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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:
The Ecclesiastical History, Dialogues, and Letters of Theodoret.: Of Artemius the Duke. Of Publia the Deaconess and her divine boldness.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XIV.—Of Artemius the Duke. 639 Of Publia the Deaconess and her divine boldness.

Artemius 640 commanded the troops in Egypt. He had obtained this command in the time of Constantine, and had destroyed most of the idols. For this reason Julian not only confiscated his property but ordered his decapitation.

These and like these were the deeds of the man whom the impious describe as the mildest and least passionate of men.

I will now include in my history the noble story of a right excellent woman, for even women, armed with divine zeal, despised the mad fury of Julian.

In those days there was a woman named Publia, of high reputation, and illustrious for deeds of virtue. For a short time she wore the yoke of marriage, and had offered its most goodly fruit to God, for from this fair soil sprang John, who for a long time was chief presbyter at Antioch, and was often elected to the apostolic see, but from time to time declined the dignity. She maintained a company of virgins vowed to virginity for life, and spent her time in praising God who had made and saved her. One day the emperor was passing by, and as they esteemed the Destroyer an object of contempt and derision, they struck up all the louder music, chiefly chanting those psalms which mock the helplessness of idols, and saying in the words of David “The idols of the nations are of silver and gold, the work of men’s hands,” 641 and after describing their insensibility, they added “like them be they that make them and all those that trust in them.” 642 p. 103 Julian heard them, and was very angry, and told them to hold their peace while he was passing by. She did not however pay the least attention to his orders, but put still greater energy into their chaunt, and when the emperor passed by again told them to strike up “Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered.” 643 On this Julian in wrath ordered the choir mistress to be brought before him; and, though he saw that respect was due to her old age, he neither compassionated her gray hairs, nor respected her high character, but told some of his escort to box both her ears, and by their violence to make her cheeks red. She however took the outrage for honour, and returned home, where, as was her wont, she kept up her attack upon him with her spiritual songs, 644 just as the composer and teacher of the song laid the wicked spirit that vexed Saul.


Footnotes

102:639

By the Constitution of Constantine the supreme military command was given to a “Magister equitum” and a “Magister peditum.” Under them were a number of “Duces” and “Comites,” Dukes and Counts, with territorial titles.

102:640

Ammianus Marcellinus (XXII. 11) says, “Artemius ex duce Ægypti, Alexandrinis urgentibus, atrocium criminum mole, supplicio capitali multatus est.”

102:641

Psalm cxv. 4

102:642

Psalm cxv. 8

103:643

Psalm lxvii. 1

103:644

Cf. Eph. v. 19


Next: Of the Jews; of their attempt at building, and of the heaven-sent plagues that befel them.

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