Defence against the arians

By Athanasius
Chapter I


I. I supposed that, after so many proofs of my innocence had been given,
my enemies would have shrunk from further enquiry, and would now have
condemned themselves for their false accusations of others. But as they are
not yet abashed, though they have been so clearly convicted, but, as
insensible to shame, persist in their slanderous reports against me,
professing to think that the whole matter ought to be tried over again (not
that they may have judgment passed on them, for that they avoid, but in order
to harass me, and to disturb the minds of the simple); I therefore thought it
necessary to make my defence unto you, that you may listen to their murmurings
no longer, but may denounce their wickedness and base calumnies. And it is
only to you, who are men of sincere minds, that I offer a defence: as for the
contentious, I appeal confidently to the decisive proofs Which I have against
them. For my cause needs no further judgment; for judgment has already been
given, and not once or twice only, but many times. First of all, it was tried
in my own country in an assembly of nearly one hundred of its Bishops[10]; a
second time at Rome, when, in consequence of letters from Eusebius, both they
and we were summoned, and more than fifty Bishops met[11]; and a third time in
the great Council assembled at Sardica by order of the most religious Emperors
Constantius and Constans, when my enemies were degraded as false accusers, and
the sentence that was passed in my favour received the suffrages of more than
three hundred Bishops, out of the provinces of Egypt, Libya, and Pentapolis,
Palestine, Arabia, Isauria, Cyprus, Pamphylia, Lycia, Galatia, Dacia, Moesia,
Thrace, Dardania, Macedonia, Epirus, Thessaly, Achaia, Crete, Dalmatia,
Siscia, Pannonia, Noricum, Italy, Picenum, Tuscany, Campania, Calabria,
Apulia, Bruttia, Sicily, the whole of Africa, Sardinia, Spain, Gaul, and

Added to these was the testimony[1] of Ursacius and Valens, who had
formerly calumniated me, but afterwards changed their minds, and not only gave
their assent to the sentence that was passed in my favour, but also confessed
that they themselves and the rest of my enemies were false accusers; for men
who make such a change and such a recantation of course reflect upon Eusebius
and his fellows, for with them they had contrived the plot against me. Now
after a matter has been examined and decided on such clear evidence by so many
eminent Bishops, every one will confess that further discussion is
unnecessary; else, if an investigation be instituted at this time, it may be
again discussed and again investigated, and there will be no end to such

2. Now the decision of so many Bishops was sufficient to confound those
who would still fain pretend some charge against me. But when my enemies also
bear testimony in my favour and against themselves, declaring that the
proceedings against me were a conspiracy, who is there that would not be
ashamed to doubt any longer? The law requires that in the mouth of two or
three witnesses[2] judgments shall be settled, and we have here this great
multitude of witnesses in my favour, with the addition of the proofs afforded
by my enemies; so much so that those who still continue opposed to me no
longer attach any importance to their own arbitrary[3] judgment, but now have
recourse to violence, and in the place of fair reasoning seek to injure[4]
those by whom they were
exposed. For this is the chief cause of vexation to them, that the measures
they carried on in secret, contrived by themselves in a corner, have been
brought to light and disclosed by Valens and Ursacius; for they are well aware
that their recantation while it clears those whom they have injured, condemns

Indeed this led to their degradation in the Council of Sardica, as
mentioned before; and with good reason; for, as the Pharisees of old, when
they undertook the defence of Paul[5], fully exposed the conspiracy which they
and the Jews bad formed against him; and as the blessed David was proved to be
persecuted unjustly when the persecutor confessed, 'I have sinned, my son
David[6];' so it was with these men; being overcome by the truth they made a
request, and delivered it in writing to Julius, Bishop of Rome. They wrote
also to me requesting to be on terms of peace with me, though they have spread
such reports concerning me; and probably even now they are covered with shame,
on seeing that those whom they sought to destroy by the grace of the Lord are
still alive. Consistently also with this conduct they anathematized Arius and
his heresy; for knowing that Eusebius and his fellows had conspired against me
in behalf of their own misbelief, and of nothing else, as soon as they had
determined to confess their calumnies against me, they immediately renounced
also that antichristian heresy for the sake of which they had falsely asserted

The following are the letters written in my favour by the Bishops in the
several Councils and first the letter of the Egyptian Bishops.

Encyclical Letter of the Council of Egypt.

The holy Council assembled at Alexandria out of Egypt, the Thebais, Libya, and
Pentapolis, to the Bishops of the Catholic Church everywhere, brethren beloved
and greatly longed for in the Lord, greeting.

