De Viris Illustribus (Jerome)

De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Men) is a collection of short biographies of 135 authors, written in Latin, by the 4th-century Latin Church Father Jerome. He completed this work at Bethlehem in 392–393 AD.[1] The work consists of a prologue plus 135 chapters, each consisting of a brief biography. Jerome himself is the subject of the final chapter. A Greek version of the book, possibly by the same Sophronius who is the subject of Chapter 134, also survives. Many biographies take as their subject figures important in Christian Church history and pay especial attention to their careers as writers. It "was written as an apologetic work to prove that the Church had produced learned men."[2] The book was dedicated to Flavius Lucius Dexter, who served as high chamberlain to Theodosius I and as praetorian prefect to Honorius. Dexter was the son of Saint Pacianus, who is eulogized in the work.[3]

Jerome by Theodoric of Prague, c. 1370


Listed below are the subjects of Jerome's 135 biographies. The numbers given are the chapter numbers found in editions.

Jerome's account of his own literary careerEdit

At the conclusion of De Viris Illustribus, Jerome provided his own biography as the latest example of the scholarly work of Christians. In Chapter 135, Jerome summarized his career to date:

I, Jerome, son of Eusebius, of the city of Strido, which is on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia and was overthrown by the Goths, up to the present year, that is, the fourteenth of the Emperor Theodosius, have written the following: Life of Paul the monk, one book of Letters to different persons, an Exhortation to Heliodorus, Controversy of Luciferianus and Orthodoxus, Chronicle of universal history, 28 homilies of Origen on Jeremiah and Ezekiel, which I translated from Greek into Latin, On the Seraphim, On Osanna, On the Prudent and the Prodigal Sons, On Three Questions of the Ancient Law, Homilies on the Song of Songs two, Against Helvidius, On the perpetual virginity of Mary, To Eustochius, On Maintaining Virginity, one book of Epistles to Marcella, a consolatory letter to Paula On the Death of a Daughter, three books of Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, likewise three books of Commentaries on the Epistle to the Ephesians, On the Epistle to Titus one book, On the Epistle to Philemon one, Commentaries on Ecclesiastes, one book of Hebrew questions on Genesis, one book On places in Judea, one book of Hebrew names, Didymus on the Holy Spirit, which I translated into Latin one book, 39 homilies on Luke, On Psalms 10 to 16, seven books, On the captive Monk, The Life of the blessed Hilarion. I translated the New Testament from the Greek, and the Old Testament from the Hebrew, and how many Letters I have written To Paula and Eustochium I do not know, for I write daily. I wrote moreover, two books of Explanations on Micah, one book On Nahum, two books On Habakkuk, one On Zephaniah, one On Haggai, and many others On the prophets, which are not yet finished, and which I am still at work upon.[4]



  1. ^ "This work [De viris illustribus], as he reveals at its start and finish, was completed in the fourteenth year of Theodosius, that is, between 19 January 392 and 18th January 393." A. D. Booth, "The Chronology of Jerome's Early Years", Phoenix 35 (1981), p. 241.
  2. ^ Louis Saltet, "St. Jerome," Catholic Encyclopedia, New York: 1910.
  3. ^ "Irondequoit Catholic Communities - - Pacian". Archived from the original on 28 October 2007. Retrieved 30 October 2007.
  4. ^ Jerome, De Viris Illustribus, chapter 135.


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