This is the third and final poem in the three poem cycle on the life, death, and resurrection of Christ (see introduction to d2_KinA_001 for more details). Metre: hexameter.
Iesu Christi Triumphus, Resurrectionem & Ascensionem complexus (n.d.)
Iesu Christi Triumphus, Resurrectionem et Ascensionem complexus
1Dicite, Io Paean, et Io ter dicite Paean, 1
excipiunt moestos foelicia gaudia luctus.
Nuper enim Domino patiente, elementa dolores
contestata suos; ludibria vulnera, mortem
5authoris luxere sui: concussa tremendum
infremuit tellus: venis horrore solutis
saxa dehiscebant, se fudit nubilus aer
in lachrymas: tetricis fuscae caliginis umbris 2
aether inhorrescit: Titania sidera tantum
10ingratae gentis scelus indignata tueri
subduxere faces orbi, tenebrisque profundis
damnavere diem, et caeca sub nocte recondunt.
Nunc autem, Domino surgente, elementa dolores
cernere erat posuisse suos: luctuque remisso
15certatim sacro sese exornare triumpho.
laeta renidet humus, vernumque induta decorem
foecundo luxu gratos exhalat odores:
Thura sinu fundit diti: genialia sudat
balsama, et effusam caeso de cortice stacten,
20nardumque, et casiam, et redolenti cinnama libro.
Per virides passim ramos, nemorumque recessus
alituum vocale genus sua gaudia certant
nativis variare modis: 3 tranquillus in alto
sternit aquas Nereus, metisque jacentia plangens
25littora praescriptis, placidis immurmurat undis. 4
Continet obstructo conclusos carcere ventos 5
aeolus, et tantum geniales mitior auras
indulget Zephyris, qui laxent arva tepore,
6 et blando exhilarent terras, pontumque susurro.
30Purior accendit flammis illustribus aether
sidera: clara suas remoratur Cynthia bigas
surgentem visura Deum: cum Phosphorus 7 alto
evocat Oceano Phoebum: noctemque morantem
luteolis Aurora comis impellit in undas.
35Interea abstrusas latebras squalentis Averni,
infernosque sinus subiit Deus: intima clarum
antra Stygis sensere Deum, miratur et horret
[p216] Dux Erebi caeleste jubar: terrentur Erynnes
luce nova, metuuntque sua sub nocte videri.
40inde redux positas captiva morte resumit
corporis exuvias totusque assurgit in auras
immotis tumuli claustris, 8 mox Phoebus Eoo
cardine, 9 flammiferos radiato crine jugales 10
deducens, toto nubes fugat aethere, flavos
45incinctus lauro crines, vibrataque ministras
Regis in obsequium spatiosa per aequora flammas.
Empyreo majora tholo solennia aguntur
caelituum choreis: festis concentibus hymnos
alternant, toto fervet gratissima caelo
50laetitia; aeternae gratantur limina vitae
iam tandem referata homini, reducique patere
caelestem in patriam reditum: tum debita sese
in studia accingunt superi; per inania visi
ire ministrantes, stipatoque agmine laeti
55obsequiis instare suis; sibi quisque triumphi
poscit ovans partem, tumulo hic immane recluso
saxum amolitur, vacuoque resedit in antro.
Cunarum hi monumenta ferunt; praesepia, pannos,
proque thoro lectam muscosis vallibus herbam
60praetendunt, alii conjecti in vincula Ditis,
expugnati Erebi, domitaeque insignia mortis:
lintea sanguineo sudore rubentia; quaeque
vincla sacras strinxere manus; scuticasque cruentas,
candentemque stolam, et saturatam murice laenam,
65velum oculis injectum, et spinea texta coronae,
et cannae sceptrum gemmato insignius auro,
augustamque crucem, clavos, medicataque felle
pocula, lethalique rigens hastile metallo:
humano generi parta argumenta salutis.
70At dum laetitiae tantae solamine blando
naturae pars nulla vacat, caeloque, soloque
ipse sernato mulcet Deus omnia vultu. 11
Solus homo, cui morte sua lethalia Christus
vulnera curari voluit, redivivus et Orco
75in caelum patefecit iter; sua gaudia nescit:
victorem nec nosse Deum, aut victricia signa
[p217] sustinet, aut toties monitus considere caelo.
Usque adeo mentis tenebris, scelerumque veterno
torpet, et occulti tabescit peste veneni.
80Ah miseram Isacidum sobolem, gentisque malignae
ingratum genus; insidum, mentisque protervae,
quo te praecipitem Furiae, in tua damna trahentes
livor edax, prava ambitio, vecorsque libido
egere, et caecis animi obduxere tenebris?
85Ut non undenam per ter trieterida vitae
exactae in terris, non tot miracula, letho
lumina dum solvit, 12 populo spectante patrata:
nec cum surgentem tumulo lux tertia vidit,
promissi manifesta fides, potuere feroces
90emollire animos, linguasve inhibere procaces.
