In honorem sanctae crucis
M. Perrin (ed.)
CXX+342 p., + 23 ill. + 32 plates, 155 x 245 mm, 1997
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Rabanus Maurus (780-856), a monk and then abbot of Fulda, ended his career as archbishop of Mainz. Perhaps the most famous of his numerous works, the In honorem sanctae crucis (dated 810), better known traditionally since the Renaissance as De laudibus sanctae crucis, consists of a remarkable series of 28 carmina figurata glorifying the holy cross. Rabanus thus followed the Constantinian poet Porphyrius Optatianus, and also, but more discretely, some poems composed on this theme by Venantius Fortunatus. But from the outset he went further than his predecessors. Indeed, he did not compose a few isolated poems but a unified cycle. And the degree of complexity achieved by Rabanus in the tangle of versus intexti, of drawings, of each poem taken as a whole constitutes a kind of record for the genre that the Middle Ages did not surpass.
The proposed edition follows the editio princeps of Jacques Wimpfeling (Pforzheim, 1503), the other editions (1605, 1627, and finally the Patrologia Latina) having been printed without recourse to the manuscripts. It consists of an introduction, the critical Latin text with the apparatus taking account of all of the ninth century manuscripts, and various annexes, which enable this difficult text to be read with the least inconvenience possible. There is a new French translation of the carmina figurata, explanatory notes of the carmina figurata and of their parallels, and several indexes. There is a colour reproduction of the carmina figurata as can be seen in the Vatican manuscript, Reginensis no 124.