Latin Cento Poetry (971 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay


The original meaning of the Latin word cento is “patchwork”, and cento as a literary term means “patchwork-poem”. Centos occur in different languages and in different periods. They are generally compiled from quotations from prominent texts. Tertullian (CE 150/170–c. 230) is the first Latin author who uses the word cento in a literary context. He is followed by other Church fathers: Augustine, Jerome and Isidorus. Ausonius (CE c. 310-395) is the only ancient author who gives a thorough discussion on cento-poetry.

There are 17 ancient Latin centos extant today. Sixteen of these are compiled from Virgilian quotations; one is compiled from Ovidian quotations. The eldest Latin cento is the tragedy

Ehrling, Sara. "Latin Cento Poetry". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 31 October 2013
[, accessed 22 October 2016.]