Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Idatius (3), author of well-known Chronicle
Idatius (3), (Idacius; surnamed Lemicensis), bp. of Aquae Flaviae (Chaves or Chiaves) in Gallicia, from c. 427 to 470, and author of a well-known Chronicle which was one of the various continuations of Jerome. Our only sources for his life are notices in his own work, for the meagre Life by Isidore in de Vir. Ill. c. ix. is merely a summary of Idatius's own prologue. The existing material was elaborately sifted and put together by Florez (Esp. Sagr. iv., Madrid, 1749), and less completely by Garzon, whose ed. of Idatius was pub. at Brussels in 1845 by P. F. X. de Ram.
Birthplace and Bishopric.—Idatius tells us in the prologue to his Chronicle that he was born "in Lemica civitate," "Lemica" being a copyist's error for Limica in Portugal. He was born c. 388, shortly after the execution of Priscillian and his companions at Trèves, and about the time when, as he tells us in his Chronicle (ad. ann. 386), the Priscillianists, falling back on Spain after the death of their chief, took a special hold on the province of Gallicia. About a.d. 400 he was in Egypt and Palestine, where, as he says (Prolog. and Chron. ad ann. 435), he, "et infantulus et pupillus," saw St. Jerome at Bethlehem, John bp. of Jerusalem, Eulogius of Caesarea, and Theophilus of Alexandria. His return to Gallicia may be dated c. 402 (Florez, Esp. Sagr. iv. 301). In 416, seven years after the irruption of the Suevi, Alani, and Vandals into the peninsula, Idatius entered the ministry, for so we must understand the entry in the Chron. Parvum (see below) under that year, "Idatii conversio ad Dominum peccatoris" (cf. Florez, l.c. p. 302), and in 427 he was made bishop (see Prol. Esp. Sags. iv. 348). In 431 the rule of the Suevi had become so intolerable that Idatius was sent by the Gallician provincials to Aetius in Gaul to ask for help. He returned in 432, accompanied by the legate Censorius, after whose departure from Gallicia the bishops persuaded Hermeric, the Suevian king, to make peace with the provincials. For about 24 years GaIlicia enjoyed tranquillity compared with the rest of Spain, and the Gallician bishops found themselves to some extent free to deal with the prevalent Priscillianist
and Manichean doctrines, which had even infected some of the episcopate (Ep. Leo Magn. ad Turribium; Tejada y Ramiro, Colecc. de Can. etc. ii. p. 889). Between 441 and 447 must be placed the letter of Turribius to Idatius and Ceponius (? bp. of Tuy) on the Priscillianist apocryphal books (Esp. Sagr. xvi. 95; Tejada y Ramiro, ii. 887). In 444–445 the confessions of certain Roman Manicheans having disclosed the names of their co-believers in the provinces, letters were sent to the provinces by pope Leo warning the bishops (Prosper ad ann. 444; see Garzon's note 6, ed. De Ram, p. 83). Accordingly we find Idatius and Turribius in 445 holding a trial of certain Manicheans discovered at Astorga, no doubt by aid of the papal letters, and forwarding a report of the trial to the neighbouring metropolitan of Merida, evidently to put him on his guard. In 447, in answer to various documents from St. Turribius on the Gallician heresies, Leo sent a long decretal letter to Spain to be circulated by him, urging the assembly of a national council, or at least of a Gallician synod, in which, by the efforts of Turribius and of Idatius and Ceponius, "fratres vestri," a remedy might be devised for the prevailing disorder. Probably the synod never actually met, for Idatius's Chronicle, which rarely omits any ecclesiastical news he could give, does not mention it.
In the troubled times after the flight and execution of Rekiar, Idatius fell a victim to the disorders of the country. His capture at Aquae Flaviae by Frumari (July 26, 460) was owing mostly, no doubt, to his importance as a leader and representative of the Roman population, but partly, perhaps, as Florez suggests, to the hatred of certain Gallician Priscillianist informers (their names are Latin; cf. Chron. ad ann.) who had felt the weight of his authority. He was released in 3 months, and after his return to Chiaves lived at least 8 years under the Suevian kingdom which he had too hastily declared to be "destructum et finitum" in 456 (? "pene destructum," as Isidore, his copyist in Hist. Suevorum, eod. loc.), but which took a new lease, on Frumari's death (464), under Remismund. His Chronicle ends with 469, and he must have died before 474, the year of the emperor Leo's death, under whom Isidore places that of Idatius (Esp. Sagr. iv. 303, ed. De Ram, pp. 15, 39).
