Writings of John Chrysostom. Letters to Olympias

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St. Chrysostom:

Translated by Rev. W. R. W. Stephens, M.A., Prebendary of Chichester Cathedral, and Rector of Woolbeding, Sussex.

Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.


Letters of St. Chrysostom to Olympias

Introduction to the Letters to Olympias

The deaconess Olympias to whom seventeen of Chrysostom's extant letters are addressed was the most eminent of his female friends. She belonged to a Pagan family of high rank, and was born about 368. Her father Seleucus who was a count of the Empire died when she was a young girl and she was brought up under the guardianship of an uncle Procopius, who has a devout Christian and a friend of Gregory of Nazianzus. Gregory took great interest in her, speaking of her in his letters as "his own Olympias" and delighting to be addressed by her as "father." Her governess Theodosia, sister of St. Amphilochius of Iconium, was a woman whom Gregory exhorted her to imitate as the very pattern of Christian goodness. The orphan girl had great personal beauty, and was the heiress of a large fortune. Naturally therefore she had many suitors, and in 384 at the age of sixteen she was wedded to Nebridius, a young man of high rank and irreproachable character. The marriage however does not seem to have been a happy one, and perhaps in this fact as well as in the death of her husband about two years after their union, Olympias saw a divine intimation that she should not entangle herself again in the worldly cares and anxieties incident to married life. The Emperor Theodosius wished to unite her to a young Spaniard, Elpidius, a kinsman of his own, and irritated by her refusal, ordered her property to be confiscated until she should have attained her thirtieth year, unless she consented to the proposed union. Olympias however remained inflexible and in a letter of dignified sarcasm thanked the Emperor for relieving her from a heavy burden. "He could not have conferred a greater blessing upon her unless he had ordered her wealth to be bestowed upon the Churches and the poor." Theodosius perceiving the uselessness, if not regretting the injustice, of his harsh decree, cancelled it, and left her in the undisturbed enjoyment of her property. Henceforward her time and wealth were devoted to the service of religion. She ministered to the necessities of the sick and poor, and supported the work of the Church in Greece, Asia Minor and Syria with such lavish donations, not only of her money but of her land, that even Chrysostom, who might be called the great preacher of almsgiving, warned her against indiscriminate liberality, reminding her that as her wealth was a trust committed to her by God she ought to be discreet in the management of it. This salutary advice gained him the ill-will of many avaricious bishops and clergy who had profited, or hoped to profit, by her gifts. She in her turn requited the Archbishop for his spiritual care by many little feminine attentions to his bodily wants, especially by seeing that he was supplied with wholesome food, and did not overstrain his feeble constitution by a too rigid abstinence. She herself however practised the most austere asceticism, renouncing the luxury of the bath, wearing none but old coarse clothing, and subjecting herself to severe restrictions in respect of food and sleep.

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After the expulsion of Chrysostom from Constantinople 404, through the intrigues of his enemies, Olympias suffered much from the persecution to which all his followers were subjected. She was accused of having been concerned in causing the fire which broke out immediately after his departure, and destroyed the Cathedral Church and the Senate House. Her intrepid demeanour before the præfect who tried in vain to frighten her into a confession of guilt, or induce her to acknowledge Arsacius who had been intruded into the See by an arbitrary exercise of imperial power, excited general admiration; and the tidings of her fortitude were a great consolation to the exiled archbishop in the midst of much bodily suffering, and mental distress. It is not quite certain whether she was driven from Constantinople or voluntarily retired from it; nor have we any definite information concerning the remainder of her life.


Letters to Olympias.

To my lady.

The most reverend and divinely favored deaconess Olympias, I John, Bishop, send greeting in the Lord.

1. Come now let me relieve the wound of thy despondency, and disperse the thoughts which gather this cloud of care around thee. For what is it which upsets thy mind, and why art thou sorrowful and dejected? Is it because of the fierce black storm which has overtaken the Church, enveloping all things in darkness as of a night without a moon, and is growing to a head every day, travailing to bring forth disastrous shipwrecks, and increasing the ruin of the world? I know all this as well as you; none shall gainsay it, and if you like I will form an image of the things now taking place so as to present the tragedy yet more distinctly to thee. We behold a sea upheaved from the very lowest depths, some sailors floating dead upon the waves, others engulfed by them, the planks of the ships breaking up, the sails torn to tatters, the masts sprung, the oars dashed out of the sailors' hands, the pilots seated on the deck, clasping their knees with their hands instead of grasping the rudder, bewailing the hopelessness of their situation with sharp cries and bitter lamentations, neither sky nor sea clearly visible, but all one deep and impenetrable darkness, so that no one can see his neighbour, whilst mighty is the roaring of the billows, and monsters of the sea attack the crews on every side.

But how much further shall I pursue the unattainable? for whatever image of our present evils I may seek speech shrinks baffled from the attempt. Nevertheless even when I look at these calamities I do not abandon the hope of better things, considering as I do who the pilot is in all this--not one who gets the better of the storm by his art, but calms the raging waters by his rod. But if He does not effect this at the outset and speedily, such is His custom--He does not at the beginning put down these terrible evils, but when they have increased, and come to extremities, and most persons are reduced to despair, then He works wondrously, and beyond all expectation, thus manifesting his own power, and training the patience of those who undergo these calamities. Do not therefore be cast down. For there is only one thing, Olympias, which is really terrible, only one real trial, and that is sin; and I have never ceased continually harping upon this theme; but as for all other things, plots, enmities, frauds, calumnies, insults, accusations, confiscation, exile, the keen sword of the enemy, the peril of the deep, warfare of the whole world, or anything else you like to name, they are but idle tales. For whatever the nature of these things may be they are transitory and perishable, and operate in a mortal body without doing any injury to the vigilant soul. Therefore the blessed Paul, desiring to prove the insignificance both of the pleasures and sorrows relating to this life, declared the whole truth in one sentence when he said--"For the things which are seen are temporal." [910] Why then dost thou fear temporal things which pass away like the stream of a river. For such is the nature of present things whether they be pleasant or painful. And another prophet compared all human prosperity not to grass, but to another material even more flimsy, describing the whole of it "as the flower of grass." For he did not single out any one part of it, as wealth alone, or luxury alone, or power, or honour; but having comprised all the things which are esteemed splendid amongst men under the one designation of glory he said "all the glory of man is as the flower of grass." [911]

2. Nevertheless, you will say, adversity is a terrible thing and grievous to be borne. Yet look at it again compared with another image and then also learn to despise it. For the railings, and insults, and reproaches, and gibes inflicted by enemies, and their plots are compared to a worn-out garment, and moth-eaten wool when God says "Fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings, for they shall wax old as doth a garment, and like moth-eaten wool so shall they be consumed." [912] Therefore let none of these things which are happening trouble thee, but ceasing to invoke the aid of this or that person, and to run after shadows (for such are human alliances), do thou persistently call upon Jesus, whom thou servest, merely to bow his head; and in a moment of time all these evils will be dissolved. But if thou hast already called upon Him, and yet they have not been dissolved, such is the manner of God's dealing (for I will resume my former argument); He does not put down evils at the outset, but when they have grown to a head, when scarcely any form of the enemy's malice remains ungratified, then He suddenly converts all things to a state of tranquillity and conducts them to an unexpected settlement. For He is not only able to turn as many things as we expect and hope, to good, but many more, yea infinitely more. Wherefore also Paul saith "now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." [913] Could He not, for example, have prevented the three children at the outset from falling into trial? But He did not choose to do this, thereby conferring great pain upon them. Therefore He suffered them to be delivered into the hands of barbarians, and the furnace to be heated to an immeasurable height and the wrath of the king to blaze even more fiercely than the furnace, and hands and feet to be bound with great severity and they themselves to be cast into the fire; and then, when all they who beheld despaired of their rescue, suddenly, and beyond all hope, the wonder-working power of God, the supreme artificer, was displayed, and shone forth with exceeding splendour. For the fire was bound, and the bondmen were released; and the furnace became a temple of prayer, a place of fountains and dew, of higher dignity than a royal court, and the very hairs of their head prevailed over that all devouring element which gets the better even of iron and stone, and masters every kind of substance. And a solemn song of universal praise was instituted there by these holy men inviting every kind of created thing to join in the wondrous melody; and they uttered hymns of thanksgiving to God for that they had been bound, and also burnt, as far at least as the malice of their enemies had power; that they had been exiles from their country, captives deprived of their liberty, wandering outcasts from city and home, sojourners in a strange and barbarous land; for all this was the outpouring of a grateful heart. And when the malicious devices of their enemies were perfected (for what further could they attempt after their death?) and the labours of the heroes were completed, and the garland of victory was woven, and their rewards were prepared and nothing more was wanting for their renown; then at last their calamities were brought to an end, and he who caused the furnace to be kindled, and delivered them over to that great punishment, became himself the panegyrist of those holy heroes, and the herald of God's marvellous deed, and everywhere throughout the world issued letters full of reverent praise, recording what had taken place, and becoming the faithful herald of the miracles wrought by the wonder-working God. For inasmuch as he had been an enemy and adversary what he wrote was above suspicion even in the opinion of enemies.

3. Dost thou see the abundance of resource belonging to God? His wisdom, His extraordinary power, His loving-kindness and care? Be not therefore dismayed or troubled but continue to give thanks to God for all things, praising, and invoking Him; beseeching and supplicating; even if countless tumults and troubles come upon thee, even if tempests are stirred up before thy eyes let none of these things disturb thee. For our Master is not baffled by the difficulty, even if all things are reduced to the extremity of ruin. For it is possible for Him to raise those who have fallen, to convert those who are in error, to set straight those who have been ensnared, to release those who have been laden with countless sins, and make them righteous, to quicken those who are dead, to restore lustre to decayed things, and freshness to those which have waxen old. For if He makes things which are not, come into being, and bestows existence on things which are nowhere by any means manifest, how much more will He rectify things which already exist. But you will say there are many who perish, many who are caught by snares. Many such things have indeed often taken place, yet afterwards have all received their appropriate correction, save some few who have remained in an incurable condition, even after the change in their circumstances. Why are you troubled and distracted because such a person is cast out and such another is put into his place? Christ was crucified and the release of Barabbas the robber was demanded, and the depraved populace clamoured for the preservation of the murderer rather than of the Saviour and benefactor. How many think you then stumbled at these things? how many were destroyed? But I must carry my argument yet further back. Did not He who was crucified become immediately after his birth a wanderer and a fugitive? was He not from the very cradle removed with the whole household into a strange land, taking that long journey into a barbarous region? And this removal gave occasion to torrents of blood, and cruel murder and slaughter, and all the children of tender age were cut to pieces just as if they had been soldiers arrayed in battle, and infants torn from the breast were handed over to death, and even when the milk was in their throats, the sword was driven through their necks. What could be more distressing than this tragedy? And these things were done by him who sought to destroy Jesus, yet the long-suffering God endured this tragical cruelty, which caused so much bloodshed, and forbore to prevent it although He had the power, displaying his long-suffering for some inscrutably wise purpose. And when Jesus had returned from the foreign land and was grown up, war was rekindled against him on every side. First of all the disciples of John were envious of Him and tried to slander Him, although John himself behaved reverently to Him, and they said "He who was with thee beyond Jordan, behold the same baptizeth and all men come to Him." [914] For these were the words of men who were already irritated, and agitated by ill-will, and consumed by that passion. For the same reason also one of the disciples who said these things disputed with a certain Jew and raised a contentious argument about purifying, comparing one kind of baptism with another, the baptism of John with that of the disciples of Christ. "For there arose" it is said, "a questioning on the part of John's disciples with a certain Jew about purifying." [915] And when He began to work miracles how many calumniators He had! Some called Him a Samaritan and demoniac saying "Thou art a Samaritan and hast a Devil" [916] others "a deceiver," saying "This man is not of God but deceiveth the multitude" [917] others "a sorcerer" saying "He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the prince of the Devils" [918] and they continually said these things against Him and called Him an adversary of God, and a gluttonous, and greedy man, and a drunkard, and a friend of the wicked and depraved. "For" He said, "the Son of man came eating and drinking and they say behold a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners." [919] And when he was conversing with the harlot they called Him a false prophet; "For had He been a prophet," one said, "He would have known who this woman is which speaketh unto Him;" [920] in fact every day they sharpened their teeth against Him. And not only did the Jews thus oppose Him, but even those who were reputed to be his brethren were not sincerely attached to Him, but even out of his own family opposition was kindled against Him. See at least how they also themselves were perverted, from the evangelist adding the remark "for neither did His brethren believe on Him." [921]

4. But since you call to mind many who were offended and went astray, how many of the disciples do you suppose were offended at the time of the crucifixion? One betrayed Him, the others took to flight, one denied Him, and when all had abandoned Him He was led away bound without companions. How many then think you who had lately seen Him working His miracles, raising the dead, cleansing lepers, casting out devils, multiplying loaves, and doing all other kinds of wonderful deeds, were offended at that season, when they beheld Him led away and bound, surrounded by common soldiers, and followed by Jewish priests making a tumult and uproar; alone in the midst hemmed in by all his enemies, and the traitor standing by and exulting in his deed? And what was the effect think you when He was being scourged? and probably a vast multitude was present. For it was an illustrious festival which brought all together, and this drama of iniquity was enacted in the capital city, and in the very middle of the day. How many think you who were present then were offended when they saw Him bound, scourged, streaming with blood, examined before the governor's tribunal, and not one of His disciples standing by? What was the effect again when He was subjected to those manifold kinds of mockery, successively repeated, when they crowned Him with thorns, then arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, then put a reed in His hand, then fell down and worshipped Him, setting in motion every species of ribaldry and derision? How many think you were offended, how many bewildered, how many perplexed when they smote Him on the cheek and said "prophesy unto us thou Christ who is He that smote thee?" [922] and when they led Him hither and thither, and spent the whole day in scoffs and abuse, and ribaldry and derision in the midst of the Jewish assembly? and when the servant of the High-Priest dealt Him a blow; and when the soldiers parted His garments amongst them and when He was led up to the cross, having the marks of the scourge upon His back, and was fastened to the wood, how many think you were offended? For not even then were those savage beasts softened, but became more furious than before, and the tragedy became more intense, and the ribaldry increased. For some said "Ah! thou that destroyest the temple, and in three days buildest it up;" [923] and some, "He saved others, Himself He cannot save." [924]

And others said "If thou art the Son of God come down from the cross and we will believe thee." [925]

Again when they insulted Him by offering Him gall and vinegar on the sponge how many think you were offended? or when the robbers reviled Him? or when as I have already said, they made that dreadful and monstrous assertion that the robber and housebreaker, the man laden with the crime of murder deserved to be released rather than Jesus, and having received permission from the judge to make their choice preferred Barabbas, desiring not only to crucify Christ, but also to involve Him in infamy? For they thought that by these means they should be able to manufacture the belief that He was worse than the robber, and such a great transgressor that neither on the plea of mercy, nor of the privilege of the Festival was it possible to save Him. For they did everything with a view to slander His fame; which also was the reason why they crucified the two robbers with Him. Nevertheless the truth was not obscured, but shone forth all the more clearly. And they accused Him of usurping kingly power saying "Every one who maketh himself a king is not a friend of Cæsar" [926] bringing this charge of usurpation against one who had not where to lay his head. Moreover they brought a calumnious accusation of blasphemy against Him. For the High Priest rent his clothes saying "He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses?" [927] And what was the nature of his death? was it not a violent one? was it not the death of capital offenders? of execrable criminals? was it not of the vilest kind? was it not the death of those who have perpetrated the worst offences, and are not worthy to draw even their last breath upon the earth? And then as to the manner of his burial, was it not accomplished as a matter of favour? For a certain one came and begged for his body. Thus not even he who buried Him belonged to his own friends, to those whom He had benefited, to his disciples, to those who had enjoyed such free and salutary intercourse with Him, for all had taken to flight, all had hurried away from Him. And that base suspicion which his enemies contrived in consequence of the resurrection when they said "His disciples came and stole Him" [928] how many think you were offended, how many for a time upset by that? For the story prevailed at that time, although it was a fabrication, and was bought for money; nevertheless it held its ground amongst some people, after the seals (of the sepulchre were broken) [929] after the manifest appearance of the truth. For the multitude did not know the prediction of the resurrection (and no wonder), inasmuch as even his disciples did not understand it; for we read "they did not know that He must rise again from the dead." [930] How many therefore think you were offended in those days? And yet the long-suffering God patiently endured, ordering all things according to His own inscrutable wisdom.

