The Ancient Library

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2. Sedulius, who, in attaching his signature to the Acts of the Council of Rome, held in a. d. 721, describes himself as " Episcopus Britanniae de genere Scotorum." 3. Sedulius, an Irish Scot, who lived some hundred years later, and compiled from the works of Origen, Eusebius, Jerome, and other celebrated fathers, a commentary upon St. Paul still extant under the title " Sedulii Scoti Hiber-niensis in omnes epistolas Pauli Collectaneum."

The following pieces by the first of these indi­viduals have descended to us.

I. Paschale Carmen s. Mirabilium Divinorum Libri F., in heroic measure ; to which is prefixed in some MSS. a " Praefatio," in eight elegiac couplets, addressed to the reader, and a " Dedicatio ad Theodosium Augustum," in fifteen hexameters. If the inscription of the latter be genuine, it could not have been written after a. d. 450, for in that year the younger Theodosius died. There is also an introductory epistle addressed to the Abbot Macedonius, at whose request Sedulius had exe­cuted a prose version of the above poem. This prose version has been preserved and was published at Paris in 1585 by F. Juret, from a MS. the property of P. Pithou. Sigebertus (I. c.) main­tains that the work was first composed in prose and afterwards versified. But this account is di­rectly at variance with the words of the letter. There is some doubt as to the number of books into which the Paschale Carmen ought to be di­vided. Although the MSS. vary, all the best distribute it into five : the Anonymus Mellicensis (/. c.) states that it consists of two ; Isidorus and Honorius (II. cc.) agree that there are three, one being devoted to the signs and wonders comme­morated in the Old Testament, two to the Sacra­ments and Miracles of Christ. Trithemius (I. c.} expressly names four, and this seems to have been the arrangement contemplated by the author, who thus (Epist. ad Maced.} explains the nature, ob­ject, and extent of his undertaking: " Quatuor mirabilium divinorum libellos, quos, et pluribus pauca complexus, usque ad Passionem et Resur-rectionem Ascensionemque Domini Nostri Jesu Christi, quatuor Evangelistarum dicta congregans, ordinavi, contra omnes aemulos tuae defensioni commendo. Huic autem operi, favente Deo, Pas-ctialis Carminis nomen imposui quia Pascha nos­trum immolatus est Christus." The most easy solution of the difficulty is to be found in the sup­position which assigns the disposition of the parts, as they are now exhibited, to the first editor Asterius, who would probably give that form to the scattered papers of the deceased which to him appeared most appropriate, while transcribers, fol­lowing their own judgment, may have thought fit to introduce changes, and thus have caused the discrepancies and contradictions which we meet with in the historians of ecclesiastical literature. It is not improbable that Sedulius may, at one time, have intended the Miracles of the Old Testament to constitute a separate work, and it may even be urged that the words quoted above apply to the New Testament exclusively.


II. Veteris et Novi Teslamenti Cottatin, a sort of hymn containing a collection of texts from the Old and New Testaments, arranged in such a manner as to enable the reader to compare the two dispen­sations. The metre employed is the elegiac distich and the expressions are arranged with laborious ingenuity in such a way that the first penthemimer



of the hexameter, in each couplet, recurs as the last penthemimer of the pentameter: thus

Primus ad ima ruit magna de luce superbus ; Sic homo cum tumuit primus ad ima ruit;

a device to which grammarians have given the name of *Travd\-r)\l/ts.

III. Hymnus de CJtristo, a succinct account of the life and miracles of Christ, from the Incarnation to the Ascension, in Iambic dimeters. The first line begins with the letter A, the fifth line with the letter B, the ninth with C, the thirteenth with D, and so on at intervals of four lines until, a complete alphabet has been finished, the whole being wound up by a sort of epilogue in two elegiac distichs.

IV. .De Verbi Incarnatione, a Cento Virgilianus, first published in the collection of Martene and Durand from a MS. belonging to the monastery of Corvey on the Weser.

V. The authenticity of the epigram entitled " De tabula orbis terrarum jussu Theodosii Junioris Imperatoris facta" is more than doubtful. It is to be found in Burmann's Anthologia Latina, v. 115, or No. 274, ed. Meyer ; comp. Wernsdorf, Pott. Lot. Min. vol. iv. p. 499.

The merits of Sedulius are altogether of a nega­tive character. Every one admits that he was not destitute of talent. With the exception of several mistakes in quantity, his verse is by no means rough nor inharmonious, and his language, formed upon the model of Virgil, is not devoid of a certain degree of elegance, and cannot be pronounced im­pure ; his descriptions are not coarse nor exagge­rated. His prose, however, presents a singular contrast, the style being in. the highest degree harsh and aifected, the phraseology and syntax alike barbarous. Such inconsistencies are by no means uncommon among the writers of that epoch, and admit of easy explanation. In verse composition they confined themselves exclusively to the words and expressions which had been stamped by the authority of the poets in the Augustan age, accord­ing to the system pursued in the school exercises of modern times, while, their prose represented the ordinary language of their own day.

We have already observed that Sedulius was commended by Pope Gelasius, who couched his praise in the following terms (Distinct, xv. 3. § 25): " Venerabilis viri Sedulii Paschale Opus, quod he-roicis descripsit versibus, insigni laude proferimus." In transcribing the document the word haereticis was accidentally substituted for heroicis, and the error passed undetected in some of the authorised collections of Canons. Hence it came to pass that, for a considerable period, zealous churchmen, and among them Pope Paulus II. and Pope Hadrianus VI., moved by the authority of one so holy, were in the habit of anathematising poets in general, and of declaring that all who meddled with verse, even although the theme might relate to holy things, were heretics and accursed.

The Editio Princcps of Sedulius is a quarto volume, printed at Paris by Badius Ascensius, but without a date ; the second edition was published along with Juvencus and others by Aldus, 4to. Venet. 1502. The most elaborate editions are those of Cellarius, 8vo. Hal. 1704 and 1739 ; of Arntzenius, 4to Leovard. 1761 ; and of Arevalus, 4to. Rom. 1794. The different pieces will be found in " Poetarum veterum ecclesiasticc. Opera

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