The poetics of Latin prose praise and the fourth-century curve

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Despite the recommendations of treatises—by Quintilian, Menander, Rhetor, and others—which encourage the notion of an ossified genre, chronological sequencing of surviving late Latin prose panegyric opens a view of generic evolution. Poeticization (not versification) was available as a means of renewing praise discourse to include golden and silver allusions, intertext by quotation and paraphrase, lexical adventure in neologism, and incorporation of poetic lexis and “locus.” What emerges is a trajectory towards a more poeticized rhetoric. In this regard Pacatus, in his speech of 389 CE, may represent a culmination in the narrative of the aesthetics of political praise discourse, but he is by no means its only innovator. Panegyrical poetics were in constant flux, but the general direction was to bring this prose closer to poetry.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Poetics of late Latin literature
EditorsJaś Elsner, Jesús Hernández Lobato
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9780199355655
ISBN (Print)9780199355631
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2017

Publication series

NameOxford studies in late antiquity


  • Late Latin
  • Literary aesthetics
  • Panegyric
  • Poetics
  • Prose


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