Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Venantius Fortunatus, Gelegentlich Gedichte: Das Lyrische Werk, Die Vita Des Hl. Martin

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Venantius Fortunatus, Gelegentlich Gedichte: Das Lyrische Werk, Die Vita Des Hl. Martin

Article excerpt

Venantius Fortunatus, Gelegentlich Gedichte: Das lyrische Werk, Die Vita des hl. Martin. Translated, with Introduction and Commentary, by Wolfgang Fels. [Bibliothek der Mittellateinischen Literatur, Band 2.] (Stuttgart: Hiersemann. 2006. Pp. xlvi, 500. euro124,00.)

The poetry of Venantius Fortunatus remains something of an underutilized resource for the social and cultural history of the early Merovingian period. Wolfgang Fels's translation, therefore, which makes available in a single volume a reliable modern translation of the entire Fortunatan poetic corpus is a welcome event. His version includes not just the Carmina and the Life of St. Martin but also the Spuria, which Friedrich Leo printed along with the authentic poems in his monumental edition of 1881. Fels, in fact, argues for the authenticity of the last of these poems (Spuria 11), but I am inclined to agree with Leo that the poem is alien to Fortunatus's manner.

The translation is clear and readable and will allow scholars to appreciate the variety of Fortunatus' subject matter and some of his distinctive literary qualities. Fels has chosen to imitate the dactylic meters of his original, mostly elegiac couplets, but hexameters for the four-book Life of St Martin. Occasionally this requires a certain freedom in his handling of Fortunatus's language, but nothing that does violence to or inaccurately represents the original. In his Introduction Fels speaks of Fortunatus's love of word play and effects of sound, a distinctive aspect of Fortunatan poetics, which he aims to reproduce when possible. In this respect, perhaps understandably given that he is also writing a metrical version, Fels's success is mixed. To take one example, Fortunatus's alliterative comment on St. Martin's healing of a leper, which comes close to the end of book 1 of the Life, "faithful in its fealty faith faithfully made fair the foul" (1.506), finds no equivalent in Fels's translation. At times, too, I felt Fortunatus's characteristic metaphorical invention was watered down in the translation. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.