Funeral Orations by Saint Gregory Nazianzen and Saint Ambrose - Vol. 22

Funeral Orations by Saint Gregory Nazianzen and Saint Ambrose - Vol. 22

Funeral Orations by Saint Gregory Nazianzen and Saint Ambrose - Vol. 22

Funeral Orations by Saint Gregory Nazianzen and Saint Ambrose - Vol. 22

Excerpt

Caesarius, whose early and untimely death is the subject of this funeral oration, was the younger brother of St. Gregory. Celebrated as a physician, he was highly esteemed by Emperors Constantius and Julian. While holding an imperial office in the province of Bithynia, he escaped death in the earthquake at Nicaea in 368, but shortly thereafter fell a victim to an unspecified disease. His remains were brought back to Nazianzus and interred in the family vault. On this occasion St. Gregory delivered the present oration in the presence of his parents.

The eulogy of Caesarius has the usual rhetorical divisions. The topics are amplified with all the richness cherished by the age. The embellishments of rhetorical art are present in full vigor. Noteworthy are the sections of the encounter between Caesarius and Julian (11-14), and the stirring, if lengthy, comparisons between this life and the life to come (18-23).

The exact date of the panegyric on St. Basil is uncertain. It was delivered at Nazianzus probably three years or a little less after the death of St. Basil on January 1, 379. The orator alleges as reasons for the delay his own ill health and the labors which engaged him at Constantinople. The extreme length of the speech suggests that it was not delivered in its present form. The speech follows the traditional rhetorical pattern. The orator presents in order, after a brief exordium, an account of the ancestors of Basil, his character, his edu-

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