Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-zdfhw Total loading time: 0.405 Render date: 2022-08-09T22:06:06.390Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

Article contents

Vivum saxum, vivi lapides: The Concept of “Living Stone” in Classical and Christian Antiquity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 July 2017

J. C. Plumpe*
Affiliation:
The Catholic University of America

Extract

Among the comparatively rare ὲκΦράσ∊ις τόπου included by Vergil in his epic, is the description (Aen. 1.159–169) of the Libyan estuary which gives harbor to the remnants of the Trojan fleet. The Homeric pattern (Od. 13.96–112) to which Vergil is indebted, is a portrayal of the haven of Phorcys, consisting in largest part of a picture of the cave sacred to the Naiades (105–112). As has been pointed out, the cave is an idyllic abode brimming with life. All objects mentioned as furnishing the interior are described as being of stone: mixing vessels and jars in which bees store up honey, and very tall looms “whereon the nymphs weave raiment of sea-purple.” It should be observed also that all the articles are, in the normal order of things, hand-fashioned and adventitious—human imports.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © 1943 by Cosmopolitan Science & Art Service Co., Inc. 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

1 Concerning such topographical descriptions in the Aeneid see Heinze, R., Vergil's epische Technik (Leipzig, 3 1928) 250; 396–398; Rehm, B., “Das geographische Bild des alten Italien in Vergils Aeneis,” Philologus Supplbd. 24.2 (1932) 72–75; 78–83; 96; Gíslason, J, Die Naturschilderungen und Naturgleichnisse in Vergils Aeneis (diss. Münster: Emsdetten, 1937) 18–35.

2 By Gíslason, , op. cit. 39, who has contrasted well (36–40) the entire description with the Vergilian counterpart.

3 Erosin, O., P. Vergili Maronis Aeneis, 2 (3 ed. by Heitkamp, L.: Gotha, 1892) 197: “Vivo saxo im Gegensatz zu Hafenbauten von Menschenhand.”

4 I doubt very much whether the uncouth giant, into whose mouth the poet deftly puts most prosaic and clumsy language, means “vaulted ceilings” (Siebelis-Stange, Souchier, Stuart, etc.) when speaking of vivo pendentia saxo antra. Inaccessible to enemies, his mountain abode overlooks (hangs over) his property, calling to mind the domestic arrangement of many a ruralist in the mountains today. The passage suggests an interesting parallel, lines quoted from an unknown poet by Cicero (Tusc. 1.37 = Trag. frg. inc. 73):

Adsum atque advenio Acherunte vix via alta atque ardua

Per speluncas saxis structas asperis, pendentibus, Maxumis

5 This and other examples of the ancient story of Love's Revenge receive consideration in the latest study on the subject: Copley, F. O., “The Suicide-Paraclausithyron: A Study of Ps.-Theocritus, Idyll xxiii,” TAPhA 71 (1940) 5261.

Google Scholar

6 Passages that invite comparison are these: There is a bay in Haemonia fringed by a forest full of myrtle. Within Thetis has a place of concealment:Met. 11.235 Et specus in medio, natura factus an arte, Ambiguum, magis arte tamen.

Again, Hippomene and Atalanta make the fatal decision of retiring in a cave within the precincts sacred to the Magna Mater:

Met. 10.691 Luminis exigui fuerat prope templa recessus Speluncae similis, nativo pumice tectus.

7 Die Metamorphosen des P Ovidius Naso, 1 (9 ed. by Ehwald, R.: Berlin, 1915) 134.

8 The Germans, it is interesting to observe, commonly speak of “gewachsener Stein” = “grown stone.”

9 For examples of Roman poets considering it thus cf. Harper's Lat. Dict. s. v. Read also Pliny, , Nat. Hist. 36.154.

10 And in this instance, too, an indication of flowing water can be argued from the plural, aquae dulces.

11 Cf. also Ovid, ,

Met. 3.26f. (Cadmus) iubet ire ministros Et petere e vivis libandas fontibus undas .

