The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Cassianus

622

CASSIANUS.

public. (Comp. Tac. Ann. vi. 15.) The chief family in the time of the republic bears the name of longinus : the other cognomens during that time are hemina, parmensis, ravilla, sabaco, varus, viscellinus. Under the empire, the surnames are very numerous : of these an alpha­betical list is given below. The few persons of this gens mentioned without any cognomen are given under cassius.

CASSIANUS (Kcurffiavts), a Christian writer who was, according to Clemens of Alexandria (ap. ffieron. Catal. Script. Eccles. 38), the author of a chronological work (xpovoypafyia}. He may be the same as the Julius Cassianus from whose work "De Continentia" a fragment is quoted by Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. vi. 13), and is perhaps also no other person than the Cassianus whose first book of a work entitled e^ynrtKa is quoted by Clemens of Alexandria. (Strom. i. p. 138.) [L. S.]

CASSIANUS, otherwise called JOANNES MASSILIENSIS and JOANNES EREMITA, is celebrated in the history of the Christian church as the champion of Semipelagianism, as one of the first founders of monastic fraternities in Western Europe, and as the great lawgiver by whose codes such societies were long regulated. The date of his birth cannot be determined -with certainty, al­though a. D. 360 must be a close approximation, and the place is still more doubtful. Some have fixed upon the shores of the Euxine, others upon Syria, others upon the South of France, and all alike appeal for confirmation of their views to par­ticular expressions in his works, and to the general character of his phraseology. "Without pretending to decide the question, it seems on the whole most probable that he was a native of the East. At a very early age he became an inmate of the monas­tery of Bethlehem, where he received the first elements of religious instruction, and formed with a monk named Germanus an intimacy which exercised a powerful influence over his future career. In the year 390, accompanied by his friend, he travelled into Egypt, and after having passed seven years among the Ascetics who swarmed in the deserts near the Nile, conforming to all their habits and practising all their austerities, he re­turned for a short period to Bethlehem, but very soon again retired to consort with the eremites of the Thebai'd. In 403 he repaired to Constantino­ple, attracted by the fame of Chrysostom, and received ordination as deacon from his hands. When that great prelate was driven by persecution from his see, Cassianus and Germanus were em­ployed by the friends of the patriarch to lay a statement of the case before Pope Innocent I., and since Pelagius is known to have been at Rome about this period, it is highly probable that some personal intercourse may have taken place between him and his future opponent. From this time there is a blank in the history of Cassianus until the year 415, when we find him established as a presbyter at Marseilles, where he. passed the re­mainder of his life in godly labours, having founded a convent for nuns and the celebrated abbey of St. Victor, which while.under his controul Is said to have numbered five thousand inmates. These two establishments long preserved a high reputation, and served as models for many similar institutions in Gaul and Spain. The exact year of his death is not known, but the event must be placed after 433, at least the chronicle of Prosper

CASSIANUS.

represents him as being alive at that epoch. He was eventually canonized as a saint, and a great religious festival used to be celebrated in honour of him at Marseilles on the 25th of July. The writings of Cassianus now extant are—

1. " De Institutis Coenobiorum Libri XII.," composed before the year 418 at the request of Castor [castor], bishop of Apt, who was desirous of obtaining accurate information with regard to the rules by which the cloisters in the East were go­verned. This work is divided into two distinct parts. The first four books relate exclusively to the mode of life, discipline, and method of perform­ing sacred offices, pursued in various monasteries ; the remainder contain a series of discourses upon the eight great sins into which mankind in general and monks in particular are especially liable to fall, such as gluttony, pride, passion, and the like. Hence Photius (Cod. cxcvii.) quotes these two sec­tions as two separate treatises, and this arrange­ment appears to have been adopted to a certain extent by the author himself. (See Praef. Collatt. and Collat. xx. 1.) The subdivision of the first part into two, proposed by Gennadius, is unneces­sary and perplexing.

2. " Collationes Patrum XXIV.," twenty-four sacred dialogues between Cassianus, Germanus, and Egyptian monks, in which are developed the spirit and object of the monastic life, the end sought by the external observances previously de­scribed. They were composed at different periods between 419 and 427. The first ten are inscribed to Leontius, bishop of Frejus, and to Helladius, abbot of St. Castor, the following seven to Hono-ratus, afterwards bishop of Aries, the last seven to Jovinianus, Minervius, and other monks. In the course of these conversations, especially in the 13th, we find an exposition of the peculiar views of Cas­sianus on certain points of dogmatic theology, con­nected more especially with original sin, predesti­nation, free-will, and grace, constituting the system which has been termed Semipelagianism because it steered a middle course between the extreme posi­tions occupied by St. Augustin and Pelagius; for while the former maintained, that man was by nature utterly corrupt and incapable of emerging from his lost state by any efforts of his own, the latter held, that the new-born infant was in the state of Adam before the fall, hence morally pure and capable in himself of selecting between virtue and vice ; while Cassianus, rejecting the views of both, asserted, that the natural man was neither morally dead nor morally sound, but morally sick, and therefore stood in need of medical aid, that aid being the Grace of God. Moreover, according to his doctrine, it is necessary for man of his own free will to seek this aid in order to be made whole, but at the same time the free-will of man cannot set limits to the Grace of God which may be exerted on behalf of those who seek it not, as in the case of the Apostle Paul and others. Cas­sianus certainly rejected absolute predestination and the limitation of justification to the elect, but his ideas upon these topics are not very clearly ex­pressed. Those who desire full information with regard to Semipelagian tenets will find them fully developed in the works enumerated at the end of this article.

3. " De Incarnatione Christi Libri VII.," a con­troversial tract in confutation of the Nestorian heresy, drawn up about 430 at the request of Leo,

Pages
About | First

621

622

623
letter/word  
volume
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.