Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1958
Bishops gathered at the Council of Aquileia in AD 381 ask the emperors to enforce the decisions of their gathering and to demote Bishop Palladius of Ratiaria, Secundianus of Singidunum and the presbyter Attalus from an unknown church in the Danubian provinces. Ambrose of Milan, Letter 4 extra collectionem (Maur. 10), written in Milan, AD 381.
Epistula extra collectionem 4 = Gesta epistula 2 (Maur. 20)
Imperatoribus clementissimis et Christianis beatissimisque principibus Gratiano et Valentiniano et Theodosio sanctum concilium quod convenit Aquileiae
Ambrose relates the debate between himself and the Arian bishops, Palladius and Secundianus.
8. Horruimus, clementissimi principes, tam dira sacrilegia pravosque doctores; ne ulterius populos deciperent quos tenebant, sacerdotio putavimus abdicandos, quoniam subditi libelli impietatibus concinebant. Neque enim dignum est ut sacerdotium eius sibi vindicent quem negaverunt. Vestram fidem vestram gloriam deprecamur, ut reverentiam imperii vestri deferastis auctori censeatisque impietatis assertores et adulteros veritatis datis apicibus clementiae vestrae ad iudicia competentia et ab ecclesiae nostrae pravitatis legatos sancti subrogentur sacerdotes.
9. Adtalum quoque presbyterum de praevaricatione confessum et Palladi sacrilegiis inhaerentem parilis sententia comprehendat. [...]
In what follows, Ambrose speaks about Julian Valens, Arian bishop of Poetovio, and about the Photinians in Sirmium.
(ed. Zelzer 1982: 316, 321-322)
Epistula extra collectionem 4 = Gesta epistula 2 (Maur. 20)
To the most clement emperors, and the most blessed Christian princes Gratian, Valentinian and Theodosius the holy council that met at Aquileia sends this address.
Ambrose relates the debate between himself and the Arian bishops, Palladius and Secundianus.
8. We were shocked, o most clement princes, at such dreadfully sacrilegious sayings, and such perverse teachers. So that they can no longer deceive the people whom they were governing, we judged that they ought to be deposed from their priesthood, since they were in agreement with the impious doctrines of the pamphlet put before them. Nor is it right that they should claim for themselves the priesthood of Him whom they have denied. We therefore appeal to your faith and to your glory to show the respect of your imperial office to Him who gave it you, and that you decree that through the instrument of letters of your Clemency to competent courts these advocates of impiety and corruptors of truth are to be banished from the threshold of the Church, in order that bishops that are indeed holy can be chosen in place of the condemned men by delegates of our humble selves.
9. The same sentence should also include the presbyter Attalus, who has admitted his offence, and who adheres to the impious doctrines of Palladius. [...]
In what follows, Ambrose speaks about Julian Valens, Arian bishop of Poetovio, and about the Photinians in Sirmium.
(trans. Liebeschuetz 2010: 222, 225-226, slightly adapted)


The letter was sent shortly after the Council of Aquileia in September of 381. It is addressed to all three emperors but most probably it was intended only for Gratian who wielded power over Italy and the Danubian provinces. See the discussion in [921].

Place of event:

  • Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia
  • Danubian provinces and Illyricum
  • Milan
  • Aquileia

About the source:

Author: Ambrose of Milan
Title: Letters, Epistulae
Origin: Milan (Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Ambrose was a bishop of Milan from 374 until his death in 397. We have a collection of his letters organized in three parts. The first one consists of 77 letters organized in ten books most probably by Ambrose himself. He published his letters at some point after the death of Theodosius in 395. From this collection, Book 4 is missing as well as some letters of Book 2 and 4. The second part is the group of letters that survived outside the collection (extra collectionem), and the third is a group of letters concering the council of Aquileia in 381 (together with the acts of this council). For a detailed discussion on the letters and further reading see Liebeschuetz 2010: 27-48 and Nauroy 2016: 146-160.
M. Zelzer ed., Sancti Ambrosi opera pars decima epistularum liber decimus. Epistulae extra collectionem. Gesta concili Aquileiensis, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Lationorum 82/3, Wien 1982
Ambrose of Milan, Political Letters and Speeches, trans. J.H.W.G. Liebeschuetz, Translated Texts for Historians 43, Liverpool 2010
T.D. Barnes, "Ambrose and the Basilicas of Milan in 385 and 386: The Primary Documents and their Implications”, Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum / Journal of Ancient Christianity 4 (2000), 282–299.
C.M. Chin, "The Bishops’s „Two Bodies”: Ambrose and the Basilicas of Milan”, Church History 79 (2010), 531–555.
M.L. Colish, "Why the Portiana?: Reflections on the Milanese Basilica Crisis of 386”, Journal of Early Christian Studies 10 (2002), 361–372.
A. Lenox-Conyngham, "The Topography of the Basilica Conflict of A.D. 385/6 in Milan”, Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte 31 (1982), 353–363.
J.H.W.G. Liebeschuetz, Ambrose of Milan: political letters and speeches, Liverpool 2010.
J.-P. Mazières, "Les lettres d’Ambroise de Milan à Irenaeus.”, Pallas. Revue d’études antiques 26 (1979), 103–114.
N. McLynn, Ambrose of Milan: Church and Court in a Christian Capital, Berkeley 1994.
G. Nauroy, "The Letter Collection of Ambrose of Milan", [in:] Late Antique Letter Collections: A Critical Introduction and Reference Guide, ed. C. Sogno, B.K. Storin, E.J. Watts, Oakland, CA 2016, 146–160.
G. Nauroy, "Le fouet et le miel. Le combat d’Ambroise en 386 contre l’arianisme milanais”, Recherches Augustiniennes et Patristiques 23 (1988), 3–86.
G. Nauroy, "Édition et organisation du recueil des lettres d’Ambroise de Milan: une architecture cachée ou altérée?", in: La correspondance d'Ambroise de Milan, textes réunis et préparés par A. Canellis, Saint-Étienne 2012, 19-61.
J.-R. Palanque, Saint Ambroise et l’Empire romain. Contribution à l’histoire des rapports de l’Église et de l’État à la fin du quatrième siècle, Paris 1933.
A. Paredi, S. Ambrogio e la sua età, Milano 1960.
J.H. Van Haeringen, "De Valentiniano II et Ambrosio. Illustrantur et digeruntur res anno 386 gestae. I. Valentinianus II basilicam adoritur (de Ambrosii epistula XX)”, Mnemosyne 5 (1937), 152–158.
D.H. Williams, Ambrose of Milan and the End of the Arian-Nicene Conflicts, Oxford 1995.


Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Arian
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Ecclesiastical administration - Participation in councils and ecclesiastical courts
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Education - Theological interest
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1958,