Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. II: The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus.: The Death of Arius.Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Chapter XXXVIII.—The Death of Arius. 257
Such was the supplication of Alexander. Meanwhile the emperor, being desirous of personally examining Arius, sent for him to the palace, and asked him whether he would assent to the determinations of the Synod at Nicæa. He without hesitation replied in the affirmative, and subscribed the declaration of the faith in the emperors presence, acting with duplicity. The emperor, surprised at his ready compliance, obliged him to confirm his signature by an oath. This also he did with equal dissimulation. The way he evaded, as I have heard, was this: he wrote his own opinion on paper, and carried it under his arm, so that he then swore truly that he really held the sentiments he had written. That this is so, however, I have written from hearsay, but that he added an oath to his subscription, I have myself ascertained, from an examination of the emperors own letters. The emperor being thus convinced, ordered that he should be received into communion by Alexander, bishop of Constantinople. It was then Saturday, and Arius was expecting to assemble with the church on the day following: but divine retribution overtook his daring criminalities. For going out of the imperial palace, attended by a crowd of Eusebian partisans like guards, he paraded proudly through the midst of the city, attracting the notice of all the people. As he p. 35 approached the place called Constantines Forum, where the column of porphyry is erected, a terror arising from the remorse of conscience seized Arius, and with the terror a violent relaxation of the bowels: he therefore enquired whether there was a convenient place near, and being directed to the back of Constantines Forum, he hastened thither. Soon after a faintness came over him, and together with the evacuations his bowels protruded, followed by a copious hemorrhage, and the descent of the smaller intestines: moreover portions of his spleen and liver were brought off in the effusion of blood, so that he almost immediately died. The scene of this catastrophe still is shown at Constantinople, as I have said, behind the shambles in the colonnade: and by persons going by pointing the finger at the place, there is a perpetual remembrance preserved of this extraordinary kind of death. So disastrous an occurrence filled with dread and alarm the party of Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia; and the report of it quickly spread itself over the city and throughout the whole world. As the king grew more earnest in Christianity and confessed that the confession at Nicæa was attested by God, he rejoiced at the occurrences. He was also glad because of his three sons whom he had already proclaimed Cæsars; one of each of them having been created at every successive decennial anniversary of his reign. To the eldest, whom he called Constantine, after his own name, he assigned the government of the western parts of the empire, on the completion of his first decade. His second son Constantius, who bore his grandfathers name, he constituted Cæsar in the eastern division, when the second decade had been completed. And Constans, the youngest, he invested with a similar dignity, in the thirtieth year of his own reign.
For a reproduction of the circumstances related in this chapter, together with a historical estimate of them based on additional evidence, see Neander, Hist. of the Christ. Ch. Vol. II. p. 384–388.
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