A dialog from The Masonic Society Forum

Who was Cymon?

Post by OwenKL on Tue May 27, 2008 5:34 pm

In Ahiman Rezon, the following are found. First, in a list of toasts in the 1756 edition, there is

The Memory of old Cymon ———
Since the list also includes such as "To the Memory of P. H. Z. L. and J. A." and "The Memory of our Sister, Allworth, of New-Market", I didn't give this much thought. (The name, by the way, was probably pronounced Simon, not Kymon.) But then in the 1803 addenda, I came to this stanza in the Knights Templars Song

See — here are men, who are bound by ties to tread
In honour's paths; — by obligations led
To serve the Fair; to dry the orphan's tears,
The widow's pleas; — and dissipate their fears:
To wield our swords in Christian's sacred cause;
To vanquish Turks, and trample on their laws;
To pass our lives in righteousness and truth,
To serve our Brethren, and instruct our youth.
Poor Cymon too, we awesomely revere, —
Are strangers to servility and fear.
And a couple poems later, one extolling "Carberry Lodge," has this excerpt

Knights Templars all of worth immense,
Of wit, of humour and of sense,
Without a tinge of impudence,
An health to all such Masons:
• • •
Two thousand chosen men upright
Have been by them restored to sight,
And ushered into glorious Light,
Let's toast Cymonic Masons.

Who is "poor Cymon"? I found two references to a Cymon - one a Greek myth about a crude young man who fell in love with Iphigenia, and became a polished and mannerly gentleman to win her affections. The other was a General Cymon or Cimon (c.465 BC), effectively the head of the Delian League, a hedgemon of city-states lead by Athens. Neither of these seems to fit any Masonic sense.

Re: Who was Cymon?

Post by rmolano on Tue May 27, 2008 11:01 pm

Simon according to Christian's New Testament was a man from Cyrene who was pressed to carry the cross. Contemporary works such Templar Revelations suggests that Simon did more than physically carrying the cross. Islam's Koran or Quoran stated that someone else was crucified while Michael Baigent's The Jesus Paper postulated a plot that staged the crucifiction. Baigent wrote interesting data about Simon e.g. due to large Jewish community at Cyrene, Simon could be a black Jewish man on a visit to Jerusalem at the time he was "picked" to the now famous task. The book however, is about historical or mystical Jesus (depending which side the reader is on) not about a footnote of history or myth or religious belief---not about Simon of Cyrene. It is equally interesting to note that the York Rite's Order of Knights Templar uses a symbol called "Cross of Cyrene."

"Freemasonry taught us not to accept its own lessons on its face value. There are meaning and messages behind the allegory, symbols and illustrations. As a creature expected to utilize our “corporeal and mental faculties to their fullest energy,” rational thinking minds will lead us to ask what other things in the Bible that might change in the future? And for the Knights Templars, who really was Simon of Cyrene?"

Reflections and Transformation

Re: Who was Cymon?

Post by StephenDafoe on Wed May 28, 2008 5:26 am

Following on what Brother Olano has already said, Simon of Cyrene can be found in three passages in the Christian gospels, and I think a retelling of those passages sheds some light on the Masonic Templar context.

Mark 15:21-22

21 And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.
22 And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.
Matthew 27:32

And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.
Luke 23:26

And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.

Interestingly enough, The Gospel of John makes no mention of Simon of Cyrene.

My take on this is that Simon bore Christ’s Cross and Templar Masons do this symbolically. As such, Cymonic Masons are Christian Masons (Templars) who carry the responsibility of following their faith.

I don’t think there is anything deeper or esoteric than that.

Re: Who was Cymon?

Post by OwenKL on Wed May 28, 2008 1:15 pm

Thank you gentlemen for those comments so far. While I tend to think you're right, I'm still not entirely convinced, however.

To stir the pot a little, I've found another reference, this time spelled "Simon". This is one stanza from "Knights Templars Song"

Twelve once were highly loved,
But one a Judas proved,
Put out his fire:
May Simon haunt all fools
Who vary from our rules,
May the heads of such tools
Rest high on spires.
This sounds more like it might be a reference to the apostle Simon the Zealot.

(As an aside, looking up S.Z., I was reminded of that classic movie scene

James Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Auric Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die. )

(Which could lead to musings on another fictional adventurer, "The Saint", Simon Templar. But now I'm either getting too far off subject, or circling back to its origin.)

Re: Who was Cymon?

Post by Justin Budreau on Wed May 28, 2008 1:20 pm

What about Simon Peter?

Re: Who was Cymon?

Post by StephenDafoe on Wed May 28, 2008 3:51 pm

What about Simon Peter?

What about him? And don't call me Peter.

Re: Who was Cymon?

Post by VegetableMan on Mon Aug 25, 2008 10:20 am

The last reference you posted Owen refers to Simon of Syracuse, who betrayed the Templars and his head was place on the "highest spire". The others I believe refer to Cymon of Cyrene — though the term Cymonic masons is new to me. Anyways, I beleive we are discussing two Cymon/Simons.

Re: Who was Cymon?

