Athanasius was elected bishop by general consent. Alexander, as we have seen, had practically nominated him, and a large body of popular opinion clamoured for his election, as “the good, the pious, a Christian, one of the ascetics, a genuine bishop.” The actual election appears (p. 103) to have rested with the bishops of Egypt and Libya, who testify ten years later (ib). that the majority43 of their body elected him.
The see to which he succeeded was the second in Christendom; it had long enjoyed direct jurisdiction over the bishops of all Egypt and Libya (p. 178, Socr. 1,9), the bishops of Alexandria enjoyed the position and power of secular potentates, although in a less degree than those of Rome, or of Alexandria itself in later times (Socr. 7,II, cf. 7). The bishop had command of large funds, which, however, were fully claimed for church purposes and alms (see (p. 105). In particular, the ‘pope’ of Alexandria had practically in his hands the appointment to the sees in his province: accordingly, as years go on, we find Arianism disappear entirely from the Egyptian episcopate. The bishop of Alexandria, like many other influential bishops in antiquity, was commonly spoken of as Papa or Pope; he also was known as the ’Arciepiskopo", as we learn from a contemporary inscription (see (p. 564, note 2).
The earliest biographer of Athanasius (see (Introduction to Hist. Aceph. p. 495, 496, below) divides the episcopate of Athanasius into periods of ‘quiet’ and of exile, marking the periods of each according to what appears to be the reckoning officially preserved in the episcopal archives. His first period of ‘quiet’ lasts from June 8, 328, to July 11, 335 (departure for Tyre), a period of seven years, one month and three days; it is thus the third longest period of undisturbed occupancy of his see, the next being the last from his final restoration under Valens till his death (seven years and three months), and the longest of all being the golden decade (346 356, really nine years and a quarter) preceding the Third Exile.
Of the internal events of this first septennium of quiet we know little that is definite. At the end of it, however, we find him supported by the solid body of the Egyptian episcopate: and at the beginning one of his first steps (autumn of 329) was to make a visitation of the province ‘to strengthen the churches of God’ (Vit. Pach., cf. also Epiph). H—r. 68. 6). We learn from the life of Pachomius (on which see below, p. 189), that he penetrated as far as Syene on the Ethiopian frontier, and, as he passed Tabenne, was welcomed by Pachomius and his monks with great rejoicings. At the request of Saprion, bishop of Tentyra, in whose diocese the island was, he appears to have ordained Pachomius to the presbyterate, thus constituting his community a self-contained body (Acta SS. Mai. 3,30, Appx).. The supposed consecration of Frumentius at this time must be reserved, in accordance with preponderating evidence, for §7.
Meanwhile, the anti-Nicene reaction was being skilfully fostered by the strategy of Eusebius of Nicomedia. Within a year of the election of Athanasius we find him restored to imperial favour, and at once the assault upon the Nicene strongholds begins. The controversy between Marcellus and Eusebius of Caesarea (supra, p. xxxv)., appears to have begun later, but the latter was already, in conjunction with his friend Paulinus of Tyre and with Patrophilus, at theological war with Eustathius of Antioch. A synod of Arian and reactionary bishops assembled at Antioch, and deposed the latter on the two charges (equally de rigueur in such cases) of Sabellianism and immorality. Backed by a complaint (possibly founded on fact) that he had indiscreetly repeated a current tale (p. 271, n. 2) concerning Helena, the Emperor’s mother, the sentence of the council had the full support of the civil arm, and Eustathius lost his see for ever. Although he lived till about 358, no council ventured to ‘restore’ him (discussed by Gwatkin, pp. 73, 74, note), but the Christian public of Antioch violently resented his extrusion, and a compact body of the Church-people steadily refused to recognise any other bishop during, and even after, his lifetime (infr. p. 481). Asclepas of Gaza was next disposed of, then Eutropius of Hadrianople, and many others (names, p. 271). Meanwhile everything was done to foment disturbance in Egypt. The Meletians had been stirring ever since the death of Alexander, and Eusebius was not slow to use such an opportune lever. The object in view was two-fold, the restoration of Arius to communion in Alexandria, without which the moral triumph of the reaction would be unachieved, and the extrusion of Athanasius. Accordingly a fusion took place44 between the Arians of Egypt and the Meletians, now under the leadership of Jn ‘Arcaph,’ whom Meletius on his death-bed had consecrated as his successor against the terms of the Nicene settlement. At any rate, the Meletians were attached to the cause by Eusebius by means of large promises. At the same time (330?) Eusebius, having obtained the recall of Arius from exile, wrote to Athanasius requesting him to admit Arius and his friends (Euzoius, Pistus, &c). to communion; the bearer of the letter conveyed the assurance of dire consequences in the event of his non-compliance (p. 131). Athanasius refused to admit persons convicted of heresy at the Ecumenical Council. This brought a letter from the Emperor himself, threatening deposition by an imperial mandate unless he would freely admit ‘all who should desire it;’—a somewhat sweeping demand. Athanasius replied firmly and, it would seem, with effect, that ‘the Christ-opposing heresy had no fellowship with the Catholic Church.’ Thereupon Eusebius played what proved to be the first card of a long suit. A deputation of three Meletian bishops arrived at the Palace with a complaint. Athanasius had, they said, levied a precept (kanwn) upon Egypt for Church expenses: they had been among the first victims of the exaction. Luckily, two Presbyters of Alexandria were at court, and were able to disprove the charge, which accordingly drew a stern rebuke upon its authors. Constantine wrote to Athanasius summoning him to an audience, probably with the intention of satisfying himself as to other miscellaneous accusations which were busily ventilated at this date, e.g., that he was too young (cf. p. 133) when elected bishop, that he had governed with arrogance and violence, that he used magic (this charge was again made 30 years later, Ammian. 15,7), and sub-sidised treasonable persons. Athanasius accordingly started for court, as it would seem, late in 330 (see (Letter 3, p. 512 sq).. His visit was successful, but matters went slowly; Athanasius himself had an illness, which lasted a long time, and upon his recovery the winter storms made communication impossible. Accordingly, his Easter letter for 332 (Letter 4) was sent unusually late—apparently in the first navigable weather of that year—and Athanasius reached home, after more than a year’s absence45 , when Lent was already half over.
The principal matters investigated by Constantine during the visit of Athanasius were certain charges made by the three Meletian bishops, whom Eusebius had detained for the purpose; one of these, the story of Macarius and the broken chalice, will be given at length presently. All alike were treated as frivolous, and Athanasius carried home with him a commendatory letter from Augustus himself. Defeated for the moment, the puppets of Eusebius matured their accusations, and in a year’s time two highly damaging stories were ripe for an ecclesiastical investigation.
(a) The case Ischyras. This person had been ordained presbyter by Colluthus, and his ordination had been, as we have seen (§2), pronounced null and void by the Alexandrian Council of 324. In spite of this he had persisted in carrying on his ministrations at the village where he lived (Irene Secontaruri, possibly the hamlet ‘Irene’ belonged to the township of S., there was a presbyter for the township, pp. 133, 145, but none at Irene, p 106). His place of worship was a cottage inhabited only by an orphan child; of the few inhabitants of the place, only seven, and those his own relations, would attend his services. During a visitation of his diocese, Athanasius, had heard of this from the presbyter of the township, and had sent Macarius, one of the clergy who were attending him on his tour (cf. pp. 109, 139), to summon Ischyras for explanations. Macarius found the poor man ill in bed and unable to come, but urged his father to dissuade him from his irregular proceedings. But instead of desisting, Ischyras joined the Meletians. His first version of the matter appears to have been that Macarius had used violence, and broken his chalice. The Meletians communicate this to Eusebius, who eggs them on to get up the case. The story gradually improves. Ischyras, it now appeared, had been actually celebrating the Eucharist; Macarius had burst in upon him, and not only broken the chalice but upset the Holy Table. In this form the tale had been carried to Constantine when Athanasius was at Nicomedia. The relations of Ischyras, however, prevailed upon him to recall his statements, and he presented the Bishop with a written statement that the whole story was false, and had been extorted from him by violence. Ischyras was forgiven, but placed under censure, which probably led to his eventually renewing the charge with increased bitterness. Athanasius now was accused of personally breaking the chalice, &c. In the letter of the council of Philippopolis the cottage of Ischyras becomes a ‘basilica’ which Athanasius had caused to be thrown down.
(b) The case of Arsenius. Arsenius was Meletian bishop of Hypsele (not in the Meletian catalogue of 327). By a large bribe, as it is stated, he was induced by Jn Arcaph to go into hiding among the Meletian monks of the Thebaid; rumours were quietly set in motion that Athanasius had had him murdered, and had procured one of his hands for magical purposes. A hand was circulated purporting to be the very hand in question. A report of the case, including the last version of the Ischyras scandal, was sent to Constantine, who, startled by the new accusation, sent orders to his half-brother, Dalmatius, a high official at Antioch, to enquire into the case. He appears to have suggested a council at Caesarea under the presidency of Eusebius, which was to meet at some time in the year 334 (perusin, p. 141, cf. note 2 there, also Gwatkin, p. 84 note; the ‘30 months’ of Soz. 2,25 is an exaggeration). Athanasius, however, obstinately declined a trial before a judge whom he regarded as biassed; his refusal bitterly offended the aged historian. Accordingly the venue was fixed for Tyre in the succeeding year; a Count Dionysius was to represent the Emperor, and see that all was conducted fairly, and Athanasius was stringently (p. 137) summoned to attend. Meanwhile a trusted deacon was on the tracks of the missing man. Arsenius was traced to a ‘monastery’ of Meletian brethren in the nome of Antaeopolis in Upper Egypt. Pinnes, the presbyter of the community, got wind of the discovery, and smuggled Arsenius away down the Nile; presently he was spirited away to Tyre. The deacon, however, very astutely made a sudden descent upon the monastery in force, seized Pinnes, carried him to Alexandria, brought him before the ‘Duke,’ confronted him with the monk who had escorted Arsenius away, and forced them to confess to the whole plot. As soon as he was able to do so, Pinnes wrote to Jn Arcaph, warning him of the exposure, and suggesting that the charge had better be dropped (p. 135; the letter is an amusingly naive exhibition of human rascality). Meanwhile (Socr. 1,29) Arsenius was heard of at an inn in Tyre by the servant of a magistrate; the latter had him arrested, and informed Athanasius46 . Arsenius stoutly denied his identity, but was recognised by the bishop of Tyre, and at last confessed. The Emperor was informed and wrote to Athanasius (p. 135), expressing his indignation at the plot, as also did Alexander, bishop of Thessalonica. Arsenius made his peace with Athanasius, and in due time succeeded (according to the Nicene rule) to the sole episcopate of Hypsele (p. 548). Jn Arcaph even admitted his guilt and renounced his schisms and was invited to Court (p. 136); but his submission was not permanent.
According to the Apology of Athanasius, all this took place some time before the council of Tyre; we cannot fix the date, except that it must have come after the Easter of 332 (see (above). It appears most natural, from the language of Apol. Ar. 71, to fix the exposure of Arsenius not very long before the summoning of the council of Tyre, but long enough to allow for the renewed intrigues which led to its being convened. But this pushes us back behind the intended council of Caesarea in 334; we seem therefore compelled to keep Arsenius waiting at Tyre from about 333 to the summer of 335.
It must be remembered that the Council of Tyre was merely a parergon to the great Dedication Meeting at Jerusalem, which was to celebrate the Tricennalia of Constantine’s reign by consecrating his grand church on Mount Calvary. On their way to Jerusalem the bishops were to despatch at Tyre their business of quieting the Egyptian troubles47 (Eus). V. C. 4,41). To Tyre accordingly Athanasius repaired. He left Alexandria on July 11, 335, and was absent, as it proved (according to the reckoning of the Hist. Aceph.,below, p. 496), two years, four months and eleven days.
43 Eager opposition, however, was not lacking. The accounts are confused, but the statement of the bishops leaves room for a strong minority of malcontents, who may have elected ‘Theonas’ (was he the exiled Arian bishop of Marmarica? the electors of ‘Theonas’ in Epiph. Haer. 68 are Meletians, but there is no Theonas in the Meletian catalogue of 327; the Arians and Meletians very likely combined; the latter properly had no votes, but they were not likely to regard this; see Gwatkin, p. 66, note, Church Quarterly Review. 16,p. 393). The protests of the poposition were apparently disregarded and Athanasius consecrated before the other side considered the question as closed, (The statement of Epiph. Haer. 69, that the Arians chose one Achillas, is unsupported). Athanasius was probably only just thirty years old, and his opponents did not fail to question whether he were not under the canonical age.
44 Soz. 2,21, 22: the account is not very clear; probably there was a gradual approximation, the first step being the Meletian support of the Arian Theonas against Athanasius in 328, if the view suggested above is correct).
45 Fest. Ind. 3,The Index is of course right in giving 330—331 as the year of his departure for Nicomedia, but makes a slip in assigning his absence as the cause of delay in the despatch of the Letter for that year instead of for the following one. See p. 512 note 1).
46 Who perhaps visited Tyre himself at this time, according to an allusion in Hist. Aceph. xii., see Sievers, Einl. p. 131.
47 The conduct of Constantine will appear fairly consistent if we suppose that after ordering the investigation at Antioch, supr. (332?) he received proofs (333) of the falsehood of the Arsenius story, but that, finding that the complaints were constantly renewed, and that Ath. refused to meet his accusers at Caesarea, he yielded to the suggestion (Eus. Nic. ?) that the assembly of so many bishops at Jerusalem might be a valuable opportunity for finally dealing with so troublesome a matter. He desired peace, and had not lost his faith in councils. Hefele follows Socrates 1,29, in his error as to the date of the discovery of Arsenius (E. Tr. 2,21).
