Early Church Fathers
37 As to the rectores patrimonii, see Proleg. p. vii.
38 Titulum imponere seems to have meant originally setting up a scroll or tablet on a property to assert a title to it; it might be in some cases with a view to sale, letting, or to confiscation.
39 I.e. the Proetor of Sicily.
40 Natalem, i.e. birthday; denoting usually, in the case of a dignitary, the day of his inauguration; and, in the case of a deceased saint, the day of his death.
41 Natalem, i.e. birthday; denoting usually, in the case of a dignitary, the day of his inauguration; and, in the case of a deceased saint, the day of his death.
42 He was the subdeacon who had charge of the patrimony in Campania, as appears from other letters to him (see Index of Epistles).
43 Rector patrimonii and defensor in Campania. See above Ep. 39.
44 In Campania, hodie Sorrento.
45 Gregory made the acquantance of Leander, bishop of the Metropolitan See of Hispalis (Seville) in Spain, during his residence at Constantinople. It was at the instigation of Leander together with the request of the monks who had followed him from his Roman Monastery to Constantinople, that he had begun when there, to expound the book of Job. The earlier part of his "Moralium libri, sive Exposido in librum B. Job." had been delivered in oral discourses at Constantinople, but afterwards revised, arranged, and completed in thirty-five books. The whole when finished, was addressed to Leander. All this appears from the "Epistola Missoria" prefixed to the completed treatise. Gregory evidently had a peculiar affection for Leander. Other epistles addressed to him are V. 49, and IX. 121. He is spoken of also in the Dialogues of Gregory. Lib. III. cap. 31, being there referred to as "dudum mihi in amicitiis familiariter junctus."
46 Reccared, the Visigoth King in Spain, had declared himself a Catholica.d.587 and formally renounced Arianism and adopted the Catholic Creed at the Council of Toledo,a.d.589. The date of the letter before us, if rightly placed, isa.d.591.
47 Rusticos ecclesioe;i.e. the native cultivater of the land, called elsewhere coloni, and by Cicero (In Verrem),aratores. See Proleg.
48 It appears from Cicero that, when the Romans annexed Sicily, they found the greater part of the land subject by ancient custom to a tithe of the corn and other produce, and that such tithe continued to be enacted by the Roman government, which derived thence its main revenue from the island: further, that the custom had grown up of allowing a pecuniary composition for the tithe, and that this custom, intended originally for the accommodation of the tithe payers, had been abused to their detriment by over valuation in years when corn was cheap. One of the charges against Verres was that this had been done under him as Proetor. When wheat was selling in Sicily for two or at the most three sesterces per modius, the peasants had been made to compound for their tithes at the rate of three denarii, i.e. twelve secterces. (Cic. in Verr. Divin. 10; Act II. Lib. iii. 6, 18). The Roman Church having succeeded the Roman Government in the lordship of the "Patrimony of St. Peter" it appears that the Church officials had not been guiltless of similar unfair exactions. Hence the direction here in this Epistle that the valuations of the tithe insuccessive years should follow the market price.
49 This refers to the corn which was sent annually in large quantities to Rome, and on which the Romans were in a great measure dependent for their supply. Those in Sicily who furnished it were, it seems, responsible for its delivery, taking the risk of loss by sea. But it rested with the Church officials to provide for its being shipped; and, if any loss on the voyage ensued from their delay, the parties otherwise responsible were to be indemnified.
50 Ex sextariaticis. This appears to have been a technical term, denoting unjust exaction of the following kind. The peasants (rustici) on an estate had to supply, let us say so many modii of corn to be shipped for Rome. But the modius varied in capacity. It is said originally to have contained sixteen sextarii, a sextarius being between a pint and a quart. But it appears below that one of eighteen sextarii was in use in the time of Gregory, and by him allowed. This limit, however, seems to have been sometimes exceeded, and herein consisted the abuse complained of. In a subsequent epistle (XIII. 34) a modius ofeven twenty-five sextarii is spoken of as having been in one case used:-"We understand that the modius by which the husband-men (coloni) were compelled to give their corn was one of twenty-five sextarii."
51 Massis. These massoe might include several farms (fundi, or poedia), and were let or leased to farmers (conductores), who made their profit out of them. Cf. xiv. 14, "Massam quoe Aquas Salvias nuncupatur cum omnibus fundis suis;" also v. 31, "Conductoribus massarum per Galliam."
