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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database

Eusebius Of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, 4.36

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1. Anon., Marytrdom of Polycarp, 9.2, 12.2, 13.1, 16.1, 17.2, 18.1 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

9.2. 2 Therefore when he was brought forward the Pro-Consul asked him if he were Polycarp, and when he admitted it he tried to persuade him to deny, saying: "Respect your age," and so forth, as they are accustomed to say: "Swear by the genius of Caesar, repent, say: `Away with the Atheists'"; but Polycarp, with a stern countece looked on all the crowd of lawless heathen in the arena, and waving his hand at them, he groaned and looked up to heaven and said: "Away with the Atheists. 12.2. 2 When this had been said by the herald, all the multitude of heathen and Jews living in Smyrna cried out with uncontrollable wrath and a loud shout: "This is the teacher of Asia, the father of the Christians, the destroyer of our Gods, who teaches many neither to offer sacrifice nor to worship." And when they said this, they cried out and asked Philip the Asiarch to let loose a lion on Polycarp. But he said he could not legally do this, since he had closed the Sports. 13.1. 1 These things then happened with so great speed, quicker than it takes to tell, and the crowd came together immediately, and prepared wood and faggots from the work-shops and baths and the Jews were extremely zealous, as is their custom, in assisting at this. 16.1. 1 At length the lawless men, seeing that his body could not be consumed by the fire, commanded an executioner to go up and stab him with a dagger, and when he did this, there came out a dove, and much blood, so that the fire was quenched and all the crowd marvelled that there was such a difference between the unbelievers and the elect. 17.2. 2 Therefore he put forward Niketas, the father of Herod, and the brother of Alce, to ask the Governor not to give his body, "Lest," he said, "they leave the crucified one and begin to worship this man." And they said this owing to the suggestions and pressure of the Jews, who also watched when we were going to take it from the fire, for they do not know that we shall not ever be able either to abandon Christ, who suffered for the salvation of those who are being saved in the whole world, the innocent for sinners, or to worship any other. 18.1. 1 When therefore the centurion saw the contentiousness caused by the Jews, he put the body in the midst, as was their custom, and burnt it.
2. Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, 4.15-4.18, 4.22-4.26, 4.29, 8.5 (3rd cent. CE - 4th cent. CE)

