Coloniae Apud Arnoldum Arnoldi Quentelii, Anno Domini M.DCIII. 1603.
Engraved vignette on title page of first volume depicting St Ephraem. A name has been scratched out on the title. Each volume has separate title page and signatures; pagination is continuous.
Folio, 13X 13 inches: a-d4, e2, A-X6, Y4 ; *-**4, Aa-Vv6, Xx4 ; (:)4, Aaa-Zzz6, Aaaa-Ffff6, Gggg4./. ¶ Editio secunda, priore auctior & accuratior.
The translator / editor Gerhard Vossius od Vosquens (1550-1609; not to be confused with his younger and more famous relative
Gerhard Johannes Vossius, 1577-1649) was a priest of the Diocese of Liège, among others Provost to Tongern (Tongere or Tongeren) in the Belgian province of Limburg (M. Buchberger, ed., 10, 1938, sp. 700). – Gérard Vossius “fut le premier qui [.] Traduisit en latin plusieurs anciens monumens des Pères Grecs; entre autres les ouvrages [.] De saint Ephrem, avec des notes” (F. X. de Feller 8, 1818: p. 613
Ephrem is beloved in the Syriac and Eastern Orthodox Church, and counted as a Venerable Father (i.e., a sainted Monk). It was primarily as a sacred poet that Ephraim impressed himself on his fellow-countrymen. With the exception of his commentaries on scripture, nearly all his extant Syriac works are composed in metre. In many cases the metrical structure 2 is true that in the Confession attributed to him and printed among his Greek works in the first volume of the Roman edition he speaks (p. 129) of his parents as having become martyrs for the Christian faith. But this document is of very doubtful authenticity.
¶ T. J. Lamy has estimated that, in this class of poems, there are as many as 66 different varieties of metres to be found in the works of Ephraim. These strophic poems were set to music, and sung by alternating choirs of girls. ¶The most important of his works are his lyric hymns (madrâšê). These hymns are full of rich imagery drawn from biblical sources, folk tradition, and other religions and philosophies. The madrâšê are written in stanzas of syllabic verse, and employ over fifty different metrical schemes. Each madrâšê has its qâlâ, a traditional tune identified by its opening line. All of these qâlê are now lost. It seems that Bardaisan and Mani composed madrâšê, and Ephrem felt that the medium was a suitable tool to use against their claims. The madrâšê are gathered into various hymn cycles. Each group has a title — Carmina Nisibena, On Faith, On Paradise, On Virginity, Against Heresies—but some of these titles do not do justice to the entirety of the collection (for instance, only the first half of the Carmina Nisibena is about Nisibis). Each madrâšâ usually had a refrain (`unîtâ), which was repeated after each stanza.
¶According to Ephraim’s biographer, his main motive for providing these hymns set to music was his desire to counteract the baneful effects produced by the heretical hymns of Bardaisan and his son Harmonius, which had enjoyed popularity and been sung among the Edessenes for a century and a half. It must be confessed that, judged by Western standards, the poems of Ephraim are prolix and wearisome in the extreme, and are distinguished by few striking poetic beauties. And so far as they are made the vehicle of reasoning, their efficiency is seriously hampered by their poetic form. On the other hand, it is fair to remember that the taste of Ephraim’s countrymen in poetry was very different from ours.
VD17 1: 053171V. Item #782
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