File(s) not publicly available

E00886: Gregory of Nazianzus composes his Oration 24 in 379/380, which he delivers during a service held on the feast of *Cyprian (bishop and martyr of Carthage, S00411) in Constantinople. The author recounts the saint’s life using a version of the hagiographical legend of *Kyprianos and Ioustina (martyrs of Antioch, S00461). Composed in Greek at Constantinople.

online resource
posted on 24.11.2015, 00:00 by Bryan
Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 24, On Cyprian (CPG 3010.24; BHG 0457)

ΛΟΓΟΣ ΚΔʹ.
Εἰς Κυπριανὸν

1. Μικροῦ Κυπριανὸς διέφυγεν ἡμᾶς· ὢ τῆς ζημίας! καὶ ὑμεῖς ἠνέσχεσθε, οἱ πάντων μᾶλλον τὸν ἄνδρα θαυμάζοντες, καὶ ταῖς δι’ ἔτους τιμῶντες ἐκεῖνον τιμαῖς τε καὶ πανηγύρεσι Κυπριανὸν, οὗ, καὶ τοῖς τἄλλα ἐπιλήσμοσι, μεμνῆσθαι τῶν ἀναγκαίων εἴπερ τῶν ἀρίστων μάλιστα μνημονευτέον καὶ ὧν τὸ μεμνῆσθαι ὅσιόν τε ὁμοῦ καὶ ὠφέλιμον. (……)


‘Oration 24, On Kyprianos

1. We nearly missed Kyprianos! What a loss! And you allowed it to pass, though you admire the man more than anyone and honour him by memorials and gatherings every year: Kyprianos who needs to be remembered even by those inclined to forget everything else! We should indeed specially honour the memory of the greatest of men, and their commemoration is both the right thing to do and beneficial (……)’


Gregory has just returned from a journey and expresses his joy at seeing his congregation again. He was particularly concerned not to miss the martyr’s feast and expresses his gratitude for being able to attend it:

3. (...) Δεύτερον δέ, ὃ καὶ μέγιστον, τὸ μὴ κατόπιν ἑορτῆς δραμεῖν, μηδὲ μαρτύρων μυσταγωγίας ἀπολειφθῆναι, καὶ τῆς ἐντεῦθεν ἐγγινομένης ἡμῖν τρυφῆς τε καὶ ἀναψύξεως. (………) 4. Πᾶσι μὲν δὴ μάρτυσι πανηγυριστέον καὶ πᾶσιν ἀνοικτέον ἑτοίμως καὶ γλῶσσαν καὶ ἀκοὴν καὶ διάνοιαν καὶ λέγοντάς τι προθύμως περὶ αὐτῶν καὶ ἀκούοντας καὶ πάντα ἐλάττω νομίζοντας τῆς ἐκείνων ἀθλήσεως. Καὶ γὰρ οὕτως ἔχει, πολλῶν ὄντων ἡμῖν εἰς ὁδηγίαν τοῦ κρείττονος καὶ πολλῶν τῶν πρὸς ἀρετὴν παιδευμάτων, λόγου, νόμου, προφητῶν, ἀποστόλων, αὐτῶν τῶν Χριστοῦ παθημάτων, τοῦ πρώτου μάρτυρος (……)· τοσούτων ὄντων ἡμῖν καὶ τοιούτων, οὐδὲν ἔλαττον ἡμῖν εἰς παιδαγωγίαν οἱ μάρτυρες, ὁλοκαυτώματα λογικὰ, θύματα τέλεια, προσφοραὶ δεκταὶ, τῆς ἀληθείας κηρύγματα, τοῦ ψεύδους στηλιτεύματα, νόμου συμπλήρωσις, τοῦ γε πνευματικῶς νοουμένου, πλάνης κατάλυσις, κακίας διωγμὸς, ἁμαρτίας κατακλυσμὸς, κόσμου καθάρσιον. 5. Σὺ δέ μοι, Κυπριανὲ, τὸ τιμιώτατόν μοι καὶ πρᾶγμα καὶ ὄνομα, πλέον ἢ κατὰ τοὺς ἄλλους μάρτυρας – φθόνος γὰρ οὐδεὶς παρὰ μαρτύρων μάρτυσιν – καὶ σοῦ διαφερόντως ἥττημαί τε τῆς ἀρετῆς, καὶ τῇ μνήμῃ κουφίζομαι, καὶ ὥσπερ ἔνθους ὑφ’ ἡδονῆς γίνομαι καί τινα τρόπον σύνειμί τε τῇ μαρτυρίᾳ καὶ κοινωνῶ τῆς ἀθλήσεως καὶ ὅλος πρὸς σὲ μετανίσταμαι (……) 6. Οὗτος Κυπριανὸς, ὦ ἄνδρες – ἵνα οἱ μὲν εἰδότες ἡδίους γένησθε τῇ ὑπομνήσει, οἱ δ’ ἀγνοοῦντες μάθητε τὸ κάλλιστον τῶν ἡμετέρων διηγημάτων, καὶ τὴν κοινὴν Χριστιανῶν φιλοτιμίαν –, οὗτος ἐκεῖνος, τὸ μέγα ποτὲ Καρχηδονίων ὄνομα, νῦν δὲ τῆς οἰκουμένης ἁπάσης (……)

