maerendo pauca: Lament in the Letters of Sidonius Apollinaris
This thesis explores the reasons and intentions behind the collation and publication of Sidonius Apollinaris’ letters. I examine the presence of lament within the collection and suggest that it offers a new framework for understanding his letters as a trauma narrative. I argue that Sidonius compiled his letters as an act of lament in response to traumatic events and that they function as a form of eulogy to the Western Roman Empire. In the first chapter, entitled formatio, (the act of shaping, forming, or fashioning) I address the formation of Sidonius’ letters into a collection - how and why he might have fashioned them as he did. I discuss his letters within the context of Late-Antique Epistolography, as well as the wider historical events which served as backdrop and impetus. I consider current scholarly views along with Sidonius’ stated intentions for publication and suggest a new focus for looking at his work. In Chapter 2, entitled maeror, (mourning, grief, lamentation) I present the key emotive elements within his letters alongside Classical and Christian Literature. I address this new perspective of viewing Sidonius’ letter collection through the lens of the structure of the biblical Lament Psalms. Chapter 3, entitled laudatio (commendation, praise, eulogy, panegyric) further explores the ways in which Sidonius’ letters functioned as a form of lament, but focusses on the more positive elements of praise, hope and confidence. I argue that Sidonius’ oft upbeat tone, which has been attributed to Plinian imitation, contributes to the notion of his letter collection functioning as a lament, a praise, panegyric, or eulogy to a ‘lost’ Rome.