A. M. Nobbs
J. H. D. Scourfield
Phoenix (De Ave Phoenice), poem in 170 elegiac lines on the fabulous bird whose life, eternally renewed through death, was a potent symbol for both pagans and Christians. The ascription to *Lactantius has been questioned, but there are strong hints of Christian authorship.
Peter Barr Reid Forbes, Robert Browning, and Nigel Wilson
M. B. Trapp
Physiologus (‘the Natural Scientist’), an exposition of the marvellous properties of some 50 animals, plants, and stones, with a Christian interpretation of each (e.g. the pelican, which kills its offspring then revives them after three days with its own blood, figures the salvation of mankind through the Crucifixion). Both place and date of composition are disputed: perhaps Syria, perhaps Egypt; perhaps as late as the 4th cent.
E. D. Hunt
Henry Chadwick and M. J. Edwards
R. A. Kaster
Pompeius (late 5th–early 6th cent.
Porcius Festus, *procurator of *Judaea, ?60–62
Corinne Ondine Pache
J. H. D. Scourfield
Two short anonymous prayers of uncertain date to Mother Earth and to all herbs; the second may show Christian influence. Attempts to read these texts as iambic senarii have resulted in much misguided conjecture.
The Priscillianists were members of a Christian ascetic movement which flourished in Spain and Aquitaine during the last quarter of the 4th cent.
Sigrid Schottenius Cullhed
Faltonia Betitia Proba (fl. late 4th century) was a Roman poet, writer of a Christian cento (Lat. for patchwork), which circulated in the Eastern and Western Empire toward the end of the 4th century. The work consists of 694 verses culled from Virgil’s Eclogues, Georgics, and Aeneid, narrating episodes from Genesis, Exodus, and the four Gospels. The narrative sections are interspersed with proems, interludes, and epilogues pervaded by a confessional and devotional theme. The declared intention of the poet is to relate the “mysteries of Virgil” (arcana . . . vatis, v.12) and to show that Virgil “sang about the pious feats of Christ” (Vergilium cecinisse . . . pia munera Christi v. 23). This makes Proba one of the first Roman poets to have actively appropriated Virgil as a Christian prophet.
There are over a hundred manuscripts containing Proba’s cento, the oldest of which date back to the 8th century, and a large number of early modern editions. Thanks to Giovanni Boccaccio’s De mulieribus claris (1374), Proba became important in the querelle des femmes as an example of an educated woman.
William Hugh Clifford Frend
Aurelius Prudentius Clemens was a Christian Latin poet who wrote in a variety of genres and metres. Born in northern Spain, in 348
Pulcheria was a Roman empress in the early to mid-5th century