Amalric of Bena

Amalric of Bena or of Chartres (in Latin, Amalricus or Emelricus; in French, Amaury), a celebrated theologian and philosopher of the Middle Ages, born at Bena, a village near Chartres, lived at Paris toward the close of the twelfth and the beginning of the thirteenth century. He gave instruction in dialectics and other liberal arts comprised in the Trivium and Quadrivium. He undertook to explain the metaphysical works of Aristotle, which had just been translated into Latin, partly from some new copies, partly from Arabic versions, which had been imported from the East. In these works Amalric advances the opinion that all beings proceed from a first matter, which in itself has neither form nor figure, but in which the motion is continual and necessary. The Arabs had long before begun to introduce this philosophy into Western Europe; for as early as the ninth century Scotus Erigena (q.v.) taught that the first matter was every thing, and that it was God. Although the temerity of this language was frequently complained of, the doctrine of Erigena was never expressly condemned, and Amalric was therefore not afraid of again professing it. He also maintained the ideality of God and the first matter, but he pretended to reconcile this view with the writings of Moses and the theology of the Catholic Church From the continual and necessary movement of the first matter, he concluded that all particular beings were ultimately to re-enter the bosom of the Being of Beings, which alone is indestructible, and that before this ultimate consummation the vicissitudes of nature would have divided the history of the world and of religion into three periods corresponding to the three persons of the Trinity. SEE ALMERICIANS. He developed his ideas especially in a work entitled "Physion, a Treaty of Natural Things." This book was condemned by the University of Paris in 1204. Amalric appealed from this sentence to the pope, and went himself to Rome; but Pope Innocent III confirmed the sentence in 1207. Amalric was compelled to retract, which he did with great reluctance. He died from grief in 1209. In 1210, when ten of his chief followers were burned, the body of Amalric was also exhumed, and his bones burned, together with his books, inclusive of the metaphysics of Aristotle. — Herzog, Real-Encyklopadie, 1, 268; Hoefer, Biog. Generale, 2, 305.

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