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E01908: Gregory of Nazianzus in his Letter 203, of the late 380s, mentions a shrine of martyrs on his estate of Karbale in Cappadocia (central Asia Minor), and refers to the land attached to it. Written in Greek in Arianzos (central Asia Minor).

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posted on 10.10.2016, 00:00 by Bryan
Gregory of Nazianzus, Letters (CPG 3032), Letter 203.

203. ΟΥΑΛΕΝΤΙΝΙΑΝΩΙ

(1.) Ἐξελαυνόμεθα Καρβάλης ἀνοσιώτατα, συγχρήσομαι γὰρ τῷ τῆς τραγῳδίας, μικρὸν ἐναλλάξας. Ἐξελαυνόμεθα δὲ λόγῳ μὲν οὐδαμῶς, ἔργῳ δὲ καὶ πάνυ σφοδρῶς. (2.) Πολλῷ γὰρ βέλτιον ἦν προγράμματι κηρύξαι τὴν ὑποχώρησιν ἢ γυναιξίν, ἃς ἀντιπροσώπους ἡμῶν συνῴκισας, τὸ σεμνὸν τοῦ βίου περικόπτων καὶ καθημερινὴν ἀσχημοσύνην καὶ βλασφημίαν παραζευγνὺς παρὰ τῶν ῥᾳδίως ἐπηρεαζόντων τοῖς οὕτω ζῆν ἑλομένοις, ὥσπερ ἡμεῖς. (3.) Εἰ δὲ μὴ τολμηρὸν εἰπεῖν, καὶ ἡμᾶς τοῦ παραδείσου διὰ τῆς Εὔας ἐκβέβληκας. Ῥᾴδιον μὲν γὰρ εὑρεῖν εὐπρεπές τι καὶ ἀφοσιώσασθαι καὶ δόξαι δίκαια λέγειν, ὡς οὔτε ἐξωθούμεθα παρὰ σοῦ καὶ τιμώμεθα γειτνιᾶν ἡμῖν θέλοντος· (4.) προσθήσεις δὲ ἴσως, ὅτι καὶ δεξιοῦσθαι φιλικῶς τε καὶ συγγενικῶς καί τι παραπολαύειν τῆς φιλίας τῆς ἡμετέρας. Τὸ δὲ λόγος, οὐκ ἔργον ἐστίν. (5.) Ὑμᾶς μὲν γὰρ ἐπιδημοῦντας τῷ τόπῳ καὶ δεχόμεθα καὶ ἀσπαζόμεθα· οἰκαρχίαις δὲ γυναικῶν οὕτως ὑποχωρήσομεν ὥσπερ ἐχιδναίοις ἐπιδρομαῖς. (6.) Τὸ μὲν οὖν ἡμέτερον ἔχει πέρας. Κατεσοφίσθημεν, συνεστάλημεν, ἡμᾶς αὐτοὺς τετιμήκαμεν, ἀφέντες καὶ πόνους χειρῶν ἡμῶν καὶ ἐλπίδας καὶ πολλὰ τοῖς ἁγίοις ἀπολογησάμενοι μάρτυσι. (7.) Πάντως εἰ καὶ βαρέα ταῦτα καὶ δύσφορα, ἀλλὰ καθ’ ὁδόν γε τοῦ καθ’ ἡμᾶς βίου φιλοσοφούμενα, καὶ οὔπω τοῦ πόλεις ἐκ πόλεων ἀμείβειν (ὃ φέρειν ἐκελεύσθημεν) φορτικώτερα. (8.) Σὺ δὲ τὸν τόπον οἰκοίης μακρότερα μὲν ἢ κατὰ τοὺς προενοικήσαντας, σωφρονέστερον δὲ ἢ ἐλπίζομεν, ὡς ἂν μήτε τοὺς ἁγίους ὑβρίζοιτε μάρτυρας, μήτε αὐτοὶ πλήσσοισθε τῇ παροικίᾳ. (9.) Ἐκεῖνο δὲ πρὸ πάντων ἀσφαλίσασθε, τῶν καθιερωμένων τοῖς μάρτυσι φείσασθε, ἵνα μὴ κακῶς περί τε ὑμῶν αὐτῶν καὶ τῶν ὑμετέρων βουλεύσησθε, πονηρῷ τῷ ἐπεισοδίῳ τὰ ὄντα φθείροντες.

