Athanasius 18100

Tome or Synodal Letter to the People of Antioch

18100 To our beloved and much-desired fellow-ministers Eusebius1 , Lucifer2 , Asterius3 , Kymatius, and Anatolius, Athanasius and the bishops present in Alexandria from Italy and Arabia, Egypt and Libya; Eusebius, Asterius, Gains, Agathus, Ammonius, Agathodaemon, Dracontius, Adelphius, Hermaeon, Marcus, Theodorus, Andreas, Paphnutius, another Marcus, Zoilus, Menas, George, Lucius, Macarius and the rest, all greeting in Christ.

We are persuaded that being ministers of God and good stewards ye are sufficient to order the affairs of the Church in every respect. But since it has come to us, that many who were formerly separated from us by jealousy now wish for peace, while many also having severed their connection with the Arian madmen are desiring our communion, we think it well to write to your courtesy what ourselves and the beloved Eusebius and Asterius have drawn up: yourselves being our beloved and truly most-desired fellow-ministers. We rejoice at the said tidings, and pray that even if any be left still far from us, and if any appear to be in agreement with the Arians, he may promptly leave their madness, so that for the future all men everywhere may say, ‘One Lord, one faith4 .’ For as the psalmist says, what is so good or pleasant as for brethren to dwell in unity5 . But our dwelling is the Church, and our mind ought to be the same. For thus we believe that the Lord also will dwell with us, who says, ‘I will dwell with them and walk in them6 ’ and ‘Here will I dwell for I have a delight therein7 .’ But by ‘here’ what is meant but there where one faith and religion is preached?

2). Mission of Eusebius and Asterius.

We then of Egypt truly wished to go to you along with our beloved Eusebius and Asterius, for many reasons, but chiefly that we might embrace your affection and together enjoy the said peace and concord. But since, as we declared in our other letters, and as ye may learn from our fellow-ministers, the needs of the church detain us, with much regret we begged the same fellow-ministers of ours, Eusebius and Asterius, to go to you in our stead. And we thank their piety in that although they might have gone at once to their dioceses, they preferred to go to you at all costs, on account of the pressing need of the Church. They therefore having consented, we consoled ourselves with the consideration that you and they being there, we all were present with you in mind.

3). The ‘Meletians’ To Be Acknowledged, and All Who Renounce Heresy, Especially as to the Holy Spirit.

As many then as desire peace with us, and specially those who assemble in the Old [Church]8 and those again who are seceding from the Arians, do ye call to yourselves, and receive them as parents their sons, and welcome them as tutors and guardians; and unite them to our beloved Paulinus and his people, without requiring more from them than to anathematise the Arian heresy and confess the faith confessed by the holy fathers at Nicaea, and to anathematise also those who say that the Holy Spirit is a Creature and separate from the Essence of Christ. For this is in truth a complete renunciation of the abominable heresy of the Arians, to refuse to divide the Holy Trinity, or to say that any part of it is a creature. For those who, while pretending to cite the faith confessed at Nicaea, venture to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, do nothing more than in words deny the Arian heresy while they retain it in thought. But let the impiety of Sabellius and of Paul of Samosata also be anathematised by all, and the madness of Valentinian and Basilides, and the folly of the Munichaens. For if this be done, all evil suspicion will be removed on all hands, and the faith of the Catholic Church alone be exhibited in purity.

4). The Parties at Antioch to Unite.

But that we, and they who have ever remained in communion with us, hold this faith we think no one of yourselves nor any one else is ignorant. But since we rejoice with all those who desire re-union, but especially with those that assemble in the Old [church], and as we glorify the Lord exceedingly, as for all things so especially for the good purpose of these men, we exhort you that concord be established with them on these terms, and, as we said above, without further conditions, without namely any further demand upon yourselves on the part of those who assemble in the Old [church], or Paulinus and his fellows propounding anything else, or aught beyond the Nicene definition.

5). The Creed of Sardica Not an Authorised Formula. Question of ‘Hypostasis.’

