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John F. Matthews

Son of rich parents probably from the upper ranks of curial society (see decuriones) rather than of Roman senatorial rank, he became bishop of *Carthage (248) soon after baptism and was quickly beset by the emperor *Decius' persecution (248), for which his writings are a major source. His letters and tracts, from which much of the old Latin Bible can be reconstructed, deal mainly with difficulties within the Christian community resulting from the persecution, especially the terms and proper authority for restoration of apostates and the avoidance of a split between the rival advocates of laxity and rigour. In 256–7 his theology led to a split with Rome, whose bishop Stephen recognized the baptism of *Novatianus’ community (since 251 separated on rigorist grounds). In *Valerian's persecution (257) he was exiled to Curubis, but returned to Carthage and on 14 September 258 was executed there, the authorities treating him with the respect due to his class.

Article

Matthew R. Crawford

Serving as bishop of Alexandria from 412 until his death in 444, Cyril was one of the two most influential episcopal leaders of the city during Late Antiquity, second only to Athanasius in terms of his involvement in ecclesiastical politics and his significance as an authority for later Christian traditions. His career was marked by attempts to oppose Jews, pagans, and Christians whose theology he regarded as contrary to the Nicene faith. In pursuit of this goal he proved to be a politically savvy tactician, as well as a rhetorically and intellectually powerful polemicist in pamphlets, letters, florilegia, and treatises. He was also an effective bishop who exhibited pastoral concern for the organization and vitality of the Egyptian church as well as its unity with other churches throughout the empire.Details of Cyril’s early life are murky. All that survives are much later reports that may not be accurate, such as the claim that he spent five years in the Nitrian desert receiving instruction from the ascetic Serapion (Severus ibn al-Muqaffa‘, .

Article

E. D. Hunt

Bishop from c. 350 ce to his death in 387 (although banished three times from his see). His 24 Catechetical Lectures are an important source for liturgical history and for the topography of 4th-cent. *Jerusalem. Cyril promoted the theological significance of holy places, and was instrumental in the development of a ‘stational’ liturgy; he was also a keen defender of the ecclesiastical status of Jerusalem as the prime see of Christianity, provoking opposition from the provincial metropolitan bishop of (Syrian) Caesarea.

Article

Bishop Damasus of Rome was the builder of Christian Rome and papal power in the 4th century. Following a double election, Damasus succesfully fought the schism instigated by his rival Ursinus. Damasus established the cult of the martyrs in the Roman catacombs and commissioned Jerome to revise the Latin translation of the Bible. A great promoter of the preeminence of Rome (“primacy of Peter”) among the churches, Damasus enjoyed the support of Emperor Theodosius I, but his relations with the East were strained.Damasus came from a clerical family. His parents Antonius and Laurentia may have moved from Spain to Rome, where his father served as a priest and his sister Irene was a consecrated virgin. Laurentia remained a widow for sixty years after her husband’s death. Born in Rome around 305, Damasus personally witnessed the restoration of rights to Christians after Diocletian’s Persecution, the ushering in of the new Constantinian ecclesiastical policy, and the struggle of the pro-Nicene Churches with those who opposed the Council (see .

Article

Gregory D. Wiebe

The background of early Christian demonology was in both Hebrew and Greek culture. Jews associated the Greek word daimōn with the false gods of the surrounding nations. This was in many ways an intuitive application of the Greek term. It carried the sense of ambivalent divine or semi-divine power, which significant philosophical traditions understood to mediate between humans and gods. The New Testament carries this theme, though its focus is more on Christ’s exorcisms of demons, and his gift of that power to his disciples, with the early church tying the two together in the theological literature, as well as baptismal exorcisms and renunciations of the devil and idolatry.Demons were widely thought to have aerial bodies, which allowed them to perform various marvels, like foretelling the future. They were ultimately taken to be fallen angels with Satan as their leader, though this was not a given early in the tradition. While the Christian understanding was that Christ had defeated them on the cross, this was not taken to preclude the ongoing influence of demons in human affairs prior to the final judgement. Indeed, they constituted a significant moral problem for the Christian life, which absolutely opposed them. For Christians, Christ and the demons were the two sides of the fundamental dilemma of every human soul. The problem of demons manifested differently depending on the context, whether in its encounter with false religion, from idolatry to the persecutions the gods inspired; or in the innumerable tempting thoughts encountered in the pursuit of ascetic discipline.

