Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Phoenician Burial Rites

In this article, I will be looking at the burial rituals and practices of the Phoenicians. I chose this culture specifically to learn more about it as it is an enigmatic and mysterious culture, and kings, like Hiram I, play a role in the legend of the Masonic fraternity. First I will define certain terms then I will give an introduction of the Phoenician people, the Phoenician religion, an introduction into funerary rituals and practices, early burial rites and practices of the Phoenicians, evolution of these rituals and practices, foreign influence on the Phoenicians, and placement of the cemeteries.

In this article, several terms and phrases will be used such as funerary rites and/or mortuary rites. To make all things clear, I will define specific terms. Rite is defined as “a ceremonial act or action.” Rites are often planned sets of activities that bring together aspects of an organization or culture in a single event. Rituals are repeated communication performances during a rite or ceremony that communicates a particular value or role definition. There are a variety of rituals: personal rituals, societal rituals such as burial rituals, and task rituals (weekly staff meetings). A ceremony is a “formal act or event that is a part of a social or religious occasion.” Burial Rite is defined as “any of the ceremonial acts or customs employed at the time of death and burial.” This is also synonymous with the word 'funeral' which is a ceremony connected with the burial or cremation of the dead. There are two types of ways to deal with the dead, either inhumation or cremation. Inhumation is defined as to bury, inter, or place in a grave/tomb. Cremation is to reduce a body to ashes by burning or incineration.

When researching Phoenician burial rituals, there is an issue with the sources. The most notable sources from ancient times are Philo of Byblos, Eusebius of Caesarea, and Porphyry of Tyre, but these sources lived long after the early burial rituals and each seems to be discounted by most scholars for a variety of reasons. Philo’s accuracy has been called into question. Porphyry’s writings are now just fragments maintained in works of others and while from the city-state of Tyre, he never referred to himself as Phoenician and held a negative view of the culture. Eusebius seemed to hold a negative view of the Phoenicians as he was Christian and saw their culture as pagan and heretical. Even the Bible which talks about the Canaanites and Phoenicians was less concerned about the particulars of their ritual and more focused upon the fact that they did not consider Phoenician rituals as proper worship. With insufficient primary texts, scholars and researchers have had to use archaeological evidence to reconstruct Phoenician culture.

The Phoenicians were an ancient civilization that emerged sometime between the 16th and 13th centuries BCE on the coast of the Levant. Scholars now view Phoenicians as descendants of Bronze Age Canaanites who gained independence with the decline of Egyptian influence in the region around 1200 BCE. The mainland boundaries ranging from northern modern-day Israel into southern Syria with the Lebanon Mountain range as its eastern border. Their major cities were Tyre, Sidon, Byblos, and Arwad. Phoenicia appears to have been a confederacy of city-states in which each city has its own ruler, but retaining cultural ties such as their religion. The Phoenicians became a maritime power in the Mediterranean and soon Phoenician traders began to expand their trade. In turn, this expansion led to the establishment of colonies around the Mediterranean such as Carthage, and as far west as Spain. They traded first with wood, metals, salves, wine, and glass, but one of the trades it was known for, was its rare purple dyes which were used primarily by royalty as it was so costly. It was the purple dye that gave the Phoenicians their name as Phoenician means "purple people," originating from the Greek word "phoinios" meaning "purple."

Eventually, the Phoenicians would eventually be conquered by the Persians and divided into four vassal kingdoms. Under Persian control, the Phoenicians still flourished, but this ended, around the 4th century BCE, when Alexander the Great sought to control the naval bases along the eastern Mediterranean coast. Even under the Persians, Phoenicia was a confederacy of city-states and each city resisted Alexander in their own way: Arwad, Sidon, and Byblos surrendered without putting up a fight, but Tyre does not. Alexander the Great attempted to lay siege, but was originally unsuccessful as Tyre was a well-fortified island city-state. He had to destroy Ushu, a town on the mainland that supplied Tyre, to build a causeway to the island was he enabled to bring siege engines and scale the walls of Tyre. He was brutal to the people of Tyre; he executed many of the males who were of age to serve in the military, sold thousands to slavery, and razed the city to the ground. This brutality stems from the Tyrians killing an ambassador that Alexander has sent to them asking for a peace treaty. Soon Greek influence is seen intruding into the Phoenician culture and would not regain independence until the 3rd century CE, but never regained the prominence it once had.

When discussing the Phoenician religion, one must be cautious because, as Richard J. Clifford states, the primary source material is “seriously deficient.” Helen Dixon states that the “Phoenician religion is presented as simply impossible to know given the current state of evidence.” It is complicated to fully understand this religion as sometimes it is seen as a unified religion and at other times as a confederacy with city-gods and the appearance of a pantheon that extends throughout the region; usually, the triad of this pantheon is the main city-god with a fertility goddess and a “rising god.” Things are further complicated as the names of gods could also be used as a title or share the name of the city. Death played a major role in the Phoenician religion as they sought to appease their ancestors and the gods by performing rituals that would send the soul to the afterlife there to be reunited with its ancestors in the underworld.

Figure 1
Funerary rituals and practices are an important aspect of any culture. While they serve a religious function, that of properly sending the deceased’s soul into the afterlife, it also serves a social and psychological function, whereby society can further build a communal memory and create a strengthened memory between the living and the dead. Through funerary rituals, one may express their feelings of the deceased, often in a way that is consistent with cultural and religious values; provides support for the living; and helps the living acknowledge the reality of death. This holds true to the Phoenicians who saw it was their duty to properly bury their dead and ensure they were not disturbed thereafter. The study of Phoenician funerary rites and practices also helps with understanding the “boundaries of the Phoenician homeland, markers of ethnicity in this territory, and our understanding of the Phoenician religious practice.”

The earliest evidence of Phoenician burial rituals dates back to around the 13th century and the rituals surrounding the preparation and burial varied according to the region and the deceased’s social status. They employed both inhumation and cremation, but there is no evidence that anyone in the upper class was ever cremated; that appears to have been used by the lower class and then possibly only to save space or due to a lack of time such as in warfare. The archaeological evidence shows that the upper class (royal, noble, and aristocratic families/individuals) were often embalmed then buried in a sarcophagus while lower classes used partial cremation and stored the remains in vessels such as jars or amphora (see Figure 1). Some tombs contained just an individual and some excavated tombs are found with hundreds of bodies buried in them. The youngest individuals found buried are said to have been between 12 and 14-years of age; young children and infants it is reported were found to be buried beneath the floor of the house.

Figure 2
With the use of sarcophagus, they may be plain or ornate (See Figure 2). The ornate ones would have relief sculptures or carved motifs on the sides and lid, and/or include inscriptions that cursed those who dared disturb the tomb. In these early tombs, there would also be found bracelets, pins, necklaces, and various vessels such as jars, amphora, and bowels. Once the tomb was sealed, for those who could afford it, there would be a stele (an upright stone slab or column) placed atop the tomb to serve as a grave marker and identify who was in that particular tomb.

