accordingly more vulnerable to the type of challenge that Ambrose posed. Even so, modern scholars are inclined to see mutual advantage as the reason for the success of Ambrose's bold move, which actually provided Theodo-sius with an opportunity to put behind him a particularly damaging incident in a way that restored confidence in his rule.20 Conversely, in Constantinople Chrysostom faced precisely the imperial establishment that Ambrose could ignore, as well as a divided clergy whose opposition was led by the formidable bishop of Alexandria. In spite of these obstacles, he was able to score brilliant successes in asserting ecclesiastical precedence against some of the most powerful individuals in Constantinople before giving in to precisely the sort of hot-blooded rhetoric he had condemned as a young priest in Antioch.21 Ironically, if this reading is correct, the short-term beneficiary of Ambrose's beau geste was the state, not the church, whereas the opposite could be said of Chrysostom's confrontation, which was only resolved when the court yielded to popular pressure and gave its blessing to his sanctification.

Yet even when these untidy particulars are left aside, the real significance of these two encounters for present purposes lies not in the different outcomes, but in the common premise on which both bishops acted. For both were addressing a question left unanswered by the Constantinian settlement. Put bluntly, in a Christian empire, was the church to be part of the empire, or the empire part of the church? Ambrose and Chrysostom both argued that the latter was the case. While still a priest in Antioch, Chrysostom had insisted that even the royal head lay in priestly hands, while Ambrose chided the young Valentinian II with the explicit proposition that 'the emperor is within the Church, not above the Church'.22 With Theodosius I, Ambrose was even more assertive. In a confrontation with a far less edifying basis that preceded the Thessalonica episode, the bishop of Milan bullied Theodosius into overlooking the destruction of a synagogue in the Eastern frontier town of Callinicum. Casting himself as Nathan to Theodosius' David, Ambrose showed himself particularly adept at exploiting the subversive message of the Hebrew Bible

20 McLynn, Ambrose of Milan, 323; P. Brown, Power and persuasion, 112.

21 Chrysostom won significant victories in confrontations with Gainas and the emperor Arcadius without needing to mobilise his congregation, as had Ambrose: see J. Stephens, 'Ecclesiastical and imperial authority', ch. 4. In his discourse on Antioch's martyr-bishop Babylas, Chrysostom contrasted the licence (yAwCTCTris aKoAaaiav) of Shimei's censure of David in 2 Samuel 16.7 with true freedom of speech (^app^aia): Pro Babylas 38 (SC 362: 138).

22 Ambrose, Ser. c.Aux. (PL 15:1018): 'Imperator enim intra Ecclesiam, non supra Ecclesiam est.' For Chrysostom, see Adpopulum Antiochenum homiliae 3.2 (PG 49: 50).

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