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This text of
the Eucharisticus

by
Paulinus Pellaeus

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1921

is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!

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p305 The Thanksgiving of
St. Paulinusa

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 1 I know that among famous men there have been some who, in right of their brilliant qualities and to immortalise the eminence of their renown, have handed down to posterity a memoir of their doing compiled in their own words. Since I am of course as far removed from these in their outstanding worth as in point of time, it is certainly no similar reason and design which has induced me to put together a little work almost identical in subject; for I have neither any such brilliant achievements whereby I might hope to snatch some little gleam of fame, nor so great a confidence in my powers of expression as lightly to dare to challenge the work of any author. 2 But — I am not ashamed to avow it — I, who in my lengthy pilgrimage have long languished in the misery of care-fraught idleness, have been led on, as I surely believe, by divine mercy to seek such consolations as befitted alike a good conscience in old age and a devout purpose; I mean that I, who indeed felt that I owed my whole life to God, should show that my whole life's doings also have been subject to his direction; and that, by telling over the seasons granted me by his same grace, I should form a little work, a Thanksgiving to him, in the guise of a narrative memoir. 3 For I know indeed both that the care of his kindly mercy was about p307me, because in my early life I lacked not even the fleeting pleasures natural to mankind; and that in this part of it also the care of his providence has been before me, because, while reasonably chastising me with continual misfortunes, he has clearly taught me that I ought neither to love too earnestly present prosperity which I knew I might lose, nor to be greatly dismayed by adversities wherein I had found that his mercies could succour me.

4 Therefore, if ever this little work of mine should come into the hands of any, from the very title prefixed to the book he ought clearly to understand that this my little musing, which I consecrate to God Almighty, is a gift to my leisure, rather than to another's pleasure; and that my prayer is rather that this my service, such as it is, may be accepted by God, than that my uncouth poem should win its way to the attention of the learned. 5 Nevertheless, if someone perchance more inquisitive than the ordinary should have so much leisure from his own affairs as to seek to learn the toilsome progress of my life, I wish to beg him — whether he find anything, or perhaps nothing, in my doings or in my verses which he can praise — yet to elect for the trampling of oblivion those very features which he has selected, rather than to commend them to the discernment of posterity.