3. Dearly beloved brethren, we might have put forth a defence of our
brother Athanasius as respects the conspiracy of Eusebius and his fellows
against him, and complained of his sufferings at their hands, and have exposed
all their false charges, either at the beginning of their conspiracy or upon
his arrival at Alexandria. But circumstances did not permit it then, as you
also know; and lately, after the return of the Bishop Athanasius, we thought
that they would be confounded and covered with shame at their manifest
injustice: in consequence we prevailed with ourselves to remain silent. Since,
however, after all his severe sufferings, after his retirement into Gaul,
after his sojourn in a foreign and far distant country in the place of his
own, after his narrow escape from death through their calumnies, but thanks to
the clemency of the Emperor,--distress which would have satisfied even the
most cruel enemy,--they are still insensible to shame, are again acting
insolently against the Church and Athanasius; and from indignation at his
deliverance venture on still more atrocious schemes against him, and are ready
with an accusation, fearless of the words in holy Scripture[7], 'A false
witness shall not be unpunished;' and, 'The mouth that belieth slayeth the
soul;' we therefore are unable longer to hold our peace, being amazed at their
wickedness and at the insatiable love of contention displayed in their

For see, they cease not to disturb the ear of royalty with fresh reports
against us; they cease not to write letters of deadly import, for the
destruction of the Bishop who is the enemy of their impiety. For again have
they written to the Emperors against him; again they wish to conspire against
him, charging him with a butchery which has never taken place; again they wish
to shed his blood, accusing him of a murder that never was committed (for at
that former time would they have murdered him by their calumnies, had we not
had a kind Emperor); again they are urgent, to say the least, that he should
be sent into banishment, while they pretend to lament the miseries of those
alleged to have been exiled by him. They lament before us things that have
never been done, and, not satisfied with what has been done to him, desire to
add thereto other and more cruel treatment. So mild are they and merciful, and
of so just a disposition; or rather (for the truth shall be spoken) so wicked
are they and malicious; obtaining respect through fear and by threats, rather
than by their piety and justice, as becomes Bishops. They have dared in their
letters to the Emperors to pour forth language such as no contentious person
would employ even among those that are without; they have charged him with a
number of murders and butcheries, and that not before a Governor, or any other
superior officer, but before the three Augusti; nor shrink they from any
journey however long, provided only all greater courts may be filled with
their accusations. For indeed, dearly beloved, their business consists in
accusations, and that of the most solemn character, forasmuch as the


tribunals to which they make their appeal are the most solemn of any upon
earth. And what other end do they propose by these investigations, except to
move the Emperor to capital punishment?

4. Their own conduct therefore, and not that of Athanasius, is the fittest
subject for lamentation and mourning, and one would more properly lament them,
for such actions ought to be bewailed, since it is written, 'Weep ye not for
the dead, neither bemoan him: but weep sore for him that goeth away, for he
shall return no more[8].' For their whole letter contemplates nothing but
death; and their endeavour is to kill, whenever they may be permitted, or if
not, to drive into exile. And this they were permitted to do by the most
religious father of the Emperors, who gratified their fury by the banishment
of Athanasius[9], instead of his death. Now that this is not the conduct even
of ordinary Christians, scarcely even of heathens, much less of Bishops, who
profess to teach others righteousness, we suppose that your Christian
consciences must at once perceive. How can they forbid others to accuse their
brethren, who themselves become their accusers, and that to the Emperors? How
can they teach compassion for the misfortunes of others, who cannot rest
satisfied even with our banishment? For there was confessedly a general
sentence of banishment against us Bishops, and we all looked upon ourselves as
banished men: and now again we consider ourselves as restored with Athanasius
to our native places, and instead of our former lamentations and mourning over
him, as having the greatest encouragement and grace,-which may the Lord
continue to us, nor suffer Eusebius and his fellows to destroy?

Even if their charges against him were true, here is a certain charge
against them, that against the precept of Christianity, and after his
banishment and trials, they have assaulted him again, and accuse him of
murder, and butchery, and other crimes, which they sound in the royal ears
against the Bishops. But how manifold is their wickedness, and what manner of
men think you them, when every word they speak is false, every charge they
bring a calumny, and there is no truth whatever either in their mouths or
their writings! Let us then at length enter upon these matters, and meet their
last charges. This will prove, that in their former representations in the
Council[1] and at the trial their conduct was dishonourable, or rather their
words untrue, besides exposing them for what they have now advanced.

5. We are indeed ashamed to make any defence against such charges. But
since our reckless accusers lay hold of any charge, and allege that murders
and butchcries were committed after the return of Athanasius, we beseech you
to bear with our answer though it be somewhat long; for circumstances
constrain as. No murder has been committed either by Athanasius or on his
account, since our accusers, as we said before, compel us to enter upon this
humiliating defence. Slaughter and imprisonment are foreign to our Church. No
one did Athanasius commit into the hands of the executioner; and the prison,
so far as he was concerned, was never disturbed. Our sanctuaries are now, as
they have always been, pure, and honoured only with the Blood of Christ and
His pious worship. Neither Presbyter nor Deacon was destroyed by Athanasius;
he perpetrated no murder, he caused the banishment of no one. Would that they
had never caused the like to him, nor given him actual experience of it ! No
one here has been banished on his account; no one at all except Athanasius
himself, the Bishop of Alexandria, whom they banished, and whom, now that he
is restored, they again seek to entangle in the same or even a more cruel plot
than before, setting their tongues to speak all manner of false and deadly
words against him.

