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Ch. 5, §§1‑4
This webpage reproduces a section of
History of the Later Roman Empire

by J. B. Bury

published by Macmillan & Co., Ltd.,

The text is in the public domain.

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Ch. 5, §§6‑7


(Part 2 of 3)

 p138  § 5. John Chrysostom

It was during the interlude in which Gaïnas and Typhos were supreme that Eudoxia, who had borne Arcadius two daughters, was crowned Augusta (January 9, A.D. 400).​96 Notwithstanding her German descent, she had no sympathies with the German party, though she had independently helped them to compass the fall of Eutropius. It is significant that of the hostages whom Gaïnas had demanded, John was notoriously her favourite and Saturninus was the husband of her intimate friend Castricia. The Empress was a woman of forceful character and impulsive temper,​97 and after the eunuch's fall she won unbounded influence over her weak and sluggish husband. Her historical importance centres in the conflict into which she was drawn with Chrysostom, a drama which was to settle the future relations between the Imperial and the Patriarchal authority. No critical collision had occurred before. With the exception of Valens no Emperor had resided constantly at Constantinople before Arcadius, who never left the capital except for a summer holiday at Ancyra. Moreover, the see had only recently attained to the first rank in the Eastern Empire (A.D. 381), and its primacy was hotly disputed by Alexandria. That the collision between Emperor and Patriarch occurred at this time was due principally to the aggressive and uncompromising character of Chrysostom.

John, the "golden-mouthed" preacher, was in his forty-sixth or forty-seventh year when he became bishop of Constantinople (February 26, A.D. 398).​98 He was an independent and austere man, who in his own habits carried asceticism to excess, and his ways were rough and uncourtly. At Constantinople he found himself confronted by a superb court under the sway of Eudoxia. There is no reason to suppose that it was particularly vicious,  p139  but it was at least frivolous and embodied for him the pride of life and the pomps and vanities of the world.

Chrysostom stands alone among the great ecclesiastics of the later Empire in that his supreme interest lay not in controversial theology but in practical ethics. His aim was the moral reformation of the world, and as his work lay in two rich cities, Antioch and Constantinople, he conceived it to be one of his chief duties to strive against the flaunting luxury of the rich classes, and denounce the lavish expenditure of wealth on personal gratification, wealth which in his eyes should have been devoted to alleviating the lot of the poor. Thus we learn from his sermons, whether at Constantinople or at Antioch, many details as to the luxurious life of the higher classes. Many rich nobles possessed ten or twenty mansions and as many private baths; a thousand, if not wellnigh two thousand, slaves called them lord, and their halls were thronged with eunuchs, parasites, and retainers.​99 In their gorgeous houses doors were of ivory, the ceilings lined with gold, the floors inlaid with mosaics or strewn with rich carpets; the walls of the halls and bedrooms were of marble, and wherever commoner stone was used the surface was beautified with gold plate. Nude statues, to the scandal of strict ecclesiastics, decorated the halls. Spacious verandahs and baths adjoined the houses, which were surrounded by gardens with fountains. The beds were made of ivory or solid silver, or, if on a less expensive scale, of wood plated with silver or gold. Chairs and stools were usually of ivory, and the most homely vessels were often of the most costly metal; the semicircular tables or sigmas, made of gold or silver, were so heavy that two youths could hardly lift one. Oriental cooks were employed; and at banquets the atmosphere was heavy with all the perfumes of the East, while flute girls, whose virtue was as easy as in the old days of Greece and Rome, entertained the feasters.

To Chrysostom the contrast between the life of the higher classes and the miseries of the toiling populace was such a painful spectacle, that he was almost a socialist. If he inveighs against the men for their banquets, he is no less severe on the women for their sumptuous mule-cars, their rich dresses, their jewellery,  p140  their coquettish toilettes.​100 Their extravagance often involved their husbands in expenses which they could not afford. He denounces the use of silk and brocade. All "evils" which Chrysostom describes are characteristic — allowance being made for difference of environment — of all wealthy societies, pagan or christian. His passionate denunciations of the rich have the same import and value as the denunciations of modern European plutocrats by socialists.

The problem of marriage interested him, and he preached the unpopular doctrine that the two partners in marriage are equal, the woman having the same rights against an unfaithful husband as the man against an unfaithful wife. We should hardly require the express evidence with Chrysostom supplies, to know that marriages for money were frequent. He complains that children were excessively indulged, and that their fathers too often gave their sons the worst possible moral education.​101 It is interesting to learn from his homilies that the treatment of slaves was still often marked by much of the old brutality. People passing in the street might often hear the furious outbreaks of an angry mistress beating her maid. Chrysostom describes vividly how a wife summoned her husband to aid her in punishing an offending servant.​102 The girl is stripped, tied to the foot of the bed, whipped by the master, while the mistress exhausts her vocabulary of abuse. The offence was probably quite trivial, perhaps an awkwardness in assisting at the mistress's toilette.​103 The condition of domestic slaves had in some respects changed little more than human nature since the days of Juvenal. But harsh and brutal treatment was not more universal than in those days. There were many masters (as other passages of Chrysostom show) who took the deepest interest in the well-being of their slaves. And there was also another side to the question. The servants were often trying and maleficent, slandering and spying upon their owners. The troubles which were caused by the lying tongues of maidservants are actually urged by Chrysostom as an argument against marriage.

 p141  Christianity had not yet succeeded in abolishing all the old pagan customs from the celebrations of funerals and marriages. In the reign of Arcadius the usage was still maintained of hiring female mourners to sing dirges over the dead. Chrysostom considered it idolatry, and even threatened to excommunicate those who practised it. He also stigmatised the pagan practice of ablutions after the funeral ceremony, which were intended to purify from contact with the dead. The expense and ostentation which marked the funerals of the rich also earned his censure. More scandalous in the eyes of austere Christians were the survivals of pagan manners on the occasion of weddings. The Church had introduced an ecclesiastical ceremony in the presence of the bishop, but as soon as this was completed, the wedding was celebrated in the old way. The bride was conducted in procession at nightfall from the house of her father to that of the bridegroom. The procession was followed by troops of actors and actresses and dancing-girls, who were admitted to the house, where they danced indecently and sang indelicate songs. The epithalamia and the odes which Claudian composed on the occasions of the marriages of Honorius may give some idea of the licence which was still fashionable.