And prohibit even the reading or publication of the paper, much talked of by some, as having been drawn up concerning the Faith at the synod of Sardica. For the synod made no definition of the kind. For whereas some demanded, on the ground that the Nicene synod was defective, the drafting of a creed, and in their haste even attempted it9 , the holy synod assembled in Sardica was indignant, and decreed that no statement of faith should be drafted, but that they should be content with the Faith confessed by the fathers at Nicaea, inasmuch as it lacked nothing but was full of piety, and that it was undesirable for a second creed to be promulged, lest that drafted at Nicaea should be deemed imperfect, and a pretext be given to those who were often wishing to draft and define a creed. So that if a man propound the above or any other paper, stop them, and persuade them rather to keep the peace. For in such men we perceive no motive save only contentiousness. For as to those whom some were blaming for speaking of three Subsistences10 , on the ground that the phrase is unscriptural and therefore suspicious, we thought it right indeed to require nothing beyond the confession of Nicaea, but on account of the contention we made enquiry of them, whether they meant, like the Arian madmen, subsistences foreign and strange, and alien in essence from one another, and that each Subsistence was divided apart by itself, as is the case with creatures in general and in particular with those begotten of men, or like different substances, such as gold, silver, or brass;—or whether, like other heretics, they meant three Beginnings and three Gods, by speaking of three Subsistences.

They assured us in reply that they neither meant this nor had ever held it. But upon our asking them ‘what then do you mean by it, or why do you use such expressions?’ they replied, Because they believed in a Holy Trinity, not a trinity in name only, but existing and subsisting in truth, ‘both a Father truly existing and subsisting, and a Son truly substantial and subsisting, and a Holy Spirit subsisting and really existing do we acknowledge,’ and that neither had they said there were three Gods or three beginnings, nor would they at all tolerate such as said or held so, but that they acknowledged a Holy Trinity but One Godhead, and one Beginning, and that the Son is coessential with the Father, as the fathers said; while the Holy Spirit is not a creature, nor external, but proper to and inseparable from the Essence of the Father and the Son.

6). The Question of One Subsistence (Hypostasis). Or Three, Not to Be Pressed.

Having accepted then these men’s interpretation and defence of their language, we made enquiry of those blamed by them for speaking of One Subsistence, whether they use the expression in the sense of Sabellius, to the negation of the Son and the Holy Spirit, or as though the Son were non-substantial, or the Holy Spirit impersonal11 . But they in their turn assured us that they neither meant this nor had ever held it, but ‘we use the word Subsistence thinking it the same thing to say Subsistence or Essence;’ ‘But we hold that there is One, because the Son is of the Essence of the Father, and because of the identity of nature. For we believe that there is one Godhead, and that it has one nature, and not that there is one nature of the Father, from which that of the Son and of the Holy Spirit are distinct.’ Well, thereupon they who had been blamed for saying there were three Subsistences agreed with the others, while those who had spoken of One Essence, also confessed the doctrine of the former as interpreted by them. And by both sides Arius was anathematised as an adversary of Christ, and Sabellius, and Paul of Samosata, as impious men, and Valentinus and Basilides as aliens from the truth, and Manichaeus as an inventor of mischief. And all, by God’s grace, and after the above explanations, agree together that the faith confessed by the fathers at Nicaea is better than the said phrases, and that for the future they would prefer to be content to use its language.

7). The Human Nature of Christ Complete, Not Body Only.

But since also certain seemed to be contending together concerning the fleshly Economy of the Saviour, we enquired of both parties. And what the one confessed, the others also agreed to, that the Word did not, as it came to the prophets, so dwell in a holy man at the consummation of the ages, but that the Word Himself was made flesh, and being in the Form of God, took the form of a servant12 , and from Mary after the flesh became man for us, and that thus in Him the human race is perfectly and wholly delivered from sin and quickened from the dead, and given access to the kingdom of the heavens. For they confessed also that the Saviour had not a body without a soul, nor without sense or intelligence; for it was not possible, when the Lord had become man for us, that His body should be without intelligence: nor was the salvation effected in the Word Himself a salvation of body only, but of soul also. And being Son of God in truth, He became also Son of Man, and being God’s Only-begotten Son, He became also at the same time ‘firstborn among many brethren13 .’ Wherefore neither was there one Son of God before Abraham, another after Abraham14 : nor was there one that raised up Lazarus, another that asked concerning him; but the same it was that said as man, ‘Where does Lazarus lie15 ;’ and as God raised him up: the same that as man and in the body spat, but divinely as Son of God opened the eyes of the man blind from his birth16 ; and while, as Peter says17 , in the flesh He suffered, as God opened the tomb and raised the dead. For which reasons, thus understanding all that is said in the Gospel, they assured us that they held the same truth about the Word’s Incarnation and becoming Man.

