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Book I
Chapter 5

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Italy and Her Invaders

Thomas Hodgkin

2nd edition
Oxford University Press
London, 1892

The text, and illustrations except as noted,
are in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Book I
Chapter 7

Book 1 (continued)

Vol. I
Chapter VI

The Victory of Nicaea1


Sources: —

Gregory Nazianzen (whose life is described in the following chapter). The two autobiographical poems of this father are full of interesting revelations of the temper of the times as well as of his own character.

Guide: —

Ullmann's Gregor von Nazianz, a very thorough and careful monograph, written from the point of view of German Protestant orthodoxy. H. M. Gwatkin's Studies of Arianism, a most helpful guide through the civil as well as the ecclesiastical history of this period.

We have now to consider the effect of the sickness and baptism of Theodosius on the religious legislation of the Empire.

Religious legislation. The Sixteenth and last Book of the Theodosian Code is entirely occupied with legislation on religious affairs. The first 'Title' of that Book, 'Concerning the Catholic Faith,' begins with an edict of Valentinian (365) severely threatening any judge or minister of justice who should dare to impose upon men of the Christian religion the duty of guarding a heathen temple. After this check given to the officious zeal of  p335 some of Julian's friends who might still be endeavouring to carry on his hopeless attempt to turn back the tide of human enthusiasm into the old and dried‑up channels of Paganism, the next decrees, those which may be considered the portals of the stately fabric of the Imperial-Church legislation, are two which bear the great name of Theodosius.

Acts of Uniformity. The first, which was dated at Thessalonica on the 27th of February in the first year of his Consulship (380), was probably signed soon after he had been baptized by Bishop Acholius, and when he was still lying in the chamber of sickness, where the Bishop had visited him. It is to the following effect: —

(De Fide Catholicâ.)
Codex Theodosianus, lib. XVI, tit. i.2.
'An Edict of Theodosius, concerning the Catholic Faith, to the people of the city of Constantinople. We wish that all the nations who are subject to the rule of Our Clemency shall adhere to that religion which the divine Apostle Peter handed to the Romans (as is sufficiently shown by its existence among them to this day), and which it is obvious that Pope (Pontifex) Damasus follows, as well as Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolical holiness: namely that according to the apostolical discipline and the evangelical doctrine we believe the One Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, with equal majesty, in the Holy Trinity. We order those who follow this law to assume the name of Catholic Christians: we pronounce all others to be mad and foolish, and we order that they shall bear the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to bestow on their conventicles the title of churches: these are to be visited first by the divine vengeance, and secondarily by the stroke of our own authority, which we have received in accordance with the will of Heaven.'

 p336  The next edict bears date the 30th of July, 381, and carries into practical effect the principles announced seventeen months before: —

'We order that all churches be at once [mox] handed over to those Bishops who confess the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, of one majesty and power, of the same glory and of one brightness, making no discord by profane division but [holding] the order of the Trinity, the assertion of the Persons, and the unity of the Godhead: who shall prove that they are joined in communion with Nectarius the Bishop of the Church of Constantinople and with Timotheus, Bishop of the city of Alexandria in Egypt.'

Then follow the names of nine other orthodox prelates, chiefly in the dioceses of Asia Minor.

'And all those who shall be proved to be in communion with these men shall be entitled to be admitted to and to hold the Catholic Churches on the ground of their communion and fellow­ship with approved priests. But all those who dissent from the communion of the faith of those who have been here expressly mentioned, shall be expelled as manifest heretics from the Churches. Nor shall there hereafter be permitted to them any opportunity of obtaining the Pontifical office in the churches: in order that the ranks of the Priesthood may remain unpolluted in the true faith of Nicaea. Nor after this clear expression of our command shall any place be left for the cunning of malignity.'

The stiff and cumbrous phraseology of the Imperial edicts may hide from the reader the importance of the revolution effected by them. In order to understand their effect on the hearts of contemporary listeners, how by them triumph was turned into despair, and mourning  p337 into rejoicing, we will briefly review the fortunes of a man who at this time was brought into close contact with Theodosius and shared some of his most secret counsels, the famous Gregory Nazianzen.

Early life of Gregory Nazianzen. Born at Nazianzus​2 (a little town of Cappadocia, on the banks of the river Halys), and the son of the Bishop of that place, who held the orthodox Nicene faith, Gregory, at an early age, set his heart on acquiring renown as a Christian orator. Having studied at Caesarea, in Palestine, and at Alexandria, he went, while still a youth, to Athens, and spent ten years at the university in that city. There was cemented his long friendship with his fellow-countryman, Basil: and there he sat on the same benches with the young Nobilissimus, Julian, cousin of the Emperor Constantius, in whom Gregory even then discerned the germs of that alienation from Christianity which was one day to be made manifest to the world in the brilliant but blighted career of the great 'Apostate.'

Returning at the age of thirty to his Cappadocian home, Gregory was entreated by his father to undertake the duties of a priest, in the hope of thus eventually securing him as his coadjutor in the see of Nazianzus. Gregory was more attracted by the life of monastic contemplation which his friend Basil was leading in the neighbouring province of Pontus. He wavered, however, and it was apparently in one of his moments of wavering that his father ordained him, an almost involuntary priest. No sooner was the step taken than it was repented of, and instead of discharging his priestly functions at Nazianzus he betook himself again to his  p338 solitude in Pontus, thus earning the unconcealed disapproval of his father and his friends.

Bishop of Sasima. Eventually Gregory seems to have settled down at Nazianzus, living his life on the lines which his father had marked out for him; but in the year 372 came his consecration to the Episcopate. His elevation to this dignity was marked by the same conflict between his own and the stronger natures round him, perhaps we might say the two opposing tendencies, the speculative and the practical, in his own nature, which had marred his acceptance of the priestly functions. His friend Basil was by this time a Bishop, having been elected, partly through the influence of Gregory and his father, Metropolitan of the Cappadocian Caesarea. Owing to a division, for civil purposes, of the province of Cappadocia into two parts, Prima and Secunda, Basil found his claims as Metropolitan of the whole province contested by those of the Bishop of Tyana, the capital of the new province of Cappadocia Secunda. In order to carry on successfully the spiritual campaign it was important for Basil to secure an adherent in the enemy's territory, and he accordingly decided to plant a bishopric at the little town of Sasima, and to consecrate his friend Gregory as its first Bishop. In this measure Gregory's father concurred, and though he afterwards bitterly repented of the step, it is difficult to suppose that Gregory himself at the time refused his consent. Sasima was a mansio3 on the high-road from Angora to Tarsus, and as it was only twenty-four Roman miles from Nazianzus, Gregory must have known  p339 perfectly well the character of the place from which he was to take his episcopal title. Here, however, is the description — doubtless the too depreciatory description — which he gives of it when he is reviewing the mistakes and failures of his life: —

'There is a posting-place for travellers planned

Where three ways meet, in Cappadocian land.

This squalid hamlet is the home of slaves,

No spring refreshes it, no foliage waves.

There ever dust, and the car's rattle reigns,

Wails, groans, the exactor's shout, the clank of chains.

Its people — strangers who benighted roam:

And this was Sasima, my Church, my home.

This in his goodness had to me assigned

The Lord of fifty Bishops: wondrous kind!

To this new see, this fort must I repair

That I might fight my patron's battle there.'​4

Bitter as is the lamentation, we are almost ready to forgive the poet the querulousness of his temper for the sake of the vivid picture which he has preserved for us of a village on one of the great highways of the empire, its inhabitants so harassed by the demands of the officers of the cursus publicus, so impoverished by angaria,​5 so constantly called upon to furnish paraveredarii6 for governors proceeding to their provinces, or Bishops returning from their synods, that their condition was practically little better than that of slaves.7

What made the sacrifice that was asked for at his hands all the more painful was that Gregory was under  p340 no illusion as to the meanness of the strife in which he was expected to engage: —

'Souls were the pretext: but I grieve to say

The love of rule it was that caused the fray.

