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The Emperor Jovian having died, as we have said, at Dadastana, in his own consulate and that of Varronian his son on the 17th of February, the army leaving Galatia arrived at Nicæa in Bithynia in seven days' march, and there unanimously proclaimed Valentinian emperor, on the 25th of February, in the same consulate. He was a Pannonian by race, a native of the city of Cibalis, and being entrusted with a military command, had displayed great skill in tactics. He was moreover endowed with such greatness of mind, that he always appeared superior to any degree of honor he might have attained. As soon as they had created him emperor, he proceeded immediately to Constantinople; and thirty days after his own possession of the imperial dignity, he made his brother Valens his colleague in the empire. They both professed Christianity, but did not hold the same Christian creed: for Valentinian respected the Nicene Creed; but Valens was prepossessed in favor of the Arian opinions. And this prejudice was caused by his having been baptized by Eudoxius bishop of Constantinople. Each of them was zealous for the views of his own party; but when they had attained sovereign power, they manifested very different dispositions. For previously in the reign of Julian, when Valentinian was a military tribune, and Valens held a command in the emperor's guards, they both proved their zeal for the faith; for being constrained to sacrifice, they chose rather to give up their military rank than to do so and renounce Christianity. Julian, however, knowing the necessity of the men to the state, retained them in their respective places, as did also Jovian, his successor in the empire. Later on, being invested with imperial authority, they were in accord in the management of public affairs, but as regards Christianity, as I have said, they behaved themselves very differently: for Valentinian while he favored those who agreed with him in sentiment, offered no violence to the Arians; but Valens, in his anxiety to promote the Arian cause, grievously disturbed those who differed from them, as the course of our history will show. Now at that time Liberius presided over the Roman church; and at Alexandria Athanasius was bishop of the Homoousians, while Lucius had been constituted George's successor by the Arians. At Antioch Euzoïus was at the head of the Arians: but the Homoousians were divided into two parties, of one of which Paulinus was chief, and Melitius of the other. Cyril was again constituted over the church at Jerusalem. The churches at Constantinople were under the government of Eudoxius, who openly taught the dogmas of Arianism, but the Homoousians had but one small edifice in the city wherein to hold their assemblies. Those of the Macedonian heresy who had dissented from the Acacians at Seleucia, then retained their churches in every city. Such was the state of ecclesiastical affairs at that time.
Of the emperors one, i.e. Valentinian, speedily went to the western parts of the empire; for the exigencies of affairs required his presence there: meanwhile Valens, residing at Constantinople, was addressed by most of the prelates of the Macedonion heresy, requesting that another Synod might be convened for the correction of the creed. The emperor supposing they agreed in sentiment with Eudoxius and Acacius, gave them permission to do so: they therefore made preparations for assembling in the city of Lampsacus. But Valens proceeded with the utmost dispatch toward Antioch in Syria, fearing lest the Persians should violate the treaty into which they had entered for thirty years in the reign of Jovian, and invade the Roman territories. They however remained quiet; and Valens employed this season of external tranquillity to prosecute a war of extermination against all who acknowledged the homoousion. Paulinus their bishop, because of his eminent piety, he left unmolested. Melitius he punished with exile: and all the rest, as many as refused to communicate with Euzoïus, he drove out from the churches in Antioch, and subjected to various losses and punishments. It is even affirmed that he caused many to be drowned in the river Orontes, which flows by that city.
While Valens was thus occupied in Syria, there arose a usurper at Constantinople named Procopius; who having collected a large body of troops in a very short time, meditated an expedition against the emperor. This intelligence created extreme solicitude in the emperor's mind and checked for a while the persecution he had commenced against all who dared to differ from him in opinion. And while the commotions of a civil war were painfully anticipated, an earthquake occurred which did much damage to many cities. The sea also changed its accustomed boundaries, and overflowed to such an extent in some places, that vessels might sail where roads had previously existed; and it retired so much from other places, that the ground became dry. These events happened in the first consulate of the two emperors.
While these events were taking place there could be no peace either in the church or in the state. Now those who had been empowered by the emperor to hold a council assembled at Lampsacus in the consulate just mentioned: this was seven years after the council of Seleucia. There, after confirming the Antiochian Creed, to which they had subscribed at Seleucia, they anathematized that which had been set forth at Ariminum by their former associates in opinion. They moreover again condemned the party of Acacius and Eudoxius, and declared their deposition to have been just. The civil war which was then impending prevented Eudoxius bishop of Constantinople from either gainsaying or revenging these determinations. Wherefore Eleusius bishop of Cyzicus and his adherents became for a little while the stronger party; inasmuch as they supported the views of Macedonius, which although before but obscurely known, acquired great publicity through the Synod at Lampsacus. This Synod, I think, was the cause of the increase of the Macedonians in the Hellespont; for Lampsacus is situated in one of the narrow bays of the Hellespont. Such was the issue of this council.
Under the consulate of Gratian and Dagalaïfus in the following year, the war was begun. For as soon as the usurper Procopius, leaving Constantinople, began his march at the head of his army toward the emperor, Valens hastened from Antioch, and came to an engagement with him near a city of Phrygia, called Nacolia. In the first encounter he was defeated; but soon after he took Procopius alive, through the treachery of Agilo and Gomarius, two of his generals, whom he subjected to the most extraordinary punishments. The traitors he caused to be executed by being sawn asunder, disregarding the oaths he had sworn to them. Two trees standing near each other being forcibly bowed down, one of the usurper's legs was fastened to each of them, after which the trees being suddenly permitted to recover their erect position, by their rise rent the tyrant into two parts; and thus torn apart the usurper perished.
The emperor having thus successfully terminated the conflict, immediately began to move against the Christians, with the design of converting every sect to Arianism. But he was especially incensed against those who had composed the Synod at Lampsacus, not only on account of their deposition of the Arian bishops, but because they had anathematized the creed published at Ariminum. On arriving therefore at Nicomedia in Bithynia, he sent for Eleusius bishop of Cyzicus, who, as I have before said, closely adhered to the opinions of Macedonius. Therefore the emperor having convened a council of Arian bishops, commanded Eleusius to give his assent to their faith. At first he refused to do so, but on being terrified with threats of banishment and confiscation of property, he was intimidated and assented to the Arian belief. Immediately afterwards, however, he repented; and returning to Cyzicus, bitterly complained in presence of all the people, asserting that his quiescence was due to violence, and not of his own choice. He then exhorted them to seek another bishop for themselves, since he had been compelled to renounce his own opinion. But the inhabitants of Cyzicus loved and venerated him too much to think of losing him; they therefore refused to be subject to any other bishop, nor would they permit him to retire from his own church: and thus continuing under his oversight, they remained steadfast in their own heresy.
The bishop of Constantinople being informed of these circumstances, constituted Eunomius bishop of Cyzicus, inasmuch as he was a person able by his eloquence to win over the minds of the multitude to his own way of thinking. On his arrival at Cyzicus an imperial edict was published in which it was ordered that Eleusius should be ejected, and Eunomius installed in his place. This being carried into effect, those who attached themselves to Eleusius, after erecting a sacred edifice without the city, assembled there with him. But enough has been said of Eleusius: let us now give some account of Eunomius. He had been secretary to Aëtius, surnamed Atheus, of whom we have before spoken, and had learned from conversing with him, to imitate his sophistical mode of reasoning; being little aware that while exercising himself in framing fallacious arguments, and in the use of certain insignificant terms, he was really deceiving himself. This habit however inflated him with pride, and he fell into blasphemous heresies, and so became an advocate of the dogmas of Arius, and in various ways an adversary to the doctrines of truth. And as he had but a very slender knowledge of the letter of Scripture, he was wholly unable to enter into the spirit of it. Yet he abounded in words, and was accustomed to repeat the same thoughts in different terms, without ever arriving at a clear explanation of what he had proposed to himself. Of this his seven books On the Apostle's Epistle to the Romans, on which he bestowed a quantity of vain labor, is a remarkable proof: for although he has employed an immense number of words in the attempt to expound it, he has by no means succeeded in apprehending the scope and object of that epistle. All other works of his extant are of a similar character, in which he that would take the trouble to examine them, would find a great scarcity of sense, amidst a profusion of verbiage. This Eunomius Eudoxius promoted to the see of Cyzicus; who having come there, astonished his auditors by the extraordinary display of his 'dialectic' art, and thus a great sensation was produced at Cyzicus. At length the people unable to endure any longer the empty and assumptions parade of his language, drove him out of their city. He therefore withdrew to Constantinople, and taking up his abode with Eudoxius, was regarded as a titular bishop. But lest we should seem to have said these things for the sake of detraction, let us hear what Eunomius himself has the hardihood to utter in his sophistical discourses concerning the Deity himself, for he uses the following language: 'God knows no more of his own substance than we do; nor is this more known to him, and less to us: but whatever we know about the Divine substance, that precisely is known to God; and on the other hand, whatever he knows, the same also you will find without any difference in us.' This and many other similar tedious and absurd fallacies Eunomius was accustomed to draw up in utter insensibility to his own folly. On what account he afterwards separated from the Arians, we shall state in its proper place.