12 De Ling. Lat. 5.123; cf. also Res Rust. 1.11.2.

13 Among further instances of the phrase aqua viva (cf. ThesLL s. v. “aqua,” 2.351.35f.) its use by the gromatic writers is especially frequent: cf. Blume, F.Lachmann, K.Rudorff, A., Die Schriften der römischen Feldmesser (Berlin, 1848–52) 2 Index, 483. Concerning ὒδωρ ζῶν (ζωῆς), occurring in the Old and New Testament, see the proper lexica and concordances; also the literature listed by Bauer, W, Griechisch-Deutsches Wörterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der übrigen urchristlichen Literatur (Berlin, 31937) s. v. ὓδωρ, 1381f. Especially interesting is the early Christian requirement, as recorded in the Didache (7.2 Funk-Bihlmeyer), that, if available, ὓδωρ υῶν be used in the conferring of baptism.

14 In this line vivus ros is not “flowing water,” as is translated usually. Cf. the commentary by Frazer, J. G., The Fasti of Ovid (London, 1929) 3.367f.; also his translation in Ovid's Fasti (Loeb Class. Lib.: London, 1931) 247: “wash thy hands in living dew.”

15 Nipperdey, K. (P Cornelius Tacitus erklärt 1 [10 ed. by Andresen, G.: Berlin, 1904] 359) and other commentators compare the phrase vivoque in saxo with the first Vergilian passage considered above (Aen. 1.167).

16 I have found only two isolated phrases that suggest comparison with the Vergilian and Ovidian passages treated: Aeschylus mentions αὐτόκτιτ' ἄντρα (Prom. 301), Sophocles, αὐτοκτίστους δόμους (frg. 332 Pearson). In an epigram by Macedonius Consul, living in the sixth century A. D., a ladylove is chided for having a heart of living stone, ἒμπνοος λίος: Anth. Pal. 5.229.4 Paton.

17 Thompson, J. A. K., the Greek Tradition (New York, 1927) 199. See also Frazer, J. G., op. cit., 4.268; Fairclough, H. R., Love of Nature Among the Greeks and Romans (Our Debt to Greece and Rome: New York, 1930) 12f.; Geikie, A., The Love of Nature Among the Romans (London, 1912) passim ; Frank, T., Vergil, a Biography (New York, 1922) 162f.

18 A discussion of it by Pliny, , Nat. Hist. 35.175. Vergil mentions it in Georg. 3.449; Ovid, , in Fasti 4.739; Met. 3.374 (vivacia sulphura); Rem. Am. 260. Other instance are listed in Harper's Lat. Dict. s. v. “sulfur.”

19 Pliny, , Nat. Hist. 29.51; 31.57; Vitruvius, , De Arch. 8.7; etc.

20 De Or. 1.245 (M. Antonius speaking): Lapides mehercule omnes flere ac lamentari coegisset.

21 Nor has the idea of “living stone,” “live stone,” etc., become popular to any degree in English, though an interesting paper (also taking into account the names “Livingstone” and “Livingston”) could be written on the subject. Already before Dryden's translation of the Aeneid appeared (1697), Biddulph, in The Travels of Certaine Englishmen (1612) 30, mentions a “house being hewed out of the lively rocke.” Robert Lovell in his Compleat Historie of Animals and Minerals (1661) 22, offers a parallel to sulphur vivum: “Live brimstone, boiled to the thickness of honey.” These and similar examples are found in the Oxford English Dictionary 6 (Oxford, 1933) s. vv. “lively” adj. 1.b, “live” adj. 5.a, “living” ppl. adj. 2.d. Among modern authors Browning, , Aristophanes' Apology (1875) 1526, speaks of “live rock latent under wave and foam.” During the recent Spanish civil war I noted American newspaper correspondents describing the Toledo fortress-palace of Alcazar as “largely hewn out of living rock” (Time, Oct. 5, 1936: 21.1.9) and its defenders as living “down in the living rock” (Columbus Citizen, Sept. 19, 1936: front page).

