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While not completely neglected as a late-antique epistolographer, Gelasius has mainly been considered as a theologian prominent in the Acacian schism and as a forerunner of the mediaeval papacy. This imbalance will be redressed by considering his letters on various problems of his time, such as displaced persons, persecution, ransoming captives, papal property management, social and clerical abuses involving servants, orphans, slaves and slave-owners, the ordination of lower classes, preferential treatment of upper classes, the role of the papal scrinium, violent deaths of bishops, and the celebration of the pagan festival of the Lupercalia. This approach will round out the existing portrait of Gelasius, and make a contribution to a new history of the late-antique papacy, which will revise the view that Gregory the Great was a stand-alone micro-manager without precedent. Comparisons with earlier fifth-century popes like Innocent I and Leo I, and with later popes like Hormisdas and Pelagius I, show the trajectory from Gelasius to Gregory I.


Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

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