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VII.—The Breach with Gregory of Nazianzus.
Cappadocia, it has been seen, had been divided
into two provinces, and of one of these Tyana had been constituted the
chief town. Anthimus, bishop of Tyana, now contended that an
ecclesiastical partition should follow the civil, and that Tyana should
enjoy parallel metropolitan privileges to those of Cæsarea.
To this claim Basil determined to offer an uncompromising resistance,
and summoned Gregory of Nazianzus to his side. Gregory replied in
friendly and complimentary terms,187187 Greg.
Naz., Ep. xlvii. and pointed out
that Basil’s friendship for Eustathius of Sebaste was a cause of
suspicion in the Church. At the same time he placed himself at
the archbishop’s disposal. The friends started together
with a train of slaves and mules to collect the produce of the
monastery of St. Orestes, in Cappadocia Secunda, which was the property
of the see of Cæsarea. Anthimus blocked the defiles with his
retainers and in the vicinity of Sasima188188 cf.
Maran, Vit. Bas. xxiii. 4. there
was an unseemly struggle between the domestics of the two
Naz., Or. xliii. 58, and Ep. xlviii. Bas.,
Epp. lxxiv., lxxv., lxxvi. The friends
proceeded to Nazianzus, and there, with imperious inconsiderateness,
Basil insisted upon nominating Gregory to one of the bishoprics which
he was founding in order to strengthen his position against
Anthimus.190190 It has
been debated whether the odium theologicum was here mixed up
with the odium ecclesiasticum. Gregory (Orat.
xliii. 58) represents Anthimus as defending his seizure of the
metropolitan revenues on the ground that it was wrong
κακοδόξοις, to pay tribute to men of evil opinions, and LeClerc (Bibl.
Univer. xviii. p. 60) has condemned Anthimus as an Arian. He
was undoubtedly Αρή&
187·ος (Greg. Naz., Ep. xlviii.), a
devotee of Ares, as he shewed in the skirmish by Sasima; but there is
no reason to suppose him to have been Αρειανός, or
Arian. He probably looked askance at the orthodoxy of
Basil. Basil would never have called him ὁμόψυχος
(Ep. ccx. 5) if he had been unsound on the
incarnation. cf. Baronius, Act. Sanc. Maj. ii. p.
394. For Gregory,
the brother, Nyssa was selected, a town on the Halys, about a hundred
miles distant from Cæsarea, so obscure that Eusebius of Samosata
remonstrated with Basil on the unreasonableness of forcing such a man
to undertake the episcopate of such a place.191191 Ep.
xcviii., but see note, p. 182, on the doubt as to this
For Gregory, the friend, a similar fate was ordered. The spot
chosen was Sasima, a townlet commanding the scene of the recent
Naz., with grim humour, objects to be sent to Sasima to fight for
Basil’s supply of sucking pigs and poultry from St.
Orestes. Ep. xlviii. It was an
insignificant place at the bifurcation of the road leading
northwards from Tyana to Doara and diverging westward to
“Nyssa was more clearly than either Sasima or Doara a
part of Cappadocia Secunda; it always retained its ecclesiastical
dependence on Cæsarea, but politically it must have been
subject to Tyana from 372 to 536, and afterwards to Mokissos.
All three were apparently places to which Basil consecrated bishops
during his contest with Anthimus and the civil power. His
bishop of Nyssa, his own brother Gregory, was ejected by the
dominant Arians, but the eminence and vigour of Gregory secured his
reinstatement and triumphant return. Basil’s appointment
was thus successful, and the connexion always continued. His
appointment at Sasima was unsuccessful. Gregory of Nazianzus
would not maintain the contest, and Sasima passed under the
metropolitan of Tyana. At Doara, in like fashion,
Basil’s nominee was expelled, and apparently never
reinstated. Ep. ccxxxix. Greg. Naz. Or.
xiii.” Ramsay, Hist. Geog. of A.M.
xxviGregory speaks of it
with contempt, and almost with disgust,194194 As in
Carm. De Vita Sua:
Σταθμός τις ἐστὶν ἐν μέσῃ λεωφόρῳ
Τῆς Καππαδοκῶν ὃς σχίζετ᾽ εἰς τρισσὴν ὁδόν.
῎Ανυδρος, ἄχλους, οὐδ᾽ ὅλως ἐλεύθερος,
Δεινῶς ἐπευκτὸν καὶ στενὸν κωμύδριον,
Κόνις τὰ πάντα, καὶ ψόφοι, σὺν ἅρμασι,
Θρῆνοι, στεναγμοὶ, πράκτορες, στρέβλαι, πέδαι·
Λαὸς δ᾽ ὅσοι ξένοι τε καὶ πλανώμενοι,
Αὕτη Σασίμων τῶν ἐμῶν ἐκκλησία.
