Lector inueniet: A commonplace of Late Antiquity

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Abstract / Description of output

At Amartigenia 624-626, the Spanish poet Prudentius addresses his reader and says that s/he can find confirmation of what he says in the Bible (lector ... quod loquor invenies). This passage has been much discussed, and we know that Prudentius brings the inherent difficulties of reading into the foreground of his anti-heretical poem. Even though the reader’s invention was a commonplace in late antiquity, the specific context of Prudentius’s address has not been noticed: the phrase lector inveniet and closely related expressions were used commonly around the end of the fourth entury to direct the reader’s active engagement with the text. The phrase was used in Christian and secular contexts, and the uses of this commonplace reflect the variety of ways in which reading was presented in late antiquity. They also give us a better idea of how Prudentius would have been understood by contemporary readers. The phrase lector inveniet was used by
Macrobius, Augustine, Jerome, and Tiberius Donatus, among others. A careful look at these passages will show that a range of modifiers were appended to the word lector, to emphasize different aspects of the reading that was required. In addition to contemporary Latin parallels, this paper will consider some earlier uses of similar language in Latin, as well as Greek parallels.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudia Patristica
Subtitle of host publicationPapers presented at the Seventeenth International Conference on Patristic Studies held in Oxford 2015
EditorsM Vinzent
Place of PublicationLeuven
PublisherPeeters, Leuven
Pages215-227
ISBN (Print)9789042935884
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2017

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