For lower classes, there were a variety of ways observed in how they buried their dead. In the case of inhumation, the poor would only use very plain coffins (made of wood instead of stone). Jars and possession would be left around the coffin. In the case of cremation, some tombs contained two jars for a person where one jar held the ashes and the other contained the charred bones as well as the possessions of the deceased.

With the expansion of other cultures and/or empires such as the Roman and Greek, there appear to be some changes in burial rites. Some notices are that a lot of emphasis on the legacy of the king is placed on inscriptions, whether on the stele or tomb itself. Many royal tombs seem to get more lavish, but there is nothing to suggest that this didn’t happen earlier and that the evidence is missing or destroyed. It could also suggest outside influence on the funerary rites from cultures around the Phoenicians. Both are plausible, particularly the latter since the Phoenicians were a maritime power who had traveled and colonized throughout the Mediterranean and elsewhere. One example of outside influence is seen with the use of ankhs similar to those seen in Egyptian funerary rites.

The Phoenicians often placed their cemeteries away from the city in distance or used natural barriers such as rivers to divide the living from the dead. In the case of the island settlement of Tyre, the cemetery was placed on the mainland adjacent to the island.

In conclusion, we see a culture that saw the importance of burying and caring for the deceased, but we see differences in how the deceased were buried according to their social status. We see that they view the need to properly treat the dead and prepare them for the afterlife, regardless of their social status. In this article, I defined specific terms to assist in understanding the subject of Phoenician funerary rites. We looked at the Phoenicians and their religion, mortuary rites, and practices practiced by them as shown from existing archaeological evidence, some influences by neighboring cultures, and the placement of the cemeteries. From the evidence available we don’t see a typical burial practice completely uniform across the entire Phoenician culture, but this could be due to it being a decentralized culture. Ancient texts are hard to place a value on and have been scrutinized, but cannot be wholly dismissed. They must be used in conjunction with inscriptions and other archaeological evidence. The classical texts on the Phoenicians is an article unto itself as modern scholars are hesitant in taking them literally since many of them held hostile views of the Phoenicians and the writings are best described as terse.


1. Ancient History Encyclopedia. “Phoenicia.” Last Accessed on November 30, 2014. 

2. Aubet, María E. “The Phoenician Cemetery of Tyre.” Near Eastern Archaeology 73 (2010): 144-155. 

3. Clifford, Richard J. “Phoenician Religion.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 279 (1990): 55-64. 

4. Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. “The Phoenicians (1500-300 B.C.).” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004. 

5. Dixon, Helen M., “Phoenician Mortuary Practice in the Iron Age I-III.” PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2013. 

6. Emery, Katy M. “Not Quite Burned, Not Quite Buried.” Bones Don’t Lie. 

7. Markoe, Glenn. Phoenicians. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. 

8. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. “Rite.” Last Accessed on December 13, 2014. 

9. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. “Ceremony.” Last Accessed on December 13, 2014. 

10. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. “Cremate.” Last Accessed on December 13, 2014. 

11. Phoenician International Research Center. “History of the Phoenicians.” Last Accessed on November 30, 2014. 

12. Reference Dictionary. “Burial Rite.” Last Accessed on December 13, 2014. 

13. Reference Dictionary. “Inhumation.” Last Accessed on December 13, 2014. 

14. The Free Dictionary. “Cremation.” Last Accessed on December 13, 2014. 

15. The Free Dictionary. “Funeral.” Last Accessed on December 13, 2014. 

16. The Free Dictionary. “Inhumation.” Last Accessed on December 13, 2014. 

17. TimeMaps. “Civilization: Phoenicians.” Last Accessed on November 30, 2014. 

18. Wolfelt, Alan D. “Why Is the Funeral Ritual Important?” Center for Loss & Life Transition. Last Accessed on November 30, 2014.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Franco-Prussian War

This article analyzes the Franco-Prussian War, which lasted from July 19, 1870, to May 10, 1871. This war was one between France and several German states led by Prussia and which signaled the end of French hegemony, and the unification and rise of a German Empire. Both sides accused the other of the crime of aggression, but this war resulted from years of tension. I will examine the accusations of aggression as well as examine the theories of preventive war and a provoked defensive theory.

Even with the cries of aggression, this war was a result of years of tension and not just caused by one singular event. Since Prussia’s dominance over Austria in 1866, the French Emperor, Napoleon III, had been feeling uneasy about the German states united into one nation. On the other side, the Chancellor of Prussia, Otto von Bismarck, desired to unite the Protestant Northern German states with the Catholic Southern ones, but he needed a common cause, a common threat, to spark the nationalism needed to unite them. The German principalities had been separate and divided in strength since the end of the Thirty Years War and the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) which established the concepts of state sovereignty and self-determination; it stripped the Holy Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church of much of its authority in the politics of states. Napoleon III needed to a war as well to restore faith in his Empire which was suffering from political disunity. What brought these nations to war would be a Prussian Prince recommended as a candidate for the Spanish throne following the ousting of Isabella II in 1868. This would be rejected after French protest and insisted on further Prussian assurances, but the king refused to give any. Bismarck manipulated a telegraph, known as the Ems Dispatch, to inflame emotions for both sides which insinuated each side insulted the other during private meetings between a French Ambassador and the Prussian King.

On July 19th, France declared war on Prussia only, but the other German states joined Prussia’s side. Due to its superior weaponry and rail system, Prussia soon won a series of battles in Eastern France; at the Battle of Sedan, Emperor Napoleon III was captured. The empire was dissolved and the Third Republic was formed, but even the armies of the Republic were devastated by a superior Prussian force. The Germans laid a lengthy, but successful siege on the city of Paris which was officially captured on January 28, 1871. In the end, Germany did in fact unite, as Bismarck envisioned, including the contested lands of Alsace and Lorraine. The defeat of the French Empire and Republic also led to the unification of Italy. Even though the war ended tensions would remain and the results of this war would play a part in the World Wars.

Walzer (1977) states that aggression is a crime of war and that fighting against aggression is justified. Leading up to this war, both sides accused the other of the crime of aggression and that they themselves were attempting to preserve the peace and security of the region. Although the decision of going to war was a culmination of years of tension, what ultimately led to the war surrounded the candidacy of Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, a Prussian House, to the Spanish throne. Napoleon III feared being surrounded by two countries under Prussian influence and after much French protesting, the offer was withdrawn. The Prussian government used propaganda to exploit this French intervention as a violation of political sovereignty and an act of aggression. Both attempted to inflame nationalist sentiment and none more than von Bismarck with his infamous Ems Dispatch. From what is observed, both sides were guilty of aggression and that this war was inevitable. Napoleon III needed a way to restore the faith of the people in the French Empire and Bismarck wanted to unite the German states and needed a common cause to unite them; war was a means to accomplish their goals.

