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to the apostle Peter. A year after the Council of Constantinople had defined the respective authority of the bishops of Constantinople, Alexandria and Antioch, Damasus, the bishop of Rome, based his claim for priority upon the authority of St Peter. This precedence simply transcended any deliberations in mere councils. 'The holy church of Rome has priority over the other churches not because of the decisions in canons; it has obtained primacy through the saying of our Lord and Saviour recorded in the gospel.' In the mid-fifth century, Leo of Rome in particular emphasised the primacy of Rome's bishops in ecclesiastical affairs by stressing their standing as the full heirs of St Peter. As its population declined and its political role was diminished, Rome became a ghost town; but it still had historical memory and apostolic legend on its side.18

In the Western empire Rome certainly had no rivals as an apostolic see. Bishops from other cities hence appealed to its bishops for support in local disputes. Bishops of Arles, for instance, repeatedly appealed to Rome. With the collapse of the Roman administration in northern Gaul Arles had become the residence of the prefect of Gaul. Its bishops parlayed this enhancement of the city's civil standing into acknowledgment of their standing as metropolitans; they also began to promote the cult of St Trophimus, the legendary first bishop of Arles who hadsupposedlybeensenttoGaulbythebishop ofRome. In the early fifth century, Zosimus ofRome extended the jurisdiction of Arles over some neighbouring provinces, at the expense of the metropolitan rights of Narbonne, Marseille and Vienne. Subsequent bishops ofRome were more circumspect, however, and soon withdrew these prerogatives. In the mid-fifth century even the emperor Valentinian III rebuked Hilary, bishop of Arles, for his presumption and 'illicit audacity'. Not only had Hilary not recognised the 'reverence of the apostolic see', that is, of Rome, he was also trying to impose new bishops forcibly through his 'band of armed thugs'.19

In the Roman world provincial notables had competed relentlessly for prestige and influence. Their home cities had been the arenas for those competitions, as local worthies manoeuvred for offices and honours. Cities had also been the recipients of the generosity through which these notables solicited support and demonstrated their excellence. At the same time the cities were competing among themselves for prestige and authority. With the extension of Roman rule the emperor or his administrators were often the final arbiters, as they conferred new names and titles, distributed cults and priesthoods, or simply honoured cities with their visits. In the later Roman empire, the

18 Priority ofRome: Damasus, Explanatio fidei (ed. Turner, 1.1.2:156).

19 Rebuke of Hilary: Valentinian III, Novellae 17 (PL 54: 637).

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