For, behold, they now attribute to him the acts of the magistrates; and
although they plainly confess in their letter that the Prefect of Egypt passed
sentence upon certain persons, they now are not ashamed to impute this
sentence to Athanasius; and that, though he had not at the time entered
Alexandria, but was yet on his return from his place of exile. Indeed he was
then in Syria; since we must needs adduce in defence his length of way from
home, that a man may not be responsible for the actions of a Governor or
Prefect of Egypt. But supposing Athanasius had been in Alexandria, what were
the proceedings of the Prefect to Athanasius? However, he was not even in the
country; and what the Prefect of Egypt did was not done on ecclesiastical
grounds, but for reasons which you will learn from the records, which, after
we understood what they had written, we made diligent enquiry for, and have
transmitted to you. Since then they now raise a cry against certain things
which were never done either by him or for him, as though they had certainly
taken place, and testify against such evils as though they were assured of
their existence; let them


inform us from what Council they obtained their knowledge of them, from what
proofs, and from what judicial investigation? But if they have no such
evidence to bring forward, and nothing but their own mere assertion, we leave
it to you to consider as regards their former charges also, how the things
took place, and why they so speak of them. In truth, it is nothing but
calumny, and a plot of our enemies, and a temper of ungovernable mood, and an
impiety in behalf of the Arian madmen which is frantic against true godliness,
and desires to root out the orthodox, so that henceforth the advocates of
impiety may preach without fear whatever doctrines they please. The history of
the matter is as follows :--

6. When Arius, from whom the heresy of the Arian madmen has its name, was
cast out of the Church for his impiety by Bishop Alexander, of blessed memory,
Eusebius and his fellows, who are the disciples and partners of his impiety,
considering themselves also to have been ejected, wrote frequently to Bishop
Alexander, beseeching him not to leave the heretic Arius out of the Church[2].
But when Alexander in his piety towards Christ refused to admit that impious
man, they directed their resentment against Athanasius, who was then a Deacon,
because in their busy enquiries they had heard that he was much in the
familiarity of Bishop Alexander, and much honoured by him. And their hatred of
him was greatly increased after they had experience of his piety towards
Christ, in the Council assembled at Nicaea[3], wherein he spoke boldly against
the impiety of the Arian madmen. But when God raised him to the Episcopate,
their long-cherished malice burst forth into a flame, and fearing his
orthodoxy and resistance of their impiety, they (and especially Eusebius[4],
who was smitten with a consciousness of his own evil doings), engaged in all
manner of treacherous designs against him. They prejudiced the Emperor against
him; they frequently threatened him with Councils; and at last assembled at
Tyre; and to this day they cease not to write against him, and are so
implacable that they even find fault with his appointment to the
Episcopate[5], taking every means of shewing their enmity and hatred towards
him, and spreading false reports for the sole purpose of thereby vilifying his

However, the very misrepresentations which they now are making do but
convict their former statements of being falsehoods, and a mere conspiracy
against him. For they say, that 'after the death of Bishop Alexander, a
certain few having mentioned the name of Athanasius, six or seven Bishops
elected him clandestinely in a secret place:' and this is what they wrote to
the Emperors, having no scruple about asserting the greatest falsehoods. Now
that the whole multitude and all the people of the Catholic Church assembled
together as with one mind and body, and cried, shouted, that Athanasius should
be Bishop of their Church, made this the subject of their public prayers to
Christ, and conjured us to grant it for many days and nights, neither
departing themselves from the Church, nor suffering us to do so; of all this
we are witnesses, and so is the whole city, and the province too. Not a word
did they speak against him, as these persons represented, but gave him the
most excellent titles they could devise, calling him good, pious, Christian,
an ascetic[5], a genuine Bishop. And that he was elected by a majority of our
body in the sight and with the acclamations of all the people, we who elected
him also testify, who are surely more credible witnesses than those who were
not present, and now spread these false accounts.

But yet Eusebius finds fault with the appointment of Athanasius,--he who
perhaps never received any appointment to his office at all; or if he did, has
himself rendered it invalid[6]. For he had first the See of Berytus, but
leaving that he came to Nicomedia. He left the one contrary to the law, and
contrary to the law invaded the other; having deserted his own without
affection, and holding possession of another's without reason; he


lost his love for the first in his lust for another, without even keeping to
that which he obtained at the prompting of his lust. For, behold, withdrawing
himself from the second, again he takes possession of another's[6a], casting
an evil eye all around him upon the cities of other men, and thinking that
godliness[7] consists in wealth and in the greatness of cities, and making
light of the heritage of God to which he had been appointed; not knowing that
'where' even 'two or three are gathered in the name of the' Lord, 'there' is
the Lord 'in the midst of them;' not considering the words of the Apostle, 'I
will not boast in another man's labours;' not perceiving the charge which he
has given, 'Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed.' For if this
expression applies to a wife, how much more does it apply to a Church, and to
the same Episcopate; to which whosoever is bound ought not to seek another,
lest he prove an adulterer according to holy Scripture.

