Guido's Historia Destructionis Troiae: Free Will, Fate and Demons at Troy

Diane P. Thompson

(Adapted from Dissertation: Human Responsibility and the Fall of Troy, CUNY, 1981)

In the European Middle Ages the destruction of Troy was seen as a pre‑Christian analogue to the Fall of Man.  As such, it provided a non‑theological model for analyzing why bad things happen to rather decent men and women. Different versions of the Troy story focus blame on various causative factors, including the gods, demons, stars, fate, Fortune, and Amors, as well as human folly, more or less freely exercised. The Historia Destructionis Troiae,1 completed in 1287 by Guido de Columnis, is particularly interesting because of its complex, undigested mixture of fate and free will. Guido was a judge and poet associated with the Sicilian Court of Frederick II, a place where newly translated Greco‑Arab theories of scientific determinism coexisted with Christian free will. A man of his time, Guido struggled with the conflicts between the fates that destroy men and the free will which ought to be able to protect them, but he reached no satisfactory resolution.  

Guido, like many Europeans of his time, was stimulated by the new learning dealing with the physical universe, and he attempted to describe the causes of events in terms of natural phenomena, produced by a cause and effect series.2  There is a tendency, when looking backwards from a given present, such as the Fall of Troy, to see the events that led up to the known present as inevitable; after all, Troy did fall, therefore, the causes of its fall were necessary. Such thinking lends a dark, fatalistic tone to the Historia. Guido did not, however, accept the implications of such determinism, but insisted that people could also be held accountable for their actions. Therefore, while he described deterministic causative factors such as the fates and Fortune as practically all‑ powerful; he also criticized human beings for not withstanding these forces. 

Sicily was one of the main centers for the introduction of Greco‑Arab science into Europe. Arabs had ruled Sicily from 902 to 1091, and a large Muslim element remained in the population under the Norman rulers, who were exceptionally tolerant of cultural and religious diversity.3  Under the Normans, especially Roger II and Frederick II, Greco‑Arab learning began penetrating Europe from Sicily.4 The influence of the new learning can especially be seen in Guido's interest in the stars, which meant astrology as well as astronomy, for at that time they were two aspects of the same science.5 The impact of astrology lay in its underlying premise of stellar determinism, a position utterly opposed to the Christian doctrine of free will.  However, this opposition was not immediately a problem, and a world‑view developed in Guido's time which could include both free will and the inevitable processes of the stars.6 This is the world view that dominates the Historia.

The Greco‑Arab thinking, which reawakened European interest in the natural sciences, was permeated with a deterministic philosophy concerning the nature of the universe.  Aristotle's works reached Europe "accompanied by Arab commentaries which stressed their absolutely determinist character. . . . When such commentators as Alkindi, Alfarabi, Avicenna and particularly Averroes (1126‑98) introduced from the Mohammedan religion into the Aristotelian system the idea of creation, they interpreted this in such a way as to deny free will not only to man but even to God himself" (Crombie).  This deterministic thinking was quite undigested in the thirteenth century. Indeed as Crombie remarks, "It was the search for means of finding an accomodation between Aristotelian philosophy and Christian theology that gave rise to the most interesting and critical developments in philosophy and in the conception of science in the 13th and 14th centuries."7  

Causation, in the Historia, can be divided into two basic categories: external, generally deterministic controls, such as demons, fates, Fortune and the stars; and internal sources of motivation which could be either determined, or free.  Insofar as man was made of matter, he could be affected by matter, and Guido never seems sure that man's will is sufficient to resist his passions, which are easily governed by the stars.8       

I will first look at the physical, or external sources of causation in the Historia, the demons, gods, stars, fate and Fortune, and then consider Guido's analysis of the restless human heart, which exposes men and women to the malicious workings of these external influences.

Guido's demons are descended from the pagan planetary deities, such as Mars and Apollo. Guido insists that the idol of Apollo itself is merely a powerless, inanimate thing, a euhemerized memorial to a mortal man named Apollo. However, although no god inhabits the idol, a demon does (Historia X, p. 93) and this demon responds, deceiving the Greeks and Trojans who send messengers to the idol to ask for oracular advice.

