Monday, February 20, 2006

Late Antique Poetry and the So-called Decretum Gelasianum

The Decretum Gelasianum, after discussing God and the books that should form the Biblical Canon, goes on to discuss the Church Fathers and other extra-canonical writings that should be read for edification. Section IV begins as follows:

Et quamvis 'aliud fundamentum nullus possit ponere praeter id quod positum est, Christus Iesus', tamen ad aedificationem sancta idem Romana ecclesia post illas veteris velo novi testamenti quas regulariter superius enumeravimus etiam has suscipi non prohibet scripturas:

After a list that includes some of the big boys such as Augustine and Ambrose, we find, at the very end, some poetry. First, Sedulius:
item venerabilis viri Sedulii opus paschale, quod heroicis descripsit versibus, insigni laude praeferimus.

And then, Juvencus:
item Iuvenci nihilominus laboriosum opus non spernimus sed miramur.

I love that last bit: non spernimus sed miramur--they were amazed at him!

Some other works mentioned previously in these pages do not, however, make the cut and are accordingly blacklisted in section V:
Cetera quae ab hereticis sive scismaticis conscripta vel praedicata sunt, nullatenus recipit catholica et apostolica Romana ecclesia; e quibus pauca, quae ad memoriam venerunt et a catholicis vitanda sunt, credidimus esse subdenda:

Among these is a reference to a cento that can only refer, I think, to Proba's poem:
Centonem de Christo virgilianis conpaginatum versibus.

The writer of this decree, then, must have agreed with Jerome's assessment in Ep. 53 to Paulinus.

Referring to this letter reminds me that, from my brief scan of the decree, nothing is mentioned about Paulinus of Nola, either for or agin'. Curious.

Anyway, I'm now off to read some Juvencus. Non sperno sed miror!

*An English translation of the Decretum Gelasianum can be found here.

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