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Headword: Βασίλειος
Adler number: beta,150
Translated headword: Basil, Basilius, Basileios
Vetting Status: high
Bishop of Cappadocian Caesarea (which in the past used to be called Mazaca);[1] a close friend of Gregory the bishop of Nadianda [= Nazianzus]. He came from illustirous parents, Basil and Emmelia, whose family [is discussed] above. A very famous man and one who advanced to the summit of every [branch of] education.[2] This man wrote many works, of which especially the commentaries on the Hexaemeron are admired.[3] He also composed[4] remarkable orations against Eunomius, and a book on the Holy Spirit, and the nine homilies on the Hexaemeron; another work on the ascetic lifestyle, [and] one on virginity; an oration in praise of the Forty Martyrs, another in praise of Gordius, another in praise of Barlaam, and another in praise of Julitta.[5] [There are] several edifying orations on different Psalms; letters -- unsurpassed -- to the sophist Libanius and to his friend Gregory and to many others.[6] On this Basil, also, Philostorgius has made a record in a story about him. He wrote as follows.[7] "For in those times Basil flourished in Cappadocian Caesarea and Gregory in Nadiandus (this place was a station in Cappadocia) and Apollinarius in Laodicea in Syria. These three men then fiercely defended the consubstantiality against the heterosubstantiality, having surpassed by and large everybody who in the past and later, until my own day, supported this same heresy, so that Athanasius would be judged a child in comparison to them.[8] They progressed far in the so-called education "from outside"; and of the holy scriptures, as much as they through the reading filled their memory, they had much experience and of them Basil had the most. And each one of them was in his own way a most respectable writer. Basil was by far at his best in the panegyrical genre: he was indeed most brilliant in delivering festival orations; Apollinarius on the other hand was excellent in the commentary genre. Gregory, however, had -- and this was also the judgment of the other two -- the largest resources for the composing of homilies." These things Philostorgius the Arian as if in passing wrote about them. Basil died when Gratianus held the scepter of the Romans.[9]
Basil the Great had four brothers: Gregory the bishop of Nyssa, and Peter (also a bishop), and two others who became monks.[10]
Greek Original:
Βασίλειος, Καισαρείας τῆς Καππαδοκῶν ἐπίσκοπος [ἥτις πρῴην Μάζακα ἐκαλεῖτο], ἑταῖρος Γρηγορίου τοῦ Ναδιανδῶν ἐπισκόπου. γέγονε δὲ γονέων περιφανῶν, Βασιλείου τε καὶ Ἐμμελείας, ὧν ἄνωθεν ἡ συγγένεια: ἀνὴρ ἐλλογιμώτατος καὶ πάσης παιδείας εἰς ἄκρον ἐληλακώς. οὗτος ἔγραψε πλεῖστα, ἐν οἷς θαυμάζεται τὰ εἰς τὴν Ἑξαήμερον. καὶ κατ' Εὐνομίου δὲ ἐξαιρέτους συνέταξε λόγους, καὶ περὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος τεῦχος, καὶ τὰς εἰς τὴν