Gregory 20252

Epistle LII. To Natalis, Bishop\269\0 .

20252 Gregory to Natalis, Bishop of Salons.

As though forgetting the tenour of former letters, I had determined to say nothing to your Blessedness but what should savour of sweetness: but, now that in your epistle you have recurred in the way of argumentation to preceding letters, I am once more compelled to say perhaps some things that I had rather not have said.

For in defence of feasts your Fraternity mentions the feast of Abraham, in which by the testimony of Holy Scripture he is said to have entertained three angels (
Gn 18).. In view of this example, neither will we blame your Blessedness for feasting, if we come to know that you entertain angels. Again you say that Isaac gave a blessing to his son when satiated (Gn 27,27). Now as to both these things in the Old Testament—since they were so done in the way of history as still to have a meaning in the way of allegory—would that we could so read through the accounts of the things done as to perceive and take thought for the things to be done. For indeed the one, in saluting one only of the three angels, declared the Persons of the Trinity to be of one Substance; the other blessed his son when satiated, because one who is filled with divine banquets has his senses extended into the power of prophecy. But the words of Holy Writ are divine banquets. If, then, you read diligently—if, drawing example from what is outward, you penetrate what is inward—you will be satiated, as it were, from hunting in the field, and fill the stomach of the soul, so as to be able to announce things to come to your son placed before you, to wit to the people you have taken in charge. But one who prophesies anything of God is already in the dark as to this world; for it is assuredly right and fit that he whose senses are bright inwardly through intelligence should see less through concupiscence here below.

Take, therefore, these things to yourselves; and, if you know yourselves to be such as I have said, you need not at all doubt of our esteem. I also find your Blessedness rejoicing if you bear the name of “a gluttonous man” along with the world’s Creator. As to this I briefly comment thus; that, if you are called so falsely, you do truly bear this name along with the world’s Creator; but, if it is true of you, who can doubt that it was false of Him? A like name does not avail to acquit you, if the cause for it is unlike. For even the thief who was condemned to die endured the cross with Him; but a like crucifixion did not acquit him whom his own guilt bound. But now I beseech God with all the prayers I can offer that not the name only, but the cause for it, may join your most holy Fraternity to our Creator.

Further, your Holiness in your letters rightly praises feasts which are made with the intention of bestowing charity. But yet you should know that they then truly proceed from charity, when at them the lives of the absent are not backbitten, no one is censured in derision, and no idle tales about secular affairs, but the words of sacred reading, are heard; when the body is not pampered more than is needful, but only its weakness refreshed, that it may be kept in health for the practice of virtue. If, then, you thus conduct yourselves in your feasts, I own that you are masters of abstinence.

As to your alleging to me the testimony Of the apostle Paul, where he says, Let not him that eateth not judge him that eateth (Rm xiv. 3), I think that this was altogether out of place, seeing both that I am not one that eateth not, and also that Paul did not here mean to say that the members of Christ, who are mutually bound to each other in His body, that is to say in his Church, with the bond of charity, should have no care whatever for each other. If, indeed, I had nothing to do with thee, nor thou with me, I should rightly be compelled to hold my peace, lest I should blame one whom I could not mend. This precept, then, was given only with reference to persons who go about to judge those who have not been committed to their care. But now that we, by the ordering of God, are one, we should be much in fault were we to pass over in silence what calls for our correction. Lo, thy Fraternity has taken it amiss to have been blamed by me about feasts, while I, who surpass thee in my position, though not in my life, am ready to be found fault with by all, and by all to be amended. And him only do I esteem to be a friend to me, through whose tongue I wipe off the stains of my soul before the appearance of the strict judge.

