Gregory Naz. 33400

(Sophronius, a native of the Cappadocian Caesarea, was an early friend and fellow-student of Gregory and Basil. He entered the Civil Service, and soon rose to high office. In a.d. 365 he was appointed Prefect of Constantinople, as a reward for timely intimation which he gave to the Emperor Valens of the usurpation attempted by Procopius. He is chiefly known to us by the letters of Gregory and Basil, invoking his good offices for various persons.
Ep 21 was written in a.d. 369 to commend to him Nicobulus, Gregory’s nephew by marriage, the husband of Alypiana, daughter of his sister Gorgonia. This Nicobulus was a man of great wealth and ability, but much disinclined for public life. Gregory constantly writes to one and another high official to get him excused from appointments which had been thrust upon him).


Gold is changed and transformed into various forms at various times, being fashioned into many ornaments, and used by art for many purposes; yet it remains what it is—gold; and it is not the substance but the form which admits of change. So also, believing that your kindness will remain unchanged for your friends, although you are ever climbing higher, I have ventured to send you this request, because I do not more reverence your high rank than I trust your kind disposition. I entreat you to be favourable to my most respectable son Nicobulus, who is in all respects allied with me, both by kindred and by intimacy, and, which is more important, by disposition. In what matters, and to what extent? In whatever he may ask your aid, and as far as may seem to you to befit your Magnanimity. I on my part will repay you the best I have. I have the power of speech, and of proclaiming your goodness, if not nearly according to its worth, at any rate to the best of my ability.


(Is for Amphilochius, written at the same time and in consequence of the same trouble as that which we have placed second of the letters to Caesarius).

As we know gold and stones by their look, so too we may distinguish good men from bad in the same way, and do not need a very long trial. For I should not have needed many words in pleading for my most honourable son Amphilochius with Your Magnanimity. I should rather have expected some strange and incredible thing to happen than that he would do anything dishonourable, or think of such a thing, in a matter of money; such a universal reputation has he as a gentleman, and as wiser than his years. But what must he suffer? Nothing escapes envy, for some word of blame has touched even him, a man who has fallen under accusation of crime through simplicity rather than depravity of disposition. But do not allow it to be tolerable to you to overlook him in his vexations and trouble. Not so, I entreat your sacred and great mind, but honour your country and aid his virtue, and have a respect for me who have attained to glory by and through you; and be everything to this man, adding the will to the power, for I know that there is nothing of equal power with Your Excellency.


(Of the same year. Here Caesarius had bequeathed all his property to the poor; but his house had been looted by his servants, and his friends could only find a comparatively small sum. Besides this a number of persons, shortly afterwards, presented themselves as creditors of his estate, and their claims, though incapable of proof, were paid. Then others kept coming forward, until at last the family refused to admit any. more. Then a lawsuit was threatened. Gregory intensely disliking all this, and dreading moreover the scandal which might be caused by legal proceedings, writes as follows to the Prefect).

You see how matters stand with me, and how the circle of human affairs goes round, now some now others flourishing or the reverse, and neither prosperity nor adversity remaining constant with us, as the saying is, but ever changing and altering, so that one might trust the breezes, or letters written in the waters, rather than human prosperity. For what reason is this? I think it is in order that by the contemplation of the uncertainty and anomaly of all these things we may learn the rather to have recourse to God and to the future, giving scanty thoughts to shadows and dreams. But what has produced this talk, for it is not without a cause that I thus philosophize, and I am not idly boasting?

Caesarius was once one of your not least distinguished friends; indeed, unless my brotherly affection deceives me, he was one of your most distinguished, for he was remarkably well informed, and for gentlemanly conduct was above the average, and was celebrated for the number of his friends; among the very first of these, as he always thought and as he persuaded me, Your Excellency held the first place. These are old stories, and you will add to them of your own accord in rendering honours to his memory; for it is human nature to add something to the praises of the departed. But now (that you may not pass over this story without a tear, or that you may weep to some good and useful purpose), he lies dead, friendless, solitary, pitiable, deemed worthy of a little myrrh (if even of so much), and of the last small coverings, and it is much that he has found even thus much compassion. But his enemies, as I hear, have fallen upon his estate, and from all quarters with great violence are plundering it, or are about to do so. O cruelty! O savagery! And there is no one to hinder them; but even the kindest of his friends only calls upon the laws as his utmost favour. If I may put it concisely, I am become a mere drama, who once was wont to be happy.Do not let this seem to you to be tolerable, but help me by sympathy and by sharing my indignation, and do right by the dead Caesarius. Yes, in the name of friendship herself; yes, by all that you hold dearest; by your hope (which may you make secure by shewing yourself faithful and true to the departed), I pray you do this kindness to the living, and make them of good hope. Do you think that I am grieved about the money? It would have been a more intolerable disgrace to me if Caesarius alone, who thought he had so many friends, turned out to have none. Such is my request, and from such a cause does it arise, for perhaps my affairs are not altogether matters of indifference to you. In what you will assist me, and by what means, and how, the matter itself will suggest and your wisdom will consider.


(A letter of recommendation for Eudoxius a Rhetorician for whom Gregory had a warm regard).