According to Walzer (1977) “A preventive war is a war fought to maintain the balance, to stop what is thought to be an even distribution of power from shifting into a relation of dominance and inferiority.” This was the original argument for states to justify going to war to maintain peace not just for the nation, but the region. Looking at the facts of the war, France was attempting to prevent a German power from rising and disrupting the balance of power in Europe. Walzer (1977) also points out dynasties are more likely than democratic nations to fight preventive wars. Many believe that this war was a preventive one by the words of the official French account of the war where it stated, “France has taken up the cause of maintaining equilibrium – that is to say, the cause of all nations – threatened as she is with the undue aggrandizement of one Royal House.” A preventive war needs to be fought before the power is tipped, and with the Ems Dispatch the French government declared war, but “insults are not occasions for war”. This of course is hard to justify why France would choose to go to war though as the German states were not likely to unite anytime soon without a war, a common threat, to unite them. Also, the Prussian military, enhanced by the other German states, was far superior to the French in both weaponry and transportation so the odds were well against the French from the very beginning, and which circumstances favor the defender, not the attacker.

Some theorize that the Franco-Prussian War was not a preventive war, but rather a “provoked defensive war”. It was theorized by Josef Becker that the Prussian support of the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen candidacy predictably provoked the French into a war. Becker theorizes that war between the Prussian and French was inevitable and that, according to Ambassador Josef Maria von Radowitz, Germany needed to enter the war “under the most favorable conditions possible.” Germany needed to appear as the victim of French aggression to the rest of Europe that would 1) justify their self-defense and retaliation, 2) prevent other stronger nations from coming to the aid of France, and 3) unite the independent German states as one nation. Once France declared war, Prussia could fight its obviously offensive war under the guise of it being a defensive war. What best summarizes the provoked defensive war theory are the words of Helmuth von Moltke: “the attacker is not the one who marches first, but the one who forces the other to.”

In conclusion, historically the Franco-Prussian War has been seen as a preventive war that the French sought to fight to maintain the balance of power in Europe. The Germans were a divided set of states that served as a buffer zone between Western Europe and Eastern Europe/Russia. Uniting Germany as one nation would unite it as a formidable military power with access to resources and with a strong transportation network. France, as a fledgling empire, needed to prevent the rise of this Germanic power and reassert itself as the dominant force in Europe. Some theorize that the Franco-Prussian War was a war provoked by Otto von Bismarck for political reasons. From researching this I’d say the war was inevitable and that both theorists are correct. Napoleon III needed a war and Germany was enough of a threat to justify a preventive war, and Bismarck provoked the French enough for them to declare it.


1. Abel, Karl. 1871. Letters on International Relations Before and During the War of 1870. London: Tinsley Brothers. 

2. Becker, Josef. 2008. “The Franco-Prussian Conflict of 1870 and Bismarck's Concept of a ‘Provoked Defensive War’: A Response to David Wetzel” Central European History 41 (January): 93-109. 

3. Lord, Robert H. 1924. The Origins of the War of 1870. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 

4. Snyder, Jack. 2009. “The Cult of the Offensive in 1914” In The Use of Force, eds. Robert Art and Kenneth Waltz. Lanham: Littlefield Publishers Inc., 135-151. 

5. Walzer, Michael. 1977. Just and Unjust Wars. New York City: Basic Books. 

6. “Franco-Prussian War: July 19, 1870 – May 10, 1871.”

Friday, September 18, 2015

Grand Oration of 2015: The Importance of Ritual

For the last couple of days I've been in Pocatello (SE Idaho) attending the 148th Annual Communication of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free & Accepted Masons of Idaho. Having served the last year as Grand Orator it was my pleasure to deliver my Grand Oration at the Grand Banquet tonight. Here is a copy of that lecture:
To the Most Worshipful Grand Master, Most Worshipful Past Grand Masters, Grand Lodge Officers, Distinguished Guests, Brothers, Friends and Family all:
I’d like to start off by thanking Brother Art Shoemaker for appointing me as Grand Orator for this last year. I’ve enjoyed your friendship over the years and you have always been an example which I seek to strive for. For those who don’t know, I followed Bro. Art through the officer line in Oriental Lodge No.60 and this relationship has also resulted in gaining a second mother – the First Lady Sandy Shoemaker. I will say, before proceeding, this is one of my shortest lectures, but for those who don’t know me, I follow in similar trend as Bro. Jay Leonard, a short lecture for me can be anything that ends prior to midnight.
Freemasonry has been described in a number of ways; one of the most common is that Freemasonry is “a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory, illustrated by symbols.” You have no doubt heard Bro. Monte and his “30-sec definition.” Well, Bro. Monte, I do apologize, my speech tonight will be slightly longer than 30-seconds, but it is my hope that it will leave a deep and lasting impression with you. Freemasonry is, first and foremost, an initiatic order whose rituals attempt to transform men both spiritually and morally. The ritualistic initiation is what separates Freemasonry from the other fraternal and philanthropic organizations such as the Kiwanis or the Rotary. Note that I am not trying to denigrate any of those organizations, but Freemasonry is not just a social or philanthropic group. My speech tonight is going to focus on ritual and its importance in our modern world.
So much of our world was affected by the counter-culture revolution that occurred in the 1960’s where much of the youth rejected the institutions, traditions, and rituals of their fathers and grandfathers. Even our fraternity was affected and today we see a generational gap as a direct result of this, which itself has caused a variety of problems in our fraternity. Today we are seeing more and more young men seeking out the fraternity because something is lacking in our modern world where certain rituals have been abandoned, or have become less effective, and there are fewer and fewer rituals practiced that instill a sense of belonging.
With so many “Millennials” left wanting, Freemasonry would seem to be an obvious solution, but struggles with membership, active membership, are still a reality. In my travels around the United States and even communicating on social media websites, many new Masons seem to be still left wanting, both in ritual and in education. There are some problems and misconceptions concerning ritual in Freemasonry today. Ritual is important to Freemasonry -- it’s the very basis of our order, but I think because of the proliferation of ritual in Freemasonry we have often failed to comprehend and understand the importance and purpose of our ritual. Many refer to the early to mid-20th century as the “Golden Age” of the fraternity because of the intense growth in membership, but I look back at it as an “age of the factory Lodge.” This is not an attack on those members, but to point out that most Lodges became so busy that attention was drawn away from the true understanding of ritual and many began to believe that it was simply the recitation and repetition of words and actions that mattered. If Lodge officers simply parrot the ritual of our order it will be weakened and seem disingenuous to the candidate thereby preventing the transformation and betterment. If the ritual work is poorly done or treated with such disregard, it could cause a negative reaction with the candidate where it could be perceived the ritual is a meaningless and hollow gesture continued by the Craft for the sake of continuing it.
Ritual isn’t just important to Freemasonry; it is an important aspect of society and human existence. There are a number of categories of rituals such as social rituals, military rituals, celebratory rituals, worship rituals, funerary rituals, bardic rituals, and initiatic rituals. Freemasonry is filled with a variety of rituals, but the most notable is the initiatic or initiation rituals. Rituals remind us of what is important as well as providing a sense of stability and continuity in our lives; it educates us in the values of an organization, allows for knowledge to be passed from generation to generation unchanged, and binds the members together, not just in the Lodge, but across time and space. Masonic rituals attempt to impart values and lessons through symbolism which can have an effect at the subconscious level. Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist, said that man's mental health needed to be refreshed which required an occasional return to the sense of Self, the unification of all aspects of one’s personality and psyche, which was facilitated by myths and initiation rituals. An interesting point is that Carl Jung represented the Self as a “point within a circle.”
For clarification, I will define ritual as “dramatic, planned sets of activities that bring together aspects of an organization’s culture in a single event” often through the use of symbols and, in regards to Freemasonry, ritual is the physical enactment of our central myth—the Hiramic legend. Concerning the term “myth”, it is a popular notion that myth equates fiction. In reality, myths can be both fiction and non-fiction, but the origin of the use of myth is in oral traditions, which is the telling of stories and legends were passed down through the generations via storytellers. Written myths often came about centuries after an oral myth originated. The validity aside, oral myths did not stay consistent, but were used to help explain an event or philosophy to a largely illiterate people. To contrast rituals and myths, scholars like Edward Tylor, argues that ritual stems from and is secondary to myth; that myths give birth to rituals.
The history of rituals demonstrates there has been an intimate part of human existence. In 2006, scientists discovered evidence in Botswana that humans were practicing rituals around 70,000-years ago. The scientists discovered in a cave, a pit filled with arrow heads that had been burned next to wall paintings and believed that the ritual surrounded the creation myth that man was descended from a python (which was depicted in one of the paintings). Persians, Egyptians, Romans, and Grecians, in ancient history, had organizations such as mystery cults who met in secret and used initiation rituals to bestow upon candidates philosophical and moral knowledge as well as the modes of recognition.
Initiation rites and rituals help mark the passage of time, from one stage of life to the next. Sometimes they can be referred to as “rites of passage.” Informally, these rites of passage could be a young man killing and packing out his first deer. Formal initiation rites, while they will vary in myth and exact practices from group to group, still have common themes. Many initiation rituals attempt to teach a lesson of humility either through symbolic destitution or through some kind of struggle. This practice isn’t meant to embarrass, but to clear the path back to the Self, to get rid of the attachment to materialism. Another theme is the concept and reflection on death and/or rebirth. Whether or not this is a part of the central myth, this concept is to signify the moral and spiritual transformation.
In many aspects, the modern world has lost some sense of its rituals and in that way Freemasonry has the ability to offer something meaningful to our young men, as well as young women in other Masonic bodies, through the transformative initiation rituals or rites of passage. As Freemasons we owe it to our candidates that the ritual is performed in such a solemn and impressive manner that it may leave a lasting mark, but this can be only done when those performing the ritual have an understanding of that ritual. Brother Robert Reid out of the Grand Lodge of Scotland put it best when he said, “Ritual is weakened when the manner in which it is practiced is divorced from the reason for it being practiced.” Brothers, as we separate and finish with Grand Lodge, I challenge you to look back at your journey through Freemasonry to those memorable moments which has influenced and inspired you. I’d like to share with you two memories that stand out most: The first was when I was I Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason and the second was when I was dubbed and created a Knight Templar. Bro. Art, you were the one who knighted me and that scene has remained with me as vivid as it was then. I know for me the reason these two events have resonated with me so is that those involved in those rituals put their heart and soul into it. In closing friends and Brothers, let us live up to one of the talking points of our Fraternity, that of “making good men better” by putting our heart and soul into our Fraternity and our ritual. 
Fraternally submitted,
Barry E. NewellWorshipful Grand Orator
In writing this I took the advice of the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Montana when he said that a speech should be like a skirt: long enough to cover the essentials, but short enough to keep your attention. It was a humbling experience and I'm thankful for it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Grand Master of Georgia Condemns Homosexuality

