Download Prudentius’ "Psychomachia": A Reexamination by Macklin Smith PDF

By Macklin Smith

Prudentius' Psychomachia, written approximately A.D. 405, has been studied through classicists, medievalists, and normal literary historians. however, students have slightly explored the allegory's internal workings or similar it to its ancient context. the current research treatments this serious overlook and its attendant misreadings.

The writer arrives at a coherent, unified interpretation by means of reading the work's significant positive factors in terms of the poet's existence and occasions. He contends that the poet balanced an confirmation of Christian allegory with an ironic negation of pagan literary culture. For this amazing fulfillment his viewers was once the aristocracy, nonetheless principally pagan at a time of excessive antagonism among the Church and previous Roman non secular associations.

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And not that it was impossible to maintain a strong Christian faith while serving as a high Roman official, for the Empire was, of course, officially Christian; but Prudentius does not testify that he was then a fervent Christian, and seems to suggest the opposite. Per­ haps the intensifying struggle between the Church and pagan organizations at the close of the fourth century brought to a head a religious struggle within the poet's own mind. We cannot know the genesis of Prudentius' spiritual conversion, only its probable effects upon his poetry.

After discussion of personification allegory and scriptural allegory, there remains the problem of the poem's epic form and mode. Given the vital scriptural presence in the Psycho­ machia, to what degree is depiction of heroic conventions 35 Jauss, "Form und Auffassung der Allegorie in der Tradition der Psychomachia" (cited n. 21), p. 188. 36 Christian Gnilka, Studien zur Psychomachie des Prudentius, Klassisch-Philologische Studien, 27 (Wiesbaden, 1963). Macklin Smith - 9781400871162 Downloaded from De Gruyter Online at 09/26/2016 10:02:37AM via Cambridge University Library CRITICAL INTRODUCTION contingent upon scriptural themes?

Symm. II, 91-93) [To these fine words flowing with such art Faith has given the answer, for she before all has skill to open the first approach to the heart of the true belief. 1 Prudentius presents arguments in the person of Fides, there­ by distancing himself from human error. The voice of the poet inspired by Fides is authoritative, and offers a convinc­ ing Christian rebuttal to Symmachus. But the matter does not end here, for it is not so simple as this. If the poet can possess Faith, he cannot be identified with her—not, at least, without abandoning his claim to truthfulness.

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