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Gravitas in the Desert

An Analysis of Selected Letters of Isidore of Pelusium and his Influence on the Secular and
Ecclesiastical Affairs of the Fifth Century CE.

Major Paper
By: Laurent Boivin
Supervisor: George A. Bevan
September 13, 2014

Queen’s University
Table of Contents



1.1 Context and Overview 3
1.2 Aim and Methodology 5



2.1 Early Years 6
2.2 Education
2.3 Pelusium and Retreat into the Desert




3.1 Reasons for Preservation
3.2 First Uses of Isidore and Historical Testimonies17
3.3 Manuscript Tradition 22



4.1 The Usefulness of a Network 24
4.2 Constantinople27
4.3 Alexandria
4.4 The Influence of Isidore at Court
4.5 Cyrenius and Gigantius
4.6 Appeals to Praetorian Prefects of the East




5.1 Social Role of Clerics 44
5.2 Cyril of Alexandria
5.3 John Chrysostom
5.4 The First Council of Ephesus 57
5.5 Isidore’s Theological Stance 59







Acta Conciliorum Oecumenicorum, ed. E. Schwarz.


Consuls of the Later Roman Empire


Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium


Fathers of the Church


Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church


Patrologiae Graeca, ed. J.-P. Migne.


Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire II, ed. J. R. Martindale


Sources chrétiennes


Translated Texts for Historians



his two-volume edition of some of the letters.1 whose output of some two thousand letters has come down to us in the form of short extracts. Although Isidore’s letters have been preserved largely due to the quality of his style and the depth of his knowledge of Scripture. Introduction: 1. the collected correspondences of two major fifth century figures. and even science. P. I. 1997).”2 For example. Isidore is also known for the myriad of subjects on which he could write. Yet this fact has gone largely unnoticed by modern historians studying the 1 Isidore’s letters are referred to in in this essay in accordance with Pierre Évieux’s more recent numbering system. Isidore of Pelusium has long been considered an important Church father not only for the quality of his doctrinal exegesis. The fact that so many letters are associated with this one monk is not surprising in and of itself. For the sake of consistency. which he uses both in his monograph Isidore de Péluse (Paris: Beauchesne.1 Context and Overview: One of the most prolific surviving writers of the fifth century CE was the Egyptian monk Isidore of Pelusium. Synesius of Cyrene and Theodoret of Cyrrhus. Isidore was also a very well-connected holy man during the time of the First Council of Ephesus of 431 CE.With the 2. A Greek Roman Empire: Power and Belief under Theodosius II (408-450) (Berkeley: University of California Press. series Graeca (Paris: Imprimerie catholique. 78 of the Patrologiae cursus completus. 1857-1862) with the corresponding column numbering of the Greek text. This paper begins with an examination of Isidore’s upbringing and education and a review of the manuscript tradition of his letters. rhetoric. given that letter-writing at the time was considered the best way of guaranteeing one’s standing in the community and constituted “the most important vehicle of influence at a distance…. However. Migne in vol. I have also included in parenthesis the original numbering used by J. one aspect of Isidore’s output that needs further study is his correspondence with powerful secular and ecclesiastical officials of the first half of the fifth century CE. An analysis of selections of his correspondence with crucial officials of the empire then follows. besides being a Church father of note. 2006). they also reveal much about his relationship to officials in Constantinople and to the patriarch Cyril in Alexandria during the tumultuous period of the First Council of Ephesus.000 letters that have come down to us under his name. The paper will conclude with the suggestion that. have revealed crucial facets of the daily life of a bishop and the far-reaching nature of their personal contacts. 2 Fergus Millar. philosophy. 33 and 43. 3 . including teaching. as well references to John Chrysostom in relation to Cyril of Alexandria and aspects of Isidore’s theological thinking. 1995) and in Isidore de Péluse: Lettres I/II (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf. but also for the meticulous craftsmanship of his writing.

the contentious bishop of Constantinople. But what was the nature of this conflict that framed Isidore’s epistolary output? In the summer of 431 CE. Fairbairn believes that John and Cyril were not enemies. see Acta Conciliorum Oecumenicorum. judging from the contents of Isidore's letters to local secular and religious officials. all the evidence points to the fact that Isidore was a very well-connected holy man and that his letters allow us to paint a portrait of some important officials in both the local and the wider conflicts around the years 431-433 CE. Adam and Charles Black.D. with most studies focussing instead on his knowledge of Christian and Hellenic learning.N. as well as letters to influential individuals at court in Constantinople and to Cyril during and after the Council of Ephesus of 431 CE.3 Thus. as yet. 321. 154-155. bishops of different parts of the Eastern empire assembled at Ephesus to begin deliberating the fate of Nestorius.fifth century CE.” Fairbairn. 1914-1922) and A. Kelly. ed. bishop of Alexandria (412-444 CE). 4 For a published edition of proceedings of the council’s sessions. Kenneth Holum. 4 Over the short span of his episcopate (428-431 CE). himself leading a campaign against Nestorius and his allies. and as they recognised this fundamental agreement between themselves.6 held the counter view that “in Christ the Divine Word voluntarily debased Himself and made human flesh His Own so that He could suffer and overcome death. by E. Isidore de Péluse (1995). Nestorius incurred the antipathy of a number of bishops from Egypt for preaching that Mary could not be considered theotokos. See Donald Fairbairn. J. in which John asks Nestorius to carefully consider the propositions of Cyril and Pope Celistine. Schwartz (Berlin and Leipzig: Walter De Gruyter. 311. the only extensive modern study of Isidore is Évieux. “Allies or Merely Friends? John of Antioch and Nestorius in the Christological Controversy.5 Cyril.” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 58:3 (2007).” 3 Pierre Évieux. or “Mother of God. Rather. 4 . Festugière Éphèse et Chalcédoine: actes de conciles (Paris: Beauchesne. 383-399. they were able to be reconciled in 433. Évieux has also translated in 1997 a limited selection of the letters in a two volume collection published in the collection Sources chrétiennes as volumes 422 and 454 respectively. 1982). 5 J.” since it was impossible. 1958). that a human being could give birth to the divine Son of God.” Recherches de Science Religieuses 64 (1976). 397. 1982). Theodosian Empresses: Women and Imperial Dominion in Late Antiquity (Berkeley: University of California Press. 6 Donald Fairbairn has recently proposed that the classic view of Nestorius and John of Antioch being close allies against Cyril must be revised. but rather theological allies. This would thus rule out the idea that either Cyril of John backed down in order to accept the Formula of Reunion in 433 CE. “John and Cyril stood together in insisting on the birth of God and the Logos from Mary. Based on a letter from John to Nestorius dating to 430 CE. Early Christian Doctrines (London. “Isidore de Péluse: état des recherches. in his view. “John of Antioch”.

with particular attention paid to three geographical locations: Alexandria. 1. Praetorian Prefect of the East (432-433 CE). bishop of Alexandria. 161. 5 . Another section will provide a short examination of the manuscript tradition of the Isidore’s letters. Attention will be paid to Isidore’s relationship to important players both in the Church and in the imperial administration. 310. 419 to Hermogenes. 8 The letters in question are Epp.2 Aim and Methodology: This essay proposes to examine a selection of important letters of Isidore of Pelusium that relate to secular and ecclesiastical matters in the thirty years before and up to the time of the First Council of Ephesus (i. showing the possible route Isidore followed in gaining his experience and in establishing some of his early acquaintances. 178 and 489 to Rufinus. Epp.7 The debate raged on until partisans of the two sides met and confronted each other at Ephesus in 431 CE. 486 to Florentius. 323. Ep. where Cyril was able to arrange by underhanded means the quick condemnation and deposition of Nestorius in the latter’s absence. the imperial court in Constantinople. 7 Holum. 370 to Cyril. Epp. Praetorian Prefect of the East (428-429 CE). Theodosian Empresses. as some in Constantinople seemed to believe. The bulk of the essay will then be devoted to analyzing a handful of the most important letters and to establishing connections between Isidore and different secular and ecclesiastical officials. 324. A presentation of Isidore’s early career will begin this survey. the seat of the patriarch Cyril. from 400 CE to 431 CE). 35 and 311 to Emperor Theodosius II. bishop of Rhinocorura.which precluded any suggestion that Christ had two distinct divine and human natures. 8 Isidore’s opinion of John Chrysostom in relation to Cyril of Alexandria and his uncle Theophilus will also be examined and a presentation provided of Isidore’s theological thought. Ep. and Isidore’s local community of Pelusium.e.

Bishop (Grand Rapids. Given the nature of their relationship in regards to the highly charged events around the first council of Ephesus. Golden Mouth. 6 . one is left to conclude that Isidore lived to quite an advanced age. PG 78. 286-288. 308. and that he was born some time after John Chrysostom. the official list of individuals commemorated in the liturgy. Isidore de Péluse. 12 Évieux.N. Kelly.224. Isidore de Péluse. it would have been remarkable had Isidore not mentioned Cyril’s death were he to have outlived the bishop.D. 204. who was bishop of Pentapolis from 411 to 413 CE. 9 Pierre Évieux. MI: Baker Books.152. Biography: 2.II.1 Early Years: It is impossible to pinpoint with any certainty when or where Isidore was born. since Isidore does not mention the death of Cyril in 444 CE in any of his extant letters. Preacher. 4. possibly into his 70s. Isidore states that he rejoices in the fact that he was born after John Chrysostom. If one assumes then that Isidore was a direct contemporary of Synesius. 1777 (= 4. 11 Ep. 1317 C). J. let us say 360 CE at the earliest. 10 while in another11 he describes in detail the events that led to John’s deposition in 403 CE at the hands of Theophilus. 284 D-285 A). 10 Ep.12 Since John Chrysostom’s birth is said to have occurred roughly between the years 349/350 CE. 2000). it can be supposed that he must have died sometime before 444 CE. 152 (= 1. As we will see.13 one can posit that Isidore was born around the middle of the fourth century. the then bishop of Alexandria. 13 Kelly. This latter information might mean Isidore was mature enough to know of these events when John was rehabilitated and Cyril of Alexandria consented in 418 CE to inscribing John’s name on the diptychs. PG 78. Likewise. 9 In one letter. there is also a possibility that Isidore had corresponded with Synesius of Cyrene. Golden Mouth: The Story of John Chrysostom – Ascetic.

Pierre Canivet). orators of Latin. sophists of Greek. 116-117. the ability to defend oneself with knowledgeable arguments delivered in an erudite manner was an asset. and he would often discourse with the bishops on scriptural subjects.17 In 425 CE Theodosius also established.71 (SC 57.15 One’s level of Greek could also either be a liability to one’s reputation among colleagues or serve as a sort of defence by confusing enemies. 20-38. 1994).2 Education: However central religious training was for the education of an ecclesiastic or a secular official in the fifth century. 2011). together with his sisters. than even Ptolemy Philadelphus had formerly been. piety was linked with victory – and both were associated with law. In a society where the smallest word could spark empire-wide theological controversy.” Jill Harries. A.1. Adam Schor. 17 Harries. Greek Roman Empire. Theodoret’s People. 43. 2002).C. Theodoret of Cyrrhus: The Bishop and the Holy Man (Anne Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.” Socrates. and recited responsive hymns in praise of the Deity. ed. a good understanding of the classics and their linguistic style remained valuable skills.22 (164. See also Theresa Urbainszyk. as if he had been ordained a priest of long standing. It therefore comes as no surprise that.” 37. to get ahead in the fifth century CE. 16 15 Millar. Theodoret of Cyrrhus wrote a lot on the usefulness of Classical Greek in formulating arguments. trans. Learning and culture were for example important personal pursuits of Theodosius II. NPNF. Zenos). HE 7. 16 “He rendered his palace little different from a monastery: for he. professorial chairs of grammatici.16 while the empress Eudocia. trans. education and culture remained just as valuable an asset as in the early empire. “Pius Princeps. He was a more indefatigable collector of the sacred books and of the expositions which had been written on them. and professors of Law and 14 Theodoret of Cyrrhus. the daughter of a Sophist.2. 4th-13th centuries. was an enthusiastic poet and influenced the emperor’s interest in scholarship and writing. Cure for Hellenic Maladies 5. culture and scholarship were all encouraged. in a special section of the capital. 7 .” in New Constantines: the Rhythm of Imperial Renewal in Byzantium. rose early in the morning. at the emperor’s court “piety. “Pius Princeps: Theodosius II and Fifth-Century Constantinople. Paul Magadalino (Aldershot: Ashgate. Thus. By this training he learnt the holy Scriptures by heart. Social Networks and Religious Conflict in Late Roman Syria (Berkeley: University of California Press.14 It has also been shown in recent studies that good communication skills in either Greek or Latin was crucial for distant communication with officials and for establishing vast social networks.

Prelates and bishops thus also became especially adept in the fourth century CE at explaining and spreading the meaning of the Scriptures. preferred to see words like pagan and Christian in a cultural.72-75. J. familiarity with the writings of Homer. 22 Millar. Parmenides. 673. 1993). 23 Alan Cameron and Jacqueline Long. The Last Pagans of Rome (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 357. since “as former rhetors and men of law. Plato.” in Later Greek Literature. as the upper classes of the empire turned Christian over the course of the fourth century. 1.philosophy. 2 of The Bible in Ancient Christianity (Leiden: Brill.24 18 Alan Cameron. 19 Similarly. Menander.20 As Alan Cameron states. In other words. and Fr. it was important that the Church of this period should foster this type of education in order to fill the bishoprics with men who could adequately compete with representatives of the imperial administration who were highly educated. Barbarians and Politics at the Court of Arcadius (Berkeley: University of California Press. For various citations by Theodoret of Classical authors. 6. 1982). Cure for Hellenic Maladies 1. 26. see Theodoret of Cyrrhus. HE 3. such as for example. vol. Herodotus. trans. What we misleadingly call ‘pagan’ culture fulfilled an overwhelmingly social function. Greek Roman Empire.18 With all this in mind. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. rather than religious. Egypt in Late Antiquity (Princeton.22 Indeed. 21 Alan Cameron. 20 Roger S. 1993). 287.10-13. they resisted attempts to completely do away with their shared Classical inheritance.”21 Thus. “the traditional [pagan educational] system had the irreplaceable practical advantage of having established standards that were accepted in every corner of the Roman world. sense. Euripides. p. it nonetheless shows the wide range of Hellenic knowledge that its author had acquired. 19 Cameron. Williams. SC 57. Bagnall. such as Themistius and Synesius.” Charles Kannengiesser. 67-69.1). NPNF. and thereby considered that both words were not mutually exclusive. Handbook of Patristic Exegesis. NJ: Princeton University Press. 5. ed.16-18 (ed. 88). 2011). Pierre Canivet. 2. 24 Christian nobles would study the classics “with a view to improve themselves in eloquence and to strengthen and polish their mind…to enable them to refute the errors of the heathen. trans.16 (Eng. “The Empress and the Poet”. 104.” Socrates. Winkler and G.21. Demosthenes. Zenos. 23 The historian Socrates addresses the question of Christian education in his Ecclesiastical History as intrinsically linked to pagan learning. and Empedocles. Pythagoras. fusion of the two could only but help improve one’s competitive edge over 8 . many of [them] were able to find the language to foster spirituality and to encourage values thanks to the higher education they had received in their youth. although Theodoret’s Therapeutic of Hellenic Maladies is critical of aspects of the Classics. some authors of influence.4-6. 2004). “The Empress and the Poet: Paganism and Politics at the Court of Theodosius II. 285.

648. 1248 B). 1486 (= 5. PG 78.162. Apology (Ep.” 166. 1275 (= 4. PG 78. such as Homer. 1311. Bartelink.162. 692 B). Isidore calls Demosthenes “the chief head of Greek rhetors. such as Phaedo (Epp. 1500 D-1501 A). and even Xenophon. 1152 A-D).279.30. 709 D). 1336 A). 866 (= 3. 779 (= 2. PG 78.128.” Vigiliae Christianae 18:3 (1964).203. 628 (= 2. 457 B-460 A) 30 Ep. 31 Isidore also does not shy away from lauding adversaries. PG 78. ). Demosthenes. PG 78. 1580 (= 5. PG 78.201. 1381 D).149. 604 A). 27 Bayer. 779). 1153 A). than not to speak at all and be blamed for it. Timaeus (Epp. 881 (= 3. It is better to follow the style of Demosthenes and not be heard. PG 78. PG 78. 1362 (= 5.27 In one letter to the bishop Alphius (Ep.266. PG 78. 1322 (= 5. 1486).202.281. Plato Epp. 881. 1275 (= 4. and Phaedrus (Epp. PG 78.81. 757 (= 2.3. 31 G.” and later on in the same letter quotes Josephus. PG 78. 1369 B). 1233 (= 5. see Epp. PG 78. 573 A). 9 . Aristotle.257. while to the monk Primus (Ep. PG 78. 788 B-789 D).85. thinks Isidore. 1311 (= 5. 28 Ep.91. PG 78. 97-100.M.30 he speaks of the importance of good communication style: the best Christian ought to combine the philosophy of Christ with the expression of pagan wisdom.477. 1580).64. For individual letters referenced.98. since elegance of language of the latter can also help the faithful in their quest for supernatural wisdom. 1492 B). 1592).91. 503 (= 2. 645 D). PG 78. PG 78. 757).73. Isidors von Pelusium. Isidore also regularly quotes from specific Platonic Dialogues. 1422 (= 5. 26 Ep. 1592 (= 4. 703 (= 2. 1603 C). 1697 (= 4. Epp. PG 78. PG 78. Gorgias (Ep. Isocrates. 1601 (= 5.66. 775 C). PG 78.25 In Ep. 703. Isidors von Pelusium. 1453 C). 1601). Isocrates Epp. 1697 (= 4. Plato. See also for individual examples of Demosthenes Epp. 1031 C). “Observation stylistiques et linguistiques chez Isidore de Péluse.29 Isidore recommends that he read the best pagan works available. 503). 1618 (= 4. PG 78.146.Did Isidore’s education follow the same path as that of those in the elite? An examination of the correspondence of Isidore reveals in fact that the monk did indeed possess a good understanding of classical greats. 1453 A) 29 Ep. 1364 C). 1487 (= 5.148. PG 78.26 As Leo Bayer has shown. Thus. the best style is that which uses Attic clarity and simplicity to explain difficult Christian principles. 28 Isidore remarks that present-day speeches of religious officials tend to copy the rhetorical style of Sophists in order solely to captivate their audience. 648 (=2. 1248 C). 1275). 592 B). To the lector Timothy (Ep. 25 Bayer. PG 78.17.J. 646 (= 2. PG 78. 49-61.1832 (= 5. 1145 C). PG 78. Xenophon. PG 78.

