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§ 137. Christian Platonism and the Pseudo-Dionysian Writings.


I. Best ed. of Pseudo-Dionysius in Greek and Latin by Balthasar Corderius (Jesuit), Antwerp, 1634; reprinted at Paris, 1644; Venice, 1755; Brixiae, 1854; and by Migne, in “Patrol. Gr.,” Tom. III. and IV., Paris, 1857, with the scholia of Pachymeres, St. Maximus, and various dissertations on the life and writings of Dionysius. French translations by Darboy (1845), and Dulac (1865). German transl. by Engelhardt (see below). An English transl. of the Mystical Theology in Everard’s Gospel Treasures, London, 1653.

II. Older treatises by Launoy: De Areopagiticis Hilduini (Paris, 1641); and De duabus Dionysiis (Par., 1660). Père Sirmond: Dissert. in qua ostenditur Dion. Paris. et Dion. Areop. discrimen (Par., 1641). J. Daillé: De scriptis quo sub Dionys. Areop. et Ignatii Antioch. nominibus circumferuntur (Geneva, 1666, reproduced by Engelhardt).

III. Engelhardt: Die angeblichen Schriften des Areop. Dion. übersetzt und mit Abhandl. begleitet (Sulzbach, 1823); De Dion. Platonizante (Erlangen, 1820); and De Origine script. Dion. Areop. (Erlangen, 1823). Vogt: Neuplatonismus und Christenthum. Berlin, 1836. G. A. Meyer: Dionys. Areop. Halle, 1845. L. Montet: Les livres du Pseudo-Dionys., 1848. Neander: III. 169 sqq.; 466 sq. Gieseler: I. 468; II. 103 sq. Baur: Gesch. der Lehre v. der Dreieinigkeit und Menschwerdung Gottes, II. 251–263. Dorner: Entw. Gesch. der L. v. d. Pers. Christi, II. 196–203. Fr. Hipler: Dionys. der Areopagite. Regensb., 1861. E. Böhmer: Dion. Areop., 1864. Westcott: Dion. Areop. in the “Contemp. Review” for May, 1867 (with good translations of characteristic passages). Joh. Niemeyer: Dion. Areop. doctrina philos. et theolog. Halle, 1869. Dean Colet: On the Hierarchies of Dionysius. 1869. J. Fowler: On St. Dion. in relation to Christian Art, in the “Sacristy,” Febr., 1872. Kanakis: Dionys. der Areop. nach seinem Character als Philosoph. Leipz., 1881. Möller in “Herzog”2 III. 617 sqq.; and Lupton in “Smith & Wace,” I. 841 sqq. Comp. the Histories of Philosophy by Ritter, II. 514 sqq., and Ueberweg (Am. ed.), II. 349–352.

The Real and the Ficitious Doinysius.

