« Prev To Hermammon. Next »

Epistle XI.—To Hermammon.875875    Eusebius, Hist. Eccles., vii. 1, 10, 23. Eusebius introduces this extract thus: “In an epistle to Hermammon, Dionysus makes the following remarks upon Gallus” the Emperor.


1. But Gallus did not understand the wickedness of Decius, nor did he note beforehand what it was that wrought his ruin. But he stumbled at the very stone which was lying before his eyes; for when his sovereignty was in a prosperous position, and when affairs were turning out according to his wish,876876    κατὰ νοῦν is the reading in the Codices Maz., Med., Fuk, and Savil., and adopted by Rufinus and others. But Robertus Stephanus, from the Codex Regius, gives κατὰ ῥοῦν, “according to the stream,” i.e., favourably. he oppressed those holy men who interceded with God on behalf of his peace and his welfare. And consequently, persecuting them, he persecuted also the prayers offered in his own behalf.

2. And to John a revelation is made in like manner:877877    Eusebius prefaces this extract thus: “Gallus had not held the government two full years when he was removed, and Valerian, together with his son Gallienus, succeeded him. And what Dionysius has said of him may be learned from his Epistle to Hermammon, in which he makes the following statement.” “And there was given unto him,” he says, “a mouth speaking great things, and blasphemy; and power was given unto him, and forty and two months.”878878    ἐξουσία καὶ μῆνες τεσσαρακονταδύο. Rev. xiii. 5. Baronius expounds the numbers as referring to the period during which the persecution under Valerian continued: see him, under the year 257 a.d., ch. 7. [See Introductory Note, p. 78, supra. Here is a quotation from the Apocalypse to be noted in view of our author’s questionings, part i., i. 5, p. 83, supra.] And one finds both things to wonder at in Valerian’s case; and most especially has one to consider how different it was with him before these events,879879    The text is, καὶ τούτων μάλιστα τὰ πρὸ αὐτοῦ ὡς οὕτως ἔσχε συννοεῖν· ἕως ἤπιος, etc. Gallandi emends the sentence thus: καὶ αὐτοῦ τὰ μάλιστα πρὸ τούτων, ὡς οὐχ οὕτως ἔσχε, συννοεῖν, ἔως ἤπιος, etc. Codex Regius gives ὡς μὲν ἤπιος. But Codices Maz. and Med. give ἕως ἤπιος, while Fuk. and Savil. give ἔως γὰρ ἤπιος.—how mild and well-disposed he was towards the men of God. For among the emperors who preceded him, there was not one who exhibited so kindly and favourable a disposition toward them as he did; yea, even those who were said to have become Christians openly880880    He means the Emperor Philip who, as many of the ancients have recorded, was the first of the Roman emperors to profess the Christian religion. But as Dionysius speaks in the plural number, to Philip may be added Alexander Severus, who had an image of Christ in the chapel of his Lares, as Lampridius testifies, and who favoured and sustained the Christians during the whole period of his empire. It is to be noted further, that Dionysius says of these emperors only that they were said and thought to be Christians, not that they were so in reality.—Gallandi did not receive them with that extreme friendliness and graciousness with which he received them at the beginning 107of his reign; and his whole house was filled then with the pious, and it was itself a very church of God. But the master and president881881    ἀρχισυνάγωγος. of the Magi of Egypt882882    Baronius thinks that this was that Magus who, a little while before the empire of Decius, had incited the Alexandrians to persecute the Christians, and of whom Dionysius speaks in his Epistle to Fabius. What follows here, however, shows that Macrianus is probably the person alluded to. prevailed on him to abandon that course, urging him to slay and persecute those pure and holy men as adversaries and obstacles to their accursed and abominable incantations. For there are, indeed, and there were men who, by their simple presence, and by merely showing themselves, and by simply breathing and uttering some words, have been able to dissipate the artifices of wicked demons. But he put it into his mind to practise the impure rites of initiation, and detestable juggleries, and execrable sacrifices, and to slay miserable children, and to make oblations of the offspring of unhappy fathers, and to divide the bowels of the newly-born, and to mutilate and cut up the creatures made by God, as if by such means they883883    εὐδαιμονήσοντας. So Codices Maz., Med., Fuk. and Savil. read: others give εὐδαιμονήσαντας. It would seem to require εὐδαιμονήσοντα, “as if he would attain;” for the reference is evidently to Valerian himself. would attain to blessedness.

3. Afterwards he subjoins the following:—Splendid surely were the thank-offerings, then, which Macrianus brought them884884    By the αὐτοῖς some understand τοῖς βασιλεῦσι; others better, τοῖς δαίμοσι. According to Valesius, the sense is this: that Macrianus having, by the help and presages of the demons, attained his hope of empire, made a due return to them, by setting Valerian in arms against the Christians. for that empire which was the object of his hopes; who, while formerly reputed as the sovereign’s faithful public treasurer,885885    ἐπὶ τῶν καθόλου λόγων. The Greeks gave this name to those officials whom the Latins called rationales, or procuratores summæ rei. Under what emperor Macrianus was procurator, is left uncertain here. had yet no mind for anything which was either reasonable in itself or conducive to the public good,886886    οὐδὲν εὔλογον οὐδὲ καθολικὸν ἐφρόνησεν. There is a play here on the two senses of the word καθολικός , as seen in the official title ἐπὶ τῶν καθόλου λόγων, and in the note of character in οὐδὲ καθολικόν. But it can scarcely be reproduced in the English. but subjected himself to that curse of prophecy which says, “Woe unto those who prophesy from their own heart, and see not the public good!”887887    οὐαὶ τοῖς προφητεύουσιν ἀπὸ καρδίας αὐτῶν καὶ τὸ καθόλου μὴ βλέπουσιν. The quotation is probably from Ezek. xiii. 3, of which Jerome gives this interpretation: Vae his qui prophetant ex corde suo et omnino non vident. For he did not discern that providence which regulates all things; nor did he think of the judgment of Him who is before all, and through all, and over all. Wherefore he also became an enemy to His Catholic Church; and besides that, he alienated and estranged himself from the mercy of God, and fled to the utmost possible distance from His salvation.888888    Robertus Stephanus edits τῆς ἑαυτοῦ ἐκκλησίας, “from his Church,” following the Codex Medicæus. But the best manuscripts give σωτηρίας. And in this indeed he demonstrated the reality of the peculiar significance of his name.889889    A play upon the name Macrianus, as connected with μακράν, “at a distance.” [This playfulness runs through the section.]

