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Rome Personified, Rome Epitomized: Representations of Rome in the Poetry of the Early

Fifth Century
Author(s): Michael Roberts
Source: The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 122, No. 4 (Winter, 2001), pp. 533-565
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1561821
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Michael Roberts

The last years of the fourth and the beginning of the fifth
century (the reigns of Theodosius and his sons) mark a cru
the Christianization of Rome.1 The hold of the city and all it s
the imagination of the ruling classes was as strong as ever. But
legislation had definitively established the dominance of Ch
the empire, and even in Rome the aristocracy was becomi
sively more Christian.2 These changing circumstances find
the way Rome was represented in contemporary literature
indebted to the traditional language of the laudes Romae a
established literary traditions, the authors of the period find n
inflect the image of Rome that mirror their differing relig
tural allegiances.
Three poets make the largest contributions to that evolu
representation of Rome. Claudius Claudianus was born in A
370) but came to Rome in 394. His first Latin poem cel
consuls of 395, Probinus and Olybrius, but thereafter most
served the interests of his patron and the emperor Honoriu
ister, the Vandal general Stilicho. Of particular importance for
sentation of Rome are his consular panegyrics, for the co
Honorius (396, 398, and 404) and Stilicho (400), and his tw
epics on the campaigns against the African warlord Gi
Gildonico 398) and against Alaric in 401-402 (De bello G
Claudian wrote his last dated poem in 404. Nothing is heard
that date and it is likely he died soon thereafter.
Claudian's Christian contemporary, Aurelius Prudentius
was born, according to the verse preface he wrote to his collect
in 348. After a successful career in the imperial admini

1 Fuhrmann 1968, 532.

1 Brown 1961 = 1972,161-82.

American Journal of Philology 122 (2001) 533-565 ? 2001 byThe Johns Hopkins University

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534 michael roberts

withdrew from public life to de

God. Two works are especially re
the Contra Symmachum, in two
though book 1 may have been w
collection of poems on the ma
Lawrence (Perist. 2), Hippolytus
and Agnes (Perist. 14). Peristephano
took to Rome, generally dated to 4
was not his first trip to the capita
The third poet, Rutilius Namat
was praefectus urbi in 414. His p
survive in its entirety, describes h
in 417.4 It is haunted by the de
Gaul by the recent barbarian inv
paean of praise to Rome, the etern
its reverses. Rutilius' patriotic de
provides an optimistic counterpo
desolation that runs as a leitmoti
Rome figures in the three poe
sonified as a woman, whose attri
city and empire as well as the cont
state.5 As an alternative to this me
city may be encapsulated by cert
raphy, in an epitome of its urban
(or synecdochic) relationship to
example from a later period, w
vanced age to write his life story i
that he took to Rome in the com
time he was not yet three years ol
visit. Instead of personal recolle

3 See Lana 1962, 23-32, and Palmer 19

41 follow Cameron 1967 for the date o
5 In this article I am concerned to trace
is figured in my chosen texts, and how
cultural issues at stake in the period and o
situation and hopes for the future of Rom
cal and the metonymic ultimately to Rom
fundamental axes of discourse.) I do n
significance of Rome, its relation to the
which the city can stand. These aspects
cussed by other scholars.

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Virgil and describes "the walls of glorious Rome, made famous

city's hills" ("urbis / inclita culminibus praeclarae moenia Romae
36-37). The epithet inclita (Aen. 6. 781) and the line-ending
Romae (Aen. 1.7) are both Virgilian. Rome is metonymically em
by a cluster of physical features, walls, and hills, given resonanc
evocation of the great Roman epic. This combination of epitom
detail and Virgilian reminiscence is typical of the poets studied
article. Paulinus' only view of the city was in the irrecoverable
infancy, but he shares the techniques he uses to summon up that ci
poets who knew weil the real Rome.


Of the two strategies, personification-metaphor is the bette

here I can be briefer. The goddess Roma appears as a
narrative in five of Claudian's poems: Panegyrcus dictus Pro
consulibus (Prob.) 75-173, De bello Gildonico 17-212,
1.371-513, De consulatu Stilichonis 2.223-407, De sexto co
6.356-493. In the earliest of these poems, on the consulsh
and Olybrius, she appears dressed in the manner of Min
the exposed breast of an Amazon (Prob. 84-89), the so-ca
of the goddess familiar from ancient art.6 Claudian's R
pronounced influence of such artistic representations. T
over the goddess's appearance?her bearing, dress, and t
carries?as the metonymic index of Rome's status. When, fam
she appeals to Jupiter for aid against the African rebel,
pearance fits her state: drawn cheeks, wasted limbs, ill-
broken-down shield, and rusty spear (Gild. 21-25). When
her petition, her vigor is miraculously restored (Gild. 2
Roma had spoken of herself as grown old in military cam
tae ... senectae," 115), she now enjoys restored youth ("m
208). The topos of Roma as an old woman, correspondin
uity of the city and its empire, finds its fullest exposition
though it goes back to the first century a.d. (14.6.3-6).7 T
its ambiguous connotations of reverent status but also

6 Mellor 1981,1015-16. See, too, Cameron 1970,274-76 and 364-66

the art of late antiquity. Klein (1985,114-28) considers Claudian's repre
from a political and ideological perspective.
7 Cf. Luc. 1.188, Mart. 5.7.3, and Florus Pr. 4.

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536 michael roberts

recurs repeatedly in the litera

centuries to encode the tension
the famous debate over the res
senate house in 384, Symmachu
Rome as mouthpiece of their ar
her years becomes a bone of con
Ep. 18.7). In Claudian the fulles
Getico 50-53. The poet bids Ro
rens," 52) and lay aside the humil
que metum depone senectae," 53),
threat of Alaric and the Visigo
object of the veneration appro
Claudian displaces the effect of
empire as a whole: "Vitality has
and the flush of life has come ba
On each of the five occasion
in Claudian's poetry she deliver
with the rhetorical tradition o
speeches of Rome in Symmach
first Catilinarian (17-18?speec
panegyric of Maximian and Co
cordance with the general teno
speeches in Claudian contain a
De bello Gildonico 17-127 stand
rather than a work of panegyri
to the norms of epic. Roma's sp
in its hearer, Jupiter, for her
group of speeches delivered in
on earth, though Jupiter imm
events in the human realm by
father (also Theodosius) to appe
urging them to take measures
In the other four poems R
human (or humans): Theodosiu
gether (in Eutr.) and individu
consulatu sexto Honorii. The su
her addressees, as their petition

8 "Ut sese pariter diffudit in omnia

urbibus aegris" (Get. 436-37).

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poems and finds precedent in the similar stance of Roma in an

fourth-century panegyric (Pan. Lat. 7.10.5). Claudian is careful t
a narrative structure, bridging the divine and human, in which
dess can act. Roma is imagined to reside in her temple in Rom
travels through the air to Theodosius, on the battlefield of th
Frigidus (Prob. 100-12), to Stilicho and Honorius encamped nort
Po (Eutr. 1.375-77), or to Stilicho alone in the palace of Milan (Co
2.270-74). Her arrival is accompanied by manifestations of her
when she appeared to Theodosius, "the rocks resounded three
consciousness of her presence and the dark grove trembled in aw
divinity" (Prob. 125-26); in Milan "the palace shimmered with h
liant shield and the top of her helmet-crest reached to the pan
ceiling" (Cons. Stil. 2.276-77). To Honorius, too, encamped beyo
Po, she shows herself as superhumanly large, once she has thrown o
mist that conceals her (Eutr. 1.390).9 The ideas, and often the la
derive from the tradition of divine epiphanies in epic. But the
ment of a divinity to elevate and lend superhuman status to h
action also serves an important panegyric purpose. The easy inte
between divine and human and the promotion of terrestrial acti
god are reminiscent of the role of divinities in late Latin epit
from Statius on.10 In Claudian's own epithalamium for Honori
Maria, the daughter of Stilicho, for instance, the goddess travel
and air to the imperial palace to urge Maria to wed her royal g
Roma, though a more august goddess than Venus, has function
analogous role. While Venus flies in a chariot drawn by swans,
chariot is yoked by her attendants Attack and Fear (Impetus and
The divine machinery of epic shades into the celebratory function o
mythological masque of other epideictic poetic genres.11
In Claudian's Roma, the rhetorical prosopopoeia, artistic tra
of personification and the copresence of the divine and human i
rial relief sculpture, and epic and epideictic poetics coincide.The

9 "Conscia ter sonuit rupes et inhorruit atrum / maiestate nemus" (Prob.