Chrysostom fought not only against the extravagance of the rich but also against the sensuality, gluttony, and avarice of the clergy and the monks, to whom his austerity was, in the words of his biographer, "as a lamp burning before sore eyes." Women were introduced into the monasteries or shared the houses of priests as "spiritual sisters," a practice which if often innocent was always a snare.​104 Deaconesses, unable to adopt the meretricious apparel that had become the mode, arranged their coarse dresses with an immodest coquetry which made them more piquant than professional courtesans.º

The Patriarch had his own devoted female admirers. The most distinguished was the deaconess Olympias, a rich lady, who in her early girlhood had been a favourite of Gregory Nazianzene. Her bounty to the poor won the heart of Chrysostom, to whom she proved a most unselfish and devoted friend. Another of his friends was Salvina, daughter of the Moor Gildo, whom Theodosius had given in marriage to Nebridius his  p142  wife's nephew. In "A Letter to a Young Widow" Chrysostom contrasts the peaceful happiness of her life at Constantinople with the unrest of her father's turbulent career. A deacon named Serapion was the Patriarch's trusted and devoted counsellor, but his influence was not always wisely exerted. He had no judgment, and instead of trying to restrain the impetuous temper of Chrysostom, encouraged or incited him to rash acts.

With the common people the Patriarch enjoyed great popularity. He was no respecter of persons, and he interpreted Christianity in a socialistic sense which has not generally been countenanced or encouraged by the Church. Though it was not political but social inequality that he deprecated, and nothing was further from his thoughts than to upset the established order of things, the spirit of his teaching certainly tended to set the poor against the rich. On the occasion of an earthquake he said publicly that "the vices of the rich caused it, and the prayers of the poor averted the worst consequences." It was easy for his enemies to fasten upon utterances like this and accuse him of "seducing the people." His friendships with Olympias and other women whom he sometimes received alone supplied matter for another slander. Having ruined his digestive organs by excessive asceticism, he made a practice of not dining in company, and in consequence of this unsocial habit he was suspected of private gluttony.

For three years Chrysostom and Eudoxia were on the best of terms. Chrysostom owed his see, Eudoxia her throne, to Eutropius, and they both refused to be his creatures. But early in A.D. 401 she did something which evoked a stern rebuke from the Archbishop, and the consequence of his audacity was that he was not received at Court. We learn of this in connexion with an episode which reveals Eudoxia herself in an amiable light.

Porphyrius, the bishop of Gaza, with other clergy of that diocese, visited Constantinople in the spring of A.D. 401, to persuade the government to take strong measures for the suppression of pagan practices. For the citizens of Gaza still obstinately held to the worship of their old deities, Aphrodite, the Sun, Persephone, and above all Marnas, the Cretan Zeus. When the clergy reached the capital and secured lodgings, their first act was to visit Chrysostom. "He received us with great honour and courtesy, and asked us why we undertook the fatigue of  p143  the journey, and we told him. And he bade us not to despond but to have hope in the mercies of God, and said, 'I cannot speak to the Emperor, for the Empress excited his indignation against me because I charged her with a thing which she coveted and robbed. And I am not concerned about his anger, for it is themselves they hurt and not me, and even if they hurt my body they do the more good to my soul. . . . To‑morrow I will send for the eunuch Amantius, the castrensis (chamberlain) of the Empress, who has great influence with her and is really a servant of God, and I shall commit the matter to him.' Having received these injunctions and a recommendation to God, we proceeded to our inn. And on the next day we went to the bishop and found in his house the chamberlain Amantius, for the bishop had attended to our affair and had sent for him and explained it to him. And when we came in, Amantius stood up and did obeisance to the most holy bishops, inclining his face to the ground, and they, when they were told who he was, embraced him and kissed him. And the archbishop John bade them explain orally their affair to the chamberlain. And Porphyrius explained to him all the concealment of the idolaters, how licentiously they perform the unlawful rites and oppress the Christians. And Amantius, when he heard this, wept and was filled with zeal for God, and said to them, 'Be not despondent, fathers, for Christ can shield His religion. Do ye therefore pray, and I will speak to the Augusta.'

"The next day the chamberlain Amantius sent two deacons to bid us come to the Palace, and we arose and proceeded with all expedition. And we found him awaiting us, and he took the two bishops and introduced them to the Empress Eudoxia. And when she saw them she saluted them first and said, 'Give me your blessing, fathers,' and they did obeisance to her. Now she was sitting on a golden sofa. And she said to them, 'Excuse me, priests of Christ, on account of my situation, for I was anxious to meet your sanctity in the antechamber. But pray God on my behalf that I may be delivered happily of the child which is in my womb.' And the bishops, wondering at her condescension, said, 'May He who blessed the wombs of Sarah and Rebecca and Elizabeth, bless and quicken the child in thine.' After further edifying conversation, she said to them, 'I know why ye came, as the castrensis Amantius explained it  p144  to me. But if you are fain to instruct me, fathers, I am at your service.' Thus bidden, they told her all about the idolaters, and the impious rites which they fearlessly practised, and their oppression of the Christians, whom they did not allow to hold a public office nor to till their lands 'from whose produce they pay the dues to your Imperial sovereignty.' And the Empress said, 'Do not despond; for I trust in the Lord Christ, the Son of God, that I shall persuade the Emperor to do those things that are due to your saintly faith and to dismiss you hence well treated. Depart, then, to your privacy, for you are fatigued, and pray God to co-operate with my request.' She then commanded money to be brought, and gave three handfuls of money to the bishops, saying, 'In the meantime take this for your expenses.' And the bishops took the money and blessed her abundantly and departed. And when they went out they gave the greater part of the money to the deacons who were standing at the door, reserving little for themselves.

