life as continual intercourse with God. His favourite idea is that which St Paul had expressed in the words “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?” and he argued that to make himself a fit habitation for the divine a man must, besides holding the Catholic faith and doing works of love, renounce marriage and earthly honour, and practise a hard asceticism. It was on the question of continence in, if not renunciation of, marriage, that he came into conflict with the authorities. Priscillian and his sympathizers, who were organized into bands of spirilales and abstinences, like the Cathari of later days, indignantly refused the compromise which by this time the Church had established in the matter (see Marriage: Canon Law). This explains the charge of Manichaeism levelled against Priscillian (Jerome, for his talk of the Sordes nupliarum, had been similarly accused, and to escape popular indignation had retired to Bethlehem), and to this was added the accusation of magic and licentious orgies, Among the more prominent of Priscillian’s friends were two bishops, named Instantius and Salvianus, and Hyginus of Cordova also joined the party; but, through the exertions of Idacius of Emerita, the leading Priscillianists, who had failed to appear before the synod of Spanish and Aquitanian bishops to which they had been summoned, were excommunicated at Saragossa in October 380. Meanwhile, however, Priscillian was made bishop of Avila, and the orthodox party found it necessary to appeal to the emperor (Gratian), who issued an edict threatening the sectarian leaders with banishment. Priscillian, Instantius and Salvianus succeeded, however, in procuring the withdrawal of Gratian’s edict, and the attempted arrest of Ithacius of Ossonuba. On the murder of Gratian and accession of Maximus (383) Ithacius fled to Treves, and in consequence of his representations a synod was held (384) at Bordeaux, where Instantius was deposed. Priscillian appealed to the emperor, with the unexpected result that with six of his companions he was burned alive at Treves in 385. The first instance of the application of the Theodosian law against heretics had the approval of the synod which met at Treves in the same year, but Ambrose of Milan and Martin of Tours can claim the glory of having in some measure stayed the hand of persecution. The heresy, notwithstanding the severe measures taken against it, continued to spread in France as well as in Spain; in 412 Lazarus, bishop of Aix in Provence, and Herod, bishop of Arles, were expelled from their sees on a charge of Manichaeism. Proculus, the metropolitan of Marseilles, and the metropolitan of Vienne and Narbonensis Secunda were also followers of the rigorous tradition for which Priscillian had died. Something was done for its repression by a synod held by Turibius of Astorga in 446, and by that of Toledo in 447; as an openly professed creed it wholly disappeared after the second synod of Braga in 563. “The official church,” says F. C. Conybeare, “had to respect the ascetic spirit to the extent of enjoining celibacy upon its priests, and of recognizing, or rather immuring, such of the laity as desired to live out the old ascetic ideal. But the official teaching of Rome would not allow it to be the ideal and duty of every Christian. Priscillian perished for insisting that it was such; and seven centuries later the Church began to burn the Cathari by thousands because they took a similar view of the Christian life.”
The long prevalent estimation of Priscillian as a heretic and Manichaean rested upon Augustine, Turibius of Astorga, Leo. the Great and Orosius, although at the Council of Toledo in 400, fifteen years after Priscillian’s death, when his case was reviewed, the most serious charge that could be brought was the error of language involved in rendering ἀγἐνητος by innascibilis. It was long thought that all the writings of the “heretic” himself had perished, but in 1885, G. Schepss discovered at Würzburg eleven genuine tracts, since published in the Vienna Corpus. “They contain nothing that is not orthodox and commonplace, nothing that Jerome might not have written,” and go far to justify the description of Priscillian as “the first martyr burned by a Spanish Inquisition.”
See E. Ch. Babut, Priscillian el le Priscillianisme (Paris, 1909). (A. J. G.)
PRISCUS, of Panium in Thrace, Greek sophist and historian, lived during the 5th century A.D. He accompanied Maximin the ambassador of Theodosius the Younger, to the court of Attila (448). During the reign of Marcian (450–457) he also took part in missions to Arabia and the Egyptian Thebaid. Priscus was the author of an historical work in eight books (Βυζαντιακἠ Ἱστορία), probably from the accession of Attila to that of Zeno (433–474). Only fragments of the work remain, but the description of Attila and his court and the account of the reception of the Roman ambassadors is a most valuable piece of contemporary history. Priscus’s style is pure, and his impartiality and trustworthiness entitle him to an honourable place among the writers of his time.
Fragments and life in C. W. Müller, Fragmenta hisloricorum graecorum, iv. 69–110; v. 24–26, ed. B. G. Niebuhr in Bonn, Corpus Scriptorum hist. byzantinae (1829), vol. vi., and L. Dindorf in Historici graeci minores (1870), vol. i. For the embassy to Attila see Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ch. 34.
PRISCUS, a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher, of the school of Iamblichus and Aedesius. He died about the year 398 at the age of ninety. The emperor Julian frequently invited him to court on the strength of his reputation in connexion with theurgy. Eunapius says that he was a man of dignified and austere habit. Unlike Maximus, he used his influence over Julian with great moderation. He died during the Gothic invasion of Greece (a.d. 396–98). He is important partly as maintaining the best traditions of philosophy during a period when Neoplatonism as a whole was a parasite of imperial power, and partly as being a connecting link between Iamblichus and Plutarch of Athens.
See Zeller’s Hist. of Greek Phil.
PRISHTINA, Prichtina, or Pristina, the chief town of a sanjak in the vilayet of Kossovo, Albania, European Turkey; on a small tributary of the river Sitnétza, an affluent of the Ibar, and 3 m. E. of the Prishtina station on the Salonica-Mitrovitza railway. Pop. (1905), about 11,000. Prishtina is the seat of a governor-general and of a general of division, and possesses many mosques, a military hospital and a higher class school. The trade is considerable, the exports including chrome, wheat, maize, barley, skins, wine and timber from the magnificent beech forests in the sanjak. The plain of Kossovo (Kossoaopolye, “Field of Blackbirds”), to the west, was the scene of the battle in which the Servian empire was destroyed by the Turks in 1389. To the south-east lies the partly ruined monastery of Grachanitza founded by King Milutin of Servia (1275–1321). Among the frescoes are a remarkable head of Christ in the dome, and portraits of the founder and his queen Simonida, daughter of Andronicus II. Palaeologus.
See G. M. M. Mackenzie and A. P. Irby, Travels in the Slavonic Provinces of Turkey (1877).
PRISM (Gr. πρίσμα, properly a thing sawn, πρίζειν , to saw), in geometry a solid enclosed by plane surfaces, two of which, termed the ends, are parallel, equal, similar and similarly situated polygons, and the faces connecting the ends are parallelograms, equal in number to the sides of the polygon. If the faces be perpendicular to the ends the prism is a “right prism,” and the faces are rectangles; otherwise the prism is “oblique.” The axis is the line joining the centres of the ends. It may be generated by moving a plane (corresponding to an end or base) parallel to itself. A prismoid differs from a prism in having for its ends two dissimilar parallel figures. For illustrations see Crystallography, and for the mensuration see that article. In optics the word denotes a triangular prism, i.e. one having a triangle for base, used to decompose white light. (See Refraction and Dispersion.)
PRISON (derived through the Fr. from the Lat. prehensio, seizure), a place for the confinement or compulsory restraint of
- Cf. the outbreak at Rome in 384 against the gymnosophists, emaciated monks who walked the streets and vehemently denounced marriage. The epistles of Pope Siricius (who wished to stand well with the people) are full of scorn for these ascetics, and the Leonine sacramentary contains prayers which severely denounce them.