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pius accedere, &c. Tantumne sanguinis senili ex corpore pene exangui, ætateque confecto manavit e vulnere, ut pyra ardens et magna satis, penitus extincta sit? Cætera vero mirâ dulcedine alliciunt animos.' Annal. ii.
Some, to reconcile the vision 5 with the event, will perhaps say that the vision of the pillow consumed by fire, was sufficiently completed by Polycarp's dying at the stake, and by the burning of his body after he was dead; and that, if there were a small error, it was in Polycarp's interpretation. • Prophetæ visorum suorum non semper fidi interpretes. Donum prophetias interpretandi prorsus erat distinctum a prophetiæ charismate,' says Fell on Cyprian.
As to the voice from heaven", there is nothing fri
lous in such a miracle ; it might be true: but yet it is a miracle which might be counterfeited, and one single Christian might have made the speech from a house-top, near the stadium, and have lain concealed there ; and if he kept his counsel, all his brethren might have been deceived
The human voice, if it be clear and strong, may be
When a deacon called Sosius was performing divine service, his head appeared surrounded with flames, which portended his martyrdom. Surius Sept. 23. The writer might borrow this from Polycarp's vision, or from Virgil's:
Ecce levis subito de vertice visus lüli
Fundere lumen apex :' or from the story of Servius Tullius in Livy, i. 39. cui caput arsisse ferunt multorum in conspectu.' This Sosius was a companion of that Januarius who works miracles to this day in Naples with wonderful perseverance.
h When Constantius, an Arian emperor, was carried in funeral pomp, his friends affirmed that a choir of angels attended the procession, singing and playing in the air; and Gregory Nazianzen thought fit to record this miracle. Ea subdit Nazianzenus, quibus fidem afferre nobis est difficillimum : Cum corpus Tauro inonte superato, ad paternam civitatem veheretur, vox quædam e summis locis a nonnullis audiebatur, velut psallentium et prosequentium ; angelicorum, opinor, cætuum, quod pietatis illi præmium erat, funebrisque remuneratio.'
Orat. 4. Qila figmenta er Ariana officina prodiisse videntur.'
S. Basnage, Ann. ii. 863. Gregory Nazianzen had a favourable opinion of Constantius; but Lucifer Calaritanus, Hilary, and Athanasius, load him with reproaches, and call him Tyrant, Antichrist, &c. Thus you have fathers against fathers, and saints against saints.
heard at a great distance. The heralds in Honter had this accomplishment, and were Boriv dyaboi, and Darius Hystaspis had an Ægyptian in the army who was as good as a speaking-trumpet. Ανήρ Αιγύπτιος φωνέων μέγιστον ανθρώ
w, who saved Darius and the army when they were in great danger, by the force of his lungs. Herodotus iv,
If the voice had been accompanied with an 'unusual splendor in the air, or with an earthquake, or preceded by thunder and lightning in a clear sky, the wonder had been evident.
The author of the Epistle observes, that the Christians who attended Polycarp heard this voice, but says not a word of the Jews and Gentiles, and leaves us uncertain whether they heard it or not.
A sweet smell issued from the pile. This is surely a very suspicious miracle, and they who have defended the account of Polycarp's martyrdom are willing to pass it over as fast as they can. They are in the right, for in truth it casts some dishonour upon the whole narration. The fact, in all probability, was true: scented wood is common in hot countries, and the odour might proceed from the fuel, for the people ran about to the baths and other places to get wood; and a Christian might also join with them, and bring a bundle of wood with aromatics enclosed in it, to honour the funeral of his bishop. It had been an antient fashion in various places to waste abundance of aromatics in burning dead persons of rank and quality; or those who threw themselves alive into the flames, in complaisance to the deceased, or in compliance with cruel custom, as the Indian wives; or a philosopher, who now and then mounted the pile, and entertained the public with roast-meat, as the Gymnosophists, Calanus, &c. The writer of the Epistle would make us believe that these perfumes were conferred on Polycarp's pile, miraculously no doubt, else it would not have been worth the recording. The Christians, however frugal in other respects, yet in these expenses were very profuse at the interment of their brethren. Si Arabiæ queruntur,' says Tertullian, 'sciant Sabæi pluris et carioris suas merces Christianis sepeliendis profligari, quam Diis fumigandis.'
This account of the yielding of the flames, of the voice, and of the sweet odour, might give occasion to later writers to apply these wonders to other martyrs, as they frequently do. See Prudentius ITapi Et:Q. vi. 100. and Basil, Hom. v. not to mention many more. The history of the aromatic scent of the sacred bones' would fill a moderate folio. By the help of this odour reliques were discovered, and genuine bones distinguished from counterfeits; and it was very easy to find out a saint, without borrowing the lanthorn of Diogenes:
• Ubi ubi est, diu celari non potest.' Tillemont is excessively fond of this prodigy, and never fails to record it with great seriousness; and indeed there is no reason to question the fact, for of all miracles it is the easiest to be performed, and therefore the least satisfactory :
-Non bene olet, qui bene semper olet.' The Pagan goddesses also smelt very sweetly, as the poets, to whom they were best known, testify:
'Ambrosiæque comæ divinum vertice odorem
Spiravere,' says Virgil.
