Adam of Saint-Victor

views updated


Victorine canon and liturgical poet; b. probably in Britain or Brittany, c. 1110; d. apparently c. 1180. Little exact biographical information is known about Adam since no account of his life was written before that by William of Saint-Lô (d. 1349). Educated in Paris, Adam entered the monastery of saint-victor c. 1130; there he followed the lectures of hugh of saint-victor. His theological ideas are Augustinian, as is evidenced in his poem on mankind, Haeres peccati (Patrologia Latina, ed. J. P. Migne [Paris 187890] 196:1422), which served as his epitaph. At one time he was thought to be the author of scholastic and Biblical works, but this is now challenged (F. Stegmüller, Repertorium biblicum medii aevi [Madrid 194961] 1:14). However, he is known and praised for the composition of approximately 45 sequences, rhythmic pieces to be used in the liturgy of the Mass preceding the Gospel. At the Fourth lateran council (1215) innocent iii gave Adam's Sequences a general approbation. He is credited with having brought to perfection the Sequence poetry that had been initiated by notker balbulus and nurtured at Saint-Victor even before Adam's time. His poetry is based on accent, rhyme, and a fixed number of syllables, 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12 (J. De Ghellinck, L'Essor de la littérature latine au XII esiècle [Brussels-Paris 1946] 2:295298). After the invocation of the first strophe, his Sequences describe the virtues and the miracles of the saint whose feast is being celebrated (e.g., St. Geneviève, the patron of Paris, Sequence 10). In his Sequences on Christ and the Blessed Virgin, Adam made use of the allegory typical of his day (F. J. E. Raby, A History of Christian-Latin Poetry from the Beginnings to the Close of the Middle Ages [Oxford 1953] 345375).

See Also: hymnology.

Bibliography: Oeuvres poétiques, ed. l. gautier, 2 v. (Paris 185859); Les Proses: Texte et musique, ed. e. misset and p. aubry (Paris 1900); Sämtliche Sequenzen, lateinisch und deutsch, ed. and tr. f. wellner (2d ed. Munich 1955). Analecta hymnica (Leipzig 18861922) 8:5355. Histoire littéraire de la France (Paris 1865) 15:4045; 29:58998. m. manitius, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters (Munich 191131) 3:100208. f. j. e. raby, A History of Christian-Latin Poetry from the Beginnings to the Close of the Middle Ages (Oxford 1953) 345375. h. spanke, "Die Kompositionskunst der Sequenzen Adams von St. Victor," Studi medievali 14 (1941) 129.

[p. delhaye]