Imperial and Ecclesiastical Acts in consequence of the Decision
of the Council
51. When the most religious Emperor Constantius heard of these
sent for me, having written privately to his brother Constans of blessed
memory, and to me three several times in the following terms. Constantius
Victor Augustus to Athanasius. Our benignant clemency will not suffer you
to be any longer tempest-tossed by the wild waves of the sea; for our
unwearied piety has not lost sight of you, while you have been bereft of your
native home, deprived of your goods, and have been wandering in savage
wildernesses. And although I have for a long time deferred expressing by
letter the purpose of my mind concerning you, principally because I expected
that you would appear before us of your own accord, and would seek a relief of
your sufferings; yet forasmuch as fear, it may be, has prevented you from
fulfilling your intentions, we have therefore addressed to your fortitude
letters full of our bounty, to the end that you may use all speed and without
fear present yourself in our presence, thereby to obtain the enjoyment of your
wishes, and that, having experience of our kindness, you may be
restored again to your own. For this purpose I have besought my
brother Constans Victor Augustus, in your behalf, that he would give you
permission to come, in order that you may be restored to your country with the
consent of us both, receiving this as a pledge of our favour.
The Second Letter.
Although we made it very plain to you in a former letter that
without hesitation come to our Court, because we greatly wished to send you
home, yet, we have further sent this present letter to your fortitude to
exhort you without any distrust or apprehension, to place yourself in the
public conveyances, and to hasten to us, that you may enjoy the fulfilment
of your wishes.
The Third Letter.
Our pleasure was, while we abode at Edessa, and your Presbyters
there, that, on one of them being sent to you, you should make haste to come
to our Court, in order that you might see our face, and straightway proceed to
Alexandria. But as a very long period has elapsed since you received letters
from us, and you have not yet come, we therefore hasten to remind you again,
that you may endeavour even now to present yourself before us with speed, and
so may be restored to your country, and obtain the accomplishment of your
prayers. And for your fuller information we have sent Achitas the Deacon, from
whom you will be able to learn the purpose of our soul, that you may now
secure the objects of your prayers.
Such was the tenor of the Emperor's letters; on receiving which
I went up
to Rome to bid farewell to the Church and the Bishop: for I was at Aquileia
when the above was written. The Church was filled with all joy, and the Bishop
Julius rejoiced with me in my return and wrote to the Church; and as we
passed along, the Bishops of every place sent us on our way in peace. The
letter of Julius was as follows. 52. Julius to the Presbyters, Deacons, and
people residing at Alexandria.
I congratulate you, beloved brethren, that you now behold the
your faith before your eyes; for any one may see that such indeed is the case
with respect to my brother and fellow-Bishop Athanasius, whom for the
innocency of his life, and by reason of your prayers, God is restoring to you
again. Wherefore it is easy to perceive, that you have continually offered up
to God pure prayers and full of love. Being mindful of the heavenly promises,
and of the conversation that leads to them, which you have learnt from the
teaching of my brother aforesaid, you knew certainly and understood by the
right faith that is in you, that he, whom you always had as present in your
most pious minds, would not be separated from you for ever. Wherefore there is
no need that I should use many words in writing to you; for your faith has
already anticipated whatever I could say to you, and has by the grace of God
procured the accomplishment of the common prayers of you all. Therefore, I
repeat again, I congratulate you, because you have preserved your souls
unconquered in the faith; and I also congratulate no less my brother
Athana-sius, in that, though he is enduring many afflictions, he has at no
time been forgetful of your love and earnest desires towards him. For although
for a season he seemed to be withdrawn from you in body, yet he has continued
to live as always present with you in spirit.
53. Wherefore he returns to you now more illustrious than when
away from you. Fire tries and purifies the precious materials, gold and
silver: but how can one describe the worth of such a man, who, having passed
victorious through the perils of so many tribulations, is now restored to you,
being pronounced innocent not by our voice only, but by the voice of the whole
Council? Receive therefore, beloved brethren, with all godly honour and
rejoicing, your Bishop Athanasius, together with those who have been partners
with him in so many labours. And rejoice that you now obtain the fulfilment of
your prayers, after that in your salutary letter you have given meat and drink
to your Pastor, who, so to speak, longed and thirsted after your godliness.
For while he sojourned in a foreign land, you were his consolation; and you
refreshed him during his persecutions by your most faithful minds and spirits.
