To the most glorious and serene Emperor Theodosius. Leo the bishop.
I. He complains of the conduct of Dioscorus at the Council of Ephesus. Already and from the beginning, in the synods which have been held, we have received such freedom of speech from the most holy Peter, chief of the Apostles, as to have the power both to maintain the Truth in the cause of peace, and to allow no one to disturb it in its firm position, but at once to repel the mischief, Since then the council of bishops which you ordered to be held in the city of Ephesus on account of Flavian, does mischief to the Faith itself and inflicts wounds on all the churches-hyperlink ; and this has been brought to our knowledge not by some untrustworthy messenger, but by the most reverend bishopshyperlink themselves who were sent by us and by the most trusty Hilarus our deacon, who have narrated to us what took place. And the occurrences are to be put down to the fault of those who met, not having, as is customary, with a pure conscience and right judgment made a definite statement about the faith and those who erred therefrom. For we have learnt that all did not come together in the conference who ought, some being ejected and others received: who were ensnared into an ungodly act of subscription by the designs of the aforesaid priesthyperlink . For the declaration effected by him is of such a nature as to injure all the churches. For when those who were sent by us saw how exceedingly impious and hostile to the Faith it was, they notified it to us.
II. He Asks Him to Restore the Ancient Catholic Doctrine.
Wherefore, most peace-loving prince, vouchsafe for the Faith's sake to avert this danger from your Godly conscience, and let not man's presumption use violence upon Christ's Gospel In my sincere desire, which is shared by the bishops that are with me, that you, most Christian and revered prince, should before all things please God, tO whom the prayers of the whole Church are poured with one accord for your empire, I give you counsel, for fear lest, if we keep silence on so great a matter, we incur punishment before the tribunal of Christ. I entreat you therefore before the undivided Trinity of the one Godhead, which is injured by these evil doings, and which is the guardian of your kingdom, and before Christ's holy angels that all things remain intact as they were before the judgment, and that they await the weightier decision of the Synod at which the whole number of the bishops in the whole world is gathered together: and do not allow yourselves to bear the weight of others' misdoing. We are constrained to say this plainly by the fear of a constraining necessityhyperlink . But keep before your eyes the blessed Peter's glory, and the crowns which all the Apostles have in common with him, and the joys of the martyrs who had no other incentive to suffering but the confession of the true Godhead and the perfect continuance in Christhyperlink .
III. And Asks Far Another Synod to Be Summoned.
And now that this confession is being God lessly impugned by some few men, all the churches of our parts and all the priests implore your clemency with tears in accordance with the request which Flavian makes in his appeal, to command the assembling together of a special Synod in Italy, in order that all opposition may be expelled or pacified, and that there may be no deviation from or ambiguity in the Faith: and to it should also come the bishops of all the Eastern provinces, that, if any have wandered out of the way of Truth, they may be recalled to their allegiance by wholesome remedies, and they who are under a more grievous charge may either be reduced to submission by counsel or cut off from the one Church. So that we are bound to preserve both what the Nicene canon enjoins and what the definitions of the bishops of the whole world enjoin according to the custom of the catholic Church, and also (to maintain) the freedom of our fathers' Faith, on which your tranquillity rests. For we pray that when those who harm the Church are driven out, and your provinces enjoy the possession of justice, anti vengeance has been executed on these heretics your royal power also may be defended by Christ's right hand.
1 No satisfactory conclusion can be reached about this letter as it has come down to us, the Ballerinii not thinking that the Latin version extant is the original on which the Gk.version is based. On the whole I have thought it safer to make my translation chiefly from the Gk., though I am not at all sure that there is sufficient ground for the Balerinii's suspicion of the Latin.
2 A lacuna is here visible in the sense though not in the mss.
3 The Gk. and the Lat. both read plural here e0 p i j k o/ p w n (episcopis) which the Ballerinii alter to the singular. As far as we know, Julius was the only bishop in the party, but the greater includes the less.
