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101 3 First Transformation: Baptismum I n his first cluster of Psalms, Hilary deals with the progress from vir saecularis to the life of the baptized Christian. He presents the critical limitations for life prior to baptism with another aspect of his polyvalent city metaphor. This version describes the dire situation of a “city in plague.” He develops his analysis of this stage with two biblical themes, each with a hopeful possibility. He also selects specific elements of this initial stage with which to connect his Christian understanding of both ethics and belief in the Godhead.1 In Latin literary culture Hilary finds a respect for the need of an ethical transformation from vice to virtue and an appreciation for divinity as the basis for order in the natural world. Hilary’s terminology for this pre-Christian condition also reflects his positive assessment of aspects of this preliminary status and its possibilities for members of his Latin culture and education. To designate the initial pre-Christian condition in his model, Hilary does not use the later pejorative Christian construction of paganus.2 In 1. This combination of ethics and belief in the Godhead reflects the sequence in his repeated definition of confessio and its cognates. 2. For a discussion of the later fourth-century Christian usage, see James J. O’Donnell, “Paganus ,” Classical Folia 31 (1977): 163–69. For a broader treatment of Christian uses, see Harold Remus, “The End of ‘paganism’?” SR 33 (2004): 191–208. 102 ³ The First Transformation his comment on Psalm 1, at least, he uses the term vir saecularis. In Tr. Ps. 65.4, as we have seen, he uses auditor profanus. Instead of a total repudiation of the past, Hilary employs the term confessio to organize his discussion of positive elements of the vir saecularis, which are retained and enhanced through conversion confirmed in baptism. These perspectives of the earlier state provide some positive elements for God to build upon in the first transformation. “A City in Plague” To dramatize the serious limitations of the condition of the vir saecularis , Hilary invokes his master metaphor of the city in a passage immediately after his comparison of imperial and Christian discourse. As I have been suggesting, the themes and issues of the city in Latin rhetorical culture, sharpened by the threats to Gallic urban life recounted in Ammianus Marcellinus and in the Panegyrics and celebrated by Ausonius , make such an appeal very compelling for both Hilary and his original audience.3 Hilary develops his reflection on the opening verse at Tr. Ps. 13.1 and focuses on insipiens and corrupti sunt et abominabiles facti sunt. For these terms Hilary immediately introduces a negative version of the city metaphor with the proposition that “a person on entering a city observes that all the inhabitants are wasting with disease, burning with fever and overcome with diverse kinds of illness.” Once again the city 3. In addition to the evidence from Ammianus, Mamertinus, and the Codex Theodosianus for interest in the security and vitality of cities cited at the end of the last chapter, see further evidence of Cicero’s contribution to this theme. See, for example, his description of the attractiveness of the city of Syracuse: atque hoc idem Syracusis. Urbs illa praeclara, quam ait Timaeus Graecarum maximam, omnium autem esse pulcherrimam , arx visenda, portus usque in sinus oppidi et ad urbis crepidines infusi, viae latae, orticus, templa, muri nihilo magis efficiebant, Dionysio tenente, ut esset illa res publica; nihil enim populi et unius erat populus ipse (De Re Publica 3.43). See, too, Cicero’s description of citizenship as the closest social bond: . . . interius etiam est eiusdem esse civitatis; multa enim sunt civibus inter se communia, forum, fana, porticus, viae, leges, iura, iudicia, suffragia , consuetudines praeterea et familiaritates multisque cum multis res rationesque contractae (De Officiis 1.17.53). Cicero also extends social bonds to include all people: In omni autem honesto de quo loquimur nihil est tam inlustre nec quod latius pateat quam coniunctio inter homines hominum et quasi quaedam societas et communicatio utilitatum et ipsa caritas generis humani. Quae nata a primo satu, quod a procreatoribus nati diliguntur et tota domus coniugio et stirpe coniungitur, serpit sensim foras, cognationibus primum, tum affinitatibus , deinde amicitiis, post vicinitatibus, tum civibus et iis qui publice socii atque amici sunt, deinde totius complexu gentis humanae. Quae animi adfectio suum cuique tribuens atque hanc quam dico societatem coniunctionis humanae munifice et aeque tuens iustitia dicitur (De Finibus 5.23...


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