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Marbod of Rennes


Bishop, teacher, poet; b. Angers, France, c. 1035; d. Angers, Sept. 11, 1123. After completing his studies at the cathedral school of angers under Rainald, a pupil of fulbert of chartres, Marbod became a teacher in the school, and c. 1067, its master. He became also chancellor of the Diocese of Angers c. 1069. In 1096 Pope Urban II appointed Marbod Bishop of Rennes in Brittany. He resigned his bishopric at the age of 88, and died soon after in the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Aubin.

A product of the educational revival of the 11th century as originally promoted by such men as sylvester ii and Fulbert, Marbod marks the transition to the Christian humanism of the 12th century. His skill as a Latin poet was especially admired, though he was outranked in this field by his younger admirer, hildebert of lavardin. Marbod was fond of the leonine hexameter and he versified every kind of topic, though his poems became more serious with advancing years. He could write simple lyrics, such as Upon a Beautiful Girl and To a Devout Virgin, as well as long Biblical narratives in verse. He wrote poems on the lives and virtues of the saints and the Mother of Christ, such as On St. Lawrence, On the Passion of St. Victor, To the Virgin, and On the Annunciation. He composed poetic eulogies, such as those To Queen Mathilda, the wife of Henry I, and To Countess Ermenegarde, as well as metrical philosophical reflections On Old Age, On Time, On Fate, etc. One of his more extensive poems won him a place in the history of science, viz, The Book of Stones (or Gems ), which describes the qualities and virtues (real and imaginary) of some 60 different stones. This very popular work was translated into several languages. Marbod composed also a treatise on versification entitled De ornamentis verborum (On Verbal Ornamentation).

Two lives of Marbod have been published, one in French by L. Ernault (Rennes 1890), the other in Latin by C. Ferry (Paris 1899). Marbod's works were edited by J. Mayeux (Rennes 1524) and A. Beaugendre (Paris 1708) and were reprinted in Patrologia Latina 171:14511780.

Bibliography: Histoire littéraire de la France 10:343392. Analecta hymnica (Leipzig 1886-1922) 50:388403. m. manitius, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters 3:719730. a. wilmart, "Un nouveau poème de Marbode " Revue Bénédictine 51 (1939) 169181, l. thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science (New York 1923-58) v.1. j. de ghellinck, L'Essor de la littérature latine au XIIe siècle (Brussels-Paris 1946) 2:239240. f. j. e. raby, A History of Christian-Latin Poetry from the Beginnings to the Close of the Middle Ages (Oxford 1953) 273277. f. j. e. raby, A History of Secular Latin Poetry in the Middle Ages (Oxford 1957) 1:329337.

[d. d. mcgarry]

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