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Augustine

(4,295 words)

Author(s): Pollmann, Karla
( Aurelius Augustinus) A. Historical dimension A. (AD 354–430), Augustine, was Bishop of Hippo from AD 395/96 to 430 (Annaba in present-day Algeria), and is regarded as the most influential early Christian thinker of the Latin West. Born at Thagaste (North Africa, then a Roman province), son of a Christian mother, Mon(n)ica, and a pagan father Patricius, he embodied the transitional phase of Late Antiquity, in which Christianity was becoming increasingly established as the Roman Empire underwent a slow political disintegration. In his spiritual autobiography, the  Confessiones ( c…
Date: 2016-02-22

Prudentius

(176 words)

Author(s): Pollmann, Karla
[German Version] (Aurelius P. Clemens; 348/349 Spain – after 405), often called the Christian Virgil or Horace, since he was among the first to use classical meter to articulate Christian theological doctrines, often very complex, making him probably the greatest and most innovative Christian poets of Late Antiquity. His works include the lyric cycles Cathemerinon liber [Book of hours] and Peristephanon liber [Book of the martyrs’ crowns], the two didactic poems in hexameters “Apotheosis” [Deification] and “Hamartigenia” [The Origin of sin], and the Psychomachia [The Struggle …

Lactantius, Lucius Caecilius Firmianus

(447 words)

Author(s): Pollmann, Karla
[German Version] (c. 250–325), Christian Latin writer. Lactantius pursued extensive literary and philosophical studies; one of his teachers was Arnobius the Elder. At some time prior to 300, he was summoned to Nicomedia by Diocletian to teach rhetoric. At the outset of persecutions of Christians under Diocletian (303), he resigned from his teaching position and began to write as an apologist for the Christian religion. Because of his polished Latin, he has been called a “Christian Cicero.” Circa 314/315, Constantine brought him to Trier to tutor Crispus. In the treatise De opificio D…

Fortunatus, Venantius (Saint)

(194 words)

Author(s): Pollmann, Karla
[German Version] (c. 530, Treviso, northern Italy – before 610, Poitiers), Christian Latin poet who studied in Ravenna and in 565, in gratitude for liberation from an eye ailment, undertook a pilgrimage to the grave of St. Martin of Tours. In 567 he went to Poitiers, where he became bishop c. 600. Fortunatus wrote occasional poems in the classical style for rich and well-placed patrons, e.g. the Thuringian princess Radegunde. In addition he wrote the epic poem “Vita Martini,” lives of saints in pr…

Arnobius the Elder

(269 words)

Author(s): Pollmann, Karla
[German Version] (of Sicca, Numidia Proconsularis), a teacher of rhetoric (one of whose students was Lactantius), converted to Christianity late in life. Between c. 303 and 310, in defense of Christianity he wrote the apology Adversus nationes in seven books, the last left incomplete. In it he attacks a variety of opponents of the Christians, especially the adherents of pagan religion; the work is dominated by elaborate rhetorical polemic designed to “fling back” ( retorsio) the charge of impiety leveled by the enemies of Christianity, but …

Isidore of Pelusium (Saint)

(171 words)

Author(s): Pollmann, Karla
[German Version] (c. 360 – after 433), a classically educated teacher of rhetoric (?) and later priest in Pelusium (eastern Nile Delta), withdrew to the nearby wilderness as an ascetic monk, nonetheless remaining active in church politics. Approximately 2,000 of his letters as well as apophthegmata have been preserved. The deacon Rusticus (6th cent.) translated 49 letters into Latin. The letters are addressed, in some cases, to high-ranking personalities (e.g. Emperor Theodosius II; Cyril of Alexa…

Gennadius of Marseille

(201 words)

Author(s): Pollmann, Karla
[German Version] was presbyter in Marseille (492–496). His most important preserved work, De viris illustribus (c. 475), a Christian history of literature (continued by Isidore of Seville and Ildefons of Toledo), includes 103 Greek and Roman authors and continues the catalogue of authors of the same name by Jerome. Also often attributed to Gennadius are: (1) Liber (or: Definitio) ecclesiasticorum dogmatum, a compilation of orthodox and heretical doctrinal statements (abridgment c. 470), (2) Statuta ecclesiae antiqua, a collection of canons with significance for liturgy…

Arnobius the Younger

(178 words)

