Dave Kelley and Marshall Kirk discuss a proposed Emesa-Treves monograph (in late spring 1999)
DHK: I would suggest that the first thing is to use a short summary of Gregory of Tours, in order to make the generic points about inheritance of bishoprics. Then go to the late bishops of Treves, the ones from a time later than what we're primarily talking about and show that it was happening there and a little bit about it. Then, discuss the group similarity of the names in the Treves family to the names in the Clermont family.
MKK: When talking of the Clermont family, are you talking about Gregory's family or Sidonius' family?
MKK: I guess in your opinion they were all closely related to the whole group of Clermont families.
DHK: Yes, but primarily to Sidonius' segment. And then go into sort of taking it by groups, saying that the names in Treves at Sidonius' generation suggest Emesa, and then looking at Emesa the other way around, so to speak, coming down historically, because it seems to me that before we can even discuss the matter we need to establish the parameters of evidence.
MKK: I agree with that; I think it is a good idea to start out by making certain generic points, one of which is the pseudo-hereditary nature of bishoprics, and this is a good way to approach it.
DHK: And the second one is the definitely hereditary nature of names.
MKK: Yes, exactly. As far as how to manage dealing with the various parts of a very long pedigree in its own right, my feeling continues to be that at least for the purposes of getting our analytical ducks in a row – as distinct from how it would eventually be written up, and I would tend to leave that more to you than me because I don't ...[End of tape 1, side A]
MKK: [words lost] – the process of getting your analytical ducks in a row as distinct from the process of actually deciding how to write it up, and doing the writing up. I think it is important – certainly it would be for me, simply because this is the way my mind operates – to divide the pedigree into segments, separate it by the junctures at which the exact nature of the connections is uncertain. Make the point that the fact of the connections, as postulated, is highly likely even if one cannot specify the exact way which the connection effectuates itself. But some connection in the transmission of these names seems a virtual certainty. For example, I would assign the probability that there is some genealogical connection between Iamblichus, Himerius, and Cyrillus of Treves, on the one hand, and of Apamea and Syria on the other (the neo-platonic family of Iamblichus and Sopater), at upward of 95%. And Himerius again I discount altogether [apparently misheard, and no longer reconstructable]; I believe it was Cameron's argument that Iamblichus of Chalcis wasn't really the father-in-law of Sopater – well, I think his reasons are simply poor. I think that the prima facie evidence, as it exists, makes it a near certainty that that is, in fact, the relationship. And it makes perfectly logical sense. We would rather expect the star disciple of a great teacher to have been married into his family. What's so odd about that?
DHK: Nothing at all.
MKK: All of this, versus – under the whole question of how to present this argument visually as well as in terms of narrative text – now I like charts, I think that charts make arguments both easier to understand and, if done right, much more persuasive. But we have a rather odd series of charts to postulate here. In effect, what we have are islands of pretty solid genealogy – solid, as opposed to dotted-line genealogy from which certain dotted-line probable connections emerge. And then we have something less than dotted lines, in many cases, that connect the next group – that suggest three or four or five possible people through whom the connection might have occurred – through them, or siblings, or other close relatives whom we can't choose among. What we need is a new sort of notation for such charts. And I have mentioned this before. I'd like to see some way of breaking this up so that these islands of pretty solid genealogy – as, for example, the Emesan branch of the Severan Dynasty, as well as the Severan Dynasty itself – can be somehow visually delimited from the rest … literally by drawing some kind of line around blocks, or having a block over here to be, say, the Apollinares family. We'll call it the Apollinares/Aviti group. We'll put a line around this and have arrows of some sort, or some sort of connecting lines, connecting the blocks without necessarily connecting a specific person in block A with another specific person in block B. I think that would be both more honest and more acceptable to people.
DHK: Yeah, and once they caught on to it we'd have the problem that it is a previously unused form of notation.
MKK: There's nothing wrong with innovating when the situation demands it.
DHK: Nothing at all.
MKK: I would like to see some such set of charts ... I'm pretty good at producing charts in general, but I'm not necessarily very good at dreaming up the form of notation to put the charts into.
DHK: I think your idea of a block is a very appropriate one, because you can include in a block people that you are not, have no direct relationship with anyone else, and yet are a bishop of Treves with a name that connects with … and that's where Settipani, he said that the later Treves connections with the earlier on the basis of a couple of names weren't … it's not … it's the whole cluster of names.