‘3. (…) And the second reason, which is the most important one, is that we have not arrived too late for the feast, nor have we missed the service for the martyrs (μαρτύρων μυσταγωγία/martyrōn mystagōgia) and the joy and exhilaration it fills us with (……). 4. We should hold festival for every martyr and readily keep our mouths and ears and thoughts open for all of them, by talking about them, hearing about them, and regarding everything as inferior to their feats. It is indeed so, even though there are many things to guide us towards betterment and many things to instruct us in virtue: the Word, the Law, the Prophets, the Apostles, the very passion of Christ, the first martyr (……). Even though we have so many and such good stories, no less do we have for our edification the martyrs, these spiritual sacrifices, perfect victims, acceptable offerings, proclamations of the truth, denunciations of falsehood, fulfilment of the Law in its spiritual sense, abolition of error, persecution of evil, inundation of sin, purification of the world! 5. I have you, Kyprianos, my most precious subject and title, above the other martyrs - after all, there is no jealousy among martyrs! I am completely taken over by your virtue and elated by your memory, and get, as it were, into a trance of pleasure: I am somehow present at your martyrdom, participating in your struggle, and am totally transferred to you (……). This is Kyprianos, gentlemen: those of you who are already familiar with him, rejoice even more in his reminder; those who are not, hear the finest of our stories, which is the pride of all Christians! This is he, once the great name of the Carthaginians, now of the whole world (…)’

Gregory continues with a long account of Kyprianos’ life, martyrdom and miracles. (6) Kyprianos is an important young man of senatorial rank, distinguished by his good looks and great erudition. (7.) He has left many written works. (8.) Gregory does not hesitate to talk of Kyprianos’ life prior to his conversion, when he was a magician. (9.) There is a virgin of noble birth, great beauty and admirable virtue, and Kyprianos falls in love with her. (10.) He employs demons in order to seduce her, performing sacrifices and libations. As she realises the threat, she resorts to prayer to Christ and (11.) to the Virgin Mary, fasting and sleeping on the floor (see $E00887). The devil is defeated and returns to the sorcerer Kyprianos, admitting his defeat. Kyprianos derides him, but the devil possesses him. (12.) Kyprianos resorts to Christ and is liberated. His repentance is initially faced with disbelief and rejected by the bishop, until he publicly burns his books of magic and joins the church. Out of humility, he initially serves as a verger, and later is ordained. He becomes a famous bishop not only for Carthage, but for the entire world. (13.) He rises to great spiritual perfection, living a life of poverty and asceticism, and excels in teaching accurately the Christian doctrines. He writes on moral, dogmatic and biographical subjects, and on the Trinity. (14.) Decius conducts a ferocious persecution against Christians, and seeks out Kyprianos, so that the most eloquent teacher of the Church may be silenced. Kyprianos defends himself, and is exiled. However, he is not content with being safe, but is worried about the community he leaves under persecution. (15.) He, therefore, writes letters of exhortation, which encourage many to suffer martyrdom, by advising them to ignore every worldly good for the sake of salvation. (16.) After having trained many martyrs by his letters, Kyprianos becomes a martyr himself, being decapitated by the sword. (17.) Although his name becomes famous both among Christians and their enemies, the whereabouts of his body remains unknown for a long time. It is kept secret by a pious woman, until God reveals it miraculously to another woman. The keeper of the relic willingly gives it up (see $E00966). (18.) Gregory calls upon his audience to take up the praise of the martyrs, by recounting miracles they have experienced themselves. Miraculous exorcisms, healings and prophecies by the power of Kyprianos’s dust are reported by Gregory’s source (see $E00887). The people must undertake a superior way of honouring the martyr by imitating his virtue and example, because Kyprianos’s story contains edifying elements for everyone, i.e. virgins, women, youths, the elderly, officials, leaders, scholars, priests, the lay, the mourning, the prosperous, the rich and the poor. (19.) Gregory invites his audience to fight against sin, in order to win the eternal kingdom Kyprianos is now enjoying.

Text: Mossay and Lafontaine 1981.
Translation and Summary: E. Rizos.