To honour a mother is a religious duty. Now, different individuals have different mothers; but the common mother of all is our country. This mother you have honoured by the splendour of your whole life; and you will honour her again now by obtaining for me that which I entreat. And what is my request? You certainly know Eudoxius the Rhetorician, the most learned of her sons. His son, to speak concisely, another Eudoxius both in life and learning, now approaches you through me. In order then to get yourself a yet better name, be helpful to him in the matters for which he asks your assistance, For it were a shame were you, who are the universal Patron of our Country, and who have done good to so many, and I will add, who will yet continue to do so, should not honour above all him who is most excellent in learning and in his eloquence, which you ought to honour, if for no other reason, because he uses it to praise your goodness.


(About the same date. A recommendation of one Amazonius, whose learning was much respected by Gregory).

I wish well to all my friends. And when I speak of friends, I mean honourable and good men, linked with me in virtue, if indeed I myself have any claim to it. Therefore at the present time when seeking how I might do a kindness to my excellent brother Amazonius (for I was very much pleased with the man in some intercourse which has lately taken place between us), I thought I might return him one favour for all,—in your friendship and protection. For in a short time he shewed proof of an extensive education, both of the kind which I used once to be very zealous for, when I was shortsighted, and of that for which I am zealous in its place since I have been able to contemplate the summit of virtue. Whether I in my turn have appeared to him to be worth anything in respect of virtue is his affair. At any rate I shewed him the best things I have, namely, my friends to him as my friend. Of these I reckon you as the first and truest, and want you to shew yourself so to him—as your common Country demands, and my desire and promise begs; for I promised him your patronage in return for all his kindness.


(Written soon after Gregory’s resignation of the Archbishopric).

Our retreat and leisure and quiet have about them something very agreeable to me; but the fact that they cut me off from your friendship and society is not so advantageous but rather the other way. Others enjoy your Perfection, to me it would be really a great boon if I might have just that shadow of conversation which comes in a letter. Shall I see you again? Shall I embrace again him of whom I am so proud, and shall this be granted to the remnant of my life? If so, all thanks to God: if not, the best part of my life is over. Pray remember your friend Gregory and pray for him.


(About the middle of a.d. 382 Theodosius, on the recommendation of S. Damasus, summoned a new Synod of Eastern Bishops to meet at Constantinople, to try and heal the schism which had been embittered by the election of Flavian at Antioch. As soon as Gregory heard of the convocation of this Synod he wrote to several of his influential friends at Court, to beg them to do their utmost for the promotion of peace).

I am philosophizing at leisure. That is the injury my enemies have done me, and I should be glad if they would do more of the same sort, that I might look upon them still more as benefactors. For it often happens that those who are wronged get a benefit, while they, whom we would treat well, suffer injury. That is the state of my affairs. But if I cannot make every one believe this, I am very anxious, that at all events you, for them all, to whom I most willingly give an account of my affairs, should know, or rather I feel certain that you do know it, and can persuade those who do not. You, however, I beg to give all diligence, now at any rate, if you have not done so before, to bring together to one voice and mind the sections of the world that are so unhappily divided; and above all if you should perceive, as I have observed, that they are divided not on account of the Faith, but by petty private interests. To succeed in doing this would earn you a reward; and my retirement would have less to grieve over if I could see that I did not grasp at it to no purpose, but was like a Jonas, willingly casting myself into the sea, that the storm might cease and the sailors be saved. If, however, they are still as storm-tost as ever, I at all events have done what I could.

§5. To Amphilochius the Younger.

33500 Ep. IX.

(Constantine and Constantius had granted exemption from the military tax to all clerics. This privilege was, however, abolished by Julian, and was restored by Valentinian and Valens: but the collectors of revenue often tried to levy it on them in spite of the exemption. The collector at Nazianzus tried to do this in the case of a Deacon named Euthalius, in whose behalf Gregory wrote the following letter to Amphilochius, who was at the time one of the principal magistrates of the province. The date of the letter is given as a.d. 372, the year of Gregory’s Ordination to the Priesthood. For further particulars about this Amphilochius, see introd. to letters II. and III. to Caesarius Epp. 22, 23).

Support a wellbuilt chamber with columns of gold, as Pindar says, and make yourself from the beginning known to us on the right side in our present anxiety, that you may build yourself a notable palace, and shew yourself in it with a good fame. But how will you do this? By honouring God and the things of God, than Whom there can be nothing greater in your eyes. But how, and by what act can you honour Him? By this one act, by protecting the servants of God and ministers of the altar. One of these is our fellow deacon Euthalius, on whom, I know not how, the officers of the Prefecture are trying to impose a payment of gold after his promotion to the higher rank. Pray do not allow this. Reach a hand to this deacon and to the whole clergy, and above all to me, for whom you care; for otherwise he would have to endure a grievous wrong, alone of men deprived of the kindness of the time and the privilege granted by the Emperor to the Clergy, and would even be insulted and fined, possibly on account of my weakness. It would be well for you to prevent this even if others are not well disposed.


(See the first letter to Sophronius. The nature of the trouble here alluded to is unknown. There are several letters to various persons in reference to his troubles and difficulties, many of them coming from his reluctance to undertake the duties of any public office. He died at an early age, leaving his widow, Alypiana, with a large family to bring up in very reduced circumstances. Her troubles and the education of her children were matters of much concern to Gregory, whose frequent letters on the subject will be found below).

