|« Prev||Gregory Nazianzen||Next »|
§ 166. Gregory Nazianzen.
I. S. Gregorius Theologus, vulgo Nazianzenus: Opera omnia, Gr. et Lat. opera et studio monachorum S. Benedicti e congreg. S. Mauri (Clemencet). Paris, 1778, tom. i. (containing his orations). This magnificent edition (one of the finest of the Maurian editions of the fathers) was interrupted by the French Revolution, but afterwards resumed, and with a second volume (after papers left by the Maurians) completed by A. B. Caillau, Par. l837–’40, 2 vols. fol. Reprinted in Migne’s Patrolog. Graec. (tom. 35–38), Petit-Montrouge, 1857, in 4 vols. (on the separate editions of his Orationes and Carmina, see Brunet, Man. du libraire, tom. ii. 1728 sq.)
II. Biographical notices in Gregory’s Epistles and Poems, in Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, Rufinus, and Suidas (s. v. Γρηγόριος). Gregorius Presbyter (of uncertain origin, perhaps of Cappadocia in the tenth century): Βίος τοῦ Γρηγορίου(Greek and Latin in Migne’s ed. of the Opera, tom. i. 243–304). G. Hermant: La vie de S. Basile le Grand et celle de S. Gregoire de Nazianz. Par. 1679, 2 vols. Acta Sanctorum, tom. ii. Maji, p. 373 sqq. Bened. Editores: Vita Greg. ex iis potissimum scriptis adornata (in Migne’s ed. tom. i. pp. 147–242). Tillemont: Mémoires, tom. ix. pp. 305–560, 692–731. Le Clerc: Bibliothèque Universelle, tom. xviii. pp. 1–128. W. Cave: Lives of the Fathers, vol. iii. pp. 1–90 (ed. Oxf. 1840). Schröckh: Part xiii. pp. 275–466. Carl Ullmann: Gregorius von Nazianz, der Theologe. Ein Beitrag zur Kirchen- und Dogmengeschichte des 4ten Jahrhunderts. Darmstadt, 1825. (One of the best historical monographs by a theologian of kindred spirit.) Comp. also the articles of Hefele in Wetzer und Welte’s Kirchenlexikon, vol. iv. 736 ff., and Gass in Herzog’s Encykl. vol. v. 349.
Gregory Nazianzen, or Gregory the Theologian, is the third in the Cappadocian triad; inferior to his bosom friend Basil as a church ruler, and to his namesake of Nyssa as a speculative thinker, but superior to both as an orator. With them he exhibits the flower of Greek theology in close union with the Nicene faith, and was one of the champions of orthodoxy, though with a mind open to free speculation. His life, with its alternations of high station, monastic seclusion, love of severe studies, enthusiasm for poetry, nature, and friendship, possesses a romantic charm. He was “by inclination and fortune tossed between the silence of a contemplative life and the tumult of church administration, unsatisfied with either, neither a thinker nor a poet, but, according to his youthful desire, an orator, who, though often bombastic and dry, labored as powerfully for the victory of orthodoxy as for true practical Christianity.”19561956 So K. Haseadmirably characterizes him, in his Lehrbuch, p. 138 (7th ed.). The judgment of Gibbon(Decline and Fall, ch. xxii.) is characteristic: “The title of Saint has been added to his name: but the tenderness of his heart, and the elegance of his genius, reflect a more pleasing lustre on the memory of Gregory Nazianzen.” The praise of “the tenderness of his heart” suggests to the skeptical historian another fling at the ancient church, by adding the note: “I can only be understood to mean, that such was his natural temper when it was not hardened, or inflamed, by religious zeal. From his retirement, he exhorts Nectarius to prosecute the heretics of Constantinople.”
