Saint NamePeter the Apostle : S00036
Paul, the Apostle : S00008
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Letters
Evidence not before467
Evidence not after470
Activity not before467
Activity not after467
Place of Evidence - RegionGaul and Frankish kingdoms
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcClermont
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Clermont
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsVisiting graves and shrines
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - bishops
SourceSidonius Apollinaris was born at Lyons about 430, into a senatorial family. He witnessed the decay of the Roman Empire in the West and met or corresponded with many important people of his times. He passed through the regular courses in grammar, literature, rhetoric, philosophy and law in his native city, and his works – Poems and Letters – reflect his academic training. He wrote poetry from his early years. Until his election as bishop of Clermont in 469 or 470, Sidonius had a career in secular politics. He resided in Clermont till his death, perhaps in 489.
Sidonius' Letters consist of nine books, containing 149 letters addressed to about a hundred correspondents, including officials and bishops. He started preparing his Letters for publication probably about 469, though this date is hypothetical. Books 1-7 were published in about 477, Book 8 in about 480, and Book 9 in about 482. The collection starts with an introductory letter, in which Sidonius dedicated the work to his friend Constantius (PCBE 4, 'Constantius 3'), a priest of Lyon who was also a writer, notably of the Life of *Germanus of Auxerre (E05841). Originally, Book 7 was the intended end, as its last letter, also dedicated to Constantius, states. However more of Sidonius’ friends wished to be represented in the collection. Book 8 was compiled at the instance of Petronius, a jurisconsult of Arles and lover of letters (PCBE 4, 'Petronius 3'), and Book 9 was requested by Firminus, a learned man of Arles (PCBE 4, 'Firminus 1).
Sidonius revised his letters before publication and added several specially composed on this occasion. His chief model was Pliny, who also wrote nine books of letters. They are not arranged in chronological order, though in broad terms those in the earlier books are earlier than those in the later ones, with the letters in Books 1 and 2 dating from before Sidonius’ election as bishop in 469/470. The Letters are a major source of information about many aspects of the civil and ecclesiastical life of Sidonius’ time.
For more on Sidonius' biography, his works, and their dating see PCBE 4, 'Sidonius 1', as well as works below, such as Harries 1994, and Mathisen 2013.
DiscussionLetter 1.5 is dedicated to Heronius (Herenius), who is known only from two letters of Sidonius (1.5 and 1.9). The letter was written in AD 467 (Dalton 1915). For Heronius, see PCBE 4: 'Herenius', p. 979.
The churches of Peter on the Vatican and Paul on the Via Ostiensis were outside the city walls of Rome.
BibliographyEditions and translations:
Anderson, W.B., Sidonius, Poems. Letters. 2 vols (Loeb Classical Library 296, 420; Cambridge MA/London, 1936, 1965).
Loyen, A., Sidoine Apollinaire, Poèmes (Paris, 1960); Lettres. 2 vols. (Paris, 1970).
Dalton. O.M., The Letters of Sidonius. 2 vols. (Oxford, 1915).
Harries, J., Sidonius Apollinaris and the Fall of Rome (Oxford, 1994).
Mathisen, R.W., "Dating the Letters of Sidonius," in: J. van Waarden and G. Kelly (eds.), New Approaches to Sidonius Apollinaris (Leuven, 2013), 221-248.
Pietri, L., and Heijmans, M. (eds.), Prosopographie chrétienne du Bas-Empire, 4: Prosopographie de la Gaule chrétienne (314-614). 2 vols. (Paris, 2013). (= PCBE)