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The saint as preacher. Remarks on a rare motif in late antique and medieval poetry

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Chapter Summary

'The Saint as Preacher' is invariably a sign of cross-over between two literary genera. The poetic sermon embedded into a narrative context remains a plausible literary device that could have come into existence. Moreover, it also shows how the genesis of a new literary genre involves the adoption of some traditional devices and the rejection of others, according not so much to narrative necessity or a new standard of poetic aptum but to the changed self-representation of the poet. This may be a step towards an answer to the vexing question why late antique Christian poetry, together with its medieval continuation, is so rarely truly 'Vergilian'. Being a Christian poet meant defining oneself by using new, and predominantly ecclesiastic, rolemodels and accepting the formal restrictions accompanying them.

Keywords: late antique Christian poetry; Medieval Poetry; poetic sermon; saint



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