The Humblest Sparrow
The Poetry of Venantius Fortunatus
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of Michigan Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
Download PDF (72.7 KB)
My work on Venantius Fortunatus began an embarrassingly long time ago with a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1991–92. I am grateful for the endowment’s support and for the hospitality of Cambridge University, where I spent the time of my fellowship. ...
Download PDF (72.0 KB)
Download PDF (83.2 KB)
Download PDF (80.0 KB)
Early in his career the Dutch-born artist Lawrence Alma-Tadema, then living in Antwerp, produced a series of paintings of Merovingian historical scenes. Among these was his Venantius Fortunatus Reading His Poems to Radegonda (1862). The poet is shown sitting on a raised couch declaiming his verse to an attentive ...
Chapter One: Windows of Order: The Epitaph Made New
Download PDF (225.4 KB)
Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus (to give him his full name) was born, probably some time in the 530s, in Duplavis (modern Valdobbiadene) near Treviso in northern Italy and received the literary education traditional in late antiquity in the schools of Ravenna.1 Two poems only survive from his ...
Chapter Two Strategies of Praising: Metaphors of Eminence
Download PDF (341.0 KB)
Praise poetry aims to throw into relief the qualities and preeminence of the person to be praised. Different occasions will dictate different emphases and varying levels of intent, but in every case the poet will seek to celebrate the lofty status and beneficent influence of his subject. Beyond the categories and topoi learned ...
Chapter Three Strategies of Praising: Bishops and Ceremonies
Download PDF (293.4 KB)
Fortunatus’ praise poetry presents an ordered, hierarchical world, in which social harmony derives from and reflects credit on the powerful: bishop in the ecclesiastical world, royalty and high officials in the secular. Two basic rhetorical practices underpin his panegyric methods, figures of substitution and figures of enumeration. ...
Chapter Four Situating the Saints, Narrating the Saints, Imagining Martin
Download PDF (347.3 KB)
In Gregory of Tours’ Histories secular events, the history of the Merovingian kings and the potentes of their realms, run side by side and are often intertwined with ecclesiastical and hagiographical material describing the role of the saints in the contemporary church. But his treatment of these two aspects ...
Chapter Five To Absent Friends: Verse Correspondence and Personal Poetry
Download PDF (341.2 KB)
From his first arrival in Gaul Fortunatus assiduously cultivated the patronage and often the friendship of influential figures in the Merovingian kingdoms. Beginning with the important contacts he made in the Austrasian kingdom of Sigibert on his arrival at Metz, he subsequently journeyed to Paris, and then ...
Download PDF (99.1 KB)
Venantius Fortunatus’ body of poetry marks a watershed in Latin literary history. His writing is clearly indebted to traditions of verse composition in late antiquity, yet it is in important respects unlike anything written previously in that period. After him there is no significant poet in Francia for two centuries or so, ...
Download PDF (110.5 KB)
Text Editions Used
Download PDF (73.4 KB)
Download PDF (97.7 KB)
Download PDF (84.5 KB)
Page Count: 376
Illustrations: 1 B&W photograph
Publication Year: 2009