De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Men) is a collection of short biographies of 135 authors, written in Latin, by the 4th-century Latin Church Father Jerome. He completed this work at Bethlehem in 392-3 AD.The work consists of a prologue plus 135 chapters, each consisting of a brief biography. Jerome himself is the subject of the final chapter. A Greek version of the book, possibly by the same Sophronius who is the subject of Chapter 134, also survives. Many biographies take as their subject figures important in Christian Church history and pay especial attention to their careers as writers. It "was written as an apologetic work to prove that the Church had produced learned men." The book was dedicated to Flavius Lucius Dexter, who served as high chamberlain to Theodosius I and as praetorian prefect to Honorius. Dexter was the son of Saint Pacianus, who is eulogized in the work.
Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.
Jerome was a Latin Catholic priest, confessor, theologian, and historian, commonly known as Saint Jerome. He was born at Stridon, a village near Emona on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia. He is best known for his translation of most of the Bible into Latin, and his commentaries on the Gospels. His list of writings is extensive.
Bethlehem is a city located in the central West Bank, Palestine, about 10 km south of Jerusalem. Its population is approximately 25,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate. The economy is primarily tourist-driven, peaking during the Christmas season, when Christians make pilgrimage to the Church of the Nativity. Rachel's Tomb, an important Jewish holy site, is located at the northern entrance of Bethlehem.
Listed below are the subjects of Jerome's 135 biographies. The numbers given are the chapter numbers found in editions.
Saint Peter, also known as Simon Peter, Simeon, Simon, Sham'un al-Safa, Cephas, or Peter the Apostle, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, and the first leader of the early Church.
James the Just, or a variation of James, brother of the Lord, was the brother of Jesus, according to the New Testament. He was an early leader of the Jerusalem Church of the Apostolic Age, to which Paul was also affiliated. He died in martyrdom in 62 or 69 AD.
Matthew the Apostle, also known as Saint Matthew and as Levi, was, according to the New Testament, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. According to Christian tradition, he was also one of the four Evangelists and thus is also known as Matthew the Evangelist.
Irenaeus was a Greek bishop noted for his role in guiding and expanding Christian communities in what is now the south of France and, more widely, for the development of Christian theology by combating heresy and defining orthodoxy. Originating from Smyrna, now Izmir in Turkey, he had seen and heard the preaching of Polycarp, the last known living connection with the Apostles, who in turn was said to have heard John the Evangelist.
Saint Pantaenus the Philosopher was a Greek theologian and a significant figure in the Catechetical School of Alexandria from around AD 180. This school was the earliest catechetical school, and became influential in the development of Christian theology.
Rhodo was a Christian writer who flourished in the time of the Roman emperor Commodus (180-92); he was a native of the province of Asia Minor who came to Rome where he was a pupil of Tatian.
Saint Dionysius of Alexandria, named "the Great," 14th Pope of Alexandria & Patriarch of the See of St. Mark from 28 December 248 until his death on 22 March 264, after seventeen years as a bishop. Most known information about him comes from Dionysius' large surviving correspondence. Only one original letter survives to this day; the remaining letters are excerpted in the works of Eusebius.
Malchion, a Church Father and presbyter of Antioch during the reigns of Emperors Claudius II and Aurelian, was a well-known rhetorician most notable for his key role in the 272 deposition of the heretical bishop of Antioch, Paul of Samosata. He was very familiar with and frequently quoted pagan authors. and was president of the faculty of rhetoric while presbyter of Antioch. He forced Paul to reveal his beliefs and wrote a letter calling him a heretic and criminal to the bishops of Rome and Alexandria. St. Jerome, a Great Western Doctor of the Catholic Church, dedicates chapter 71 of his biographical tome On Illustrious Men to Malchion.
Saint Victorinus of Pettau or of Poetovio was an Early Christian ecclesiastical writer who flourished about 270, and who was martyred during the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian. A Bishop of Poetovio in Pannonia, Victorinus is also known as Victorinus Petavionensis, Poetovionensis or Victorinus of Ptuj.
