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By György Spiró

A literary sensation in Hungary, György Spiró’s Captivity is either a hugely refined old novel and a gripping page-turner. Set within the tumultuous first century A.D., among the 12 months of Christ’s demise and the outbreak of the Jewish conflict, Captivity recounts the adventures of the feeble-bodied, bookish Uri, a tender Roman Jew.

Frustrated along with his hapless son, Uri’s father sends the younger guy to the Holy Land to regain the family’s status. In Jerusalem, Uri is imprisoned by means of Herod and meets thieves and (perhaps) Jesus earlier than their crucifixion. Later, in cosmopolitan Alexandria, he undergoes a scholarly and sexual awakening—but also needs to get away a pogrom. Returning to Rome eventually, he unearths a wholly unforeseen inheritance.

Equal elements Homeric epic, brilliantly researched Jewish background, and picaresque experience, Captivity is a dramatic story of relatives, destiny, and fortitude. In its weak-yet-valiant hero, enthusiasts should be reminded of Robert Graves’ classics of historic Rome, I, Claudius and Claudius the God.

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75; cf. 1). Milton's dominance as a model for translators can influence the politics as well as the vocabulary of the English Virgil. 9 Robert Andrews, a Presbyterian minister, wrote in the preface to his The Works of Virgil (1766) that Virgil 'never inspires in his intelligent and unaffected Admirers any other than the spirit of liberty'. As befits an enemy of untrammelled royal authority Andrews presents Juno as a would-be absolute monarch rankling over an infringement of her royal prerogative ('Say Muse!

S. 35 We can document how for 2,000 years quotations of Virgil have provided solace or inspiration or material for reflection for thousands of readers in a fashion which cannot be confined to their paraphrasable meaning. We may end in Arnoldian fashion by citing a few famous instances of such possible 'touchstones': 36 take Silenus' picture of the new-created world in Eclogue 6: iamque novum terrae stupeant lucescere solem . . Take the picture in the Georgics of hilltop towns and rivers flowing under ancient walls: tot congesta manu praeruptis oppida saxis fluminaque antiquos subter labentia muros.

125). Douglas also is very responsive to the dynastic plot of the Aeneid. 6i). Douglas creates in his Eneydos a world where families feel almost magically drawn together by blood: Ascanius is a 'tendir get' (tender offspring) of Aeneas, as is Lausus of Mezentius. 56). Families, and the pain to which they can give rise, are of course a central preoccupation of the Aeneid, since the pietas of its hero encompasses the emotions felt towards parents as well as duty to the gods; but in exaggerating this element of Virgil's poem Douglas may well have had one eye on his own search for fame.

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