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Chapter Four "Priscillianist" Heresy Inquisitions at Toledo and Tarragona

1. Severus, Chron. 2.51; Hydatius, Chron. 16, an. 387. [BACK]

2. "In fact, in some respects Priscillianism seems to have replaced Manichaeism in Spain and southern Gaul as a homebred idiom of heresy with which people articulated unacceptable aspects of their communities" (Van Dam, Leadership , p. 108). [BACK]

3. E.g., Braga I (561). [BACK]

4. The term Priscillianistae appears in five anti-heretical laws of the Codex Theodosianus ; of these, two were issued in the west and appear to refer to the Spanish sect (16.5.40, 16.5.43), while three were issued in the east and appear to refer to the followers of the Montanist prophet Priscilla (16.5.48, 16.5.59, 16.5.65) (cf. Jones, Later Roman Empire , 3: 323-324 n. 33). [BACK]

5. E.g., Augustine, De haeresibus 70 (c. 429). Augustine may get the term from the Galician Orosius, whose Commonitorium de errore Priscillianistarum et Origenistarum (414) represents the earliest extant use of the vocabulary of "Priscillianism" of which I am aware. See Introduction, n. 7, above. [BACK]

6. E.g., Henry Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila , pp. 174-76, 181-85, and id., "The New Letters of St. Augustine," Journal of Theological Studies , n.s., 34 (1983): 434-36. [BACK]

7. These include (1) the Transcript of the Professions Held in the Council of Toledo against the Sect of Priscillian (hereafter Exemplar ) (critical edition by Henry Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila , pp. 234-39), and (2) the Acts of the Council of Toledo (400) (hereafter ACT ). There is also a third document traditionally attached to the first Council of Toledo, a rule of faith with accompanying anathemas; this document occurs in both longer and shorter recensions. It is now generally acknowledged that neither of these versions of the Regula fidei was originally promulgated by the Council of Toledo. The shorter recension appears unrelated to Priscillianism and probably dates back to the period before the outbreak of the Priscillianist controversy. The longer recension is clearly an anti-Priscillianist work but appears to be considerably later than the first Council of Toledo; it has been suggested that it is the mid-fifth-century work of the Galician bishop Pastor (Barbero de Aguilera, "El priscilianismo: ¿Herejía o movimiento social?" pp. 25-36). [BACK]

8. Ep. 11* ( CSEL 88 [1981], pp. 51-70). This letter is part of a collection recently discovered by Johannes Divjak, including twenty-six new letters of Augustine and three of his correspondents. [BACK]

9. ACT , preface. [BACK]

10. Augustine ( Contra mendacium 5), Leo ( Ep. 15.16.1), and Hydatius ( Chron. 32, an. 400), also seem familiar with this portion of the council's minutes. [BACK]

11. On the manuscript tradition, see Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila , pp. 179-81, 234. [BACK]

12. ACT , ll. 1-9. It is almost universally assumed that Symphosius was bishop of the Galician capital Astorga, but as Van Dam points out, "his see is nowhere explicitly stated" ( Leadership , p. 109 n. 100). [BACK]

13. Exemplar , ll. 3-43. [BACK]

14. Exemplar , ll. 44-154. [BACK]

15. Exemplar , ll. 70-74. [BACK]

16. Exemplar , ll. 74-94. [BACK]

17. Exemplar , ll. 82-84, 90-103. The openings filled by Symphosius' ordinations may have resulted in part from the spread of Christianity into the Galician countryside and the corresponding emergence of new rural episcopacies. Alain Tranoy highlights the importance of the emergence of the villae and the reoccupation of the castra in fourth-century Galicia and notes that these social developments must have favored the proliferation of rural Christian communities ( La Galice Romaine , pp. 409-434, and "Contexto histórico del priscilianismo en Galicia en los siglos IV y V," in Prisciliano y el priscilianismo [Oviedo: Cuadernos del norte, 1982], pp. 78-79). It is unclear whether Dictinius was co-bishop of Astorga alongside his father Symphosius or ordained by Symphosius to lead one of the rural communities in the vicinity of Astorga. [BACK]