Ἑξαήμερον ὁμιλίας θ#: ἕτερον τεῦχος ἀσκητικόν, περὶ παρθενίας ἄλλο: Ἔπαινον εἰς τοὺς μ# Μάρτυρας, ἕτερον εἰς Γόρδιον, ἄλλον εἰς Βαρλαάμ, ἕτερον εἰς Ἰουλίτταν. εἰς διαφόρους ψαλμοὺς Ἠθικοὶ λόγοι διάφοροι: ἐπιστολαὶ, ὧν οὐδὲν ἄμεινον, πρός τε τὸν σοφιστὴν Λιβάνιον καὶ πρὸς τὸν φίλον Γρηγόριον καὶ εἰς ἄλλους πλείονας. τοῦδέ γε Βασιλείου καὶ Φιλοστόργιος μνήμην πεποίηται ἐν τῇ κατ' αὐτὸν ἱστορίᾳ γράφων οὕτως: Βασίλειος γὰρ ἤκμαζε κατ' ἐκείνους τοὺς χρόνους ἐν Καισαρείᾳ τῆς Καππαδοκίας καὶ Γρηγόριος ἐν τῇ Ναδιανδῷ [σταθμὸς δὲ οὗτος ὁ τόπος Καππαδοκίας] καὶ Ἀπολινάριος ἐν τῇ Λαοδικείᾳ τῆς Συρίας. τρεῖς δὴ οὗτοι ἄνδρες τότε τοῦ ὁμοουσίου προὐμάχουν κατὰ τοῦ ἑτεροουσίου, μακρῷ πάντας παρενεγκόντες τοὺς πρότερον καὶ ὕστερον ἄχρις ἐμοῦ τῆς αὐτῆς αἱρέσεως προστάντας, ὡς παῖδα παρ' αὐτοῖς κριθῆναι τὸν Ἀθανάσιον. τῆς τε γὰρ ἔξωθεν καλουμένης παιδεύσεως ἐπὶ πλεῖστον οὗτοι προεληλύθεσαν, καὶ τῶν ἱερῶν γραφῶν, ὁπόσα εἰς ἀνάγνωσιν καὶ τὴν πρόχειρον μνήμην ἐτέλει, πολλὴν εἶχον τὴν ἐμπειρίαν, καὶ μάλιστά γε αὐτῶν ὁ Βασίλειος. καὶ μὴν καὶ συγγράφειν ἕκαστος αὐτῶν ἐς τὸν ἑαυτοῦ τρόπον ἦν ἱκανώτατος. τῷ μέν γε Βασιλείῳ τὸ πανηγυρικὸν εἶδος τοῦ λόγου μακρῷ ἄριστα εἶχεν: ἦν γὰρ πανηγυρίσαι λαμπρότατος: ὁ δέ γε Ἀπολινάριος ἐν τῷ ὑπομνηματικῷ εἴδει τῆς λέξεως καὶ αὐτὸς ἄριστα εἶχε: τῷ δέ γε Γρηγορίῳ καὶ παρ' ἀμφοτέροις ἐξεταζομένῳ μείζω βάσιν εἰς συγγραφὴν εἶχεν ὁ λόγος. τοσαῦτα περὶ αὐτῶν ὡς ἐν παραδρομῇ Φιλοστόργιος ὁ Ἀρειανὸς ἔγραψε. τελευτᾷ δὲ Βασίλειος Γρατιανοῦ τὰ Ῥωμαίων σκῆπτρα διέποντος. ὅτι ὁ μέγας Βασίλειος ἀδελφοὺς εἶχε δ#, τόν τε Γρηγόριον τὸν Νύσσης ἐπίσκοπον, καὶ Πέτρον καὶ αὐτὸν ἐπίσκοπον, καὶ ἑτέρους δύο μονάσαντας.
Parts of this entry seem to be inspired by Jerome, De viris illustribus 124.
See Catholic Encyclopedia entry at web address 1.
For Gregory of Nazianzus, see gamma 450; Gregory of Nyssa, gamma 451; Apollinarios, alpha 3397.
[1] cf. kappa 1201.
[2] cf. alpha 1029.
[3] Basil's homilies on the Hexaemeron have been edited in the GCS-series. Of part of homily 7 and of 8 and 9 an English translation can be found in R.M. Grant, Early Christians and Animals, London-New York, Routledge, 1999. For works available on the Internet, see web address 2.
[4] See for text editions and translations of the works mentioned besides the relevant entries in the Clavis Patrum Graecorum, vol. II and the supplement also in Fedwick, Bibliotheca Basiliana Universalis and Rousseau, Basil.
[5] These are orations of praise on martyrs, the so-called martyrial encomia. They were delivered during the yearly celebration in honour of the martyr, which was held on the day his or her death was commemorated by local communities. So every year the memory of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste was (and is) celebrated on 9 March. The best study of Basil's martyrial encomia is M. Girardi, Basilio di Cesarea e il culto dei martiri: scrittura e tradizione (Quaderni di Vetera Cristianorum, 21), Bari, 1990.
