[St. Pachomius Library]

Symmachus the Prefect

V/VI Centuries
Quintus Aurelius Symmachus (c. 340/345-c. 402/405) was born into a wealthy political family and became a well-known orator and pagan apologist. In 373, he was made proconsul of Africa, and during his tenure, he recommended Augustine be made a teacher of rhetoric in Milan. In 384, he was appointed prefect of Rome; in this capacity, he argued unsuccessfully for the return of the statue of Victory to the Roman senate house. St. Ambrose of Milan successfully opposed the plan. When Magnus Maximus became emperor in 387, Symmachus represented the senate and offered congratulations to the new ruler. Symmachus became consul of Rome in 391. His son collected and published ten volumes of his correspondence, much of which is with St. Ambrose. Fragments of Symmachus' speeches survive and have been published in the Monumenta Germaniæ Historica.

Karen Rae Keck


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