This and the vulgar claims for tax and toll

That o'er the wide world vex the weary soul.'

Such was the profound disgust with which Sasima inspired its new Bishop that he apparently never attempted to discharge the obligations which he had assumed. After a very short residence, if indeed he ever resided there at all, we find him back at Nazianzus, where the increasing weakness of his father excused the helpful presence of a coadjutor. Two years after his consecration to the see of Sasima, both Gregory's parents died. It seems that it was the general wish that the son should succeed the father, and that the canonical difficulty arising from his being already wedded to the see of Sasima would have been in some way surmounted. But again that strange irresolution, that attitude of 'he would and he would not' which is so characteristic of this father of the Church, displayed itself. He refused to be consecrated Bishop of Nazianzus, yet lingered on at that place of which he had now been for several years virtual Bishop. He declares that he performed no episcopal function, laid his hands on no priests' head, nor even prayed publicly in the Church. But Basil refused to consecrate any other Bishop, hoping always that his reluctance to accept the office might be overcome, and Gregory, to show that this was impossible, made another retreat, this time to the monastery of Saint Thekla, at Seleucia.

And now at length, after the death of Basil, and even years after his own consecration to the see of Sasima,  p341 another prospect opened before him, one which appealed to all the higher and lower motives of his nature, to his enthusiastic zeal for the doctrine of the Trinity, and to his personal vanity: to his desire to stir great masses of men by his persuasive eloquence, and to his disgust with the dullness of Cappadocia. The thought suggested itself — or, as he believed, was suggested to him by the Spirit of God — that he should go to the capital and undertake the oversight of the little flock of adherents of the Nicene theology, which still remained in Arian Constantinople. The proposition had perhaps been originally made to him by some of the leaders of the Trinitarian party: it was at any rate warmly approved by them, and to Constantinople he accordingly departed.8

Religious condition of Constantinople. The religious condition of the New Rome, the great city of the east, was at this time a most peculiar one. Heathenism had far less hold here than in the Old Rome by the Tiber: we may perhaps say that it had less hold than in any other city of the Empire. Christianity of one kind or another was the fashionable religion; but it was, and remained for long, whether it assumed the garb of orthodoxy or heterodoxy, a Christianity of the vain, disputatious, shallow kind, doing little to purify the lives of its professors, and making little response to the deep spiritual yearnings of humanity as expressed either in preceding or succeeding ages. For a generation and a half Arianism had been the dominant creed in court and camp and council-chamber, and Arians accordingly the majority of the citizens of Constantinople proclaimed themselves, looking down upon those who held fast to the Nicene Creed as  p342 heretics. But in addition to the professors of Arianism — themselves divided into Homoeusians, Homoeans, Anomoeans​9 — there were the partisans almost of every strange opinion concerning the Godhead that the brooding spirit of the East had given birth to. Manicheans, who solved the riddle of the universe by proclaiming it to be the work of two equally strong co‑enduring powers, Good and Evil: Gnostics, who worshipped Depth and eternal Silence and a wonderful family of Aeons, half male, half female in their attributes: men who believed in the magical efficacy of the letters composing the mystical name God: men who derived the Old Testament and the New from two deeply opposed and hostile powers — the Puritan Novatian, the ecstatic Montanist — all were mingled in this great  p343 tide of humanity which swayed to and fro, wrangling, disputing, bargaining by the shores of the Bosphorus.10

Gregory's preaching at the Church of Anastasia. Against all these opponents of the orthodox faith and against the Apollinarians who, though they accepted the Nicene Creed, were by their too daring speculations on the union of Human and Divine in the person of Christ, preparing the way for the long and terrible Monophysite controversy of the next century, Gregory waged earnest and eloquent, but not bitter war. He began to preach in the house of a relation (the Arians having still possession of every basilica in Constantinople), and the church which grew out of this little conventicle received the name of Anastasia, a name which to the minds of Gregory and his hearers fittingly represented the resurrection of the true doctrine of the Trinity after its long apparent death during the Arian ascendancy. From the accounts which are given us of the multitudes that flocked to Gregory's preaching, we may perhaps infer that large additions were made to the single house which had at first received him. Later on the Emperor Theodosius erected there a magnificent basilica which was adorned with beautiful marbles. The Mosque of Mehmed Pasha on the south-west of the Hippodrome, and over­looking the sea of Marmora, still marks the site of this church of the Resurrection, where Gregory with rapt face expounded the mysteries of the Trinity, and where, a hundred years later, the Scriptures were read  p344 in the Gothic tongue, in order to keep alive the memory of Aspar and Ardaburius, Gothic embellishers of the sacred building.11

The intense earnestness with which Gregory pleaded for the doctrine of the Trinity, a doctrine which was to him no philosophical abstraction but the centre of all his spiritual life,​12 joined to his great and undoubted oratorical gifts, obtained for him an enthusiastic and an increasing band of adherents, but he also met with much and bitter opposition. He himself tells us that his previous training and his personal appearance were against him. His life, which had been spent for the most part among the rustics of Cappadocia,​13 had but little prepared him to face the scrutiny of the delicate aristocrats of Constantinople: —

'For "that the poorest of the poor," said they,

"Wrinkled, with downcast look and mean array,

Whose fasts, and tears, and fears had left their trace

Deeply on what was ne'er a comely face,

A wandering exile from earth's darkest nook

That such should rule, no well-born souls could brook." '​14

The lower classes of the capital were easily roused by the cry that the Cappadocian was bringing back  p345 the many gods of heathenism, so completely had the doctrines of Nicaea faded from the popular memory during the long ascendency of Arianism.​15 He was stoned by the rabble in the streets ('Would that those stones had not missed their mark!' wrote he afterwards in the bitterness of his spirit), and he was dragged 'like a murderer' before the tribunal of the Prefect. But however dangerous the fury of the mob might be, if they gave chase to a Trinitarian in the streets of Constantinople, from the legal tribunals he had nothing to fear. Six months at least had passed since the last Arian Emperor had fallen on the field of Hadrianople, and though Theodosius, the new Augustus of the East, had not yet received baptism at the hands of the Trinitarian Acholius, enough doubtless was conjectured as to his bias, and enough was known as to the bias of his young colleague, Gratian, in favour of the creed of Nicaea, to make a judicious Praetorian Prefect hesitate before he put in force any of the anti-Nicene decrees of Valens which might perchance be slumbering in the statute-book.16

But though little molested by the officials at Constantinople, Gregory was sorely troubled by dissensions and rivalry in the Church of Anastasia itself. The  p346 consecration of Maximus the Cynic as Orthodox Bishop of Constantinople was an event which filled Gregory's soul with bitterness and to which he devotes three hundred passionate lines in the poem of his life; but we may pass lightly over it, as no principle of any kind was involved in the contest.

Maximus the Cynic. About the same time when Gregory himself arrived in Constantinople, there appeared there another visitor, from Egypt; a man whose long hair, hanging down in curls over his shoulders, and whose staff carried in his hand proclaimed him a Cynic philosopher. This was Maximus, a Cynic still according to his own profession, but also an adherent of Christianity and of the Nicene form of that faith, one who had written well against the Arians and who — so he said — had suffered four years' banishment to an oasis in the Egyptian desert for his faith. This man professed and perhaps felt keen admiration for the oratorical gifts of Gregory, and he was repaid by an elaborate oration in his praise pronounced before the congregation of Anastasia.​17 At this time Gregory took the cynic-saint at his own valuation, and found his rhetorical vocabulary all too small to describe the union of religion and philosophy in the mind of the Egyptian convert, or to paint the exile, the stripes, the ignominy which he had endured for the faith of Christ. At a later time, when the ambition of Maximus had collided with his own, his vocabulary of abuse was even more severely taxed to describe the vices of his rival. The exile and the  p347 stripes, he hinted, had been the punishment of vulgar crimes. Maximus was so destitute of literary culture that it was nothing less than impudence for him to presume to write verses. He understood as much about oratory as a donkey understands of playing the lyre, or fishes of driving a chariot; whereas Gregory himself, whom he would provoke to a literary encounter, could no more help writing eloquently than water can help flowing or fire burning.18

Above all, however — and the emphasis laid on this offence makes us doubt the reality of the graver charges — Maximus made himself odious by wearing his hair long. It was partly golden-coloured, partly black (probably like the dandies of the period he dyed it, not with entire success, in imitation of the yellow hair of the Goths); it was curly; old and new fashions were combined in the dressing of it; it was tied up in a round knot​19 like a woman's; and so on, through many an angry line, runs the invective of the elderly rustic who saw this 'curled darling' stealing into the hearts of his female votaries, and silently supplanting him in his hardly-earned throne.20

In all this we greatly miss the calm summing up of an impartial judge. The career of Maximus was a strange one, and the proceedings which have next to be related with reference to his consecration were undoubtedly irregular; but there seems no reason to think that he was guilty of disgraceful crimes, and he was apparently a man of sufficient eminence as a  p348 philosopher to cause his accession to the ranks of the orthodox to be considered a valuable conquest by others besides the preacher of Anastasia.

