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The Poetics of Late Latin Literature$
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Jas' Elsner and Jesús Hernández Lobato

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199355631

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199355631.001.0001

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The Early Christian Response to Platonist Poetics

The Early Christian Response to Platonist Poetics

Boethius, Prudentius, and the Poeta Theologus

(p.391) 13 The Early Christian Response to Platonist Poetics
The Poetics of Late Latin Literature

Marc Mastrangelo

Oxford University Press

The ancient “quarrel between philosophy and poetry,” articulated anew as a quarrel between poetry and theology, became fundamental to the Christian conception of literature in the fourth through sixth centuries of the Latin West. Mediated through patristic literature, a Platonist critique of poetry dominated, denying poetry’s claims to truth and conferring upon poetry a secondary intellectual status. This chapter argues that Boethius counters this critique by merging poetic and philosophical discourses in order to renew poetry’s claims to truth and to develop a dualist poetics in which poetry shares in unifying the human and the divine. Finally, the chapter suggests that Boethius’s use of poetry in the consolatio helps to clarify the poetics of early Christian poets, among them Prudentius, whose work, like the consolatio, reflects a rapprochement between the poeta and the theologus, a development that Dante, Petrarch, and Milton would take for granted.

Keywords:   Boethius, consolatio, early Christian poetry, late antique poetry, late Latin poetry, philosophy and poetry, Platonism and literature, poeta, Prudentius, theologus

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