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Bible Dictionaries

A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Eleusius, Bishop of Cyzicus

Eleusius (2) , bp. of Cyzicus, a prominent semi-Arian in the 2nd half of the 4th cent., intimately connected with Basil of Ancyra, Eustathius of Sebaste, Sophronius of Pompeiopolis, and other leaders of the Macedonian party. He is uniformly described as of high personal character, holy in life, rigid in self-discipline, untiring in his exertions for what he deemed truth, and, according to St. Hilary, more nearly orthodox than most of his associates (Hilar. de Synod. p. 133). The people of his diocese are described by Theodoret as zealous for the orthodox faith, and well instructed in the Holy Scriptures and in church doctrines, and he himself as a man worthy of all praise (Theod. H. E. ii. 25; Haer. Fab. iv. 3). Though usually found acting with the tyrannical and unscrupulous party, of which Macedonius was the original leader, and sharing in the discredit of their measures against the holders of the Homoousian faith, Eleusius was uncompromising in opposing the pronounced Arians, by whom he was persecuted and deposed. He held office in the Imperial household when suddenly elevated to the see of Cyzicus by Macedonius, bp. of Constantinople, c. 356 (Soz. H. E. iv. 20; Suidas, s.v. Ἐλεύσιος ). He signalized his entrance on his office by a vehement outburst of zeal against the relics of paganism at Cyzicus. He shewed no less decision in dealing with the Novatianists, with whom a community of persecution had caused the Catholics to unite. He destroyed their church, and forbade their assemblies for worship (Socr. H. E. ii. 38; Soz. H. E. iv. 21; v. 15). He soon acquired great influence over his people by his religious zeal and the gravity of his manners. He established in his diocese a large number of monasteries, both for males and females (Suidas, u.s. ). He took part in the semi-Arian council at Ancyra a.d. 358 (Hilar. de Synod. p. 127), and was one of the members deputed to lay before Constantius at Sirmium the decrees they had passed, condemnatory of the Anomoeans (Hilar. u.s.; Soz. H. E. iv. 13; Labbe, Concil. ii. 790). At the council of Seleucia, a.d. 359, he replied to the proposition of the Acacians to draw up a new confession of faith, by asserting that they had not met to receive a new faith, but to pledge themselves for death to that of the fathers (Socr. H. E. ii. 39, 40). Being commissioned with Eustathius of Sebaste, Basil of Ancyra, and others, to communicate the result of the synod to Constantius, Eleusius denounced the blasphemies attributed to Eudoxius so vigorously that the latter was compelled by the emperor's threats to retract (Theod. H. E. ii. 23). [See Eudoxius; Eustathius of Sebaste.] The wily Acacians, however, speedily gained the ear of Constantius, and secured the deposition of their semi-Arian rivals, including Eleusius, a.d. 360. The nominal charge against him was that he had baptized and ordained one Heraclius of Tyre, who, being accused of magic, had fled to Cyzicus, and whom, when the facts came to his knowledge, he had refused to depose. He was also charged with having admitted to holy orders persons condemned by his neighbour, Maris of Chalcedon (Soz. H. E. iv. 24; Socr. H. E. ii. 42). His old patron, Macedonius of Constantinople, who had been got rid of at the same time, wrote to encourage him and the other deposed prelates in their adherence to the Antiochene formula and to the "Homoiousian" as the watchword of their party (Socr. H. E. ii. 45; Soz. H. E. iv. 27). The subtle Anomoean Eunomius was intruded into the see of Cyzicus by Eudoxius, who had succeeded Macedonius (Socr. H. E. iv. 7; Philost. H. E. v. 3). Eunomius failed to secure the goodwill of the people who refused to attend where he officiated, and built a church for themselves outside the town. On the accession of Julian, a.d. 361, Eleusius, with the other deposed prelates, returned to his see, but was soon expelled a second time by Julian, on the representation of the heathen inhabitants of Cyzicus, for his zeal against paganism (Soz. H. E. v. 15). At Julian's death Eleusius regained possession. He took the lead at the Macedonian council of Lampsacus, a.d. 365 (Socr. H. E. iv. 4). At Nicomedia, a.d. 366, he weakly succumbed to Valens's threats of banishment and confiscation, and accepted the Arian creed. Full of remorse, he assembled his people on his return to Cyzicus, confessed and deplored his crime, and desired, since he had denied his faith, to resign his charge to a worthier. The people, devotedly attached to him, refused to accept his resignation ( ib. 6; Philost. H. E. ix. 13). In 381 Eleusius was the chief of 36 bishops of Macedonian tenets summoned by Theodosius to the oecumenical council of Constantinople in the hope of bringing them back to Catholic doctrine. This anticipation proved nugatory; Eleusius and his adherents obstinately refused all reconciliation, maintaining their heretical views on the Divinity of the Holy Ghost (Socr. H. E. v. 8; Soz. H. E. vii. 7). Similarly at the conference of bishops of all parties in 383, to which Eleusius was also invited as chief of the Macedonians, the differences proved irreconcilable, and the emperor manifested his disappointment by severe edicts directed against the Macedonians, Eunomians, Arians, and other heretics (Tillem. Mém. Eccl. vol. vi. passim).


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Eleusius, Bishop of Cyzicus'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. 1911.

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