Home » Type » E-journal, Language/Literature, Research Symposium » Silence and Rumor as Rhetorical Strategies in Basil’s Letters

Silence and Rumor as Rhetorical Strategies in Basil’s Letters

Citation with persistent identifier:

Fowler, Ryan, and Quiroga-Puertas, Alberto. “Silence and Rumor as Rhetorical Strategies in Basil’s Letters.” CHS Research Bulletin 3, no. 1 (2014). http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:FowlerR_and_PuertasA.Silence_and_Rumor_as_Rhetorical_Strategies.2014

§1 In this paper, we analyze the relationship between silence and rumor in the letters of Basil of Caesarea (329 or 330-379 CE), one of the Cappadocian Fathers and a towering figure in the intellectual and religious milieu of the fourth century AD. Basil wrote in a variety of genres, but his corpus of more than 360 letters has left behind a revealing look into his theological, ecclesiastical, and political strategies that were entwined his interpersonal relationships. By approaching silence and rumor as two of the most important methods of Basil’s self-presentation and as a narratological technique, we consider their relationship to be a symbiotic one; together, they comprise a cycle of communication that Basil used to great effect with his often highly educated audience.

§2 Basil of Caesarea’s letters make up a dynamic body of work that reflects his ability to revise his own past, to engage with a number of important issues and addressees, and to battle several heretical groups. The epistolographical dialogue that constitutes this corpus was essential to assert his position within the Church given the relative isolation of his semi-monastic life, as well as to arm himself against the continuing defense of what he saw as the resurging Nicene Creed.[1]

§3 For this study, we have paid particular attention to the letters relating to his relationship with Eustathius of Sebaste, a former colleague and an important influence on Basil, although their relationship completely deteriorated by the end of Basil’s life.[2] Eustathius became one of Basil’s greatest antagonists in the turbulent theological arena in the 370s primarily because of his frequent shifts in theological alliances. By exploring the letters regarding the Eustathian affair, we describe how the concepts of silence and rumor reacted to each other dialogically, and in effect should be viewed together as comprising a rhetorical cycle in response to these pressing historical circumstances. In this way, we see the deployment of silence and rumor at the core of Basil’s overall rhetorical methodology, especially when dealing with ecclesiastical controversies and issues of authority and self-presentation.

§4 In the process of analyzing Basil’s letters, we have come to consider silence and rumor to be non-technical proofs and methods of argumentation (ἄτεχνοι) whose process of theorization and systematization was not as complete as that of other rhetorical and logical topics and proofs.[3] In spite of the references to both concepts present in a variety of works stemming from different literary genres, rhetoricians barely theorized or elaborated on them; as a result, the treatment of silence and rumor in rhetorical treatises is scanty at best. We do, however, base our categorization of these terms as non-technical proofs upon the brief definitions and uses of ἄτεχνοι in rhetorical treatises. We believe that the study of silence and rumor as non-technical means of persuasion is particularly fitting in Basil’s letters relating to the Eustathian affair since, we contend, Basil’s argumentation relied on non-technical and unsystematic strategies while he maintains apologetic and forensic terminology and methodology, both of which are included among the sub-genres to which Aristotle considers ἄτεχνοι proofs to belong.[4]

§5 Attitudes towards non-technical proofs and topics were consistent in antiquity; for example, they were already present in pseudo-Aristotelian and Aristotelian texts. In the Rhetoric for Alexander (7.2-3) there are two modes of proofs—those drawn from words, actions, and persons, and others that are “supplementary” (ἐπίθετοι): “opinion (of the speaker), witnesses, oaths, and tortures.”[5] Further, Aristotle (Rh. 1355b-1356a) defined ἄτεχνοι as “those things which have not been furnished by ourselves but were already in existence,” a category that included laws, witnesses, tortures, contracts, and oaths (1375a24-25).[6]

§6 Similarly, in Cicero’s De oratore, non-technical proofs are (2.116-117) “the things which are not thought out by himself [i.e., the orator], but depend upon the circumstances and are dealt with by rule, for example documents, oral evidence, informal agreements, examinations, statutes, decrees of the Senate, judicial precedents, magisterial orders, opinions of counsel, and whatever else is not produced by the orator, but is supplied to him by the case itself or by the parties.”[7] And later Quintilian states that the Aristotelian division between “technical” (artificiales) and “non-technical” (inartificiales) proofs (V.1) “has met with universal approval.” [8] To sum up, Kennedy (1972: 82), reflecting Aristotle’s Rhetoric, has considered the category of ἄτεχνος to be “something not created but used.”

§7 With regard to silence, not much was written in antiquity about it, and very little seems to have been written that pertains to Basil in modern scholarship. First, we will mention the discussions that include silence within technical examinations about rhetorical tropes. Second, we will discuss several literary uses of silence that we have found helpful when trying to determine the taxonomy and implications of uses of silence in the letters of Basil.

§8 In the rhetorical sphere, the author of the Ad Herennium has a single instance in which “disdainful silence” (tacite contemni, 2.XX.31) is the proper response to an argument: in the case of defective argumentation. So for students of rhetoric, recognizing the difference between an argument that deserves a rebuttal and one that requires silence “will warn us to avoid a fault in arguing, and teach us skillfully to reprimand a fault not avoided by others.”[9] Other instances of the idea of silence in the Ad Herennium are used to provide examples of clever verbal devices, for example the tropes of antithesis (4.15.21) and reciprocal change (4.28.39).[10] These last are instances not of the use of silence as silence per se, but as silence as used in Gorgianic wordplay.

§9 Plutarch’s De garrulitate also provides a number of examples in which silence is employed as a limit to speech, especially bad speech or babbling. Its use is a reflection of a disciplined, careful mind:

And the second is that we must apply our reasoning powers to the effects of the opposite behavior, always hearing and remembering and keeping close at hand the praises bestowed on reticence, and the solemn, holy, and mysterious character of silence, remembering also that terse and pithy speakers and those who can pack much sense into a short speech are more admired and loved, and are considered to be wiser, than these unbridled and headstrong talkers.[11]

§10 De garrulitate elsewhere continues to connect the importance of silence to both the religious milieu and the character of a speaker: “Thus silence is something profound and awesome and sober, but drunkenness is a babbler, for it is foolish and witless, and therefore loquacious also.”[12] These texts show that silence for Plutarch is much more than simply the absence of words. For him, proper silence is not only the expression of a sharp mind, but it is also the sign of the religious and sacred, an idea that will find its way eventually into early Christian practice, starting with the Gnostics and with Ignatius of Antioch in the first century CE, and continuing with Basil and Augustine in the fourth century.[13]

§11 This idea of silence—together with its opposite—as a reflection of character is helpful to keep in mind when thinking about silence in Basil’s letters. In Plutarch, and this holds often for Late Antiquity in general, dense and pithy speech is the reflection of a disciplined, careful, wiser mind. We see that there is a sacred power to silence that is attached to the careful speaker.

§12 Moving from the technical to the literary, there are a number of instances of silence used to express a strong or resolved character that, as a device to which Basil frequently resorted in his letters, have helped us to catalogue and contextualize uses of silence in his letters. Our first example is Homeric, but is interpreted through the lens of an imperial text. When the author of De sublimitate explains the power of the Nekyia in the Odyssey, he explains silence as, instead of an absence, communicating a type of presence:

I have hinted elsewhere in my writings that sublimity is, so to say, the echo of greatness of soul. Hence a thought in its naked simplicity, even though unuttered, is sometimes admirable by the sheer force of its sublimity; for instance, the silence of Ajax in the eleventh Odyssey is great, and grander than anything he could have said.[14]

§13 Speaking, then, would simply have gotten in the way of the expression of Ajax’s greatness of soul. Taken alongside Basil’s innumerable references to his own silence, the point of discussing this description in Ps-Longinus is to suggest that silence can communicate meaning. This has helped us think about how it can reflect character as well as shape it, all of which Basil accomplishes to great effect in his letters.

§14 In addition, we further developed our idea of silence by reflecting on the semiotic idea of an “absent signifier.” This notion is often described as the act of pointing to a sign that is absent from a text but which—by contrast—nevertheless influences the meaning of a signifier actually used (one also drawn from the same paradigm set). This phenomenon can be thought of as the absence of something that is, so to speak, conspicuous by its very absence. Instead, we have come to believe that silence, in order not to be simply a lack, had to be signaled by Basil in order to be silence. We might consider calling silence, then, rather than an absent signifier, a “signified absence.” An example of what we mean by this phrase is found at the very start of Sophocles’ Ajax:

And now I see you by the hut of Ajax near the ships, where he occupies the last position, a long while on his trail and scanning his newly made footprints to see whether he is inside or not.[15]

§15 At the very start of his own play, Ajax is absent, but his absence has been signaled by Athena—not only by name in line 4, but by reference to his freshly-pressed footprints.[16] The audience’s attention is partially focused on Odysseus, who is tracking the footprints like a Spartan hound, but even more so on Ajax in his absence.

§16 We have found these literary instances helpful when trying to develop a taxonomy of silence in Basil’s letters. For silence to exist for Basil, it is not enough simply that there was some span of quiet or non-communication—he is compelled to draw attention to the absence. To our thinking, silence in his letters should not be thought of as empty space in the middle of the room; rather, it is the empty chair at a table drawing attention to itself. For Basil, consequently, silence is nothing named; for example, it is through the act of signifying some moment or period of silence that Basil uses the idea to express the gravity of the challenges and anxieties of the day. Often, his silence expresses his endurance of all the pain and calumny with which he is inundated throughout his life. As will become clear, it is specifically rumor, slander, even “common talk” that yanks Basil out of this silence and into the ἀγών of the theological landscape of the fourth century.

§17 There are a number of terms in Basil that evoke not only silence (e.g., σιγή and σιωπή), but also the related “tranquility” (ἡσυχία) and “solitude” (ἐρημία). The two former terms are at times employed in his letters as the ideal circumstances for philosophy and prayer (that is, they create the necessary focus for communion with God), but are also used to shape Basil’s character in the outside world and to express the drama of the events in his life. For example, the impact of a particularly egregious rumor can often shock Basil into silence and speechlessness (e.g., epp. 29.1.1 and 244.1.6: σιωπή, and ep. 130.2.7: ἀφασία). But, in addition, the terms for “tranquility” and “solitude,” especially ἐρημία, have been appropriated and redefined in Basil’s letters in his attempt to regularize a newly developed collective monastic life for which he is responsible for establishing the rules. This lifestyle is then able to be understood as a collective alternative to the solitary desert fathers (ἐρημίται) of Egypt and elsewhere.[17]

§18 Regarding rumor, its treatment was far from thorough in ancient rhetorical treatises. One reason for this was its mercurial and slippery nature, which did not help in the process of theorization. In the Ad Herennium (2.8), for instance, rumor is briefly mentioned as a non-technical proof that could be used either to strengthen an author’s argument or to undermine an opponent’s argument. Quintilian (5.3) thought of rumor along the same lines: that is, as a rhetorical device characterized by its ambiguity and duplicity. In both of these authors, it is clear that the manipulation of this non-technical proof demanded rhetorical sophistication and prowess since it was considered to be an unpredictable weapon that needed to be carefully controlled when deployed.

§19 In the letters of Basil, we have considered rumor (e.g., often φήμη and ἀκοή) as a widely spread and unverified report that is characterized by a lack of agency or the impression of anonymity. In addition, we have come to associate rumor with calumny and slander (e.g., frequently βλασφημία, διαβολή, συκοφαντία). We understand these terms as descriptions of false and defamatory statements in order to damage someone else’s reputation. Their combination with the various meanings that silence communicated helped Basil compose a persuasive Apologia Basilii against the numerous charges brought against him over the decade spanning the Eustathian affair.

