Dispatches from Maine

Just another person of little note writing about ordinary things. That I reside in Maine is icing on the cake.

10 February 2008

Ars Quatuor Coronatorum on Google Book Search

Studying the ritual is its own great reward. I had another fun disagreement about the meaning of this section of the Entered Apprentice Apron presentation:

...more ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle, more honorable than the Star and Garter or any other order that can be conferred upon you by Prince, King, Potentate or any other person except he be a Mason...

The latter two are well understood by all to refer to an order of knighthood in England and one in France: Order of the Garter (c1346) and Order of the Star (1352). I recall reading that the former two are also chivalric orders and do not, in fact, refer to Greek mythology and the symbol of the Roman legions. Details about the Order of the Golden Fleece (c1430) were easily found onWikipedia. I was not able to find anything about a chivalric order related to the Roman Eagle, but I suspect with more work I can unearth the original references.

In the process of all this research, I was delighted to stumble upon a number of old Ars Quatuor Coronatorum on Google Books! Any student of Masonic history will have their breathe taken away by the paper from Bro. Hughan "The York Grand Lodge - A Brief Sketch". Then on page 20, in the responses to the paper, there are comments from none other than Bro. Chetwoode Crawley! Finding this material online is like finding a great treasure in your basement.

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At 27 March, 2008 16:08 , Blogger Wayfaring Man said...

The Roman Eagle (Aquila) was a statuette given to each legion following the reforms of Marius in about 100 B.C. It was typically a bronze or silver figure, small enough to be carried in the hands but placed aloft a pole and held by a standard-bearer (signifer) during battle. It undoubtedly served the same function as regimental flags during the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe and North America. And sure enough, Napoleon I, ever conscious of imperial glory, added a stylized eagle (Aigle) to the flagstaffs of his Grande Armee. These eagles were highly sought after by British troops who would undergo considerable risk to wrench one from the hands of the French and the loss of an eagle brought disgrace to the unit concerned.

I think the ritual can be read that the Roman eagle it is a mark of distinction and, in use during Rome's imperial glory, a gaudy sign of prestige, yet it pales against the singular honor of the simple lambskin apron.


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