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164Chapter XXI.—Kind Treatment of the Persian Captives by Acacius Bishop of Amida.

A noble action of Acacius bishop of Amida, at that time greatly enhanced his reputation among all men. As the Roman soldiery would on no consideration restore to the Persian king the captives whom they had taken, these captives, about seven thousand in number, were being destroyed by famine in devastating Azazene, and this greatly distressed the king of the Persians. Then Acacius thought such a matter was by no means to be trifled with; having therefore assembled his clergy, he thus addressed them: ‘Our God, my brethren, needs neither dishes nor cups; for he neither eats nor drinks, nor is in want of anything. Since then, by the liberality of its faithful members the church possesses many vessels both of gold and silver, it behooves us to sell them, that by the money thus raised we may be able to redeem the prisoners and also supply them with food.’ Having said these things and many others similar to these, he ordered the vessels to be melted down, and from the proceeds paid the soldiers a ransom for their captives, whom he supported for some time; and then furnishing them with what was needful for their journey, sent them back to their sovereign. This benevolence on the part of the excellent Acacius, astonished the king of the Persians, as if the Romans were accustomed to conquer their enemies as well by their beneficence in peace as their prowess in war. They say also that the Persian king wished that Acacius should come into his presence, that he might have the pleasure of beholding such a man; a wish which by the emperor Theodosius’ order was soon gratified. So signal a victory having through Divine favor been achieved by the Romans, many who were illustrious for their eloquence, wrote panegyrics in honor of the emperor, and recited them in public. The empress herself also composed a poem in heroic verse: for she had excellent literary taste; being the daughter of Leontius the Athenian sophist, she had been instructed in every kind of learning by her father; Atticus the bishop had baptized her a little while previous to her marriage with the emperor, and had then given her the Christian name of Eudocia,959959    Εὐδοκία, ‘Benevolence.’ instead of her pagan one of Athenaïs.960960    The Chronicon Paschale gives a different account of Eudocia. It says that her father’s name was Heraclitus. When he died her brothers Gesius and Valerian refused to give her her share of the inheritance. She came to Constantinople to plead for her rights through Pulcheria, the sister of Theodosius, and impressed the latter so favorably that Pulcheria persuaded Theodosius to make her his wife (cf. Chronic. Pasch. year 420). Her brothers on hearing of her elevation to the throne fled to Greece, but she sent for them and persuaded Theodosius to appoint them to high offices, on the ground that she was indebted to them for her good fortune (cf. Chronic. Pasch. year 421). Besides her ode commemorating the victory of the imperial forces over the Persians, several other works of hers are mentioned, viz. paraphrases of the Pentateuch, Joshua, and Judges into Greek hexameters, a version of the prophecies of Zachariah and Daniel, and a poem in three books on St. Cyprian and St. Justina; to these Zonaras adds that she completed the Centones Homerici of Patricius. Her later years were clouded by a misunderstanding between her husband and herself, which is variously given by the contemporaneous historians and altogether passed over by Socrates. Cf. Evagrius, H. E. I. 20, 22, and Zonaras Ann. XIII. Many, as I have said, produced eulogiums on this occasion. Some, indeed, were stimulated by the desire of being noticed by the emperor; while others were anxious to display their talents to the masses, being unwilling that the attainments they had made by dint of great exertion should lie buried in obscurity.


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