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E01749: Gregory of Nyssa in his Encomion On *Theodoros (soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480), of the 380s, invokes the protection of the saint for the local community against a barbarian invasion. He thanks him for repelling a past attack and urges him to invite other saints to his supplication on behalf of the area, especially the Apostles *Peter (S00036), *Paul (S00008), and *John (S00042). Written in Greek in Pontus (northern Asia Minor).

online resource
posted on 17.07.2016, 00:00 by erizos
Gregory of Nyssa, On *Theodoros (CPG 3183, BHG 1760)

(Page numbers are from the edition of Cavarnos, GNO X,1)
(For the context of these passages, see E01747)

(61) ΓΡΗΓΟΡΙΟΥ ΕΠΙΣΚΟΠΟΥ ΝΥΣΣΗΣ
ΕΓΚΩΜΙΟΝ ΕΙΣ ΤΟΝ ΑΓΙΟΝ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΜΑΡΤΥΡΑ ΘΕΟΔΩΡΟΝ

‘Gregory, bishop of Nyssa, Encomium on the holy great martyr Theodoros'

Ὑμεῖς ὁ τοῦ Χριστοῦ λαός, ἡ ἁγία ποίμνη, τὸ Βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα, οἱ πανταχόθεν ἀστικοί τε καὶ χωριτικοὶ συρρεύσαντες δῆμοι, πόθεν λαβόντες τὸ σύνθημα τῆς ὁδοῦ πρὸς τὸν ἱερὸν τοῦτον ἐδημαγωγήθητε τόπον; τίς ὑμῖν τῆς ἀφίξεως τῆς ἐνθάδε σπουδαίαν οὕτω καὶ ἐμπρόθεσμον ἀνάγκην ἐπέθηκε; καὶ ταῦτα ὥρᾳ χειμῶνος, ἡνίκα καὶ πόλεμος ἠρεμεῖ καὶ στρατιώτης τὴν πανοπλίαν ἀποσκευάζεται καὶ πλωτὴρ ὑπὲρ καπνοῦ τίθησι τὸ πηδάλιον καὶ γεωργὸς ἡσυχάζει τοὺς ἀροτῆρας βοῦς θεραπεύων ἐπὶ τῆς φάτνης; ἢ πρόδηλον, ὡς ἐσάλπισε μὲν ἐκ τῶν στρατιωτικῶν καταλόγων ὁ ἅγιος μάρτυς, κινήσας δὲ πολλοὺς ἐκ διαφόρων πατρίδων πρὸς τὴν οἰκείαν ἀνάπαυσιν καὶ ἑστίαν ἐκάλεσεν, οὐκ εἰς πολεμικὴν εὐτρεπίζων παρασκευήν, ἀλλὰ πρὸς τὴν γλυκεῖαν καὶ μάλιστα δὴ Χριστιανοῖς πρέπουσαν συνάγων εἰρήνην; οὗτος γάρ, ὡς πιστεύομεν, καὶ τοῦ παρελθόντος ἐνιαυτοῦ τὴν βαρβαρικὴν ζάλην ἐκοίμησε καὶ τὸν φρικώδη τῶν ἀγρίων Σκυθῶν ἔστησε πόλεμον δεινὸν αὐτοῖς ἐπισείσας καὶ φοβερὸν ἤδη βλεπομένοις καὶ πλησιάσασιν οὐ κράνος τρίλοφον οὐδὲ ξίφος εὖ τεθηγμένον καὶ πρὸς τὸν ἥλιον ἀποστίλβον, ἀλλὰ τὸν ἀλεξίκακον καὶ παντοδύναμον σταυρὸν τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὑπὲρ οὗ καὶ αὐτὸς παθὼν τὴν δόξαν ταύτην ἐκτήσατο.

‘You people of Christ, the holy flock, the royal priesthood (1 Pet 2:9), who have streamed together from everywhere, both from cities and villages: by whom have you been incited to your journey, and led to this holy place? Who has instilled into you the urge to come here, so urgently and at this particular time? And that in wintertime, when even war quietens down, the soldier takes off his armour, the seaman hangs the oar above the fire, and the farmer takes rest, tending his plough-oxen at their trough? It is indeed clear that the holy martyr from the military ranks sounded the trumpet, and, urging many people from various regions, he has called them to this own resting place and home, not equipping them for war preparation, but gathering them together for peace, which is sweet and most fitting to Christians. For it was he, as we believe, who last year stilled the barbarian storm and who brought to an end the horrible war of the savage Scythians, brandishing against them, to their horror and fear, as they had come visibly close, not a triple-crested helmet nor a well-sharpened sword sparkling in the sunlight, but the evil-barring and almighty cross of Christ, for whom he had suffered and obtained this glory.

