Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Giotto: The Virtues and Vices ~ Foolishness

The shrewd always act prudently but the foolish parade folly.Proverbs 13:16
The tongue of the wise pours out knowledge, but the mouth of fools spews folly. Proverbs 15:2
A wise heart accepts commands, but a babbling fool will be overthrown.Proverbs 10:8
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” Their deeds are loathsome and corrupt; not one does what is good. Psalm 14:1

What, you may ask, is this all about? At first glance this fool looks almost like a parody of an American Indian, but that would be impossible in the 14th century. Bearing a large club, he (she?) is crowned with feathers and bells. There are bells? tied around his waist; the sleeves of his tunic look like little wings; and the hem of his tunic resembles a bird's tail. He looks almost as if he might drop that club on his own head. This would make sense because the fool is his own worst enemy. The opposite of Prudence in Giotto's estimation, he never counts the cost or prepares for the future. I see in Strong's Concordance that the Greek word for folly or foolishness is  ἄνοια, literally, without a mind.

As you can see, all of the quotes are from Proverbs and Psalms. Most of the discussion about foolishness in scripture and in the Fathers is about how the wisdom of Christ seems like foolishness to the world, so isn't quite applicable here.

So that wraps up the cardinal virtues. They are excellent and necessary, but even when practiced perfectly, they can result in a cold, loveless world without faith, hope and charity. You can see that at work in ancient civilizations, and you can see it in some areas of modern life, although our current culture seems to be abandoning even the cardinal virtues--prudence most assuredly. 


1 comment:

  1. It appears that the etymology of the word "stultify" is not what I would have supposed.