Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Defence Against the Arians. (Apologia Contra Arianos.): Documents connected with the Council of Tyre.
Chapter VI.—Documents connected with the Council of Tyre.
71. Thus ended the conspiracy. The Meletians were repulsed and covered with shame; but notwithstanding this Eusebius and his fellows still did not remain quiet, for it was not for the Meletians but for Arius and his fellows, that they cared, and they were afraid lest, if the proceedings of the former should be stopped, they should no longer find persons to play the parts 691 , by whose assistance they might bring in that heresy. They therefore again stirred up the Meletians, and persuaded the Emperor to give orders that a Council should be held afresh at Tyre, and Count Dionysius was despatched thither, and a military guard was given to Eusebius and his fellows. Macarius also was sent as a prisoner to Tyre under a guard of soldiers; and the Emperor wrote to me, and laid a peremptory command upon me, so that, however unwilling, I set out. The whole conspiracy may be understood from the letters which the Bishops of Egypt wrote; but it will be necessary to relate how it was contrived by them in the outset, that so may be perceived the malice and wickedness that was exercised against me. There are in Egypt, Libya, and Pentapolis, nearly one hundred Bishops; none of whom laid anything to my charge; none of the Presbyters found any fault with me; none of the people spoke aught against me; but it was the Meletians who were ejected by Peter, and the Arians, that divided the plot between them, while the one party claimed to themselves the right of accusing me, the other of sitting in judgment on the case. I objected to Eusebius and his fellows as being my enemies on account of the heresy; next, I shewed in the following manner that the person who was called my accuser was not a Presbyter at all. When Meletius was admitted into communion (would that he had never been so admitted 692 !) the blessed Alexander who knew his craftiness required of him a schedule of the Bishops whom he said he had in Egypt, and of the presbyters and deacons that were in Alexandria itself, and if he had any in the country district. This the Pope Alexander has done, lest Meletius, having received the freedom of the Church, should tender 693 many, and thus continually, by a fraudulent procedure, foist upon us whomsoever he pleased. Accordingly he has made out the following schedule of those in Egypt.
A schedule presented by Meletius to the Bishop Alexander.
I, Meletius of Lycopolis, Lucius of Antinopolis, Phasileus of Hermopolis, Achilles of Cusæ, Ammonius of Diospolis.
In Ptolemais, Pachymes of Tentyræ.
In Maximianopolis, Theodorus of Coptus.
In Thebais, Cales of Hermethes, Colluthus of Upper Cynopolis, Pelagius of Oxyrynchus, Peter of Heracleopolis, Theon of Nilopolis, Isaac 694 of Letopolis, Heraclides of Niciopolis 695 , Isaac of Cleopatris, Melas of Arsenoitis.
In Heliopolis, Amos of Leontopolis, Ision of Athribis.
In Pharbethus, Harpocration of Bubastus, Moses of Phacusæ, Callinicus 696 of Pelusium, Eudæmon of Tanis 697 , Ephraim of Thmuis.
In Sais, Hermæon of Cynopolis and Busiris, Soterichus of Sebennytus, Pininuthes of Phthenegys, Cronius of Metelis, Agathammon of the district of Alexandria.
In Memphis, John who was ordered by the Emperor to be with the Archbishop 698 . These are those of Egypt.
And the Clergy that he had in Alexandria were Apollonius Presbyter, Irenæus Presbyter, Dioscorus Presbyter, Tyrannus Presbyter. And Deacons; Timotheus Deacon, Antinous Deacon, Hephæstion Deacon. And Macarius Presbyter of Parembole 699 .
72. These Meletius presented actually in person 700 to the Bishop Alexander, but he made no mention of the person called Ischyras, nor ever p. 138 professed at all that he had any Clergy in the Mareotis. Notwithstanding our enemies did not desist from their attempts, but still he that was no Presbyter was feigned to be one, for there was the Count ready to use compulsion towards us, and soldiers were hurrying us about. But even then the grace of God prevailed: for they could not convict Macarius in the matter of the cup; and Arsenius, whom they reported to have been murdered by me, stood before them alive and shewed the falseness of their accusation. When therefore they were unable to convict Macarius, Eusebius and his fellows, who became enraged that they had lost the prey of which they had been in pursuit, persuaded the Count Dionysius, who is one of them, to send to the Mareotis, in order to see whether they could not find out something there against the Presbyter, or rather that they might at a distance patch up their plot as they pleased in our absence: for this was their aim. However,—when we represented that the journey to the Mareotis was a superfluous undertaking (for that they ought not to pretend that statements were defective which they had been employed upon so long, and ought not now to defer the matter; for they had said whatever they thought they could say, and now being at a loss what to do, they were making pretences); or if they must needs go to the Mareotis, that at least the suspected parties should not be sent,—the Count was convinced by my reasoning, with respect to the suspected persons; but they did anything rather than what I proposed, for the very persons whom I objected against on account of the Arian heresy, these were they who promptly went off, viz. Diognius, Maris, Theodorus, Macedonius, Ursacius, and Valens. Again, letters were written to the Prefect of Egypt and a military guard was provided; and, what was remarkable and altogether most suspicious, they caused Macarius the accused party to remain behind under a guard of soldiers, while they took with them the accuser 701 . Now who after this does not see through this conspiracy? Who does not clearly perceive the wickedness of Eusebius and his fellows? For if a judicial enquiry must needs take place in the Mareotis, the accused also ought to have been sent thither. But if they did not go for the purpose of such an enquiry, why did they take the accuser? It was enough that he had not been able to prove the fact. But this they did in order that they might carry on their designs against the absent Presbyter, whom they could not convict when present, and might concoct a plan as they pleased. For when the Presbyters of Alexandria and of the whole district found fault with them because they were there by themselves, and required that they too might be present at their proceedings (for they said that they knew both the circumstances of the case, and the history of the person named Ischyras), they would not allow them; and although they had with them Philagrius the Prefect of Egypt 702 , who was an apostate, and heathen soldiers, during an enquiry which it was not becoming even for Catechumens to witness, they would not admit the Clergy, lest there as well as at Tyre there might be those who would expose them.