[6] The collection of Basil's letters is a source of paramount importance for Cappadocia in the second half of the fourth century. (See the work by B. Gain.) Even more important, however, is that they reveal much about the role of a bishop, his connections with other bishops and officials of the secular realm and members of his community. A brilliant analysis of this correspondence from this viewpoint can be found in the recent work by Dom Pouchet.
[7] This text is also edited in the GCS-edition of Philostorgius, edited by J. Bidez - F. Winkelmann, Berlin, 1981, pp. 111-113. This edition also contains the best introduction to the Arian historiographer. The Suda quotes this passage also at alpha 3397 and gamma 450.
[8] A good introduction to the christological controversies of the fourth century is R.P.C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: the Arian Controversy 318-381, Edinburgh, 1989.
[9] On the reign of Gratian, see web address 3.
[10] Not to mention his illustrious sister Macrina, commemorated by Gregory of Nyssa in his Dialogue on the Soul and the Resurrection and Life of Macrina.
Some recent monographs on Basil:
R.C. Gregg, Consolation Philosophy: Greek and Christian Paideia in Basil and the two Gregories (Patristic Monograph series, 3), Philadelphia Patristic foundation, Cambridge MA, 1975
P.J. Fedwick, Basil of Caesarea: Christian, Humanist, Ascetic: A sixteen-hundredth anniversary Symposium, Pontifical institute of mediaeval studies Toronto, 1981, 2 vols
B. Gain, L'Église de Cappadoce au IVe siecle d'après la correspondance de Basile de Césarée (330-379) (Orientalia christiana analecta, 225), Rome, 1985
R. Pouchet, Basile le Grand et son univers d'amis d'après sa correspondance: une stratégie de communion (Studia ephemeridis Augustinianum, 36), Rome, 1992
P.J. Fedwick (ed.), Bibliotheca Basiliana Universalis: a Study of the Manuscript Tradition of the Works of Basil of Caesarea (Corpus Christianorum), Brepols, Turnhout, 1993-1997, 3 vols: 1: The letters 2: The homiliae morales, Hexaemeron, De litteris, with additional coverage of the letters 3: The Ascetica, Contra Eunomium 1-3, Ad Amphilochium de spiritu sancto, dubia et spuria, with supplements to vol. I-II
Philip Rousseau, Basil of Caesarea (The Transformation of the Classical Heritage, 20), Univ of California Press, Berkeley, 1994
A. Sterk, Basil of Caesarea and the Rise of the Monastic Episcopate: Ascetic Ideals and Episcopal Authority in Fourth-Century Cappadocia, unpublished dissertation, Princeton Theological Seminary
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3
Keywords: biography; Christianity; chronology; ethics; gender and sexuality; geography; history; religion; rhetoric; women
Translated by: Leemans Johan on 16 March 2000@08:36:39.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (augmented translation and notes; added link and keywords) on 13 January 2002@21:12:26.
Catharine Roth (updated link) on 13 January 2002@21:16:47.
Catharine Roth (modified translation slightly; augmented notes) on 14 January 2002@19:39:11.
Catharine Roth (fixed typos) on 14 January 2002@19:43:02.
Catharine Roth (added cross-references) on 14 January 2002@20:00:08.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 15 January 2002@13:38:58.
David Whitehead (added x-refs; added keyword; restorative and other cosmetics) on 10 February 2003@07:43:21.
Catharine Roth (added keywords) on 3 October 2005@00:54:03.
David Whitehead (tweaks and cosmetics) on 25 July 2006@07:06:13.
David Whitehead (more of same; and more keywords) on 25 July 2006@08:49:41.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 3 December 2011@00:05:35.
David Whitehead (another keyword; tweaks and cosmetics) on 22 May 2012@08:46:38.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 10 June 2012@01:59:14.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 4 December 2014@23:57:53.
Catharine Roth (cosmeticules) on 8 February 2016@00:21:31.
Catharine Roth (re-ordered notes, coding) on 8 February 2016@01:23:15.


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