An order was issued by the emperor that the walls of Chalcedon, a city opposite to Byzantium, should be demolished: for he had sworn to do this, after he should have conquered the usurper, because the Chalcedonians had sided with the usurper, and had used insulting language toward Valens, and shut their gates against him as he passed by their city. In consequence of the imperial decree, therefore, the walls were razed and the stones were conveyed to Constantinople to serve for the formation of the public baths which are called Constantianæ. On one of these stones an oracle was found engraven, which had lain concealed for a long time, in which it was predicted that when the city should be supplied with abundance of water, then should the wall serve for a bath; and that innumerable hordes of barbarous nations having overrun the provinces of the Roman empire, and done a great deal of mischief, should themselves at length be destroyed. We shall here insert this oracle for the gratification of the studious:
'When nymphs their mystic dance with wat'ry feet
Shall tread through proud Byzantium's stately street;
When rage the city wall shall overthrow,
Whose stones to fence a bathing-place shall go:
Then savage lands shall send forth myriad swarms,
Adorned with golden locks aud burnished arms,
That having Ister's silver streams o'erpast,
Shall Scythian fields and Mœsia's meadows waste.
But when with conquest flushed they enter Thrace,
Fate shall assign them there a burial-place.'
Such was the prophecy. And indeed it afterwards happened, that when Valens by building an aqueduct supplied Constantinople with abundance of water, the barbarous nations made various irruptions, as we shall hereafter see. But it happened that some explained the prediction otherwise. For when that aqueduct was completed, Clearchus the prefect of the city built a stately bath, to which the name of 'the Plentiful Water' was given, in that which is now called the Forum of Theodosius: on which account the people celebrated a festival with great rejoicings, whereby there was, say they, an accomplishment of those words of the oracle,
'their mystic dance with wat'ry feet
Shall tread through proud Byzantium's stately street.'
But the completion of the prophecy took place afterwards. While the demolition was in progress the Constantinopolitans besought the emperor to suspend the destruction of the walls; and the inhabitants of Nicomedia and Nicæa sending from Bithynia to Constantinople, made the same request. But the emperor being exceedingly exasperated against the Chalcedonians, was with difficulty prevailed upon to listen to these petitions in their favor: but that he might perform his oath, he commanded that the walls should be pulled down, while at the same time the breaches should be repaired by being filled up with other small stones. Whence it is that in the present day one may see in certain parts of the wall very inferior materials laid upon prodigiously large stones, forming those unsightly patches which were made on that occasion. So much will be sufficient on the walls of Chalcedon.
The emperor however did not cease his persecution of those who embraced the doctrine of the homoousion, but drove them away from Constantinople: and as the Novatians acknowledged the same faith, they also were subjected to similar treatment. He commanded that their churches should be shut up, also their bishop they sent into exile. His name was Agelius, a person that had presided over their churches from the time of Constantine, and had led an apostolic life: for he always walked barefoot, and used but one coat, observing the injunction of the gospel. Matthew 10:10 But the emperor's displeasure against this sect was moderated by the efforts of a pious and eloquent man named Marcian, who had formerly been in military service at the imperial palace, but was at that time a presbyter in the Novatian church, and taught Anastasia and Carosa, the emperor's daughters, grammar; from the former of whom the public baths yet standing, which Valens erected at Constantinople, were named. From respect for this person therefore the Novatian churches which had been for some time closed, were again opened. The Arians however would not suffer this people to remain undisturbed, for they disliked them on account of the sympathy and love the Novatians manifested toward the Homoousians, with whom they agreed in sentiment. Such was the state of affairs at that time. We may here remark that the war against the usurper Procopius was terminated about the end of May, in the consulate of Gratian and Dagalaïfus.
Soon after the conclusion of this war, and under the same consulate, a son was born to Valentinian, the emperor in the Western parts, to whom the same name as his father's was given. For Gratian had been born previously to his becoming emperor.
On the 2d of June of the following year, in the consulate of Lupicin and Jovian, there fell at Constantinople hail of such a size as would fill a man's hand. Many affirmed that this hail had fallen as a consequence of the Divine displeasure, because of the emperor's having banished several persons engaged in the sacred ministry, those, that is to say, who refused to communicate with Eudoxius. During the same consulate, on the 24th of August, the emperor Valentinian proclaimed his son Gratian Augustus. In the next year, when Valentinian and Valens were a second time consuls, there happened on the 11th of October, an earthquake in Bithynia which destroyed the city of Nicæa on the eleventh day of October. This was about twelve years after Nicomedia had been visited by a similar catastrophe. Soon afterwards the largest portion of Germa in the Hellespont was reduced to ruins by another earthquake. Nevertheless no impression was made on the mind of either Eudoxius the Arian bishop, or the emperor Valens, by these occurrences; for they did not desist from their relentless persecution of those who dissented from them in matters of faith. Meanwhile these convulsions of the earth were regarded as typical of the disturbances which agitated the churches: for many of the clerical body were sent into exile, as we have stated; Basil and Gregory alone, by a special dispensation of Divine Providence, being on account of their eminent piety exempted from this punishment. The former of these individuals was bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia; while Gregory presided over Nazianzus, a little city in the vicinity of Cæsarea. But we shall have occasion to mention both Basil and Gregory again in the course of our history.
When the maintainers of the 'homoousian' doctrine had been thus severely dealt with, and put to flight, the persecutors began afresh to harass the Macedonians; who impelled by fear rather than violence, send deputations to one another from city to city, declaring the necessity of appealing to the emperor's brother, and also to Liberius bishop of Rome: and that it was far better for them to embrace their faith, than to communicate with the party of Eudoxius. They sent for this purpose Eustathius bishop of Sebastia, who had been several times deposed, Silvanus of Tarsus in Cilicia, and Theophilus of Castabala in the same province; charging them to dissent in nothing from Liberius concerning the faith, but to enter into communion with the Roman church, and confirm the doctrine of the homoousian. These persons therefore proceeded to Old Rome, carrying with them the letters of those who had separated themselves from Acacius at Seleucia. To the emperor they could not have access, he being occupied in the Gauls with a war against the Sarmatæ; but they presented their letters to Liberius. He at first refused to admit them; saying they were of the Arian faction, and could not possibly be received into communion by the church, inasmuch as they had rejected the Nicene Creed. To this they replied that by change of sentiment they had acknowledged the truth, having long since renounced the Anomœan Creed, and avowed the Son to be in every way 'like the Father?': moreover that they considered the terms 'like' (homoios) and homoousios to have precisely the same import. When they had made this statement, Liberius demanded of them a written confession of their faith; and they accordingly presented him a document in which the substance of the Nicene Creed was inserted. I have not introduced here, because of their length, the letters from Smyrna, Asia, and from Pisidia, Isauria, Pamphylia, and Lycia, in all which places they had held Synods. The written profession which the deputies sent with Eustathius, delivered to Liberius, is as follows:
'To our Lord, Brother, and fellow-Minister Liberius: Eustathius, Theophilus, and Silvanus, salutations in the Lord.
'On account of the insane opinion of heretics, who cease not to introduce occasions of offense into the catholic churches, we being desirous of checking their career, come forward to express our approbation of the doctrines recognized the Synod of orthodox bishops which has been convened at Lampsacus, Smyrna, and various other places: from which Synod we being constituted a deputation, bring a letter to your benignity and to all the Italian and Western bishops, by which we declare that we hold and maintain the catholic faith which was established in the holy council at Nicæa under the reign of Constantine of blessed memory, by three hundred and eighteen bishops, and has hitherto continued entire and unshaken; in which creed the term homoousios is holily and devoutly employed in opposition to the pernicious doctrine of Arius. We therefore, together with the aforesaid persons whom we represent, profess under our own hand, that we have held, do hold, and will maintain the same faith even unto the end. We condemn Arius, and his impious doctrine, with his disciples, and those who agree with his sentiments; as also the same heresy of Sabellius, the Patripassians, the Marcionites, the Photinians, the Marcellians, that of Paul of Samosata, and those who countenance such tenets; in short all the heresies which are opposed to the aforesaid sacred creed, which was piously and in a catholic spirit set forth by the holy fathers at Nicæa. But we especially anathematize that form of the creed which was recited at the Synod of Ariminum, as altogether contrary to the before-mentioned creed of the holy Synod of Nicæa, to which the bishops at Constantinople affixed their signatures, being deceived by artifice and perjury, by reason of its having been brought from Nice, a town of Thrace. Our own creed, and that of those whose delegates we are, is this:
'We believe in one God the Father Almighty, the Maker of all things visible and invisible: and in one only-begotten God, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God; begotten of the Father; that is of the substance of the Father; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten not made, of the same substance with the Father, through whom all things were made which are in heaven, and which are upon the earth: who for us men, and for our salvation, descended, became incarnate, and was made man; suffered, and rose again the third day; ascended into the heavens, and will come to judge the living and the dead. [We believe] also in the Holy Spirit. But the Catholic and Apostolic Church of God anathematizes those who assert that 'there was a time when he was not,' and 'that he was not before he was begotten,' and that 'he was made of things which are not'; or those that say 'the Son of God is of another hypostasis' or 'substance than the Father,' or that 'he is mutable, or susceptible of change.'
I, Eustathius, bishop of the city of Sebastia, with Theophilus and Silvanus, delegates of the Synod of Lampsacus, Smyrna, and other places, have voluntarily subscribed this confession of faith with our own hands. And if, after the publication of this creed, any one shall presume to calumniate either us, or those who sent us, let him come with the letters of your holiness before such orthodox bishops as your sanctity shall approve of, and bring the matter to an issue with us before them; and if any charge shall be substantiated, let the guilty be punished.'
