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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

ABOUT this time the Jewish inhabitants were driven out of Alexandria by Cyril the bishop on the following account. The Alexandrians are more delighted with tumult than any other people: and if they can find a pretext, they will break forth into the most intolerable excesses; nor is it scarcely possible to check their impetuosity until there has been much bloodshed. It happened on the present occasion that a disturbance arose among the populace, not from a cause of any serious importance, but out of an evil that has become inveterate in almost all cities, viz. a fondness for pantomimic exhibitions. In consequence of the Jews being disengaged from business on the Sabbath, and spending their time, not in hearing the Law, but in theatrical amusements, dancers usually collect great crowds on that day, and disorder is almost invariably produced. And although this was in some degree controlled by the governor of Alexandria, yet the Jews were continually factious; and there was superadded to their ordinary hatred of the Christians, rage against them on account of the dancers. When therefore Orestes the præfect was publishing an edict in the theatre for the regulation of the Shows, some of the bishop’s party were present to learn the nature of the orders about to be issued. Among these was Hierax, a teacher of the rudimental branches of literature; one who was a very assiduous auditor of the bishop’s sermons, and made himself conspicuous by his forward and noisy plaudits. When the Jews observed this person in the theatre, they immediately cried out that he had come there for no other purpose than to excite sedition among the people. Now Orestes had long regarded with jealousy the growing power of the bishops, and their encroachments on the jurisdiction of the civil authorities. Believing therefore that Cyril wished to set spies over his proceedings, he ordered Hierax to be seized, and publicly subjected to the torture in the theatre. Cyril on being informed of this, sent for the principal Jews, and threatened them with the utmost severities, unless they desisted from their molestation of the Christians. These menaces instead of suppressing their violence, only rendered the Jewish populace more furious, and led them to form conspiracies for the destruction of the Christians; one of which was of so desperate a character, as to cause their entire expulsion from Alexandria. Having agreed that each one of them should wear a ring on his finger made of the bark of a palm branch, for the sake of mutual recognition, they determined to attack the Christians on a certain night: and sending persons into the streets to raise an outcry that Alexander’s church was on fire, they thus drew the Christians out in great anxiety to save their church. The Jews immediately fell upon and slew them; readily distinguishing each other by their rings. At day-break the authors of this atrocity could not be concealed: and Cyril going to their synagogues (which is the name they give their house of prayer), attended by an immense body of people, took them away from them, and driving the Jews out of the city, permitted the multitude to plunder their goods. Thus were the Jews who had inhabited the city from the time of Alexander the Macedonian, expelled from it, stripped of all they possessed, and dispersed some in one direction, and some in another. One of them, a physician named Adamantius, fled to Atticus bishop of Constantinople, and professing Christianity, afterwards returned to Alexandria and fixed his residence there. But Orestes the governor of Alexandria viewed these transactions with great indignation, and was excessively annoyed that a city of such magnitude should have been suddenly bereft of so large a portion of its population; he therefore at once communicated the whole affair to the emperor. Cyril also wrote to him, describing the outrageous conduct of the Jews; and in the meanwhile sent persons to Orestes who should mediate concerning a reconciliation: for this the people had urged him to do. And when Orestes refused to listen to a word on the subject, Cyril extended toward him the book of the gospels, believing that respect for religion would induce him to lay aside his resentment. When however even this had no pacific effect on the præfect, but he persisted in implacable hostility against the bishop, the following event afterwards occurred.








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