But consistency is not Guido's strong point, and along with his demon/gods, he uses the more ordinary planetary deities. Mars protects the Golden Fleece; the gods punish Iason for deserting Medea; Helenus knows the future by the favor of the gods; and the Greeks returning home after the war are shipwrecked by the power of Minerva. These gods are powerful, although not omnipotent, and can be thwarted, at least temporarily, by magic, as when Medea aids Iason on his quest for the Golden Fleece.

Once demons become confused with the planetary deities, and with the planets themselves, it is an easy step to conceive of the processes of causation as a sort of astrological hodge podge, both demonic and planetary, malicious and inexorable, yet acting without psychological motivation, as would a physical process such as the motion of the planets. Consequently, the demon/gods in the Historia blend by insensible degrees into another level of causation that is far more ubiquitous and inexorable, the fates, which Guido uses to explain why things happen as they do, both in the physical universe and in human interactions.9

The fates are first introducted at the opening of Book II, when Iason and Hercules seeking refreshment, not trouble, try to land at Troy. Influenced by his own anger, and by the fates, King Laomedon refuses them hospitality, setting off the chain of events that lead to the final destruction of Troy. "The envious course of the fates, which always troubles the repose of mortal men, for no cause drew causes for enmity and offense out from unexpected hiding places" (Meek 9).  This description of the envious course of the fates (inuida fatorum series) acting for no cause (sine causa) (Historia II. 11), is crucial to the world view of the Historia. 

 The very term inuida fatorum series carries the implication of an inexorable, hostile process. When the Trojan Council decides to send Paris to Greece, Guido comments, "But because the inevitable fates establish future calamities, it pleased everyone that Paris should go to Greece with the navy" (Meek 64).  And in the same section, although Cassandra warns the Trojans of disaster, they persist in their course, and Guido remarks, "But after the inexorable Fates decree that misfortune and evils shall happen, they represent the opposite and contrary in the minds of men and commend them as favorable" (Meek 65). The operation of these hostile, inexorable fates is so subtle that not even caution and prudence will suffice to protect men: "it attacks the mighty, through unperceived and obscure snares, and leads them to misfortune, taking its cause from trivial and unthought‑of matters, so that by using foresight and with the aid of caution they are not able to protect themselves" (Meek 42).

Thorndike remarks that for Boethius, "Fate may be exercised through spirits, angelic or daemonic, through the soul or through the aid of all nature or `by the celestial motion of the stars.'  It is with the last that Boethius seems most inclined to identify the fati series mobilis. That series moves sky and stars, harmonizes the elements with one another, and transforms them from one to another."10 The fati series mobilis (the moving course of fate) has become transmuted, in the Historia, into the inuida fatorum series (the hostile course of the fates). Both describe the processes of causation as celestial in nature; however, Guido generally leaves out the Divine Providence which rules the fati series mobilis according to Boethius. Somehow, in Guido's world‑view, an abstract and orderly conception of fate has become infused with the persona of the devil, an active, intelligent agent who represents not lawful causation, but malicious destruction, and who acts by means of the planetary motions, which in turn influence the behavior of human beings and control the outcome of events.11 

Guido also presents an image of the fates as governed by a malicious Fortune: "that envious dispenser of men's fates can cause tares to grow from the slightest sliver of a root. While she begins her approach secretly and stealthily, later a huge amount of evil follows, until a most wretched conclusion follows, and her final departure is rounded off by perpetual losses" (Meek 42‑3). Guido's Fortune, like his fates, is demonic, and unlike those Fortune figures who turn a wheel which both raises and lowers men, this Fortune only brings men down to ruin. 

Fortune and the fates are so devious, and act by means of such trivia, that not even caution and foresight will suffice to protect a man from their destructive wiles. Guido expresses pity, not blame, for Laomedon: "And so, when the first Troy was destroyed by the fates acting under this pretext, such was the very unfortunate end of the very noble King Laomedon" (Meek 42). Guido even questions whether Laomedon's "crime" of refusing to let the Greeks land "can be called a crime" (Meek 42). What Laomedon did was so trivial that any king might easily have done the same. 

Guido treats Priam as he does Laomedon, as an impulsive, even foolish, but not wicked king, trapped by the inevitable processes of the hostile fates. Cassandra, who knows and speaks the truth, asks, "`Ah, unfortunate King Priam, what crime will it be said you committed to cause you to bewail the death and perpetual servitude of yourself and your men?'" (Meek 65). Cassandra implies that it was not really any crime of Priam's, but the inexplicable hatred of the fates that will destroy Troy. It is true that Priam is not innocent; he chose to involve his kingdom in a very risky undertaking and his judgment was poor. But, to prevent our placing too much blame on Priam, Guido comments, "But the opposition of Fortune, who had already in her course given voluntary impulses and unfortunate inspirations, hastened toward the end by ordaining the rapid progress of events thereafter" (Meek 65).

False gods that are really demons; fates that are demonic and control men's destinies beyond the ability of men to perceive the snares and evade them‑‑this is a terrible world indeed. Of course, Guido is deliberately describing and analyzing a post‑ Fall, pre‑Christian world, in which there are no means of salvation from demons and evil fates.  Nonetheless, his conception of the universe as malevolent in its most basic causative processes is striking, and not relieved by assurances that there is now a heavenly alternative. Although he does insist on the traditional notion that the demon‑idols were destroyed at the coming of Christ, Guido never suggests that the demonic fates are not still with us.

There were conflicting theories about the fates available in the thirteenth century, and while astral determinism was one possibility, there was also the conception of the fortunate opportunity, which a man could seize and exploit. Guido blames the fates, but he also blames men in some situations, as in the  encounter between Hector and his cousin from the Greek army, Ajax‑Telamon. They meet on the battlefield, recognize one another, and Hector agrees to call off the fighting for the day, a decision which proves disastrous to the Trojans. First, Guido blames the fates for the situation: "But the fates, who arrange for future adversities to happen, destroy everything by hidden snares, by which they complete those adversities which they have arranged for the future" (Meek 140).  How can we blame Hector, if the fates have arranged it all? 

Guido is not sure. As he contemplates the tiny cause of such woe, the day's truce, Guido shifts from the notion of fate as inevitable to a different conception of fate, one based on the astrological moment of opportunity. Using this model, he then criticizes Hector for failing to seize the opportunity offered to him by the fates: "For the fates, if the good they present is not received at once by some ungrateful person, afterward refuse to give it to him, as one who had lost it through the fault of ingratitude" (Meek 141). Hector was offered a chance by the fates, and he failed to take advantage of it. Guido does not explain why basically demonic fates should also offer good to a man, any more than he explains why the fates generally seek to destroy men.  What he does stress here is the matter of timing. There is one favorable hour, no more. A man is lost forever if he does not respond to the offer of fortune, "by taking that which in one hour the favorable event presents to him" (Meek 140).  Either one seizes the opportunity, or fails forever.

Alongside of deterministic astrology was the doctrine of elections, which, as Thorndike explains, involves the astrologer applying "his knowledge of the movements and effects of the stars and their relationships to inferior bodies to the selection of a favorable hour for beginning a contemplated action. This doctrine of course implies and requires freedom of election and will, and shows that astrology is an operative as well as a divining art" (Vol. II. 587). It is this aspect of astrological thinking that seems to influence Guido at this point in his narrative. Having first assured us that the fates had planned the fall of Troy, he now criticizes Hector for not seizing the one hour of opportunity offered him by the fates.

Just as Guido includes both determinism and free will in his analysis of the external, physical processes of causation he also interprets human psychology both as determined and as free.  The key to wrong human behavior in the Historia is the restless heart.12 Emotional agitation precedes each action that leads to disaster, beginning with King Peleus, who hated his nephew Iason and sent him on the fateful quest for the Golden Fleece: "he raged inwardly and was in turmoil lest Jason despoil him of the kingdom of Thessaly on account of his courage" (Meek 4). There is no mention of gods or the fates here. The initiating action occurs because a man is angry and acts upon his anger.

Medea's passion for Iason develops somewhat differently. She is seated by her father next to Iason at a banquet, and she is unable to control her developing emotions: "still she could not control the glances of her eyes; in fact, when she could, she turned their glance with sweet looks toward Jason, so that by gazing with eager imagination at his face and at the features of his face, his blond hair, and his body and the limbs of his body, she suddenly burned with desire for him, and conceived in her heart a blind passion for him" (Meek 16).  To a very real extent, Medea is innocent, at least so far as the initiating events of her passion are concerned.  It is her father who places her next to Iason, and once there she cannot control herself.  She is not blamed for falling in love, because in the quasi‑deterministic psychological system of the Historia, people cannot control falling in love once they see the person to be loved. It is Medea's uncontrollable restlessness of emotion, expressed by the uncontrolled glances of her eyes, that causes her to see Iason and then fall in love with him because she has seen him. 

After Priam has rebuilt Troy, it is his unquiet mind and restless heart that touch off the troubles of the second Trojan War: "...with firm resolve he turned his restless thoughts back to the serious injuries which had been offered him a while ago by the Greeks. He became impatient with inactivity, and earnestly enjoined his solemn assembly to convene in that city" (Meek 48). Thus he initiates the council that will send Paris to Greece. Priam's behavior stems from personal emotion and is actualized by his restless mind.

Helen's path into love and misbehavior stems from her emotional response to rumors heard about the beauty of Paris: "...the eager appetite of changing desire, which is wont to seize the hearts of women with sudden lightness, excited Helen's heart with an ill‑advised passion, so that she wished to go to the ceremonies of this festival in order to see the festive celebrations and to look at the leader of the Phrygian nation: (Meek 68). Helen goes to the temple where Paris sees her: "As soon as he saw her he coveted her, and while being easily kindled from the torches of Venus in the temple of Venus, he seethed with intense desire" (Meek 70). 

Restless human hearts, given opportunity, see objects of desire, and that is sufficient to inflame them with destructive passion. Each freely entered the temple of Venus; after they saw one another, they were no longer free not to love.  When Guido chides Helen for not staying at home, he comments, "for the sight of this man was the venom by which you infected all Greece" (Meek 69). Sight alone can cause passion, once the restless heart has led its possessor into a situation of temptation. There seems to be no suggestion that people are able to resist temptation once it occurs; the only hope is to avoid it entirely. The inclination to emotion precedes the compulsion of emotion. This seems to be the general law of behavior that controls Guido's erring characters. If they had been calm and peaceful and had stayed at home, they would have stayed out of trouble. But the inclination for change, for emotional experience, precedes the experience itself.

The point at which free will can be exercised is before the experience occurs. Guido criticizes Helen for going to see Paris: "But you, Helen, loveliest of women, what spirit seized you so that in the absence of your husband you left your palace on such a frivolous account, and went through its gates to look at an unknown man, when you could easily have restrained the rein of the bridle so that you would have preserved your modest abstinence within the palace of your kingdom?" (Meek 69).  There was definitely a time when Helen could have controlled her behavior: before she left her own home. And yet Guido also asks, "what spirit seized you?"  It is not clear whether he is merely using a metaphoric mode of speech. Elsewhere he gives women so little credit for being able to control their behavior that it is tempting to wonder whether that "spirit" was indeed some external demon or merely the whim of an emotionally excitable woman.  Guido's solution to the problem of female instability is simple: women ought to stay at home. Rather than condemning Guido for sexism, it is useful to note that his general solution for dealing with the world is: avoid it. In this he does not discriminate between men and women; both are prone to disaster once they depart from the shelter and stasis of a quiet and withdrawn existence and expose themselves to the whims and malice of Fortune, the fates, and the gods.

Guido is deeply pessimistic about the ability of human beings to resist the effects of the fates, even though he claims to believe in free will and attempts to blame the unhappy Trojans for the disasters that overcome them. When Priam is burning with emotion over the insults offered to the expedition of Antenor, which had attempted to recover Hesione by peaceful means, Guido addresses the overwrought king: "But, say, King Priam, what unhappy quirk of fate incited your peaceful heart to such unfortunate boldness, so that you were not able in the least to restrain the impulses of your heart by mature counsels (although, granted, these impulses are not in the control of man), so that while it was possible you might have withstood evil counsels?" (Meek 54‑5).  If a "quirk of fate" incited Priam's heart from rest to excited emotionalism, and if a man cannot control these impulses of involuntary excitation which are controlled by the fates, then how can we blame Priam or consider him responsible for what he has done?  "Mature counsels" are the only possibility for restraining these destructive emotional impulses, and Priam is evidently not mature enough to employ them to control his impulses, which are stimulated by the fates. Priam might have been a better man; but as he is, he is not able to control his emotional impulses, and this is true of all the characters in the Historia. Free will ought to be able to control the impulses of fate; in fact it rarely seems adequate to the task.

The conception of a man being controlled by the fates or the planets by means of his passions was not unorthodox in Guido's time, and Saint Thomas has a very interesting passage that might be used as an exposition of Guido's attitude toward Priam: "the sensitive appetite is the act of a bodily organ. Therefore there is no reason why man should not be prone to anger or concupiscence, or some like passion, by reason of the influence of heavenly bodies, just as by reason of his natural temperament.  Now the majority of men are led by the passions, which the wise alone resist.  Consequently, in the majority of cases predictions about human acts, gathered from the observation of the heavenly bodies, are fulfilled. Nevertheless, as Ptolemy says, the wise man governs the stars, as though to say that by resisting his passions, he opposes his will, which is free and in no way subject to the movement of the heavens, to such effects of the heavenly bodies."13

Ever ambivalent, Guido having just pointed out that Priam's emotional state was beyond his control, chides him for wishing "to submit yourself to the fickle fates" (Meek 55). This submission to the fates is the primary cause for disaster in the Historia. War, love, adventure, all make one more vulnerable to the action of the fates, and Guido's repeated advice is: stay home; don't act rashly, accept what you have, be careful. Priam's desire to submit to the fates by means of warfare is similar to the restless emotions of Helen, Medea and Achilles. Each, emotionally unstable by nature, craves experience of a stimulating sort, and each leaves the safety of the status quo to gain such experience; in each case the situation is soon completely beyond the person's ability to withdraw or control the course of events.

Yet, is inaction really an effective means of evading the baneful influences of the demons and fates that control the world of the Historia? After all, the fates are represented as inexorable and as acting by means so slight and trivial that none of Guido's characters seem able to perceive the consequences of their actions, except for certain seers who are given this power by the fates, the gods and the stars. Is the solution then inaction? Not necessarily. Hector loses the Trojan War by his failure to act boldly when Fortune offers him an opportunity. Is prudent action really possible?  Agamemnon is as prudent as a ruler could probably be. He has excellent reasons for going to war against Troy after Paris has seized his sister‑in‑law, Helen. Agamemnon, being pious as well as prudent, wants to be sure that his actions are pleasing to the gods, and consequently he sends messengers to the idol of Apollo at Delphos to inquire whether the war they are about to undertake is pleasing to the gods. But there is the problem: the gods that Agamemnon worships and obeys are demons. The advice they give their worshippers is naturally diabolical, even when truthful. There is no true god at Troy, so there is no point in expecting piety to be of any final value, except that these demonic gods do punish people who thwart their wills, as when Minerva causes Ajax‑Telamon to shipwreck, or when Mars punishes Iason.

Action is terribly dangerous; however, Guido does not represent inaction, when it actually occurs, as leading to safety.  Not only did Hector lose the war by failing to seize Fortune when he had the opportunity, but he is represented at two other times as contributing to the downfall of Troy by failing to act. When the Greeks are fighting in order to first land their troops at Troy, Hector fights to repel them, but he does not fight long enough; he tires and leaves the battlefield.  With Hector gone, Achilles and his men turn the tide of battle easily, and achieve the landing needed to establish the siege of Troy. Hector, although very good, is not quite good enough, and his failure is one of inaction, not of action.

Hector makes a third error of avoiding the proper action when the Greeks request a truce that is in their best interests.  Hector does speak up in the council, objecting the the truce, but he does not persist in resisting the will of the council and Guido criticizes him for this. In the truce which follows, Antenor is exchanged for Thoas. Antenor was the traitor who betrayed Troy and stole the Palladium. Guido disapproves of Hector's behavior, not because of his action, but because of his inaction.

How, in a world where demons answer your prayers to the gods and the fates hate you, can you make an attempt to protect yourself and control your own destiny? Free will may exist, but its operation in the absence of reliable information, and in a demon‑run world is of questionable value. You can, and should, be as careful as possible, but even then the fates will trick and deceive you by the slightest trivial, and even inaction can prove disastrous. Piety could not protect Agamemnon, since his gods were demons who hated men; magic and astrological skills could not protect Medea from the perjury of the man she loved.

Guido accepts the ability of fate to incite emotional impulses in a man and then chides the man for not opposing his passions by means of his will. However, Guido seems less sure than Saint Thomas about the actual ability of men to control their passions, since he stresses the inexorability of the fatal influences and the extreme trickery of the demonic gods. The entire Historia can be viewed as an exemplum of what happens to you if you do not control your passions.  The combination of free will and the uncontrollable passions which incite the heart produce a conception of  human behavior distresses Guido, who is concerned with actual human behavior, rather than theory alone. In the world of the Historia, men and women are never good enough to do what they ought to do.

In his area of expertise, criminal behavior, Guido seems more comfortable with conceptions of responsible action. He modifies the character of Achilles to emphasize the role of free will. While Benoit, Guido's source, had developed a situation of courtly love where Achilles was driven to the point of such emotional and ethical conflict that he literally had to suffer memory and personality destruction so that he could forget his love for Polixena and fight against the Trojans, Guido's Achilles can fight against the Trojans merely by becoming angry enough. This Achilles is vicious, brutal, deadly, but not at all insane. He is also not passive, a dominant quality of Benoit's Achilles in love. Benoit's passive Achilles, caught in the nets of Amors, is changed by Guido into an emotionally turbulent man who can love and hate, and who can be considered responsible for his behavior, at least in the sense that his behavior stems legitimately from his true nature. In order to emphasize his rejection of the Amors‑psychology which controls Achilles in the Troie, Guido criticizes Homer  for praising Achilles (who has just abused the body of Troilus). Achilles could not have been made into a brute by Amors unless he had already been one. Guido expresses the belief that people cannot be so affected by external controls, whether the stars or Amors, that they can be changed into something that was not really already in them. They can definitely be influenced; the stars work on the passions, as do demons and the fates. But Guido insists upon a concept of human responsibility for behavior that must utterly reject the external controls of Amors, such as operates in the Troie, which can change a human being from one kind of person into another. Guido cannot accept a noble Achilles who was changed by love into a brute; he observes that Achilles did indeed behave like a brute and concludes by denying that he was ever anything but a brute.

Guido was a judge, and did not question the responsibility of people for committing crimes under certain circumstances, as when he approves of the brutal slaying of Clytemnestra by Orestes: "For she was guilty of homicide, since she had had such a man and such a great king as the illustrious Agamemnon killed while he slept under her protection, and she had done injury to her husband and son by disgraceful adultery, and had violated both nature itself and behavior befitting noble women.  Hence it was right that on account of so many evils she should have met with much evil, especially through him upon whom she had inflicted so many evils with the marks of dishonor" (Meek 245).    

Crime is a clear and simple issue for Guido, and does not present the strained ambivalence which he experiences when dealing with those tiny actions, difficult to call "crimes" at all, which seem to be the actual causes of the Trojan War. A wicked person commits a crime. An emotional person, influenced by the fates or the stars, can perform actions that destroy an entire civilization, without ever suspecting that the initiating action was any crime at all.

It is the complexity, not the clarity, of Guido's vision of the Fall of Troy, that remains significant. He uses all of the contemporary  intellectual tools available to him as he tries to understand why basically decent men and women were destroyed. Consequently, in his text one can read the many ways of understanding causation that were available to a thoughtful, educated man of thirteenth century Sicily. Equally interesting are  his occasional assurances of the ultimate control of the Christian God and his troubled awe at the malice and hostility of the material universe; his insistence upon the Christian doctrine of free will, and his sad doubts about the ability of the human heart to resist the malevolent impulses of the envious fates.


1. Guido de Columnis, Historia Destructionis Troia, ed. by Nathaniel Edward Griffin (1936; rpt. New York: Kraus Reprint Co, 1970). This edition will be cited as Historia. English translations of quotations from Guido will be taken from the Historia Destructionis Troiae by Guido delle Colonne, translated by Mary Elizabeth Meek (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1974), cited as Meek. Guido did not mention his main source, Benoit de Saint Maure's Roman de Troie, but claimed that he had followed the more respectable historical sources of Dictys and Dares. For this reason, he often has been accused of plagiarism; however, he actually reworked his sources sufficiently that the Historia has the right to be considered an important re‑creation of the story of the Fall of Troy.

