Evagrius Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History (AD431-594), translated by E. Walford (1846). Book 1.
DESIGN OF THE WORK.
EUSEBIUS PAMPHILI—an especially able writer, to the extent, in particular, of inducing his readers to embrace our religion, though failing to perfect them in the faith—and Sozomen, Theodoret, and Socrates1 have produced a most excellent record of the advent of our compassionate God, and His ascension into heaven, and of all that has been achieved in the endurance of the divine Apostles, as well as of the other martyrs; and, further, of whatever events have occurred among us, whether more or less worthy of mention, down to a certain period of the reign of Theodosius. |2 But since events subsequent, and scarcely inferior to these, have not hitherto been made the subject of a continuous narrative, I have resolved, though but ill-qualified for such a task, to undertake the labour which the subject demands, and to embody them in a history; surely trusting in Him who enlightened fishermen, and endued a brute tongue with articulate utterance, for ability to raise up transactions already entombed in oblivion, to reanimate them by language, and immortalise them by memory: my object being, that my readers may learn the nature of each of these events, up to our time; the period, place, and manner of its occurrence, as well as those who were its objects and authors; and that no circumstance worthy of recollection, may be lost under the veil of listless indifference, or, its neighbour, forgetfulness. I shall then begin, led onwards by the divine impulse, from the point where the above-mentioned writers closed the history.
ARTIFICE BY WHICH THE DEVIL ATTEMPTS TO SUBVERT THE PURITY OF THE FAITH.
SCARCE had the impiety of Julian been flooded over by the blood of the martyrs, and the frenzy of Arius been bound fast in the fetters forged at Nicaea, and, moreover, Eunomius and Macedonius, by the agency of |3 the Holy Spirit, had been swept as by a blast to the Bosphorus, and wrecked against the sacred city of Constantine; scarce had the holy church cast off her recent defilement, and was being restored to her ancient beauty, robed in a vesture inwrought with gold, and in varied array, and becoming meet for the bridegroom, when the demon enemy of good, unable to endure it, commences against us a new mode of warfare, disdaining idolatry, now laid in the dust, nor deigning to employ the servile madness of Arius. He fears to assault the faith in open war, embattled by so many holy fathers, and he had been already shorn of nearly all his power in battling against it: but he pursues his purpose with a robber's stealth, by raising certain questions and answers; his new device being to turn the course of error towards Judaism, little foreseeing the overthrow that hence would befall the miserable designer. For the faith which formerly was alone arrayed against him, this he now affects: and, no longer exulting in the thought of forcing us to abandon the whole, but of succeeding in corrupting a single term, while he wound himself with many a malignant wile, he devised the change of merely a letter, tending indeed to the same sense, but still with the intention of severing the thought and the tongue, that both might no longer with one accord offer the same confession and glorification to God. The manner and result of these transactions I will set forth, each |4 at its proper juncture; giving at the same time a place in my narrative to other matters that may occur to me, which, though not belonging to my immediate subject, are worthy of mention, laying up the record of them wherever it shall please our compassionate God.
HERESY OF NESTORIUS DISCOVERED AND CONDEMNED.
SINCE, then, Nestorius, that God-assaulting tongue, that second conclave of Caiaphas, that workshop of blasphemy, in whose case Christ is again made a subject of bargain and sale, by having His natures divided and torn asunder—He of whom not a single bone was broken even on the cross, according to Scripture, and whose seamless vest suffered no rending at the hands of God-slaying men — since, then, he thrust aside and rejected the term, Mother of God, which had been already wrought by the Holy Spirit through the instrumentality of many chosen fathers, and substituted a spurious one of his own coining—Mother of Christ; and further filled the Church with innumerable wars, deluging it with kindred blood, I think that I shall not be at a loss for a well-judged arrangement of my history, nor miss its end, if, with the aid of Christ, who is God over all, I preface it with the impious blasphemy of Nestorius. The war of the churches took its rise from the following circumstances. A certain presbyter |5 named Anastasius, a man of corrupt opinions, and a warm admirer of Nestorius and his Jewish sentiments, who also accompanied him when setting out from his country to take possession of his bishoprick; at which time Nestorius, having met with Theodore at Mop-suestia, was perverted by his teaching from godly doctrine, as Theodulus writes in an epistle upon this subject—this Anastasius, in discoursing to the Christ-loving people in the church of Constantinople, dared to say, without any reserve, "Let no one style Mary the Mother of God; for Mary was human, and it is impossible for God to be born of a human being." When the Christ-loving people were disgusted, and with reason regarded his discourse as blasphemous, Nestorius, the real teacher of the blasphemy, so far from restraining him and upholding the true doctrine, on the contrary, imparted to the teaching of Anastasius the impulse it acquired, by urging on the question with more than ordinary pugnacity. And further, by mingling with it notions of his own, and thus vomiting forth the venom of his soul, he endeavoured to inculcate opinions still more blasphemous, proceeding so far as thus to avouch, upon his own peril, "I could never be induced to call that God which admitted of being two months old or three months old." These circumstances rest on the distinct authority of Socrates, and the former synod at Ephesus. |6
LETTER FROM CYRIL TO NESTORIUS.—COUNCIL OF EPHESUS.