"tremit orbe corusco / iam domus et summae tangunt laquearia cristae" (Cons. S
77); "dimovit nebulam iuvenique apparuit ingens" (Eutr. 1.390).
10 Roberts 1989b. For the parallel with such epideictic forms see Dopp 198
(especially 36). In his epithalamium Statius, like Claudian in his panegyrical poetry
a narrative scenario that motivates and provides a context for the easy exchang
divine and human (in Statius' case between Venus and Violentilla).
11 Compare, for instance, the role of nymphs and other minor deities in
Silvae and Ausonius' Mosella.

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is a literary creation, not the object

Rome, once shorn of her aspirations
herself to the Christian poetry of Cla
Roman patriot, Prudentius. In book 1
dentius criticizes the cult of the god
forms of sacrifice and ceremonial it
pagan divinities by its effects on the im
not prevent the Christian emperor T
against the usurpers Maximus and Euge
to personified Rome, addressed as "f
and "queen" (regina, 430). At his u
throws off past errors and her wrin
lineaments (1.506-8).12 The poet objec
cult, but as a literary personification
In book 2 of the poem, Prudentius
ments given by Symmachus in the R
the Altar of Victory. Symmachus ha
for respect for her ancestral religiou
jects the argument but not the litera
himself. Symmachus, he says, adopt
falsehood, like a singer of a tragic m
the word persona shows that Prudent
popoeia, for which one Latin translation
In Prudentius' view the Roman empir
for the coming and spread of Christi
sent the final triumphant stage in t
Symmachus' representation of Rome
petition the emperors in demeaning
speech, addressed to her two alumni
celebrates the conversion of the city
cently won by Christian armies at th
Prudentius' own version of the pers
ploys visual imagery and metonymic
gray hair has grown golden again,
emperors (2.656-58).14 She still wears

12 "Talibus edictis urbs informata refugit /

nubila discussit." Although the theme of rejuven
physical change in informata contributes to th
13 Charlet 1986, 41-42.
14 "Senium omne renascens/deposui vidique
Symm. 2.656-58.

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and a wreath of green foliage covers her sword belt. Prudenti

these details of her armor an allegorical reading. She still carries arm
external wars, but her weapons are swathed in greenery because
no longer used in the persecution of innocent Christians (2.661-
Prudentius' use of such a figure is all the more surprising
earlier in the book he had criticized another personification, of
as the foolish contrivance of poets and painters (2.31-60), who "
beings lacking physical form with invented limbs" ("res incor
simulatis fingere membris," 2.58).16 Military victory, he argues, com
from a goddess but from the warlike efforts of the Roman sold
similar vein Prudentius identifies the city of Rome with its people
71 and 2.443-44), and particularly with the senatorial class.17 B
attitude is not consistent. The imaginative resonance for a Roman p
like Prudentius of the figure of Roma is too strong. She is not a
nor is she an actor in the narrative, as she is in Claudian, who follow
and epideictic precedents. But as a mouthpiece for Prudentius'
ments, personified Roma remains a powerful rhetorical instrum
reimagining her physical appearance in accordance with his Ch
argument, Prudentius avails himself of the semiotic convention
the metonymic detail of Roma's bearing, dress, and armor is availab
a metaphorical and ideological reading.
For Rutilius, Roma is once more a goddess (1.79), the most
ful queen of the world (1.46). Although she does not speak, sh
dressed in an extended hymn expressing an emotional devotion
goddess that far exceeds anything in Claudian. The emotion
derives in part from the situation of the speaker: he is bidding
farewell to his beloved city. But the circumstances of the time m
lend poignancy to this evocation of Rome's greatness. After the
of Rome by Alaric and the invasion of Rutilius' native Gaul, th
optimism of a Prudentius, writing in the first few years of the cent
no longer available. Rome's greatness, represented by its foundi
ends (1.67-72), imperial achievements (1.71-92), buildings and m
ments (1.93-114), and the tribute of produce paid by personifie

15 "Nunc, nunc iusta meis reverentia conpetit annis, / nunc merito dicor ve
et caput orbis,/cum galeam sub fronde oleae cristasque rubentes / concutio vir
fera cingula serto/atque armata Deum sine crimine caedis adoro," C Symm. 2.6
16 On this passage see Gnilka 1991,16-33.
17 "Si persona aliqua est aut si status urbis, in his [sc. domibus nobilium]
formam patriae facit excellentior ordo, / hi faciunt," C. Symm. 1.569-71; "Romam
quos mentem credimus urbis, / non genium, cuius frustra simulatur imago," C

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and nations (1.145-54), becomes an art

troubled conviction.18
Rutilius' praise of Rome ends with a prayer that he be granted
smooth sailing back to Gaul (1.155-58). Although this is the ostensible
purpose to which the whole hymn is leading, the greater weight of signifi?
cance lies on the previous section, calling for the resurgence of Rome
after its recent reverses. The section begins with the traditional, meto-
nymically detailed description of a personified Roma:

Erige crinales lauros seniumque sacrati

verticis in virides, Roma, retinge comas;
aurea turrigero radient diademata cono
perpetuosque ignes aureus umbo vomat.
Abscondat tristem deleta iniuria casum;
contemptus solidet vulnera clausa dolor. (1.115-20)
Raise up, Rome, your laurel headdress and color once more your
holy head with fresh and youthful hair. May a golden diadem shine b
with tower-crowned peak and a golden shield continually flame for
brilliance. Forget your injury and wipe away your bitter suffering; by
ing your pain your wounds close and heal over.

Hair and armor again index Rome's status. In the first couplet, R
deliberately conflates the laurel appropriate to the victor with th
and vigorous hair of youth: crinales lauros can mean either "laurel
hair" or "laurel hair" (i.e., hair consisting of laurel); virides . . . c
either "youthful hair" or "green foliage." (Ernst Doblhofer [197
2:73] cites the evidence for the metaphorical sense of viridis an
cognates.) In so doing Rutilius associates Rome's rejuvenation spe
cally with her renewed military supremacy, symbolized by the t
phant laurel wreath. Roma has attributes both of warrior and qu
the next couplet: a mural crown and a shield.19 Their golden bril

18 On the tension in Rutilius' poem between optimism and pessimism see Dobl
1970,14-15, and 21, n. 18, and Roberts 1988,186-87.
19 The mural crown finds a literary parallel in Lucan 1.188. Otherwise, in p
Roma is represented wearing a helmet. Both forms of headgear are found in art, th
crown being associated particularly, though not exclusively, with city Tyches: Shelt
30-35. By using the word cono, regularly used of the top of a helmet in Latin
Rutilius again conflates two distinct attributes, the mural crown and the warrior's
Claudian (Cons. Stil. 2.21 A) emphasizes the brilliance of Roma's shield. It reflects th
she flies to Stilicho in Milan ("Eridanus clipei iam fulgurat umbra").

