« Hadrianus, Publius Aelius, emperor Hecebolius, a rhetor at Constantinople Hedibia, a lady in Gaul »

Hecebolius, a rhetor at Constantinople

Hecebolius or Hecebolus, a rhetor at Constantinople in the reign of Constantius, who professed himself a "fervent" Christian, and was therefore selected by that emperor as one of the teachers of Julian (Socr. iii. 1, 13). After the death of Constantius, however, Hecebolius followed the example of his former pupil and became a "fierce pagan" (γοργὸς Ἕλλην; Socr. u.s. 13). He was in great favour with Julian, and appears to have been one of his familiar correspondents (Julian, Ep. 19, ed. Heyler, p. 23; Ἑκηβὸλῳ), and seems to have had some civil office at Edessa. The Arians of that city, "in the insolence of wealth," had violently attacked the Valentinians. Julian wrote to Hecebolius to say that, "since they had done what could not be allowed in any well-governed city," "in order to help the men the more easily to enter the kingdom of heaven as it was prescribed" by their "most wonderful law, he had commanded all moneys to be taken away from the church of the Edessenes, that they might be distributed among the soldiers, and that its property should be confiscated to his private treasury; that being poor they might become wise and not lose the kingdom of heaven which they hoped for" (Julian, Ep. 43, ed. Heyler, p. 82; Baron. s.a. 362, xiii.; Soz. vi. 1). Such appropriation of church property was one of the crimes of which Julian was accused after his death (Greg. Naz. adv. Jul. Orat. iii.). The emperor adds that he had charged the inhabitants of Edessa to abstain from "riot and strife," lest "they themselves" should suffer "the sword, exile, and fire." The last sentence in the letter appears to intimate that he would hold Hecebolius personally responsible for the future good conduct of the city. After the death of Julian and the reversal of the imperial policy, Hecebolius ostentatiously professed extreme penitence for his apostasy and prostrated himself at the church door, crying to all that entered, "Trample upon me—the salt that has lost its savour" (Socr. iii. 13; Baron. u.s. = Matt. v. 13). Baronius assumes the identity of the magistrate of Edessa with the "rhetor" of Constantinople (s.a. 362, xiii. xiv.), but Tillemont regards them as different persons (Mém. vii. 331, 332). Libanius mentions a Hecebolius, but gives us no clue to his history (Ep. 309).


« Hadrianus, Publius Aelius, emperor Hecebolius, a rhetor at Constantinople Hedibia, a lady in Gaul »
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