John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3 -- Book 1
DURING the reign of Justinian, the empress Theodora, a devoted member of the Monophysite party, had built and endowed at Constantinople numerous monasteries, in which she placed bodies of monks drawn chiefly from the Asiatic provinces of the Roman empire. Fostered by the empress they naturally were looked upon with displeasure by the patriarchs of Constantinople, whose authority they disowned; for already their own organization was complete, and from the death of Severus, patriarch of Antioch, A. D. 542, to the present day, there has been maintained in the East a succession of Monophysite patriarchs, to whom all the members of the party owe allegiance. But as lesser evils close at hand are more felt than greater ones at a distance, so probably the residence of Theodosius, the exiled patriarch of Alexandria, at Constantinople, annoyed the ecclesiastical authorities there far more than the rapid increase of |2 Monophysitism in the East. For though Justinian had removed Theodosius from his see, yet he was received at court with so much distinction by Theodora, and so thoroughly supported by her influence, that his disgrace was turned into a triumph, and during his thirty years' exile, to his death in A. D. 567, he exercised paramount authority over the numerous monasteries and churches of his party at the capital, as well as in Egypt his proper sphere.
The patriarch moreover, who had been intruded into the Constantinopolitan see upon the refusal of Eutychius to subscribe to a notion of Justinian that the body of our Lord was incapable of corruption, was by no means a man likely to bear with any interference with his authority patiently. For John Scholasticus was more of a lawyer than a theologian, and a thorough man of the world; and no sooner therefore had the health of Justin failed, and John was free to carry out his plans, than he determined upon crushing the whole Monophysite party.
The narrative of this persecution is introduced by a pathetic lamentation, in which our historian especially quotes the prophecy of our Lord, that "the brother shall deliver the brother to death:" a prophecy, he says, not to be restricted to the glorious company of the Apostles, but equally belonging to all members of the Church; and especially true in the case of his own party, as being persecuted, not by heathens, |3 but by their fellow-Christians, at whose hands, restrained neither by mercy nor the fear of God, he protests that they met with such cruel and pitiless treatment that heathens could have done no more.
It was, however, the breaking out of this persecution which induced him to add this third part to his Church History. For he had previously completed in twelve books, divided into separate chapters, each with distinct headings, the history, or literally, the narratives and tales of the church, from the days of Julius Caesar, the first king of Rome, to the sixth year of Justin II, Justinian's sister's son: and in it he declares that he had borne willing testimony to Justin's zeal and anxiety for the unity of the church, his earnest desire being to speak the truth whatever might befal. For this concluding portion he requests the indulgence of his readers, if they find it destitute of arrangement and with occasional repetitions: for it was written under circumstances of great difficulty, piecemeal as opportunity permitted; nay, he even apologizes for writing it at all: "for I am fully aware that the times of the world are on the wane, and all but spent: yet have I recorded these events, because I would have men know them during the period, short though it be, ere this woebegone world shall pass away."
[I. 4.] He introduces his narrative by a string of quotations from "the groans and lamentable cries of the much suffering Jeremiah, and the glorious |4 prophet Isaiah," spoken originally of Jerusalem, but applied by him to the Monophysite church; doubtless their most mournful expressions seemed to him, and that rightly, to find their fulfilment in the events of his own time; for it is thus that Scripture is the support and consolation of all ages, because its words whether of joy or sorrow are not confined to one fulfilment, but belong to all times and all individuals. These however we may pass by, and proceed to his history.
[I. 5.] For the long period then of more than forty years, all the congregations of the orthodox church had enjoyed a time of peace and tranquillity both in the capital and its suburbs; and in entire liberty, fully and freely and without fear, had assembled wherever they chose, and performed all the mysteries and ordinances of the church. But suddenly in the holy days of the Lenten fast, on the Saturday 1 before Palm Sunday, from the urgency and wicked violence of him who governed the church of the capital, namely John of Sirmin 2, a village in Syria, and from his numerous slanders against the whole party of the orthodox, the victorious Justin was |5 stirred up unto great wrath, and in an angry decree commanded that all the places where the believers assembled should be shut up, the altars in them razed, their priests and bishops seized and cast into prison, and all who met there for worship driven away and dispersed, and commanded never to enter them again. And other similar decrees and injunctions were issued in great wrath, whereas up to that time they had been permitted in peace and quietness to celebrate the rites of their religion.
The loss of a portion of the manuscript keeps us in ignorance of the measures which immediately followed. When the narrative recommences, we find the prefect sitting in judgment upon (apparently) an old man, who thus indignantly apostrophizes his judge.; [I.9] "...Why sittest thou as a Christian, and judgest the servants of God after the fashion of a heathen? Thou art not a living man, if thou dost not quickly burn me, a weak old man, and roast and eat me." Similar emphatic protests against the cruelty of the persecutors occur in other parts of John's history. The prefect on hearing himself thus addressed was alarmed, and moved by the prisoner's great age, commanded him to be conducted to the bishop: but he in great anger sent and imprisoned him at Heraclea in Thrace, where during two years he was so closely confined that none of his friends were permitted to see him; and as no change of raiment was provided for him, he was soon covered with |6 vermin: and when one of his former disciples who had heard of his state procured for him a supply of clothing, he was not allowed to give it him even by the hands of others. At the end of two years he sickened and died: and in his last words pronounced a solemn anathema, in case he should be buried by the Synodites 3, or if any one of them should dare to minister at his funeral, or offer over him a prayer. A crowd of orthodox Romans therefore in the neighbourhood undertook the charge of his burial, and wrapping his body as that of an illustrious martyr in cere cloths and spices, they conducted him in solemn procession towards the capital, uttering as they went cries of indignation and shame at the persecution of such holy men: and finally a party of believers from the capital went out to receive the corpse, as being that of a saint.
[I. 10.] The patriarch's chief attack however was directed against the monasteries, of which there existed many both in Constantinople itself, and its neighbourhood, and of these several had a very large number of inmates, especially the convents, in which the late queen Theodora had placed the nuns who in a previous persecution |7 had been driven out of Antioch, Isauria, Cilicia, Cappadocia, and the Roman provinces in the east. So powerful in fact were some of these establishments that they numbered more than three hundred members. Upon these then also descended the storm and tempest of persecution, and a murky cloud and terrifying darkness covered them; for there came clergy and laics with the prison-keepers, and sergeants, and along with them the body-guard of the prefect of the city; who being let loose upon them with barbarous violence surrounded the convents, and like a troop of wolves breaking into and falling upon a fold of sheep, so they rushed in, and laid their destructive hands upon the inmates, who were Christ's own lambs; and the clergy, who had brought with them consecrated bread, dragged and pulled them by main force to make them receive the communion at their hands. And they all fled like birds before the hawk, and cowered down in corners, wailing and saying, 'We cannot communicate with the synod of Chalcedon, which divides Christ our God into two natures after the union, and teaches a quaternity instead of the Holy Trinity.' But with angry words and main force they were dragged up to communicate; and when they held their hands above their heads, in spite of their screams their hands were seized, and they were dragged along, uttering shrieks of lamentation, and sobs, and loud cries, and struggling to escape. And so the |8 sacrament was thrust by force into the mouths of some, in spite of their screams, while others threw themselves on their faces upon the ground, and cursed every one who required them to communicate by force. Some of them then they thus reduced to obedience; but others who still resisted, and would not yield, they separated from the rest, and expelled them from their convents, and delivered them into the hands of the Roman sergeants, by whom they were hurriedly torn away, and taken to the city, and dispersed there among various houses and prisons; and, as was said, they there met at the hands of some with treatment too wanton and abominable for us to mention. But there is One, Who seeth their cause, even the righteous Judge, Who shall judge their cause and avenge their quarrel.
And thus then, and in this savage and barbarous manner, were the convents treated, both of men and women.
[I. 11.] The person who stirred up and occasioned and put into execution all these evils, was the John mentioned above as head of the church in the city. For he by his slanders inflamed the king against the whole party of the believers, and so worked upon him that at length he obtained permission to treat them as he liked: whereupon, by means of his satellites, he poured upon their ranks every where the blight of his wicked nature. For his measures were not |9 confined to the city, nor to his own diocese, but he wrote letters also to other countries, that he might stir up the like troubles and persecutions and miseries also there. He even went in person to the convents both of men and women, and to houses, and forced and compelled the inmates to communicate with him, and whoever persisted in refusing, both men and women, whether monks or clergy or nuns, he commanded in cruel wrath and without mercy, that they should be imprisoned separately in various monasteries, and finally pronounced against them harsh sentences of death. He managed also so to deceive and stir up their victorious majesties, that they did whatever he wished, and visited the convents one after another, the patriarch going to each first in person, accompanied by his clergy, to celebrate divine service there and reconsecrate them; after which he proclaimed in them the 'divided synod,' and fixed up his own pictures, and put in them clergy to celebrate the communion every first day of the week, and on the festivals, and days kept in memory of the saints. The following day the king visited the monasteries in person; and the next day the queen in like manner, offering each of them gifts, and restoring such monks as either had, or were ready to make their submission. But such as resisted were exiled, or sent into close confinement, or made over without mercy to the praetorian guards to torture, or given up to whatever bitter and cruel scourgings and ill treatment |10 the fierce and vindictive malice of their persecutors suggested to them.
The measure however which the orthodox most deeply resented was the annulling of the orders of their clergy. And this, as our historian represents it, was the result of mere caprice on the patriarch's part, who was so blinded by mere party rage as to be unable to perceive that such a proceeding was "contrary to reason and justice, and the canons." Probably however he was principally influenced by the desire of increasing the power of his see; for just at this time the bishops of Constantinople were making that attempt, in which Rome finally succeeded, of raising themselves to the headship of the Christian church. Constantinople was not merely then "a second Rome," as they delighted to call it; but from the disastrous state of Italy, it was raised in importance far above its western rival, and the residence of the emperor there, gave to its patriarch the opportunity of gaining for his plans the support of the secular power. Already we find them assuming the title of (Ecumenical bishop, so sharply rebuked a few years later by Gregory the Great of Rome; and probably John's purpose was to extend the authority of his see, by compelling bishops beyond its limits, such as Paul of Antioch, Stephan of Cyprus, &c., to submit to reconsecration at his hands, and return to their dioceses as his suffragans. The accusation of heresy gave him an excuse for meddling beyond his own proper limits, and we shall find |11 him trying his hand, though not successfully, with Alexandria itself. Be this however as it may, the narrative is as follows:
[I. 12.] The bishop therefore being full of the spirit of fierce opposition, and led away by violence and heat, and as a man blinded in the vision of his eyes, so he being blinded by the passion of hatred in his soul, and intoxicated as it were, ventured, after contriving to force and drive into communion with him by savage tyranny and violence, many priests of the orthodox party: after, I say, they had communicated with him, and been received according to their rank in the priesthood, the presbyters being received by him as presbyters, and officiating at the administration of the sacrament on an equal footing with his own presbyters, and sitting in a row with them inside the chancel; and the deacons also in like manner performing in company with his own deacons their appointed part in the services; and that not once merely or thrice, but on as many as thirty-six several occasions in all the offices of the church: after they had thus officiated with him in right of their previous ordination, and fulfilled all the order of their priesthood, then, after all this, the cruel thought entered his mind, as though he had been but a young boy, and violently, being elated with pride, and drunken with power and haughtiness, he gave orders, saying; 'We command all those who have given in their submission to us after being our opponents, that they be deposed from their |12 former priesthood, and be made priests by us anew.' And thus he now deposed them all, after they had acted as priests with him and in his presence thirty-six several times by right of their former ordination by the orthodox, and ordained afresh all who had submitted to communion with him. And great was their dismay and trouble at this proceeding, and they cursed and reviled both him and his lawless ordination. Several of them thus reordained he placed among the clergy of his own church: but many even of his own party blamed the step he had taken, as done wickedly and violently by him, in violation of church law and canonical order. Nor did it suffice him to act thus in his own person, but he even wrote letters to other countries, urging upon the bishops to follow his example, and do as he had done: his object being, not to bear the odium and blame alone of these illegal and disorderly doings, but hoping that others also would make themselves liable to similar complaints.
