Publication Date: 
6 March 2018
Available from 

In 1583 five Jesuit brothers set out with the intention of founding a new church and mission in India. Their dream was almost immediately, and brutally, terminated by local opposition. When their massacre was announced in Rome it was treated as martyrdom. Francesco Benci, professor of rhetoric at the Collegium Romanum, immediately set about celebrating their deaths in a new type of epic, distinct from, yet dependent upon, the classical tradition: Quinque martyres e Societate Iesu in India.

This is the first critical edition and translation of this important text. The commentary highlights both the classical sources and the historical and religious context of the mission. The introduction outlines Benci’s career and stresses his role as the founder of this vibrant new genre.

Paul Gwynne, Ph.D. (1990),

The Warburg Institute, University of London, is professor of Medieval and Renaissance Studies at The American University of Rome. He has published many articles and two monographs on Neo-Latin poetry: Poets and Princes: the Panegyric Poetry of Johannes Michael Nagonius, (Brepols, 2012); Patterns of Patronage in Renaissance Rome: Francesco Sperulo: Poet, Prelate, Soldier, Spy, 2 vols (Peter Lang, 2015)


Neo-Latin specialists, religious, political and cultural historians; scholars of reception studies and the classical tradition will find the edition useful; the description of art objects; religious buildings and Heaven will interest art historians.


Table of contents

List of Abbreviations
List of Illustrations
The Scope of this Book
A Note on the Text and Commentary
A Note on the Vocabulary 

Part 1. Francesco Benci and the Heroic Impulse
Francesco Benci, Professor of Rhetoric
The Portuguese and Jesuits in Goa and Salcete
The Five Companions: Talis ab Vrlini coetus se fuderat urbe (QM 5.606)
Synopsis of the Quinque martyres
The Quinque martyres and the Epic Tradition
Benci and Virgil
Benci and Contemporary Neo-Latin Epic: Vida’s Christiad and Barga’s Syrias
Ekphrasis in the Quinque martyres
The Later Reception of the Quinque martyres