'To Oualentinianos

We are being driven out of Karbale most disgracefully, or to use a quote from the tragedy slightly altered, we are being driven away, not at all in words, but most forcefully in reality [Euripides, Phoenician Women]. It would have been much better, had you mandated our departure in writing than by those women whom you have installed in our face, depriving us of the decency of our life, and subjecting us to daily abuse and insult by persons eager to pester people who have chosen to live the way we do. Or, to say something bold, you have driven us too out of Paradise by using Eve! You will easily devise some nicety, and declare your innocence, and will think that you you have said the right thing: that we by no means are being driven out by you, and that it is an honour for us that you wish to be our neighbour. And you may also add that you regard us as both a friend and a relative, and that you enjoy our friendship most thoroughly. But that’s just words, not the reality: for we both accept and welcome you to stay at the place, but women taking charge of the house is something we avoid like attacks of vipers. So, as far as we are concerned, that was it. We have accepted our defeat, we have confined ourselves, we have kept our dignity, having given up both our manual work and our hopes, and having long excused ourselves from the holy martyrs. At any rate, these things may be hard and unpleasant, but bearable on our path of living, and certainly not heavier than having to go from town to town, as we have been ordered to do. As for yourself, may you live in this place longer than those who inhabited it before you, and with greater prudence than we would hope, so that you may neither offend the holy martyrs, nor be afflicted by being their neighbours. Above all, however, take care of one thing: that you keep away from the property consecrated to the martyrs, lest you dare anything vile against both yourselves and your property, and destroy by an evil caprice what you already have.’

Text: Gallay 1964.
Translation: Efthymios Rizos.
Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

History

Evidence ID

E01908

Saint Name

Martyrs, unnamed or name lost : S00060

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

385

Evidence not after

390

Activity not before

380

Activity not after

390

Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Karbale Arianzos

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

Karbale Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia Arianzos Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory of Nazianzus

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Miracles

Punishing miracle

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits

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. His 249 Letters are an important source concerning his life and personality, and the ecclesiastical history of the 360s to 380s. For their manuscript tradition and editions, see Gallay 1964 and: http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/6064/

Discussion

This letter dates from the last years of Gregory’s life, when he spent his time in ascetic retirement on his family estate of Karbalē in Cappadocia. It seems that the addressee of the letter, a relative of Gregory called Oualentinianos (Valentinian, also known from the author’s Letter 198), had settled at Karbale, having acquired the land from Gregory who continued to live in a house of the estate, free from the cares of running the estate. Soon, however, Gregory seems to have regretted his decision to make Oualentinianos his neighbour, due to the presence of certain women in his household, with whom Gregory did not get along well. Seemingly other letters were exchanged before this one, with Oualentinianos offering due apologies in writing, but the situation would not change. In protest, Gregory shuts himself in his house, refraining from his manual work outside and from his regular prayers at the local martyrs’ shrine. Thus the letter, besides allowing an amusing glimpse into the everyday life of a landed estate in central Cappadocia, also provides an attestation to the presence of a shrine of martyrs on its grounds, which served as the regular place of worship for the ascetically inclided elderly squire, Gregory. The martyrs of the shrine are unknown. We know that the author’s father, Gregory of Nazianzus the Elder, had built an octagonal church, where his funeral was celebrated in 374. Gregory describes it in his eulogy for his father, without mentioning martyrs (Or. 18.39) and without specifying if it stood in the town of Nazianzus or on the grounds of the estate in Karbalē. Both are possible. In this period, there are several attestations of martyria built on private estates, and serving as mausolea, e.g. the shrine Gregory describes in his epigram 118 (see E00399) or the shrine of the Forty Martyrs, where the parents and sister of Basil of Caesarea were buried in Pontus (E01299). We know that Gregory of Nazianzus was buried at Karbalē, so the shrine under discussion here may have eventually become his own resting place and shrine. The letter finishes with a bitter warning to Oualentinianos not to encroach on the land bequeathed to the church, which, according to Gregory, could precipitate the wrath of the martyrs against him. This provides evidence on how such shrines were created and run: apparently Gregory, or his father, endowed the shrine with some land, detached from the estate and declared ecclesiastical property. Yet, as Gregory’s concern with the recklessness of Oualentinianos suggests, bequests like this were threatened by arbitrary encroachments or appropriation by other landowners, or subsequent heirs of the estates.

Bibliography

Text, French translation, and commentary: Gallay, P. (1964). Saint Grégoire de Nazianze, Lettres. Texte établi et traduit. Paris: Les Belles lettres. Further reading: Comings, J. B. Aspects of the Liturgical Year in Cappadocia (325-430). Patristic Studies. New York: Peter Lang, 2005, 98. Daley, Brian. Gregory of Nazianzus. London, New York: Routledge, 2006. Hauser-Meury, M.-M. Prosopographie zu den Schriften Gregors von Nazianz. Theophaneia 13. Bonn: Peter Hanstein, 1960, 177-178. McGuckin, John A. St Gregory of Nazianzus: An Intellectual Biography. Chrestwood, New York: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2001. Storin, Bradley K. "The Letter Collection of Gregory of Nazianzus." In Late Antique Letter Collections. A Critical Introduction and Reference Guide, edited by Bradley K. Storin and Edward Watts Cristiana Sogno, 81-101. Oakland: University of California Press, 2017.

Licence

Exports

Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

Licence

Exports