A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography
Dioscorus (1), Patriarch of Alexandria
Dioscorus (1) , patriarch of Alexandria, succeeded Cyril about midsummer 444, receiving consecration, according to one report (Mansi, vii. 603), from two bishops only. He had served as Cyril's archdeacon. Liberatus says that he had never been married. It is difficult to harmonize the accounts of his character. Theodoret, whose testimony in his favour cannot be suspected, declared in a letter to Dioscorus, soon after his consecration, that the fame of his virtues, and particularly of his modesty and humility, was widely spread (Ep. 60); on the other hand, after he had involved himself in the Monophysite heresy, he was accused of having gravely misconducted himself in the first years of his episcopate (Mansi, vi. 1008). According to a deacon, Ischyrion, Dioscorus had laid waste property, inflicted fines and exile, bought up and sold at a high price the wheat sent by the government to Libya, appropriated and grossly misspent money left by a lady named Peristeria for religious and charitable purposes, received women of notorious character into his house, persecuted Ischyrion as a favourite of Cyril's, ruined the little estate which was his only support, sent a "phalanx of ecclesiastics, or rather of ruffians," to put him to death, and, after his escape, again sought to murder him in a hospital; in proof, Ischyrion appealed to six persons, one of whom was bath-keeper to Dioscorus ( ib. 1012). According to a priest named Athanasius, Cyril's nephew, Dioscorus, from the outset of his episcopate ("which he obtained one knows not how," says the petitioner), harassed him and his brother by using influence with the court, so that the brother died of distress, and Athanasius, with his aunts, sister-in-law, and nephews, were bereft of their homes by the patriarch's malignity. He himself was deposed, without any trial, from the priesthood, and became, perforce, a wanderer for years. According to a layman named Sophronius, Dioscorus hindered the execution of an imperial order which Sophronius had obtained for the redress of a grievous wrong. "The country," he said, "belonged to him rather than to the sovereigns" ( τῶν κρατούντων ). Sophronius averred that legal evidence was forthcoming to prove that Dioscorus had usurped, in Egypt, the authority belonging to the emperor. He added that Dioscorus had taken away his clothes and property, and compelled him to flee for his life; and he charged him, further, with adultery and blasphemy (ib. 1029). Such accusations were then so readily madeâ€”as the life of St. Athanasius himself shewsâ€”that some deduction must be made from charges brought against Dioscorus in the hour of his adversity; and wrongs done by his agents may have been in some cases unfairly called his acts. Still, it is but too likely that there was sufficient truth in them to demonstrate the evil effects on his character of elevation to a post of almost absolute power; for such, in those days, was the great "evangelical throne." We find him, before the end of his first year, in correspondence with pope Leo the Great, who gave directions, as from the see of St. Peter, to the new successor of St. Mark; writing, on June 21, 445, that "it would be shocking ( nefas ) to believe that St. Mark formed his rules for Alexandria otherwise than on the Petrine model " (Ep. 11). In 447 Dioscorus appears among those who expressed suspicion of the theological character of Theodoret, who had been much mixed up with the party of Nestorius. It was rumoured that, preaching at Antioch, he had practically taught Nestorianism; and Dioscorus, hearing this, wrote to Domnus, bp. of Antioch, Theodoret's patriarch; whereupon Theodoret wrote a denial ( Ep. 83) ending with an anathema against all who should deny the holy Virgin to be Theotokos, call Jesus a mere man, or divide the one Son into two. Dioscorus still assumed the truth of the charge (Theod. Ep. 86), allowed Theodoret to be anathematized in church, and even rose from his throne to echo the malediction, and sent some bishops to Constantinople to support him against Theodoret.
Then, in Nov. 448, the aged Eutyches, archimandrite of Constantinople and a vehement enemy of Nestorianizers, was accused by Eusebius, bp. of Dorylaeum, before a council of which Flavian was president, with an opposite error. He clung tenaciously to the phrase, "one incarnate nature of God the Word," which Cyril had used on the authority of St. Athanasius; but neglected the qualifications and explanations by which Cyril had guarded his meaning. Thus, by refusing to admit that Christ, as incarnate, had "two natures," Eutyches appeared to his judges to have revived, in effect, the Apollinarian heresyâ€”to have denied the distinctness and verity of Christ's manhood; and he was deprived of his priestly office, and excommunicated. His patron, the chamberlain Chrysaphius, applied to Dioscorus for aid, promising to support him in all his designs if he would take up the cause of Eutyches against Flavian (Niceph. xiv. 47). Eutyches himself wrote to Dioscorus, asking him "to examine his cause" (Liberat. c. 12), and Dioscorus, zealous against all anti-Cyrilline tendencies in theology, wrote to the emperor, urging him to call a general council to review Flavian's judgment. Theodosius, influenced by his wife and his chamberlain, issued letters (Mar 30, 449), ordering the chief prelates (patriarchs, as we may call them, and exarchs) to repair, with some of their bishops, to Ephesus by Aug. 1, 449 (Mansi, vi. 587).
