|A Reader's Guide
to William Gaddis's The Recognitions
II.9 pp. pages 700-719
700.epigraph] Vicisti, Galilæa. - Julian, dying words: "'Thou hast prevailed, O man of Galilee.'" Thus Phythian-Adams ends his Mithraism, quoting the "dying words of [Sol Invictus's] noblest and most devoted follower, that bitter cry of one who saw in his own untimely end the doom of all the hopes that he had cherished for the ultimate salvation of his Empire - " (M 95). See 419.1 for Julian the Apostate, and cf. Captain de Mun's use of the Latin phrase at 76.39.
700.2] cock of fire: a repetition of the phoenix allusion that opens II.3 (see 390.1).
701.36] Carthusian monastery [...] Abd-er-Rahman: all these rumors are repeated from p. 9.
702.28] figure in the branches of a tree [...] up the lawn toward the parsonage: from the Mithraic "Episode of the Bull" as described in M (56-57):
The god is first seen in the branches of a tree, apparently on the look out for his prey. The Bull is in the safe shelter of its stable, but Mithra contrives to elude its shepherd guardian [...], and compels the animal to break cover. A wild pursuit ensues. The Hero-god, clasping his quarry round the neck, is at first carried away by its headlong rush: his feet leave the ground, and he literally flies through the air. At last his valour and perseverance are rewarded: the beast is overcome and submits to being mounted or led by its captor. But, for some reason, Mithras is little satisfied with this method of progress. First he flings the animal round his shoulders and carries it in the well-known attitude of the "Hermes Criophoros" or the "Good Shepherd": then, as he nears his Cave, he grasps its hind legs and drags it backwards into the place of Sacrifice where with glances of mingled fear and triumph he consummates the Demiurgic Act.
703.3] charity [...] a voice sounding like a tinkling cymbal, and another sounding brass: from 1 Cor. 13:1.
703.17] interior of the church: the description of the church's conversion into a Mithræum follows M 44-46.
703.29] Natalis Invicti Solis: "Birthday of the Invincible Sun"; see 432.37.
703.34] The birth of the Unconquered Sun [...] pledge of his own: not a quotation, but cobbled together from phrases in Geden's introduction to SPIM .
704.1] Transitus dei: "The long pursuit and wearisome return of the hunter [Mithra] was called by the Initiated the Transit of the God (Transitus dei)" (M 58).
704.6] Cultores Solis Invicti Mithrae: the designation of members of Mithraism's religious communities (M 65).
704.13] We sacrifice unto Mithra [...] a God invoked by his own name: this and the liturgy that follows are adapted (via SPIM 19-23) from the Avesta (see 718.6) as translated by James Darmesteter and L. H. Mills for the Sacred Books of the East, ed. F. Max Müller, vols. 23 and 31 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1883 and 1887). Most of the following formulas are from the "Mihir Yast" (Hymn to Mithra, Yast no. 10), a sacrificial liturgy dating from the fifth century B.C., addressed to Mithra (SBE 23:119-58). Rev. Gwyon quotes first not from the Mihir Yast, however, but verbatim from Sîrôzah 2, 16 (SBE 23:17), a prayer addressed to Mithra as the presiding deity of the sixteenth day of the month. The Mihir Yast opens in much the same manner: "Unto Mithra, the lord of the wide pastures, who has a thousand ears, ten thousand eyes, a Yazata invoked by his own name, and unto Râma Hvâstra, / Be propitiation, with sacrifice, prayer, propitiation, and glorification" (23:119); see 705.17.
704.16] We sacrifice unto Mithra [...] ever awake: Mihir Yast 2.7 (23:121), a refrain repeated thereafter at the beginning of each chapter.
704.20] We sacrifice unto Mithra [...] swift-horsed sun: Mithra is not addressed as "the lord of all countries" until the last chapter (35.145 [23:158]); the Khôrshêd Yast (Hymn to the Sun, Yast no. 6) begins: "We sacrifice unto the undying, shining, swift-horsed Sun" (23:85); this hymn was recited particularly on days consecrated to Mithra and/or the sun.
704.22] For his brightness and glory [...] of wide pastures: 1.4 (23:120), a refrain repeated thereafter at the end of each chapter (though the verb in the original is "will offer" rather than "have offered").
704.26] May he come to us for help [...] of wide pastures: 1.5 (23:120-21); in the original, each statement is followed by an exclamation point rather than a period.
704.36] On whichever side [...] the wise: 2.9 (23:122).
704.43] With a sacrifice [...] beneficent Mithra: 8.31 (23:127); "will" rather than "do" in the original.
705.1] Should the evil thoughts [...] evil words [...] evil deeds [...] of the heavenly Mithra: 27.106 (23:146-47); good thoughts, good words, and good deeds were the three basic commandments of Zoroaster.
