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Hippolytus



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Hippolytus : Life

Hippolytus Hippolytus must have been born in the second half of the 2nd century, probably in Rome. Photius describes him in his Bibliotheca (cod. 121) as a disciple of Irenaeus, and from the context of this passage it is supposed that we may conclude that Hippolytus himself so styled himself. But this is not certain, and even if it were, it does not necessarily imply that Hippolytus enjoyed the personal teaching of the celebrated Gallic bishop; it may perhaps merely refer to that relation of his theological system to that of Irenaeus which can easily be traced in his writings. As a presbyter of the church at Rome under Bishop Zephyrinus (199-217), Hippolytus was distinguished for his learning and eloquence. It was at this time that Origen, then a young man, heard him preach (Jerome, Vir. Ill. 61; cp. Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica vi. 14, 10). It was probably not long before questions of theology and church discipline brought him into direct conflict with Zephyrinus, or at any rate with his successor Calixtus I. He accused the bishop of favouring the Christological heresies of the Monarchians, and, further, of subverting the discipline of the Church by his lax action in receiving back into the Church those guilty of gross offences. The result was a schism, and for perhaps over ten years Hippolytus stood as bishop at the head of a separate church. Then came the persecution under Maximinus Thrax. Hippolytus and Pontius, who was then bishop, were transported in 235 to Sardinia, where it would seem that both of them died. From the so-called chronograph of the year 354 (Catalogus Liberianus) we learn that on August 13, probably in 236, the bodies of the exiles were interred in Rome and that of Hippolytus in the cemetery on the Via Tiburtina; So we must suppose that before his death the schismatic was received again into the bosom of the Church, and this is confirmed by the fact that his memory was henceforth celebrated in the Church as that of a saint and martyr. Pope Damasus I dedicated to him one of his famous epigrams, and Prudentius (Peristephano II) drew a highly colored picture of his gruesome death, the details of which are certainly purely legendary: the myth of Hippolytus the son of Theseus was transferred to the Christian martyr. Of the historical Hippolytus little remained in the memory of after ages. Neither Eusebius (H.E. vi. 20, 2) nor Jerome (Vir. Ill. 61) knew that the author so much read in the East and the Roman saint were one and the same person. The notice in the Chronicon Paschale preserves one slight reminiscence of the historical facts, namely, that Hippolytus's episcopal see was situated at Portus near Rome. In 1551 a marble statue of a seated man was found in the cemetery of the Via Tiburtina: on the sides of the seat were carved a paschal cycle, and on the back the titles of numerous writings. It was the statue of Hippolytus, a work at any rate of the 3rd century; at the time of Pius IX. It was placed in the Lateran Museum, a record in stone of a lost tradition.

  
  
  






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