Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
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Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
 
The Vision which appeared to Augustus Cæsar
By John Capgrave (1393–1464)
 
OCTAVIAN began to reign the year of the world five thousand one hundred and seven and fifty. Before the Nativity of Christ he reigned twelve years, and after the Nativity of Christ fourteen years. He was born in Rome; his father hight Octavian, a senator. His mother was of the kin of Æneas, a Trojan. Cousin he was unto Julius Cæsar, and, by choice, his son. 1 This man brought all the empire into one monarchy. And yet, as worthy as he was, he wanted not vices: for he would never rest without great number of women and maidens. The people of Rome, for his great beauty, prosperity, and peace, would worship him as a god. But he would not receive it, but asked leisure to give them an answer. Then called he to him sibyl Tiburtine, 2 and rehearsed unto her the desire of the senate. She asked the space of three days avisement, 3 in which she, and he, and many more, fasted and prayed. And at the three days’ end, they saw Heaven open, and a great brightness shining upon them: and then saw they a fair image of a maid upon an altar, and a child in her arms. And when he marvelled greatly, he heard a voice from Heaven crying in this manner, “This is the altar of God’s son.” Then fell he down unto the earth, and reverently worshipped that sight. The next day he went unto the Capitol, and told them all this vision, and refused their proffer. This same vision was seen in the chamber of Octavian, which is now a Church and a Convent of Freres Menouris. 4 It is cleped now “Ara Cœli.”  1
 
Note 1. by choice, his son, i.e. his son by adoption. [back]
Note 2. sibyl Tiburtine.  Capgrave has just before explained that there were ten sibyls, of whom the “most famous was at Rome, called Tiburtina, for she prophesied much of Christ.” [back]
Note 3. avisement = deliberation. [back]
Note 4. Freres Menouris = the Fratres Minores, or Minorites, founded by St. Francis of Assisi. [back]
 
 
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