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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:
The Ecclesiastical History, Dialogues, and Letters of Theodoret.: How Flavianus and Diodorus gathered the church of the orthodox in Antioch.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXII.—How Flavianus and Diodorus gathered the church of the orthodox in Antioch763

Now Flavianus and Diodorus, like break-waters, broke the force of the advancing waves. Meletius their shepherd had been constrained to sojourn far away. But these looked after the flock, opposing their own courage and cunning to the wolves, and bestowing due care upon the sheep. Now that they were driven away from under the cliff they fed their flocks by the banks of the neighbouring river. They could not brook, like the captives at Babylon, to hang their p. 127 harps upon the willows, 764 but they continued to hymn their maker and benefactor in all places of his dominion. 765 But not even in this spot was the meeting of the pious pastors of them that blessed the Lord suffered by the foe to be assembled. So again this pair of excellent shepherds gathered their sheep in the soldiers training ground and there tried to show them their spiritual food in secret. Diodorus, in his wisdom and courage, like a clear and mighty river, watered his own and drowned the blasphemies of his opponents, thinking nothing of the splendour of his birth, and gladly undergoing the sufferings of the faith.

The excellent Flavianus, who was also of the highest rank, thought piety the only nobility, 766 and, like some trainer for the games, anointed the great Diodorus 767 as though he had been an athlete for five contests. 768

At that time he did not himself preach at the services of the church, but furnished an abundant supply of arguments and scriptural thoughts to preachers, who were thus able to aim their shafts at the blasphemy of Arius, while he as it were handed them the arrows of his intelligence from a quiver. Discoursing alike at home and abroad he easily rent asunder the heretics nets and showed their defences to be mere spiders webs. He was aided in these contests by that Aphraates whose life I have written in my Religious History, 769 and who, preferring the welfare of the sheep to his own rest, abandoned his cell of discipline and retirement, and undertook the hard toil of a shepherd. Having written on these matters in another work I deem it now superfluous to recount the wealth of virtue which he amassed, but one specimen of his good deeds I will proceed now to relate, as specially appropriate to this history.



Cf. ante, ii. 19, page 85.


Psalm cxxxvii


Psalm ciii. 22


cf. “Virtus sola nobilitas.”


Diodorus was now a presbyter. Chrysost. (Laus Diodori §4. tom. iii. p. 749) describes how the whole city assembled and were fed by his tongue flowing with milk and honey, themselves meanwhile supplying his necessities with their gifts. Valens retorted with redoubled violence, and anticipated the “noyades” of Carrier at Lyons. cf. Socrates iv. 17 and Dict. Christ. Biog. ii. 529.


The five contests of the complete athlete are summed up in the line

λμα, ποδωκείην, δίσκον, ἄκοντα, πάλην


Relig. Hist. viii.

Next: Of the holy monk Aphraates.

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