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The Donatist ChurchA Movement of Protest in Roman North Africa$
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W. H. C. Frend

Print publication date: 1985

Print ISBN-13: 9780198264088

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198264088.001.0001

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The Rule of Optatus and Gildo a.d. 386–98

The Rule of Optatus and Gildo a.d. 386–98

(p.208) XIV The Rule of Optatus and Gildo A.D. 386–98
The Donatist Church

W. H. C. Frend

Oxford University Press

Two appointments in no way connected with each other opened the decisive period of strife between the Catholics and the Donatists. In 386, the Emperor Theodosius nominated Firmus' younger brother Gild as Comes Africae, and two years later a priest named Optatus was elected Bishop of Thamugadi, the most important Donatist bishopric in southern Numidia. By A.D. 396 Gild and Optatus were allies in an attempt to impose the extreme doctrines of Numidian Donatism on all North Africa. In 398, they were joint leaders of a revolt against Honorius, which if successful might have led to the transfer of the allegiance of the African provinces from Ravenna to Constantinople. The new Bishop of Thamugadi did not take long to show his true colours. Optatus represented the arrogant fanaticism of Numidian Donatism, and was himself bent on accomplishing social as well as religious revolution by violent means.

Keywords:   Numidia, Comes Africae, Thamugadi, Donarism, North Africa, fanaticism

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