This council of evil memoryâ€”on which Leo afterwards fastened the name of "Latrocinium," or gang of robbersâ€”met on Aug. 8, 449, in St. Mary's church at Ephesus, the scene of the third general council's meeting in 431; 150 bishops being present. Dioscorus presided, and next to him Julian, or Julius, the representative of the "most holy bishop of the Roman church," then Juvenal of Jerusalem, Domnus of Antioch, andâ€”his lowered position indicating what was to comeâ€”Flavian of Constantinople (ib. 607). The archbp. of Alexandria shewed himself a partisan throughout. He did indeed propose the acceptance of Leo's letter to the council, a letter written at the same time as, and expressly referring to, the famous "Tome"; but it was only handed in, not read, Juvenal moving that another imperial letter should be read and recorded. The president then intimated that the council's business was not to frame a new doctrinal formulary, but to inquire whether what had lately appearedâ€”meaning, the statements of Flavian and bp. Eusebius on the one hand, those of Eutyches on the otherâ€”were accordant with the decisions of the councils of Nicaea and Ephesusâ€”"two councils in name," said he, "but one in faith" ( ib. 628). Eutyches was then introduced, and made his statement, beginning, "I commend myself to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and the true verdict of your justice." After he had finished his address, Flavian desired that Eusebius, who had been his accuser, should be called in and heard. Elpidius, the imperial commissioner, vetoed this proposal on the ground that the judges of Eutyches were now to be judged, and that his accuser had already fulfilled his task, "and, as he thought, successfully": to let him speak now would be a cause of mere disturbance ( ib. 645). This unjudicial view of the case was supported by Dioscorus. Flavian was baffled, and the council resolved to hear the acts of the synod of Constantinople which had condemned Eutyches. The episcopal deputy of Leo, with his companion the deacon Hilarus, urged that "the pope's letter" (probably including the "Tome" in this proposal) should be read first, but this was overruled; Dioscorus moved that the "acts" should be first read, and then the letter of the bp. of Rome. The reading began ( ib. 649). When the passage was reached in which Basil of Seleucia and Seleucus of Amasia had said that the one Christ was in two natures after the incarnation, a storm of wrath broke out. "Let no one call the Lord 'two' after the union! Do not divide the undivided! Seleucus was not bp. of Amasia! This is Nestorianism." "Be quiet for a little," said Dioscorus; "let us hear some more blasphemies. Why are we to blame Nestorius only? There are many Nestoriuses" ( ib. 685). The reading proceeded as far as Eusebius's question to Eutyches, "Do you own two natures after the incarnation?" Then arose another storm: "The holy synod exclaimed, 'Away with Eusebius, burn him, let him be burnt alive! Let him be cut in twoâ€”be divided, even as he divided!'" "Can you endure," asked Dioscorus, "to hear of two natures after the incarnation?" "Anathema to him that says it!" was the reply. "I have need of your voices and your hands too," rejoined Dioscorus; "if any one cannot shout, let him stretch out his hand." Another anathema rang out ( ib. 737). Another passage, containing a statement of belief by Eutyches, was heard with applause. "We accept this statement," said Dioscorus. "This is the faith of the Fathers," exclaimed the bishops. "of what faith do you say this?" asked Dioscorus. "of Eutyches's: for Eusebius is impious" ( ἀσεβής , ib. 740). Similar approbation was given to another passage containing the characteristic formula of Eutychianism: "I confess that our Lord was of two natures before the incarnation; but after the incarnation [ i.e. in Him as incarnate] I confess one nature." "We all agree to this," said Dioscorus. "We agree," said the council ( ib. 744). Presently came a sentence in which Basil of Seleucia had denounced the denial of two natures after the incarnation as equivalent to the assertion of a commixture and a fusion. This aroused once more the zealots of the Alexandrian party; one bishop sprang forward, shouting, "This upsets the whole church!" The Egyptians and the monks, led by Barsumas, cried out, "Cut him in two, who says two natures! He is a Nestorian!" Basil's nerves gave way; he lost, as he afterwards said, his perceptions, bodily and mental ( ib. 636). He began to say that he did not remember whether he had uttered the obnoxious words, but that he had meant to say, "If you do not add the word 'incarnate' to 'nature,' as Cyril did, the phrase 'one nature' implies a fusion." Juvenal asked whether his