Chapter XXI.—Calamities suffered by the People after the Expulsion of John. The Plots against him of Assassination.
After his deposition, John held no more assemblies in the church, but quietly remained in the episcopal dwelling-house. 1611 At the termination of the season of Quadragesima, on the same holy night in which the yearly festival in commemoration of the resurrection of Christ is celebrated, the followers of John were expelled from the church by the soldiers and his enemies, who attacked the people while still celebrating the mysteries. Since this occurrence was unforeseen, a great disturbance arose in the baptistery. The women wept and lamented, and the children screamed; the priests and the deacons were beaten, and were forcibly ejected from the church, in the priestly garments in which they had been officiating. They were charged with the commission of such disorderly acts as can be readily conceived by those who have been admitted to the mysteries, but which I consider it requisite to pass over in silence, lest my work should fall into the hands of the uninitiated.
When the people perceived the plot, they did not use the church on the following day, but celebrated the Paschal feast in the very spacious public baths called after the Emperor Constantius. Bishops and presbyters, and the rest, whose right it is to administer church matters, officiated. Those who espoused the cause of John were present with the people. They were, however, driven hence, and then assembled on a spot without the walls of the city, which the Emperor Constantine, before the city had been built, had caused to be cleared and inclosed with palisades, for the purpose of celebrating there the games of the hippodrome. From that period, the people held separate assemblies, sometimes, whenever it was feasible, in that locality, and sometimes in another. They obtained the name of Johnites. About this time, a man who was either possessed of a p. 413 devil, or who feigned to have one, was seized, having a poniard on his person, with the intention of assassinating John. He was apprehended by the people as one who had been hired for this plot, and led to the prefect; but John sent some bishops of his party to free him from custody before he had been questioned by torture. Some time afterwards, a slave of Elpidius the presbyter, who was an avowed enemy of the deacon, was seen running as swiftly as possible towards the episcopal residence. A passer-by endeavored to stop him, in order to ascertain the cause of so much haste; but instead of answering him, the slave plunged his poniard into him. Another person, who happened to be standing by, and who cried out at seeing the other wounded, was also wounded in a similar way by the slave; as was likewise a third bystander. All the people in the neighborhood, on seeing what had occurred, shouted that the slave ought to be arrested. He turned and fled. When those who were pursuing called out to those ahead to seize the fugitive, a man, who just then came out from the baths, strove to stop him, and was so grievously wounded that he fell down dead on the spot. At length, the people contrived to encircle the slave. They seized him, and conveyed him to the palace of the emperor, declaring that he had intended to have assassinated John, and that the crime ought to be visited with punishment. The prefect allayed the fury of the people by putting the delinquent into custody, and by assuring them that justice should have its course against him.
Soc. vi. 18; Pallad. ibid. Soz. has much distinctive material.