Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire




Gibbon's The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire

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144, 147,) Renau dot, (Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 133,) and Assemannus, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. i. p. 424, tom. ii. p. 62 - 69, 324 - 332, 414, tom. iii. p. 385 - 388.) He seems to be unknown to the Greeks. The Jacobites themselves had rather deduce their name and pedigree from St. James the apostle.]

[Footnote 130: The account of his person and writings is perhaps the most curious article in the Bibliotheca of Assemannus, (tom.

  1. p. 244 - 321, under the name of Gregorius Bar-Hebroeus.) La Croze (Christianisme d'Ethiopie, p. 53 - 63) ridicules the prejudice of the Spaniards against the Jewish blood which secretly defiles their church and state.]

[Footnote 131: This excessive abstinence is censured by La Croze,

  1. 352,) and even by the Syrian Assemannus, (tom. i. p. 226, tom. ii. p. 304, 305.)] [Footnote 132: The state of the Monophysites is excellently illustrated in a dissertation at the beginning of the iid volume of Assemannus, which contains 142 pages. The Syriac Chronicle of Gregory Bar-Hebraeus, or Abulpharagius, (Bibliot. Orient. tom.
  1. p. 321 - 463,) pursues the double series of the Nestorian Catholics and the Maphrians of the Jacobites.]

    1. In the style of the Oriental Christians, the

Monothelites of every age are described under the appellation of Maronites, ^133 a name which has been insensibly transferred from a hermit to a monastery, from a monastery to a nation. Maron, a saint or savage of the fifth century, displayed his religious madness in Syria; the rival cities of Apamea and Emesa disputed his relics, a stately church was erected on his tomb, and six hundred of his disciples united their solitary cells on the banks of the Orontes. In the controversies of the incarnation they nicely threaded the orthodox line between the sects of Nestorians and Eutyches; but the unfortunate question of one will or operation in the two natures of Christ, was generated by their curious leisure. Their proselyte, the emperor Heraclius, was rejected as a Maronite from the walls of Emesa, he found a refuge in the monastery of his brethren; and their theological lessons were repaid with the gift a spacious and wealthy domain. The name and doctrine of this venerable school were propagated among the Greeks and Syrians, and their zeal is expressed by Macarius, patriarch of Antioch, who declared before the synod of Constantinople, that sooner than subscribe the two wills of Christ, he would submit to be hewn piecemeal and cast into the sea. ^134 A similar or a less cruel mode of persecution soon converted the unresisting subjects of the plain, while the glorious title of Mardaites, ^135 or rebels, was bravely maintained by the hardy natives of Mount Libanus. John Maron, one of the most learned and popular of the monks, assumed the character of patriarch of Antioch; his nephew, Abraham, at the head of the Maronites, defended their civil and religious freedom against the tyrants of the East. The son of the orthodox Constantine pursued with pious hatred a people of soldiers, who might have stood the bulwark of his empire against the common foes of Christ and of Rome. An army of Greeks invaded Syria; the monastery of St. Maron was destroyed with fire; the bravest chieftains were betrayed and murdered, and twelve thousand of their followers were transplanted to the distant frontiers of Armenia and Thrace. Yet the humble nation of the Maronites had survived the empire of Constantinople, and they still enjoy, under their Turkish masters, a free religion and a mitigated servitude. Their domestic governors are chosen among the ancient nobility: the patriarch, in his monastery of Canobin, still fancies himself on the throne of Antioch: nine bishops compose his synod, and one hundred and fifty priests, who retain the liberty of marriage, are intrusted with the care of one hundred thousand souls. Their country extends from the ridge of Mount Libanus to the shores of Tripoli; and the gradual descent affords, in a narrow space, each variety of soil and climate, from the Holy Cedars, erect under the weight of snow, ^136 to the vine, the mulberry, and the olive-trees of the fruitful valley. In the twelfth century, the Maronites, abjuring the Monothelite error were reconciled to the Latin churches of Antioch and Rome, ^137 and the same alliance has been frequently renewed by the ambition of the popes and the distress of the Syrians. But it may reasonably be questioned, whether their union has ever been perfect or sincere; and the learned Maronites of the college of Rome have vainly labored to absolve their ancestors from the guilt of heresy and schism. ^138

[Footnote 133: The synonymous use of the two words may be proved from Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p. 191, 267, 332,) and many similar passages which may be found in the methodical table of Pocock. He was not actuated by any prejudice against the Maronites of the xth century; and we may believe a Melchite, whose testimony is confirmed by the Jacobites and Latins.] [Footnote 134: Concil. tom. vii. p. 780. The Monothelite cause was supported with firmness and subtilty by Constantine, a Syrian priest of Apamea, (p. 1040, &c.)]

[Footnote 135: Theophanes (Chron. p. 295, 296, 300, 302, 306) and Cedrenus (p. 437, 440) relates the exploits of the Mardaites: the name (Mard, in Syriac, rebellavit) is explained by La Roque, (Voyage de la Syrie, tom. ii. p. 53;) and dates are fixed by Pagi, (A.D. 676, No. 4 - 14, A.D. 685, No. 3, 4;) and even the obscure story of the patriarch John Maron (Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. i. p. 496 - 520) illustrates from the year 686 to 707, the troubles of Mount Libanus.

