Study Guide

A Canticle for Leibowitz Chapter 12

By Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Chapter 12

  • Marcus Apollo knows war is coming because a courier came back alive from Mad Bear's nomadic camp. Only a courier bringing Mad Bear a treaty to go to war could have pulled off such a feat.
  • Nope, we don't know who these people are either. Just roll with it, okay?
  • Apollo moves his way through the crowd to the punch bowl.
  • Noticing a dead roach amongst the spices, he graciously offers Brother Claret the first glass before sharing the news of the courier.
  • They are interrupted by Thon Taddeo, who wants to discuss the Memorabilia with Apollo.
  • Taddeo wants to see if the documents are authentic. If they are, the knowledge will be invaluable. If not, then someone needs to say so. Right? Right.
  • Apollo tells the scholar to just go and see, but Taddeo wants them brought to the collegium.
  • The short answer: no. The longer answer: absolutely no way, no how, not a chance, not going to happen, no.
  • Apollo does agree to talk the matter over later in his office, however.
  • When Taddeo leaves, Apollo tells Claret he's being sent to New Rome to present Apollo's estimate of Mayor-royal Hannegan's upcoming war.
  • Apollo must use Claret to deliver the report orally because a written correspondence is way too incriminating.
  • Never leave a paper trail, Shmoopers.
  • Next scene: Taddeo arrives at Apollo's study in the evening.
  • He informs Apollo that his work centers on physics, and that a letter from a Brother Kornhoer mentioned Laplace, Maxwell, and Einstein. Yeah, we said it: Einstein.
  • If the abbey really does have their work on file, Taddeo simply must be allowed to see it. (And make certain it's authentic.)
  • Apollo wants to know why, and Taddeo takes him to the window. He points out a man with syphilis walking a donkey through the mud.
  • This sounds like the start of a bad joke, we know. But Taddeo needs to understand how Mr. Donkey Man's forefathers created machines that flew, and harnessed the power of Nature.
  • Apollo asks what he can do.
  • Taddeo requests for him to write to the abbot of Leibowitz Abbey with assurances that the documents will be treated with the utmost of care.
  • The novice deduces that the documents need to come to Taddeo because Taddeo's colleagues will argue he's been fooled otherwise. He's got to show other people the goods.
  • Apollo really isn't too stoked to get involved in this whole mess, since he's pretty saintly and hates deception of any kind, no matter how nuanced or mild.
  • He agrees to send the letter, but only if he can frame it as Taddeo's request, not his own.
  • When Taddeo leaves, Apollo tells Claret he'll be delivering a letter to Leibowitz Abbey after delivering word to New Rome.
  • Claret is then to hurry back so Apollo can give Taddeo what he's sure will be bad news. For Tadeeo, that is. As in: no way, no how, dude. You can't move our special Memorabilia.