Damasus of Rome: The Epigraphic Poetry : Introduction, Texts, Translations, and Commentary
Damasus of Rome makes available in English the epigraphic poetry of Damasus, bishop of Rome from 366 to 384. The translations are accompanied by the Latin text as well as by commentary on the literary, topographic, and archaeological features of Damasus' inscribed epigrams.
Antonio Ferrua published the last critical edition of Damasus' poetry in 1942. Since Ferrua's ground-breaking edition, however, much has changed. Recent scholarship has challenged the Damasan authorship of several epigrams, other pieces have been reinstated as Damasan, and archaeology has added fragments that were not known in 1942. Moreover in recent years new ways of appreciating Late Latin poetry have revolutionized thinking about many poets contemporary with Damasus. Damasus of Rome, therefore, not only offers new translations but updates the corpus and criticism of Damasus' poetry.
A full introduction situates Damasus in his times by considering his troubled election and the issues that dominated Rome and his papacy. The introduction also sets the poems within the broader sweep of the history of epigraphic poetry at Rome and relates them both to the development of the Christian catacombs and to the emergence of the cults of the Roman saints. Modern scholarship readily acknowledges that the years of Damasus' episcopacy were pivotal ones in the transformation of Rome into a late antique Christian city. His poetry, much of it inscribed at the suburban tombs of the Roman saints and martyrs, played an incalculable but significant role in the redefinition of both Roman and Christian identity in this remarkable age. Damasus of Rome now makes that poetry more readily available to scholars and students alike.