Palladius of Helenopolis
PALLADIUS OF HELENOPOLIS
Fourth-century monk, bishop, and writer; b. Galatia, 363 or 364; d. probably Aspuna, before 431. At 23, a pupil of evagrius ponticus, he embraced the monastic life on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Later he became acquainted with the Egyptian ascetics, spent some time in Alexandria, and retired to the Nitrian Desert about 390. He remained there for nine years, became ill, and at the advice of an Alexandrian physician returned to Palestine (399). The next year he journeyed to Bithynia and was consecrated bishop of Helenopolis by (St.) johnchrysostom.
When sent to Ephesus to investigate charges brought against Bp. Antoninus by Eusebius of Valentinopolis, Palladius appeared with John Chrysostom at the Synod of the oak near Chalcedon in 403. The Synod banished John, and Palladius went to Rome to lay the case before Pope innocent i (405). The Western Emperor honorius sent him to Constantinople with a decision in favor of John, but the Eastern Emperor Arcadius exiled him to Egypt, where, at Syene (406–408), he wrote his Dialogus de vita Sancti Joannis Chrysostomi, a principal source for the life of John Chrysostom.
Palladius spent four years in the Thebaid of Egypt at Antinoë and returned to his diocese only after opposition to John Chrysostom ceased in 412. In Galatia he lived with a priest named Philoramus, and in 417 he was transferred to the Diocese of Aspuna, where he wrote the Lausiac History (419–420). The Epistola de Indicis gentibus et de Bragmannibus attributed to Palladius suggests a trip to India; but is actually a report he seems to have received from a Theban advocate. The Palladian authorship is suggested by similarities in style and diction with his other works.
The writings of Palladius have a moral purpose. His Dialogus seeks to edify by the example of a saintly bishop and shows how John Chrysostom's enemies fell victims to greed and pride in planning his downfall. In the Historia Lausiaca he portrays the life of good monks but does not develop a theory of ascetical theology. He used the example of those who had fallen from grace to show how temptations to pride and vainglory must be expelled. The Epistola describes the gymnosophists of India as dedicated to an ascetical ideal. This work was read and copied frequently during the Middle Ages.
The Palladian authorship of these works has been contested. In antiquity, however, there was no doubt that the interlocutors in the Dialogus are Palladius and Bishop John. The exordium is strongly reminiscent of the opening passage in Plato's Republic.
The Lausiac History of Palladius is a work of the highest importance for the history of early monasticism. In the 19th century his veracity was questioned; but today the work is accepted as reliable in the sections where Palladius had spoken to the people involved or had seen the events he describes. His account falters when he depends upon hearsay.
The Epistola de Indicis was known in Europe during the Middle Ages in a garbled Latin translation as the Commonitorium Palladii supposedly translated by St. Ambrose. Actually, only the first part of the work belongs to Palladius; and thus far no satisfactory proof has been offered against his authorship.
Bibliography: palladius of helenopolis, Dialogus de vita S. Joannis Chrysostomi, ed. p. r. coleman-norton (Cambridge, Eng. 1928), Eng. tr. h. moore (London 1921); The Lausiac History, ed. c. butler, 2 v. (Cambridge, Eng. 1898–1904); ed. and tr. r. t. meyer (Ancient Christian Writers ; 1965). h. rahner, Lexicon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 1957–65) 8:6. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou (Paris 1907–53) 13.1:912–930. a. kurfess, Paulys Realenzyklopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. g. wissowa et al. (Stuttgart 1893) 18.3 (1949) 203–207. .j. quasten, Patrology (Westminster MD 1950) 3:176–180. j. d. m. derrett, "The History of Palladius on the Races of India and the Brahmans," Classica et Mediaevalia 21 (1960) 64–99. e. schwartz, "Palladiana," Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche 36 (1937) 161–204. f. x. murphy, Rufinus of Aquileia (Washington 1945) 175–179. r. draquet, Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique 41 (1946) 321–364; 42 (1947) 5–49.
[r. t. meyer]