Ossa Vergilii

(The Bones of Vergilius)

Contents of this Book:

i. Mors Vergilii (The Death of Vergilius)

In the year 19 B.C. the Emperor Augustus was visiting Athens, and consulted with Master Vergilius, who was also there. Because of the Emperor's need for Necromancer's aid, the two departed for Rome, but Vergilius became ill and died at Brundisium a.d. XII Kal. Oct. [Sept. 20], when he was 51 years old. But the Master had directed that his Bones and Ashes be taken to Neapolis and placed in a Tomb, which he had already prepared there (for he knew when his life would end). His Tomb is between the first and second mile markers from Neapolis on the Via Puteolana [road to Puteoli].

The Tomb was in the shape of a small temple, in the center of which the jar [orca] containing his Bones was supported by white marble columns. By the Poet's direction, the jar had been inscribed:

Mantua me genuit, Calabri rapuere, tenet nunc
Parthenope, cecini pascua, rura, duces.

Mantua bore me, Calabria siezed me, now
Parthenope holds me; I sang of flocks, fields, generals.

A century later, the poet Tiberius Catius Silius Italicus [25/6-101 CE], who had been Proconsul of Asia, purchased the villa and Tomb of Vergilius, so that he might devote his life to the Master's worship, for Vergilius had become a Hero. In addition to caring for the Shrine, he instituted yearly sacred rites on the birthday of Divine Vergilius. However, the Tomb was neglected by the Barbarians, and by the first Millennium after our Savior's death, its location had been lost.

ij. Oppugnatio Neapolis (The Siege of Neapolis)

Now this is the story of how the Bones were found and removed from the Tomb in recent times [12th cent.]. In A.D. 1061 the Norman Roger Guiscard [c.1031-1101] had invaded Sicily and by 1091 he had driven out the Saracens [Saraceni] and therefore was made Count by his brother Robert. Later, in A.D. 1130, his son Roger II became Sicily's first king, crowned by the Antipope Anacletus II. After defeating Pope Innocent II in A.D. 1139 Roger II was granted all the Norman kingdoms of Southern Italy.

Although Neapolis had never been subdued by force of arms, Roger II was very powerful, and so Sergius, the Magister Militum [Master of the Soldiers] of Neapolis, submitted to him. However, the ancient city rebelled in 1132, and although King Roger ravaged all of Southern Italy, he was unable to conquer Neapolis. Indeed, thanks to the Enchanted Egg and Walls, the city was able to repel Roger's fleet of 60 ships, but the countryside was so devastated that Neapolis again petitioned for peace. In the spring of 1135 she rebelled again and Roger laid siege to the walls of the city, but through Necromancy [cf. "The Magic Fly"] the people sent pestilence and a plague of flies against the soldiers, and so Roger's army was forced to withdraw. He attacked again in the summer, by land and also bringing an enormous naval fleet, but it was scattered by a magical tempest. Thus Neapolis remained undefeated, but blockaded throughout 1136.

iij. Inquisitio Ossium Vergilii (The Quest for Vergil's Bones)

[exterior of Vergil's tomb] Because of his defeats, King Roger realized that Neapolis had supernatural protection, and that its source was the hidden Bones of Vergilius, the city's patron. For in his opulent coronation ceremony in Panormus [Palermo], he had learned that that city was protected by a Hero. For Panormus possessed the Bones of Aristoteles [Aristotle], which were held in a vessel hung in mid-air in a sanctuary that had originally been a Pagan temple, but was later a Christian church, and then a mosque. The people prayed to these relics for many reasons, but chiefly for protection. For Aristoteles was the Hero who protected Panormus, just as Orestes' Bones gave victory to the Spartans, and Alcmene's Bones guarded Thebes; so also other cities are protected by the Bones of Orpheus, Pelops, Antaeus, Hector, Hesiod, Plato and others.

