Euthymius I of Constantinople

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Euthymius I Syncellus
Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople
Installed 907
Term ended 912
Predecessor Nicholas Mystikos
Successor Nicholas Mystikos
Personal details
Bornc.834
Seleucia in Isauria
Died 5 August 917
"ta Agathou", near Constantinople
Nationality Byzantine Empire
Consecration of Euthymius as Patriarch of Constantinople. Miniature from the Madrid Skylitzes . Consecration of Patriarch Euthymius I of Constantinople.jpg
Consecration of Euthymius as Patriarch of Constantinople. Miniature from the Madrid Skylitzes .

Euthymius I Syncellus (Greek : Εὐθύμιος Α΄ ὁ Σύγκελλος, c.834 – 5 August 917) was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 907 to 912. A monk since his youth, he became spiritual father of the future emperor Leo VI the Wise, and was raised by him to the high ecclesiastical office of syncellus . Despite his turbulent relationship with Leo, in 907 he was appointed to the patriarchate and held the post until his deposition shortly before or after Leo's death in 912.

Greek language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople position

The Ecumenical Patriarch is the Archbishop of Constantinople–New Rome and ranks as primus inter pares among the heads of the several autocephalous churches that make up the Eastern Orthodox Church. The term Ecumenical in the title is a historical reference to the Ecumene, a Greek designation for the civilised world, i.e. the Roman Empire, and it stems from Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon.

Leo VI the Wise Byzantine Emperor

Leo VI, called the Wise or the Philosopher, was Byzantine Emperor from 886 to 912. The second ruler of the Macedonian dynasty, he was very well-read, leading to his epithet. During his reign, the renaissance of letters, begun by his predecessor Basil I, continued; but the Empire also saw several military defeats in the Balkans against Bulgaria and against the Arabs in Sicily and the Aegean. His reign also witnessed the formal discontinuation of several ancient Roman institutions, such as the Roman consul and Senate, which continued to exist in name only and lost much of their original functions and powers.

Contents

Life

Euthymius was born in Seleucia in Isauria c.834, and became a monk at an early age. [1] According to his funeral oration, composed by Arethas of Caesarea, he was a relative of the "miracle-worker" Gregory of Dekapolis. [2] Following stints at the monastic community of Mount Olympus and a monastery near Nicomedia, Euthymius came to the Byzantine capital, Constantinople, where he entered the monastery of St. Theodore, in the capital's outskirts. [3] Euthymius had a relationship with the Patriarch Ignatius, whom he alludes to as his master, and it is probably during Ignatius' second tenure on the patriarchal throne (867–877) that he was appointed as the spiritual father of the prince Leo, the son [lower-alpha 1] of Emperor Basil I the Macedonian (r. 867–886) and future emperor as Leo VI the Wise (r. 886–912). Indeed, the historian Shaun Tougher argues in his study of Leo's reign that Euthymius was possibly the spiritual father of all of Basil's sons. [4] Euthymius supported Leo in his conflict with his father over his affair with Zoe Zaoutzaina. According to Euthymius' hagiography, the Vita Euthymii, he helped Leo survive his imprisonment in 883–886, while the young prince constantly requested his advice, forcing him to stay in Constantinople rather than his monastery. [1] [2]

Silifke Place in Mersin, Turkey

Silifke is a town and district in south-central Mersin Province, Turkey, 80 km (50 mi) west of the city of Mersin, on the west end of Çukurova.

Isauria

Isauria, in ancient geography, is a rugged isolated district in the interior of South Asia Minor, of very different extent at different periods, but generally covering what is now the district of Bozkır and its surroundings in the Konya Province of Turkey, or the core of the Taurus Mountains. In its coastal extension it bordered on Cilicia.

Arethas of Caesarea Byzantine Theologian

Arethas of Caesarea was Archbishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia early in the 10th century, and is considered one of the most scholarly theologians of the Greek Orthodox Church. The codices produced by him, containing his commentaries are credited with preserving many ancient texts, including those of Plato and Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations".

