Some Studies of Its Topography, History, Cults and Myths
John M. Fossey
At the beginning of the tenth century, Vulgarius wrote some poems for Pope Sergius III. One of these is set out in the shape of a psaltery and is followed by a short explanatory essay. This article reconstructs the cultural context of this pattern poem and sheds light on the presence and significance of music in this text. First, I shall address the visual appearance of this poem, since the shape of the text imitates a musical instrument. Secondly, I shall examine the textual content of the poem, which sings the praises of the Pope and ultimately reveals the true meaning hidden in the name ‘Sergius’. Subsequently, I shall examine the content of the explanatory essay, which clarifies the Boethian musical proportions on which the entire construction of the pattern poem is based. Finally, I shall address the political ‘double meaning’ of this poem, which seems to hide an invective against the Pope.