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again conveys her majesty and status, the aurea Roma of Ausonius
Nob. Urb. 1), Claudian (Fescennina de Nuptiis Honorii Augusti 2.19)
Prudentius (Apotheosis 385, C. Symm. 2.1114).20 Finally, in line 120, Ru
contributes a new detail to the personification of Rome, specific t
circumstances of the city and empire in the disturbed times in whi
was writing. Claudian (Gild. 21-25) had represented Roma as fami
and enfeebled by the threat Gildo posed to her grain supply. But o
Jupiter grants her petition, her symptoms are immediately reversed (G
208-12). In Rutilius, the injury (119) the city has suffered is like a wou
to her body, which will close in time and then heal. The comparison wi
the natural healing process suggests the recovery could be long d
out and, depending on the severity of the wound, unsure. It is cert
not susceptible to the quick fix of Claudian's poem. As Doblhofer p
out (1972-77, 2:74), Rutilius interprets the metaphor psychologica
abscondat has the sense of "forget," while contemptus ... dolor em
sizes the proper mental attitude needed for renewal. The gramm
and syntactical parallelism with deleta iniuria suggests that that p
too should carry a psychological sense. Rome needs time to heal. Ru
poem can be seen as a contribution to this psychological project, th
a somewhat ambiguous one. The poet does not proudly proclaim t
certainty of the city's renewal, but expresses himself in more qua
fashion with imperatives, jussive subjunctives, or wishes for the fu
The pattern of past history?Rome has always grown stronger fr
reverses?provides reasons for confidence.21 Rome is to hold her
high, thereby regaining the erect and towering posture appropria
the caput orbis (1.194). The figure of Roma, here detached from im
politics or religious controversy, remains a rallying point for a G
Roman aristocrat such as Rutilius. But the personification bears t
ominous traces of recent sufferings, wounds that have not yet he
Both Claudian and Prudentius had spoken in panegyric contex
wounds to the Roman state that only Stilicho (Cons. Stil. 2.204-5)
Theodosius (C. Symm. 1.14-18) could heal. Rutilius has no such expe
tions of an individual leader. He must pin his faith on the resilienc
recuperative powers of the personified Roma.

20 See Gernentz 1918, 58-59, for other examples of aurea Roma.

21 The passage culminates in the much-quoted couplet "Mud te reparat quod c
regna resolvit: / ordo renascendi est crescere posse malis," 1.139-40 ("What destroys o
kingdoms restores yours: your capacity for rebirth depends on being able to be stren
ened by misfortunes"). For parallels see Gernentz 1918, 93-95.

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The Walls and Hills of Rome

When, in the mid-fifth century, Paulinus of Pella wanted to evoke t

topography of Rome he needed only to refer to two features, its wal
and its hills; they could stand for the city as a whole. The combinati
goes back to Virgil, Georgics 2.534-35, "a single city surrounded its seven
hills with a wall" ("septemque una sibi muro circumdedit arces"; cLAe
6.783). It finds its most succinct formulation in the first century A.D. in
Statius' epithalamium for Stella and Violentilla, "the walls of seven-f
Rome" ("septemgeminae . . . moenia Romae"), a city Venus there de?
scribes as "Latin head of the empire" ("imperii Latiale caput," Sil
1.2.191-92).22 Paulinus is probably influenced also by his grandfathe
Ausonius' phrase "superbae / moenia Romae" ("the walls of proud Rom
Prof. Burd. 6.15-16).23 In fact, in the poetry of the late fourth and early
fifth centuries, the metonymic use of moenia is rare, perhaps because the
feature was not distinctive of Rome; many cities in late antiquity we
walled. Although Claudian, for instance, praises in De sexto consulat
Honorii Stilicho's rebuilding of the Aurelian walls, he otherwise typica
associates the walls with the founding or early history of the city.
Prudentius only twice speaks of the walls of Rome: when Theodosiu
looks down on the walls of the city in triumph (C. Symm. 1.410-11) a
in Peristephanon 11, when the persecutor, "not content continually t
dye with the blood of the just the walls of lofty Rome," takes Hippolytus
out of the city for martyrdom ("non contentus humum celsae intr
moenia Romae / tinguere iustorum caedibus adsiduis," Perist. 11.43-4
Prudentius represents the persecution as a derogation from Rome's hi
standing. While the phrase "celsae intra moenia Romae" is in the trad
tion of laudes Romae, the juxtaposition of humum with celsae and t
demeaning periphrasis "humum ... tinguere" represent the persecutor

22 The height of hills and walls implicitly legitimates Rome's claim to the title
"imperii... caput."
23 Paulinus of Nola (writing to Ausonius) has "superba ... moenia Romae" (Carm
24 6 Cons. Hon. 531-36; for the association with the founding and early history of
Rome see Gild. 28 and 109. By associating Stilicho's rebuilding of the walls with Virgilian
language of the founding of Rome, Claudian represents the actions of his patron not only
as a rejuvenation (iuvenescere) but as a refounding of the city.

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actions as bringing the city low. Finally, in Rutilius Rome's wa

referred to only in the narrow context of introducing aqueducts int
city (1.101-4).
The hills of Rome carry more extensive associations. Alrea
Virgil's account of the settlement of Evander on the future site o
hills are a prominent aspect of the topography (8.53,216,305). As
(1996, 357) observes, Statius' frequent references to the hills of
probably influenced Claudian's use of similar language.25 One fea
Virgil's topography, though, finds special resonance in later writ
describes the hymn of praise the Salii sing to Hercules reechoing
surrounding hills ("consonat omne nemus strepitu collesque resu
Aen. 8.305), the same hills, presumably, that had once sounded
lowing of the hero's cattle (8.215-16). The concentus of nature, r
ing to the Salians' hymn, communicates the consensus of divine w
This unanimity of human and natural, of sound and location
itself to panegyric. Horace provides an antecedent, recalling "wh
banks of his paternal river and the playful echo of the Vatican
sounded back the praise of Maecenas."26 In the Latin panegyrics
often responds in sympathy to the presence of an emperor (e.g.,
11.9.1-4, and 15.4). But it is Claudian, in his consular panegyric
most fully exploits the potential of this topos. Already in his
Latin poetry on the consulship of Probinus and Olybrius, he elab
on Virgil's description of the song of the Salii. Theodosius sends
senger to Rome to announce the consulship. Immediately choir
out in chant, their rhythmic applause echoing sevenfold from t
rounding hills ("Extemplo strepuere chori collesque canoris / p
inpulsi septena voce resultant," Prob. 175-76). Claudian takes the Virg
line-ending collesque resultant (Aen. 8.305) and, while preservin
position in the line of each word, extends the clause over two
Nature and human voices combine in an acclamation that unites the
whole of Rome, schematically represented by its seven hills, in a choru
of sound and evokes a typological relationship between the proto-Roma
ceremony of the Salii in the Aeneid and the circumstances of the lat
fourth-century city.

25 For references in Statius see Silv. 1.1.64-65,1.2.144-45 (with the Tiber), and 191
92,1.5.23-24 (Tiber), 2.7.45 (Tiber), 4.1.6-8, 4.4.4.; in Claud. Prob. 175-76; Fesc. 2.19-2
Cons. Stil. 2.401-2, 3.30-31,65-66,136, and 284; Get. 51; 6 Cons. Hon. 11-12,35-36,40-41,
529-31, 535-36, and 615-17.
26 "Ut paterni / fluminis ripae simul et iocosa / redderet laudes tibi Vaticani / monti
imago" (Carm. 1.20.5-8).

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In other poems Claudian uses th

realized ceremonial setting. In De s
appears before the people in the Cir

adsensuque cavae sublatus in aethera v

plebis adoratae reboat fragor unaque t
intonat Augustum septenis arcibu
The roars of the people he has honour
unison with the hollow valley and a sing
from all seven hills.