But as to what you say, most sweet brother, about your being unable to read because of the pressure of tribulations upon you, I think this avails little for your excuse, since Paul says, Whatsoever things are written are written for our instruction, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope (Rm 15,4). If, then, holy Scripture has been prepared for our comfort, we ought by so much the more to read it as we find ourselves the more wearied under the burden of tribulations. But if we are to rely only on that sentence which you quote in your letter, wherein the Lord says, When they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak, for it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak; far it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you (Mt 10,19), I say that Holy Scriptures have been given us in vain, if, being filled with the Spirit, we have no need of external words. But, dearest brother, trusting in God without doubt, when we are straightened in a time of persecution, is one thing; what we ought to do when the Church is at peace is another. For it is our duty, through this same Spirit, to learn by reading now what we may be able to shew forth also in suffering, should cause arise.

Now, I rejoice exceedingly that you declare in your letter that you are giving attention to exhortation. For thus I know that you are wisely fulfilling the duties of your position, if you take pains to draw others also to your Maker. But your saying in the same sentence that you are not like me saddens me at once, after I had begun to rejoice, since I think that it is in derision that you give me praises which in truth I do not recognize as due. However, I give thanks to Almighty God that through you heretics are being recalled to holy Church. But it is needful for you to have a care that those also who are contained in the bosom of holy Church live so that they be not her adversaries through their evil lives, For, if they give themselves not to heavenly desires, but to earthly lusts and pleasures, sons of strangers are being nourished in her bosom.

Now as to your declaring that you cannot possibly be ignorant of the degrees of ecclesiastical rank, I too fully know them with regard to you; and I am therefore much distressed that, if you knew the order of things, you have failed, to your greater blame, in knowing it with regard to me. For, after letters had been addressed to your Blessedness by my predecessor anti myself in the cause of the archdeacon Honoratus, then, the sentence of both of us being set at nought, the said Honoratus was deprived of the rank belonging to him. Which thing if any one of the four patriarchs had done, such great contumacy could by no means have been allowed to pass without the most grievous offence. Nevertheless, now that your Fraternity has returned to your proper position, I do not bear in mind the wrong done either to myself or to my predecessor.

But as to your saying that what has been handed down and guarded by my predecessors ought to be observed in our times also, far be it from me to infringe in any church the statutes of our ancestors with regard to my fellow priests, since I do myself an injury if I disturb the rights of my brethren. But when your accredited messengers arrive, I shall know the rights of the case between you and the aforesaid archdeacon Honoratus; and my own personal examination of it will shew you that, if you have the support of justice on your side, you will sustain no injury from me; as indeed you never have done. But in case justice supports the plea of the often-before-named Honoratus, I will shew by my acquittal of him that in judgment I have no knowledge even of persons whom I knew.

Concerning the article of excommunication which, if I may say so, was of necessity added to our letters (though even the second and the third time with a condition interposed), your Blessedness complains unreasonably, since the apostle Paul says, Having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience (2Co 10,6). But let these things pass: let us return to what concerns us now. For, if the Lord Natalis acts as he should do, I cannot but be friends with him, knowing how much I am a debtor to his affection.

Epistle LIV.

20254 Here follows the Epistle of Saint Licinianus, bishop, concerning the Book of Rules, addressed to Saint Gregory, pope of the city of Rome70 .

To the most blessed Lord pope Gregory, Licinianus, bishop.

