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Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria


Reigned 444 to 451; b. Alexandria; d. in exile, Gangra, Paphlagonia, Sept. 4, 454. Dioscorus, successor of cyril of alexandria as patriarch of Egypt, was an archdeacon of strong convictions who accompanied Cyril to the Council of ephesus (431) and shared his theological ideas concerning christology and the theotokos. He followed Cyril as patriarch in 444. Dioscorus did not hesitate to use violent means in ousting the relatives of Cyril from ecclesiastical and administrative positions; and he forced them to restore what they had inherited from Cyril. He deposed the priest Athanasius and the deacons Theodore and Ischyrion, who had been favored by his predecessor.

When the Constantinopolitan Archmandrite euty ches was condemned by a local synod (448) under flavi an of constantinople for his ideas on the union of natures in Christ, Dioscorus came to the aid of Eutyches.

He presided at the Robber Synod of ephesus in August 449, prevented the reading of the Tome of Pope leo i, and condemned Flavian and the representatives of the Antiochene theology. He was supported by Emperor theodosius ii. When Theodosius died (July 28, 450), however, marcian and Pulcheria summoned the Council of chalcedon (451), which deposed Dioscorus in its third session (October 13), after he had defied Pope Leo and the council. It did not condemn Dioscorus as a heretic, however; and, despite the fact that he was given a successor in Proterius, on the death of Emperor Marcian (Jan. 26, 457) the Egyptian Church was taken over by the Monophysites (see monophysitism).

Dioscorus adhered strictly to the theological thought and expressions of Cyril, giving his Christology an apparently Monophysitic interpretation; but he left no writings of a specific doctrinal nature. His panegyric was written by the deacon Theopistus (455), and he is venerated as a saint in the Coptic Church.

Bibliography: s. le nain de tillemont, Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire ecclésiastique des six premiers siècles (Paris 16931712) v.15. f. haase, "Patriarch Dioskur I," in Kirchengeschichtliche Abhandlungen, ed. m. sdralek (Breslau 190211) 6:141236. f. nau, Journal asiatique 10.1 (1903) 5108, 241310, panegyric. g. bardy, Catholicisme. Hier, aujourd'hui et demain, ed. g. jacquemet (Paris 1947) 3:857858. j. lebon, Le Monophysisme Sévérien (Louvain 1909) 8493, writings; Le Muséon 59 (1946) 515528, condemnation. a. fliche and v. martin, eds., Histoire de l'église depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours (Paris 1935) 4:211240, 271272. Dictionnaire de théologie catholique: Tables générales, ed. a. vacant et al. (Paris 1951) 1:9991000. n. charlier, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 14:508514. b. l. dendakis, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 3:409410.

[f. x. murphy]

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