The two clauses that constitute the passage emphasize distinct elements
of the scene. The first is organized according to elevation, emphasized by
the clausula aethera vallis: the sound reaches from low to high; the
second stresses the unifying effect of the acclaim (the clausula unaque
totis). Virgil twice describes the founding of Rome as "a single city
surrounding the seven hills with a wall" ("septemque una sibi muro
circumdedit / circumdabit arces"). In Claudian "a single echo" thunders
the name of Augustus "from the seven hills." In this formulation late
Roman ceremony reenacts and derives its legitimacy from the founda-
tional act of the city's origins, as authoritatively formulated by Virgil.
Stilicho's adventus is to arouse similar enthusiasm. "How often,"
the poet asks, "will the Murcian valley [i.e., the Circus Maximus] carry to
heaven your name, echoing off the Aventine and Palatine hills?" ("ad
caelum quotiens vallis tibi Murcia ducet / nomen Aventino Pallanteoque
recussum!" Cons. Stil. 2.404-5). The ceremony imagined is the same, and
there is the same emphasis on the sound ascending to heaven from the
valley floor. The topographical specificity is new. By referring, for in?
stance, to the Palatine and Aventine rather than to all seven hills, Claudian
sacrifices the idea of the occasion as unifying the whole of the city.
Instead he emphasizes the love the population feels for Stilicho and their
suspense as they await his arrival. Suspense finds expression in chrono-
logical, and hence topographical, extension: the Flaminian Way (397),
Pincian Heights ("Pincia culmina," 401), theater of Pompey ("Pompeiana
... proscaenia," 403), and finally the Murcian valley. The mini-itinerary of
Rome draws out the expectation and communicates the emotional in?
vestment of the populace in the general's adventus.27

27 See especially 398-99: "fallax o quotiens pulvis deludet amorem / suspensum,

veniens omni dum crederis hora!" For the idea see Verg. Ecl. 8.108. Auson. Ep. 24.116-24,
uses a similar mini-itinerary in a similar context to build up suspense, concluding with the
quotation from Virgil.

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In Christian poetry Paulinus of Nola exploits the same topos for

the purposes of Christian apologetic in his eleventh Natalicium, written
for the festival of Saint Felix (a.d. 405). Paulinus describes the divine
service for the martyrs Peter and Paul in Rome.

Laudibus aeterni domini ferit aethera clamor

sanctus et incusso Capitolia culmine nutant.
In vacuis simulacra tremunt squalentia templis
vocibus icta piis inpulsaque nomine Christi. (Carm. 19.67-70
The holy chorus strikes the heavens with the praise of our eternal Lord
and the Capitol heights tremble with the shock. In deserted temples the
decaying images shake, buffeted by sacred voices and overthrown by the
name of Christ.

In Paulinus the singing of the liturgy reaches to heaven, strikes on, but
does not echo back from, the Capitol (incusso; cf. recussum, Cons. Stil.
2.405), and proclaims the name of Christ, as opposed to that of Augustus
or Stilicho (6 Cons. Hon. 617; Cons. Stil. 2.405). Each detail evokes the
topos familiar from Claudian. But although the passage exploits a sche-
matic topography of Rome?temples totter and images quake?it does
so in the service of antipagan Christian triumphalism.

Rome in Overview

In his poem celebrating Stilicho's triumphal adventus into Rome, Claudian

presents another synoptic vision of the city, addressed to the triumphant
general himself:

septem circumspice montes,

qui solis radios auri fulgore lacessunt,
indutosque arcus spoliis aequataque templa
nubibus et quidquid tanti struxere triumphi.
Quantae profueris, quantam servaveris urbem,
attonitis metire oculis. (Cons. Stil. 3.65-70)
Look round at the seven hills, which rival the sun's ra
brilliance, the arches clad in spoils, temples reaching to
that so many triumphs have built. Measure with your a
greatness of the city whose benefactor and savior you a

Claudian's "temples reaching to the clouds" ("aequataqu

bus," 67-68) evoke Virgil's comment on the scatte

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Evandrian Rome, a city whose roofto

Virgil's day) raised to the heavens ("te
tia caelo / aequavit," Aen. 8.99-100). C
derives authority from the Virgilian r
continuous tradition with Augustan R
endary first settlement of Evander.
The brilliance of Rome's buildings, and
rivals the rays of the sun or, later in
near neighbours, the stars" (Cons. Stil. 3.
("attonitis ... oculis," Cons. Stil. 3.70). In
consulate of Honorius, Claudian rew
consulatu Stilichonis 3 and describes the effect of such brilliant architec?
ture more fully: "Vision is stunned by the flash of metal; confused it loses
its capacity to discriminate in the profusion of gold" (6 Cons. Hon. 51-
52).29 The effect is akin to that experienced in the presence of a god, or
an emperor, an otherworldly aura of divinity. In panegyrics typically
Rome's splendor redounds to the greater glory of the subject of the
panegyric. Already in De consulatu Stilichonis 3.65-70, although the
general is astonished by the sight of Rome, he, nevertheless, is the bene-
factor and savior of the city.30 The relationship between city and general
finds more unambiguous expression in a later, complementary passage
praising the city: "Consul, close-companion of the gods, who look out for
so great a city ('proxime dis consul, tantae qui prospicis urbi'), a city
more powerful than all lands that the heaven embraces; no eye can
encompass its extent, no inspiration its beauty, no voice its praise; the
golden light of its rooftops it sets among the stars as their rivals and near-
neighbours" (Cons. Stil. 3.130-34). Behind the figure of Stilicho lies Lucan's
Jupiter "who looks out over the walls of the city from the Tarpeian rock"
("O magnae qui moenia prospicis urbis / Tarpeia de rupe," 1.195-96).
Claudian's description of Stilicho as proxime dis, "closest to the gods"
(i.e., most godlike), confirms the allusion to Lucan's invocation of the
supreme god, Jupiter. But the two poets employ the verb prospicis differ-
ently. In Lucan it governs an accusative, in the sense of "look out over"

28 "[Urbi] quae luce metalli/aemula vicinis fastigia conserit astris."

29 "Acies stupet igne metalli/et circumfuso trepidans obtunditur auro." For this dazzle
effect see Roberts 1989a, 73-75.
30 In Pacatus' panegyric for Theodosius Roma herself looks down in joy from her
seven hills over the harmonious scene of Theodosian Rome: "spectabas haec e tuis collibus,
Roma, et septena arce sublimis celsior gaudio ferebaris," Pan. Lat. 2.46.1. (I owe this
reference to an anonymous reader of this paper.)

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(i.e., "view"), in Claudian a dative, in the sense of "look out for" (

"protect"). Not that the first sense oiprospicis is entirely excluded
Claudian. Consul implies oversight and governance and therefore
cords with the literal sense of the verb when it takes the dative. But
proxime dis can be understood in a local sense, of proximity to the gods,
implying elevation?a prospect from which to overview the city (the
sense of prospicio with the accusative).31 There is a homology between
the elevation of Rome and of her consul, but also a clear hierarchy,
according to which the city's eminence depends on the oversight her
general provides from his commanding height.
Such high-level cityscapes, in which the brilliance of Rome's gilded
roofs merges with the clear air over the city, frequently make reference
to an elevated viewer taking in the panorama. When Claudian reworks
the passages of De consulatu Stilichonis 3 in De sexto consulatu Honorii,
it is the imperial palace, standing by metonymy for the emperor himself,
which looks out over the forum and shrines of the city (6 Cons. Hon. 42
44).32 In the first book of the Contra Symmachum, Prudentius takes the
same topos, but gives it an antipagan turn. Theodosius views the city, but
it is swathed in a pall of darkness, its polluted air preventing the bright
light of heaven from reaching the seven hills.33 When the emperor turns
to address the city, Prudentius translates his account of urban pollution
into a phantasmagoric personification of Rome, clad in gold and precious
stones but scarcely visible in the swirling mist that surrounds her figure:
the thick air and gloomy light dull the magnificence of her jewels, smoke
from pagan sacrifices obscures her diadem, and round her flit dark spirits
and black idols of pagan worship (C. Symm. 1.415-24). Theodosius bids
Rome stand up tall and raise her head to the bright heavens; that is,
abandon pagan cult for Christianity (C. Symm. 1.425-26).
Prudentius' polemical redeployment of the topos gives some sup?
port for a post-400 date for the first book of the Contra Symmachum
that is, after the third book of Claudian's panegyric on Stilicho.34 Though

31 Compare Statius' description of Domitian's statue,which by metonymy stands for

the emperor himself: "ipse autem puro celsum caput aere saeptus/templa superfulges et
prospectare videris," Silv. 1.1.32-33.
32 "Attollens apicem subiectis regia rostris / tot circum delubra videt tantisque deorum/
cingitur excubiis."
33 "Nubibus obsessam nigrantibus aspicit urbem; / noctis obumbratae caligine turbidus
aer/arcebat liquidum septena ex arce serenum" (C Symm. 1.412-14).
34 For useful summaries of the controversy over the dating of C Symm. 1, see
Bastiaensen 1993,127-28, and Garcia 1996,102-8.