22 In this connection a striking case of Homeric usage is worth noting for comparison. Already Buttmann, P, Lexilogus (English translation by Fishlake, J. R.: London, 6 1869) 332f., observed that in Homer πέτρος is used to designate “a mere stone,” whereas πέτρα is used for “fixed rocks” only The observation is borne out by exceptional usage: when Cyclops sets a rock, πέτρβν, against the entrance to his cave (Od. 9.243) and the sea heaves because of a πέτρβ hurled by him (ibid. 484), and again when Hesiod's hundred-handed Titans bear πέτρας ἠλιβάτους as weapons (Theog. 675), not ordinary stones are meant, but whole cliffs and mountains broken off and carried away by primitive giants (cf. also Passow's Greek dictionary s. v. πέτρα).

23 Showerman, G., Ovid, Heroides and Amores (Loeb Class. Lib.: London, 1914) 77, mistakenly translates: “She charms life (!) into trees and rocks, and moves them from their place.”

Google Scholar

24 Grattius, , Cyneg. 404; Pliny, , Nat. Hist. 36.138 (note the plural: quos [lapides pyritas] vivos appellamus); Isidorus, , Etym. 16.4.5.

25 Cf. Felten, J., Die zwei Briefe des heiligen Petrus und der Judasbrief (Regensburg, 1929) 74f.; Holzmeister, U., “Commentarius in Epistulas SS. Petri et Iudae Apostolorum, i: Epistula Prima S. Petri,” Curs. S. Scr. 3.13 (Paris, 1937) 239–247; Bigg, C., “Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude,” Intern. Crit. Comm. (New York, 1905) 128f. The attempt by Perdelwitz, R., “Die Mysterienreligion und das Problem des i Petrusbriefes,” Religionsgesch. Vers. u. Vorarb. 11.3 (Giessen, 1911) 69f., to link the present passage with certain elements (λίϑοι ἔμψυχοι, etc.) in oriental mystery cults, has been effectively discountenanced by Dölger, F. J., Theol. Revue 15 (1916) 391. Among the numerous articles and studies on the Biblical lapis angularis I mention the most recent: Ladner, G. B., “The Symbolism of the Biblical Corner Stone in the Mediaeval West,” Med. Stud. 4 (1942) 43–60.

26 Among the Greek Christian writers Origen especially may be mentioned as having frequently discussed the λἰϑοι ζῶντ∊ς: De Princ. 2.11.3: GCS Origenes 5.186.15 Koetschau, ; In Lib. Iesu Nave hom. 9.1–3: GCS Origenes 7.346–348 Baehrens; Sel. in Psalm. (Ps. 26.4–6): MPG 12.1280A; Sel. in Ieremiam 29.4: MPG 13.577A; Comm. in Ioannem 1.36.265: GCS Origenes 4.47.5–8 Preuschen; (6.22.121: 132.21: ἄπιστοι λίϑοι); 10.35.228: 209.18; 10.39.266: 215.3; 10.39.268: 216.9; 10.40.273: 217.32; 13.13.84: 238.9.

27 Enarr. in Ps. XCVI 11: MPL 37.1244.

28 Serm. de Script. 24.1f.: MPL 38.162f.

29 Enarr in Ps. CXXI 4: MPL 37.1620f.

30 With this and the beautiful description that follows—not quoted here (to be found also in the Roman Breviary: Die II infra Octavam Dedicationis Ecclesiae, 2. noct.)—compare the detailed account of the building of the tower of the Church in Pastor Hermae, vis. 3.