Liberius having securely pledged the delegates by this document, received them into communion, and afterwards dismissed them with this letter:
To our beloved brethren and fellow-ministers, Evethius, Cyril, Hyperechius, Uranius, Heron, Elpidius, Maximus, Eusebius, Eucarpius, Heortasius, Neon, Eumathius, Faustinus, Proclinus, Pasinicus, Arsenius, Severus, Didymion, Brittanius, Callicrates, Dalmatius, Ædesius, Eustochius, Ambrose, Gelonius, Pardalius, Macedonius, Paul, Marcellus, Heraclius, Alexander, Adolius, Marcian, Sthenelus, John, Macer, Charisius, Silvanus, Photinus, Anthony, Aythus, Celsus, Euphranon, Milesius, Patricius, Severian, Eusebius, Eumolpius, Athanasius, Diophantus, Menodorus, Diocles, Chrysampelus, Neon, Eugenius, Eustathius, Callicrates, Arsenius, Eugenius, Martyrius, Hieracius, Leontius, Philagrius, Lucius, and to all the orthodox bishops in the East, Liberius bishop of Italy, and the bishops throughout the West, salutations always in the Lord.
Your letters, beloved brethren, resplendent with the light of faith, delivered to us by our highly esteemed brethren, the bishops Eustathius, Silvanus, and Theophilus, brought to us the much longed-for joy of peace and concord: and this chiefly because they have demonstrated and assured us that your opinion and sentiments are in perfect harmony with those both of our insignificance, and also with those of all the bishops in Italy and the Western parts. We knowledge this to be the Catholic and Apostolic faith, which until the time of the Synod at Nicæa had continued unadulterated and unshaken. This creed your legates have professed that they themselves hold, and to our great joy have obliterated every vestige and impression of an injurious suspicion, by attesting it not only in word, but also in writing. We have deemed it proper to subjoin to these letters a copy of this their declaration, lest we should leave any pretext to the heretics for entering into a fresh conspiracy, by which they might stir up the smouldering embers of their own malice, and according to their custom, rekindle the flames of discord. Moreover our most esteemed brethren, Eustathius, Silvanus, and Theophilus, have professed this also, both that they themselves, and also your love, have always held, and will maintain unto the last, the creed approved of at Nicæa by 318 Orthodox Bishops; which contains the perfect truth, and both confutes and overthrows the whole swarm of heretics. For it was not of their own will, but by Divine appointment that so great a number of bishops was collected against the madness of Arius, as equaled that of those by whose assistance blessed Abraham through faith destroyed so many thousand of his enemies. Genesis 14:14 This faith being comprehended in the terms hypostasis and homoousios, like a strong and impregnable fortress checks and repels all the assaults and vain machinations of Arian perverseness. Wherefore when all the Western bishops were assembled at Ariminum, whither the craft of the Arians had drawn them, in order that either by deceptive persuasions, or to speak more truly, by the coercion of the secular power, they might erase, or indirectly revoke what had been introduced into the creed with so much prudence, their subtlety was not of the least avail. For almost all those who at Ariminum were either allured into error, or at that time deceived, have since taken a right view of the matter; and after anathematizing the exposition of faith set forth by those who were convened at Ariminum, have subscribed the Catholic and Apostolic Creed which was promulgated at Nicæa. They have entered into communion with us, and regard the dogma of Arius and his disciples with increased aversion, and are even indignant against it. Of which fact when the legates of your love saw the indubitable evidences, they annexed yourselves to their own subscription; anathematizing Arius, and what was transacted at Ariminum against the creed ratified at Nicæa, to which even you yourselves, beguiled by perjury, were induced to subscribe. Whence it appeared suitable to us to write to your love, and to accede to your just request, especially since we are assured by the profession of your legates that the Eastern bishops have recovered their senses, and now concur in opinion with the orthodox of the West. We further give you to understand, lest you should be ignorant of it, that the blasphemies of the Synod of Ariminum have been anathematized by those who seem to have been at that time deceived by fraud, and that all have acknowledged the Nicene Creed. It is fit therefore that it should be made generally known by you that such as have had their faith vitiated by violence or guile, may now emerge from heretical darkness into the Divine light of catholic liberty. Moreover whosoever of them, after this council, shall not disgorge the poison of corrupt doctrine, by abjuring all the blasphemies of Arius, and anathematizing them, let them know that they are themselves, together with Arius and his disciples and the rest of the serpents, whether Sabellians, Patripassians, or the followers of any other heresy, dissevered and excommunicated from the assemblies of the Church, which does not admit of illegitimate children. May God preserve you steadfast, beloved brethren.
When the adherents of Eustathius had received this letter, they proceeded to Sicily, where they caused a Synod of Sicilian bishops to be convened, and in their presence avowed the homoousian faith, and professed their adherence to the Nicene Creed: then having received from them also a letter to the same effect as the preceding, they returned to those who had sent them. They on their part, on the receipt of the letters of Liberius, sent delegates from city to city to the prominent supporters of the doctrine of the homoousion, exhorting them to assemble simultaneously at Tarsus in Cilicia, in order to confirm the Nicene Creed, and terminate all the contentions which had subsequently arisen. And indeed this would probably have been accomplished had not the Arian bishop, Eudoxius, who at that time possessed great influence with the emperor, thwarted their purpose; for on learning of the Synod that had been summoned to meet [at Tarsus], he became so exasperated that he redoubled his persecution against them. That the Macedonians by sending legates to Liberius were admitted to communion with him, and professed the Nicene Creed, is attested by Sabinus himself, in his Collection of Synodical Transactions.
About the same time Eunomius separated himself from Eudoxius, and held assemblies apart, because after he had repeatedly entreated that his preceptor Aëtius might be received into communion, Eudoxius continued to oppose it. Now Eudoxius did this against his preference, for he did not reject the opinion with Aëtius since it was the same as his own; but he yielded to the prevailing sentiment of his own party, who objected to Aëtius as heterodox. This was the cause of the division between Eunomius and Eudoxius, and such was the state of things at Constantinople. But the church at Alexandria was disturbed by an edict of the prætorian prefects, sent hither by means of Eudoxius. Whereupon Athanasius, dreading the irrational impetuosity of the multitude, and fearing lest he should be regarded as the author of the excesses that might be committed, concealed himself for four entire months in an ancestral tomb. Inasmuch however as the people, on account of their affection for him, became seditious in impatience of his absence, the emperor, on ascertaining that on this account agitation prevailed at Alexandria, ordered by his letters that Athanasius should be suffered to preside over the churches without molestation; and this was the reason why the Alexandrian church enjoyed tranquillity until the death of Athanasius. How the Arian faction became possessed of the churches after his decease, we shall unfold in the course of our history.
The Emperor Valens leaving Constantinople again set out towards Antioch; but on his arrival at Nicomedia, a city of Bithynia, his progress was arrested by the following circumstances. Eudoxius the bishop of the Arian church who has been in possession of the seat of the Constantinopolitan church for nineteen years, died soon after the emperor's departure from that city, in the third consulate of Valentinian and Valens. The Arians therefore appointed Demophilus to succeed him; but the Homoousians considering that an opportunity was afforded them, elected a certain Evagrius, a person who maintained their own principles; and Eustathius, who had been bishop of Antioch, formally ordained him. He had been recalled from exile by Jovian, and had at this time privately come to Constantinople, for the purpose of confirming the adherents to the doctrine of the homoousion.
When this had been accomplished the Arians renewed their persecution of the Homoousians: and the emperor was very soon informed of what had taken place, and apprehending the subversion of the city in consequence of some popular tumult, immediately sent troops from Nicomedia to Constantinople; ordering that both he who had been ordained, and the one who had ordained him, should be apprehended and sent into exile in different regions. Eustathius therefore was banished to Bizya a city of Thrace; and Evagrius was conveyed to another place. After this the Arians, becoming bolder, grievously harassed the orthodox party, frequently beating them, reviling them, causing them to be imprisoned, and fined; in short they practiced distressing and intolerable annoyances against them. The sufferers were induced to appeal to the emperor for protection against their adversaries if haply they might obtain some relief from this oppression. But whatever hope of redress they might have cherished from this quarter, was altogether frustrated, inasmuch as they thus merely spread their grievances before him who was the very author of them.
Certain pious men of the clerical order, eighty in number, among whom Urbanus, Theodore, and Menedemus were the leaders, proceeded to Nicomedia, and there presented to the emperor a supplicatory petition, informing him and complaining of the ill-usage to which they had been subjected. The emperor was filled with wrath; but dissembled his displeasure in their presence, and gave Modestus the prefect a secret order to apprehend these persons, and put them to death. The manner in which they were destroyed being unusual, deserves to be recorded. The prefect fearing that he should excite the populace to a seditious movement against himself, if he attempted the public execution of so many, pretended to send the men away into exile. Accordingly as they received the intelligence of their destiny with great firmness of mind the prefect ordered that they should be embarked as if to be conveyed to their several places of banishment, having meanwhile enjoined on the sailors to set the vessel on fire, as soon as they reached the mid sea, that their victims being so destroyed, might even be deprived of burial. This injunction was obeyed; for when they arrived at the middle of the Astacian Gulf, the crew set fire to the ship, and then took refuge in a small barque which followed them, and so escaped. Meanwhile it came to pass that a strong easterly wind blew, and the burning ship was roughly driven but moved faster and was preserved until it reached a port named Dacidizus, where it was utterly consumed together with the men who were shut up in it. Many have asserted that this impious deed was not suffered to go unpunished: for there immediately after arose so great a famine throughout all Phrygia, that a large proportion of the inhabitants were obliged to abandon their country for a time, and betake themselves some to Constantinople and some to other provinces. For Constantinople, notwithstanding the vast population it supplies, yet always abounds with the necessaries of life, all manner of provisions being imported into it by sea from various regions; and the Euxine which lies near it, furnishes it with wheat to any extent it may require.
