Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Ecclesiastical History, Dialogues, and Letters of Theodoret.: Of the causes which separated the Eunomians from the Arians.
Chapter XXV.—Of the causes which separated the Eunomians from the Arians.
Eunomius in his writings praises Aetius, styles him a man of God, and honours him with many compliments. Yet he was at that time closely associated with the party by whom Aetius had been repudiated, and to them he owed his election to his bishopric.
Now the followers of Eudoxius and Acacius, who had assented to the decrees put forth at Nice in Thrace, already mentioned in this history, appointed other bishops in the churches of the adherents of Basilius and Eleusius in their stead. On other points I think it superfluous to write in detail. I purpose only to relate what concerns Eunomius.
For when Eunomius had seized on the see of Cyzicus in the lifetime of Eleusius, Eudoxius urged him to hide his opinions and not make them known to the party who were seeking a pretext to persecute him. Eudoxius was moved to offer this advice both by his knowledge that the diocese was sound in the faith and his experience of the anger manifested by Constantius against the party who asserted the only begotten Son of God to be a created being. “Let us” said he to Eunomius “bide our time; when it comes we will preach what now we are keeping dark; educate the ignorant; and win over or compel or punish our opponents.” Eunomius, yielding to these suggestions, propounded his impious doctrine under the shadow of obscurity. Those of his hearers who had been nurtured on the divine oracles saw clearly that his utterances concealed under their surface a foul fester of error. 581
But however distressed they were they considered it less the part of prudence than of rashness to make any open protest, so they assumed a mask of heretical heterodoxy, and paid a visit to the bishop at his private residence with the earnest request that he would have regard to the distress of men borne hither and thither by different doctrines, and would plainly expound the truth. Eunomius thus emboldened declared the sentiments which he secretly held. The deputation then went on to remark that it was unfair and indeed quite wrong for the whole of his diocese to be prevented from having their share of the truth. By these and similar arguments he was induced to lay bare his blasphemy in the public assemblies of the church. Then his opponents hurried with angry fervour to Constantinople; first they indicted him before Eudoxius, and when Eudoxius refused to see them, sought an audience of the emperor and made lamentation over the ruin their bishop was wreaking among them. “The sermons of Eunomius,” they said, “are more impious than the blasphemies of Arius.” The wrath of Constantius was roused, and he commanded Eudoxius to send for Eunomius, and, on his conviction, to strip him of his bishopric. Eudoxius, of course, though again and again importuned by the accusers, continued to delay taking action. Then once more they approached the emperor with vociferous complaints that Eudoxius had not obeyed the imperial commands in any single particular, and was perfectly indifferent to the delivery of an important city to the blasphemies of Eunomius. Then said Constantius to Eudoxius, if you do not fetch Eunomius and try him, and on conviction of the charges brought against him, punish him, I shall exile you. This threat frightened Eudoxius, so he wrote to Eunomius to escape from Cyzicus, and told him he had only himself to blame because he had not followed the hints given him. Eunomius accordingly withdrew in alarm, but he could not endure the disgrace, and endeavoured to fix the guilt of his betrayal on Eudoxius, maintaining that both he and Aetius had been cruelly treated. And from that time he set up a sect of his own for all the men who were of his way of thinking and condemned his betrayal, separated from Eudoxius and joined with Eunomius, whose name they bear up to this day. So Eunomius became the founder of a heresy, and added to the blasphemy of Arius by his own peculiar guilt. He set up a sect of his own because he was a slave to his ambition, as the facts distinctly prove. For when Aetius was condemned and exiled, Eunomius p. 91 refused to accompany him, though he called him his master and a man of God, but remained closely associated with Eudoxius.
But when his turn came he paid the penalty of his iniquity; he did not submit to the vote of the synod, but began to ordain bishops and presbyters, though himself deprived of his episcopal rank. These then were the deeds done at Constantinople.
On the picturesque word ὕπουλος cf. Hipp: XXI, 32; Plat: Gorg. 518 E. and the well-known passage in the Œd: Tyrannus (1396) where Œdipus speaks of the promise of his youth as “a fair outside all fraught with ills below.”
Next: Of the siege of the city of Nisibis, and the apostolic conversation of Bishop Jacobus.
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