Aeneid as foundation myth
Virgil or Vergil (Publius Vergilius Maro), 70-19 B.C., official poet of the Roman Empire, was born near Mantua (Italy) and was resident in Rome from 41 B.C. Early life on his father's farm influenced his first poems, the Eclogues (37 B.C.) which idealized rural life in the style of the Alexandrian poet Theocritus. Virgil then turned to realistic and didactic rural poetry in the Georgics (30 B.C.), modeled on Hesiod's Works and Days. After Augustus came to power, Virgil spend the rest of his days working for Augustus' court and its famous patron of literature, Mycenas. His sole project during those years seems to have been the Aeneid, an unfinished imitation of Homer in dactylic hexameters. Its main character Aeneas is a model of Roman piety, the determination to overcome personal hardship and loss in order to help Jupiter sustain the Roman Empire.
The Aeneid is a cult foundation myth created for the newly created Roman Empire. Augustus destroyed the remains of the Hellenistic world by defeating Marc Antony and Cleopatra at Actium in 31 BCE, and in Homeric fashion he promptly took on the attributes of his victims. He requested Virgil to produce cult scripture that would glorify and yet supersede Alexandrian Homer. Virgil worked away at this job from about 30 BC until his death in 19 BC. In its promotion of Rome and Caesar, the Aeneid resembles literature supporting not only Ptolemy's Hellenistic necropolis at Alexandria, but Plato's Academy at Athens, Muhammad's pilgrimage shrine at Mecca, Ezra's temple at Jerusalem, Hesiod's shrine of the Muses on Helicon, and the Enuma Elish's great ziggurat at Babylon.
Virgil's Aeneas is the prophet who gradually discovers that this future empire will happen (Aeneid books 1-6) and who obediently fights and marries to serve Jupiter in bringing the divine plan to fruition (books 7-12). Aeneas foresees Rome clearly when he descends into the underworld with the prophetess sibyl (in famous book 6), but he also glimpses it earlier, even at Troy, because of cryptic revelations made to him by his goddess mother, Venus. (Compare Achilles' foreknowledge of the future through tips from his goddess mother Thetis.)
Left: Bernini's Aeneas and Anchises: the old man carries the gods of Troy, Aeneas carries him, and behind comes Iulus, the namesake and supposed ancestor of Julius Caesar. They are simultaneously fleeing the doomed Troy and founding the Eternal City, Rome. Their perception of the moment as tragic is not entirely true since they are on their way to fame and honor.
Michelangelo's Cumean Sibyl based in part of Virgil's from Aeneid 6.
Homer's Aeneas is "pious" in offering sacrifices that are pleasing, and so the gods protect him from the rage of merciless Achilles. Virgil's Aeneas is pious, too, but this piety means learning and obeying Jupiter's plan for human events. This Aeneas would like to die like Achilles in the contagious anger at Troy, but instead he follows the advice of his mother Venus (the Roman makeover of Aphrodite) to flee the burning city and to find a new home. (Contrast the advice of Achilles' goddess-mom, Thetis). Venus guides her son to love, and for a time he stays with doting Queen Dido at Carthage, like Odysseus with Calypso. Aeneas would like to stay longer with Dido, but soon he is called away on business by Mercury (Roman Hermes, the messenger god). Duty summons him to Latium, in Italy, to fight for a wife among the Latin people. That's where he is destined to settle so that Augustus later can rise to power over the whole world. (And so that Virgil can write about it!)
Virgil's poem is not only unfinished but unresolved. The two sides of the Aeneid, the Augustan propaganda and the disturbing portrait of disorientation, coexist uncomfortably together. (Or is this difficulty only in Dr. G's mind? What do you think of the Aeneid?)
Even you can be an Augustan. There's a lot of great literature to read that conveys a full sense of the Roman imagination in the time of the first emperor.
Bust of Virgil with scene of Carthage.
Virgil was a highly talented Alexandrian-style court poet who had the peculiar fortune to work at Rome, rather than Alexandria. He imitated Greek literature in Latin. He understood how the quasi-Homeric story of Alexander the Great had served Ptolemy's political purposes in Alexandria and the Hellenistic kingdom of Egypt. The Aeneid was his attempt to produce a similar authenticating fable for Augustan Rome.
One of the bigger ironies in this enterprise was that Augustus had founded the Roman Empire only by destroying the Ptolemaic one. Augustus had became sole master of the Mediterranean through a succession of successful military campaigns culminating in his decisive victory over Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium in 31 BC. The suicidal Dido in the Aeneid is in part an allusion to Cleopatra, last of the Alexandrian Ptolemies and last of the Pharaohs. The Aeneas who forgets his Roman mission by dallying with this hot African queen is an allusion to Antony, always portrayed in Augustan propaganda as the Roman who had forgotten his duties to Rome, to Rome's gods, and to his virtuous Roman wife (as fate would have it, Augustus' own sister, Octavia!).
Of course, Virgil's Carthage also stands for Carthage, the once-formidable enemy of Rome. Carthage had tried to check Rome's expansionism, long before Virgil's time, in the Punic Wars of the 200's BC, wars that Rome very nearly lost. But at the end of the Second Punic War, the victory of Scipio Africanus the Elder over Hannibal at the battle of Zama (202 BC) put an end to the power of Carthage and allowed Rome to emerge as the sole superpower in the western Mediterranean. In the Aeneid Dido's hopeless love for Aeneas and her suicide reflect old Roman biases about the Punic Wars: that Carthage had self-destructed in its futile effort to stand in the way of Rome's divine destiny. Here is fiction covering aggression as ruthlessly as in the age of the Zeus-men.
This "self-destruction" was completed in the Third Punic War, 46 years after Zama. The Roman commander in charge of razing Carthage to the ground and enslaving all of its surviving people happened to be the grandson of the victor at Zama. Although he obeyed the Senate's orders to destroy Carthage, Scipio Africanus the Younger was disturbed deeply by it, and he feared for the future of Rome. Well versed in Greek literature, he saw the fall of Carthage in Homeric terms. The destruction of the city was a repetition of the fall of Troy and also a preview of the future fall of Rome.
