Hugo Etherianis

Hugo Etherianis

Hugh Etherianus [Their name is spelled in various ways: Etherianis, Ætherianus, Heterianus, Eterianus, Eretrianus, Hetterianus, and has been anglicised as Etherian and italianised as Eteriano.] (1115 – 1182), and his brother Leo Tuscus [Leo Toscano, known mainly as a translator; Charles Homer Haskins, "The Renaissance of the 12th Century" p. 295, says he was an interpreter of the Emperor's household.] , were Tuscans by birth, employed at the court of Constantinople under the Emperor Manuel I Comnenus. Hugh was a Catholic theologian and controversialist, who became a Cardinal at the end of his life [ [ The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church - Creations of cardinals of the XII Century ] ] .

Hugo [Adv. Graec. I, 20.] says that he was "occupied in translating the imperial letters", evidently an interpreter for Latin correspondence. Hugh, who does not seem to have held any official post at court, but was a very learned theologian, had many opportunities of discussing the questions at issue between the Greek Orthodox Church and Catholics. [So he tells us: Adv. Graec., Praef. I., Migne, "Patrologia Latina", CCII, 165.]


As a result of these disputes he wrote a work in three books: "De haeresibus quas Graeci in Latinos devolvunt, sive quod Spiritus Sanctus ex utroque Patre et Filio procedit" [P.L., CCII, generally quoted as "Adv. Graecos".] . This work, the first exhaustive and scientific defence of the Filioque, was composed in both Latin and Greek. The author sent copies to the Latin Patriarch of Antioch, Aimerikos, and to Pope Alexander III, whose letter of acknowledgment is still extant [Ep. xlix, Baronius, an. 1177, n. 37, 38] . Hugh Etherianus by this treatise obtained an important place among Catholic controversialists against the Eastern Church.

It appears that the emperor, who was well disposed towards Latins, had suggested that he should write it, having asked him whether they have "any authorities of saints who say that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son" [ib., Praef. I, CCII, col. 165] . Hugh had used his knowledge of Greek and his opportunities of studying the Greek Fathers. He was able to produce texts from nearly all the recognized authorities on both sides. He quotes especially Sts. Athanasius, Cyril of Alexandria, Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, Chrysostom, John Damascene, etc. From the Latins he produced witnesses from Sts. Augustine, Jerome, Gregory I, Ambrose, and Hilary. He was also well acquainted with the writings of his adversaries and quotes Photius, Nicetas of Thessalonica, Theophylactus of Ochrida, etc.

The Latin version is very corrupt and untrustworthy. There are also some incorrect expressions noted by the later editors, such as that God the Father is the cause of the Son (this is a concession to the Greeks that was, however, tolerated by the Council of Florence [Denzinger, Enchiridion, n. 586.] . Nevertheless, since it was written this work has been the foundation of nearly all Latin controversy with the Greeks. St. Thomas Aquinas used it for his "Opusc. I, contra errores Graecorum" and Cardinal Bessarion refers to it with great praise. [Ep. ad Alex., P.L., CLXI, 328.]

Hugh Etherianus also wrote a treatise "De regressu animarum ab inferis," in answer to a petition of the clergy of Pisa, and (probably) a short work "De Graecorum malis consuetudinibus." A "Liber de immortali Deo," written by him, is lost.


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