4 Viz., Dioscorus. who must have been mentioned in the lacuna above, if anywhere.
5 The old Lat. version has here something very different quia quad necesse est nos dicere, veremur ne cuius religio dissipatur, indignatio provocetur (for we are bound to say we fear lest He whose religion is being undermined, should have His wrath aroused).
6 h9 e0n Cistw= telei/a diamonh/ : here again the Latin Version diverges; reading veroe humanitatis (sc. confessio ) in Christo . So too the next sentence begins with cui sacramento , instead of the Gk. hj= tinoj o9mologi/aj , and elsewhere.
Letter XLIV. To Theodosius Augustus.
Leo, the bishop, and the holy Synod which is assembled at Rome to Theodosius Augustus.
I. He Exposes the Unscrupulous Nature of the Proceedings at Ephesus.
From your clemency's letter,' which in your love of the catholic Faith you sent sometime ago to the see of the blessed Apostle Peter, we drew such confidence in your defence of truth and peace that we thought nothing harmful could happen in so plain and well-ordered a matter; especially when those who were sent to the episcopal council, which you ordered to be held at Ephesus, were so fully instructed that, if the bishop of Alexandria had allowed the letters, which they brought either to the holy synod or to Flavian the bishop, to be read in the ears of the bishops, by the declaration of the most pure Faith, which being Divinely inspired we both have received and hold, all noise of disputings would have been so completely hushed thatneither ignorance could any longer disport itself, nor jealousy find occasion to do mischief. But because private interests are consulted under cover of religion, the disloyalty of a few has wrought that which must wound the whole Church. For not from some untrustworthy messenger, but from a most faithful narrator of the things which have been done, Hilary, our deacon, who, lest he should be compelled by force to subscribe to their proceedings, with great difficulty made his escape, we have learnt that a great many priests came together at the synod, whose numbers would doubtless have assisted the debate and decision, if he who claimed for himself the chief place had consented to maintain priestly moderation, in order that, according to custom, when all had freely expressed their opinion, after quiet and fair deliberation, that might be ordained which was both agreeable to the Faith and helpful to those in error. But we have been told that all who had come were not present at the actual decision: for we have learnt that some were rejected while others were admitted, who at the aforesaid priest's requisition surrendered themselves to an unrighteous subscription, knowing they would suffer harm unless they obeyed his commands, and that such a resolution was brought forward by him that in attacking one man he might wreak his fury of the whole Church. Which our delegates from the Apostolic See saw to be so blasphemous and opposed to the catholic Faith that no pressure could force them to assent; for in the same synod they stoutly protested, as they ought, that the Apostolic See would never receive what was being passed: since the whole mystery of the Christian Faith is absolutely destroyed (which Heaven forfend in your Grace's reign), unless this abominable wickedness, which exceeds all former blasphemies, be abolished.
II. And Entreats the Emperor to Help in Reversing Their Decision.
But because the devil with wicked subtlety deceives the unwary, and so mocks the imprudence of some by a show of piety as to persuade them to things harmful instead of profitable, we pray your Grace, renounce all complicity in this endangering of religion and Faith, and afford in the treatment of Divine things that which is granted in worldly matters by the equity of your laws, that human presumption may not do violence to Christ's Gospel. Behold, I, O most Christian and honoured Emperor, with my fellow-priestshyperlink fulfilling towards your revered clemency the offices of sincere love, and desiring you in all things to please God, to whom prayers are offered for you by the Church, lest before the Lord Christ's tribunal we be judged guilty for our silence,-we beseech you in the presence of the Undivided Trinity of the One Godhead, Whom such an act wrongs (for He is Himself the Guardian and the Author of your empire), and in the presence of Christ's holy angels, order everything to be in the position in which they were before the decision until a larger number of priests be assembled from the whole world. Suffer not yourself to be weighted with another's sin because (and we must say it) we are afraid lest He, Whose religion is being destroyed, be provoked to wrath. Keep before your eyes, and with all your mental vision gaze reverently upon the blessed Peter's glory, and the crowns which all the Apostles have in common with him and the palms of all the martyrs, who had no other reason for suffering than the confession of the true Godhead and the true Manhood in Christ.