[I. 13.] Unexpected as was the outbreak of the persecution at the hands of the patriarch, still it had not been entirely unforeseen by the more thoughtful members of the orthodox party. For there had been before revealed to a worthy monk, in a vision of the night, what immediately and without delay was about to happen in the church of God. 'For he saw a lofty and broad mountain, on the southern side of which was a vast plantation of numerous churches, built row upon row, |13 until they covered a vast extent, standing close together, and being beautiful and comely and many in number. And he saw, and lo! suddenly John bishop of the royal city came, with clergy and many people with him, and ran upon them with violence, and began to root up and level with the ground all those churches: and he rooted up and levelled also the altars of them all, until he had made an end of them.' And quickly after this vision, after the interval of a few days, this very thing came to pass; for he came forth, and rooted up and overthrew the numerous meeting-houses of the churches of the believers that were in the city and in all its suburbs, according to the revelation, and according to the vision that had been foreshewn, and which manifestly in a short time was fully accomplished.
The patriarch's main difficulty, however, lay with the Monophysite bishops; and he selected Paul of Asia, bishop of Aphrodisias, and metropolitan of Caria, as the first object of his attack: and his proceedings shew how vast and despotic was the power to which the patriarchs of Constantinople had attained. [I. 14.] For Paul, as John tells us, was an honest and simple-minded old man, and was dwelling quietly in his monastery, when the patriarch sent his emissaries and arrested him, and threw him into chains, and imprisoned him in his palace: and by the severity of his treatment compelled him at length to submit to communion with him. He then sent him back |14 home, but wrote at the same time orders to the synodite bishop there to depose him from his episcopal office, and consecrate him afresh bishop of Antioch, a city of Caria. Which also was actually done, and they deposed him; and, as though they imagined that they had really stripped him of the priesthood, they now ordained him afresh, as if he had been a layman. And this became a mockery and derision to the actors themselves, and to his own people; and his clergy called him "the double-dyed." Whether Paul had been previously deprived of his bishopric does not appear, as John refers to the missing portion of his history for the reason why he was dwelling "in his monastery;" but probably he was under restraint there, and evidently had been previously removed from the discharge of his episcopal functions at Aphrodisias.
In a subsequent part of his history John relates the adventures of Paul at greater length, and even gives the very words of the recantation which the patriarch wrung from him. For apparently forgetting that he had already narrated to us his history, he writes as follows; [ II.42.] "The great sorrow of Paul also deserves to be related, who was a man honest and peaceable, and humble and guileless, and dwelt like Jacob in the tabernacle of his monastery, in the land of Caria, for a long time. And when John of Sirmin heard of him, he sent at once into Asia, and brought him bound and in chains to Constantinople, and imprisoned him in his palace in sore misery: and |15 by bonds and many tortures he forced him to submit to receive the communion at his hands. And because he felt shame at the gray hair and venerable character of the man, he did not reveal the fraud of his heart, and what he purposed concerning him. But after he had brought him to submission, and made him obedient to his will, he sent him to the bishop of Aphrodisias, with a letter in these words: 'Depose this man from his bishopric, and consecrate him afresh, and set him over Antioch, a city under thy dominion (in thy diocese).' And when he had received Paul and the letters, he at once laid hands on him,—for he had no idea of their artifice,—and said to him, 'See, the patriarch has sent me his commands to depose thee from thy bishopric, and consecrate thee afresh.' And he, on hearing this, began lamenting and saying, 'O heathens that ye are! lo, these many years have I been consecrated, and am a bishop, and, according to canonical order, three bishops took part thereat; and now, for what reason am I deposed contrary to the canon, and wickedly ordained anew? And if ye annul my priesthood, and ordain me afresh, then also first annul my baptism, and baptise me afresh.' And when they would not give way, but were even full of wrath at him, they took him tyrannically and violently and deposed him, and consecrated him afresh, while he smote upon his face, and his eyes became dim, and he grew blind. And so finally, in tears and lamentation over his state, and anxious only to hasten for |16 refuge unto repentance, death overtook him, and his old age descended in affliction and misery to the grave, reserving his cause for that Judge who judgeth righteously.
[II. 43.] John further adds a copy of the recantation which they forced Paul to sign without reading it, and which is as follows;
Act of recantation, which the counsellors of John wrote in the name of Paul, and laid it before him.
"I, Paul, who was a lost and erring man, having come to the knowledge of the true faith, and repented, and returned to the Church of God of my own accord, and by my own free act, without violence or compulsion, acknowledge unto thee, my Lord John, the oecumenical patriarch, by this writing, that I consent, unto my last breath, unto the Synod of the six hundred and thirty holy fathers assembled in the city of Chalcedon, and to the letter of the holy and blessed pope of Rome, as the confession and faith of Peter, head of the Apostles; nor will I again turn away or change from it for ever. And these things I have confessed and signed in my own handwriting; I, Paul, bishop, confess that I consent, and receive all that is written in this paper."
This therefore they brought for him to sign, but would not let him read it, or know what they had written in his name, falsely and treacherously professing that it was all his own doing, and testifying of him a testimony of lies without fear of God. |17
[I.15.] The patriarch's next victim was Elisha, who already was in confinement in a monastery called Bethdios 4, whence the patriarch took him, and imprisoned him in his palace, and by the most rigorous measures compelled him to submit to his communion, Elisha hoping, says John, even so to find an opportunity of escaping from his hands. But on the patriarch's wishing to send him to Sardes, the metropolis of Lydia, that he might be deposed from his episcopal office, and consecrated afresh, Elisha resisted, saying, 'All unworthy though I be, yet was I made bishop by the orthodox, and thou never shalt consecrate me afresh. If however thou thinkest that it is according to order to depose me, and consecrate me afresh, depose me first of all from the baptism wherewith I was baptized, and then baptize me a second time.' To this the patriarch craftily replied, that, after all, it was but the vestments which he took away. But Elisha would not for one moment consent, or submit himself to him, or listen to his words: and upon this he grew angry, and imprisoned him in another monastery called Beth Abraham 5, and |18 passed upon him a harsh sentence: and there accordingly he was detained for a long time, and underwent great affliction, until he fell seriously ill, when upon petition he was permitted to go to the warm baths attended by keepers.
[I. 16.] Far more severe and extraordinary was the treatment experienced by Stephan, bishop of Cyprus. He had aroused the wrath of the patriarch by warmly reproving him for seeking to annul the orthodox ordinations, and in return had been banished to the island of Plataea. Thither he now sent a body of clergy to fetch him away, and along with them a number of lifeguardsmen (excubitores), with orders to beat him with clubs 6, until he vomited blood, or consented to their communion. Twelve of them accordingly beat him until he fell down speechless in the midst, and lay apparently dead. But on seeing him lie motionless, and dying as it seemed, they ran, and brought four pails of water, which they dashed over him, and so after a long time his soul returned to him again, and he returned to life as from the dead. And thus by force he was compelled to submit to |19 communion with them; but even so he was less influenced by his own sufferings, than by the knowledge that several of the believers who had sent to supply his wants, had been arrested and thrown into prison on his account, and that in case of further resistance on his part, they intended to attack them, and plunder their property. They took him therefore, and brought him to the capital, where much discussion took place between him and the patriarch, but finally he was compelled to submit to their communion.
When however John required him to consent to the annulling of his orders, and his reconsecration to the bishopric of the island of Cyprus, he contended with him and resisted him, and finally made an outcry, and began to exclaim, 'Woe is me! If thou purposes! to depose me from the priesthood of the orthodox, and ordain me afresh, depose me first also from my baptism, and baptize me also afresh, and then thou shalt depose me from my priesthood and ordain me again. For by the life of the Lord God, if thou dost not baptize me afresh, I will never suffer thee to ordain me afresh.' And as this took place in the church, a great tumult arose, and multitudes flocked together, until Stephan rushed suddenly away, and entered the king's presence, terrifying him also, and exclaiming, 'Woe! woe! Christianity is ruined: the regulations of the Christian church are overthrown: all the constitutions and canons of the church of God are confounded and trampled under foot, and are |20 undone! What means this wickedness, that contrary to law the priesthood of the orthodox Christians is annulled by those who are now in power, and another new one substituted in its place? For lo! these twenty years have I, unworthy though I be, been a bishop canonically consecrated by the orthodox at the command of Theodosius, patriarch of Alexandria; and now that I have yielded myself, and submitted to you, this man, acting in the same wicked way to me as he has done to many others, wishes to depose me also from the priesthood of the orthodox, and to ordain me afresh in his own. Let him show the canons where he learnt this; or say whether it is from ignorance and not understanding the canons of the church, that he thus acts; or whether, knowing them, he insults them and tramples them under foot, in his pride and haughtiness and wrong-headedness. If too this commandment proceeds from you, and he thus acts with your privity, let every one know it: but be well assured, that his purpose is, that after your reign is over, the blame and fault of breaking the canons shall rest upon you, and he intends that you should be included with him in the violation of the laws of the church. If moreover it is with your privity, and by your command, that he annuls our priesthood, and ordains afresh, command him also to annul our baptism and confer it afresh, and so let him proceed to reordain us as priests. For so the nineteenth canon of the three hundred and eighteen fathers commands, |21 with reference to the pernicious heresy of Paul of Samosata, and the like, that they are first to be baptized again, and then such of them as are worthy are to be made priests 7. And this regulation was made because of the wickedness of their heresy. Now then let this man show first of all what his pretext is for thus acting, and for being so puffed up with pride as to depose and ordain us afresh.' When the king heard these things, and perceived that Stephan had good reason for finding fault, and was supported by the canons in his arguments, he was in a maze, and like one just roused from a deep sleep; and himself also blamed and reprobated the proceeding, saying, 'In very truth this is done wrongly and without law, and is contrary to the whole constitution of the church, for the priesthood to be annulled and conferred afresh; and it is monstrous and entirely foreign to all the constitutions of the church.' And then he commanded that such a thing should never again be done in the church |22 of God: and published immediately a royal edict forbidding every one from ever again venturing to annul the priesthood, except in case of the heresies in which the canons so ordain. And if, it proceeds, any bishops are proved guilty of so acting, they are to be immediately deprived of their sees and sent into exile. When however the edict was drawn up, and John knew that a decisive order was about to be published, he and his partisans contrived by bribery to put the obnoxious decree out of the way; and it was never again seen!
And there was great enmity between John and Stephan on this account all their days.
[II. 3.] In a subsequent part of the history, mention is again made of Stephan, where, after an outline of the previous narrative, our historian tells us, that this event led to much confidential intercourse between him and the king, who appointed him bishop of the island of Cyprus, and honoured him greatly, and also granted for his sake a considerable alleviation of the taxes there. It appears further that Stephan continued in union with the council of Chalcedon, the arguments employed being possibly too powerful for him to wish to experience them a second time, but used his influence on more than one occasion in mitigation of the treatment to which other monophysite bishops were exposed.
[I. 17.] The pretext, though, as the event proved, it was but a false and deceitful one, on which John and his counsellors summoned the bishops together, |23 who had previously been exiled by him from their sees, and imprisoned in various monasteries, was, that he wished to confer with them as to the best mode of reconciling all parties, and establishing unity in the Church, On this pretence then he first took Paul the patriarch from the monastery of the Acoemetae 8, and imprisoned him in his palace, and then the rest, one after another, until all four were confined in the same prison, that is, Paul, and John (our author), and Stephan, and Elisha. No discussion, however, was permitted, but they sent them in the prison a paper containing words to this effect; 'You must unite yourselves to us after the manner of the union |24 between Cyril of Alexandria and John of Antioch.' Upon receiving this message, they both understood and despised the wickedness practised towards them, and sent in answer, 'Ye have counselled well: and we therefore, provided we have leave to do and practise that which Cyril did, and may excommunicate and eject and drive out of the Church of God the Synod of Chalcedon just as Cyril did the wicked Nestorius;—upon these terms we will not oppose you upon other matters, but will unite ourselves to you without hindrance. If, however, it is not your pleasure to permit us to do that which Cyril did, how or in what manner craftily plan ye to require of us the union which finally took place between Cyril and John, when the very first step that Cyril took . is forbidden us?'