Pope Damasus I was Bishop of Rome, from October 366 to his death in 384. He presided over the Council of Rome of 382 that determined the canon or official list of Sacred Scripture. He spoke out against major heresies in the church and encouraged production of the Vulgate Bible with his support for St. Jerome. He helped reconcile the relations between the Church of Rome and the Church of Antioch, and encouraged the veneration of martyrs.
Apollinaris the Younger, also known as Apollinaris of Laodicea, was a bishop of Laodicea in Syria. He is best known, however, as a noted opponent of Arianism. Apollinaris's eagerness to emphasize the deity of Jesus and the unity of his person led him so far as to deny the existence of a rational human soul in Christ's human nature. This view came to be called Apollinarism. It was condemned by the First Council of Constantinople in 381.
Gregory Bæticus was bishop of Elvira, in the province of Baetica, Spain, from which he derived his surname.
At the conclusion of De Viris Illustribus, Jerome provided his own biography as the latest example of the scholarly work of Christians. In Chapter 135, Jerome summarized his career to date:
|“||I, Jerome, son of Eusebius, of the city of Strido, which is on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia and was overthrown by the Goths, up to the present year, that is, the fourteenth of the Emperor Theodosius, have written the following: Life of Paul the monk, one book of Letters to different persons, an Exhortation to Heliodorus, Controversy of Luciferianus and Orthodoxus, Chronicle of universal history, 28 homilies of Origen on Jeremiah and Ezekiel, which I translated from Greek into Latin, On the Seraphim, On Osanna, On the Prudent and the Prodigal Sons, On Three Questions of the Ancient Law, Homilies on the Song of Songs two, Against Helvidius, On the perpetual virginity of Mary, To Eustochius, On Maintaining Virginity, one book of Epistles to Marcella, a consolatory letter to Paula On the Death of a Daughter, three books of Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, likewise three books of Commentaries on the Epistle to the Ephesians, On the Epistle to Titus one book, On the Epistle to Philemon one, Commentaries on Ecclesiastes, one book of Hebrew questions on Genesis, one book On places in Judea, one book of Hebrew names, Didymus on the Holy Spirit, which I translated into Latin one book, 39 homilies on Luke, On Psalms 10 to 16, seven books, On the captive Monk, The Life of the blessed Hilarion. I translated the New Testament from the Greek, and the Old Testament from the Hebrew, and how many Letters I have written To Paula and Eustochium I do not know, for I write daily. I wrote moreover, two books of Explanations on Micah, one book On Nahum, two books On Habakkuk, one On Zephaniah, one On Haggai, and many others On the prophets, which are not yet finished, and which I am still at work upon.||”|
Marcus Minucius Felix was one of the earliest of the Latin apologists for Christianity. He was of Berber origin.
Simon the Zealot or Simon the Cananite or Simon the Cananaean was one of the most obscure among the apostles of Jesus. A few pseudepigraphical writings were connected to him, but Saint Jerome does not include him in De viris illustribus written between 392–393 AD.
Symmachus translated the Old Testament into Greek. His translation was included by Origen in his Hexapla and Tetrapla, which compared various versions of the Old Testament side by side with the Septuagint. Some fragments of Symmachus's version that survive, in what remains of the Hexapla, inspire scholars to remark on the purity and idiomatic elegance of Symmachus' Greek. He was admired by Jerome, who used his work in composing the Vulgate.
Gennadius of Massilia, also known as Gennadius Scholasticus or Gennadius Massiliensis, was a 5th-century Christian priest and historian.
John the Presbyter was an obscure figure of the early Church who is either distinguished from or identified with the Apostle John and/or John of Patmos. He appears in fragments from the church father Papias of Hierapolis as one of the author's sources and is first unequivocally distinguished from the Apostle by Eusebius of Caesarea. He is frequently proposed by some as an alternative author of some of the Johannine books in the New Testament, although no clear evidence have ever been produced to prove this theory.
De viris illustribus, meaning "On Illustrious / Famous Men", represents a trope of ancient Roman exemplary literature that was revived during the Italian Renaissance and inspired the assembly or commissioning of series of portraits of outstanding men with a high didactic purpose.
Saint Reticius was a bishop of Autun, the first one known to history, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia. He was a Gallo-Roman, and an ecclesiastical writer, and served as bishop of this see from around 310 to 334 AD.
Audentius was bishop of Toledo (Hispania), according to tradition in the years 385-395 AD. In the Catholic Encyclopedia (1912), the Count of Cedillo places his episcopate around the year 376. In the 17th century, William Cave supposed him to have lived about 260 AD.
Orsisius was an Egyptian monk and author of the fourth century. His memorial is June 15.
Africa is an epic poem in Latin hexameters by the 14th-century Italian poet Petrarch. It tells the story of the Second Punic War, in which the Carthaginian general Hannibal invaded Italy, but Roman forces were eventually victorious after an invasion of north Africa led by Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, the epic poem's hero.
De viris illustribus is an unfinished collection of biographies, written in Latin, by the 14th century Italian author Francesco Petrarca. These biographies are a set of Lives similar in idea to Plutarch's Parallel Lives. The works were unfinished. However he was famous enough for these and other works to receive two invitations to be crowned poet laureate. He received these invitations on exactly the same day, April 8, 1341, one being from the Paris University and the other from the Roman Senate. He accepted the Roman invitation.
Saint Pacian (Pacianus) was a bishop of Barcelona during the fourth century. He was bishop from about 365 AD to 391 AD, succeeding Praetextatus (Pretextat), who had attended a church council at Sardica in 347 AD and who is the first recorded bishop of Barcelona.
Flavius Lucius Dexter was a figure of the late fourth century, reported as a historian, and a friend of St Jerome. He was the son of St Pacian, an imperial office-holder, and dedicatee of a work of Jerome, the De Viris Illustribus.
Saint Thraseas was a martyr under the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Prior to his death he served as Bishop of Eumenia, Phrygia, in Asia Minor.
Ebion was the presumed eponymous founder of an early Christian group known as the Ebionites. The existent historical evidence indicates that the name "Ebionite" is derived from a Hebrew word, "ebion" (אביון) meaning "poor" and thus not from someone's name. Ebion is generally seen today as a purely literary figure, whose reputed existence in antiquity was used to explain where the Ebionites got their inspiration. However, once he had been accepted as real, a small tradition developed around him that lasted in early learned Christian circles for a few centuries.
Evagrius of Antioch was a claimant to the See of Antioch from 388 to 392. He succeeded Paulinus and had the support of the Eustathian party, and was a rival to Flavian during the so-called Meletian schism.
De Viris Illustribus, meaning "On Illustrious Men", is a literary genre found in ancient Roman and Renaissance literature.
Claudius Marius Victorius was a rhetor of the fifth century CE from Marseille. He is known for a Latin poem on Genesis in hexameters and a letter to the abbot Salomon against the moral degradation of his age.
Archelaus was the bishop of Carrhae.
Phoebadius of Agen was a Catholic bishop of the fourth century. At the Council of Ariminum in 359 and other councils, he was a supporter of Nicaean orthodoxy. He wrote several works, including a treatise against the Arians which still survives.
The Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition (1910–11), is a 29-volume reference work, an edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. It was developed during the encyclopaedia's transition from a British to an American publication. Some of its articles were written by the best-known scholars of the time. This edition of the encyclopaedia, containing 40,000 entries, is now in the public domain, and many of its articles have been used as a basis for articles in Wikipedia. However, the outdated nature of some of its content makes its use as a source for modern scholarship problematic. Some articles have special value and interest to modern scholars as cultural artifacts of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
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