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History (4)

Historic figures

Dionysius of Areopagus or Areiopageita

   A Christian writer, called Areopagita, from his having been a member of the court of Areopagus at Athens. He was converted to Christianity by St. Paul's preaching . He is reported to have been the first bishop of Athens, being appointed to that office by the apostle Paul, and to have suffered martyrdom under Domitian. His fundamental thought is the absolute transcendence of God. During the Middle Ages a great number of writings were circulated under his name, and were collected together and printed at Cologne in 1536, and subsequently at Antwerp in 1634 and at Paris in 1646. They have now, for a long time, been deemed spurious, although scholars differ in respect to the times and authors of the fabrication. The most probable reasoning, however, fixes them at the end of the fourth century. The standard text is that of Corderius, reprinted by the Abbe Migne. Trans. by Parker (1894).

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Ephialtes

   An Athenian statesman, a friend and partisan of Pericles, whom he assisted in carrying his political measures. He was instrumental in abridging the powers of the Areopagus--a measure assailed by Aeschylus in his Eumenides. Ephialtes thus made himself so obnoxious to the aristocratic party that his enemies had him assassinated, probably in the year B.C. 456.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Dionysius, Surnamed Areopageita, an Athenian, who is called by Suidas a most eminent man, who rose to the height of Greek erudition. He is said to have first studied at Athens, and afterwards at Heliopolis in Egypt. When he observed in Egypt the eclipse of the sun, which occurred during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, he is said to have exclaimed, "either God himself is suffering, or he sympathises with some one who is suffering". On his return to Athens he was made one of the council of the Areiopagus, whence he derives his surname. About A. D. 50, when St. Paul preached at Athens, Dionysius became a Christian (The Acts, xvii. 34), and it is said that he was not only the first bishop of Athens, but that he was installed in that office by St. Paul himself (Euseb. H. E. iii. 4, iv. 23; Suidas). He is further said to have died the death of a martyr under most cruel tortures. Whether Dionysius Areiopageita ever wrote anything, is highly uncertain; but there exists under his name a number of works of a mystico-Christian nature, which contain ample evidence that they are the productions of some Neo-Platonist, and can scarcely have been written before the fifth or sixth century of our era. Without entering upon any detail about those works, which would be out of place here, we need only remark, that they exercised a very great influence upon the formation and development of Christianity in the middle ages. At the time of the Carlovingian emperors, those works were introduced into western Europe in a Latin translation made by Scotus Erigena, and gave the first impulse to that mystic and scholastic theology which afterwards maintained itself for centuries.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited June 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Ephialtes. An Athenian statesman and general, son of Sophonides, or, according to Diodorus, of Simonides, was a friend and partizan of Pericles, who is said by Plutarch to have often put him forward as the main ostensible agent in carrying political measures when he did not choose to appear prominently himself (Ael. V. H. ii. 43, iii. 17; Plut. Peric. 7; Diod. xi. 77). Thus, when the Spartans sent to ask the assistance of the Athenians against Ithome in B. C. 461, he endeavoured to prevent the people from granting the request, urging them not to raise a fallen rival, but to leave the spirit of Sparta to be trodden down; and we find him mentioned in particular as chiefly instrumental in that abridgment of the power of the Areiopagus, which inflicted such a blow on the oligarchical party, and against which the "Eumenides" of Aeschylus was directed (Arist. Polit. ii. 12; Diod. l. c.; Plut. Cim. 10, 15, 16, Pericl. 7, 9; Cic. de Rep. i. 27). By this measure Plutarch tells us that he introduced an unmixed democracy, and made the city drunk with liberty; but he does not state clearly the precise powers of which the Areiopagus was deprived, nor is it easy to decide this point, or to settle whether it was the authority of the court or the council that Pericles and Ephialtes assailed. The services of Ephialtes to the democratic cause excited the rancorous enmity of some of the oligarchs, and led to his assassination during the night, probably in B. C. 456. It appears that in the time of Antiphon (see de Caed. Her.) the murderers had not been discovered; but we learn, on the authority of Aristotle (ap. Plut. Pericl. 10), that the deed was perpetrated by one Aristodicus of Tanagra. The character of Ephialtes, as given by ancient writers, is a high land honourable one, insomuch that he is even classed with Aristeides for his inflexible integrity. Heracleides Ponticus tells us that he was in the habit of throwing open his grounds to the people, and giving entertainments to large numbers of them, a statement which seems inconsistent with Aelian's account, possibly more rhetorical than true, of his poverty. (Plut. Cim. 10, Dem. 14; Ael. V. H. ii. 43, xi. 9, xiii. 39; Val. Max. iii. 8. Ext. 4; Heracl. Pont. 1.)

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited July 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


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