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 persecution which took place at Edessa, and of Eulogius and Protogenes, presbyters of Edessa.
Chapter XV.—Of the persecution which took place at Edessa, and of Eulogius and Protogenes, presbyters of Edessa.
Now a second time Valens, after depriving the flock of their shepherd, had set over them in his stead a wolf. The whole population had abandoned the city, and were assembled in front of the town, when he arrived at Edessa. He had given orders to the prefect, Modestus by name, to assemble the troops under his orders who were accustomed to exact the tribute, to take all who were present of the armed force, and by inflicting blows with sticks and clubs, and using if need be their other weapons of war to disperse the gathering multitude. Early in the morning, while the prefect was executing this order, on his way through the Forum he saw a woman holding an infant in her arms, and hurrying along at great speed. She had made light of the troops, and forced her way through their ranks: for a soul fired with divine zeal knows no fear of man, and looks on terrors of this kind as ridiculous sport. When the p. 118 prefect saw her, and understood what had happened, he ordered her to be brought before him, and enquired whither she was going. “I have heard,” said she, “that assaults are being planned against the servants of the Lord; I want to join my friends in the faith that I may share with them the slaughter inflicted by you.” “But the baby,” said the prefect, “what in the world are you carrying that for?” “That it may share with me,” said she, “the death I long for.”
When the prefect had heard this from the woman and through her means discovered the zeal which animated all the people, he made it known to the emperor, and pointed out the uselessness of the intended massacre. “We shall only reap,” said he “a harvest of discredit from the deed, and shall fail to quench these peoples spirit.” He then would not allow the multitude to undergo the tortures which they had expected, and commanded their leaders, the priests, I mean, and deacons, to be brought before him, and offered them a choice of two alternatives, either to induce the flock to communicate with the wolf, or be banished from the town to some remote region. Then he summoned the mass of the people before him, and in gentle terms endeavoured to persuade them to submit to the imperial decrees, urging that it was mere madness for a handful of men who might soon be counted to withstand the sovereign of so vast an empire. The crowd stood speechless. Then the prefect turned to their leader Eulogius, an excellent man, and said, “Why do you make no answer to what you have heard me say?” “I did not think,” said Eulogius, “that I must answer, when I had been asked no question.” “But,” said the prefect, “I have used many arguments to urge you to a course advantageous to yourselves.” Eulogius rejoined that these pleas had been urged on all the multitude and that he thought it absurd for him to push himself forward and reply; “but,” he went on, “should you ask me my individual opinion I will give it you.” “Well,” said the prefect, “communicate with the emperor.” With pleasant irony Eulogius continued, “Has he then received the priesthood as well as the empire?” The prefect then perceiving that he was not speaking seriously took it ill, and after heaping reproaches on the old man, added, “I did not say so, you fool; I exhorted you to communicate with those with whom the Emperor communicates.” To this the old man replied that they had a shepherd and obeyed his directions, and so eighty of them were arrested, and exiled to Thrace. On their way thither they were everywhere received with the greatest possible distinction, cities and villages coming out to meet them and honouring them as victorious athletes. But envy armed their antagonists to report to the emperor that what had been reckoned disgrace had really brought great honour on these men; thereupon Valens ordered that they were to be separated into pairs and sent in different directions, some to Thrace, some to the furthest regions of Arabia, and others to the towns of the Thebaid; and the saying was that those whom nature had joined together savage men had put asunder, and divided brother from brother. Eulogius their leader with Protogenes the next in rank, were relegated to Antinone. 719
Even of these men I will not suffer the virtue to fall into oblivion. They found that the bishop of the city was of like mind with themselves, and so took part in the gatherings of the Church; but when they saw very small congregations, and on enquiry learnt that the inhabitants of the city were pagans, they were grieved, as was natural, and deplored their unbelief. But they did not think it enough to grieve, but to the best of their ability devoted themselves to making these men whole. The divine Eulogius, shut up in a little chamber, spent day and night in putting up petitions to the God of the universe; and the admirable Protogenes, who had received a good education 720 and was practised in rapid writing, pitched on a suitable spot which he made into a boys school, and, setting up for a schoolmaster, he instructed his pupils not only in the art of swift penmanship, but also in the divine oracles. He taught them the psalms of David and gave them to learn the most important articles of the apostolic doctrine. One of the lads fell sick, and Protogenes went to his home, took the sufferer by the hand and drove away the malady by prayer. When the parents of the other boys heard this they brought him to their houses and entreated him to succour the sick; but he refused to ask God for the expulsion of the malady before the sick had received the gift of baptism; urged by their longing for the childrens health, the parents readily acceded, and won at last salvation both for body and soul. In every instance where he persuaded any one in health to receive the divine grace, he led him off to Eulogius, and knocking at the door besought him to open, and put the seal of the Lord on p. 119 the prey. When Eulogius was annoyed at the interruption of his prayer, Protogenes used to say that it was much more essential to rescue the wanderers. In this he was an object of admiration to all who beheld his deeds, doing such wondrous works, imparting to so many the light of divine knowledge and all the while yielding the first place to another, and bringing his prizes to Eulogius. They rightly conjectured that the virtue of Eulogius was by far the greater and higher.
On the quieting of the tempest and restoration of complete calm, they were ordered to return home, and were escorted by all the people, wailing and weeping, and specially by the bishop of the church, who was now deprived of their husbandry. When they reached home, the great Barses had been removed to the life that knows no pain, and the divine Eulogius was entrusted with the rudder of the church which he had piloted; 721 and to the excellent Protogenes was assigned the husbandry of Charræ, 722 a barren spot full of the thorns of heathendom and needing abundant labour. But these events happened after peace was restored to the churches.
Antinoopolis, now Enseneh on the right bank of the Nile.118:720
The manuscripts here vary considerably.119:721
Eulogius was at Rome in 369, at Antioch in 379, and Constantinople in 381.119:722
Charræ, now Harran, in Mesopotamia, on the point of divergence of the main caravan routes, is the Haran to which Terah travelled from Orfah. It was afterwards made famous by the defeat of the Romans in b.c. 53, when
“miserando funere Crassus,
“Assyrias Latio maculavit sanguine Carras.”
Lucan. 1. 104.
Next: Of the holy Basilius, Bishop of Cæsarea, and the measures taken against him by Valens and the prefect Modestus.
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