Power, the episcopacy and elite culture in the post-Roman Rhone Valley

Dodd, Leslie (2007) Power, the episcopacy and elite culture in the post-Roman Rhone Valley. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: http://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b2625115

Abstract

This thesis discusses a number of issues related to the relationship between Gallo-Roman aristocrats and political power in Gaul during the fifth and sixth centuries. The first chapter opens with a discussion of classical literary culture and its role in defining and maintaining elite status in the later Roman empire while the second discusses epistolary literature specifically and the function of letter-writing in the period when Roman political power was fading and barbarian authority was only beginning to assert itself in Gaul. I show how individuals like Sidonius clung, in a world that was swiftly becoming entirely post-Roman, to a Roman cultural and political identity, while others, such as Syagrius, embraced the opportunities afforded by the barbarian regna. In my third chapter, I consider the growth of the ecclesiastical aristocracy and examine the ways in which those Gallo-Romans who entered the church redefined their position, creating, in the process, new criteria for the definition and expression of romanitas and nobilitas. I examine, in particular, the growth of aristocratic asceticism as a means for Roman nobles to gain new relevance and credibility in Gaul without having to enter barbarian service. I move on, in my fourth chapter, to examine the part played by aristocratic kinship in Episcopal elections in fifth and sixth century Gaul. In the fifth chapter I argue that Gallic bishops of the period were rarely interested in complex theology - or evangelism - and that modern expectations in this respect are at odds with the extant evidence. In this context, I look particularly at the famous monastery of Lérins, which is usually held to have been a great school of theology and centre of religious thought. Not only was Lérins not a theological centre, in fact very few bishops had any interest in theology. In each of the remaining four chapters, I examine some facet of the life and career of Caesarius of Arles whose career and attitudes not only represent an acute departure from the Episcopal aristocrat norm but also actually swept away much of the extant Episcopal culture and established the pattern for following bishops.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Classics
Funder's Name: UNSPECIFIED
Supervisor's Name: Supervisor, not known
Date of Award: 2007
Depositing User: Adam Swann
Unique ID: glathesis:2007-7961
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2017 11:52
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2017 11:52
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/7961

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