But Virgil's view of Rome is not Younger Scipio's dark Homeric view or Augustine's equally fatalistic Christian view in which Rome is the earthly, temporal, transitory city in contrast to the real eternal City of God. Virgil's Rome is an inspired Eternal City, not another Troy or Jerusalem. Virgil's art is propaganda, of course, but arguably it helped to stabilize the city which, prior to Augustus, had been plagued by decades of ruinous civil wars between competing warlords. The Aeneid stirred patriotism among people who needed to regroup--at least this is Dante's view of the matter, in his treatise on the benefits of Augustus' empire, On Monarchy.
It's Carthage that Virgil associates with Troy--through Aeneas' story of the fall of Troy, told to Dido at Carthage. This story parallels Demodocus' recital of the fall of Troy in the Phaeacian dining room in the Odyssey, the story that draws tears from Odysseus and sympathy from King Alkinoos "good mind," who provides the sleeper ship and treasure that Odysseus takes home.
In Virgil, the painful memory of the fall of Troy doesn't help. It doesn't produce transportation, gifts, sympathy, humility or anything that Aeneas needs to continue his journey. It wins the admiration and love of Dido, but she's an obstacle to his destiny. She wants him to live in the past. Her palace is full of artwork depicting the Trojan War, and she asks Aeneas to recite the story to her over and over again with a lengthy banquet each night. This exercise only prolongs his unhappy memories, so that he sinks into self-pity and cannot find his sense of purpose or futurity.
Carthage appears to Aeneas as a place of the dead. Like a ghost, he first enters the city wrapped in a goddess' mysterious protective cloud that makes him invisible. He and his fellow Trojans are all amazed to meet one another in the city because each one of them thinks that his comrades have been drowned in Juno's (Hera's) tempest at sea. Virgil's descriptions of these events suggest that Carthage is where souls congregate after death, and that goddess-protected Aeneas is as dead as Odysseus. Indeed, Aeneas' adventure in Carthage with Dido parallels Odysseus' stay in Ogygia with Calypso, whose name means "buried" and whose only desire is to have Odysseus lie in bed with her. The deathbed image in the Odyssey is a parody of heaven, a heaven that Odysseus prefers to leave on the first available boat (if only there were boats!).
But unlike Odysseus, who is dead without knowing it, Aeneas and his companions aren't dead. They only feel as if they are dead. The old Trojan self within Aeneas dies and a new proto-Roman self slowly is born. This experience of loss and gradual re-orientation to a changed world is portrayed by Virgil with astute psychological accuracy.
Aeneas' malady is referred to these days as "survivor syndrome." The grieving survivor asks: "Why do I live when others died?" Because we are social animals, following a catastrophe a survivor's first impulse often is to continue in the company of those who have died. (Compare suicidal Achilles after the death of Patroklos.) It takes time for the survivor to accept the fact that the past is gone and is never coming back. It takes more time to imagine a future that will be different from the happy past and yet somehow worthwhile.
Aeneas makes peace with the spirits by a process of understanding why he survived the Trojan War. Because he was spared, he eventually infers that there must be something left for him to do in life. To figure out what it is, he calls on his gods, and after a great deal of futile calling they finally answer him.
Things aren't as bad as they seem for Aeneas. He's not being punished for crimes by Jupiter (= Zeus), as Homer's Odysseus is punished. Like Heracles, he's pursued only by Juno (= Hera) who can make life difficult for him but who cannot alter fate or destiny because she's not in charge in that department. In this bullying role, she is comparable to the frightening but powerless devils in Christianity and other monotheisms. Aeneas needs to cease his anguish over Troy in order to find strength, courage and peace to go forward with purpose. He needs to recognize that he is indeed fortunate, although the fortune he receives is not the fortune that he expected or sought.
Rome lost battle after battle to Carthage and yet she won the Punic Wars. Whole legions were annihilated by Hannibal, but the Romans always fielded new legions in their place. (At least this is the history that Romans tell.) This unbroken determination of the Roman spirit is what Virgil celebrates in Aeneas, the gritty survivor, and this public idealism is what sets the Aeneid completely apart from the Homeric Songs on one hand and Dante's Commedia on the other.
Scipio the Elder was rewarded for victory at Zama by being banished for life by envious political enemies in the Roman Senate. He died in exile, perhaps murdered (the same fate as Hannibal), a precedent for Dante's unhappy banishment. Ancient and medieval republics often punished their most successful leaders
Image left: figurine of Aeneas carrying his father Anchises from Troy. This is a 5th century BC artifact from the (pre-Roman) Etruscan culture in what is now Tuscany, a region that includes Dante's Florence.
The thematic relationship between the Iliad and the Odyssey is a relationship between life and death, or sacrificer and victim: killer Achilles journeys toward death but dead Odysseus returns from it. Virgil picks up on Homer's death and rebirth theme, as Aeneas buries the Trojan in himself and is reborn as a Roman. This transformation is portrayed as a spiritual conversion of Aeneas by Jupiter.
Virgil reads to Augustus and family. Julia passes out. from a painting in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
1. Ruling the World: Consider the claim of any person or group that God wants a certain leader or a certain people to rule the world. How do those who believe in this claim say that they know it is true?
2. Aeneas : how do you read this character?
3. Virgil and Homer: compare and contrast the two stories of the fall of Troy, the one told by the bard Demodocus in the Odyssey [Lesson 5]and the other told by Aeneas in books 2 of the Aeneid.
4. Rome and the United States: both underwent "apprenticeships" in liberty under the early rule of kings, both established liberty through violent revolutions, both were founded by immigrants, both were expansionistic. Yes? no? Is there a lesson in Rome for the US? Is the lesson that Dante learned about Rome relevant today?
