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Senatorial Bishops in the Fourth Century*

  • Frank D. Gilliard (a1)
Extract

In the triumph of Christianity after Constantine's victory at the Milvian Bridge, no group has been more assiduously studied than the senatorial aristocracy of the fourth and fifth centuries, the clarissimi and their families, whose initial reluctance to abandon paganism is as clear as their ultimate accommodation to the new religion. An important indication of their Christianization is the number of them who were willing to forego traditional political careers for ecclesiastical office. Ambrose comes immediately to mind as an example of such a senator from the fourth century, and Sidonius Apollinaris from the fifth. With precipitous speed Ambrose resigned the governorship of Aemilia-Liguria to become bishop of Milan, and Sidonius accepted ordination to the see of Clermont in the year after he had been urban prefect at Rome. Because of these senators and some others like them, students of Late Antiquity have been willing to identify many fourth-century bishops as members of the senatorial aristocracy who seemingly chose between two competing forms of vita activa, the Empire and the Church. The issue is not trivial, especially if one believes with Arnaldo Momigliano that “when the choice is offered, when you can choose between being a bishop and being a consul, you are no longer an ancient man, you are a medieval one.” I think that there were few if any such medieval men among the clarissimi of the fourth century. I propose to argue here that when the identification of fourth-century bishops with imperial senators is cross-examined, it seldom carries conviction, and that the episcopal lists of the fourth century contain surprisingly few names from senatorial families.

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1 E.g.: Stroheker, Karl Friedrich, Der senatorische Adel im spätantiken Gallien (Tübingen: Alma Mater, 1948; Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1970); Heinzelmann, Martin, Bischofsherrschaft in Gallien: zur Kontinuität römischer Führungsschichten vom 4. bis 7. Jahrhundert: Soziale, prosopographische und bildungsgeschichtliche Aspekte (Beiheft of Francia 5; Munich: Artemis, 1976); Rousselle, Aline, “Aspects sociaux du recrutement ecclésiastique au IVesiècle,” Mélanges d'archéologie et d'histoire de l'Ecole Française de Rome 89 (1977) 333–70; and Eck, Werner, “Der Einfluss der konstantinischen Wende auf die Auswahl der Bischöfe im 4. and 5. Jahrhundert,” Chiron 8 (1978) 561–85.

2 “After Gibbon's Decline and Fall,” in Weitzmann, Kurt, ed., Age of Spirituality: A Symposium (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1980) 15.

3 Jones, A. H. M. (The Later Roman Empire, 284–602: A Social, Economic, and Administrative Survey [2 vols.; Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1964] 2. 920–29) discussed the social origins of the clergy, remarking that the “great majority of the higher clergy … were drawn from the middle classes, … above all curiales” (923–24). Recent confirmation of this for North Africa in the fourth and fifth centuries comes from Werner Eck: “Somit ist es ohne Zweifel berechtigt, einen nicht unerheblichen Teil der Bischöfe den Kurialenfamilien der Städte zuzuweisen” (Der Episkopat im spätantiken Africa: organisatorische Entwicklung, soziale Herkunft, und öffentliche Funktionen,” HZ 236 [1983] 289).

4 Imperial legislation regarding decurions in holy orders is summarized by Gaudemet, Jean, L'église dans l'empire romain (IVe– Ve siecles) (Paris: Sirey, 1958) 144–46. Cf. ibid., 177–78; Abbott, Frank F. and Johnson, Allan C., Municipal Administration in the Roman Empire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1926; New York: Russell and Russell, 1968) 225; and on the munera, Chastagnol, André, L'évolution politique, sociale et économique du monde romain de Dioclétien à Julien: La mise en place du régime du Bas-Empire (284–363) (Paris: Société d'Édition d'Enseignement Supériur, 1982) 295–98.

5 Eusebius Vit. Const. 4.24 (GCS, Heikel): “ἀλλ᾽ ὑμεῖς μὲν τῶν εἴσω τῆς ἐκκλησίας, ὲγὼ δὲ τῶν ὲκτὸς ὑπὸ θεοῦ καθεσταμένος ἐπίσκοπος ἂν εἴην” (“You are bishops of those within the church; but I am bishop, appointed by God, of those without”). On ἐπίσκοπος τῶν ἐκτός, see Decker, Daniel de and Dupuis-Masay, Ginette, “L'épiscopat de l'empereur Constantin,” Byzantion 50 (1980) 118–57, with full bibliography.

6 Piganiol, André, L'empire Chrétien (2d ed.; Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1972) passim; and Gaudemet, L'église, 18–19 and passim. That the favors were not of such magnitude as has sometimes been claimed is shown by Chrysos, Evangelos, “Die angebliche Nobilitierung des Klerus durch Kaiser Konstantin den Grossen,” Historia 18 (1969) 119–28, and Jerg, Ernst, Vir Venerabilis: Untersuchungen zur Titulatur der Bischöfe in den ausserkirchlichen Texten der Spätantike als Beitrag zur Deutung ihrer öffentlichen Stellung (Wiener Beiträge zur Theologie 26; Vienna: Herder, 1970). Cf. Lotter, Friedrich, “Zu den Anredenformen und ehrenden Epitheta der Bischöfe in Spätantike und frühem Mittelalter,” Deutsches Archiv für Erforschung des Mittelalters 27 (1971) 514–17.

