Historical setting: 589 C.E. Trier
In Trier we’ve been granted permission for Ana to visit the storage of old writings. We asked about a library, but it seems what they call a library is damp cellar room stacked with books and old manuscripts. I’d call it a dungeon, but the only crime punished here is that of writing in unspoken languages. I remember Hebrew. I remember Greek, and I even have a recollection of five hundred-year-old Latin. While my very brilliant wife seems lost in a moldy mire of strangely twisted lettering, I can be of assistance in her search. I’ve located some ancient medical books in Greek. It appears that in a far, by-gone time scholars writing in Greek performed autopsies on cadavers and came up with some maps of human anatomy. [footnote] Ana poured over these papyrus pages always turning to the next hoping, hoping to see the thing she needs to see most: the anatomy of a pregnant woman. Where is the baby kept? How is it placed among the vital organs of the mother? The one source we did find had only sketches of men. Several of the ancients mapped the anatomy of animals, but Ana has a very specific question.
As we bid our departure to our hosts here in Trier the bishop’s assistant asks if I may take a message from this bishop on to the King of Burgundy. That would be Columbanus’s benefactor, King Guntram.
“Yes, we will be going on to Orleans. That’ll be our last stop to see the king before we go on our own way to the vineyards on the Loire. So surely we can deliver another message to the king.” Apparently this bishop has chosen to make his argument directly to the king, rather than simply read the letter making little asides to this messenger.
It will be a two-day journey parting from the riverside, and following a horse path through the forests to Laon.
We are riding north, and it’s such a distance I’m wondering if the bishops of the north are also making complaints to Father Columbanus based on reports from their own pilgrims, or if the argument against the Celtic Rule is simply based on rumors among bishops. It’s a puzzlement to me, because I think each of these churchmen considers himself a sovereign. His authority would not be swayed by opinions of distant bishops.
[footnote] This was not a likely find because, as explained in a document: retrieved by this author on 11-21-21, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2589595/ Yale J Biol Med. 1992 May-Jun”;65(3): 223-241. “The discovery of the body: human dissection and its cultural contexts in Ancient Greece” by H. von Staden, an idea of the connection between body and soul prohibited such investigation even in ancient Greece. If fictional Ana had found any trace of this she would have seen the work of Herophilus of Chalcedon and Erasistratus of Ceos.
(Continues Tuesday, July 19)