The tendency to mystic speculation was kept up and nourished chiefly through the writings which exhibit a fusion of Neo-Platonism and Christianity, and which go under the name of Dionysius Areopagita, the distinguished Athenian convert of St. Paul (Acts 17:34). He was, according to a tradition of the second century, the first bishop of Athens.770770    Dionysius of Corinth (d. 170) in Euseb., Hist. Eccl. III. 4; IV. 23. So also in Const. Apost. VII. 46. Nothing is said in these passages of his martyrdom, which is an uncertain tradition of later date. Quadratus, the oldest Christian writer of Athens, makes no mention of him. Suidas (eleventh century), in his Lexicon, sub ΔιονύσιοςὁἈρεωπαγίτης(Kuster’s ed, Cambridge, 1705, vol. I. 598-600), says that Dionysius visited Egypt in the reign of Tiberius, witnessed with a friend at Heliopolis the extraordinary eclipse of the sun which occurred at the time of the crucifixion (comp. the 7th Ep. of Dion.); that he was converted by Paul and elected bishop of the Athenians; that he excelled in all secular and sacred learning, and was so profound that his works seem to be the productions of a celestial and divine faculty rather than of a human genius. He knows nothing of the French Dionysius. In the ninth century, when the French became acquainted with his supposed writings, he was confounded with St. Denis, the first bishop of Paris and patron saint of France, who lived and died about two hundred years after the Areopagite.771771    According to the oldest authorities (Sulpicius Severus, d. 410, and Gregory of Tours, d. 595, see his Hist. Franc. I. 28), the French Dionysius belongs to the middle of the third century, and died a martyr either under Decius (249-251) or under Aurelian (270-273). Afterwards he was put back to the first century. The confusion of the French martyr with the Areopagite of the same name is traced to Hilduin, abbot of St. Denis, A.D. 835, who at the request of the Emperor Louis the Pious compiled an uncritical collection of the traditions concerning Dionysius (Areopagitica). Gieseler (II. 103) traces it further back to the age of Charlemagne and the Acta Dionys., which were first printed in the Acta Sanct. mens. Oct. IV. 792. After that time it was currently believed that Dionysius was sent by Pope Clement of Rome to Gaul with twelve companions, or (according to another tradition) with a presbyter Rusticus, and a deacon Eleutherius, and that he suffered martyrdom with them under Domitian. His identity with the Areopagite became almost an article of faith; and when Abélard dared to call it in question, he was expelled from St. Denis as a dangerous heretic. It has been conclusively disproved by Launoy, Sirmond, Morinus, Le Nourry, Daillé; and yet it still finds defenders among French Catholics, e.g. the Archbishop Darboy of Paris, who was shot by the Commune in May, 1871. The Abbé Dulac thus epigrammatically expresses this exploded tradition (Oeuvres de Saint Denis, 1865, p. 13): ”Né dans Athènes, Lutèce d’Orient, il meurt à Lutèce, Athènes d’Occident; successivement epoux de deux églises, dont l’une possédera son borceau, et l’autre sa tombe. Montmartre vaudra la colline de Mars.” He thus became, by a glaring anachronism, the connecting link between Athens and Paris, between Greek philosophy and Christian theology, and acquired an almost apostolic authority. He furnishes one of the most remarkable examples of the posthumous influence of unknown authorship and of the power of the dead over the living. For centuries he was regarded as the prince of theologians. He represented to the Greek and Latin church the esoteric wisdom of the gospel, and the mysterious harmony between faith and reason and between the celestial and terrestrial hierarchy.

Pseudo-Dionysius is a philosophical counterpart of Pseudo-Isidor: both are pious frauds in the interest of the catholic system, the one with regard to theology, the other with regard to church polity; both reflect the uncritical character of mediaeval Christianity; both derived from the belief in their antiquity a fictitious importance far beyond their intrinsic merits. Doubts were entertained of the genuineness of the Areopagitica by Laurentius Valla, Erasmus, and Cardinal Cajetan; but it was only in the seventeenth century that the illusion of the identity of Pseudo-Dionysius with the apostolic convert and the patron-saint of France was finally dispelled by the torch of historical criticism. Since that time his writings have lost their authority and attraction; but they will always occupy a prominent place among the curiosities of literature, and among the most remarkable systems of mystic philosophy.


