Chapter VII.—Account of the Bishops Euphratas and Vincentius, and of the plot formed in Antioch against them.
The wonted opponents of the truth were so much displeased at these proceedings, that they planned a notoriously execrable and impious crime.
The two bishops resided near the foot of the mountain, while the military commander had settled in a lodging in another quarter.
At this period Stephanus held the rudder of the church of Antioch, and had well nigh sunk the ship, for he employed several tools in his despotic doings, and by their aid involved all who maintained orthodox doctrines in manifold calamities. The leader of these instruments was a young man of a rash and reckless character, who led a very infamous life. He not only dragged away men from the market-place, and treated them with blows and insult, but had the audacity to enter p. 73 private houses, whence he carried off men and women of irreproachable character. But, not to be too prolix in relating his crimes, I will merely narrate his daring conduct towards the bishops; for this alone is sufficient to give an idea of the unlawful deeds of violence which he perpetrated against the citizens. He went to one of the lowest women of the town, and told her that some strangers had just arrived, who desired to pass the night with her. He took fifteen of his band, placed them in hiding among the stone walls at the bottom of the hill, and then went for the prostitute. After giving the preconcerted signal, and learning that the folk privy to the plot were on the spot, he went to the gate of the courtyard belonging to the inn where the bishops were lodging. The doors were opened by one of the household servants, who had been bribed by him. He then conducted the woman into the house, pointed out to her the door of the room where one of the bishops slept, and desired her to enter. Then he went out to call his accomplices. The door which he had pointed out happened to be that of Euphratas, the elder bishop, whose room was the outer of the two. Vincentius, the other bishop, occupied the inner room. When the woman entered the room of Euphratas, he heard the sound of her footsteps, and, as it was then dark, asked who was there. She spoke, and Euphratas was full of alarm, for he thought that it was a devil imitating the voice of a woman, and he called upon Christ the Saviour for aid. Onager, for this was the name of the leader of this wicked band (a name 496 peculiarly appropriate to him, as he not only used his hands but also his feet as weapons against the pious), had in the meantime returned with his lawless crew, denouncing as criminals those who were expecting to be judges of crime themselves. At the noise which was made all the servants came running in, and up got Vincentius. They closed the gate of the courtyards, and captured seven of the gang; but Onager and the rest made off. The woman was committed to custody with those who had been seized. At the break of day the bishops awoke the officer who had come with them, and they all three proceeded together to the palace, to complain of the audacious acts of Stephanus, whose evil deeds, they said, were too evident to need either trial or torture to prove them. The general loudly demanded of the emperor that the audacious act should not be dealt with synodically, but by ordinary legal process, and offered to give up the clergy attached to the bishops to be first examined, and declared that the agents of Stephanus must undergo the torture too. To this Stephanus insolently objected, alleging that the clergy ought not to be scourged. The emperor and the principal authorities then decided that it would be better to judge the cause in the palace. The woman was first of all questioned, and was asked by whom she was conducted to the inn where the bishops were lodging. She replied, that a young man came to her, and told her that some strangers had arrived who were desirous of her company; that in the evening he conducted her to the inn; that he went to look for his band, and when he had found it, brought her in through the door of the court, and desired her to go into the chamber adjoining the vestibule. She added, that the bishop asked who was there; that he was alarmed; and that he began to pray; and that then others ran to the spot.
῎Οναγρος = wild ass