BASIL OF OXYRHYNCHUS
A sixth-century author of the homily In Honor of Longinus (hegumenos of ENATON), found complete in a codex now in New York (Pierpont Morgan Library, M 579, fols. 103-110, unpublished). According to the title of the homily, Basil was bishop of Pemje (Oxyrhynchus). He delivered the homily on the occasion of the consecration of a church dedicated to LONGINUS in the Monastery of Salamites on Mount Thone.
No information concerning Basil can be gleaned from the content of the homily; this is a powerful argument in favor of its authenticity, because works composed a posteriori during the period of the CYCLES usually contain elements of purported autobiography. However, stylistic criteria point to the period of Damian (end of the sixth century) for Basil, as the structure of the encomium is similar to that of PSEUDO-PISENTIUS OF QIFT, In Honor of Onophrius; other themes recall the encomia of CONSTANTINE of Asyut, In Honor of Athanasius.
The homily begins with a eulogy to the virginity of the ascetic life in the figure of John the Baptist. One of those who imitated the saint was Longinus, together with his companion Lucius. There follows an exhortation to the people to pay careful heed to the commemoration, since this attention is a useful exercise of moral edification. In this connection, the author cites the example of Joshua in relation to the life of Moses. Reference is then made to the miracles worked by Longinus. This would seem to be based on the Life of Longinus (and Lucius), which may be assigned to the period of the “plerophoriai” (fifth and sixth centuries; see LITERATURE, COPTIC). This text is found in the same manuscript.
After this comes the final peroration in which the faithful are invited to follow the example of Longinus.
- Cotelier, J. B. Apophthegmata Patrum. In PG 65, cols. 71-440. Paris, 1864.