7. But though conscious of these his own misdoings, he has boldly
undertaken to arraign the appointment of Athanasius, to which honourable
testimony has been borne by all, and he ventures to reproach him with his
deposition, though he has been deposed himself, and has a standing proof of
his deposition in the appointment of another in his room. How could either he
or Theognius[8] depose another, after they had been deposed themselves, which
is sufficiently proved by the appointment of others in their room? For you
know very well that there were appointed instead of them Amphion to Nicomedia
and Chrestus to Nicaea, in consequence of their own impiety and connection
with the Arian madmen, who were rejected by the Ecumenic Council But while
they desire to set aside that true Council, they endeavour to give that name
to their own unlawful combination[9]; while they are unwilling that the
decrees of the Council should be enforced, they desire to enforce their own
decisions; and they use the name of a Council, while they refuse to submit
themselves to one so great as this. Thus they care not for Councils, but only
pretend to do so in order that they may root out the orthodox, and annul the
decrees of the true and great Council against the Arians, in support of whom,
both now and heretofore, they have ventured to assert these falsehoods against
the Bishop Athanasius. For their former statements resembled those they now
falsely make, viz., that disorderly meetings were held at his entrance[10],
with lamentation and mourning, the people indignantly refusing to receive him.
Now such was not the case, but, quite the contrary, joy and cheerfulness
prevailed, and the people ran together, hastening to obtain the desired sight
of him. The churches were full of rejoicings, and thanksgivings were offered
up to the Lord everywhere; and all the Ministers and Clergy beheld him with
such feelings, that their souls were possessed with delight, and they esteemed
that the happiest day of their lives. Why need we mention the inexpressible
joy that prevailed among us Bishops, for we have already said that we counted
ourselves to have been partakers in his sufferings?

8. Now this being confessedly the truth of the matter, although it is very
differently represented by them, what weight can be attached to that Council
or trial of which they make their boast? Since they presume thus to interfere
in a case which they did not witness, which they have not examined, and for
which they did not meet, and to write as though they were assured of the truth
of their statements, how can they claim credit respecting these matters for
the consideration of which they say that they did meet together? Will it not
rather be believed that they have acted both in the one case and in the other
out of enmity to us? For what kind of a Council of Bishops was then held? Was
it an assembly which aimed at the truth? Was not almost every one among them
our enemy[1]? Did not the attack of Eusebius and his fellows upon us proceed
from their zeal for the Arian madness? Did they not urge on the others of
their party? Have we not always written against them as professing the
doctrines of Arius? Was not Eusebius of Caesarea in Palestine accused by our
confessors of sacrificing to idols[2]? Was not George proved to have been
deposed by the blessed Alexander[3]? Were not they charged with various
offences, some with this, some with that?

How then could such men entertain the purpose of holding a meeting against


How can they have the boldness to call that a Council, at which a Count
presided, which an executioner attended, and where an usher[4] instead of the
Deacons of the Church introduced us into Court; and where the Count only
spoke, and all present held their peace, or rather obeyed his directions?
The removal of those Bishops who seemed to deserve it was prevented at his
desire; and when he gave the order we were dragged about by soldiers;--or
rather Eusebius and his fellows gave the order, and he was subservient to
their will. In short, dearly beloved, what kind of Council was that, the
object of which was banishment and murder at the pleasure of the Emperor? And
of what nature were their charges?--for here is matter of still greater
astonishment. There was one Arsenius whom they declared to have been murdered;
and they also complained that a chalice belonging to the sacred mysteries had
been broken.

Now Arsenius is alive, and prays to be admitted to our communion. He waits
for no other testimony to prove that he is still living, but himself confesses
it, writing in his own person to our brother Athanasius, whom they positively
asserted to be his murderer. The impious wretches were not ashamed to accuse
him of having murdered a man who was at a great distance from him, being
separated by so great a distance, whether by sea or land, and whose abode at
that time no one knew. Nay, they even had the boldness to remove him out of
sight, and place him in concealment, though he had suffered no injury; and, if
it had been possible, they would have transported him to another world, nay,
or have taken him from life in earnest, so that either by a true or false
statement of his murder they might in good earnest destroy Athanasius. But
thanks to divine Providence for this also which permitted them not to succeed
in their injustice, but presented Arsenius[6] alive to the eyes of all men,
who has clearly proved their conspiracy and calumnies. He does not withdraw
from us as murderers, nor hate us as having injured him (for indeed he has
suffered no evil at all); but he desires to hold communion with us; he wishes
to be numbered t among us, and has written to this effect.