8 Questions of Words Must Not Be Suffered to Divide Those Who Think Alike.

These things then being thus confessed, we exhort you not hastily to condemn those who so confess, and so explain the phrases they use, nor to reject them, but rather to accept them as they desire peace and defend themselves, while you check and rebuke, as of suspicious views, those who refuse so to confess and to explain their language. But while you refuse toleration to the latter, counsel the others also who explain and hold aright, not to enquire further into each other’s opinions, nor to fight about words to no useful purpose, nor to go on contending with the above phrases, but to agree in the mind of piety. For they who are not thus minded, but only stir up strife with such petty phrases, and seek something beyond what was drawn up at Nicaea, do nothing except ‘give their neighbour turbid confusion to drink18 ,’ like men who grudge peace and love dissensions. But do ye, as good men and faithful servants and stewards of the Lord, stop and check what gives offence and is strange, and value above all things peace of that kind, faith being sound. Perhaps God will have pity on us, and unite what is divided, and, there being once more one flock19 , we shall all have one leader, even our Lord Jesus Christ.

9). The Above Terms Unanimously Agreed Upon.

These things, albeit there was no need to require anything beyond the synod of Nicaea, nor to tolerate the language of contention, yet for the sake of peace, and to prevent the rejection of men who wish to believe aright, we enquired into. And what they confessed, we put briefly into writing, we namely who are left in Alexandria, in common with our fellow-ministers, Asterius and Eusebius. For most of us had gone away to our dioceses. But do you on your part read this in public where you are wont to assemble, and be pleased to invite all to you thither. For it is fight that the letter should be there first read, and that there those who desire and strive for peace should be re-united. And then, when they are re-united, in the spot where all the laity think best, in the presence of your courtesy, the public assemblies should be held, and the Lord be glorified by all together. The brethren who are with me greet you. I pray that you may be well, and remember us to the Lord; both I, Athanasius, and likewise the other bishops assembled, sign, and those sent by Lucifer, bishop of the island of Sardinia, two deacons, Herennius and Agapetus; and from Paulinus, Maximus and Calemerus, deacons also. And there were present certain monks of Apolinarius20 the bishop, sent from him for the purpose.

10). Signatures.

The names of the several bishops to whom the letter is addressed are: Eusebius of the city of Virgilli in Gaul21 , Lucifer of the island of Sardinia, Asterius of Petra, Arabia, Kymatius of Paltus, Coele-Syria, Anatolius of Euboea.

Senders: the Pope Athanasius, and those present with him in Alexandria, viz.: Eusebius, Asterius, and the others above-mentioned, Gaius of Paratonium22 in Hither Libya, Agathus of Phragonis and part of Elearchia in Egypt, Ammonius of Pachnemunis23 and the rest of Elearchia, Agathodaemon of Schedia24 and Menelaitas, Dracontius of Lesser Hermupolis, Adelphius of Onuphis25 in Lychni, Hermion of Tanes26 , Marcus of Zygra27 , Hither Libya, Theodorus of Athribis28 , Andress of Arsenoe, Paphnutius of Sais, Marcus of Philae, Zoilus of Andrôs29 , Menas of Antiphra30 .

Eusebius also signs the following in Latin, of which the translation is:

I Eusebius, according to your exact confession made on either side by agreement concerning the Subsistences, also add my agreement; further concerning the Incarnation of our Saviour, namely that the Son of God has become Man, taking everything upon Himself without sin, like the composition of our old man, I ratify the text of the letter. And whereas the Sardican paper is ruled out, to avoid the appearance of issuing anything beyond the creed of Nicaea, I also add my consent, in order that the creed of Nicaea may not seem by it to be excluded, and [I agree] that it should not be published. I pray for your health in the Lord.

