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Heroic Bishops: Hilary of Poitiers’s Exilic Discourse

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In this article, I examine the progressive development of Hilary of Poitiers’s exilic discourse in two key texts: To Constantius and Against Constantius. Hilary’s exilic identity is intimately tied to the emperor and spaces of imperial power. In the first text, To Constantius, Constantius II plays a sympathetic role in Hilary’s explanation of his exile. Hilary envisions himself in the presence of the emperor as he guides him to the truth. In Against Constantius, we find quite a different role relationship: the emperor is the chief antagonist and Hilary the champion of truth. In this second text, Hilary’s exile again confirms his orthodoxy and his overt condemnation of the emperor affirms his episcopal authority. As Hilary imagines it, his posture as an exile is enough to dethrone an emperor.

Affiliations: 1: George Mason University


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