Maximus consecrated Bishop. In the year 379, while Gregory was confined to his house by illness, a mob of Egyptian sailors (says Gregory), hired for the purpose by a priest of Thasos, who had come to Constantinople to buy marble from Proconnesus for his church, rushed a little before dawn into the church of Anastasia.​21 They seated Maximus in the marble chair of the Bishop and began to intone the service of Consecration. Other ecclesiastics were with them beside the marble-seeking priest from Thasos, and all alleged that they were acting in accordance with a mandate received from Peter, Bishop of Alexandria. Already Alexandria, as the most important church of the East, was claiming to exercise that right of interference in the ecclesiastical affairs of Constantinople which was so grievously to trouble the peace of the Church in the following century.

But day dawned, and the rite of consecration was not ended. Even the necessary tonsure was not completed, when the faithful adherents of Gregory, having learned what was doing, came pouring into the church and found the Cynic, with his curls still untouched by the shears, sitting in the marble chair. To escape the wrath of the shouting multitude, the Egyptians glided from the church into the adjoining house of a band-master, and there cut off the remaining curls and completed the consecration of their new Bishop.

 p349  Gregoryº in presence of Theodosius. These events must have occurred in the summer of 379, and it was probably in the autumn of that year that Maximus, finding the tide of popular opinion running strongly against him, sought the camp of Theodosius and entreated his help to secure for him the episcopal throne of Constantinople. Let the Bishop's Muse, seated on her ambling pad, tell what followed: —

'But when the Eastern Caesar, brooding ill

For the barbarian tribes who roamed at will,

Mustered in Macedonia his array,

What does this vilest dog?​22 Attend, I pray;

Gathering the refuse of the Egyptian crowd,

(Those 'neath whose shears his ringlets bowed)

He hastens to the camp with nimble feet

By royal edict to reclaim his seat.

Ejected hence by Caesar's anger dread

With fearful implicationsº on his head,​23

(For Theodosius still to me was kind,

And none had poisoned yet the Imperial mind),

The pestilential creature seeks once more

(His wisest course) the Alexandrian shore;

For Peter played throughout a double game,

A facile promiser, to each the same.'

If Constantinople could not be persuaded to own him as Bishop, Maximus insisted that Peter should abdicate for him his own see of Alexandria. This modest request was refused, nor when Feb., 380 Peter soon after died — perhaps his death may have been hastened by the shame and annoyance of the affair of Maximus — did the Cynic succeed in obtaining the vacant throne. His further movements need not be recorded. He went to  p350 Italy; he succeeded in enlisting in his cause the Italian Bishops with the great Ambrose at their head; but his election was pronounced utterly invalid by the council of Constantinople, and he soon disappears from history. A strange and presumptuous man doubtless, but perhaps hardly deserving of all the contempt which has been poured upon him, the usual portion of unsuccessful pretenders to thrones civil or ecclesiastical.

The glimpse which we have obtained of Theodosius driving the Cynic aspirant from his presence with anger and curses, shows us already the tendency to outbursts of passion in the florid full-habited Augustus, which was to lead to such a terrible result in the later years of his reign. To Gregory the affair of Maximus brought deep humiliation and keen annoyance, humiliation that he had so imperfectly understood the character of the man whom he had taken into his confidence, annoyance that any considerable number of the orthodox believers at Constantinople should put the dandy-philosopher's claims to spiritual authority in comparison with his own. He desired — or told himself that he desired — to abdicate his doubtful position at Constantinople, and preached a sermon in which he exhorted his congregation to hold fast the doctrine of the Trinity which he had taught, and not to forget his labours among them. The note of farewell which sounded in the sermon was perceived by his flock; and the response, we may perhaps say the desired response, broke forth. 'There was a stir like the hum of bees disturbed in their hive. Men and women, youths and maidens, old men and boys, gentle and simple, magistrates and soldiers on furlough, were all stirred by the same passions of anger and regret, regret at the thought  p351 of losing their pastor, anger at the machinations which were driving him from among them.' They implored him not to desert his Anastasia, 'most precious of temples, the Ark of Noah which had alone escaped from the Deluge, and which bore in its bosom the seeds of a regenerated world of orthodoxy.' Still Gregory, as he tells us, hesitated, but at length a voice was heard from the congregation, 'Father! in banishing thyself thou art banishing also the Trinity,' and that voice decided him to remain.

Thus passed the year 380, the year of the illness of Theodosius and of his long residence at Thessalonica, of Gratian's campaign and of the final ratification of the foedus with the Goths. Triumphal entry of Theodosius into Constantinople. And now, by the labours of Gregory in the Church, by the strategy of Theodosius in the mountain passes of the Balkans, by his and Gratian's policy in the Gothic army-meetings, all was prepared for the Emperor's triumphal entry into his capital, which took place on the 24th​24 of November, 380.

26 Nov., 380. One of the earliest acts of Theodosius was to summon Demophilus the Arian Bishop of Constantinople to his presence, and ask if he were willing to subscribe to the Nicene Creed and thus restore the peace of the Church. Demophilus, a man apparently of respectable character though not of brilliant abilities, who had for ten years sat in the episcopal chair of Constantinople, teaching  p352 the doctrines of a moderate Arianism, refused even at the bidding of an Emperor to renounce the profession of a lifetime.​25 'Then,' said Theodosius, 'since you reject peace and unanimity, I order you to quit the churches.' Demophilus left the Imperial presence, and calling together his adherents in the Cathedral thus addressed them, 'Brethren, it is written in the Gospel, "if they persecute you in one city flee ye to another."​a The Emperor excludes us from our churches: take notice therefore that we will henceforth hold our assemblies without the city.'

The Arians expelled from the churches. 'Thus then,' says the ecclesiastical historian with beautiful simplicity, 'the Arians, after having been in possession of the churches for forty years, were, in consequence of their opposition to the conciliatory measures of the Emperor Theodosius, driven out of the city in Gratian's fifth consulate, and the first of Theodosius [380] on the 26th of November. The professors of the Homo-usian faith in like manner regained possession of the churches.'26

The Arians, henceforward a proscribed and persecuted sect, meeting outside the walls of Constantinople, were known by the contemptuous name of  p353 Exo‑cionitae, because they met outside the pillar (κίων) which marked the extreme westward limit of the city.27

Theodosius described by Gregory. At this point Gregory shall resume the narrative, as the glimpse which he affords us of the character of Theodosius when seen from an orthodox point of view is too precious to be lost: —

'In this position did my fortunes stand

When came the tidings: "Caesar is at hand;"

From Macedon he came, where he the cloud

Of Goths had scattered, menacing and proud.

A man not evil is he, one whose rule

The simple-minded for the faith may school;

A loyal servant of the One in Three,

So says my heart: and with its voice agree

All who hold fast Nicaea's great decree.