words had been wrongly reported; he answered helplessly, "I do not recollect" ( ib. 748). He seems to have been coerced into a formal retractation of the phrase "two natures"; but he added "hypostases" as explanatory of "natures," and professed to "adore the one nature of the Godhead of the Only-begotten, who was made man and incarnate" ( ib. 828). Eutyches declared that the acts of the Constantinopolitan synod had been tampered with. "It is false," said Flavian. "If Flavian," said Dioscorus, "knows anything which supports his opinion, let him put it in writing . . . No one hinders you, and the council knows it." Flavian then said that the acts had been scrutinized, and no falsification had been found in them; that, for himself, he had always glorified God by holding what he then held. Dioscorus called on the bishops to give their verdict as to the theological statements of Eutyches. They acquitted him of all unsoundness, as faithful to Nicene and Ephesian teaching. Domnus expressed regret for having mistakenly condemned him ( ib. 836). Basil of Seleucia spoke like the rest. Flavian, of course, was silent. Dioscorus spoke last, affirming the judgments of the council, and "adding his own opinion." Eutyches was "restored" to his presbyterial rank and his abbatial dignity ( ib. 861). His monks were then released from the excommunication incurred at Constantinople. The doctrinal decisions of the Ephesian council of 431, in its first and sixth sessions, were then read. Dioscorus proposed that these decisions, with those of Nicaea, should be recognized as an unalterable standard of orthodoxy; that whoever should say or think otherwise, or should unsettle them, should be put under censure. "Let each one of you speak his mind on this. "Several bishops assented. Hilarus, the Roman deacon, testified that the apostolic see reverenced those decisions, and that its letter, if read, would prove this. Dioscorus called in some secretaries, who brought forward a draft sentence of deposition against Flavian and Eusebius, on the ground that the Ephesian council had enacted severe penalties against any who should frame or propose any other creed than the Nicene. Flavian and Eusebius were declared to have constructively committed this offence by "unsettling almost everything, and causing scandal and confusion throughout the churches." Their deposition was decided upon ( ib. 907). Onesiphorus, bp. of Iconium, with some others, went up to Dioscorus, clasped his feet and knees, and passionately entreated him not to go to such extremities. "He has done nothing worthy of deposition . . . . if he deserves condemnation, let him be condemned." "It must be," said Dioscorus in answer; "if my tongue were to be cut out for it, I would still say so. "They persisted, and he, starting from his throne, stood up on the footstool and exclaimed, "Are you getting up a sedition? Where are the counts?" Military officers, soldiers with swords and sticks, even the proconsul with chains, entered at his call. He peremptorily commanded the bishops to sign the sentence, and with a fierce gesture of the hand exclaimed, "He that does not choose to sign must reckon with me ." A scene of terrorism followed. Those prelates who were reluctant to take part in the deposition were threatened with exile, beaten by the soldiers, denounced as heretics by the partisans of Dioscorus, and by the crowd of fanatical monks (ib. vii. 68) who accompanied Barsumas, until they put their names to a blank paper on which the sentence was to be written (ib. vi. 601 seq. 625, 637, 988). They afterwards protested that they had signed under compulsion. Basil of Seleucia declared that he had given way because he was "given over to the judgment of 120 or 130 bishops; had he been dealing with magistrates, he would have suffered martyrdom." "The Egyptians," says Tillemont, "who signed willingly enough, did so after the others had been made to sign" (xv. 571; cf. Mansi, vi. 601).
Flavian's own fate was the special tragedy of the Latrocinium. He had lodged in the hands of the Roman delegates a formal appeal to the pope and the Western bishops (not to the pope alone; see Leo, Ep. 43, Tillemont, xv. 374). It was nearly his last act. He was brutally treated, kicked, and beaten by the agents of Dioscorus, and even, we are told, by Dioscorus himself (see Evagr. i. 1; Niceph. xiv. 47). He was then imprisoned, and soon exiled, but died in the hands of his guards, from the effect of his injuries, three days after his deposition (Liberatus, Brev. 19), Aug. 11, 449 He was regarded as a martyr for the doctrine of "the two natures in the one person" of Christ. Anatolius, who had been the agent ( apocrisiarius ) of Dioscorus at Constantinople, was appointed his successor.