WHEN Cyril, the renowned bishop of the church of the Alexandrians, had communicated to Nestorius his reprobation of these transactions, and he, in rejoinder, paid no regard to what was addressed to him by Cyril, and by Celestine, bishop of the elder Rome, but was irreverently pouring forth his own vomit over the whole church, there was just occasion for the convening of the first synod of Ephesus, at the injunction of the younger Theodosius, sovereign of the Eastern empire, by the issuing of imperial letters to Cyril and the presidents of the holy churches in every quarter, naming, at the same time, as the day of meeting, the sacred Pentecost, on which the life-giving Spirit descended upon us. Nestorius, on account of the short distance of Ephesus from Constantinople, arrives early; and Cyril too, with his company, came before the appointed day; but John, the president of the church of Antioch, with his associate bishops, was behind the appointed time; not intentionally, as his defence has been thought by many to have sufficiently proved, but because he could not muster his associates with sufficient despatch, who were at a distance of what would be a twelve days' journey to an |7 expeditious traveller from the city formerly named from Antiochus, but now the City of God, and in some cases more; and Ephesus was then just thirty days' journey from Antioch. He stoutly defended himself on the ground that the observance of what is called the New Lord's Day by his bishops in their respective sees, was an insuperable impediment to his arriving before the stated day.
DEPOSITION OF NESTORIUS.2
WHEN fifteen days had elapsed from the prescribed period, the bishops who had assembled for this business, considering that the Orientals would not join them at all, or, at least, after a considerable delay, hold a conclave, under the presidency of the divine Cyril, occupying the post of Celestine, who, as has been before mentioned, was bishop of the elder Rome. They accordingly summon Nestorius, with an exhortation that he would defend himself against the allegations. When, however, notwithstanding a promise given on the preceding day, that he would present himself if there were occasion, he did not appear, though thrice summoned, the assembly proceeded to the investigation of the matter. Memnon, the president of the Ephesian church, recounted the days which had elapsed, fifteen in number: then were read |8 the letters addressed to Nestorius by the divine Cyril, and his rejoinders; there being also inserted the sacred epistle of the illustrious Celestine to Nestorius himself. Theodotus, bishop of Ancyra, and Acacius, of Melitene, also detailed the blasphemous language to which Nestorius had unreservedly given utterance at Ephesus. With these were combined many statements in which holy fathers had purely set forth the true faith, having side by side with them various blasphemies which the frenzy of the impious Nestorius had vented. When all this had been done, the holy synod declared its judgment precisely in the following terms: "Since, in addition to the other matters, the most reverend Nestorius has refused to submit to our summons, or yet to admit the most holy and godly bishops who were sent by us, we have of necessity proceeded to the investigation of his impieties: and having convicted him of entertaining and avowing impious sentiments, on the evidence both of his letters and writings which have been read, and also of words uttered by him lately in this metropolitan city, and established by sufficient testimony, at length, compelled by the canons, and in accordance with the epistle of our most holy father and fellow-minister, Celestine, bishop of the church of Rome, we have, with many tears, proceeded to this sad sentence. The Lord Jesus Christ, who has been blasphemed by him, has, through the agency of this holy synod, decreed, that the same |9 Nestorius is alien from the episcopal dignity, and from every sacerdotal assembly."
DEPOSITION OF CYRIL AND OF JOHN.—THEIR RECONCILIATION.
AFTER the delivery of this most legitimate and just sentence, John, the bishop of Antioch, arrives with his associate priests, five days after the act of deposition; and having convened all his company, he deposes Cyril and Memnon. On account, however, of libels put forth by Cyril and Memnon to the synod which had been assembled in company with themselves (although Socrates, in ignorance, has given a different account), John is summoned to justify the deposition which he had pronounced; and, on his not appearing after a thrice repeated summons, Cyril and Memnon are released from their sentence, and John and his associate priests are cut off from the holy communion and all sacerdotal authority. When, however, Theodosius, notwithstanding his refusal at first to sanction the deposition of Nestorius, had subsequently, on being fully informed of his blasphemy, addressed pious letters both to Cyril and John, they are reconciled to each other, and ratify the act of deposition. |10
CYRIL'S EULOGY OF A LETTER FROM JOHN OF ANTIOCH.
ON occasion of the arrival of Paul, bishop of Emesa, at Alexandria, and his delivery before the church of that discourse which is extant on this subject, Cyril also, after highly commending the epistle of John, wrote to him in these words: "Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad, for the middle wall of partition is broken down, exasperation is stilled, and all occasion for dissension utterly removed through the bestowal of peace upon his churches by Christ, the Saviour of us all; at the call, too, of our most religious and divinely favoured sovereigns, who, in excellent imitation of ancestral piety, preserve in their own souls a well-founded and unshaken maintenance of the true faith, and a singular care for the holy churches, that they may acquire an everlasting renown, and render their reign most glorious. On them the Lord of Hosts himself bestows blessings with a bountiful hand, and grants them victory over their adversaries. Victory He does bestow: for never can he lie who says, As I live, saith the Lord, those that glorify me, I glorify. On the arrival, then, of my most pious brother and fellow minister, my lord Paul, at Alexandria, I was filled with delight, and with great reason, at the mediation of such a man, and his voluntary engagement in labours beyond his strength, in order that |11 he might subdue the malice of the devil, close our breaches, and, by the removal of the stumbling-blocks that lay between us, might crown both our churches and yours with unanimity and peace." And presently he proceeds thus: "That the dissension of the church has been altogether unnecessary and without sufficient ground, I am fully convinced, now that my lord the most pious bishop Paul has brought a paper presenting an unexceptionable confession of the faith, and has assured me that it was drawn up by your holiness and the most pious bishops of your country." And such is the writing thus drawn up, and inserted verbatim in the epistle; which, with reference to the Mother of God, speaks as follows: "When we read these your sacred words, and were conscious that our own sentiments were correspondent—for there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism—we glorified God, the Preserver of all things, with a feeling of mutual joy, that both your churches and ours maintain a faith in agreement with the divinely inspired Scriptures and the tradition of our holy fathers." Of these matters any one may be assured, who is disposed to investigate diligently the transactions of those times.
DEATH OF NESTORIUS.
