Salvian of Marseilles

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Ecclesiastical writer; b. c. a.d. 400; d. after 480. Salvian, probably a native of the Trier-Cologne area (De Gubernatione Dei 6.13.72; Epistolarum lib. 1.5), married Palladia, whom he converted to Christianity. They had a daughter Auspiciola, and later entered a pact of continence when the family lived at a distance from Palladia's birthplace (Epistolarum lib. 4), apparently in Southern Gaul (De Gubernatione Dei 7.2.8). It seems that Salvian embraced monasticism at Lérins, where he served as a priest prior to 431 (Hilary of Arles, Sermo 19) and later, as a tutor (Epistolarum lib. 9). Gennadius writing c. 480 describes Salvian as a priest of Marseilles, an instructor of bishops, and gives as a list of his writings: De Virginitatis bono lib. III, Adversus Avaritiam lib. IV, De Praesenti judicio lib. V, Ad Salonium lib. I, Expositio libri Ecclesiastici, Epistolarum lib. I, a verse De Genesi lib. I, Homilies for the use of bishops, and Sacramentaries or Missals (De Viris inlust. 68).

Nine Epistles are extant: (1) without title but seemingly addressed to the monks of Lérins; (2) and (8) to Bp. Eucherius of Lyons; (3) to Bp. Agrycius of Sens or Antibes; (4) to Hypatius and Quieta, parents of Palladia; (5) to Cattura; (6) to Limenius; (7) to Aper and Verus; and (9) to Bp. Salonius of Geneva. The homilies, in whole or in part, may possibly appear in the collection called the Gallican Eusebius in the Maxima Bibliotheca Veterum Patrum [(Lyons 1677) 6:618686; 8:823825; ed. J. Leroy, L'oeuvre oratoire de s. Fauste de Riez (Strasbourg thesis 1954) 2], while the Gallican Missal edited by A. Dold, Das Sakramentar im Schabcodex M 12 Sup. der Bibl. Ambrosiana (Beuron 1952), may be one of Salvian's Sacramentaries, though K. Gamber (1959) feels that it is the work of Musaeus of Marseilles (d. 461). Two other works mentioned by Gennadius can be identified: the Adversus Avaritiam is the extant Ad Ecclesiam lib. IV [Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum (Vienna 1866 ) 8:224316; variants, Revue Bénédictine 43 (1931) 194206] and the De Praesenti judicio is the De Gubernatione Dei lib. VIII (Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum (Vienna 1866 ) 8:3200), with its preface to Salonius, which may be the Ad Salonium.

Ad Ecclesiam, addressed to the universal Church under the penname of Timothy (cf. Epistolarum lib. 9), seems to date from 435 to 439. It inveighs against avarice, which it sees as widespread among Christians. It stresses both the duty and the advantages of almsgiving and urges that all, the childless especially, bequeath their possessions to the poor (3.2.911). A striking phrase points to humility instead of pride as the proper attitude in beneficence: non offerat quasi praesumptione donantis sed quasi humilitate solventis (1.10.54).

De Gubernatione Dei or On the Governance of God is subsequent to 439 and is Salvian's chief work; it ranks with Orosius's Historiae adversus paganos as a documentary of the miseries known during the 4th-to the 5th-century migration of nations. Rhetorical and at times vapid, it expounds the thesis that God executes judgment in the present world (2.4.15), thus supplying a title to the five books Gennadius knew. It is a theology of history that views calamities as the means whereby Divine Providence brings unfaithful Christians to their knees. Although too severe on the failings of the faithful (3.9.4449; 6), too flattering in its depiction of the barbarians (7.22.94100) to be taken at its word, De Gubernatione Dei nonetheless must be said to stand as a classic work in justifying the ways of God with man.

Bibliography: Opera omnia, ed. f. pauly (Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 8; 1883); Eng. tr. j. f. o'sullivan (The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation, ed. r. j. deferrari et al. [New York 1947]). Clavis Patrum latinorum, ed. e. dekkers (2d ed. Streenbrugge 1961) 485487. m. pellegrino, Vigiliae christianea 6 (1952) 99108; Salviano di Marsiglia (Rome 1940). m. iannelli, La caduta d'un impero nel capolavoro di Salviano (Naples 1948). g. vecchi, Studi Salvianei (Bologna 1951). m. schanz, c. hosius, and g. krÜger, Geschichte der römischen Literatur, 4 v. in 5 (Munich 191435) 4.2:523528. o. bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur, 5 v. (Freiburg 191332) 4:573579. b. altaner, Patrology, tr. h. graef from 5th German ed. (New York 1960) 542544. c. favez, "La Gaule et les Gallo-Romains," Latomus 16 (1957) 7783. k. gamber, "Das Lektionar und Sakramentar des Musäus von Massilia," Revue Bénédictine 69 (1959) 198215.

[h. g. j. beck]