• Mansit odor; posses scire fuisse deam.' Ovid. Fast. v.
The temple at Hierapolis smelt of the sweetest perfume, as the writer De Dea Syria assures us.
In Abulfeda's life of Mohammed, we are told that a most agreeable odour proceeded from his carcase after he was dead.
Copres, a monk of the fourth century, is said to have stood half an hour in the midst of a great fire, unhurt, to confute a poor Manichæan doctor who could not perform the same exploit.
Rufinus Vit. Patrum. Helles, another monk of those days, would carry fire in his bosom, which neither singed his clothes nor his skin. Sozomen vi. 28. This miracle was wrought with a view to what is said, Prov. vi. 27. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes
not be burnt ?' But Solomon, as well as Bernard, 'non vidit omnia.' . Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burnt ?' Prov. vi. 28. This is what Pagans have pretended to do, as we shall see:
incedunt per ignes Suppositos cineri doloso. The arching of the flames, &c. if it were just as the author of the Epistle relates it, must have been something preternatural : but the question is, whether the author's imagination did not impose upon him, and make him fancy a little more in it than there really was. If Polycarp had prophesied that his enemies could not and should not burn him, it had been remarkable indeed i: but here is a martyr, who could not be burned, and who was run through without difficulty. Besides the seeming disagreement of the prediction and the event, one may reasonably ask, To what purpose this miracle? nor is the question easily answered.
Yet that is not all: the miracle was not only of the useless kind, but it might have produced rather a bad than a good effect on the minds of the spectators. The Pagans had many examples in their fabulous and poetic history of men who had been unhurt in the flames; and they had also their priests and priestesses who walked barefoot over the fire without harm : but these things were supposed by some Pagans to be tricks, by others to be magical operations; and consequently the inference made by the vulgar Pagans, and perhaps by the Jews, would have been, that Polycarp was an old magician, who had recourse, though in vain, to inchantments; and that his dæmon had secured him for a time from the fiaines, but could not protect him from the sword k.
Therefore, as later authors improve upon their predecessors, the writers of the martyrdom of Romanus say, that when he was condemned to the flames, he declared before hand that the fire should not burn him, and accordingly a miraculous shower (borrowed, it may be, from the story of Cræsus in Herodotus) put it out. Prudentius.
* It was the opinion of some that Cræsus had escaped the flames by the help of incantations.
'Εφέσια γράμματα - επωδαι γαρ, τινές φασίν, εκείνα ήσαν, ας και
Virgil Æn. xi. 785.
• Summe Deûm, sancti custos Soractis Apollo,
Quem primi colimus, cui pineus ardor acervo
Cultores multa premimus vestigia pruna.' Where Servius: I'reti pietate. Iste quidem hoc dixit ; sed Varro, ubique expugnator religionis, ait, cum quoddam medicamentum describeret: Eo uti, solent Hirpini, qui ambulaturi per ignem, medicamento plantas tingunt.
Haud procul urbe Roma in Faliscorum agro familia sunt paucæ, quæ vocantur Hirpi : hæ sacrificio annuo, quod fit ad montem Soractem Apollini, super ambustam ligni struem ambulantes non aduruntur. Et ob id perpetuo senatusconsulto militiæ omniumque aliorum munerum vacationem habent. Plinius l. vii. p. 372.
Έν τοϊς Κασταβάλοις έστι το της Περασίας Αρτέμιδος Γερον, όπου φασί τας ιερείας γυμνοις τοις ποσί δι' ανθρακιάς βαδίζειν απαθείς. . Apud Castabala autem Perasiæ Dianæ fanum est, ubi aiunt fæminas sacerdotes illæsis pedibus per
Strabo. Le Clerc speaking of the water of jealousy, Numb. v. says, ' An ultio divina perjurium illico sequeretur non docet Moses, et rara hæc videntur fuisse exempla. Hugo Grotius exempla ex Scriptoribus Ethnicis adfert fontium, quorum aquæ perjuros arguisse feruntur, nec rei fidem de trahit. Sed tot ficta miracula apud Ethnicos narrabantur, ut ulli credere vix possimus. Alia est ratio Hebræorum, &c. Multa quoque in infimi ævi historiis habemus de
Κροίσος επί της πυρας ειπων ωφελήθη – Παυσανίας δέ φησίν, - ότι δωναι ήσαν τα 'Εφέσια γράμματα φυσικών εμπεριέχουσαι νούν αλεξίκακον, ας και Κροίσον επί πυράς, φησί και αυτός, είπεϊν. « Ephesis literæ dicunt 'enim illas fuisse incantationes quasdam, quas et Cræsus jam rogo impositus pronunciarit atque ita liberatus fuerit.-Pausanias vero ait--Ephesias literas fuisse voces quasdam, quæ naturalem quandam virtutem malorum depulsoriam haberent; quas, ut etiam ille testatur, Cræsus rogo impositus pronunciaverit.' Eustathius in Odyss. Suglas. Etymol. Magn. Of the same kind with the Ephesian Letters were these charms;
Sista, Pista, Kista, Xista.' and
Daries, Dardaries, Astaries, Dissunapiter, Huat, Hamat,' &c. to which Varro and Cato ascribe great powers.