7 Eusebius Hist. eccl. 8.9.6–8 (GCS, Schwartz): διαπρέψας ⋯ν⋯ρ ταῖς κατ⋯ τ⋯ν πατρίδα πολιτείαις τε κα⋯ λειτουργίαις (a man prominent for the public services he rendered to his country). Not only λειτουργίαις but also πολιτείαις points to Phileas's curial status. We know, for example, that Libanius used it exclusively to refer to municipal government: Petit, Paul, Libanius et la vie municipale à Antioche au quatrième siecle après J.-C. (Paris: Geuthner, 1955) 24.

8 Possidius Vita S. Aug. 1 (Weiskotten): De numero curialium parentibus honestis et Christianis pregenitus erat; Augustine Conf. 2.3.5 (CChr 27, Verheijen): sumptus praeparabantur animositate magis quam opibus patris, municipis Thagastensis admodum tenuis.

9 Batiffol, Pierre, “L'épitaphe d'Eugène, évèque de Laodicée,” Bulletin d'ancienne littérature et d'archéologie chrétiennes (1911) 2534; and Leclercq, Henri, “Eugène de Laodicée,” DACL 5/1 (1922) 694702. On Evagrius see Libanius Ep. 1224, 1426 (Foerster); Seeck, Otto, Die Briefe des Libanius zeitlich geordnet (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1906)s.v. Evagrius IV. On Faustinus see Libanius Ep. 666; Petit, Libanius, 401; idem, Les étudiants de Libanius (Paris: Nouvelles Editions Latines, 1957) 167. On Helladius see Basil Ep. 281 (Budé Texts, Courtonne).

10 Giet, Stanislas, “Basile, était-il sénateur?RHE 60 (1965) 429–44; Kopecek, Thomas A., “The Social Class of the Cappadocian Fathers,” CH 42 (1973) 453–66; The Cappadocian Fathers and Civic Patriotism,” CH 43 (1974) 293303. Cf. Fedwick, Paul J., The Church and the Charisma of Leadership in Basil of Caesarea (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1979) 38 n. 4. For Rome in the fourth and early fifth centuries, Charles Pietri remarks: “Au total, tous ces indices suggèrent un recrutement assez traditionnel: ces éveques, au moins ceux dont on entrevoit les origines, appartiennent, semble-t-il, à des families de tradition chrétienne, dejà consacrées au service de l'Église comme celle de Damase” (Roma Christiana [Bibliotheque des Ecoles Françaises d'Athènes et de Rome 224; 2 vols.; Paris: Ecole Française de Rome, 1976] 1. 703).

11 Jones, Later Roman Empire, 1. 737–57; Chastagnol, L'évolution politique, 282–87. Cf. MacMullen, Ramsay: “an immense economic gulf separated the senate of a large Italian city from that of a little town in the provinces…” (Roman Social Relations 50 B.C. to A.D. 284 [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974] 91). See the comparative figures in Eck, “Der Episkopat,” 274–76.

12 Moore, O'Brien, “Senatus (Dominat),” PWSup. 6 (1935) 795800; Stein, Ernst, Histoire du Bas-Empire (2 vols.; ed. Palanque, J. R.; Paris, 1959; Amsterdam: A. M. Hakkert, 1968) 1. 127; Jones, Later Roman Empire, 1. 132–36; Chastagnol, André, “L'évolution de l'ordre sénatorial aux IIIe et IVe siècles de notre ère,” Revue Historique 244 (1970) 305–14; “Les modes de recrutement du sénat au IVe siècle après J.C.,” in Nicolet, Claude, ed., Recherches sur les structures sociales dans l'antiquité classique: Caen 25–26 Avril 1969 (Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientiflque, 1970) 187211; “Constantin et le sénat,” in Accademia Romanistica Constantiniana, Atti 2° Convegno Internazionale (Perugia: Libreria Universitaria, 1976) 5169; Remarques sur les senateurs orientaux au IVe siècle,” Acta Antiqua 24 (1976) 341–56; L'évolution politique, 205–35 and 265–78; Dagron, Gilbert, Naissance d'une capitale: Constantinople et ses institutions de 330 à 451 (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1974) 119–90.

13 On principales and protoi see Ganghoffer, Roland, L'évolution des institutions municipales en Occident et en orient au Bas-Empire (Paris: Librairie Générale de Droit et de Jurisprudence, 1963) 118–20 and 172–73; cf. Croix, G. E. M. de Ste., The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World from the Archaic Age to the Arab Conquests (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981) 471–72 and Chastagnol, L'évolution politique, 294.

14 Kopecek comments that “it was a project as much curial and patriotic as Christian” (“Civic Patriotism,” 295).

15 Ibid., 302, with reference to Basil Ep. 94.

16 Phillott, Henry W., “Romanianus,” in Smith, William and Wace, Henry, eds., A Dictionary of Christian Biography: Literature, Sects, and Doctrines (= DCB, 4 vols.; Boston: Little, Brown, 18771887; New York: AMS, 1974); Brown, Peter, Augustine of Hippo (London: Faber & Faber, 1967) 21, 35–39; and, esp., “Romanianus” in the first volume of the long-awaited Prosopographie chrétienne du Bas-Empire: Mandouze, André, ed., Prosopographie de l'Afrique chrétienne (303–533) ( = PCBE 1; Paris: Centre National de la Recherche, 1982).

17 E.g., Jones, Later Roman Empire, 1. 737: “juridically it was a single class.”

18 Socrates Hist. eccl. 1.12 (Hussey); Suidas, s.v. Σπυρίδων (Adler); Sozomen calls him ἄγροικος which is hardly flattering (Hist. eccl. 1.11 [GCS, Bidez]). On shepherds, who have been generally associated with inferior classes and bandits, see Dam, Raymond Van, “Heretics, Bandits, and Bishops: Studies in the Religion and Society of Late Roman Gaul and Spain” (Ph.D. diss., Cambridge University, 1977) 112–16, and Brown, Raymond E., The Birth of the Messiah (New York: Doubleday, 1977) 420.