Yet zeal is not in him nor purpose high

To compensate the wrongs of years gone by

With answering sternness, nor the ruins raise

Wrought by the Emperors of earlier days.

Or was there zeal enough, but lacked he still

Courage? or rashness? Answer it, who will.

Haply 'twere better take a kindlier tone

And say, the Prince's forethought here was shown.

For of a truth persuasion and not force

For us and ours I hold the worthier course.

Since thus we lead the converts' souls to God,

Not sway their conscience by the Sovereign's nod.

The tight-bent bow springs back. If dams restrain

The prisoned stream 'twill one day flood the plain.

E'en so a faith constrained will lose its sway:

A faith enwrought lasts till Life's latest day.'​28

Theodosius has not by the verdict of history been found guilty of too tender a regard for liberty of conscience in his subjects. Gregory, who here blames him  p354 for his lukewarmness, was certainly, whatever his other faults, one of the most tolerant ecclesiastics of the age, and even these lines reveal the divided councils of his own spirit on the subject of religious toleration. But that Gregory was even inclined to call Theodosius half-hearted is a valuable indication of the direction in which the stream of public opinion was flowing in that age, a direction exactly opposite to that in which it has been flowing with us since the days of Locke.

Church of the Twelve Apostles. Demophilus being cast out from the basilica, the next thing was to enthrone Gregory. The Cathedral Church of these days was not the magnificent temple of the Divine Wisdom, the St. Sophia of Justinian and Anthemius: but it was the church of the Twelve Apostles, the Westminster Abbey of Constantinople, where all the Eastern Emperors were buried, and where a year later Theodosius was solemnly to entomb his predecessor Valentinian. This great Church rose upon the fourth hill of Constantinople, over­looking both the Golden Horn, and the Sea of Marmora; but now no vestige of it is left; for there Mohammed the Conqueror exercised the right which only conquering Sultans may justly claim, the right of building a mosque and calling it after his name. In the spacious courtyard adjoining it are the gushing fountains required for the ablutions of Mohammedan worshippers: within is the tomb of the victorious Sultan covered with tawdry ornaments, and by the gate is inscribed in letters of gold on a tablet of lapis lazuli the prediction of the Prophet. 'They will capture Constantinople. Happy the prince, happy the army which shall accomplish this.' Everything about the place now tells of the conquering sons of Ishmael, nothing of the Heröon in which the Caesars of New  p355 Rome once lay in glory. Yet for this not so much the Mussulman as the Christian must bear the blame, for the spoliation of the Imperial tombs took place, not when Mohammed stormed the city, but two hundred and fifty years before, when the warriors of the Fourth Crusade committed the stupendous blunder and crime of the capture of Constantinople.

When Theodosius, who at this time had only kind looks and words for Gregory, said to him, 'God, through my hands, will give you the cathedral as a reward for your toils,' the heart of the new Bishop sank within him as he thought of the serried ranks of the Arians that would have to be beaten down before such a consummation could be attained. However he took courage in remembering the sufferings of Christ, which he might be called upon to share if he should fall into the hands of the multitude.

The day of the Enthronement. The appointed day dawned. The cathedral and all the approaches to it were lined with soldiers; but the streets were thronged by a mob of angry and excited citizens. At the windows of the second and third stories their faces were seen; they filled the roads, the square, the hippodrome. Men and women, grey beards and little children were there all thrilled with sorrow and indignation. Passionate prayers were put up to the Emperor that he would even yet desist from his design; passionate threats were addressed to Gregory as to the vengeance that would descend on his head. The appearance of Constantinople, he himself tells us, was like that of a city taken by the enemy. And yet the Emperor, who dared all this for the sake of Nicaea, was accused of lukewarmness in its service.

The procession moved towards the cathedral. Gregory,  p356 weak and suffering from his recent sickness, walked between the Emperor and his soldiers. A dark cloud hung over the sky, and seemed, to the excited imaginations of the people, to denote the divine displeasure at the deed which was that day to be accomplished. But no sooner had the procession entered the church and reached the railings which separated the nave from the choir, than the clouds disappeared and a blaze of sunlight filled all the place. The Te Deum was intoned at the same moment: triumphant shouts drowned the angry murmurs of the crowd without: hands were waved in pious exultation. Joy and gladness shone in the countenances of the orthodox believers, a moment ago depressed and mournful: and it seemed to all that the glory of the Lord filled the house as it did the tabernacle of old.

Such were the scenes which marked the return of the Church of Constantinople to that Nicene form of the faith which was thereafter dominant throughout Christendom. Many a conflict was to arise on other points of doctrine between the Old Rome and the New, but to the creed of Nicaea both cities remained stedfast till at Constantinople all Christian creeds went down before the war‑cry of Allah and the Prophet.

To Gregory, the day, so much dreaded, of the procession to the cathedral, proved the one supreme day of joy and triumph in a life of disappointment and apparent failure. After the singing of the Te Deum and the outburst of sunlight kindling the mosaic faces of the Apostles in the church which was dedicated to their honour, there arose from the congregation a sound which seemed like the roar of thunder, but in which articulate words were audible. Grave officials in the  p357 body of the church, excited women in the gallery on high,​29 joined in the earnest cry addressed to the Emperor, 'Thou hast given us back the Church. Give us also Gregory for our Bishop.' So loud and so importunate were the voices that some reply must be promptly made to them; but Gregory, unnerved by the rapid alternations of fear and triumph on that day, distrusted his own powers of utterance. At his request a neighbouring presbyter arose and said: 'Cease your clamour. For the present we have only to think of thanksgiving.​30 Just after we shall see greater things than these.'

Decline of Gregory's influence at Court. From this time, however, there seems, from Gregory's own narrative, to have been a slight but steady decline in the favour with which he was regarded by Theodosius. He attributes it, himself, to his lack of sedulous and obsequious attendance at Court. 'Let others,' he says, 'crouch before the frown of power, let them cultivate the favour of chamberlains who show themselves men only in their lust for gold, let them lie down before the doors of royalty, let them use the glib tongue of the informer, let them open the hand of the beggar, let them take their very piety to market and sell it for a price. I have practised none of these arts, and will leave the doors of princes to those who like to haunt them.' These are noble and manly thoughts, but they were partly suggested to the Cappadocian bishop by that 'rusticity' of which he was himself fully conscious, and which made him no congenial companion  p358 of prefects and chamberlains. But besides this, Theodosius, who was a good judge of character, had probably discovered, as Basil had, in the fervent, impulsive, sensitive nature, an absence of those gifts which are required in him who would bear rule among men. Gregory's was essentially the oratorical temperament: and the men who are born to rule are generally men of silence.

Council of Constantinople. Gregory's fall from power was hastened by an event which seemed at first to add lustre to his office, the Convocation of a general Council at Constantinople. This assembly, which has almost by accident obtained the second place among the great Councils of Christendom, was summoned by Theodosius in May 381. Its composition did not entitle it to the name of Ecumenical,​31 for it consisted of 150 Bishops, drawn entirely from the eastern portion of the empire. It had, however, the glory of closing, practically, the Arian controversy, which for fifty years had distracted Christendom. It formulated no new creed: there had been enough and too many of these published at the endless councils assembled by Constantius and Valens. It did not even, as is generally stated, republish the creed of Nicaea with those additions concerning the Holy Spirit which now appear in the Latin and Anglican liturgies.​32 But it re‑affirmed that creed as the authoritative exposition of the faith of the Church, and by anathematising the doctrines of the various schools of its opponents from the Anomoeans up to the Semi-Arians, it secured victory to those champions who, through good report and evil report, had followed the flag borne aloft by Athanasius,  p359 and after his death by Basil and Gregory. It further declared that henceforward the See of Constantinople, the New Rome, was to take precedence after that of Rome itself, thus settling theoretically a dispute between Constantinople and other Eastern patriarchates, which was not practically to be terminated for more than a century.

As to all the proceedings connected with the consecration of Maximus the Cynic, 'and the disorder introduced by him into the Church of Constantinople,' the Council declared that he neither was nor ever had been Bishop, and that all ordinations performed by him were invalid.

Gregory consecrated by Meletius, Bishop of Antioch. So far all the legislative acts of the Council had been distinctly in Gregory's favour: but besides this it took the further, administrative, step of formally installing Gregory in the Episcopal throne of Constantinople. He resisted, he tells us, even with shouts and lamentations, but yielded eventually, hoping that he might be the means of restoring peace to the distracted Church. The solemn consecration was performed by the venerable prelate who presided over the Council, Meletius, Bishop of Antioch. He was a man, who, having been appointed to that see as a supposed Arian by the Emperor Constantine, suffered exile and persecution for his bold profession of the Nicene faith. He was an ideal president of an ecclesiastical assembly, a man whose sweet temper corresponded to the meaning of his name,​33 whose very countenance spoke of calm within  p360 and whose hand, stretched forth with mild authority, secured calm without. According to a tradition which was prevalent in the Church in the fifth century,​34 Theodosius, before his accession to the throne, had seen in a dream a venerable man, whom he instinctively knew to be the Bishop of Antioch, enter his room, invest him with the Imperial mantle, and place upon his head the Imperial crown. When the 150 fathers of the church were summoned to Constantinople, Theodosius expressly enjoined them not to tell him which among them was Meletius. They were all ushered into the palace, and at once the Emperor, leaving the others unnoticed, ran up to the great Meletius, kissed him on the eyes, the lips, the breast, the head, and on the right hand which had conferred upon him the Imperial crown. The recognition was altogether like that between a father and a long separated son, and Theodosius rehearsed to the wondering prelate the vision which made his face familiar.

Death of Meletius. Such was the prelate who placed Gregory in the episcopal chair, and who presided over the earlier sittings of the council. But the good old man died before the council had been many weeks in session, and though his death brought an accession of dignity to the Bishop of Constantinople, for he was naturally chosen to succeed Meletius as president, it brought him also no small accession of labour and sorrow. For the See of Antioch had been for the last twenty years in the peculiar position of having two rival bishops, both orthodox, one of whom was generally recognised by the  p361 Nicene party in the West, and the other by the same party in the East. The venerable Meletius, notwithstanding his bold profession of faith in the Trinity, was repudiated by the stricter members of the orthodox party as having received consecration at the hands of Arian prelates, and eventually, nineteen years before the date of the Council of Constantinople, Paulinus, a steadfast adherent of the Nicene Creed, had been consecrated as a rival Bishop to Meletius, and had received the recognition of Rome and of most of the Churches of the West. Various attempts had been made to heal this senseless schism, which arose from no difference of doctrine but simply from personal antagonism. These attempts, however, had failed, owing to the obstinacy, not so much of the two bishops themselves, who were both high-minded and saintly men, as of the subordinate ecclesiastics of each party; 'vile place-hunters,' says Gregory, 'who were always blowing the flame of contention and who cleverly fought their own battle under the pretext that it was their chief's.' Some of the leading presbyters had, however, sworn not to seek election on the occasion of the death of one of the two claimants, but to accept his rival as bishop of the whole Church.

Discussion as to successor of Meletius. Now, upon the death of Meletius, the time had come for adopting this reasonable mode of terminating the schism. To this conclusion, to the recognition of Paulinus as the canonical Bishop of Antioch, Gregory now endeavoured to lead the Council. He has preserved to us the purport of his oration on this subject.

'It would not be worth while,' he said, 'to disturb the peace of the world, for which Christ died, even for the sake of two Angels, much less on account of the rival  p362 claims of two Bishops. During the lifetime of the venerable Meletius, it was perhaps right that we should stand up for his claims against the opposition of the West: but now that he is dead, let Paulinus take the vacant see. Soon will death cut the knot, for Paulinus is an aged man: and meanwhile we shall have regained the affections of the estranged churches of the West and restored peace to Antioch. Now the faith itself is in danger of perishing through our miserable squabbles: and rightly, for men may reasonably ask what the faith is worth which permits of our bearing such bitter fruits. If any one think that I am influenced by any fear or favour in giving this counsel, or that I have been prompted thereto by the rulers of the State, I can only appeal to the Judgment of Christ at the Last Day to disprove such a charge. For me, I care not for my episcopal dignity, and am quite ready, if you wish me to do so, to lead a throneless life,​35 without glory but also without danger, in some retirement "where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest." '

Uproar in the Council. As soon as Gregory had ended his oration there arose from all the younger Bishops a sound like the croak of jack-daws. Without reverence for his years, for the dignity of his presidential office, for the place in which they were assembled, they spluttered out their indignant ejaculations, in a tempest of windy wrath, or like wasps whose nest had been disturbed, so they buzzed angrily against the daring bishop who had dared to lift up his voice on behalf of common- p363 sense and Christian forbearance.​36 The older prelates, who ought to have checked the young men's excesses, followed ignobly in their train; and the war‑cry of all, both old and young, was 'The East against the West.' The East had championed the cause of Meletius: it must not stoop to acknowledge defeat by accepting Paulinus the candidate favoured by the West. It was in the East that Christ had wrought His miracles, had suffered death on the cross, had risen from the dead. Let not Rome or any other western See presume to dictate to the sacred East in matters of Church government. On this argument, which reveals disruptive tendencies that were ultimately to manifest themselves on a larger scale and to exert a fatal influence on the destinies of the Empire, Gregory remarks, with some cleverness, that this geographical view of the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven involves its upholders in some difficulties. If we are to look to the lands of the sunrise for our spiritual light, and if the East is essentially religious and the West irreligious, what is to be said of the points North and South where the sun stops and turns in his yearly orbit? And as for the argument that the East is holy because Christ died there, it may be replied that the since Christ must needs suffer, the East was chosen as the scene of his manifestation in the flesh, because only in the East could a people be found wicked enough to crucify Him.

Gregory attacked by Egyptian Bishops. Sick at heart with all the wranglings of the ecclesiastics, and sick in body from confirmed and chronic disease, Gregory absented himself from many meetings of the Council, and rumours of his intended abdication  p364 began to circulate, arousing among his flock, especially among the poorer members of it, passionate lamentations and earnest entreaties that he would not leave them. Such was the posture of affairs when a crowd of Egyptian and Macedonian Bishops arrived to share the deliberations of the Council. Some of these may possibly have taken part in the earlier Alexandrian intrigue for the elevation of Maximus. With Gregory's doctrine they could find no fault: in fact they were, like himself, zealous champions of the faith of Nicaea. But they came, as he says, 'like boars with whetted tusks,' eager for battle with the Bishops of Asia, especially with the followers of the party of Meletius, and they perceived in the consecration of Gregory by Meletius a point of attack against the memory of that prelate too advantageous not to be occupied. For by one of the Nicene Canons, never formally abrogated, if in practice little regarded, it was forbidden to translate a Bishop from one see to another. As Gregory therefore had certainly been consecrated Bishop of Sasima, if he had not also virtually officiated as Bishop of Nazianzus, his consecration as Bishop of Constantinople was irregular, and the dead Meletius must be censured for having performed it.

Abdication of Gregory. The Egyptian Bishops assured Gregory that it was not against himself personally that these proceedings were aimed: but they filled full the measure of his disgust with Bishops and Councils, and ecclesiastical intrigues. He tells us that he was like a steed chained to the stall, but stamping with its hoof and whinnying for freedom and its old pastures: and in this technical point raised by the Egyptian bishops he saw the means of his deliverance. Dragging himself from his sick- p365 bed to the Council, he begged them not to interrupt those deliberations to which God had summoned them by the discussion of anything so unimportant as his position in the church. Though guiltless of the storm he would gladly offer himself, like Jonah, for the safety of the ship. His glory would be to renounce an Episcopal throne in order to restore peace to the church. 'I depart: to this conclusion my weary body also persuades me. I have but one debt still to pay, the debt of mortality, and that is in the hand of God.'