PG 78. who pursued a glorious career in the imperial administration. 68. Golden Mouth. Isidore argues. 33 Ep. 542 (= 2. believed this was possible. 749 D-753 A). so must Domitius himself. 6. in Ep. ὅτι εἰ Παῦλος ὁ θεσπέσιος Ἀττικὴὶν εἴλὴφει γλῶτταν – ὥστε ἑαυτοὶν ἑρμὴνεῦσαι. 90 n. 36 Ep. ἢ ὡς ὁ προειρὴμένος ἀοίδιμος ἀνήρ. 1031 C).33 A good classical education also provided the Christian elite with a better understanding of the Scriptures. One should also note that many individuals who rose to prominence in the administration of the empire were well versed in both Christian doctrine and Hellenic culture. there would have been no need for a Homily. Paul had written like Chrysostom. In another letter. 1255. PG 78. 1255 (= 5.35 Isidore contends that those knowledgeable in Homer will know that the meaning of the word changes entirely depending on the accented syllable. To refute this claim. who in a previous letter had stated that the concept of the Kerygma.34 For example. Isidore gives a long explanation to the grammaticus Ophelius of the change in meaning of the words πρωτοτόκος and πρωτότοκος as they appear both in the Scriptures and in Homer.32 In Ep. PG 78.42. even to the point of quoting a letter of Libanius praising Chrysostom’s style. οὐκ ἂν ἄλλως ἡρμήνευσεν. 35 Ep. 1348 A): Οἶμαι γάρ. is not possible.30. Isidors von Pelusium.32. Isidore cites Odyssey 22. So. Isidore states that he is in such awe at the splendour of the Attic Greek found in Chrysostom’s Homilies on Romans that if only St. in which the poet Phemius grasps the knees of Odysseus and proclaims that the god inspired him to sing to humans. PG 78. which is the proclamation of the Divine message through a human intermediary. Taurus Cyrus. 347. Pretorian Prefect of the East in 439 CE and 32 Ep. who happens to be Domitius’ favourite poet. A good example of the importance of a grounded Christian/Hellenic training is provided by Isidore’s contemporary Fl.31. 34 Bayer. if even Homer. καιὶ μή τίς με προὶς χάριν λέγειν νομιζέτω. 831(= 3. 831. 10 . 484 C-485 C). becoming City Prefect of Constantinople in 426 CE. 1592 (= 4.the style and Atticisms of a previous master like John Chrysostom. Kelly.36 Isidore again uses Homer in response to the comes Domitius.

and where his Christian training would have been indispensable.42 The reality was therefore that monks. priests. 31. as was suggested above. ὅτι ἔκραξαν περιὶ Κύρου καιὶ μεταὶ Κωνσταντίνου αὐτοὶν ἔκραξαν. Chron. Kambylis. the accusation of Paganism was used as a scapegoat in order to condemn Cyrus. but rather because of Theodosius’ jealousy of him. were fortunate to find themselves a stable clientele in large centres. 281. Huebner. Cyrus was immersed in the Classics and Christian doctrine. 38 Maria Dzielska. Theodosian Empresses. 40 Holum. Keydell (Berlin: Walter De Gruyter. Beck. in the Thebaid region of Egypt. Taurus Seleucus Cyrus 7. και ὶ ἦρξεν ἔχων ταὶς δύο ἀρχαὶς ἔτὴ τέσσαρα. 190. but often arose from the cultured social elite. and even bishops. Chronographia. As Malalas makes clear in the above citation. 2009): 173. and R.37 Born in Panopolis. 14.43 Perhaps. of course. p. eds. John Malalas. και ὶ προσφυγωὶν ἐγένετο και ὶ αὐτοὶς παπᾶς. On this subject. Trans. See also PLRE 2. Lyra (Cambridge. 44 Teachers of the likes of Hypatia in Alexandria and Libanius in Antioch in the fourth century CE. Eudocia made sure that he held the position of Prefect of the East for almost four years. ἐπέμφθὴ εἰς τὴὶν Φρυγίαν. “The Empress and the Poet. 282). 2000). ed. by F. 41 Καιὶ ἐχόλεσεν ὁ βασιλεύς. John Malalas. 39 As an admirer of Cyrus’ poetry. Beck. by Andrew Cain and Noel Lenski (Burlington VT: Ashgate. since his hometown was a local centre of both Hellenic culture and Christian monasticism.16 (eds.38 Cyrus’ popular measures include introducing street-lighting in the capital and the carrying out of various building programs. “Currencies of Power: the Venality of Offices in the Later Roman Empire. Hypatia of Alexandria.16. 39 Ὁ δεὶ αὐτοὶς βασιλευὶς προεβάλετο ἔπαρχον πραιτωρίων καιὶ ἔπαρχον πόλεως τοὶν πατρίκιον Κῦρον τοὶν φιλόσοφον. MA: Harvard University Press. where he continued his benevolent ministrations and wrote hagiographies to while away the time. ἄνδρα σοφώτατον ἐν πᾶσι. Isidore received this training in Alexandria itself.” in The Power of Religion in Late Antiquity. Les Étudiants de 11 . A. Many of Isidore’s letters do 37 PLRE 2. 14. 41 It should also be added that the reason for the emperor’s displeasure in him was not because Cyrus had expressed pagan leanings in a Christian court. Kambylis. ἐπίσκοπος γενάμενος εἰς τοὶ λεγόμενον Κοτυάειον. 42 Cameron. see Paul Petit. 43 Sabine R. 40 In 441 CE the emperor expressed his displeasure with Cyrus and after accusing him of Paganism forced him to become bishop of Cotyaeum in Phrygia.44 although it is impossible to know for sure. 338. προϊωὶν εἰς τὴὶν καρούχαν τοῦ ἐπάρχου τῆς πόλεως και ὶ φροντίζων τῶν κτισμάτων και ὶ ἀνανεώσας πᾶσαν Κωνσταντινούπολιν· ἦν γαὶρ καθαριώτατος. 336-339: Fl. p.G. 1996). and Keydell. ὡς ἀνανεώσαντα τὴὶν πόλιν· και ὶ κατεσκευάσθὴ λοιποὶν και ὶ ἐπλάκὴ ὡς Ἕλλὴν ὁ αὐτοὶς Κῦρος. και ὶ ἐδὴμεύθὴ παυθει ὶς τῆς ἀρχῆς.consul in 441 CE. did not all come from religious backgrounds or from poor milieus with no better option to offer them. H.” 269.

1979). all elements one can associate with Alexandria and its celebrated schools. Millar. 619). 1436 A-1437 B). Indeed. 1543). PLRE 2. 50 In Epp. 6-8. this subject had already been treated in a previous work of his entitled Against Pagans (now lost). Isidore describes to Harpocras and Ophelius respectively the correct way of educating young budding rhetors. A Greek Roman Empire.testify to his being acquainted with grammaticoi and sophists. 65.45 The grammaticii Hermeias. 47 For a list of the individual letters to sophists.191. Ep. which suggests a close affinity between the two men.228. 48 Epp. correct epistolary style (Ep. 560 B-C).47 Ophelius asks Isidore about different subjects. 704 A-B) respectively. Libanius (Paris: Nouvelles éditions latines. 1480 C-D).48 In one letter to the doctor Dorotheus (Ep. 119. and even cosmology (Ep. PLRE 2. 49 Ep. and Ophelius receive thirty-two letters altogether. 547: Hermeias 2. 51 Ep. Nicomedia.133. 1475).46 and the sophists Asclepius and Harpocras thirty-eight. 1652 (= 5. 1401 (= 5. PLRE 2. 1404 B). that if these learned individuals were not once schoolmates of Isidore’s. see the following entries: PLRE 2. According to Isidore. 664 D-665 A). where he cemented his reputation as a sophist and rhetor and where remained for the rest of his life. PG 78. 1957). 1469 (= 5. PG 78.273. 33: Agathodaemon. 1637 A). see the following entries: PLRE 2. 728 (= 2. 45 Évieux. 773 (= 2. 1529 C-D) 12 . 806: Ophelius 1. including philosophy (Ep. Nilus. 2004).185. PG 78. 1401). then at the very least they were close associates that respected and valued his education. 619 (= 2. and Constantinople before returning to the city of his birth in 354 CE. 1475 (= 5. Lettres I. Scott Bradbury. 1445 C-1448 A). 773). Libanius himself was forced to spend the years from 340 to 353 CE teaching abroad in Nicaea. in one letter Isidore comments on the fact that Harpocras uses Homer in defense of divination.49 Isidore delves into notions that echo early Greek science. grammar (Ep. 163: Asclepius 4. 46 For a list of the individual letters to gramaticii.558. 528: Harpocras 2. 1979 (= 5. and of possessing knowledge of medicine and physics. PLRE 2. Agathodaemon.119. therefore. 1469 and 1652. introduction to Selected Letters of Libanius: from the Age of Constantius and Julian (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. biology (Ep. 784: Nilus 1. 50 Ep.245. 96-98.317. 1543 (= 5.51 One is tempted to speculate. which shows that Isidore could very well argue against pagan criticisms of Christian doctrine using educated argumentation. The Sophist Harpocras himself receives a total of twenty-eight letters.

57 Perhaps Isidore. Hypatia did not seem to discriminate between pagans and Christians in her associations. 54 Brown. was once a member of Hypatia’s entourage and became a priest at some point while in Alexandria. Lacombrade. and trans.56 Since Synesius spent the years 392-393 CE in Alexandria under the tutelage of Hypatia. To be sure. See also Christian Lacombrade. 55 Another possible hint of this link is in Synesius’ letter to Herculian (Ep. 42 .52 In Ep. 138-139. Synesius of Cyrene. Cameron and Long. 54 Although Synesius never actually mentions Isidore in his letters. suggests that perhaps the two did know each other and that the Pelusian was aware of the problems his colleague was facing in his city. Synésios de Cyrène. 185. ed.There is perhaps a further possibility. 1982). 57 Dzielska. 1901). and admits to being one of her hetairoi in his letters. Ep. stating that service to God helps one counter enemy phalanxes. 144 in Synésios de Cyrène: Correspondance. WI: University of Wisconsin Press. Synesius of Cyrene (Berkeley: University of California Press.53 It would be tempting to imagine this Synesius as being the Synesius already mentioned. who was a contemporary of Synesius. 19.232. 288. 2000). Isidore’s style has been favourably compared to that of Synesius. whose classical training is well-attested and who spent time studying with Hypatia. in which the bishop asks him to salute their mutual companion the deacon. Synésios de Cyrène. and it is thus entirely possible that the deacon Isidore 52 W.. In fact. 325 C-D). 232. 55 Évieux. 232 (= 1.. Jay Bregman. S. Isidore de Péluse. the subject of Isidore’s letter and the fact that the only known bishop by the name of Synesius that existed during Isidore’s lifetime is the bishop of Ptolemaïs. Power and Persuasion: Towards a Christian Empire (Madison. 56 Πρόσειπέ μοι τοὶν ἱεροὶν ἑταῖρον τοὶν διάκονον. the celebrated scientist and teacher. given the nature and extent of Isidore’s early education: if he did spend some time in Alexandria. Hypatia of Alexandria. PG 78. 53 Ep. hellène et chrétien.. Barbarians. 1992). 55 n. 14. 78. Isidore writes to a certain bishop Synesius. tome 3. even when one is surrounded by those very enemies. who as bishop organized the defence of Pentapolis against nomadic tribes. Crawford. Les Belles Lettres. 1951). Synesius the Hellene (London: Rivingtons. 54 13 . 144). one might be tempted again to see Isidore in this deacon. by Denis Roques (Paris. it is conceivable that he may have studied with Hypatia. (Paris: Les Belles Lettres. 54.

ἀλλ᾽οὐ ταὶ Ἰὴσοῦ Χριστοῦ ὀρθοδόξως ζὴτοῦντα.. which concerns violence against women and the evils of bodily harm. καιὶ τοὶν εὐδαίμονα χοροὶν τοὶν ἀπολαύοντα τῆς θεσπεσίας αὐδῆς. 36-39. 2000). 5 in Synésios de Cyrène: Correspondance. 63 Ἄσπασαι τὴὶν σεβασμωτάτὴν καιὶ θεογιλεστάτὴν φιλόσοφον. Les Belles Lettres. 18. 61 Festugière.63 Isidore therefore is possibly writing to the same Evoptius who replaced Synesius as bishop of 58 Bregman. As Dzielska notes. tome 2 (Paris. 715 is addressed to a bishop Evoptius. however. Socrates reports that Hypatia had frequent meetings with Orestes.14-15 (Eng. 310 (= 1. p. Hypatia’s circle of acquaintances did in fact include Evoptius. HE 7. since his brother Synesius mentions their relationship with her in a letter. 61 It is thus possible that Isidore did know the Evoptius who was present at Ephesus.62 If Isidore did indeed spend some time in his youth studying the Classics at Alexandria. the content of the letter. 656 D-657 C). trans. 27-28. Synesius of Cyrene. Ἀδελφιδοῦς ἐστι. Last of the Pagans.” Dzielska. μιμούμενος ἐκείνου τὴὶν γνώμὴν. determine their number or the duration of their studies with her. indicate that it could have been addressed to any such Evoptius. 194 62 Ep. 310 that he is aware of the private talk going on behind Cyril’s back at the Council. PG 78. 60 Ep. 361 C): Πολλοιὶ γάρ σε κωμῳδοῦσι τῶν συνειλεγμένων εἰς Ἔφεσον. ὡς οἰκείαν ἀμυνόμενον ἔχθραν. Synesius of Cyrene to Evoptius. since (as we will see) he tells Cyril of Alexandria in Ep. Zenos. “the dearth of ancient sources makes it impossible to identify all Hypatia’s students. he may have gone to see some of his old classmates before or after the council in 431 CE in order to sound out Cyril’s allies. There is the possibility that Isidore also knew Evoptius.59 Other particulars allow for even more speculation on this front.215. 58 Indeed.spent some time at her side. Hypatia of Alexandria. since. members of the Christian elite thought a good grounding in Classical culture was a professional asset. φασι. See also Dzielska. PG 78. Hypatia of Alexandria. Indeed.. Although Ep. Éphèse et Chalcédoine. that Evoptius of Ptolemaïs was present at Ephesus in 431. or assert with certainty the spiritual values and relations that bound them. lay Christians did not have access to a Christian education that was separate from the pagan school system. See Socrates. 7. 14 . the brother of Synesius and also bishop of Ptolemaïs after the latter’s death around 413. Ep. 60 We know.. who was himself a Christian.ὶ Θεοφίλου. 160). 59 Cameron. despite being an outspoken Christian. 715 (= 2. listed as number 110 at the meeting of 22 June. 24.310. as already stated above. NPNF.

24.64 As such. G. were later on again subdivided into further sets of two. possess facts about the city that became associated with Isidore’s name and its early role in the empire.” Le Monde de la Bible 82 (1993): 26-27. they were once again separated and called Augustamnica and Aegyptus in 341 CE. jud. located in the area around the eastern edge of the Nile Delta.654 respectively (Eng. In 315 CE the area around the Delta was subdivided into two more provinces. this must remain at the level of speculation. of course.66 From his letters. Carrez-Maratray. 2. if Isidore did indeed study in Alexandria in his early days. without further firm evidence.A. basking in luxury. 64 The old province of Egypt was first divided into smaller provinces in 297 CE by Diocletian. 15 .3 Pelusium and Retreat into the Desert: There is very little in terms of information available to us that concerns Isidore’s early life before he possibly arrived in Pelusium (assuming. The Cities of the Eastern Roman Provinces (Oxford: Clarendon Press. Furthermore. “Péluse. 1971). Hadrian in 130. Josephus. Aegyptus Herculia in the East and Aegyptus Jovia in the West.Ptolemaïs and who was present at the Council of Ephesus of 431 CE. 66 J. that he was not born there).M. After being re-merged in 324 CE. A. Jones. pp.Y. la grande cité oubliée du delta. it can be plausibly suggested that. trans. if one assumes that Isidore was around twenty years old at the time. Pierre Évieux. however. such as those of Vespasian in 70. Isidore accuses them of cupidity. Penguin. Bel. one gleans that he became sickened by the actions of the prominent secular officials of there. and Diocletian in 298. 1.H. 65 Josephus mentions Pelusium as a stronghold falling to Mithridates of Pontus after the death of Pompey in 48 BCE and later on as a resting place for Titus’ army during the Jewish War of 70 CE. this would narrow down our date for his birth to around 370 CE. introduction to Isidore de Péluse: Lettres I. Williamson. Like many regional centres of its time. the city long represented the eastern gateway to central Egypt. 52 and 286). 65 It witnessed over time imperial delegations passing through its gates. 336. using violence. including Augustamnica. as well as pilgrims and intellectuals alike who made their way West to Alexandria.187 and 4. Although. Pelusium was a relatively small city that served as capital of Augustamnica I. We do. All of these provinces. he may well have known both Synesius and his brother as a member of Hypatia’s circle.

72 See Epp. καιὶ ἆρον τοὶν σταυροὶν. 70 Isidore may also have been acting in opposition to a popular monastic movement at the time. 364 C-D). even urging others to follow in his footsteps and “flee. subsisting on the charity of others and offering their services as daylabourers and in the law courts. 1408 B).” 69 so that while away from all the corruption and intrigues.selling Church property. 173 (= 1. in which monks moved back into the cities to make a living. Begging Monks: Spiritual Authority and the Promotion of Monasticism in Late Antiquity (Berkeley: University of California Press. PG 78. 16 . 208 C). PG 78. but also to praise.4.572 C). PG 78. Wondering. the style of his Greek and his handling of Scripture alone would justify this preservation. 627 (= 2.140. 71 Daniel Caner. 69 Brown. reassure.314.1052 C-1053 A). 204. “Isidore lived with one foot in the desert and the other firmly planted in his city. 67 Perhaps that was why he eventually decided to move into the desert. 2002). 68 Ep.”72 III. 1915 (= 4. Évieux speculates that 67 See Epp. 1449 A). PG 78. That the letters themselves did not disappear but were preserved by monks over the centuries testifies to the fact that Isidore was viewed as an important Christian authority. 341 B): Ἄρνὴσαι σαυτοὶν.12. and inspire. Power and Persuasion. he could at the same time use his authority as priest and holy monk to criticize and reprimand. PG 78. 314 (= 1.71 Isidore talks of these monks in some letters. 1409 (= 5. Lettres I. Manuscript Tradition: 3. 246 (= 1. As already stated.”68 As Peter Brown puts it. 41 (= 1.246. 106. PG 78. 1332 B-C). PG 78.196. it is significant that evidence of these now lost collections goes back to only about 100 years after his death. 70 Évieux. 1480 (= 5. 1228 (= 5. and using their elevated social positions for their own personal gain. καιὶ φεῦγε ὡς ἐγώ.173.127. 565 A. PG 78.1 Reasons for Preservation: Although the existence of the first collections of Isidore’s letters can only be ascertained from the testimony of those that consulted them at the time.41. describing their journeys in order to “fill their bellies. 140. 296 B-C). PG 78.

74 This has led some scholars to suspect the genuineness of the letters.76 But this argument neglects the reality that many of Isidore’s addressees were officials who really existed. when some of the letters became of use to the anti-Chalcedonians. Indeed. the picture becomes clearer at the beginning of the century after Isidore’s death.probably not long after Isidore’s death.” 325.” The Harvard Theological Review 47 (1954). it had long been the practice at the time to select and gather letters of different ecclesiastics consisting of exegetical commentaries. Lettres I. arguing that since many of the fragments consist of short sayings from other authors and long doctrinal and rhetorical discourses. 46-48 for a good summary of the historical background. 106. such as the Prefect Rufinus and Hermogenes of Rhinocorura. 207. they must have been the work of a monk who collected fragments together under the pseudonym of Isidore of Pelusium. not to mention that the contents of the letters are also consistent with the context of particular fifth century events surrounding the First Council of Ephesus. 77 See Évieux. 105. “État des recherches. spiritual advice.2 First Uses of Isidore and Historical References to his Existence: Regardless of the reasons for the letters’ very first stages of preservation. 76 Évieux. copies of his letters were distributed among the monastic circles of Egypt and Palestine. 75 Morton Smith. “The Manuscript Tradition of Isidore of Pelusium. 17 . and explanations of doctrine in order either to portray an author in a certain light or to 73 Évieux.73 He suggests that small collections of his letters would have been assembled with the purpose of teaching the meaning of Scriptural passages and how to act in a proper Christian way. which they suppose were really just rhetorical exercises meant for schools. 74 Ibid.77 3. 75 Some have even gone so far as to doubt the existence of Isidore himself. Isidore de Péluse.

