Printer Friendly

Tormenting the tormentors: a reinterpretation of Eusebius of Vercelli's letter from Scythopolis.

The devil, wrote Eusebius,
 called together his crowd of followers, who carried us off to the
 factory of their infidelity, shut [us] in, and claimed this whole
 power had been entrusted to them by the emperor. Therefore, to
 these saying many things and to those vaunting their own power in
 this way, I wanted to make evident that the things which they were
 capable of were nothing; [so] I, keeping silent all the while,
 handed over my body as if to tormentors, since the Lord said it
 could be handed over in persecutions. (2)

WHEN the bishop of Vercelli recorded these sentiments in the fourth century, they had about them a familiar ring. Generations of Christians had viewed their sufferings in precisely these terms--as a cosmic battle with an impotent empire and ultimately with the devil himself. But Eusebius's ordeal was no ordinary agon. Remarkable in this instance was the context: Eusebius set forth these words under the reign of a Christian emperor and in opposition to tormentors led by a fellow bishop. (3) Just as he claimed, Eusebius did indeed oppose these forces by means of his body. More importantly, though, he fought them with the pen. In so doing, he furnished later generations with a rich, even lurid, account of exile in the Christian Roman Empire.

Born in Sardinia, Eusebius advanced in the Roman clergy and became the first bishop of Vercelli in roughly the year 344 C.E. (4) He experienced his exile in the wake of the Council of Milan and, from his banishment in Scythopolis, wrote a letter to his home church detailing his hardships. So powerful is that document's rhetorical force, scholars often uncritically absorb its bias and tropes. While ep. 2 does contain important data about the fourth-century church, interpreters must reckon with the complexity of events lurking behind it as well as Eusebius's skill as an author. Doing so uncovers a scenario marked by ecclesiastical tension and rivalry.


The reign of Constantius II (337-361 C.E.) witnessed the confluence of religious concern and political compulsion in the exiling of several high-profile bishops. Eusebius of Vercelli numbered among this group, whose members also included Athanasius of Alexandria, Hilary of Poitiers, Liberius of Rome, Lucifer of Cagliari, and Dionysius of Milan. The ancient data inform us that Lucifer, Dionysius, and Eusebius received their banishments because they were unwilling to condemn Athanasius at the Council of Milan in the summer of 355. (5) Modern scholarship has debated the exact cause of Eusebius's exile, questioning Hilary of Poitiers's claim that Eusebius produced a copy of the Nicene Creed for the bishops present at the council to sign. (6) Hilary indicates that Valens of Mursa stymied Eusebius by snatching away his pen. Because he refused to condemn Athanasius without this first step taken, Eusebius was banished by Constantius to the eastern empire. (7)

We pick up Eusebius's trail next at the city of his banishment, Scythopolis in Palestine. It was here that Constantius sent Eusebius--a choice that was certainly deliberate. Eusebius provides little in the way of information about his surroundings. To discover his context, we must turn to external sources. (8) Called Beth Shan (or Beth Shean) in the Bible, this member of the Decapolis became known as Scythopolis in the third century B.C.E. (9) Since the Seleucid period, Scythopolis represented a site of regional importance as a nexus of trade routes and producer of linen. (10) Soon after Eusebius's sojourn there, the surrounding province was split between Palaestina Prima and Palaestina Secunda. Scythopolis became the capital of the latter, indicating its continued significance. (11) Around Eusebius's time, it gained a measure of infamy as the site chosen to hold the treason trials under Constantius, executed by the notorious state secretary, Paul "the Chain." (12) Culturally, Scythopolis harbored a deeply Hellenic identity. (13) Its remnants indicate a polis replete with Greek deities and traditions. Notably, a temple of Zeus Akraios sat atop its acropolis, and an official inscription recognized Dionysus as the city's founder. (14)

Evidence of Christian activity arises from the early fourth century, as preserved by the church historian Eusebius of Caesarea. (15) This Eusebius, in his Martyrs of Palestine, records that in the persecutions under Diocletian and his colleagues, the first victim was Procopius of Scythopolis in July of 303. (16) Procopius had been deployed from Jerusalem to Scythopolis, where he translated the Bible into Aramaic for the city's Christians. This fact suggests that the Christian movement there had been modest to that point. (17) The church in Scythopolis was likely humble in its size and stature and little braced for the shock of persecution.

By the middle of the fourth century, however, the church in Scythopolis had acquired a new prominence. (18) This era was dominated by the bishop Patrophilus, a formidable churchman and a loyalist to Constantius's theological position. In the course of the Trinitarian controversy, Patrophilus established himself as a comrade of Arius and an opponent of Athanasius and eventually the Nicene Creed. (19) For instance, early in the controversy he, Paulinus of Tyre, and Eusebius of Caesarea supported Arius's attempts to worship with likeminded Christians apart from the bishop of Alexandria. (20) Patrophilus may well have attended the Council of Nicaea in 325, at which, the fifth-century historian Theodoret tells us, he was one of the few bishops reluctant to condemn Arius. (21) After Nicaea, Patrophilus became an adversary of Athanasius and, with the charge that the Alexandrian bishop wished to stop the grain shipment to Constantinople, obtained Athanasius's exile from Constantine. (22) Patrophilus frequented subsequent councils, probably including the one in Milan that led to Eusebius's exile. A manuscript discovered in the sixteenth century (no longer extant) contained a list of thirty bishops' names in connection with the council, evidently subscriptions to a letter sent to our Eusebius exhorting him to attend the synod. Among them stood "Stratophilus," which many scholars take as a variant or misprint of Patrophilus's name. (23) His presence at the Council of Milanese is historically credible. By attending this council on the other side of the empire, he would have brought to it an aura of universality and legitimacy. His anti-Athanasian agenda would certainly have served the council's purpose. He was thus a vigorous participant in the doctrinal wrangling of the fourth century.

Patrophilus also had a learned reputation and a political connection. (24) Epiphanius of Salamis, writing in 376, indicates that Patrophilus enjoyed tremendous influence because of his wealth, austerity, and parrhesia with Constantius. (25) Parrhesia was a valuable commodity for a late antique person; it signified the "straight talk" or "free speech" which certain individuals could employ in discussions with the powerful. (26) Even after his death, Patrophilus's memory lingered. According to the seventh-century Chronicon Pascale, Scythopolis's pagans rose up after Constantius's death in 361, exhuming the dead bishop's remains and desecrating them by using the skull as a lamp. (27) Clearly, Patrophilus had left an unforgettable mark on the city.

Through his exile to Scythopolis, Eusebius came directly into the purview of one of the greatest non-Nicenes of the age. Thus the particulars of Eusebius's sentence laid the groundwork for a confrontation between two adversarial bishops: one an entrenched Nicene on foreign soil, the other a traditionalist faced with a strident opponent suddenly on his tuff. The image of Scythopolis gleaned from the archaeological record suggests that for a Christian, the city was still something of a religious frontier town. Its deeply Hellenic mores imply that in the middle of the fourth century the Christian percentage of the population remained low. Thus Eusebius and Patrophilus were two bishops with different understandings of their religion, thrown together in a circumstance largely devoid of a Christian populace. The bishops viewed each other from across a city steeped in Hellenism, long in potential converts but short on Christian tradition. It was a scenario ripe for tension and competition.

Although Eusebius was later moved from the city, it was here that he penned the work that speaks so vividly of his exilic life. An attempt to untangle ep. 2's complicated timeline appears in the appendix. For now, it is enough to note its basic features. Ep. 2 is in fact two letters, one embedded within the other. Of the two, the document written first was a libellus, a "little book," that Eusebius sent to Patrophilus. (To keep the documents straight, I will refer to this libellus as "the note" and the remainder of ep. 2 as "the letter.") Eusebius composed the note while remanded to a hospitium, that is, an "inn." In it, he recounts to Patrophilus several indignities that he has recently endured, including being packed off to his enemies' "factory of infidelity" and, from there, being stripped and dragged through the streets. He couples this grievance-airing with admonishments to the local bishop. Eusebius threatens Patrophilus with a hunger strike if his demands are not met. He further warns that he will fulminate to others against the rough treatment he received.

We learn of the note's contents because Eusebius repeats them in the letter that he sent to his home community. This document, though written later, describes earlier events. It opens with a warm greeting to the laity and presbyters of Vercelli, Novara, Eporedia, and Dertona--the churches in northern Italy formerly under his jurisdiction. (28) Eusebius admits that he had grown nervous about his congregation. However, good news along with fructus, some sort of financial donation, arrived through a visit by a deacon Syrus and an exorcist Victorinus. Eusebius indicates that he and those with him began to use the fructus to help the locals, an action that occasioned Satan's wrath. The devil's minions abducted Eusebius and placed him in a second hospitium at which he drafted the note to Patrophilus. Eusebius claims that, though he was temporarily freed, he writes from a scenario of involuntary solitude. In fact, only the surreptitious operations of a friendly deacon allow him to transmit the message.


