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A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Dioscorus, the Monk

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Dioscorus (4) , the eldest of four Nitrian monks, Dioscorus, Ammonius, Eusebius, and Euthymius, known from their stature as the "Tall Brethren," who became conspicuous in Chrysostom's early troubles. They were reluctantly induced by Theophilus, patriarch of Alexandria, to leave the desert and to submit to ordination. Eusebius and Euthymius became presbyters, and Dioscorus was consecrated bp. of Hermopolis. Weary of city life and uncongenial duties, and shocked by the avarice and other vices of Theophilus, Dioscorus and his brethren returned to their solitudes, though the indignant patriarch tried to deter them by violent menaces (Socr. H. E. viii. 12). As depositaries of dangerous secrets, they had become formidable to Theophilus, who resolved to wreak vengeance upon them. On the pretext of their adherence to the mystic views of Origen on the Person of the Deity, and their decided opposition to Anthropomorphism, which Theophilus had originally shared with them, Theophilus had them ejected from their monasteries and treated them with the utmost contumely and violence when they went to Alexandria to appeal (Pallad. p. 54). Having procured their condemnation at a packed synod at Alexandria, a.d. 401, Theophilus personally headed a night attack on their monastery, which was burnt and pillaged, and Dioscorus himself treated with violence and indignity ( ib. p. 57). Driven from Egypt, the "Tall Brethren" took refuge in Palestine, but later resolved to appeal for protection to the emperor and to Chrysostom in person. Chrysostom manifested much sympathy, but contented himself with writing to Theophilus, urging his reconciliation with them. Theophilus's only reply was an angry remonstrance against his harbouring heretics and interfering with another see. He sent emissaries to Constantinople to denounce the brethren as magicians, heretics, and rebels. The monks then announced their intention of appealing to the secular power for a judicial investigation of the charges against them, and demanded that Theophilus should be summoned to answer for his conduct before a council. The superstitious reverence of the empress Eudoxia, all-powerful with the feeble Arcadius, secured them their desire, and Theophilus was ordered to appear at Constantinople. This appeal to the civil authority displeased Chrysostom, who declined to interfere further in the controversy. For the manner in which Theophilus turned the tables on Chrysostom, becoming the accuser instead of the accused, and securing his deposition, see Chrysostom; Theophilus (8). His main object having been accomplished in the overthrow of his great rival, Theophilus now made no difficulty about reconciliation with the Nitrian monks, who he publicly restored to communion on their simple petition. Dioscorus and Ammonius had, however, died not long before. Socr. H. E. vi. 16; Soz. H. E. viii. 17; Pallad. p. 157.


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Dioscorus, the Monk'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. 1911.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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