Consider the idea of "manifest destiny" (the God-given right and duty of expansionism) in early American culture, as reflected for instance in Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass (1855-1892). Consider George II Bush's policies with respect to universal democracy, globalization, conflict in the Near East and "religious values." Are these Roman holdovers?
Aeneid intro reading (opening lines in Latin):
Aeneid book 4 reading (Latin): http://wiredforbooks.org/aeneid/
translation (English) of the Aeneid:
Aeneid notes: http://www.wsu.edu/~delahoyd/virgil.html
in the underworld story in art:
Dido story in art: http://cti.itc.virginia.edu/~mpm8b/dido/dido.html
Fall of Troy story in art: http://cti.itc.virginia.edu/~mpm8b/fall_of_troy/falltroy.htm
6. What is the meaning of "Rome"? from Oxford English Dictionary
Pronunciation: Brit. /rəʊm/, U.S. /roʊm/
Forms: OE Roma rare, OEME Rom, lOE Rome, ME17 Roome, 15 Room, 17 Rhoome; Sc. pre-17 Rom, pre-17 Romme, pre-17 Rowme, pre-17 Roym, pre-17 Rum, pre-17 Rwme, pre-17 17 Rome, 18 Roome, 19 Room.
Etymology: < classical Latin Rōma, name of the city of Rome, also people of Rome, eponymous goddess of Rome, in post-classical Latin also as the name of Constantinople (5th cent. in Roma nova new Rome, 6th cent. in Roma novella new Rome). In Middle English perhaps reinforced by Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French Rome (c1100, also Romme; French Rome; < classical Latin Rōma). Compare ancient Greek Ῥώμη, name of Rome, in Byzantine Greek also as the name of Constantinople (in ἡ νέα Ῥώμη new Rome, Βυζαντιάς Ῥώμη Byzantine Rome, ἑκατέρα Ῥώμη the other Rome); corresponding forms of the name of the city are also attested in other European languages (also in similar transferred uses), e.g. Italian Roma (12th cent.), Spanish Roma (11th cent.), Middle Dutch Rōme (Dutch Rome), Old High German Rōma, Rūma (Middle High German Rōme, German Rom).
Rome occurs as a place name in English contexts from Old English onwards, in Old English as Rōm (and also occasionally in unassimilated form Rōma), in Middle English as Rom, Rome, Room, Roome, Rombe, in early modern English as Rome, Room, Roome. For examples of the place name in Old English, Middle English, and early modern English compare:
eOE Metres of Boethius (transcript of damaged MS) (2009) i. 19 Ša węs Romana rice gewunnen, abrocen burga cyst; beadurincum węs Rom gerymed.
OE Blickling Homilies 191 Ic wille gangan to Rome.
lOE King Ęlfred tr. Boethius De Consol. Philos. (Bodl.) (2009) I. xxvii. 298 Se Catulus węs heretoga on Rome, swiše gesceadwis man.
?c1200 Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 9165 Sannt iohan. Bigann off crist to spellenn‥O žatt kaseress time. Žatt wass i rome kaserr king Tiberiuss ȝehatenn.
c1275 (1200) Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) 5986 Brennes walde Rome fulle fiftene ȝere.
c1275 (1216) Owl & Nightingale (Calig.) 1016 Žeȝ eni god man to hom come, So wile dude sum from rome, For hom to lere gode žewes‥He miȝte bet sitte stille.
?a1300 Maximian (Digby) l. 238 in C. Brown Eng. Lyrics 13th Cent. (1932) 99 As i rod žoru-out rome, Richest alre home‥Maidenes‥Comen for me biholde.
c1325 in G. L. Brook Harley Lyrics (1968) 38 Me were leuere kepe hire come žen beon pope ant ryde in Rome.
?c1400 (1380) Chaucer tr. Boethius De Consol. Philos. (BL Add. 10340) (1868) i. pr. iv. l. 441 Now I am remewed fro že Citee of rome almost fyue-hundrež žousand pas.
c1480 (1400) St. Paul 161 in W. M. Metcalfe Legends Saints Sc. Dial. (1896) I. 33 The folk of Rowme.
1490 Caxton tr. Eneydos lxv. 166 The historyes of the romayns, and of theym that founded roome.
1542 N. Udall tr. Erasmus Apophthegmes ii. f. 310 a, Lucius Cornelius Sylla ye father had proscribed no small noumbre of ye citezens of Roome.
1561 T. Hoby tr. B. Castiglione Courtyer ii. sig. Y.i, The Rota in Roome is suche another matter as the Court of the Arches in England.
1605 A. Munday tr. G. Affinati Dumbe Diuine Speaker 261, I speake to you which are the inhabitants of Roome.
a1616 Shakespeare Julius Caesar (1623) i. ii. 157 When could they say (till now) that talk'd of Rome, That her wide Walles incompast but one man? Now is it Rome indeed, and Roome enough When there is in it but one onely man.
1705 G. Berkeley Descr. Cave of Dunmore in Wks. (1871) IV. 508 Those artificial caves of Rome and Naples called catacombs.
From the early 18th cent. onwards the spelling Rome is usual, but for later currency of the pronunciation /ruːm/ compare e.g. the rhyme in quot. 1711 at sense 1a. This pronunciation is recorded in various editions of J. Walker Crit. Pronouncing Dict. until 1862; for further evidence of 19th-cent. currency compare:
1866 N. & Q. 8 Dec. 456/1 In my early days I was taught that Room was the genteel, and therefore proper, pronunciation for the capital of Italy.
1899 W. D. Geddes Mem. J. Geddes iii. 53 The Fourth Canto of Childe Harold, as dealing with Rome, or, as he invariably called it, 'Room', in the old Shakesperian pronunciation, was a special favourite.
