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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:
Life and Works of Rufinus with Jerome's Apology Against Rufinus.: Preface to Didymus on the Holy Spirit.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

24. The Preface is that for the treatise of Didymus on the Holy Spirit. It is addressed to Paulinianus, and is as follows.

“While I was an inhabitant of Babylon, a settler in the land of the purple harlot, and lived under the law of the Quirites, I attempted to write some poor stuff about the Holy Spirit and dedicated the work to the Pontiff of that city. When on a sudden that pot which Jeremiah saw after the almond rod 2970 began to seethe from the face of the North; and the whole senate of the Pharisees raised a clamour and no mere imaginary scribe but the whole faction of the ignorant as if I had declared war against them, laid their heads together against me. I therefore returned with all speed to Jerusalem, like a man going back to his home, and, after having lived in sight of the cottage of Romulus and the Lupercal 2971 with its naked games, I am now in sight of Mary’s inn and the Saviour’s cave. And so, Paulinianus my dear brother, since the aforenamed Pontiff Damasus, who had impelled me to undertake this work, now sleeps in the Lord, it is here in Judea that I warble the song which I could not sing in a strange land, provoked thereto by you and by Paula and Eustochium those handmaids of Christ whom I revere, and aided by your prayers; for this land which bore the Saviour is more august to me than that which bore the man who slew his brother. 2972 I have in the title ascribed the work to its true authors for I preferred to be known as the translator of another man’s work than to imitate certain people and, like the ungainly jackdaw, deck myself in another bird’s plumage. I read some time ago the treatise of a certain person on the Holy Spirit, and I recognized then, according to the sentence of Terence, 2973 bad things in Latin taken from good things in Greek. There is nothing in it of close reasoning, nothing downright and manly, such as draws us into assent even against our will, but all is flaccid and soft, sleek and pretty, picked out with the rarest colours. But Didymus, 2974 my own Didymus, who has the eyes of the bride in the Song of Songs, those eyes which Jesus bade us lift up upon the whitening fields, looks afar into the depths, and has once more given us cause to call him, as is our wont, the Seer Prophet. Whoever reads the work will recognize the plagiarisms of the Latins, and will despise the derivative streams, as soon as he begins to drink at the fountain head. He is rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; 2975 his very style marks him as one like the apostle as well by the grandeur of the sense as by the simplicity of the words.”



Jer. 1:11, 13


These games took place at Rome each February in honour of Lupercus the god of fertility. Two noble youths, after a sacrifice of goats and dogs, ran almost naked about the city with thongs cut from the skins, a stroke from which was believed to impart fertility to women.


Romulus, the founder of Rome who slew his brother Remus.


Eun. Prol. The sentiment, not the words, are quoted above.


The blind teacher of Alexandria.


2 Cor. xi. 6

Next: Jerome attacks one Christian writer after another.

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