Study of Beelzebub's Tales




30 Art


“You must know that the learned beings then in Babylon, the members of the club of the Adherents-of-Legominism, were called by the other learned beings of that time who were well disposed towards them, as they also called themselves, by the name which your contemporary favorites would write as ‘Orpheist.’


“So instead of the said expression Orpheist they just invented the word artist, which had to mean ‘he-who-is-occupied-with-art.’


“When this written compromise was invented, they had about twenty-five of these suspicious ‘letters,’ but in the course of time, as their ableness to pronounce deteriorated with the increase of their wiseacring, the number of the letters they specially invented for such a ‘being-ableness’ diminished, and by the time the word artist was invented they had already only eight of these letters; and in front of this notorious ‘h,’ they wrote letters, partly ancient Greek and partly ancient Latin, which they indicated in the following way: ‘th,’ ‘ph,’ ‘gh,’ ‘ch,’ ‘sch,’ ‘kh,’ ‘dh,’ and ‘oh.’


“The basis they had for the arising of such a misunderstanding there was the compromising sign ‘ph.’


“And it was the basis because it appeared in the word by which the learned mysterists were designated and also in the word which stood for a personality invented by the ancient Greeks, with whose name, as I have already said, one of the schools-of-art then existing had been connected; and the result of this was that the mentioned representatives of this terrestrial art of that time, with their already now quite bobtailed reason, thought that it was nothing more than the word indicating ‘the-followers-of-this-historical-personality-Orpheus,’ and as many of them did not regard themselves as his followers, then instead of the mentioned word they just invented the word artist.


“As we have seen, not every inheritance of the ancient Romans turned out to be maleficent for the beings of subsequent generations, but in the given case this little letter ‘h’ of theirs has been even an inspiring factor for engendering that ‘being-ableness’ in the presences of such beings of subsequent generations to whom it became already definitely proper to have no initiative or ‘ableness’ of their own, and they wished and succeeded in substituting for the already long-existing definite expression ‘Orpheist’ the new word artist.