Euthymius I of Constantinople

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Consecration of Euthymius as Patriarch of Constantinople. Miniature from the Madrid Skylitzes.

Euthymius I Syncellus (Greek: Εὐθύμιος Α΄ ὁ Σύγκελλος, ca. 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 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.

Life[edit]

Euthymius was born in Seleucia in Isauria ca. 834, and became a monk at an early age.[1] 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.[2] 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 eldest son of Emperor Basil I the Macedonian (ruled 867–886) and future emperor as Leo VI the Wise (r. 886–912). Indeed, as the historian Shaun Tougher argues in her study of Leo's reign, Euthymius was possibly the spiritual father of all of Basil's sons.[3]

Euthymius supported him in his conflict with his father over his affair with Zoe Zaoutzaina, and after Basil's death Leo's accession to the throne, he was rewarded by being appointed as abbot of a monastery in the Psamathia quarter in Constantinople, as well as becoming a member of the Byzantine Senate.[1][4] Soon after (according to P. Karlin-Hayter in late 888 or early 889[5]) he was also named to the post of syncellus succeeding Leo's own brother Stephen, who since December 886 was also Patriarch.[1][6] This was an important office in the Byzantine ecclesiastical hierarchy, and several of its holders had subsequently advanced to the patriarchate.[7] Despite his closeness to the new emperor, however, Euthymius' relationship with Leo was "notoriously stormy" (S. Tougher), and perhaps explains why did not succeed to the patriarchal throne until 907.[7]

Thus Euthymius supported Leo's 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.[8] 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.[9] Euthymius was also an advocate of the traditional aristocracy, and at odds with Leo's "foreign" (i.e. non-Byzantine Greek and of non-aristocratic origin) advisers, such as the Armenian minister Stylianos Zaoutzes, the Arab eunuch chamberlain Samonas, or the Italian Nicholas Mystikos, who preceded Euthymius on the patriarchal throne.[1] His rivalry with Stylianos Zaoutzes in particular is a major theme of his hagiography, where Zaoutzes 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, however, is questioned by S. Tougher, who points out that Leo does not seem to have simply followed Stylianos' initiative, but to have retained control of affairs throughout his reign.[10]

As Zoe Zaoutzaina died in 899, 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] Undeterred, the emperor took a mistress, Zoe Karbonopsina, and in September 905 he was finally able to celebrate the birth of the future Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos. The fact that the child's mother was the emperor's mistress, however, 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 that 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]

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. Leo nevertheless 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]

Euthymius' tenure failed to restore tranquillity in the Church, however, and after Leo's death in May 912, or perhaps already before, he was deposed by a synod convened at Magnaura in favour of Nicholas, who was recalled from exile. Euthymius was exiled to the monastery of Agathou, where he died on 5 August 917.[1][4]

Hagiography and writings[edit]

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 S. 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" (A. 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][15][16] The single surviving manuscript was kept in Berlin and vanished during World War II, but the Vita exists in several critical editions:[17]

  • C. de Boor (1888). Vita Euthymii, Ein Anecdoton zur Geschichte Leos des Weisen (in German). Berlin. 
  • P. Karlin-Hayter (1955/57). "Vita St. Euthymii". Byzantion. 25/27: 1–172, 747–778. 
  • P. Karlin-Hayter (1971). Vita Euthymii Patriarchae CP: Text, translation, introduction and commentary. Bibliotheque de Byzantion 3. Brussels. 
  • A. P. Kazhdan (1959). Две византийские хроники X века: Псамафийская хроника — Иоанн Камениата, Взятие Фессалоники (in Russian). Moscow. 
  • A. Alexakis (2006). Γάμοι, κηδεῖες καὶ αὐτοκρατορικὲς μεταμέλειες. Ὁ βίος τοῦ πατριάρχη Εὐθυμίου (in Greek). Athens: Kanakis. ISBN 960-7420-91-8. 

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 A. Kazhdan "it is conventional and provides only limited data".[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kazhdan 1991, pp. 755–756.
  2. ^ Tougher 1997, pp. 50–51.
  3. ^ Tougher 1997, p. 51.
  4. ^ a b "Εὐθύμιος Α´" (in Greek). Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Tougher 1997, p. 102 (note 53).
  6. ^ Tougher 1997, pp. 82, 84.
  7. ^ a b Tougher 1997, pp. 38–39.
  8. ^ Tougher 1997, p. 139.
  9. ^ Tougher 1997, pp. 104, 141.
  10. ^ Tougher 1997, pp. 102ff..
  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. ^ Tougher 1997, pp. 8–10.
  16. ^ Krönung 2010, pp. 192–194.
  17. ^ Krönung 2010, pp. 194–195.

Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Bees, Nikos (1944). "Η βιογραφία του Οικουμενικού Πατριάρχου Ευθυμίου Α' αντιβαλλόμενη προς τον Βερολίνειον κώδικα Graec. fol. 55 [ = 291 ]". Praktika tes Akademias Athenon (in Greek) 19: 105–120. 
  • Jugie, Martin (1913). "La vie et les œuvres d'Euthyme, patriarche de Constantinople". Echos d'Orient (in French) XVI: 385–395 & 481–492. 
  • Sophianos, Demetrios Z. (1971). "Ὁ Βίος τοῦ Ἁγίου Εὐθυμίου (Vita Euthymii), πατριάρχου Κωνσταντινουπόλεως († 917) καὶ ὁ χρόνος συγγραφῆς αὐτοῦ". Epeteris Etaireias Byzantinon Spoudon (in Greek) 38: 289–296. 
Orthodox Church titles
Preceded by
Nicholas I Mystikos
Patriarch of Constantinople
907–912
Succeeded by
Nicholas I Mystikos