A Canticle for Leibowitz

by Walter M. Miller Jr.

Start Free Trial

Summary and Analysis: Part 2 (Fiat Lux), Chapters 12-13

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

New Characters
Thon Taddeo Pfardentrott: a scholar and cousin of Hannegan II

Monsignor Marcus Apollo: a Church official and nuncio to Hannegan II

Brother Claret: a Church messenger and assistant to Apollo

Brother Kornhoer: a monk at the abbey experimenting with electricity

Abbot Dom Paulo: the head of the abbey of the order of Saint Leibowitz

Hannegan II: the ruler of the Texarkana empire

Brother Armbruster: the librarian of the abbey and its Rector of Memorabilia

Father Gault: an abbey priest and advisor to Dom Paulo

The year is now 3174. Monsignor Marcus Apollo, who is the Vatican’s nuncio to King Hannegan, is convinced that a war is about to begin. He sees Brother Claret among the guests at the reception and calls him over. Monsignor Apollo tells Claret to see him in his office after the reception. He then says that Hannegan’s emissary to Mad Bear’s clan came back to Hannegan alive. This, Apollo believes, means that Hannegan’s agreement with the Vatican, or New Rome, to fight against the nomads and bandit groups in the disputed lands was a fraud. His conversation with Claret stops as Thon Taddeo, Hannegan’s relative and a distinguished scholar, approaches.

Taddeo and Apollo exchange formal greetings, but then Taddeo asks Apollo about a letter from Kornhoer, at the abbey Francis had served, inviting Taddeo to come to the abbey and study documents from the end of “European-American civilization.” Taddeo expresses his hesitation to do so, given the danger from Mad Bear’s clan if he should take such a journey, and asks if an armed guard could take the documents from the abbey to the collegium Taddeo attends instead. Apollo says he cannot help with this request and asks Taddeo to talk with him later in his study. Taddeo leaves.

Apollo later explains to Claret that he didn’t simply refuse to grant the request for two reasons: because Taddeo, as a relative of Hannegan’s, demands respect, and because Taddeo may reveal information about Mad Bear’s clan that Claret can deliver to New Rome. Apollo adds that Claret is going to deliver a report on Hannegan and the possibility of a war to New Rome. The report, Apollo says, is to inform New Rome that Hannegan’s agreement is probably a fraud meant to deceive “the empire of Denver and Laredan Nation” into fighting the Plains nomads. Apollo says Hannegan intends to do this so he can inspire the State of Chihuahua to attack Laredo, freeing Hannegan to conquer that Laredo Nation and move on to trying to conquer Denver and the Mississippi Republic. Apollo is not sure if Hannegan can do this, but the Church needs to be aware of his plans.

Taddeo comes to Apollo’s study that evening to talk about the abbey’s documents and the collegium faculty’s skepticism that they are authentic. However, Taddeo adds that the collegium does want to investigate them immediately, and Taddeo mentions that he is a physicist. Taddeo wonders how humans who produced the civilization of Einstein, Maxwell, and other great scientists could destroy that civilization and degrade into the savagery of modern times. He again asks Apollo to urge the abbey’s abbot to let the collegium examine the documents. Apollo says he will convey Taddeo’s request to the abbot, Dom Paulo, but is skeptical about whether or not it will be granted. Taddeo leaves, and Apollo tells Claret to go to New Rome and tell the abbey of Taddeo’s request.

Abbot Dom Paulo has decided not to let the documents be taken to the collegium. Dom Paulo has read to him, in the abbey, the collegium’s response,...

(This entire section contains 1134 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

as communicated by Apollo. Taddeo decides to go to the abbey in order to study the documents. Apollo warns the abbot that Taddeo, as a secular and perhaps anti-clerical scholar, should not be trusted. The readers learn that Taddeo was raised and educated in a Benedictine monastery and is the illegitimate son of Hannegan’s uncle and a serving maid. The uncle, a duke, eventually made Taddeo his heir but was forced by his wife to send Taddeo away. Hannegan and Taddeo have a rivalry dating from the circumstances of Taddeo being sent away to the monastery while Hannegan prepared to assume the throne of the Texarkana empire. Apollo warns Dom Paulo that Taddeo has a sharp and dangerous mind but adds that he is confident that the abbey can handle Taddeo’s visit.

In the weeks after receiving the letter, Dom Paulo feels ill and full of foreboding over a vague sense of approaching evil. One day he talks with Father Gault about Benjamin, the old hermit who lives in the mesa close by the abbey. Dom Paulo decides to visit him to ease his loneliness. Gault adds that the Poet is in the royal guest rooms and needs to leave to make room for Taddeo’s upcoming arrival, and that Brother Kornhoer’s experiments are creating dispute between Kornhoer and Brother Armbruster. Gault leaves, and Dom Paulo walks over to the guest house. He sees a goat in the house’s third room, and finds Poet in its fourth room. Poet accepts the order to make way for Taddeo, and explains that he won the goat from Benjamin in a game of mumbly-peg, in which he staked his own glass eye against Benjamin’s goat. Dom Paulo tells Poet to return the goat, but Poet says that the goat will be needed for Taddeo’s visit.

A Renaissance is beginning to come to North America in 3174. This Renaissance parallels the European Renaissance of the 1400s and 1500s in that it features the rediscovery of texts by scholars such as Thon Taddeo. His arduous journey to the abbey solely to examine and discuss its texts shows that humanity is once again placing a high value on culture and literacy. The growth of independent nations also indirectly shows that technology and literacy are developing, because without such things and the communication links they enable, nations could not be created or maintained. However, Apollo’s thoughts about Hannegan II show that the growing culture has also enabled nations to pursue goals of conquest and subjugation. These goals recall earlier talk about how leaders created the nuclear war because in their arrogance they wanted power.

Taddeo’s monastery upbringing has clearly not convinced him to remain in the Church, and Apollo’s warnings about him show that the Church is suspicious of outsiders who may challenge its longtime stronghold on culture and literacy. Benjamin and Poet’s role in the novel are extremely vague at this point. However, already the talk of mumbly-peg, a goat, and a glass eye are introducing a surprising and unpredictable note into the plot.


Summary and Analysis: Part 1 (Fiat Homo), Chapters 10-11


Summary and Analysis: Part 2 (Fiat Lux), Chapters 14-15