The Emperor Valens, little affected by the calamities resulting from the famine, went to Antioch in Syria, and during his residence there cruelly persecuted such as would not embrace Arianism. For not content with ejecting out of almost all the churches of the East those who maintained the 'homoousian' opinion, he inflicted on them various punishments besides. He destroyed a greater number even than before, delivering them up to many different kinds of death, but especially drowning in the river.
But we must here mention certain circumstances that occurred at Edessa in Mesopotamia. There is in that city a magnificent church dedicated to St. Thomas the Apostle, wherein, on account of the sanctity of the place, religious assemblies are incessantly held. The Emperor Valens wishing to inspect this edifice, and having learned that all who usually congregated there were opposed to the heresy which he favored, he is said to have struck the prefect with his own hand, because he had neglected to expel them thence also. As the prefect after submitting to this ignominy, was most unwillingly constrained to subserve the emperor's indignation against them — for he did not desire to effect the slaughter of so great a number of persons — he privately suggested that no one should be found there. But no one gave heed either to his admonitions or to his menaces; for on the following day they all crowded to the church. And when the prefect was going towards it with a large military force in order to satisfy the emperor's rage, a poor woman leading her own little child by the hand hurried hastily by, on her way to the church, breaking through the ranks of the prefect's company of soldiers. The prefect irritated at this, ordered her to be brought to him, and thus addressed her: 'Wretched woman! Whither are you running in so disorderly a manner?' She replied, 'To the same place that others are hastening.' 'Have you not heard,' said he, 'that the prefect is about to put to death all that shall be found there?' 'Yes,' said the woman, 'and therefore I hasten that I may be found there.' 'And whither are you dragging that little child?' said the prefect: the woman answered, 'That he also may be made worthy of martyrdom.' The prefect on hearing these things, conjecturing that a similar resolution actuated the others who were assembled there, immediately went back to the emperor, and informed him that all were ready to die in behalf of their own faith. He added that it would be preposterous to destroy so many persons at one time, and thus persuaded the emperor to control his wrath. In this way were the Edessenes preserved from being massacred by order of their sovereign.
The cruel disposition of the emperor was at this time abused by an execrable demon, who induced certain curious persons to institute an inquiry by means of necromancy as to who should succeed Valens on the throne. To their magical incantations the demon gave responses not distinct and unequivocal, but as the general practice is, full of ambiguity; for displaying the four letters q, e, o, and d, he declared that the name of the successor of Valens began with these; and that it was a compound name. When the emperor was apprised of this oracle, instead of committing to God, who alone can penetrate futurity, the decision of this matter, in contravention of those Christian principles to which he pretended the most zealous adherence, he put to death very many persons of whom he had the suspicion that they aimed at the sovereign power: thus such as were named 'Theodore,' 'Theodotus,' 'Theodosius,' 'Theodulus,' and the like, were sacrificed to the emperor's fears; and among the rest was Theodosiolus, a very brave man, descended from a noble family in Spain. Many persons therefore, to avoid the danger to which they were exposed, changed their names, giving up those which they had received from their parents in infancy as dangerous. This will be enough on that subject.
It must be said that as long as Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, was alive, the emperor, restrained by the Providence of God, abstained from molesting Alexandria and Egypt: indeed he knew very well that the multitude of those who were attached to Athanasius was very great; and on that account he was careful lest the public affairs should be hazarded, by the Alexandrians, who are an irritable race, being excited to sedition. But Athanasius, after being engaged in so many and such severe conflicts on behalf of the church, departed this life in the second consulate of Gratian and Probus, having governed that church amidst the greatest perils forty-six years. He left as his successor Peter, a devout and eloquent man.
Upon this the Arians, emboldened by their knowledge of the emperor's religious sentiments, again took courage, and without delay informed him of the circumstance. He was then residing at Antioch. Then indeed Euzoïus who presided over the Arians of that city, eagerly embracing the favorable opportunity thus presented, begged permission to go to Alexandria, for the purpose of putting Lucius the Arian in possession of the churches there. The emperor acceded to this request, and as speedily as possible Euzoïus proceeded immediately to Alexandria, attended by the imperial troops. Magnus, also, the emperor's treasurer, went with him. Moreover an imperial mandate had been issued to Palladius, the governor of Egypt, enjoining him to aid them with a military force. Wherefore having apprehended Peter, they cast him into prison; and after dispersing the rest of the clergy, they placed Lucius in the episcopal chair.
Of the outrages perpetrated upon the installation of Lucius, and the treatment of those who were ejected, both in the courts and outside of the courts, and how some were subjected to a variety of tortures, and others sent into exile even after this excruciating process, Sabinus takes not the slightest notice. In fact, being half disposed to Arianism himself, he purposely veils the atrocities of his friends. Peter, however, has exposed them, in the letters he addressed to all the churches, when he had escaped from prison. For this [bishop] having managed to escape from prison, fled to Damasus, bishop of Rome. The Arians though not very numerous, becoming thus possessed of the Alexandrian churches soon after obtained an imperial edict directing the governor of Egypt to expel not only from Alexandria but even out of the country, the favorers of the 'homoousian' doctrine, and all such as were obnoxious to Lucius. After this they assailed and disturbed and terribly harassed the monastic institutions in the desert; armed men rushed in the most ferocious manner upon those who were utterly defenceless, and who would not lift an arm to repel their violence: so that numbers of unresisting victims were in this manner slaughtered with a degree of wanton cruelty beyond description.
Since I have referred to the monasteries of Egypt, it may be proper here to give a brief account of them. They were founded probably at a very early period, but were greatly enlarged and augmented by a devout man whose name was Ammoun. In his youth this person had an aversion to matrimony; but when some of his relatives urged him not to contemn marriage, but to take a wife to himself, he was prevailed upon and was married. On leading the bride with the customary ceremonies from the banquet-room to the nuptial couch, after their mutual friends had withdrawn, he took a book containing the epistles of the apostles and read to his wife Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians, explaining to her the apostle's admonitions to married persons. Adducing many external considerations besides, he descanted on the inconveniences and discomforts attending matrimonial intercourse, the pangs of child-bearing, and the trouble and anxiety connected with rearing a family. He contrasted with all this the advantages of chastity; described the liberty, and immaculate purity of a life of continence; and affirmed that virginity places persons in the nearest relation to the Deity. By these and other arguments of a similar kind, he persuaded his virgin bride to renounce with him a secular life, prior to their having any conjugal knowledge of each other. Having taken this resolution, they retired together to the mountain of Nitria, and in a hut there inhabited for a short time one common ascetic apartment, without regarding their difference of sex, being according to the apostles, 'one in Christ.' But not long after, the recent and unpolluted bride thus addressed Ammoun: 'It is unsuitable,' said she, 'for you who practice chastity, to look upon a woman in so confined a dwelling; let us therefore, if it is agreeable to you, perform our exercise apart.' This agreement again was satisfactory to both, and so they separated, and spent the rest of their lives in abstinence from wine and oil, eating dry bread alone, sometimes passing over one day, at others fasting two, and sometimes more. Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, asserts in his Life of Anthony, that the subject of his memoir who was contemporary with this Ammoun, saw his soul taken up by angels after his decease. Accordingly, a great number of persons emulated Ammoun's manner of life, so that by degrees the mountains of Nitria and Scitis were filled with monks, an account of whose lives would require an express work. As, however, there were among them persons of eminent piety, distinguished for their strict discipline and apostolic lives, who said and did many things worthy of being recorded, I deem it useful to interweave with my history a few particulars selected out of the great number for the information of my readers. It is said that Ammoun never saw himself naked, being accustomed to say that 'it became not a monk to see even his own person exposed.' And when once he wanted to pass a river, but was unwilling to undress, he besought God to enable him to cross without his being obliged to break his resolution; and immediately an angel transported him to the other side of the river. Another monk named Didymus lived entirely alone to the day of his death, although he had reached the age of ninety years. Arsenius, another of them, would not separate young delinquents from communion, but only those that were advanced in age: 'for,' said he, 'when a young person is excommunicated he becomes hardened; but an elderly one is soon sensible of the misery of excommunication.' Pior was accustomed to take his food as he walked along. As a certain one asked him, 'Why do you eat thus?' 'That I may not seem,' said he, 'to make eating serious business but rather a thing done by the way.' To another putting the same question he replied, 'Lest even in eating my mind should be sensible of corporeal enjoyment.' Isidore affirmed that he had not been conscious of sin even in thought for forty years; and that he had never consented either to lust or anger. Pambos being an illiterate man went to some one for the purpose of being taught a psalm; and having heard the first verse of the thirty-eighth psalm, 'I said I will take heed to my ways, that I offend not with my tongue,' he departed without staying to hear the second verse, saying, 'this one will suffice, if I can practically acquire it.' And when the person who had given him the verse reproved him because he had not seen him for the space of six months, he answered that he had not yet learned to practice the verse of the psalm. After a considerable lapse of time, being asked by one of his friends whether he had made himself master of the verse, his answer was, 'I have scarcely succeeded in accomplishing it during nineteen years.' A certain individual having placed gold in his hands for distribution to the poor, requested him to reckon what he had given him. 