Ennodius, Magnus Felix

views updated


Ecclesiastical writer and bishop; b. Arles, France, c. 473; d. Pavia, Italy, 521. Ennodius, orphaned at an early age, entered the clerical state in Pavia c. 494; he then served as secretary to his uncle Laurentius, Bishop of Milan. At a Roman synod in 502 he defended the right of symmachus to the papal throne; he became bishop of Pavia in 512 or 513. In 515 and again in 517 he headed embassies from Pope hormisdas to the Emperor anastasius i to heal the acacian schism (484), but both missions failed. Known as a zealous pastor he is honored in Pavia as a saint. Ennodius's literary works, written before he became bishop, are often a strange blend of Christian and pagan ideas, so heavily embellished as to be at times unintelligible. His 297 letters are important source material for the early 6th century. His 28 Dictiones are model speeches for students, or "occasional sermons" to be used by his fellow priests. Among his Opuscula are an outstanding life of St. epiphanius and a sermon in honor of theodoric the great. His 21 poems are grammatically correct but without verve or originality, while some of his 151 epigrams are in questionable taste. His Eucharisticon de vita sua is an imitation of the Confessions but lacks Augustine's introspection and sincerity. His defense of Symmachus contains the famous sentence: "God indeed ordained that men should settle the affairs of men; but to pass judgment on the bishop of this see [Rome] He unquestionably reserved to Himself." He also urged that the title "pope" be restricted to the bishop of Rome.

Feast: July 17.

Bibliography: Opera Omnia, ed. g. hartel (Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 6; 1882); Opera, ed. f. vogel (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Auctores antiquissimi 7; 1885); The Life of St. Epiphanius, tr. and ed. g. cook (Washington 1942). p. c. de labriolle, History and Literature of Christianity, tr. h. wilson (New York 1924). m. hadas, A History of Latin Literature (New York 1952). b. altaner, Patrology (New York 1960) 572574.

[s. j. mckenna]