Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Ecclesiastical History, Dialogues, and Letters of Theodoret.: Of Eusebius, bishop of Samosata, and others.
Chapter XIII.—Of Eusebius, bishop of Samosata, and others.
Of the courage and prudence shewn by Eusebius after he had received the imperial edict which commanded him to depart into Thrace, I think all who have been hitherto ignorant should hear. 713
The bearer of this edict reached his destination in the evening, and was exhorted by Eusebius to keep silent and conceal the cause of his coming. “For,” said the bishop, “the multitude has been nurtured in divine zeal, and should they learn why you have come they will drown you, and I shall be held responsible for your death.” After thus speaking and performing evening service, as he was wont, the old man started out alone on foot, at nightfall. He confided his intentions to one of his household servants who followed him carrying nothing but a cushion and a book. When he had reached the bank of the river (for the Euphrates runs along the very walls of the town) he embarked in a boat and told the oarsmen to row to Zeugma. 714 When it was day the bishop had reached Zeugma, and Samosata was full of weeping and wailing, for the above mentioned domestic reported the orders given him to the friends of Eusebius, and told them whom he wished to travel with him, and what books they were to convey. Then all the congregation bewailed the removal of their shepherd, and the stream of the river was crowded with voyagers.
When they came where he was, and saw their beloved pastor, with lamentations and groanings they shed floods of tears, and tried to persuade him to remain, and not abandon the sheep to the wolves. But all was of no avail, and he read them the apostolic law which clearly bids us be subjects to magistrates and authorities. 715 When they had heard him some brought him gold, some silver, some clothes, and others servants, as though he were starting for some strange and distant land. The bishop refused to take anything but some slight gifts from his more intimate friends, and then gave the whole company his instruction and his prayers, and exhorted them to stand up boldly for the apostolic decrees.
Then he set out for the Danube, while his friends returned to their own town, and encouraged one another as they waited for the assaults of the wolves.
In the belief that I should be wronging them were the warmth and sincerity of their faith to lack commemoration in my history I shall now proceed to describe it.
The Arian faction, after depriving the flock of their right excellent shepherd, set up another bishop in his place; but not an inhabitant of the city, were he herding in indigence or blazing in wealth, not a servant, not a handicraftsman, not a hind, not a gardener, nor man nor woman, whether young or old, came, as had been their wont, to gatherings in church. The new bishop lived all alone; not a soul looked at him, or exchanged a word with him. Yet the report is that he behaved with courteous moderation, of which the following instance is a proof. On one occasion he had expressed a wish to bathe, so his servants shut the doors of the bath, and kept out all who wished to come in. When he saw the crowd before the doors he ordered them to be thrown open, and directed that every one should freely use the bath. He exhibited the same conduct in the halls within; for on observing certain men standing by him while he bathed he begged them to share the hot water with him. They stood silent. Thinking their hesitation was due to a respect for him, he quickly arose and made his way out, but these persons had really been of opinion that even the water was affected with the pollution of his heresy, and so sent it all down the sinks, while they ordered a fresh supply to be provided for themselves. On being informed of this the intruder departed from the city, for he judged that it was insensate and absurd on his part to continue to reside in a city which detested him, and treated him as a common foe. On the departure of Eunomius (for this was his name) from Samosata, Lucius, an unmistakable wolf, and enemy of the sheep, was appointed in his place. But the sheep, p. 117 all shepherdless as they were, shepherded themselves, and persistently preserved the apostolic doctrine in all its purity. How the new intruder was detested the following relation will set forth.
Some lads were playing ball in the market place and enjoying the game, when Lucius was passing by. It chanced that the ball was dropped and passed between the feet of the ass. The boys raised an outcry because they thought that their ball was polluted. On perceiving this Lucius told one of his suite to stop and learn what was going on. The boys lit a fire and tossed the ball through the flames with the idea that by so doing they purified it. I know indeed that this was but a boyish act, and a survival of the ancient ways; but it is none the less sufficient to prove in what hatred the town held the Arian faction.
Lucius however was no follower of the mildness of Eunomius, but persuaded the authorities to exile many others of the clergy, and despatched the most distinguished champions of the divine dogmas to the furthest confines of the Roman Empire; Evolcius, a deacon, to Oasis, to an abandoned village; Antiochus, who had the honour of being related to the great Eusebius, for he was his brothers son, and further distinguished by his own honourable character, and of priestly rank, to a distant part of Armenia. How boldly this Antiochus contended for the divine decrees will be seen from the following facts. When the divine Eusebius after his many conflicts, whereof each was a victory, had died a martyrs death, the wonted synod of the people was held, and among others came Jovinus then bishop of Perrha 716 who for some little time had held a communion with the Arians. Antiochus was unanimously chosen as successor to his uncle. When brought before the holy table and bidden there to bend the knee, he turned round and saw that Jovinus had put his right hand on his head. Plucking the hand away he bade him be gone from among the consecrators, saying that he could not endure a right hand which had received mysteries blasphemously celebrated.
These events happened somewhat later. At the time I am speaking of he was removed to the interior of Armenia.
The divine Eusebius was living by the Danube where the Goths were ravaging Thrace and besieging cities, as is described in his own works.
Samosata, the capital of Commagene on the Euphrates, is of interest as the birthplace of Lucian (c. 120) as well as the see of this Eusebius, the valued friend of Basil and of Gregory of Nazianzus. We shall find him mentioned again v. 4.116:714
Zeugma was on the right bank of the Euphrates, nearly opposite the ancient Apamea and Seleucia and the modern Biredjik. The name is derived from the “Zeugma” or Bridge of Boats built here by Alexander. Strabo xvi. 2. 3.116:715
Titus iii. 1117:716
Jovinus was a friend of Basil (Ep. 118) as well as of Eusebius of Samosata.
Perrha, a town of Euphratensis, is more likely to have been his see than the Perga of the commoner reading.
Next: Of the holy Barses, and of the exile of the bishop of Edessa and his companions.
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