Ambrose and the Senatorial Aristocracy
Quintus Aurelius Symmachus
340-402 Virius Nichomachus Flavianus
proconsul Africa 373 Vettius Agorius Praetextatus
praefectus urbi 384-5 Macrobius
consul 391 Servius / Historia Augusta
334 Aurelius Ambrosius born while father was Praetorian Prefect of Gaul
365 A. as advocatus for the Praet. Praef.
370 A. appointed consularis of Liguria-Aemilia, residence in Milan
355 - 10/374 Auxentius, Arian bp. of Milan; election of Ambrose
8/9/378 Battle of Adrianople
378 Gratian requests books de Fide
1/19/379 Theodosius nominated Aug. by Gratian
382 - disestablishment of paganism by Gratian;
- first petition of Senate to Gratian, refuses audience to Symmachus
383 Augustine in Rome
384 summer second petition of Senate on Altar of Victory to Valentinian II (13 yrs. old)
autumn Augustine nominated by Symmachus as professor of rhetoric in Milan
385 Jerome leaves Rome for the east
7/386 conversion of St. Augustine & his withdrawal to Cassiciacum
4/24/387 baptism of Augustine (388 returns to Africa)
12/388 affair concerning synagogue destruction at Callinicum
389 third petition of Senate on Altar of Victory
4/390 massacre of hippodrome crowd at Thessalonica
10-12/390 penance of Theodosius before Ambrose in Milan
391 destruction of Serapeum in Alexandria;
Augustine forcibly ordained
8/392 Valentinian II killed,
Eugenius proclaimed emperor by Arbogast the Frank
393 Eugenius and Arbogast invade Italy
9/6/394 battle of the Frigidus River, defeat of Eugenius by Theodosius
1/17/395 death of Theodosius
395/6 Augustine elected bp. of Hippo Regius
4/4/397 death of Ambrose
397 Augustine's Confessions
402 Prudentius's Contra Symmachum
Ambrose, letter 17:
Does Ambrose's 1st letter seem like a carefully
How does he deal with the issue of Valentinian's youth?
Does he threaten him?
How does he deal with the toleration granted by Valentinian's father, Valentinian I?
Symmachus, relatio 3:
Why does Symmachus think the current political/military situation merits keeping the Altar?
Why is the Altar good for the Senate (& consequently good for the emperor)?
How would you describe the heart of his argument? (3.8-10)
How do various religious rites and practices fit into his outlook?
In what way does he rely upon the argument from Rome's history?
Is he advocating that Valentinian renounce Christianity?
Ambrose, letter 18:
How does Ambrose reply to Symmachus's historical arguments?
According to Ambrose, how did Rome achieve so many military victories?
Does he have much sympathy for pagan rites lacking state support?
What use does he make of martyrs and consecrated virgins in his argument?
How does he reply to Symmachus's "many paths" argument? Compare with Acts 17:22-31
Which one seems more persuasive to you?
What would you have done if you were Valentinian II?