III. He Asks for a Council in Italy.
And because this mystery is now being impiously opposed by a few ignorant persons, all the churches of our parts, and all the priests entreat your clemency, with groans and tears seeing that our delegates faithfully protested, and bishop Flavian gave them an appeal in writing, to order a general synod to be held in Italy, which shall either dismiss or appease all disputes in such a way that there be nothing any longer either doubtful in the Faith or divided in love, and to it, of course, the bishops of the Eastern provinces must come, and if any of them were overcome by threats and injury, and deviated from the path of truth, they may be fully restored by health-giving measures, and they themselves, whose case is harder, if they acquiesce in wiser counsels, may not fall from the unity of the Church. And how necessary this request is after the lodging of an appeal is witnessed by the canonical decrees passed at Nicaea by the bishops of the whole world, which are added belowhyperlink . Show favour to the catholics after your own and your parents' custom. Give us such liberty to defend the catholic Faith as no violence, no fear of the world, while your revered clemency is safe, shall be able to take away. For it is the cause not only of the Church but of your Kingdom and prosperity that we plead, that you may enjoy the peaceful sway of your provinces. Defend the Church in unshaken peace against the heretics, that your empire also may be defended by Christ's right hand. Dated the 13th of October, in the consulship of the illustrious Asturius and Protogenes (449).
1 Cum consacerdotibus meis . The Gk. version here reads the singular (meta\ tou= sulleitourgou= mou). This, if intentional and not a slip, is, I suppose, Flavian, of whose death Leo was not yet apprized.
2 Both Quesnel and the Ball. agree that the Canon here quoted by Leo really belongs not to the Nicene collection, but to that of Sardica (about 344), In which it stands as no. 4. (Exactly the same mistake is made in Letter LVI., where Galla Placidia Augusta quotes Canon 5 of Sardica to Theodosius as secundum definitiones Nicoeni councilii ). Cf: Gore's Leo, pp. 113, 114. The wording of this fourth Canon is as follows: "Gaudentius, the bishop said, If it please you to add to this admirable declaration which you have passed, I propose that whensoever one bishop has been deposed by the judgment of other bishops, and appeals for his case to be heard in Civitas Novorum ,the other bishop cannot by any means be considered confirmed in the same See after the appeal of the one who appears to be deposed, until he receive tbe decision of the judges there." In applying this to the present case, Leo no doubt proposed to substitute Urbs Roma for Civitas Novorum , though this was hardly the same thing.
Letter XLV. To Pulcheria Augusta.
Leo, the bishop, and the holy Synod which is assembled in the City of Rome to Pulcheria Augusta.
I. He Sends a Copy of the Former Letter Which Failed to Reach Her.
If the letters respecting the Faith which were despatched to your Grace by the hands of our clergy had reached you, it is certain you would have been able, the Lord helping you, to provide a remedy for these things which have been done against the Faith. For when have you failed either the priests or the religion or the Faith of Christ? But when those who were sent were so completely hindered from reaching your clemency that only one of them, namely Hilary our deacon, with difficulty fled and returned, we thought it necessary to rewrite our letter: and that our prayers may deserve to receive more weight, we have subjoined a copy of the very document which did not reach your clemency, entreating you even more earnestly than before to take under protection that religion in which you excel which will win you the greater glory in proportion to the heinousness of the crimes against which your royal faith requires you to proceed, lest the integrity of the Christian Faith be violated by any plot of man's devising. For the things which were believed to require setting at rest and healing by the meeting of a Synod at Ephesus, have not only resulted in still greater disturbances of peace but, which is the more to be regretted, even in the overthrow of the very Faith whereby we are Christians.II. He also sends a copy of his letter to the Emperor and explains its contents.