History

Evidence ID

E00886

Saint Name

Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (Africa) and martyr, ob. 258 : S00411 Kyprianos and Ioustina/Justina, martyrs of Antioch : S01704

Saint Name in Source

Κυπριανὸς Κυπριανὸς

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint Literary - Sermons/Homilies

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

379

Evidence not after

380

Activity not before

379

Activity not after

380

Place of Evidence - Region

Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Constantinople

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Constantinople Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory of Nazianzus

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Scepticism/rejection of the cult of saints

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Miracles experienced by the saint Healing diseases and disabilities Other miracles with demons and demonic creatures Exorcism Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Source

Gregory was born in c. 330 to a wealthy Christian family in Cappadocia. He was educated at Nazianzos, Kaisareia/Caesarea, Athens, and Alexandria, and in 361 he returned to Nazianzos where he was ordained priest by his father, Gregory the Elder, who was bishop of Nazianzos. He was ordained bishop of Sasima in Cappadocia by Basil of Caesarea in 372, but stayed in Nazianzos, administering the local community after the death of his father. After retreating as a monk in Isauria for some years, he moved to Constantinople in 379, in order to lead the struggle for the return of the city to Nicene Orthodoxy. Two years later, the Arians were ousted by the emperor Theodosius I, and Gregory became bishop of Constantinople. In 381, he convened the Council of Constantinople, at the end of which he resigned his throne and retired to Cappadocia where he died in 390. Oration 24 was given in 379 or 380, during Gregory’s ministry as pastor of the dissident Nicene community of Constantinople, which was based at the church of Anastasia. On the manuscript tradition (395 manuscripts) and editions of the text, see Mossay and Lafontaine 1981, and: http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/7672/

