CLAUDIANUS MAMERTUS

Eminent representative of the renaissance in Narbonese Gaul at the end of the Western empire. Born between 420 and 430, perhaps at Vienne; he passed his youth at Lyon, where he listened to the debates of Bishop Eucherius bishop 434 450 and received a literary education together with his lifelong friend Sidonius Apollinaris, who provides our knowledge of him; he was then a priest at Vienne and collaborator with the bishop, his brother, and animator of philosophical and doctrinal debates among a group of learned friends. Adversary of the semi-Pelagian Faustus of Riez, against whom he wrote, ca. 470, De statu animae, dedicated to Sidonius Apollinaris; the work refutes a work of Faustus, today identified as the last part of Epistle 3, which at that time circulated anonymously. In this treatise in three books, making particular use of Plato, Neoplatonism and neo-Pythagoreanism perhaps mediated by Apuleius and Latin translations and compendiums and among Christian authors, Gregory of Nazianzus, Ambrose and esp. Augustine, he refutes, with dialectical rigor and some literary charm, the theory of the material nature of the soul, accepted earlier by Tertullian and tenaciously followed by Faustus, and upholds the spiritualist theory of its immateriality. Of Claudianus’s two remaining letters, particularly important is that addressed to Sapaudus, a rhetor teaching at Vienne; it gives evidence of the cultural crisis in 5th-c. Gaul due to widespread negligence and incompetence. Praised by Sidonius Ep. 14 as a philosopher, orator, poet, exegete and defender of orthodoxy, he probably wrote other works, including a hymn in trochaic verses and a lectionary, both cited by Sidonius. He is remembered as a rhetor and philosopher by Gennadius De vir. ill. 84; his metaphysical speculation on the soul was popular in the Middle Ages up to the time of Abelard and Alan of Lille.

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