The Anathemata

Middle-sea and Lear-sea (continued)

What centuries less

since the formative epochs, the sign-years in Saturn’s tellus,1 in the middle lands of it? For even for the men with the groma,2 even for the men of rule, whose religio is rule

for the world-orderers

for the world-syndicate

even for us

whose robbery is conterminous with empires3

there was a: Once there was . . .

and wonder-years

and wanderers tall tale to tell


by sea, by land

fore-chosen site

decalogue, dodecalogue gravenb

tabernacled flame

palladiac come down.

David Jones notes

1 Saturn’s tellus = Italy.

2 The Roman surveyor’s measuring instrument.

3 Cf. Augustine,City of God, IV, 4.

additional notes

DJ note 1: the synonym is used for the sake of a Virgilian allusion, Aeneid 8.319ff., where Evander explains to Aeneas how Saturn, expelled by Jupiter, settled in Italy. Then (v.329) ‘saepius et nomen posuit Saturnia tellus’, ‘time and again the land of Saturn laid aside her name’. In the word ‘religio’ is contained the notion of a bond or restraint, so that there is a complex interplay of meanings in ‘even for the men of rule, whose religio is rule’ : the material instrument for measurement, or ruler, the immaterial bond of respect for the sacred, the material restraints imposed by the ‘world-orderers’, the immaterial notion of order, the most material cupidities of the ‘world-syndicate’, of which Augustine speaks.

DJ note 3: The Augustinian reference recurs on Ana. p.88 (‘T’s a great robbery - is empire’). What Augustine says (De Civitate Dei, 4.4.) is: ‘Remota itaque iustitia quid sunt regna nisi magna latrocinia ? quia et latrocinia quid sunt nisi parva regna ?’ - ‘If you take away justice, what are kingdoms but large-scale robberies? for what are robberies, too, but petty kingdoms ?’ (It is more convenient if ‘latrocinia’ may be translated ‘criminal gangs’) D., it will be noted, changes Augustine’s emphasis; the latter introduces the notion of justice, and uses regnum, not imperium. D.’s ‘whose robbery is co-terminous with empire’ is a much more devastating criticism. behind this there lies also a passage from the Octavius (25.5) of the early Christian apologist Minucius Felix; a little book from which D. drew considerable material: ‘Ita quicquid Romani tenent, colunt, possident, audaciae praeda est: templa omnia de manubiis, id est de ruinis urbium, de spoliis deorum, de caedibus sacerdotum’. ‘Everything that the Romans hold, everything they cultivate, all their possessions, are the stolen loot of barefaced robbery; there is not a single temple that has not cost the devastation of populous cities, the plunder of divine treasures, the slaughter of priests.’

b decalogue, dodecalogue: ‘the first and only Roman code, the Law of the Twelve Tables’ . Children would learn in school to chant them by heart, Cicero tells us–- as we used to learn the Ten Commandments –- adding, as we might, with regret, ‘but nobody does so now’: ‘Discebamus enim pueri xii, lit carmen necessarium, quas iam nemo discit’, de Legibus 2.23.59. To the original ten (451 B.C.) two were added a year later. They were engraved on copper or bronze (or incised on wood - accounts vary) and displayed in the Forum. The originals were destroyed when the Gauls sacked Rome in 390 or 3S7.

c for the Palladium see p. 50.


semantic structures


a anabasis:(Greek) a going up; a military advance.