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Leo (1) I, 'the Great', pope, 440–461 CE  

Samuel James Beeching Barnish

As deacon, though an unoriginal theologian, he influenced Popes Celestine I and Sixtus III on doctrine, and served in secular diplomacy. As pope, he purged Manichaeans (see manichaeism) from Rome, in partnership with senate and emperor, and attacked Pelagians (see pelagius) and *Priscillianists. He intervened against Eutychian Monophysitism, opposing the council of Ephesus (449), which had spurned his Christological manifesto; this Tome was accepted at Chalcedon (451). He annulled Chalcedon's equation of Rome and Constantinople, but improved contact with Constantinople, establishing an apocrisiarius (secretary). Proclaiming the authority of St. Peter, through interventions and administrative restructurings, and despite worsening communications, he strengthened papal power in the Balkans and crumbling western provinces. (However, *Valentinian III's grant of primacy throughout the west (445) implies imperial supremacy.) His buildings, iconography, liturgies, cult of St. Peter, and encouragement of charity and observance of the Christian calendar enhanced Rome's sacred status. Confronting *Attila (451) and *Gaiseric (454), he helped to turn back the Huns and minimize the *Vandal sack.

Article

Libanius  

Peter Heather

Libanius, born at *Antioch (1) (ce 314), died there (c.393), was a pagan Greek rhetorician whose writings embodied many of the traditional ideals and aspirations of elite life in the eastern Roman Mediterranean at a time when some its basic patterns were facing profound transformation. He belonged to a wealthy Antiochene curial family (see decuriones), and after a careful education at home was sent to study in Athens (336–40). Thereafter he taught *rhetoric successively at *Constantinople (340/1–346) and at *Nicomedia. Recalled to Constantinople by Constantius II, he was offered but declined a chair of rhetoric at Athens; in 354 he accepted a salaried chair of rhetoric in Antioch, where he passed the rest of his life. His pupils numbered many distinguished pagans and Christians alike: John Chrysostom and Theodore of Mopsuestia almost certainly, *Basil and *Gregory (2) of Nazianzus probably, and *Ammianus Marcellinus possibly.

Article

Martianus Minneus Felix Capella  

Danuta Shanzer

Composed in Vandalic *Carthage (see Vandals), probably in the last quarter of the 5th cent. ce, a prosimetrical Latin encyclopaedia of the seven Liberal Arts (grammar, dialectic, rhetoric—the medieval ‘trivium’—and the ‘quadrivium’, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, music; see education, Greek, §§ 3 and 4). He subsequently composed a short metrical treatise. Both works were addressed to his son. The encyclopaedia, usually known as the De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii, but called the Philologia by its author, comprises a two-book introductory myth describing the ascent to heaven, apotheosis, and marriage of Philology to *Mercury, as well as a seven-book introduction to the Liberal Arts, in which each subject is presented by an elaborately described female personification. The encyclopaedic books are pedestrian compilations, mostly from Latin sources, such as *Aquila Romanus, *Geminus, *Pliny(1) the Elder, *Quintilian, and *Iulius Solinus; whether Varro's lost Disciplinarum libri were also used is still debated.

Article

Melania the Younger  

E. D. Hunt

Melania the Younger, a pioneer of monasticism in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 5th cent. ce. Born into the highest circles of the Roman aristocracy, she was married in her fourteenth year to Valerius Pinianus, another scion of a senatorial family. After the early deaths of two children, and inspired by the example of her like-named grandmother (who had forsaken her patrimony for a life of asceticism and monastic piety in Egypt and the Holy Land), she and her husband entered on a pact to embrace the monastic life. Against the background of Alaric's invasion of Italy, they disposed of estates and property, diverting the proceeds to charity and monastic foundations. Accompanied by her mother Albina they left for Africa in 410 (where their wealth was eyed by Augustine's local church at Hippo), then seven years later travelled on to the Holy Land and settled in Jerusalem. Melania founded a monastery for women on the Mount of Olives, followed soon by one for men (after the death of Pinianus). She was summoned to the imperial court at Constantinople in 436 to meet her pagan uncle Volusianus, on an embassy from the West, and had the satisfaction of seeing his death-bed conversion to Christianity; back in Jerusalem in 438 she received Theodosius II's empress Eudocia on pilgrimage to the holy city.

