Definitions

Athanasius

Athanasius

[ath-uh-ney-shuhs]
Athanasius, Saint, c.297-373, patriarch of Alexandria (328-73), Doctor of the Church, great champion of orthodoxy during the Arian crisis of the 4th cent. (see Arianism). In his youth, as secretary to Bishop Alexander, he took part in the christological debate against Arius at the Council of Nicaea (see Nicaea, First Council of), and thereafter became chief protagonist for Nicene orthodoxy in the long struggle for its acceptance in the East. He defended the homoousion formula that states that Jesus is of the same substance as the Father, against the various Arian parties who held that Jesus was not identical in substance with the Father. Made bishop of Alexandria upon the death of his superior, he faced a conspiracy led by Eusebius of Nicomedia to return the condemned Arius to Egypt. When Athanasius refused to yield, a pro-Arian council held at Tyre (335) found him guilty of sacrilege, the practice of magic, dishonest grain dealings, and even murder. Athanasius appealed to Constantine who demanded a retrial, then unaccountably ordered Athanasius into exile—the first of five. Reinstated (337) and exiled again (339), he fled to the West where, under Pope Julius I, the Council of Sardica vindicated him (343). To placate his Catholic brother Constans, the Arian Constantius permitted Athanasius to return to his see in 346. There he reigned, a beloved pastor, for ten fruitful years, strengthening orthodoxy in Egypt and composing some of his greatest works, including his Defense Against the Arians (348). When Constans died, Constantius procured the condemnation of Athanasius (Arles, 357), again forcing him into exile. It was during this period of hiding with the hermit monks of the Egyptian desert, whom he admired greatly, that he wrote his best exposition of Nicene christology, Discourses Against the Arians, attacking both the Arians and the views of Marcellus of Ancyra. By now a conservative reaction in the East issued in the strongly anti-Arian Lucianic creed promulgated at the Council of Seleucia (359), a step which led to the final victory of Nicene orthodoxy at the Council of Constantinople in 381. Athanasius was restored briefly in 362, only to be quickly exiled by Julian and again by Valens (365). The climate was changing, however, and by 366 Athanasius was secure in his see, where he remained the spokesman for orthodoxy until his death. After him, St. Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory Nazianzus secured the victory of orthodoxy in the East. Feast: May 2.

See translation of Contra Gentes and De Incarnatione by R. W. Thomson (1974); translation of Life of Saint Antony and Letter to Marcellinus by R. C. Gregg (1980).

Kircher, Athanasius, 1601?-1680, German Jesuit archaeologist, mathematician, biologist, philologist, astronomer, musicologist, and physicist. One of the world's great polymaths, he knew Hebrew, Aramaic, Coptic, Persian, Latin, and Greek as well as various modern languages. Kircher was interested in all branches of science, especially in subterranean phenomena (volcanic forces in particular), in the deciphering of hieroglyphics (albeit incorrectly), the chronologgy of ancient Egyptian dynasties, and in linguistic relations. He also aided Bernini in the erection of an Egyptian obelisk in Rome's Piazza Navona and in the construction of his fountain. Kircher's frequently playful inventions included an early slide projector, a talking and eavesdropping statue that employed a primitive intercom, a chamber of mirrors, and a vomiting machine.

At first a professor of ethics and mathematics at the Univ. of Würzburg, he later became a (1635) professor of physics, mathematics, and Oriental languages at the College of Rome, resigning in 1643 to devote himself to archaeological research. His studies with the microscope led him to the belief, which he was possibly the first to hold, that disease and putrefaction were caused by the presence of invisible living bodies. He also perfected the aeolian harp and wrote a noted book on musicology. His remarkable collection of antiquities became the nucleus of the Museum Kircherianum of the College of Rome. His writings fill 44 folio volumes and include an autobiography.

See studies by P. C. Reilly (1974) and J. Godwin (1979).

(born 293, Alexandria, Egypt—died May 2, 373, Alexandria; feast day May 2) Early Christian theologian and staunch opponent of Arianism. He studied philosophy and theology at Alexandria, Egypt, and in 325 he attended the Council of Nicaea, which condemned the Arian heresy. He welcomed the council's teaching that the Son is “consubstantial with the Father” and defended that teaching throughout his career. In 328 he was appointed patriarch of Alexandria, but theological disputes led to the first of several banishments in 336. He returned from exile repeatedly and resumed his office, but Arian opposition continued. After being banished by Constantius II in 356, Athanasius lived in a remote desert in Upper Egypt and wrote theological treatises, including his Four Orations Against the Arians. The emperor's death in 361 gave Athanasius a brief respite under the toleration proclaimed by Julian, but a controversy with Julian's heathen subjects forced him to flee into the Theban desert. At the time of his death he again possessed the see at Alexandria.

Learn more about Athanasius, Saint with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born 293, Alexandria, Egypt—died May 2, 373, Alexandria; feast day May 2) Early Christian theologian and staunch opponent of Arianism. He studied philosophy and theology at Alexandria, Egypt, and in 325 he attended the Council of Nicaea, which condemned the Arian heresy. He welcomed the council's teaching that the Son is “consubstantial with the Father” and defended that teaching throughout his career. In 328 he was appointed patriarch of Alexandria, but theological disputes led to the first of several banishments in 336. He returned from exile repeatedly and resumed his office, but Arian opposition continued. After being banished by Constantius II in 356, Athanasius lived in a remote desert in Upper Egypt and wrote theological treatises, including his Four Orations Against the Arians. The emperor's death in 361 gave Athanasius a brief respite under the toleration proclaimed by Julian, but a controversy with Julian's heathen subjects forced him to flee into the Theban desert. At the time of his death he again possessed the see at Alexandria.

Learn more about Athanasius, Saint with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Athanasius (Russian: Афанасий; real name - Андрей, or Andrei) (early 16th century - 1570s) was Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia from March of 1564 to May of 1566, writer, and iconographer.

In 1530s-1540s, Athanasius served as a priest in Pereslavl-Zalessky. In 1549-1550, he was appointed archpriest of the Cathedral of the Annunciation in the Moscow Kremlin and became Ivan the Terrible's personal confessor. Athanasius accompanied the tsar during his military campaign against Kazan in 1552 and held a service during the laying of the foundation stone of the Annunciation Cathedral in that city. Athanasius participated in the church sobors of 1553 and 1554 as a witness with regards to the restoration of icons and frescos in the Kremlin cathedrals after the fire of 1547. In 1555-1556, Athanasius was engaged in restoring the Icon of Nikolai Velikoretsky together with Metropolitan Macarius. In 1567, he participated in the restoration of the Icon of Our Lady of Vladimir. It is believed that Athanasius is the author of the icon called The Belligerent Church ("Церковь воинствующая"). Also, he wrote the Life of Daniel of Pereyaslavl (Житие Даниила Переяславского; 1556-1562) and the Book of Generations (Степенная книга; between 1560 and 1563). In 1562, Athanasius was admitted to the Chudov Monastery. In 1564, he was elected Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia, replacing the deceased Metropolitan Macarius. It was Metropolitan Athanasius, whom Ivan the Terrible would address his message on the introduction of the oprichnina in 1565. Athanasius would often talk to the tsar and express his concern about the disgraced.

Officially, Metropolitan Athanasius left his post due to a "grave sickness", but some Russian historians believe that it was his rejection of oprichnina that would cost him his post. Athanasius moved to the Chudov Monastery and lived there until his death.

Search another word or see athanasiuson Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature
FAVORITES
RECENT

;