« Pontius, a deacon of Carthage Porphyrius, patriarch of Antioch Porphyrius, bp. of Gaza »

Porphyrius, patriarch of Antioch

Porphyrius (4), patriarch of Antioch, a.d. 404–413, succeeded Flavian (Socr. H. E. vii. 9), and is described in the dialogue which goes under the name of Palladius as a man of infamous character, who had disgraced the clerical profession by intimacy with the scum of the circus (Pallad. Dial. p. 143). Although his character was notorious, by his cleverness and adroit flattery he obtained considerable influence with the magistrates, and gained the confidence of some leading bishops of the province. Flavian's death having occurred almost contemporaneously with Chrysostom's exile, it became vitally important to the anti-Flavian cabal to have the vacant throne of Antioch filled with a man who would carry out their designs for the complete crushing of Flavian's adherents. Porphyry was chosen. To clear the field Constantius, the trusted friend of Chrysostom, whom the people of Antioch marked out as Flavian's successor, was accused at Constantinople as a disturber of the public peace. By his powerful influence with the party then dominant about the court, Porphyry obtained an imperial rescript banishing Constantius to the Oasis. Constantius anticipated this by fleeing to Cyprus (ib. 145). Porphyry then managed to get into his hands Cyriacus, Diophantus, and other presbyters of the orthodox party who were likely to be troublesome, and seized the opportunity of the Olympian festival at Antioch, when the population had poured forth to the spectacles of Daphne, to lock himself and his three consecrators, Acacius, Antiochus, and Severianus, whom he had kept hiding at his own house, with a few of the clergy, into the chief church, and to receive consecration at their hands. The indignant Antiochenes next morning attacked the house of Porphyry, seeking to burn it over his head. The influence of Porphyry secured the appointment of a savage officer as captain of the city guards, who by threats and violence drove the people to the church (ib. 147). Forewarned of his real character, pope Innocent received Porphyry's request for communion with silence (ib. 141). Porphyry was completely deserted by the chief clergy and all the ladies of rank of Antioch, who refused to approach his church and held their meetings clandestinely (ib. 149). In revenge Porphyry obtained a decree, issued by Arcadius Nov. 18, 404, sentencing all who refused communion with Arsacius, Theophilus, and Porphyry to be expelled from the churches, and instructing the governor of the province to forbid their holding meetings elsewhere (Soz. H. E. viii. 24; Cod. Theod. 16, t. iv. p. 103). His efforts to obtain the recognition of the Antiochenes proving fruitless, while Chrysostom's spiritual power in exile became the greater for all his efforts to crush it, Porphyry's exasperation drove him to take vengeance on Chrysostom. Through his machinations and those of Severianus, orders were issued for the removal of Chrysostom from Cucusus to Pityus, during the execution of which the aged saint's troubles ended by death (Pallad. Dial. p. 97). Porphyry's own death is placed by Clinton (Fast. Rom. ii. 552) in 413 (cf. Theod. H. E. iii. 5). He was succeeded by Alexander, by whom the long distracted church was united. It is a misfortune that the chief and almost only source for the character of Porphyry is the violent pamphlet of Palladius, whose warm partisanship for Chrysostom unduly blackens all his opponents, and refuses them a single redeeming virtue. That Porphyry was not altogether the monster this author represents may be concluded from the statement of the calm and amiable Theodoret, that he "left behind him" at Antioch "many memorials of his kindness and of his remarkable prudence " (Theod. H. E. v. 35), as well as by a still stronger testimony in his favour in Theodoret's letter to Dioscorus, when he calls him one "of blessed and holy memory, who was adorned both with a brilliant life and an acquaintance with divine doctrines" 854(Theod. Ep. 83). Fragments of a letter addressed to Porphyry by Theophilus of Alexandria, recommending him to summon a synod, when some were seeking to revive the heresy of Paul of Samosata, are found in Labbe (Concil. p. 472).

[E.V.]

« Pontius, a deacon of Carthage Porphyrius, patriarch of Antioch Porphyrius, bp. of Gaza »
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