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E06068: Gennadius of Marseille, in his De viris illustribus ('On distinguished men'), written in Latin at Marseille (southern Gaul) c. 468, mentions that Sulpicius Severus wrote works recording the life and miracles of *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050).

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posted on 31.07.2018, 00:00 by dlambert
Gennadius, De viris illustribus 19

Gennadius begins his entry on Sulpicius Severus by mentioning his adoption of voluntary poverty, and the fact that he had been a friend of Martin of Tours and Paulinus of Nola. He then lists his literary works, starting with his letters and his chronicle, then moving onto his works on Martin:

Scripsit et ad multorum profectum Vitam beati Martini, monachi et episcopi, signis et prodigiis ac virtutibus inlustris viri, et Conlationem Postumiani et Galli se mediante et iudice de conversatione monachorum Orientalium et ipsius Martini habitam in dialogi speciem duabus incisionibus conprehendit.

'He also wrote, to the profit of many, The Life of the Blessed Martin, monk and bishop, with the signs and prodigies and miracles of the illustrious man, and The Dialogue of Postumianus and Gallus, with himself mediating and acting as judge of the way of life of the eastern monks and of Martin himself, he arranged in the form of a dialogue in two sections.'

Text: Richardson 1896. Translation: David Lambert.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Martin, ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397 : S00050

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Marseille Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts


Gennadius was a presbyter at Marseille in southern Gaul, active as a writer from approximately the 460s to the 490s. His main surviving work, De viris illustribus ('On distinguished men', CPL 957) provides short descriptions of the works of Christian writers, together with minimal biographical detail. It is a continuation of Jerome's work of the same name.


The description of the Collatio Postumiani et Galli as being written 'in the form of a dialogue' (speciem dialogi ) comes from Sulpicius himself (Dialogues 3.6.5). The reference to the Dialogues as being in two books reflects the ancient division of the text: the current division into three books dates from the Carolingian era (Fontaine 2006, 19).


Edition: Richardson, E.C., Hieronymus, Liber de viris inlustribus. Gennadius, Liber de viris inlustribus (Texte und Untersuchungen 14/1; Leipzig, 1896). Further reading: Czapla, B., Gennadius als Literaturhistoriker (Münster, 1898). Fontaine, J., Sulpice Sévère, Gallus. Dialogues sur les «vertus» de saint Martin (Sources chrétiennes 510; Paris, 2006).

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