1. VICTORINUS, bishop of Pettaw on the Drave in Styria, hence distinguished by the epithet Petavionensis,
flourished towards the close of the third century (A. D. 270-290), and suffered martyrdom during the persecution of Diocletian, probably in A. D. 303.
St. Jerome tells us that he understood Greek better than Latin; and that, in consequence, his works, though pregnant with great thoughts, were couched in poor language ; a criticism which has been thought inconsistent with the fact recorded by Cassiodorus that he was originally a rhetorician ( Victorinus, de oratore episcopus, Inst. Div.
The difficulty, however, will be removed if we suppose that Greek was his native language, but that he felt himself constrained to write in Latin, with which he was less conversant, because it was the tongue spoken in the province where he exercised his episcopal functions.
It is to be remarked that this Victorinus was long supposed to have been bishop of Poitiers, an error first dissipated by the dissertation of Launoy, who demonstrated that Petabium
in upper Pannonia, and not Pictavium,
was the see from which he derived his designation.
St. Jerome informs us that he wrote commentaries In Genesin
; In Exodum
; In Leviticum
; In Iesaiam
; In Ezechielem
; In Abacue
; In Ecclesiasten
; In Cantica Canticorum
; In Apocalypsin Joannis adversus omnes haereses
(some editors place a stop after Joannis
and suppose Adversus omnes haereses
to be the name of a separate tract) ; and many other pieces. Of all these it is doubtful whether any one remains.
In the third volume of the Bibliotheca Patrum Maxima
(fol. Lugdun. 1677) we find a Commentarius in Apocalypsin
bearing his name; but the best judges have for the most part either rejected it altogether or regarded it as much altered and interpolated by different hands, both on account of the discrepancies in style which may be here and there detected, and also from the circumstance that the millenarian doctrine is here directly impugned, while we know that it was advocated by Victorinus.
The prologue is given up by all.
The fragment published by Cave (H. L.
vol. i. p. 147), from a MS. in the archiepiscopal library at Lambeth, entitled De Fabrica Mundi,
has, with better reason, been supposed to be an extract from the annotations on Genesis or on the Apocalypse, and here the opinions of the Chiliasts are avowedly supported.
Poems ascribed to Victorinus
Various foundling poems have been fathered upon this Victorinus without any evidence direct or circumstantial.
Such are De Jesu Christo in 137 hexameters and Hymnus de Pascha Domini s. De Ligno Vitae in 70 hexameters, both contained in the collection of Fabricius
The De Cruce Domini found among the works of Cyprian (see Bed. de locis sanct. 100.2.)
The five books Adversus Marcionem generally appended to editions of Tertullian.
Our chief ancient authority for everything connected with Victorinus of Pettaw is St. Jerome, who speaks of him in a great number of passages, e. g. De Viris Ill.
74, comp. 187, Praef. in Iesai., In Ezechl.
100.36, Praef. in Matt., Ad Damas.
vol. ii. p. 569, Ad Paulin.
vol. iv. p. 567, ed. Bened. &c. ; see also Cassiodor. Inst. Div.
5, 7, 9; Lardner, Credibility of Gospel History,
c. lvi.; Schoenemann, Bibl. Patrum Lat.
vol. i. cap. 3.8; Baehr, Geschichte der Röm. Litterat.
Suppl. Band. lte Abtheil. § 14, 2te Abtheil. § 33.