I approve the statement of Theognis, who, while not praising the friendship which goes no further than cups and pleasures, praises that which extends to actions in these words, Beside a full wine cup a man has many friends: But they are fewer when grave troubles press. We, however, have not shared winecups with each other, nor indeed have we often met (though we ought to have been very careful to do so, both for our own sake, and for the sake of the friendship which we inherited from our fathers), but we do ask for the goodwill which shews itself in acts. A struggle is at hand, and a very serious struggle. My son Nicobulus has got into unexpected troubles, from a quarter from which troubles would least be looked for. Therefore I beg you to come and help us as soon as you can, both to take part in trying the case, and to plead our cause, if you find that a wrong is being done us. But if you cannot come, at any rate do not let yourself be previously retained by the other side, or sell for a small gain the freedom which we know from everybody’s testimony has always characterized you.

Ep. XXV.

(Amphilochius was acquitted of the charges made against him, referred to in former letters; but the result of the accusation on his own mind was such that he resigned his office, and retired to a sort of hermitage at a place called Ozizala, not far from Nazianzus, where he devoted his hours of labour to the cultivation of vegetables. The four letters which follow are of no special importance, and are only given as specimens of the lighter style which Gregory could use with his intimate friends).

I did not ask you for bread, just as I would not ask for water from the inhabitants of Ostracine. But if I were to ask for vegetables from a man of Ozizala it were no strange thing, nor too great a strain on friendship; for you have plenty of them, and we a great dearth. I beg you then to send me some vegetables, and plenty of them, and the best quality, or as many as you can (for even small things are great to the poor); for I am going to receive the great Basil, and you, who have had experience of him full and philosophical, would not like to know him hungry and irritated.


What a very small quantity of vegetables you have sent me! They must surely be golden vegetables! And yet your whole wealth consists of orchards and rivers and groves and gardens, and your country is productive of vegetables as other lands are of gold, and

You dwell among meadowy leafage.

But corn is for you a fabulous happiness, and your bread is the bread of angels, as the saying is, so welcome is it, and so little can you reckon upon it. Either, then, send me your vegetables less grudgingly, or—I won’t threaten you with anything else, but I won’t send you any corn, and will see whether there is any truth in the saying that grasshoppers live on dew!


You make a joke of it; but I know the danger of an Ozizalean starving when he has taken most pains with his husbandry. There is only this praise to be given them, that even if they die of hunger they smell sweet, and have a gorgeous funeral. How so? Because they are covered with plenty of all sorts of flowers).


In visiting the mountain cities which border on Pamphylia I fished up in the Mountains a sea Glaucus; I did not drag the fish out of the depths with a net of flax, but I snared my game with the love of a friend. And having once taught my Glaucus to travel by land, I sent him as the bearer of a letter to Your Goodness. Please receive him kindly, and honour him with the hospitality commended in the Bible, not forgetting the vegetables.


(The Armenian referred to is probably Eustathius Bishop of Sebaste, the capital of Armenia Minor. He had been a disciple of Arius, but more than once professed the Nicene Faith, changing his opinions with his company. His personal character however stood very high, and for a long time S. Basil regarded him with affectionate esteem. Indeed S. Basil’s Rule for Monks is based on one drawn up by him. But after Basil’s elevation to the Episcopate Eustathius began to oppose him and to calumniate him on all sides, and even entered openly into communion with the Arians. It would seem that this man tried to get Amphilochius round to his side, and through him Gregory).

The Injunction of your inimitable Honour is not barbaric, but Greek, or rather christian; but as for the Armenian on whom you pride yourself so, he is a downright barbarian, and far from our honour.

Ep. LXIII. To Amphilochius the Elder.

(In a.d. 374 Amphilochius was made Bishop of Iconium; and his father, a man of the same name, was deeply aggrieved at being thus deprived of his son, to whom he had looked to support him in his old age, and accused Gregory of being the cause. Gregory, who had just lost his own father, writes to undeceive him, and to convince him how much he dreads the burden of the responsibilities of the episcopate for his friend as well as for himself).

Are you grieving? I, of course, am full of joy! Are you weeping? I, as you see, am keeping festival and glorying in the present state of things! Are you grieved because your son is taken from yon and promoted to honour on account of his virtue, and do you think it a terrible misfortune that he is no longer with you to tend your old age, and, as his custom is, to bestow on you all due care and service? But it is no grief to me that my father has left me for the last journey, from which he will return to me no more, and I shall never see him again! Then I for my part do not blame you, nor do I ask you for due condolence, knowing as I do that private troubles allow no leisure for those of strangers; for no man is so friendly and so philosophical as to be above his own suffering and to comfort another when needing comfort himself. But you on the contrary heap blow on blow, when you blame me, as I hear you do, and think that your son and my brother is neglected by us, or even betrayed by us, which is a still heavier charge; or that we do not recognize the loss which all his friends and relatives have suffered, and I more than all, because I had placed in him my hopes of life, and looked upon him as the only bulwark, the only good counsellor, and the only sharer of my piety. And yet, on what grounds do you form this opinion? If on the first, be assured that I came over to you on purpose, and because I was troubled by the rumour, and I was ready to share your deliberations while it was still time for consultation about the matter; and you imparted anything to me rather than this, whether because you were in the same distress, or with some other purpose, I know not what. But if the last. I was prevented from meeting you again by my grief, and the honour I owed my father, and his funeral, over which I could not give anything precedence, and that when my sorrow was fresh, and it would not only have been wrong but also quite improper to be unseasonably philosophical, and above human nature. Moreover, I thought that I was previously engaged by the circumstances, especially as his had come to such a conclusion as seemed good to Him who governs all our affairs. So much concerning this matter. Now I beg you to put aside your grief, which is most unreasonable I am sure; and if you have any further grievance, bring it forward that you may not grieve both me in part and yourself, and put yourself in a position unworthy of your nobility, blaming me instead of others, though I have done you no wrong, but, if I must say the truth, have been equally tyrannized over by our common friend, although you used to think me your only benefactor).

