Arnobius the Elder

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Early modern fantasy picture of Arnobius

Arnobius (the elder, also Arnobius Afer ; † around 330) was a rhetorician in Sicca Veneria in Numidia around the year 300 . The semi-Pelagian church writer Arnobius the Younger , bishop in Gaul around 450, should not be confused with him.


Arnobius was probably of Berber descent and came from what is now Le Kef in Tunisia. At first he was a zealous opponent of Christianity ; but through a dream face he is said to have found the Christian faith. Since the bishop did not believe his sudden change of heart and did not want to accept him into the Christian community, shortly after the persecution of Christians under Diocletian , Arnobius wrote his apology Disputationes adversus gentes , also known as Adversus nationes , to prove his faith. Hieronymus mentions Arnobius as the teacher of the rhetorician and church father Lactantius .


A detailed description of his allegory of the cave, as well as the history of its impact and how it differs from that of Plato or Aristotle , can be found in Hans Blumenberg's “Cave Exits”.


Commons : Arnobius the Elder  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Arnobius  - Sources and full texts (Latin)
  • Editio princeps: Disputationum adversus gentes libri VIII: Nunc primum in lucem editi , Rome, 1542, digitized version of the Bavarian State Library . The 8th book is about the mistakenly attributed to Arnobius Octavius of Minucius Felix .
  • Adversus Nationes Libri VII ( online at The Latin Library )
  • The Afrikaner's Arnobius seven books against the heathen. Edited by Franz von Besnard. Vogel'sche Verlagbuchhandlung, 1842 ( online ).
  • Arnobius: Against the Heathen. Translated by Hamilton Bryce and Hugh Campbell. In: Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, A. Cleveland Coxe (Eds.): Ante-Nicene Fathers . Volume 6, Christian Literature Publishing Co., Buffalo (NY) 1886 ( ).
  • Arnobius: Seven Books Against the Heathens. Trans. Christian Classics Ethereal Library ( online at IntraText Digital Library ).
  • Opera Omnia on Documenta Catholica Omnia , source texts (Latin, English)