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Enno'dius, Magnus Felix

was born at Arles about A. D. 476, of a very illustrious family, which numbered among its members and connexions many of the most illustrious personages of that epoch.

Having been despoiled while yet a boy of all his patrimony by the Visigoths, he was educated at Milan by an aunt, upon whose death he found himself at the age of sixteen again reduced to total destitution. From this unhappy position he was extricated by a wealthy marriage, but having been prevailed upon by St. Epiphanius to renounce the pleasures of the world, he received ordination as a deacon, and induced his wife to renter a convent. His labours in the service of the Church were so conspicuous that he was chosen bishop of Pavia in A. D. 511, and in 514 was sent, along with Fortunatus, bishop of Catania. and others, by Pope Hormisda to Constantinople in order to combat the progress of the Eutychian heresy. The embassy having proved unsuccessful in consequence of the emperor, who was believed to be favourable to the opinions in question, having refused to acknowledge the authority of the Roman pontiff, Ennodius was despatched a second time in 517, along with Peregrinus, bishop of Misenum, bearing a confession of faith, which the eastern churches were invited or rather required to subscribe. On this occasion the envoy was treated with great harshness by Anastasius, who not only dismissed him with ignominy, but even sought his life, by causing him to embark in a crazy vessel, which was strictly forbidden to touch at any Grecian port. Having escaped this danger, Ennodius returned to his diocese, where he occupied himself with religious labours until his death in A. D. 521, on the 17th of July, the day which after his canonization was observed as his festival.


The works of this prelate, as contained in the edition of Sirmond, are the following :--


A collection of 497 letters, including one composed by his sister, the greater number of them written during the pontificate of Symmachus (493-514). They for the most part relate to private concerns and domestic occurrences, and hence possess little general interest. They are remarkable for gentleness and piety of tone, but some persons have imagined that they could detect a leaning towards semipelagianism. The charge, however, has not been by any means substantiated.


A complimentary address delivered in the presence of the Gothic monarch at Milan, or at Ravenna, or at Rome, probably in the year A. D. 507. It is sometimes included in the collections of the " Panegyrici Veteres," and is considered as one of the principal sources for the history of that period, although obviously no reliance can be placed on the statements contained in an effusion of such a character. [DREPANIUS.] It will be found, with notes, in Manso, Geschichte des Ostgoth. Reichs, p. 433.


A powerful and argumentative harangue, read before the fifth Roman synod held in A. D. 503, and adopted as part of their proceedings, in defence of the measures sanctioned by the synod of the previous year, against schismatics, and in support of the jurisdiction of the Roman pontiff generally.


A biography of St. Epiphanius, his predecessor in the see of Pavia, who died in A. D. 496. This piece is valued on account of the light which it throws upon the history of the times, and is considered one of the most interesting and agreeable among the works of Ennodius, which, to say the truth, are for the most part rather repulsive. It will be found in the collections of Surius and the Bollandists under the 22nd of January.


a panegyric upon a holy man unknown save from this tract.


a thanksgiving for recovery from a dangerous malady, during which the author was first led to those thoughts which eventually prompted him to devote his life to the service of God. It is dedicated to Elpidius, a deacon and physician.


An exhortation, in which poetry is combined with prose, urging two youths to the practice of virtue.


The cellulani were the contubernales whom bishops, presbyters, and deacons were required to retain as constant companions "ad amoliendas maledicorum calumnias." (See Ducange, Glossar.) In this tract they are called concellanei.


On the manumission of a slave by his master in the church.



A series of short essays or declamations, twenty eight in number, which the author himself names dictiones, classified according to their subjects. Of these six are sacrae, seven scholasticae, ten controversias, five ethicae.


A large collection of poems, most of them short occasional effusions, on a multitude of different topics, sacred and profane. Fourteen are to be found interspersed among his epistles and other prose works, and one hundred and seventy-two form a separate collection.


The writings of Ennodius might serve as an exemplification of all the worst faults of a corrupt style. Nothing can be more affected than the form of expression, nothing more harsh than the diction. They are concise without being vigorous, obscure without being deep, while the use of figurative language, metaphors, and allegories, is pushed to such extravagant excess that whole pages wear the aspect of a long dull enigma.


A considerable number of the works of this father appeared in the " Monumenta S. Patrum Orthodoxographa," Basil. fol., 1569; they were first published separately by Andr. Schottus, Tornac. 8vo. 1611, but will be found in their most complete and best form in the edition of Sirmond, Paris. 8vo. 1611, and in his Opera, vol. i. fol., Paris. 1696, and Venet. 1729; also in the Bibl. Patr. Max., Lugdun. 1677, vol. ix., and in other large collections of the fathers.

Martenne and Durand (Collect. Monum. vol. v. p. 61) have added a new oration and a short letter to Venantius.

Further Information

See the Vita Ennodii prefixed to the edition of Sirmond. A very full biography is given by Funceius also, De inerti ac decrepita L. L. senectute. c. 3. § xx., c. 6. § viii., c. 8. § x., 11. § xxxi


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