Who is the real author of those productions? The writer is called simply Dionysius, and only once.772772    In Ep. VII. 3, where Agollophanes addresses him: “O Dionysius.” He repeatedly mentions an unknown Hierotheos, as his teacher; but he praises also “the divine Paul,” as the spiritual guide of both, and addresses persons who bear apostolic names, as Timothy, Titus, Caius, Polycarp, and St. John. He refers to a visit he made with Hierotheos, and with James, the brother of the Lord (ajdelfovqeo”), and Peter, “the chief and noblest head of the inspired apostles,” to gaze upon the (dead) body of her (Mary) who was “the beginning of life and the recipient of God;” on which occasion Hierotheos gave utterance to their feelings in ecstatic hymns. It is evident then that he either lived in the apostolic age and its surroundings, or that he transferred himself back in imagination to that age.773773    Hipler and Boehmer assume that those names do not refer to the well-known apostolic characters, but this is untenable. The former alternative is impossible. The inflated style, the reference to later persons (as Ignatius of Antioch and Clement of Alexandria), the acquaintance with Neo-Platonic ideas, the appeal to the “old tradition” (ajrcai’a paravdosi”) of the church as well as the Scriptures, and the elaborate system of church polity and ritual which he presupposes, clearly prove his post-apostolic origin. He was not known to Eusebius or Jerome or any ecclesiastical author before 533. In that year his writings were first mentioned in a conference between orthodox bishops and heretical Severians at Constantinople under Justinian I.774774    See the Collatio Catholicorum cum Severianis in Mansi, VIII. 817 sqq., and an account of the conference in Walch’s Ketzergeschichte, VII 134 sqq. The Severians quoted them as an authority for their Monophysitic Christology and against the Council of Chalcedon; and in reply to the objection that they were unknown, they asserted that Cyril of Alexandria had used them against the Nestorians. If this be so, they must have existed before 444, when Cyril died; but no trace can be found in Cyril’s writings. On the other hand, Dionysius presupposes the christological controversies of the fifth century, and shows a leaning to Monophysitic views, and a familiarity with the last and best representatives of Neo-Platonism, especially with Proclus, who died in Athens, a.d. 485. The resemblance is so strong that the admirers of Dionysius charged Proclus with plagiarism.775775    Westcott asserts (p. 6) that the coincidences with Damascius, the second in succession from Proclus, and the last Platonic teacher at Athens, are even more remarkable. He was of Syrian origin. The writer then was a Christian Neo-Platonist who wrote towards the close of the fifth or the beginning of the sixth century in Greece or in Egypt, and who by a literary fiction clothed his religious speculations with the name and authority of the first Christian bishop of Athens.776776    Different conjectures as to the author, time and place of composition: 1) A pseudonymous Dionysius (of Egypt) at the end of the fifth century. Gieseler, Engelhardt, Dorner, and others. 2) Dionysius of Alexandria, d. 265. Baratier. 3) Another Dionysius of the fourth century. 4) During the Eutychian and Nestorian controversies. Le Nourry. 5) A Pseudo-Dionysius of the third century, who wished to introduce the Eleusynian mysteries into the church. Baumgarten Crusius. 6) Apollinaris the elder, d. 360. 7) Apollinaris the younger, d. 370. Laurentius Valla. 8) Synesius of Ptolemais, c. 410. La Croze. 9) Peter Gnapheus or Fullo, patriarch of Constantinople. Le Quien. 10) A writer in Edessa, or under the influence of the Edessene school, between 480 and 520. Westcott.—See the Prolegomena of Le Nourry, De Rubeis, Corderius, in the first vol. of Migne’s ed., and Lupton, l.c.

In the same way the pseudo-Clementine writings were assigned to the first bishop of Rome.

The Fortunes of Pseudo-Dionysius.

Pseudo-Dionysius appears first in the interest of the heretical doctrine of one nature and one will in the person of Christ.777777    The Monothelites appealed to a passage in Ep. IV. ad Caium. See Hefele, III. 127 sq. Dorner (II. 196 sqq.) correctly represents the mystic Christology of Pseudo-Dionysius as a connecting link between Monophysitism and the orthodox dogma. But he soon commended himself even more to orthodox theologians. He was commented on by Johannes Scythopolitanus in the sixth century, and by St. Maximus Confessor in the seventh. John of Damascus often quotes him as high authority. Even Photius, who as a critic doubted the genuineness, numbers him among the great church teachers and praises his depth of thought.778778    The first book which he notices in his “Bibliotheca” (about 845) is a defense of the genuineness of the Dionysian writings by a presbyter Theodorus, who mentions four objections: 1) they were unknown to the earlier fathers; 2) they are not mentioned in the catalogues of writing by Eusebius; 3) they are filled with comments on church traditions which grew by degrees long after the apostolic age; 4) they quote an epistle of Ignatius, written on his way to martyrdom under Trojan. Photius seems to think that the objections are stronger than the answers of Theodorus. See Neander, III. 170; Westcott, l.c. p. 4, and Hergenroether, Photius, III. 29 and 331.

In the West the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius were first noticed about 590 by Pope Gregory I., who probably became acquainted with them while ambassador at Constantinople. Pope Hadrian I. mentions them in a letter to Charlemagne. The Emperor Michael II. the Stammerer, sent a copy to Louis the Pious, 827. Their arrival at St. Denis on the eve of the feast of the saint who reposed there, was followed by no less than nineteen miraculous cures in the neighborhood. They naturally recalled the memory of the patron-saint of France, and were traced to his authorship. The emperor instructed Hilduin, the abbot of St. Denis, to translate them into Latin; but his scholarship was not equal to the task. John Scotus Erigena, the best Greek scholar in the West, at the request of Charles the Bald, prepared a literal translation with comments, about 850, and praised the author as “venerable alike for his antiquity and for the sublimity of the heavenly mysteries” with which he dealt.779779    Other Latin versions were made afterwards by Johannes Sarracinus in the twelfth century, by Ambrosius Camaldulensis in the fifteenth, by Corderius in the seventeenth. Pope Nicolas I. complained that the work had not been sent to him for approval,” according to the custom of the church” (861); but a few years later Anastasius, the papal librarian, highly commended it (c. 865).