This pronunciation survived in regional speech into the 20th cent. (compare quots. 1873, 1909 at sense 2a; Sc. National Dict. (at Room) records the pronunciation /rum/ as still in use in Banffshire in 1968). It shows the regular reflex of Middle English long close ō, in turn reflecting Old English ō. By contrast, the modern standard pronunciation was influenced by the pronunciation of the Latin and Italian forms of the place name. Compare also the discussion of historical pronunciation at Roman n.1 and adj.1
In Old English and Middle English the name also occurs in several compounds denoting the city of Rome or the Roman Empire; compare Old English Rōmeburg (Middle English Romeburgh) Rome (compare borough n., and also Old Icelandic, Icelandic Rómaborg), early Middle English Romeland the Roman Empire (compare land n.1), early Middle English Romeriche the Roman Empire (compare riche n.):
eOE tr. Orosius Hist. (BL Add.) ii. iii. 40 Ęfter žęm že Romeburg getimbred węs.
OE Old Eng. Martyrol. (Corpus Cambr. 196) 26 June 133 On žone syx and twentigošan dęg žęs monšes byš žęra ęšelra wera gemynd Iohannes and Paules, žęra lychoma restaš on Romebyrig.
c1175 (OE) Homily: Hist. Holy Rood-tree (Bodl. 343) 34 Žone šridde dęl [sc. of the cross] že papę siluester forž mid him to romeburiȝ hęfde.
?c1200 Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 7010 Žurrh že king off rome burrh himm ȝifenn wass žatt riche.
?c1200 Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 8305 He bigann to rixlenn. I rome riche.
c1275 (1200) Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) l. 5596 Costantin‥hauede al Rome-lond, že stod an his aȝere hond.
c1275 (1200) Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) l. 5683 Heo come to Rome buri [c1300 Otho Rome].
a1393 Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) Prol. 715 The noble Cesar Julius‥tho was king of Rome lond.
a1450 (1338) R. Mannyng Chron. (Lamb.) (1887) i. l. 12665 Ȝow were wel bettere at Rome burgh Žan reyse baner a-geyn Arthurgh.
Compare also Rome city, Rome town:
c1330 Seven Sages (Auch.) l. 196 Žat emperour het‥žat žai bringge him sket To Rome toun.
c1450 (1386) Chaucer Legend Good Women (Fairf. 16) (1879) l. 1869 Ne never was ther kyng in Rome tovn Syn thilke day.
a1525 Bk. Sevyne Sagis 19, in W. A. Craigie Asloan MS (1925) II. 1, In Rome cite žan was žar' sevyne Sagis.
1606 P. Holland in tr. Suetonius Hist. Twelve Caesars Annot. 31* Vpon which day, the foundation of Rome Citie was laid.
1862 J. A. Clarke What Prophets Foretold xii. 206/2 A great catastrophe in which Rome city should be consumed by flame from heaven.
2005 Irish Times (Nexis) 9 June 12 A winter which saw the coldest night recorded in Rome city for more than 200 years.
a. The ancient Roman Empire; the city of Rome regarded as representing ancient Roman authority, civilization, etc.; the personification of this.
OE St. Eustace (Julius)in W. W. Skeat Ęlfric's Lives of Saints (1900) II. 204 Ža ferdon sošlice twegen cempan ža węron genemde Antiochus and Achaius, ža ęr węron under Eustachius handa, and žurhferdon ealle ža land že into Rome hyrdon, oššęt hi comon žęr he wunode.
OE tr. Bede Eccl. Hist. (Cambr. Univ. Libr.) 6 (table of contents) Šęt Bryttas fram Scottum & Peohtum węron forhergode; & hi to Rome him fultumes będon.
c1330 Seven Sages (Auch.) l. 818 Že heghe emperour of Rom [rhyme com] Went adoun of his tour.
a1400 (1325) Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) 22241 All kingrikes žat rome was vnder, Fra lauerd-hed o rome žam sundre.
a1450 (1338) R. Mannyng Chron. (Lamb.) (1887) i. 3460 Žyse wer gon to Lumbardye To procure Rome more partye.
a1500 (1425) Andrew of Wyntoun Oryg. Cron. Scotl. (Nero) v. l. 3534 Že Saxonys‥Agane Rome rasse wiže mekyl mycht.
1542 N. Udall tr. Erasmus Apophthegmes 248 b, One of the olde souldyours of Roome.
1594 Shakespeare Titus Andronicus i. i. 82 These that suruiue, let Rome reward with loue.
1624 F. Quarles Job Militant x. xxix, Who, that did e're behold the ancient Rome, Would rashly give her Glorie such a doome?
1671 Milton Paradise Regain'd iv. 80 All Nations now to Rome obedience pay.
1711 Pope Ess. Crit. 39 From the same Foes, at last, both felt their Doom, And the same Age saw Learning fall, and Rome.
a1771 T. Gray Agrippina in Poems (1775) 131 The willing homage Of prostrate Rome.
1780 W. Cowper Boadicea 17 Rome‥Tramples on a thousand states.
1820 Byron Marino Faliero v. i, A wife's dishonour unking'd Rome for ever.
1882 T. H. Hall Caine Recoll. D. G. Rossetti 102 Defending‥the vices of Neronian Rome.
1927 W. E. Peck Shelley II. xiv. 63 The triumphal arch which Cottius, having resigned his throne to Rome and accepted a Roman prefectorship, had erected.
1973 C. Price Theatre in Age of Garrick ii. 6 In one respect at least England could rival ancient Rome.
2005 J. Diamond Collapse (2006) 13 For over a thousand years, Rome successfully held off the barbarians.
b. Constantinople (modern Istanbul), the capital of the eastern Roman Empire. Later also: Moscow, proposed as being destined to assume a similarly dominant role in world affairs. Also with modifying adjective.
[In use with reference to Moscow after Russian Tretij Rim Third Rome (Old Russian Tretij Rim′′ (16th cent.), itself after Russian Church Slavonic Tretij Rimŭ (15234 in the Letter of Starets Filofej, the source translated in quot. 1945). In use with reference to Constantinople, ultimately after the Latin and Greek compounds cited in the main etymology.]