9. Nevertheless they laid their plot against Athanasius, accusing him of
having murdered a person who was still alive; and those same men are the
authors of his banishment[7]. For it was not the father of the Emperors, but
their calumnies, that sent him into exile. Consider whether this is not the
truth. When nothing was discovered to the prejudice of our fellow-minister
Athanasius, but still the Count threatened him with violence, and was very
zealous against him, the Bishop[8] fled from this violence and went up[9] to
the most religious Emperor, where he protested against the Count and their
conspiracy against him, and requested either that a lawful Council of Bishops
might be assembled, or that the Emperor would himself receive his defence
concerning the charges they brought against him. Upon this the Emperor wrote
in anger, summoning them before him, and declaring that he would hear the
cause himself, and for that purpose he also ordered a Council to be held.
Whereupon Eusebius and his fellows went up and falsely charged Athanasius, not
with the same offences which they had published against him at Tyre, but with
an intention of detaining the vessels laden with corn, as though Athanasius
had been the man to pretend that he could stop the exports of corn from
Alexandria to Constantinople[10].

Certain of our friends were present at the palace with Athanasius, and
heard the threats of the Emperor upon receiving this report And when
Athanasius cried out upon the calumny, and positively declared that it was not
true, (for how, he argued, should he a poor man, and in a private station, be
able to do such a thing?) Eusebius did not hesitate publicly to repeat the
charge, and swore that Athanasius was a rich man, and powerful, and able to do
anything; in order that it might thence be supposed that he had used this
language. Such was the accusation these venerable Bishops proffered against
him. But the grace of God proved superior to their wickedness, for it moved
the pious Emperor to mercy, who instead of death passed upon him the sentence
of banishment. Thus their calumnies, and nothing else, were the cause of this.
For the Emperor, in the letter which he previously wrote, complained of their
conspiracy, censured their machinations, and condemned the Meletians as
unscrupulous and deserving of execration; in short, expressed himself in the
severest terms concerning them. For he was greatly moved when he heard the
story of the dead alive; he was moved at hearing of


murder in the case of one alive, and not deprived of life. We have sent you
the letter.

10. But these marvellous men, Eusebius and his fellows, to make a show of
refuting the truth of the case, and the statements contained in this letter,
put forward the name of a Council, and ground its proceedings upon the
authority of the Emperor. Hence the attendance of a Count at their meeting,
and the soldiers as guards of the Bishops, and royal letters compelling the
attendance of any persons whom they required. But observe here the strange
character of their machinations, and the inconsistency of their bold measures,
so that by some means or other they may take Athanasius away from us. For if
as Bishops they claimed for themselves alone the judgment of the case, what
need was there for the attendance of a Count and soldiers? or how was it that
they assembled under the sanction of royal letters? Or if they required the
Emperor's countenance and wished to derive their authority from him why were
they then annulling his judgment? and when he declared in the letter which he
wrote, that the Meletians were calumniators, unscrupulous, and that Athanasius
was most innocent, and made much stir about the pretended murder of the
living, how was it that they determined that the Meletians had spoken the
truth, and that Athanasius was guilty of the offence; and were not ashamed to
make the living dead, living both after the Emperor's judgment, and at the
time when they met together, and who even until this; day is amongst us? So
much concerning the case of Arsenius.

11. And as for the cup belonging to the mysteries, what was it, or where
was it broken by Macarius? for this is the report which they spread up and
down. But as for Athanasius, even his accusers would not have ventured to
blame him, had they not been suborned by them. However, they attribute the
origin of the offence to him; although it ought not to be imputed even to
Macarius who is clear of it. And they are not ashamed to parade the sacred
mysteries before Catechumens, and worse than that, even before heathens[1]:
whereas, they ought to attend to what is written, 'It is good to keep close
the secret of a king[2];' and as the Lord has charged us, 'Give not that which
is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine[3].' We ought
not then to parade the holy mysteries before the uninitiated, lest the heathen
in their ignorance deride them, and the Catechumens being over-curious be
offended. However, what was the cup, and where and before whom was it broken?
It is the Meletians who make the accusation, who are not worthy of the least
credit, for they have been schismatics and enemies of the Church, not of a
recent date, but from the times of the blessed Peter, Bishop and Martyr[4].
They formed a conspiracy against Peter himself; they calumniated his successor
Achillas; they accused Alexander even before the Emperor; and being thus well
versed in these arts, they have now transferred their enmity to Athanasius,
acting altogether in accordance with their former wickedness. For as they
slandered those that have been before him, so now they have slandered him. But
their calumnies and false accusations have never prevailed against him until
now, that they have got Eusebius and his fellows for their assistants and
patrons, on account of the impiety which these have adopted from the Arian
madmen, which has led them to conspire against many Bishops, and among the
rest Athanasius.

