|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.