Billeder på siden

tion, or to imagine that the Corinthian Christians, possessing Gospel light, had erred in a point in which their heathen brethren, possessing only the light of nature, had acted correctly. It frees St. Paul from the imputation of using a phraseology, not only ambiguous but defective. It does not without authority introduce a sense not indicated by the Apostle, and then arbitrarily interpret, now in one sense and then in another, the word which he employs; but is consistent throughout, supposes the Apostle to be condemning a practice of far greater importance than the arrangement of a head-dress, and one which, being deeply inconsistent with the social relation of the members of that body of which Christ is the head, deserved his serious and earnest reprobation, and with the evil consequences of which he was so strongly impressed that, having once referred to it in the present passage, the magnitude of the abuse had, while the subject was under his consideration, and while he was writing, developed itself to his mind in all its extent, and led him to recur to it again in a subsequent part of his Epistle, xiv. 34, and to follow up his reasoning against it in the present chapter, and his declaration of its impropriety and opposition to the will of God, as illustrated by even the constitution and law of nature, by the authoritative prohibition, Let your women keep silence in the churches,'-a train of thought and of language consistent not only with the wisdom and candour of an inspired Apostle, but with the natural feelings of every person who has written under similar circumstances.





By Dr. AUG. Neander.

(Read before the Academy of Sciences at Berlin, Aug. 12, 1841.)

Translated by J. E. RYLAND.

THE national revival of the Greeks has an aspect so important on the future, that it imparts a fresh interest to our researches concerning their earlier history, and the labours of those distinguished men who appeared among them in the middle ages. prevailing darkness of that period, some bright spots, here and there, irresistibly attract our notice.

Amidst the

Among these individuals must be ranked the noted compiler of


the Commentary on Homer-Eustathius, Archbishop of Thessalonica, a man eminent not only for his learning, but for his noble character, animated by a wise and temperate zeal for reform, such as the regeneration of the modern Greeks seems to demand. His smaller treatises, published for the first time in 1832 by Professor Tafel of Tübingen, from manuscripts in the libraries of Basle, Paris, and Venice, enable us to form more accurate conceptions of his character, and of his position in relation to his contemporaries. They contain much information respecting the religious and moral state-the ethical history-of the Greeks in the twelfth century. On these points I beg leave to state some particulars. I would gladly have attempted a connected memoir of this eminent man, had the sources of information been sufficient for the purpose. Several valuable contributions to this object, documents of that period, are about to be given to the public by Professor Tafel in an Appendix to his first collection; but they have not yet appeared. The writings of the Archbishop hitherto published contained only scattered allusions to the events of his life, and many things in them require elucidation from other quarters. Of the two Byzantine historians of that age, Joannes Cinnamus and Nicetas of Chonæ, only the latter mentions Eustathius; this he does in two instances with high commendation of his acquirements and general character.

Eustathius, it is well known, flourished in the age of Comnenus, a period in which literary studies were pursued with great ardour. From the account of Bishop Anselm of Havelberg, who was sent to Constantinople as ambassador from the Emperor Lotharius II., it appears that an academy composed of twelve of the most eminent scholars, one of whom acted as president, was at that time in the Byzantine empire the ultimate authority in every department of learning; but this literary tribunal, if its decisions on all disputed questions admitted, as Anselm represents, of no appeal, must have exerted a very depressing influence on mental development. Though the Greeks at that time far surpassed the other nations of Europe in erudition, yet they were deficient in that vital creative power which enabled the latter to produce much greater results from less abundant materials. We find among the learned Greeks no such original and astonishing master-pieces of intellect as those produced by the acuteness and profundity of the schoolmen. Even the writings of Eustathius are marked by the defective discipline in which he had been brought up; in common with the productions of the later Greeks they want a healthy simplicity and a fresh originality; their turgid and artificial style and the accumulation of phrases from the ancient Greeks excite a feeling of disgust and occasion much obscurity.


On two occasions Eustathius took a part in the public transactions of his times, which accounts for his being noticed by the historian Nicetas. The first was under the Emperor Manuel Comnenus, whom he has celebrated in a funeral oration. Although this prince belonged to the better class of the Greek emperors, yet, in common with his predecessors, he was infected with that evil propensity, which made their agency so often injurious both to Church and State the propensity to lord over the religious convictions of their subjects, and to decide on subjects on which they were unable to form an independent, well-grounded judgment. On this point Nicetas justly observes (lib. vii.): Most of the Roman emperors were not satisfied merely with reigning; they looked upon it as great injustice if they were not entrusted with the irreversible decision of divine and human things. They wished to introduce new doctrines-to judge and issue mandates upon them; and often punished those who did not agree with them.' In a more Byzantine spirit Johannes Cinnamus thought, that no one should be allowed to speculate freely respecting the nature of God, except the public teachers of religion, the most distinguished of the priests, and perhaps the civil rulers in virtue of their office.


