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AKHMĪN
AKOMINATOS
239

tine ruins at Mariana perpetuate the memory of the church built by the Pisans in the twelfth century. There is a legend to the effect that the bishops banished from Africa to Corsica in 484 by Hunneric, King of the Vandals, built with their own hands the primitive cathedral of Ajaccio. The present cathedral, dating from the end of the sixteenth century, owes its construction to the initiative of Gregory XIII, who while still Ugo Buoncompagni, spent some time at Ajaccio as papal legate. The see was left vacant for five years, during which time the diocesan revenues were applied to the building of the cathedral. It was finished by Bishop Giustiniani after his nomination. Services are held according to the Greek rite in the village of Cargese, founded (1676) by the descendants of Stephen Comnenus, whom the Turks had expelled from the Peloponnesus. The Diocese of Ajaccio contained (end of 1905) 295,589 inhabitants, 70 first class, 351 second class parishes, and 91 vicariates formerly with State subventions.

Cappelletti, Le chiese d'Italia (Venice, 1861), XVI, 272–404; Arman, Notre Dame d'Ajaccio (Ajaccio, 1844); Ajaccio, in Cornhill Magazine (1868), XVIII, 496; Eclectic Magazine (1868), LXXI, 1513; Ardouin-Dumazet, La Corse (Paris, 1898); Chevalier, Topo-bibl. (Paris, 1894–99), 33.

Akhmīn, a city of Upper Egypt, situated on the banks of the Nile. Of late years it has attained great importance, on account of the discoveries made in its cemeteries. The hill of Akhmīn, some two miles long, is filled with human remains piled up in pits which contain as many as eight or ten small chambers, one above the other, with a dozen coffins in each. There are also caves containing mummies crowded together in the common ditch. Heathens and Christians are heaped together in such a fashion as to make it frequently impossible to say whether the owner of the little articles found near a body was a heathen, a Christian, or a member of some heretical sect, since we know Eutychianism had become the religion of almost the whole Coptic nation, from the fifth century onward.

The city is chiefly famous for its papyri and for its tapestries. Among the former, the fragments known as the "Gospel of Peter", the "Apocalypse of Peter", and the "Book of Henoch" hold the first place, but need not be discussed here. The tapestries, however, have furnished material of primary importance to the history of textile handicrafts in ancient times. A few pieces, of uncertain date, were to be found in various European museums. The excavations at Akhmīn and the copies made by R. Forrer have now supplied us with a quantity of materials in excellent preservation and of the greatest possible variety. The style of these Akhmīn tapestries is sometimes original, but in a great many instances it approximates the decorative type of Roman or Eastern art. The older ones are far superior to the others in design, especially in their treatment of the human figure. The growing want of skill in this regard enables us to trace, step by step, the progress of decadence. These most ancient tapestries are in two colors, yellow and pale brown. With the introduction of polychromy, ornament and animal decoration take the place of human figures. Even this animal decoration is often so angular, so poorly rendered, as to end in outlines resembling geometrical designs.

The discoveries at Akhmīn have not been confined to tapestries, though these are of the greatest importance to the history of the industrial arts. Forrer has brought to light ampullæ of terracotta, clay, and bronze, also jewels and toilet articles of gold or ivory. The discoveries have, however, revealed but few symbolisms not previously known. One tapestry, indeed, shows the Lamb of God, bearing the little banner, which is probably the most ancient example of this still familiar symbolism.

Leclercq, in Dict. d'archéol. chrét. et de liturgie, I, 1042–53; Gerspach, Les tapisseries coptes (Paris, 1890); Forrer, Die Grüber und Textilfunde von Achmin—Tanopolis (Strasburg, 1891); Forrer, Die Textilien von Achmin und ihr Verhältniss zu den Katakombenmalereien, in Die frühchristleichen Alterthümer aus dem Gräberfelde von Achmin—Tanopolis (Strasburg, 1893).

Akiba ben Joseph. See Talmud; Judaism.

Akoimetæ. See Acœmetæ.

Akominatos, Michael, d. 1215; and Nicetas, d. 1206; also known as Choniates, from their native city, Chonia (the Colossæ of St. Paul), two famous Greeks of the later Byzantine period. While studying at Constantinople by their father's wish, Michael acted as tutor to his younger brother Nicetas. Michael became a priest; Nicetas studied history and jurisprudence, in addition to theology, and rose to high honors in the imperial service. As governor of the province of Philippopolis, he witnessed the passage of the Third Crusade under Frederick Barbarossa, in 1189, a march which entailed great hardships and sufferings on the whole Eastern Empire, and which Walter Scott has dealt with, incidentally, in his "Count Robert of Paris." Michael, who, by his brother's influence, had been made Archbishop of Athens in 1175, had a similar experience of "Latin" aggressions, and was even forced to retire to the island of Chios. Nicetas, with his family, fled from Constantinople to Nicæa, where he died. Nicetas is the author of several important works concerning Byzantine theology and history. His "Treasure of Orthodoxy" (Θησαυρός Ὁρθοδοξίας) is a historical and polemical work against all anti-Christian heresies, valuable among other reasons for the treatment of contemporary errors, and in a way supplementary to the famous "Armory of Doctrine" (Ηανοπλία Δογματική) of Euthymios Zigabenos. It is also prized for its quotations from the synods of his time and for the fragments it has saved from lost Monophysite and other heretical writings. It has never been printed in its entirety; some portions of it are reprinted from earlier editions in Migne (P.G., CXXXIX, 1101–1444; CXL, 9–281). The work was written probably between 1204 and 1210. His fame as an historian of medieval Constantinople rests on his description in twenty-two books of the period from 1180 to 1206; it is practically an account of the fateful reigns of the last of the Comneni, especially the vicissitudes of the royal city during the Fourth Crusade (1204); its siege, capture, and pillage by the Latin Christians (P.G., CXXXIX, 287–1088). Krumbacher vouches for his generally objective temper and equitable treatment of persons and events. The style is bombastic and overladen with rhetorical ornament. His little treatise on the statues destroyed by the Latin "barbarians" (De Signis, P.G., CXXXIX, 287) is highly prized by students of classical antiquities. Michael, of whom Krumbacher says (p. 469) that his tenure of the see of Athens was equivalent to a ray of light amid the obscurity of ages, was a meritorious orator, pastoral writer, poet, and correspondent. His discourses cast a sad light on the wretched conditions of contemporary Attica, as does his iambic elegy "On the City of Athens", described as "the first and only surviving lamentation for the decay and ruin of the ancient and illustrious city." Of his letters 180 have reached us. His character is described as energetic, but gentle and upright. He was too much a Byzantine to denounce the imperial authority in the person of the cruel Andronicus, while that monster lived; but after his death, says Krumbacher, he could not find words enough to depict his iniquities. Many of his writings are in Migne (P.G., CXL, 298–384; 124–1258). The best edition of his works is that of Spiridion Lambros (Athens, 1879–80).