Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 2100
Presbyter Paulinus, later bishop of Nola, writes to the presbyter Sulpicius Severus from Primuliacum (Gaul). Paulinus passes Sulpicius` request for historical facts on to the presbyter Rufinus of Aquileia (Italy). Paulinus of Nola, Letter 28, AD 402/404.
Letter 28 to Sulpicius Severus
5. Praeterea autem iussisti nimium opulenter tibi de paupere tuo blandiens, ut quae te de annalibus non unius gentis sed generis humani fugerent ego uidelicet quasi peritior edocerem; sed sibi inputet famem qui pauperis amici forem pulsat et promptuarium inane scrutatur. Numquam enim in haec inuestiganda et conligenda mihi contentum studium fuit. Nam etiam in tempore ueteri, quo uidebar legere nec legenda, ab historicis scriptoribus peregrinatus sum.
Attamen nunc operis tui curam gerens, quo te pro utilitate fidei nostrae inspiciendis et conferendis praeteritorum temporum rationibus occupatum indicasti, quod de me non habui de fratris unanimi opulentiore thesauro petiui; et ipsam adnotationem, quam commonitorii uice miseras litteris meis inditam, direxi ad Ruffinum presbyterum, sanctae Melani spiritali uia comitem, uere sanctum et pie doctum et ob hoc intima mihi affectione coniunctum. Si ille has, quae merito te permouent de annorum siue regnorum non congruente calculo, hiantis historiae causas non ediderit, qui et scholasticis et salutaribus litteris graece iuxta ac latine diues est, uereor ne apud alium in his regionibus frustra requiramus. Quod si praesumptioni de se meae satisfecerit, prima occasione, si dominus fauerit, transmittam unanimitati tuae, utcumque mihi super hac ratione rescripserit.
(ed. de Hartel 1894: 245-246)
Letter 28 to Sulpicius Severus
5. But you flatter yourself overmuch about your poor servant when you further bid me, as if I were more learned than you on the subject, to instruct you on those points not of national but of universal history on which you are ignorant. But he who knocks on the door of a poor friend and observes his empty cupboard should feel responsisbility for his own hunger. My studies were never directed towards the investigation and collation of historical information. Even in the old days, when I doubtless read what I ought not to have read, I always steered clear of the historians.
But I have given some thought to your project, which as you told me has engaged you in analysing and comparing the accounts of past ages in the interest of our Faith; and what I could not provide myself I have sought from the richer store of a loving brother. That note, appended as a memorandum to your letter to me, I have forwarded to Rufinus, a presbyter who is the companion of holy Melania on her spiritual journey. He is truly holy, pious, yet learned man, and so we are on terms of intimate friendship. He is equally fluent in both Greek and Latin literature, both the secular and the sacred. So if he cannot account for the vagaries in reckoning of years and reigns which rightly trouble you as gaps in history, I fear that consultation of any other authority in the West may be in vain. If he meets my demand on him, I shall forward it to your dear self at the first opportunity, if the Lord is kind, whatever his reply to me is on the matter.
(trans. Walsh 1966: 2.98-99)


This letter was most probably between 402 and 404, possibly along the letter 32, see Walsh 1966: 2.321.
At the time of the composition of this letter in the early 5th century, both Rufinus and Melania the Elder were staying in Italy. Rufinus journeyed frequently between Rome and Aquileia.
Sulpicius was at that time writing his "Chronicle".

Place of event:

  • Italy south of Rome and Sicily
  • Gaul
  • Rome
  • Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia
  • Nola
  • Primuliacum
  • Rome
  • Aquileia

About the source:

Author: Paulinus of Nola
Title: Letters, Epistulae
Origin: Nola (Italy south of Rome and Sicily)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Paulinus of Nola (Pontius Metropius Paulinus) was born into a very affluent family ca 335. Although most of his estates were located near Bordeaux in Gaul, he was appointed the governor of Campania in his early twenties. He then returned to Gaul. In 389, after being baptized, Paulinus and his wife moved to Spain. They both started to follow a semi-monastic way of life. Following the death of his newborn son, Paulinus was ordered a presbyter at Christmas 394. In 395, Paulinus established a monastery in Nola in Campania. He served as a bishop of that city from 409 till his death in 431. Paulinus corresponded with many principal Christian intellectuals of the era, including Sulpicius Severus, Jerome, Ambrose of Milan, and Augustine of Hippo. Of this rich epistolographic corpus, however, only fifty-one letters survived. For the list of all letters Paulinus sent as a presbyter, and their addressees, see [2059].
G. de Hartel ed., S. Pontii Meropii Paulini Nolani opera, vol. 1 Epistulae, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 29, Prague-Wien-Leipzig 1894.
Letters of St. Paulinus of Nola, trans. P.G. Walsh, Ancient Christian Writers 35, New York 1966.


Languages used - Greek
Writing activity - Correspondence
Entertainment - Secular reading
Travel and change of residence
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Relation with - Another presbyter
Relation with - Woman
Education - Theological interest
Education - Special skills
Devotion - Reading the Bible and devotional literature
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER2100,