327 (1). This period is divided into two by the death of Constans in 350, or perhaps more exactly by the final settlement of sole power in the hands of Constantius on the day of Mursa, Sept. 28, 35168 . The internal condition of the Church at Alexandria, however, was not seriously disturbed even in the second period. From this point of view the entire period may be treated as one. Its opening was auspicious. Egypt fully participated in the ‘profound and wonderful peace’ (p. 278) of the Churches. The Bishops of province after province were sending in their letters of adhesion to the Synod of Sardica (ib. and p. 127), and those of Egypt signed to a man.
The public rejoicing of the Alexandrian Church had something of the character of a ‘mission’ in modern Church life. A wave of religious enthusiasm passed over the whole community. ‘How many widows and how many orphans, who were before hungry and naked, now through the great zeal of the people were no longer hungry, and went forth clothed;’ ‘in a word, so great was their emulation in virtue, that you would have thought every family and every house a Church, by reason of the goodness of its inmates and the prayers which were offered to God’ (p. 278). Increased strictness of life, the santification of home, renewed application to prayer, and practical charity, these were a worthy welcome to their long-lost pastor. But most conspicuous was the impulse to asceticism. Marriages were renounced and even dissolved in favour of the monastic life; the same instincts were at work (but in greater intensity) as had asserted themselves at the close of the era of the pagan persecutions (p. 200, fin).. Our knowledge of the history of the Egyptian Church under the ten years’ peaceful rule of Athanasius is confined to a few details and to what we can infer from results.
Strong as was the position of Athanasius in Egypt upon his return from exile, his hold upon the country grew with each year of the decade. When circumstances set Constantius free to resume the Arian campaign, it was against Athanasius that he worked; at first from the remote West, then by attempts to remove or coax him from Alexandria. But Athanasius was in an impregnable position, and when at last the city was seized by the coup de main of 356, from his hidings places in Egypt he was more inaccessible still, more secure in his defence, more free to attack. Now the extraordinary development of Egyptian Monachism must be placed in the first rank of the causes which strengthened Athanasius in Egypt. The institution was already firmly rooted there (cf. p. 190), and Pachomius, a slightly older contemporary of Athanasius himself, had converted a sporadic manifestation of the ascetic impulse into an organised form of Community Life. Pachomius himself had died on May 9, 346 (infr. p. lx., note 3, and p. 569, note 3: cf). Theolog. Literaturztg. 1890, p. 622), but Athanasius was welcomed soon after his arrival by a deputation from the Society of Tabenne, who also conveyed a special message from the aged Antony. Athanasins placed himself at the head of the monastic movement, and we cannot doubt that while he won the enthusiastic devotion of these dogged and ardent Copts, his influence on the movement tended to restrain extravagances and to correct the morbid exaltation of the monastic ideal. It is remarkable that the only letters which survive from this decade (pp. 556–560) are to monks, and that they both support what has just been said. The army of Egyptian monks was destined to become a too powerful weapon, a scandal and a danger to the Church: but the monks were the main secret of the power and ubiquitous activity of Athanasius in his third exile, and that power was above all built up during the golden decade.
Coupled with the growth of monachism is the transformation of the episcopate. The great power enjoyed by the Archbishop of Alexandria made it a matter of course that in a prolonged episcopate discordant elements would gradually vanish and unanimity increase. This was the case under Athanasius: but the unanimity reflected in the letter ad Afros had practically already come about in the year of the return of Ath. from Aquileia, when nearly every bishop in Egypt signed the Sardican letter (p. 127; the names include the new bishops of 346–7 in Letter 19, with one or two exceptions). Athanasius not infrequently (pp. 559 sq. and Vit. Pach. 72) filled up vacancies in the episcopate from among the monks, and Serapion of Thmuis, his most trusted suffragan, remained after his elevation in very close relation with the monasteries.
Athanasius consecrated bishops not only for Egypt, but for the remote Abyssinian kingdom of Auxume as well. The visit of Frumentius to Alexandria, and his consecration as bishop for Auxume, are referred by Rufinus i. 9 (Socr. 1,19, &c). to the beginning of the episcopate of Athanasius. But the chronology of the story (Gwatkin, pp. 93 sqq., D.C.B. 2,236 where the argument is faulty) forbids this altogether, while the letter of Constantius (p. 250) is most natural if the consecration of Frumentius were then a comparatively recent matter, scarcely intelligible if it had taken place before the ‘deposition’ of Athan. by the council of Tyre. Athanasius had found Egypt distracted by religious dissensions; but by the time of the third exile we hear very little of Arians excepting in Alexandria itself (see (p. 564); the ‘Arians’ of the rest of Egypt were the remnant of the Meletians, whose monks are still mentioned by Theodoret (cf. An incident the growing numbers of the Alexandrian Church during this period is the which shows necessity which arose at Easter in one year of using the unfinished Church of the Caesareum (for its history cf. p. 243, note 6, anti Hist. Aceph. vi., Fest. Ind. xxxvii., xxxviii., xl). owing to the vast crowds of worshippers. The Church was a gift of Constantius, and had been begun by Gregory, and its use before completion and dedication was treated by the Arians as an act of presumption and disrespect on the part of Athanasius).
(2). But while all was so happy in Egypt, the ‘profound peace’ of the rest of the Church was more apparent than real. The temporary revulsion of feeling on the part of Constantius, the engrossing urgency of the Persian war, the readiness of Constans to use his formidable power to secure justice to the Nicene bishops in the East, all these were causes which compelled peace, while leaving the deeper elements of strife to smoulder untouched. The riva depositions and anathemas of the hostile Councils remained without effect. Valens was in possession at Mursa, Photinus at Sirmium. Marcellus was, probably, not at Ancyra (Zahn 82); but the Arians deposed at Sardica were all undisturbed, while Athanasius was more firmly established than ever at Alexandria. On the whole, the Episcopate of the East was entirely in the hands of the reaction—the Nicene element, often large, among the laity was in many cases conciliated with difficulty. This is conspicuously the case at Antioch, where the temporising policy of Leontius managed to retain in communion a powerful body of orthodox Christians, headed by Diodorus and Flavian, whose energy neutralised the effect of his own steadily Arian policy (particulars, Gwatkin, pp. 133, sqq., Newman, Arians , p. 455—from Thdt. H. E. ii. 24). The Eustathian schism at Antioch was, apparently, paralleled by a Marcellian schism at Ancyra, but such cases were decidedly the exception.
Of the mass of instances where the bishops were not Arian but simply conservative, the Church of Jerusalem is the type. We have the instructions given to the Catechumens of this city between 348 and 350 by Cyril, who in the latter year (Hort, p. 92) became bishop, and whose career is typical of the rise and development of so-called semi-Arianism. Cyril, like the conservatives generally, is strongly under the influence of Origen (see (Caspari 4,146–162, and of. the Catechesis in Heurtley de Fid. et Symb. 62 with the Regula Fidel in Orig). de Princ. i). The instructions insist strongly on the necessity of scriptural language, and while contradicting the doctrines of Acius (without mentioning his name; cf. Athanasius on Marcellus and Photinus in pp. 433–447) Cyril tacitly protests against the dmoonsion as of human contrivance (Cat. 5,12), and uses in preference the words ‘like to the Father according to the Scriptures’ or ‘in all thing.’ This language is that of Athanasius also, especially in his earlier works (pp. 84) sqq)., but in the latter phase of the controversy, especially in the Dated Creed of 359, which presents striking resemblances to Cyril’s Catecheses, it became the watchword of the party of reaction. The Church of Jerusalem then was orthodox substantially, but rejected the Nicene formula, and this was the case in the East generally, except where the bishops were positively Arian. All were aggrieved at the way in which the Eastern councils had been treated by the West, and smarted under a sense of defeat (cf. Bright, Introd. to Hist. Tr., p. xviii)..
