Cento Vergilianus de laudibus Christi
De laudibus Christi is a Latin poem arranged by Faltonia Betitia Proba after her conversion to Christianity. This poem reworks verses extracted from the work of Virgil to tell stories from the Old and New Testament. Much of the work focuses on the story of Jesus Christ. While the poem was popular, critical reception was more mixed.
About Cento Vergilianus de laudibus Christi in brief
De laudibus Christi is a Latin poem arranged by Faltonia Betitia Proba after her conversion to Christianity. This poem reworks verses extracted from the work of Virgil to tell stories from the Old and New Testament of the Christian Bible. Much of the work focuses on the story of Jesus Christ. While the poem was popular, critical reception was more mixed. A pseudonymous work purportedly by Pope Gelasius I disparaged the poem, deeming it apocryphal, and many also believe that St. Jerome wrote negatively of Proba and her poem. The poem would go on to be widely circulated, and it eventually was used in schools to teach the tenets of Christianity, often alongside Augustine of Hippo’s De doctrina Christiana. During the 19th and 20th centuries the poemwas criticized as being of poor quality, but recent scholars have held the work in higher regard. The author of the poem is believed to have been Proba, a member of an influential, aristocratic family, who eventually married a prefect of Rome named Clodius Celsinus Adelphius. She wrote poetry, and according to contemporary accounts, her first work was titled Constantini bellum adversus Magnentium; this poem, which is now lost, recounted the war between Roman Emperor Constantius II and the usurper Magnentius that occurred between AD 350–53. With the exception of the proem and invocation, the entire poem is a cento made up of rearranged verses from the works of the Roman poet Virgil.
Proba’s choice to rework Virgil seems to be made for two reasons: First, Virgil was an influential poet who had been commissioned by Caesar Augustus, the first Roman emperor, to write the mytho-historical epic Aeneid. Second, Vir Gil was often seen as a pre-Christian prophet due to a popular interpretation of his fourth Eclogue, which many believed foretold the birth of Jesus. An exception to the poem’s lack of names is found in a reference to Moses, whom Proba refers to by invoking the name “Musaeus”. In places, this handicap interferes with readability of appropriate terminology render the text impassable at times. This section also serves as anversion and rejection of the Virgilian tradition by proclaiming that he will be a man of weapons and a swordsman, and rejecting it in the name of Christ, whereas Virgil opened the Aideneid by proclaiming he will have a sword and weapons of his own, and a sword will be his weapon of choice for the ages to come. It was often believed from the Hellenistic era onward that that was the Greek name for Moses, Mousaios, but now we know that it was the name Musaeus for the Judeo- Christian prophet, since it was often used from the Greek word “Mousaios” The poem was written c. AD 352–384, and was probably written by Proba.