31 Enarr in Ps. CXXX 1: MPL 37.1704.

32 Serm. de Script. 37.3: MPL 38.223.

33 But in Bede's commentary In Primam Epistulam Petri (MPL 93.48f.) the metaphor is applied to the faithful in general.

34 Feltoe, C. L., Sacramentarium Leonianum (Cambridge, 1896) 88.19–23 = MPL 55.89C. Regarding the difficulty of the dates of the commemoration of St. Stephen Protomartyr (Dec. 26), the Inventio of the same (Aug. 3), and the feast of Pope St. Stephen (Aug. 2), cf. Feltoe, ix and 196f.; also Rule, M., “The Leonine Sacramentary: an Analytical Study, ii,” Jour. Theol. Stud. 10 (1909) 54–57 The preface of Missa vi was called to my attention by the Rev. Dr. Leo F. Miller.

35 Cf. Feltoe, , 197

36 Enarr in Ps. LVII 5: MPL 36.695: Ibi primo Stephanus lapidatus est, et quod vocabatur accepit. Stephanus enim corona dicitur. Humiliter lapidatus, sed sublimiter coronatus. Cf. also Serm. CCXI 1: MPL 39.2140.

37 Carm. 17: CSEL 30.92 Hartel = MPL 61.488B.

38 A reminiscence, perhaps, of Deuteronomy 28.62: qui prius eratis sicut astra caeli; or of Zacharias 9.16: lapides sancti elevabuntur super terram.

39 Cf. Phillip, M., Zum Sprachgebrauch des Paulinus von Nola (353–431 n. Chr.) Tl. 1 (diss. Munich: Erlangen, 1904) 1942.

40 Walpole, A. S., Early Latin Hymns, (Cambridge, 1922) 377380; Julian, J., A Dictionary of Hymnology (New York, 1892) 1198–1200.

41 Walpole, , op. cit. 378.

42 Compare also the version (Walpole 378, Julian, 1199) of the Breviarium Metropolitanae ac Primatialis Ecclesiae Senonensis (1726):

Urbs beata, vera pacis Visio, Ierusalem;

Quanta surgit! celsa saxis Conditur viventibus:

Quae polivit, haec cooptat Sedibus suis Deus.

43 Described by Cagnat, R. from a squeeze sent by Gauckler, M.: Bulletin Archéologique du Comité des Travaux Historiques et Scientifiques 60 (1899) clxviii f. Cf. CIL 8.4 suppl. 23673; Diehl, E., Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres 1 (1925) 785 (= Diehl, Lateinische altchristliche Inschriften [21913] 345); Dessau 5732a; Engström, E., Carmina latina epigraphica post editam collectionem Buechelerianam in lucem prolata (Leipzig, 1912) 96. Concerning the ancient nymhaea read the article by Reuther, O. in RE 17.2 (1937) 1517–1524.

44 Bull. Arch. du Com., ibid. clxx; CIL 8.4 suppl. 23653.

45 No mention is made of any ruins of Christian edifices in the immediate vicinity. If such had been found also, one might think of the conversion of a nymphaeum into a Christian cantharus, a type of fountain or fountain-house erected, notably since the time of Constantine, in the atrium of basilicas and other forms of churches (cf. the illustrated article “Canthare” by Cabrol, F, DACL 2.2 [1910] 1955–69; Kaufmann, C. M., Handbuch der christlichen Archäologie [Paderborn, 31922] 175f.; 294f.; especially, too, Paulinus's letter of condolence to Pammachius, , Ep. 13.13: CSEL 29.94f. Hartel = MPL 61.215A).

46 Cf. the article “Donis dei (de)” by Leclercq, H., DACL 4.2 (1921) 15071510; also Kaufmann, C. M., Handbuch der altchristlichen Epigraphik (Freiburg i. Br., 1917) 417f.

5
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Vivum saxum, vivi lapides: The Concept of “Living Stone” in Classical and Christian Antiquity
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Vivum saxum, vivi lapides: The Concept of “Living Stone” in Classical and Christian Antiquity
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Vivum saxum, vivi lapides: The Concept of “Living Stone” in Classical and Christian Antiquity
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *