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On this page: Peitho – Peithon – Pelagius


PEITHO (Il€i0<rf). 1. The personification of Persuasion (Suada or Suadela among the Romans), was worshipped as a divinity at Sicyon, where she was honoured with a temple in the agora. (Herod, viii. Ill ; Paus. ii. 7. § 7.) Peitho also occurs as a surname of other divinities, such as Aphrodite, whose worship was said to have been introduced at Athens by Theseus, when he united the coun­try communities into towns (Paus. i. 22. § 3), and of Artemis (ii. 21. § 1). At Athens the statues of Peitho and Aphrodite Pandemos stood closely together, and at Megara, too, the statue of Peitho stood in the temple of Aphrodite (Paus. i. 43. § 6), so that the two divinities must be conceived as closely connected, or the one, perhaps, merely as an attribute of the other.

2. One of the Charites. (Paus. ix. 35. § 1 ; Suid. s. v. Xa/nres ; comp. charites.)

3. One of the daughters of Oceanus and Thetis. (Hes. Theog. 349.)

4. The wife of Phoroneus, and the mother of Aegialeus and Apia. (Schol. ad Eurip. Orest. 920.) [L. S.]

PEITHON (UeWtoy). 1. Son of Sosicles, was placed in command at Zariaspa, where there were left several invalids of the horseguard, with a small body of mercenary cavalry. Arrian styles him the governor of the royal household at Zariaspa. When Spitamenes made an irruption into Bactria, and advanced to the neighbourhood of Zariaspa, Peithon, collecting all the soldiers he could muster, made a sally against the enemy, and having surprised them, recovered all the booty that they had taken. He was, however, himself surprised by Spitamenes as he was returning ; most of his men were cut to pieces, and he himself, badly wounded, fell into the hands of the enemy. (Arrian, iv. 16.)

2. Son of Agenor. [See python.] [C.P.M.]

PELAGIUS. Of the origin and early life of this remarkable man we are almost entirely igno­rant. We know not the period of his birth, nor the precise date of his death, nor the place of his nativity, although the epithet Brito applied by his contemporaries has led to the belief that he was an Englishman, nor do we even know his real desig­nation of which Pelagius (Tl€\a.yios} is supposed to be a translation, since the tradition that it was Morgan seems to be altogether uncertain. He first appears in history about the beginning of the fifth century, when we find him residing at Rome, not attached to any coenobitical fraternity, but adher­ing strictly to the most stringent rules of monkish self-restraint. By the purity of his life and by the fervour with which he sought to improve the morals of both clergy and laity, at that epoch sunk in the foulest corruption, he attracted the attention and gained the respect of all who desired that re­ligion should exhibit some better fruits than mere empty professions and lifeless ceremonies, while he dauntlessly disturbed the repose of the supine, and provoked the hostility of the profligate by the energy with which he strove to awaken them to a sense of their danger, and to convince them of their guilt. In the year 409 or 410, when Alaric was threatening the metropolis, Pelagius accompanied by his disciple, friend, and ardent admirer Coeles-tius [CoELESTius] passed over along with many other fugitives to Sicily, from thence proceeded to Africa, where he held personal friendly communi­cation with Augustine, and leaving Coelestius at Carthage, sailed for Palestine. The fame of his sanc-



tity had preceded him, for upon his arrival he was received with great warmth by Jerome, and many other distinguished fathers of the church. Although it must have been evident to every close observer that the speculative views of Pelagius differed widely from those advocated with so much applause by the bishop of Hippo, no one had as yet ventured openly to impugn the orthodoxy of the former. But when Orosius, upon his arrival in the East [orosjus], brought intelligence that the opinions of Coelestius had been formally reprobated by Au-relius and the African Church (a. d. 412), whose condemnation extended to the master from whose instructions these opinions were derived, a great commotion arose throughout Syria, in which Je­rome, instigated probably by Augustine, assumed an attitude of most active, not to say virulent, hos­tility towards Pelagius, who was formally im­peached first before John of Jerusalem, secondly before the Synod of Diospolis (a. d. 415), sum­moned specially to judge this cause, and fully acquitted by both tribunals. Soon afterwards, however, the Synods of Carthage and of Mileum, while they abstained from denouncing any indi­vidual, condemned unequivocally those principles which the followers of Pelagius and Coelestius were supposed to maintain, and at length, after much negotiation, Pope Innocentius was induced to ana­thematize the two leaders of what was now termed a deadly heresy, by a decree issued on the 27th of January, a. d. 417, about six weeks before his death ; and this sentence, although at first reversed, was eventually confirmed by Zosimus [ZosiMUs]. Of the subsequent career of Pelagius nothing has been recorded. Mercator indeed declares that he was brought to trial before a council in Palestine, found guilty, and sentenced to banishment; but this narrative is confirmed by no collateral evidence. So great however was the alarm excited by the progress of the new sect, that an appeal was made to the secular power, in consequence of which an imperial edict was promulgated at Constantinople in 418, threatening all who professed attachment to such errors with exile and confiscation, and the impression thus made was strengthened by the resolutions of a very numerous council, which met at Carthage in the course of the same year.

We need feel no surprise at the profound sensa­tion created by the doctrines usually identified with the name of Pelagius, since unlike many of the frivolous subtleties which from time to time caused agitation and dissension in the Church, they in reality affect the very foundation of all religion, whether natural or revealed. He is represented as denying predestination, original sin, and the neces­sity of internal Divine Grace, and as asserting the absolute freedom of the will and the perfectibility of human nature by the unaided efforts of man himself ; in other words as refusing to acknowledge the transmission of corruption from our first pa­rents, the efficacy of baptism as the seal of rege­neration, the operation of the Holy Spirit as indis­pensable in our progress towards holiness, and the insufficiency of our natural powers to work out salvation. But although the eager and probably ignorant Coelestius may have been hurried head* long forward in the heat of discussion into these or similar extravagant propositions, it is difficult to determine whether Pelagius ever really entertained or intended to inculcate such extreme views. Je­rome and Augustine boldly charge him with co~

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