HISTORIANS have not detailed either the banishment of Nestorius, his subsequent fortunes, or the manner |12 in which his life was closed, and the retribution with which he was visited for his blasphemy; matters which would have been allowed to slip into oblivion, and have been altogether swallowed up by time, so as not to be current even in hearsay, if I had not met with a book written by himself, which supplied an account of them. Nestorius, then, himself, the father of the blasphemy, who raised his structure not on the foundation already laid, but built upon the sand one which, in accordance with the Lord's parable, quickly fell to ruin, here, in addition to other matters of his choice, puts forth a defence of his own blasphemy, in reply to those who had charged him with unnecessary innovation and an unseemly demand for the convening of the synod at Ephesus. He asserts that he was driven to assume this position by absolute necessity, on account of the division of the church into two parties, one maintaining that Mary ought to be styled Mother of Man; the other, Mother of God; and he devised the title, Mother of Christ, in order, as he says, that error might not be incurred by adopting either extreme, either a term which too closely united immortal essence with humanity, or one which, while admitting one of the two natures, involved no mention of the other. He also intimates that Theodosius, from feelings of friendship, withheld his ratification of the sentence of deposition; and, afterwards, that, on occasion of the mission of several bishops of both parties |13 from Ephesus to the emperor, and, moreover, at his own request, he was allowed to retire to his own monastery, situated without the gates of the city now called Theopolis. It is not, indeed, expressly named by Nestorius, but is said to be that which is now styled the monastery of Euprepius; which we know to be, in fact, not more than two stadia from that city. Nestorius, then, himself says, that during a residence there of four years, he received every mark of respect and distinction; and that, by a second edict of Theodosius, he is banished to the place called Oasis. But the pith of the matter he has suppressed. For in his retirement he did not cease from his peculiar blasphemy; so that John, the president of the church of Antioch, was led to report the circumstance, and Nestorius was, in consequence, condemned to perpetual banishment. He has addressed also a formal discourse to a certain Egyptian, on the subject of his banishment to Oasis, where he treats of these circumstances more fully. But the retribution with which, unable to escape the all-seeing eye, he was visited for his blasphemous imaginations, may be gathered from other writings addressed by him to the governor of the Thebaid : in which one may see how that, since he had not yet reached the full measure of his deserts, the vengeance of God visited him, in pursuance, with the most terrible of all calamities, captivity. Being, then, still deserving of greater penalties, he was liberated |14 by the Blemmyes, into whose hands he had fallen; and, after Theodosius had decreed his return to his place of exile, wandering from place to place on the verge of the Thebaid, and severely injured by a fall, he closed his life in a manner worthy of his deeds: whose fate, like that of Arius, was a judicial declaration, what are the appointed wages of blasphemy against Christ: for both committed similar blasphemy against him; the one by calling him a creature; the other, regarding him as human. When Nestorius impugns the integrity of the acts of the council of Ephesus, and refers them to subtle designs and lawless innovation on the part of Cyril, I should be most ready thus to reply:—How came it to pass, that he was banished even by Theodosius, notwithstanding his friendly feelings towards him, and was condemned by repeated sentences of extermination, and closed this life under those unhappy circumstances ? If Cyril and his associate priests were not guided by heaven in their judgment, how came it to pass that, when both parties were no longer numbered with the living, in which case a heathen sage3 has observed, "A frank and kindly meed is yielded to departed worth," the one is reprobated as a blasphemer and enemy of God, the other is lauded and proclaimed to the world as the sonorous herald and mighty champion of true doctrine? In order that I may not incur a charge of slander, let me bring Nestorius himself into court as an evidence on these points. Read me then, |15 word for word, some passages of thy epistle, addressed to the governor of the Thebaid:—"On account of the matters which have been lately mooted at Ephesus concerning our holy religion, Oasis, further called Ibis, has been appointed as the place of my residence by an imperial decree." And presently he proceeds thus: "Inasmuch as the beforementioned place has fallen into the hands of the barbarians, and been reduced to utter desolation by fire and sword, and I, by a most unexpected act of compassion, have been liberated by them, with a menacing injunction instantly to fly from the spot, since the Mazices were upon the point of succeeding them in their occupation of it; I have, accordingly, reached the Thebaid, together with the captive survivors whom they had joined with me, by an act of pity for which I am unable to account. They, accordingly, have been allowed to disperse themselves to the places whither their individual inclinations led them, and I, proceeding to Panopolis, have shewed myself in public, for fear lest any one, making the circumstance of my seizure an occasion of criminal proceeding, should raise a charge against me, either of escaping from my place of exile, or some other imagined delinquency: for malice never wants occasion for slander. Therefore I entreat your highness to take that just view of my seizure which the laws would enjoin, and not sacrifice a prisoner of war to the malice and evil |16 designs of men: lest there should hence arise this melancholy story with all posterity, that it is better to be made captive by barbarians, than to fly for refuge to the protection of the Roman sovereignty." He then prefers, with solemn adjuration, the following request: "I request you to lay before the emperor the circumstance, that my arrival hither from Oasis arose from my liberation by the barbarians; so that my final disposal, according to God's good pleasure, may now be determined." The second epistle, from the same to the same, contains as follows: "Whether you are disposed to regard this present letter as a friendly communication from me to your highness, or as an admonition from a father to a son, I beseech you bear with its detail, embracing, indeed, many matters, but as briefly as the case would allow. When Ibis had been devastated by a numerous body of Nomades," and so forth. "Under these circumstances, by what motive or pretext on the part of your highness I know not, I was conducted by barbarous soldiers from Panopolis to Elephantine, a place on the verge of the province of the Thebaid, being dragged thither by the aforesaid military force; and when, sorely shattered, I had accomplished the greater part of the journey, I am encountered by an unwritten order from your valour to return to Panopolis. Thus, miserably worn with the casualties of the road, with a body afflicted by disease and age, and a mangled hand and side, I |17 arrived at Panopolis in extreme exhaustion, and further tormented with cruel pains: whence a second written injunction from your valour, speedily overtaking me, transported me to its adjacent territory. While I was supposing that this treatment would now cease, and was awaiting the determination of our glorious sovereigns respecting me, another merciless order was suddenly issued for a fourth deportation." And presently he proceeds: "But I pray you to rest satisfied with what has been done, and with having inflicted so many banishments on one individual. And I call upon you kindly to leave to our glorious sovereigns the inquisition, for which reports laid before them by your highness, and by myself too, by whom it was proper that information should be given, would furnish materials. If, however, this should excite your indignation, continue to deal with me as before, according to your pleasure; since no words ca,n prevail over your will." Thus does this man, who had not learned moderation even by his sufferings, in his writings strike and trample with fist and heel, even reviling both the supreme and provincial governments. I learn from one who wrote an account of his demise, that, when his tongue had been eaten through with worms, he departed to the greater and everlasting judgment which awaited him. |18
SUCCESSION OF BISHOPS AT CONSTANTINOPLE.