A Thanksgiving to God in the Form of my Memoirs

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Now as I make ready to tell o'er the bygone seasons of my years and to trace out the succession of past days through which I have sped with p309changeful fortunes, thee I implore, Almighty God, favourably to be nigh me and, breathing on my work, to prosper a design favoured by thee, in granting me sustainment in my task, attainment in my prayers,1 that by thy aid I may be worthy to run o'er the list of thy gifts. For all the seasons of my life I owe to thee ever since I drew in the breath of enlivening light, and, though oft tossed amid the storms of this inconstant world, under thy protection I grow old and in the course of my twelfth hebdomad of years have now seen six scorching solstices of the summer sun and as many winters' frosts — this through thy gift, O God, who renewest the years of bygone time in repairing the course of the circling Ages.2 Be it permitted me, therefore, singing to record thy gifts in verse, and in setting forth of words also to pay thanks which, indeed, even when shut within the heart, we know are open to thee, but the fraught voice unbidden breaks through the barriers of the silent mind and reveals a fount of out-gushing prayer.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Thou in my infancy didst give my helpless frame strength to endure the hazards of travel by land and sea, that I — born at Pella, the nursery of King Alexander of old, near Salonika's walls, where my father was vicegerent3 of the illustrious Prefect — might be conveyed to the shores of another world, cut off by sea, entrusted to my nurses' trembling arms, and so across snowy ridges and torrent-riven ranges, across the main and the waves of the p311Tyrrhenian flood, might come to the far walls of Sidonian Carthage, ere yet the monthly moon in her ninth orbit since my birth filled her disk with renewed light. There, as I have learned, when thrice six months were passed under the proconsulship of my father, I was called back again to the sea and paths already tried, soon also to behold the famed bulwarks of all-glorious Rome on the world's heights.4 All this which passed before me, though not even to be comprehended by my sense of sight but later learned through the careful report of those to whom these matters are well known, I have deemed worthy of mention in accordance with the purpose of my work.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But at length, the end of my long journeying reached, I was borne into the land of my forefathers and to my grandfather's house, coming to Bordeaux where beauteous Garonne draws Ocean's tidal waves within the walls through a ship-traversed portal which even now enfolds a roomy port within the roomy city's barriers. Then also my grandfather, consul in that same year, was there first known to me in my first triennium. And after this period was outgrown, and when waxing power strengthened my feeble limbs and my mind, aware of its faculties, learned through wont to know the properties — so far as now . . . I can remember, I myself with due truth must needs narrate what is to be known concerning me.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But what else in my boyish years, which freedom, play, and blithesome youth seemed to have been able to commend to me by their own virtues, shall I p313more gladly dwell upon or more fitly dare to set in this little book which I fashion in verse, than affection's work and my parents' noble pains, skilled to season learning with mingled enticements, and their wise care, exercising due control, to instil into me the means of good living and on my untrained mind to bestow speedy development — almost along with my first steps in the alphabet itself to learn to shun the ten special marks of ignorance and equally to avoid vices anathematised? And albeit this discipline has long since fallen out of use through the corruption, doubtless, of the age, yet, I declare, the antique Roman fashion I observed delights me more, and the life natural to an old man is more tolerable therefor.