Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Dionysius Exiguus

  • John M. McMahonEmail author
Reference work entry

BornScythia Minor (Dobrudscha, Romania), mid to late fifth century

Diedpossibly Rome, (Italy), before 556

Dionysius, a monk of Scythian (or Gothic) birth educated in the ecclesiastical tradition on the west coast of the Black Sea, came to Rome sometime after 496, perhaps having earlier resided in Constantinople. Self-styled Exiguus (“the Slight”) out of intellectual humility, he was nevertheless an important figure in the canon law, theology, and computistics of Late Antiquity. Skilled in both Latin and Greek, Dionysius was instrumental in the translation of numerous Greek texts into Latin, including documents from the Church councils of Nicaea (325) and Chalcedon (451), along with a wide variety of theological treatises and ecclesiastical records. He was highly regarded by his contemporaries, especially by his friend  Cassiodorus.

Despite his monumental work in the ecclesiastical sphere, Dionysius is best remembered for his reworking of the Christian calendar. Petitioned by many...

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Selected References

  1. Declercq, G. (2000). Anno Domini: The Origins of the Christian Era. Turnhout: Brepols, esp. pp. 97–147.Google Scholar
  2. Duncan, David E. (1998). Calendar: Humanity’s Epic Struggle to Determine a True and Accurate Year. New York: Bard, pp. 71–75.Google Scholar
  3. Migne, J. P. (1865). Patrologia Latina. Vol. 67, cols. 483–508. Paris: Migne (For the Latin texts of Dionysius’s Liber de Paschateand related texts.)Google Scholar
  4. Richards, E. G. (1998). Mapping Time: The Calendar and Its History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 217–218, 350–351.Google Scholar
  5. Teres, Gustav (1984). “Time Computations and Dionysius Exiguus.” Journal for the History of Astronomy15: 177–188.ADSMathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Wallis, Faith (1999). Bede: The Reckoning of Time. 2 Vols. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, pp. liii–lv, 333–338, 347–348.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lemoyne UniversitySyracuseUSA