NEXT in succession to that malignant spirit Nestorius, Maximianus is invested with the bishopric of the city of the renowned Constantine, in whose time the church of God enjoyed perfect peace: and when he was departed from among men, Proclus holds the helm of the see, who had some time before been ordained bishop of Cyzicus. When he too had gone the way of all mankind, Flavian succeeds to the see.
HERESY OF EUTYCHES.
IN his time arose the stir about the impious Eutyches, when a partial synod was assembled at Constantinople, and a written charge was preferred by Eusebius, bishop of Dorylaeum, who, while still practising as a rhetorician, was the first to expose the blasphemy of Nestorius. Since Eutyches, when summoned, did not appear, and afterwards, even on his appearance, was convicted on certain points ; for he had said, "I allow that our Lord was produced from two natures before their union, but I confess only one nature after their union;" and he even maintained |19 that our Lord's body was not of the same substance with ourselves—on these grounds he is sentenced to deprivation: but on his presenting a petition to Theodosius, on the plea that the acts, as set forth, had been concocted in the hands of Flavian, the synod of the neighbouring region is assembled at Constantinople, and Flavian is tried by it and some of the magistrates; and when the truth of the acts had been confirmed, the second synod at Ephesus is summoned.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE SECOND COUNCIL OF EPHESUS.4
OF this council, Dioscorus, the successor of Cyril in the see of Alexandria, was appointed president, by an intrigue, in enmity to Flavian, of Chrysaphius, who at that time swayed the imperial court. There hasten to Ephesus Juvenalis, bishop of Jerusalem, who was present at the former council, with a great number of associate priests, and with him also Domnus, the successor of John at Antioch: and besides them, Julius, a bishop, who was the representative of Leo, bishop of the elder Rome. Flavian also was present with his associate bishops, an edict having been addressed by Theodosius to Elpidius, in these precise terms. "Provided that those who had on the former occasion passed judgment on the most religious Archimandrite |20 Eutyches, be present, but take no part in the proceedings, by abstaining from the functions of judges, and awaiting the resolution of all the most holy fathers; inasmuch as their own previous decision is now a subject of inquisition." In this council, the deposition of Eutyches is revoked by Dioscorus and his associates—as is contained in the acts—and that sentence is passed upon Flavian, and Eusebius, president of the church of Dorylaeum. At the same time, Ibas, bishop of Edessa, is excommunicated; and Daniel, bishop of Carrhae, Irenaeus of Tyre, and Aquilinus of Byblus, are deposed. Some measures were also taken on account of Sophronius, bishop of Constantina: and they depose Theodoret, bishop of Cyrus, and even Domnus of Antioch. What afterwards befel the last mentioned, I am not able to discover. After these proceedings the second council of Ephesus was dissolved.
AN APOLOGY FOR DIFFERENCES OF OPINION AMONG CHRISTIANS.
AND here let not any one of the deluded worshippers of idols presume to sneer, as if it were the business of succeeding councils to depose their predecessors, and to be ever devising some addition to the |21 faith. For while we are endeavouring to trace the unutterable and unsearchable scheme of God's mercy to man, and to revere and exalt it to the utmost, our opinions are swayed in this or that direction: and with none of those who have been the authors of heresies among Christians, was blasphemy the first intention; nor did they fall from the truth in a desire to dishonour the Deity, but rather from an idea which each entertained, that he should improve upon his predecessors by upholding such and such doctrines. Besides, all parties agree in a confession which embraces the essential points; for a Trinity is the single object of our worship, and unity the complex one of our glorification, and the Word, who is God begotten before the worlds, and became flesh by a second birth in mercy to the creature: and if new opinions have been broached on other points, these also have arisen from the freedom granted to our will by our Saviour God, even on these subjects, in order that the holy catholic and apostolic church might be the more exercised in bringing opposing opinions into captivity to truth and piety, and arrive, at length, at one smooth and straight path. Accordingly the apostle says most distinctly: "There is need of heresies among you, that the approved ones may be manifested." And here also, we have occasion to admire the unutterable wisdom of God, who said to the divine Paul, "My strength is made perfect in |22 weakness." For by the very causes by which the members of the church have been broken off, the true and pure doctrine has been more accurately established, and the catholic and apostolic church of God has attained amplification and exaltation to heaven. But those who have been nurtured in Grecian error, having no desire to extol God or his tender care of men, were continually endeavouring to shake the opinions of their predecessors, and of each other, rather devising gods upon gods, and assigning to them by express titles the tutelage of their own passions, in order that they might find an excuse for their own debaucheries by associating such deities with them. Thus, their supreme Father of Gods and men, under the form of a bird, shamelessly carried off the Phrygian boy; and as a reward of his vile service, bestowed the cup, with leave to pledge him in an amorous draught, that they might with the nectar drink in their common shame. Besides innumerable other villanies, reprobated by the meanest of mankind, and transformations into every form of brutes, himself the most brutish of all, he becomes bi-sexual, pregnant, if not in his belly yet in his thigh, that even this violation of nature might be fulfilled in his person: whence springing, the bi-sexual dithyrambic birth outraged either sex; author of drunkenness, surfeit, and mad debauch, and all their fearful consequences. To this Aegis-wearer, this Thunderer, they |23 attach, in spite of these majestic titles, the crime of parricide, universally regarded as the extremity of guilt; inasmuch as he dethroned Saturn who unhappily had begotten him. Why need I also mention their consecration of fornication, over which they made Venus to preside, the shell-born Cyprian, who abhorred chastity as an unhallowed and monstrous thing, but delighted in fornication and all filthiness, and willed to be propitiated by them: in whose company Mars also suffers unseemly exposure, being, by the contrivance of Vulcan, made a spectacle and laughing-stock to the Gods? Justly would one ridicule their phalli and ithyphalli, and phallagogia; their Priapus, and Pan, and the Eleusinian mysteries, which in one respect deserve praise, namely, that the sun was not allowed to see them, but they were condemned to dwell with darkness. Leaving, then, the worshippers and the worshipped in their shame, let us urge our steed to the goal, and set forth, in compendious survey, the remaining transactions of the reign of Theodosius.