Gregory Nazianzen was born about 330, a year before the emperor Julian, either at Nazianzum, a market-town in the south-western part of Cappadocia, where his father was bishop, or in the neighboring village of Arianzus.19571957 Respecting the time and place of his birth, views are divided. According to Suidas, Gregory was over ninety years old, and therefore, since he died in 389 or 390, must have been born about the year 800. This statement was accepted by Pagi and other Roman divines, to remove the scandal of his canonized father’s having begotten children after he became bishop; but it is irreconcilable with the fact that Gregory, according to his own testimony (Carmen de vita sua, v. 112 and 238, and Orat. v. c. 23), studied in Athens at the same time with Julianthe Apostate, therefore in 355, and left Athens at the age of thirty years. Comp. Tillemont, tom. ix. pp. 693-697; Schröckh, Part xiii. p. 276, and the admirable monograph of Ullmann, p. 548 sqq. (of which I have made special use in this section).
In the formation of his religious character his mother Nonna, one of the noblest Christian women of antiquity, exerted a deep and wholesome influence. By her prayers and her holy life she brought about the conversion of her husband from the sect of the Hypsistarians, who, without positive faith, worshipped simply a supreme being; and she consecrated her son, as Hannah consecrated Samuel, even before his birth; to the service of God. “She was,” as Gregory describes her, “a wife according to the mind of Solomon; in all things subject to her husband according to the laws of marriage, not ashamed to be his teacher and his leader in true religion. She solved the difficult problem of uniting a higher culture, especially in knowledge of divine things and strict exercise of devotion, with the practical care of her household. If she was active in her house, she seemed to know nothing of the exercises of religion; if she occupied herself with God and his worship, she seemed to be a stranger to every earthly occupation: she was whole in everything. Experiences had instilled into her unbounded confidence in the effects of believing prayer; therefore she was most diligent in supplications, and by prayer overcame even the deepest feelings of grief over her own and others’ sufferings. She had by this means attained such control over her spirit, that in every sorrow she encountered, she never uttered a plaintive tone before she had thanked God.” He especially celebrates also her extraordinary liberality and self-denying love for the poor and the sick. But it seems to be not in perfect harmony with this, that he relates of her: “Towards heathen women she was so intolerant, that she never offered her mouth or hand to them in salutation.19581958 Against the express injunction of love for enemies, Hatt. v. 44 ff. The command of 2 John v. 10, 11, which might be quoted in justification of Nonna, refers not to pagans, but to anti-Christian heretics. She ate no salt with those who came from the unhallowed altars of idols. Pagan temples she did not look at, much less would she have stepped upon their ground; and she was as far from visiting the theatre.” Of course her piety moved entirely in the spirit of that time, bore the stamp of ascetic legalism rather than of evangelical freedom, and adhered rigidly to certain outward forms. Significant also is her great reverence for sacred things. “She did not venture to turn her back upon the holy table, or to spit upon the floor of the church.” Her death was worthy of a holy life. At a great age, in the church which her husband had built almost entirely with his own means, she died, holding fast with one hand to the altar and raising the other imploringly to heaven, with the words: “Be gracious to me, O Christ, my King!” Amidst universal sorrow, especially among the widows and orphans whose comfort and help she had been, she was laid to rest by the side of her husband near the graves of the martyrs. Her affectionate son says in one of the poems in which he extols her piety and her blessed end: “Bewail, O mortals, the mortal race; but when one dies, like Nonna, praying, then weep I not.”
Gregory was early instructed in the Holy Scriptures and in the rudiments of science. He soon conceived a special predilection for the study of oratory, and through the influence of his mother, strengthened by a dream,19591959 There appeared to him two veiled virgins, of unearthly beauty, who called themselves Purity and Chastity, companions of Jesus Christ, and friends of those who renounced all earthly connections for the sake of leading a perfectly divine life. After exhorting the youth to join himself to them in spirit, they rose again to heaven. Carmen iv. v. 205-285. he determined on the celibate life, that he might devote himself without distraction to the kingdom of God. Like the other church teachers of this period, he also gave this condition the preference, and extolled it in orations and poems, though without denying the usefulness and divine appointment of marriage. His father, and his friend Gregory of Nyssa were among the few bishops who lived in wedlock.