Article

Melito, d. c. 190 CE  

Henry Chadwick and M. J. Edwards

Melito (d. c. 190 ce), bishop of *Sardis, addressed a defence of Christianity to Marcus *Aurelius (only fragments extant), in which he sees Christ's birth as providentially coinciding with Augustus's establishment of the pax Romana. A sermon on the Eucharist (preserved in three Greek papyri, a Coptic papyrus, some Syriac fragments, a Georgian version, and a Latin epitome) is both an early essay in typology and a rhetorical exercise. It is written in a florid style, with many parallels to that of *Maximus (1) of Tyre, making much use of isocolon with anaphora and homoeoteleuton.

Article

Montanism  

William Hugh Clifford Frend and M. J. Edwards

A prophetic movement among Christians in Asia Minor. It emerged in *Phrygia, probably c.ce 172 (Euseb.Chron. under twelfth year of M. *Aurelius), since the conflicting evidence of Epiphanius (Adv. haeres. 48. 1) is otherwise unreliable. Montanus is a shadowy figure, and his sect owed its growth to the prophetesses Prisca and Maximilla, who proclaimed the approaching descent of the New Jerusalem near the Phrygian village of Pepuza. Their message seems to have been purely eschatological, with a strong emphasis on the glory of martyrdom, the attainment of ritual purity by rigorous fasts and penances, and freedom from the encumbrances of daily life. The movement was forcefully opposed throughout Asia Minor by bishops who denied the validity of prophecy through women or in *ecstasy. Yet, despite the failure of the original prophecies, it gained a firm hold in the country areas of Asia Minor, where an important series of Montanist inscriptions openly proclaiming the Christian beliefs of those commemorated have been found in the Tembris valley of northern Phrygia. Dating to 249–79 they are the earliest undisguisedly Christian inscriptions outside the Roman *catacombs.

Article

Naassenes  

David Potter

Christian splinter group that took its name from the Hebrew word for serpent (nahash), Hellenized (i.e. turned into Greek) as naas (Hippol.Haer. 5. 1); the word in Hebrew, perhaps not coincidentally, had the same numerical value as the word for Messiah. In Greek, the serpent was connected by false etymology with the word for temple (naos), and the Naassenes believed that nothing mortal or immortal, animate or inanimate could exist without Naas. They taught that the universe derived from an hermaphroditic monad (Adam), who produced three elements as offspring, Nous (Mind), *Chaos, and *psyche (Hippol. Haer. 5. 5). The three elements of Adam descended into one man, Jesus, who revealed knowledge, gnōsis, to humans. Just as Adam and Naas created without sex, they also preached strict sexual abstinence. It appears that they claimed that their doctrine originated with James, the brother of Jesus, who had revealed it to Mariamme. Numerous quotations from their works, including a Naassene hymn, are preserved in Hippolytus' Refutatio omnium haeresium.

Article

Nemesius, fl. c. 400 CE  

John F. Matthews

Nemesius (fl. c.400 ce), bishop of *Emesa in Syria, perhaps identical with the former advocate to whom, as governor of *Cappadocia Secunda (c.386/7), *Gregory (2) of Nazianzus addressed four letters and a protreptic poem inviting him to become a Christian. His essay in Christian Platonism, On the Nature of Man, is remarkable not only for its wide reading in medical and philosophical sources, e.g. *Galen and *Porphyry, but also for its Christian standpoint and its thesis that the spiritual life of man is conditioned by the body's natural limitations.

Article

Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, c. 386–450/1 CE  

Susan Wessel

Nestorius, the bishop of Constantinople, was deposed and sent into exile in Egypt for opposing the Christological views of Cyril of Alexandria. The theological and ecclesiastical controversy was set in motion soon after Nestorius began to serve as bishop of Constantinople. Interested in eliminating heresy, he proposed to align himself with the emperor Theodosius II. Soon thereafter, Nestorius learned that debates were taking place concerning the appropriate title of devotion for the Virgin Mary. In the use of the title Theotokos that some had proposed, he sensed a deeper Christological question, namely, “Was Mary the bearer of the Godhead”? He reasoned that if Mary was indeed the Theotokos, as some suggested, then God, or rather the Logos, the second person of the Trinity, was born from her. For Nestorius, however, while Mary was the mother of Jesus, she was not the mother of the Logos, and for that reason could not be called Theotokos.

Article

Niceta  

Alun Hudson-Williams and Peter Heather

Bishop of Remesiana (mod. Bela Palanka, former Yugoslavia) c.400 ce. Missionary to barbarians and a friend of *Paulinus of Nola, he wrote amongst other works an Explanatio symboli: an exposition of the Apostle's Creed. Reputedly he composed the great Church hymn, Te Deum laudamus.

Article

nimbus  

George M. A. Hanfmann and Roger Ling

A circular cloud of light which surrounds the heads of gods or emperors (Serv. on Aen. 2. 616, 3. 587) and heroes. The belief that light radiates from a sacred or divine person is a common one and the nimbus only a special form which was developed in classical religion and art. Assyrian art, for instance, represents some gods with rays around their shoulders, and Greek art shows deities of light, such as *Helios, with a radiate crown. Greek vases and Etruscan mirrors of the 5th cent. bce afford the earliest examples of nimbus, often combined with the crown of rays. This hybrid form is also found at *Palmyra in the 1st cent. ad. Under the Roman empire the plain, smooth form tends to prevail. In Pompeian wall-paintings (see pompeii) it is still associated primarily with the deities of light, such as *Apollo-Helios and *Diana, but almost all pagan gods of any importance are occasionally represented with a nimbus; in the 2nd and 3rd cents.

Article

Novatianus  

J. H. D. Scourfield

Novatianus, Roman presbyter and ‘anti-pope’. On failing to be elected to the see of Rome in ce 251, he had himself consecrated counter-bishop to Cornelius, perhaps from a mixture of personal and theological motives, and certainly under pressure. His schismatic Church of καθαροί (‘pure ones’), which lasted for centuries, was strongly rigorist, refusing all reconciliation to those who lapsed or committed serious sins. Surviving works, written in stylish Latin, include at least two letters in the Cyprianic corpus (30, 36; perhaps 31), an impressive treatise on the Trinity, and another on Jewish dietary laws; the De spectaculis (‘On Spectacles’) and De bono pudicitiae (‘On the Excellence of Chastity’) attributed to *Cyprian are now also widely accepted as his. His debt to *Stoicism has been exaggerated. He was apparently martyred under Valerian (P. *Licinius Valerianus).

Article

Optatus of Milevis, c. 4th cent. CE  

M. J. Edwards

Catholic bishop from Africa, whose treatise Against the Donatists (or De Schismate Donatistarum, “On the Donatist schism”) provides our only surviving account of the origins of the Donatist controversy. Jerome (On Famous Men 90) speaks of a work in six books written in the reign of Valens (364–379ce), but the extant version runs to seven and alludes to the pontificate of Siricius, which commenced in 384 (Donatists 2.3). Since Optatus speaks elsewhere of the persecution that ended in 311 as having occurred sixty years ago (1.13) and implies that Photinus, who died in 376, is a contemporary (4.5), we may postulate a first edition in six books before 376, and a second in seven after 384. The work is also known as the Contra Parmenianum, since its principal interlocutor is the man of that name whom the Donatists regarded as bishop of Carthage.

The first book gives an account of the Numidian bishops’ revolt against Caecilian when he succeeded Mensurius as bishop of Carthage. The cause of this, according to Optatus, was the rumour that bishop Felix of Abthugni, who took part in the consecration of Caecilian, had handed over copies of the scriptures to be burnt in the Great Persecution. He adds (1.19) that the malice of a rich woman named Lucilla was a contributory factor. At 1.22 he reproduces a letter of remonstrance to Constantine, in which the signatories declare themselves to be of the party of Donatus; if genuine, this is evidence that the malcontents named themselves after the man whom they had nominated as bishop of Carthage. The acquittal of Felix by a Roman synod under Miltiades is recorded as the final ecclesiastical pronouncement (1.24); nothing is said of the subsequent Council of Arles in 314, and we are given to understand at 1.26 that Constantine doubted the validity of Caecilian’s election even after the Roman judgement (1.26). This passage, since it appeared to favour the Donatists, was strenuously debated at the Conference of Carthage in 411.

Article

Orientius  

Jill Harries

Orientius, a Gaul of the 5th cent. ce, who composed an elegiac exhortation to a Christian life.

Article

Origen (1) (Origenes Adamantius), Christian author, c. 185–c. 255 CE  

Henry Chadwick and M. J. Edwards

Origen (1) (Origenes Adamantius), (probably 184 ce or 185–254 or 255: Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 7. 1, Jerome, De Vir. Ill.54) was born at *Alexandria(1) of Christian parents. Our chief source of information on his life is the sixth book of *Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, together with the Panegyric by *Gregory(4) Thaumaturgus and the surviving book (translated by *Rufinus(2)) of the Apology for Origen which Eusebius wrote with Pamphilus (Migne, PG17. 521–616). Educated by his father Leonides (who perished in the persecution of 202 under Septimius Severus) and later in the Catechetical School of Alexandria under Pantaenus and *Clement (of Alexandria), he became a teacher himself, with such success that he was recognized, first informally, then in 203 officially, as head of the school. He learned pagan philosophy from one Ammonius, perhaps not *Ammonius Saccas but another Ammonius who was a *Peripatetic (Porphyry, in Eus.

