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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

EUTROPIUS, a reader, was required to name the persons who had set fire to the church; but although he was scourged severely, although his sides and cheeks were torn with iron nails, and although lighted torches were applied to the most sensitive parts of his body, no confession could be extorted from him, notwithstanding his youth and delicacy of constitution. After having been subjected to these tortures, he was cast into a dungeon, where he soon afterwards expired.

A dream of Sisinius concerning Eutropius seems worthy of insertion in this history. Sisinius, the bishop of the Novatians, saw in his sleep a man tall of stature and handsome in person standing near the altar of the church which the Novatians erected to the honour of Stephen, the proto-martyr; the man complained of the rarity of goodness among men, and said that he had been searching throughout the city, and had found but one who was good, and that one was Eutropius. Astonished at what he had seen, Sisinius made known the dream to the most faithful of the presbyters of his church, and commanded him to seek Eutropius, wherever he might be. The presbyter rightly conjectured that this Eutropius could be no other than he who had been so barbarously tortured by the prefect, and went from prison to prison in quest of him. At length lie found him, and made known to him the dream of the bishop, and besought him with tears to pray for him. Such are the details we possess concerning Eutropius.

Great fortitude was evinced in the midst of these calamities by Olympiade, the deaconess. Being dragged before the tribunal, and interrogated by the prefect as to her motives in setting fire to the church, she replied, “My past life ought to avert all suspicion from me, for I have devoted my large property to the reconstruction and embellishment of the temples of God.” The prefect alleged that he was well acquainted with her past course of life. “Then,” continued she, “you ought to appear as our accuser instead of sitting as our judge.” As the accusation against her was wholly unsubstantiated by proofs, and as the prefect found that he had no ground on which he could justly blame her, he adopted another tone, and as if desirous of advising her, represented to her and the other ladies, that it was absurd in them to secede from communion with their bishop, and thereby to entail trouble upon themselves. They all deferred to the advice of the prefect with the exception of Olympiade, who said to him, “It is not just that, after having been publicly calumniated, without having had anything proved against me, I should be obliged to clear myself of charges totally unconnected with the accusation in question. Let me rather take counsel concerning the original accusation that has been preferred against me. For even if you resort to unlawful compulsion, I will not hold communion with those from whom I ought to secede, nor consent to any thing that is contrary to the principles of piety.” The prefect, finding that he could not prevail upon her to hold communion with Arsacius, dismissed her that she might consult the advocates. On another occasion, however, he again sent for her and condemned her to pay a heavy fine, for he imagined that by this means she would be compelled to change her mind. But she totally disregarded the loss of her property, and quitted Constantinople for Cyzicus. Tigris, a presbyter, was about the same period stripped of his clothes, scourged on the back, bound hand and foot, and stretched on the rack. He was a foreigner, and a eunuch, but not by birth. He was originally a slave in the house of a man of rank, and on account of his faithful services had obtained his freedom. He was afterwards ordained as presbyter, and was distinguished by his moderation and meekness of disposition, and by his charity towards strangers and the poor. Such were the events which took place in Constantinople.

Siricius died after having governed the church of Rome fifteen years. Anastasius held the same bishopric three years, and then died, and was succeeded by Innocent. Flavian, who refused to consent to the deposition of John, was also dead, and Porphyry, being appointed to succeed him in the bishopric of Antioch, signed the condemnation of John. Many seceded on this account from communion with him, and hence a cruel persecution was commenced against them in Syria. Those who were in power at court procured a law in favour of Arsacius, Porphyry, and Theophilus bishop of Alexandria, by which it was enacted that the orthodox were to assemble together in churches only, and that if they seceded from communion with the above mentioned bishops, they were to be exiled.








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