1509 H. Watson tr. S. Brant Shyppe of Fooles (de Worde) xcv. sig. Bb.iv, The pleasaunt place of Constantinoble, whiche was the newe Rome.
1603 R. Knolles Gen. Hist. Turkes 13 Yet haue the Sarasins attempted both Romes; they haue besieged Constantinople, and haue wasted‥the Sea coasts of Italy.
1609 W. Biddulph Trav. Certaine Englishmen 21 In the decrees of Emperours, mention is made of two Romes: one, the olde, which is the true Rome, built by Romulus; the other, the new, which is Constantinople.
1823 R. Lyall Char. of Russians 28 Moscow is a third Rome, say these historians, and a fourth shall never be.
1867 H. H. Milman Hist. Lat. Christianity (ed. 4) II. iv. vii. 356 The bishops of the two Romes, Germanus of Constantinople, and Pope Gregory II., were united in one common cause.
1896 Amer. Hist. Rev. 2 37 After the fall of the Rome on the Bosphorus, Moscow was hailed as the third Rome that was to rule the world.
1945 N. Zernov tr. Filofei in Russians & their Church 51 The Church of old Rome fell for its heresy; the gates of the second Rome, Constantinople, were hewn down by the axes of the infidel Turks; but the Church of Moscow, the Church of the new Rome, shines brighter than the sun in the whole universe.
1999 G. Vallée Shaping of Christianity x. 203 The weakening of the two Romes created the space for the emergence of both the Holy Roman Empire of the Franks and the Islamic Empire.
a. The city of Rome as the original capital of Western Christendom, and the seat of the Pope, regarded as the place from which the authority or influence of the church (after the Reformation spec. the Roman Catholic Church) is exerted; (more generally) the Roman Catholic Church, its institutions, practices, etc.
Court of Rome: see court n.1 8b. Lady of Rome: see lady n. Phrases 2b. man of Rome see man n.1 Phrases 2x. to go over to Rome: see to go over 4 at go v. Phrasal verbs 1. See of Rome: see n.1 2c.
eOE tr. Orosius Hist. (BL Add.) ii. iv. 44 Ond nu ure cristne Roma bespricš žęt hiere wealles for ealdunge brosnien, nales na for žęm že hio mid forheriunge swa gebismrad węre swa Babylonia węs. Ac heo for hiere cristendome nugiet is gescild.
OE Bidding Prayer (York)in Eng. Hist. Rev. (1912) 27 10 Wutan we gebiddan for urne papan on Rome, and for urne cyning.
OE Inventory Donations Bishop Leofric to Exeter Cathedral (Bodl.)in A. J. Robertson Anglo-Saxon Charters (1956) 228 And II salteras, & se žriddan saltere swa man singš on Rome.
lOE Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) (Peterborough contin.) anno 1123, Ša com se ęrcebiscop of Cantwarabyrig & węs šęre fulle seoueniht ęr he mihte cumen to žes papes spręce‥. Ac žet ofercom Rome žet ofercumeš eall weoruld, žet is gold & seolure.
c1275 (1200) Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1978) l. 13188 France heo biwunnen and seoššen heo‥biȝeten Rome.
a1387 J. Trevisa tr. R. Higden Polychron. (St. John's Cambr.) (1874) V. 407 Holdež že Ester day in dewe tyme, and ȝeve bapteme in že manere of že chirche of Rome.
?c1430 (1383) Wyclif Sel. Eng. Wks. (1871) III. 281 Howevere we speken of dispensacion of že Bischop of Rome, žis symonyent mot do verey pennaunce.
c1475 (1400) Apol. Lollard Doctr. (1842) 12 In že court of Rome mai no man geyt no grace, but if it be bowt.
a1500 (1375) Octavian (Calig.) l. 918 Ech lord lette wyth dolour Že se of Rome.
1537 T. Starkey Let. 26 Jan. in Eng. in Reign Henry VIII (1878) i. p. xlvii, The wych you perauenture wyl impute to thys defectyon from Rome.
a1616 Shakespeare King John (1623) v. ii. 70 King Iohn hath reconcil'd Him~selfe to Rome.
1654 J. Bramhall Let. in R. Parr Life J. Usher (1686) Coll. ccxciii. 612 Your selves have preached so much against Rome, and his Holiness, that Rome and her Romanists will be little the better for that Change.
1673 H. Hickman Hist. Quinq-articularis 431, I will not ask, How‥it came to pass, that not one Contraremonstrant ever went over to Rome?
1769 T. Gray Ode at Installation Duke of Grafton 6 The majestic Lord, That broke the bonds of Rome.
1791 J. Boswell Life Johnson anno 1784 II. 499 He argued in defence of some of the peculiar tenets of the Church of Rome.
1840 J. H. Newman in Brit. Critic Jan. 53 Rome, though not deferring to the Fathers, recognizes them.
1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 54 The Kirk o' Englan' 's rinnin' aff tae Roome, I'm tauld, helter skelter, amon' a blaze o' caunels‥an' incense.
1892 J. M. Stone Faithful unto Death vi. 119 It was also thought that many clergymen hesitated to marry,‥in case of a reconciliation with Rome.
1909 J. Tennant Jeannie Jaffray 13 Pavin' the road for's back to Room an' the days fan the country wis subjec' to ecclesiastic rule.
1911 Catholic Encycl. XII. 268/1 Cyprian denies his right of appeal to Rome, and asserts the sufficiency of the African tribunal.
1926 R. H. Tawney Relig. & Rise of Capitalism iii. 159 It was administered no longer by the clergy acting as the agents of Rome, but by civilians acting under the authority of the Crown.
1976 Times 28 July 15/6 The very existence of the Anglican Church‥has partly depended‥on some Christians not agreeing with everything that Rome says.
2006 D. Winner Those Feet 192 Britain's surge to great-power status began with Henry VIII's break with Rome.
b. In extended use.
