People - Ancient Rome
Pelagius in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
Probably a native of Britain, who was celebrated as the propagator of those heretical opinions which have derived their name from
him, and which were opposed with great energy by his contemporaries Augustine and Jerome. He first appears in history about the
beginning of the fifth century A.D., when we find him residing at Rome. In the year 409 or 410, when Alaric was threatening Rome,
Pelagius, accompanied by his disciple and ardent admirer Caelestius, passed over to Sicily, from thence proceeded to Africa, and
leaving Caelestius at Carthage, sailed for Palestine. The fame of his sanctity had preceded him, for upon his arrival he was
received with great warmth by St. Jerome and many other distinguished fathers of the Church. Soon afterwards the opinions of
Pelagius were denounced as heretical; and in A.D. 417 Pelagius and Caelestus were anathematized by Pope Innocentius. Their
doctrines included a denial of the tenet of original sin; a belief in the possibility of a sinless life on earth; and a rejection
of the teaching of the Church with regard to grace. Pelagius also believed in the freedom of the human will. The date and
circumstances of his death are not known. A very few only of the numerous treatises of Pelagius have descended to us. They are
printed with the works of St. Jerome. There are special monographs on Pelagius by Wiggers (Eng. tr. Andover, 1840); Jacobi
(1842); Wörter (1866); and Klasen (1882).
Pelagius in Roman Biography
Pe-la'gl-us, [Gr. IbAayioc ; Fr. Pelage, pl'lSzh',] the
founder of the sect of Pelagians, or rather the chief
advocate of a system of doctrines called Pelagianism,
was born probably in Britain. He began to propagate
his doctrines at Rome about 400 A.D., and formed a
friendship with Celestius, who became his ardent disciple.
He was an admirer of Origen, and an adversary of Saint
Augustine in relation to grace and election. Pelagius
rejected the dogmas of original sin and absolute
He maintained that the effects of Adam's first
sin were confined to himself, and that man's salvation
depends on his own exertions. He was condemned by
several councils, and was banished from Italy in 418.
The eminent purity of his life was freely admitted by
his opponents. A system called Semi-Pelagianism prevailed
widely in the middle ages, and has many adherents
at the present day. As the numerous works of Pelagius
are nearly all lost, it is difficult to ascertain exactly
doctrines he taught. His adversaries complained of
the haze of subtle dialectics with which he involved
every subject of dispute. Among his extant works is a
Commentary on the Epistles of Saint Paul."
" Historia Pelagians;" I.. Patouillet, "Vie de
Pelage," 1751 ; Bayi.e,
Historical and Critical Dictionary ;" Saint
Augustine, "De Gratia Christi" and "De Peccato Originali;" "
Nouvelle Biographie Generale.
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Pelagius in Wikipedia
Pelagius (ca. AD 354 – ca. AD 420/440) was an ascetic who denied the doctrine of original sin as developed by Augustine
of Hippo, and was declared a heretic by the Council of Carthage. His interpretation of a doctrine of free will became
known as Pelagianism. He was well educated, fluent in both Greek and Latin, and learned in theology. He spent time as
an ascetic, focusing on practical asceticism, which his teachings clearly reflect. He was certainly well known in Rome,
both for the harsh asceticism of his public life as well as the power and persuasiveness of his speech. His reputation
in Rome earned him praise early in his career even from such pillars of the Church as Augustine, who referred to him as
a "saintly man." However, he was later accused of lying about his own teachings in order to avoid public condemnation.
Most of his later life was spent defending his doctrine against theologians teaching the Catholic Faith. They held that
Catholicism came from the apostles and that Pelagius was spreading novelties in the Faith unknown to the apostolic
Due to his status as a heretic, little of his work has come down to the present day except in the quotes of his
opponents. However, more recently some have defended Pelagius as a misunderstood orthodox...