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§ 151. Eustathius of Thessalonica.


I. Eustathius: Opera omnia in Migne, Patrol. Gr. Tom. CXXXV. col. 517; CXXXVI. col. 764 (reprint of L. F. Tafel’s ed. of the Opuscula. Frankfort, 1832, and appendix to De Thessalonica. Berlin, 1839. Tafel published a translation of Eustathius’ ’ jEpivskeyi” bivou monacikou’. Betrachtungen über den Mönchstand. Berlin, 1847. The valuable De capta Thessalonica narratio was reprinted from Tafel in a vol. of the “Corpus scriptorum historiae Byzantinae” (Bonn, 1842, pp. 365–512), accompanied with a Latin translation.

II. The funeral orations by Euthymius of Neopatria and Michael Choniates in Migne, Patrol. Gr. CXXXVI. col. 756–764, and CXL. col. 337–361. Fabricius: Bibliotheca Graeca, ed. Harless, XI. 282–84. Neander, IV. 530–533, and his essay, Characteristik des Bustathius von Thessalonich in seiner reformatorischen Richtung, 1841, reprinted in his “Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen,” Berlin, 1851, pp. 6–21, trans. in Kitto’s “Journal of Sacred Literature,” vol. IV., pp. 101 sqq.


Eustathius, archbishop of Thessalonica and metropolitan, the most learned man of his day, was born in Constantinople, and lived under the Greek emperors from John Comnenus to Isaac II. Angelus, i.e., between 1118 and 1195. His proper name is unknown, that of Eustathius having been assumed on taking monastic vows. His education was carried on in the convent of St. Euphemia, but he became a monk in the convent of St. Florus. He early distinguished himself for learning, piety and eloquence, and thus attracted the notice of the Emperor Manuel, who made him successively tutor to his son John, deacon of St. Sophia and master of petitions, a court position. In the last capacity he presented at least one petition to the Emperor, that from the Constantinopolitans during a severe drought.960960    Manuel was warlike and dissolute and ground the people down under heavy taxes. The petition alluded to is given in Migne, CXXXV. col. 925-932. Cf Gibbon, Harpers’ ed. V. 81, 82.

To this period of his life probably belong those famous commentaries upon the classic authors,961961    Homer, Dionysius Periegetes the geographer, Pindar and probably Aristophanes. His “vast commentary” on Homer is a perfect storehouse of classical learning and Homeric criticism, and has unique value from its numerous extracts of lost scholia. It was first published and beautifully printed, at Rome, 1542-50. 4 vols. Perhaps tidings of its prospective issue had reached Zwingli; for his friend James Amman writes to him from Milan on April 19, 1520, evidently in answer to his queries: Commentaria Eustothii in Homerum Mediolani non extant, nec satis compertum habes, num Romae an vel alibi excusa sint; nemo id me edocere potest. Zwingli, Opera, VII. 131. The Proaemium to Pindar, all that is now extant, is given in Migne, CXXXVI. col. 369-372 Greek only). The commentary on Dionysius Periegetes was first printed by Robert Stephens, Paris, 1547. by which alone he was known until Tafel published his theological and historical works. But Providence designed Eustathius to play a prominent part in practical affairs, and so the Emperor Manuel appointed him bishop of Myra,962962    See hisAllocatio ad Imperatorem cum esset Myrorum metropolita electus in Migne, CXXXV. col. 933-973. the capital of Lycia in Asia Minor, and ere he had entered on this office transferred him to the archbishopric of Thessalonica (1175). He was a model bishop, pious, faithful, unselfish, unsparing in rebuke and wise in counsel, “one of those pure characters so rarely met among the Greeks—a man who well knew the failings [superstition, mock-holiness and indecorous frivolity] of his nation and his times, which he was more exempt from than any of his contemporaries.963963    Neander, IV. 530-531. His courage was conspicuous on several occasions. The Emperor Manuel in a Synod at Constantinople in 1180 attempted to have abrogated the formula of adjuration, “Anathema to Mohammed’s God, of whom he says that he neither begat nor was begotten,” which all who came over from Mohammedanism to Christianity had to repeat. Manuel argued that this formula was both blasphemous and prejudicial to the spread of Christianity in Islam. But Eustathius dared to brave the emperor’s rage and deny the truth of this argument. The result was a modification of the formula.964964    Ibid 535. Although Manuel threatened to impeach Eustathius, he really did not withdraw his favor, and the archbishop was summoned to preach the sermon at the emperor’s funeral.965965    Migne, CXXXV. col. 973-1032. When in 1185 Thessalonica was sacked by Count Alduin acting under William II. of Sicily, Eustathius remained in the city and by direct personal effort procured some alleviation of the people’s sufferings, and defended their worship against the fanatical Latins.966966    He wrote a valuable history of this siege, Narratio de Thessalonica urbe a Latinis capta, Migne, CXXXVI. col. 9-140. Again, he interposed his influence to keep the Thessalonians from the rapacity of the imperial tax-gatherers. But notwithstanding his high character and unsparing exertions on behalf of Thessalonica there were enough persons there who were incensed against him by his plain speaking to effect his banishment. This probably happened during the reign of the infamous Andronicus (1180–1183), who was unfriendly to Eustathius. A brief experience of the result of his absence led to his recall, and he ended his days in increased esteem. It is strange indeed to find Eustathius and Calvin alike in their expulsion and recall to the city they had done so much to save.

His writings upon practical religious topics have great interest and value. Besides sermons upon Psalm xlviii.,967967    Migne, CXXXV. col. 520-540. on an auspicious year,968968    Ibid. col. 540-560. four during Lent,969969    Four orations, ibid. col. 561-728. in which he specially inveighs against the lax marital customs, and five on different martyrs,970970    CXXXVI. col. 141-216; 264-301. he wrote an enthusiastic treatise in praise of monasticism971971    De emendanda vita monachica, CXXXV. col. 729-909. if properly used, while at the same time he faithfully rebuked the common faults of the monks, their sloth, their hypocrisy and their ignorance, which had made the very name of monk a reproach. To the Stylites,972972    Ad Stylitam quendam Thessalonicensem, CXXXVI. col. 217-264. he was particularly plain in setting forth their duty. By reason of their supposed sanctity they were sought by all classes as oracles. He seeks therefore to impress them with their responsibility, and tells them always to speak fearlessly, irrespective of person; not flattering the strong nor domineering the weak. He addressed also the laity, not only in the sermons already mentioned, but in separate treatises,973973    Epistola ad Thessalonicenses, CXXXV. col. 1032-1060; De obedientia magistratui Christiano debita, CXXXVI. col. 301-357; De simulatione, ibid. col. 373-408; Adversus implacabilitatis accusationem (or Contra injuriarum memoriam), ibid. col. 408-500. and with great earnestness and tenderness exhorted them to obedience to their lawful rulers, and rebuked them for their hypocrisy, which was the crying sin of the day, and for their vindictiveness. He laid down the true gospel principle: love is the central point of the Christian life. His letters974974    CXXXVI. col. 1245-1334 (Greek only). of which 75 have been published, give us a vivid picture of the time, and bear unconscious testimony to his virtue. To his Interpretation of the Pentecostal hymn of John of Damascus Cardinal Mai accords the highest praise.975975    Interpretatio hymni Pentecostalis Damasceni in Mai, Spicilegium Romanum, V. (Rome, 1841) pp. xxiv. 161-383, and in Migne, CXXXVI. col. 504-753.



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