An Unexpected Twist

Today, on the occasion of Sidonius’ death on a 21/23rd August some 1,540 years ago, a striking piece of literary reception giving an unexpected twist to the famous Carmen 12 on the impossibility of writing poetry among the barbarians.

Playwright and stage director Hartmut Lange (born 1937, in exile to West-Berlin from the DDR in 1965), in his 1972 play Staschek oder das Leben des Ovid on the dilemmas of compromising with the powers that be, has the protagonist meet Sidonius in Bordeaux instead of meeting Ovid in Tomi, as he expected. Staschek persuades Sidonius to smear his hair with rancid butter to assuage the barbarians. These, indeed, become nicer, but the stench makes Sidonius vomit all the time and prevents him from reciting his ‘ode to Venus’.

The play is a vivid satire of cowardice and self-interest in the face of totalitarianism (Horace and Vergil figure on the wrong side whereas Ovid refuses to collaborate). In the end, everybody has to compromise one way or another, even Sidonius.

See the Reception/Germany page for fuller detail on discussions by Kurt Smolak and Theodore Ziolkowski.

Text to be found in Hartmut Lange, Vom Werden der Vernunft und andere Stücke fürs Theater, Zürich: Diogenes. 1988, 307-41, esp. 338-39.

The Latest on the Life of Apollonius

In their new Fragmentary Latin Histories of Late Antiquity (AD 300-620): Edition, Translation and Commentary, Cambridge: CUP, 2020, in a chapter on Nicomachus Flavianus (pp. 36-58), on pp. 50-53, Lieve Van Hoof and Peter Van Nuffelen argue that the supposed Latin Life of Apollonius is a spurium, concluding that it must have been a Greek manuscript that Sidonius copied.

Paul Mohr’s Life Finally Complete

Principally known to scholars of late antiquity as the editor of the 1895 Teubner edition of Sidonius’ works, Paul Mohr sank into oblivion after this publication and his appointment as Headmaster of the Gymnasium in Bremerhaven in the same year. With the help of the Archives of Bremerhaven and Bad Sooden-Allendorf, where he moved after his retirement in 1918, the rest of his life can now be reconstructed, including his death date 26 November 1939 at the age of 88. Special thanks go to the Keeper of the Archives of Sooden-Allendorf, Dr. Antje Laumann-Kleineberg.

Go to the Scholars page, entry Paul Mohr.

Out Soon: Lo specchio del modello

Lo specchio del modello: Orizzonti intertestuali e Fortleben di Sidonio Apollinare is in print. Edited by Anita Di Stefano and Marco Onorato, it brings together the papers given at the homonymous conference, 4-5 October 2018 at the University of Messina.
Authors include Silvia Condorelli, Franca Ela Consolino, Anita Di Stefano, Maria Jennifer Falcone, Luciana Furbetta, Jesús Hernández Lobato, Marco Onorato, Aaron Pelttari, Stefania Santelia, Rosa Santoro, Joop van Waarden, Étienne Wolff, and Matthijs Zoeter.

Contents here