Most often, Eusebius figures as a background character to one of the more prominent personalities in the Latin Church, such as Hilary of Poitiers or Ambrose of Milan. At those times when Eusebius does appear in conversation, he is seldom a subject in his own right. (29) Rather his case furnishes church historians with an example of the acrimoniousness of church politics and the distress that it could generate. (30) Echoing Eusebius's own views, scholarship as a rule presents the bishop as a victim during an ugly period of church politics.

In particular, scholars highlight factors which they see as indicative of Eusebius's humiliation and abuse. (31) Typical is Lorenzo Dattrino, who, in his examination of ep. 2, compares the circumstances behind the writing of Athanasius's Festal Letter to those behind Eusebius's missive. He concludes that, in contrast to the relative comfort which the former enjoyed among the desert cenobites, Eusebius "writes in cruel and rude imprisonment" and was a "victim of a persecution." (32) Likewise, a recent Italian volume on Eusebius includes multiple statements on his exilic experience, all of which reiterate the traditional refrain. Gilles Pelland, for one, describes Eusebius's experience thus: "What do we know about Eusebius's exile? It was harsh. At Scythopolis, in Palestine, the Arian bishop who kept him in custody subjected him to every type of oppression and deprivation." (33) Finally, Monald Goemans determines that both Eusebius and his compatriot Lucifer "were subjected to countless devices and humiliations." (34) In all, scholars have laid a heavy accent upon Eusebius's role as a sufferer.

In tandem with the theme of abuse comes an emphasis on isolation. P. Godet writes that Eusebius "was confined in turn in Palestine, at Scythopolis, where the Arian bishop Patrophilus himself was his jailer and treated him quite roughly." (35) Manlio Simonetti's entry on Eusebius in Johannes Quasten's Patrology indicates that Eusebius was "being held virtually prisoner by Patrophilus." (36) Dattrino calls attention to Eusebius's "forced solitude." (37) The exiles Eusebius and Lucifer "were thus completely isolated from the outside world and, in large part, deprived of visitation from their friends and fellows," reckons Goemans. (38) Daniel Williams charges that in Scythopolis, Eusebius was "completely cut off from the outside world" and was "prohibited from sending messages of any kind or receiving visitors." (39) Once more, scholars have achieved near unanimity on the subject of Eusebius's isolation.

This presentation of Eusebius's lot gathers support from the renowned heresiologist of Salamis, Epiphanius. (40) Epiphanius's remark about Patrophilus's parrhesia sits within a larger narrative. An entry in this author's Panarion relates that he and some companions had gone to Scythopolis. At Scythopolis, Epiphanius met a Jewish count who had converted to Nicene Christianity and who owned Eusebius's dwelling place. Epiphanius indicates that this man, known as Joseph of Tiberias or Count Joseph, was the only Nicene Christian in Scythopolis, Patrophilus holding sway over all others. (41) According to Epiphanius, it was only Joseph's status as a count that protected him from Arian persecutions. (42) The account in the Panarion appears to corroborate Eusebius's letter in its portrayal of Patrophilus's reign. Both renditions depict bleak circumstances for the Nicene Christian marooned in Scythopolis.

In aggregate, modern scholars have found in Eusebius an illustration of bravery and martyr-like endurance. Though alive after the age of the great persecutions, this bishop suffered similar forces and responded with a classic display of fortitude--according to the conventional view. By concentrating on Eusebius in such a narrow way, previous studies have also tended to compress the events in his story into a single moment. This article seeks to move away from these tendencies in interpreting Eusebius and offers a reconsideration of the events in which he took part.


Eusebius gives us the material to fashion a rough chronology (see appendix). Within that outline of events, he discloses three phases of worsening relations: an initial condition of equilibrium, a subsequent state of hostilities, and a final period of order forcibly restored. At the beginning of both the second and third phases, Patrophilus and his crew took aim at Eusebius. Several factors provide a possible explanation for these incursions. For instance, visitors had come from other churches to see Eusebius, and their presence imputed a degree of greatness to the foreign bishop. Additionally, the donation sent from Vercelli revealed that the church there clung to the notion that Eusebius was its rightful head. However, it seems that the proximate cause of Patrophilus's reactions was local. Throughout his narrative, Eusebius drops several clues indicating that the main issue causing friction between the exiled clergy and existing church was his distribution of charity.

First, when Eusebius relates the pivotal moments in his drama, he does so in conjunction with a discussion of his distributions. And while he does not state definitively which factors precipitated those changes, Eusebius does imply a connection between the charity implemented by the Italians and the response taken by the Scythopolitan clergy. Regarding the first such shift, he writes that when he and his allies began a daily dispersion of the fructus, the locals glorified God and acclaimed Eusebius. According to Eusebius:
 When the devil ... saw that God was blessed in this work, he roused
 his Ariomaniacs against us. They indeed had been sighing for a long
 time not only about this work, but also about their inability to
 persuade us to their infidelity. Thus the violent men emerged, in
 this way which he has always used, so that he might terrify with
 violence and power those whom he was unable to persuade. (43)

The reader struggles to determine who the real actor is: the devil or Patrophilus. In fact, Eusebius has conflated the two figures into one. (44) We are told that Patrophilus's faction had long been exasperated over the Italians' charity work and their resistance to proselytizing. Eusebius also states that his antagonists' frustration represented a reaction to his activity, though he places the events within a cosmic framework of good and evil. As he understands it, the devil realized that Eusebius's charity caused the inhabitants of Scythopolis to exalt God. Eusebius argues that his enemies' coercion through violence exposes their wrongheaded beliefs. The letter often returns to this motif. Here, though, the main point is that Eusebius acknowledges the devil/Patrophilus's action as the consequence of the Vercellians' work in Scythopolis. Eusebius indicates that Patrophilus and his allies had held ill feelings toward Eusebius's group for quite some time, but it was the charitable work that occasioned the flare-up. Likewise, regarding the switch to the final phase, Eusebius records that after Patrophilus's men released him,
 As God willed, we began again to attend to the needy. [Our foes']
 savageness had not maintained this enterprise and they squandered
 our love in their hatred. For scarcely twenty-five days were they
 able to tolerate this: once more they burst forth and with the
 destructive violence of the mob, came to our hospitium armed with
 cudgels, and forced the house open through another gate. (45)

It is striking that Eusebius refers to his charity work at key moments in the chain of events. Previously, he explicitly cited his charity as the reason for "the devil's" retribution. Now he indicates that, after his release, his enterprise resumed and produced identical consequences. Undeterred by the first assault on his group, Eusebius rekindled his earlier activities to predictable results.

Second, in the demands he enumerates to Patrophilus in the note (see appendix, stage 6), Eusebius stipulates two things: that his clergy be allowed to revive their work, and that he be permitted visitors. By insisting that his ministrations resume, Eusebius gives the sense that this work was central to the controversy. Patrophilus, it seems, wanted that project to stop while Eusebius was adamant that it continue.

Third, the actions taken by Patrophilus and his followers reveal a marked concern for the Italians' operation. In the wake of the first abduction, Eusebius's adversaries discontinued this endeavor, which suggests that their objective was the cessation of his charity. (46) In the twenty-five-day interlude between the resumption of Eusebius' charity and the second abduction (see appendix, stages 8 and 9), Patrophilus made no move to curb Eusebius's project. Whatever Patrophilus's motives for inaction, Eusebius returned to his charitable activities. He indicates that his opponents could not endure this development. Again Patrophilus's people captured Eusebius, but this time they went further. His wealth was confiscated and his clergy exiled to other locations. These actions targeted his assets and manpower--precisely the materials that made Eusebius's venture possible. The reprisal appears to have been calculated to eliminate the Vercellian charity project.

For the late antique churchman, charity signified more than a humanitarian gesture. Supporting the humble became a definitive characteristic of a bishop--so much so that correct use of charity even became a barometer of his performance. (47) It signaled his concern for the world around him and his capacity to act benevolently on its behalf. (48) Thus bishops made their imprint on late antique cities in part by tending to the needy in the region. Of course, when a bishop dispensed charity, he would ordinarily do so from his home see, where his monetary resources and clergy resided. In regions divided by doctrine or schism, such a bishop might have a crosstown rival, each offering assistance to the poor. But rarely would conditions conspire to place a foreign bishop and his charitable front in another's city. This, though, was the case for Eusebius and Patrophilus. Thus a new bishop offering help for the poor was no simple novelty act in Scythopolis. It suggested that the Italian bishop was exhibiting patriarchal concern for the Palestinian city's citizens. It further insinuated that Patrophilus was not acting "episcopally" enough, even that Eusebius had to pick up his slack.

