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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:
Jerome and Gennadius. Lives of Illustrious Men.: Preface.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

p. 359

II. Jerome.

Lives of Illustrious Men.



You have urged me, Dexter, 2320 to follow the example of Tranquillus 2321 in giving a systematic account of ecclesiastical writers, and to do for our writers what he did for the illustrious men of letters among the Gentiles, namely, to briefly set before you all those who have published 2322 any memorable writing on the Holy Scriptures, from the time of our Lord’s passion until the fourteenth year of the Emperor Theodosius. 2323 A similar work has been done by Hermippus 2324 the peripatetic, Antigonus Carystius, 2325 the learned Satyrus, 2326 and most learned of all, Aristoxenus the Musician, 2327 among the Greeks, and among the Latins by Varro, 2328 Santra, 2329 Nepos, 2330 Hyginus, 2331 and by him through whose example you seek to stimulate 2332 us,—Tranquillus.

But their situation and mine is not the same, for they, opening the old histories and chronicles could as if gathering from some great meadow, weave some 2333 small crown at least for their work. As for me, what shall I do, who, having no predecessor, have, as the saying is, the worst possible master, namely myself, and yet I must acknowledge that Eusebius Pamphilus in the ten books of his Church History has been of the utmost assistance, and the works of various among those of whom we are to write, often testify to the dates of their authors. And so I pray the Lord Jesus, 2334 that what your Cicero, who stood at the summit of Roman eloquence, did not scorn to do, compiling in his Brutus, a catalogue of Latin orators, this I too may accomplish in the enumeration of ecclesiastical writers, and accomplish in a fashion worthy of the exhortation which you made. But if, perchance any of those who are yet writing have been overlooked by me in this volume, they ought to ascribe it to themselves, rather than to me, for among those whom I have not read, I could not, in the first place, know those who concealed their own writings, and, in the second place, what is perhaps well known to others, would be quite unknown to me in this out of the way corner of the earth. 2335 But surely when they are distinguished by their writings, they will not very greatly grieve over any loss in our non-mention of them. Let Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian learn, rabid as they are against Christ, let their followers, they who think the church has had no philosophers or orators or men of learning, learn how many and what sort of men founded, built and adorned it, and cease to accuse our faith of such rustic simplicity, and recognize rather their own ignorance.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, farewell. 2336



Dexter. Compare chapters 132 and 106.


Tranquillus. C. Suetonius Tranquillus (about a.d. 100). De illustribus grammaticis; De claris rhetoribus.


Published or handed down “Prodiderunt.” Some mss. read “tradiderunt,” and Jerome usually employs “Edo” for publish.


Fourteenth year of the Emperor Theodosius. a.d. 492.


Hermippus of Smyrna. (3rd century b.c.) Lives of distinguished men.


Antigonus. Antigonus of Carystus (Reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus?).


Satyrus. A Peripatetic (Reign of Ptolemy Philopator) “wrote a collection of biographies.”


Aristoxenus the musician. A Peripatetic, pupil of Aristotle, wrote lives of various Philosophers.


Varro. M. Terentius Varro the “most learned of the Romans” (died b.c. 28) published among other things a series of “portraits of seven hundred remarkable personages” (Ramsay in Smith’s Dictionary).


Santra. Santra the Grammarian?


Nepos. Cornelius Nepos friend of Cicero wrote Lives of Illustrious men.


Hyginus. Caius Julius Hyginus, freedman of Augustus and friend of Ovid.


Seek to stimulate 30 31 a [H e 21] and the mass of mss. also Fabricius; stimulate. A.T. Migne. Her.


SomeA H 25 31 e 21. Fabricius; No T a? Migne Her.


The Lord Jesus A H T 25 31 e; The Lord Jesus Christ a; Our Lord Jesus Christ Bamb. Bern; My Lord Jesus Christ Norimb.


Out of the way corner of the earth i.e., Bethlehem.


In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ farewell T 25 31 a 21; do. omitting Christ A; omit all H e.

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