Rosary2007's Weblog

Words from GOD – Words to GOD

Chrysostom: The Orator, book 1- via Archbishop Uwe Ae.Rosenkranz

Chrysostom: The Orator

Men of the Kingdom


Author of “Back to Bethlehem.”
Member New York State Historical Association



To My Mother

Book I


Book II









Book III



FOR one thousand years the walls of Constantinople were the sole guarantee of the safety of European civilization. When Constantine drew his spear-point along the Golden Horn and thence across to the Propontis, he was fixing the cross upon St. Paul’s and placing the Bible in American homes. Two miles from the gate of ancient Byzantium his courtiers reminded him that he had already exceeded all reasonable limits. His familiar reply is characteristic, though traditional: “I shall go on until the Invisible Guide who marches before me is ready to stop.” In justice to Constantine let us admit that he is not authority for these grandiose words. Yet he claims to have laid the foundation of the city in obedience to the commands of God, and a vision or two at such an important juncture would not have been entirely out of his line. There was, however, in his choice of a site for the new city, the inspiration of superb statesmanship, the prescience of a seer. And we can forgive the obstinacy of universal custom which has ignored the name by which it was intended the city should be known, that of New Rome, and has called it after its illustrious founder.
On account of its shape, writers have compared the city to an ancient drinking-horn, the mouthpiece turned north up the Bosporus; but rather does it resemble a gigantic thumb planted at the ford of the two continents, holding the gateway of empire, and dominating the East and the West.
Nearly a thousand years before the days of Constantine this site had attracted attention. A little fugitive band of Megarians on a colonizing expedition had stopped here over night. The oracle of Apollo at Delphi had advised them to “build their city over against the city of the blind.” Just across the strait was Chalcedon, founded seventeen years before. Nothing could be blinder, argued these shrewd Megarians, than to build a city in bleak, sea-swept Bithynia, when Thrace was at hand with its harbors and its hills. So on this side the Bosporus they planted their stockades, and established a rich trade in the corn of Scythia, the forests of Paphlagonia, the mines of Transcaucasia, and in the fish which to the present day sweep down from the Black Sea, glide into the Golden Horn, and there wait to be taken.
The city of Byzantium, with its two gods, one to rule the sea and the other as patron of the cornfields, changed hands at least nine times before Constantine pitched his tent on the spot where afterward the “Golden Milestone” was to stand. Backward and forward over its broken walls surged the contending forces of the East and the West. Persian and Greek, Macedonian and Roman had all coveted this strategic spot, and had been willing to pay the price demanded for its possession. Then came the death struggle of Paganism, the defeat of the ancient gods at Adrianople, and the retreat of Licinius for refuge to the timely shelter of these friendly walls. But the decree was written. Great Pan was dead. Helios had been flung from his “car of gold.” “Idly homeward to the Poet-land” had gone the gods. Earth had outgrown the mystic fancies. The day of fact and of force had come. Byzantium fell and Constantine, the Christian, became master of the world.
The new emperor had but little of the old Roman about him. Born in Mœsia of a Dalmatian father, his mother the daughter of an alien innkeeper, the city of Rome meant to him just what it was worth in the soldier’s perspective. Other and weaker men might reverence its traditions and court a triumph along its sacred way, but this cold, unsentimental strategist saw only its geographical isolation and its tactical weakness, and resolved to change his court. Several towns were candidates for metropolitan honors. Naissus, in the heart of the Balkan peninsula, was a strong claimant, for here Constantine was born; but Naissus was too near the frontier and had no sea value. Nicomedia, the modern Ismid, at the head of the long quiet gulf opening into Marmora, was also mentioned. But Nicomedia had been the residence of Diocletian, and Constantine was not ready to step into the cast-off shoes of a predecessor. Troy was disqualified because Troy had no harbor, and the world was learning the potency of the sea. And so Byzantium was chosen, and this old provincial fortress, this last port of call for the Eastern world, became the seat of government and the guardian of the prophetic West.
It was high time. Yonder in the East was Persia, a constant menace, a cloud that threatened to break at any moment. On the farther bank of the Euphrates, Julian, the Roman emperor, burned his ships like Agathocles, the Syracusan, in Africa, and Cortez in Mexico. He would conquer Sapor before he crossed again the great river. But he fell in the retreat toward his own boundaries. For four years did Belisarius plan his masterly campaign against Chosroes, and still the dark menace remained. Twenty years of bloodshed did not exhaust the Eastern giant. Then came Shahrbarg, and, though the puissant Heraclius was on the Western throne, Damascus fell and Jerusalem fell, and ninety thousand Christians were slain, and the remains of the “True Cross” were carried off to Persia.
And now, when Rome and Persia were alike exhausted, a new rider entered the lists. From the South the summons came to Heraclius and to Chosroes ordering them to embrace Islam. It was a new gospel, and its preachers were insistent and abrupt. Persia replied by a threat to put Mahomet in chains should he ever cross the border. Constantinople passed it by as a trifling vagary, idly wondering if here might not be an ally some day.
