Thursday, March 18, 2010

About: Verinus

Verinus was a well-known poet and a child prodigy in his day but now largely forgotten (he was born c. 1469 and died at a very young age c. 1487; more information). You can find his De moribus puerorum disticha at Google Books.

Verinus' poems became quite well-known in the 17th century as a result of being published as "Book 11" of the epigrams of John Owen starting in editions published in 1620 and later, although the poems of Book 11 were not written by Owen at all! Dana Sutton, who has created a wonderful digital edition of Owen, does not even reprint the poems and dismisses them with the following words:
This set of rather repulsive moralizing epigrams have a certain social and perhaps even psychological interest as a rare example of Renaissance Latin literature written for children. The gloomy ones that urge the young reader to brace for death’s inevitability, and to mistrust his fellow man, and even more his fellow woman, are not the sort of thing one inflicts on the modern child.
While I agree that Verinus has some gloomy verses, that is a big part of the epigrammatic tradition - Owen has some gloomy meditations on death as well, of course! As for the misogynistic poems, Owen can likewise be accused of the same. So, I am not quite sure what accounted for Sutton's vitriolic rejection of Verinus's poems, but there are quite a few of them that I like and I am excited to start publishing them here at the Disticha blog.