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E07125: In his Letter 4.6 to Apollinaris, written in Latin, Sidonius Apollinaris refers to the feast of an unnamed martyr, probably *Julian (martyr of Brioude, S00035). Letter written at Clermont (central Gaul), c. 472.

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posted on 2018-11-22, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Sidonius Apollinaris, Letters 4.6.2

Fateor me nimis veritum, ne tempore timoris publici non timeres et solidae domus ad hoc aevi inconcussa securitas ad tempestuosos hostium incursus pro intempestiva devotione trepidaret inchoaretque apud animorum matronalium teneritudinem sollemnitas expetita vilescere: quamquam in pectoribus earundem ita sibi sit genuina sanctitas peculiare metata domicilium, ut, si quid secus viantibus accidisset, laetaturae fuerint quoddam se pro martyre tolerasse martyrium.

'Well, I confess I was terribly afraid that in a time of general fear you might fear nothing, that the security of your solid house, unshaken up to the present, might, because of your untimely devotion, tremble in face of the enemy’s stormy assaults, and that the solemn ceremony which was the object of your journey might begin to lose its merit in the eyes of your tender-hearted womenfolk—although their innate piety has so thoroughly established a home for itself in their hearts that if something untoward had happened to the people on pilgrimage, they would have rejoiced to think that they had in a manner suffered martyrdom on account of the martyr.'

Text and translation: Anderson 1965, 84-85.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Julian, martyr of Brioude : S00035

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Clermont Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives



Sidonius Apollinaris was born at Lyons about 430, into a senatorial family. He witnessed the decay of the Roman Empire in the West and met or corresponded with many important people of his times. He passed through the regular courses in grammar, literature, rhetoric, philosophy and law in his native city, and his works – Poems and Letters – reflect his academic training. He wrote poetry from his early years. Until his election as bishop of Clermont in 469 or 470, Sidonius had a career in secular politics. He resided in Clermont till his death, perhaps in 489. Sidonius' Letters consist of nine books, containing 149 letters addressed to about a hundred correspondents, including officials and bishops. He started preparing his Letters for publication probably about 469, though this date is hypothetical. Books 1-7 were published in about 477, Book 8 in about 480, and Book 9 in about 482. The collection starts with an introductory letter, in which Sidonius dedicated the work to his friend Constantius (PCBE 4, 'Constantius 3'), a priest of Lyon who was also a writer, notably of the Life of *Germanus of Auxerre (E05841). Originally, Book 7 was the intended end, as its last letter, also dedicated to Constantius, states. However more of Sidonius’ friends wished to be represented in the collection. Book 8 was compiled at the instance of Petronius, a jurisconsult of Arles and lover of letters (PCBE 4, 'Petronius 3'), and Book 9 was requested by Firminus, a learned man of Arles (PCBE 4, 'Firminus 1). Sidonius revised his letters before publication and added several specially composed on this occasion. His chief model was Pliny, who also wrote nine books of letters. They are not arranged in chronological order, though in broad terms those in the earlier books are earlier than those in the later ones, with the letters in Books 1 and 2 dating from before Sidonius’ election as bishop in 469/470. The Letters are a major source of information about many aspects of the civil and ecclesiastical life of Sidonius’ time. For more on Sidonius' biography, his works, and their dating see PCBE 4, 'Sidonius 1', as well as works below, such as Harries 1994, and Mathisen 2013.


The Apollinaris addressed in this letter is Sidonius' uncle (PCBE 4, 'Apollinaris 3', pp. 161-3). The danger which Sidonius feared he and his family would incur by travelling to celebrate a feast day (sollemnitas) at the shrine of a martyr was caused by Visigothic incursions into Roman territory in southern Gaul. Although the martyr whose feast Apollinaris and his family had been planning to attend is not named, the consensus among modern scholars, though usually with a degree of uncertainty expressed, is that it was Julian of Brioude (the principal saint of the territory of Clermont). See among others, Dalton 1915, 229, n. 13; Anderson 1965, 85; Loyen 1970, vol. 2, 227, n. 21; PCBE 4, 162.


Editions and translations: Anderson, W.B., Sidonius, Poems. Letters. 2 vols (Loeb Classical Library 296, 420; Cambridge MA/London, 1936, 1965). Loyen, A., Sidoine Apollinaire, Poèmes (Paris, 1960); Lettres. 2 vols. (Paris, 1970). Further reading: Dalton. O.M., The Letters of Sidonius. 2 vols. (Oxford, 1915). Harries, J., Sidonius Apollinaris and the Fall of Rome (Oxford, 1994). Mathisen, R.W., "Dating the Letters of Sidonius," in: J. van Waarden and G. Kelly (eds.), New Approaches to Sidonius Apollinaris (Leuven, 2013), 221-248. Pietri, L., and Heijmans, M. (eds.), Prosopographie chrétienne du Bas-Empire, 4: Prosopographie de la Gaule chrétienne (314-614). 2 vols. (Paris, 2013). (= PCBE)

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