(……)

(70) Ἡμεῖς μὲν οὖν, ὦ μακάριε, τὸν τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ κύκλον καταλαβόντες φιλανθρωπίᾳ τοῦ κτίσαντος ἠθροίσαμέν σοι τὴν πανήγυριν, τὸν ἱερὸν τῶν φιλομαρτύρων σύλλογον, τόν τε κοινὸν προσκυνοῦντες δεσπότην καὶ τὴν ἐπινίκιον πληροῦντες τῶν σῶν ἀγώνων ὑπόμνησιν, σὺ δέ, δεῦρο δὴ πρὸς ἡμᾶς, ὅπου ποτ᾽ ἂν ᾖς, τῆς ἑορτῆς ἔφορος· καλέσαντα γάρ σε ἀντικαλοῦμεν· καὶ εἴτε τῷ ὑψηλῷ αἰθέρι ἐνδιαιτᾷ εἴτε τινὰ ἐπουράνιον ἀψῖδα περιπολεῖς ἢ χοροῖς ἀγγέλων συντεταγμένος τῷ δεσπότῃ παρέστηκας ἢ μετὰ δυνάμεων καὶ ἐξουσιῶν ὡς δοῦλος πιστὸς προσκυνεῖς, μικρὸν τὰ αὐτόθι παραιτησάμενος ἧκε πρὸς τοὺς τιμῶντάς σε ἀόρατος φίλος. ἱστόρησον τὰ τελούμενα, ἵνα τὴν εἰς θεὸν εὐχαριστίαν διπλασιάσῃς, τὸν ἀντὶ πάθους ἑνὸς καὶ μιᾶς εὐσεβοῦς ὁμολογίας τοσαύτας σοι τὰς ἀμοιβὰς χαρισάμενον, εὐφρανθῇς δὲ τῷ αἵματι καὶ τῇ τοῦ πυρὸς ἀλγηδόνι. ὅσους γὰρ εἶχες τότε λαοὺς τῆς τιμωρίας θεατάς, τοσούτους νῦν τῆς τιμῆς ὑπηρέτας. χρῄζομεν πολλῶν εὐεργεσιῶν· πρέσβευσον ὑπὲρ τῆς πατρίδος πρὸς τὸν κοινὸν βασιλέα· πατρὶς γὰρ μάρτυρος τοῦ πάθους ἡ χώρα, πολῖται δὲ καὶ ἀδελφοὶ καὶ συγγενεῖς οἱ περιστείλαντες καὶ ἔχοντες καὶ τιμῶντες. ὑφορώμεθα θλίψεις, προσδοκῶμεν κινδύνους, οὐ μακρὰν οἱ ἀλιτήριοι Σκῦθαι τὸν καθ᾽ ἡμῶν ὠδίνοντες πόλεμον· ὡς στρατιώτης ὑπερμάχησον· ὡς μάρτυς ὑπὲρ τῶν ὁμοδούλων χρῆσαι τῇ παρρησίᾳ. εἰ καὶ ὑπερέβης τὸν βίον, ἀλλ᾽ οἶδας τὰ πάθη καὶ τὰς χρείας τῆς ἀνθρωπότητος· αἴτησον εἰρήνην, ἵνα αἱ πανηγύρεις αὗται μὴ λήξωσιν, ἵνα μὴ κωμάσῃ κατὰ ναῶν ἢ θυσιαστηρίων λυσσῶν καὶ ἄθεσμος βάρβαρος, ἵνα μὴ πατήσῃ τὰ ἅγια βέβηλος. Ἡμεῖς γὰρ καὶ ὑπὲρ ὧν ἀπαθεῖς ἐφυλάχθημεν, σοὶ λογιζόμεθα τὴν εὐεργεσίαν, αἰτοῦμεν δὲ καὶ τοῦ μέλλοντος τὴν ἀσφάλειαν. (71) ἂν χρεία γένηται καὶ πλείονος δυσωπίας, ἄθροισον τὸν χορὸν τῶν σῶν ἀδελφῶν τῶν μαρτύρων καὶ μετὰ πάντων δεήθητι. πολλῶν δικαίων εὐχαὶ λαῶν καὶ δήμων ἁμαρτίας λυσάτωσαν. ὑπόμνησον Πέτρον, διέγειρον Παῦλον, Ἰωάννην ὁμοίως τὸν θεολόγον καὶ φιλούμενον μαθητήν, ἵν᾽ ὑπὲρ τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν ἃς συνεστήσαντο μεριμνήσωσιν, ὑπὲρ ὧν τὰς ἁλύσεις ἐφόρεσαν, ὑπὲρ ὧν τοὺς κινδύνους καὶ τοὺς θανάτους ἤνεγκαν, μὴ εἰδωλολατρεία ἄρῃ καθ᾽ ἡμῶν κεφαλήν, μὴ αἱρέσεις ὡς ἄκανθαι τῷ ἀμπελῶνι ὑποβλαστήσωσι, μὴ ζιζάνιον ἐγερθὲν πνίξῃ τὸν σῖτον, μή τις πέτρα γένηται καθ᾽ ἡμῶν λειπομένη τῆς πιότητος τῆς ἀληθινῆς δρόσου καὶ ἄρριζον ἀποδείξῃ τῆς εὐκαρπίας τοῦ λόγου τὴν δύναμιν· ἀλλὰ τῇ δυνάμει τῆς σῆς πρεσβείας καὶ τῶν σὺν σοί, θαυμαστὲ καὶ ὑπερλάμπων, ἐν τοῖς μάρτυσι θάλλον ἀποδειχθείη τὸ τῶν Χριστιανῶν πολίτευμα μέχρι τέλους μένον, ἐν τῇ λιπαρᾷ καὶ εὐκάρπῳ τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ πίστεως ἀρούρᾳ ἀεὶ καρποφοροῦν τὴν αἰώνιον ζωὴν τὴν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν. μεθ᾽ οὗ τῷ πατρὶ ἅμα τῷ ἁγίῳ πνεύματι δόξα κράτος τιμὴ νῦν καὶ ἀεὶ καὶ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. ἀμήν.

