Things living, and creeping!


Image: Imperial Hotel (now Malvern St James Girls’ School), 2012

This was to be the sign – “But she, the goddess herself, gave to them to prevail over the dwellers upon earth, with best-laboring hands in every art. And by their paths there were the likenesses of living and of creeping things; and the glory was deep. For to the cunning workman, greater knowledge comes, undeceitful.”

An infinitely pregnant passage, this, of which to-day you are to note mainly these three things: First, that Athena is the goddess of Doing, not at all of sentimental inaction. She is begotten, as it were, of the woodman’s ax; her purpose is never in a word only, but in a word and a blow. She guides the hands that labor best, in every art.

The victory given by Wisdom, the worker, to the hands that labor best, is that the streets and ways, κελευθοι, shall be filled by likenesses of living and creeping things.

Things living, and creeping!

By this forming of Images there is to be gained a ‘deep’ – that is to say, a weighty, and prevailing, glory; not a floating nor fugitive one. For to the cunning workman, greater knowledge comes, ‘undeceitful.’

– John Ruskin: ‘Aratra Pentelici, Seven Lectures on the Elements of Sculpture – Given before the University of Oxford in Michaelmas Term’, 1870

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