In the collection of the Christian poets by G. Fabricius, fol. Basel. 1564, we find (p. 765) thirty hexameters, De Christo,
said to be the work "Merobaudis Hispanici Scholastici," taken, as we are assured by the editor, from a very ancient MS.
This hymn was, at a subsequent period, most erroneously ascribed to Claudian, and in all the later impressions of his poems is placed among the Epigrammata,
and numbered xcviii.
Poems from the St. Gall Palimpsest
About the year 1812 or 1813 the base of a statue was dug up in the Ulpian forum at Rome, bearing a long inscription in honour of Flavius Merobaudes, who is declared to have been equally brave and learned, capable of performing glorious deeds, and of celebrating the achievements of others, well skilled in wielding both the sword and the pen, a gallant and experienced soldier, a bard worthy of the Heliconian wreath.
It is then set forth that, as a tribute to his rare qualities, a brazen image had been erected in the Ulpian forum, on the 29th of July, in the 15th consulship of Theodosius, and the 4th of Valentinian (A. D. 435).
Ten years afterwards Niebuhr succeeded in decyphering, upon eight leaves of a palimpsest belonging to the monastery of St. Gall, several Latin verses, which, from the subjects to which some of them referred, must have been composed about the middle of the fifth century. For a considerable time it seemed impossible to determine the author, no name appearing on the parchment; but upon comparing the preface to the principal piece with the inscription just mentioned, some expressions in the former were found to be so completely an echo of the words in the latter, that it became almost certain that Merobaudes must be the person sought, and this conclusion was confirmed by a passage in Sidonius Apollinaris, which contains an allusion to this very statue. (Carm.
ix. Ad Felicem,
278-302, comp. the note of Sirmond.)
The fragments thus recovered are miserably mutilated.
The pages preserved do not follow each other in regular order; the initial or the final words in most of the larger lines have been pared off when the sheets were bound up into a new volume, and in some places the original writing has been completely obliterated. What remains consists of
The first, a fragment comprising 23 lines in elegiac measure, is a description apparently of the Triclinium of Valentinian.
The second, a fragment comprising 14 lines in elegiac measure, is a description of a garden probably attached to the Triclinium.
The third, a fragment comprising 7 lines in elegiac measure, depicts the beauties of a garden, the property Viri Jul. Fausti.
The fourth, a fragment in 46 hendecasyllibics, is a birthday ode in honour of the son of Aetius Patricius.
II. Panegyric on the consulship of Aetius Patricius
A fragment, extending to 197 hexameters, of a panegyric on the third consulship of Aetius Patricius, to which is prefixed an introduction in prose, in a very wretched condition. This Aetius was consul for the first time A. D. 432, for the second time A. D. 437, for the third time A. D. 446.
Christianity of Merobaudes
If we assume that the whole of these five scraps are by the same author, and that he is the Spanish Merobaudes who wrote De Christo,
a proposition which, although highly probable, cannot be strictly demonstrated, it follows, as a matter of course, that he must have been a Christian, although unquestionably the terms in which he laments that the morals of the olden time and the ancient religion had passed away together seem at first sight little favourable to such an idea. On the other hand, the reference to baptism (Carm.
i. sub fin.) is such as could scarcely have proceeded from a gentile. Niebuhr conjectures that the Disticha de Miraculis Christi,
and the Carmen Paschale,
placed side by side with the De Christo,
among the epigrams of Claudian (xcv. xcix.), to whom they confessedly do not belong, ought to be assigned to Merobaudes.
The fragments were first published by Niebuhr at Bonn, 8vo. 1823, again in 1824
, and will be found, edited by Bekker, in the "Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae," in the same volume with Corippus, 8vo. Bonn, 1836.
See Rheinisches Museum,
1843, p. 531.
The inscription is in Orelli, No. 1183.
With regard to Aetius, consult Hansen, De Vita Aetii,
8vo. Dorpat. 1840; see also Nicol. Anton. Bibl. Hispan. Vet.