CONDEMNATION OP THE NESTORIAN DOCTRINE BY THEODOSIUS.
THEODOSIUS, then, issued a most pious constitution, which is included in the first book of what is termed |24 the Code of Justinian, and is the third under the first title; in which, moved by heaven, he condemned, by all the votes, as the saying is, him to whom he had been long attached, as Nestorius himself writes, and placed him under anathema. The precise terms are as follow: "Further we ordain, that those who favour the impious creed of Nestorius, or follow his unlawful doctrine, be ejected from the holy churches, if they be bishops or clerks; and if laics, be anathematised." Other enactments were also promulgated by him relating to our religion, which shew his burning zeal.
SIMEON THE STYLITE.5
IN these times flourished and became illustrious Simeon, of holy and famous memory, who originated the contrivance of stationing himself on the top of a column, thereby occupying a spot of scarce two cubits in circumference. Domnus was then bishop of Antioch; and he, having visited Simeon, and being struck with the singularity of his position and mode of life, was desirous of more mystic intercourse. They met accordingly, and having consecrated the immaculate body, imparted to each other the life-giving communion. This man, endeavouring to realise in the flesh the existence of the heavenly hosts, |25 lifts himself above the concerns of earth, and, overpowering the downward tendency of man's nature, is intent upon things above: placed between earth and heaven, he holds communion with God, and unites with the angels in praising him; from earth, offering his intercessions on behalf of men, and from heaven, drawing down upon them the divine favour. An account of his miracles has been written by one of those who were eye-witnesses, and an eloquent record by Theodoret, bishop of Cyrus: though they have omitted a circumstance in particular, the memory of which I found to be still retained by the inhabitants of the holy desert, and which I learnt from them as follows. When Simeon, that angel upon earth, that citizen in the flesh of the heavenly Jerusalem, had devised this strange and hitherto unknown walk, the inhabitants of the holy desert send a person to him, charged with an injunction to render a reason of this singular habitude, namely, why, abandoning the beaten path which the saints had trodden, he is pursuing another altogether unknown to mankind; and, further, that he should come down and travel the road of the elect fathers. They, at the same time, gave orders, that, if he should manifest a perfect readiness to come down, liberty should be given him to follow out the course he had chosen, inasmuch as his compliance would be sufficient proof that under God's guidance he persevered in this his |26 endurance: but that he should be dragged down by force, in case he should manifest repugnance, or be swayed by self-will, and refuse to be guided implicitly by the injunction. When the person, thus deputed, came and announced the command of the fathers, and Simeon, in pursuance of the injunction, immediately put one foot forward, then he declared him free to fulfil his own course, saying, 'Be stout, and play the man: the post which thou hast chosen is from God.' This circumstance, which is omitted by those who have written about him, I have thus thought worthy of record. In so great a measure had the power of divine grace taken possession of him, that, when Theodosius had issued a mandate, that the synagogues of which they had been previously deprived by the Christians, should be restored to the Jews of Antioch, he wrote to the emperor with so much freedom and vehement rebuke, as standing in awe of none but his own immediate sovereign, that Theodosius re-called his commands, and in every respect favoured the Christians, even superseding the prefect who had suggested the measure. He further proceeded to prefer a request to this effect, to the holy and aerial martyr, that he would entreat and pray for him, and impart a share of his own peculiar benediction. Simeon prolonged his endurance of this mode of life through fifty-six years, nine of which he spent in the first monastery, where he was instructed in divine |27 knowledge, and forty-seven in the Mandra, as it is termed; namely, ten in a certain nook; on shorter columns, seven; and thirty upon one of forty cubits. After his departure, his holy body was conveyed to Antioch, during the episcopate of Martyrius, and the reign of the emperor Leo, when Ardabyrius was in command of the forces of the East, on which occasion the troops, with a concourse of their followers and others, proceeded to the Mandra, and escorted the venerable body of the blessed Simeon, lest the inhabitants of the neighbouring cities should muster and carry it off. In this manner, it was conveyed to Antioch, and attended during its progress by extraordinary prodigies. The emperor also demanded possession of the body; and the people of Antioch addressed to him a petition in deprecation of his purpose, in these terms: "Forasmuch as our city is without walls, for we have been visited in wrath by their fall, we brought hither the sacred body to be our wall and bulwark." Moved by these considerations, the emperor yielded to their prayer, and left them in possession of the venerable body. It has been preserved nearly entire to my time: and, in company with many priests, I enjoyed the sight of his sacred head, in the episcopate of the famous Gregory, when Philippicus had requested that precious relics of saints might be sent to him for the protection of the Eastern armies. And, strange as is the circumstance, the hair of his |28 head had not perished, but is in the same state of preservation as when he was alive and sojourning with mankind. The skin of his forehead, too, was wrinkled and indurated, but is nevertheless preserved, as well as the greater part of his teeth, except such as had been violently removed by the hands of faithful men, affording by their appearance an indication of the personal appearance and years of the man of God. Beside the head lies the iron collar, to which, as the companion of its endurance, the famous body has imparted a share of its own divinely-bestowed honours; for not even in death has Simeon been deserted by the loving iron. In this manner would I have detailed every particular, thereby benefiting both myself and my readers, had not Theodoret, as I said before, already performed the task more fully.