705.17] To Mithra [...] the Yazad of the spoken name [...] and praise: from the Gâh Hâvan, the first of the five Gâhs (prayers to be said during the five divisions of the day; the Hâvani was from six to ten A.M.). Verse two reads: "And to Mithra of the wide pastures, of the thousand ears, of the myriad eyes, the Yazad of the spoken name, be sacrifice, homage, propitiation, and praise, and to Râman Hvâstra" (31:379). "Yazad" (like Yazata) means a god; Râma(n) Hvâstra, whose name is often linked with Mithra's, is described elsewhere as "the Genius that gives good abodes and good pastures" (23:249).
708.13] Saint John, and that vernal episode involving Lazarus [...] and the Life: John 11.
708.24] Psalm Number 89, - Till I thy foes thy footstool make: from Psalm 110, not 89; no hymn in PH is based on either psalm.
708.41] Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik: "A Little Night Music" is one of Mozart's most popular orchestral pieces.
710.22] Malay Magic and Libellus [...] Tumultibus: see 23.30-31.
710.27] Baxter's Everlasting Rest: Richard Baxter (1615-91), English Puritan scholar and writer, author of The Saint's Everlasting Rest (1650), a spirited case for the Christian life.
710.27] Fisher's Catechism: probably James A. Fisher's The Shorter Catechism Explained (1769; 1st American ed. 1788).
710.29] Andrew Jackson Davis's Penetralia: see 35.40.
710.30] "Dick" [...] Richard: a satire, says Gaddis, on Richard "Dick" Nixon (1913-94), then senator from California (WG/SM).
710.33] Buffon's Natural History: see 29.32.
710.37] Tissandier's Histoire des ballons: see 53.8.
710.40] two volumes of Lew Wallace: see 438.25.
710.41] Jules Verne's Tour of the Moon, Round the World in Eighty Days, and Five Weeks in a Balloon: English translations of three novels by the famous French adventure-story writer (1828-1905).
712.35] Mister Farisy: cf. Pharisee, a member of the orthodox Jewish sect accused of complacency and hypocrisy in the Gospels (especially Matt. 23). Farisy's experiment, described below, was actually performed in the late 1970s (and featured on an episode of the television series In Search Of), from which it was concluded that the nails were driven through the wrists.
712.42] Congregation of the Sacred Rites: the Sacrorum Rituum Congregatio, established in 1588, supervises the beatification and canonization of saints and everything relating to holy relics, as well as liturgical matters.
713.14] did Barabbas go free?: apparently: see Matt. 27:26.
715.3] the assassination of James A. Garfield: in 1881.
715.35] felt every bit as strongly about tobacco as did [...] King James: three quotations from the monarch's A Counterblast to Tobacco (1604) are given in ODQ.
715.43] Hymn Number 347 [...] Our ex-iled fa-thers crossed the sea: heard earlier at 390.14.
716.23] SENSATION: fictitious; "I'd thought that one day I might write a novel with this title & so a little advance billing" (WG/SM).
716.28] a passage [...] from Katherine Mansfield: see 304.38.
716.33] Saint Peter [...] "weaker vessel": 1 Pet. 3:7.
717.20] "these quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore": the second line of Poe's famous poem "The Raven."
718.4] Tertullian and Origen: see 420.12, 15-16; 436.39.
718.5] Sozomen: Salaminius Hermias Sozomen (early fifth century), Greek Christian historian; a passage from his Ecclesiastical History about a Mithraic shrine is quoted in SPIM (69-70). (See note on the hermit Paul at 843.26.)
718.5] Zosimus: see 131.10. His remarks on Mithraism are quoted in SPIM (74-75).
718.6] Avesta : the sacred texts of Zoroastrianism. "Antedating, as they do, by many centuries the rise of Mithraism in the later and more technical meaning of the term," Geden concedes, "they illustrate and define the character of the god who held the supreme position in this later cult" (SPIM 19). Phythian-Adams concurs, and guesses that Mithraic liturgies resembled (or were derived from) the hymns in the Avesta ( M 6).
718.13] I Corinthians: see 1:18-25 to unscramble Dick's quotations.
719.8] Justin Martyr [...] Arnobius, Firmicus Maternus: see 536.16, 429.41, and 436.40 respectively.
719.9] Augustine Bishop of Hippo [...] the ex-Manichee Hippian bishop: shortly after reading Cicero's Hortensius in 373, Augustine joined the Manichee sect; but after he met a Manichee leader named Faustus of Milevis, doubts began to assail him, and he finally converted to Christianity in 385. He later wrote several anti-Manichaean books, including On Free Will and Against Faustus the Manichee.
719.10] Paul of Nola: Meropius Pontius Paulinus of Nola (353-431), Christian Latin writer, a correspondent with Saint Augustine. Cited at 903.16.
719.13] "For evil spirits [...] followers of Christ": from Augustine's On the Trinity (4.11), as quoted in SPIM (p. 64, where Geden quotes a brief remark of his on Mithraism).
719.19] panegyric upon Julian written by Himerius [...] a better life": Himerius (fl. fourth century), Greek Sophist and rhetorician, was a secretary to Julian; his panegyric is quoted in SPIM (60-61).
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