325 Many of the bishops who were making their way to the great festival met at Tyre. The Arian element was very strong. Eusebius of Nicomedia, Narcissus, Maris, Theognis, Patrophilus, George, now bishop of Laodicea, are all familiar names. Ursacius and Valens, ‘young48 both in years and in mind’ make their first entrance on the stage of ecclesiastical intrigue; Eusebius of Caesarea headed a large body of ‘conservative‘ malcontents: in the total number of perhaps 150, the friends of Athanasius were outnumbered by nearly two to one. (See Gwatkin’s note, p 85, Hefele 2,17, Eng Tra.) Eusebius of Caesarea took the chair (yet see D.C.B. 2,316b). The proceedings of the Council were heated and disorderly; promiscuous accusations were flung from side to side; the president himself was charged by an excited Egyptian Confessor with having sacrificed to idols (p. 104, n. 2), while against Athanasius every possible charge was raked up. The principal one was that of harshness and violence. Callinicus, bishop of Pelusium, according to a later story49 , had taken up the cause of Ischyras, and been deposed by Athanasius in consequence. A certain Marc had been appointed to supersede him, and he had been subjected to military force. Certain Meletian bishops who had refused to communicate with Athanasius on account of his irregular election, had been beaten and imprisoned. A document from Alexandria testified that the Churches were emptied on account of the strong popular feeling against these proceedings. The number of witnesses, and the evident readiness of the majority of bishops to believe the worst against him, inspired Athanasius with profound misgivings as to his chance of obtaining justice. He had in vain objected to certain bishops as biassed judges; when it was decided to investigate the case of Ischyras on the spot, the commission of six was chosen from among the very persons challenged (p. 138). Equally unsuccessful was the protest of the Egyptian bishops against the credit of the Meletian witnesses (p. 140). But on one point the accusers walked into a trap. The ‘hand of Arsenius’ was produced, and naturally made a deep impression (Thdt. H.E. 1,30). But Athanasius was ready. ‘Did you know Arsenius personally?’ ‘Yes’ is the eager reply from many sides. Promptly Arsenius is ushered in alive, wrapped up in a cloak. The Synod expected an explanation of the way he had lost his hand. Athanasius turned up his cloak and shewed that one hand at least was there. There was a moment of suspense, artfully managed by Athanasius. Then the other hand was exposed, and the accusers were requested to point out whence the third had been cut off (Socr. 1,29). This was too much for Jn Arcaph, who precipitately fled (so Socr., he seems to have gone to Egypt with the couriers mentioned below, cf. p. 142). But the Eusebians were made of sterner stuff: the whole affair was a piece of magic; or there had been an attempt to murder Arsenius, who had hid himself from fear. At any rate Athanasius must not be allowed to clear himself so easily. Accordingly, in order partly to gain time and partly to get up a more satisfactory case, they prevailed on Count Dionysius, in the face of strong remonstrances from Athanasius (p. 138), to despatch a commission of enquiry to the Mareotis in order to ascertain the real facts about Ischyras. The nature of the commission may be inferred, firstly, from its composition, four strong Arians and two (Theodore of Heraclea, and Macedonius of Mopsuestia) reactionaries; secondly, from the fact that they took Ischyras with them, but left Macarius behind in custody; thirdly, from the fact that couriers were sent to Egypt with four days‘ start, and with an urgent message to the Meletians to collect at once in as large numbers as possible at Irene, so as to impress the commissioners with the importance of the Meletian community at that place. The Egyptian bishops present at Tyre handed in strongly-worded protests to the Council, and to Count Dionysius, who received also a weighty remonstrance from the respected Alexander, Bishop of Thessalonica. This drew forth from him an energetic protest to the Eusebians (p. 142 sq.) against the composition of the commission. His protest was not, however, enforced in any practical way, and the Egyptians thereupon appealed to the Emperor (ib.). Athanasius himself escaped in an open boat with four of his bishops, and found his way to Constantinople, where he arrived on October 30. The Emperor was out riding when he was accosted by one of a group of pedestrians. He could scarcely credit his eyes and the assurance of his attendants that the stranger was none other than the culprit of Tyre. Much annoyed at his appearance, he refused all communication; but the persistency of Athanasius and the reasonableness of his demand prevailed. The Emperor wrote to Jerusalem to summon to his presence all who had been at the Council of Tyre (pp. 105, 145).
Meanwhile the Mareotic Commission had proceeded with its task. Their report was kept secret, but eventually sent to Julius of Rome, who handed it over to Athanasius in 339 (p. 143). Their enquiry was carried on with the aid of Philagrius the prefect, a strong Arian sympathiser, whose guard pricked the witnesses if they failed to respond to the hints of the commissioners and the threats of the prefect himself. The clergy of Alexandria and the Mareotis were excluded from the court, and catechumens, Jews and heathen, none of whom could properly have been present on the occasion, were examined as to the interruption of the eucharistic service by Macarius (p. 119). Even with these precautions the evidence was not all that could be wished. To begin with, it had all taken place on an ordinary week-day, when there would be no Communion (pp. 115, 125, 143); secondly, when Macarius came in Ischyras was in bed; thirdly, certain witnesses whom Athanasius had been accused of secreting came forward in evidence of the contrary (p. 107). The prefect consoled himself by letting loose the violence of the heathen mob (p. 108) against the ‘virgins’ of the Church. The catholic party were helpless; all they could do was to protest in writing to the commission, the council, and the prefect (pp. 138–140. The latter protest is dated 10th of Thoth, i.e. Sep. 8, 335, Diocletian leap-year).
The commission returned to Tyre, where the council passed a resolution (Soz. 2,25) deposing Athanasius. They then proceeded to Jerusalem for the Dedication50 of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Here Arius with certain others (probably including Euzoius) was received to communion on the strength of the confession of faith he had presented to Constantine a few years before, and the assembled bishops drew up a synodal letter announcing the fact to Egypt and the Church at large (pp. 144, 460). At this juncture the summons from Constantine arrived. The terms of it shewed that the Emperor was not disposed to hear more of the broken chalice or the murdered Arsenius: but the Eusebians were not at a loss. They advised the bishops to go quietly to their homes, while five of the inner circle, accompanied by Eusebius of Caesarea, who had a panegyric to deliver in the imperial presence, responded to the summons of royalty. They made short work of Athanasius. The whole farrago of charges examined at Tyre was thrown aside. He had threatened to starve the panendaimwn patriz, the chosen capital of Constantine, by stopping the grain ships which regularly left Alexandria every autumn. It was in vain for Athanasius to protest that he had neither the means nor the power to do anything of the kind. ‘You are a rich man,’ replied Eusebius of Nicomedia, ‘and can do whatever you like.’ The Emperor was touched in a sore place51 . He promptly ordered the banishment of Athanasius to Treveri, whither he started, as it would seem, on Feb. 5, 336 (pp. 105, 146, 503, note 11). The friends of Athanasius professed to regard the banishment as an act of imperial clemency, in view of what might have been treated as a capital matter, involving as it did the charge of treason (p. 105); and Constantine II., immediately after his father’s death, stated (pp. 146, 272, 288) in a letter (written before he became Augustus in Sept. 337) that he had been sent to Treveri merely to keep him out of danger, and that Constantine had been prevented only by death from carrying out his intention of restoring him. These charitable constructions need not be rudely ignored; but in all probability the anxiety to be rid of a cause of disturbance was at least one motive with the peace-loving Emperor. At any rate the Eusebians could not obtain the imperial sanction to their proposed election of a successor (Pistus ?) to Athanasius. On his return after the death of Constantine he found his see waiting for him unoccupied (Apol. c. Ar. 29, p. 115).
The close of the Tricennalia was made the occasion of a council at Constantinople (winter 335–336). Marcellus was deposed for heresy and Basil nominated to the see of Ancyra, Eusebius of Caesarea undertaking to refute the ‘new Samosatene.’ Other minor depositions were apparently carried out at the same time, and several Western bishops, including Protogenes of Sardica, had reason later on to repent of their signatures to the proceedings (Hil). Fragm. iii.).
Death of Arius. From Jerusalem Arius had gone to Alexandria, but (Soz. 2,29) had not succeeded in obtaining admission to the Communion of the Church there. Accordingly he repaired to the capital about the time of the Council just mentioned. The Eusebians resolved that here at any rate he should not be repelled. Arius appeared before the Emperor and satisfied him by a sworn profession of orthodoxy, and a day was fixed for his reception to communion. The story of the distress caused to the aged bishop Alexander is well known. He was heard to pray in the church that either Arius or himself might be taken away before such an outrage to the faith should be permitted. As a matter of fact Arius died suddenly the day before his intended reception. His friends ascribed his death to magic, those of Alexander to the judgment of God, the public generally to the effect of excitement on a diseased heart (Soz. 1. c).. Athanasius, while taking the second view, describes the occurrence with becoming sobriety and reserve (pp. 233, 565). Alexander himself died very soon after, and Paul was elected in his place (D.C.B. art). Macedonius (2)), but was soon banished on some unknown charge, whereupon Eusebius of Nicomedia was translated to the capital see (between 336 and 340; date uncertain. Cf. D.C.B. 2,367a).
Of the sojourn of Athanasius at Treveri, the noble home of the Emperors on the banks of the Mosel, we know few details, but his presence there appeals to the historic imagination. (See D.C.B. 1,186a). He cannot have been there much above a year. He kept the Easter festival, probably of 336, certainly of 337, in the still unfinished Church (p. 244: the present Cathedral is said to occupy the site of what was then an Imperial palace: but the main palace is apparently represented by the ‘Roman baths).’ He was not suffered to want (p. 146): he had certain Egyptian brethren with him; and found a sympathetic friend in the good Bishop Maximinus (cf. p. 239). The tenth festal letter, §1, preserves a short extract from a letter written from Trier to his clergy.
Constantine died at Nicomedia, having previously received baptism from the hands of Eusebius, on Whit-Sunday, May 22, 337. None of his sons were present, and the will is said to have been entrusted to the Arian chaplain mentioned above (p. xxxiv). Couriers carried the news to the three Caeesars, and at a very moderate52 rate of reckoning, it may have been known at Trier by about June 4. Constantine, as the eldest son, probably expected more from his father’s will than he actually obtained. At any rate, on June 17 he wrote a letter to the people and clergy of Alexandria, announcing the restoration of their bishop in pursuance of an intention of his father’s, which only death had cut short. Constantius meanwhile hastened (from the East, probably Antioch) to Constantinople (D.C.B.i. 651): he too had expectations, for he was his father’s favourite. The brothers met at Sirmium, and agreed upon a division of the Empire, Constantius taking the East, Constans Italy and Illyricum, and Constantine the Gauls and Africa. On Sep. 9 they formally assumed the title Augustus53 . Athanasius had apparently accompanied Constantine to Sirmium, and on his way eastward met Constantius at Viminacium (p. 240), his first interview with his future persecutor. He presently reached Constantinople (p. 272), and on his way southward, at Caesarea in Cappadocia, again met Constantius, who was hurrying to the Persian frontier. On Nov. 23 he reached Alexandria amid great rejoicings (pp. 104, 503, Fest. Ind. x)., the clergy especially ‘esteeming that the happiest day of their lives.’ But the happiness was marred by tumults (Soz. 2,2, 5, Hil. Fragm. 3,8, Fest. Ind. xi., next year ‘again’), which were, however, checked by the civil power, the prefect Theodorus being, apparently, favourable to Athanasius (pp. 102, 527, note 2). The festal letter for 338 would seem to have been finished at Alexandria, but the point is not absolutely clear. Here begins his second period of ‘quiet,’ of one year, four months and twenty-four days, i.e., from Athyr 27 (Nov. 23), 337, to Pharmuthi 21 (April 16), 339.
48 p. 107: Euseb). V.C. 4,43, calls them ‘the fairest of God’s youthful flock.’ The Council of Sardica in 343 describes them as ‘ungodly and foolish youths,’ Hil). Frag. ii., cf. pp. 120, 122.
49 Soz. 2,25. But Callinicus was a Meletian all along: pp. 132, 137, 517).
50 The Greek Church still commemorates this Festival on Sep. 13; the Chron. Pasch. gives Sep. 17 for the Dedication. But if the Mareotic Commissioners returned to Tyre, as they certainly did (Soz. l.c)., these dates are untrustworthy.
51 The philosopher Sopater had been put to death on a similar charge a few years before, D.C.B. 1,631).
52 The courier Palladius, who was considered a marvel, could carry a message from Nisibis to CP. on horseback in three days, about 250 miles a day, Socr. 7,19. At 100 miles a day, i.e. eight miles an hour for 12 1/2 hours out of the 24, the 1,300 miles from Nicomedia to Treveri would be easily covered by a horseman in the time specified; see Gibbon quoted p. 115, note 1, and for other examples, Gwatkin, p. 137.
53 This date is certain (Gwatk., 108, note), but the meeting at Sirmium may possibly fall in the following summer).
326 (1). The stay of Athanasius at Alexandria was brief and troubled. The city was still disturbed by Arian malcontents, who had the sympathy of Jews and Pagans, and it was reported that the monks, and especially the famous hermit Antony, were on their side. This impression, however, was dissipated by the appearance of the great Ascetic himself, who, at the urgent request of the orthodox (pp. 214 sq., 503), consented to shew himself for two days in the uncongenial atmosphere of the city. The mystery and marvellous reputation, which even then surrounded this much-talked-of character, attracted Christians and heathen alike, in large numbers, to hear and see him, and, if possible, to derive some physical benefit from his touch. He denounced Arianism as the worst of heresies, and was solemnly escorted out of town by the bishop in person. As an annalist toward the close of the century tells us, ‘Antony, the great leader, came to Alexandria, and though he remained there only two days, shewed himself wonderful in many things, and healed many. He departed on the third of Messori’ (i.e., July 27, 338).
Meanwhile the Eusebians were busy. In the new Emperor Constantius, the Nicomedian found a willing patron: probably his translation to the See of Constantinople falls at this time. It was represented to the Emperor that the restoration of the exiled Bishops in 337, and especially that of Athanasius, was against all ecclesiastical order. Men deposed by a Synod of the Church had presumed to return to their sees under the sanction of the secular authority. This was technically true, but the proceedings at Tyre were regarded by Athan. as depriving that Synod of any title to ecclesiastical authority (pp. 104, 271). It is impossible to accept au pied. de la lettre the protests on either side against state interference with the Church: both parties were willing to use it on their own side, and to protest against its use by their opponents. Constantine had summoned54 the Council of Nicaea, had (Soz. 1,17) fixed the order of its proceedings, and had enforced its decisions by civil penalties. The indignant rhetoric of Hist. Ar. 52 (p. 289) might mutatis nominibus have been word for word the remonstrance of a Secundus or Theonas against the great Ecumenical Synod of Christendom. At Tyre, Jerusalem, and CP., the Eusebians had their turn, and again at Antioch, 338–341. The Council of Sardica relied on the protection of Constans, that of Philippopolis on Constantius. The reign of the latter was the period of Arian triumph; that of Theodosius secured authority to the Catholics. The only consistent opponents of civil intervention in Church affairs were the Donatists in the West and the Eunomians or later Arians in the East (with the obscure exception of Secundus and Theonas, the original Arians cannot claim the compliment paid by Fialon, p. 115, to their independence). To the Donatists is due the classical protest against Erastianism, ‘Quid Imperatori cum ecclesia’(D. C. B. 1,652). Believing, as the present writer does, that the Donatist protest expresses a true principle, and that the subjection of religion to the State is equally mischievous with that of the State to the Church, it is impossible not to regret these consequences of the conversion of Constantine. But allowance must be made for the sanguine expectations with which the astonishing novelty of a Christian Emperor filled men’s minds. It was only as men came to realise that the civil sword might be drawn in support of heresy that they began to reflect on the impropriety of allowing to even a Christian Emperor a voice in Church councils. Athanasius was the first to grasp this clearly. The voice of protest55 sounds in the letter of the Egyptian Synod of 338–9; throughout his exiles he steadily regarded himself, and was regarded by his flock, as the sole rightful Bishop of Alexandria, and continued to issue his Easter Letters from first to last. At the same time, it must be admitted that if he was right in returning to Alexandria in 337 without restoration by a Synod, he could not logically object to the return of Eusebius and Theognis (p. 104), who had not been deposed at Nicaea, but banished by the Emperor. The technical rights of Chrestus and Amphion (l. c.) were no better than those of Gregory or George. The spiritual elevation of Athanasius over the head and shoulders of his opponents is plain to ourselves; we see clearly the moral contrast between the councils of Rome and Antioch (340–41), of Sardica and Philippopolis (343), of Alexandria (362) and Seleucia (359). But to men like the Eastern ‘conservatives’ the technical point of view necessarily presented itself with great force, and in judging of their conduct we must not assume that it was either meaningless diabolism or deliberate sympathy with Arianism that led so many bishops of good character to see in Athanasius and the other exiles contumacious offenders against Church order. (I am quite unable to accept M. Fialon’s sweeping verdict upon the majority of Oriental bishops as ‘weak, vicious, more devoted to their own interests than to the Church,’ &c., p. 116. He takes as literally exact the somewhat turgid rhetorical complaints of Greg. Naz).
But the Eusebians were not limited to technical complaints. They had stirring accounts to give of the disorders which the return of Athanasius had excited, of the ruthless severity with which they had been put down by the prefect, who was, it was probably added, a mere tool in the hands of the bishop. Accordingly in the course of 338 the subservient Theodorus was recalled, and Philagrius the Cappadocian, who had governed with immense56 popularity in 335–337 (Fest. Ind. and p. 107 sq.), was sent to fill the office a second time. This was regarded at Alexandria as an Arian triumph (see (p. 527, note 2). His arrival did not tend to allay the disorders. Old charges against Athanasius were raked up, and a new one added, namely that of embezzlement of the corn appropriated to the support of widows by the imperial bounty. The Emperor appears to have sent a letter of complaint to Athanasius (p. 273), but to have paid little attention to his defence. The Eusebians now ventured to send a bishop of their own to Alexandria in the person of Pistus, one of the original Arian presbyters, who was consecrated by the implacable Secundus. The date of this proceeding is obscure, probably it was conducted in an irregular manner, so as to render it possible to ignore it altogether if, as proved to be the case, a stronger candidate should be necessary. First, however, it was necessary to try the temper of the West. A deputation consisting of a presbyter Macarius and two deacons, Martyrius and Hesychius, was sent to Julius, bishop of Rome, to lay before him the enormities of Athanasius, Marcellus, Paul, Asclepas and the rest, and to urge the superior title of Pistus to the recognition of the Church. But upon hearing of this Athanasius summoned the Egyptian Episcopate together (winter 338–339), and composed a circular letter (pp. 101–110) dealing fully with the charges against him, especially with regard to the manner of his election and the irregularity of his return a year before. Two presbyters carried the letter in haste to Rome, and enlightened the Church there as to the antecedents of Pistus. Next day it was announced that Macarius, ‘in spite of a bodily ailment,’ had decamped in the night. The deacons however remained, and requested Julius to call a council, undertaking that if Athanasius and the Eusebians were confronted all the charges brought by the latter should be made good. This proposal seemed unobjectionable, and Julius wrote inviting all parties to a council at Rome, or some other place to be agreed upon (p. 272); his messengers to the Eusebians were the Roman presbyters Elpidius and Philoxenus57 , (p. 111). The council was fixed for the following summer (so it would seem); but no reply was received from the Eusebians, who kept the presbyters in the East until the following January, when they at length started for Rome bearing a querulous and somewhat shifty reply (answered by Julius, p. 111, sqq).. But before the invitation had reached the Eusebians they had assembled at Antioch, where Constantius was in residence for the winter (laws dated Dec. 27; the court thereon January ? p. 92), repeated the deposition of Athanasius, and appointed Gregory, a Cappadocian, to succeed him. It had become clear that Pistus was a bad candidate; perhaps no formal synod could be induced to commit themselves to a man excommunicated at Nicaea and consecrated by Secundus. At any rate they tried to find an unexceptionable nominee. But their first, Eusebius, afterwards bishop of Emesa, refused the post, and so they came to Gregory58 , a former student of Alexandria, and under personal obligations to its bishop (Greg. Naz. Or. 21,15).
All was now ready for the blow at Athanasius. It fell in Lent (pp. 94, 503). His position since the arrival of Philagrius had been one of unrest. ‘In this year again,’ says our annalist, ‘there were many tumults. On the xxii Phamenoth (i.e. Sunday, Mar. 18, 339) he was sought after by his persecutors in the night. On the next morning he fled from the Church of Theonas after he had baptized many. Then on the fourth day (Mar. 22) Gregory the Cappadocian entered the city as bishop’ (Fest. Ind. xi).. But Athanasius (p. 95), remained quietly in the town for about four weeks more59 . He drew up for circulation ‘throughout the tribes’ (cf. Judges 19,29) a memorandum and appeal, describing the intrusion of Gregory and the gross outrages which had accompanied it. This letter was written on or just after Easter Day (April 15), and immediately after this he escaped from Alexandria and made his way to Rome. The data as to the duration of the periods of ‘quiet’ and exile fix the date of his departure for Easter Monday, April 16. This absence from Alexandria was his longest, lasting ‘ninety months and three days,’ i.e. from Pharmuthi 21 (April 16) 339 to Paophi 24 (October 21), 346.
(2). The Second Exile of Athanasius falls into two sections, the first of four years (p. 239), to the council of Sardica (339–343), the second of three years, to his return in Oct. 346. The odd six months cannot be distributed with certainty unless we can arrive at a more exact result than at present appears attainable for the month and duration of the Sardican synod.
In May, 339, Athanasius, accompanied by a few of his clergy (story of the ‘detachment’ of his monk Ammonius in Socr. 4,23, sub fin.), arrived at Rome. He was within three months followed by Marcellus, Paul of CP., Asclepas, and other exiles who had been restored at the end of 337 but had once more been ejected. Soon after, Carpones, an original Arian of Alexandria, appeared as envoy of Gregory. He confirmed all that had been alleged against Pistus, but failed to convince Julius that his own bishop was anything but an Arian. Meanwhile time wore on, and no reply came from the Eusebians. Athanasius gave himself up to enforced leisure and to the services of the Church. Instead of his usual Easter letter for the following spring, he sent a few lines to the clergy of Alexandria and a letter to his right-hand man, bishop Serapion of Thmuis, requesting him to make the necessary announcement of the season. Gregory made his first attempt (apparently also his last) to fix the Easter Festival, but in the middle of Lent, to the amusement of the public, discovered that a mistake had been made, the correction of which involved his adherents in an extra week of Lenten austerities. We can well imagine that the spectacle of the abstracted asceticism of Ammonius aroused the curiosity and veneration of the Roman Christians, and thus gave an impulse to the ascetic life in the West (see (Jerome, cited below, p. 191). That is all we know of the life of Athanasius during the first eighteen months of his stay at Rome.