Vixdum supremas aurora relegerat umbras,
nec totos terris subduxit Lucifer ignes;
ore habituque nitens, caelo cum missus ab alto
angelus occlusos aditus, tumulique recessus
95desertos pandit. tremulo circum undique motu
auditum mugire solum: terrore stupescit
consternata manus vigilum; trepidoque tumultu 13
maturat lymphata fugam: sibi visa renarrat
pontifici summo; verum monet ille taceri;
100et pretio inductos mendaci didere fama
in vulgus: vino et somno sub nocte gravatis
sublatum tumulo corpus. sic fraude maligna
impositum populo, nimium qui credulus illis 14
tot scelera ulturum justam commovit in iram
105vindicta graviore Deum. sed turba piorum
pulsat adhuc caelum gemitu, lachrymisque profusis
sollicita Dominum sub spe sibi moeret ademptum,
deserti donec sibi claustra revulsa sepulchri
visa, et caelestem se Magdalena ministrum
110admonuisse refert; redivivum in luminis oras
surrexisse Deum. tum cominus ora tueri
sacra datum, notasque audire, et reddere voces.
Continuo fida Petrus comitante caterva,
et, quem dilecto recubantem 15 pectore Christus
115fovit, Iohannes, magnis solatia votis
[p218] tanta sibi dum parta vident, luctumque resolvi;
liventem tabo vallem, pridemque nefastum
emensi clivum; cryptam venerantur apertam.
Dumque amor, et pietas, et spes avidissima voti
120efficit audaces, proni inclinantur ad oram
liminis interni, atque oculis penetralia fixis
undique lustrantes, solas sine corpore cernunt
sindonis exuvias, et linea vela sepulti.
His visis Solymas repetunt, sociisque labantes
125instaurant animos: luctantia gaudia moestis
alternant lacrymis, et adhuc gemibunda pavorem
corda premunt, renovatque graves mens anxia curas.
Interea facti totum vulgata per urbem
nuntia fama volat: 16 sed paucis credita, necdum
130discipulis firmata fides: haerentibus inter
spemque metumque animis, 17 prona cum luce coactis,
occlusis foribus medias se Christus in aedes
infert: attonitos luctuque metuque resolvit.
Et ne forte putent, vita sibi corpore cassa,
135lumina perstringi; liventia vulnera monstrans,
tractari jubet, et quaesitis vescitur escis. 18
Sic posita tandem laetis formidine pacem
impertit, sacram divini flaminis auram
afflat, et impurae dat posse piacula vitae
140eluere, et scelerum laxare aut stringere vincla.
Undeno e numero tanti solaminis expers
unus abest Didymus, nec credere velle fatetur,
quae narrant, reduci liceat nisi vulnera coram
contrectare manu; 19 vocemque haurire loquentis.
145At ne lethiferis haerentem cassibus 20 error
in mortem obfirmet, Deus ipse misertus amici,
palantem ceu pastor ovem ad consueta reducit
pascua; nec quamvis temeraria vota, refugit.
Ergo die octavo cum jam sub vesperis ortum
150assueta coiere domo, totiesque Magistrum
conspexisse datum, plagasque notasse recentes,
necdum persuaso Didymo, praesente recensent;
improvisus adest Dominus; seseque coronae,
ut prius, immiscet: nondum coeuntia Thomam
[p219] 155vulnera, et admota spirantes corporis artus
explorare jubet dextra, illaesamque tueri
firma mente fidem; nec sic divina caducis
metiri: aut Numen naturae viribus, orbem
quod regit et solo quae vult facit omnia verbo. 21
160Ille tremens primum manifesti Numinis ora
defixo notat obtutu, laetusque per artus
horror iit: 22 mox ut vivo praecordia sensu
intepuere Dei; supplex Dominumque, Deumque
agnoscit: justus damnans dolor improba mentis
165infirmae, nimiumque audacia vota retractat.
Deposcit veniam lachrymis; et pronus adorat.
continuo Deus in tenues evanuit auras. 23
Nec tamen hic immensus amor, vel cura suorum
substitit: affatu nunc hos solatur amico,
170instruit his animos dictis, et lumina pandit,
nec dedignatur socium se paupere cultu
instructis adhibere epulis: quin notior Orbi
ut foret indomiti faelix victoria lethi,
et suadet cunctis solennius ora tueri,
175sive quibus jam certa fides formidine mentes
solvit, sive etiamnum animis dolor anxius haesit,
conventum indicit condictis luce, locoque.
