The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 11 (part 4)

Let’s continue reading this.  I’m taking the Italian translation by Pirone – itself a near-impossible item to obtain -, running it through Google Translate and cleaning up the output.  I know that “no true scholar” would do this; but since I see evidence that people simply don’t know what may be found in Eutychius, it seems worth doing.

9. Constantine was baptized in a town called Nicomedia, in the twelfth year of his reign.  He gave orders to build churches in each country and to take from the Crown Treasury the money with which to make enough vessels for the churches.  In the first year of his reign Eusebius was made patriarch of Rome.  He held the office for six years and died.  In the seventh year of his reign Miltiades was made patriarch of Rome (22).  He held the office for four years and died.  In the eleventh year of his reign Sylvester was made patriarch of Rome (23).  He held the office for twenty-eight years old and died.  In his ninth year in office the council was held in the city of Nicaea (24).  In the third year of the reign of Constantine Filūniqūs [= Philogonus] was also made patriarch of Antioch.  He held the office for five years and died.  In the ninth year of his reign Paulinus was made patriarch of Antioch.  He held the office for five years and died. In the fifteenth year of his reign Istāt [=Eustathius] was made patriarch of Antioch. He held the office for eight years and died.  In his fifth year in office there was the council in the city of Nicaea.  In the first year of the reign of Constantine Asun was made bishop of Jerusalem (25). He held the seat for nine years and died.  In the tenth year of his reign Macarius was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the seat for nineteen years and died.  In his tenth year in office there was the council in the city of Nicaea.  In the fifth year of the reign of Constantine there was also made patriarch of Alexandria Alexander, a disciple of Peter Martyr, the patriarch of Alexandria who had been killed, a companion of Ashillā, patriarch of Alexandria.  He held the seat for sixteen years and died.  In his fifteenth year in office there was the Council of Nicaea in the city because Alexander, Patriarch of Alexandria, had forbidden Arius to enter the church, and excommunicated him saying: “Arius is accursed because the patriarch Peter, before his martyrdom, told us: “God has cursed Arius: do  not receive him and not let him go in with you into the church.”  At the head of the city of Asyut (26), in the province of Egypt, there was a bishop named Meletius who shared the doctrine of Arius.  The patriarch Alexander excommunicated him.  There was at Alexandria a great temple that Queen Cleopatra had built in honor of Saturn, inside which was kept a large bronze idol which was called Mika’il.  The inhabitants of Alexandria and Egypt were accustomed, every twelve month of Hathor, i.e. Tishrin ath-Thani (27), to celebrate, in honor of this idol, a great festival during which they offered many sacrifices.  When he became Patriarch of Alexandria and having everywhere publicly professed the Christian religion, Alexander decided to destroy the idol and to put an end to the sacrifices. But since the people of Alexandria objected, he tricked them by saying: “From this idol can be expected neither utility nor profit. I would suggest, therefore, that you celebrate this feast in honor of the angel Michael and offer him these sacrifices that you may intercede for you before God, and so benefit you better than this idol.”  Having them willingly accepted his words, [the patriarch] demolished the idol and put up a cross, and he called the temple “the church of [St] Michael” which is the church now called ”al-Qaysariyyah”, which was burned and destroyed at the time of entry into Alexandria of Magharibah. The festival and sacrifices were thus dedicated to the archangel Michael.  Even today the Copts of Alexandria and Egypt are accustomed to celebrate on this day the archangel Michael, cutting the throat of many animals in his honour.

10. When Alexander, Patriarch of Alexandria, interdicted Arius from entering the church and excommunicated him, the latter appealed to King Constantine, asking him to help him against the patriarch of Alexandria.  With Arius joined two bishops, one of whom was called Eumenius, bishop of the city of Nicomedia (28), and the other Eusebius, bishop of the city of Phila (29). They appealed to King Constantine, and Arius said: “Alexander, Patriarch of Alexandria, has acted unfairly against me and wrongly expelled me from the church.”  And so saying, he asked him to convene the church in order to discuss the matter openly in the presence of the king.  Constantine then sent his messenger to Alexandria and summoned the Patriarch in order to arrange a meeting between him and Arius and so to adjudicate the affair. King Constantine said to Arius: “Expound your doctrine.” Arius said: “I assert that the Father has always been, before the Son was. Then it is fact that the Son is the Word but he is created and made. Then the Father gave the Son, who is named Word, the power to be creator of the heavens and the earth and what is between them, as he himself said in his holy Gospel in the passage where he says: ‘I have been given all authority on heaven and on earth.’ He was not, therefore, creator by his own power but by that which had been conferred on him.  I assert that this Word then took on a body over time, in the womb of the Virgin Mary and by the power of the Holy Spirit so as to become one Christ.  Christ, therefore, is the result of putting together the Word and the flesh, both, however, created”.

