inalienable. Of course, it falls to both the Church and State to use their systems of law to help define just what those rights are. But it also falls to individuals within any community to explore and define those same divine rights. Classical philosophers as well as their medieval counterparts accepted all claims to basic concepts such as: the right to life and limb; the essential freedom necessary for a man to attain the destiny for which he is destined by God; the right to marry or remain single. From Socrates to Thomas Aquinas, it was accepted that such rights as these may not be infringed by any human authority whatsoever. We have simplified this to the basic American guarantees to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

It’s both ironic and somewhat tragic that in our own modern American culture, we have failed to live up to these basic, ancient human rights. Consider this fundamental Medieval notion: no person can become the property of another human being, slavery in that sense is repugnant to the dignity of human nature. But a man may, by various titles, have the right to the labor of another. While it may be a laughable use of semantics to separate slavery from serfdom, the attempt is still there to remain true to the virtue of justice. Whereas, America simply had an institution of slavery and men as property. And now, we’re attempting to regulate another ancient right: marriage. Our track record for upholding even the four cardinal virtues isn’t so great.

Fortunately, we can do a much better job of incorporating the virtue of justice in to our own lives as well as the SCA. Since justice is a moral quality which inclines us to render to each person what is due them, even simple acts such as basic courtesy, deference to the Crown, respecting people’s property are manifestations of it. As the final Cardinal Virtue, rendering Justice involves not only the punishment of sins and crimes, but generally acting fairly and honestly. Justice seeks to tell the truth, yet not to bring harm through gossip. The pursuit of justice leads people to address societal ills and to take up for the underdog, also to keep promises. Simply put, it not only helps us separate what’s right from what’s wrong, it demands that we do the right thing. Whether you’re a moral relativist or a moral absolutist (like myself), in everyday life, we’re rarely confronted by deep, moral conundrums to which we don’t have easy answers. Indeed, thanks to the virtue of Justice, we do indeed know “right” from “wrong.”

The Raven in Astronomy

Corvus, the Raven or Crow, is a small constellation of ancient origin, to which Ptolemy assigned seven stars. It can be recognized by four prominent stars in a trapezium shape. The fifth star, alpha Corvi, is so much less bright than the others that it may have decreased in light since 1603. The ancient Greeks called this constellation "the Raven".

In legend, Corvus is associated with the neighboring constellation of Crater, the Cup, and Hydra, the Water Snake. One day the Sun-god, Apollo, sent his pet raven down to Earth to bring the thirsty god a cup of fresh water. Sadly, Apollo's sacred raven was not a very dependable bird. On arriving at the spring, the raven saw that a fig tree was just beginning to bear fruit. "What matter if I wait only a few days until the fruit ripens?" the raven asked itself. And so it waited.

When the fruit ripened the raven then stayed several more days eating the fruit until it was all gone. He then filled the cup with fresh spring water but realized that his master would be angry for the long delay. Then he noticed a water-serpent nearby and grasped it in his claws. So with cup in mouth and serpent dangling from his claws, the raven flew up to Olympus, explaining to Apollo that the serpent had attacked him and that is what caused the delay.

Apollo was not taken in by the lie. And he was so angry with the bird that he flung him, cup and serpent in to the heavens where we see them together in the sky as Crater, the Cup, and Corvus, the Raven, perched on the serpent's back. This myth gave rise to two alternate manes for Corvus as a constellation: Avis Ficarius, or "the Fig Bird," and Emansor, or "One Who Lingers Too Long." For the Greeks, this story explains why, of all birds, the raven does not carry water to its young. Apollo also condemned the raven to suffer from eternal thirst, which is why ravens croak so harshly.

Corvus is going to be a challenge for some Northern Hemisphere sky gazers to catch because it's very low on the southern horizon in the Northern Hemisphere. To find Corvus, look north in the early evening (9:00pm) in May and find the trapezium shape. Right Ascension: 12 hours, Declination: -20 degrees (use the bright star Spica in Virgo to aid orientation.)

(alpha) Corvi, or Alchiba, is a magnitude 4.0 white star 68 light years away.

(beta) Corvi, or Kraz, is a magnitude 2.7 yellow giant star 290 light years away.

(gamma) Corvi, or Gienah Ghurab, is a magnitude 2.6 blue-white star 190 light years away.

delta) Corvi, or Algorab, is a wide double star 120 light years away. The brightest component visible to the unaided eye, is a magnitude 3.0 white star, that is accompanied by (eta) Corvi, a magnitude 8.4 star often described as purplish in color. A good site to check out would be:

Corvus Calendar

JUNE 2004
4th - Rowen’s birthday.
5th - Atlantia: Kingdom University in Falcon Cree (Fountain Inn, SC).
12th - Ansteorra: Winter Collegium in Westgate (Houston, TX).
12th - Atlantia: Wastelands in Hindscroft (Pleasant Garden, NC).
12th - Atlantia: Warrior’s Games in Tear Sea’s Shore (Harleyville, SC).
19th - Atlantia: Baronial Investiture in Hawkwood (Asheville, SC).
25th - Joseph’s birthday.
26th - Krystyne’s birthday.
30th - Alessandra’s birthday.

JULY 2004
3rd - West: An Tir/West War in CA.
8th - Sine’s birthday.
10th - Atlantia: Colossus of Rhodes in Crois Brigte (Winston-Salem, NC).
10th - Ansteorra: Coronation & Ansteorran 25th Year Celebration in Canton, TX.
15th - Umberto’s birthday.
17th - Atlantia: Southern War Practice/A&S Symposium in Misty Marsh by the Sea (Florence, SC).
17th - Trimaris: Res Textilia in Shire Storm (Clearwater, FL).
21st - Una’s birthday.
23rd - Chloe’s birthday.

Last modified on Wednesday, November 26, 2008
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