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Chrysostom, John, Bishop of Constantinople
Wace's Dictionary of Early Christian Biography
Chrysostom, John ( Ἰωάννης Χρυσόστομος ). The surname "golden-mouthed," given to the great preacher of Antioch, and bp. of Constantinople, on account of the magnificent brilliancy of his eloquence (cf. Petrus Chrysologus), has entirely superseded his personal name John, which alone is found in contemporary or closely subsequent writers. When the epithet was first applied is unknown. There is no trace of it in his lifetime, but it was in common use before the end of the 5th cent.
Chrysostom was born at Antioch probably A.D. 347. He was of good family; his father Secundus filling the post of "magister militum" (στρατηλάτης ), one of the eight men of distinguished rankâ€”illustres viros (Veget. de Re Militari, ii. 9)â€”who commanded the imperial armies. His mother, Anthusa, was also a lady of good family (Pallad. p. 40; Socr. vi. 3) Anthusa, while John was an infant, was left a widow at the age of twenty, refused all offers of marriage, and devoted herself to the education of her boy and the care of his property ( de Sacerdot. lib. i. c. 55). Her unremitting devotion to her maternal duties excited admiration even from the heathen ( Ep. ad Vid. Jun. i. c. 2, p. 340).
St. Chrysostom's life may be conveniently divided into five epochs: (a ) His life as a layman at Antioch till his baptism and admission as a reader, a.d. 347â€“370; (b ) his ascetic and monastic life, a.d. 370â€“381; (c ) his career as deacon, presbyter, and preacher at Antioch, a.d. 381â€“398; (d ) his episcopate at Constantinople, a.d. 398â€“404; (e ) exile, a.d. 404â€“407.
(a ) Life as a Layman at Antioch .â€”The intellectual power manifested at a very early age marked him out as fitted for one of the learned professions. The bar was chosen, and at about 18 years of age he began to attend the lectures of the celebrated sophist Libanius, the intimate friend and correspondent of the emperor Julian, and tutor of Basil the Great, who had come to end his days in his native city of Antioch. The genius and ability of the pupil excited the greatest admiration in his master, who, being asked on his deathbed, c. a.d. 395, which of his pupils he thought worthiest to succeed him, replied, "John, if the Christians had not stolen him from us" (Soz. H. E. lib. viii. c. 2). When Chrysostom commenced practice as an advocate, his gift of eloquence speedily displayed itself. His speeches were listened to with delight, and were highly praised by Libanius, no mean judge of rhetoric. A brilliant career was opening before the young man, leading to all that men most covet, wealth, fame, high place. But a change, gradual but mighty, came over his spirit, and like another young student of the neighbouring province of Cilicia, "the things that were gain to him he counted loss for Christ." Like Timothy at the knees of Eunice, "from a child" Chrysostom had learnt from his devout mother the things that were "able to make him wise unto salvation," and his soul revolted at the contrast between the purity of the gospel standard and the baseness of the aims and viciousness of the practices prevalent in the profession he had chosen. To accept a fee for making the worse appear the better cause seemed to his generous and guileless soul to be bribed to lieâ€”to take Satan's wagesâ€”to sin against his own soul. His disinclination to the life of a lawyer was much increased by the influence of the example of his intimate friend Basil, the companion of his studies and the sharer of all his thoughts and plans. The two friends had agreed to follow the same profession; but when Basil decided on adopting a monastic life, and to follow, in Chrysostom's words, "the true philosophy," Chrysostom was unable at once to resolve to renounce the world, to the attractions of which his ardent nature was by no means insensible, and of which he was in some danger of becoming a slave. He was "a never-failing attendant at the law courts, and passionately enamoured of the theatre" ( de Sacerdot. lib. i. c. 14, p. 363). His friend Basil's adoption of an ascetic life at first caused an interruption of their intercourse. But life was intolerable separated from his second self. He renewed his intimacy with Basil. The pleasures and pursuits of the world became distasteful to him, and he soon resolved to abandon it altogether, quitting mother and home, and finding some sacred retreat where he and his friend could devote themselves to strict ascetism ( ib. c. 4). This decisive changeâ€”Chrysostom's conversion we should now call itâ€”was greatly promoted by the acquaintance he formed at this period with the mild and holy Meletius, the orthodox and legitimate bp. of Antioch, who had recently returned to his see after one of his many banishments for the faith. Meletius quickly observed the intellectual promise of the young lawyer, and, enamoured of the beauty of his disposition, sought frequent opportunities of intercourse, and in a prophetic spirit declared the greatness of his future career (Pallad. p. 40). Up to this time Chrysostom, though the child of Christian parents, had remained unbaptized, a not unfrequent practice at this epoch. The time for public profession of his faith was now come, and after a probation of three years, Meletius baptized him, and ordained him reader. This was in a.d. 369 or 370, when Chrysostom was about 23 years old (Pallad. p. 41).
(b ) Ascetic and Monastic Life .â€”Baptism restored the balance which Chrysostom tells us had been so seriously disturbed by Basil's higher religious attainments (de Sacerdot. lib. i. c. 3, p. 363). He became in the truest sense "a new man" (Pallad. p. 184). His desire to flee from the world, with his beloved Basil, was established, and only frustrated by the passionate entreaties of his weeping mother that her only child, for whom she had given up all, would not desert her. The whole scene is narrated by Chrysostom in a passage of exquisite simplicity and tenderness ( de Sacerdot. lib. i. c. 5, pp. 363â€“365). His affectionate nature could not resist a mother's tears. In spite of Basil's continued urgency, he yielded so far as to remain at home. But if out of filial regard he abstained from deserting his home for a monastery, he would make a monastery of his home. He practised the most rigid asceticism, ate little and seldom, and that of the plainest, slept on the bare ground, and rose frequently for prayer. He rarely left the house, and, to avoid his old habit of slander, kept almost unbroken silence. It is not surprising that his former associates called him morose and unsociable ( ib. lib. vi. c. 12, p. 431).
Upon some of these associates, however, his influence began to tell. Two of his fellow pupils under Libanius, Maximus, afterwards bp. of Seleucia, and Theodorus, bp. of Mopsuestia, adopted the ascetic life under the superintendence of Diodorus and Carterius, who presided over a monastery in or near Antioch. From Diodorus Chrysostom learnt the clear common-sense mode of interpreting Holy Scripture (repudiating the allegorizing principle), of which he and Theodore became such distinguished representatives. The inability of his friend Theodore to part definitely with the world, and stifle natural instincts, was the occasion of the composition of Chrysostom's earliest extant treatises. Theodore's love for a girl named Hermione led him to leave the ascetic brotherhood and return to secular life. Chrysostom's heart was deeply stirred at this. He regarded it as a sin to be repented of and forsaken if Theodore would not forfeit salvation. He addressed two letters to him full of impassioned eloquence, earnestly calling him to penitence and amendment. His fervid remonstrances succeeded. Theodore gave up his engagement, and finally abandoned the world (ad Theodorum Lapsum, Ephesians 1 ii.; Socr. H. E. vi. 3).