And it delights me now to conceive
and figure to nay mind the joy of every one of you at his return,
pious greetings of the concourse, and the glorious festivity of those that run
to meet him. What a day will that be to you, when my brother comes back again,
and your former sufferings terminate, and his much-prized and desired return
inspires you all with an exhilaration of perfect joy! The like joy it is ours
to feel in a very great degree, since it has been granted us by God, to be
able to make the acquaintance of so eminent a man. It is fitting therefore
that I should conclude my letter with a prayer. May Almighty God, and His Son
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, afford you continual grace, giving you a
reward for the admirable faith which you displayed in your noble confession in
behalf of your Bishop, that He may impart unto you and unto them that are with
you, both here and hereafter, those better things, which 'the eye hath not
seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things
which God hath prepared for them that love Him,' through our Lord Jesus
Christ, through Whom to Almighty God be glory for ever and ever. Amen. I pray,
dearly beloved brethren, for your health and strength in the Lord.
54. The Emperor, when I came to him with these letters, received
kindly, and sent me forth to my country and Church addressing the following to
the Bishops, Presbyters, and People.
Constantius, Victor, Maximus, Augustus, to the Bishops and Presbyters
the Catholic Church.
The most reverend Athanasius has not been deserted by the grace
but although for a brief season he was subjected to trial to which human
nature is liable, he has obtained from the all-surveying Providence such an
answer to his prayers as was meet, and is restored by the will of the Most
High, and by our sentence, at once to his country and to the Church, over
which by divine permission he presided. Wherefore, in accordance with this, it
is fitting that it should be provided by our clemency, that all the decrees
which have heretofore been passed against those who held communion with him,
be now consigned to oblivion, and that all suspicions respecting them be
henceforward set at rest, and that immunity, such as the Clergy who are
associated with him formerly enjoyed, be duly confirmed to them. Moreover to
our other acts of favour towards him we have thought good to add the
following, that all persons of the sacred catalogue' should understand, that
an assurance of safety is given to all who adhere to him, whether Bishops, or
other Clergy. And union with him will be a sufficient guarantee, in the case
of any person, of an upright intention. For whoever, acting according to a
better judgment and part, shall choose to hold communion with him, we order,
in imitation of that Providence which has already gone before, that all such
should have the advantage of the grace which by the will of the Most High is
now offered to them from us. May God preserve you.
The Second Letter.
Constantius, Victor, Maximus, Augustus, to the people of the Catholic
Church at Alexandria.
55. Having in view your welfare in all respects, and knowing that
for a long time been deprived of episcopal superintendence, we have thought
good to send back to you your Bishop Athanasius, a man known to all men for
the uprightness that is in him, and for the good disposition of his personal
character. Receive him, as you are wont to receive every one, in a suitable
manner, and, using his advocacy as your succour in your prayers to God,
endeavour to preserve continually that unanimity and peace according to the
order of the Church which is at the same time becoming in you, and most
advantageous for us. For it is not becoming that any dissension or faction
should be raised among you, contrary to the prosperity of our times. We desire
that this offence may be altogether removed from you, and we exhort you to
continue stedfastly in your accustomed prayers, and to make him, as we said
before, your advocate and helper towards God. So that, when this your
determination, beloved, has influenced the prayers of all men, even those
heathen who are still addicted to the false worship of idols may eagerly
desire to come to the knowledge of our sacred religion. Again therefore we
exhort you to continue in these things, and gladly to receive your Bishop, who
is sent back to you by the decree of the Most High, and by our decision, and
determine to greet him cordially with all your soul and with all your mind.
For this is what is both becoming in you, and agreeable to our clemency. In
order that all occasions of disturbance and sedition may be taken away from
those who are maliciously disposed, we have by letter commanded the
magistrates who are among you to subject to the vengeance of
the law all whom they find to be factious. Wherefore taking into
both these things, our decision in accordance with the will of the Most High,
and our regard for you and for concord among you, and the punishment that
awaits the disorderly, observe such things as are proper and suitable to the
order of our sacred religion, and receiving the aforementioned Bishop with all
reverence and honour, take care to offer up with him your prayers to God, the
Father of all, in behalf of yourselves, and for the well-being of your whole
56. Having written these letters, he also commanded that the decrees,
which he had formerly sent out against me in consequence of the calumnies of
Eusebius and his fellows, should be cancelled and struck out from the Orders
of the Duke and the Prefect of Egypt; and Eusebius the Decurion was sent to
withdraw them from the Order-books. His letter on this occasion was as
follows. Constantius, Victor, Augustus, to Nestorius.