The Book of Rules issued by Thy Holiness, and by the aid of divine grace conveyed to us, we have read with all the more pleasure for the spiritual rules which we find contained in it. Who can fail to read that with pleasure wherein by constant meditation he may find medicine for his soul; wherein, despising the fleeting things of this world which vary in their mutability, he may open the eyes of his soul to the settled estate of eternal life? This book of thine is a palace of all virtues. In it prudence fixes the boundary line between good and evil; justice gives each one his own, while it subjects the soul to God, and the body to the soul. In it fortitude also is found ever the same in adversity and in prosperity, being neither broken by opposition nor lifted up by success. In it temperance subdues the rage of lust, and discriminately imposes a limit upon pleasures. In it thou comprehendest all things that pertain to the partaking of eternal life: and not only for pastors layest down a rule of life, but also to those who have no office of government thou suppliest a rule of life. For pastors may learn in thy fourfold division what they should be in coming to this office; what life they should lead after coming to it; how and what they should teach, and what they should do to avoid being lifted up in so high a position as that of priesthood. This excellent teaching of thine is attested by the holy ancient fathers, doctors, and defenders of the Church; Hilary, Ambrose Augustin, Gregory Nazianzen: these all bear testimony to thee as did the prophets to the apostles. Saint Hilary says, in expounding the words of the Apostle who was the teacher of the Gentiles, “For so he signifies that the things belonging to discipline and morals serve to the good desert of the priesthood, if those things also which are necessary for the science of teaching and guarding the faith shall not be wanting among the rest’; since it does not all at once constitute a good and useful priest only to act innocently, or only to preach knowingly, seeing that, though a man be innocent, he profits himself only unless he be learned, and that he that is learned is without the authority of a teacher unless he be innocent71 .” Saint Ambrose gives attestation to this book of thine in the books which he wrote about Duties (de officiis). Saint Augustin gives attestation, saying, “In action dignity should not be loved in this life, neither power; since all things under the sun are vain.” But the work itself which is done by means of this dignity or power, if it is rightly and profitably done, this is what avails for that weal of subjects which is according to God. Wherefore the Apostle says, ‘He that desireth the office of a bishop desireth a good work.’ He wished to explain what episcopus means; that it is a title denoting work, not dignity. For it is a Greek word derived hence;—that he who is put over others overlooks those whom he is put over, to wit, as taking care of them; for episcopacy is overlooking. Therefore, if we choose, we may say in Latin that to exercise the office of a bishop is to overlook; so that one who delights to be over others and not to profit them may understand that he is no bishop. For so it is that no one is prohibited from longing to become acquainted with truth, for which purpose leisure is to be commended; but as to a position of superiority, without which the people cannot be. governed, though it may be held and administered becomingly, it is unbecoming to covet it. Wherefore charity seeks holy leisure, so as to have time for perceiving and defending the truth. But if [the burden of government] be imposed, it is to be undertaken on account of the obligation of charity. But not even so should delight in the truth be altogether forsaken, lest the former sweetness should be withdrawn, and the present obligation be oppressive’ (Lib. 8,de Trinit, num. 1).

Saint Gregory attests, whose style thou followest, and after whose example thou didst desire to hide thyself in order to avoid the weight of priesthood; which weight, of what sort it is, is clearly declared in the whole of thy book: and yet thou bearest what thou wast afraid of. For thy burden is borne upwards, not downwards; not so as to sink thee to the depths, but to lift thee to the stars; whilst by the grace of God, and the merit of obedience, and the efficiency of good work, that is made sweet which seemed to have heaviness through human weakness. For thou sayest the things that are in agreement with the apostles and with apostolic men. For, being fair, thou hast said things fair, and in them hast shewn thyself fair. I would not have thee liken thyself to an ill-favoured painter painting fair things, seeing that spiritual teaching issues from a spiritual soul, The human painter is by most men esteemed more highly than the inanimate picture. But put not this down to flattery or adulation, but to truth: for it neither becomes me to lie, nor thee to commend what is false. I then, though plainly sincere, have seen thee and all that is thine to be fair, and have seen myself as ill-favoured enough in comparison with thee. Wherefore I thee pray by the grace of God which abounds in thee that thou reject not my prayer, but willingly teach me what I confess myself ignorant of. For we are compelled of necessity to do what thou teachest.

For, when there is no skilled person found for the sacerdotal office, what is to be done but that an unskilled one such as I am, should be ordained? Thou orderest that no unskilled one should be ordained. But let thy prudence consider whether it may not suffice him for skill to know Jesus Christ and Him crucified: for, if this does not suffice, there will, according to this book, be no one who can be called skilled: and so no one will be a priest, if none, unless he be skilled, should be one. For with open front we resist bigamists, lest the sacrament should be thus corrupted. What if the husband of one wife should have touched a woman before his wife? What if he should not have had a wife, and yet should not have been without touch of a woman? Comfort us with thy pen, that we may not be punished either for our own sin or that of others. For we are exceedingly afraid lest we should be forced to do what we ought not to do. Lo, obedience must be paid to thy precepts, that such a one may be made a priest as apostolical authority approves; and such a one as is sought is not found. Thus faith will cease which cometh of hearing; baptism will cease, if there should be no one to baptize; those most holy mysteries will cease which are effected through priests and ministers. In either case danger remains: either such a one must be ordained as ought not to be, or there must be no one to celebrate or administer sacred mysteries.