Now the place where they say the cup was broken, was not a Church; there
was no Presbyter in occupation of the place; and the day on which they say
that Macarius did the deed, was not the Lord's day. Since then there was no
church there; since there was no one to perform the sacred office; and since
the day did not require the use of its; what was this cup belonging to the
mysteries, and when, or where was it broken? There are many cups, it is plain,
both in private houses, and in the public market; and if a person breaks one
of them, he is not guilty of impiety. But the cup which belongs to the
mysteries, and which if it be broken intentionally, makes the perpetrator of
the deed an impious person, is found only among those who lawfully preside.
This is the only description that can be given of this kind of cup; there is
none other; this you legally give to the people to drink; this you have
received according to the canon of the Church[6]; this belongs only to those
who preside over the Catholic Church. for to you only it appertains to
administer the Blood of Christ, and to none besides. But as he who breaks the
cup belonging to the mysteries is an impious person, much more impious is he
who treats the


Blood of Christ with contumely: and he does so who ' does this[7] ' contrary
to the rule of the Church. (We say this, not as if a cup even of the
schismatics was broken by Macarius, for there was no cup there at all; how
should there be? where there was neither Lord's house nor any the belonging to
the Church, nay, it was not the time of the celebration of the mysteries). Now
such a person is the notorious Ischyras, who was never appointed to his office
by the Church, and when Alexander admitted the Presbyters that had been
ordained by Meletius, he was not even numbered amongst them; and therefore did
not receive ordination even from that quarter.

12. By what means then did Ischyras become a Presbyter? who was it that
ordained him? was it Colluthus? for this is the only supposition that remains.
But it is well known and no one has any doubt about the matter that Colluthus
died a Presbyter, and that every ordination of his was invalid, and that all
that were ordained by him during the schism were reduced to the condition of
laymen, and in that rank appear in the congregation. How then can it be
believed that a private person, occupying a private house had in his
possession a sacred chalice? But the truth is, they gave the name of Presbyter
at the time to a private person, and gratified him with this title to support
him in his iniquitous conduct towards us; and now as the reward of his
accusations they procure for him the erection of a Church[8]. So that this man
had then no Church; but as the reward of his malice and subserviency to them
in accusing us, he receives now what he had not before; nay, perhaps they have
even remunerated his services with the Episcopate, for so he goes about
reporting, and accordingly behaves towards us with great insolence. Thus are
such rewards as these now bestowed by Bishops upon accusers and calumniators
though indeed it is reasonable, in the case of an accomplice, that as they
have made him a partner in their proceedings, so they should also make him
their associate in their own Episcopate. But this is not all; give ear yet
further to their proceedings at that time.

13. Being unable to prevail against the truth, though they bad thus set
themselves in array against it, and Ischyras having proved nothing at Tyre,
but being shewn to be a calumniator, and the calumny ruining their plot, they
defer proceedings for flesh evidence, and profess that they are going to send
to the Mareotis certain of their party to enquire diligently into the matter.
Accordingly they dispatched secretly, with the assistance of the civil power,
persons to whom we openly objected on many accounts, as being of the party of
Arius, and therefore our enemies; namely, Diognius[9], Maris, Theodorus,
Macedonius, and two others, young both in years and mind[9], Ursacius and
Valens from Pannonia; who, after they had undertaken this long journey for the
purpose of sitting in judgment upon their enemy, set out again from Tyre for
Alexandria. They did not shrink from becoming witnesses themselves, although
they were the judges, but openly adopted every means of furthering their
design, and undertook any labour or journey whatsoever in order to bring to a
successful issue the conspiracy which was in progress. They left the Bishop
Athanasius detained in a foreign country while they themselves entered their
enemy's city, as if to have their revel both against his Church and against
his people. And what was more outrageous still, they took with them the
accuser Ischyras, but would not permit Macarius, the accused person, to
accompany them, but left him in custody at Tyre. For 'Macarius the Presbyter
of Alexandria' was made answerable for the charge far and near.

14. They therefore entered Alexandria alone with the accuser, their
partner in lodging, board, and cup; and taking 'with them Philagrius the
Prefect of Egypt they proceeded to the Mareotis, and there carried on the
so-called investigation by themselves, all their own way, with the
forementioned person. Although the Presbyters frequently begged that they
might be present, they would not permit them. The Presbyters both of the city
and of the whole country desired to attend, that they might detect who and
whence the persons were who were suborned by Ischyras. But they forbade the
Ministers to be present, while they carried on the examination concerning
church, cup, table, and the holy things, before the heathen; nay, worse than
that, they summoned heathen witnesses during the enquiry concerning a cup
belonging to the mysteries; and those persons who they affirmed were taken out
of the way by Athanasius by summons of the Receiver-general, and they knew not
where in the world they were, these same individuals they brought forward
before themselves and the Prefect only, and avowedly used their testimony,
whom they affirmed without shame to have been secreted by the Bishop


But here too their only object is to effect his death, and so they again
pretend that persons are dead who are still alive, following the same method
they adopted in the case of Arsenius. For the men are living, and are to be
seen in their own country; but to you who are at a great distance from the
spot they make a great stir about the matter as though they had disappeared,
in order that, as the evidence is so far removed from you, they may falsely
accuse our brother-minister, as though he used violence and the civil power;
whereas they themselves have in all respects acted by means of that power and
the countenance of others. For their proceedings in the Mareotis were parallel
to those at Tyre; and as there a Count attended with military assistance, and
would permit nothing either to be said or done contrary to their pleasure, so
here also the Prefect of Egypt was present with a band of men, frightening all
the members of the Church, and permitting no one to give true testimony. And
what was the strangest thing of all, the persons who came, whether as judges
or witnesses, or, what was more likely, in order to serve their own purposes
and those of Eusebius, lived in the same place with the accuser, even in his
house, and there seemed to carry on the investigation as they pleased.

