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Exile of Athanasius under Julian, 362–363.


The fragment which follows, containing an interesting report of a story told by Athanasius to Ammonius, Bishop of Pachnemunis, is inserted here as furnishing undesignedly important details as to the movements of Athanasius in 363. See Prolegg. ch. v. §3 h, also ch. ii. §9. It is excerpted by Montfaucon from an account of the Abbat Theodore, written for Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria (385–412) by a certain Ammon (Acta SS. Maii, Tom. iii. Append., pp. 63–71). The writer was at that time a bishop (see unknown): he was born about 335, as he was seventeen years old when he embraced the monastic life a year ‘and more’ after the proclamation of Gallus as Cæsar (Mar. 15, 351). About the time of the expulsion of Athanasius by Syrianus he retired to Nitria, where he remained many years, and finally returned to Alexandria, where he appears (infra) as one of the clergy; the date of his elevation to the Episcopate cannot be fixed, but it obviously cannot be as early as 356–7 (so D.C.B. i. 102 (2), and probably is much later even than 362, in which year he would still be hardly twenty-eight. (He mentions the objections to the election of Athanasius, who was probably 30 in 328, on the ground of his youth.) Accordingly (apart from the different form of his name) he cannot37063706    The Articles in D.C.B. i. 102 (2) and (3), combine variously data belonging to three distinct persons. (1) The old bishop ordained by Alexander (see unknown, see Hist. Ar. 72 init.). Signs the synodal letter of the Sardican Council; is one of the infirm prelates cruelly expelled by George, along with coffins to bury them in case of the journey being fatal (see also Apol. Fug. 7). (2) Another Ammonius, probably not a signatory of Sardica (cf. Apol. Ar. 50, with Ep. Fest. for 347), but a contemporary of Serapion, sent by Athanasius with Serap. to Constantius in 353. He had been a monk, but was then (Dracont. 7) bishop of Pachnemunis and part of Elearchia (Tom. 10), in which capacity, along with other exiles of 356–7 (Hist. Ar. 72; Ap. Fug. 7), he attends the Council of 362. He is the ‘Ammonius of blessed memory’ in the text. (3) Ammon, born 335, baptized 352, monk at Tabenne and Nitria 352–367 (?), then at Alexandria, and finally (about 390) bishop of an unknown see in Egypt: wrote a short account of S. Theodore for Pope Theophilus. be identified with either of the Ammonii referred to in Tom. ad. Ant. 1, note 3; Hist. Ar. 72, &c. The elder of the two does not concern us here: the younger (supr. pp. 483, 486), is the Ammonius to whom Athanasius told the story in the hearing of Ammon, and was now dead. Of Hermon, Bishop of Bubastis, mentioned as present along with Ammonius, Theophilus, and Ammon when the story was told, nothing is known (except that the date D.C.B. iii. 4 (2) is over 25 years too early). As he is not ‘of blessed memory,’ he was possibly still living during the Episcopate of Theophilus and Ammon. (There is nothing to identify him with the bishop of Tanes in Tom. Ant. 1, 10.)

The story itself is given at second-hand, from Ammon’s recollection of a statement by Athanasius some 12 to 15 years (at least) before he wrote. The prophetic details about Jovian may therefore be put down to natural accretion (Letter 56, note 2). But (apart from the fact that Julian’s death must have been rumoured long before the tardy official announcement of it, Tillem. Emp. iv. 449 sqq., Prolegg. ubi supr.) that Athanasius told of the φήμη of Julian’s death among the monks of the Thebaid need not be doubted. The story is one of a very large class, many of which are fairly authenticated. To say nothing of the φήμη at the battle of Mycale; we have in recent times the authority of Mr. R. Stuart Poole, of the British Museum, for the fact that on the night of the death of the Duke of Cambridge (July 9, 1850), Mr. Pooles’s brother ‘suddenly took out his watch and said, “Note the time, the Duke of Cambridge is dead,” and that the time proved to be correct;’ also the case of Mr. Edmonds who saw at Leicester, early in the morning of Nov. 4, 1837, an irruption of water into the works of the Thames tunnel, by which a workman was drowned; (other curious cases in ‘Phantasms of the Living’ vol. 2, pp. 367 sqq.). The letter or memoir from which this ‘Narratio’ is taken, was published by the Bollandists from a Medicean ms., and it bears every internal mark of genuineness. In what way it is integrally connected with the Vita Antonii (Gwatkin, Studies, p. 101), except by the fact that it happens to mention Antony, I fail to see. On the subject of Theodore of Tabenne, the main subject of the memoir, see Amélineau’s S. Pakhôme ( ut supra, p. 188), also infr. Letter 58, note 3.

“As I think your holiness was present and heard, when his blessedness Pope Athanasius, in the presence of other clergy of Alexandria and of my insignificance, formerly related in the Great Church something about Theodorus37073707    Cf. Vit. Ant. 60, and see below, letters 57, 58, and Acta SS. Maii, vol. iii. pp. 334–357, and Appx.; also D.C.B. iv. 954 (53)., to the Ammonius of blessed memory, bishop of Elearchia37083708    Tom. Ant. 4., and to Hermon, bishop of the city of Bumastica37093709    i.e. Bubastis.; I write only what is necessary to put your reverence in mind of what he said. When the famous bishops were wondering at the Blessed Antony, Pope Athanasius—for Antony was often with him—said to them:—

I saw also at that season great men of God, who are lately dead, Theodorus chief of the Tabennesian monks, and the father of the monks around37103710    Opposite Hermupolis Magna in Upper Egypt. Antinoopolis, called Abbas Pammon. For when I was pursued by Julian, and was expecting to be slain by him—for this news was shewn me by good friends—these two came to me on the same day at Antinoopolis. And having planned to hide with Theodorus, I embarked on his vessel, which was completely covered in, while Abbas Pammon accompanied us. And when the wind was unfavourable, I was very anxious and prayed; and the monks with Theodore got out and towed the boat. And as Abbas Pammon was encouraging me in my anxiety, I said ‘Believe me when I say that my heart is never so trustful in time of peace as in time of persecution. For I have good confidence that suffering for Christ, and strengthened by His mercy, even though I am slain, I shall find mercy with Him.’ And while I was still saying this, Theodorus fixed his eyes on Abbas Pammon and smiled, while the other nearly laughed. So I said to them, ‘Why have you laughed at my words, do you convict me of cowardice?’ and Theodorus said to Abbas Pammon, ‘Tell him why we smiled.’ At which the latter said, ‘You ought to tell him.’ So Theodorus said, ‘in this very hour Julian has been slain in Persia’ for so God had declared beforehand concerning him: ‘the haughty man, the despiser and the boaster, shall finish nothing37113711    Habak. ii. 5.. But a Christian Emperor shall arise who shall be illustrious, but shall live only a short time37123712    Cf. Letter 56, note 2.. Wherefore you ought not to harass yourselves by departing into the Thebaid, but secretly to go to the Court, for you will meet him by the way, and having been kindly received by him, will return to your Church. And he soon shall be taken by God.’ And so it happened. From which cause I believe, that many who are well pleasing to God live unnoticed, especially among the monks. For those men unnoticed also, such as the blessed Amun and the holy Theodorus37133713    On this Theodore, see D.C.B. s.v. no. (67). in the mountain of Nitria, and the servant of God, the happy old man Pammon.”

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