73. But in spite of these precautions they were not able to escape detection: for the Presbyters of the City and of the Mareotis, perceiving their evil designs, addressed to them the following protest.
To Theognius, Maris, Macedonius, Theodorus, Ursacius, and Valens, the Bishops who have come from Tyre, these from the Presbyters and Deacons of the Catholic Church of Alexandria under the most reverend Bishop Athanasius.
It was incumbent upon you when you came hither and brought with you the accuser, to bring also the Presbyter Macarius; for trials are appointed by Holy Scripture to be so constituted, that the accuser and accused may stand up together. But since neither you brought Macarius, nor our most reverend Bishop Athanasius came hither with you, we claimed for ourselves the right of being present at the investigation, that we might see that the enquiry was conducted impartially, and might ourselves be convinced of the truth. But when you refused to allow this, and wished, in company only with the Prefect of Egypt and the accuser, to do whatever you pleased, we confess that we saw a suspicion of evil in the affair, and perceived that your coming was only the act of a cabal and a conspiracy. Wherefore we address to you this letter, to be a testimony before a genuine Council, that it may be known to all men, that you have carried on an ex parte proceeding and for your own ends, and have desired nothing else but to form a conspiracy against us. A copy of this, lest it should be kept secret by you, we have handed in to Palladius also the Controller 703 of Augustus. For what you have already done causes us to suspect you, and to p. 139 reckon on the like conduct from you hereafter.
I Dionysius Presbyter have handed in this letter. Alexander Presbyter, Nilaras Presbyter, Longus Presbyter, Aphthonius Presbyter, Athanasius Presbyter, Amyntius Presbyter, Pistus Presbyter, Plution Presbyter, Dioscorus Presbyter, Apollonius Presbyter, Sarapion Presbyter, Ammonius Presbyter, Gaius Presbyter, Rhinus Presbyter, Æthales Presbyter.
Deacons; Marcellinus Deacon, Appianus Deacon, Theon Deacon, Timotheus Deacon, a second Timotheus Deacon.
74. This is the letter, and these the names of the Clergy of the city; and the following was written by the Clergy of the Mareotis, who know the character of the accuser, and who were with me in my visitation.
To the holy Council of blessed Bishops of the Catholic Church, all the Presbyters and Deacons of the Mareotis send health in the Lord.
Knowing that which is written, Speak that thine eyes have seen, and, A false witness shall not be unpunished 704 , we testify what we have seen, especially since the conspiracy which has been formed against our Bishop Athanasius has made our testimony necessary. We wonder how Ischyras ever came to be reckoned among the number of the Ministers of the Church, which is the first point we think it necessary to mention. Ischyras never was a Minister of the Church; but when formerly he represented himself to be a Presbyter of Colluthus, he found no one to believe him, except only his own relations 705 . For he never had a Church, nor was ever considered a Clergyman by those who lived but a short distance from his village, except only, as we said before, by his own relations. But, notwithstanding he assumed this designation, he was deposed in the presence of our Father Hosius at the Council which assembled at Alexandria 706 , and was admitted to communion as a layman, and so he continued subsequently, having fallen from his falsely reputed rank of presbyter. Of his character we think it unnecessary to speak, as all men have it in their power to become acquainted therewith. But since he has falsely accused our Bishop Athanasius of breaking a cup and overturning a table, we are necessarily obliged to address you on this point. We have said already that he never had a Church in the Mareotis; and we declare before God as our witness, that no cup was broken, nor table overturned by our Bishop, nor by any one of those who accompanied him; but all that is alleged respecting this affair is mere calumny. And this we say, not as having been absent from the Bishop, for we are all with him when he makes his visitation of the Mareotis, and he never goes about alone, but is accompanied by all of us Presbyters and Deacons, and by a considerable number of the people. Wherefore we make these assertions as having been present with him in every visitation which he has made amongst us, and testify that neither was a cup ever broken, nor table overturned, but the whole story is false, as the accuser himself also witnesses under his own hand 707 . For when, after he had gone off with Meletians, and had reported these things against our Bishop Athanasius, he wished to be admitted to communion, he was not received, although he wrote and confessed under his own hand that none of these things were true, but that he had been suborned by certain persons to say so.
75. Wherefore also Theognius, Theodorus, Maris, Macedonius, Ursacius, Valens, and their fellows came into the Mareotis, and when they found that none of these things were true, but it was likely to be discovered that they had framed a false accusation against our Bishop Athanasius, Theognius and his fellows being themselves his enemies, caused the relations of Ischyras and certain Arian madmen to say whatever they wished. For none of the people spoke against the Bishop; but these persons, through fear of Philagrius the Prefect of Egypt, and by threats and with the support of the Arian madmen, accomplished whatever they desired. For when we came to disprove the calumny, they would not permit us, but cast us out, while they admitted whom they pleased to a participation in their schemes, and concerted matters with them, influencing them by fear of the Prefect Philagrius. Through his means they prevented us from being present, that we might discover whether those who were suborned by them were members of the Church or Arian madmen. And you also, dearly beloved Fathers, know, as you teach us, that the testimony of enemies avails nothing. That what we say is the truth the handwriting 708 of Ischyras testifies, as do also the facts themselves, because when we were conscious that no such thing as was pretended had taken place, they took with them Philagrius, that through fear of the sword and by threats they might frame whatever plots they wished. These things we testify as in the presence of God; we make these assertions as knowing p. 140 that there will be a judgment held by God; desiring indeed all of us to come to you, but being content with certain of our number, so that the letters may be instead of the presence of those who have not come.