Nor was this retort the sole rebuff which the patriarch had to endure from the Monophysite bishops: [I. 18.] for on a subsequent day, when they were brought into his presence to dispute concerning the faith, and the corruption of it by the council of Chalcedon, and concerning also his own proceedings, they took the initiative, and reproached him strongly, and argued with him, and rebuked him manfully, urging him with questions, and saying, 'O master, and chief ruler of the church, shew us by what canon or ecclesiastical constitution you have been taught, and received the practice of annulling the ordination of the orthodox bishops, and the rest of the clergy, many of whom have been more years in |25 orders than your father has lived: and yet nevertheless you depose and ordain them afresh in the priesthood of the two natures, the followers of which proclaim and teach a quaternity instead of the mysterious and holy Trinity? In what ecclesiastical constitution have you discovered, and lit upon this right of annulling the priesthood of the true orthodox, and creating afresh in its place another priesthood of the synodites? What is your pretext, or what fault find you in us, or what heresy, such as the canons enjoin, that you take and depose those, who themselves find fault with you, and flee from your communion because of the heresy of the two natures, and because of the blasphemies of the synod, and of the letter of Leo, which proclaim and teach a quaternity instead of the holy Trinity. You least of all men have the right, under pretext of heresy, to find fault with, and condemn them, and pronounce their ordination invalid. If, however, you think you have the right thus illegally to depose them, tell us wherein your right consists, and we will henceforward cease to blame you. For if you have persuaded yourself, that this practice of your's to depose true priests, and ordain them again, in violation of all the constitutions and canons of the church, is a right one, you should also have annulled their baptism, and baptized them again, according to the purport of the canons. For the sixteenth (really the nineteenth) canon of the 318 fathers, which treats of the pernicious heresy of Paul of Samosata, |26 ordered them to be baptized afresh: and that then such as appeared worthy should be ordained priests again. If therefore you now consider in yourself, that you have received back from heresy those whom you have treated with as much cruelty as if they had been captives taken in battle, and ordained afresh, why have you observed one part of the canon, but set at nought its previous requirement?'
The patriarch listened in silence to these arguments, and knew that his acts were worthy of blame, nor had he any defence to offer for them: finally however he answered as follows; 'As I perceive that you are troubled and offended at this annulling of your orders,—for so I conclude from what you have said, and to which I have given a patient audience,—if this matter is set right, and the annulling of your ordinations discontinued, will you be contented, and enter into union with me?' But they replied, 'What setting right is possible, after all this corruption and disorder which you have wrought contrary to law? Nor have your proceedings even been confined to your own diocese, nor limits put by you to your violence and heat and hatred, but you have extended even into other countries this your violation of law, and your opposition to all the constitutions and canons of the church: as regards which, one of two things must be the case, that either in ignorance of their injunctions, you have broken and transgressed them,; and trampled them under foot, or, if acquainted with |27 them, that you have despised and contemned them, and purposely set them at nought. But of this be well assured, that whenever the time shall come, whether in your lifetime, or, if so be, after your death, there will be a strict investigation, and canonical inquiry into all these transactions, if the world last so long, and the existence of the church of God. Moreover your last proceeding is a thing worthy of wonder, and a proverb, and the clapping of hands; whether it be the result of hasty passion, or of hatred, or of the pride of power; or whatever was the object for which you did it; do you settle this and decide it in. your own mind, and whether it was an act fittingly done, and after careful examination; that after you had fallen upon your captives, as if they had been the spoil of war, or like a robber on his prey, and forced them to submit to communion with you; that then, after they had taken part with you in thirty-six consecrations of the Eucharist, and the liturgies during the whole feast of Passover as well as subsequently, and you had received them in right of their former ordination, and had made the presbyters sit with your presbyters in the chancel during all those days called the love feasts, and similarly had admitted the deacons to perform the office of the diaconate with the rest of your deacons, and had placed them according to their degree, that then finally, after all this, you ventured upon the annulling of their former ordination by some strange act of senseless audacity. |28 But a point which we would now leave to your consideration and judgment is this, that in case you were determined, contrary to order and the canons of the church, thus to act, you should have done so before you had admitted them to officiate with you at the consecration of the Eucharist, and not, after all these communions, at which they had been present and taken part with you by right of their former priesthood, then to turn round, and depose them and ordain them afresh.' Much further was said on both sides, which from its copiousness and length we must omit; but it proved to him that his conduct was open to censure, and that, if he examined what he had done, he could not acquit himself of fault, especially in his last and most extraordinary act of annulling the orders of those whom he had himself admitted to officiate with him. Upon these points his silence plainly showed that he felt he was wrong, as he had nothing to answer but arguments of a most trifling and unmeaning character.
[I. 19.] As the followers of the synod perceived that their plans had so far failed, the victorious king Justin next undertook to frame an edict by which he hoped to bring about a union. And when he had carefully copied it out, he sent it direct to the bishops imprisoned in the patriarch's palace by the hand of Zachariah, a learned man 9, and chief physician of the palace, |29 born at Arx Romanorum, and originally, as was generally supposed, of the orthodox persuasion. Him therefore the king sent with a copy of the edict, and a message to the following effect: 'The merciful king has sent you this edict, which he has had copied for your sakes, that ye by its means, together with the rest of your party, may be brought into union with us. And he permits, and even commands you, when ye have read it, to correct in it whatever ye see to be deficient and in need of correction: and whatsoever is deficient in it for a correct confession of faith, such as ye wish should prevail, add to it without fear.' The bishops accordingly having received this command took and read it, and saw that it was incomplete: for though there were expressions in it at variance with the council of Chalcedon, yet there were others borrowed from it, and in defence of its views. In accordance therefore with the command they had received, they drew up heads, under which they arranged the corrections, which if their opponents would consent to admit into the edict, they were ready, they said, to unite themselves in the fullest manner with them. The same messenger then who had brought the edict took the amendments, but showed them first to his privy councillor and adviser John, and the rest of their confederacy, who upon hearing them were in fright and alarm, and great fear fell upon them. For |30 should the bishops succeed in obtaining the insertion of their corrections, they would tear up by its very roots the whole heresy of the two natures. And the strict Nestorians 10 were even in greater alarm than those only half so; and agitated and made an uproar throughout the church, running to and fro, and stirring up both clergy and people, and saying, 'If we accept these conditions, the whole church is thrown into confusion and overturned.' And finally their whole troop assembled together, and went to the king, and endeavoured to persuade him not to admit the corrections into the edict; and at the same time stirred up the members of the court to use their influence in their behalf, many of whom were not sound in their faith, and especially the quaestor, whose name was Anastasius, of Palestine, and who was not only an heathen, but a Samaritan.
When then they had entered the king's presence, and the corrections had been read to him, they pleased him greatly, and he gave orders for their admission into the edict, and that a fair copy should be written out. Upon which all present, clergy and laity, and the members of the senate, strove with him, saying, 'Depend upon it, my lord, that if you admit these corrections into |31 your edict, and these men enter the church, it will be forthwith overturned and ruined: and in seeking to recover and get back a few, you will make men leave the church in tens of thousands.' And when some of them grew vehement in their opposition, he became angry, and turned his face upon them, and said, 'These chapters are right: but as for all of you, I know that you are Nestorians, and diseased in conscience, and rejoice not in a sound faith: and if you are not quiet, I will loose and bring out those bishops, and set them upon you, and make them fall upon you like wolves, nor will you be able to stand before them.' And then he commanded the quaestor to bring him before sunset twenty copies of the edict, with the corrections inserted; or, said he, 'I will take off your head!' And at this the agitation of the whole gang of Nestorians and semi-Nestorians grew extreme, and they buzzed about like a swarm of bees, and at length succeeded, partly by supplications and partly by terrifying him with the picture of the confusion it would introduce into the church, in prevailing upon him, after much importunity, to consent to leave the matter to their will; nor did they permit him to insert more than one or two trifling amendments: while, on their part, they introduced heretically into the body of the edict a rule to the effect, that the customs of the church were to be observed; which was a device, and crafty addition in favour of the synod, enjoining its |32 proclamation 11 in accordance with their custom. And, by this they intended to render a union impossible, and trusted to make the wheel revolve in their favour as Nestorians.
[I. 20.] Immediately that the edict thus amended was brought unto him written out fair, he signed one of the copies, and sent it to the bishops who were in prison, with a message, saying, 'See! now we have made a union upon the terms you require, and have sent you the edict, and you therefore cannot refuse to unite yourselves unto us; for it is for your sakes that I have composed this edict.' But the bishops, on reading it, saw that some fragments merely of the corrections which they had proposed were there, selected at the will of the other party, and therefore they rejected it, because their opponents had confused and mutilated it, according to their own fancy: and though they had not ventured, through fear of the king, to expunge those expressions of his which were opposed to the two natures, yet they had managed to insert in it so much of their own, that while some parts were against the synod, others were strongly in its favour, and plainly were borrowed from it and on its side. The answer, therefore, which the bishops gave to those who brought it was, that "if the |33 stumbling-block and source of the confusion of the whole church, the synod namely of Chalcedon, were entirely taken away, the church would stand in no need of the edict: but if it were to be proclaimed in the church, not a thousand such edicts, though fixed up in all parts and in every quarter, would bring about a unity, but produce rather schisms. For it is both opposed to the synod, and also contends in its behalf: and both sides of the argument are to be found in it.'
[I. 21.] As they had thus rejected the terms proposed, the patriarch threw upon them the odium of the continuance of the schism, and every day, in company with those sent unto them to represent the king's person, he protested, saying, 'See, it is you who prevent and hinder the unity of the church of God. For, after all our efforts for fifty years 12, you are still driving it away, and resisting and grieving it, and not willing to come to any terms of peace.' But they in answer said, 'How do we prevent unity? A thing which you will not touch with one of your fingers, except so far as outside words go and trickery, that you may be supposed and imagined really by men to be in earnest after unity; and throw, if your devices succeed, all the blame upon us. And what is the unity you would make? or how can |34 you expect us to come to terms with you, while you still retain the synod which has uprooted and troubled the whole church of God, and proclaim it, and love it ? If. however, you are really anxious to bring about a unity according to your words, remove the snare and offence out of the level pathway of the faith, and eject it from God's church: and so, not we only, but all the believers, with joy, and free from all cause of stumbling, will unite ourselves to you.' And much more of the same sort was said, which we cannot detail because of the great thickness of paper which it would require; which passed between them every day in mutual discussion, but which, from the abundance of the words and the mass of writing, we have passed over and neglected, lest it should prove an annoyance to those who fall in with bur history.
[I. 22.] But this was not all the bishops had to suffer, for they were also in disgrace with the chief laymen of their own party. For even before the persecution broke out, and the trials and distresses and imprisonments which it brought upon them, they were sharply reproached by other members of the orthodox party, who argued with them, saying, 'Why do ye thus persist in dispute and obstinacy, and hot make some compromise and give way a little, that there may be unity in the church of God ? Why stand ye thus with stiff neck, and resist those who are in power, without having any care for us, whom ye are ruining with our sons and daughters and |35 our substance? But what care ye that we lose our property, and become beggars?' And as these reproaches had even before been addressed to them by the orthodox, annoyed at the loss of their wealth, and as now moreover the synodites protested against them every day, saying, 'Ye are the persons who stand in the way of unity,' they fell into great grief, and spent both day and night in sorrow and bitter weeping, sitting over against one another in tears and wailing and sobs, and saying with sad words, 'What then shall we do? for lo! we are blamed by both sides, and testified against, and found fault with: and while we are imprisoned here in misery, and no leave granted to any friend to see us, our opponents say and proclaim to the chiefs and nobles of our party, that they earnestly desire unity; and so we have to bear the whole blame of preventing unity, for every body will suppose that what they say is true. And thus we are exposed to the attacks of both sides, and shall be compelled to yield, and trust ourselves to the treacherous promises and false oaths of our opponents; though we know that they have no truth in them, and that they are unworthy of being the means of restoring unity. Should we however still resist them, we shall be held accursed of both sides even unto the end of the world, as the impeders and hinderers of the unity of the church of God, while they will have their false professions believed, and will gain the credit of being ready to effect a union, had not |36 we repelled their efforts.' These, and such as these, says John, were the words they spake one to another during many days, with tears and groans; and he adds his protest, as in the presence of God, that his report of them is true, and himself present and an eyewitness of it all. I. 23. The discussion lasted thirty-three days, during which they were ranged against one another in sharp dispute: those on the side of the synod being clad in all the pride of power, while those who dissented from it were shut up in prison, and bitterly oppressed. And whenever their presence was required, they were loosed and taken out of their prison, and brought into the patriarch's court 13, where they were allowed to sit down, and the disputation began, and lasted as long as those in power permitted. For when either they were beaten in argument, or otherwise chose, the bishops were sent away, accompanied by their keepers, and were imprisoned within three sets of guards, the innermost being the bishop's own, the second consisting of men |37 belonging to the emperor's body-guard, while the third was the foreign guard, who kept the outer watch. Nor were they the only sufferers, for their confinement was shared by their dependents, and not merely by the clergy and monks and other freemen, but even by their slaves, all of whom without distinction were imprisoned in dark and bitter dungeons in the palace, and closely watched. Nor was this all, for they were stripped as bare as thieves could do it by the patriarch's body-guard and apparitors, who not only took from them their coats, but even trifles of no use to them, together with their shoes and girdles and belts; and in fact whatever was found upon them they took away, and left them upon the bare ground, with scarcely clothing to cover them, or food sufficient for their maintenance. Nor was any one allowed to visit them, or supply them with anything whatsoever either for their own wants, or for the use of the bishops. And instead of the promised unity, they and their friends had to bear all these evils and griefs and temptations; and the more so because they had plainly beaten in argument those who were thus torturing them.