3. Eusebius of Caesarea, Life of Constantine, 3.53-3.56 (3rd cent. CE - 4th cent. CE)

3.53. She assures me, then, that the place which takes its name from the oak of Mambre, where we find that Abraham dwelt, is defiled by certain of the slaves of superstition in every possible way. She declares that idols which should be utterly destroyed have been erected on the site of that tree; that an altar is near the spot; and that impure sacrifices are continually performed. Now since it is evident that these practices are equally inconsistent with the character of our times, and unworthy the sanctity of the place itself, I wish your Gravities to be informed that the illustrious Count Acacius, our friend, has received instructions by letter from me, to the effect that every idol which shall be found in the place above-mentioned shall immediately be consigned to the flames; that the altar be utterly demolished; and that if any one, after this our mandate, shall be guilty of impiety of any kind in this place, he shall be visited with condign punishment. The place itself we have directed to be adorned with an unpolluted structure, I mean a church; in order that it may become a fitting place of assembly for holy men. Meantime, should any breach of these our commands occur, it should be made known to our clemency without the least delay by letters from you, that we may direct the person detected to be dealt with, as a transgressor of the law, in the severest manner. For you are not ignorant that the Supreme God first appeared to Abraham, and conversed with him, in that place. There it was that the observance of the Divine law first began; there first the Saviour himself, with the two angels, vouchsafed to Abraham a manifestation of his presence; there God first appeared to men; there he gave promise to Abraham concerning his future seed, and straightway fulfilled that promise; there he foretold that he should be the father of a multitude of nations. For these reasons, it seems to me right that this place should not only be kept pure through your diligence from all defilement, but restored also to its pristine sanctity; that nothing hereafter may be done there except the performance of fitting service to him who is the Almighty God, and our Saviour, and Lord of all. And this service it is incumbent on you to care for with due attention, if your Gravities be willing (and of this I feel confident) to gratify my wishes, which are especially interested in the worship of God. May he preserve you, beloved brethren! 3.54. All these things the emperor diligently performed to the praise of the saving power of Christ, and thus made it his constant aim to glorify his Saviour God. On the other hand he used every means to rebuke the superstitious errors of the heathen. Hence the entrances of their temples in the several cities were left exposed to the weather, being stripped of their doors at his command; the tiling of others was removed, and their roofs destroyed. From others again the venerable statues of brass, of which the superstition of antiquity had boasted for a long series of years, were exposed to view in all the public places of the imperial city: so that here a Pythian, there a Sminthian Apollo, excited the contempt of the beholder: while the Delphic tripods were deposited in the hippodrome and the Muses of Helicon in the palace itself. In short, the city which bore his name was everywhere filled with brazen statues of the most exquisite workmanship, which had been dedicated in every province, and which the deluded victims of superstition had long vainly honored as gods with numberless victims and burnt sacrifices, though now at length they learned to renounce their error, when the emperor held up the very objects of their worship to be the ridicule and sport of all beholders. With regard to those images which were of gold, he dealt with them in a different manner. For as soon as he understood that the ignorant multitudes were inspired with a vain and childish dread of these bugbears of error, wrought in gold and silver, he judged it right to remove these also, like stumbling-stones thrown in the way of men walking in the dark, and henceforward to open a royal road, plain and unobstructed to all. Having formed this resolution, he considered no soldiers or military force of any sort needful for the suppression of the evil: a few of his own friends sufficed for this service, and these he sent by a simple expression of his will to visit each several province. Accordingly, sustained by confidence in the emperor's pious intentions and their own personal devotion to God, they passed through the midst of numberless tribes and nations, abolishing this ancient error in every city and country. They ordered the priests themselves, amidst general laughter and scorn, to bring their gods from their dark recesses to the light of day: they then stripped them of their ornaments, and exhibited to the gaze of all the unsightly reality which had been hidden beneath a painted exterior. Lastly, whatever part of the material appeared valuable they scraped off and melted in the fire to prove its worth, after which they secured and set apart whatever they judged needful for their purpose, leaving to the superstitious worshipers that which was altogether useless, as a memorial of their shame. Meanwhile our admirable prince was himself engaged in a work similar to what we have described. For at the same time that these costly images of the dead were stripped, as we have said, of their precious materials, he also attacked those composed of brass; causing those to be dragged from their places with ropes and as it were carried away captive, whom the dotage of mythology had esteemed as gods. 3.55. The emperor's next care was to kindle, as it were, a brilliant torch, by the light of which he directed his imperial gaze around, to see if any hidden vestiges of error might still exist. And as the keen-sighted eagle in its heavenward flight is able to descry from its lofty height the most distant objects on the earth, so did he, while residing in the imperial palace of his own fair city, discover as from a watchtower a hidden and fatal snare of souls in the province of Phœnicia. This was a grove and temple, not situated in the midst of any city, nor in any public place, as for splendor of effect is generally the case, but apart from the beaten and frequented road, at Aphaca, on part of the summit of Mount Lebanon, and dedicated to the foul demon known by the name of Venus. It was a school of wickedness for all the votaries of impurity, and such as destroyed their bodies with effeminacy. Here men undeserving of the name forgot the dignity of their sex, and propitiated the demon by their effeminate conduct; here too unlawful commerce of women and adulterous intercourse, with other horrible and infamous practices, were perpetrated in this temple as in a place beyond the scope and restraint of law. Meantime these evils remained unchecked by the presence of any observer, since no one of fair character ventured to visit such scenes. These proceedings, however, could not escape the vigilance of our august emperor, who, having himself inspected them with characteristic forethought, and judging that such a temple was unfit for the light of heaven, gave orders that the building with its offerings should be utterly destroyed. Accordingly, in obedience to the imperial command, these engines of an impure superstition were immediately abolished, and the hand of military force was made instrumental in purging the place. And now those who had heretofore lived without restraint learned self-control through the emperor's threat of punishment, as likewise those superstitious Gentiles wise in their own conceit, who now obtained experimental proof of their own folly. 3.56. For since a wide-spread error of these pretenders to wisdom concerned the demon worshipped in Cilicia, whom thousands regarded with reverence as the possessor of saving and healing power, who sometimes appeared to those who passed the night in his temple, sometimes restored the diseased to health, though on the contrary he was a destroyer of souls, who drew his easily deluded worshipers from the true Saviour to involve them in impious error, the emperor, consistently with his practice, and desire to advance the worship of him who is at once a jealous God and the true Saviour, gave directions that this temple also should be razed to the ground. In prompt obedience to this command, a band of soldiers laid this building, the admiration of noble philosophers, prostrate in the dust, together with its unseen inmate, neither demon nor god, but rather a deceiver of souls, who had seduced mankind for so long a time through various ages. And thus he who had promised to others deliverance from misfortune and distress, could find no means for his own security, any more than when, as is told in myth, he was scorched by the lightning's stroke. Our emperor's pious deeds, however, had in them nothing fabulous or feigned; but by virtue of the manifested power of his Saviour, this temple as well as others was so utterly overthrown, that not a vestige of the former follies was left behind.
4. Lactantius, Deaths of The Persecutors, 13 (3rd cent. CE - 4th cent. CE)