There was at that time a form of abjuration in use for converts from Mohammedanism to Christianity, which was sufficiently absurd-an anathema on Mohammed with several additions. emperor might indeed have good reason for wishing the adoption of a more intelligent mode of expression; but he attached an exeessive importance to the matter; he pronounced this formula (explaining it in a way no one else had ever thought of) to be blasphemy. He put forth an edict against it, and would make his dictum overrule religious conviction. He thought it would have been ungrateful to God who had invested him with the supreme power, to allow the utterance of the anathema. Bishop Eustathius could not be silent on an occasion when his official position rendered it imperative to speak. He could not approve of the Imperial edict, but expressed himself freely upon it before a synod. The Byzantine emperor, not accustomed to such contradiction, was greatly incensed: he longed to bring Eustathius to trial, and it cost the patriarch of Constantinople much trouble to appease him. Of this emperor Eustathius says in his account of the capture of Thessalonica, § 14 (which contains many partieulars relative to the political events of the age), that at his decease all the prosperity of the Roman empire vanished, as at sunset all nature is covered with darkness. After his death in 1180, Alexius II., an infant, succeeded to the throne. At the head of the government stood the widowed empress, or rather, her paramour,


the Protosebastus Alexius Comnenus. The general dissatisfaction excited by the malpractices of this absolutely vicious administration enabled a member of the Imperial family, himself infamous for his vices, Andronicus, to seize upon the government. The young prince who should have shared it with him, was put to death. Many malcontents of distinction, both Greeks and Latins, assembled in Sicily, and by their influence the enterprise of King William II. against the Greek empire was undertaken. This brought severe misfortunes on the city of which Eustathius was bishop; he shared in those sufferings, and describes them in the narrative mentioned above. The governor of the city was Prince David Comnenius, who, though dissatisfied with the existing state of things, was filled with dread of the tyrant Andronicus; he neither seriously intended to defend the city, nor had courage or ability for it. Eustathius has described the conduct of this man with some degree of tartness. When he saw the catastrophe approaching, he implored the governor, as he tells us, but in vain, to take measures for the rescue of the unfortunate city. His own words are- The enemy pressed us-I pressed him, arguing, reproaching, pointing out his faults, telling him, but to no purpose, what he might have heard from others, had they spoken freely, and if the sad fortunes of the city had not closed their lips.' Eustathius before the commencement of the siege might have secured his own safety, but he considered it his duty not to desert his charge under the impending calamities, and to use his utmost efforts for their relief. Thessalonica was given up to bloodshed and plunder. Fanaticism exasperated the fury of the soldiers, who were accustomed to regard the Greeks as heretics. The havoc was immense, but in scenes of death and pillage the venerable Eustathius appeared as a guardian angel for the unfortunate. His virtues and learning had won for him a reputation which commanded the respect of the Sicilian army, and his imposing personal appearance gave additional weight to his representations and pleadings. By his consolations and exhortations he strove to produce a salutary effect on the sufferers, and amidst all the tumult of military operations continued to hold divine service. Owing, however, to the fanaticism of the Latins who detested the Greek liturgy, this was interrupted, and Eustathius was obliged to apply to the commander of the Sicilian troops, who promised that in future nothing of the kind should happen. In a discourse preparatory to the Fast, he expresses his abhorrence of flattery, and shows how he obtained his end without having recourse to any such means (p. 84, § 35): Even in that woeful period of imprisonment, flattery was revolting to me, and therefore God helped me; for I spoke the truth as it ought to be spoken. And if at

[ocr errors]

times I roused the wrath of those chieftains against me, yet by the dew from above the fire was soon quenched.'


[ocr errors]

After the siege of Thessalonica, under the new ruler, Isaac Angelus, Eustathius read as an invitation to the fast an account of the calamities they had undergone before a public assembly, and made use of it as an exhortation to a reformation of manners. 'Let not the spirit of self-love deceive any one,' he said, as if such calamities had not justly befallen us.' He reproved, on this occasion, the prevailing dissoluteness of manners, especially the envy, slander, and deep-rooted habit of falsehood for which the God of Truth has turned away his face from us,'-the want of genuine friendship, the ingratitude, the hardness of heart which would not excuse a small wrong. When at a later period his fellow-citizens were again in unfortunate circumstances, he endeavoured to animate their hopes by reminding them of their deliverance from their former tribulation, and exhorted them to trust in the God of freedom who was still the same; who at that time when no signs of deliverance appeared, ere three months had elapsed, granted them complete deliverance from their troubles. (p. 75.)

[ocr errors]

It could not fail to happen, that Eustathius by his boldness as a strict censor of morals, would draw on himself the disfavour of many persons in the higher ranks. His language intimates that libels were written upon him and spread as far as Constantinople. He speaks of plots formed against him by his enemies, from which he was delivered, though we know not their precise kind (p. 104). To repel the imputations cast upon him, he was induced to prepare a vindication. Its tone is rather sarcastic. We learn from it the cause of the obloquy that he endured. He was blamed for not paying due regard to the distinction of ranks-for behaving towards the higher classes just as he did to the lower. A man of simple manners, who hated compliments and flattery, who was careful to maintain his devotedness to the cause of religion, might easily lay himself open to such an imputation, especially under the existing relations of Byzantine society. He justified himself partly by alluding to the reverses of fortune in those times; he who stood to-day in great honour, might be to-morrow an object of contempt; a rich man to-day might very shortly become a beggar. Further, it was objected to him that he took no pleasure in the acts of homage and signs of devotion, as they were then practised in an extravagant manner-the genuflections and bands of followers by which men of rank were distinguished. Have I been so long with you,' said he to his fellow-citizens, and yet you do not know me! Have you forgotten what I have said against that ambition which takes a vain delight in parading with



a numerous

« ForrigeFortsæt »