The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

ORIGENES.

attainments included, according to Jerome (De Vir. Illustr. c. 54) and Gregory Thuamaturgus (Paneg. in Origen. c. 7, 8, 9), ethics, grammar, rhetoric, dialectics or logic, geometry, arithmetic, music, and an acquaintance with the tenets of the various philosophical sects ; to which may be added an acquaintance with the Hebrew language, a rare acquisition among the Christians of those days. It is probable, however, that several of these attainments were made later in life than the time of which we are now speaking. His knowledge of Hebrew was most likely of later date ; from whom he acquired it is not clear. He often quotes (vid. Hieronym. in Rufin. lib. i., Opera, vol. iv. pars ii. col. 363, ed. Benedict, vol. ii. pars i. ed. Vallars.) Huillus, a patriarch of the Jews, of whom nothing appears to be known ; but whether he was Origen's instructor in the Hebrew language is only conjecture. If Origen was, as Porphyry (ap. Euseb. H. E. vi. 19) and Theodoret (Graecar. Affection. Curat. lib. vi. Opera, vol. iv. p. 573, ed. Sirmond. p. 869. ed Schulze) affirm, a hearer of Ammonius Saccas [ammonius saccas], it was probably at a later period, when he attended a lecturer on philosophy, whom he does not name, to gain an acquaintance with the Greek philosophy. (Origen. ap. Euseb. H. E. vi. 19.) Epiphanius (Haeres. Ixiv. 1) says that perhaps he studied at Athens; but it is not likely that he visited that city in early life, though he was there >vhen he travelled into Greece many years afterward.

Within a very short time after he had com­menced teacher of grammar, he was applied to by some heathens who desired instruction in Chris­tianity. The first of those who applied to him were Plutarchus, who suffered martyrdom at Alexandria very shortly after, and his brother Heraclas, who became in the sequel Origen's assistant and successor in the office of Catechist, and afterward bishop of Alexandria. At the time of their application to Origen, the office of Catechist was vacant through the dispersion of the clergy consequent on the persecution ; and Demetrius, the bishop, shortly after appointed Origen, though only in his eighteenth year, to the office. The young teacher showed a zeal and self-denial beyond his years. The persecution was still raging ; but he shrunk not from giving every support and encou­ragement to those who suffered, frequently at the risk of his life. The number of those who resorted to him as Catechist continually increased ; and, deeming his profession as teacher of grammar incon­sistent with his sacred work, he gave it up ; and that he might not, in the failure of this source of income, become dependent on others, he sold all his books of secular literature, and lived for many years on an income of four oboli a day derived from the proceeds of the sale. His course of life was of the most rigorously ascetic character. His food, and his periods of sleep, which he took, not in a bed, but on the bare ground, were restricted within the nar­rowest limits ; and, understanding literally the precepts of the Lord Jesus Christ, not to have two coats and to take no shoes (Matt. x. .10.), he went for many years barefoot, by which and by other austerities he had nearly ruined his health. The same ascetic disposition, and the same tendency to interpret to the letter the injunctions of the Scrip­tures, led him to a strange act of self-mutilation, in obedience to what he regarded as the recommend­ation of Christ. (Matt. xix. 12.) He. was in-

47

ORIGENES.

fluenced to this act also by the consideration of his own youth, and by the circumstance that his catechumens were of both sexes. He wished, however, to conceal what he had done, and ap­pears to have been much confused when it was divulged ; but the bishop Demetrius, respecting his motive, exhorted him to take courage, though he did not hesitate, at a subsequent period, to make it a matter of severe accusation against him. (Euseb. //. E. vi. 3, 8 ; Epiphan. Haeres. Ixiv. 3 ; Hieron. Epist. 65, ed. vett., 41, ed. Benedict, 84, ed. Vallars.) Origen himself (Comment, in Matt. torn. xv. 1) afterwards repudiated this literal under­standing of our Lord's words.

With the death of Severus (a. d. 211), if not before, the persecution (in which Plutarchus and others of Origen's catechumens had perished) ceased ; and Origen, anxiously desiring to become acquainted with the church at Rome, visited the imperial city during the papacy of Zephyrinus, which extended, according to Tillemont, from a. d. 201, or 202, to 218. Tillemont and Ne-ander place this visit in a.d. 211 or 212. He made however a very short stay; and when he returned to Alexandria (Euseb. H. E. vi. 14), find­ing himself unable to discharge alone the duties of Catechist, and to give the attention which he desired to biblical studies, he gave up a part of his catechu­mens (who flocked to him from morning till evening) to the care of his early pupil Heraclas. It was pro­bably about this time that he began to devote him­self to the study of the Hebrew language (Euseb. H. E. vi. 15, 16) ; and also to the study of the Greek philosophy, his eminence in which is ad­mitted by Porphyry (ap. Euseb. H.E.vi. 19), that he might instruct and refute the heretics and heathens, who, attracted by his growing reputation, resorted to him to test his attainments, or to profit by them. Among those who thus resorted to him was one Ambrosius, or Ambrose, a Valentinian, according to Eusebius (H. E. vi. 18) ; a Mar-cionite, or a Sabellian, according to other accounts reported by Epiphanius (Haeres. Ixiv. 3) ; at any rate a dissenter of some kind from the orthodox church ; a man of wealth, rank, and earnestness of character. Origen convinced him of his error ; and Ambrose, grateful for the benefit, became the great supporter of Origen in his biblical labours, de­voting his wealth to his service, and supplying him with more than seven amanuenses to write from his dictation, and as many transcribers to make fair copies of his works. (Euseb. H. E. vi. 23.) About this time he undertook a journey into Petraea, the Roman Arabia, at the request of the governor of that province, who, wishing to confer with him on some matter not specified, had de­spatched an officer with letters to the governor of Egypt and the bishop of Alexandria, requesting Origen might be sent to him. After a short ab­sence on this business, he returned to Alexandria. It was perhaps on this visit that he heard Hippo-lytus preach [hippolytus, No. 1]. After a time he again left Alexandria on account of a serious disturbance which arose there ; and, not deeming himself safe in any part of Egypt, withdrew to Caesareia in Palestine. Huet (Origeniana, lib. i. c. ii. § 6), Tillemont, and others identify the tumult (Eusebius calls it " the war ") which com-pelled Origen to quit Alexandria, with the slaugh­ter of the people of that city by Caracalla. [caka-calla.] If this conjecture is admitted, it enables

Pages
About | First

45

46

47
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.