And they indeed, who were sent, and one of whom, escaping the violence of the bishop of Alexandria who claims everything for himself, faithfully reported to us what took place in the Synod, opposed, as it became them, what I will call the frenzy not the judgment of one man, protesting that those things which were being carried through by violence and fear could not reverse the mysteries of the Church and the Creed itself composed by the Apostles, and that no injuries could sever them from that Faith which they had brought fully set forth and expounded from the See of the blessed Apostle Peter to the holy synod. And since this statement was not allowed to be read out at the bishop's request, in order forsooth that by the rejection of that Faith which has crowned patriarchs, prophets, apostles and martyrs, the birth according to the flesh of Jesus Christ our Lord and the confession of His true Death and Resurrection (we shudder to say it) might be overthrown, we have writtenhyperlink on this matter according to our ability, to our most glorious and (what is far greater) our Christian Prince, and at the same time have subjoined a copy of the letter to you to the end that he may not allow the Faith, in which he was re-born and reigns through God's grace, to be corrupted by any innovation, since Bishop Flavian continues in communion with us all, and that which has been done without regard to justice and contrary to all the teaching of the canons can, under no consideration, be held valid. And because the Synod of Ephesus has not removed but increased the scandal of disagreement (I have asked him) to appoint a place and time for holding a council within Italy, all quarrels and prejudices on both sides being suspended, that everything which has engendered offence may be the more diligently reconsidered and without wounding the Faith, without injuring religion those priests may return into the peace of Christ, who through irresolution were forced to subscribe, and only their errors be re moved.
III. He Asks Her to Assist His Petition with the Emperor.
And that we may be worthy to obtain this, let your well-tried faith and protection, which has always helped the Church in her labours, deign to advance our petition with our most clement Prince, under a special commission so to act from the blessed Apostle Peter; so that before this civil and destructive war gains strength within the Church, he may grant opportunity of restoring unity by God's aid, knowing that the strength of his empire will be increased by every extension of catholic freedom that his kindly will affects.
Dated 13th of October in the consulship of the illustrious Asturius and Protogenes (449).
1 This is, of course, Letter XLIV.
Letter XLVI. From Hilary, Then Deacon (Afterwards Bishop of Rome) to Pulcheria Augusta.
(Describing his ill-treatment, as Leo's delegate, by Dioscorus.)
Letter XLVII. To Anastasius, Bishop of Thessalonica.
(Congratulating him on being present at the synod of Ephesus)
Letter XLVIII. To Julian, Bishop of Cos.
(Consoling him after the riots at Ephesus and exhorting him to stand firm.)
Letter XLIX. To Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople
(Whose death he is unaware of, promising him all the support in his power.)
Letter L. To the People of Constantinople, by the Hand of Epiphanius and Dionysius, Notary of the Church of Rome.
(Exhorting them to stand firm and consoling them for Flavian's deposition.)
Letter LI. To Faustus and Other Presbyters and Archimandrites in Constantinople.
(With the same purport as the last.)
Letter LII. From Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus, to Leo. (See Vol. III. Of This Series, P. 293.)
To Leo, bishop of Rome.