Further, a show of charity implied that Eusebius, despite his banishment, regarded himself as a capable and qualified shepherd. In fact, it is rather unlikely that he arrived in Scythopolis with his ecclesiastical status intact. The ancient sources do not reveal whether Eusebius was deposed as well as banished by the Council of Milan, nor does Eusebius comment on it. However, even without direct evidence, we can presume that Eusebius did have his ecclesiastical standing stripped from him. (49) Such a council strove to unite clerical and temporal authority. (50) In the case of this council, its proceedings even moved from the church in Milan to the imperial palace. (51) It would have been very strange for the affair to have concluded with Eusebius's exile but not his deposition. In short, Eusebius was almost certainly a former bishop when he appeared in Scythopolis. Behaving like an authorized clergyman rejected the objective and message of the council. Ostensibly, the council punished Eusebius by negating his standing within the church and severing his connection to Vercelli. Yet Eusebius continued to act like a bishop by distributing charity to the masses of Scythopolis--a signature undertaking of the late Roman bishop. Thus his work need not have been extensive to provoke a response. A modest distribution could still make a symbolic statement, namely that Eusebius imagined his purpose in Scythopolis, not as a form of chastisement, but so that he might nurture its citizens. Part of Eusebius's magic--in his operations and in his letter--is his ability to make himself seem episcopal in circumstances that suggested exactly the opposite.

We cannot discern the amount of funds dispatched by the Vercellians; neither can we recover the extent of Eusebius's operation. Eusebius is often at pains to aggrandize his mission. In particular, when thanking the Vercellians, he indicates that the poor within Scythopolis and all who witnessed the Vercellians' love praised God and venerated Eusebius. (52) This image creates the impression of a wide-ranging campaign. However, nothing in the letter reveals a massive program at work. Rather we learn of charitable distributions at various moments and the pious fervor that it inspired.

The assets from Vercelli were sufficient to obtain food or other goods for the poor for long enough to irritate the resident clergy. When they ended Eusebius's program, his nemeses invaded his hospitium and scattered "everything which was of value or which was prepared for the poor" (see appendix, stage 9). Eusebius remarks, "Indeed, they kept what was of value at their place." (53) Thus there remained some leftover capital which Patrophilus or his henchmen appropriated. This moment quite probably marked the end Eusebius's work with the poor. Unless the church in Vercelli sent more funds, the well ran dry. Ep. 2 does not seem to angle for further donations, nor was its saga likely to inspire contributors to sink further resources into the endeavor. In sum, Eusebius's operation appears to have taken place on a limited scale. It likely never grew to a substantial size and certainly did not survive Eusebius's second abduction. The threat of Eusebius's enterprise was never that it might form a church to rival Patrophilus's; it was, rather, to plant the seeds of goodwill toward Eusebius and his cause in Scythopolis, a place selected for his exile precisely because it represented unfriendly territory. Eusebius's actions carried such potential force because they linked public activity with doctrinal outlook. The bishop--and the theological cause that led to his banishment--gained potential distinction because of his attempts to distribute goods to the poor.


This reinterpretation offers alternate understandings of the Scythopolis episode under three headings: Eusebius's victimhood, his isolation, and Epiphanius's testimony.

Eusebius's lodgings occupy a central position in his list of sufferings. The bishop often invokes the language of imprisonment to describe his situation. He addresses the note, "to the jailer Patrophilus," and he compares his lot with that of the common criminal. (54) Yet throughout the course of ep. 2, Eusebius stays in different hospitia. The term hospitium covers a range of meanings, from hostels for travelers or lodging places more generally. (55) Life in prison would have been very different. (56) Eusebius deemphasizes the fact that he began his stay at Scythopolis in one of these outfits (see appendix, stage 1). Rather he chooses to accentuate his confinement when he was forced to stay in a different hospitium. In other words, he moved from one inn to another, not from luxury to paucity. He strenuously objects to being confined at that place, but it is the confinement, not the place, that provokes his indignation.

The issue of food unfolds in a similar fashion. Certain accounts give the impression that starvation had been forced upon Eusebius. Food deprivation, on the contrary, was Eusebius's idea (see appendix, stage 6). To be sure, he complains in the final moments (stage 10) that his captors refused to admit his food-beating supporters. (57) It is unclear at that moment whether Eusebius had reinstated his hunger strike or if his adversaries had revived it for him. In either case, it is clear that Eusebius had changed his tune on the subject of food. Earlier when he instituted his fast, abstaining from food represented a mechanism to coerce his enemies. At this stage, he regards deprivation as a mark of Arian cruelty. Fasting, which was once his decision, has become the epitome of his enemies' barbarism.

The most sensational element in the received presentation of Eusebius is his abuse by the mob, including being dragged naked across the ground. Eusebius's language, however, does not specify precisely this formulation. It is true that he mentions a foray by a throng that dragged him from hospitium one. During this offensive, Eusebius states that he was on his back and nudatum, which some interpreters take mean "stripped naked." (58) Yet nudatus carries a wider range of meanings, including being "defenseless" or "exposed." (59) It need not imply that Eusebius had all of his clothes removed. He may have been relieved of his priestly vestments or simply exposed as a public spectacle. To be sure, Eusebius endured some form of indignity, but we must be careful not to amplify it beyond what the text requires. It seems probable that, by nudatus, he wishes to connote the helpless or vulnerable position in which he found himself.

In the conventional picture of Eusebius, isolation serves as the corollary to the bishop's suffering. Several factors give the lie to that idea: the clergy who joined him in exile, those Christians from other areas who travelled to see him, the locals who embraced him, and the connections Eusebius maintained with the world beyond Scythopolis.

To begin with, he arrived in Scythopolis surrounded by an ecclesiastical entourage. His deacons and presbyters, Syrus and Victorinus most visibly, surface at various points during the narrative. We also know that Tegrinus the presbyter joined him in "seclusion" in the second abduction (see appendix, stage 9). Tegrinus, too, was likely one of the Vercellians. Eusebius mentions him by name in the letter, suggesting that he expected the audience to recognize this person. Eusebius also cites the existence of certeri fratres, "the rest of the brothers," at different places in the letter. (60) The fact that he alludes to them as well demonstrates that his band consisted of more than just deacons and presbyters and must have been quite ample. The resultant picture of Eusebius fits with what we can learn or surmise about his contemporaries, who also went into exile with their clergies. (61)

The concluding juncture of ep. 2's narrative offers a substantially different picture. Although the letter frequently mentions Eusebius's clergy, by the end the "Ariomaniacs" had sent his clerical supporters off to various places. Yet this gesture represented the final effort to break up Eusebius's power base in Scythopolis. Only when Eusebius's group proved themselves relentlessly determined in their enterprise did Patrophilus's men move to splinter Eusebius's entourage. Further, Eusebius, even at the final stage, does not seem to have been entirely deserted. He claims that all of the clergymen from Vercelli had been exiled elsewhere, but he makes a revealing disclosure in his closing benedictions. At the conclusion of the letter, Eusebius writes to his recipients in Vercelli, "Our brothers who are with me, the presbyters and deacons, greet you, as all of us also do." (62) Included here are two distinct categories of devotees present with Eusebius: first, the presbyters and deacons; second, all the rest of "us." As the latter signifies a general category, the former must represent a special group, one with particular interest in greeting the Vercellians. It appears that some of Eusebius's presbyters and deacons remained with him even at the end.

In addition to the deacons and presbyters from Vercelli, Christians from other regions came to visit Eusebius. Like the Vercellian clergy, these loyalists come to light throughout the narrative, at least until the final phase. Eusebius refers to these Christians as alii fratres, "other brothers." (63) Although we cannot pinpoint the identity of those "other brothers," external evidence indicates that they were likely admirers who had come to venerate the Nicene hero. The fifth-century writer Sulpicius Severus, in his discussion of the Council of Milan, concludes, "But it is well known that the persons exiled were celebrated by the admiration of the whole world, and that abundant supplies of money were collected to meet their wants, while they were visited by deputies of the Catholic people from almost all the provinces." (64) Sulpicius Severus believes that Eusebius and his ilk were sufficiently famous as to attract widespread attention. The alii fratres could have well been examples of those deputations.