(And in the same terms, to the Governors of Augustamnica, the Thebais,
Whatever Orders are found to have been passed heretofore, tending
injury and dishonour of those who hold communion with the Bishop Athanasius,
we wish them to be now erased. For we desire that whatever immunities his
Clergy possessed before, they should again possess the same. And we wish this
our Order to be observed, that when the Bishop Athanasius is restored to his
Church, those who hold communion with him may enjoy the immunities which they
have always enjoyed, and which the rest of the Clergy enjoy; so that they may
have the satisfaction of being on an equal footing with others.
57. Being thus set forward on my journey, as I passed through
Syria, I met
with the Bishops of Palestine, who when they had called a Council at
Jerusalem, received me cordially, and themselves also sent me on my way in
peace, and addressed the following letter to the Church and the Bishops.
The Holy Council, assembled at Jerusalem, to the fellow-ministers
and Libya, and to the Presbyters, Deacons, and People at Alexandria, brethren
beloved and greatly longed for, sends health in the Lord.
We cannot give worthy thanks to the God of all, dearly beloved,
wonderful things which He has done at all times, and especially at this time
for your Church, in restoring to you your pastor and lord, and our
fellow-minister Athanasius. For who ever hoped that his eyes would see what
you are now actually obtaining? Of a truth, your prayers have been heard by
the God of all, Who cares for His Church, and has looked upon your tears and
groans, and has therefore heard your petitions. For ye were as sheep scattered
and fainting, not having a shepherd. Wherefore the true Shepherd, Who
careth for His own sheep, has visited you from heaven, and has restored to you
him whom you desire. Behold, we also, being ready to do all things for the
peace of the Church, and being prompted by the same affection as yourselves,
have saluted him before you; and communicating with you through him, we send
you these greetings, and our offering of thanksgiving, that you may know that
we also are united in the bond of love that joins you to him. You are bound to
pray also for the piety of our most God-beloved Emperors, who, when they knew
your earnest longings after him, and his innocency, determined to restore him
to you with all honour. Wherefore receive him with uplifted hands, and take
good heed that you offer up due thanksgiving on his behalf to God Who has
bestowed these blessings upon you; so that you may continually rejoice with
God and glorify our Lord, in Christ Jesus our Lord, through Whom to the Father
be glory for ever. Amen.
I have set down here the names of those who subscribed this letter,
although I have mentioned them before. They are these; Maximus, Aetius,
Arius, Theodorus, Germanus, Silvanus, Paulus, Patricius, Elpidius,
Germanus, Eusebius, Zenobius, Paulus, Macrinus, Petrus, Claudius.
58. When Ursacius and Valens saw all this, they forthwith condemned
themselves for what they had done, and going up to Rome, confessed their
crime, declared themselves penitent, and sought forgiveness, addressing the
following letters to Julius, Bishop of ancient Rome, and to ourselves. Copies
of them were sent to me from Paulinus, Bishop of Treveri .
A Translation from the Latin of a Letter to Julius, concerning
recantation of Ursacius and Valens.
Ursacius and Valens to the most blessed lord, pope Julius.
Whereas it is well known that we have heretofore in letters laid
grievous charges against the Bishop Athanasius, and whereas when we were
corrected by the letters of your Goodness, we were unable to render an account
of the statement we had made; we do now confess before your Goodness, and in
the presence of all the Presbyters our brethren, that all the reports which
have heretofore come to your hearing respecting the case of the aforesaid
Athanasius, are falsehoods and fabrications, and are utterly inconsistent with
his character. Wherefore we earnestly desire communion with the aforesaid
Athanasius, especially since your Piety, with your characteristic generosity,
has vouchsafed to pardon our error. But we also declare, that if at any time
the Eastern Bishops, or even Athanasius himself, ungenerously should wish to
bring us to judgment for this matter, we will not depart contrary to your
judgment. And as for the heretic Arius and his supporters, who say that once
the Son was not, and that the Son was made of that which was not, and who deny
that Christ is God and the Son of God before the worlds, we anathematize them
both now and for evermore, as also we have set forth in our former declaration
at Milan. We have written this with our own hands, and we profess again,
that we have renounced for ever, as we said before, the Arian heresy and its
I Ursacius subscribed this my confession in person; and likewise I Valens.
