History of the christian church



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(1) Exposition of the Song of Songs, 948a paraphrase in verse with a commentary and excerpts from Gregory of Nyssa, Nilus, and Maximus.

(2) A Learned Miscellany, 949in 157 paragraphs, in which nearly everything is treated of, from the relations of the persons of the Trinity to the rise of the Nile and the changes of the weather. It is one of those prodigies of learning which really indicate the comparative ignorance of the past, and are now mere curiosities.

(3) The Operations of Demons, 950an attack, in the form of a dialogue, upon the Euchites, whom he charges with revolting and disgusting crimes, under the prompting of demons. But he passes on to discuss the subject more broadly and resting on the testimony of a certain monk who had actually seen demons he teaches their perpetual activity in human affairs; that they can propagate their species; and go anywhere at will under either a male or female form. From them come diseases and innumerable woes. The book is very curious, and has permanent value as a contribution to the demonology of the Middle Ages.

Twelve letters of Psellus have been printed. 951 His panegyric upon Simeon Metaphrastes has already been mentioned. 952 He wrote a criticism of the eloquence of Gregory the Theologian, Basil, and Chrysostom, 953and celebrated these Fathers also in verse. 954

Besides certain legal and philosophical treatises he wrote a poem on Doctrine,5and a metrical Synopsis of Law. 956
§ 150. Euthymius Zigabenus.
I. Euthymius Zigabenus: Opera omnia, in Migne, Patrol. Gr., Tom, CXXVIII.-CXXXI.

II. See the Prolegomena in Migne. Ceillier, XIV. 150–155.



Euthymius Zigabenus (or Zigadenus) was a learned and able Greek monk of the order of St. Basil in the convent of the Virgin Mary near Constantinople, and enjoyed the marked favor of the emperor Alexius Comnenus (1081–1118) and his wife Anna.7 Being requested by Alexius to refute the Bogomiles, who had become alarmingly numerous, he was led to prepare an extensive work upon heresy, entitled The Panoply. 958 Among the heretics he included the Pantheists, Jews, the Pope and the Latins. His materials were the decisions of councils and the Greek Fathers and other writers, including some otherwise unknown. 959 In this important work and in separate treatises 960he imparts much valuable historical information respecting the Bogomiles, Massalians, Armenians, Paulicians, and even about the Jews and Mohammedans, although it is evident that he was not well informed about the last, and was much prejudiced against them. Like other Greeks, he finds the latter heretical upon the procession of the Holy Spirit and upon the bread of the Eucharist. Besides the Panoply, Euthymius wrote commentaries upon the Psalms, 961much dependent upon Chrysostom, and on the Gospels, 962more independent and exhibiting exegetical tact which in the judgment of some puts him next to Theophylact.
§ 151. Eustathius of Thessalonica.
I. Eustathius: Opera omnia in Migne, Patrol. Gr. Tom. CXXXV. col. 517; CXXXVI. col. 764 (reprint of L. F. Tafel’s ed. of the Opuscula. Frankfort, 1832, and appendix to De Thessalonica. Berlin, 1839. Tafel published a translation of Eustathius’ ’ jEpivskeyi" bivou monacikou'. Betrachtungen über den Mönchstand. Berlin, 1847. The valuable De capta Thessalonica narratio was reprinted from Tafel in a vol. of the "Corpus scriptorum historiae Byzantinae" (Bonn, 1842, pp. 365–512), accompanied with a Latin translation.

II. The funeral orations by Euthymius of Neopatria and Michael Choniates in Migne, Patrol. Gr. CXXXVI. col. 756–764, and CXL. col. 337–361. Fabricius: Bibliotheca Graeca, ed. Harless, XI. 282–84. Neander, IV. 530–533, and his essay, Characteristik des Bustathius von Thessalonich in seiner reformatorischen Richtung, 1841, reprinted in his "Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen," Berlin, 1851, pp. 6–21, trans. in Kitto’s "Journal of Sacred Literature," vol. IV., pp. 101 sqq.


