Liber Peristephanon, Poem I.94-120
Prudentius refers to the martyrdom of Emeterius and Chalidonius (E00761
). He then tells at length of a man being cleansed from an evil spirit at the time of their martyrdom, and mentions healings which take place at the martyrs' graves. He concludes (verses 115-120):
115 Hoc bonum saluator ipse quo fruamur praestitit,
martyrum cum membra nostro consecrauit oppido,
sospitant quae nunc colonos quos Hiberus adluit.
State nunc, hymnite, matres, pro receptis paruulis!
Coniugum salute laeta uox maritarum strepat!
120 Sit dies haec festa nobis, sit sacratum gaudium!
'This blessing the Saviour himself bestowed for our advantage when He consecrated the martyrs' bodies in our town, where now they protect the folk who dwell by Ebro's waters. Stand now, ye mothers, and sing hymns for little ones given back to you; let wives' voices sound loud in gladness for the recovery of their husbands; let us hold festival this day (sit dies haec festa nobis) and consecrate our joy.'
Text: Cunningham 1966: 255-256. Translation: Thomson 1953, 106-107. Summary: M. Tycner.
Saint NameEmeterius and Celidonius, soldier martyrs of Calahorra (Spain), ob.? : S00410
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Poems
Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom
Evidence not before395
Evidence not after405
Activity not before395
Activity not after405
Place of Evidence - RegionIberian Peninsula
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcCalahorra
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Calahorra
Major author/Major anonymous workPrudentius
Cult activities - Liturgical Activity
- Chant and religious singing
Cult activities - Festivals
Cult activities - PlacesBurial site of a saint - tomb/grave
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsSaint as patron - of a community
Cult Activities - MiraclesMiracle after death
Miraculous protection - of communities, towns, armies
Healing diseases and disabilities
Miracle at martyrdom and death
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesWomen
SourceAurelius Prudentius Clemens (348–after 405) was a Christian aristocrat from Calahorra in the Spanish province of Tarraconensis. He was a high official in the imperial bureaucracy in Rome, but withdrew from public life, returned to Calahorra, and dedicated himself to the service and celebration of God. Most of what we know about his biography comes from the preface to the ensemble of his works, which can be reliably dated to 404 (Cunningham 1966, 1-2), and other autobiographical remarks scattered throughout his works (for a detailed discussion, see Palmer 1989, 6-31). He composed several poetical works, amongst them the Peristephanon (literally, On the Crowns [of the Martyrs]), a collection of fourteen poems of different length describing martyrdoms of saints. We do not know exactly at which point in his literary career Prudentius wrote the preface (possibly at the very end, just before publication); for attempts at a precise dating of the Peristephanon, see Fux 2013, 9, n. 1.
The poems in the Peristephanon, written in elegant classical metres, deal mainly with martyrs from Spain, but some of them are dedicated to saints of Rome, Africa and the East. The poems were widely read in the late antique and medieval West, and had a considerable influence on the diffusion of cult of the saints included. In later periods they were sometimes used as hymns in liturgical celebrations and had an impact on the development of the Spanish hymnody. Some indications in the poems suggest that they were written to commemorate the saints on their feast days, but Prudentius probably did not compose them for the liturgy of his time. Rather, they probably provided 'devotional reading matter for a cultured audience outside a church context' (Palmer 1989, 3; see also Chapter 3 in her book).
DiscussionOn the poem see E00761.
Emeterius and Chelidonius were martyrs from Prudentius' hometown Calahorra in Spain. The poem on them opens his collection, but – unlike in the following hymns – the author focuses less on the martyrdom itself (on which he has little information, see E00763) and more on their cult. Still, he does this in a rather vague way: it is impossible to say whether the exorcism mentioned in our summary takes place during the saints' martyrdom or later. The quoted verses are more explicit: Prudentius encourages women to sing the praise of the saints who healed their children and husbands. He also refers to a festival of Emeterius and Chelidonius taking place in Calahorra.
The saints are explicitly described as defenders of Calahorra, in other words as holy patrons of the city.
The poem ends with an exhortation to celebrate the feast of the martyrs, but it is not enough to speculate on the liturgical use. The similar motif appears elsewhere in the Peristephanon (e.g. 11.209-210, E04212) but also in Cathemerinon 9.110-111. Later, however, the poem on Emeterius and Chelidonius might have been included in liturgical celebrations. Interestingly, in the 6th century manuscript Ambrosianus D 36 sup (siglum B in the edition of Cunningham; Lowe CLA vol. 3, no. 331) someone in the 7th c. (palaeographical dating by Lowe) added the doxology at the end of the poem (quo beatae Trinitatis concinatur gloria) which reflects a liturgical use (Cunningham 1966, 256 (critical apparatus); Fux 2013, 61-62).
BibliographyEditions of the Peristephanon:
Cunningham, M.P., Prudentii Carmina (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 126; Turnhout: Brepols, 1966), 251-389.
Bergman, J., Prudentius, Carmina (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 61; Vienna, 1926), 291-431.
Translations of the Peristephanon:
Eagan, C., Prudentius, Poems (Fathers of the Church 43; Washington D.C.: Catholic University Press, 1962), 95-280. English translation.
Thomson, H.J., Prudentius, vol. 2 (Loeb Classical Library; London Cambridge, Mass: W. Heinemann; Harvard University Press, 1953), 98-345. Edition and English translation.
Fux, P.-Y., Prudence et les martyrs: hymnes et tragédie. Peristephanon 1. 3-4. 6-8. 10. Commentaire, (Fribourg: Academic Press, 2013).
Malamud, M.A., A Poetics of Transformation: Prudentius and Classical Mythology (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989).
Palmer, A.-M., Prudentius on the Martyrs (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989).
Roberts, M., Poetry and the Cult of the Martyrs: The "Liber Peristephanon" of Prudentius (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993).