Category: Blogpost

New Portrait of Sidonius Discovered

A new portrait of Sidonius has come to light. Quite unexpectedly, on the eve of the Feast of St Nicholas of Myra, 5 December, a delicately crafted portrait bust of the Clermontese Saint made its appearence. Its pained expression probably points to the second, tormented phase of the bishop’s life, as Writing to Survive was the only coping strategy left to him. Further research is needed to assess the date and provenance of this fragile, papier-mâché artifact. This find considerably extends the range of visual testimonies to Sidonius’ reception, hitherto practically limited to the artworks preserved in the Prefecture in Lyon.

Full disclosure:
On the eve of the Feast of St Nicholas of Myra, 5 December, Dutch families traditionally gather to celebrate the ‘Goedheiligman’ by anonymously exchanging presents provided with teasing poems, while singing songs, eating seasonal cookies and drinking ‘bisschopswijn’. One present for each family member has to be special. It’s called a ‘surprise’, hiding a simple gift in an elaborate (if ephemeral) casing that represents a characteristic of the person concerned.

My artistically gifted granddaughter Elin (it appeared) was behind the portrait bust of Sidonius. I can’t resist showing it to everybody else who has a weak spot for poor old Sollius. Coming to think of it, it is a piece of popular reception of the Saint, and in no way inferior to those other portraits, the high-brow ones in the Provincial Prefecture in Lyon.

Joop van Waarden, 5 December 2023.

Sidonius Apollinaris 2023 by Elin van Waarden (Instagram @elinvanwaarden)

Sidonius Talking to Ambrose and Bust of Sidonius in Lyon

For other portrayals of Sidonius, see the Gallery page.

Kelly on Sidonius in England

Gavin Kelly wrote a blogpost on the manuscript transmission of Sidonius in England, following up on a tweet concerning the Durham Bible of William of St Calais (1096 CE) and the list of manuscripts it contains, which mentions a copy of Sidonius’ ‘panegyrics’ among others (see also on this website). William’s Sidonius manuscript is a typically English representative of manuscripts containing Sidonius’ poems without the letters.

On 5 February ‘Ennius’ (@Red_Loeb) shared an image from a Durham manuscript, Cathedral Library A.II.4, the bible of William of St Calais, bishop of Durham, from AD 1096. This bible is said to originate in Normandy, like its owner. On f. 1v there is a list of the books that the bishop gifted to the library. In a retweet, my friend and colleague Justin Stover (‘Transmission of the Latin Classics’ = @OxGTLC), pointed out that it contained references to the works of Justin and Sidonius. Sure enough, two thirds of the way down you can see a paragraphus sign (¶) followed by Sidonius Sollius Panigericus. …
Read on here

Fritz Kretschmer and His Lost Sidonius Index

A hitherto unknown name must be added to the pantheon of Sidonius scholars: Fritz Kretschmer. In the 1930s, Fritz Kretschmer, a Classicist and Romanist, pupil of Norden and Wilamowitz, composed the first-ever word index of Sidonius’ oeuvre. It got lost.

His biography which is as unexpected as it is tragic takes us from Berlin to Shanghai and on to San Francisco. An academic education in Berlin, the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the ghetto of Shanghai, a new start in the United States and the sudden death of Illinois professor William Oldfather mark a career that was defined by loss and hardship.

Were it not for the brutalities of the war and a dramatic accident, classical scholarship could have possessed a groundbreaking Sidonius index half a century before Peder Christiansen, James Holland and Bill Dominik published their indispensable concordances. The least we can do is honouring the memory of its author, Fritz Kretschmer.

Read the full story here, with illustrations and two papers by Prof. Abbott who inherited Oldfather’s archive.

Liccardo on the Heruli

Salvatore Liccardo made a blogpost ‘Identical Strangers: The History of the Heruli Between the 3rd and the 5th Century’, ÖAW 12 October 2021. It is part of the project Visualizing Semantic Landscapes in Early Medieval Europe (MMP), coordinated by Walter Pohl and Veronika Wieser.

To the passage mentioned by the author (Carm. 34.31 in Ep. 8.9.6 to Lampridius: hic glaucis Herulus genis vagatur) one can add Carm. 7.235-6 vincitur illic / cursu Herulus, Chunus iaculis Francusque natatu.

Sagittarius or Syagrius in Ep. 2.4?

Gavin Kelly published a blogpost titled ‘A textual and onomastic problem in Sidonius’:

In modern editions, Sidonius’ letter 2.4 is addressed to an otherwise unknown Sagittarius, who is asked to accept the friendship of Sidonius’ protégé Proiectus (also otherwise unknown) as the latter seeks to make an advantageous marriage with a girl of good family for whom Sidonius’ addressee has some sort of role of guardianship following her father’s death. But editions up to that of Lütjohann in 1887 had the letter addressed not Sidonius Sagittario suo salutem but Sidonius Syagrio suo salutem. Syagrius (or to be precise Siagrius) is the reading of the family of manuscripts from which the first edition of 1474 derived. Sagit(t)arius appeared in the majority of the manuscripts picked out by Lütjohann.

How to weigh up the contradictory evidence of the manuscripts?

Read on in Gavin’s blog