Eustathius, archbishop of Thessalonica and metropolitan, the most learned man of his day, was born in Constantinople, and lived under the Greek emperors from John Comnenus to Isaac II. Angelus, i.e., between 1118 and 1195. His proper name is unknown, that of Eustathius having been assumed on taking monastic vows. His education was carried on in the convent of St. Euphemia, but he became a monk in the convent of St. Florus. He early distinguished himself for learning, piety and eloquence, and thus attracted the notice of the Emperor Manuel, who made him successively tutor to his son John, deacon of St. Sophia and master of petitions, a court position. In the last capacity he presented at least one petition to the Emperor, that from the Constantinopolitans during a severe drought. 963

To this period of his life probably belong those famous commentaries upon the classic authors,4by which alone he was known until Tafel published his theological and historical works. But Providence designed Eustathius to play a prominent part in practical affairs, and so the Emperor Manuel appointed him bishop of Myra, 965the capital of Lycia in Asia Minor, and ere he had entered on this office transferred him to the archbishopric of Thessalonica (1175). He was a model bishop, pious, faithful, unselfish, unsparing in rebuke and wise in counsel, "one of those pure characters so rarely met among the Greeks—a man who well knew the failings [superstition, mock-holiness and indecorous frivolity] of his nation and his times, which he was more exempt from than any of his contemporaries. 966 His courage was conspicuous on several occasions. The Emperor Manuel in a Synod at Constantinople in 1180 attempted to have abrogated the formula of adjuration, "Anathema to Mohammed’s God, of whom he says that he neither begat nor was begotten," which all who came over from Mohammedanism to Christianity had to repeat. Manuel argued that this formula was both blasphemous and prejudicial to the spread of Christianity in Islam. But Eustathius dared to brave the emperor’s rage and deny the truth of this argument. The result was a modification of the formula. 967 Although Manuel threatened to impeach Eustathius, he really did not withdraw his favor, and the archbishop was summoned to preach the sermon at the emperor’s funeral. 968 When in 1185 Thessalonica was sacked by Count Alduin acting under William II. of Sicily, Eustathius remained in the city and by direct personal effort procured some alleviation of the people’s sufferings, and defended their worship against the fanatical Latins. 969 Again, he interposed his influence to keep the Thessalonians from the rapacity of the imperial tax-gatherers. But notwithstanding his high character and unsparing exertions on behalf of Thessalonica there were enough persons there who were incensed against him by his plain speaking to effect his banishment. This probably happened during the reign of the infamous Andronicus (1180–1183), who was unfriendly to Eustathius. A brief experience of the result of his absence led to his recall, and he ended his days in increased esteem. It is strange indeed to find Eustathius and Calvin alike in their expulsion and recall to the city they had done so much to save.

His writings upon practical religious topics have great interest and value. Besides sermons upon Psalm xlviii., 970on an auspicious year, 971four during Lent, 972in which he specially inveighs against the lax marital customs, and five on different martyrs, 973he wrote an enthusiastic treatise in praise of monasticism 974if properly used, while at the same time he faithfully rebuked the common faults of the monks, their sloth, their hypocrisy and their ignorance, which had made the very name of monk a reproach. To the Stylites, 975he was particularly plain in setting forth their duty. By reason of their supposed sanctity they were sought by all classes as oracles. He seeks therefore to impress them with their responsibility, and tells them always to speak fearlessly, irrespective of person; not flattering the strong nor domineering the weak. He addressed also the laity, not only in the sermons already mentioned, but in separate treatises, 976and with great earnestness and tenderness exhorted them to obedience to their lawful rulers, and rebuked them for their hypocrisy, which was the crying sin of the day, and for their vindictiveness. He laid down the true gospel principle: love is the central point of the Christian life. His letters 977of which 75 have been published, give us a vivid picture of the time, and bear unconscious testimony to his virtue. To his Interpretation of the Pentecostal hymn of John of Damascus Cardinal Mai accords the highest praise. 978
§ 152. Nicetas Acominatos.
I. Nicetas Choniates: Opera, in Migne, Tom. CXXXIX., col. 287—CXL., col. 292. His History was edited by Immanuel Bekker in Scriptores Byzantinae. Bonn, 1835.

II. See Allatius in Migne, CXXXIX., col. 287–302. Ceillier, XIV. 1176, 1177. Karl Ullmann: Die Dogmatik der griechischen Kirche im 12. Jahrhundert, reprinted from the "Studien und Kritiken," 1833.