As “the leading theologian of those Christians who refuted the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE.back up one side of the Christological debates. 80 Volker L.” 80 Severus’ monophysism was similar to Cyril of Alexandria’s ‘single nature’ view of 433 CE in that it emphasized the single nature of Christ as the product of the union of the Word and the human being after the incarnation. 6-10. Andreas Schmid. As a result. 34. 419 to Hermogenes of Rhinocorura (as we will see below). 27. the earliest reference to the writings of Isidore of Pelusium was by the monophysite Severus of Antioch. 419 (= 1. who wrote in the early sixth century CE. 83 In his critique. 82 Severus tells us that John made use of Isidore. Syrian Orthodox Church. 324 to Cyril and Ep. As it turns out. Hayward. 1948). in 518 CE. Justin I came to the throne and the two distinct natures view of Chalcedon again became official doctrine in Constantinople. Severus. Allen and Hayward. Menze.T. 82 Menze. 18 . 369 C). 81 Pauline Allen and C. 35.324. P. PG 78.R. during which time he continued to administer his see from abroad and published a work called Liber Contra Impium Grammaticum. 14. 416 C). however. a critique of the apologist John the Grammarian and his defense of Chalcedon (which we know about only through Severus). Severus of Antioch (London: Routledge. PG 78. Schor.79 And although Isidore seems to have agreed with Cyril’s ‘single nature’ view of 433 CE. The complex nature of Isidore’s stance as regards the bishop of Alexandria therefore became useful during the later dispute between the monophysites and the Chalcedonians over the interpretation of Cyril’s stance. 2008). 79 Epp.419. in Ep. Severus has also made 78 Adam M. 324 (= 1.81 This theological stance was also shared by the emperor Anastasius until. 2004). 25-31. especially in Ep. Severus found himself in exile in Alexandria for two years. Justinian and the Making of the Syrian Orthodox Church (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 83 Schmid believes that John the Grammarian used only those instances where Isidore is critical of Cyril.78 Isidore does at times delve into Christological matters. 2011). Theodoret’s People: Social Networks and Religious Conflict in Late Roman Syria (Berkeley: University of California Press. Die Christologie Isidors von Pelusium (Freibourg: Paulusverlag. 310 he is generally critical of the bishop’s actions at Ephesus.

1911). 2. pp.88 With Facundus the story of the collection is brought into the episode of the Three- 84 Severus of Antioch. J.17. 85 Severus of Antioch. Severus learned from his sources that Isidore was in fact living at the time of the bishop Hermogenes of [Rhinocorura] and that the actual bishop of Pelusium was a certain Eusebius. a native of your city of Pelusium. qui etiam pro uitae ac sapientiae suae meritis. since in a letter to a Zacharias of Pelusium. “État des recherches. p. “Manuscript Tradition. 88 Nam uir etiam sanctissimus et magnae in Ecclesia Christi gloriae. both of whom were present at the council. Severus cites “a passage from a certain presbyter (Isidore.000 letters by an Egyptian presbyter called Isidore of Pelusium. Cont. by E. 320). Imp. Defence of the Three Chapters 2. I mean. 19 . bishop of Hermiane.12.” The Journal of Theological Studies 6 (1905): 71.” 329 86 Pierre Évieux. 85 By the beginning of the sixth century CE. in which some letters explicitly disagree with the Chalcedonian view. Lebon. Smith. when Facundus. Turner. p. 1969). Die Christologie. Syrian Orthodox Church. 182). he refutes John the Grammarian’s claim that Isidore was originally a bishop of Pelusium. ed. René Aigrain. 21. “The letters of Saint Isidore of Pelusium. trans. Severus clearly knew about Isidore before he arrived in Egypt. la numérotation des lettres dans la tradition manuscrite. Menze. who was wise in learning and in piety). Also see C.use of Isidore and tells us that he even consulted a numbered collection of his letters in Alexandria. 2 (Oxford: Williams and Norgate. Isidorus presbyter Aegyptius Pelusiota. Évieux.” 207. The Sixth Book of the select Letters of Severus of Antioch. therefore. 87 Severus of Antioch. probably because of the Pelusian’s connection to Cyril and the concepts of monophysism.86 What is more. J. The next mention of Isidore comes at around 549 CE. “Isidore de Péluse. W.” Revue d’histoire des textes 5 (1975): 62-63. reports in his Pro Defensione Trium Capitulorum about the existence in Constantinople of a collection of 2. Liber Contra Impium Grammaticum (ed. by Anne Fraïsse-Bétoulières. Lebon. 182-183). (ed. According to the results of his investigations. ut pater ab ipso beato Cyrillo et horatus est et uocatus… Facundus of Hermiane. Gramm. n. Quarante-neuf lettres de Saint Isidore de Péluse (Paris: Picard & Fils. SC 471. CSCO 102. H. Schmid. vol. there was already a collection of Isidore’s letters ready for consultation in Alexandria.4.”87 This would suggest that a collection of Isidore’s letters had made it to Antioch and was consulted there by Severus. (CSCO 102. and ed.84 Furthermore. 253. 251. quem duo millia epistularum ad aedificationem Ecclesiae multi scripsisse nouerunt. Brooks.

whom Cyril had either criticised or quarrelled with during the Nestorian controversy. Evagrius Scholasticus lists Isidore in his Church History alongside Synesius of Cyrene. emperor Justinian attempted another reconciliation of the two sides.” George A. Defense 2. also known as monophysites. 265-266. 1979). vol. and Carla Nicolaye (Berlin: Walter De Gruyter. trans. Shawn W. 20 . it specified the condemnation of three ‘chapters’. 324). by Pauline Allen and John Cawte. Facundus of Hermiane. of the Oriental bishops Theodore of Mopsuesta. causas agere atque irrideri a multis. 310 and 370 as proof of the monk’s support of the Antiochenes. Cyril worked to counter them by informing the emperor and writing a treatise against Theodore.D. who was attempting to defend the reputation of Orientals. which was the result of the union of both the divine and human natures of Christ after the incarnation. ed. uelut animi passione et aemulatione caecatum. 310] arguit illum. Christ in Christian Tradition:From the Council of Chalcedon (451) to Gregory the Great (590-604). supported the one-nature model. Subsequent to the Council of Chalcedon of 451 CE. 90 Menze. Gregory.” 74. despite the ruling of the First Council of Ephesus. Ibas of Edessa. 111-112. As Schor and Gregory note.93 Lastly. (Columbus OH: Ohio State University Press. 65.90 Known as the Three-Chapters reconciliation.…. and Theodoret of Cyrrhus. Turner. which officially confirmed the two-nature of Christ as both human and divine. “Letters. by Johann Leemans. FraïsseBétoulières. part 1 (Oxford: Mowbray and Co. 2011). non quae Christi sunt orthodoxe requisierit apud Ephesum in causa Nestorii. mentions Isidore’s criticisms of Cyril of Alexandria and cites Epp. failed attempts were made by the emperors Anastasius I and Justin at achieving a reconciliation between Chalcedonian and nonChalcedonian adherents. by 435 CE some clerics were again shouting their support for Nestorius. Isidore chastises Cyril for quarrelling with the Oriental bishops. 92 Ecce et in hac epistula [Ep. 253-254. Vox Populi: Popular Opinion and Violence in the Religious Controversies of the Fifth Century A. Peter Van Nuffelen. especially of the latter. Die Christologie. or works. 2. at the end of the sixth century CE.. 28. SC 471. Timothy E. 91 Facundus. 92 since in these two letters. uiolenter magis quam iusto examine. Syrian Orthodox Church. “Theodoret of Cyrrhus and Syrian Episcopal Elections” in Episcopal Elections in Late Antiquity. p. Keough.Chapters of 543/544 CE. 130.16 (ed. Theodoret’s People. J. 89 Aloys Grillmeier. Schmid. in his defense of the Three-Chapters. as will be seen below. Bevan.89 The non-Chalcedonians. In 536 CE. whose rehabilitation at the council of Chalcedon in 451 CE had been one of the major complaints of the non-Chalcedonians. 91 Ibid. 314-325.4. One can see how the critical tone towards Cyril found in these letters attracted the attention of Facundus. whom Cyril thought “was the real animating force behind Nestorius. 1987). 93 Schor. quod iniuriae priuatae uindictam.

by A. Wandering. Isidore de Péluse.1 (ed. J. Aigrain. 98 Jules Pargoire. by Michael Whitby.98 It was the criticism of Cyril. 9 96 Millar. “Les moines et la ville.95 as well as for having composed a work called the Synodicon. p. Die Christologie. Begging Monks.94 It is in 564 CE. 99 since the monastery was vigorously against Monophysitism. and Guy Sabbah. 170. 250. Bernard Grillet. ὡς ἀγγελικοὶν ἐπι ὶ γῆς μετελθεῖν βίον. 96 In the Synodicon. Marcellus. For a good account of the founding of the order in the environs of Constantinople.100 Thus. 97 Rusticus further adds that this original collection consisted of four books of five hundred letters each and that it was collected by the Sleepless Monks. which itself narrated the events following the First Council of Ephesus to 435 CE. which he says he extracted from an original collection of the letters he found in Constantinople. see also Gilbert Dagron. who had been condemned at the Second Council of Ephesus in 449 CE for his Nestorian sympathies. Dagron. 172). For a good English translation of this passage. Γέγραπται δ’ οὖν αὐτῷ πολλαὶ μεὶν και ὶ ἕτερα πάσὴς ὠφελείας ἔμπλεα· γέγραπται δεὶ και ὶ προὶς Κύριλλον τοὶν ἀοίδιμον. the order’s third leader (448-484 CE). Greek Roman Empire. Begging Monks.” in Travaux et Mémoires 4. ed. Caner. he must have been a contemporary. See also Évieux.15.” 206. 318. with the deacon Rusticus. “Letters. communicated with Theodoret. Smith. For Theodoret’s letters to 21 .” Échos d’Orient 2 (1899). TTH 33. Festugière. “Manuscript Tradition. 41). 482. the order of monks in Constantinople founded by the heretic Alexander in c. “Les moines et la ville: le monachisme à Constantinople jusqu’au concile de Chalcédoine (451). trans. found in the letters that caused the Sleepless Monks to preserve them. the great opponent of the Oriental bishops. Rusticus is known to history for having compiled and revised the Latin version of the Acta of the Council of Chalcedon of 451 CE. ἐξ ὧν μάλιστα δείκνυται τοῦ θεσπεσίου συνακμάσαι τοῖς χρόνοις. 239. 99 Schmid. p. “Un mot sur les Acémètes. 100 Grillmeier. Caner. a bare-bones Latin version of Irenaeus’ Tragoedia. 301-302. 9. these ancient testimonies reveal that there were at 94 Ἐπιὶ τῆς αὐτῆς διέπρεπε βασιλείας καιὶ Ἰσίδωρος. that a set of translations of Isidore’s letters appears for the first time. HE 1. Christ in Christian Tradition. Last of the Pagans. SC 542. and that since he wrote to Cyril of Alexandria. 440 CE and whose members adhered to a strict system of continual prayer and genuflexion. see The Ecclesiastical History of Evagrius Scholasticus (Eng. 235-236. Wandering. 308. ἔργω τε καιὶ λόγῳ παραὶ πᾶσι διαβόὴτος· ὃς οὕτω μεὶν τὴὶν σάρκα τοῖς πόνοις ἐξέτὴξεν.” 237. by Laurent Angliviel and Guy Sabbah and French trans.” 74. 130-132. Turner. Quarante-neuf lettres. οὗ κλέος εὐρυὶ καταὶ τὴὶν ποίὴσιν. de Boccard. 97 Aigrain. Evagrius Scholasticus. 1970). Quarante-neuf lettres. Rusticus includes 49 letters by Isidore translated into Latin. by Paul Lemerle and Jean Gouillard (Paris: Éditions E. 20. 95 Cameron. οὕτω δεὶ τὴὶν ψυχὴὶν τοῖς ἀναγωγικοῖς ἐπίανε λόγοις.mentioning that Isidore was famous for his ascetic lifestyle and for his doctrinal knowledge. στήλὴν τε ζῶσαν διαὶ παντοὶς εῖναι βίου τε μοναδικοῦ και ὶ τῆς εἰς Θεοὶν θεωρίας.

least three main areas where collections or individual letters of Isidore existed and could be
consulted: Antioch and Alexandria as indicated by Severus, and Constantinople by Facundus and
Rusticus. Even more important, Constantinople was where a lost collection of 2000 letters was
maintained by the Sleepless Monks sometime during the fifth and sixth centuries CE.

3.3 Manuscript Tradition:
The oldest extant manuscript of the letters of Isidore is from the Greek monastery Grotta
Ferrata (identified with the press-mark B α 1). This dates to the year 985 and consists of two
sections, one with 600 letters and the other 1000 letters. 101 C. M. Turner suspects that this MS
was probably based on the original collection of the Sleepless Monks, although there is no sure
way of determining this.102 Whatever its origin, it is by far the largest surviving MS of a
continuous series of Isidore’s letters. All other MSS consist primarily of a few hundred to at
most a thousand letters: Paris MS, gr. 832 (thirteenth century); Vat. gr. 649-650 and Vat. Ottob.
gr. 341-383 (both sixteenth century); Vienna cod. gr. ccxci (fourteenth century); Paris gr. 949
(sixteenth century); Venetus Marcianus 126, saec. xiv (seventeenth century); Munich gr. 49,
saec. xvi and Munich gr. 50 (seventeenth century). 103 The history of the major published editions
of the letters begins with the Greek version of Jacob Billi of 1585 (containing 1213 letters),
Marcellus, see Epp. 142 and 143, in Théodoret de Cyr: Correspondance III (ed. by Yvan Azéma, SC 111, pp. 152158). See in particular the beginning of Ep. 143, in which Theodoret praises Marcellus for his support: Και ὶ ἤδὴ δι᾽
ἑτέρων γραμμάτων τὴὶν σὴὶν ποσείπομεν θεοσέβειαν, τοῖς τιμιωτάτοις ἀδελφοῖς τοῖς ὑμετέροις τὴὶν ἐπιστολὴὶν
δεδωκότες· και ὶ νῦν δεὶ πάλιν προσφθεγγόμεθά σου τὴὶν ἁγιότὴτα. Προτρέπει γαὶρ ἡμᾶς τοῦτο ποιεῖν και ὶ ὁ
ἀξιάγαστος ὑμῶν βίος, και ὶ ὁ ἀξιέπαινος ζῆλος, ὃν ὑπεὶρ τῆς ἀποστολικῆς ἐπεδείξασθε πίστεως, οὐ βασιλικὴὶν
δείσαντες δυναστείαν, οὐκ ἐπισκοπικὴὶν συμφωνίαν. Εἰ γαὶρ και ὶ τῶν συνελὴλυθότων οἱ πλεῖστοι βιασθέντες
συνέθεντο, ἀλλ᾽ οὖν ταῖς ὑπογραφαῖς τὴὶν καινὴὶν ἐκράτυναν αἵρεσιν. Theodoret to Marcellus, Ep. 143 (ed. Azéma,
SC 111, p. 156). As Azéma notes, “Marcel fut le deuxième successeur d’Alexandre, fondateur de la communauté.
On ne sera point surpris que Théodoret apprécie sa vie sainte et son zèle pour la vérité si l’on se souvient qu’après
avoir défendu l’orthodoxie mise en péril par l’hérésie nestorienne, il lutta aussi contre Eutychès, participa au concile
de Constantinople en 448 et à celui de Chalcédoine en 451.” Yvan Azéma, introduction to Théodoret de Cyr:
Correspondance III (SC 111, ed. Azéma), 38.
101 Turner, “Letters,” 74.
102 Turner, “Letters,” 74-75.
103 Ibid, 76-78.


which was then revised in 1605 by Conrad Rittershusius (adding 230 letters) and translated into
Latin by Andreas Schott in 1623, who then published a separate volume in 1629 with an
additional 569 letters.104 The culmination of these separate versions was Aegidius Morel’s 1638
volume that combined Rittershusius’ edition with Schott’s separate volume of new letters. 105
This version became the now standard edition of 2012 letters, divided into five books with notes
by the Jesuit Petrus Possinus, which J. P. Migne finally incorporated in his multi-volume
Patrologia graeca in 1860.106
In 1911, R. Aigrain published a volume of the 49 letters that were part of Rusticus’
Synodicon, with an introduction that lightly touched upon the importance of Isidore in relation to
Christological matters.107 At the turn of the last century, C. H. Turner published his article
detailing the different manuscripts of the letters and the earliest editions, while L. Bayer analyzed
the Hellenic elements found in Isidore’s oeuvre. Isidorian scholarship continued to address
Christological and Scriptural elements in the monk’s correspondence, thus the work of A.
Schmid and C. M. Fouskas, although Schmid interestingly enough revealed the thread that
connected Isidore to Severus of Antioch, Facundus of Hermiane, and the lost original collection
mentioned by Rusticus. It was not until the second half of the twentieth century, when Morton
Smith, Pierre Évieux, and Roland Delmaire published their articles and later Évieux his major
all-encompassing study on Isidore, that light was finally shed on the letters that related to secular
officials in Constantinople.108 The last stage was set, then, for an attempt at a modern edition of
104 Ibid, 78-79.
105 Ibid, 80.
106 Ibid, 81-82.
107 Aigrain, Quarante-neuf lettres (1911); Smith, “Manuscript Tradition,” 206.
108 In 1973 the late Morton Smith, then professor of ancient history at Columbia University, published The Secret
Gospel, an account of his discovery in 1958 of a supposed new gospel of Mark, which caused some controversy and
has led to accusations of forgery. See Morton Smith, The Secret Gospel: the Discovery and Interpretation of the
Secret Gospel According to Mark (New York: Harper and Row, 1973). The controversy is still ongoing, with recent
books on the subject having been published in the last few years. See Stephen C. Carlson, The Gospel Hoax:
Morton Smith’s Invention of Secret Mark (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2005) and Scott G. Brown, Mark’s


the letters in translation. Évieux’s 1997 two volume set in French, although thorough in its
presentation of the large range of addressees included in the corpus, failed to include translations
of the important letters of Isidore to Cyril of Alexandria, Theodosius II, and some of the other
important officials, perhaps due to his death in 2007. An English translation of the letters has yet
to be published.

IV. Secular Connections:
4.1 The Usefulness of a Network:
A brief glance at the recipients of Isidore’s correspondence will reveal the range of
secular and religious acquaintances maintained by the monk. As we shall see, Isidore knew
praetorian prefects, governors (called the praefectus Augustalis in Egypt and corrector in
Augustamnica), 109 and even palace eunuchs, all positions of great power and influence within the
imperial administration. Indeed, one is quickly struck by the fact that both Theodosius II and
Cyril of Alexandria also appear as his addressees. Although surprising at first, this is the result
of a combination of factors: the importance of maintaining a social network to promote oneself
and one’s community, the degree of involvement of the emperor and the bishop of Alexandria in
the affairs of the empire, and the unique position of the holy man in the late Roman state. Added
to this, the letters of Isidore reveal the portraits of some important secular and religious officials,
both locally and at Alexandria and Constantinople, which all confirm that Isidore was a very well
connected individual.
Other Gospel: Rethinking Morton Smith’s Controversial Discovery (Waterloo, ON: Wilfred Laurier University
Press, 2005).
109 Bagnall, Later Roman Egypt, 64; on the establishment of correctores beginning in the reign of Diocletian, see
Jones, Later Roman Empire A Social, Economic and Administrative Survey 284-602, vol. 1 (1964; repr., Oxford:
Basil Blackwell,1973), 45. As Jones notes further on, “Moesia was divided into the two dioceses of Dacia and
Macedonia by Constantine, and Egypt was detached from that of Oriens by Valens; the governors of the last two
dioceses bore the exceptional titles of praefectus Augustalis and comes Orientis respectively.” Jones, Later Roman
Empire, vol. 1, 373.


