Latin Cento Poetry

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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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 Medea by a certain Hosidius Geta (c. CE 200). The Latin centos cover various themes:

971 words

Citation: Ehrling, Sara. "Latin Cento Poetry". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 31 October 2013 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=19338, accessed 05 March 2024.]

19338 Latin Cento Poetry 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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