Saturday, November 27, 2010

most bizarre sentence in a "scholarly" book, episode 237

From K. W. Gransden's Virgil: The Aeneid (Landmarks of Western Literature) (Cambridge UP, 1990).

We all know about Eclogue 4, right? You remember, the one which addresses the Consul Pollio, prophesying the birth of a man child who will bring back the golden age associated with Saturn? The one Virgil wrote in 40 BCE, and in which no-one has any real idea what he's talking about? The one that got taken up by Christian commentators as a prophecy of Christ's birth, & had a great deal to do with Virgil's being enshrined as a "Christian poet" avant la lettre?

Gransden writes, gravely: "It must be emphasized that there is no evidence, and little likelihood, that Virgil was referring in this poem to Christ."

The mind boggles. What precisely would constitute "evidence" that Virgil, writing in 40 BCE, was "referring to" Christ (born ca. 7-3 BCE)? What would make it more or less "likely"?

2 comments:

mongibeddu said...

That's a keeper.

Amy Letter said...

Prophesy moves the wrong way in time, so anything it refers to would not exist yet, yes? By the "logic" of the magical thinking that believes in prophesy in the first place, it makes sense.