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pompously enunciated in many inscriptions still extant, where he is styled son of M. Aurelius, brother of Commodus, and, mounting up through Pius, Hadrian, and Trajan, great-great-great- grandson of Nerva. (Dion Cass. Ixxiv. Ixxv. Ixxvi.; Herodian ; Spartian. Sever.\ Eutrop. viii. 10 ; Aurel. Vict. Goes, xx ; Oros. vii. 17.) [W. R.]


SEVERUS, T. STATI'LIUS, consul a. d. 171 with L. Alfidius Herennianus. (Fasti.)

SEVERUS, SULPI'CIUS, chiefly celebrated as an ecclesiastical historian, was a native of Aquitaine {Dialog, i. 20), and flourished towards the close of the fourth century under Arcadius and Honor!us, being a few years younger than his friend Pau-linus of Nola, to whose letters, of which fourteen are addressed to Severus, we are principally in­debted for any information we possess regarding his career. Descended from a noble family he was carefully trained in all the learning of the age and country to which he belonged, distinguished himself as an orator at the bar, and married early in life a high-born and very wealthy bride. The untimely death of this lady produced so deep an impression on his mind that, while yet in the flower of his years, he resolved to abandon the pursuit of worldly pleasures and honours, and in company with a few pious friends, to seek tran­quillity in seclusion and holy exercises. To this determination he steadfastly adhered notwith­standing the opposition of his father, by whom he was in consequence disinherited, a misfortune compensated, however, to a great extent by the liberality of his mother-in-law Bassula. He even­tually became a presbyter of the church, and attached himself closely to St. Martin of Tours, whom he ever cultivated with peculiar reverence, imbibing from him many wild and fantastic notions respecting dreams, visions, miraculous manifes­tations, and the millennium, which in some mea­sure sullied the brightness of his orthodoxy. Gen-nadius, in a passage, whose authenticity has been somewhat unreasonably disputed, positively asserts that Severus, towards the close of his life, was tainted with the Pelagian heresy, but that having become sensible of his error, and feeling convinced that he had been betrayed by a too great love of speaking, maintained silence ever afterwards as an appropriate atonement for his sin. The precise date of his birth and of his death are alike unknown. The former has been referred to a. d. 363, the latter variously to a. d. 410,420,422,432, an argument in favour of the earliest of these epochs being derived from the fact that he is never men­tioned by Paulinus subsequent to that year. His retirement from the world took place about A. d. 392. We must carefully avoid confounding this Sulpicius Severus with another ecclesiastical writer. Sulpicius Severus, surnamed Pius, who was the twenty-seventh bishop of Bourges, in the middle


of the seventh century, and contemporary with Gregory of Tours, who dedicated to him his tract on the Seven Sleepers.

The extant works of Severus are,

I. Vita S. Martini Turonensis, drawn up to­wards the end of a. d. 400, soon after the death of the holy man, whose virtues and miracles it commemorates.

II. Tres Epistolae. These three letters are im­mediately connected with the preceding biography, being severally entitled, 1. Ad Eusebium Pres-byterum contra aemidos virtutum beati Martini. 2. Ad Aurelium Diaconum de obitu et apparitione ejusdem. 3. Ad Bassulam sacrum suam de trans-itu illius (sc. B. Martini) ex hac vita ad immor-talem.

III. Historia Sacra. An epitome of sacred history, extending from the creation of the world to the consulship of Stilicho and Aurelianus, a. d. 400. It was concluded about a. d. 403.

IV. Dialogi duo, generally divided into three, although that termed the second forms in reality a portion of the first. They contain a temperate review of the bitter discussions and dissensions which had arisen among ecclesiastics in the East regarding the tendency of the works of Origen. Composed about a. d. 405.

V. Epistolae Sex. 1. Ad Claudiam Sororem — on the last judgment. 2. Ad eandem — on vir­ginity. 3. Ad Paulinum Episcopum. 4. To the magistrates (decuriones) of a town which he does not name. 5. Ad Salvium. 6. A note, without address, extending to a few lines only.

Several letters to Paulinus and others have been lost, as we gather from the words of Gen-nadms.

A letter addressed to Paulinus, and published along with those of Severus in the collection of Dacherius is by some other hand.

Sulpicius Severus was greatly admired by his contemporaries, and his fame stood high with all classes*of readers in the middle ages. Their esti­mate of his merits was far too favourable, for none of his productions exhibit much strength of mind or critical sagacity, nor do they furnish matter possessing any particular interest. His history, moreover, abounds with chronological errors and blunders of all kinds, copied from the old chro­nicles, whose mistakes he adopted with unsuspect­ing confidence. But, notwithstanding these grave defects, the polished terseness of his style, and the general purity of his language, have served to maintain his reputation even in modern times. From the general characteristics of his phraseology he has been termed the Christian Sallust, and the resemblance is unquestionable. He has, however, judiciously avoided the obscurity and affectation which so often deform the pages of his model, while on the other hand he not unfrequently permits himself to employ the ordinary jargon of ecclesiastical Latinity, instead of seeking for more graceful and classical forms of expression.

The life of St. Martin, the three epistles con­nected with it, and the Dialogues, were first printed at Milan about 1480 by Boninus Mom-britius in the second volume of his Vitae Sanc-torum^ from whence they were transferred into the collection of Christian poets published by Aldus Manutius, 4to. Venet. 1502, and reprinted at Paris in 151L But so completely had these tracts been overlooked and forgotten, that wheu

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