A few years ago Leander, Bishop of Hispalis, on his return from the royal city, saw us in passing, and told us that he had some homilies issued by your Blessedness on the Book of Jb And, as he passed by in haste, he did not shew them to us as we requested. But thou wrotest afterwards to him about trine immersion, and saidest in thy letter, as I am told, that thou wast dissatisfied with that work, and hadst determined on maturer consideration to change those homilies into the form of a treatise72 .

We have indeed six books of Saint Hilary, Bishop of Pictavia, which he turned into Latin from the Greek of Origen: but he has not expounded the whole of the book of holy Jb in order. And I am not a little surprised that a man so very learned and so holy should translate the silly tales of Origen about the stars. I, most holy father, can in no wise be persuaded to believe that the heavenly luminaries are rational spirits, Holy Scripture not declaring them to have been made either along with angels or along with men. Let then your Blessedness deign to transmit to my littleness not only this work, but also the other books on morals which in this Book of Rules thou speakest of having composed. For we are thine, and are delighted to read what is thine. For to me it is a desirable and glorious thing, as thy Gregory says, to learn even to extreme old age. May God the Holy Trinity vouchsafe to preserve your crown unharmed for instructing His Church, as we hope, most blessed father).

1 Ariulph was the Lombard Duke of Spoletum, one of the principal cities in Italy occupied by the Lombards. For further reference to him cf. II. 29, 30, 46; IX. 98. He was at this time preparing, and suspected by Gregory of such intention, for an attack on Rome. Cf). Prologom. Velox (to whom this letter is addressed), and Maurilius and Vitalian (alluded to in it, are addressed in Epp. 29, 30), were Roman Generals (magistri militum) in command of imperial forces: but where they were is not apparent. From an allusion to Suana (or Soana) as within reach of the last two they may be supposed to have been somewhere in Tuscia.
2 Apparently a familia of slaves belonging to Velox, but at this time with Maurilius.
3 Clero, nobilibus, ordini et plebi. Ordo seems to denote persons of official or other rank, above the commonalty, but below, the nobility. In some cases the corresponding address is to clero, ordini et plebi (as in I. 81; V. 26); in others to clero et nobilibus only. All such expressions shew that the election of bishops rested with the members, laity as well as clergy, of each church, though the bishop of Rome, wherever his jurisdiction extended reserved to himself the power of approving or disallowing the election. In the election at Naples, referred to in this Epistle, there appears to have been a difficulty in arriving at an unanimous choice. Other Epistles referring to the case are II. 9, 10, 15, 26; III 35. From the last of these it appears how it was eveentually settled. See especially note 6 under II. 9.
4 Sacerdotii; meaning here episcopacy. See I. 78, note 2.
5 Maximianus had been a monk, and for a time abbot, in Gregory’s monastery of St. Andrew at Rome, had accompanied him to Constantinople, and been recommended by him soon after his own accession, and elected Bishop of Syracuse (Joan. Diac. Vit. S. Greg.ii. 11, 12). He was highly esteemed by Gregory, and mentioned in His Dialogues as having been miraculously delivered from shipwreck on his return from Constantinople to Rome (Dialog. 3,36. Cf). Hom. 34 in Evang)..His appointment now as delegate of the Roman See in Sicily would relieve Peter the subdeacon of his temporary jurisdiction over the ecclesiastics there. Maximianus died in November,a.d.594. See V. 17, 22. It is to be observed that the general authority now given to Maximianus was granted to him personally, and not permanently to the See of Syracuse.
6 (He was bishop of Nepe, which as well as Naples, was in the urbicarien province of Rome. The filling up of the See of Naples appears to have been a cause of great anxiety to Gregory, probably because of the party feeling prevailing in the city. In his first letter to the Neapolitans (supra
