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Gaius Sollius Modestus Apollinaris Sidonius, better known as Sidonius Apollinaris (5 November of an unknown year, 430 – 481/490 AD), was a
poet A poet is a person who creates poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, soun ...

poet
,
diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
, and
bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Moravian Chu ...

bishop
. Sidonius is "the single most important surviving author from fifth-century Gaul" according to Eric Goldberg. He was one of four
Gallo-Roman Gallo-Roman culture was a consequence of the Romanization (cultural), Romanization of Gauls, Gaulish peoples under the rule of the Roman Empire. It was characterized by the Gaulish adoption or adaptation of Roman culture, Roman culture, languag ...
aristocrats of the fifth- to sixth-century whose letters survive in quantity; the others are
Ruricius Ruricius I (c. 440c. 510) was a Gallo-Roman aristocrat and bishop of Limoges from c. 485 to 510. He is one of the writers whose letters survive from late Roman Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the ...
,
bishop of Limoges The Roman Catholic Diocese of Limoges (Latin: ''Dioecesis Lemovicensis''; French language, French: ''Diocèse de Limoges'') is a diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in France. The diocese comprises the ''départment in France, ...
(died 507), Alcimus Ecdicius Avitus,
bishop of Vienne The Archbishopric of Vienne, named after its episcopal see Vienne in the Isère département of southern France, was a metropolitan Roman Catholic Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civiliza ...
(died 518) and
Magnus Felix Ennodius Magnus Felix Ennodius (473 or 47417 July 521 AD) was Bishop of Pavia in 514, and a Latin rhetorician and poet. He was one of four Gallo-Roman aristocrats of the fifth to sixth-century whose letters survive in quantity: the others are Sidonius Ap ...
of Arles, bishop of Ticinum (died 534). All of them were linked in the tightly bound aristocratic
Gallo-Roman Gallo-Roman culture was a consequence of the Romanization (cultural), Romanization of Gauls, Gaulish peoples under the rule of the Roman Empire. It was characterized by the Gaulish adoption or adaptation of Roman culture, Roman culture, languag ...
network that provided the bishops of Catholic Gaul. His feast day is 21 August.


Life

Sidonius was born in
Lugdunum Colonia Copia Claudia Augusta Lugdunum (; modern Lyon Lyon or Lyons (, , ; frp, Liyon, ) is the third-largest city and second-largest urban area of France. It is located at the confluence of the rivers Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german ...
(
Lyon Lyon or Lyons (, , ; frp, Liyon, ) is the third-largest city and second-largest urban area of France. It is located at the confluence of the rivers Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, Rodano ; frp, Rôno ; oc, ...

Lyon
). His father (anonymous) was
Prefect Prefect (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...

Prefect
of
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rat ...

Gaul
under
Valentinian III Valentinian III ( la, Placidus Valentinianus; 2 July 41916 March 455) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a var ...
; he recalls with pride being present with his father at the installation of Astyrius as
consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the powe ...
for the year 449. Sidonius' grandfather was
Praetorian Prefect The praetorian prefect ( la, praefectus praetorio, el, ) was a high office in the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Repub ...
of
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rat ...

Gaul
sometime prior to 409 and a friend of his successor
Decimus Rusticus Decimus Rusticus (sometimes Rusticus Decimus) of Treves (then ''Augusta Treverorum'') and Lyon (''Lugdunum'') (c. 370 – before 423) was a Master of the Offices and the praetorian prefecture of Gaul, praetorian prefect of Gaul between 409 and 4 ...
. Sidonius may be a descendant of another Apollinaris who was Prefect of Gaul under Constantine II between 337 and 340. Sidonius married Papianilla, the daughter of Emperor
Avitus Eparchius Avitus (c. 390 – 457) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was ...
, around 452. This union produced one son, Apollinaris, and at least two daughters: Sidonius mentions in his letters Severina and Roscia, but a third, Alcima, is only mentioned much later by
Gregory of Tours Gregory of Tours (30 November 538 – 17 November 594 AD) was a Gallo-Roman Gallo-Roman culture was a consequence of the Romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of langu ...
, and
Theodor Mommsen Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen (; 30 November 1817 – 1 November 1903) was a German classical scholar Classics or classical studies is the study of classical antiquity, and in the Western world traditionally refers to the study of Anci ...