Article

Blossom Stefaniw

Didymus the Blind (c. 313—c. 398) was a textual scholar and ascetic practitioner. He is not associated with any of the major ascetic settlements around Alexandria and appears to have spent his entire life in or near the city. He is most known for his treatises On the Holy Spirit and On the Trinity (although the authorship of the latter is disputed) and for his biblical commentaries.Although the Council of Nicaea in 325 took place when Didymus was still a schoolboy, controversy and competition by the parties involved continued through Didymus’ lifetime. Didymus himself supported the decision of the Council, which the Alexandrian bishop, Athanasius, had promoted. After Didymus’ death, however, he was no longer associated with the orthodoxy of the day and, because of his reception of Origen of Alexandria, was condemned, along with Origen and Evagrius Ponticus, in connection with the 2nd Council of Constantinople in 553.

Article

An Athenian converted at Athens by St *Paul (Acts 17: 34). Four treatises—The Celestial Hierarchy, The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, The Divine Names, and The Mystical Theology—and ten letters are ascribed to him. These works, the product of a single mind, belong almost certainly to the early 6th cent. ce and were first cited (and ascribed to Paul's convert) in 532. They display an enthusiasm for the *Neoplatonism of *Proclus, while theologically they belong to a Syrian milieu, mistrustful of Chalcedonian Christology. Their heady brew of Neoplatonic philosophy and biblical and liturgical symbolism became immensely popular in the Middle Ages: they exercised a powerful influence both in the east and the west. The author sees the cosmos as a vast theophany in which divine revelation draws all rational creatures back through love into harmony with the unknowable God by a process of purification, illumination, and union: this harmony is displayed in the celestial hierarchy of angelic powers, whose order reflects the threefold nature of the Trinity, and achieved through the similarly triadic sacramental structure of the Church. Scholars are divided as to whether Dionysius' allegiance is fundamentally pagan and Neoplatonic or authentically Christian.

Article

William Hugh Clifford Frend and Todd Breyfogle

The Donatists were members of a puritanical church of the martyrs in 4th- and early 5th-cent. Roman Africa. Their schism from the African Catholics derived from the events of the Great Persecution under *Diocletian and *Maximian (303–5). African clergy who complied with imperial demands to surrender Christian scriptures were dubbed traditores or ‘surrenderers’. Moderates and rigorists clashed over the procedure for readmitting traditores to communion, arguing over how far the Church on earth must be a ‘mixed body’ containing both righteous and sinners. The death of Mensurius, bishop of *Carthage, accentuated divisions. When Carthaginian Christians elected the archdeacon Caecilian bishop in Mensurius' stead, a strong party of dissenters, backed by Numidian bishops, countered by electing Majorinus as rival bishop (probably 307, but perhaps 311/12). At his death, Majorinus was succeeded by the cleric Donatus, possibly of Casae Nigrae in Numidia.In the winter of 312/3, *Constantine I ordered the return to Caecilian of confiscated Church property and exempted Caecilian's clergy from a number of fiscal burdens.

Article

David E. Wilhite

The Donatist party began around 312 ce when Mensurius, bishop of Carthage, died and was replaced by Caecilian. Caecilian’s accusers claimed that he had been ordained by a traditor, someone who had “handed over” the scriptures to Roman officials during the Diocletian persecution. This ordination by a traditor allegedly contaminated Caecilian and all who continued in his communion with the contagion of idolatry, and therefore his ordination was seen as invalidated. In his place the opposing party appointed Majorinus as the rightful bishop of Carthage, and when he died, he was succeeded by Donatus, for whom the party eventually was named. Caecilian and his supporters continued to claim his innocence from such contagion, and so the Donatists appealed to Constantine. A council was summoned to Rome which ruled on Caecilian’s behalf. The Donatists again appealed, and so a larger council met in Arles in 314 and ruled again for Caecilian. When the Donatists still refused to recognize Caecilian, and since they broke fellowship with all in communion with him, Constantine pressured the Donatists with legal and even violent means. This schism continued through the 4th century with sporadic violence between the parties: Caecilian’s party could invoke government officials to enforce their legitimacy, while the Donatists were accused of utilizing the Circumcellions, a group which functioned as a violent mob. In the late 4th century, writers such as Optatus of Milevis and Augustine articulated a defense of their own “Catholic” party through various pamphlets and treatises; they claimed that their party was never guilty of such contagion, and that the Donatists were so concerned with the purity of the church that they had forsaken its catholicity. In short, the Donatists allegedly believed that their party in North Africa was the only remaining true church. In the late 4th and early 5th centuries, the government, advised by Augustine’s party, developed stricter attempts to coerce the Donatists. In 411 a conference met in Carthage at which the Donatists were found to be “heretics,” which finalized the Roman policy against them by requiring the enforcement of heresy laws against this party. While there is ongoing evidence for Donatists long after Augustine’s time, when the Vandals invaded and conquered North Africa beginning in 429, the Donatist controversy largely disappeared in the surviving literary sources.

