3.13.1 “Since we have already been condemned by your piety, we must bear the verdict of your holy authority in peace. But because by our silence we would provide a route of attack against ourselves, we want to inform your holiness that we have agreed with your holy council and, after examining the word ‘consubstantial,’ have completely embraced peace. In no way do we follow heresy.

3.13.2 And to reassure the churches, after recalling what undergirded our reasoning, we subscribed to the creed and were satisfied, thus giving full assurance to those who needed us persuade them. But we did not sign the condemnation—not as if we disagree with the creed (perish the thought), but because we do not believe the accused is of such a nature. We have been convinced to our satisfaction, based on what he has already communicated to us through both his letters and personal conversations, that he is not of such a nature.

3.13.3 If, however, your holy council has been persuaded of the opposite, we do not want to resist but rather are satisfied to conform to your verdict and give our confirmation through this letter. We do this not because we find our banishment burdensome but because we want to get rid of the suspicion of heresy.

3.13.4 For if you see fit now to receive us back personally, you will have like-minded people in all respects who follow your verdict. For if it seemed good to your holiness that he who was accused of heresy should be shown mercy by our most pious emperor and be found worthy of kindness, and if you made efforts to free him from exile, how much more is it right that we innocent men be found worthy both of freedom from exile and of returning to your piety.

3.13.5 It would indeed be unusual for us to remain silent when he who seems guilty has been released, providing clear evidence against ourselves through our silence, as we said before. Deign, therefore, we urge you (as befits your Christ-loving piety), to remind our God-loving emperor of this, to convey to him our requests, and to quickly resolve for yourselves what is fitting in our case, most holy ones.”

3.13.6 This is the document in which the aforementioned Eusebius and Theognis recanted. From their words it is clear that they subscribed to the faith prescribed in Nicaea by the holy council there by hand only, not by intent, as we demonstrated earlier, and they did not want to vote for the deposition of Arius and his anathematization.

3.13.7 Yet they were released from exile at the discretion of the bishops who had received their entreaty. They took back their former parishes, as I said above, and they had hardly seen them before they rushed with all speed to court. Reaching Constantinople, they boldly burst into the palace, trusting in the protection of that priest whom Constantia had commended to God-loving Constantine as his dear sister. The emperor honored that priest with utmost care and esteem.

3.13.8 However, as I already said, the priest did not venture to reveal the Arian heresy lurking within him because he saw that the emperor’s soul was zealous for what was godly and for the accuracy of the true faith.

3.13.9 He nevertheless introduced Eusebius and Theognis to the emperor, warning them for the present to conceal their disease, namely, the heresy of wicked Arius. He often asked the emperor on their behalf to let them (Eusebius especially) speak freely, testifying that their thoughts aligned with what had been said at the council. So the enemy of truth was in fact speaking the truth.

3.13.10 For that flatterer was saying they really thought the poor words they had grumbled there. But the emperor, with natural nobility, deep reverence towards those who were consecrated, and the forgiving heart of the great king and prophet David, could not even bear to consider the plots Eusebius had dared to devise against him in the time of wicked Licinius. So he received them kindly and respectfully as priests of God, considered them worthy of great honor and affection, and had them come to him quite often.

3.13.11 Day by day they grew increasingly confident with the all-noble Emperor Constantine. They asked the Arian priest to begin appealing on Arius’s behalf to the emperor that he might receive an audience with him, in which he could stand up for himself and show that he agreed with the holy fathers in Nicaea.

3.13.12 The priest complied with the requests of Eusebius and Theognis and began speaking to the emperor on Arius’s behalf, for the most part acting as their mouthpiece. They claimed that Arius agreed with all the resolutions of the council and was pleased with the faith proclaimed there. But what the priest said about Arius seemed strange to the emperor.

3.13.13 He carried this on for many days, sometimes alone but mostly with Eusebius of Nicomedia present. The emperor rather often summoned him, for the faithful emperor was not thinking of the crimes wicked Eusebius had committed against him before.

3.13.14 Eusebius therefore, by his skill in deceptive speech, both through the priest and on his own tried to persuade the benevolent and fair emperor to have Arius summoned to see him, with the assurance that if he should come before the pious Emperor Constantine, he would agree “with everything which we” (so he said) “and the council agreed with.”

3.13.15 This seemed untrustworthy to the emperor, but due to his godly goodness and his zeal for the unity of the churches he yielded, trusting them as priests, and said to them, “If Arius agrees with the council and has truly chosen to think its thoughts, I will receive him personally and send him to Alexandria with honor.” Having said this, he sent for him by letter and commanded him to come to court.

3.13.16 Having been honored by an imperial letter, Arius immediately hurried to Constantinople. Together with him was Euzoius, whom godly Alexander, bishop of the church of Alexandria, had deposed with him. The priest reported the presence of Arius to the pious emperor at the prompting of the followers of Eusebius of Nicomedia.

3.13.17 The emperor therefore received him personally along with Euzoius and inquired of them whether they agreed with the faith which the three hundred holy fathers set forth at Nicaea. Arius testified under oath that he had always believed and still believed “just as the holy fathers at Nicaea, and everyone with us believes the same.” (He was speaking of the followers of Eusebius of Nicomedia and Theognis of Nicaea.) He acted as if he was swearing the truth, to deceive and persuade the simple, Christ-loving emperor.

3.13.18 When Arius had said this under oath, the godly and fair emperor was moved to send Arius to Alexandria posthaste with honor.

3.13.19 But because Athanasius warned him, Bishop Alexander did not receive Arius when he arrived in Alexandria; he avoided him like the plague.

3.13.20 Then Eusebius and his followers themselves wrote letters on behalf of Arius and coerced the emperor to write harshly to Alexander and Athanasius.

3.13.21 Athanasius altogether refused to receive Arius and those with him, and with the bishop he informed the emperor in writing that it was impossible to welcome back those who had once denied the faith, had been condemned “by such a holy council and your godly piety,” and had been sentenced.

3.13.22 Taking this poorly and moved to wrath by the followers of Eusebius of Nicomedia, the emperor threatened Athanasius, writing the following letter:1


Next Chapter – 3.14 Part of Emperor Constantine’s letter to Athanasius

Previous Chapter – 3.12 Concerning Constantia, the sister of the all-praiseworthy Emperor Constantine and the Arian presbyter whom she entrusted to his safekeeping

Click here to read Book 1 in its entirety.


Created by RR 6-18-22

  1. The following letter excerpt is also preserved in Athanasius, Apologia secunda contra Arianos 59.4-6; Socrates 1.27.4; Sozomen 2.22.5.

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