MKK: All right, it's a good thing that you mentioned this, because this leads to two more points that I want to make. In terms of grundlagen, philosophical ‘evidential' grundlagen, in the production of such a monograph, one of the points that one wants to make is … there're two points, really. One is quantifying just how rare ‘rare' is. It's one thing to say this name is ‘infrequent' or ‘rare'. But what we really want to know is, how infrequent or how rare. You can do this in a numerical way by taking the Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire …
DHK: You can do this by pushing a button in Mathisen.
MKK: That's now on CD or something of the sort? My argument is that we can combine a number of relevant sources, including, for example, the Corpus of Latin Inscriptions from Gaul, from a relevant period. And here, we can make a list of our criteria and say, here is what we mean by ‘common,' ‘uncommon,' ‘rare,' ‘very rare,' and ‘extremely rare:' how many times this name appears in this group of, we could say, 30 or 40 thousand recorded names from a relevant culture and historical period. The second point is the point that you were making, when one wants to discuss the statistical nature of the probabilities involved, when you are talking not just about one name, but about a group of names, because then the probabilities of a false connection between three names, on the one hand, and three names on the other, radically decrease.
MKK: Very, very rapidly. When we have a name like Iamblichus it becomes particularly important to talk about, to quantify exactly how rare it is. Because Iamblichus, the bishop, if we assume that he is in fact the same person for whom there is a tombstone [recte, epitaph] reported – it very well could be – on any information known to me, is one of only two people in the entire history of Gaul that I know to have borne that name. (There was a soldier named Iamblichus, of uncertain date, in Gaul.)
DHK: Uncertain date and origin …
MKK: He's recorded, I'm pretty sure I can say generally what the origin was [ehh?]. You see, the point is that these are two names out of tens of thousands of names that we know, and that makes it a very rare name indeed. Considering Himerius is almost as rare a name …
DHK: Himerius is certainly more common, but very few that I know.
MKK: Very few indeed.
DHK: And to get an Emesan name and a Greek name in association in two different areas. Both of them very rare.
MKK: And we have the name Cyrillus to add to that, and that is also a much more characteristically Syriac name … as I was just saying – and as Dave is agreeing with me – we really need to make up at the outset a list of prolegomenal points that should be made. And as Dave was saying, once we've made up that list and put it into a monograph as an initial statement we can then evidence each of these points as, for example, with the family of Gregory of Tours for the hereditary nature of bishoprics in general.
DHK: And [?] for rarity.
DHK: And at some point we need to make the point that if we know of a situation in which there was a marriage between people with one kind of background in naming patterns and people with a different pattern, and thereafter the two occur together, it is a reasonable presumption that they [sc., the latter] descend from the earlier marriage.
MKK: That is a very telling point as well, and I'd like to see that put in too. Because if we rigorously state our grounds for reasoning as we do, we have a lot better chance of persuading people than if we just make arguments that may make sense to you or to me because we know what the grundlagen are, but they don't.
DHK: They'll make sense to Settipani, but ...
MKK: But to precious few other people, because they don't think in those terms.
DHK: That's right. And Settipani thinks that I constantly underestimate the number of cross-marriages, and he doesn't like big families. Now this of course, I come out of a tradition where there were lots of big families and the expanding situation [ehh?] and I don't mind big families, whereas he does. Conversely, I don't like postulating two or three intermarriages in order to get something that we know can be gotten from one. So this is a differentiation which is worth making.
MKK: The latter is the principle of parsimony, which is generally valid. Although, if you could show that many marriages were the rule, then it would not be valid. But I don't know whether that can be shown or not.
DHK: There are enough cases of that sort where you do get a lot of cousin intermarriage, so that it is a legitimate objection on his part, but I still ...
MKK: At the same time, the point could be made that if you have a lot of cousin intermarriages that could explain the transmission of names in various different ways, it also tends to have the effect of increasing the likelihood of some such descent. Because if you don't get it in one way, you get it in another. I would make the point also with regard to the size of families – and I think it is a fairly important one – that the kind of evidence that we have from this period, and I'm thinking essentially of the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries in Gaul particularly, but this would apply more generally to any place or any region in that period – and many others for that matter – is such that we cannot expect it to provide complete accounts of who all the children were and to give them families.