Ep. CLXXI. To Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium.

Scarcely yet delivered from the pains of my illness, I hasten to you, the guardian of my cure. For the tongue of a priest meditating of the Lord raises the sick. Do then the greater thing in your priestly ministration, and loose the great mass of my sins when you lay hold of the Sacrifice of Resurrection. For your affairs are a care to me waking or sleeping, and you are to me a good plectrum, and have made a welltuned lyre to dwell within my soul, because by your numerous letters you have trained my soul to science. But, most reverend friend, cease not both to pray and to plead for me when you draw down the Word by your word, when with a bloodless cutting you sever the Body and Blood of the Lord, using your voice for the glaive).


(Bosporius, Bishop of Colonia in Cappadocia Secunda, who had apparently taken a prominent part in the election and consecration of Eulalius to the See of Nazianzus, was accused of heresy by Helladius Archbishop of Caesarea, and a Council met at Parnassus to try him, a.d. 383. Gregory, not being able personally to attend this Synod, writes to Amphilochius, to beg him to undertake the defence of the accused. The letter is lost, but Gregory’s friend carried out his mission with success, and the following letter is to thank him for his kindness).

The Lord fulfil all thy petitions (do not despise a father’s prayer), for you have abundantly refreshed my age, both by having gone to Parnassus, as you were invited to do, and by having refuted the calumny against the most Reverend and God-beloved Bishop. For evil men love to set down their own faults to those who convict them. For the age of this man is stronger than all the accusations, and so is his life, and we too who have often heard from him and taught others, and those whom he has recovered from error and added to the common body of the church; but yet the present evil times called for more accurate proof on account of the slanderers and evil-disposed; and this you have supplied us with, or rather you have supplied it to those who are of tickler mind and easily led away by such men. But if you will undertake a longer journey, and will personally give testimony, and settle the matter with the other bishops, you will be doing a spiritual work worthy of your Perfection.I and those with me salute your Fraternity.

§6. To Nectarius Archbishop of Constantinople.

(Gregory, having failed to persuade the Council of a.d. 381 to end the schism at Antioch by recognizing Paulinus as successor to Meletius, thought it best for the sake of peace to resign the Archbishopric. The Council elected in his place Nectarius, a catechumen at the time, who was Praetor of Constantinople, and he was consecrated and enthroned June 9, 381. Gregory always maintained cordial relations with him; and the following letter was written in answer to the formal announcement of his election).


It was needful that the Royal Image should adorn the Royal City. For this reason it wears you upon its bosom, as was fitting, with the virtues and the eloquence, and the other beauties with which the Divine Favour has conspicuously enriched you. Us it has treated with utter contempt, and has cast away like refuse and chaff or a wave of the sea. But since friends have a common interest in each other’s affairs, I claim a share in your welfare, and feel myself a partaker in your glory and the rest of your prosperity. Do you also, as is fitting, partake of the anxieties and reverses of your exiles, and not only (as the tragedians say) hold and stick to happy circumstances, but also take your part with your friend in troubles; that you may be perfectly just, living justly and equally in respect of friendship and of your friends. May good fortune abide with you long, that you may do yet more good; yes, may it be with you irrevocably and eternally, after your prosperity here, unto the passage to that other world.

Ep. XCI.

(A letter of no great importance, except as shewing the friendly feelings which Gregory continued to maintain towards his successor).

Affairs with us go on as usual: we are quiet without strifes and disputes, valuing as we do the reward (which has no risk attaching to it) of silence, beyond everything. And we have derived some profit from this rest, having by God’s mercy fairly recovered from our illness. Do you ride on and reign, as holy David says, and may God, Who has honoured you with Priesthood, accompany you throughout, and set it for you above all slander. And that we may give each other a proof of our courage, and may not suffer any human calamity as we stand before God, I send this message to you, and do you promptly assent to it. There are many reasons which make me very anxious about our very dear Pancratius. Be good enough to receive him kindly, and to commend him to the best of your friends, that he may attain his object. His object is through some kind of military service to obtain relief from public office, though there is no single kind of life that is unexposed to the slanders of worthless men, as you very well know.

Ep. CLI.

(Written about a.d. 382, commending his friend George, a deacon of Nazianzus, to the good offices of the Archbishop and the Count of the Domestics, or Master of the Imperial Household, on account of his private troubles and anxieties).