Note: Compare on the Mardaites Anquetil du Perron, in the

fiftieth volume of the Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscriptions; and Schlosser, Bildersturmendes Kaiser, p. 100. - M]

[Footnote 136: In the last century twenty large cedars still remained, (Voyage de la Roque, tom. i. p. 68 - 76;) at present they are reduced to four or five, (Volney, tom. i. p. 264.) These trees, so famous in Scripture, were guarded by excommunication: the wood was sparingly borrowed for small crosses, &c.; an annual mass was chanted under their shade; and they were endowed by the Syrians with a sensitive power of erecting their branches to repel the snow, to which Mount Libanus is less faithful than it is painted by Tacitus: inter ardores opacum fidumque nivibus - a daring metaphor, (Hist. v. 6.)

Note: Of the oldest and best looking trees, I counted eleven

or twelve twenty-five very large ones; and about fifty of middling size; and more than three hundred smaller and young ones. Burckhardt's Travels in Syria p. 19. - M]

[Footnote 137: The evidence of William of Tyre (Hist. in Gestis Dei per Francos, l. xxii. c. 8, p. 1022) is copied or confirmed by Jacques de Vitra, (Hist. Hierosolym. l. ii. c. 77, p. 1093, 1094.) But this unnatural league expired with the power of the Franks; and Abulpharagius (who died in 1286) considers the Maronites as a sect of Monothelites, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii.

  1. 292.)]

[Footnote 138: I find a description and history of the Maronites in the Voyage de la Syrie et du Mont Liban par la Roque, (2 vols. in 12mo., Amsterdam, 1723; particularly tom. i. p. 42 - 47, p. 174 - 184, tom. ii. p. 10 - 120.) In the ancient part, he copies the prejudices of Nairon and the other Maronites of Rome, which Assemannus is afraid to renounce and ashamed to support. Jablonski, (Institut. Hist. Christ. tom. iii. p. 186.) Niebuhr, (Voyage de l'Arabie, &c., tom. ii. p. 346, 370 - 381,) and, above all, the judicious Volney, (Voyage en Egypte et en Syrie, tom.

  1. p. 8 - 31, Paris, 1787,) may be consulted.]

    1. Since the age of Constantine, the Armenians ^139 had

signalized their attachment to the religion and empire of the Christians. ^* The disorders of their country, and their ignorance of the Greek tongue, prevented their clergy from assisting at the synod of Chalcedon, and they floated eighty-four years ^140 in a state of indifference or suspense, till their vacant faith was finally occupied by the missionaries of Julian of Halicarnassus, ^141 who in Egypt, their common exile, had been vanquished by the arguments or the influence of his rival Severus, the Monophysite patriarch of Antioch. The Armenians alone are the pure disciples of Eutyches, an unfortunate parent, who has been renounced by the greater part of his spiritual progeny. They alone persevere in the opinion, that the manhood of Christ was created, or existed without creation, of a divine and incorruptible substance. Their adversaries reproach them with the adoration of a phantom; and they retort the accusation, by deriding or execrating the blasphemy of the Jacobites, who impute to the Godhead the vile infirmities of the flesh, even the natural effects of nutrition and digestion. The religion of Armenia could not derive much glory from the learning or the power of its inhabitants. The royalty expired with the origin of their schism; and their Christian kings, who arose and fell in the thirteenth century on the confines of Cilicia, were the clients of the Latins and the vassals of the Turkish sultan of Iconium. The helpless nation has seldom been permitted to enjoy the tranquillity of servitude. From the earliest period to the present hour, Armenia has been the theatre of perpetual war: the lands between Tauris and Erivan were dispeopled by the cruel policy of the Sophis; and myriads of Christian families were transplanted, to perish or to propagate in the distant provinces of Persia. Under the rod of oppression, the zeal of the Armenians is fervent and intrepid; they have often preferred the crown of martyrdom to the white turban of Mahomet; they devoutly hate the error and idolatry of the Greeks; and their transient union with the Latins is not less devoid of truth, than the thousand bishops, whom their patriarch offered at the feet of the Roman pontiff. ^142 The catholic, or patriarch, of the Armenians resides in the monastery of Ekmiasin, three leagues from Erivan. Forty-seven archbishops, each of whom may claim the obedience of four or five suffragans, are consecrated by his hand; but the far greater part are only titular prelates, who dignify with their presence and service the simplicity of his court. As soon as they have performed the liturgy, they cultivate the garden; and our bishops will hear with surprise, that the austerity of their life increases in just proportion to the elevation of their rank.

In the fourscore thousand towns or villages of his spiritual empire, the patriarch receives a small and voluntary tax from each person above the age of fifteen; but the annual amount of six hundred thousand crowns is insufficient to supply the incessant demands of charity and tribute. Since the beginning of the last century, the Armenians have obtained a large and lucrative share of the commerce of the East: in their return from Europe, the caravan usually halts in the neighborhood of Erivan, the altars are enriched with the fruits of their patient industry; and the faith of Eutyches is preached in their recent congregations of Barbary and Poland. ^143 [Footnote 139: The religion of the Armenians is briefly described by La Croze, (Hist. du Christ. de l'Ethiopie et de l'Armenie, p.


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