Vicious and Good/Virtuous Relationships in the Teachings of the Church Fathers

  • Eirini Artemi Hellenic Open University, Greece
Keywords: Church Fathers, adultery, prostitution, concubinage homosexuality, Christianity, Byzantine Empire


Christ brought a rebellion to human life according to religious and ethical orders. Christians should put these orders into practice in their daily life. Christian ethics emphasized that morality should unite with Christ and Church's sacred mysteries, otherwise it was not worthy. The central feature of Byzantine culture was Orthodox Christianity. Christian Ethics in the Byzantine Empire was not a systematic philosophical discipline but an occasional response to particular problems posed in everyday life or interpreting the Scripture. The Christian law and the Church commandments were set within the context of devotion to God but were deontological standards defining what this morality was. The highest ethical duty of a Christian was the same as the greatest commandment: love God and love your neighbor. In this paper, we are going to search for vicious and good/virtuous relationships in the teachings of the Church Fathers based on the social structure and gender relations in the Byzantine state and mainly on spouses' relations. Which was the attitude of the Church Fathers to the specific topic in the Byzantine era? Did they dare to criticize vicious actions among people like adultery, homosexuality, prostitution, and concubinage? Which was their influence on the laws of the Byzantine Empire about the status of marriage? How did they present the virtuous relations as religious attitudes against vicious actions which help the social life of married and unmarried Christians and their sexual life?


Download data is not yet available.