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it is possible Prudentius is simply re

with Claudian's poem suggest a close
the abundance of gold and rich spoils
while for the panegyrist the seven hills
the Christian apologist they are plun
came to rework the passages from De
consulatu Honorii (A.D. 404), he intr
Prudentian text. Prudentius had spok
flying round the figure of Roma ("ca
volare," C. Symm. 1.424). When Clau
consulatu Stilichonis 3 that speaks o
("aequataque templa / nubibus," 3.
influence of Prudentius: "statues flying
thick with a throng of temples" ("m
densum stipantibus aethera templis,
places Prudentius' sinister idola nigr
roofs of temples. Prudentius had com
("turbidus," C. Symm. 1.413) and "thi
Claudian too the heavens are "densel
throng of temples" ("stipantibus . .
paganism. The force of Prudentius'
fantastic personification of the figur
describes the physical city and its mate
without personification, although th
bus?animate the scene by describing
living creatures.36 Claudian's attitude to
objects rather than places or objects
tius' perspective. At the end of Theodos
1, the emperor calls for statues to be
and for artistic monuments to be divor
instead "ornaments of the state" ("o
Rutilius' account of the splendors of Rome is in the Claudian

35 Compare Cons. Stil. 3.66 "auri fulgore" with C. Symm. 1.418 "multo circumfluis
auro"; Cons. Stil. 3.67 "indutosque arcus spoliis" with C. Symm. 1.417 "spoliisque insigne
superbis"; and Cons. Stil. 3.65-66 "septem circumspice montes,/ qui solis radios auri fulgore
lacessunt" with C. Symm. 1.413-14 "turbidus aer / arcebat liquidum septena ex arce serenum."
36 On this passage see Dewar 1996,96-97. The verb stipo is regularly used of crowds
of people, often thronging round an individual.
37 Prudentius voices similar sentiments in Perist. 2.481-84; cf. CTh 16.10.15.

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tradition. He speaks of "heights thickly adorned with troph

decora alta trophaeis," 1.93), which he likens to stars (94), an
the disorienting effect so many brilliant sights have on the v
gleaming shrines confuse the distracted vision" ("confundun
delubra micantia visus," 1.95).38 In personifying Roma (pass
above) he responds to the account of Prudentius (C. Symm.
Both poets bid Rome raise her head ("sublimem tollas .. . vu
Symm. 1.425; "erige crinales lauros," Rutilius 1.115), in Prud
above the pollution of pagan cult, in Rutilius' after the rece
military reversals. Rutilius' description of the brilliance of Rome
diadem and of the fires that stream continually from her go
re verses the situation in Prudentius, where Rome's diadem
by the smoke of pagan sacrifice (C. Symm. 1.421-22).39 But
scribing his last look back to the city of Rome from Portu
shortly before he embarks, that Rutilius provides his most
cityscape of Rome and one that contrasts strongly with Pr
vision. Rome is a shimmering mirage that gradually fades on the
As the physical outline of the city disappears from the poet's vi
of light remains, at least in the mind's eye, over the city.

Nec locus ille mihi cognoscitur indice fumo,

qui dominas arces et caput orbis habet
(quamquam signa levis fumi commendat Homerus,
dilecto quotiens surgit in astra solo),
sed caeli plaga candidior tractusque serenus
signat septenis culmina clara iugis.
Illic perpetui soles, atque ipse videtur,
quem sibi Roma facit, purior esse dies. (1.193-200)
Although Homer praises the signs of eddying smoke, when it rises to th
stars from a beloved household, no smoke indicated to me that place
which holds the heights of empire and is the head of the world, but a mo

38 Decora alta trophaeis can refer to spoil-clad arches (cf. Claudian, Cons. Stil. 3.
and 6 Cons. Hon. 50-51)?so Doblhofer 1972-77,2:62. Alta, though, may hint at the sev
hills of Rome, while densis recalls the air thick (densum) with temples of 6 Cons. Hon. 4
For the comparison with stars see Cons. Stil. 3.134. Vagos, perhaps, corresponds to Claudian
trepidans. For the inability of the viewer to concentrate on a single object when distract
by so many visual stimuli cf. Sidonius, Carm. 2.420-21. Fuchs (1943,51-58) associates
brilliance of the light over Rome with passages that identify Roman imperial rule wit
bright heaven or more benign climate (Pliny, HN 3.5.39, Florus 2.30).
39 See Doblhofer (1972-77, 2:73^1), who cites the Prudentian parallel. For the po
sible influence of Prudentius on Rutilius see also Helm 1931,16-20.

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radiant tract of sky and expanse of clear

the seven hills. There suns are continual a
creates for itself seems brighter.

No smoke over Rome, but a clear e

intense daylight. The language again su
account of Rome, where polluted air ("
from reaching the seven hills ("septen
Rutilius 1.197-98).40 Rutilius here allu
Odyssey (Od. 1.57-59) describing Odysse
land and for the smoke from domestic f
that Rutilius' denial of smoke over Rome
vision of a pall of smoke over the cit
view of Rome differs also from his pr
a distance. Rutilius describes himself a
city and following its receding profile
("respectare iuvat vicinam saepius urb
sequi," 1.189-90). The posture is that o
her retreating beloved until he is out of
in this case it is the lover who is being
love rather than the beloved who is de
passages that a lover's senses are prete
his eyes remain trained on his beloved
that he continues to see her outline m
desire ("[oculi] dum se, quod cupiunt
Similarly, his ears imagine they still h
circus or the theater echoing from the
reach his hearing or is the fiction of
vel quia fingit amor," 1.204).42 Earlier
of the light over Rome and the concer
Rutilius invests this language with a sp

40 Compare also Rutilius 1.200 purior dies wit

41 Cf. Ovid Her. 2.91-100, 5.53-58, 6.65-72,1
Statius Ach. 2.23-26. For the same situation in a
Carm. 6.5.193-200.

42 As Doblhofer notes, the language derives from Verg. Ecl. 8.108 ("credimus?
qui amant, ipsi sibi somnia fingunt?"), also describing a lover longing for a belo
Ausonius imitates the same Virgilian line in an epistle lamenting the absence of Paulinu
Nola (Ep. 24.124). For the line en&irxgfingit amor see Ov. Pont. 1.9.8. For a lover's vision
preternaturally acute see Ov. Her. 6.71-72; Venantius Fortunatus Carm. 6.5.194.

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and sounds are perceived from a distance by a departing lover

emphasis on the fallibility of perception accords with the ambigui
the poem as a whole: is the De reditu suo a celebration of Ro
continuing greatness or an elegy for an era that is passing?

The Tiber

The River Tiber occupies a privileged place in the symbolic geography of

urbs Roma. Statius three times combines the hills of Rome with the Tiber
as synecdoche for the city as a whole (Silv. 1.2.144-45,1.5.23-24,2.7.45).
A passage from an anonymous panegyric of Constantine, celebrating the
emperor's victory at the Milvian Bridge, demonstrates some of the asso?
ciations the river had for a late antique audience. The orator addresses
the "sacred Tiber, once adviser of your guest Aeneas, next savior of the
exposed Romulus"; the river provides nourishment for Rome by trans-
porting supplies and protection by encircling its walls (Pan. Lat. 12.18.1.)43
Far from being just a topographical feature, the river summons up the
most treasured legends of Rome's early history. In the Aeneid, as the
panegyrist recalls, the river god had appeared to Aeneas in a dream and
bid him seek an alliance with Evander (Aen. 8.31-67). The Tiber is also
closely associated with the birth and infancy of Rome's founders, Romulus
and Remus, who, when ordered to be drowned in the river, were left high
and dry by its receding waters (Livy 1.4.3-6). In a version of the legend
Ilia (= Rhea Silvia), the mother of the twins, becomes the wife of the
river god (Hor. Odes 1.2.17-20).
In Claudian's panegyric on Probinus and Olybrius he shows him?
self sensitive to the associations of the Tiber. Personified Roma carries a
shield depicting Romulus and Remus, Mars, the Tiber?described by
antonomasia as the "devout river" (pius amnis)?and the wolf who suck-
led the twins (Prob. 96-97). The whole makes an iconographic ensemble
that encapsulates the legend of Rome's founding. By carrying a shield
with such a device the goddess Roma recognizes the derivation of her
greatness from that foundational sequence of events.
Later in the same poem Claudian personifies the Tiber exulting in
the consular ceremonies for the brothers Probinus and Olybrius. In
attributing a speech to the river god, the late antique poet is following

43 "Sancte Thybri, quondam hospitis monitor Aeneae, mox Romuli conservator

expositi_Tu Romae tuae altor copiis subvehendis, tu munitor moenibus ambiendis." I use
the translation of Nixon and Rodgers 1994, 321.

