Virgilizing Christianity in Late Antique Rome

John Curran

in Two Romes

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199739400
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933006 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Late Antiquity

Virgilizing Christianity in Late Antique Rome

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This chapter revisits several neglected aspects of an un-regarded late antique cento written in the city of Rome by the senatorial lady Proba. Specifically, it is suggested that the surviving text merits more significant consideration as an expression of the power and aspirations of self-defined Christians in the city of Rome, a group long-satirized by more highly regarded writers of the period but here appreciable on its own terms. It is argued that in the cento historians have a rare and valuable document for viewing the process (as opposed to the fact) of Christianization in the literary and aristocratic society of the city of Rome. An assessment of that society by one of its fiercest critics, S. Jerome, is revisited to reveal how closely he identified his satirical targets, and the circle of Proba in particular; and the literary connections between that society and Bishop Damasus are illuminated through an analysis of the bishop’s idiosyncratic literary pretensions. The chapter thus supplements recent academic discourse on the date and identity of Proba with some new and timely perspectives on her intentions and cultural milieu in the city of Rome at the end of antiquity.

Keywords: Virgil; Cento; Damasus; Proba; Jerome; christianization; Rome

Chapter.  9788 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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