[I. 24.] Finally the bishops gave way: for on one occasion being summoned as usual into the patriarch's presence, they found not only John there sitting as president, but also some high officers sent to represent the king's person, who sharply reproached them in his name for their obstinacy, saying, 'How long will ye thus resist and |38 prevent the unity of the church of God, which our lord the king, and we also, are anxious to bring about, but which blessing you day by day prevent, and drive away? When will you cease thus to show plainly to all men that you are the disturbers of the church, and you alone? Now therefore, in short, either unite yourselves to us, or make it evident that it is you who trouble and disturb and hinder the unity of the church.' But the bishops in grief and deep sorrow said, 'Were matters justly tried, and by upright rules, it is not we who hinder union, but you, who, while the very centre of your heart is full of the corruption of opposition and division introduced at Chalcedon, wish to make it appear that we are the hinderers, while ye neither have proposed to yourselves, nor shown that you possess even the shadow of unity. What you fraudulently require is, that we should unite ourselves to all the falseness of Chalcedon, without seeking in the least to bring about in a just and upright manner a real union of the church. And now, as we have said from the beginning, if you wish really for unity, and your purpose is not rather to bring about a fraudulent deception and wicked artifice, put away first of all the cause of this division from between us, and at once unity is established in its place. Do not then falsely throw the blame upon us. And besides, supposing that this simple plan has never entered your minds, why, we ask, do you every day thus oppress and wrong us? why do you add |39 to our anxieties pain and the misery of imprisonment, and the other wrongs which without fear of God you inflict upon us, while every day you further torture us with your words, and pierce thorns into our sores? Have you no fear of God, when you see that, lo! already our lives are consumed and spent and gone from the troubles which surround us on all sides? If therefore you really propose to make union, as your words declare, put away the council of Chalcedon, which has troubled and divided, and caused schism in the church, as you yourselves cannot deny, and so will a unity, free from all division, be established throughout the whole church of God.' And to this John and his assessors replied, 'It is you who prevent the ejection of the synod from the church: for if you united yourselves unto us, forthwith the synod also would be ejected, and the unity become complete.' To this the bishops answer, that they can conceive no other explanation of his conduct than the wish to make them accept the council of Chalcedon, 'of which be thou well assured, said they,and all besides, that until the last breath cease from the nostrils of each one of us, the anathema of the synod and of Leo's letter, which conspire in dividing our Lord and God and Saviour into two natures after the union 14, shall never |40 cease from our mouths.' But John and those with him answered, 'As we have often said before, so now, both we and our lords, their majesties, give you our word, and our oath as in the presence of God, that upon your union with us the synod shall immediately be put away: and whatever comes out of our mouths shall not be changed.' But still the bishops doubted, and said, 'If you really intend to do as you say, why do you not reject the synod at once, that not we alone, but all men without hindrance may join you? Plainly your object is rather to take us by subtlety, and make us accept the heresy of the two natures, and then afterwards you will turn round and laugh at us. If this however be really your purpose, be assured that you delude and deceive your own selves: for we know full well that your purposes and thoughts are not for unity, inasmuch as it is quite evident that what you say is not the truth, and that you pretend to be ready in words only, that we may be thought by every body to be the sole obstacles to union, and be anathematized both by you and all the world as the disturbers of the peace. Nevertheless, we will sacrifice ourselves for the sake of unity, for confiding in your words and promises, and acting as though already the synod were anathematized and ejected, we, with its anathema nevertheless incessantly in our mouths, |41 will communicate with you, once, or if so be, twice; but as for a third time, until the anathematizing and ejection of the synod has taken place, we will have neither part nor communion with you for ever and ever. For we know that you will not establish the truth of your words. But to make it plain and evident to all men that you are not prepared to make unity, but purpose to deceive us and all men, lo! we yield ourselves up to communion with you, as often as two times.' And much more was similarly said and protested on both sides, and so at length the bishops gave way, saying, 'Because of the slanders brought against us by the synodites, see, we yield ourselves up that it may be known that we are not those who prevent union.' For every body blamed them on both sides, saying, 'See, their majesties, and the patriarch are anxious, and in earnest and ready to make union, but those in prison prevent and hinder it.' And therefore they yielded themselves up with great sorrow, and anathematizing with loud voice the council of Chalcedon, submitted themselves to communion twice, as they had promised and agreed, after having strenuously demanded of the king and patriarch, with many adjurations during all those three and thirty days its anathematization and expulsion from the church.
The bishops apparently twice communicated with their opponents, and were let out of their prison: but upon pressing for the ejection of the |42 synod, the patriarch and his council began, as our historian proceeds, to alter their words, and make excuses, saying; 'We will write to the pope of Rome: and if he assents, we will eject the council: for we cannot for your sakes separate ourselves from Rome.' To which the bishops sadly replied: 'Now may we also repeat the word of the prophet Jonah, [Jon. iv. 2.] " Was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country?" But now at least it is known and made plain to all men, that not we in our prison, and in bitter misery, are the obstacles to unity, for which we have yielded ourselves up, but that those who are clad in power, and oppress us, have been false to their promises and oaths, and seek nevertheless to throw all the blame, not of this generation only, but of all future times, upon us, as though we hindered and prevented the unity of the whole church of God: but now men will say, "See, they have sacrificed themselves for it, though treachery has been used towards them.'"
[I. 25.] But who can suffice to write or to detail the misery and grief and lamentation and breaking of heart, which came upon them after they had thus fallen into communion with their deceivers, and submitted to union with them, when union was never intended? For now their strength was spent and gone, and their eyes swollen and blinded with weeping and lamentation night and day; and scarcely might the grief of a woman for the husband of her youth be compared with theirs. For they could no longer eat their usual |43 food, but remained fasting and without consolation, while their tears flowed unceasingly and unremittingly, and they sat with their faces covered, and bewailed with bitter cries and groans one unto another; and especially that now, after so many conflicts and imprisonments, and afflictions, they had thus been taken by false craft, and submitted themselves, and fallen, while all hope of unity was far away, and the promise made them unfulfilled. So sad was their state, that those who had deceived them how tried to comfort them, when they saw them thus consumed, and surviving only for grief, and said, 'Why do ye thus kill both body and soul, as if ye had sacrificed to idols? What have ye decreed against yourselves, that ye continue thus weeping and lamenting, and choking yourselves with grief? Take food, and be comforted, and live, and not die.' But though this and much more was said by their opponents, they refused to be comforted, and sat the rather in mourning and weeping; and after spending many days in indignation after they had been released from prison, they finally returned, and stood up manfully, and reproached them even more boldly than before, chiding and reviling them for their false and treacherous conduct; and so they were again delivered up to prison and to tortures even more severe than what they had previously endured: and at length were sent in bitter wrath each into separate exile.
[I. 26.] Before their banishment however their anguish |44 of mind had moved the pity of Justin and Sophia, who sent for them to the palace, and comforted them, saying; 'Why do you give way to violent lamentation, till you are thus dejected, and more like men dead than alive? Cheer up, and be comforted: for we purpose in God to content you, and unite you to us in perfect unity. Do not despond.' But they argued with him at great length upon the promises made them, and which had been violated, and not put into execution: and finally he said to them, 'As we are preparing to go to the hot-baths, wait for us for twenty or thirty days, and be assured, that we will return at once for your sakes, and talk the matter over with you, and content you: and the whole church shall be one, and unite us all.' And so they were dismissed from his presence, after having detailed to him at great length their complaints.
[I. 27.] The king continued at the baths a full month, and then, according to his promise, set out upon his return. But before he had reached the city, while still on the other side of the straits at Chalcedon, the patriarch John, accompanied by his partisans, went out to meet him, and as it appeared, brought fresh accusations against his prisoners, saying, 'These men have separated themselves from us, and withdrawn from the church entirely.' They now formed a plan for making trial of their determination, and deceiving them again: and drew up for this purpose a schedule of the chief cities, and sent it |45 to them by the quaestor, with this message; 'Inasmuch as we have a care for your peace, and are anxious for your honour, and wish to give you a share of authority, see, we have sent you a schedule of the cities of most note, not venturing of ourselves to name that over which you are to preside, but leaving it to your own will, that you may choose each one of you the city that best pleases himself.' And when the illustrious quaestor had received the schedule, and arrived at the city, he summoned the bishops, to place the schedule in their hands, and delivered them the message as above, with much beside as coming from the king. But they would not look at the schedule, nor receive it from him, saying, "Tell the victorious king, that we did not sacrifice ourselves for the sake of being made bishops of cities, but in expectation that the promised unity would be fulfilled. For bishops we are, however unworthy. If then the promises of unity are fulfilled, and the oaths so repeatedly made us during so long a space of time, we are content. For relying upon them, and that our slanderers might not be confirmed in the assertion that we were the hinderers of unity, we yielded ourselves to communion with those who have acted falsely by us, and thought therein that they were deceiving us, whereas really they were deceiving themselves, and not us. And if now the synod is not ejected, according to their promises and oaths, and unity made, Heaven forbid that we should ever hold |46 communion again with those who make mention of its name for ever and ever.' And upon their expressing this as their firm determination, and refusing to receive the schedule, the qusestor grew angry, and went and told their words to the king; and he too was angry, and rose up in great wrath, and gave utterance to many threats against them, and stern denunciations; which also subsequently he executed.
[I. 28.] His first act was to summon the patriarch of the city, whom he accosted sternly, and with many contumelious expressions said, 'You are the man who have made the bishops turn back, after they had been prevailed upon with much labour and difficulty to promise to communicate with us: and you now have turned them back from us.' And in great excitement he commanded the senate to proceed to the patriarch's palace, and sit in judgment upon the matters in dispute, the patriarch also being upon his trial, and in case of their deciding that he was wrong, he said, that he would condemn him also.
[I. 29.] On the morrow then, in accordance with the king's command, the senate, accompanied by the quaestor, proceeded to the patriarch's palace, and the bishops were summoned to trial, and required, as a matter of command, to continue in communion with the partisans of the synod, keeping quiet, and not requiring any further concession. But they stood up, and strove powerfully and manfully in contest with them, and without fear openly convicted them of all |47 their deceitful promises, and false oaths, and of the truth rejected by them, and trodden under foot; and after much besides they proceeded with great boldness to anathematize publicly to the senate the whole heresy of the two natures. And this they did stoutly as a thing of primary, and of secondary, and even of final importance: and also, by a sentence of entire separation, withdrew and separated themselves for ever from their communion. And much besides was done and said there in manly contest, until the wrath of the senators and of the patriarch blazed out upon the bishops, and they commanded that they should be dragged by the throat out of their presence, and separated from one another, and sent into exile. And the sentence was quickly put into execution, and they were taken away, and separated, and never saw one another more, being sent into banishment, some to monasteries, and some to islands in the sea, and some to oppressive and bitter imprisonment in hospices 15, it being part of their sentence |48 that they should be kept in confinement, and that neither friend nor stranger should be permitted to see any one of them. And much besides was decreed against them, cruelly, and sternly, and without mercy, in bitter anger, and with iniquitous violence, as though they had been murderers.
