Ecclesiastical history (Philostorgius)/Epitome of book III

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130315Ecclesiastical history — - Epitome of book IIIPhilostorgius

Chapter 4[edit]

He says that Constantius sent ambassadors to those who were formerly called Sabaeans, but are now known as Homeritae, a tribe which is descended from Abraham by Keturah. As to the territory which they inhabit, he says that it is called by the Greeks "Arabia Magna" and "Arabia Felix", and that it extends into the most distant part of the ocean. Its metropolis, lie says, is Saba, the city from which the queen of Sheba went forth to see Solomon. This tribe is part of the Israelitish family, and practises circumcision on the eighth day; but they also offer sacrifices to the sun and moon, and to the native gods of the country. Constantius accordingly sent an embassage to them, in order to induce them to come over to the true religion. The king determined, in pursuance of his plan, to conciliate the king of that people by magnificent presents and words of gentle persuasion, and thence to take an opportunity forthwith of sowing the seeds of religion. He also asked for licence to build churches on behalf of the Romans who came thither by sea, and the inhabitants of the country who wished to embrace time Christian faith. At the head of this embassy was placed Theophilus the Indian, who had been sent when very young as a hostage from the Divaeans to the Romans when Constantine was at the head of the empire. The island called Divus, is a portion of their territory, and the inhabitants of it are called Indians. Further, he relates that this Theophilus, having passed a long life among the Romans, formed his character upon a pattern of the most strict amid perfect virtue, and embraced the true faith concerning God; but, he adds, that he chose the monastic life, and was promoted to the diaconate at the hands of Eusebius. Thus much as to his early life. But afterwards, having undertaken this embassy, he was invested, by the men of his own party, with the episcopal dignity. But Constantius, wishing to array the embassy with peculiar splendour, put on board of their ships two hundred well-bred horses from Cappadocia, and sent with them many other gifts, with the double view of making an imposing show and of conciliating the feelings of the people. Accordingly, Theophilus, on his arrival among the Sabaeans, endeavoured to persuade the ruler of the tribe to become a Christian, and to give over the deceits of heathenism. Hereupon, the customary fraud and malice of tire Jews was compelled to shrink into deep silence, as soon as ever Theophilus had once or twice proved by his wonderful miracles the truth of the Christian faith. The embassy turned out successfully; for the prince of the nation, by sincere conviction, came over to the true religion, and built three churches in the district, not, however, with the money which the emperor's ambassadors had brought with them, but out of sums which he voluntarily supplied out of his private resources, with a laudable strife to show that his own zeal was a match for the wonders performed by Theophilus. One of these churches he erected in a place called Tapharum, the metropolis of tire nation: another in the place where the mart of Roman commerce stood, lying towards the outer sea. This place is called Adane; and it is the spot where everybody is in the habit of landing on coming out of the Roman territories. The third church he built in another part of the district, where the mart of Persian commerce stands, hard by the mouth of the Persian Sea, which lies along those parts.

Chapter 5[edit]

Theophilus, having arranged everything among the Homeritae according to his ability and circumstances, and having dedicated the churches, and adorned them with such decorations as he could, crossed over to the island of Divus, which, as we above showed, was his native country. Thence he made his way to the other districts of India, and corrected many disorders among their inhabitants. For they listened to the reading of the Gospel in a sitting posture, and used other customs repugnant to the Divine law. But Theophilus, having corrected everything among them according to a religious rule, confirmed the doctrine of the church. For, with regard to the worship of the Divine Being, as that impious writer asserts, they needed no correction, inasmuch as from the earliest antiquity they constantly professed to believe the Son to be of a different substance from the Father.

Chapter 6[edit]

From this Arabia Magna Theophilus proceeded to the Aethiopians who are called Auxumitae, who dwell along the coast near the entrance of the Red Sea, which is formed there by the ocean deeply indenting the continent. The Red Sea, in its turn, after extending to a very great length, terminates in two distinct gulfs, the one of which bends in the direction of Egypt, and is called Clysma, after the name of a place situated at the head of it. This was the sea across which the Israelites passed on dry ground, when they fled away from the Egyptians. The other gulf goes off in the direction of Palestine, near a city which, from the earliest times, has borne the name of Aila. On the further coast of this gulf of the Red Sea, and on its left side, dwell the Auxumitae, so called from their metropolis, which bears the name of Auxumis. Nest to these Auxumitae, but to the east, dwell the Syrians, who stretch to the other ocean, and who are so called even by the men of those parts. For Alexander the Great of Macedon placed them there after he had removed them from Syria; and they still use their hereditary Syrian tongue. Further, these are all of a very dark colour, from the effects of the vertical rays of the sun. Among these, the wood-casia, and the common casia, grow in the greatest abundance, as likewise the cassamum and cinnamon. In this same region, also, there is an abundance of elephants. Theophilus did not penetrate as far as these people, but he came to the Auxumitae, and, having, ordered all things there correctly, he thence began to return into the territory of the Romans : and after his return he was loaded with honours by the emperor; he received the charge of no episcopal see; but was looked up to by the followers of his own sect, as a public example of excellence.