Terra frequens populis, et divitis ubere glebae 24
luxuriante ferax, qua se genialibus arvis
180irriguos late in campos Galilaea supinat,
undique surrecto latera ardua tollere clivo
Tabirium montem; 25 et mediis fastigia nimbis
insertare videt, summe cui vertice latus
vernat ager, spirant Zephyri, frondosaque rura
185perpetuo sub rore madent: hic nulla procellis
iura, 26 nec indulget Chloris sibi largius usquam.
Hic ubi divini speciem sibi Christus honoris
induit, et clara pridem sub luce refulsit,
conveniunt pietate graves, numeroque frequentes,
190ut jussa accipiant, 27 Dominoque fruantur amato:
qui jam conspicuum turbae se protinus infert
ore habituque sibi similis, tum talia fatur:
'O fratres, nostroque patri quaesita cruore
[p220] progenies: vestrae quae libamenta salutis
195sacravi, meminisse juvet, durate futuris
speque fideque malis: exemplo discite nostro,
quae venient, graviora pati; nec gratia deerit,
plena mihi concessa polo terraque potestas;
posse datum quodcunque libet. Ne cura metusve
200angat. Ubique adero. Pro nomine plurima nostro
afflictae subeunda manent vos taedia vitae. 28
Nullo fixa loco vobis domus: omnia vastis
terrarum quaqua se pandit finibus orbis
lustrare, et late in populos mea facta referre
205dispersis dabitur, nostrumque in ovile coactis
fonte sacro purgare animos, in numine trini
uniusque Dei, Patris, Natique, sacrique
flaminis, ut nostro aeternae qui scita salutis
ex ore hausistis, vobis doctoribus omnes
210accipiant gentes, rectumque insistere discant
vitae iter innocuae, atque errorum devia vitent.
Non vos aerumnae lassent, non saeva tyrannis
terreat in poenis, aut vis animosa potentum.
Ille ego, qui valida terras et sydera dextra
215fulcio: nec fida spe pectora fulta laborum
mole premi, aut duris patior succumbere rebus. 29
Perpetuo praesens adero, in vos caeca furentum
dum fervent odia, eludam: nec dia relinquet
gratia transmissos in saecula sera nepotes,
220flectet in obliquum dum se Sol igneus orbem,
alternasque vices luci praestabit et umbris.'
Deserit his dictis spectantum lumina, et omnis
turba Deum venerans divino assurgit honori. 30
Interea magno lux instauranda triumpho
225instabat, deciesque quater revolutus in ortus 31
Cynthius auricomo perfudit lumine terras: 32
cum Deus humanas patrio illaturus Olympo
induvias: qua se tollunt juga consita olivis,
despectantque cavas valles, quas murmure leni
230et foetis Cedron torrens interluit undis,
quos est dignatus primos legisse ministros,
sevocat, et memorans, quae mox peragenda manerent,
[p221] advenisse monet dimensum tempus ab aevo,
quo se subducat terris, caeloque receptus
235illos promissa divini Flaminis aura
imbuat, et fidas caelesti nectare mentes
plenius irroret. Solymis jubet ergo morari,
donec demisso lustrati Numine puris
ignibus afflentur, vivoque in corda vigore
240transmisso, casus deinceps firmentur in omnes.
Sic monitis, summi tandem fastigia collis
occupat, occiduas mundi conversus ad oras.
Majestate sua et vultu candente refulget:
crinis inardescit radiis: 33 sacra vulnera spirant
245ambrosiam: et toto desudat corpore nectar.
Quoque stetit visenda loco vestigia linquens,
in caelum jam carpit iter: spectantibus illis
mox tenui exceptus nebula per inane coruscum
fertur, et aereas sensim se tollit in auras. 34
250Se sternunt elementa Deo: mirata decorem,
et faciem insueto renovant perfusa sereno.
Panduntur caeli portae, totusque resultat
aether, Io, laeto Superum chorus agmine pompam
ducit, et auratis praeludit adorea pennis. 35
255Spectantum fugit obtutus, oculosque sequaces
destituit: cum vox ex alto audita stupentes
sollicitis vetat esse animis: Dominumve morari,
aut reducem simili cum majestate videndum
sperare, immissis donec mortalia flammis
260involvat suprema dies: quum nubibus idem
accinctus veniet scelerum quaesitor, 36 ut omnes
iudicet, et cuique ex merito vel praemia donet,
aut non elutae castiget crimina vitae.
Iamque serenati nusquam compage soluta 37
265aetheris astra subit, Laedaea ubi sydera claris
signavit faculis pietas, alternaque vitae
foedera, fraterni recolunt monumenta favoris.
Nempe infinitae fontem pietatis Olympum
hac decuit penetrare via; atque inferre trophaei
270signa sui, immensum nostri testantia amorem.
Qua fertur, lux alma nitet, diffusaque late
[p222] gloria caelestes accendit clarius ignes.