19 Sozomen reports on Zeno (Hist. eccl. 7.28). For Maiuma (or Constantia), see Jones, Later Roman Empire, 1. 91, 720, 877, 943; idem, The Greek City from Alexander to Justinian (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1940) 93. On Gaza see Meyer, Martin A., History of the City of Gaza from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (Columbia University Oriental Studies 5; New York: Columbia University Press, 1907) 5572; Leclercq, , “Gaza,” DACL 6/1 (1924) 695720; Grégoire, Henri and Kugener, M.-A., Marc le Diacre, vie de Porphyre, éveque de Gaza (Paris: Société d'Edition “Les Belles Lettres,” 1930) xlvii–lvi; Mayerson, Philip, “The Desert of Southern Palestine according to Byzantine Sources,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 107 (1963) 167; and Grant, Robert, Early Christianity and Society: Seven Studies (London: Collins, 1978) 911. Cf. Jones: “Maiuma, the port of Gaza, was already predominantly Christian in Contstantine's reign, but Gaza itself remained pagan nearly a century later; under Constantius II it had only one Christian decurion” (Later Roman Empire, 2. 943).

20 Marcus Diaconus Vit. Porph. 4: Γένος δ⋯ ἦν αὐτο⋯ ⋯πίσημον. Τούτῳ θεῖος ἔρως ὑπεισ⋯λθεν καταλεῖψαι πατρίδα κα⋯ λαμπρότητα γένους κα⋯ πλο⋯τον ἄπειρον καἰ ⋯σπάσασθαι τ⋯ν μονήρη βίον. (And his family was distinguished. A divine desire came upon him to leave his country and the splendor of his family and his limitless wealth and to embrace the life of solitude). The author of such a passage could hardly have resisted an explicit reference to senatorial rank, if Porphyry had possessed it. Whether Porphyry left “limitless wealth” or not, he is said to have relied on money from the empress Eudoxia for his building program in Gaza: Marcus Diaconus Vit. Porph. 53. For strictures against the reliability of the Vit. Porph., see MacMullen, Ramsay, Christianizing the Roman Empire (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984) 8687, following Peeters, Paul, “La vie géorgienne de Saint Porphyre de Gaza,” AnBoll 59 (1941) 65126.

21 Grégoire and Kugener, Vie de Porphyre, ix–xi, lxiv–lxx, and 126–27, concerning Vit. Porph. 63–71.

22 Gaudemet is probably right to suggest that humble priests acceded to episcopal sees more often than we know (L'église, 337). The heresiarch Aetius (ca. 361–367) is sometimes cited as an example of a “lower class” bishop, but I am not sure. He and his widowed mother were impoverished, but the father had at one time held a post in an imperial officium at Antioch: Philostorgius Hist. eccl. 3.15 (GCS, Bidez and Winkelmann); Suidas, s. v.έτιος. His orthodox opponents would have been inclined to denigrate him. Kopecek, Thomas A. maintains that “the likelihood is that he came from one of the poorer curial families of Antioch” (A History of Neo-Arianism [Patristic Monograph Series 8; 2 vols.; Philadelphia: Philadelphia Patristic Foundation, 1979] 1. 63). Likewise uncertain is the status of George, the Arian Bishop of Alexandria (356–61), although Kopecek thinks that “probabilities lie … with identifying George as a member of the lower class” (Social/Historical Studies in the Cappadocian Fathers” [Ph.D. diss., Brown University, 1972] 245). With a similar argument and conclusion: idem, History of Neo-Arianism, 1. 142–45.

23 One should be aware that senators, like curiales, did not form a neat, homogeneous group. There were huge differences among them in wealth, ancestry, and prestige; and the number of senators varied greatly, from 600 or so under Constantine to some 4000 by the time of Theodosius the Great: see n. 13 above and Jones, Later Roman Empire, 1. 144, 527, 545–52. For distinctions between “order,” “class,” and “status,” see Finley, Moses I., The Ancient Economy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973) 3561. The number of curiales is hardly ascertainable, but Jones conjectured that it may have been “about a quarter of a million” in the fourth century (The Caste System of the Later Roman Empire,” Eirene 8 [1970] 93).

24 Giet, “Basile”; Kopecek, “The Social Class”; “Civic Patriotism”; “Curial Displacement and Flight in Later Fourth Century Cappadocia,” Historia 23 (1974) 319–42.

25 E.g., by Rousselle, “Aspects sociaux” and Eck, “Einfluss.” Besides Ambrose and Nectarius, Eck names only one other senatorial bishop, Marcellus (see below pp. 166–68), although he asserts (582) that “in dieser Kategorie [the ordo senatorius] sind einige weitere Beispiele.” Not so confidently, Henry Chadwick says that Priscillian was “probably senatorial” (Priscillian of Avila: The Occult and the Charismatic in the Early Church [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976] 8). But Sulpicius Severus, our source for the family of Priscillian, says only that he was familia nobilis and praedives opibus (Chronicorum 2.46 [Halm]). See below pp. 163–68 for the insufficiency of such evidence.

26 Wightman, Edith M., Roman Trier and the Treviri (New York: Praeger, 1971) 5862.

27 Duchesne, Louis, Fastes épiscopaux de l'ancienne Gaule (3 vols.; 2d ed.; Paris: Fointemoing, 19071915) 3. 35; Winheller, Ernst, Die Lebensbeschreibungen der vorkarolingischen Bischöfe von Trier (Bonn: Ludwig Röhrscheid, 1935) 121–45; Gauthier, Nancy, L'évangélisation des pays de la Moselle: La province romaine de Première Belgique entre Antiquité et Moyen Age (IIIe–VIIIe siècles) (Paris: de Boccard, 1980) 4347. That Helena was ever present at Trier is not certain; see Hunt, E. D., Holy Land Pilgrimage in the Later Roman Empire, AD 312–460 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982) 3031.

28 Winheller, Lebensbeschreibungen, 144. He concludes that the vita “ist als Quelle für das 4. Jahrhundert völlig wertlos” (145).

29 Duchesne, Fastes épiscopaux, 3. 35; Winheller, Lebensbeschreibungen, 10 – 27; Stroheker, Der senatorische Adel, no. 244; Gauthier, L'évangélisation, 47–55.

30 Bruno Krusch, ed., Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores Rerum Merovingkarum (=MGHSRM) 3. 74.

31 Acta Sanctorum (eds. J. Bolland, J. Carnadet, et al.; 1863–1868) 6 August 676; Duchesne, Fastes épiscopaux, 3. 35; Stroheker, Der senatorische Adel, no. 288; Gauthier, L'évangélisation, 55–58, 67–86.

32 E.g., by Rousselle, “Aspects sociaux,” 367; following Stroheker, Der senatorische Adel.

33 Citations in Duchesne, Fastes épiscopaux, 3. 35 n. 4.

34 MGH SRM, 3. 74.

35 Vit. Hilarii 6 in Bruno Krusch, ed., Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Auctores Antiquissimi ( = MGH AA) 4. 2; Duchesne, Fastes épiscopaux, 2. 82; Stroheker, Der senatorische Adel, no. 192.

36 De glor. conf 75 (MGH SRM, 1.2); Duchesne, Fastes épiscopaux, 2. 176–77. He is not listed in Stroheker, Der senatorische Adel.

37 De glor. conf. 75; Duchesne, Fastes épiscopaux, 2. 177; Stroheker, Der senatorische Adel, no. 361.

38 Hist. fran. 1.44 (MGH SRM, 1. 1); Duchesne, Fastes épiscopaux, 2. 177; Stroheker, Der senatorische Adel, no. 399.

39 Ambrose Ep. 58.3 (PL 16): “What will our leading citiizens say when they hear this It is unthinkable that a man of such family, such background, such genius, gifted with such eloquence, should retire from the Senate and that the succession of so noble a family should be broken. Although in performing the rites of Isis they shave their heads and eyebrows, they yet call it a shameful thing for a Christian out of devotion to his holy religion to change his apparel” (Beyenka, Mary M., ed. and trans., Saint Ambrose: Letters [FC 26; Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1954]). Cf. Jones, Later Roman Empire, 2. 923, and Walsh, P. G., “Paulinus of Nola and the Conflict of Ideologies in the Fourth Century,” in Granfield, Patrick and Jungmann, Josef A., eds., Kyriakon: Festschrift Johannes Quasten (2 vols.; Münster: Aschendorff, 1970) 565–71, and Lienhard, Joseph T., Paulinus of Nola and Early Western Monasticism (Theophaneia: Beiträge zur Religions- und Kirchengeschichte des Altertums 28; Cologne: Hanstein, 1977) 29. Augustine (Conf. 9.2) carefully timed the announcement of his conversion in order to avoid any sensationalism. For Paulinus' conversion and its significance, see Frend, W. H. C., “Paulinus of Nola and the Last Century of the Western Empire,” JRS 59 (1969) 111, reprinted in idem, Town and Country in the Early Christian Centuries (London: Variorum Reprints, 1980); and “The Two Worlds of Paulinus of Nola,” in Binns, J. W., ed., Latin Literature of the Fourth Century (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1974) 100–33.

40 Piganiol, L–3, 421–22; Matthews, John F., Western Aristocracies and the Imperial Court (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974) 146–72; Gauthier, L'évangélisation, 107–10; MacMullen, Christianization, 74–85, esp. with n. 33 on p. 155. For St. Martin's campaign against Gallic paganism in the last third of the century, see Stancliffe, Clare, St. Martin and His Hagiographer: History and Miracle in Sulpicius Severus (Oxford: Clarendon, 1983) 328–40.

41 E.g., Mandouze, PCBE 1, who lists the names of more than 275 bishops from fourth-century Africa; of them, only one is even arguably of senatorial rank. Most of the names are known only because they are subscribed to a conciliar document.

42 See above pp. 156–57.

43 Wightman, Roman Trier, 59, 110–13, 231; Krautheimer, Richard, “The Constantinian Basilica,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 21 (1967) 117–40; Piganiol, L'empire Chrétien, 436 n. 4; and Gauthier, L'évangélisation, 35–43. Cf. Vogt, J., “Pagans and Christians in the Family of Constantine the Great, ”in Momigliano, Arnaldo, ed., The Conflict Between Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963) 3855. He implies (49) that Constantine built the great church at Trier to compensate for condemning to death his wife Fausta and son Crispus. Although Wightman (Roman Trier, 59) would agree, Geanakoplos, Deno J. (“Church Building and ‘Caesaropapism,’ AD 312–565,” GRBS 7 [1966] 185) makes no allowance for such a motivation.

