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Evagrius Ponticus

Important ascetical writer of the fourth century. b. about 345, d. 399

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Evagrius, surnamed PONTICUS, b. about 345, in Ibora, a small town on the shores of the Black Sea; d. 399. He is numbered among the more important ascetical writers of the fourth century. Instructed by St. Gregory Nazianzen, he was ordained reader by St. Basil the Great and deacon by St. Gregory of Nyssa (380), whom he accompanied to the Second Council of Constantinople (381). According to Palladius, who differs in his account from Socrates and Sozomen, Evagrius remained for a time as archdeacon in Constantinople, while Nectarius was patriarch (381-397). Leaving the city on account of its spiritual dangers, he went first to Jerusalem and then into the Nitrian Desert, where he began an eremitical life under the guidance of the younger Macarius (383). He steadfastly refused a bishopric offered by Theophilus of Alexandria. He became very celebrated for his ascetical life and writings, though St. Jerome (e.g. Ep. 133 ad Ctesiphontem, n. 3) charges him with Origenistic errors and calls him the precursor of Pelagius. The Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Oecumenical Councils condemn Evagrius together with Origen. Rufinus and Gennadius translated the works of Evagrius into Latin; several of them have been lost or have not thus far been recovered (P.L., XL). The best collections of his works are edited by Bigot (Paris, 1680); Gallandi, “Biblioth. vet. patr.”, VII, 551-581; Migne, “P.G.”, XL; cf. also Elter, “Gnomica” (Leipzig, 1892); Zockler, “Evagrius Pontikus” (Munich, 1893). We may here name: “Monachus seu de vita activa”; “Rerum monachalium rationes earumque juxta quietem adpositio”; “De octo vitiosis cogitationibus”.

A. J. MAAS


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