15. We suppose you are not ignorant what outrages they committed at
Alexandria; for they are reported everywhere. Naked swords[10] were at work
against the holy virgins and brethren scourges were at work against their
persons, esteemed honourable in the sight of God, so that their feet were
lamed by the stripes, whose souls are whole and sound in purity and all good
works[1]. The trades were excited against them; and the heathen multitude was
set to strip them naked, to beat them, wantonly to insult them, and to
threaten them with their altars and sacrifices. And one coarse fellow, as
though license had now been given them by the Prefect in order to gratify the
Bishops, took hold of a virgin by the hand, and dragged her towards an altar
that happened to be near, imitating the practice of compelling to offer
sacrifice in time of persecution. When this was done, the virgins took to
flight, and a shout of laughter was raised by the heathen against the Church;
the Bishops being in the place, and occupying the very house where this was
going on; and from which, in order to obtain favour with them, the virgins
were assaulted with naked swords, and were exposed to all kinds of danger, and
insult, and wanton violence. And this treatment they received on a
fast-day[2], and at the hands of persons who themselves were feasting with the
Bishops indoors.

16. Foreseeing these things, and reflecting that the entrance of enemies
into a place is no ordinary calamity, we protested against this commission.
And Alexander[3], Bishop of Thessalonica, considering the same, wrote to the
people residing there, discovering the conspiracy, and testifying of the plot.
They indeed reckon him to be one of themselves, and account him a partner in
their designs; but they only prove thereby the violence they have exercised
towards him. For even the profligate Ischyras himself was only induced by fear
and violence to proceed in the matter, and was obliged by force to undertake
the accusation. As a proof of this, he wrote himself to our brother
Athanasius[4], confessing that nothing of the kind that was alleged had taken
place there, but that he was suborned to make a false statement. This
declaration be made, though he was never admitted by Athanasius as a
Presbyter, nor received such a title of grace from him, nor was entrusted by
way of recompense with the erection of a Church, nor expected the bribe of a
Bishopric; all of which he obtained from them in return for under, taking the
accusation. Moreover, his whole family held communion with us[5], which they
would not have done had they been injured in the slightest degree.

17. Now to prove that these things are facts and not mere assertions, we
have the testimony[6] of all the Presbyters of the Mareotis[7], who always
accompany the Bishop in his visitations, and who also wrote at the time
against Ischyras. But neither those of them who came to Tyre were allowed to
declare the truth[8], nor could those who remained in the Mareotis obtain
permission to refute the calumnies of Ischyras[9]. The copies also of the
letters of Alexander, and of the Presbyters, and of Ischyras will prove the
same thing. We have sent also the letter of the father of the Emperors, in
which he expresses his indignation that the murder of Arsenius was charged
upon any one while the man was still alive; as also his astonishment at the
variable and in-


consistent character of their accusations with respect to the cup i since at
one time they accused the Presbyter Macarius, at another the Bishop
Athanasius, of having broken it with his hands. He declares also on the one
hand that the Meletians are calumniators, and on the other that Athanasius is
perfectly innocent.

And are not the Meletians calumniators, and above all John[10], who after
coming into the Church, and communicating with us, after condemning himself,
and no longer taking any part in the proceedings respecting the cup, when he
saw Eusebius and his fellows zealously supporting the Arian madmen, though
they had not the daring to co-operate with them openly, but were attempting to
employ others as their masks, undertook a character, as an actor in the
heathen theatres[1]? The subject of the drama was a contest of Arians; the
real design of the piece being their success, but John and his partizans being
put on the stage and playing the parts, in order that under colour of these,
the supporters of the Arians in the garb of judges might drive away the
enemies of their impiety, firmly establish their impious doctrines, and bring
the Arians into the Church. And those who wish to drive out true religion
strive all they can to prevail by irreligion; they who have chosen the part of
that impiety which wars against Christ, endeavour to destroy the enemies
thereof, as though they were impious persons; and they impute to us the
breaking of the cup, for the purpose of making it appear that Athanasins,
equally with themselves, is guilty of impiety towards Christ.

For what means this mention of a cup belonging to the mysteries by them?
Whence comes this religious regard for the cup among those who support impiety
towards Christ? Whence comes it that Christ's cup is known to them who know
not Christ? How can they who profess to honour that cup, dishonour the God of
the cup? or how can they who lament over the cup, seek to murder the Bishop
who celebrates the mysteries therewith? for they would have murdered him, had
it been in their power. And how can they who lament the loss of the throne
that was Episcopally covered[2], seek to destroy the Bishop that sat upon it,
to the end that both the throne may be without its Bishop, and that the people
may be deprived of godly doctrine? It was not then the cup, nor the murder,
nor any of those portentous deeds they talk about, that induced them to act
thus; but the forementioned heresy of the Arians, for the sake of which they
conspired against Athanasius other Bishops, and still continue to wage war
against the Church.

