How the Irish Saved the Civilization

As long as the Roman Empire was fallen, in Ireland monks made copies of books about the humankind history. They copied all books they could – not only the Gospels but also secular literature as Greek and Latin classics – “they did not care” about “going to hell”. Writing and reading was new and a pleasure to them. That pleasure, and sometimes the fatigue and disappointment with the work of writing, were described on the margins, of the old manuscripts. One young scriber, you don’t know if a monk or just a student, digress:

All are keen
To know who’ll sleep with blond Aideen.
All Aideen herself will own
Is that will not sleep alone.

Another book’s page, some else complain about his mate’s calligraphy:

It is easy to spot Gabrial’s work here.

Someone, tired of copying old Greek, curse:

There’s an end to that – and seven curses with it!

You could see that those monks are not mere scribers – they understood what they were copying – as this one, after copying this passage about Hector’s death in Troy, had written:

I am greatly grieved at the above-mentioned death.

And this monk, who touch me:

Sad it is, little parti-colored white book, for a day will surely come when someone will say over your page: “the hand that wrote this is no more”.

I figure then out in freezing nights inside the Round Tower in Glendalough, hidden with their precious manuscripts, and praying to God asking the sea take the Vikings away. The Vikings, when the sea was calm used to invade the coast and plunder everything – and being illiterate, they destroyed the books to steal the precious stones that was setting on their book covers.

Bitter is the wind this night
Which tosses up the ocean’s hair so white.
Merciless men I need fear
Who cross from Lothland on an ocean clear.

Version of the same poem from The Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland,

The wind is fierce to-night
It tosses the sea’s white hair
I fear no wild Vikings
sailing the quiet main.

Vikings won and stayed two centuries in Ireland. They founded cities as Dublin, Cork, Wexford, Waterford etc. The Irish monks saved what they could and run to the world with them.

  • My comments are about the book How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill.

2 comentários sobre “How the Irish Saved the Civilization

  1. I find the idea of the round tower fascinating. Is there any evidence that it protected the monks? That the entrance was 10ft up; was this high enough? Was it ever attacked, and if so what happened? Did they store food. Was there a spring inside or did they store water? I imagine(who wouldn’t) watching the Vikings approach. What did they do. Did they besiege it, build a sort
    of ladder?
    The door. What was that like? Assailable at 10ft I’d imagine. What about their belongings., their livestock?
    Anyway, the idea of ferocity opposed by meticulous preparation is fascinating to me and is exemplified by my imaginings about the round tower.
    Dennis Currie.

    Hello Dennis!

    I don’t know very much about the towers, the round towers. I visited Ireland years ago and have visited Glendalough, and I think, seeing the tower, it could be a bit difficult to climb to door, but not impossible if the Vikings build a sort of ladder, as you said. But take a look at these sites, maybe they can help you to know more about the towers, not only in Glendalough but also other places as Cashel, Clonmacnoise etc.

    Glendalough a virtual tour
    The Round Towers of Ireland

    thanks for visiting my Pillowbook, Raquel

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