People in general make a very good guess at your disposition—or rather, they do not conjecture, but they do not refuse to believe me when I pride myself on the fact that you deem me worthy of no small respect and honour. One of these people is my very precious son George, who having fallen into many losses, and being very much overwhelmed by his troubles, can find only one harbour of safety, namely, to be introduced to you by us, and to obtain some favour at the hands of the Most Illustrious the Count of the Domestics. Grant them this favour, either to him and his need, or else, if you prefer it, to me, to whom I know you have resolved to grant all favours; and facts also persuade me that this is true of you.


(See Introduction to Ep. CLXXXIV. above, p. 469. Bosporius was to be sent to Constantinople that his cause might there be tried in the Civil Courts. Gregory therefore writes to the Archbishop to point out what a serious infringement of the rights of the Church this would be. Probably the attitude which Nectarius took up at the suggestion of Gregory was the occasion of the Edict which Theodosius addressed in February, a.d. 384 or 5, to the Augustal Prefect, withdrawing all clerics from the jurisdiction of the civil tribunals, and placing them under the exclusive control of the episcopal courts).

Whenever different people praise different points in you, and all are pushing forward your good fame, as in a marketplace, I contribute whatever I can, and not less than any of them, because you deign also to honour me, to cheer my old age, as a well-beloved son does that of his father. For this reason I now also venture to offer to you this appeal on behalf of the Most Reverend and God-beloved Bishop Bosporius; though ashamed on the one hand that such a man should need any letter from me, since his venerable character is assured both by his daily life and by his age; and on the other hand not less ashamed to keep silence and not to say a word for him, while I have a voice, and honour faith, and know the man most intimately. The controversy about the dioceses you will no doubt yourself resolve according to the grace of the Spirit which is in you, and to the order of the canons. But I hope Your Reverence will see that it is not to be endured that our affairs are to be posted up in the secular courts. For even if they who are judges of such courts are Christians, as by the mercy of God they are, what is there in common between the Sword and the Spirit? And even if we yield this point, how or where can it be just that a dispute concerning the faith should be interwoven with the other questions? Is our God-beloved Bishop Bosporius to-day a heretic? Is it to-day that his hoar hair is set in the balance, who has brought back so many from their error, and has given so great proof of his orthodoxy, and is a teacher of us all? No, I entreat you, do not give place to such slanders; but if possible reconcile the opposing parties and add this to your praises; but if this may not be, at all events do not allow us all, (with whom he has lived, and with whom he has grown old,) to be outraged by such insolence,—us whom you know to be accurate preachers of the Gospel, both when to be so was dangerous, and when it is free from risk; and to be unable to endure any detraction from the One Unapproachable Godhead. And I beg you to pray for me who am suffering from serious illness. I and all who are with me salute the brethren who surround you. May you, strong and of good courage and of good fame in the Lord, grant to us and the Churches the support which all in common demand.


(A letter of introduction for a relative).

What would you have done if I had come in person and taken up your time? I am quite certain you would have undertaken with all zeal to deliver me from the slander, if I may take as a token what has happened before. Do me this favour, then, through my most discreet kinswoman who approaches you through me, reverencing first the age of your petitioner, and next her disposition and piety, which is more than is ordinarily found in a woman; and besides this, her ignorance in business-matters, and the troubles now brought upon her by her own relations; and above all, my entreaty. The greatest favour you can do me is speed in the benefit for which I am asking. For even the unjust judge in the Gospel shewed kindness to the widow, though only after long beseeching and importunity. But from you I ask for speed, that she may not be overwhelmed by being long burdened with anxieties and miseries in a foreign land; though I know quite well that Your Piety will make that alien land to be a fatherland to her.


(An important letter on the Apollinarian controversy has already been given above).

§7. To Theodore, Bishop of Tyana.

(Theodore, a native of Arianzus, and an intimate friend of Gregory, accompanied him to Constantinople a.d. 379, and shared his persecution by the Arians, who broke into their church during the celebration of the divine liturgy, and pelted the clergy with stones. Theodore could not bring himself to put up with this, and declared his intention of prosecuting the aggressors. Gregory wrote the following letter to dissuade him from this course, by shewing him how much more noble it is to forgive than to revenge).


I hear that you are indignant at the outrages which have been committed on us by the Monks and the Mendicants. And it is no wonder, seeing that you never yet had felt a blow, and were without experience of the evils we have to endure, that you did feel angry at such a thing. But we as experienced in many sorts of evil, and as having had our share of insult, may be considered worthy of belief when we exhort Your Reverence, as old age teaches and as reason suggests. Certainly what has happened was dreadful, and more than dreadful,—no one will deny it: that our altars were insulted, our mysteries disturbed, and that we ourselves had to stand between the communicants and those who would stone them, and to make our intercessions a cure for stonings; that the reverence due to virgins was forgotten, and the good order of monks, and the calamity of the poor, who lost even their pity through ferocity. But perhaps it would be better to be patient, and to give an example of patience to many by our sufferings. For argument is not so persuasive of the world in general as is practice, that silent exhortation.

We think it an important matter to obtain penalties from those who have wronged us: an important matter, I say, (for even this is sometimes useful for the correction of others)—but it is far greater and more Godlike, to bear with injuries. For the former course curbs wickedness, but the latter makes men good, which is much better and more perfect than merely being not wicked. Let us consider that the great pursuit of mercifulness is set before us, and let us forgive the wrongs done to us that we also may obtain forgiveness, and let us by kindness lay up a store of kindness.