Theodor Mommsen
has speculated that Alcima may be another name for one of his other daughters. His known acquaintances include bishop
Faustus of Riez Saint Faustus of Riez was an early Bishop of Riez The former French Catholic diocese of Riez existed at least from fifth century Gaul to the French Revolution. Its see was at Riez, in the modern department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. History Ac ...
and his theological adversary
Claudianus Mamertus Claudianus Ecdidius Mamertus (died c. 473 AD) was a Gallo-Roman Gallo-Roman culture was a consequence of the Romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language ...
; his life and friendships put him in the center of 5th-century Roman affairs. In 457
Majorian Julius Valerius Majorian ( la, Julius Valerius Maiorianus, italic=no; c. 420 – 7 August 461) was the western Roman emperor from 457 to 461. A prominent general of the Roman army, Majorian deposed Emperor Avitus in 457 and succeeded him. Majoria ...
deprived Avitus of the empire and seized the city of Lyons; Sidonius fell into his hands. However, the reputation of Sidonius's learning led Majorian to treat him with the greatest respect. In return Sidonius composed a panegyric in his honour (as he had previously done for Avitus), which won for him a statue at Rome and the title of ''
comes ''Comes'' ( ), plural ''comites'' ( ), is the Latin word for "companion", either individually or as a member of a collective denominated a "''comitatus ''Comitatus'' was in ancient times the Latin term for an armed escort or retinue. The term is ...
''. In 467 or 468 the emperor
Anthemius Procopius Anthemius (; – 11 July 472) was western Roman emperor from 467 to 472. Perhaps the last capable Western Roman Emperor, Anthemius attempted to solve the two primary military challenges facing the remains of the Western Roman Empire ...

Anthemius
rewarded him for the panegyric which he had written in honour of him by raising him to the post of Urban Prefect of Rome, which he held until 469, and afterwards to the dignity of
Patrician Patrician may refer to: * Patrician (ancient Rome), the original aristocratic families of ancient Rome, and a synonym for "aristocratic" in modern English usage * Patrician (post-Roman Europe), the governing elites of cities in parts of medieval a ...
and
Senator A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislature. The name comes from the Ancient Rome, ancient Roman Senate (Latin: ''Senatus''), so-called as an assembly of the senior (Lat ...
. In 470 or 472, he was elected to succeed Eparchius in the bishopric of Averna (Clermont). When the Goths captured Clermont in 474 he was imprisoned, as he had taken an active part in its defense; but he was afterwards released from captivity by
Euric Euric (Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes **Gothic language, an extinct East Germanic language spoken by the Goths **Crimean Gothic, the Gothic l ...
, king of the Goths, and continued to shepherd his flock as he had done before; he did so until his death. Sidonius's relations have been traced over several generations as a narrative of a family's fortunes, from the prominence of his paternal grandfather's time into later decline in the 6th century under the
Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the and the , on the edge of the . Later the term was associated with Germanic dynasties within the ...

Franks
. Sidonius's son Apollinaris, who was a correspondent of
Ruricius Ruricius I (c. 440c. 510) was a Gallo-Roman aristocrat and bishop of Limoges from c. 485 to 510. He is one of the writers whose letters survive from late Roman Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the ...
of
Limoges Limoges (, , ; oc, Lemòtges, locally ) is a city and Communes of France, commune, is the prefecture of the Haute-Vienne Departments of France, department and was the administrative capital of the former Limousin region in west-central France. ...
, commanded a unit raised in
Auvergne Auvergne (; ; oc, label=Occitan Occitan (; oc, occitan, link=no ,), also known as ''lenga d'òc'' (; french: langue d'oc) by its native speakers, is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, a ...
on the losing side of the decisive
Battle of Vouille A battle is an occurrence of combat in warfare between opposing military units of any number or size. A war usually consists of multiple battles. In general, a battle is a military engagement that is well defined in duration, area, and force ...
, and also was bishop of Clermont for four months until he died. Sidonius's grandson Arcadius, on hearing a rumor that the Frankish king
Theuderic I __NOTOC__ Theuderic I (c. 485 – 533/4) was the Merovingian The Merovingian dynasty () was the ruling family of the Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, ...
had died, betrayed Clermont to
Childebert I Childebert I (c. 496 – 13 December 558) was a Frankish King The Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the and the ...

Childebert I
, only to abandon his wife and mother when Theuderic appeared; his other appearance in the history of Gregory of Tours is as a servant of king Childebert. Sidonius was still living in 481. He was dead before 490, when his successor as bishop, Aprunculus, died. His date of death was 21 or 23 August.


Works

His extant works are his ''
Panegyric A panegyric ( or ) is a formal public speech, or (in later use) written verse, delivered in high praise of a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness ...
s'' on different emperors (in which he draws largely upon
Statius Publius Papinius Statius (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population i ...
,
Ausonius Decimus ''or'' Decimius Magnus Ausonius (; – c. 395) was a Roman poet and teacher A teacher, also called a schoolteacher or formally an educator, is a person who helps student A student is primarily a person enrolled in a sc ...

Ausonius
and
Claudian Claudius Claudianus, known in English as Claudian (; c. 370 – c. 404 AD), was a Latin poet associated with the court of the Roman emperor Honorius at Mediolanum Mediolanum, the ancient city where Milan Milan (, , Milanese: ; it, Milan ...
), which document several important political events. Carmen 7 is a panegyric to his father-in-law Avitus on his inauguration as emperor. Carmen 5 is a panegyric to
Majorian Julius Valerius Majorian ( la, Julius Valerius Maiorianus, italic=no; c. 420 – 7 August 461) was the western Roman emperor from 457 to 461. A prominent general of the Roman army, Majorian deposed Emperor Avitus in 457 and succeeded him. Majoria ...
, which offers evidence that Sidonius was able to overcome the natural suspicion and hostility towards the man who was responsible for the death of his father-in-law. Carmen 2 is a panegyric to the emperor
Anthemius Procopius Anthemius (; – 11 July 472) was western Roman emperor from 467 to 472. Perhaps the last capable Western Roman Emperor, Anthemius attempted to solve the two primary military challenges facing the remains of the Western Roman Empire ...

