Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Michele Salzman - Prosper of Aquitaine and Leo the Great: Reconsidering a relationship

Although Prosper was a supporter of Pope Leo, the nature of their relationship is in need of reconsideration.  Most scholars have considered Prosper of Aquitaine’s contribution or influence on Leo’s homilies and letters, especially the Tome, by considering stylistic similarities.   Indeed the tract On the Calling of all Nations, a work once thought to have been written by Leo, is now attributed to Prosper but its stylistic similarities convinced  certain scholars,  notably N.W. James (1993) that  Prosper was responsible for some of Leo’s writings.  However, this stylistic analysis is not compelling; B. Green (2008) has argued, rightly in my view, that Prosper was not responsible for anything that we now attribute to Leo.  However a full assessment of the relationship between these two fifth century leading figures should take into account not only stylistic and theological matters, but how both men view events and actions.  My paper will reconsider the relationship between Prosper and Leo in the light of a new appreciation of Leo’s independence as a writer, thinker and actor.   I will focus in particular on the ways in which the two differ in their views of contemporary events and people. 

1 comment:

  1. The issue of the relationship between Leo and Prosper does not simply hinge on stylistic similarities but on the reliability of the evidence of Gennadius, Bede and Photius, of which RA Markus and B Green are unduly dismissive. I look forward to debating the matter in Oxford, in the wider context of the development of both Leo's and Prosper's thinking and of the relationship between popes and experts in this period. A model for the relationship between the two figures which synthesises all the evidence satisfactorily should now be sought. The summary of my views above is somewhat wide of the mark.

    NW James,
    St Albans