§20 An important use of rumor in Basil’s letters is its manipulation to shape his public persona and to draw attention to the centrality of his presence in the religious and ecclesiastical milieu of his period. Moreover, he identified his persona with the religious orthodoxy of the moment, as well as the state of the bishopric at the time: attacks against Basil were characterized as attacks against the Church (relatedly, so also was his sickliness reflective of the ill state of the Church). Though he took personally the calumnies and slanders against the religious tenets he defended, we will see that defending himself would then be the equivalent of public service to the Christian world.

§21 By focusing on the relationship that held between silence and rumor, we hope to illustrate the symbiosis of the two ideas in Basil’s handling of the case against him. Reading the letters dealing with Eustathius collectively as a dialogic Apologia Basilii, we aim to show that Basil built his defense over time by carefully considering all of the social bonds and alliances of the numerous religious sects that crowded the period and that shifted over the years. At the same time, he himself was being charged with altering his religious doctrines.

§22 We believe that letter 51 provides the general tone and themes that will play out in the body of letters regarding Eustathius. The letter shows effectively in what way Basil deployed his general rhetorical strategy, which is supported by his persistent efforts to frame his ecclesiastical quarrels in a forensic atmosphere. Basil will, throughout his letters, orchestrate the courtroom and casts various characters in their legal roles; he will thereby enter this ἀγών on his own terms with an eye toward replying to his opponents and refuting the many slanders brought against him.

§23 In letter 51, Basil writes to the bishop Bosporius in order to refute reports that he had anathematized Dianius. From the first lines, the letter opens with unverified and damaging news (ep. 51.1.1-4): “Can you not imagine how my soul was pained on hearing of the calumny heaped upon me by certain ones who have no fear of the Judge who will ‘destroy all that speak a lie’?”[18] It is important to note that the start of the arguments in the letter helps Basil gain the captatio benevolentiae of his addressee—he gives an account of his sufferings and of the unjustified calumnies against him before we get to know even what the trouble was. Later, he shapes his characterization by quoting two Biblical texts. The first quote acknowledges the ambiguity that calumnies can produce (“calumny humbles a man” [Eccles. 7.7], ep. 51.1.7); the second text highlights Basil’s ability to persevere in the face of a difficult situation: “he that oppresses the poor, reprimands his Maker” ([Prov. 14.31], ep. 51.1.12-13).[19] The uses of these Scriptural texts should be thought of as another type of ἄτεχνος proof: that of the process of reading the law out loud in a courtroom. In this way, Basil Christianized this legal process—for him, as for many apologists, the Bible was the law.

§24 Basil continues in letter 51 to defend himself before God as the true Judge (τὸν Κριτήν, ep. 51.1.3) in his invented courtroom; to be sure, he will refer back to this forensic space for the remainder of the letters relating to this affair. Consequently, Basil has complete control over the setting of the scene in which his defense plays out, and sets the standard by which evidence will be presented: whether legally and carefully, or illegally and without argument. Thus, he is able to present a refutation against various fabrications and idle speech by means of a number of rhetorical questions and defensive maneuvers (ep. 51.1.17-21).[20] So, later, in order to dispel any rumors regarding his relationship with Dianius, which could cast him in an unfavorable light, Basil shapes a short panegyric of Dianius (ep. 51.1.27-39) expressing his admiration for his virtuous life and expressing forgiveness for his slippage into the Homoean creed (ep. 51.2.1-16).

§25 Basil concludes the letter with a peroratio inviting any accuser to “take his stand in the open” and “refute him freely.”[21] Here we have a direct invitation to those who threw blasphemies against him to confront him by speaking their mind in the open, as opposed to “prattling in the corner like a slave” (μὴ κατὰ γωνίαν θρυλείτω δουλοπρεπῶς, ep. 51.2.19-20). This defines Basil’s solution to quarrels within the Church; as we will see in subsequent letters, given the ubiquity and uncontrolled presence of rumors and slanders around him, Basil thought that Christian παρρησία and physical encounters were the best means to deal with problems and avoid the spread of rumors and unverified information, a general argument he developed through his letters. At the same time he expressed this technique, however, Basil is not above continuing and spreading rumors and hearsay when it is beneficial to his cause.

§26 During the early 370s, after this letter is written, Basil maintained his frantic activity as one of the main architects of Eastern Christianity. His letters show that he was in contact with the most important Christian figures in the intricate ecclesiastical world in which the attribution (or deposition) of sees and changes of creeds were regularly discussed in epistles. Letters detailing such dealings populate Basil’s corpus: for example, ep. 68, which is addressed to Meletius, one of the Bishops of Antioch, and ep. 79, addressed to Eustathius himself after he had written Basil to ask about his situation during the reign of the Arian emperor Valens.

§27 In addition, in letter 92, Basil wants to provide such accurate information regarding the religious turmoil in the East to the Italians and Gauls so that they will not be tempted to accept hearsay (ἡ ἀκοή, ep. 92.1.24) as their main source of information. He is positive, he says, that they have not remained ignorant of his affairs, since “rumor has gone forth to the farthest reaches of the world” (ἡ ἀκοὴ καὶ εἰς τὰ ἔσχατα τῆς οἰκουμένης διέδραμεν, ep. 92.1.24). One solution to the problems that can stem from slander was to supplement the content of a letter viva voce. Therefore, Basil relies on a number of informed letter bearers, who will have the opportunity to fill in missing information as well as answer unanticipated questions. In fact, in letter 92, Basil sets up Sabinus to provide “whatever is not contained in our letter” (καὶ ὅσα τὴν ἐπιστολὴν διαφεύγει παρ’ ἑαυτοῦ διηγήσασθαι, ep. 92.1.35-36). Basil will exploit all of these types of strategies in an effort to utilize the advantages of apologetic and forensic defenses in his handling of the Eustathian affair.

§28 That said, Basil did not express in his letters any serious concern about his relationship with his colleague, Eustathius, until the year 372. At that time, in a letter addressed to Eusebius of Samosata (ep. 98), Basil narrates his visit to Eustathius in order to check whether he was still loyal to the orthodoxy of the time. The particulars of this visit are detailed in the letter 99, addressed to the count Terentius. A puzzled Basil confesses that he was hurt by Theodotus, the bishop of Nicopolis, who humiliated him by avoiding a meeting in his bishopric on the grounds that Basil was in contact with Eustathius, who had by that point proven himself heretical. The core of the letter consists of Basil’s narration of his meeting with Eustathius in his attempt to obtain a verbal confession of orthodoxy from him, something that, after two days of discussion, he in fact secured. Basil was doubly disappointed, however, when he learned that Eustathius had retracted his affirmation of orthodoxy soon after he had left the meeting. It was then that Theodotus and his followers withdrew their invitation to Basil to attend a synod. Since Theodotus and he were in charge of sending bishops to the region of Armenia, this incident deeply troubled Basil: such conflicts damaged Basil’s authority, and, by extension for Basil, harmony within the Church (ep. 99.2.1-34).

§29 Basil was caught between two fires: a strong feeling of disappointment in his friend and conflict with an important figure in the Christian orthodoxy. If he wanted to claim his innocence, he was compelled to try to use the circulating rumor to his own advantage in order to dispel these slanders against him. Basil based his refutation of Theodotus’ assertion that Eustathius had retracted his verbal doctrinal confession by capitalizing on what was “common talk” in Theodotus’ circle. If that retraction turned out to be true, Basil would demand from Eustathius proof of his adherence to the orthodox creed; if such a document cannot be produced, Basil would separate from him.[22] Basil wanted his approach to be directly contrasted with the way Theodotus seemed to be arguing. According to Basil, the accusations that led to the retraction of his invitation to the synod were groundless and precipitous (since, according to his testimony, these measures were taken before they knew about the outcome of his meeting with Eustathius).[23] But, what was worse in Basil’s eyes, Theodotus’ disrespectful attitude towards him was without merit.

§30 The end of letter 99 allows Basil to accomplish two tasks relating to the ways and means to argue adequately: first, he battles new slanders and false calumnies against Cyril, the bishop he appointed in Armenia; second, he educates the bishops of that area about how to create an argument properly, one not based on incomplete evidence.[24] In the final sentence of this letter (ep. 99.4.28-30), Basil recognizes the danger—and power—of the epistolatory exchange by expressing that he probably “should have remained silent” (Ταῦτα ἔδει μὲν σιωπᾶν, ep. 99.4.28-29) about all of the accusations leveled against him; however, important to Basil’s strategy is conveying the “necessity” (ἀνάγκην, ep. 99.4.31) of his having to repeat the slanders against him. The impression given is that these actions are required of him: they are out of his control, and in some sense obligatory. In this case, for example, there is“no other way” (οὐκ ἦν ἄλλως, ep. 99.4.30) to vindicate himself. This emphasis on necessity will run throughout his letters.[25]

§31 The tension that Basil faces here, and which he will confront in subsequent letters, is between his wanting to acknowledge his own importance—in the very act of being the subject of rumor—and the danger of further spreading accusations in the desire to fully inform those who might come to his aid.[26] The key to understanding this tension is his setting up as antitheses “making public the reproaches” (δημοσιεύειν…τὰ ὀνείδη, ep. 99.4.29) against himself, and his need to “relate the whole truth of what has happened” (πᾶσαν τῶν γεγονότων τὴν ἀλήθειαν διηγήσασθαι, ep. 99.4.31-32). Verbs of the stem δημοσιευ— are used in the description of the process of rumor-mongering, while διηγη— (and words of this same stem) connote the responsible use of relaying accurate information to others. This nuanced vocabulary proves useful in keeping straight proper and improper forms of argumentation in these letters.

§32 Letter 119, addressed to Eustathius himself, at least ostensibly still finds Basil still on good terms with his colleague. But he has come to suspect Sophronius and a certain Basil, whom Eustathius had sent to him as assistants, to be spies spreading rumors about his beliefs. Even given their source, Basil here remains reluctant, at least in print, to openly accuse Eustathius of being responsible for their behavior toward him. This letter, then, marks the start of their eventual break, when Basil will finally accept the evidence against him and so will be able to directly accuse Eustathius of calumniation against him in a letter. Important in the current letter, however, is that from the outset Basil feels confident that even “if he does not speak” (κἂν ἐγὼ μὴ λέγω, ep. 119.1.6), Peter, the letter’s bearer, and Eustathius will be able to discuss the issues addressed therein, so that “assuredly” (Πάντως) the former “will make known every detail of what has happened” (γνωρισθῆναι ποιήσει σοι τὴν ἀκρίβειαν τῶν πεπραγμένων, ep. 119.6-7). Even with his reliance on information carefully argued in letter form, viva voce is still seen often as an essential supplement; as dynamic and immediately relevant as the epistolatory dialogue remains for Basil, Peter will be able to provide a response to the letter that might not have been expected to be necessary.[27]

§33 In this letter, Basil’s modus operandi is to bring these imputations into the forensic arena. As in ep. 51, he devises his own defense by orchestrating the courtroom and casting all the roles within his apology: Peter is considered to be a full witness of this episode while Basil himself acts as prosecutor of Sophronius and Basil, who had spread suspicions and slanders against him. Basil accuses them of the arrogance involved in ignoring both the fear of God and his own “reputation” (ὑπόληψις, ep. 119.1.11).[28] Basil’s dramatization allows him, in this scenario, to elevate Eustathius to the rank of judge, while at the same time adopting a patronizing attitude towards him by itemizing the proper procedure of adjudication. Basil performs this service by guiding him through rhetorical questions in statements in order to make clear the legalistic rubric under which the issue should be considered.[29] In addition, this part of the letter is especially redolent of forensic vocabulary:

But whatever accusation these persons may bring against us, let them be examined by       you with all your acumen as to this—first whether they have brought a formal complaint against us, secondly, whether they have sought the rectification of the error for which they now attack.[30]

§34 With his reliance on such legalistic vocabulary, Basil reifies his strategy to counter the slippery nature of the rumors and the aggressiveness of the slanders against him by trying to define and control the arena.

