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Siburius (fl. 370s), for whom only the single name survives, was a high-ranking official of the Roman Empire. He was one of several Gauls who rose to political prominence in the late 4th century as a result of the emperor Gratian's appointment of his Bordelaise tutor Ausonius to high office.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Like Ausonius, Siburius came from Bordeaux. The medical writer Marcellus, their countryman, places Siburius in the company of the historian Eutropius and Julius Ausonius, father of the political scholar-poet, as peers with a literary expertise in medicine.[2]

In early 376, Siburius was magister officiorum under Gratian.[3] He succeeded Ausonius as praefectus praetorio Galliarum (praetorian prefect of Gaul) sometime before December 3, 379,[4] and held the office until 382, when he was succeeded by Mallius Theodorus.[5]

Other scanty evidence of Siburius's life comes from the correspondence of the Antiochan scholar Libanius, who has one letter addressed to him[6] and two to his son, who had the same name.[7] Libanius also mentions Siburius once elsewhere.[8] The son was proconsul of Palaestina Prima around 390.[9]

Culture and religion[edit]

Siburius is the addressee of three letters among the correspondence of Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, the advocate of religious tolerance who attempted to preserve the traditional religions of Rome at a time when Christianity had become dominant.[10] Symmachus teases Siburius about his archaic writing style (ἀρχαϊσμὸν scribendi):[11]

In the assessment of commentator Andrea Pellizzari, Siburius was indeed "un uomo di grande cultura," a highly cultured person.[13]

Siburius's son still practiced the traditional religions of antiquity; Libanius refers to his Hellenism. If the father, as seems likely from Symmachus's remarks, also had not converted,[14] Siburius would have been the first non-Christian to hold the prefecture of Gaul since the death of the emperor Julian, and the last to hold the office.[15]


  • Förster, Richard. Libanii Opera. Leipzig: Teubner, 1903–27, vol. 11. Teubner edition with critical apparatus. A volume of the Greek text of the abundant letters of Libanius, teacher and friend to the emperor Julian, including the letters relevant to Siburius.
  • Jones, A.H.M. “Collegiate Prefectures.” Journal of Roman Studies 54 (1964) 78–89. Clarifying political succession among the praefecti mainly in the 4th century, with tables.
  • Matthews, John. Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court, A.D. 364–425. Oxford University Press, 1975. ISBN 0-19-814499-7 See pp. 72–74 for Siburius.
  • McGeachy, J.A., Jr. “The Editing of the Letters of Symmachus.” Classical Philology 44 (1949) 222–229. Argues against the view that the letters of Symmachus had been edited and "watered down" for a Christian readership, and demonstrates that in his friends and correspondents (among them Siburius) Symmachus embraced both Christians and those who practiced the traditional religions.
  • Pellizzari, Andrea. Commento storico al libro III dell'Epistolario di Q. Aurelio Simmaco: introduzione, commento storico, testo, traduzione, indici. Pisa: Istituti editoriali e poligrafici internazionali, 1998. Latin text with Italian translation of the third of book of Symmachus's letters; see for extensive commentary (in Italian) on the three to Siburius.
  • Seeck, Otto. Monumenta Germaniae historica inde ab anno Christi quingentesimo usque ad annum millesimum et quingentesimum: Q. Aurelii Symmachi quae supersunt. Auctores antiquissimi, vol. 6, pt. 1. Munich: Monumenta Germaniae Historica, 1984. Latin text of Symmachus's letters, with commentary also in Latin.
  • Sivan, Hagith. Ausonius of Bordeaux: Genesis of a Gallic Aristocracy. London: Routledge, 1993. For background to Siburius's career and life, with passing references to him.


  1. ^ Hagith Sivan, Ausonius of Bordeaux: Genesis of a Gallic Aristocracy (London: Routledge, 1993), p. 134, and p. 210, note 36.
  2. ^ Marcellus Empiricus, De medicamentis, prefatory epistle 2, in Corpus Medicorum Latinorum: Marcelli de Medicamentis Liber, edited by Maximillian Niedermann (Leipzig: Teubner 1916), p. 3.
  3. ^ Sivan, Ausonius of Bordeaux, p. 134.
  4. ^ Codex Theodosianus XI.31.7; A.H.M. Jones, “Collegiate Prefectures,” Journal of Roman Studies 54 (1964), p. 84; Andrea Pellizzari, Commento storico al libro III dell'Epistolario di Q. Aurelio Simmaco (Pisa 1998), p. 156.
  5. ^ David Stone Potter, The Roman Empire at bay, AD 180-395, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-415-10057-7, p. 545.
  6. ^ Libanius, epistle 663, pp. 99–100 in the edition of Richard Förster, Libanii Opera (Leipzig: Teubner, 1903–27), vol. 11.
  7. ^ Libanius, epistles 982 and 989, pp. 114–115 and 119–120 (Förster's edition).
  8. ^ Libanius, epistle 973, pp. 107–108 (Förster).
  9. ^ Otto Seeck, Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Auctores Antiquissimi. Q. Aurelii Symmachi quae supersunt (Munich 1984), with reference to Libanius, Sievers edition p. 269 (= Förster 989, pp. 119–120).
  10. ^ J.A. McGeachy, Jr., “The Editing of the Letters of Symmachus,” Classical Philology 44 (1949), 222–229.
  11. ^ Epistulae 3.44–45, edition of Otto Seeck, Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Auctores Antiquissimi. Q. Aurelii Symmachi quae supersunt (Munich 1984); Neil B. McLynn, Ambrose of Milan: Church and Court in a Christian Capital (University of California Press 1994), p. 86.
  12. ^ Symmachus, epistle 3.44: Si tibi vetustatis tantus est amor, pari studio in verba prisca redeamus, quibus salii canunt et augures avem consulunt et decemviri tabulas condiderunt.
  13. ^ Andrea Pellizzari, Commento storico al libro III dell'Epistolario di Q. Aurelio Simmaco (Pisa 1998), p. 157.
  14. ^ J.A. McGeachy, Jr., “The Editing of the Letters of Symmachus,” Classical Philology 44 (1949), p. 226.
  15. ^ Dorothy Watts, Religion in Late Roman Britain: Forces of Change (London: Routledge, 1998), p. 39.
Preceded by
Praetorian prefect of Gaul
Succeeded by
Mallius Theodorus