Accordingly the murder of Constans in 350 was the harbinger of renewed religious discord. For a time the political future was doubtful. Magnentius, knowing what Athanasius had to fear from Constantius, made a bid for the support of Egypt. Clementius and Valens, two members of a deputation to Constantius, came round by way of Egypt to ascertain the disposition of the country, and especially of its Bishop. Athanasius received them with bitter lamentations for Constans, and, fearing the possibility of an invasion by Magnentius, he called upon his congregation to pray for the Eastern Emperor. The response was immediate and unanimous:‘O Christ, send help to Constantius’ (p. 242). The Emperor had, in fact, sought to secure the fidelity of Athanasius by a letter (pp. 247, 278), assuring him of his continued support. And until the defeat of Magnentius at Mursa, he kept his word. That victory, which was as decisive for Valens as it was for Constantius (Gibbon, 2,381, 3,66, ed. Smith), was followed up by a Council at Sirmium, which successfully ousted the too popular Photinus (cf. pp. 280, 298; on the appeal of Photinus, and the debate between him and Basil of Ancyra, apparently in 355, see Gwatkin, pp. 145 sq., note 6). This was made the occasion for a new onslaught upon Marcellus in the anathemas appended to a reissue of the ‘fourth Antiochene’ or Philippopolitan Creed (p. 465; on the tentative character of these anathemas as a polemical move, cf. Gwatkin, p. 147, note 1). The Emperor was occupied for more than a year with the final suppression of Magnentius (Aug. 10, 353), but ‘the first Winter after his victory, which he spent at Arles, was employed against an enemy more odious to him than the vanquished tyrant of Gaul’ (Gibbon).
It is unnecessary to detail the tedious and unedifying story of the councils of Aries and Milan. The former was a provincial council of Gaul, attended by legates of the Roman see. All present submissively registered the imperial condemnation of Athanasius. The latter, delayed till 355 by the Rhenish campaign of Constantius, was due to the request of Liberius, who desired to undo the evil work of his legates, and to the desire of the Emperor to follow up the verdict of a provincial with that of a more representative Synod. The number of bishops present was probably very small (the numbers in Socrates 2,36, Soz. 4,9, may refer to those who afterwards signed under compulsion, p. 280, cf. the case of Sardica, p. 127, note 10). The proceedings were a drama in three acts, first, submission, the legates protesting; secondly, stormy protest, after the arrival of Eusebius of Vercellae; thirdly, open coercion. The deposition of Athanasius was proffered to each bishop for signature, and, if he refused, a sentence of banishment was at once pronounced, the emperor sitting with the ‘velum’ drawn, much as though an English judge were to assume the black cap at the beginning of a capital trial. He cut short argument by announcing that ‘the was for the prosecution,’ and remonstrance by the sentence of exile (p. 299); the opep egw boulomai tonto kanwn put into his mouth by Athanasius (p. 281) represents at any rate the spirit of his proceedings as justly as does ‘la tradizione son’ io’ that of the autocrat of a more recent council. At this council no creed was put forth: until the enemy was dislodged from Alexandria the next step would be premature. But a band of exiles were sent in strict custody to the East, of some of whom we shall hear later on (pp. 561, 481, 281, cf. p. 256, and the excellent monograph of Kruger, Lucifer von Calaris, pp. 9–23).
Meanwhile, Athanasius had been peacefully pursuing his diocesan duties, but not without a careful outlook as the clouds gathered on the horizon. The prospect of a revival of the charges against him moved him to set in order an unanswerable array of documents, in proof, firstly of the unanimity, secondly of the good reason, with which he had been acquitted of them (see (p. 97). He had also, in view of revived assertions of Arianism, drawn up the two letters or memoranda on the rationale of the Nicene formula and on the opinion ascribed to his famous predecessor, Dionysius (the Apology was probably written about 351, the date of the de Decr., and de Sent. Dion.69 falls a little later). In 353 he began to apprehend danger, from the hopes with which the establishment of Constantius in the sole possession of the Empire was inspiring his enemies, headed by Valens in the West, and Acacius of Caesarea in the East. Accordingly, he despatched a powerful deputation to Constantius, who was then at Milan, headed by Serapion, his most trusted suffragan (cf. p. 560, note 3 a; p. 497, §3, copied by Soz. 4,9; Fest. Ind. xxv).. The legates sailed May 19, but on the 23rd Montanus, an officer of the Palace, arrived with an Imperial letter, declining to receive any legates, but granting an alleged request of Athanasius to be allowed to come to Italy (p. 245 sq).. As he had made no request of the kind, Athanasius naturally suspected a plot to entice him away from his stronghold. The letter of Constantius did not convey an absolute command, so Athanasius, protesting his willingness to come when ordered to do so, resolved to remain where he was for the present. ‘All the people were exceedingly troubled,’ according to our chroniclers. ‘In this year Montanus was sent against the bishop, but a tumult having been excited, he retired without effect.’ Two years and two months later, i.e., in July-Aug. 355 (p. 497), force was attempted instead of stratagem, which the proceedings of Arles had, of course, made useless. ‘In this year Diogenes, the Secretary of the Emperor, came with the intention of seizing the bishop,’ and ‘Diogenes pressed hard upon all, trying to dislodge the bishop from the city, and he afflicted all pretty severely; but on Sept. 470 he pressed sharply, and stormed a Church, and this he did continually for four months …until Dec. 23. But as the people and magistrates vehemently withstood Diogenes, he returned back without effect on the 23rd of December aforesaid’ (Fest. Ind. xxvii., Hist. Aceph. iii).. The fatal blow was clearly imminent. By this time the exiles had begun to arrive in the East, and rumours came71 that not even the powerful and popular Liberius, not even ‘Father’ Hosius himself, had been spared. Athanasius might well point out to Dracontius (p. 558) that in declining the bishopric of the ‘country district of Alexandria’ he was avoiding the post of danger. On the sixth of January the ‘Duke’ Syrianus arrived in Alexandria, concentrating in the city drafts from all the legions stationed in Egypt and Libya. Rumour was active as to the intentions of the commandant, and Athanasius felt justified in asking him whether he came with any orders from the Court. Syrianus replied that he did not, and Athanasius then produced the letter of Constantius referred to above (written 350–351). The magistrates and people joined in the remonstrance, and at last Syrianus. protested ‘by the life of Caesar’ that he would remain quiet until the matter had been referred to the Emperor. This restored confidence, and on Thursday night, Feb. 8, Athanasius was presiding at a crowded service of preparation for a Communion on the following morning (Friday after Septuagesima) in the Church of Theonas, which with the exception of the unfinished Caesareum was the largest in the city (p. 243). Suddenly the church was surrounded and the doors broken in, and just after midnight Syrianus and the ‘notary’ Hilary ‘entered with an infinite force of soldiers.’ Athanasius (his fullest account is p. 263) calmly took his seat upon the throne (in the recess of the apse), and ordered the deacon to begin the 136th psalm, the people responding at each verse ‘for His mercy endureth for ever.’ Meanwhile the soldiers crowded up to the chancel, and in spite of entreaties the bishop refused to escape until the congregation were in safety. He ordered the prayers to proceed, and only at the last moment a crowd of monks and clergy seized the Archbishop and managed to convey him in the confusion out of the church in a half-fainting state (protest of Alexandrians, p. 301), but thankful that he had been able to secure the escape of his people before his own (p. 264). From that moment Athanasius was lost to public view for ‘six years and fourteen days’ (Hist. Aceph., i.e., Mechir 13, 356-Mechir 27, 362), ‘for he remembered that which was written, Hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast (pp. 288, 252, 262). Constantius and the Arians had planned their blow with skill and delivered it with decisive effect. But they had won a ‘Cadmean Victory.’