Then out of the desert the whirlwind came. It was the rush of the simoon, the hot avalanche of swirling sand, and nothing could stand before it. The Roman legions were hemmed in, overwhelmed, strangled. The Armenian archers, the mailed horseman from Gaul, the solid squares of trained infantry, were ground into dust as the desert hordes were hurled upon them under the slogan “Paradise is beyond you; hellfire behind you.” Antioch, Emesa, Damascus, Jerusalem went down. The Mosque of Omar was builded on Mt. Moriah; the grain-fields of Egypt were cut off from the empire; while all the East to the borders of India fell into the hands of the Saracen.
Civil war among the successors of the prophet, however, gave the empire a breathing spell; but in 717 A.D. the struggle was on once more. This was the crisis of the world. Leo the Isaurian was on the throne. Theodosius III had convened the senate and the chief officers, and had declined to be responsible for the public safety. The army was demoralized, the treasury was depleted, the greatness of the emperor had been of that brand which is forced upon its unlucky recipient. He felt more at home in his humble commissioner’s office. He therefore begged to be excused from further glory. His unique request was granted, and Leo, the soldier and the iconoclast, was offered the dubious, uncertain honors of the purple.
Moslemah, the brother of the caliph, at the head of eighty thousand men, marched through Asia Minor, crossed the Hellespont, swung to the right across Thrace, and planted his flag in European soil. He digged his ditches about the walls, raised his engines, and sat down to wait the sure leaven of hunger and thirst in the doomed fortress. At the same time a mighty fleet sailed from Syria, effected a junction with the land forces at Abydos, and moved upon the city. By land and by sea was Constantinople beleaguered. But Constantine had foreseen such emergencies. The walls were impregnable. The storehouses were full. The dread, mysterious Greek fire was kindled. The cold frosts came out of the North. Captains January and February had already gone into commission under the Greek cross.
The gluttonous Caliph Soliman died of eating eggs and figs in his camp at Colchis as he was planning to bring re-enforcements from the East. He was succeeded by an enemy of Moslemah. The Thracian peasants lurked with sleepless vigilance behind every tree and rock. The Bulgarians came down from the Balkans and shattered the army that covered the rear of the camp. A report was spreading among the invaders that the unknown, formidable nations of the Western world were gathering their armies and navies for the deliverance of Constantinople. All this was too much for Moslem fortitude, and after thirteen weeks of siege the signal was given to retire. It had been a costly raid. Only thirty thousand returned of the hundred thousand who had marched to the siege. Only five vessels reached unharmed the Syrian harbors of the eighteen hundred that sailed up the Hellespont.
While this was passing, other events were stirring the West. The Saracens had swept through Northern Africa as fire sweeps through the prairie, had leaped Gibraltar, and had crossed the Pyrenees into France. At Tours they were met by Charles Martel, and signally defeated. Professor Creasy includes this battle among the fifteen that have changed the face of the world. Gibbon affirms that, by this defeat, the Koran was kept out of Oxford and the revelation of Mahomet kept out of the English pulpit. Schlegel declares that the arms of Charles the Hammer saved the Christian nations of the West from the deadly grasp of the all-destroying Islam. And yet, relatively speaking, it was only a plundering horde from an outlying province that ravaged Spain and threatened the shores of the North Sea. In numbers and in arms the Moslems were inferior to the Franks, according to the declaration of Charles himself; and surely his own generation did not so highly esteem the deed. A synod declared that when his tomb was opened it was found tenanted by a fierce demon, and a holy saint was vouchsafed a vision of the soul of Charles burning in the pains of hell. All this, forsooth, because he felt constrained to apply the revenues of the bishops to the protection of the State against the invaders.
Here at Constantinople, rather than at Tours, was Christendom delivered from the Prophet. This is a better reading of history. Here the Crescent was broken. Here fought the main army of the Moslems, led by a brother of the caliph, and commissioned to overthrow the Cross and to uproot the civilization of Europe. And the great city of Constantine beat back the tide of invasion, and stood for seven centuries a gigantic breakwater in the sweep of the raging sea; and behind it, and sheltered by it, Europe builded her cities, and enacted laws, and worked out her destiny.
But in still another way did the imperial city mold the fate of the West. Not only did it turn away those who would destroy, but it sent into Europe the forces that make for evolution. Like the government agents at Ellis Island, it turned back to their old haunts those who were dangerous and undesirable, while the sturdy, the orderly, and the sterling were bidden Godspeed. The Barbarians, who became the bone and sinew of the future, probably would never have entered Germany and France and England if they could have occupied Constantinople. From the dim and mysterious Ukraine they had come. Again and again did they strike at the empire. Back and forth across the Danube did they pass as they came to attack or were beaten in battle. Dacia had allured them, but it did not satisfy. Mœsia was carelessly guarded, rich in cattle and grain and fruits, sheltered by the Carpathians north and the Balkans south. Here was the land of promise. Here the battle-ground of generations. Here Decius and his son died on the same battle-field. Here Gallus pledged an annual tribute of gold if the dread strangers would never again enter Roman territory. Here Valerian and Gallienus held the shaggy Northern warriors in check until by and by they learned the art of navigation. Then pushing to sea, they sailed around the shores of the Euxine and ravaged the cities of Asia Minor; then out past the spot where Constantinople is to stand, to burn Diana’s temple at Ephesus, plunder Athens, and to send such a spasm of dread through Italy that a wild chief of one of the tribes is actually offered the Roman consulship.
