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Ambrose's De officüs, modelled in form at least on Cicero's work of the same name, was written, most likely in the 380s, to give advice to his clergy on the way to perform their functions in the Italian post-Constantinan church. In the same decade Ambrose was involved in a number of confrontations with the emperors Valentinian II and Theodosius I over issues that he believed to be connected with the church's mission and interests. In the letters and a sermon, which narrated or were a part of his contribution to these encounters, Ambrose demonstrates the way he exercised his ministry as it related to the world at large, and justifies his position and actions. He also proposes to the recipients behaviour that he deems appropriate for a Christian ruler.

This chapter seeks to determine to what extent the recommendations and examples put forward in the theoretical work are advocated or embodied in Ambrose's documents written from within three episodes of challenge and controversy. The reliability of Ambrose's recounting of events is not under scrutiny here. What is being investigated is how well or ill his perspective in these cases matched up with the ideal behaviour that is at the heart of his De officüs, and what connections, if any, may be made between these two bodies of work.


School of Theology

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Book Chapter

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