Nicetas Acominatos, also called Choniates, to denote his birth at Chonae the old Colossae in Phrygia, was one of the great scholars and authors of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. He was educated at Constantinople, studied law and early rose to prominence at the imperial court. He married a descendant of Belisarius; and at the time when Constantinople was taken by the crusaders (1204) he was governor of Philippopolis. He fled to Nicaea, and there died about 1216. It was during this last period of his life that he composed his Treasury of Orthodoxy,9for the consolation and instruction of his suffering fellow-religionists. This work was in twenty-seven books, but only five have been published complete, and that only in the Latin translation of Peter Morel, made from the original MS. brought to Paris from Mt. Athos. 980 Cardinal Mai has, however, given fragments of Books vi. viii. ix. x. xii. xv. xvii. xx. xxiii. xxiv. xxv., and these Migne has reprinted with a Latin translation. The work is, like the Panoply of Euthymius, a learned text-book of theology and a refutation of heresy, but it has more original matter in it, and being written by a layman and a statesman is more popular.

Book 1st is a statement of Gentile philosophy and of the errors of the Jews. Book 2d treats of the Holy Trinity, and of angels and men. Book 3d of the Incarnate Word. From Book 4th to the end the several heresies are described and combated. Nicetas begins with Simon Magus and goes down to his own day.

But his fame really rests upon his History, 981which tells the story of Byzantine affairs from 1117 to 1205; and is an able and reliable book. The closing portions interestingly describe the destruction or mutilation of the monuments in Constantinople by the Latins.
§ 153. Cassiodorus.
I. Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator: Opera omnia, in Migne, "Patrol. Lat." Tom. LXIX. col. 421-LXX. Reprint of ed. of the Benedictine Jean Garet, Rouen, 1679, 2 vols. 2d ed., Venice, 1729. The Chronicon was edited from MSS. by Theodor Mommsen, Leipzig, 1861, separately published from Abhandlungen der königlichsächsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften. Historische Klasse. Bd. III. The Liber de rhetorica, a part of his Institutiones, was edited by C. Halm, Leipzig, 1863.

II. Vita, by Jean Garet, in Migne, LXIX., col. 437–484, and De vita monastica dissertatio by the same, col. 483–498. Denis de Sainte-Marthe: Vie de Cassiodore. Paris, 1694. Olleris: Cassiodore conservateur des livres de l’antiquité latine. Paris, 1841. A. Thorbecke: Cassiodorus Senator. Heidelberg, 1867. A. Franz: Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorius Senator. Breslau, 1872. Ignazio Ciampi: I. Cassiodori nel V. e nel VI. secolo. Imola, 1876. Cf. Du Pin, V. 43–44. Ceillier, XI. 207–254. Teuffel, 1098–1104. A. Ebert, I. 473–490.


Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator 982, whose services to classical literature can not be over-estimated, was descended from an old Roman family, famous for its efficiency in state affairs. He was born about 477, at Scyllacium in Bruttium, the present Squillace in Calabria, the extreme southwest division of Italy. His father, whose name was Cassiodorus also, was pretorian prefect to Theodoric, and senator. The son, in recognition of his extraordinary abilities, was made quaestor when about twenty years of age, and continued in the service of Theodoric, as private secretary and indeed prime minister, being also with him on terms of friendship, until the latter’s death, Aug. 30, 526. He directed the administration of Amalasontha, the daughter of Theodoric, during the minority of her son Athalaric, and witnessed her downfall (535), but retained his position near the throne under Theodatus and Vitiges. He was also consul and three times pretorian prefect. He labored earnestly to reconcile the Romans to their conquerors.

But about 540 he withdrew from the cares and dangers of office, and found in the seclusion of his charming paternal domains in Bruttium abundant scope for his activities in the pursuit of knowledge and the preservation of learning. He voluntarily closed one chapter of his life, one, too, full of honor and fame, and opened another which, little as he expected it, was destined to be of world-wide importance. Cassiodorus the statesman became Cassiodorus the monk, and unwittingly exchanged the service of the Goths for the service of humanity. The place of his retirement was the monastery of Viviers (Monasterium Vivariense), at the foot of Mt. Moseius,3in southwestern Italy, which he had himself founded and richly endowed. Upon the mountain he built another monastery (Castellense) in which the less accomplished monks seem to have lived, while the society of Viviers was highly cultivated and devoted to literature. Those monks who could do it were employed in copying and correcting classical and Christian MSS., while the others bound books, prepared medicine and cultivated the garden. 984 He moved his own large library to the monastery and increased it at great expense. Thus Viviers in that sadly confused and degenerate time became an asylum of culture and a fountain of learning. The example he set was happily followed by other monasteries, particularly by the Benedictine, and copying of MSS. was added to the list of monastic duties. By this means the literature of the old classical world has come down to us. And since the initiation of the movement was given by Cassiodorus he deserves to be honored as the link between the old thought and the new. His life thus usefully spent was unusually prolonged. The year of his death is uncertain, but it was between 570 and 580.

