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Fathers of the Church

Letter XLIII. to the Augusta Pulcheria

Description

Theodoret’s letters are a mine of information for the history of the fifth century, of the author’s life and of the history of dogma in general. This large correspondence is distinguished for its unpretentious learning, felicitous diction and perfect grace of style. (Quasten) Here he writes Pulcheria Augusta on behalf of the people of Cyrus, who—partly through the malicious lies of a fallen bishop—are in danger of being ruined by exorbitant taxes.

Provenance

Theodoret of Cyrus (c. 393-466), the wise and zealous bishop of Cyrus, a small town near Antioch, was the last great theologian of the school of Antioch. Although he first considered Alexandrian Christology dangerous, and refused to condemn Nestorius until the Council of Chalcedon, his commitment to the correct doctrine of the Incarnation should not be questioned. As late as the 14th century more than 500 of his letters were extant, of which we still have 232.

by Theodoret in Unknown | translated by Blomfield Jackson

Since you adorn the empire by your piety and render the purple brighter by your faith, we make bold to write to you, no longer conscious of our insignificance in that you always pay all due honour to the clergy. With these sentiments I beseech your majesty to deign to show clemency to our unhappy country, to order the ratification of the visitation which has been several times made, and not to accept the false accusations which some men have brought against it. I beseech you to give no credit to him who bears indeed the name of bishop, but whose mode of action is unworthy even of respectable slaves. He has been himself under serious charges and subject to the bann of excommunication under the most holy and God-beloved archbishop of Antioch, the Lord Domnus, pending the summoning of the episcopal council for the investigation of the charges against him. He has now made his escape, and betaken himself to the imperial city, where he plies the trade of an informer, attacking the country which is his mother country with its thousands of poor, and, for the sake of his hatred to one, wags his tongue against all. Out of regard to what is becoming to me I will say nothing as to his character and education, and indeed he shows only too plainly what he has at present in hand. But of the district I will say this, that when the whole province had its burdens lightened, this portion, although it bore a very heavy share of the burden, never enjoyed the benefit of relaxation. The result is that many estates are deprived of husbandmen; nay, many are altogether abandoned by their owners, while the wretched decurions have demands made on them for these very properties, and, being quite unable to bear the exaction, betake themselves some to begging, and some to flight. The city seems to be reduced to one man, and he will not be able to hold out unless your piety supplies a remedy. But I am in hopes that your serenity will heal the wounds in the city and add yet this one more to your many good deeds.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (NPNF II/III, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.