Further, Eusebius maintains that some locals in Scythopolis had rallied to him. (65) Regarding the dynamics at the close of his narrative (see appendix, stage 9), Eusebius comments, "The Ariomaniacs are thus terrifying the rich, threatening them with proscription, and threatening the poor, having the power to shut paupers up in jail. How insane it is!" (66) He develops an image of Scythopolis in which the populace finds itself won over to his side--a point of aggravation for Patrophilus. In consequence, the resident bishop vents his frustration on the helpless citizens. Almost certainly, Eusebius's account overstates the extent of this revolution. His description of both rich and poor sympathizers conjures the impression of broad-based support. It is revealing, though, that Patrophilus took no action against these individuals: one was hardly necessary. The worst Eusebius can impute to his nemesis is the intention to coerce the natives.

Concerning the wider world, Eusebius exhibits a certain bluster about communicating with others beyond his immediate orbit. At a significant moment within the note to Patrophilus, he claims, "I will assemble the churches, which I, though shut in, am able nevertheless to reach through letters. And I will assemble the servants of God so that in their actual convening the whole world can recognize what the true faith, which was established by the universal catholic priests, suffers at the hands of the Ariomaniacs, whom it earlier condemned." (67) Surely Eusebius indulges in a moment of overconfidence when he claims the ability to summon an ecumenical council. Nonetheless, his faith in his ability to reach a wide audience had some validity. As the very existence of ep. 2 shows, the bishop did have the capacity to transmit word of his situation to those outside Scythopolis. Although this city was by nature secluded, it was not so remote or cutoff as to preclude communications.

The import of Eusebius's description of Syrus's efforts to sneak information through enemy lines has been systematically misread. Eusebius evokes a scene laden with cloak-and-dagger intrigue behind the epistle's transmission. He contends that even though he ought to air his grievances with his tormentors, "we are not able to do these things, nor to publicize their cruelty in letters, because we are guarded by them under an extremely tight watch." (68) He then confesses to his audience that "we barely wrote this letter at all, all the while asking God that he hold off and remove the jailers yet another hour and that he grant that the deacon would bring you some kind of letter of greeting, not just tidings of our distress." (69) Yet Eusebius was indeed able to write about his ill-treatment, and he had done so for several pages. This is apophasis, not evidence of censorship. The real significance of the vignette is that Eusebius at his nadir was still capable of contacting the outside world via letters. The suggestion that a deacon could infiltrate an Arian stronghold and wait while Eusebius composed a letter (six pages long in the critical edition)--and escape unnoticed--strains credulity. Reaching Eusebius was never an impossible mission.

Finally, the evidence in the Panarion helps to guide the reconstruction of events. The timing of Epiphanius's visit is indeterminate, but it certainly seems to have taken place after the proceedings of ep. 2. (70) In the relevant sentence, Epiphanius writes, "For in his [that is, Joseph's] house the blessed Eusebius stayed as a guest ... when he was exiled by Constantius on account of the orthodox faith; and I and the other brothers came to that place in order to visit this man and we stayed at his house." (71) Epiphanius came to Scythopolis so that he might visit Eusebius, which coheres with the pattern of ep. 2 and the testimony from Sulpicius Severus. Epiphanius also reveals that some "orthodox" presence existed in Scythopolis. Joseph himself stands as one example. (72) However, the number of Christians opposed to Patrophilus seems quite limited. It is true that part of Epiphanius's impetus in recounting this anecdote is to heroize orthodoxy. And to that end, representing opposing forces as menacing and powerful could be a rhetorical ploy. (73) Nonetheless, allies of Nicene orthodoxy seem pitifully few. It appears that Eusebius did not spark a religious revolution in Scythopolis. After it received ep. 2, the church in Vercelli, in all likelihood, felt disinclined to commit more funds to the venture. In this case, the support that Eusebius had engendered in Scythopolis may have evaporated along with the capital. If so, then his inroads in Palestine never ran deep. In the long run, Eusebius's antics seem not to have significantly challenged Patrophilus's position. Perhaps most intriguingly, at the time of Epiphanius's visit, Eusebius was lodged no longer in a hospitium but instead with Joseph. Evidently, Eusebius was transferred to Joseph's house after the saga described in the letter. It may be that Patrophilus rescinded Eusebius's complimentary room and board. By the time of Epiphanius's pilgrimage, Eusebius seems to be lodged with the lone man in Scythopolis both supportive of his position and sufficiently affluent to assist him.


Ep. 2 is valuable for historians of the church, not merely for the data it provides about Eusebius's case, but also for the light that it casts upon the confluence of ecclesiastical and temporal interests in the fourth century. Particularly significant are the relationship between Patrophilus and the exiled clergyman, the connection between the emperor Constantius and bishop Patrophilus, and the place of ep. 2 among other episcopal literature written in opposition to Constantius.

The fact that Patrophilus had Eusebius dragged through the streets has controlled scholars' understanding of the exchange between the two. Yet this violence, however infelicitous to Eusebius, never spiraled out of control. The fact that it did not may indicate that it was intentional and directed. His outcome stands in marked contrast to a similar case, that of Hypatia, the celebrated female philosopher of fifth-century Alexandria. She, too, experienced mob violence that included being stripped and dragged. For the philosopher, however, this violence ended in her grisly death. (74) Because Eusebius did not share Hypatia's fate, it seems probable that his tormentors did not behave like the mob in Alexandria. That the throng could target Eusebius in this way while leaving him (apparently) uninjured suggests a scenario more carefully managed, if so, then perhaps Patrophilus's aim was less to do Eusebius serious harm than to rattle and unnerve him.

The note that Eusebius wrote to Patrophilus also has the potential to mislead. Indeed, its very existence is strange. It seems astonishing that Eusebius had a duplicate of this document with him at the moment when he composed the letter to Scythopolis (ostensibly in seclusion and under guard). Two main possibilities account for its presence: either Eusebius made and kept a copy of the note, or he reproduced it from memory. The fact that he regards the note as the exact replica of the earlier document weighs in favor of the first explanation. In that case, Eusebius very likely composed the note by dictating it to one of his attendants, keeping a copy for his own records. And, in that case, his having a copyist present further suggests that Eusebius was not subjected to total isolation during the second phase. If Eusebius did retain a copy of the note during his internment in the final phase (which would have been peculiar but certainly not impossible), then he could have inserted it when he drew up the letter. Alternatively, it is possible that the note, as we now have it, represents a draft that Eusebius fashioned for the Vercellians and not the original document. As it stands, the note bristles with bravado. If Eusebius did touch it up with the benefit of hindsight, he perhaps sharpened the document so that it casts its author as the brave victim and Patrophilus as the bloodthirsty villain.

Still, Eusebius had a case. Unless the entire letter is pure fiction, Patrophilus did engineer several attempts to harass Eusebius and cut his support out from beneath him. Understanding Patrophilus's motives requires us to examine the situation prior to Eusebius's arrival and theorize about the Italians' impact. In Scythopolis, Patrophilus must have been a luminary. He harbored a mighty aura as one friendly with the emperor and present at the church's major decisions. Inhabitants of Scythopolis, Christian or not, certainly recognized him as a gateway to the power centers of the empire. Eusebius's intrusion threw doubt on those elements of Patrophilus's character. By coming to town and receiving visitors and admirers, Eusebius implicitly contended that Patrophilus was not an unparalleled celebrity. Quite the opposite, the parade of spectators coming to see the exiled bishop must have indicated that Patrophilus was perhaps not even the most significant bishop in town.

And yet we should be leery of an interpretation that looks only to Eusebius and Patrophilus. Of course, Eusebius presses the demographics of Scythopolis into precisely this dichotomy. Throughout the letter, he presents affairs as though his foes were organized around the clear principle of Arian allegiance. To comprehend the historical situation, though, it is necessary to avoid a "Nicene vs. Arian" polarization. While the Scythopolitan church did have an avowedly non-Nicene bishop, we have no means to determine whether its rank-and-file congregants were informed and committed "Arians." The church in Seythopolis may well have had little concern for doctrinal subtleties; after all, it was a minority community and was probably concerned primarily with group preservation. It is true that in his list of grievances perpetrated by the "Ariomaniacs," Eusebius gibes that they bemoaned their "inability to persuade us to their infidelity." (75) However, the prior conversation need not have concerned explicitly Trinitarian subjects; it may simply have been an invitation to enter into communion with the church already in place. Still less should we assume that the non-elite members of Patrophilus's church understood the distinctions between a homoousion and homoiousion creed. Instead, they may well have been motivated simply by feelings of group solidarity.