'There is no need of counting,' said he, 'but of integrity of mind.' This same Pambos, at the desire of Athanasius the bishop, came out of the desert to Alexandria and on beholding an actress there, he wept. When those present asked him why he wept, he replied, 'Two causes have affected me: one is the destruction of this woman; the other is that I exert myself less to please my God than she does to please obscene characters.' Another said that 'a monk who did not work ought to be regarded as on a level with the covetous man.' Piterus was well-informed in many branches of natural philosophy, and was accustomed frequently to enter into expositions of the principles sometimes of one and sometimes of another department of science, but he always commenced his expositions with prayer. There were also among the monks of that period, two of the same name, of great sanctity, each being called Macarius; one of whom was from Upper Egypt, the other from the city of Alexandria. Both were celebrated for their ascetic discipline, the purity of their life and conversation, and the miracles which were wrought by their hands. The Egyptian Macarius performed so many cures, and cast out so many devils, that it would require a distinct treatise to record all that the grace of God enabled him to do. His manner toward those who resorted to him was austere, yet at the same time calculated to inspire veneration. The Alexandrian Macarius, while in all respects resembling his Egyptian namesake, differed from him in this, that he was always cheerful to his visitors; and by the affability of his manners led many young men to asceticism. Evagrius became a disciple of these men, acquired from them the philosophy of deeds, whereas he had previously known that which consisted in words only. He was ordained deacon at Constantinople by Gregory of Nazianzus, and afterwards went with him into Egypt, where he became acquainted with these eminent persons, and emulated their course of conduct, and miracles were done by his hands as numerous and important as those of his preceptors. Books were also composed by him of very valuable nature, one of which is entitled The Monk, or, On Active Virtue; another The Gnostic, or, To him who is deemed worthy of Knowledge: this book is divided into fifty chapters. A third is designated Antirrheticus, and contains selections from the Holy Scriptures against tempting spirits, distributed into eight parts, according to the number of the arguments. He wrote moreover Six Hundred Prognostic Problems, and also two compositions in verse, one addressed To the Monks living in Communities, and the other To the Virgin. Whoever shall read these productions will be convinced of their excellence. It will not be out of place here, I conceive, to subjoin to what has been before stated, a few things mentioned by him respecting the monks. These are his words:
It becomes us to enquire into the habits of the pious monks who have preceded us, in order that we may correct ourselves by their example: for undoubtedly very many excellent things have been said and done by them. One of them was accustomed to say, that 'a drier and not irregular diet combined with love, would quickly conduct a monk into the haven of tranquillity.' The same individual freed one of his brethren from being troubled by apparitions at night, by enjoining him to minister while fasting to the sick. And being asked why he prescribed this: 'Such affections,' said he, 'are by nothing so effectually dissipated as by the exercise of compassion.' A certain philosopher of those times coming to Anthony the Just, said to him, 'How can you endure, father, being deprived of the comfort of books?' 'My book, O philosopher,' replied Anthony, 'is the nature of things that are made, and it is present whenever I wish to read the words of God.' That 'chosen vessel,' Acts 9:15 the aged Egyptian Macarius, asked me, why the strength of the faculty of memory is impaired by cherishing the remembrance of injury received from men; while by remembering those done us by devils it remains uninjured? And when I hesitated, scarcely knowing what answer to make, and begged him to account for it: 'Because,' said he, 'the former is an affection contrary to nature, and the latter is conformable to the nature of the mind.' Going on one occasion to the holy father Macarius about mid-day, and being overcome with the heat and thirst, I begged for some water to drink: 'Content yourself with the shade,' was his reply, 'for many who are now journeying by land, or sailing on the deep, are deprived even of this.' Discussing with him afterwards the subject of abstinence, 'Take courage, my son,' said he: 'for twenty years I have neither eaten, drunk, nor slept to satiety; my bread has always been weighed, my water measured, and what little sleep I have had has been stolen by reclining myself against a wall.' Ezra 4:10-11 The death of his father was announced to one of the monks: 'Cease your blasphemy,' said he to the person that told him; 'my father is immortal.' One of the brethren who possessed nothing but a copy of the Gospels, sold it, and distributed the price in food to the hungry, uttering this memorable saying — 'I have sold the book which says,
Sell that you have and give to the poor.' Matthew 19:21 There is an island about the northern part of the city of Alexandria, beyond the lake called Maria, where a monk from Parembole dwells, in high repute among the Gnostics. This person was accustomed to say, that all the deeds of the monks were done for one of these five reasons;— on account of God, nature, custom, necessity, or manual labor. The same also said that there was only one virtue in nature, but that it assumes various characteristics according to the dispositions of the soul: just as the light of the sun is itself without form, but accommodates itself to the figure of that which receives it. Another of the monks said, 'I withdraw myself from pleasures, in order to cut off the occasions of anger: for I know that it always contends for pleasures, disturbing my tranquillity of mind, and unfitting me for the attainment of knowledge.' One of the aged monks said that 'Love knows not how to keep a deposit either of provisions or money.' He added, 'I never remember to have been twice deceived by the devil in the same thing.' Thus wrote Evagrius in his book entitled Practice. And in that which he called The Gnostic he says, 'We have learned from Gregory the Just, that there are four virtues, having distinct characteristics:— prudence and fortitude, temperance and justice. That it is the province of prudence to contemplate the sacred and intelligent powers apart from expression, because these are unfolded by wisdom: of fortitude to adhere to truth against all opposition, and never to turn aside to that which is unreal: of temperance to receive seed from the chief husbandman, Matthew 13:24 but to repel him who would sow over it seed of another kind: and finally, of justice to adapt discourse to every one, according to their condition and capacity; stating some things obscurely, others in a figurative manner, and explaining others clearly for the instruction of the less intelligent.' That pillar of truth, Basil of Cappadocia, used to say that 'the knowledge which men teach is perfected by constant study and exercise; but that which proceeds from the grace of God, by the practice of justice, patience, and mercy.' That the former indeed is often developed in persons who are still subject to the passions; whereas the latter is the portion of those only who are superior to their influence, and who during the season of devotion, contemplate that peculiar light of the mind which illumines them. That luminary of the Egyptians, holy Athanasius, assures us 'that Moses was commanded to place the table on the north Exodus 26:35 side. Let the Gnostics therefore understand what wind is contrary to them, and so nobly endure every temptation, and minister nourishment with a willing mind to those who apply to them.' Serapion, the angel of the church of the Thmuïtae, declared that 'the mind is completely purified by drinking in spiritual knowledge': that 'charity cures the inflammatory tendencies of the soul'; and that 'the depraved lusts which spring up in it are restrained by abstinence.' 'Exercise yourself continually,' said the great and enlightened teacher Didymus, 'in reflecting on providence and judgment; and endeavor to bear in memory the material of whatever discourses you may have heard on these topics, for almost all fail in this respect. You will find reasonings concerning judgment in the difference of created forms, and the constitution of the universe: sermons on providence comprehended in those means by which we are led from vice and ignorance to virtue and knowledge.'
These few extracts from Evagrius we thought it would be appropriate to insert here. There was another excellent man among the monks, named Ammonius, who had so little interest in secular matters, that when he went to Rome with Athanasius, he chose to investigate none of the magnificent works of that city, contenting himself with examining the Cathedral of Peter and Paul only. This same Ammonius on being urged to enter upon the episcopal office, cut off his own right ear, that by mutilation of his person he might disqualify himself for ordination. But when long afterwards Evagrius, whom Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, wished to make a bishop, having effected his escape without maiming himself in any way, afterwards happened to meet Ammonius, and told him jocosely, that he had done wrong in cutting off his own ear, as he had by that means rendered himself criminal in the sight of God. To which Ammonius replied, 'And do you think, Evagrius, that you will not be punished, who from self-love have cut out your own tongue, to avoid the exercise of that gift of utterance which has been committed to you?' There were at the same time in the monasteries very many other admirable and devout characters whom it would be too tedious to enumerate in this place, and besides if we should attempt to describe the life of each, and the miracles they did by means of that sanctity with which they were endowed, we should necessarily digress too far from the object we have in view. Should any one desire to become acquainted with their history, in reference both to their deeds and experiences and discourses for the edification of their auditors, as well as how wild beasts became subject to their authority, there is a specific treatise as on the subject, composed by the monk Palladius, who was a disciple of Evagrius, and gives all these particulars in minute detail. In that work he also mentions several women, who practiced the same kind of austerities as the men that have been referred to. Both Evagrius and Palladius flourished a short time after the death of Valens. We must now return to the point whence we diverged.