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Full early, when the days of my first lustrum were well-nigh spent, I was made to con and learn the doctrines of Socrates, Homer's warlike fantasies, and Ulysses' wanderings. And forthwith I was bidden to traverse Maro's works as well, ere I well understood the Latin tongue, used as I was to the converse of Greek servants with whom long pursuit of play had made me intimate; whereby, I affirm, this was too heavy a task for me, a boy, to grasp the eloquence of works in an unknown tongue.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] This double learning, as it is suited to more powerful minds and decks those skilled in it with a two-fold radiance, so its wide range soon drained dry the vein of my mind — too barren, as I now understand. So much now even despite me this my page reveals — a page ill-judged, indeed, which I unasked set forth to be read, yet, as I hope, not disgracing me in the matters whereof I seek to form a written record; for so my chaste parents careful taught me from my boyhood, lest some day the p315malignant tongue of any man might endanger my repute. And though this repute, well earned, still keeps the lustre due to it, yet with this higher grace would it then have adorned me, if with my hopes in early life my parents' hopes had continued to agree in this respect, namely, that forever they should keep me as thy child, O Christ, more rightly making this the aim of their love for me — that by brief sacrifice of the present joys of the flesh I might win endless reward in the world to come. But — since I now am bound to believe that this has more profited me which thou, O God, almighty, everlasting, hast shown to have been thy will by renewing to me, though sinful, thy gifts of life — so much the greater thanks I now owe thee on my behalf, as I perceive the greater guilt of my transgressions. For both I know that — whatever deed blameworthy or act unlawful I have unwarily committed, straying through life's treacherous seasons — thou in thy mercy canst wholly forgive, ever since scorning my fallen self I fled back to thy obedience; and, if ever I have been able to shun any sins which, committed, would bring me greater guilt, this too I feel that I have gained through Heaven's bounty.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But I return to my course and to the seasons I passed through at the time when, wrapt in study and in learning, I gladly fancied to myself that already I felt some of the desired outcome of my pains lavished under the constant care of Greek and Latin tutors both, and I should also have gained, perchance, a meet return, had not a sharp quartan fever, suddenly falling upon me, defrauded my willing efforts in learning, when the fifth triad of my life was scarce completed. But when my parents' love for me was stricken with alarm at this p317— seeing they deemed more urgent the recovery of my enfeebled body than the training of my tongue in eloquence, and as physicians from the first advised that continual gaiety and amusement should be devised for me — my father was so eager by his own efforts to secure this end that, though of late he had laid by his wont of hunting zealously ('twas indeed for my studies' sake alone, that he might not hinder them by making me the companion of his pastimes, nor without me ever enjoy his delight alone), on my account he returned to it with greater interest, renewing all means this sport affords, in hope that thereby I might woo health. These pursuits, long continued during the slow period of my sickness, caused in me a distaste for study, thenceforward chronic, which persisting afterwards in time of health, harmed me when love of the false world made way and the too pliant fondness of my parents gave way, charmed with delight at my recovery.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Wherefore, as my growth, so my waywardness increased, readily settling down to the pursuit of youthful desires — as to have a fine horse bedecked with special trappings, a tall groom, a swift hound, a shapely hawk,b a tinselled ball, fresh brought from Rome, to serve me in my games of pitching, to wear the height of fashion, and to have each latest novelty perfumed with sweet-smelling myrrh of Araby. Likewise when I recall how, grown robust, I ever loved to gallop riding a racing steed, and how many a headlong fall I escaped, 'tis right I should believe I was preserved by Christ's mercy; and pity 'tis that then I knew it not by reason of the world's thronging enticements.

