Gallio’s Song

(notes edited by John McGivering)


First published in Actions and Reactions (1909) where it follows “Little Foxes”; collected in the Sussex Edition, Volume 8, page 249 and Volume 34, page 57, and the Burwash Edition, Volumes 8 and 27; Definitive Verse with the heading from Acts 28, 17: ‘And Gallio cared for none of these things’. , other slight variations and the extra stanza No. 5 beginning ‘Whether ye rise for the sake of a creed’, Collected Verse and The Wordsworth Poetry Library similarly.

Notes on the Text

[Title] Gallio was the proconsul of Achaia who refused to try St. Paul (Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 18) see also “The Manner of Men” and “The Church that was at Antioch” Both are collected in Limits and Renewals (1932)

See also Kipling’s use of the name ‘Gallio’ in his 1888 story “The Judgement of Dungara”.

The son of Seneca the Elder and brother of Seneca the Younger was also called Gallio. [D.H.]

[Verse 1]

Achaia: part of the North coast of Peloponnesus, Greece, which was crushed by the Romans in 146 B.C.

{Verse 2]

Jove: another name for Jupiter, the supreme god of Roman mythology.

Lictor: an officer attending a magistrate.

the God … the man:   In using definite articles, Kipling is borrowing ancient Greek usage, where, when man and god (including the Jewish-Christian God) are spoken of in general terms, the definite article is placed before the noun: ὁ θεός (ho theos: the God); ὁ ἄνθρωπος (ho anthrōpos: the man).[D.H.]

this maker of tents be Jove / Or a younger deity:  This alludes to Acts 14.12:[D.H.]

And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.

Paul learned this trade in his youth.

I care for none of these things:  Compare Acts 18.17:

Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.

Kipling has taken the words the narrator uses to describe the beating of the synagogue chief, and transposed them to Gallio’s speech in Acts 18.14-15.  [D.H.]

[Verse 4]

Claudius Cæsar: Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus (10 B.C – 54 A.D.) Emperor of Rome, 41 – 54 A.D.)

[Verse 5]

Spoil: in this context, loot.

whether ye follow Priapus or Paul]:  See 1 Corinthians 1.12:  [d.h.]

Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

Priapus was the god of fertility in Greek mythology.



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