Sesto Giulio Africano
Sextus Iulius Africanus

Sextus Julius Africanus was a Christian traveller and historian of the 3rd century AD. He was probably born in Libya and may have served under Septimius Severus against the Osrhoenians in 195. Little is known of his personal history, except that he lived at Emmaus, and that he went on an embassy to the emperor Elagabalus to ask for the restoration of the town, which had fallen into ruins. His mission succeeded, and Emmaus was henceforward known as Nicopolis. Dionysius bar Salibi says he was a bishop, but the author of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica article doubts that he was even a presbyter.


He wrote a history of the world (Chronografíai, in five books) from Creation to the year AD 221, covering, according to his computation, 5723 years. He calculated the period between Creation and Jesus as 5500 years, placing the Incarnation on the first day of AM 5501 (our modern March 25, 1 BC), according to Venance Grumel, La Chronologie (1958). This method of reckoning led to several Creation eras being used in the Greek Eastern Mediterranean, which all placed Creation within one decade of 5500 BC.

The history, which had an apologetic aim, is no longer extant, but copious extracts from it are to be found in the Chronicon of Eusebius, who used it extensively in compiling the early episcopal lists. There are also fragments in George Syncellus, Cedrenus and the Chronicon Paschale. Eusebius (Church History i. 7; vi. 31) gives some extracts from his letter to one Aristides, reconciling the apparent discrepancy between Matthew and Luke in the genealogy of Christ by a reference to the Jewish law of Levirate marriage, which compelled a man to marry the widow of his deceased brother, if the latter died without issue. His terse and pertinent letter to Origen impugning the authority of the part of the Book of Daniel that tells the story of Susanna, and Origen's wordy and uncritical answer, are both extant.

The ascription to Africanus of an encyclopaedic work entitled Kestoí (embroidered girdles), treating of agriculture, natural history, military science, etc., has been needlessly disputed on account of its secular and often credulous character. August Neander suggested that it was written by Africanus before he had devoted himself to religious subjects. A fragment of the Kestoí was found in the Oxyrhynchus papyri.

References - This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

Sextus Iulius Africanus

Sextus Iulius Africanus (post annum 221 mortuus) fuit historicus et paradoxographus, nomine Romanus, Graece scribens, cuius opus nunc est pro maiore parte deperditum. Exstant in Geoponicis Constantino Porphyrogenito dicatis, et in Fragmentis Anatolii de bubus in corpore Hippiatricorum servatis nonnulla excerpta "e Paradoxis Africani" dempta.


Cesti (partim servati)
Chronographiae a creatione mundi usque ad annum 221 productae

Index fragmentorum

Fragmenta Anatolii de bubus in corpore Hippiatricorum servata[ E. Oder, K. Hoppe, Corpus hippiatricorum Graecorum vol. 2 (Lipsiae, 1927) vol. 2 pp. 330-336.]
Fragmentum a Zosimo servatum.
Geoponica 1.15-16 et fortasse 1.14: de grandine et fulmine.
Geoponica 2.7, 18, 28: de satione.
Geoponica 4.2: de vitibus arbustivis.
Geoponica 5.24, 30, 48.
Geoponica 7.9, 14.
Geoponica 9.8, 14 (citatur Florentinus).
Geoponica 10.9, 16, 30, 36, 49, 53, 55, 59, 66, 82.
Geoponica 12.11, 38.
Geoponica 13.3, 13, 18.
Geoponica 14.3, 10, 15.
Geoponica 17.6, 11.
Geoponica 18.4, 12.
Fragmenta a Psello servata [ Westermann (1839) pp. 143-146


W. Reichardt, Die Briefe des Sextus Julius Africanus an Aristides und Origenes. Lipsiae: Hinrichs, 1909. ([Texte und Untersuchungen vol. 34.3.)

F. C. R. Thee, Julius Africanus and the Early Christian View of Magic. Tübingen, 1984.

J.-R. Vieillefond, Les "Cestes" de Julius Africanus. Florentiae: Sansoni, 1970.

Paradoxographoi ed. A. Westermann. Londinii, 1839.