Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. II: The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen.: Eutropius the Reader, and the Blessed Olympian, and the Presbyter Tigrius, are persecuted on account of their Attachment to John. The Patriarchs.Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Chapter XXIV.—Eutropius the Reader, and the Blessed Olympian, and the Presbyter Tigrius, are persecuted on account of their Attachment to John. The Patriarchs.
Eutropius, a reader, 1614 was required to name the persons who had set fire to the church; but although he was scourged severely, although his sides and cheeks were torn with iron nails, and although lighted torches were applied to the most sensitive parts of his body, no confession could be extorted from him, notwithstanding his youth and delicacy of constitution. After having been subjected to these tortures, he was cast into a dungeon, where he soon afterwards expired.
A dream of Sisinius concerning Eutropius seems worthy of insertion in this history. Sisinius, the bishop of the Novatians, saw in his sleep a man, conspicuous for beauty and stature, standing near the altar of the church which the Novatians erected to the honor of Stephen, the proto-martyr; the man complained of the rarity of good men, and said that he had been searching throughout the entire city, and had found but one who was good, and that one was Eutropius. Astonished at what he had seen, Sisinius made known the dream to the most faithful of the presbyters of his church, and commanded him to seek Eutropius wherever he might be. The presbyter rightly conjectured that this Eutropius could be no other than he who had been so barbarously tortured by the prefect, and went from prison to prison in quest of him. At length he found him, and in conversation with him made known the dream of the bishop, and besought him with tears to pray for him. Such are the details we possess concerning Eutropius.
Great fortitude was evinced in the midst of these calamities by Olympias, the deaconess. p. 415 Being dragged for this reason before the tribunal, and interrogated by the prefect as to her motives in setting fire to the church, she replied, “My past life ought to avert all suspicion from me, for I have devoted my large property to the restoration of the temples of God.” The prefect alleged that he was well acquainted with her past course of life. “Then,” continued she, “you ought to appear in the place of the accuser and let another judge us.” As the accusation against her was wholly unsubstantiated by proofs, and as the prefect found that he had no ground on which he could justly blame her, he changed to a milder charge as if desirous of advising her, finding fault with her and the other women, because they refused communion with his bishop, although it was possible for them to repent and to change their own circumstances. They all through fear deferred to the advice of the prefect, but Olympias said to him, “It is not just that, after having been publicly calumniated, without having had anything proved against me in the courts, I should be obliged to clear myself of charges totally unconnected with the accusation in question. Let me rather take counsel concerning the original accusation that has been preferred against me. For even if you resort to unlawful compulsion, I will not hold communion with those from whom I ought to secede, nor consent to anything that is not lawful to the pious.” The prefect, finding that he could not prevail upon her to hold communion with Arsacius, dismissed her that she might consult the advocates. On another occasion, however, he again sent for her and condemned her to pay a heavy fine, for he imagined by this means she would be compelled to change her mind. But she totally disregarded the loss of her property, and quitted Constantinople for Cyzicus. Tigrius, a presbyter, was about the same period stripped of his clothes, scourged on the back, bound hand and foot, and stretched on the rack. He was a barbarian by race, and a eunuch, but not by birth. He was originally a slave in the house of a man in power, and on account of his faithful services had obtained his freedom. He was afterwards ordained as presbyter, and was distinguished by his moderation and meekness of disposition, and by his charity towards strangers and the poor. Such were the events which took place in Constantinople.
Meanwhile Siricius had died, after having administered the bishopric of Rome fifteen years. Anastasius held the same bishopric three years, and then died, and was succeeded by Innocent. Flavian, who refused his consent to the deposition of John, was also dead; and Porphyry, being appointed to succeed him in the church of Antioch, where he agreed with those who had condemned John, many of those in Syria seceded from the church in Antioch, and because they made congregations among themselves, they were subjected to many cruelties. For the purpose of enforcing fellowship with Arsacius, and with this Porphyry and Theophilus, the bishop of Alexandria, a law was established, by the zeal of the powerful at court, that those who were orthodox should not assemble outside of the churches, and those who were not in communion with them should be expelled.
Pallad. Dialog., ibid. Soz. has an independent chapter in large part.
Next: Since these Ills existed in the Church, Secular Affairs also fell into Disorder. The Affairs of Stilicho, the General of Honorius.
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