From his native town he went for his further education to Caesarea in Cappadocia, where he probably already made a preliminary acquaintance with Basil; then to Caesarea in Palestine, where there were at that time celebrated schools of eloquence; thence to Alexandria, where his revered Athanasius wore the supreme dignity of the church; and finally to Athens, which still maintained its ancient renown as the seat of Grecian science and art. Upon the voyage thither he survived a fearful storm, which threw him into the greatest mental anguish, especially because, though educated a Christian, he, according to a not unusual custom of that time, had not yet received holy baptism, which was to him the condition of salvation. His deliverance he ascribed partly to the intercession of his parents, who had intimation of his peril by presentiments and dreams, and he took it as a second consecration to the spiritual office.
In Athens be formed or strengthened the bond of that beautiful Christian friendship with Basil, of which we have already spoken in the life of Basil. They were, as Gregory says, as it were only one soul animating two bodies. He became acquainted also with the prince Julian, who was at that time studying there, but felt wholly repelled by him, and said of him with prophetic foresight: “What evil is the Roman empire here educating for itself!”19601960 Οἷον κακὸν ἡ Ῥωμαίων τρέφει. He was afterwards a bitter antagonist of Julian, and wrote two invective discourses against him after his death, which are inspired, however, more by the fire of passion than by pure enthusiasm for Christianity, and which were intended to expose him to universal ignominy as a horrible monument of enmity to Christianity and of the retributive judgment of God.19611961 These Invectivae, or λόγοιστηλιτευτικοί, are, according to the old order, the 3d and 4th, according to the new the 4th and 5th, of Gregory’s Orations, tom. i. pp. 78-176, of the Benedictine edition.
Friends wished him to settle in Athens as a teacher of eloquence, but he left there in his thirtieth year, and returned through Constantinople, where he took with him his brother Caesarius, a distinguished physician,19621962 To this Caesarius, who was afterwards physician in ordinary to the emperor in Constantinople, many, following Photius, ascribe the still extant collection of theological and philosophical questions, Dialogi iv sive Quaestiones Theol. et philos. 145; but without sufficient ground. Comp. Fabricius, Bibl. Gr. viii. p. 435. He was a true Christian, but was not baptized till shortly before his death in 368. His mother Nonna followed the funeral procession in the white raiment of festive joy. He was afterwards, like his brother Gregory, his sister Gorgonia, and his mother, received into the number of the saints of the Catholic church. to his native city and his parents’ house. At this time his baptism took place. With his whole soul he now threw himself into a strict ascetic life. He renounced innocent enjoyments, even to music, because they flatter the senses. “His food was bread and salt, his drink water, his bed the bare ground, his garment of coarse, rough cloth. Labor filled the day; praying, singing, and holy contemplation, a great part of the night. His earlier life, which was anything but loose, only not so very strict, seemed to him reprehensible; his former laughing now cost him many tears. Silence and quiet meditation were law and pleasure to him.”19631963 Ullmann, l. c. p. 50. Nothing but love to his parents restrained him from entire seclusion, and induced him, contrary to talent and inclination, to assist his father in the management of his household and his property.
But he soon followed his powerful bent toward the contemplative life of solitude, and spent a short time with Basil in a quiet district of Pontus in prayer, spiritual contemplations, and manual labors. “Who will transport me,” he afterwards wrote to his friend concerning this visit,19641964 Epist. ix. p. 774, of the old order, or Ep. vi. of the new (ed. Bened. ii. p. 6). “back to those former days, in which I revelled with thee in privations? For voluntary poverty is after all far more honorable than enforced enjoyment. Who will give me back those songs and vigils? who, those risings to God in prayer, that unearthly, incorporeal life, that fellowship and that spiritual harmony of brothers raised by thee to a God-like life? who, the ardent searching of the Holy Scriptures, and the light which, under the guidance of the Spirit, we found therein?” Then he mentions the lesser enjoyments of the beauties of surrounding nature.