"And when the Emperor came into the apartment of the Empress, she told him all touching the bishops, and requested him that the heathen temples of Gaza should be pulled down. But the Emperor was put out when he heard it, and said, 'I know that city is devoted to idols, but it is loyally disposed in the matter of taxation and pays a large sum to the revenue. If then we overwhelm them with terror of a sudden, they will betake themselves to flight and we shall lose so much of the revenue. But if it must be, let us afflict them partially, depriving idolaters of their dignities and other public offices, and bid their temples be shut up and be used no longer. For when they are afflicted and straitened on all sides they will recognise the truth; but an extreme measure coming suddenly is hard on subjects.' The Empress was much vexed at this reply, for she was ardent in matters of faith, but she merely said, 'The Lord can assist his servants the Christians, whether we consent or decline.'

"We learned these details from the chamberlain Amantius. On the morrow the Augusta sent for us, and having first saluted the bishops according to custom, she bade them sit down. And after a long spiritual talk, she said, 'I spoke to the Emperor, and he was somewhat displeased. But do not despond, for, God willing, I cannot cease until ye be satisfied and depart,  p145  having succeeded in your pious purpose.' And the bishops made obeisance. Then the sainted Porphyrius, moved by the spirit, and recollecting the word of the thrice blessed anchoret Procopius, said to the Empress: 'Exert yourself for the sake of Christ, and in recompense for your exertions He can bestow on you a son whose life and reign you will see and enjoy for many years.' At these words the Empress was filled with joy, and her face flushed, and new beauty beyond that which she already had passed into her face; for the outward appearance shows what passes within. And she said, 'Pray, fathers, that according to your word, with the will of God, I may bear a male child, and if it so befall, I promise you to do all that ye ask. And another thing, for which ye ask not, I intend to do with the consent of Christ; I will found a church at Gaza in the centre of the city. Depart then in peace, and rest quiet, praying constantly for my happy delivery; for the time of the birth is near.' The bishops commended her to God and left the Palace. And prayer was made that she should bear a male child; for we believed in the words of Saint Procopius the anchoret.

"And every day we used to visit John, the archbishop, and had the fruition of his pious discourse, sweeter than honey and the honey comb. And Amantius the chamberlain used to come to us, sometimes bearing messages from the Empress, at other times merely to pay a visit. And after a few days she brought forth a male child [April 10], and he was called Theodosius after his grandfather Theodosius, the Spaniard, who reigned along with Gratian. And the child Theodosius was born in the purple, wherefore he was proclaimed Emperor at his birth. And there was great joy in the city, and men were sent to the cities of the Empire, bearing the good news, with gifts and bounties.

"But the Empress, who had only just been delivered, sent Amantius to us with this message: 'I thank Christ that God bestowed on me a son, on account of your holy prayers. Pray, then, fathers, for his life and for my lowly self, in order that I may fulfil those things which I promised you, Christ himself again consenting through your holy prayers.' And when the seven days of her lying-in were fulfilled, she sent for us and met us at the door of the chamber, carrying in her arms the infant in the purple robe. And she inclined her head and said, 'Draw  p146  nigh, fathers, unto me and the child which the Lord granted to me through your holy prayers.' And she gave them the child that they might seal it (with God's signet). And the bishops sealed both her and the child with the seal of the cross, and, offering a prayer, sat down. And when they had spoken many words full of edification, the lady says to them, 'Do ye know, fathers, what I resolved to do in regard to your affair?' [Here Porphyrius related a dream which he had dreamed the night before; then Eudoxia resumed:] 'If Christ permit, the child will be privileged to receive baptism in a few days. Do ye then depart and compose a petition and insert in it all the requests ye wish to make. And when the child comes forth from the baptismal rite, give the petition to him who holds the child in his arms; and I shall instruct him what to do.' Having received these directions we blessed her and the infant and went out. Then we composed the petition, inserting many things in the document, not only as to the overthrow of the idols but also that privileges and revenue should be granted to the holy Church and the Christians; for the Church was poor.

"The days ran by, and the day on which the young Emperor Theodosius was to be baptized arrived. And all the city was crowned with garlands and decked out in garments made of silk and gold jewels and all kind of ornaments, so that no one could describe the adornment of the city. One might behold the inhabitants, multitudinous as the waves, arrayed in all manner of garments. But it is beyond my power to describe the brilliance of that pomp; it is a task for those who are practised writers, and I shall pursue my true history. When the young Theodosius was baptized and came forth from the church to the Palace, you might behold the magnificence of the multitude of the magnates and their dazzling raiment, for all were dressed in white, and you would have thought they were covered with snow. The patricians headed the procession, with the illustres and all the other ranks, and the military contingents, all carrying wax candles, so that the stars seemed to shine on earth. And close to the infant, which was carried in arms, was the Emperor Arcadius himself, his face cheerful and more radiant than the purple robe he was wearing, and one of the magnates carried the infant in brilliant apparel. And we marvelled, beholding such glory. . . .

 p147  "And we stood at the portal of the church, with our petition, and when he came forth from the baptism we called aloud, saying, 'We petition your Piety,' and held out the paper. And he who carried the child seeing this, and knowing our business, for the Empress had instructed him, bade the paper be showed to him, and when he received it halted. And he commanded silence, and having unrolled a part he read it, and folding it up, placed his hand under the head of the child and cried out, 'His majesty has ordered the requests contained in the petition to be ratified.' And all having seen marvelled and did obeisance to the Emperor, congratulating him that he had the privilege of seeing his son an emperor in his lifetime; and he rejoiced thereat. And that which had happened for the sake of her son was announced to the Empress, and she rejoiced and thanked God on her knees. And when the child entered the Palace, she met it and received it and kissed it, and holding in her arms greeted the Emperor, saying, 'You are blessed, my lord, for the things which your eyes have beheld in your lifetime.' And the king rejoiced thereat. And the Empress, seeing him in good humour, said, 'Please let us learn what the petition contains that its contents may be fulfilled.' And the Emperor ordered the paper to be read, and when it was read, said, 'The request is hard, but to refuse is harder, since it is the first mandate of our son.' "

The petition was granted, and Eudoxia arranged a meeting between the quaestor, the minister on whom it devolved to draft the Imperial rescripts, and the bishops, that all the wishes of the latter might be incorporated in the edict. The execution of it, which was invidious and required a strong hand and will, was entrusted to Cynegius, and the bishops returned to Palestine, having received considerable sums of money from the Empress and Emperor, as well as the funds which the Empress had promised for the erection of a church at Gaza.

