Early Church Fathers
96 [It can scarcely be necessary to observe that the acrostic, the general sense of which has been aimed at in the above translation must be regarded as the pious fiction of some writer, whose object was to recommend the truth of Christianity to heathens by an appeal to the authority of an (alleged) ancient heathen prophecy.-Bag.] The quotation is found in the edition of Alexandre, Bk. VIII. ch. 219-250. (Cf. translation in Augustin, De civ. Dei.) The translation of Bag., giving the "general sense" and reproducing the acrostic, stands unchanged. The translation of 1709, much more vigorous and suggestive of the "Dies Irae," is as follows:
"When the Great Day of Judgment shall appear,
The melting Earth shall then dissolve with fear;
A King Immortal shall from Heav'n descend,
At whose Tribunal the whole world attend.
Both Just and Wicked shall, when Time grows old,
Their mighty God in flesh array'd behold;
Armies of Saints on His Right hand shall come,
Whilst Humane Souls expect their final doom.
Th' Universe shall be a dry, Barren Strand,
And Thorns shall flourish on the scorched land;
Men shall with indignation cast away
Their Wealth and Idols in that dreadful day.
The parching Earth, and Heaven in flames shall fry,
And searching fire drain the Ocean dry:
All flesh which in the Grave imprison'd lay,
Shake off their Fetters, and return to Day.
Fire 'twixt Good and Bad shall diff'rence make,
And filthy Dross from purer Metal take.
Man's secret Deeds shall all be open lay'd,
And th' obscure Mazes of their Hearts displayed;
Gnashing their Teeth, they shall their Fate bewail:
The stars harmonious daunce, and th' Sun shall fail.
The Orbs roll'd up, shrink into darkest night,
The Labouring Moon shall lose her borrowed light.
Mountains with Plains on the same Level lye;
Vallies shall gape no more, nor Hills be high.
On the proud Billows Ships shall ride no more:
And Lightning the Earth's Face shall shrivel sore.
The crackling Rivers with fierce Fire shall burn,
Which shall their streams to solid Crystal turn.
The Heav'nly Trump shall blow a doleful sound,
And th' world's destruction, and its sin resound.
The yawning Earth Hell's vast Abyss shall shew;
All Kings before God's just Tribunal go.
Then Liquid Sulphur from the Sky shall stream,
God shall pour down Rivers of vengeful flame;
All men shall then the Glorious Cross descry,
That wished-for sign unto a faithful eye:
The Life of pious Souls, their chief delight;
To Sinners an Offence, a dismal sight!
Enlightening the called with its beams,
When cleansed from sin in twice six limpid streams.
His Empire shall be boundless, and that God
Shall Rule the Wicked with an Iron Rod;
This God, Immortal King, describ'd in Verse,
Our Saviour, dying, shall man's doom Reverse."
97 "Our men," i.e. Christians rather than "countrymen."
98 [The passage in Cicero (De Divinatione, Bk. II. ch. 54) clearly does not refer to this acrostic, and contains in itself a plain denial of prophetic truth in the Sibylline prediction (whatever it was) which the writer had in view. "Non esse autem illud carmen furentis, cum ipsum poema declaret (est enim magis artis et diligentiae, quam incitationis et motus), tum verò ca, quae akrostixij dicitur, cum deinceps ex primis versuum litteris aliquid connectitur, ut in quibusdam Cumanis, id certe magis est attenti animi, quam furentis," &c.-Bag.]
99 This and following quotations are found in the fourth eclogue of Virgil-the Pollio. The version of Bag. is allowed to stand. If farther variety of rendering and interpretation is desired, it can be found in charming profusion in the various English translations of Virgil of which the few at hand give ample promise. Those at hand are Ogilby, Lond., 1675, p. 41-49; Warton, Lond., 1763, p. 76-82; Trapp, Lond., 1755, p. 37-46; Kennedy, Lond., 1849, p. 25-29; Wilstach, Bost., 1884, p. 154-161; Bowen, Lond., 1887, p. 24-28. Compare Henley, Observations on the Subject of the Fourth Eclogue, etc., Lond., 1788. 8vo.
100 Here is variety indeed. 1711 renders, "Last times are come Cumaea's prophecy,"-whatever that may mean. Molz. has "Now the voice of the famed oracle of Cumae is dumb."
101 Constantine takes large liberty with the poet here in order to make him say what he would like to have had him say. The latest translation at hand (Bowen) renders:
"Now is the world's grand cycle begun once more from of old;
Justice the Virgin comes, and the Saturn Kingdom again."
102 "The blessed and salutary mystery of our Saviour."-1709. "Mystery of salvation."-Molz.
103 [Amomum.-Bag.] "Assyrian cinnamon," Kennedy, p. 28; "the cardamon's spice shall grow, That from Assyria's gardens," Wilstach, 1, p. 157; "Syrian spices," Trapp, 1, p. 92; "Assyria's rich perfume," Warton, 1, p. 78; "Assyrian roses," Ogilby, p. 42.
104 [i.e. the Christians.-Bag.]
106 "Might not experience," according to some, including Heinichen, who rejects in first, but accepts in text of his second edition.
107 [Referring, apparently, to Abraham. This passage is founded on a misconstruction of Virgil's line by Constantine. which is followed by the Greek verse itself according to one edition.-Bag.]
108 [By a kind of play on the word amomum, he alludes to the Christians as amwmoi, or blameless persons.-Bag.]
109 "The fields shall mellow wax with golden grain."
110 Bag. adds:
"And through the matted grass the liquid gold shall creep."
"And th' hardened oaks with dewy honey sweat."
While Molz. has
"Forth from the hard oak stems the lovely honey flows."
These all approach Virgil closer than they do Constantine. With all allowance for poetic license, "pine" should hardly be translated "oak."
111 Literally, "times and wars."-1709.
112 This, bad as it is, is hardly worse than the subjective interpretation of scripture modern allegorizers, and certainly no worse than some of the Scripture interpretations of Eusebius.