Early Church Fathers
33 See II. 7, note 5.
34 Domno., "Abbas autem, quia vices Christi agere creditur, Domnus et Abbas vocetur." Regula S. Benedicti, c. 63.
35 Domno., "Abbas autem, quia vices Christi agere creditur, Domnus et Abbas vocetur." Regula S. Benedicti, c. 63.
36 The miracles attributed to Nonnosus,which are here referredto, are told in Dialog. I. 7, as having been communicated to Gregory by Maximianus and an old monk called Laurio. Nonnosos, at the time when they were wrought, had been Prior under Anastasiaus of a monastery on the summit of Mount Soracte.
37 John Jejunator (or the Faster), so called from his ascetic habits. Gregory had known and esteemed him during his residence at Constantinople. See above, III. 4. The occasion of the letter before us was as follows. Two presbyters, John of Chalcedon and Athanasius of Isauria (the latter being also a monk in the monastery of St. Mile in Isauria), had been accused of heresy at Constantinople, found guilty, and one of them beaten with cudgels in the church. They had gone to Rome to lay their grievances before the pope, who had written to John Jejunator the Patriarch more than once to protest against so uncanonical a punishment. The Patriarch seems to have replied that he knew nothing about the matter: whereupon Gregory sent him this stinging letter. In the following year (593-4), it appears from a letter to Narses, a patrician at Constantinople, that the case was still pending. Narses had reported the Patriarch as wishing to act canonically; and Gregory, doubtfully hoping so, threatens strong measures if it should be otherwise (IV. 32). Afterwards (a.d.594-5) it seems as if the Patriarch had written on the subject pleasantly: for at the end of a long letter to him protesting against his assumption of the title of "Oecumenical Bishop," Gregory alludes to his "scripta dulcissima atque suavissima" in the matter of John and Athanasius, promising a reply (V. 18). In the following year (a.d.595-6) we find that the charges of heresy against the two presbyters had been entertained before Gregory in a Roman synod; and this apparently with the assent of the Patriarch, who had transmitted a statement of the case. John of Chalcedon had been fully acquitted of heresy; but some doubt still remained as to the orthodoxy of Athanasius. Accordingly John was at once sent back to Constantinople with a letter from Gregory to the Patriarch, reversing the sentence against him which had been passed at Constantinople and demanding that he should be received with favour and reinstated. As though doubtful of the Patriarch's compliance, Gregory addressed also the Emperor, and Theoctistus, a relation of the Emperor's, requesting them to protect the acquitted appellant (VI. 14, 15, 16, 17). In the same year Athanasius, who had explained or retracted what had been objected to in his writings, was also declared orthodox, and sent back to Constantinople as acquitted. But this was after the death of John Jejunator; and accordingly the letter demanding the reinstatement of Athanasius was addressed to his successor Cyriacus (VI. 66; VII. 5). How John Jejunator would have acted at this stage of the proceedings, had he lived, we have no means of knowing; nor is there record of the action of Cyriacus. The only further reference to the subject in the epistles is in one to the two Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch (VII. 34), in writing to whom Gregory sets forth at some length the doctrinal questions that had been treated in the trial of Athanasius, as though desirous of having the assent of those apostolical and patriarchal sees, which (as we have seen) he elsewhere acknowledges as sharing with his own the authority of St. Peter, to the decision come to at Rome. The whole history of the case, which, as has been seen, was protracted through several years, is of some importance as illustrating Gregory's claim to entertain appeals from Constantinople, and to reverse at Rome what had been decided there, though it is not equally clear, from what is before us in this particular case, how such claims were viewed at Constantinople. On the one hand we find no sign of the appeal of the two presbyters to Rome having been objected to; while on the other, Gregory evidently had his doubts as to whether the Roman decision would be acted on at Constantinople; and whether it was so or not we do not know. The letters about it, above referred to, are III. 53; IV. 32; V. 18; VI. 14, 15, 16, 17, 66; VII. 5, 34.
38 This John, and apparently previous bishops of Ravenna, appear to have assumed a dignity not conceded to other metropotitans; perhaps on the ground of Ravenna being the seat of the Exarch, and having been once the imperial residence. The pallium usually granted to Metropolitans was allowed to be used by them only during the celebration of the Eucharist; and we find Gregory, in several epistles, restricting them to such use of it, when he sent it to them. John was reported to have worn it while receiving the laity in the sacristy before celebration; and he owned to having worn it in solemn processions through the city, alleging custom and peculiar privilege. Further, his clergy, when accompanying him in processions, had been accustomed to carry napkins (mappuloe), which appear to have been signs of dignity. It is for these assumptions that Gregory now remonstrates with him; but apparently in vain with regard to the use of the pallium in processions through the city: For Marinianus, the successor of John, continued the custom, though whether he finally persisted in it does not appear. Other letters referring to the subject are V. 15; VI. 34, 61.
39 Secretarium, viz. the chamber adjoining the church in which the vestments and sacred utensils were kept, and the clergy vested for service; and in which also as appears from this and the following epistle, the bishop was accustomed to receive the laity before mass. From the custom of holding synods in the apartments so called, the sessions of synods were also themselves sometimes called secretaria.
40 The term primicerius is variously applied, denoting the chiefs of departments. In Ep. 22, supra, we find primicerium notariorum. In VII. 32, we find also the designation Secundi cerius.
41 See Ep. 56. John of Ravenna, notwithstanding his obsequious language in this letter, appears to have been by no means disposed to give way. For see Gregory's subsequent letter to him (V. 15), in which he is sharply accused of duplicity. And not only he, but his successor in the see also, appear to have continued the practice of wearing the pallium in public processions. What he says in the letter before us of his having incurred odium by his defence of the authority of the Roman See may be noted as significant of some jealousy of such authority at Ravenna.
42 Ut mox procedatur. The word procedere is used here, and elsewhere, for approaching the altar for celebration. Cf. below, and VII. 34.
43 Procedebant. See last note.
44 Procedebant. See last note.
45 Baptisteries (baptisteria) were anciently separate buildings adjoining churches (cf. VI. 22), the fontes being the pools of water (called also piscinoe and kolumbh/qra) therein contained. (See Bingham, B. VIII. C. VII. Sect. 1, 4 ) The inconvenience to the monks of having a baptistery at their monastery would be from the concourse of people resorting to it, which would interfere with monastic seclusion. For a similar reason Gregory more than once forbids public masses in monasteries. Cf. e.g. II. 41; VI. 46.
46 Fonts were anciently sunken pools. "In media habet fontem in terra excavatam ad quinque ulnas . . . tribus gradibus in id descensus est." Onuphrius, de baptisterio Lateran.
47 Possibly the same lady whom the ex-monk Venantius married. See I. 34, note 8, and IX. 123. The correspondence that took place at this time between her and Gregory seems to have arisen from some question of legal right, in which she appeared tothe latter to be dealing harshly with some poor persons, perhaps peasants (rustici) on an estate of the Church (hujus Ecclesioe pauperibus). The passing tribute paid in this letter to the lady's personal charms is characteristic of Gregory's complimentary style, and (supposing her to have been the same Italica who became the bride of Venantius) suggests one attraction which may have drawn the latter away from his intended monastic life. Further on the same supposition, we may perhaps read with interest between the lines of this letter something of the feelingsubsisting at the time of writing between the correspondents. She, being a well-bred patrician lady, had evidently written to him with gentle courtesy. But he detected, or thought he detected, something wanting in the tone of her letter. Nor was she likely to feel warmly towards him who now called her to account, if it were he whom she knew to have done all he could to alienate Velantius from her. He, on the other hand while addressing her in return with all the courtesy due to her rank and character, and evidently anxious to avoid unpleasantness, shews signs of not being entirely satisfied as to her feelings towards himself, or her readiness to follow his admonitions. It is interesting to observe that, judging from the tone of subsequent Epistles, we may conclude very friendly relations to have been afterwards maintained between Gregory and the wedded pair.
48 This letter is supposed to have been written in the third Indiction (a.d.592-3); the law complained of having been issued in the previous year. The epistle, which follows, to the Emperor's physician on the same subject, shews how much Gregory had it at heart. Some five years later it appears from a letter to divers metropolitans, dated December,a.d.597 (VIII. 5), that an amicable agreement had meanwhile been come to, both the Emperor and the Pope having made some concessions. Cf. also the end of Ep. 24 in Book X.
49 Cf. below, "in terrena militia signatus." It appears that not slaves only, but soldiers also, were sometime marked on the hand. Cf. Cyprian, Ad Donatum, "Te quem jam spiritualibus castris militia signavit".
50 Nullus qui optio.- "Optiones: Militaris annonoe eragatores: distribiteurs des vivres aux soldats" (Cod. Th.) D'Arnis Lexicon Manuale.
