in Old Man's Love

Chapter 21 – The Green Park

sub dio

A Latin prepositional phrase meaning “under the open sky.” Mr. Whittlestaff prefers to speak to John Gordon about Mary Lawrie outdoors rather than in a men’s club. Although Mr. Whittlestaff eschews a social location that would reinforce gender and class, his use of Latin calls upon and reinforces the identity of educated gentlemen that he and John Gordon share. [RR 2018]


If I know what love is

In Vergil’s eighth Eclogue a goatherd sings a song of the girl Nysa, who once loved him, has jilted him, and is now marrying another; he remembers how they met as children, in an orchard picking apples, and Vergil’s verse is urgent and quick as the goatherd sings that he saw her, he died, and he was swept up by madness. And then the shepherd says nunc scio quid sit Amor, “now I know what Love is” (not what it was, he is in the moment of his memory), and he adumbrates that Love is a cruel god, born in desolation.  The goatherd’s song takes the pathos of pastoral love to an extreme. Does Mr. Whittlestaff in his own agitation speaking with John Gordon echo Vergil’s goatherd here? It is not the cruelty of Love nor of Mary that he laments, as the goatherd does, but still his narrative is that of the lover who loses, and here he faces the rival who will take her. Like the goatherd, as Mr. Whittlestaff knows his love he feels its loss. And the world he anticipates for himself is just as desolate as the goatherd’s god of Love is. [CMS 2018]

Source:  Vergil, Eclogue 8.43.