A Strain of Jonah the Prophet, background information.

Early Christian Writings

Title: [Cyprianus Gallus:] Carmen de Iona Propheta / Poem about the prophet Jonah 


From: (tertullian.org)

Ante-Nicene Fathers

Τὰ ἀρχαῖα ἔθη κρατείτω. The Nicene Council

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By: Roger Pearse  

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105 lines of verse about Jonah and his trip to Nineveh.  The text is mutilated – although some MSS give the title as De Ninive, the poem breaks off before Jonah arrives there.  The  work is probably the second part of a two-part work with De Sodoma, the first showing a preacher to an unrepentant city and De Iona the same to a repentant one.

The editio princeps was published by the Frenchman Franciscus Juretus (1553 – 1626)1.  Pierre Pithou had a manuscript, and sent Juretus a copy, from which he prepared his edition.  Pithou’s MS also contained De Sodoma.  Oehler refers to another manuscript, Codex Vindobonensis 16, in Vienna, from which he adds variants, and to Pithou’s MS, but I am unclear whether he used this directly or via the notes in the edition of Juretus.

The BNF catalogue suggests that P. Allix assigned this, with De Sodoma, to Salvian of Marseilles.  However the text of Allix given by Oehler in t.III does not make this statement for De Iona (although it does for Genesis).  According to Allix, De Iona and De Sodoma are by the same author.  Allix asserts (without listing them) that there are parallels in De Iona with  Prudentius, Hymn 7 Cathemerinon, and Paulinus of Nola, Carmine ad Cytherium, suggesting either that the author knew these, or they knew him.

In his praefatio on p.6 (also in English here), Oehler refers to two MSS containing the work: 

Codex Vindobonensis n. 322, olim Bobiensis.

Codex MS. Vindobonensis n. 282. paper, saec. XV.  This contains first the Carmen de Iona Propheta, copied in the hand of Janus Parrhasius from the Codex Bobiensis, now Vindobonensis n. 322, and then various other works by Tertullian.

[NB: It would be good to get an account of these two plus Vind. 16 from the library itself.]

1.  In the Bodleian online catalogue these dates are given, and his name also given as François JURET.  Likewise in the BNF online catalogue.

2.  According to QUASTEN IV it was first published by Juret in the Bibliotheca Patrum of Margarin de la Bigne.


• P: Codex Parisinus Latinus 2772 (Colbertinus). s. X.  f.71r-75: “opusculum Tertuliani de excidio Sodomae et Ninue”. (codex contains also many other poems).  (Details PEIPER, p. xviii).

p: The ‘Codex Pithoeus’, from which Iuretus (ad Paulin. Petric, 1585) edited De Iona and De Nineve for the first time under the name of Tertullian.  This MS seems to have been a poor copy of P.

V: Codex Lugduno-Batavus Voss. lat. Q 86 membr. s. VIIII.  f.81v-85v: in christi nomine incipit dictatus tertuliani metrica arte constricius in primis de incendio Sodomorum. — de Sodomis explicitum. de Iona. — de Iona explicitum. finit.  This is the codex listed in the old catalogue of Cluny, as #526: “Volumen in quo continentur Inuencus, Sedulius, Arator, Prosper, quoddam metrum Tertuliani, Cato….”.  Used by L. Mueller, Mus. Rhen. 22 (1867), p. 328ff.

T: Codex Vindobonensis 16. s. VIIII. “ITEM TTVLIANI DE IONA PROPHETA.”

N: Codex Neapolitanus lat. 55.  End of the 15th century.  Written by Giano Parrasio, and mainly derived from (but not direct copy of) T.  Never exploited by any editor.  Details from PALLA.

?: Codex Vaticanus Barberiniani lat. 460. 17th century copy.  Derived from a lost copy of N.  Details from PALLA.

?: Codex Vaticanus Barberiniani lat. 467. 17th century copy.  Derived from a lost copy of N.  Details from PALLA.



François JURET / Franciscus JURETUSBenedicti Paulini Petrocorii (Paulin de Périgueux), de Vita B. Martini libri sex, cum notis Francisci Jureti,… Ejusdem ad Nepotulum, ab eodem recensitum, carmen, itemque epigrammata basilicae Martini apud Turones inscriptum. Tertulliani carmen de Jona et Ninive, pariter a Jureto editum et illustratum. Paullini, Ausonii nepotis, Eucharisticum. Caspar Barthius omnia recensuit et animadversionibus illustravit. Accesserunt et notae in Paullinum Petrocorium Joannis Frederici Gronovii et indices auctorum rerumque, cura et studio Christiani Daumii. Lipsiae : apud J. Fuhrmannum et M. Ritterum (1680-1681). 2 parts in 1 vol. in-8°.  Not checked. (Details from BNF online catalogue).  EDITIO PRINCEPS.

J.-P. MIGNEPatrologia Latina 2 (1844), cols. 1107C-1114A. Checked.  A reprint of Franciscus Juretus.  Text and commentary.

F. OEHLERTertulliani Opera Quae Supersunt, t. II, Lipsiae (1851-3), pp.769-771.  Checked.  Online complete, with introduction and apparatus.

W. HARTELCSEL 3,3. Vienna (1871) 289-301 (Ps. Cyprian).  Not checked. (Details from Quasten 4 p.316.  Combined edition with De Sodoma).

R. PEIPER, CSEL 23. Vienna (1891), pp. 221-226.  Checked.



S. THELWALLANF 4 (1885), 127-129Checked. Online.


P. ALLIXQ. Septimii Florentis Tertulliani. Vita auctore P. Allix. in F. OEHLER, Tertulliani Opera Quae Supersunt, t. III, Lipsiae (1853), 37-78, esp. p.78.  Checked.  Ch. X deals with Tertullian’s spuria; a single paragraph discusses De Iona.

L. MÜLLERZu Tertullians Gedichten de Sodoma und de Iona, Rhein. Mus. N.F. 22. Jahrg. (1867), pp.329-344 & 464. (Details from Bibliotheca Scriptorum Classicorum, p.666).

Oliver Farrar EMERSONA parallel between the Middle English poem ‘Patience’ and an early Latin poem attributed to Tertullian, Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 10 (New series, vol. 3) (1895) pp. 242-248

Roberto PALLAUna trascrizione umanistica del Carmen de Iona.  Parrhasiana II.  Atti del II Seminario di Studi su manoscritti Medievali e Umanistici della Biblioteca Nazionale di Napoli (Napoli, 20-21 ottobre 2000).  Napoli (2002), p. 65-78.  (= A.I.O.N. Annali dell Istituto Universario Orientale di Napoli. Dipartmento di Studi del Mondon classico e del Mediterraneo antico, Sezione filologico-letteraria 24, 2002).  (Details CTC2002).  On Ms. N, and the Barberini copies.

Josep. M. ESCOLÀ TUSETCuestiones varias sobre los Carmina Pseudocyprianea, q.v. (2000)

[See also the studies listed for De Sodoma as the works are usually studied together today].

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