Salvian is believed to have been born in Cologne in about AD 400. Between AD 411 and AD 439 he witnessed several invasions by the Barbarians. After a spell as a teacher, Salvian became a priest in Marseilles. Salvian, a wealthy man, gave all his property to the church. He wrote several books, including Against Avarice and On the Governance of God. In his books, Salvian attacked the unfair distribution of wealth and power in the Roman Empire. Salvian died in about AD 470.

Primary Sources

(1) Salvian, On the Governance of God (c. AD 450)

In these (the Roman Games) the greatest pleasure is to have men die, or, what is worse... to have them torn to pieces... to have men eaten, to the great joy and the delight of the onlookers... There are no shows given now in Mayence... nor at Cologne, for they are now controlled by the barbarians... What hope have Christians in the sight of God when these evils only cease to exist... when Roman cities themselves have come under the control of the barbarians.

(2) Salvian, On the Governance of God (c. AD 450)

The Romans were of old the mightiest of men, now they are without strength; of old they were feared, but now they live in fear. Under the judgement of a just God we are paying what we owe... as the Scripture says: "What men have sowed, they shall also reap."

(3) Salvian, On the Governance of God (c. AD 450)

Most men wish praise, and no one enjoys criticism. Worse than this... he prefers to be deceived by false praise than healed by criticism.

(4) Salvian, On the Governance of God (c. AD 450)

You can't help admiring the Vandals. They entered the wealthiest cities and took them over... in such a way that they rejected their corrupting customs and now use those things that are good, and avoid the degrading influence of those that are evil.