5. Then again after those days the disciples continued to live in hiding and secrecy, being fugitives full of fear and trembling, continually shifting from place to place, and even when they began to appear after fifty days, and to work miracles, they did not enjoy perfect security; but even after those events there were innumerable stumbling-blocks to offend the weaker brethren, when they were scourged, when the Church was distressed, when they themselves were driven away, and their enemies had the upper hand in many places, and raised tumults. For when they had acquired much confidence by means of the miracles which they wrought, then the death of Stephen again caused a severe persecution, and dispersed them all, and involved the Church in confusion; and the disciples were again alarmed, fugitive, and distressed. And yet the Church continually grew, when it flourished by means of the signs which were wrought and became illustrious from the manner of its introduction. One disciple for example was let down through a window, and so escaped the hands of the ruler; others were brought out of prison by an angel and so released from their fetters; others were received into the houses of common people and artisans when they were driven out by those in authority; they were courteously treated in every way, by female sellers of purple, by tentmakers, and tanners dwelling in the outskirts of the cities, and by the sea shore. Frequently moreover they did not dare to appear in the middle of the towns; and if they did venture there themselves their entertainers did not. And thus amidst alternate trials, and respites from trial, the fabric of the Church was wrought, and they who once stumbled were afterwards set upright, and they who wandered away were brought back, and the ruined places were built up more firmly than before. For this cause when Paul prayed that the preaching of the word might proceed by a smooth course only, God rich in wisdom and resource did not yield to His disciple; nay even when many times invoked he would not consent but said "my grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." [931] If then even now you will reckon up the good things with the painful, you will see that many events have occurred which if not positive signs and wonders do yet resemble signs, and are unspeakable proofs of the great providence and succour of God. But that you may not hear everything from me without any trouble, I leave this as thy task, that you may reckon up everything accurately and compare them with the misfortunes, and by occupying yourself with this good employment may divert your mind from despondency; for you will derive much consolation from this work.

Pray say many kind words from me to all your blessed household. May you continue in good health and good spirits, most reverend and divinely favoured lady.

If you wish me to write long letters inform me of this, and pray do not deceive me by saying that you have thrown off all despondency, and are enjoying a season of rest. For letters are a remedy of the proper kind to produce great cheerfulness in thee, and you will continually see letters from me. And when you write to me again do not say "I have much comfort from your letters," for this I know of myself, but tell me that you have as much as I wish you to have, that you are not confounded with sorrow, that you do not pass your time in weeping, but in serenity and cheerfulness.


[910] 2 Cor. iv. 18. [911] Is. xl. 6. [912] Is. l. 7, 8. [913] Ephes. iii. 20. [914] John iii. 26. [915] John ii. 25. St. Chrysostom here follows the same reading which is found in the three oldest extant mss. of the New Testament, the Sinaitic, Vatican and Alexandrian. The textus receptus has metEUR 'Ioudaion "with the Jews" instead of metEUR 'Ioudaiou "with a Jew." [916] John viii. 48. [917] John vii. 12. [918] Matt. ix. 34. [919] Luke vii. 34. [920] Luke vii. 39. [921] John vii. 5. [922] Matt. xxvi. 28. [923] Matt. xxvii. 40. [924] Matt. xxvii. 42. [925] Matt. xxvii. 40. [926] John xix. 12. The latter part of the sentence, which is not correctly quoted, was probably suggested by the words immediately preceding, "if thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar's friend." [927] Matt. xxvi. 65. [928] Matt. xxviii. 13. [929] These words in brackets are not in the original, but must be understood, to make sense of the passage. [930] John xx. 9. [931] 2 Cor. xii. 9. .

To Olympias.

Do not be anxious on my behalf, nor rack yourself with solicitude, on account of the severity of the winter, and the weakness of my digestion, and the incursions of the Isaurians. For the winter is only what it is wont to be in Armenia; nothing more need be said about it; and it does not very seriously injure me. For in anticipation of these things I have devised many plans for averting the mischief which might arise from them; keeping up a constant fire, setting screens about the chamber in which I live, using a large number of rugs, and staying always indoors. This indeed is irksome to me, if it were not for the benefit to be derived; for as long as I remain indoors I am not severely distressed by the cold; but if I am compelled to go out a little, and come in contact with the outer air, I suffer no small damage. Wherefore I beseech thee dear lady, and entreat thee as a very great favour to pay great attention to the restoration of thy bodily health. For dejection causes sickness; and when the body is exhausted and enfeebled, and remains in a neglected condition, deprived of the assistance of physicians, and of a wholesome climate, and an abundant supply of the necessaries of life, consider how great an aggravation of distress is occasioned thereby. Wherefore I beseech you, dear lady, to employ various and skilled physicians, and to take medicines which avail to correct these conditions. For a few days ago when I suffered from a tendency to vomiting, owing to the state of the atmosphere, I had recourse amongst other remedies to the drug which was sent me by my most discreet mistress Syncletion, and I found that no more than three days' application of it cured my infirmity. I beseech you therefore to make use of this remedy also yourself and to arrange that some more of it may be sent to me. For having again felt somewhat upset, I again had recourse to it, and completely cured my disorder; for it allays the deep internal inflammation, draws out moisture on the skin, causes a moderate degree of warmth, infuses no little vigor, and excites an appetite for food; and all these effects I experienced in the course of a few days. Let then my most honoured lord the Count Theophilus be exhorted to take means to send some of this to me again. And do not be distressed at my wintering here, for I am in a much more comfortable and sounder state of health than I was last year; so that if you also would take the requisite care of yourself, you would be in a far more satisfactory condition. Now if you say that your ailments have been produced by despondency how is it that you again ask for letters from me, seeing that you have not derived any benefit from them in the direction of cheerfulness, but have sunk so deeply under the tyranny of despondency as even to desire to depart out of this world. Are you ignorant how great a reward even of sickness awaits one who has a thankful spirit? Have I not often, both in person, and through letters, discoursed to you concerning this theme? But since the pressure of business perhaps, or the peculiar nature of your sickness, and the quick succession of changes in your condition do not permit you to retain what I have said constantly and clearly in your mind, listen once more whilst I try to heal the wounds of thy despondency by repeating the same incantations: "for to write the same things," it is said, "to me indeed is not grievous, and for you it is safe." [932]

2. What is it then which I say and write? Nothing, Olympias, redounds so much to the credit of any one as patient endurance in suffering. For this is indeed the queen of virtues, and the perfection of crowns; and as it excels all other forms of righteousness, so this particular species of it is more glorious than the rest. Perhaps what I have said seems obscure; I will therefore try to make it clearer. What then is it that I affirm? Not the spoliation of goods, even if one were to be stripped bare of all one's possessions, not the loss of honours, nor expulsion from one's country, and transportation to a distant land, nor the strain of labour and toil, nor imprisonment, and bondage, nor reproaches, and abuse, and scoffings (not indeed that you are to think the courageous endurance of such things a slight kind of fortitude, as Jeremiah that great and eminent prophet proves who was not a little distressed by this kind of trial); [933] yet not even this, nor the loss of children, even should they be torn from us in one fell swoop, nor the perpetual assaults of enemies, nor anything else of that nature, no, nor even the head and crown of things accounted painful, namely death, terrible and loathsome though it be, is so oppressive as infirmity of body. And this is proved by the greatest hero of endurance, [934] who, when he was encompassed by bodily sickness, thought death would be a release from the calamities which were depressing him; and when he underwent all the other sufferings, was not sensible of them, although he received blow after blow, and at last a deadly one. For it was no slight matter, but rather an evidence of the most malignant cruelty on the part of his enemy in dealing with one who was no novice in suffering, nor entering the lists for the first time, but already exhausted with the frequent repetition of assaults, to inflict upon him that deadly blow, the destruction of his children, so cruelly inflicted moreover that all of either sex were destroyed at the same moment in early youth and by a violent end, and so instantaneous was their death that it involved their burial also. For their father neither saw them laid upon abed, nor kissed their hands, nor heard their last words, nor touched their hands and knees, nor did he shut their mouths, or close their eyes when they were about to die, acts which tend not a little to console parents who are being parted from their children; neither did he follow some of them to burial, and find others on his return home to console him for those who had departed; but he heard that as they were reclining on their couches at a banquet, a banquet full of love, not of excess, a table of brotherly kindness, they were all overwhelmed; and blood, and wine, the cups and the ceiling, the table, and the dust, and the limbs of his children, were all mingled together. Nevertheless when he heard these things, and others before these which were also distressing; for they too had perished in a distressing way; flocks and whole herds had been destroyed, the latter having been consumed by fire sent down from heaven, (so said the evil messenger of this tragedy,) and the former having been all seized together by various enemies, and cut to pieces as well as the shepherds themselves; nevertheless I say when he saw this great storm stirred up in a brief moment of time affecting his lands, his house, his cattle, and his children, when he saw billow following billow, and long lines of rocks, and the darkness was profound, and the surging waves unbearable, even then he was not tortured by despondency, and scarcely seemed to feel the things which had happened, save so far as he was a man and a father. But when he was delivered over to sickness and sores, then did he also long for death, then did he also bewail himself and lament, so that you may understand how this kind of suffering is more severe than all others, and this form of patience the highest of all. Nor is the Devil himself unaware of this fact; for when after having set in motion all these trials he perceived that the hero remained untroubled and undismayed he rushed to this as the greatest contest of all, saying that all the other calamities were bearable, as loss of child, or property, or anything else (for this is what is meant by the expression "skin for skin" [935] ) but the deadly blow was when pain was inflicted on a man's body. And therefore when he had been worsted after this contest, he had no longer a word to utter, although on former occasions he had made the most strenuous and shameless resistance. In this instance however he found that he could not invent any further shameless device, but hid his face and retreated.

3. Think not however that it is an excuse to justify you in desiring death, that Job desired it, not being able to bear his sufferings. For consider the time when he desired it, and the disposition of his circumstances--the law was not given, the prophets had not appeared, grace had not been shed forth as it was afterwards, nor had he the advantage of any other kind of philosophy. For as a proof that more is demanded from us than from those who lived then, and that harder tasks are assigned to us, listen to Christ, when He says "Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of Heaven." [936] Do not think therefore that to pray for death now is exempt from blame, but hearken to the voice of St. Paul when he says "To depart and to be with Christ is far better, but to abide in the flesh is more necessary for your sake." [937] For in proportion as the strain of the affliction is increased are the garlands of victory multiplied; in proportion as the gold is heated does it become purified, the longer the merchant makes his voyage on the sea, the larger is the freight which he collects. Do not then think that the labour now allotted to you is a slight one, but rather that it is higher than all which you have undergone, I mean that which consists in infirmity of body. For in the case of Lazarus [938] (and although I may have often said this to you, it nowise hinders me from saying it now) this bodily infirmity availed for his salvation; and he departed to the bosom of the man who possessed a dwelling which he shared with all who passed by, [939] and was continually shifting his home on account of God's command, and sacrificed his own son, his only begotten, who had been given him in extreme old age; although Lazarus had done none of these things yet he obtained this blessing inasmuch as he cheerfully endured poverty, and infirmity, and friendlessness. For this is so great a good to those who bear anything bravely that it releases any one who may have committed the greatest sins from the heaviest burden of them; or if any one is an upright and just man it becomes an additional ground of the greatest confidence. For it is a bright wreath of victory for the just, shining far above the brightness of the sun, and it is the greatest means of purification for those who have sinned. On this account Paul delivers the man who had made the incestuous marriage to "destruction of the flesh," purifying him by this means. For as a proof that what was done did purify even from so great a stain hear his words "that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord." [940] And when he was accusing others of another very awful sin, that of partaking unworthily of the holy table and those secret mysteries, and had said that such a person will be "guilty of the body and blood of the Lord," [941] observe how he says that they also are purified from that grievous stain--"therefore are many weak and sickly among you." [942] And then by way of proving that they will not be confined to this condition of punishment, but that some profit will be derived from it, namely release from the penalties to which the sin is liable, he added: "for if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But now when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." [943] Moreover that they who have lived very righteously derive much benefit from such chastisement is plain from the case of Job, who was more illustrious after it than before, and from the case of Timothy, who although he was such a good man, and entrusted with such an important ministry, and made the circuit of the world with Paul passed not two or three days, nor ten or twenty, or a hundred, but many in succession in ill health, his body being very seriously enfeebled. Paul shows this where he said "Use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thine often infirmities." [944] And he who raised the dead did not cure this man's infirmity, but left him in the furnace of his sickness so that he might therefrom contract a very great abundance of confidence. For the lessons which Paul himself had enjoyed from his Master, and the training which he had received from Him, he imparted to his disciple. For although he was not subjected to bodily infirmity, yet he was buffeted by trials not less severe, which inflicted much physical pain. "For there was given unto me" he says "a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me" [945] meaning by this the blows, the bonds, the chains, the imprisonments, the being dragged about, and maltreated, and tortured by the scourges of public executioners. Wherefore also being unable to bear the pain occasioned to the body by these things "for this I besought the Lord thrice (thrice here meaning many times) that I might be delivered from this thorn." And then when he did not obtain his petition, having learned the benefit of the trial, he held his peace, and rejoiced at the things which happened unto him.

Therefore even if you remain at home, and are set fast in bed, do not consider your life an idle one; for you undergo more severe pains than those who are dragged, and maltreated, and tortured by executioners, inasmuch as in this excessive infirmity of yours you have a perpetual executioner residing with you.

