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Sentences of Sextus

A collection of 451 Greek religious and ethical maxims compiled in the late second/early third century by an unknown Christian, largely from Pythagorean material partly Christianized. The compilation reflects a Hellenizing or paganizing of Christianity. Origen cited it as a Christian work and attested its popularity, and about a.d. 400 Rufinus* of Aquileia translated it into Latin under the title The Ring (Anulus) recording the “traditional” ascription to Pope Xystus II (d.258). This version was widely read, e.g., by Pelagius, but condemned as Pythagorean paganism by Jerome the anti-Origenist (he earlier quoted it with approval). The Sentences were expanded and translated also into Syriac, Armenian, and Georgian. They appealed chiefly to ascetic and monastic circles committed to Christian perfection.