Eusebius's description is at once historically misleading and rhetorically significant. Scholars have come to resist the impression of fourth-century Christianity as a movement neatly divided into two doctrinal camps. (76) That depiction stands, instead, as part of a polemical strategy. In this case, Eusebius reduces the complex world of Scythopolis--a majority pagan population surrounding a modest Christian church and a much smaller, foreign Christian element--to a bipolar entity pulled between two antitheses. We must bear in mind that Scythopolis was first and foremost a Greek city and not, as it may seem in Eusebius's letter, a polity divided by doctrinal fault lines. Presumably, the poor who received Eusebius's charity and the locals who aided his cause were in large part typical (that is, non-Christian) Scythopolitans. By visualizing his struggles as part of orthodoxy's clash with heresy, Eusebius constructs an Arian counterpart to his position.

However, there is at least one important theological coalition in view: the alliance between Patrophilus and Constantius. In one important respect, Constantius seems to have miscalculated when he entrusted Patrophilus with the oversight of Eusebius. Sending the recalcitrant bishop to Scythopolis served to frustrate one of his key allies. While it is true that Patrophilus leaned heavily on the emperor's backing, it is also true that an emperor could not assail a church council alone. Such opposition stood in need of notable, impressive bishops to set against celebrities the likes of Athanasius and Hilary. Constantius saddled a comrade with a distasteful administrative chore in looking after the obstreperous exiles from Italy. (77) This instance reveals an example of the sort of entanglements that might befall a bishop in league with the emperor. The emperor's "favor" in this case materialized in the form of a managerial burden. (78)

Eusebius's response to Patrophilus's alliance with Constantius is to undermine the legitimacy of the bishop and emperor alike. And to do so, he cultivated his own martyrial qualities. The letter's attempts to paint its author as the silent victim and its comparisons with earlier persecutions serve to charge the events with a dramatic contradistinction. He laments his social deprivation in the second abduction, crying,
 See, holiest brethren, if it isn't persecution when we who guard
 the catholic faith suffer these things! Consider whether it is even
 far worse now than were the deeds perpetrated by those who served
 idols! Though [the idolaters] sent [Christians] to prison, at least
 they did not prohibit their supporters from coming to them. So
 great did Satan wound the churches through the cruelty of the
 Ariomaniacs! (79)

Playing the confessor was Eusebius's reaction to Patrophilus's operation. As such, Eusebius drew from an established Christian response to temporal power. By describing himself as a "suffering self," he shifts the implications of the affair: he transforms his persona from chastised deportee to Nicene martyr. (80) Naturally, his enemies now take on the role of the persecutors. Their actions become tinged with loathsome qualities: unjust oppression, hatred of (true) Christianity, and desperate use of coercive force.

Eusebius's presentation of his saga is itself part of the struggle. Controlling the narrative is his means to strike back at the forces that remanded him. (81) Their actions become, through Eusebius's presentation, the latest installments in the church's perpetual conflict with Satan's forces. By harnessing the rhetoric of martyrdom, Eusebius turned his suffering of abuse into the moral high ground. This choice further eroded an important component of Patrophilus's mien. In this light, the bishop of Scythopolis ceases to be the righteous deputy invested with worldly and otherworldly power; he becomes instead a latter-day persecutor. (82) Thus it is that ep. 2 itself represents an act of rhetorical persuasion and a facet of the dispute. The letter is no simple record of the skirmish; it is one element within it.

Ultimately ep. 2 expresses another example of a larger polemical assault by Nicene bishops on the regime of Constantius. (83) Eusebius maligns both the veracity of his counterpart's religion and the legitimacy of the government that would deputize an "Ariomaniac." His special contribution lies in arguing that diabolical forces utilize cunning persuasion first and brutal oppression second. In fact, the salutation sets the stage for Eusebius's main theme. Eusebius tells his correspondents that he had been forlorn on the grounds that "we did not receive any writings from your Sanctity for a long period of time. For we feared that either some diabolic wile had taken you or a human power had subjugated you to the faithless." (84) In the opening words, he disparages the use of "diabolical wile" and "human power," forces that he uses throughout the letter to embody the twin tactics employed by his foes. By implication, people who resort to coercion do so because they fail to persuade: anyone reliant on such force must also be theologically bankrupt. The power of the state, in this view, becomes a badge of doctrinal error.

Eusebius harnessed his presence and fame to make this argument, and in so doing, cast doubt on the position that Patrophilus stood for. As their conducts became stand-ins for their respective dogmas, Eusebius substitutes a social discussion for a doctrinal one. His position--the Nicene--manifests itself in eleemosynary actions; his opponents' position takes the shape of cruelty, contempt, and repression. The real consequence of Eusebius's favorite motif--that physical force betokens failed argument--is that it serves as a theological surrogate. Eusebius has used his patient endurance as an emblem of the Nicene party and Patrophilus's coercion as part of his construction of the Arian. Thus he himself is responsible for the Eusebius-as-martyr motif. It was the cornerstone of his argument.


I divide the events of ep. 2 into three major phases, each containing several smaller stages.

Phase One: The Initial Equilibrium

Stage 1: From Milan to Scythopolis

At the Council of Milan, Constantius banished Eusebius to Scythopolis. Eusebius arrived at his destination probably in the winter of 355-356, likely ahead of Patrophilus, who seems to have been at this council but would not have suffered any compulsion to depart in haste. (85) At Scythopolis, Eusebius and his entourage domiciled at a hospitium (hospitium one), which Patrophilus had assigned through an imperial bureau, the agentes in rebus (4.1). (86) This assignment represents the only action taken by Patrophilus in the first phase.

Stage 2: Foreign Visitors

The exiled bishop began to establish his status in Scythopolis by receiving deputations of Christians, sympathetic to his cause and foreign to Scythopolis. They brought news from the church in Vercelli, with which Eusebius had not been in contact (1.1-2). (87)

Stage 3: Visitors from Vercelli

The deacon Syrus and exorcist Victorinus traveled from Vercelli to Scythopolis. They brought Eusebius letters as well as fructus, literarily, "fruits" (1.2-3). Syrus subsequently left Eusebius to see the Holy Land (9.2). Phase Two: Imbalance and Hostilities

Stage 4: Charity Begins

Eusebius and his clergy used the fructus to help the local poor (2.6). (88) Eusebius reports that some locals acclaimed him and praised God (2.6). This may mean that pagans felt moved to glorify the God of those helping them or that Scythopolitan Christians (who had to this point been led by a non-Nicene bishop) felt drawn to Eusebius.

Stage 5: The "Initial Abduction"

A mob assailed Eusebius and shut him up in its "factory of infidelity," which may have been Patrophilus's church or simply a headquarters used by his supporters (3.2). Eusebius's note to Patrophilus also alludes to public brutality (being dragged through the streets), which appears to refer to the same event (4.1).

Stage 6: Hunger Strike at a Hospitium

Eusebius's foes transported him to a separate hospitium (hospitium two), confined him to one room (4.2), and permitted neither his clergy nor his other supporters to see him (3.4). For four days, Eusebius silently listened to their arguments (3.3). They gave him food which he declined, an action which probably marks the beginning of a hunger strike (3.4). Eusebius wrote the note to Patrophilus, indicating that he would not eat until Patrophilus promised to let his companions offer food from hospitium one and visit him in hospitium two (4.2). Furthermore, Eusebius claims that he will tell other churches about the events presently happening (5.2-5.3).

Stage 7: Demands Met

After four days his nemeses capitulated to Eusebius's demands, evidently by permitting his compatriots to offer charity from hospitium one (6.1). (89) Eusebius's opponents also freed him from hospitium two. Perhaps his hunger strike led to this decision. In any case, his freedom made his second demand irrelevant; Eusebius reestablished himself at hospitium one.

Phase Three: Order Restored

Stage 8: Charity Resumes

Once reunited, Eusebius and his clergy revived their support of the poor. This arrangement held for twenty-five days (6.2).

Stage 9: The Second Abduction

Eusebius's foes invaded his residence and conveyed him and the presbyter Tegrinus to a place where they were closely confined (6.2), a third hospitium (7.3). The invaders confiscated Eusebius's possessions of value and incarcerated his presbyters and deacons (6.3). In addition, Eusebius claims that his foes sent the "other brothers, those who had come to visit us," to public jail (6.3), prevented the "devoted brothers" from visiting him with the threat of imprisonment (7.3), and allowed him no food-bearing visitors (6.4).

Stage 10: The Splintering of the Exiles

Three days after the second abduction, most of Eusebius's clergy were exiled to sundry locations (6.3). (90) Patrophilus's forces permitted Eusebius no visitors for six days after abducting him, after which time they allowed one (6.4). They held this visitor for four days and waited nearly another six before allowing a second (6.5).