4. Do not then now desire death, nor neglect the means of cure; for indeed this would not be safe. On this account Paul also exhorts Timothy to take the greatest care of himself. As regards infirmity then enough has now been said. But if it is separation from me which causes your despondency expect release from this. And I have not said this now merely to encourage you, but I am sure that it really will be the case. For if it were not destined to happen, I should long ago, so at least I think, have departed from this world, considering the trials which have been inflicted on me. For to pass over all that occurred in Constantinople, after my departure thence, you may understand what sufferings I endured on that long and cruel journey, most of which were sufficient to produce death; what I endured after my arrival here, after my removal from Cucusus, and after my sojourn in Arabissus. Yet I have survived all these things, and now I am in sound health, and great security, so that all Armenians are astonished that with such a feeble and flimsy frame as mine I can support such an intolerable amount of cold, or that I can breathe at all, when those who are habituated to the winter are suffering from it in no common degree. Nevertheless I have remained uninjured up to the present day, having escaped the hands of robbers who have repeatedly attacked us, and yet in daily want of the necessaries of life, and deprived of the use of a bath; and although since my sojourn here I have been constantly without this luxury I am now so established in the habit that I do not even long for the comfort to be derived from it, but am in sounder health than before. And neither the inclemency of the climate, nor the desolation of the region, nor the scarcity of provisions, nor the lack of attendants, nor the unskillfulness of physicians, nor the deprivation of the bath, nor perpetual confinement in one chamber as in a prison, and the impossibility of moving about which I always used continually to need, nor perpetual contact with fire and smoke, nor fear of robbers, nor a constant state of siege, nor anything else of this kind has got the better of me; on the contrary I am in a sounder condition of health than I was elsewhere, although I then received great care and attention. Taking all these things then into consideration pray shake off the despondency which now oppresses you, and do not exact inordinate and cruel penances from yourself. I sent you the treatise which I have lately written, that "no one can harm the man who does not injure himself," [946] and the letter which I now send your honour contends for the same position. I beg you therefore to go over it constantly, and if your health permits you, recite it aloud. For if you will, it may prove an effectual remedy for you. But if you are contentious with me, and do not try to cure yourself, and will not rouse yourself from these dismal swamps of despondency in spite of the unlimited amount of advice and exhortation which you enjoy I shall not on my part readily consent to send you frequent and long letters, if you are not to derive any benefit in the way of cheerfulness from them. How then shall I know this? not by your merely saying so, but by a practical proof, inasmuch as you lately affirmed that it was nothing but despondency which caused this sickness of yours. Since then you have yourself made this confession I shall not believe that you have got rid of your despondency unless you have got rid of your bodily infirmity. For if it is the former which causes your disorder, as you say in your letter, it is obvious that when that has been dispersed the other will be removed at the same time, and when the root has been plucked up, the branches perish with it;--and if the branches continue flowering and flourishing, and producing an unnatural amount of fruit I cannot believe that you have been set free from the root of your distress. Therefore do not show me words but facts, and, if you get well, you will see letters sent to you again exceeding the limits of former communications. Deem it then no small consolation that I am alive, and in good health, and that in the midst of such circumstances I have been set free from sickness and infirmity, which, as I know, is a great annoyance and vexation to my enemies. It follows therefore that you should deem this the greatest encouragement, and the crown of your consolation. Do not call your household desolate, which has now a higher place assigned to it in Heaven by reason of the sufferings which it endures. I was grievously distressed on account of Pelagius the monk. [947] Consider therefore what great rewards they deserve who bravely hold their ground, when men who pass their time in such a habit of discipline and endurance are found susceptible of degradation.


[932] Phil. iii. 1. [933] Jer. xv. [934] Sc. Job. [935] Job ii. 4. [936] Matt. v. 20. [937] Phil. i. 23, 24. [938] Luke xvi. [939] Referring to the hospitality of Abraham as illustrated by his reception of the divine visitors, Gen. xviii. [940] 1 Cor. v. 5. [941] 1 Cor. xi. 27. [942] 1 Cor. xi. 30. [943] 1 Cor. xi. 31, 32. [944] 1 Tim. v. 23. [945] 2 Cor. xii. 7. The word rendered "thorn" more properly signifies a "stake;" and the expression, especially when compared with Gal. iv. 14, would rather seem to indicate some painful bodily infirmity, perhaps weakness of eyesight (see Gal. iv. 19) than the indignities to which he was subjected. [946] Translated in this volume, see pages 270-284. [947] If Pelagius the heresiarch were the person here alluded to, this would be the earliest historical notice of him. But as Pelagius was in Rome from 401 to 409, during which period he is mentioned with respect by his contemporaries, and this letter must have been written not later than 405 or 406, the identification is impossible. .

To Olympias.

Having risen from the very gates of death I address this letter to the discreet lady; and I am very glad that thy servants have met me just as I am anchoring at last in harbour. For had they met me when I was still tossing on the open sea, and experiencing the cruel waves of bodily sickness, it would not have been easy for me to deceive your cautious spirit, by sending good tidings instead of sorrowful. For the winter, which has become more than commonly severe, brought on a storm of internal disorder even more distressing, and during the last two months I have been no better than one dead, nay worse. For I had just enough life to be sensible of the horrors which encircled me, and day and dawn and noon were all one night to me as I spent all my time closely confined to my bed, and in spite of endless contrivances I could not shake off the pernicious effects of the cold; but although I kept a fire burning, and endured a most unpleasant amount of smoke, and remained cooped up in one chamber, covered with any quantity of wraps, and not daring to set a foot outside the threshold I underwent extreme sufferings, perpetual vomiting supervening on headache, loss of appetite, and constant sleeplessness. Thus restlessly did I pass through my long dark sea of troubles. But not to distress thy mind by dwelling upon my miseries, from all of them I am now relieved. For as soon as spring approached, and a little change in the temperature took place, all my troubles spontaneously vanished. Nevertheless I still require great care as regards diet; therefore I put only a light load on my stomach, so that it may be able to digest it easily. But it has occasioned me no little concern to learn that my discreet mistress was brought to the verge of death. Nevertheless in consideration of my great affection, and anxiety, and solicitude for your welfare I was relieved from this care, even before the arrival of your letters, many persons having come from thence who brought me tidings of your restoration to health.

And now I am exceedingly glad and delighted to hear, not only that you have been released from your infirmity, but above all that you bear the things which befall you so bravely, calling them all but an idle tale; and, which is indeed a greater matter, that you have applied this name even to your bodily infirmity, which is an evidence of a robust spirit, rich in the fruit of courage. For not only to bear misfortunes bravely but to be actually insensible to them, to overlook them, and with such little exertion to wreathe your brows with the garland prize of patience, neither labouring, nor toiling, neither feeling distress nor causing it to others, but as it were leaping and dancing for joy all the while, this is indeed a proof of the most finished philosophy. [948] Therefore I rejoice, and leap for joy; I am in a flutter of delight, I am insensible to my present loneliness, and the other troubles which surround me, being cheered, and brightened, and not a little proud on account of your greatness of soul, and the repeated victories which you have won, and this, not only for your own sake, but also for the sake of that large and populous city, [949] where you are like a tower, a haven, and a wall of defence, speaking in the eloquent voice of example, and through your sufferings instructing either sex to strip readily for these contests, and descend into the lists with all courage, and cheerfully bear the toils which such contests involve. And the wonder is that without thrusting yourself into the forum, or occupying the public centres of the city, but sitting all the while in a small house and confined chamber you serve and anoint the combatants for the contest, and whilst the sea is thus raging round you, and the billows are rising to a crest, and crags and reefs, and rocky ledges and fierce monsters appear on every side, and everything is shrouded in the most profound darkness you, setting the sails of patience, float on with great serenity, as if it was noonday, and calm weather, and a favourable breeze wafting you on, and so far from being overwhelmed by this grievous tempest are not even sprinkled by the spray; and very naturally so; such is the force of virtue as a rudder. Now merchants and pilots, and sailors and voyagers when they see clouds gathering up, or fierce winds rushing down upon them, or the breakers seething with an abundance of foam keep their vessels moored inside harbour; and if they chance to be tempest-tossed in the open sea they do their best, and devise every means to bring their ship to some anchorage, or island or shore. But you, although such innumerable winds, and fierce waves burst upon you together, and the sea is heaved up from its very depths owing to the severity of the storm, and some are submerged, others floating dead upon the water, others drifting naked upon planks, you plunging into the mid ocean of calamities call all these things an idle tale, sailing on with a favourable breeze in the midst of the tempest; and naturally so; for pilots, even if they are infinitely wise in that science, nevertheless have not skill sufficient to withstand every kind of storm; consequently they often shrink from doing battle with the waves. But the science which you have is superior to every kind of storm--the power of a philosophic soul--which is stronger than ten thousand armies, more powerful than arms, and more secure than towers and bulwarks. For the arms, and bulwarks, and towers which soldiers have, are serviceable for the security of the body only, and this not always, nor in every way; but there are times when all these resources are baffled, and leave those who fly to them for refuge destitute of protection. But thy powers do not repel the weapons of barbarians, nor the devices of hostile men, nor any assaults and stratagems of that kind, but they have trampled under foot the constraining forces of nature, put down their tyranny and levelled their citadel. And whilst ceaselessly contending with demons, you have won countless victories, yet have not received a single blow, but stand unwounded in the midst of a storm of darts and turn the spears which are hurled at you back upon those who discharge them. Such is the wisdom of your art; by the sufferings which you undergo you take vengeance on those who inflict them; by the plots of which you are the subject you put your enemies to pain, possessing in their malice the best foundation for the materials of fame. And you, knowing these things well yourself, and having gained perception by experience, naturally call them all an idle tale. For how, pray, should you not call them by that name, possessing as you do a mortal body, and yet despising death as if you were hastening to quit a foreign country, and return to your own land; a chronic sufferer from the most severe infirmity, and yet more cheerfully disposed than the thriving and robust, not depressed by insults, nor elated by honours and glory, the latter being a cause of infinite mischief to many who after an illustrious career in the priesthood, and after reaching extreme old age, and the most venerable hoar hairs, have fallen into disgrace on this account, and become a common spectacle of derision for those who wish to make merry. But you on the contrary, woman as you are, clothed with a fragile body, and subject to these severe attacks, have not only avoided falling into such a condition yourself, but have prevented many others from so doing. They indeed before they had advanced far in the contest, even at the very outset and starting point, have been overthrown; whereas you, after having gone countless times round the farther turning post, have won a prize in every course, after playing your part in manifold kinds of wrestling and combats. And very naturally so; for the wrestlings of virtue do not depend upon age, or bodily strength, but only on the spirit and the disposition. Thus women have been crowned victors, while men have been upset; so also boys have been proclaimed conquerors, while aged men have been put to shame. It is indeed always fitting to admire those who pursue virtue, but especially when some are found to cling to it at a time when many are deserting it. Therefore, my sweet lady, you deserve superlative admiration, inasmuch as after so many men, women, and aged persons who seemed to enjoy the greatest reputation have been turned to flight, all lying prostrate before the eyes of the world, and this not after a severe onslaught, nor any alarming muster of the enemy's force, but overthrown before the encounter and worsted before the struggle, you on the contrary after so many battles and such large muster of the enemy are so far from being unstrung, or dismayed by the number of your adversities, that you are all the more vigorous, and the increase of the contest gives you an increase of strength. For the recollection of what has been already achieved becomes the ground of cheerfulness, and joy, and greater zeal. Therefore I rejoice, and leap for joy; for I will not cease repeating this, and taking about with me everywhere the material of my joy; so that although my separation from you distresses you, yet you have this very great consolation arising from your successful exploits; for I also who am banished to so great a distance gain no small cheerfulness from this cause,--I mean your courage.


[948] Here, as often elsewhere, St. Chrysostom uses the word philosophia in the sense of Christian training and moral discipline. The monastic form of life was commonly called he philosophia, the "philosophy." [949] Sc. Constantinople. .

To Olympias.

Why do you lament? why do you belabour yourself, and demand of yourself a punishment which your enemies were not able to demand from you, having thus abandoned your soul to the tyranny of dejection? For the letters which you sent to me by the hands of Patricius have discovered to me the wounds which have been inflicted on your mind. Wherefore also I am very sorrowful and much distressed that when you ought to be using every exertion and making it your business to expel dejection from your soul, you go about collecting distressing thoughts, even inventing things (so you say) which do not exist, and tearing yourself to pieces for no purpose, and to your very great injury. For why are you grieved because you could not remove me from Cucusus? Yet indeed, as far as you were concerned, you did remove me, having made every exertion and endeavour for this purpose. And even if it has not been actually accomplished you ought not to be vexed on that account. For perhaps it seemed good to God that I should be set to run the longer double course, [950] in order that the garland of victory might be rendered more glorious. Why then are you vexed on account of these things, in consequence of which my fame is spread abroad, when you ought to leap and dance for joy and bind wreaths upon your brow, because I have been deemed worthy of so great an honour which far exceeds my merits? Is it the desolation of this place which grieves you? Yet what can be pleasanter than my sojourn here? I have quietness, and tranquillity, plenty of leisure and good bodily health. For although the town has neither market-place nor market that is nothing to me. For all things are poured abundantly upon me as out of a flowing spring. I find my lord the Bishop here and my lord Dioscorus are constantly employed in providing for my refreshment. And the good Patricius will tell you that as far as my sojourn here is concerned I pass my time cheerfully and gladly, surrounded by attention. But if you lament the events which occurred in Cæsarea, here again your conduct is unworthy of yourself. For there also bright garlands of victory were woven for me, inasmuch as all were proclaiming and publishing my praises, and expressing wonder and astonishment at the ill-treatment to which I had been subjected followed by expulsion. Meanwhile however do not let any one know these things, although they are the theme of much gossip. For my lord Poeanius has disclosed to me that the presbyters of Pharetrius himself [951] have arrived on the spot, who declare that they were in communion with me and had no communication or intercourse or partnership with my adversaries. Therefore to avoid upsetting them do not let any one know these things. For certainly the things which befell me were very grievous: and if I had not suffered any other distress the events which happened there would have sufficed to procure innumerable rewards for me: so extreme was the danger which I encountered. Now I beseech you to keep these matters secret, and so I will give you a short account of them, not in order to grieve you but rather to make you glad. For herein consists the material of my gain, herein consists my wealth, herein the means of getting rid of my sins--that my journey is continually encompassed by trials of this kind, and that they are inflicted upon me by persons from whom they were quite unexpected. For when I was about to enter the region of Cappadocia, having escaped from that man of Galatia, who nearly threatened me with death, [952] many persons met me on the way saying "the lord Pharetrius is awaiting you, and going about in all directions for fear of missing the pleasure of meeting you, and making every possible endeavour to see you, and embrace you, and show you all manner of affectionate regard; and he has set the monasteries of men and women in motion for this purpose." Now when I heard these things I did not expect that any of them would really take place, but formed an impression in my own mind precisely the reverse: but of this I said nothing to any of those who brought me this message.

2. Now when I arrived late one evening at Cæsarea, in an exhausted and worn-out condition, being in the very height of a burning fever, faint and suffering to the last degree, I lighted upon an inn situated just at the outskirts of the city, and took great pains to find some physicians and allay this fiery fever; for it was now the height of my tertian malady. And in addition to this there was the fatigue of the journey, the toil, the strain, the total absence of attendants, the difficulty of getting supplies, the want of a physician, the wasting effects of toil, and heat and sleeplessness; thus I was well nigh a dead man when I entered the city. Then indeed I was visited by the whole body of the clergy, and the people, monks, nuns, physicians, and I had the benefit of great attention, as all paid me every kind of ministration and assistance. Yet even thus, being oppressed by the lethargy arising from the feverish heat I was in an extremely distressed condition. At length by degrees the malady was coming to an end and abating. Pharetrius however nowhere appeared; but waited for my departure, I know not with what purpose in view. When then I saw that my disorder had slightly abated I began to form plans for my journey so as to reach Cucusus, and enjoy a little repose after the calamities of the way. And whilst I was thus situated it was suddenly announced that the Isaurians [953] in countless multitudes were overrunning the district of Cæsarea, and had burnt a large village, and were most violently disposed. The tribune, having heard this, took the soldiers which he had and went out. For they were afraid lest the enemy should make an assault also upon the city, and all were in terror, and in an agony of alarm the very soil of their country being in jeopardy, so that even the old men undertook the defence of the walls. While affairs were in this condition suddenly towards dawn a rabble [954] of monks (for so I must call them, indicating their frenzy by the expression) rushed up to the house where we were, threatening to set fire to it, and to treat us with the utmost violence unless we turned out of it. And neither the fear of the Isaurians, nor my own infirmity which was so grievously afflicting me, nor anything else made them more reasonable, but they pressed on, animated by such fierce rage that even the proconsular soldiers were terrified. For they kept threatening them with blows and boasted that they had shamefully beaten many of the proconsular soldiers. The soldiers having heard these things, sought refuge with me, and entreated and beseeched me, saying "even if we are to fall into the hands of the Isaurians deliver us from these wild beasts." When the governor heard this he hastened down to the house intending to succour me. But the monks would not pay any heed to his exhortations, and in fact he was powerless. Perceiving the great strait in which affairs were placed and not daring to advise me either to go out to certain death, or on the other hand to stay indoors, owing to the excessive fury of these men, he sent to Pharetrius beseeching him to grant a few days respite on account of my infirmity and the impending danger. But even then nothing was effected, and on the morrow the monks arrived even fiercer than before, and none of the presbyters dared to stand by me and help me, but covered with shame and blushes (for they said that these things were done by the instructions of Pharetrius) they concealed themselves and lay hid, not responding even when I called them. What need to make a long story? Although such great terrors were imminent, and death well nigh a certainty, and the fever was oppressing me (for I had not yet got relief from the troubles arising from that cause) I flung myself at high noon into the litter, and was carried out thence, all the people shrieking and howling, and imprecating curses on the perpetrator of these deeds, whilst every one wailed and lamented. But when I got outside the city, some of the clergy also gradually came out and escorted me, mourning as they went. And having heard some persons say "Where are you leading him away to manifest death?" one of those who was warmly attached to me said to me "Depart I entreat you; fall into the hands of the Isaurians, provided you get clear away from us. For wherever you may fall, you will fall into a place of security, if only you escape our hands." Having heard and seen these things the good Seleucia, the generous wife of my lord Ruffinus (a most attentive friend she was to me), exhorted and entreated me to lodge at her suburban house which was about five miles from the city and she sent some men to escort me, and so I departed thither.

3. But not even there was this plot against me to come to an end. For as soon as Pharetrius knew what she had done, he published, as she said, many threats against her. But when she received me into her suburban villa I knew nothing of these things; for when she came out to meet me she concealed these things from me, but disclosed them to her steward who was there, and ordered him to afford me every possible means of repose, and if any of the monks should make an assault, wishing to insult or maltreat me, he was to collect the labourers from her other farms, and thus marshal a force against them. Moreover she besought me to take refuge in her house, which had a fortress and was impregnable, that I might escape the hands of the bishop and monks. This however I could not be induced to do, but remained in the villa, knowing nothing of the plans which were devised after these things. For even then they were not content to desist from their fury against me but Pharetrius beset the lady as she says, straitly threatening her, constraining and forcing her to expel me even from the suburbs, so that at midnight, I knowing nothing of these things, the lady being unable to endure his annoyance, announced, without my knowledge, that the barbarians were at hand, for she was ashamed to mention the compulsion which she had undergone. So in the middle of the night Evethius the presbyter came to me, and having roused me from sleep, exclaimed with a loud voice "Get up, I pray you, the barbarians are upon us, they are close at hand." Imagine my condition on hearing this! Then, when I said to him what must we do? we cannot take refuge in the city lest we suffer worse things than what the Isaurians are going to do to us, he compelled me to go out. It was midnight, a dark, murky night without a moon--a circumstance which filled up the measure of our perplexity--we had no companion, no assistant, for all had deserted us. Nevertheless under the pressure of fear and in the expectation of immediate death, I got up, suffering as I was, having ordered torches to be lit. These however the presbyter ordered to be put out, for fear as he said lest the barbarians should be attracted by the light and attack us; so the torches were extinguished. Then the mule which carried my litter fell on its knees, the road being rugged, and steep and stony, and I who was inside was thrown down and narrowly escaped destruction, after which I dismounted, and was dragged along on foot, being held fast by Evethius the presbyter (for he also had alighted from his mule), and so I plodded on, led, or rather hauled by the hand, for to walk was impossible through such a difficult country, and amongst steep mountains in the middle of the night. Imagine what my sufferings must have been, encompassed as I was by such calamities, and oppressed by the fever, ignorant of the plans which had been made, but in terror of the barbarians and trembling. with the expectation of falling into their hands. Do you not think that these sufferings alone, even if nothing else besides had befallen me, would avail to blot out many of my sins, and afford ample material for obtaining praise with God? Now the reason of all this, at least as I suppose, was, that as soon as I arrived in Cæsarea, those who were in official positions, the learned men who were ex-vicars, and ex-governors, the ex-tribunes and indeed the whole people visited me every day, paid me great attention, and treated me as the apple of their eye; I suppose these things irritated Pharetrius and that the envy which drove me from Constantinople did not refrain from pursuing me even here. This at least is what I suppose, for I do not positively declare it but only suspect it to be the fact.

And what is one to say about the other events which happened on the way, the fears and the perils? as I recall them day by day, and continually bear them in mind, I am elated with pleasure, I leap for joy as one who has a great treasure laid up in store for him; for such is my position and feeling about them. Wherefore also I beseech your Honour to rejoice at these things, to be glad, and leap for joy, and to glorify God who has counted me worthy to suffer such things. And I beseech you to keep these matters to yourself, and not to divulge them to any one, although for the most part the proconsular soldiers can fill all the city (with the story) as they themselves have undergone extreme danger.

4. Nevertheless do not let any one know this from your prudence, but rather put down those who talk about it. But if you are distressed lest the consequences of my ill-treatment should remain, know for certain that I have shaken myself entirely free from them, and that I am in better bodily health than when I was sojourning in Cæsarea. And why do you dread the cold? for a suitable dwelling has been prepared for me, and my lord Dioscorus does and arranges everything so as to prevent my having the least sensation of cold. And if I may form a conjecture from the outset of my experience, the climate now seems to me oriental in character, no less than that of Antioch. So great is the warmth, so pleasant is the temperature. But you have grieved me much by saying, "perhaps you are annoyed with me as having neglected you," yet I despatched a letter many days ago to your honour begging you not to move me from this place. Now I have had occasion to consider that you need a strong defence and much toil and labour to be able to make a satisfactory apology for this expression. But perhaps you have made a partial apology, by saying "I am generally occupied in thinking how to increase my affliction." But I in my turn reckon it as the greatest accusation that you should say "I take a pride in increasing my sorrow by thinking over it:" for when you ought to make every possible effort to dispel your affliction you do the devil's will, by increasing your despondency and sorrow. Are you not aware how great an evil despondency is?

As to the Isaurians, dismiss your fears in future concerning them: for they have returned into their own country: and the governor has done everything necessary in this respect; and I am in far greater security here than when I was in Cæsarea. For in future I have no one to fear so much as the bishops, with a few exceptions. On account of the Isaurians then fear nothing: for they have retreated, and when winter has set in they are confined to their own homes, although they may possibly come out after Whitsuntide. And what do you mean by saying that you have not the benefit of letters from me? I have already sent you three long letters, one by the proconsular soldiers, one by Antonius, and the third by Anatolius my servant; two of them were a salutary medicine capable of reviving any one who was desponding or stumbling, and conducting him into a healthy state of serenity. When you have received these letters then go over them constantly and thoroughly, and you will perceive their force and enjoy experience of their healing power, and benefit, and will inform me that you have derived much advantage therefrom. I have also a third letter ready, similar to these, which I do not choose to send at the present time having been exceedingly vexed at your saying "I accumulate sorrowful thoughts, even inventing things which do not exist," an utterance unworthy of yourself, which makes me hide my head for shame. But read those letters which I have sent, and you will no longer say these things, even if you are infinitely bent on being despondent. [955] I at least have not ceased, and will not cease saying that sin is the only thing which is really distressing; and that all other things are but dust and smoke. For what is there grievous in inhabiting a prison and wearing a chain? or in being ill-treated when it is the occasion of so much gain? or why should exile be grievous or confiscation of goods? These are mere words, destitute of any terrible reality, words void of sorrow. For if you speak of death you only mention that which is the debt of nature: a thing which must in any case be undergone even if no one hastens it: and if you speak of exile you mention that which only involves a change of country and the sight of many cities: or if you speak of confiscation of goods you mention what is only freedom and emancipation from care.

5. Do not cease to pay attention to Maruthas the Bishop, as far as it concerns you, so as to lift him up out of the pit. [956] For I have special need of him on account of the affairs in Persia. And ascertain from him, if you can, what has been accomplished there through his agency, and for what purpose he has come home, and let me know whether you have delivered the two epistles which I sent to him: and if he is willing to write to me, I will write again to him: but if he should not be willing let him at least signify to your prudence whether any thing more has taken place there, and whether he is likely to accomplish anything by going thither again. For on this account I was anxious to have an interview with him. Nevertheless let all things which depend on you be done, and take care to fulfill your own part, even if all men are rushing headlong to ruin. For your reward will thus be perfected. By all means therefore make friends with him as far as it is possible. I beseech you not to neglect what I am about to say, but to pay diligent heed to it. The Marsian and Gothic monks where the Bishop Serapion has constantly been concealed have informed me that Moduarius the deacon has come bringing word that Unilas, that excellent bishop whom I lately ordained and sent into Gothia, has been laid to rest, after achieving many great exploits: and the deacon was the bearer of a letter from the king of the Goths begging that a bishop might be sent to them. Since then I see no other means of meeting the threatened catastrophe with a view to its correction save delay and postponement (as it is impossible for them to sail into the Bosporus or into those parts at the present time), take measures to put them off for a time on account of the winter season: and do not by any means neglect this: for it is a matter of the greatest importance. For there are two things which would specially distress me if they were to happen, which God forbid: one is that a bishop should be appointed by these men who have wrought such great wickedness, [957] and who have no right to appoint, and the other is that any one should be made without consideration. For you know yourself that they are not anxious to create some worthy man bishop, and if this should take place, which heaven forbid, you are aware what will follow. Use all diligence therefore to prevent either of these things happening: but if it were possible for Moduarius quietly and secretly to hasten out to me it would be of the greatest advantage. But if this is not possible let what is practicable under the circumstances be done. For that which takes place in the case of money, and actually occurred in the case of the widow in the gospel, also holds good in the case of practical affairs. For as that poor woman when she had cast two mites into the treasury surpassed all those who had cast in more, because she used up her whole substance: even so they who devote themselves to the work in hand with all their might discharge it completely, so far as they are concerned, even if nothing results from it, and they have their reward perfected.

I am very grateful to Hilarius the bishop: for he wrote to me asking to be allowed to depart to his own country, and to set things in order there, and then to come back again. As his presence therefore is of great service (for he is a devout, inflexible, and zealous man) I have urged him to depart and to return speedily. Take care then that the letter is quickly and safely delivered to him and not cast on one side: for he eagerly and earnestly begged for letters from me, and his presence is a great benefit. By all means therefore have a care of the letters; and if Helladius the presbyter be not on the spot see that they are delivered to my friends by the hands of some discreet man who has a head on his shoulders.


[950] The single course in the Grecian games was the stadium, so called because it was a stade in length. In the double course the runner had to turn the post at the extremity of the stadium and run back again. [951] Pharetrius was Bishop of Cæsarea, and, as the sequel shows, a malicious enemy of Chrysostom. [952] Probably Leontius, Archbishop of Ancyra in Galatia, a bitter adversary of Chrysostom. [953] A predatory race of barbarians who inhabited the fastnesses of Mount Taurus. [954] There are many instances in the early history of the Eastern Church of similar fanatical fury on the part of monks. [955] A short passage is omitted here in the translation. It refers to the transaction of some business between Olympias and an unknown bishop, Heracleides. The exact meaning is obscure, in the absence of any clue from historical knowledge of the incident. [956] He means, "to detach him from the influence of the hostile party." Maruthas was Bishop of Martyropolis in Persia. He had taken part in one of the synods at Constantinople which condemned Chrysostom; had returned to Persia, and after doing good work there had revisited Constantinople, and Chrysostom seems to have hopes of reclaiming him to his side. [957] i.e., the party at Constantinople hostile to Chrysostom, and the Archbishop Atticus whom they had placed in the See after the death of Arsacius the first intruder. .

To Olympias.

Nothing strange or unnatural has befallen your Piety, but only what is quite natural and consonant to reason, that by a constant succession of trials the sinews of your soul should become more braced, and your zeal and energy for the struggle increased, and that you should therefrom derive much joy. For such is the nature of affliction;--when it lays hold of a brave and noble soul, this is what it is wont to effect. And as the fire makes the piece of gold, when it is applied to it, of better proof: so also affliction when it visits golden characters renders them purer and more proven. Wherefore also Paul said "affliction worketh patience, and patience probation." [958] For these reasons I also rejoice and leap for joy, and derive the greatest consolation of this my solitude from a consideration of thy fortitude. On this account, even though innumerable wolves encompass thee, and many crowds of wicked doers, I fear nothing; but I pray both that existing temptations may be suppressed, and that others may not occur, thus fulfilling the Lord's precept who bids us pray that we may not enter into temptation; but if it should be permitted to happen again I have good confidence concerning thy golden soul, which acquires therefrom the greatest riches for itself. For by what means will they be able to terrify you, who dare everything to their own destruction? Will it be by loss of goods? But I know well that these are counted by thee as dust and cheaper than dirt. Or shall it be by expulsion from country and home. But you know how to dwell in great and populous cities as if they were uninhabited, spending the whole of your time in quietness and rest, and treading worldly ambitions under foot. Or do they threaten death? This also you have constantly practiced by anticipation, and if they should drag you to slaughter, they will be dragging a body which is already dead. What need to speak more at length? No one will be able to do anything to thee of this kind which he will not find you have already abundantly made yourself undergo. For by always walking in the narrow and strait path, you have trained yourself in all these things. Wherefore having practised this most beautiful art in the course of your training, you now shine forth the more gloriously in the contest itself, not only being in no wise disturbed by the things which are happening, but rather elated, and leaping and dancing for joy. For the contests which you have anticipated in your training you now undertake with much ease, although it be in a woman's body, feebler than a cobweb, treading under foot with derisive scorn the fury of lusty men gnashing their teeth upon you; being ready to suffer even worse things than they prepare for you. Happy and thrice happy are you by reason of the crowns of victory to be won, but even more by reason of the contest itself. For such is the nature of these struggles, even before the prizes are given even in the midst of strife they have their recompense and reward;--the pleasure which you are now enjoying, the cheerfulness, the courage, the endurance, the patience, the power which is proof against capture and conquest and rises superior to all things; the perfect training which renders you insensible to any terror at the hands of any one, the power of standing on a rock in the midst of mighty billows of tribulation, and sailing in a calm with a favourable breeze when the sea is raging around you. These are the prizes of affliction even in this world before the kingdom of heaven is won. For I know very well that, even at this present time, being elated with joy, thou dost not consider thyself clothed with a body, but if an opportunity should summon thee to do it, thou wouldst divest thyself of it more readily than others do of the raiment which they wear. Rejoice therefore and be glad both for thyself, and for those who have died a blessed death, not in a bed, nor in a house, but in prison, and chains, and torment; and bewail those only who do these things, and grieve for them. But since you also wish to be informed concerning my bodily health, let me tell you that I have been relieved for the present from the infirmity which was lately oppressing me, and am now in a more comfortable condition: the only fear is lest the winter on its return should again make havoc of my feeble digestion; and as far as the Isaurians are concerned we now enjoy great security.


[958] Rom. v. 3, 4. .

The following letter is added as a specimen, out of a very large number, of the natural, almost playful style, and tone of warm affection, in which Chrysostom wrote to his intimate friends. All his extant letters were written during his exile, and therefore there is much repetition in their contents, and great general similarity of character.