112 Sometimes the letter writer wrote to protect his reputation or position in society.114 Although Athanasius’ appeal to Cyril did not seem to have 110 In the case of Libanius under Julian in the early 360s CE. 112 Kelly.111 In such a milieu. see Bevan. by Richard Price and Michael Gaddis. On Athanasius’ troubles at this time and his rivalry with Theodoret.” 67-70. friends. 130. TTH 45. Traditionally. Since such letters represented literary confirmation of the bond of friendship between correspondents. 111 For example. it was important that the person making the request be of sufficient gravitas and in possession of a good network of connections. letters represented the links of friendship that bound individuals despite the great distances that separated them. 154). See also Millar. letters would frequently contain beautifully rendered Classical allusions and would be written in a sophisticated and classicizing Greek. “Syrian Episcopal Elections. Greek Roman Empire. in introduction to Selected Letters. or even an entire town. as we have seen above in the case of Isidore. 278-280. was assigned to administer.” Journal of Late Antiquity 2:2 (2009). a position that gave him enormous influence. when requesting favors. Another use of collecting letter duplicates was that they strengthened a correspondent’s sense of protection. Azéma. p. 160. One can find an example of this in a letter of Theodoret. 2004). Ep. p.3.In order for a request to be at its most effective in the early fifth century CE. in which the writer could advance the cause of family members. Adam M. MA: Harvard University Press. who because of certain accusations of criminality was ousted from his episcopate by a number of clerics of the city. it became important to preserve the letters and make duplicates. appealing to his interest in Classical philosophy and literature.” 291. in which the bishop recounts that he provided a young woman with one of his letters so that she could pass through a local religious festival (πανήγυρις) in safety and rejoin her father. such as ‘divine mercy and providence’. Ruling. 59). Schor. mentioned previously. Theodoret of Cyrrhus would regularly adopt different tones in his letters to achieve common ground with his correspondent and thus win his appeal. Bishop of Cyrrhus. See The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon (Eng. Thus. much like Isidore. 215. in court circles of individuals of the likes of Libanius or Theodoret revealed a lot about the power of the correspondent’s backers. Athanasius. Theodoret of Cyrrhus. See also Christopher Kelly. 70 (ed. “Performance and Social Strategy in the Letters of Theodoret. A good example of this is the episode concerning bishop Athanasius of Perrha in 444 CE. introduction to Selected Letters (TTH 41).” Bradbury. to grant a hearing to certain people through a letter of 25 . SC 98. all helped Theodoret to garner the official’s attention and secure his aid. Ruling the Later Roman Empire (Cambridge. 113 For support against the accusations. Schor. the prestige of his position in Antioch as one of the foremost teachers of rhetoric helped him to emerge “as the chief intermediary between emperor and city. 114 “Let your holiness deign. or gravitas. if the city of Antioch is far from that which the most God-fearing bishop.” Bradbury. Athanasius wrote to Cyril of Alexandria. 10.110 Persons of distinction in distant communities of the empire had to know the identity of the powerful intermediaries in Constantinople and at home who could exert enough influence to help them. who in turn wrote to Domnus of Antioch in defence of his friend. 113 The episode is briefly mentioned in the acts of the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE. 19. Panegyric elements such as praising the official’s gentleness. the art of letter correspondence in Greek culture was seen as “a literary gift from one man of culture to another. and drawing on Christian moral teachings. since the social importance. “Performance. trans.

trans. 2.” Cyril of Alexandria. 116 In a letter to the prefect Constantinus. “Episcopal Elections. Synesius of Cyrene. Bevan. Religious Identity. who hopes for advancement. SC 98. 70). This was true of both secular and religious personages.the desired result. ex-pupils and old friends went on to hold positions in the imperial bureaucracy. Ep. and membership in an elite intellectual circle. 2007). John I. The copying and re-copying of letters either by the author or by someone else in his circle also gave evidence of a far-reaching social network. Ep. could these heads of state be effective? This is difficult to ascertain in regards to Isidore. In one letter to Florentius. 118 The preservation of collections of letters thus also served to show off erudition. Ep. in Synésios de Cyrène. Libanius also wrote to many officials on behalf of his friends. magister utriusque militiae in 412 CE according to PLRE 2. Religious Identity in Late Antiquity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bradbury.2 Constantinople: But did these appeals to the highest officials in the state actually ever reach them? And if so. 77. Correspondance. whose two thousand letters testify to a diverse network of connections in fourth-century Antioch. in Selected Letters (Eng. all the while reminding Constans of his love of philosophy and honour. in St. your own. Symmachus. p. Theodoret asks for help to relieve Cyrrhus of its crushing taxes and for defence against the false accusations of Athanasius of Perrha. 32.” Sandwell. On the social network of Libanius.118 4. “when cousins. 231-239. 33-35 and 145.” 67-68. 106-113).117 Isidore’s two letters to Theodosius II and the handful of others to Cyril of Alexandria are but a few testimonies of this rich epistolary system. moral authority. FC 77. 93). See. Cyril of Alexandria: Letters 51-110 (Eng. trans. 232. 42 (ed. as the correspondences of Libanius. 26 . vol. Synesius wrote to a certain Constans (possibly Constans 3. TTH 41. 117 Schor. 311) on behalf of an acquaintance of his who was the victim of a friend of Constans. 115 The bishop ultimately resigned from his see and was deposed in 445 CE. McEnerney. Theodoret of Cyrrhus. Libanius provides a character description of one of his good friends. B41. Theodoret’s People. and Isidore of Pelusium testify. see also Isabella Sandwell. these personal relationships tied Libanius into the centres of power of the late Roman empire. since the number of correspondents guaranteed the author’s standing both at home and at court.115 it is plain that despite his unpopularity Athanasius made sure that he did not stand alone and took care to foster a network that included the powerful bishop of Alexandria and his network of allies as well. although Domnus did investigate the affair as Cyril asked of him.116 It was important that these circles of acquaintances be maintained over the years. p. As Sandwell notes. 27. Azéma. since the copies circulated among the author’s acquaintances and collections of them could be gathered together by his followers in distant regions. Ep. in the court or senate of Constantinople or in civic government. p.

Greek Roman Empire. 231. Theodosius II: Rethinking the Roman Empire in Late Antiquity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. even though she was an Augusta.since we do not possess any responses to his letters. 61. 47-68. 121 119 On this subject.” 68.” 47-68. 2013). ἄνδρας ἑκατοὶν ἑξήκοντα τοῖς τετταράκοντα τούτοις προστεθῆναι. see Holum.] Holum would have us believe. Burgess. 130. Pulcheria was manipulated and sacrificed to the whims of a man [emperor Marcian] who held much greater power and influence than she. After a thorough examination of the historical evidence. Theodosius II. But. 200. 91-93. Theodosius’ sister Pulcheria accompanied the emperor whenever he met his advisors. however. and he can ask the Dux to send a submission to the distant Emperor. 101-102 and 130: at the very beginning of his reign. See also Burgess. as Millar points out. “Rethinking Theodosius. Και ὶ δεήθὴτι βασιλέως ὑπεὶρ ἡμῶν ἐν τοῖς σαυτοῦ γράμμασι δέὴσιν ἑτέραν. a title replete with ceremonial awe but invested with little actual power when put to the test. 27 . ed. the coalitionbuilding) is more fully discoverable” in the case of Theodosius.. “We should not fail to take note of how extraordinary (in one sense) this procedure is. however. vol. 78 in Synésios de Cyrène: Correspondance. in which he convincingly downplays Pulcheria’s role in the succession of Marcian upon the death of Theodosius II in 450 CE. 19-21: a convincing case can be made.” Millar.” Millar. By looking into some of the actions undertaken by the emperor and Cyril of Alexandria.” Burgess. No heed is paid to the fact that the latter was currently aged about ten.” Byzantinische Zeitschrift 86:7 (1993/4).” chap. Holum nonetheless concludes that “the gossipers managed a good characterization of Theodosius.” Holum. Theodosian Empresses. susceptible throughout his reign to the wills of his eunuchs and empresses. 119 There has. “…no matter how many. the compromises. that because the “fine-grained detail of the formation of imperial policy (the shifts. and the Emperor. 97. “The Accession of Marcian. 3. for example. Cf. his indecision and irresolution is more evident and can be more easily criticized than that of past emperors. it is conceivable that the emperor viewed submissions himself even early on in his reign. by Roques. as [Kenneth G. ultimately. at least when once arrived at adulthood. 120 Indeed. These barbarian soldiers can approach the bishop. the assessment of the level of Pulcheria’s power at court in Richard W. 120 See the collection of recent essays in Christopher Kelly. Ep. shielded him from other women. “The Accession of Marcian in the Light of Chalcedonian Apologetic and Monophysite Polemic. the competing streams of rhetorical persuasion…in the end the Imperial system was a monarchy. as Synesius’ letter of 410/411 to the dux Anysius would indicate. in which the bishop asks the latter to send a submission to the emperor to increase local troops. See especially Christopher Kelly. who emerges from the history of his mature years as a man of intelligence and sincerity but little backbone. This was certainly a factor early on when Theodosius inherited the throne as a child of seven in 408 CE. 121 Ὃ γένοιτ᾽ ἂν εἰ διαὶ τῆς σῆς ἀναφορᾶς ὁ φιλανθρωπότατος ἡμῶν βασιλευὶς μάθοι πόσον ὄφελος ἐγένοντο Πενταπόλει. “The Accession of Marcian. one of the first ‘Byzantine empresses’. Greek Roman Empire. 1 in Kelly. Theodosian Empresses. It has been the fashion in the past to view Theodosius II as a sort of puppet ruler. and appointed officials and promoted barbarian generals in his stead. the negotiations. we may be able to say that Isidore knew very well how effective these heads of state could be whenever the fancy suited them. or how forceful. Burgess concludes that “far from being a proto-Irene. Although many of the reports on Theodosius’ dependency on others are apocryphal. at least once he came of age. could decide. ed. See also note 120 below. As Millar emphasizes. been of late a recent and important reassessment of the role exerted by Theodosius both in court and in ecclesiastical politics. when he would have been about 10 years old.

vol. who was no fool. which was the concern of the bishops assembled. instead of presenting a common front. vied with one another to win the emperor’s approval. or barbarian generals…the emphasis on reaching the emperor in his apartments also ignores the fact that he was not cocooned there. 339-340. women.Of course. various comites.125 At the time of the council Theodosius had come of age.” 13 125 Susan Wessel. such as Anysius. see Jones. as Elton concedes. vol.”124 Foremost on his mind was the worry that a divided church would harm the state. 333. 1. Although the praepositus could grant or restrict access to the imperial household. 28 . Jones. vol. “Imperial Politics at the Court of Theodosius II” in Cain and Lenski. declaring “that he had never intended to touch the praescriptio fori” and drafting a new law more advantageous to the soldiers involved.” Annuarium Historiae Conciliorum 33:2 (2001) 297-98. 123 In September 440 CE Theodosius enacted a law under the recommendation of the Praetorian Prefect Cyrus.. 334-341: “in the fourth century the consistory was an active and effective council of state. Later Roman Empire. to expect that a request be directed towards the emperor.123 Of course. one of the more famous instances of Theodosius’ involvement in affairs of state happened later on when the twenty-nine year old emperor decided to call the council of Ephesus in 431 to resolve the Christological quarrel that erupted between the Oriental bishops and Cyril. but often did. “The Ecclesiastical Policy of Theodosius II.” Hugh Elton. Later Roman Empire. the praespositus (imperial chamberlain).122 It even could happen at times that the emperor would later countermand a decision or law that was originally made in consultation with members of his consistory to satisfy another group negatively affected by it. but that these bishops come to a united decision as a “public demonstration of consensus. Power of Religion in Late Antiquity. Later Roman Empire. legal officers. …The consistory thus tended to be a subservient body. or members of the consistory. which allowed them to claim recourse to special courts reserved especially for them. among others. he could not isolate the emperor. and the powerful praefectus praetorio orientis. who would all have their say in the final decision process on whether to send the troops or not. but the contents of Synesius’ letter suggests that it was not unfeasible for a bishop. “Rethinking Theodosius. thus abolishing the praescriptio fori enjoyed by soldiers and officials. 124 Kelly. and intrigued to discredit their rivals. the submissions were first vetted by intermediaries. Two months later the emperor would retract the law. act on his own initiative without consulting his council. 1. 135. For the extent and limits of the powers of the emperor’s consistory in the late Empire. military officers.. whose members. [and] the consistory continued to meet and to transact business in the fifth and sixth centuries… [but] the emperor remained absolute and he not only could. “…both ancient and modern historians have exaggerated such personal influences and suggested that the emperor was dominated by eunuchs. 1.” But. On that occasion. what mattered most for the emperor was not orthodoxy of belief in itself. Jones. which debated matters of moment and advised the emperor upon them. 122 Members of the consistory included. and one of Synesius’ stature no less.

who had strong-armed some of those present. Jill Harries. the emperor commanded an investigation into the affair. “Imperial Politics. Elton. Theodosius II.” 135. this palace official often fell from favour and it was then up to the emperor to decide whom to meet and when. 129 Wessel. 4 in Kelly. “Imperial Politics.” 139. 130 Graumann.” 119 29 . the fact that Theodosius sent Candidianus to ensure the smooth progression of the council with special instructions not to take part in any of the deliberations meant that the emperor suspected mischief by the two sides of the controversy. “Politics of the First Council of Ephesus. and as we shall see. 110.130 It is thus perhaps not too far-fetched that Isidore could hope for action from Theodosius when he wrote to him. or imperial chamberlain. 4. “Men without Women: Theodosius’ Consistory and the Business of Government.128 When the First Council of Ephesus finally came to a close and Theodosius learned from his official representative Candidianus that its decision to depose Nestorius had been rushed by Cyril. 128 Wessel.relying less and less on the imperial consistory as the time went on.127 Theodosius also showed his disapproval of Cyril when the bishop attempted to undermine the emperor’s authority and plant discord within the imperial family by sending Christological treatises against Nestorius to the empresses. An effective network of influential acquaintances in early fifth century Egypt would thus benefit in having Cyril of Alexandria among its members. 126 Even though access to the imperial household continued to be protected by the praepositus.” 287 and 293. 127 Elton. “Theodosius II and the Politics of the First Council of Ephesus.” chap.129 Indeed. but real ecclesiastical power in Egypt that could influence local officials and even sway the imperial administration in Constantinople lay with the bishop of Alexandria. 2 in Kelly.” chap.3 Alexandria: Anyone wishing to advance a personal or communal cause could of course turn to members of the clergy for support. Isidore knew 126 Thomas Graumann. Theodosius II. “Ecclesiastical policy. “Ecclesiastical Policy. 87.” 170-171.

such as he did in 415 CE against the city prefect Orestes and the Jewish authorities. see also A. Timothy Barnes in his review of a critical edition of Socrates’ History prepared by Günther Hansen. edited by A. during the ecclesiastical Councils of fifth century. 10. According to Socrates. 136 Socrates even states that Orestes was extremely jealous of Cyril’s powers. Also. 134 Russell.” Jones. 883. Cyril. 7. Vox Populi. which he believed encroached on the civil and imperial jurisdiction and was the cause of a power conflict between the bishop and the governor of Alexandria. vol. during the Second Council of Ephesus in 449 CE. 178. 133 Barnes. Barnes. has made an important observation about the nature of Cyril’s relationship with the secular administration at Alexandria. 1993). and the Pentapolis. Jones. See Timothy D. 11 and 15. Cyril. 186. Timothy D. Cyril of Alexandria (London: Routledge. which is based on an ancient Armenian version first published in 1897. “Armenica Veritas.the bishop well enough that he could write to him from time to time. 48. Church History 7. St. MA: Harvard University Press.137 131 McGuckin. see Socrates. Philipsborn. a century before Cyril’s tenure. 2. 9-10. C. the Egyptian bishops voted according to the wishes of the Alexandrian patriarch. 135 McGuckin. Athenasius and Constantius. He might consult his clergy or even his whole flock…but his judgement was final. Barnes Athenasius and Constantius: Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire (Cambridge. 134 Indeed. 4 (1997):723-731. St. “La compagnie d’ambulanciers ‘parabalani’ d’Alexandrie. For examples of the use of the parabalani as a means of intimidation during the episcopate of Cyril’s successor.7 and 7. 131 Not only did the Alexandrian Church collect the profits of the regional land properties and expand its assets throughout the Nile delta over the course of the fourth century CE. 2004). Later Roman Empire. describes the elevation of Cyril as bishop of Alexandria on the death of his uncle and predecessor. 74 136 McGuckin.133 with the result that. Zenos. Cyril of Alexandria and the Nestorian Controversy: the Making of a Saint and of a Heretic (Oxford: Oxford University Press. no. 137 Susan Wessel. Cyril of Alexandria. Cyril. Later Roman Empire. on the eve of the Council of Ephesus Cyril could hope to secure at least 155 signatures agreeing to the deposition of Nestorius. 145 and 149. 32-3 and 179. 2. Dioscorus. the powers of the bishop “were autocratic.” Byzantion 20 (1950).13.” Journal of Ecclesiastical History. 132 Russell. the status and power of the bishop of Alexandria grew as the Egyptian see became one of the wealthiest in East. 2000).135 The bishop of Alexandria could also count on the protection of a guard of attendants called the parabalani whenever he faced local adversaries. see Gregory.132 but the Council of Nicaea of 325 CE also confirmed the patriarch of Alexandria’s jurisdiction over the bishops of Egypt. For details on this power conflict. Chapter seven of Book seven of the standard English translation of Socrates. Under the episcopate of bishop Athanasius. 34. Theophilus. Libya. 874. “a great contest immediately arose about 30 . St. vol.

introduction to Cyril of Alexandria: Select Letters. 256. we were forced to dispatch double amounts…. p. 151-153). Wickham (Oxford: Clarendon Press. Socrates. 31 . Chron. Abundantius actually takes sides with Cyril. 729).” Socrates. τοὶν λεγόμενον Ζτομμᾶν. which has a stemmatic value equal to that of all the other witnesses put together” (Barnes. Later Roman Empire.” Cyril of Alexandria. NPNF.7 (Eng. Ep. that Cyril may in fact have had the support of the administration of Alexandria early on and that therefore “most of what has been written about Cyril’s quarrel with the prefect Orestes and about the murder of Hypatia needs to be rethought” (Barnes. and in some reigns were all powerful. that he would cease to oppose us. Lionel R. On the power of eunuchs at court in general. 159). This passage has usually been seen to show that the secular administration of Alexandria was completely opposed to the election of Cyril and that Cyril’s subsequent encroaching on secular matters resulted in Orestes’ growing antipathy towards the bishop. Wickham. 1919). p. vol. 172. John Malalas.13 (Eng. Cyril sent the imperial tribune Aristolaus to Antioch to deliver the news of the council ahead of time to the emperor so as to convince him to remain firmly in the Alexandrian camp. Barnes intimates. “Les présents. “Armenica”. Also see Kelly. 180-181. pour distribuer ainsi plus d’un million aux gens de la cour de Théodose II.1. including. the quaestor. and Keydell. 171-172 and Pierre Batiffol.” 168. McEnerney. Theodosian Empresses. ὡς πάνυ εὐπρεπῆ ὄντα· και ὶ παρεῖχεν αὐτῷ πολλαὶ ὅσα ἂν ᾐτήσατο αὐτόν. 14. 96. Chryseros 1. FC 77. at all times enjoyed considerable influence. however. Alexandria suffered financially to satisfy Cyril’s machinations: “l’église d’Alexandrie. see Cyril of Alexandria. 4 in Études de liturgie et d’archéologie chrétienne (Paris: Librairie Lecoffre. McEnerney. by L. Zenos. Ep. “The poet and the Empress”. “Les présents de saint Cyrille à la cour de Constantinople.” As for Chryseros. 156. which Barnes calls “the best and most important witness to the text. 154-179. and trans. 283). some seeking to place Timothy the archdeacon in the episcopal chair. ed. Abundantius. and others desiring Cyril…a tumult having arisen on this account among the people. On Chrysaphius’ influence on Theodosius II: Ὁ δεὶ αὐτοὶς βασιλευὶς Θεοδόσιος ἐφίλει ἔρωτι Χρυσάφιον τοὶν κουβκουλάριον. HE 7. to be given to influential individuals of the court.). his eunuchs..Cyril’s influence over secular officials in Constantinople is also well attested. Zenos. see Jones. see PLRE 2. xiii.. the prefect Chryseros. 1983).” Batiffol. Ruling. Beck. On the opposition of the secular administration of Alexandria to Cyril see also. p. Cyril admitted that special care had to be made to persuade him to fall in line with the Alexandrians: “...19 (eds. Kambylis. R. “for [Cyril] and his supporters. This would suggest. and the chamberlains Chryseros and Chrysaphius. the commander of the troops of Egypt. 297 and Chrysaphius qui et Ztummas. avait été bel et bien mise à sec par Cyrille. Holum. trans. But. among others.139 He also warned a number of members of the clergy in the appointment of a successor. took sides with Timothy. It was also with this purpose in mind that in 432 CE Cyril drew up a list of eulogiae. the master of the offices. trans. as Malalas reports. depleting the church treasury at Alexandria to provide presents for influential courtiers ensured a just conclusion to a long and bitter doctrinal dispute. On the eunuchs Chryseros and Chrysaphius..” Kelly. As Batiffol states. και ὶ ἐδύνατο παρ᾽ αὐτῷ παρρὴσίαν ἔχων και ὶ κατῆρχε πάντων τῶν πραγμάτων και ὶ ἦγε και ὶ ἥρπαζε πάντα. trans. HE 7. When the council of Ephesus decided to anathematize Nestorius in his absence in 431. 139 Cameron. NPNF. 96 (Eng. or “benedictions” (a euphemism for bribes) in the form of money and goods.138 These eulogiae indicate that Cyril was well aware of the different back ways of reaching the ear of the emperor. in Letters 51-110 (Eng. 295-297. Ruling. 724). “Armenica”. It is telling of the degree of influence of Chrysaphius at court that. pp.” chap. who alone had regular and familiar intercourse with him and controlled private and informal access to him by outsiders. one of the first acts of Theodosius’ successor Marcian upon acceding to the throne in 450 CE was to execute the influential eunuch immediately. 138 For a complete list of the eulogiae. According to the Armenian translation newly edited by Hanson. 568: “Owing to the secluded state in which the emperor by tradition lived.

