Commentary on Prudentius’ Hymn to Romanus 1-650 (Peristephanon 10)
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This thesis is a commentary on lines 1-650 of Prudentius’ hymn to the martyr Romanus. Although printed in modern editions as the tenth poem of Prudentius’ Peristephanon, a collection of poems on various martyrs, certain features of the work in form and content differentiate it from the rest of the collection. These features include its length (1,140 verses; almost twice as long as Peristephanon 2, the second longest), its title, its place in manuscript transmission, the fact that the city where Romanus’ martyrdom takes place is never mentioned, and the inclusion of long sections of anti-pagan invective. This commentary aims to investigate its singularity and attempts to establish how it fits into Prudentius’ oeuvre. In the commentary proper I provide a general philological and historical elucidation of the text. I particularly focus on language, on identifying and interpreting allusions, and on discussing themes that recur in Prudentius’ works as well as contemporary and earlier literature. In the Introduction I offer an overview of the life and works of the poet; the dating; the textual transmission; other extant sources on the martyr Romanus and the relationship between them; the question of whether this poem belonged to the collection of the Peristephanon; and generic and particular influences on the poem from both Christian and secular literature, which are often combined in the text in interesting ways. The exploration of all these aspects of the text together with the close reading offered in the commentary itself contribute to a fuller understanding of this remarkably complex work.