Phineas was called Zelotes because he ran through the Midianitish woman with the man who was committing fornication with her, and because he took away the reproach from the children of Israel: but he was more praised because he prayed for the people when they had transgressed. Let us then also stand and make propitiation, and let the plague be stayed, and let this be counted unto us for righteousness. Moses also was praised because he slew the Egyptian that oppressed the Israelite; but he was more admirable because he healed by his prayer his sister Miriam when she was made leprous for her murmuring. Look also at what follows. The people of Nineve are threatened with an overthrow, but by their tears they redeem their sin. Manasses was the most lawless of Kings. but is the most conspicuous among those who have attained salvation through mourning.

O Ephraim what shall I do unto thee, saith God. What anger is here expressed—and yet protection is added. What is swifter than Mercy? The Disciples ask for flames of Sodom upon those who drive Jesus away, but He deprecates revenge. Peter cuts off the ear of Malchus, one of those who outraged Him, but Jesus restores it. And what of him who asks whether he must seven times forgive a brother if he has trespassed, is he not condemned for his niggardliness, for to the seven is added seventy times seven? What of the debtor in the Gospel who will not forgive as he has been forgiven? Is it not more bitterly exacted of him for this? And what saith the pattern of prayer? Does it not desire that forgiveness may be earned by forgiveness?

Having so many examples let us imitate the mercy of God, and not desire to learn from ourselves how great an evil is requital of sin. You see the sequence of goodness. First it makes laws, then it commands, threatens, reproaches, holds out warnings, restrains, threatens again, and only when forced to do so strikes the blow, but this little by little, opening the way to amendment. Let us then not strike suddenly (for it is not safe to do so), but being selfrestrained in our fear let us conquer by mercy, and make them our debtors by our kindness, tormenting them by their conscience rather than by anger. Let us not dry up a fig tree which may yet bear fruit, nor condemn it as useless and cumbering the ground, when possibly the care and diligence of a skilful gardener may yet heal it. And do not let us so quickly destroy so great and glorious a work through what is perhaps the spite and malice of the devil; but let us choose to shew ourselves merciful rather than severe, and lovers of the poor rather than of abstract justice; and let us not make more account of those who would enkindle us to this than of those who would restrain us, considering, if nothing else, the disgrace of appearing to contend against mendicants who have this great advantage that even if they are in the wrong they are pitied for their misfortune. But as things are, consider that all the poor and those who support them, and all the Monks and Virgins are falling at your feet and praying you on their behalf. Grant to all these for them this favour (since they have sufferred enough as is clear by what they have asked of us) and above all to me who am their representative. And if it appear to you monstrous that we should have been dishonoured by them, remember that it is far worse that we should not be listened to by you when we make this request of you. May God forgive the noble Paulus his outrages upon us.

Ep. CXV.

(Sent about Easter a.d. 382 with a copy of the Philocalia, or Chrestomathy of Origen’s works edited by himself and S. Basil).

You anticipate the Festival, and the letters, and, which is better still, the time by your eagerness, and you bestow on us a preliminary festival. Such is what Your Reverence gives us. And we in return give you the greatest thing we have, our prayers. But that you may have some small thing to remember us by, we send you the volume of the Philocalia of Origen, containing a selection of passages useful to students of literature. Deign to accept this, and give us a proof of its usefulness, being aided by diligence and the Spirit.


(Written a little later, as a letter of thanks for an Easter Gift. Theodore had quite recently been made Archbishop of Tyana).

We rejoice in the tokens of love, and especially at such a season, and from one at once so young a man, and so perfect; and, to greet you with the words of Scripture, stablished in your youth, for so it calls him who is more advanced in wisdom than his years lead us to expect. The old Fathers prayed for the dew of heaven. and fatness of the earth and other such things for their children, though perhaps some may understand these things in a higher sense; but we will give you back all in a spiritual sense. The Lord fulfil all thy requests, and mayest thou be the father of such children (if I may pray for you concisely and intimately) as you yourself have shewn yourself to your own parents, so that we, as well as every one else, may be glorified concerning you.


You owe me, even as a sick man, tending, for one of the commandments is the visitation of the sick. And you also owe to the Holy Martyrs their annual honour, which we celebrate in your own Arianzus on the 23rd of the month which we call Dathusa. And at the same time there are ecclesiastical affairs not a few which need our common examination. For all these reasons then, I beg you to come at once: for though the labour is great, the reward is equivalent.


(To excuse himself for postponing his acceptance of an invitation).

I reverence your presence, and I delight in your company; although otherwise I counselled

 myself to remain at home and philosophize in quiet, for I found this of all courses the most profitable for myself. And since the winds are still somewhat rough, and my infirmity has not yet left me, I beg you to bear with me patiently for a little while, and to join me in my prayers for health; and as soon as the fit season comes I will attend upon your requests.


(A little later on, when the weather was more settled, Gregory accepts the invitation and proposes to come at once, but declines to attend the Provincial Synod).

You call me? And I hasten, and that for a private visit. Synods and Conventions I salute from afar, since I have experienced that most of them (to speak moderately) are but sorry affairs. What then remains? Help with your prayers my just desires that I may obtain that for which I am anxious.