5. Socrates Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History, 1.18 (4th cent. CE - 5th cent. CE)

1.18. After this the emperor became increasingly attentive to the interests of the Christians, and abandoned the heathen superstitions. He abolished the combats of the gladiators, and set up his own statues in the temples. And as the heathens affirmed that it was Serapis who brought up the Nile for the purpose of irrigating Egypt, because a cubit was usually carried into his temple, he directed Alexander to transfer the cubit to the church. And although they predicted that the Nile would not overflow because of the displeasure of Serapis, nevertheless there was an inundation in the following year and afterwards, taking place regularly: thus it was proved by fact that the rising of the Nile was not in consequence of their superstition, but by reason of the decrees of Providence. About the same time those barbarians the Sarmatians and Goths made incursions on the Roman territory; yet the emperor's earnestness respecting the churches was by no means abated, but he made suitable provision for both these matters. Placing his confidence in the Christian banner, he completely vanquished his enemies, so as even to cast off the tribute of gold which preceding emperors were accustomed to pay the barbarians: while they themselves, being terror-struck at the unexpectedness of their defeat, then for the first time embraced the Christian religion, by means of which Constantine had been protected. Again he built other churches, one of which was erected near the Oak of Mamre, under which the Sacred Oracles declare that Abraham entertained angels. For the emperor having been informed that altars had been reared under that oak, and that pagan sacrifices were offered upon them, censured by letter Eusebius bishop of C sarea, and ordered that the altars should be demolished, and a house of prayer erected beside the oak. He also directed that another church should be constructed in Heliopolis in Phœnicia, for this reason. Who originally legislated for the inhabitants of Heliopolis I am unable to state, but his character and morals may be judged of from the [practice of that] city; for the laws of the country ordered the women among them to be common, and therefore the children born there were of doubtful descent, so that there was no distinction of fathers and their offspring. Their virgins also were presented for prostitution to the strangers who resorted there. The emperor hastened to correct this evil which had long prevailed among them. And passing a solemn law of chastity, he removed the shameful evil and provided for the mutual recognition of families. And having built churches there, he took care that a bishop and sacred clergy should be ordained. Thus he reformed the corrupt manners of the people of Heliopolis. He likewise demolished the temple of Venus at Aphaca on Mount Libanus, and abolished the infamous deeds which were there celebrated. Why need I describe his expulsion of the Pythonic demon from Cilicia, by commanding the mansion in which he was lurking to be razed from its foundations? So great indeed was the emperor's devotion to Christianity, that when he was about to enter on a war with Persia, he prepared a tabernacle formed of embroidered linen on the model of a church, just as Moses had done in the wilderness; Exodus xxxv.-xl and this so constructed as to be adapted to conveyance from place to place, in order that he might have a house of prayer even in the most desert regions. But the war was not at that time carried on, being prevented through dread of the emperor. It would, I conceive, be out of place here to describe the emperor's diligence in rebuilding cities and converting many villages into cities; as for example Drepanum, to which he gave his mother's name, and Constantia in Palestine, so called from his sister. For my task is not to enumerate of the emperor's actions, but simply such as are connected with Christianity, and especially those which relate to the churches. Wherefore I leave to others more competent to detail such matters, the emperor's glorious achievements, inasmuch as they belong to a different subject, and require a distinct treatise. But I myself should have been silent, if the Church had remained undisturbed by divisions: for where the subject does not supply matter for relation, there is no necessity for a narrator. Since however subtle and vain disputation has confused and at the same time scattered the apostolic faith of Christianity, I thought it desirable to record these things, in order that the transactions of the churches might not be lost in obscurity. For accurate information on these points procures celebrity among the many, and at the same time renders him who is acquainted with them more secure from error, and instructs him not to be carried away by any empty sound of sophistical argumentation which he may chance to hear.

Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
afterlife Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 31
apostolic fathers, generally Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 520
bishop Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 31
body Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 31
converts, conversion Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 31
fate Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 31
great persecution Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 31
martyrdom and book-burning Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 31
polycarp, martyrdom' Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 520
unity of the church Rohmann, Christianity, Book-Burning and Censorship in Late Antiquity (2016) 31