De Officiis - Vol. 1

By Ambrose; Ivor J. Davidson | Go to book overview

Many of these recipients must have been disappointed by what they read. Ambrose does not offer a systematic response to Cicero, but a hastily constructed and somewhat untidy synthesis, pervaded by what, to such readers, were the unappealing textures of biblical authority. Nevertheless, his message is perfectly clear. Pagan onlookers are to appreciate that ecclesiastical officialdom is interested in gentlemanly behaviour, but that it consciously pursues far higher goals besides, for it knows that its duty is owed in the first instance to God. The Ciceronian norms fall short of the standards prescribed and exemplified in the Scriptures. The clergy is not so much a continuation of a classical élite, in fact, as its superior successor. Ambrose is not interested in forging artificial correlations, but in demonstrating a wholesale takeover. In a mature Christian empire, he makes bold to say, the pagan account of officia ought really to have a raison d'être no longer. 167


VII Constructing an Ecclesial Community: Ambrose's Ethical Vision

(i) Ambrose's Episcopate Prior to De Officiis

One of the most significant achievements of Ambrosian scholarship in recent years has been to demonstrate that Ambrose's establishment of a Nicene hegemony 168 in Milan was a much more complex process than has traditionally been assumed. The simplistic picture painted in Paulinus' Vita and other conventional accounts, in which Ambrose stamped his orthodoxy upon his church right from the start, is now widely recognized to be unreliable. Ambrose in fact spent much of his episcopate struggling against an assortment of powerful enemies, and the influence which he came to exercise in the

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De Officiis - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Ambrose iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations xii
  • Note on Cicero Citations xxiii
  • Abbreviations and Editions of Other Works by Ambrose xxiv
  • Introduction 1
  • II- Date 3
  • III- Model 6
  • IV- Themes and Perspectives 19
  • V- Composition 33
  • VI- Purpose of the Work 45
  • VII- Constructing an Ecclesial Community- Ambrose''s Ethical Vision 64
  • VIII- The Influence of de Officiis 96
  • IX- Latinity 105
  • Text and Translation 113
  • Book 1 439
  • Book 2 692
  • Book 3 802
  • Select Bibliography 909
  • Indexes 953
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