Dioscorus and his councilâ€”as we may well call itâ€”proceeded to depose Theodoret and several other bishops; "many," says Leo, "were expelled from their sees, and banished, because they would not accept heresy" (Ep. 93). Theodoret was put under a special ban. "They ordered me," he writes ( Ep. 140), "to be excluded from shelter, from water, from everything."
Confusion now pervaded the Eastern churches. It was impossible to acquiesce in the proceedings of the "Latrocinium." Leo bestirred himself to get a new oecumenical council held in Italy: the imperial family in the West supported this, but Theodosius II. persisted in upholding the late council. In the spring of 450 Dioscorus took a new and exceptionally audacious step. At Nicaea, on his way to the court, he caused ten bishops whom he had brought from Egypt to sign a document excommunicating pope Leo (Mansi, vi. 1009, 1148; vii. 104), doubtless on the ground that Leo was endeavouring to quash the canonical decisions of a legitimate council. His cause, however, was ruined when the orthodox Pulcheria succeeded to the empire, and gave her hand to Marcian, this event leading to a new council at Chalcedon on Oct. 8, 451, which Dioscorus attended. The deputies of Leo come first, then Anatolius, Dioscorus, Maximus, Juvenal. At first Dioscorus sat among those bishops who were on the right of the chancel (ib. vi. 580). The Roman deputies on the opposite side desired, in the name of Leo, that Dioscorus should not sit in the council. The magistrates, who acted as imperial commissioners (and were the effective presidents), asked what was charged against him? Paschasinus, the chief Roman delegate, answered, "When he comes in" ( i.e. after having first gone out) "it will be necessary to state objections against him." The magistrates desired again to hear the charge. Lucentius, another delegate, said, "He has presumed to hold a synod without leave of the apostolic see, which has never been done." (Rome did not recognize the "second general council" of 381; which, in fact, was not then owned as general.) "We cannot," said Paschasinus, "transgress the apostolic pope's orders." "We cannot," added Lucentius, "allow such a wrong as that this man should sit in the council, who is come to be judged." "If you claim to judge," replied the magistrates sharply, "do not be accuser too." They bade Dioscorus sit in the middle by himself, and the Roman deputies sat down and said no more. Eusebius of Dorylaeum asked to be heard against Dioscorus. "I have been injured by him; the faith has been injured; Flavian was killed, after he and I had been unjustly deposed by Dioscorus. Command my petition to the emperors to be read." It was read by Beronicianus, the secretary of the imperial consistory, and stated that "at the recent council at Ephesus, this good ( χρηστός ) Dioscorus, disregarding justice, and supporting Eutyches in heresyâ€”having also gained power by bribes, and assembled a disorderly multitudeâ€”did all he could to ruin the Catholic faith, and to establish the heresy of Eutyches, and condemned us: I desire, therefore, that he be called to account, and that the records of his proceedings against us be examined." Dioscorus, preserving his self-possession, answered, "The synod was held by the emperor's order; I too desire that its acts against Flavian may be read"; but added, "I beg that the doctrinal question be first considered." "No," said the magistrates, "the charge against you must first be met; wait until the acts have been read, as you yourself desired." The letter of Theodosius, convoking the late council, was read. The magistrates then ordered that Theodoret should be brought in, because Leo had "restored to him his episcopate," and the emperor had ordered him to attend the council. He entered accordingly. The Egyptians and some other bishops shouted, "Turn out the teacher of Nestorius!" Others rejoined, "We signed a blank paper; we were beaten, and so made to sign. Turn out the enemies of Flavian and of the faith!" "Why," asked Dioscorus, "should Cyril be ejected?" (i.e. virtually, by the admission of Theodoret). His adversaries turned fiercely upon him: "Turn out Dioscorus the homicide!" Ultimately the magistrates ruled that Theodoret should sit down, but in the middle of the assembly, and that his admission should not prejudice any charge against him ( ib. 592). The reading went on; at the letter giving Dioscorus the presidency, he remarked that Juvenal, and Thalassius of Caesarea, were associated with him, that the synod had gone with him, and that Theodosius had confirmed its decrees. Forthwith, a cry arose from the bishops whom he had intimidated at Ephesus. "Not one of us signed voluntarily. We were overawed