The April Poems in the Chronography of 354

Only a single manuscript of the Chronography contains an image for the month of April.  This is MS Vienna 3146, which never contains the poems.  (I am told that the same image reappears in the Leiden MS Voss.Lat.Q 79, a manuscript of the Aratea!  But this I have not seen)  So we are reliant on other unillustrated manuscripts, or the indirect tradition, for the poems.  Here is the 4-line poem (tetrastich):

Contectam myrto Venerem veneratur Aprilis,
lumen veris habet, quo nitet alma Thetis
cereus et dextra flammas diffundit odoras;
balsama nec desunt, quis redolet Paphie.

April worships a Venus robed with myrtle,
He has the light of spring, in which nurturing Thetis blooms,
And the waxen candle on the right diffuses the scents of flame;
Nor is balsam wanting, of which the Paphian (Venus) is redolent.

The 2-line verse (distich), preserved in the St Gall unillustrated manuscript, is as follows:

Caesareae Veneris mensis, quo floribus arva
prompta virent, avibus quo sonat omne nemus.

This is the month of Caesar’s Venus, in which the fields are green,
resplendent with flowers, in which every wood resounds with birdsong.

Divjak and Wischmeyer add an interesting comment, that the tetrastich verse is about the relationship of Venus to April.  The picture shows an older man dancing with castanets in front of a male cult statue.  The man is perhaps a Gallus named “April”, dancing before a statue of Attis, the “Venus” of the Magna Mater cult.

The 16th century Vienna manuscript 3416 (online here) gives us the image:

Vienna 3146, f. 5v – April

The figure is treating on what look like a set of pipes, perhaps belonging to an organ.

(For more information on this series of posts, please see the Introduction to the Poems of the Chronography of 354).


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