16
PAGAN SCHOLARSHIP
Vergil and His Commentators

1

Arnaldo Momigliano once remarked that it was not so much pagan historians that disturbed Augustine, “who knew where to look for the real enemy,” as “the idealization of the Roman past which he found in fourth-century Latin antiquarians, poets and commentators of poets.” This, he argued, is why Augustine “went back to the sources of their antiquarianism, and primarily to Varro, in order to undermine the foundations of their work.”1 It is time to follow up, and qualify, this important insight.

Enough has already been said about the popularity of classicizing poetry at the Christian courts of Milan and Ravenna.2 It is easy to see why people like Augustine were distressed to see Christians applauding poems on Christian emperors decked out with pagan gods and goddesses, elaborately described in all their traditional dress and paraphernalia. Among the antiquarians the prime exhibits are the Saturnalia of Macrobius, largely devoted to Vergil, and the massive Vergil commentary of the grammarian Servius, partly because both have been generally assumed committed pagans, but also because of the often stated but never justified modern doctrine of Vergil as a “pagan bible,” a book “venerated, copied and expounded as a sacred text” (p. 608). A more modest illustration is the so-called Origo Gentis Romanae1 the first part in a tripartite corpus of texts covering all Roman history down to Constantius II.3 The Origo goes from Janus and Saturnus to Romulus and Remus, with the first third largely devoted to reconciling Vergil with other traditions. At 1. 6 indeed the anonymous pagan author claims to have “begun to write” a commentary on Vergil. As Christopher Smith has recently remarked, “the Origo is very close throughout to the Virgilian commentators,” and though they often disagree “they are recognizably inhabiting the same mental world.”4

That late fourth- and fifth-centurywestern culture was dominated by Vergil needs no demonstration. The writings, prose as well as verse, of all educated people,

1. Momigliano 1963, 98–99.

2. And at the eastern court in Constantinople, where the tradition lasted much longer.

3. The basic study remains Momigliano 1958, 56–73=Secondo Contributo (Rome 1960), 145–76.

4. C. J. Smith 2005, 97–136, at 101.

-567-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Last Pagans of Rome
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 878

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.