“It is true, veils hang at the entrances to the schools of literature, but they do not signify the prestige of the elite teaching so much as the covering up of error.”

–Augustine of Hippo, Confessions Book I, xiii (22). 

It was customary in the Roman Empire, when seeing a prestigious person, to pass through multiple doorways covered with curtains or veils. The more veils to pass through, the more prestigious the person. For Augustine, the school’s veils were not truthfully an indication of wisdom within but rather strategic ostentation. A similar metaphor appears in Ellison’s Invisible Man:

“Then in my mind’s eye I see the bronze statue of the college Founder, the cold Father symbol, his hands outstretched in the breathtaking gesture of lifting a veil that flutters in hard, metallic folds above the face of a kneeling slave; and I am standing puzzled, unable to decide whether the veil is really being lifted, or lowered more firmly in place; whether I am witnessing a revelation or a more efficient blinding.”        –p.36

About C.P.

Collin is a professional writer and scholar. He holds an MA in Philosophy and a BA in English literature. His philosophical work has appeared in print published by Wiley/Blackwell and Open Court. More of his writings, philosophical, literary, comic, and just plain nonsensical are available online. He currently lives in Seattle where he is writing science fiction, dressing up for Cons, and wreaking havoc on his opponents (npcs and tabletop humans alike).
This entry was posted in Quotations. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *