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Boniface I

(2,237 words)

Author(s): Dunn, Geoffrey D.
Boniface I (d. Sep 4, 422 CE) was bishop of Rome from December 418 to 422 CE. He succeeded Zosimus (417–418 CE) and was the son of the presbyter Iocundus according to Liber pontificalis. Boniface had been a presbyter under Innocent I and had been in Constantinople around 414 CE in the aftermath of the second exile of its bishop, John Chrysostom, in 404 CE. He might have been there to negotiate a reconciliation between Atticus, now bishop in Constantinople, and Rome, which had been broken as a result of John’s exile. We have a letter from Innocent to Boniface (Inn. Ep. 23 – Ecclesia Antiochena) info…
Date: 2020-09-21

Atticus

(1,370 words)

Author(s): Dunn, Geoffrey D.
Socrates Scholasticus informs us that Atticus came from Sivas (ancient Sebastea in the province of Armenia Prima in the civil diocese of Pontus) on the Kızılırmak (also called Halys) River. He had been ascetical from a young age, and Socrates remarks on his learning and prudence (Socr. Hist. eccl. 6.20). As a bishop, Atticus was known for effective pastoral leadership (flourishing churches, a balanced treatment of heretics in that he could be both harsh and clemeent, and his ease in the company of others), his dedication to study so as to be…
Date: 2020-09-21

Zosimus (Bishop of Rome)

(1,945 words)

Author(s): Dunn, Geoffrey D.
Zosimus (d. Dec 26, 418 CE) was bishop of Rome from March 417 to December 418 CE. He succeeded Innocent I (402–417 CE). In his brief episcopate, Zosimus seems to undone much of his predecessor’s legacy and to have antagonized many as he followed a self-aggrandizing path asserting unprecedented claims for his authority as Roman bishop. Liber pontificalis records that he was Greek and that his father was named Abraham. This may suggest some Jewish heritage.Zosimus and GaulHis election took place on Mar 18. Four days later, on Mar 22, he wrote his first surviving letter (Zosi. Ep. 1 – Placuit apo…
Date: 2020-09-21

Siricius

(1,680 words)

Author(s): Dunn, Geoffrey D.
Siricius (d. Nov 26, 399 CE) was bishop of Rome from December 384 to November 399 CE. He had been a lector and a deacon under Liberius (352–366 CE) and Damasus (366–384 CE; Ferrua, 1985, no. 24832) and succeeded Damasus. Since Damasus’ episcopal rival, Ursinus, was still alive, the danger of another disputed election could have arisen. However, a letter composed in early 385 CE from Valentinian II (375–392 CE) to Pinianus (whose official position is not mentioned) praises the Roman people for ha…
Date: 2020-09-21

Cyprian of Carthage

(5,923 words)

Author(s): Dunn, Geoffrey D.
Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus (Cyprian; d. Sep 14, 258 CE) was bishop of Carthage in the mid-3rd century CE for approximately ten years until his martyrdom during the persecution of Emperor Valerian (253–260 CE). His extensive but by no means complete preserved letter collection, containing over 80 letters written by or to him, as well as the 13 treatises generally attributed to him, make Africa in the 250s CE the best-documented decade in all of pre-Nicene Christianity. The fact that we have also the interventions ( sententiae) of bishops at the episcopal synod of September 256 …
Date: 2020-09-21

Galla Placidia

(3,060 words)

Author(s): Dunn, Geoffrey D.
The sole surviving child of Theodosius I (379–395 CE) and his second wife, Flavia Galla, Galla Placidia was, through her maternal line, a member of the Valentinian dynasty, since Flavia Galla was the daughter of Valentinian I (364–375 CE), niece of Valens (364–378 CE), sister of Valentinian II (375–392 CE), and half-sister of Gratian (367–383 CE), through whose wife Placidia was distantly connected with the Constantinian dynasty. This gave her a more impressive lineage than her two half-brothers…
Date: 2020-09-21

Decius

(2,725 words)

Author(s): Dunn, Geoffrey D.
Gaius Messius Quintus Decius Valerinus (d. 251 CE) became emperor in October 249 CE after defeating his predecessor Philip the Arab (244–249 CE) at Verona, taking the name Gaius Messius Quintus Traianus Decius. Throughout his brief reign, the empire faced foreign incursions from the Goths and the Carpi in the Balkans, and Decius spent nearly all of his time as emperor back in the region of his birth defending the frontier and trying to repel the invaders. It was in the Balkans in the middle of 251 CE that Decius died fighting the Goths under Kniva.The 50 years between the death of Alexand…
Date: 2020-09-21

Innocent I

(2,837 words)

Author(s): Dunn, Geoffrey D.
Innocent I (d. Mar 12, 417 CE) was bishop of Rome from December 402 CE until his death. (Green, 1973, accepts the dating of Prosper of Aquitaine’s Chronicon over Liber pontificalis, which suggests 401 CE, only having to adjust the length of his episcopate from 15 to 14 years, plus the two months and 21 days). While Jerome (Jer. Ep. 130.16) mentions Innocent as the son of his predecessor Anastasius I (399–402 CE), Liber pontificalis has him as son of another Innocent. I have argued (Dunn, 2007b) that Jerome was speaking in flattering language to Demetrias, a member of …
Date: 2020-09-21