Vergil and “Yahrzeit”
To the Editor:
Dr. M. Hadas’s interesting article on “Vergil, Hebrew Prophecy, and the Roman Ideal” (November 1953) brings to my mind these lines from the Aeneid (V. 46-54): “The circle of a year is now complete with all its months, since we have committed to the earth the last remains of my sacred father. And now the day, if I mistake not, is at hand, the day which I shall always keep as a day of sorrow and observance always to be honored. Were I to spend the day as an outcast on the African shores, or should I find myself far out upon the Grecian Sea, or in the city of Mycene, still I would duly observe my annual duties.”
The words were spoken by Aeneas, asking his comrades to commemorate with him the death of his father Anchises. Few passages more movingly describe the feeling of children keeping Yahrzeit in honor of their departed parents. Did Vergil know of Yahrzeit?
Johannesburg, South Africa