Prudentius, Clemens Aurelius

, an ancient Christian poet, was born in Spain in the year 348 but in what part is uncertain. He was brought up a lawyer and, being called to the bar, was afterwards made a judge in two considerable towns. He was then promoted by the | emperor Honorius to a very high office; but not to the consulate, as some have imagined. He was fifty-seven before he employed his mind on religion, and then wrote his poems on pious subjects, which are neither deficient in the true poetic spirit, nor much imbued with it. He often uses harsh expressions, not reconcileable to pure Latinity, and is even jjuilty of false quantity. These effusions, to which he chiefly gave Greek titles, are, “Psychoniachia, or The Combat of the Soul” “Cathemerinon, or Poems concerning each day’s duty” “Tlegi rspavuv, or Hymns in Praise of Martyrs” “Apotheosis, or Treatises upon divine subjects, against Jews, Infidels, and Heretics;” “Hamartigena, or concerning Original Sin, against Marcion” “Two Books against Symmachus” “Diptichon, or some Histories of the Old and New Testament in distichs.” In the two books against Symmachus, he shews the original of false deities, gives an account of the conversion of the city of Rome and answers the petition, which Symmachns presented to the emperors, to obtain the reestablishment of the Altar of Victory, and other ceremonies of the pagan religion. These books were written before the victory gained over Radagaisus in the year 405, and after that which Stilicho won over Alaric near Pollentia in the year 402 for he mentions the latter, and say* nothing of the former, though his subject required it.

The time of Prudentius’s death is not mentioned. His works were published by Aldus at Venice in 1501, 4to, and that edition has been followed by many others. A Variorum edition was published by Weitzius, at Hanau, in 1613; another, with the notes and corrections of Nicholas Heinsius, at Amsterdam, in 1667, 12mo, neatly printed by Daniel Elzevir; another “In usum Delphini,” by father Chamillard, at Paris, 1687, 4to, and a splendid edition at Rome in 1788, 4to. 1


Gen. Dict. —Moreri. Lardner’s Works. Blount’s Censura. Jortin’s Observations, vol. III. —Saxii Onomast.