The Anathemata

Middle-sea and Lear-sea (continued)

But sixty-eight years, since

in came the Principatea

and the beginnings of the end and the waxing of the megalopolis and the acute coarsening of the forms, the conscious revivals, the eclectic grandeur

. . . the grand years

since we began our

Good Time Coming.b

And already, on every commodity and on the souls of men, the branded numerals: sexcenti sexaginta sex.1

David Jones notes

1 Cf. The Apocalypse of St John, xiii, 16-18.

additional notes

DJ note 1: The passage reads [11] ‘And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. . . . [16] And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: [17] And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. [18] Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six’.

Interpretations of this text are numerous, but there is no ‘official’ interpretation. In general, it is considered a bad mark to have.

a The emperor Augustus, as he later became, was born as Gaius Octavius. Historians typically refer to him simply as Octavius (or Octavian) between his birth in 63 until his posthumous adoption by Julius Caesar in 44 BCE. Upon his adoption by Caesar, he took Caesar’s name and become Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus. Historians refer to him as Octavian between 44 BCE and 27 BCE, when following his defeat of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra in 31 CE, he was given the title of Princeps Civitatis (First Citizen of the State). It is the events of 27 BCE from which he obtained his traditional name of Augustus (sacred, a religious title), which historians use in reference from 27 BCE until his death in 14 CE. A very lengthy biography can be found in Wikipedia. His reign (the Principate) was a period of constitutional stability — the grand years of the empire, the good times before the beginning of its decline and fall (which Gibbon dates to 180 CE). Some people relate the growth of the Roman megalopolis to the decline of its poetry, though such a decline during the period under consideration is disputable.

bThere’s a Good Time Coming was a popular poem written by Charles Mackay and set to music by Henry Russell and was one of that composer of popular music’s best-known works in the middle of the nineteenth century. Independent testimony quoted by John Dodds indicates that the song was popular with new immigrants to the United States; it was recorded as being sung on the emigrant ships as they approached New York Harbour.

‘There’s a good time coming, boys, a good time coming/We may not live to see the day, but Earth shall glisten in the ray of the good time coming: /Cannonballs may aid the truth, But thought’s a weapon stronger: /We’ll win our battle with its aid;- Wait a little longer. /The pen shall supersede the sword, /And right not might, shall be the lord /In the good time coming; /Worth, not truth, shall rule mankind, /And be acknowledged stronger.’



Sixty-eight years from the beginning of the Principate (27 CE) gives a date of 41 CE. Perhaps ‘fifty-eight’ was meant?

semantic structures

‘the beginnings of the end’ is semantically related by chiasmus to ‘the end of the beginnings’ in the previous paragraph.