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Venantius Fortunatus

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Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus (approx. 530 - approx. 600) was a Latin poet and hymnodist.

Venantius Fortunatus was born in northern Italy somewhere between Treviso and Ceneda; he was educated at Ravenna. He was a close associate of St Gregory of Tours. He became bishop of Poitiers sometime before the year 600.

He is best known for two poems that have become part of the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church, the Pange lingua gloriosi proelium certaminis ("Sing, O tongue, of the glorious struggle"), a hymn that later inspired St Thomas Aquinas's Pange Lingua. He also wrote Vexilla Regis prodeunt ("The banners of the King are lifted"), which is a sequence sung at vespers during Holy Week. This poem was written in honour of a large piece of the supposed True Cross that had been sent from the Byzantine Emperor Justin II to Queen Radegunde of the Franks, who after her husband Chlotar I's death had founded a monastery in Aquitaine.

All in all, Venantius Fortunatus wrote eleven surviving books of poetry in Latin. His verse is important in the development of later Latin literature, largely because he wrote at a time when Latin prosody was moving away from the quantitative verse of classical Latin towards the accentual meters of medieval Latin. His style sometimes suggests the influence of Hiberno-Latin, in learned Greek coinages that occasionally appear in his poems. He also wrote a hagiography of St Martin of Tours, and a life of Queen Radegunde.

External links

  • Venantius Fortunatus (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06149a.htm) entry in the 1914 Catholic Encyclopedia
  • Poems (http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/venantius.html) at The Latin Library (Latin)
  • Pange, Lingua, gloriosi proelium certaminis (http://www.orbilat.com/Latin/Texts/06_Medieval_period/Poetry-Religious/Venantius_Fortunatus-Pange_lingua.html) (Latin)
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