DHK: Of course not.
MKK: We learn about people and their siblings by guess and by golly and by sheer chance. And it can be assumed, in general, that whatever impression we may have derived about the size of families on the basis of such chance mentions from literary and other sources, it is to an extent a misleading optical illusion and the reality was considerably larger. That's just in the nature of things. A parallel example would be the misuse that is constantly being made, or has been over the last several decades by genealogists, of English visitation pedigrees. Over and over again we hear them say, ‘well, this family has no such daughter because she doesn't show up in a visitation pedigree.' The simple fact is, as I've tried to hammer home to people over and over again, these documents were never intended to be, and are not, complete accounts of the family in question. They were intended to support a reputed gentleman's right so to be termed. So what does he note for the benefit of the herald, outside his immediate family group, his own children, perhaps – he notes those of his ancestral aunts and uncles who made prestigious marriages that would go with his claim to be a gentleman. Those who made less prestigious marriages tend to drop off the pedigree. And the farther back you go the more this is the case. You could probably demonstrate statistically that visitation pedigrees cannot be complete accounts, by simply showing – by taking random samples and counting the number of males and females in each generation back of the informant, showing that there is an ever increasing disparity between the number of males and females shown.
DHK: As you go back in time?
MKK: Yes, as in terms of number of generations. Whereas in reality we could pretty reasonably assume that it must have been very close to one to one.
DHK: Not quite, but close.
MKK: Slightly off. But certainly not 2 to 1 or 3 to 1.
MKK: But I think this is an important point to make.
DHK: There's another point, which is that people often expect that you're going to get marriages at a particular date, the length of a generation is such and such, and, yes, you and I say ‘aahhh!' But how many use this as if it were something fairly fixed and it's anything but fixed. You know my father was married for the first time in 1923 and he was born in 1878. And I had a younger brother four years later.
MKK: All that one can really say, honestly, is that there are certain averages which vary from time to time and from social class to social class and in all cases...
DHK: Not just social classes, also ethnic …
MKK: Ethnic groups too. And around these averages there's a huge standard error of measurement, a standard deviation, a huge spread. And on top of that, all that one can really say is, it is biologically unlikely that a girl had a child before she was 13 or after she was 45 or '6. In the gentry classes, particularly, of any age is almost equiprobable that she had children at any point within that period, because girls tended to be married off, as far as I can tell – certainly under the Romans, and certainly under the gentry classes in the successor kingdoms of Western Europe – virtually as soon as they were capable of childbearing.
DHK: Well, even before, frequently.
MKK: They could be married off before. But the point is that they began having children as soon as they were biologically capable of it in a majority of the cases.
DHK: Now, there are vast differences, though, in this. We don't have enough evidence, but from what I can see I would judge that the average generation among the Anglo-Saxon elite was maybe – it was very much lower than among the Danes in the same period. The Danes had the average length of about 30 years for the Danes and about 15 to 18 for the Anglo-Saxons. Which, of course – there were younger children, children who died young, but the Anglo-Saxons had people signing charters when they were six years old. They were very much emphasizing the fact that children were young adults. And the Danes didn't treat them that way, and the Irish had this very interesting pattern that I have commented on briefly a couple of times. But it seems to have been the normal pattern for an older person to be the first spouse of a young person so that a young man married a much older woman, a young woman married a much older man. Then, when their first spouse either died off or they separated from them, when they were in their 30s, they married somebody about their own age. And then they went on and became the older man marrying the young woman and the older woman marrying the young man.
MKK: Perhaps it has something to do with some concept of the appropriateness of sexual education.
DHK: Well, I think it also had something to do with the fact that there is some degree of evidence that sexuality is increasing among females and decreasing among males.
MKK: It's been said that the male is at his sexual peak before the age of 18 and the woman around the age of 40, and I think that could be quantified and proved. One other point I'd like to make ...
DHK: That's a pattern that makes very good sense in terms of that.
MKK: That's true. One point I'd like to make concerning chronology – I think this is a pretty important one. In the interest of rigor – and we need to make this thing as rigorous as possible since it's inherently going to seem unlikely to a broad range of people –
DHK: It seems to me absolutely probable.