To Castus, Valerius, Diophantus, Cyriacus, Presbyters of Antioch.

I am not surprised that you call my long letter a short one. For this is just the way with lovers; they do not recognize such a thing as satiety, they will not admit such a thing as satisfaction, but the more they receive from the objects of their love the more they seek. Therefore, even if the letter which you have received had been ten times as large as the former one, it would not have escaped the epithet of "brief;" in fact it would have been called a small letter, and not only would it have been so called, but it would have actually seemed such in your eyes. Hence I also in my turn am never satisfied with the measure of affection for me which you have attained, but am always seeking to make additions to your love-draught, and daily demanding the discharge of your love debt which is always being paid, and yet is always owing (for it is written, "owe no man anything but to love one another" [959] ). I am indeed continually receiving what I ask in great abundance, yet never think that I have received the whole. Do not cease then to pay down this goodly debt, which has a twofold pleasure. For those who pay, and those who receive, derive equal enjoyment, inasmuch as they are both alike enriched by the payment; which in the case of money is an impossibility, for there the one who pays becomes poorer, and only the man who has received is richer. But this is not what commonly happens in the covenant of love. For he who pays it is not less bereft of it, as in the case of money when it is transferred to the receiver; but payment of love makes him who pays richer than before. Knowing these things then, O Sirs, most honoured and devout, cease not continually displaying this excellent disposition towards me. For although you need no exhortation for this purpose from me yet as I greatly long for your love I remind you, even when you need it not, both in order that you may constantly write to me, and also inform me of the state of your health. For even if you do not need any one to remind you on this account, I shall not desist from continually seeking this at your hands; as it is a matter which I have very much at heart. That it is a difficult task owing both to the season of the year, and the difficulty of the journey, and the scarcity of travellers who will do this service for you I am well aware: nevertheless as far as is possible and practicable in the midst of so much difficulty, we exhort you to write constantly, and crave this favour from your love.


[959] Rom. xiii. 8. .

Correspondence of St. Chrysostom with the Bishop of Rome

Translated with introduction and notes by Rev. W. R. W. Stephens, M.A., Prebendary of Chichester Cathedral, and Rector of Woolbeding, Sussex.

Introduction to the Correspondence of St. Chrysostom, and the Church at Constantinople, with Innocent, the Bishop of Rome

Of these four letters the last three were written during the final exile of St. Chrysostom from Constantinople. The first was written a few weeks before his departure. The complication of events which led to that exile cannot be unfolded here. The student will find a full account of them in most historians of this period of the Church, both ancient and modern, and in the Life of St. Chrysostom by the editor of this volume chapters XVI-XIX. It must suffice to say here that Theophilus Patriarch of Alexandria having been summoned by an imperial mandate to Constantinople to be tried on the charge of having cruelly ill-treated certain Egyptian monks, formed a cabal amongst the enemies of St. Chrysostom, and artfully contrived to change his own position from that of the accused into that of the accuser. His devices were in the end only too successful, and in the summer of the year 404 St. Chrysostom was driven from his see, never to return.

The first letter of St. Chrysostom seems to have been written soon after Easter 404 and refers to the events immediately preceding his expulsion.

The second was written, as we learn from the letter itself, after he had entered the third year of his exile, probably near the close of the year 406.

Copies of the first letter were addressed also to Venerius Bishop of Milan, and Chromatius Bishop of Aquileia. It is interesting therefore as indicating the relation between the Eastern and Western branches of the Church at the beginning of the fifth century. On the one hand it illustrates the growing tendency of Christendom to appeal to the authority of the Western Church, especially of the Bishop of Rome, on questions of ecclesiastical discipline. The law-making, law-protecting spirit of the West is invoked to restrain the turbulence and licentiousness of the East. No jealousy is entertained of the Patriarch of the old Rome by the Patriarch of the new. But on the other hand it is to be noted that the Bishop of Rome is in no sense addressed as a supreme arbitrator: aid and sympathy are solicited from him as from an elder brother, and two other prelates of Italy are joint recipients with him of the appeal.

To Chrysostom Innocent writes, as friend to friend and bishop to brother bishop, a letter of Christian consolation and encouragement, not entering into the legal questions of the case, and not pledging himself to decisive action of any kind. In his letter to the Church of Constantinople he denounces the illegality of the late proceedings of Theophilus and his accomplices, in the strongest terms; but insists upon the necessity of convoking an oecumenical council as the only means of allaying the tempest. And it must be allowed that he did his best to accomplish this object. He wrote a letter to Honorius, the Emperor of the Western Empire, who resided at Ravenna, describing the pitiable condition of the Church at Constantinople. The Emperor issued an order for the convention of an Italian synod, and the synod, swayed no doubt by Innocent, requested Honorius to write to his brother Arcadius the Eastern Emperor urging the convention of a general council to be held in Thessalonica which would be a convenient meeting-point for the prelates of East and West. Honorius complied, and the letter was despatched under the care of a deputation from the Italian Church, consisting of five bishops, two priests and a deacon. They were the bearers also of letters from Innocent, and the Bishops of Milan and Aquileia, and of a memorial from the Italian synod, recommending that Chrysostom should be reinstated in his see before he was required to take his trial before the Council. The party hostile to Chrysostom however had now such complete sway over the court at Constantinople that the deputation never succeeded in getting an audience with the Emperor, and after suffering many insults and indignities, returned to Italy without having accomplished anything.

The letters of Innocent were probably written in Latin, and afterwards translated into Greek. The Greek version is in several passages clumsy and obscure.

Correspondence of St. Chrysostom with the Bishop of Rome.

Letter from St. John Chrysostom to Innocent, Bishop of Rome.

To my lord, the most reverend and divinely beloved bishop Innocent, John sends greeting in the Lord.

1. I suppose that even before receiving our letter your Piety has heard of the iniquity which has been perpetrated here. For the magnitude of our distress has left scarcely a single portion of the world uninformed of this grievous tragedy: for report carrying the tidings of what has happened to the very extremities of the earth, has everywhere caused great mourning and lamentation. But inasmuch as we ought not to mourn, but to restore order, and to see by what means this most grievous storm of the Church may be stayed, we have deemed it necessary to persuade my lords, the most honoured and pious bishops Demetrius, Pansophius, Pappus and Eugenius to leave their own churches, and venture on this great sea voyage, and set out on a long journey from home, and hasten to your Charity, and, after informing you clearly of everything, to take measures for redressing the evils as speedily as possible. And with them we have sent the most honoured and beloved of our Deacons, Paulus and Cyriacus, but we also ourselves, in the form of a letter, will briefly instruct your Charity concerning the things which have come to pass. For Theophilus, who has been entrusted with the presidency of the Church in Alexandria, having been commanded to repair alone to Constantinople, certain men having brought an accusation against him to the most devout Emperor, arrived bringing with him no small multitude of Egyptian Bishops, as if wishing to show from the outset, that he came for war and antagonism; moreover when he set foot in the great and divinely beloved Constantinople he did not enter the Church according to the custom and the law which has prevailed from ancient time, he held no intercourse with us, and admitted us to no share in his conversation, his prayers, or his society: but as soon as he disembarked, having hurried past the vestibule of the Church, he departed and lodged somewhere outside the city, and although we earnestly entreated him, and those who had come with him, to be our guests (for everything had been made ready, and lodgings provided, and whatever was suitable) neither they, nor he consented. We seeing this, were in great perplexity, not being able to discover the cause of this unjust hostility; nevertheless we discharged our part, doing what became us, and continually beseeching him to meet us and to say for what cause he hazarded so great a contest at the outset, and threw the city into such confusion. But as he did not choose to state the reason, and those who accused him were urgent, our most devout Emperor summoned us and commanded us to go outside the walls to the place where Theophilus was sojourning, and hear the argument against him. For they accused him of assault, and slaughter and countless other crimes; but knowing as we did the laws of the fathers, and paying respect and deference to the man, and having also his own letters which prove that lawsuits ought not to be taken beyond the border, but that affairs of the several provinces should be treated within the limits of the province, we would not accept the office of judge, but deprecated it with great earnestness. But he, as if striving to aggravate the former insults, having summoned my archdeacon, by a stretch of arbitrary power, as if the Church were already widowed, and had no bishop, by means of this man seduced all the clergy to his own side; and the Churches became destitute, as the clergy in each were gradually withdrawn, and instructed to hand in petitions against us, and trained to prepare accusations. And having done this he sent and summoned us to trial, although he had not yet cleared himself of the charges brought against him, a proceeding directly contrary to the canons and to all the laws.

2. But we being aware that we were not cited to a trial (for otherwise we would have presented ourselves any number of times) but to the presence of an enemy and an adversary, as was clearly proved by all which occurred both before and after, despatched certain bishops to him, Demetrius of Pesinus, Eulysius of Apamea, Lupicinus of Appiaria, [960] and the presbyters Germanus and Severus, who replied with the moderation which became us, and said, that we did not decline to be judged, but to appear before an open enemy, and manifest adversary. For how could one who had not yet received any bills of indictment against me, and had acted from the outset in the manner described, and severed himself from the Church, from communion, and from prayer, and was training accusers, and seducing the clergy, and desolating the Church, how, I say, could he with justice mount the throne of the judge which was not in any sense befitting him? For it is not suitable that one who belongs to Egypt should act as judge of those who are in Thrace, and this a man who is himself under an accusation, and an enemy and adversary. Nevertheless he, in no way abashed, but hurrying on to the completion of his design, although we had declared our readiness to clear ourselves of the charges in the presence of a hundred yea or a thousand bishops, and to prove ourselves innocent as indeed we are, would not consent: but in our absence, when we were appealing to a synod, and demanding a trial, and not shrinking from a hearing of our cause, but only from open enmity, he both received our accusers and absolved those who had been excommunicated by me, and from them, who had not yet cleared themselves of the offences laid to their charge, he received complaints [961] against me, and had minutes made of the proceedings, all which things are contrary to law, and the order of the canons. But what need is there of a long story? He did not cease doing and contriving everything until, with all possible display of arbitrary power and authority, he ejected us from the city and the church, when the evening was far advanced and all the people were streaming after us. Being drawn by the public informer [962] through the midst of the city, and dragged along by force I was taken down to the sea, and thrust on board ship, and made a night voyage, because I appealed to a synod for a just hearing of my cause. Who could hear these things without tears, even if he had a heart of stone?

But seeing, as I said before, that we ought not merely to lament the evils which have been done, but also to amend them, I beseech your Charity to rouse yourself and have compassion, and do everything so as to put a stop to the mischief at this point. For even after what I have mentioned he did not desist from his deeds of iniquity, but sought to renew the former attack. For when the most devout Emperor had turned out those who shamelessly rushed into the Church, and many of the Bishops present seeing their iniquity had retreated into their own dioceses, flying from the incursion of these men as from a fire devouring all things, we were again invited to the city, and to the Church, from which we had been unjustly expelled, more than thirty bishops introducing us, and our most pious Emperor sending a notary for this purpose, while Theophilus immediately took to flight. For what purpose, and from what cause? When we entered the city we besought our most pious Emperor to convene a synod for prosecuting the offenders in the late transactions. Being conscious therefore of what he had done, and dreading conviction, the imperial letters having been sent in every direction, convoking all men from all quarters, Theophilus secretly at midnight flung himself into a boat, and so made his escape, taking all his company with him.

3. But even then we did not desist, supported as we were by a clear conscience, from making the same supplication again to the most devout Emperor: and he, acting as became his piety, sent to Theophilus again, summoning him from Egypt, and his associates, in order to give an account of the late proceedings, and informing him that he was not to suppose that the one-sided deeds which he had so unjustly perpetrated in our absence, and in violation of so many canons, would suffice for his defence. He did not however submit to the royal mandate, but remained at home, alleging an insurrection of the people in excuse, and the unseasonable zeal of certain persons who were attached to him, as he pretended: and yet before the arrival of the imperial letters this same people had deluged him with abuse. But we do not make much of these matters now, but have said what we have said as wishing to prove the fact that he was arrested in his mischievous course. Yet even after these things we did not rest, but were urgent in our demand that a tribunal should be formed for the purpose of enquiry and defence: for we said that we were ready to prove that we ourselves were guiltless, but that they had flagrantly transgressed. For there were some Syrians amongst those present with him at that time, who were left behind here; and we accosted them expressing our readiness to plead our cause, and frequently importuned them on this behalf, demanding that the minutes (of the late transactions) should be given up to us, or that the formal bills of indictment, or the nature of the charges, or the accusers themselves, should be made known; and yet we did not obtain any of these things, but were again expelled from the Church. How am I to relate the events which followed, transcending as they do every kind of tragedy? What language will set forth these events? what kind of ear will receive them without shuddering? For when we were urging these things, as I said before, a dense troop of soldiers, on the great Sabbath itself, [963] as the day was hastening towards eventide, having broken into the Churches violently drove out all the clergy who were with us, and surrounded the sanctuary with arms. And women from the oratories [964] who had stripped themselves for baptism just at that time, fled unclothed, from terror at this grievous assault, not being permitted to put on the modest apparel which befits women; indeed many received wounds before they were expelled, and the baptismal pools were filled with blood, and the sacred water reddened by it. Nor did the distress cease even at this point; but the soldiers, some of whom as we understand were unbaptized, having entered the place where the sacred vessels were stored, saw all the things which were inside it, and the most holy blood of Christ, as might happen in the midst of such confusion, was spilt upon the garments of the soldiers aforesaid: and every kind of outrage was committed as in a barbarian siege. And the common people were driven to the wilderness, and all the people tarried outside the city, and the Churches became empty in the midst of this great Festival, and more than forty bishops who associated with us were vainly and causelessly expelled together with the people and clergy. And there were shrieks and lamentations, and torrents of tears were shed everywhere, in the market places, in the houses, in the desert places, and every part of the city was filled with these calamities; for owing to the immoderate extent of the outrage not only the sufferers, but also they who did not undergo anything of the kind sympathized with us, not only those who held the same opinions as ours, but also heretics, and Jews, and Greeks, and all places were in a state of tumult and confusion, and lamentation, as if the city had been captured by force. And these things were perpetrated contrary to the intention of our most pious Emperor, under cover of night, the Bishops contriving them, and in many places conducting the attack, nor were they ashamed to have sergeants [965] instead of deacons marching in front of them. And when day dawned all the city was migrating outside the walls under trees and groves, celebrating the festival, like scattered sheep.

4. All which happened afterwards I leave you to imagine; for as I said before it is not possible to describe each separate incident. The worst of it is that these evils, great and serious as they are, have not even now been suppressed nor is there any hope of their suppression; on the contrary the mischief is extending itself every day, and we have become a laughing stock to the multitude, or rather I should say, no one laughs even if he is infinitely lawless, but all men mourn, as I was saying, this new kind of lawlessness, the finishing stroke of all our ills.