Sic tandem empyreas sedes atque enthea Divum
atria conscendit. Concursant undique turmae
275coelicolum: puris pars enitet ignea flammis,
astriferas innexa comas florente hyacintho:
pars plaudit choreas: festivos concinit hymnos
ordine quisque suo, et Panchaia dona ministrat.
Ipse pater, sancta quem majestate tremendum
280lucis inaccessae fulgor cicumfluus ambit;
complexus natum, solio sic infit ab alto:
'nate mihi dilecte, opifex, sapientia, virtus,
et proles aequaeva patri: quaecunque salutis
humanae poscebat amor, vel vindicis irae
285exegisse dolor nostrae de crimine posset,
iam tua dissolvit pietas: majora merentur
hae plagae: tanti est homini succurrere lapso.
Ergo mihi ad dextram consors confide perennis
imperii, dum justa tuos vindicta refraenet,
290et pedibus tritos ceu coenum proterat hostes.
Quumque dies extrema aderit; qua temporis orbe
exacto, 38 caelum et terras vaga flamma novabit,
tu, populos quoscunque parens tulit undique tellus,
(nam dabimus cunctis in corpora posse reverti) 39
295excitos tumulis, trepido clangore tubarum
iudicio sistes: justis sua praemia vitae
constitues: 40 sontes Erebi damnabis in umbras.'
Haec ubi fatus erat; rupere silentia laeti
concentu Superi, et proclives Numen adorant.
300Interea selecta manus, coetusque piorum
nusquam secedens, Solymis promissa moratur
flaminis aeterni spiracula, et enthea dona
sollicitat votis. Nec provida cura suorum
immemorem sinit esse Deum. Iam 41 Phoebus in orbem
305flammantes currus decimo traduxerat ortu;
quum Patri, Natoque Deus par Spiritus astris
dilapsus pleno, qua confedere coacti,
irradiat fulgore domum: crebrisque coruscans
ignibus, afflatu sensim se in pectora vivo
310insinuat, totis intermicat undique tectis
[p223] flammea linguarum species: possessa calescunt
corda Deo, et purae coelestia semina flammae 42
concipiunt: variis solvuntur in omnia linguae
quae populis Natura dedit discrimina: vocis
315ignotae gens quaeque sibi commerica reddi
obstupet, et patrium miratur in hospite schema.
Suspiciunt arcana Dei discrimine tanto
linguarum evolvi, et posita formidine promi
in vulgus, voluit quae gens Iudaea recondi.
320Alme Deus, Patris et Nati spiramen, et idem
naturae communis amor, qui pectora purgas,
expurgata foves, nostras pius elue fordes,
illustri, vivaque animos succende favilla:
propitio te posse frui, te tramite recto
325ducentem da velle sequi: ne laeva voluntas,
aut error, scelerum deflectat in avia gressus.
Tuque o Nate, Patris vis vivida, certa salutis
spes nostrae, nobis qui victima sola parentem
reddere pacatum poteras, caelumque mereri;
330affer opem, scelerumque gravi sub pondere pressum
blanda salutiferae levet indulgentia dextrae. 43
Iure meam rigido judex expendere vitam
nolis, indigni aut rationem exposcere servi,
sed mortis memor usque tuae miseresce precantis.
The Triumph of Jesus Christ, which comprised the Resurrection and Ascension
1Shout out hooray in triumph, and shout out hooray in triumph thrice more! Happy joys now follow our sorrowful lamentation! For recently while the Lord was suffering, the elements exhibited their distress, and they lamented the insults he suffered, and his wounds, and his death. For the shaken earth let out a frightful bellow; with its own veins opened up by the horror the rocks were splitting open; the gloomy air dissolved itself in tears; the heavens shuddered with the severe shades of a black gloom; and Phoebus and Phoebe, unable to watch the great wickedness of the ungrateful tribe without anger, removed the lights from their disk and punished the day with deep darkness, and they now bury it in pitch-black night.
13Now, however, as the Lord was rising, it was possible to see that the elements had put aside their own distress, and, divested of their lamentations, they eagerly beautify themselves for the sacred triumph. The blooming earth shines again, and having assumed spring's ornaments she exhales pleasing fragrances, and pours forth incense from her rich bosom. She emits festive balsam, and myrrh seeped out from fallen bark, and nard oil, a and the fragrant cassia, b and cinnamon with its fragrant bark. And throughout the green branches and the hidden woodland groves the singing race of birds sport in exchanging their joys in their differing native tones. In the deep Nereus spreads out his waters calmly, and beating the low-lying shore upon the appointed boundaries he murmurs through his gentle waves. Aeolus restrains the winds, locked up in his curtailing prison, and very kindly does he grant pleasant breezes to the Zephyrs alone, so that they may soothe the fields with their gentle warmth, and gladden land and sea with their pleasant whisper. More brightly does the ether fire up the stars with its remarkable flames. Glittering Cynthia stills her chariot to see God as he rises, while Lucifer summons Phoebus from the Ocean, and Aurora with her golden rays drives lingering night into the waves.
