Micro Allusions to Pliny and Virgil in Sidonius’s Programmatic Epistles
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Lifting the Hermeneutic Burden
The fifth century Gallo-Roman aristocrat and bishop Sidonius Apollinaris wrote one hundred and forty-seven extant epistles and twenty-four carmina. His unique style displayed his intricate paideia and celebrated it in his contemporary readers, made up largely of likeminded individuals.1 This is a product of his age; as the Latin West transitioned into the barbarian successor kingdoms and the traditional markers of the Gallo-Roman elite, such as wealth and rank became harder to maintain, the display of paideia grew in importance.2 Sidonius shows off his learning through the allusions that are intricately woven into his literature; something which has begun to interest scholarship more and more. One may find carmina that borrow from Claudian and Statius, and epistles that structurally engage with those of Pliny the Younger, as Roy Gibson has convincingly shown.3
By and large scholarship has been interested in the allusions that make repeated sustained...