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1. An early ecclesiastical writer of considerable eminence, but whose real history is so uncertain, that almost every leading point of it is much disputed. He appears to have lived early in the third century ; and the statement commonly received for a long time was, that he was bishop of Portus Romanus (the harbour of Rome), at the mouth of the Tiber (for which the Paschal Chronicle is one of the earliest authorities, if not the earliest), and that he suffered martyrdom under Alexander Severus, or about his time, being drowned in a ditch or pit full of water. That his learning was great, and his writings numerous, we have the testimony of Eusebius and Jerome, the earliest writers who speak of him. They both speak of him as a bishop, but without naming his see (for the passage in the Chronica of Eusebius, in which he is called ἐπίσκοπος Πόρτου τοῦ κατὰ Ῥώμην, is evidently corrupt), and Jerome expressly asserts that he could not ascertain it. His episcopal dignity, in the common understanding of the word ἐπίσκοπος, is disputed by C. A. Heumann, who contends that he was " praefectus " of the port of Ostia; but we are not aware that this opinion has found any supporters. (Heumann, Primitiae Gotting. No. xvii. p. 239.)

As Eusebius thrice mentions Hippolytus, in immediate connection with Beryllus, bishop of Bostra in Arabia, it is contended by Le Moyne, Assemani (Bibl. Orient. vol. iii. p. i. c. vii. p. 15), and others, that Hippolytus was also an Arabian bishop, and Le Moyne contends that he was a native of that country. In the treatise De Duabus Naturis, generally regarded as a work of pope Gelasius I. [GELASIUS, No. 3], he is called " Arabiae Metropolita," but this, so far as his metropolitan rank is concerned, is an error, the probable origin of which is pointed out by Basnage. The ignorance of Jerome as to his see, and the mistake of Gelasius as to his dignity, render it very unlikely that he was bishop of any place in the immediate neighbourhood of Rome, still less of Rome itself, as Leontius of Byzantium, and Anastasius Sinaita, appear to have held. The fact of his works being in the Greek language increases the improbability of his being an Italian bishop, or of his belonging at all to the west of Europe; though the instances of Clement of Rome and Irenaeus prevent this argument from being quite conclusive. That he was an Arabian, at least an Eastern bishop, is most likely ; but the opinion of Le Moyne and others, that he was bishop of the city in the territory of Adana, which was the great emporium of the Roman trade (Philostorg. H. E. 3.4), and was therefore called Portus Romanus, is very questionable. Its only support is the subsequent currency of the belief that Hippolytus was bishop of the Portus Romanus, near Rome; but this belief is more likely to have gained ground from the mouth of the Tiber, or its vicinity, being the scene of Hippolytus's martyrdom.

The time in which he lived is determined by Eusebius, who places him in the early part of the third century; and whose statement leads us to reject the account of Palladius (Hist. Lausiac. 100.148, apud Bibl. Patr. vol. xiii. p. 104, ed. Paris, 1654) and Cyril of Scythopolis (Vita S. Euthymii apud Cotelerius, Eccl. Graec. Monum. vol. iv. p. 82) that he was acquainted with the apostles. Photius makes him a disciple of Irenaeus, which may be true; the same may be said of the statement of Baronius, who " had read somewhere " that he was a disciple of Clement of Alexandria; a statement repeated by some moderns (Semler, Hist. Eccles. Selecta Capita, vol. i. p. 73), but supported by no other appeal to ancient authority than the very indistinct one of Baronius. Photius says that Hippolytus was an intimate friend and admirer of Origen, whom he induced to become a commentator on the Scriptures, and for whose use he maintained at his own cost seven amanuenses or clerks, to write from his dictation, ταχύγρυφοι, and as many others (γράφοντες εἰς κάλλος) to write out a fair transcript. But although the acquaintance of Hippolytus with Origen is confirmed by the assertion of Hippolytus himself, who stated (according to Jerome) that he had Origen among his hearers when preaching, the other particulars given by Photius are founded on a misunderstanding of a passage in Jerome, who asserts that Ambrosius of Alexandria, a Marcionite, whom Origen had converted, induced by the reputation which Hippolytus had acquired as a commentator, engaged Origen in the exposition of Scripture, and supplied him with the amanuenses already described.

