By Drew Collins

This diagram depicts the seven ages of man on the left and the seven liberal arts on the right, culminating in the Holy Trinity at the top. The process of aging, which, ending in death, leads to the divine, is linked to education, which, if properly administered, also conduces to a more intimate knowledge of God. The seven ages are placed under the category "Nature." The liberal arts have "Philosophy" as their genus. The diagram thus imagines aspiration to truth in two separate realms, the physical and intellectual, as an essential unity.

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The Tree Of Wisdom
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Figure 1

The seven ages of man: infant, boy, adolescent, youth, man, old man, and elderly man. The captions to the right, on the branches of the tree, indicate the various moods or attitudes which correspond to the different ages.

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Figure 1

 

Figure 2

The seven liberal arts: grammar, logic, rhetoric, music, geometry, arithmetic, and astrology. The captions on the branches to the left tell of each discipline's unique role in the educational process, with special emphasis on astrology at the top of the tree, as the most divine of the arts.

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Figure 2

 

Figure 3

The tree is planted in a vase entitled "Wisdom," which is said to present, "...a lifetime in seven parts, demonstrating the arts which a prudent man ought to seek." In addition, the vase contains the words, "Thus I will; thus I decree; thus I do, by my right" which refers to the divine order underpinning both the aging process and the process of education.

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Figure 3

 

Figure 4

Both sides of the tree culminate in an empty treetop which represents the triune God, who is said to arrange, create, and provide all things.

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Figure 4