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E01044: Gregory of Nazianzus, in his Letter 58 of 372/373, to Basil of Caesarea, mentions a sermon given by Basil during the festival of the martyr *Eupsychios (martyr of Kaisareia, S00470) at Kaisareia/Caesarea of Cappadocia (central Asia Minor). Written in Greek at Nazianzos (also central Asia Minor).

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posted on 02.01.2016, 00:00 by erizos
Gregory of Nazianzus, Letters (CPG 3032)

Letter 58, to Basil

Many accuse Basil and Gregory himself of heresy or laxity with regard to the faith. During a recent banquet, a man accused publicly Basil of having betrayed the faith by the things he had said, and Gregory by the things he had tolerated. Gregory reports a part of their dialogue:

(6.) —«Πόθεν τοῦτο, ἔφην, ὦ μάταιε σὺ καὶ νέε Δαθὰν καὶ Ἀβειρὼν τὴν ἀπόνοιαν; Πόθεν ἡμῖν ἥκεις δογματιστής; Πῶς σεαυτὸν ποιεῖς τηλικούτων κριτήν;» —«Ἐκ τῆς κατ’ Εὐψύχιον, ἔφη, συνόδου νῦν ἥκω τὸν μάρτυρα»—καὶ γὰρ εἶχεν οὕτως—«κἀκεῖσε ἤκουσα τοῦ μεγάλου Βασιλείου θεολογοῦντος τὰ μὲν περὶ Πατρὸς καὶ Υἱοῦ ἄριστά τε καὶ τελεώτατα καὶ ὡς οὐκ ἄν τις ῥᾳδίως ἄλλος, τὸ Πνεῦμα δὲ παρασύροντος» (……)

‘ "Whence have you got that", I said, "You fool, you young Dathan and Abiram in your madness [Numbers 16.1-40; 26.9-11; Psalm 106.17]? Whence have you emerged to be our tutor? How dare you make of yourself a judge on such matters?" "I have just arrived from the festival of the martyr Eupsychios," he said, and indeed so it was, "And there I heard the great Basil teaching about the Father and the Son, in the most perfect and accomplished way, as no one else would have been able to do easily, but sweeping aside the Spirit (……)" ’

Text: Gallay 1964.
Translation: E. Rizos.

History

Evidence ID

E01044

Saint Name

Eupsychios, martyr in Kaisareia/Caesarea of Cappadocia : S00470

Saint Name in Source

Εὐψύχιος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

372

Evidence not after

373

Activity not before

372

Activity not after

373

Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Nazianzos

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

Nazianzos Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory of Nazianzus

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Sermon/homily

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

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 was addressed to Basil of Caesarea in the early years of the latter’s episcopate, in the context of theological disputes on the divinity of the Holy Spirit. The passage offers a testimony to the importance of the feast of the martyr *Eupsychios in Kaisareia/Caesarea of Cappadocia. The shrine and cult of this martyr were probably organised in the 360s or 370s. From Basil’s own letters we learn that the festival, held on 7 September, was an important occasion, to which several bishops from the neighbouring areas were invited and gave sermons before the numerous pilgrims gathering in the city (see E00772, E00817, E00818, E00819, and E00820). In this case, Gregory refers to a young man who had attended the festival and a sermon of Basil, apparently misinterpreting some of Basil’s arguments.

Bibliography

Text, French translation, and commentary: Gallay, P. (1964). Saint Grégoire de Nazianze, Lettres. Texte établi et traduit. Paris: Les Belles lettres. Further reading: Daley, Brian. Gregory of Nazianzus. London, New York: Routledge, 2006. 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.

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