3.18.1 “Victor Constantinus Maximus Augustus, to the bishops again assembled in Tyre. I on my part am unaware of the decisions your council has made with so much uproar and storming, but it seems that disorderly confusion has somehow distorted the truth. Clearly, on account of your mutual quarreling, which you do not want to be put to rest, you cannot see what is pleasing to God.

3.18.2 But let God’s providence clearly reveal and scatter the awful mischief resulting from your rivalry, or rather your wicked struggling. Let him explicitly show to us whether you showed any concern for truth when you gathered there and whether you passed judgment with neither partiality nor hatred.

3.18.3 For this reason, I want you to quickly come to my piety so that you may yourselves present before me a precise account of your negotiations. You will learn from the following why I considered it right to write this to you and through this letter called you to myself.

3.18.4 Athanasius, the bishop of the church in Alexandria and disciple of divine law, is with me. When I was returning from a field camp to the city which bears our name, all-blessed Constantinople, he met me in the middle of the thoroughfare together with some others, mourning and lamenting. He approached so suddenly as to give us cause for alarm.

3.18.5 God, who sees all, is my witness that I could not have recognized who he was by his appearance had not some of our companions upon our inquiry reported who he was and what injustice he had suffered at your hands. The man appeared so humbled and downcast to us that we felt inexpressible pity for him when we learned that he was Athanasius, whose holy countenance suffices to draw even the pagans to worship the God of all. Long ago certain wicked men, hostile to peace and harmony, surrounded him with weighty false accusations.

3.18.6 As a result even I myself, taken in by their crafty deception, would have sinned against the man had I not, moved by God’s decree, ordered him at that time to come from Alexandria to the court of our clemency with haste.

3.18.7 So the man himself answered my reverence concerning the falsely constructed charges against him, defending himself before us. He refuted the lying accusations and was proved innocent in all of them, so we sent him off to his own country with the utmost honor, and he returned in peace to the orthodox people who were guided by him.

3.18.8 Now he again cries out that these second accusations, worse than the former ones, have been boldly levelled against him. He asks nothing else from us with greater boldness than that you come to us, which he requested so that he might in your presence lament what he has had to suffer.

3.18.9 Because we found this reasonable and proper to the circumstances, I had this letter written to you in order that all you who attended the council in Tyre would immediately hasten to our court and demonstrate by the facts themselves that your judgment was spotless and incontrovertible, defending your judgments before me (you yourselves would not deny that I am truly a genuine servant of God).

3.18.10 For through my service to God there is peace everywhere, and even the most barbarous peoples, which until now have been ignorant of the truth, genuinely worship the name of God. And clearly he who is ignorant of the truth does not even know God. However, as just said, even the barbarians themselves, on account of me, the genuine servant of God, have now come to know God and have learned to worship him, whom they could perceive defending me and providing everywhere through the bare facts. For this reason they certainly also know God, whom they worship on account of their fear of us.

3.18.11 As for us, we who seem to put forward the holy mysteries of his goodwill (for I would not say we guard them) do nothing other than that which strives toward discord and hatred, and, to speak simply, toward the destruction of the human race.

3.18.12 So hurry to us as quickly as possible, as I said before, with the confidence that I will attempt with my every power to ensure that the law of God especially be kept without fault so that neither blame nor any bad repute will be able to cling to it, namely, when the enemies of the law of God have been scattered, utterly crushed, and completely destroyed.

3.18.13 Under the pretext of the holy name they utter all kinds of blasphemies so as to deceive simpler minds, desiring, so far as it is possible, to defile the purity of the catholic church, which our Savior keeps spotless, holy, and blameless, having purchased it with his saving, precious blood, as his divine, unbreakable laws declare.”

3.18.14 This letter brought anguish to those in the council, especially the followers of Eusebius of Nicomedia. Their representatives in the Mareotes, who had signed off on lies as if they were true by compiling a one-sided investigative report against the great Athanasius before this imperial letter, met with the council of admirable bishops in Tyre.

3.18.15 But not all accepted that counterfeit report against Athanasius, full as it was of their abominable slanders. Therefore, most of them anxiously returned to their own places when they had learned the contents of the emperor’s letter from their reading.

3.18.16 But the followers of Eusebius of Nicomedia and Theognis and those with them, meanwhile, tarried in Tyre, stalling for time. But they wrote to the pious emperor that they were being kept there against their will though they were in a hurry to set out to him. They sent him their counterfeit investigative report, which the faithful emperor rejected as an abomination and refused to even accept it. He ordered the offenders to come to him once and for all.

3.18.17 Meanwhile, as they (I mean the followers of Eusebius) were still delaying, he again dispatched Athanasius to Alexandria with utmost honor, having written again to the church of Alexandria that their bishop, Athanasius, had been falsely attacked and that his purity shone forth conspicuously in all his dealings.

3.18.18 When Athanasius arrived at Alexandria and was being acclaimed in accord with the emperor’s commands and the orders of the orthodox bishops gathered for the consecration in Jerusalem, the affairs concerning Arius happened.1 There was a large gathering of the crowd and a confused expectation based on a wavering outcome, especially since all saw that the things unanimously decided and determined by so many prominent bishops were again called into question.

3.18.19 Therefore godly Athanasius, seeing that Alexandria was agitated along with all of Egypt, did not keep silent; he made it known by letter to the pious ears of the all-excellent, God-loving emperor.

3.18.20 When the emperor learned that Arius had again changed direction, he sent for him to have him brought to Constantinople to give an account of the disturbances he had again dared to set in motion. He wrote to him and those with him an indignant letter against them. The letter reads as follows.2


Previous Chapter – 3.17 Part of the letter of Emperor Constantine written on behalf of Athanasius to the church of Alexandria

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Created by RR 6-20-22

  1. Hansen says that this refers to Arius’s return to Alexandria mentioned in 3.13.18.
  2. The letter which should follow is not preserved in the textual tradition of the Anonymous Church History. The chapter index at the start of Book 3 indicates that, in addition to the letter (Chapter 19), an account of Emperor Constantine’s prayer upon the death of Arius (Chapter 20) and two letters from Emperor Constantine to Pistus, bishop of Marcianopolis (Chapters 21 and 22), are not preserved.

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