On September 8th, the Grand Master, Douglas McDonald, issued an edict which declared homosexuality being "contrary to the moral law" is hereby a prohibited activity for anyone who falls under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Georgia. His edict amended the Code (the by-laws) of the Grand Lodge of Georgia.

The Grand Lodge of Georgia is no stranger to controversy as it has in the recent past with its stance on black men joining their Lodges as well as openly promoting sectarian Christianity over other faiths.

Something similar is happening with the Grand Lodge of Tennessee where the Grand Master wishes to expel a Brother who married a man.

Setting aside the focus of homosexuality, does the Grand Lodge, any Grand Lodge, have the authority to dictate behavior that is, by law, not a crime?

For further reading
Is Homosexuality Un-Masonic?
Homosexuality & Freemasonry

Friday, September 11, 2015

Invisible Romans: The Common Soldier

It should be no surprise to most that know me that I would choose to write about and analyze Soldiers as I gave 12-years of service in the US Army (and Army National Guard). While the military is a prominent symbol in ancient Roman history and even modern movies, little is ever covered about the life of the common soldier. In this article, I will cover what causes them to be considered “invisible,” what evidence there is, what gaps there are in our knowledge, some information that is known about this group and how we know it, and the significance of the soldier in understanding ancient Rome.

Soldiers are thought of as an invisible group for several reasons. First off, there exists hardly any record noting an individual soldier; instead, they appear in mass, usually referred to as “the Army” or “the Legion”. Any exceptions to this would be due to exceptional service and in “semi-fictionalized situations”. Secondly, the common soldier was seen as a tool to be used by the elite. Tacitus, like other elitists and pro-elitist historians, saw common soldiers as low born, potentially dangerous, simple-minded as they were motivated by basic human instincts, and the dregs of society who failing at all other endeavors entered into service in the Roman Army; secondary to the command level who were of real importance. Thirdly, often information was left out about certain events and individual soldiers if it displayed a high-ranking officer in a negative light. We see such an instance when Plutarch applauds Julius Caesar’s ability to win his soldiers, but overlooks Caesar’s turning a blind eye to misconduct and thus lack of control over the troops or rather specific soldiers. Fourthly, like today teamwork was required for success so more often than not common soldiers lost their individuality and for such reasons, successes and failures were attributed to the group rather than the individual.

Lastly, even in death, the soldiers were often invisible. According to Valerie Hope, “The ultimate fate of a soldier killed at Waterloo in 1815 was little different from that of a Roman soldier: both shared anonymous interment in a mass grave.” Hope continues by discussing the reasoning behind anonymity with the mass graves. Prior to burial the dead would be stripped, cremated, and interred, situation permitting. They were stripped as the military needed the equipment, clothing, and weaponry, and would not want to see the bodies burgled by the enemy forces. They would have also been concerned with sanitation and stopping the spread of disease for which reasons they would have cremated the bodies. For obvious reasons, the body could not be returned to the soldier’s family. If they could afford to the family would erect a marker as remembrance, not necessarily where the body lay. During peacetime, the family would have to pay for the body to be transported otherwise the body would be buried at the location of service. The remembrance of a fallen soldier was a private matter as it was the victories and successes that were to be remembered not the means by which someone died, and for the common soldier, the remembrance was held sacred in the hearts of his family and friends thus to be forgotten over time and lost to future ages.