On a visit to his parents’ house, Gregory against his will, and even without his previous knowledge, was ordained presbyter by his father before the assembled congregation on a feast day of the year 361. Such forced elections and ordinations, though very offensive to our taste, were at that time frequent, especially upon the urgent wish of the people, whose voice in many instances proved to be indeed the voice of God. Basil also, and Augustine, were ordained presbyters, Athanasius and Ambrose bishops, against their will. Gregory fled soon after, it is true, to his friend in Pontus, but out of regard to his aged parents and the pressing call of the church, he returned to Nazianzum towards Easter in 362, and delivered his first pulpit discourse, in which he justified himself in his conduct, and said: “It has its advantage to hold back a little from the call of God, as Moses, and after him Jeremiah, did on account of their age; but it has also its advantage to come forward readily, when God calls, like Aaron and Isaiah; provided both be done with a devout spirit, the one on account of inherent weakness, the other in reliance upon the strength of him who calls.” His enemies accused him of haughty contempt of the priestly office; but he gave as the most important reason of his flight, that he did not consider himself worthy to preside over a flock, and to undertake the care of immortal souls, especially in such stormy times.
Basil, who, as metropolitan, to strengthen the
catholic interest against Arianism, set about the establishment of new
bishoprics in the small towns of Cappadocia, intrusted to his young
friend one such charge in Sasima, a poor market town at the junction of
three highways, destitute of water, verdure, and society, frequented
only by rude wagoners, and at the time an apple of discord between him
and his opponent, the bishop Anthimus of Tyana. A very strange way of
showing friendship, unjustifiable even by the supposition that Basil
wished to exercise the humility and self-denial of Gregory.19651965 Gibbon (ch. xxvii.) very unjustly attributes
this action of Basil to hierarchical pride and to an intention to
insult Gregory. Basil treated his own brother not much better; for
Nyssa was likewise an insignificant place. No wonder that, though a
bishopric in itself was of no account to Gregory, this act deeply
wounded his sense of honor, and produced a temporary alienation between
him and Basil.19661966 Gregory gave to the pangs of injured friendship
a touching expression in the following lines from the poem on his own
Life (De vita sua, vss. 476 sqq. tom. ii. p. 699, of the Bened.ed., or
tom. iii. 1062, in Migne’s ed.):
Τοιαῦτ̓ Ἀθῆναι, καὶ πόνοι κοινο λόγων,
̔ομΌογετσ́ς ιακ ετ̀ ενυσ́οιτσs ιβ́ος,
Νοῦs εις ̓εν ̓αμφοῖν, οὖ δύω, θυᾶμ̓ Ἑλλάδος,
Καὶ δεξιαὶ, κόσμον μὲν ὡς πόῤῥω βαλεῖν,
Αὐτοὺς δὲ κοινὸν τῷθεῷ ζῆσαι βίον,
Λόγους τε δοῦναι τῷ μόνῳ σοφῷ Λόγῳ.
Διεσκέδασται πάντα, ῎εῤῥιπται χαμαὶ,
Αὖραι φέπουσι τὰς παλαιὰςελπίδας.
“Talia Athenae, et communia studia,
Ejusdem texti et mensae consors vita,
Mena una, non duae in ambobus, res mira Graeciae,
Dataeque dexterae, mundum ut procul rejiceremus,
Deoque simul viveremus,
Et literas soli sapienti Verbo dedicaremus.
Dissipata haec sunt omnia, et humi projects,
Venti auferunt spes nostras antiquas.”
Gibbon (ch. xxvii.) quotes this passage with admiration, though with characteristic omission of vss. 479-481, which refer to their harmony in religion; and he aptly alludes to a parallel from Shakespeare, who had never read the poems of Gregory Nazianzen, but who gave to similar feelings a similar expression, in the Midsummer Night’s Dream, where Helena utters the same pathetic complaint to her friend Hermia:
“Is all the counsel that we two have shared,
The sister’s vows,” &e. At the combined request of his friend and his aged father, he suffered himself indeed to be consecrated to the new office; but it is very doubtful whether he ever went to Sasima.19671967 Gibbon says: “He solemnly protests, that he never consummated his spiritual marriage with this disgusting bride.” At all events we soon afterwards find him in his solitude, and then again, in 372, assistant of his father in Nazianzum. In a remarkable discourse delivered in the presence of his father in 372, he represented to the congregation his peculiar fluctuation between an innate love of the contemplative life of seclusion and the call of the Spirit to public labor.