Gradually the Goths laid aside their wolf-skins and donned the garb and assumed the habits of civilization; gradually the nomadic and hunter stage gave place to the agricultural. Constantine had signally defeated them; he had taken the sons of their kings as hostages. They had begun to settle upon their farms along the border. Many had enlisted in the Roman army. Many had espoused Christianity, and had naturalized as citizens of the empire.
But in A.D. 372 a new factor appeared. Beyond the Don and the Volga new faces were to be seen. A new, disquieting, tempestuous ferment has been poured into the stream of history. The Huns are preparing to take the front of the stage in the great world-drama. From the far Caspian, from the inhospitable wall of China, from the depths of the Himalayas, the thousands come, ferocious in character, horrible in appearance, lightning-like in the swiftness of their movements; the offspring, it is rumored, of the witches of Scythia and the demons of the desert. It is an irruption of heathenism, a paroxysm of the old pagan faith to recover the lost empire of the world. The Alani are defeated and added to their ranks; the Ostrogoths or Eastern Goths, are crushed, and westward sweeps the muddy flood; the Visigoths are struck and borne backward to the Danube, and, according to an old writer, they stand on the banks of the river, two hundred thousand fighting men, besides women and children, stretching out their hands with loud lamentations, earnestly supplicating leave to cross, and promising that they will ever faithfully adhere to the imperial alliance if only the boon be granted.
Valens at the time was emperor. Stupid, cowardly, slothful, avaricious, he yielded to the prayer of the fugitives lest a worse evil befall should he refuse. Indeed, the warriors were permitted to retain their weapons, and went into camp on the Roman side of the river,—a dread menace, a dangerous explosive, a wooden horse within the walls of Troy, capable of unspeakable disaster.
Even now the danger might have been averted. But Roman greed completed the work begun by Roman folly. The corn ordered from Asia was doled out by the governor at exorbitant prices. The flesh of dogs and of diseased cattle was forced upon the strangers, until, starving and desperate, they waited only the opportunity for revenge.
A chance encounter, a sword hastily drawn, a rash order, and the whole land was ablaze with excitement and confusion. A battle or two followed, indecisive, exhausting; then came Adrianople, with the death of Valens and the destruction of one-third of his army, and the great tide of Barbarian invasion rolled to the very gates of Constantinople.
But Constantinople justified the expectations of its founder. Had the city yielded, the Goth would probably have settled on the Balkan peninsula, held it against all comers, and builded there his civilization. As it was, unable to enter the city or make a permanent settlement, after a few years of unrest and bickering, they turned their backs upon the East, and through Macedonia and Illyricum, and around the head of the Adriatic, they swept under Alaric to the conquest of Rome. Thus came the strong men out of the East, following the star of empire which westward took its way. Thus, from the sowing of dragons’ teeth, came forth the warlike nations that were to make the map of the world.
The other Teuton tribes, the Franks, the Saxons, and Angles and Jutes, tribes that decreed war by the vote of assemblies and elected their chiefs by ballot, moved westward impelled by the same influence that drove the Goths toward the setting sun, and modern France and Germany and England are the result.
Such, then, was Constantinople, the guardian of the Eastern gates of the world, to keep back the destroyer. When those came, however, who could build and broaden, it passed them on into larger fields, and there the full centuries found them making ready for the marvelous present.
And such were the times of John of the Golden Mouth. The seat of empire had been removed from the Seven Hills of the Tiber and established on the Seven Hills of the Bosporus. But Constantine, the Atlas who carried the world on his shoulders, is dead. Constantine II, Constans, and Constantius, his successors, possessed nothing of their great father except the ingenious play upon his name.
Julian the Philosopher, called Julian the Apostate by bitter religionists, is coming, is only a few years away. The empire will soon be split asunder, the western half to fall before another century has passed, the eastern half to stand a thousand years.
Sapor II is on the Persian throne. He has defeated the Roman arms in nine bloody encounters. With tireless resolution and with almost inexhaustible resources, the great king is seeking to beat his way through the line of fortresses along the Macedonian frontiers.
Whole nations are breaking their cables and flinging themselves against each other. There is the grind and crush of empires. The powers of chaos seem to be let loose among men. From the North and the East the Barbarian hordes are coming. It looks like the overthrow of order, the overwhelm of civilization. There is nothing sure or stable. “Chaos has come again, chaos and old night.”
Rome, the imperial city, her feet in the Tiber, her hands touching the edges of the world, her head crowned with ten centuries of conquest, Rome has lost her prestige, and the bishops of the new religion, which the prescient Constantine discovered to be better than the superannuated Paganism, even the hierarchs of this lusty faith are quarreling among themselves over names and isms and precedency.
It is a period of transition in the religious as well as in the political world. It is the hour of the awakening of Paganism, and its last struggle for supremacy.