What is one to say to the disorders in the other Churches? For the evil did not stop even here, but made its way to the east. For as when some evil humor is discharged from the head, all the other parts are corrupted, so now also these evils, having originated in this great city as from a fountain, confusion has spread in every direction, and clergy have everywhere made insurrection against bishops, there has been schism between bishop and bishop, people and people, and will be yet more; every place is suffering from the throes of calamity, and the subversion of the whole civilized world. Having been informed then of all these things, my lords, most honourable and devout, exhibit the courage and zeal which becomes you, so as to put a stop to this great assault of lawlessness which has been made upon the Churches. For if this custom were to prevail, and it became lawful for any persons who desired it to enter strange dioceses, so widely separated, and expel those whom one wished to remove, and do whatever they pleased according to their own arbitrary power, be assured that all things will go to ruin, and an implacable kind of war will overrun the whole world, all men attacking others, and being in turn attacked. Therefore to prevent such confusion overtaking the whole earth yield to our entreaties that ye will signify by writing that these lawless transactions executed in our absence, and after hearing one side only, although we did not decline a trial, are invalid, as indeed they are by the very nature of the case, and that those who are convicted of having committed such iniquities must be subjected to the penalty of the ecclesiastical laws; and for ourselves, who have not been detected or convicted, or proved liable to punishment may we continue to have the benefit of your correspondence, and your love, and all other things which we have enjoyed aforetime. But if even now those who have committed such lawless acts are willing to disclose the charges on the strength of which they have unjustly expelled us, neither memoranda, nor formal bills of indictment being given, nor the accusers having appeared: yet if an impartial tribunal is formed, we will submit to be tried, and will make our defence, and prove ourselves guiltless of the things laid to our charge, as indeed we are: for the things which they have done are outside the bounds of every kind of order, and every kind of ecclesiastical law and canon. And why do I say ecclesiastical canon? Not even in the heathen courts would such audacious deeds ever have been committed, or rather not even in a barbarian court, neither Scythians, nor Sarmatians would ever have judged a cause in this fashion, deciding it after hearing one side only, in the absence of the accused, who only deprecated enmity, not a trial of his case, who was ready to call any number of judges, asserting himself to be innocent and able to clear himself of the charges in the face of the world, and prove himself guiltless in every respect.

Having considered therefore all these things, and having been clearly informed of all particulars by my lords, our most devout brethren the bishops, may you be induced to exert your zeal on our behalf; for in so doing ye will confer a favour not upon ourselves alone but also upon the Church at large, and ye will receive your reward from God who does all things for the peace of the Churches. Fare thee well always, and pray for me, most honoured and holy master.


[960] Pesinus was in Galatia, Apamea in Bithynia, Appiaria I have not identified. [961] Libellos, a technical word signifying a formal petition of complaint or accusation. [962] Curiosus, an official whose duty it was to investigate charges, and inform the Emperor of offenders. [963] i. e., Easter Eve. [964] oikoi eukterioi. Churches were sometimes so called, more often, however, private chapels as distinguished from parish churches. The meaning here is not very obvious; perhaps some chambers attached to the Church, where catechumens prayed before baptism, are referred to. [965] Campiductores--their special business was to drill recruits.

To Innocent, Bishop of Rome, greeting in the Lord.

Our body it is true is settled in one place, but the pinion of love wings its way round every part of the world. Even so we also although we be separated by a journey of such great extent are nigh to your Piety, and in daily communion with you, beholding with the eyes of love the courage of your soul, the sterling nature of your disposition, your firmness and inflexibility, the great consolation, constant and abiding, which you bestow upon us. For in proportion as the billows mount higher, and concealed reefs increase, and the hurricanes are many does your vigilance wax stronger: and neither the great length of the journey between us, nor the large amount of time consumed, nor the difficulty in dealing with events has disposed you to become supine: but ye continue to imitate the best class of pilots who are on the alert at those times most especially when they see the waves crested, the sea swelling, the water dashing vehemently, and the deepest darkness in day-time. Therefore also we feel great gratitude towards you, and we long to send you showers of letters, thus affording ourselves the greatest gratification. But since we are deprived of this, owing to the desolation of the place; (for not only of those who arrive from your regions, but even of those who dwell in our part of the world no one could easily have intercourse with us, both on account of the distance, the spot in which we are confined being situated at the very extremity of the country, and also the terror of robbers acting as a bar to the whole journey:) we beseech you rather to pity us because of our long silence, than to condemn us for indolence on that account. For as a proof that our silence has not been due to negligence, we have now at last after a long time secured our most honoured and beloved John the presbyter, and Paul the deacon, and we send a letter through them, and continue to express our gratitude to you, that you have surpassed even affectionate parents in your good will and zeal concerning us. And indeed so far as your Piety is concerned all things would have been duly amended, and the accumulation of evils and offences have been swept away, and the Churches would have enjoyed peace and a glassy calm, and all things would have floated along with a smooth stream, and the despised laws and violated decrees of the fathers would have been vindicated. But since in reality none of these things has taken place, they who perpetrated the former deeds striving to aggravate their former iniquities, I omit any detailed narrative of their subsequent proceedings: for the narrative would exceed the limits not merely of a letter but even of a history; only this I beseech your vigilant soul, even if they who have filled everything with confusion be impenitently and incurably corrupt, let not those who have undertaken to cure them become faint-hearted or despondent, when they consider the magnitude of the thing to be accomplished. For the contest now before you has to be fought on behalf of nearly the whole world, on behalf of Churches humbled to the ground, of people dispersed, of clergy assaulted, of bishops sent into exile, of ancestral laws violated. Wherefore we beseech your Diligence, once, twice, yea many times, in proportion as the storm increases, to manifest still greater zeal. For we expect that something more will be done for the purpose of amending these wrongs. But even if this should not take place, ye at least have your crown made ready for you by the merciful God, and the resistance offered by your love will be no small consolation to those who are wronged: for now that we are passing the third year of our sojourn in exile exposed to famine, pestilence, wars, continual sieges, indescribable solitude, daily death, and Isaurian swords, we are not a little encouraged and comforted by the constant and abiding nature of your disposition and confidence, and by revelling in your abundant and genuine love. This is our wall of defence, this is our security, this our calm haven, this our treasure of infinite blessings, this our gladness, and ground of much joy. And even if we should be carried off again to some spot more desolate than this, we shall carry this love away with us as no small consolation of our sufferings.

To the Beloved Brother John, Innocent.

Although the innocent man ought to expect all good things, and to crave mercy from God, nevertheless we also, counselling resignation, have sent an appropriate letter by the hands of Cyriacus the deacon; so that insolence may not have more power in oppressing, than a good conscience has in retaining hope. For thou who art the teacher and pastor of so many people needest not to be taught that the best men are ever frequently put to the test whether they will persevere in the perfection of patience, and not succumb to any toil of distress: and certainly conscience is a strong defence against all things which unjustly befall us: and unless any one conquer these by patient endurance he supplies an argument for evil surmising. For he ought to endure all things who trusts first of all in God, and then in his own conscience; seeing that the noble and good man can be specially trained to endurance, inasmuch as the holy Scriptures guard his mind; and the sacred lessons which we deliver to the people abound in examples, testifying as they do that nearly all the saints have been continually oppressed in divers ways, and are tested as by a kind of scrutiny, and so attain to the crown of patience. Let conscience itself console thy love, most honoured brother, which in affliction supplies the consolation of virtue. For under the eye of the Master Christ, the conscience, having been purged, will find rest in the haven of peace.

Innocent, Bishop, to Presbyters and Deacons, and to all the Clergy and people of the Church of Constantinople, the brethren beloved who are subject to the Bishop John, greeting.

From the letters of your love which ye have sent by the hands of Germanus the presbyter, and Casianus the deacon, I have studied with anxious care the scene of calamity which ye have placed before my eyes, and by repeated perusal of your description I thoroughly perceived under what great distress and toil your faith is labouring: and this is a matter which can be cured only by the consolation of patience: for our God will speedily grant an end to such great afflictions, and He will aid you in your endurance of these things. Moreover whilst praising the statement of your case which contains many testimonies encouraging to patience I notice this necessary consolation placed at the beginning of the epistle of your love: for the consolation which we ought to have written to you, ye have anticipated by your letter. For this is the kind of patience which our Master is wont to supply to those who are in distress, in order that the servants of Christ when they are in affliction may console themselves by reflecting that the things which they themselves are suffering have happened to the saints also in former times. And we also from your letter shall be able to derive consolation: for we are not estranged from sympathy with you, inasmuch as we also are chastised in your persons. For who will be able to endure the offences committed by those men who ought to be specially zealous promoters of the tranquillity of the Church and of concord itself. At the present time, by a perversion of custom, guiltless priests are expelled from the presidency of their own Churches. And this is what your chief brother, and fellow minister, John, your bishop has unjustly suffered, not having obtained any hearing: no crime is charged against him, none is heard. And what is the object of this iniquitous device? that no pretext for a trial may occur, or be sought, other men are introduced into the places of living priests, as if those who start from an offence of this description could be judged by any one to have anything good or to have done anything right. [966] For we understand that such deeds have never been perpetrated by our fathers; or rather that they were prevented by the fact that no one had authority given him to ordain another to take the place of one who was still living. For a spurious ordination cannot deprive the priest of his rank: seeing that neither can he be a bishop who is wrongfully substituted for another. And as regards the observance of the canons we lay it down that we ought to follow those, which were defined at Nicæa, to which alone the Catholic Church is bound to pay obedience and recognition. And if others are brought forward by certain men, which are at variance with the canons framed at Nicæa, and are proved to have been composed by heretics, let them be rejected by the Catholic bishops. For the inventions of heretics ought not to be appended to the Catholic canons; for by their adverse and unlawful decrees they are always intending to weaken the design of the canons of Nicæa. Not only therefore do we say that these ought not to be followed, but rather that they should be condemned amongst heretical and schismatic decrees, as was formerly done in the Council of Sardica by the bishops who were before us. [967] For it were more fitting, most honoured brethren, that good deeds should be condemned than that things done in direct opposition to the canons should have any validity. But what are we to do against such things at the present time? A synodical decision of them is necessary, and we have long declared that a synod ought to be convened, as it is the only means of allaying the agitation of such tempests as these: and if we obtain this it is expedient that the healing of these evils should be committed to the will of the great God, and His Christ our Lord. All the disturbances then which have been caused by the envy of the devil for the probation of the faithful will be mitigated; through the firmness of our faith we ought not to despair of anything from the Lord. For we ourselves also are considering much by what means the oecumenical synod may be brought together in order that by the will of God these disturbing movements may be brought to an end. Let us therefore endure for a while, and fortified by the wall of patience let us hope that all things may be restored to us by the assistance of our God. Moreover all things which ye say ye have undergone we have learned by accurate enquiry from our fellow bishops who have already taken refuge in Rome, although for the most part at different times, that is to say, Demetrius, Cyriacus, Eulysius and Palladius, who are here with us.


[966] I have followed the Latin here. The Greek version of the passage seems to me hopelessly confused. [967] The Council of Sardica was convened A.D. 343, (or A.D. 344?) with a view of settling the Arian controversy. The Oriental bishops, however, of whom the majority belonged to the Arian faction, seceded from Sardica, and held a separate council at Philippopolis, where they drew up a creed which was condemned by the Western bishops as heretical. .

St. Chrysostom:

The Homilies on the Statues, to the People of Antioch.

The Oxford translation and notes, revised by Rev. W. R. W. Stephens, M.A., Prebendary of Chichester Cathedral, and Rector of Woolbeding, Sussex.


Preface to teh Benedictine Edition

1. Among the events which occurred in the time of John Chrysostom, [968] there is none more memorable than that sedition of the inhabitants of Antioch, in which the Statues of the Emperor Theodosius and Flacilla his wife were thrown down and dragged about the city, at which Theodosius was so exasperated, as even to think of destroying the city entirely. This afforded ample matter for our Chrysostom to exercise his powers of preaching. For as the people of Antioch were fluctuating between hope and fear (sudden accidents offering of course daily some fresh cause for hope or alarm) Chrysostom, compelled as he was to adapt his style to circumstances as they arose, almost always without preparation, delivered on the spur of the occasion these Homilies, which are certainly well deserving of admiration. At one time his object here is to console a people struggling with present distress; at another, to strengthen minds that were sinking under the extremity of danger; and above all, by repeated admonition, to persuade the people of Antioch, on occasion of the threatened calamities, to correct the vices and to wipe away the crimes that had thus provoked God's wrath; which endeavour on the part of Chrysostom certainly ended in results agreeable to his desire, as he sometimes acknowledges.

2. But the cause of this great sedition was, according to the testimony of Zosimus, excess of taxation, which was daily inventing new imposts; an exaction required either for the celebration of the fifth year upon which Arcadius had entered, from the time he was proclaimed under the title of Augustus, and the tenth year of the Emperor Theodosius, commencing in the year 388, or for the expenses of the war against the tyrant Maximus, [969] or on account of both these events, as well as for other necessities of the state. The people of Antioch, that is to say, the superior class of the citizens, dismayed at the burden of this impost, first approached the prefect, and with tears lamented the excess of the tax that had been announced, and implored the Divine assistance. And next, a multitude of vagabonds and foreigners of the lowest class of the people, [970] in a state of excited feeling, broke out into deeds of violence. At first they turned every thing upside down in the public baths; hence they proceeded to the prefect's palace, and attacked the doors and windows, and were scarcely repelled, when they turned their rage in another direction, and attacked the painted tablets of the Emperors with stones, covered them with filth, and reduced them to a ruinous condition, while they loaded the Augusti themselves with curses and reproaches. At length they threw down the Statues of the Emperor Theodosius and Flacilla his deceased wife, [971] and dragged them through the streets of the city; and had already commenced further outrages, when they were put down by a band of archers, dispatched from the prefect. The sedition being thus extinguished, fear took the place of madness, and the expectation of impending punishment caused the burdensome tax that had been imposed to be entirely forgotten. What followed afterwards will be narrated below in the review of the Homilies. Something must now be said as to the year of the sedition, in which these Homilies were delivered.

3. Dismissing the narrative of Sozomen and Theodoret, according to whose account, this sedition, and the delivery of these discourses, must have been after the war against Maximus, learned men, and Tillemont especially (at length in note 27 appended to his Life of the Emperor Theodosius) have proved from far more certain notes of time, that these events took place before the war against Maximus. In opposition to that former opinion, he produces a most convincing argument from Chrysostom's own words, who in the sixteenth Homily (No. 2.), testifies that this was the second year since he had begun to preach; but he began when he was first ordained presbyter at the end of the year 385, or at the beginning of 386. Wherefore these discourses ought to be attributed either to the year 388, or rather 387. For the former opinion Baronius contends, and after him, Petavius and Henry Valesius, who assign them to the year 388, for this reason, that the tenth year of the reign of Theodosius then commenced, for the celebration of which the tax before mentioned was imposed. But what is adduced from Libanius for the defence of this opinion is full of perplexity, [972] and is capable of being twisted to support either opinion. A still more certain indication than any of these is gathered from the circumstance, that the Emperor Theodosius was certainly at Constantinople during the winter and Lent of the year 387, in which year also the sedition must necessarily have occurred; for at the time of the sedition he was most certainly staying at Constantinople, [973] but on the other hand at the same season in the year immediately following, he was living at Thessalonica. But what is alleged to the contrary from the celebration of the tenth year of Theodosius, which commenced in the year 388, amounts, as I said, to nothing; since it is evident from the Fasti of Idatius and of Marcellinus, that he anticipated by one year the celebration of the tenth year of his reign, in order that he might celebrate his tenth together with his son Arcadius, who entered upon the fifth year of his reign in 387; just in the same manner as Maximianus Herculius did, when he celebrated the twentieth, though it was only the eighteenth, year of his reign, along with Diocletion, whose twentieth year of empire it was. [974]

4. But another and not a less difficulty arises, which has been already treated of in the Preface to the work, "Against the Jews;" viz. that in a certain discourse against the Jews, held in the month of September of the year 386, Chrysostom in reproving many of the Christians at Antioch who fasted and kept Easter [975] with the Jews, or at the same time observed by the Jews, "Behold," saith he, "the first day of unleavened bread in this year falls on Sunday, and it is necessary that we should fast throughout the whole week, and after the Passion is past, and the Cross and the Resurrection arrived, [976] we should continue fasting; and very often the same thing occurs, that after the Passion has passed away, and the Cross and the Resurrection arrived, we are still keeping the fast, the week being not yet finished." From these words it is further evident, that those Christians, who acted as Jews in keeping the fast and celebrating the Passover, must sometimes have fasted when other Christians were celebrating the Paschal feast, and at other times not so; for example, they fasted on the day of the Resurrection when the Jews celebrated the feast of the Passover later than the rest of the Christians did, but they did not fast when the Jews celebrated the same feast earlier than the Christians. But in the discourse of Chrysostom above mentioned, and held about the month of September of the year 386, he is doubtless treating of Lent and Easter of the year 387. But in that year, according to the Paschal tables, the feast fell on the 25th of April, that is to say, as late as it can possibly occur. How then could these judaizing Christians be fasting this year during the Paschal feast, and celebrate that feast too late, when this could not occur later than on the 25th of April, on which day the other nonjudaizing Christians celebrated it this year, at least if the Paschal tables are to be relied upon? This is certainly a very great difficulty; but one which, as Tillemont himself confesses, is not sufficient to overturn the marks of the period by which we assign the Homily, "Against the Jews," to the month of September, in the year 386. For as we have said in the Preface to the Homilies against the Jews, it has not yet been made out to us so certainly, whether the people of Antioch always followed by an invariable rule the Alexandrian reckoning as to the Feast of the Lord's Passover, and if they had always followed it, can we affirm that they never fell into error in their reckoning? Certainly the persons best skilled in the Paschal reckonings, whom I have consulted, have admitted that an error of this sort sometimes does happen in such reckonings, and did happen not many years since; and that it is not always safe to prefer the Paschal indications to any other notes of time.