Ursacius and Valens, Bishops, to their lord and brother, the Bishop
Having an opportunity of sending by our brother and fellow Presbyter
Musaeus, who is coming to your Charity, we salute you affectionately, beloved
brother, through him, from Aquileia, and pray you, being as we trust in
health, to read our letter. You will also give us confidence, if you will
return to us an answer in writing. For know that we are at peace with you, and
in communion with the Church, of which the salutation prefixed to this letter
is a proof. May Divine Providence preserve you, my Lord, our beloved brother!
Such were their letters, and such the sentence and the judgment
Bishops in my behalf. But in order to prove that they did not act thus to
ingratiate themselves, or under compulsion in any quarter, I desire, with your
permission, to recount the whole matter from the beginning, so that you may
perceive that the bishops wrote as they did with upright and just intentions,
and that Ursacius and Valens, though they were slow to do so, at last
confessed the truth.
Documents connected with the charges of the Meletians against
59. Peter was Bishop among us before the persecution, and during
of it he suffered martyrdom. When Meletius, who held the title of bishop in
Egypt, was convicted of many crimes, and among the rest of offering sacrifice
to idols, Peter deposed him in a general council of the bishops. Whereupon
Meletius did not appeal to another council, or attempt to justify himself
before those who should come after, but made a schism, so that they who
espoused his cause are even yet called Meletians instead of Christians. He
began immediately to revile the bishops, and made false accusations, first
against Peter himself, and against his successor Achillas, and after Achillas,
against Alexander. And he thus practised craftily, following the example of
Absalom, to the end that, as he was disgraced by his deposition, he might by
his calumnies mislead the simple. While Meletius was thus employed, the Arian
heresy also had arisen. But in the Council of Nicaea, while the heresy was
anathematized, and the Arians were cast out, the Meletians on whatever
grounds (for it is not necessary now to mention the reason) were received.
Five months however had not yet passed when, the blessed Alexander having
died, the Meletians, who ought to have remained quiet, and to have been
grateful that they were received on any terms, like dogs unable to forget
their vomit, were again troubling the Churches.
Upon learning this, Eusebius, who had the lead in the Arian heresy,
and buys the Meletians with large promises, becomes their secret friend, and
arranges with them for their assistance on any occasion when he might wish for
it. At first he sent to me, urging me to admit Arius and his fellows to
communion, and threatened me in his verbal communications, while in his
letters he [merely] made a request. And when I refused, declaring that it was
not right that those who had invented
heresy contrary to the truth, and had been anathematized by the
Council, should be admitted to communion, he caused the Emperor also,
Constantine, of blessed memory, to write to me, threatening me, in case I
should not receive Arius and his fellows, with those afflictions, which I have
before undergone, and which I am still suffering. The following is a part of
his letter. Syncletius and Gaudentius, officers of the palace, were the
bearers of it.
Part of a Letter from the Emperor Constantine.
Having therefore knowledge of my will, grant free admission to
wish to enter into the Church. For if I learn that you have hindered or
excluded any who claim to be admitted into communion with the Church, I will
immediately send some one who shall depose you by my command, and shall remove
you from your place.
60. When upon this I wrote and endeavoured to convince the Emperor,
that anti-Christian heresy had no communion with the Catholic Church, Eusebius
forthwith, availing himself of the occasion which he had agreed upon with the
Meletians, writes and persuades them to invent some pretext, so that, as they
had practised against Peter and Achillas and Alexander, they might devise and
spread reports against us also. Accordingly, after seeking for a long time,
and finding nothing, they at last agree together, with the advice of Eusebius
and his fellows, and fabricate their first accusation by means of Ision,
Eudaemon, and Callinicus, respecting the linen vestments, to the effect
that I had imposed a law upon the Egyptians, and had required its observance
of them first. But when certain Presbyters of mine were found to be present,
and the Emperor took cognizance of the matter, they were condemned (the
Presbyters were Apis and Macarius), and the Emperor wrote, condemning Ision,
and ordering me to appear before him. His letters were as follows.