1789 J. Pinkerton Enq. Hist. Scotl. II. vi. ii. 279 Hyona [i.e. Iona] may be regarded as the Rome of Pikland, supporting its own power and interest, by keeping the subjects of its church in ignorance.
1802 tr. J. L. Soulavie Hist. & Polit. Mem. V. ix. 190 They have become the primitive model of all the protestant churches, and, if we may be allowed the expression, the Rome of calvinism.
a1822 Shelley Charles I i, in Posthumous Poems (1824) 239 First Speaker That Is the Archbishop. Second Speaker Rather say the Pope. London will be soon his Rome.
1886 G. E. Raum Tour round World xxv. 303 Mecca, the birthplace of Mohammed, and the Rome of Islam, is 65 miles from Jeddah.
1934 F. Eby & C. F. Arrowood Devel. Mod. Educ. iv. 126 Calvin gradually transformed the city [of Geneva] into the Rome of Protestantism.
1985 R. Davies What's bred in Bone (1986) iii. 150 She wondered aloud if in a city sometimes called the Rome of Methodism [sc. Toronto] it might not be better to [etc.].
3. The Holy Roman Empire; the city of Rome regarded as the symbolic source of authority of the Holy Roman Emperor. Now rare.
OE Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Tiber. B.iv) anno 1067, Of geleaffullan & ęšelan cynne heo [sc. Margaret] węs asprungon, hire fęder węs Eadward ęželing, Eadmundes sunu kynges, Eadmund Ęželreding, Ęželred Eadgaring, Eadgar Eadreding, & swa forš on žęt cynecynn, & hire modorcynn gęš to Heinrice casere, že hęfde anwald ofer Rome.
?1457 J. Hardyng Chron. (Lansd.:Hammond) 236 The Emperour of Rome, Sir Sygismounde‥had his stall vpon the kynges lifte honde In the Colage of seynt George.
a1470 Malory Morte Darthur (Winch. Coll.) 188 Thus have we evydence inowghe to the empyre of hole Rome.
1543 (1464) Chron. J. Hardyng (1812) 273 He gate‥Isabell, the wyfe of Frederyk, Emperoure of Rome, [a lorde full] poletyk.
1587 J. Bridges Def. Govt. Church of Eng. 95 The Pope calleth the Emperour, Emperour of Roome, and‥yet can hee haue no more roome in Rome, then it pleaseth the Pope to permit vnto him.
1621 R. Crakanthorpe Def. Constantine 330 Aeneas Syluius [i.e. Pope Pius II] cals, the sacred Empire of Rome, Romanam regiam potestatem, the Regall power of the Romanes.
1845 Congregational Mag. May 356 A priest, calling himself the Count of Lausanne and prince of the holy empire of Rome, (although that empire had ceased to exist at the commencement of this century).
1951 H. Myers Utmost Island 28 How Charlemagne, King of the Franks, restored and ruled the ancient Holy Empire of Rome, when once he had Rome's Church beside him to proclaim his right Divine.
2007 A. Ruiz Vibrant Andalusia 170 Sigismund‥was King of Hungary and Bohemia as well as Holy Emperor of Rome and Germany.
a. when in Rome, do as the Romans do (also as Rome does): when abroad or in an unfamiliar environment, adopt the customs or behaviour of those around you (formerly also when at Rome, do after the doom). In later use frequently shortened to when in Rome.
[Compare post-classical Latin cum fueris Romae, Romano vivito more (and variants) (15th cent.), Anglo-Norman quant vos a Roume sereiz, selun les Romeins vos vivreiz (c1260).]
a1536 in Songs, Carols, & Other Misc. Poems (1907) 130 Whan thou art at Rome, do after the dome; And whan žou art els wher, do as they do ther.
1545 R. Taverner tr. Erasmus Prouerbes (new ed.) f. 51v, With this laten prouerbe agreeth yt which is commonly in euery mans mouth in England Whan yu art at Rome, do as they do at Rome.
1591 J. Florio Second Frutes i. 97 Be Romane if in Rome thou bide.
1670 G. Havers tr. G. Leti Il Cardinalismo di Santa Chiesa i. i. 5 Whilst one is at Rome, one must live as they do there.
1768 J. Cremer Jrnl. 19 July in R. R. Bellamy Ramblin' Jack (1936) 164 His Answer was, when we was in Rhoome, we must doe as Roome did.
1818 Byron Beppo ix. 5 And you at Rome would do as Romans do, According to the proverb.
1863 W. C. Baldwin Afr. Hunting vii. 267, I always do in Rome as Rome does, eat (if I can) whatever is set before me.
1912 Overland Monthly Feb. 127/2, I thought first I'd expose myself for the ninny I am, but when in Rome, you know. Didn't I act like a Roman?
1939 El Paso(Texas)Herald-Post 23 May 4/4 When in Rome do as Rome does is an established rule of etiquette.
1990 T. W. Kang Gaishi iii. 64 Japanese customers and partners tell U.S. firms to conform: When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
2002 Sunday Mail(Brisbane) 4 Aug. 81/1 When in Rome, as the saying goes‥so I ordered the Guinness pie.
b. Rome was not built in a day: a complex task or great achievement is bound to take a long time and should not be rushed.
[Compare German Rom wurde nicht in einem Tag erbaut (and variants) (from 16th cent.). The source translated in quot. 1545 does not have a corresponding Latin proverb.]
1546 J. Heywood Dialogue Prouerbes Eng. Tongue i. sig. Div, Rome was not bylt on a daie (quoth he) & yet stood Tyll it was fynysht, as some saie, full fayre.
1610 Bp. J. Hall Common Apol. against Brownists xxv. 63 But Rome was not built all in a day.
1663 E. Waterhouse Fortescutus Illustratus xxix. 375 Rome was not built in a day, nor is a Reformation in the true Law-sense effectable presently.
