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The basic source for this paper consists of the letters of Hormisdas, bishop of Rome from 514 to 523. Like all studies of episcopal letters in Christian antiquity, this study owes much to the meticulous work of the honorandus of this volume on the letters of Cyprian, bishop of Carthage from 249 to 258 (Clarke 1984-1989). While at least one scholar has argued that the sources for some of Hormisdas' pontificate are scarce (Capizzi 1980: 25), many other researchers would be grateful to have such extensive materials at their disposal, both the letters from Hormisdas and those written to him. The importance of letters in late antiquity has been a focus of several studies recently (Allen & Neil 2013 with lit.), and the Hormisdan collection, because it indicates sophisticated political, ecclesiastical and diplomatic networks, is a significant example of the power of the epistolary genre in that epoch. The increasing scholarly interest in late-antique letters has been accompanied by a concentration on bishops as leaders in the same period, a trend that was inaugurated, among others, by Lizzi (1987) and continued by Rebillard and Sotinel (1998), Brown (2002), Elm (2003), Sterk (2004), Rapp (2005) and Norton (2007), the latter taken up by Leemans in an international conference in Leuven (2011 ).


Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

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