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Basil the Great (330–379)

  1. Connie J. Dawson

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc0131

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Dawson, C. J. 2011. Basil the Great (330–379). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


Basil the Great, Bishop of Cappadocia Caesarea, was one of the three Cappadocian Fathers and ranks among the greatest figures in church history. The other two Cappadocian Fathers of the East were his younger brother, Gregory Nyssa, and his close friend, Gregory Nazianzus. Basil was born in Caesarea, Cappadocia (now Asia Minor), in central Turkey. He was the third of ten children, born into a wealthy and prestigious family with a strong Christian heritage. His father's family suffered persecution under Maximinus, and his mother was the daughter of a martyr. Basil's childhood was greatly affected by his grandmother Macrina the elder, and his early education was under the tutelage of his father who was a lawyer and teacher of rhetoric. The brilliant young scholar's academic career led him to Athens in 351 where he developed a lifelong friendship with Gregory Nazianzus and also became friends with the future emperor, Julian, known in Christian tradition as “the Apostate.”


  • basil the great (330–379);
  • Bishop of cappadocia caesarea, cappadocian fathers;
  • conversion, and monastic life;
  • basil's friendship, with Gregory Nazianzus;
  • ordained presbyter, by Eusebius;
  • basil's social concern