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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
This page is about Cyprian, bishop of Carthage. For other Cyprians, see Cyprian (disambiguation).

Saint Cyprian (Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus) (died September 14, 258) was bishop of Carthage and an important early Christian writer. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received an excellent classical education. After converting to Christianity, he became a bishop (249) and eventually died a martyr at Carthage.


Besides a number of epistles, which are partly collected with the answers of those to whom they were written, Cyprian wrote a number of treatises, some of which have also the character of pastoral letters.

His most important work is his "De unitate ecclesiae." In it, it states: "He can no longer have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother; . . . he who gathereth elsewhere than in the Church scatters the Church of Christ" (vi.); "nor is there any other home to believers but the one Church" (ix.).

The following works are of doubtful authenticity: "De spectaculis" ("On public games"); "De bono pudicitiae" ("The virtue of modesty"); "De idolorum vanitate" ("On the vanity of images", which may perhaps be by Novatian); "De laude martyrii" ("In praise of martyrs"); "Adversua aleatores" ; "De montibus Sina et Sion"; and the "Cena Cypriani" ("Cyprian's Banquet", which enjoyed wide circulation in the Middle Ages). The treatise entitled "De duplici martyrio ad Fortunatum" was not only published for the only time by Erasmus, but was probably also composed by him and fathered upon Cyprian.

His self-denial and moderation have been admired. He was the type of a prince of the Church. As a writer, however, he was in general by no means original or especially deep.

See also

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