Posted by: ken98 | January 14, 2010

Imperial Flip-Flops, Murder Most Foul, and Roman Railroads

Day 125 – Ken here (Th)(1-14-2010)
(DEF v.2, ch.21, pp.790-800)

The Story
 
Constantine Flip Flops

  • Newly converted, Constantine is zealous to settle his new religion – so Constantine calls the Synod of Nicaea (Nice in Turkey), and asks 300 bishops to debate the issue within his own palace. Constantine is persuaded to support the Tritheists and orders the instant arrest and banishment of any followers of Arius. All the bishops comply but one (325)
  • Constantine perseucutes the Arians (325-328)
  • Constantine repents (due to his sister’s influence?) and reinstates the Arians. The 3 principal leaders of the Tritheists (those who would be called Orthodox Catholic in centuries to come) Athanasius of Alexandria, Eusebius of Antioch, and Paul of Constantinople are stripped of their powers, deposed, and banished by various Synods of the Church
  • Constantine persecutes the Tritheists (328-337)
  • and Constantine is baptized moments before his death by the Arian bishop of Nicomedia (337)
  •  
    Constantius backs the Arians

  • Constantius favors the Arians (337-361)
  • of course, the emperor Julian loved the controversy between opposing sects of Christianity and encouraged both – recognizing both as equals (as well as paganism)
  • Constantius calls Synod after Synod, Council after Council to reconcile the Arians and Tritheists (see Ammianus remarks below)
  • Constantius imposes his own solution – he says the Son is IN THE LIKENESS of the Father, without defining whether each is of the same substance (trying to neatly evade the whole HOMOI / HOMO OUSION controversy)and orders it to be so(360)
  •  
    The Long Story of Athanasius (part 1)

  • Born into the family of Alexander (the original bishop who got the Bishopric (Alexandria) that Arius refused, and so rabidly anti-Arius
  • Athanasius elected to ArchBishopric of Alexandria, stayed for 46 years, was 5 times removed, and spent 20 years in exile
  • Not as learned as Eusebius of Caeserea, or as good a speaker as Gregory or Basil – he was diligient and fanatically supported/was supported by the 100 bishops of the Egyptian Church
  • Athanasius resisted Constantine (refused to restore Arius) (330)
  • Athanasius is accused of sacrilege and murder by the Arians (the Egyptian/African Church was a hornets nest of political maneuvering)
  • He appears at the Council of Tyre (335), seems to defend himself, but in the end is banished by imperial wish and synodal decree
  • Where Arius died - Constantines Forum in Constantinople with Porphyry Column at center - Arius went behind some bushes in back of the forum  to answer the call of nature and suddenly (and conveniently) hemorrhaged to death - (this reconstruction of the Constantinople from www.arkeo3d.com - byzantium1200)

    Where Arius died - Constantines Forum in Constantinople with Porphyry Column at center - Arius went behind some bushes in back of the forum to answer the call of nature and suddenly (and conveniently) hemorrhaged to death - (this reconstruction of Constantinople from http://www.arkeo3d.com - byzantium1200)

     
    The Strange Death of Arius – Murder or Miracle?

    Arius was at first driven from imperial favor by the wrath of Constantine, then, possibly due to Constantine’s sister’s support for Arius, Constantine forced the empire to recognize and honor him in the most public, Roman manner possible. Passions and tensions ran high on both sides of the Arius camp, he was to be re-united (take communion) with the imperial Christian community at the cathedral in Constantinople, then on the eve of his formal reconciliation he died (or was murdered).

    A More Efficacious Contribution than Prayer?

    This from Gibbon:

    But, as if the conduct of the emperor had been guided by passion instead of principle, three years from the council of Nice were scarcely elapsed before he discovered some symptoms of mercy, and even of indulgence, towards the proscribed sect, which was secretly protected by his favourite sister. The exiles were recalled; and Eusebius, who gradually resumed his influence over the mind of Constantine, was restored to the episcopal throne, from which he had been ignominiously degraded. Arius himself was treated by the whole court with the respect which would have been due to an innocent and oppressed man. His faith was approved by the synod of Jerusalem; and the emperor seemed impatient to repair his injustice, by issuing an absolute command that he should be solemnly admitted to the communion in the cathedral of Constantinople. On the same day which had been fixed for the triumph of Arius, he expired; and the strange and horrid circumstances of his death might excite a suspicion that the orthodox saints had contributed more efficaciously than by their prayers to deliver the church from the most formidable of her enemies.

