Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume V/Dogmatic Treatises/Against Eunomius/Book I/Chapter 5

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§5. His peculiar caricature of the bishops, Eustathius of Armenia and Basil of Galatia, is not well drawn.

But, not to linger longer on these absurdities in the very act of declining to mention them, and not to soil this book by forcing my subject through all his written reminiscences, like one who urges his horse through a slough and so gets covered with its filth, I think it is best to leap over the mass of his rubbish with as high and as speedy a jump as my thoughts are capable of, seeing that a quick retreat from what is disgusting is a considerable advantage; and let us hasten on[1] to the finale of his story, lest the bitterness of his own words should trickle into my book. Let Eunomius have the monopoly of the bad taste in such words as these, spoken of God’s priests[2], “curmudgeon squires, and beadles, and satellites, rummaging about, and not suffering the fugitive to carry on his concealment,” and all the other things which he is not ashamed to write of grey-haired priests. Just as in the schools for secular learning[3], in order to exercise the boys to be ready in word and wit, they propose themes for declamation, in which the person who is the subject of them is nameless, so does Eunomius make an onset at once upon the facts suggested, and lets loose the tongue of invective, and without saying one word as to any actual villainies, he merely works up against them all the hackneyed phrases of contempt, and every imaginable term of abuse: in which, besides, incongruous ideas are brought together, such as a ‘dilettante soldier,’ ‘an accursed saint,’ ‘pale with fast, and murderous with hate,’ and many such like scurrilities; and just like a reveller in the secular processions shouts his ribaldry, when he would carry his insolence to the highest pitch, without his mask on, so does Eunomius, without an attempt to veil his malignity, shout with brazen throat the language of the waggon. Then he reveals the cause why he is so enraged; ‘these priests took every precaution that many should not’ be perverted to the error of these heretics; accordingly he is angry that they could not stay at their convenience in the places they liked, but that a residence was assigned them by order of the then governor of Phrygia, so that most might be secured from such wicked neighbours; his indignation at this bursts out in these words; ‘the excessive severity of our trials,’ ‘our grievous sufferings,’ ‘our noble endurance of them,’ ‘the exile from our native country into Phrygia.’ Quite so: this Oltiserian[4] might well be proud of what occurred, putting an end as it did to all his family pride, and casting such a slur upon his race that that far-renowned Priscus, his grandfather, from whom he gets those brilliant and most remarkable heirlooms, “the mill, and the leather, and the slaves’ stores,” and the rest of his inheritance in Chanaan[5], would never have chosen this lot, which now makes him so angry. It was to be expected that he would revile those who were the agents of this exile. I quite understand his feeling. Truly the authors of these misfortunes, if such there be or ever have been, deserve the censures of these men, in that the renown of their former lives is thereby obscured, and they are deprived of the opportunity of mentioning and making much of their more impressive antecedents; the great distinctions with which each started in life; the professions they inherited from their fathers; the greater or the smaller marks of gentility of which each was conscious, even before they became so widely known and valued that even emperors numbered them amongst their acquaintance, as he now boasts in his book, and that all the higher governments were roused about them and the world was filled with their doings.


  1. Reading πρός τε τὸ πέρας.
  2. This must be the ‘caricature’ of the (Greek) Summary above. Eustathius of Sebasteia, the capital of Armenia, and the Galatian Basil, of Ancyra (Angora), are certainly mentioned, c. 6 (end). Twice did these two, once Semi-Arians, oppose Aetius and Eunomius, before Constantius, at Byzantium. On the second occasion, however (Sozomen, H. E. iv. 23, Ursacius and Valens arrived with the proscription of the Homoousion from Ariminum: it was then that “the world groaned to find itself Arian” (Jerome). The ‘accursed saint’ ‘pale with fast,’ i.e. Eustathius, in his Armenian monastery, gave Basil the Great a model for his own.
  3. τῶν ἔξωθεν λόγων.
  4. Oltiseris was probably the district, as Corniaspa was the village, in which Eunomius was born. It is a Celtic word: and probably suggests his half-Galatian extraction.
  5. This can be no other than the district Chammanene, on the east bank of the Halys, where Galatia and Cappadocia join.