Chapter XXXIV.—Monks of Edessa: Julianus, Ephraim Syrus, Barus, and Eulogius; Further, the Monks of Cœle-Syria: Valentinus, Theodore, Merosas, Bassus, Bassonius; and the Holy Men of Galatia and Cappadocia, and Elsewhere; why those Saints until recently were Long-Lived.
Gaddanas and Azizus dwelt with Aones, and emulated his virtues. 1503 Ephraim the Syrian, who was an historian, and has been noticed 1504 in our own recital of events under the reign of Constantius, was the most renowned philosopher in this time, together with Julian, in the neighborhood of Edessa and its adjacent regions. Barses 1505 and Eulogius were both, at a later period than that to which we are referring, ordained p. 371 bishops, but not of any city; for the title was merely an honorary one, conferred on them as a compensation for their excellent conduct; and they were ordained in their own monasteries. Lazarus, to whom we have already alluded, was ordained bishop in the same manner. Such were the most celebrated philosophers of asceticism who flourished in Syria, Persia, and the neighboring countries, so far, at least, as I have been able to ascertain. The course common to all, so to speak, consisted in diligent attention to the state of the soul, which by means of fasting, prayer, and hymns to God, they kept in constant preparation to quit the things of this world. They devoted the greater part of their time to these holy exercises, and they wholly despised worldly possessions, temporal affairs, and the ease and adornment of the body. Some of the monks carried their self-denial to an extraordinary height. Battheus, for instance, by excessive abstinence and fasting, had worms crawl from his teeth; Halas, again, had not tasted bread for eighty years; and Heliodorus passed many nights without yielding to sleep, and added thereto seven days of fasting.
Although Cœle-Syria and Upper Syria, with the exception of the city of Antioch, was slowly converted to Christianity, it was not lacking in ecclesiastical philosophers, whose conduct appeared the more heroic from their having to encounter the enmity and hatred of the inhabitants of the place. And they nobly refrained from resistance, or resorting to the law, but spiritedly endured the insults and blows inflicted by the pagans. Such, I found, was the course pursued by Valentian, who, according to some accounts, was born at Emesa, but according to others, at Arethusa. Another individual of the same name distinguished himself by similar conduct, as likewise Theodore. Both were from Titti, which is of the nome of the Apameans; not less distinguished were Marosas, a native of Nechilis, Bassus, Bassones, and Paul. This latter was from the village of Telmison. He rounded many communities in many places, and introduced the method essential to the knowledge of philosophy, and finally established the greatest and most distinguished community of monks in a place called Jugatum. Here, after a long and honorable life, he died, and was interred. Some of the monks who have practiced philosophy in a distinguished and divine way have survived to our own days; indeed, most of those to whom allusion has been made enjoyed a very long term of existence; and I am convinced that God added to the length of their days for the express purpose of furthering the interests of religion. They were instrumental in leading nearly the whole Syrian nation, and most of the Persians and Saracens, to the proper religion, and caused them to cease from paganism. After beginning the monastic philosophy there, they brought forward many like themselves.
I suppose that Galatia, Cappadocia, and the neighboring provinces contained many other ecclesiastical philosophers at that time, for these regions formerly had zealously embraced our doctrine. These monks, for the most part, dwelt in communities in cities and villages, for they did not habituate themselves to the tradition of their predecessors. The severity of the winter, which is always a natural feature of that country, would probably make a hermit life impracticable. Leontius and Prapidius were, I understand, the most celebrated of these monks. The former afterwards administered the church of Ancyra, and the latter, a man of very advanced age, performed the episcopal functions in several villages. He also presided over the Basileias, the most celebrated hospice for the poor. It was established by Basil, bishop of Cæsarea, from whom it received its name in the beginning, and retains it until to-day.
From Syrian biographies.370:1504
See above, iii. 14, 16.370:1505
Basil, Ep. cclxvii.