44 Male, Emile, La fin du paganisme en Gaule, et les plus anciennes basitiques chrétiennes (Paris: Flammarion, 1950); Hubert, Jean, L'architecture religieuse du haut moyen age en France (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1952). Also see Harper, James, “The Cities of Gaul from the Third to the Seventh Century” (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1962). For Autun, Clermont, Poitiers, and Trier, cf. Vieillard-Troiekouroff, May, Les monuments religieux de la Gaule d'après les oeuvres de Grégoire de Tours (Paris: Honoré Champion, 1976) 4244, 85–104, 218–30, 329–31.

45 Jones, Later Roman Empire, 2. 895–96; Lesne, Emile, Histoire de la propriété ecclésiastique en France 1: Epoque romaine et merovingienne (Paris: Honoré Champion, 1910) 148. Lesne (19) calls attention to bishop Eparchius of Clermont (462–72), thus the immediate predecessor of Sidonius Apollinaris and a successor of the allegedly senatorial bishop Urbicus, who lived in the sacristy of the church because, as Gregory of Tours related: eo tempore ecclesia parvam infra muros urbis possessionem habebat (Hist, fran. 2.21). Lesne goes on to say: “Au Ve siècle, aucune église des Gaules n'est dotée en biens-fonds comme le sont, des le IVe siècle, les opulents églises de Rome, d'Antioche, d'Alexandrie.” Cf. the curial bishop Gregory of Nazianzus, who died in 389 and left the bulk of his estate to his church. For his will see PG 37. 389–96.

46 S. A. Bennett, “Paulinus (4),”DCB 4.

47 Fastes épiscopaux, 2. 81–82.

48 “Die Vita weiss uber Maximin selbst also recht wenig, und das Wenige was sie berichtet, ist sehr unsicher” (Lebensbeschreibungen, 16). Cf. ibid., 174–76. Rousselle (“Aspects sociaux,” 367) might well have been more cautious than to place Maxentius (not to mention Maximinus and Paulinus) on her list of senatorial bishops.

49 The Senators of Sixth-Century Gaul,”Speculum 54 (1979) 685–97, which argued against the prevailing view of Stroheker, first proposed in Die Senatoren bei Gregor von Tours,” Klio 34 (1942) 293305, reprinted in Germanentum und Spätantike (Zurich: Artemis, 1965) 192206, and later adopted in Der senatorische Adel. Cf. Chastagnol, André, “Sidoine Apollinaire et le sénat de Rome, “Acta Antiqua 26 (1978) 5770, who follows Stroheker.

50 The usage was old and not entirely provincial. Cicero, for instance, complained: lota Sicilia per triennium neminem ulla in civitale senatorem factum esse (In Verr. 2.120 [Teubner, Klotz]). In Gaul, senatus and senator for curia and curialis are even inscriptionally attested. See Ruprecht, Gerd (Untersuchungen zum Dekurionenstand in den nordwestlichen Provinzen des römischen Reiches [Frankfurter althistorische Studien 8; Kallmünz: Lassleben, 1975] 126–28) for a discussion of CIL XII 1514, 1590, and 1591 (= Dessau, ILS 5148) from Gallia Narbonensis; see ibid., 187 for the possible mention of a senate at Lisieux in Gallia Lugdunensis. See also Collingwood, Robin G. and Wright, R. P., The Roman Inscriptions of Britain 1 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965) no. 933. This inscription is perhaps of a senator from Carlisle (St. Patrick's home?), and is discussed by Thomas, Charles (Christianity in Roman Britain to AD 500 [London: Batsford, 1981] 310–14).

51 For an explication and a bibliography of Patrician problems, see ibid., 307–46.

52 Mohrmann, Christine, The Latin of St. Patrick (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1961).Salway, Peter (Roman Britain [Oxford: Oxford University press, 1981] 463) accepts that Patrick “almost certainly” studied theology under Germanus. He is persuaded by Ludwig Bieler, “St. Patrick and the British Church,” in Barley, M. W. and Hanson, R. P. C., eds., Christianity in Britain, 300–700 (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1968) 123–30. See Bieler, , “Libri Epistolarum Sancti Patricii Episcopi: Introduction, text, and commentary,” Classica et Medievalia 11 (1950) 1150 and 12 (1951) 81–214 for a detailed linguistic commentary on Patrick's work. But Hanson argues persuasively that Patrick never got to Gaul (The Life and Writings of the Historical Saint Patrick [New York: Seabury, 1983] 2731).

53 Epistola 10, conveniently consulted in the bilingual edition of Hood, Allan B. E., ed. and trans., St. Patrick: His Writings and Muirchu's Life (Chichester: Phillimore, 1978) 36. Hood translates vendidi enim nobilitatem meam as “I sold my good birth” (57). Hanson translates it as “I bargained away my aristocratic status” (Life and Writings, 66). See also his new critical edition, in collaboration with Cécile Blanc, Saint Patrick: Confession et Lettre à Coroticus: Introduction, Texte Critique, Traduction et Notes (SC 249; Paris: Cerf, 1978), where the translation is “j'ai vendu ma noblesse” and the note thereto seems to miss the point that Patrick actually sold something. I do not understand why Eric A. Thompson says that “Patrick says nothing of the sources of his income” (Romans and Barbarians: The Decline of the Western Empire [Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982] 247).

54 Similarly, Jerome referred to the curial bishop Phileas of Thmuis (see above p. 155) as nobili genere (De vir. ill. 78 [PL 23]). With reference to fourth-century Gaul, see Ganghoffer, L'évolution, 119–20. Citing the Parentalia (11.5 and 16.6) of Ausonius, he says: “II y avait done une noblesse municipale a base foncière parfaitment caracterisée, nobilis a proavis [or] genus clarae nobilitatis, qu'il faut rapprocher sans doute de la nobilitas de Bazas chez Paulin de Pella (Ench. 336) et dans quelques cités; e'est dans cette noblesse que se recrutaient encore des décurions” (120). Cf. Chastagnol: “… souvent aussi, il [the word nobilis] pouvait désigner des curiales non clarissimes” (“Sidoine Apollinaire,” 58).

