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PROBA: Christian centoist of the fourth century. She was the daughter of Petronius Probianus, consul in 310, and wife of Clodius Celsinus Adelphius, prefect of Rome after 351. "Cento" originally meant a cloak made of patches, and then came to be applied to compositions constructed from words and lines taken from the poets and put together to express a content other than the original. The making of centos from the verses of Homer and Vergil was much affected, and even Christians so employed themselves. Before her conversion to Christianity Probe composed one, not extant, on the conflict between Constantius and Maxentius. Afterward she embodied in like compositions the story of creation to the flood, the birth of Christ, and his passion, writing in hexameters. Of course the original coloring was lost; at the baptism, e.g., the Father uses words employed by Juno, Turnus, and others. Yet it is remarkable how impressive the results sometimes are. Pope Gelasius refused the sanction of the Church to such efforts, but in spite of this the cento appears to have been much read in the Middle Ages, as is evidenced by many existing manuscripts and the mention of many more. One manuscript contains besides the cento of Proba three other works of this character: Pomponii versus in gratiam domini, instruction concerning Christianity in a discussion between Melibæus and Tityrus, evidently in imitation of Proba; De verbi incarnatione, a fragment not by Sedulius; and De ecclesia. There is displayed 263here a certain dexterity in the use of lines from Vergil to construct, for example, a long address by a priest.

(G. Krüger.)

Bibliography: The best ed. is by C. Schenk! in CSEL, xxvi. pp. 511–627, Vienna, 1888. Consult: J. Aschbach, Die Anicier and die römische Dichterin Proba, Vienna, 1870; A. Ebert, Geschichte der Litteratur des Mittetalters, i. 125 sqq., Leipsic, 1889; M. Manitius, Geschichte der christlich-lateinischen Poesie, pp. 123–130, Stuttgart, 1891; G. von Dzialoweki, Isidor und Ildefona als Litterar-historiker, pp. 29–30, Münster, 1898.

« Prison Reform Proba Probabalism »
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