We now come to a passage in Chrysostom's life which we must condemn as utterly at variance with truth and honour. Yet we must bear in mind that the moral standpoint of the Fathers was on this point different from our own. It was generally held that the culpability of an act of deception depended upon its purpose, and that if this was good the deception was laudable. Chrysostom himself says, "There is a good deceit such as many have been deceived by, which one ought not even to call a deceit at all," instancing that of Jacob, "which was not a deceit, but an economy" (Homil. vi. in Col. ii. 8). On this principle, which every healthy conscience now repudiates, Chrysostom proceeded to plan and execute a deliberate fraud to entrap his friend Basil into consecration to the episcopate. Several sees were now vacant in Syria, which it was desirable to fill without delay. A body of prelates met at Antioch for this purpose. Among those suitable for the episcopate, Chrysostom and Basil were pointed out, though they were not yet even deacons. Chrysostom's awful sense of the weight and responsibility of the priestly office, which breathes in every line of his treatise de Sacerdotio, and of his own unfitness, made him tremble at the idea of ordination. Basil, on the contrary; he considered to be well qualified, and he was fully resolved that the church should not lose the services of his friend. While, therefore, he pretended acquiescence in his friend's proposition that they should decide alike in the matter, he secretly resolved to avoid the dreaded honour by concealment. When the time of consecration arrived, and Basil was carried before the bishops, and reluctantly forced to accept ordination, Chrysostom was nowhere to be found, and it was represented to Basil that he had been already consecrated. When too late Basil discovered the unfaithfulness to their compact, and upbraided Chrysostom; his complaints were received with laughter and loud expressions of thankfulness at the success of his plot ( de Sacerdot. lib. i. c. 3, p. 365). [See Basilius.]
About a.d. 374 Chrysostom carried into effect his resolution of devoting himself to an ascetic life, and left his home for a monastic community on one of the mountain ranges S. of Antioch. As there is no reference in any of his writings to any opposition from his mother, it is probable that her death had left him free. After four years spent in unremitting austerities, he left the society of his kind, and, dwelling in a mountain cavern, practised still more rigid self-discipline (Pallad. p. 41). At the end of two years his health so completely gave way that he was forced to return to his home in Antioch. To these austerities may be attributed that debilitated frame, weakness of digestion, and irritability of temperament, to which his constant physical sufferings and many of his chief difficulties and calamities are not remotely traceable.
(c ) A Preacher and Presbyter at Antioch .â€”Chrysostom did not return to Antioch to be idle. He was ordained deacon by Meletius a.d. 381, shortly before the latter left to preside over the oecumenical council of Constantinople (Pallad. p. 42). Meletius died during the session of the council, and his successor Flavian raised Chrysostom to the presbyterate early in a.d. 386 (ib. ). During his five years' diaconate he had gained great popularity by his aptness to teach, and his influence had made itself widely felt at Antioch. While deacon he composed the de Virginitate; the Ep. ad Viduam Juniorem, addressed to the young widow of Therasius ( c. 381); its sequel de non Iterando Conjugio; and the orations de Martyre Babyla. After his ordination he preached his first sermon before the bishop, and a vast crowd was gathered by the fame of his eloquence ( Sermo, cum Presbyt. fuit Ordinatus, de se ac de Episcopo, deque Populi Multitudine ). The succeeding ten years, embracing Chrysostom's life as a presbyter at Antioch, were chiefly devoted to the cultivation of the gift of pulpit eloquence on which his celebrity mainly rests. It was during this period that "the great clerk and godly preacher," as our First Homily terms him, delivered the greater part of the discourses extant, which must be but a very small portion of those preached, for he preached regularly twice a week, on Saturday and Sunday, besides Lent and saints' days, and, as we learn from his homilies on Genesis, sometimes five days in succession (Tillemont, tom. xi. p. 34.). Flavian appointed him frequently to preach in the cathedral. Whenever he preached the church was densely thronged, the hearers testifying their delight in loud and noisy applause. This was highly offensive to Chrysostom, who often rebuked their unseemly behaviour (adv. Arian. de Incomprehen. Dei Natura, Homil. iii. c. 7, p. 471; Homil. iv. Â§ 6, p. 480). The most remarkable series of homilies, containing his grandest oratorical flights, and evincing most strikingly his power over the minds and passions of men, are the Homilies on the Statues, delivered in March and April, a.d. 387, while the fate of Antioch was hanging in awful suspense on the will of the justly offended emperor Theodosius. The demand for a large subsidy to pay a liberal donative to the army had exasperated the citizens. The ominous silence with which the proclamation of the edict was received, Feb. 26, broken only by the wailings of the women, was soon succeeded by mutinous cries, and all the symptoms of a popular outbreak. The passions of the mob were stimulated by those who had nothing to lose and might gain from public disorder. The influence of Flavian might have calmed the tumult, but he was from home. The rabble, swelling in numbers and fury as it rushed through the city, proceeded to acts of open violence. The public baths were ransacked; the praetorium was attacked and the mob with difficulty repulsed, the governor saving himself by flight through a back door, and finally the hall of judgment was stormed. This was the scene of their crowning act of insurrection. The portraits of the emperors, which decorated the walls of the court, were pelted with stones and filth, and torn to shreds, the Augusti themselves were loaded with curses, and the statues of Theodosius and his deceased wife, the excellent Flaccilla, were torn from their pedestals and ignominiously dragged through the streets. Further outrages were only stopped by the appearance of a band of archers dispatched by the prefect. The mutiny quelled, calm reflection set before them the probable consequences of this recent fury. Panic fear, as is usual, succeeded the popular madness. The outbursts of unrestrained passion, to which the emperor was subject, were well known. The insult to his beloved empress would be certain to be keenly resented and terribly avenged. It was only too probable that an edict would be issued for the destruction of Antioch or for the massacre of its inhabitants, foreshadowing that of Thessalonica, which three years later struck horror into the Christian world. Their only hope lay in the intercession of Flavian, who, regardless of his age and the serious illness of his sister, had instantly started for the imperial city, to lay at the emperor's feet the confession of his people and to supplicate for pardon. Day by day, during this terrible suspense, lasting for three weeks, Chrysostom devoted his noblest gifts as a sacred orator to awaken repentance among the dissolute crowds hanging on his impassioned words. Just before Easter Flavian returned with the glad tidings that their crime was pardoned. The homily delivered by Chrysostom on Easter day (the 21st of the series) describes the interview of Flavian with Theodosius, the prelate's moving appeal for clemency, and its immediate effect on the impressionable mind of the emperor, who granted a complete amnesty and urged Flavian's instant return to relieve the Antiochenes from their terrible suspense. One happy result of this crisis was the conversion of a large number of the still heathen population to Christianity ( Homil. de Anna. I. c. 1, vol. iv. p. 812).
