Theodoret of Cyrus and the ideal monarch
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SubjectTheodoret, -- Bishop of Cyrrhus -- Political activity.
Theodoret -- Bishop of Cyrrhus -- Theology.
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This work seeks to demonstrate that Theodoret of Cyrus used his published writings, specifically the Historia Ecclesiastica and Interpretatio in Psalmos , in order to offer a veiled criticism of the reigning monarch, Theodosius the Younger. Theodoret offered King David as an exemplar of the ideal Christian monarch for all monarchs, especially Theodosius, to follow. A brief survey of the historical situation within which Theodoret found himself reveals a weak emperor and a persecuted bishop. Theodosius II was virtually controlled by members of his imperial court and influential bishops. Theodoret suffered unjustly at the hands of Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, who he opposed more than once in the Christological controversies, and Chrysaphius, eunuch Grand Chamberlain, while Theodosius did nothing. An examination of the literary conventions available to Theodoret has been undertaken. Frances Young's discussion of mimesis and Leo Strauss's explanation of exoteric interpretation are particularly helpful. It is suggested that Theodoret made use of both literary devices in his writings on the Davidic Psalms. This usage serves as an explanation for the various irregularities found in Theodoret's exegesis, particularly with regard to the biblical references to David. The Hellenistic conception of the ideal monarch has also been presented, albeit briefly. An examination of Theodoret's presentation of David has shown that the characteristic traits of that ideal have been ascribed to him. Theodoret strategically compares the good emperors Constantine and Theodosius the Elder to David, while Theodosius the Younger is never mentioned in that context. This omission, as well as Theodoret's personal correspondence, reveal his critique of Theodosius's reign.