1776 A. Adams Familiar Lett. (1876) 202 But Rome was not built in a day.
1822 Scott Fortunes of Nigel II. x. 237 Rome was not built in a dayyou cannot become used to your court-suit in a month's time.
1849 C. Brontė Shirley I. vi. 123 As Rome, it was suggested, had not been built in a day, so neither had Mademoiselle Gérard Moore's education been completed in a week.
1901 S. Lane-Poole Sir H. Parkes xvii. 316 The Japanese‥went too fast and fell into grave commercial, monetary, and administrative troubles. Neither Rome nor New Japan could be built in a day.
1950 T. Williams Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone i. 34 Patience, said the Contessa. Rome was not built in a day!
2002 S. Brett Death on Downs iii. 22 Less than a month since we moved in. Rome wasn't built in a day, eh?
c. Chiefly Sc. do not sit in Rome and strive with the Pope (and variants): do not attempt to criticize or oppose a powerful person while in his or her own territory.
1561 W. Maitland Let. 10 Aug. in G. Cook Hist. Reformation Scotl. (1819) III. App. p. xl, If this cannot be brought to pass, then I see well, at length it will be hard for me to dwell in Rome and strive with the Pope.
a1598 Fergusson's Sc. Prov. (1641) sig. F2, Ye may not sit in Rome and strive with the Pope.
1641 W. Laud Recantation Prelate of Canterbury 38 It is certainly a great losse, not to have the Parliaments affection, and very hard (as they say) to sit in Rome, and strive against the Pope.
a1666 R. Blair Autobiogr. (1848) 37 [Reportedly said in Glasgow Cathedral in 1621] He [sc. Robert Boyd] uttered his indignation in very high words‥; for he said, I will not sit in Rome and strive with the Pope.
1824 J. Russell Tour Germany II. v. 305 They are too apt to forget the homely saying, that it is folly to live in Rome and quarrel with the Pope.
1846 C. I. Johnstone Edinb. Tales III. 258/2, I need not tell you of not sitting in Rome and striving with the Pope.
1907 S. MacManus Dr. Kilgannon 11 Still, of course, he went on, softening his tone, there's no use living in Rome and fighting with the Pope.
2007 Monitor(Uganda) (Nexis) 22 Aug., [He] tried to go against Mr Ssempijja too, and is right now in political oblivion. It is folly to live in Rome and rub shoulders with the pope.
d. all roads lead to Rome (and variants): there are many different ways of reaching the same goal or conclusion.
[Probably ultimately after post-classical Latin Mille viae ducunt homines per saecula Romam (12th cent. in Alanus ab Insulis Liber parabolarum). Compare Italian si va per pił vie a Roma (a1589; a1484 as vassi pure a Roma per pił strade, 1585 as si va per tante strade a Roma), French tous chemins vont ą Rome (1694 in the passage translated in quot. 1806).]
c1400 (1391) Chaucer Treat. Astrolabe (Cambr. Dd.3.53) (1872) Prol. l. 28 Ryht as diuerse pathes leden diuerse folk the rihte wey to Roome.
1793 tr. M. Ehrenstrom Let. 15 Mar. in tr. Corr. Baron Armfelt (1795) xlvii. 67 This difference in the choice of our means ought not to stop our career. All roads lead to Rome.
1806 R. Thomson tr. J. de La Fontaine Fables IV. xii. xxiv. 110 Three diff'rent roads the three concurrents chose, All roads alike conduct to Rome [Fr. Tous chemins vont ą Rome].
1837 Morning Chron. 29 Mar., The Tories act in the spirit of the old adage, All roads lead to Rome.
1861 C. Reade Cloister & Hearth I. xxiv. 270 All roads take to Rome.
1911 J. A. Thomson Introd. Sci. iii. 63 All roads lead to Rome, and he must be a bold man who will declare any of Nature's beckonings to be unworthy of attention.
1922 I. Fisher Making of Index Numbers xii. 266 All the roads lead to Rome,whether the roads be the arithmetic, the harmonic, the geometric, or the aggregative.
2007 Liverpool Daily Echo (Nexis) 18 May (Features section) 4, I'm still discovering my art, but all roads lead to Rome. I was always going to end up finding certain conclusions.
P2. to go (also hop, etc.) to Rome with a mortar on one's head (and variants, generally involving a ludicrous mode of travel): taken as the type of a hopelessly difficult (and often pointless) task. Obs.
a1500 (1460) Towneley Plays 371, I had leuer go to rome, yei thryse, on my fete, Then forto grefe yonde grome.
?1518 Hyckescorner sig. B.i, Yf ony of vs thre be mayre of london I wys y wys I wyll ryde to rome on my thom.
a1556 N. Udall Ralph Roister Doister (?1566) ii. ii. sig. C.iiij, But what should I home againe without answere go? It were better go to Rome on my head than so.
1600 W. Kemp Nine Daies Wonder Ep. Ded., Me thinkes I could flye to Rome (at least hop to Rome, as the olde Prouerb is) with a morter on my head.
a1640 J. Fletcher et al. Faire Maide of Inne v. ii, in F. Beaumont & J. Fletcher Comedies & Trag. (1647) sig. Ggggggg2v/2, He did measure the starres with a false yard, and may now travaile to Rome with a morter on's head to see if he can recover his mony that way.
a1642 B. J. Trag. Hist. Guy Earl of Warwick (1661) sig. A4v, Old. But whither wilt thou go soon ha? Clow. Faith Father, Romo Romulus, even to Rome, Morter morteribus, with a Morter on my Head.
1853 T. Carlyle Occas. Disc. Nigger Question 15 Good heavens, if signing petitions would do it, if hopping to Rome on one leg would do it, think you it were long undone!
a. General attrib. without determiner, with reference to the city of Rome, as Rome gate, Rome wall, etc. Obs.
c1275 (1200) Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1978) l. 13921 He‥wold‥Rome walles rihten že ȝare weoren to-fallen.
c1330 Seven Sages (Auch.) l. 1553 Žourgh Rome stretes, wide and side, Že ferthe maister žer com ride.
c1330 Seven Sages (Auch.) l. 2223 He com to Rome ȝate.
c1440 (1400) Morte Arthure l. 228 There ryngnede neuer syche realtee within Rome walles.