4. And again, after some other matters, he proceeds thus:—For Valerian was instigated to these acts by this man, and was thereby exposed to contumely and reproach, according to the word spoken by the Lord to Isaiah: “Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their own abominations in which their souls delighted; I also will choose their mockeries,890890    ἐμπαίγματα. and will recompense their sin.”891891    Isa. lxvi. 3, 4. But this man892892    Christophorsonus refers this to Valerian. But evidently the οὗτος δέ introduces a different subject in Macrianus; and besides, Valerian could not be said to have been originally unworthy of the power which he aspired to. (Macrianus), being maddened with his passion for the empire, all unworthy of it as he was, and at the same time having no capacity for assuming the insignia of imperial government,893893    τὸν βασίλειον ὑποδῦναι κόσμον. by reason of his crippled894894    ἀναπήρῳ. body,895895    Joannes Zonaras, in his Annals, states that Macrianus was lame. put forward his two sons as the bearers, so to speak, of their father’s offences. For unmistakeably apparent in their case was the truth of that declaration made by God, when He said, “Visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” For he heaped his own wicked passions, for which he had failed in securing satisfaction,896896    ὧν ἠτυχει. So Codex Regius reads. But Codices Maz., Med., and Fuk. give ηὐτύχει, “in which he succeeded.” upon the heads of his sons, and thus wiped off897897    ἐξωμόρξατο. upon them his own wickedness, and transferred to them, too, the hatred he himself had shown toward God.

5.898898    Eusebius introduces the extract thus: He (Dionysius) addressed also an epistle to Hermammon and the brethren in Egypt; and after giving an account of the wickedness of Decius and his successors, he states many other circumstances, and also mentions the peace of Gallienus. And it is best to hear his own relation as follows. That man,899899    This is rightly understood of Macrianus, by whose treachery Valerian came under the power of the Persians. Aurelius Victor, Syncellus, and others, testify that Valerian was overtaken by that calamity through the treachery of his generals. then, after he had betrayed the one and made war upon the other of the emperors preceding him, speedily perished, with his whole family, root and branch. And Gallienus was proclaimed, and acknowledged by all. And he was at once an old emperor and a new; for he was prior to those, and he also survived them. To this effect indeed is the word spoken by the Lord to Isaiah: “Behold, the things which were from the beginning have come to pass; and there are new things which shall now arise.”900900    Isa. xlii. 9. For as a cloud which intercepts the sun’s rays, and overshadows it for a little, obscures it, and appears itself in its place, but again, when the cloud has passed by or melted away, the sun, which had risen before, comes forth again and shows itself: so did this Macrianus put himself forward,901901    προστάς. But Valesius would read προσστάς, adstans. and achieve access902902    προσπελάσας is the reading of three of the codices and of Nicephorus; others give προπελάσας. for himself even to the very 108empire of Gallienus now established; but now he is that no more, because indeed he never was it, while this other, i.e., Gallienus, is just as he was. And his empire, as if it had cast off old age, and had purged itself of the wickedness formerly attaching to it, is at present in a more vigorous and flourishing condition, and is now seen and heard of at greater distances, and stretches abroad in every direction.

6. Then he further indicates the exact time at which he wrote this account, as follows:—And it occurs to me again to review the days of the imperial years. For I see that those most impious men, whose names may have been once so famous, have in a short space become nameless. But our more pious and godly prince903903    [Rom. xiii. 4, 6. St. Paul’s strong expressions in this place must explain these expressions. A prince was, quoad hoc, comparatively speaking, godly and pious, as he “attended continually to this very thing.” So, “most religious,” in the Anglican Liturgy.] has passed his septennium, and is now in his ninth year, in which we are to celebrate the festival.904904    Who ever expressed himself thus,—that one after his seven years was passing his ninth year? This septennium (επταετηρίς ) must designate something peculiar, and different from the time following it. It is therefore the septennium of imperial power which he had held along with his father. In the eighth year of that empire, Macrianus possessed himself of the imperial honour specially in Egypt. After his assumption of the purple, however, Gallienus had still much authority in Egypt. At length, in the ninth year of Gallienus, that is, in 261, Macrianus the father and the two sons being slain, the sovereignty of Gallienus was recognised also among the Egyptians. And then Gallienus gave a rescript to Dionysius, Pinna, and Demetrius, bishops of Egypt, to re-establish the sacred places,—a boon which he had granted in the former year. The ninth year of Gallienus, moreover, began about the midsummer of this year; and the time at which this letter was written by Dionysius, as Eusebius observes, may be gathered from that, and falls consequently before the Paschal season of 262 a.d.Pearson, p. 72. Gall.

« Prev To Hermammon. Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |