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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Sketch of the Life and Works of Saint Basil the Great

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Page 66


(i) As of the De Spiritu Sancto, so of the Hexaemeron, no further account need be given here. It may, however, be noted that the Ninth Homily ends abruptly, and the latter, and apparently more important, portion of the subject is treated of at less length than the former. Jerome [472] and Cassiodorus [473] speak of nine homilies only on the creation. Socrates [474] says the Hexaemeron was completed by Gregory of Nyssa. Three orations are published among Basil's works, two on the creation of men and one on Paradise, which are attributed to Basil by Combefis and Du Pin, but not considered genuine by Tillemont, Maran, Garnier, Ceillier, and Fessler. They appear to be compositions which some editor thought congruous to the popular work of Basil, and so appended them to it.

The nine discourses in the Hexaemeron all shew signs of having been delivered extempore, and the sequence of argument and illustration is not such as to lead to the conclusion that they were ever redacted by the author into exact literary form. We probably owe their preservation to the skilled shorthand writers of the day. [475]

(ii) The Homilies on the Psalms as published are seventeen in number; it has however been commonly held that the second Homily on Ps. xxviii. is not genuine, but the composition of some plagiarist. The Homily also on Ps. xxxvii. has been generally objected to. These are omitted from the group of the Ben. Ed., together with the first on Ps. cxiv., and that on cxv. Maran [476] thinks that none of these orations shew signs of having been delivered in the episcopate, or of having reference to the heresy of the Pneumatomachi; two apparently point directly to the presbyterate. In that on Ps. xiv. he speaks of an amerimnia which would better befit priest than the primate; on Ps. cxiv. he describes himself as serving a particular church.

[472] De Vir. Illust. cxvi.

[473] Instit. Div. i.

[474] Ecc. Hist. iv. 26.

[475] cf. Letterccxxiii. S: 5, p. 264. It is believed that tachygraphy was known from very early times, and Xenophon is said to have "reported" Socrates by its aid. The first plain mention of a tachygraphist is in a letter of Flavius Philostratus (A.D. 195). It has been thought that the systems in use in the earlier centuries of our era were modifications of a cryptographic method employed by the Christians to circulate documents in the Church. No examples are extant of an earlier date than the tenth century, and of these an interesting specimen is the Paris MS. of Hermogenes described by Montfaucon, Pal. Gr. p. 351. The exact minutes of some of the Councils--e.g. Chalcedon--seem to be due to very successful tachygraphy.

[476] Vit. Bas. xli. 4.

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