I wrote a post some time back about Latin verses consisting of all nouns. Now that I’m leading a survey course on Medieval Latin, I’ve had a chance to read excerpts from Venantius Fortunatus–here’s another entry from his De Virginitate, describing in rather phallic terms the threats that chaste women will virtuously overcome:
Vipera, serps, jaculus, basiliscus, emorrois, aspis,
Faucibus horrificis sibila torsit iners (III.195-6)
“Viper, serpent, javelin-snake, basilisk, cobra ([i]haemorrhois[/i]), asp;
(each one) uselessly brandished hisses from (its) frightful jaws.”
Incidentally, both Fortunatus and St. Aldheim penned lengthy Latin poems titled De Virginitate (Aldheim actually wrote a prose work first; the poem was a paraphrase). Add to that earlier prose works on the topic by Sts. Gregory of Nyssa, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine–and one can be forgiven for wondering if the Church has inherited an unhealthy obsession regarding female (and male) sexuality. But perhaps that’s changing ever so gradually…
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