18. Exemplar , ll. 84-90. [BACK]

19. See Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila , p. 152 n. 3. [BACK]

20. Exemplar , ll. 78-81. [BACK]

21. Exemplar , ll. 25, 30, 31, 32-33, 37, 58, 59-60, 65-66. [BACK]

22. Exemplar , ll. 15-16. [BACK]

23. Exemplar , ll. 11-14, 17; 20; 87. Cf. Augustine, Contra mendacium 5. [BACK]

24. Dictinius cites Matthew 16.19 ( Exemplar , ll. 12-13), and Galatians 1.8-9 ( Exemplar , ll. 63-64); the latter passage is twice cited by Priscillian, once in an important statement on canon and orthodoxy ( Tract. 1, 7.11-13 and 30.11-20). [BACK]

25. Exemplar , ll. 25-26, 65-66. [BACK]

26. Exemplar , ll. 61-63. Cf. Comasius's statements ( Exemplar , ll. 38-43, 49-50). [BACK]

27. Priscillian, Tract. 6, 74.13. As Chadwick points out, Priscillian's use of the term innascibilis to emphasize the paradox of the birth of the unbegettable appears neither technical nor unorthodox ( Priscillian of Avila , pp. 88-89). [BACK]

28. Exemplar , ll. 27-30. [BACK]

29. Exemplar , ll. 34, 51. [BACK]

30. Exemplar , ll. 137-44. Innocent of Rome eventually responded to the Council of Toledo and supported its reinstatement of Symphosius and Dictinius ( Ep. 3). [BACK]

31. Exemplar , ll. 108-35. [BACK]

32. Exemplar , ll. 147-54. [BACK]

33. Hydatius, Chron. 32, an. 400. [BACK]

34. This seems to be the sense of the following passage: "[Symphosius] nullis libris apocryphis aut novis scientiis quas Priscillianus composuerat involutum; Dictinium epistolis aliquantis pene lapsum" ( Exemplar , ll. 84-85). [BACK]

35. Exemplar , ll. 18-23, 86. [BACK]

36. Augustine, Contra mendacium 5. Augustine is our sole informant, and he probably knew the Libra only through the distorted lens of Consentius' anti-Priscillianist writings; Consentius, a monk on the Balearic islands, may in turn have derived his information from the Galician Orosius (Van Dam, "Sheep in Wolves' Clothing," pp. 528-30). [BACK]

37. Augustine clearly attributes the defense of lying to Dictinius' Libra (Contra mendacium 35). The reliability of Augustine's report is compromised both by his source--Consentius--and by the close conformity of the reported content of Dictinius' work with Augustine's own stereotype of Manichaeans, with whom he categorized the Priscillianists. On the other hand, Augustine's refutation of Dictinius' position in Contra mendacium 26-34 consists of a fairly detailed discussion of scriptural passages cited as precedents for dissimulation, and both the level of detail and the scriptural emphasis suggest that Augustine may after all have had more than a simple caricature of Dictinius' position before him (see Anne-Marie la Bonnardière, "Du nouveau sur le priscillianisme ( Epist. 11*)," in Les Lettres de saint Augustin décourvertes par Johannes Divjak [Paris: Études augustiniennes, 1983], pp. 207-8, 212-13). In the end, we know too little about Dictinius' work to claim it as evidence for the existence of a secret or elitist sect of Priscillian in Galicia either before or after the Council of Toledo; cf. the discussion of Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila , pp. 155-56. [BACK]