[I. 30.] Now what has been here related and written may seem perhaps to those exercised in lofty knowledge, and acute in mind, and who judge things with nicety, to be but fiction, and a rhetorical composition merely of the writer, in words drawn from his imagination: for if not, 'whence,' they will say, 'had he the knowledge to enable him to narrate in this orderly manner, and describe and set down in writing all that was said by both parties; and that as if himself marshalled on one side, and aiming his shafts against the other, in combat for his own party?' Let then such as hold this opinion now know, that the writer of all these details was no stranger to the conflict, nor remote from the struggle, who, far away, upon report and by hearsay of others set down and described these events; but that he was one of those marshalled in the battle, and who, in earnest struggle equally with the rest, or even more so, manfully endured these sufferings, and patiently bore the pain of persecution and imprisonment: and let them know too, that not only the short summary contained in this book was spoken in argument with the king and patriarch, but a hundred times more |49 besides, which however he has omitted, for fear of making the narrative too long, and crowding it with Words without end. And though ranged on one side, that, namely, opposed to the two natures, as the narrative itself shows, he has observed, a strict neutrality, avoiding all calumny and misrepresentation of those opposed to him, and the temptation of establishing his own views; and has endeavoured, in accordance with his promise at the beginning of the book, to be the advocate of truth alone, and has observed the seal of truth for both sides, in whatever was discussed, and brought forward and spoken, though confining himself to a summary of the facts, inasmuch as scarcely the hundredth part of what actually was said and done could, on account of its length, be set down in writing.
As the person whom our historian next mentions belonged to an obscure sect, who have left but few traces of their existence in the pages of ecclesiastical history, it may be necessary to give a slight sketch of Conon and the Condobaudites. A fruitful source of heresy in the fifth century arose from the careless statements of earlier writers, who, before theology grew up into a science, made use of language partially inconsistent with the technical exactness of later times: and as an almost idolatrous reverence was entertained for them, an attempt was often made to give to their indefinite statements a precise and scientific meaning. Thus, for instance, |50 the Monophysites regarded Ignatius as a powerful witness in their favour, because he says, 'Permit me to be a disciple of the sufferings of my God: and similarly, from the passages in which writers like Justin and Tertullian speak as if the Persons in the Holy Trinity differ in degree, Conon and the Condobaudites argued that there were as many natures, substances, and Godheads in the Trinity as there were persons. Timothy, presbyter of Constantinople, in his work 'On the Reception of Heretics,' (Meursii Var. Div. Lib. p. 123,) defines their doctrines thus, 'The Condobaudites are those who say that God is one in number, and not in an exactly similar equality: and they take their name from a building in Constantinople, in which they used to assemble.'
Their other name of Tritheites was given them because of their doctrine leading to the confession of three Gods. Not that they exactly said this, but rather that there was a quasi subordination in the persons of the Trinity, as earlier fathers seemed to teach. But this name was fatal to their progress, and injurious even to the Monophysites, out of whom they sprung: for Bar-Hebraeus says that our author, John of Asia, complained of the disgrace brought upon them by their founder professing to belong to their party: and many even deserted them, and joined the Dyophysites, saying, that it was better to hold two natures, with the council of Chalcedon, than four Gods, with John Philoponus, the great exponent of their views. |51
This Philoponus, called also John Grammaticus, a very learned Aristotelian of Alexandria, is generally looked upon as their founder, but really he only defended their heresy, by an argument deduced from an exposition of what 'substance' is, according to the doctrines of his great master, Aristotle. Their real founder was a certain obscure John Ascunages, whose creed is preserved by Bar-Hebraeus: 'I acknowledge one nature of Christ the Incarnate Word, but in the Trinity I reckon the natures and substances and Godheads according to the number of the persons.' But for the learning of Philoponus the sect would probably have expired with its founder; but an adventitious importance was further given to it by its being joined by Athanasius, the son of Theodora's daughter, whose great wealth was freely expended in obtaining converts. And as this made it necessary to expose its unsoundness, a public discussion was held under the presidency of the Synodite patriarch of Constantinople, with the proviso however, that none but Monophysite authorities, such as Severus of Antioch, should be quoted. The disputants against Conon and his party were our author, John of Asia, and Paul, subsequently patriarch of Antioch, one of the four bishops whose sufferings we have just read. The discussion lasted four days, and ended in the complete defeat of the Tritheite party. Another leading Monophysite who wrote against them was |52 Theodosius, ex-patriarch of Alexandria. (Cf. Ass. B. O. ii. 328 etc.)
We may now, however, return to our author, whose narrative will be found to confirm the above statements of Bar-Hebraeus, and which is as follows:
[I. 31.] About this time Conon also was seized, who was at the head of the heresy of those who ventured upon enumerating the natures and substances and Godheads and Gods in the holy and consubstantial Trinity: and after his arrest, he too was imprisoned for a time with the rest in the patriarch's palace, and was required to sign a recantation as a heretic; but he resisted this, and would not. And when the victorious king learnt it, he swore by the Mother of God, saying; 'Though he consent, and go, and take the communion, yet if he make not a recantation, and express in it his penitence, I will not go and take the communion there.' Because then he was a heretic and a blasphemer, when about that time Photius, the son of Belisarius' wife, came to the capital, Conon was made over to him; and he took him with him to Palestine, and imprisoned him in the so-called New Monastery: where he remained three years, but was then set free, and went to Cilicia.
Their history is continued in the fifth book, and as it stands there quite unconnected with the rest, we propose to proceed with it here.
[V. 1.] The great difficulty which they found in |53 propagating their audacious and polluted heresy was the want of bishops. For at first there were but two, namely, Conon himself, the head of the schism, and Eugenius, both bishops of towns in Cilicia. When, however, their views became known there, they were greatly blamed by many of their compeers, and admonished: and upon their refusal to withdraw them, the sentence of deposition was passed upon them: upon which, they and Athanasius, the son of queen Theodora's daughter, who increased and multiplied the heresy by a liberal expenditure of gold, took measures in concert for obtaining a third bishop according to the canon; and for this purpose began honouring and flattering John of Ephesus, who was then resident at the capital, and had the administration of the entire revenues of all the congregations of believers there and elsewhere: their object being to prevail upon him by bribes and presents to submit to them, and join them, that so, they might consecrate bishops. But he refused, and blamed them greatly, and proved to them by argument that 'they were heretics, and worse even than Arians and Macedonians and Nestorians, and all heresies besides.' And when they could not cajole him, and lead him astray, there happened just then to arrive at the capital a certain Theonas, who had been consecrated at the command of Theodosius the patriarch, but subsequently charged with some offence, and deposed. ''As having then nothing to do, he wandered about; and happening to arrive there, was |54 easily induced by their gifts to adopt their error. Having associated him then with them, Conon and Eugenius consecrated numerous bishops, and sent them into all quarters to propagate their heresy.
[V.2.] The episcopacy thus founded by Conon and Eugenius, the heads of the heresy of a multitude of Gods, was in fact contrary to the canons and constitutions of the church, as being given by a man who had been deposed from the episcopate; but nevertheless, whoever came in their way, whether young or old, unlearned or wise, and, so to speak, all their disciples and followers, whoever joined them, they made them all bishops, and sent them in all directions and to all countries, and so gathered congregations in Rome and Corinth and Athens and Africa, and led simple-minded people astray after them. They even made a serious attempt to lead astray the Patrician Narses at Rome, having taken with them for the purpose with no slight labour two picked men, the sons of one mother, named Phocas and Theodosius: but he turned his face away from them, and would not receive them. They managed, however, to lead into their error some of his chamberlains and chiefs and generals.
[V.3.] Conon meanwhile, and Eugenius, had continued at the capital, even after they had been excommunicated, urging on their views, and arguing and deceiving people, and importuning them, and even going and complaining to the king that they were ill-used and slandered. Thereupon the king |55 issued a command to the patriarch of the city to bid both sides assemble in his presence and that of his whole synod, that they might debate together upon the doctrines about which they were at enmity 16, and of all of which an account is given us in the preceding books. And thus they acted, until Justin the king commenced a vigorous persecution, and sent them to Palestine into exile by the hands of Photius, Conon I mean, and Eugenius: while as for the other members of the party, they were far away, busied in traversing the regions of Syria and Cilicia and Isauria and Cappadocia, leading men into error, and ordaining priests and deacons in churches and monasteries, and cities and villages, until they even brought over whole districts to their views, and spread their heresy far and wide.
[V.4.] At Constantinople many still held to Conon for |56 old association sake: for his house had been at the foot of the palace, and they used to go down in their court shoes 17 and communicate in secret, and return and stand before the king without being found out. On this account, therefore, and because he showed himself to be an humble and righteous man, several of them joined in interceding for him, and he was set free, and departed from the monastery, in which he had been confined. The town to which he withdrew was called Eulae, and there he abode in a nunnery. And as all the people there, especially those of Cilicia and Isauria, were caught by his heresy, they ran after him, as though he had been one of the apostles, and glorified him, and adopted the error principally for his sake. Finally, however they severed into two parties, and opposed one another.
[V. 5.] An account of the error and schism into which these proclaimers of Gods fell, and the causes which led thereto, has been already briefly given in the preceding books 18, together with an |57 enumeration of the pernicious and mistaken writings of John Grammaticus of Alexandria, by which he first led them into error and imbued them with his views. For they all regarded them unanimously, and proclaimed them on all sides as though they had been a very gospel, and gloried in them. As then what took place in the intervening time comprises a considerable number of events, only one here and there can be recorded in our memorials, and the rest, on account of their mass, can neither be detailed nor related When however the second treatise written by this John Grammaticus reached them, in which he teaches that it is not these same bodies which arise from the dead, but that they are changed into other bodies, which come in their stead to the resurrection, it led them into still greater error, and rent them into two heresies, each of which was, if possible, more abominable than the other. For some of them did not receive this second treatise, but opposed and reviled and anathematized it: while others regarded it as more precious than the writings of the prophets and apostles. And thus they quarrelled among themselves, and stood in mutual opposition, and were divided and separated, and excommunicated each other, and exposed one another's errors in written treatises. And still do the two heresies stand arrayed over against one another.
[V.6.] In spite however of this schism, Conon and Eugenius continued their efforts, and paid a visit to Pamphylia, in the hope of converting it to |58 their views. This province had originally been occupied by the orthodox, and there are in it many large and noble towns, with churches, and numerous convents both of men and women. For long ago a portion of those named Acephali 19, as having no head, separated themselves, and migrated in great numbers to this country: but by the zeal and earnestness of the orthodox there, they had all been converted, and returned to orthodoxy, and with one accord were animated with the spirit of the true faith. From that time, at frequent intervals, orthodox bishops were sent to visit them, and set in order all matters relating to the church, such as the consecration of altars, and new churches, and monasteries erected there. They also ordained numerous clergy, and attended to whatever else was |59 necessary: And twice, to our certain knowledge, this miserable Eugenius, who had now fallen into heresy, was sent there on these visitations; and again other bishops at other times. Finally, however, the desire seized Conon and Eugenius of going to this country, and leading it into error, and winning it over to their heresy. But while thus busily occupied, the fated day arrived for Eugenius, and he died there; and Conon returned to Constantinople.