I, Ingenius Presbyter, pray you health in the Lord, beloved fathers. Theon Presbyter, Ammonas P., Heraclius P., Boccon P., Tryphon P., Peter P., Hierax P., Sarapion P., Marcus P., Ptollarion P., Gaius P., Dioscorus P., Demetrius P., Thyrsus P.
Deacons; Pistus Deacon, Apollos D., Serras D., Pistus D., Polynicus D., Ammonius D., Maurus D., Hephæstus D., Apollos D., Metopas D., Apollos D., Serapas D., Meliphthongus D., Lucius D., Gregoras D.
76. The same to the Controller, and to Philagrius, at that time Prefect of Egypt.
To Flavius Philagrius, and to Flavius Palladius, Ducenary 709 , Officer of the Palace, and Controller, and to Flavius Antoninus, Commissary of Provisions, and Centenary of my lords the most illustrious Prefects of the sacred Prætorium, these from the Presbyters and Deacons of the Mareotis, a nome of the Catholic Church which is under the most Reverend Bishop Athanasius, we address this testimony by those whose names are underwritten:—
Whereas Theognius, Maris, Macedonius, Theodorus, Ursacius, and Valens, as if sent by all the Bishops who assembled at Tyre, came into our Diocese alleging that they had received orders to investigate certain ecclesiastical affairs, among which they spoke of the breaking of a cup of the Lord, of which information was given them by Ischyras, whom they brought with them, and who says that he is a Presbyter, although he is not,—for he was ordained by the Presbyter Colluthus who pretended to the Episcopate, and was afterwards ordered by a whole Council, by Hosius and the Bishops that were with him, to take the place of a Presbyter, as he was before; and accordingly all that were ordained by Colluthus resumed the same rank which they held before, and so Ischyras himself proved to be a layman,—and the church which he says he has, never was a church at all, but a quite small private house belonging to an orphan boy of the name of Ision;—for this reason we have offered this testimony, adjuring you by Almighty God, and by our Lords Constantine Augustus, and the most illustrious Cæsars his sons, to bring these things to the knowledge of their piety. For neither is he a Presbyter of the Catholic Church nor does he possess a church, nor has a cup ever been broken, but the whole story is false and an invention.
Dated in the Consulship of Julius Constantius the most illustrious Patrician 710 , brother of the most religious Emperor Constantine Augustus, and of Rufinus Albinus, most illustrious men, on the tenth day of the month Thoth 711 .
These were the letters of the Presbyters.
77. The following also are the letters and protests of the Bishops who came with us to Tyre, when they became aware of the conspiracy and plot.
To the Bishops assembled at Tyre, most honoured Lords, those of the Catholic Church who have come from Egypt with Athanasius send greeting in the Lord.
We suppose that the conspiracy which has been formed against us by Eusebius, Theognius, Maris, Narcissus, Theodorus, Patrophilus, and their fellows is no longer uncertain. From the very beginning we all demurred, through our fellow-minister Athanasius, to the holding of the enquiry in their presence, knowing that the presence of even one enemy only, much more of many, is able to disturb and injure the hearing of a cause. And you also yourselves know the enmity which they entertain, not only towards us, but towards all the orthodox, how that for the sake of the madness of Arius, and his impious doctrine, they direct their assaults, they form conspiracies against all. And when, being confident in the truth, we desired to shew the falsehood, which the Meletians had employed against the Church, Eusebius and his fellows endeavoured by some means or other to interrupt our representations, and strove eagerly to set aside our testimony, threatening those who gave an honest judgment, and insulting others, for the sole purpose of carrying out the design they had against us. Your godly piety, most honoured Lords, was probably ignorant of their conspiracy, but we suppose that it has now been made manifest. For indeed they have themselves plainly disclosed it; for they desired to send to the Mareotis those of their party who are suspected by us, so that, while we were absent and remained here, they might disturb the people and accomplish what they wished. They knew p. 141 that the Arian madmen, and Colluthians 712 and Meletians, were enemies of the Catholic Church and therefore they were anxious to send them, that in the presence of our enemies they might devise against us whatever schemes they pleased. And those of the Meletians who are here, even four days previously (as they knew that this enquiry was about to take place), despatched at evening certain of their party, as couriers, for the purpose of collecting Meletians out of Egypt into the Mareotis, because there were none at all there, and Colluthians and Arian madmen, from other parts, and to prepare them to speak against us. For you also know that Ischyras himself confessed before you, that he had not more than seven persons in his congregation. When therefore we heard that, after they had made what preparations they pleased against us, and had sent these suspected persons, they were going about to each of you, and requiring your subscriptions, in order that it might appear as if this had been done with the consent of you all; for this reason we hastened to write to you, and to present this our testimony; declaring that we are the objects of a conspiracy under which we are suffering by and through them, and demanding that having the fear of God in your minds, and condemning their conduct in sending whom they pleased without our consent, you would refuse your subscriptions, lest they pretend that those things are done by you, which they are contriving only among themselves. Surely it becomes those who are in Christ, not to regard human motives, but to prefer the truth before all things. And be not afraid of their threatenings, which they employ against all, nor of their plots, but rather fear God. If it was at all necessary that persons should be sent to the Mareotis, we also ought to have been there with them, in order that we might convict the enemies of the Church, and point out those who were aliens, and that the investigation of the matter might be impartial. For you know that Eusebius and his fellows contrived that a letter should be presented, as coming from the Collutians, the Meletians, and Arians, and directed against us: but it is evident that these enemies of the Catholic Church speak nothing that is true concerning us, but say everything against us. And the law of God forbids an enemy to be either a witness or a judge. Wherefore as you will have to give an account in the day of judgment, receive this testimony, and recognising the conspiracy which has been framed against us, beware, if you are requested by them, of doing anything against us, and of taking part in the designs of Eusebius and his fellows. For you know, as we said before, that they are our enemies, and you are aware why Eusebius of Cæsarea became such last year 713 . We pray that you may be in health, greatly beloved Lords.
