Superstition, blind to the age-old gods,
Imposed this ritual on us, and this feast,
No… we carry out these rites,
Renewed each year, as men saved from barbaric
Dangers in the past.”
Virgil, The Aeneid
Thus speaks King Evander–ruler of the small city where Rome will later rise– when he receives Aeneas as a guest during his people’s annual festival. Religious rites of sacrifice are followed by a magnificent feast, all in honor of this people’s deliverance from a death-dealing monster that was half beast and half man. Evander wants Aeneas to understand: this is not empty-headed superstition.
Here is a remarkable expression of one pagan culture’s cult and creed. We are a people who have been saved. In these rites, we remember that we have been saved, and who has saved us. To live in such memory is to live out our identity. It is to be renewed, year in and year out.
This week Christians too seek to be renewed, by ritual and by feasting: bringing into the present saving actions from the past. To live in such memory is how we become ourselves in the present.
“This day shall be for you a memorial day,
and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord;
throughout your generations you shall observe it as an ordinance for ever.”
Virgil (70-19 B.C.) is the great Roman poet, author of The Aeneid and The Georgics. In the Divine Comedy he appears as Dante’s guide through hell and purgatory.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
“…and the association of living beings who have this sense—of good and evil—make a household…” Aristotle, Politics The fact is that many people today end up living in a house alone. Sometimes it is by choice. Other times it is surely not, and the house has echoes of...
“Might we not say that filial piety and respect for elders constitute the root of Goodness.” Confucius, The Analects The alienation between young and old is at times palpable. It’s not usually open disdain or hostility. Rather there is a real disconnect, as each group...
‘Do you wish to repay a favor? Receive it graciously.’ Seneca, De Beneficiis There is usually more than meets the eye in the wonderful realm of benefaction-- doing favors or good deeds for others. In any benefaction freely given there is the possibility of a unique...
Husband, father, and professor of Philosophy. Bacon from Acorns springs from one conviction: there is an ancient wisdom about how to live the good life in our homes, with our families; and it is worth our time to hearken to it. Let’s rediscover it together. Learn more.