55 Labriolle, Pierre de, Histoire de la littérature latine chrétienne (2 vols.; Paris: Société déÉdition “Les Belles Lettres”, 1947) 2. 756–61; Riché, Pierre, Education and Culture in the Barbarian West: Sixth through Eighth Centuries (trans. John J. Contreni; Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1976) 144.

56 Ibid., 273. Cf. Erich Auerbach: “Fortunatus had at his command the plainest forms of Christian sermo humilis” (Literary Language and its Public in Late Latin Antiquity and in the Middle Ages [trans. Ralph Mannheim; Bollingen Series 74; New York: Pantheon, 1965] 261). For Gregory of Tours' use of sermo humilis see my “Senators,” 690 and footnotes.

57 Hilaire de Poitiers avant I'exil: Recherches sur la naissance, I'enseignment et l'épreuve d'une foi épiscopale en Gaule au milieu du IVe siècle (Paris: Études augustiniennes, 1971) 73 n. 6. Although Doignon derives the topos from Paul the Deacon's Vita Ambrosii, it goes back some twenty-five years earlier, to Evagrius of Antioch's Latin translation of Athanasius's Vita Antonii. See Fontaine, Jacques, ed., Sulpice Sevère, Vie de Saint Martin (SC 133–35; Paris: Cerf, 19671969) 2. 434–36.

58 Eck, “Der Einfluss,” 582.

59 “Marcellus (6),” DCB 3.

60 “Marcellus 8,” in Jones, A. H. M., Martindale, J. R., and Morris, J., eds., The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire ( = PLRE; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971).

61 “Laetus 2,” PLRE 1.

62 Ep. 82.

63 “L'éveque Marcellus était d'une famille fortunée et notable d'une ville provinciate;

la lettre de saint Ambroise en donne l'impression très nette. II appartenait done par sa naissance à l'ordre des décurions” (“Une sentence arbitrale de S. Ambroise,” Revue historique de droit français et étranger [1929] 304). A curial Marcellus would dovetail with my argument, even if he was a bishop.

64 In addition to the standard lexica, cf. Walsh, P. G., ed. and trans., Letters of Paulinus of Nola (2 vols.; ACW 35–36; London: 19661967) 1. 218 n. 26; Betty I. Knott, “The Christian ‘Special Language’ in the Inscriptions,” VC 10 (1956) 65–79; and Heinzelmann, Bischofsherrschaft, 69 n. 45.

65 Dudden, F. Homes, The Life and Times of St. Ambrose (2 vols.; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1935) 1. 131 n. 8; cf. Claudio Morino, Church and State in the Teaching of St. Ambrose (trans. M. Joseph Costelloe; Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1969) 25.

66 Gaudemet (L'église, 230–40) summarizes what is known about the episcopalis audientia. Recent studies include Walter Selb, “Episcopalis audientia von der Zeit Konstantins bis zur Novelle XXXV Valentinians III,” Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtgeschichte (Romanistische Abteilung) 84 (1967) 162–217 (with extensive bibliography cited at 162 n. 1); and Waldstein, Wolfgang, “Zur Stellung der episcopalis audientia im spätrömischen Prozess,” in Festschrift für M. Kaser zum 70. Gebunstag (Munich: Beck, 1976) 533–56. See also Claude Lepelley, Les cités de I'Afrique romaine (2 vols.; Paris: Études augustiniennes, 1979–81) 1. 381–95, and Chadwick, Henry, The Role of the Christian Bishop in Ancient Society (Protocol of the Colloquy of the Center for Hermeneutical Studies in Hellenistic and Modern Culture 35; Berkeley: 1980) 68.

67 Cf. Palanque, Jean-Remy, Saint Ambroise et I'empire romain (Paris: de Boccard, 1933) 376–78: “dans cet arrangement, le frère et la soeur de l'éveque reçoivent Pun et l'autre une part de l'héritage contesté; c'est l'homme d'Eglise qui semble frustré.”

68 Cf. Ambrose Ep. 82.3, 6, a n d esp. 11: Christo igitur auctore et duobus arbitris sacerdotibus. Note that in Ep. 63.64 Ambrose, even having distinguished the bishop from the presbyter, goes on to refer to both as sacerdos.

69 “Petilianus,” PCBE 1; Lancel, Serge, ed., Actes de la Conférence de Carthage en 411 (3 vols.; SC 194, 195, 224; Paris: Cerf, 1972) 1. 221–38, 281; Monceaux, Paul, Histoire littéraire de l'Afrique chrétienne depuis les origines jusqu'à l'invasion arabe (7 vols.; Paris: Leroux, 19011923; Brussels: Culture et Civilisation, 1963) 6. 3–85; and Maier, Jean Louis, L'épiscopat de l'Afrique romaine, vandale et byzantine (Bibliotheca Helvetica Romana 11; Rome: Institut Suisse de Rome, 1973) 380–81.Frend, W. H. C.(The Donatist Church [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1952] 211) mistakenly thought that Petilian “submitted … to rebaptism.”

70 Lancel, Actes, 1. 234.

71 Monceaux (Histoire littéraire, 6. 3) calls him “lamentabiement médiocre.”

72 The first volume of Lancel's edition and translation of the acts for the Sources Chrétiennes is a commentary on the conference, Cf. Frend, Donatist Church, 247–89.