This narrative gives us an idea of the kind of little dramas that probably lay behind many of the formal decrees and rescripts preserved in the Imperial Codes. The wonder of the provincial bishops at the splendid apparel of the great of the earth, their edifying spiritual conversations with the Empress, with the eunuch, and with the archbishop, the ruse of Eudoxia to compass the success of the petition, all such details help  p148  us to realise the life of the time; while the hesitation of the pious Arcadius to root out the heathen "abominations" because the heathen were respectable taxpayers shows that even he, when the ghostly and worldly policies of the Empire clashed, was more inclined to be Emperor than churchman.

To return to Chrysostom. When he performed the ceremony of baptizing the Emperor's son and heir, there must have been a reconciliation with the court, but Eudoxia could not forget the incident, and henceforward she would be at least disposed to lend a patient ear to his enemies. And his enemies were many, both in clerical and in secular circles. Among the fashionable ladies who were particularly offended by his castigations of female manners were three who were intimate friends of the Empress — Marsa, wife of Promotus, in whose house Eudoxia had been brought up; Castricia, the wife of Saturninus, whom Chrysostom had helped to rescue from the vengeance of Gaïnas; and Eugraphia, whose house was a centre for all those who detested him.​105 It is easy to imagine how easily they could continue to poison Eudoxia's mind against a priest who was exceptionally tactless by twisting his invectives against the foibles of women into personal attacks upon herself.

But the agitation of irresponsible enemies might not have shaken his position, if he had not committed indiscretions in the domain of ecclesiastical policy. Antoninus, the bishop of Ephesus, had been accused of simony and other offences, and Chrysostom was appealed to. He determined to investigate the matter on the spot, and set out in the winter of A.D. 401.​106 The inquiry disclosed abuses in many of the churches of western Asia Minor, and Chrysostom acted with more zeal than wariness. He deposed and replaced at least thirteen bishops, exceeding the rights of his jurisdiction, and, it was said, not giving a fair hearing to the cases. Naturally he stirred up many new enemies.

He was absent five months from Constantinople. He had deputed an eloquent Syrian, Severian, bishop of Gabala, to act for him during his absence. Severian seems to have joined the league of his enemies, and there was an open rupture between him and Serapion the deacon. When the Patriarch returned he found his own See disorganised, and a local council was held  p149  to hear the charges which Serapion brought against Severian. When Severian, who felt sure of support in high quarters, resisted the efforts of the bishops to induce him to be reconciled with the deacon, Chrysostom told him that it would be well for him to return to the see of Gabala which he had so long neglected. Severian, who seems to have entertained the ambition of replacing Chrysostom on the Patriarchal throne, now saw that he had gone too far, and he left the city. At Chalcedon he was recalled. The Empress had herself implored the Patriarch to reconcile himself with Severian. Throughout the quarrel popular opinion had been on Chrysostom's side, but it may be questioned whether his conduct was altogether creditable.​107 He yielded to Eudoxia's prayers, but it was necessary to tranquillise popular feeling, for which purpose he preached a pacific sermon which ended with the words, "Receive our brother Severian the bishop."​108 Severian responded by a sermon of which the note was likewise peace. But the peace was hollow.

A new storm from another quarter was soon to burst over Chrysostom. Theophilus, the archbishop of Alexandria, bore no goodwill to the eloquent preacher who occupied the great see which had now precedence over his own. Theophilus, whose principal claim to be remembered is the destruction of the Serapeum, the famous stronghold of paganism at Alexandria, seems, so far as we can judge from his acts, to have been a domineering and unscrupulous prelate. He had probably been spoiled by the enjoyment of power. He is described as "naturally impulsive, bold and precipitous in action, extraordinarily quarrelsome, impatient and determined in grasping at any object he had set his mind on."​109 He had hoped to secure for a candidate of his own the archiepiscopal chair of Constantinople after the death of Nectarius, and had not forgiven Chrysostom his disappointment; which was rendered particularly humiliating by the fact that Eutropius had forced him to take part in Chrysostom's consecration. Theophilus had held the heretical opinion of Origen, who rejected the anthropomorphic conception of the Deity which is suggested by many passages in the Hebrew Scripture. The same opinion was held in a monastic settlement  p150  in the desert of Nitria in Upper Egypt, over which four monks presided who were known, from their remarkable stature, as the Tall Brothers.​110 Theophilus, however, changed his view on the theological point and (A.D. 401) issued a Paschal letter condemning Origen and his disciples. He then convoked a synod, which anathematised Origen and condemned the Nitrian monks. He had other reasons for desiring the destruction of the Tall Brothers, and he obtained troops from the augustal Prefect of Egypt to arrest them. The habitations of the monks were sacked and pillaged, and the Tall Brothers with their followers, clad in sheepskins, made their way to Palestine, where the bishops, admonished by letters from Theophilus, refused them shelter. Unable to find rest for the soles of their feet, they took ship for Constantinople to place themselves under the protection of Chrysostom. He received them kindly, but would not communicate with them until their cause had been examined, and he lodged them in the church of St. Anastasia,​111 where their wants were ministered to by his deaconesses.

The piety and virtues of the Tall Brothers were well known by repute at Constantinople, and the Empress was eager to exert herself in their behalf. Meeting one of them as she was driving through the city, she stopped her carriage, asked him to pray for her, and promised to arrange that a synod should be convoked and Theophilus summoned to attend it. The monks then drew up a petition to the Emperor, setting forth their charges against their archbishop, and an Imperial messenger was sent to Alexandria to compel Theophilus to come to Constantinople and answer for his conduct at a synod to be held there.