(On his retirement from Constantinople Gregory had at the request of the Bishops of the Province, and especially of Theodore of Tyana the Metropolitan, and Bosporius Bishop of Colonia (see (letters above) and at the earnest solicitation of the people, undertaken the charge of the Diocese of Nazianzus; but he very soon found that his health was not equal to so great a task, and that he could not fulfil its calls upon him. He struggled on for some time, but at length, finding himself quite unequal to it, he wrote as follows to the Metropolitan:)

It is time for me to use these words of Scripture, To whom shall I cry when I am wronged? Who will stretch out a hand to me when I am oppressed? To whom shall the burden of this Church pass, in its present evil and paralysed condition? I protest before God and the Elect Angels that the Flock of God is being unrighteously dealt with in being left without a Shepherd or a Bishop, through my being laid on the shelf. For I am a prisoner to my ill health and have been very quickly removed thereby from the Church, and made quite useless to everybody, every day breathing my last, and getting more and more crushed by my duties. If the Province had any other head, it would have been my duty to cry out and protest to it continually. But since Your Reverence is the Superior, it is to you I must look. For, to leave out everything else, you shall learn from my fellow—priests, Eulalius the Chorepiscopus and Celeusius, whom I have specially sent to Your Reverence, what these robbers who have now got the upper hand, are both doing and threatening. To repress them is not in the power of my weakness, but belongs to your skill and strength; since to you, with His other gifts God has given that of strength also for the protection of His Church. If in saying and writing this I cannot get a hearing, I shall take the only course remaining to me, that of publicly proclaiming and making known that this Church needs a Bishop, in order that it may not be injured by my feeble health. What is to follow is matter for your consideration.

Ep. CLIII. To Bosporius, Bishop of Colonia.

(S. Gregory had to carry out his threat. He resigned the care of Nazianzus, and nothing would induce him to withdraw his resignation. Bosporius wrote him an urgent letter with this object, but he replied as follows:)

Twice I have been tripped up by you, and have been deceived (you know what I mean), and, if it was justly, may the Lord smell from you an odour of sweet savour; if unjustly, may the Lord pardon it. For so it is reasonable for me to speak of you, seeing we are commanded to be patient when injuries are inflicted on us. But as you are master of your own opinions, so am I of mine. That troublesome Gregory will no longer be troublesome to you. I will withdraw myself to God, Who alone is pure and guileless. I will retire into myself. This I have determined; for to stumble twice on the same stone is attributed by the proverb to fools alone.

Ep. CLVII. To Theodore, Archbishop of Tyana.

(S. Gregory succeeded at the end of a.d. 382 in convincing the Metropolitan and his Comprovincials of his sincerity in desiring to retire; and so they began to cast about for a Successor. Gregory desired that his cousin the

Chorepiscopus Eulalius should be nominated, but the Bishops felt some jealousy at what they took to be an attempt on his part to dictate to them, and refused to allow him to take any part in the election, on the ground that he either never had been, or at any rate had ceased to be one of the Bishops of the Province. He protested, but finding that he could not convince them he withdrew his claim to a vote and wrote to Theodore, as follows:—)

Our spiritual affairs have reached their limit: I will not trouble you any further. Join together: take your precautions: take counsel against us: let our enemies have the victory: let the canons be accurately observed, beginning with us, the most ignorant of men. There is no ill-will in accuracy; only do not let the rights of friendship be impeded. The children of my very honoured son Nicobulus have come to the city to learn shorthand. Be kind enough to look upon them with a fatherly and kindly eye (for the canons do not forbid this), but especially take care that they live near the Church. For I desire that they should be moulded in character to virtue by continual association with Your Perfectness.


(George a layman of Paspasus, was sent by Theodore of Tyana to Saint Gregory that the latter might convince him of his error and sin in repudiating an oath which he had taken, on the ground that it was taken in writing and not viva voce. Gregory seems to have brought him to a better mind, and sent him back to the Metropolitan with the following letter, requesting that due penance be imposed upon him, and have its length regulated by his contrition. This letter was read to the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, by Euphrantes, a successor of Theodore in the See of Tyana, and was accepted by the Fathers, wherefore it is regarded as having almost the force of a Canon of the Church Universal).

God grant you to the Churches, both for our glory, and for the benefit of many, being as you are so circumspect and cautious in spiritual matters as to make us also more cautious who are considered to have some advantage over you in years. Since, however, you have wished to take us as partners in your spiritual inquiry (I mean about the oath which George of Paspasus appears to have sworn), we will declare to Your Reverence what presents itself to our mind. Very many people, as it seems to me, delude themselves by considering oaths which are taken with the sanction of spoken imprecations to be real oaths, but those which are written and not verbally uttered, to be mere matter of form, and no oaths at all. For how can we suppose that while a written schedule of debts is more binding than a verbal acknowledgment, yet a written oath is something other than an oath? Or to speak concisely, we hold an oath to be the assurance given to one who asked for and obtained it. Nor is it sufficient to say that he suffered violence (for the violence was the Law by which he bound himself), nor that afterwards he won the cause in the Law Court—for the very fact that he went to law was a breach of his oath. I have persuaded our brother George of this, not to pretend excuses for his sin, and not to seek out arguments to defend his transgression, but to recognize the writing as an oath, and to bewail his sin before God and Your Reverence, even though he formerly deceived himself and took a different view of it. This is what we have personally argued with him; and it is evident that if you will discourse with him more. carefully, you will deepen his contrition, since you are a great healer of souls, and having treated him according to the Canon for as long a time as shall seem right, you will afterwards be able to confer indulgence upon him in the matter of time. And the measure of the time must be the measure of his compunction.