In the early spring of 340 the presbyters returned (see (above) with a letter from a number of bishops, including the Eusebian leaders, who had assembled at Antioch in January. This letter is carefully dissected in the reply of the Roman Council, and appears to have been highly acrimonious in its tone. Julius kept it secret for a time (p. 111), hoping against hope that after all some of the Orientals would come for the council; but at length he gave up all expectations of the kind, and convoked the bishops of Italy, who examined the cases of the various exiles (p. 114). All the old charges against Athanasius were gone into with the aid of the Mareotic report (the ex parte character of which Julius strongly emphasises) and of the account of the proceedings at Tyre. The council had no difficulty in pronouncing Athanasius completely innocent on all points. The charge of ignoring the proceedings of a council was disposed of by pointing out the uncanonical character of Gregory’s appointment (p. 115), and the infraction by the complainants of the decrees of Nicaea. With regard to Marcellus, he responded to the request of the bishops by volunteering a written confession of his faith (p. 116, Epiph.Hoer. 72), which was in fact the creed of the Roman Church itself (Caspari, Quellen iii. 28, note, argues that the creed must have been tendered at an earlier visit, 336–337, but without cogent reasons). Either Julius and his bishops were (like the fathers of Sardica) very easily satisfied, or Marcellus exercised extreme reserve as to his peculiar tenets (Zahn, p. 71, makes out the best case he can for his candour). The other exiles were also pronounced innocent, and the synod ‘restored’ them all. It remained to communicate the result to the Oriental bishops. This was done by Julius in a letter drawn up in the name of the council, and preserved by Athanasius in his Apology. Its subject matter has been sufficiently indicated, but its statesmanlike logic and grave severity must be appreciated by reference to the document itself. It has been truly called ‘one of the ablest documents in the entire controversy.’ It is worth observing that Julius makes no claim whatever to pass a final judgment as successor of S. Peter, although the Orientals had expressly asserted the equal authority of all bishops, however important the cities in which they ruled (p. 113); on the contrary he merely claims that without his own consent, proceedings against bishops would lack the weight of universal consent (p. 118). At the same time he claims to be in possession of the traditions of S. Paul and especially of S. Peter, and is careful to found upon precedent (that of Dionysius) a claim to be consulted in matters alleged against a bishop of Alexandria. This claim, by its modesty, is in striking contrast with that which Socrates (ii. 17) and Sozom. (iii. 8, 10) make for him,-that owing to the greatness of his see, the care of all the churches pertained to him: and this again, which represents what the Greek Church of the early fifth century was accustomed to hear from Rome, is very different from the claim to a jurisdiction of divine right which we find formulated in Leo the Great.
The letter of Julius was considered at the famous Council of the Dedication (of Constantine’s ‘Golden’ Church at Antioch, see Eus. V.C. 3,50), held in the summer of 341 (between May 22 and Sept. 1, see Gwatkin, p. 114, note). Eusebius of Constantinople was there (he had only a few months longer to live), and most of the Arian leaders. Caesarea was represented by Acacius, who had succeeded Eusebius some two years before; a man of Whom we shall hear more. But of the ninety-odd bishops who attended, the majority must have been conservative in feeling, such as Dianius of Caesarea, who possibly presided. At any rate Hilary (de Syn. 32) calls it ‘a synod of saints,’ and its canons passed into the accepted body of Church Law. Their reply to Julius is not extant, but we gather from the historians that it was not conciliatory. (Socr. 2,15, 17; Soz. 3,8, 10; they are in such hopeless confusion as to dates and the order of events that it is difficult to use them here; Theodoret is more accurate but less full).
But the council marks an epoch in a more important respect; with it begins the formal Doctrinal Reaction against the Nicene Formula. We have traces of previous confessions, such as that of Arius and Euzoius, 330–335, and an alleged creed drawn up at CP. in 336. But only now begins the long series of attempts to raise some other formula to a position of equality with the Nicene, so as to eventually depose the omoousion from its position as an ecumenical test.
The first suggestion of a new creed came from the Arian bishops, who propounded a formula (p. 146, §22), with a disavowal of any intention of disparaging that of Nicaea (Socr. 2,10), but suspiciously akin to the evasive confession of Acius, and prefaced with a suicidally worded protest against being considered as followers of the latter. The fate of this creed in the council is obscure; but it would seem to have failed to commend itself to the majority, who put forward a creed alleged to have been composed by Lucian the martyr. This (see (above, p. xxviii, and p. 461, notes 5–9), was hardly true of the creed as it stood, but it may have been signed by Lucian as a test when he made his peace with bishop Cyril. At any rate the creed is catholic in asserting the exact Likeness of the Son to the Father’s Essence (yet the Arians could admit this as de facto true, though not originally so; only the word Essence would, if honestly taken, fairly exclude their sense), but anti-Nicene in omitting the omoousion, and in the phrase thmenupsasei tria, tphde sumfwnia en, an artfully chosen point of contact between Origen on the one hand, and Asterius, Lucian, and Paul of Samosata on the other. The anathemas, also, let in an Arian interpretation. This creed is usually referred to as the ‘Creed of the Dedication’ or ‘Lucianic’ Creed, and represents, on the one hand the extreme limit of concession to which Arians were willing to go, on the other the theological rallying point of the gradually forming body of reasoned conservative opinion which under the nickname of ‘semi-Arianism’ (Epiph). Hoer. 73; it was repudiated by Basil of Ancyra, &c). gradually worked toward the recognition of the Nicene formula.
A third formula was presented by Theophronius, bishop of Tyana, as a personal statement of belief, and was widely signed by way of approval. It insists like the Lucianic creed on the pretemporal gennhsi", against Marcellus, adding two other points (hypostatic pre-existence and eternal kingdom of the Son) in the same direction, and closing with an anathema against Marcellus, Sabellius, Paul, and all who communicate with any of their supporters. This was of course a direct defiance of Julius and the Westerns (Mr. Gwatkin, by a slip, assigns this anathema to the ‘fourth’ creed).
Lastly, a few months after the council late autumn of 341) a few bishops reassembled in order to send a deputation to Constans (since 340 sole Western Emperor). They decided to substitute for the genuine creeds of the council a fourth formulary, which accordingly the Arians Maris and Narcissus, and the neutrals Theodore of Heraclea and Marc of Arethusa, conveyed to the West. The assertion of the eternal reign of Christ was strengthened, and the name of Marcellus omitted, but the Nicene anathemas were skilfully adapted so as to strike at the Marcellian and admit the Arian doctrine of the divine Sonship. This creed became the basis on which the subsequent Arianising confessions of 343 (Philippopolis), 344 (Macrostich), and 351 (Sirmium) were moulded by additions to and modifications of the anathemas. This series of creeds mark ‘the stationary period of Arianism,’ i.e. between the close of the first generation (Arius, Asterius, Eusebius of Nicomedia) and the beginnings of the divergence of parties under the sole reign of Constantius. At present opposition to the school of Marcellus and to the impregnable strength of the West under a Catholic Emperor kept the reactionary party united.
It has been necessary to dwell upon the work of this famous Council in view of its subsequent importance. It is easy to see how the Eastern bishops were prevailed upon to take the bold step of putting forth a Creed to rival the Nicene formula. The formal approval of Marcellus at Rome shewed, so they felt, the inadequacy of that formula to exclude Sabellianism, or rather the direct support which that heresy could find in the word ‘homoüsion.’ This being so, provided they made it clear that they were not favouring Arianism, they would be doing no more than their duty in providing a more efficient test. But here the Arian group saw their opportunity. Conservative willingness to go behind Nicaea must be made to subserve the supreme end of revoking the condemnation of Arianism. Hence the confusion of counsels reflected in the multiplicity of creeds. The result pleased no one. The Lucianic Creed, with its anti-Arian clauses, tempered by equivocal qualifications, was a feeble and indirect weapon against Marcellus, who could admit in a sense the pre-aeonian gennhs" and the ‘true’ sonship. On the other hand, the three creeds which only succeeded in gaining secondary ratification, while express against Marcellus, were worthless as against Arianism. On the whole, the fourth creed, in spite of its irregular sanction, was found the most useful for the time (341–351); but as their doctrinal position took definite form, the Conservative wing fell back on the ‘Lucianic’ Creed, and found in it a bridge to the Nicene (cf. pp. 470, 472, Hil). de Syn. 33, and Gwatkin, p. 119, note).