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Virgil's example. His account of Tiber

Augustan predecessor?both gods hav
hair?although in spirit the passage is m
the south wind in the Metamorphoses.,
part in the human action; his role is t
pose. He summons his fellow rivers to
ers' consulship, a banquet that parallels
for the two consuls in the city. As synec
the historical memory of Rome's legen
priate god to honor Probinus and Olybriu
between present and past. As a metony
god is imagined wearing a cloak wove
another pair of brothers, Romulus an
Elsewhere in Claudian the river is a
degree stands for, the city of Rome (Get
Prudentius, C. Symm. 2.871). In Rutil
pearance as a personified god. The poet
reeds as a triumphal wreath, consisten
past military greatness ("ipse triumph
1.151).45 And alone of the late Latin p
Constantine in envisaging the river as
he prays it will carry to Rome rich p
countryside and upstream from the s
conditions of Rutilian Italy normal com
for granted; the poet expresses the h
needs of Rome ("Romuleis famulas u
doing he uncouples the city and river, re
tion of the two that is found in Claudian.

44 Compare Claudian, Prob. 217 "vertice luxuriat toto crinalis harundo" with Verg.
Aen. 8.34 "et crinis umbrosa tegebat harundo" (cf. Ov. Fast. 5.637 and Sid. Apoll. Carm.
2.333-34). Although there are no exact correspondences in language between Claudian
and Ovid, both describe only the upper torso of the god?head/face, beard, forehead, and
chest?and both gods are soaked and dripping with water (Claud. Prob. 220-23; Ov. Met.
45 Doblhofer 1972-77, 2:88, compares Ov. Met. 9.3 "inornatos redimitus harundine
crines," also of a river god, Achelous. For Rome's military triumphs see 1.77, 93, and 115.
Rutilius also interprets the datum that the river god is horned ("fronte bicorni," 1.179) as
an allegory for the two mouths of the Tiber.
46 "Atque opulenta tibi placidis commercia ripis / devehat hinc ruris, subvehat inde

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Paulinus of Nola settled at Cimitile in A.D. 395. Each year he woul

travel from the shrine of Felix to celebrate the annual festival of Saints
Peter and Paul in Rome on June 29. In his letters he refers frequently to
the annual pilgrimage; in his poems written for Saint Felix's day, Rome is
regularly a point of comparison for Paulinus' new foundation at Nola.47
Already in the second Natalicium, and the first written after his arrival
at Nola, he praises his new native city as second only to Rome; Rome,
which previously enjoy ed primacy "in empire and victorious arms," now
does so "in the tombs of the apostles" ("quae prius imperio tantum et
victricibus armis, / nunc et apostolicis terrarum est prima sepulchris,"
Carm. 13.29-30).
Military language is often used in speaking of the protection the
martyrs provide for Rome.48 In particular, the relies of the martyrs serve
as defensive fortifications, walls, and towers. When Constantine founded
Constantinople, Paulinus writes, he deliberately imitated Rome, endow-
ing the new foundation with the bodies of two apostles, Andrew and
Timothy (corresponding to Peter and Paul), to be "twin towers" ("geminis
ita turribus extat / Constantinopolis," Carm. 19.337-38); the bodies of the
apostles protect the literal walls of the city with a second spiritual forti-
fication ("ut sua apostolicis muniret moenia ... / corporibus," 335-36), as
Peter and Paul provide spiritual defence for Rome (339-42). There is
here an implicit epitomizing topography of Rome; the martyrs play the
role that Constantine's anonymous Gallic panegyrist had attributed to
the River Tiber: they protect the city by encircling its walls ("munitor
moenibus ambiendis," Pan. Lat. 12.18.1). Moreover that protection finds
expression in physical structures, the striking new basilicas of the martyrs
built outside the walls of Rome. Prudentius, writing of the Roman virgin
martyr Agnes, points up the contrast between the religious and secular
buildings, both of which protect the citizens of Rome.

Agnes sepulcrum est Romulea in domo

fortis puellae, martyris inclytae.
Conspectu in ipso condita turrium
servat salutem virgo Quiritium. (Perist. 14.1-4)

4714.65-70, 21.25-35. See Naf 1997.

48 Cf. Prosper, De ingratis 40-42 "sedes Roma Petri, quae pastoralis ho
caput mundo, quicquid non possidet armis / religione tenet."

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Agnes' tomb is in the home of Romulu

martyr. Established here in the sight of it
safety of Rome's citizens.

A young girl more truly protects the

towers and fortifications.
Christian writers regularly move between the martyr him- or her?
self, the body or relics of the martyr, and the building/tomb where those
relics are housed.49 The saints are simultaneously present both here on
earth and in heaven, to intercede for the cities they protect with Christ.
After Stilicho's defeat of the Ostrogoths at Faesulae in 406, Paulinus
gives thanks to Felix and the other martyrs at the annual festival of his
patron the following January for averting the threat to Italy. Preeminent
among these martyrs are Peter and Paul who "kept watch with their
insistent prayers" ("impenso duxere precatu / excubias," Carm. 21.33-34)
over the safety of Rome. The efficacy of the martyrs' prayers depends on
their immediate access to Christ, understood as deriving from their pres?
ence with him in heaven; on the other hand, the idea that they "kept
watch" suggests a more physical presence, akin to literal security mea?
sures on earth. Metaphorically, buildings could keep watch. Claudian in
De sexto consulatu Honorii describes the temples circling the Palatine as
"so many watch posts of the gods" ("tantisque deorum / cingitur excubiis,"
43^4). It is tempting to imagine that Claudian's language is influenced
by contemporary Christian advocacy of the martyrs and the protection
they/their shrines provided for the city. At the same time, the Claudian
passage indicates that Paulinus' "duxere ... excubias" can carry spatial or
topographical connotations: the martyrs' shrines, like Claudian's temples
of the gods, ring the city with watch posts. Rutilius, in the praise of Italy
with which he begins book 2 of the De reditu, has a similar understanding
of, in his case, landscape as fortification. The wisdom of god ("consilium
dei") has erected the Apennines as a barrier, to serve as "watch posts
over Latium" ("excubiis Latiis," 2.33); Rome is "encircled by multiple
fortifications" ("multiplici... munimine cingi," 2.39). In Rutilius' account
a Stoic divine providence has organized the geography of Italy to pro?
vide the security for Rome that the Christians attributed to God and the

49 For instance, the verb condita in Prudent., Perist. 14.3. The verb regularly means
"buried," but it is also used of the setting up of a religious structure, a temple or an altar
(OLD, s.v. 10b). The effect in the present passage is to elide the distinction between Agnes
the martyr and the basilica/tomb which houses her body.

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Jerome, writing in A.D. 400 to the Christian aristocrat Laeta

sents a starkly differentiated account of the new Christian Rome

Auratum squalet Capitolium, fuligine et aranearum telis omnia R

templa cooperta sunt; movetur urbs sedibus suis, et inundans populu
delubra semiruta currit ad martyrum tumulos. (Ep. 107.1)
The golden Capitoline decays, all Rome's temples are covered with soot
and spiders' webs; the city has changed its orientation, and a flood of
people hurries past the half-ruined shrines to the tombs of the martyrs.

