Friday, 5 June 2015

7QT10: An Alcuin-pedia

We debated for a long time whether to go with Alcuin as a first name for our son, mainly because of others' possible reactions. But when he was born he was definitely Alcuin. I like to think of it as a special name for a special baby, or an ancient name for a child with ancient parents :). So, to celebrate our nerdiness, here is a mini Alcuin-pedia.

1. The name, pronounced AL-kwin, is an ancient British one (well, Teutonic, but we'll go with British). It means "noble friend".

2. The most (only?!) famous Alcuin in history is Alcuin of York, ca. 735-804 AD. He was sent to York cathedral school as a child, and remained there as a teacher and then headmaster. On a journey to Rome, he met with Charlemagne, who was sufficiently impressed to persuade Alcuin to lead the palace school at Aachen, in which even the Emperor and his wife enrolled along with their children. One of the foremost scholars of his time, Alcuin was a key figure in the Carolingian renaissance. He is credited with restoring Latin as a literary language and with developing the miniscule script which, among other things, made it easier to copy mathematical texts. Though more a teacher than an innovator, he is also the only name of note in mathematical history in this period. It was said of him that "wherever anything of literary activity is visible, there we can with certainty count on finding a pupil of Alcuin's."

See - how long did that take you to read?

Note the uncanny lack of resemblance

3. Here is a contemporary depiction of Alcuin of York

4. Famous Alcuin quotes:

  • He who does not learn when he is young, does not teach when he is old
  • Man thinks; God directs
  • Oh how sweet life was when we were sitting quietly... among all these books

5. Alcuin loved libraries - he established a great library at Aachen, and at Tours, where he retired to be Abbot at Saint Martin's monastery. One of his poems celebrates York and its library (sadly destroyed by Viking raiders after his death).

6. The Alcuin Club, formed in 1897, promotes sound liturgical scholarship. I'm waiting for our complimentary membership.

7. Although I didn't know this at the time, our Alcuin was born at the very time Alcuin of York was being commemorated in my church's noonday service. And the vicar who will christen him in England is a member of the Alcuin Club. So there you go - a name that was meant to be.

For more Seven Quick Takes, join Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum.

1 comment:

  1. Certainly a memorable one! :) Congratulations, by the way.