Stage 11: Return of the Deacon

Syrus returned from his pilgrimage (9.2). He must have learned of Eusebius's whereabouts and made his way to him. In Syrus's presence, Eusebius wrote ep. 2, in which he embedded a copy of the note he sent to Patrophilus. He describes himself as being carefully guarded and able to send the missive only because of Syrus's devices (9.2).

doi: 10.1017/S0009640709990503

(1) I would like to thank Robert Gregg, Dayna Kalleres, Adam Serfass, Tom Hawkins, Stephen Cooper, Susan Treggiari, and, in particular, my anonymous reviewers for their invaluable contributions.

(2) Eusebius of Vercelli, Ad presbyteros et plebem Italia 2.3.2 (hereafter cited as ep. 2) (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 9:104-9 [hereafter cited as CCL]). Eusebius remarks that it is licit to "hand over" (tradere) one's body in times of persecution, perhaps contrasting himself with those who earned the Donatists' scorn (the traditores). Eusebius may signal that he has committed traditio, though impeccably. On the Donatists and the import of traditio, see W. H. C. Frend, The Donatist Church: A Movement of Protest in Roman North Africa (Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 8-20, 316-18. Simultaneously, Eusebius may have in mind Matt. 24:9: Tune tradent vos in tribulationem, in the Vetus Latina (Itala 1 Matthaus-Evangelium, ed. Adolf Julicher [Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co, 1938]: 173).

(3) On the rhetoric of martyrdom after the age of persecution, see also Michael Gaddis, There Is No Crime for Those Who Have Christ: Religious Violence in the Christian Roman Empire (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 68-130, esp. 69, 103-5.

(4) Jerome, De viris illustribus 96 (Gli uomini illustri, Biblioteca Patristica 12, ed. Aldo Ceresa-Gastaldo [Firenze: Nardini Editore, 1988]:200); William Rusch, The Later Latin Fathers (London: Duckworth, 1977), 20.

(5) Athanasius, Apologia ad Constantium imperatorem 27 (Sources ehretiennes 56:118-19 [hereafter cited as SC]); Sulpicius Severus, Chronicorum libri duo 2.39 (SC 441:312-14); Rufinus, Historia Ecclesiatica (Church History) 10.21 (hereafter cited as HE) (Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten [drei] Jahrhunderte, Neue Folge 6.2:987-88 [hereafter cited as GCS, NF for Neue Folge]); Socrates, HE 2.36.1-5 (GCS NF 1:151-52); Sozomen, HE 4.9.1-5 (GCS NF 4:148-49). Timothy Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius: Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993), 117, estimates the month of the council as July or August.

(6) Hilary, Liber I ad Constantium 8 (Corpus Christianorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 65:186-87, [hereafter cited as CSEL]). Hanns ChristofBrennecke, Hilarius von Poitiers und die Bischofsopposition gegen Konstantias II: Untersuchungen zur dritten Phase des Arianischen Streites (337-361) (New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1984), 180-82, rejects the historicity of this incident on the logic that the Nicene Creed was unknown in the Latin west at this time and that the silence of Lucifer of Cagliari about the matter suggests that Hilary retrojected his post-Sirmium vision into the account. Other scholars, however, have adduced a myriad of reasons to refute this thesis (many of which still harbor skepticism about Hilary's trustworthiness and Eusebius's heroism). R. E C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God." The Arian Controversy 318-381 (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1988), 461n7, points out that the council's theological character is revealed by its preliminary condemnation of Marcellus and Photinus. Barnes, Athanasius, 117, argues that Athanasius's allies would have been likely to switch the debate from personal innocence to theological rectitude. Neil McLynn, Ambrose of Milan: Church and Court in a Christian Capital (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 17n62, states that Brennecke's argument proves "only the oddity of Eusebius's gesture and its failure to ignite an immediate response." P. Smulders, Hilary of Poitiers' Preface to his Opus Historicum: Translation and Commentary (New York: E. J. Brill, 1995), 153-54, contends that Hilary did not have the luxury of misrepresentation because he needed to convince those who either did not care about or did not approve of his cause. Manlio Simonetti, "Eusebio nella controversia ariana" in Eusebio di Vercelli e il suo tempo, ed. Enrico dal Covolo, Renato Uglione, and Giovanni Maria Vian, 177-79 (Rome: LAS, 1997), argues that Lucifer's silence speaks more to his megalomania than to historical fact.

(7) Sulpicius Severus, Chronicorum libri duo 2.39.2 (SC 441:314) and Jerome, Chronicon 239i (GCS 47:239-40) indicate that Constantius himself was involved and likely pronounced judgment. His consistory may have provided some decision-making assistance, but the verdict came from the emperor. If any official proclamation existed, it does not survive.

(8) For a concise statement on Scythopolis and bibliography, see G. W. Bowersock, Peter Brown, and Oleg Grabar, Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical Worm (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999), s.v. "Scythopolis." For more detailed accounts, see John Binns, Ascetics and Ambassadors of Christ." The Monasteries of Palestine 314-631 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1994), 121-47; Gunter Stemberger, Jews and Christians in the Holy Land: Palestine in the Fourth Century, trans. Ruth Tuschling (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000), 6-9, 18, 71-75, 139-40; Nicole Belayche, Iudaea-Palaestina: The Pagan Cults in Roman Palestine (Second to Fourth Century) (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001), 258-68.

(9) Binns, Ascetics, 126-27.

(10) Ibid., 123. Diocletian's price edict 26.13a-130, 27.8-29a, 28.7-37a (Diokeletians Preisedikt, ed. Siegfried Lauffer [Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co.: 1971], 169-79) assesses Scythopolis's linen as of the highest quality.

(11) Binns, Ascetics, 128. Stemberger, Jews, 9.

(12) Ammianus Marcellinus, 19.12.8 (Loeb Classical Library 300:536). A. H. M. Jones and others, cds., The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971-80): 683-84: "Paulus 'Catena' 4."

(13) Jewish and Roman traces lag behind the Hellenic elements. Binns, Ascetics., 135-36, observes that Jews, who were victims of violence in the first century, slowly ebbed back into the city in the following decades. Belayche, Iudaea-Palaestina, 260-62, notes that a statue of Hadrian and a Roman festival, the Satumalia, mentioned in the Talmud (Jerusalem Talmud Avodah Zarah 1.2.3) represent the only two traces of Romanization.

(14) On the temple of Zeus Akraios, see Binns, Ascetics, 131 and Belayche, Iudaea-Palaestina, 262; on the Dionysus inscription, Belayche, Iudaea-Palaestina, 264.

(15) Belayche, Iudaea-Palaestina, 258; Binns, Ascetics, 140.

(16) Eusebius, Martyrs of Palestine 1.1. This text comes down to us in two recensions, a short and a long version. English translation of both in Hugh Lawlor and John Oulton, trans., The Ecclesiastical history and the Martyrs of Palestine, vol. 2 (London: S. P. C. K., 1928). Only the long version, which survives complete solely in Syriac, mentions Scythopolis. The Greek fragments of the long version (which do not include 1.1) are printed in parallel with their short-version counterparts in SC 55:120-74 and GCS N.F 6.2:907-56.

(17) Binns, Ascetics, 140.

(18) Ibid., 132, regards Patrophilus as the dawn of a second stage for Christianity in Scythopolis, one during which the religion slowly increased.

(19) Early in the controversy, Alexander of Alexandria wrote to Alexander of Constantinople and excoriated Arius's views. Alexander indicates that three bishops of Syria had embraced Arius's position: Theodoret, HE 1.4.37 (GCS 19:18). Hanson, Search, 17, indentifies Patrophilus as one of these three bishops.

(20) Sozomen, HE 1.15.10-12 (GCS NF 4:34-35).

(21) Theodoret, HE 1.7.13-14 (GCS 19:32-33). See Hanson, Search, 156-157. As the other histories that describe the council, Rufinus, HE 10.5 (GCS NF 6.2:965), Socrates, HE 1.8.31-34 (GCS NF 1:22-23), and Sozomen, HE 1.20.1 (GCS 4:41), mention the reluctant bishops but do not name Patrophilus, it is possible that Theodoret added him to the list based on his reputation.

(22) Athanasius, Apologia contra Arianos 87.1-3 (H. G. Opitz, Athanasius Werke. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1940, 2.1:165-66 [hereafter cited as Opitz]); Socrates, HE 1.35.1-3 (GCS NF 1:85). See Barnes, Athanasius, 23-25.

(23) See Smulders, Hilary, 94, 109-112; Barnes, Athanasius, 117.

(24) Concerning Patrophilus's learned reputation, the fifth-century historian Socrates, HE 2.9.3 (GCS NF 1:98), indicates that he instructed Eusebius of Emisa.

