Venantius Fortunatus, Poems 3.1 (Ad Eufronium episcopum Turonensem, 'To Eufronius, bishop of Tours'), § 3
Ego vero gratulor in corde domni Eufronii dilectionem domni mei sensisse Martini. Quapropter multiplici me prece apostolatui et sanctae caritati vestrae commendans, rogo per ipsum domnum Martinum, cuius frueris participato consortio, ut apud eum memorari praecipias me famulum et devotum, quatenus quid apud eum meritis praevaletis in meae humilitatis protectione iugiter ostendatis.
'As for me, I rejoice to have felt in the heart of lord Eufronius the love of my lord Martin. And therefore, commending myself with many prayers to your apostolate and your saintly affection, I ask by this same lord Martin, whose colleagueship you enjoy, that you bid me, his devoted servant, be kept in his memory so that you may continually show the power you have with him by your virtues through the protection of my humility.'
Text: Leo 1881, 49-50. Translation: Roberts 2017, 125.
Saint NameMartin, ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397 : S00050
Saint Name in SourceMartinus
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Letters
Evidence not before565
Evidence not after573
Activity not before565
Activity not after573
Place of Evidence - RegionGaul and Frankish kingdoms
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Tours
Major author/Major anonymous workVenantius Fortunatus
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - bishops
Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy
SourceVenantius Fortunatus was born in northern Italy, near Treviso, and educated at Ravenna. In the early 560s he crossed the Alps into Merovingian Gaul, where he spent the rest of his life, making his living primarily through writing Latin poetry for the aristocracy of northern Gaul, both secular and ecclesiastical. His first datable commission in Gaul is a poem to celebrate the wedding in 566 of the Austrasian royal couple, Sigibert and Brunhild. His principal patrons were Radegund and Agnes, the royal founder and the first abbess of the monastery of the Holy Cross at Poitiers, as well as Gregory, the historian and bishop of Tours, Leontius, bishop of Bordeaux, and Felix, bishop of Nantes, but he also wrote poems for several kings and for many other members of the aristocracy. In addition to occasional poems for his patrons, Fortunatus wrote a four-book epic poem about Martin of Tours, and several works of prose and verse hagiography. The latter part of his life was spent in Poitiers, and in the 590s he became bishop of the city; he is presumed to have died early in the 7th century. For Fortunatus' life, see Brennan 1985; George 1992, 18-34; Reydellet 1994-2004, vol. 1, vii-xxviii; PCBE 4, 'Fortunatus', 801-822.
The eleven books of Poems (Carmina) by Fortunatus were almost certainly collected and published at three different times: Books 1 to 7, which are dedicated to Gregory of Tours, in 576; Books 8 and 9 after 584, probably in 590/591; and Books 10-11 only after their author's death. A further group of poems, outside the structure of the books, and known from only one manuscript, has been published in modern editions as an Appendix to the eleven books. For further discussion, see Reydellet 1994-2004, vol. 1, lxviii-lxxi; George 1992, 208-211.
Almost all of Fortunatus' poems are in elegiac couplets: one hexameter line followed by one pentameter line.
For the cult of saints, Fortunatus' poems are primarily interesting for the evidence they provide of the saints venerated in northern Gaul, since many were written to celebrate the completion of new churches and oratories, and some to celebrate collections of relics. For an overview of his treatment of the cult of saints, see Roberts 2009, 165-243.
DiscussionEufronius (PCBE 4, 'Eufronius 4', pp. 673-679) was bishop of Tours between 556 and 573, the immediate predecessor of Gregory of Tours. This is the first of a group of three texts addressed to him, two prose letters and a poem, which constitute the first three items in Book 3 of Fortunatus' Poems. Here, at the end of the letter (immediately before its formulaic conclusion), Fortunatus asks Eufronius to pray to Martin for the saint's intercession on his (Fortunatus') behalf - for a very similar passage in the second prose letter, see E05642. Fortunatus emphasises that Eufronius is qualified to ask for Martin's intercession because he shares Martin's office as bishop of Tours (cuius frueris participato consortio, 'whose colleagueship you enjoy').
BibliographyEditions and translations:
Leo, F., Venanti Honori Clementiani Fortunati presbyteri Italici opera poetica (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Auctores Antiquissimi 4.1; Berlin: Apud Weidmannos, 1881).
Roberts, M., Poems: Venantius Fortunatus (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 46; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017).
George, J., Venantius Fortunatus, Personal and Political Poems (Translated Texts for Historians 23; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1995).
Reydellet, M., Venance Fortunat, Poèmes, 3 vols. (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1994-2004).
Brennan, B., "The Career of Venantius Fortunatus," Traditio 41 (1985), 49-78.
George, J., Venantius Fortunatus: A Latin Poet in Merovingian Gaul (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992).
Roberts, M., The Humblest Sparrow: The Poetry of Venantius Fortunatus (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2009).