Symmaque, Rapports, texte établi, traduit et commenté par Jean-Pierre Callu, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 2009.
The Relationes of Symmachus comprise 49 official communications addressed to the emperors in his capacity as praefectus urbi and, more generally, as an esteemed member of the senatorial aristocracy. Like the rich and diverse correspondence, these are strongly affected by the influence of Pliny’s tenth book and are documents of remarkable historiographical value. Symmachus sends to his addressees various requests and devises proposals of differing types, confronting questions that are political, administrative, and juridical in nature. The Relationes, therefore, help us to sketch a picture of the relationships of power in late-antique Rome: rather short and concise, they also touch on decidedly less important arguments than the religious dispute (cf. for example the information regarding the organization of the chariot races, one of the senator’s great passions); others, meanwhile, are animated, despite a veil of formality, by a genuine emotional engagement, as is demonstrated by Relatio 10, which announces the death of Symmachus’ very dear friend Praetextatus. The Relatio universally recognized as the most important is without a doubt the third, sent to Valentinian II and containing a request for the restoration to the Senate House of the Altar of Victory, which Gratian had ordered to be removed at the suggestion of important members of the Christian circle as Ambrose, who was an inflexible — and successful — adversary of the senator. This text represents a very valuable testimony for understanding the politico-cultural dynamics of a transitional era like the last years of the 4th c. AD; this is due especially to the heartfelt, but nevertheless clear defense of the reasons for the tradition that are advanced by Symmachus after the progressive marginalization of Pagan religion and the unstoppable Christianization of the Empire in all its aspects. The text also shows itself to be valuable at the stylistic level. It is characterized by solemnity and balance belonging to the most important Roman oratory and far from the pinguitas detected even by the admirers of Symmachus (Macrobius, Prudentius), which is typical of the fragmentary orations. The search for a florid elegance also animates the rest of the Relationes, with some lexical freedom granted for archaic and contemporary components. [V. del Core; tr. C. L. Caterine].