The Works of Cassiodorus are quite numerous. They are characterized by great erudition, ingenuity and labor, but disfigured by an incorrect and artificial style. Some were written while a statesman, more while a monk. 985

1. The most important is the Miscellany,6in twelve books, a collection of about four hundred rescripts and edicts issued by Cassiodorus in the King’s name while Quaestor and Magister officiorum, and in his own name while Pretorian prefect. He gives also in the sixth and seventh books a collection of formulas for the different offices, an idea which found imitation in the Middle Age. From the Miscellany a true insight into the state of Italy in the period can be obtained. One noticeable feature of these rescripts is the amount of animation and variety which Cassiodorus manages to give their naturally stiff and formal contents. This he does by ingeniously changing the style to suit the occasion and often by interweaving a disquisition upon some relevant theme. The work was prepared at the request of friends and as a guide to his successors, and published between 534 and 538.

2. His Ecclesiastical History, called Tripartita, 987is a compilation. His own part in it is confined to a revision of the Latin condensation of Sozomen, Socrates and Theodoret, made by Epiphanius Scholasticus. It was designed by Cassiodorus to supply the omissions of Rufinus’ translation of Eusebius, and was indeed with Rufinus the monastic text-book on church history in the Middle Age. But it is by no means a model work, being obscure, inaccurate and confused.

3. The Chronicle, 988the earliest of his productions, dating from 519, is a consular list drawn from different sources, with occasional notes of historical events. Prefaced to the list proper, which goes from Junius Brutus to Theodoric, is a very defective list of Assyrian (!), Latin and Roman Kings.

4. The Computation of Easter, written in 562. 989

5. Origin and History of the Goths, originally in twelve books, but now extant only in the excerpt of Jordanis.0 In it Cassiodorus reveals his great desire to cultivate friendship between the Goths and the Romans. It dates from about 534.

6. Exposition of the Psalter. 991 This is by far the longest, as it was in the Middle Age the most influential, of his works. It was prepared in Viviers, and was begun before but finished after the Institutes 992(see below). Its chief source is Augustin. The exposition is thorough in its way. Its peculiarities are in its mystic use of numbers, and its drafts upon profane science, particularly rhetoric. 993

7. Institutions of Sacred and Secular Letters,4from 644, in two books, 995which are commonly regarded as independent works. The first book is a sort of theological encyclopaedia, intended by Cassiodorus primarily for his own monks. It therefore refers to different authors which were to be found in their library. It is in thirty-three chapters—a division pointing to the thirty-three years of our Lord’s life—which treat successively of the books of the Bible, what authors to read upon them, the arrangement of the books, church history and its chief writers, and the scheme he had devised for usefully employing the monks in copying MSS., or, if not sufficiently educated, in manual labor of various kinds. In the second book he treats in an elementary way of the seven liberal arts (grammar, rhetoric, dialectics, arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy).

8. On Orthography, 996a work of his ninety-third year, 997and a mere collection of extracts from the pertinent literature in his library.

9. The Soul, 998written at the request of friends shortly after the publication of his Miscellany. It is rather the product of learning than of thought. It treats of the soul, its nature, capacities and final destiny.

10. Notes upon some verses in the Epistles, Acts of the Apostles, and Apocalypse 999This was a product of his monastic period, strangely forgotten in the Middle Age. It was unknown to Garet, but found at Verona and published by Maffei in 1702. Besides these a Commentarium de oratione et de octo partibus orationis is attributed to him and so published. 1000 But its authorship is doubtful.
§ 154. St. Gregory of Tours.
I. St. Georgius Florentius Gregorius: Opera omnia, in Migne, Tom. LXXI. (reprint of Ruinart’s ed. Paris, 1699). The best critical edition of Gregory’s great work, Historiae Francorum libri decem, is by W. Arndt and Br. Krusch. Hannover, 1884 (Gregorii Turonensis opera pars I. in "Scriptorum rerum Merovingicarum," T. I., pars I. in the great "Monumenta Germaniae historica" series), and of his other works that by H. L. Bordier, Libri miraculorum aliaque opera minora, or with the French title, Les livres des miracles et autres opuscules de Georges Florent Grégoire, evêque de Tours. Paris, 1857- 64, 4 vols., of which the first three have the Latin text and a French translation on opposite pages, and the last, containing the De cursu stellarum and the doubtful works, the Latin only. There are several translations of the Historia Francorum into French (e.g., by Guizot. Paris, 1823, new ed. 1861, 2 vols.; by H. L. Bordier, 1859–61, 2 vols. ), and into German (e.g., by Giesebrecht, Berlin, 1851, 2 vols., 2d ed., 1878, as part of Pertz, "Geschichtsschreiber der deutschen Vorzeit"). The De cursu stellarum was discovered and first edited by F. Hasse, Breslau, 1853.

