The Ancient Library

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4. Of pont us, an eminent ascetic and ecclesias­tical writer. The place of his birth was probably Jbora, a small town in Pontus, on the shore of the Euxine near the mouth of the Halys ; but the ex­pressions of Nicephorus Callisti would rather imply that he was of the race of the Iberians, who in­habited the modern Georgia, on the southern side of the Caucasus. Palladius, his disciple, says he was of Pontus, of the city (or rather a city) of the Iberians (-TroAecos 'I^pcyv, or as one MS., according to Tillemont, has it, 'I&wpeo?/), which is ambiguous. Jerome calls him " Hyperborita," an expression which Martianay, the Benedictine editor of Jerome's works, alters to "Iberita," and which has given oc­casion to other conjectural emendations. (Cotelerius, Eccles. Grace. Monu?nenta9 vol. iii. p. 543.) His father was a presbyter, or perhaps a chorepiscopus. (Heraclides, apud Tillemont.) He was placed in early life under the instruction of Gregory Nazian-zeh. There is extant a letter of Gregory to an Evagrius, to whom he expresses his pleasure at the growing reputation of one whom he terms " our son," and of whom he had been the instructor both in literature and religion. If, as is'conjectured, this letter refers to our Evagrius, his father and he were of the same name. Gregory also in his will leaves a legacy, with strong expressions of regard, to Evagrius the deacon ; but it is not certain that this is our Evagrius. Evagrius was appointed reader by the great Basil, and was ordained deacon either by Gregory Nyssen or Gregory Nazianzen. According to Socrates, he was ordained at Con­stantinople by Gregory Nazianzen; and Sozomen says, that when Gregory occupied the see of Con­stantinople, he made Evagrius his archdeacon. If these statements are received, the removal of Eva-'grius to Constantinople, must be placed during or before the short time (a. d. 379 to 381) of Gregory's episcopate at Constantinople. But ac­cording to Palladius (whose personal connexion with Evagrius would make his testimony preferable, if the text of his Lausiac History was in a more satisfactory state), Evagrius was ordained deacon by Gregory Nyssen, and taken by him to the first council of Constantinople (the second general coun­cil), and left by him in that city, under the pa­tronage of Nectarius, who succeeded Gregory Nazianzen. The age and intellectual character of Evagrius disposed him to polemical discussion; and " he obtained high reputation in controversy," says Palladius, " in the great city, exulting with the ardour of youth in opposing every form of heresy." His popularity was probably increased by the beauty of his person, which he set off by great attention to his dress. The handsome deacon won and returned the affection of a married lady of rank; but Evagrius, though vain, was not profligate, and „ struggled hard against the sinful passion. It is doubtful, however, if he would have broken away from the snare, but for an extraordinary dream ; in which he dreamed that he took a solemn oath to leave Constantinople. Deeming himself bound by his path, he at once left the city; and by this step, .according to Sozomen, preserved not only his vir­tue, but his life, which was in imminent danger from the jealousy of the lady's husband. His first sojourn after leaving Constantinople, was at Jeru­salem. Here, recovering from the alarm into which his dream had thrown him, he gave way again to .vanity and the love of dress ; but a long and se­vere illness, and the exhortation of Melania Ro-



mana, a lady who had devoted herself to a religious life, and had become very eminent, induced him to renounce the world, and give himself up to an ascetic life. He received the monastic garb from the hands of Melania, and departed for Egypt, the cradle of monasticism, where he spent the re­mainder of his life. Some copies of Palladius are thought to speak of a visit made by him to Con­stantinople, in A. d. 394 ; but the passage is obscure, and Tillemont and the Greek text of Palladius, in the Bibliotheca Patrum^ refer the incident to Am-inonius. Socrates states that he accompanied Gregory Nazianzen into Egypt; but there is no reason to think that Gregory visited Egypt at that time. Evagrius's removal into Egypt was pro­bably late in a. d. 382, or in 383. The remainder of his life was spent on the hills of Nitria, in one of the hermitages or monasteries of Scetis or Scitis, or in the desert " of the Cells," to which, after a time, he withdrew. He was acquainted with se­veral of the more eminent solitaries of the coun­try, the two Macarii, Ammonius, and others, whose reputation for austerity of life, sanctity and miracles (especially healing the sick and casting out daemons) he emulated. He learned here, says Socrates, to be a . philosopher in action, as he had before learned to be one in words. He had many disciples in the monastic life, of whom Pal­ladius was one. His approval of the answer which one of the solitaries gave to the person who informed him of the death of his father: " Cease to blaspheme ; for my Father (meaning God) is immortal," shews that Jerome's sarcastic remark, that he recommended an apathy which would shew that a man was " either a stone or God," was not undeserved. Theophilus, patriarch of Alexandria, would have ordained him a bishop; but he fled from him to avoid an elevation which he did not covet. Palladius has recorded many singular instances of his temptations and austeri­ties ; and, besides a separate memoir of him, has mentioned him in his notices of several other lead­ing monks. Evagrius died apparently about a.d. 399j at the age of fifty-four.


There is considerable difficulty in ascertaining what were the writings of Evagrius. Some are known to us only from the notice of them in an­cient writers, others are extant only in a Latin version, and of others we have only disjointed fragments. As nearly as we can ascertain, he is the author of the following works : — 1. Mow^s (perhaps we should read Moraxwcos) % irepl TlpaK-tiktjs. Fragments of this work, but apparently much interpolated, are given in the Monumenta Eccles. Graec. of Cotelerius, vol. iii. pp. 68 — 102, and in the edition of the Dialogus Vita St. Joannis Chrysostomi, erroneously ascribed to Pal­ladius, published by Emmer. Bigotius (4to., Paris, 1680) pp. 349— 355. Possibly the whole work is extant in these fragments (which are all given in the Bittiotlieca Patrum of Gallandius, vol. vii.) ; although a quotation given by Socrates (Hist. Eccles. iii. 7) as from this work (but which Cote­lerius considers was probably taken from the next-mentioned work) is not included in it. An intro­ductory address to Anatolius, given by Cotelerius, was evidently designed as a preface both to this work and the next. A Latin translation of the MonacJius was revised by Gennadius, who lived toward the close of the fifth century. 2. Tv<a<r-ij ttoos tov KaTa£tw0ei/T« (or

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