In a recent posting Stan K-B mentioned that the biblical reference to the Magi Kings doesn't specify "three". Nabokov in Pale Fire mentioned two names, a dark impotent gardener named Balthazar and a Melchior ( in a note about the Pope), usually considered as the names of the Magi ( the other one is Gaspar, I think).
Does SKB know where did these names originate and how?
What would be VN's intention if he'd been indicating the Magi? To point to Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" or some specific date in January?
The Western tradition of the names of the Magi derive from an early 6th Century Greek manuscript, translated into the Latin Excerpta Latina Barbari The description seems to be of a mosaic of the magi, possibly those at Ravenna. A pseudo-Bedan text, Collectanea or Excerpta et Collectanea apparently continues the tradition of three kings. The text is said to be from the 8th or 9th century, of Irish origin, and first found in a printed edition of works ascribed to St. Bede the Venerable at Basel in 1563.
One source states that the pseudo-Bedan text gives us the following clues about these men.
€ The oldest of the Magi was Melchoir, King of Arabia. He had a long gray beard and gave gold as a gift, symbolizing the acceptance of Christ as King.
€ Balthazar, King of Ethiopia, was middle-aged, swarthy, bearded, and bore the gift of frankincense, symbolizing Christ as High Priest.
€ Finally, Caspar was King of Tarsus, in his twenties. His gift was myrrh, which was used in making medicines. This symbolized Christ as the healer and great physician.
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