Early Church Fathers
1 In English Bible, lxviii. 61.
2 Ibid. xxx. 6.
3 Ibid. cxix. 106.
1 "Sanctus Gregorius primus omnium se principio epistolarum suarum servum servorum. Dei satis humiliter definivit." (Joan Diac. in Vit, S. Greg. l. ii. c. 1). The designation, however, had been used by others before him, as by Pope Damasus (Ep. IV. ad Stephanum et Africoe Episcopus), and Augustine (Ep. ad Vitalem). Gregory may have been the first to use it habitually. It is true that in the Registrum Epistolarum we find it four times only, viz., in the headings of Epistles I. 1, I. 36, VI. 51, XIII. 1. But it may have been omitted in the copies of his letters preserved at Rome. This is probable from the fact that it occurs in the letters relating to the English Mission as given by Bede, though absent from the same letters in the Registrum.
2 The population of Rome had long been greatly dependent on Sicily for the supply of corn, which it was the duty of the proetor to purchase and transmit to Rome. Famine might result from failure of this supply. Hence what is said further on tbe subject in this Epistle. Cf. "Neminem vestrum proeterit, judices omnem utilitatem opportunitatemque provincioe Sicilioe quoe ad commoda populi Romani adjuncta sit consistere in re frumentaria maxime. Nam coeteris rebus adjuvamur ex illa provincia, hac vero alimur et sustinemur."(Cicero in Verrem, Act II. lib. 3, c. 5.)
3 For notice of him, see III. 53, note.
4 In English Bible, ixix. 2.
5 Ibid. xl. 12.
6 In English Bible, lxxiii. 18.
7 Ibid. xxxvii. 20.
8 Ibid. lxxxiii. 13.
9 There are other letters from Gregory to this Narses, viz. iv. 32, vi. 14, and perhaps vii. 30. He may have been the same as the Narses who was a famous general of the Emperor Maurice, and who was eventually burnt alive by Phocas. (Theoph., Sim. V.)
10 The animal called bou/baloj is described by Pliny (l. 8, c. 15) as "animal ferum in Africa, vitulo ac cervo simile." The reference in the text is to Amos vi. 12, where the Vulgate has, "Numquid currere queunt in petris equi, aut arari potest in bubalis?" The clause in the epistle, "ut in agro Dominico cum bubalis arares," appears to be a quotation from a previous letter of Gregory's, in which be may have announced his election to Narses.
11 The whole passage is rather obscure to us, not having before us the letter from Narses, which is replied to, or the previous ones from Gregory to which Narses had referred. The drift seems to be as follows. Gregory, in his former letter, had compared his being elected pope to a bubalis being set to plough in the Lord's field. Narses had replied to the effect that even if he were a bubalus, he was not therefore unfit, since bubali, with other wild beasts, had been in St. Peter's sheet, and pronounced clean. To this Gregory now rejoins, "Yes; but those beasts were to be slain before they might be eaten; and so you must first slay me, per compuctionem-i.e. by so pricking me with `the sword of your mouth0' as to induce me to comply-before you may eat me per obedientiam-i.e. make use of me in the way you wish through my obedience to your desire. Not being thus so far slain, I have a right to protest against being made pope against my will."
12 Honoratus was at this time Gregory's apocrisiarius at Constantinople. We find several letters addressed to him in this capacity, but none throwing light on the case here referred to.
13 Theodorus was the court Physician at Constantinople, to whom Epistles III. 66, IV. 31, VII. 28, are addressed.
14 Anastasius had been threatened with deposition and exile (a.d. 563) by the Emperor Justinian, and the sentence had been carried into effect (a.d. 570) by Justinian's successor, Justin II. Notwithstanding this, Gregory after his own accession acknowledged him as the true patriarch of Antioch; and, probably owing to his intercession with the Emperor Maurice, Anastasius wes restored to his patriarchal See on the death of Gregory, who had been intruded into it, a.d. 593. Other Epistles to, or concerning this Anastasius are I. 25, 26, 28; V. 39; VII. 27, 33; VIII. 2.
15 In English Bible, cxix. 107.
16 Ibib. lxix. 2.