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Order, Ambiguity, and Authority in Venantius Fortunatus, Carm. 3.26

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Chapter Summary

This chapter argues that by allowing his readers to understand the opening and closing couplets of carm. 3.26 in discrete ways, Venantius Fortunatus exploits ambiguity in order to control the ways in which this poem might be understood, thus affirming most powerfully his poetic authority. Modes of poetic order found throughout the poem thus go to the larger interpretive project highlighted at the poem's beginning and end, where ambiguity, as the most important kind of ordering, controls the poet's words. It is difficult to discern obvious patterns of order among the individual words of vv. 7 or 8, but between these lines parallel words draw attention to the beginnings and endings of both. Thus, the initial words, non and nec, are parallel, as are the words that follow each, furor and boreas, both subjects in their respective lines.

Keywords: ambiguity; boreas; carm. 3.26; couplets; furor; poetic order; Venantius Fortunatus



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