[N.B.—The last line marks the quantity.]
“A post town on the king’s high road,
Where three ways meet, is my abode;
No brooklet, not a blade of grass,
Enlivens the dull hole, alas!
Dust, din, all day; the creak of wheels;
Groans, yells, the exciseman at one’s heels
With screw and chain; the population
A shifting horde from every nation.
A viler spot you long may search,
Than this Sasima, now my church!” and never seems to have forgiven his old friend for forcing him to accept the responsibility of the episcopate, and in such a place.195195 It is curious that a place which had so important a connexion with Gregory the divine should have passed so completely into oblivion. From it he derived his episcopal rank. His consecration to Sasima was the main ground of the objection of his opponents at Constantinople in 381 to his occupying the see of the imperial city. He was bishop of Sasima, and, by the fifteenth Canon of Nicæa, could not be transferred to Constantinople. He never was bishop of Nazianzus, though he did administer that diocese before the appointment of Eulalius in 383. But while the name “Gregory of Nazianzus” has obscured the very existence of his father, who was really Gregory of Nazianzus, and is known even to the typical schoolboy, Gregory has never been described as “Gregory of Sasima.” “The great plain which extends from Sasima nearly to Soandos is full of underground houses and churches, which are said to be of immense extent. The inhabitants are described by Leo Diaconus (p. 35) as having been originally named Troglodytes.…Every house in Hassa Keni has an underground story cut out of the rock; long narrow passages connect the underground rooms belonging to each house, and also run from house to house. A big solid disc of stone stands in a niche outside each underground house door, ready to be pulled in front of the door on any alarm.…Sasima was on the road between Nazianzus and Tyana. The distances point certainly to Hassa Keni.…An absolutely unhistorical legend about St. Makrina is related at Hassa Keni. Recently a good-sized church has been built in the village, evidently on the site of an ancient church; it is dedicated to St. Makrina, who, as the village priest relates, fled hither from Kaisari to escape marriage, and to dedicate herself to a saintly life. The underground cell in which she lived is below the church.” Ramsay, Hist. Geog. of Asia Minor, pp. 293, 294. Paul Lucas identified Sasima with Inschesu. Gregory resigned the distasteful post,196196 cf. Greg. Naz. Ep. l. and with very bitter feelings. The utmost that can be said for Basil is that just possibly he was consulting for the interest of the Church, and meaning to honour his friend, by placing Gregory in an outpost of peril and difficulty. In the kingdom of heaven the place of trial is the place of trust.197197 cf. De Joinville’s happy illustration of this in Histoire du roi Saint Louis, p. 18. Ed. 1617. The King of France would shew more confidence in the captain whom he might choose to defend La Rochelle, close to the English pale, than in the keeper of Monthléry, in the heart of the realm. But, unfortunately for the reputation of the archbishop, the war in this case was hardly the Holy War of truth against error and of right against wrong. It was a rivalry between official and official, and it seemed hard to sacrifice Gregory to a dispute between the claims of the metropolitans of Tyana and Cæsarea.198198 At the same time it is disappointing to find Gregory mixing up with expressions of reluctance to assume awful responsibilities, objections on the score of the disagreeable position of Sasima. Perhaps something of the sentiments of Basil on this occasion may be inferred from what he says in Letter cii. on the postponement of private to public considerations in the case of the appointment of Pœmenius to Satala.
Gregory the elder joined in persuading his
son. Basil had his way. He won a convenient suffragan for
the moment. But he lost his friend. The sore was never
healed, and even in the great funeral oration in which Basil’s
virtues and abilities are extolled, Gregory traces the main trouble of
his chequered career to Basil’s unkindness, and owns to feeling
the smart still, though the hand that inflicted the wound was
xliii. cf. Newman, The Church of the Fathers,
p. 142, where the breach is impartially commented on:
“An ascetic, like Gregory, ought not to have complained of
the country as deficient in beauty and interest, even though he
might be allowed to feel the responsibility of a situation which
made him a neighbor of Anthimus. Yet such was his infirmity;
and he repelled the accusations of his mind against himself by
charging Basil with unkindness in placing him at Sasima. On
the other hand, it is possible that Basil, in his eagerness for
the settlement of his exarchate, too little consulted the
character and taste of Gregory; and, above all, the feelings of
duty which bound him to Nazianzus.…Henceforth no letters,
which are preserved, passed between the two friends; nor are any
acts of intercourse discoverable in their history. Anthimus
appointed a rival bishop to Sasima; and Gregory, refusing to
contest the see with him, returned to Nazianzus. Basil
laboured by himself. Gregory retained his feelings of
Basil’s unkindness even after his death.…This
lamentable occurrence took place eight or nine years before
Basil’s death; he had, before and after it, many trials,
many sorrows; but this probably was the greatest of
all.” The statement that no letters which are
preserved passed between the two friends henceforth will have to
be modified, if we suppose Letter clxix. to be addressed to
Gregory the Divine. But Professor Ramsay’s arguments
(Hist. Geog. of Asia Minor, p. 293) in favour of Gregory of
Nazianzus the elder seem irresistible.