The emperor Valens having issued an edict commanding that the orthodox should be persecuted both in Alexandria and in the rest of Egypt, depopulation and ruin to an immense extent immediately followed: some were dragged before the tribunals, others cast into prison, and many tortured in various ways, and in fact all sorts of punishments were inflicted upon persons who aimed only at peace and quiet. When these outrages had been perpetrated at Alexandria just as Lucius thought proper, Euzoïus returned to Antioch, and Lucian the Arian, attended by the commander-in-chief of the army with a considerable body of troops, immediately proceeded to the monasteries of Egypt, where the general in person assailed the assemblage of holy men with greater fury even than the ruthless soldiery. On reaching these solitudes they found the monks engaged in their customary exercises, praying, healing diseases, and casting out devils. Yet they, regardless of these extraordinary evidences of Divine power, suffered them not to continue their solemn devotions, but drove them out of the oratories by force. Rufinus declares that he was not only a witness of these cruelties, but also one of the sufferers. Thus in them were renewed those things which are spoken of by the apostle: Hebrews 11:36-38 'for they were mocked, and had trial of scourgings, were stripped naked, put in bonds, stoned, slain with the sword, went about in the wilderness clad in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy, wandering in deserts, in mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.' In all these things 'they obtained a good report' for their faith and their works, and the cures which the grace of Christ wrought by their hands. But as it appears Divine Providence permitted them to endure these evils, 'having for them provided something better,' Hebrews 11:40 that through their sufferings others might obtain the salvation of God, and this subsequent events seem to prove. When therefore these wonderful men proved superior to all the violence which was exercised toward them, Lucius in despair advised the military chief to send the fathers of the monks into exile: these were the Egyptian Macarius, and his namesake of Alexandria, both of whom were accordingly banished to an island where there was no Christian inhabitant, and in this island there was an idolatrous temple, and a priest whom the inhabitants worshipped as a god. On the arrival of these holy men at the island, the demons of that place were filled with fear and trepidation. Now it happened at the same time that the priest's daughter became suddenly possessed by a demon, and began to act with great fury, and to overturn everything that came in her way; nor was any force sufficient to restrain her, but she cried with a loud voice to these saints of God, saying:— 'Why are you come here to cast us out from hence also?' Matthew 8:29 Then did the men there also display the peculiar power which they had received through Divine grace: for having cast out the demon from the maid, and presented her cured to her father, they led the priest himself, and also all the inhabitants of the island to the Christian faith. Whereupon they immediately broke their images in pieces, and changed the form of their temple into that of a church; and having been baptized, they joyfully received instruction in the doctrines of Christianity. Thus these marvelous individuals, after enduring persecution on account of the 'homoousian' faith, were themselves more approved, became the means of salvation to others, and confirmed the truth.
About the same period God brought into observation another faithful person, deeming it worthy that through him faith might be witnessed unto: this was Didymus, a most admirable and eloquent man, instructed in all the learning of the age in which he flourished. At a very early age, when he had scarcely acquired the first elements of learning, he was attacked by disease in the eyes which deprived him of sight. But God compensated to him the loss of corporeal vision, by bestowing increased intellectual acumen. For what he could not learn by seeing, he was enabled to acquire through the sense of hearing; so that being from his childhood endowed with excellent abilities, he soon far surpassed his youthful companions who possessed the keenest sight. He made himself master of the principles of grammar and rhetoric with astonishing facility; and proceeded thence to philosophical studies, dialectics, arithmetic, music, and the various other departments of knowledge to which his attention was directed; and he so treasured up in his mind these branches of science, that he was prepared with the utmost readiness to enter into a discussion of these subjects with those who had become conversant therewith by reading books. Not only this, but he was so well acquainted with the Divine oracles contained in the Old and New Testament that he composed several treatises in exposition of them, besides three books on the Trinity. He published also commentaries on Origen's book Of Principles, in which he commends these writings, saying that they are excellent, and that those who calumniate their author, and speak slightingly of his works, are mere cavilers. 'For,' says he, 'they are destitute of sufficient penetration to comprehend the profound wisdom of that extraordinary man.' Those who may desire to form a just idea of the extensive erudition of Didymus, and the intense ardor of his mind, must peruse with attention his diversified and elaborate works. It is said that after Anthony had conversed for some time with this Didymus, long before the reign of Valens, when he came from the desert to Alexandria on account of the Arians, perceiving the learning and intelligence of the man, he said to him, 'Didymus, let not the loss of your bodily eyes distress you: for you are deprived of such eyes merely as are the common possession of gnats and flies; rather rejoice that you have eyes such as angels see with, by which the Deity himself is discerned, and his light comprehended.' This address of the pious Anthony to Didymus was made long before the times we are describing: in fact Didymus was then regarded as the great bulwark of the true faith, answering the Arians, whose sophistic cavilings he fully exposed, triumphantly refuting all their vain subtleties and deceptive reasonings.
Now Providence opposed Didymus to the Arians at Alexandria. But for the purpose of confuting them in other cities, it raised up Basil of Cæsarea and Gregory of Nazianzus; concerning these it will be reasonable to give a brief account in this place. Indeed the universally prevalent memory of the men would be enough as a token of their fame; and the extent of their knowledge is sufficiently perceptible in their writings. Since, however, the exercise of their talents was of great service to the Church, tending in a high degree to the maintenance of the catholic faith, the nature of my history obliges me to take particular notice of these two persons. If any one should compare Basil and Gregory with one another, and consider the life, morals, and virtues of each, he would find it difficult to decide to which of them he ought to assign the pre-eminence: so equally did they both appear to excel, whether you regard the rectitude of their conduct, or their deep acquaintance with Greek literature and the sacred Scriptures. In their youth they were pupils at Athens of Himerius and Prohæresius, the most celebrated sophists of that age: subsequently they frequented the school of Libanius at Antioch in Syria, where they cultivated rhetoric to the utmost. Having been deemed worthy of the profession of sophistry, they were urged by many of their friends to enter the profession of teaching eloquence; others would have persuaded them to practice law: but despising both these pursuits, they abandoned their former studies, and embraced the monastic life. Having had some slight taste of philosophical science from him who then taught it at Antioch, they procured Origen's works, and drew from them the right interpretation of the sacred Scriptures; for the fame of Origen was very great and widespread throughout the whole world at that time; after a careful perusal of the writings of that great man, they contended against the Arians with manifest advantage. And when the defenders of Arianism quoted the same author in confirmation, as they imagined, of their own views, these two confuted them, and clearly proved that their opponents did not at all understand the reasoning of Origen. Indeed, although Eunomius, who was then their champion, and many others on the side of the Arians were considered men of great eloquence, yet whenever they attempted to enter into controversy with Gregory and Basil, they appeared in comparison with them ignorant and illiterate. Basil being ordained to the office of deacon, was by Meletius, bishop of Antioch, from that rank elevated to the bishopric of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, which was his native country. Thither he therefore hastened, fearing lest these Arian dogmas should have infected the provinces of Pontus; and in order to counteract them, he founded several monasteries, diligently instructed the people in his own doctrines, and confirmed the faith of those whose minds were wavering. Gregory being constituted bishop of Nazianzus, a small city of Cappadocia over which his own father had before presided, pursued a course similar to that which Basil took; for he went through the various cities, and strengthened the weak in faith. To Constantinople in particular he made frequent visits, and by his ministrations there, comforted and assured the orthodox believers, wherefore a short time after, by the suffrage of many bishops, he was made bishop of the church at Constantinople. When intelligence of the proceedings of these two zealous and devoted men reached the ears of the emperor Valens, he immediately ordered Basil to be brought from Cæsarea to Antioch; where being arraigned before the tribunal of the prefect, that functionary asked him 'why he would not embrace the emperor's faith?' Basil with much boldness condemned the errors of that creed which his sovereign countenanced, and vindicated the doctrine of the homoousion: and when the prefect threatened him with death, 'Would,' said Basil, 'that I might be released from the bonds of the body for the truth's sake.' The prefect having exhorted him to reconsider the matter more seriously, Basil is reported to have said, 'I am the same today that I shall be tomorrow: but I wish that you had not changed yourself.' At that time, therefore, Basil remained in custody throughout the day. It happened, however, not long afterwards that Galates, the emperor's infant son, was attacked with a dangerous malady, so that the physicians despaired of his recovery; when the empress Dominica, his mother, assured the emperor that she had been greatly disquieted in her dreams by fearful visions, which led her to believe that the child's illness was a chastisement on account of the ill treatment of the bishop. The emperor after a little reflection sent for Basil, and in order to prove his faith said to him, 'If the doctrine you maintain is the truth, pray that my son may not die.' 'If your majesty should believe as I do,' replied Basil, 'and the church should be unified, the child shall live.' To these conditions the emperor would not agree: 'God's will concerning the child will be done then,' said Basil; as Basil said this the emperor ordered him to be dismissed; the child, however, died shortly after. Such is an epitome of the history of these distinguished ecclesiastics, both of whom have left us many admirable works, some of which Rufinus says he has translated into Latin. Basil had two brothers, Peter and Gregory; the former of whom adopted Basil's monastic mode of life; while the latter emulated his eloquence in teaching, and completed after his death Basil's treatise on the Six Days' Work, which had been left unfinished. He also pronounced at Constantinople the funeral oration of Meletius, bishop of Antioch; and many other orations of his are still extant.