(25) Epiphanius, Panarion 30.5.6 (GCS 25:340). The opening line of this work states its date. Philostorgius, 4.10 (GCS 21:63), bears out this privileged relationship. He describes a reversal of fortune activated by Patrophilus in which the bishop reported to Constantius the deeds of Basil of Ancyra, thereby earning exile for Basil and pardon for those that Basil had banished.

(26) On parrhesia, see Peter Brown, Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity: Towards a Christian Empire (Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1992), esp. 61-70, 116-17.

(27) Chronicon Paschale 362 (Patrologica Graeca 92:740).

(28) Daniel Williams, Ambrose of Milan and the End of the Nicene-Arian Conflicts (Oxford: Clarendon, 1995), 60.

(29) Ibid., 50, notes the lack of attention which Eusebius has received. Hanson, Search, 508, does the best one can with Eusebius's theological scraps.

(30) Williams Ambrose, 60, writes that "the cruel treatment which Eusebius reports that he received, reveals how ugly were the lengths to which Christian enmity in the fourth century was prepared to go." Monald Goemans, "L'exil du Pape Libere," in Melanges offerts d Mademoiselle Christine Mohrmann, 184 (Utrecht: Spectrum, 1963), argues that while the details of Liberius of Rome's banishment may be unknown, "we are able, however, to get an idea of the circumstances of his exile through the information that the exiles in other regions give us, and these testimonies show that their lot was far from enviable."

(31) The bibliography used in this article is representative, not exhaustive. For a staggeringly full bibliography (extending from 1581 to 1997) on Eusebius, see Mario Maritano, "Biobliografia eusebiana," in Eusebio di Vercelli (see note 6), 432-71. A notable exception to these trends is Henry Wace and William C. Piercy, cds., A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D., With an Account of the Principal Sects and Heresies (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999; repr. of A Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature, London: John Murray, 1911), s.v. "Eusebius, bp. of Vercellae,": "He was a troublesome prisoner, having twice all but starved himself to death because he would not accept provisions from Arian hands."

(32) Lorenzo Dattrino, "La lettera di Eusebio al clero ed al popolo della sua diocesi," Lateranum 45 (1979), 60-82. See also Dictionnaire d'histoire et de grographie ecclesiatiques, s.v. "Eusrbe de Verceil," in which V. C. De Clercq states that Eusebius's letter presents his "humiliations, insults, and hardships." Similarly, Dictionnaire de theologic catholique, s.v. "Eusebe de Verceil" (hereafter cited as DThC).

(33) Gilles Pelland, "Eusebio e Ilario di Poitiers," in Eusebio di Vercelli (see note 6), 247.

(34) Goemans, "L'exil," 188.

(35) DThC, s.v. "Eusebe de Verceil.'"

(36) Johannes Quasten, Patrology, trans. Placid Solari (Westminster: Christian Classics, 1992) 4:63.

(37) Dattrino, "Lettera," 63.

(38) Goemans, "L'exil," 188.

(39) Williams, Ambrose, 61.

(40) For example, Simonetti, "Eusebio," 160.

(41) Epiphanius, Panarion 30.5.1 5 (GCS 25:339-40).

(42) Ibid., 30.5.6 (GCS 25:340).

(43) Ep. 2.3.1-2 (CCL 9:105).

(44) Eusebius's contemporary Athanasius imagines the devil as the head of the Arian heresy: Rebecca Lyman, "A Topography of Heresy: Mapping the Rhetorical Creation of Arianism" in Arianism after Arius: Essays on the Development of the Fourth Century Trinitarian Conflicts, ed. Michel Barnes and Daniel Williams, 45-62, esp. 54 (Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark Ltd, 1993). Eusebius, too, constructs an Arian straw man, but he dispenses with the apparatus of succession, such that the devil is imminent in the affairs of the Arians.

(45) Ep. 2.6.2 (CCL 9:107).

(46) His remark that the Arians "had not maintained this enterprise" is misleading; surely the Arians would not have continued his operation. The wealth and charitable enterprises of Patrophilus's church are impossible to determine. Although Patrophilus was famous for his personal wealth, the church itself may not have possessed the resources to conduct its own ventures. The Arians did eventually commandeer Eusebius's funds (6.3). On the theoretical distinction of but possible overlap between a bishop's private wealth and his church's communal holdings, see Claudia Rapp, Holy Bishops in Late Antiquity: The Nature of Christian Leadership in an Age of Transition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 211-20.

(47) Rapp, Bishops, 224.

(48) Peter Brown, "Response," in The Role of the Christian Bishop in Ancient Society, eds. Henry Chadwick, Edward Hobbs, and Wilhelm Wuellner, 21 (Berkeley, Calif.: The Center for Hermeneutical Studies in Hellenistic and Modern Culture, 1980); Brown, Power, 91; Brown, Poverty and Leadership in the Later Roman Empire (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 2002), 79. We may also doubt whether the exchange of food for loyalty was a maneuver unique to late antique bishops. Whether this technique was a reimagining of society or a crude exercise in marshalling support, it had the unmistakable effect of developing throngs of followers behind the bishops who implemented it.

(49) So assumed by Hanson, Search, 334, and Barnes, Athanasius, 117. Barnes attributes this notion to Sulpicius Severus (who does not mention deposition), but the conclusion appears justified. Hilary, Liber I ad Constantium 2.8.3 (CSEL 65:187), trans. Lionel Wickham, Hilary of Poitiers: Conflicts of Conscience and Law in the Fourth-Century Church (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1997), 69, leaves off at a tantalizing point: "The [bishops'] decision speaks for itself as to the kind of decision [sententia] they wrote at length against Eusebius, before they entered the church." A sententia arrived at by bishops against another bishop was very likely a deposition.

(50) The sources register the collusion of religious and temporal authority at the Council of Milan in various ways. Sulpicius Severus, Chronicorum libri duo 2.39.1 (SC 441:312) indicates that the bishops manipulated the emperor. Conversely, Athanasius, Historia Arianorum, 33.7 (Opitz 2.1:201-2) has Constantius bending canon law to his whims. Theodoret, HE 2.15.1-2 (GCS 19:128) combines the two motifs, such that in his version Constantius first yields to others and then interferes with ecclesiastical affairs. The critical point is that the council took place at the emperor's behest and at a locale where he himself was: the entire affair aspired to a unanimous front by all parties, imperial and ecclesiastic.

(51) Hilary, Liber I ad Constantium 2.8.3 (CSEL 65:187).

(52) Ep. 2.2.6 (CCL 9:105). Eusebius here seems to have in mind the local poor (pauperes ... ciuitatis ipsius homines) and non-indigenous observers, likely his visitors from other provinces.

(53) Ibid., 6.4 (CCL 9:107-8).

(54) Ibid., 4.1, 7.3 (CCL 9:106, 108).

(55) See Albert Blaise, Dictionnaire latin-francais des auteurs chretiens (Turnhout: Editions Brepols, 1954), s.v. "hospitium"; Charlton Lewis and Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon, 1879; often repr.), s.v. "hospitium." Lionel Casson, Travel in the Ancient Worm (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1974), 204, describes a hospitium as "a workaday no-nonsense place for housing the rank-and-file traveller overnight"; see also A. H. M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire 284-602: A Social, Economic, and Administrative Survey (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1964), 2:831; Blake Leyerle, "Communication and Travel," in The Early Christian World, ed. Philip Esler, 1:452-74, esp. 463-64 (New York: Routledge, 2000).

(56) On prisons in the Roman period, see Jens-Uwe Krause, Gefangnisse im Romischen Reich (Stuttgart: F. Steiner, 1996).

(57) Ep. 2.6.4 (CCL 9:107-8).

(58) For example, Michael Di Maio and Agnes Cunningham, trans., Agnes Cunningham, ed., The Early Church and the State, Sources of Early Christian Thought 4 (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982), 66.

(59) Lewis and Short, A Latin Dictionary, s.v. "nudo."

(60) Ep. 2.2.4, 9.2 (CCL 9:105, 109).

(61) In his final letter from exile, Bishop Liberius complains that "Venerius the agens in rebus has taken away from me my dearest son, the deacon Urbicus, whom I seemed to have as a consolation." Letter in Hilary, Fragmenta historica B VII.11.1 (CSEL 65:173). Rufinus of Aquileia, HE 11.4 (GCS NF 6.2:1007), trans. Philip Amidon, The Church History of Rufinus of Aquileia (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 66, writes that Lucius, bishop of Alexandria, had some desert fathers seized and taken to an island amidst an Egyptian marsh: "The elders were thus taken by night, with only two attendants, to the island, on which there was a temple greatly revered by the inhabitants of the place." G. F. Diercks, introduction to Luciferi Calaritani Opera Quae Supersunt, CCL 8 (Tumholti: Brepols, 1978), xvii-xviii, suspects that one or two deacons and certainly some scribes would have convoyed Lucifer of Cagliari into exile.