§35 Immediately after this description of the proper way to bring about an accusation, Basil exposes a common trope that relates to παρρησία and ἀλήθεια, two concepts that are cornerstones in the process of exposing and defending this conflict. That is, Basil must attempt to uncover that which is concealed in the souls of his accusers under “their beaming countenances and their counterfeit expressions of affection,” namely, “their unspeakable depth of treachery and bitterness.”[31] And it is through their ignoble “flight” (φυγή)—or their “silence” (σιωπή) (manuscript readings differ, though the sense seems the same)—that they have made their feelings and their guilt in the matter clear.[32] So the compliment just after this sentence is resolutely ironic: that, “even without saying it” (κἂν ἡμεῖς μὴ διηγησώμεθα, ep. 119.32), Eustathius surely “knows well through his sagacity” (τῆς σῆς ἂν εἴη συνέσεως φροντίσαι, ep. 119.34-35) that the pretense of temperance can be used to gain the trust of others through trickery. Unfortunately for Basil the result of these slanders against him is a public hatred for the practice of an “ascetic life” (ὁ ἀσκητικὸς βιός, ep. 119.3)—something that Basil is not only trying to develop as a decidedly Christian way of life, but which also happens to be one of the interests that Basil and Eustathius shared.

§36 In this letter, Basil expresses great concern for sectarianism and divisions within the Church; for instance, later in ep. 164, Basil expresses nostalgia for the “good old days” when there was a “single harmony of the various members” due to the persecutions: when both the persecutors and the persecuted were out in the open. When the “blood of the martyrs was watering the Churches,” there was Christian peace among all the believers; now the members have shattered harmony so completely that Basil cannot help but lament laudatio temporis acti. [33]

§37 After dealing with Eustathius in ep. 119, Basil writes to a number of people with the intention of addressing several important issues. He informs Theodotus on the ecclesiastical affairs he is dealing with at the moment in a very short letter (ep. 121), which seems as much as anything an attempt to regularize his relationship with the bishop after the incident narrated in ep. 99. In a more personal tone, he addresses the monk Urbicius in order to have an opportunity to freely express his own anxieties (ep. 123); a main concern in that letter was to pair his current disillusionment with the Church’s poor health. In a similar vein, Basil replies to Eusebius of Samosata’s desire for a reconciliation between him and Eustathius (ep. 128); still bitter and resentful over the conflict, Basil advised Eusebius to be mindful of Eustathius’ persuasiveness and duplicity. Eustathius had in fact signed the Transcript of Faith that Basil offered him to prove his adherence to the Nicene Creed (ep. 125), and he had in fact then immediately renounced it; what is more, he did all this only to turn around and accuse Basil of Apollinarism.

§38 Then, from the opening moments of his letter to bishop Theodotus (ep. 130), to whom Basil is beholden for pinning down Eustathius’ true beliefs, Basil is compelled to recognize that he has been silent up to that point about the affair with the bishop.[34] He explains his uncommunicativeness, however, by mentioning that it was not because he regarded the charges against him “contemptible” (εὐκαταφρόνητοι, ep. 130.1.6), but because the charges were all too well known; as we will see especially in letters 210 and 223, Basil is quite aware of the risks and dangers of the speed which with information travels in the Late Antique world.

§39 Basil continues to perform his tightrope act in that he has to persuade Theodotus of his own inability to recognize Eustathius’ real nature without at the same time seeming unfit for his position in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. As a result, Basil centers his apologetic argumentation on Eustathius’ pernicious tactics since the latter had used several means to spread his false accusations far and wide: Eustathius’ doctrine was disseminated by rumor; he sent letters to every corner of the world; he used general synods to distribute his blasphemies and calumnies; and he composed slanderous tracts against him.[35] Basil’s emphasis on the proper techniques to disseminate information responsibly may be explained as a response to Eustathius’ charge against Basil that he had “spread abroad” (ἐνσπείραντας, ep. 130.1.19) false doctrines. Finally, Basil quotes a Scriptural text (Jer. 13.23) as law in order to summarize Eustathius’ fickleness, and to underscore that it was in fact the latter who had severed the sense of κοινωνία and had provoked the conflict.[36]

§40 Immediately after describing the abuse and calumny he had suffered as well as its method of dissemination, Basil resumes in this letter his defense of why he has not made any reply: it was taught by Paul (“a Christian should not take vengeance,” Rom. 12:19) that revenge is forbidden—we should only give place to wrath. And as if this were not enough, the depth of Eustathius’ hypocrisy had thrown Basil into a sort of “speechlessness through astonishment.”[37] In this single sentence, we have two important roles that silence plays in Basil’s letters: as the mark of one’s endurance of hardships (set up at the very the start of ep. 51), and as the response to a major shock or violation, for which, it emerges, the only means of forcing a recovery of speech is the emergence of more rumor, which in turn requires a defense.

§41 Letter 130 concludes with Basil’s mention of yet another rumor: that Eustathius was re-ordaining certain men, which is something “even the heretics” had not done. According to the Benedictine editors, this is a statement that Basil himself likely knew to be untrue; in fact, he gives a parenthetical statement drawing attention to this possibility: “…if the report be true and not a figment made up for the purpose of calumny.”[38] With this aside, Basil gives the illusion of responsibility regarding his handling of possibly false information while at the same time spreading the rumor in order to reinforce his portrait of Eustathius as a pioneer in performing this unorthodox rite, as well as an unreliable theologian.

§42 In the next two letters (epp. 203 and 205), Basil continues to articulate his defense to different audiences: the first to a generalized audience and the second to an individual.[39]

§43 In letter 203, addressed to the Maritime Bishops, Basil states that he was then “being publicly exposed to everything, like headlands jutting out into the sea receive the fury of the heretical waves.”[40] Still shocked by recent events, Basil is compelled to defend and explain his position—both as a theologian and as a representative of the orthodoxy—to a variety of individuals and communities. Willing to visit the Maritime Bishops to clear the air and to explain himself, Basil advises them not to judge him precipitously.[41] In this context, Basil attempts to strengthen the bond between them by dealing with religious slanders by means of forensic rhetoric imbued with brotherly compassion.[42] And, as with previous letters, his message will be accurately conveyed given the additional assistance of the carrier of the letter (in this case, the presbyter Peter).

§44 As a matter of fact, in the next letter in our Eustathian corpus (ep. 205), addressed to Bishop Elpidius, Basil is again requesting assistance, this time going so far as to refer to the letter carrier, Meletius, as “a living letter both to him who writes and him who receives.”[43] Even though he had been ill due to his asceticism, Meletius could not be spared since he is one of those men “who can supply what is lacking in [a letter] through their own words.”[44] But more importantly, perhaps, Basil ends this letter by asking Elpidius to pray for his desired goal, something only God can give them: the chance “to live a quiet and restful life” (ἤρεμον καὶ ἡσύχιον βίον διάγειν, ep. 205.15-16), which can only exist with “the termination of rumor and slander from the enemies of the Gospel” (τῆς ἐκ τῶν ἐχθρῶν τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου ἐπηρείας ἀπαλλαγεῖσιν, ep. 205.16-17).

§45 Ep. 210 is another letter for a generalized audience, this time sent to “the learned in Neocaesarea,” and continues the development of direct accusations against Eustathius. Basil’s stance in this letter is one of humility and obedience; he begins the letter by saying that he did not need initially to mention either his theology or his business while in Neocaesarea, because, as he explains, he has never been interested in publicity, and, further, his affairs are not worthy of so many witnesses; as he writes, “For to be strictly ignored has been my aim more than to be conspicuous is to those fond of glory.”[45] From the very start of this letter, Basil is trying to toe the line between making an impact upon the theological battle being waged at this time, and promoting the Christian ideals of humility and modesty. As much as Basil ostensibly wants to keep a low profile, those who invent news and lies about him and the omnipresence of rumor prevent him from it, prompting him, seemingly at every turn, to be forced into the rhetorical contest of fourth-century theological disputations.

§46 Yet in his very desire to escape the troubles of a civic life, as he relates in letter 210, he returned to his grandmother’s estate, having since learned that her land was a “suitable place for the study of philosophy…because of the quiet of its solitude.”[46] In this “remote spot” (ἐπὶ τὴν ἐσχατιὰν ταύτην, ep. 210.1.21-22), where he had spent time as a youth, he had found a respite from the pressing and cacophonous activities of men.[47] In fact, he came to envision the estate, especially after the reintroduction of his friend Gregory of Nazianzus to the area, as a bucolic substitute for Athens, but one without the problematic distractions of the big city.[48]

§47 To be sure, besides his appointed posts, it was the circulation of “slanders” (αἱ διαβολαί, ep. 210.2.3-4) against him that forced him to abandon this semi-monastic lifestyle, and effectively soured his relationship with the city. On the other hand, Basil buttresses his attack against the heretics among the Neocaesareans by acknowledging and capitalizing on the content of these same rumors: for example, “For they say, as those who have heard relate, that the wise men among you insistently declare that a name for the ‘Only-begotten’ has not been handed down, but a name for the opposite exists.”[49] And we can note here that Basil is “forced” (ἀναγκάζομαι, ep. 210.4.3) to give the truth, smiting his opponents with his arguments, and striking down the errors made on both sides—Sabellius on one side, and Anoemoeus on the other. He even returns fire with a veiled threat: they would lament their attitude if they did not desist in their heresy.[50] In other words, he will spread their internal quarrels to the rest of the Churches (“the sort of thing noised abroad by them” [ὁποῖόν ἐστι καὶ τοῦτο τὸ παρὰ τούτων περιφερόμενον],” ep. 210.5.24-25) while at the same time he would counter these rumors by “defining the controversies, out of necessity” (Ταῦτα ἀναγκαίως ὑμῖν διεστειλάμεθα, ep. 210.6.1).[51]

§48 The affair between Basil and Eustathius reaches its climax with letter 223. Not coincidentally, this is Basil’s most important letter regarding his use of silence as a rhetorical device. In this letter, as mentioned above, Basil can show that he has until recently followed Paul’s command that a Christian should not take vengeance, even though he is now forced to violate that directive;[52] he justifies this reversal with the support of other Scriptural texts: “Καιρός,” he begins this letter, “φησί, τοῦ σιγᾶν καὶ καιρὸς τοῦ λαλεῖν” (ep. 223.1.2-3). This quotation from Ecclesiastes [3.7.1-2] sets the entire tone for this letter, and at the same time justifies both his so-called three-year silence, as well as the current defense he will unleash.[53] The privileged location of the idea of καιρός is further supported by Basil’s immediate reference to the unbearable sufferings of Job, who, when he had struggled sufficiently in silence, then opened his mouth and pronounced “those words that everyone knows.”[54] Basil’s own time for silence should now be considered sufficient as well (and “timely,” as the letter begins), and so he can justify the defense: “it is quite in season to open my mouth to reveal the truth of what is unknown.” But Basil must still defend his violation of Paul’s directive from ep. 130, however, and so this is his cue to connect his often-used quotation from Romans with one from the Scriptures (Psalm 37.15): this is his “third year of silence in emulation of the prophet who made the boast ‘I became as a man who does not hear, and that has no reproofs in this mouth’.”[55] Basil has reached the culmination of his endurance of the pains received from the “calumnies” (συκοφαντίαι, ep. 223.1.14) that have resulted from the Eustathian affair. In previous letters, he had bitterly complained about the damage of the calumnies he had experienced; however, in this letter, he prefers to temper his almost masochistic tendency to express his grievances for such calumnies. Instead, here he opts to cast himself as a Christian who has interpreted and absorbed them—by means of the use of his previous silence—through the advice of the Scriptures. He completes this transformation with his quotation of Ecclesiastes: “Oppression troubles the wise, and shall destroy the strength of the heart.”[56]

§49 And immediately after this justification of slanders, Basil moves back to silence as further expression of his Job-like endurance: “…nevertheless I thought that I ought to bear my pains in silence, waiting for some correction to come through their very actions.”[57] Here Basil goes so far as to defend his silence by writing that, through a sort of Christian charity, he chose to believe that all his attackers had acted out of ignorance rather than out of malice. However, now that he sees that they do not repent, do not give any consideration to others, and do not make any amends, he realizes his mistake in being so generous, even though his interpretation is perfectly understandable.

