Dionysius

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Dionysius the pseudo-Areopagite (c.500). The name given to the author of a corpus of theological writings; until the end of the 19th cent., their authorship was generally ascribed to the Dionysius whom Paul had converted (Acts 17. 34).

Four of his works (The Celestial Hierarchy, The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, The Divine Names, and The Mystical Theology) and ten letters are extant. The central characteristic of these works is the synthesis of Christian and Neoplatonic thought. The leading theme is that of the intimate union (henōsis) of God and the soul, and the progressive deification of the human (theiōsis), by a process of unknowing in an ascent to God through the three ways of the spiritual life: purgative, illuminative, and unitive.

Dionysius exerted a profound influence on Christianity. See also NEOPLATONISM.

Dionysius

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Dionysius personal name.
Dionysius was the name of two rulers of Syracuse. Dionysius I (c.430–367 bc, ruled 405–367) was known as Dionysius the Elder. A tyrannical ruler, he waged three wars against the Carthaginians for control of Sicily, later becoming the principal power in Greek Italy after the capture of Rhegium (386) and other Greek cities in southern Italy. His son, Dionysus II (c.397–c.344 bc, ruled 367–357 and 346–344) was known as Dionysius the Younger. He lacked his father's military ambitions and signed a peace treaty with Carthage in 367. Despite his patronage of philosophers, he resisted the attempt by Plato to turn him into a philosopher king.
Dionysius the Areopagite (1st century ad), Greek churchman. His conversion by St Paul is recorded in Acts 17:34 and according to tradition he went on to become the first bishop of Athens. He was later confused with St Denis and with a mystical theologian, Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, who exercised a profound influence on medieval theology.

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