“Come to my help,” said he to his hearers,19681968 Orat. xii. 4; tom. i. 249 sq. (in Migne’s ed. tom. i. p. 847). “for I am almost torn asunder by my inward longing and by the Spirit. The longing urges me to flight, to solitude in the mountains, to quietude of soul and body, to withdrawal of spirit from all sensuous things, and to retirement into myself, that I may commune undisturbed with God, and be wholly penetrated by the rays of His Spirit .... But the other, the Spirit, would lead me into the midst of life, to serve the common weal, and by furthering others to further myself, to spread light, and to present to God a people for His possession, a holy people, a royal priesthood (Tit. ii. 14; 1 Pet. ii. 9), and His image again purified in many. For as a whole garden is more than a plant, and the whole heaven with all its beauties is more glorious than a star, and the whole body more excellent than one member, so also before God the whole well-instructed church is better than one well-ordered person, and a man must in general look not only on his own things, but also on the things of others. So Christ did, who, though He might have remained in His own dignity and divine glory, not only humbled Himself to the form of a servant, but also, despising all shame, endured the death of the cross, that by His suffering He might blot out sin, and by His death destroy death.”
Thus he stood a faithful helper by the side of his venerable and universally beloved father, who reached the age of almost an hundred years, and had exercised the priestly office for forty-five; and on the death of his father, in 374, he delivered a masterly funeral oration, which Basil attended.19691969 Orat. xviii. Ἐπιτάφιος εἰς τὸν πατέρα, παρόντος Βασιλείου (ed. Bened. tom. i. pp. 330-362; in Migne’s ed. i. 981 sqq.). “There is,” said he in this discourse, turning to his still living mother, “only one life, to behold the (divine) life; there is only one death—sin; for this is the corruption of the soul. But all else, for the sake of which many exert themselves, is a dream which decoys us from the true; it is a treacherous phantom of the soul. When we think so, O my mother, then we shall not boast of life, nor dread death. For whatsoever evil we yet endure, if we press out of it to true life, if we, delivered from every change, from every vortex, from all satiety, from all vassalage to evil, shall there be with eternal, no longer changeable things, as small lights circling around the great.”
A short time after he had been invested with the vacant bishopric, he retired again, in 375, to his beloved solitude, and this time be went to Seleucia in Isauria, to the vicinity of a church dedicated to St. Thecla.
There the painful intelligence reached him of the death of his beloved Basil, a.d. 379. On this occasion be wrote to Basil’s brother, Gregory of Nyssa: “Thus also was it reserved for me still in this unhappy life to hear of the death of Basil and the departure of this holy soul, which is gone out from us, only to go in to the Lord, after having already prepared itself for this through its whole life.” He was at that time bodily and mentally very much depressed. In a letter to the rhetorician Eudoxius he wrote: “You ask, how it fares with me. Very badly. I no longer have Basil; I no longer have Caesarius; my spiritual brother, and my bodily brother. I can say with David, my father and my mother have forsaken me. My body is sickly, age is coming over my head, cares become more and more complicated, duties overwhelm me, friends are unfaithful, the church is without capable pastors, good declines, evil stalks naked. The ship is going in the night, a light nowhere, Christ asleep. What is to be done? O, there is to me but one escape from this evil case: death. But the hereafter would be terrible to me, if I had to judge of it by the present state.”
But Providence had appointed him yet a great work and in exalted position in the Eastern capital of the empire. In the year 379 he was called to the pastoral charge by the orthodox church in Constantinople, which, under the oppressive reign of Arianism, was reduced to a feeble handful; and he was exhorted by several worthy bishops to accept the call. He made his appearance unexpectedly. With his insignificant form bowed by disease, his miserable dress, and his simple, secluded mode of life, he at first entirely disappointed the splendor-loving people of the capital, and was much mocked and persecuted.19701970 Once the Arian populace even stormed his church by night, desecrated the altar, mixed the holy wine with blood, and Gregory but barely escaped the fury of common women and monks, who were armed with clubs and stones. The next day he was summoned before the court for the tumult, but so happily defended himself, that the occurrence heightened the triumph of his just cause. Probably from this circumstance he afterwards received the honorary title of confessor. See Ullmann, p. 176. But in spite of all he succeeded, by his powerful eloquence and faithful labor, in building up the little church in faith and in Christian life, and helped the Nicene doctrine again to victory. In memory of this success his little domestic chapel was afterwards changed into a magnificent church, and named Anastasia, the Church of the Resurrection.