[V. 7.] The cause which induced him to proceed thither was as follows: previously to the schism among the Tritheites, and their separation into Cononites and Athanasians, the founder of the latter sect had made his will, and after naming the king and queen as his chief heirs, he directed that his slaves should be set free, and each one receive a legacy: he further left bequests to various friends, and to Conon a considerable sum of money to be expended on charitable objects, besides ten litres of gold for himself, to be paid immediately: and as we are told that a litre was equal to twelve ounces, the legacy amounted to about £500: nor was this all; for he also gave him two litres as long as he lived, or about £100 a year; and in estimating the value of this, we must of course take into consideration the greater quantity of commodities which could be purchased for the same weight of gold. Having sealed this will, Athanasius deposited it in safe keeping at a time anterior to the breaking out of the schism: but |60 when this took place, and they mutually excommunicated one another, and finally published hooks against one another, full of bitter revilings, Athanasius purposed to change his will, and exclude Conon from it, but died suddenly: and when his will was opened, Conon took what was written in it, while still excommunicating him who had left him the money. And this then was the reason why he came to the capital. But on his arrival there, John of Asia, that is, John of Ephesus, sent him the following protestation: 'How long, O wise man, dost thou not take it into thy thought that thou art a mortal, and that thou must stand revealed before the dread tribunal of justice, and that there thou must give an account why thou permittest thyself to be called lord, and hast thy hands kissed by a sect of the church of the living God, who delivered Himself up for its sake? Why persistest thou in such folly, since thou must know that all, to whatever side they belong; whether it be thine or ours, are alike on their way to God? Let us both then, both thou and my unworthy self, while we continue in the body, abstain from all violence, of which Satan is the author, and be clothed in the gentleness and lowliness of Christ our God, and draw near to one another in mutual love, and put an end to this dispute and schism. And evilly as matters have gone in our days, and m our intercourse with one another, yet let us now, while we still survive, break down and destroy the |61 wall of enmity between us, that false doctrine may not thus continue in the church of God. To this Conon replied; that he should be glad if it could be so: but without giving any further answer, he took the gold that had been left him, and returned to Cilicia, where he delighted himself in his heresy, as much as a drunkard in his wine.
[V.8.] But though Conon was thus indifferent, it was not so with the rest of those who proclaimed substances and natures in the Godhead; for being blamed by every body, and despised also by their own hearts, they often clad themselves in sheep's clothing, and begged that they might be reunited to the orthodox church: from which indeed they had gone out, but to which they had never belonged; for if they had been of it, they would have continued in it. Concealing therefore the guile of their hearts, they said that they wished to return to unity. But when they came to converse, and were required to repent, and cease from saying that there are substances and natures in the Trinity, lest thereby a diversity of Gods, and Godheads, such as the heathen hold, should enter into Christianity, they immediately declined, saying, 'We cannot but affirm that the substances and natures are capable of being numbered.' To which the orthodox replied, 'that the faith of the church confesses one God, who is known under the three persons of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: three persons: three names: one Godhead, and one substance; one nature: |62 one Lordship, and might, and will, and kingdom, and authority, and dominion, in heaven and in earth: one three; and three one, without division and without confusion. How then can ye desire, though ye confess it not openly, to introduce into the catholic church, by these crowds of Gods, which like heathen ye hold, the doctrine of a diversity (number) of substances and natures, while in pretence, and not in truth, ye desire to be united to us, and guilefully devise and form plans for seducing and drawing aside the whole church to your heresy?' And so they were sent away blushing and ashamed; but their present failure did not prevent them from often making similar overtures, both at Constantinople and in other quarters of the empire.
[V. 9.] Especially both in Alexandria and Syria the same attempts were again and again made. For when they found that they could not cajole those at the metropolis, they proceeded to Alexandria, and drew up an act of recantation, in which they skilfully inserted their confession of faith, and presented it to Damianus 20, the successor of Peter in the patriarchate there: but when he further required of them the denial of a plurality of natures and substances in the Godhead; and also, that they should excommunicate John Grammaticus and his three books, which had |63 been the original cause of their error, they showed that they were ready to anathematize the third book, which denied the resurrection of these bodies; but the first, in which was contained the doctrine of a diversity of Gods, they refused to reject and anathematize : and he therefore excommunicated and deposed them. They made the same attempt also more than once in Syria; but finally, when they saw that their wiles did not succeed, they continued without further attempts at union to hold their pernicious heresy even to this day.
[V. 10.] Thus rejected by the orthodox in all parts of the empire, the Tritheites made an attempt to lessen the general odium in which they were held by forming a Catena, or literally, a large book of lacerations, which those of them who considered themselves to be philosophers tore from the living body of the writings of the holy fathers, in the idea that it established and confirmed their heresy. But of them the law of God speaks in its command, [Ex. xxii. 31.] 'Ye shall hot eat flesh torn by wild beasts;' for they tear dead limbs from the argumentative works of the holy fathers, imagining that they thereby prove that the fathers generally, like themselves, introduce and teach a plurality of substances, that is, of existences in the Godhead. But, without perceiving it, they only convict themselves thereby of. teaching and proclaiming a plurality of Godheads and many Gods, as the heathen do. |64
[V. 11.] The further history of the Tritheites is given in few words; for these teachers of polytheism under Conon and Eugenius as their heads, flourished for a time greatly, and multiplied their bishops, and sent them in all directions to increase and establish their heresy, and posted also several in the capital, who opened there large meeting-houses, and gathered numerous congregations, to whom: they taught their tenets boldly and without fear because John, the patriarch of the city, was originally inclined to help them. But when, upon his death, Eutychius returned as his successor, he sent and seized all he could find of that portion of them, who separated themselves from the followers of his own favourite heresy 21,—the denial of the resurrection of the body,—stripped their churches of their furniture, and overthrew and uprooted their altars: while their bishops and leading men he arrested and confined in various? monasteries, where they were forced to remain in inactivity for many years.
[V. 12.] One alone recanted his errors and returned to the orthodox church, a Cilician bishop, consecrated by Conon, but whose name is not given, though he is said to have been a man of note. |65 When, however, he knew and understood the false doctrine contained in their heresy, he turned from them, and offered to the orthodox a writing of recantation, and anathematized the Cononites, and their heresy, and was added to the side of the believers.
Elsewhere we have an incidental mention of them under the name of Condobaudites, a title, which, though frequently applied to the followers of Conon generally, seems properly to belong to a small section confined to Constantinople, where the monastery was situated, from which they took their name.
[II. 45.] Their existence, it seems, was owing to their dislike of a sermon preached at the capital by Theodosius of Alexandria, against the two heresies of the Tritheites and the Sabellians, certain expressions of which offended them as appearing to imply that he also introduced a diversity of nature and substance into the Godhead. For this reason they withdrew and assembled apart, but they had no head, and no one to make priests for them: and therefore they often made the attempt to gain admission into the communion of the believers. Conferences accordingly took place, and such of them as had knowledge to discern what was fitting, united themselves unto them; and such as had no knowledge foolishly and without fitting reason wickedly continued as they were.
In his account of Conon, the Tritheite heresiarch, John mentioned that he was delivered into |66 the hands of Photius, with instructions to imprison him in Palestine; and this induces our historian to give some details respecting this personage, who, individually worthless, is nevertheless deserving of interest on account of the ill treatment he experienced from his mother, Antonina, wife of 'the patrician Belisarius,' and the bosom friend and confidante of the unworthy Theodora. [I. 32.] Photius had been bred, he tells us, to the profession of arms, and had accompanied his stepfather in several campaigns; but, finally, for some reason, into which he does not enter, he had assumed the tonsure 22, and the monkish dress, though he by no means conformed to their morals, but had put on the appearance of a monk under a borrowed name,—by which is meant, not that he concealed who he was, but that his adoption of the profession of a monk was but a pretence. And this soon led him to repent of the step he had taken; for shortly afterwards, being unable to quell the savageness of his temper, and bend it unto piety, he betook himself to the king, still clad outwardly in the monastic garb. Now it so happened that the Samaritans were in a state of revolt, and the king therefore sent him with full powers into Syria. As his wish then was to please men, and anger the God who made him, by running on every pretext after impure gains, he gave himself up to the spoiling and plundering and oppressing |67 of mankind, till he became their uprooter and destroyer; and all the regions in the east, great and small, were ruined as utterly as if they had been pillaged by barbarians: and so great was the terror he inspired, that even the bishops and clergy of the cities fled from before him: for if he heard of any one whatsoever, either in the city or the country, possessing in sufficiency his daily bread, he seized them, and plundered them, and imprisoned them, and hung them up, and tortured them, and imposed upon them a fine of a pound of gold, whoever they might be, whether they were worth as much or not. Nor could he be induced to alter his sentence, even though a man had to sell himself and his children into slavery, and his household, and his substance. For when he layed hands on any one, whatsoever he said, Give me so many pounds of gold: for the king has need of gold to expend upon his wars. And in this way he gathered together hundreds of pounds of gold, and sent them to the king, in order that he might obtain authority and power from him to do whatever he liked to whomsoever he liked, and that no man might stand before him. For he even exacted large sums from bishops; and if any one resisted him, forthwith on the very spot he strung him up to a rope fixed either behind his head, or to his elbows, or to one arm. And in this way, it is said, he served the bishop of Askalon, on whom he levied a contribution of three hundred pounds of gold; and when the bishop bewailed, and |68 begged for mercy, saying he had not so much, he ordered him to be hung up by a rope, and left him hanging, and went on his way, leaving orders that though he should hang for three days, they should not let him down till the money was paid. Nor was he loosed from the rope till the three hundred pounds of gold were brought. And he treated the rest in many instances in a similar manner, till the land trembled before him, and all the magistrates and governors and the rest of the lords. And when many went to the king, and in his presence implored for mercy, he wrote to Photius, saying, 'The money you send us being got by plunder is a sin;' but he wrote in reply, 'Do not you be afraid, my lord, of sin, in respect of the gold which I send you: the sin is on my; head.' In these doings he was accompanied by a crowd of monks fit for such deeds, and members even of the imperial family, and officers of the household troops, and guardsmen, and a host of Romans 23. And when in this base course |69 of destruction and wickedness and cruelty, devoid of all fear of God, he had fulfilled a period of twelve years, his alloted time overtook him, and he descended to the tomb by a miserable end, and with an accursed remembrance. And there was appointed in his stead a certain Abraham, the abbot of what is called the new monastery in Jerusalem.
Returning from this digression, our historian I.33. proceeds with some further particulars respecting the persecution, and says, that in the midst of it a missive was sent to Alexandria, the chief seat of the orthodox, requiring the presence of certain of their learned men and jurists, or, as they were then called, sophists and scholastics, and with them many others, including some of their great shipowners, the most powerful class in that wealthy city. Their secret purpose in requiring their presence was to compel them to communicate with the synod, but their pretext was the wish to consult how they might best restore the unity of the church. And in fact they did treat with them in both ways, but finally required them to communicate. But they refused, and resisted for many days, or rather for a whole year, manfully, nor would they give way or |70 submit in the least. And, finally, they were let go, because those in authority were afraid to proceed to acts of open violence, as the capital depended upon Alexandria for its supplies of wheat. A few, however, of them were detained for a period of three years, but when they proved inflexible, all alike were set free.
[I. 34.] The heads, however, of the orthodox clergy at Alexandria were soon afterwards arrested and sent to the capital on a different charge: for information being sent to the king that the bishops there, upon the death of the blessed Theodosius, had consecrated, not one bishop in his stead, but two, he was highly displeased, and ordered the arrest of all their leading men, and that they should be sent to him,—and this was also done, for they were arrested and conducted thither, and detained for about a year, until the patriarch John died, and was succeeded by Eutychius, who had occupied the throne before him, and who immediately upon his arrival dismissed them to their homes 24.
[I. 35.] But besides these some pious Egyptians were also summoned to the capital to search into future things. For again and again they sent to Egypt to bring from thence certain hermits who had the reputation of knowing secrets, and |71 of understanding things future; as for instance, how many years the king and queen would live, and who would be his successor; and other things. of the same sort. And some of them, when required to prophecy these things, refused, and confessed that they knew nothing about them: but they spake of correction and judgment and righteousness, and that the doing of these things pleases God, and brings men near unto Him. Such, then, as would not consent disgracefully to give an answer as men-pleasers, according as they were required, were immediately sent away and driven from the city to go to their own land: while those who, through desire of human applause, yielded themselves to the task of discerning the secrets of future time were held in honour, and lived in ease and luxury, with their wants supplied from the royal table. And this was done, not once only, but again and again.
[I. 36.] But to return now to the main thread of the narrative; although the monasteries, as has been mentioned above, were treated with lawless violence, yet but few of the members had submitted to communion with the patriarch, and the rest had been expelled, and sent to other monasteries, while clergy were everywhere introduced in their stead, to celebrate the holy communion, and administer it to those who had yielded to him. The name, moreover, of the synod was written up, and proclaimed in them, and the pictures of all the orthodox fathers taken down, and those |72 of John himself every where set up. But as he had done, so was he requited of God.: For after his bitter and painful death, and the succession of Eutychius his predecessor upon the throne, his pictures in all places were utterly destroyed, and those of Eutychius fixed up in the churches in their stead. Most also of the nunneries returned to their old creed, and became orthodox, except a few young girls, who still went every day and received the sacrament from the clergy in communion with the synod, and assumed the monastic dress: but the rest openly seceded, and not a single one of them would take the communion at their hands, especially after the death of John.
[I. 37.] And even before his death. John, still intoxicated with wrathful zeal for the persecution of Christians, and thirsting, like a wolf, for the blood of the lambs, went into the presence of the peaceful and serene Caesar 25 Tiberius, being anxious to inflame him also with the same angry zeal as himself. But after he had exhausted his arguments against the believers, the Caesar replied, 'Tell me now the truth: who are these persons about whom you ask me, and whom you urge me to persecute? are they heathens?' The patriarch, knowing that deceit was |73 impossible, answered, 'Heathens' they are not.' 'What then,' said he, 'are they heretics?' 'No, my lord,' he replied, 'neither are they heretics.' 'Well then,' said he, 'as you yourself bear witness, they are Christians.' 'They are so indeed,' he replied, ' Christians of the Christians.' 'If then, as you bear witness,' said the Caesar, 'they are Christians, why do you urge me to persecute Christians, as if I were a Diocletian, or one of those old heathen kings? Go, sit in thy church, and be quiet, and do not trouble me again with such things 26.' And so the heat of his savageness cooled down, until the wrath of Heaven overtook him, as we have mentioned above, and he departed from this life. And when his successor, Eutychius, returned to his throne, being incited by those clergy who had become habituated to plunder and rapine, he also had an audience with 'the serene Tiberius Constantinus Caesar,' and spake much against the whole party of the believers. But he gave him also for answer; 'We have enough to do with the wars against the barbarians, which surround us on every side: —we cannot stir up another war against Christians. Go and sit quiet. If however, by word and admonition, you can persuade them, do so: but if not, let them alone, and do not persecute |74 them, nor trouble me, who am exposed to the attacks of war from every quarter.' And so he also was rebuffed for the present, and kept quiet.
[I. 38.] But even while John lived, the orthodox congregations grew in strength, and lifted up their heads again. For though he had driven away their inmates, and closed their doors, yet when God sent down upon him from heaven the chastisement of his heavy wrath, they all began to take courage, and reopened them: at first indeed timidly, and quietly, and little by little, and so even during his lifetime they obtained considerable additions to their number, and multiplied. But when he was scourged by the wrath of God, and his mind enwrapped in the deadly fire which was fixed in his heart and burning in his bowels, the orthodox acted more boldly; and finally, his adherents and the ministers of his wickedness, as if knowing his will, went unto him, and said, 'Lo! once again these enemies of the church and synod have opened the doors of their meeting-houses, and are spreading more than ever, and rejoice in thy sickness, and pray for thy death. But if thou wilt give us the command, we will torture them more sharply than at the first, and heap evils upon them.' But he in wrath, and with loud voice, resisted them, saying, 'Depart from me, ye murderers, and be content with my humiliation; for it is ye who have chiefly brought me to this miserable state. There are curses enough already uttered, which |75 have roused and brought down upon me the wrath of Heaven. Away with you, and let no man ever mention this subject again in my presence.' And so they departed humbled from before him. And thus then, as we have said, both before his death, which was not long delayed, and after his death, the congregations of the believers once again met in full security.
[I. 39.] One monastery 27, the history of which deserves especial mention, was built by the famous eunuch Narses, when holding the office of chartulary at the court of Justinian, before he was sent to restore the fortunes of the empire in Italy, His purpose had been to retire from the palace, and adopt the monkish tonsure, and reside in it; and with this object he located there the monks who had been driven out of Cappadocia by persecution, and purchased a large estate, upon which he erected a magnificent church, and a hospice for the reception of strangers, and finally, endowed the monastery with large revenues. But just then he received orders to proceed to Rome: and there, by the help of God which went with him. he gained numerous and important victories in many successive campaigns. And there finally he departed from this world, and his bones were brought and deposited in his monastery, in the presence of the king and queen, |76 who took part in the procession, and deposition, of the relics, and in his canonization as founder.
[II. 46.] In a subsequent part of the history, we have some further particulars respecting these Cappadocian monks, who found but a temporary resting place in Narses' monasteiy. When he took pity upon them, they had just, in the height of the persecution in Justinian's time, been expelled from a large and well built convent belonging to them in Cappadocia, the name of which was Gordison, and were no less than seventy in number, men aged, honourable and zealous. And compelled to wander from place to place, they erected buildings, and tried to establish themselves, but were repeatedly driven away, until finally they lit upon a good and fertile piece of ground, replete with every thing essential for their maintenance, at Cardynias, near the warm baths of Dephatia, upon the straits to the south of Constantinople. This one of the king's chamberlains, who was a believer, purchased for them, and they settled there, and planted a vineyard, and built a large church. In process of time the whole band of venerable elders slept in their graves, and young men alone remained: and finally, when king Justin, attended by the queen and the whole senate, were on their way to the warm baths, they sought admittance and lodged in this monastery; and by promises and gifts prevailed upon them to submit themselves, having commanded both that their former monastery, from which they had been originally driven by |77 persecution; should be restored to them, and also granted them a remission of taxes. And thus they brought them to submission, and imbued them with their errors, after they had struggled for a period of twenty years under the miseries of persecution. And now they were divided, for part returned and took possession of their former monastery, and part stayed where they were. And they were confused and troubled: for their ship, so to speak, was wrecked at the very mouth of the haven, by their complete perversion from the orthodox faith.
The rest of the first book is occupied with some details respecting the episcopal succession in the three great patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, and Constantinople, as follows:
[I. 40.] 'As regards the synodite bishops at Alexandria, after John, who had originally been a patrician at the capital, but was sent there, had fulfilled his years and died, there came as his successor one Eulogius, the head of a hospice at Antioch, who was made pope there in the third year of the victorious Tiberius, And of the Julianist party Dorotheus was bishop, and occupied the see for many years. And of the followers of Theodosius (that is, the Monophysites) after his death, first of all a Syrian was created bishop, named Theodore, the governor of a monastery. But when the clergy and others learnt of his appointment, they turned away, and having refused in violation of canonical order to |78 receive him, they took the haughty resolution of consecrating another besides, whose name was Peter; and when he had fulfilled his time and consecrated more than eighty bishops, he died and they elected in his stead a Syrian, named Damianus, and continued in a state of schism 28.
[I. 41.] At Antioch the Great, in Syria, Flavianus was patriarch in the days of king Anastasius, but being convicted of the heresy of the two natures, he was deposed from his throne, after occupying it certain years. His successor was the orthodox Severus, who held the see six years; but at the |79 commencement of the reign of Justin I., he was expelled, and after spending some years in the Egyptian desert, he died there. For a year Antioch had no bishop, but finally there came down Paul the Jew, who had been dean of the church of St. Euphemia at Chalcedon. He took down the diptych on which was inscribed the name of the synod of the East 29, but after occupying the see two years, he was proved to be a Nestorian, and was also ejected and expelled. And in his place came Euphrasius, a Samaritan, in whose seventh year Antioch was overthrown by an earthquake, in which he lost his life. And after him was Ephraim of Amid, the son of Appianus, a worse persecutor than either Paul or Euphrasius, and after certain years he died. And his successor was Domninus, a Roman, who was followed by Anastasius, who had held the office of Apocrisiarius at Alexandria: but accusations were laid against him before Justin II., who deposed him, and sent in his stead the abbot of the monastery of Mount Sinai, whose name was Gregory.
And on the part of those opposed to the synod |80 of Chalcedon 30, first of all, after a long time had |81 elapsed, they consecrated in the place of Severus, one Sergius, a man sprung from the town of Tela; and after fulfilling three years, he died at the capital, where he chanced to be. And again after an interval Paul was appointed as his successor, an Alexandrian, and Syncellus of Theodosius of Alexandria; but who, as regards his government and fame, fell upon evil days: for by reason of the schism which took place between him and the blessed Jacob, the church of the believers was split into two parts, and both sides entered upon unappeasable wars and contentions one with the other. And the opponents of Paul, after Jacob's, death, set up, contrary to law, another patriarch at Antioch, named Peter, |82 of the city of Callinicus. Such then were the events which followed in rapid succession, up to the time when these things were written, and which is the year eight hundred and ninety-two (A.D. 581).
[I. 42.] At Constantinople during the reign of Justinian, on the death of Epiphanius, Anthimus was translated to the patriarchate, having previously been bishop of Trapezuntium. And after holding the see a year, on Severus of Antioch being summoned from Egypt by the command of Justinian, that they might confer upon the means of unity, and Anthimus had learnt by the arguments of Severus the unsoundness and erroneousness of the synod of Chalcedon, and the blasphemies of Leo in his letter, he left the throne of the capital, and withdrew and united himself to Severus and Theodosius of Alexandria. And after him the metropolitan see was occupied by a certain Mennas, who had been the warden of Sampson's hospital. And when he had fulfilled his years, he left this world: and in his stead arose a young monk, who was Apocrisiarius of Amasea, and when he had occupied the throne about twelve years, he was deposed and ejected, and John, a Syrian, of Sirimis, a village in the territory of Antioch, succeeded him. And upon his appointment he pronounced sentence of deposition against Eutychius, and Eutychius pronounced a similar sentence against him. And after John had fulfilled twelve years and a half, he died: |83 and Eutychius was summoned again, and returned to his throne 31.
End of the First Book of the Narratives of the Church, in which are contained forty-two chapters.
[Footnotes have been moved to the end and renumbered]
1. a The words literally are, 'on the Sabbath of the dawn of the first (day) of the week of Hosannahs.' In the Syriac service books, Saturday is still called the sabbath, and Friday "the preparation" paraskeuh&, Mark xv. 42. The other days are called, "one in the week," "two in the week," &c. The week commencing with Palm Sunday is " the week of Hosannahs," and Passion week " the week of the mystery."
2. b In Evagrius this Patriarch is called 'Iwa&nnhj o( a)po_ Siri/mioj.
3. c By the Synodites are meant the followers of the general council of Chalcedon, A. D. 451, in which the doctrine of the two natures in Christ was authoritatively decreed. His own party John styles "the orthodox," "the believers," &c. So Leontius de Sectis says that Justinian was notoriously sunodi/thj, a follower of the council of Calcedon.
4. d This monastery was erected in Constantinople by Dios in the reign of Theodosius the Great, and was appropriated to monks of the order called Acoemeti, who flourished about this time. Du Fresne Const. Chr. iv. 123.
5. e Bandurius, Imp. Orient, p. iii. 56, says that 'the monastery, made without hands, was built by Constantine the Great, that he might put the monk Abraham there, whose name it subsequently took.' Among the signatures to the council of Constantinople is Alexander, Archimandrite of the monastery of St. Abraham.
6. f The word applied to this punishment, namely,[Syriac], is evidently the corruption of some Greek perf. participle passive, and is construed with the verb to make. The sense requires that it should come from spaqi/zein, fastigare, to beat with clubs, but by some process the q has been changed into a r. The Olaf is as usual prefixed to a Greek word beginning with j.
7. g The words of this canon are as follow : "As to such Paulianists as have subsequently fled for refuge to the Catholic church, the rule is, that they be all without exception baptized afresh. And if any previously were in the number of the clergy, if they were clearly free from blame and reproach, after being rebaptized, let them be ordained by the bishop of the Catholic church. But if on examination they be found unfit, they must be deposed. And the same rule must similarly be observed respecting deacons, and generally of all who are in the list of clergy. The deaconesses, as being so only in dress, and not receiving any ordination, we consider are to be reckoned entirely as belonging to the laity." Mansi ii. 678.