II. The Lives of Gregory, by Odo of Cluny (d. 943, valuable, ) Migne, l.c., and by Joannes Egidius (Jean Gilles of Tours, 16th cent., of small account) are given by Bordier, l.c. IV. 212–237. Modern biographies and sketches of Gregory are: C. J. Kries: De Gregorii Turonensis Episcopi vita et scriptis. Breslau, 1839. J. W. Löbell: Gregor von Tours. Leipzig, 1839, 2d ed. 1869. Gabriel Monod: Grégorie de Tours, in Tome III." Bibliothèque de l’École des hautes études." Paris, 1872 (pp. 21–146). Cf. Du Pin, V. 63. Ceillier, XI, 365–399. Hist. Lit. de la France, III. 372–397. Teuffel, pp. 1109–10. Wattenbach, I. 70 sqq. Ebert, I. 539–51. L. von Ranke: Weltgeschichte, 4ter Theil, 2te Abtheilung (Leipzig, 1883), pp. 328–368, mainly a discussion of the relation of Gregory’s Historia to Fredegar’s Historia Epitomata and to the Gesta regum Francorum. He maintains that they are independent. Cf. W. Arndt’s preface (30pp.) to edition mentioned above.


Georgius Florentius, or as he called himself on his consecration Gregorius, after his mother’s grand-father, the sainted bishop of Langres, was born in Arverna (now Clermont), 1001the principal city of Auvergne, Nov. 30., 538. His family was of senatorial rank on both sides, and its position and influence are attested by the number of bishops that belonged to it. His father (Florentius) apparently died early, and his mother (Armentaria) removed to Burgundy, her native country, but his uncle Gallus, bishop of Auvergne, who died in 554, and Avitus the successor of Gallus, cared for his education. He entered the church in discharge of a vow made at the shrine of St. Illidius, the patron saint of Arverna, during a severe and supposed fatal illness. In 563 he was ordained deacon by Avitus, and served in some ecclesiastical capacity at the court of Sigebert king of Austrasia, until in 573, at the unanimous request of the clergy and people of that city, the king appointed him bishop of Tours. Although loath to take so prominent and responsible a position, he at last consented, was consecrated by Egidius, archbishop of Rheims, and welcomed by Fortunatus in an official, which yet had more real feeling in it than such productions usually have, and was a true prophecy of Gregory’s career.

Tours was the religious centre of Gaul. The shrine of St. Martin was the most famous in the land and so frequented by pilgrims that it was the source of an immense revenue. In Alcuin’s day (eighth century) the monastery of Tours owned 20,000 serfs, and was the richest in the kingdom. Tours was also important as the frontier city of Austrasia, particularly liable to attack. The influences which secured the position to Gregory were probably personal. Several facts operated to bring it about. First, that all but five of the bishops of Tours had been members of his family (Euphronius whom he succeeded was his mother’s cousin), and further, that he was in Tours on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Martin to recover his health about the time of Euphronius’ death, and by his life there secured the love of the people. Add to this his travels, his austerities, his predominant love for religion, and his election is explained. 1002 Gregory found the position no sinecure. War broke out between Sigebert and the savage Chilperic, and Tours was taken by the latter in 575. Confusion and anarchy prevailed. Churches were destroyed, ecclesiastics killed. Might made right, and the weak went to the wall. But in that dark and tempestuous time Gregory of Tours shines like a beacon light. The persecuted found in him a refuge; the perplexed a guide; the wicked king a determined opponent. Vigilant, sleepless, untiring in his care for Tours he averted an attempt to tax it unjustly; he maintained the sanctuary rights of St. Martin against all avengers; and he put an end to partisan strifes. His influence was exerted in the neighboring country. Such was his well earned repute for holiness founded upon innumerable services that the lying accusation of Leudastes at the council of Braine (580) excited popular indignation and was refuted by his solemn declaration of innocence. 1003

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