38. Leo, Ep. 15.16.1. [BACK]

39. Hydatius remarks upon the confused elections and resulting shameful state of ecclesiastical order in Galicia: "deformem ecclesiastici ordinis statum creationibus indiscretis" ( Chron. pref. 7). Although he is apparently referring primarily to the disruption resulting from the barbarian invasions of Galicia, it appears that Galicia had no strong or clearly defined ecclesiastical hierarchy even before the invasions (Tranoy, La Galice romaine , pp. 409-34). [BACK]

40. Exemplar , ll. 147-52. [BACK]

41. As noted above, the Toledan bishops command that the churches from which their "brother Ortygius" had been driven away be returned to him ( Exemplar , ll. 153-54); the Galician chronicler Hydatius, who was familiar with the Acts of the Council of Toledo , further identifies Ortygius as a "bishop who had been ordained at Celenis, but was driven away by the powerful Priscillianist factions for his catholic faith and banished" ( Chron. 32, an. 400). Chadwick suggests that Exuperantius of Celenis, who sat among the bishops at Toledo, was a former Priscillianist who had replaced Ortygius but managed to dissociate himself from the Priscillianists before the council ( Priscillian of Avila , pp. 157, 171). Tranoy proposes alternatively that Ortygius was bishop of a small rural community in the neighborhood of Exuperantius' see of Celenis, noting that Hydatius states merely that Ortygius was "ordained at Celenis" and may thereby imply not that he was bishop of Celenis but that he was under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Celenis ( Hydace: Chronique , vol. 2 [Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1974], p. 30). Tranoy's proposal avoids the need to hypothesize that the Exuperantius who sat with the bishops at Toledo was a reformed Priscillianist; it now also has the support of his analysis of Galician social structure ( La Galice romaine , pp. 409-34, and ''Contexto histórico del priscilianismo en Galicia," pp. 78-79). One might compare the case of Astorga, where there also seem to have been at least two bishops, Symphosius and Dictinius, in or around a single city. [BACK]

42. Here the parallels with the use of the figure of Arius at the Council of Aquileia (381) are intriguing. [BACK]

43. Exemplar , ll. 3-4. [BACK]

44. Concilium Toletanum Primum. Decem et novem episcoporum actum Arcadii et Honorii temporibus sub die VII. Iduum Septembrium, Stilicone consule era CCCCXXXV. Cf. Exemplar , l. 44. [BACK]

45. ACT , preface. Patruinus' see is identified by Innocent ( Ep. 3.8). [BACK]

46. Nicea I (325), can. 4. In light of Symphosius' ordination of Dictinius as cobishop in Astorga and of the apparent existence of two bishops in Celenis, it is possible that Patruinus also had in mind a more obscure ruling in which the Nicene bishops instruct that former Novatianists who have been ordained to clerical office are to retain that office unless a situation results in which there are two bishops of one city; in that case, the former Novatianist bishop might be demoted to the rank of presbyter or "country bishop" (can. 8). With this ruling, the Nicene council (and perhaps also the Toledan council) supports a more urban and hierarchical ecclesiastical structure than seems to have been common among either the Novatianist or Galician Christians. [BACK]

47. Innocent indicates that the Galicians may not, however, have been the only ones failing to observe the Nicene canons in respect to episcopal ordinations. He reprimands two bishops of unspecified sees for their irregular ordinations following the Council of Toledo; at least one of these--Minicius--seems to have been from the Tarragonese province, since he ordained a bishop in Gerona, in the far east of that province ( Ep. 3.5). [BACK]

48. Hess, Canons of the Council of Sardica , pp. 36-38. [BACK]

49. Laeuchli, Power and Sexuality , p. 88. As Roger Gryson points out, the Council of Elvira (309) to which Laeuchli refers was somewhat precocious in this respect, and it was not until the late fourth century that the issue of clerical celibacy began to be seriously debated in Spain ( Les Origines du célibat ecclésiastique du premier au septième siècle [Gembloux: Éditions J. Duculot, 1970], pp. 180-82); indeed, Gryson considers it likely that can. 33 of the Council of Elvira, which requires that bishops, presbyters, and deacons observe sexual continence, is a late-fourth-century addition to the council's original rulings ("Dix ans de recherches sur les origines du célibat ecclésiastique," Revue theologique de Louvain 11 [1980]: 160-64). [BACK]

