Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume I/Constantine/Prolegomena/Writings/Oratorical Writings

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§2. Oratorical Writings.

According to Eusebius (V. C. 4. 29; cf. 4. 55) these were very numerous, and it may well be believed. He seems to have done much of everything he undertook at all—fighting, or learning, or building temples, or making laws, he was nothing if not incessant. He had a habit of inflicting his orations on his court, and undoubtedly had plenty of enthusiastic hearers, as any emperor would, and as Eusebius says he did. They seem to have been generally philosophical with as much religion as possible worked in (V. C. 4. 9). Not many are extant, but we have some account of the few following:

1. Oration to the saints (Oratio ad sanctum cœtum, S. C.). For this see the following translation and Special Prolegomena.

2. Address to the Council of Nicæa in praise of peace (Ad Syn. Nic.), in Euseb. V. C. 3. 12. Address of welcome. He rejoices in the assembly, and exhorts them to be united, that they may thereby please God and do a favor to their emperor.

3. Oration to the Council of Nicæa, in Gelasius, Hist. Coun. Nic. 1. 7. Begins with rhetorical comparison of the Church to a temple, and ends with injunctions to observe peace and to search the Scriptures as the authority in all points of doctrine. Appears dubiously authentic.

4. Address to the bishops on their departure from Nicæa. Abstract in Euseb. V. C. 32. 1. Exhorts them to keep peace, cautions against jealousy, &c.

5. Funeral oration. A description in Euseb. V. C. 4. 55. Dwells on the immortality of the soul, the blessings laid up for those who love God, and the ruin of the ungodly.

His method of composition is spoken of by Eusebius (V. C. 4. 29), and his manner of delivery may be gathered from Eusebius’ description of his speech at the opening of the Council of Nicæa (V. C. 3. 11). For the style of his oratorical discourses, compare remarks on the Oration to the Saints in the Special Prolegomena.