35Meanwhile God entered the hidden den and infernal bosom of filthy Avernus. c The deepest caverns of the Stygian gloom were exposed to God in his brightness, d and the [p216]Duke of the Lower World is amazed and stunned by the celestial brilliance. The furies recoil in terror at the unaccustomed light, and they are afraid to be seen in their accustomed darkness. Upon his return from that place he takes back the trophy of his body which was surrendered by the now captive death, and complete he now rises up into the air from the unmolested entrance of his tomb. Soon Phoebus, having bound his streaming golden locks with laurel, from the East conducts his chariot as it emits flames in its radiant slipstream, and he banishes the clouds from the entire ether; and he makes his attendant flames tremble in obedience to the King across the oceans far and wide.
47Greater festivities are conducted by the choir of the celestials in the Empyrean dome: in a festive chorus they sing hymns in harmony, and unrestrained joy lights up all heaven. They rejoice that finally the entrance to eternal life has now been opened to man, and that the path back to the heavenly fatherland is laid open for the returning exile. Then those above make themselves ready for their due devotion; and in their service they seemed to travel through space, and happily in their crowded march to pledge their allegiance zealously. Each one in exultation begs for a role in the triumph for themselves: this one rolls away the massive rock from the sealed tomb, and sits in its empty cave. Here some bear reminders of his infancy: holding out the manger, the swaddling, and the straw used for his mattress and picked from the grassy valley. Others bear the decorations and spoils of Dis thrown in chains, of Erebus defeated, and of death overcome: holding out the linen reddened by his bloddy sweat, the chains which bound the sacred hands, the blood-stained whips, the brilliant sacred robe, the cloak woven with purple, the veil thrown over his eyes, the thorns bound into a crown, the sceptre of reed more illustrious than bejeweled gold, the venerable cross, the nails, the cups laced with poisonous bile, and the spear rigid with its deadly metal - all evidence of salvation produced for the human race.
70And now, while no part of the universe abstains from the sweet comfort of such joy, both in heaven and on earth God himself becalms all with his tranqil countenance. Man alone - for whom Christ wished that their hellish fatal wounds be warded off by his own death, and for whom through his resurrection he made his way to heaven from Orcus - he does not know his own joys. For he does not have the ability to understand that God is victorious, nor understand the symbols of his victory, [p217]and is unable to interpret so many signs from heavens. He is still numbed by the darkness of his mind, by the torpor of his sins, and he is consumed by the curse of a hidden poison. Oh wretched offspring of the sons of Isaac, the ungrateful descendants of a cursed race! Faithless tribe of shameless mind, the Furies are dragging you headlong to your ruination! Where have your devouring hatred, your perverse vanity, your mad desire driven you? And to what end have your minds covered themselves in dim darkness? Since not often throughout the thirty-three years of his life passed on earth, e nor during the dimming of his eyes in death, were the people paying heed to the many miracles he produced, so even when the third light witnessed his rise from the tomb, and the truth of his promise was exposed, they were not able to soften their fierce spirits, nor curb their insolent tongues.
91Scarcely had Aurora yet traversed the final shadows of night, nor yet has Lucifer drawn away all the stars, when an angel, shining in face and all over, sent down from high heaven, opens up the closed entrance and reveals the empty inside of the tomb. All around and everywhere the earth was heard rumbling, and taken aback in terror the troop of guards grow amazed, and driven to madness in alarmed confusion they hasten their escape. They relate to the high priest what they saw, and he advises that the truth not be told, and that they send some men seduced by money amid the people with a false story that the body was removed from the tomb by those affected by wine and insomnia. Thus by a spiteful falsehood was a deception played upon the people, who themselves were too ready to believe them and who also roused God - who would avenge so many crimes with very grave retribution - to just anger. Yet still the troop of the faithful strike the heavens with their lamentation, and in profuse tears and frustrated hope they mourn the Lord torn from them, until the entrance of the vacated sepulchre is opened and revealed to them. Thereupon Mary Magdalen tells them that a heavenly messenger advised her that God had risen and returned to the regions of light. Then they were allowed to see the sacred face at close quarters, and to hear the message, and to make their reply. Peter, with his constant faithful troop in attendence, and John, whom Christ cherishes as he rests upon his beloved heart, as they behold that [p218]such relief has been brought forth in answer to their mighty prayers and that their grief is gone; after they had traversed the valley running blue with gore, and the ungodly hill, they then worship the open crypt. And while love, duty, and the greatest desire that their hope be fulfilled emboldens them, they are drawn towards the edge of the inner entrance, and surveying all around the inner sanctum with focused eyes they see only muslin clothing with no body inside, and the linen veil of the deceased.