§50 At this point in the conflict, Basil finds that the “safety of silence” (τὸ τῆς σιωπῆς ἀσφαλὲς, ep. 223.1.5) is gone. His approach to silence in this letter—in the form of waiting to see if actions might correct themselves while also remaining anxious to further muddy those waters by making things worse—has now backfired: his accusers on every side have gained momentum, and the situation has worsened.[58] And yet, still at pains to justify his previous silent endurance, Basil not only reemphasizes his patience in the middle of this letter, he at the same time reveals his real strategy. Just as a beleaguered battalion retreats to gather its strength, Basil has retreated into silence to recover his senses and his purpose:

There came to me the passage of Isaiah [42.14] who says: “I have kept silence; shall I always be silent and suffer? I was as patient as a woman in labor.” But may it so be that we both receive the reward for silence, and obtain some strength for the refutation, so that by refuting we may dry up this bitter torrent of falsehood that has flowed against us…[59]

§51 Basil wants to be given credit both for his long silence, as well as for breaking that silence in order to defend himself and having to go against the doctrine of both Paul and Psalm 37.

§52 Later in ep. 223, Basil moves to justify his mistaken judgment of his accusers and, by extension, of Eustathius, by going all the way back to his first meetings with the far-flung ascetics at the start of his move back to Caesarea. He had then found some individuals in his fatherland who were also imitating these men, and this allowed him a sense of salvation, and led him to consider the things that were seen as indications of that which is invisible. Since, as we have seen in previous letters, the secret thoughts of each of us are “unknown” (ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ, ep. 223.3.5), at the time Basil had mistook lowliness of dress as sufficient evidence of lowliness of mind; he mistook true ascetics to be orthodox. His own vanity, because he “envied them” (ζηλοτύπως εἶχον πρὸς αὐτούς, ep. 223.3.11-12) their honor, did not allow him to see them as they truly were.[60] This further supports the mischaracterization that had occurred with Eustathius.

§53 As a result of these events, Basil developed two main arguments to pardon himself for his relationship with such individuals. First, he was innocent because he was one of the victims of their stealthy communication strategies. The key word he uses is “covertly” (λάθρα, ep. 223.3.15-16), which indicates he should not be held responsible for not knowing their beliefs. Second, he pleads his innocence for calling those who warned him about these ascetics “slanderers” by denying any first-hand knowledge about their heretical tenets; that is, he was not an “ear-witness” (αὐτήκοος, ep. 223.3.16) to them. Here Basil again locates himself in the forensic arena by invoking a courtroom atmosphere and related forensic vocabulary.[61]

§54 And then immediately after defending this justifiable mistake, Basil tells us that he was called to the leadership of the Church. But before continuing on with his story he breaks off—and by means of his anacoluthon, he evokes spontaneity in his letter by stating that he must be silent instead of discussing those men who were sent to him as sentinels and spies. Though he does not remain silent about them later in the letter, his insistence on glossing over their crimes at this point underscores the gravity of the damage done by this affair. Indeed, the rest of this story would seem so unbelievable that merely relaying it would further slander him, or even engender in others the idea that Basil had come to hate all mankind.

§55 After discussing the validity of his beliefs by boasting about the prestige of his family’s orthodoxy, which derived, as mentioned in ep. 210, from his grandmother Macrina, Basil excuses himself from every aspect of the charges against him through a long argumentative section of the letter (ep. 223.4.1-6.32), which includes long strings of rhetorical questions and explanatory responses. In the end, his alleged heterodoxy was the object of common talk, which was part of a larger strategy to defame him.[62] It was only normal, then, that he was “forced to compose his own apology” to counter this campaign by showing that the case should be dismissed as a mistrial; after all, the bulk of the evidence against him stems from a misinterpretation and misapplication of the letter that Basil had sent to Apollinarius twenty years earlier when both were still laymen.[63] And Basil diminishes the strength of this charge by formulating it as a rumor: “So and so, it says, in the region of Syria, has written certain things irreverently; and you wrote to him twenty years and more ago. You, then, are an accomplice of the man, and let the charges against him be against you also.”[64] These texts, therefore, show Basil’s use of rumor: all throughout this letter, Basil manipulates it to his advantage while simultaneously being conscious of how easily he himself could become a target.

§56 It is at the very end of the letter that Basil returns again to this cycle of silence followed by rumor, thereby completing the frame at its very start. This time, the cycle is expressed in terms of ostensible and true causes for the conflict with Eustathius. The twenty-year-old letter to Apollinarius is “an excuse for the break” (ὑπόθεσις τῆς ἀπορρήξεως, ep. 223.7.14-15), but is not the real reason for Basil’s parting with Eustathius (though this again emphasizes the danger and power of the epistolatory exchange). Yet Basil is ashamed about the true cause of the split; unlike other instances of his need to discuss the rumors against him, Basil does not even mention the true cause of the break in this letter. In fact, it is only in letter 226 to the ascetics under him that we find out that the real reason was the attempted reconciliation between Eustathius and Euzoius, a bishop who was on bad terms with Basil at this time. And so, returning to the start of the letter and his silent endurance, he says in the final sentences that he would have been silent for all time if their recent deeds did not make the disclosure of their entire purpose a necessity “for the good of the many.”[65] As generous as that characterization of his communal service seems, Basil can’t help but let slip his concern for his own reputation: good men have come to believe that even being connected with Basil is an obstacle to the recovery of their authority.[66]

§57 Basil concludes this defense speech by giving a detailed account of the means used by Eustathius and his followers to disseminate their tenets and calumnies against him. First, Basil illustrates the mechanism of the spread of the slanderous letter. This information “was sent everywhere” (περιέπεμπον πανταχοῦ, ep. 223.7.18), and was quickly handed down and passed down to an increasing multitude of people, a process of communication prone to be poisoned and easily infected by flawed or false information:

before communicating with us, [they] sent the letter around everywhere. Indeed, seven days before it came to my hands the letter appeared in the possession of others; and these, having received it from others, were on the point of sending it to still others. For thus they contrived that one should pass it on to another, in order that the distribution might take place quickly for them throughout all the land.[67]

§58 This is an important passage for the study of rumor in Basil’s letters, as it shows how the mechanisms of rumor worked, and further shows the exponential growth of the dangers that rumor is capable of.

§59 Second, throughout letter 223 there is an implicit and sustained comparison between Basil’s and Eustathius’ systems of communication: Eustathius disseminated his slanders against Basil in general synods and by a torrent of falsehoods that would have drowned Basil (thus reprising a metaphor deployed in ep. 203) had God not been with him.[68] Alternatively, Basil’s dicta were firmly supported by allusions to the Scriptures, and by his close attention to canonical rhetorical strategies (investigation, confirmation, attention to sources, etc.). After reading this letter, one is left with the impression that Basil deftly controls his counter-accusations against Eustathius in order primarily to characterize him as someone whose volatile and changing character was matched by his duplicitous communication strategy.

§60 Finally, right after this description of the mechanism of propagating slanders, Basil discusses the right way to gather testimony for a case, as compared to his sloppy, slanderous accusers, and ends this letter by mentioning his silent endurance one last time, which (it should be clear by now) has come to an end despite his continually discussing and reinforcing it:

And although these facts were being related even at that time by those who were bringing us the clearest reports of their notions, yet we were determined to keep silence until He who discloses the hidden things should make public their actions with the clearest and most undeniable evidence.[69]

§61 The superlatives and general vocabulary of this section forcefully distinguish Basil’s method from his accusers, all of which are essential tools in reestablishing his authority as a responsible defendant, while also re-emphasizing the despicable way his accusers have put together their case against him. We think that the final verb—δημοσιεύσῃ (again, “make public”)—brings home Basil’s attempt to combine the necessity of his breaking his silence as well as his sense of public service in doing so.[70] In the end, the final move toward God as the true judge of all things hidden again emphasizes the idea that, whether now or in the last days, the crimes of these slanderers will become known.

§62 It is in letter 226 that Basil continued his campaign to refute defamatory fabrications by addressing a long epistle to the community of ascetics under his supervision. He begins by repeating arguments that he had previously presented elsewhere: explanation of the circulation of slanderous letters and groundless calumnies, and his search to reveal the truth. Most importantly, he continues contextualizing his arguments within a forensic context:

Wherefore I too, having heard that many letters are being circulated against me, branding and denouncing and accusing us for matters against which we have our defense ready for the judiciary of the truth, have been eager to keep silence, even as I have done.[71]

§63 Immediately after this re-emphasis of the letters sent out against him and his ready defense, Basil is compelled to mention again his “three year silence,” that silent endurance which has led to “the accused being condemned without trial.”[72] His silence, which was justified by Scripture, backfired. In this way Basil realizes that silence can also result in a vacuum, which can in turn be filled by rumors, accusations, and, with no rebuttal in sight, a confirmation of the slanders.[73] His silence, rather than being interpreted as Job-like, was instead taken to be proof of his indefensibility against what, as a result, had become truth. This unfortunate circumstance has led to this proleptic letter to his ascetics, so that, through their Christian charity, they will not believe the slanders, and so that they behave as responsible judges since “the law does not judge until it hears each side.”[74] And yet Basil’s letters should in fact only be supplementary to what they already know—he flatters them in that they will recall that “the wise judge will let the facts suffice for the manifestation of the truth.”[75] And, he says again, even if he remains silent, “it is possible that they see what is happening.”[76] Of course, that does not prevent Basil from narrating the entire situation for them anyway.

§64 After discussing at length the instability of the religious alliances of his time, a situation in which slandering all other theological groups had became a common activity, Basil only here explains the content of his letter to Apollinarius. He argues that it was nothing but a gesture of cordiality that has been maliciously misinterpreted many years later, thereby becoming the source of calumnies against him, something unsurprising given the tendency of his enemies to practice “a rotten sophistry” (Τούτου δὲ τοῦ σοφίσματος τὸ σαθρὸν, ep. 226.3.19).

§65 Thus, after so recently breaking his silence, Basil admits in ep. 226 that while his letters will not silence his accusers, at the very least they may help guard the ears of his audience (Τὰς μέντοι ὑμετέρας ἀκοὰς φυλαχθῆναι, ep. 226.4.25-26) of supporters. He brings the letter to a close by again asking the ascetics to ignore the calumnies of the slanders, unless they, as witnesses of this case, consider his apology too weak to be persuasive.[77] And so, Basil finally ends the letter by reminding his ascetics of the ideal life, of what might be the case if these slanders were finally put to rest: namely, the “quiet” (ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ, ep. 226.4.36-37) fulfillment of the work of Christ. That is, Basil allows himself to identify once again his ideal life that would be possible only in an orthodox world without heresy or calumny—one which he would never experience.