73 “Petilianus,” PCBE 1.

74 Jones, Later Roman Empire, 1. 528–30, 541; and, with a focus on fourth-century procedures in the East, which probably were the same as those in the West: Dagron, Constantinople, 154–90.

75 Jones, Later Roman Empire, 1. 54. For adlection in the fourth century, see Chastagnol, “Les modes,” 194–206.

76 Augustine C. lilt. Petil. (CSEL 52) and Ad Caes. eccl. plebem sermo (CSEL 53); other passages cited in “Petilianus,” PCBE 1.

77 Lancel, Actes 2 and 3, passim; “Marcellinus 10,” PLRE 2. Cf.: “Excursus I: Titres de rang et titres de courtoisie dans les actes de 411” (Lancel, Actes 1. 328–31). One could maintain that the Christian sentiments of the participants at the conference and of those recording the proceedings led them to ignore Petilian's secular rank in favor of his ecclesiastical rank.

78 “Fortunatianus (4),” DCB 2.

79 “II ne faut évidemment pas considérer comme une formule de titulature le vir clarissimus que Fortunatianus de Sicca donne à Pétilien (I, 207, 1. 97): l'appellation semble plutôt faussement déférente, voire franchement ironique, comme auparavant vir gravissimus (I, 6 8 )” (Actes, 1. 328–29 n. 3).

80 Mandouze (PCBE 1) is the first to my knowledge who has accepted Fortunatianus's irony as fact. Eck (“Der Episkopat”) ignored the issue, as did Monceaux (Histoire littéraire), Frend (Donatist Church), Mechtild Overbeck (Untersuchungen zum afrikanischen Senatsadel in der Spätantike [Frankfurter althistorische Studien 7; Kallmünz: Lassleben, 1973]), and Lepelley (Cités). Overbeck thought that “Der einzige bekannte donatistische Senator war Celer, den Augustin bekehrte” (51).

81 “Ambrosius 3,” PLRE 1.

82 Dudden, Ambrose, 1. 66–68; Bahhasar Fischer, “Hat Ambrosius von Mailand in der Woche zwischen seiner Taufe und seiner Bischofskonsekration andere Weihen empfangen?” in Granfield and Jungmann (eds.), Kyriakon, 527–31; Corbellini, Clementina, “Sesto Petronio Probo e l'elezione episcopale di Ambrogio,” Rendiconti dell'lstituto Lombardo, Classe di Letlere, Scienze morali e storiche 109 (1975) 181–89; and Duval, Yves-Marie, “Ambroise, de son élection à sa consécration,” in Lazzati, Giuseppe, ed., Ambrosius Episcopus (2 vols.; Milan: Vita e pensiero, 1976) 2. 243–83. Cf. F. L. Ganshof, “Note sur l'élection des éveques dans l'empire romain au IVme et pendant la première moitié du Vme siècle,” Revue Internationale des droirs de l'antiquité (= Mélanges F. De Visscher 3) 4 (1950) 467–98, esp. 478–79; and Morino, Church and State.

83 Even Gibbon was to be impressed with his performance. He asserted that “t h e palm of episcopal vigor and ability was justly claimed by the intrepid Ambrose” (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [7 vols.; ed. Bury, John B.; London: Methuen, 18961900] 3. 155). More recently, Matthews has characterized Ambrose as “the complete politician” (Western Aristocracies, 186).

84 See Bloch, Herbert, “A New Document of the Last Pagan Revival in the West, 393–394 A. D,” HTR 38 (1945): “In this conflict between Ambrose and his opponents both sides comported themselves with remarkable dignity, in contrast for instance to the riots and bloodshed which accompanied the last controversy between pagans and Christians in Alexandria. The all-important reason for restraint was the stature and background of both Ambrose and the pagan leaders. They were social equals, and Ambrose held high office in the state before becoming the most eminent spokesman of the Roman Church in his time” (195). Ambrose may have felt himself to be socially a cut above his episcopal colleagues: although he scrupulously followed the traditional usages in the salutations of his letters to the emperors, he eschewed the usual complimentary addresses when he wrote to other bishops. See O'Brien, Mary Bridget, Titles of Address in Christian Latin Epislolography to 543 A.D. (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1930) 163.

85 De off. 1.4 (PL 16): raptus de tribunalibus atque administrationis infulis ad sacerdotium. Out of the context of Ambrose's life, the statement would lose force, for it was becoming a common topos. E.g., Socrates (Hist. eccl. 5.8) says that Nectarius of Constantinople was ⋯ρπασθε⋯ς ὑπ⋯ το⋯ λαο⋯; and Chrysostom (De. S. Phil. 2 [PG 48]) says that Philogonius of Antioch was ⋯κ μέσης γ⋯ρ τ⋯ς ⋯γορ⋯ς ⋯ρπασθείς..

86 “Nectarius 2,” PLRE 1; “Nectarius (4),” DCB 4; Hefele, Charles Joseph and Leclercq, Henri, Histoire des conciles d'après les documents originaux (10 vols.; Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 19071938) 2. 1–10; Piganiol, L'empire Chrétien, 240–50; and Ritter, Adolf Martin, Das Konzil von Konstantinopel und sein Symbol: Studien zur Geschichte und Theologie des II. ökumenischen Konzils (Forschungen zur Kirchen- und Dogmengeschichte 15; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1965) 111–16, 234–35. Nectarius's career, apart from his praetorship at Constantinople, is unknown. In the latter fourth century the typical praetor was twenty to twenty-five years old and from a senatorial family. See Chastagnot, “Observations,” and “Remarques,” esp. the latter at p. 355: “Enfin, la carrière des sénateurs d'Orient s'est bientot stabilisée. L'accès au Sénat se faisant par le tribunat de la plèbe, la préture est restée fixée plus haut dans le cursus honorum qu'elle ne l'était en Occident et a été obligatoirement exercée par les nouveaux membres, qui, au contraire, en étaient automatiquement dispensés à Rome.” On the praetorship at Constantinople in general, see Dagron, Constantinople, 150–54.

