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E00883: Prudentius, in his Latin Crowns of the Martyrs (Peristephanon), written c. 400 in Calahorra (northern Spain), in a poem on *Vincent (deacon and martyr of Saragossa and Valencia, S00290), tells of attempts to prevent the posthumous veneration of the body of the saint.

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posted on 24.11.2015, 00:00 by mszada
Liber Peristephanon, Poem V.383-392

Vincent dies during a recovery from his tortures, granted to him by the governor. The governor is furious:

"Euasit exultans" ait
"rebellis et palmam tulit.

"Sed restat illud ultimum,
inferre poenam mortuo
feris cadauer tradere
canibusue carpendum dare.

Iam nunc et ossa extinxero,
ne sit sepulcrum funeris,
quod plebs gregalis excolat
titulumque figat martyris."


'"He has escaped in triumph," he cries; "refusing to submit, he has carried off the victory. But still the last resource remains, to punish him even in death, to deliver his body to the wild beasts or give it to the dogs to tear. Forthwith I shall utterly destroy even his bones, so that his corpse shall have no grave for the common herd to venerate and set on it a martyr's epitaph (titulus martyris)."'

The governor's plan fails, because a raven frightens away the wild beasts. There follows another attempt - Vincent's body is thrown into the see, but is miraculously carried to the shore and finds veneration there - see $E00884.

Text: Cunningham 1966: 307. Translation: Thomson 1953, 191-193. Summary: M. Tycner.
Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

History

Evidence ID

E00883

Saint Name

Vincent, deacon and martyr of Saragossa and Valencia, ob. c. 305 : S00290

Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

395

Evidence not after

405

Activity not before

305

Activity not after

410

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 - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Destruction/hostile attempts to prevent veneration of relics

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Officials

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

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 shows the importance of the cult of the saint's dead body, here presented by reversing the classical situation: the persecutor wants to destroy the martyr's body in order to prevent its veneration. The cult which the governor wants to prevent includes granting the martyr a burial place and a titulus, an epitaph or inscription that would identify the tomb as the resting place of a martyr.

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).

Licence

Exports

Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

Licence

Exports