50. ACT , can. 1. [BACK]

51. Exemplar , ll. 149-52. [BACK]

52. See Sotomayor, "El canon 3," pp. 183-87. [BACK]

53. ACT , can. 14. [BACK]

54. ACT , can. 6. [BACK]

55. D. B. Botte, O.S.B., cites two other instances in which this term seems to indicate an ascetic: the title of a lost work by Macrobius the Donatist-- Ad confessores et virgines --and Jerome's use of confessio to indicate a religious now (Botte, "Confessor," Archivum Latinitatis Medii Aevi 16 [1942]: 137-48). [BACK]

56. The office of reader appears to have been established relatively early in Spain: the Passio S. Fructuosi, Augurii et Eulogii , which records the martydom of the bishop of Tarragona in 258, refers to a reader named Augustalis. See Alexandre Faivre, Naissance d'une hiérarchie: Les Premières Étapes du cursus clérical (Paris: Éditions Beauchesne, 1977), pp. 269-70. [BACK]

57. ACT , can. 7. [BACK]

58. ACT , can. 9. [BACK]

59. Relatively little is known of the development of the lucernarium and other daily prayers from practices of private devotion to "cathedral" or "monastic offices." Egeria, a contemporary ascetic from Spain or Gaul, was familiar with the lucernarium , perhaps in a monastic context ( Peregrinatio Egeriae 24). The bishops at Toledo appear to be establishing or protecting an episcopally led evening liturgy by opposing private devotions, at least in a nonmonastic context. [BACK]

60. The devota , in contrast to the professa mentioned in the ninth decision, is probably a virgin consecrated by the bishop. This hypothesis is supported by the council's particular concern with the sexual purity of devotae , who by episcopal consecration might be seen as "daughters" of the church or the bishop, and whose sexual purity was therefore closely associated with the honor of the higher clergy. [BACK]

61. Consentius to Augustine, Ep. 11*.9.2. [BACK]

62. In Ep. 12* Consentius indicates he first wrote Augustine in about 415 (Van Dam, "Sheep in Wolves' Clothing," p. 528). Lack of scholarly consensus as to whether the Consentius of Ep. 11* and Ep. 12* (both probably written in 419) is to be identified with the Consentii of Epp. 119 and 120 or Ep. 205 makes the extent and length of their correspondence debatable. Jules Wankenne supports the identification of the authors of Epp. 11*, 12*, and 119 ("Le Correspondance de Consentius avec saint Augustin," in Les Lettres de saint Augustin découvertes par Johannes Divjak [Paris: Études augustiniennes, 1983], pp. 225-42), while Van Dam is skeptical of such identification (''Sheep in Wolves' Clothing," pp. 532-35); more recently, Carol Quillen has reaffirmed the theory of a single Consentius as author of Epp. 119, 11*, and 12* ("Consentius as a Reader of Augustine's Confessions ," Revue des études augustiniennes 37 [1991]: 87-109, 87 n. 2). [BACK]

63. For the dating of the letter and events reported therein, see Van Dam, "Sheep in Wolves' Clothing," pp. 517-18. In 417, Patroclus was involved in intense struggles to support the newly asserted metropolitan rights of Arles. In the course of his struggles with the bishop of Marseilles, at least one of his opponents was accused of Priscillianism, a circumstance almost certainly related to Patroclus' interest in encouraging the proliferation of anti-Priscillianist literature. See Zosimus, Ep. 4.3; Van Dam, "Sheep in Wolves' Clothing," pp. 529-30; and Mathisen, Ecclesiastical Factionalism , pp. 48-60. [BACK]

