Animals figure prominently in early Christian Latin poetry such as Endelechius’ De mortibus boum and in the Natalicia of Paulinus of Nola. How can this focus on the animal world in the poetry of this period be explained? What are the respective literary models? It is the aim of this paper to show that the stories involving animals are used to convey insight into the ways in which God is working. Through the examples from the animal world man can therefore learn a lesson and, what is more, do this by being entertained with charming stories.
Seneca and Lucilius are mentioned repeatedly in the poem Si fontis brevis (Riese, Ant.lat.666). Yet the imagery in the opening lines of the poem, in prominent position, is borrowed from Ruricius of Limoges. The result is seemingly a dichotomy: the poem is ostensibly about Seneca, but the literary borrowings evoke Ruricius.
The dichotomy is not in fact such. The correspondence of Ruricius is tied to that of Faustus of Riez, who in his moral letters showed himself a follower of Seneca rather than a follower of Christ; therefore, a critique of Seneca was also an implicit critique of the Senecan Faustus. The imitatio of Ruricius by Honorius may be flattery toward an illustrious Gallo-Roman family, but also veiled criticism of those who, like Ruricius, educated their children in the ways of rhetoric, while Honorius was being taught by his mentor in the ways of faith. My paper will analyze the clever use of literary conventions by Honorius to air his critique of contemporary views.
Augustine’s Psalm against the Donatist Party is a didactic, polemical description of the nature and mission of the Christian community in the world. A retort to Donatist rhymed ‘psalms’ meant for congregational singing, Augustine’s Psalm also was intended for the congregation to sing, as the author himself says in his Retractations. Rhythmical rather than quantitative and composed in the abecedarian pattern, its form not only evokes the Bible’s own lyrical poetry but aids memorization. This study examines the Psalm as a verse sermon, intended for the congregation to sing but structured and delivered as homily rather than hymn. Augustine uses standard elements found in prose sermons, but his composition also reflects the pattern of other verse sermons of the era, such as those abundantly represented in the Greek East.