68 See below).
69 In de Sent. Dion. 23, 24, Arius is spoken of in a way consistent with his being still alive. But the phase of the Arian controversy to which the tract relates begins a decade after Arius’ death, and we therefore follow the indications which class the de Sent. with the de Decr.
70 All the following dates are affected by Leap-Year, 355–6, see Table C, p. 501, and correct p. 246, note 3, to Jan. 6.
71 Definite information came only after Feb. 8, see p. 248).
328 The third exile of Athanasius marks the summit of his achievement. Its commencement is the triumph, its conclusion the collapse of Arianism. It is true that after the death of Constantius the battle went on with variations of fortune for twenty years, mostly under the reign of an ardently Arian Emperor (364–378). But by 362 the utter lack of inner coherence in the Arian ranks was manifest to all; the issue of the fight might be postponed by circumstances but could not be in doubt. The break-up of the Arian power was due to its own lack of reality: as soon as it had a free hand, it began to go to pieces. But the watchful eye of Athanasius followed each step in the process from his hiding-place, and the event was greatly due to his powerful personality and ready pen, knowing whom to overwhelm and whom to conciliate, where to strike and where to spare. This period then of forced abstention from affairs was the most stirring in spiritual and literary activity in the whole life of Athanasius. It produced more than half of the treatises which fill this volume, and more than half of his entire extant works. With this we shall have to deal presently; but let it be noted once for all how completely the amazing power wielded by the wandering fugitive was based upon the devoted fidelity of Egypt to its pastor. Towns and villages, deserts and monasteries, the very tombs were scoured by the Imperial inquisitors in the search for Athanasius; but all in vain; not once do we hear of any suspicion of betrayal. The work of the golden decade was bearing its fruit.
(1). On leaving the church of Theonas, Athanasius appears to have made his escape from the city. If for once we may hazard a conjecture, the numerous cells of the Nitrian desert offered a not too distant but fairly inpenetrable refuge. He must at any rate have selected a place where he could gain time to reflect on the situation, and above all ensure that he should be kept well informed of events from time to time. For in Athanasius we never see the panic-stricken outlaw; he is always the general meditating his next movement and full of the prospects of his cause. He made up his mind to appeal to Constantius in person. He could not believe that an Emperor would go back upon his solemn pledges, especially such a voluntary assurance as he had received after the death of Constans. Accordingly he drew up a carefully elaborated defence (Ap. Const. 1–26) dealing with the four principal charges against him, and set off through the Libyan72 desert with the intention of crossing to Italy and finding Constantius at Milan. But while he was on his way, he encountered rumours confirming the reports of the wholesale banishment not only of the recalcitrants of Milan, but of Liberius of Rome and the great Hosius of Spain. Next came the news of the severe measures against Egyptian bishops, and of the banishment of sixteen of their number, coupled with the violence practised by the troops at Alexandria on Easter Day (p. 248 sq).; however, his journey was continued, until he received copies of letters from the Emperor, one denouncing him to the Alexandrians and recommending a new bishop, one George, as their future guide, the other summoning the princes of Auxumis to send Frumentius (supr. p. xlviii). to Egypt in order that he might unlearn what he had been taught by ‘the most wicked Athanasius’ and receive instruction from the ‘venerable George.’ These letters, which shew how completely the pursuers were off the scent (p. 249), convinced Athanasius that a personal interview was out of the question. He returned into the desert,’ and at leisure completed his apology (pp. 249–253), with the view partly of possible future delivery, partly no doubt of literary circulation. Before turning back, however, he appears to have drawn up his letter to the bishops of Egypt and Libya, warning them against the formula (see (p. 222) which was being tendered for their subscription, and encouraging them to endure persecution, which had already begun at least in Eibya (Ep. Aeg.); the designation of George (§7) was already known, but he had not arrived, nor had Secundus (19) reappeared in Egypt, at any rate not in Libya (he was there in Lent, 357, p. 294). The letter to the bishops, then, must have been written about Easter, 356; not long after, because it contains no details of the persecution in Egypt; not before, for the persecution had already begun, and Athanasius was already in Cyrenaica, whence he turned back not earlier than April (to allow time for Constantius (1) to hear that Athanasius was thought to have fled to Ethiopia, (2) to write to Egypt, (3) for copies of the letter to overtake Athanasius on his way to Italy. Constantius was at Milan Jan.-April).