(70) So, blessed man, for yet another year, thanks to the philanthropy of the Creator, we have gathered together this feast for you, this godly assembly of people that love martyrs, worshipping our common Master, and keeping the triumphal commemoration of your struggles. Now, come down to us, wherever you may be, to be the overseer of our feast. You have invited us; now we invite you back. Whether you abide in the lofty aether, or guard some heavenly gateway, or stand by the Lord, joining the choirs of angels, or worship Him as a faithful servant together with the mights and the powers: leave what you are doing up there for a little while, and come as an invisible friend to the people who honour you. Inspect our ceremonies, and you will double your gratitude towards God, who has given you so many rewards in exchange for one suffering and one pious confession. You will rejoice in the blood you shed and the pain you suffered in the fire. Because, as great a crowd as you had back then observing your torture, even so great is the one you now have serving in your veneration. We are in need of many favours. Intercede on behalf of your homeland with our common King: a martyr’s homeland is the place of his martyrdom; his fellow countrymen, brothers, and relatives are the people who have buried him, keep him and honour him. We anticipate hardship, we expect perils. The infamous Scythians gestating war against us are not far. As a soldier, defend us! As a martyr, use your freedom of speech on behalf of your fellow-servants! Although you have risen above this life, yet you are aware of the sufferings and needs of mankind. Ask for peace, so that these feasts may not stop; that no insane and lawless barbarian may revel at our shrines and altars; that the godless may not trample upon the holy things.

(71) Whenever we have been preserved unharmed in the past, we deem it a benefaction from you, but we are asking for safety also for the future. And if there be need for a greater supplication, then assemble the choir of your brothers the martyrs, and pray with them all. Let the prayers of several righteous men undo the sins of entire nations and peoples. Remind Peter, arouse Paul, and also John the Theologian and beloved disciple, to take care for the churches they founded, for which they put on their fetters, for which they endured dangers and death: let idolatry not stir up its head against us; let no heresies grow like thorns in the vineyard; let no weed rise and suffocate the wheat; let no stone, dried of the freshness of the true dew, fall upon us and cut off the roots of the power which makes the Word bear rich fruit. But, by the power of your intercession and of those who are with you, oh marvellous and most bright of martyrs, may the polity of the Christians emerge flourishing, remaining to the end in the rich and fruitful soil of the faith in Christ, always bearing the fruit of eternal life which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. With Him to the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, power, and honour now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.’

Text: Cavarnos 1990, 59-71.
Translation: Efthymios Rizos.