11. To this Alexander replied, saying: “Tell us, what do you think is more important for us: to worship the one who created us, or to worship one who did not create us?” And Arius said: “Worshipping the one who created us.” Alexander replied: “If the Son created us, as you assert, and the Son is [in his turn] created, it follows that to worship the Son who created us is more proper than to worship the Father, who is uncreated; indeed, to worship the Father creator would be an impiety and to worship the created Son an act of the pure faith.  But that would be the most absurd of things.”  The king found the argument [of Alexander] was right, along with the others who were present with him, and found that the doctrine of Arius was instead absurd.  There were many other questions and answers between the two, but in the end the king Constantine authorized Alexander, Patriarch of Alexandria, to excommunicate Arius and anyone who upheld his doctrine. Alexander then said to the king Constantine: “No, it is for the king himself to convene the patriarchs and bishops, so that there is a council at which to deliver a judgment, to excommunicate Arius and set forth the true faith, in order to present it with clear wording to all nations.” Constantine then sent his messengers into all countries and gathered the patriarchs and bishops.  Within a year and two months there gathered at Nicaea two thousand and forty-eight bishops of differing opinions and religions.  For there were those who claimed that Christ and his mother are two other gods, and these were the Barbarāniyyah, also called Maryamiyyūn;(30) there were those who claimed that the Son comes from the Father like the flame of a fire fed by the same fire, and that the former is not subject to reduction by the fact that he depends on the second, and this was the doctrine of Sabellius and his followers; there were those who claimed that Mary had by no means kept Christ in her womb for nine months, but that he passed through her belly like water goes into the gutter (31), since the Word came in by her ear and immediately went out to where the baby comes out, and this was the doctrine of Ebanus and his followers; there were those who said that Christ is a man and was created by the Deity like each of us as to the substance, which is the principle of the Son of Mary, and that, having been chosen to be the saviour of the human substance by virtue of divine grace that came down and dwelt in him through love and will, for this reason he was called the Son of God. And there were those who said that God is one substance and one person, and that he was called by three names but they did not believe either in Word or in the Holy Spirit, and it was this, the doctrine of Paul of Samosata, Patriarch of Antioch, and its followers, that the Paulicians held.  There were those who argued that there are three gods, one good, one bad and a third one sharing in both, and this was the doctrine of the excommunicated Marcion and his followers, who claimed that Marcion was the leader of the Apostles, denying that role to the Apostle Peter.  And there, finally, those who supported the divinity of Christ, and this was the doctrine of the apostle Paul and the three hundred and eighteen bishops (32).

When King Constantine heard their doctrines, he was very surprised at many of their differences and put at their disposal a building where he gave them space, ordering them to talk to each other in order to determine on which side was the true religion to follow.  Of these, the Three hundred and Eighteen found themselves unanimous on one doctrine and one religion, after discussing with each other and with the other bishops.  They refuted the arguments of the others, and proclaimed the true faith, while the other bishops even among themselves held to conflicting doctrines and religions.  The king then for the three hundred and eighteen bishops had a large room set aside, sat among them, and took his ring, his sword and his scepter and handed them to them, saying: “Today I have given you authority over my kingdom, to do what seems appropriate to you to do for the definition of right religion and for the good of the faithful.”  They blessed the king, girded on his sword and said: “Profess publicly the Christian religion and be its defender.”  Then they wrote for him forty books containing the constitutions and laws, some of which related to what the king should know and do, and other related to the responsibility of making the bishops.  The leader and president of the council was Alexander, Patriarch of Alexandria, along with Eustathius, Patriarch of Antioch, and Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem.  Silvester, patriarch of Rome, had sent as his representatives two priests, one of whom was called Vitus and the other Vincentius (33).  [The Three hundred and eighteen] unanimously sanctioned the expulsion of Arius and his followers, excommunicated him and all those who supported his doctrine, and formulated the profession of faith by establishing that the Son was born of the Father before all ages, and that the Son is of the substance of the Father, uncreated.  They appointed then Metrophanes as patriarch of Constantinople.  They were also unanimous in stating that the Christian Easter should be celebrated on the Sunday after the Passover of the Jews, and that the Passover of the latter should not to be celebrated in place of the day of Easter for Christians.  Also they confirmed what had been said on the Calculation of the days of fasting and Easter by Demetrius, patriarch of Alexandria, Ghayānūs (34), Bishop of Jerusalem, Maximus, Patriarch of Antioch and Victor, Patriarch of Rome, and that is that the fasting of Christians must end on Easter day, or on the Sunday after the Passover of the Jews.


4 thoughts on “The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 11 (part 4)

  1. This is extremely helpful. I have been trying to trace a reference to the “Mariamitae” of Eutychius, and here they are. Apparently Beausobre, referred to by Gibbon, has something to say about them – how reliable is Eutychius in mentioning them ? And how is the figure of 2,048 bishops to be explained, when the lists give figures in the three hundreds – by textual error in Greek and Arabic, perhaps ?

    My interest in Eutychius is because I saw him quoted in a 19th-century book as a source for the idea that the mother of Jesus had been given Divine status, and I have had some success in tracing the literary allusions to the idea – but I would like to know who the “Maramiyyun” are, and where they came from, and what their relation to “Catholic Christianity” might be. Might Eutychius have been influenced by the Koranic assertion that Mary is worshipped as a deity ? Sale 1734 has useful notes on K. 4.157, but that is about it – if memory serves, he refers to “Patricius” ( = Ibn Batriq = Eutychius), al-Beidawi, and “Elmacinus” ( = al-Makim). Eutychius is also available in a 1658 Arabic-Latin version – I have no Arabic.

    Thank you a very great deal for providing this 🙂

  2. 1. Thank you very much for making this available – particularly in English.

    2. Where does Patricius/ibn Batriq/Eutychius get his number of two thousand and forty-eight bishops at Nicea I ? Does anyone know ?

    3. Is there any known or suspected link between the Barbari/Maramiyyun AKA Mariamitae and (1) Gnosticising groups (2) the Collyridians (3) Islam or its likely formative influences !

    St Victor of Rome is anachronistically (proleptically ?) called a “Patriarch” – this does not encourage confidence in the accuracy of statements in Eutychius one has not read elsewhere.

    4. I wish the numbered notes had been included. Especially whatever note (30) refers to.

    Thanks again for taking the trouble to translate all this.

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