Sunday, 17 May 2015

The Roman Tradition

The Aeneid, with which I currently struggle, is the epic of the Roman myth. As such, it explains the wars between Rome and Carthage as originating in the personal conflict between Aeneas and Dido. (Not trade rivalry but mythical founders explain everything.)

Thus, the Aeneid is variously relevant to Poul Anderson's works:

the originals of Odin and Thor escaped from Roman slavery;

the Time Patrol ensured Roman victory against Carthage, kept Germania in the Empire despite the pagan prophetess preaching the destruction of Rome and prevented a post-Roman-British-European world civilization;

the last King of Ys was a Roman centurion;

Manuel Argos based his Terran Empire on the Roman Empire.

Thus, Anderson's antecedents are considerably older than Wells, Stapledon or Heinlein.

Have I said that I detect parallels between Classical and Biblical traditions?

Homer and the poets, like Moses and the prophets, were regarded as divinely inspired authorities on theology and morality;

Greek "philo-sophia" is love of wisdom and the Hebrew Writings include Wisdom literature;

Virgil's poetry of the Augustan Age is like a pagan New Testament;

the Fourth Gospel identifies Jesus with the Word that was in the Beginning, an idea adapted from Greek philosophy, while Virgil's Aeneid has Caesar's soul in Hades waiting to be born long before the founding of Rome;

the promise to Abraham and the promise of everlasting Roman greatness are fulfilled in a single church - if you see it that way, of course! (And Anderson appropriately speculates on the future of that church.)

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