Ep 6), he had contemplated the speedy election of a new bishop in the usual way; but it appears from this Epistle that he had seen reason to defer such election, sending meanwhile Paulus of Nepe to administer the See. Some at least in Naples appear to have wished this Paulus to be elected soon after his arrival among them; but this Gregory would not allow till he could see better how things were going. Such provisional arrangement continued, it seems, for more than a year, another bishop having been commissioned to supply Paul’s place in his own Church of Nepe against the Easter festival (II. 26). That Gregory’s fear of opposition to Paul were justified appears from the subsequent mention of a violent attack made on him by a party opposed to him at Naples (III. 1). He meanwhile, not liking his position, had already been anxious to return to his own see (II. 15), but had not been allowed. When he went at last, it seems that an election had taken place, but had proved futile from the person chosen having refused to be ordained (III. 15). Eventually the election had taken place, by Gregory’s direction, not at Naples, but at Rome (III. 35), one Fortunatus being chosen (III. 61). The whole history of the case illustrates the troubles incident to popular election of bishops at that time, especially in great cities.
7 See I. 79, note 5.
8 Though called here Episcopus Neapolitanus, it is apparent from this and other Epistles that he was as yet only the episcopa visitor, not the regular, or cardinal, bishop of Naples).
9 See I. 79, note 5.
10 Sanctuaria, meaning apparently relics, the deposition of which usually accompanied the consecration of holy places.
11 For the occasion of this letter, see II. 9, note 6.
12 Salona was the metropolis of the province of Dalmatia in the diocese of Illyricum Occidentale, and Natalis, in virtue of his occupancy of the See, the Ecclesiastical Metropolitan of the province. For Gregory’s subsequent dealings with this bishop see II. 19, 20, 52; III. 8, 32. For the occassion of this Epistle, see I. 19, note 5.
13 This Antoninus was rector patrimonii in Dalmatia (see III. 22), and, though but a subdeacon, appears to have had the same kind of jurisdiction over the clergy given him in the pope’s name even in ecclesiastical matters as had been committed Peter the subdeacon in Sicily. (See I. 1).
14 This Malchus was a bishop in Dalmatia (cf. Lib. 1. Ep. 38, ’Ad Malchum episcopum Dalmatia,") and appears to have been in charge of some part of the patrimony there, for his administration of which he had been called to account, and was therefore summoned to Rome to clear himself. He died there suddenly after his case had been heard, and judgment had been given against him, Gregory being calumniosly accused of having caused his death. His case is referred to II. 20, 46; III. 22, 47; IV. 47.
15 This Epistle, as appears from the following, one was on the occasion of the election of John to the See of Justiniana Prima in Eastern Illyricum which, though annexed by the Emperor Cratian (379) to the Eastern Empire, had remained under the spiritual control of the Roman See. Accordingly Pope Damasus had assigned to the bishop of Thessalonica vicariate jurisdiction under Rome over the new proefecture: and this arrangement had continued to the time of Pope Vigilius, when the Emperor Justinian assigned to Achrida, called by him Justiniana Prima, Metropolitan jurisdiction over the five provinces of the Dacian civil diocese with the two Pannonias in the diocese of Illyricum Occidentale (Justin. Novel.cxxxi. c. iii). Hence Justiniana Prima became the seat thenceforth of the ecclesiastical Vicariate also. The election to the See, being a metropolitan one, appears to have been made in this instance by the suffragan bishops with the concurrence of the Emperor; after which the Bishop of Rome was applied to for confirmation. In the case before us it was readily given, the pallium sent, and the vicariate jurisdiction renewed. A case will appear below in which such confirmation was refused, but dispensed with by the Emperor, who supported the elected bishop against the Pope. See III. 47, note 1.