MKK: – in the interest of rigor, I think it is very important that we put in, that we estimate dates of birth and marriage for everyone in the pedigree, to show (A) that it's biologically and socially plausible, and (B) it doesn't conflict with any hard dates that we do know, in fact, from external evidence.
DHK: I would be a little uneasy with this for some of the people. I think I would say we should do it wherever it's reasonable to do it, but there are going to be cases where it isn't.
MKK: I agree. I know that you tend to write up charts, you know what the approximate dates are, but you don't put the dates onto the charts.
DHK: I do actually, sometimes. And I have, it would be so easy, why don't people print up blank pieces of paper with dates on the edge with centuries and quarter centuries and so on marked off. It would be such an easy thing to do.
MKK: By the way, on the list of general points to hit at the outset, and under the subheading of ‘kinds of evidence that should be used,' we need to make a list of kinds of evidence. And we also need to list the major sources in which evidence has been published. So you would want almost to start out with a bibliography of the kinds of evidence, and the sources of evidence you're using, including Mathisen's work, including the Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, and possibly certain other things as well.
DHK: That the base data comes from the various corpi?.
MKK: That should give people a somewhat more comfortable sense, at the outset, that we're talking for a position of scholarship – if not massive and profound scholarship, at least as massive and profound as some people, perhaps, conclude … We are definitely basing ourselves upon the facts, and so far as they are accepted by the academic community. ––Well, I guess that pretty much covers the ground work here.
DHK: For the moment.
MKK: But I think that the ultimate monograph would need to be broken up into sections so that each linkage or major linkage between two blocks or islands of genealogy could be dealt with as a separate topic – as a separable topic. That doesn't prevent one, understand, from noting more long-distance transmission of names, from block, to block, to block, to block …
DHK: Or even from block to block.
MKK: From top to bottom.
MKK: It helps to make the argument manageable. Not only to write, but to be comprehended by the reader, and that really is important, you have to meet the reader more than half way here. You mentioned Cleopatra, and that makes me think about Zenobia's claim to descend from Cleopatra according to the somewhat dubious Augustan History, generally so called. –– That leads into another grundlage as far as the nature of evidence goes. You have to deal with the question of what do you accept as evidence, and what do you reject, from sources that are often considered dubious – such as either the Augustan History or saints' lives – and why do you do so. I am more inclined to accept a lot of such things if they are not otherwise in contradiction with hard fact.
DHK: Or if they are indeed strongly supported by hard fact. As in the rarity of the name Urania, the occurrence of it, she was a low-born wife of one of the Arsacid kings. It then shows up in Mauretania as queen, who has to be the queen of Juba II, who was the grandson of Cleopatra. Then it shows up in the Emesan family.
MKK: Yes, we hypothesize that Uranius Antoninus belongs to this family. I think [inaudible remarks concerning a usurpation of] 253 or so. It's a very strong hypothesis if only because one of your accounts, as it seems to be related to him, calls him Sampsigeramus, and calls him the priest of Aphrodite. Well, that's a question of [inaudible], because we are talking about a female goddess who was also worshiped there in various forms. This would be Ishtar, Ashtoreth, Astarte, and so forth. They all tend to be lumped together. But making it an assumption in the first place – a very good assumption, I think – does tend to mean the name Uranius is in the family. In the second place it would be favored because it is a moon name, and in a solar dynasty you'll tend to have both solar and lunar names. Furthermore, we know that Elagabalus attempted to provide as the wife for his god – the solar god [el- Gabal] – Urania, the goddess of the moon. So clearly he's thinking along this line, too.
DHK: They're making it in terms of what he did. I think it is funny. I think we should avoid anything that is going to take us into what for most genealogists would be side issues that they don't control in any way.
MKK: Perhaps in general, but in some cases I think it would be a good idea to drop some such observations to footnotes – leave them out of the main text, but make some reference to them in the footnote, because it does tend somewhat to reassure the overall idea. Finally, we have, as I have shown you in a chart that I gave you long ago, and it should be somewhere here, we have from the Corpus of Inscriptions at Emesa, published in French – and I found it at Widener – we have indeed a major tomb with a Uranius buried in it, I believe from the second century. And I think you could almost guarantee that the majority of the people who are so graced with surviving major tomb inscriptions, either were members of the royal family of Emesa or somehow closely related to them. Just given the pyramidal structure of the society involved.