Now King Roger supported learning of all kinds, but especially of the Saracens, including their secret lore; and he was acquainted with many scholars and professors. Therefore he sent Ludowicus, an English scholar of the Stoic School, who had exiled himself to Apulia [the region around Naples], to obtain Vergilius' bones through trickery. For this philosopher had told him that after many vigils and fasts he could locate Vergilius' Bones, which he wanted to take to France. Therefore King Roger gave him a letter granting permission to seek the Bones.

Indeed, through his secret arts Ludowicus quickly found the Bones in a grave mound in the midst of a mountain near the city. Beneath Vergilius' skull he found a book, the Master's Ars Notaria, as well as other Secrets [alia Arcana]. When Ludowicus had taken these things from the Tomb, the Neapolitan people became frightened that the city would suffer some disaster, so Sergius, the Magister Militum, gathered a great number of people and, in spite of Roger's plotting, they took the Bones from the Englishmen.

[interior of Vergil's tomb] Although Ludowicus protested that he wanted the bones for only 40 days, and that he hoped that by means of them the whole of Vergilius' Magic would be revealed, his request was denied, and in the end he was granted only the book. Later, Joannes Neapolites [John of Naples], who was a Cardinal in the time of Pope Alexander, showed some parts of it to Gervasius Tileburiensis [Gervase of Tilbury, fl. 1200; see also "The Magic Fly"], who tried the spells and found them to be most efficacious. (Gervasius, in turn, has passed them on to me, Alexander Neckam, and I too shall shortly pass them on, whatever parts of the Ars Notaria have been preserved.)

Then the people put the Bones in a leather bag [culleus] and took it to the Castrum Ovi [the Castello dell'Ovo or Castle of the Egg] and placed them for protection in a wooden Ark [Arcus ligneus] in the Shrine of the Egg [Sacellum Ovi]. (Others say that the Castle of the Egg was a ruin at that time, and that it was Robert the Wise [1309-43] who took the jar [orca] containing Vergilius' Bones, some columns and small statues from the ruined Tomb and placed in the Castle, which had been rebuilt by William I in A.D. 1154. -- J.O.)

In spite of Roger's thwarted attempt to obtain the Bones, in 1139 Neapolis again sought peace, and the following year he was allowed to make his triumphal entry into the city, although the price for this triumph was many favors for the Neapolitan nobles.

iv. Ossa Postea (The Bones in Later Years)

[path to Vergil's tomb] So much from Alexander Neckam. The Bones continued to protect the Neapolis, for when in A.D. 1191 Henry VI of Germany marched from Rome and attacked the enchanted Walls, his army was destroyed by a devastating plague, and he was forced to retreat. He returned in 1194, bringing Conrad of Querfurt, chancellor to the emperor, who knew the secret of the Bones and through Necromancy neutralized their protection of the Walls. (Conrad had been selected to be Henry's tutor by his father, Frederick Barbarossa, which is why Henry was so well schooled in ancient learning; Conrad was later elected Bishop of Hildesheim.) Thus Neapolis fell to Henry, and when Conrad inspected the city's Palladium [i.e. the Egg], he discovered that there was a minute crack in the glass Ampule, breaking its Hermetic Seal, and it was this flaw that had allowed Conrad's Necromancy to enable Henry's conquest of the city.

When Francesco Petrarca [Petrarch] returned to Neapolis around A.D.1360, he visited again the Tomb of Master Vergilius, where he had first paid homage with Robert the Wise, and he planted a laurel, sacred to Apollo; many have come since to take a cutting from this holy tree, and the Laurel Twigs [Virgulae Laurea, a pun on Virgil] have travelled to many lands. His friend Giovanni Boccaccio also visited. We know that this place is the authentic Shrine of Divine Vergilius, for at the end of the sixteenth century the Bishop of Ariano still had ancient documents to prove it.

To this day Vergilius' Bones can be seen in the Castle, where they are protected by an iron cage. When the Bones are exposed, the wind wails and the sea is whipped into a frenzy, and this tempest continues until the bones are restored to their resting place. Many reputable people have verified this, including Conrad of Querfurt.

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Last updated: Mon May 17 21:07:03 EDT 1999