There is not a large variety or quantity of evidence that discusses the common soldier of ancient Rome, but what does exist comes in the form of tombstones, mass grave site discoveries, papyrus manuscripts, historical narratives, military (metal) diplomas (also referred to as citizen certificates), tablets, and codices. According to Valerie Hope:
“Reconstructing Roman attitudes to war and commemoration is a complex process. Much of the surviving literature reflects an elite male perspective and we gain few insights into the impact of military death upon the rank-and-file soldier and his family. Archaeological evidence, whether mortuary, monumental, or epigraphic, is often incomplete and frequently de-contextualized. In addition the geographic and chronological breadth of the empire create problems of interpretation. What might have been the norm in Rome of the second century BC might not have been characteristic of Roman Britain in the second century AD.”
As Hope points out much of what exists today was written by those who favored the aristocrats and high ranking bureaucrats so often we see the successes of the military attributed to the great, high-born commanders and the failures attributed to the common soldier who failed in mass. This viewpoint was also supported by Ramsay MacMullen who calls most accounts of battles “self-serving” or full of “ideological distortion.” Though others point out that with such a skewed viewpoint we can see Romans preferred to view their past.

As Valerie Hope stated above, interpreting past records with our current standards creates problems and in her article, Eugenia Kiesling delivers her skepticism about the harshness of corporal punishment in the Roman Legion with the following:
“Given thinness of the sources, modern confidence in the existence of harsh military punishment in Rome seems to rest on assumptions and even wishful thinking. The assumptions may be a consequence of more recent history, since most Western armies retained flogging at least until the French Revolution.”
Another avenue of research about soldiers and aspects of their lives comes to us from the surviving tombstones. Tombstones represent a certain level of stability and permanency as tombstones were a camp-based activity often characteristic of peacetime. It is from these tombstones that we gather information of the age that Romans would join the military as these epitaphs were inscribed with the length of service and the date of birth, and through subtraction of years of service from the age gives us an approximate age, but we are warned that ages could not be exact due to age rounding. It is seen that there was continuity from throughout Republican and Imperial Rome of young men joining within a few years of attaining legal maturity. During times of peace, the soldiers were usually camp bound and deaths are attributed to natural causes. Like today’s military, there was a concern about the spread of disease through close quarters. To ensure cleanliness they needed proper drainage, sewer systems, and water systems to ensure water didn’t stagnate and spread a variety of diseases through the camp which could, and can still today, ravage an army. To help fight against disease and help the wounded the Roman Army did employ doctors of various levels and skills, which aspect of military life was frequently documented and there is ample amount of archaeological evidence. There is a debate among scholars as to the exact rank or social status that one had to be to a doctor or “medici”.

For those who survived serviced and were capable of securing a retirement from the military, and earning the title “Veteran” we find remnants of military diplomas, and in cases of the auxiliary units “certificates of citizenship”. These are writings engraved upon tablets of durable metal. While in recent times more have been discovered, there is still a void of information and which it is believed can be attributed to needing the metal for weapons production or in other times of crisis for which metal was needed; or rather these tablets could have been made out of less durable metals, but this is just purely hypothetical and may never be proven. These tablets were of importance not to only the veteran while living, but to the descendants who may have needed to prove their heritage so it is understandable while tablets needed to be made of durable metals. These diplomas give us a glimpse of life after service where we see that often veterans would enter into running businesses or farms, but, as they were free from this duty, we see very few taking part in municipal duties and political events, and when they did it was hesitant. If not in the realm of running a business, service, or farm, we see veterans taking a greater interest in taking part in religious activities than political ones.

As with most of the history of ancient Rome, there are considerable gaps in our knowledge about the common soldier. Written literature is written from a viewpoint of a higher class who did not think much of the common soldier so they were often excluded and the archaeological evidence is taken out of context or misinterpreted based upon modern ideologies and beliefs. There is little written on the common soldier and like the historical narratives often they were referred to as the unit, but some authors have attempted to use sociological and archaeological studies to help put the pieces into place. Taking the accounts of such historians like Polybius or Livy, and contrasting them with other accounts along with physical evidence we can see aspects of the soldier's life.

We can see that the common soldier was slightly better off than the common Roman citizen as they ensured regular pay, meals, medical services, benefits of war, and eventually with retirement prospects of some social and military advancement. Barracks were often crowded, but this would be a vast improvement for some. The military would become the soldier’s new family and as cities often grew around or near the fort, the soldier had the benefits of an illegitimate family while never actually being burdened by the same, even if he was willing to bear such a burden as soldiers were said to be prevented from having a legal family while in service.

We can see that the common soldiers did have some power in mass. In historian's highlights of elite leaders and commanders, we can see that some leaders instead of punishing soldiers placated the masses in the face of mutiny or used deceptive methods of dispensing with troublesome soldiers.

Even with the surviving tombstones, military diplomas, and epitaphs, it is difficult to ascertain the average life expectancy of the common soldier. Some believe that it ranged between 20-30 years, but there is hardly any reliable primary data so many use life tables to find the life expectancy. Using this is believed to give a low number as it doesn’t take into consideration early discharge, death in battle, and camp-related diseases. This difficulty holds true to the attrition rate of the military and most scholars rely on general assumptions based off of a few surviving discharge rosters in a given year. There again is a discrepancy as it still doesn’t take into account those who take an early discharge (for whatever reason).

Through surviving archaeological evidence and literature we know that the common soldier was a free-born Roman male within a few years of hitting legal maturity. Life would have been hard, but, as stated above, with many benefits such as regular pay, meal, traveling allowances, discharge bonuses, medical care, legal protection, housing, the learning of new skills, and rewards from success on the battlefield. Their life would have been one of routine, filled with eating, sleeping, training, completing chores, and combat training.

Training could consist of marching long distances with wearing heavy gear, long-distance running, swimming in armor, and weapons training. The training was needed as battles would often last for hours and soldiers had to bear the weight of armor, shields, and weapons. Now soldiers wouldn’t be at the front lines fighting the entire time, but rather would switch out after some time and therefore had to be trained on how to pull back without disrupting the formation, prohibit the enemy from breaking through the lines, get refreshed, reform, and surge back forward replacing other tired units. Here the individual soldier shined and had a huge incentive to train as a battle could be seen as series of individual battles where one was responsible for his own safety, but at the same time called for the need for teamwork as you also needed to look out for your immediate neighbor, and have faith he would have yours.

As will be discussed later, soldiers learned new skills. This came out of necessity to spread the Roman Army as well as keeping the soldiers busy during peace. During times of war, soldiers had to build up bridges, forts, and siege engines. And when they were not on a campaign they built roads, aqueducts, canals, and other types of structures. During times of peace, the soldiers needed to be prepared to go to war at any moment so they had daily chores to keep the camp, equipment, animals, and weapons in good order. There also a need for the essentials like collecting firewood, guarding the fort, escorting convoys, administrative duties, surveying, and in some instances acting as the policing and state authority in the region.

