Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Ecclesiastical History, Dialogues, and Letters of Theodoret.: Of the prediction of the pedagogue.
Chapter XVIII.—Of the prediction of the pedagogue.
Another instance is that of an excellent man at Antioch, entrusted with the charge of young lads, who was better educated than is usually the case with pedagogues, 654 and was the intimate friend of the chief teacher of that period, Libanius the far-famed sophist.
Now Libanius 655 was a heathen expecting victory and bearing in mind the threats of Julian, so one day, in ridicule of our belief he said to the pedagogue, “What is the carpenters son about now?” Filled with divine grace, he foretold what was shortly to come to pass. “Sophist,” said he, “the Creator of all things, whom you in derision call carpenters son, is making a coffin.” 656
After a few days the death of the wretch was announced. He was carried out lying in his coffin. The vaunt of his threats was proved vain, and God was glorified. 657
The word seems here used in its strictly Athenian sense of a slave who took charge of boys on their way between school and home (Vide Lycias 910. 2 and Plat. Rep. 373. C.) rather than in the more general sense of teacher. In Xen. Lac. 3. 1. it is coupled with διδάσκαλος: here it is contrasted with it.105:655
“One of the most noteworthy and characteristic figures of expiring heathenism.” J.R. Mozley, Dict. Christ. Biog. s.v. Born in Antioch a.d. 314, he died about the close of the century. He was a voluminous author, and wrote among other things a “vain, prolix, but curious narrative of his own life.” Gibbon. The most complete account of him will be found in E. R. Sievers Das Leben des Libanius.105:656
The form in the text (γλωσσόκομον) is rejected by Attic purists, but is used twice by St. John, as well as in the Septuagint. In 2 Chron. xxiv. 8 (cf. 2 Kings xii. 9) it means a chest. In John 12:6, John 13:29 it is “the bag,” properly (John 11.3) “box,” which Judas carried. In the Palatine anthology Nicanor the coffin maker makes these “glossokoma” or coffins. Derivatively the word means “tongue-cases,” i.e. cases to keep the tongues or reeds of musical instruments. An instance of similar transfer of meaning is our word “coffin;” derivatively a wicker basket;—at one time any case or cover, and in Shakespeare (Titus Andronicus Act V. 2, 189) pie crust. Perhaps “casket,” which now still holds many things, may one day only hold a corpse.105:657
In times and circumstances totally different, it may seem that Julians courtesy and moderation contrast favourably with the fierce zeal of the Christians. A modern illustration of the temper of the Church in Julians reign may be found in the following account given of his dragoman by the late author of “Eothen.” “Religion and the literature of the Church which he served had made him a man, and a brave man too. The lives of his honored Saints were full of heroic actions provoking imitation, and since faith in a creed involves faith its ultimate triumph, Dthemetri was bold from a sense of true strength; his education too, though not very general in its character, had been carried quite far enough to justify him in pluming himself upon a very decided advantage over the great bulk of the Mahometan population, including the men in authority. With all this consciousness of religious and intellectual superiority, Dthemetri had lived for the most part in countries lying under Mussulman governments, and had witnessed (perhaps too had suffered from) their revolting cruelties; the result was that he abhorred and despised the Mussulman faith and all who clung to it. And this hate was not of the dull, dry, and inactive sort; Dthemetri was in his way a true crusader, and whenever there appeared a fair opening in the defence of Islam, he was ready and eager to make the assault. Such feelings, backed by a consciousness of understanding the people with whom he had to do, made Dthemetri not only firm and resolute in his constant interviews with men in authority, but sometimes also very violent and very insulting.” Kinglakes “Eothen,” 5th Ed., p. 270.
Next: Of the Prophecy of St. Julianus the monk.
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