5. Tillemont, however, who notices this kind of difficulty, and discusses it in his notes to the Life of Chrysostom, where he treats of the Homilies against the Jews, has not mentioned it in the notes to the Life of the Emperor Theodosius, where he arranges these Homilies of Chrysostom to the people of Antioch as if the Feast of Easter had fallen on the 25th of April, as the Paschal tables have it. The first Homily therefore he places a little before the sedition; but the sedition on the 26th of February, ten days before Lent, which at Antioch began on the Monday of our Quinquagesima, falling that year on the 8th of March. The second Homily either on the Thursday, or the Saturday before Lent; viz. on the 6th of March, the eighth day after the sedition. The third on the following Sunday, the 7th of March, or thereabout. The fourth, on the Monday following, March 8. The fifth, on Tuesday, March 9. The sixth, about the next Wednesday, on March 10. The seventh, on Thursday, March 11. The eighth, on Friday, March 12. The ninth on the Monday of the second week in Lent, March 15. The tenth, after the lapse of a few days. The eleventh, (considering it transposed,) on the Monday of the fourth week in Lent, March 29. The twelfth, on the following Tuesday, March 30. The thirteenth, on the following Wednesday, March 31. The fourteenth, a little after that one which is numbered the eighteenth, which was delivered on the fifth Sunday in Lent, April 5. The fifteenth, on the Saturday of the second week in Lent, or March 20. The sixteenth, on the third Saturday in Lent, March 21. The seventeenth, about the end of the fourth week in Lent. The eighteenth, Sunday, April 5, or thereabout. The nineteenth, after the fourteenth, about April 11. The twentieth, on Easter Day, April 25. The twenty-first, about the same time as the twenty-second following it, which was delivered on the Friday after Passion Sunday, April 16. [977] Thus does Tillemont endeavour to restore with the utmost accuracy the deranged order of these Homilies. Whilst however we agree with him in many things, we are compelled to differ from him in others. The order of the Homilies, as he lays it down, we may here further represent in one tabular view.

Tillemont's 1st is placed in Edition of Fronto

Ducæus        First

2d........... Second

3d........... Third

4th........... Fourth

5th........... Fifth

6th........... Sixth

7th........... Seventh

8th........... Eighth

9th........... Ninth

10th........... Tenth

11th........... Fifteenth

12th........... Sixteenth

13th........... Eleventh

14th........... Twelfth

15th........... Thirteenth

16th........... Seventeenth

17th........... Eighteenth

18th........... Fourteenth

19th........... Nineteenth

20th........... Twenty-second

21st........... Twenty-first

22d........... Twentieth
But before we discourse singly of the Homilies, and make a few observations as to the order as well as the argument of each, it may be worth while to remark, that from the title of the Homily which formerly was numbered the twenty-second, but not the twentieth, which title it has in the notes of Fronton, and in our mss.; it must have been spoken ten days before Easter; and that from these words likewise, just before the end of the Homily, "Forty days have already passed away," Tillemont justly infers, that Lent among the people of Antioch began on the Monday after Quinquagesima; and that among them the whole Lent extended through seven weeks; and he rightly assigns this Homily to a Friday during Lent; [978] so that that day was both the fortieth from the beginning of the fast, and the tenth before Easter. Hence we hold it as a thing established, that Lent, which in divers Churches was defined by various limits, was observed at Antioch during seven [979] weeks.

Moreover, since for the causes before related, we may account the diurnal Paschal tables, which place the Easter of the year 387 upon the 25th of April, as of doubtful authority, [980] at least those for the use of the Church at Antioch; we have not discovered with certainty on what day the people of Antioch kept Easter in this year 387, we shall abstain from mentioning the day of the month in the review of the Homilies, and we shall account it sufficient to have indicated, when that may be safely done, on what day of the week the Homilies were spoken.

The first Homily, then, was delivered a few days before the sedition at Antioch, as is discoverable from these words in No. (3) of the second Homily; "I lately protracted a long discourse to your charity and I have received [981] reward for my labours. But what was the reward? To punish the blasphemers in the city, and to chastise those who treat God with contempt, and to restrain the violent." Without doubt these words have reference to the first Homily, one of great length, on the subject of the sorrows of the Saints, and the providence of God towards His Elect, who are tormented in this life, where at last he thus expresses himself in a manner certainly worthy of observation. "But since our discourse has now turned to the subject of blasphemy, I desire to ask one favour of you all in return for this address and speaking with you, which is, that you will correct on my behalf those who blaspheme in this city. And should you hear any one in the public thoroughfare, or in the midst of the forum, blaspheming God; go up to him, rebuke him; and should it be necessary to inflict blows, spare not to do so. Smite him on the face; strike his mouth; sanctify thy hand with the blow." Which truly would be a mode of correction not suited to modern usage.

The second Homily, Tillemont refers either to the Thursday or to the Saturday before Lent; but it may more safely be pronounced to have been spoken "about" that time, seven days having been completed as Chrysostom himself says, since the sedition, during which he declares that he had been silent, because the people of Antioch, being in consternation from the mighty calamity and from the immensity of the danger, were in no fit state for the hearing of Sermons; moreover, that this evil was one sent from God, on account of their having neglected the correction of their blaspheming brethren; and after he has drawn a beautiful picture of their state, he concludes the discourse, after having preached at length on riches, the use of riches, alms-giving, and poverty.

The third Homily follows close on the second. But we suppose with Tillemont, that it was delivered on Quinquagesima Sunday (to speak according to modern custom). Chrysostom treats here of the departure of Flavian the Bishop of Antioch to Constantinople for the purpose of appeasing the Emperor, and consoles the people with the hope of his succeeding. He then proves at length that there is no utility in fasting, unless there be an abstinence from vices. But after making a few remarks on avoiding slander, he deplores the present calamity, and relates some harsh severities. "Some," saith he, "have perished by the sword, some by fire; some given to wild beasts; and not men only but children. And neither this immaturity of age, nor the tumult of the people, nor the circumstance that they were infuriated by demons when they perpetrated such deeds, nor that the exaction was thought to be intolerable, nor poverty, nor having offended in company with all, nor promising that they would never hereafter dare to repeat such deeds, nor any thing else could at all rescue them; but they were led away to the pit without reprieve, armed soldiers conducting and guarding them on either side, lest any one should carry off the criminals; whilst mothers also followed afar off, seeing their children beheaded, but not daring to bewail their calamity; for terror conquered grief, and fear overcame nature."

All these evils were inflicted on the people of Antioch by the Prefects or Magistrates before Theodosius had heard any thing of the sedition, as Chrysostom says in the same place. But he concludes the address by admonishing that they should abstain from slander, from enmities, and from oaths.

The fourth Homily, delivered as it seems on the Monday, which was the beginning of Lent, describes the advantages gained from the calamity. He speaks of the people of Antioch as changed and brought back from their former habits. But at the close he again repeats the same admonition, which he reminds them that he had given in the foregoing Homily, that is to say, concerning slanders, enmities, and oaths. But in No. (6.), he says, that he should speak throughout this week concerning oaths.

The fifth Homily was pronounced on the day following, that is, on the Tuesday, as Chrysostom says at the beginning of it. In this Chrysostom consoles the people of Antioch as usual, under their sadness, and exhorts them to a contempt for death. In the end also he treats No. (7.) of the avoidance of oaths, and indicates somewhat of the order of the foregoing and following Homilies in these words. "Let us therefore persuade it (our soul) to make this first change for the better by the avoidance of oaths; for although I spake to you yesterday and the day before [982] on this same subject, yet neither to-day, nor to-morrow, nor the day after, will I desist from giving my counsel on this subject."

In the sixth Homily, delivered on the Wednesday of the first week, he imparts consolation to the afflicted, and urges them to hope for a prosperous turn of affairs. He speaks of the delays the messengers had met with, who were gone to announce to the Emperor the sedition at Antioch, as proceeding from God; and from thence deduces a favourable hope for his hearers, and bids them feel confidence of obtaining pardon by the petition of Flavian the Bishop; and after he had discoursed on the subject of not being afraid of death, he again speaks as usual against oaths.

The seventh Homily was delivered, as is evident from many indications, on the day following. "It is the fifth day," says Chrysostom, "we are engaged in speaking words of comfort to your charity." But this fifth day is reckoned by beginning from the Sunday, so that he must be speaking of the fifth day of the week. He here treats of the first words of Genesis, "In the beginning God made heaven and earth;" and he observes, that God is not only good when He chastises, but also when He confers favours; [983] and concludes by exhorting to avoid oaths.

The eighth Homily Tillemont supposes to have been spoken on the day following the seventh Homily, that is, on the Friday. But Chrysostom disclaims it, who testifies at the outset that he discoursed on the passage, "In the beginning God made heaven and earth, lately" (proen) not yesterday (chthss), which without doubt belongs to the seventh Homily. Therefore the present Homily is to be assigned to the Saturday; [984] which these words just immediately after the beginning would also incline us to think. "The week hath nearly arrived at its close with us." The argument of the Homily he draws from these words, "God was walking in Paradise in the cool of the day." On this he observes the wicked are always timid and fearful, but the godly full of confidence. Finally, he treats according to his custom of the avoiding of oaths, and says, that it is now the sixth day since he had been admonishing as to the observance of this law.

The ninth Homily Tillemont with probability allots to the Monday of the second week in Lent. But as to this matter no indication presents itself by which we may lay down any thing certain or probable. This discourse was, however, delivered after a silence of one or more days, as Chrysostom expressly states [985] at the beginning; contrary to which is the opinion of Tillemont, who, whilst he allots the eighth Homily to the Friday of one week, and the ninth to the Monday of the week following, says in the Life of Chrysostom, Art. (15.), that the intervening Sabbaths and Lord's days were doubtless distinguished by discourses of Chrysostom, which discourses have been lost. Chrysostom, at the commencement of this, praises the people of Antioch, that yielding to his admonitions they were taking pains to expel the practice of oaths. On these words also, "The heavens declare the glory of God," he speaks at length, and sets forth God's providence in the order and harmony of the natural world, and at length he concludes the address by admonishing that oaths should be abstained from.

The tenth Homily was not delivered on the day following the ninth, although it follows up the same argument, as is shewn by the word, proen "lately." But Chrysostom here congratulates his auditors that they had yielded to his admonitions. He declares it is far better to hear the word of God than to fast. He then proves that the world could not possibly subsist without a divine Providence, and he ends, at length, by an exhortation to abstain from oaths.

The eleventh Homily, Tillemont supposes to have been delivered after that which here has the inscription of the fifteenth, as well as after the sixteenth which follows it. The argument he employs is this; In this Homily he says, the subject is concerning certain dangers and distresses which the city of Antioch had already passed through, which events seem to have taken place after the arrival of Hellebichus and Cæsarius. But that arrival of Hellebichus and Cæsarius is mentioned in the Title of the seventeenth Homily, [986] long after the eleventh of which we are now treating.

Supported by this argument, Tillemont thinks that not only the fifteenth, but also the sixteenth ought to be placed before the eleventh. But besides that all the Manuscripts, without exception, preserve the very same order as the published Editions, we have not a sufficiently accurate knowledge of all the events, the dangers, terrors, and threats of the time, that for a reason of this sort we should deem there ought to be any change in the order. Chrysostom has spoken of many things, but was perhaps silent on many more. Wherefore, until something more certain be brought to light, we think the ancient order must be adhered to. In this Homily Chrysostom at the beginning gives thanks, because the city breathed again after the terror that had fallen on it, since multitudes had taken flight in consequence of suspicions that had been thrown out among them. For some days Chrysostom was silent (as he himself says) during this season of calamity and terror. But Tillemont assigns this Homily to the Monday of the fourth week in Lent, and indeed with the best reason, as we shall shew when we come to the thirteenth Homily. In the present Homily he treats principally of the wisdom of God in the constitution of man, and at the end concerning the avoiding of oaths.

The twelfth, as well as the thirteenth, for the same reason as above, Tillemont makes later than the fifteenth and sixteenth. But I know not in what way he understands that passage in this twelfth Homily, No. (2.) "On the three foregoing days, then, we have investigated one method of acquiring the knowledge of God, and have brought it to a conclusion, explaining how `the' visible `heavens declare the glory of God,' and what is the meaning of that which is said by Paul; `The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made;' and we have shewed how from the creation of the world, and how by heaven, and earth, and sea, the Creator is glorified. But to-day," etc. Here Chrysostom clearly refers to a series of these Homilies in the order in which they were delivered before the twelfth, that is to say, the ninth, the tenth, and the eleventh. In the ninth (No. 2.) he places as the argument of his discourse the saying of Paul, "The invisible things of Him," etc. as well as that of the Psalms, "The heavens declare the glory of God." In the tenth (No. 2.) likewise he declares that he is pursuing this very argument. In the eleventh (No. 2.) also he testifies that he is insisting on the same argument. Is not Tillemont doing violence to the words of Chrysostom, when he wishes the tenth and the eleventh to be inserted between the fifteenth and sixteenth? This, however, he only proposes, half doubtingly, in note (29) on the Emperor Theodosius, No. 10, 11 seqq. and he confesses, that the order which we have laid down is clearly indicated by Chrysostom; but for what reason I know not, he afterwards departs from the same order. But when Chrysostom says, "on the three past days," it is not to be understood of three successive days, but of the three last days on which he had preached. In this twelfth Homily, likewise, which was delivered on the Tuesday of the fourth week, he dwells on the same subject of the wisdom of God in the creation of the world. He afterwards treats of the natural law, the knowledge of which God hath implanted in man, and on the avoidance of oaths.