These events occurred in the spring of A.D. 387. For ten years longer Chrysostom continued as a preacher and teacher at Antioch. To this period may be assigned his commentaries on Gen. and Pss., St. Matt. and St. John, Acts, Rom., Con, Gal., and Eph. Those on Tim. i., ii., Tit., and on the other Epp. of St. Paul, are considered by Tillemont to have been certainly delivered at Constantinople (Till. MÃ©m. eccl. tom. xi. pp. 92â€“97, 370â€“376).
(d ) Episcopate of Constantinople .â€”Chrysostom's residence at Antioch ended in a.d. 397. In Sept. the bp. of Constantinople, the amiable and indolent Nectarius, died. The vacant see was one of the most dignified and influential in the church. Public expectation was excited as to his successor. The nomination rested with the emperor Arcadius, but virtually with the prime minister Eutropius. Passing by numerous candidates, he determined to elevate one who had no thought of being a candidate at all, John of Antioch, whose eloquence had impressed him during a recent visit to Antioch on state business. Chrysostom's name was received with delight by the electing prelates, and at once unanimously accepted. The difficulty lay with Chrysostom himself and the people of Antioch. The double danger of a decided "nolo episcopari" on Chrysostom's part and of a public commotion among the Antiochenes was overcome by stratagem. Asterius, the "comes orientis," in accordance with secret instructions from Eutropius, induced Chrysostom to accompany him to a martyr's chapel outside the city walls. There he was apprehended by the officers of the government, and hurried over the 800 miles under military escort from stage to stage, and reached his imperial see a closely guarded prisoner. His remonstrances were unheeded; his inquiries met with obstinate silence. Resistance being useless, Chrysostom felt it more dignified to submit. He was consecrated Feb. 26, 398, by Theophilus, patriarch of Alexandria. The duty was very unwelcome, for Theophilus had left no stone unturned to secure the nomination of Isidore, a presbyter of Alexandria. The ceremony was witnessed by a vast multitude, assembled to listen to the inaugural sermon of one of whose eloquence they had heard so much. This "sermo enthronisticus" is lost (Socr. H. E. vi. 2; Soz. H. E. viii. 2; Pallad. p. 42).
Constantinople soon learnt the difference between the new bishop and his predecessor. Chrysostom at once disfurnished the episcopal residence, and disposed of the costly plate and rich equipment for the benefit of the poor and the hospitals (Pallad. pp. 46, 47). Instead of banqueting with the laity, he ate the simplest fare in his solitary chamber (ib. pp. 101, 102). He studiously avoided the court and association with the great, and even ordinary conversation, except when duty compelled ( ib. pp. 103, 120â€“123). Such behaviour could hardly fail to be misrepresented. To the populace, accustomed to the splendour of former bishops, Chrysostom's simplicity appeared unworthy of his lofty station, and he was openly charged with parsimony, moroseness, and pride (Socr. H. E. vi. 4; Soz. H. E. viii. 9). Nor was the contrast more acceptable to most of his clergy, whose moral tone was far from elevated. Chrysostom, with uncompromising zeal, attempted to bring them back to simplicity of life and to activity in their calling. He deposed some on charges of homicide and adultery, and repelled others from the Eucharist. He set his face resolutely against the perilous custom of receiving "spiritual sisters" ( συνείσακται ), which was frequently the source of the grossest immoralities. To obviate the attractions of the Arians who at night and at early dawn gathered large crowds by their antiphonal hymns under porticoes and in the open air, as well as for the benefit of those unable to attend the church in the day, he revived the old custom of nocturnal services with responsive chanting, to the indignation of those clergy to whom ease was dearer than the spiritual improvement of their flocks (Pallad. p. 47; Soz. H. E. viii. 8; Homil. in Acta, 26, c. 3, p. 212). His disciplinary measures were rendered more unpopular by his lack of a conciliatory manner, coupled with irritability of temper and no small obstinacy (Socr. H. E. vi. 3, 21; Soz. H. E. viii. 3). He was also too much swayed by his archdeacon, Serapion, a proud, violent man, who is reported to have exclaimed at an assembly of the clergy, "You will never be able, bishop, to master these mutinous priests unless you drive them before you with a single rod" (Pallad. 18, 19; Socr. H. E. vi. 4; Soz. viii. 9).
But while his relations with his clergy were becoming increasingly embittered, he stood high in favour with the people, who flocked to his sermons, and drank in greedily his vehement denunciations of the follies and vices of the clergy and aristocracy (Socr. vi. 4, 5). He was no less popular with Arcadius and his empress, the Frankish general's daughter, Eudoxia, who was beginning to supplant the author of her elevation, the eunuch Eutropius, and to make her feeble partner bow to her more powerful will. For a time the bishop and the empress, between whom was afterwards so uncompromising an hostility, vied with one another in expressions of mutual admiration and esteem. Towards the latter part of 398, not long after Chrysostom had taken possession of his see, the relics of some anonymous martyrs were translated by night with great ceremony to the martyry of St. Thomas, on the seashore of Drypia, about nine miles from the city, which the empress had instituted in a fit of religious excitement. So lengthened was the procession and so brilliant the torches, that Chrysostom compares it to a river of fire. The empress herself in royal diadem and purple, attended by nobles and ladies of distinction, walked by the side of the bishop, in the rear of the chest enclosing the sacred bones. It was dawn before the church was reached and Chrysostom began his sermon. It was full of extravagant laudations of Euxodia and of ecstatic expressions of joy, which afterwards formed a ground of accusation against him (Homil. Dicta Postquam Reliquiae, etc. vol. xii. pp. 468â€“473). The next day the emperor with his court visited the shrine, and, laying aside his diadem, reverenced the holy martyrs. After the departure of Arcadius Chrysostom delivered a second enthusiastic homily in praise of his piety and humility ( Homil. Dicta Praesente Imperatore, ib. pp. 474â€“480).
At the same period the largeness of Chrysostom's heart and the sincerity of his Christian love were manifested by his care for the spiritual state of the numerous Goths at Constantinople. Some were Catholics, but the majority were Arians. He had portions of the Bible translated into their vernacular, and read by a Gothic presbyter to his countrymen in the church of St. Paul, who afterwards addressed them in their own tongue (Homil. 8, vol. xii. pp. 512â€“526). Chrysostom himself frequently preached to them by an interpreter. He ordained native readers, deacons, and presbyters, and dispatched missionaries to the Gothic tribes who still remained on the banks of the Danube, and consecrated a bishop from among themselves named Unilas (Theod. H. E. v. 30; Ep. 14, 207). Having learnt that the nomad Scythian tribes on the banks of the Danube were desirous of being instructed in the faith, he at once dispatched missionaries to them, and corresponded with Leontius, bp. of Ancyra, with regard to the selection of able men from his diocese for this work ( ib. H. E. v. 31). In his zeal for the suppression of pagan idolatry he obtained an imperial edict, a.d. 399, for the destruction of the temples in Phoenicia, which was carried out at the cost of some Christian ladies of Constantinople, who also supplied funds for missionary exertions in that country ( ib. v. 29). These efforts for the propagation of the faith were very dear to Chrysostom's heart, and even during his exile he superintended and directed them by letter ( Ep. 53, 54, 123, 126). He endeavoured to crush false doctrine wherever it was making head. Having learnt that the Marcionite heresy was infecting the diocese of Cyrus, he wrote to the then bishop, desiring him to expel it, and offering to help him in putting in force the imperial edicts for that purpose. He thus evidenced, in the words of Theodoret, that, like St. Paul, he bore in his heart "the care of all the churches" ( H. E. v. 31).
