Ortus Vergilii Mirabilis

(The Miraculous Birth of Vergilius)

Vergilius was born in Andes, a pagus (village) a little south of Mantua, the capitol of New Etruria, in Gallia Cisalpina (Transpadana) north of the River Po. Both his parents came from Gallia and were of the Celtic race.

His father was called Stimichon (or Istimicon) and also bore the names Vergilius and Maro, both of Etruscan origin. He was a Magus (Magician) and Astrologus (Astrologer), but also a Medicus (Physician); indeed he was of the class of Druidae (Druids). He was also called Figulus (Potter or Seal-maker), but the reason for this is a Mystery. (However, we may say that a Figulus is one who fingit: shapes, molds, creates and transforms - whether in matter, word or imagination.)

He worked for a courier of the state named Magius or Magus [Magician], and fell in love with his daughter, Magia Pollia (or Polla), also called Maia. Now the name Magia means "She Who has Power" or "Magic," and Maia means "She Who is Great," and it is said that Vergilius' mother was named for the Goddess Maia, or was descended from Her, or was the Goddess Herself, or one of the Fates (Fata, Fairies) or a Dryad. (See also, "Tela Incantata, The Enchanted Loom," below.)

Maia was very beautiful and before she married Stimichon her father kept her locked up in his villa. But Jove, who is called Maius (He Who is Great), saw her and fell in love. So He changed Himself into a shower of flakes of gold-leaf, which blew in through the window and settled in the wine that Maia held in a cup in her hand. She thought it was very beautiful, and thinking on what she knew of the alchemical Aurum Potabile (Drinkable Gold), that it would transform her life, she drank it quickly. Suddenly a tingling sensation filled her stomach, but then concentrated in her womb. Like a volcano that explodes and sends out streams of incandescent heat across the countryside, just so Maia's belly exploded in a burning pleasure that flowed out across her body. She writhed in agony and ecstasy until she was exhausted and fell asleep.

When she awoke, she knew she was pregnant. She confided what had happened to Stimichon, who was her doctor, and through astrology and other means he discovered the miracle that had occurred. Although he was already in love, now he was convinced to propose marriage so the two, Magus and Magia (i.e. Stimichon and Maia), might care for the child.

Throughout her pregnancy Maia had many strange dreams and visions, which Stimichon interpreted, but as she came near full term, she had a dream they could not understand: she dreamed that she gave birth to a laurel twig (virgula laurea), and that as soon as it touched the ground it sank roots into the soil, and quickly grew up into a tree, upon which appeared fruit and flowers in great profusion. Aetherial music accompanied the birth, and all the earth and all the Gods rejoiced.

They went to the famous poet and philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus, who is said to have been Maia's brother, and asked him the meaning of her dreams. He said, "You will soon bear a son; he will not be a ruler, but will become famous as a poet or artist, for these are the gifts of Phoebus Apollo. After he is born, take him to the most famous poets for his education. It is appropriate that he be called 'Virgilius' after the laurel branch (virgula laurea)."

Shortly thereafter, on the Ides of October [70 BCE], when Maia was traveling with Stimichon Medicus, she felt in her belly that the child was coming, so they turned off the road and went into an open ditch. She leaned with her right hand on a terebinth tree, and the infant came quickly, not crying like an ordinary child, and his birth was accompanied by many signs. Thus flowers bloomed where he first touched the ground and he walked immediately. His inner divinity was shown by a golden star on his forehead. That he was destined to be a Divine Man (Divinus) was apparent because he was born with teeth (a fact carefully concealed until he was grown, for otherwise he would not have lived), and because of his dark complexion. Three Dryads, including the Queen of the Dryads attended to the mother, and the Queen made a cradle of roses for the baby and a warming fire of laurel twigs, which crackled auspiciously. The three Dryads and the four Elements heaped blessings on the wondrous child. As was the custom in their region, the parents presented the child to the Gods and planted a poplar branch, which grew much more quickly than an ordinary tree, and became known as the Tree of Vergilius (Arbor Vergilii).

So the magician Vergilius was born of Maius and Maia as Mercurius had been born of Maius (Jove) and Maia (the Goddess), and the Magus and Magia (Stimichon and Maia) saw to his education as Lucretius had directed.

Magus and Magia named Publius Vergilius Maro in this way: "Publius" from his devotion to the state (a publica re) and "Puplius" from his large knee (a poplite grandi), for he was sturdy even as a child. And "Virgilius" from the laurel twig (virgula laurea), and because he was as modest as a virgin (virgo), for which reason he was also called Parthenos (Gk. Virgin); and "Vergilius" from Vere Gliscens, which refers to the fruitfulness of the Spring, because of his great learning. And "Maro" because of his eloquence or swarthy complexion.

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Last updated: Mon Nov 11 21:55:42 EST 1996