I Asterius agree to what is above written, and pray for your health in the Lord.

11). The ‘Tome’ Signed at Antioch.

And after this Tome was sent off from Alexandria, thus signed by the aforesaid, The recipients] in their turn signed it:

I Paulinus hold thus, as I received from the fathers, that the Father perfectly exists and subsists, and that the Son perfectly subsists, and that the Holy Spirit perfectly subsists. Wherefore also I accept the above explanation concerning the Three Subsistences, and the one Subsistence, or rather Essence, and those who hold thus. For it is pious to hold and confess the Holy Trinity in one Godhead. And concerning the Word of the Father becoming Man for us, I hold as it is written, that, as John says, the Word was made Flesh, not in the sense of those most impious persons who say that He has undergone a change, but that He has become Man for us, being born of the holy Virgin Mary and of the Holy Spirit. For the Saviour had a body neither without soul, nor without sense, nor without intelligence. For it were impossible, the Lord being made Man for us, that His body should be without intelligence. Wherefore I anathematise those who set aside the Faith confessed at Nicaea, and who do not say that the Son is of the Father’s Essence, and coessential with the Father. Moreover I anathematise those who say that the Holy Spirit is a Creature made through the Son. Once more I anathematise the heresy of Sabellius and of Photinus31 , and every heresy, walking in the Faith of Nicaea, and in all that is above written. I Karterius32 pray for your health).

Appendix—Exile of Athanasius Under Julian, 362–363

The fragment which follows, containing an interesting report of a story told by Athanasius to Ammonius, Bishop of Pachnemunis, is inserted here as furnishing undesignedly important details as to the movements of Athanasius of Athanasius in 363. See Prolegg. ch. 5,§3 h, also ch. 2,§9. It is excerpted by Montfaucon from an account of he Abbat Theodore, written for Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria (385–412) by a certain Ammon (Acta SS. Maii, Tom. iii. Append., pp. 63–71). The writer was at that time a bishop (see (unknown): he was born about 335, as he was seventeen years old when he embraced the monastic life a year ‘and more’ after the proclamation of Gallus as Caesar (Mar. 15, 351). About the time of expulsion of Athanasius by Syrianus he retired to Nitria, where he remained many years, and finally returned to Alexandria, where he appears (infra) as one of the clergy; the date of his elevation to the Episcopate cannot be fixed, but it obviously cannot be as early as 356–7 (so D.C.B. 1,102 (2), and probably is much later even than 362, in which year he would still be hardly twenty-eight. (He mentions the objections to the election of Athanasius, who was probably 30 in 328, on the ground of his youth). Accordingly (apart from the different form of his name) he cannot33 be cannot be identified with either of the Ammonii referred to in Tom. ad. Ant. 1, note 3; Hist. Ar. 72, &c. The elder of the two does not concern us here: the younger (supr. pp. 483,486), is the Ammonius to whom Athanasius told the story in the hearing of Ammon, and was now dead. Of Hermon, Bishop of Bubastis, mentioned as present along with Ammonius, Theophilus, and Ammon when the story was told, nothing is known (except that the date D.C.B. 3,4 (2) is over 25 years too early). As he is not ‘of blessed memory,’ he was possibly still living during the Episcopate of Theophilus and Ammon. (There is nothing to identify him with the bishop of Tanes in Tom. Ant. 1. 10).

The story itself is given at second-hand, from Ammon’s recollection of a statement by Athanasius some 12 to 15 years (at least) before he wrote. The prophetic details about Jovian may therefore be put down to natural accretion (Letter 56, note 2). But (apart from the fact that Julian’s death must have been rumoured long before the tardy official announcement of it, Tillem). Emp. 4,449 sqq., Prolegg). ubi supr.) that Athanasius told of the fhmh of Julian’s death among the monks of the Thebaid need not be doubted. The story is one of a very large class, many of which are fairly authenticated. To say nothing of the fhmh at the battle of Mycale; we have in recent times the authority of Mr. R. Stuart Poole, of the British Museum for the fact that on the night of the death of the Duke of Cambridge (July 9, 1850), Mr. Pooles’s brother ‘suddenly took out his watch and said, “Note the time, the Duke of Cambridge is dead,” and that the time proved to be correct;’ also the case of Mr. Edmonds who saw at Leicester, early in the morning of Nov. 4, 1837, an irruption of water into the works of the Thames tunnel, by which a workman was drowned;(other curious cases inn ‘Phantasms of the Living’ vol. 2, pp. 367 sqq.). The letter or memoir from which this ‘Narratio’ is taken, was published by the Bollandists from a Medicean ms., and it bears every internal mark of genuineness. In what way it is integrally connected with the Vita Antonii(Gwatkin, Studies, p. 101), except by the fact that it happens to mention Antony, I fail to see. On the subject of Theodore of Tabenne, the main subject of the memoir, see Amélineau’s S. Pakhôme ( ut supra, p. 188), also infr. Letter 58, note 3.