Jerome exaggerates, but it is significant that he speaks of the conversion

of the inhabitants as a reorientation of urban geography.50The city is now
oriented toward the surrounding martyr shrines rather than the pagan
temples of its monumental centre. Prudentius, roughly contemporaneously,
presents a similar picture in the first book of the Contra Symmachum:

Iamque ruit paucis Tarpeia in rupe relictis

ad sincera virum penetralia Nazareorum
atque ad apostolicos Evandria curia fontes. (C Symm. 1.547^9)
Now, leaving only a few behind on the Tarpeian rock, the senate house of
Evander hurries to the holy precincts of the Nazareans and the apostolic

Earlier in the poem Prudentius had shown himself sensitive to the indoc-
trinating effect that exposure to pagan cult and the religious ceremonies
of the city?especially the worship of Venus and Roma?had on the im-
pressionable young (1.199-244).51 Now the focus of worship has changed.
With the exception of a few holdouts, still wedded to the religion of the
Capitoline and the Tarpeian rock, Rome's senatorial aristocracy hurries

50 Lim (1999,265-66) emphasizes that Jerome's account here of the reorientation of

civic life, as well as the similar passages in Prudentius, is not to be taken at face value. The
reality is that the games in particular continued to provide a primary focus of Roman civic
identity well into the fifth century. At stake in the texts discussed in this paper are imagina-
tive structures and signifying practices that are in an uncertain relationship with the reality
of urban life in late antique Rome. It is striking, though, that both Jerome and Prudentius
emphasize not just new buildings and monuments, but the movement of people and the
ceremonial activities associated with those monuments. The validation of Christian sacred
topography depended to a significant extent on its enactment in movement and procession,
if it was to take a hold on the imagination of the plebs Christiana (cf. Carruthers 1998,54-
51 On this passage see Gnilka 1994.

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eagerly (ruit) to the Christian churc

Metonymy?curia, the building, for
the confessional reorientation of its inh
city. Under the influence of curia, f
baptism, associated with the apostle
sources of apostolic teaching to which t
also the physical embodiment of the
basilicas of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Word order reflects sense: the
apostolici fontes now embrace the Evandrian curia. Curia, like rost
regularly serves as a metonymy for Roman public life;52 the epith
Evandria links Prudentius' passage with Virgil's prestigious account
the prehistory of Rome. While celebrating a fundamental change in c
fessional status, the Christian poet is eager to use the secular traditions
the imperial city as triangulation points for mapping the new Chris

Prudentius, in his Rome poetry, frequently returns to the Hieronym-

ian image of the plebs Christiana thronging to Christian basilicas: the
Vatican tomb of Peter and the Lateran (C. Symm. 1.583-86), martyr
shrines generally and especially that of Lawrence (Perist. 2.512-28), the
catacomb of Hippolytus (Perist. 11.189-94 and 199-202).53 At Hippolytus
festival even the impressive church built to accommodate devotees of
the saint has difficulty taking in the "flood" of worshipers ("undas,"
Perist. 11.227; cf. Jerome, Ep. 107.1 "inundans populus"). The basilica
enfolds its foster-children (i.e., the devotees of the saint) in its materna
and nurturing embrace ("maternum pandens gremium quo condat
alumnos / ac foveat fetos adcumulata sinus," 229-30). The metaphor
recalls the traditional characterization of Rome as mater (first in Livy
5.54.2). In De consulatu Stilichonis 3 (150-52), in a passage of Rom
panegyric, Claudian speaks of the city as "alone receiv[ing] into her
embrace ("in gremium . . . recepit") the conquered, and nurtur[ing
("fovit") the human race with a common name in the manner of a
mother, not mistress" ("matris, non dominae ritu"). Prudentius employs
and elaborates the same metaphor; saints or their shrines regularly pro-

52 Curia: Stat., Silv. 1.4.41 and 5.2.27; Pan. Lat. 2.47.3 and 4.35.2; Claud., 4 Cons. Hon.
10 and 6 Cons. Hon. 52; cf. Prudent., C Symm. 1.599. Rostra: Pan. Lat. 2.47.3; Claud., Cons
Stil. 2.390,3.106, 201; Get. 82; 6 Cons. Hon. 42,587, 644 ; Prudent., Perist. 11.45.
53 Prudentius here alludes to Virgil's account of the morning salutatio, a regular part
of the urban rituals of social life in Augustan Rome. In Christian Rome attendance on the
martyrs at their shrines takes the place of the, to Virgil, offensive social obligations of the
pre-Christian period. See Roberts 1993,165-66.

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vide parental protection and nurturing for the Christian commun

the Peristephanon.54 In so doing they replicate on a smaller sca
ideal relation of city and empire in Claudian's poem. At the
Peristephanon 11, troops of worshipers from throughout Italy an
all social classes congregate for the festival of the saint, where they
annually a ritual of community in the maternal embrace of the m
Roman basilica.
It is characteristic of Prudentius' Rome poetry to combine descrip
tions of buildings with accounts of individual worship or group cerem
nial. In his poem for Lawrence (Perist. 2) he celebrates the recent conver?
sion of the Roman aristocracy:

Quidquid Quiritum sueverat

orare simpuvium Numae,
Christi frequentans atria
hymnis resultat martyrem.

Ipsa et senatus lumina,

quondam luperci aut flamines,
apostolorum et martyrum
exosculantur limina. (Perist. 2.513-20)
All the citizens who had been accustomed to pr
throng the halls of Christ and celebrate the martyr
lights of the senate, once priests of the Lupercal or
the thresholds of apostles and martyrs.

The first stanza (513-16) describes a communal

with the singing of hymns in praise of the mar
acts of individual devotion to the apostles and
Prudentius includes language (atria and limina)
the material structures where worship takes place.
buildings elsewhere in the Peristephanon, and that
here. But the word also can refer to domestic sp
the throngs of devotees in the halls of Christ
throngs of clients in the reception hall of an in
morning salutatio. This comparison is also mad

54 See also Perist. 2.569-72, 4.94-96, 7.5; Roberts 1993,

combines the language of maternal nurturing with patern
Claudian's metaphor Prudentius emphasizes the materna
offspring to mother. For mater of Roma see Gernentz 191

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(189-90 and 227-28), in that case by

64. Here the language is less distinct
In characterizing a rich man, he speaks
frequens atrium ("crowded reception
tocracy in Prudentius' account now tu
whose alumni and alumnae they beco
tend in a religious ritual that takes t
classical period.
The second act of worship Prudent
act of devotion before the martyrs'
emphasizes the salutary humility the "b
ate display in kissing the thresholds
tional acts find fuller development in o
Here a single gesture encapsulates th
senatorial aristocracy.
Peristephanon 12, on the apostles P
centrated exercise in Prudentius' poetry
Christian sacred space. The poem con
martyrdoms of the two apostles (th
pattern in the other poems of the Pe
the communal celebration of the saints' festival and it contains architec-
tural descriptions of buildings associated with each of them: a baptistery
associated with Saint Peter (31^4) and the new basilica of S. Paolo fuori
le mura (45-56).56 Prudentius emphasizes that the buildings are situated
on opposite banks of the Tiber. The river flows betwen the two memoriae
and unites them in a single symbolic geography:

Dividit ossa duum Tybris sacer ex utraque ripa,

inter sacrata dum fluit sepulcra. (Perist. 12.29-30)
The holy Tiber divides the bones of the two on either bank, as it
between their sacred tombs.

The Tiber remains sacred ("Tybris sacer"), as it is in Virgil's Aeneid

("flumine sancto," 8.72). But whereas in Virgil the river is a personified
divinity, participating in the action, in Prudentius its sanctity derives from
its association with the holy tombs ("sacrata . . . sepulchra") of the

55 Roberts 1993,19-20.
56 The baptistery has traditionally been identified as a construction of Pope Damasus
at Saint Peter's, but the identification has been questioned by Smith 1988.

