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E04655: Paulinus of Nola composes a Latin epitaph in 420/1 for a young, aristocratic man – Cynegius - who is buried next to the tomb of *Felix (S00000) in Nola/Cimitile, southern Italy. The inscription refers to Felix’s protection, and the safety of Cynegius’ soul at the Last Judgement.

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posted on 23.01.2018, 00:00 by frances
Paulinus of Nola, Epitaph of Cynegius (Epitaphium Cynegii)

The original inscription does not survive and the text has been preserved only in copies. The text of the epitaph is corrupt, evidently as a result of damage to the original inscription which has removed the first words of each line. These have been reconstructed differently by different editors (e.g. Theodor Mommsen, CIL 10, 1370; Ernst Diehl, ILCV 3482). We present here the most recent reconstruction, by Franz Dolveck.

itam florente Cynegius aeuo,
s sancta placidae requiescit in aula;
nc Felicis habet domus alma beati
nos susceptum possidet annos.
cito laetatus in hospite Felix;
tus erit iuuenis sub iudice Christo:
bili sonitu concusserit orbem
mae rursum in sua uasa redibunt,
hic sociabitur ante tribunal;
in gremio Abraham .

‘Cynegius has ended his life while in the bloom of manhood, and he rests in the holy abode of tranquil peace. The holy house of Felix now contains him; Felix has received him and possesses him through the long span of years, Felix our patron now takes joy in his gentle guest. Thus the young Cynegius will be protected before Christ the Judge, when the dread trumpet shakes the earth with its din, and men’s souls return to their vessels. He will deservedly be joined to Felix before the judge's throne; meanwhile he lies in peace in Abraham's bosom.’

Text: Dolveck 2015, 661. Translation: Walsh 1975, 345 (adapted).
Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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Keywords

History

Evidence ID

E04655

Saint Name

Felix, priest and confessor of Nola (southern Italy) : S00000

Saint Name in Source

Felix

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

415

Evidence not after

421

Activity not before

415

Activity not after

421

Place of Evidence - Region

Italy south of Rome and Sicily Italy south of Rome and Sicily

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Cimitile Nola

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

Cimitile Adriatic Sea Adriatic Sea Adriaticum Mare Nola Adriatic Sea Adriatic Sea Adriaticum Mare

Major author/Major anonymous work

Paulinus of Nola

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Burial ad sanctos

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Aristocrats Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Inscription

Source

This epitaph was composed by Paulinus, bishop of Nola, around 420/1. It commemorates Cynegius, a young aristocratic man who died when visiting Italy. He was the son of Flora, a noblewoman resident in North Africa whom Augustine knew. According to Matthews 1975, 144, she was most likely the niece of Aemilius Florus Paternus, of the prominent Aemilii family.

Discussion

At his mother’s request, Cynegius was buried in an ostentatious tomb next to *Felix (S00000) in the church dedicated to the saint and renovated under the aegis of Paulinus (see E04768). Cynegius’ prominent resting place provides an example of a growing trend of burial ad sanctos in the fifth-century Mediterranean world. It also provoked debate over this practice. Paulinus addressed a letter to Augustine asking whether these burials could provide any benefit for the deceased. Augustine’s response, given in On the Care of the Dead (E01156) was less than encouraging. According to Augustine, burial beside the saints could only encourage the living to remember and pray for the deceased. In itself, it could not benefit the soul: indeed even the absence of any burial could not harm the soul of the dead. This challenges the view offered in the inscription itself, which implies that the safety of Cynegius’ soul at the Last Judgement is secured by Felix. For more on Paulinus’ involvement in developing the cult of *Felix (S00000) see E0#### and E0####.

Bibliography

The Inscription: Dolveck, Franz, Carmina, Paulini Nolani, Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 21 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2015), p. 661. Mommsen, Theodor, Inscriptiones Bruttiorum, Lucaniae, Campaniae, Siciliae, Sardiniae, Corpus Inscriptionum Latinorum 10 (Berolini: Reimerum, 1883), no. 1370. Diehl, Ernst, Inscriptiones Latinae Christiane veteres (Berolini: Wiedmann, 1925-31), no. 3482. Translation: Walsh, P. G., The Poems of Paulinus of Nola, Ancient Christian Writers (New York: Newman Press, 1975), p. 345. Further Reading: Brown, Peter, The Ransom of the Soul: Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2015). Duval Y., Auprès des saints corps et âme. L'inhumation « ad sanctos » dans la chrétienté d'Orient et d'Occident du IIIe siècle au VIIe siècle (Paris: Études Augustiniennes, 1988). Matthews, John, Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court AD 364-425 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1975). Trout, Dennis, Paulinus of Nola: Life, Letters and Poems (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).

Licence

Exports

Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

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Licence

Exports