The resignation of Gregory was accepted with a readiness and unanimity, which, he admits, surprised him:​37 and he returned to his home with mingled feelings of joy and sorrow, joy that he had obtained a surcease from unwelcome toil, sorrow that he was leaving his flock to unknown guidance through the unknown dangers of the wilderness.

It remained only to visit the Emperor and announce to him the vacancy of the Metropolitan See. With a certain proud humility Gregory appeared before the wearer of the purple and said, 'Let others ask of you, oh great Prince, gold for themselves, or beautiful mosaics for their churches,​38 or office for their kinsfolk; I ask a greater gift than these, leave to withdraw from the unreasonableness and jealousy of the world, and to reverence thrones [whether episcopal or imperial] from a distance and not nigh at hand. You have quelled the audacity of the barbarians: may you now win a bloodless victory over the spirit of discord in the church.' The Emperor and all his courtiers applauded  p366 the eloquent words of the prelate, but the command (if such command were expected) to reconsider his decision, came not: and Gregory, after doing his utmost to reconcile his faithful flock to his departure, quitted Constantinople. He had preached in that city during a space of two years and a half, but had been only for about three months the recognised occupant of the episcopal throne.

Old age and death of Gregory. He returned to his native Cappadocia, endeavoured, not altogether successfully, again to guide the affairs of the Church of Nazianzus, retired to a little estate in the neighbouring village of Arianzus, and died there about 389, having attained, probably, the 65th year of his age. His premature old age was harassed by the vexations of a relative and neighbour named Valentinian, and saddened by great bodily weakness and spiritual depression. He longed after his flock at Constantinople, and in pathetic poems expressed his yearnings after the beloved Church of Anastasia, which the visions of the night brought with sad reality before him.

With all the obvious weaknesses of his character, there is something strangely attractive in the figure of this great champion of orthodoxy. In his mixture of zeal and tenderness, in his rapid transitions from triumph to depression, there is something which reminds us of the Apostle Paul: yet if we put the two lives side by side, and compare the utterances of the two men, we feel, perhaps, more vividly than in the case of more obviously unworthy successors of the Apostles, how great was the moral descent from the Christianity of the first to that of the fourth century, how ennobling and exalting to the whole character of man was the  p367 power, the indefinable quality which was possessed by Paul of Tarsus, but which was not possessed by Gregory of Nazianzus.

Subsequent proceedings of the council. Soon after the departure of Gregory the Council of Constantinople ended its labours. Flavian, a presbyter who belonged to the party of Meletius, was chosen as his successor in the See of Antioch. For the all‑important See of Constantinople, Theodosius selected Nectarius, a man of high birth — he belonged to a senatorial family — and filling at the time the office of Praetor, but unknown in the ecclesiastical world, and still only a catechumen. His mild and conciliatory temper, and the knowledge of the world which he had acquired in his political career, were his chief recommendations, and in fact, during his long episcopate he contrived to steer the bark of the Church of Constantinople with more skill than either of the far more famous theologians by whom he was preceded and followed.

And thus it was, to return to the laws of Theodosius for the suppression of heresy, that on the 30th of July, 381, the Emperor ordered all the churches throughout his dominions to be handed over to those Bishops whose orthodoxy was guaranteed by the fact of their holding communion with Nectarius, Bishop of Constantinople, and Timotheus, Bishop of Alexandria. The old expedient of requiring subscription to a creed was abandoned: and communion with men of ascertained orthodoxy was substituted in its place.

It there were any of that reluctance which Gregory discovered in Theodosius to force the consciences of his subjects into compliance with his own belief, it soon disappeared under the influence of the exhortations to  p368 more zeal which he received from his Bishops and from his wife, the devout Flaccilla, and also doubtless under the increasing intolerance of opinions different from his own which is wont to be engendered in the breast of the possessor of absolute power. Fifteen​39 stern edicts against heresy, one on an average for every year of his reign, were his contribution to the Imperial Statute-book.

Theodosius' legislation against heretics. Already on the 10th of January, 381, Theodosius had launched the first of these imperial thunderbolts with an energy which one would have thought might have rendered it unnecessary for Gregory of Nazianzus to apologise for his too great moderation.

'Let there be no place left to the heretics for celebrating the mysteries of their faith, no opportunity to exhibit their stupid obstinacy. Let popular crowds be kept away from the assemblies, now pronounced unlawful, of all heretics. Let the name of one supreme God be everywhere glorified, let the observance of the Nicene faith, handed down to us from of old by our ancestors, be for ever confirmed. Let the contaminating plague of Photinus, the sacrilegious poison of Arius, the criminal misbelief of Eunomius, and the unutterable enormities of the other sects which are called after the monstrous names of their authors, be banished from our hearing. He is to be accounted an assertor of the Nicene faith and a true Catholic who confesses Almighty God and Christ the Son of God, one in name with the Father,  p369 God of God, Light of Light: who does not by denying the existence of the Holy Ghost insult that Spirit through whom comes whatsoever we hope to receive from the great Father of us all: whose unstained faith holds fast that undivided substance of the Incorruptible Trinity which the Orthodox Greeks assert under the name of Ousia.​40 These doctrines are abundantly proved to us: these are to be reverenced. Let all who do not obey them cease from those hypocritical wiles by which they claim for themselves the name — the alien name — of the true religion, and let them be branded with the shame of their manifested crimes. Let them be kept entirely away from even the thresholds of the churches, since we shall allow no heretics to hold their unlawful assemblies within the towns. If they attempt any outbreak, we order that their rage shall be quelled and that they shall be cast forth outside the walls of the cities, so that the Catholic Churches through the whole world be restored to the orthodox prelates who hold the Nicene faith.'​41

So began the campaign which ended in the virtual extinction of Arianism in the Roman world, and the acceptance of the Nicene Creed as part of the fundamental constitution of the Empire. The contents of  p370 the fifteen edicts against heretics may be summarised thus. No Arians were to be at liberty to build a church either in city or country in which to celebrate the rites of their dire communion; and houses devoted to this purpose in defiance of the law were to be confiscated by the State.​42 Nor were they to be allowed to ordain priests; and if they transgressed this command 'all who should dare to take the polluted name of priests among these sectaries and who pretended to teach that which it is disgraceful to learn, should be hunted without mercy out of the city of Constantinople, to live in other places apart from the intercourse of good men.'​43 388 A few years later, the limits within which the Arians were suffered to live were yet further restricted. They were to be banished not from the capital only but from all the cities of the Empire. 'Let them resort to places which may most effectually, as if with a rampart, shut them off from all human fellow­ship.​44 We add that they shall be altogether denied opportunities of visiting and petitioning Our Serenity.'

In order to enforce the edicts for the suppression of heretical meetings, a series of laws were passed by Theodosius and his sons with the object of enlisting the instincts of the possessors of property on the side of orthodoxy, by making these 'dens of wild beasts'​45 subject to confiscation either by the State, or, 392 in the later legislation, by the Catholic Church. 'The place  p371 in which the forbidden rites are attempted shall, if the thing were done with the connivance of the owner, be added to the possessions of our treasury. If it can be proved that the owner of the house was ignorant of the transaction [he shall not forfeit his property, but] the tenant who allowed it to be so used shall pay 10 lbs. of gold [£400], or if poor and sprung from servile filth, shall be beaten with clubs and banished. We especially order that if the building in question form part of the Imperial property, the procurator who has let it and the tenant who has hired it be each fined 10 lbs. of gold. A similar fine is to be exacted from any who shall dare to usurp the name of clergyman and assist at the mysteries of heretics.'46

Occasionally a gleam of mildness darts across the thundercloud of the Imperial anger. 'The Taxodrocitae,' says Theodosius, 'need not be turned out their dwellings, but no crowd is to be permitted to assemble at any church of this heretical superstition; or if by chance it should come together there it is to be promptly dispersed.' The sect with this barbarous name, for which an Emperor of Rome condescended thus specially to legislate, was, we are told, a set of men who prayed with the forefinger held under the nose to give themselves an appearance of sadness and holiness.

