A Foretaste of Eusebian Panegyricism in the Tenth ‘Festal Letter’ by St Dionysius (the Great) of Alexandria

Garry W. Trompf, FAHA
Emeritus Professor in the History of Ideas, Studies in Religion
& Adjunct Professor in the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies,
University of Sydney
Visiting Lecturer, Church History,
St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College

Abstract: Apparently combining a sense of personal reprieve from his troubles with a collective relief after the Decian persecution, Dionysius the Great’s tenth festal epistle (pre-Easter 262) sounds distinctly panegyrical notes over the victory and peace of the emperor Gallienus. The author of this paper asks whether we have signs in this letter of a publicised narration of recent imperial affairs culminating in the successes of a worthy, even holy emperor. If so, what does this tell us, first, about the situation of the Church at the time (the 260s), and, second, what might it indicate about the structuring of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, which (at least in its later editions, and with other supplements) finishes with the defeats of unworthy imperial contenders and the victories of Constantine as the Church’s new protector.