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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. II: The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus.: John draws down upon Himself the Displeasure of Many Persons of Rank and Power. Of the Eunuch Eutropius.

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Chapter V.—John draws down upon Himself the Displeasure of Many Persons of Rank and Power. Of the Eunuch Eutropius.

As long as John was in conflict with the clergy only, machinations against him were utterly powerless; but when he proceeded to rebuke many of those in public office also with immoderate vehemence, the tide of unpopularity began to set against him with far greater impetus. Hence many stories were told to his disparagement. And most of these found attentive and believing listeners. This growing prejudice was not a little increased by an oration which he pronounced at that time against Eutropius. For Eutropius was the chief eunuch of the imperial bed-chamber, and the first of all eunuchs that was admitted to the dignity of consul. He, desiring to inflict vengeance on certain persons who had taken refuge in the churches, induced the emperors to make a law 841 excluding delinquents from the privilege of sanctuary, and authorizing the seizure of those who had sought the shelter of the sacred edifices. But its author was punished for this almost immediately; for scarcely had the law been promulgated, before Eutropius himself, having incurred the displeasure of the emperor, fled for protection to the church. 842 The bishop therefore, while Eutropius trembling with fear lay under the table of the altar, mounting the pulpit 843 from which he was accustomed to address the people in order to be the more distinctly heard, uttered an invective against him: wherefore he seemed to create greater displeasure in some, as he not only denied compassion to the unfortunate, but added insult to cruelty. By the emperor’s order however, for certain offences committed by him, Eutropius, though bearing the consulate, was decapitated, and his name effaced from the list of consuls, that of Theodore his colleague being alone suffered to remain as in office for that year. 844 It is said that John afterwards used the same license towards Gaïnas also, who was then commander-in-chief of the army; treating him with characteristic rudeness, because he had presumed to request the emperor to assign the Arians, with whom he agreed in sentiment, one of the churches within the city. Many others also of the higher orders, for a variety of causes, he censured with the same unceremonious freedom, so that by these means he created many powerful adversaries. Wherefore Theophilus bishop of Alexandria, immediately after his ordination, was plotting his overthrow; and concerted measures for this purpose in secret, both with the friends who were around him, and by letter with such as were at a distance. For it was not so much the boldness with which John lashed whatever was obnoxious to him, that affected Theophilus, as his own failure to place his favorite presbyter Isidore in the episcopal chair of Constantinople. In such a state were the affairs of John the bishop at that time; mischief thus threatened him at the very commencement of his episcopate. But we shall enter into these things more at large as we proceed.



Sozomen (VIII. 7) says that this law was rescinded very soon afterwards.


See also Chrysostom, Orat. in Eutropium, 1. 3 (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IX. p. 251). From these statements it appears that Zosimus is in error when he says (V. 18) that Eutropius was seized in violation of the law of sanctuary and taken out of the church. Chrysostom assigns his seizure to a time when he had left the church for some purpose or other.


μβων, high reading-desk from which the Scriptures were recited, situated toward the middle of the church and distinguished from the altar, where the main service of worship was chanted. Bishops were accustomed to preach from the steps of the altar (cf. Bingham Christ. Antiq. VIII. 4. 5); but Chrysostom, on account of his little stature, as some say, used the ‘ambôn’ as a pulpit.


399 a.d.

Next: Gaïnas the Goth attempts to usurp the Sovereign Power; after filling Constantinople with Disorder, he is slain.