Upon the Manicheans the orthodox Emperor was especially severe, but this is not surprising since, as we have seen, even the tolerant Valentinian thought himself bound to suppress their teaching, as tending to the subversion of morality. Any bequest to or by a Manichean, male or female, was declared void, and the property  p372 which it was attempted thus to pass lapsed to the treasury. But by a curious anticipation of the 'Irish Penal Laws' of the eighteenth century, it was ordered that any children of Manichean priests who might be found professing the true faith should escape the operation of this edict and, presumably, enter into the immediate possession of property for which they must otherwise have awaited their father's death. And then reverting to his former denunciation of the heretics: 'They shall not escape,' says the Imperial legislator, 'by taking other names which seem of more pious sound than that of Manichean. Such are they who call themselves the Continent ones,​47 the World-renouncers,​48 the Water-users,​49 and the Sackcloth-wearers.​50 All these, with whatever names they may seek to cloak themselves, are to be execrated as men branded with the crime of heresy.'51

382 In the next decree but one it seems to be ordered that the sectaries who bear these names of pretended holiness be capitally punished;​52 and it is added that all those who do not concur in the celebration of Easter at the usual time shall be considered equally guilty with the heretics at whom the law is expressly aimed.

Certainly there was no need to complain of Theodosius' lack of persecuting zeal. Whatever arguments  p373 might be alleged for the suppression of the awful doubt of the Manicheans, no such defence can be made for the desperate servility with which an Emperor of Rome placed all the vast powers of the State at the disposal of the Catholic Bishops, in order to enforce the observance of the festival of the Resurrection on a certain artificially calculated Sunday rather than on the 16th of Nisan. It was with an appearance of gracious liberality that Theodosius allowed freedom of worship to all who delighted in worshipping God in the beauty of holiness and with true and right reverence;​53 but it was clear that right observance meant compliance, in the minutest particular, with the commands of the Bishops who stood round the Imperial throne; and the very sentence which seemed to announce this tolerant maxim declared that all the members of the anathematised sects who should dare to come together in crowds, to fit up their houses in the likeness of churches, or to do any act public or private which could interfere with Catholic holiness, should be expelled [from the cities] by the concerted action of all good men.

Were these Edicts actually enforced? No doubt it was long before the theoretical severity of the persecution of heretics could be translated into fact in all the cities of the empire. The frequent repetition of almost identical edicts shows how easily they lapsed into disuse, either through the inherent difficulty of enforcing them or through the venality, the good-nature or the secret inclination to heresy of the provincial governors who were charged with their execution.  p374 Indeed, we are expressly told by one of the church historians​54 that 'great as were the punishments ordained by the laws against heretics, they were not always inflicted; for the Emperor had no wish to persecute his subjects; he only desired to enforce uniformity of religion by means of intimidation;' — an apology, it may be remarked in passing, which is as good for Diocletian or Galerius as it is for Theodosius. But none the less was the Theodosian religious legislation ultimately successful in the suppression of all teaching opposed to the creed of Nicaea, and the victory thus won exerted an immense and, in my view, a disastrous influence on the fortunes of the Empire, of Christianity, and even of Modern Europe.

Effect of this legislation on the Empire, The Empire suffered alike from the strength and the weakness of the Imperial persecutor. Such edicts as of this which we have been considering must have loosened the bonds of loyalty in many regions of the empire, must have sent many sectaries to the mountains and the wilderness, with savage hearts, ready to co‑operate with the first barbarian invader who would avenge their cause upon the orthodox Augustus and his Bishops. But even the imperfect execution of the decrees must also have done harm to the State. The obligations of discipline were relaxed, the muscles of the administration lost their firmness, when edict after edict issued from the Imperial secretum, which could not be, or at any rate was not, literally obeyed by more than a small minority of the officials of the provinces.

on the Church. To Christianity there might seem to be a temporary gain in the cessation of the wearisome and profitless talk concerning the nature of the Godhead. But nothing  p375 was further from the subtle intellect of the Grecian East than giving up the dispute as to the relation of Jesus Christ to the Father of whom He spoke, and setting to work to practise his precepts. Shut out henceforward from the Arian controversy, the Orientals plunged with all the more eagerness into the Nestorian and Monophysite controversies. The stream of interminable babble still flowed on, eddying now, not round the doctrine of the Trinity, but round the doctrine of the Person of Christ. Faith died and Theology was occupied in garnishing her sepulchre with elaborate and fantastic devices, when, from the burning plains of Arabia the harsh war‑cry of another faith, narrow and poverty-stricken in comparison with the earlier faith of the Christians, but still a living Faith in the Unseen, was heard, and the Mosque of the Moslem, with its sublime motto 'Allah Wahdadu' (God Alone), replaced the Christian Church with its crosses and mosaics of the saints. Had the State not endeavoured to enforce one uniform creed in Constantinople, in Antioch, in Alexandria, it is possible that Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt might at this day be owning the teaching of Christ rather than that of Mohammed.

Effect on Mediaeval Europe. But most fatal of all was the direction given by so great an Emperor as Theodosius to the energies of European rulers during the period — not far short of a millennium and a half — during which the Roman empire was the model proposed for imitation by all the half-barbarous states which arose upon its ruins. Following the example which he had set, every European ruler during the Middle Ages deemed it one of his duties to enforce 'the Catholic unity' upon his subjects. It was a duty which no doubt was often  p376 neglected, but still it was a duty, for the great Caesars of Rome had practised it; and therefore we have among these princes the same paradox which meets us in the case of the Roman Caesars, that the best sovereigns were often the most relentless persecutors. Sometimes however, especially in the later days of pre‑revolutionary Europe, a king atoned for his own lax morality by zeal in the punishment of heretics. Almost into our own age the baneful influence lasted. Eight years after the accession to the throne of the grandfather of our present sovereign, an old Frenchwoman named Marie Durand was liberated from the Tour de Constance at Aigues Mortes, in which she had been imprisoned for thirty-eight years. The only crime which was alleged against her (and even that falsely) was that her marriage had been solemnised by her brother, a Huguenot minister, who, by the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, had been forbidden to exercise any religious function. This was the crime for which thirty-eight years of imprisonment were not considered too severe a punishment, and the monarch in whose name the sentence was inflicted was the eldest son of the Church, the most Christian and most Infamous Louis XV. The chain of causes and effects is a long one, but we shall probably be safe in asserting that if Theodosius had elected to follow the wise example of Valentinian, and had refused to enforce religious uniformity by the power of the State, that hapless daughter of Provence would not have languished for a lifetime in the dreary dungeon of Aquae Mortuae.

The Author's Notes:

1 Νίκαια νικῶσα.

2 Probably about 325.

3 Lodging-place. There were generally about two mutationes (post-stations) to each mansio (which marked the end of an ordinary day's journey).

4 Carmen XI.439‑450.

5 Angaria = services on the road.

6 Paraveredarii = extra post-horses.

7 Gregory says (u. s. 441) that Sasima was

ἄνυδρος, ἄχλους, οὐδ’ ὅλως ἐλεύθερος.

I think this means more than the 'nihil habens liberale' by which the Latin translator has rendered it.

8 He appears to have arrived in Constantinople early in 379.

9 The following table exhibits the chief types of orthodox and heterodox opinion at the time with which we are engaged: —

Name of Sect Battle‑cry Chief Champions Imperial Patrons

'The Son is of one Substance with the Father.'

Basil of Caesarea.
Gregory Nazianzen.
Gratian and Theodosius.
Homoe‑usians or Semi-Arians.

'The Son is of like Substance with the Father.'

Eustathius of Sebasté.
Basil of Ancyra.

'The Son is like unto the Father in such manner as the Scriptures declare.' The terms 'Essence' and 'Substance' (οὐσία and ὑπόστασις) ought not to be used in speaking of the Godhead.

Acacius of Caesarea.
Eudoxius of Constantinople.

'The Son is unlike the Father and of a different Substance.'