1553 T. Wilson Arte of Rhetorique 48 As farre as hence to Rome gates.
1564 N. Haward in tr. Eutropius Briefe Chron. ix. f. 114 (side-note) Rome walles new made.
a1616 Shakespeare Coriolanus (1623) iv. v. 205 Hee'l go, he sayes, and sole the Porter of Rome Gates by th' eares.
b. Objective, locative, etc., as Rome-believer, Rome-bred, etc.
1613 E. Cary Trag. Mariam iv. ii. sig. F, May you long in prosperous fortunes liue With Rome commanding Caesar.
1614 A. I. in A. Gorges tr. Lucan Pharsalia To Translator. sig. A5v, Lucans Spaine-borne, Rome-bred, Muse-nurc't wit.
1661 H. Adis Fannaticks Alarm 23 Is not that great Goliah of our times, defying the Host of the Israel of God, that Rome-bred Monster, Persecution?
1792 G. Galloway Poems 40 Pit [= put] sandals on, Or bare-foot scud like Rome-believers.
1823 S. T. Coleridge Let. 24 Aug. (1971) V. 298 A pleasure linked to so many delightful and ennobling Recollections in my Rome-haunting Spirit.
1896 Contemp. Rev. Jan. 106 The poet of antiquity who most consciously returned to Nature‥was‥the Rome-born Tibullus.
1912 G. Metlake Christian Social Reform xiv. 192 The Liberal majority was made up almost exclusively of Rome-hating, Rome-baiting fanatics.
1992 Philadelphia Inquirer 22 Aug. c6/1 The escalating war of words between the network and its Rome-based correspondent ended yesterday.
RomeBerlin Axis n. now hist. the close relationship (later a formal alliance) formed in 1936 between Fascist Italy and National Socialist Germany, which effectively came to an end with the surrender of Italy to the Allies in 1943.
[ < the name of Rome + the name of Berlin (see Berlin n.) + axis n.1 (compare axis n.1 4b), after Italian asse RomaBerlino (1935 or earlier; compare German Achse RomBerlin, Achse BerlinRom (both 1937 or earlier)).
Variants of the term were apparently used earlier in Hungarian by the then Prime Minister of Hungary, Gyula Gömbös von Jįfka (18861936), who suggested the formation of an alliance between Germany, Italy, and Hungary (which failed to materialize) in various speeches between 1922 and 1934; compare e.g. Gömbös's statement in a parliamentary speech on 24 July 1922: lįtom, hogy az európai politikįnak tengelye Berlinbe Rómįn įt fog vezetni I believe that the axis of European politics will lead to Berlin through Rome. The Hungarian compoundRómaBerlin tengely RomeBerlin Axis is attested in 1935 (in a transcript of parliamentary sessions) or earlier.]
1936 Times 3 Nov. 15/1 The RomeBerlin axis is a conceit which has its momentary attractions.
1938 E. Ambler Cause for Alarm viii. 128 The RomeBerlin axis is one of the most effective principles of European power-politics that has ever been stated.
2007 J. Gooch Mussolini & his Generals vi. 327 Recent accords with Yugoslavia‥had notably reinforced the RomeBerlin Axis.
Rome-lede n. [ < the name of Rome + lede n.; compare Middle High German Rōmliute (Old High German Rōmliute), plural noun] Obs. (in pl.) Romans; (hence occas.) the Roman Empire.
Only in Laȝamon.
c1275 (1200) Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) 2818 Ža comen lišen ža weore ža Rom-leoden [c1300 Otho žat weren Romleode].
c1275 (1200) Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) l. 4598 He bigon to senden ȝeond al žan Romleoden [c1300 Otho ouer al Romleode].
Rome-thede n. [ < the name of Rome + thede n.] Obs. the Roman nation or people.
Only in Laȝamon.
c1275 (1200) Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) 4512 Kinbelin‥weorede Rome-žeode wiš vncuše leode.
7. Polybius on the gods of the Romans (from The Rise of the Roman Republic, book 6):
But among all the useful institutions, that demonstrate the superior excellence of the Roman government, the most considerable perhaps is the opinion which the people are taught to hold concerning the gods: and that, which other men regard as an object of disgrace, appears in my judgment to be the very thing by which this republic chiefly is sustained. I mean, superstition: which is impressed with all it terrors; and influences both the private actions of the citizens, and the public administration also of the state, in a degree that can scarcely be exceeded. This may appear astonishing to many. To me it is evident, that this contrivance was at first adopted for the sake of the multitude. For if it were possible that a state could be composed of wise men only, there would be no need, perhaps, of any such invention. But as the people universally are fickle and inconstant, filled with irregular desires, too precipitate in their passions, and prone to violence, there is no way restrain them, but by the dread of things unseen, and by the pageantry of terrifying fiction. The ancients, therefore, acted not absurdly, nor without good reason, when they inculcated the notions concerning the gods, and the belief of infernal punishments; but much more those of the present age are to be charged with rashness and absurdity, in endeavoring to extirpate these opinions. Many effects flow from such an institution. If, among the Greeks, for example, a single talent of money only be entrusted to those who have the management of any of the public money, though they give ten written sureties, with as many seals and twice as many witnesses, they are unable to discharge the trusts reposed in them with integrity. But the Romans, on the other hand, who in the course of their magistracies, and in embassies, disperse the greatest sums, are prevailed on by the single obligation of an oath to perform their duties with inviolable honesty. And as, in other states, a man is rarely found whose hands are pure from public robbery; so, among the Romans, it is no less rare to discover one that is tainted with this crime. But all things are subject to decay and change. This is a truth so evident, and so demonstrated by the perpetual and the necessary force of nature, that it needs no other proof.