ARNOBIUS (called Afer, and sometimes “the Elder”), early Christian writer, was a teacher of rhetoric at Sicca Venerea in proconsular Africa during the reign of Diocletian. His conversion to Christianity is said by Jerome to have been occasioned by a dream; and the same writer adds that the bishop to whom Arnobius applied distrusted his professions, and asked some proof of them, and that the treatise Adversus Gentes was composed for this purpose. But this story seems rather improbable; for Arnobius speaks contemptuously of dreams, and besides, his work bears no traces of having been written in a short time, or of having been revised by a Christian bishop. From internal evidence (bk. iv. 36) the time of composition may be fixed at about A.D. 303. Nothing further is known of the life of Arnobius. He is said to have been the author of a work on rhetoric, which, however, has not been preserved. His great treatise, in seven books, Adversus Gentes (or Nationes), on account of which he takes rank as a Christian apologist, appears to have been occasioned by a desire to answer the complaint then brought against the Christians, that the prevalent calamities and disasters were due to their impiety and had come upon men since the establishment of their religion. In the first book Arnobius carefully discusses this complaint; he shows that the allegation of greater calamities having come upon men since the Christian era is false; and that, even if it were true, it could by no means be attributed to the Christians. He skilfully contends that Christians who worship the self-existent God cannot justly be called less religious than those who worship subordinate deities, and concludes by vindicating the Godhead of Christ. In the second book Arnobius digresses into a long discussion on the soul, which he does not think is of divine origin, and which he scarcely believes to be immortal. He even says that a belief in the soul’s immortality would tend to remove moral restraint, and have a prejudicial effect on human life. In the concluding chapters he answers the objections drawn from the recent origin of Christianity. Books iii., iv. and v. contain a violent attack on the heathen mythology, in which he narrates with powerful sarcasm the scandalous chronicles of the gods, and contrasts with their grossness and immorality the pure and holy worship of the Christian. These books are valuable as a repertory of mythological stories. Books vi. and vii. ably handle the questions of sacrifices and worship of images. The confusion of the final chapter points to some interruption. The work of Arnobius appears to have been written when he was a recent convert, for he does not possess a very extensive knowledge of Scripture. He knows nothing of the Old Testament, and only the life of Christ in the New, while he does not quote directly from the Gospels. He is also at fault in regard to the Jewish sects. He was much influenced by Lucretius and had read Plato. His statements concerning Greek and Roman mythology are based respectively on the Protrepticus of Clement of Alexandria, and on Antistius Labeo, who belonged to the preceding generation and attempted to restore Neoplatonism. There are some pleasing passages in Arnobius, but on the whole he is a tumid and a tedious author.
ARNOBIUS (“the younger”), Christian priest or bishop in Gaul, flourished about 460. He is the author of a mystical and allegorical commentary on the Psalms, first published by Erasmus in 1522, and by him attributed to the elder Arnobius. It has been frequently reprinted, and in the edition of De la Barre, 1580, is accompanied by some notes on the Gospels by the same author. To him has sometimes been ascribed the anonymous treatise, Arnobii catholici et Serapionis conflictus de Deo trino et uno ... de gratiae liberi arbitrii concordia, which was probably written by a follower of Augustine. The opinions of Arnobius, as appears from the commentary, are semi-Pelagian.
ARNOLD, known as “Arnold of Brescia” (d. 1155), one of the most ardent adversaries of the temporal power of the popes. He belonged to a family of importance, if not noble, and was born probably at Brescia, in Italy, towards the end of the 11th century. He distinguished himself in his monastic studies, and went to France about 1115. He studied theology in Paris, but there is no proof that he was a pupil of Abelard. Returning to Italy he became a canon regular. His life was rigidly austere, St Bernard calling him “homo neque manducans neque bibens.” He at once directed his efforts against the corruption of the clergy, and especially against the temporal ambitions of the high dignitaries of the church. During the schism of Anacletus (1131-1137) the town of Brescia was torn by the struggles between the partisans of Pope Innocent II. and the adherents of the anti-pope, and Arnold gave effect to his abhorrence of the political episcopate by inciting the people to rise against their bishop, and, exiled by Innocent II., went to France. St Bernard accused him of sharing the doctrines of Abelard (see Ep. 189, 195), and procured his condemnation by the council of Sens (1140) at the same time as that of the great scholastic. This was perhaps no more than the outcome of the fierce polemical spirit of the abbot of Clairvaux, which led him to include all his adversaries under a single anathema. It seems certain that Arnold professed moral theology in Paris, and several times reprimanded St Bernard, whom he accused of pride and jealousy. St Bernard, as a last resort, begged King Louis VII. to take severe measures against Arnold, who had to leave France and take refuge at Zürich. There he soon became popular, especially with the lay nobility; but, denounced anew by St Bernard to the ecclesiastical authorities, he returned to Italy, and turned his steps towards Rome (1145). It was two years since, in 1143, the Romans had rejected the temporal power of the pope. The urban nobles had set up a republic, which, under forms ostensibly modelled on antiquity (e.g. patriciate, senatus populusque romanus, &c.), concealed but clumsily a purely oligarchical government. Pope Eugenius III. and his adherents had been forced after a feeble resistance to resign themselves to exile at Viterbo. Arnold, after returning to Rome, immediately began a campaign of virulent denunciation against the Roman clergy, and, in particular, against the Curia, which he stigmatized as a “house of merchandise and den of thieves.” His enemies have attributed to him certain doctrinal heresies, but their accusations do not bear examination. According to Otto of Freising (Lib. de gestis Friderici, bk. ii. chap. xx.) the whole of his teaching, outside the preaching of penitence, was summed up in these maxims:—“Clerks who have estates, bishops who hold fiefs, monks who possess property, cannot be saved.” His eloquence gained him a hearing and a numerous following, including many laymen, but consisting principally of poor ecclesiastics, who formed around him a party characterized by a rigid morality and not unlike the Lombard Patarenes of the 11th century. But his purely political action was very restricted, and not to be compared with that of a Rienzi or a Savonarola. The Roman revolution availed itself of Arnold’s popularity, and of his theories, but was carried out without his aid. His name was associated with this political reform solely because his was the only vigorous personality which stood out from the mass of rebels, and because he was the principal victim of the repression that ensued. On the 15th of July 1148 Eugenius III. anathematized Arnold and his adherents; but when, a short time afterwards, the pope, through the support of the king of Naples and the king of France, succeeded in entering Rome, Arnold remained in the town unmolested, under the protection of the senate. But in 1152 the German king Conrad III., whom the papal party and the Roman republic had in vain begged to intervene, was succeeded by Frederick I. Barbarossa. Frederick, whose authoritative temper was at once offended by the independent tone of the Arnoldist party, concluded with the pope a treaty of alliance (October 16, 1152) of such a nature that the Arnoldists were at once put in a minority in the Roman government; and when the second successor of Eugenius III., the energetic and austere Adrian IV. (the