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A History Of The Church In Six Books by Evagrius

DURING the reign of Severus at Rome, Marcian exchanges his earthly sovereignty by a removal to a happier state, having reigned only seven years, but leaving behind him a truly royal monument in the memories of mankind. On learning this event, the people of Alexandria renewed their feud against Proterius with still greater exasperation and excessive heat: for the populace in general are an inflammable material, and allow very trivial pretexts to foment the flame of commotion, and not in the least degree that of Alexandria, which presumes on its numbers, chiefly an obscure and promiscuous rabble, and vaunts forth its impulses with excessive audacity. Accordingly, it is said that every one who is so disposed may, by employing any casual circumstance as a means of excitement, inspire the city with a frenzy of sedition, and hurry the populace in whatever direction and against whomsoever he chooses. Their general humour, however, is even of a sportive kind, as Herodotus records to have been the case with Amasis. Such, then, is the character of this people; who were, however, in all other respects by no means contemptible.

The people of Alexandria, accordingly, taking advantage of the prolonged absence of Dionysius, commander of the legions, in Upper Egypt, decree the elevation to the highest priestly grade, of Timotheus, surnamed Ælurus, who had formerly followed the monastic life, but had subsequently been admitted among the presbyters of the church of Alexandria; and, conducting him to the great church, styled that of Cæsar, elect him their bishop, though Proterius was still alive and discharged the functions of his office. There were present at the election, Eusebius, president of the church of Pelusium, and Peter the Iberian, bishop of the town of Majumas, according to the account given of the transaction by the writer of the life of Peter, who also says that Proterius was not killed by the populace, but by one of the soldiers. When Dionysius, on account of the urgency of these disorders, had occupied the city with the utmost dispatch, and was taking prompt measures to quench the towering conflagration of the sedition, some of the Alexandrians, at the instigation of Timotheus, according to the written report made to Leo, despatch Proterius when he appeared, by thrusting a sword through his bowels, after he had fled for refuge to the holy baptistery. Suspending the body by a cord, they displayed it to the public in the quarter called Tetrapylum, jeering and vociferating that the victim was Proterius; and, after dragging it through the whole city, committed it to the flames; not even refraining themselves from tasting his intestines, like beasts of prey, according to the account of the entire transaction contained in the petition addressed by the Egyptian bishops and the whole clergy of Alexandria to Leo, who, as has been said, was invested with the imperial power on the death of Marcian. It was couched in the following terms:—“To the pious, Christ-loving, and divinely-appointed, the victorious and triumphant Augustus Leo, the petition of all the bishops of your Egyptian diocese, and the clergy of your most dignified and holy church of Alexandria. Having been granted, by divine grace, a boon to mankind, as such you cease not to exercise, next to God, a daily providence of the common weal, Augustus, most sacred of all emperors.” After some other matters, the petition proceeds: “And while undisturbed peace was prevailing among the orthodox people of our country and Alexandria, Timotheus, immediately after the holy synod at Chaleedon, being at that time a presbyter, severed himself from the Catholic church and faith, together with only four or five bishops and a few monks, of those who, as well as himself, were infected with the heretical errors of Apollinaris and his followers; on account of which opinions they were then deposed by Proterius, of divine memory, and the general synod of Egypt, and duly experienced the motion of the imperial will, in the sentence of banishment.” And afterwards it proceeds: “And having watched the opportunity afforded by the departure from this world to God of the emperor Marcian, of sacred memory, assuming then in blasphemous terms a bold tone of independence, and shamelessly anathematising the holy and general synod at Chaleedon, while he drew after him a mercenary and disorderly multitude, and assailed the divine canons and ecclesiastical order, the commonwealth and the laws, he intruded himself upon the holy church of God, which at that time was possessed of a pastor and teacher in the person of our most holy father and archbishop, Proterius, duly performing the ordinary rites, and offering up to Christ, the Saviour of us all, supplications in behalf of your pious sovereignty and your Christ-loving court.” And presently it proceeds: “And after the interval of only one day, while Proterius, beloved of God, was occupying, as usual, the episcopal residence, Timotheus, taking with him the two bishops who had been justly deposed, and the clergy who, as we have said, were condemned to banishment with them, as if he had received rightful ordination at the hands of the two, though not one of the orthodox bishops of the whole Egyptian diocese was present, as is customary on occasion of the ordinations of the bishop of the church of Alexandria—he possesses himself, as he presumed, of the archiepiscopal see, though manifestly guilty of an adulterous outrage on the church, as already having her rightful spouse in one who was performing the divine offices in her, and canonically occupied his proper throne.” And further on: “The blessed man could do nothing else than give place to wrath, according to what is written, and take refuge in the venerable baptistery from the assault of those who were pursuing him to death, a place which especially inspires awe even into barbarians and savages, though ignorant of its dignity, and the grace which flows from it. Notwithstanding, however, those who were eager to carry into execution the design which Timotheus had from the first conceived, and who could not endure that his life should be protected by those undefiled precincts, neither reverenced the dignity of the place, nor yet the season (for it was the solemnity of the saving paschal feast), nor were awe-struck at the priestly office which mediates between God and man; but put the blameless man to death, cruelly butchering him with six others. They then drew forth his body, covered with wounds, and having dragged it in horrid procession with unfeeling mockery through almost every part of the city, ruthlessly loaded the senseless corpse with indignity, so far as to tear it limb from limb, and not even abstain from tasting, like beasts of prey, the flesh of him whom but just before they were supposed to have as a mediator between God and man. They then committed what remained of the body to the flames, and scattered the ashes to the winds, exceeding the utmost ferocity of wild beasts. Of all these transactions Timotheus was the guilty cause, and the skilful builder of the scheme of mischief.” Zacharias, however, while treating at length of these events, is of opinion that the greater part of the circumstances thus detailed actually occurred, but through the fault of Proterius, by his instigation of serious disturbances in the city, and that these outrages were committed, not by the populace, but by some of the soldiery; grounding his opinion on a letter addressed by Timotheus to Leo. In consequence, however, of these proceedings, Stilas is sent out by the emperor to chastise them.








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