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Salvian, On the Government of God (1930) pp.1-34.  Translators introduction

On the Government of God

A Treatise
wherein are shown by Argument and by
Examples drawn from the Abandoned
of the Times the Ways of GOD
toward His Creatures



Presbyter of Marseilles and Master of Bishops


This Fifth Century Polemic Done into English by
Western Reserve University

New York 

Copyright 1930 
[Note to the online text: copyright not renewed so now in the public domain in the USA]

Published December, 1930

Printed in the United States of America 
The Torch Press, Cedar Rapids, Iowa




[Blank page]



I. A Fifth Century Tract for the Times.....       3

II. The Life of Salvian.........       5

III.    Salvian's Literary Work ........     15

IV.    On the Government of God ........    18

V. Style and Latinity.........    28

VI. The Editions of Salvian 's Works.......31

VII. Estimates of Salvian 's Work.......32


Preface, to Salonius. ---- That the salutary purpose of the present work should atone for its lack of the vain adornments of rhetoric . .37

Book I. ---- The government of God proved by the general conviction of mankind, and by his judgment recounted in the books of Moses . 39 
    1. On the general belief in God's government. 2. That good Christians cannot be wretched. 3. Of the infirmities of the saints. 4. God's guidance and judgments of the world. 5. On the meaning of prayer. 6. The earliest instances of God's judgment. 7. God's judgment shown in the Flood. 8. The examples of Abraham, of Sodom and Gomorrah. 9. The Exodus. 10. Man's ingratitude for his present blessings. 11. Examples of God's mercy and of his severity. 12. God's judgments of the Hebrews.

Book II. ---- The immediate judgment of God as seen in the history of King David ........... 66
    1. Of the presence of God. 2. God's watchful care. 3. His vengeance. 4. The punishment of David. 5. David's exile. 6. The immediacy of God's judgment.

Book III. ---- On the obligations of the Christian life . . . .77 
    1. Divine authority and human reason. 2. Christian belief. 3. The obligations of the Christian life. 4. The apostle's imitation of Christ. 5. The services due to God. 6. How men follow Christ's precepts. 7. The necessity of impartial obedience. 8. The lesser commands of God. 9. The vices of Christians. 10. The guilt of rich men and nobles. 11. Their vain hope of salvation.

Book IV. ---- On the oppressions wrought by the Roman nobles, and the guilt of Christians as compared with pagans . . . . .98 
    1. The necessity of faith and good works. 2. Faith without works. 3. The sins of slaves compared with those of their masters. 4. The oppression of the nobles. 5. The enormity of their crimes. 6. The rich compared with their slaves; the burdens of taxation. 7. The penalties of conversion. 8. That men's crimes are the cause of their misfortunes. 9. The Father's love for his creatures. 10. The fulness |viii of God's love. 11. The ingratitude of man. 12. The guilt of Christians. 13. Comparison of Christians with barbarians. 14. The peculiar guilt of Christians. 15. Their oaths. 16. Their transgressions of the divine law. 17. Pagan ideas of the Christians. 18. Blasphemy. 19. The guilt of Christians compared with that of heathen.

Book V. ---- On heresy, and on the oppression of the poor by the powerful throughout the Roman Empire ....... 133
    1. Men's opposition to the law. 2. Heresy among the barbarians. 3. Heresy among the Romans. 4. The oppression of the many by the few. 5. The flight of Romans to the barbarians. 6. The revolt of the Bagaudae. 7. The oppression of the poor by the rich. 8. Means of relief. 9. The seeming injustice of God's merey. 10. The character of true repentance. 11. The true meaning of power.

Book VI. ---- On the ruinous influence of circuses and spectacles . . 157 
    1. The infection of evil. 2. The evil influence of the public games. 3. The circuses and theaters. 4. God's hatred of the theaters. 5. The contrast between the circus and Christ's precepts. 6. On renunciation of the devil and his pomps. 7. How men desert the churches for the spectacles. 8. On their folly in the midst of ruin. 9. How the disasters of Rome have failed to bring repentance. 10. That no dishonor to God can be trivial. 11. Men's unworthiness of God's gifts. 12. The failure of adversity to amend men's lives. 13. The capture of Treves. 14. The destruction of other cities. 15. Destruction and the circuses. 16. On the corrective of peace. 17. The gratitude due for peace. 18. The captivity of the Romans.

Book VII. ---- Wherein Roman vice is contrasted with Vandal virtue . 189 
    1. On the wretched gayety of Rome. 2. On the corruption of southern Gaul. 3. On the lusts of its men. 4. The corruption of their households. 5. That their vices are increased by their distress. 6. On the chastity of the Goths. 7. The Vandals in Spain. 8. The punishment due to presumption. 9. Humility and pride. 10. God's judgment in time of battle. 11. The judgment of God shown in the strength of the enemy. 12. On the invasions of the barbarians. 13. The Vandals in Africa. 14. Their devastation of Africa. 15. The wickedness of Africa. 16. Its obscenity. 17. The corruption of the African churches. 18. The continuance of their general guilt. 19. Their prevalent vice of effeminacy. 20. The contrast between the Romans and the Vandals. 21. On the discipline of the Vandals. 22. On the reform of Africa. 23. On the regulation of marriage.

Book VIII. ---- That the sins of the Romans are alone responsible for their ruin ............ 224
    1. The responsibility for Rome's misfortunes. 2. The blasphemies of Africa. 31. Of their injury to God. 4. On persecution. 5. On the recompense due.


INDEX            .............235


Salvus, incolumisque Salvianus, 
Magnus Scriptor, Episcopus probatus, 
Antiquum reparatus in decorem, 
In lucem venit omine auspicato, 
Vitae Regula, Episcopon Magister; 
Dignus nomine, et hoc honore dignus. 
Scriptorum decus elegantiorum; 
Dignus, quem studiis, modisque cunctis 
Mirentur, celebrent, legant frequentes 
Quot sunt, aut aliis erunt in annis. 
Hunc, lector, precor, accipe explicata 
Fronte, hunc delicias tuas putabis. 
Illum plus oculis tuis amabis, 
Meras delicias, meros lepores, 
Inscriptum simul, et tibi dicatum, 
Salvum, incolumemque Salvianum.



I. A Fifth Century Tract for the Times

"Be ashamed, ye Roman people everywhere, be ashamed of the lives you lead! ... It is neither the strength of their bodies that makes the barbarians conquer, nor the weakness of our nature that makes us subject to defeat. Let no one think or persuade himself otherwise ---- it is our vicious lives alone that have conquered us.'' 1

