4. Of Alexandria, lived in the fourth century of the Christian era, and must be distinguished from Didymus the monk, who is spoken of by Socrates. (Hist. Eccles.
At the age of four years, and before he had learnt to read, he became blind; but this calamity created in him an invincible thirst after knowledge, and by intense application he succeeded in becoming not only a distinguished grammarian, rhetorician, dialectician, mathematician, musician, astronomer, and philosopher (Socrat. 4.25; Sozom. 3.15; Rufin. 11.7; Theodoret. 4.29; Nicephor. 9.17), but also in acquiring a most extensive knowledge of sacred literature.
He devoted himself to the service of the church, and was no less distinguished for the exemplary purity of his conduct than for his learning and acquirements. In A. D. 392, when Hieronymus wrote his work on illustrious ecclesiastical authors, Didymns was still alive, and professor of theology at Alexandria.
He died in A. D. 396 at the age of eighty-five.
As professor of theology he was at the head of the school of the Catechumeni, and the most distinguished personages of that period, such as Hieronymus, Rufinus, Palladius, Ambrosius, Evagrius, and Isidorus, are mentioned among his pupils.
Didymus was the author of a great number of theological works, but most of them are lost.
The following are still extant :--
The Greek original is lost, but we possess a Latin translation made by Hieronymus, about A. D. 386, which is printed among the works of Hieronymus. Although the author as well as the translator intended it to be one book (Hieronym. Catal.
109), yet Marcianaeus in his edition of Hieronymus has divided it into three books.
The work is mentioned by St. Augustin (Quaest. in Exod.
2.25), and Nicephorus (9.17).
Separate editions of it were published at Cologne, 1531, 8vo.
, and a better one by Fuchte, Helmstädt, 1614, 8vo.
This work is likewise extant only in a Latin translation, and was first printed in the Cologne edition of the first work.
It is contained also in all the collections of the works of the fathers. The Latin translation is the work of Epiphanius, and was made at the request of Cassiodorus. (Cassiod. de Institut. Divin.
This work appears to be incomplete, since Damascenus (Parallel.
p. 507) quotes a passage from it which is now not to be found in it.
It was first printed in a Latin version by F. Turrianus in Possevin's Apparatus Sanct. ad Calc. Lit. D., Venice, 1603, and at Cologne in 1608.
It was reprinted in some of the Collections of the Fathers, until at last Combefisius in his " Auctarium novissimum" (ii. p. 21, &c.) published the Greek original. (Paris, 1672, fol.)
This work was formerly believed to be lost, but J. A. Mingarelli discovered a MS. of it, and published it with a Latin version at Bologna, 1769, fol.
A list of the lost works of Didymus is given by Fabric. Bibl. Graec.
ix. p. 273, &c.;
Compare Cave, Hist. Lit.
i. p. 205 ; Guericke, de Schola Alexandr.
ii. p. 332, &c.