78. To the most illustrious Count Flavius Dionysius, from the Bishops of the Catholic Church in Egypt who have come to Tyre.
We suppose that the conspiracy which has been formed against us by Eusebius, Theognius, Maris, Narcissus, Theodorus, Patrophilus and their fellows, is no longer uncertain. From the very beginning we all demurred, through our fellow-minister Athanasius, to the holding of the enquiry in their presence, knowing that the presence of even one enemy only, much more of many, is able to disturb and injure the hearing of a cause. For their enmity is manifest which they entertain, not only towards us, but also towards all the orthodox, because they direct their assaults, they form conspiracies against all. And when, being confident in the truth, we desired to shew the falsehood which the Meletians had employed against the Church, Eusebius and his fellows endeavoured by some means or other to interrupt our representations, and strove eagerly to set aside our testimony, threatening those who gave an honest judgment and insulting others, for the sole purpose of carrying out the design they had against us. Your goodness was probably ignorant of the conspiracy which they have formed against us, but we suppose that it has now been made manifest. For indeed they have themselves plainly disclosed it; for they desired to send to the Mareotis those of their party who are suspected by us, so that, while we were absent and remained here, they might disturb the people and accomplish what they wished. They knew that Arian madmen, Colluthians, and Meletians were enemies of the Church, and therefore they were anxious to send them, that in the presence of our enemies, they might devise against us whatever schemes they pleased. And those of the Meletians who are here, even four days previously (as they knew that this enquiry was about to take place), despatched at evening two individuals of their own party, as couriers, for the purpose of collecting Meletians out of Egypt into the Mareotis, because there were none at all there, and Colluthians, and Arian madmen, from other p. 142 parts, and to prepare them to speak against us. And your goodness knows that he himself confessed before you, that he had not more than seven persons in his congregation. When therefore we heard that, after they had made what preparations they pleased against us, and had sent these suspected persons, they were going about to each of the Bishops and requiring their subscriptions, in order that it might appear that this was done with the consent of them all; for this reason we hastened to refer the matter to your honour, and to present this our testimony, declaring that we are the objects of a conspiracy, under which we are suffering by and through them, and demanding of you that having in your mind the fear of God, and the pious commands of our most religious Emperor, you would no longer tolerate these persons, but condemn their conduct in sending whom they pleased without our consent.
I Adamantius Bishop have subscribed this letter, Ischyras, Ammon, Peter, Ammonianus, Tyrannus, Taurinus, Sarapammon, Ælurion, Harpocration, Moses, Optatus, Anubion, Saprion, Apollonius, Ischyrion, Arbæthion, Potamon, Paphnutius, Heraclides, Theodorus, Agathammon, Gaius, Pistus, Athas, Nicon, Pelagius, Theon, Paninuthius, Nonnus, Ariston, Theodorus, Irenæus, Blastammon, Philippus, Apollos, Dioscorus, Timotheus of Diospolis, Macarius, Heraclammon, Cronius, Myis, Jacobus, Ariston, Artemidorus, Phinees, Psais, Heraclides.
Another from the same.
79. The Bishops of the Catholic Church who have come from Egypt to Tyre, to the most illustrious Count Flavius Dionysius.
Perceiving that many conspiracies and plots are being formed against us through the machinations of Eusebius, Narcissus, Flacillus, Theognius, Maris, Theodorus, Patrophilus, and their fellows (against whom we wished at first to enter an objection, but were not permitted), we are constrained to have recourse to the present appeal. We observe also that great zeal is exerted in behalf of the Meletians, and that a plot is laid against the Catholic Church in Egypt in our persons. Wherefore we present this letter to you, beseeching you to bear in mind the Almighty Power of God, who defends the kingdom of our most religious and godly Emperor Constantine, and to reserve the hearing of the affairs which concern us for the most religious Emperor himself. For it is but reasonable, since you were commissioned by his Majesty, that you should reserve the matter for him upon our appealing to his piety. We can no longer endure to be the objects of the treacherous designs of the fore-mentioned Eusebius and his fellows, and therefore we demand that the case be reserved for the most religious and God-beloved Emperor, before whom we shall be able to set forth our own and the Churchs just claims. And we are convinced that when his piety shall have heard our cause, he will not condemn us. Wherefore we again adjure you by Almighty God, and by our most religious Emperor, who, together with the children of his piety, has thus ever been victorious 714 and prosperous these many years, that you proceed no further, nor suffer yourselves to move at all in the Council in relation to our affairs, but reserve the hearing of them for his piety. We have likewise made the same representations to my Lords the orthodox Bishops.
80. Alexander 715 , Bishop of Thessalonica, on receiving these letters, wrote to the Count Dionysius as follows.
The Bishop Alexander to my master Dionysius.
I see that a conspiracy has evidently been formed against Athanasius; for they have determined, I know not on what grounds, to send all those to whom he has objected, without giving any information to us, although it was agreed that we should consider together who ought to be sent. Take care therefore that nothing be done rashly (for they have come to me in great alarm, saying that the wild beasts have already roused themselves, and are going to rush upon them; for they had heard it reported, that John had sent certain 716 ), lest they be beforehand with us, and concoct what schemes they please. For you know that the Colluthians who are enemies of the Church, and the Arians, and Meletians, are all of them leagued together, and are able to work much evil. Consider therefore what is best to be done, lest some mischief arise, and we be subject to censure, as not having judged the matter fairly. Great suspicions are also entertained of these persons, lest, as being devoted to the Meletians, they should go through those Churches whose Bishops are here 717 , and raise an alarm amongst them, and so disorder the whole of Egypt. For they see that this is already taking place to a great extent.
