Venantius Fortunatus in Passiontide

30 03 2007

The ‘Pange, lingua gloriosi’ presents not only an apt study in Passiontide; it also begs the question as to what traditions Fortunatus was drawing on. Verses two and three are of particular interest for their suggestion that recapitulation is inherently medicinal.

Pange, lingua, gloriosi proelium certaminis
et super crucis tropaeo dic triumphum nobilem,
qualiter redemptor orbis immolatus vicerit.

De parentis protoplasti fraude factor condolens,
quando pomi noxialis morte morsu corruit,
ipse lignum tunc notavit, damna ligni ut solveret.

Hoc opus nostrae salutis ordo depoposcerat,
multiformis perditoris arte ut artem falleret
et medelam ferret inde, hostis unde laeserat.

Quando venit ergo sacri plenitudo temporis,
missus est ab arce patris natus orbis conditor
atque ventre virginali carne factus prodiit.

Vagit infans inter arta conditus praesaepia,
membra pannis involuta virgo mater adligat,
et pedes manusque crura stricta pingit fascia.

Lustra sex qui iam peracta tempus implens corporis,
se volente, natus ad hoc, passioni deditus,
agnus in crucis levatur immolandus stipite.

Hic acetum, fel, arundo, sputa, clavi, lancea;
mite corpus perforatur; sanguis, unda profluit,
terra pontus astra mundus quo lavantur flumine.

Crux fidelis, inter omnes arbor una nobilis,
nulla talem silva profert flore, fronde, germine,
dulce lignum dulce clavo dulce pondus sustinens.

Flecte ramos, arbor alta, tensa laxa viscera,
et rigor lentescat ille quem dedit nativitas,
ut superni membra regis mite tendas stipite.

Sola digna tu fuisti ferre pretium saeculi
atque portum praeparare nauta mundo naufrago,
quem sacer cruor perunxit fusus agni corpore.

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2 responses

12 06 2007
Death Bredon

Recapitulation — restoring humanity to its pre-fallen state via the Incarnation of the New Adam — is surely medicinal to all who are “in Christ” by the force of the principle of reflexivity or identity. So, your reading seems likely.

12 06 2007
HanseaticEd

Yes, but what is particularly interesting is to distinguish the ways in which the medicine is understood. Contrasting Ambrose and Augustine’s use with that of Ephrem, for example, reveals a very different emphasis in terms of the patient. For the latter, it is the general state of humankind. For the former, it is the specific sins of individuals. And if individual, then not recapitulative.

As for Fortunatus, I wasn’t surprised to find the medicinal reference in his poetry, but I was surprised to read it in such an Irenaean context as this.

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