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E07742: Gregory of Tours, in his Histories (2.21), records the presence in Clermont (central Gaul) of *Abraham (abbot at Clermont, ob. 477, S00005), in the monastery of *Quiricus (Kyrikos, child martyr of Tarsus, S00007), and refers to the book of Abraham's Life that he (Gregory) has written. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 575/594.

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posted on 23.08.2019, 00:00 by dlambert
Gregory of Tours, Histories (Historiae) 2.21

Huius tempore, cum adhuc apud urbem Arvernam Victorius, cui supra meminimus, moraretur, fuit in monasterio beati Quirici urbis ipsius abba Abraham nomine, qui fide atque operibus Abrahae illius prioris gratia refulgebat, sicut in libro vitae eius scripsimus.

'In his [Sidonius'] time, while Victorius, about whom I have already told you, was still in Clermont, there lived in the monastery of the blessed Quiricus in the same city an abbot called Abraham, who in faith and works shone with the grace of that earlier Abraham [the Old Testament Patriarch], as I have written in the book of his life.'

Text: Krusch and Levison 1951, 67. Translation: Bryan Ward-Perkins.

History

Evidence ID

E07742

Saint Name

Abraham, abbot of Clermont, ob. 476/7 : S00005 Kyrikos/Cyricus and Ioulitta/Julitta, child and his mother, martyrs of Tarsus : S00007

Saint Name in Source

Abraham Quiricus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

575

Evidence not after

594

Activity not after

477

Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Tours

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

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

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory of Tours

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - abbots

Source

Gregory of Tours wrote the Histories (Historiae) during his episcopate in Tours (573–594). They constitute the longest and most detailed historical work of the post-Roman West. Gregory's focus is Gaul under its Frankish kings, above all the territories of Tours and (to a lesser extent) Clermont, where he had been born and brought up. Much of his work tells of the years when, as bishop of an important see, he was himself centrally involved in Frankish politics. The Histories are often wrongly referred to as a History of the Franks. Although the work does contain a history of the rulers of Francia, it also includes much hagiographical material, and Gregory himself gave it the simple title the 'ten books of Histories' (decem libri historiarum), when he produced a list of his own writings (Histories 10.31). The Histories consist of ten books whose scope and contents differ considerably. Book 1 skims rapidly through world history, with biblical and secular material from the Creation to the death in AD 397 of Martin of Tours (Gregory’s hero and predecessor as bishop). It covers 5596 years. In Book 2, which covers 114 years, the focus moves firmly into Gaul, covering the years up to the death of Clovis in 511. Books 3 and 4, which cover 37 and 27 years respectively, then move fairly swiftly on, closing with the death of king Sigibert in 575. With Book 5, through to the final Book 10, the pace slows markedly, and the detail swells, with only between two and four years covered in each of the last six books, breaking off in 591. These books are organised in annual form, based on the regnal years of Childebert II (r. 575-595/6). There continues to be much discussion over when precisely Gregory wrote specific parts of the Histories, though there is general agreement that none of it was written before 575 and, of course, none of it after Gregory's death, which is believed to have occurred in 594. Essentially, scholars are divided over whether Gregory wrote the Histories sequentially as the years from 575 unfolded, with little or no revision thereafter, or whether he composed the whole work over the space of a few years shortly before his death and after 585 (see Murray 2015 for the arguments on both sides). For an understanding of the political history of the time, and Gregory's attitude to it, precisely when the various books were written is of great importance; but for what he wrote about the saints, the precise date of composition is of little significance, because Gregory's attitude to saints, their relics and their miracles did not change significantly during his writing-life. We have therefore chosen to date Gregory's writing of our entries only within the broadest possible parameters: with a terminus post quem of 575 for the early books of the Histories, and thereafter the year of the events described, and a terminus ante quem of 594, set by Gregory's death. (Bryan Ward-Perkins, David Lambert) For general discussions of the Histories see: Goffart, W., The Narrators of Barbarian History (A.D. 550–800): Jordanes, Gregory of Tours, Bede, and Paul the Deacon (Princeton, 1988), 119–127. Murray, A.C., "The Composition of the Histories of Gregory of Tours and Its Bearing on the Political Narrative," in: A.C. Murray (ed.), A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Leiden and Boston, 2015), 63–101. Pizarro, J.M., "Gregory of Tours and the Literary Imagination: Genre, Narrative Style, Sources, and Models in the Histories," in: Murray, A Companion to Gregory of Tours, 337–374.

Discussion

Abraham (PCBE 4, 'Abraham 1') died in 477, as can be established from a letter by Sidonius Apollinaris, which is the main source of Gregory's information here: see E06751. Victorius was count of the city (PCBE 4, 'Victorius 5'). The book of Abraham's life, here referred to, is Gregory's brief Life of Abraham, book 3 of Gregory's Life of the Fathers (see E00005).

Bibliography

Edition: Krusch, B., and Levison, W., Gregorii episcopi Turonensis Libri historiarum X (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum I.1; 2nd ed.; Hannover, 1951). Translation: Thorpe, L., Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks (Penguin Classics; London, 1974). Further reading: Murray, A.C., "The Composition of the Histories of Gregory of Tours and Its Bearing on the Political Narrative", in: A.C. Murray (ed.), A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Leiden-Boston 2015), 63-101. Vieillard-Troiekouroff, M., Les monuments religieux de la Gaule d'après les œuvres de Grégoire de Tours (Paris, 1976).

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