Friday, October 8, 2010

A Pause in the Posts

Fellow scholars, loyal readers, Pseudo-Isidore enthusiasts everywhere: There will, I fear, be a small break from posting while I tend to matters relating to my future employment (that is, while I try to convince some people at certain institutions to actually give me money for this). Back next week.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Eighteenth Letter (Item 24): Viginius to the Athenians

Now that we've started on Viginius we might as well finish him off.

Ages ago, I said that Pseudo-Isidore likes to assign his letters discrete tasks: He'll often let one letter in the name of a given pope handle the historical hook, and another letter carry the meat. The Viginius letters are a textbook example of this recurring phenomenon. The first brings out all the key arguments; the second has the Liber Pontificalis tie-in (anemic though it may be).

According to his LP bio, Viginius was a Greek and an Athenian philosopher, so here we have Ps. Viginius popping off a letter to the Athenians. It consists almost enitrely of snippets from 2 Corinthians and 1 and 2 Peter, though Ps. Viginius adds the odd sentence of his own. In the opening lines he says that he's quite joyful and happy on the Athenians' behalf, because (his own words now) he's heard that they're doing things that befit good Christians. Sometimes I think our forgers could do with a good freshman writing course: Show, don't tell. That sort of thing.

The letter goes on to say a lot of stuff we've heard before. Mainly, the Athenians should avoid the company of the  impious. Most of these exhortations come out of scripture, but Ps. Viginius does crop up about two-thirds of the way through to demand obedience to the apostolic see and emphasize that "great distance has to be kept between the faithful and the unfaithful." Then it's more scriptural citations to warn against impurity of the flesh (2 Cor. 7:1: "and the body!" Viginius adds, puzzlingly), and to advise that the day of the Lord will come like a thief.


Recipients: Athenians

Date: 20 February 138 (Magno et Camerino consulibus). Consuls as in the first Viginius letter, though the Liber Pontificalis offers consuls for both the beginning and the end of Viginius's pontificate, so the forgers could've changed it up if they'd wanted to.

Sources: the Bible (II Cor. 6:14, 16; 7:1, 4; I Peter 5:10-11; II Peter 2:4-10; 3:8-13); Liber Pontificalis (just for the historical hook and the consuls)

Words: 430

The Seventeenth Letter (Item 23): Viginius to All Christians

Well, our forgers haven't given Viginius a lot to say, but it's raining, my office is closed, and my copy of Hinschius is locked in said office, which means we'll have to do with one of the random photocopies I have hanging around my apartment.

This is the first of two entries for Ps. Viginius, and it's directed to everyone "living in apostolic faith and doctrine." He starts out by remarking that "God sent his son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and through sin he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the justice of the law might be fulfilled." These lines look original, which is a little unusual: (Emended after helpful correction: this is just Romans 8:3-4) Most often the opening words seem to be ripped from the arenga of some authentic letter from the Hispana (frequently Leo). So slightly unusual, but nothing to get excited about.

Then we get a long excerpt from an anti-Arian tract (by Hydatius?), which basically provides a lot of scriptural proofs that the son was sent by his father not only according to his divinity, but according to the flesh. Ergo, the father did not precede the son in any way and is not greater than the son; nor was the son born afterwards so that his divinity might seem less than the father's.

Otherwise, we read (salvo in omnibus Romanae ecclesiae privilegio) that no metropolitan is to hear any cases without the assistance of all his suffragans; if he does so, his suffragans are to correct him. Accusations of those greater by birth (maiorum natu) are once again forbidden, unless we're talking about criminal accusations; even then, though, the accusers have to be irreprehensible and to have shown, through public acts, that they are above all suspicion, that they lead upright lives and that their faith is solid. Also forbidden are all manner of peregrina negotia and iudicia, because bishops should choose their judges from among the fellow bishops of their province.

I know, I know, you've heard it all before: so have I, believe me. At the end we get some Ennodius snippets, which help Ps. Viginius to rage against those who persecute innocent brothers. Matthew is also brought in to help make the point: "For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again." We wrap up with some lines from a letter of Pope Martin I ("every kingdom divided against itself will not stand, and every regula and scientia divided against itself will not stand" either); and another of Leo the Great  (everyone should get along and not fight).


Recipients: all Christians

Date: 15 September 138 (Magno et Camerino consulibus: the start of his pontificate)

Sources: the Bible (Romans 8:3-4, Matt. 7:2); Hydatius (?), Liber contra Varimandum; Capitula Angilramni; Lex Romana Visigothorum; Benedictus Levita; Ennodius; letter of Pope Martin I; Liber Pontificalis (only for the consuls)

Words: 870