“Careless seems the great Avenger; history’s pages but record
One death-grapple in the darkness ’twixt old systems and the Word.”

Through ten persecutions does the young Church walk like the three Hebrew youths through the furnace of fire. Long years of systematic brutality, of legalized murder, are these. But the infant Hercules is steadily strangling, in his cradle, the two serpents of priestly hate and royal persecution, even though their fangs are buried in his breast.
It is the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. The old regime is dying at the core; the very heart of this splendid old civilization is rotten. The stars that have blazed through the night, the military meteors that have flashed across the skies of history, are paling, fading before the new light that is flooding the Orient.
The surrender of the old, the dominancy of the new, did not come without a struggle. The religion of the empire was a national religion. In its final analysis it meant the worship of Rome and the emperor. Incense was burned to these, and sacrifices offered in their name. To all loyal citizens the emperor was “Dominus et Deus noster.” Tolerance for an alien faith was not therefore spontaneous and unlimited. An alien faith savored of treason; it had in it the seeds of anarchy. Moreover, there was restriction on moral grounds. The city fathers looked well to social order. Whatever threatened to upset the balance of ethics was ostracized and outlawed. The Societies of Bacchus were suppressed by the Senate in 186 B.C., because of their indecency and immorality. The worship of Isis was introduced into the city in the days of Sulla, and, although it became very popular, the Senate soon ordered all the temples of this faith to be destroyed. The sentence against Christianity was in two counts: the Christians were regarded as atheists, and they were charged with unnatural crimes. The Lord’s Supper was called a “Thyestean Feast,” and the Christians were believed to be guilty of “Œdipodean marriages.” To the student of Greek classics these allusions are easily interpreted.
The bloody waves of persecution swept from the Caspian to the Pillars of Hercules, and when the civil authorities ceased to harry and destroy, the Christians turned in hatred against each other. Heretics were driven into the desert. Creeds were written in blood. The Church was torn asunder by the change of a single letter in the Confession of Faith. The homoousian refused to fellowship the homoiousian, and was ready to crucify the heteroousian. Athanasius was tossed like a shuttle from Alexandria to Troas, and from Rome to Jerusalem, and from Antioch to the hermit caves of the Upper Nile. Julian came to the throne in 360 A.D. He planned the destruction of the Christian religion. He therefore recalled the bishops who had been exiled, assured that they would exterminate each other if kept close enough together.
These were the times when, in Constantinople, was raised a voice that should thrill the whole Church and shake the throne of the Caesars. It was a time that tried men’s souls. There was needed a hand and a personality that should compel attention and shape the policy of empire. The setting is magnificent; will the jewel be found of the first water? The twelve labors of Hercules are appointed; will the man prove himself a giant? The Coliseum is cleared, and the wild beasts are pacing its sanded floors; will this unsophisticated preacher from Antioch, this bookish pupil of the rhetorician Libanius, this wearer of sackcloth in the midst of the purple and splendors of the imperial court, be a victor or a victim?
Willey, J. H. (1906). Chrysostom: The Orator (S. 1–26). Cincinnati; New York: Jennings and Graham; Eaton and Mains.


No comments yet»

Kommentar verfassen

Trage deine Daten unten ein oder klicke ein Icon um dich einzuloggen:

Du kommentierst mit Deinem Abmelden /  Ändern )

Google+ Foto

Du kommentierst mit Deinem Google+-Konto. Abmelden /  Ändern )


Du kommentierst mit Deinem Twitter-Konto. Abmelden /  Ändern )


Du kommentierst mit Deinem Facebook-Konto. Abmelden /  Ändern )


Verbinde mit %s

%d Bloggern gefällt das: