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E03495: Theodoret of Cyrrhus sends five letters, inviting his correspondents to celebrate the dedication of a church at Cyrrhus, built to house relics of Apostles and Prophets. Written in Cyrrhus (north Syria), 423/449.

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posted on 24.07.2017, 00:00 by erizos
Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Letters

Collectio Patmensis 35

ΡΩΜΥΛῼ
Καὶ πατέρες τῶν σωφρονούντων παίδων οἰκειοῦνται τὴν εὔκλειαν καὶ δεσπόται τῶν εὔνων οἰκετῶν περὶ πολλοῦ ποιοῦνται τὴν θεραπείαν. Εἰ δὲ παρ’ ἀνθρώποις τοιοῦτος πολιτεύεται νόμος, ἔνθα φθόνος πολλάκις κρατεῖ, πολλῷ μᾶλλον ἐπὶ Θεοῦ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ καὶ ἀπαθῶς πάντας εὐεργετεῖν πεφυκότος. Διὸ νῦν μὲν Ἀβραὰμ λέγει· Εὐλογήσω τοὺς εὐλογοῦντάς σε, νῦν δὲ τοῖς ἱεροῖς ἀποστόλοις· Ὁ δεχόμενος ὑμᾶς, ἐμὲ δέχεται· Ἐπειδὴ τοίνυν οἰκείαν ἡγεῖται τὴν τῶν τροφίμων τιμήν, παρακλήθητι, θαυμασιώτατε, τοὺς Προφήτας αὐτοῦ, τοὺς ἁγίους Ἀποστόλους τῇ παρουσίᾳ τιμῆσαι.

‘To Romylos.
The fathers of well-behaved children appropriate their good fame, and the masters of loyal servants take pride in their service. Now, if this rule applies to human society where malice often prevails, it much more does to God who is good and naturally disposed to benefit all people without bias. For that reason Abraham says: I will bless those who bless you [Gen. 12:3]. And now [Christ says] to the Apostles: He who receives you receives Me [Matt. 10:40]. Therefore, since He regards the honour bestowed upon His servants as being His own, accept, most admirable man, our invitation to honour by your presence His Prophets and Apostles.


Collectio Patmensis 36

ΘΕΟΔΟΤῼ ΑΡΧΟΝΤΙ. 
Παιδίοις μὲν ἡ μορμὼ φοβερά, μειρακίοις δὲ παιδαγωγοὶ καὶ διδάσκαλοι, τοῖς δὲ εἰς ἄνδρας τελοῦσι ἤδη πάντων ἐστὶ φοβερώτατον δικαστὴς καὶ βῆμα καὶ κήρυκες καὶ ῥαβδοῦχοι καὶ εἰσπράξεις· ἂν δὲ δὴ καὶ ἀπορία τούτοις προσῇ, διπλοῦν τὸ δέος γίνεται. Τί δήποτε ταῦτα διεξῆλθον, ἐγὼ τὴν σὴν ἀρετὴν διδάξω. Ἐγκαίνια τῶν ἀποστολικῶν καὶ προφητικῶν σηκῶν τῇ τεσσαρεσκαιδεκάτῃ τοῦ Γορπιαίου μηνός, Θεοῦ νεύοντος, προσδοκῶμεν ἐπιτελέσαι. Δεδίασι δὲ τὴν σὴν παρουσίαν οἱ παρ’ ἡμῖν, ὡς ἔφην, πολιτευόμενοι. Δεδίασι δὲ οὐ τὸν πραότατον Θεόδοτον, ἀλλ’ ὃ περίκεισαι τῆς ἀρχῆς προσωπεῖον· οὗ χωρίς, πολλοῦ ἂν ἐπριάμεθα καὶ παρεῖναι ἡμῖν ἑορτάζουσι καὶ κοινωνεῖν τῆς πανηγύρεως καὶ τὴν πόλιν κοσμεῖν καὶ κορυφαῖον εἶναι τῶν συνιόντων. Παρακλήθητι τοίνυν, ὦ ἄριστε, ἱερομηνίᾳ τὸν Γορπιαῖον δοῦναι καὶ τοῦτον ἀναθεῖναι Θεῷ καὶ τοῖς τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐρασταῖς καὶ ἐρωμένοις. Οὕτω γὰρ καὶ ἀπὼν κοινωνήσεις τῆς πανηγύρεως, ἡσυχίᾳ καὶ ἀνακωχῇ τοὺς ἁγίους Ἀποστόλους καὶ Προφήτας γεραίρων, καὶ τῆς παρ’ αὐτῶν εὐλογίας ἀπολαύσεις, καὶ <τὸν> Θεὸν θεραπεύσεις τὸν τῇ τιμῇ τῶν ἁγίων τερπόμενον, χαριῇ δὲ καὶ ἡμῖν τοῖς εἰρήνην καὶ θυμηδίαν κεχυμένην ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ ἐκείνῃ ἐφιεμένοις καὶ εὐχομένοις.