The thirteenth Homily was spoken the day after the twelfth. At the commencement he returns thanks to God that the face of affairs was changed, and the fear removed, which had been such that "the greater part of the city," as he says, "had taken refuge from the fear and danger of that occasion in secret places, in deserts, and hollows." Hence he proceeds to speak of many who were dragged to the tribunal; of the horrible inquisition that took place by means of the scourge; of others who were hurried away to punishment; of a mother and sister of a certain person, who, whilst he was undergoing his trial within, were rolling in the dust at the vestibule. Chrysostom describes pathetically these events which had been transacted a few days before, that is to say, before he delivered the eleventh discourse. But the words which Chrysostom uses in the beginning, hoian ten parelthousan eidomen tetrEURda kai hoian ten parousan horomen nun, Bernard Brixianus thus renders, "Quale præteritum vidimus quatriduum et quale nunc videmus præsens:" I know not for what reason we have left this untouched. For although tetras is sometimes taken to signify the fourth day, yet in ecclesiastical language, even from the time of Clemens Alexandrinus, tetras is the fourth day of the week, so that the Translation should be corrected, and should stand, "Qualem feriam quartam præteritam vidimus," etc. In which it is declared, that the Homily was delivered on the fourth day of the week, and that indeed the fourth week in Lent, or perhaps the third, according to another mode of reckoning; since for many ages downwards the Greeks call that the first Sunday and week of the fast [987] which we call the first of Lent. But this is only a question as to a name. The Homily was however delivered on the fourth day of the week, and from the series of the Homilies, as well as from the silence of Chrysostom, there seems plainly to be an interval of some days between the tenth and eleventh Homilies. In this Homily, moreover, after much premised on that calamity of Antioch, he comes down to the former argument concerning man's creation, and concludes his discourse by an exhortation after his manner on avoiding oaths.

The fourteenth Tillemont thinks ought to be placed after the eighteenth; influenced by this reason, that Chrysostom says at the beginning, "Not a little did the devil yesterday disturb our city, but God hath also not a little comforted us again." These words, he observes, denote that the arrival of Hellebichus, and of news from Constantinople, had already occurred. But these are mere conjectures spoken at random. [988] How many suspicions and terrors think you were cast abroad among the people of Antioch, whilst they hung in doubt, and were ignorant to what result so unhappy an affair might lead? But how can we possibly argue respecting these terrors and reports, when we are doubtless ignorant of the greater part of them, and have so obscure a perception of what we do know, that we can scarcely gather from thence any indication of the time? This Homily is almost wholly on the subject of avoiding oaths.

The fifteenth Homily, Tillemont would have it, was delivered between the tenth and eleventh, both for the reasons above mentioned, and because Chrysostom has these words at the commencement, Edei kai temeron kai to prot(TM)ro sabbEURto ton peri nesteias kinesai logon. "It had been right both to-day and on the former Sabbath, to let the discourse turn on the subject of fasting." Where he understands the expression, to prot(TM)ro, as though it were to proto,--the first Saturday in Lent, entertaining however some doubts on the point. But we, as well as Bernard Brixianus, understand it of the earlier or preceding one. [989] And we have already proved in a former paragraph, that no other Homily can be placed between the tenth and the eleventh. On the occasion of the dread with which the people of Antioch [990] were affected, he enlarges on the advantage of fear, and at the end he preaches against the custom of swearing, and of requiring an oath from others.

The sixteenth Homily was delivered when all were deliberating upon making their escape from the city, in consequence of a certain report, that a sack was to take place. Tillemont endeavours also to change the position of this Homily, and to place it between the tenth and eleventh, which, however, as we have said in our remarks upon the twelfth, it cannot admit of. Tillemont further supports his argument by these words: in No. 6, the holy Doctor says, "We have passed through the second week of the fast." He infers, therefore, that two weeks only of the fast had passed away, and Tillemont on that ground determines, that it ought to be moved out of its place. He supposes it was spoken on the third Sunday in Lent, reckoning for the first Sunday that which preceded the first day of the fast, which we call Quinquagesima Sunday. But what if at Antioch at that time, that was called the first Sunday of Lent, which according to modern custom occurs as the first within the fast? [991] For the fast did begin the Monday after Quinquagesima, and now it begins on the Wednesday, and the people of Antioch might not reckon that week for the first week of Lent, just as we do not reckon it as so, and in that way this Homily would have been delivered one week later, that is to say, taking the Sunday after the modern custom. But even then a great difficulty would remain, for this Homily would precede the thirteenth and following ones. Certainly all these points are full of perplexity, as Tillemont himself confesses, who is compelled to leave the question, without entirely coming to any conclusion upon it. Perhaps familiarity, and longer handling, will add to our knowledge on so obscure a subject, which it is possible we may be able to determine, in drawing up the life of Chrysostom at the end of his works, [992] more clearly and accurately. For which reason we have purposely determined to leave the matter doubtful. That one point only we contend for, that this Homily cannot be placed between the tenth and eleventh, for the reasons above mentioned. Certain things being premised as to the timidity of the people of Antioch, and the avoiding of oaths, Chrysostom borrows the argument of the Homily from those words of Paul, "Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother;" and shews that Paul was more glorious from bonds, than from the power of miracles.

The seventeenth was delivered after Ellebichus, or Hellebichus, (styled Magister Militum), and Cæsarius, (styled Magister), the persons sent by the Emperor for the purpose of instituting an inquiry into the sedition, had arrived at Antioch. This Hellebichus, Master of the Horse or [993] Foot, is found mentioned elsewhere, and was distinguished by a reputation for justice and clemency. Cæsarius, also styled elsewhere Master of the Offices, enjoyed a similar reputation for high character. But this Homily was pronounced when the people of Antioch were almost free from fear. "We expected," says Chrysostom (No. 1.), "innumerable horrors, that the property of all was to be plundered; the habitations consumed, together with their inmates; the city snatched away from the midst of the world; and all its relics obliterated, and its soil ploughed up: but, lo! all these things stood only in expectance, and came not actually to pass." Next he relates how the monks descended from the mountains to Antioch, that they might appease the judges, while at the same time all the Greek philosophers deserted the city; and in what way also the priests strenuously exerted themselves on behalf of the people. He declares the penalties imposed by the Emperor to be light and easy, and no matter of grief or complaint, though the orchestra and public bath were closed, and the dignity of a metropolis taken away from the city of Antioch. The true dignity of Antioch was, that the disciples of Christ were first called Christians there; that the people of Antioch had brought assistance to the saints at Jerusalem, when struggling with famine; that not magnitude, but piety, is the ornament of cities. Finally, however, he says that some were yet remaining in prison; and that others were sent into exile. This Homily Tillemont assigns to the fourth week of Lent, after Wednesday, but only from conjecture. [994]

The eighteenth Homily was spoken after half the fast was over, as Chrysostom himself says at the beginning. But Tillemont thinks it may probably be assigned to the fifth Sunday of Lent. He treats moreover of the true reason for fasting; of contempt for riches; of godly sorrow, &c.

The nineteenth Homily was delivered as the title has it, te kuriake tes episozom(TM)nes, or as Fronto Ducæus reads it, tes sozom(TM)nms. Among the Cappadocians, episozom(TM)ne is Ascension Day, as Allatius says in his book on the Sundays and Weeks of the Greeks, adding that the Sunday thus called is the fifth after Easter, [995] i.e. the one which precedes the Ascension of our Lord. But Savile says that it is [996] the first Sunday after Easter; from whence he got his information I know not. Yet there seems no doubt that it was some one of the last Sundays in Lent, or, as Tillemont supposes, Passion-Sunday, to which I rather incline. Chrysostom, who had been detained at home for some time by sickness, after he has prefaced his subject with some remarks on the Festival of the Martyrs, which had been just celebrated at Antioch, and on the arrival of the rustics, speaks according to his custom against oaths, and illustrates their pernicious effects by many examples.

Hitherto, in the number and order of the Homilies, we have followed the editions of Savile and Fronto Ducæus. But henceforth it is otherwise; for that which follows as the twentieth in former editions, is without doubt the twenty-first and last on the Statues. But the twenty-first is a Catechesis, which we have placed second after another Catechesis, which was inscribed as the first, as we remark in the Notice placed at the end of the Homilies on the Statues, and in front of the Catechetical Lectures; since this Catechesis ought to be placed entirely without the series of the Homilies on the Statues. But the Homily, which is in former editions the twenty-second, is without doubt the twentieth, which was delivered ten days before Easter. Therefore we proceed in this order.

The twentieth Homily has these words in the title, according to manuscripts mentioned by Fronto Ducæus, and likewise in some of ours, and particularly that in the Royal Library, numbered 1971. El(TM)chthe ds pro d(TM)ka hemeron tes fgias kai zoopoiou tou Kuriou hemon 'Iesou Christou ek nekron /=nastEURseos. "It was spoken ten days before the holy and life-giving Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead." This therefore is in perfect accordance with that saying of Chrysostom, a little before the end of the Homily, "Forty days have passed away." This sermon then was delivered on the Friday after the Sunday which we call Passion-Sunday. For this day was the fortieth, beginning from the Monday after Quinquagesima, which was the commencement of Lent. But it was likewise the tenth before Easter, reckoning Easter itself with it. The Homily is almost throughout against enmity and the remembrances of injuries, and at the close is, according to Chrysostom's accustomed manner, directed against oaths. The twenty-first Homily, which is the last on the Statues, seems, from what he says just at the beginning, to have been delivered on the very day of the Lord's Resurrection, and after the return of Flavian the Bishop; whose journey to the Emperor, and address to the same on behalf of the city's preservation, as well as the Emperor's reply full of lenity in which he pardons the citizens, are all particularly related by Chrysostom, occupying the whole of this discourse. But even until the return of Flavian, the people of Antioch were terrified by every day's reports, and fluctuated between hope and fear, as Chrysostom observes a little after the beginning.

Table of the events connected with the Homilies on the Statues.


Feb.--.. 1

 26?.....Sedition on the proclamation of a
new impost.

March 6  Saturday  2

 7  Sunday, Quinquagesima  3  Three
precepts for this Lent.

 8M 4  Plan for the week.

 9T 5

10W 6

11T 7


13S. 8 (proen.)

14  Sunday I. in lent

15M 9

16T 10  Arrival of Hellebichus and Cæsarius.
Baths closed. Antioch deprived of its rank.

17W.Trial of prisoners. Intercession of monks.
Senate kept in prison: sentence to be left to the Emperor.

18T...Departure of Cæsarius to Constantinople.

21  Sunday II. in Lent

22M  11

23T 12  Cæsarius arrives at Constantinople.
(Sixth day, Lib.)

24W  13  (Trials referred to as on the
preceding Wednesday.)

25T 14


27S 15  (Ref. to former Saturday.)

28  Sunday III. in Lent.  16  False
alarm. (Second week of Fast past.)

 30?T?  17  News from Cæsarius. City to be
spared. Senate still in prison.

April4  Sunday IV. in Lent.  18  (Half Fast
past, not twenty days from closing of Baths.)

11  Passion Sunday

16F 20

18  Palm Sunday.  --

25  Easter  21  Return of Flavian, and
full pardon, related.

June--.....Feast of the Martyrs. St.
Chrysostom ill.

28  Sunday before Ascension  19  Homily
addressed to country people.


[968] [That is events which occurred at Antioch during St. Chrysostom's sojourn in that city--Ed.] [969] [And the Goths who were threatening the Danubian frontier.--Ed.] [970] [These low foreign adventurers were sometimes hired by actors to get up applause in the theatre, or by men of rank, not overpopular, to raise a cheer when they appeared in public.--Ed.] [971] See Hom. XXI., where St. Chrysostom speaks of him as especially pained at this. [972] i. e., so far as the inference is concerned. His testimony is explicit to the fact that the tax was levied for that purpose, and he was on the spot. [973] See the opening of the oration of Libanius, written as if to be delivered by him there, and Hom. XVII. 6, and Hom. XXI. (2). [974] [See also Life of St. John Chrysostom, chapter xi. by Stephens, where the sedition at Antioch is described, and a summary of the Homilies on the Statues is given.--Ed.] [975] Pascha is either Passover or Easter. St. Thos. Aquinas, in the Hymn Lauda Sion, appropriates it to the Christian Festival, calling the Jewish Phase vetus. [976] i. e., the actual days of them on the Jewish computation. This appears the true answer to the difficulty. The Jews kept the Passover this year earlier than the Christians: viz. on the 14th day of the moon, or April 18. See l'Art de Verifier les Dates on the year. Thus the supposed difficulty becomes a confirmation of the date otherwise determined. Montfaucon understood it, "we must...if we follow the Judaizers." Tillemont is at a loss to explain the title of Homily III. against the Jews. Against those who would fast the first Passover. It may mean either the original, or that which then happened to be the earlier. The word fast is explained by taking it as their expression for keep. He thinks it necessary to tell them that the true Passover is not fasting, but the Holy Communion. Ben. t. i. p. 611, b. And this agrees with what he says is the common case, viz. that the Christian Easter is so much later, as is required to complete the week. [977] The second before Easter. It has lately become common to call the week immediately before Easter "Passion Week," but this name belongs to the week before it. The proper title of the last is the "Great" or "Holy" Week. [978] "Feriam sextam Quadragesima." This looks like a reprint, as he is more definite. [979] As now in the Greek church. The Latins do not count the week in which Ash-Wednesday is, as not being a whole one. [980] It has been shewn, in a former note, that there is no reason for this doubt. [981] "accepi," it should be, as in Text, "exegi," "I demanded." [982] Lat. has only "the day before yesterday." [983] This must be a slip of the pen. [The sentences have clearly got transposed, and we should read "not only good when He confers favours, but also when He chastises."--Ed.] [984] Both arguments may stand, as the common use of proen is undoubted. [985] By using the word proen. But this may be in anticipation of his reference to Hom. VII. But if this Homily were delivered on Monday, the first day of strict fasting, the scruples of the congregation would be accounted for. No difficulty remains but the use of proen, in Hom. X., against which is epiousan. Placing the trials, and Hom. XI.-XVIII. a week later throughout, seems less consistent. [986] See note at the beginning of that Homily and the preceding; it is almost certain from the whole character of Hom. XVII. that it was not delivered immediately after the events referred to. Probably many had returned, who St. Chrysostom wished to inform of the events during their absence. [987] See Sir H. Nicolas, Chron. of History, p. 117. Gloss. of Dates, art. Hebdomadæ Græcæ, observes, that the Greeks named the weeks as beginning on Monday, and taking in Sunday at the end. Still they count Monday the second day, etc. Thus the first Sunday would be the same as with the Latins, but the first week earlier. It seems probable that this was a week earlier than here stated, see Hom. XVIII. [988] And dependent on the erroneous notions, that Hom. XVII. was delivered immediately on the arrival of the commissioners. [989] It may be that, or the first in Lent, considered as the last on which he had preached. [990] Printed, Chonstantinople. [991] He may exclude the turophEURgos, or cheese-week, as not one of the strictest fasting. This appears to have been the case from Homily XVIII., which cannot well be placed anywhere but on the fourth Sunday, and which says that half the fast is over. [992] This is chiefly a reprint of this preface. Here nothing better is suggested than the supposition of a mistake in transcribing. The difficulty arises from the mistaken notion, that it was before the trials, whereas it was probably delivered a little before the return of a messenger from Cæsarius. See Tabular View. [993] In tee Liphe "and Phoot." [994] The Life adds, The rank of metropolis was transferred from Antioch to Laodicea, according to Theordoret, l. 5, c. 10. [995] In the Life, and in Pref. to vol. 4, it is proved from Hom. I. de Annâ (1), that this Homily was actually delivered on that day. This being so, Flavian would be the "Leader" of the Festival. [996] Dominica in albis.

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