Article

Orosius  

E. D. Hunt

Orosius, a young presbyter who arrived in Africa from NW Spain (Braga) in ce 414; his memorandum (Commonitorium) against the *Priscillianist and Origenist heresies (see origen(1)) led *Augustine to address a reply to him on the subject. On Augustine's commendation he moved on to *Jerome in Bethlehem. While in the Holy Land he argued against the Pelagians (see pelagius), and received a portion of the recently discovered remains of St Stephen to take back to the congregation in Braga; unable to make the crossing to Spain, he left these relics with the Christians of the island of Minorca (Migne, PL 41. 805 ff.). Returning to Africa, with Augustine's encouragement he compiled the seven books of his Histories against the Pagans, stretching from the Creation to the history of Rome down to ce 417—an apologetic response (see apologists) to the *pagan argument that the coming of Christianity had brought disaster to the world.

Article

Orthodoxy  

Richard Flower

The concept of orthodoxy denotes a central set of doctrines, often specified by a recognised authoritative body or set of individuals, to which any person must subscribe in order to be accepted by others as a fellow member of a religious community. Despite some possible precedents among ancient philosophers, the concept of orthodoxy developed in a distinct manner within Christianity in tandem with the notion of heresy, especially from the 2nd century onward. This involved defining an identity around certain core beliefs, alongside particular practices, apostolic traditions, and canonical texts, thereby gradually restricting the boundaries of theological speculation and acceptable difference of opinion. This was partly in response to disagreements with people who regarded themselves, or were most regarded by others, as forming part of the religious community, but also partly in response to criticisms from non-Christians. These arguments were, therefore, focused on the establishment of identity for a group through the establishment of boundaries, particularly in a context of a diversity of scattered Christian communities in which there was no recognised central authority to which adherents could appeal. Some of these earliest disputes were centred on the status of the Creator God and other cosmological issues, but also included Christological disagreements concerning Jesus Christ himself, which would go on to be the most prominent sources of controversy in the attempts to define orthodoxy during late antiquity.

Article

pagan, paganism  

Michele Renee Salzman

The Latin word paganus (pagan), which originally meant “a country district or community,” could take on a more general sense as “a place with fixed boundaries.” From this early meaning, paganus evolved to mean civilian as opposed to military. Its application by Christians to those who were not of their faith has been explained variously. Some scholars derive its Christian usage based on the association of pagans with the countryside, while others see Christians using the term for the civilians as opposed to “soldiers of Christ.” Only in the 4th century do the words pagan and paganism (paganismus) emerge with the general meaning of “non-Christian.” Some scholars dispute the pejorative nature of the term at this date, but non-Christians were increasingly attacked by hostile 4th-century Christian writers. Because of this enmity and due to the misleading denigration of non-Christians as pagans, some modern scholars have refused to use the term pagan or paganism in their works. Others, however, view its usage as justified, especially given the hostility of late Roman Christians to non-believers.

Article

Palladius (2), ascetic and biographer  

Philip Rousseau

Born in *Galatia in 364 ce, Palladius, like his brother and sister, adopted an ascetic life. He settled first on the Mount of Olives, where he associated with Melania the Elder and *Rufinus (2) and came under the influence of *Origen (1)'s works. He moved to Egypt c.ce 388—first to *Alexandria (1), then to the monastic centre Nitria during the heyday of Arsenius, and finally to the Kellia, where he remained for nine years in the company of Macarius of Alexandria and Evagrius of Pontus. Always restless and with a wide-ranging curiosity, he kept in touch with Palestinian associates and explored the ascetic communities established further south under the influence of Pachomius; see asceticism. Poor health forced him eventually to leave Egypt. He returned north to Bithynia, came under the influence of John *Chrysostom after c.ce 400, and was appointed bishop of Helenopolis. Heavily involved in the controversies surrounding Chrysostom in Constantinople, he helped plead his cause with Innocent, bishop of Rome, ce 404–5, and suffered consequently a short period of exile thereafter.

Article

Papirianus  

R. A. Kaster

Papirianus (date unknown, perhaps 5th cent. ce), writer on orthography cited by *Priscian and excerpted by *Cassiodorus (Keil, Gramm. Lat. 7. 158–65; cf. ibid. 216, a fragment of ‘Q. Papirius,’ probably the same man).