Envoys and Political Communication in the Late Antique West, 411-533

By Andrew Gillett | Go to book overview

Appendix II
CHRONOLOGY OF THE LIFE OF
EPIPHANIUS OF PAVIA

The chronology for the life of Epiphanius offered in chapter 4 differs by one year from that of e.g. Cook and Cesa.1PCBE offers a chronology similar to chapter 4, but without a full justification.2 The central datum in any reconstruction of the chronology of Epiphanius' life is the date of his embassy to Euric, during the reign of Nepos, in the eighth year of Epiphanius' episcopate.3 Cook places the embassy in spring 475 on the following basis: Nepos ruled in Italy from 19 or 24 June 474 (summer) to 28 August 475 (summer); Ennodius indirectly refers to the season during which Epiphanius undertook the embassy as spring by a passing mention of spring rains; therefore only spring 475 is possible. But the evidence in the Vita of the season in which Epiphanius undertook his embassy is very slight. In fact, as far as it goes, the text suggests summer, not spring: during stops at mansiones on the journey to Toulouse, Epiphanius regularly draws apart from his retinue to pray by himself, under the shade of trees for protection from the sun, where, prostrate on the verdant grass, his tears water the soil which is parched for want of rain.4 This is hardly an explicit time indicator, but it has the virtue at least of autopsy, for Ennodius accompanied Epiphanius on the journey to Toulouse. The references to the heat of the sun, the verdant grass, and the dry soil suggests the heat of summer, not the rains of spring. If the journey was undertaken in summer, then the summer of either 474 or 475 is possible.

Nepos was made caesar in Ravenna at an unknown date in early 474, prior to his elevation as emperor in Rome in June; presumably from this point he controlled northern Italy.5 His summons of the Ligurian council is more probably to be dated to his period as caesar than after his imperial elevation: he was, as caesar, in northern Italy, whereas he is attested in Rome between his imperial elevation and his expulsion by Orestes.6 Before marching on Glycerius in Rome, he will have wished to protect his rear from Gothic intrusions, which Epiphanius' mission aimed to prevent. Vita

1 Cook, Life of St Epiphanius, 9 n. 6; Cesa, Introduction and Commentary to Vita del Epifanio 14 n. 19, 165–8.

2PCBE ii, ‘Epiphanius 1’, 637–41.

3 Ennodius, Vita Epiphani, 81.

4 Ennodius, Vita Epiphani, 84: eligebat secessum nerorea fronde conclusum. ubi conexis arborum brachiis nox domestica texeretur, quod solum refugus per umbracula opaca sol nesciret, et totum vivrdanti cespite gratia naturalis sterneret, ibi profusus in oratione continuis fletibus exortem pluviarum terram oculorum imbribus inrigabat.

5 See above, chapter 4, nn. 226–7.

6Auctarii Havn. ad Prosper. ordo priores, s.a. 475.1; Anon. Val. ii, 7.36; Gillett, ‘Rome, Ravenna’, 154–5.

-284-

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