Dioscorus

d. 454. Patriarch of Alexandria from 444 to 451. The successor of Cyril, he became a leading figure in the Monophysite controversy. In 444 he had accused Theodoret* of Nestorianism, and when Eutyches was accused by Theodoret and others of the opposite error, he came to his aid. With the help of Chrysaphius, Dioscorus persuaded Theodosius II to call a council at Ephesus in 449 which, with Dioscorus presiding, declared Eutyches orthodox and deposed Theodoret and others, including Flavian of Constantinople. Following the death of Theodosius, the new rulers, Pulcheria and Marcian, leaned to the other side. Another synod was held at Constantinople (450) under Flavian's successor, Anatolius. Leo's Tome was read and received with acclamation and many of Dioscorus's victims were rehabilitated. But when a new council was called for Nicea, Dioscorus, supported by ten Egyptian bishops, excommunicated Leo. The site for this council was subsequently changed by Marcian to Chalcedon, where it assembled in 451. Presided over by the four papal legates and with imperial officers acting as secretaries, it deposed Dioscorus and exiled him. Many of the charges brought against him at Chalcedon were prompted by vindictiveness, but probably not all of them. His great ability was perverted by his great power. There is little of what remains of his writings that cannot be interpreted as orthodox. His deposition permanently divided Egyptian Christians. The majority continued to venerate Dioscorus and to repudiate Chalcedon. This remains the position of the Coptic Church* today.