Eutropius fell from power in 399. He had hoped for a subservient bishop; but not only did Chrysostom refuse to countenance his nefarious designs, but denounced his vices from the pulpit with unsparing fidelity. The unhappy man, hurled in a moment from the pinnacle of his greatness, took refuge for a while in the church, but was ultimately beheaded at Chalcedon (Socr. H. E. vi. 5; Soz. H. E. viii. 7; Philost. H. E. xi. 6; Zosimus, v. 18; Chrys. Hom. in Eutrop. vol. iii. pp. 454â€“460; de Capto Eutrop. ib. pp. 460â€“482).
Early in a.d. 400 Gainas, the haughty Goth who had had a large share in the downfall of Eutropius, demanded the surrender of three leading ministers, Aurelianus the consul, Saturninus, and count John the empress's chief favourite. To relieve the emperor of embarrassment, they surrendered themselves. Their lives were in extreme danger. Chrysostom resorted to Gainas's camp, pleaded the cause of the hostages, and endeavoured to persuade the Goth to lessen his extravagant demands to be made consul and commander-in-chief, which would have placed the emperor at his mercy. Gainas had urged his claim for one of the churches of Constantinople for Arian worship, but Chrysostom's eloquence and spiritual authority overpowered him, and he desisted for a time at least in pressing his demand (Soz. H. E. viii. 4; Socr. H. E. vi. 6; Theod. H. E. v. 32, 33; Chrys. Hom. cum Saturn. et Aurel. etc., vol. iii. pp. 482â€“487). The sequel belongs to general history. The emperor, as a last resort, declared Gainas a public enemy; the inhabitants of the city rose against the Goths; a general massacre ensued, and Gainas was forced to flee for safety (Zosim. v. 18â€“22).
At this epoch the power and popularity of Chrysostom was at its culminating point. We have now to trace its swift and complete decline. The author of his overthrow was the empress Eudoxia. Her shortlived religious zeal had burnt itself out, and when she found Chrysostom too clear-sighted to be imposed upon by an outward show of piety, and too uncompromising to connive at wrong-doing even in the highest places, and that not even her rank as empress could save her and her associates from public censure, her former attachment was changed into the most implacable enmity. Jealousy of Chrysostom's influence over Arcadius contributed to her growing aversion. Chrysostom was now the only obstacle to her obtaining undisputed supremacy over her imbecile husband, and through him over the Eastern world. Means must be found to get rid of this obstacle also. Chrysostom himself afforded the opportunity in his excess of zeal for the purity of the church by overstepping his episcopal jurisdiction, not then so strictly defined as in modern dioceses. Properly speaking, the bp. of Constantinople had no jurisdiction beyond the limits of his own city and diocese. For Constantinople, as a city whose imperial dignity was of modern creation, was not a metropolitan see, but subject ecclesiastically to the metropolitan of Heraclea (otherwise Perinthus), who was exarch of the province of Thrace. The claims of Heraclea becoming antiquated, the prelates of Alexandria, as the first of the Eastern churches, gradually assumed metropolitan rights over Byzantium. But subjection to any other see was soon felt to be inconsistent with the dignity of an imperial city, and by the third canon of the oecumenical council held within its walls, a.d. 381, its bishop was declared second to the bp. of Rome, after him coming the metropolitans of Alexandria and Antioch. But this precedence was simply honorary, and although Nectarius had set the precedent followed by Chrysostom of exercising jurisdiction in the Thracian and Asiatic dioceses, the claim did not receive legal authority until the council of Chalcedon (can. 28). At a conference of bishops held at Constantinople in the spring of a.d. 400, Eusebius of Valentinopolis accused his brother bishop, Antoninus of Ephesus, of selling ordination to bishoprics, melting down the church plate for his own benefit, and other grave offences (Pallad. p. 126). A delegacy was dispatched to Asia to investigate these charges. Many dishonest and vexatious delays occurred, and the accused bishop died before any decision could be arrived at (ib. pp. 130â€“133). The Ephesian clergy and the bishops of the circuit appealed to Chrysostom to make peace. Prompt at the call of duty, Chrysostom, though it was the depth of winter (Jan. 401), and he in very feeble health, proceeded to Ephesus. On his arrival he exercised metropolitical authority, deposing six bishops convicted of simony, and correcting with unsparing hand the venality and licentiousness of the clergy ( ib. pp. 134â€“135; Socr. H. E. vi. 10; Soz. H. E. viii. 6). His excessive severity did not reconcile the reluctant ecclesiastics to the questionable authority upon which he acted. The results of Chrysostom's absence of three months from Constantinople were disastrous. He had entrusted his episcopal authority to Severian, bp. of Gabala, who basely abused his trust to undermine Chrysostom's influence at court. The cabal against Chrysostom was headed by the empress and her favourite ladies, of whose extravagance of attire and attempts to enhance their personal charms, the bishop had spoken with contemptuous ridicule, and among whom the wealthy and licentious widows Marsa, Castricia, and Eugraphia, "who used for the ruin of their souls the property their husbands had gained by extortion" (Pallad. pp. 35, 66), were conspicuous. This cabal received an important accession by the arrival of two bishops from Palestine, Antiochus of Ptolemais and the grey-haired Acacius of Beroea (Pallad. 49). [See Acacius; Antiochus.] Serapion, Chrysostom's archdeacon, had kept his master informed of Severian's base proceedings, and had continually urged his speedy return. His return was the signal for the outbreak of open hostilities, which Chrysostom's vehement and unguarded language in the pulpit exasperated. Soon after his return, he chose his text from the history of Elijah, and exclaimed, "Gather together to me those base priests that eat at Jezebel's table, that I may say to them, as Elijah of old, 'How long halt ye between two opinions?'" ( ib. 74). This allusion was only too clear. He had called the empress Jezebel. The haughty Eudoxia could not brook the insult, and the doom of Chrysostom was sealed. But until the plot was ripe it was necessary to keep up the semblance of friendship, and even of deference, towards one who could still make ecclesiastical authority felt. Some half-heard words of Severian, uttered in annoyance at Serapion's discourtesy, were distorted by the archdeacon into a blasphemous denial of Christ's Divinity (Socr. H. E. vi. 10; Soz. H. E. viii. 10). The charge was rashly credited by Chrysostom, who, without further inquiry, sentenced him to excommunication and banishment from Constantinople. Chrysostom was still the idol of the common people. The news spread that Severian had insulted their bishop, and Severian's life would have been in danger had he not speedily fled to Chalcedon, and put the Bosphorus between himself and the enraged mob. All the authority of the emperor and the passionate entreaties of the empress, who even placed her infant son on Chrysostom's knees in the church of the Apostles as an irresistible plea for yielding to her petition, were needed to extort forgiveness for Severian. Chrysostom interceded for him with the populace ( Hom. de Recipiendo Severiano, vol. iii. pp. 492â€“494), and the semblance of peace was restored (Socr. and Soz. u.s. ).