These are the words which Salvian would have made echo throughout the Roman world, had his human frailty permitted, the words which have earned him the title of the ''Jeremiah of his times." The problem of the decline of the Roman power was not relegated to the historians at that time, but was the chief concern of all thinking men, and many solutions were proposed. Successive invasions and settlements of barbarian tribes had ended Rome's claim to rule the world, while at the same time the fiscal difficulties of the central administration had increased taxation beyond endurance. The world seemed to be dying of old age, and the Empire with it. The natural tendency to glorify the past was intensified by the poignant wretchedness of the present, and grave doubts arose in the minds even of faithful Christians. "The very people who, as pagans, conquered and ruled the world, are being conquered and enslaved now that they have become Christians. Is not this clear evidence of God's neglect of human affairs?" 2 The question did not of itself imply disbelief in God, but its implicit doubt of God's constant government and judgment of mankind endangered the foundations of the Christian faith. Salvian's answer was clear and uncompromising. "These words are harsh and austere," |4 he wrote elsewhere, "but what are we to do? We may not change the nature of things, and the truth cannot be pronounced otherwise than as the very essence of truth demands. Men think my words harsh. I know that well enough. But what are we to do? Except by hardship we do not make our way into the Kingdom." 3 The treatise On the Government of God, which is Salvian's best known work, is essentially an exposition of this thesis: that the decline of the Roman power actually demonstrated God's government and judgment of human actions, since the sins of the Romans were such as had always, since the fall of Adam, been visited with instant punishment. Consequently the first two books of Salvian's discussion are chiefly devoted to demonstrations of God's judgment by examples drawn from the authority of the Old Testament. The third book builds on this foundation a clear exposition of the Christian obligation of an upright life in God's service. On this basis Salvian then proceeded to contrast the disgraceful actions of the Christian Romans of his time with their duty toward God, and with the virtues of the victorious barbarians. Yet the latter, being either heretics or pagans, were under less obligation to a godly life than the orthodox Romans. To the author himself, and to his fellow clergy, the first three books may well have seemed the essential portion of the argument: to us the great interest of the work lies in the picture of the times given in the last five. For here we have detailed accounts of the effects of the burden of taxation on the poor, whom it ruined; on the rich, who managed to shift their burden to weaker shoulders; and on the curials, who were forced into tyranny by their responsibility to the agents of the central government for the sums due. In this case as in others, reference to the imperial decrees collected in the Codices proves the essential truth of Salvian's account. Sidonius Apollinaris has given us in his letters charming descriptions of the life of the |5 wealthy nobles of southern Gaul: Salvian showed the other side of the picture when he described the means by which some of these same nobles had acquired their neighbors' land, and when he inveighed against the corruption of domestic life in their villas. He has shown clearly the development of serfdom under pressure of taxation and patronage, and the other alternatives from which the poor might choose ---- flight to barbarian territory, or armed revolt against the Roman system. And he has described in graphic terms, in part as an eyewitness, the horrors that attended the capture and sack of wealthy Roman cities, even at the hands of barbarians whom he believed to be far less brutal and depraved than many Romans. He has pictured the triumphant progress of the Vandals, reckoned as the weakest of Rome's enemies, through the richest provinces of the West.

He showed, to be sure, only one side of life. The miseries of the time prompted the doubts that he undertook to resolve; with these alone he was directly concerned. He rarely admitted that there were exceptions to the prevailing corruption of his fellow Romans. It was hardly consistent with his thesis that he should do so, for his book was essentially a polemic. It is important, however, to note in this connection that his statements are very rarely in conflict with other contemporary evidence. Passages in the letters of Sidonius, in the sermons and letters of his friends at Lérins, and of other leaders of the church, as well as in the writings of pagans and in the laws of the empire, regularly corroborate his account of the times. And he, in turn, occasionally confirms their accounts of the beauty that still remained in life, by his glimpses of Provence, with its pleasant country life and rich harvests ---- " the one corner where the Roman power still lives."

II. The Life of Salvian

As we have seen, Salvian wrote "as one having authority." That he had earned the right to speak is fully proved by the chief |6 contemporary reference to his life and work. Gennadius wrote of him, in his biographical dictionary of illustrious men:

Salvian, presbyter of Marseilles, learned in human and divine letters, and, if I may apply the title to him, master of bishops, wrote many books in a clear and scholarly style. Of these I have read the following: four books addressed to Marcellus the presbyter, On the Value of Virginity, and four Against Avarice; five books On the Present Judgment, and one book For the Satisfaction of These [Sins], addressed to Salonius the bishop; one book in exposition of the last part of Ecclesiastes, addressed to Claudius, bishop of Vienne; one book of letters; one book composed in verse as a Hexameron after the Greek fashion, from the beginning of Genesis to the creation of man; many homilies written for bishops; and on the sacraments, books whose number I do not recall. He still lives today in a goodly old age.4

Salvian's other names we do not know, due chiefly to the fact that fifth century etiquette forbade the use of more than one name in friendly correspondence,5 but the title "master of bishops" which Gennadius bestowed on him has more than atoned for the loss. The modest office of presbyter at Marseilles would seem sufficient to refute the early editors' claim of a bishop's mitre for him, even, without the negative evidence of the omission of his name from the episcopal lists.6 But the title "master of bishops," magister episcoporum, is his by manifold right, and is inseparably connected with his personality in the minds of all who have studied his work. He lived and worked for some time at the very nursery of bishops, Lérins, where he was chosen to teach the two sons of Eucherius, both of whom were to become bishops later. At Marseilles he continued his teaching, composing many homilies for bishops, as Gennadius said. Although in his books To the Church against Avarice he spoke of himself as "least of the servants of God," he spoke with |7 the voice of authority, and his words were chiefly addressed to the great lords of the church.

Many have called him by another title, which in its present meaning we cannot claim for him, but which he rightfully enjoyed in its fifth century use. Sanctus to him, as to all other Christians, before it seemed necessary to determine fixed categories for the communion of saints, meant a devout Christian. The word was applied to him by contemporaries, and recurs so often in his books that it is small wonder that many of his editors have informally canonized him, others have become involved in learned arguments to deprive him of sainthood,7 and one university, at least, continues the good tradition in his honor.8 Without doubt, as Baluze concludes, after disproving his claims to canonization, "there are many saints in heaven who are not so held by us in our catalogues."

Of his personal life we know little, though he contributes so much to our knowledge of the general circumstances of his time. Gennadius described him in the last decade of the fifth century as still living bona senectute. It is not possible for us to fix the exact date of his birth, but the wide experience and ripe wisdom shown in his treatise On the Government of God indicate at least that he had reached maturity some time before it was written. As this book was evidently composed between A.D. 439 and 450, it is natural to assume that he was born late in the fourth century or early in the fifth.9 What we know of the events of his life belongs entirely to the period before the publication of his chief work. The forty years or more that followed must be filled in by the writing of some of those lost works of which Gennadius spoke, and the many activities of a priest and "master of bishops" in one of the chief centers of the Gallic church. Several years before Salvian settled in |8 Marseilles, a poet beggared by the Gothic raids sought refuge there, and found "many saints my dear friends." 10 Such a haven from the storms that beset the rest of Gaul was sure to provide ample activity for its priests.

The place of Salvian's birth has been much disputed. Some early editors assumed that he was born in Africa ---- an assumption not unnatural in view of his graphic description of the sins and the ruin of that province.11 The account of the capture of Treves in his sixth book, however, makes it clear that his native district was near the Rhine frontier. The claims of both Treves and Cologne have been supported by various authorities. Whether he lived in one of these cities, or on an estate in the countryside near by, his familiarity with the whole district is unmistakable.

Treves was the place of all others in the western world where he could best have studied the fatal magnificence of the higher Roman officials in the face of the barbarian attacks. The praetorian prefect of the Gallic and Spanish provinces kept his official residence there in such state as Constantius the emperor had scarcely equalled when he fixed his capital in that city a century earlier. There Salvian must have watched with growing anxiety the increasing power of the Franks. The author of the twelfth century Gesta Treverorum tells us that they had conceived a special hostility for this most splendid of Gallic cities from the time of their first contact with it. This district also afforded excellent opportunities to observe the increasing ravages of Goths, Vandals and Burgundians. The great amphitheater of Treves was the scene of many of those public spectacles against which Salvian inveighed so bitterly, and |9 when the Vandal Crocus captured the city in A.D. 406, the people were saved only by taking refuge within its strong walls.12 Years later, Salvian wrote from Marseilles to the monks at Lérins, commending to their kindly offices a young kinsman, a refugee from the captured city of Cologne. He wrote to the brothers that the boy was "of a family not obscure, of which I might say something more, were he not related to me." 13 These words confirm the conclusions as to Salvian's family and position that we should naturally draw from his writings. His parents were clearly of the Gallo-Roman aristocracy: Salvian knew intimately the way of life of a man of position and substance, however much he disapproved of it. His examples indicate a considerable knowledge of life on the great estates, the masters' problems with slaves and tenants, the results of patronage, the various forms of cultivation employed, and at the same time a very real appreciation of the natural beauties of the country. For slaves and poor men, and all who suffered oppression, he had great sympathy. This, however, did not blind him to the probability that they would be as bad as their oppressors if the tables were turned. We do not need Gennadius' statement to prove that he had the full rhetorical education of his time. Despite the arguments of some scholars to the contrary, his works seem to indicate that he had continued to read widely in "human and divine letters." Greek he apparently did not read, and the works of philosophers he quoted only at second hand. He was fond of examples drawn from medical practice, but these are all of a sort with which any intelligent man would be familiar.

