reflect other preoccupations, and in each of them there will be truth, even if not truth in all its unattainable fullness.

The present book too manifests its author’s own concerns and beliefs. Chief among them, if not always directly expressed, is the conviction that Ambrose was above all a man of the spirit, whose activities in the public forum were guided overwhelmingly by spiritual considerations, however ill conceived they occasionally were. It is impossible, at least for me, not to posit a deep spirituality in a man in whose writings the mystical meaning of the Song of Songs plays so prominent a role, and who was capable of composing such extraordinary hymns. Bernard of Clairvaux comes to mind as an analogous figure—a redoubtable personage in the political affairs of twelfth-century Europe who was also, and more importantly, an interpreter of the Song of Songs and an accomplished hymnodist.

The purpose of this book, in any event, is quite simply to make Ambrose better known to the reader, and to show as many aspects of him as can be fitted into a limited number of pages. The opening chapter on Ambrose and his times is followed by a series of new translations of some of his own writings, which it is hoped will display the versatility of Ambrose’s interests and allow the reader the opportunity of more or less direct exposure to him. Paulinus of Milan’s classic account of his hero’s life concludes the book; it is so crucial to our image of Ambrose that it did not seem right to omit it.

My thanks go in a special way to Dr Carol Harrison, the editor of this series, whose encouragement made my efforts less onerous. I also want to express my gratitude to my friend Father George Lawless, O.S.A., whose kindly hand is present here on several levels. Of course any errors or infelicities are mine alone.

B.R.

4 April, 1997

-x-

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Ambrose
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • List of Abbreviations xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Works 55
  • 3 - Translations 69
  • 4 - Paulinus of Milan, the Life of Saint Ambrose 195
  • Notes 219
  • Bibliography 233
  • Index 235
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