30 December 2021

Ovidius in Luca ludit ... for classicists only

I suggest that the writer of the Corpus Lucanum in the New Testament was at least familiar with the Metamorphoses. Yes; you're right; I have in mind Luke 2:7sqq, and the pericope at Acts 14: 8-18. Surely, if one met these passages in profane literature of the same period, one would cheerfully analyse them as witty, even frivolous, expressions or inversions of the topos of the Theoxeny of the Unrecognised Gods, as at Metamorphoses VIII: 611-724 (there are, of course, famous Callimachean exemplaria ... Hecale ... Molorchus ... Hollis remarks that "between them, the two stories clearly set a vogue in Hellenistic poetry"; he points out that elements in such accounts go back to the visit of Odysseus to the hut of Eumaeus). 

An inversion and a frivolity almost worthy of Naso himself, you would tell me.

Indeed so. I would agree with you. I generally do. But I want to pitch the hypothesis a tadge more broadly.

Perhaps the theme most central to the Metamorphoses is the stylistic metamorphoses within the work itself*, as it swings gaily from genre to genre pastiching wildly as it goes ... Homer and Ennius and Accius and Vergil and Theocritus and the 'neoterics' and the elegists and Euripides and Lucretius and Callimachus ... you never know where you are; or, if you do, you enjoy every moment of it.

Surely, the writer who composed the first two chapters of the Ad Theophilum I in such a convincing Septuagintal pastiche could, if he had wished, have claimed elegiacally if naughtily Naso magister erat.

But S Luke has pressed his lusus into the service of God, rather than drawing his gods into the service of his lusus.

He has bequeathed a very jolly Christmass prezzy for us all! 

Finally: would it be wildly excessive ... is it totally mad ... to ascribe to a wise and whimsical Providence the notion that the enthusiasm in Greek and Latin Literature for Allusion, Imitatio cum variatione and Intertextuality provided a fertile cultural praeparatio for the 'Typological' approach to Holy Scripture?

I go for it!! Even poor Milton might have agreed!

*Surely we must, with Tarrant's OCT, emend the mss reading of the last word  of  Metamorphoses I:2.


dunstan said...

I don't wish to spoil Fr H's lusus but I would question whether it really is St Luke's. I make two points regarding the texts to which Fr H refers in support of his thesis that Ovid was St Luke's magister:
1. The story of Paul and Barnabas being mistaken for gods surely does not reflect the Lucan view of the world. He is rather reporting the perceptions of the citizens of Lystra. He is writing as a historian whose subject matter includes perceived realities as well as the historical realities themselves. When the Lystrans exclaimed "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men", they may well have been influenced by Ovid's tall stories but Luke obviously does not share their perspective.
2. I assume that Fr H does not hold that Luke is playing with the pagan topos of divine births, but once again the invocation of Ovid points the reader of the gospel towards a hermeneutic of myth and away from historical interpretation.
I am not a classicist but used to teach history so I have my own bias but I herewith claim Luke for my subject! My copy of the Clarendon Bible Commentary by GHP Thompson and inscribed 'Danny Mendoza', one of Fr H's former Theology students at Lancing, has an illuminating essay on how Luke-Acts meets the criteria for good history writing as laid out by Lucian in his How to Write History. But for me, Luke 1.1-3 clinches the matter. He informs Theophilus that his intention is to write 'an orderly account... that you may know the truth of the things of which you have been informed.' Is it possible that he could have thought of Ovid, the playful master of the literary tropes mentioned by Fr H, as his literary model?
Fr Simon Heans

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

I was supervised by a Professor Tarrant, an excellent Aristotelian (and Platonic) philosopher. I wonder who your T. is??


Paul Hellyer said...

There you go again Hunwicke showing off your intellectual prowess after only yesterday speaking of the Mother of God like a first year medical student.
Why don't you imitate the Curé of Ars and lead people to God?

Colin Spinks said...

Dear Father, a propos the rather rude and ignorant remarks of the contributor above: "you know you've got them on the run when they start criticising your "educayshun"" Mr Hellyer: As a long term reader of this blog, I have occasionally found myself at odds with Fr Hunwicke's particular views, but he consistently fulfils the brief of "Mutual Enrichment" by drawing on his experiences as a Priest in both the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches and as a Classical Scholar. If you don't find his analysis of Luke's Gospel seen through the perspective of contemporary Roman and Greek poetry helpful or illuminating, or find yourself blushing like a maiden aunt at his occasional indelicacies, may I suggest you look elsewhere for your edification?

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Paul Hellyer, how is Fr H NOT leading people to God??


Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Look, since Our Lady had a womb, she had fallopian tubes. Are the latter worse than tbe former?


Frugifex said...

Dear Father,I hope this is not too long. Taken from S. Jerome's ep. 21 Ad Damasum:

Daemonum cibus est carmina Poetarum, saecularis sapientia, rhetoricorum pompa verborum. Haec sua omnes suavitate delectant: et dum aures versibus dulci modulatione currentibus capiunt, animam quoque penetrant, et pectoris interna devinciunt. Verum ubi cum summo studio fuerint ac labore perlecta, nihil aliud, nisi inanem sonum, et sermonum strepitum suis lectoribus tribuunt: Nulla ibi saturitas veritatis, nulla refectio justitiae reperitur. Studiosi earum in fame veri, et virtutum penuria perseverant. Hujus sapientiae typus, et in Deuteronomio sub mulieris captivae figura describitur: de qua divina vox praecipit, ut si Israelites eam habere voluerit uxorem, calvitium ei faciat, ungues praesecet, et pilos auferat: et cum munda fuerit effecta, tunc transeat in victoris amplexus. Haec si secundum litteram intelligimus, nonne ridicula sunt? Itaque et nos facere solemus, quando philosophos legimus, quando in manus nostras libri veniunt sapientiae saecularis, si quid in eis utile reperimus, ad nostrum dogma convertimus: si quid vero superfluum, de idolis, de amore, de cura saecularium rerum, haec radimus, his calvitium inducimus, haec in unguium morem ferro acutissimo desecamus. Unde et Apostolus prohibet, ne in idolio quis recumbat, dicens: "Videte autem, ne haec licentia vestra offendiculum fiat infirmis. Si enim quis viderit eum, qui habet scientiam, in idolio recumbentem, nonne conscientia ejus cum sit infirma, aedificabitur ad manducandum idolothyta, et peribit qui infirmus est in tua scientia frater, propter quem Christus mortuus est" (I. Cor. 8. 9)? Nonne tibi videtur sub aliis verbis dicere, ne legas philosophos, oratores, poetas; nec in eorum lectione requiescas? Nec nobis blandiamur, si in eis, quae sunt scripta, non credimus, cum aliorum conscientia vulneretur, et putemur probare, quae dum legimus, non reprobamus. Alioqui quale erit, ut existimemus Apostolum ejus, qui vescebatur in idolio, conscientiam comprobasse, et eum dixisse perfectum, quem sciret de idolothytis manducare? Absit, ut de ore Christiano sonet, "Jupiter omnipotens; et me Hercule, et me Castor," et caetera magis portenta, quam numina. At nunc etiam sacerdotes Dei, omissis Evangeliis et Prophetis, videmus comoedias legere, amatoria Bucolicorum versuum verba canere, tenere Virgilium: et id quod in pueris necessitatis est, crimen in se facere voluptatis. Cavendum igitur, si captivam velimus habere uxorem, ne in idolio recumbamus; aut si certe fuerimus ejus amore decepti, mundemus eam, et omni sordium errore purgemus, ne scandalum patiatur frater, pro quo Christus mortuus est, cum in ore Christiani carmina in idolorum laudem composita audierit personare.