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of Caesarea owned estates throughout central Asia Minor and in the past had paid taxes in three different provinces. Yet none of this family's sons served as a decurion. Basil became a priest and then metropolitan bishop of Caesarea, Gregory served as bishop of Nyssa, and Peter became bishop of Sebasteia. John Chrysostom's ancestors, including his father, had been civil servants. In North Africa Augustine's father was a humble municipal decurion. Augustine himself tried to make a career as a teacher of rhetoric in Milan, before returning to Africa to become a priest and then bishop of Hippo. The father of Severus, bishop of Antioch in the early sixth century, was a decurion, although his father in turn had already been a bishop. Service as a bishop in fact became such an attractive alternative for decurions that some men even paid fees to ensure their consecrations. In the early fifth century, bishops in western Asia Minor were forced to confess their bribery: 'We thought this was a suitable strategy so that we might expect to be liberated from service on the town council.' But these bishops were not embarrassed by their corrupt behaviour. Instead, even though they were on the verge of being deposed, they were more worried about the wrath they might face at home. 'We would like to recover the gold we paid. Some of us had to sell our wives' clothing.' By taking advantage of this immunity, in one or two generations men could transform their curial families into ecclesiastical families. 4

Some municipal notables started careers in the imperial administration before switching. Bishop Eleusius of Cyzicus had previously served at the imperial court; Gregory of Nazianzus claimed that his brother had decided to abandon his office as a treasurer responsible for imperial revenues in Bithynia in order to serve at another 'court' in heaven. For these lesser magistrates the heightened status of bishops and clerics had made clerical service an acceptable alternative to service in the imperial administration. Other secular backgrounds were apparently more difficult to assimilate to episcopal service. Only a few former soldiers became bishops. The most famous was Martin of Tours, who surpassed his lengthy hitch of almost twenty-five years in the army with an even longer tenure as bishop of Tours during the later fourth century. The clergy of Gaul seem to have been open to enlisting veterans. Another was Victricius, Martin's younger contemporary, who became bishop of Rouen. Likewise very few senators or men who had held high offices in the imperial administration became clerics during the fourth century. Those who did

4 Careers of Cappadocian bishops: R. Van Dam, Families and friends. John Chrysostom's father: Palladius, Dialogus de vita lohannis Chrysostomi 5. Augustine's father: Augustine, Confessiones 2.3.5; Possidius, VitaAugustini 1. Severus' father: Zachariah Scholasticus, Vita Severi (PO 2: 11). Bribery: Palladius, Dialogus de vita lohannis Chrysostomi 15.

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