The Delegation of Symmachus

When a delegation led by Symmachus arrived from Rome to protest against the measures, Gratian refused them an audience. This must have been a staggering blow to Symmachus' pride, apart from its clear political implications; it was as much a rejection of the senatorial aristocrat himself as of the aristocrats' ancient, revered pagan religion. In addition, members of the delegation had with them the pontifical robes, to remind Gratian that as Pontifex Maximus he was to protect the traditional shrines, priesthoods, and cults, not cut off their support. In a dramatic gesture, Gratian refused the pontifical robe. He was the last Roman emperor to hold the title, for the college of Pontiffs was abolished under Theodosius in 395 C.E. Why Gratian, heretofore eager to promote good relations with the Roman senate, refused to see the powerful aristocratic delegation from Rome and why he refused to acknowledge his duties as Pontifex Maximus, even going so far as to spurn the title and the robes, may be traced to the influence of Ambrose. Before the delegation from Rome arrived in Milan, Ambrose had already presented the emperor with a protest signed by Christian senators. They claimed that they were not in support of the delegation of senators and that they would resign from the senate if Gratian's policies were reversed. Pope Damasus (366-384 C.E.) himself, the primate of the church in Rome, had forwarded the protest to Ambrose.

0 0

Post a comment