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E04509: Prudentius, in his Latin Crowns of the Martyrs (Peristephanon), written c. 400 in Calahorra (northern Spain), in a poem on the martyrdom of *Agnes (virgin and martyr of Rome, S00097), mentions the tomb of Agnes in Rome and her role as protector of the citizens of the city.

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posted on 20.12.2017, 00:00 by mszada
Liber Peristephanon, Poem XIV.1-9

Agnes sepulcrum est Romulea in domo
fortis puellae martyris inclytae.
Conspectu in ipso condito turrium
seruat salutem uirgo Quiritium
5 nec non et ipsos protegit aduenas
puro ac fideli pectore supplices.
Duplex corona est praestita martyri:
intactum ab omni crimine uirginal
mortis deinde gloria liberae.


'The grave of Agnes is in the home of Romulus; a brave girl she, and a glorious martyr. (3) Laid within sight of their palaces, this maiden watches over the well-being of Rome's citizens, and she protects strangers too when they pray with pure and faithful heart. (7) A double crown of martyrdom was vouchsafed to her, the keeping of her virginity untouched by any sin, and then the glory of her dying by her own will.'

Text: Cunningham 1966, 386. Translation: Thomson 1953, 339, lightly adapted.

History

Evidence ID

E04509

Saint Name

Agnes, virgin and martyr of Rome : S00097

Saint Name in Source

Agnes

Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

395

Evidence not after

405

Activity not before

395

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 - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

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).

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: Delehaye, H., "Cyprien d'Antioche et Cyprien de Carthage," Analecta Bollandiana 39 (1921), 314-322. 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).

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