His knowledge of law was far more detailed, and his writings furnish a valuable commentary on the Roman Codices, which in their turn serve as a check on his statements. Rittershausen concluded that he had had regular legal training; certainly he had a legal mind, and legal phraseology recurs constantly in his |10 discussions. But it seems equally probable, especially if his father held an imperial position, that his juristic knowledge merely represents the attainment of a Roman citizen concerned both in the complex management of a considerable estate and in affairs of government administration. That he belonged to an imperial official family is suggested by his attitude toward lesser officials. For the downtrodden poor his sympathy is great, but for clerks, soldiers and tax collectors, and for the curials who formed the miserable remnant of the local aristocracies, he seems to have felt only scorn and distaste. His aristocratic prejudices were tempered by Christian charity in other cases, but not in his attitude toward these men.14 It seems probable that he himself was brought up in the orthodox faith; at least he shows little of that bitterness toward pagans and heretics that recent converts are wont to feel. For those who called themselves Christians but continued heathen practices, however, his antipathy was very strong. His wife, Palladia, had been brought up in paganism, but her parents, Hypatius and Quieta, seem to have made no objection to the marriage. Later, however, they were alienated by the decision of Salvian and Palladia to follow a course which was being adopted by many other Christian couples. Unable either to endure Roman society as they found it, or to reform it from within, they determined to give their property to the church, and live no longer as man and wife, but as brother and sister in Christian fellowship. Paulinus of Nola, the one contemporary to whose example Salvian clearly alludes,15 is the best known of those who sought that peace in Christian poverty which Roman wealth had failed to give. The anger of Ausonius at his friend's course reflects a situation that must have been many times repeated. In this case, however, it culminated in one of the most poignant expressions of friendship that man has ever written.16 |11 

After an estrangement from their parents that lasted nearly seven years, Salvian, Palladia and the little daughter Auspiciola tried once more to effect a reconciliation. Their letter,17 which has fortunately been preserved, seems far too mannered and artificial to be convincing, but this formality was a set convention in the letter-writing of the time. Their pleas are sincere and loving, though yielding not one jot as to the essential rightness of their course. The immediate occasion of the letter seems to have been the news of the parents' conversion to Christianity, which would seem indeed to work in favor of their case. Palladia followed her husband's arguments by memories of the days when they had called her "little starling, little mistress, little mother, birdling:" she pleaded tenderly, too, for little Auspiciola, who deserved her grandparents' love.

Of the issue of their suit we know nothing. They had withdrawn from the vicinity of Treves, probably shortly after that destruction of the city which Salvian saw with his own eyes, and so graphically described.18 About A.D. 418 the praetorian prefect of Gaul seems to have changed his seat from Treves to Aries; perhaps Salvian's was one of the Roman families that withdrew soon after, either for official or private reasons.19 We do not know whether it was before or after this move that their ascetic resolution was taken; in any case, they went soon to the islands of the Lérins, which offered monasteries, separate but not remote from each other, for families in such case as theirs. Nothing is known thereafter of Palladia and Auspiciola; Salvian's life apparently lay apart from theirs.

Lérins was that "earthly paradise" 20 which furnished a haven for many religious of the day, and was so powerful a stimulant to their faith that from it went forth a seemingly endless stream of |12 saintly men. Honoratus and Hilary, Caesarius and Virgilius went from Lérins to the archbishopric of Aries; Maximus and Faustus to the see of Riez; Lupus to Troyes. Eucherius came to Lérins with his wife Galla and his two sons. He himself left to become bishop of Lyons; his sons, Salonius and Veranus, were put under the successive tutelage of Honoratus, Hilary, Salvian. and Vincent,21 and became bishops of Geneva and Vence. Three bishops went from Lérins to Avignon, and many others might be named.22

Honoratus was abbot at Lérins in Salvian's time and was called by Eucherius "master of bishops, doctor of the churches," being thus the prototype of Salvian. Shortly after A.D. 429, Hilarius of Aries preached at Marseilles a sermon on the life of Honoratus, in which he quoted from the writings of "a man of not unmerited distinction, and most blessed in Christ, Salvian the presbyter, one of Honoratus' dear associates." 23 Thus he gives us not only a glimpse of the esteem in which Salvian was already held, but a terminus ante quem for his ordination. Just when Salvian moved to Marseilles we do not know, nor why. Certainly it was through no antagonism at Lérins, for his first letter, already mentioned, expresses the utmost affection for the brothers there. The initial paragraph, on the bitter-sweetness of love, which at times compels one to ask of beloved friends a favor that without love would be |13 irksome, bears witness to the depth of his feeling for the monks. Its concluding words testify to his; high esteem for them: "Surely, if there is any good character in this young man, his hope and salvation will not prove to be of great difficulty to you; even if he receives no actual teaching, it is enough for him to be with you."

The years at Lérins must have exerted great influence on the development of Salvian's thought and style. The close fellowship between the monks of the island is constantly demonstrated by likenesses of ideas and phrasing in the writings of the many great men who there received their early training. Parts of the homilies of Caesarius of Aries, of Valerius and Hilarius bear striking resemblances to passages in Salvian's work. Vincent's Commonitorium has been appropriately included in many editions of Salvian, thus continuing their ancient fellowship. The book On the Government of God, as well as a lost work, was dedicated to Salonius, whom Salvian addressed in his ninth letter as "master and most blessed pupil, father, and son, pupil by instruction, son by affection, and father by rank and honor."

The life of Caesarius of Aries throws some light on the statement that Salvian composed many homilies for bishops. We read of Caesarius that:

He composed also appropriate sermons for feast days and other occasions, and sermons against the evils of drunkenness and lust, against discord and hatred, against anger and pride, against sacrilegious men and soothsayers, against pagan rites, against augurs, the worshippers of woods and of springs, and against the vices of divers men. He so prepared these homilies that if any visitors asked, far from refusing to loan them, he offered them for copying at the slightest suggestion of a request, and himself corrected them. He sent copies by priests to men far distant in the Frankish land, in Gaul, Italy and Spain and divers provinces, to be preached in their churches, that, casting aside frivolous and transitory interests, they might, as the apostle preached, become followers of good works.24 |14 Gennadius' emphasis on the homilies of Salvian suggests that their composition may have been one of the major preoccupations of his life in Marseilles, and a chief ground for his title of "master of bishops." That many of his sermons took the form of invectives against the vices of his day may be assumed from the extant books Against Avarice and On the Government of God. Both of these, indeed, have the air of having been compiled from actual sermons. The congregation is clearly visualized, which may account for the frequent use of the second person, and of a vivid colloquial tone.

