Sidonius Apollinaris

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Gaius Sollius (Modestus) Apollinaris Sidonius or Saint Sidonius Apollinaris (November 5[1] of an unknown year, perhaps 430 – August, 489) was a poet, diplomat, and bishop. Sidonius is "the single most important surviving author from fifth-century Gaul" according to Eric Goldberg.[2] He was one of four fifth- to sixth-century Gallo-Roman aristocrats whose letters survive in quantity; the others are Ruricius bishop of Limoges (died 507), Alcimus Ecdicius Avitus, bishop of Vienne (died 518) and Magnus Felix Ennodius of Arles, bishop of Ticinum (died 534). All of them were linked in the tightly-bound aristocratic Gallo-Roman network that provided the bishops of Catholic Gaul.[3] His feast day is August 21.

Contents

Life

Sidonius was born in Lugdunum (Lyons). His father Apollinaris (born circa 405) was the Prefect of Gaul under Valentinian III between 425 and 455 and the son of another Apollinaris, who was Praetorian Prefect of Gaul before 409 and a friend of his successor Decimus Rusticus. He seems to be a descendant of another Apollinaris, Prefect of Gaul under Constantine II between 337 and 340.

Sidonius married Papianilla in about 452. She was the daughter of Emperor Avitus.[4] His life and friendships put him in the center of 5th century Roman affairs.

In 457 Majorian deprived Avitus of the empire and seized the city of Lyons; Sidonius fell into his hands. However, the reputation of the aristocrat's learning led Majorian to treat him with the greatest respect. In return Sidonius composed a panegyric in his honour (as he had previously done for Avitus), which won for him a statue at Rome and the title of count. In 467 or 468 the emperor Anthemius rewarded him for the panegyric which he had written in honour of him by raising him to the post of Urban Prefect of Rome until 469, and afterwards to the dignity of Patrician and Senator. In 470 or 472, more for his political than for his theological abilities, he was chosen to succeed Eparchius in the bishopric of Auvergne (Clermont, now Clermont-Ferrand) until 480. Most of the previous holders of the benefice have been made saints in the Roman Catholic Church, including his recent predecessor, Saint 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.

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