by soldiers." Dioscorus coolly said that if the bishops had not understood the merits of the case, they ought not to have signed. The reading was resumed. Flavian being named, his friends asked why he had been degraded to the fifth place? The next interruption was in reference to the suppression, at the Latrocinium, of Leo's letter. Aetius, archdeacon of Constantinople, said it had not even been "received." "But," said Dioscorus, "the acts shew that I proposed that it should be read. Let others say why it was not read." "What others?" "Juvenal and Thalassius." Juvenal, on being questioned, said, "The chief notary told us that he had an imperial letter; I answered that it ought to come first; no one afterwards said that he had in his hands a letter from Leo." Thalassius (evidently a weak man, though holding the great see of St. Basil) said that he had not power, of himself, to order the reading of the letter ( ib. 617). At another point the "Orientals," the opponents of Dioscorus, objected that the acts of Ephesus misrepresented their words. Dioscorus replied, "Each bishop had his own secretaries . . . taking down the speeches." Stephen of Ephesus then narrated the violence done to his secretaries: Acacias of Arianathia described the coercion scene. When the reader came to Dioscorus's words, "I examine the decrees of the Fathers" (councils), Eusebius said, "See, he said, 'I examine'; and I do the same." Dioscorus caught him up: "I said 'examine,' not 'innovate.' Our Saviour bade us examine the Scriptures; that is not innovating." "He said, Seek, and ye shall find," retorted Eusebius ( ib. 629). One bishop objected to the record of "Guardian of the faith" as an acclamation in honour of Dioscorus, "No one said that." "They want to deny all that is confessed to be the fact," said Dioscorus; "let them next say they were not there." At the words of Eutyches, "I have observed the definitions of the council," i.e. the Ephesian decree against adding to the Nicene faith, Eusebius broke in, "He lied! There is no such definition, no canon prescribing this." "There are four copies," said Dioscorus calmly, "which contain it. What bishops have defined, is it not a definition? It is not a canon: a canon is a different thing." The bp. of Cyzicus referred to the additions made in the council of 381 to the original Nicene creed ( e.g. "of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary"). The Egyptians disclaimed all such additions. (Cyril, in fact, had never acknowledged that revised version of the Nicene formulary.) There was some further criticism of the profession of faith made by Eutyches; whereupon Dioscorus said, "If Eutyches has any heterodox opinion, he deserves not only to be punished, but to be burnt! My only object is to preserve the Catholic faith, not that of any man. I look to God, and not to any individual; I care for nothing but my own soul and the right faith" ( ib. 633). Basil of Seleucia described what had taken place as regarded his own statements. "If you taught in such a Catholic tone," said the magistrates, "why did you sign the deposition of Flavian?" Basil pleaded the compulsory authority of a council of bishops. "On your own shewing," said Dioscorus, "you betrayed the faith for fear of men." Others who had given way with Basil cried, "We all sinned; we all ask pardon." "But," said the magistrates, "you said at first that you had been forced to sign a blank paper." The "peccavimus" was reiterated ( ib. 639). When the reader came to the failure of Flavian's attempt to get Eusebius a hearing, Dioscorus threw the responsibility on Elpidius; so did Juvenal. Thalassius only said, "It was not my doing." "Such a defence," said the magistrates, "is no defence when the faith is concerned." "If," said Dioscorus, "you blame me for obeying Elpidius, were no rules broken when Theodoret was brought in?" "He came in as accuser." "Why then does he now sit in the rank of a bishop?" "He and Eusebius sit as accusers," was the answer; "and you sit as accused" ( ib. 649). Afterwards the magistrates recurred to this topic: "Eusebius, at Constantinople, when accusing Eutyches, himself asked that Eutyches should be present. Why was not a like course taken at Ephesus?" No one answered ( ib. 656). Cyril's letter to John of Antioch, "Laetentur coeli," was read as part of the acts of Ephesus. Theodoret, by way of clearing himself, anathematized the assertion of "two Sons." All the bishopsâ€”so the acts of Chalcedon say expresslyâ€”cried out, "We believe as did Cyril; we did so believe, and we do . Anathema to whoever does not so believe." The opponents of Dioscorus then claimed Flavian as in fact of one mind with Cyril, as clear of Nestorianism. The "Easterns" added, "Leo