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Cantatur ad delectationem: Ambrose's lyric poetry

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the poetical side of Ambrose's remarkable creation. In the field of Christian Latin poetry others had already explored the possibilities of epic poetry, and Ambrose became the pioneer of truly lyric poetry, choosing an existing metrical pattern, which had never functioned independently. By his own example he proved the huge potential of this metrical pattern, which he moulded into its successful form: eight stanzas of four verses, each in the jambic dimeter, in its pure form eight syllables. Producing truly poetical Christian hymns required technical literary skill and a lyrical perception of the created world. Ambrose's classical education had taught him the first of these and his talent for the second was further inspired and deepened by his view of creation as a source of delight and imagination, which could also be explored for literary objectives.

Keywords: Ambrose; Christian hymns; Christian Latin poetry; Latin literature; literary epistles

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