” 267. as a man enjoying a unique relationship with God. monks were in a unique position to influence them. 140 Festugière. 151). as maliciously exposed by Irenaeus. 142 Richard M. p. we should first establish the position of authority holy men possessed in Late Antiquity. n. he was confronted with local problems in Pelusium. to make an appearance at the palace to make sure that Theodosius did not waver. By cultivating friendly but respectful communication with Cyril of Alexandria.” Also see ACO 1. Select Letters. Price. 222. Theophilus.” 142 While the emperor and the powerful bishops exercised power either for the good of the state or for their own purposes. Vox Populi. since their word was believed to represent the word of God and the powerful thus often listened to them. Anthony. Brown.140 Socrates also describes Cyril’s power as being greater than that of his predecessor and uncle. 16. Dagron. 258-261.” Studia Patristica 16. who was also known as the ‘Egyptian Pharaoh’ because of the influence he exerted. NPNF. HE 7.141 As will become obvious below. Caner. 2 (1985): 52.7 (Eng. emperor Constantine and his sons were said to have sought the opinion of St. whose asceticism and miracle working were all indications of divine grace.Constantinople against Nestorius and pressed the holy man Dalmatius. In the fourth century CE. even over the emperor. 32 . 66. the traditional founder of desert monasticism. p. 141 Socrates. as we shall see. Isidore would have a powerful ally when. no. a favourite of the emperor. “Holy Men’s Letters of Rebuke. Gregory. 219-221. Zenos. Isidore was all too familiar with Cyril’s tactics. See also Wickham. trans. Power and Persuasion. for instance. who advised them to despise material possessions FC 77. p. Begging Monks. The holy man. 156). made him into a reliable and impartial mediator and one who “possessed authority.8: “[Chryseros’] support had to be obtained by suitably grand largesses which drained the coffers of the Church of Alexandria. Wandering. 110111. Éphèse et Chalcédoine. 4. “Les moines et la ville. 4.4 The Influence of Isidore at Court: To understand the degree of influence Isidore wielded over the emperor and members of the court.

311.143 Anthony also wrote to Constantine in support of his friend and bishop Athanasius when the latter fell out of imperial favour. 121. 1985). a practice which clearly did not stop with the coming of Christianity. 35 (= 1. As already stated. Peter Brown. 147 Millar. on the appropriate action to take against the usurper Maximus when the latter was threatening the Rome in 383 CE. as a member of this religious elite of the desert. which will be outlined below in its proper place. PG 78.” Journal of Roman Studies 61 (1971): 93. 144 Barnes. especially to one as involved in the ecclesiastical affairs of his realm as Theodosius II. 145 The fact that emperors on occasion consulted monks in far-flung deserts should not be so entirely surprising given the fact that Roman rulers had long been accustomed to consulting pagan priests whenever they faced urgent matters of state. Athanasius and Constantius. “The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity. What is even more noteworthy. Greek Roman Empire. as someone who has come of age 143 Ivan Gobry. PG 78. 146 Barnes. 179. 311 is crucial since it deals directly with the First Council of Ephesus and the emperor’s involvement in the deliberations. Les moines en Occident. there was probably nothing exceptional in the fact that he might write to the emperor.144 Another Egyptian monk of note was John of Lycopolis. however. 145 Gobry. 146 One can thus imagine that for Isidore.147 In consideration of Isidore’s own influence we may begin by examining his connection with Constantinople. 160. 192-193. since the only superior force above the emperor was the Christian God.and to think of their own salvation and for the welfare of the poor. 204 C) and Ep.35. 361 D-364 A). Les moines en Occident: De saint Antoine à saint Basile – les origines orientales (Paris: Fayard. 33 . most famously. 230 148 Ep. 311 (= 1. 148 Ep. It was crucial that their actions and decisions be thought/seen to have divine sanction. and the officially designated link between the two were the bishops and the holy men. whom Theodosius I relied on for information on the state of Egypt and. is that both letters reveal the emperor. Isidore wrote two letters to Theodosius II. Athanasius and Constantius.

SC 98 ed. 3. See also I. 300-700. “Problems of Dating and Pertinence in Some Letters of Theodoret of 34 . Azéma). 154 Again. Bagnall. individuals devote themselves to vice and carnal excesses. 95. therefore. “its inflexibility made it burdensome in villages with low productivity” as compared to the larger centres.150 As the capital of Augustamnica I and located at the crossroads between Egypt and the East.152 Thus. 154 On this subject. 218. 221. “The Other Cities in Later Roman Egypt” in Egypt in the Byzantine World. 307. “Agricultural Productivity and Taxation in Later Roman Egypt. 152 Brown. 153 while Theodoret.. 141. “Rise and Function. 149 Although Bagnall has revealed that the taxation rates of Egypt were relatively low by the time of Diocletian.” Transaction of the American Philological Association 115 (1985). by Roques. ed.” 90. 42-47 (106-124.. 35. and Isidore himself urges his colleagues to flee the cities. In Ep. during the latter half of the century. The letters of Isidore at least testify to this to a certain degree: local officials steal from the people and the Church. regularly contacted influential figures at court to complain of heavy taxation and the difficulties of repayment due to poor harvests. local holy men like Isidore held spiritual sway over their communities by directing collective penance and leading the charge against misfortune. 35. Barbarians. 151 Ep. Isidore thus pleads with the emperor to relieve the economic burden on cities and reminds him that God rewards good management. 2007). Roger S. 35: καιὶ δέοντι σκορπισμῷ τοὶ βάρος κούφιζε τοῦ πλούτου.151 During such times of upheavals.and seems increasingly in charge of the affairs of the empire. his contemporary Synesius wrote that in a just system the supplying and equipping of the army ought not to overburden the citizens that it is there to defend. Isidore here surely has in mind the heavy taxes imposed on the cities of the East to rebuild the Roman army after the disaster of Adrianople in 378 CE. Isidore alludes to an unfair distribution of taxes and urges the emperor to ease the fiscal burden that weighs over the citizens of the empire. Pelusium must have benefitted somewhat from its position. See also Alan Cameron and Jacqueline Long. in Synésos de Cyrène: Correspondance. but it certainly did not escape the effects of economic fluctuations and social disruptions of the fourth and fifth centuries CE. G. Ep. the 149 Van Minnen. 153 Synesius of Cyrene to Evoptius. vol. In Ep. Tompkins. see series of letters by Theodoret to persons of high ranking at court: Epp. ed. 150 Roger S. Bagnall (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

” Tompkins. 156 Just as revealing. Therefore. which is indicated by the fact that Isidore complains about them to Rufinus. however. whom Theodoret describes as ‘our bishop’ and as a ‘slanderer’ (συκοφάντὴς). one can also discern throughout some of Isadora’s correspondence a social malaise that pervaded Pelusium.155 In composing his Ep. “Episcopal Elections. But before establishing this circle of acquaintances it is important first to understand what drove Isidore to write to them. the corrupt governor (corrector) of Augustamnica. 35 . the Praetorian Prefect of the East at the time. “Problems. act accordingly. 35. 1 (1995): 176-182.” Byzantion 65. 47. As Tompkins notes. This general social malaise is due to many factors.” 69. 156 PLRE 2. “there were no other bishops in the patriarchate of Antioch known to have been deposed at a local council in this period. and the overly ambitious Gigantius. Cyrrhus. says Isidore. therefore. The identity of the individual Theodoret complains about has subsequently been identified as Athnasius of Perrha. Greek Roman Empire. For an example of such a letter in which Theodoret references Athanasius. A number of the letters also make references to “an anonymous party in the capital. Both cases occur around the year 431/432 CE.5 Cyrenius and Gigantius: Besides showing the relative degree of influence which Isidore exercised on the emperor as a holy man.” Bevan.” 191. Isidore had at least some reason to hope that he stood a chance that the emperor would listen and. who as already mentioned above (note 116) was deposed from he episcopate in 445 CE. Chief among these in Pelusium are Cyrenius. no. but it is those at the top who are to blame. One of Cyrenius’ first acts upon being made governor.emperor often responded to such individual pleas by bringing forward legislation. it is almost certain that Athanasius is the figure to whose conduct Theodoret is repeatedly alluding in these letters. 953: Rufinus 8. Theodoret complains bitterly that this excommunicated bishop was obstructing his efforts at having the reduction of the iugatio for Cyrrhus confirmed. is what Isidore’s letters say about these two officials in terms of the extent of his connections in those years. see note 117. In one instance in 415 CE Theodosius wrote to the Praetorian Prefect Aurelianus to tell him that soldiers are not allowed to appropriate for themselves any land not granted by imperial ordinance and to limit taxes on landowners. 4. 155 Millar. perhaps.

163 Thus.158 In fact. 138. 161 All that is known about Gigantius comes from the letters of Isidore. See also PLRE 2.157 In Ep. As Kelly also underlines.178. 178). was to put up a declaration on the front of the church of Pelusium that effectively removed the right of the citizens to defend themselves or from seeking asylum in their church. with Pelusium facing a 157 Ep. 160 Ep. 297 D-300 A). in often complex and knowingly opaque legalistic detail. He accuses him of slander. PG 78. 176 (= 1. 445 C). PG 78. 162 Ep. 163 Ep. 296 C-297 A). Ruling. PG 78. which suggests that he either once held this position in Pelusium or that he claimed it before.487.176. 158 Ep. 162 Isidore warns a certain Seleucus. 484 (= 1. who was presumably a person of influence in Constantinople and perhaps even the famous Fl. 161 In a series of pointed letters.484. such as taxes and poor harvests. 140. Gigantius’ excesses have even driven some citizens out of the city to find work in other parts. fixed prices for specified bureaucratic actions.160 In the case of Gigantius.according to Isidore. 512: Gigantius. 159 In the letter to Rufinus alone (Ep. notwithstanding all their other financial obligations. PG 78. Taurus Seleucus Cyrus mentioned above. we also learn from Isidore that Gigantius was a native of Cappadocia. 36 . of lying to the courts.174. 176. he suggests that it was better for small-landholders to walk away from litigation than to pay the high fees to settle a dispute in the courts. PG 78. of stealing from the citizens. Ruling.” Kelly. 448 B-C). 174 (= 1. 487 (= 1. Apart from being an a corrupted and ambitious governor of Augustamnica. Isidore sent word to officials in Constantinople of the threat that Gigantius represented. and of attacking the Church. that Gigantius is at court (ἐπι ὶ στρατοπέδου) and claims once again the governorship for himself (πάλιν ἑαυτῷ τὴὶν ἀρχὴὶν ἐκδικεῖ). of appropriating money originally sent out for the poor. Isidore claims to have faced a man whose ruthless ambition could only be surpassed by his crimes. Isidore complains of the fact that Cyrenius has reduced the citizens of Pelusium to such a state of misery that the rule of law is ignored and no one dares to resist. 297 B) 159 The administration of the later Empire issued an ordo salutationis “which listed. 178 (= 1. Isidore tells the citizens of Pelusium that their governor is putting up the courts for sale by peddling judgements to the highest bidder and urges them to avoid embroiling themselves in litigations. such administrative barriers discouraged many small-landholders from seeking justice. Kelly.

il perd son caractère de préfet régional et devient. who actually succeeded Antiochus the Elder. 166 Καιὶ προὴγάγετο ἔπαρχον Ἀτίοχον τοὶν Χούζωντα.. the future looked bleak. et la préfecture d’Orient qui est le corps même de l’Empire. 1974).6 Appeals to Praetorian Prefects of the East: But who are these court officials to whom Isidore writes to campaign against Gigantius? Rufinus. and there was a possibility of an even worse one on the way. Il n’y a aucune commune mesure entre la petite préfecture d’Illyricum. “the grandson of the elder Antiochus Chuzo.. the city was at war with one governor.17-18 (eds. on note bien des inégalités dans les divisions administratives. 489 (= 1. lorsqu’il s’installe à Constantinople. pp. un véritable premier ministre ayant compétence sur l’Empire entier. Isidore could hopefully look towards his highly-placed connections in Constantinople for help. 165 Ep. PG 78. 178 and Ep.. 164 one of which is addressed specifically to him under the title of Praetorian Prefect.. Και ὶ μετ᾽ αὐτοὶν προήχθὴ ἔπαρχος Ῥουφῖνος ὁ συγγενὴὶς τοῦ αὐτοῦ βασιλέως· και ὶ ἐφονεύθὴ ὡς μελετήσας τυραννίδα. résultat d’un partage politique.489.165 The chronicler John Malalas states that Theodosius II made a relative of his named Rufinus PPO to replace Antiochus Chuzon the Younger. The two letters addressed specifically to him. with the Rufinus who served under Theodosius I. and Keydell. 448 D). réside souvent à Antioche. à l’intérieur de la pars orientalis. 4.situation in which the citizens suffered under the weight of over-taxation. “surtout. 75.” and adds that this Rufinus was put to death for plotting a rebellion.14.” Gilbert Dagron. τοὶν ἔγγονον Ἀντόχου τοῦ Χούζωνος τοῦ μεγάλου. Chron. Kambylis. malgré son titre inchangé. 489:. 166 Martindale observes that John Malalas has confused the Rufinus of Theodosius II. allows us to date the governorship of Cyrenius and the machinations of Gigantius. the Praetorian Prefect already mentioned. jusqu’à Théodose I.ὑμεῖς δεὶ τὴὶν βασιλέως γνώμὴν προὶς ὃ βούλεσθε ἔχετε. …[Constantinople] appartient administrativement à la préfecture du prétoire d’Orient. Naissance d’une capitale: Constantinople et ses institutions de 330 à 451 (Paris: Presses universitaires de France. mais le préfet. portray a highly placed individual who managed the affairs of the East and had the ear of the emperor. John Malalas. 282-283). As Dagron notes. ὃς παρέσχεν ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ τῇ μεγάλῃ προσθήκὴν χρὴμάτων εἰς τοὶ ἱππικοὶν και ὶ ταὶ Ὀλύμπια και ὶ τοὶν Μαϊουμᾶν.. Beck. thus confirming that there was indeed a PPO 164 Ep. 37 .

the reference to Augustamnica having had to suffer once before under a corrupt Cappadocian governor seems to confirm Gigantius’ first term in that office. ed. 392-393. who became Praetorian Prefect of Illyricum in 424 CE. he can have the law changed so as to prevent Cappadocians from governing the Province and let Egyptians take their place. 170 Isidore warns him that Gigantius is again at court seeking power for himself.named Rufinus in 431/432 CE. Évieux. the monk seems quite respectful as he urges the Prefect to save the Pelusians from the clutches of Cyrenius (Ep. especially while he is over there at court. In Ep.168 Although Isidore does not name Gigantius specifically. 178). the monk urges Florentius that it is now time for Gigantius to be chastised. Fl. and later became 167 PLRE 2: Rufinus 8. Isidore tells Rufinus that. 489. at the height of Isidore’s influence. which Isidore claims is overflowing with many such filthy individuals.169 According to the laws emitted under his name. Indeed.167 As to Isidore’s relationship with him. its content and Isidore’s somewhat respectful tone leave no doubt as to the addressee’s identity. 478-479: Fl. Anthemius Isidorus. The first is Fl. and consul in 429 CE. Florentius. 486 (= 1. 168 Évieux remarks that due to the excesses of Gigantius. See also CLRE. 38 . Florentius was City Prefect in 422 CE. Isidore grouped all Cappadocians together as being part of an offensive and corrupt race. The other official in Constantinople Isidore knows at this time is possibly his namesake Fl. Isidore continues his crusade against Gigantius in letters to two other very important officials who both served as the highest official during the crucial decade of 428-438 CE. 169 Ep. 448 A). Although so far he has escaped retribution. Florentius 7. PG 78. PLRE 2. since he is a close advisor to the emperor. Isidore goes so far as to state that there have been too many Cappadocians like Gigantius allowed remain in the administration of the state. and although again there is no official title that accompanies this letter. 953. twice Praetorian Prefect of the East in 428-429 CE and 438-439 CE. 170 Martindale. Isidore de Péluse.486. 49.

however. Theodoret makes use of all the linguistic trappings of someone addressing 39 . PLRE 2. Isidore writes to an Isidorus about the corruption of Cappadocians. Ep. 478) and consul in 429 CE (CLRE. 176 Bishops and clerics addressed officials in different ways according to their rank in the administration. no official title for this Isidorus has been preserved with the letter. 173 Ep. Anthemius Isidorus was a native of Alexandria. 356.299. 144-145. 406-407. τοῖς περιπτώμασι συγγινώσκετε. when the monk wrote to him about the trader Bonus. since Isidore’s tone could just as easily be a reflection of the formal way of addressing an official in another part of the empire. D). 393). in which Isidore asks for help on behalf of the trader Bonus who lost his grain at sea. PG 78. 485. και ὶ πολιήταις ἤνυσε καρποτόκου Δὴμήτερος ὄμπνιον ὄλβον. 171 In Ep. which at first would not seem to signify a close relationship nurtured over many years. which would confirm this Isidorus as being a prefect. δικαιοσύνῃ κυβερνῶντες ταὶ πράγματα· ἢ ἄχρις ἂν ἁμαρτάνωμεν. CLRE. is addressed to a certain Isidorus ἔπαρχῳ. Schor.174 One might thus speculate here concerning a possible connection between Isidore of Pelusium and Fl. but that he was either a prefect or consul. Senator (PLRE 2. 631. He was also consul in 436 CE together with FL. Anthemius Isidorus 9. PG 78.299. Anthemius Isidorus. 172 Although. 632. see PLRE 2: 631-632: Fl. 299 (= 1. If one analyzes the language. ὃς ἀνθυπάτων και ὶ ὑπάρχωνθῶκον ἑλωὶν κόσμὴσεν ἀγακλέα.173 We may tentatively conclude therefore that Isidorus was probably not Prefect of East when Isidore wrote to him about the Cappadocians. although there is evidence 171 For details on his career. 176 For instance. 485 (= 1. 299 (= 1. in a letter to Florentius.Praetorian Prefect in the East in 435-436 CE and finally consul in 436 CE. 631-633). 175 But neither does this necessarily preclude the possibility that the two knew each other in some previous capacity. the language yet again suggests someone who wielded considerable authority. as with Florentius. consider the end of Ep. 174 PLRE 2. PG 78. probably in 436 CE. again in reference to Gigantius. 172 Ep. 445. 299. 175 For example. according to an inscription from Ephesus. Isidorus was PPO in 435-436 CE. Isidore keeps a respectful tone. The inscription is as follows: ὂρχαμον Ἰσιόδωρον ὁρᾷς Φαρίὴς ἀποὶ γαίὴς καιὶ Νείλου γονόεντος. 357 A): Ἢ τοίνυν τῷ σάλῳ τῆς θαλάσσὴς ἐπιτιμήσατε. Interestingly enough. one which could have been fermented while the future Prefect was in Egypt. which fits the timeline of 431-432 CE. On the other hand. Theodoret’s People. So.485. Fl. D). who was prefect in 428-429 CE (PLRE 2: Florentius 7.

