Optatus

, bishop of Melevia, a town of Numidia in Africa, flourished in the fourth century, under the empire of Valentinian and Valens. He wrote his very able and judicious treatise on the schism of the Donatists about the year 370, against Parmenian, bishop of that sect. We know nothing of the particulars of his life. He is commended by Austin, Jerom, and Fulgentius. In Jerom’s time his work was divided into six books, to which a seventh was subjoined, from the additions which Optatus had made to his other books. This author has been published several times: the last, in 1700, by Dupin, who has settled the text from four manuscripts. He has also put short notes, with various readings, at the bottom of the page; and at the end inserted the notes of Badoubin, Casaubon, Barthius, and other former editors, together with a collection of all the acts of councils and episcopal conferences, letters of bishops, edicts of emperors, proconsular acts, and acts of martyrs, which any way regard the history of the Donatists, disposed in a chronological order, from the first rise of the sect to the time of Gregory the Great. There is also a preface, containing an account of the writings of Optatus, with their several editions; and two dissertations, one containing the “History of the Donatists,” and the other upon “The sacred Geography of Africa.” This is the best edition of Optatus, whose work shews him to have been a man of parts, improved by study, and had he chosen a more useful subject, would have | probably appeared to greater advantage among the writers of his age. 1

1

Cave, vol. I. Dupin.