Chapter XXV.—Of the Presbyter who exerted himself for the Recall of Arius. 237
The Emperor Constantine had a sister named Constantia, the widow of Licinius, who had for some time shared the imperial dignity with Constantine, but had assumed tyrannical powers and had been put to death in consequence. This princess maintained in her household establishment a certain confidential presbyter, tinctured with the dogmas of Arianism; Eusebius and others having prompted him, he took occasion in his familiar conversations with Constantia, to insinuate that the Synod had done Arius injustice, and that the common report concerning him was not true. Constantia gave full credence to the presbyters assertions, but durst not report them to the emperor. Now it happened that she became dangerously ill, and her brother visited her daily. As the disease became aggravated and she expected to die, she commended this presbyter to the emperor, testifying to his diligence and piety, as well as his devoted loyalty to his sovereign. She died soon after, whereupon the presbyter became one of the most confidential persons about the emperor; and having gradually increased in freedom of speech, he repeated to the emperor what he had before stated to his sister, affirming that Arius had no other views than the sentiments avowed by the Synod; and that if he were admitted to the imperial presence, he would give his full assent to what the Synod had decreed: he added, moreover, that he had been unreasonably slandered. The presbyters words appeared strange to the emperor, and he said, If Arius subscribes with the Synod and holds its views, I will both give him an audience, and send him back to Alexandria with honor. Having thus said, he immediately wrote to him in these words:
It was intimated to your reverence some time since, that you might come to my court, in order to obtain an interview with us. We are not a little surprised that you did not do this immediately. Wherefore having at once mounted a public vehicle, hasten to arrive at our court; that when you have experienced our clemency and regard for you, you may return to your own country. May God protect you, beloved. Dated the twenty-fifth of November.
This was the letter of the emperor to Arius. And I cannot but admire the ardent zeal which the prince manifested for religion: for it appears from this document that he had often before exhorted Arius to change his views, inasmuch as he censures his delaying to return to the truth, although he had himself written frequently to him. Now on the receipt of this letter, Arius came to Constantinople accompanied by Euzoïus, whom Alexander had divested of his deaconship when he excommunicated Arius and his partisans. The emperor accordingly admitted them to his presence, and asked them whether they would agree to the creed. And when they readily gave their assent, he ordered them to deliver to him a written statement of their faith.
Cf. Rufinus, H. E. I. 11. The fact that the name of this presbyter is not mentioned, and Athanasius apparent ignorance of the story, together with the untrustworthiness of Rufinus, throw suspicion on the authenticity of this account. Cf. also ch. 39, note 2.
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