Accordingly the Count Dionysius wrote to Eusebius and his fellows as follows.
81. This is what I have already mentioned to my lords, Flacillus 718 and his fellows, that Athanasius has come forward and complained p. 143 that those very persons have been sent whom he objected to; and crying out that he has been wronged and deceived. Alexander the lord of my soul 719 has also written to me on the subject; and that you may perceive that what his Goodness has said is reasonable, I have subjoined his letter to be read by you. Remember also what I wrote to you before: I impressed upon your Goodness, my lords, that the persons who were sent ought to be commissioned by the general vote and decision of all. Take care therefore lest our proceedings fall under censure, and we give just grounds of blame to those who are disposed to find fault with us. For as the accusers side ought not to suffer any oppression, so neither ought the defendants. And I think that there is no slight ground of blame against us, when my lord Alexander evidently disapproves of what we have done.
82. While matters were proceeding thus we withdrew from them, as from an assembly of treacherous men 720 , for whatsoever they pleased they did, whereas there is no man in the world but knows that ex parte proceedings cannot stand good. This the divine law determines; for when the blessed Apostle was suffering under a similar conspiracy and was brought to trial, he demanded, saying, The Jews from Asia ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had aught against me 721 . On which occasion Festus also, when the Jews wished to lay such a plot against him, as these men have now laid against me, said, It is not the manner of Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accuser face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him 722 . But Eusebius and his fellows both had the boldness to pervert the law, and have proved more unjust even than those wrong-doers. For they did not proceed privately at the first, but when in consequence of our being present they found themselves weak, then they straightway went out, like the Jews, and took counsel together alone, how they might destroy us and bring in their heresy, as those others demanded Barabbas. For this purpose it was, as they have themselves confessed, that they did all these things.
83. Although these circumstances were amply sufficient for our vindication, yet in order that the wickedness of these men and the freedom of the truth might be more fully exhibited, I have not felt averse to repeat them again, in order to shew that they have acted in a manner inconsistently with themselves, and as men scheming in the dark have fallen foul of their own friends, and while they desired to destroy us have like insane persons wounded themselves. For in their investigation of the subject of the Mysteries, they questioned Jews, they examined Catechumens 723 ; Where were you, they said, when Macarius came and overturned the Table? They answered, We were within; whereas there could be no oblation if Catechumens were present. Again, although they had written word everywhere, that Macarius came and overthrew everything, while the Presbyter was standing and celebrating the Mysteries, yet when they questioned whomsoever they pleased, and asked them, Where was Ischyras when Macarius rushed in? those persons answered that he was lying sick in a cell. Well, then, he that was lying was not standing, nor was he that lay sick in his cell offering the oblation. Besides whereas Ischyras said that certain books had been burnt by Macarius, they who were suborned to give evidence, declared that nothing of the kind had been done, but that Ischyras spoke falsely. And what is most remarkable, although they had again written word everywhere, that those who were able to give evidence had been concealed by us, yet these persons made their appearance, and they questioned them, and were not ashamed when they saw it proved on all sides that they were slanderers, and were acting in this matter clandestinely, and according to their pleasure. For they prompted the witnesses by signs, while the Prefect threatened them, and the soldiers pricked them with their swords; but the Lord revealed the truth, and shewed them to be slanderers. Therefore also they concealed the minutes of their proceedings, which they retained themselves, and charged those who wrote them to put out of sight, and to commit to no one whomsoever. But in this also they were disappointed; for the person who wrote them was Rufus, who is now public executioner in the Augustalian 724 prefecture, and is able to testify to the truth of this; and Eusebius and his fellows sent them to Rome by the hands of their own friends, and Julius the Bishop transmitted them to me. And now they are mad, because we obtained and read what they wished to conceal.
84. As such was the character of their machinations, so they very soon shewed plainly the reasons of their conduct. For when they went away, they took the Arians with them to Jerusalem, and there admitted them to communion, having sent out a letter concerning p. 144 them, part 725 of which, and the beginning, is as follows.
The holy Council by the grace of God assembled at Jerusalem, to the Church of God which is in Alexandria, and to the Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons, in all Egypt, the Thebais, Libya, Pentapolis, and throughout the world, sends health in the Lord.
Having come together out of different Provinces to a great meeting which we have held for the consecration of the Martyry 726 of the Saviour, which has been appointed to the service of God the King of all and of His Christ, by the zeal of our most God-beloved Emperor Constantine, the grace of God hath afforded us more abundant rejoicing of heart; which our most God-beloved Emperor himself hath occasioned us by his letters, wherein he hath stirred us up to do that which is right, putting away all envy from the Church of God, and driving far from us all malice, by which the members of God have been heretofore torn asunder, and that we should with simple and peaceable minds receive Arius and his fellows, whom envy, that enemy of all goodness, has caused for a season to be excluded from the Church. Our most religious Emperor has also in his letter testified to the correctness of their faith, which he has ascertained from themselves, himself receiving the profession of it from them by word of mouth, and has now made manifest to us by subjoining to his own letters the mens orthodox opinion in writing.
85. Every one that hears of these things must see through their treachery. For they made no concealment of what they were doing; unless perhaps they confessed the truth without wishing it. For if I was the hindrance to the admittance of Arius and his fellows into the Church, and if they were received while I was suffering from their plots, what other conclusion can be arrived at, than that these things were done on their account, and that all their proceedings against me, and the story which they fabricated about the breaking of the cup and the murder of Arsenius, were for the sole purpose of introducing impiety into the Church, and of preventing their being condemned as heretics? For this was what the Emperor threatened formerly in his letters to me. And they were not ashamed to write in the manner they did, and to affirm that those persons whom the whole Ecumenical Council anathematized held orthodox sentiments. And as they undertook to say and do anything without scruple, so they were not afraid to meet together in a corner, in order to overthrow, as far as was in their power, the authority of so great a Council.
