Vergil: Father of the West
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By Theodor Haecker || Translated by Anthony Giambrone, O.P.
Vergil, Father of the West may best be classified as a work transcending classification. As its translator Anthony Giambrone, O.P., remarks in his Introduction: Haecker has written a book about a poet and his poetry which is also “a book about love and work, tragedy, piety, and providence.” To the question, “Vergil—Father of the West? Why Vergil?”—Haecker responds: “It is a title cum fundamento in re.… Vergil is princeps in every respect.” Vergil is both vision and voice for that order and power called “the West.” Haecker reveals civilization’s urgent need for that vision and voice in order to return to and rest upon its divine foundations.
As Augustine said, this poeta nobilissimus did not speak simply by or for himself, non a se ipso; and if there is one thing Haecker teaches us about the West’s Father, it is this. Vergil points beyond himself with an overflowing fullness. (Anthony giambrone, O.P.)
To the unabridged translation (the first in English) of the title text, Giambrone has added the essay “On the Foundations of the West” from Haecker’s What Is Man?, and crowned it with Vergil’s Fourth Eclogue. Taken together, these elements reveal the ambitious trajectory of Haecker’s project across human culture: “to reawaken in dazed Western minds the visions of our lost poetry of the eternal in man.”
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Theodor Haecker (1889–1975) was a German writer, translator, and critic. His work in translating Newman’s Grammar of Assent drew him to the Catholic Church, leading to his conversion in 1921. An adamant opponent of the Third Reich, he condemned the Nazi Party in his writings What Is Man? and Journal in the Night.
Anthony Giambrone, O.P., is a priest of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph. He is the author of A Quest for the Historical Christ (Catholic University of America) and many other academic and popular publications, as well as the translator of Georges Bernanos’ Saint Dominic (Cluny). Fr. Giambrone currently serves as professor of New Testament and vice-director of the École Biblique in Jerusalem.
Paperback & E-book: 214pp.
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