Author(s): Pollmann, Karla
[German Version] (died after 455), a monk who probably fled from the Vandals invading Africa, lived in Rome after c. 432; he was an opponent of Augustine's doctrine of grace (Augustine). He has been little studied. Two manuscripts are attributed to him: Commentarii in Psalmos (possibly written in Africa before 428), which uses typological interpretation to relate the text, especially messianic prophecies, to NT events, and Conflictus Arnobii et Serapionis, an anti-Monophysite disputation written between 449 and 451 (Monophysites). Other works attributed to Arnobius include Liber…

Sedulius

(85 words)

Author(s): Pollmann, Karla
[German Version] (5th cent.), secularly educated Christian, whose Paschale carmen (“Easter Song”) was written to edify educated Christians. It and two other hymns by him were commented on by Remigius of Auxerre. Later Sedulius wrote a prose paraphrase of the Paschale Carmen, the Paschale opus (“Easter Work”), likewise in five books. The two versions became a model for the medieval opus geminatum. Karla Pollmann Bibliography CPL 1447–1449 Ed.: J. Huemer, CSEL 10, 1885 On Sedulius: M. Mazzega, Carmen paschale. Buch III, 1996 (text; comm.).

Marius Claudius Victor

(182 words)

Author(s): Pollmann, Karla
[German Version] (better: Victorius; died between 425 and 450 ce), rhetor in Marseille; not to be confused with the philosopher and theologian Marius Victorinus. He composed a hexametric biblical epic Alethia [Truth] in three books, freely paraphrasing Genesis from creation to Sodom and Gomorrah. Since Gennadius of Marseille ( Vir. ill. 61, Richardson) speaks of four books, a fourth book may have been lost. Besides didactic elements intended for the instruction of youth (see the introductory prayer), Platonic influence is noticeable. The paraph…

Sidonius Apollinaris

(174 words)

Author(s): Pollmann, Karla
[German Version] Sidonius Apollinaris, Gaius Sollius (429/431, Lyon – 486(?), Clermont-Ferrand), bishop in Clermont-Ferrand. The son-in-law of the emperor Avitus, he is considered the most important Latin writer of both poetry and prose in 5th-century Gaul. Contrary to the increasing Germanic influence in Gaul, he modeled his works – very popular in the Middle Ages – on classical Latin authors, including pagans. His three verse-panegyrics ( Carmina 1–8) on the emperors Avitus, Majorian, and Anthemius are based on Claudius Claudianus, his occasional poems ( Carmina 9–24) on the Silv…

Commodianus

(91 words)

Author(s): Pollmann, Karla
[German Version] (3rd [probably not 5th] cent. North Africa?) was the earliest Christian Latin poet. Works: 1. Instructiones: conversion of Jews and pagans, instructions for the Christian way of life; 2. Carmen apologeticum: a portrayal of Christianity as the true faith in 1060 hexameters containing chiliastic-eschatological motifs. The works are characterized by the programmatic rejection of classical (because untrue) diction and meter. Karla Pollmann Bibliography CPL, 1470f. CChr.SL 128, 1960 A. Salvatore, ed., Instructiones, 1965–1968 idem, Carme apologetico, 1977 E. He…

Dialogue

(3,471 words)

Author(s): Pollmann, Karla | D'Costa, Gavin | Vroom, Hendrik M. | Lange, Dietz | Neuner, Peter | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Literature (Early Church) – II. Philosophy of Religion – III. Fundamental Theology – IV. Dogmatics – V. Ethics – VI. Ecumenism – VII. Dialogue and Mission I. History of Literature (Early Church) Dialogue, as a philosophical disputation with the objective of vanquishing the opponent at all costs, originated with the Sophists (Sophistic School); as a literary form, Plato's …

Poetry

(9,931 words)

Author(s): Seybold, Klaus | Bekkum, Wout J. van | Brucker, Ralph | Rösler, Wolfgang | Pollmann, Karla | Et al.
[German Version] I. Bible and Ancient Judaism 1. Old Testament a. General. In biblical studies, poetry (Gk ποίησις/ poíēsis) in contrast to prose generally comprises stanzaic texts in language employing patterns of rhythm and sound, whose structure and style are determined by both linguistic (sound patters, rhyme, clause sequences, etc.) and nonlinguistic factors (so-called constraints: music, ¶ extent, parallel structure, setting, etc.). We do not know the ancient Hebrew poetic terminology, although poetry constitutes a significant portion of Old …