Sleeping quarters from our viewpoint today could be seen as cramped, but nonetheless provided a living space for the soldier. Barracks were commonly tents or small structures filled with bunk beds. Although there is debate about the enforcement, there was a ban against soldiers having legal families while in service, but some believe that certain classes of soldiers would have been exempt and allowed to have families stay with them. This ban didn’t prohibit soldiers from having sex, it just prohibited the legal recognition tied to marital unions. This ban could have come around for various reasons. Some argue that it was due to keep the Army “masculine” and focused on their mission (whatever it may be) rather than on their family, thus continuing the separation from the civilian world and encouraging to recognize your Brothers-in-Arms as your family.

Whether or not a common soldier had a de facto family near the camp was irrelevant in some respects as military service provided soldiers’ access to the spoils of war such as slaves who were sometimes used as prostitutes who could be sexually used at will. We must not also forget the act of “brotherly love” that did occur within the ranks of the Romany Army. According to Robert Knapp, homosexuality was hypocritically looked down upon by the elites, but tolerated. Homosexuality, when it did occur, was between social equals, but was discouraged as the “receptive” partner was looked at as effeminate and again we see a push for soldiers to be a symbol of masculinity.

As a veteran, one of the benefits I see for enlistment in the learning of new skills. This was true for the soldier in ancient Rome who were craft, masonry, blacksmithing, and engineering skills; reading; writing; and medical techniques. Surviving evidence suggests most veterans entered into the agricultural profession, but there exist other examples of veterans running shops and small businesses. To be considered for regular honorable discharge those serving as Legionaries had to serve for 16-years and soldiers had to serve 25-years with additional 5-years in reserve.

A common soldier is a significant group as it was by their labors that Rome spread as far as it did. They were the ones whose blood, sweat, and tears conquered the barbaric and foreign lands, not the Senators in Rome or the elite who were treated with much more respect for far less effort. While they were under the direction of noted men of history, it was the common soldier, the countless forgotten, who built the infrastructure needed to maneuver the Army and supply the Empire in her expanse. Likened to today’s military, the Roman soldier was seen by outsiders and the conquered as a symbol and representative of the Roman Empire. It was also through the common soldiers that Romanization occurred with their interaction with the locals in the outer provinces.

Untold faceless soldiers were overlooked and under-appreciated by the elite, but remnants scatter across the former boundaries of the empire in form of mass grave sites or still-surviving architecture and infrastructure. They came from the bottom looking for a little slice of pie and promises of a better life for service to the Empire. They were sent thousands of miles from home as just another piece in the big game of the aristocrats trying to gain more power. While there are glaring differences, we can still strong similarities between ancient Rome and modern militaries; particularly the camaraderie and unity needed for any successful military formation. We rely on tombstones, biased narratives, and remnants of military diplomas to feed us the information we do have on the common soldier, but much of it must fall to speculation and assumptions in the absence of information. Maybe future discoveries will un-Earth something that can shed some further information on this group of invisible men who helped build Rome to her greatness.


1. MacMullen, Ramsay. “The Legion as a Society.” Journal of Ancient History 33, no. 4 (1984): 440-456. 

2. Kiesling, Eugenia. “Corporal Punishment in the Greek Phalanx and the Roman Legion: Modern Images and Ancient Realities.” Historical Reflections 32, no. 2 (2006): 225-246. 

3. Knapp, Robert. Invisible Romans. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011. 

4. Huntley, Katherine. “Roman Army” Lecture, HIST302 from Boise State University, Boise, ID, February 13, 2013. 

5. Hope, Valerie. “Trophies and Tombstones: Commemorating the Roman Soldier.” World Archaeology 35, no. 1 (2003): 79-97. 

6. Stout, S. E. “Training Soldiers for the Roman Legion.” The Classical Journal 16, no. 7 (1921): 423-431. 

7. Erdkamp, Paul (ed). A Companion to the Roman Army. Blackwell Publishing, 2007. Blackwell Reference Online. 09 May 2013 

8. Kajanto, Iiro. “Tacitus' Attitude to War and the Soldier.” Latomus 29, no. 3 (1970): 699-718. 

9. Allen, George H. “The Advancement of Officers in the Roman Army.” Supplementary Papers of the American School of Classical Studies in Rome 2 (1908): 1-25.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

King Arthur: The Man and the Myth

The legendary character known as Arthur is a romanticized character in the modern world, but in reality, Arthur is a mysterious, elusive character. In the book The Life of King Arthur (1825), Ritson states, “No character, eminent in ancient history, has ever been treated with more extravagance, mendacity, and injustice, than the renowned Arthur, the illustrious monarch and valiant commander of the Britons.” When searching through the historical documents, one is faced with many issues such as political and religious motivations of the authors, chronological discrepancies, the lack of uniformity among titles and personal names, and an attempt to translate a variety of languages without losing the context of the message. The works of Gildas, Bede, Nennius, Monmouth, Troyes, Mallory, and others show us the evolution of this figure throughout the ages as well as these issues facing the research of Arthur.

Many events and actions attributed to Arthur were discussed by a British cleric known as Gildas. In his document De Excidio Britanniae, Gildas never mentions or uses the name Arthur, but rather speaks of Ambrosius Aurelianus, but this is not sure if designating him Roman was to refer to his ethnicity or political inclination. Gildas’ work is vague and falls short of giving appropriate detail such as who the commander was at the famous battle of Mt. Badon. His poor record-keeping may be due to the fact that he was not motivated to write this document for posterity or for future ages, but as a social and religious commentary of his time and the troubles facing Britain because of their sinful ways.

Britain had been occupied by Roman forces since the first half of the 1st century AD and with the decline and end of the Roman Empire the “protective legions were gone.” In her last days, Rome gave some assistance to England when they were invaded by the Saxons, the Scots, and the Picts, but eventually, Rome refused to assist and the citizens were put between a rock and a hard place or, in this instance, between barbarians and the sea. Without the assistance of the Roman legions, a vacuum was created as problems could no longer be referred to a higher authority, but a man is said to have emerged that would rally the Britons and halt the invasions. Gildas refers to a “proud tyrant” who made an agreement with the Saxons to stop the northern invasion. When the alliance fell apart, the people fled and one of those was Ambrosius Aurelianus who would organize resistance against all invaders, including the Saxons. Some speculate that since Ambrosius was the only one named by Gildas that he may be the man who commanded the troops at Mt. Badon.

Bede, another historian and cleric in Britain, wrote a document that was very similar to Gildas’, but this one seems to be historically motivated. Bede does give a name to the “proud tyrant” and he is known as “King Vortigern” and the Saxons who he allies with gain names as well. Just like Gildas, he does not name Arthur as the commander at Mt. Badon. According to Sheila Brynjulfson, the first mention of Arthur in recorded history did not occur until the compilation by Nennius was published around 796 AD. In Nennius’ writing, a man referred to as “Arthur dux Bellorum” was in charge at Mt. Badon as well as eleven other battles that had led to a climactic battle at Mt. Badon. There are some inconsistencies found in Nennius’ work as he compiled his information from a number of sources, but did not reconcile any of the information after he compiled it chronologically. With these errors, what is known is that the Arthur named was not king, but the commander of the troops; it may be for this reason that Gildas did not name him as he may not have been one of high status. The concern is could this Arthur have been the same person as the timeline of the 12 battles would have spanned several years, and would be highly unlikely that one person led for all of the campaigns. Nennius’ writing may be an example of interpolation as numerology of 12 is powerful in Christianity and Nennius may have attributed other battles to his Arthur to give it importance within the Christian community. It is probable that he took battles from previous documents.

