Wednesday, June 8, 2011

An Short Interview With Scott McGill Author of Virgil Recomposed About the Cento/Gospel Link

I am modest enough to admit that my favorite posts at this blog are the ones in which I question the acknowledged experts in a given subject. Perhaps one day I will have more time to interview people or at least give those who have greater authority a chance to develop posts here. Seriously. I would take posts from anyone who was an acknowledged expert in a given field, especially if their understanding differed from my own. That some people might not want to be associated with me because I am perceived as something of a 'loose canon' is perhaps understandable. Yet, to be fair - what kind of a person is going to be able to develop original, quality (if I can be so immodest) material every day at their blog if they were cautious, always thinking before they spoke or wrote?

Indeed people who are reading these posts on a regular basis should consider the reality that God makes everything for a reason. I used to think about that when I was dating exotic dancers. I would look and see this twenty something single mother working at an absurd occupation and wonder - what does God really think about this? Is he really sitting up in heaven on a throne condemning people for an absolutely necessary function in the world (i.e. exposing young males to the female anatomy and desensitizing them to feminine wiles). My conclusion was that God made everything for a reason or as my friend Nietzsche once mused - all things are necessary but something more necessary than others.

In any event, the offer is open to anyone who has expertise in a subject related to this I blog about to regularly post things here. As it is I will continue to send emails to professors who write books and articles on the stuff I, and presumably my readership, are interested (my Alexa statistics today are 446,580 worldwide ranking, 90,375 in the US good enough for 23rd place on the overall Biblioblog rankings). Here's an example of an 'interview' I recently arranged with Scott McGill Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Rice, expert on ancient centos and author of Virgil Recomposed (see above)

Stephan Huller: I want to thank you for answering a few of my questions about the link between ancient centos and the Gospel. I have been developing discussions at my blog with respect to the Church Fathers (Tertullian and Jerome as well as Irenaeus) and as manifested in the Christian centos which I consider to be a really fascinating topic. So let me start by asking if the gospels are not poems, why does Irenaeus use the cento to describe the composition of gospels? Are the examples of prose being reworked in this way?

Scott McGill: No, there are no examples, as far as I know, of prose centos in antiquity. If I remember correctly, Irenaeus' issue is with how interpreters make the Bible mean whatever they want it to mean, twisting its original content as centonists do the content of their sources.

Stephan Huller: The Commodian age in which Irenaeus lived seems to have been a period when cento compositions flourished. Are there any signs that the Emperor Commodus himself raised the status of centos to a 'higher art form'? Are we certain that even in the period centos were considered a debased art form?

Scott McGill: I'm not sure if cento composition flourished at that time: we might be able to date Hosidius Geta to around that Age, but other centonists (e.g., Ausonius, Proba, and Luxorius) come later. There is no indication that Commodus even knew about centos.

Stephan Huller: Does the fact that gospel material was reworked in the manner of centos imply that the gospel itself was held to be of equal value to the writings of Virgil and Homer by those engaging in these activities?

Scott McGill: I would say certainly yes, and probably of more value, although we should be careful to distinguish between religious and secular texts.

Stephan Huller: Are there examples of the works of lesser poets being centonized?

Scott McGill: Ovid talks about a cento he wrote from his friend Macer. The precise reference appears early in my book on the Virgilian centos, in a note in the introduction

Stephan Huller: Is there any reason to think that the other meaning of the original Greek root (= goad) was ever used in conjunction with the cento?

Scott McGill: I don't think so. The word comes from the Greek for "patchwork cloak."

That's a short encapsulation of my recent email 'interview.' As I said, I would prefer to have whole articles published here. But for the moment, that's the best I can do.

Email with comments or questions.

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