87 It is tempting to think that Nectarius's rank, as a counter to that of Ambrose, weighed heavily in Theodosius's decision. Ambrose, even before the disagreements over Callinicum and Thessalonica, must have been an annoyance to Theodosius. Cf. Dudden, Ambrose, 1. 206–16; and Kelly, J. N. D., Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies (London: Duckworth, 1975) 8081. Dudden conjectured that the emperor chose Nectarius, even though unbaptized, because “possibly he hoped that Nectarius would be a second Ambrose” (241). If real, the hope was vain.

88 Dagron, Constantinople, 461–63.

89 BischofsherrschafU 224–26

90 “Lupicinus 5, “PLRE 1. For Maximus's usurpation, see Matthews, Western Aristocracies, 173–82 and 223–27.

91 Dessau, /Z.S6117, 6117a, and 6117b ( = CIL XIII 921). Each has a Christian monogram.

92 Heinzelmann, Bischofsherrschaft 224–26.

93 Gaudemet, L'église, 386–87, 339–401; Griffe, Elie, Le Gauie chrétienne à l'epoque romaine (3 vols.; Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 19641966) 1. 332–40.

94 Gibbon called Nectarius's ordination “whimsical” (Decline and Fall, 3. 151 n. 47).

95 Such election of laymen was not unusual, in spite of its disfavor with church councils. See Gaudemet, L'église, 336, and Hess, Hamilton, The Canons of the Council of Serdica, A.D. 343 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1958) 103–8.

96 John F. Matthews, “The Letters of Symmachus,” in Binns (ed.), Latin Literature, 11.

97 Cf. A. H. M. Jones, “The Social Background of the Struggle between Paganism and Christianity,” in Momigliano (ed.), Conflict, 19–21; on bishops' partisan ferocity, see MacMullen, Christianization, 92–94; and on the senatorial cursus in the late fourth century, Matthews, Western Aristocracies, 1–31. Even in the late fifth century Sidonius Apollinaris, by then bishop of Clermont, preferred that his son become a consul rather than a bishop (Ep. 5.16.4 [MGH AA, 8]).

98 Brown, Peter, “St. Augustine's Attitude to Religious Coercion,” JRS 54 (1964) 265, reprinted in Religion and Society in the Age of Saint Augustine (London: Faber and Faber, 1972).

99 According to MacMullen, Ramsay, that “enormous thing called paganism … did not one day just topple over dead” (Paganism in the Roman Empire [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981] 134). Cf. Labriolle, Pierre de, La réaction paienne: étude sur la polémique antichrétienne du ler au VIe siècle (Paris: L'Artisan du Livre, 1948) 335508; Geffcken, Johannes, The Last Days of Greco-Roman Paganism (trans. Sabine G. MacCormack; Amsterdam: North Holland, 1978) 115222; and for the struggle at Rome, the heart of western senatorial paganism, Pietri, Roma Christiana, 1. 436–60. A recent look at the “complicated picture” of pagan survivals in the East is provided by Walter E. Kaegi, “The Fifth-century Twilight of Byzantine Paganism,” Classica et Medievalia 27 (1966) 243–75; and (primarily on Edessa) Drijvers, Hans, “The Persistence of Pagan Cults and Practices in Christian Syria,” in Garsoian, Nina G., Mathews, Thomas F., and Thomson, Robert W., eds., East of Byzantium: Syria and Armenia in the Formative Period (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 1982) 3543. On “traditional Hellenism in Antioch,” see Wilken, Robert L., John Chrysostom and the Jews: Rhetoric and Reality in the Late 4th Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983) 1633.

100 Wardman, Alan(Religion and Statecraft among the Romans [London: Granada, 1982] 135–74) is not so sanguine about pagan revivals in the fourth century. He thinks that “their prospects of a meaningful success were probably slender” (161). Cf. Peter Brown's assessment of Julian's prospects in his review of The Emperor Julian by Robert Browning in The Times Literary Supplement (8 April 1977) 425–26, reprinted in Society and the Holy in Late Antiquity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982) 83102.Jones, A. H. M.(The Decline of the Ancient World [New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1966]) once opined that “if after a victory over Persia, he [Julian] had enjoyed a prosperous reign of thirty years, it seems possible that he could have reached his objective” (62). Cf. MacMullen: “The inability of non-Christians to prevail in any competition with their persecutors is not clear until the opening of the fifth century” (Christianization, 119). There is much of interest in O'Donnell, James J., “The Demise of Paganism,” Traditio 35 (1979) 4588, and Armstrong, A. H., “The Way and the Ways: Religious Tolerance and Intolerance in the Fourth Century A.D.,” VC 38 (1984) 117.

101 Cf. Hanson, Richard P. C., “The Reaction of the Church to the Collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the Fifth Century,” VC 26 (1972) 272–87.

* Thanks are due to Professor Morton Smith, who read an earlier draft of this essay and made several helpful suggestions, and to Professor Paul J. Fedwick, who kindly answered a query concerning Basil of Caesarea. I am grateful also to the National Endowment for the Humanities for a summer seminar grant that enabled me to begin this work, and to California State University, Hayward, for a research grant that helped me to complete it.

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