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Authority and Asceticism from Augustine to Gregory the Great$
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Conrad Leyser

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208686

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208686.001.0001

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The Pastoral Arts of the Rhetor Pomerius

The Pastoral Arts of the Rhetor Pomerius

(p.65) 3 The Pastoral Arts of the Rhetor Pomerius
Authority and Asceticism from Augustine to Gregory the Great

Conrad Leyser

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with a scene painted by the North African rhetor Julianus Pomerius, in his On the Contemplative Life, composed in southern Gaul in the early years of the sixth century. Although rarely recognized as such, the work is cast as a dialogue. As Robert Markus has emphasized, what Pomerius in fact composed was a handbook for pastors, encouraging them to participate in an ascetic understanding of moral authority and pastoral responsibility. These priorities are announced at once: having promised to define ‘in a few words’ the nature of the contemplative life, Pomerius offers to consider ‘whether one charged with ruling a Church can become a sharer in contemplative virtue’. This question in turn leads on to a host of others, all of which presume a concern with the moral exercise of episcopal office. Taken together, the evidence generated around Pomerius reveals a network of rich and cultured clerics and laity in southern Gaul and beyond, with particular interests in the ascetic life and its promotion throughout the Catholic Church.

Keywords:   Julianus Pomerius, pastors, Catholic Church, Gaul, clerics, laity, ascetic life, moral authority, pastoral responsibility

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