Who are they that have really been the cause of murders and banishments?
Is it not these? Who are they that, availing themselves of external support,
conspire against the Bishops? Are not Eusebius and his fellows the men, and
not Athanasius, as they say in their letters? Both he and others have
suffered at their hands. Even at the time of which we speak, four Presbyters
s of Alexandria, though they had not even proceeded to Tyre, were banished by
their means. Who then are they whose conduct calls for tears and lamentations?
Is it not they, who after they have been guilty of one course of persecution,
do not scruple to add to it a second, but have recourse to all manner of
falsehood, in order that they may destroy a Bishop who will not give way to
their impious heresy? Hence arises the enmity of Eusebius and his fellows;
hence their proceedings at Tyre; hence their pretended trials; hence also now
the letters which they have written even without any trial, expressing the
utmost confidence in their statements; hence their columnies before the father
of the Emperors, and before the most religious Emperors themselves.

18. For it is necessary that you should know what is now reported to the
prejudice of our fellow-minister Athanasius, in order that you may thereby be
led to condemn their wickedness, and may perceive that they desire nothing
else but to murder him. A quantity of corn was given by the father of the
Emperors for the support of certain widows, partly of Libya, and partly
certain out of Egypt. They have all received it up to this time, Athanasius
getting nothing therefrom, but the trouble of assisting them. But now,
although the recipients themselves make no complaint, but acknowledge that
they have received it, Athanasius has been accused of selling all the corn,
and appropriating the profits to his own use: and the Emperor wrote to this
effect about it, charging him with the offence in consequence of the calumnies
which had been raised against him. Now who are they which have raised these
calumnies? Is it not those who after they have been guilty of one course of
persecution, scruple not to set on foot another? Who are the authors of those
letters which are said to have come from the Emperor? Are not the Arians, who
are so zealous against Athanasius, and scruple not to speak and write anything
against him? No one would pass over persons


who have acted as they have done, in order to entertain suspicion of others.
Nay, the proof of their calumny appears to be most evident for they are
anxious under cover of it, to take away the corn from the Church, and to give
it to the Arians. And this circumstance more than any other, brings the matter
home to the authors of this design and their principals, who scrupled neither
to set on foot a charge of murder against Athanasius, as a base means of
prejudicing the Emperor against him, nor yet to take away from the Clergy of
the Church the subsistence of the poor, in order that in fact they might make
gain for the heretics.

19. We have sent also the testimony of our fellow-ministers in Libya,
Pentapolis, and Egypt, from which likewise you may learn the false accusations
which have been brought against Athanasius. And these things they do, in order
that, the professors of true godliness being henceforth induced by fear to
remain quiet, the heresy of the impious Arians may be brought in in its stead.
But thanks be to your piety, dearly beloved, that you have frequently
anathematized the Arians in your letters, and have never given them admittance
into the Church. The exposure of Eusebius and his fellows is also easy and
ready at hand. For behold, after their former letters concerning the Arians,
of which also we have sent you copies, they now openly stir up the Arian
madmen against the Church, though the whole Catholic Church has anathematized
them; they have appointed a Bishop[1] over them; they distract the Churches
with threats and alarms, that they may gain assistants in their impiety in
every part. Moreover, they send Deacons to the Arian madmen, who openly join
their assemblies; they write letters to them, and receive answers from them,
thus making schisms in the Church, and holding communion with them; and they
send to every part, commending their heresy, and repudiating the Church, as
you will perceive from the letters they have addressed to the Bishop of
Rome[2] and perhaps to yourselves also. You perceive therefore, dearly
beloved, that these things are not undeserving of vengeance: they are indeed
dreadful and alien from the doctrine of Christ.

Wherefore we have assembled together, and have written to you, to request
of your Christian wisdom to receive this our declaration and sympathize with
our brother Athanasius, and to shew your indignation against Eusebius and his
fellows who have essayed such things, in order that such malice and
wickedness may no longer prevail against the Church. We call upon you to be
the avengers of such injustice, reminding you of the injunction of the
Apostle, 'Put away from among yourselves that wicked person[3].' Wicked indeed
is their conduct, and unworthy of your communion. Wherefore give no further
heed to them, though they should again write to you against the Bishop
Athanasius (for all that proceeds from them is false); not even though they
subscribe their letter with names[4] of Egyptian Bishops. For it is evident
that it will not be we who write, but the Meletians[5], who have ever been
schismatics, and who even unto this day make disturbances and raise factions
in the Churches. For they ordain improper persons, and all but heathens; and
they are guilty of such actions as we are ashamed to set down in writing, but
which you may learn from those whom we have sent unto you, who will also
deliver to you our letter.

20. Thus wrote the Bishops of Egypt to all Bishops, and to Julius, Bishop
of Rome.