Aetius, deacon, of Antioch.
Eunomius of Cyzicus.
Gallus (for a short time: but as a rule this doctrine was disavowed even by the Arian Emperors.)

10 This description of the religious atmosphere of Constantinople is chiefly taken from Gregory (loc. cit. 1153‑1185). He thus pourtrays the Gnostics —

Οἳ τὸν Βυθὸν Σιγήν τε προχρόνους φύσεις

Τιμῶντες, Αἰῶνάς τε τοὺς θηλάρσενας

Σίμωνος υἱοὶ τοῦ μάγου.

11 See Dr. Paspati's βυζαντιναὶ Μελεταί, p369. The identification of 'Mehmed Pasha Djemi' with St. Anastasia is due to Dr. Paspati, who discovered in the Mosque traces of a Christian origin, which he refers to the eighth century.

12 One cannot fail to be struck with the frequent reference to the Trinity, even in the autobiographical part of Gregory's poems. He speaks of ἡ Τριάς in a tone of personal affection, and with a familiarity which perhaps sometimes borders on irreverence. His language in this respect differs much from that of ordinary orthodox Christians of later ages.

13 Carm. XI.594, καίπερ ἀεὶ ζήσαντες ἄγροικον βίον.

14 Ibid. 696‑702.


Πρῶτον μὲν ἐξέζεσε καθ’ ἡμῶν ἡ πόλις

Ὡς εἰσαγόντων ἀνθ’ ἑνὸς πλείους θεούς,

Θαυμαστὸν οὐδέν· ἦσαν οὕτως ἤγμενοι

Ὥστ’ ἀγνοεῖν παντάπασιν εὐσεβῆ λόγον

Πῶς ἡ Μονὰς τριάζεθ’, ἡ Τριὰς πάλιν

Ἐνίζετ’, ἀμφοῖν ἔνθεως νοουμένη.

(Carm. XI.654‑659.)

16 I speak hypothetically about these edicts of Valens against the orthodox. Some such there must surely have been, at any rate, issued after the death of Valentinian, but as far as I know they have left no trace in the Theodosian Code.

17 It appears to be generally admitted that Gregory's 'Oratio in Laudem Heronis Philosophi' was (as St. Jerome tells us) originally pronounced in praise of Maximus, and that its title was altered by copyists, jealous for the saint's consistency.

18 Carm. XLI (ed. Migne), Adversus Maximum, 44‑45, 54‑56.

19 Σισόη. The word used in the Septuagint translation of Leviticus xix.27 ('Ye shall not round the corners of your heads').

20 Carm. XI.751‑772; XLI.49‑51 (as to Maximus' popularity with the females of the congregation).

21 I think we must suppose that the consecration of Maximus took place in the only church at Constantinople possessed by the Nicenes. To have intruded into St. Sophia, Demophilus still ruling there, would have been surely impossible.

22 As Maximus professed himself a Cynic, Gregory is within his rights in calling him 'dog,' but he perhaps avails himself of the privilege too freely.


Κἀκεῖθεν αὖθις, ὡς κύων, ἀποῤῥιφεὶς

Ὀργῇ τε πολλῇ καὶ ὅρκοις φρικώδεσι.

(Carm. XI.1009‑1010.)º

24 This is the day of the month given by Socrates (V.6) and the Paschal Chronicle (s. a. 378), and it agrees with the Theodosian Code, which makes Theodosius still at Thessalonica on the 16th November. Clinton is therefore justified in preferring it to the 14th November, the date given by the 'Descriptio Consulum Idatio Episcopo adscripta,' s. a. 380.

25 Gwatkin (Studies of Arianism, 256) says that 'the blunders of Demophilus did almost as much harm to the Homoeans as the profanity of Eudoxius.' Is not this to attach too much importance to the criticism of Philostorgius (IX.14, and Frag. apud Suid.), who after all seems chiefly dissatisfied with Demophilus because he is not Arian enough for him? His conduct at Cyzicus seems to show that he was a moderate man.

26 Socrates, V.7. Marcellinus Comes (s. a. 380) makes a restitution of the Churches 'Nostris Catholicis' to have taken place in the month of December. But that is not inconsistent with the statement that a beginning was made with Demophilus and the Cathedral Church on the 26th November.

27 Cf. Chronicon Paschale, s. a. 379 [380], Θεοδόσιος ὁ βασιλεὺς ἔδωκε τὰς ἐκκλησίας τοῖς ὀρθοδόξοις, πανταχοῦ ποιήσας σάκρας καὶ διώξας ἐξ αὐτῶν τοὺς λεγομένους Ἀρειανοὺς Ἐξωκιονίτας..

28 Carm. I.11.1278‑1300.

29 Ταῦτ’ ἐκ γυναικῶν ὑψόθεν βοώμενα.

30 Or may he mean 'We have now to celebrate the Eucharist'?

Καιρὸς γάρ ἐστι πάντως εὐχαριστίας

Ὁ νῦν· ὁ δ’ εἰσέπειτα καὶ τῶν μειζόνων.

31 Representing the whole inhabited world.

32 See Gwatkin, Studies of Arianism, 262, n. 1,º as to the 'Two Dissertations' of Dr. Hort.

33 If, that is to say, it was derived from μέλι (= honey). It seems to be found in the form Melitius, as well as Meletius. Gregory says of him —


Ὃ ἦν. Μέλιτος γὰρ καὶ τρόπος καὶ τοὔνομα.

(Carm. II.9.1520‑1.)

34 Related by Theodoret (Ecclesiastical History, V.6.71). Theodoret wrote probably between 430 and 450.


Ἡμῖν δὲ συγχωρήσατ’ ἄθρονον βίον

Τὸν ἀκλεῆ μέν, ἀλλ’ ὅμως ἀκίνδυνον

Καθήσομ’ ἐλθὼν οἷ κακῶν ἐρημία.

(Carm. II.9.1671‑4).

36 These metaphors, which it is hard to combine, are all taken from Gregory (Carm. II.9.1680‑7).


πλεῖον, ἢ καλῶς ἔχει

Ἄφνω τετίμημ’ εὐκόλῳ συναινέσει.


Οὐ χρυσὸν αἰτῶ σ’, οὐ πλάκας περιχρόους.

(Carm. II.9.1883).

39 Fifteen are enumerated by Gothofred. It is true that the last (Cod. Theod. XVI.5.23) is a relaxation of the law forbidding bequests by Arians. But on the other hand l. 15, which Gothofred attributes to Valentinian II, may surely be attributed with equal justice to Theodosius.

40 'Being,' or 'Substance.' 'Homo-ousios' = 'of one Substance' [with the Father].

41 Cod. Theod. XVI.5.6. It will be observed that Theodosius speaks of restoration of the Churches to the Nicenes 'toto orbe.' Yet, in the name of his colleague, Valentinian II, Justina, mother of that Emperor, was at this time contending, and for years after contended, on this very point, with St. Ambrose. The position of affairs suggests a doubt how far edicts of this kind, though issued in the names of all the Emperors, were tacit­ly recognised as having validity only in the dominions of one of them.

42 l.c., 8, 12.

43 l.c., 13.

44 'Adeant loca, quae hos potissimum quasi vallo, quodammodo ab humana communione secludant' (l. 14).

45 'Aedificia quae non ecclesiae sed antra debent feralia nominari' (l. 57). (This is a law not of Theodosius but of his son, A.D. 415.)

46 l.c., 21.

47 Encratitae.

48 Apotactitae.

49 Hydroparastatae (users of water instead of wine in the Communion).

50 Saccophori.

51 l. 7.

52 I do not see what other meaning we can attach to the words 'summo supplicio et inexpiabili poena jubemus affligi,' but there is perhaps some intentional vagueness in the language employed (l. 9).

53 I would thus paraphrase, I can hardly translate, the words 'permissa omnibus facultate, quos rectae observantiae cultus et pulchritudo delectat' (l. 11).

54 Sozomen, VII.12. Greek English

Thayer's Note:

a Matt. 10:23.

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