The martyrdom of Hippolytus is not mentioned by Eusebius; but Jerome calls him martyr (Praef. ad Matthaeum); and Photius and subsequent writers commonly so designate him. His name is found in the Roman, Greek, Coptic, and Abyssinian martyrologies; but the variations in the calendars are such, that we must suppose them to record the martyrdom of several Hippolyti. Prudentius, a Christian poet of the earlier part of the fifth century, has a long poem (Liber περὶ Στεφάνων, seu De Coronis: Hymn. ix.) on the martyrdom of Hippolytus; but this is a different person from the subject of the present article, unless we suppose, with some critics, that Prudentius has confused three Hippolyti, and made them one. The date of the martyrdom of our Hippolytus is doubtful. Alexander Severus, under whom it has been commonly placed, was not a persecutor; and if we suppose, with some of the best critics, that the Exhortatorius ad Severinam, enumerated among the writings of Hippolytus, is the work noticed by Theodoret as addressed πρὸς Βασιλίδα τινά " to a certain queen " or " empress, " and that Severina was the wife of the emperor Philip the Arabian, we must bring his death down to the persecution of Decius (about A. D. 250), if not later; in which case Hippolytus, if a disciple of Irenaeus, who died in or near A. D. 190, must have been a very old man. The place of his martyrdom was probably near Rome, perhaps the mouth of the Tiber or the adjacent sea, and the mode drowning, with a stone round his neck. In this case he must have left the East and come to Rome; and there may be some truth in the statement of Peter Damiani, cardinal bishop of Ostia, near Rome, a writer of the eleventh century (Opera, vol. iii. p. 217, Opuscul. 19.100.7, ed. Paris, 1743), that after converting many of the Saracens (a circumstance which accords with the supposition that his diocese was in Arabia) he resigned his bishopric, came from the East to Rome, where he suffered martyrdom by drowning, and was buried by the pious care of his fellow-Christians. In 1551 the statue of a man seated in a monastic habit, and with a shaven crown, was dug up in the neighbourhood of Rome; some of our authorities say near a church of St. Laurence, others say of St. Hippolytus (perhaps the church was dedicated to both, as their names are united in the Martyrologies): on the sides of the seat were inscribed the Canon of Hippolytus, and a list of his works. Three plates of the statue are given in the edition of the works of Hippolytus published by Fabricius.

In the Acta of a council held at Rome under pope Sylvester,A. D. 324 (Labbe, Concilia, vol. i. col. 1547, &c.), the deacon Hippolytus was condemned for the Valentinian heresy. It is very doubtful if this is our Hippolytus, who was so far from being a Valentinian, that Epiphanius mentions him (Panar. Haeres. 31.100.33), with Irenaeus and Clement, as having written against them. The Acta are so corrupt, if indeed they are not spurious, that they cannot be relied on; and if the memory of our Hippolytus (for he himself had been long dead) incurred any censure at the council, it was probably for differing from the Roman church in the calculation of Easter, to which subject he had given great attention.


Several of the works of Hippolytus are enumerated by Eusebius, Jerome, and Photius, and are known by citations in ancient writers.


Various portions of the works of Hipplytus are extant, most of which were collected and published by J. A. Fabricius, under the title of S. Hippolyti Episcopi et Martyris Opera, 2 vols. fol. Hamb. 1716-18. Mills, the editor of the N. T., had contemplated an edition of Hippolytus, and after his death his papers were transmitted to Jo. Wil. Janus, of Wittemburg, who was also prevented by death from bringing out the work. The collections of Mills and Janus contained some pieces or fragments not included by Fabricius; and further collections appear to have been made by Grabe and others. The genuineness of the extant writings of Hippolytus has been disputed. Semler doubts the genuineness of the whole; and Oudin and Mills (Proleg. ad N. T. p. lxii.) of nearly the whole.