That his attacks on the weaknesses of his contemporaries caused him serious difficulties is indicated by his constant reiteration that his words are sure to give offence to many, but even so they must be said. Larinus Amatius said in his eulogy of Salvian: "For if wrath engenders hatred among all men, and begets it especially among the wicked, who was ever more hated for the truth than Salvian, since no one ever set forth more truths than he?" 25

From the time of his removal to Marseilles, all that we know of Salvian's life is summed up in Gennadius' account. The few extant letters are chiefly of value for the glimpses they afford of his regard for the deference due to those of higher rank in the church, and their evidence of his continuing association with his former friends and pupils at Lérins. An example is his letter to Eucherius, thanking him for a copy of his Instructions on the More Difficult Questions of the Old and New Testament,26 which the bishop had written for his sons, now themselves " masters of churches." Lacking any further evidence for the closing years of Salvian's life than the goodly old age with which Gennadius credited him, we can only hope that he gained fulfilment of the wish with which his letter to Eucherius ended: "May God in his mercy grant me throughout the days of my life, or at least when they are ended, that those who have been my pupils may daily pray for me." |15 

III. Salvian's Literary Work

Gennadius' list shows that, while much of Salvian's work has been lost, the books that remain are probably the most individual and the most interesting to us. The writings of several other early Christians present such titles as On the Value of Virginity, A Book in Exposition of the Last Part of Ecclesiastes, and books On the Sacraments. One title is obscure, the book to Salonius Pro eorum merito satisfactionis, or Pro eorum praemio satisfaciendo. The variants in the text of Gennadius indicate that the obscurity is of long standing in the manuscript tradition. In my translation I have followed Ebert's conjecture of peccatorum for eorum, which at least makes possible a conjectural translation of the title ---- For the Satisfaction of These Sins,27 a book that might conceivably have been a companion volume to that On the Government of God.

Of the homilies written for bishops, and the influence of sermon writing on Salvian's general style, I have already spoken. It is possible, as Peter Allix suggested, that the anonymous poem on Genesis formerly ascribed to Tertullian may be part of the lost Hexameron of Salvian; the poem is, however, of slight importance, and its identification as the work of our author would be chiefly valuable as an indication of his wisdom in not publishing other verses.28 Only nine of the letters are preserved; of these I have already spoken. The ninth, addressed to Salonius, is of special interest, since it explains both Salvian's purpose in writing his four books Against Avarice, and his reasons for publishing them anonymously. Salonius feared that since the work was issued as the |16 Address of Timotheus to the Church against Avarice, it might be mistaken for an apocryphal work of the "Apostle" Timothy.

Like the Government of God, the invective Against Avarice was written because of Salvian's deep conviction of the dangers inherent in the persistent vices of men who called themselves Christians. Avarice was a besetting sin of many Romans, and had infected not only members of the church, but its clergy, even to the bishops themselves. The resultant neglect of the true service of God, and of the spiritual and material welfare of the church, led Salvian to "burst forth into words of lamentation" addressed to the church to which the offenders belonged. His failure to attach his own name to the book he explained not only by his desire to avoid vain glory in a service to God, but also by his conviction that the obscurity of his name might detract from the influence of his words. The pseudonym Timotheus ("Honoring God") was chosen to indicate the motive of the work: " Indeed, the writer thought it fitting that, writing his books for the honor of God, he should consecrate the title to his divine honor." 29

In spite of this letter, and of Gennadius' ascription of the work to Salvian, its anonymity was preserved in modern times, for it was published by Sichardus at Fol near Basel in 1528 as. the work of Bishop Timotheus, in a collection entitled An Antidote against the Heresies of All Ages.

While no one who reads the treatise Against Avarice can doubt the sincerity and depth of feeling with which it was written, the work is a curious document of the times. Avarice was considered one of the deadly sins. But it is hard now to avoid seeing some self-interest on the part of the church in the constant exhortations to the rich to give all their goods to the church in order to win remission of their sins. In its simplest form, this is the admonition of Christ to the rich young man: as it is elaborated to produce a surer conviction in the minds of fifth century Midases it is |17 perilously close to the purchase of absolution. Some modern writers have thought the book more likely to encourage the avarice of the church than to discourage that of churchmen; others have seen in it an anticipation of the later satires against the greed of the clergy.30 The irony that is never far from Salvian's writing is even more marked than usual in this indictment, but the unprejudiced reader is not likely to see in it an intention of actual satire. Nor is it sufficient to dismiss it, as Teuffel does, simply as a ballon d'essai.31 It was clearly written in all seriousness, albeit in bitterness of heart, with the earnest hope of exerting a salutary influence against a chief evil of the times. The author employed the arguments that experience had taught him were most likely to be effective.

That this work was written before the completion of the treatise On the Government of God is shown by the quotation from it in the latter; it may with some probability be assigned to the years 435-439.32 The words of Timothy to the church must have aroused much anger among ecclesiastical leaders, and apparently this antagonism made Salvian rather sensitive to criticism, though none the less determined to attack the vices of his day. That his later books would not be less fearless because of any hostility thus aroused, he showed in his concluding paragraphs, in which there is not a little of his own spiritual biography:

All human work is unworthy in comparison with the future glory. So nothing ought to seem hard and austere to Christians, because whatever they offer to Christ is in return for eternal blessings; what is given is vile when that which is received is so great. Nothing great is paid to God by men on earth, in comparison with the supreme gift of heaven. It is hard for misers to lavish their wealth. What is strange in this? Everything is hard that is demanded of the unwilling. Almost every divine word arouses animosity ---- there are as many hostile schools as there are teachers. |18 

If the Lord orders men to be generous, the miser is angry; if he exacts parsimony, the prodigal curses. The wicked consider the sacred speeches their enemies; robbers shudder at what is written about justice, the proud at precepts of humility; the drunken oppose the request for sobriety and the shameless the command of chastity. So we must either say nothing, or expect that whatever is said will displease one man or another. Any wicked man would rather execrate the law than amend his character; he would rather hate precepts than vices.

Meanwhile, what do those men do who have been given by Christ the duty of speaking? They displease God if they are silent, men if they speak. But, as the apostles said to the Jews, it is better to obey God than man. This is the advice I offer to all to whom the law of God seems heavy and onerous, even if they do not entirely refuse to receive it, in order that those things may please them, which God ordains. All who hate the sacred commandments have the cause of their hatred within themselves. Every man's dislike of the law is due not to its precepts, but to his own life; the law indeed is good, but his habits are bad. So men should change their attitude and their point of view. If they make their habits worthy of approbation, nothing that the good law enjoins will displease them. For when a man has begun to be good, he cannot fail to love the law of God, which has within it that which holy men have in their lives.33

IV. On The Government of God

The work on which for us the real interest of Salvian's life and thought depends, is that which Gennadius cited as five books On the Present Judgment, but which the manuscripts offer us as eight books On the Government of God. In this treatise Salvian discusses the defeat of Litorius in a.d. 439, but fails to mention the Vandal sack of Rome in 455, which must have profoundly impressed him. In view of the description he gives of the Vandal capture of Carthage, he would scarcely have omitted their raid on Rome. So we may reasonably suppose that the book was published between a.d. 439 and 455. We may probably limit the period somewhat more by the assumption that the great battle between the Romans and the Huns would have been mentioned if the treatise had been finished after 451. The argument from silence is less |19 dangerous in this instance, because of the general inclusiveness of Salvian's allusions to contemporary matters germane to his purpose, as these great events certainly would have been. Whatever the date of publication, the book is the mature product of some years of preaching.

