Sunday, December 2, 2012

About a Statue and an Apple

      Alexander tells about the state of things where Virgilius built a notable palace in the city of Rome. In the middle of which stood a certain statue which was named for a goddess of the Romans and who held a golden apple in her hand, whereby all around the palace there was a statue for every region holding a wooden bell in its hand. Indeed whenever some region was moved to plots against the might of Rome, the image for that region was shaking its bell and, at that time, a soldier would go forth from a bronze horse set on the top of the aforementioned palace and would shake a spear and would look over at that region.
Immediately the citizenry of Roman would arm itself so that it could subdue that region.

Virgilius is the poet of the Aeneid, who in the Middle Ages was thought to have been a sorcerer due to his name having been altered from Vergil to Virgil. Virgil was thought to have been derived from virga, a twig, staff or magic wand.
Among the many things the sorcerer Virgil is said to have done is to have built a palace in Rome with magical statues, representing all the provinces of Rome, which would ring its bell if ever its people wanted to rebel against Rome.
The framing of this narrative is a bit odd. The story isn't really about the apple or the statue of the goddess with the apple. The latin is very loose. It is from the Gesta Romanorum. The goddess with the golden apple is likely Venus and the golden apple is likely to be quince. 'Pomus' really means fruit and not specifically an apple. There was a word for apple and that was 'malum'. The statues that would warn Rome if rebellion was brewing was called the Salvacio Romae. Or Salvatio. Sometimes  't's' became 'c's' in the middle ages.
I don't know who Alexander is. Surely he is not Alexander the Great because Virgil lived long after he did but I won't rule him out. Logic did not always factor into these tales.
Addendum: I will go with Alexander Neckam, who seems to get the blame for the Virgil as sorcerer tales.


Anachronist said...

I admit the tale is strange. Venus was supposed to watch over the Romans so I am not surprised her statue was in the middle of that palace but why to mention it at all just to speak about something else? Weird. Alexander is for sure not A.the Great.

The Red Witch said...

there are a few stories in the Gesta that are about Alexander.
Gaius Julius Caesar's family, the clan Julii, claimed descent from Venus.
I think the story of the statues is interesting. One wonders where that arose from. And I have spotted an example of a word with a 't' that became a 'c' in some sources in the Middle Ages: Salvatio. Futuo and salvatio, what a combination.

The Red Witch said...

The Alexander is probably Alexander Neckam. An English scholar who predates the Gesta by two centuries.