Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Droplets today, an ocean tomorrow

First a trickle, then a torrent, soon a cataclysmic deluge.

For the last fifteen years or so, I have been reading the books of ancient Greece, the Middle East and Rome, in careful, chronological order. Today, I finished with Suetonius’ account of the first twelve Caesars. And when I closed that book, I closed an era.

Surely the last few authors whose works I have read, would never have imagined that the starveling Christians whom they mention only briefly – and that in derision, condescension or disgust, as a new, obscure, loathsome sect of half-wits – would soon become the leaders of the Western world, including Rome itself, capturing the political and religious allegiance of virtually its entire population.

Imagine, the Moonies or some even more obscure, despised modern cult, rising to lead the world in the lifetime of your grandchildren.

Having concluded Suetonius, I step ahead to the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, a late Caesar to whom one of those Christians, Justin Martyr, actually wrote a petition/book/apology. Justin is one of the earliest extant Christian writers, if not the first, outside of the new Testament canon and pseudepigraphical scriptural works. I know nothing about him beyond his name and that brief detail. That will soon change and I will come to know others as well.

“Pagan” Rome will soon be a memory and I will be firmly inside a new world of literature, a genre carrying me right up to the so-called Middle Ages. At some point, the literature of Islam will have to occupy my attention, too.

What a ride I am in for!

1 comment:

Janice Thomson said...

The upside is all the knowledge you will have gained. Fascinating reading though!