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Article

John Norman Davidson Kelly and David M. Gwynn

Athanasius was one of the greatest fathers of the 4th-century Church. As a deacon he attended the council of *Nicaea (1) (325), and in 328 he was appointed bishop of *Alexandria (1). Athanasius faced immediate opposition from the Meletian Schism within Egypt, and particularly from those whom he regarded as supporters of *“Arianism”, the heresy condemned at Nicaea. These conflicts caused Athanasius to be exiled from his see on five separate occasions, but he never ceased to defend his conception of Christian orthodoxy, and became the foremost champion of the Nicene doctrine that Father and Son were consubstantial (homoousios). He also developed the doctrine of the full divinity of the Holy Spirit, promoted the spread of monasticism, notably through his Life of Antony, and greatly enhanced the power and prestige of the Alexandrian see. Athanasius’ surviving writings include apologetic, dogmatic, and ascetic treatises, and a number of letters.

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

Hypatia  

Henriette Harich-Schwarzbauer

The philosopher Hypatia (350/370–415 ce) is one of the outstanding figures in the intellectual life of Late Antiquity. She is considered a symbol of the transformation of science and philosophy under the Christian bishops in Alexandria at the end of the 4th century ce. Her life and her works are well documented in different literary genres and by famous authors, namely by Synesius of Cyrene in his letters. The extant testimonies on her work prove that she was the guiding light of astronomy in Alexandria, where she was held in high esteem. Unsurprisingly, she became the target of aggression, and she was murdered ferociously in 415. Hypatia has been commemorated in the Byzantine and the Western traditions. She has experienced an impressive revival since the Enlightenment; even in the 21st century she is depicted as a heroine in fiction and film.Hypatia appears to have spent her entire life in her hometown of .

Article

palaces  

Kim Shelton

The term palace may be defined as a grand residence or home for a head of state, royal, or high-ranking dignitary. Usually applied to the large houses of the European aristocracy, “palace” is equivalent to palazzo in Italian and palais in Old French, both of which derive from the Latin palātium, residence of the emperor. The designation developed from the location of imperial residences in Rome on the Palatine Hill. In the later Roman Empire, imperial residences were increasingly constructed outside of Rome as well. The term palace is used also by scholars to label the royal residences of the rulers of Macedonia and of the Hellenistic kingdoms; in Greek, these residences were called anaktora, as were the monumental central structures of Minoan Crete and the Mycenaean Greek mainland during the Bronze Age.Beginning with the House of Augustus (Suet. Aug. 72.1) (41/40–36bce), one of many wealthy houses on the .

Article

Euclid  

Michalis Sialaros

Euclid of Alexandria was a Greek geometer whose floruit was c. 300 bce. He is famous as the father of geometry, as his influential Elements of Geometry has been read, edited, praised, or criticized more than any other mathematical book in history. Besides the Elements, Euclid wrote several other treatises which, according to late antique commentators, offer systematic introductions to all mathematical subdisciplines.

Euclid (Εὐκλείδης) is famous as the author of the Elements of Geometry (Στοιχεῖα). Indeed, his magnum opus has been read, edited, praised, or criticized more than any other mathematical book in history. Still, we know almost nothing about his life. The dominant view that Euclid was active in Alexandria (1) around 300 bce is based on a series of hypotheses, most of which rely on later accounts by Proclus (In Eucl. 68.8–20), Pappus (1) (Coll. 7.678.10–12.), and Stobaeus (Flor. 2.31.114).

Article

Callimachus was a Greek poet and scholar who flourished in the first half of the 3rd century bce in Alexandria, wrote in the context of its Library and Museum, and had close connections to the Ptolemaic court. Apart from six hymns and around sixty epigrams, Callimachus’s texts, both poetry and prose, have survived only in fragments. Chief among his fragmentary works are the Aetia, Iambi, and Hecale: the many papyrus fragments and quotations from these poems give evidence of their lasting impact and popularity in antiquity. Callimachus’s work is highly allusive, refined, learned, and experimental, but also attuned to its political and cultural context and engaged in a poetological discourse with predecessors and colleagues. In his poetry, Callimachus absorbs much of the earlier Greek literary tradition, and his experiments and innovations, while highly original, also reflect trends suggested by the generations preceding him. He in turn exercised great influence on later Roman and Greek poetry, particularly on the poets of Augustan Rome.