Theophilus had already instigated Epiphanius, bishop of Constantia in Cyprus, who was an authority on heresies, to convene a synod of the Cypriot bishops to condemn the opinion of Origen, and to circulate its decisions to the sees of the Church. This had been done, and Theophilus, finding himself in an awkward position by the peremptory summons to appear as a defendant in the capital, urged Epiphanius to go in person to Constantinople and obtain Chrysostom's signature to the decree of the Cypriote council. Epiphanius, persuaded by the crafty  p151  flatteries of the Alexandrian prelate that a crisis in the Church depended on his intervention, sailed for Constantinople (early in A.D. 403). But he was not a strong ally; he was out of place and bewildered amid the intrigues of the capital. Finally he became acquainted with the Tall Brothers, and when they told him that they had read his books​112 with admiration, and remonstrated with him for condemning their writings, which he was obliged to confess he only knew from hearsay, he came to the conclusion that he had made a mistake and allowed himself to be used as a tool by Theophilus. Disgusted and dejected he set sail for home, but the fatigue and excitement had overtaxed his failing strength and he died on the voyage (May 12).

About a month later (in June) Theophilus arrived with a large retinue of bishops who came to support him from Egypt, Syria, and Asia Minor. He had been summoned to appear as an accused man before an ecclesiastical tribunal over which Chrysostom would preside, but he was determined to invert the parts, and be himself the judge, with Chrysostom at the bar. That he succeeded in his plan was due entirely to Chrysostom's indiscretions. The Empress had interested herself in the affair of the Tall Brothers, and it was due to her influence that Theophilus had been forced to come to answer for his conduct. If Chrysostom, who in that affair had shown admirable caution, had now exercised ordinary tact and self-restraint, he could have had Eudoxia entirely on his side and might have defied all the arts and intrigues of his Alexandrian rival. Eudoxia had shown her veneration for the saintly bishop Epiphanius, by asking him to pray for her infant son who was ill, and Chrysostom, offended by her graciousness towards a bishop who had been openly hostile to himself, preached a violent sermon against women, in which the word Jezebel was pronounced. The congregation interpreted it as allusive to the Empress, and the matter was soon brought to her ears.​113 She was furious at the insult, and prepared to exert all her influence to support the party which was planning the ruin of the archbishop. Theophilus, rejecting the hospitality which Chrysostom offered him, established himself in the palace of Placidia, close to the Great Palace, and his  p152  bribes, banquets, and flatteries drew thither all the ecclesiastics and fashionable ladies whom Chrysostom had offended.

Chrysostom seems hardly to have realised the danger of his position. Instead of attempting to turn away the wrath of the Empress, he adopted a weak and conciliatory attitude towards the archbishop of Alexandria. The question of the Tall Brothers, though it was now a secondary consideration, had to be disposed of before Theophilus could take any open steps against Chrysostom, and Chrysostom was invited by the Emperor to preside over an investigation into the charges they had preferred against Theophilus. But he declined on the ground that such an inquiry into things which had occurred in another diocese would be illegal. This decision at once freed Theophilus from his position as an accused person, and the board was clear for him to organise his attack on Chrysostom. A list of charges was drawn up, sufficient to move the Emperor, under his wife's influence, to summon a council to inquire into them. Witnesses were procured to substantiate the accusations.

Popular feeling ran so high in favour of Chrysostom that the authorities were afraid to hold the synod within the precincts of the city, and it met across the water in the palace of the Oak, which had been built by the Praetorian Prefect Rufinus in the suburbs of Chalcedon. Chrysostom refused to appear before a body which was packed with his enemies. The majority of the bishops present were Egyptians, prepared to do whatever their archbishop told them. The chief accuser of Chrysostom was John, his archdeacon. Among the numerous charges that were formulated for the synod to investigate were these: that he had sold the marble which Nectarius had set aside for decorating the church of St. Anastasia; that he had reviled the clergy as corrupt; that he had called Epiphanius a fool and a demon; that he had intrigued against Severian; that he received visits from women by themselves after he had sent every one else out of the room; that a bath was heated for him alone, and that after he had bathed Serapion emptied the bath so that no one else might use it; that he ate gluttonously alone, living like a Cyclops.​114 The accusations which really demanded an inquiry  p153  concerned his conduct in deposing bishops in Asia and ordaining others without due investigation of their characters.

As Chrysostom, repeatedly summoned, refused to appear and plead, he was condemned, not as guilty of the crimes which were alleged against him, but because he refused to appear, and he was formally deposed from his see. A report of the result was communicated to the Emperor, with the suggestion that it was for him and not for the Council to deal with the charge that the archbishop had spoken treasonably of the Empress.​115 Arcadius confirmed the decree in a rescript which pronounced the sentence of banishment. To the archbishop's enemies the penalty may have seemed too lenient, but it roused the indignation of the people, who would not have their idol removed by the act of a small packed assembly like the Synod of the Oak. Loud clamours were raised for the assembling of a general Council of the Church. Flocking round St. Sophia and the archiepiscopal palace, the populace made it impossible for the Imperial officers to seize Chrysostom and expel him from the city for three days. He delivered two discourses in the church, in which he referred to the Empress as a Jezebel or a Herodias. "One day she called me the thirteenth apostle, and now her name for me is Judas."​116 But he had no intention of defying the Emperor or causing a sedition. He stole out from his palace at night, surrendered himself, was taken across to the Asiatic coast, and withdrew to Praenetus near Nicomedia.

When it was discovered that he had departed, the fury of the people burst out. The city was in an uproar. The populace clamoured for the recall of their pastor, and an earthquake  p154  which at this crisis shook the city and the Great Palace was interpreted to mean that the voice of the people was the voice of God.​117 The Empress herself, who was very superstitious, was panic-stricken, and she sent one of her chamberlains with a letter to Chrysostom imploring him to return. In this conciliatory letter she disclaimed all responsibility for his exile. "Let not your Holiness suppose," she wrote, "that I was privy to what has been done. I am innocent of thy blood. Wicked and corrupt men devised this plot; God to whom I sacrifice is witness of my tears. I remember that my children were baptized by thy hands. I touched the knees of the Emperor and besought him: 'We have lost the priest, let us bring him back. Unless we restore him there is no hope for the Empire.' " Chrysostom accepted her overtures and returned. When he was back in his palace, Eudoxia sent him a verbal message. "My prayer has been fulfilled. My success is a crown more precious than my Imperial diadem. I have received the priest, restored the head to the body, the pilot to the ship, the shepherd to the flock, the bridegroom to the bridal chamber." She was generous in her amends, and the archbishop, not to be outdone in generosity, paid an extravagant tribute to her in a triumphant sermon he preached the next day in St. Sophia​118 (July). His eulogy of the Empress, who seems to have been very popular, was loudly applauded.