The Areopagitica stimulated an intuitive and speculative bent of mind, and became an important factor in the development of scholastic and mystic theology. Hugo of St. Victor, Peter the Lombard, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Robert Grosseteste, and Dionysius Carthusianus wrote commentaries on them, and drew from them inspiration for their own writings.780780    St. Thomas, the “Angelic Doctor,” is so full of quotations from Dionysius that Corderius says, he drew from him ”totam fere doctrinam theologicam.” Migne I. 96. The Platonists of the Italian renaissance likewise were influenced by them.

Dante places Dionysius among the theologians in the heaven of the sun:

“Thou seest next the lustre of that taper,

Which in the flesh below looked most within

The angelic nature and its ministry.”781781    Paradiso, X. 115.

Luther called him a dreamer, and this was one of his heretical views which the Sorbonne of Paris condemned.

The Several Writings.

The Dionysian writings, as far as preserved, are four treatises addressed to Timothy, his “fellow-presbyter,” namely: 1) On the Celestial Hierarchy (περὶ τῆς οὐρανίας ἱεραρχίας). 2) On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy (περὶ τῆς ἐκκλησιαστικῆς ἱεραρχίας). 3) On the Divine Names (περὶ θείων ὀνομάτων). 4) On Mystic Theology (περὶ μυστικῆς θεολογίας). To these are added ten letters addressed to various persons of the apostolic age.782782    An eleventh letter which exists only in Latin (said to have been written by Scotus Erigena), and a Latin Liturgy of Dionysius (published by Renaudot and in Migne’s ed. I. 1123-1132), are spurious.

The System of Dionysius.

These books reveal the same authorship and the same system of mystic symbolism, in which Neo-Platonism and Christianity are interwoven. The last phase of Hellenic philosophy which heretofore had been hostile to the church, is here made subservient to it. The connecting ideas are the progressive revelation of the infinite, the hierarchic triads, the negative conception of evil, and the striving of man after mystic union with the transcendent God. The system is a counterpart of the Graeco-Jewish theology, of Philo of Alexandria, who in similar manner mingled the Platonic philosophy with the Mosaic religion. The Areopagite and Philo teach theology in the garb of philosophy; both appeal to Scripture, tradition, and reason; both go behind the letter of the Bible and the facts of history to a deeper symbolic and allegoric meaning; both adulterate the revealed truths by foreign elements. But Philo is confined to the Old Testament, and ignores the New, which was then not yet written; while the system of the Areopagite is a sort of philosophy of Christianity.

The Areopagite reverently ascends the heights and sounds the depths of metaphysical and religious speculation, and makes the impression of profound insight and sublime spirituality; and hence he exerted such a charm upon the great schoolmen and mystics of the middle ages. But he abounds in repetitions; he covers the poverty of thought with high-sounding phrases; he uses the terminology of the Hellenic mysteries;783783    As for the three stages of spiritual ascent, κάθαρσις, μύησις, τελείωσις, and the verb ἐποπτεύεσθαι,i.e. to be admitted to the highest grade at mysteries, to become an ἐπόπτηςor μύστης. For other rare words see the vocabulary of Dion. in Migne, I. 1134 sqq., and II. 23 sqq. and his style is artificial, turgid, involved, and monotonous.

The unity of the Godhead and the hierarchical order of the universe are the two leading ideas of the Areopagite. He descends from the divine unity through a succession of manifestations to variety, and ascends back again to mystic union with God. His text, we may say, is the sentence of St. Paul: “From God, and through God, and unto God, are all things” (Rom. 11:36).

He starts from the Neo-Platonic conception of the Godhead, as a being which transcends all being and existence784784    το ̀ὃν ὑπερούσιον, das ueberseiende Sein. and yet is the beginning and the end of all existence, as unknowable and yet the source of all reason and knowledge, as nameless and inexpressible and yet giving names to all things, as a simple unity and yet causing all variety. He describes God as “a unity of three persons, who with his loving providence penetrates to all things, from super-celestial essences to the last things of earth, as being the beginning and cause of all beings, beyond all beginning, and enfolding all things transcendentally in his infinite embrace.” If we would know God, we must go out of ourselves and become absorbed in Him. All being proceeds from God by a sort of emanation, and tends upward to him.