Article

Richard Hunter

Apollonius (1) Rhodius, a major literary figure of 3rd-century bce*Alexandria (1), and poet of the Argonautica, the only extant Greek hexameter *epic written between *Homer and the Roman imperial period.Our main sources are: POxy. 1241, a 2nd-cent. ce list of the librarians of the Royal Library at *Alexandria; two Lives transmitted with the manuscripts of Argonautica which probably contain material deriving from the late 1st century bce; and an entry in the Suda. All four state that Apollonius was from Alexandria itself, though two 2nd-century ce notices point rather to *Naucratis. The most likely explanation for the title “Rhodian” is thus that Apollonius spent a period of his life there, which would accord well with what we know of his works, though it remains possible that he or his family came from *Rhodes. Apollonius served as librarian and royal tutor before .

Article

Timagenes of Alexandria (1), according to Suda the son of a royal banker (βασιλικοῦ ἀργυραμοιβοῦ υἱός), was a Greek rhetor and historian, who came to Rome as a captive in 55 bce with Gabinius(2) and was ransomed and subsequently set free by Sulla’s son Faustus Cornelius Sulla (FGrH 88 T1).1 He lived and worked in Rome, and is mentioned alongside Caecilius (1) of Caleacte and Craton as a distinguished rhetor (T 1 and 2). Initially a favourite of the Emperor Augustus, he later incurred the princeps’ displeasure by his “reckless wit” (temeraria urbanitas) and went to live at the house of C. Asinius Pollio, where he enjoyed continuing popularity (T 2 and 3). “He wrote many books” (T 1), but all that is extant is the title of On Kings (peri basileōn), an attempt at writing a universal history of foreign kings from the earliest times to Augustus. Two historical fragments on papyri of the Roman period, respectively, P.

Article

Sylvia Berryman

The ancient Greek mechanical art addressed itself to the manufacture of assorted working artifacts, which were loosely organized into categories that reflected different understandings of the techniques by which they worked. Theories positing mathematical relationships were one reason for regarding groups of devices as part of a technical field; common physical principles governing their operation were another reason. The view that ancient Greek mechanics was regarded as working by magic has been discredited: although mechanics as a field produced “wonders” or show-pieces, this does not seem to have informed the understanding of the technê—a term often translated as art, but bearing implications of systematicity and method—by its practitioners. Aristotle classified mechanics, along with harmonics, astronomy, and optics, as one of the fields intermediate between mathematics and physics (Posterior Analytics 1.13, 78b37; 1.9, 76a24), based on mathematical principles.Balance and weight-lifting technologies, like levers and pulleys, were understood to exhibit mathematical proportions. A weight twice as far from the fulcrum could counterbalance another object twice its weight, or a lever twice as long could be used to raise twice the weight with the same power.

Article

Sylvia Berryman

A branch of the ancient Greek mechanical art, roughly concerned with the movement of fluids and the ways that its properties could be used to produce effects, whether lifting water, holding it suspended, or producing surprise effects that imitate the motions of living beings in theatrical displays. Water-driven timepieces and a steam-powered turbine are included in this branch.A number of early experiments in this area were aimed at establishing the corporeality of air—Anaxagoras, for instance, is credited with a test involving the lowering of a tube closed at its upper end into water, to show that the water’s entrance into the tube is somehow blocked by the air contained in the tube (DK 59A69). Many other such early investigations by natural philosophers were concerned with the explanation of biological phenomena such as respiration and the propulsion of fluids through the body, often by analogy with other more readily visible processes such as the operation of the water clock or klepsydra (see clocks), which features in the Empedoclean account of the mechanics of respiration (DK 31B100; see empedocles).

Article

Richard Stoneman

The Alexander Romance is a fictionalized life of Alexander III of Macedon (Alexander the Great, 356–323 bce), originating in the 3rd century BC, though the earliest evidence for its circulation in textual form is from the 3rd century ce. Originally written in Greek (in which there are five recensions), it was translated into Latin in the 4th century ce, and from the 5th century, into every language of Europe and the Middle East. It narrates Alexander’s birth to Olympias, as son of the last Pharaoh, Nectanebo II, of Egypt; his upbringing; his campaigns (in a strange order); his encounter with Queen Candace of Meroe; and particularly his adventures in India and beyond, including his encounter with the naked philosophers of Taxila; his death, and his will. Later versions (recensions L, gamma) include a meeting with the Amazons and his invention of a diving bell and a flying machine.The Greek .

