Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Capreolus, bp. of Carthage

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Capreolus, bp. of Carthage, known in connexion with the council of Ephesus, a.d. 431. N. Africa at that time being ravaged by the Vandals under Genseric, it was impossible to convene the bishops to appoint representatives from the church of Carthage at the council. The bishop, however, in his zeal for the catholic doctrine, dispatched an elaborate letter in its defence, which is extant, both in Greek and Latin. There is also extant an other letter by Capreolus on this controversy, written in answer to inquiries addressed to him from Spain, by Vitalis and Constantius. Both letters are in Migne, vol. liii. p. 843. Also a fragment of the letter which he addressed to Theodosius, who convoked the council, is quoted by Ferrandus in his letter to Pelagius and Anatolius, c. 6, Patr. Migne, lxvii. 925. The Sermo de Tempore Barbarico, on the Vandal invasion of Africa, usually attributed to St. Augustine, and other sermons in which Augustine describes the Vandal ravages, are considered by Tillemont (xvi. 502) to have been written by Capreolus (Hardouin, i. 1419–1422; Fleury, xxv. 41; Till. xii. 559, xiii. 901, xiv. 376, 399, xvi. 495, 502, 789), but this is doubtful.

[D.B.]

Tillemont supposes Capreolus to have succeeded to the see of Carthage shortly before the death of Augustine (430), as the letter convoking the council of Ephesus seems to have been addressed to him and to Augustine (xii. 559). Another object of his letter to Ephesus was to implore the council not to re-open the question of the Pelagian heresy. When his letter was read, Cyril and all the bishops exclaimed, "That is what we all say; that is what we all wish," and they ordered it to be inserted in the Acts of the council (Vinc. Lerin. c. 31; Labbe, Conc. iii. 529). He is probably the "priest" in Africa in the time of Aspar, mentioned in the Book of Promises, ascribed to Prosper (i. 4, c. 6).

It is instructive to note the importance that he attaches to the descent of the God-man into Hades. Chaps. 5–12 are taken up with answering the new error. He quotes Ps. xvi. 10; John x. 18; I. Cor. ii. 7, 8; II. Cor. v. 18, 19; Heb. i. 2, 3; Col. ii. 15; Heb. x. 28–30; John xx. 17. He does not quote John xvi. 32, but says (c. 13) that it would be endless to adduce all scripture testimonies. His answer to the argument from Ps. xxii. i is drawn from the latter half of the verse (as it is in the LXX and Vulgate, which are not improbably right), "Far from my health are the words of my failings," and based on the mystery of the union of the two natures, "that human condition should know itself" (c. 5).

The death of Capreolus is generally dated c. a.d. 435. His burial was commemorated in the calendar of Carthage between July 21 and 30; the note of the day is lost.

[E.B.B.]