Welcome to the homepage of our project "Der Christus patiens und die Poiesis der griechischen Cento-Dichtungen"




Cento poems take single lines from different poets to form a new coherent text which tells a different story. Research on Greek Cento poetry has long been neglected by scholarship. The Bochum-based project on „Greek centones“ tried to fill this gap by collecting all existing Greek cento poems, focusing on its specific poetics, addressing the issue of genre, translating and commenting on the longest of these poems, the anonymously transmitted Christus patiens, which tells the passion of Christ. Using the tools of Digital Humanities and implementing a new form of digital commentary, we intended to find a new approach to the analysis of (Greek) Cento poetry in general and the Christus patiens in particular.

Parts of the project, which has been finished in September 2023, are in detail:

The Online Edition of all existing Greek Cento poems
Part of the Bochum-based Cento project was an online edition of the Christus patiens using the latest technical possibilities for presenting texts online. The main aim was to show the different layers of the Cento poem (Greek text of the Chr.pat., translation, original context of the citations, all citations from specific texts, e.g. Euripides’ Medea, etc.) and put them in dialogue. The new edition can be used for different purposes by different users.

Commenting the Christus patiens and Cento poems in general
Due to the nature of the Christus patiens as a Cento drama, commenting the Christus patiens is complex and challenging. To address this, 21 researchers were invited to each comment on a 80 to 200 verses of the Christus patiens. These individual comments add up to 21 different ways of commenting on the Christus patiens and a Cento poem in general.

The Poetics of Greek Cento poetry (Manuel Baumbach)
Poetics in the context of Cento poems are mostly understood as a description of the techniques used to construct a Cento poem. Instead, this project focused on the specific usage of intertextuality: to what extent does the context of the original lines of, e.g., Homer’s epics play into the cento texts? Where should we stop to read both texts simultaneously? Or should we stop at all? Manuel Baumbach has discussed these kinds of poetics in the extant Greek cento poems such as the epigram of ‘Areios’ (CIG 4748), three epigrams in the Anthologia Palatina (9,361, 381 and 382), a cento poem in the Scholia to Dionysios Thrax´s Ars grammatica (§5, p.480–481, Uhlig 1883), and one cento in Irenaeus of Lyon´s Adversus haereses (1,9,4).

Greek Cento Poetry and Genre (Bettina Bohle)
The presence of different texts and even different genres, which is characteristic for a Cento poem, creates a hybrid that questions established assumptions of how genre markers work. Also, the functions especially in the context of the Christus patiens, the only dramatic Greek cento poem, has or could have. In his proem the anonymous author claims to write κατ’ Εὐριπίδην – what exactly does this entail? In what way can the poem be called a tragedy? What makes a tragedy a tragedy? Bettina Bohle’s project has addressed these issues.

The Reception of the Christus patiens (Maurice Parussel)
Although the dating of the Christus patiens and its attribution to Gregory of Nazianzus has been discussed among scholars since the editio princeps was published by Antonio Blado in 1542 even nowadays the opinions on the dating of the poem differ widely. The striking uncertainty about the Cento’s origin stresses the need for searching literary works that are potentially influenced by this tragedy, in order to create a theory of its origin and its influence on Christian drama. Focusing on the reception of the first editions and translations it becomes obvious that the text of the Christus patiens has been very important for scholars during the 16th and 17th century and has gained great influence on the Christian drama of the Renaissance. Maurice Parussel’s project has examined different forms of this reception.