Meanwhile in Alexandria disorders had continued. The ‘duke’ appears to have been either unable for a time, or to have thought it needless, to take possession of the churches; but we hear of a violent dispersion of worshippers from the neighbourhood of the cemetery on Easter Day (p. 249, cf. the Virgins after Syrianus but before Heraclius, p. 288); while throughout Egypt subscription to an Arianising formula was being enforced on the bishops under pain of expulsion. After Easter, a change of governor took place, Maximus of Nicaea (pp. 301 sqq., 247) being succeeded by Cataphronius, who reached Alexandria on the 10th of June (Hist. Aceph. iv).. He was accompanied by a Count Heraclius, who brought a letter from Constantius threatening the heathen with severe measures (pp. 288, 290), unless active hostilities against the Athanasian party were begun (this letter was not the one given p. 249; Ath. rightly remarks ‘it reflected great discredit upon the writer’). Heraclius announced that by Imperial order the Churches were to be given up to the Arians, and compelled all the magistrates, including the functionaries of heathen temples, to sign an undertaking to execute the Imperial incitements to persecution, and to agree to receive as Bishop the Emperor’s nominee. These incredible precautions shew the general esteem for Athanasius even outside the Church, and the misgivings felt at Court as to the reception of the new bishop. The Gentiles reluctantly agreed, and the next acts of violence were carried out with their aid, ‘or rather with that of the more abandoned among them’ (p. 291). On the fourth day from the arrival of Cataphronius, that is in the early hours of Thursday, June 13, after a service (which had began overnight, pp. 290, 256 fin., Hist. Aceph. 5,), just as all the congregation except a few women had left, the church of Theonas was stormed and violences perpetrated which left far behind anything that Syrianus had done. Women were murdered, the church wrecked and polluted with the very worst orgies of heathenism, houses and even tombs were ransacked throughout the city and suburbs on pretence of ‘seeking for Athanasius.’ Sebastian the Manichee, who about this time succeeded to the military command of Syrianus, appears to have carried on these outrages with the utmost zest (yet see Hist. Ar. 60). Many more bishops were driven into exile (compare the twenty-six of p. 297 with the ‘sixteen’ p. 248, but some may belong to a still later period, see p. 257), and the Arian bishops and clergy installed, including the bitterly vindictive Secundus in Libya (p. 257). The formal transfer of churches at Alexandria took place on Saturday, June 15 (infr.,p. 290, note 9): the anniversary of Eutychius (p. 292) was kept at Alexandria on July II, (Martyrol. Vetust. Ed. 1668). After a further delay of ‘eight months and eleven days’ George, the new bishop, made his appearance (Feb. 24, 35773 , third Friday in Lent). His previous career74 and character75 were strange qualifications for the second bishopric in Christendom. He had been a pork-contractor at Constantinople, and according to his many enemies a fraudulent one; he had amassed considerable wealth, and was a zealous Arian. His violent temper perhaps recommended him as a man likely to crush the opposition that was expected. The history of his episcopate may be briefly disposed of here. He entered upon his See in Lent, 357, with an armed force. At Easter he renewed the violent persecution of bishops, clergy, virgins, and lay people. In the week after Pentecost he let loose the cruel commandant Sebastian against a number of persons who were worshipping at the cemetery instead of communicating with himself; many were killed, and many more banished. The expulsion of bishops (‘over thirty,’ p. 257, cf. other reff. above) was continued (the various data of Ath. are not easy to reconcile, the first 16 of p. 257 may be the ‘sixteen’ of p. 248, before Easter, 356: we miss the name of Scrapion in all the lists 1) Theodore, Bishop of Oxyrynchus, the largest town of middle Egypt, upon submitting to George, was compelled by him to submit to reordination. The people refused to have anything more to do with him, and did without a bishop for a long time, until they obtained a pastor in one Heraclides, who is said to have become a ‘Luciferian.’ (Cf). Lib. Prec., and Le Quien 2,p. 578). George carried on his tyranny eighteen months, till Aug. 29, 358. His fierce insults against Pagan worship were accompanied by the meanest and most oppressive rapacity. At last the populace, exasperated by his ‘adder’s bites’ (Ammian)., attacked him, and he was rescued with difficulty. On Oct. 2 he left the town, and the party of Athanasius expelled his followers from the churches on Oct. 11, but on Dec. 24, Sebastian came in from the country and restored the churches to the people of George. On June 23, 359, ‘the notary Paul’ (‘in complicandis calumniarum nexibus artifex dirus, unde ei Catenae inditum est cognomentum,’ Ammian. Marc. XIV. 5,, XV. iii)., the Jeffreys of the day, held a commission of blood, and. ‘vindictively punished many76 .’ George was at this time busy with the councils of Seleucia and Constantinople (he was not actually present at the latter, Thdt). H. E. ii. 28), and was in no hurry to return. At last, just after the death of Constantius, he ventured back, Nov. 26, 361, but on the proclamation of Julian on Nov. 30 was seized by the populace and thrown into chains; on Dec. 24, ‘impatient of the tedious forms of judicial proceedings,’ the people dragged him from prison and lynched him with the utmost ignominy.
Athanasius meanwhile eluded all search. During part of the year 357–358 he was in concealment in Alexandria itself, and he was supposed to be there two years later (Fest. Ind. xxx., xxxii.; the latter gives some colour to the tale of Palladius—cf. Soz. 5,6—of his having during part of this period remained concealed in the house of a Virgin of the church), but the greater part of his time was undoubtedly spent in the numberless cells of Upper and Lower Egypt, where he was secure of close concealment, and of loyal and efficient messengers to warn him of danger, keep him informed of events, and carry his letters and writings far and wide. The tale of Rufinus (i. 18) that he lay hid all the six years in a dry cistern is probably a confused version of this general fact. The tombs of kings and private persons were at this time the common abode of monks (cf. p. 564, note 1; also Socr. 4,13, a similar mistake). Probably we must place the composition of the Life of Antony, the great classic of Monasticism, at some date during this exile, although the question is surrounded with difficulties (see (pp. 188 sqq.). The importance of the period, however, lies in the march of events outside Egypt. (For a brilliant sketch of the desert life of Athanasius see D.G.B. 1,194 sq.; also Bright, Hist. Treatises, p. 74,sq.)
(2). With the accession of Constantius to sole power, the anti-Nicene reaction at last had a free hand throughout the Empire. Of what elements did it now consist? The original reaction was conservative in its numerical strength, Arian in its motive power. The stream was derived from the two fountain heads of Paul of Samosata, the ancestor of Arius, and of Origen the founder of the theology of the Eastern Church generally and especially of that of Eusebius of Caesarea. Flowing from such heterogeneous sources, the two currents never thoroughly mingled. Common action, dictated on the one hand by dread of Sabellianism, manipulated on the other hand by wire-pullers in the interest of Arianism, united the East till after the death of Constantine in the campaign against the leaders of Nicaea. Then for the last ten years of the life of Constans, Arianism, or rather the Reaction, had its ‘stationary period’ (Newman). The chaos of creeds at the Council of Antioch (supr. p. xliv). shewed the presence of discordant aims; but opposition to Western interference, and the urgent panic of Photinus and his master, kept them together: the lead was still taken by the Arianisers, as is shewn by the continued prominence of the fourth Antiochene Creed at Philippopolis (343), Antioch (344), and Sirmium (351). But the second or Lucianic Creed was on record as the protest of the conservative majority, and was not forgotten. Yet until after 351, when Photinus was finally got rid of and Constantius master of the world, the reaction was still embodied in a fairly compact and united party. But now the latent heterogeneity of the reaction began to make itself felt. Differing in source and motive, the two main currents made in different directions. The influence of Aristotle and Paul and Lucian set steadily toward a harder and more consistent Arianism, that of Plato and the Origenists toward an understanding with the Nicenes.
(a.) The original Arians, now gradually dying out, were all tainted with compromise and political sub-serviency. Arius, Asterius, Eusebius of Nicomedia, and the rest (Secundus and Theonas are the solitary exception), were all at one time or another, and in different degrees, willing to make concessions and veil their more objectionable tenets under some evasive confession. But in many cases temporary humiliation produced its natural result in subsequent uncompromising defiance. This is exemplified in the history of Valens and Ursacius after 351. Valens, especially, figures as the head of a new party of ‘Anomoeans’ or ultra-Arians. The rise of this party is associated with the name of Aetius, its after-history with that of his pupil Eunomius, bishop of Cyzicus from 361. It was marked by a genuine scorn for the compromises of earlier Arianism, from which it differed in nothing except its more resolute sincerity. The career of Aetius (D.C.B. 1,50, sqq.) was that of a struggling, self-made, self-confident man. A pupil of the Lucianists (supr., p. xxviii)., he shrunk from none of the irreverent conclusions of Arianism. His loud voice and clear-cut logic lost none of their effect by fear of offending the religious sensibilities of others. In 350 Leontius ordained him deacon, with a licence to preach, at Antioch; but Flavian and Diodorus (see (above, §7) raised such a storm that the cautious bishop felt obliged to suspend him. On the appointment of George he was invited to Alexandria, whither Eunomius was attracted by his fame as a teacher. His influence gradually spread, and he found many kindred spirits among the bishops. The survivors of the original Arians were with him at heart, as also were men like Eudoxius, bishop of Germanicia (of Antioch, 358, of CP. 360), who fell as far behind Aetius in sincerity as he surpassed him in profanity; the Anomoeans (anomoio") were numerically strong, and morally even more so; they were the wedge which eventually broke up the reactionary mass, rousing the sincere horror of the Conservatives, commanding the sometimes dissembled but always real sympathy of the true Arians, and seriously embarrassing the political Arians, whose one aim was to keep their party together by disguising differences of principle under some convenient phrase.