Chrysostom desired to regularise his position by a general Council which should inquire into his case and the proceedings of the Synod of the Oak. Theophilus began to spin new intrigues, and there were bloody frays between the populace and his partisans. Not having the countenance of the court, he did not dare to remain any longer in the city, and sailed with his followers back to Egypt.​119 If Chrysostom had now been able to control  p155  his temper, his reconciliation with the court might have been permanent, and all might have gone smoothly. But a trivial incident occurred which betrayed him into gross impoliteness towards the Empress.

Some months after his return,​120 a silver image of Eudoxia on a tall porphyry column was erected by Simplicius, Prefect of the City, in the middle of the Augusteum, and thus close to the vestibule of St. Sophia.​121 The inaugural ceremonies were of a pagan character, and accompanied by dancing and music, and the loud noise of the merriment interrupted the service in St. Sophia. Chrysostom complained to the Prefect in no measured terms, and his denunciation of the heathenish rites was taken by the Empress as a personal affront. She was an impulsive woman, and she was now ready to side with his enemies, Severian of Gabala and the rest, who were lurking for an opportunity of vengeance. Chrysostom poured fuel on the flame by a sermon which began: "Again Herodias is furiously raging, again she is dancing, again demanding the head of John on a charger."122

Chrysostom had demanded a general Council;​123 the summonses had been sent out; but Eudoxia was now eager that the Council should be so packed with his opponents that its structure would be not to rescind but to confirm the decree of the Synod of the Oak. At Christmas she and the Emperor refused to communicate with the pastor whom she had so warmly welcomed on his return, until the approaching Council should have tried his case. Theophilus refused to attend; his experiences at Constantinople did not encourage a second visit. But many  p156  of his bishops went, and he instructed them to make use of the canon of the Council of Antioch of A.D. 341, which laid down that if a bishop who had been deposed by a synod should then appeal to the secular power his deposition should be final and irrevocable. The Council met early in A.D. 404, but many supporters of Chrysostom were present; and his enemies, who did not propose to investigate the charges against him but to condemn him by virtue of the canon of Antioch, found themselves in an awkward position. For the Council of Antioch was deeply tainted with Arianism, and the canon was aimed at Athanasius. When it was suggested to them in the Emperor's presence that if the canon was to be accepted as authoritative they must subscribe to the acts of the Council in question, they were taken aback, but for very shame they promised to subscribe. It was a promise they could not possibly fulfil, for the Council was notoriously heretical. And so the matter hung fire, while Chrysostom continued to perform his ordinary duties. But Easter (April 17) was now approaching, and representations were made to the Emperor that it was impossible to allow the ceremonies of that high festival to be celebrated by a man who had been deposed and excommunicated by a synod. He was ordered to remain in his palace and not to enter the church, but he refused to comply unless he were compelled by force.

Easter Eve was the great day for the baptism of converts, and in this year there were three thousand candidates. Large multitudes assembled in St. Sophia, many having come in from the neighbouring towns. At night the church was crowded, when a body of soldiers entered and scattered the congregation. Women and children fled shrieking through the streets, but the clergy succeeded in reassembling the congregation in the Baths of Constantine, and preparations were made to celebrate the services there. But the flock was again dispersed by soldiers. On Easter Day the devoted followers of Chrysostom would not attend the services in St. Sophia, and celebrated Easter in an open field beyond the walls.

For two months longer Chrysostom was allowed to remain in his palace, but was prevented from leaving it. Arcadius felt some compunction about proceeding to extremities. But at length he yielded to the pressure of Severian and the other bishops, who were urging him to tranquillise the city by removing the  p157  cause of scandal and disturbance, on June 20 an Imperial mandate was delivered to Chrysostom, ordering him to leave the city. He submitted, and allowed himself to be conducted stealthily to one of the harbours and conveyed in a boat to the Bithynian coast.

On the same night a fire broke out in St. Sophia. It began at the chair of the archbishop and, flaming upwards, caught the roof and turned round the building like a serpent. There was a high wind, and the flames, blown southward, caught the senate-house. Both buildings were destroyed, but the destruction of the senate-house was the greater misfortune, because it was a museum of precious works of classical art. The statues of the nine Muses were burned, but the Zeus of Dodona and the Athene of Lindus escaped.124

The cause of the conflagration was made a matter of judicial inquiry. Some attributed it to Chrysostom himself, others to his friends. It was made a pretext for a bitter and cruel persecution of all his adherents.​125 The deaconess Olympias was treated with great harshness; she fell ill and withdrew to Cyzicus. Many persons were punished for refusing to communicate with Arsacius,​126 the new archbishop, who was installed a few day later (June 26). He was a brother of Chrysostom's predecessor Nectarius, and was a gentle old man, whom Chrysostom's admirers described as muter than a fish and more inert than a frog. Partaking of the communion with him was a sort of test for discovering Johannites, as the followers of Chrysostom were called.

Chrysostom lived in exile for three years, at first in Cucusus on the borders of Cappadocia and Armenia, then at Arabissus.127  p158  From these places he conducted an active correspondence with his friends and admirers in all parts of Christendom, and his influence was so great that his enemies thought it prudent to procure his removal to a more remote spot, Pityus on the Euxine coast. On the way thither he died from exhaustion (September 14, A.D. 407).

The treatment of Chrysostom caused fresh trouble between the courts of Constantinople and Ravenna. Theophilus had first apprised Pope Innocent I of his deposition: letters from Chrysostom himself and his clergy, delivered a few days afterwards, probably convinced him that the proceedings had been extremely irregular, and this conviction was confirmed when he received from Theophilus a memorandum of the acts of the Synod of the Oak. He decided that the matter should be brought before a general Council, and meanwhile declined to desist from communion with the Patriarch, to whom he sent a letter of consolation. An Italian Synod was summoned, and declared the condemnation of Chrysostom illegal and demanded a general Council at Thessalonica.