It is evident that only the third and fifth books mark distinct developments in the argument. Some claim that elsewhere the division into books is purely arbitrary and does not betray any set intention on the part of the author. Since Gennadius speaks of five, and not eight books it has been assumed that a new division was made, perhaps as a matter of scribal convenience, after Gennadius wrote. Brakman, however, suggested with some plausibility that Gennadius may actually have written VIII, and a scribe mis-copied the letters as IIIII, which would be a natural error, if the V were imperfect. And the length of the individual books varies too much for a purely arbitrary division, whereas some case can be made out for the logic of the present arrangement.34

For the modern reader the chief interest of Salvian's work lies in the description of the life of the times in his later books. The careful building up of the evidence of the sacred authorities for God's judgment of the world seems tedious and repetitious. We are inclined to rebel at the constant reference to authority in the first three books. It is not unnatural to prefer the Old Testament itself to Salvian's reworking of the same themes with abundance of quotation. The cento is no longer a favored literary form, and overabundant quotation, at least when openly acknowledged, is out of favor. Few of us are likely to be in the position of the men of the fifth century who found it difficult to choose among various poor renderings of the Old Testament, since Jerome's version was just beginning to make its way into Gaul, or to procure a complete copy even if the initial obstacle of choice were overcome. The |20 reader who wishes his interest readily aroused, who would read the past in the light of his own experience, had best begin with the fourth book. A generation ago it would have been natural to remark that in Salvian's tract for his own times in these later books there is much that might be applied with little change to our own day. Such a statement would be no less true now, were it the present custom of historians to study past records as a source of moral examples for the current age.

But to avoid the risk of tedium by omitting the first three books is to lose much of the essence of the work, and of the fifth-century manner of thought. Salvian wrote not for us, but for his contemporaries. Historically, therefore, it is of value to note how he built up his demonstration of a fundamental principle ---- God's constant government and immediate judgment of his people. Not only pagans, but men who called themselves Christians, were led by a faulty reading of their times to question this tenet of the Christian faith. The Christians must be made to realize that such doubts were directly contradictory to the testimony of the Bible on which their faith rested. Hence the full evidence of the Scriptures was brought into court before the witness of contemporary life was summoned. It is futile to say that Salvian was merely attempting to prove God's judgment by reiterating his statement that God constantly sees and judges his people, or, as some put it, that he cites the authority of the Scriptures in support of that authority. There is no indication that his opponents had questioned the authority of the Biblical narrative. They had, indeed, questioned a fundamental doctrine of Christianity, having what would appear to be good reason for such doubts in the distress into which they, though a Christian people, had fallen. The validity of their estimate of God's injustice to themselves was a secondary matter to Salvian. The first necessity was to remind them that their doubts as to God's complete and immediate justice in the governance of the world were constantly disproved by the scriptural authority. |21 Since they had shown themselves either ignorant or forgetful of the evidence of the Bible on this subject, it must be recapitulated for them. The foundation thus laid, they would be in a fit frame of mind to consider how the apparent injustice of their present misfortunes might be squared with the unvarying justice of the God they worshipped. We are too apt to forget that his words were addressed not to pagans or heretics but to orthodox Christians, For these the first essential was fulness of understanding of their own faith: its application to their transitory circumstances was secondary. To many of its first readers the latter part of the work may have seemed an irrelevant anticlimax to the real argument, since it depended less closely on scriptural authority for its substance and Lactantius for its structure, and dealt with matters of ephemeral interest.

Like Augustine, Salvian was distressed by the "false opinion held by many" in his time, that the contrast between the poverty and captivity of the Christian Roman Empire and the prosperous domination of pagan Rome proved that God neither cared for the world he had created nor governed and judged it, except by a judgment too far in the future to afford any present satisfaction to the just or fear to the wicked. Such attacks on Christianity Augustine had answered by his contrast, a generation earlier, between the ephemeral city of this world and the eternal City of God. Another portion of his answer had been assigned to Orosius, who undertook in his History against the Pagans to prove that the evils into which the Christian Roman Empire had fallen were less than those of past and pagan generations. He even dared to remind his readers that the most glorious conquests of Rome had afforded far greater misery, disgrace and suffering to her defeated enemies than the Romans themselves now suffered, and to prophesy that those who now seemed barbarous destroyers of a mighty empire would some day be honored as heroes of the nations they were founding. Orosius' minimizing of Rome's dangers was possible, though |22 somewhat fantastic, even after the Gothic sack of the city in A.D. 410. When Salvian wrote such an attitude was no longer reasonable. Orosius had prophesied that new nations would take the place of Rome; Salvian, while he conceived the Empire as still the great cohesive force in the western world, saw the Teutonic nations settled within its former borders. Goths, Vandals, Burgundians and Franks had established their own kingdoms, and if any of them lost ground, it was not because of the superiority of the Romans, but of the other barbarians. Rome had long tried to suppress the peasants' revolt of the Bagaudae, but without lasting success, and this situation was rendered the more serious by the fact that the cause of the rebellion was oppressive taxation for which no workable remedy was found. Britain was cut off from Rome by Saxon raids and by her own dissensions. The Vandals were in possession of the former province of Africa, the granary of Rome and the great center of Christian teaching. Salvian's debt to Tertullian, Cyprian, Lactantius and Augustine was so great that he recalled with difficulty that many of his readers thought the home of these Fathers remote from them, and were little concerned in its ruin.35 Salvian's own home in the Rhineland had been several times ravaged by the Franks. The success of Aetius in checking disintegration during the years of his leadership seemed due in no small part to his shrewdness in alliances and his discretion in granting favorable terms to the Goths and Vandals for security against an aggression with which he might not be able to cope directly. His success was more than once endangered by the lack of prudence and cooperation among his subordinates.36

Rome herself opened her gates to fur-clad satellites, 
And was captive ere her capture.37

Everywhere the growing disproportion between the expenses and the income of the Empire led to taxation that would have been |23 heavy under the most favorable circumstances. With the opportunities for privilege and graft that the nobles in the imperial hierarchy could always find, against which the more lowly could only struggle impotently, this became unendurable. Salvian's picture of the times does not stand alone : it is gloomy in comparison with that of Sidonius Apollinaris in his letters, and yet Sidonius gives ample evidence to confirm much of Salvian's detail. It is more gloomy than that of Ausonius in his verses, but a man who had resigned all that he had to seek God's peace, could hardly be expected to find the continuance of the elegant pleasures of society in southern Gaul a cause for light-heartedness. It must be remembered also that matters had improved somewhat, though temporarily, in the generation between Salvian's book and the letters of Sidonius.38 Salvian's sympathies for the poor and oppressed were very great, the greater because he had himself become poor, though oppression could not touch him personally in any respect for which he now cared. From his new point of view, the good men in the upper orders at Rome were too few to count. The best of those who still lived in the world were very far from following the teachings of Christ. That poor men and slaves might be quite as wicked as the rich, if a sudden access of fortune made it possible, did not alter the reality of the oppression they suffered. That lack of a sturdy middle class, the importance of which during the period of decline of the Roman power Rostovtzeff has so vividly emphasized, is abundantly illustrated in Salvian's curious picture of the society of his time.

He undertook, at a time when the task was as difficult as at any period of the world's history, to justify the ways of God to man, to prove his constant government of the world and his immediate judgment. This involved the proof not only that the orthodox Romans deserved their misfortunes, but that the pagan and heretic |24 barbarians merited their successes. It required also a satisfactory answer to the question why God had treated the Romans better when they were pagans than he did now that they were Christians. The latter question is never actually taken up, though Salvian promised at the beginning of the seventh book to answer it at the end of his work, if God should permit. But the end is missing.