‘To Theodotos, the official.
Little children are afraid of the bugbear, young boys of their preceptors and teachers, while for those counted among adults the most fearsome of all things is a judge, the tribunal, criers, policemen, and tax collections. And if, in addition, they happen to be poor, their fear is doubled. Why I have said these things I shall now explain to your Virtue. We are looking forward to celebrating the dedication of the shrine(s) of the Apostles and Prophets, God willing, on the fourteenth of the month Gorpiaios [August/September]. Now, as I have said, our magistrates fear your presence. But what they dread is not the sweet man Theodotos, but the mask of authority surrounding you. Were it not for it, we would most enjoy having you present among us in our celebration, to share in our feast, honour our city, and be the chief of our visitors. Therefore, excellent man, vouchsafe to keep a holiday in Gorpiaios and dedicate it to God and to the men who loved and were loved by God. Thus you will at the same time participate in the festival, even in your absence, honouring the holy Apostles and Prophets by your resting and holiday, you will enjoy their blessing, you will serve God who takes pleasure in the honour of His saints, and you will also do a great favour to us who wish and look forward to having peace and relaxed cheerfulness during that celebration.’


Collectio Sirmondiana 66

ΑΕΡΙῼ ΣΟΦΙΣΤῌ.
Εἰς τὴν τριπόθητον ὑμᾶς πανήγυριν ἡ τετοκυῖα καὶ θρεψαμένη καλεῖ. Ὁ γὰρ ἱερὸς σηκὸς καὶ τὸν ὄροφον ἔλαβε, καὶ τὸν προσήκοντα κόσμον προσέλαβε καὶ τοὺς οἰκήτορας οἷς ἐδομήθη ποθεῖ. Ἀπόστολοι δὲ οὗτοι καὶ προφῆται, Παλαιᾶς καὶ Καινῆς Διαθήκης μεγαλόφωνοι κήρυκες. Κοσμήσατε τοίνυν τῇ παρουσίᾳ τὴν ἑορτήν, καὶ τὰς ἐκ ταύτης ἀναβλυζούσας εὐλογίας ἀρύσασθε καὶ θυμηρεστέραν ἡμῖν ἐργάσασθε τὴν πανήγυριν.

‘To the sophist Aerios
The city which gave birth to you and raised you invites you to its highly desirable festival. For the holy shrine has received its roof, taken on its ornament, and yearns for the dwellers it has been built for. These are Apostles and Prophets, loud heralds of the Old and New Testaments. Therefore, adorn our celebration with your presence, draw from the blessing that gushes forth from it, and render our feast even more joyful.’


Collectio Sirmondiana 67

ΜΑΡΑΝᾼ.
Σὸν μὲν ἔργον, ὦ ἄριστε, τὸ καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους εἰς τὴν τῶν ἐγκαινίων πανήγυριν καλεῖν. Ἐκ γὰρ τῆς σῆς σπουδῆς τε καὶ προθυμίας καὶ ὁ θεῖος ἐδομήθη σηκὸς καὶ οἱ μεγαλόφωνοι τῆς ἀληθείας ἀφίκοντο κήρυκες οἱ τοῦτον οἰκήσοντες καὶ τοὺς πιστῶς προσιόντας φρουρήσοντες. Γράφω δὲ ὅμως σημαίνων τῆς ἑορτῆς τὸν καιρόν.

‘To Maranas
Your duty, excellent man, is to invite others as well to the celebration of the dedication. For it was by your care and enthusiasm that the divine shrine was built and that the loud heralds of truth arrived, in order to inhabit it and guard its faithful visitors. I shall keep you posted about the time of the celebration.’


