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E00882: Prudentius, in his Latin Crowns of the Martyrs (Peristephanon), written c. 400 in Calahorra (north Spain), in a poem on *Vincent (deacon and martyr of Saragossa and Valencia, S00290), tells of saints accompanying Vincent on his way to heaven. Among them he explicitly mentions *John the Baptist (S00020), as a fellow sufferer in prison.

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posted on 24.11.2015, 00:00 by mszada
Liber Peristephanon, Poem V.373-376

Vincent dies during a recovery from his tortures granted him by the governor.

Stipant euntem candidi
hinc inde sanctorum chori
375 parique missum carcere
baptista Iohannes uocat.


'White-robed companies of the saints press round him on his way, and John the Baptist calls one who has been released from prison like himself.'

Text: Cunningham 1966, 307. Translation: Thomson 1953, 190-191.

History

Evidence ID

E00882

Saint Name

Vincent, deacon and martyr of Saragossa and Valencia, ob. c. 305 : S00290 John the Baptist : S00020

Saint Name in Source

Iohannes Baptista

Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

395

Evidence not after

405

Activity not before

304

Activity not after

405

Place of Evidence - Region

Iberian Peninsula

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Calahorra

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Calahorra Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Major author/Major anonymous work

Prudentius

Cult Activities - Miracles

Specialised miracle-working Freeing prisoners, exiles, captives, slaves

Source

Aurelius 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).

Discussion

On the Poem see E00858. The quoted passage reveals an interesting vision of the society of saints in heaven: saints who are already there welcome a newcomer and accompany him on his way. Particularly interesting is the idea that saints who experienced similar fate naturally sought out each other's company: in our case it is John the Baptist, whose death released him from prison, just like Vincent. For a similar idea in the same poem, see also E00884.

Bibliography

Editions 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. Further reading: 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). Meyer, S., Der heilige Vinzenz von Zaragoza: Studien zur Präsenz eines Märtyrers zwischen Spätantike und Hochmittelalter (Stuttgart, 2012). 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).

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