(3). Athanasius remained in Rome more than three years after his departure from Alexandria (April, 339—May? 342, see p. 239). During the last of these years, the dispute connected with him had been referred by Julius to Constans, who had requested his brother to send some Oriental bishops with a statement of their case: this was the reason of the deputation (see (above) of the winter of 341. They found Constans at Treveri, but owing to the warnings of good Bishop Maximinus60 , he refused to accept their assurances, and sent them ignominiously away. This probably falls in the summer of 342, the deputation on arriving in Italy having found that Constans had already left Milan for his campaign against the Franks (Gwatkin, p. 122, note 3). If this be so, Constans had already made up his mind that a General Council was the only remedy, and had written to Constantius to arrange for one. Before leaving Milan he had summoned Athanasius from Rome, and announced to him what he had done. The young Prince was evidently an admirer of Athanasius, who had received from him in reply to a letter of self-defence, written from Alexandria, an order for certain puktia, or bound volumes of the Scriptures (see (Montfaucon, Animadv. xv., in Migne xxv., p. clxxvi).. The volumes had been delivered before this date. Constans hurried off to Gaul, while Athanasius remained at Milan, where he afterwards received a summons to follow the Emperor to Treveri61 ; here he met the venerable Hosius and others, and learned that the Emperors had fixed upon Sardica (now Sophia in Bulgaria), on the frontier line of the dominions of Constans62 , as the venue for the great Council, which was to assemble in the ensuing summer. Athanasius must have kept the Easter of 343 at Treveri: he had written his usual Easter letter (now lost) most probably from Rome or Milan, in the previous spring. The date of assembly and duration of the Sardican synod are, unfortunately, obscure. But the proceedings must have been protracted by the negotiations which ended in the departure of the Easterns, and (p. 124, note 2) by the care with which the evidence against the incriminated bishops was afterwards gone into63 .
We shall probably be safe in supposing that the Council occupied the whole of August and September, and that Constans sent Bishops Euphrates and Vincent to his brother at Antioch as soon as the worst weather of winter was over.
The Western bishops assembled at Sardica to the number of about 95 (see (p. 147). Athanasius, Marcellus, and Asclepas arrived with Hosius from Treveri. Paul of Constantinople, for some unknown reason, was absent, but was represented by Asclepas64 . The Orientals came in a body, and with suspicion. They had the Counts Musonianus and Hesychius, and (according to Fest. Ind., cf. p. 276) the ex-Prefect Philagrius, as advisers and protectors: they were lodged in a body at the Palace of Sophia. The proceedings were blocked by a question of privilege. The Easterns demanded that the accused bishops should not be allowed to take their seats in the Council; the majority replied that, pending the present enquiry, all previous decisions against them must be in fairness considered suspended. There was something to be said on both sides (see (Hefele, p. 99), but on the whole, the synod being convoked expressly to re-hear both sides, the majority were perhaps justified in refusing to exclude the accused. A long interchange (p. 119), of communications followed, and at last, alleging that they were summoned home by the news of the victory in the Persian war, the minority disappeared by night, sending their excuse by the Sardican Presbyter Eustathius (p. 275). At Philippopolis, within the dominions of Constantius, they halted and drew up a long and extremely wild and angry statement of what had occurred, deposing and condemning all concerned, from Hosius, Julius and Athanasius downward. They added the Antiochene Confession (‘fourth’ of 341), with the addition of some anathemas directed at the system of Marcellus. Among the signatures, which included most of the surviving Arian leaders, along with Basil of Ancyra, and other moderate men, we recognise that of Ischyras, ‘bishop from the Mareotis,’ who had enjoyed the dignity without the burdens of the Episcopate since the Council of Tyre (p. 144). The document was sent far and wide, among the rest to the Donatists of Africa (Hef, p. 171).
This rupture doomed the purpose of the council to failure: instead of leading to agreement it had made the difference a hopeless one. But the Westerns were still a respectable number, and might do much to forward the cause of justice and of the Nicene Faith. Two of the Easterns had joined them, Asterius of Petra and Arius, bishop of an unknown see in Palestine. The only other Oriental present, Diodorus of Tenedos, appears to have come, like Asclepas, &c., independently of the rest. The work of the council was partly judicial, partly legislative. The question was raised of issuing a supplement to, or formula explanatory of, the Nicene creed, and a draft (preserved Thdt. H.E. 2,8) was actually made, but the council declined to sanction anything which should imply that the Nicene creed was insufficient (p. 484, correcting Thdt). ubi supra, and Soz. 3,12).
The charges against all the exiles were carefully examined and dismissed. This was also the case with the complaints against the orthodoxy of Marcellus, who was allowed to evade the very point which gave most offence (p. 125). Probably the ocular evidence (p. 124) of the violence which many present had suffered, indisposed the fathers to believe any accusations from such a quarter. The synod next proceeded to legislate. Their canons were twenty in number, the most important being canons 3–5, which permit a deposed bishop to demand the reference of his case to ‘Julius bishop of Rome,’ ‘honouring the memory of Peter the Apostle;’ the deposition to be suspended pending such reference; the Roman bishop, if the appeal seem reasonable, to request the rehearing of the case in its own province, and if at the request of the accused he sends a presbyter to represent him, such presbyter to rank as though he were his principal in person. The whole scheme appears to be novel and to have been suggested by the history of the case of the exiles. The canons are very important in their subsequent history, but need not be discussed here. (Elaborate discussions in Hefele, pp. 112–129; see also D.C.A. pp. 127 sq., 1658, 1671, Greenwood, Cath. Petr. 1,204–08, D.C.B. 3,662 a, and especially 529–531). The only legislation, however, to which Athanasius alludes is that establishing a period of 50 years during which Rome and Alexandria should agree as to the period for Easter (Fest. Ind. xv., infr. p. 544, also Hefele pp. 157 sqq.). The arrangement averted a dispute in 346, but differences occurred in spite of it in 349, 350, 360, and 368.
The synod addressed an encyclical letter to all Christendom (p. 123), embodying their decisions and announcing their deposition of eight or nine Oriental bishops (including Theodore of Heraclea, Acacius, and several Arian leaders) for complicity with Arianism. They also wrote to the Church of Alexandria and to the bishops of Egypt with special reference to Athanasius and to the Alexandrian Church, to Julius announcing their decisions, and to the Mareotis (Migne 26,1331 sqq. printed with Letters 46, 47. Hefele 2,165 questions the genuineness of all three, but without reason; see p. 554, note 1).
The effect of the Council was not at first pacific. Constantius shared the indignation of the Eastern bishops, and began severe measures against all the Nicene-minded bishops in his dominions (pp. 275 sqq). Theodulus, Bishop of Trajanople, died of his injuries before the Sardican Bishops had completed their work. At Hadrianople savage cruelties were perpetrated (ib.); and a close watch was instituted in case Athanasius should attempt to return on the strength of his synodical acquittal. Accordingly, he passed the winter and spring at Naissus (now Nish, see Fest. Ind. xvi)., and during the summer, in obedience to an invitation from Constans, repaired to Aquileia, where he spent the Easter of 345.
Meanwhile, Constans had made the cause of the Sardican majority his own. At the beginning of the year 344 he sent two of its most respected members to urge upon Constantius the propriety of restoring the exiles. Either now or later he hinted that refusal would be regarded by him as a casus belli.His remonstrance gained unexpected moral support from an episode, strange even in that age of unprincipled intrigue. In rage and pain at the apparent success of the envoys, Stephen, Bishop of Antioch, sought to discredit them by a truly diabolical trick (see (p. 276). Its discovery, just after Easter, 344, roused the moral sense of Constantius. A Council was summoned, and met during the summer65 (p. 462, §26, ‘three years after’ the Dedication at Midsummer, 341). Stephen was ignominiously deposed (see Gwatkin 125, note 1), and Leontius, an Arian, but a lover of quiet and a temporiser, appointed. The Council also re-issued the ‘fourth’ Antiochene Creed with a very long explanatory addition, mildly condemning certain Arian phrases, fiercely anathemarising Marcellus and Photinus, and with a side-thrust at supposed implications of the Nicene formula. A deputation was sent to Italy, consisting of Eudoxius of Germanicia and three others. They reached Milan at the Synod of 345, and were able to procure a condemnation of Photinus (not Marcellus), but on being asked to anathematise Arianism refused, and retired in anger. At the same Synod of Milan, however, Valens and Ursacius, whose deposition at Sardica was in imminent danger of being enforced by Constans, followed the former example of Eusebius of Nicomedia, Maris, Theognis, and Arius himself, by making their submission, which was followed up two years later by a letter in abject terms addressed to Julius, and another in a tone of veiled insolence to Athanasius (p. 131). In return, they were able to beat up a Synod at Sirmium against Photinus (Hil). Frag. 2,19), but without success in the attempt to dislodge him.