§66 In the last letter of our Eustathian corpus, letter 244 to Bishop Patrophilus, Basil recognizes the addressee’s recent silence as a sign of his shock that Basil had begun to wage war “because of his care for one man, who was now different from what he was.”[78] Dismissing the previous letter in which Patrophilus had included a “kindly rebuke from a brother,” this insult did not actually vex Basil, he says—far from it: he almost laughed at it.[79] Patrophilus, writes Basil, seems to be like the many, in that they also judge based on talk, instead of being fellow investigators of the truth in his dispute with Eustathius.[80]

§67 Basil goes on to narrate that he had been dumbfounded after being confronted the day after his meeting with a letter that gave no mention of his prior meeting with Eustathius or the signed confession. His physical shock nearly caused him a loss of faith in all men: everyone he met was suspect, and Eustathius’ behavior was so changeable that it very nearly destroyed his belief in the virtue of charity. Such concerns about consistency seem to us to be as important to Basil as the actual validity or defensibility of the beliefs themselves.

§68 Continually turning over these things by himself (or, as he says, “being overturned by them,” ep. 244.4.21), Basil was forced to keep his silence. As before, he did not keep it through disdain (which would hardly be the Christian response), but through “perplexity, helplessness, and an inability to say anything worthy of my pain.”[81] Near the end of this letter, he is no longer silent, so he feels it necessary to list a number of the various forms of heresy alive at the time. And still he further indicates their gravity by ending his catalogue with the conclusion that while all his statements are true, he has in fact passed over “countless others in silence.”[82]

§69 So Basil here returns to an argument he had used in previous letters, namely the issue of changeability within the numerous ecclesiastical disputations of his time: “Why do I mention,” Basil asks, “their fickleness of speech when I have in their very deeds greater proofs of their changing to opposite views?”[83] He explains his own rhetorical question a bit later in the same letter: “but their aim is one, as it seems—to seek their own advantage everywhere, and to consider him a friend who assists in accomplishing their desires, but to judge him an enemy, and to spare no calumny against him.”[84] Basil reflects here his primary concern that those who are fickle only seek their own advantage; Eustathius remains the paradigm of this type of changeability.

§70 In addition, Basil attacked those who took over certain churches because of the inconstancy of their beliefs, explicitly summarizing their mutability: “they followed Arius in the beginning; they changed to Hermogenes, who was diametrically opposed to the infamous teachings of Arius, as the creed originally proclaimed by that man at Nicaea shows.”[85] And not coincidentally, one of the most common themes in Basil’s letters is his projection of the absolute consistency of his own beliefs. One of these occasions leads to what might be one of his most beautiful—and clever—metaphors, given in letter 223, in which Basil presents himself as the very model of consistency [87]:

For just as a seed, in developing, becomes larger instead of small, but is the same in itself, not changing in kind but being perfected in development, so I consider that also in me the same doctrine has been developed through progress, and what now is mine has not taken the place of what existed in the beginning.[86]

§71 At the end of letter 244, since Patrophilus remains shocked and unhappy that Basil had broken with Eustathius after their being colleagues for so long, surely, Basil notes, it is the case that neither has Eustathius been silent about Basil to him, nor has Patrophilus refrained from παρρησία with Eustathius (ep. 244.9.32-35). And, in the end, if indeed Eustathius has turned himself entirely over to Patrophilus that is, says Basil, “sad”: for this emotion, and not giving in to the temptation of altering one’s course, is the only possible reaction when someone separates from a brother (ep. 244.9.36-38). This resoluteness, however, would be ironic, in that those Basil is separating from are the very people who trained Basil to remain steadfast in his resolve, which he continues to maintain. Though there remain further letters concerning the Eustathian affair, this letter indicates, with its pained acceptance of the conclusion of the relationship, the end of Basil’s use of the cycle of silence and rumor. He would, after 226, remove himself from this particular ἀγών. Satisfactory reconciliation with Eustathius had become an impossibility.

§72 In his last letters concerning the Eustathian affair, written in the years 376-377, Basil relates Eustathius’ movements (ep. 237.2.24-35) in the ecclesiastical milieu as yet another example of heresy. In our reading, the disappearance of the cycle of silence and rumor in these letters is a mark of Basil’s exhaustion; this and his physical deterioration prevented him from continuing his battle against his former colleague. Basil’s death in 379 would bring an end to the harassment and the resulting anxiety of the ongoing conflict.

§73 In the proemium of letter 266, dating from 376, Basil admits without excuse to the bishop of Alexandria, Peter, that he deserves to be rebuked for being silent about the rumors regarding different ecclesiastical issues. This is quite unlike his reply to the same charge three years earlier in ep. 130, in which, we have argued, he justified his silence through forensic vocabulary. In ep. 266 the tone is different in that it expresses his pessimism toward the state of this relationship. His forensic apology gives way to resignation and bitterness, even as he is at the same time unable to stop reminding his various addressees of Eustathius’ continuous fickleness (ep. 251.3.11-18, 263.3).

§74 In this paper, we have proposed that silence and rumor are integral to the construction of the Apologia Basilii. They create a cycle of retreat and retribution in which Basil reconciled the theological controversies that surrounded him by likening his letters to a forensic case—in this specific instance, his break with Eustathius. This cycle also allowed him to carefully shape his persona as he appeared to his colleagues and the outside world, as well as dramatically affect the reputation of those surrounding him.

Bibliography[88]

Barrios, G. 1986. The Fathers Speak. Crestwood.

Cage, J. 1961. Silence. Middletown.

Caplan, H., ed. 1981. Cicero. Ad C. Herennium. London and Cambridge, MA.

Chadwick, H. 1950. “The Silence of Bishops in Ignatius.” Harvard Theological Review 43:169–172.

Deferrari, R.D., ed. 1926-1939. Basil. The Letters. London and New York.

Elm, S. 2012. Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church: Emperor Julian, Gregory of Nazianzus, and the Vision of Rome. Berkeley.

Fortenbaugh, W. and Mirhady, D., eds. 1994. Peripatetic Rhetoric after Aristotle. New Brunswick.

Freese, J. H., ed. 1926. Aristotle. The Art of Rhetoric. London and Cambridge, MA.

Fyfe, W.H., ed. 1965. Longinus. On the Sublime. Revised by D. Russell. 1999. London and Cambridge, MA.

Helmbold, W.C., ed. 1962. Plutarchs Moralia: vol. 6. London and Cambridge, MA.

Kennedy, G., 1972. The Art of Rhetoric in the Roman World 300 B.C.-A.D. 300. Princeton.

Kennedy, G, 1999. Classical Rhetoric and its Christian and secular tradition from ancient to modern times. Chapel Hill.

Lloyd-Jones, H., ed. 1994-96. Sophocles. London and Cambridge, MA.

Losseff, N. and Doctor, J., eds. 2007. Silence, Music, Silent Music. Aldershot.

Maier, H. 2004. “The Politics of the Silence Bishop: Silence and Persuasion in Ignatius of Antioch.” Journal of Theological Studies 55.2: 503-519.

Marguerat, D. 2002. The First Christian Historian: Writing the Acts of the Apostles. Translated by McKinney, K.; Laughery, G.J., and Bauckham, R. Cambridge and New York.

Mazzeo, J. 1962. “St. Augustine’s Rhetoric of Silence.” Journal of the History of Ideas 23.2:175-196.

Mirhady, D.C., ed. 2011. Aristotle. Rhetoric to Alexander. London and Cambridge, MA.

Montiglio, S. 2000. Silence in the Land of Logos. Princeton.

Mortley, R. 1973. “The theme of silence in Clement of Alexandria.” Journal of Theological Studies XXIV (1):197-202.

Mortley, R. 1986. From Word to Silence. 2 Vols. Bonn.

Neubauer, H.J. 1999. The Rumour: A cultural history. Traslated by C. Braun. London and New York.

Norris, F.W. 1998. “The Theologian and Technical Rhetoric: Gregory of Nazianzus and Hermogenes of Tarsus.” Nova et Vetera: Patristic Studies in Honor of Thomas Patrick Halton (ed. J. Petruccione) 84-95. Washington D.C.

Petterson, A. 1990. “Ignatius of Antioch on Reverencing Silence Bishops.” Vigiliae Christianae 44:335-350.

Quiroga Puertas, A.J. 2010. “Quid est gloria, si tacetur? Silence in Ambrose’s De Officiis.” Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History XV (ed. C. Deroux) 463-472. Brussels.

Rousseau, P. 1994. Basil of Caesarea. Berkeley.

Russell, D. ed. 2001. Quintilian. The Orators Education. London and Cambridge, MA.

Russell, P. 2000. “Ephraem the Syrian on the Utility of Language and the Place of Silence.” Journal of Early Christian Studies 8.1:21-37.

Sutton, E.W. and Rackham, H., eds. 1942. Cicero. De oratore. Books I and II. London and Cambridge, MA.

Van Dam, R. 2003. Becoming Christian: the conversion of Roman Cappadocia. Philadelphia.


[1] Basil himself further elaborates the Creed from 325 in several interesting and important ways, not least of which by differentiating ὑπόστασις from οὐσία when describing the Trinity; cf. especially letter 38.

[2] Our Eustathian corpus comprises the following letters: epp. 68, 92, 95, 98, 99, 119, 120, 121, 123, 125, 128, 130, 138, 203, 205, 210, 223, 226, 237, 244.

[3] Compare, for instance, Aristotle’s treatment of enthymemes (Rh. 1356a35-1357a33).

[4] Rh. 1375a22-24: “we have now briefly to run over what are called the inartificial proofs (περὶ δὲ τῶν ἀτέχνων), for these properly belong to forensic oratory.” Translation taken from Freese (1926).

[5] Translation taken from Mirhady (2011).

[6] Translation taken from Freese (1926).

[7] Translation taken from Sutton and Rackman (1942).

[8] Translation taken from Russell (2001).

[9] Translation taken from Caplan (1981).

[10] E.g., “reciprocal change” (commutatio, 4.28.39): “Again: ‘A poem ought to be a painting that speaks; a painting ought to be a silent poem.’ Again: ‘If you are a fool, for that reason you should be silent; and yet, although you should be silent, you are not for that reason a fool.”

[11] Plut., De Garr. 510d-e: Δευτέρῳ δὲ χρηστέον ἐπιλογισμῷ τῷ τῶν ἐναντίων, ἀκούοντας ἀεὶ καὶ μεμνημένους καὶ πρόχειρ’ ἔχοντας τὰ τῆς ἐχεμυθίας ἐγκώμια καὶ τὸ σεμνὸν καὶ τὸ ἅγιον καὶ τὸ μυστηριῶδες τῆς σιωπῆς, καὶ ὅτι θαυμάζονται μᾶλλον καὶ ἀγαπῶνται καὶ σοφώτεροι δοκοῦσι τῶν ἐξηνίων τούτων καὶ ἐκφερομένων οἱ στρογγύλοι καὶ βραχυλόγοι, καὶ ὧν πολὺς νοῦς ἐν ὀλίγῃ λέξει συνέσταλται. [Translations from Plutarch taken from Helmbold [1962].]

[12] Plut., De Garr. 504a-b: οὕτω τι βαθὺ καὶ μυστηριῶδες ἡ σιγὴ καὶ νηφάλιον, ἡ δὲ μέθη λάλον· ἄνουν γὰρ καὶ ὀλιγόφρον, διὰ τοῦτο καὶ πολύφωνον. Cf., as well, (505e-f): “And the Athenians caused a bronze lioness without a tongue to be made and set up in the gates of the Acropolis, representing, by the spirited courage of the animal, Leaena’s invincible character, and, by its tonguelessness, her power of silence in keeping a holy secret (τῷ δ’ ἀγλώσσῳ τὸ σιωπηρὸν καὶ μυστηριῶδες ἐμφαίνοντες).”

[13] Cf., e.g., Chadwick (1950) and Petterson (1990) on silence in Ignatius; Mazzeo (1962) for Augustine.