124After seeing these things they make their way to Jerusalem and they restore the falling spirits of their comrades. In turn they express their joys, which struggle with their gloomy tears; and still their groaning hearts conceal their fear, and a troubled mind revives their burdensome worries. Meanwhile report of the event flew and spread out throughout the whole city, but was believed by few - for not yet has the disciples' faith been fortified. And with their spirits fixed between hope and fear, and gathered in the fading light, Christ enters into the middle of the room, although the doors were closed, and he frees them from their shock-induced sorrow and fear. And so that they did not chance to think that, because his life had left his body, their eyes were bound in sleep, he orders that his bluish wounds be inspected which he now shows them, and he eats some food which he asked for. Thus with their fear finally put aside, he bestows peace upon the joyous, blows upon them the sacred air of the divine flame, and both grants them the power to wash away the guilt of their tainted life, and to remove or loosen the shackles of their sins.
141From the eleven, Didymus f is absent and does not share in so great a consolation; and he makes it known that he is not inclined to believe what they tell him, unless upon his return he was allowed to touch the wounds on his own, and to take in his voice as he spoke. But lest his mistake bind him fast in death through deadly traps, God took pity on his friend, just like a shepherd leading a wandering flock back to their accustomed pasture; and although his opinions are rash, he does not shun him. Therefore on the eighth day, at the rise of the evening star, they gathered in their accustomed dwelling, where they were permitted to gaze upon the Master at leisure, and observe his recent afflictions; and they examine them again with the not-yet-persuaded Didymus in attendance. Suddenly the Lord is present, and he joins himself, just as before, to their assembly. He then orders Thomas to investigate all of his wounds, [p219]and also the breathing limbs of his body with out-stretched hands, and also to maintain his faith unharmed with a resolute mind - and not to judge divine things with the mortal; or the Divinity with the powers of nature, because he controls the universe and he makes everything he wishes with his word alone. Thomas, trembling, observes with a fixed gaze clearly the face of the Divinity, and a joyous shudder coursed through his body. As soon as his heart was warmed by the living mind of God, in supplication he acknowledges his Lord and God. Then rightly condemning his weak mind's impudence, he takes back his excessively rash opinions. In tears he begs for mercy, and he stoops down in supplication. Thereupon God disappeared into thin air. However his boundless love and care for his own people did not stop here. He comforts them with his friendly speech, furnishing their minds with these words, and he spreads out the light, and he does not refuse to take himself as a companion in a dinner arranged with impoverished refinement, so that the happy victory over fierce death would be better known, and he exhorts all to look upon his face more regularly, be it to those whose minds true faith now frees from fear, or those souls whom anxious sorrow still assails, and he imposes a covenant upon those promised to his light and cause.
178There is a land teeming with people, and abounding in the luxuriant wealth of rich soil, where Galilee with its fertile fields bends itself back towards well-irrigated plains, and in all directions it sees that the high sides have raised up the Taborian mountain g on upright slopes; and the peaks jutting out amid the middle of the clouds. And its broad fields greatly flourish on the summit, as the Zephyrs blow on it, and its leafy countryside is irrigated by an everlasting dew. Here the storms have no authority, and Chloris h never grants her favour too generously. Here, after Christ assumed the appearance of divine glory, and lately shone forth under the bright light, the venerable in piety assemble, crowded together in mass, so that they may receive his orders, and enjoy praising the Lord. Here then he took himself before the crowd, in appearance and face just like his former self, and he then says such things:
'O brothers, and race singled out by the blood of our father, [p220]may it please you to remember the sacrifices that I made for your salvation, and brace yourselves for future evils with both hope and faith. Learn by my example to endure those extremely onerous things which will come your way; and my grace will not be wanting. Full power over heaven and earth has been granted to me - and anything I wish can happen. Let no worry or care vex you. I shall be everywhere. The many vexations of miserable life to be endured in my name await you. There is no fixed home for you in any place. The task is given to you scattered people to wander everywhere the world extends itself to its vast borders, and to relate my deeds among the peoples far and wide; the task is given to you who were driven into my fold to purge your souls in my sacred well, in the triple divinity of one God, Father, and Son, and the sacred flame, so that all the tribes may accept and learn to keep on the right path of a blameless life, and avoid the foolish path of the errant, with you as their teachers, you who have drawn the tenets of eternal salvation from my lips. May hardships not weary you, nor savage tyranny deter you, nor the hostile violence of the powerful. I am he who supports the stars and the earth with his strong right hand. I do not suffer hearts held up by faithful hope to be oppressed by a mountain of travails, nor for them to succumb to harsh things. I shall be here, in attendence, for ever, as long as the blind hatred of the fierce rages against you, I shall frustrate them. Nor will my divine favour abandon your ancestors down through later ages, as long as the fiery Sun shall turn itself across the earth's curve, and maintain the alternating turns of light and shadows.' After he said these things, he vanished before the eyes of those watching, and the whole crowd, praising God, rise up to honor the divinity.