Honorius had already written twice to Arcadius,​128 deploring the tumults and conflagrations which had disgraced Constantinople, and criticising the inconvenient haste with which the sentence against the condemned had been carried out before the decision of the head of the Church had been ascertained. He wrote under the influence of Innocent, and definitely asserted the doctrine that "the interpretation of divine things concerns churchmen, the observation of religion concerns us (the Emperors)." After the meeting of the Italian Synod he wrote a third letter,​129 to be carried by a deputation of bishops and priests, who were to inform his brother of the opinion of the Italian Church. The envoys had reason to repent of their expedition. Escorted by soldiers from Athens to Constantinople, they were not permitted to land in that city, but were thrown into a Thracian fortress, forcibly deprived of the letters they bore, and at last hardly allowed to return to Italy (A.D. 406). As they had  p159  been specially recommended by Honorius himself to Arcadius, the outrageous treatment they received was a grievous affront to the western court. The Eastern Emperor took no notice whatever of the proposal to summon a general Council, and the Imperial brothers seem never again to have held any communications. Honorius and Innocent could do no more; they had to abandon Chrysostom to his fate.130

The Empress Eudoxia did not live to see the later phase of the episode in which she had played a considerable part, though rather as the instrument of unscrupulous ecclesiastics than as the directress of a conspiracy against a man whose probity she certainly respected. She died on October 6, A.D. 404, of a miscarriage.131

Arcadius slumbered on his throne for three and a half years after her death, and died on May 1, A.D. 408. During this time the reins of power seem to have been in the hands of Anthemius, the Praetorian Prefect of the East, who was afterwards to prove himself an able minister.​132 One of the principal concerns of the government during these years was the condition of the southern and eastern provinces of Asia Minor, exposed to the savagery of the Isaurian brigands. Their devastations continued from A.D. 404 to 407.​133 We hear of the failure of a general to suppress them  p160  at the beginning of the movement, but we are not told how this civil war was brought to an end. Anthemius had also to keep a watchful eye on Alaric and Stilicho. To them we must now return.

The Author's Notes:

96 Copper coins of Ael. Eudoxia Aug., with Gloria Romanorum on the reverse, are ascribed by De Salis (Coins of the Eudoxias) to A.D. 400, 401, before the coronation of the child Theodosius (in Jan. 402), and her gold coins with Salus Reipublicae and a seated Victory holding the monogram of Christ (and copper coins with the same legend) to the period after that event.

97 Compare above, p109, n1, and Zosimus, V.24 πέρα τῆς φύσεως αὐθαδιζομένη.

98 Besides the monographs of Thierry, Stephens, Ludwig, Puech (see Bibliography), there is a good article by E. Venables in the Dict. of Christian Biography. The chief sources for his life are his own letters and sermons, the Dialogue of Palladius (a very partial work), and the Histories of Socrates and Sozomen.

99 For the description of such houses see the Homily on Ps. 48.17, P.G. 55.510‑511.

100 See also the verses of Gregory Naz. Κατὰ γυναικῶν καλλωπιζομένων (Carmina, I. sect. ii.29, P.G. 37.884).

101 Ep. I ad Tim., Hom. 9, P.G. 64.546.

102 Ep. ad Ephes., Hom. 15, P.G. 64.109.

103 Cp. Juvenal VI.490 sqq.; Martial II.66.

104 See the vivid picture of such a ménage in the sermon Contra eos qui subintroductas habent virgines, c. 9.

105 See Palladius, c. 4, c. 8. The author describes Eugraphia as ἀμφιμανής τις, τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ αἰδοῦμαι καὶ λέγειν.

106 Cp. Seeck, Untergang, V. p577.

107 The silence of Palladius is significant (cp. Seeck, op. cit. 577).

108 Text in Papadopolous-Kerameus, Ἀναλ. ἱεροσολ. σταχυολογίας, i.15 sqq.; Latin translation in Migne, P.G. 52, 423 sqq.

109 Palladius, c. 9.

110 Ammonius, Dioscorus (whom Theophilus made bishop of Hermupolis), Eusebius, and Euthymius.

111 On this church see Du Cange, Cplis Christiana, bk. IV pp98‑99; Paspates, Βυζ. μελέται, 368 sqq.

112 For his works on heresies, the Panarion and the Ancoratus, see the article on him by R. A. Lipsius in Dict. of Chr. Biography.

113 Socrates, VI.15, combined with Palladius, c. 8. Cp. below.

114 The proceedings of the synod are known from a summary of the Acts in Photius, Bibliotheca, 59. It sat for about a fortnight (there were 13 sessions), and there were 45 members. Palladius, c. 3, gives the number as 36, of whom 29 were Egyptians. Bishops friendly to (p153) Chrysostom did not attend. The date of the synod may probably be fixed to the end of June, or July. As Epiphanius died on May 12 (ASS. III.36) on his voyage to Cyprus, he must have left the city early in May. A short time elapsed before the arrival of Theophilus (οὐ πολὺς ἐν μέσῳ χρόνος, Socrates, VI.15), who spent three weeks in organising the opposition to Chrysostom (τρεῖς ἐβδομάδας ἡμερῶν, Pallad. c. 8). This gives the middle of June as the earliest date for the opening of the synod, and the beginning of July as the earliest date for Chrysostom's exile. On the other hand, the synod cannot be placed later than some time in July. This accords with the indication of Palladius, in c. 9, παρίππασαν μῆνες ἐννέα ἢ δέκα, sc. from the first exile of Chrysostom to Lent or Easter 404, as the context shows. Cp. Tillemont, Mém. ecc. XI. p601.

115 By calling her Jezebel. See Palladius, c. 8. This charge was not formally included in the list of charges presented to the synod, and did not appear in the Acta.

116 Homilia ante exilium, P.G. 52, 437; the other text, 427 sqq., seems to be a second version of the same discourse. As Seeck has observed, it was doubtless taken down in shorthand (ὑπὸ τῶν ὀξυγράφων, Socrates, VI.4).