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apostles. Prudentius' sense of the special role of the Tiber in the symb
topography of Rome finds a striking parallel in Ammianus Marc
There the historian regrets that the emperor Julian is buried in
rather than in the city of Rome.57

[Eius] suprema et cineres . . . non Cydnus videre deberet, qu

gratissimus amnis et liquidus, sed ad perpetuandam gloriam recte fact
praeterlambere Tiberis, intersecans urbem aeternam divorumque ve
monumenta praestringens. (25.10.5)
The River Cydnus, however attractive and clear
remains and ashes, but to perpetuate the renown
Tiber should flow past them, which cuts its way
and laps against the memorials of past emperors.

Both Ammianus and Prudentius view Rome sch

the river and the tombs on its banks; in Amm
tombs of the divinized emperors of the past (
monumenta"), in Prudentius' of the apostolic m
creating symbolic topography is identical, but
topography has changed. In Prudentius it encod
than the imperial history of urbs Roma.
Peristephanon 12 celebrates the concord of
empire, united under the sway of the apostolor
Paul. The slogan of concordia apostolorum was
ganda of the Roman church in the second half of
apostles' common martyrdom at Rome on the
assured the unity of the Church and the preemine
deaths.58 At the same time, concordia had lon
Roman imperial ideology: the Roman empire a
for its subject peoples. Prudentius' poem unites
paganda in a charter text for the Christian Ro
ritual enactment of that ideal concordia on the sai
a schematic sacred topography of Rome?the tw

571 owe this reference to my former student Bret Mull

58 On concordia apostolorum see Pietri 1961 and 1976,
1982. On Peter and Paul as principes see Perist. 2.459-60 ("
regnant duo / apostolorum principes") and Maximus of Tu
beatissimi Petrus et Paulus qui... sua corpora in illius urbis
orbis obtinuerat principatum; quatenus potentiam virtuti
mundus caput habebat imperii, ibi regni sui principes col

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either side of the Tiber?and a founda

the martyr narratives of the two apost
Prudentius' foundation legend for
from its association with the River T
Tiber marsh knows weil" the locatio
"washed by the nearby river." The re
valley recalls the foundational event
discovery of the children Romulus and
The foundation legend of Christian R
tion. In both classical and Christian tra
the Tiber takes on almost iconic sig
tween Peter and Paul and Romulus a
Prudentius' decision to begin each of
machum, a work devoted to celebrat
dedicated to one of the two apostles.60
in a sermon for the festival of the a
son becomes explicit. Leo addresses

Isti [sc. Peter and Paul] sunt sancti patr

caelestibus inserendam multo melius
illi quorum studio prima moenium t
quibus is qui tibi nomen dedit fraterna
hanc gloriam provexerunt, ut gens sa
dotalis et regia, per sacram beati Petr
praesideres religione divina quam do
multis aucta victoriis ius imperii tui te
est quod tibi bellicus labor subdidit qu
(Serm. 82.1; SC

These are your holy fathers and true

take your place in the heavenly king
fortunate manner than those by who
walls were first laid. Of them the one
you with a brother's bloodshed. These
glory so that as a sacred nation, a chose
made capital of the whole world by the
sway by your godly religion than by
advanced your imperial power by m
efforts in war have subjected fewer t

59 Roberts 1993, 182-87. Gaudentius of Br

mundi lumina, columnae fidei, ecclesiae fund
60 Cf. Buchheit 1966,133; Paschoud 1967,

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The opposition between Rome's past achievements in war and its pr

primacy, secured by the patronage of the apostles, recalls Paulinu
Nola in the last decade of the previous century (Carm. 13.29-30). L
a preacher, spells out what is implicit in Prudentius, both what the
foundation legends have in common and how they differ. As "true
thers" the apostles aspire to the title pater patriae traditionally attribu
to Romulus (Livy 1.16.3 and 5.49.7); as "true shepherds" (veri past
Peter and Paul provide a Christian counterpart to Romulus and Rem
who as young men had tended the flocks of their adopted father.6
pope's version lacks the metonymic/synecdochic schematization of
earlier poets. He is a Christian preacher, writing in prose in a quite
ferent genre. Yet traces of the metaphorical/rhetorical tradition of
sonifying Rome remain. In the introductory section to his sermo
addresses Roma directly: the city that had once been "the mistre
falsehood" (magistra erroris) has become "the student of truth" (discipl
veritatis). Rome remains an emotionally charged idea to which his C
tian congregation, especially on the feast day of the apostles, can
counted on to respond.

Richard Lim (1999, 267), writing of the role in the fourth and f
centuries of civic spectacle in the contested topography of Rome, d
guishes two processes, "secularization" and "Christianization." Both
be illustrated from the representations of Rome we have been stud
Already for Claudian, writing in a Christian court and for a Chris
patron, the goddess Roma is no longer the object of cult. Instead
serves his panegyrical intent, as an active agent in the divine mach
of the historical-panegyrical epic. The confusion of divine and hu
realms conduces to his purpose by representing the individuals pr
as operating at a more than human level and lending universal sign
cance to their particular actions. As in the visual arts, the attributes of
goddess encode her power and status, but they also provide a flex
medium for registering the specific circumstances that give rise
particular poem. In Prudentius the process of secularization goes
step further. Roma is no longer a goddess and plays no role in init
action in his poetry, but she does have a part to play as a personific

61 For the use of verus in Lactantius when reinterpreting passages from pagan p
(Div. Inst. 4.10.7, 5.11.5, and 6.24.29) see Goulon 1978, 144-45. Leo proposes a s
Christian reinterpretation of a classical source. For Peter as the founder of Christian
in Leo's writings see McShane 1979,109-69, and for Leo's attitude to Rome Ingleber

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of Rome's greatness, delivering a rh

imagined with a wealth of metonymic d
fifth-century authors; in a sermon o
in the imperial panegyrics of Sidoniu
century.62 Still later, in the sixth cent
Libellus de Synodo, a work of polem
the Laurentian schism, with three s
the apostles Peter and Paul and by R
(49.96-139 Vogel); his panegyric for
speaks of an aging city, mater civita
Theoderic's building projects (263.11.5
Rome can serve either to promote th
church or to praise in traditional ter
revival he brings to the ancient capit
The schematic topographies of ou
accessible shorthand images of the city
ric or polemical purposes. At least on
comes the vehicle for an exchange b
and Prudentius, which is later picked
himself particularly sensitive to the
to provide a Christian mental image of
he emphasizes that the Roman popu
is turning from the sites in the mo
Lateran and the basilicas of the martyr
the city, though, is in Peristephanon
schematic terms as united by the Tib
apostles, which stand on either bank of
Prudentius provides an emotionally c
of coordinates for the Christian map
from the past history of the martyr
the bloodshed on the Tiber banks?but also from the associations of the
river in Roman legend and in the Aeneid. In moving between the tw
basilicas during the annual festival of the apostles worshipers experi
enced in their own persons the ideal unity of Prudentius' version of
Rome. His model was to be influential. Translated to Gaul, Prudentia

62 Sid. Apoll. Carm. 2.391-523; 5.13-53, 63-106, 351-67; 7.45-138. In his panegyric
Sidonius conforms to the Claudian model.
63 Prudentius' mapping of the city of Rome can be understood in terms of ancien
memory systems. He is constructing a network of locational memory cues, charged w
cultural associations. See Carruthers 1998,10-16,40-44, and 54-57.

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language informs Paulinus of Perigueux' account (mid-fifth-cen

the city of Tours, with the two sites of the cult of Saint Martin, hi
place and his monastery of Marmoutier, located on either side
River Loire (Vita S. Martini 6.71-75).
The poets of the turn of the fourth century and the early
century return repeatedly to the image of Rome, metaphoricall
ined as a queen or goddess, and metonymically represented by a
historically and culturally charged locations. Their portrayal of
reflects the tensions of the period: how were Rome and its trad
be viewed now that Christianity was triumphant? where did its gre
now lie? and, particularly pressing for Rutilius after the shock
first decade of the fifth century, was Rome in decline or would it r
once more? Rome?at least the image of Rome?was resilient
established patterns of thought did not easily change with an indivi
change in religious status. But the process of secularization an
tianization evident in the poetry of this period in many ways defin
terms of the debate for a century or more.64

Wesleyan University
e-mail: mroberts@wesleyan.edu


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