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Technological innovation and poetical exegesis: The glass lamp in Prudentius' Cathemerinon 5

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Chapter Summary

The inventor of the glowing light (inventor rutili luminis) is hailed at the very outset of Prudentius Cathemerinon 5. That the word inventor has a special significance in this hymn becomes evident as it unfolds, for within it Prudentius uses an innovation in material culture (an invention) as the basis of a poetical exegesis. This chapter demonstrates how he does this, exploring the ways in which Prudentius employs imagery of light, fire and water/liquid in Cathemerinon 5. It argues that these have their origin in his celebration of the glass lamp, a newly introduced piece of technology in Prudentius' day. Inspired by the new technology of the glass lamp Prudentius has devised a very complex and intricate series of images that utilize light, fire, liquid and the colours red and purple.

Keywords: glass lamp; poetical exegesis; Prudentius Cathemerinon 5



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