51 This Domitian, Bishop of Melitene and Metropolitan of Roman Armenia, was a kinsman of the Emperor Maurice, and had lately been successfully employed by him in coming to terms with the Persian king, Chosroes II., as is related in the histories of Evagrius and Theofylact. The latter describes him as "holy in life, sweet in speech, ready in action, most prudent in council" (Hist. iv. 14). He also gives at length an eloquent sermon of his, delivered after the cession, through his mediation, of the city Martyropolis in Mesopotamia to the Roman Emperor (IV. 16). Chosroes II., who is said to have had a strong regard for Domitian, appears to have had some leanings towards Christianity. We are told that, when flying from his enemies in Persia, and in doubt whether to seek refuge with the Romans or the Turks, he had let his horse take its own course, calling on the God of the Christians for guidance, and thus found his way to Circesium, where he was received by Probus the Governor (Theophyl. IV. 10; Evagr. H. E. VI. 16). Further, it is related that, on one occassion, when Probus, bishop of Chalcedon, had been sent to him as ambassador by the Emperor, he requested to be shewn a portrait of the Blessed Virgin, which he adored when he saw it, saying that he had seen the original in a vision (Theophyl. V. 15); and also that he attributed his own success in arms, and the pregnancy of his favourite wife Syra (Shirin), who was herself a Christian, to the intercession of S. Sergius. whom he had invoked, and that he sent a cross of pure gold, adorned with jewels, which he had vowed with other presents, to the shrine of the saint, together with a letter of acknowledgment addressed to him (Theophyl. V. 13, 14; Evagr. H.E. VI. 20). But he certainly never became a Christian, though it appears from the letter before us that Domitian had done his best to convert him. The earlier part of this epistle refers evidently to some allegorical interpretation of Scripture by Gregory after his usual manner, to which Domitian had taken objection.
1 As to the schism from Rome in the province of Istria consequent on the condemnation of "The Three Chapters" by the fifth General Council, see I.16, note 3. It appears that in the adjacent province of Liguria, of which Mediolanum (Milan) was the metropolis, there was a like rejection of the fifth council on the part at least of some bishops, who had consequently declined communion with their newly-appointed Metropolitan Constantius, who was believed to have agreed formally to the condemnation of The Three Chapters.
2 Cautionem fecisse: i.e. had pledged himself to the pope by a formal document to uphold the fifth council in its condemnation of the said Chapters.
3 Theodelinda the Lombard queen was a catholic Christian, though her husband Agilulph was still an Arian. Ticinum (or Pavia), which was the residence of the Lombard Kings, was under the Metropolitan jurisdiction of Milan; and it appears that, under the influence of the dissentient bishops of the province, she too had refused to communicate with the new Metropolitan. Gregory's anticipation, expressed in what follows, that she would easily be brought round, was premature: for ten years later (a.d.603-4) we find Gregory still taking pains to overcome her scruples with regard to the fifth council. See XIV. 12.
4 Viz. Epistle 4 below. This letter, however, was not delivered to the queen by the bishop Constantius, to whom it had been sent, because of the allusion contained in it to the fifth council, which she appears to have been resolute in rejecting. The new bishop thought she would be more likely to accept him as orthodox, if it were only said that he adhered in all respects to the faith of the four previous councils, including that of Chalcedon. See below, Ep. 39. Accordingly another letter (Ep. 38), in which allusion to the fifth council was omitted, was prepared and sent in accordance with the advice of Constantius. See further, note 8, under Epistle 3.
5 I.e. Agilulph the Lombard King. The time (Indict. XII. i.e.a.d.593-4) was after he had invested Rome and returned to Pavia, and when Gregory had in vain urged Romanus Patricius, the Exarch at Ravenna, to come to terms with him. Gregory appears prepared to approach him now with a view to a separate peace with himself, which he says afterwards (see V. 36, 40) he could have made if he had been so minded. Letters bearing on the subject are V. 36, 40, 41, 42; VI. 30; IX. 4, 6, 42, 43, 98. See also Proleg. p. xxi.
6 I.e. Romanus Patricius, the Exarch.
7 Cautionem fecisse. See Ep. 2, note 2.
8 The contention of those who disapproved of the condemnation of "The Three Chapters" by the fifth council was not only that the condemnation of deceased persons was wrong as wellas useless, but also that it impugned the faith of the Council of Chalcedon. For that Council had not condemned the writers who were now condemned; and two of them, Theodoret of Cyrus and Ibas of Edessa, had even appeared before it, and been accepted as orthodox. Further, the condemnation was regarded as a concession to the Monophysites who had been condemned at Chalcedon, the writers in question having been peculiarly obnoxious to the Monophysite party. And it does appear to be the case that a main motive of the Emperor Justinian in forcing the condemnation of The Three Chapters on the Church had been to conciliate the Monophysites, and to induce them to conform. Hence Gregory's anxiety to shew that what had been done at the fifth did not touch the faith as previously defined.
9 This letter was not delivered to Theodelinda, Epistle XXXVIII. having been afterwards substituted for it. See note 4 under Ep. 2.