Eusebius, having intelligence of this, persuades them to wait;
and when I
arrive, they next accuse Macarius of breaking the cup, and bring against me
the most heinous accusation possible, viz. that, being an enemy of the
Emperor, I had sent a purse of gold to one Philumenus. The Emperor therefore
heard us on this charge also in Psammathia, when they, as usual, were
condemned, and driven from the presence; and, as I returned, he wrote the
following letter to the people.
Constantine, Maximus, Augustus, to the people of the Catholic
61. Beloved brethren, I greet you well, calling upon God, Who
is the chief
witness of my intention, and on the Only-begotten, the Author of our Law, Who
is Sovereign over the lives of all men, and Who hates dissensions. But what
shall I say to you? That I am in good health? Nay, but I should be able to
enjoy better health and strength, if you were possessed with mutual love one
towards another, and had rid yourselves of your enmities, through which, in
consequence of the storms excited by contentious men, we have left the haven
of brotherly love. Alas! what perverseness is this! What evil consequences are
produced every day by the tumult of envy which has been stirred up among you!
Hence it is that evil reports have settled upon the people of God. Whither has
the faith of righteousness departed? For we are so involved in the mists of
darkness, not only through manifold errors, but through the faults of
ungrateful men, that we bear with those who favour folly, and though we are
aware of them, take no heed of those who set aside goodness and truth. What
strange inconsistency is this! We do not convict our enemies, but we follow
the example of robbery which they set us, whereby the most pernicious errors,
finding no one to oppose them, easily, if I may so speak, make a way for
themselves. Is there no understanding among us, for the credit of our common
nature, since we are thus neglectful of the injunctions of the law?
But some one will say, that love is a thing brought out by nature.
ask, how is it that we who have got the law of God for our guide in addition
to our natural advantages, thus tolerate the disturbances and disorders raised
by our enemies, who seem inflamed, as it were, with firebrands? How is it,
that having eyes, we see not, neither understand, though we are surrounded by
the intelligence of the law? What a stupor has seized upon our life, that we
are thus neglectful of ourselves, and that although God admonishes us, Is it
not an intolerable evil? and ought we not to esteem such men as our enemies,
and not the household and people of God? For they are infuriated against us,
abandoned as they are: they lay grievous crimes to our charge, and make
attacks upon us as enemies.
62. And I would have you yourselves to consider with what exceeding
madness they do
this. The foolish men carry their maliciousness at their tongues'
carry about with them a sort of leaden anger, so that they reciprocally smite
one another, and involve us by way of increasing their own punishment. The
good teacher is accounted an enemy, while he who clothes himself with the vice
of envy, contrary to all justice makes his gain of the gentle temper of the
people; he ravages, and consumes, he decks himself out, and recommends himself
with false praises; he subverts the truth, and corrupts the faith, until he
finds out a hole and hiding-place for his conscience. Thus their very
perverseness makes them wretched, while they impudently prefer themselves to
places of honour, however unworthy they may be. Ah! what a mischief is this!
they say "Such an one is too old; such an one is a mere boy; the office
belongs to me; it is due to me, since it is taken away from him. I will gain
over all men to my side, and then I will endeavour with my power to ruin him."
Plain indeed is this proclamation of their madness to all the world; the sight
of companies, and gatherings, and rowers under command in their offensive
cabals. Alas! what preposterous conduct is ours, if I may say it! Do they make
an exhibition of their folly in the Church of God? And are they not yet
ashamed of themselves? Do they not yet blame themselves? Are they not smitten
in their consciences, so that they now at length shew that they entertain a
proper sense of their deceit and contentiousness? Theirs is the mere force of
envy, supported by those baneful influences which naturally belong to it. But
those wretches have no power against your Bishop. Believe me, brethren, their
endeavours will have no other effect than this, after they have worn down our
days, to leave to themselves no place of repentance in this life. Wherefore I
beseech you, lend help to yourselves; receive kindly our love, and with all
your strength drive away those who desire to obliterate from among us the
grace of unanimity ; and looking unto God, love one another. I received gladly
your Bishop Athanasius, and addressed him in such a manner, as being persuaded
that he was a man of God. It is for you to understand these things, not for me
to judge of them. I thought it becoming that the most reverend Athanasius
himself should convey my salutation to you, knowing his kind care of you,
which, in a manner worthy of that peaceable faith which I myself profess, is
continually engaged in the good work of declaring saving knowledge, and will
be able to exhort you as is suitable, May God preserve you, beloved brethren.
Such was the letter of Constantine.
