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Interpreting cultural change: Semiotics and exegesis in Dracontius' de Laudibus Dei

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Chapter Summary

Literary histories use to classify Dracontius' De laudibus Dei (LD), written during the last years of the fifth century AD, as biblical poetry, sometimes even as biblical 'epics'. This chapter concentrates on some observations of how interpretation is related to the structure and intent of the LD. It shows that it is interpretation itself the poem is concerned with, which means that it is not only using specific ways of interpreting texts, but presenting a selection of interpretative tools, and discussing the need for interpretation as a fundamental feature of human existence as opposed to the divine. Dracontius explores Christian faith as a principle of interpretation that is not limited to single phenomena, but includes history, culture and nature in order to offer what we may term a universal semiotic code.

Keywords: biblical poetry; Dracontius' De laudibus Dei; modes of exegesis; Roman pagan culture; universal semiotic code



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