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1. TYRANNIUS or TURRANIUS, or TORANUS, as the name is variously written, must have been born about the middle of the fourth century, but neither the precise date nor the place of his nativity can be determined with certainty, although some of his biographers have confidently fixed upon A. D. 345, for the former, and Concordia, near the head of the Adriatic, as the latter. After he had attained to manhood he became an inmate of the monastery at Aquileia, where, upon acquiring a knowledge of the principles and rites of Christianity, he received the sacrament of baptism, in 371 or 372, from the hands of the presbyter Chromatius. At this epoch also he formed that close intimacy with Hieronymus which was long maintained with great mutual warmth, but eventually most rudely dissolved. Having conceived an eager desire to visit Palestine, Rufinus set out, almost immediately after his admission into the Church, for Syria, in the train of Melania, a noble, wealthy, and devout Roman matron, and remained in the East for about twenty-six years, passing a portion of his time at Alexandria, where he enjoyed the instructions of Didymus and other learned fathers; and the rest at Jerusalem, where he took up his abode with the monks on the Mount of Olives, making frequent excursions, however, in different directions, in company with Melania, to whom he seems to have acted as spiritual adviser and almoner. During the earlier part of the above period he maintained a most affectionate correspondence with Jerome, who had retired to the desert between Antioch and the Euphrates, and although they met once only (in 385), their friendship continued uninterrupted up to 393, when bitter strife arose. Both had been warm admirers of Origen, and this admiration had been expressed in the most emphatic terms by Jerome, in the preface to his translation of the Homilies upon the Song of Solomon. But when the doubtful tendency of many of the theories involved in the imaginative orientalisms of Origen began by degrees to be more clearly discerned, and when the cry of heresy, first raised by Theophilus, became loud and strong, Jerome, eager to escape all suspicion of adherence to such errors, vehemently supported Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis, in his attack upon John of Jerusalem, by whom Rufinus had been ordained a presbyter, and to whom he was warmly attached. The seeds of enmity planted by this controversy were cherished into vigour by the characteristic heat of Jerome, whose denunciations of his fonner companion became, by quick degrees, more and more fierce and unsparing; but before the quarrel had ripened into inextinguishable hatred, its progress was checked by the interposition and explanations of honest friends, and a solemn reconciliation took place at Jersalem, on Easter day, A. D. 397.

In the autumn of the same year Rufinus embarked for Italy, along with Melania, and having been hospitably entertained by Paulinus [PAULINUS], at Nola, betook himself from thence, without visiting the metropolis, to the monastery of Pinetum. Hither multitudes flocked for the purpose of making inquiries with regard to the ceremonies and liturgies of the sister Churches of the East, the rules of the most celebrated coenobitical fraternities, the Greek ecclesiastical writers, and various other points upon which one who had been so long resident in Asia and Egypt would be capable of imparting information. The intelligence thus obtained proved so interesting, that the learned traveller was earnestly solicited to gratify curiosity still further, by translating into Latin some of those productions to which he had been in the habit of referring most frequently. With this request, not foreseeing the storm he was about to excite, he willingly complied, and accordingly published translations of the Apology for Origen by Pamphilus. and of the books of Origen Περὶ ἀρχῶν, together with an original tract De Adulteratione Librorum Origenis, while in the preface to the De Principiis, either from a wish to avoid any misconception of his own views, or from some feeling of lurking malice, he quoted the panegyric pronounced by Jerome upon Origen, of which we have made mention above. The appearance of these works produced a violent ferment. Pammachius and Oceanus represented the transaction in the most unfavorable light to Jerome, whose wrath blazed forth more hotly than ever; all attempts to bring about a better understanding served only, from the bad faith of the negotiators, to feed the flame; a bitter correspondence followed, which was crowned by the Apologia of the one ad versus Hieronymam, and the Apologia of the other ad versus Rufinum.