The secret intrigues, checked for the time, soon broke out afresh. The allusion to Jezebel was not forgiven by Eudoxia, and Severian was equally implacable. The clergy were eager to rid themselves of one who, in the words of Palladius, "like a lamp burning before sore eyes," was intolerable from the brilliancy of his virtues. All they wanted was a powerful leader.
Such a leader was found in Theophilus, bp. of Alexandria, who had been unwillingly compelled to consecrate Chrysostom. A pretext for his interference was afforded by the hospitality shewn by Chrysostom and his friends to some Egyptian monks, known from their remarkable stature as "the Tall Brethren" [See Ammonius], whom Theophilus had treated with great injustice and cruelty, nominally because of their Origenistic views, but really because they were privy to his own avarice and other vices (Isid. Pelusiot. Ep i. 142). Chrysostom had received them kindly, and written in their behalf to Theophilus, who replied with an indignant remonstrance against protecting heretics and interfering in the affairs of another diocese. The monks claimed the right of prosecuting their defamers (Pallad. pp. 51â€“62; Socr. H. E. vi. 7, 9; Soz. H. E. viii. 12, 13). A personal appeal to Eudoxia secured them this. Theophilus was summoned to appear before a council for the investigation of the whole case of these Nitrian monks, while their calumniators were called upon to substantiate their charges or suffer punishment. Theophilus, however, devised a scheme for turning the tables upon Chrysostom, and transforming the council into one before which Chrysostom himself might be arraigned (Pallad. p. 64). [See Dioscorus.]
To pave the way for the execution of this plot Theophilus induced Epiphanius, the venerable bp. of Salamis, to visit Constantinople, with the decrees of a council recently held in Cyprus, by which the tenets of Origen which the Nitrian monks were charged with holding were condemned, for Chrysostom's signature (Socr. H. E. vi. 10â€“14; Soz. H. E. viii. 14). Epiphanius petulantly declined the honours and hospitality prepared for him until Chrysostom had formally condemned Origen and expelled "the Tall Brethren." Chrysostom replied that he left both to the coming council, and would not prejudge the matter. The relations between the two prelates were further embittered by the ordination of a deacon by Epiphanius in violation of the canons of the church (Socr. H. E. vi. 11). No better success attended Epiphanius's attempt to obtain a condemnation of Origen from the bishops then at Constantinople. An interview with the accused monks, at which Epiphanius was obliged to acknowledge that he had not read a page of their writings, and had condemned them on hearsay, seems to have opened his eyes to the real character of Theophilus and the nature of the transaction in which he had become an agent. He refused to take any further share in the designs of Theophilus, and set sail for Cyprus, dying on his voyage or soon after his return (Socr. H. E. vi. 12â€“14; Soz. H. E. viii. 14, 15).
Shortly after Epiphanius's departure Theophilus arrived at Constantinople, accompanied by a bodyguard of rough sailors from his own city of Alexandria, laden with costly presents. He received a vociferous welcome from the crews of the Egyptian corn-ships, but the bishops and clergy of the city kept aloof. He refused all communications with Chrysostom, rejected all his offers of hospitality, and, assuming the position of an ecclesiastical superior, not of a defendant about to take his trial, openly declared that he had come to depose Chrysostom for grave offences. The three weeks between his arrival and the commencement of the synod were devoted to ingratiating himself with influential personages and the disaffected clergy, by flattery, sumptuous banquets, and splendid gifts. Arcadius, probably unaware of the plans of the secret cabal, remonstrated with Chrysostom for his delay in proceeding to Theophilus's trial, which Chrysostom justified by his unwillingness to usurp a jurisdiction not legitimately his (Socr. H. E. vi. 15; Soz. H. E. viii. 16; Pallad. 65, 66; Chrys. Ep. ad Innocent. 1). Theophilus had no such scruples. He assumed as patriarch of Alexandria the supremacy over all Eastern bishops, and claimed the right of summoning Chrysostom as a suffragan before his tribunal. Apprehensive of the well-known popularity of Chrysostom with the lower orders, he dared not venture to hold a synod in Constantinople. The place chosen was a suburb of Chalcedon, on the other side of the Bosphorus, known as "the Oak," where was a large church with contiguous buildings for the clergy and monks. Thirty-six bishops, of whom all but seven were Egyptians, Theophilus's suffragans, formed the council. The Asiatic bishops were mainly such as Chrysostom had made his enemies during his recent visitation. None was more hostile than Gerontius of Nicomedia, whom he had deposed. The presidential chair was occupied by the bp. of Heraclea, as metropolitan. To this packed council, the members of which were at the same time "judges, accusers, and witnesses" (Phot. Cod. 59, ad init. ), in the middle of July, a.d. 403, Chrysostom was summoned to answer to a list of charges containing 29 articles drawn up by the archdeacon John. Many of these were contemptibly frivolous, others grossly exaggerated, some entirely false (Pallad. p. 66). They had reference to the administration of his church and the alleged malversation of its funds; to his violent and tyrannical behaviour towards his clergy; to his private habitsâ€”"he had private interviews with women"â€”"he dined gluttonously by himself as a cyclops would eat"; to ritual irregularitiesâ€”"he robed and unrobed himself on his episcopal throne, and ate a lozenge after celebration" (Pallad. p. 66), and had violated the rule as to fasting communion; to his having ordained unworthy persons; and heretical deductions were drawn from some incautious and enthusiastic expressions in his sermons. A second list of charges under 18 heads was presented by Isaac the monk. In these the accusation of violence and inhospitality was renewed, and he was charged with invading the jurisdiction of other prelates (Phot. Cod. 59; Chrys. Ep. 125, ad Cyr. ). The most flagrant charge was that of uttering treasonable words against the empress, comparing her to Jezebel (Pallad. p. 74). This was construed into exciting the people to rebellion, and on this his enemies chiefly relied. The sessions lasted 14 days. Four times was Chrysostom summoned to appear before the self-appointed tribunal. His reply was dignified and unwavering. He refused to present himself before a packed synod of his enemies, to which he was summoned by his own clergy, and he appealed to a lawfully constituted general council. But irregular as the synod was, he expressed his readiness, in the interests of peace, to appear before it, if his avowed enemies, Theophilus, Severianus, Acacius, and Antiochus, were removed from the number of the judges. As this proposal met with no response, Chrysostom summoned a counter-synod of bishops attached to his cause, forty in number, whose letter of remonstrance to Theophilus was treated with contempt. At its twelfth sitting a message from the court urged the packed synod to come to a speedy decision. To this it yielded prompt obedience. By a unanimous vote it condemned Chrysostom as contumacious and deposed him from his bishopric. The charge of uttering treasonable words was left to the civil power, his enemies secretly hoping for a capital sentence (Socr. H. E. vi. 15; Soz. H. E. viii. 17). The imperial rescript confirming the sentence of