(b.) This latter party were headed by Acacius in the East and in the West by Valens, who while in reality, as stated above, making play for the Anomoean cause, was diplomatist enough to use the influential ‘party of no principle’ as his instrument for the purpose. Valens during the whole period of the sole reign of Constantius (and in fact until his own death about 375) was the heart and soul of the new and last phase of Arianism, namely of the formal attempt to impose an Arian creed upon the Church in lieu of that of Nicaea. But this could only be done by skilful use of less extreme men, and in the trickery and statecraft necessary for such a purpose Valens was facile princeps. His main supporter in the East was Acacius, who had succeeded to the bishoprick, the library, and the doctrinal position of his preceptor Eusebius of Caesarea. The latter, as we saw (p. 27,note 5), represented ‘the extreme left’ of the conservative reaction, meeting the right wing, or rather the extreme concessions, of pure Arianism as represented by its official advocate Asterius, whom in fact Eusebius had defended against the onslaught of Marcellus. In so far then as the stream of pure Arianism could be mingled with the waters of Conservatism, Acacius was the channel in which they joined. Eusebius had not been an Arian, neither was Acacius; Eusebius had theological convictions, but lacked clearness of perception, Acacius was a clear-headed man but without convictions; Eusebius was substantially conservative in his theology, but tainted with political Arianism; Acacius was a political Arian first, and anything you please afterwards. On the whole, his sympathies seem to have been conservative, but he manifests a rooted dislike of principle of any kind. He appoints orthodox bishops (Philost. 5,1), but quarrels with them as soon as he encounters their true mettle, Cyril in 358, Meletius in 361; he befriends Arians, but betrays the too honest Aetius in 360. His ecclesiastical career begins with the council of four creeds in 341; in controversy with Marcellus he developed the concessions of Asterius till he almost reached the Nicene standard; he hailed effusively the Anomoean Creed of Valens in 358 (Soz. 4,12), and in 359–60 forced that of Nike in its amended form upon the Eastern Church far and wide. He is next heard of, signing the Omoousion, in 363, and lastly (Socr. 4,2) under Valens is named again along with Eudoxius. The real opinions of a man with such a record are naturally not easy to determine, but we may be sure that he was in thorough sympathy with the policy of Constantius, namely the union of all parties in the Church on the basis of subserviency to the State.
The difficulty was to find a formula. The test of Nicaea could not be superseded without putting something in its place, which should include Arianism as effectually as the other had excluded it. Such a test was eventually (after 357) found in the word omoio"77 . It was a word with a good Catholic history. We find it used freely by Athanasius in his earlier anti-Arian writings, and it was thoroughly current in conservative theology, as for example in Cyril’s Catecheses (he has omoion kata ta" grafa" and omoion kata panta). It would therefore permit even the full Nicene belief. On the other hand many of the more earnest conservative theologians had begun to reflect on what was involved in the ‘likeness’ of the Son to the Father, and had formulated the conviction that this likeness was essential, not, as the Arians held, acquired. This was in fact a fair inference from the ousua" aparallakton eikona of the Dedication Creed. This question made an agreement between men like Valens and Basil difficult, but it could be evaded by keeping to the simple omoion, and deprecating non-scriptural precision. Lastly, there were the Anomoeans to be considered. Now the omoion had the specious appearance of flatly contradicting this repellent avowal of the extremists; but to Valens and his friends it had the substantial recommendation of admitting it in reality. ‘Likeness’ is a relative term. If two things are only ‘like’ they are ipso facto to some extent unlike; the two words are not contradictories but correlatives, and if the likeness is not essential, the unlikeness is. So far then as the ‘Homoean’ party rested on any doctrinal principle at all, that principle was the principle of Arius; and that is how Valens forwarded the Anomoean cause by putting himself at the head of the Homoeans. His plan of campaign had steadily matured. The deposition of Photinus in 351 had sounded the note of war, Aries and Milan (353–5) and the expulsion of Athanasius (356) had cleared the field of opponents, George was now in possession at Alexandria, and in the summer of 357 the triumph of Arianism was proclaimed. A small council of bishops met at Sirmium and published a Latin Creed, insisting strongly (1) on the unique Godhead of the Father, (2) on the subjection of the Son ‘along with all things subjected to Him by the Father,’ and (3) strictly proscribing the terms omoousion, omoiousion, and all discussion of ousiu, as unscriptural and inscrutable.
This manifesto was none the less Anomoean for not explicitly avowing the obnoxious phrase. It forbids the definition of the ‘likeness’ as essential, and does not even condescend to use the omoion at all. The Nicene definition is for the first time overtly and bluntly denounced, and the ‘conservatives’ are commanded to hold their peace. The ‘Sirmium blasphemy’ was indeed a trumpet-blast of defiance. The echo came back from the Homoeans assembled at Antioch, whence Eudoxius the new bishop, Acacius, and their friends addressed the Pannonians with a letter of thanks. But the blast heralded the collapse of the Arian cause; the Reaction ‘fell to pieces the moment Arianism ventured to have a policy of its own’ (Gwatkin, p. 158, the whole account should be consulted). Not only did orthodox Gaul, under Phoebadius of Agen, the most stalwart of the lesser men whom Milan had spared, meet in synod and condemn the blasphemy, but the conservative East was up in arms against Arianism, for the first time with thorough spontaneity. Times were changed indeed; the East was at war with the Wests but on the side of orthodoxy against Arianism.
(c) We must now take account of the party headed by Basil of Ancyra and usually (since Epiphanius), but with some injustice, designated as Semi-Arians. Their theological ancestry and antecedents have been already sketched (pp. xxvii., xxxv).; they are the representatives of that conservatism, moulded by the neo-Asiatic, or modified Origenist tradition, which warmly condemned Arianism at Nicaea, but acquiesced with only half a heart in the test by which the Council resolved to exclude it. They furnished the numerical strength, the material basis so to call it, of the anti-Nicene reaction; but the reaction on their part had not been Arian in principle, but in part anti-Sabellian, in part the empirical conservatism of men whose own principles are vague and ill-assorted, and who fail to follow the keener sight which distinguishes the higher conservatism from the lower. They lent themselves to the purposes of the Eusebians (a name which ought to be dropped after 342) on purely negative grounds and in view of questions of personal rights and accusations. A positive doctrinal formula they did not possess. But in the course of years reflexion did its work. A younger generation grew up who had not been taught to respect Nicaea, nor yet had imbibed Arian principles. Cyril at Jerusalem, Meletius at Antioch, are specimens of a large class. The Dedication Creed at Antioch represents an early stage in the growth of this body of conviction, conviction not absolutely uniform everywhere, as the result shews, but still with a distinct tendency to settle down to a formal position with regard to the great question of the age. There was nothing in the Nicene doctrine that men like this did not hold: but the word omoousion opened the door to the dreaded Sabellian error: was not the history of Marcellus and Photinus a significant comment upon it? But if ousia meant not individuality, but specific identity (supr., p. 31,sq.) even this term might be innocently admitted. But to make that meaning plain, what was more effective than the insertion of an iota? JOmoiousio", then, was the satisfactory test which would banish Arius and Marcellus alike. Who first used the word for the purpose, we do not know, but its first occurrence is its prohibition in the ‘blasphemy’ of Valens in 357. The leader of the ‘semi-Arians’ in 357 was Basil of Ancyra, a man of deep learning and high character. George of Laodicea, an original Arian, was in active but short-lived78 alliance with the party, other prominent members of it were Eustathius, Bishop of Sebaste (Sivas), Eleusius of Cyzicus, Macedonius of Constantinople, Eusebius of Emesa, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Marc of Arethusa, a high-minded but violent man, who represents the ‘left’ wing of the party as Cyril and Basil represent the ‘right.’
