ST. HILARY OF POITIERS
JOHN GIBSON CAZENOVE
The biographies contained in this small volume are based, like the rest of the series, upon a study of the original authorities. These are, in the case of St. Hilary, most especially the very considerable writings which he has left us. In the case of St. Martin, we have to depend almost exclusively upon the comparatively small treatises of Sulpicius Severus; for St. Gregory of Tours, though greatly extolling him, tells us hardly anything concerning Martin’s earthly career, and the poems of Paulinus of Perigueux and of Venantius Fortunatus are little more than reproductions in verse of the prose narrative of the earlier biographer.
It is right to confess my obligations to the authors cited in the notes, not only for the particular information therein mentioned, but also for much general light upon the topics discussed. Let me add a word of gratitude, for what are sometimes called side-lights, to Dean Merivale’s “History of the Romans under the Empire”; to “Les Cesars” of Count Franz de Champagny; to the “Heathenism and Judaism” and to “The First Age of the Church” of Dr. Von Dollinger; and to the Commentary of Bishop Lightfoot on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Colossians. I have also made free use, sometimes for elucidation, sometimes for confirmation of conclusions reached independently, of the “Dictionary of Christian Biography” which is in progress under the editorship of Dr. William Smith and Professor Wace; more particularly of the articles on Damasus and Liberius, and of my own contributions on Hilarius Pictaviensis and Martinus Turonensis.
The very mixed character of the Emperor Maximus is coloured with a more romantic tint than is discernible in the pages of Sulpicius and of the pagan historian Pacatus in the poem entitled “The Dream of Maxen Wledig”, which forms one of “The Visions of England” depicted for us by Sir. Francis Palgrave. The fact that the poem is inspired by “The Mabinogion”, the collection of the legends of that highly poetic country, Wales, may suffice to account for the apparent discrepancy. If any of my readers are induced to compare the two portraits, they may perhaps be inclined to think that of the Latin historians the more probable. But in any case they will, if I mistake not, feel grateful for the reference to a book which, over and above its poetic merits, is so full of instruction and suggestiveness to all students of history.
J. G. C.
Edinburgh, Mid summer, 1883.