deposition, however, simply condemned the bishop to banishment for life. The indignation of the people knew no bounds, when, as the evening wore on, the sentence on their beloved bishop became generally known. A crowd collected round Chrysostom's residence, and kept watch for 3 days and nights at its doors and those of the great church, lest he should be forcibly carried off. A word from him would have raised an insurrection. But the sermons he addressed to the vast multitudes in the cathedral advocated patience and resignation to the Divine Will. On the third day, during the noontide meal, he slipped out unperceived by a side door, and quietly surrendered himself to the imperial officers, by whom he was conducted after dark to the harbour and put on board a vessel which conveyed him to Hieron at the mouth of the Euxine. The victory of his enemies seemed complete. Theophilus entered the city in triumphal state and wreaked vengeance on the bishop's partisans. The people, who had crowded to the churches to pour forth their lamentations, were forcibly dislodged, not without bloodshed. Furious at the loss of their revered teacher, they thronged the approaches to the imperial palace, clamouring for his restoration and demanding that his cause should be heard before a general council. Constantinople was almost in revolt (Socr. H. E. vi. 16; Soz. H. E. viii. 18; Theod. H. E. v. c. 34; Zosim. Hist. v. 23; Pallad. p. 15). The following night the city was convulsed by an earthquake, felt with peculiar violence in the bedroom of Eudoxia. The empress fell at Arcadius's feet, and entreated him to avert the wrath of Heaven by revoking Chrysostom's sentence. Messengers were dispatched to discover the exiled prelate, bearing letters couched in terms of the most abject humiliation. The news of Chrysostom's recall caused universal rejoicing. Late as it was, a whole fleet of barques put forth to meet him. The Bosphorus blazed with torches and resounded with songs of triumph (Theod. H. E. v. 34). Chrysostom at first halted outside the city, claiming to be acquitted by a general council before resuming his see. The people suspected another plot, and loudly denounced the emperor and empress. Fearing a serious outbreak, Arcadius sent a secretary to desire Chrysostom to enter the walls without delay. As a loyal subject he obeyed. On passing the gates he was borne aloft by the crowd, carried into the church, placed on his episcopal seat, and forced to deliver an extemporaneous address. His triumph was now as complete as that of his enemies a few days before. Theophilus, and some of the leaders of the cabal, lingered on in Constantinople, hoping for a turn in the tide. But they were now the unpopular party, and could hardly shew themselves in the streets without being attacked and ill-treated. The person of Theophilus was no longer safe in Constantinople; while a more formidable danger was to be apprehended if the general council, which Chrysostom prevailed on the emperor to convoke, met and proceeded to inquire into his conduct. On the plea that his diocese could no longer put up with his absence, Theophilus abruptly left the city, and sailed by night for Alexandria (Socr. H. E. vi. 17; Soz. H. E. viii. 19; Chrys. Ep. ad Innocent. ). His flight was speedily followed by the assembling of a council of about 60 bishops, which annulled the proceedings at the council of the Oak, and declared Chrysostom still legitimate bp. of Constantinople. This judicial sentence removed all Chrysostom's scruples, and he resumed his episcopal duties (Soz. H. E. viii. i9). The first result of the failure of the machinations of Chrysostom's enemies was an apparently complete reconciliation between him and the empress, who seemed entirely to have forgotten her former resentment. But, within two months, circumstances arose which proved the unreality of the friendship, and awakened a still more irreconcilable feud. Eudoxia aspired to semi-divine honours. A column of porphyry was erected in the lesser forum, in front of the church of St. Sophia, bearing aloft her silver statue for the adoration of the people. Its dedication in Sept. 403 was accompanied by boisterous and licentious revelry. The noise of this unseemly merriment penetrated the church and disturbed the sacred services. Chrysostom's holy indignation took fire, and he mounted the ambo and thundered forth a homily, embracing in its fierce invective all who had any share in these profane amusements, above all, the arrogant woman whose ambition was the cause of them. "Herodias," he was reported to Eudoxia to have exclaimed, "is once more maddening; Herodias is once more dancing; once more Herodias demands the head of John on a charger." All her former fury revived, and she demanded of the emperor signal redress. Sacerdotal and imperial authority stood confronted. One or other must yield (Socr. H. E. vi. 18; Soz. H. E. viii. 20; Theophan. p. 68; Zosim. v. 24). The enemies of Chrysostom were not slow in reappearing. Acacius, Severian, Antiochus, with other members of the old cabal, hastened from their dioceses, and were soon in close conference with their former confederates among the fashionable dames and worldly and frivolous clergy of the city. After repeated deliberations they decided their policy. For months past Chrysostom had been wearying the emperor with demands for a general council. Let such a council be called, care being taken to select its members discreetly, and let this fresh outburst of treasonable language be laid before it, and the result could not be doubtful. Theophilus, too wary to appear again on the scene of his defeat, directed the machinations of the plotters. He put a new and powerful tool in their hands, in the 12th canon of the council of more than doubtful orthodoxy held at Antioch, a.d. 341, pronouncing the ipso facto deprivation of any bishop who, after deposition, appealed to the secular arm for restoration. The council met towards the end of 403. On the succeeding Christmas Day the emperor refused to communicate, according to custom, in the cathedral, on the ground of the doubtful legality of Chrysostom's position (Socr., Soz. u.s. ). This was justly regarded as ominous of Chrysostom's condemnation. Chrysostom, supported by 42 bishops, maintained his usual calm confidence. He continued to preach to his people, and his sermons were characterized by more than common vigour and unction (Pallad. p. 81). The synod determined to submit the decision to the emperor. An adroit demand was made in Chrysostom's favour by Elpidius, the aged bp. of Laodicea, himself a confessor for the faith, that the chief promulgators of the canon of Antioch, Acacius and Antiochus, should subscribe a declaration that they were of the same faith as its original authors, who were mainly Arians. The emperor was amused, and at once agreed to the proposal. The two bishops caught in the trap became livid with rage (ἐπὶ τὸ πελιδνότερον μεταβαλόντες τὴν πορφήν , Pallad. p. 80), but were compelled to promise a compliance, which their astuteness had little difficulty in evading. The synod continued its protracted session. We have no record of any formal decision or sentence. None indeed was necessary; Chrysostom's violation of the Antiochene canon had deposed him: he was no longer bp. of Constantinople. Meanwhile Easter was fast approaching. It would be intolerable if the emperor were a second time shut out from his cathedral on a chief festival of the church. Chrysostom must be at once removed: if possible, quietly; if not, by force. Assured by Antiochus and his companions that Chrysostom had been actually condemned and had ceased to be a bishop, Arcadius was persuaded