Classics Corippus
Benjamin Goldlust
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 April 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0375


The poet who is generally called Corippus (though some scholars pretend that his real name was Gorippus) is the author, in the 6th century, of three pieces of work: the Iohannis, a historical Christian epic composed in honor of General John Troglita, charged by Emperor Justinian to put down the Berber insurrections in Byzacene (546–548), a Panegyric of Anastasius (of which what remains today is probably only the preface of a much larger piece), and an official poem of praise of Emperor Justin II (566–568), In laudem Iustini minoris. In addition, it has been proposed to identify the “Cresconius,” to which are attributed three epic poems appearing in the catalogue of the Lorsch library (mid-9th century) and a metrum appearing in that of Murbach (mid-9th century), with the epic poet Fl. Cresconius Corippus. Therefore, the poetic output could be augmented by these three biblically inspired poems. Corippus is a fundamental source on the African and proto-Byzantine history of the 6th century, as well as on the evolution of epic and panegyric literature at the end of Late Antiquity, still very anchored in the Virgilian tradition, but already preparing the transition to the Middle Ages, from an ideological, religious, and institutional point of view. His poetry is situated between epic and panegyric. If the Iohannis has a panegyric function, it nonetheless displays an epic ambition, while the praise of the emperor Justin II presents a strange mixture of genres. But Corippus also sought his place between West and East: very attached to his native Africa, which he never forgets, even while celebrating Romanism, he Christianizes this latter notion more deeply as he moves from Carthage to Constantinople. Finally, his poetry is situated at the point of articulation between Antiquity and the Middle Ages: the art of Corippus remains classic, but his inspiration is Christian, and the theme of the holy war announces the chanson de geste.

General Overviews

For a long time, judgments on Corippus’s work were particularly critical (as shown by Zarini 2015). Admittedly, the praise of Justin II offers a very representative illustration of epic panegyric and court poetry in the 6th century. But for a long time, the Iohannis has been stigmatized as a considerable impoverishment of the material of the traditional ancient epic. The interest in this work would have been limited, for the majority of the critics, to a purely ethnographic, historical, and ideological interest, the work offering an important testimony on views of the Moors, on their practices and religion (Charlet 1994). The rediscovery of Corippus’s work, thanks to good synthesis articles like Krestan and Winkler 1957 and Tandoi 1984, and the publication of new editions have made it possible to take a new look at the poet and to better understand the criteria according to which he should be read (Goldlust 2015).

  • Charlet, Jean-Louis. 1994. Corippe. In Encyclopédie berbère. Vol. 14. Edited by Gabriel Camps, 2104–2110. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters.

    A very useful synthesis.

  • Goldlust, Benjamin, ed. 2015. Corippe, un poète latin entre deux mondes. Lyon, France: CEROR.

    Proceedings of the only conference so far dedicated to Corippus, with a systematic bibliography on Corippus and his works.

  • Krestan, Ludmilla and Klaus Winkler. 1957. Corippus. In Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum. Vol. 3, Edited by Franz Joseph Dölger, 424–429. Stuttgart: Hiersemann.

    A good synthesis.

  • Tandoi, Vincenzo. 1984. Corippo. In Enciclopedia virgiliana. Vol. 1. Edited by Francesco della Corte, 890–892. Rome: Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana.

    Excellent summary, pointing out the influence of Virgil on Corippus.

  • Zarini, Vincent. 2015. La recherche sur Corippe: Bilan et perspectives. In Corippe, un poète latin entre deux mondes. Edited by Benjamin Goldlust, 15–30. Lyon, France: CEROR.

    Provides thorough research about Corippus and his works.

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