Soon after the commencement of the dispute Rufinus retired to Aquileia, and during the life of Siricius, was steadily supported by the pontifical court. But, upon the elevation of Anastasius, he was summoned by the new pope to repair to Rome, for the purpose of answering the charges preferred against his orthodoxy : this mandate, however, he evaded, and, instead of appearing in person, transmitted an Apologia, in which he explains his real views, and altogether disavows any participation in the dangerous doctrines imputed to him by his enemies. Anastasius replied by an epistle, in which he condemned, most unequivocally,the tenets of Origen, and censured indirectly the rashness of his translator, without, however, seeking further to disturb him in his retreat. After the death of Anastasius in 402, the flames which had raged furiously for upwards of three years, gradually became more faint, and at length expired altogether, Rufinus remaining at Aquileia, under the protection of Chromatius, busily employed in literary labours, until A. D. 408, when he returned to Pinetum. From thence, upon the invasion of Italy by Alaric, he fled to Sicily, where he died soon after, in 410. In allusion to the place of his decease, his great adversary, whose hostility endured beyond the grave, composed the following epitaph :-- "Scorpius inter Enceladum et Porphyrium Trinacriae humo ponitur."


The extant works of Rufinus must be separated into two classes :-- A. Original Compositions, and, B. Translations from the Greek, those belonging to the latter division being the more voluminous.

A. Original Compositions


A sort of Epilogus or supplement to the translation of the Apology for Origen by Pamphilus. It is dedicated to a monk Macarius, at whose urgent request that translation was undertaken, and is intended to prove that many of the false doctrines ascribed to Origen did not in reality proceed from that father, but were deductions from corruptions and interpolations of his genuine text.


This tract will be found appended to the Apology in the fifth volume of the Benedictine edition of Jerome.


an attempt to interpret the prophecy of Jacob regarding the destinies of his sons, contained in the forty-ninth chapter of Genesis.


This piece will be found under its best form in the edition of Rufinus commenced by Vallarsi,but not continued beyond the first volume, which appeared at Verona, fol. 1745.

III. and IV.

In these two polemical pieces Rufinus seeks, in the first place, to establish his own orthodoxy beyond suspicion, and in the second place, to rebut and retort the injurious statements of his opponents, especially of Jerome, whom he imitates too closely in violence and want of charity.


Both will be found in the Benedictine edition of Hieronymus, and in that of Vallarsi.


The biographies of thirty-three holy men, who passed a life of sanctity and solitude in the desert of Nitria. The collection was long ascribed to Jerome, and when, from the words of Jerome himself, this was proved to be impossible, it was assigned to various authors by different critics : but, from a passage in the Historia Ecclesiastica (11.4, see below), it is evident that Rufinus must be regarded either as the compiler of the lives, or as the translator from some Greek original.


The best edition is that by Rostveyd, fol. Antv. 1615, reprinted fol. Lugdun. 1617, and fol. Antv. 1628.


An explanation of the Apostles' Creed.


It is contained in the first volume of the edition of Rufinus commenced by Vallarsi, fol. Veron. 1745.


This work belongs partly to the first and partly to the second of the two divisions laid down above, since the first nine books are a loose translation of the ten books of the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius, while the tenth and eleventh are a continuation by Rufinus himself, embracing a history of the Church, from the commencement of the Arian heresy down to the death of Theodosius.


The best edition is that by Cacciari, 2 vols. 4to. Rom. 1740.

B. Translations from the Greek



inserted in the Codex Regularum, &c. of Holstenius, 4to. Rom. 1661, reprinted at Vienna, fol. 1759.



These will be found in the edition of St. Basil, published at Paris by Gamier, in 1722, vol. ii. p. 713.



to be found in all the best editions of Origen and Jerome.

