Chapter XXV.—Of Didymus the Blind Man. 638
About the same period God brought into observation another faithful person, deeming it worthy that through him faith might be witnessed unto: this was Didymus, a most admirable and eloquent man, instructed in all the learning of the age in which he flourished. At a very early age, when he had scarcely acquired the first elements of learning, he was attacked by disease in the eyes which deprived him of sight. But God compensated to him the loss of corporeal vision, by bestowing increased intellectual acumen. For what he could not learn by seeing, he was enabled to acquire through the sense of hearing; so that being from his childhood endowed with excellent abilities, he soon far surpassed his youthful companions who possessed the keenest sight. He made himself master of the principles of grammar and rhetoric with astonishing facility; and proceeded thence to philosophical studies, dialectics, arithmetic, music, and the various other departments of knowledge to which his attention was directed; and he so treasured up in his mind these branches of science, that he was prepared with the utmost readiness to enter into a discussion of these subjects with those who had become conversant therewith by reading books. Not only this, but he was so well acquainted with the Divine oracles contained in the Old and New Testament that he composed several treatises in exposition of them, besides three books on the Trinity. He published also commentaries 639 on Origens book Of Principles, in which he commends these writings, saying that they are excellent, and that those who calumniate their author, and speak slightingly of his works, are mere cavilers. For, says he, they are destitute of sufficient penetration to comprehend the profound wisdom of that extraordinary man. Those who may desire to form a just idea of the extensive erudition of Didymus, and the intense ardor of his mind, must peruse with attention his diversified and elaborate works. It is said that after Anthony had conversed for some time with this Didymus, long before the reign of Valens, when he came from the desert to Alexandria on account of the Arians, perceiving the learning and intelligence of the man, he said to him, Didymus, let not the loss of your bodily eyes distress you: for you are deprived of such eyes merely as are the common possession of gnats and flies; rather rejoice that you have eyes such as angels see with, by which the Deity himself is discerned, and his light comprehended. This address of the pious Anthony to Didymus was made long before the times we are describing: in fact Didymus was then regarded as the great bulwark of the true faith, answering the Arians, whose sophistic cavilings he fully exposed, triumphantly refuting all their vain subtleties and deceptive reasonings.
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