DESCRIPTION OF THE APPEARANCE OF A STAR NEAR THE COLUMN OF SIMEON.
LET me, however, add a record of another circumstance which I witnessed. I was desirous of visiting the precinct of this saint, distant nearly thirty stadia from Theopolis, and situated near the very summit of the mountain. The people of the country give it the title of Mandra, a name bequeathed to the spot, as I |29 suppose, by the holy Simeon, in respect of the discipline which he there had practised. The ascent of the mountain is as much as twenty stadia. The temple is constructed in the form of a cross, adorned with colonnades on the four sides. Beside the colonnades are arranged handsome columns of polished stone, sustaining a roof of considerable elevation; while the centre is occupied by an unroofed court of the most excellent workmanship, where stands the pillar, of forty-cubits, on which the incarnate angel upon earth spent his heavenly life. Adjoining the roof of the colonnades is a balustrade, termed by some persons windows, forming a fence towards both the before-mentioned court and the colonnades. At the balustrade, on the left of the pillar, I saw, in company with all the people who were there assembled, while the rustics were performing dances round it, a very large and brilliant star, shooting along the whole balustrade, not merely once, twice, or thrice, but repeatedly; vanishing, moreover, frequently, and again suddenly appearing: and this occurs only at the commemorations of the saint. There are also persons who affirm—and there is no reason to doubt the prodigy, considering the credibility of the vouchers, and the other circumstances which I actually witnessed—that they have seen a resemblance of the saint's face flitting about here and there, with a long beard, and wearing a tiara, as was his habit. Free ingress is allowed to |30 men, who repeatedly compass the pillar with their beasts of burden: but the most scrupulous precaution is taken, for what reason I am unable to say, that no woman should enter the sacred building: but they obtain a view of the prodigy from the threshold without, since one of the doors is opposite to the star's rays.
ISIDORE OF PELUSIUM AND SYNESIUS OF CYRENE.
IN the same reign Isidore was also conspicuous: "wide whose renown," according to the language of poetry; having become universally celebrated by deed and word. To such a degree did he waste his flesh by severe discipline, and feed his soul by elevating doctrine, as to pursue upon earth the life of angels, and be ever a living monument of monastic life and contemplation of God. Besides his numerous other writings, well stored with various profit, there are some addressed to the renowned Cyril; from which it appears that he flourished contemporary with the divine bishop. And now, while endeavouring to give every attraction to my work, let me also bring upon the scene Synesius of Cyrene, whose memory will add an embellishment to my narrative. This Synesius, while possessed of every other kind of learning, carried the study of philosophy, in particular, to its |31 highest pitch; so as to gain the admiration even of those Christians whose decision upon things which fall under their observation is not guided by favouring or adverse prejudice. They, accordingly, persuade him to resolve on partaking of the saving regeneration, and to take upon himself the yoke of the priesthood, while as yet he did not admit the doctrine of the resurrection, nor was inclined to hold that tenet; anticipating, with well-aimed conjecture, that this belief would be added to his other excellencies, since divine grace is never content to leave its work unfinished. Nor were they disappointed in their expectation: for his epistles, written after his accession to the priesthood, and composed with elegance and learning, as well as his discourse addressed to Theodosius himself, and whatever is extant of his valuable writings, sufficiently show how excellent and great a man he was.
TRANSLATION OF THE REMAINS OF IGNATIUS.
AT the same period also took place the translation of the divine Ignatius, as is recorded, with other matters, by John the rhetorician: who, having found a tomb, as he himself desired, in the bowels of the wild beasts, in the amphitheatre of Rome, had, nevertheless, through the preservation of the more solid bones, |32 which were conveyed to Antioch, long reposed in what is called the cemetery: the good God having moved Theodosius to dignify the bearer of the name Theophorus with increased honours, and to dedicate a temple, long ago devoted to the demons, and called by the inhabitants Tychaeum, to the victorious martyr. Thus, what was formerly the shrine of Fortune, became a sanctuary and holy precinct for Ignatius, by depositing there his sacred remains, which were conveyed on a car through the city, attended by a solemn procession. From this event arose the celebration of a public festival, accompanied with rejoicings of the whole population; which has continued to our times, and received increased magnificence at the hands of the prelate Gregory. Such results were brought about by the conspiring agency of friends and foes, while God was decreeing honour to the holy memories of the saints. For the impious Julian, that heaven-detested power, when the Daphnaean Apollo, whose prophetic voice proceeded from the Castalian fount, could give no response to the emperor's consultation, since the holy Babylas, from his neighbouring resting-place, restrained his utterance; was goaded on to be an unwilling instrument in honouring that saint by a translation; on which occasion was also erected to him, outside the city, a spacious temple, which has remained entire to the present day: the object of the removal being that the demons might no longer be |33 overawed in the pursuit of their own practices, the performance of which, as is said, they had previously promised to Julian. Thus were events disposed by the providence of God, in his design that both the power of those who were dignified by martyrdom should be clearly manifested, and the sacred relics of the holy martyr should be transferred to sacred ground, and be honoured with a noble precinct.