Moreover, the price which they paid for false testimony yet more fully manifests their wickedness and impious intentions. The Mareotis, as I have already said, is a country district of Alexandria, in which there has never been either a Bishop or a Chorepiscopus 727 ; but the Churches of the whole district are subject to the Bishop of Alexandria, and each Presbyter has under his charge one of the largest villages, which are about ten or more in number 728 . Now the village in which Ischyras lives is a very small one, and possesses so few inhabitants, that there has never been a church built there, but only in the adjoining village. Nevertheless, they determined, contrary to ancient usage 729 , to nominate a Bishop for this place, and not only so, but even to appoint one, who was not so much as a Presbyter. Knowing as they did the unusual nature of such a proceeding, yet being constrained by the promises they had given in return for his false impeachment of me, they submitted even to this, lest that abandoned person, if he were ungratefully treated by them, should disclose the truth, and thereby shew the wickedness of Eusebius and his fellows. Notwithstanding this he has no church, nor a people to obey him, but is scouted by them all, like a dog 730 , although they have even caused the Emperor to write to the Receiver-General (for everything is in their power), commanding that a church should be built for him, that being possessed of that, his statement may appear credible about the cup and the table. They caused him immediately to be nominated a Bishop also, because if he were without a church, and not even a Presbyter, he would appear to be a false accuser, and a fabricator of the whole matter. At any rate he has no people, and even his own relations are not obedient to him, and as the name which he retains is an empty one, so also the following letter is ineffectual, which he keeps, making a display of it as an exposure of the utter p. 145 wickedness of himself and of Eusebius and his fellows.
The Letter of the Receiver-General. 731
Flavius Hemerius sends health to the Tax-collector of the Mareotis.
Ischyras the Presbyter having petitioned the piety of our Lords, Augusti and Cæsars, that a Church might be built in the district of Irene, belonging to Secontarurus 732 , their divinity has commanded that this should be done as soon as possible. Take care therefore, as soon as you receive the copy of the sacred Edict, which with all due veneration is placed above, and the Reports which have been formed before my devotion, that you quickly make an abstract of them, and transfer them to the Order book, so that the sacred command may be put in execution.
86. While they were thus plotting and scheming, I went up 733 and represented to the Emperor the unjust conduct of Eusebius and his fellows, for he it was who had commanded the Council to be held, and his Count presided at it. When he heard my report, he was greatly moved, and wrote to them as follows.
Constantine, Victor 734 , Maximus, Augustus, to the Bishops assembled at Tyre.
I know not what the decisions are which you have arrived at in your Council amidst noise and tumult: but somehow the truth seems to have been perverted in consequence of certain confusions and disorders, in that you, through your mutual contentiousness, which you are resolved should prevail, have failed to perceive what is pleasing to God. However, it will rest with Divine Providence to disperse the mischiefs which manifestly are found to arise from this contentious spirit, and to shew plainly to us, whether you, while assembled in that place, have had any regard for the truth, and whether you have made your decisions uninfluenced by either favour or enmity. Wherefore I wish you all to assemble with all speed before my piety in order that you may render in person a true account of your proceedings.
The reason why I have thought good to write thus to you, and why I summon you before me by letter, you will learn from what I am going to say. As I was entering on a late occasion our all-happy home of Constantinople, which bears our name (I chanced at the time to be on horseback), on a sudden the Bishop Athanasius, with certain others whom he had with him, approached me in the middle of the road, so unexpectedly, as to occasion me much amazement. God, who knoweth all things, is my witness, that I should have been unable at first sight even to recognise him, had not some of my attendants, on my naturally inquiring of them, informed me both who it was, and under what injustice he was suffering. I did not however enter into any conversation with him at that time, nor grant him an interview; but when he requested to be heard I was refusing, and all but gave orders for his removal; when with increasing boldness he claimed only this favour, that you should be summoned to appear, that he might have an opportunity of complaining before me in your presence, of the ill-treatment he has met with. As this appeared to me to be a reasonable request, and suitable to the times, I willingly ordered this letter to be written to you, in order that all of you, who constituted the Council which was held at Tyre, might hasten without delay to the Court 735 of my clemency, so as to prove by facts that you had passed an impartial and uncorrupt judgment. This, I say, you must do before me, whom not even you will deny to be a true servant of God.
For indeed through my devotion to God, peace is preserved everywhere, and the Name of God is truly worshipped even by the barbarians, who have hitherto been ignorant of the truth. And it is manifest, that he who is ignorant of the truth, does not know God either. Nevertheless, as I said before, even the barbarians have now come to the knowledge of God, by means of me, His true servant 736 , and have learned to fear Him Whom they perceive from actual facts to be my shield and protector everywhere. And from this chiefly they have come to know God, Whom they fear through the dread which they have of me. But we, who are supposed to set forth (for I will not say to guard) the holy mysteries of His Goodness, we, I say, engage in nothing but what tends to dissension and hatred, and, in short, whatever contributes to the destruction of mankind. But hasten, as I said before, and all of you with all speed come to us, being persuaded that I shall endeavour with all my might to amend what is amiss, so that those things specially may be preserved and firmly established in the law of God, to which no blame nor dishonour may attach; while the enemies of the law, who under pretence of His holy Name bring in manifold and divers blasphemies, shall be p. 146 scattered abroad, and entirely crushed, and utterly destroyed.