117 The earthquake is recorded only by Theodoret, V.34.5 σεισμοῦ δὲ μεγίστου νύκτωρ γεγενημένουκº αἰ δείματος τὴν βασιλίδα κατεσχηκότος, and has been generally supposed to explain the vague words of Palladius, c. 9 ad init., θραῦσίν τινά γενέσθαι ἐν τῶ κοιτῶνι. Seeck (op. cit. p582) questions the earthquake and conjectures that the θραῦσις was the death of one of the Imperial children (Flaccilla). I cannot think that such an occurrence would have been referred to in this way.

118 See the Homily after his return, P.G. 52, 443 sqq.

119 Socrates, VI.17, whose story shows that Theophilus remained some time in the capital or its neighbourhood after Chrysostom's return. From Palladius, c. 9 ad init., and from Chrysostom's letter to Innocent (apud Pallad. c. 2), one would suppose he had sailed almost immediately, but these narratives are very condensed. Sozomen, VIII.19, dates his departure (p155) at the beginning of winter, and Seeck has therefore dated the Synod of the Oak to September (op. cit. p584), which contradicts the other evidence. I take Sozomen's statement to be an error.

120 Palladius, ib., says that μετὰ δύο μῆνας πάλιν his enemies began to recover and seek new means of deposing him. He says nothing of Eudoxia's statue, so that this incident which is related by Socrates (VI.18) may have occurred somewhat later than September.

121 The stylobate was discovered in 1848, with the inscriptions, on one side, D N Aeliae Eudoxiae semper Augustae vir clarissimus Simplicius Prf. U. dedicavit; on the other the hexameters

κίονα πορφυρέην καὶ ῤγυρέην βασίλειαν
δέρκεο, ἔνθα πόληι θεμιστεύουσιν ἄνακτες.
οὐνομα δ’ εἰ ποθέεις, Εὐδόξια· τίς δ’ ἀνέθηκεν;
Σιμπλίκιος, μεγάλων ὑπάτων γένος, ἐσθλὸς ὑπαρχος.

See CIL III.736; Paspates, Βυζ. ἀνάκτορα, p97. Cp. Marcellinus, Chron., sub a.

122 Socrates, ib. The homily which is preserved containing these words (P.G. 59, 485) is generally considered a fabrication, but Seeck defends it (op. cit. p583).

123 His position had been provisionally regularised by a meeting or synod of about 60 bishops, who declared his condemnation illegal (Sozomen, VIII.19).

124 Zosimus, V.24.6. He (i.e. Eunapius) considers the party of Chrysostom responsible for the fire.

125 The investigation was conducted by Studius, Prefect of the City, and he acted with great severity. See Socrates, VI.18, 19; Sozomen, VIII.23, 24; Palladius, c. 20. Tigrius, a presbyter, was tortured till his bones were dislocated; Serapion was cruelly beaten, and his teeth knocked out. Olympias was harshly treated and withdrew to Cyzicus. Socrates seems to be wrong in ascribing the cruelties to Optatus, who was a pagan and succeeded Studius not before September; but Optatus may have afterwards sought to force the clergy to communicate with Arsacius. As the inquisition led to no results the imprisoned clergy were released at the end of August (C. Th. XVI.2.37).

126 His tenure of the see was brief. He died Nov. 11, 405, and was succeeded by Atticus in March 406.

127 In common with the inhabitants of these regions he endured considerable distress and anxiety from the depredations of the Isaurians, who wasted the villages round Cucusus, and slaughtered the villagers. We learn about their doings in his letters.

128 One of these letters is preserved, Coll. Avell., Ep. 38 (or Mansi, III.1122), probably written in July 404. He refers in it to the criticisms which the Imperial honours conferred on Eudoxia had evoked: quamvis super imagine muliebri novo exemplo per provincias circumlata et diffusa per universum orbem obtrectantium fama litteris aliis commonuerim, etc.

129 Quoted in Palladius, c. 3.

130 Theophilus wrote an Apologia for his own conduct, with violent invectives against Chrysostom. He sent it to Jerome, who translated it into Latin (Epp. 113, 114), and we have some extracts from it in the Pro defensione trium capit. of Facundus. Chrysostom is denounced as a sacrilegious persecutor, not a Christian, but "worse than Belshazzar," a blasphemer against Christ who delighted the Arians; in the next world he will suffer eternal punishment. Theophilus probably was genuinely convinced that his adversary was a very bad man.

131 Eunapius, apud Photium, Bibl. 77, Date: Chron. Pasch., sub a. A few days before her death, there was a terrible shower of hail at Constantinople (ib.), which the populace said was a mark of divine displeasure at the persecution of Chrysostom (Socrates, VI.19); perhaps it also alarmed Eudoxia. This particular hailstorm may have been in the mind of Philostorgius when he wrote XI.7. It seems probable that it was just after these occurrences that an amnesty was granted to the Johannites. The date depends on a passage in Synesius, Ep. 66 τουτὶ μὲν ἔτος τρίτος ἐξήκει μετὰ τὴν ἀμνηστίαν. Seeck has given reasons for dating the letter to the end of 407, and drawn the inference (op. cit. 585‑586).

132 He was already Prefect on July 10, 405 (C. Th. VII.10.1), and had been raised to the rank of Patrician before April 28, 406 (ib. IX.34.10). He was grandson of Philippus, Praet. Pr. in 346. He had been comes sacr. larg. in 400, then mag. off., and was consul in 405.

133 For 404 and the campaign of Arbazacius see Zosimus, V.25, who says that this incompetent commander escaped punishment by bribing Eudoxia; Eunapius, frr. 84, 86; Marcellinus, Chron., sub 405; Sozomen, VIII.25 (all the cities between Caria and Phoenicia devastated). Philostorgius, XI.8, says that they subdued Cyprus. During the following years (p160) their ravages can be traced in Chrysostom's letters; see Clinton, F.R. sub annis. — For the Armenian Arbazacius cp. CIL VI.31978. He may be the same as the Ἀρταβάζακος in Synesius, Epp. 134.— Isaurians on vessels in the Cilician ports are vividly described by Ammianus, XIV.2.1.

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