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E05642: Venantius Fortunatus, in a prose letter to Eufronius, bishop of Tours, included in Fortunatus' collection of poems, asks Eufronius to pray for him at the tomb of *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050) in Tours (north-west Gaul), in 565/573. Poem 3.2, written in Latin in Gaul, 565/573.

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posted on 04.06.2018, 00:00 by kwojtalik
Venantius Fortunatus, Poems 3.2 (Ad eundem = Ad Eufronium episcopum Turonensem, 'To the same person' [Eufronius, bishop of Tours]), § 5

Extract:

Quapropter dominationi et sanctitati vestrae peculiariter me commendans rogo et obtestor (sic ille domnus meus Martinus sua intercessione obtineat, ut cum ipso iuxta merita vestra in luce perpetua vos conlocet divina misericordia), ut pro me humili filio et servo vestro ad eius beatum sepulcrum orare digneris et pro peccatorum meorum remissione pius intercessor accedas.

'Therefore I commend myself in particular to your [Eufronius'] lordship and sanctity and ask and beseech - so may my lord Martin secure by his intercession that the divine mercy establish you with him according to your merits in light everlasting - that you see fit to pray for your humble son and servant at his blessed tomb and that as merciful intercessor you approach him for the remission of my sins.'

Text: Leo 1881, 50. Translation: Roberts 2017, 127 and 129.

History

Evidence ID

E05642

Saint Name

Martin, ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397 : S00050

Saint Name in Source

Martinus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

565

Evidence not after

573

Activity not before

565

Activity not after

573

Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré

Major author/Major anonymous work

Venantius Fortunatus

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Source

Venantius Fortunatus was born in northern Italy, near Treviso, and educated at Ravenna. In the early 560s he crossed the Alps into Merovingian Gaul, where he spent the rest of his life, making his living primarily through writing Latin poetry for the aristocracy of northern Gaul, both secular and ecclesiastical. His first datable commission in Gaul is a poem to celebrate the wedding in 566 of the Austrasian royal couple, Sigibert and Brunhild. His principal patrons were Radegund and Agnes, the royal founder and the first abbess of the monastery of the Holy Cross at Poitiers, as well as Gregory, the historian and bishop of Tours, Leontius, bishop of Bordeaux, and Felix, bishop of Nantes, but he also wrote poems for several kings and for many other members of the aristocracy. In addition to occasional poems for his patrons, Fortunatus wrote a four-book epic poem about Martin of Tours, and several works of prose and verse hagiography. The latter part of his life was spent in Poitiers, and in the 590s he became bishop of the city; he is presumed to have died early in the 7th century. For Fortunatus' life, see Brennan 1985; George 1992, 18-34; Reydellet 1994-2004, vol. 1, vii-xxviii; PCBE 4, 'Fortunatus', 801-822. The eleven books of Poems (Carmina) by Fortunatus were almost certainly collected and published at three different times: Books 1 to 7, which are dedicated to Gregory of Tours, in 576; Books 8 and 9 after 584, probably in 590/591; and Books 10-11 only after their author's death. A further group of poems, outside the structure of the books, and known from only one manuscript, has been published in modern editions as an Appendix to the eleven books. For further discussion, see Reydellet 1994-2004, vol. 1, lxviii-lxxi; George 1992, 208-211. Almost all of Fortunatus' poems are in elegiac couplets: one hexameter line followed by one pentameter line. For the cult of saints, Fortunatus' poems are primarily interesting for the evidence they provide of the saints venerated in northern Gaul, since many were written to celebrate the completion of new churches and oratories, and some to celebrate collections of relics. For an overview of his treatment of the cult of saints, see Roberts 2009, 165-243.

Discussion

Eufronius (PCBE 4, 'Eufronius 4', pp. 673-679) was bishop of Tours between 556 and 573, the immediate predecessor of Gregory of Tours. This is the second of a group of three texts addressed to him, two prose letters and a poem, which constitute the first three items in Book 3 of Fortunatus' Poems (for a very similar passage from the first prose letter, see E07842). Here Fortunatus asks Eufronius to pray to Martin for the saint's intercession on his (Fortunatus') behalf.

Bibliography

Editions and translations: Leo, F., Venanti Honori Clementiani Fortunati presbyteri Italici opera poetica (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Auctores Antiquissimi 4.1; Berlin: Apud Weidmannos, 1881). Roberts, M., Poems: Venantius Fortunatus (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 46; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017). George, J., Venantius Fortunatus, Personal and Political Poems (Translated Texts for Historians 23; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1995). Reydellet, M., Venance Fortunat, Poèmes, 3 vols. (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1994-2004). Further reading: Brennan, B., "The Career of Venantius Fortunatus," Traditio 41 (1985), 49-78. George, J., Venantius Fortunatus: A Latin Poet in Merovingian Gaul (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992). Roberts, M., The Humblest Sparrow: The Poetry of Venantius Fortunatus (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2009).

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