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20 - The Christianity of Latin Christian Poetry

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 October 2023

Lewis Ayres
Affiliation:
University of Durham and Australian Catholic University, Melbourne
Michael W. Champion
Affiliation:
Australian Catholic University, Melbourne
Matthew R. Crawford
Affiliation:
Australian Catholic University, Melbourne
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Summary

This chapter examines the poems of Juvencus, Prudentius, and Ausonius, not primarily as specimens of a late-antique aesthetics, but as instruments for the propagation of religious knowledge and the consolidation of Christian hegemony through the appropriation of pagan tools of art. The poems will be considered both as vehicles of acculturation and as objects of culture in their own right, expressing and fostering a new sense of moral and political ascendancy. It will be argued that where Juvencus appropriates the hexameter form and tropes and images from classical epic, Prudentius seems to invent new forms with the purpose of superseding classical culture and adapting its imagery to a Christian world-view. In Ausonius, Christian imagery is subliminal, betokening his own certitude that the victory of the church is unassailable; it will be argued that in his crucifixion of Cupid, subliminal use of Christian images hastens the dissolution of the pagan sensibility from within.

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The Intellectual World of Late Antique Christianity
Reshaping Classical Traditions
, pp. 366 - 387
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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