224Meanwhile the light that was to be renewed was drawing nigh to its great triumph, and Cynthius, i having travelled back to his point of origin 14 times, j now bathed the earth with his golden-haired light. Then God, intending to give up his human garments for his native Olympus, takes aside those followers whom he first thought worthy to choose (mindful of what still remained to be done), where the peaks planted with olive trees rise up, and overlook the hollow valleys, k which the Cedron river l flows through in waves filled with gentle murmur, [p221]and he tells them that the time determined long ago had come, in which he would take himself from earth, and initiate his return with the breath of the divine flame sent down from heaven, and fully bathe the faithful minds in celestial nectar. Therefore he orders them to remain in Jerusalem until, illuminated by the Divinity sent down, they are touched by pure fires, and, with a living vigor transmitted into their hearts, finally they are fortified for all eventualities.
241Having spoken thus, he finally scales the top of the highest hill, facing towards the western limits of the world. He shines forth with his gleaming face and his own majesty: he blazes through the rays of his hair; his sacred wounds emit ambrosia; and nectar exudes from his whole body. And in the spot upon which he stood he leaves behind his remains to be seen there and he then makes his way to heaven. Soon he was caught sight of by those watching and is borne on a thin cloud through the glittering emptiness of space, and he raises himself gradually towards the airy upper world. The elements prostrate themselves before God. Awestruck at his beauty and bathed in his unaccustomed light they restore their own appearance. The gates of heaven are opened, and the whole ether resounds with hoorays, as the chorus of heaven-dwellers lead a procession in a joyous march, and his golden-winged praises sing out before all. He flees from the sight of the spectators and abandons their searching eyes, as a voice heard from above warns the startled people not to have troubled souls, nor to expect the Lord to linger any longer, or to expect his return to view in similar majesty - at least until the final day envelops mortal affairs in cast-down flames, when he will come surrounded by clouds as the examiner of sins, so that he may judge all, and assuredly distribute to each the rewards they deserve, or at least not punish the offences of a purified life.
264And now, with his integrity in no way undone, he approaches the stars of luminous heaven, where piety marked out the constellation of Leda's sons m with bright torches, and the fixed laws of their existence repeatedly bring before our minds monuments to brotherly love. For it very much pleased him to enter Olympus, the fountain of boundless piety, by this way, and to carry through there the signs of his victory, testifying his immeasurable love for us. And wherever he is borne, a nourishing light shines out, and his [p222]glory spread out far and wide ignites the celestial fires so brightly.
273In this way did he finally ascend to his empyrean home and the divinely-inspired halls of the Gods. Throngs of heaven's inhabitants rush in all directions: the fiery region lights up its pure flames, having bound its star-bearing plume with a garland of hyacinths, as another region applauds this stellar whirl, and they each sing a festive hymn in harmony, while exchanging Panchaian gifts. n Even the father, formidable in holy majesty, all around whom a beam of unapproachable light flowed, after embracing his son, speaks thus from his high throne: 'My prized son, creator, wisdom, virtue, and an offspring equal in age to his father, whatever a love for human salvation was demanding of you, or at least whatever the wrath of our avenging anger could have exacted from the crime, your piety has now repaid. These wounds of yours are worthy of greater things; such a high price it is to help fallen man! Therefore, put your faith in me and, at my right hand, share in my eternal empire, while due punishment curbs your enemy, and filth overwhelms them, after they've been trampled underfoot. And when the final day comes, and when the cycle of time has been measured out and a wild fire purifies heaven and earth, may you sit in judgement upon people - whatever people mother earth has brought forth in every place: for we will bestow upon everyone the ability to return to their bodies - after they have been roused from their tombs by the fearful cry of trumpets. Then you will create the prize of life for the just, and damn the guilty to the shades of Hell.'
298After he had spoken these words, in harmony the happy heaven-dwellers broke their silence, and bowing down they worship the Divinity. Meanwhile the select band, and the ever faithful assembly of the pious, await at Jerusalem for the promised breath of the eternal wind, and they solicit their divine rewards in prayers. And his care for his own people does not allow God to forget them. After Phoebus had led his blazing chariot over the globe for the tenth time, when God the Spirit, equal to the Father and the Son, having glided down from the stars in full splendour, shines out his light upon the house where they sat assembled, then, as he sparkles with his fiery aura, he gently enters their hearts with its living glow, and in all directions [p223]tongues of flames were seen to flicker throughout the whole house. Their hearts, possessed by God, grow warm, and they receive the heavenly seeds of his pure flame. Thereupon they dissolve into every division of language that Nature has given to the various peoples. And the people wonder that they speak to each other with unrecognisable speech, and are astonished at the recognisable speech patterns of the foreigner. They then perceive that the mystery of God is unfurled in such a great division of languages, and is given to the people with their fear put aside - the mystery of God which the Tribe of Judaea wished to hide!