It is inappropriate to judge the proofs that Salvian gives of the just judgment of God in the light of rational argument or historical criticism. He himself carefully denned his audience; his words were addressed to Christian Romans, not to pagans, heretics or barbarians. "For if I am addressing Christians, I do not doubt that I shall prove my case. But if I speak to pagans, I should scorn the attempt, not for any shortage of proofs, but because I despair of any profit in my discourse. Surely it is fruitless and lost labor, when a perverted listener is not open to conviction."39

Christianity and rationalism were to him inconsistent and mutually exclusive terms: "I am a man, I do not understand the secrets of God." 40 If his arguments seem at times to form a vicious circle, it is because he inevitably assumed as his basis the very points he was attempting to demonstrate. The great fact of the world, recognized by pagan philosophers and Christian theologians alike, was that God constantly governed and judged it; Lactantius had worked out philosophical and theological proofs of this in his Divine Institutions. Salvian deliberately adopted the groundwork furnished by his predecessor and made his indebtedness evident after the classical manner by direct though unacknowledged quotations. He was undertaking to reassure the Christian, not to instruct and convert the heathen or heretic; to enable the Christian to adjust his views of himself and of God to the dispensation under which he lived, and to effect such personal reformation as would take away the necessity of future punishment.41 |25 

The first two books formed the foundation for the whole, following Lactantius closely in form and drawing most of their non-Biblical citations from him. This preliminary portion of the work is largely homiletic in character, demonstrating the government and judgment of God by examples drawn from the earlier books of the Old Testament, and by "testimonies" from the Bible as a whole. In the third book Salvian definitely undertook to answer the question "why we Christians, who believe in God, are more wretched than all other men." The answer in various forms occupied the rest of his work, which became more and more a study of contemporary society and events as he proceeded. For he saw the calamities and disasters of the world as God's judgments on the gross immorality of the Roman people. Not only were the triumphant barbarians less wicked than the Romans, but, being either pagans or heretics, they deserved indulgence for sins committed in ignorance, not in full knowledge of the Christian law. As Matter ably pointed out, Salvian's indictment of the Christians furnished plentiful material to the pagans for attacks on Christianity,42 but Salvian might have countered that it was not the accusation but the crime that made such attacks possible. His ideal was that of ascetic Christianity, of poverty in this life for the sake of eternal salvation, but he was not one of those who looked for a speedy ending of the world, and the coming of the last judgment. He saw a |26 continuing world, which God's immediate and constant judgment no longer suffered to continue as it had when the Empire was intact, in which a new and potentially better regime was gradually being formed. Among the ancient Romans to whom "everything unknown seemed glorious" it was an old tradition that barbarians were freer of vice than civilized men. If Salvian at times seems to exaggerate this view, he had some support not only in the readiness with which men in conquered territory adapted themselves to a regime less oppressive than the old, but also in the actual flight of many Romans to barbarian protection from the demands of Roman fiscal agents. He was not alone in feeling that there were compensations in the partial breakdown of the old system. Paulinus of Pella had been one of the luxurious, self-centered Aquitanians of the type that Salvian accused; his lapses from virtue were considerable, though not such as to occasion censure among his peers. When his great estates were lost and he was living in comparative poverty and full repentance, he wrote his autobiography in verse as a thanksgiving for God's mercies to him.43 A like attitude is found in the poem of a husband to his wife, and also in a song on the divine providence, both formerly attributed to Prosper of Aquitaine.44 Salvian was trying to bring others to a similar frame of mind.

Augustine had employed the same argument in his Sermo de tempore barbarico, a brief homily very closely akin to Salvian's book, and with the same conclusion: the calamities of the world were due to the wrath of God, warning us that we should not neglect atonement for our sins. The theme is not infrequent elsewhere.

In his books Against Avarice Salvian dwelt constantly on the need of repentance and charity because of the imminent danger |27 of death: in his treatise On the Government of God he was concerned instead with the amendment and reformation necessary for continued life. Of one thing he is sure, that the true Christian cannot be wretched, and therefore a fuller Christianity is the only real solution of the problem. His arguments are by no means free from inconsistencies of detail. On one occasion, for example, slaves are described as generally better than their masters, while on another we learn that the best masters usually have bad slaves. But there is no inconsistency in the fundamental thesis.

The violence of his feeling made him no respecter of persons; in spite of his avowed desire to consider the priests of God as above reproach, he is so bitter in his denunciations of wickedness within the church that Bellarmine said of him: "His exaggeration of the vices of Christians and especially of the clergy of his time would seem excessive, did his words not proceed from true zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of souls." 45 And Guillon found the indictment of the church in the ninth chapter of the third book so violent that he could scarcely bring himself to transcribe it, and finally effected a compromise between loyalty to his church and his scholarly conscience by copying the translation of Père Bonnet, and so gaining his pious sanction for the overbold words.46

Salvian's irony is very marked, especially in the treatise Against Avarice. The abbé de la Rue, in one of his Lenten sermons, followed a quotation from Saivian by the words: "Voilà l'ironie de Salvien, mais discrète et charitable." 47 Salvian's friends, however, probably feared that it lacked discretion, and those against whom it was turned very likely felt it weak in charity; but it was seldom bitter. It is not inappropriate that the last sentence of the treatise On the Government of God that has come down to us displays an irony so |28 pronounced that recent editors have destroyed it by inserting a negative.48

V. Style and Latinity

Salvian's style justifies the praise of Gennadius. While it is not altogether free from the faults of the rhetorical taste of his time, it is never obscure and rarely overburdened. In his preface he stressed the importance of subject matter as compared with style, and declared that his work was meant to be salutary rather than eloquent. This emphasis on content rather than form did not produce crudeness but served in general as a controlling element against the excesses of the rhetorician. He is fond of antithesis, of figures of speech and series of balanced phrases; he has a marked predilection for alliteration, assonance and rhyme, fostered by his love of plays on words.49 His great fault is a wearisome repetition, a failing, however, that arises not so much from carelessness in style as from anxiety to hammer a point home. He runs out of words for his reiteration of a theme, and uses the same one till they are worn threadbare, yet this is a relief from the artificially varied phrases which the letter writers of his time would substitute. Indeed, his own letters are far more artificial than his other works. He was conscious of his wordiness, which may have been partly due to his preaching, and he speaks more than once of his fear that the prolixity of his style may arouse distaste in his readers.50 It is at least, as Gregoire remarked, sufficient to terrify the most intrepid of translators, yet Joseph Scaliger could rightly exclaim of Salvian's work: "Le beau livre que c'est, et une belle simplicity!" 51

Salvian's vocabulary was the source of much discussion among |29 the earlier editors. Having in their introduction lauded him as a second Demosthenes or Cicero, and explored the history of rhetoric for phrases in his honor, they found themselves compelled, when they turned from the general to the particular, to account for his use of words which Cicero had never employed. Eventually they explained the considerable number of late Latin words by the influence of his subject and of his many Biblical quotations. Most of the late Latin and ecclesiastical words in his vocabulary are found also in Tertullian, Lactantius, Hilarius, Cyprian and Sidonius Apollinaris; others reflect the language of the jurists. In common with the other writers of his day, he shows a noticeable but not excessive fluidity of word formation, a fondness for negative adjectives and for diminutives, the latter usually to give a sense of humility or of sympathy and pity. A few of them are rather sesquipedalian formations, as the excusatiuncula and deprecatiuncula of the second chapter of the third book Against Avarice.

A recent thorough study of his use of moods and tenses resulted in the conclusion that, in spite of frequent departures from the pure classical norm, Salvian cannot be accused of negligence or lack of skill; that he followed fixed rules, though not always those of the best classical Latinity.52

A very large proportion of his material is drawn from the Bible or from his own and contemporary experience. Aside from his direct and purposed use of Lactantius in the first two books 53 and from natural reminiscences of both Lactantius and Tertullian when writing of a subject which they had considered from the same point of view as his (e.g., on the games), he seems deliberately to avoid obvious citations and quotations other than those from the Bible. Yet there is ample evidence that his memory was well stocked with pagan and earlier patristic literature. His reticence in quotation from secular authors is distinctly at variance with the |30 habit of his times, and corresponds to his general strictures on the rhetorical ideal of literary composition. He cites Vergil and Cicero as the authors of quotations only when the latter are drawn from Lactantius, although elsewhere there are clear reminiscences of both. His acquaintance with the works of Seneca is indicated by several passages in which the resemblance between the thought and ideas of the two authors is unusually striking. Rittershausen cites parallels from Minucius Felix almost as often as from Seneca, but for most of these equally close parallels may be found in Lactantius, so that no other source need be considered. The obvious extent of Salvian's education makes it an unnecessary strain on one's credulity to believe with some commentators that all the similarities to known passages in the works of pagan authors are due to chance, and none to his personal knowledge of the books concerned.

