Fachbereich Geschichtswissenschaft

During my research stay at the Centre for Advanced Studies in November and December 2023, I will investigate the way in which Prudentius’ Peristephanon (“The book of crowns”), a collection of fourteen hymns in different metres dedicated to the martyrs of Spain, Illyria, Africa, and Italy, operates a martyrial re-mapping of the Western part of the empire, giving birth to a new Christian Romanitas. In particular, I am interested in the textual strategies used by Prudentius to stage the centripetal movement which brings him from Hispania Tarraconensis, his homeland, to the city of Rome, where a new civic body of saints and martyrs is configured. I will therefore concentrate my study on the role of space and movement in the hymns, and on the ways in which intertextuality and intervisuality determine the overwriting of the landscape’s pagan memories, working mainly on Peristephanon XI and XII, respectively dedicated to the martyrdom of Hippolytus and to the annual feast of St. Peter and Paul. My research, whose output will be constituted by one or two scientific articles, will be less interested in documentary dimension of Prudentius’ poetry, sometimes used as a testimony of the – largely hypothetical – aspect of the Honorian Rome and its basilicas, focusing instead on the description of the movements staged by the poet and the faithful within the city. Far from being simply hosted by the space it crosses, the act of movement creates and shapes its own setting, providing a new configuration of the city as a multi-layered Erfahrungsraum where the pagan memories are not completely erased, but rather overwritten by the religious-performative act of moving. In this sense, the theorical framework developed within the so-called mobility turn by the recent studies of pilgrimage as ‘embodied mobility’ can offer a fruitful contribution to a fresh study of Prudentius’ literary validation of the new Roman topography through its enactment in movement and procession.