Article

Zachariah rhetor or scholasticus, following an education at Gaza and Alexandria, trained as a lawyer in Beirut (Berytus). A close friend of the future patriarch Severus of Antioch, he wrote a detailed biography of his life until his nomination as patriarch in 512; he also composed biographies of three other anti-Chalcedonian holy men and an Ecclesiastical History. The one biography that survives and the latter work exist only in a Syriac translation because of their anti-Chalcedonian line. Zachariah spent much of his life in Constantinople practising as a lawyer, where he composed two works refuting Manichaeanism and a philosophical dialogue, set in Alexandria, rebutting pagan views. He appears to have accepted the pro-Chalcedonian policies of Justin I and Justinian, becoming metropolitan bishop of Mytilene at some point before 536, the year in which he attended the Council of Constantinople. At this gathering he was absent for the session that condemned Severus and other leading opponents of Chalcedon.

Article

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

Kenneth W. Yu

Over the course of the Hellenistic and Imperial periods, descriptions of wonders and marvels developed into a discrete branch of literature known as paradoxography. Fragments of paradoxographical collections in both Greek and Latin reveal an abiding interest in natural wonders, but marvellous phenomena related to physiology, botany, zoology, and culture also frequently appear. Paradoxography shares thematic concerns with several historiographical, philosophical, and scientific genres, leading classicists of previous generations to spurn these texts as derivative of more serious, especially Aristotelian, scholarship. More recently, however, scholars have begun to appreciate the stylistic and expository features of paradoxography according to its own logic and principles. Nevertheless, how paradoxographical compendia were read and used in antiquity and in what scholarly or popular contexts they circulated remain difficult issues.Paradoxography refers to the stand-alone compilations (denoted by συναγωγή or ἐκλογή in titles), produced from the early Hellenistic period onward, of descriptions of natural, biological, ethnographic, and cultural wonders. .

Article

Hallie Franks

“Greek” mosaics refers to mosaics that date from the 5th to 2nd centuries bce and appear in contexts associated with the Greek-speaking world in the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean. These mosaics, popular primarily in domestic contexts, were exclusively floor decoration. From the 5th to 3rd centuries, mosaics were most often made of naturally shaped and coloured pebbles set into plaster; their designs and iconography vary. Experimentation with mosaic materials in the 3rd century included the development of tesserae, which are pieces of glass, stone, or ceramic cut into regular squares that can be set flush with one another. By the 2nd century, tessellated mosaic techniques that take advantage of the precision of tesserae were widespread throughout the eastern Mediterranean.For the purposes of this entry, “Greek” mosaics refers to mosaics that date from the 5th to 2nd centuries bce (i.e., prior to Roman hegemony in the Mediterranean) and appear in contexts associated with the Greek-speaking world in the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean. Like their Roman counterparts, Greek mosaics are exclusively floor decoration. Until the development of tesserae in the .

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

For some ancient Jews, “diaspora” (together with its cognates) was an actor’s and not an observer’s term. But its import was primarily theological: God punished the Jews for their sins by dispersing them from their native land of Israel. Yet “diaspora” retains analytic utility for historians, if taken to refer to the geographically and temporally varied modes of Jewish life outside Palestine. It is not known to what extent diaspora Jews were emigrants from Palestine and their descendants; nor do we know how numerous they were. But we can follow the evidence where it exists. The main lesson is that the onset of Roman rule created crises around the integration of the Jews into their host societies. Intentionally or not, in the cities of the east (and the big villages of Egypt) the Romans fomented discord between different elements of the population. In Egypt, this led at once to the ultimately lethal—for the Jews, anyhow—three-way competition between Jews, Greeks, and Egyptians. Even in Asia Minor, normally understood as the best-case scenario for Jews under Roman rule, the evidence indicates that Jewish life in the Roman imperial period was more fragile, constrained, fraught, and impermanent than is often supposed.