That Jolly Old Pagan
In C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves he, on several occasions, refers to Ovid as that “jolly old pagan.” It’s not just once mind you, but at least two or three times. Lewis’ remark is striking in a couple of ways not the least of which is the fact that in all my reading of Ovid which admittedly is on the lesser side of a tad, I don’t recall Ovid being all that jolly. Old? Yes. Pagan? Obviously. Jolly? I’m not so sure, but that’s the word Lewis uses. Secondly, although jolly may be meant in a rather ironic or facetious way in regards to Ovid’s actual personality, Lewis surely means that he is jolly for our purposes.
Along those lies, I would commend to you The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. That jolly old pagan fought in the civil war, took up journalism, and when he had had enough of that, took for the deserts of Mexico and was never heard from again. But his dictionary is a handy dandy reference guide for anything remotely useful or not. In addition to the aforementioned desk tool, I might also recommend the H.L. Mencken. Another jolly old pagan who has written prolificly on nearly everything. I might also add that these last two authors are not only amusing and witty, but if you’ve ever wondered where Douglas Wilson gets his sense of humor, you might start here.
Go. Run along now. You’ve got more useful things to do.
[…] it has the sense of “irreligious,” as in C. S. Lewis‘s reference to the Roman poet Ovid as “that jolly old pagan.” (But he was also a cap-P Pagan, in my […]