“As I think your holiness was present and heard, when his blessedness Pope Athanasius, in the presence of other clergy of Alexandria and of my insignificance, formerly related in the Great Church something about Theodorus34 , to the Ammonius of blessed memory, bishop of Elearchia35 , and to Hermon, bishop of the city of Bumastica36 ; I write only what is necessary to put your reverence in mind of what he said. When the famous bishops were wondering at the Blessed Antony, Pope Athanasius—for Antony was often with him—said to them:

I saw also at that reason great men of God, Who are lately dead, Theodorus chief of the Tabennesian monks, and the father of the monks around37 Antinoopolis, called Abbas Pammon. For when I was pursued by Julian, and was expecting to be slain by—for this news was shewn me by good friends—these two came to me on the same day at Antinoopolis. And having planned to hide with Theodorus, I embarked on his vessel, which was completely covered in, while Abbas Pammon accompanied us. And when the wind was unfavourable, I was very anxious and prayed; and the monks with Theodore got out and towed the boat. And as Abbas Pammon was encouraging me in my anxiety, I said ‘Believe me when I say that my heart is never so trustful in time of peace as in time of persecution. For I have good confidence that suffering for Christ, and strengthened by His mercy, even though I am slain, I shall find mercy with Him.’ And while I was still saying this, Theodorus fixed his eyes on Abbas Pammon and smiled, while the other nearly laughed. So I said to them, ‘Why have you laughed at my words, do you convict me of cowardice?’ and Theodorus said to Abbas Pammon, ‘Tell him why we smiled.’ At which the latter said, ‘You ought to tell him.’ So Theodorus said, ‘in this very hour Julian has been slain in Persia’ for so God had declared beforehand concerning him : ‘the haughty man, the despiser and the boaster, shall finish nothing38 . But a Christian Emperor shall arise who shall be illustrious, but shall live only a short time39 . Wherefore you ought not to harass yourselves by departing into the Thebaid, but secretly to go to the Court, for you will meet him by the way, and having been kindly received by him, will return to your Church. And he soon shall be taken by God.’ And so it happened. From which cause I believe, that many who are well pleasing to God live unnoticed, especially among the monks. For those men unnoticed also, such as the blessed Amun and the holy Theodorus40 in the mountain of Nitria, and the servant of God, the happy old man Pammon.”

