Lactantius and De mortibus persecutorum

Authors

  • Milan Lovenjak University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Slovenia

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.4312/clotho.3.1.123-139

Keywords:

Lactantius, De mortibus persecutorum, panegyric, propaganda, Constantine

Abstract

The Book of Lucius Caecilius to Donatus on the Deaths of the Persecutors (De Mortibus Persecutorum) is preserved in a single 11th-century manuscript, discovered in 1778 in the monastery library in Moisac. In his editio princeps (1779), Etienne Baluze attributed it to the Christian rhetor Lactantius (ca. 250 – ca. 325), best known for his comprehensive discussion of the Christian faith, The Divine Institutes (Divinae Institutiones). Doubts about its authorship soon arose. Both in form and subject matter, the terrible deaths of the persecuting emperors, severely punished by God for their crimes, the text has no real parallel in late-antique literature. It was variously described as a Christian pamphlet, Constantine’s panegyric, Constantine’s propaganda etc. The form is distinctly rhetorical; it also contains elements of Christian and pagan historiography and hagiography, it is inspired by Jewish and ancient tradition, and there are noticeable similarities with the Second Book of the Maccabees and Constantine’s Oratio Ad Sanctorum Coetum. After a series of debates and articles regarding Lactantius’ authorship, when it seemed that there were no more doubts, a book by Jean Rouge and Daniel de Decker was published in 2013, revisiting the thesis that the work served Constantine’s propaganda and was created at the emperor’s initiative. The book was supported by a thorough study of other Lactantius’ works, as well as arguments based on the results of computer-aided analyses. The question seems to remain open.

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References

Izdaje in prevodi (izbor)

Baluze, Étienne. Liber de persecutione, sive de mortibus persecutorum, nunc primum editus ex vetustissimo codice MS bibliothecae Colbertinae. Pariz, 1679 (editio princeps).

Baluze, Étienne. Miscellaneorum liber secundus, hoc est collectio veterum monumentorum quae hactenus latuerant in variis codicibus ac bibliothecis. Pariz, 16792.

Brandt, Samuel in Georgius Laubmann. Lucii Caecilii de mortibus persecutorum liber vulgo Lactantio tributus. CSEL 27/2, Dunaj: F. Tempsky, 1897.

Creed, J. L. Lactantius: De mortibus persecutorum. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984, 2. izd 1990.

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Lactance: De la mort des persécuteurs. Uvod, kritična izdaja, prevod in komentar Jacques Moreau. Sources Chrétiennes 39. Pariz: Cerf, 1954.

Laktanz: De mortibus persecutorum / Die Todesarten der Verfolger. Prevod Alfons Städele. Fontes Christiani 43. Turnhout: Brepols, 2003.

Lattanzio: Come muoiono i persecutori. Uvod, prevod in opombe Mario Spinello. Collana di testi patristici 180. Rim: Città Nuova, 2005.

Rougé, Jean, in Daniel De Decker. De mortibus persecutorum: Un libelle au service de la propagande constantinienne. Bibliotheca patristica Iassiensis 4. Iaşi: Editura Universităţii Alexandru Ioan Cuza, 2013.

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Published

07.09.2021

How to Cite

Lovenjak, Milan. 2021. “Lactantius and De Mortibus Persecutorum”. Clotho 3 (1):123-39. https://doi.org/10.4312/clotho.3.1.123-139.

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