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The Reader and the Resurrection in Prudentius

  • Aaron Pelttari (a1)

Abstract

In Prudentius, the bodily resurrection becomes a figure for poetic immortality. Just as the author believes that his God will one day raise him from the dead, he expects and invokes a Christian reader to authenticate and authorise the fragile verbal records of a poetry that is insistently human and fallen. In other words, Prudentius’ metapoetics are perfectly in sync with his theology. After (I) presenting Prudentius’ transformation at the end of his Praefatio and setting out the terms and scope of the argument, this article (II) shows how the author puts himself at the mercy of his readers and patrons in the Peristefanon poems and then (III) considers the body and the resurrection in the Liber Cathemerinon. A short section (IV) on fictionality and belief opens up the argument, and a conclusion (V) advances it through a reading of the end of De opusculis suis. This metapoetic reading of Prudentius reveals that the author's hopes for an afterlife are expressed in and through the creative imagining of poetic and fictional scenes.

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My thanks to Scott McGill for inviting me to write a paper about the Christian poetry of Late Antiquity, which I presented at a conference he organised in Houston back in 2011. After that earliest draft, this paper was revised in stages and presented at Cornell, Santa Barbara, Edinburgh and Salamanca. In addition to the critical guidance offered at each gathering, I am grateful for feedback from friends including Suzanne Abrams Rebillard and James Uden. Many thanks to the editor and anonymous readers for JRS for their direction and criticisms. All mistakes remain my own.

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The Reader and the Resurrection in Prudentius

  • Aaron Pelttari (a1)

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