Venantius

, or Venantius Honorius Clementia­Nus Fortunatus, a Christian poet of the sixth century, was a native of Italy, and studied at Ravenna. He applied himself to grammar, rhetoric, poetry, and jurisprudence, but was most attached to rhetoric and poetry, and was honoured by Hilduinus, the abbot of St. Denis, with the title of Scholasticissimus. It sems uncertain what was the cause of his leaving Italy for France, but the step was peculiarly fortunate for him, as his poetical genius procured him the most honourable reception. Princes, bishops, and persons of the highest ranks, became eager to confer on him marks of their esteem. He arrived in France during the reign of Sigebert, king of Austrasia, who received him with great respect. This being about the time of the king’s marriage with Brunehaut, in the year 566, Venantius composed an epithaiamium, in which he celebrated the graces and perfections of the new queen. It is also said, that he gave the king lectures on politics. The following year he went to Tours to perform a vow to St. Martin, whose image had cured him of a complaint in his eyes. He then went to Poictiers, and was invited by St. Radegonda, the foundress of a monastery there, to reside in the capacity of her secretary; and afterwards, when he became a priest, she appointed him her chaplain and almoner. He resided here for some years, employing his time in study and writing, and edifying the church as much by his example as by his works. He was much esteemed by Gregory of Tours and other prelates, and was at last himself raised to be bishop of Poictiers, which dignity, it is said, he did not long enjoy. He died about the commencement of the seventh century, some say in the year 609. His works consist of eleven books of poetry, mostly of the elegiac kind, and | generally short: hymns adapted to the services of the church: epitaphs, letters to several bishops, and some to Gregory of Tours: courtly verses addressed to queen Radegonda, and her sister Agnes, usually sent with presents of flowers, fruit, &c. four books of the “Life of St. Martin,” in heroic verse: several lives of the saints. Editions of his works were published at Cagliari in 1573, 1574, and 1584, and at Cologne in 1600: but all these are said to be incomplete and incorrect, yet they shew the respect paid to him as the best Latin poet of his time. In 1603 Christopher Brower, a German Jesuit, produced a very correct edition, with notes, printed at Fulda, and reprinted at Mentz, in 1617, 4to; but this contains only his poems. His other works are in the “Bibliotheca Patrum,” of Lyons, 1677. The most complete edition is that of Rome, published under the title of “Venantii opera omnia quae extant, post Browerianam editionetn mine recens novis addiiamentis aucta, not. et scholiis illustr. opera Mich-Ange Luchi,1786—87, 2 vols. 4to. 1

1 Vossius de Hist. Lat. et De Poet. Lat. Fabric. Bibl. Lat. Med. R--\ —Moreri. Biog. Univ, art. Fortupat. Suxii Onomast.