63. After these occurrences the Meletians remained quiet for a
time, but after wards shewed their hostility again, and contrived the
following plot, with the aim of pleasing those who had hired their services.
The Mareotis is a country district of Alexandria, in which Meletius was not
able to make a schism. Now while the Churches still existed within their
appointed limits, and all the Presbyters had congregations in them, and while
the people were living in peace, a certain person named Ischyras, who was
not a clergyman, but of a worthless disposition, endeavoured to lead astray
the people of his own village, declaring himself to be a clergyman. Upon
learning this, the Presbyter of the place informed me of it when I was going
through my visitation of the Churches, and I sent Macarius the Presbyter with
him to summon Ischyras. They found him sick and lying in a cell, and charged
his father to admonish his son not to continue any such practices as had been
reported against him. But when he recovered from his sickness, being prevented
by his friends and his father from pursuing the same course, he fled over to
the Meletians; and they communicate with Eusebius and his fellows, and at last
that calumny is invented by them, that Macarius had broken a cup, and that a
certain Bishop named Arsenius had been murdered by me. Arsenius they placed in
concealment, in order that he might seem made away with, when he did not make
his appearance; and they carried about a hand, pretending that he had been cut
to pieces. As for Ischyras, whom they did not even know, they began to spread
a report that he was a Presbyter, in order that what he said about the cup
might mislead the people. Ischyras, however, being censured by his friends,
came to me weeping, and said that no such thing as they had reported had been
done by Macarius, and that himself had been suborned by the Meletians to
invent this calumny. And he wrote the following letter.
To the Blessed pope Athanasius, Ischyras sends health in the Lord.
64. As when I came to you, my Lord Bishop, desiring to be received
the Church, you reproved me for what I formerly said, as though I had
proceeded to such lengths of my own free choice, I therefore
submit to you this my apology in writing, in order that you may
that violence was used towards me, and blows inflicted on me by Isaac and
Heraclides, and Isaac of Letopolis, and those of their party. And I declare,
and take God as my witness in this matter, that of none of the things which
they have stated, do I know you to be guilty. For no breaking of a cup or
overturning of the Holy Table ever took place, but they compelled me by
violent usage to assert all this. And this defence I make and submit. to you
in writing, desiring and claiming for myself to be admitted among the members
of your congregation.I pray that you may have health in the Lord.
I submit this my handwriting to you the Bishop Athanasius in the
of the Presbyters, Ammonas of Dicella, Heraclius of Phascos, Boccon of
Chenebri, Achillas of Myrsine, Didymus of Taphosiris, and Justus from
Bomotheus; and of the Deacons, Paul, Peter, and Olympius, of Alexandria,
and Ammonius, Pistus, Demetrius, and Gaius, of the Mareotis.
65. Notwithstanding this statement of Ischyras, they again spread
the same charges against me everywhere, and also reported them to the Emperor
Constantine. He too had heard before of the affair of the cup in
Psammathia, when I was there, and had detected the falsehood of my enemies.
But now he wrote to Antioch to Dalmatius the Censor requiring him to
institute a judicial enquiry respecting the murder. Accordingly the Censor
sent me notice to prepare for my defence against the charge. Upon receiving
his letters, although at first I paid no regard to the thing because I knew
that nothing of what they said was true, yet seeing that the Emperor was
moved, I wrote to my fellow-ministers into Egypt, and sent a deacon, desiring
to learn something of Arsenius, for I had not seen the man for five or six
years. Well, not to relate the matter at length, Arsenius was found in
concealment, in the first instance in Egypt, and afterwards my friends
discovered him again in concealment in Tyre also. And what was most
remarkable, even when he was discovered he would not confess that he was
Arsenius, until he was convicted in court before Paul, who was then Bishop of
Tyre, and at last out of very shame could not deny it.
This he did in order to fulfil his contract with Eusebius and
lest, if he were discovered, the game they were playing should at length be
broken up; which in fact came to pass. For when I wrote the Emperor word, that
Arsenius was discovered, and reminded him of what he had heard in Psammathia
concerning Macarius the Presbyter, he stopped the proceedings of the Censor's
court, and wrote condemning the proceedings against me as calumnious, and
commanded Eusebius and his fellows, who were coming into the East to appear
against me, to return. Now in order to shew that they accused me of having
murdered Arsenius (not to bring forward the letters of many persons on the
subject), it shall be sufficient only to produce one from Alexander the Bishop
of Thessalonica, from which the tenor of the rest may be inferred. He then
being acquainted with the reports which Archaph, who is also called John,
circulated against me on the subject of the murder, and having heard that
Arsenius was alive, wrote as follows.