16 Sacerdotii, meaning here episcopacy. See I. 78, note 1.
17 Xenia. The term denotes, among other kinds of presents, such as were voluntarily offered to superiors, as by the people of a province to proconsuls. Those here referred to were such as it was the custom for bishops to send to the Pope after their ordination or from time to time. We find other instances of Gregory deprecating such presents. “The temporal Xenia which you have sent us, though we are in no need of such, we have nevertheless accepted with due charity.”. (VI. 64, Ad Dominicam episcopum Carthaginensem). The word is used also for presents of all kinds. Cf. e.g. the letter to Ethelbert (Xl. 66).
18 Meaning St. Peter.
19 See II. 9, note 6).
20 Other letters addressed to this patrician lady are IV. 46: VIII. 22: XI. 44: XIII. 22. She appears to have been a widow, no husband being alluded to, who had migrated with her family from Rome to Constantinople (cf. VIII. 2, and XIII. 22). She is spoken of in subsequent letters as a person of slender frame and weak health, and subject to gout. Her family, to whom greetings are always sent, being her children either by birth or marriage, were Appio and Eusebia, Eudoxius and Gregoria, the former, and perhaps the latter also, being a married couple. Strategius also, a son of Appio and Eusebia, apparently a child, has afterwards greetings sent to him. They had daughters also, whose names are not given.
21 Two years later (see (IV. 46, Indict. XII. i.e.a.d.593–4) she appears to have made a pilgrimage to Mount Sinai.
22 Cf. II. 3.
23 "Abest hoec Epist. a plerisque mss." (Benedict Ed).
24 In Collect. Pauli Diac., Junii.().
25 Or Soana, a town in Tuscia
26 Perhaps Narnia, in Umbria).
27 Sculcas. SCULCAe, excubioe; pro exulcoe vocabulo truncato, ut cubioe pro excubioe. Du Cange.
28 In Colbert. Vet. the date is added, "Die 14 Kal. Jan. Indict. 10." The dates are evidently uncertain.
29 Conductores. See I. 44, note 6.
30  Presbyterium. The term, as here used, means apparently a pecuniary allowance to presbyters. Cf. V. 33, Ad Gauaentiam Episcopum; “Fraternitatem tuam proesentibus hortamur affatibus ut clericis Capuanoe Ecclesioe quartam in presbyterium eorum de hoc quod ante dictoe ecclesioe singulis annis accesserit juxta antiquam consuetudinem distribuere secundum personarum studeat qualitatem, quatenus aliquod stipendiorum habentes solatium, ministerium officiumque suum circa eamdem ecclesiam devotiore mente provocentur impendere.”
31 See I. 44, note 1).
32 Maximianus (as appears from Epistle 34), whom Gregory had himself appointed bishop Syracuse. Cf. II. 7, and note.
33 This Eusebius was an abbot in Sicily. Letters follow about him to Maximianus (Ep 34), and to him (Ep 36).
34 Scribonibus. The term denoted officers sent from the imperial court into the provinces for executing certain duties; in this case for raising recruits for the imperial army. Cf. V. 30, note 8.
35 Parum aliquid xenii. On xenia, see II. 23, note 8.
36 We note here the sarcastic vein in which Gregory from time to time pleasantly stimulates Peter to activity.
37 I.e. the rector patrimonii. The purport of this direction seems be that agents from the laity might be appointed with advantage to assist the rector patrimonii; and these must first be made clerici by receiving the tonsure, so as to be qualified to act for the Church. The rectors themselves were usually at least subdeacons).
38 Scholastici. The designation appears to have been applied generally to scholarly and learned persons. Cf. Hieron). in Catal. Scriptor. Eccles., “Serapion ob elegantiam ingenii cognomen scholastici meruit.” In Gregory’s Epistles it seems to denote usually men learned in the law, who might advise on legal points or sit as assessors. In I. 44 (to Peter the subdeacon) scholastici are spoken of as having given a legal opinion , Epistle 36 in Bk. IX. is addressed “Severo scholastico exarchi,” and he is spoken of as one of those “qui assistant judicibus.” Cf. also IX. 58, 59, for the employment of “Martinus Scholasticus,vir eloquentissimus,” in a cave of disputed jurisdiction over the primate of the African province of Bizacia. Such scholastici were evidently persons of importance. Gregory addresses them by the title of “Gloria vestra” (IV. 40), and of “Magnitudo tua” (IX. 58). In IX. 12 he speaks of the form of prayer which followed the words of institution in the Canon of the Mass as having been composed by a scholasticus (precem quam schloasticus composuerat), perhaps using the term in the general sense of a scholar.