Collectio Sirmondiana 68

ΕΠΙΦΑΝΙῼ.
Ἐβουλόμην μὴ μόνον ὡς πολίτας, ἀλλὰ καὶ ὡς ὁμοπίστους ὑμᾶς καὶ ὁμοσκήνους, εἰς τὴν τῶν ἁγίων ἀποστόλων καὶ προφητῶν συγκαλέσαι πανήγυριν· ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἐᾷ τὸ τῆς προλήψεως πάθος. Οὗ δὴ χάριν τὰ τῆς ἐνεγκούσης μόνα προβάλλομαι δίκαια, καὶ παρακαλῶ τῆς ἀξιεράστου τῶν ἁγίων ἀποστόλων καὶ προφητῶν μεταλαχεῖν εὐλογίας. Ταύτην γὰρ τὴν μετάληψιν οὐδεμία κωλύει διχόνοια.

‘To Epiphanios
I would like to invite you to the festival of the holy Apostles and Prophets, not only as a compatriot, but also as a sharer of our faith and home. Yet a sense of scruple does not let me. For this reason, I invoke the rights alone of your native city and beg you to partake of the amiable blessing of the holy Apostles and Prophets. For no conflict can stand obstacle to this partaking.’


Text: Azéma 1955 (Collectio Patmensis); Azéma 1964 (Collectio Sirmondiana). Translation: Efthymios Rizos

History

Evidence ID

E03495

Saint Name

Apostles (unspecified) : S00084 Prophets (unspecified) : S00139

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

423

Evidence not after

449

Activity not before

423

Activity not after

449

Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Kyrrhos/Cyrrhus/Hagioupolis

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

Kyrrhos/Cyrrhus/Hagioupolis Thabbora Thabbora

Major author/Major anonymous work

Theodoret of Cyrrhus

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Ceremony of dedication

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Activities Accompanying Cult

  • Feasting (eating, drinking, dancing, singing, bathing)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Officials

Cult Activities - Relics

Unspecified relic Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Transfer/presence of relics from distant countries Construction of cult building to contain relics

Source

Theodoret was born in Antioch in c. 393, where he received a formidable education before joining the monastery of Nikerte near Apamea in 416. In 423, he was consecrated as bishop of Kyrrhos/Cyrrhus. During the theological debates of the time, he emerged as one of the chief exponents of Antiochene Christology. The Second Council of Ephesus (449) deposed him as a supporter of Nestorius, of whom he was indeed a friend. He was restored to his bishopric by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. He is thought to have died in c. 460. The 232 letters of Theodoret’s correspondence are divided into three sets: 1) 147 letters first printed by Jacques Sirmond in 1647 and reprinted in volume 83 of Migne’s Patrologia Graeca (collectio Sirmondiana) 2) 47 letters preserved in a codex of the Patmos Monastery, and published in 1885 by Ioannis Sakellion (collectio Patmensis) 3) 36 letters, dating from 431-437, which were included in the document collections concerning the Council of Ephesus in 431. A critical edition with French translation and notes by Yvan Azéma is available in the Sources Chrétiennes series (vols. 40, 98, 111, 429).

Discussion

These letters certainly date from the time of Theodoret’s episcopate (i.e. 423/449), but their precise chronology is unknown. They seem to refer to the same event, namely the dedication of a church by the author at his episcopal city with relics of unspecified New Testament Apostles and Old Testament Prophets. These may be the same relics which Theodoret reports having brought from Palestine and Phoenicia (E00619). The recipients of these letters are not known from other sources, but it seems that they were all prominent people from Cyrrhus. One of them, Theodotos, apparently served in the imperial administration. Theodoret discourages him from joining the celebration in person, because the locals were afraid of him. Instead, he asks him to honour the day by taking a holiday. Maranas is known to have been a local lawyer of Cyrrhus, who was actively involved in the acquisition of the relics and the building of the shrine.

Bibliography

Text, French translation, and commentary: Azéma, Yvan. Théodoret de Cyr. Correspondance I. Sources chrétiennes 40. Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1955. (Collectio Patmensis) Azéma, Yvan. Théodoret de Cyr. Correspondance II. Sources chrétiennes 98. Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1964. (Collectio Sirmnondiana)

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