Patriarch of Alexandria (qq.v.) from 412-444, and arch-opponent of Nestorianism (q.v.). He opposed Jews (q.v.) and pagans, indeed any rival to his ecclesiastical authority, and he was inclined to resort to violence and intrigue to overcome his opponents. Until 428 the scope of his ambition was Alexandria itself, where he became locked in a power struggle with the civil governor, a pagan named Orestes who was friends with the brilliant pagan philosopher Hypatia (q.v.). Cyril's henchmen included 500 monks from the Nitrian desert (q.v.), and hundreds of lay brothers, some of whom assassinated Hypatia, chopping her body up and burning it. In 428 Cyril's ambition moved to a larger struggle with Nestorius (q.v.), bishop of Constantinople (qq.v.), whose rivalry with Alexandria went back to 381, when the Second Ecumenical Council (q.v.) ranked the see (q.v.) of Constantinople above that of Alexandria. Moreover, Cyril was a theologian who had wrestled with the nature of Christ's human and divine natures. He disagreed with Nestorius's view that the Virgin Mary had given birth only to the man Jesus, and could not, therefore, be called Theotokos (q.v.), meaning Mother of God. In 431 at the Council of Ephesus (q.v.) Cyril engineered the condemnation of Nestorius, with the help of street violence and 1,500 pounds of gold used to bribe members of Theodosius II's (q.v.) court. Ironically, Cyril's own theological views about Christ inspired Monophysitism (q.v.), which Cyril's successor Dioskoros (q.v.) embraced. Condemnation of Monophysitism in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon (q.v.) was a stinging humiliation for the see of Alexandria.

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