Tag: Caesar


Birdsong posted in Eleison Comments on April 11, 2009

One thing I got right in the return from Argentina to England, and that is the timing: after enjoying the warm summer in the South, I arrived in balmy days of late February in the North, where an early spring was already under way. Now the trees are flowering, one after another, and the birds are singing. And how they do sing, in solo or in concert, forming a barely interrupted stream of cheer, chirping, trilling, piping, whistling!

To let loose their song they seem to choose a perch in a tree where they can hardly be seen, but how they can be heard! One wonders, how can such little flight-weight creatures let out so much sound? And who for? Just to find a mate? But I am told they sing here all year round. “Be quiet,” said St. Ignatius of Loyola to a little wayside flower – “I know Who you are talking about.”

The sweetheart of a Roman poet had a sparrow for a pet, and through her Catullus felt all its charm. Here in free translation is the poem he wrote when it died:

All hearts that love a lover, grieve!

My girl-friend’s lost her bird.

Her darling birdie is dead. To lose

Her eyes she’d have preferred.

As sweet child clings to mother, from

My girl it would not stray,

But hopping round her lap, would chirp.

To her alone all day.

But now it’s in death’s dark, from where

None to return has power.

O cursed dark of Hell, whatever

Is pretty, you devour!

So pretty a bird you’ve taken now!

Poor little birdie – dead.

‘Tis all your fault, my girl so wept,

Her eyes are swollen red.

Catullus was a contemporary of Julius Caesar, whom he knew. It is not without its charm to realize how Ancient Rome was human as well as heroic.

Kyrie eleison.

Rome’s Mission

Rome’s Mission posted in Eleison Comments on October 20, 2007

It is moving to visit Rome, for its greatness ancient and modern. Of the ancient forum where Cicero spoke and Caesar triumphed, there remain only ruins scattered across an enclave around which swirls the modern city. Yet even the broken fragments are enough to call up Roman Virgil’s majestic lines:—

Tu regere imperio, populos, Romane, memento.

Hae tibi erunt artes, pacisque imponere morem,

Parcere subjectis, et debellare superbos.

Forget not, Roman, thy appointed way,

To hold and rule peoples beneath thy sway.

Here is thy skill, world order to impose,

On the proud, harsh war, but peace to conquered foes.

Virgil was no Christian, because he died 19 years before Our Lord was born. Yet every ancient Roman shared his sense of Rome’s great mission, to create a world order. Only little did those ancients know just what that world order would be.

Catholics know. Everywhere in Rome there are the relics, sanctuaries, churches and basilicas of the martyrs who, by redirecting their Roman virility towards dying for Christ, over the course of 250 years converted their city into the world centre of the one true religion, which it remains to this day. Mother Church has equally majestic lines to commemorate that change. For instance, from the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul –

O Roma felix! Quae duorum Principum

Es consecrata glorioso sanguine.

Horum cruore purpurata ceteras

Excellis orbis una pulchritudines.

O happy Rome! Both Princes of the Faith

Did consecrate thee with their glorious blood.

Raised above all fair cities of the earth

Art thou, the fairest by this crimson flood.

But where is the Roman virility to resist the anti-Christian New World Order which they are building today?

Kyrie eleison.