IV. and V.


The whole of the above translations will be found in all the editions of Origen.



first published by Johannes Adelphus, at Strasburg, 4to., 1508, and included in the Latin translation of the whole works of Gregory, by Mosellanus and Pirckheimerus, printed at Leipzig, 8vo. 1522.


a series of moral Apophthegms, the author of which was altogether uncertain, even in the age of Rufinus, since by some they were supposed to be the production of Sextius the Stoic, named by Seneca, by others of a Pythagorean, by others of Sixtus II., who was bishop of Rome, and suffered martyrdom in A. D. 258. A collection of this nature is peculiarly open to interpolation, and hence it is little surprising that the MSS. should present variations quite irreconcileable. It is not improbable that the reflections of some heathen philosopher may have formed the groundwork, that these were modified and adapted to Christianity by Rufinus and others, and that transcribers from time to time made such alterations and additions as suited their own views and tastes.


The best edition is that of Urbanus Godofredus Siberus, 4to. Lips. 1725.

VIII. , ,

These three tracts are generally believed to be the "Opuscula" of Evagrius which Jerome, in his letter to Ctesiphon, mentions as having been translated by Rufinus, and to which Gennadius also makes allusions (cc. xi. and xvii.), although doubtfully and indistinctly.


These three tracts will be found in the appendix to the Codex Regularum. &c., of Holstenius, 4to. Rom. 1661,


of which the original was attributed to Clemens Romanus. [CLEMENS ROMANUS.]



first published, front a MS., by Aegidius Bucherius, in his De Doctrina Temporum, fol. Antv. 1634.

Translations from Origen frequently ascribed to Rufinus

The following translations from Origen frequently ascribed to Rufinus, are of doubtful authenticity : -- Homiliae VII. in Matthaeum; Homilia in Johannem; De Maria Maria Magdalena; De Epiphania Domini.

Works erroneously ascribed to Rufinus

The following works have been erroneously ascribed to Rufinus : -- Versio Origenis Homiliarum in Lucamn, which belongs to Jerome; Versio Josephi Operum, which belongs to Ambrose; Commentarii in LXXV. priores Davidis Psalmos; in Oseamn, Joteltem, Amnos; Vita S. Eutgeniae; Libellus de Fide brevior; Libellus de Fide fusior.

Lost Works

The following works by Rufinus have been lost : Epistola ad Hierotymum, in reply to the first part of Jerome's Apologia; Epistolae ad Aniciam Falconiam Probam ; some translations from Latin into Greek.


The style of Rufinus is remarkably perspicuous, and, although tinged with the corruptions of his age, is far removed from barbarism. His original works do not indicate commanding genius, nor indeed are the subjects such as to admit of much display, while his merits as a translator rank very low, since all his efforts in this department are characterised by extreme inaccuracy. Indeed his object seems to have been rather to convey a general idea of the meaning of an author than faithfully to represent his words, and he does not hesitate to expand, condense, correct, or omit such passages as seemed to him obscure, diffuse, inaccurate or unnecessary, although we cannot with justice accuse him of wilful distortion or suppression. Into the merits of the controversy with Jerome, to which perhaps he owes his chief celebrity. it is unnecessary to enter. It redounded to the praise of neither party, but the latter was undoubtedly the aggressor, the motives of the attack were probably unworthy, and the coarse invective in which it was couched excites no feeling except disgust, especially when contrasted with the hyperbolical praises lavished by him not long before upon the same individual.

No complete impression of the works of Rufinus having ever been published, we have noticed the best edition of each piece separately.

Further Information

The events connected with the life of Rufinus have been investigated, with great industry and learning, by Giusto Fontanini, archbiship of Ancyra, in his Historia Literaria Aquileiensis, 4to. Rom. 1742, and by J. F. B. Maria de Rubeis, in his Dissertationes Duae, 4to., Venet. 1745; to which we may add the notices prefixed to the edition by Cacciari of the Historia Ecclesiastica, and the recent dissertation bv J. H. Marzuttini, entitled De Turanii Rufini Presbyteri Aquileiensis Fide et Religione, 8vo. Patav. 1835; see also Schröck, Kirchengeschichte, vol. x. p. 121; Schönemann, Bill. Patrum Latt. vol. 1.27; Bähr, Geschichte der Röm. Litterat. suppl. Band. 2te Abtheil. § § 95-98.

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