Dionysius Exiguus

Dionysius Exiguus ("the little"), a Scythian by birth (sixth century); studied at Rome, where he became a monk, and gained high repute by his knowledge of Scripture and of the Greek language. Cassiodorus, who was intimate with him, wrote his panegyric in his Institut. Divin. Literarum, chapter 23. He was a vehement and unscrupulous "upholder of the see of Rome; he is suspected to have been guilty even of forgery in its support; he first published, and very probably wrote the Canons of the Council of Sardica, and collected the papal decretals from Siricius to Anastasius II" (Geddes, Tracts, 2:419, cited in Clarke, Succession of Sac. Lit. 2:307). These were published with his Collection of Canons, made at the request of Stephen, bishop of Salone, which contains the 50 first Apost. Canons (q.v.), the Canons of Nice, Constantinople, Chalcedon, Sardica, and 138 of Africa (ed. Justellus, Paris, 1628, 8vo; also given in Biblioth. Jur. Canon. 1:97). He also wrote a number of translations from Greek writers. But his fame rests (and justly) upon his Cyclus Paschalis, in which he introduced the name of Christ as the starting-point of computation, and gave birth to our "Christian aera," known also as the "Dionysian sera." It "was a great thought of the 'little monk' (whether so called from his humility or from his small stature is unknown) to view Christ as the turning-point of the ages, and to introduce this view into chronology" (Schaff, Hist. of Chr. Church, 2, § 67). Dionysius lived to about A.D. 550. His writings are given in Migne, Patrol. Lat. volume 67. See Oudin, De Scriptor. Eccl. Antiq. 1:1405 sq.; Schrickh, Kirchengeschichte, 16:175; Cave, Hist. Lit. (Geneva, 1720), 1:333; Ceillier, Hist. Generale des auteurs sacres (Paris, 1862), 11:123; and arts. SEE CANON; SEE CANON LAW; SEE CHRONOLOGY.

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