Eustratii Presbyteri: Vita Eutychii Patriarchae Constantinopolitani.
The Life of Eutychius, patriarch of Constantinople AD 552-65 and 577-82, by Eustratius, has up to now had to be read in the 1675 edition of the Acta Sanctorum; this edition was reprinted, though with some divergences, in Migne's Patrologia Graeca and is based on one MS, Vat. gr. 1660, a Studios manuscript dated to AD 916, though with reference to an earlier Latin translation using yen. Marc. fr. 359. There is at present no modern translation or detailed study of the Life, apart from the Leuven doctoral thesis of the work's new editor, Dr Carl Laga (1958), though an English translation and commentary may be expected in due course (see below). Yet this Life, composed by Eutychius' deacon and faithful follower, and apparently delivered as a eulogy in the early part of the reign of Maurice after the funeral of Eutychius in the Church of the Holy Apostles and the death of Tiberius II in August 582, is a document of prime importance. It is not only a saint's life of considerable interest, but also a main historical source for the Fifth Ecumenical Council of 553-54 and the ecclesiastical politics of the capital from the end of the reign of Justinian (565) to that of Tiberius II (578-82).
Eutychius, a relatively obscure monk from Amaseia in the Pontos, was unexpectedly elevated to the patriarchate of Constantinople by Justinian on the death of Menas in August, 552. Justinian needed a reliable man to guide the Council, and Eutychius had recently made a great impression with his powers of argument and debating skill. He played a key role in the proceedings of the Council, but fell foul of Justinian and was exiled by him in 565 when he refused to condone the emperor's late enthusiasm for aphthartodocetism. A period in exile at Amaseia followed, which is represented in the Life by a catalogue of local miracles performed by Eutychius, but he was recalled to the patriarchate on the death of John Scholasticus in 577. The religious politics of Constantinople in these years were tense, and divisions went deep, as can be seen from the Monophysite account, very hostile to Eutychius, given in John of Ephesus' Ecclesiastical History (contrast Evagrius' Chalcedonian version, composed in the 590S). Eustratius' Life is both a eulogy and an apologia; it reminds its audience of Eutychius' great days at the Council, and deflects attention from his subsequent exile and the controversies of his second patriarchate by showing him also as a provincial healer and miracle worker, and by dwelling with every possible rhetorical embellishment on the panegyrical topos of his return and adventus in Constantinople in 577 and of the imperial favour he received in his later years.
The Life is highly rhetorical in style, with frequent scriptural allusions and citations of the Cappadocians (see Anna Wilson, Studia Patristica 18 (1985), 303-309). Eustratius `saturates' (Laga's word) his writing with explicit and indirect allusions, and will frequently incorporate whole sentences or even longer passages from patristic models; favourites include Gregory of Nazianzus' speeches, especially those on Athanasius and Basil Or. 21 and 43, and Gregory of Nyssa's Vita Macrinae. Laga's edition prints the longer and explicitly identifiable citations in italics, and indicates indirect or less certain ones in the apparatus criticus; even so, there are more to note. The longer citations tend to be used at the high points of the work, especially the preface and conclusion. The Life is also unusual in its political tone and content, as befits the vita of a patriarch of Constantinople. Its author Eustratius also wrote other works: a Passion of the Persian martyr Golindouch (BHG 700-701) and a treatise on souls after death (ea. L. Allatius, Rome, 1655). The Life of Eutychius deserves to be better known, both as a central document for ecclesiastical politics in the capital and as an example of a highly formal and rhetorical saint's life, and Dr Laga's edition in the Corpus Christianorum series is therefore extremely welcome.
The text draws on a better reporting of the MSS tradition than the older edition, using in particular Venet. Marc. gr. 359 (M), a MS which once belonged to Cardinal Bessarion, and which like the other main manuscript, Cod. Patm. 254 (P), also of the tenth or eleventh century, contains a miracle account missing in V (ll. 1606-30 in Laga's edition). All three MSS containing the complete text are menologia for the month of April, in which the Life was prescribed for reading on 6 April. Since M is distinct from both V and P (an ill-written, but nevertheless valuable witness), the new edition marks a considerable advance. The Life passed also into some synaxaria, but those so far edited, at least, do not preserve an independent tradition. Laga is a confident and at times a bold editor; his procedures are explained in the introduction to the edition. One feature may cause some difficulties, namely the fact that he has chosen to renumber the Life according to the line numbers of his own edition; the Migne page numbers are given in the margin, but without the subdivisions which are present in Migne's text, so that there is no easy way of identifying Migne references by their line numbers. Moreover, only Laga's line numbers are used in his analysis of the Life in the introduction, and indeed in the introduction generally. There are also places where Laga divides the text into paragraphs at points different from the Migne text. The introduction does not, unfortunately, discuss the content or other aspects of the Life, and for this the present reviewer must carry some responsibility, for, as Laga explains in his preface, a commentary was expected to appear shortly after his own edition. This translation and commentary, in the names of Averil Cameron and Anna Wilson (the latter name was unfortunately omitted by Laga) has not in the event proved possible to have ready so soon, but it will now certainly benefit from the publication of Laga's edition. While there may eventually be some points of disagreement on particular passages, the appearance of this addition to the Corpus Christianorum series, even without the further analysis and discussion of the Life that is certainly needed, is to be greeted with much gratitude. It adds an unusual high-style saint's life to the repertoire of readily accessible texts, and it represents another welcome contribution to the increasing amount of well-edited and studied source material for Constantinople in the later sixth century.
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|Publication:||The Journal of Theological Studies|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Apr 1, 1997|
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