Christian poetess of the fourth century
Proba, FALTONIA, Christian poetess of the fourth century. The name Faltonia is doubtful and is apparently due to a confusion, as the MSS. call the author simply Proba. As granddaughter of Probus, consul in 310, daughter of Petronius Probianius, consul in 322, wife of Claudius Celcinus Adalphius, prefect of Rome in 351, and mother of C. Clodius Hermogenianus Olybrius, consul in 379, and of Faltonius Alypius, Proba belonged to that Roman aristocracy which upheld the old pagan religion so long against Christianity. Proba was at first a pagan, as was her husband, but once converted she persuaded him to follow her example. She had celebrated in an epic poem now lost the wars between Constantine and Magnentius. After her conversion she wrote a zento in hexameter verses in which she relates sacred history in terms borrowed exclusively from Virgil. The story of the Old Testament is briefly outlined, the author dwelling only on the Creation, the Fall, and the Deluge. The larger portion of the work recounts the life of Christ according to the Gospels. But the action of the poem is constrained and unequal, the manner absurd, the diction frequently either obscure or improper; nevertheless the work had a certain popularity during the Middle Ages.