men of slender means clerical service offered the possibility of upward social mobility. For more distinguished local notables episcopal or clerical service offered the possibility of lateral social mobility. They might see service as a bishop or a cleric as an opportunity to avoid the onerous responsibilities of municipal service while still retaining their capacity to benefit their cities. The appropriation of aristocratic ideology meant that even senators and their descendants might be attracted to episcopal service. The rise of bishops was as much a social and political process as a religious transformation.9

Hierarchy and rivalries

Just as the roles of bishops developed within the context of traditional classical cities, so the church's organisation corresponded to the structure of the imperial administration. This imitation of the civil hierarchy reinforced and clarified a hierarchy among bishops and their sees. By the early fourth century the empire had been divided into over one hundred provinces, each administered by a provincial governor. Ecclesiastical provinces corresponded to these civil provinces, and the bishop of the capital city in each province became the metropolitan bishop. These metropolitan bishops were charged with convening provincial councils to resolve disputes between bishops, or between a bishop and his clergy or his congregation. Metropolitan bishops also had some jurisdiction over the other bishops in their province, and their consent was required for the appointment of new bishops. The acknowledgment of particular bishops as metropolitans was a consequence of the civil prominence of their sees as provincial capitals.

This correspondence between secular and religious hierarchies was not always smooth. Old rivalries kept reappearing. In a civil war at the end of the second century, the people of Nicomedia had supported the emperor Septimius Severus, and the people of Nicaea one of his rivals. A century later the emperor Diocletian had resided in Nicomedia as his Eastern capital. The bishop of Nicomedia was the metropolitan of the province that included Nicaea. But the great ecumenical council of 325 had met at Nicaea, and at the Council of Chalcedon the bishop of Nicaea tried to claim metropolitan rank. New rivalries popped up. In the civil administration Caesarea was a provincial capital in Palestine. One of the cities in its province was Jerusalem, which benefited from the patronage of Constantine and subsequent pious emperors to become the prime destination of pilgrims to the Holy Land. Yet the Council

9 Augustine, Epistulae 263.

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