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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/188

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MELCHITES


158


MELCHITES


dering (ILsloyalty of thc>(' two provinces broke out.in the form of rclicUioii :ij;;uiist Cluilcedou. For cen- turies (till the Anib conciuest) llonophy.sism w;vs the symbol of national Egyptian and iSyrian patriotism. The root of the matter \v;us always political. The people of Egypt antl Syria, kceijing their own lan- guages aud their consciousness of being separate races, had never been really amalganiatetl with the Empire, originally Latin, now fast becoming Greek. They had no chance of political iinlependence, their hatred of Rome found a vent in this theological question. The cry of the faith of Cyril, " one nature in Christ, " no betrayal of Ephesus, meant really no submission to the foreign tyrant on the Bosphorus. So the great majority of the population in these lands turned Monophysit«, rose in continual rebellion against the creed of the Empire, committed savage atrocities against the Chalcedonian bishops and officials, and in return were fiercely persecuted.

The beginning of these troubles in Egypt was the deposition of the Monophysite Patriarch Dioscur, and the election by the government party of Proterius as his successor, immediately after the council. The people, especially the lower classes and the great crowd of Egyptian monks, refused to acknowledge Proterius, and began to make tumults anil riots that 2000 soldiers sent from Constantinople could hardly put down. When Dioscur died in 454 a certain Timothy, called the Cat or Weasel (at\ovpos), was or- dained by the Monophysites as his successor. In 457 Proterius was murdered; Timothy drove out the Chalcedonian clergy and so began the organized Cop- tic (Monophysite) Church of Egypt. In Syria and Palestine there was the same opposition to the council and the government. The people and monks drove out the Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Martyrius, and setup one Peter the Dyer {yi>a.(peis,f!(llu), a Mono- physite, as his successor. Juvenal of Jerusalem, once a friend of Dioscur, gave up his heresy at Chalcedon. When he came back to his new patriarchate he found the W'hole country in rebellion against him. He too ■was driven out and a Monophysite monk Theotlosius was set up in his place. So began the Monophysite national churches of these provinces. Their opposi- tion to the court and rebellion lasted two centuries, till the Arab conquest (Syria, 637 ; Egypt, 641). During this time the government, realizing the danger of the disaffection of the frontier provinces, alternated fierce persecution of the heretics with vain attempts to con- ciliate tliem by compromises (Zeno's Henotikon in 4S2, the Acacian Schism, 4S4-519, etc.). It should be realized that Egypt was much more consistently Monopliysite than Syria or Palestine. Egypt was much closer knit as one land than the other provinces, and so stood more uniformly on the side of the na- tional party. (For all thLs see Monophysisji.)

Meanwhile against the nationalist party stood the minority on the side of the government and the coun- cil. These are the Melchites. Why they were so- called is obvious: they were the loyal Imperialists, the emperor's party. The name occurs first in a pure Greek form as ffcmXi/cis. Evagrius says of Timothy Sakophakiolos (the Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria set up by the government when Timothy the Cat was driven out in 4601 that " some called him the Imperial- ist (Sy ol fi^v fKd\ow fia<n\iK6,>) " (H. E., II, 11). The.se Melchites were naturally for the most part the govern- ment officials, in Egypt almost entirely so, while in Syria and Palestine a certain part of the native popu- lation was Melchite too. Small in numbers, they were until the Arab conquest strong through the support of the government and the army. The contrast between Monophysites and Melchites (Nationalists and Im- perialists) was expressed in their language. The Monophysites spoke the national language of the country (Coptic in Egypt, Syriac in Syria and Pales- tine), Melchites for the most part were foreigners


sent out from Constantinople who spoke Creek. For a long time the history of these countries is that of a continual feud between Melchites and Monophysites; sometimes the government is strong, tlie heretics are persecuted, the jjatriarchate is occupied by a .Melchite; then again the people get the up])er hand, drive out the Melchite bishops, set up Monophysites in their place and murder the Greeks. By the time of the Arab conquest the two Churches exist as rivals with rival lines of bishops. But the Monophysites are much the larger party, especially in Egypt, and form the national religion of the country. The difference by now expresses itself to a great extent in liturgical language. Both parties usetl the same liturgies (St. Mark in Egypt, St. James in Syria and Palestine), but while the Monophysites made a point of using the national language in church (Coptic and Syriac), the Melchites generally used Greek. It seems, however, that this was less the case than has been thought; the Melchites, too, used the vulgar tongue to a consider- able extent (Charon, " Le Rite byzantin", 26-29).

When the Arabs came in the seventh century, the Monophysites, true to their anti-imperial policy, rather helped than hindered the invaders. But they gained little by their treason; both churches received the usual terms granted to Christians; they became two sects of Rayas under the Moslem Khalifa, both were equally persecutetl during the repeated outbursts of Moslem fanaticism, of which the reign of Al-Hakim in Egypt (996-1021) is the best known instance. In the tenth century part of Syria was conquered back by the empire (Antioch reconquered in 968-969, lost again to the Selj uk Turks in 1 078- 1 OS 1 ) . This caused for a time a revival of the Melchites and an increase of enthusiasm for Constantinople and everything Greek among them. I'nder the Moslems the characteristic notes of both churches became, if possible, stronger. The Monophysites (Copts and Jacobites) sank into isolated local sects. On the other hand, the Melchite minorities clung all the more to their union with the great church that reigned free anil tlominant in the empire. This expressed itself chiefly in loyalty to Constantinople. Rome and the AVest were far olT ; the immediate object of their devotion was the emperor's court and the emperor's patriarch. The Melchite patriarchs under Moslem rule became insignificant people, while the power of the Patriarch of Constanti- nople grew steadily. So, looking always to the capital for guidance, they gradually accepted the position of being his dependents, almost sufTragans. When the Bishop of Constantinople assumed the title of "CEcu- menical Patriarch" it was not his Melchite brothers who protested. This attitude explains their share in his schism. The quarrels lietween Photius and Pope Nicholas I, between Michael Cerularius and Leo IX. were not their affair; they hardly understood what was happening. But naturally, almost inevitably, wlien the schism broke out, in spite of some protests [Peter III of Antioch (1053-1076?) protested vehe- mently against Cerularius's schism; see Fortescue, "Orthodox Eastern Church", 189-192], the Melchites followed their leader, and when orders came from Constantinople to strike the pope's name from their diptychs they quietly obeyed.

III. FnoM THE Schism to the Beginning of the Union. — So all the Melchites in Syria, Palestine, and Egypt broke with Rome and went into schism at the command of Constantinople. Here, too, they justified their name of Imperialist. From this time to almost our own day there is little to chronicle of their history. They existed as a " nation" (millet) under the Khalifa; when the Turks took Constantinople (1453) they made the patriarch of that city head of this " nation" (R-um millet, i. e., the Orthodox Church) for civil affairs. Other bishops, or even patriarchs, could only approach the government through him. This further increased his authority and influence over all the Orthodox in