p319 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] As I was wavering betwixt such interests and my parents' wishes which were set constantly upon the renewal of their line through me, at length, late for my time of life, I felt new fires and broke out into the pleasures of harmful wantonness which, as a boy, I used to think I could easily avoid. Howbeit, so far as wilful wantonness could be curbed and bridled with prudent restraint, lest I should heap heavier offences on my faults, I checked my passions with this chastening rule: that I should never seek an unwilling victim, nor transgress another's rights, and, heedful to keep unstained my cherished reputation, should beware of yielding to free-born loves though voluntarily offered, but be satisfied with servile amours in my own home; for I preferred to be guilty of a fault rather than of an offence,5 fearing to suffer loss of my good name. Yet even this also among my doings will I confess: one son I know was born to me at that time — though neither he then (since he soon died), nor any bastard of mine afterwards, was ever seen by me — when freedom, allied with lusty youth's allurements, might by gaining mastery have more gravely harmed me, hadst not thou, O Christ, even then had care for me.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Such was the life I led from about my eighteenth year, and so continued until my second decade's close, when my parents'º anxious care forced me, unwillingly, I admit, to give up this state, grown easy through soft custom, and drove me by way of change to mate with a wife, whose property was rather glorious for its ancient name than for the present a portion potent to please, because of the sore p321anxiety it involved, as long uncared for through the lethargy of its aged lord, to whom, surviving her own father's death, a young grandchild succeeded — she who afterwards acceded to wedlock with me. But once I was resolved to bear the toil laid upon me, youth's zeal seconding my mind's desire, in but few days I was content to enjoy the pleasures of the estate thus gained, and soon forced both myself and my thralls to exchange seductive idleness for unwanted toils — inciting such as I could by the example of my own labour, but compelling some against their will with a master's sternness. And so, tirelessly bent upon the pursuits of the condition I had adopted, forthwith I hastened to bring fallowed lands under tillage, and promptly to lavish pains in renewing the exhausted vineyards in the manner I had learned, and also — though to many a one this seems especially vexatious — by voluntarily paying down outright my taxes at the appointed time, I rapidly earned for myself an assured leisure to lavish afterwards upon my own relaxation. This was ever too much prized by me, and though at first it was conformable with my nature which then sought but moderate satisfaction, later it became luxurious and estranged from high purpose, only concerned that my house should be equipped with spacious apartments and at all times suited to meet the varying seasons of the year,6 my table lavish and attractive, my servants many and those young, the furniture abundant and agreeable for various purposes, plate more preeminent in price than poundage, workmen of divers crafts trained promptly p323to fulfil my behests, my stables filled with well-conditioned beasts and, withal, stately carriages to convey me safe abroad. And yet I was not so much bent on increasing these same things as zealous in preserving them, neither too eager to increase my wealth nor a seeker for distinctions, but rather — I admit — a follower of luxury, though only when it could be attained at trifling cost and outlay and without loss of fair repute that the brand of prodigality should not disgrace a blameless pursuit. But while I found all these things sweet and pleasant to enjoy, my great affection for my parents, dearer still, outweighed them, so binding me to them with the stronger bands of overmastering love that for the most part of the year my visits put me at their service — visits which passed their length accordant with our prayers,7 winning through mutual joys a general gain.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Of this life would that the enjoyment granted by Christ's rich bounty had continued longer for us, the former times of peace enduring likewise! In many ways could my youth have profited by frequent application of my father's spoken counsel and by the growth in my training won from his good example! But after the third decade of my life was passed, there followed hopeless sorrow caused by a double burden — a general grief at public calamity, when foes burst into the vitals of the Roman realm, together with personal misfortune in the end and death of my father; for the last days which closed his life were almost continuous with the days p325when peace was broken. But for me the havoc wrought on my home by the ravage of the enemy, though great in itself, was much lighter when compared with boundless grief for my departed father, who made both my country and my home itself dear to me. For, indeed, by rendering kindness to each other in genuine affection, we so knit in our uneven ages, that in our agreement we surpassed friends of even ages. He, then, so dear a comrade and trusty chancellor, was withdrawn from me in the early season of my youth; and straightway succeeded bitter disagreement caused by my wilful brother, who sought to overthrow our father's valid will, desiring to annul the special benefits therein granted to my mother; and to safeguard her caused me concern the greater as it was natural, my just endeavours being strengthened by this yet greater impulse of affection. Besides, luckless rumour of my means being spread abroad exposed me to be tossed by yet more misfortunes amid the enticing lures of empty ambition and its forfeits close-linked with sore dangers. And though their memory irks me, and I would fain leave these passages of long ago silently buried in their due oblivion, yet the comfort of thy good gifts realized through my misfortunes, call upon me, O Christ, to reveal them and to bring them forth to light from the depths of my heart, in declaring thy bounty gained after full measure of ills. For I soon learned through experience both what advantage the favour of the powerful, bestowed on me through thee, afforded, when ofttimes I was accredited unconsciously with my ancestor's bright distinctions, ere yet I myself acquired such attributes of my own; p327and on the other hand what hindrance in the assaults of ill-will my patrons' own ambitious aims and my own distinctions surely presented.