Letter of Alexander.
To his dearly beloved son and fellow-minister like-minded, the
Athanasius, Alexander the Bishop sends health in the Lord.
66. I congratulate the most excellent Sarapion, that he is striving
earnestly to adorn himself with holy habits, and is thus advancing to higher
praise the memory of his father. For, as the Holy Scripture somewhere says,
'though his father die, yet he is as though he were not dead:' for he has
left behind him a memorial of his life. What my feelings were towards the ever
memorable Sozon, you yourself, my lord, are not ignorant, for you know the
sacredness of his memory, as well as the goodness of the young than. I have
received only one letter from your reverence, which I had by the hands of this
youth. I mention this to you, my lord, in order that you may know. Our dearly
beloved brother and deacon Macarius, afforded me great pleasure by writing to
me from Constantinople, that the false accuser Archaph had met with disgrace,
for having given out before all men that a live man had been murdered. That he
will receive from the righteous Judge, together with all the tribe of his
associates, that punishment, which his crimes deserve, the unerring Scriptures
assure us. May the Lord of all preserve you for
very many years, my lord, in every way most kind.
67. And they who lived with Arsenius bear witness, that he was
concealment for this purpose, that they might pretend his death for in
searching after him we found the person [who had done so], and he in
consequence wrote the following letter to John, who played the chief part in
this false accusation.
To his dearly beloved brother John, Pinnes, Presbyter of the Monastery"
Ptemencyrcis, in the home of Anteopolis, sends greeting.
I wish you to know, that Athanasius sent his deacon into the Thebais,
search everywhere for Arsenius; and Pecysius the Presbyter, and Silvanus the
brother of Helias, and Tapenacerameus, and Paul monk of Hypsele, whom he first
fell in with, confessed that Arsenius was with us. Upon learning this we
caused him to be put on board a vessel, and to sail to the lower countries
with Helias the monk. Afterwards the deacon returned again suddenly with
certain others, and entered our monastery, in search of the same Arsenius, and
him they found not, because, as I said before, we had sent him away to the
lower countries; but they conveyed me together with Helias the monk, who took
him out of the way, to Alexandria, and brought us before the Duke; when I
was unable to deny, but confessed that he was alive, and had not been
murdered: the monk also who took him out of the way confessed the same.
Wherefore I acquaint you with these things, Father, lest you should determine
to accuse Athanasius; for I said that he was alive, and had been concealed
with us, and all this is become known in Egypt, and it cannot any longer be
I, Paphnutius, monk of the same monastery, who wrote this letter,
salute you. I pray for your health.
The following also is the letter which the Emperor wrote when
that Arsenius, was found to be alive.
Constantine, Victor, Maximus, Augustus, to the pope Athanasius.
68. Having read the letters of your wisdom, I felt the inclination
write in return to your fortitude, and to exhort you that you would endeavour
to restore the people of God to tranquillity, and to merciful feelings. For in
my own mind I hold these things to be of the greatest importance, that we
should cultivate truth, and ever keep righteousness in our thoughts, and have
pleasure especially in those who walk in the right way of life. But as
concerning those who are deserving of all execration, I mean the most perverse
and ungodly Meletians, who have at last stultified themselves by their folly,
and are now raising unreasonable commotions by envy, uproar, and tumult, thus
making manifest their own ungodly dispositions, I will say thus much. You see
that those who they pretended had been slain with the sword, are still amongst
us, and in the enjoyment of life. Now what could be a stronger presumption
against them, and one so manifestly and clearly tending to their condemnation,
as that those whom they declared to have been murdered, are yet in the
enjoyment of life, and accordingly will be able to speak for themselves ?
