17 January 2011

The Mascall Ordinariate: only for Latinists

That most exquisitely Latin of Anglican theologians, E L Mascall, was haunted by a passage in Vergil's First Eclogue; the shepherd Tityrus says that Rome tantum alias inter caput extulit urbes/ quantum lenta solent inter viburna cupressi. His fellow Meliboeus asks Et quae tanta fuit Romam tibi causa videndi? to which he replies: Libertas ...

And now we take up our breviaries for First Vespers of the Feast of the Cathedra Petri; can there ever have been a Chair of Unity Octave like this year's? In the second nocturn, another great Latinist, S Leo, apostrophises another shepherd, S Peter, entering the City a couple of generations after Tityrus: Ad hanc ergo urbem tu, beatissime Petre Apostole, venire non metuis, et ... turbulentissimae profunditatis oceanum, constantior quam cum supra mare gradereris, ingrederis.

A stanza probably by S Paulinus II Patriarch of Aquileia, which used to be sung on the Feast of S Peter ad Vincula:

Petrus beatus catenarum laqueos
Christo iubente rupit mirabiliter:
custos ovilis et doctor Ecclesiae,
pastorque gregis, conservator ovium
arcet luporum truculentam rabiem.

1 comment:

Ed Cryer said...

Vergil later in life used to avoid Rome like the plague. He was more at home in the cultured set of Naples.

It's said that emperor Augustus restored to him his family estate near Mantua, which had been expropriated for land for settling veteran soldiers, and that the "libertas" in Eclogue 1 is that very restoration.

It's also said that he wrote the Aeneid on request from Augustus (no doubt with ample immediate funds attached), and that on his death-bed he wanted the unpublished manuscript thrown in the fire. Such was his great aversion for what he'd done in using such vast talents to establish a foundation myth for Rome.