Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Caesarius (2), St., of Nazianzus
Caesarius (2), St., of Nazianzus, physician, son of Gregory bp. of Nazianzus, brother of St. Gregory of the same place, and youngest of the family, born probably c. A.D. 330. His death occurred in A.D. 368 or 369. The name is simply a derivative from Caesar, originally adopted in compliment to the reigning family.
Authorities.—The funeral oration by his brother, St. Gregory Nazianzen (the 7th, in some ed. the 10th); two letters addressed by Gregory to Caesarius and one to the Praeses Sophronius (numbered 17, 18, 19, or, more commonly, 50, 51, 52), and a few lines in the Carmen de Vitâ Suâ of the same. Photius, Bibliotheca Cod. 210 (p. 168 ed. Dekker, Berolini, 1824).
Life.—According to the testimony of his brother, Caesarius owed much to the careful training received from his parents. He betook himself to Alexandria, "the workshop of every sort of education," for better instruction in physical science than he could obtain in Palestine. There he behaved as a model student, being very careful in the matter of companionship, and earnest in pursuit of knowledge, more especially of geometry and astronomy. This last-named science he studied, says his panegyrist, in such wise as to gain the good without the evil—a remark readily intelligible to those who are aware how deeply a fatalistic astrology was at that period associated with the study of astronomy.
Refusing a post of honour and emolument at Byzantium, he came home for a time, but returned to the court and was much honoured by Julian. There is a slight, but not perhaps irreconcilable, discrepancy between the funeral oration delivered by Gregory and the letter (17 or 51) which Gregory addressed to his brother. The oration seems to depict Caesarius as from the first spurning all offers of Julian, but the letter severely rebukes Caesarius for becoming a member of the imperial household, and taking charge of the treasury. Such a step is called a scandal in a bishop's son, and a great grief to his mother. Caesarius, however, finally avowed himself a Christian, and broke with Julian. His conduct, together with that of Gregory, caused Julian to exclaim, "Oh happy father! oh unhappy sons!" Under subsequent emperors, more especially under Valens, Caesarius more than regained his former honours, and became a quaestor of Bithynia. A remarkable escape from a terrible earthquake at Nicaea, apparently c. A.D. 367 or 368, to which many distinguished men fell victims, induced Caesarius, at his brother's suggestion, to arrange for retirement from worldly cares. He received Baptism, and soon after died.
The Πύστεις or Quaestiones (sive Dialogi ) de Rebus Divinis, attributed to this physician, may be safely ascribed to some Caesarius. But the name was not an uncommon one, and some considerations seem to shew that the author was not Caesarius of Nazianzus. Photius treats the supposed authorship as merely a current unexamined tradition, and the book refers to Maximus, who lived subsequently.