The Trusty Servant Nov 2015 No.120

The TRUSTY SERVANT NO.120 NOVEMBER 2015 The Headmaster writes: We print here the address the Headmaster gave on Goddard Day 2015: What a Wykehamical King Arthur Monty Python gave us: ‘Stop. What is your name?’ ‘It is Arthur, King of the Britons.’ ‘What is your quest?’ ‘To seek the Holy Grail.’ ‘What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?’ ‘What do you mean? An African or European swallow?’ ‘Huh? I don’t know that. How do you know so much about swallows?’ ‘Well, you have to know these things when you’re a king, otherwise people won’t take you seriously.’ ISIS, called by the commentariat ‘a dark and medieval vision’. The word is also commonly applied to severe punishment (‘these medieval beheadings’), out-of-date technology (this ‘medieval typewriter’) and all illiberal attitudes. Or, alternatively, there is the Monty Python view: the Middle Ages are allied with ignorant wickedness, as well as comic derision: knights immobilised in their armour, fat monks panting after lascivious nuns, damsels locked into chastity belts. We don’t talk about the need for order much these days; we take it for granted (though the pictures we see of asylum seekers pouring into Eastern Europe from the chronically disordered Middle East might signal a dramatic return of disorder into our settled patterns). We We begin the new academic year calling to mind with gratitude the Founder’s gifts: the gift of this lofty and elegant Chapel, and, even more, the gift of the School in which we live and learn. 630-odd years is a long time, but to look at the buildings alone, here and the great nave of the Cathedral, we can but marvel at the design and engineering genius of his medieval mind. When you view these buildings and when you read the detailed statutes which the Founder wrote for his school, the overwhelming impression is that he was seeking to structure order in a chronically disordered world. You might have noticed that the word medieval has had a revival recently as an adjective applied to the atrocities of 1 talk much more about our need for, or indeed right to, happiness. The notion of happiness has been expressed and embraced in different ways over time, going back to the birth of Western civilisation in ancient Greece. Aristotle, one of the first to pay significant attention to the idea, thought that happiness consisted of being a good person. The happy life, what the Greeks called eudaemonia, was one lived ethically, guided by reason and dedicated to cultivating one’s virtues. Then, soon after, the Epicureans connected happiness to simple pleasure, though they were no mere physical pleasure-seekers, because they preached a strict regulation of desire. To be happy, Epicurus said, he needed no more than a barley cake and some water. Then came the Stoics, who, if they believed in happiness at all, associated it with a capacity for bravery and endurance in adversity. And then somewhere in there was the Greek myth about Narcissus, the beautiful young man who saw his reflection in the pool and fell in love with it. More of him later. In the ancient Near East, Judaism preached that true happiness could be found only in a personal relationship with God the creator; and then Christianity focused that relationship in God’s Son Jesus Christ, who walked the towns of Palestine teaching people about the nature of divine love. Happiness as divine love was certainly the framework of William of Wykeham’s life. To him, real happiness was discovered in a life of being faithful to God’s commandments, expressed in imitation of Jesus in service to