The extant works and fragments were reprinted by Gallandius (Bibl. Pair. vol. ii. fol. Venet. 1766), who arranges them in the following order :--

1. Ἀπόδειξις περὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ Ἀντιχρίστου

Ἀπόδειξις περὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ Ἀντιχρίστου, Demonstratio de Christo et Antichristo. This was first published by Marquardus Gudius, 8vo. Paris, 1661, and was given by Combéfis in his Auctar. Novissim. vol. i. fol. Paris, 1672, with a Latin version, which was reprinted in the Biblioth. Pair. vol. xxvii. ed. Lyon. 1677. Mills makes this work the only exception to his judgment that the extant works of Hippolytus are spurious: he admits that it is " perhaps " genuine. The work published with a Latin version by Joannes Picus as a work of Hippolytus, Περὶ τῆς συντελείας τοῦ κόσμου καὶ περὶ τοῦ Ἀντιχρίστου καὶ εἰς τὴν δευτέραν παρουσίαν τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, De Consummatione Mundi et de Antichristo, et secundo advent Domini nostri Jesu Christi, is pronounced by Combéfis to be spurious, and as such is, in the edition of Fabricius, given in an Appendix to the first vol. The work of Hippolytus, De Antichristo, is mentioned by Jerome and Photius.

2. Εἰς τὴν Σωσάνναν

Εἰς τὴν Σωσάνναν, In Susannam. This was also published by Combéfis, as above, with a Latin version, which was reprinted in the Biblioth. Patrum, with the foregoing. It is apparently part of the commentary on Daniel mentioned by Jerome, of which some other parts remain. Hippolytus interprets the history of Susanna allegorically: Susanna is a type of the church.

3. Ἀποδεικτικὴ πρὸς Ἰουδαίους

Ἀποδεικτικὴ πρὸς Ἰουδαίους Demonstratio adversus Judaeos. Fabricius gave in his 1st vol. a Latin version of this fragment, by Franciscus Turrianus, which Possevinus had printed (Appar. Sac. vol. i. p. 763, &c.), and in his 2nd vol. the original Greek, which Montfaucon had communicated to him. As the piece appears to be a paraphrase of Psalm lxix. Fabricius suspects it is part of Hippolytus's Commentary on the Psalms.

4. Πρὸς Ἑλληνας λόγος

Πρὸς Ἑλληνας λόγος This is only a fragment. Its authorship is claimed for Hippolytus, on the authority of the inscription on his statue, where it is called Πρὸς ῞ελληνας καὶ πρὸς Πλατῶνα ῍η καὶ περὶ τοῦ παντός. It was published by Hoeschelius in his notes to Photius, and by Le Moyne in his Varia Sacra, as well as by Fabricius. It appears to be the work described by Photius, under the title Περὶ τοῦ παντός, or Περὶ τῆς τοῦ παντὸς αἰτίας or παντὸς οὐσίας. Its authorship was in his time very doubtful. At the head of his Codex (No. 48) it was called a work of Josephus ; but he says it was variously ascribed to Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Caius, to which last he himself attributes it. The genuineness of this fragment is admitted by Oudin.

5. Εἰς τὴν αἵρεσιν Νοέτου τινός

Εἰς τὴν αλ̔́ρεσιν Νοέτου τινός, Contra Haeresin Noeti. This is probably the concluding portion of his work Πρὸς ἁπάσας τὰς αἱρέσεις, Adversus omnes Haereses, mentioned by Eusebius and Jerome, and described by Photius as directed against thirty-two heresies, beginning with the Dositheans, and ending with Noetus, the contemporary of Hippolytus.

6. Κατὰ Βήρωνος καὶ Ἥλικος τῶν αἱρετικῶν περὶ θεολογίας καὶ σαρκώσεως

Κατὰ Βήρωνος καὶ Ἥλικος τῶν αἱρετικῶν περὶ θεολογίας καὶ σαρκώσεως, De Theologia et Incarnatione contra Beronem et Heliconem (s. Helicem) haereticos. The eight fragments given by Gallandius of this work, which is perhaps another portion of the work against heresies, are preserved by Nicephorus of Constantinople, in his Antirrhetica contra Iconomachos, and were first published in a Latin version in the Lectiones Antiquae of Canisius, vol. v. p. 154 (4to. Ingolstadt, 1604), and in Greek by Sirmond, in his Collectanea Anastasü Bibliothecarü, 8vo. Paris, 1620. These pieces form the pars prima of the writings of Hippolytus given by Gallandius.