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] And on me particularly above all, who had a second country in the East — where indeed I was born and was also held to be an owner of great consequence — did misfortunes lay hold, yet such as were long my due; because, albeit reluctant, I was kept absent on a journey prolonged, first by the mere sluggish effort of my train, sometimes also by the conflicting wishes of my dear ones, and too often by the struggle of their resolves with my own wishes whenever their returning dread of an uncertain issue delayed by some perverse chance preparations already begun; and on the other hand because my nature was enticed by my habits of ease, my wonted repose, the many special comforts of my home — too full, alas! with all great and pleasant luxuries and every blessing in those rough days, and which alone at that time lacked a Gothic guest. This circumstance was followed not long afterwards by a disastrous result, namely that, since no particular authority protected it, my house was given up to be pillaged by the retiring horde; for I know that certain of the Goths most generously strove to serve their hosts by protecting them.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But on me, besides my lot in the condition just described, a fresh cause of greater trouble was also imposed; namely that in his general groping after empty consolations, the tyrant Attalus8 burdened p329me in my absence with an empty title of distinction, making me Count of Private Largesses, although he knew that this office was sustained by no revenue, and even himself had now ceased to believe in his own royalty, dependent as he was upon the Goths alone of whom already he had had bitter experience, finding with them protection at the moment of his life but not of his authority, while of himself he was supported neither by resources of his own nor by any soldiery. Wherefore 'twas by no means the cause of that tottering tyrant, but, I declare, peace with the Goths that I pursued — peace which, at that time desired by the general consent of the Goths themselves, was soon after granted to others and, though purchased at a price, remains unregretted, since already in our state we see full many prospering through Gothic favour, though many first endured the full range of suffering, not least of whom was I, seeing that I was stripped of all my goods and outlived my fatherland. For when about to depart from our city at the command of their king Ataulf,9 the Goths, though they had been received peaceably, imposed the harshest treatment on us, as though subdued by right of war, by burning the whole city. There finding me — then a Count of that Prince, whose allies they did not recognise as their own — they stripped me of all my goods, and next my mother also, both of us overtaken by the same lot, for this one grace considering that they were showing us, their prisoners, mercy — that they suffered us to depart without injury; p331howbeit, of all the companions and handmaidens who had followed our fortunes none suffered any wrong at all done to her honour, nor was any assault offered, yet I was spared more serious anxiety by the divine goodness, to whom I owe constant thanks, because my daughter, previously wedded by me to a husband, was spared the general calamity by her absence for our country.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But not even this was the extreme limit of the sufferings we endured, as I have said: for when we were driven from our ancestral home and our house burned, straightway siege by the enemy overtook us in the neighbouring city of Bazas, which also was my forefathers' native place,10 and, far more dangerous than the beleaguering foe, a conspiracy of slaves supported by the senseless frenzy of some few youths, abandoned though of free estate, and armed specially for the slaughter of the gentry. From this danger thou, O righteous God, didst shield the innocent blood, quelling it forthwith by the death of some few guilty ones, and didst ordain that the special assassin threatening me should without my knowledge perish by another's avenging hand, even as thou hast been wont to bind me to thee with fresh gifts for which I might feel I owed thee endless thanks.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But in my alarm at the hap of so sudden a danger by which I saw I might be stricken down within the city, there entered into me — too fearful, I admit — a new error of judgment, leading me to hope that under the protection of the king,11 long since my friend, whose people were afflicting us with p333the long siege, I might be able to escape from the besieged city together with the large train of my dear ones: and yet this hope induced this attempt of mine, because I knew that 'twas by the constraining will of the Gothic host that the king reluctantly oppressed our folk. So, purposing to investigate I set out from the city and hastened to the king, no man withstanding me, yet with greater cheer before I addressed my first words to the friend who, I thought, would be more favourable to me. But when I had closely examined as best I might the inwardness of the man's intent, he declared he could not afford me protection if dwelling outside the city, avowing that it was no longer safe for him, having once seen me, to suffer me to return to the city on other terms than that he himself should presently be admitted with me into the city — for he knew that the Goths again meant me mischief, and he himself desired to break free from their influence. I was dumbfounded, I admit, with alarm at the terms proposed and with exceeding fear at the danger threatened, but by the mercy of God who always and everywhere is with them who beseech his aid, I presently regained my faculties and, albeit quaking, boldly set myself to foster in my interest the design of my still wavering friend, discouraging difficult conditions which I knew must be utterly rejected, but strongly pressing for instant attempt to secure the attainable.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] These the far-sighted man speedily approved and adopted. Straightway, when he had for himself conferred with the leaders of the city, he so hastened on the business in hand as to complete it in a single night through the help of God, whose p335bounty he now enjoyed, thereby to help us and his own people. The whole throng of Alan women flocks together from all their abodes in company with their warrior lords.12 First the king's wife is delivered to the Romans as a hostage, the king's favourite son also accompanying her, while I myself am restored to my friends by one of the articles of peace, as though I had been rescued from our common enemy the Goths: the city's boundaries are fenced round with a bulwark of Alan soldiery prepared for pledges given and received to fight for us whom they, lately our enemies, had besieged. Strange was the aspect of the city, whose unmanned walls were compassed on every side with a great throng of men and women mixed who lay without; while, clinging to our walls, barbarian hosts were fenced in with waggons and armed men. But when they saw themselves thus shorn of no slight portion of their host, the encircling hordes of ravaging Goths, straightway feeling they could not safely tarry now that their bosom friends were turned to mortal enemies, ventured no further effort, but chose of their own accord to retire hurriedly. And not long after our allies also, above named, followed their example and departed, though prepared to maintain loyally the peace made with the Romans wherever the chance which befell might have carried them. Thus did a great business, rashly commenced by me, result in a happy issue through the Lord's kindly aid, and God turned my misjudgment into fresh joys in the deliverance of many from the siege p337along with me — all which things increase my debt of thanks to thee, O Christ; which knowing not how to discharge, I repay in some measure in words by declaring my continual indebtedness.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But let it suffice that I have said so much on what I did during the long period when I was exposed amid barbarous peoples. Through them I suffered so numerous reverses as again convinced me, lingering still, that I should leave my country with all speed possible (and to have done so earlier had been more profitable for me), to make my way directly to that land where a large part of my mother's property still remained intact, scattered among full many states of Greece and Epirus the Old and New; for there the extensive farms, well-manned by numerous serfs, though scattered, were not widely separated and even for a prodigal or careless lord might have furnished means abundant. But not even at this stage did success follow my hope, either to be able to depart hence to the land I longed for, or to recover some part of my grandfather's property dispersed partly through the ravages of barbarians acting by the laws of war and partly through the iniquity of the Romans, proceeding wantonly and in defiance of all laws to my hurt at various times. Of this guilt even persons dear to me cannot rid themselves; and 'tis the chief cause of my pain, since upon hurt to my substance is heaped hurt to that affection which I feel I owe inviolate, however slighted, to my nearest kin, and which I deem it sinful not to render. But if I am truly wise, I should now rejoice in this lot of mine which thou, O Christ, didst approve, since thou dost prepare for me far better things now than when, p339more free from care, I fancied that thy approval furthered my hopes; when my house was gay and prosperous in the great abundance of its luxury; and when the pageantry of my rank flourished no less in its setting of deferential crowds and throngs of supporting clients. That in those days I loved such things, quickly doomed to perish, I now regret, and with perception improving with old age I recognise at last that to my profit they were withdrawn from me, that by the loss of earthly and failing riches I might learn to seek rather those which will endure for ever. 'Tis late, indeed, but nought, O God, is ever late with thee who, continuing without end, knowest not how to make an end of pity, and knowest how to aid those who unaided know not how, by anticipating the prayers of many ere they ask, and by providing good things for us beyond what we seek — and who to the misguided13 also, whatso each one prays for himself, dost refuse full many a request, though ready to grant things more expedient to those wise enough to prefer thy gifts to their own wishes. For how much better than I myself thou didst know me and my character thou didst prove in preventing me when, foreseeing that I was venturing on a task beyond my strength, though of thyself didst take better measure for me by thwarting my designs which aimed too high in venturing to live after the perfect pattern of a monk, though my home was full of dear relatives who seemed to have the right to claim for themselves continuance of my wonted care — sons, mother, wife's mother, wife, with p341the considerable company of their attendants: for to expose all these together to the strangeness of a foreign land neither reason, nor affection, nor religious feeling would allow. But thy mighty hand divine and foreseeing power directed all things through the counsel of the saints, who then urged me to follow the ancient custom which, once introduced by the tradition of our forefathers, our Church still retained and held. So when I had confessed such deeds as I knew needed repentance, I set myself to live under the discipline of a set rule — not, as it chanced, atoning for my sins by any meet penance, but, though of myself not without knowledge to keep the right faith, by learning the paths of error through corrupt doctrines,14 which now I reject and repudiate along with my other faults. But afterwards, when now I had passed thrice five triennia, and Easter duly came round at its appointed season, to thy holy altar, Christ my God, I returned, and through thy mercy joyfully received thy Sacrament — thrice ten and twice four years ago. Then also still unbroken were the ranks of my own family which I now found I could not leave and yet could not continually maintain, now that my foreign income was curtailed. But from seeking out my own property — whose value and position, I recall, was set forth by me in a previous passage — I was hindered by my wife who stubbornly refused to yield for our general good, refusing from undue fear to make the voyage; and I held it right for me not to tear her away anywhere against her will, and no less wrong to leave her, tearing her children from her.