320Nourishing God, the source of both Father and Son, and all Nature's love, you who cleanse our hearts, and who nourish them once cleansed, dutifully wash away our squalour, and with your bright, living cinders fire up our spirits, and allow us to be able to benefit from your kindness, and grant us the desire to follow your lead on the right path, so that our foolish desire, or our error, may not divert us into the wilderness of sin. And you, o living force of the Father, the certain hope for our salvation, you who were able to pacify your father by your own sacrifice alone, be worthy of heaven and offer your aid, and may the sweet tenderness of your salvation-bringing right hand unburden those oppressed by the great weight of their sins. May you not judge my life by the inflexible rule of law, nor prosecute an unworthy servant, but rather, while you think upon your own death, take pity upon my prayers.
1: Ovid, Ars Amatoria II.1
2: Buchanan, Psalms 18.26
3: Cf. Statius, Silvae I.2.247-8
4: Ovid, Metamorphoses XI.567
5: Ovid, Metamorphoses XV.346
6: 'Zehpyris' in DPS.
7: See Cicero, De Natura Deorum II.20.53 for the positive identification of Phosphorus with Lucifer/Mercury.
9: Cf. Statius, Thebaid I.157-8
10: Cf. Buchanan, Fratres Fraterrimi V.4
11: Statius, Thebaid I.202. Comparison with the original context of Statius' passage shows the extent to which King has inverted the verbal action for dramatic effect.
12: Virgil, Aeneid X.418
13: Cf. Statius, Thebaid II.311
14: Virgil, Eclogues IX.34
15: Cf. Lucretius, De Rerum Natura I.3, for the idea.
16: Virgil, Aeneid VIII.554
17: Virgil, Aeneid I.218
18: Luke 24.36-43
19: This and the previous three lines: John 20.24-5.
20: Buchanan, Psalms 18.9-10
21: Buchanan, Psalms 18.82-3
22: Statius, Thebaid I.494
23: Ovid, Fasti II.509
24: Virgil, Georgics II.185; and Aeneid I.531
26: Statius, Silvae I.3.29
27: Buchanan, Psalms 104.10
28: Ovid, Metamorphoses X.482
29: Buchanan, Psalms 18.77-8
30: Statius, Thebaid II.260
31: Statius, Thebaid I.235
32: Lucan, Bellum Civile VII.214-5
33: Virgil, Aeneid VIII.623
34: Virgil, Aeneid II.699
35: Buchanan, Psalms 104.4
36: A classical paraphrase of: Revelations 1.7
37: Cf. Buchanan, Psalms 18.19
38: Virgil, Aeneid VI.745
39: Virgil, Aeneid VI.750
40: Virgil, Aeneid I.461
41: This line and the next fifteen are a classicising paraphrase of Acts 2.1-8.
42: This image of seeds that created the virgin conception has a long literary history. See: Poliziano Nutricia 74; Joseph Scaliger, Ad Paulum Melissum 30.53; and finally the phrase is used in a different context in Ovid, Fasti II.383.
43: Buchanan, Psalms 18.45
a: Nard, or spikenard, is a himalayan plant used to make an extremely expensive perfume. Jesus is anointed with it in two separate episodes in the New Testament: once by Mary, the sister of Lazarus (John 12:1-10); and again by an unnamed woman (Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9). Nard is also mentioned in the Song of Solomon 4:14.
b: Cassia bark is another form of cinnamon.
c: Lake Avernus near Cumae was believed to be an entrance to the underworld (see Aeneid VI), but the name came to be synonymous with the underworld in general.
d: There was a common conception (though one lacking scriptural evidence) that Christ descended into the realm of the dead between his death and resurrection, which in the Apostles Creed was rendered as 'hell' (inferos). There is still controversy over this issue.
f: Thomas the Apostle, also called 'Didymus' (Greek for 'twin').
g: Mount Tabor, 11 miles west of the Sea of Galilee, traditionally believed to be the site of Jesus' ascension.
h: Goddess of flowers.
i: Another name for Apollo, or the sun.
j: From the resurrection until Jesus' final ascension into heaven a period of roughly forty days passed, although accounts of his post-resurrection appearances vary considerably. King suggests here that two weeks pass after he appears to the disciples, an event which takes place after Mary Magdalen and another unspecified Mary discover his empty tomb.
k: This is a reference to the so-called 'Great Commission', most fully detailed in Matthew 28:16-20, where Jesus assembles the remaining eleven disciples on an un-named mountain in Galilee and commands them to spread his gospel to all nations, giving them divine powers to do so.
m: The constellations Pollux and Castor.
n: Panchaia was a fabled island in the Erythrean Sea, east of Arabia, rich in jewels, perfume and other resources.