Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Virgil's Georgics and the Rule of St. Benedict?

There is an interesting intersection of themes over on Sancrucensis discussing the Rule of St. Benedict and the theorized influence of the Roman writer Virgil (most famously known for The Aeneid) on it.

This might seem an obscure topic but I always find it of interest to consider the possible intersections of the classical and Christian worlds.

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Virgil and St Benedict

by sancrucensis

labor omnia uicit improbus et duris – Geor. I,145-146

In Spe Salvi, no. 15 the Holy Father notes that Christian Monasticism inherited its teaching on the nobility of work from Judaism. That may be, but St Benedict’s doctrine of manual labor is also influenced by Virgil’s Georgics. At least that is what Theodor Haecker claims in his book Virgil: Father of the West:

The First Monks of the West had St Benedict as their spiritual father, but their worldly father was Virgil. They did not scruple to bring Virgil’s Georgics with them – along with the Holy Scriptures and the Rule. They set out for the North as sons of St Benedict to clear the “forests” of wild souls and to cultivate them for the reception of the word of God, and this they did through their orare through their prayer; but they also set out as sons of Virgil to clear the forests of the wild lands and to cultivate them for the reception of grain and vine, and this they achieved through their laborare, through work ‘in the sweat of their brow’ – a biblical expression which is still the best translation for the Virgilian labor improbus. They were Benedictines according the order of grace, Virgilians according the order of nature.

Through the magic of google books I find someone has made a close comparison of the Holy Rule with the Georgics...

Read the rest of the article...

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