1 Eusebius of Vercellae, exiled (Hist. Ar. 33; Ap. Fug. 4) after Milan 355. See D.C.B. 2,374 (93).
2 Lucifer of Calaris: cf). Letters 50, 51, below, and Hist. Ar. 33; Apol. Fug. 4.
3 The following are all the details that can be collected with regard to the bishops named in the text. Asterius (Hist. Ar. 18 note); Kymatius of Paltus in Syria Prima (Apol. Fug. 3; Hist. Ar. 5); Anatolius of Euboea (not in D.C.B).; Gaius (Apol. Fug. 7; Hist. Ar. 72, D.C.B. 1,387, No. 19??); Agathus, Hist. Ar. 72 (not in D.C.B).; Ammonius (see (Hist. Ar. 72 sub.-fin.; Ap. Fug. 7, Letter 49. 7, and infr. Appendix, note 1 as to names in D.C B).; Agathodaemon (Hist. Ar. ibid).; Dracontius and Adelphius (Letters 49, 60); Hermaeon (Hermion in §10) unknown, unless the ‘Hermes’ of Hist. Ar. 72; Marcus (2), (cf. D.C.B 3,825 (7) for works ascribed to one or the other); Paphnutius, (Hist. Ar. 72; D. C B. 4,184 (4)); Zoilus of Andropolis (Harduin, &c., suo jure, identify him with the bishop of the Syrian Larissa, who signs at Antioch in 363, Conc. 1,742; D.C.B. 4,1220); Andreas, George, Lucius, Macarius, Menas, and Theodore, are unknown and not in D.C.B. The names all recur (excepting those of George, Lucius, Macarius), in §10, where the sees are specified.
4 (
Ep 4,5,
5 See Ps 133,1.
6 (2Co 6,16, and Lv 26,12,
7 (Ps 132,14,
8 AEEn rh palaia, cf. Theodt). H.E. 1,3: possibly the old Town is meant, viz. the main part of Antioch on the left bank of the Orontes, so called in distinction from the ‘New’ town of Seleucu Callinicus which occupied the Island in the river. The ‘Old’ Church, or Church of the Apostles, was situated in the Old Town, and was at present occupied by the orthodox party of Meletius. The old orthodox party of Paulinus had only one small church in the New Town, granted for their use out of respect for Paulinus by the Arian Bishop Euzoius (Socr). H.E. 3,9)..
9 The draft is given by Theodt). H.E. ii. 8; it insists vehemently on the ‘One Hypostasis.’
10 upostasei").
11 anousiou, anupostatou, the words are rendered ‘unessential’ and ‘not subsisting’ in another connection, supr. p. 434, &c.
12 (Ph 2,7, &c.
13 (Rm 8,29,
14 (Jn 8,58,
15 Jn 11,34.
16 (Mc 8,22, &c.
17 (1P 4,1,
18 (Ha 2,15 Ha 2,
19 (Jn 10,16).
20 Of Laodicea, the later heresiarch.
21 i.e. Vercellae, in ‘Cisalpine’ Gaul, or Lombardy.
22 In Marmarica or ‘Libya Siccior’ near the Ras el Harzeit.
23 Capital of the Sebennytic nome, near Handahur.
24 A town and custom-house near Andropolis, between Alxa. and the Canopic arm of the Nile.
25 Chief town of a nome in the Delta.
26 ‘Zoan.’
27 West of Alxa. toward the Libyan dessert, and not far from Zygra in Marmarica.
28 A very important town near the head of the Tanite arm. See Amm. Marc. 22,16. 6, who calls it one of the four largest cities in Egypt proper.
29 i.e. Andropolis (above, note 11).
30 West of Alxa. toward the Libyan dessert, and not far from Zygra in Marmarica.
31 See Prolegg. ch. 2,§3 (2) ad fin. This is remarkable as the first Eastern condemnation of Photinus by name from the Nicene side. He had been condemned at Sirmium in 347, and under pressure from the East apparently at Milan in 345 and 347, as well as in the Councils of Antioch in 344, and Sirmium in 351 (supr. pp. 463, 464). On the document of Paulinus, see Epiph). Hoer. 77,20, 21, also Dr. Bright’s note.
32 Bishop of Antaradus on the Syrian coast (D.C.B. i 410 (3)); see de Fuga, 3, and Hist. Ar. 5. note 6a).
33 The corrections were made before he could obtain the essay carefully and gratefully used, but his text is defective, especially and text of Sievers (Zeitsch. Hist. Theol. 1868), where he now from the accidental omission of one of the key-clauses of the finds them nearly all anticipated. Sievers’ discussion has been whole (§17)).
34 But our annalist gives May 3, while Fest Ind. gives May 2, the day solemnised in the Coptic Martyrologies (Mai, Script. Vett. vol. 4, part 2, pp. 29, 114), and doubtless the right one. Perhaps, if Athanasius died in the night of May 2–3, the former day might be chosen for his commemoration, while our annalist may still be literally exact.
35 See Tillera. 8,719 sqq.
36 Corrected from §§5, 17). infr.; text ‘xvi.’
37 Corrected from §5; text ‘6 months.’
38 Text ‘Hypatius.’
39 Of Heraclea.
40 Cf). Apol. Fug. 1, &c., &c.

