Sidonius’ Epitaph

Sidonius’ tombstone. Photo Joop van Waarden, 2017 – Click to enlarge

Sanctis contiguus sacroque patri

vivit sic meritis Apollinaris,

inlustris titulis, potens honore,

rector militiae forique iudex,

mundi inter tumidas quietus undas,

causarum moderans subinde motus

leges barbarico dedit furori;

discordantibus inter arma regnis

pacem consilio reduxit amplo.

Haec inter tamen et philosophando

scripsit perpetuis habenda saeclis;

et post talia dona Gratiarum

summi pontificis sedens cathedram

mundanos suboli refundit actus.

Quisque hic dum lacrimis deum rogabis,

dextrum funde preces super sepulcrum:

nulli incognitus et legendus orbi

illic Sidonius tibi invocetur.

 

XII k(a)l(endas) Septembris Zenone imperatore.

Close to the saints and to his holy father,1
thus lives Apollinaris by his merits;
noble through his titles, powerful through his office,
head of the military, magistrate at the court,
quiet amid the world’s billowing waves,
then managing the turmoil of lawsuits,
he imposed laws on the barbarian fury;2
for the realms that were involved in an armed conflict
he restored peace by his great prudence.
Amid all this, however, he also wrote learned works
which will be handed down through the ages;
and after these gifts of the Graces,
sitting in the chair of the supreme pontiff,
he discharged wordly affairs for posterity.3
Whoever you are, when you come here to implore God with tears,
extend your prayer over this propitious4) grave:
may Sidonius, unknown to nobody and to be read by all the world,
be invoked by you there.

August 21, in the reign of Zeno (474-491).5

1 Probably his predecessor, bishop Eparchius, is meant. Cf. Ov. Ars 3.409-10.
2 Does this suggest that Sidonius partook in compiling the law code of Euric?
3 Or ‘handed over his wordly affairs to his son’?
4 Prof. Matthew McGowan, chair of Classical Studies at the College of Wooster, OH, thinks it possible that dextrum refers to the actual site of the tomb, i.e. to the right of the person reading the inscription (suggestion by e-mail 25.01.07). Köhler 2014, xvi, thinks it points to the tomb of Sidonius’ predecessor Eparchius to the right of Sidonius’ tomb in the chapel of Saturninus in Clermont.
5 AD 479, in the 480s or by 486? (see Cugusi 1985, 111 n. 53). ‘On his sarcophagus, he [Sidonius] made no mention of his bishopric. His offices in the Respublica and his literary activities were what mattered for him. Nor did he date his death by the reign of any local king. Instead, he dated his death by the reign of the eastern emperor, Zeno. Sidonius considered Zeno, as emperor at Constantinople, to be the sole surviving head of the legitimate Roman empire.’ (Brown 2012, 406)

Written in the interior margin of the last page of codex C (Matritensis 9448, formerly Ee 102, saec. X/XI), as printed by Lütjohann in the introduction to his edition, p. vi, with the corrections of Sirmond.

In 1991, fragments of this epitaph (CLE 1516, Le Blant 562, Diehl 1067) were identified in Clermont-Ferrand and could be adduced by Françoise Prévot as proof of the poem’s authenticity. See Prévot 1993a, 1993b (esp. 257-59 = 1999, 77-80) and 1997, and Montzamir 2003 (see also 2014). See also Le Guillou 2002, 280-82.

For the metre (phalaecean hendecasyllables, the same as used by Sidonius in the epitaph of his grandfather, Ep. 3.12.5) and an analysis, see Cugusi 1985, 111-13; another analysis can be found in Mascoli 2004, 166-72. For the date, Stevens 1933: 211-12, and Loyen, xxix. For the hypothesis that the author was Sidonius’ son, Apollinaris jr, see Condorelli 2013, 279; cf. Furbetta 2015, 250.

Coming as a surprising new development, Luciana Furbetta (2014 and 2015) discovered the epitaph in another manuscript. This privately owned, twelfth-century manuscript (Paris, IRHT, CP 347, formerly in the Schøyen collection) provides a different text of the epitaph, including its date (which had interestingly been conjectured by Mommsen in the preface to Lütjohann’s edition, p. xlix: ‘Quamquam extremum vocabulum non recte se habet scribendumque fuit Zenone Augusto (iterum) consule similiterve’). See also the IRHT website for information about the project in which this manuscript has been studied.

