Sulpicius Severus, Surnamed The Christian Sallust

, an ecclesiastical writer, who flourished about the beginning of the fifth century, was a disciple of St. Martin of Tours, whose life he has written; and friend of Pauliims, bishop of Nola, with whom he held a constant and intimate correspondence. He was illustrious for his birth, his eloquence, and still more for his piety and virtue. After he had shone with great lustre at the bar, he married very advantageously; but, losing his wife soon after, he quilted the world, and became a priest. He was born at Agen, in the province of Aquitain, which at that time produced the best poets, the best rhetoricians, and the best orators of the Roman empire, of those at least who wrote in Latin. He lived sometimes at Elisso, and sometimes at Toulouse. Some have affirmed, that he was bishop of the Bitu rices; but they have erroneously confounded him with another Severus Sulpicius, who was bishop of that people, and died at the end of the sixth century. Sulpicius lived till about the year 420. He is said to have been at one time seduced by the Pelagians; and that, returning to his old principles, he imposed a silence upon himself for the rest of his days, as the best atonement he could make for his error; but some think that this silence meant only his refraining from writing or controversy. The principal of his works was his “Historia Sacra,” in two books; in which he gives a succinct account of all the reroaikible things that passed in the Jewish or Christian churches, from the creation of the world to about the year 400. He wrote, also, the “Life of St. Martin,” as we have said already; “Three Letters upon the death and virtues of this saint;” and “Three Dialogues;” the first upon the miracles of the Eastern monks, and the two last upon the extraordinary qualities and graces of St. Martin. These, with seven other epistles never before printed with his works, were all revised, corrected, and published with notes, in a very elegant edition, by Le Clerc, at Leipsic, in 1709, 8vo. There is another by Jerom de Prato, printed at Venice in 1741—54, 2 vols. 4to, the text of which is thought the most correct. | Sulpicius has a purity in his style, far beyond the age in which he lived. He has joined a very concise manner of expressing himself to a remarkable perspicuity, and in this has equalled even Sallust himself, whom he always imitates and sometimes quotes. He is not, indeed, correct throughout in his “History of the Church;” and is very credulous upon the point of miracles. He admits also several opinions, which have no foundation in Scripture; and he is in some instances defective, taking no notice, for example, of the reign of Julian, &c. His “Dialogues” contain many interesting particulars, respecting the manners and singularities of the Eastern monks; the disturbances which the books of Origen had occasioned in Egypt and Palestine, and other matters of some curiosity. 1


Cave, vol. I.—Dupin.Lardner’s Works.—Gen. Dict.—Saxii Onomast.