Now the ‘trumpet-blast’ of Valens gave birth to the ‘Semi-Arians’ as a formal party. An attempt was made to reunite the reaction on a Homoean basis in 359, but the events of that year made the breach more open than ever. The tendency towards the Nicene position which received its impulse in 357 continued unchecked until the Nicene cause triumphed in Asia in the hands of the ‘conservatives’ of the next generation.
Immediately after the Acacian Synod at Antioch early in 358, George of Laodicea, who had reasons of his own for indignation against Eudoxius, wrote off in hot haste to warn Basil of the fearful encouragement that was being given to the doctrines of Aetius in that city. Basil, who was in communication (through Hilary) with Phoebadius and his colleagues, had invited twelve neighbouring bishops to the dedication of a church in Ancyra at this time, and took the opportunity of drawing up a synodical letter insisting on the Essential Likeness of the Son to the Father (omoion kat ousian), and eighteen anathemas directed against Marcellus and the Anomoeans. (The censure of omoousion h tautoousion is against the Marcellian sense of the omoousion). Basil, Eustathius, and Eleusius then proceeded to the Court at Sirmium and were successful in gaining the ear of the Emperor, who at this time had a high regard for Basil, and apparently obtained the ratification by a council, at which Valens, &c., were present, of a composite formula of their own (Newman’s ‘semi-Arian digest of three Confessions’) which was also signed by Liberius, who was thereupon sent back to Rome. (Soz. 4,15 is our only authority here, and his account of the formula is not very clear: he seems to mean that two, not three, confessions were combined. (Cf. p. 449, note 4). On the whole, it is most probable that the ‘fourth’ Antiochene formula in its Sirmian recen-sion of 351 is intended, perhaps with the addition of twelve of the Ancyrene anathemas. (The question of the signatures of Liberius need not detain us). The party of Valens were involved in sudden and unlooked-for discomfiture. Basil even succeeded in obtaining a decree of banishment against Eudoxius, Aetius, and ‘seventy’ others (Philost. 4,8). But an Arian deputation from Syria procured their recall, and all parties stood at bay in mutual bitterness.
Now was the opportunity of Valens. He saw the capabilities of the Homoean compromise, as yet embodied in no creed, and resolved to try it: and his experiment was not unsuccessful. All parties alike seem to have agreed upon the necessity for a council of the whole Church (on the origin of the proposal, and for other details, see p. 448). But Valens was determined what the result of the council must be. Accordingly he prevailed on the Emperor to divide it, the Western Synod to meet at Ariminum, the Eastern at ‘Rocky Seleucia,’ a mountain fortress in Cilicia where there happened to be plenty of troops. The management of the latter was entrusted to Acaciusat Rimini Valens would be present in person. In event of the two synods differing, a delegation of ten bishops from each was to meet at Court and settle the matter. The Creed to be adopted had also to be arranged before. hand, and for this purpose, to his great discredit, Basil of Ancyra entered into a conference (along with Marc of Arethusa and certain colleagues) with Valens, George of Alexandria, and others of like mind. The result was the ‘Dated Creed’ (May 22, 359) drawn by Mark, prohibiting the word ousia (in a gentler tone than that of the creed of Valens in 357), but containing the definition omoion kata panta (‘as also the Scriptures teach,’ see above, on Cyril, p. xlix)., words which Valens and Ursacius sought to suppress. But Constantius insisted on their retention, and Basil emphasised his subscription by a strongly-worded addition. Moreover in conjunction with George of Laodicea he drew up a memorandum (Epiph. 72, 12–22) vindicating the term ousia as implied in Scripture, insisting on the absolute essential likeness of the Son to the Father, except in respect of the Incarnation, and repudiating the idea that agennhsia is the essential notion of Godhead. Such a protest was highly significant as an approach to the Nicene position, but Basil must have felt its inefficiency for the purpose in hand. Had the creed been anything but a surrender of principle on his part, no explanatory memoranda would have been needed.
After the fiasco of the Dated Creed, the issue of the Councils was not doubtful. The details may be reserved for another place (pp. 448, 453 sqq.), but the general result is noteworthy. At both Councils the court party were in a minority, and in both alike they eventually had their way. (See Bright, Hist. Tr. lxxxiv.—xc., and Gwatkin, 170—180). On the whole the Seleucian synod came out of the affair more honourably than the other, as their eventual surrender was confined to their delegates. Both Councils began bravely. The majorities deposed their opponents and affirmed their own faith, the Westerns that of Nicaea, the Easterns that of the Dedication. From both Councils deputations from each rival section went to the Emperor, who was now at Constantinople. The deputies from the majority at Ariminum, where the meeting had begun fully two months before the other, were not received, but detained first at Hadrianopic, then at Nike in Thrace (chosen, says Socr. 2,37, to impose on the world by the name), where they were induced to sign a recension of the Dated Creed (the Creed itself had been revoked and recast without the date and perhaps without the kata panta before the preliminary meeting at Sirmium broke up, p. 466) of a more distinctly Homoean character. Armed with this document Valens brought them back to the Council, and ‘by threats and cajolery’ obtained the signatures of nearly all the bishops. Yet the stalwart Phoebadius, Claudius of Picenum, the venerable African Muzonius, father of the Council, and a few others, were undaunted. But Valens, by adroit dissimulation and by guiding into a manageable shape the successive anathematisms by which his orthodoxy was tested, managed to deceive these simple-minded Westerns, and with applause and exultation, ‘plausu quodam et tripudio’ (Jer)., amidst which ‘Valens was lauded to the skies’ (!), the bishops were released from their wearisome detention and suspense. But Valens ‘cum recessisset tunc gloriabatur’ (Pr 20,14). The Western bishops realised too late what they had done, ‘Ingemuit totus orbis, etse Arianum esse miratus est.’ Valens hurried with the creed and the anathemas of Phoebadius to Constantinople, where he found the Seleucian deputies in hot discussion at court. The Eastern bishops at Seleucia had held to the ‘Lucianit’ creed, and contemptuously set aside not only the Acacian alternative (p. 466), but the whole compromise of Basil and Marc at the Sirmian conference of the preceding May. The ‘Conservatives’ and Acacians were at open war. But the change of the seat of war to the court gave the latter the advantage, and Valens and Acacius were determined to secure their position at any cost. The first step was to compel the signature of the ‘semi-Arian’ deputies to the creed of Ariminum. This was facilitated by the renewal on the part of Acacius and Valens of their repudiation, already announced at Seleucia (p. 466), of the AEAnomoion, (of course with the mental reservation that the repudiation referred only to will). Even so, tedious discussions79 , and the threats of Constantins, with whom Basil had now lost all his influence (Thdt. 2,27), were needed to bring about the required compliance late at night on New Year’s Eve, 359—360 (Soz. 4,23). In January, at the dedication of the Great Church of Constantine, the second step was taken. The revised creed of Nike was reissued without the anathemas of Ariminum. Aetius was offered by his friend Eudoxius as a sacrifice to the Emperor’s scruples (see (the account of the previous debates in Thdt). ubi supra), much as Arius had been sacrificed by his fellow-Lucianists at Nicaea (§2 supra: nine bishops protested, but were allowed six months to reconsider their objection; the six months lasted two years, and then a reconciliation with Actius took place for a time, Philost. 7,6). Next a clean sweep was made of the leading semi-Arians on miscellaneous charges (Soz. iv. 24, sq.), and Eudoxius was installed as bishop of the New Rome in the place of Macedonius. The sacrifice of Actins gave the Homocans a free hand against their opponents, and was compensated by the appointment of numerous Anomoeans to vacant sees. In particular Eunomius replaced Eleusius at Cyzicus. In the eastern half of the Empire Homoeanism was supreme, and remained so politically for nearly twenty years. But not in the West. Before the Council of Constantinople met, the power of the West had passed away from Constantius. Gaul had acknowledged Julian as Augustus, and from Gaul came the voice of defiance for the Homoean leaders and sympathy for their deposed opponents (Hil. Frag. xi).. And even in the East, throughout their twenty years the Homoeans retained their hold upon the Church by a dead hand. ‘The moral strength of Christendom lay elsewhere;’ on the one hand the followers of Eunomius were breaking loose from Eudoxius and forming a definitely Aden sect, those of Macedonius crystallising their cruder conservatism into the illogical creed of the ‘Pneumatomachi;’ on the other hand the second generation of the ‘semi-Arians’ were, under the influence of Athanasius, working their way to the Greek Catholicism of the future, the Catholicism of the neo-Nicene school, of Basil and the two Gregories.
The lack of inner cohesion in the Homoean ranks was exemplified at the start in the election of a new bishop for Antioch. Eudoxius had vacated the see for that of New Rome; Anianus, the nominee of the Homoeusian majority of Seleucia, was out of the question; accordingly at a Council in 361 the Acacians fixed upon Meletius, who had in the previous year accepted from the Homoeans of CP. the See of Sebaste in the room of the exiled Eustathius. The new Bishop was requested by the Emperor to preach on the test passage Pr 8,22. This he did to a vast anti eagerly expectant congregation. To the delight of the majority (headed by Diodorus and Flavian), although he avoided the omousion, he spoke with no uncertain sound on the essential likeness of the Son to the Father. Formally ‘Nicene,’ indeed, the sermon was not (text in Epiph). Hoer. lxxiii. 29–33, see Hort, p. 96, note 1), but the dismay of the Homoean bishops equalled the joy of the Catholic laity. Meletius was ‘deposed’ in favour of the old Arian Euzoius (infr., p. 70), and after his return under Jovian gave in his formal adhesion to the Nicene test.
(3). The history of Athanasius during this period is the history of his writings. Hidden from all but devotedly loyal eyes, whether in the cells of Nitria and the Thebaid, or lost in the populous solitude of his own city, he followed with a keen and comprehensive glance the march of events outside. Two men in this age had skill to lay the physician’s finger upon the pulse of religious conviction; Hilary, the Western who had learned to understand and sympathise with the East, Athanasius, the Oriental representative of the theological instincts of the West. First of all came the writings of which we have spoken, the circular to the bishops and the Apology to Constantius; then the dignified Apology for his flight, written not long before the expulsion of George late in 358, when he had begun to realise the merciless enmity and profound duplicity of the Emperor. We find him not long after this in correspondence with the exiled confessor, Lucifer of Calaris (pp. 561 sq.,481 sqq.), and warning the Egyptian monks against compromising relations with Arian visitors (Letter 53, a document of high interest), narrating to the trusted Scrapion the facts as to the death of Arius, and sending to the monks a concise refutation of Arian doctrine (Letters 52, 54). With the latter is associated a reissue of the Apology of 351, and, as a continuation of it, the solitary monument of a less noble spirit which Athanasius has left us, the one work which we would gladly believe to have come from any other pen80 . But this supposition is untenable, and in the ferocious pamphlet against Constantius known as the Arian History we are reminded that noble as he was, our saint yet lived in an age of fierce passions and reckless personal violence. The Arian History has its noble features—no work of Athanasius could lack them—but it reveals not the man himself but his generation; his exasperation, and the meanness of his persecutors. (For details on all these tracts see the Introductions and notes to them). None of the above books directly relate to the doctrinal developments sketched above. But these developments called forth the three greatest works of his exile, and indeed of his whole career). Firstly, the four Logoi or Tracts against Arianism, his most famous dogmatic work. Of these an account will be given in the proper place, but it may be noticed here that they are evidently written with a conciliatory as well as a controversial purpose, and in view of the position between 357 and 359). Next, the four dogmatic letters to Serapion, the second of which reproduces the substance of his position against the Arians, while the other three are devoted to a question overlooked in the earlier stages of the controversy, the Coessentiality of the Holy Spirit. This work may possibly have come after the third, and in some ways the most striking, of the series, the de Synodis written about the end of 359, and intended as a formal offer of peace to the Homoeusian party. Following as it did closely upon the conciliatory work of Hilary, who was present at Seleucia on the side of the majority, this magnanimous Eirenicon produced an immediate effect, which we trace in the letters of the younger Basil written in the same or following year; but the full effect and justification of the book is found in the influence exerted by Athanasius upon the new orthodoxy which eventually restored the ‘ten provinces’ to ‘the knowledge of God’ (Hil). de Syn. 63. Further details in Introd. to de Syn., infra, p. 448. It may be remarked that the romantic idea of his secret presence at Seleucia, and even at Ariminum, must be dismissed as a too rigid inference from an expression used by him in that work: see note 1 there).
This brings us to the close of the eventful period of the Third Exile, and of the long series of creeds which registers the variations of Arianism during thirty years. We may congratulate ourselves on ‘having come at last to the end of the labyrinth of expositions’ (Socr. 2,41), and within sight of the emergence of conviction out of confusion, of order out of chaos. The work of setting in order opens our next period. Of the exile there is nothing more to tell except its close. Hurrying from Antioch on his way from the Persian frontier to oppose the eastward march of Julian, Constantius caught a fever, was baptised by Euzoius, and died at Mopsucrenae under Mount Taurus, on Nov. 3, 361. Julian at once avowed the heathenism he had long cherished in secret, and by an edict, published in Alexandria on Feb. 9, recalled from exile all bishops banished by Constantius. ‘And twelve days after the posting of this edict Athanasius appeared at Alexandria and entered the Church on the twenty-seventh day of the same month, Mechir (Feb. 21). He remained in the Church until the twenty-sixth of Paophi (i.e., Oct. 23) …eight whole months’ (Hist. Aceph. 7,The murder of George has been referred to above, p. liii)..
