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«Inter duas potestates»: The Religious Policy of Theoderic the Great

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Monika Ożóg

This book discusses Theoderic the Great’s years of political activity, which coincided with the advent of a new era and were marked by features of two distinct civilizations. From the political and cultural viewpoint, he stood at the boundary between the Roman tradition and his Germanic origin. From the religious perspective, when he came to power in Italy at the Emperor’s behest, he found himself amid the conflict embroiling Rome and Constantinople at that time. It was the so-called Acacian schism centred around the issue of the recognition of the Council of Chalcedon (451) with its teaching on the two natures in Christ as well as the acknowledgement of Constantinople as the principal see of the Church in the East. Another ecclesiastical – and strictly Roman – problem noted in the Liber Pontificalis is the Laurentian schism, named after Lawrence, who was elected Pope on the same day as Symmachus.
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Chapter V Liber Pontificalis 53 on Symmachus (22 November 498–19 July 514)

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Chapter V Liber Pontificalis 53 on Symmachus (22 November 498–19 July 514)311

“Symmachus, born in Sardinia, son of Fortunatus, held the see 15 years 7 months 27 days.312 He was bishop in the time of heretic Theodoric [or the king] and the emperor Anastasius the Eutychian, [from 22 November to 19 July].313 He loved the clergy and the poor, he was a good man and sagacious, kindly and courteous. He was ordained on the same day with Laurence because there was a dissension bishopric [Symmachus in the Constantinian basilica, Laurence in St Mary’s].”314

The author of the Excerpta Valesiana is very reticent here. The two candidates vied for the Holy See and “by God’s will, Symmachus won the election, just as he deserved it.”315

1. Theoderic and the “Laurentian schism” (I)

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