so that the only certain conclusion is that at the time of Gigantius’ actions in Pelusium. Isidorus was not in office as Praetorian Prefect of the East.τοὶ ὑμέτερον μέγεθος. With officials who ranked lower than praetorian prefects. Ep.πίστει κοσμούμενοι και ὶ ταὶ θεῖα πεπαιδευμένοι. or he would not have been there in the first place. but were probably also well versed in the intricacies of imperial court politics. as a holy man of standing. pp. After all. 77-78). both addressed εὐνούχῳ (τοῦ) παλατίου. pp. Theodoret’s People. Isidore manifestly knew whom to contact when attempting to convince the emperor to act. Azéma. 177 Schor. And if Isidore felt certain enough.177 The problem is that we do not possess any other letter from Isidore to Isidorus to make a valid comparison. but in some other powerful office. 27. surrounded as he was by palace courtiers and ambitious officials. 28-29. that the emperor did involve himself as best he could in the affairs of the empire as he came of age. While it is true. but when writing to local colleagues.. as we have seen. 776). Indeed..και ὶ τὴὶν οἰκείαν εὐτέλειαν μετρεῖν ἐπιστάμενος και ὶ τῆς ὑμετέρας ἐξουσίας τοὶν ὄγκον εἰδώς. Azéma.. he was also under no illusions that the court was a paradise devoid of any corruption. Gigantius must have felt justified in his hopes of obtaining success in Constantinople. 40 .. while approving of his governorship in general. it became more friendly. (ed. 101-102).. Theodoret admonishes him against the dangers that come with power and reminds him of his responsibilites. his tone always remained distantly affectionate and functional. Theodoret of Cyrrhus. Neon (PLRE 2: Neon 1. that his plea on the part his community might have a chance to reach the emperor. SC 40. such as governors. 5. two letters from Isidore to palace eunuchs have survived... Theodoret of Cyrrhus. 37. Theodoret used a tone of mild superiority. Florentius and Isidorus were thus key figures of the court who not only pursued distinguished careers before serving as Praetorian Prefect. For example.. SC 40. (ed. he was not always successful at this. Ep. The first to be listed in Migne is Ep. however.that Theodoret had a relationship with the bishop Proclus over a period of twelve years. in a letter to the governor of Euphratensis. it seems that he even had access to at least two imperial chamberlains. which is addressed to the eunuch Pharismanius and consists of a general criticism of this courtier’s greediness and love of an official of important standing: .. Indeed.

vol. 179 PLRE 2. outside of the chronicles and contemporary letters.183 Similarly. Chron. 462 (= 1. he should be able to 178 Ep. 993: Serenus 3. 178. Isidore tells Antiochus that although he is a servant of the imperial power and has the ability to orient that power however he likes. ed. 245.180 Originally from Persia. 185 If Serenus prays to God. “Antiochus the ‘Praepositus’: A Pesian Eunuch at the Theodosisus II” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 50 (1996). 36. 14. and Keydell.14. 462. 184 Ep. there is no mention of Antiochus in any of the surviving histories. 27 (= 1.182 In a letter written to his brother in 404/405 CE.. 281). which is addressed to a certain Antiochus. 81.και ὶ ἔμεινεν μεταὶ τοὶ πλὴρῶσαι αὐτοὶν ὡς πατρίκιος καταυθεντῶν τοῦ αὐτοῦ Θεοδοςίου. Greek Roman Empire.” Geoffrey Greatrex and Jonathan Bardill. “an influential Persian eunuch at the court of Constantinopolitan court…[was] scarcely suitable material [for the Church historians]. 183 Αὐτῷ τε γαὶρ ἀνεῖται ταὶ βασιλέως ὦτα καιὶ προὶ τούτων ἡ γνώμὴ χρῆσθαι προὶς ὅ τι δέοιτο. Millar. 110.462. he arrived in Constantinople in 404 CE and took care of the early education of the emperor and his sisters. 180 Ep. τούτῳ δύναται· δύναται δεὶ Ἀντίοχος ὅσα βούλεται. however blinded by visions of grandeur he may be. Synesius of Cyrene lists the names of the different individuals who had “the ear of the emperor” and admitted to him that the power of Antiochus was such that the eunuch could do whatever he wished. 174-176. p.179 We are however more fortunate in the case of Ep. 36. 872: Pharismanius 1. Isidore tells him.184 Clearly Isidore was just as aware of the instances of intrigue and corruption going on in Constantinople as he was of those in Pelusium. Beck. Synesius of Cyrene. Ep. 200 B). 101-102: Antiochus 5. 185 PLRE 2. PG 78. in Synésios de Cyrène: Correspondance.. Ep. 36 (= 1. Theodosian Empresses. Curiously enough. He reveals as much to the tribune Serenus in Ep. 182 Ὁ δεὶ αὐτοὶς Θεοδόσιος βασιλευὶς ἐποίὴσεν κακῶς Ἀντιόχῳ τῷ πραιποςίτῳ καιὶ πατρικίῳ δυναμένῳ ἐν τῷ παλατίῳ και ὶ κρατήσαντι τῶν πραγμάτων. see Greatrex and Bardill. Καιὶ ὅσα Ἀντίοχος δύναται.27. John Malalas. 194. 181 PLRE 2. and demoted all holders of the post of praepositus. Yet. See also Roques. “Antiochus the ‘Praepositus’”.pleasure. 166-167 and Holum. Étude. confiscated his property. as Greatrex and Bardill suggest. 3. by Roques. PG 78. 204-205 D-A). he should seek to give force to justice if he is so interested in the holy Scriptures. (eds. PG 78.. 41 . For the dating of this letter. 181 He was said to have controlled Theodosius from the beginning and continued to do so until the emperor dismissed him. despite being an individual of high rank in charge of the imperial children. in which he councils the tribune who is about to leave on a journey to Constantinople. Kambylis. 436 D).36.178 The letter does not reveal much else about Pharismanius and happens to be the only proof of his existence.

50. Ep. which pertain to the theme of good governorship. who writes that Proclus travelled with Leonas to Constantinople “as a favour to Theodorus. 187 Two of them include the title αὐγούσταλιος. ἣν αὐτῷ μαστεύει δαψιλῶς ὁ Ἀνδρόγυνος. MI: Phanes Press. PG 78. PG 78. and foreign wars. Isidore also writes to an official in Egypt whose position of influence would also have represented an asset for the monk. Isidore addresses three letters to a Theodorus. 1986). the Alexandrian governor.” 190 Marinus also includes Proclus’ horoscope at the end of his Vita Procli. 22. 190 Marinus. 1859 (= 5. Guthrie (Grand Rapids. 189 PLRE 2.462.reach the emperor he longs after. by David R.188 Even without the titles to help us identify him. 462 (= 1. 1728 (= 5. he does allude to the problems faced by the Pelusians and the empire as a whole. 42 . liberality and friendliness to philosophy. Fideler and trans. Ep. Martindale lists a Theodorus who was praefectus Augustalis during the time when the Neo-Platonist philosopher Proclus studied with Leonas the sophist in Alexandria. by Kenneth S. Although Isidore does not mention any specific names to help us pinpoint a date for the letters.462.372. such as the tyranny of certain officials. ed. a man of great distinction. which as we have seen is the designation for provincial governor for the territory west of Augustamnica. 1596 B). Isidore’s influence and experience seemed to have gone beyond the sphere of public officials and reached the inner sanctum of the emperor’s court. 381.189 The reference is taken from Marinus of Samaria. Later Roman Empire. the buying and selling of offices. 436 D): …χρῄζεις τῆς ὀρέξεως Καίσαρος. PG 78. PG 78. however. whom the hermaphrodite seeks liberally for himself. 188 Jones. 850 (= 3. 187 Ep. 764 D-A). Assuming Proclus was eighteen at the time of his journey to 186 Ep. 1088: Theodorus 15. which was dated by Delmaire to 412 CE. 1549 C). Vita Procli 9. 186 Thus. Theodorus’ position as governor would still have been discernable from the contents of the letters alone.

“Notes prosopographiques sur quelques lettres d’Isidore de Péluse. If the letter does indeed hold elements of Isidore’s disappointment with the actions of Cyril. 43 . Although at face value the letter appears to concern corrupt secular officials of the likes of Cyrenius and Gigantius. The tone of the letters is similar to that found in those to Harpocras and others. As will be shown. V. ed. 1966). the later career of the prefect Isidorus tells us something of the degree of influence that Isidore may have been able to exert on such officials in Egypt who were rising in the ranks. his governor friend Theodorus would thus have had to have been in office in 430 CE. Ep. Hakkert. it would be tempting to view it as a reflection of Isidore’s criticism of Cyril of Alexandria and his machinations for securing the deposition of Nestorius at Ephesus in 431 CE. Ecclesiastical Connections: 191 Roland Delmaire. nor one who would be celebrated for the effectiveness of his speech alone. one could tentatively date it to immediately after the Council of Ephesus. in which Isidore seems to be explaining a matter to friends who value his experience and knowledge. Vita Procli 35. Isidore argues that a good leader is not someone who would exploit different factions or buy off votes with bribes. Reprint. Marinus. The letters to Theodorus also possibly indicate an aspect of the relationship between Isidore and Alexandria itself. 34 (1988): 233. it would indicate that the monk remained in close contact with an official in Alexandria. once the full extent of Cyril’s desire to depose Nestorius became known among his allies back in Egypt. 1728 is perhaps even more suggestive. who had the potential to rise in the ranks and eventually reach Constantinople. Boissonade (1814. If Isidore’s Theodorus is the same as the one described by Marinus. Isidore did not shy away from making known to Cyril himself how he viewed the bishop’s style of politics.191 In this sense.Constantinople.” Revue des Études Augustiniennes. 28. by J. Finally. Amsterdam: Adolf M.

Similarly. Synesius believed that he had a primarily social responsibility: the citizens chose Synesius to plead with the emperor for tax relief and protection from the corrupt governor Andronicus.5. 193 Ep. vol. 193 The first concerns what Isidore believes is the duty of an ecclesiastic in that world. ix. 2.. but also to put it into action on behalf of his community and the destitute.1 Social Role of Clerics: Among Isidore’s ecclesiastical correspondents. rather than underlining the bishop’s role as the official representative of a particular see.195 Also reminiscent of a secular role..232. 232 (= 1. the famous philosopher and bishop of Pentapolis. Synesius. Évieux also thinks that the opening sentence of Ep. ἀλλαὶ μὴὶ ῥᾳθυμοῦντας και ὶ πολεμίοις ἐκκεῖσθαι. 78. 195 Bregman. 44 . since it presents two very important aspects of the ecclesiastical world of the fifth century. καιὶ βάλλειν ταὶς ἐναντίας φάλαγγας πίστει. As we have seen. 13-15 above. 325 C): Καλοὶν μεὶν τοὶ προὶ κινδύνων ἐζῶσθαι τὴὶν ὀσφυὶν. It was the duty of the ecclesiastic not just to teach the Word of God. introduction to Synésios de Cyrène: Correspondance. 71. Isidore’s actions in Pelusium seemed to reflect this philosophy. much like the traditional embassies sent from cities to the emperors. Denis Roques. καιὶ Θεῷ διακονεῖσθαι. bishops would travel to the capital on behalf of the poor. a priest or a bishop ought to protect his community as best he can from both internal and external hostile forces and he will be guided in this by his confidence in God. 232 hints at the violent struggle Synesius led in Cyrene against the neighbouring barbarian tribes. 192 It seems fitting therefore that Isidore’s sole letter to Synesius should also be one of his most expansive. the approximate date of Synesius’ death.194 Thus. 194 Évieux. Poverty and Leadership. Isidore de Péluse. PG 78.196 Isidore therefore would probably have agreed with Synesius’ concept of the 192 The letter must therefore date to the period before 413/414 CE. See also pp. 196 Brown. we have already established that there are good grounds to believe that the Synesius to whom Isidore wrote is indeed Synesius of Cyrene. much as they would have done with a local politician in earlier times. 42 and 77. stressing that a true servant of God should have confidence that he will be able to ward off his enemies and that he ought to avoid indifference when faced with adversity.

since Origen already in the third century complained about bishops in large cities who regarded asceticism with wariness and who were constantly surrounding themselves with wealthy and refined ladies. PG 78. “Bishops and Monks. See also Gregory. Upon being made bishop of Constantinople in 397 CE John Chrysostom himself began a sweeping series of measures against corrupt clergy. payments of money and the sale of offices had become a common occurrence within the ecclesiastic community in the fifth and sixth centuries. PG 78. p. 976 B).324.310.127. 198 Ep. 682-85). Synesius. (PG 48. De Sacerdotio. John Chrysostom.” who looks beyond mere temporal affairs and focuses instead on ideal forms of good in order to bridge the gap between the human and the divine. Contra Celsum 3. 198 From what he says it appears that he had noticed a lack of discipline among religious officials: priests had become ‘careless’. 369 B). Hartranft. 392 C). 201 With the title: Epp. and to antagonize righteously those who acted unjustly. NPNF. PG 78.9. by Chester D. 199 Indeed. PG 78. 324 (= 1. 323 (= 1. like Isidore.200 5. PG 45 . and trans. by Henry Chadwick (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.2 Cyril of Alexandria: If one reads Isidore’s letters to Cyril of Alexandria.” 170.3 (Eng.” Studia Patristica 24 (1993): 47.79. τῶν κυκλούντων κακῶν οὐ διδόν τῶν ἅψασθαι τῶν ἀμυντὴρίων ὀργάνων· ἐπει ὶ και ὶ Φινεεὶς σειρομάστῃ ἐχρήσατο. 369 C). so that as agents of God they could not properly defend the people from ‘hostile forces. cols. 400). PG 78.306.323. Chrysostom. ὥστε μὴδεὶ καιροὶν ἒχειν Θεῷ ἱερατεύειν. 199 Origen. trans. just as in the imperial bureaucracy.’ Isidore of course was not the first to observe this. HE 8. See also Henry Chadwick. 129. one gets the impression that he thought the bishop’s actions reflected the troubling state of the Church and merited the same criticism as he outlines in Ep. 1106 (= 3.“philosophical ecclesiastic. 1980). 45-46 200 Huebner. eight addressed to him with the title of bishop of Alexandria and three without the title. 232: …ἐπειδὴὶ εἰς τοῦτο προήλθομεν ἀβουλίας. Isidore wrote eleven letters in all to Cyril. PG 78. 370 (= 1. 136-137. He was naturally disposed to reprehend the misconduct of others. 310 (= 1.197 The other aspect of the ecclesiastical world reflected in Ep. 232 to Synesius cited above. ed. 232 is Isidore’s observation that this important social role of the ecclesiastic was being threatened. and “he also ejected some of the clergy from the Church. ὅτε Θεοὶς παρωργίζετο. since the bad air was said to pose a danger to their life of simplicity and labour.370. Vox Populi. 565 A-572 C).” Sozomen. 1328(= 5. also disapproved of monks who moved to urban centres and mingled with the crowd. 361 C). 627 (= 1. “Currencies of Power. 201 197 Bregman.

127. PG 78. 25.268.497. Epp.205 It is possible that Ep. 1493 A) without the title: Epp. 204 Évieux. PG 78. 1328 (= 5. PG 78. 452 D-453 A). 460 (= 1. 1328 belongs to this same group of letters in which Isidore complains of Martinianus’ actions in Pelusium. In Ep. like Athanasius of Perrha did when he 78. Isidore writes to this Martinianus to criticize him directly for his insolent behaviour and his general arrogance. PG 78. but that now the Church has lost much of its former strength and does the empire’s bidding. Isidore feels that he can broach this subject with Cyril and expect results. 1106 and 1582 concern the relationship of power between the empire and the Church. 1979). 984 C). 203 Antoine Guillaumont.79. Isidore suggests. 1582 (= 5. 161. 202 Ep. 436 B) and 1122 (= 3.203 Although again this letter could refer to any event that might have occurred in and around Pelusium. PG 78. since this change in the balance of power between empire and Church could refer to any number of events in the fifth century CE. has no place in the life of a man of God. Isidore de Péluse. 393 (= 1. who. 497 (= 1.204 In other letters. PG 78. 217-218 205 Epp. “Histoire des moines aux Kellia” in Aux origines du monachisme chrétien: Pour une phénoménologie du monachisme (Bégrolles en Mauges: Abbaye de Bellefontaine. None of these letters really indicate the date of their composition. Isidore complains to Cyril about a troublesome oikonomos.393. PG 78. which. sometimes assisting the community as a whole or just one individual cleric. 1373 B). 1328 concerns corrupt priests and their oikonomoi [stewards] in Pelusium. Significantly.322. whom he names Martinianus. the selling of baskets woven by the community.25. some of the responsibilities and duties of the oikonomoi included intervening when money was left by a stranger. 25 (= 1. and 497 helps us to distinguish whether Isidore is writing to Cyril the bishop or any other Cyril. Ep. Isidore tells Cyril that in the past the Church was strong enough to criticize the wrongs committed by the empire.Nothing in the contents of Epp. have a tendency to fall victim to cupidity.460. Of the letters addressed to Cyril as bishop. 46 . 404 B). 393. it may be possible to suggest a plausible identification for one particular oikonomos.202 The oikonomoi took care of the finances of the local ecclesiastic community. 161. 1373 B): …οὔτε ἡ ἀπλὴστία τῶν οἰκονομούτων τὴὶν Πὴλουσιωτῶν Ἐκκλὴσίαν κόρον οἶδεν. he says. 197 B-C). According to Guillaumont.