The world forms a double hierarchy, that is, as he defines it, “a holy order, and science, and activity or energy, assimilated as far as possible to the godlike and elevated to the imitation of God in proportion to the divine illuminations conceded to it.” There are two hierarchies, one in heaven, and one on earth, each with three triadic degrees.

The celestial or supermundane hierarchy consists of angelic beings in three orders: 1) thrones, cherubim, and seraphim, in the immediate presence of God; 2) powers, mights, and dominions; 3) angels (in the narrower sense), archangels, and principalities.785785    Or, in the descending order, they are:
   (a) σεραφίμ, χερουβίμ, θρόνοι.

   (b) κυριότητες, δυνάμεις , ἐξουσίαι.

   (c) ἀρχαί, ἀρχάγγελοι, ἀγγελοι.

   Five of these orders are derived from St. Paul, Eph. 1:21 (ἀρχή, ἐξουσία, δύναμις, κυριότης), and Col. 1:16 (θρόνοι, κυριότητες. ἀρχαί, ἐξουσίαι); the other four (σεραφίμ, χερουβίμ, ἀρχάγγελοι, ἄγγελοι) are likewise biblical designations of angelic beings, but nowhere mentioned in this order. Thomas Aquinas, in his doctrine of angels, closely follows Dionysius, quoting him literally, or more frequently interpreting his meaning. Dante introduced the three celestial triads into his Divina Commedia (Paradiso, Canto XXVIII. 97 sqq.):

   “These orders upward all of them are gazing,

   And downward so prevail, that unto God

   They all attracted are and all attract.

   And Dionysius with so great desire

   To contemplate these orders set himself,

   He named them and distinguished them as I do.”

   (Longfellow’s translation .)
The first order is illuminated, purified and perfected by God, the second order by the first, the third by the second.

The earthly or ecclesiastical hierarchy is a reflex of the heavenly, and a school to train us up to the closest possible communion with God. Its orders form the lower steps of the heavenly ladder which reaches in its summit to the throne of God. It requires sensible symbols or sacraments, which, like the parables of our Lord, serve the double purpose of revealing the truth to the holy and hiding it from the profane. The first and highest triad of the ecclesiastical hierarchy are the sacraments of baptism which is called illumination (fwvtisma), the eucharist (suvnaxi”, gathering, communion), which is the most sacred of consecrations, and the holy unction or chrism which represents our perfecting. Three other sacraments are mentioned: the ordination of priests, the consecration of monks, and the rites of burial, especially the anointing of the dead. The three orders of the ministry form the second triad.786786    They are not called bishop, priest, and deacon, but ἱεράρχης, ἱερεύς, and λειτουργός. Yet Dionysius writes to Timothy as πρεσβύτερος τῷ συμπρεσβυτέρῳ. The third triad consists of monks, the holy laity, and the catechumens.

These two hierarchies with their nine-fold orders of heavenly and earthly ministrations are, so to speak, the machinery of God’s government and of his self-communication to man. They express the divine law of subordination and mutual dependence of the different ranks of beings.

The Divine Names or attributes, which are the subject of a long treatise, disclose to us through veils and shadows the fountain-head of all life and light, thought and desire. The goodness, the beauty, and the loveliness of God shine forth upon all created things, like the rays of the sun, and attract all to Himself. How then can evil exist? Evil is nothing real and positive, but only a negation, a defect. Cold is the absence of heat, darkness is the absence of light; so is evil the absence, of goodness. But how then can God punish evil? For the answer to this question the author refers to another treatise which is lost.787787    Περὶ δικαίου και ̀θείου δικαιωτηρίου.

The Mystic Theology briefly shows the way by which the human soul ascends to mystic union with God as previously set forth under the Divine Names. The soul now rises above signs and symbols, above earthly conceptions and definitions to the pure knowledge and intuition of God.

Dionysius distinguishes between cataphatic or affirmative theology)788788    καταφατικός, affirmative from καταφάσκω(κατάφημι), to affirm and apophatic or negative theology.789789    ἀποφατικός, negative, from ἀποφάσκω(ἀπόφημι), to deny. The former descends from the infinite God, as the unity of all names, to the finite and manifold; the latter ascends from the finite and manifold to God, until it reaches that height of sublimity where it becomes completely passive, its voice is stilled, and man is united with the nameless, unspeakable, super-essential Being of Beings.

The ten Letters treat of separate theological or moral topics, and are addressed, four to Caius, a monk (θεραπεύτης), one to Dorotheus, a deacon (λειτουργός), one to Sosipater, a priest (ἱερεύς), one to Demophilus, a monk, one to Polycarp (called ἱεράρχης, no doubt the well-known bishop of Smyrna), one to Titus (ἱεράρχης, bishop of Crete), and the tenth to John, “the theologian,” i.e. the Apostle John at Patmos, foretelling his future release from exile.

Dionysian Legends.

Two legends of the Pseudo-Dionysian writings have passed in exaggerated forms into Latin Breviaries and other books of devotion. One is his gathering with the apostles around the death-bed of the Virgin Mary.790790    See above p. 592, and Περὶθείωνὀνομάτ. cap. III. 2. (ed. of Migne, I. 682 sq.) Comp. the lengthy discussion of Baronius, Annal. ad ann. 48. In this connection St. Peter is called by Dionysius κορυφαίακαὶπρεσβυτάτητῶνθεολόγωνἀκρότης(suprema ista atque antiquissima summitas theologorum). Corderius (see Migne I, 686) regards this as “firmissimum argumentum pro primatu Petri d consequeenter (?) Pontificum Romanorumm ejusdem successorum.” The other is the exclamation of Dionysius when he witnessed at Heliopolis in Egypt the miraculous solar eclipse at the time of the crucifixion:791791    Matt. 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44. See the notes in Lange, on Matthew, p. 525 (Am. ed.). “Either the God of nature is suffering, or He sympathizes with a suffering God.”792792    The exclamation is variously given: ὁἄγνωστοςἐνσαρκὶπάσχειθεόςby Syngelus); or ἢ τὸθεῖονπάσχει, ἢ τῷ πάσχοντισυμπάσχει (”Aut Deus patitur, aut patienti compatitur“), or, as the Roman Breviary has it: ”Aut Deus naturae patitur, aut mundi machina dissolvitur,” “Either the God of nature is suffering, or the fabric of the world is breaking up.” See Corderius in his annotations to Ep. VII., in Migne, I. 1083, and Halloix, in Vita S. Dion., ibid. II. 698. The exclamation of Dionysius is sometimes (even by so accurate a scholar as Dr. Westcott, l.c., p. 8) erroneously traced to the 7th Ep. of Dion., as a response to the exclamation of Apollophanes. No such sentence occurs in the writings of Dionysius as his own utterance; but a similar one is attributed by him to the sophist Apollophanes, his fellow-student at Heliopolis.793793    In Ep. VII. 2, where Dionysius asks Polycarp to silence the objections of Apollophanes to Christianity and to remind him of that incident when be exclaimed: ταῦτα, ὦ καλὲ Διονύσιε, θείων ἀμοιβαὶ πραγμάτων, ”Istae O praeclare Dionysi, divinarum sunt vicissitudines rerum.” The same incident is alluded to in the spurious eleventh letter addressed to Apollophanes himself. So Suidas also gives the exclamation of Apollophanes, sub verbo Διον.

The Roman Breviary has given solemn sanction, for devotional purposes, to several historical errors connected with Dionysius the Areopagite: 1) his identity with the French St. Denis of the third century; 2) his authorship of the books upon “The Names of God,” upon “The Orders in Heaven and in the Church,” upon “The Mystic Theology,” and “divers others,” which cannot have been written before the end of the fifth century; 3) his witness of the supernatural eclipse at the time of the crucifixion, and his exclamation just referred to, which he himself ascribes to Apollophanes. The Breviary also relates that Dionysius was sent by Pope Clement of Rome to Gaul with Rusticus, a priest, and Eleutherius, a deacon; that he was tortured with fire upon a grating, and beheaded with an axe on the 9th day of October in Domitian’s reign, being over a hundred years old, but that “after his head was cut off, he took it in his hands and walked two hundred paces, carrying it all the while!”794794    Brev. Rom. for Oct. 9, in the English ed. of the Marquess of Bute, vol. II. 1311. Even Alban Butler, in his Lives of the Saints (Oct. 9), rejects the fable of the identity of the two Dionysii.

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