But since from the likeness of the name, and the title of the books attributed to Gregory, persons are liable to confound very different parties, it is important to notice that Gregory of Pontus is a different person. He was a native of Neocæsarea in Pontus, of greater antiquity than the one above referred to, inasmuch as he was a disciple of Origen. This Gregory's fame was celebrated at Athens, at Berytus, throughout the entire diocese of Pontus, and I might almost add in the whole world. When he had finished his education in the schools of Athens, he went to Berytus to study civil law, where hearing that Origen expounded the Holy Scriptures at Cæsarea, he quickly proceeded there; and after his understanding had been opened to perceive the grandeur of these Divine books, bidding adieu to all further cultivation of the Roman laws, he became thenceforth inseparable from Origen, from whom having acquired a knowledge of the true philosophy, he was recalled soon after by his parents and returned to his own country; and there, while still a layman, he performed many miracles, healing the sick, and casting out devils even by his letters, insomuch that the pagans were no less attracted to the faith by his acts, than by his discourses. Pamphilus Martyr mentions this person in the books which he wrote in defense of Origen; to which there is added a commendatory oration of Gregory's, composed in praise of Origen, when he was under the necessity of leaving him. There were then, to be brief, several Gregories: the first and most ancient was the disciple of Origen; the second was the bishop of Nazianzus; the third was Basil's brother; and there was another Gregory whom the Arians constituted bishop during the exile of Athanasius. But enough has been said respecting them.
About this time the Novatians inhabiting Phrygia changed the day for celebrating the Feast of Easter. How this happened I shall state, after first explaining the reason of the strict discipline which is maintained in their church, even to the present day, in the provinces of Phrygia and Paphlagonia. Novatus, a presbyter of the Roman Church, separated from it, because Cornelius the bishop received into communion believers who had sacrificed during the persecution which the Emperor Decius had raised against the Church. Having seceded on this account, on being afterwards elevated to the episcopacy by such bishops as entertained similar sentiments, he wrote to all the churches that 'they should not admit to the sacred mysteries those who had sacrificed; but exhorting them to repentance, leave the pardoning of their offense to God, who has the power to forgive all sin.' Receiving such letters, the parties in the various provinces, to whom they were addressed, acted according to their several dispositions and judgments. As he asked that they should not receive to the sacraments those who after baptism had committed any deadly sin 1 John 5:16-17 this appeared to some a cruel and merciless course: but others received the rule as just and conducive to the maintenance of discipline, and the promotion of greater devotedness of life. In the midst of the agitation of this question, letters arrived from Cornelius the bishop, promising indulgence to delinquents after baptism. Thus as these two persons wrote contrary to one another, and each confirmed his own procedure by the testimony of the Divine word, as it usually happens, every one identified himself with that view which favored his previous habits and inclinations. Those who had pleasure in sin, encouraged by the license then granted them, took occasion from it to revel in every species of criminality. Now the Phrygians appear to be more temperate than other nations, and are seldom guilty of swearing. The Scythians, on the other hand, and the Thracians, are naturally of a very irritable disposition: while the inhabitants of the East are addicted to sensual pleasures. But the Paphlagonians and Phrygians are prone to neither of these vices; nor are the sports of the circus and theatrical exhibitions in much estimation among them even to the present day. And for this reason, it seems to me, these people, as well as others of the same character, so readily assented to the letters then written by Novatus. Fornication and adultery are regarded among them as the grossest enormities: and it is well known that there is no race of men on the face of the earth who more rigidly govern their passions in this respect than the Phrygians and Paphlagonians. The same reason I think had force with those who dwelt in the West and followed Novatus. Yet although for the sake of stricter discipline Novatus became a separatist, he made no change in the time of keeping Easter, but invariably observed the practice that obtained in the Western churches. For they celebrate this feast after the equinox, according to the usage which had of old been delivered to them when first they embraced Christianity. He himself indeed afterwards suffered martyrdom in the reign of Valerian, during the persecution which was then raised against the Christians. But those in Phrygia who are named after him Novatians, about this period changed the day of celebrating Easter, being averse to communion with other Christians even on this occasion. This was effected by means of a few obscure bishops of that sect convening a Synod at the village of Pazum, which is situated near the sources of the river Sangarius; for there they framed a canon appointing its observance on the same day as that on which the Jews annually keep the feast of Unleavened Bread. An aged man, who was the son of a presbyter, and had been present with his father at this Synod, gave us our information on this matter. But both Agelius, bishop of the Novatians at Constantinople, and Maximus of Nicæa, as also the bishops of Nicomedia and Cotyæum, were absent, although the ecclesiastical affairs of the Novatians were for the most part under the control of these bishops. How the church of the Novatians soon after was divided into two parties in consequence of this Synod, shall be related in its proper course: but we must now notice what took place about the same time in the Western parts.
While the emperor Valentinian governed in peace, and interfered with no sect, Damasus after Liberius undertook the administration of the bishopric at Rome; whereupon a great disturbance was caused on the following account. A certain Ursinus, a deacon of that church, had been nominated among others when the election of a bishop took place; as Damasus was preferred, this Ursinus, unable to bear the disappointment of his hopes, held schismatic assemblies apart from the church, and even induced certain bishops of little distinction to ordain him in secret. This ordination was made, not in a church, but in a retired place called the Palace of Sicine, whereupon dissension arose among the people; their disagreement being not about any article of faith or heresy, but simply as to who should be bishop. Hence frequent conflicts arose, insomuch that many lives were sacrificed in this contention; and many of the clergy as well as laity were punished on that account by Maximin, the prefect of the city. Thus was Ursinus obliged to desist from his pretensions at that time, and those who were minded to follow him were reduced to order.
About the same time it happened that another event took place at Milan well worthy of being recorded. On the death of Auxentius, who had been ordained bishop of that church by the Arians, the people again were disturbed respecting the election of a successor; for as some proposed one person, and others favored another, the city was full of contention and uproar. In this state of things the governor of the province, Ambrose by name, who was also of consular dignity, dreading some catastrophe from the popular excitement, ran into the church in order to quell the disturbance. As he arrived there and the people became quiet, he repressed the irrational fury of the multitude by a long and appropriate address, by urging such motives as they felt to be right, and all present suddenly came to an unanimous agreement, crying out 'that Ambrose was worthy of the bishopric,' and demanding his ordination: 'for by that means only,' it was alleged, 'would the peace of the church be secured, and all be reunited in the same faith and judgment.' And inasmuch as such unanimity among the people appeared to the bishops then present to proceed from some Divine appointment, immediately they laid hands on Ambrose; and having baptized him — for he was then but a catechumen — they were about to invest him with the episcopal office. But although Ambrose willingly received baptism, he with great earnestness refused to be ordained: upon which the bishops referred the matter to the Emperor Valentinian. This prince regarding the universal consent of the people as the work of God, sent word to the bishops to do the will of God by ordaining him; declaring that 'his choice was by the voice of God rather than by the votes of men.' Ambrose was therefore ordained; and thus the inhabitants of Milan who were divided among themselves, were once more restored to unity.
The Sarmatæ after this having made incursions into the Roman territories, the emperor marched against them with a numerous army but when the barbarians understood the formidable nature of this expedition, they sent an embassy to him to sue for peace on certain conditions. As the ambassadors were introduced to the emperor's presence, and appeared to him to be not very dignified fellows, he enquired whether all the Sarmatæ were such as these? As they replied that the noblest personages of their whole nation had come to him, Valentinian became excessively enraged, and exclaimed with great vehemence, that 'the Roman empire was indeed most wretched in devolving upon him at a time when a nation of such despicable barbarians, not content with being permitted to exist in safety within their own limits, dared to take up arms, invade the Roman territories, and break forth into open war.' The violence of his manner and utterance of these words was so great, that all his veins were opened by the effort, and all the arteries ruptured; and from the quantity of blood which thereupon gushed forth he died. This occurred at Bergition Castle, after Gratian's third consulate in conjunction with Equitius, on the seventeenth day of November, Valentinian having lived fifty-four years and reigned thirteen. Upon the decease of Valentinian, six days after his death the army in Italy proclaimed his son Valentinian, then a young child, emperor, at Acincum, a city of Italy. When this was announced to the other two emperors, they were displeased, not because the brother of the one and the nephew of the other had been declared emperor, but because the military presumed to proclaim him without consulting them, whom they themselves wished to have proclaimed. They both, however, ratified the transaction, and thus was Valentinian the younger seated on his father's throne. Now this Valentinian was born of Justina, whom Valentinian the elder married while Severa his former wife was alive, under the following circumstances. Justus the father of Justina, who had been governor of Picenum under the reign of Constantius, had a dream in which he seemed to himself to bring forth the imperial purple out of his right side. When this dream had been told to many persons, it at length came to the knowledge of Constantius, who conjecturing it to be a presage that a descendant of Justus would become emperor, caused him to be assassinated. Justina being thus bereft of her father, still continued a virgin. Some time after she became known to Severa, wife of the emperor Valentinian, and had frequent intercourse with the empress, until their intimacy at length grew to such an extent that they were accustomed to bathe together. When Severa saw Justina in the bath she was greatly struck with the beauty of the virgin, and spoke of her to the emperor; saying that the daughter of Justus was so lovely a creature, and possessed of such symmetry of form, that she herself, though a woman, was altogether charmed with her. The emperor, treasuring this description by his wife in his own mind, considered with himself how he could espouse Justina, without repudiating Severa, as she had borne him Gratian, whom he had created Augustus a little while before. He accordingly framed a law, and caused it to be published throughout all the cities, by which any man was permitted to have two lawful wives. The law was promulgated and he married Justina, by whom he had Valentinian the younger, and three daughters, Justa, Grata, and Galla; the two former of these remained virgins: but Calla was afterwards married to the emperor Theodosius the Great, who had by her a daughter named Placidia. For that prince had Arcadius and Honorius by Flaccilla his former wife: we shall however enter into particulars respecting Theodosius and his sons in the proper place.