72 The envoys of Magnentius had come from Italy through Libya in 350–351. The ‘desert’ (Apol. Const. 27, 32) must be the region between Alxa. and Cyrenaica, not Palestine as Tillem. 8,186, infers from Ep. Aeg. 5. There is no evidence that Ath. left his province during this exile, and Palestine was a most dangerous territory to venture into. The cautious vagueness of his language, Ep. Aeg. 5, while it baffles even our curiosity, yet favours the hypothesis that the events referred to belong to the Egyptian persecution).
73 This date, coming from the common source of the Historia Acephala and Festal Index (i.e. from the accredited Alexandrian chronology of the period), must be accepted unless there is cogent proof of its incorrectness. No such proof is offered: we have no positive statement to the contrary, but only (1) the fact that the intrusion of George is related, Apol. Fug. 6, immediately after an attack on the great church, possibly the coup de main of Syrianus, but more probably that of p. 290, note 9, without any hint of a long interval. This is true, and if there were no evidence the other way might justify a guess that George came in Lent, 356; but no one would claim that the passage is conclusive by itself; (2) the ‘improbability’ of George delaying his arrival so long. Improbability is a relative term; we know too little of George’s consecration or movements to justify its use in the present connection. All the evidence goes to shew that the court party were far from sanguine as to the nature of his reception, and that their misgivings were well-founded. The above considerations look very small when we compare them with the mass of positive evidence the other way. (1). The civil Governor had changed: Maximus held the post on Feb. 8, 356 (Hist. Ar. 81, &c)., Cataphronius when the churches were transferred to the party of George, see below, 6. (2). The military Commander had changed: Syrianus was replaced by Sebastian, who appears just after the transfer of churches, Hist. Ar. 55–60 (Dr. Bright in D.C.B. 1,194, note, seems to admit that Sebastian belongs to a later date than the Lent of 356). (3). The Wednesday (and Thursday) of Hist. Ar. 55 were not ‘in Lent.’ They suit the data of Hist. Aceph. perfectly well. (4). Had George arrived before Easter 356, Athan. would have heard of it ‘in the Desert,’ Apol. Const. 27; but he has only heard of his nomination wnomasqh 28, probably from the letters given in §§30, 31). (5). The Letter to the Egyptian bishops was written from Libya or Cyrenaica, when the coercion of the episcopate had begun: it postulates some time since his expulsion, but George was then (§7) only in contemplation. (6). There is no evidence that the coup de main of Syrianus was other than unpopular in the city. This was reported to Const., who after the (Easter) outrages on the Virgins (Ap. Const. 27; Hist. Ar. 48), and after the expulsion of the sixteen bishops (Hist. Ar. 54, this was probably about Easter, Ap. Const. 27) sent Heraclius (with the ‘discreditable’ letter), in whose company (Hist. Ar. 55) the new Prefect Cataphronius first appears. This let loose the refuse of the heathen population as described, ib. 55–60. (7). Hare the precise statement of the Hist. Aceph. fits in exactly. The Presbyters and people of Ath. remained in possession of the Churches until the arrival of the new Prefect, with Count Heraclius, on June 10. (8). Heraclius is expressly called the precursor of George (p. 288) and is evidently sent to disarm the reported hostility of the (even heathen) public to the appointment. It may be added that if we are to take ‘probabilities’ into account, it is easier to imagine a reason for a court nominee like George having been slow to take up a dangerous post, than for the Alexandrian chronologists of the day having invented a year’s interval when none had existed. Montfaucon had already noticed that ‘a good deal must have happened’ between the irruption of Syrianus and the entry of George. The data of Athanasius are for the first time clearly explained by the light thrown on them by the chroniclers. I should also have urged the fact that the commemoration of George’s Pentecost Martyrs on May 21 in the Roman Martyrology suits 357 and not 356, had I succeeded in tracing the history of the entry, which has, however, so far eluded my efforts.
74 We are quite in the dark as to when, and by whom, George was consecrated bishop. The statement of Sozomen 4,8, that he was ordained by a council of thirty bishops at Antioch, including Theodore of Heraclea, who had died before the exile of Liberius in 355 (Thdt). H.E. ii. 16, p. 93. 13), is involved in too hopeless a tangle of anachronisms to be of any value for our enquiry. But that George was ordained in Antioch is in itself likely enough, and if so, his ordination would probably follow close upon the expulsion of Athanasius. But the repeated assurances of Ath. that George came from court would imply that after his ordination George went to Italy. That at once puts his arrival in Alxa. in Lent 356 out of the question.
75 The statements of Ath. as to George are made at secondhand, and must be taken cum grano. He is ‘notoriously wealthy,’ yet ‘hired’ by the Arians. (Cf. p. 249; but apparently he combined wealth and avarice). That he was ‘a heathen’ is certainly untrue. His ‘ignorance’ is equally so: we know that he was a well-read man and possessed a remarkably good library (D.C.B. 2,638). That he had ‘the temper of a hangman’ (p. 227) is in keeping with all that we know of him, and as to his general character, the statements of Athanasius and other churchmen are not stronger than Amm. Marcell. XXII. 11,4 (cf. Gibbon, 3,171 sqq., ed. Smith, but correct his jeu d’esprit on ‘S. George and the Dragon’ by Bright, in D.C.B). ubi supra; yet see Stanley, Eastern Church, Lect. 7, III.).).
76 p. 497. George was at Sirmium in the Spring of 359 (Soz. (v. 16). Paul Catena came to Alxa. from a similar commission at Scythopolis. He was apparently aided in both places by Modestus the Comes Orientis. From Liban). Ep. 205, we gather, to the credit of George, that he was the intermediary of requests for mitigation or some of the sentences. He was at this time at Antioch, from whence also ‘Ex Comitatu Principis,’ Amm. XXII. xi., he returned to Alxa. in 361, evidently before he had heard of the Emperor’s death. (Sievers, pp. 138 sq.)
77 We Cannot fix the date when this word was first adopted as a shibboleth. It occurs, but not conspicuously, in the ‘Macrostich’ of 344, but not in any other creed till the ‘dated’ symbol of 359. But if (as Krüger, Lucif, p. 42, note, assumes) the omoiousion was adopted as a protest against the bald omoion, the latter must have been current long before 357, when the former was proscribed. I incline to regard the omoion (as a test word) as a later rival to the omoiousion).
78 Apparently it began with the quarrel over the election to the bishopric of Antioch, which Eudoxius managed to seize after the death of Leontius. George was aggrieved at his rights as an elector being ignored, and may have had hopes of the see for himself. See Soz. 4,13; but Philost. 4,5 with much less likelihood puts this down to Basil).
79 The discussions, reported with every appearance of substantial accuracy by Thdt. 2,27, may have taken place at this time, or at the council of the succeeding month (Thdt. fails to distinguish the two meetings). Gwatkin, p. 180, appears to be right in adopting the former alternative, viz. that the party of Basil prudently abstained from attending a council in which they would be overpowered: cf. Soz. 4,24, who however contradicts himself in the next chapter, sub fin. But the case is not quite clear).
80 (He always used amanuenses, but we have no evidence that he entrusted them with actual composition, p. 242).