Eusebius of Nicomedia (d. 342) is most remembered for his integral role in the Arian controversy. He was originally appointed bishop in the see of Berytus (Beirut) in Phoenicia. He was later appointed the bishopric of Nicomedia around 317, which was about the same time that Licinius took up residence in the city. As the bishop of the eastern imperial city, Eusebius enjoyed a certain degree of prestige. This may have been the reason for Arius choosing to appeal to Eusebius regarding his troubles in Alexandra before 324. Eusebius attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 and despite his pro-Arian stance, he subscribed the Nicene formula, though he would not recognize Arius’ excommunication. Presumably for this reason, among others, Constantine had Eusebius deposed and banished from his see later that year. Nevertheless, he was soon after reinstated about 2 years and even appointed as the emperor’s ecclesiastical advisor. Eusebius remained in the good favor of the emperor and baptized Constantine shortly before his death in 337.
Eusebius meanwhile continued to work as an advocate for Arius. He especially pursued the removal of Athanasius from his see in Alexandria. Athanasius refused to accept Arius and his followers back into communion, and Eusebius rallied a number of eastern bishops to his side. He also connected himself with the Meletian controversy in 330 to stir up trouble for Athanasius. The conflict culminated in the Council of Tyre (335), which resulted in Athanasius’ exile. Eusebius also managed to get Marcellus of Ancyra deposed at a council in Constantinople in the same year. He deposed Athanasius once more in 339 at the Council of Antioch. He died before being informed by pope Julius I that a western synod in Rome resolved to reinstate both Athanasius and Marcellus. Eusebius was appointed bishop of Constantinople shortly before his death in 342. It was there that he consecrated bishop Ulfila, Arian missionary to the Goths.
Few of Eusebius’ writings remain and a couple are only fragments. They all pertain to the Arian controversy and have been included in the third volume of the Athanasius’ Werke by H.-G. Opitz. The following table lists Eusebius’ surviving works, including approximate dates and CPL numbers. The links provide more information on each of the documents, as well as English translations.
The Writings of Eusebius of Nicomedia
|c. 318||Letter to Arius (fragment)||2046|
|c. 320||Letter to Paulinus of Tyre||2045|
|June 325||Letter to the Council of Nicaea (fragment)||2047|
|late 327||Petition of Contrition of Eusebius and Theognis of Nicaea||2048|
Johnson, Gary J. “Eusebius of Nicomedia.” In Encyclopedia of Early Christianity. Edited by Everett Ferguson. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. 1990, p. 301-302.
Kannengiesser, C. “Eusebius of Nicomedia.” In Encyclopedia of the Early Church. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992, p. 327-328.
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Last updated: 5-11-2012
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