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Africa'nus, Sex. Ju'lius

a Christian writer at the beginning of the third century, is called by Suidas a Libyan (s. v. Ἀφρικανός), but passed the greater part of his life at Emmaus in Palestine, where, according to some, he was born. (Jerome, de Vir. Ill. 63.) When Emmaus was destroyed by fire, Africanus was sent to Elagabalus to solicit its restoration, in which mission he succeeded: the new town was called Nicopolis. (A. D. 221, Eusebius, Chron. sub anno; Syncellus, p. 359b.) Africanus subsequently went to Alexandria to hear the philosopher Heraclas, who was afterwards bishop of Alexandria. The later Syrian writers state, that he was subsequently made bishop. He was one of the most learned of the early Christian writers. Socrates (Hist. Eccl. 2.35) classes him with Origen and Clement; and it appears from his letter on the History of Susanna, that he was acquainted with Hebrew.



The chief work of Africanus was a Chronicon in five books (πεντάβιβλιον χρονολογικόν), from the creation of the world, which he placed in 5499 B. C. to A. D. 221, the fourth year of the reign of Elagabalus. This work is lost, but a considerable part of it is extracted by Eusebius in his " Chronicon," and many fragments of it are also preserved by Georgius Syncellus, Cedrenus, and in the Paschale Chronicon. (See Ideler, Handbuch d. Chronol. vol. ii. p. 456, &c.)


The fragments of this work are given by Gallandi (Bibl. Pat., and Routh (Reliquiae Sacrae.

Letter to Origen

Africanus wrote a letter to Origen impugning the authority of the book of Susanna, to which Origen replied.


This letter is extant, and has been published, together with Origen's answer, by Wetstein, Basle, 1674, 4to. It is also contained in De la Rue's edition of Origen.

Letter to Aristeides

Africanus also wrote a letter to Aristeides on the genealogies of Christ in Matthew and Luke (Phot. Bibl. 34 ; Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 6.23), of which some extracts are given by Eusebius. (1.7.)


There is another work attributed to Africanus, entitled Κεστοί, that is, embroidered girdles, so called from the celebrated κεστός of Aphrodite. Some modern writers suppose this work to have been written by some one else, but it can scarcely he doubted that it was written by the same Africanus, since it is expressly mentioned among his other writings by Photius (l.c.), Suidas (l.c.), Syncellus (l.c.), and Eusebius. (6.23.) The number of books of which it consisted, is stated variously. Suidas mentions twenty-four, Photius fourteen, and Syncellus nine. It treated of a vast variety of subjects--medicine, agriculture, natural history, the military art, &c., and seems to have been a kind of common-place book, in which the author entered the results of his reading Some of the books are said to exist still in manuscript. (Fabricius, Bibl. Graec. vol. iv. pp. 240, &c.)


Some extracts from them are published by Thevenot in the " Mathematici Veteres," Paris, 1693, fo., and also in the Geoponica of Cassianus Bassus. (Needham, Prolegom. ad Geopon.


The part relating to the military art was translated into French by Guichard in the third volume of " Mémoires crit. et hist. sur plusieurs Points d'Antiquités militaires," Berl. 1774.

Further Information

Compare Dureau de la Malle, " Poliorcétique des Anciens," Paris, 1819, 8vo.

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