The result of his method of allusion is very satisfactory; classical reminiscences are readily apparent to the reader with a well stocked mind, but do not intrude themselves on the less informed, to distract his attention from the argument. Nor was there any risk of seeming to set pagan writers on a level with biblical authority. The frequent biblical quotations are drawn most commonly from the old Itala versions, but Salvian also used the translation of Jerome occasionally; indeed, with his friend Eucherius he was among the first of the Christian writers in Gaul to employ the new text.54 His citations are rather loose, and where the same passage is quoted more than once, there are sometimes variations in the wording. The translation of his numerous biblical quotations presents some difficulty. It is, of course, natural and almost inevitable to use the familiar and beautiful text of the King James Version, and in general I have done this, even in some cases where Salvian's wording might suggest a slightly different rendering. In several |31 passages, however, either marked differences between Salvian's text of the Bible and that on which the King James Version is based, or his rather free adaptations of the text to its setting in his argument, have required corresponding changes in the English rendering.

VI. The Editions of Salvian's Works

Schoenemann distinguished three ages in the editions of Salvian;55 the first, from 1528 to 1580, is that in which the two major works were published. The treatise Against Avarice was issued by Sichardus at Fol near Basle in 1528: two years later Brassicanus published in the same city his editio princeps of the books On the Government of God, based apparently on the extant Vienna manuscript of the fifteenth century (MS Vindobonensis 826). The next period, from 1580 to 1663, was dominated by the editions of Pierre Pithou, the first of which, published at Paris in 1580, was so much in demand that it soon came, as Baluze said, to have almost the rarity of a manuscript. This was the more unfortunate, as the several reprints were inferior.56 In 1611 Conrad Rittershausen published an edition at Altdorf, with far more copious notes than those of previous editors. He seems to have been the first to find much space for commentary on other points than the establishment of the text, and included literary and juristic references of considerable interest and value. His edition, however, was little used outside of Germany.

In the third period, as Schoenemann says, solus regnat Baluzius. Stephen Baluze published his first edition of Salvian's works together with the Commonitorium of Vincent of Lérins in 1663, and this rapidly superseded the earlier editions. Using the tenth century manuscript of Corbie (Paris, Bibl. Nat. MS Lat. 13385), by |32 far the best of existing manuscripts, he was able to construct a text superior to any previously published. The commentary of Baluze has formed the basis, often unacknowledged, of many notes on Salvian since, a source of information which one could not afford to overlook. His work is chiefly cited now in the fourth edition, published in 1742 at Stadtamhof.

Here end Schoenemann's three ages; but as far as the text is concerned, Baluze has been dethroned in our present age, first by Halm in 1877 and then by Pauly in 1883.57 Since notes in these modern editions are limited to the apparatus criticus, Baluze still reigns in the field of commentary. Meanwhile, from the sixteenth century to the early nineteenth, there have been numerous lesser editions, frequently pirated from those more famous.58

VII. Estimates of Salvian 's Work

When Brassicanus published his first edition of Salvian's treatise On the Government of God, he found ready applause for his achievement in rescuing so great a work from the dust and spider webs of a thousand years; the occasion was a fitting one for those |33 odes which his contemporaries so loved to write. Perhaps his romantic tale of the manuscripts he had found at Buda in the libraiy of his friend Matthew Corvinus, king of Bohemia, just before its destruction by the Turks, absorbed his friends' interest so far that they forgot the scribes who had made this edition possible by their earlier copies of the book. While we have no other evidence for the reading of Salvian's books between the date of Gennadius' account, which seems to be the source of the scanty later mentions, and Sichardus' publication of Against Avarice in 1528, the manuscripts lend their testimony that copies were made, corrected, and presumably read, in the tenth century, and in the twelfth, thirteenth and fifteenth as well. The scholars of the sixteenth century were not unlike some of our own days in considering those ages dark of which they knew little.

Once printed, however, Salvian's works enjoyed great popularity. Jurists, including Sirmond, Cujas, Godefroi and Rittershausen, whose notes on Salvian are packed with legal references, consulted his books and cited them extensively in their studies of the Roman codes. The French clergy during four centuries found that he furnished material so appropriate to the personal vices and social disorders of their own times that they emulated the earlier bishops of Gaul in preaching Salvian's sermons instead of writing their own.59 When Bossuet called him "le saint et éloquent prêtre de Marseille" his clerical readers must have assented with due gratitude. A German translator also praises his usefulness for the clergy in furnishing them so rich a source of Schönheiten and practical suggestions, that they should never let his works leave their hands.60 Historians found his work of great value, |34 especially when the current interpretation of history was most sympathetic to his constant reiteration: "It is only our vicious lives that have conquered us." So Johannes Jovianus Pontanus pointed out Salvian's special distinction in that, while writing of Christ and Christian topics, he had yet joined with these "very many histories and events of his own age, and commented sagely on them in the course of his account." 61 Zschimmer cites a long list of historians who have made extensive use of him; of these Guizot and Gibbon are the best known to us now, but many not named by Zschimmer would need to be added to bring the list up-to-date.62 Indeed of late years Salvian seems to have been cited more than read. It is difficult to find a history of the period that does not refer to him, or a source book of ancient or medieval history that does not quote at least one of half-a-dozen famous passages, but the text itself is little read.

That this neglect has been a distinct loss to students of the later days of the Roman power in the west, will, I trust, be apparent even to those who make their acquaintance with Salvian through the medium of a translation. Since, however, a study of his works inevitably engenders the habit of reference to "authority," I shall not leave our author without this support. Know, then, that Pierre Pithou called Salvian "a most excellent author," Joseph Scaliger named him "the most Christian writer." Rittershausen, one of the most enthusiastic of editors, considered his opinions not only wholesome and holy,63 but fully apostolic, and judged, therefore, that Salvian should be deemed master not only of bishops, but of the whole Christian world as well.

[Footnotes moved to the end]

1. 1 Salvian De gubernatione Dei VII. 23.

2. 2  Ibid., VII. 1.

3. 3 Ad ecclesiam IV. 8.

4. 4 Gennadius, Catalogus virorum illustrium, c.68; written about A.D. 490-495.

5. 5 See Symmachus Ep. II. 35.

6. 6 These unfounded claims have a curious echo in the statement of a recent writer that Salvian was "priest and probably bishop." Holland, "The Crash of Empire," Dublin Review, CLXXVII (1925), 2.

7. 7  See, for example, the notes of Baluze, Salviani opera (1742), p. 356.

8. 8 He regularly appears as "Saint Salvianus" in the catalogue entries in the Harvard College Library.

9. 9 See Zschimmer, Salvianus (Halle, 1875), p. 6.

10. 10 Paulinus of Pella, Eucharisticos, 11.520-521.

11. 11 See Book VII. 12-13 and note 44, infra. His knowledge of Africa and his concern for it may be amply accounted for by its recent tragic history and also by the prominence of the African church. The Christian writers whose work chiefly influenced his were all connected with the African church except those whom he knew at Lerins and Marseilles. He may well have travelled in Africa.

12. 12 Gesta Treverorum, ed. Waitz, MGH, Scriptores, VIII, 157.

13. 13 Ep. 1. 5.

14. 14 See Book III. 10. 

15. 15 See Book VII. 3 and note 6. 

