The Meridian and the Hexagram: The Revelation of France's Foundation Plan (cont.)
By William Glyn-Jones
It was a chancellor of Chartres Cathedral in France, Fulbert, who was, according to historian George Henderson in his book Chartres, the first man in Europe known to have used the astrolabe, an instrument that finds positions and altitudes of the stars, which he did from the top of one of the towers of the cathedral. Fulbert's period was in the early eleventh century. Chartres' statues include seven women representing the Liberal Arts and for each art there is also a statue of an ancient expert in that field, including one of Ptolemy, and since they were reading Ptolemy they must have come across the notion of longitude measured from a meridian.
In the late Dark Ages the classical writers were still being studied at the School of Chartres, in Northern France, around the time that Hugh Capet made Paris, formally a Roman city, the capital of France. Plato must have been read at Chartres and elsewhere long before the Renaissance, for Bernard, a head of the Chartres school at one time, was described by a contemporary as the greatest Platonist of his time. But Paris had been a regional capital even before that, established by the Merovingian kings. Can it have been coincidence that this site is effectively due north of the site where the Visigoths had established their capital, at the Roman site of Rhedae, now known as Rennes-le-Chateaux and where the Merovingian king Dagobert II ruled for a time once married to the daughter of the Visigoth king? Paris too had once been a Roman city.
These Merovingian kings were well lettered and even before their Christian conversion had been Rome-friendly to the extent of building amphitheatres as the Romans had done. Much of the heritage of Classical Antiquity was there for the reading, and these founders of Paris were not the simple barbarians some have imagined them to be.
In summary then, the technical aspects of the geodetic plan were well within the capabilities of the scholars of the Renaissance of the 1400's. But there is a further question that cannot really be avoided, even if we have decided to view this business from the level of the divine intellect with the Eye of the Mind. The thing is, the Paris Meridian is not supposed to have existed before the latter half of the 1600's.
The story of the north-south line that forms the French Zero Meridian, from the official historical point of view, is that during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, the masterminds behind the French throne decided they wanted France to be properly mapped so that the country could be developed, with roads and bridges and canals and so on, according to a cartographic master plan. The Paris observatory, so the history goes, was built just outside Paris, and from here the French Zero Meridian was laid out, upon which the subsequent surveys - the first proper scientific cartographic surveys in the world in the modern sense - were based.
The French meridian goes, of course, through the capital city of Paris, and it also runs down through the city of Bourges that has long been held to be the centre of France, as well as through Amiens half way between Paris and the effective north point on the coast. Bourges and Amiens, like Paris, have great gothic cathedrals. Bourges has an even older history of being an important spot, for it was Roman Avaricum, the capital of Aquitaine, and even before that, way back in the 7th century B.C., it was the centre of the Celtic Kingdom of the Biturges Cubi. There is a gold line that has been inserted in the floor of the cathedral of Bourges to show exactly where the Meridian runs. Are we expected to believe that it is a coincidence that the line not only takes in the Visigoth capital at the previously Roman site of Rhedae in the South, and the Merovingian capital at the previously Roman site of Paris in the North, but also runs directly through this awesome Gothic cathedral built long before the Sun King's time, i.e. before the meridian was officially plotted out, at the previously Roman site of Avaricum, capital of Aquitane, in the interior?
Another anomaly is Poussin's painting Les Bergers d'Arcadie II. It is linked to the meridian because of its involvement with the Rennes-le-Chateaux story. Whether or not they were the ancient society they claimed, (and consensus opinion now is that they were not), the fact is that a great deal of effort was expended by a group calling themselves the Priory of Sion to connect the painting with a site near Rennes-le-Chateaux, at a site if not on then certainly very close to the Meridian. Their message was delivered through a series of 'leaked' documents, such as the now-famous Dossiers Secrets, which said that 'Poussin wished to declare the mystery [i.e. the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateaux] in his two pictures, the 'Shepherds of Arcadia', there is without doubt the secret of the treasure before which the descendants, country folk and shepherds, of the proud Sicambrian Franks reflect on 'et in Arcadia ego', the and King 'Midas'.'
Et in Arcadia Ego is of course the inscription on the tomb in the Poussin painting, and it is thought to have been modelled on the inscription on the tomb of the shepherd Daphnis in the Virgil eclogue that I mentioned above:-
And build a tomb, and on the tomb place, too, this verse: 'I, Daphnis amid the woods, known from here even to the stars. Fair was my flock, but fairer I, their shepherd.'"
Phillip Coppens has shown that the younger shepherd in Poussin's painting is the Bootes constellation (http://www.philipcoppens.com/arcadia.html). In Renaissance constellation maps Hercules was shown as a bearded man and the adjacent Bootes was shown as a man with one foot resting on a rock, very much as with the two shepherds in front of the tomb. Remember that we have already noted that Daphnis in this poem ascends to the Portal of the Sky at the culmination point due south.
Shepherds of Arcadia II : Hercules, Bootes and Astraea
Virgo is also adjacent to Bootes, on the other side from Hercules, and so the most likely identity of the lady standing behind Bootes in Poussin's Shepherds of Arcadia II is Astraea, the golden mantle symbolising the Golden Age. She is appropriately depicted surrounded by Arcadian Shepherds both because Bootes as Ikarios and Daphnis is indeed a herdsman and because the people of Arcadia and their culture were said by some, such as Pausanias, to be the oldest of people, older even than the Moon, which traces them back to the Golden Age. Thirdly, Virgil's IVth eclogue describes the return of the Golden Age with the birth of a divine child, and while the Golden Age necessarily means also the return of Justice, who had fled to the sky when it ended, by the High, or the latest the Late Renaissance, the bucolic life of Virgil's poetic shepherds was idealised because it has been shepherds who had been the first to hear, by the prophetic insight of the rustic bard, of the birth of the divine child Christ. I am introducing this here as in a moment we shall be able to see that Astraea, i.e. the goddess Justice, turns out to be the key to understanding the context of the "blade" and the "chalice", and we shall even see why Astraea would be associated with the Rennes-le-Chateaux region.