I. If Paul Appealed to Peter How Much More Must Ordinary Folk Have Recourse to His Successor.
If Paul, the herald of the Truth, the trumpet of the Holy Ghost, had recourse to the great Peter, in order to obtain a decision from him for those at Antioch who were disputing about living by the Law, much more do we small and humble folk run to the Apostolic See to get healing from you for the sores of the churches. For it is fitting that you should in all things have the pre-eminence, seeing that your See possesses many peculiar privileges. For other cities get a name for size or beauty or population, and some that are devoid of these advantages are compensated by certain spiritual gifts: but your city has the fullest abundance of good things from the Giver of all good. For she is of all cities the greatest and most famous, the mistress of the world and teeming with population. And besides this she has created an empire which is still predominant and has imposed her own name upon her subjects. But her chief decoration is her Faith, to which the Divine Apostle is a sure witness when he exclaims "your faith is proclaimed in all the worldhyperlink ;" and if immediately after receiving the seeds of the saving Gospel she bore such a weight of wondrous fruit, what words are sufficient to express the piety which is now found in her? She has, too, the tombs of our common fathers and teachers of the Truth, Peter and Paulhyperlink , to illumine the souls of the faithful. And this blessed and divine pair arose indeed in the East, and shed its rays in all directions, but voluntarily underwent the sunset of life in the West, from whence now it illumines the whole world. These have rendered your See so glorious: this is the chief of all your goods. And their See is still blest by the light of their God's presence, seeing that therein He has placed your Holiness to shed abroad the rays of the one true Faith.
II. He Commends Leo's Zeal Against the Manichees, and Latterly Against Entychianism, as Evidenced Especially in the Tome.
Of which thing indeed, though there are many other proofs to be found, your zeal against the ill-famed Manichaeans is proof enough, that zeal which your holiness has of late years displayedhyperlink , thereby revealing the intensity of your devotion to God in things Divine. Proof enough, too, of your Apostolic character is what you have now written. For we have met with what your holiness has written about the Incarnation of our God and Saviour, and have admired the careful diligence of the workhyperlink . For it has proved both points equally well, viz., the Eternal Godhead of the Only-begotten of the Eternal Father, and at the same time His manhood of the seed of Abraham and David, and His assumption of a nature in all things like ours, except in this one thing, that He remained free from all sin: for sin is engendered not of nature, but of free willhyperlink . This also was contained in your letter, that the only-begotten Son of God is One and His Godhead impassible, irreversible, unchangeable even as the Father who begat Him and the All-holy Spirit. And since the Divine nature could not suffer, He took the nature that could suffer to this end, that by the suffering of His own Flesh He might give exemption from suffering to those that believed on Him. These points, and all that is akin thereto, the letter contained. And we, admiring your spiritual wisdom, extolled the grace of the Holy Ghost which spoke through and ask and pray, and beg and beseech your holiness to come to the rescue of the churches of God that are now tempest tossed.
III. He Complains of Dioscorus' ILL-Treatment of Himself
For when we expected a stilling of the waves through those who were sent to Ephesus from your holiness, we have fallen into yet worse storm. For the most righteoushyperlink prelate of Alexandria was not satisfied with the illegal and most unrighteous deposition of the Lord's most holy and God-loving bishop of Constantinople, Flavian, nor was his wrath appeased by the slaughter of the other bishops likewise. But me, too, he murdered with his pen in my absence, without calling me to judgment, without passing judgment on me in person, without questioning me on what I hold about the Incarnation of our God and Saviour. But even murderers, tomb-breakers, and ravishers of other men's beds, those who sit in judgment do not condemn until they either themselves corroborate the accusations by their confessions, or are clearly convicted by others. But us, when five and thirty days' journey distant, he, though brought up on Divine laws, has condemned at his will. And not now only has he done this, but also last year, after that two persons infected with the Apollinarian disorder had come hither and laid false information against us, he rose up in church and anathematized us, and that when I had written to him and expressed what I hold in a letter.
IV. This ILL-Treatment Has Come After 20 Years' Good Work in His Diocese of Cyrus.
I bemoan the distress of the Church and yearn after its peace. For having ruled through your prayers the church committed to me by the God of the universe for 20 years, neither in the time of the blessed Theodotus, president of the East, nor in the time of those who have succeeded him in the See of Antioch, have I received the slightest blame, but, the Divine Grace working with me, have freed more than 1,000 souls from the disease of Marcion, and have won over many others from the company of Arius and Eunomius to the Master, Christ. And 800 churches have I had to shepherd: for that is the number of parishes in Cyrus, in which not a single tare through your prayers has lingered. But our flock has been freed from every heretical error. He that sees all things knows how I have been stoned by the ill-famed heretics that have been sent against me, and what struggles I have had in many cities of the East against Greeks, Jews, and every heretical error. And after all these toils and troubles, I have been condemned without a hearing.
V. He Appeals to the Apostolic See with Confidence.
I however await the verdict of your Apostolic See, and beg and pray your Holiness to succour me when I appeal to your upright and just tribunal, and bid me come to you and show that my teaching follows in the track of the Apostles. For there are writings of mine some 20 years ago, some 18, some 15, and some 12, some again against the Arians and Eunomians, some against the Jews and Greeks some against the Magi in Persia, some also about the universal Providence, Others about the nature of God and about the Divine Incarnation. I have interpreted, through the Divine grace, both the Apostolic writings and the prophetic utterances, and it is easy therefrom to gather whether I have kept unswervingly the standard of the Faith, or have turned aside from its straight path. And I beg you not to spurn my petition, nor to overlook the insults heaped on my poor white hairs.
VI. Ought He to Acquiesce in His Deposition?
First of all, I beg you to tell me, whether I ought to acquiesce in this unrighteous deposition or not. For I await your verdict and, if you bid me abide by my condemnation, I will abide by it, and will trouble no one hereafter, but await the unerring verdict of our God and Saviour. I indeed, the Master God is my witness, care nought for honour and glory, but only for the stumbling-block that is put in men's way: because many of the simpler folk, and especially those who have been rescued by us from divers heresies, will give credence to those who have condemned us, and perchance reckon us heretics, not being able to discern the exact truth of the dogma, and because, after my long episcopate, I have acquired neither house, nor land, nor obol, nor tomb, only a voluntary poverty, having straightway distributed even what came to me from my fathers after their death, as all know who live in the East.
VII. Being Prevented Himself, He Has Sent Delegates to Plead His Cause.
And before all things I entreat you, holy and God-loved brother, render assistance to my prayers. These things I have brought to your Holiness' knowledge, by the most religious and God-beloved presbyters, Hypatius and Abramius the chorepiscopihyperlink , and Alypius, superintendenthyperlink of the monks in our district: seeing that I was hindered from coming to you myself by the Emperor's restraining letter, and likewise the others. And I entreat your holiness both to look on them with fatherly regard, and to lend them your ears in sincere kindness, and also to deem my slandered and falsely attacked position worthy of your protection, and above all to defend with all your might the Faith that is now plotted against, and to keep the heritage of the fathers intact for the churches, so shall your holiness receive from the Bountiful Master a full reward. (Date about the end of 449.)
1 Rom. i. 8.
2 It is sufficient here to quote Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. ii. 25) as one of the earliest (before 340)maintainers of this tradition. In this passage he again quotes Gaius of Rome (3rd cent.) and Dionysius, of Corinth ( 2nd cent.) as corroborative authorities. Eusebius's own words are tbese: "Paul is recorded to have been beheaded in Rome itself, and Peter likewise to have been impaled. And this statement is supported by their names, which remain to tbis day inscribed in the cemeteries there."
3 Viz., in 444: cf. Letter VII. supra, together with the Emperor's decree (Lett. VIII.).
4 This is, of course, the Tome (Lett. XXVIII. )
5 Here `nature
0' must mean `man's original nature before the Fall,
0' when it was still in the image of Him who so created it, to which nature Christ's manhood was a triumphant return. Otherwise it's hard to see how Theodoret escapes the pitfall of Pelagianism.
6 The epithet is shown by the context to be bitterly sarcastic.
7 Chorepi copi (country bishops) were a kind of suffragan bishop to assist the town bishops in the remoter parts of their diocese. They continued in use from the end of the 3rd till the 9th century, when they were abolished.