People of all classes crowded to his discourses, which were mainly devoted to the vindication of the Godhead of Christ and to the Trinity, and at the same time earnestly inculcated a holy walk befitting the true faith. Even the famous Jerome, at that time already fifty years old, came from Syria to Constantinople to hear these discourses, and took private instruction of Gregory in the interpretation of Scripture. He gratefully calls him his preceptor and catechist.
The victory of the Nicene faith, which Gregory had thus inwardly promoted in the imperial city, was outwardly completed by the celebrated edict of the new emperor Theodosius, in February, 380. When the emperor, on the 24th of December of that year, entered Constantinople, he deposed the Arian bishop, Demophilus, with all his clergy, and transferred the cathedral church19711971 Not the church of St. Sophia, as Tillemont assumes, but the church of the Apostles, as Ullmann, p. 223, supposes; for Gregory never names the former, but mentions the latter repeatedly, and that as the church in which he himself preached. Constantinebuilt both, but made the church of the Apostles the more magnificent, and chose it for his own burial place (Euseb. Vita Const. iv. 58-60); St. Sophia afterwards became under Justinian the most glorious monument of the later Greek architecture, and the cathedral of Constantinople. to Gregory with the words: “This temple God by our hand intrusts to thee as a reward for thy pains.” The people tumultuously demanded him for bishop, but he decidedly refused. And in fact he was not yet released from his bishopric of Nazianzum or Sasima (though upon the latter he had never formally entered); he could be released only by a synod.
When Theodosius, for the formal settlement of the theological controversies, called the renowned ecumenical council in May, 381, Gregory was elected by this council itself bishop of Constantinople, and, amidst great festivities, was inducted into the office. In virtue of this dignity he held for a time the presidency of the council.
When the Egyptian and Macedonian bishops arrived, they disputed the validity of his election, because, according to the fifteenth canon of the council of Nice, he could not be transferred from his bishopric of Sasima to another; though their real reason was, that the election had been made without them, and that Gregory would probably be distasteful to them as a bold preacher of righteousness. This deeply wounded him. He was soon disgusted, too, with the operations of party passions in the council, and resigned with the following remarkable declaration:
“Whatever this assembly may hereafter determine concerning me, I would fain raise your mind beforehand to something far higher: I pray you now, be one, and join yourselves in love! Must we always be only derided as infallible, and be animated only by one thing, the spirit of strife? Give each other the hand fraternally. But I will be a second Jonah. I will give myself for the salvation of our ship (the church), though I am innocent of the storm. Let the lot fall upon me, and cast me into the sea. A hospitable fish of the deep will receive me. This shall be the beginning of your harmony. I reluctantly ascended the episcopal chair, and gladly I now come down. Even my weak body advises me this. One debt only have I to pay: death; this I owe to God. But, O my Trinity! for Thy sake only am I sad. Shalt Thou have an able man, bold and zealous to vindicate Thee? Farewell, and remember my labors and my pains.”
In the celebrated valedictory which be delivered before the assembled bishops, he gives account of his administration; depicts the former humiliation and the present triumph of the Nicene faith in Constantinople, and his own part in this great change, for which he begs repose as his only reward; exhorts his hearers to harmony and love; and then takes leave of Constantinople and in particular of his beloved church, with this address:
“And now, farewell, my Anastasia, who bearest a so holy name; thou hast exalted again our faith, which once was despised; thou, our common field of victory, thou new Shiloh, where we first established again the ark of the covenant, after it had been carried about for forty years on our wandering in the wilderness.”
