Denis Pétau

Denis Pétau is more well known by his other name, Dionysius Petavius. He was born in France in 1583 and died in Paris in 1652. He became a Jesuit around age 22. He has also been considered the main person who maintained and improved Joseph Scaliger’s chronology.

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1583 – He is born on the 21st of August in Orlèans, France.

1600 – At age 16, he receives his master of arts degree.

1603-1605 – At age 19, he begins teaching philosophy in Bourges.

1604 – He studies theology at Sorbonne and studies ‘patristic studies’ under Isaac Casaubon.

1605 – He becomes a Jesuit.

1609 – He teaches rhetoric at Reims.

1610 – He gets ordained.

1611-1621 – He teaches rhetoric at Jesuit colleges in Reims and La Flèche.

1612 – He edits the works of ‘bishop synesius’.

1613 – He edits the 16 orations of ‘Themistius’.

1614 – He edits the 3 orations of ‘julian the apostate’.

1616 – He edits the ‘Braviarium historicum of nicephorus i’.

1618 – He teaches rhetoric at the Collège de Clermont.

1621/22-1644 – He teaches positive theology in Paris at Collège de Clermont.

1622 – He edits the complete works of ‘St. epiphanius of constantia’.

1627 – His ‘Doctrina tempurum’ (2.v) is published. This is a revision of Scaliger’s world chronology.

1627: He introduced for the first time the habit of counting backwards from the birth of Christ as a means of assigning dates to events. By the late 1700’s this had become a common practice.[3, p.10]

1628 – His ‘Tabulae chronologicae’ is first published. This sets the frame for future Benedictine works. Additional editions are published in 1629, 1633, and 1657.

1629 – He leaves France on invitation by Philip IV to teach ecclesiastical history at Madrid.

1633 – His ‘Rationarium tempurum’ is published. This is an abridged version of his 1627 ‘Doctrina tempurum’ and a summary of ‘Tabulae chronologicae’.

1639 – He leaves France again to become a cardinal in Rome “where Pope Urban VIII wanted him”.

1644 – He publishes ‘De la Pénitence publique et de la préparation à la communion’.

1643 – The first three volumes of his ‘Dogmata theologia’ are written (dated 1644).

1644-1652 – He serves as a library at the same college.

1650 – The fourth and fifth volumes of his ‘Dogmata theologia’ are published.

1652 – His correspondence with famous persons is published.

1652 – He dies in Paris on the 11th of December.

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[1] –

[2] –étau

[3] – E. J. Bickerman. “Chronology of the Ancient World” (1968). Accessed 30 Jan 2021.

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One Comment on “Denis Pétau

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