Saturday, January 30, 2021


An Object of Worship in Every Field

Walter Savage Landor, "Tibullus and Messala," Imaginary Conversations, Vol. II (London: J.M. Dent & Co., 1901), pp. 77-90 (at 84):
Tibullus. In my humble opinion, and I hope I am falling into no impiety when I say it, we have gods enow already. Those of Egypt we have in our kitchens,5 and those of Gaul are not worth conveyance from their woods. We require no importations.

Messala. Formerly, gods made men; at present, men make gods. Where will this fashion have an end? Perhaps you may live to enlarge your sacristy.

Tibullus. I find an object of worship in every field. Wherever there is a stake or a stone crowned with flowers,* I bend before it, and thank the gods for inspiring the hearts of men with gratitude. I feel confident they are well-pleased at these oblations, however poor their worshipper, and however he mispronounce their names.

Messala. While the gods came from the potter, men were virtuous and happy; when they came from the goldsmith, they retained the heat of the furnace, and dazzled and deluded. Priests assumed their similitude, and encrusted one another with the same metal.

[5 Cats.]

* Nam veneror seu stipes habet desertus in agris,
    Seu vetus in trivio florida serta lapis.
Tibullus 1.1.11-12 (tr. J.P. Postgate):
For I bend in worship wherever flowery garlands lie on deserted tree-stock in the fields or old stone at a crossway.

nam veneror seu stipes habet desertus in agris,
    seu vetus in trivio florida serta lapis.
Kirby Flower Smith ad loc.:
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