(62) Ep. 2.11.2 (CCL 9:109).

(63) Ibid., 6.3 (CCL 9:107). His mention in 7.3 of the deuoti fratres, "devoted brothers," kept from his hospitium (stage 9) most likely signifies another reference to these foreign Christians.

(64) Sulpicius Severus, Chronicorum libri duo 2.39.5 (SC 441:316), trans. Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, Second Series 11:116.

(65) For example, 6.1 (CCL 9:107) cites the placement of lanterns around his inn as a sign of popular welcome; (see appendix, stage 7).

(66) Ibid., 8.1 (CCL 9:108).

(67) Ibid., 5.2 (CCL 9:107).

(68) Ibid., 9.1 (CCL 9:109).

(69) Ibid., 10.1 (CCL 9:109).

(70) Two questions surround the timing of Epiphanius's conversation with Joseph: first, whether it took place during Eusebius's time in Scythopolis or after it; second, if it was contemporaneous with Eusebius's stay, then when it took place relative to the events of ep. 2. In regard to the first issue, nearly all scholars place the event in the late 350s or early 360s, that is, during Eusebius's stay in Scythopolis. One exception is Simonetti, "Eusebio," 160, who for unstated reasons puts the encounter years after Eusebius's exile. Stephen Goranson, "The Joseph of Tiberius Episode in Epiphanius: Studies in Jewish and Christian Relations," (Ph.D. diss., Duke University, 1990), 70-72, reviews earlier estimates and places the event between 355 and 360, probably in the earlier portion of that range. Goranson's later chapter, "Joseph of Tiberias Revisited: Orthodoxies and Heresies in Fourth-Century Galilee," in Galilee through the Centuries: Confluence of Cultures, ed. Eric Meyers, 335-343 (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1999), mistakenly cites the date as 353, perhaps as a misprint for 358. T. C. G. Thornton, "The Stories of Joseph of Tiberias," Vigiliae Christianae 44, no. 1 (March 1990): 58, and Hagith Sivan, Palestine in Late Antiquity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 180, put the event during Eusebius's sojourn and around 360 respectively. Concerning the second question, because Eusebius does not mention that his landlord was a Nicene count of Jewish extraction, it seems unlikely that Joseph owned any of the hospitia known to us from the letter. Likewise, if Epiphanius had appeared before the writing of ep. 2, his persona would seem to have merited some special mention in Eusebius's letter. Thus Epiphanius's visit most likely fell after Eusebius wrote ep. 2.

(71) Epiphanius, Panarion 30.5.2 (GCS 25:339-40): [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]. The force of the passage is that Eusebius was lodged with Joseph; Epiphanius came to see Eusebius and thereby met Joseph, from whom he learned tales and lore.

(72.) Ibid., 30.5.5 (GCS 25:340) also mentions that Joseph was visited by another local Nicene Christian who did not dare reveal himself as such.

(73) Andrew Jacobs, Remains of the Jews: The Holy Land and Christian Empire in Late Antiquity (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2004), 51.

(74) Socrates, HE 7.15 (GCS NF 1:360-61). See Edward Watts, "The Murder of Hypatia: Acceptable of Unacceptable Violence?" in Violence in Late Antiquity: Perceptions and Practices, ed. H. A. Drake, 333-42 (Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2006).

(75) Ep. 2.3.1 (CCL 9:105).

(76) See Rebecca Lyman, "Topography," 45-46; Lyman, "Arius and Arians" in The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies, ed. Susan Ashbrook Harvey and David Hunter, 237-57 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008). See also David Gwynn, The Eusebians: The Polemic of Athanasius of Alexandria and the Construction of the "Arian Controversy" (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), who argues that those whom Athanasius represents as a unified bloc committed to the principles of Arianism were neither unified nor Arian.

(77) The extent to which bishops resembled other authority figures within the Roman bureaucracy is a large and difficult question. In the most extensive modern study of the bishop, Claudia Rapp, Bishops, 274-89, emphasizes that, while bishops took on many of the chores traditional to the city councils and administrators, the episcopacy was not identical to or subsumed into the imperial bureaucracy.

(78) Banishing Nicene bishops to areas presided over by non-Nicenes seems to be part of a larger pattern under Constantius. Liberius of Rome was exiled to Beroea where the non-Nicene bishop Demophilus presided: Hilary, Fragmenta historica B VII.7 (CSEL 65:169). On Demophilus's theology, see Hanson, Search, 101, 565n35, 791-92, 804-5.

(79) Ep. 2.7.1-2 (CCL 9:108).

(80) I borrow this phrase from Judith Perkins, The Suffering Self." Pain and Narrative Representation in the Early Christian Era (London: Routledge, 1995), 7, who examines the "extensive formulation in the culture of the second century that represented the human self as a body in pain, a sufferer."

(81) See also Elizabeth Castelli, Martyrdom and Memory: Early Christian Culture Making (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 34, who sees martyrdom less as a clash of gods than as a "conflict over order and narrative."

(82) An irony (that a bishop could become a persecutor of the church) which Eusebius is alert to: ep. 2.7.2 (CCL 9:108).

(83) Barnes, Athanasius, 132, 174, notes that Athanasius applied a double standard to imperial intervention, lauding government action supporting his position but condemning as improper action against it. He also observes that Athanasius, Hilary, and Lucifer paint Constantius as a tyrant unfit to rule the empire. Mark Humphries, "Savage Humour: Christian Anti-panegyric in Hilary of Poitier's Against Constantius" in The Propaganda of Power: The Role of Panegyric in Late Antiquity, ed. Mary Whitby, 201-21 (Leiden: Brill, 1998), shows that Hilary's Contra Constantium Imperatorem (=In Constantiurn) represents an attempt to undermine Constantius's legitimacy by mocking his adventas (a ceremony enacted by a ruler entering a city) and reinventing his lineage. Lucifer resorted to character assassination; samples adduced by Diercks, Introduction to CCL 8: xiv-xv.

(84) Ep. 2.1.1 (CCL 9:104).

(85) Sozomen, HE 4.9.4 (GCS 4:148) emphasizes the speed with which the exiles were conducted from Milan. See also Socrates, HE 2.37.1 (GCS NF 1:152). Eusebius probably took the land route, which would have been cheaper. On land, the Bordeaux pilgrim traveled for 170 days from Bordeaux to Jerusalem, a journey quite similar to Eusebius's (Casson, Travel, 315). If the council did take place in July and August and if Eusebius made similar progress, then he would have arrived in January or February of 356.

(86) The agentes appear only at this stage in the drama. If Eusebius did arrive in Scythopolis first, then perhaps the agentes accompanied Patrophilus, beating some notice from the emperor on the manner in which the exiled bishop was to be accommodated. The agentes in rebus were an organization that conducted messages and performed some internal surveillance functions, see Jones, Empire, 1:572-82; William Sinnigen, "The Roman Secret Service," The Classical Journal 57, no. 2 (November 1961): 65-72. This group was involved in the exilic affairs of Eusebius's contemporary Liberius of Rome; (see note 61).

(87) Eusebius, ep. 2.1.1-2 (CCL 9:104) refers to "the arrival and visits of many brothers [plurimorum fratrum]" and "brothers [fratrum] who came to us from diverse provinces." We cannot be certain whether the fratres are identical. About the former, he tells the Vercellians that these visitations "demonstrated your presence," implying that they were either members of Eusebius's church or non-Vercellians beating news of Eusebius's home. Later in the saga (6.3 [CCL 9:107], (see appendix, stage 9), Eusebius mentions "other brothers [alios fratres], those who had come to visit us," who may be the same as the fratres introduced here. If so, then many of the visitors remained in Scythopolis for a substantial amount of time.

(88) This crucial passage is absent from the only English translation of Eusebius's letter, Di Maio and Cunningham, The Early Church and the State.

(89) At two points (3.3 and 6.1 [CCL 9:105, 107]), Eusebius alludes to a four-day span of time in which his keepers allowed no visitors. These references seem to point to the same period.

(90) Eusebius writes as though all his clergy were banished, but his closing benediction (11.2 [CCL 9:109]) admits the presence of some.

Daniel A. Washburn is Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the College of William & Mary.
COPYRIGHT 2009 American Society of Church History
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Washburn, Daniel A.
Publication:Church History
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Dec 1, 2009
Previous Article:Books received.
Next Article:The geography of the monastic cell in early Egyptian monastic literature.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters