Universitatea “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” din Iaşi, Facultatea de Filosofie “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iasi, Faculty of Philosophy
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3-4 / 2011
An Imperial Exegesis
The following study examines Oratio Constantini, a discourse attributed to emperor Constantine the Great. The emphasis is put on the fact that in the Greek translation of the royal discourse, Vergil’s text of the fourth Eclogue has been ruthlessly rewritten with the purpose of giving the content a new meaning. Though a messianic poem, the fourth Eclogue doesn’t tell of the birth of Jesus Christ, as the emperor would have us believe. It couldn’t have been possible. The Christian exegets (the emperor Constantine is beyond doubt one of them) bring forth another perspective and a new standpoint regarding the content. Ultimately the study concludes that by the commentator rewriting Virgil’s poem, the text itself derives from the significance attributed to it and not the meaning from the text.
Keywords: Oratio Constantini, exegesis, literal reading, allegorical reading, meaning, significance.
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