(Helladius, Archbishop of Caesarea, contested the validity of the election of Eulalius to the Bishopric of Nazianzus, and accused Bosporius of heresy. S. Gregory here throws the whole weight of his authority into the other scale. It is however manifest from the very terms of the letter that the person addressed is not Theodore of Tyana. It was conjectured by Clemencet that perhaps he was Theodore of Mopsuestia).

Envy, which no one easily escapes, has got some foothold amongst us. See, even we Cappadocians are in a state of faction, so to speak—a calamity never heard of before, and not to be believed—so that no flesh may glory in the sight of God, but that we may be careful, since we are all human, not to condemn each other rashly. For myself, there is some gain even from the misfortune (if I may speak somewhat paradoxically), and I really gather a rose out of thorns, as the proverb has it. Hitherto I have never met Your Reverence face to face, nor conversed with you by letter, but have only been illuminated by your reputation; but now I am of necessity compelled to approach you by letter, and I am very grateful to him who has procured me this privilege. I omit to write to the other Bishops about whom you wrote to me, as the opportunity has not yet arisen. Moreover my weak health makes me less active in this matter; but what I write to you I write to them also through you. My Lord the God-beloved Bishop Helladius must cease to waste his labour on our concerns. For it is not through spiritual earnestness, but through party zeal, that he is seeking this; and not for the sake of accurate compliance with the canons, but for the satisfaction of anger, as is evident by the time he has chosen, and because many have moved with him unreasonably, for I must say this, and not trouble myself about it. If I were physically in a condition to govern the Church of Nazianzus, to which I was originally appointed, and not to Sasima as some would falsely persuade you, I should not have been so cowardly or so ignorant of the Divine Constitutions as either to despise that Church, or to seek for an easy life in preference to the prizes which are in store for those who labour according to God’s will, and work with the talent committed to their care. For what profit should I have from my many labours and my great hopes, if I were ill advised in the most important matters? But since my bodily health is bad, as everyone can plainly see, and I have not any responsibility to fear on account of this withdrawal, for the reason I have mentioned, and I saw that the Church through cleaving to me was suffering in its best interests and almost being destroyed through my illness, I prayed both before and now again my Lords the God-beloved Bishops (I mean those of our own Province) to give the Church a head, which they have done by God’s Grace, worthy both of my desire and of your prayers. This I would have you both know yourself, most honourable Lord, and also inform the rest of the Bishops, that they may receive him and support him by their votes, and not bear heavily on my old age by believing the slander. Let me add this to any letter. If your examination finds my Lord the God-beloved Priest Bosporius guilty concerning the faith—a thing which it is not lawful even to suggest—(I pass over his age and my personal testimony) judge him so yourselves. But if the discussion about the dioceses is the cause of this evil report and this novel accusation, do not be led away by the slander, and do not give to falsehoods a greater strength than to the truth, I beg you, lest you should cast into despair those who desire to do what is right. May you be granted good health and spirits and courage and continual progress in the things of God to us and to the Church, whose common boast you are.


(This letter is written at a somewhat earlier date in reference to the consent he had been induced to give to remaining for some time longer as administrator of the See of Nazianzus. It is certainly not addressed to Theodore of Tyana, and it is not known who this Theodore is).

(He Who raised David His servant from the Shepherd’s work to the Throne, and Your Reverence from the flock to the Work of the Shepherd: He that orders our-affairs and those of all who hope in Him according to His own Will: may He now put it into the mind of Your Reverence to know the dishonour which I have suffered at the hands of my Lords the Bishops in the matter of their votes, in that they have agreed to the Election, but have excluded us. I will not lay the blame on Your Reverence, because you have but recently come to preside over our affairs, and are, as is to be expected, for the most part unacquainted with our history. This is quite enough: for I have no mind to trouble you further, that I may not seem burdensome at the very beginning of our friendship. But I will tell you what suggests itself to me in taking counsel with God. I retired from the Church at Nazianzus, not as either despising God, or looking down on the littleness of the flock (God forbid that a philosophic soul should be so disposed); but first because I am not bound by any such appointment: and secondly because I am broken down by my ill health, and do not think myself equal to such anxieties. And since you too have been heavy on me, in reproaching me with my resignation, and I myself could not endure the clamours against me, and since the times are bard, threatening us with an inroad of enemies to the injury of the commonwealth of the whole Church, I finally made up my mind to suffer a defeat which is painful to my body, but perhaps not bad for my soul. I make over this miserable body to the Church for as long as it may be possible, thinking it better to suffer any distress to the flesh rather than to incur a spiritual injury myself or to inflict it upon others, who have thought the worst of us, judging from their own experience. Knowing this, do pray for me, and approve my resolution: and perhaps it is not out of place to say, mould yourself to piety.

Gregory Naz. 33400