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St Athanasius (c. 296—373) Greek theologian and upholder of Christian orthodoxy against Arianism

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  • Literature
  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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In the literary sense, a justification or defence of the writer's opinions or conduct, not usually implying (as in the everyday sense) any admission of blame. The major classical precedent is the Apologia of Socrates as recorded by Plato (4th century bce), in which the philosopher defends himself unsuccessfully against the capital charge of impiety before the Athenian court, justifying his role as ‘gadfly’ to the state. Later writers adopted the title for various kinds of work from literary theory, as in Sidney's An Apologie for Poetry (1595), to autobiography, as in An Apology for the Life of Mr Colley Cibber, Comedian (1740) by the much‐mocked poet laureate. John Henry Newman's Apologia Pro Vita Sua (‘apology for his life’, 1864) has a greater element of polemic, justifying his adoption of Roman Catholicism against aspersions cast by Charles Kingsley. An apology is sometimes called an apologetic. An apologist is more often a defender of some other person's actions, works, or beliefs.

Subjects: Literature — Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500).

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