(Sean Adams, PhD candidate) One of the educational initiatives of CSCO currently underway is a classical texts reading group. Initiated by Dr. Helen Bond, this group is comprised of PhD students, faculty, and research fellows associated with The University of Edinburgh and meets monthly to discuss a selected text. This month’s text was Virgil’s Aeneid.
Our meeting opened with Matthew Hoskin providing a brief introduction to the person and works of Virgil, placing him within his larger literary and cultural context. Following this, came a time of discussion in which particular textual issues were discussed. First, we discussed Virgil’s relationship to and portrayal of Augustus and the Augustan age; the general purpose of the work and its intended audience. Second, the use of rural metaphors and Virgil’s vocabulary, particularly the term ‘glory’, was investigated at which time we noted some differences and similarities to comparable features in New Testament texts. Third, we evaluated the Aeneid’s open ending and its effect on modern and ancient readers. In particular, we considered the possible literary parallels between Aeneid’s open ending and that of Mark’s gospel.
Overall, the goal of this group is to provide a wide reading knowledge of Greco-Roman literature that is contemporary to New Testament texts; works that a New Testament scholar should know and be familiar with, but might not have taken the time to read. This breadth of reading will facilitate a better understanding of the social and literary world of early Christianity and allow for a more culturally sensitive reading of the New Testament and other early Christian texts.
Stay tuned next month as we discuss Lucretius’ ‘On the Nature of Things’ (De Rerum Natura).