The letter also seems to suggest that Cyril lost his ascetic ways when he became bishop. 156). Socrates. 208 Ep. NPNF. 310. get some sense of the intensity of their relationship from the viewpoint of Isidore. Let us first consider Ep. since we do not possess any replies from Cyril to Isidore. trans. We do. St. Zenos.206 The tone of the language of the letters seems to suggest some deep familiarity between Isidore and Cyril: as with the letters to Harpocras and Synesius. 323. its date could range at any time between the beginning of Cyril’s episcopate in 412 CE. HE 7. p. 370.” and the establishment of the Formula of Reunion in 433 CE.7 (Eng. when Socrates tells us that Cyril began to assume “the administration of secular matters. 208 Although this letter could have been meant for any other Cyril. 3. Cyril of Alexandria. which as will be shown is the latest we can confidently date Isidore’s letters to Cyril. 24-25 above). Ep. since he risks endangering the Church. One could postulate from this a scenario in which a young Cyril is trained as a monk in the eastern deserts while staying with Isidore. 1328 and Ep.faced the rebellion of priests in his see (pp. 370. 324. on the other hand. 127 would thus suggest the possibility that Cyril was an essential member of Isidore’s social network in Egypt. and it is possible to construct a time frame from those letters which are addressed to Cyril as bishop of Alexandria. the contents seem to match Cyril of Alexandria’s actions in his see and his quest to depose Nestorius. 47 . Whether.” Interestingly enough. 207 For example. Cyril considered himself part of a network with Isidore remains unclear. Isidore chastises him for taking an interest in worldly affairs rather than meditating in solitude. Isidore mentions that Cyril sometimes refers to him as “father. Isidore is quite blunt and presents a no-nonsense attitude with Cyril. Isidore commands Cyril to stop his quarrels with others. and to create in it instead an atmosphere of “perpetual discord.” Ought we to conclude then that Cyril had been a student of Isidore’s at some point early in his career? The tone of the letter certainly sounds like that of a mentor or teacher reprimanding a former student. this time without a title. however. 25: given the general vagueness of the contents of this letter and its focus on Cyril’s interest in world affairs. 207 McGuckin. in another letter addressed to Cyril. although Cyril never 206 Epp.

On Isidore’s piety and knowledge of Scripture note also Severus of Antioch: … adversus Isidorum sapientem in Domino presbyterum Pelusii…presbyter orthodoxus illius civitatis. 159-161). Given the particularly confrontational nature of Cyril’s episcopate. Theodoret’s People. HE 1. NPNF.210 Regardless of the exact nature of their relationship. it is revealing that here. και ὶ ἐμοὶν γεγενῆσθαι πατέρα. 247. Theodoret writes: Πολλαὶς δεὶ ἔχω τῆς περι ὶ ὑμῶν ἀγάπὴς ταὶς ἀφορμάς. 323. Theodoret of Chyrrus. and 324 can all be reasonably dated to the crucial period of 431-433 CE at the early stages of Cyril’s quarrel with Nestorius and the Antiochenes. The easiest to date is Ep. the designation of Isidore as ‘father’ by Cyril could just as well represent a mark of respect from one spiritual father to another. trans. Lib. 310 and 324. τοὶ τοὶν ὑμέτερον πατέρα. CSCO 102. but these allusions could serve as references to any period of Cyril’s time as bishop. 75 (ed. Cont. As already mentioned. for whom he had great affection. or even the Antiochenes during the Nestorian controversy. who would have deserved the appellation because of his reputation of virtuous asceticism. 156) and 7. HE 7. p. in these two letters. Ep. much like Ep. τοὶν μέγαν ἐκεῖνον και ὶ ἀποστολικοὶν ἄνδρα. Zenos. while Ep. Πρῶτον μεὶν. Isidore tries to make Cyril understand that the power of his see is corrupting him and that his selfishness will create ‘perpetual’ problems for himself and the Church. the Novatians. the contents of Ep. 3. Zenos. Thus.” Evagrius Scholasticus. trans. St.). 310. NPNF. since. Lebon. 323. pp. see Socrates. Isidore reproves Cyril. 19. Whitby. Isidore does allude to Cyril’s quarrels and talks of avenging a personal insolence. Azéma. Gramm.25.15 (Eng. 48 . p. 3-8 (ed. 182. trans. such as his clashes with Orestes. Cyril of Alexandria. SC 98. 211 For the struggle between Cyril and the Novatians and Jews. p. 209 More realistically. like Ep.mentions such a time in his correspondence to other monks. a “spiritual father” whom he shared with others who had been touched by him. See Schor. in a letter to the priests of Beroea. it explicitly mentions the council of Ephesus of 431 CE. TTH 33. is a declaration of Isidore’s theological view within the context 209 McGuckin.211 However Epp. Imp. 311 to Theodosius. 210 Theodoret considered Acacius. the Jews. bishop of Beroea.13-16 (Eng. p. In both Epp. 41). 161). Severus of Antioch. cuius explanationes recte faciebat.7 (Eng. plenusque erat divina sapientia et scientia inspiratae Scripturae. 370 do not provide us with a reliable idea of the date of its composition. 310. Also Evagrius Scholasticus on Isidore’s ascetism: “…this man so wasted the flesh by toils and so enriched the soul with elevating words that on earth he pursued and angelic life and throughout was a living monument of solitary life and contemplation of God. 419 to bishop Hermogenes.

In Ep. sans violence. … Nous sommes donc là peu avant l’ouverture du concile. Évieux narrows it down even further: “la lettre 310 correspond au début du concil d’Éphèse. those who have been assembled and are presently still in a state of having been assembled. since he let the bishop know of what he saw as the former’s petty and vengeful ways. 5. Isidore advises Cyril not to seek vengeance on his enemies.of the Christological debate.3 John Chrysostom: Isidore reserves one of his severest criticisms of Cyril for the end of Ep. en 431…. while neglecting the message of Christ. Barnes and George Bevan. 310.[Isidore] engage Cyrille d’une part à soumettre les causes et les personnes à jugement impartial. Isidore de Péluse. since the perfect tense of the verb in the sentence τῶν συνειλεγμένων εἰς Ἔφεσον suggests the translation “of those who have been gathered together in Ephesus.” i. 82-83. whose ruthless ways perfectly 212 The contents of Ep. introduction to The Funerary Speech for John Chrysostom (TTH 60). and how Évieux arrives at his almost precise date is difficult to determine from the context of the letter. but rather to judge them in a fair manner.212 He also tells the bishop that those who have been assembled at the council ridiculed Cyril behind his back because he chose to quarrel with Nestorius about theological details for reasons of glory.” Évieux. in his actions. Cyril’s standing as the powerful bishop of Alexandria thus in no way intimidated Isidore. 310. It must be stated however that it is next to impossible to know exactly when in conjunction with the council this letter was sent. where he compares the bishop to his uncle and episcopal predecessor Theophilus.e. whose quarrel with John Chrysostom upon the latter’s ordination in 397 CE needlessly brought the deposition and exile of the much beloved bishop six years later. 3. 49 . The fact that Isidore allowed himself to be somewhat critical of Cyril tells us something about the nature of their relationship and emphasises Isidore’s role outlined above as the virtuous monk standing on behalf not just of his community but of the Church in general as well. Cyril was starting to resemble his uncle Theophilus. See appendix for a translation of Isidore’s comparison of Cyril to Theophilus. either just prior to or during the deliberations. à éviter de vider se querelles personnelles. d’autre part. 213 Timothy D. We ought first to analyze Isidore’s criticisms of Cyril and understand how the bishop’s actions represent for Isidore a symptom of the malaise that affected the Church at this time. c’est-à-dire au mois d’avril ou de mai 431.213 Isidore underlines in his letter the fact that. 310 would thus date to the period of the First Council of Ephesus of June 431 CE.

” Socrates. that affected Theophilus. Theophilus. 216 “Wherefore Theophilus bishop of Alexandria. the Tall Brothers fell out of favour with Theophilus because they had decided to leave his service and move to the desert since they were disgusted with his supposed devotion to greed and the acquisition of wealth. p. John soon attracted to himself the enmity of Theophilus and other members of the clergy. p. It would thus be timely here to outline the events surrounding the affair of the Tall Brothers and the Synod of the Oak. NPNF. 218 Socrates. proceeded to enter his own candidate into the race. NPNF. Eusebius. who wasted no time to begin to plot against him. he could be more easily controlled by Eutropius (unlike Theophilus’ candidates. 400). but the powerful eunuch in the imperial court. an Alexandrian priest under his control called Isidorus. For it was not so much the boldness with which John lashed whatever was obnoxious to him. convinced the emperor Arcadius to choose the popular bishop of Antioch instead. HE 6.216 In 400 CE. Zenos. trans.encompassed for Isidore what was problematic in the Church of his day. died in 397 CE. immediately after [John’s] ordination. HE 6. who opposed John’s candidacy. 140).218 Another factor that influenced Theophilus was that the Tall Brothers had given shelter to the presbyter Isidore. Eutropius. therefore. 217 According to Socrates. 2-3. who would look towards Alexandria rather than the court if elected). Vox Populi.214 Among them was John of Antioch.7 (Eng. 50 . 217 Kelly. as a stranger to the court. 44-45. Gregory speculates that the reason John was ultimately chosen was because he had previously refrained from actively taking part in factional politics and because. had been priests working in the service of Theophilus. 215 Barnes and Bevan. Hartranft. collectively called the Tall Brothers. Ammonius. introduction to the Funerary Speech (TTH 60). and concerted measures for his purpose in secret. 3. introduction to the Funerary Speech. p. both with the friends who were around him. a hotly contested election for his replacement ensued. 44.2 (Eng. Barnes and Bevan. the brothers Dioscorus.215 Partly as a result of his elevation to the episcopacy and the immediate reforms he undertook within the Church. in which different sides and cities put forward a host of candidates. as his own failure to place his favourite presbyter Isidore in the episcopal chair of Constantinople. Vox Populi. 190-191. who had previously been expelled from the 214 Gregory. and Euthymius. Sozomen. was plotting his overthrow. Gregory. NPNF.5 (Eng. and by letter with such as were at a distance. later known under the nickname Chrysostom (‘golden mouth’). Zenos. When Nectarious. trans. bishop of Constantinople. trans. HE 8. 143). Golden Mouth.

p. 1992).220 The Brothers and their supporters were forced to leave Egypt and travel to different places in the East.19 (Eng. John did come to the priests’ aid. John’s support among his followers was such that. and annulled all the decrees of the council of the ‘Oak’. 220 Elizabeth Clarke. NPNF. p. who was reluctant to help them in order to avoid the possibility of creating conflict with the powerful Egyptian bishop. HE 8. 44-47. 406). and sent his agents to sow discord between John and the empress Eudoxia. Hartranft.13 (Eng. 51 . 58.221 They finally arrived in Constantinople and brought their case against Theophilus to the attention of John Chrysostom. The bishop of Alexandria then convinced John’s enemies in Constantinople to unearth dirty secrets against their bishop.Church by the bishop on a question of money that Theophilus thought should have gone to him for the building of churches. each time being refused shelter from monks who had been forewarned by the agents of Theophilus about the Brothers’ supposed heretical beliefs. 217. NJ: Princeton University Press. 224 Kelly. John Chrysostom was deposed at a synod that took place in a suburb of Chalcedon called The Oak and exiled. 223 Kelly. trans. 25 221 Kelly. NPNF. See also Wessel. 407). the deed had been done. Gregory. HE 8. returning from his first exile. 194-195. and with that Theophilus’ trap was set. he could remain in his episcopal palace while “sixty bishops assembled together in that city.223 Once Theophilus arrived in the capital in 403 CE. the third-century theologian who espoused the belief in an incorporeal God. HE 8. and the 219 Sozomen. Vox Populi.” 225 After a time. p. 412). however. 225 Sozomen. trans. Hartranft. Golden Mouth. This was an unpopular teaching among the less-educated monks who supported an anthropomorphic deity. Cyril of Alexandria. 222 Sozomen. Golden Mouth. John’s enemies worked to convince the emperor of John’s lack of support.224 Regardless of this defeat. Golden Mouth.219 The bishop subsequently accused the Tall Brothers of being disciples of Origen. 203-212.12 (Eng.222 Despite the danger. NPNF. trans. The Origenist Controversy: the Cultural Construction of an Early Christian Debate (Princeton. Hartranft.

171-173. Vox Populi. Ep. Luce Pietri. see A. this time to the Caucusus. Zenos. 1348 A) and below.230 As already mentioned above (p. 231 Theodoret of Cyrrhus. “St. 407 CE]. On John’s popularity during and after his death. NPNF. PG 78. HE 7.227 Although John had lost his see and suffered two exiles as result of Theophilus’ machinations. or list of revered saints. Annick Martin. trans. trans. trans. 4.e. 226 Finally. who frequently sought his society. p. 229 John’s writings were dispersed all over the East. pp. trans. when in about 416 CE the bishop of Antioch. 227As Socrates specifies: “John was taken into exile died in Comana on the Euxine. where the harsh winters and the dangers posed by the local Isaurians took a toll on him. Alexander. HE 8. John Chrysostom’s Parentage and Education. 229 On John’s possible studies with Libanius. Vox Populi. p. p. 232 Socrates. Jean Chrysostome et saint Isidore de Péluse. 143-144). even when many of them were hunted down and tortured by John’s enemies. HE 6. John came from a well-to-do family in Antioch and was on the point of entering a career in law when he was persuaded by a certain Evagrius to enter the priesthood. the new bishop of Constantinople.M.H. On the diffusion of John’s written output. trans.28 (Eng. introduction to The Funerary Speech. 418) and Barnes and Bevan.231 Atticus. where he dwelt. Hartranft. Zenos.bishop was exiled again in 404 CE. HE 6. On Isidore’s knowledge and reverence of John’s writings. but the former bishop died at the beginning of his journey.35 (ed.” Gregory. HE 5.3 (Eng. 230 “Hence he was exceedingly beloved not only in Armenia. 196. “S.27 (Eng. by the desolateness of the place and the severity of the winter…” John Chrysostom to Marcianus. Gregory. (TTH 60).23 (Eng. Zenos. NPNF. soon followed suit and also restored John’s name to the diptychs.25 (Eng. and his reputation as a virtuous and kind-hearted bishop who stood in the face of wrongdoers and their injustices had an effect on many clerics. see Ep. see also Gregory: “Support for John was thus a very simple matter: to many people he was a kind and saintly bishop who was persecuted for having dared to speak the truth about the powerful of the world. and the second of Theodosius [i. 122M (Eng. Barnes and Bevan. HE 8. HE 8.228 Due to his rhetorical skill and the power of his pen. 4. by J. NPNF. Bouffartigue. 166). 417). his popularity among his adherents never waned. by Pierre Canivet. 5). and the inhabitants of Antioch and the other parts of Syria. became the first to inscribe John’s name on the local diptychs. TTH 60.3) and Sozomen (8. 228 Sozomen. Jones. pp. Both Socrates (6.” Échos d’Orient 1:17 (1898). but by all the people of the neighbouring countries.32. 68. 151-152). p. Hartranft. 52 . SC 530). 138). and Françoise Thelamon and trans. See also Sozomen. p.” The Harvard Theological Review 46:3 (1953). NPNF. including Isidore of Pelusium. trans. and of Cilicia. NPNF.” Sozomen. 58-64. see Edmond Bouvy. Barnes and Bevan.” Socrates. in 407 CE. Hartranft. which was the seventh of Honorius. on the 14th of September. John was ordered by emperor to travel to a remote military outpost along the north-eastern Black Sea. introduction to The Funerary Speech. Socrates.232 Interestingly 226 “I am distressed by the oppression of being in fear of the Isaurians. NPNF. trans. the famous Antiochene teacher and sophist. According to Socrates. 414).2) agree that John studied under Libanius. 1255 (= 5. John’s rehabilitation took place a few years after his death. in the following consulate.21 (Eng.

however. 76 (Eng. introduction to The Funerary Speech. who had recently taken over as bishop of Alexandria from his uncle in 412 CE. 234 This is not so surprising since in a letter to Acacius. 416418 CE for the dates of Epp. Atticus was forced to write to Cyril. 236 Isidore admits to Symmachus with some embarrassment that Church officials in the province of Egypt (the area west of Egyptian Augustamnica) are accustomed to act like the Pharaohs of ancient times. 284 D-285 A ).152. Ep. FC 77. 152 (= 1. 27. and amassing great wealth. (TTH 60).enough. the emperor celebrated John as a saint. 53 . Barnes and Bevan. do you yourself. starting in 428 CE.235 Although Cyril did eventually relent and came to venerate John like everyone else when. Theophilus’ actions to depose the man seem likely to have had a great influence on Cyril’s behaviour thirty years later prior to and during the First Council of Ephesus.” Cyril to Atticus. p. persecuting the Jews. 5 n. 310 to Cyril that he was well aware of the events surrounding the deposition of John Chrysostom. McEnerney. Isidore mentions these events again in detail. Let him who is not a bishop be removed from the clerical lists. FC 76. command that the title of him who has died be inscribed in the churches throughout Egypt for the sake of universal peace. 152. pp. FC 77. trans. trans. Barnes and Bevan give a rough estimate of c. Acacius had been one of the bishops presiding at the Council of the Oak and Cyril reminds him of that fact. this time to a certain Symmachus. PG 78. even to this day. Cyril mentions that he had been in attendance during the Council of the Oak in 403 CE and had agreed with Acacius’ position to depose John. 236 Ep. Ep. to persuade him to assent to also inscribe John’s name in the dyptichs of Egypt. 85). As already mentioned (p. 235 Cyril to Acacius of Beroea. Ep. launching extensive building programs. Barnes and Bevan. trans. introduction to The Funerary Speech. listing to Atticus several reasons why it would be inappropriate to celebrate the memory of a bishop who was officially deposed by the Church. 33 (Eng. p. 433 CE. 75 (Eng. 75 and 76. 30. 47). Ep. 91). In another letter.” Atticus of Constantinople to Cyril of Alexandria. Although there is nothing that can really certify the date 233 “Hence. written in c. 130-131). n. 4. bishop of Beroea. McEnerney. he fought with a friend of God (John Chrysostom) and found in Isidore’s namesake (Theophilus’ presbyter Isidore) a thorn that had to be removed. McEnerney. When Theophilus became bishop of Alexandria. most God-loving lord. 234 “…let the ordinances of the church prevail. Isidore makes clear in Ep.233 At first Cyril refused. continues Isidore.

Ep. Isidore de Péluse. 152 can also possibly be dated to prior to and during the First Council of Ephesus in 431 CE. especially once John’s memory began to be rehabilitated in Constantinople in 416 CE. 152 that establishes with certainty its date of composition. Pierre Évieux dates it no later than to 412 CE. 370. Isidore might be alluding to Cyril’s struggle with another bishop of Constantinople. which appeared to him unbefitting of a man of God and another symptom of the Church’s increasingly questionable morals.237 It is possible however to posit a later date from the context. let us say. In telling Symmachus that Alexandria finds itself again in the embarrassing situation of confrontation with Constantinople. 370 be in fact Isidore’s plea to Cyril to relinquish and inscribe John’s name on the dyptichs? But then again. 54 . of having been involved in his deposition. the letter would represent another instance of Isidore’s displeasure with Cyril’s actions. Cyril’s uncle? Could Ep. including Évieux’s date of 412 CE. Isidore must have felt that his hero was not being properly honoured in his home province. when Chrysostom had regained favour in Constantinople and Egypt was grappling with the ‘embarrassment’. as mentioned above (p. Although no further 237 Évieux.of this letter. If one were to suggest therefore the later date. Could Isidore be telling Cyril to forget private family wrongs. of 428-431 CE. One can therefore also reasonably suggest another possible date for Isidore’s Ep. such as when in 497 CE the eunuch Eutropius chose to support John for the episcopacy of Constantinople over the candidates favoured by Theophilus. 370 could just be referring again to Cyril’s struggles with Nestorius. in Isidore’s words. which. Nestorius. Ep. 204. In fact. but instead turn perpetual discord into piety. as with Ep. 152. there is nothing in Ep. can be viewed in a number of different contexts. Perhaps the embarrassment Isidore feels concerning John Chrysostom’s deposition is a reflection of his feelings towards Cyril’s reluctance to inscribe John’s name on the diptychs of Egypt. 46). Isidore tells Cyril that he should not avenge himself of a private insolence.

it is clear from the references in Isidore’s letters that he was aware of Chrysostom’s past struggles and writings. and nerved his wrath more readily against the enemy…but as a good and large-minded man. PG 78. Theophilus’ worst crime was that he brought down by false accusation a man of the greatest virtue. having attained power. Similarly. p. Isidore begins another letter by making known his disappointment that his correspondent is ignorant of John’s writings. Ep. There are many similarities between the thought and actions of John Chrysostom and those of Isidore.32.” 199. HE 8. or they date to the events around the First Council of Ephesus in 428-431 CE. PG 78.. “S. whose actions in defence of the poor and downtrodden in the face of the wrongdoers must have confirmed for Isidore the righteousness of his own struggles with adversity and of his appeals to the powerful. Indeed. See also Sozomen: “[John]. 310 and 152. 1317 C). Edmond Bouvy sums up John’s popularity as a writer thus: “La rapide diffusion des écrits de saint Jean Chrysostome en Orient et en Occident est un des événements les plus merveilleux de l’histoire littéraire. 370 is paired with Ep. Hartranft. when Ep. 48. which would seem to indicate that the two never met. 1255 (= 5. 239 Gregory. Did the two know each other? While the possibility that they knew each other at some point is impossible to determine. 1777 (= 4. 1348 A). 55 . Ep.. 152. ὦ ὁμώνυμε. but only to reading his works. ἡ Ἰωάννου τοῦ πανσόφου σοφία τεθὴσαύρισται. 10 above).224. Isidore never admits to hearing John. he sought to rectify abuses throughout the world” Sozomen.” Bouvy. τῆς δεὶ σῆς οὐ καθήψατο ἀμθίας. and as already stated above (p.239 It is clear from Isidore’s references to John that the monk saw him not only as a master to be emulated but also as a kind of kindred spirit.238 We have also seen how Isidore felt towards the plight of the poor and the corruption of men like Gigantius.details in these two letters can shed light on this. NPNF. John’s sermons were full of exhortations about helping the poor and condemnations against wrongdoers. it is not inconceivable that Isidore might have discovered them while studying rhetoric in Alexandria.240 For Isidore. 240 For example. ἄχρι τῆς γῆς και ὶ θαλάτὴς τερμάτων ἔφθασεν. Isidore was a great admirer of John’s character and writings. πῶς τοὶ μεὶν κλέος τῶν συγγραμμάτων.3 (Eng. trans. Significantly. Jean Chrysostome. two possible date ranges for the two letters remain in the realm of possibility: either they date to the beginning period of John Chrysostom’s rehabilitation in c. which can be readily accessed even at the uttermost confinds of the earth and sea: Λίαν θαυμάζω. πανταχόσε φοιτὴσάντων. ὧν ἀπολέλοιπεν ὁ πάνσοφος Ἰωάννὴς. 400). Vox Populi. led his tongue to reproof. therefore. Epp. Since John’s works were widely distributed throughout the East. simply because that man 238 Ἐν τῇ ἑρμὴνείᾳ τῆς προὶς Ῥωμαίους Ἐπιστολῆς μάλιστα. 416-417 CE.

56 . 212-215.came to the aid of some desperate monks. Golden Mouth. What Isidore admitted to Symmachus as being deeply embarrassing was happening again. deeply reminiscent of the measures adopted by Theophilus against John Chrysostom recounted above. this time with new faces performing old roles. What is more. This made Cyril’s reluctance to rehabilitate John Chrysostom in 416 CE and his struggle to depose Nestorius in 431 CE even more difficult for Isidore to digest and thus explains to a certain degree the criticisms Isidore reserves for Cyril in Epp. the bishop of Alexandria was also insulting the memory of John Chrysostom. Just like Theophilus who pushed to get Chrysostom deposed and exiled back in 403/404 CE. whether local or taken as a whole. 5. 310 and 370 and the panegyric tone for Chrysostom found in Ep. it was essential for Isidore that any good Christian community. but of God as well. The emperor could not afford to feel that he was being outmanoeuvred by either side of the debate. It was clear to Isidore that in 431 CE Cyril was repeating his predecessor’s mistakes and. Cyril’s actions also seemed to be undermining the effectiveness of the emperor’s representatives present at the council. to Isidore. perhaps events were repeating themselves. could rely on the protection of imperial officials who. in his view. a spiritual father of Isidore’s. 241 nor could he let the conciliar deliberations 241 Kelly. Cyril was now actively working to get the quick deposition of Nestorius.4 The First Council of Ephesus: The subsequent actions of Cyril in Ephesus in 431 CE to push for the deposition of Nestorius and to prevent his allies from mounting a proper defence for him were. as Arcadius and Eudoxia had been during the vilifying of John Chrysostom. Indeed. served not only the will of the emperor. this man was not only innocent of these accusations but also. As we have seen. as we have seen. by deposing Nestorius. 152.

none of which could end well for Cyril. 244 to free it from unruly conduct.311. Count Candidianus. Millar. Clearly Isidore saw that the imperial representatives. as already hinted at above. Meanwhile. threatening uncommitted bishops to adhere to the Cyrillians and intimidating Nestorius’ followers from meeting in Churches. with a body of soldiers to Ephesus to oversee the council and curb the influence of the different monastic factions accompanying the delegations. 311 (= 1. imploring him to grasp the right moment to be present at the council. PG 78. Isidore could not remain impassive to what was happening in Ephesus. 166. 245 The emperor never did grace the council by his presence. during the deliberations Cyril deployed his agents and sympathizers throughout Ephesus. and also to keep his ministers in check. as will be shown below. PG 78. regardless of the position of the emperor.fall into disorder. 245 Ep. but he did later send a rebuke to Ephesus condemning Cyril’s actions and ordering all delegates to respect Candidianus’ authority. St. 243 McGuckin.311. 311 (= 1. headed by Candidianus. 52. it was clear to Isidore that Cyril was falling into the same vicious cycle of intimidation and prejudice that had plagued his uncle. Theodosian Empresses. 232. Nothing less than the emperor’s own presence was required now. had failed in their mission to curb the violence. 169. Cyril was doing his best to stir up opposition to the meddlesome bishop of Constantinople and to secure his deposition at all costs. even if he seemed to have sided with Cyril theologically. 57 .243 Judging from Epp. 246 Holum. Cyril of Alexandria. Indeed.246 It is also entirely possible that he did take Isidore’s advice to heart (assuming that he read his letter). But. 310 and 370 to Cyril. Greek Roman Empire. since Theodosius did attend 242 Holum. 244 Ep. Theodosian Empresses. Isidore thus made use again of his position as an influential holy man and sent another plea to the emperor in person. 361 D-A): Εἰ μεὶν αὐτοὶς λαμβάνῃ καιροῦ παρεῖναι τοῖς κρινομένοις ἐν Ἐφέσῳ…. 242 It was to prevent such actions that Theodosius sent his representative. 361 D-A).

it could be said that his views agree with those of Cyril. PG 78. 725-728 D-A). 537 C-B ) and 799 (= 2. 248 In another letter. Saint Isidore of Pelusium and the New Testament (Athens. that is literally what happened and nothing else. even going so far as taking a Christological stance. Cyril argues that in order to 247 Wessel. PG 78. In his Commentary on John of 425-428 CE. so that difficult concepts can be rendered even more understandable to anyone who reads them. Cyril of Alexandria. Fouskas. 105.102. Isidore probably felt the sting of bitterness once he learned that Candidianus was desperately failing at his charge. just as a sailor confuses a fish by hiding a hook with bait. 247 Isidore must have sent his missive to the emperor sometime during July of 431 CE. just at the point when Nestorius was deposed and events at Ephesus had reached the boiling point. the language of Scripture is simple and clear. 323 and 419 (= 1. 416 C). The idea that the Scriptures should be read literally is something Cyril probably would have agreed with. 252 C-D). 5. hiding their malice under smooth speeches. One must first understand that it is impossible to know the nature of God. since that nature is much too complicated to be comprehended – it is enough to know that God simply is. To Isidore. Isidore does provide some evidence of theological interpretation.250 But in a handful of letters. 1967). being gradually overwhelmed by the Cyrillians. PG 78. “Observations stylistiques. Isidore warns a colleague against those who would confuse the simple-minded by means of various complicated and heretical views.249 Thus. 58 . 248Epp. 250 Bartelink. 251 In fact.299.419. 255-256.93. 593 (= 2. 249 Ep. when in John 1:14 it says that the Word became flesh. Constantine M.colloquium six weeks later at Chalcedon and assumed an active role in it. PG 78.” 168. 251 Epp.5 Isidore’s Theological Stance: At first glance Isidore’s theology seems quite straightforward.102 (= 1.

Wickham. 253 Μία φύσις τοῦ θεοῦ λόγου σεσαρκωμένὴ. 288. that by means of that which is accustomed to suffering he might take these sufferings to himself on our behalf…. 160-161. 12 in Handbook of Patristic Exegesis.” chap. “the Word of God the Father is these things in his essential being. 861. having become flesh of man. L. introduction to Select Letters. an event which posed problems for theologians who viewed this as unbecoming of a God. Cyril’s exegesis of the gospel of John focuses on Christ’s suffering on the cross. Wilken. one has only to look up John 1:14. 252 As will be shown. 124 (= 1. can suffer. “Cyril of Alexandria. To Cyril. once united into human nature. 124. 254 Holum. 256 Thus. This seemed to differ from the focus of traditional Alexandrian exegesis on the “divine Logos in the person of Christ…” Robert L. he made his own the flesh that is receptive of death.” 253 In 430 CE he even specifies to the Court in his Address to the Most Pious Empresses on the Correct Faith that the Word degraded into human flesh so as to suffer for our sins.124. See also Russell.. it was Cyril who championed most strongly the idea of Christ as the Divine made flesh. as it is delineated in the formulae of the Church from the Council of Chalcedon onwards. 255 Russsell. which occurred after the incarnation. 254 The Word had to become human so that it could sacrifice itself for us. both the Word and Christ are one. Wessel. the Passion is associated with the human side of Christ.” 252 What the Scriptures say about Christ should thus be taken literally: that the Word descended into flesh and suffered as a human would. for. and his “classic picture of Christ the God-man.. when the Word fused itself with the human Christ. PG 78. “for the statement that the Word became flesh means that and nothing else: it is like saying that the Word became a human being. but even more starkly. Theodosian Empresses. Isidore says much the same thing when he states that God assumed human flesh and that. as such. Cyril of Alexandria. Wickham highlights. 265 A): . using the formula “there is one incarnate nature of God the Word. xi. Cyril would continue to profess this theory of the single nature both before and during the Council of Ephesus. 59 . 104. Biblical Exegete. as Cyril says in the twelfth explanation of his Explanations of the Twelve Chapters. As R. and divine and human once the incarnation took place. Cyril of Alexandria.εἰ μὴὶ τῇ φύσει τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἡνώθὴ φιλανθρώπως. Cyril of Alexandria. Both Cyril and Isidore seem to agree that the Word.” 255 In Ep. He could suffer the passion. 256 Ep.” would be scrutinized by theologians for centuries. 189.understand Christ and his relationship to God.

42 257 In Ep. 369 B): . Ep. 258 Évieux. trans. See also ACO I. Select Letters. 486-491 for the letter. 259 Cyril of Alexandria to Eulogius. is evident…. 323 Isidore offers Cyril his view of the divine nature of Christ the man. rather than later. The references…to the negotiations over the reunion suggest that this was still news. without a beginning and endless. FC 76.1. p. which represents the result of the unification of soul and body to form one being. in recent days. Whatever the circumstances. since it was only then.By 433 CE Cyril seemed to concur with the Orientals that in fact there are two natures. Wickham. Cyril responds to criticisms of his view about the humanity of Christ and includes the text of the Formula of Reunion of 433 CE for clarification: “…therefore we confess that our Lord Jesus Christ. McEnerney. 140). divine and human.” Downside Review 106 (1988): 240. 193). begotten before ages from the Father according to his divinity. but after the union only the result.. saying that “the one Son exists of two natures. ἐκ δύο φύσεων.” 454. We confess one Christ. when Cyril was reconciling himself with the Antiochenes in preparation for the Formula of Reunion of 433 CE. 260 In Ep. 60 .” Wickham. in the letter to Succensus Cyril compares this union to that of the human body. 56. The date of the letter to Eulogius is unknown. pp 15-20 and Festugière.4. 44 (Eng. FC 76. and that.” Cyril of Alexandria to John of Antioch. Ep.ἐκ φύσεων δυοῖν ὁ εἷς ὑπάρχων Υἱος. 433 CE. is found in his first letters to the Bishop Succensus and Eulogius. one Lord…. two united natures. written in ca. McEnerney. 186-187) 260 Cyril of Alexandria to Succensus.. 262 In Ep. 39 (Eng. 1. McEnerney. he himself for us and for our salvation was born from the Virgin Mary according to his humanity. 261 Ep. date. 45 (Eng. trans. Die Christologie. 323 (= 1. Éphèse et Chalcédoine.” Graham Gould. 258 In the letter to Eulogius. introduction to Select Letters.323. of a rational soul and body. 39 to John of Antioch. and hence an earlier. Ep. 262 Delmaire.257 The first reference in the writings of Cyril’s to the two natures. As for the letter to Succensus. FC 76. pp. Cyril makes the argument in support of the dual nature only to the extent that once the natures unite they make one. the letter was probably written in the period after the council of Ephesus of 431 CE. As Graham Gould has observed. p. is perfect God and perfect man. the date is also “uncertain but probably falls somewhere between the reunion in April 433 and Cyril’s overt attacks on Diodore and Theodore in 438. 230.259 To further explain this. “Cyril of Alexandria and the Formula of Reunion. consubstantial to the Father himself according to divinity and consubstantial to us according to his humanity. but that Christ was the result when both fused together after the incarnation. Schmid. xxvi. one Son. trans. 70-71 n. for a union was made of his two natures.”261 which seems to differ from the bishop’s view of one Christ after the incarnation. “Théologie. “Cyril’s account of the two-nature formula relies on an explicit contrast of before and after the union. That the union was a union of two real different natures must be acknowledged. “Notes prosopographiques”. that we find statements in his writings about the two natures. the only begotten Son of God. PG 78.

ἣν ἐν ἑαυτῷ ὁ τοῦ Θεοῦ Υἱοὶς εἰς σωτὴρίαν ἡμῶν θεοπρεπῶς ἐξειργάσατο. PG 78.419. Ἀλλ᾽ εἷς ἐστιν ἄναρχος και ὶ ἀΐδιος Υἱοὶς. 42 (= 1.” McGuckin. 267 Ep.. PG 78. St. 419: Ὁ Θεοὶς γαὶρ ἐνανθρωπήσας οὐ τέτραπται. knowing Cyril’s penchant for under-the-table deals. Isidore once again urges firm resistance in the face of adversity. But the monk did not have to worry. something which would have represented an appalling situation for Isidore. In another singular letter. 416 C).264 Cyril’s version of the two natures thus very much mirrors Isidore’s. as we already noted. 61 . however.’ 265 Isidore..267 This time. 264 Ep. bishop of Rhinocorura (a city located a little to the east of Pelusium). is expressing his fear of how far.236. 209 A). Isidore says that God never changed after the incarnation and that he was the same before and after putting on the flesh. 369 C): κενῆς μεὶν δόξὴς ἡττώμενος. 327 D): Τοὶ. οὔτε διῄρὴται. και ὶ προὶ σαρκώσεως. 266 This would indeed have caused an even bigger rift in the delicate fabric that was the Egyptian religious community.Isidore talks of an “inexpressible union” (ἄρρὴτος ἕνωσις) 263 and in Ep. 419 (= 1. οὔτε συγκέχυται. PG 78. Isidore would surely have replied to Nestorius along the lines of Cyril and urged him to look at John 1:14. Cyril was able to argue his way out and satisfy both himself and the Antiochenes by agreeing to the two natures in so far as a union of the two made one.42. 116. this time to Hermogenes. 268 This statement seems to counter Cyril’s view of 433 and would indicate that Isidore was perhaps not in total agreement with the 263 Ep. since. Cyril would be willing to go to broker a peace with the emperor on his back. Perhaps this is why in Ep. οὕτω παρ᾽ ἡμῶν προσκυνούμενος. a complete about face by Cyril would “signify a betrayal of his insistence that Christ must only be confessed as one – the dominant theme of all they [the Cyrillians] had stood together to defend. 236 (= 1. again following Cyril’s arguments supporting the Formula of Reunion. PG 78. 324 (= 1. 324 Isidore exhorts Cyril to remain firm in his convictions and not to be seen to appear fickle nor to succumb to any ‘empty glory. τῶν δύο φύσεων σὴμαίνει τὴὶν ἕνωσιν.324. Συὶ εἶ ὁ Χριστοὶς ὁ Υἱοὶς τοῦ Θεοῦ. Cyril of Alexandria.. Based on his letters. 268 Ep. 236 Isidore indicates that saying “you are the son of God” means the union of two natures. και ὶ μεταὶ σάρκωσιν. and how low. 266 For Isidore.. 265 Ep.

269 It is likely therefore that Isidore was writing to Hermogenes about the nature of Christ so that the latter could impart to Cyril again. but he also took part in the deliberations at the First Council of Ephesus as member of Cyril’s party. St. 324. Éphèse et Chalcédoine. 197. As for the letters themselves. at least just this once. The document is also found in Festugière. Conclusion: The letters of Isidore of Pelusium are richly written documents that reveal to us the degree of involvement of low-level clerics in secular and religious affairs of the early fifth century CE. VI. I will come. Isidore used the rhetorical skills he acquired as a young man. such as Synesius of Cyrene and Theodoret of Cyrrhus. Indeed.1.Formula of Reunion. His correspondents included an impressive range of individuals.2. Given these observations. but from another person. 9. it is highly likely that Ep. 75 62 . to which Nestorius had replied: “for the moment I am assessing. and Paul of Lampa. on the evening of June 21st Cyril had chosen Hermogenes himself. the urgent need not to give in to the Antiochenes’ demands. with the emperor Theodosius II and bishop Cyril of Alexandria being among the most remarkable. Cyril of Alexandria. possibly in Alexandria. since not only did he represent for the monk the model of the perfect bishop. to build for himself an epistolary network of acquaintances throughout the eastern empire. and if I need to come. he must have thought it worth his while to attempt a Cyrillian solution and pass his message in a less obvious way. to go and inform Nestorius about the opening of the council. p. Hermogenes was an important acquaintance for Isidore to nurture. Peter of Parembolus. similar to Synesius of Cyrene. their 269 ACO I. See also McGuckin. along with Athanasius of Paralus. Since Isidore clearly had not been able to convince Cyril with Ep. 419 was composed during the negotiations that produced the Formula. Like many of his contemporaries.

since his collection does not include the important missives of Isidore to Cyril and the emperor 63 . As already mentioned. It was only at the beginning of the past century that interest in his theological views and his Hellenic education suggested that there was more to discover. The general nature of this paper did not allow for an in-depth overview of daily life in Pelusium. its role as the regional capital of Augustamnica I. and his letters reveal much about the activities and sufferings of that city. it is somewhat limited. and they can only be accessed through Migne’s Patrologiae Graeca in the original language or in Évieux’s 1997 incomplete French translations. Yet the body of evidence shows that Isidore was in constant communication with his fellow Pelusians. be it in Classical literature. philosophy. Also of prime importance is the present accessibility of the Isidorian corpus. Indeed. the range of his connections and the rich contents of his letters suggest. that Isidore was a well-connected holy man who could look to Alexandria and Constantinople whenever he was in need. the familiar tone he adopts with Cyril of Alexandria and Theodosius II during the period of the First Council of Ephesus of 431 CE probably indicates more than just passing acquaintance between the men. Although Évieux’s work does begin to rectify the situation. or even science. Moreover. therefore. Yet Isidore remained for a long time a figure of little more than passing reference for historians. nor the relations between its citizens and the monks that settled in the bordering deserts. there is no modern English translation available of the letters.contents betray a man of extraordinary intellectual gifts and singular wit. The writings of Isidore of Pelusium thus represent further proof against the idea that all early Christian clerics were fanatic extremists trying to eradicate once and for all any remaining trace of Paganism. with special emphasis on Pelusium itself in relation to Isidore would be of great value. A focused study on Eastern Egypt. in fact.

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