At the time of Basil's death in 886, Euthymius was a monk in the monastery of the Theotokos of the Spring. [2] With Leo's accession to the throne, Euthymius was rewarded by being appointed as abbot of a newly built monastery in the Psamathia quarter in Constantinople, built on land confiscated from the exiled Leo Katakalon. According to the Vita Euthymii, he accepted only after the emperor agreed to recall Katakalon from exile and restore to him the rest of his properties. The monastery was inaugurated on 6 May 889 or 890 in the presence of Leo and the latter's brother, Stephen, who since December 886 was Patriarch of Constantinople. [1] [2] At about the same time (according to P. Karlin-Hayter in late 888 or early 889 [5] ) he was also named to the post of syncellus , succeeding Stephen, who had held the post in tandem with the patriarchate since 886. [1] [6] This was an important office in the Byzantine ecclesiastical hierarchy, and several of its holders had subsequently advanced to the patriarchate. [7]

Church of St. Mary of the Spring (Istanbul) Church in Istanbul, Turkey

The Monastery of the Mother of God at the Spring or simply Zoödochos Pege is an Eastern Orthodox sanctuary in Istanbul, Turkey. The present church, built in 1835, bears the same dedication as the shrine erected in this place between the end of the fifth and the beginning of the sixth century. After several renovations, this building was destroyed in the first half of the fifteenth century by the Ottomans. The complex got its name from a nearby holy spring, reputed to have healing properties. For almost fifteen hundred years, this sanctuary has been one of the most important pilgrimage sites of Greek Orthodoxy.

Stephen I of Constantinople Patriarch of Constantinople

Stephen I was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 886 to 893.

Despite his closeness to the new emperor, Euthymius' relationship with Leo was "notoriously stormy" (Shaun Tougher), and perhaps explains why did not succeed to the patriarchal throne until 907. [7] The Vita Euthymii also assigns much of the blame for Euthymius's troubled relation with the emperor on the machinations of Zoe Zaoutzaina's father, Stylianos Zaoutzes. [2] Zaoutzes' rivalry with Euthymius is a major theme of his hagiography, where the former is represented as an all-powerful minister whose ambitions and machinations are responsible for all errors and calamities of the reign, and with whom Euthymius was engaged in a battle "for the prize of Leo's soul". How far Stylianos' reported dominance reflects reality is questioned by Tougher, who points out that from the historical sources, Leo does not seem to have simply followed Stylianos' initiative, but to have retained control of affairs throughout his reign. [8] Euthymius has also been seen by modern scholars as an advocate of the traditional aristocracy, and at odds with Leo's "foreign" (i.e. non-Byzantine Greek and non-aristocratic) advisers, such as the Armenian Zaoutzes, the Arab eunuch chamberlain Samonas, or the Italian Nicholas Mystikos, who preceded Euthymius on the patriarchal throne, [1] although this probably has more to do with the obvious effort of the Vita to present Euthymius as a perfect saint, which leads it to denigrate his rivals. [2]

Stylianos Zaoutzes was a high Byzantine official of Armenian origin. Rising to high rank under Byzantine emperor Basil I, he then rose further to prominence under Basil's successor Emperor Leo VI the Wise, who had a close friendship and possibly an affair with Stylianos's daughter Zoe Zaoutzaina. Stylianos Zaoutzes was Leo's leading minister during the first half of his reign, and was awarded the unique title of basileopator. His standing and influence declined after 895, but in 898, he became Leo's father-in-law when the Byzantine emperor married Zoe. He died in 899, in the same year as Zoe. Following an attempted coup by his relatives, the Zaoutzes clan was deprived of the considerable power it had amassed under Stylianos's tutelage.

Byzantine Greeks

The Byzantine Greeks were the Greek-speaking Christian Romans of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. They were the main inhabitants of the lands of the Byzantine Empire, of Constantinople and Asia Minor, the Greek islands, Cyprus, and portions of the southern Balkans, and formed large minorities, or pluralities, in the coastal urban centres of the Levant and northern Egypt. Throughout their history, the Byzantine Greeks self-identified as Romans, but are referred to as "Byzantine Greeks" in modern historiography.

Armenians ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland

Armenians are an ethnic group native to the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.

