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A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Oceanus, a Roman of Noble Birth

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Oceanus, a Roman of noble birth, connected with Fabiola and the Julian family; a friend of Jerome, Augustine, and Pammachius. He probably became known to Jerome during his stay in Rome in 383–385. He first appears as making a public protest against Carterius, a Spanish bp. who, having married before his baptism and lost his wife, had, as a Christian, married a second wife. Jerome points out that there is no law condemning such marriages and urges silence; c. 397. Either in 397 or 396 Oceanus, with Fabiola, visited Jerome at Bethlehem, whence they were driven by fear of Hunnish invasion. While there, he apparently met Rufinus, who, according to Jerome's insinuation ( adv. Ruf. iii. 4), had an Origenistic document placed in Oceanus's room in Fabiola's house, hoping to identify him with that tendency. Rufinus having gone to Rome (397) and having published shortly afterwards his edition of Origen's Περὶ Ἀρχῶν , Oceanus and Pammachius watched his actions with critical eyes, and, on the appearance of the work, wrote to Jerome (Hieron. Ep. 83) asking him to deny the insinuation of Rufinus that he was only completing a work begun by Jerome, and to furnish them with a true translation of Origen's work. Oceanus, no doubt, took part in the subsequent proceedings which led to the condemnation of Origenism at Rome. On the death of Fabiola, c. 399, Jerome wrote to Oceanus her Epitaphium ( Ep. 77), accompanied by his exposition, which had been intended for her, of the 42 resting-places of the Israelites in the desert. In 411 Oceanus, who had maintained his correspondence with Jerome, and possessed his books against Rufinus and other of his works, interested himself specially in the Pelagian controversy on the origin of souls. Jerome writes to Marcellinus and Anapsychius ( Ep. 126) who had consulted him on this, referring them to Oceanus as one thoroughly "learned in the law of the Lord" and capable of instructing them. Augustine writes to Oceanus in 416 on the same subject, and on the reproof of St. Peter by St. Paul at Antioch.


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Oceanus, a Roman of Noble Birth'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. 1911.

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Sunday, October 25th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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