Though this voluntary resignation of so high a post proceeded in part from sensitiveness and irritation, it is still an honorable testimony to the character of Gregory in contrast with the many clergy of his time who shrank from no intrigues and by-ways to get possession of such dignities. He left Constantinople in June, 381, and spent the remaining years of his life mostly in solitude on his paternal estate of Arianzus in the vicinity of Nazianzum, in religious exercises and literary pursuits. Yet he continued to operate through numerous epistles upon the affairs of the church, and took active interest in the welfare and sufferings of the men around him. The nearer death approached, the more he endeavored to prepare himself for it by contemplation and rigid ascetic practice, that he “might be, and might more and more become, in truth a pure mirror of God and of divine things; might already in hope enjoy the treasures of the future world; might walk with the angels; might already forsake the earth, while yet walking upon it; and might be transported into higher regions by the Spirit.” In his poems he describes himself, living solitary in the clefts of the rocks among the beasts, going about without shoes, content with one rough garment, and sleeping upon the ground covered with a sack. He died in 390 or 391; the particular circumstances of his death being now unknown. His bones were afterwards brought to Constantinople; and they are now shown at Rome and Venice.
Among the works of Gregory stand pre-eminent his five Theological Orations in defence of the Nicene doctrine against the Eunomians and Macedonians, which he delivered in Constantinople, and which won for him the honorary title of the Theologian (in the narrower sense, i.e., vindicator of the deity of the Logos).19721972 Hence called also λόγοι θεολογικοί, Orationes theologicae. They are Orat. xxvii.-xxxi. in the Bened. ed. tom. i. pp. 487-577 (in Migne, tom. ii. 9 sqq.), and in the Bibliotheca Patrum Graec. dogmatica of Thilo, vol. ii. pp. 366-537. His other orations (forty-five in all) are devoted to the memory of distinguished martyrs, friends, and kindred, to the ecclesiastical festivals, and to public events or his own fortunes. Two of them are bitter attacks on Julian after his death.19731973 Invectivae, Orat. iv. et v. in the Bened. ed. tom. i. 73-176 (in Migne’s ed. tom. i. pp. 531-722). His horror of Julianmisled him even to eulogize the Arian emperor Constantius, to whom his brother was physician. They are not founded on particular texts, and have no strictly logical order and connection.
He is the greatest orator of the Greek church, with the exception perhaps of Chrysostom; but his oratory often degenerates into arts of persuasion, and is full of labored ornamentation and rhetorical extravagances, which are in the spirit of his age, but in violation of healthful, natural taste.
As a poet he holds a subordinate, though respectable place. He wrote poetry only in his later life, and wrote it not from native impulse, as the bird sings among the branches, but in the strain of moral reflection, upon his own life, or upon doctrinal and moral themes. Many of his orations are poetical, many of his poems are prosaic. Not one of his odes or hymns passed into use in the church. Yet some of his smaller pieces, apothegms, epigrams, and epitaphs, are very beautiful, and betray noble affections, deep feeling, and a high order of talent and cultivation.19741974 His poems fill together with the Epistles the whole second tome of the magnificent Benedictine edition, so delightful to handle, which was published at Paris, 1842 (edente et curante D. A. B. Caillau), and vols. iii. and iv. of Migne’s reprint. They are divided by the Bened. editor into: I. Poëmata theologica (dogmatica, moralia); II. historica (a. autobiographical, quae spectant ipsum Gregorium, περὶ ἑαυτοῦ, De seipso; and b. περὶ τῶν ἑτέρων, quae spectant alios); III. epitaphia; IV. epigrammata; and V. a long tragedy, Christus patiens, with Christ, the Holy Virgin, Joseph, Theologus, Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, Nuntius, and Pilate as actors. This is the first attempt at a Christian drama. The order of the poems, as well as the Orations and Epistles, differs in the Benedictine from that of the older editions. See the comparative table in tom. ii. p. xv. sqq. One of the finest passages in his poems is his lamentation over the temporary suspension of his friendship with Basil, quoted above, p. 914.
We have, finally, two hundred and forty-two (or 244) Epistles from Gregory, which are important to the history of the time, and in some cases very graceful and interesting.
|« Prev||Gregory Nazianzen||Next »|