Sedulius, Carmen Paschale (c. 425-450 CE)


I am presently revising my translation of the Carmen paschale for publication with Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library at Harvard. The original translation of the whole poem was completed in 2008. Book One appears in my dissertation. The full revision will be a literary one, aiming to capture the spirit of the poem, while remaining faithful to the Latin. The book will also contain a translation of the Evangeliorum Libri IV of Juvencus.

The Carmen paschale of Sedulius (425-450 CE) contains five books and 1700 lines of Latin hexameter poetry. It is a versification of the Gospels in imitation of the earlier work of Juvencus (see Evangeliorum libri quattuor c. 330) and of the prior tradition of classical epic, especially Vergil. Sedulius is a much freer versifier of the Bible than Juvencus, and nowhere is this clearer than in Book One of the poem. He is deliberately artful, though he would have us think otherwise, and the playfulness that we encounter in his verses sets him apart from other biblical poets of the period. The following translation of Book One is under revision, and so 'Nec quaeras opus hic codices artifices.' That said, I offer the opening lines of my revision as a foretaste of the translation to come.

Sample Revision of Carmen Paschale (Book One)

Sedulius, Carmen Paschale (Book One)