Jerome's De viris illustribus has most often been read as a Senecan project (Ceresa-Gastaldo 1988) and interpreted as the catalogue of an ideal Christian library (Tanner 1979), but these heuristics do not account for many features of the text. In order to better understand Jerome’s project, I analyze his text using social network theory to trace the relationships Jerome constructs between the archive, agents and ideal of knowledge under Christianity (building on Grafton 2009 & Williams 2008). Social network analysis exposes Jerome's embedded strategies of citation, and mapping the text this way reveals his hidden agendas, namely the amplification and suppression of schools of thought drawn from a careful selection of competing source of authority (Moretti 2005). Jerome is the patron saint of libraries, and his little-studied catalogue mediated the transmission and reception of both Classical and Christian texts by stamping them with unimpeachable orthodoxy. Libraries were formed on the basis of Jerome's endorsements (e.g. Koeppler 1936), so understanding his choices is immensely important to the history of late antique, medieval and Byzantine curricula.
The List as Genre