31 Sister of the emperor Mauricius, and governess of the imperial children See also I. 5, VII. 26. This long letter to her was called forth by her having complained to Gregory of erroneous views in matters of religion being imputed to her at Constantinople, for which she seems to have been maligned in certain quarters. In his reply, with his habitual courtesy, he takes for granted that such imputations were unfounded, though the pains he takes to combat the errors with which she was charged may perhaps suggest the idea of his not being in his heart quite assured of her soundness. The whole letter, both for its tone and for its style of argumentation, is very characteristic of the writer.
40 Cf. XIII. 5 for a similar assertion of the unlawfulness of superseding a bishop, except at his own request, when incapacitated by illness. See also VII. 19 In this epistle may be observed Gregory's habitual deference to the Emperors, whose subject he ever declared himself to be even in matters of ecclesiastical import, together with his avoidance of giving his own sanction to anything he regarded as irreligious or uncanonical. Similarly in the case of an imperial prohibition of soldiers becoming monks . See III. 65; VIII. 5; X. 24. Cf. also IV. 47, in the case of Maximus of Salona. We find him, howerer, in a letter to the empress, in which this case of Maximus is referred to (V. 21), making a respectful protest against imperial interference in matters of ecclesiastical cognizance.
43 Desiderius was bishop of Vienne, cf. VI. 54. This letter, with others that follow (Epp. LV., LVI., LVII., LVIII, LIX., LX., LXI., LXII., LXIV., LXV., LXVl., and possibly also the preceding Epistle, XXIX.) were carried, as appears from its conclusion, by Mellitus and his companions, who, in answer to Augustine's request, were sent by Gregory from Rome to reinforce the mission to Britain (Bede, H.E. 1.27, 29). See Prolegomena, p. xxvi. It is notable as shewing Gregory's views with regard to the study of secular literature.