The second part contains the following works:


Fragmenta ex Commentario in Genesin, printed by Fabricius from a MS. in the Imperial Library at Vienna.


Fragmenta ex Commentarüs in varios Sacrae Scripturae Libros, viz. in Hexäemeron, in Genesin, in Numeros, in Psalmos, in Psalm II., in Psalm XXIII., in Proverbia, in Canticum Canticorum, in Isaiam, in Danielem, and in Canticum Trium Puerorum. These fragments were collected by Fabricius from MSS. or from the citations ancient writers. The expository writings of Hippolytus are mentioned by Eusebius and Jerome, from whom we learn that he wrote several other expositions besides those mentioned above.


Fragmenta alia, from the work Adversus Haereses, from the work Περὶ τοῦ ἁγίου Πάσχα, De Sancto Pascha, mentioned by Eusebius and Jerome; and from the Πρὸς βασιλίδα τινὰ ἐπιστολή, Epistola ad quamdam Reginam, which is thought to be the Προτρεπτικὸς πρὸς Σεβήρειναν, Exhortatorius ad Severinam, of the inscription on the statue.

11. Περὶ χαρισμάτων ἀποστολικὴ παράδοσις

Περὶ χαρισμάτων ἀποστολικὴ παράδοσις, De Charismatibus Apostolica traditio, and some extracts from the Constitutiones Apostolicae, lib. viii. The authorship of these pieces is claimed for Hippolytus on the authority of the inscription on his statue, and of some MSS.


Narratio de Virgine Corinthiaca et de quodam Magistriano, from Palladius (Hist. Lausiac. 100.148).


Canon Paschalis, or Table for Calculating Easter, together with a catalogue of the works of Hippolytus, from the inscription on the statue. The Paschal Cycle of Hippolytus was of sixteen years. The table appears to have been part of his work Περὶ τοῦ πάσχα, mentioned by Eusebius, and of which an extract is given among the Fragmenta mentioned in No. 10. The canon of Hippolytus has been illustrated by the labours of Joseph Scaliger, Dionysius Petavius, by Franciscus Blanchinius, and others.

Dubious Works

The fragment of the Commentary of Hippolytus on Genesis, published by Fabricius, from an Arabic Catena, in Syriac characters, from a MS. in the Bodleian Library, with a Latin version by Gagnier, is rejected by Gallandius as not belonging to the subject of this article; and the short pieces, Περὶ τῶν ιβ́ ἀποστόλων, De Duodecim Apostolis, and Περὶ τῶν ό ἀποστόλων, De Septuaginta Apostolis, given by Fabricius in the appendix to his first volume, are either of doubtful genuineness or confessedly spurious.

There were several other works of Hippolytus enumerated by Jerome and other ancient writers now lost.

Further Information

Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 6.20, 22, 23; and Chronic. lib. ii.; Hieronym. De Viris Illust. 100.61 ; Phot. Bibl. Cod. 48, 121, 202; Chron. Paschal, p. 6, ed. Paris, vol. i. p. 12, ed. Bonn; Le Moyne, Diatribe de Hippolyto in the Prolegomena to his Varia Sacra ; Baron. Annal. ad ann. 229, iv. ; Tillemont, Mém. vol. iii. p. 238, &c.; Lardner, Credibility, &c., pt. 2.100.35; Oudin, Comment. de Scriptor. Eccles. vol. i. p. 220, &c.; Basnage, Animadversiones de S. Hippolyto, prefixed to his edition of Canisius, Lect. Antiq. ; Fabric. Bibl. Gr. vol. vii. p. 183, &c., and Proleg. and Notes to his edit. of Hippolytus; Cave, Hist. Litt. vol. i p. 102, &c. ed. Oxon, 1740-1743; Galland. Bibl. Patrum, vol. ii. Prolegom. c. xviii.)

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