[14] Ps.-Long., De Subl. 9.2-3: γέγραφά που καὶ ἑτέρωθι τὸ τοιοῦτον· ὕψος μεγαλοφροσύνης ἀπήχημα. ὅθεν καὶ φωνῆς δίχα θαυμάζεταί ποτε ψιλὴ καθ’ ἑαυτὴν ἡ ἔννοια δι’ αὐτὸ τὸ μεγαλόφρον, ὡς ἡ τοῦ Αἴαντος ἐν Νεκυίᾳ σιωπὴ μέγα καὶ παντὸς ὑψηλότερον λόγου. (Translation taken from Fyfe [1965].)

[15] Ajax 3-7: καὶ νῦν ἐπὶ σκηναῖς σε ναυτικαῖς ὁρῶ / Αἴαντος, ἔνθα τάξιν ἐσχάτην ἔχει, / πάλαι κυνηγετοῦντα καὶ μετρούμενον / ἴχνη τὰ κείνου νεοχάραχθ᾽, ὅπως ἴδῃς / εἴτ᾽ ἔνδον εἴτ᾽ οὐκ ἔνδον. Translation taken from Lloyd-Jones [1994-96].)

[16] We might also point out choral references to exampled of ill-fated silence in a number of stage exits in Sophoclean tragedies, always, it seems, by women: O.T. 1073-75; Trach. 813-4; Antig. 1244; cf. also Frag. 842: αἰδὼς γὰρ ἐν κακοῖσιν ο<*>δὲν ὠφελεῖ: / ἡ γὰρ σιωπὴ τῷ λαλοῦντι σύμμαχος.

[17] Basil did not necessary invent the coenobium but he was at least essential in the formulation and development of eastern monasticism as we know it. Deferrari may go too far in attributing the creation of a collective monastic community to Basil; cf. Deferrari (1926-1939: vol. I, xxii).

[18] Ep. 51.1.1-4: Πῶς μου οἴει τὴν ψυχὴν ὠδύνησεν ἡ ἀκοὴ τῆς συκοφαντίας ἐκείνης, ἣν κατέχεάν μού τινες τῶν μὴ φοβουμένων τὸν Κριτήν, ὃς ἀπολεῖ πάντας τοὺς λαλοῦντας τὸ ψεῦδος; (cf. Ps. 5.6). Cf. LSJ s.v. συκοφαντία: in legal contexts: “vexatious or dishonest prosecution, chicane, barratry, blackmail,” (sic Lysias); in Aristotle: “quibble, sophism” Rh. 1402a15, cf. EE 1221b7.

[Basil’s translations are taken from Deferrari [1926-1939] with slight changes.]

[19] Humbles: cf. LSJ s.v. ταπεινοῖ: in moral sense, make lowly, humble, “ἑαυτόν” Phld. Vit. p.38 J., Ev. Matt. 23.12, al.:—Pass., humble oneself, “τὴν θεὸν ἐξιλάσαντο τῷ ταπεινοῦσθαι σφόδρα” Menander fr. 544, cf. LXX Gen. 16.9, Sirach 18.21, 1 Ep. Peter 5.6.

[20] References to “unadorned” (ἀργός) speech feature prominently in Basil’s letters; cf., e.g., epp. 22.1; 51.1; 52.1; 156.2.

[21] Ep. 51.2.21-22: εἰς τὸ φανερὸν ἀντικαταστὰς διελεγχέτω μετὰ παρρησίας.

[22] Ep. 99.3.22-26: Εἰ δὲ ἄρα καὶ ἀληθῆ εἶναι συμβῇ τὰ θρυλούμενα παρ’ ὑμῶν, προτεῖναι αὐτῷ γραμματεῖον πᾶσαν ἔχον τῆς ὀρθῆς πίστεως τὴν ἀπόδειξιν χρή. Ἐὰν μὲν οὖν εὕρω αὐτὸν συντιθέμενον ἐγγράφως, ἐπιμενῶ τῇ κοινωνίᾳ· ἐὰν δὲ λάβω ἀναδυόμενον, ἀποστήσομαι αὐτοῦ τῆς συναφείας.

[23] Ep. 99.2.33-34: αὐτοὶ πληροφορηθῶσι, μηδεμίαν ἔχοντες ἀντιλογίας ὑπόθεσιν ἐκ τοῦ τὰς παρ’ αὐτῶν προτάσεις παραδεχθῆναι.

[24] Ep. 99.4.19-28: Ἐπιμελὲς δέ μοι ἐγένετο καὶ τὴν περιχεθεῖσαν βλασφημίαν τῷ ἀδελφῷ ἡμῶν Κυρίλλῳ, τῷ ἐπισκόπῳ Ἀρμενίας, ἀνερευνῆσαι, καὶ διὰ τῆς χάριτος τοῦ Θεοῦ εὕρομεν αὐτὴν ψευδῶς κινηθεῖσαν ἐκ διαβολῆς τῶν μισούντων αὐτόν· ἣν καὶ φανερῶς ὡμολόγησαν ἐφ’ ἡμῶν. Καὶ ἐδόξαμεν μετρίως ἡμεροῦν πρὸς αὐτὸν τὸν ἐν Σατάλοις λαόν, ὥστε μηκέτι αὐτοῦ τὴν κοινωνίαν φεύγειν. Εἰ δὲ μικρὰ ταῦτα καὶ οὐδενὸς ἄξια, ἀλλὰ παρ’ ἡμῶν οὐδὲν ἦν πλέον δυνατὸν γενέσθαι διὰ τὴν ἐκ τῆς τοῦ διαβόλου περιεργίας ἡμῶν αὐτῶν πρὸς ἀλλήλους ἀσυμφωνίαν.

[25] As, for example, in letter 51, discussed above, where Basil himself “must be proof against all things” (Ἀλλὰ γὰρ ἀνάγκη πάντα στέγειν, ep. 51.1.10).

[26] Ep. 99.4.28-32: Ταῦτα ἔδει μὲν σιωπᾶν, ἵνα μὴ δόξω δημοσιεύειν ἐμαυτοῦ τὰ ὀνείδη, ἀλλ’, ἐπειδὴ οὐκ ἦν ἄλλως ἀπολογήσασθαί σου τῇ μεγαλοφυΐᾳ, εἰς ἀνάγκην ἦλθον πᾶσαν τῶν γεγονότων τὴν ἀλήθειαν διηγήσασθαι.

[27] For the importance of the bearers of letters, see §27 above.

[28] The protection of his own reputation is frequently featured in Basil’s letters as the positive side of rumor: epp. 5, 24, 25, 45, 52, 59, 70, 99, 120, 129, 130, 132, 139, 141, 214, 240, 242, 262, 266, 269, 276, 298.

[29] Ep. 119.1.22-24: ἐξεταζέσθωσαν εἰ ἐνεκάλεσαν ἡμῖν ἢ τὴν διόρθωσιν τοῦ ἁμαρτήματος οὗ νῦν ἡμῖν ἐπάγουσιν ἐπεζήτησαν ἢ ὅλως φανερὰν ἑαυτῶν τὴν πρὸς ἡμᾶς λύπην κατέστησαν.

[30] Ep. 119.1.21-23: Ὅπερ δ’ ἂν κατηγορήσωσιν ἡμῶν, ἐκεῖνο παρὰ τῆς σῆς ἀγχινοίας ἐξεταζέσθωσαν εἰ ἐνεκάλεσαν ἡμῖν ἢ τὴν διόρθωσιν τοῦ ἁμαρτήματος οὗ νῦν ἡμῖν ἐπάγουσιν ἐπεζήτησαν ἢ ὅλως φανερὰν ἑαυτῶν τὴν πρὸς ἡμᾶς λύπην κατέστησαν.

[31] Εp. 119.25-27: ἐν φαιδρῷ τῷ προσώπῳ καὶ τετιμημένοις ἀγάπης ῥήμασιν ἀμύθητόν τινα δόλου καὶ πικρίας βυθὸν τῆς ψυχῆς συγκαλύπτοντες διὰ τῆς ἀνελευθέρου σιωπῆς ἐφανέρωσαν.

[32] Ep. 119.27: Ἐφ’ ᾧ ὅσον μὲν προξενοῦμεν τὸν γέλωτα τοῖς ἀεὶ τὸν εὐλαβῆ βίον ἐν τῇ ἀθλίᾳ ταύτῃ πόλει βδελυσσομένοις καὶ τέχνην πρὸς τὸ πιστευθῆναι καὶ σχηματισμὸν εἰς ἀπάτην τὸ πλάσμα τῆς ταπεινοφροσύνης διαβεβαιουμένοις ἐπιτηδεύεσθαι, πάντως, κἂν ἡμεῖς μὴ διηγησώμεθα, γνώριμον τῇ συνέσει σου. [Courtonne [1957-1966].]

[33] Εp. 164.1.13-20: νομίσαι ἡμᾶς ἐπὶ τῶν ἀρχαίων καιρῶν γεγενῆσθαι, ἡνίκα ἤνθουν αἱ Ἐκκλησίαι τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐρριζωμέναι τῇ πίστει, ἡνωμέναι τῇ ἀγάπῃ ὥσπερ ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι μιᾶς συμπνοίας διαφόρων μελῶν ὑπαρχούσης· ὅτε φανεροὶ μὲν οἱ διώκοντες, πολεμούμενοι δὲ οἱ λαοὶ πλείους ἐγίνοντο καὶ τὸ αἷμα τῶν μαρτύρων ἄρδον τὰς Ἐκκλησίας πολυπλασίονας τοὺς ἀγωνιστὰς τῆς εὐσεβείας ἐξέτρεφε, τῷ ζήλῳ τῶν προλαβόντων ἐπαποδυομένων τῶν ἐφεξῆς.

[34] Ep. 130.1.4-5: οὐδέν σοι οὔτε μικρὸν οὔτε μεῖζον τῶν κατ’ αὐτὸν ἐδηλώσαμεν.

[35] Ep. 130.1.8-17: διαβοηθείσης τῆς φήμης καὶ οὐδενὸς τῆς παρ’ ἡμῶν διδασκαλίας εἰς τὸ τὴν προαίρεσιν τοῦ ἀνδρὸς διδαχθῆναι προσδεομένου. Τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπενόησεν, ὥσπερ φοβούμενος μὴ ὀλίγους σχῇ τῆς ἑαυτοῦ γνώμης μάρτυρας εἰς πᾶσαν ἐσχατιὰν τὰς ἐπιστολὰς ἃς καθ’ ἡμῶν συνέγραψε διαπεμψάμενος. Τῆς μὲν οὖν κοινωνίας ἡμῶν αὐτὸς ἀπέρρηξεν ἑαυτὸν μήτε κατὰ τὸν ὡρισμένον τόπον συνδραμεῖν ἡμῖν ἀνασχόμενος μήτε τοὺς μαθητὰς ἑαυτοῦ παραγαγών, ὅπερ ὑπέσχετο, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἡμᾶς στηλιτεύων ἐν πανδήμοις συνόδοις.

[36] In addition, Eustathius had failed to meet Basil “at the appointed place” (κατὰ τὸν ὡρισμένον τόπον, ep. 130.1.15), emphasizing more inadequacy and lack of proper procedure.

[37] Ep. 130.2.3-7: ὑπὲρ ὧν οὐδὲν ἀπεκρινάμεθα τέως, διὰ τὸ διδαχθῆναι παρὰ τοῦ Ἀποστόλου μὴ ἑαυτοὺς ἐκδικεῖν, ἀλλὰ διδόναι τόπον τῇ ὀργῇ, καὶ ἅμα ἐννοήσαντες τὸ βάθος τῆς ὑποκρίσεως μεθ’ ἧς πάντα τὸν χρόνον ἡμῖν προσηνέχθη ἀφασίᾳ τινὶ ὑπ’ ἐκπλήξεως κατεσχέθημεν.

