2.4.1 “To Alexander and Arius, from Victor Constantinus Maximus Augustus: I understand the basis of the present dispute to be this: When you, father Alexander, inquired how each of your priests understood a certain passage in the law, or rather, inquired about a meaningless detail of dispute, then you, Arius, thoughtlessly responded in a way you should have never pondered in the first place, or, once you had pondered it, should have kept silent.

2.4.2 Because of this disagreement which has arisen between you, harmony has been annulled, and the holy people has been split into two and severed from the unity of its shared body. Therefore, each of you alike ought to present your opinion and then accept whatever your fellow servant rightly proposes.

2.4.3 What do I mean by this? It was not proper to ask about such things in the first place nor to give an answer when asked. No law commands such inquiries; rather, unproductive idle debate introduces them. Even if such an inquiry should occur because of a contemplation of nature, one nevertheless ought to keep it confined within his mind and not rashly disclose it at public councils or thoughtlessly say it for all to hear. How many people can accurately comprehend or sufficiently explain such great and difficult topics?”

2.4.4 A little later he wrote, “Therefore, we ought not engage in much talk about such matters. Otherwise, we will either be unable to explain the matter due to natural weakness, or the sluggish intellect of the hearers and learners will not accurately understand what we say.1 In either case, the common people would inevitably end up in blasphemy or schism.” Later he says, “It is not considered proper nor altogether lawful to disagree.

2.4.5 Let me call to your attention a trivial example. I presume you know that philosophers, while all adhering to one set of principles, nevertheless often disagree concerning some detail of their conclusions. Yet although they are divided at the level of understanding, they are still in agreement with each other in the unity of their set of principles. Since this is the case, how much more right is it for you,2 the appointed servants of the mighty God, to agree with each other in such a principle of religion?

2.4.6 So let us examine what was said with careful reasoning and ponder it with greater understanding. Is it right that, because of a few arguments between you about empty words, brothers oppose brothers, children oppose parents,3 and the honorable unity is divided by ungodly disagreement because of you two?

2.4.7 Let us deliberately stay away from the devil’s temptations. Our mighty God, the Savior of all, has extended the light for all to share. Under his providence, allow me, the servant of the Almighty, to bring this trouble to an end, so that by my declaration, service, and resolute admonition I might bring you,4 his people, into the holy fellowship of unity.”

2.4.8 Later he wrote,5 “Concerning divine providence, let there be among you one faith, one understanding, and one agreement about the Almighty. But as for the things which you discuss in detail with each other during your trivial inquiries, if you do not arrive at one conclusion, they should remain in your own head, kept hidden in the secret recesses of your mind. Indeed, let remarkable shared friendship, true faith, honor towards God, and observance of the law remain unshaken among you.

2.4.9 Return to showing friendship and favor to one another. Embrace the whole people once again. When you have cleansed your own souls, acknowledge each other as brothers once again, for friendship is often pleasant after a hateful situation once it has reconciled.

2.4.10 Therefore give back my calm days and restful nights so that from now on I too may enjoy the pleasure of clear light and the gladness of a quiet life.

2.4.11 If you don’t, I will have to grieve and hold back tears all the time, and my life will not be serene. For if even the people of God (I mean my fellow servants) have become so divided by unrighteous and harmful disputes with each other, how can I, in the end, reunite them with reasoning?

2.4.12 Listen so that you grasp the depth of my grief in this matter. I recently stopped in the city of Nicomedia with the intention of immediately hastening to the East. But while I was hurrying toward you and was nearly already there, news of this matter threw my plans in the opposite direction so that I would not have to see with my eyes things I did not think it was possible for my ears to hear.

2.4.13  From now on, then, by renewing harmony between you, reopen for me the path to the East which you closed by your disputes with each other. Enable me rather soon to gladly visit you together with all the other communities and to give due thanks to the Almighty with laudatory orations for the harmony and freedom we all share.”

2.4.14 Such were the admirable and wise warnings of the emperor’s letter, but evil overpowered the emperor’s zeal and the credibility of the one who delivered the letter.


Next Chapter – 2.5 The most God-loving Emperor Constantine calls for a council of bishops to be held at Nicaea

Previous Chapter – 2.3 Bishop Alexander’s decree pronouncing the deposition of Arius and those on his side, which was sent to all the bishops everywhere

Click here to read Book 1 in its entirety.


Created by NJ 7-6-17

Updated by RR 6-4-21

  1. Hansen asserts that the Greek text of this sentence is corrupt. This translation reflects his emendation.
  2. On the basis of Eusebius’s text, Hansen changes “you” to “us.”
  3. Hansen notes that the phrase “children oppose parents” is an addition by the anonymous author.
  4. Eusebius’s account does not have “you” here, which Hansen asserts is the better reading.
  5. A couple paragraphs have been omitted (see Vita Const. 71.5-6).

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