Sidonius Apollinaris

From Academic Kids

Gaius Sollius Modestus Sidonius Apollinaris (ca 430 - after 489), poet, diplomat, bishop, is "the single most important surviving author from fifth-century Gaul" according to Eric Goldberg (see link). He was Urban Prefect of Rome in 470 and after his career in Imperial service, he was appointed bishop of Clermont in the Auvergne (now Clermont-Ferrand) afterwards until his death. Most of the previous holders of the benefice have been made saints in the Roman Catholic Church, including his recent predecessor, St Namatius (bishop 446-62), who laid the foundations of a proper cathedral. Sidonius Apollinaris was not a religious man; his election was probably due more to his influential contacts, and his tireless efforts on preserving his corner of Gaul for the Roman Empire.

Sidonius was a major Gallo-Roman aristocrat, whose life and friendships put him in the center of 5th century Roman affairs. He married Papianilla, daughter of Avitus who was later Roman Emperor. Sidonius was also acquainted with the Arian Visigothic kings who ruled during his lifetime. Some, like Theodoric II, he was on good terms with; others, like Euric, who was given the Auvergne in 475, after a siege of Clermont, had him imprisoned for his pro-Roman views.

Sidonius' writings are an invaluable source of information for events and attitudes during his adult lifetime. There are about a hundred letters. He wrote several panegyrics, after the fashion of Claudian, 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, 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, part of Sidonius' efforts to be appointed Urban Prefect of Rome. A letter of Sidonius's addressed to Riothamus, King of the Bretons (~460) is of particular interest, since it provides significant evidence that a King or leader with power was existent in the historical time frame of King Arthur.

Sidonius' relations have been traced over several generations, from his paternal grandfather's time in the narrative of a family's fortunes from prominence in late Roman time into subsequent decline in the 6th century under the Franks.

External link

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