64. Ep. 11*.1.1-3, 24.1. Consentius seems aware that the story might seem so amazing as not to be believable, and he assures Augustine: "de historiae veritate nulla cunctatio sit" ( Ep. 11*.24.2). Augustine appears to have retained certain doubts, pointing out to Consentius that Fronto's professed enthusiasm for lying might compromise the reliability of his tale ( Contra mendacium 4). M. Moreaux highlights similarities between Fronto's narrative and the hagiographical romances of the martyrological tradition and suggests that Fronto's account has at the very least been extensively embellished by Consentius ("Lecture de la Lettre 11* de Consentius à Augustin: Un Pastiche hagiographique?" in Les lettres de saint Augustin découvertes par Johannes Divjak [Paris: Études augustiniennes, 1983], pp. 215-22). I am less inclined to doubt the basic reliability of Fronto's account and would furthermore attribute any embellishing of the tale to Fronto himself, since there is evidence of a certain discrepancy between Consentius' framing of the story and the story itself, above all in Consentius' consistent use of the label "Priscillianist," which appears nowhere in Fronto's account. It is possible that Fronto had already put the account into writing before he reported it to Consentius; or perhaps Consentius actually had it transcribed by stenographers. [BACK]

65. Ep. 11*.21-27. If Consentius really intends to refer to Hippo with the phrase in ista praecipue urbe (27.3), his reliability as a witness to the spread of Priscillianism in the early fifth century is seriously compromised indeed. [BACK]

66. Ep. 11*.2.1. [BACK]

67. Ep. 11*.1.4-5. [BACK]

68. Contra mendacium 6. See La Bonnardière, ''Du nouveau sur le priscillianisme," pp. 206-7. [BACK]

69. Ep. 11*.2.2. It is puzzling that Consentius was able to identify Severa by name. Perhaps he knew her from a former sojourn in Tarragona or relied on reports from Fronto or some other correspondent. Or perhaps it was merely Consentius' generic description of heretics or Priscillianists that appeared to Fronto to point clearly to Severa. [BACK]

70. Ep. 11*.10.3-10. [BACK]

71. Ep. 11*.2.2. [BACK]

72. Van Dam emphasizes this lack of evidence confirming the identification of Fronto's "heretics" as "Priscillianists" ("Sheep in Wolves' Clothing," pp. 515, 523). Other scholars have accepted Consentius' assessment of the Tarragonese ''heresy," e.g., Henry Chadwick ("New Letters of St. Augustine," pp. 434-36), Manuel Díaz y Díaz ("Consencio y los priscilianistas," in Prisciliano y el priscilianismo [Oviedo: Cuadernos del norte, 1982], pp. 71-76), W. H. C. Frend ("The Divjak Letters: New Light on St. Augustine's Problems, 416-428," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 34 [1983]: 510-11), and La Bonnardière ("Du nouveau sur le priscillianisme," pp. 211-12). [BACK]

73. Ep. 11*.2.3; 3.1. [BACK]

74. Ep. 11*.2.5; 2.7. [BACK]

75. Ep. 11*.2.4-3.2. [BACK]

76. Ep. 11*.2.3; 3.3. [BACK]

77. Ep. 11*.2.7. Fronto suggests that Sagittius was motiviated by a desire to keep the "sweet poisons" of the books, which "insanely pleased him." But perhaps it was, rather, either personal loyalty to Severus or--on a more cynical interpretation--the perceived opportunity for blackmail that led Sagittius to send Titianus some, but not all, of the books. [BACK]

78. Ep. 11*.4.1. [BACK]

79. Ep. 11*.5-6. [BACK]

80. Ep. 11*.7.2-3; 4.3. Count Asterius is also known to us from Hydatius: "Vandali, Suevorum obsidione dimissa instante Asterio Hispaniarum comite" ( Chron. 74, an. 420). [BACK]

81. Ep. 11*.7.1. [BACK]

82. Ep. 11*.2.1. [BACK]

83. Ep. 11*.9.2-11.1. [BACK]

84. Ep. 11*.11.8; 12.2-13.10. [BACK]

85. Ep. 11*.15.1; 16. [BACK]

86. Ep. 11*.14.3-4. Presumably, Sagittius' story also somehow explained Severus' possession of the book supposedly in Syagrius' keeping. Fronto appears to be covering up certain aspects of Syagrius' involvement, since Syagrius had ultimately assisted Fronto. Although Sagittius and Syagrius both initially supported Severus, Fronto attributes this to heresy only in Sagittius' case, attributing Syagrius' actions to too much kindness and simplicity. Likewise, Fronto never explicitly states that Ursitio secretly restored the books to Syagrius as well as Sagittius or that the lie proposed by Sagittius would have protected Syagrius as well as Sagittius and Severus, although both seem likely. [BACK]

87. Ep. 11*.15.2-3. [BACK]

88. Ep. 11*.17.1-19.1. [BACK]

89. Ep. 11*.19.2-20.2. [BACK]

90. Ep. 11*.21.2. [BACK]

91. Ep. 11*.21-23. [BACK]

92. Ep. 11*.2.1. Fronto makes no mention of other members of his community, and Chadwick suggests that Fronto's monasterium may have been a mere hermit's cell ("New Letters of St. Augustine," p. 435). Van Dam is less sceptical, pointing out that monasteries are known to have existed at Tarragona ("Sheep in Wolves' Clothing," p. 515 n. 3). [BACK]

93. Ep. 11*.1.2, 12.2. [BACK]

94. Ep. 12*.2.3; cf. 12*.14.3. [BACK]

95. Contra mendacium 4. [BACK]

96. Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1967), pp. 132-37, and L. J. van der Lof, "The Threefold Meaning of Servi Dei in the Writings of Saint Augustine," Augustinian Studies 12 (1981): 43-59. [BACK]

97. Ep. 11*.5.1; 13.1; 7.3. [BACK]

98. Ep. 11*.14.2, 15.1, 15.3, 18.3, 19.3. [BACK]

99. Ep. 11*.14.2, 15.3. [BACK]

100. Van Dam, "Sheep in Wolves' Clothing," p. 525. [BACK]

101. Ep. 12*.14.1. This rhetorical stance is discussed by Quillen in the context of Consentius' response to "the power which is attributed . . . to reading itself" in Augustine's Confessions ("Consentius as a Reader of Augustine's Confessions ," 91). [BACK]

102. Ep. 11*.2.3, 4.3, 11.8. [BACK]

103. Ep. 11*.17.5; 3.2. [BACK]

104. Ep. 11*.16.3. [BACK]

105. Fronto may have insulted Asterius' "very powerful" daughter, but both the reliability and the content of this claim are uncertain; see Ep. 11*.7.2, 9.2. [BACK]

106. Roland Delmaire, "Contribution des nouvelles lettres de saint Augustin à la prosopographie du Bas-Empire Romain ( PLRE )," Les Lettres de saint Augustin découvertes par Johannes Divjak (Paris: Études augustiniennes, 1983), pp. 83, 86, and Van Dam, "Sheep in Wolves' Clothing," p. 519. [BACK]

107. Severa is at least not likely to have been extremely young, since Asterius' daughter--herself no longer a child--is identified as Severa's granddaughter or niece: "[Severa] ad neptis suae Asterii comitis filiae potentissimae feminae auxilium convolaret" ( Ep. 11*.4.3). [BACK]

108. Ep. 11*.3.3, 9.2. [BACK]

109. The bishops of the Baetican and Carthaginian provinces in Spain originally protested the reacceptance of the reformed Dictinius by the Council of Toledo. However, Innocent of Rome supported his reinstatement ( Ep. 3.2-4), and Augustine still considered Dictinius a Catholic, corrected of his error ( Contra mendacium 5). [BACK]

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