p343 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Thus disappointed in my brightening hopes of enjoying repose on my own property after so many misfortunes, I now spend my days in perpetual exile with varying fortunes, long since deprived of my dear ones. For first my wife's mother and my mother died; then my wife also, who, when she lived, thwarted my natural hopes through the hindrance of her fears, and in her death caused me grief in being reft from me at a time when her life, if continuous with mine, might have been more serviceable in affording my old age consolations which now it lacked, as my sons left me. These went, not with like aims, indeed, nor at the same time; but both alike were fired with the desire for freedom which they thought they could find in greater measure at Bordeaux, albeit in company with Gothic settlers. And though I grieved that their desires thus ran counter to my own, yet I thought that this same thing would so be made up to me that their care while present in Bordeaux would advance the interests of their absent father, namely, by gradually sharing with me of their own will the income of our property, such as it might be.15 But soon was one — a youth, yet already a priest — hurried off untimely by a sudden death, leaving me bitter sorrow; while all such of my possessions as he held were wholly torn from me by the single act of many robbers. Moreover, he also, who was left as though to console me, ill-starred alike in his course and its consequence, experienced both the king's friendship and his enmity, and after losing almost all my goods came to a like end.

p345 [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] When thus all hope of that solace, which I thought I might gain through my family, was withdrawn, finding, though late, that all things we desire are rather to be sought of thee, O bounteous God, with whom all power rests, I chose at length to settle awhile at Marseilles, a city where indeed were many saints dear to me, but only a small property, part of my family estate. Here no fresh revenues were like to give rise to great hopes — no tilth tended by appointed labourers, no vineyards (on which alone that city relies to procure from elsewhere every necessary of life), but, as a refuge for my loneliness, only a house in the city with a garden near, and a small plot, not destitute of vines, indeed, and fruit-trees, but without land without tillage. Yet the outlay of a little toil induced me to lavish pains in tilling the vacant part — scarce four full acresc — of my exhausted land, and to build a house upon the crest of the rock, lest I should seem to have reduced the extent of soil available. Further, for the outlay which the needs of life demand, I made it my hope to earn them by renting land, so long as my house remained well stocked with slaves, and while my more active years furnished me with undiminished strength. But afterwards, when my fortunes in a world ever variable changed for the worse in both these respects, by degrees, I admit, I was broken down by troubles and by age: so as a wanderer, poor, bereaved of my loved ones, I readily inclined to new designs, and, greatly wavering betwixt various purposes, thought it profitable to return to Bordeaux. Yet my efforts did not attain success; though expediency seconded my prayers allied with it. p347This I may lawfully believe to have been ordained by thee, O Christ, for the strengthening of my faith, as I suppose, that by prolonged experience I might gradually find out how far thy favour could avail me, when, though deprived of means through countless losses, I still saw the semblance16 of a house always remained to me, and my means ofttimes replenished by thy providence. For this lot, indeed, I know I owe thee boundless thanks, O God; yet on my own account I know not whether I can rejoice with a full self-respect — because, whether in occupying a house in semblance still my own, or in contentedly resigning to my wealthy sons17 all that can still be thought of as my own, I suffer myself to be supported at others' charges18 — did not our faith come to my aid, teaching that nothing is our own; so that we may as surely consider others' goods to be ours, as we are bound to share our own with others.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Yet in this same state of life thou didst not suffer me long to drowse in doubt, but unasked, O God, didst speedily deign to comfort me; and — ever wont to soothe with gentle remedies my old age weakened at various times with divers sicknesses — now also thou didst enable it to grow young again. For when thou hadst shown I could no longer hope for further profit from my grandfather's property; and when all that also which in my poverty I was able to hold at Marseilles was retained by me under the terms of a written contract, the freehold now being lost — thou didst raise up for p349me a purchaser among the Goths who desired to acquire the small farm, once wholly mine, and of his own accord sent me a sum, not indeed equitable, yet nevertheless a godsend, I admit, for me to receive, since thereby I could at once support the tottering remnants of my shattered fortune and escape fresh hurt to my cherished self-respect.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Rejoicing in my enrichment with this exceeding gift, to thee, Almighty God, I owe fresh thanks, such as may almost overwhelm and bury all those preceding, whereof each page of mine holds record. And although my constant devotion, grown too lengthy, has o'erspread its wide limits this while past, and almost calls itself to halt; yet it knows not how to make an end of dwelling on the gifts I owe to thee, O Christ. This I make my only good, this I feel must be held fast, this with my whole heart I long to secure — in all places everywhere and at all times continually, in utterance to tell of thee, and in silence to remember thee. Wherefore — owing all myself to thee, O God most excellent, and all things that are mine — as I began this work from thee, so in finishing it I end to thee; and while I have often prayed thee earnestly, now much more fervently I beseech thee — seeing that in this decrepit age which I now spend I see nought more to be feared but death itself, and cannot readily descry what further I can desire — whichever way thy will inclines,19 grant me, I pray, a heart unflinching in the face of any sorrow, and make it steadfast by the gift of thy power; that I who long have lived obedient to the laws approved p351of thee, and seek to win thy promise of salvation, may not too greatly dread the hour of death — now nearer by reason of my advanced age, though every season of life is subject to him. And at the crisis of my changeful life may no idle chances — for these, I trust, may be avoided under thy leadership, O God — distress me with misdoubtful fears; but whatever lot awaits me at my end let hope of beholding thee, O Christ, assuage it, and let all fearful doubts be dispelled by the sure confidence that alike while I am in this mortal body I am thine, since all is thine, and that when released from it I shall be in some part of thy body.


The Editor's Notes:

1 Literally "success to my writings and fulfilment to my prayers"; but it is desirable to reproduce the play on effectum . . . profectum.

2 The reference is to the cycle of ages; cp. Virgil, Ecl. IV.5.

3 i.e. Vicarius (deputy of the Prefect) of Macedonia. But possibly the rendering may be merely "performed the functions of the illustrious Prefect."

4 i.e. "on the heights which dominate the world." But the expression is very obscure.

5 Culpa is a transgression of moral, crimen of statutory, law.

6 i.e. the house was to be equipped with summer and winter quarters — the latter heated by hypocausts such as may be seen in the existing remains of the more important Roman houses.

7 i.e. these visits, though long, passed without any friction arising to disturb the relations between Paulinus and his parents.

8 Priscus Attalus was an Ionian and originally a Pagan. He was a Senator and Praefect of the city at the second siege of Rome. He was set up as a puppet Emperor by the Goths, but deposed in 410 A.D. He remained in the company of Ataulf the Goth, at whose wedding with Placidia he performed as a musician. During the revolt of Jovinus he was again set up as a rival Emperor, but was soon abandoned, and in 416 A.D. was banished by Honorius to Lipari. On Attalus see Gibbon (ed. Bury), III.318 ff.

9 Alaric's brother-in‑law, who brought reinforcements of Goths and Huns to aid Alaric in 409 A.D. In 410 he became King of the Visigoths on the death of Alaric. Later he married Placidia, sister of Honorius, and was murdered at Barcelona (see Gibbon, ed. Bury, III.313, 318 ff.). The name Ataulf survives in the modern Adolf.

10 cp. Ausonius, Epicedion l. 4 (Vol. I, pp42 f.), where Julius Ausonius (Paulinus' great-grandfather) declares that Bazas was his native place.

11 i.e. Ataulf.

12 The army besieging Bazas was partly of Goths and partly of Alans. The latter, headed by Ataulf, went over to the Roman side and prepared to defend the city against the Goths.

Thayer's Note — or rather, that of John Ranger, a reader much savvier than I, who spotted the slip by the Loeb editor: Goar was the king of the Alans, not Ataulf. Ataulf was king of the Visigoths. How precisely to correct the Loeb editor's mistake remains a puzzle to me.

13 i.e. those who pray for what they themselves desire, but which is not for their ultimate good.

14 Paulinus passed a season in performing some form of penance. How he came to lapse into "corrupt doctrine" (possibly Arianism) is not clear.

15 i.e. he hoped that his sons living in Bordeaux might be able to recover some of the wreck of his property. Paulinus himself seems to have feared to reside in the city.

16 i.e. the house was only his by courtesy.

17 Yet his sons (ll. 498 ff.) had died previously. Possibly these are younger sons ignored in the earlier passage.

18 The use of the present tense here suggests that ll. 564 ff. (in which he tells of his improved fortunes) were subsequently added.

19 i.e. whether sorrows are or are not to be my lot.


Thayer's Notes:

a There is no indication, either in the text itself of course, nor elsewhere, that the writer was a saint. He is definitely not to be confused with the saint usually meant by that title, St. Paulinus of Nola: see Prof. White's Introduction.

b See my note on the homepage.

c Strictly speaking, four iugera: very near 2½ acres = 1 hectare.


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