Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tacitus on the Anglican Communion

Mark Goodacre on his NT Gateway blog (see sidebar to this blog), has posted this entry:

"Tacitus on In Our Time

Last week's In Our Time on Radio 4 dealt with Tacitus:

“The story I now commence is rich in vicissitudes, grim with warfare, torn by civil strife, a tale of horror even during times of peace”. So reads page one of The Histories by the Roman historian Tacitus and it doesn’t disappoint.

Tacitus’ Rome is a hotbed of sex and violence, of excessive wealth and senatorial corruption. His work is a pungent study in tyranny and decline that has influenced depictions of Rome, from Gibbon’s Decline and Fall to Robert Graves’ I, Claudius.

But is it a true picture of the age or does Tacitus’ work present the tyranny and decadence of Rome at the expense of its virtues? And to what extent, when we look at the Roman Empire today, do we still see it through his eyes?


Catharine Edwards, Professor of Classics and Ancient History at Birkbeck, University of London

Ellen O’Gorman, Senior Lecturer in Classics at the University of Bristol

Maria Wyke, Professor of Latin at University College London"

Does it not strike you, as it strikes me, that Tacitus could be writing the story of the Anglican Communion in 2008? But, you might say, where is 'senatorial corruption' in the story of the Communion? Well, how about this report from an interview with Bishop Errol Brooks of the Diocese of the North East Caribbean and Aruba,

"I think, if I understand Bishop Brooks rightly, he is suggesting that there is a crisis of confidence in the communion caused by the fact that people “are not afraid to say things and not keep their word.” When he was young, he was always taught that “a man's word is his bond.” It is necessary he said, to “turn on the light in the dark places.” "

Perhaps history does move in circles and not in a straight line.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You can listen to 'In our time' via the BBC website 'Listen Again' section. It's excellent for 'intellectual history' buffs - great discussion a few weeks back on Kierkegaard.