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Arator on the Acts of the ApostlesA Baptismal Commentary$
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Richard Hillier

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198147862

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198147862.001.0001

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Poet and Pope: Text and Context

Poet and Pope: Text and Context

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 Poet and Pope: Text and Context
Source:
Arator on the Acts of the Apostles
Author(s):

Richard Hillier

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198147862.003.0001

April 6, 544 was a day of no ordinary significance in the life of Pope Vigilius and the Roman Catholic Church over which he presided. It was the day a party, albeit in ceremonial guise, was called by the Pope to celebrate the completion of a new poem written by one of the clergy on the papal staff. The poet was Arator, and his work was a reworking in verse of the Acts of the Apostles, the Historia Apostolica. Rome in the spring of 544 was a city bracing itself for attack on two fronts: one by the Gothic leader Totila and the other by Justinian's condemnation of the so-called Three Chapters. A close reading of Arator's work shows quite clearly that it is a commentary on the Acts of the Apostles in verse form. Arator emphasizes the importance of baptism as a pervading theme in the Acts of the Apostles, particularly the way in which episodes which appear to have no direct connection with baptism are made to divulge baptismal significance when subjected to allegorical interpretation.

Keywords:   Pope Vigilius, Arator, Historia Apostolica, Acts of the Apostles, Roman Catholic Church, baptism, Three Chapters, Justinian, poem

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