The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 13 (part 2)

Here is some more of the Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (= Sa`id ibn Bitriq), translated by me from the hard-to-find Italian translation of Bartolomeo Pirone.  We’re at the end of the 4th century AD, the reign of Theodosius the Great.

6. But let’s return to what we were saying about Theodosius and Theophilus.  Theophilus, the friend of Theodosius, stood for a year at the door [of the palace of the king] without being able to see him.  In fact, every day he went to the door [of the palace] of the king to ask the porters to deliver a written letter to the king, but they had always refused him, rejecting it.  After a year, while King Theodosius was busy praying, that he heard a voice say: “O Theodosius, have you forgotten your friend and companion Theophilus?” Theodosius said: “My Lord, who are you?”  He replied: “I am the man who was with you in the desert.  And as I made you become king, I will make Theophilus become Patriarch.”  Theodosius sent at once to call Theophilus, who came before him, and greeted him.  King Theodosius said: “Believe me, my friend, I had completely forgotten about you and never has the memory of you touched my mind; but yesterday, while I was praying, the man I had seen in the dream called me and made me remember you.” Theophilus answered, “I saw yesterday in a dream a man who told me: “As I made Theodosius become king, so I will make you become patriarch.”  While they were talking thus, in came the chamberlain and said to the king: “The inhabitants of Alexandria have sent their men to tell you that the patriarch Timothy has died and they are looking for a man to make [their] patriarch.”  The king appointed Theophilus Patriarch instantly (10) and sent him to Alexandria.  He held the seat for twenty-eight years and died.  As soon as he arrived in Alexandria, Theophilus tore down the idols that were in the city.  There was, in Alexandria, a large marble slab on which were written three Theta’s and all around them was written: “He who can interpret the meaning of these three Thetas will come into possession of what they conceal.”  Theophilus said: “I will interpret it myself.  The first theta means theos, or God.  The second theta is for the king Theodosius while the third theta is for the Patriarch Theophilus”(11).  He then removed the marble slab and under it there was a lot of money.  He wrote to the king Theodosius making him aware and King Theodosius replied: “Build churches with the money.”  The Patriarch Theophilus did then build a large church in the name of King Theodosius and adorned it all with gold.  He built other churches in Alexandria, including the Church of Martmaryam [i.e., Santa Maria] and the church of Mar Yuhanna [i.e., Saint John].

7. The King Theodosius had two children.  He called the greater Arcadius and the lesser Honorius, and he took great care to find them a tutor.  He sent to ask those of Rome to find him a wise man who could educate his children.  They chose a philosopher named Arsenius (12), and sent him and he became tutor to the children of the king.  One day the king surprised Arsenius in the act of teaching the children while standing, while the children were sitting.  Then he chided him, saying: “Why are you acting in this way?” Arsenius said: “It is so that I can educate your children, O king.”  But the king ordered him to sit and the children to stand in front of him.  Learning what they needed, Arsenius beat Arcadius so violently that he left a mark on the skin, and for this reason Arcadius harbored great resentment against him.  But Arsenius beat him simply so that when he became king after his father, he would remember the pain of the beating when he happened to flog some of his subjects.


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