believes so, Anatolius believes so." There was universal protestation of agreement with Cyril, including even the magistrates, who answered, as it were, for Marcian and Pulcheria. Then came a fierce outcry against Dioscorus. "out with the murderer of Flavianâ€”the parricide!" The magistrates asked, "Why did you receive to communion Eutyches, who holds the opposite to this belief? Why condemn Flavian and Eusebius who agree with it?" "The records," answered Dioscorus, "will shew the truth." Presently, in regard to some words of Eustathius of Berytus, adopting Cyril's phrase, "one incarnate nature," as Athanasian, the Easterns cried, "Eutyches thinks thus, so does Dioscorus." Dioscorus shewed that he was careful to disclaim, even with anathema, all notions of a "confusion, or commixture," of Godhead and manhood in Christ. The magistrates asked whether the canonical letters of Cyril, recently read (i.e. his second letter to Nestorius, Mansi, vi. 660, and his letter to John, ib. 665, not including the third letter to Nestorius, to which the 12 anathemas were annexed) bore out the language as cited from Eustathius. Eustathius held up the book from which he had taken Cyril's language. "If I spoke amiss, here is the manuscript: let it be anathematized with me!" He repeated Cyril's letter to Acacius by heart, and then explained: "One nature" did not exclude the flesh of Christ, which was co-essential with us; and "two natures" was a heterodox phrase if ( i.e. only if) it was used for a "division" of His person. "Why then did you depose Flavian?" "I erred" ( ib. v. 677). Flavian's own statement, that Christ was of two natures after the incarnation, in one hypostasis and one person, etc., was then considered; several bishops, in turn, approved of it, including Paschasinus, Anatolius, Maximus, Thalassius, Eustathius. The Easterns called "archbp. Flavian" a martyr. "Let his next words be read," said Dioscorus; "you will find that he is inconsistent with himself." Juvenal, who had been sitting on the right, now went over to the left, and the Easterns welcomed him. Peter of Corinth, a young bishop, did the same, owning that Flavian held with Cyril; the Easterns exclaimed, "Peter thinks as does" (St.) "Peter." Other bishops spoke similarly. Dioscorus, still undaunted, said, "The reason why Flavian was condemned was plainly this, that he asserted two natures after the incarnation. I have passages from the Fathers, Athanasius, Gregory, Cyril, to the effect that after the incarnation there were not two natures, but one incarnate nature of the Word. If I am to be expelled, the Fathers will be expelled with me. I am defending their doctrine; I do not deviate from them at all; I have not got these extracts carelessly, I have verified them" ( ib. vi. 684; see note in Oxf. ed. of Fleury, vol. iii. p. 348). After more reading, he said, "I accept the phrase 'of two natures,' but I do not accept 'two'" ( i.e. he would not say, "Christ has now two natures"). "I am obliged to speak boldly ( ἀναισχυντεῖν ); I am speaking for my own soul." "Was Flavian," asked Paschasinus, "allowed such freedom of speech as this man takes?" "No," said the magistrates significantly; "but then this council is being carried on with justice" ( ib. 692). Some time later the Easterns denied that the whole council at Ephesus had assented to Eutyches's language; it was the language of "that Pharaoh, Dioscorus the homicide." Eustathius, wishing, he said, to promote a good understanding, asked whether "two natures" meant "two divided natures." "No," said Basil, "neither divided nor confused" ( ib. 744) Basil afterwards, with Onesiphorus, described the coercion used as to the signatures ( ib. 827). The reading went on until it was necessary to light the candles ( ib. 901). At last they came to the signatures; then the magistrates proposed that as the deposition had been proved unjust, Dioscorus, Juvenal, Thalassius, Eusebius of Ancyra, Eustathius, and Basil, as leaders in the late synod, should be deposed; but this, it appears ( ib. 976, 1041), was a provisional sentence, to be further considered by the council. It was received with applause, "A just sentence! Christ has deposed Dioscorus! God has vindicated the martyrs!" The magistrates desired that each bishop should give in a carefully framed statement of belief conformable to the Nicene "exposition," to that of the 150 Fathers (of Constantinople, in 381), to the canonical epistles and expositions of the Fathers, Gregory, Basil, Athanasius, Hilary, Ambrose, and Cyril's two canonical epistles published and confirmed in the first Ephesian council, adding that Leo had written a letter to Flavian against Eutyches. So ended the first session ( ib. 935).
