2. Of EGYPT. Palladius in the biographical notices which make up what is usually termed his Lausiac History,
mentions two brothers, Paäsius (Παήσιος
) and Esaias, the sons of a merchant, Σπανόδρομος
. by which some understand a Spanish merchant. Upon the death of their father they determined to quit the world; one of them distributed his whole property to the poor, the other expended his in the foundation of a monastic and charitable establishment. If the Orations
mentioned below are correctly ascribed to the Esaias of Palladius, the first oration (which in the Latin version begins "Qui mecum manere vultis, audite," &c.) enables us to identify him as the brother that founded the monastery. Rufinus in his Lives of the Fathers,
quoted by Tillemont, mentions an anecdote of Esaias and some other persons of monastic character, visiting the confessor Anuph or Anub (who had suffered in the great persecution of Diocletian, but had survived that time) just before his death. If we suppose Esaias to have been comparatively young, this account is not inconsistent with Cave's opinion, that Esaias flourished A. D. 370. Assemanni supposes that he lived about the close of the fourth century.
He appears to have lived in Egypt.
There are dispersed through the European libraries a number of works in MS. ascribed to Esaias, who is variously designated " Abbas," " Presbyter," " Eremita," " Anachoreta." They are chiefly in Greek. Some of them have been published, either in the original or in a Latin version. Assemanni enumerates some Arabic and several Syriac works of Esaias, which, judging from their titles, are versions in those tongues of the known works of this writer.
It is not ascertained whether Esaias the writer is the Esaias mentioned by Palladius. Cardinal Bellarmin, followed by the editors of the Bibliotheca Patrum,
places the writer in the seventh century subsequent to the time of Palladius; but the character of the works supports the opinion that they belong to the Egyptian monk.
As some MSS. contain portions of this work in connexion with other passages not contained in it, it is probable that the Chapters
are incomplete. One MS. in the King's Library at Paris is described as " Esaiae Abbatis Capita Ascetica,
in duos libros divisa, quorum unusquisque praecepta centum complectitur."
published in Greek and Latin in the Thesaurus Asceticus of Pierre Possin, pp. 315-325; 4to. Paris, 1684.
A Latin version of sixty-eight Short Precepts
published by Lucas Holstenius, in his Codex Regularum Monasticarum. (vol. i. p. 6. ed. Augsburg, 1759.)
They are not all orations, but, in one or two instances at least, are collections of apophthegms or sayings. Some MSS. contain more than twenty-nine orations: one in the King's Library at Paris contains thirty, wanting the beginning of the first ; and one, mentioned by Harless, is said to contain thirty-one, differently arranged from those in the Bibliotheca Patrum.
A Latin version of twenty-nine discourses of Esaias was published by Pietro Francesco Zini, with some ascetic writings of Nilus and others, 8vo. Venice, 1574
, and have been reprinted in the Bibliotheca Patrum.
A MS. in the Royal Library of the Escurial in Spain, is described by Montfaucon (Bibliotheca Bibliothecarum,
p. 619) as containing Sermones et Dubitationes in Visionem Ezechielis,
by " Esaias Abbas."
or discourses are probably those mentioned above. Of the Dubitationes
no further account is given; but the subject, as far as it is indicated by the title, renders it very doubtful if the work belongs to the Egyptian Monk.
of Esaias, described in Catalogues, are perhaps portions or extracts of the works noticed above.
This is probably the case with the passages given by Cotelerius among the Sayings of the Fathers.
Palladius, Hist. Lausiaca,
100.18. ed. Meursius, Leyden, 1616 ; Tillemont, Mémoires,
vol. vii. p. 426; Cave, Hist. Lit.
vol. i. p. 254, ed. Oxford, 1740-3; Bibliotheca Patrum,
vol. xii. p. 384, &c. ed. Lyon, 1677 ; Assemanni, Bibliotheca Orientalis,
vol. iii. par. i. p. 46, note; Cotelerius, Ecclesiae Graecae Monumentta,
vol. i. p. 445, &c.; Fabric. Bibl. Graec.,
vol. ix. p. 282, vol. xi. p. 395, Bibliotheca Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis,
vol. ii. p. 109; Catalogus MStorum Bibliothecae Regiae,
vol. ii., Paris, 1704.