39 See I. 46, note.
40 See I. 61, note 7.
41 Proepositi. The word, though used also in a more general sense, usually denotes the Prior of a monastery, appointed as the Abbot’s vice-gerent.
42 Episcopi Laurinensis. If the reading is correct, the See intended is unknown. Holstein (Annot. in Geograph. Sacra, p. 21) suggests Carinensem, denoting the Sicilian See of Carine, or Camarina.
43 I.e. the first seven books of the Bible.
44 Now Proetor of Sicily. Cf. I. 2.
45 Bishop of Catana in Sicily. Cf. I. 72).
46 See I. 79, note 5.
47 See as above.
48 The text here (“nullis canonicis juris deserviant”) appears to be corrupt, being unintelligible. The sense of the corresponding clause in the shorter Epistle has been given in the translation.
49 Processio usually denotes the celebration of Mass.
50 For elucidation of the circumstances of this Epistle see above, Epistles 3, 29, 30.
51 Viz. Romanus Patricius, mentioned below, the Exarch of Ravenna, and as such representing the Emperor in Italy. See I. 33, “Ad Romanum Patricium et Exarchum Italioe.”
52 Precaria; apparently subsidies demanded for the supportof the invading army). Precarium (or Precarim), which has various applications, appears to be capable of this sense. See Du Cange.
53 The Istrian bishops still held out in refusing to accept thecondemnation of “The Three Chapters” passed in the fifth (Ecumenical Council at the instance of the Emperor Justinian. Gregory, soon after his accession, had suummoned Severus, Bishop of Aquileia and Metropolitan, with his suffragans, to Rome; and this, as he alleges, by command of the Emperor, though the latter had now, it appears, forbidden further proceedings See I. 16, and note.
54 I.e. the soldiers of the Theodosian Legion.
55 With respect to Rome Gregory has already complained that the Exarch would neither send forces for its defence nor allow peace to be made with Ariulph. So also witb regard to Naples, which Gregory understands to be now threatened by the Lombards. The Exarch, it appears, had been urgent in insisting that it should hold out against the enemy (“excellentissimo exarcho instanter imminente”), but without giving any help for the purpose. What Gregory here says is that without aid from the Exarch its defence was hopeless.
56 Aragis was the Lombard duke of Beneventum.
57 Viz. Aquileia, of which Severus was bishop and Metropolitan called here schismaticus because of his holding out against Rome in the matter of the Three Chapters. The bribes he is said below to have sent to Constantinople would be for inducing the Emperor to take his part against Gregory.
58 See above, Ep. 20, in this Book, and I. 19, note 5, where references to other Epistles are given.
59 See II. 20, note 5.
60 The bishop of Carthage was primate of the province of Africa Proconsularis in virtue of his See. For the custom with regard to primacy in other African provinces, see I. 74, note 2. The fact, apparent from this letter, that Dominicus had deemed sending to Gregory on his accession the congratulatory letter that had been expected, and Gregory’s carefulness to assure him, in the course of the studiously courteous letter, of his desire to respect the ancient privileges of Churches, may be among the symptoms, otherwise apparent, of the authoritative claims of the Roman See being still viewed with some jealousy in the African Church. Cf. in Book VIII. Epistle 33, to the same Dominicus, in which Gregory, in praising his reverence for the Apostolic See, attributes such reverence to his knowledge of the origin of the African episcopacy, refraining from asserting in this case any prerogative of divine right belonging to the See of S. Peter. Other letters to Dominicus are V. 5; VII. 35; XII. 1).
61 In English Bible, 139,21.