Post by richardn on Tue Aug 26, 2008 4:55 pm

The story of Cymon and Iphigenia comes from Boccaccio's "The Decameron", a collection of 100 novellas written between 1349 and 1353.

In the story "the well-born and handsome young Galesus was renamed Cymon - meaning beast - on account of his brutishness. On a mild afternoon in May, Cymon chanced upon the sleeping Iphigenia, sensing at once that she was 'the loveliest object that any mortal being had ever seen'. Falling instantly in love, he became a lifelong devotee of beauty and philosophy" (from a web page of the Art Gallery of New South Wales).

Freemasons may well have seen the tale as an allegory for the transformative power of Freemasonry - "making good men better".

Boccaccio's story was a source of inspiration for poets, dramatists and painters for centuries and thus was probably well known to cultured and educated men of the 18th century. It was translated into English verse by John Dryden (1631-1700) "as well as later, in 1767, being turned into a dramatic romance with music by Thomas Augustine Arne - with the great actor David Garrick in the leading role. Arne had already enjoyed considerable success with a cantata for solo voice based upon the story of Cymon and Iphegenia which had been sung in public by a Mr. Lowe at Vauxhall Gardens in 1750. Earlier artists had painted the subject including Rubens, Lely, Reynolds and Benjamin West" (from a web page of Liverpool's Lady Lever Art Gallery).

The following is described as a "squashed version"of the tale, from the website 'Squashed Writers'.

"Cymon and Iphigenia: A Tale of Love

Of all the stories that have come into my mind, said Pamfilo, there is one which I am sure you will all like, for it shows how strange and wonderful is the power of love. Some time ago, there lived in the island of Cyprus a man of great rank and wealth, called Aristippus, who was very unhappy because his son Cymon, though very tall and handsome, was feeble in intellect. Finding that the most skilful teacher could not beat the least spark of knowledge into the head of his son, Aristippus made Cymon live out of his sight, among the slaves in his country-house.

There Cymon used to drudge like one of the slaves, whom, indeed, he resembled in the harshness of his voice and the uncouthness of his manners. But one day as he was tramping round the farm, with his staff upon his shoulder, he came upon a beautiful maiden sleeping in the deep grass of a meadow, with two women and a manservant slumbering at her feet. Cymon had never seen the face of a woman before, and, leaning upon his staff, he gazed in blank wonder at the lovely girl, and strange thoughts and feelings began to work within him. After watching her for a long time, he saw her eyes slowly open, and there was a sweetness about them that filled him with joy.

"Why are you looking at me like that?" she said. "Please go away. You frighten me!"

"I will not go away," he answered; "I cannot!"

And though she was afraid of him, he would not leave her until he had led her to her own house. He then went to his father and said he wanted to live like a gentleman, and not like a slave. His father was surprised to find that his voice had grown soft and musical, and his manners winning and courteous. So he dressed him in clothes suitable to his high station, and let him go to school. Four years after he had fallen in love, Cymon became the most accomplished young gentleman in Cyprus. He then went to the father of Iphigenia, for such was her name, and asked for her in marriage. But her father replied that she was already promised to Pasimondas, a young nobleman of Rhodes, and that their nuptials were about to be celebrated.

"O Iphigenia," said Cymon to himself, on hearing the unhappy news, "it is now time for me to show you how I love you! Love for you has made a man of me, and marriage with you would make me as happy and as glorious as a god! Have you I will, or else I will die!"

He at once prevailed upon some young noblemen, who were his friends, to help him in fitting out a ship of war. With this he waylaid the vessel in which Iphigenia embarked for Rhodes. Throwing a grappling iron upon this ship, Cymon drew it close to his own. Then, without waiting for anyone to second him, he jumped among his enemies, and drove them like sheep before him, till they threw down their arms.

"I have not come to plunder you," said Cymon, "but to win the noble maiden, Iphigenia, whom I love more than aught else in the world. Resign her to me, and I will do you no harm!"

Iphigenia came to him all in tears.

"Do not weep, my sweet lady," he said to her tenderly. "I am your Cymon, and my long and constant love is worth more than all Pasimondas's promises."

She smiled at him through her tears, and he led her on board his ship, and sailed away to Crete, where he and his friends had relations and acquaintances. But in the night a violent tempest arose, and blotted out all the stars of heaven, and whirled the ship about, and drove it into a little bay upon the island of Rhodes, a bow-shot from the place where the Rhodian ship had just arrived.

Before they could put out to sea again, Pasimondas came with an armed host and took Cymon a prisoner, and led him to the chief magistrate of the Rhodians for that year, Lysimachus, who sentenced him and his friends to perpetual imprisonment, on the charge of piracy and abduction.

While Cymon was languishing in prison, with no hope of ever obtaining his liberty, Pasimondas prepared for his nuptials with Iphigenia. Now Pasimondas had a younger brother called Hormisdas, who wanted to marry a beautiful lady, Cassandra, with whom the chief magistrate Lysimachus was also in love. Pasimondas thought it would save a good deal of trouble and expense if he and his brother were to marry at the same time. So he arranged that this should be done. Thereupon Lysimachus was greatly angered. After a long debate with himself, honour gave way to love, and he resolved at all hazards to carry off Cassandra.

