Gesta Romanorum Vol. I (1871)/Of Christ, who, by His Passion, delivered us from Hell

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Gesta Romanorum Vol. I  (1871) 
Anonymous, translated by Charles Swan
Of Christ, who, by His Passion, delivered us from Hell



In the middle of Rome, there was once an immense chasm, which no human efforts could fill up. The gods being questioned relative to this extraordinary circumstance, made answer, "That unless a man could be found who would voluntarily commit himself to the gulf, it would remain unclosed for ever." Proclamations were sent forth, signifying that he who was willing to offer himself a sacrifice for the good of his country, should appear—but not a man ventured to declare himself. At length Marcus Aurelius (41) said, "If ye will permit me to live as I please during the space of one whole year, I will cheerfully surrender myself, at the end of it, to the yawning chasm." The Romans assented with joy, and Aurelius indulged for that year in every wish of his heart. Then mounting a noble steed, he rode furiously into the abyss, which, with a dreadful crash, immediately closed over him.


My beloved, Rome is the world, in the centre of which, before the nativity of Christ, was the gulf of hell, yawning for our immortal souls. Christ plunged into it, and by so doing ransomed the human race.

Note 41.Page 154.

"Marcus Aurelius."

Marcus Curtius was the name of the youth who devoted himself, according to Roman History. The condition upon which the sacrifice was to be performed, is purely monastic.