52 Conductores. See last note.
53 Pensantem ad septuagena bina. It would seem that, in addition to the abuse of using modii of too large capacity, there was the additional one of exacting more modii than were legally due, three and a half being added to every seventy; i. e. one toevery twenty. Cf. Cicero in Verrem, "Ab Siculis aratoribus, proeter decumam, ternoe quinquagesimoe (i.e. three for every fifty) exigebantur." If the reading septuagina bina be correct, it would seem that Gregory allowed two to be added to every seventy perhaps on the ground of long-established custom. The readings, however, vary; and what was meant is uncertain.
54 Siliquoe. In Roman weights the uncia contained 144 siliquoe, and the as or libra 12 uncioe. The reference seems to be to cases in which the grain or other produce was rendered by weight. The just pound was not to be exceeded.
55 Proeter excepta et vilia cibaria. Cibaria bears the general sense of victuals or provender; and specifically, "Cibarium, teste, Plin. I. 18, c. 9, ubi de siligine agit, dicitur farina quoe post pollinem seu Florum excussum restat, postquam nihil aliud remanet nisi furfures: the second sort of flour. Eadem dicitur secundarium. Ex ea qui conficitur vocatur panis cibarius, quia solet esse communis vulgi cibus." Facciol: ti. The adjective cibarius is applied to provisions generally wine, oil, bread, &c., of a common and inferior kind, and consumed by the common people. The reference in the text may be to refuse and inferior grain or other breadstuff, of which an excessive weight might be exacted to make up for its inferior quality.
56 Colonis, meaning the same as rustici. See note 1.
57 Burdationis. This appears to have been a kind of land tax, payable in the first instance, before the peasants had been able to convert their produce into money. "Burdatio est pensio quoe a rusticis proestatur proedii nomine, quod Burdam vocant, nostri Borde."Alteserra.
58 Auctionariis. "Mercator qui res suas auget; et proprie dicitur ille qui hic vel illic res parvas et veteres et tritas eruit. ut postea carius vendat." Du Cange.
59 Commoda. The word commodum denotes properly a bounty (as to soldiers over and above their pay), a gratuity, a voluntary offering, though used also for a stipend, or payment generally. The peasants (rusticii) might not marry without permission. Cf. xii. 25, "ut eum districte debeas commonere ne filios suos quolibet ingenio vel excusatione foris alicubi in conjugio, sociare proesumat, sed in ea massa cui lege et conditione ligati sunt socientur." For such permission they were, it seems, accustomed to pay a fee, in theory perhaps voluntary, but virtually exacted as a due.
60 Because a fine would have to be paid out of the common substance of the family, and so all would be punished for the offence of one.
61 On the office of defensores, see Proleg.
62 See note 2.
63 Suppositorium. The word itself might denote anything put under another, or supporting another. Here its being associated with a cup (calix), and both being called small vessels (vascula), suggests the translation in the text.
64 The meaning of these directions is obscure owing to our ignorance of the circumstances.
65 The word lapsi was the regular one for denoting clergy or others, who had fallen into sin rendering them liable to excommunication.
66 It was against monastic rule for monks or nuns to retain property of their own aiter profession, or the power of disposing of it by will. It became the common property of the monastery Cf. Justinian, Novell. V. c. 38. See also what was said above about the goods of lapsed members of religious communities. In a subsequent Epistle (IX, 7), Gregory annulls a will that had been made by an abbess Sirica. The case of one Probus, an abbot (Appendix, Ep. IX.), who was allowed to make a will is no real exception to the rule. For Gregory gave him special permission to do so on his own petition, on the equitable ground that at the time of his hasty ordination as abbot, not having been a monk previously, he had neglected to make provision for his son by will, as he had intended to do, and as he had then a right to do. In tbe case before us Gregory acts with lenient consideration. Though condemning the bequest of the monk John to the guardian Fantinus, he allows the latter to take it on the ground that he deserved, but had not so far received, a proper remuneration for his services.
67 Magnificum virum. Who this Alexander was is not known. His designation implies a position of rank. An Alexander appears afterwards as Proetor of Sicily (VI. 8): but the Proetor of this year was Justinus (see above, Ep. II.), who was apparently sncceeded by Libertinus (III. 38).
68 Ancilloe Dei. So were called, not professed nuns only, but also others who devoted themselves to virginity and religious lives Gregory's own aunts, Tarsilla and Aemiliana, who lived as dedicated virgins in their own home. were instances. See Proleg. p. xiv.
69 Amulas. "Amula minor ama vas vinarium, in quo sacra oblatio continetur." Du Cange.
70 "Decimatas vini duas pensantes per unamquamque decimatam libras 60 (Ap. Anastasium in Hadriano). . . mensuroe vinarioe species videtur." Du Cange.
71 Honoratus was Gregory's apocrisiarius at Constantinople.
72 Anthemius was Defensor ecclesioe in Campania.