Euthymius first incurred Leo's displeasure when he supported his first wife, Theophano, and dissuaded her from seeking a divorce due to the emperor's neglect and his continued cohabitation with his long-time mistress Zoe Zaoutzaina. [2] [9] After Theophano's death, Euthymius opposed Leo's second marriage to Zoe Zaoutzaina due to her ill repute, which earned him a two-year confinement in the monastery of St. Diomedes. He was not released until after Zoe's death two years later. [2] [10] Following Zoe's death after giving birth to a daughter, Anna, Leo pursued a—normally un-canonical—third marriage, to Eudokia Baïana, in hopes of having a male heir. Indeed, a boy named Basil was born in Easter 901, but Eudokia died during childbirth and was soon followed by the baby. [11] This was once more the occasion of a clash between the emperor and Euthymius. The Vita asserts that following the death of Zoe and her father, as well as the discovery of a conspiracy by their relatives, Leo had repented of his treatment of Euthymius and asked for his forgiveness. The emperor repeatedly sought his counsel, going as far as visiting him incognito at the monastery in Psamathia. During one of the visits, Euthymius prophesied Eudokia's death, and later refused to attend her funeral, retiring with six followers from Constantinople to the suburb of "ta Agathou", a property of his monastery. [2]

Theophano, wife of Leo VI Byzantine empress

Theophano was a Byzantine Empress by marriage to Leo VI the Wise. She is venerated as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Canon law is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of a Christian organization or church and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law, or operational policy, governing the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the individual national churches within the Anglican Communion. The way that such church law is legislated, interpreted and at times adjudicated varies widely among these three bodies of churches. In all three traditions, a canon was originally a rule adopted by a church council; these canons formed the foundation of canon law.

Eudokia Baïana was a Byzantine Empress consort as the third wife of Leo VI the Wise.

Undeterred, the emperor took a mistress, Zoe Karbonopsina, and in September 905 he was finally able to celebrate the birth of the future emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos. The fact that the child's mother was the emperor's mistress caused trouble with leading Church officials, and Leo was forced to promise to separate from Zoe as a precondition for the infant's ceremonial baptism by Patriarch Nicholas Mystikos in the Hagia Sophia. Euthymius too was persuaded to act as one of Constantine's godfathers in the ceremony, which took place in January 906. [12] Despite his pledge to separate from Zoe, however, Leo now was determined to legitimize both her and their son by a fourth marriage, something utterly forbidden by canon law on pain of excommunication. Patriarch Nicholas initially supported the emperor in his efforts to secure a grant of economy, but the Church leadership was vehemently opposed, forcing Nicholas too to change sides. As the impasse continued, in February 907 Nicholas was dismissed by the emperor, and Euthymius was appointed in his stead. [1] [13] The Vita explains Nicholas' stance and his final deposition by his implication in the abortive plot of general Andronikos Doukas, but other sources are silent as to the exact background of the affair. [2]

Zoe Karbonopsina Byzantine Emperors wife

Zoe Karbonopsina, also Karvounopsina or Carbonopsina, i.e., "with the Coal-Black Eyes", was an empress consort and regent of the Byzantine empire. She was the fourth spouse of the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI the Wise and the mother of Constantine VII, serving as his regent from 914 until 919.

Hagia Sophia Museum in Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia is the former Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral, later an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Built in 537 AD at the beginning of the Middle Ages, it was famous in particular for its massive dome. It was the world's largest building and an engineering marvel of its time. It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture".

Excommunication censure used to deprive, suspend, or limit membership in a religious community

Excommunication is an institutional act of religious censure used to deprive, suspend, or limit membership in a religious community or to restrict certain rights within it, in particular receiving of the sacraments. The term is often historically used to refer specifically to excommunications from the Catholic Church, but it is also used more generally to refer to similar types of institutional religious exclusionary practices and shunning among other religious groups. For instance, many Protestant denominations, such as the Lutheran Churches, have similar practices of excusing congregants from church communities, while Jehovah's Witnesses, as well as the Churches of Christ, use the term "disfellowship" to refer to their form of excommunication. The Amish have also been known to excommunicate members that were either seen or known for breaking rules, or questioning the church.

