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IMC 2015: Sessions

Session 1301: Epistolography and Power

Wednesday 8 July 2015, 16.30-18.00

Moderator/Chair:Danuta Shanzer, Institut für Klassische Philologie, Mittel- und Neulatein, Universität Wien
Paper 1301-aBegging for Power: Jerome's Quest for Ecclesiastical Influence through the Pocketbooks of Rich Benefactors
(Language: English)
Philip Polcar, Institut für Klassische Philologie, Mittel- und Neulatein, Universität Wien
Index terms: Language and Literature - Latin, Monasticism, Religious Life
Paper 1301-bThe Power of/or Authority: The Role of Bishop's Authority in the Affair of the Jew Licinius
(Language: English)
Przemysław Nehring, Katedra Filologii Klasycznej, Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika, Toruń
Index terms: Daily Life, Economics - Rural, Law, Religious Life
Paper 1301-cThe Worlds of Desiderius of Cahors
(Language: English)
George Woudhuysen, All Souls College, University of Oxford
Index terms: Ecclesiastical History, Hagiography

Paper -a:
In the late 4th century the church was still in the process of self-invention. The battle concerning orthodoxy was fought by various learned clerics who circulated their own teachings on 'proper' beliefs. One proponent of this struggle was the fiery ascetic, Jerome of Stridon. This intellectual eventually found himself entrenched in the battle for ecclesiastical influence and power. Although he was a descendent from a prosperous family, he lived as a poor monk in a coenobitic community. His undertakings were financed by his own patrimonia and his de facto 'common law wife' Paula, but also by anyone else whom he could persuade to donate money. In order to reach this goal, Jerome proclaimed a particular exegesis of the Bible strategically aimed at the richest of the empire. In this exegesis, the notion that rich people stood a slim chance of entering heaven was highlighted. However, a form of ancient clientela was offered as a solution: the rich should give their wealth to the poor – not to beggars, but to the pauperes sancti, who in return could help their rich benefactors be accepted into the kingdom of heaven. Naturally, these pauperes sancti included Jerome.

In my paper I will study cases of Jerome’s attempts to get money from rich people. Who did he ask? What rhetorical strategies did he employ? How did they react? Was he successful? From my observations I will present you with a “new brand concept” developed by Jerome, who appears not only to be a monk and writer, but also a self-made manager.

Paper -b:
In this paper I will discuss the problem of episcopal authority and power underlying the case of the Jew Licinius described in Augustine's Letter 8*. Victor, a bishop, had exercised his power to evict Licinius from his lawfull-owned property. Licinius asked Augustine, bishop of Hippo, acknowledging Augustine's authority and reliant on his power, to intercede for him in this matter. Augustine took the Jew Licinius's side, but at the same time tried to protect Victor's episcopal authority. He charged his fellow bishop with the task of judging the internal conflict in the Jewish family of Licinius, passing a sentence and supervising the enforcement of an appropriate penalty imposed on the individual guilty of the offence against Licinius' mother.

Paper -c:
Desiderius, a mid-7th century bishop of Cahors, managed with aplomb the contradictions of a career between court and country, and of a life of private wealth and personal poverty. The rich documentation provided by his Life and a collection of surviving letters shows us in all their brilliance the diverse spheres - of the Church, of royal service, of local predominance - in which he moved. This paper reconsiders his family background, his career at court, and his episcopate, and uses those to think about political and aristocratic life in the Frankish world.