Fathers of the Church

Letter XLV. to the Patrician Anatolius

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 an influential man 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

Your greatness knows full well how all the inhabitants of the East feel towards your magnificence, as sons feel towards an affectionate father. Why then have you shewn hate to them that love you, deprived them of your kindly care, and driven them all to weeping and lamentation by putting your own advantage before the service of others? In truth I think there is not one of them that fear the Lord who is not much grieved at losing your official sway, and I think that even all the rest, although they have not right knowledge about divine things, when they reflect on the kindnesses you have conferred share in these sentiments of distress. I for my part am specially sorry when I bethink the of your dignity and your unaffected character, and I pray the God of all ever to bestow on you the bulwark of His invincible right hands and supply you with abundance of all kinds of blessings. We beseech your excellency no less when absent than when present to extend to us your accustomed protection, and to undo the rage of that unworthy bishop of ours whose purposes are perfectly well known to your greatness. He is endeavouring, as I am informed, to work the entire ruin of our district, and has accepted the part of an informer to culumniate the recent visitation, and this when all in a word know that the taxation of our district is very heavy, and that in consequence many estates have been abandoned by the husbandmen. But this man, in contempt of his excommunication, and in flight from the holy synod, has thrust out his tongue against the unhappy poor. May your magnificence then consent to look to it that the truth be not vanquished by a lie. And I bring the same supplication about the Cilicians. For we cease not to wail till the iniquity be undone. The Lord, who promises to reward even a drop of water, will requite you for this trouble.

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.