« Avila, Juan de Avitus, Alcimus Ecdicius Aviz, Order of »

Avitus, Alcimus Ecdicius

AVITUS, a-vai´tUs, ALCIMUS ECDICIUS: Bishop of Vienne; d. Feb. 5, 518. He was born of a distinguished Romano-Gallic family, connected with the Emperor Avitus (455-456); his father, Hesychius, was bishop of Vienne, where the son seems to have been educated, probably in the involved and fanciful rhetorical style of Sapaudus, who was then teaching there. In 494 we find him mentioned as his father’s successor in the see; and until the death of Gundobad (516) he exercised a predominant influence on the Church of Burgundy, and through it on the civil government. He induced Gundobad’s son, Sigismund, to renounce Arianism, and the old king himself listened gladly to Avitus and seemed disposed to follow this example. In the contest over boundaries between the metropolitan sees of Vienne and Arles, Avitus won a decisive victory under Pope Anastasius II (496-498). He was a zealous supporter of the close connection between the south of Gaul and the Roman see which was restored in 494, and did his best to promote the power of the latter. His political influence was far from salutary; since it was exercised mainly for ecclesiastical ends. His theology was dominated by his opposition to Arianism and other kindred heresies; otherwise he appears to have been chiefly interested in questions of ritual and church law. His last great success was to call and preside over the Burgundian council at Epao in 517, some of whose canons show his authorship, even in their wording. His prose writings consist partly of sermons, partly of letters, which, as was customary at that time, attain the dimensions of complete tractatas. These have 388some historical value, which would be greater if we could establish a more secure chronology for them. The most famous is Epist. xlvi (xli), addressed to Clovis in the beginning of 497. Epist. xxxiv (xxxi) is important for the light which it throws upon his attitude in regard to ecclesiastical polity. Here he speaks for the Gallic episcopate in relation to the Roman contest arising out of the charges against Pope Symmachus. This noteworthy manifesto unfolds an entire ultramontane programme, addressed to the senators Faustus and Symmachus, probably at the end of 501. Some of his oratorical productions are interesting, but more important is his poetical work, an epic dealing with the origin of the human race, and a didactic poem. The former is called by Ebert ” at least in regard to its plan, the most significant contribution to the poetical treatment of the Bible in early Christian literature.” It seems to have been composed in the last decade of the fifth century, and consists of 2,522 hexameter verses, divided into five books which carry the history of the world from its creation through the fall of man (in which Satan is drawn as an imposing figure reminding of Milton) to the Flood and the Exodus. It is much more than a bald transcript of the Biblical text, and frequently goes off into long typological trains of thought.

F. Arnold.

Bibliography: The works are in MPL, lix, and ed. R. Peiper in MGH, Auct. Ant., vol. vi, part 2, 1883; also, Œuvres complètes de St. Avit, ed. U. Chevalier, Lyons, 1890. Consult A. Charaux, St. Avite . . . sa vie, ses œuvres, Paris, 1876; P. Parizel, St. Avite, sa vie et ses écrits, Louvain, 1859: A. Ebert, Geschichte der Litteratur des Mittelalters, i, 393-402, Leipsic, 1889; W. S. Teuffel, Geschichte der römischen Literatur, p. 1219, No. 5, Leipsic, 1890; C. F. Arnold, Cæsarius von Arelate und die gallische Kirche seiner Zeit, pp. 191 sqq., 202-215, 578, Leipsic, 1894.

« Avila, Juan de Avitus, Alcimus Ecdicius Aviz, Order of »
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