Poetry and Hymnography (1): Christian Latin Poetry

Michael J. Roberts

in The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199271566
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 Poetry and Hymnography (1): Christian Latin Poetry

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Christian Latin poetry began in all probability with the unmetrical quasi-hexameters of Commodian, now generally dated to the mid-third century CE. The last important figure still writing in the late Roman tradition is Venantius Fortunatus, most of whose works date to the late 560s and to the 570s. Many poems survive from the intervening years, though not all periods were equally productive. Because of considerations of length, this article focuses on certain particularly important authors and periods: the beginnings of Christian poetry with Juvencus (early fourth century); the late fourth-century coming of age of Christian poetry with Paulinus of Nola, Prudentius, and, in hymnody, Ambrose; and the fifth- and sixth-century traditions of biblical narrative poetry. These are the periods and authors that have received the most attention in the scholarship.

Keywords: Venantius Fortunatus; Christian poetry; Juvencus; Paulinus of Nola; Prudentius; hymnody; Ambrose; biblical narrative poetry

Article.  5790 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Christianity ; Religious Studies ; Religion in the Ancient World

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