The text in CP 347 runs as follows:

Sanctis contiguus sacroque patri
vivit sic meritis Apollinaris,
inlustris titulis, potens honore,
rector militiae forique iudex,
mundi inter tumidas quietus undas,
causarum moderans subinde motus
leges barbarico dedit furori;
discordantibus inter arma regnis
pacem consilio reduxit amplo.
Haec inter tamen et facundus ore
libris excoluit vitam parentis

et post talia dona Gratiarum
summi pontificis sedens cathedram
mundanos suboli refundit actus.
Quisque hic dum lacrimis deum rogabis,
dextrum funde preces super sepulcrum:
nulli incognitus et legendus orbi
illic Sidonius tibi invocetur.

Duodecimo Kalendas Septembris Zenone consule.

.
.
.
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.
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.
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.
.
.
. Amid all this, however, he also paid an eloquent tribute
. in his books to the life of his (fore)father/parent
.
.
.
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.
. August 21, in the consulate of Zeno (i.e. 479)

Matritensis 9448 f. 165. Source Spanish National Library – Click to enlarge
Paris, IRHT, Collections privées, CP 347, f. 132v-133r (©IRHT) – Click to enlarge

Bibliography

Brown, Peter, Through the Eye of a Needle, Princeton, NJ, 2012.

Condorelli, Silvia, ‘Gli epigrammi funerari di Sidonio Apollinare’, in: Marie-France Guipponi-Gineste and Céline Urlacher-Becht (eds), La renaissance de l’épigramme dans la latinité tardive, Paris, 2013, 261-82.

Cugusi, Paolo, Aspetti letterari dei Carmina Latina Epigraphica, Bologna, 1985.

Furbetta, Luciana, ‘Un nuovo manoscritto di Sidonio Apollinare. Una prima ricognizione’, Res Publica Litterarum 37 (2014) 135-57.

—–, ‘L’epitaffio di Sidonio Apollinare in un nuovo testimone manoscritto’, Euphrosyne NS 43 (2015) 243-54.

Köhler, Helga, C. Sollius Apollinaris Sidonius. Briefe, Stuttgart, 2014.

Le Guillou, Jean, Sidoine Apollinaire. L’Auvergne et son temps, Mémoires de la Société ‘La Haute-Auvergne’ 8, Aurillac, 2002.

Loyen, André, Sidoine Apollinaire, vol. 1 Poèmes, CUF, Paris, 1960.

Mascoli, Patrizia, ‘Per una ricostruzione del Fortleben di Sidonio Apollinare’, Invigilata lucernis 26 (2004) 165-83.

Montzamir, Patrice, ‘Nouvel essai de reconstitution matérielle de l’épitaphe de Sidoine Apollinaire (RICG, VIII, 21)’, AnTard 11 (2003) 321-27 ill. plan.

—–, ‘Confirmation de l’existence de l’épitaphe de Sidoine Apollinaire’, in: Bertrand Dousteyssier and Philippe Bet (eds), Éclats arvernes: Fragments archéologiques (Ier-Ve siècle apr. J.-C.), Clermont-Ferrand: Presses Universitaires Blaise Pascal, 2014, 46-47.

Prévot, Françoise, ‘Deux fragments de l’épitaphe de Sidoine Apollinaire découverts à Clermont-Ferrand’, AnTard 1 (1993a) 223-29.

—–, ‘Sidoine Apollinaire et l’Auvergne’, RHEF 79 (1993b) 243-59 (reprinted in Bernadette Fizellier-Sauget (ed.), L’Auvergne de Sidoine Apollinaire à Grégoire de Tours: histoire et archéologie, Clermont-Ferrand, 1999, 63-80).

—–, ‘RICG VIII, 21: Clermont Ferrand, Saint-Saturnin (?)’, no 21 in Recueil des inscriptions chrétiennes de la Gaule antérieures à la Renaissance carolingienne, vol. 8 Aquitaine première, Paris: CNRS, 1997, 116-26.

Stevens, C.E., Sidonius Apollinaris and His Age, Oxford, 1933.