Monday, October 4, 2010

Virgil's "Prophecy"

I found the reference in class today of Virgil’s “prophecy of Christ” very interesting and decided to research the topic further. As we discussed in class, Virgil did not foresee the birth of Christ, but rather referred to the birth of a redeeming king. The association between Virgil’s quotation from his Fourth Eclogue most likely became associated with Christ’s birth as intellectuals from the medieval period tried to make the non-Christian Virgil seem “pro-Christian.” However, in reality, the quotation just serves as an extremely ironic coincidence.
Below is the actual quotation from the Fourth Eclogue:
“Now comes the last age by the song of the Cumaen sybil; the great order of the ages is born anew; now the Virgin returns, now the reign of Saturn comes again; now a new child is sent down from heaven above.”


Julia Dean said...

Here are some notes concerning Vergil's 4th Eclogue and fame that I found from our Latin class last year:
- Sortes Vergilianae- Aeneid opened at random, first line which the eyes fell was taken as an omen of good or evil
- Vergil of History transformed into Vergil of magic- seen as pagan prophet who foretold birth of Christ and a great magician
- 4th Eclogue/Messianic Epilogue- about birth of child will usher people into a Golden Age
- Vergilius changed to Virgilius to refer to virga which is a prophetic wand
- Was called the Poet, the Roman, the Perfect in Style, the Philosopher, the Wise one

chrissy said...

I think this so called "prophecy" was a big reason why Dante chose Virgil as a leader. Since his leader had to be in Hell, Virgil would be the most acceptable guide Dante could chose for the masses to appreciate. Most people would be able to relate Dante's praise for Virgil through his prophecy of Christ.

Chloe said...

I also think Virgil's Prophecy is interesting because of its association with Christ-like references. In my opinion, almost anything produced in literature can be linked to a Christian reference. Although Virgil was a visionary for his time, I do agree that it was just a mere coincidence.

Olivia Celata said...

Personally, I can see how Christians might interpret Virgil's so-called prophecy to be about Christ's birth, especially since he mentioned a Virgin plus a child from heaven. Some Christians were so convinced that this was so that they considered Virgil a sorcerer because of it. However, now knowing that Virgil had a sense of loyalty to Rome but not to God, one can see how this prophesy could relate to Augustus’s son's birth. Virgil believed that literature could be a good source of history. He even tried to establish Italian heritage in his own works.