Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ID
ER 2401
Eugippius, a presbyter and abbot of the monastery in Castellum Lucullanum near Naples (Italy) writes a letter to the deacon Paschasius of Rome in which he mentions reading a life of the monk, Bassus from a monastery near Rimini, written by a lay man, included in a letter to an unnamed presbyter. The said lay man wanted to write also about Severinus, monk of Noricum, but Eugippius deemed this task more proper for a clerical writer. Written in Castellum Lucullanum in 511.
<EUGIPPI EPISTOLA AD PASCHASIUSM>
 
Domino sancto ac uenerabili Paschasio diacono Eugippius in Christo salutem
 
1. Ante hoc ferme biennium, consulatu scilicet Inportuni, epistola cuiusdam laici nobilis ad quendam directa presbyterum nobis oblata est ad legendum, continens uitam Bassi monachi, qui quondam in monasterio montis, cui uocabulum est Titas, super Ariminum commoratus, post in Lucaniae regione defunctus est, uir et multis et mihi notissimus, quam epistolam cum a quibusdam describi cognoscerem, coepi mecum ipse tractare nec non et uiris religiosis edicere tanta per beatum Seuerinum diuinis effectibus celebrata non oportere celari miracula.
2. Quae cum auctor epistolae praefatae rescisset, animo promptiore mandauit, ut aliqua sibi per me eiusdem sancti Seuerini mitterentur indicia, quibus instructus libellum uitae eius scriberet posterorum memoriae profuturum. Hac ego protinus oblatione compulsus commemoratorium nonnullis refertum indiciis ex notissima nobis et cottidiana maiorm relatione composui, non sine magno maerore animi, iniustum scilicet reputans, ut te superstite laicus a nobis hoc opus efficere rogaretur, cui et modus et color operis non sine praesumptione quadam possit iniungi, ne forsitan saeculari tantum litteratura politus tali uitam sermone conscriberet, in quo multorum plurimorum laboraret inscitia et res mirabiles, quae diu quadam silentii nocte latuerant, quantum ad nos attinet ignaros liberalium litterarum obscura disertitudine non lucerent. [...]
 
(ed. Régerat 1991: 146, 148)
<THE LETTER OF EUGIPPIUS TO PASCHASIUS>
 
To the holy and venerable lord, the deacon Paschasius, Eugippius (sends) a greeting in Christ
 
1. About two years ago, during the consulate of Inportunus, we had the privilege to read a letter of some noble layman to a presbyter; it contained the life of the monk, Bassus, who at one time lived in the monastery of the so-called Mount Titas above Ariminum, and later died in the district of Lucania - a man well known to me as to many others. When I learnt that of this letter some people took copies, I began to think by myself, and also tell persons in religion, that it was not right to conceal the great miracles which the power of God had worked through the blessed Severin.
2. Of this the author of that letter came to know. The idea appealed to him, and he asked me to send him for his information some sketches concerning this holy Severinus so that he could write a little book about  his life for the benefit of posterity. Prompted by this offer, I drafted a memorandum; it comprised a number of sketches based on stories that are familiar to us from the daily accounts of our elders. Yet I was far from feeling happy about it. It was non justifiable, I thought, that in your lifetime we should ask a layman to undertake this work. There even seemed to be some risk in entrusting a lay writer with a work of this type and style. A man trained, for all that we know, only in secular literature would probably write that Life in a style far too difficult for the majority of unlearned people, and the splendor of wonderful things which have long been hidden, as it were, under a night of silence might now - as far as we, the uneducated, are concerned - be veiled by the obscurities of eloquence. [...]
 
(trans. L. Bieler 1965: 47-48)

Discussion:

Paschasius was a deacon in Rome and he is known from an anecdote told by Gregory the Great in the Dialogues 4.42. Paschasius, according to Gregory, was a pious person who had sinned in one thing only, his support for the antipope Laurentius against Symmachus during the schism in 498.
 
In the letter, Eugippius pretends that the Life of Severinus he wrote is just a set of crude notes that could be used by Paschasius to compose a more polished literary work. Paschasius in his response (see [...]) dismissed this suggestion and praised Eugippius's work as entirely satisfactory.

Place of event:

Region
  • Italy south of Rome and Sicily
  • Rome
City
  • Castellum Lucullanum
  • Naples
  • Rome

About the source:

Author: Eugippius
Title: Epistula ad Paschasium
Origin: Castellum Lucullanum (Italy south of Rome and Sicily)Naples (Italy south of Rome and Sicily),
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Eugippius came originally from Noricum where he was a monk in the monastery founded by Severinus (died 482). He left Noricum for Italy in 488 with other monks and with Severinus's body in the evacuation ordered by Odoacer. They settled in Castellum Lucullanum near Naples, Roman villa offered them by the noblewoman Barbaria. In 511, Eugippius composed the "Life of Severinus". He also created an anthology of the excerpts from the works of Augustine dedicated to the virgin Proba from the powerful Roman family, the gens Anicia, see [2047]. He also maintained relations with the clergy of Rome (as attested by his familiarity with Paschasius) and the African clerics exiled by the Vandals.
 
The letter can be safely dated to this date because Eugippius mentions that the year of the consulship of Inportunus (509) was two years ago. From Paschasius`s response [2403], in which Eugippius is styled a presbyter, we know that Eugippius was already ordained when the correspondence took place.
 
Eugippius was still alive in 532 when he corresponded with Ferrandus of Carthage [...].
 
Edition:
Ph. Régerat (ed.), Eugippe, Vie de saint Séverin, Paris 1991 (Sources Chrétiennes 337)
 
English translation:
Eugippius, Life of St. Severin, trans. L. Bieler, The Fathers of the Church, Washington D.C. 1965
Bibliography:
M. Cappuyns, "Eugippius", Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. 15, Paris 1963, cols. 1376-78

Categories:

Writing activity - Correspondence
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Relation with - Deacon
Writing activity
Devotion - Reading the Bible and devotional literature
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER2401, http://presbytersproject.ihuw.pl/index.php?id=6&SourceID=2401