Non plus ultra

The words "non plus ultra", or "beyond this, nothing" were according to a Greek legend also inscribed on the Pillars of Heracles, that is, the Gibraltar. And if one wants to be deliberately perverse again, the translation "there is no plus beyond" presents itself, as does the most prominent Greek placename associated with being beyond the Pillars: Atlantis. But surely it is madness to mutter "there is no plus beyond, no more" and gaze to the seas that drank the first kingdom? Surely it is madness to consider that, indeed, all mathematicians of Atlantis have perished, and nothing but a misunderstood motto remains to mourn them?

Then what of the book Novum Organum, by the well-known mystic, scientist and man of many secrets Francis Bacon, whose first page bears a picture of the same pillars --- though this time with the legend Multi pertransibunt et augebitur scientia --- "Many will pass through and knowledge will be the greater"? Why that particular passage, from the churning emptiness of the sea to the cradle of antiquity? And knowledge of what? Good... or evil?

last updated: (Mar 14 2011)