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


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 VII Liber Pontificalis 55 on John I (13 VIII 523–18 V 526)



“1. John born in Tuscia, son of Constantius, held the see 2 years 9 months 15 days. He was bishop from the consulship of Maximus to the consulship of Olybrius. He was summoned by king Theoderic to Ravenna and the king commissioned him and sent him on an embassy to Constantinople to Justin the emperor. For Justin was a devout man and in his great love for the Christian religion he tried to root out heretics. With great fervor he dedicated the churches of the Arians to the catholic faith.”714

The texts of the Epitome F and K (first recension) serve the purpose of our discussion, as they are not very much different from the version P.

As I have noted in the chapter on Theoderic’s Arian faith, the author of the Excerpta Valesiana depicts the king’s intentions differently: the point was to make sure that the Arians converted to Catholicism could return freely to their original faith, rather than to concentrate on the seizure of the church buildings:

“Then the king, on his return to Ravenna, acted no longer as a friend of God, but as an enemy to His law; forgetful of all His kindness and of the favour which He had shown him, trusting to his own arm, believing, too, that the emperor Justinus stood in great fear of him, he sent and summoned to Ravenna Johannes, who at that time sat upon the apostolic throne, and...

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