But this further accusation was advanced by these same Meletians.
positively affirmed that you, rushing in with lawless violence, had seized
upon and broken a cup, which was deposited in the most Holy Place; than which
there certainly could not be a more serious charge, nor a more grievous
offence, had such a crime actually been perpetrated. But what manner of
accusation is this ? What is the meaning of this change and variation and
difference in the circumstances of it, insomuch that they now transfer this
same accusation to another person, a fact which makes it clearer, so to
speak, than the light itself, that they designed to lay a plot for your wisdom
? After this, who can be willing to follow them, men that have fabricated such
charges to the injury of another, seeing too that they are hurrying themselves
on to ruin, and are conscious that they are accusing you of false and reigned
crimes ? Who then, as I said, will follow after them, and thus go headlong in
the way of destruction; in that way in which it seems they alone suppose that
they have hope of safety and of help ? But if they were willing to walk
according to a pure conscience, and to be directed by the best wisdom, and to
go in the way of a sound mind, they would easily perceive that no help can
come to them from Divine Providence, while they are given up to such doings,
and tempt their own destruction. I should not call this a harsh judgment of
them, but the simple truth.
And finally, I will add, that I wish this letter to be read frequently
your wisdom in public, that it may thereby come to the knowledge of all men,
and especially reach the ears of those who thus act, and thus raise
disturbances; for the judgment which is expressed by me according to the
dictates of equity is confirmed also by real facts. Wherefore, seeing that in
such conduct there is so great an offence, let them understand that I have
thus judged; and that I have come to this determination, that if they excite
any further commotion of this kind, I will myself in person take cognizance of
the matter, and that not according to the ecclesiastical, but according to the
civil laws, and so I will in future find them out, because they clearly are
robbers, so to speak, not only against human kind, but against the divine
doctrine itself. May God ever preserve you, beloved brother !
69. But that the wickedness of the calumniators might be more
displayed, behold Arsenius also wrote to me after he was discovered in his
place of concealment; and as the letter which Ischyras had written confessed
the falsehood of their accusation, so that of Arsenius proved their
maliciousness still more completely.
To the blessed Pope Athanasius, Arsenius, Bishop of those who
heretofore under Meletius in the city of the Hypselites, together with the
Presbyters and Deacons, wishes much health in the Lord.
Being earnestly desirous of peace and union with the Catholic
which by the grace of God you preside, and wishing to submit ourselves to the
Canon of the Church, according to the ancient rule, we write unto you,
dearly beloved Pope, and declare in the name of the Lord, that we will not for
the future hold communion with those who continue in schism, and are not yet
at peace with the Catholic Church, whether Bishops, Presbyters, or Deacons.
Neither will we take part with them if they wish to establish anything in a
Council; neither will we send letters of peace [3a] unto them nor receive such
from them; neither yet without the consent of you, the bishop of the
metropolis, will we publish any determination concerning Bishops, or on any
other general ecclesiastical question; but we will yield obedience to all the
canons that have heretofore been ordained, after the example of the Bishops
 Ammonian, Tyrannus, Plusian, and the rest. Wherefore we beseech your
goodness to write to us speedily in answer, and likewise to our
fellow-ministers concerning us, informing them that we will henceforth abide
by the fore-mentioned resolution and will be at peace with the Catholic
Church, and at unity with our fellow-ministers in the [various] districts. And
we are persuaded that your prayers, being acceptable unto God, will so prevail
with Him, that this peace shall be firm and indissoluble unto the end,
according to the will of God the Lord of all, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The sacred Ministry that is under you, we and those that are with
salute. Very shortly, if God permit, we will come to visit your goodness. I,
Arsenius, pray for your health in the Lord for many years, most blessed Pope.
70. But a stronger and clearer proof of the calumny against us
recantation of John, of which the most God-beloved Emperor Constantine of
blessed memory is a witness, for. knowing how John had accused himself, and
having received letters from him expressing his repentance, he wrote to him as
follows. Constantine, Maximus, Augustus to John. The letters which I have
received from your prudence were extremely pleasing to me, because I learned
from them what I very much longed to hear, that you had laid aside every petty
feeling, had joined the Communion of the Church as became you, and were now in
perfect concord with the most reverend Bishop Athanasius. Be assured therefore
that so far I entirely approve of your conduct; because, giving up all
skirmishing, you have done that which is pleasing to God, and have embraced
the unity of His Church. In order therefore that you may obtain the
accomplishment of your wishes, I have thought it right to grant you permission
to enter the public conveyance, and to come
to the court of my clemency. Let it then be your care to make no
but as this letter gives you authority to use the public conveyance, come to
me immediately, that you may have your desires fulfilled, and by appearing in
my presence may enjoy that pleasure which it is fit for you to receive. May
God preserve you continually, dearly beloved brother.