[38] Ep. 130.10-13: Ὅς γε, ὡς ἀκούω (εἴγε ἀληθὴς ὁ λόγος καὶ μὴ πλάσμα ἐστὶν ἐπὶ διαβολῇ συντεθέν), ὅτι καὶ ἀναχειροτονῆσαί τινας ἐτόλμησεν, ὃ μέχρι σήμερον οὐδεὶς τῶν αἱρετικῶν ποιήσας φαίνεται. As the Benedictine editors point out, there was precedent for this activity as recorded in the Book of the Prayers of Faustus and Marcellinus (Bib. Patr. V.655) against the Arians, and Constantius’ letter (Apol. ad Const. 31) to the Ethiopians against Frumentius.

[39] We might note that it is not generally clear what the actual audience is for a particular letter, regardless of the addressee: letters might be addressed to “the Westerners,” for example, or alternatively to a single monk or nun. Letters to his brother seem sometimes to be meant for public consumption, perhaps, given the tone and care taken with the argumentation.

[40] Ep. 203.1.25-27: ὥσπερ οἱ ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ προβεβλημένοι σκόπελοι, ἡμεῖς τὸν θυμὸν τῶν αἱρετικῶν κυμάτων ὑποδεχόμεθα.

[41] Ep. 203.2.14-15: Ἐὰν δὲ πρὸ τῶν ἐλέγχων καταδικάζητε ἡμᾶς.

[42] Ep. 203.2.-26-28: Μήτε οὖν ὁ λοιδορῶν ἡμᾶς «διάβολος» ἔστω, ἀλλὰ κατήγορος· μᾶλλον δὲ μηδὲ τὸ τοῦ κατηγόρου δεχέσθω ὄνομα, ἀλλ’ ἀδελφὸς ἔστω ἐν ἀγάπῃ νουθετῶν.

[43] Εp. 2051.8-9: ἀντ’ ἐπιστολῆς ἐμψύχου γενέσθαι τῷ τε γράφοντι καὶ τῷ δεχομένῳ.

[44] Ep. 205.7-8: τῶν δυναμένων ὅσα διαφεύγει τὸ γράμμα παρ’ ἑαυτῶν ῥᾳδίως ἀναπληρῶσαι.

[45] Ep. 210.1.5-8: Ἀλλ’ οἶμαι, οὐχ ἃ βουλόμεθα ποιοῦμεν, ἀλλ’ ἐφ’ ἃ προκαλοῦνται ἡμᾶς οἱ καθηγούμενοι, ἐπεὶ ἔμοιγε τὸ παντελῶς ἀγνοεῖσθαι πλέον ἐσπούδασται ἢ τοῖς φιλοδόξοις τὸ διαφαίνεσθαι.

[46] Ep. 210.1.13-15: Ἐγὼ καὶ διὰ τὴν ἐκ παιδός μοι πρὸς τὸ χωρίον τοῦτο συνήθειαν (ἐνταῦθα γὰρ ἐτράφην παρὰ τῇ ἐμαυτοῦ τήθῃ), καὶ διὰ τὴν μετὰ ταῦτα ἐπὶ πλεῖστον διατριβήν, ὅτε φεύγων τοὺς πολιτικοὺς θορύβους, ἐπιτήδειον ἐμφιλοσοφῆσαι διὰ τὴν ἐκ τῆς ἐρημίας ἡσυχίαν τὸ χωρίον τοῦτο καταμαθών, πολλῶν ἐτῶν ἐφεξῆς ἐνδιέτριψα χρόνον…

[47] Ep. 210.1.15-24: …καὶ διὰ τὴν νῦν τῶν ἀδελφῶν ἐνοίκησιν, βραχείας ἀναπνοῆς ἐκ τῶν κατεχουσῶν ἡμᾶς ἀσχολιῶν ἐπιτυχών, ἄσμενος ἦλθον ἐπὶ τὴν ἐσχατιὰν ταύτην, οὐχ ὡς ἑτέροις ἐντεῦθεν παρέξων πράγματα, ἀλλ’ ὡς αὐτὸς τὴν ἐμαυτοῦ θεραπεύσων ἐπιθυμίαν.

[48] Cf. especially ep. 2 to Gregory of Nazianzus.

[49] Ep. 210.3.23-27: Λέγουσι γάρ, ὡς οἱ ἀκηκοότες φασί, διατείνεσθαι τοὺς παρ’ ὑμῖν σοφοὺς καὶ λέγειν ὅτι ὄνομα τοῦ Μονογενοῦς οὐ παραδέδοται, ὄνομα δὲ τοῦ ἀντικειμένου ἐστί, καὶ ἐπὶ τούτῳ γάνυσθαι μὲν καὶ μέγα φρονεῖν ὡς ἐπὶ οἰκείῳ εὑρήματι.

[50] Ep. 210.5.44-46: Οὕς, ἐὰν μὴ παύσωνται λαλοῦντες κατὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀδικίαν, ὀδύρεσθαι χρὴ μετὰ τῶν ἀρνησιχρίστων.

[51] The current controversies of the time are nicely formulated by Basil in letter 226 (5.26-28): “…one who does not acknowledge the community of essence falls into polytheism, so he who does not grant the individuality of the persons is carried off into Judaism.”

[52] Cf. Rom. 12.19, a directive Basil first provides unattributed in his unaddressed ep. 22.1.20, which concerns the perfection of the monastic life.

[53] The quote from Ecc. 2.7 is: καιρὸς τοῦ ρῆξαι καὶ καιρὸς τοῦ ράψαι, καιρὸς τοῦ σιγᾶν καὶ καιρὸς τοῦ λαλεῖν. Ecc. ch. 2 contains 31 references to καιρός.

[54] Ep. 231.4-10: ἐπεὶ καὶ ὁ μέγας Ἰὼβ πολὺν χρόνον τὰς συμφορὰς ἤνεγκε σιωπῇ, αὐτῷ τούτῳ τὴν ἀνδρείαν ἐπιδεικνύμενος τῷ ἐγκαρτερεῖν τοῖς δυσφορωτάτοις πάθεσιν. Ὅτε δὲ ἱκανῶς ἐν τῇ σιωπῇ διῆλθε καὶ διέμεινεν ἐν τῷ βάθει τῆς καρδίας ἀποστέγων τὴν ἀλγηδόνα, τότε ἀνοίξας τὸ στόμα ἐφθέγξατο ἐκεῖνα ἃ πάντες ἴσασι. Basil’s allusion is to the beginning of the book of Job. He initially uses the example of Job in letters 2 and 5.

[55] Ep. 223.1.10-13. The whole of Ps. 37.12-21 reads: “While they pressed hard upon me that sought my soul: and they that sought my hurt spoke vanities, and devised deceits all the day. But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and was as a dumb man not opening his mouth. (καὶ ἐξεβιάζοντο οἱ ζητοῦντες τὴν ψυχήν μου, καὶ οἱ ζητοῦντες τὰ κακά μοι ἐλάλησαν ματαιότητας, καὶ δολιότητας ὅλην τὴν ἡμέραν ἐμελέτησαν.) And I was as a man that hears not, and who has no reproofs in his mouth. (ἐγὼ δὲ ὡσεὶ κωφὸς οὐκ ἤκουον καὶ ὡσεὶ ἄλαλος οὐκ ἀνοίγων τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ·) For I hoped in thee, O Lord: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God. For I said, Lest mine enemies rejoice against me: for when my feet were moved, they spoke boastingly against me. For I am ready for plagues, and my grief is continually before me. For I will declare mine iniquity, and be distressed for my sin. But mine enemies live, and are mightier than I: and they that hate me unjustly are multiplied. They that reward evil for good slandered me; because I followed righteousness. Forsake me not, O Lord my God: depart not from me.” (Basil’s quotation is indicated in italics.)

[56] Ecclesiastes 7.7: ἡ συκοφαντία περιφέρει σοφὸν καὶ ἀπόλλυσι τὴν καρδίαν εὐτονίας αὐτοῦ. Note again the connection between silence and συκοφαντία.

[57] Ep. 223.1.26-7: ἀλλ’ ὅμως ᾤμην χρῆναι σιωπῇ φέρειν τὰ λυπηρὰ ἐκδεχόμενός τινα δι’ αὐτῶν τῶν ἔργων ἐπανόρθωσιν.

[58] Cf. letter 207 for the idea that silence is better in the face of slander (so it would not fester or involve the innocent). Cf. letter 6 for the idea that silence is to be held when words could further disrupt a situation. Cf. letter 29, 46, 130 for the idea that the shock (of rumor, or loss) creates silence, even speechlessness (ἀφάσία).

[59] Ep. 223.1.36-41: Ἀλλ’ εἰσῆλθέ με τὸ τοῦ Ἡσαΐου λέγοντος· «Ἐσιώπησα, μὴ καὶ ἀεὶ σιωπήσομαι καὶ ἀνέξομαι; Ἐκαρτέρησα ὡς ἡ τίκτουσα». Γένοιτο δὲ καὶ ἡμᾶς καὶ τὸν ἐπὶ τῇ σιωπῇ μισθὸν δέξασθαι καὶ λαβεῖν τινα ἐν τοῖς ἐλεγμοῖς δύναμιν, ὥστε ἐλέγξαντας ἡμᾶς ξηρᾶναι τὸν πικρὸν τοῦτον τῆς καθ’ ἡμῶν ῥυείσης ψευδηγορίας χείμαρρον.

[60] In Basil’s narrative about his school days in Athens, he points out that his “association with the wicked” during these years necessitated his need of “amending his character” (διόρθωσίν τινα τοῦ ἤθους ποιήσασθαι). His phrase πολὺν χρόνον ἐκ τῆς πρὸς τοὺς φαύλους ὁμιλίας διαστραφέντος reflects 1 Cor. 15.33 (“Evil associations corrupt good manners.” [φθείρουσιν ἤθη χρηστὰ ὁμιλίαι κακαί.]).

[61] Plato (Leg. 2.658c) uses αὐτήκοος to describe the judge of a competition who has not yet heard all the competitors.

[62] Ep. 223.3.45-49: εἴ ποτε ἄλλο τι ἤκουσαν παρ’ ἡμῶν παρ’ ὃ νῦν λέγομεν, οἱ νῦν ἡμᾶς διαθρυλήσαντες ἐπὶ κακοδοξίᾳ, καὶ ταῖς στηλιτευτικαῖς ἐπιστολαῖς ἃς συνέγραψαν καθ’ ἡμῶν πᾶσαν περικτυπήσαντες ἀκοήν.

[63] Basil felt forced to write his defense speech, cf. ep. 223.3.49-50: Ὅθεν καὶ ἡμεῖς πρὸς τὴν ἀνάγκην ἤλθομεν τῆς ἀπολογίας ταύτης.

[64] Ep. 223.4.8-10: Ὢ τοῦ καινοῦ δράματος. Ὁ δεῖνα, φησίν, ἐπὶ τῆς Συρίας ἔγραψέ τινα ὡς οὐκ εὐσεβῶς· σὺ δὲ ἐπέστειλας αὐτῷ πρὸ εἴκοσιν ἐτῶν καὶ πλειόνων.

[65] Ep. 223.7.1-7: Ἀλλ’ οὐ γὰρ ἡ ἐπιστολὴ τοῦ χωρισμοῦ αἰτία, ἑτέρα δέ ἐστι τῆς διαστάσεως ἡ ὑπόθεσις ἣν ἐγὼ λέγειν αἰσχύνομαι, καὶ ἐσίγησα δὲ πάντα τὸν χρόνον, εἰ μὴ τὰ νῦν πεπραγμένα ἀναγκαίαν μοι καθίστη διὰ τὸ τῶν πολλῶν λυσιτελὲς τῆς ὅλης αὐτῶν προαιρέσεως τὴν φανέρωσιν. Cf. letters 7, 28, and 207 for the idea that there is inherent danger (κίνδῦνος) with silence, in the form of an opportunity for betrayal.

