Apollinaris (the Elder)

Apollinaris (the Elder)

Apollinaris the Elder was a Christian grammarian of the fourth century, first in Berytus (now Beirut) in Phoenicia, then in Laodicea in Syria. He was the father of Apollinaris of Laodicea.

He became a priest, and was among the staunchest upholders of the Council of Nicæa (325) and of St. Athanasius. When the Emperor Julian the Apostate forbade Christian professors to lecture or comment on the poets or philosophers of Greece (362), Apollinaris and his son both strove to replace the literary masterpieces of antiquity by new works which should offset the threatened loss to Christians of the advantages of polite instruction and help to win respect for the Christian religion among non-Christians. According to Socrates of Constantinople ("Hist. Eccl.", II, xlvi; III, xvi), the elder Apollinaris translated the Pentateuch into Greek hexameters, converted the first two books of Kings into an epic poem of twenty-­four cantos, wrote tragedies modelled on Euripides, comedies after the manner of Menander, and odes imitated from Pindar. Sozomen ("Hist. Eccl.", V, xviii; VI, xxv) says nothing of the poetical works of the elder Apollinaris, but lays stress on those of his son. This improvised Greek literature, however, did not survive. As soon as Valentinian I (364-375) had revoked the edict of Julian the schools returned to the great classic writers, and only the memory of the efforts of Apollinaris survived.

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