ATTILA KING OF THE HUNS. EARTHQUAKES.
DURING those times arose the celebrated war of Attila, king of the Scythians: the history of which has been written with great care and distinguished ability by Priscus the rhetorician, who details, in a very elegant narrative, his attacks on the eastern and western parts of the empire, how many and important cities he reduced, and the series of his achievements until he was removed from the world.
It was also in the reign of Theodosius that an extraordinary earthquake occurred, which threw all former ones into the shade, and extended, so to speak, over the whole world. Such was its violence, that many of the towers in different parts of the imperial city were overthrown, and the long wall, as it is termed, of the Chersonese, was laid in ruins; the earth opened and swallowed |34 up many villages; and innumerable other calamities happened both by land and sea. Several fountains became dry, and, on the other hand, large bodies of water were formed on the surface, where none existed before: entire trees were torn up by the roots and hurled aloft, and mountains were suddenly formed by the accumulation of masses thrown up. The sea also cast up dead fish; many islands were submerged; and, again, ships were seen stranded by the retreat of the waters. At the same time Bithynia, the Hellespont, and cither Phrygia, suffered severely. This calamity prevailed for a considerable time, though the violence with which it commenced, did not continue, but abated by degrees until it entirely ceased.
ANTIOCH EMBELLISHED BY DIFFERENT GOVERNORS.
IN the course of the same period, Memnonius, Zoilus, and Callistus, were sent out by Theodosius to the government of Antioch, men who made our religion an object of marked honour. Memnonius also rebuilt from the foundation, in a beautiful and elaborate style, the edifice which we name Psephium, leaving an unroofed court in the centre. Zoilus built the basilica, which is situated on the south side of that of Rufinus, and which has continued to bear his name to our times, |35 although the structure itself has undergone changes from various casualties. Callistus, too, erected a noble and striking edifice, called both in former and present times the Basilica of Callistus, in front of the seats of justice, and opposite the forum where stand the splendid buildings which are the quarters of the military commanders. Subsequently, Anatolius, having been sent out as commander of the forces of the East, erects the basilica which bears his name, and embellishes it with every variety of material. The introduction of these matters, though beside my more immediate purpose, will not offend the taste of the curious reader.
WARS DURING THE REIGN OF THEODOSIUS.
IN the times of Theodosius, repeated revolts took place in Europe, during the reign of Valentinian at Rome. These were crushed by Theodosius, who sent out for that purpose large land and naval forces. He also so far quelled the insolence of the Persians, whose sovereign at that time was Isdigerdes, the father of Vararanes, or, as Socrates thinks, Vararanes himself, as to reduce them to solicit peace; which was granted, and lasted till the twelfth year of the reign of Anastasius. These transactions have been recorded by other writers, and have also been very elegantly |36 epitomised by Eustathius of Epiphania, the Syrian, who wrote, besides, an account of the capture of Amida. In that age, too, it is said that the poets Claudian and Cyrus flourished; and that Cyrus was elevated to the seat of highest dignity among the prefects, styled by our ancestors the prefect of the palace, and was also invested with the command of the forces of the West, when the Vandals under Genseric had made themselves masters of Carthage.
THE EMPRESS EUDOCIA.
THEODOSIUS also espoused Eudocia, who had previously participated in the saving baptism; an Athenian by birth, and distinguished by poetic skill and beauty of person; through the offices of his sister, the princess Pulcheria. By her he had a daughter Eudoxia, whom, when she had reached a marriageable age, the emperor Valentinian afterwards espoused; for which purpose he made a voyage from the elder Rome to the city of Constantine. At a subsequent period, when Eudocia was pursuing a journey to the holy city of Christ our God, she also visits this place; and concluded an address to our people with the following verse, 'Tis from your blood I proudly trace my line:6 in allusion to the colonies which were sent hither from |37 Greece. Of these, if any one is curious to know the particulars, an elaborate account has been given by Strabo, the geographer, Phlegon, and Diodorus Siculus, as well as by Arrian and Pisander the poet, and, besides, by the distinguished sophists, Ulpian, Libanius, and Julian. On this occasion, the sons of the Antiochenes honoured her with a skilfully executed statue in brass, which has been preserved even to our times. At her suggestion, Theodosius considerably enlarges the bounds of the city, by extending the circuit of the wall as far as the gate which leads to the suburb of Daphne: of which those who are disposed, may assure themselves by visible proof; for the whole wall may still be traced, since the remains afford a sufficient guidance to the eye. Some, however, say that the elder Theodosius extended the wall. He gave, besides, two hundred pounds' weight of gold for the restoration of the baths of Valens, which had been partially burnt.
VISITS OF EUDOCIA TO JERUSALEM. ASCETICS.