As the years went by Arthur would transform from a military commander to a legendary king, and with the evolution of “courtly love” and “chivalry,” Romantic notions would be attached such as the tales of Lancelot and Guinevere as well as the Knights of the Round Table as seen in the works by Monmouth and Troyes. The legacy of such tales and stories stood as a standard for future chivalric orders. These tales may have been exaggerated to increase the pedigree of their order by promoting it as something reminiscent of the Knights of the Round Table.

There are many issues when researching this figure and one such issue is that with the chronology as there conflicts with the dates of events. Though she was referring to the Easter Annals, Leslie Alcock makes an excellent statement with, “Despite this chronological problem, no reasonable arguments can be advanced for regarding the British Easter Annals as anything other than a trustworthy historical document.” Timekeeping is not nearly as advanced as it was and it is reasonable that events and persons named did in fact happen, but that they have been using erroneous methods to tell the dates. Critics do warn against interpolation as compilations that are written long after the event are “susceptible to amendment.”

The language barrier plays a part in the confusion and errors found in the historical documents. Among different languages of the day or the same language over time, slang and phrases, change and vary, taking on new meanings and interpretations. Past historians and writers may use a certain phrase that seems highly unlikely to a modern reader, but in its own time may have not been taken literally and instead used to impart the importance of that person in the event. With the complexity of languages, we fall into the trouble of taking references as literal names or titles of office. An example is seen with Vortigern which translates into “high chief”.

It is highly likely that the figure today known as Arthur is a compilation of actions by several men through Arthurian England. According to Mike Ashley, there are 12 men who could have been the mythical Arthur, the most likely having been Arthrwys ap Meurig who lived in the 7th century and fought against the Normans and Saxons. He did not fight at Mt. Badon and he also lived centuries after many Arthurian events happened which supports the idea that Arthur is a character of many historical men.

In conclusion, Arthur is more than just a fictional character, but has become a standard for knighthood and in some instances acted as a source of legitimacy for kings attempting to justify their reign. He has transcended history as someone who has been portrayed as performing great acts of heroism as well as making foolish, very human, decisions. The Arthur of legend is most likely a composite of acts of several men who over time have been stacked upon one another and through the acts of motivated writers and historians has morphed into the common story of a boy who pulled the sword from the stone, the boy who would be King of England, and who would establish an order of knighthood whose fabled deeds would stretch far across borders and time.


1. Alcock, Leslie. Arthur’s Britain. New York: Penguin Books, 2002.

2. Ashe, Geoffrey. “The Origins of the Arthurian Legend.” Arthuriana 5, no. 3 (1995): 1-24.

3. Ashley, Mike. The Mammoth Book of King Arthur. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2005.

4. “Building Blocks: Interesting Events in Early British History.” Accessed March 16, 2014.

5. Gildas. De Excidio Britanniae. Translated by J.A. Giles. Edited by Karen Wadley. 2013.

6. Hopkins, Annette B. “Ritson's Life of King Arthur” Periodicals of the Modern Language Association 43, no. 1 (1928): 251-287.

7. Kurt Hunter-Mann. “The Last of The Romans: The life and times of Ambrosius Aurelianus.” The Heroic Age. Accessed March 16, 2014.

8. Sheila Brynjulfson. “Artorius, Ambrosius, Arthur: Questing for the historical Arthur, King of Britons.” Vortigern Studies. Accessed March 16, 2014.

9. Williams, Mary. “King Arthur in History and Legend.” Folklore 73, no. 2 (1962): 73-88.

The Master’s Song

Part I


ADAM, the first of humane Kind,
Created with GEOMETRY
Imprinted on his Royal Mind,
Instructed soon his Progeny
CAIN & SETH, who then improv’d
The lib’ral Science in the Art
Of Architecture, which they lov’d,
And to their Offspring did impart.


CAIN a City fair and strong
First built, and call’d it Consecrate,
From Enoch’s Name, his eldest Son,
Which all his Race did imitate:
But godly ENOCH, of Seth’s Loins,
Two Columns rais’d with mighty Skill:
And all his Family enjoins
True Colonading to fullfil.


Our Father NOAH next appear’d
A Mason too divinely taught;
And by divine Command uprear’d
The ARK, that held a goodly Fraught:
’Twas built by true Geometry,
A Piece of Architecture fine; 
Helpt by his Sons, in number THREE, 
Concurring in the grand Design.


So from the gen’ral Deluge none
Were sav’d, but Masons and their Wives;
And all Mankind from them alone
Descending, Architecture thrives;
For they, when multiply’d amain,
Fit to disperse and fill the Earth,
In SHINAR’s large & lovely Plain
To MASONRY gave second Birth.


For most of Mankind were employ’d,
To build the City and the Tow’r;
The Gen’ral Lodge was overjoy’d,
In such Effects of Masons Pow’r;
’Till vain Ambition did provoke
Their Maker to confound their Plot;
Yet tho’ with Tongues confus’d they spoke,
The learned Art they ne’er forgot.


Who can unfold the Royal Art?
Or sing its Secrets in a Song?
They’re safely kept in Masons HEART
And to the ancient Lodge belong.

[Stop here to drink the present GRAND 
MASTER’s Health.]

Part II


THUS when from BABEL they disperse 
In Colonies to distant Climes, 
All Masons true, who could rehearse 
Their Works to those of after Times; 
King NIMROD fortify’d his Realm, 
By Castles, Tow’rs, and Cities fair; 
MITZRA’M, who rul’d at Egypt’s Helm, 
Built Pyramids stupendous there.


Nor JAPHET, and his gallant Breed, 
Did less in Masonry prevail; 
Nor SHEM, and those that did succeed 
To promis’d Blessings by Entail; 
For Father ABRAM brought from UR 
Geometry, the Science good; 
Which he reveal’d, without demur, 
To all descending from his Blood.


Nay JACOB’s Race at length were taught, 
To lay aside the Shepherd’s Crook, 
To use Geometry were brought, 
Whilst under Phar’oh’s cruel Yoke, 
’Till MOSES Master-Mason rose, 
And led the HOLY LODGE from thence, 
All Masons train’d, to whom he chose, 
His curious Learning to dispense.


Inspired Men, the TENT uprear’d; 
Where the Shechinah chose to dwell, 
And Geometrick Skill appear’d: 
And when these valiant Masons fill’d 
Canaan, the learn’d PHENICIANS knew 
The Tribes of Isra’l better skill’d 
In Architecture firm and true.


