The De Mortalitate of Cyprian: Consolation and Context
Scourfield, David (1996) The De Mortalitate of Cyprian: Consolation and Context. Vigiliae Christianae, 50 (1). pp. 12-41.
The publication in 1937 of Charles Favez's monograph, La Consolation latine chretienne,2 opened up a new horizon in the study of ancient consolatory literature. Though this subject had been one of recurring interest to scholars during the previous hundred years,3 Favez was the first to pay serious attention to the Christian contribution to the genre, and to consider both its relation to and, in particular, its differences from, the consolatory writing of pagans such as Cicero, Seneca, and Plutarch. His approach was essentially synchronic. Themes, topics, expressions, materials found in those Christian texts which formed the basis of his study were brought together in such a way as to create a composite picture of Christian consolation, which could be compared as a whole with the pagan literature. That such an approach has limitations is clear. Favez also drew on a relatively narrow range of texts. As its title suggests, the book does not consider Christian consolatory writing in Greek,4 nor does it deal comprehensively with Latin work.5 But it remains a fundamental study, an essential starting-point for anyone working in the field.
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