Commodian is a mystery. Placed by some in the early third century, and by others in the fifth, he has been located in such disparate places as North Africa, Gaza, Arles, Illyria, Gallia Narbonensis, and Rome. The current consensus favours a date in the mid-third century, and a North African provenance. His writings consist of a collection of eighty acrostic poems in two books entitled Instructiones, and a poem in hexameters entitled Carmen de Duobus Populis, or Carmen Apologeticum, his work is undistinguished. Book 1 of Instructiones is addressed to pagans, and book 2 to the Church. Carmen addressed Jews and Christians. The poems reflect a modalistic monarchian view of God, and a millenarian eschatology. These, and other factors, suggest a third-century date. (Ronald E. Heine, ‘The Beginnings of Latin Christian Literature’, in: F. Young, L. Ayres, and A. Louth (eds), The Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004) 132-133. See also J. Quasten, Patrology, vol. 3 (Notre Dame IN: Christian Classics, 1983) 259-265.)


    • CSEL 15 (ed. B. Dombart; 1887). — CCL 128 (ed. J. Martin; 1960).
  • [Clavis 1470] Instructiones
    • Editions: Commodiano: Instructiones, Collana di studi latini 13-14, 17 (ed. A. Salvatore; Napoli: Libreria scientifica editrice, 1965-1968).
    • Translations: The Ante-Nicene Fathers 4 (trans. R.E. Wallis; Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1995). [First published 1867-72].
  • [Clavis 1471] Carmen de duobus populis (seu Carmen apologeticum)
    • Editions: Commodiano, Carme apologetico, Corona patrum 5 (ed. A. Salvatore; Torino: SEI, 1977).

Secondary references

  • J. Durel, Commodien: recherches sur la doctine, la langue et le vocabulaire du poeté (Paris: E. Leroux, 1912).
  • Anton Frederik van Katwijk, Lexicon Commodianeum, cum introductione de Commodiani vita, temporibus, sermone (Amstelodami: M. J. Portielje, 1934).
  • J. Fontaine, Naissance de la poésie dans l’occident chrétien: esquisse d’une histoire de la poésie latine chrétienne du IIIe au VIe siècle (Paris: Etudes augustiniennes, 1981) 39-52.

Online resources