For DAGON’s House in Gaza Town, 
Artfully propt by COLUMNS two; 
By SAMSON’s mighty Arms pull’d down 
On Lords Philistian, whom it slew; 
Tho’ ’twas the finest Fabrick rais’d 
By Canaan’s Sons, could not compare
With the Creator’s Temple prais’d, 
For glorious Strength and Structure fair.


But here we stop a while to toast 
Our MASTER’s Health and Wardens both; 
And warn you all to shun the Coast 
Of Samson’s Shipwrackt Fame and Troth; 
His Secrets once to WIFE disclos’d 
His Strength was fled, his Courage tam’d 
To cruel Foes he was expos’d, 
And never was a Mason nam’d.


Who can unfold the Royal Art? 
Or sing its Secrets in a Song? 
They’re safely kept in Masons HEART, 
And to the ancient Lodge belong

[Stop here to drink the Health of the Master 
and Wardens of this particular Lodge.]

Part III


We sing of MASONS ancient Fame 
When fourscore Thousand Craftsmen stood, 
Under the MASTERS of great Name 
Three Thousand and six Hundred good, 
Employ’d by SOLOMON the Sire 
And Gen’ral MASTER-MASON too; 
As HIRAM was in stately Tyre, 
Like Salem built by Masons true.


The Royal Art was then divine, 
The Craftsmen counsell’d from above, 
The Temple did all Works outshine, 
The wond’ring World did all approve, 
Ingenious Men, from every Place, 
Came to survey the glorious Pile; 
And when return’d, began to trace, 
And imitate its lofty Style


At length the GRECIANS came to know
Geometry, and learnt the Art, 
Which great PYTHAGORAS did show, 
And Glorious EUCLID did impart; 
Th’ amazing ARCHIMEDES too, 
And many other Scholars good; 
’Till ancient ROMANS did review 
The Art, and Science understood.


But when proud ASIA they had quell’d, 
And GREECE and EGYPT overcome, 
In Architecture they excell’d, 
And brought the Learning all to ROME; 
Where wise VITRUVIUS, Master prime 
Of Architects, the Art improv’d, 
In Great AUGUSTUS’ peaceful Time, 
When Arts and Artists were belov’d.


They brought the Knowledge from the East; 
And as they made the Nations yield, 
They spread it thro’ the North and West, 
And taught the World the Art to build, 
Witness their Citadels and Tow’rs. 
To fortify their Legions fine, 
Their Temples, Palaces, and Bow’rs,
That spoke the Masons GRAND DESIGN.


Thus mighty Eastern Kings, and some 
Of Abram’s Race, and Monarchs good, 
Of Egypt, Syria, Greece, and Rome, 
True Architecture understood 
No wonder then if Masons join, 
To celebrate those Mason Kings, 
With solemn Note and flowing Wine, 
Whilst ev’ry Brother jointly sings,


Who can unfold the Royal Art? 
Or sing its Secrets in a Song? 
They’re safely kept in Mason’s HEART, 
And to the ancient Lodge belong.

[Stop here to drink to the glorious Memory
of Emperors, Kings, Princes, Nobles, Gentry,
Clergy, and learned Scholars that ever
propagated the Art.]

Part IV


OH! glorious Days for Masons wise, 
O’er all the Roman Empire when 
Their Fame, resounding to the Skies, 
Proclaim’d them good and useful Men; 
For many Ages thus employ’d, 
Until the Goths with warlike Rage, 
And brutal Ignorance, destroy’d 
The Toil of many a learned Age.


But when the conqu’ring Goths were brought 
T’embrace the Christian Faith, they found 
The Folly that their Fathers wrought, 
In loss of Architecture sound. 
At length their Zeal for stately Fanes, 
And wealthy Grandeur, when at Peace, 
Made them exert their utmost Pains, 
Their Gothic Buildings to up-raise.


Thus many a sumptuous lofty Pile 
Was rais’d in every Christian Land, 
Tho’ not conform to Roman Style, 
Yet which did Reverence command: 
The King and Craft agreeing still, 
In well form’d Lodges to supply 
The mournful Want of Roman Skill 
With their new sort of Masonry.


For many Ages this prevails, 
Their Work is Architecture deem’d; 
In England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, 
The Craftsmen highly are esteem’d, 
By Kings, as Masters of the Lodge, 
By many a wealthy noble Peer, 
By Lord and Laird, by Priest and Judge, 
By all the People every where.


So Masons ancient Records tell, 
King Athelstan, of Saxon Blood, 
Gave them a Charter free to dwell 
In Lofty Lodge, with Orders good, 
Drawn from old Writings by his Son, 
Prince Edwin, General Master bright, 
Who met at York the Brethren soon, 
And to that Lodge did all recite.


Thence were their Laws and Charges fine 
In ev’ry Reign observ’d with Care, 
Of Saxon, Danish, Norman Line, 
Till British Crowns united were: 
The Monarch First of this whole Isle 
Was learned James a Mason King, W
ho first of Kings reviv’d the Style 
Of great Augustus: therefore sing.


Who can unfold the Royal Art?
Or sing its Secrets in a Song? 
They’re safely kept in Mason’s Heart, 
And to the ancient Lodge belong.

[Stop here to drink to the happy Memory of 
all the Revivers of the ancient Augustan Style.]

Part V


THUS tho’ in Italy the Art 
From Gothick Rubbish first was rais’d; 
And great Palladio did impart 
A Style by Masons justly prais’d: 
Yet here this mighty Rival Jones, 
Of British Architects the prime, 
Did build such glorious Heaps of Stones, 
As ne’er were match’d since Cæsar’s Time.


King Charles the first, a Mason too, 
With several Peers and wealthy Men, 
Employ’d him & his Craftsmen true, 
’Till wretched Civil Wars began. 
But after Peace and Crown restor’d, 
Tho’ London was in Ashes laid, 
By Masons Art and good Accord, 
A finer London rear’d its Head.


King Charles the second raised then 
The finest Column upon Earth, 
Founded St. Paul’s, that stately Fane, 
And Royal Change, with Joy and Mirth: 
But afterwards the Lodges fail’d; 
Till great Nassau the Tast reviv’d, 
Whose bright Example so prevail’d 
That ever since the Art has thriv’d.


Let other Nations boast at will, 
Great Britain now will yield to none, 
For true Geometry and Skill, 
In building Timber, Brick, and Stone; 
For Architecture of each sort, 
For curious Lodges, where we find 
The Noble and the Wise resort, 
And drink with Craftsmen true and kind.


Then let good Brethren all rejoice, 
And fill their Glass with chearful Heart, 
Let them express with grateful Voice 
The Praises of the wondrous Art; 
Let ev’ry Brother’s Health go round, 
Not Fool or Knave but Mason true, 
And let our Master’s Fame resound, 
The noble Duke of MONTAGU


Who can unfold the Royal Art? 
Or sing its Secrets in a Song? 
They’re safely kept in Mason’s Heart, 
And to the ancient Lodge belong