16. 16 Paulinus of Nola Carmen XI. 11. 49-68, in CSEL, XXX. 2.

17. 17 Ep. IV.

18. 18 Book VI. 13.

19. 19 See Haemmerle, Studia Salviana I (Landshut, 1893), 7.

20. 20 Vita S. Hilarii Arelatensis, 5 (Migne, PL, L, col. 1226).

21. 21 Eucherius, in a letter to his son Salonius prefaced to his Instructiones de quaestionibus difficilioribus veteris ac novi testamenti (CSEL, XXXI. 1, pp. 65-66), recalling his sons' teaching, wrote: "When you had scarcely reached the age of ten, you entered the monastery and were not only given training among that sacred brotherhood, but were reared up under our father Honoratus, first father of the islands and afterwards also master of the churches. There the teachings of the most blessed Hilarius, then a novice of the island, but now a most reverend bishop, formed you in all branches of spiritual study; a work completed by saints Salvian and Vincent, preeminent alike in eloquence and knowledge."

22. 22 Cooper-Marsdin, The History of the Islands of the Lérins (Cambridge, 1913), p. 49.

23. 23 Hilarius, Sermo de vita S. Honorati Arelatensis (Migne, PL, L, col. 1260) : the passage which he quotes is not found in Salvian's extant works.

24. 24 Cyprianus Vita S. Caesarii I. 5. 42 (Migne, PL, LXVII, col. 1021).

25. 25 Salviani opera (Venice, 1696), p. 3. 

26. 26 Ep. 8; cf. note 21, supra.

27. 27 Brakman suggests reading Pro reorum merito satisfactionis librum unum, which seems textually reasonable. He interprets this title as meaning a "book teaching how praiseworthy are sinners who atone for their sins to the satisfaction of God." Gennadius' account of Cassian 's works contains one De satisfactione paenitentiae, which is a simpler statement of the same subject. Mnemosyne, LII (1924), p. 181.

28. 28 See Peter Allix, "Dissertatio de Tertulliani vita et scriptis," in Oehler, Tertullianus, III (Leipzig, 1853), 76.

29. 29 Ep. IX. 20.

30. 30 Zschimmer, pp. 77-79.

31. 31 Geschichte der römischen Literatur (6th ed., Leipzig, 1913), III, 465.

32. 32 See H. K. Messenger, De temporum et modorum apud Salvianum usu, Preface, p. 1. The quotation occurs in Book IV. 1. Valran, Quare Salvianus magister episcoporum dictus sit (Paris, 1899), p. 5, suggests that the two works may have been composed during the same period.

33. 33 Ad ecclesiam IV. 9.

34. 34 "Appendix de Gennadii capite lxviii," Mnemosyne, LII (1924), 180.

35. 35 See Book VI. 12-13.

36. 36 Book VII. 9-10.

37. 37 Rutilius Namatianus De reditu suo II. 11. 49-50.

38. 38 Heitland; Agricola (Cambridge, 1921), pp. 426-432.

39. 39 Book III. 1.

40. 40 Ibid.

41. 41 Bury, in his appendix to Gibbon (The Decline and Fall of the Roman

Empire [London, 1901], III, 490), says: "So far as Salvian's arguments are concerned, there is nothing to add to Gibbon's criticism (ch. xxxv, note 12) that 'Salvian has attempted to explain the moral government of the Deity; a task which may be readily performed by supposing that the calamities of the wicked are judgments, and those of the righteous trials.' " I cannot feel that this is a true summary of the case. Granted that Salvian wrote in complete acceptance of the Christian faith and of scriptural authority, he has accomplished his purpose very definitely; that we may not be convinced by the same means may be our loss or our gain, according to the point of view, but can hardly affect his success; it would seem likely that his discussion had a favorable effect in encouraging those for whom it was written. A full discussion of Salvian's theology will be found in G. Bruni, Un apologista della Provvidenza (Rome, 1925).

42. 42 Histoire universelle de l'Eglise chrétienne, I, 455.

43. 43 Paulinus of Pella, Eucharisticos.

44. 44 Poema coniugis ad uxorem (Migne, PL, LI, coll. 611-615); Carmen de providentia divina (Ibid., 617-638).

45. 45 De scriptoribus ecclesiasticis (Brussels, 1719), p. 168.

46. 46 Bibliothèque choisie des Pères (Louvain, 1832), XXIV, 118.

47. 47 Quoted by Guillon, op. cit., p. 203, from de la Rue, Carême, II, 418.

48. 48 See H. K. Messenger, op. cit., sec. 48, and Book VIII. 5.

49. 49 See Wölfflin, " Allitteration und Reim bei Salvian," Archiv für lat. Lexikographie, XIII (1902-4), 41-49.

50. 50 For example, Book VIII. 1.

51. 51 Gregoire et Collombet, Oeuvres de Salvien (Paris, 1833), Introd., p. lix: Scaligerana (Amsterdam, 1740), p. 544.

52. 52 H. K. Messenger, op. cit. 

53. 53 Zschimmer, pp. 61 ff.

54. 54 Fr. Kaulen, Geschichte der Vulgata (Mayenee, 1868), p. 197. The paper of Ulrich, De Salviani scripturae sacrae versionibus, Neostadii ad H., 1892, I have not been able to consult.

55. 55 Bibliotheca historico-literaria Patrum, II (Leipzig 1794), 826.

56. 56 Yet such is the infrequency of the present demand for editions of Salvian, that Pithou's original edition could be had recently at a lower price than obscure editions with better bindings.

57. 57 C. Halm, Salviani presbyteri Massiliensis libri qui supersunt, MGH, Auctores Antiquissimi, I, 1, Berlin, 1877: Fr. Pauly, Salviani presbyteri Massiliensis opera quae supersunt, CSEL, VIII, Vienna 1883. I have used Pauly's text throughout, except for occasional emendations proposed by H. K. Messenger, De temporum et modorum apud Salvianum usu.

58. 58 For additions to the editions cited above, see G. Bruni, Un apologista della Provvidenza (Rome, 1925), 68-79, or Schoenemann, op. cit., pp. 825-833, reprinted in Migne, PL, LIII, cols. 13-24. For translations see also Ceillier, Histoire générale des auteurs sacrés, XV (Paris, 1748), p. 81, and Gregoire et Collombet, Introd. pp. lxiii-lxvii. The most useful of the translations are: S. Carlo Borromeo, Libro di Salviano Vescovo di Marsiglia contra gli Spettacoli ed altre Vanità del Mondo, Milan, 1579; Pere Bonnet, Nouvelle Traduction des Oeuvres de Salvien, et du Traite de Vincent de Lérins contre les Heresies, Paris, 1700; P. P. Gregoire et F. Z. Collombet, Oeuvres de Salvien, Paris, 1833; A. Helf, Des Salvianus acht Bücher über die göttliche Regierung, Kempten, 1877. In English, a part of the sixth book appeared in 1580 as "a second blast of retrait from places and theaters"; a translation of the whole work which I have been unable to consult, was published at London in 1700.

59. 59 Guillon, op. cit., cites Bossuet, Le Jeune, Joli, Massillon, Saurin, Cheminais, de la Rue and others as having made extensive use of Salvian. Gregoire and Collombet in their notes cite long passages from the sermons of de la Rue which are taken bodily from Salvian's works. Indeed, Guillon says he "has transported them almost entire into his sermons" (p. 143).

60. 60 A. Helf, Des Salvianus acht Bücher über die Göttliche Regierung (Kempten, 1877), p. 13.

61. 61 Cited among the elogia in Rittershausen's edition. 

62. 62 Salvianus, p. 54, note 1.

63. 63 Sanas et sanctas, the alliteration lawfully born of much reading of Salvian.

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