EPISTULA DE PATRIA

A letter whose senders are listed at the beginning: Paul, Francus, Valerianus, etc. The recipient was a bishop, Polochronius, perhaps one of the signatories of the councils of Gaul held at Valence and Mcon in 385 MGH, Leg. III, Concilia, I 163 and 173. The letter’s context reveals that the senders had been exiles Incipit: De patria gravi sumus exire necessitate compulsi and were sent by another bishop named Castor, quite unknown to us, to seek asylum with Polochronius at Verdun? in the Alps of Upper Provence?; they thank him for his hospitality and invite him to visit their own see. The style, in a popular Latin, betrays the language of the Merovingian era. Noteworthy is the use of the second person plural pronoun must be numbered among travelers’ tales describing natural wonders seen in distant lands: in this case India and Asia generally. We have a Latin version from a Greek original, first published by Omont BECh, 507ff.. The work, which presents itself as a direct letter to the emperor Hadrian, is a fiction devised solely to highlight the emperor’s personal taste for journeys and exotic things. Its importance arises from the fact that it must be considered one of the springs from which the first streams of French literature would flow. A variant on this letter is entitled Epistola Premonis regis ad Traianum imperatorem. It is not rare in early documents for Hadrian to be given the name Traianus; the name of King Premonis is fictitious. Faral has published the two versions in parallel columns. Incipit: Litteras tuas, domine Caesar.

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