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Pomerius

POMERIUS

Julianus, African ascetical writer; b. Mauretania, North Africa; d. Gaul, after a.d. 498. Nothing is known of the education or ecclesiastical career of Pomerius, who migrated to Gaul, opened a school of rhetoric in Arles, and was ordained to the priesthood. One of his pupils was caesarius of arles. Pomerius attained considerable fame in his lifetime, as is attested by letters addressed to him by several bishops. His treatise De vita contemplativa was famous in the Middle Ages, and owed its preservation to its ascription in most manuscripts to prosper of aquitaine, perhaps because of its praise of St. augustine. The Jesuit Jacques sirmond in the 17th century was the first to cast doubt on the ascription to Prosper; today no one seriously contests that Pomerius is the author of the work.

The De vita contemplativa describes the combined ideals of the contemplative and active life. The first two books are addressed to bishops and concern the manners and asceticism of priests, as a pastoral manual for clerics, and the third book is addressed to all Christians. Pomerius intended to set forth in the first book the contemplative life; in the second, the active life; and in the third, the vices and virtues of Christians. His distinction between the active and the contemplative life is founded on states of soul: that of the soul seeking perfection (the active life) and that of the soul possessing and enjoying it (the contemplative life). This conception is less exteriorized than the modern notion and seemingly more profound. The style is generally clear and smooth, more elegant than vigorous. Pomerius's knowledge of secular literature appears in his quotations from Terence, Cicero, and Vergil and in echoes from other authors.

From the middle of the 8th to the late 9th century the authority of the De vita contemplativa all but rivaled that of the leading Latin Fathers. boniface quoted from it in 747, and several decades later it was mentioned by chrodegang, Bishop of Metz. Copious quotations from it appear in the Church councils of the 9th century. Almost a 100 manuscripts of the work exist in codices of widely diverse provenence that date from the 8th to the 15th centuries.

Pomerius wrote three other works. Two of them, De virginibus instituendis and De contemptu mundi, have completely disappeared; but his eight books in dialogue form, De anima et qualitate eius, are known from summedes in Pseudo-Gennadius (Vir. ill. 99) and Isidore of Seville (Vir. ill. 25).

Bibliography: Patrologia Latina, ed. j. p. migne, 217 v., indexes 4 v. (Paris 187890) 59:411520. Trs. by j. g. pfister (Würzburg 1826), Ger., ascribed still to Prosper; j. b. bouillon (Paris 1576), Fr.; m. j. suelzer, Ancient Christion Writers 4 (1947), Eng. o. bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur (Frieburg 191332) 4:599601. g. fritz, in Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951) 12.2:253743. f. degenhart, Studien zu Julianus Pomerius (Eichstätt 1905). a. c. prendergast, The Latinity of the "De vita contemplativa" der altkirchlichen Literatur (Catholic University of America, Patristic Studies 55; 1938). m. l. w. laistner, Miscellanea Giovanni Mercati, 6 v. (Rome 1946); Studi e Testi 121126] 2:344358, influence. j. c. plumpe, Vigiliae christianae 1 (1947) 227239.

[m. j. suelzer]

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