Meanwhile, Constantius had followed up the Council at Antioch by cancelling his severe measures against the Nicene party. He restored to Alexandria certain Presbyters whom he had expelled, and in the course of the summer wrote a public letter to forbid any further persecution of the Athanasians in that city. This must have been in August, 344, and ‘about ten months later’ (p. 277), i.e., on June 26, 345 (F. I xviii)., Gregory, who had been in bad health for fully four years, died66 . Constantius, according to his own statement (pp. 127, 277), had already before the death of Gregory written twice to Athanasius (from Edessa; he was at Nisibis on May 12, 345), and had sent a Presbyter to request him urgently to come and see him with a view to his eventual restoration. As Gregory was known to be in a dying state, this is quite intelligible, but the language of Hist. Ar. 21, which seems to put all all three letters after Gregory’s death, cannot stand if we are to accept the assurance of Constantius. Athanasius, at any rate, hesitated to obey, and stayed on at Aquileia (344 till early in 346), where he received a third and still more pressing invitation, promising him immediate restoration. He at once went to Rome to bid farewell to Julius, who wrote (p. 128 sq). a most cordial and nobly-worded letter of congratulation for Athanasius to take home to his Church. Thence he proceeded to Trier to take leave of Constans (p. 239), and rapidly travelled by way of Hadrianople (p. 276) to Antioch (p. 240), where he was cordially received67 by Constantius. His visit was short but remarkable. Constantius gave him the strongest assurances (pp. 277, 285) of goodwill for the future, but begged that Athanasius would allow the Arians at Alexandria the use of a single Church. He replied that he would do so if the Eustathians of Antioch (with whom alone he communicated during this visit) might have the same privilege. But this Leontius would not sanction, so the proposal came to nothing (Soc. 2,23, Soz. iii. 20), and Athanasius hastened on his way. At Jerusalem he was detained by the welcome of a Council, which Bishop Maximus had summoned to greet him (p. 130), but on the twenty-first of October his reception by his flock took place; ‘the people, and those in authority, met him a hundred miles distant’ (Fest. Ind. xviii)., and amid splendid rejoicings (cf. p. xlii., note 3), he entered Alexandria, to remain there in ‘quiet’ ‘nine years, three months and nineteen days’ (Hist. Aceph. iv., cf. p. 496), viz., from Paophi 24 (Oct. 21), 346, to Mechir 13 (Feb. 8), 356. This period was his longest undisturbed residence in his see; he entered upon it in the very prime of life (he was 48 years old), and its internal happiness earns it the title of a golden decade.
54 As he had previously referred the Donatist schism to the commission of Rome and the Council of Arles.
55 But they complain, p. 104, §8, of coercion not of Erastianism.
56 The ordinary time for the entry of the Prefect upon his duties seems to have been about the end of the Egyptian Year (end of August). Accordingly the prefectures and years in Fest. Ind. roughly correspond: Philagrius was already Prefect when the Mareotic Commission arrived (Aug. 335). According to the headings to the Festal Letters vi., 7,, he had superseded Paternus in 334: either the Index or the headings are mistaken. For the popularity of Philagrius, see Greg. Naz). Orat. xxi. 28, who mentions that his reappointment was due to the request of a deputation from Alex. (this must have come from the Arians!) and that the rejoicings which welcomed his return exceeded any that could have greeted the Emperor, and nearly equalled those which had welcomed the return of Athanasius himself. But Gregory is a rhetorician; see p. 138, and Tillem. 8,664).
57 It is possible, however, that these carried a second letter, after the arrival of Ath. See pp. 110, 273.
58 Gregory shewed his Arianism by employing Ammon as his secretary, see p. 96. The curious parallelism between Gregory and George (infr. §8),—the names differing (in Latin) by a single letter only, both Arians, both Cappadocians, both intruded bishops of Alexandria, both arriving from court, both arriving in Lent, both exercising violence, both charged by Ath. with the storming of churches, with similar scenes of desecration, maltreatment of virgins, &c., in either case,—is one of the strangest examples of history repeating itself within a few years. What wonder that the fifth-century historians confuse the two still further together, and that they still find followers? The most important point of confusion is the alleged murder of Gregory (due to Theodoret), who really died a natural death. It is none too soon for this time-honoured blunder to do the like. On the inveterate tendency of Georges and Gregories to coalesce, and exchange names in transcription (to say nothing of modern typography), see D.C.B. ii. pp. 640—650, 778 sq., 798 sq., passim.
59 In some church other than ‘Theonas,’ probably ‘Quirinus,’ which latter, however, was stormed on Easter Day, pp. 273, 95, note 3. The statement, Hist. Ar. 10, that he sailed for Rome before Gregory’s arrival is in any case verbally inexact, but it may refer to his flight from ‘Theonas.’
60 Bitter complaint in Hil). Fragm. iii. 27; cf). infr. p. 462, Soz. 3,10, who wrongly gives ‘Italy’ as the place.
61 This may have been in the autumn, after the close of the campaign, but see infr. ch. 5,§3, c, d
62 Hefele 1,91, is singular in placing it in the empire of Constantius. The Ichtiman range between Sophia and Philippopolis was the natural boundary between Thrace and Moesia, or ‘Dacia. Media.’
63 On the one hand the deputation after the council reached Constantius at Antioch about Easter (April 15), 344. They were, however sent not directly by the Council, but by Constans after its close (Thdt. 2,8). We may be certain that their arrival at Antioch was at the very least two months after the close of the council; but in all probability the interval was much longer. Again, the course of events described above forbids us to put the council earlier than the early summer of 343. But according to the Festal Index 15,the council at any rate began before the end of August in that year. If the bishops left their churches after Easter (a very natural and usual arrangement, compare Nicaea, the Dedication, &c)., they could easily assemble by the end of June. The Orientals came somewhat later. The beginning of July is accordingly our terminus a quo, the end of January our terminus ad quem. What exact part of the interval the council occupied we cannot decide).
64 The statement in the synodal letter of Philippolis that Asclepas had been deposed ‘seventeen’ years before is clearly corrupt. The true reading may be ‘seven’ (council of CP. in 336) or xiii, which might easily be changed to 17,(Cf. Hefele, pp. 89, 90)).
65 The ‘ten months’ of Hist. Ar. 21, p. 277, are to be reckoned, not from Easter 344, but from the letters of Const. to Alexandria some months after.
66 It must be observed that the Index is loose in its statement here: see Gwatkin, p. 105, Sievers, p. 108. The statement of Thdt., &c., that he was murdered is simply due to the usual confusion of Gregory with George (cf. p. 43,note 5).
67 This visit cannot have been between May 7 and Aug. 27, when Const. was at CP. Nor can it well have been before May 7. We must, therefore, with Sievers, p. 110, put it in September. Yet see Gwatkin, p. 127, note).