to order his removal (ib. p. 81). An imperial officer was sent to desire the bishop to leave the church immediately. Chrysostom respectfully but firmly refused. "He had received the church from God, and he would not desert it. The emperor might expel him forcibly if he pleased. His violence would be his excuse before God for leaving his post." When the time arrived for the great baptismal function on Easter Eve, when no fewer than 3,000 catechumens were expected, he calmly left his residence, despite the orders of the emperor, and proceeded to the cathedral. The imperial guards, forbidden to use force, dared not interfere. The perplexed emperor summoned Acacius and Antiochus, and reproached them for their advice. They replied that "Chrysostom, being no longer a bishop, was acting illegally in administering the sacraments, and that they would take his deposition on their own heads" ( ib. p. 82). The emperor, overjoyed at having the responsibility of the bishop's condemnation removed from himself, at once ordered some guards to drag Chrysostom from the cathedral as usurping functions no longer his, and reconduct him to his domestic prison. A vast crowd was assembled in the church of St. Sophia, to keep the vigil of the Resurrection. The sacrament of baptism was being administered to the long files of catechumens. Suddenly the din of arms broke the solemn stillness. A body of soldiers, sword in hand, burst in, and rushed, some to the baptisteries, some up the nave to the sacred bema and altar. The catechumens were driven from the font at the point of the sword. Many were wounded, and, as an eye-witness records, "the waters of regeneration were stained with blood" ( ib. p. 81). The baptisteries appropriated to the females were invaded by the rude, licentious soldiers, who drove the women, half-dressed, shrieking into the streets. Other soldiers forced open the holy doors, and the sanctuary was profaned by the presence of pagans, some of whom, it was whispered with horror, had dared to gaze on and even to handle the Eucharistic elements. The clergy, clad in their sacred robes, were forcibly ejected, and chased along the dark streets by the brutal soldiery. With holy courage the dispersed catechumens were reassembled by their clergy in the baths of Constantine, which, hastily blessed by the priests, became sacred baptisteries. The candidates were again approaching the laver of regeneration, when they were once more forcibly dispersed by the emissaries of Antiochus. The soldiers, rude barbarians from Thrace, executed their commission with indiscriminating ferocity. The ministering priest received a wound on the head; a blow on the arm caused the deacon to drop the cruet of sacred chrism. The women were plundered of their robes and ornaments; the clergy of their vestments, and the extemporized altar of its holy vessels. The fugitives were maltreated and beaten, and many dragged off to prison. The horrors of that night remained indelibly imprinted on the minds of those who witnessed them, and were spoken of long afterwards with shuddering. Similar scenes were enacted wherever the scattered congregations endeavoured to reunite. For the greater part of Easter week Constantinople was like a city that had been stormed. Private dwellings were invaded to discover clandestine assemblies. The partisans of Chrysostomâ€”the Joannites, as they began to be calledâ€”were thrown into prison on the slightest suspicion, and scourged and tortured to compel them to implicate others (Chrys. Ep. ad Innocent. ap. Pallad. pp. 17â€“20; Pallad. pp. 82â€“88). For two months the timid Arcadius could not be prevailed upon to sign the decree for Chrysostom's banishment, and Chrysostom continued to reside in his palace, which was again guarded by successive detachments of his adherents. His life was twice attempted by assassins (Soz. H. E. viii. 21).
(e ) Exile. â€”At last, on June 5, a.d. 404, Arcadius was persuaded to sign the edict of banishment. Chrysostom, after a final prayer in the cathedral with some of his faithful bishops, prepared with calm submission to yield it prompt obedience. To guard against a popular outbreak, he directed that his horse should be saddled and taken to the great west entrance, and after a tender farewell of his beloved Olympias and her attendant deaconesses, he passed out unobserved at a small postern and surrendered himself to the guard, who conveyed him, with two bishops who refused to desert him, to a vessel which instantly started under cover of night for the Asiatic shore (Pallad. pp. 89â€“90. He had scarcely left the city when the church he had just quitted took fire; the flames, which are said to have broken out first in the episcopal throne, caught the roof, and the conflagration spread to the senate house and adjacent public buildings (ib. pp. 91â€“92; Socr. H. E. vi. 18; Soz. H. E. viii. 22; Zosim. v. 24). The suspicion, however unjustly entertained, that this fire was due to Chrysostom's adherents, resolved that the church of their beloved teacher should never be possessed by his enemies, led to a relentless persecution of the Joannites under the semblance of a judicial investigation. Innocent persons of every age and sex were put to the torture, in the vain hope that they would inculpate leading members of their party. The presbyter Tigrius and the young reader Eutropius expired under their torturer's hands. Others barely escaped with their lives, maimed and mutilated (Soz. H. E. viii. 22â€“24). The tender heart of Chrysostom was wrung upon hearing of the sufferings inflicted on his friends, especially upon his dearly loved Olympias. To the charge of incendiarism was added that of contumacious resistance to the emperor's will, in refusing to hold communion with Arsacius and Atticus, who in succession had been thrust into Chrysostom's see. [See Arsacius and Atticus] This was made a crime punishable with degradation from official rank, fine, and imprisonment. The clergy faithful to Chrysostom were deposed, and banished with every circumstance of brutality. Some did not reach their place of banishment alive. The most persevering endeavours were made to stamp out the adherents of the banished prelate, not only in Constantinople but in Asia Minor and Syriaâ€”endeavours which only deepened their attachment to him, and confirmed their resolution never to yield (Theod. H. E. v. 34).
All other help failing, the persecuted party appealed to the Western church as represented by its chief bishops. Letters were sent addressed to Innocent, bp. of Rome, Venerius of Milan, and Chromatius of Aquileia, by Chrysostom himself, by the 40 friendly bishops, and by the clergy of Constantinople (Pallad. p. 10). Theophilus and his adherents sent counter-representations (ib. p. 9). Innocent, without hesitation, pronounced the synod that had condemned Chrysostom irregular, and annulled his deposition because pronounced in the absence of the accused, and wrote authoritative letters to the chief parties. To Theophilus he addressed sharp reproof, to the Constantinopolitan clergy fatherly sympathy, to Chrysostom himself sympathy and encouragement ( ib. pp. 23, 24; Soz. H. E. viii. 26), and he persuaded Honorius to write a letter to his brother Arcadius, urging the convocation of a general synod. This letter was conveyed to Constantinople by a deputation of Western bishops. But Arcadius was not a free agent. The bishops were not allowed admission to his presence. The letters they bore were wrested from them, the thumb of one of the bishops being broken in the struggle. They were insulted, maltreated, and sent home with every mark of contumely (Pallad. pp. 30â€“33; Soz. H. E. viii. 28).
Chrysostom's place of exile, selected by Eudoxia's hatred, was Cucusus, a lonely mountain village in the Tauric range, on the borders of Cilicia and Lesser Armenia. It had a most inclement climate and was exposed to perpetual inroads from Isaurian marauders. Chrysostom first learnt at Nicaea the place of his future abode. His disappointment was severe, but remonstrance was vain. Refreshing breezes from lake Ascanius invigorated his worn constitution, and helped him to face the long and sultry journey. It was the season when the heat was most oppressive, and his conductors were instructed to push on with the utmost speed, without regard to his strength or comfort. Whatever kind consideration could do to mitigate his sufferings was done by the officers in charge, Anatolius and Theodorus, who gladly executed for him all the duties of personal servants. On July 5 Chrysostom left Nicaea to traverse the scorching plains of Galatia and Cappadocia under a midsummer sun. More dead than alive, he reached Caesarea. The bp. Pharetrius, an unworthy successor of the great Basil and a concealed enemy of Chrysostom (Pallad. p. 77), was greatly troubled at a halt being fixed at Caesarea. His clergy were Joannites almost to a man: if he treated Chrysostom badly, he would offend them; if well, he would incur the more terrible wrath of the empress. So, while sending complimentary messages, he carefully avoided an interview, and used all means to dispatch him from Caesarea as quickly as possible. This was not so easy, for a severe access of his habitual ague-fever had compelled Chrysostom to seek medical aid (Ep. 12). He was received with enthusiastic affection by all ranks in the city. His lodging was attacked by a body of fanatical monks, probably the tools of Pharetrius, who threatened to bum it over his head unless he instantly quitted it. Driven out by their fury, Chrysostom, suffering from a fresh attack of fever, found refuge in the country house of a wealthy lady near, named Seleucia. But the threats of Pharetrius prevailed on Seleucia to turn Chrysostom out of doors in the middle of the night, on the pretext that the barbarians were at hand, and that he must seek safety by flight. The dangers of that terrible night, when the fugitives' torches were extinguished for fear of the Isaurians and, his mule having fallen under the weight of his litter, he was taken up for dead and had to be dragged or rather carried along the precipitous mountain tracks, are graphically described in his letters to Olympias ( Epp. 12, 14). He reached Cucusus towards the end of August. His reception was of a nature to compensate for the fatigues of the way and to mitigate the trials of exile ( Ep. 14, Â§ 1). He found agreeable occupation in writing and receiving letters, and in social intercourse with congenial friends. Never even as bp. of Constantinople did he exert a wider and more powerful influence. The East was almost governed from a mountain village of Armenia. His advice was sought from all quarters. No important ecclesiastical measure was undertaken without consulting him. In the words of Gibbon, "the three years spent at Cucusus were the most glorious of his life. From that solitude Chrysostom, whose active mind was invigorated by misfortunes, maintained a strict and frequent correspondence with the most distant provinces; exhorted the separate congregations of his faithful adherents to persevere in their allegiance; urged the destruction of the temples of Phoenicia, and the extirpation of heresy in the isle of Cyprus; extended his pastoral care to the missions of Persia and Scythia, and negotiated by his ambassadors with the Roman pontiff and the emperor Honorius." His voluminous correspondence, which all belongs to this period, shews how close a connexion he kept up with the clergy and laity of his former diocese, and how unremitting was his oversight of the interests of his church (Soz. H. E. viii. 27). His chief cause of suffering was the variable climate and the length and severity of the winter. In the winter of 405 the intelligence that the Isaurian brigands were intending a coup de main on Cucusus drove nearly the whole of the inhabitants from the town. Chrysostom joined the fugitives. The feeble old man with a few faithful companions, including the presbyter Evethius and the aged deaconess Sabiniana, wandered from place to place, often passing the night in forests or ravines, pursued by the terror of the Isaurians, until they reached the mountain fort of Arabissus, some 60 miles from Cucusus, in the castle of which place, "more a prison than a home," he spent a winter of intense suffering, harassed by the fear of famine and pestilence, unable to procure his usual medicines, and deprived of the comfort of his friends' letters, the roads being blocked with snow and beset by the Isaurians who ravaged the whole district with fire and sword ( Epp. 15, 61, 69, 70, 127, 131). Once he narrowly escaped falling into the hands of the marauders, who made a nocturnal attack, and all but took the town ( Ep. 135). With the return of spring the Isaurians retired, and Chrysostom was able to descend to Cucusus early in 406. After Arabissus this desolate little town seemed a paradise. His greatest joy was in being nearer his friends and receiving their letters more regularly ( Epp. 126, 127, 128). A third winter brought its usual hardships, but Chrysostom was now somewhat acclimatized and endured them without a recurrence of illness ( Epp. 4, 142). His wonderful preservation from dangers hitherto, and the manner in which his feeble health, instead of sinking under the accumulated trials of his banishment, became invigorated, awoke sanguine anticipations, and he now confidently anticipated his return from banishment and his resumption of the care of his diocese ( Epp. 1, 2, 4). But this was not to be. The unhappy Eudoxia had preceded the victim of her hatred to the grave, but left other equally relentless enemies behind. Stung with disappointment that the rigours of Cucusus had failed to kill him, and that from his mountain banishment he exercised a daily growing influence, they obtained a rescript from Arcadius transferring him first to Arabissus (Pallad. p. 96), and then to the small town of Pityus at the roots of Caucasus on the bleak N.E. shores of the Euxine. This was chosen as the most ungenial and inhospitable spot in the whole empire, and therefore the most certain to rid them quickly of his hated existence, even if, as proved to be the case, the long and toilsome journey had not previously quenched the feeble spark of life. This murderous purpose was plainly evidenced by the selection of two specially ferocious and brutal praetorian guards to convey him there, with instructions to push forward with the most merciless haste, regardless of weather or the health of their prisoner, a hint being privately given that they might expect promotion if he died on the road ( ib. p. 98). The journey was to be made on foot. Towns where he might enjoy any approach to comfort and have the refreshment of a warm bath were to be avoided. The necessary halts, as few and brief as possible, were to be at squalid villages or in the unsheltered country. All letters were forbidden, the least communication with passers-by punished with brutal blows. In spite of some approach to consideration on the part of one of his guards, the three months' journey between Cucusus and Comana must have been one long slow martyrdom to the fever-stricken old man. His body was almost calcined, by the sun, and, to adopt Palladius's forcible image, resembled a ripe apple ready to fall from the tree ( ib. p. 99). On reaching Comana it was evident that Chrysostom was entirely worn out. But his pitiless guard hurried him through the town without a moment's halt. Five or six miles outside stood a chapel over the tomb of the martyred bishop, Basiliscus. Here they halted for the night. In the morning Chrysostom begged for a brief respite in vain; but he had gone scarcely four miles when a violent attack of fever compelle
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Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Chrysostom, John, Bishop of Constantinople'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hwd/​c/chrysostom-john-bishop-of-constantinople.html. 1911.