Emperor Alexander dismisses Euthymius. Miniature from the Madrid Skylitzes. Emperor Alexander deposes Patriarch Euthymios.jpg
Emperor Alexander dismisses Euthymius. Miniature from the Madrid Skylitzes.

Despite Euthymius' notorious stubbornness, which probably had discouraged Leo from raising him to the patriarchate sooner, he proved willing to grant the emperor economy, aided by the assent of the other patriarchates of the Pentarchy. Despite Zoe's repeated efforts, however, he steadfastly refused to officially recognize her marriage with the emperor as canonical and her status as empress. Leo was forced to do penance to atone for his marriage, and to pass a law excluding anyone from ever again marrying for a fourth time. As a result of the settlement, on 15 May 908 Euthymius crowned the infant Constantine VII as co-emperor. [14] Even though the later Byzantine chroniclers tend to side with Nicholas Mystikos against Leo, they paint Euthymius in a favourable light. [2] According to the Vita, his tenure helped heal the rift in the Church and reconcile many leading churchmen with the emperor's fourth marriage. Bishop Gabriel of Ancyra is even said to have sent the omophorion of Saint Clement as a gift and a token of appreciation. [2]

Shortly before Leo's death in May 912, the emperor reconciled himself with Nicholas Mystikos, who now demanded his re-instatement as Patriarch. [2] The sources are unclear, but shortly after Leo's death, or perhaps already before, Euthymius was deposed by a synod convened at Magnaura in favour of Nicholas, who was recalled from exile. Euthymius was exiled to Agathou, where he died on 5 August 917. [1] [2] [15]

Hagiography and writings

Euthymius' hagiography, the Vita Euthymii, or The Life of Euthymius, was apparently written in the years 920/25 according to P. Karlin-Hayter, or, according to D. Sophianos, soon after 932. Its author is unknown, but, in the words of Shaun Tougher, "he had an insider's perspective on court affairs during [Leo VI's] reign", and is consequently one of the "richest sources for the period from the death of Basil I to the early years of Constantine VII" (Alexander Kazhdan). However, despite offering a vivid portrait of Leo and his court, with eye-witness anecdotes that illustrate the emperor's character, as a source it is limited due to its focus on, and bias in favour of, Euthymius, as well as due to the fact that several sections are missing. [1] [16] [17] The single surviving manuscript was kept in Berlin and vanished during World War II, but the Vita exists in several critical editions: [18]

Euthymius' own writings are few and relatively insignificant, comprising sermons on the conception of St. Anne and an homily on the Virgin Mary. [1] His contemporary Arethas of Caesarea also wrote a panegyric in his honour, but according to Kazhdan "it is conventional and provides only limited data". [1]

Notes

  1. Leo's mother, Eudokia Ingerina, was Basil's second wife but also the mistress of his predecessor, Michael III (r. 842–867). Leo was born while Michael was still alive, which led to rumours, already current during the time, that he was actually Michael's son. Many modern scholars have led credence to the idea, especially in view of Leo's troubled relationship with Basil. Whatever his biological parentage may have been, however, Leo was publicly and legally acknowledged as Basil's son. Tougher 1997, pp. 1, 42ff.

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Kazhdan 1991, pp. 755–756.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 PmbZ, Euthymios (#21913).
  3. Tougher 1997, pp. 50–51.
  4. Tougher 1997, p. 51.
  5. Tougher 1997, p. 102 (note 53).
  6. Tougher 1997, pp. 82, 84.
  7. 1 2 Tougher 1997, pp. 38–39.
  8. Tougher 1997, pp. 102ff..
  9. Tougher 1997, p. 139.
  10. Tougher 1997, pp. 104, 141.
  11. Tougher 1997, pp. 146–152.
  12. Tougher 1997, pp. 152–156.
  13. Tougher 1997, pp. 156–161.
  14. Tougher 1997, pp. 161–163.
  15. Εὐθύμιος Α´ (in Greek). Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  16. Tougher 1997, pp. 8–10.
  17. Krönung 2010, pp. 192–194.
  18. Krönung 2010, pp. 194–195.

Sources

Further reading

Titles of Chalcedonian Christianity
Preceded by
Nicholas I Mystikos
Patriarch of Constantinople
907–912
Succeeded by
Nicholas I Mystikos