Epistolary sleight of hand : diplomatic manipulation in Zosimus' letter to Patroclus of Arles (Quid de Proculi)

02 Aug 2019

Zosimus’ Epistula 7 (JK 333 = J3 739, Quid de Proculi) to Patroclus, bishop of Arles, would suggest the normal operations of ecclesiastical judicial procedures: Proclus had been condemned, the validity of an earlier synodal decision had been overturned, and Patroclus’ own authority had been upheld. Appearances, however, can be deceiving. Other letters in Liber auctoritatem ecclesiae Arelatensis, particularly three written by Zosimus also in September 417, inform us about just how controversial were not only Patroclus’ claims to authority in southern Gaul but Zosimus’ support of Patroclus and his assertion that the Roman church had a role in arbitrating these claims. The evidence in the collection is of a dispute conducted with anything but diplomacy. This paper sets Quid de Proculi in its broader context to reveal how both Zosimus and the church of Arles tried, unwittingly or not, to promote a false memory about the church of Arles.