The second session was held Oct. 10 (ib. 937); Dioscorus was absent. After some discussion as to making an exposition of faith, which led to the reading of the creed in its two formsâ€”both of which were acceptedâ€”and of Cyril's "two canonical epistles," and of Leo's letter to Flavian (the Tome), which was greeted with "Peter has spoken by Leo; Cyril taught thus; Leo and Cyril have taught alike," but to parts of which some objection was taken by one bishop, and time given for consideration, the usual exclamations were made, among which we find that of the Illyrians, "Restore Dioscorus to the synod, to the churches! We have all offended, let all be forgiven!" while the enemies of Dioscorus called for his banishment, and the clerics of Constantinople said that he who communicated with him was a Jew ( ib. 976). In the third session, Sat. Oct. 13, the magistrates not being present, a memorial to the council from Eusebius of Dorylaeum, setting forth charges against Dioscorus, was read ( ib. 985). It then appeared that Dioscorus had been summoned, like other bishops, to the session, and intimated his willingness to come; but his guards prevented him. Two priests, sent to search for him, could not find him in the precincts of the church. Three bishops, sent with a notary, found him, and said, "The holy council begs your Holiness to attend its meeting." "I am under guard," said he; "I am hindered by the officers" ( magistriani, the subordinates of the "master of the offices," or "supreme magistrate of the palace," see Gibbon, ii. 326); and, after two other summonses, positively and finally refused to come. He had nothing more to say than he had said to former envoys. They begged him to reconsider it. "If your Holiness knows that you are falsely accused, the council is not far off; do take the trouble to come and refute the falsehood." "What I have said, I have said; it is enough." They desisted, and reported their failure. "Do you order that we proceed to ecclesiastical penalties against him?" asked Paschasinus, addressing the council. "Yes, we agree." One bishop said bitterly, "When he murdered holy Flavian, he did not adduce canons, nor proceed by church forms." The Roman delegates proposed a sentence, to this effect: "Dioscorus has received Eutyches, though duly condemned by Flavian, into communion. The apostolic see excuses those who were coerced by Dioscorus at Ephesus, but who are obedient to archbp. Leo" (as president) "and the council; but this man glories in his crime. He prevented Leo's letter to Flavian" (the acts of Ephesus say the letter to the council, v. supra ) "from being read. He has presumed to excommunicate Leo. He has thrice refused to come and answer to charges. Therefore Leo, by us and the council, together with St. Peter, the rock of the church, deprives him of episcopal and sacerdotal dignity" (ib. 1045). A letter was written to Dioscorus, announcing that he was deposed for disregarding the canons and disobeying the council. Dioscorus at first made light of the sentence, and said that he should soon be restored; the council wrote to the two emperors, reciting his misdeeds, as before, and adding that he had restored the heterodox and justly-deposed Eutyches to his office, in contempt of Leo's letter, had done injury to Eusebius, and had received to communion persons lawfully condemned ( ib. 1097). The deposition of Dioscorus was confirmed by the emperor; he was banished to Gangra in Paphlagonia, and died there in 454. Proterius, archpriest of Alexandria, who adhered to the council of Chalcedon, was placed in the see of St. Mark, but never gained the goodwill of his people as a body; they regarded Dioscorus, though de facto deposed, as their legitimate patriarch; and his deposition inaugurated the schism which to this day has divided the Christians of Egypt, the majority of whom, bearing the name of Jacobites, have always disowned the council of Chalcedon, and venerated Dioscorus as "their teacher" (Lit. Copt. St. Basil), and as a persecuted saint (see Neale, Hist. Alex. ii. 6). As to his theological position, there is, perhaps, little or nothing in his own words which might not be interpreted consistently with orthodoxy. Even as to his conduct, the charges brought by the Alexandrian petitioners at Chalcedon are too deeply coloured by passion to command our full belief; and a mere profligate oppressor would not have secured so largely the loyalty of Alexandrian churchmen. But his public acts in 449 exhibit the perversion of considerable abilitiesâ€”of courage, resolution, clear-headednessâ€”under the temptations of excessive power and the promptings of a tyrannous self-will. The brutal treatment of Flavian, which he practically sanctioned, in which perhaps he personally took part, has made his memory specially odious; and his name is conspicuous among the "violent men" of church history. [See Monophysitism.]
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Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Dioscorus (1), Patriarch of Alexandria'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hwd/d/dioscorus-1-patriarch-of-alexandria.html. 1911.