62 This Columbus was one of the bishops in Numidia, who seems to have enjoyed the peculiar confidence of Gregory, being written to on various questions concerning the Church there, and charged with seeing to the exercise of discipline over other bishops, though not himself the primate. He is addressed (III. 68; VIII. 13) as being himself especially devoted to the Roman See. Other letters addressed to him are III. 48; IV. 35; VI. 37; VII. 2; VIII. 28; XII. 8; XII. 28).
63 The Donatists had formerly been allowed their own bishop, tolerated along with the Catholic ones. This liberty was now disallowed, probably in accordance with imperial edicts. See I 74, note 8).
64 This letter, being in reply to one from the bishops addressed who are spoken of as being at the time schismatics, cannot have been meant for the universal episcopate. They were probably those of Istria or elsewhere, who were out of communion with Rome because of their refusal to accept the condemnation of the “Three Chapters” by the fifth Council. See I. 16, note 3: IV. 1, 2, 3, 4, 38, 39.
65 I.e. Theodorus of Mopsuestia, whose person, and not his writings only, was anathematized in the fifth Council. The sentence was; “Proedicta tria capitula anathematizamus, id est, Theodorum Mopsuestenum cum nefandis ejus scriptis, et quoe impie Theodoritus conscripsit, et impiam epistolam quoe dicitur Iboe, et defensores eorum.”
66 Vigilius, having gone to Constantinople with pope Agapetus, who died there, was selected by the Empress Theodora as his successor, and sent back to Italy with an order from her to Belisarius to bring about his election (Liberatus, Breviar. c. 22). Gregory seems to have been unaware of the fact stated by Liberatus, namely that Vigillius had come to a secret understanding with the Empress that he would support the Monophysite party and disallow the Council of Chalcedon, as there is good evidence that he did after his accession. It is true that he afterwards declared for orthodoxy, and condemned all abettors of the Eutychian heresy. But this appears to have been not tilla.d.450, in reply to a letter received from the Emperor Justinian and therefore subsequent to the occupation of Rome by the Gothic King Theodatus, which was in 536, and to its siege by Vitiges, who retired in 538. Thus what Gregory goes on to say about Rome having been attacked and captured by enemies after the condemnation of heresy by Vigilius must be due to serious ignorance of the facts of the case. Nor does he appear to have known - at any rate he does not intimate - that the condemnation of the Three Chapters, pressed upon the fifth Council by the Emperor Justinian, had been in spite of the opposition of Vigilius, though it is true that this sorry pope did afterwards assent to it.
67 ’I’he Monophysites - or some of them - had come to be so called, as being without a head, after their leader. Peter Mongus, had accepted the See of Alexandria on the doctrinal basis of Zeno’s Henoticon.
68 Pelagius I., who succeeded Vigilius, though he had formerly with him opposed the condemnation of the Three Chapters, upheld it after his accession to the popedom. The “book” sent by Gregory to the bishops may have been the Epistle given as Ep. VII., among those attributed to Pelagius, addressed to Helias and the bishops of Isria).
69 See I. 19, note 5, with reff).
70 Licinianus was bishop of Carthagena in Spain, a Latin ecclesiastical writer. Isidore (Lib. de illustribus Ecclesioe scriptoribus, c. 29) says of him, “In scripturis doctus, cujus quidem nonnullas epistolas legimus. De sacramento denique baptismatis unam, et ad Eutropium abbatem postea Valentioe episcopum plurimas; reliqua vero industrioe et laboris ejus ad nostram notitiam minime pervenerunt. Claruit temporibus Mauricii Augusti; occubuit Constantinopoli veneno ut ferunt, extinctus ab oemulis Sed, ut scriptum est, Justus quacunque morte proeoccupalus fuerit, anima ejus in refrigerio est.” The "Book of Rules’ which he had received, was Gregory’s Regula Pastoralis).
71 This and the succeeding quotations from the works of the Fathers are inaccurately given, and in places hardly intelligible. Where this is so, the original passages have been followed in the translations).
72 See I. 43.

Book III

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