[66] Ep. 223.7.6: Νομιζέτωσαν οἱ χρηστοὶ ἐμπόδιον αὐτοῖς εἶναι πρὸς τὴν τῆς δυναστείας ἀνάληψιν τὴν πρὸς ἡμᾶς κοινωνίαν.

[67] Ep. 223.7.17-24: πρὶν ἡμῖν ἀποστεῖλαι τὰ γράμματα περιέπεμπον πανταχοῦ. Ἑπτὰ γὰρ πρότερον ἡμέραις τοῦ εἰς τὰς ἐμὰς ἀφικέσθαι χεῖρας ἐφάνη ἡ ἐπιστολή, οἳ ἐξ ἑτέρων διαδεξάμενοι ἑτέροις ἔμελλον παραπέμπειν. Οὕτω γὰρ ἐπενόησαν ἕνα ἑνὶ παραδιδόναι, ἵνα ταχεῖα αὐτῆς κατὰ πᾶσαν τὴν χώραν γένηται ἡ διάδοσις. Καὶ ταῦτ’ ἐλέγετο μὲν ἔτι τότε παρὰ τῶν σαφέστατα ἡμῖν τὰ ἐκείνων ἐξαγγελλόντων.

[68] Ep. 203.1.24-28: Οὐ γὰρ ἀγνοεῖτε ὅτι δημοσίᾳ προκείμενοι πᾶσιν, ὥσπερ οἱ ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ προβεβλημένοι σκόπελοι, ἡμεῖς τὸν θυμὸν τῶν αἱρετικῶν κυμάτων ὑποδεχόμεθα, καὶ περὶ ἡμᾶς ῥηγνύμενοι τὰ κατόπιν ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐπικλύζουσι.

[69] Ep. 223.7.23-26: Καὶ ταῦτ’ ἐλέγετο μὲν ἔτι τότε παρὰ τῶν σαφέστατα ἡμῖν τὰ ἐκείνων ἐξαγγελλόντων. Ἐκρίναμεν δὲ σιωπᾶν, ἕως ἂν ὁ ἀποκαλύπτων τὰ βαθέα σαφεστάτοις καὶ ἀναντιρρήτοις ἐλέγχοις δημοσιεύσῃ τὰ κατ’ αὐτούς.

[70] Cf. LSJ s.v. δημοσιεύω: I. to confiscate, like δημεύω, Xen.: Pass., τὰ δεδημοσιευμένα popular sayings, Arist. II.intr. to be in the public service, of physicians, Ar., Plat.: generally, to be a public man, opp. to ἰδιωτεύω, id=Plat.

[71] Ep. 226.1.25-29: Ὅθεν κἀγὼ ἀκούσας ὅτι πάλαι κατ’ ἐμοῦ περιφέρονται ἐπιστολαὶ στίζουσαι ἡμᾶς καὶ στηλιτεύουσαι καὶ κατηγοροῦσαι ἐπὶ πράγμασιν ὧν τὴν ἀπολογίαν ἑτοίμην ἔχομεν ἐπὶ τοῦ δικαστηρίου τῆς ἀληθείας, ὥρμησα μὲν σιωπῆσαι, ὃ καὶ ἐποίησα.

[72] Ep. 226.1.23-24: Καὶ οἱ μὲν κατηγορούμενοι καταδικάζονται ἀκρίτως, οἱ δὲ κατηγοροῦντες πιστεύονται ἀνεξετάστως.

[73] Cf. especially ep. 68 for silence as a confirmation of guilt.

[74] Cf. John 7.51. Ep. 226.1.32-40: Ἐπειδὴ δὲ ὁρῶ ὅτι πολλοὶ ἤδη τὴν σιωπὴν ἡμῶν εἰς βεβαίωσιν τῶν διαβολῶν παρεδέξαντο καὶ οὐ διὰ μακροθυμίαν ἐνόμισαν ἡμᾶς σιωπᾶν, ἀλλὰ διὰ τὸ μὴ ἔχειν διᾶραι στόμα πρὸς τὴν ἀλήθειαν, τούτου ἕνεκεν ἐπειράθην ἐπιστεῖλαι ὑμῖν, παρακαλῶν τὴν ἐν Χριστῷ ἀγάπην ὑμῶν ὥστε τὰς ἐξ ἑνὸς μέρους γινομένας διαβολὰς μὴ πάντη παραδέχεσθαι ὡς ἀληθεῖς, διότι, καθὼς γέγραπται, οὐδένα κρίνει ὁ νόμος, ἐὰν μὴ πρῶτον ἀκούσῃ καὶ γνῷ τί ποιεῖ.

[75] Ep. 226.2.1-2: Καίτοι εὐγνώμονι κριτῇ ἀρκεῖ αὐτὰ τὰ πράγματα πρὸς τὴν τῆς ἀληθείας φανέρωσιν.

[76] Ep. 226.2.2-3: Ὥστε κἂν ἡμεῖς σιωπῶμεν, ἔξεστιν ὑμῖν διαβλέψαι πρὸς τὰ γινόμενα.

[77] Ep. 226.4.31-33: ἐὰν δὲ ἀτονούντων ἡμῶν πρὸς τὴν ἀπολογίαν αἴσθησθε, τότε πιστεύσατε τοῖς κατηγόροις ἡμῶν ὡς ἀληθεύουσιν.

[78] Ep. 244.1.7-14: Ἀποροῦντι γὰρ ἐῴκεις καὶ ἐκθαμβουμένῳ· εἰ Βασίλειος ἐκεῖνος, ὁ τοιῶσδε δουλεύσας ἐκ παιδὸς τῷ δεῖνι, ὁ τάδε ποιήσας ἐπὶ τῶν καιρῶν τῶνδε καὶ τάδε, ὁ τὸν πρὸς μυρίους πόλεμον τῆς πρὸς τὸν ἕνα θεραπείας ἕνεκεν καταδεξάμενος, οὗτος νῦν ἕτερος γέγονεν ἐξ ἑτέρου καὶ πόλεμον ἀντὶ τῆς ἀγάπης ἀνῄρηται, καὶ ὅσα ἄλλα ἐπέστειλας ἱκανῶς τῆς ψυχῆς τὴν ἔκπληξιν ἐν τῇ παραλόγῳ τῶν πραγμάτων μεταβολῇ ἐνδεικνύμενος.

[79] Ep. 244.1.17-21: Τοσοῦτον γὰρ ἀπέχω τοῖς ἐπεσταλμένοις ἄχθεσθαι ὥστε μικροῦ καὶ ἐγέλασα ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς· εἰ τοσούτων ὄντων καὶ τηλικούτων ἃ ἡμῖν ἐδόκει τὴν πρὸς ἀλλήλους φιλίαν πρότερον βεβαιοῦν, αὐτὸς ἐπὶ μικροῖς τοῖς μέχρι σοῦ φθάσασι τηλικαύτην ἔγραφες τὴν ἔκπληξιν πεπονθέναι.

[80] Ep. 244.1.24-25: Ἄρ’ οὖν καὶ σὺ τὸ τῶν πολλῶν πέπονθας, οἳ καταλιπόντες τῶν πραγμάτων τὴν φύσιν ἐξετάζειν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις προσέχουσι περὶ ὧν οἱ λόγοι καὶ γίνονται οὐ τῆς ἀληθείας ἐξετασταί, ἀλλὰ τῆς διαφορᾶς τῶν προσώπων δοκιμασταί, ἐπιλαθόμενοι τῆς παραινέσεως ὅτι Ἐπιγινώσκειν πρόσωπον ἐν κρίσει οὐ καλόν.

[81] Ep. 244.4.27-28: ἀπορίᾳ δὲ καὶ ἀμηχανίᾳ καὶ τῷ μὴ ἔχειν εἰπεῖν τι τῆς λύπης ἄξιον.

[82] Ep. 244.9.28-29: Ταῦτά ἐστιν ἀληθῆ μυρίων ἑτέρων ἀποσιωπηθέντων.

[83] Ep. 244.6.1-3: Καὶ τί τὸ ἐν τοῖς ῥήμασιν εὐμετάθετον λέγω, πολλῷ μείζονας ἐξ αὐτῶν τῶν πραγμάτων τῆς ἐπὶ τἀναντία περιτροπῆς ἔχων τὰς ἀποδείξεις;

[84] Ep. 244.6.22-26: Ἀλλ’ εἷς ὁ σκοπός, ὡς ἔοικε, τὸ ἑαυτῶν ζητεῖν πανταχοῦ, καὶ φίλον μὲν ἡγεῖσθαι τὸν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις αὐτῶν συνεργοῦντα, πολέμιον δὲ κρίνειν καὶ μηδεμιᾶς κατ’ αὐτοῦ διαβολῆς φείδεσθαι τὸν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις αὐτῶν ἀνθιστάμενον.

[85] Ep. 244.9.4-21: Ἀρείῳ κατηκολούθουν τὸ ἐξ ἀρχῆς· μετέθεντο πρὸς Ἑρμογένην τὸν κατὰ διάμετρον ἐχθρὸν ὄντα τῆς Ἀρείου κακοδοξίας, ὡς δηλοῖ αὐτὴ ἡ πίστις ἡ κατὰ Νίκαιαν παρ’ ἐκείνου τοῦ ἀνδρὸς ἐκφωνηθεῖσα ἐξ ἀρχῆς.

[86] Ep. 223.2.40-44: Ὥσπερ γὰρ τὸ σπέρμα αὐξανόμενον, μεῖζον μὲν ἀπὸ μικροῦ γίνεται ταὐτὸν δέ ἐστιν ἑαυτῷ, οὐ κατὰ γένος μεταβαλλόμενον, ἀλλὰ κατ’ αὔξησιν τελειούμενον, οὕτω λογίζομαι καὶ ἐμοὶ τὸν αὐτὸν λόγον διὰ τῆς προκοπῆς ηὐξῆσθαι οὐχὶ δὲ ἀντὶ τοῦ ἐξ ἀρχῆς ὄντος τὸν νῦν ὑπάρχοντα γεγενῆσθαι. (NB: we have printed here the text of Deferrari).

[87] Cf., e.g., Metaphysics Theta.

[88] We would like to note that our emphasis throughout this work has been on the primary sources; however, information about the conceptualization of the two main terms of this paper (silence and rumor) as well as about the ecclesiastical and religious issues of the time relies primarily on the bibliography listed here.

About Ryan Fowler and Alberto Quiroga Puertas

Ryan C. Fowler (PhD Rutgers University) teaches at Franklin and Marshall College and the Lancaster Theological Seminary. At the Center in the fall, he will be working with Alberto Quiroga Puertas on atechnoi in the Cappadocian Fathers. Ryan directs the yearly Greek and Latin Sunoikisis faculty seminars and fall courses, and the Sunoikisis-X courses in the spring. He recently completed two book manuscripts: The Imperial Plato (a translation of Albinus’s Introduction to Plato, Maximus of Tyre’s Dissertation 11, and Apuleius’s On Plato, forthcoming with Parmenides Press), and Plato in the Third Sophistic (forthcoming [September 2014], De Gruyter). Alberto J. Quiroga Puertas (PhD University of Granada) is a Ramón y Cajal Fellow at the Ancient Greek Department at the University of Granada. His main research interests include Greek imperial literature and late antique rhetoric. He has published on the impact of rhetoric in the creation of cultural and religious identities in Late Antiquity (The Purpose of Rhetoric in Late Antiquity. From Performance to Exegesis. ed. by Alberto J. Quiroga Puertas, Mohr Siebeck, 2013). His research at the CHS will deal with the implications of non-technical proofs in the works of the Cappadocian Fathers.

Leave a Reply