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St Augustine (d. 604) missionary and archbishop of Canterbury


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Virgil's Fourth or Messianic Eclogue

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Written 40 bc, celebrated the coming birth of a child who would bring back the Golden Age and preside over a world at peace. Christian scholars from Augustine to the present have read the poem as a prophecy of the birth of Christ, an interpretation that appeared the more plausible because of similarities to passages in Isaiah believed by Christians to be Messianic prophecies. It is possible that Virgil was familiar with the Septuagint text of Isiah. 7: 14 which predicts that a virgin will conceive, but it is more likely that he was drawing on Sibylline writings originating in a south Italian culture that had come under Phoenician influence.

Subjects: Literature

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