Interested in taking a few walks through Rome, from either the comfort of your armchair or in person next time you’re here?!
ItalianNotebook is proud to promote “A Walk with the Emperors” by Mott Groom, in which the Emperors are your tour guides. Get some ancient gossip from Suetonius, as well as opinions from Virgil, Horace, Cicero, Pliny, and Tacitus! Other writers chime in too, such as Dante, Goethe, Gibbon, Shakespeare, and Machiavelli!
The following is a passage from the book…
Occupying the northern summit of the Capitoline Hill is the 11th century Church of S.Maria in Aracoeli. It was originally erected in the 8th century on top of what was once the Citadel or Arx which included the Temple of Juno Moneta.
Bright goddess! The next day set you on your temple, where high Moneta lifts her slope sublime. Now Concordia, look kindly on the people of Latium, since consecrated hands have established our worship.
This was the place that Augustus consulted with the Sybil whether he should accept the deification the Senate was urging him to take.
While the Sybil prophesied, the Christian legend re-worked the Roman legend and says that Augustus saw the heavens open and the Virgin Mary appear holding the Christ child in her arms. This vision supposedly convinced Augustus not to accept the Senate’s offer of deification while he lived.
Early Church teachings combine the story of the appearance of the Virgin to Augustus with Virgil’s 4th Eclogue…
Now too returns the virgin,
Saturn’s rule returns
a new begetting now descends from heaven’s height.
O chaste Lucina, look with blessing on the boy
whose birth will end the iron race at last and raise a golden (bough) through the world.
Virgil, Eclogue IV
Whether Virgil intended that the “boy who would be born” would be the son of Antony and Octavia has been disputed for centuries. Emperor Constantine contended that the boy who would be born was Jesus Christ. Constantine actually translated Virgil’s Eclogue into Greek as part of his attempt to strengthen the Christian church.
An interesting aside? …nine hundred years after the reign of Constantine, the poet Dante too believed that Virgil had prophesied the coming of Christ. Dante thus felt that Virgil was a fitting guide to lead him through the Inferno to Paradise in the Divine Commedy…
Today’s note is just one of many similar Ancient Roman tidbits found in “A Walk With the Emperors: A Historic and Literary Tour of Ancient Rome,” available on Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes&Nobles.
Photo courtesy of Ricardo André Frantz, many thanks! (CC-SA-3.0)