Introduction to Ad Afros Epistola Synodica

(Written About 369).

The synodical letter which follows was written after the accession of Damasus to the Roman see 366. Whether it was written before any Western synod had formally condemned Auxentius of Milan (see (Letter 59. 1) may be doubted: the complaint (§10) is rather that he still retains possession of his see, which in fact he did until 374, the year after the death of Athanasius. At any rate, Damasus had had time to hold a large synod, the letter of which had reached Athanasius. The history of the synods held by Damasus seems hopelessly obscure, and the date of our encyclical is correspondingly doubtful. Damasus certainly held at one time a synod of some 90 bishops from Italy and the Gauls, the letter of which was sent to Illyricum and to the East (Thdt). H. E. ii. 22; Soz. 6,23; Hard). Conc. 1,771: the Latin of the copy sent to Illyricum is dated ‘Siricio et Ardabure vv. cl. coss.,’ an additional element of confusion). The name of Sabinus at the end of the Latin copy sent to the East seems to fix the date of this synod (D.C.B. 1,294) to 372. Thus the synod referred to §1 below must have been an earlier one, the acts of which are lost. It cannot have been held before the end of 367 or beginning of 368 (Montf). Vit. Ath.), as the earlier period of the episcopate of Damasus was fully occupied by different matters. Accordingly our encyclical falls between 368 and 372, probably as soon as Damasus had been able to assemble so large a synod, and Athanasius to write in reply (§10). It may be added that the letter of the Damasine synod of 372 refers in ambiguous terms to the condemnation of Auxentius as having already taken place, (‘damnatum esse liquet:’ was this because they felt unable to dislodge him? see Tillem. 8,400).

The occasion of the letter is two-fold: principally to counteract the efforts that were being made in the West, and especially in Africa (still later in the time of S. Augustine, see Collat. cum Maximin. 4; and for earlier Arian troubles in Africa, Nicene Lib. vol. 1,p. 287), to represent the council of Ariminum as a final settlement of the Faith, and so to set aside the authority of the Nicene definition. The second object is involved in the first. The head and centre of the dying efforts of Arianism in the Roman West was apparently Auxentius, ‘one of the last survivors of the victory of Ariminum.’ That he should be still undisturbed in his see, while working far and wide to the damage of the Catholic cause, was to Athanasius a distressing surprise, and he was urging the Western bishops to put an end to such an anomaly.

In the encyclical before us he begins (1–3) by contrasting the synod of Nicaea with that of Ariminum, and pointing out the real history of the latter, going over again to some extent the ground of the earlier sections of the de Synodis. He touches (3. end) on the disastrous termination of the Council. He then proceeds to vindicate the Nicene creed (4–8) as essentially Scriptural, i.e. as the only possible bar to the unscriptural formulae of the Arians. This he illustrates (5, 6) by an account, substantially identical with that in the de Decretis, of the evasions of every other test by the Asian bishops at Nicaea. He repeatedly urges that the formula was no invention of the Nicene Fathers (6, 9), appealing to the admission of Eusebius to this effect. He attacks the Homoean position, shewing that its characteristic watchword merely dissembles the alternative between Anomoeanism and the true co-essentiality of the Son (7). The most novel argument in the Letter is that of §4, where he refutes the repudiation of ousia and upostasi" in the creed of Niké by an argument from Scripture, starting from
Ex 3,14 (as de decr. 22 and de Syn. 29), and turning the equivalence of the two terms in question. This would appeal to Westerns, and expresses the usual view of Atn. himself (Tom. ad Ant. Introd.) but would not have much force with those who were accustomed to the Eastern terminology.

The insistence (in §11) that the Nicene formula involves the Godhead of the Spirit should be noted. It seems to imply that, as a rule, such an explicit assurance as is insisted upon in Tom ad Ant. 3, would be superfluous.

The completeness of the work of Athanasius, now very near his end, in winning over all Egypt to unanimity in faith and in personal attachment to himself, is quaintly reflected in the naive assurance (§10) that the bishops of Egypt and the Libyas ‘are all of one mind, and we always sign for one another if any chance not to be present.’ The translation has been carefully compared with that of Dr. Bright (supr. p. 482)).

Athanasius 18100