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From The Lives of the Popes from the Time of our Saviour Jesus Christ to the Accession of Gregory VII. Written Originally in Latin by B. Platina, Native of Cremona, and translated into English (from an anonymous translation, first printed in 1685 by Sir Paul Rycaut), Edited by William Benham, Volume I, London: Griffith, Farran, Okeden & Welsh, [1888, undated in text]; pp. 82-84.

The Lives of the Popes,
B. Platina

Volume I.

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A.D. 356.

FELIX the Second, a Roman, the son of Anastasius, was Bishop of Rome in the reign of Constantius, who by the death of Constans, slain by Magnentius, becoming now sole emperor, sent into Gallia to suppress a sedition arisen there, his cousin-german Julian, whom he had created Cæsar; who in a short time, by his great valour and conduct, reduced both the Gauls and Germans; whereby he gained so much the affections of the army, that by universal consent they made him emperor. At the news of this, Constantius, who was engaged in a war with the Parthians, suddenly strikes up a truce with them, and forthwith marches forward to oppose Julian; but in his march being seized with an apoplexy, he died between Cilicia and Cappadocia, at a town called Mopsocrene, in the twenty-fourth year of his reign, and of his age the forty-fifth. The physicians were of opinion that the excessive grief and anxiety of mind which the rebellion of Julian had brought upon him, was the occasion of that fatal distemper to him. He was (excepting always the case of the Christians, against whom he was unjust and cruel) a person of so great moderation and clemency, that, according to the ancient custom, he deserved an apotheosis. Upon his first undertaking the government, at his entering triumphantly by the Via Flaminia into the city of Rome in his golden chariot, he did with wonderful condescension take notice of and salute the citizens that went out to meet him, affirming that of Cyneas, the ambassador of Pyrrhus, to be true, that he saw at Rome as many kings as there were citizens. In one thing only he was the occasion of laughter to the people, viz., that as he passed through the lofty gates of the city, and the stately triumphal arches, though he were a man of very little stature, 83 yet as though he feared to hit his head against the tops of them, he bowed it down low, like a goose stooping as she goes in at a barn door. Being conducted to view the rarities of the city, and beholding with admiration the Campus Martius, the sepulchre of Augustus Cæsar, adorned with so many statues of marble and brass, the Forum Romanum, the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, the baths, the porticoes, enlarged like so many provinces, the amphitheatre, built with Tiburtine stone of so vast a height that a man’s eye could scarce reach to the top of it, the Pantheon, built with stately arches, of a wonderful altitude, the temple of peace, Pompey’s theatre, the great cirque, the Septizonium of Severus, so many triumphal arches, so many aqueducts, so many statues erected here and there throughout the city for ornament; beholding all this, I say, he at first stood astonished, and at length declared, that certainly Nature had laid out all her stock upon one city. At the sight of the famous horse of brass set up by Trajan, he desired of Hormisda, an excellent workman whom he had brought along with him, that he would make such another for him at Constantinople, to whom Hormisda replied that the emperor ought then to build such another stable (meaning the city of Rome). The same Hormisda being asked by Constantius what he thought of the city of Rome, returned an answer becoming a philosopher, that all which pleased him in it was, that he understood that there also men were wont to die.

Felix, who, as we have said, was put into the place of Liberius by the orthodox (though Eusebius and St. Hierom, which I much wonder at, affirm it to have been done by the heretics), presently after his entrance upon the pontificate pronounces Constantius, the son of Constantine the Great, a heretic, and rebaptized by Eusebius, Bishop of Nicomedia, in a little town called Aquilo, not far from Nicomedia. And hereby may be discovered the error of those who accuse Constantine the Great himself of this heresy — an imputation which certainly, as appears by history, neither ought nor can be fastened upon that great prince and great favourer of the Christian religion. While this great contention which we have spoken of between Liberius and Felix lasted, the Arian heresy branched itself into two factions. For on the one side Eunomius (from whom they were called Eunomians), a man leprous both in body and mind, and who had a falling-sickness 84 as well within as without, affirmed that in all things the Son was unequal to the Father, and that the Holy Spirit had no community of essence with the Father or the Son. On the other side, Macedonius, whom the orthodox had made Bishop of Constantinople before he became erroneous in his opinions, was renounced by the Arians, for holding the Son to be equal with the Father, though he uttered the same blasphemies against the Holy Spirit that themselves did. It is said that Felix held a council of forty-eight bishops, in which it was decreed that all bishops should attend in person at every General Council, or else by letter give a good account why they could not; which decree was afterwards renewed in the Council of Carthage. In his time lived Acacius, for his having but one eye called Monophthalmus, Bishop of Cesarea in Palestine, who wrote largely upon Ecclesiastes, and who by his fair speech and swimming carriage had gained such an ascendant over Constantius that he himself undertook to appoint Felix, an Arian, to be bishop in room of Liberius. This St Hierom tells us, though I much marvel at it, since, as we have already said, it is evident that Felix was a Catholic, and a constant opposer of the Arians. At length, after Felix had done all that in him lay for the propagation and defence of the true faith, he was seized by his enemies, and together with many orthodox believers, was slain and buried in a church which he himself had built in the Via Aurelia, two miles from the city, November the 20th.2 He was in the chair only one year, four months, two days, through the means of a sedition raised by Liberius (whom I have inserted into the number of bishops, more upon the authority of Damasus, than for any deserts of his own).


 1  See preceding note.

 2  This is very doubtful. Modern Roman Catholic historians reject the story of the massacre, though Gibbon accepts it. But Felix escaped and lived for eight years longer in peaceful obscurity. By some curious oversight his name stole into the Roman martyrology. See a curious note in Milman i. 62. — ED.

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Previous Pope:  37. Liberius I. 38. Felix II. Next Pope: 39. Damasus I.

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