Author: custos

Mondin on Epigram

Luca Mondin has contributed a chapter on late Latin epigrams to Christer Henriksén (ed.), A Companion to Ancient Epigram, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2019.

“This chapter focuses on the late antique Latin epigrams of secular inspiration composed between the third and fifth century ce. It examines the repertoire and authors that have reached us (Carmina XII sapientum, Ausonius, Epigrammata Bobiensia, Claudian, Sidonius Apollinaris, Ennodius) and illustrates the modes of circulation of epigrams, including the use of collections and different literary contexts.”

The Catalogue of Carm. 9

Claudia Schindler writes about the catalogue of poets in Carm. 9 as compared to similar catalogues in Ovid and Manilius: ‘Macht und Übermacht der Tradition. Dichterkataloge in der lateinischen Literatur von Ovid bis Sidonius’. More in Bibliography 2018.

Catalogues introducing poets and their works are widespread in Roman literature. By mentioning a poetic predecessor the author of the catalogue places himself in the respective literary tradition. My contribution analyses three poetic catalogues from the Early Empire (Ov. Am. 1.15 and Manil. 2.1-52) and Late Antiquity (Sidon. Carm. 9) with a focus on the role of the self-referential author. The study shows that the (youthful) first person narrator of Ovid’s Amores is very confident in his own poetic ability and thus his position among his literary predecessors. The purpose of the catalogue is twofold: the author attempts to highlight his own poetic prowess and argues for poetic immortality in a long line of meticulous scientific arguments. Manilius, on the other hand, justifies his claim to be the first astronomical-astrological poet by highlighting the novelty of his own poetic concept in comparison to the literary tradition. He demonstrates that his originality derives not so much from his choice of material, but the method employed and his capable intellectual penetration of the subject matter. The late antique poet Sidonius Apollinaris designs his catalogue as recusatio, and explicitly distances himself from the literary tradition, which the first-person narrator perceives to be overwhelming and suppressive. The conflict between the self-fashioning and the highly learned poetry of Sidonius creates a paradox, which the recipient is challenged to identify. The three catalogues studied here represent a paradigm shift that transforms the literary tradition from an opportunity in Ovid and Manilius to an overpowering, incontestable concept in Sidonius, with which he nonetheless copes in his poetry.

Epistles from Cicero to Sidonius

In a themed issue on Latin epistolography in honour of Eleanor Leach, Peter White writes on ‘Senatorial Epistolography from Cicero to Sidonius: Emergence of a Genre’, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 61 (2018) 7-21.
Abstract. Although Cicero’s letter collections were known and read throughout antiquity, traces of his influence
on the style of later letter writers and on the organization of their epistolary collections seem to diminish steadily.
What remains constant in the extant collections of Cicero, Pliny, Fronto, Symmachus, and Sidonius is the large
number of correspondents represented, the preponderance of letters from the period of the writer’s highest prestige,
and the subject matter of the letters published, which highlights the familial and wider social connections of the
writers and their political, financial, and literary interests. All five collections project the ethos and values of a
senatorial class.

Noël Duval Has Died

The distinguished French archaeologist Noël Duval has died. Born in 1929, he was a professor at Paris-Sorbonne University where he taught Late Antiquity and Byzantine Art. A defining personality in French archaeology for decades, he will be remembered, among much else, for his three-volume Les premiers monuments chrétiens de la France.

Obituary by the President of the Association pour l’Antiquité Tardive:

“Chers amis,

C’est avec beaucoup d’émotion et une très grande tristesse que je dois vous annoncer le décès de notre président d’honneur, Noël Duval, gravement malade depuis plusieurs années, survenu mercredi matin. Vous savez le rôle qu’il a joué dans la fondation de notre association et de la revue, deux entreprises qui lui tenaient profondément à coeur, la place éminente qu’il a tenue au sein de la communauté scientifique et son inlassable activité au service de l’archéologie de l’antiquité tardive, en Afrique du nord tout particulièrement. Même si nous ne le voyions plus parmi nous depuis longtemps, sa disparition nous touche profondément. Ses travaux stimuleront longtemps encore encore la réflexion scientifique. L’Association lui doit beaucoup et lui rendra hommage.

François Baratte

Hendrik Hess Doctorate

Hendrik Hess has taken his doctorate at the University of Bonn with a thesis about the self-concept of the Gallo-Roman elite. The book is to be published next year as “Das Selbstverständnis der gallo-römischen Oberschicht im historischen Diskursraum von Sidonius Apollinaris bis Gregor von Tours. Übergang, Hybridität, Latenz“ as one of the Ergänzungsbände zum Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde.

Die Studie fragt nach dem Selbstverständnis der gallo-römischen Oberschicht in der zweiten Hälfte des 5. bis zum Ende des 6. Jahrhunderts. In dieser Zeit der Neuordnung Galliens zwischen Imperium Romanum und der Bildung der Reiche der Visigoten, Burgunder und Franken gingen alte Gewissheiten verloren und neue entstanden, die Verfügungsmacht über materielle und immaterielle Ressourcen wechselte, Vorstellungen und Wahrnehmungsmuster änderten sich. Diese Dynamik spiegelt sich auch in der Veränderung des kulturellen, sozialen und politischen Wissens über die eigene gesellschaftliche Gruppe wieder. Die römische Oberschicht Galliens erscheint trotz der Umwälzungen jedoch keineswegs rückwärtsgewandt oder konservativ. Vielmehr zeigten sich schon die epistolographischen Übergangsrömer des 5. Jahrhunderts pragmatisch in Bezug auf ihr Selbstverständnis, das im Verlauf der Untersuchungszeit hybride Formen annahm und schließlich lediglich latent weiterexistierte.

Doctorate Alison John

Alison John has completed her doctorate at the University of Edinburgh (supervisors Gavin Kelly and Lucy Grig) and will graduate this November. Her thesis, Learning and Power: A Cultural History of Education in Late Antique Gaul engaged with Sidonius and his world, and considered his perceptions of the changes taking place around him.



This thesis examines the shifting practices and attitudes toward classical education in late antique Gaul, with a focus on the fourth to early sixth centuries. Throughout this period Gallo-Romans witnessed political, economic, and cultural upheavals, and the eventual disappearance of Roman political power in Gaul. John explores the role traditional literary schools of grammar and rhetoric played in the politics and society of late antique Gaul, and the changing value of such educational pursuits among Gallo-Roman aristocrats throughout this period. Since literary education had long been a central part of elite Roman identity, examining the ways that Gallo-Roman aristocrats participated in and patronized education amid the shifting political, cultural, and religious contexts of the period can help us to understand the overall transformations of the late antique west.

John offers a fresh interpretation of the history of the classical schools of grammar and rhetoric in Gaul. Its analysis shows how the eventual decline of classical schools in Gaul is linked indirectly to changes in political structures and the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century. John argues that without the superstructure of the Roman empire, classical education could not survive indefinitely. Throughout late antiquity and in post-imperial Gaul, although neither the barbarian kingdoms nor the Church directly caused the decline of classical schools, these new structures of power that replaced the unified empire did not encourage or support a cultural and political climate in which grammatical and rhetorical training was valued. Such political changes transformed the perceptions of the value and role of classical education and resulted in the eventual end of the schools of grammar and rhetoric in Gaul.