Anthemius
, part of Sidonius' efforts to be appointed Urban Prefect of Rome; several samples of
occasional verse Occasional poetry is poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in ...
; and nine books of ''Letters'', about which W.B. Anderson notes, "Whatever one may think about their style and diction, the letters of Sidonius are an invaluable source of information on many aspects of the life of his time." While very stilted in diction, these ''Letters'' reveal Sidonius as a man of genial temper, fond of good living and of pleasure. A letter of Sidonius's addressed to
Riothamus Riothamus (also spelled Riutimus or Riotimus) was a Romano-British military leader, who was active circa AD 470. He fought against the Goths The Goths ( got, 𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌸𐌹𐌿𐌳𐌰, translit=''Gutþiuda''; la, Gothi) were a Germanic ...
, "King of the Brittones" (c. 470) is of particular interest, since it provides evidence that a king or military leader with ties to Britain lived around the time frame of
King Arthur King Arthur ( cy, Brenin Arthur, kw, Arthur Gernow, br, Roue Arzhur) was a Legend, legendary Celtic Britons, British leader who, according to Historians in England during the Middle Ages, medieval histories and Romance (heroic literature), ...

King Arthur
. The best edition is that in the ''
Monumenta Germaniae Historica The ''Monumenta Germaniae Historica'' (MGH) is a comprehensive series of carefully edited and published primary source In the study of history History (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece ...

Monumenta Germaniae Historica
'' (Berlin, 1887), which gives a survey of the manuscripts. An English translation of his poetry and letters by W.B. Anderson, with accompanying Latin text, have been published by the
Loeb Classical Library The Loeb Classical Library (LCL; named after James Loeb; , ) is a series of books, originally published by Heinemann_(publisher), Heinemann in London, UK, today by Harvard University Press, US, which presents important works of ancient Greek l ...

Loeb Classical Library
(volume 1, containing his poems and books 1-2 of his letters, 1939; remainder of letters, 1965). Among his lost works, is the one on
Apollonius of Tyana Apollonius of Tyana ( grc, Ἀπολλώνιος ὁ Τυανεύς; c. 3 BC – c. 97 AD), sometimes also called Apollonios of Tyana, was a Greeks, Greek Neopythagoreanism, Neopythagorean Ancient Greek philosophy, philosopher ...

Apollonius of Tyana
.
Gregory of Tours Gregory of Tours (30 November 538 – 17 November 594 AD) was a Gallo-Roman Gallo-Roman culture was a consequence of the Romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of langu ...
speaks of Sidonius as a man who could celebrate
Mass Mass is the quantity Quantity is a property that can exist as a multitude or magnitude, which illustrate discontinuity and continuity. Quantities can be compared in terms of "more", "less", or "equal", or by assigning a numerical value ...
from memory (without a
sacramentary In the Latin Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Catholics Catholic Church by co ...
) and give unprepared speeches without any hesitation.Gregory of Tours, 2.22


Notes


Sources and further reading

* C.E. Stevens, ''Sidonius Apollinaris and his Age''. Oxford: University Press, 1933. *K.F. Stroheker. ''Der senatorische Adel im spätantiken Gallien.'' Tübingen, 1948. * Nora Chadwick, ''Poetry and Letters in Early Christian Gaul'' London: Bowes and Bowes, 1955. * * * * Sigrid Mratschek, "Identitätsstiftung aus der Vergangenheit: Zum Diskurs über die trajanische Bildungskultur im Kreis des Sidonius Apollinaris", in Therese Fuhrer (hg), ''Die christlich-philosophischen Diskurse der Spätantike: Texte, Personen, Institutionen: Akten der Tagung vom 22.-25. Februar 2006 am Zentrum für Antike und Moderne der Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freibur''g (Stuttgart, Franz Steiner Verlag, 2008) (Philosophie der Antike, 28), * Johannes A. van Waarden and Gavin Kelly (eds), ''New Approaches to Sidonius Apollinaris, with Indices on Helga Köhler, C. Sollius Apollinaris Sidonius: Briefe Buch I''. Leuven: Peeters, 2013. *M. P. Hanaghan,
Reading Sidonius' Epistles
', Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019. *Gavin Kelly and Joop van Waarden (eds),

', Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2020.


External links



Lynn Harry Nelson.

O. M. Dalton (1915)
Complete English translation of the Letters of Sidonius Apollinaris
O. M. Dalton (1915)
Sidonius Apollinaris, dedicated site, with bibliography and complete Latin text of the correspondence and the poetry
maintained by Joop van Waarden since 2003, frequently updated

* * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Sidonius Apollinaris Bishops of Clermont Latin letter writers 5th-century Roman poets People from Lugdunum Urban prefects of Rome 5th-century Latin writers 5th-century bishops in Gaul 5th-century Christian saints 430 births 480s deaths Occasional poets