Article

Helen Kaufmann

Blossius Aemilius Dracontius was one of the most remarkable Latin poets in Vandal North Africa. He lived in Carthage around 500 ce, and combined poetry with a career in law. His major Christian work De laudibus dei (‘Praises of God’) combines biblical narrative with exegesis, doctrine, and autobiography. He also wrote a ‘Plea’ (Satisfactio) to the Vandal king Gunthamund, who had imprisoned him, as well as four short mythological epics (on Hylas, Helen, Medea, and Orestes respectively), two epithalamia, two prefaces, three rhetorical pieces, two epigrams, and two now lost panegyrics. Dracontius’ work stands out for its originality in combining sources, for its creative use of literary forms and rhetoric, and for its character descriptions.Blossius Aemilius Dracontius lived in Carthage around 500ce. Only one event in his life, his imprisonment under Gunthamund, can be dated approximately: the Vandal king ruled from 484 to 496.1 Dracontius’ tripartite name, as well as inscriptional evidence for a (different) Dracontius and further Blossii in North Africa, suggests a North African Roman origin; the title .

Article

Magnus Felix Ennodius (473/4 –521 ce), from Provence, cleric of Milan, bishop of Pavia (513–21). Author of works supporting Pope Symmachus in the Laurentian schism, a biography of his predecessor Epiphanius of Pavia, a panegyric of *Theoderic (1), letters, model speeches, and secular and sacred poems. In form and in their blend of classical and Christian elements these works continue the epistolary and poetic traditions of the 4th and 5th cents. They cast significant light on literary education in Rome and Milan, on aristocratic society in northern Italy and southern Gaul, and on both secular and ecclesiastical politics in the Ostrogothic kingdom of Theoderic.

Article

Henry Chadwick and John F. Matthews

Ephraem Syrus was born at *Nisibis where he lived until Jovian's surrender of the city to the Persians (363) forced him to move to *Edessa. He wrote (mainly verse) in Syriac; he could read Greek and was influenced by Hellenistic rhetoric. His ‘hymns’ contain many historical references, e.g. to the death of *Julian ‘the Apostate’ and the surrender of Nisibis, to the sufferings of the Church under Julian and the restoration of Church life under the Persians, and to the Arian controversy (see arianism). Greek adaptations of his verses were current during his lifetime, and the fame he enjoyed is attested by *Jerome. A small but increasing proportion of his works has been critically edited.

Article

Martin J. Brooke

A late antique genre in which material from the Bible is versified in hexameters. Six major texts survive, the earliest being (1) the Evangeliorum libri IV of *Iuvencus. (2) The Heptateuchos of ‘Cyprianus Gallus’ versifies the first seven books of the Old Testament, and may originally have extended further. (3) The Carmen Paschale of Caelius *Sedulius consists of four books which synthesize the Gospel narratives, preceded by a résumé of Old Testament miracles. A prose version of the same material was written to accompany the poem. Provenance is uncertain, but the works are usually dated to ce 425–50. (4) The Alethia of Claudius Marius Victorius, a teacher of Marseilles, is a three-book paraphrase of the earliest portion of Genesis, written c.430. (5) Alcimus Avitus, born of a noble family c.450 and appointed bishop of Vienne c.490, wrote a five-book epic De spiritalis historiae gestis, treating Genesis 1–3, the Flood, and the Crossing of the Red Sea. (6) The De actibus Apostolorum of the Italian subdeacon Arator treats the material of Acts in two books, devoted respectively to Sts Peter and Paul.

Article

Henry Chadwick and M. J. Edwards

Epiphanius (c. 315–403 ce), born in Eleutheropolis, Palestine. He became a monk, and in 367 bishop of *Salamis (2) (Constantia) in Cyprus. Regarding *Origen (1) as the source of *Arianism, he attacked both in his Ancoratus (373) and Panarion (374–6), which includes the chief Greek philosophies among its 80 heresies. Ignorant and suspicious of Greek culture, he feared that *allegory would deny the historicity of Scripture and the resurrection of the body. Nevertheless his De gemmis and De mensuris et ponderibus allow typology, the latter being also an important source on Greek versions of the Old Testament.

Article

Wolfram Kinzig

Greek Christian apology of uncertain authorship, date (perhaps 3rd cent. ce), and provenance (perhaps *Alexandria (1)). It contains an exposition of the Christian doctrine of God, of the Christian life in the world, and of the reasons for and the time of the salvation of the sinner brought about by the coming of the Son of God. The ending (chs. 11–12) is perhaps secondary.