On Letter clxix. he writes: “For topographical purposes it is necessary to discover who was the Gregory into whose diocese Glycerius fled. Tillemont considers that either Gregory of Nyssa or Gregory of Nazianzus is meant. But the tone of the letter is not what we might expect if Basil were writing to either of them. It is not conceived in the spirit of authority in which Basil wrote to his brother or to his friend. It appears to me to show a certain deference which, considering the resolute, imperious, and uncompromising character of Basil (seen especially in his behaviour to Gregory Nazianzen in the matter of the bishopric of Sasima), I can explain only on the supposition that he is writing to the aged and venerable Gregory, bishop of Nazianzos. Then the whole situation is clear. Venasa was in the district of Malakopaia, or Suvermez, towards the limits of the diocese of Cæsareia. The adjoining bishopric was that of Nazianzos. Venasa being so far from Cæsareia was administered by one of the fifty chorepiscopi whom Basil had under him (Tillemont, Mem. p. servir, etc., ix. p. 120), and the authority of Basil was appealed to only in the final resort. Glycerius, when Basil decided against him, naturally fled over the border into the diocese of Nazianzos.” (There is, however, not much reverence in Letter clxxi.)
“Comment l’homme qui avait tant souffert de l’injustice des autres, put-il être injuste envers son meilleur ami? L’amitié est de tous les pays. Partout, on voit des hommes qui semblent nés l’un pour l’autre, se rapprocher par une estime mutuelle, par la conformité de leurs gouts et de leurs caractères partager les peines et les joies de la vie, et donner le spectacle du plus beau sentiment que nous avons reçu de la divinité. Mais la Grèce avait singulièrement ennobli ce sentiment dejà si pur et si saint, en lui donnant pour but l’amour de la patrie. Les amis, destines a se servir l’un à l’autre de modèle et de soutien, s’aiment moins pour eux-mêmes, que pour rivaliser de vertu, se dévouer ensemble, s’immoler s’il le faut, au bien public.…C’est cette amitié de dévouement et de sacrifice, qu’au milieu de la mollesse du IVme siècle, Basil conçoit pour Grégoire de Nazianze. Formée dans les écoles, entretenne par l’amour des lettres, elle avait pour but unique, non plus la patrie, mais Dieu. L’amitié de Grégoire et plus tendre et plus humaine.…Il a voué sa vie à son ami, mais il en attend la même condescendance, le même denouement à ses propres désirs. Basile au contraire, semble prendre à la lettre ce qu’il a lu dans Plutarque et dans Xénophon de l’amitié antique.” E. Fialon, Et. Hist. In other words, Gregory’s idea of friendship was to sacrifice one’s self: Basil’s to sacrifice one’s friend. This is an interesting vindication of Basil, but the cause of God was hardly identical with the humiliation of Anthimus.
xxviiWith Anthimus peace was ultimately established. Basil vehemently desired it.200200 Ep. xcvii. Eusebius of Samosata again intervened.201201 Ep. xcviii. Nazianzus remained for a time subject to Cæsarea, but was eventually recognized as subject to the Metropolitan of Tyana.202202 Greg. Naz., Ep. clii.
The relations, however, between the two metropolitans remained for some time strained. When in Armenia in 372, Basil arranged some differences between the bishops of that district, and dissipated a cloud of calumny hanging over Cyril, an Armenian bishop.203203 Ep. xcix. He also acceded to a request on the part of the Church of Satala that he would nominate a bishop for that see, and accordingly appointed Pœmenius, a relation of his own.204204 Epp. cii., ciii. Later on a certain Faustus, on the strength of a recommendation from a pope with whom he was residing, applied to Basil for consecration to the see, hitherto occupied by Cyril. With this request Basil declined to comply, and required as a necessary preliminary the authorisation of the Armenian bishops, specially of Theodotus of Nicopolis. Faustus then betook himself to Anthimus, and succeeded in obtaining uncanonical consecration from him. This was naturally a serious cause of disagreement.205205 Epp. cxx., cxxi., cxxii. However, by 375, a better feeling seems to have existed between the rivals. Basil is able at that date to speak of Anthimus as in complete agreement with him.206206 Ep. ccx.
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