8. h These monks, whose name signifies "the sleepless," were so called because they were divided into courses, and maintained service day and night in their church. Although accused of following the heresy of Nestorius, they rapidly grew into importance, and possessed several monasteries in other parts of the empire, in addition to their great house at Constantinople, of which mention is frequently made by ecclesiastical writers. (Du Fresne, Const. Chris. IV. 151.) As regards Paul, whose name occupies so considerable a place in this history, he was consecrated patriarch, of the Monophysites on the death of Sergius, (conf. p. i.), by the famous Jacob Zanzalus, to whom the sect owe so much that they finally adopted his name, and take their place in history as " the Jacobites;" which again was shortened in Egypt by the Arabs to, "Copts," the name by which the Monophysite Christians are there known. The bitter hatred felt towards him by the Alexandrians, his compulsory submission to the council of Chalcedon, the quarrel which thence issued with Jacob, his flight and concealment, and the strange circumstances of his death and burial, will be found fully detailed, and put into a new light, in the pages which follow.
9. i Literally " a sophist." His high position in the favour of Justin is shown by his having sent him to sue for peace from Kosrun after the calamitous capture of Dara. Bar. Heb. Chron. p. 89.
10. k Our author considers the whole of his opponents as really Nestorians, and adds therefore the epithet "strict" to indicate such as confessedly agreed with that heresy, whereas the council of Chalcedon, and consequently its regular followers, anathematized it.
11. l The proclamation of the council of Chalcedon involved its acceptance as an oecumenical synod: but this was the very point at issue, the Monophysites regarding it as destitute of authority, and its decrees as invalid.
12. m Though the patriarch uses the term fifty years to express an indefinitely long period, yet it agrees closely enough with the commencement of Justinian's reign, in A. D, 519, from which time constant efforts were made to heal the breach occasioned by the council of Chalcedon.
13. n Literally "Secretum," but, as Du Cange shows in his notes, ad Alex. 269, 307, the name is applied by the Byzantine writers to the judicial courts. Among the ecclesiastical authorities, the treasurer had his court, in which he tried matters referring to the church revenues, and which was called Secretum oeconomi; in the Secretum sacellarii accusations were heard against the clergy and monks for dissolute living: while the patriarch had two courts, to_ me/ga Se/kreton, and to_ mikro_n Se/kreton, in which he sat to discharge the public duties of his office. Const. Christ. ii. 162.
14. o These words contain the definition of the Monophysite creed, as appears from its frequent occurrence in our author, and in the works of Severus of Antioch, who in his letters, e. g. Lib. V. Ep. 54. says, "The Chalcedonians divide our one Lord and God, Jesus Christ, after the union into a duplicity of natures." (Add. MSS. Brit. Mus. 12, 181. f. 30.) They did not deny the existence of the perfect godhead and the perfect manhood in Christ, but asserted that after their union, it was the very essence of Nestorianism to distinguish them.
15. p The cenodoxei=a, or hospices, were buildings erected in connection with monasteries, for the entertainment of strangers, and so important was this use in a country where inns were unknown, that the xenodochium was frequently the reason why the monastery was erected, or at least fixed its site. From their utility the emperor Julian ordered hospices to be erected in all the chief, cities, and maintained by the state, Epist. XLIX. In the middle ages the name was frequently used as identical with monastery: and in the passes of Switzerland such hospices still exist, as that of St. Bernard, &c.
16. q This discussion is also mentioned by Photius (Bibl. p. 5. ed. Bekker), who says that Conon and Eugenius opposed the vain labour of Philoponus respecting the resurrection, though they agreed with him in rejecting the synod of Chalcedon: but when, in a discussion held before the patriarch John, of which the acts were still extant, between Paul and Stephan on one side, and Conon and Eugenius on the other, they were required to anathematize John Philoponus; they not only refused to do so, but quoted passages from Severus and Theodosius in support of his views. They are, he adds, orthodox in holding a consubstantial and connatural Trinity, one God and one Godhead; but they blasphemously say, that the substances are divisible, and the Godheads and natures distinct, so as for there to be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Bar-Heb., as we have seen, substitutes the name of John of Asia for Stephan.
17. r The campagi were shoes worn only by the emperors and the chief officers of their court; and subsequently they were adopted by the pope of Rome; and George Metochita tells us that Michael Cerularius, patriarch of Constantinople, broke off communion with Rome because the pope would not let him wear 'a pair of scarlet campagi.' At the present day cardinals are also allowed to use them.
18. s To these lost books our author referred also a little above. John Grammaticus is the same as John Philoponus, the latter title being given him from his industry, the former from his profession.
19. t The Acepliali were so called because they rejected the henoticon of the emperor Zeno (cf. Timothy, as quoted before); for so little did the early church distinguish between the province of the temporal and the spiritual power, that they received with complacency an edict of one of the most contemptible of the Greek emperors, published by him for a political purpose, and the object of which was to keep out of sight the synod of Chalcedon, and so put an end to the disputes which its decrees had occasioned. By anathematizing those who divided Christ, it satisfied most of the Monophysites, and by equally anathematizing those who confounded Him, it secured the approbation of the followers of the council of Chalcedon: and as it condemned all bishops who refused to sign it to degradation and exile, it was so generally received, that the few Monophysites who rejected it for not expressly anathematizing Chalcedon. were left without emperor or patriarch, and called therefore 'the headless.'
20. u This Damianus was himself the founder of a sect called after him the Damianitae. Their doctrine apparently distinguished God absolutely from God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, whence they are also called Tetratheites.
21. x This refers to what John asserts in ii. 36,51, that Eutychius was a zealous follower of that portion of Philoponus' doctrine, which teaches that at the resurrection the bodies which rise are not these present bodies, but new ones in their stead. As Theodora's nephew adopted this tenet in opposition to Conon, its followers are known in church history as Athanasians.
22. y The tonsure, as I have shewn in my notes to Cyril, was at this date peculiar to monks.
23. z The spatharii were the emperor's bodyguard, so called from the a-nddrj or broadsword which they wore. By Romans are meant the inhabitants of Constantinople, who had so appropriated this name that the modern Greek language is to this day called Romaic, and the country about Constantinople Roumelia.
The despotikoi\ were members of the imperial family. The later emperors often even called themselves 'despot' upon .their coins.
The domestici were the emperor's household troops, to whom was intrusted the charge of his person: and as they were generally selected for the command of other troops, the word domesticus became equal to captain, just as the comites or immediate attendant of the kings in the middle ages became high officers, 'counts.' It was also the title of an ecclesiastical dignitary, whose business was to preside over the chanting in church—in modern phrase, a precentor.
24. a The fourth book of John's history, from the thirteenth chapter to the end, is chiefly occupied with the detail of the disastrous consequences to the whole Monophysite party of the consecration there by different factions of two opposing bishops, Theodore and Peter.
25. b The title Caesar at this period of the Byzantine empire signified the successor designate to the throne: and he was usually addressed by the epithets of "serene," and "peaceful," just as the emperor was always "victorious," the patriarch "merciful," and so on.
26. c This story is related again in B. iii. 12, with the addition, that Tiberius said to the patriarch, "Now on your oath," and that though John was a great hypocrite, he would not venture on oath to tell a falsehood.
27. d This monastery is mentioned in the Chronographia of Theodosius Melitenus, p. 95. edidit Tafel, thus, e0pi\ 'Iousti/nou Narsh=j kti/zei th_n tw~n Kaqarw~n e0pilegome/nhn monh&n, e0kklhsi/an perikallh~ kataskeua&saj.
28. e Of John, Le Quien (Or. Ch. ii. 438) knows nothing more than that his consecration at Constantinople instead of Alexandria gave great offence, as an invasion of the rights of the latter see, and that after an episcopate of eleven years he died A. D. 578, or 579. Eulogius succeeded, he says, in the second year of Tiberius, but, according to our author, the third. To him Gregory the Great addressed his epistle against the claim of the Constantinopolitan patriarchs to the title of universal bishop, and the frequent mention of him in the Bibliotheca of Photius, attests the important position he held in the East. The Julianistae took their name from Julianus of Halicarnassus, who argued that the body of our Lord not merely did not see corruption, but was incapable of it: and the character of the times and place may be judged from the fact, that having agreed on having a bishop in common with the Theodosians, but imagining that they were not fairly used in the selection of an abbot named John, they seized the unfortunate man, and flayed not his beard only, but the skin of the whole lower part of his face. Le Quien argues, that Dorotheus was bishop, not of the Julianists, but of the Theodosians, but the testimonies he quotes all agree with our author. Theodore was unknown to Le Quien, and his acquaintance with Peter and Damianus was also very slight.
29. f The Chronicle of Edessa, Ass. B. O. I. 408, says, 'By the providence and care of the God-loving king Justinian, the four holy synods had their names inscribed on the diptych of the church, to wit, the names of Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon.' That of Ephesus is here meant by the synod of the East, which was generally distasteful to all persons of Nestorian tendencies.
30. g Flavianus, after a thirteen years' episcopate, was ejected by a provincial council in A. D. 512, for not condemning with sufficient readiness the council of Chalcedon, as they considered that his anathema of it was wrung from him. The expulsion of his successor, Severus, was the first act of Justin I., a determined upholder of the Chalcedonian tenets, and took place in A. D. 517: how long he lived afterwards is uncertain, but he was alive and at Constantinople in A. D. 536. His deposition was followed by long discussions, so that no successor was appointed till early in A. D. 519, when Paul came to Antioch with special directions from Rome that he was to be consecrated in his own see. Having however taken a strong course against the Monophysites, he was compelled to withdraw in A.D. 521. His successor, Euphrasius, is said by Evagrius to have been a Jew, and Theophanes says that first of all he expunged the name of the synod of Chalcedon from the diptych, and that of the pope of Rome; but finally repented, and proved his sincerity, as Malalas testifies, by putting many of the so called orthodox to death. Ephraim was originally Comes Orientis, but his care of the people of Antioch in the distress occasioned by the earthquake, made them vehemently desire him to take orders, and be their bishop. He held the see eighteen years, and an account of his writings in defence of the council of Chalcedon may be seen in Photius Bib. cc. 227, 228. Domnus, or Domninus, was bishop from A. D. 545 to A. D. 559. Anastasius is famous for his bold resistance to Justinian, who had asked his opinion about his favourite theory of our Lord's body being incorruptible. His deposition in A. D. 569 is said to have been caused by his answer to the question, sent to him from Constantinople, why he so squandered the revenues of his see? 'That Justin may not plunder them,' he replied, 'who is the ruin of the whole world.' But others ascribe it to his resistance to the attempts made by John Scholasticus to claim the right of consecrating the other patriarchs, as in the case of John the Patrician mentioned above. Of Gregory, who held the patriarchate from A. D. 569 to A. D. 593, whose business talents caused him to be repeatedly employed by the Roman emperors on'the most important transactions in the East, very extraordinary revelations are made by our author, whether they are true or false. His own friends extol him for three things—his bounty in almsgiving, the readiness with which he forgave injuries, and the copiousness of his tears. Le Quien ii. 729-736.
Of the Jacobite patriarchs, Bar-Hebraeus names Sergius as the immediate successor of Severus, and says he was a monk in a monastery near Tela, or Constantina in Osrhoene. After an episcopate of three years he died, and the history of his successors, Paul the Black, and Peter of Callinicus, is so fully given by our author, that any further details are unnecessary. The patriarchate thus commenced has continued to the present time, and Le Quien gives the history of no less than 80 persons, who up to A. D. 1721 had held in regular succession the oversight of the Monophysites in the East.
31. h Epiphanius succeeded John the Cappadocian A. D. 520, and after a patriarchate of fifteen years died in 535. Anthimus his successor was appointed by the influence of Theodora, but as Marcellinus tells us (ap. Le Quien, Or. Chris. i. 223) he was expelled by a synod summoned by Agapetus, pope of Rome, for having deserted his original diocese, an act called, in the theological language of the times, adultery. Evagrius however, iv. 11, confirms the statements of our author. Mennas held the patriarchate from A. D. 536 to A. D. 552. The hospital, of which he was previously warden, was built at Constantinople by Sampson, for the relief of the sick and poor, and rebuilt, enlarged, and amply endowed by Justinian. His successor, Eutychius, is commemorated in the Greek church as a saint, and his life, written by his syncellus Eustathius, is still extant. He died in A. D. 582, but John Scholasticus occupied the throne for twelve years and a half of his patriarchate, from A. D. 564 to A. D. 577.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 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