Historical research now admits that emotions, beliefs, political and social justifications of men of antiquity are topics worthy of being studied, because they are seen as a part of the individual and collective strategies that produce history. Looking through the lives of Ennodius, his family, his friends and enemies, we can catch these dynamics. Born in Arles in 470s. when the city was contended between Eurich the Visigoth and the Roman emperor Nepos, Ennodius was grown in Liguria by his aunt, who died during the clashes between Teoderich and Odovacer in the early 490s., and was a member of that generation of Gallo-Roman people from Provence, who suddenly happened to live in different political entities, while sometimes were in combat against one another; the context around them was economically and socially devastated. Human relations and traditional alliances, even in the same family, were deeply affected by those political changes: some remained in Provence (like Arcotamia, mother of a monk of Lérins); others were driven elsewhere: so, for example, Ennodius’ sister, Euprepia, after getting married with a noble from Liguria and having a son, went back to her homeland, committing the child to Ennodius; another sister got married with a Barbarian who probably didn’t like having his son educated according to the classical-rhetoric system of Roman gentlemen; other members of his clan remained in Italy, trying to keep or improve their status by relying on the Church, on the patronage of Roman aristocrats or of the Theoderician court. Ennodius was one of them, ready to discover new ways of ensuring the rise of himself and his family. Fed on classical culture, he deeply adhered to the senatorial ideology (which in those years was valued again by the rhetoric of Theoderician civilitas), was able to combine it with the ethical and cultural values of the most authentic ambrosian Christianity, and created for himself an image of his own as a proud Gallo-Roman, and an ascetic man of Church. In this way he built around him a network of relations where he could act as cliens and patronus, as filius and pater; however, as a frater. Thanks to his teaching activity at the Milanese auditorium of Deuterius, Ennodius was also able to extend his connections to the young, who, in case they achieved social prominent roles, would offer Ennodius their protection in lawsuits, help in the economic recovery of his Gallic parents, and support to his literary activity. Rarely and just recently the Ennodian corpus has been used as a historical source for throwing light on a period which is known as unclear and elusive: this is the aim of this short book. The appendixes, where corrections of traditional prosopographical reconstructions and new chronology of single texts are proposed, are conceived as instruments for those scholars who intend to use Ennodius in this way.
Contents: Introduzione - L’oggetto della ricerca - Fonte ennodiana e ricerca storica - Parte prima: Ennodio esponente dell’élite gallo-romana - 1. Indicazioni biografiche - Ennodio - Le relazioni di parentela - 2. Le aspirazioni laiche e l’approdo alla carriera ecclesiastica - I primi passi verso il clericato - Una carriera in ascesa: l’ambasceria presso Gundobado e l’attività forense presso il tribunale episcopale - Le incombenze catechetiche del diacono - 3. Il diacono e l’episcopato: tra modelli e realtà - Il De officiis ambrosiano, speculum del futuro vescovo - Il legame con la spiritualità lerinese - La riforma di Giuliano Pomerio e la mediazione culturale di Ennodio - L’ascetismo come strumento di ascesa sociale - Il vescovo-oratore: un possibile modello - Parte seconda: Ennodio rhetor e commendator della nobiltà provinciale - 1. Il potere della retorica - L’attività letteraria del chierico Ennodio - Il chierico e l’auditorium milanese - 2. Un retore provinciale e la sua autorappresentazione - Ennodio e la patria provenzale - Il provinciale e i senatori romani - 3. L’educazione della gioventù provinciale - La nobiltà provinciale di fronte alla guerra - La capacità di attrazione del cursus formativo classico e la sua vitalità - 4. Retorica e commendatio al servizio delle aspirazioni dei giovani gallo-romani - La latinitas, espressione di una scelta politica - La rete clientelare animata dal provinciale - Conclusioni - Appendici - 1. I parenti di Ennodio - 2. Cronologia di alcuni testi ennodiani - 3. Cronologia della vita di Ennodio e di alcuni parenti intimi - Indice degli autori moderni - Indice delle fonti antiche - Indice dei nomi antichi.