Chronicle.—The prologue to the Chronicle, composed apparently after its completion, at any rate in the extreme old age of its author, gives a full account of its intention, sources, and arrangement. It was intended to continue the Chronicle of Eusebius and Jerome, Idatius including his own works in one vol. with theirs (ed. De Ram, p. 48, note 3, and p. 59, note 4), and he divides it into two parts, the first starting from 379, where Jerome breaks off, and ending 427, when Idatius was made bishop; the second extending from 427 to the end. In the first division Sulpicius and Orosius seem to have been his main authorities, together with the works of SS. Augustine and Jerome (Esp. Sagr. iv. 335, 356) and the lives and writings of certain contemporary bishops (John of Jerusalem, l.c. 357. Paulinus of Beziers, ib., Paulinus of Nola, 358, etc.). "Thenceforward" (i.e. from 427), he says, describing his second division, "I, undeservedly chosen to the office of the episcopate, and not ignorant of all the troubles of this miserable time, have added both the falling landmarks ('metas ruituras') of the oppressed Roman empire, and also what is more mournful still, the degenerate condition of the church order within Gallicia, which is the end of the world, the destruction of honest liberty by indiscriminate appointments (to bishoprics), and the almost universal decay of the divine discipline of religion, evils springing from the rule of furious men and the tumults of hostile nations." This is the note of the whole Chronicle, which gives a vivid and invaluable picture of one most important scene in the great drama of the fall of the Western empire, and without which we should be almost in the dark as to events of the first half of the 5th cent. in Spain. Idatius describes the entry of the Vandals, Alani, and Suevi into the Peninsula in Oct. 409, and the two following years of indiscriminate pillage and ruin before the division of the country by lot amongst the invaders.
The Chronicle altogether embraces 91 years. On the chronology of the last five years and on possible interpolations of certain chronological notes by the copyist, see ed. De Ram, p. 39, also Florez, iv. 310.
The Fasti Idatiani were first attributed to Idatius by Sirmond, partly because in the ancient MS. from which he printed the Chronicle the Fasti followed immediately, and partly because he believed that there was strong internal evidence for the Idatian authorship (Op. 1728, ii. 287). This opinion has been generally adopted, notably by Dr. Mommsen (Corpus Inscr. Lat. i. 484). Florez is an exception, but his grounds are extremely slight (see Esp. Sagr. iv. 457, and Garzon's answer, ed. De Ram, p. 41). The history of the Fasti has now been cleared up with great learning and acuteness by Holder-Egger in the Neues Archiv der Gesellschaft für ältere Deutsche Geschichtskunde, ii. pp. 59–71. His general conclusions are (1) that the Fasti Idatiani are one of two derivatives of certain consular Fasti put together at Constantinople in 4th cent., the Chronicon Paschale (Migne, Patr. Gk. xcii.) being the other. (2) That the common source of the Fasti and of the Chron. Pasch. was itself compiled at Constantinople from older Roman Fasti, such as are still preserved in the Chronographus of 354 (Mommsen, op. cit. i. 483; Wattenbach, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen, p. 48), the notices peculiar to Constantinople beginning from 330, when Byzantium became the second capital of the empire. (3) That after 390–395 when the Chron. Pasch. branches off from the Fasti Idatiani, a copy of the Constantinople Fasti came westward, received certain additions in Italy and then reached Spain, where a Spanish reviser and continuator gave them the shape under which we now know them as the Fasti Idatiani. That Idatius the author of the Chronicle revised the Fasti Holder-Egger does not believe, but is inclined to hold that their agreement is best explained by the theory that Idatius used but did not compose the Fasti. His arguments on this point seem scarcely conclusive, and he
is indeed prepared to admit that certain trifling additions to and alterations in the Fasti were probably made by Idatius. For the latter use of the Fasti Idatiani, the East Roman Fasti as the Ravenna annals are the West Roman Fasti (Wattenbach, i. 49), see Holder-Egger's art. Die Chronik des Marcellinus Comes und der Oströmischen Fasten, Neues Archiv, etc. ii. 44.
The Chronicon Parvum Idatii is the work of an unskilful abbreviator of the larger Chronicle, who adds a continuation to the time of Justinian. It must not be confused with the excerpta from Idatius made under Charles the Great.
Besides the references already given see Adolf Ebert, Allgemeine Gesch. der Litt. des Mittelalters im Abendlande, i. 1874; Teuffel, Gesch. der Römischen Litt. 1875.