    (DEF v.2, ch.21, p.791)

    and buried safely in the footnote is

    We derive the original story from Athanasius (tom. i. p. 670), who expresses some reluctance to stigmatise the memory of the dead. He might exaggerate; but the perpetual commerce of Alexandria and Constantinople would have rendered it dangerous to invent. Those who press the literal narrative of the death of Arius (his bowels suddenly burst out in a privy) must make their option between poison and miracle.

    (DEF v.2, ch.21, p.791, fn.83)

    and here is the original (from Socrates of Constantinople, writing 70 years after the fact, a contemporary of Theodoret and Sozomen), English translation from here – all of Socrates Ecclesiastical History is translated into English online here.

    Socrates describes:

    It was then Saturday, and . . . going out of the imperial palace, attended by a crowd of Eusebian [Eusebius of Nicomedia is meant] partisans like guards, he [Arius] paraded proudly through the midst of the city, attracting the notice of all the people. As he approached the place called Constantine’s Forum, where the column of porphyry is erected, a terror arising from the remorse of conscience seized Arius, and with the terror a violent relaxation of the bowels: he therefore enquired whether there was a convenient place near, and being directed to the back of Constantine’s Forum, he hastened thither. Soon after a faintness came over him, and together with the evacuations his bowels protruded, followed by a copious hemorrhage, and the descent of the smaller intestines: moreover portions of his spleen and liver were brought off in the effusion of blood, so that he almost immediately died. The scene of this catastrophe still is shown at Constantinople, as I have said, behind the shambles in the colonnade: and by persons going by pointing the finger at the place, there is a perpetual remembrance preserved of this extraordinary kind of death.

     
    Public Transportation Ruined by Christians

    Constantius was determined to find a formula to re-unite the Arian sects (already broken into smaller feuding congregations) and the Arians as a whole to the Tritheists (called Orthodox later). After each summer campaign against the barbarians, Constantius was accustomed to call Synods in his winter camps and elsewhere to further reconcile the 2 branches of Christianity. The bishops attending these congregations were moved about at public expense on the imperial post system.

    This from Gibbon (quoting the historian Ammianus Marcellinus)

    The sentiments of a judicious stranger, who has impartially considered the progress of civil or ecclesiastical discord, are always entitled to our notice: and a short passage of Ammianus, who served in the armies, and studied the character, of Constantius, is perhaps of more value than many pages of theologic invectives. “The Christian religion, which, in itself,” says that moderate historian, “is plain and simple, he confounded by the dotage of superstition. Instead of reconciling the parties by the weight of his authority, he (Constantius) cherished and propagated, by verbal disputes, the differences which his vain curiosity had excited. The highways were covered with troops of bishops galloping from every side to the assemblies, which they call synods; and while they laboured to reduce the whole sect to their own particular opinions, the public establishment of the posts was almost ruined by their hasty and repeated journey.

    (DEF v.2. ch.21, p.794)

    The Cursus Publicus - or Roman Post System - relief showing the wagons carrying passengers - a kind of publicly-funded railroad with the rails

    The Cursus Publicus - or Roman Post System - relief showing the wagons carrying passengers - a kind of publicly-funded railroad without the rails

    The Public Post System – a kind of Roman Railroad without Rails

    The Roman Empire maintained (at public expense) carriage routes for official business travel. Official travel consisted of having the proper passes to board the carriages at their various stops. It was kind of like a private railroad, only using Roman roads and Imperial wagons and horses. Often as favors, persons with power would give out passes to friends and family – giving them free (and safer) travel arrangements in getting across the empire.

    These illustrations from a Dutch site on one Roman road (here)

    Illustration of a wagon of the Cursus Publicus - kind of looks like a primitive subway train car

    Illustration of a wagon of the Cursus Publicus - kind of looks like a primitive subway train car

    Grand Central Station in Ancient Rome - reconstructed sketch of the original center of the Cursus Publicus - carriages coming and going all day long to all points in the empire - this is the Castra Peregrina (Travelers )- of course later on in the empire it would be Constantinople that would be the center point for all journeys in the empire

    Grand Central Station in Ancient Rome - reconstructed sketch of the original center of the Cursus Publicus - carriages would have been coming and going all day long to/from distant points in the empire - this is the Castra Peregrina (Travelers Station)- of course later on in the empire it would be Constantinople that would be the center point for all journeys in the empire

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