Chapter 15[edit]

He says that Aetius came from Coele-Syria. His father, who had held a post in the victualling department of the army, failed in his business ; and upon his dying insolvent, the governor of the province to which he belonged paid the proceeds of his effects into the imperial treasury. Thus it happened that Aetius was left at a very early age, together with his mother, in a state of extreme destitution ; on this account he was obliged to follow the trade of gilding to provide a maintenance for his mother and himself. He had followed this art for a considerable time, when, on account of his superior intelligence, he began to turn his attention to the study of philosophy. In the first instance he became the disciple of Paulinus, who had been translated to the see of Antioch from that of Tyre. Afterwards, however, upon the death of his mother, on whose account more especially he followed his trade as a gilder, Aetius began to apply himself entirely to the study of logic ; nor was it long before he began to show himself superior to his fellows in disputation, which was the cause of more than ordinary ill-will being roused against him. As long as Paulinus lived, this envious feeling was kept in check; but upon his death, after having held the bishopric for the short space of six months, Eulalius was appointed to the see in his room, and the old grudge against Aetius broke out afresh with such violence that Eulalius was induced to banish him from Antioch. Accordingly Aetius went to Anagarbus, a city of Cilicia, and again resorted to the practice of his craft in order to maintain himself ; at the same time, however, he did not wholly abstain from disputations with such as desired to enter upon them with him. At this conjuncture, a certain grammarian was so struck with admiration at his ability that he offered to teach him the rudiments of his art, and Aetius became an inmate of his home, and performed for him the menial duties of the house. He willingly instructed Aetius in the first principles of grammar ; but when at length Aetius had publicly confuted his master, showing that he gave a wrong interpretation to the Divine oracles, and had covered him with shame on account of his want of skill in expounding, he was rewarded for his pains by being expelled from the house that owed him so much. After this expulsion, he lived for some time with Athanasius, a disciple of the martyr Lucian. who at that time was bishop of Anagarbus. Under him he read the writings of the evangelists, and made himself perfect master of their contents ; this done, he found his way to Tarsus, in order to see Anthony, who had himself been one of the disciples of Lucian. From him he learned the interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles, and lived with him for some space of time, while he as yet held the rank of a mere presbyter. But upon his elevation to the episcopate, Anthony found that he had no time to devote to the instruction of Aetius ; so the latter returned to Antioch, in order to become the disciple of Leontius, who was at that time a presbyter at Antioch, and had been one of the pupils of Lucian. He expounded to Aetius the books of "the Prophets," and especially Ezekiel. But again ill-will, as Philostorgius dreams, or rather, as one might say with greater truth, his own unbridled tongue, and the impious nature of his doctrines, drove him from the city. Thence accordingly Aetius took his departure into Cilicia, where one of the heretical sect of the Borboriani entirely overcame and confounded him in a disputation in defence of his doctrines. On this account he began to be cast down in spirit, and to feel that life was no longer worth living for, seeing that he found falsehood to be more powerful than truth. While Aetius was in this state of mind, as Philostorgius declares, a vision appeared to him, which raised him up again, and confirmed his mind; for it showed him by certain external signs the indomitable strength of the wisdom which should hereafter be imparted to him. From that time forward Aetius had a special gift from God, which saved him from defeat in his disputations. Not long afterwards a certain man named Aphthonius, a leader of the mad heresy of the Manichaeans, and who had gained great renown for his wisdom as well as for his eloquence, met him in the city of Alexandria, for the curiosity of Aetius was so much excited by his fame that he had actually gone thither from Antioch to see him. But upon coming to a regular discussion, Aetius very shortly dumbfounded Aphthonius, and reduced hirn to deep shame from the pinnacle of glory. Aphthonius was so grievously afflicted by the suddenness of his defeat that he fell into a dangerous sickness, on which death shortly ensued, his bodily strength not being able to bear up against it for more than seven days. But Aetius went on everywhere overcoming his adversaries, and gaining the most illustrious victories. At the same time, he gave himself up to the study of medicine, that he might be able to cure diseases not of the soul only, but also of the body. He had also, as a master in this line, Sopolis, a man inferior to none of his day in his art. But if at any time he chanced to be in want of necessaries, he would go by night to some artisan of his former trade, that he might not be hindered from attending to more important business during the day, and quickly finished anything of gold that needed a skilful hand, and so getting his pay from the goldsmith, he supported life. But this all happened in the reign of Constantius, at the same time when Theophilus was staying at Antioch, after his return from India.

Chapter 28[edit]

Gallus having shown considerable valour in the war against the Persians, certain calumniators endeavoured to stir up against him the hostility of Constantius. The latter, accordingly, as soon as the war was settled by the valour and bravery of Gallus, sent Domitian the prefect of the Praetorium with secret instructions to keep Gallus from quitting the city of Antioch. For by this means he thought to diminish the glory which Gallus was reaping from his bravery and care of the state. But Domitian, who was so far from acting within the tenor of instructions, that he even exceeded them by his boldness both of thought and of deed, as soon as he reached Antioch, where Gallus was staying, would not endure even to appear in his presence. On account of this insult, and other matters besides, Gallus determined to inflict capital punishment on the prefect for his haughtiness and contumacious conduct, and took Montius as his assessor in this determination. The latter, using unbounded confidence, addressed Gallus in these terms: " You are not empowered to create even a curator of the city; how then can you venture to kill the prefect of the Praetorium?" Constantia, the wife of Gallus, was so exasperated by these words, because Gallus was both Caesar and the husband of Augusta-- (for this latter dignity she had herself received from her father)--that she dragged down Montius from the judgment-seat with her own hands, and gave him over into the hands of the attendants, who immediately seized him and carried him to Domitian; they then seized him also, dragged him. down from his throne, and tying ropes round the feet of both, they put them to death with every mark of insult. This was done in great haste, and with the consent of Gallus.