left Rome for Palestine in 397. Jerome's friends Marcella and Pammachius convinced Pope Anastasius (sed. 399-402) to condemn Origen's teaching.

From 380 to 410, the salons of the Christian Roman aristocracy probably buzzed with theological argument. Jerome's exegetical work had found intellectual support and informed feedback in a kind of upper-class female graduate seminar made up of ascetic women like Paula and Marcella, some of whom could read scripture in the original languages. In 397, Jerome claimed that 1 Corinthians 1.26 no longer held true for Rome: now there were many learned and noble monks.87 Urban monasticism flourished in Rome and fierce controversies raged about what made for a truly Christian way of life. Not everyone endorsed Jerome's views. Jovinian, a lapsed ascetic, denied the superiority of an ascetic lifestyle and Mary's perpetual virginity. Jovinian was not only condemned by Roman and Milanese synods and exiled by the emperor, he also provoked Jerome's embarrassing Against Jovinian.88 Another spiritual guide for the Roman aristocracy was the British ascetic Pelagius. He apparently feared the demoralising effects of Augustine's doctrine of grace as related in his Confessions. For Pelagius and his followers, free will - the inalienable faculty to choose - is identical with the divine grace that empowers Christian asceti-cism.89 Theological controversy erupted with Jerome and Augustine attacking Pelagius. After 411, the debate was carried on in North Africa, in southern Italy and Sicily, in Palestine, and again in Rome; throughout the fifth century, Augustine's doctrine of grace continued to be debated in the monasteries of southern Gaul. When the Council of Orange (529) defined a moderate position concerning Augustine's teaching on grace and predestination, it collaborated with the pope and his theologians. Outstanding theologians on the throne of Peter were the exception rather than the rule: Leo (sed. 440-61), as we have noted, played an important role in the Christological controversy and was a prolific preacher; Gelasius (sed. 492-6) defined the distinction between episcopal and royal power,90 and wrote against the Miaphysites; Gregory the Great (sed. 590-604) was a preacher, able administrator and missionary strategist, and penned a commentary on Job and a handbook for church leaders.

Of the Italian churches, only Milan rivalled the prestige of Rome - and that, briefly. During the episcopate of Ambrose (374-97), Milan's influence reached its pinnacle. Ambrose was one of the earliest aristocratic bishops (his father

87 Jerome, Letter 66.4; see S. Rebenich, Hieronymus, 154-80.

88 Y.-M. Duval, L'affaireJovinien.

89 Y.-M. Duval, 'Pelage en son temps', SP38 (2001): 95-118. J.-M. Salamito, Les virtuoses etla multitude, argues that Pelagian spirituality was attuned to the social values of the Roman aristocracy.

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