Palladius of Helenopolis, Historical Dialogue on the Life of John Chrysostom (BHG 870, 870e, 870f; CPG 6037), XVII. 64-72
Λέγεται δὲ τὸ μνῆμα τοῦ μονάζοντος Ἀμμωνίου νόσους τὰς περὶ ῥῖγος ἐλαύνειν· τέθαπται δὲ ἐν τῷ μαρτυρίῳ τῶν Ἀποστόλων πέραν θαλάσσης. ὁ δὲ ἐπίσκοπος Διόσκορος—ὥς φασιν—εὐξάμενος πλεῖστα ἢ εἰρήνην ἰδεῖν τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν ἢ τέλος τὸ ἑαυτοῦ, κατηξιώθη τοῦ τέλους, ἐπειδὴ οὐκ ἦν ἄξιος ὁ κόσμος τῆς εἰρήνης, ταφεὶς ἐν τῷ πρὸ τῆς πύλης μαρτυρίῳ, ὡς τὰς πλείστας τῶν γυναικῶν καταλειψάσας τοῦ μάρτυρος τοὺς ὅρκους, κατὰ τῶν εὐχῶν Διοσκόρου ὀμνύειν.
‘They say that the tomb of Ammonios the monk heals diseases which cause shivering. He was buried at the shrine (martyrion) of the Apostles, which is across the sea. As for the bishop Dioskoros, as they say, he offered many prayers to be granted to see either the peace of the churches or his own end, and was granted his end, because the world did not deserve peace. He was buried at the martyr-shrine (martyrion) which is off the city gate, and, as a result, most of the women have given up invoking the martyr, and now invoke the prayers of Dioskoros.’
Text: Malingrey and Leclercq 1988. Translation: E. Rizos.
Saint NameAmmonios of Kellia, ascetic, ob. 403 : S01263
Dioskoros, monk and bishop of Hermopolis Parva, ob. 402/3 : S01264
Mokios, martyr in Byzantion : S01265
Apostles (unspecified) : S00084
Saint Name in SourceἈμμώνιος
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint
Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)
Evidence not before408
Evidence not after410
Activity not before404
Activity not after410
Place of Evidence - RegionEgypt and Cyrenaica
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcAswan
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Aswan
Major author/Major anonymous workPalladius of Helenopolis
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsVisiting graves and shrines
Cult Activities - MiraclesMiracle after death
Healing diseases and disabilities
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesWomen
Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits
Cult Activities - RelicsBodily relic - entire body
SourceThe Historical Dialogue of Palladios, bishop of Helenopolis, with Theodoros, deacon of Rome, on the Life and Conduct of the blessed John, bishop of Constantinople, called Chrysostom (‘the Golden Mouth’) survives in a single manuscript of the eleventh century (Laurentianus IX.14). There are two critical editions of the text, using different numerations (Coleman-Norton 1928; Malingrey and Leclercq 1988).
The identification of the author of our text with Palladios of Helenopolis, author of the Lausiac History, was doubted in the past, but is now accepted as certain. Born in 364 in Galatia in Asia Minor, Palladios joined monastic communities of Palestine and Egypt. In Egypt, he was associated with the Origenist disciples of Evagrios of Pontus. In c. 399, he left for Constantinople where he became closely associated with John Chrysostom. By AD 400, the latter ordained him as bishop of Helenopolis in Bithynia. Palladios stood by his new protector throughout John’s conflict with Pope Theophilos of Alexandria (401-404) over the affair of the Tall Brothers, former associates of Palladios from Egypt. One year after John’s exile in 404, Palladios visited Rome in order to plead on John’s behalf with Pope Innocent I (401-411). One year later (406), he was exiled to Syene (Aswan), where he received the news of John’s death in Pontus (407) and wrote the Historical Dialogue (in 408 or shortly later).
The Historical Dialogue is one of our main sources of biographical information on Chrysostom and some of his close associates, like Olympias. Its explicitly political and polemical character, however, makes this a special piece of hagiography. Written in 408 or shortly later, amidst the defeat of Chrysostom’s party and under the frustration caused by his recent death, this resentful book portrays its hero as a holy man surrounded by holy ascetics, and dying as a martyr, while demonising his enemies as deranged and vile men acting under the inspiration of the devil for the detriment of the Church. The work has the form of a dialogue between an anonymous eastern bishop and a deacon of Rome named Theodoros, purportedly taking place in Rome. Although the bishop is identified with Palladios in the title, and the setting is perhaps inspired by Palladios’ own visit to Rome in 405, the text is clearly not the actual record of a real meeting. The two discussants are fictitious protagonists of an imaginary visit to Rome by a representative of Chrysostom’s party, who clears John and his associates from all the accusations and rumours circulating about them, denounces Theophilos and his followers, lists those who sided with each of the two parties, and enumerates all those who were exiled or wronged for their support to John – including Palladios himself. The ultimate purpose of the book is to plead with the Church of Rome and Pope Innocent I (401-411) to break their communion with Theophilos and the bishops of the East, until an Ecumenical Council is convoked on the matter – presented as a statement of Theodoros in 20.429-439).
The structure of the text is as follows:
1–4. Prologue and subject of the purported dialogue. Historical context of the conflict in the East.
5–11. The Life of John Chrysostom.
12–19. Defence of John and his closest associates (16.174-17 focusing on the deaconess Olympias and the Egyptian ascetics Ammonios, Hierax, Isaak, and Isaak).
20. Enumeration of the exiled followers of John (including the author himself), and of the bishops siding with Theophilos in Anatolia, Syria, and Palestine. Conclusion.
DiscussionThis passage refers to the two leading figures of the so-called Tall Brothers, a group of Egyptian monks who were excommunicated by the Alexandrian Patriarch Theophilos and resorted to John Chrysostom in Constantinople. The latter offered them his protection, thus causing the hostility of Theophilos.
In his effort to support the innocence of John Chrysostom, Palladios presents the two monks as holy men whose sanctity was proven by their posthumous cult and miracles. Ammonios is also mentioned in Palladios’ Lausiac History (E03316). The passage is also a useful testimony to the fact two important shrines, the probably Constantinian shrine of *Mokios, just outside the Golden Gate of the Constantinian Walls of of Constantinople, and the shrine of the Holy Apostles in Rufinianae, near Chalcedon, were used for the burial of important clergymen. A particularly interesting detail is the fact that women are described as the main worshippers visiting the basilica of Mokios, whose devotions to the martyr were now distracted by the tomb of Dioskoros.
The burials of Ammonios and Dioskoros are also mentioned by Sozomen (see E02729).
Coleman-Norton, P.R., Palladii Dialogus de Vita S. Joannis Chrysostomi (Cambridge, 1928).
Malingrey, A.-M., and Leclercq, P., Palladios: Dialogue sur la vie de Jean Chrysostome (Sources Chretiennes 341; Paris, 1988), with French translation.
Barnes, T. D., and Bevan, G.A., The Funerary Speech for John Chrysostom (Translated Texts for Historians 60; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013).
Meyer, R.T., Palladius: Dialogue on the Life of St. John Chrysostom (Ancient Christian Writers 45; New York: Newman Press, 1984).
Moore, H., The Dialogue of Palladius concerning the Life of Chrysostom (London and New York, 1921).
Schläpfer, L., Das Leben des heiligen Johannes Chrysostomus (Düsseldorf: Patmos, 1966) (German).
Katos, D., Palladius of Helenopolis: The Origenist Advocate (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
Van Nuffelen, P., "Palladius and the Johannite Schism," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 64 (2013), 1-19.