Article

Eusebius, of Caesare (c. 260–339 ce), prolific writer, biblical scholar and apologist, effective founder of the Christian genres of Church history and chronicle, and the most important contemporary source for the reign of *Constantine I . His intellectual formation at *Caesarea (2) in Palestine owed much to the influence of Pamphilus (martyred 310), by whom he was apparently adopted, and to their joint use of the library of *Origen (1) . From his election as bishop of Caesarea c.313 until his death in 339, Eusebius played a significant role in ecclesiastical politics in the eastern empire. He attended and assented to the decisions of the council of Nicaea in 325, having been readmitted to communion after recanting his earlier views; but though he delivered a speech at the dedication of Constantine's church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (335) and encomia for the emperor's decennalia (315–16) and tricennalia (335–36), he was probably not such a confidant of Constantine as has commonly been supposed.

Article

John Francis Lockwood and Robert Browning

Eustathius (12th cent. ce) born and educated in *Constantinople, was deacon at St Sophia and taught rhetoric (and probably grammar) in the patriarchal school until 1178, when he became metropolitan of *Thessalonica, in which position he continued till his death (c.1194). His works of classical scholarship were written before 1178. Henceforward he devoted himself to the practical duties of his spiritual office and to combating the prevailing corruption of monastic life.(1) Classical: Commentary on Pindar, of which only the introduction survives; this gives information on lyric poetry (especially Pindar's) and Pindar's life, and shorter notes on the *Olympian Games and the *pentathlon. The Commentary on Dionysius Periegetes contains discursive scholia, valuable for citations from earlier geographers, historians, the unabridged *Stephanus of Byzantium, and the lost works of *Arrian. The Commentaries on Homer's Iliad and Odyssey (Παρεκβολαὶ εἰς τὴν Ὁμήρου Ἰλιάδα.

Article

Blossom Stefaniw

A deacon, ascetic teacher, and prolific writer, Evagrius Ponticus lived from c. 345 to 399ce. Within some strands of late ancient Christianity, his teachings were no longer considered orthodox later in his life or after his death, although the Armenian and Syrian churches continued to cherish his writings. As a young man, Evagrius contributed to the doctrinal campaign of Gregory Nazianzus at the 1st Council of Constantinople in 381, a position which prevailed as orthodox at that time. Around 382, Evagrius left the capital and joined a monastic community in Jerusalem led by Rufinus of Aquileia and Melania the Elder, who were learned ascetics. In 383, while still in Jerusalem, Evagrius committed himself to asceticism and eventually travelled to Egypt. Until his death in 399, Evagrius studied and taught and wrote on the ascetic life, developing a meticulous taxonomy of evil thoughts, their origins, and the physical experiences associated with them. He arranged his works in an ascetic curriculum for the training of monks, monitored and counseled more junior monks in their practice, and provided handbooks on the ascetic practices or biblical texts which were best suited to neutralize specific evil thoughts.

Article

Evagrius was born in the Syrian city of Epiphania into a wealthy family that could support the extended legal study necessary to qualify as a scholasticus. This education enabled him to pursue a career in the patriarchate of Antioch, where he ended up as legal advisor to the Chalcedonian Patriarch, Gregory I, whom he helped to rebut an accusation of sexual misconduct. He is known for composing an Ecclesiastical History, which continued the work of Socrates Scholasticus, and to a lesser extent those of Sozomen and Theodoret, and is the last classical example of this genre. He also compiled a collection of documents, speeches, and other material issued by Gregory and a work celebrating the birth of Emperor Maurice’s son Theodosius in 584, neither of which survives. Emperor Tiberius had awarded him the honorary rank of quaestor in return for a literary work, and Maurice that of prefect, probably for the work on Theodosius (6.24).

Article

H. D. Jocelyn and Gregory Hays

A 6th-cent. Christian writer from North Africa, possibly Carthage, credited with four extant works. The Mythologiae, in three books, is a set of allegorical interpretations of pagan myths, preceded by a prosimetrical preface. The Expositio Vergilianae continentiae secundum philosophos moralis offers an allegorical interpretation of the Aeneid, narrated by the shade of *Virgil himself. The Expositio sermonum antiquorum gives explanations of about 70 obsolete words illustrated by citations of authors ranging from Naevius to *Martianus Capella. It includes a number of fragments from *Petronius. Some of the citations are from otherwise unknown authors or are suspect for other reasons. The De aetatibus mundi et hominis is a summary of world history, sacred and profane, originally in 23 chapters, of which only the first 14 are preserved. It is 'lipogrammatic' in form: each chapter corresponds to a letter of the alphabet and employs only words that do not include that letter. All four works are marked by an extremely ornate style, clearly influenced by *Apuleius.