In the meanwhile Valens, making his residence at Antioch, was wholly undisturbed by foreign wars; for the barbarians on every side restrained themselves within their own boundaries. Nevertheless, he himself waged a most cruel war against those who maintained the 'homoousian' doctrine, inflicting on them more grievous punishments every day; until the philosopher Themistius by his Appealing Oration somewhat moderated his severity. In this speech he tells the emperor, 'That he ought not to be surprised at the difference of judgment on religious questions existing among Christians; inasmuch as that discrepancy was trifling when compared with the multitude of conflicting opinions current among the heathen; for these amount to above three hundred; that dissension indeed was an inevitable consequence of this disagreement; but that God would be the more glorified by a diversity of sentiment, and the greatness of his majesty be more venerated, from the fact of its not being easy to have a knowledge of Him.' The philosopher having said these and similar things, the emperor became milder, but did not completely give up his wrath; for although he ceased to put ecclesiastics to death, he continued to send them into exile, until this fury of his also was repressed by the following event.
The barbarians, dwelling beyond the Danube, called the Goths, having engaged in a civil war among themselves, were divided into two parties, one of which was headed by Fritigernes, the other by Athanaric. When the latter had obtained an evident advantage over his rival, Fritigernes had recourse to the Romans, and implored their assistance against his adversary. This was reported to the Emperor Valens, and he ordered the troops which were garrisoned in Thrace to assist those barbarians who had appealed to him against their more powerful countrymen; and by means of this subsidy they won a complete victory over Athanaric beyond the Danube, totally routing the enemy. This became the occasion for the conversion of many of the barbarians to the Christian religion: for Fritigernes, to express his sense of the obligation the emperor had conferred upon him, embraced the religion of his benefactor, and urged those who were under his authority to do the same. Therefore it is that so many of the Goths are even to the present time infected with the errors of Arianism, they having on the occasion preferred to become adherents to that heresy on the emperor's account. Ulfilas, their bishop at that time, invented the Gothic letters, and translating the Sacred Scriptures into their own language, undertook to instruct these barbarians in the Divine oracles. And as Ulfilas did not restrict his labors to the subjects of Fritigernes, but extended them to those who acknowledged the sway of Athanaric also, Athanaric regarding this as a violation of the privileges of the religion of his ancestors, subjected those who professed Christianity to severe punishments; so that many of the Arian Goths of that period became martyrs. Arius indeed, failing in his attempt to refute the opinion of Sabellius the Libyan, fell from the true faith, and asserted the Son of God to be 'a new God?': Deuteronomy 32:7 but the barbarians embracing Christianity with greater simplicity of mind despised the present life for the faith of Christ. With these remarks we shall close our notice of the Christianized Goths.
Not long after the barbarians had entered into a friendly alliance with one another, they were again vanquished by other barbarians, their neighbors, called the Huns; and being driven out of their own country, they fled into the territory of the Romans, offering to be subject to the emperor, and to execute whatever he should command them. When Valens was made acquainted with this, not having the least presentiment of the consequences, he ordered that the suppliants should be received with kindness; in this one instance alone showing himself compassionate. He therefore assigned them certain parts of Thrace for their habitation, deeming himself peculiarly fortunate in this matter: for he calculated that in future he should possess a ready and well-equipped army against all assailants; and hoped that the barbarians would be a more formidable guard to the frontiers of the empire even than the Romans themselves. For this reason he in the future neglected to recruit his army by Roman levies; and despising those veterans who had bravely straggled and subdued his enemies in former wars, he put a pecuniary value on the militia which the inhabitants of the provinces, village by village, had been accustomed to furnish, ordering the collectors of his tribute to demand eighty pieces of gold for every soldier, although he had never before lightened the public burdens. This change was the origin of many disasters to the Roman empire subsequently.
The barbarians having been put into possession of Thrace, and securely enjoying that Roman province, were unable to bear their good fortune with moderation; but committing hostile aggressions upon their benefactors, devastated all Thrace and the adjacent countries. When these proceedings came to the knowledge of Valens, he desisted from sending the adherents of the homoousion into banishment; and in great alarm left Antioch, and came to Constantinople, where also the persecution of the orthodox Christians was for the same reason come to an end. At the same time Euzoïus, bishop of the Arians at Antioch, departed this life, in the fifth consulate of Valens, and the first of Valentinian the younger; and Dorotheus was appointed in his place.
No sooner had the emperor departed from Antioch, than the Saracens, who had before been in alliance with the Romans, revolted from them, being led by Mavia their queen, whose husband was then dead. All the regions of the East therefore were at that time ravaged by the Saracens: but a certain divine Providence repressed their fury in the manner I am about to describe. A person named Moses, a Saracen by birth, who led a monastic life in the desert, became exceedingly eminent for his piety, faith, and miracles. Mavia the queen of the Saracens was therefore desirous that this person should be constituted bishop over her nation, and promised on the condition to terminate the war. The Roman generals considering that a peace founded on such terms would be extremely advantageous, gave immediate directions for its ratification. Moses was accordingly seized, and brought from the desert to Alexandria, in order that he might there be invested with the bishopric: but on his presentation for that purpose to Lucius, who at that time presided over the churches in that city, he refused to be ordained by him, protesting against it in these words: 'I account myself indeed unworthy of the sacred office; but if the exigencies of the state require my bearing it, it shall not be by Lucius laying his hand on me, for it has been filled with blood.' When Lucius told him that it was his duty to learn from him the principles of religion, and not to utter reproachful language, Moses replied, 'Matters of faith are not now in question: but your infamous practices against the brethren sufficiently prove that your doctrines are not Christian. For a Christian is
no striker, reviles not, does not fight; for
it becomes not a servant of the Lord to fight. 2 Timothy 2:24 But your deeds cry out against you by those who have been sent into exile, who have been exposed to the wild beasts, and who had been delivered up to the flames. Those things which our own eyes have beheld are far more convincing than what we receive from the report of another.' As Moses expressed these and other similar sentiments his friends took him to the mountains, that he might receive ordination from those bishops who lived in exile there. Moses having thus been consecrated, the Saracen war was terminated; and so scrupulously did Mavia observe the peace thus entered into with the Romans that she gave her daughter in marriage to Victor the commander-in-chief of the Roman army. Such were the transactions in relation to the Saracens.
About the same time, as soon as the Emperor Valens left Antioch, all those who had anywhere been suffering persecution began again to take courage, and especially those of Alexandria. Peter returned to that city from Rome, with letters from Damasus the Roman bishop, in which he confirmed the 'homoousian' faith, and sanctioned Peter's ordination. The people therefore resuming confidence, expelled Lucius, who immediately embarked for Constantinople: but Peter survived his re-establishment a very short time, and at his death appointed his brother Timothy to succeed him.
The Emperor Valens arrived at Constantinople on the 30th of May, in the sixth year of his own consulate, and the second of Valentinian the Younger, and found the people in a very dejected state of mind: for the barbarians, who had already desolated Thrace, were now laying waste the very suburbs of Constantinople, there being no adequate force at hand to resist them. But when they undertook to make near approaches, even to the walls of the city, the people became exceedingly troubled, and began to murmur against the emperor; accusing him of having brought on the enemy there, and then indolently prolonging the struggle there, instead of at once marching out against the barbarians. Moreover at the exhibition of the sports of the Hippodrome, all with one voice clamored against the emperor's negligence of the public affairs, crying out with great earnestness, 'Give us arms, and we ourselves will fight.' The emperor provoked at these seditious clamors, marched out of the city, on the 11th of June; threatening that if he returned, he would punish the citizens not only for their insolent reproaches, but for having previously favored the pretensions of the usurper Procopius; declaring also that he would utterly demolish their city, and cause the plough to pass over its ruins, he advanced against the barbarians, whom he routed with great slaughter, and pursued as far as Adrianople, a city of Thrace, situated on the frontiers of Macedonia. Having at that place again engaged the enemy, who had by this time rallied, he lost his life on the 9th of August, under the consulate just mentioned, and in the fourth year of the 289th Olympiad. Some have asserted that he was burnt to death in a village whither he had retired, which the barbarians assaulted and set on fire. But others affirm that having put off his imperial robe he ran into the midst of the main body of infantry; and that when the cavalry revolted and refused to engage, the infantry were surrounded by the barbarians, and completely destroyed in a body. Among these it is said the emperor fell, but could not be distinguished, in consequence of his not having on his imperial habit. He died in the fiftieth year of his age, having reigned in conjunction with his brother thirteen years, and three years after the death of the brother. This book therefore contains [the course of events during] the space of sixteen years.
Source. Translated by A.C. Zenos. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 2. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1890.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/26014.htm>.
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