FROM this city Eudocia proceeds on two occasions to Jerusalem; but on account of what circumstances, or with what object in the first instance, must be gathered through those writers who have treated the |38 subject, although they do not appear to me to give true accounts. At all events, when visiting the holy city of Christ, she did many things for the honour of our Saviour God, even so far as to erect holy monasteries, and what are termed laurae. In these places the mode of life is different, but the discipline of each terminates in the same devout object. For those who live together in companies are still not under the influence of any of those things which weigh down to the earth, since they possess no gold: but why should I say gold ? when no article of even dress or food is the sole property of any one among them, but the gown or vest which one is now wearing, another presently puts on, so that the clothing of all appears to belong to one, and that of one to all. A common table also is set before them, not delicately furnished with meats or any other dainties, but supplied with fare of herbs and pulse, and that only in sufficient quantity to sustain life. They maintain common supplications to God throughout the day and night, to such a degree distressing themselves, so galling themselves by their severe service, as to seem, in a manner, tombless corpses. They also frequently practice superadditions, as they are called, namely, by maintaining their fastings for two or three days; and some on the fifth day, or even later, scarcely allow themselves a portion of necessary food. On the other hand, there is a class who pursue a contrary course, and individually seclude themselves in |39 chambers of so limited a height and width, that they can neither stand upright nor lie down at ease, confining their existence to "dens and caves of the earth," as says the apostle. Some, too, take up their dwelling with the wild beasts, and in untracked recesses of the ground; and thus offer their supplications to God. Another mode has also been devised, one which reaches to the utmost extent of resolution and endurance: for transporting themselves to a scorched wilderness, and covering only those parts which nature requires to be concealed, both men and women leave the rest of their persons exposed both to excessive frosts and scorching blasts, regardless alike of heat and cold. They, moreover, cast off the ordinary food of mankind, and feed upon the produce of the ground, whence they are termed Grazers; allowing themselves no more than is barely sufficient to sustain life. In consequence, they at length became assimilated to wild beasts, with their outward form altogether disfigured, and their mind in a state no longer fitted for intercourse with their species, whom they even shun when they see them; and, on being pursued, contrive to escape, favoured either by their swiftness of foot, or by places difficult of access. I will mention still another class, which had almost escaped recollection, though it bears away the preeminence from all others. Its numbers are very small; but still there are persons, who, when by virtue they have attained to a condition exempt |40 from passion, return to the world. In the midst of the stir, by plainly intimating that they are indifferent to those who view them with amazement, they thus trample under foot vain-glory, the last garment, according to the wise Plato, which it is the nature of the soul to cast off. By similar means they study the art of apathy in eating, practising it even, if need be, with the petty retailers of victuals. They also constantly frequent the public baths, mostly mingling and bathing with women, since they have attained to such an ascendancy over their passions, as to possess dominion over nature, and neither by sight, touch, or even embracing of the female, to relapse into their natural condition; it being their desire to be men among men, and women among women, and to participate in both sexes. In short, by a life thus all excellent and divine, virtue exercises a sovereignty in opposition to nature, establishing her own laws, so as not to allow them to partake to satiety in any necessary. Indeed, their own rule enjoins them to hunger and thirst, and to clothe the body only so far as necessity requires: and their mode of life is balanced by opposite scales, so accurately poised, that they are unconscious of any tendency to motion, though arising from strongly antagonist forces; for opposing principles are, in their case, mingled to such a degree, by the power of divine grace combining and again severing things that are incongruous, that life and death dwell together in |41 them, things opposed to each other in nature and in circumstances: for where passion enters, they must be dead and entombed; where prayer to God is required, they must display vigour of body and energy of spirit, though the flower of life be past. Thus with them are the two modes of life combined, so as to be constantly living with a total renunciation of the flesh, and at the same time mingling with the living; both applying remedies to their bodies, and presenting to God the cries of suppliants, and in all other respects fully maintaining a practice in accordance with their former mode of life, except as regards restriction in intercourse and place: on the contrary, they listen to all, and associate with all. They also practise a long and continuous series of kneelings and risings, their earnestness alone serving to reinvigorate their years and self-inflicted weakness; being, as it were, fleshless athletes, bloodless wrestlers, esteeming fasting as a varied and luxurious feast, and the utmost abstinence from food a completely furnished table. On the other hand, whenever a stranger visits them, even at early dawn, they welcome him with generous entertainment, devising another form of fasting in eating against their will. Hence the marvel, how far the pittance on which they subsist falls short of a sufficient allowance of food; foes of their own desires and of nature, but devoted to the wills of those around them, in order that fleshly enjoyment may be constantly expelled, and |42 the soul, diligently selecting and maintaining whatever is most seemly and pleasing to God, may alone bear sway: happy in their mode of existence here, happier in their departure hence, on which they are ever intent, impatient to behold Him whom they desire.
BUILDINGS ERECTED BY EUDOCIA. ACCESSION OF MARCIAN.
AFTER having conversed with many persons of this description, and founded, as I have already said, many such seats of contemplation, and, besides, restored the walls of Jerusalem, the consort of Theodosius also erected a very large sanctuary, conspicuous for elevation and beauty, in honour of Stephen, the first of deacons and martyrs, distant less than a stadium from Jerusalem. Here her own remains were deposited, when she had departed to the unfading life.
When Theodosius had subsequently, or, as some think, before Eudocia, departed the sovereignty which he had administered for eight and thirty years, the most excellent Marcian is invested with the empire of the Romans. The sequel of my history shall very clearly set forth the transactions of his reign over the East, while the heavenly impulse bestows its own kindly aid.
THE END OF THE FIRST BOOK.
[Footnotes have been moved to the end and assigned numbers rather than the asterisks etc used in the printed volume. Footnotes in [Red] are taken from the running titles, not the bottom of the page]
1. * The "Greek Ecclesiastical Historians of the First Six Centuries," newly translated : viz. I. Eusebius's History, to A.D. 324 ; II. Eusebius's Life of Constantine, Orations, etc. ; III. Socrates's History, A.D. 305—445; IV. Sozomen's Narrative, A.D. 324—440; V. Theodoret's History, 322—428; VI. Evagrius's History, A.D. 431—594; in six uniform volumes, each 7s. in cloth. London: Samuel Bagster and Sons.
2. [A. D. 431.]
3. * Thucydides. B. ii. c. 45.
4. [A.D. 449.]
5. [A.D. 440.]
6. * Hom. Il. vi. 211.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 19th October 2002. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font, free from here.
|Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts|