Mining for Gems of Rhetoric


An elderly friend brought a calendar with a picture of Joan of Arc in it for my oldest daughter to see since this friend knew Norah had written an essay about Joan of Arc for Essentials.


Joana d’Arc by Gravura de 1505

But as we talked to our friend, we also discovered another image in the calendar that might end up being of great significance to us through the coming years. The painting at the very top of this post is from a French/ Latin manuscript called Les douze dames de rhétorique (The Twelve Ladies of Rhetoric).  The manuscript preserves intelligent correspondence about poetry between Georges Chastellain, Jean Robertet and Jean de Montferrant.

Of course, I’d love to be able to read the manuscript, but apparently it is only available in French and Latin, so that must wait until I can read Latin, a task I should be more equal to in several years. But, this image is serving to inspire me to work toward that end all the more. From what you can see in the painting and what we read from the captions that we found around it, a woman is mining for gems of rhetoric to add to books at her feet.

To me, this is a beautiful illustration of what we are trying to do in our home school. We are making efforts to become capable of understanding and treasuring the greatest ideas, even ideas we find expressed and preserved in other languages, and we want to become capable of expressing great ideas ourselves.

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