1. New Testament, translation NSRVA
2. Old Testament, translation NSRVA
3. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, H. Rackham, Ed.,
4. Basilius of Caesarea, Ascetical works, PG 31, 901-1305.
5. Codex Theodosianus
6. Cyril of Alexandria, Against Eunuchs, PG 77, 1108-1109.
7. Digesta, Isaurian Ecloga
8. Justinii Codex,
9. Institutiones, The Institutes of Justinian: With English Introduction by Collett Sandars, Translation, and Notes, London 1853
10. Gregory Nazianzen, Homily 37, PG 36, 281- 308.
11. Gregory Nazianzen, On Self-Restraint, trans. by Ch. Gordon Browne and J.Ed. Swallow, From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 7. Ed. by Ph. Schaff and H. Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1894.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight.
12. John Chrysostom, In Matthaeum, PG 57, 21-472; PG 58, 21-793.
13. John Chrysostom, In epistulam ad 1st Corinthios, PG 61, 123-256
14. John Chrysostom, In epistulam ad Ephesios, PG 62, 9-299.
15. John Chrysostom, In epistulam ad Colossenses, PG 62, 299-391.
16. John Chrysostom, On Thessalonicians 1st, PG 62, 391-467.
17. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions, transl. by
18. John Chrysostom, In Genesim, PG 53, 353C & PG 54, 581-631.
19. John Chrysostom On Psalms, PG 55, 178-186.
20. John Chrysostom On Romans Epistle, PG 60, 583-681.
21. John Malalas, Chronography, Homily 18, Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae, vol. 14, Bonnae 1731.
22. Nikodemos Agiorites, Commentary on the Fourteen Epistles of the Apostle Paul, Vol. I, Athens: 1971.
23. Nikolaos Cabasilas, Homily on the Nativity of Holy Virgin Mother, Publ. Lychnos 2004
24. Akanthopoulos, P. J., Codex of Sacred Canons and Ecclesiastical Legislation of the Church of Greece, (in greek) 3rd ed., Vanias, Thessaloniki 2006.
25. Aquilina, M., “One flesh of purest gold. John Chrysostom’s Discovery of the Blessings & Mysteries of Marriage”, Touchstone, A journal of mere Christianity, vol. 21.1 (2008), 3-15.
26. Alevisopoulos, A., The Orthodox Church. Its faith, its worship, its life, trans.
27. Artemi, Ε., “Homosexuality, Adultery and Concubinage in the Byzantine Society”, (in greek) Ekkilisiastikos Faros, vol. 89, Alexandria 2019, p. 39-58.
28. Avramides, St., Antiairetiko egolpion, Athens 2010,
29. Bailey, D. Sh., Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition, Longmans, Green, London 1955.
30. Beaucamp, J., Le statut de la femme a Byzance (4e–7e siecle). I. le droit imperial, Travaux et memoires du Centre de recherche d’ histoire et civilisation de Byzance, College de France. Venographies, 5, Paris 1990.
31. Collett Sandars, T. The Institutes of Justinian: With English Introduction, Translation, and Notes, London 1853
32. Ekpenyong, E. O., & Ntamu, G. U. (2014). Baptism: a comparative study of the reformed and pentecostal model. European Scientific Journal, ESJ, 10 (17)., 151-161.
33. Evans, J. A., The Emperor Justinian and the Byzantine Empire, Greenwood Press, London 2005.
34. Gagarin, M., “Morality in Homer”, Classical Philology 82. 4 (1987): 285-306. (Accessed 1 July 2021),
35. Gofas, D. Ch., “Concubinage and Legalization”, in History and Presentations of Roman Law II, (in greek) Ant. N. Sakkoula ed, Athens 1989.
36. Hall, M. “A Historical and Hermeneutical Approach to the Vice-Lists: A Pauline Perspective”, Spiritus: ORU Journal of Theology, 3.1.1(2018):27-46,
37. Harper, Κ., Slavery in the Late Roman Mediterranean, Ad 275–425: an Economic, Social, and Institutional Study, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2011.
38. Hunter, A.W., A Systematic and Historical Exposition of Roman Law in the Order of a Code, Sweet & Maxwell, London 1803.
39. Johnstone, M. A. “On the Ethical Dimension of Heraclitus’ Thought” in Early Greek Ethics, ed. by D. Wolfsdorf, Oxford University Press, 2020, p. 37–53.
40. Jonaitis, M., Kosaitė - Čypienė, E., “Conception of roman marriage: historical experience in the context of national family policy concept”, Jurisprudencija/Jurisprudence of Mykolo Romerio universitetas, 2.
41. 116 (2009), p. 295–316. ISSN 1392–6195 (print).
42. “Introduction to Ethics”, (Accessed 30 May 2021)
43. Kazdan, Α. P. “The Byzantine Family and its problems”, (in greek) Mnimon, 12 (1989), p195-209,
44. Kiousopoulou, T., Beneviste, R., “Marital strategies and ‘deviations’ in family life: Byzantium and the medieval west”, 1989, p. 255-278, (Accessed 2 October 2021)
45. Miller, W., Trebizond. The Last Greek Empire, London 1926.
46. Moussourakis, G., Roman Law and the Origins of the Civil Law Tradition, Springer International Publishing, Switzerland 2015, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-12268-7
47. Nikolaou, Κ., The woman in the middle byzantine era. Social patterns and daily life in hagiological texts, (in greek) Αthens 2005.
48. Noailles, P., Dain, A., Les Novelles de Leon VI le Sage, Paris 1944.
49. Polylogidou, Ζ., The Ecclesiastical Reforms of Leo VI the Wise (886-912) through his “Neares”. Presentation and analysis of these laws, (in greek) master thesis, Komotini 2015-2016.
50. Rallis, G., & Potlis, Μ., Collection of the divine and holy canons of the holy and famous Apostles, and of the holy, Ecumenical and Local Synods, and of the holy Fathers, (in greek) vol. 4, Athens 1854.
51. Ralli, Κ., Criminal Law of the Eastern Orthodox Church, (in greek) Pournara Publications, Athens 1985.
52. Parkin, T., Pomeroy, Α., Roman Social History. A Sourcebook, Routledge, New York 2007.
53. Rawson, B. “Roman Concubinage and Other: De Facto Marriages”, Transactions of the American Philological Association: Johns Hopkins University Press, 104(1974). 279–305, esp. p. 288, doi:10.2307/2936094.
54. Rawson, B., “Spurii and the Roman View of Illegitimacy”, The Australian National University: Antichthon 23 (1989), p. 10-41.
55. Severy, B., Augustus, and the family at the birth of the Roman Empire, Routledge, New York 2003.
56. Smaga, P., The institution of adoption in Byzantine law, (in greek) Thessaloniki 2007.
57. Treggiari, S., “Contubernales”, Phoenix. CAC, 35 (1) (1981): 42–69, doi:10.2307/1087137.
58. Troianos, Sp., “Love and Law in the Byzantine Empire”, Sp. Troianos (ed.), Crime and Punishement in the Byzantine Empire, (in greek) Athens 1997.
59. Wesche, K. P., “Reflections on the priesthood on Eastern Orthodoxy”, The Theology of Priesthood, D. J. Goergen, A., Garrido (eds), New York 2000.
60. Wolff, H. J., Roman Law. A Historical Introduction, Red Rivers Books, University of Oklahoma Press, 1951.
How to Cite
Artemi, E. (2022). Vicious and Good/Virtuous Relationships in the Teachings of the Church Fathers. European Scientific Journal, ESJ, 18(13), 1.
ESJ Humanities