Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Works of Sulpitius Severus.: Chapter LI.
But Ithacius, seeing how much ill-will it would excite against him among the bishops, if he should stand forth as accuser also at the last trial on a capital charge (for it was requisite that the trial should be repeated), withdrew from the prosecution. His cunning, however, in thus acting was in vain, as the mischief was already accomplished. Well, a certain Patricius, an advocate connected with the treasury, was then appointed accuser by Maximus. Accordingly, under him as prosecutor, Priscillian was condemned to death, and along with him, Felicissimus and Armenius, who, when they were clerics, had lately adopted the cause of Priscillian, and revolted from the Catholics. Latronianus, too, and Euchrotia were beheaded. Instantius, who, as we have said above, had been condemned by the bishops, was transported to the island of Sylina 395 which lies beyond Britain. A process was then instituted against the others in trials which followed, and Asarivus, and Aurelius the deacon, were condemned to be beheaded, while Tiberianus was deprived of his goods, and banished p. 122 to the island of Sylina. Tertullus, Potamius, and Joannes, as being persons of less consideration, and worthy of some merciful treatment, inasmuch as before the trial they had made a confession, both as to themselves and their confederates, were sentenced to a temporary banishment into Gaul. In this sort of way, men who were most unworthy of the light of day, were, in order that they might serve as a terrible example to others, either put to death or punished with exile. That conduct 396 which he had at first defended by his right of appeal to the tribunals, and by regard to the public good, Ithacius, harassed 397 with invectives, and at last overcome, threw the blame of upon those, by whose direction and counsels he had effected his object. Yet he was the only one of all of them who was thrust out of the episcopate. For Ydacius, although less guilty, had voluntarily resigned his bishopric: that was wisely and respectfully done, had he not afterward spoiled the credit of such a step by endeavoring to recover the position which had been lost. Well, after the death of Priscillian, not only was the heresy not suppressed, which, under him, as its author, had burst forth, but acquiring strength, it became more widely spread. For his followers who had previously honored him as a saint, subsequently began to reverence him as a martyr. The bodies of those who had been put to death were conveyed to Spain, and their funerals were celebrated with great pomp. Nay, it came to be thought the highest exercise of religion to swear by Priscillian. But between them and our friends, a perpetual war of quarreling has been kept up. And that conflict, after being sustained for fifteen years with horrible dissension, could not by any means be set at rest. And now all things were seen to be disturbed and confused by the discord, especially of the bishops, while everything was corrupted by them through their hatred, partiality, fear, faithlessness, envy, factiousness, lust, avarice, pride, sleepiness, and inactivity. In a word, a large number were striving with insane plans and obstinate inclinations against a few giving wise counsel: while, in the meantime, the people of God, and all the excellent of the earth were exposed to mockery and insult.
Halm prefers the form “Sylinancim” to “Sylinam.” The reference is probably to the Scilly Isles.122:396
The meaning seems to be, that Ithacius being blamed for bringing accusations against his brethren, at first defended his conduct by an appeal to the laws and the public weal, both of which justified the prosecution of heretics; but being at last driven from this position, he turned round and cast the blame upon those for whom he had acted.122:397
Some read “solitus,” instead of “sollicitus.
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