Discussion

This sermon provides a testimony for the celebration of the memory of *Cyprian of Carthage in the East, and for the development of the hagiographical legend of *Kyprianos of Antioch, based on a Greek apocryphal text known as the Confession of Kyprianos. Gregory has just returned to Constantinople from a journey, and opens his sermon in a playful way, expressing his enthusiasm for joining again his community after a long absence, and for being able to attend the special service celebrated on the memorial feast of the martyr (μαρτύρων μυσταγωγία – martyrōn mystagōgia, literally the ‘mystical celebration of the martyrs’). He stresses the necessity of keeping the memory of martyrs as a powerful means of edification, alongside the stories of the Bible. This remark could be addressing scepticism on the necessity of holding gatherings for saints, or perhaps for this particular saint. Judging from the fact that the memory of the Carthaginian bishop and martyr had acquired such a prominence in Constantinople, it seems reasonable to assume that several other festivals of non-local martyrs were being introduced, and that the overall rise of the cult of martyrs had started to be felt with particular intensity. As an imperial centre attracting people from around the Roman world, Constantinople probably became a hub of the cult of saints. Gregory’s small Nicene community may have attracted people from Latin North Africa, and through them it may have been acquainted with the devotion to the Carthaginian martyr and his hagiography. Gregory introduces his narrative as if describing a vision (‘I get, as it were, into a trance of joy: I am somehow present at your martyrdom’), and recounts the story in a highly rhetorical style. Gregory’s sermon is evidently based on a set of texts concerning Cyprian, which included: an account of his life up to his conversion; writings ascribed to him (dogmatic, moral, biographical, and epistolary); an account of exile and martyrdom; accounts of the discovery of his relics and of posthumous miracles. Gregory’s source-text has not survived, and thus this sermon is the earliest surviving piece of Cyprian’s Greek hagiography. It seems that Gregory was aware of aspects of the life and martyrdom of the historical Cyprian of Carthage, although he is unlikely to have used Pontius the Deacon’s Life of Cyprian (E00916) or Cyprian’s Acta Proconsularia (E00). Besides this, he certainly also used on a version of the Greek apocryphal document known as the Confession (or Penance) of Kyprianos of Antioch, thus conflating the story of Cyprian of Carthage with the legend of *Kyprianos and *Ioustina of Antioch (on which see E01163; E01164; E01165; E01166). Gregory’s treatment of the story, however, presents significant differences from this legend as well: - Gregory’s narrative places the story in Carthage, whereas the legend ascribes it to Antioch in Syria. - Even though ignoring the precise historical date of Cyprian’s death under Valerian, Gregory correctly places his activity in the context of the Decian persecution, whereas the Martyrdom of Kyprianos and Ioustina ascribes the story to the Diocletianic persecution. - Gregory seems to have some knowledge about the life of the historical Cyprian of Carthage, especially concerning his exile and letters during the Decian persecution. These are mentioned very cursorily in the Passio of Kyprianos and Ioustina. - Gregory mentions a prayer of Ioustina to the Virgin Mary (see E00887), which is absent in the extant texts of the legend of Kyprianos and Ioustina. - In Gregory’s version, the girl (which he does not name) disappears from the story after Cyprian’s conversion, while in the legend she is ordained by him as deaconess and nun, and accompanies him in martyrdom (see E01164) - Gregory’s legend of the invention of Cyprian’s relics by the two women, and his reference to miracles performed by Cyprian’s dust (paragraphs 17 and 18, see E00966) are only partially reflected in the Martyrdom of Kyprianos and Ioustina (E01165). According to the latter, the relics of the two martyrs are transferred by sailors to Rome, where they are buried by a noble woman. Gregory’s story seems to have been significantly different and more extensive. These differences confirm that Gregory was probably unaware of the two later documents of the legend of Kyprianos and Ioustina, namely the Conversion of Ioustina and the Martyrdom (Passion) of Kyprianos and Ioustina, which must accordingly have been written after his time (see E01164; E01165). A central question is how the apocryphal legend of Kyprianos and Ioustina came to be associated with the story of Cyprian of Carthage. It is probable that the association was present already in the source text used by Gregory of Nazianzus (on which see: Delehaye 1921, 323-332). The historical Cyprian of Carthage was not unknown in the Greek East: he corresponded with bishop Phirmilianos of Caesarea/Kaisareia in Cappadocia (Cyprian, Epistle 75), and it seems that there was a Greek translation of the Acts of the Council of Carthage (256) and possibly one of Cyprian’s letters (see P. Bernardini, ‘Le Sententiae episcoporum del concilio cartaginese del 256 e la loro versione greca. Nuova edizione nel Corpus Christianorum’, Cristianesimo nella storia 27 [2005], 477–498). The same documents were known to Eusebius of Caesarea (Ecclesiastical History, 6.43.3; 7.3.1). As said above, it seems that Gregory consulted a corpus of various texts ascribed to Cyprian of Carthage, including a book on the Trinity. Yet no such text is known to have been written by the Carthaginian bishop. This reference probably betrays that Gregory’s source was a corpus which, according to Rufinus of Aquileia, circulated widely in Constantinople, and included a collection of letters of Cyprian of Carthage and a treatise on the Trinity misattributed to him. Rufinus says that the treatise was in fact a text of Tertullian, and that it was inserted into Cyprian’s letters by ‘certain heretics who commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’ (Rufinus, On the Falsification of the Books of Origen, §12). Jerome corrects him by claiming that the Trinitarian treatise was in fact a work of Novatian (Contra Rufinum II.19; de Viris, 70). Both testimonies suggest that there was an involvement of a sectarian group in the production of the corpus, which could be the Novatians or the Pneumatomachi. Since both groups were strongly present in Constantinople and Anatolia, it is likely that this early Cyprianic corpus was created there, very probably in the mid-4th century, and it is probably then that the apocryphal Greek Confession of Kyprianos was ascribed to Cyprian of Carthage. If we believe Gregory of Nazianzus, it was primarily the story of Kyprianos, namely the Confession, that attracted popular interest (‘hear the finest of our stories, which is the pride of all Christians!’). Indeed this was the only part of this early Cyprianic corpus, which continued to circulate successfully, because, after Gregory of Nazianzus, we never hear again about Cyprian’s letters or other writings in the East. In the late fourth century, the Confession of Kyprianos was collated with two new texts, the Conversion of Ioustina and the Martyrdom of Kyprianos and Ioustina of Antioch, thus forming a new hagiographic corpus, with which the memory of the historical Cyprian of Carthage was completely overshadowed by the apocryphal legend of the magician, bishop, and martyr of Antioch. This corpus existed by the mid-5th century, when the empress Eudocia rewrote it in Homeric hexameters. The legend of the magician and the girl and its association with Cyprian of Carthage was also known in the Latin West during the 4th century, as attested in Prudentius’ Peristephanon (written in the 390s, see E04353). The Confession of Kyprianos certainly circulated in Latin, and, in the 6th century, it was condemned as apocryphal by the Gelasian Decree.

Bibliography

Text, French translation and comments: Mossay, J., and Lafontaine, G., Grégoire de Nazianze, Discours 24-26 (Sources chrétiennes 284; Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1981). English translation: Vinson, M.P., St. Gregory of Nazianzus: Select Orations (Fathers of the Church 107; Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2003). Further reading : Bailey, R., "The Confession of Cyprian of Antioch: Introduction, Text, and Translation," MA Thesis, McGill University, Montreal, 2009, 18-19. Coman, J., "Les deux Cypriens de S. Gregoire de Nazianze," in: F. L. Cross (ed.), Studia Patristica IV (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1961), 363-372. Delehaye, H., "Cyprien d'Antioche et Cyprien de Carthage," Analecta Bollandiana 39 (1921), 314-332. Krestan, L., and Hermann, A., "Cyprianus II (Magier)," Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum 3 (Stuttgart: Anton Hiersemann, 1957), 467-477. Sabattini, T.A., "S. Cipriano nella tradizione agiografica," Rivista di Studi Classici, 21:2 (1973), 181-204.

Usage metrics

Categories

Keywords

Licence

Exports