87. When Eusebius and his fellows read this letter, being conscious of what they had done, they prevented the rest of the Bishops from going up, and only themselves went, viz. Eusebius, Theognius, Patrophilus, the other Eusebius, Ursacius, and Valens. And they no longer said anything about the cup and Arsenius (for they had not the boldness to do so), but inventing another accusation which concerned the Emperor himself, they declared before him, that Athanasius had threatened that he would cause the corn to be withheld which was sent from Alexandria to his own home 737 . The Bishops Adamantius, Anubion, Agathammon, Arbethion, and Peter, were present and heard this. It was proved also by the anger of the Emperor; for although he had written the preceding letter, and had condemned their injustice, as soon as he heard such a charge as this, he was immediately incensed, and instead of granting me a hearing, he sent me away into Gaul. And this again shews their wickedness further; for when the younger Constantine, of blessed memory, sent me back home, remembering what his father had written 738 , he also wrote as follows.
Constantine Cæsar, to the people of the Catholic Church of the city of Alexandria.
I suppose that it has not escaped the knowledge of your pious minds, that Athanasius, the interpreter of the adorable Law, was sent away into Gaul for a time, with the intent that, as the savageness of his bloodthirsty and inveterate enemies persecuted him to the hazard of his sacred life, he might thus escape suffering some irremediable calamity, through the perverse dealing of those evil men. In order therefore to escape this, he was snatched out of the jaws of his assailants, and was ordered to pass some time under my government, and so was supplied abundantly with all necessaries in this city, where he lived, although indeed his celebrated virtue, relying entirely on divine assistance, sets at nought the sufferings of adverse fortune. Now seeing that it was the fixed intention of our master Constantine Augustus, my Father, to restore the said Bishop to his own place, and to your most beloved piety, but he was taken away by that fate which is common to all men, and went to his rest before he could accomplish his wish; I have thought proper to fulfil that intention of the Emperor of sacred memory which I have inherited from him. When he comes to present himself before you, you will learn with what reverence he has been treated. Indeed it is not wonderful, whatever I have done on his behalf; for the thoughts of your longing desire for him, and the appearance of so great a man, moved my soul, and urged me thereto. May Divine Providence continually preserve you, beloved brethren.
Dated from Treveri the 15th before the Calends of July 739 .
88. This being the reason why I was sent away into Gaul, who, I ask again, does not plainly perceive the intention of the Emperor, and the murderous spirit of Eusebius and his fellows, and that the Emperor had done this in order to prevent their forming some more desperate scheme? for he listened to them in simplicity 740 . Such were the practices of Eusebius and his fellows, and such their machinations against me. Who that has witnessed them will deny that nothing has been done in my favour out of partiality, but that that great number of Bishops both individually and collectively wrote as they did in my behalf and condemned the falsehood of my enemies justly, and in accordance with the truth? Who that has observed such proceedings as these will deny that Valens and Ursacius had good reason to condemn themselves, and to write 741 as they did, to accuse themselves when they repented, choosing rather to suffer shame for a short time, than to undergo the punishment of false accusers for ever and ever 742 ?
89. Wherefore also my blessed fellow-ministers, acting justly and according to the laws of the Church, while certain affirmed that my case was doubtful, and endeavoured to compel them to annul the sentence which was passed in my favour, have now endured all manner of sufferings, and have chosen rather to be banished than to see the judgment of so many Bishops reversed. Now if those genuine Bishops had withstood by words only those who plotted against me, and wished to undo all that had been done in my behalf; or if they had been ordinary men, and not the p. 147 Bishops of illustrious cities, and the heads of great Churches, there would have been room to suspect that in this instance they too had acted contentiously and in order to gratify me. But when they not only endeavoured to convince by argument, but also endured banishment, and one of them is Liberius, Bishop of Rome, (for although he did not endure 743 to the end the sufferings of banishment, yet he remained in his exile for two years, being aware of conspiracy formed against us), and since there is also the great Hosius, together with the Bishops of Italy, and of Gaul, and others from Spain, and from Egypt, and Libya, and all those from Pentapolis (for although for a little while, through fear of the threats of Constantius, he seemed not to resist them 744 yet the great violence and tyrannical power exercised by Constantius, and the many insults and stripes inflicted upon him, proved that it was not because he gave up my cause, but through the weakness of old age, being unable to bear the stripes, that he yielded to them for a season), therefore I say, it is altogether right that all, as being fully convinced, should hate and abominate the injustice and the violence which they have used towards me; especially as it is well known that I have suffered these things on account of nothing else but the Arian impiety.
90. Now if anyone wishes to become acquainted with my case, and the falsehood of Eusebius and his fellows, let him read what has been written in my behalf, and let him hear the witnesses, not one, or two, or three, but that great number of Bishops; and again let him attend to the witnesses of these proceedings, Liberius and Hosius, and their fellows, who when they saw the attempts made against us, chose rather to endure all manner of sufferings than to give up the truth, and the judgment which had been pronounced in our favour. And this they did with an honourable and righteous intention, for what they suffered proves to what straits the other Bishops were reduced. And they are memorials and records against the Arian heresy, and the wickedness of false accusers, and afford a pattern and model for those who come after, to contend for the truth unto death 745 , and to abominate the Arian heresy which fights against Christ, and is a forerunner of Antichrist, and not to believe those who attempt to speak against me. For the defence put forth, and the sentence given, by so many Bishops of high character, are a trustworthy and sufficient testimony in our behalf.
Cf. §17, note 1.137:692
[πωλήσ: i.e. palm them off on the church. Cf. Lat. venditare.]137:694
[The archbishop is Meletius; this is the first occurrence of the word; it evidently has not its later fixed sense. The historical allusion is obscure.]137:699
A village on the Mareotic lake. vid. Socr. iv. 23. Athan Opp. ed. Pat. t. 3. p. 86–89.137:700
[Prolegg. ch. ii. §3 (1) sub. fin. and ch. v. §3a.]138:701
Cf. Encycl. §3.138:703
Curiosus; the Curiosi (in curis agendis) were properly the overseers of the public roads, Du Cange in voc., but they became in consequence a sort of imperial spy and were called the Emperors eyes. Gothofr. in Cod. Theod. t. 2. p. 194. ed. 1665. Constantius confined them to the school of the Agentes in rebus (infr. Apol. ad Const. §10.), under the Master of the Offices. Gothoft. ibid. p. 192.139:704
Prov. 19.5Prov. xxv. 7, LXX, xix. 5.139:705
χείρ, infr. Apol. ad Const. §11.140:709
On the different kinds of Ducenaries, vid. Gothofr. in Cod. Theod. XI. vii. 1. Here, as in Euseb. Hist. vii. 30. the word stands for a Procurator, whose annual pay amounted to 200 sestertia, vid. Salmas. Hist. Aug. t. l. p. 533. In like manner a Centenary is one who receives 100.140:710
The title Patrician was revived by Constantine as a personal distinction. It was for life, and gave precedence over all the great officers of state except the Consul. It was usually bestowed on favourites, or on ministers as a reward of services. Gibbon, Hist. ch. 17. This Julius Constantius, who was the father of Julian, was the first who bore the title, with L. Optatus, who had been consul the foregoing year. Illustrissimus was the highest of the three ranks of honour. ibid.140:711
[Sep. 8. 335 a.d. See note on leap-year at the end of the table of Egyptian months, below, Introd. to Letters.]141:712
Colluthus formed a schism on the doctrine that God was not the cause of any sort of evil, e.g. did not inflict pain and suffering. Though a Priest, he took on himself to ordain, even to the Priesthood [§12]. St. Alexander even seems to imply that he did so for money. Theod. H. E. i. 3. [Prolegg. ch. ii. §2.]141:713
[Ath. had refused to attend a synod at Cæsarea, a.d. 334. See Thdt. H. E. i. 28, Prolegg. ch. ii. §4. and D.C.B. ii. 315 b.]142:714
Cf. Euseb. v. Const. ii. 48.142:715
Cf. §§17, 65, 70.142:717
Perhaps president of the Council, cf. §20. [But see Prolegg. ch. ii. §5.]143:719
i.e. my beloved lord.143:720
Jer. ix. 2.143:721
Acts 24:18, 19.143:722
Acts xxv. 16.143:723
Vid. Encyc. §3, p. 43, note 2.144:725
Vid. de Syn. §21.144:726
[i.e. Church, see D.C.A. s.v. Martyrium.]144:727
That Chorepiscopi were real Bishops, vid. Bevereg. in Conc. Ancyr. Can. 13. Routh in Conc. Neocæs. Can. 13. referring to Rhabanus Maurus. Thomassin on the other hand denies that they were Bishops, Discipl. Eccl. i. 2. c. 1. [see D.C.A. s.v.]144:728
Ten under each Presbyter. Vales ad Socr. Hist. i. 27. Ten altogether, Montfaucon in loc. with more probability; and so Tillemont, vol. 8. p. 20. [Six villages are mentioned supr. §64, fin.]144:729
It was against the Canon of Sardica, and doubtless against ancient usage, to ordain a Bishop for so small a village, vid. Bingham, Antiqu. II. xii., who, however, maintains by instances, that at least small towns might be sees. Also it was against usage that a layman, as Ischyras, should be made a Bishop. ibid. x. 4, &c. St. Hilary, however, makes him a Deacon. Fragm. ii. 16.144:730
Dogs without owners, and almost in a wild state, abound, as is well known, in Eastern cities; vid. Ps. 59:6, 14, 15; 2 Kings 9:35, 36. and for the view taken in Scripture of dogs, vid. Bochart, Hieroz. ii. 56 [and Dict. Bib. s.v.].145:731
Catholicus, §14, Apol. Const. §10. [The mention, below, of Augusti and Cæsars makes 337 the earliest likely date for this letter.]145:732
Cf. §17. note 7. [Prolegg. ch. ii. §4.]145:733
Euseb. v. Const. ii. 48.145:735
στρατόπεδον, §70. note 6.145:736
“Once in an entertainment, at which he (Constantine) received Bishops, he made the remark that he too was a Bishop; using pretty much these words in my hearing, You are Bishops of matters within the Church, I am appointed by God to be Bishop of matters external to it.” Euseb. Vit. Const. iv. 24.146:737
[See Bright, Hist. Writ. p. xii. note 3, and on the date of this letter, Prolegg. ch. v. §3 b, and note 6 below.]146:739
June 17. a.d. 337 [see Gwatk. Stud., 136].146:740
ἐπήκουσε γὰρ ἁπλῶς. Montfaucon in Onomast. (Athan. t. 2. ad calc.) points out some passages in his author, where ἐπακούειν, like ὑπακούειν, means “to answer.” vid. Apol. Const. §16 init. Orat. iii. 27 fin.146:741
Here ends the second part of the Apology, as is evident by turning back to §58. (supr. p. 130) to which this paragraph is an allusion. The express object of the second part was to prove, what has now been proved by documents, that Valens and Ursacius did but succumb to plain facts which they could not resist. It is observable too from this passage that the Apology was written before their relapse, i.e. before a.d. 351 or 352. The remaining two sections are often after 357, as they mention the fall of Liberius and Hosius, and speak of Constantius in different language from any which has been found above. [Introd. to Apol. Const. and Hist. Ar.]147:743
See Hist. Ar. §41.147:744
Cf. Apol. Fug.; §5, and Hist. Ar. §45.147:745
Next: Additional Note on Apol. C. Arianos, §50.
Like & share St-Takla.org
© Saint Takla Haymanout Website: Coptic Orthodox Church - Alexandria, Egypt / URL: https://st-takla.org / Contact us at