2. Alistair Crombie remarks in Medieval and Early Modern Science, Vol. I (1953; rev. ed. New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1959) that the "Most influential of all the contributions of Greco-Arab learning to Western Christendom was the fact that the works of Aristotle, Ptolemy and Galen constituted a complete rational system explaining the universe as a whole in terms of natural causes" (p. 56).

3. See Charles Homer Haskins, The Renaissance of the 12th Century (1927; rpt. Cleveland: The World Publishing Co., 1964, pp. 283-84 on the Arab role in Sicily. Dorothee Metlitzki in The Matter of Araby in Medieval England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), p. 8, discusses the tolerance of the Norman rulers in Sicily, as well as in England, which produced a rich cultural diversity.

4. Metlitzki, p. 7.

5. Meek comments that "...Guido's interest in astronomy may stem from his being associated with a court at which Miahael Scot held the position of Court Philosopher (p. xxvii). Michael Scot was especially famous as an astrologer. Jean Seznec, in The Survival of the Pagan Gods, 1940, trans. Barbara F. Sessions, Bollingen Series XXXVIII (1953; rpt. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972), remarks that astrology "stood as an integral and essential element of had intimately invaded the science of the late pagan world--to such a degree, in fact, that it dominated all the natural sciences" (p. 45). He also comments that "'Astra inclinant; non necessitant,' With this reservation, astrology continues as the foundation of profane culture and the underlying principle of all science" (p. 49).

6. According to Metlitzki, "What the Latin translators of the twelfth century transmitted in the body of their Arabic texts, in a scientific framework, was an affirmation of prognostication. But it did not imply a denial of divine providence. The philosophical and theological complications relating to Christian doctrine do not acquire momentum until the middle of the thirteenth century, with the process of assimilating the Aristotelianism of Arab and Jewish scholars into the Christian system" (pp. 59-60).

7. Crombie, pp. 60-61

8. Vincent Cioffari, discussing St. Thomas, comments: "Yet...although God alone can act directly on Man's will and choice, the angels may, however, influence human deliberation through intellectual persuasion, and the celestial bodies likewise can operate indirectly upon our deliberations in that their impressions on our bodies may dispose us to certain choices.

"The manner of these influences on our actions and deliberations is therefore as follows (1.c.): !. Celestial bodies can influence our actions only in so far as they act upon our bodies; by these bodily dispositions Man is aroused to election in the manner in which passions lead to deliberation. It follows, therefore, that every disposition to action which comes from celestial bodies is in the manner of a passion as when people are swayed by hatred, love, wrath, and the like" (Fortune and Fate from Democritus to St. Thomas Aquinas [New York: Columbia University Press, 1935], pp. 109-110).

9. Seznec comments that there is a relationship between astrology and the belief in demons, and even when the Fathers condemn astrology for its fatalism, "they leave untouched the underlying belief in demons in which it is rooted. . . . It is through the stars and through astrology that these demons often act" (44-45)

10. Lynn Thorndike, A HIstory of Magic and Experimental Science During the First Thirteen Centuries of Our Era, 2 Vols. [New York: Columbia University Press, 1923],Vol. I, p. 621. He is quoting from De Consolatione Philosophiae, IV.6.

11. Waller B. Wigginton points out that there is a close relationship in Guido's Historia between his conception of the fates and the behavior of the Devil, since both act by guile to deceive and harm men ("The Nature and Significance of the Late Medieval Troy Story: A Study of Guido delle Colonne's Historia Destructionis Troiae," Diss. Rutgers, 1965, pp. 113-114).

12. Wigginton comments that "The Association of unquietness with evil was traditional in the Middle Ages...." (p. 223, note 47).

13. Saint Thomas Aquinas, "The Summa Theologica" in Introduction to Saint Thomas Aquinas, ed., with an Intro. by Anton C. Pegis (New York: The Modern Library, 1948), Q. 9, Art. 6, p. 507



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© Diane Thompson: 11/10/1998; updated: 01/28/2011