So, I'm reading the book IV of Virgil's Georgics and was puzzled by the "God" mentioned in the following lines (starting at line 219 of James Rhoades' translation)

Led by these tokens, and with such traits to guide, Some say that unto bees a share is given Of the Divine Intelligence, and to drink Pure draughts of ether; for God permeates all- (...)

A few lines later it's also stated that "all things to Him return". Who is this God? Jupiter was of course the supreme deity of Roman religion, but I wasn't aware of any belief that would explain the "God permeates all", as he is usually depicted in human-like form, I think. Nor would ancient romans expect to "return" to him in a literal way. This sounds a lot like the christian view of God. Is Vergil referring to some element of their religion? Some aspect of Zeus (or other God) that would have been recognized by his readers)? Is he using "God" as an analogy for Nature or some literary device? Any chance that this part was added later, by a christian? I'm really intrigued.

1 Answer 1


Original 219-222:

His quidam signis atque haec exempla secuti

esse apibus partem divinae mentis et haustus

aetherios dixere; deum namque ire per omnes

terrasque tractusque maris caelumque profundum.

The word deum here is 2nd genitive masculine plural, so should be translated as of the gods.

Rhoades (1841-1923) has been described as "a conventional poet who wrote of imperial war in a conservative idiom and a grandiloquent style". As many Western translators before him, he probably made his translation align with the Judeo-Christian pantheon.

  • Thanks, that solves it!
    – Othin
    Apr 4, 2020 at 15:09

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