History

Evidence ID

E01749

Saint Name

Theodore Tiro, martyr of Amaseia (Helenopontus, north-eastern Asia Minor), ob. 306 : S00480 Peter the Apostle : S00036 Paul, the Apostle : S00008 John, Apostle and Evangelist : S00042

Saint Name in Source

Θεόδωρος Πέτρος Παῦλος Ίωάννης

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts Literary - Sermons/Homilies

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

379

Evidence not after

390

Activity not before

379

Activity not after

390

Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Euchaita

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

Euchaita Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory of Nyssa

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miraculous interventions in war

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Crowds Foreigners (including Barbarians) Peasants

Source

Gregory of Nyssa was born in the late 330s as one of the youngest of a leading Christian family of Cappadocia. His siblings included important figures of church life, namely Basil of Caesarea, the ascetic Makrina the Younger, and Peter of Sebaste. Gregory was trained in philosophy and rhetoric mainly by his brother Basil, who, in 371 or 372 ordained him bishop of the Cappadocian township of Nyssa. In 376, Gregory was deposed from his see, to which he was able to return in 378, and, from then onwards, he was one of the protagonists of church politics in the East Roman Empire. He played an important role during the Council of Constantinople (381) and was very close to the imperial family of Theodosius I. He was sent on missions to Armenia and Arabia in order settle problems in local churches. Gregory died after 394. He left a large literary heritage on philosophical, theological, ascetical, catechetical and homiletic works. On the manuscript tradition of this oration, see: Heil, Cavarnos, and Lendle 1990, cxxxv-clxxii (J. P. Cavarnos) For a catalogue of the 96 manuscripts: http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/3819/ (accessed 03/02/2017)

Discussion

One of the most important aspects of Gregory’s oration on Theodoros/Theodore is the fact that the saint is ascribed with the power of protecting the local area from barbarian attack. The events Gregory refers to are thought to the revolts of Gothic groups, which broke out in the early years of the reign of Theodosius I (379-395). Gregory invokes Theodore’s special help, as a local saint and soldier, thus providing the first recorded invocation of a soldier saint as a defender at war. Of special interest are also Gregory’s references to the Apostles Peter, Paul, and John as founders and protectors of the local churches of Anatolia. Peter is interestingly invoked first, both as the chief of the Apostles and perhaps also as the founder of the see of Antioch, which was then recognised as the ecclesiastical primate of the East, including Anatolia. Theodore, on his turn, is perceived as inferior to the apostles, a saint who can be more easily invoked by the locals.

Bibliography

Text: Heil, G., J. P. Cavarnos, and O. Lendle, eds. Gregorii Nysseni Opera X.1: Gregorii Nysseni Sermones Ii. Leiden: Brill, 1990, 59-71 (J. P. Cavarnos). Translation: Leemans, J., ed. 'Let Us Die That We May Live' : Greek Homilies on Christian Martyrs from Asia Minor, Palestine and Syria, (c. AD 350-Ad 450). London: Routledge, 2003, 82-90 (J. Leemans). (with introduction and bibliography) Further reading: Bernardi, J. La prédication des pères Cappadociens, Paris : Université de Paris, 1968, 301-307. Daniélou, J. (1955), ‘Chronologie des sermons de Grégoire de Nysse’, Revue des Sciences Religieuses 29.4, 346-372. Haldon, J., A Tale of Two Saints: The Martyrdoms and Miracles of Saints Theodore 'the Recruit' and 'the General', (Translated Texts for Byzantinists 2; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2016). (bibliography on the cult of Theodoros). Leemans, J. "Hagiography and Historical-Critical Analysis: The Earliest Layer of the Dossier of Theodore the Recruit (Bhg 1760 and 1761)." In Martyrdom and Persecution in Late Antique Christianity: Festschrift Boudewijn Dehandschutter, edited by Johan Leemans. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium, 333-51. Leuven: Peeters, 2010. Limberis, V., Architects of Piety: The Cappadocian Fathers and the Cult of the Martyrs (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011). Walter, C. (1999) ‘Theodore, Archetype of the Warrior Saint’, Revue des Études Byzantines 57: 163–210. idem, The warrior saints in Byzantine art and tradition, Aldershot : Ashgate, 2003. Zuckerman, C. (1991) ‘The Cappadocians and the Goths’, Travaux et Mémoires 11: 473–86. On Gregory of Nyssa: Dörrie, H., “Gregor III,” in Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum 12 (1983), 863-895. Maraval, P., ‘Grégoire, évêque de Nysse’, in Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques 22 (1988): 20–4. Silvas, A. M. Gregory of Nyssa. The Letters: Introduction, Translation and Commentary. Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 83. Leiden / Boston: Brill, 2007, 1-57.

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