But whom should he get as companions in this wild enterprise? He at once thought of Cymon and his friends, and he fetched them out of prison and armed them, and concealed them in his house. On the wedding-day he divided them into three parties. One went down to the shore and secured a ship; one watched at the gate of Pasimondas's house; and the third party, headed by Cymon and Lysimachus, rushed with drawn swords into the bridal chamber and killed the two bridegrooms, and bore the tearful but by no means unwilling brides to the ship, and sailed joyfully away for Crete.

There they espoused their ladies, amidst the congratulations of their relatives and friends; and though, by reason of their actions, a great quarrel ensued between the two islands of Cyprus and Rhodes, everything was at last amicably adjusted. Cymon then returned with Iphigenia to Cyprus, and Lysimachus carried Cassandra back to Rhodes, and all of them lived very happily to the end of their days."

Later additional comments: There is an analysis of this story in the book "The Italian Renaissance Imagery of Inspiration: Metaphors of Sex, Sleep, and Dreams" by Maria Ruvoldt
Cambridge University Press, 2004
ISBN 0521821606, 9780521821605
pages 99 et seq
(see Googlebook extract online)

Re: Who was Cymon?

Post by OwenKL on Fri Aug 29, 2008 3:06 am

Thank you, gentlemen, for expanding my understanding a bit more. The information on Simon of Syracuse was entirely new to me. The mythological Cymon of Cyprus I had pretty much discounted before, but now that you point out his relation to Cyprus and Rhodes, two locations also significant to Knights Templars, perhaps that also bears re-examining.

And Cymon of Cyprus sounds an awful lot like the hero of my favorite story ever, Princess Bride.

Anyway, the cast of the usual suspects is growing: Simon Zealot, Simon Peter, Simon the Cyrean, Cymon of Athens, Cymon of Cyprus, Cymon of Syracuse, Simon Templar...

Signatures were not included in the reproduction of this discussion above, but the quotation John Bridegroom used for his generated some interesting side comments.

John Bridegroom's Tagline

Post by VegetableMan

I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination called the will of god. I have seen too much religion in the eyes of murderers. Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness.

Re: Tagline

Post by rmolano on Mon Aug 25, 2008 6:38 pm

VegetableMan wrote:

I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination called the will of god.

I heard this words before. Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven? The movie portrayed Knights Templar as vicious, murderous lunatics who deserved to get their head chopped off by "righteous" adversary. I read some books about Crusade including Brother John J. Robinson's Dungeon, Fire and Swords and though Templars are not exactly angels with ax and swords, Scott's version of Templar is just what it was — Hollywood.

For relative topic. To a Brother Templar.

Re: Tagline

Post by VegetableMan on Tue Aug 26, 2008 9:49 am

Ah, yes, they did portray SOME templars that way in Kingdom of heaven, but it does not lessen the wisdom in the statement in my signature. Finding truth in a particular piece of literature does not indicate an uncompromising endorsement of the body's sentiment. The movie has a few great lines. The other, spoken by the King, is "Remember that howsoever you are played, or by whom, your soul is in your keeping alone. Even though those who presumed pray you kings or men of power, When you stand before God you cannot say "but I was told by others to do thus" or that "virtue was not convenient at the time." This will not suffice. Remember that." Shall we discount these truisms because in this drama they needed antagonists and chose not to make them all muslim? Maybe a better viewpoint, is that in any organization, there are bad seeds, and they must not be allowed to prevail. After all, the comment in my signature refers to the very characters you speak of, failed templars in this case, and as such only serve to prove the lesson spoken...

Re: Tagline

Post by rmolano on Wed Aug 27, 2008 6:31 pm

VegetableMan wrote:

... but it does not lessen the wisdom in the statement in my signature. Finding truth in a particular piece of literature does not indicate an uncompromising endorsement of the body's sentiment. ... After all, the comment in my signature refers to the very characters you speak of, failed templars in this case, and as such only serve to prove the lesson spoken...

No one implied that the statement in your signature “lessen the wisdom” or painted a picture that because the declaration was extracted literally from a recent movie, the assertion is rubbish. The lines you quoted came from unknown screenwriter(s) and not from a crusader or King of Jerusalem. Just like the great line from Brother Marion Morrison AKA John Wayne, “life is hard especially, if you’re stupid.” I am not sure which Hollywood movie it was from but it was a gospel to me delivered with strong emotion and amazing articulations by company commanders i.e. drill instructors during my boot camp days.

If my memory serves me right, the warrior-priest was talking about the excuse of why people hacks each other to pieces and not about Templars in particular. After all, there are other interested parties e.g. Hospitallers, Teutonic Knights and of course, the Saracens, Mamluks who are also slashing their way to Heaven, Nirvana, whatever. Maybe some were just to win Iphigenia or Cassandra so they could “live very happily to the end of their days” in Cyprus or Rhodes.(Boccaccio, 1349-1353).

Thanks to Brother Richard for providing the source and backgrounder.