About Me

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I am a medievalist and an adjunct college instructor in the humanities at Union College. My research includes medieval theologies of history, text/image relationships in visionary and mystical texts, and the writings of the twelfth-century Doctor of the Church, St. Hildegard of Bingen. I am also a translator of medieval Latin and German texts, especially as relate to my research. My translation of Hildegard's Book of Divine Works is available from Catholic University of America Press here. I completed a Master's in Medieval Studies at the University of Notre Dame in 2010, a Fulbright Fellowship in Germany in 2008, and a B.A. in Classics and German at Boston College in 2007.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Vergil’s Messiah: The Pedagogical Use of Medieval Interpretations of Classical Texts

Vergil and the Sybil receive
a vision of the Nativity of Christ.
From a 14th-cen. chronicle.

This week in the Humanities survey I am teaching this semester, we examined the imperial ideologies developed around Octavian (Augustus) in the last decades before the birth of Christ (or dawn of the Common Era).  I had my freshmen read selections from Books VI and VIII of Vergil’s Aeneid and, more important, Vergil’s Fourth Eclogue.  Written about the year 40 B.C. in the wake of Octavian and Antony’s victory over Caesar’s assassins at Philippi, but before the two Triumvirs descended once more into civil war, the poem expresses Vergil’s hopes for a coming age of restored peace to the Roman world.  As we read through the poem in class, I encouraged the students to think about what the text’s prophetic words might remind them of; and after a few ponderous minutes, one student in each section managed to mutter some form of the name of Christ.