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About Athanasius of Alexandria. Athanasius the Great, St. His episcopate lasted 45 years c. The image cannot represent the true form of God , else God would be corruptible. For if the reason of their being thus fashioned is, that the Deity is of human form, why do they invest it also with the forms of irrational creatures? Or if the form of it is that of the latter, why do they embody it also in the images of rational creatures? Or if it be both at once, and they conceive God to be of the two combined, namely, that He has the forms both of rational and of irrational, why do they separate what is joined together, and separate the images of brutes and of men , instead of always carving it of both kinds, such as are the fictions in the myths, Scylla, Charybdis, the Hippocentaur, and the dog-headed Anubis of the Egyptians?
For they ought either to represent them solely of two natures in this way, or, if they have a single form, not to falsely represent them in the other as well. And again, if their forms are male, why do they also invest them with female shapes? Or if they are of the latter, why do they also falsify their forms as though they were males?
Or if again they are a mixture of both, they ought not to be divided, but both ought to be combined, and follow the type of the so-called hermaphrodites, so that their superstition should furnish beholders with a spectacle not only of impiety and calumny , but of ridicule as well. And generally, if they conceive the Deity to be corporeal, so that they contrive for it and represent belly and hands and feet, and neck also, and breasts and the other organs that go to make man, see to what impiety and godlessness their mind has come down, to have such ideas of the Deity.
For it follows that it must be capable of all other bodily casualties as well, of being cut and divided, and even of perishing altogether. But these and like things are not properties of God , but rather of earthly bodies. For while God is incorporeal and incorruptible, and immortal , needing nothing for any purpose, these are both corruptible, and are shapes of bodies, and need bodily ministrations, as we said before. For often we see images which have grown old renewed, and those which time, or rain, or some or other of the animals of the earth have spoiled, restored.
In which connection one must condemn their folly, in that they proclaim as gods things of which they themselves are the makers, and themselves ask salvation of objects which they themselves adorn with their arts to preserve them from corruption, and beg that their own wants may be supplied by beings which they well know need attention from themselves, and are not ashamed to call lords of heaven and all the earth creatures whom they shut up in small chambers. The variety of idolatrous cults proves that they are false. But not only from these considerations may one appreciate their godlessness, but also from their discordant opinions about the idols themselves.
For if they be gods according to their assertion and their speculations, to which of them is one to give allegiance, and which of them is one to judge to be the higher, so as either to worship God with confidence, or as they say to recognise the Deity by them without ambiguity? For not the same beings are called gods among all; on the contrary, for every nation almost there is a separate god imagined. And there are cases of a single district and a single town being at internal discord about the superstition of their idols.
And while the Scythians reject the gods of the Persians , the Persians reject those of the Syrians. But the Pelasgians also repudiate the gods in Thrace, while the Thracians know not those of Thebes. The Indians moreover differ from the Arabs, the Arabs from the Ethiopians , and the Ethiopians from the Arabs in their idols. And the Syrians worship not the idols of the Cilicians, while the Cappadocian nation call gods beings different from these.
And while the Bithynians have adopted others, the Armenians have imagined others again. And what need is there for me to multiply examples? The men on the continent worship other gods than the islanders, while these latter serve other gods than those of the main lands. And, in general, every city and village, not knowing the gods of its neighbours, prefers its own, and deems that these alone are gods. For concerning the abominations in Egypt there is no need even to speak, as they are before the eyes of all: And thus arise fights and riots and frequent occasions of bloodshed, and every indulgence of the passions among them.
And strange to say, according to the statement of historians, the very Pelasgians, who learned from the Egyptians the names of the gods, do not know the gods of Egypt , but worship others instead. And, speaking generally, all the nations that are infatuated with idols have different opinions and religions , and consistency is not to be met with in any one case.
Nor is this surprising. For having fallen from the contemplation of the one God , they have come down to many and diverse objects; and having turned from the Word of the Father , Christ the Saviour of all, they naturally have their understanding wandering in many directions. And just as men who have turned from the sun and have come into dark places go round by many pathless ways, and see not those who are present, while they imagine those to be there who are not, and seeing see not; so they that have turned from God and whose soul is darkened, have their mind in a roving state, and like men who are drunk and cannot see, imagine what is not true.
This, then, is no slight proof of their real godlessness. For, the gods for every city and country being many and various, and the one destroying the god of the other, the whole of them are destroyed by all. For those who are considered gods by some are offered as sacrifices and drink-offerings to the so-called gods of others, and the victims of some are conversely the gods of others. So the Egyptians serve the ox, and Apis, a calf, and others sacrifice these animals to Zeus. For even if they do not sacrifice the very animals the others have consecrated , yet by sacrificing their fellows they seem to offer the same.
The Libyans have for god a sheep which they call Ammon, and in other nations this animal is slain as a victim to many gods. The Indians worship Dionysus, using the name as a symbol for wine, and others pour out wine as an offering to the other gods. Others honour rivers and springs, and above all the Egyptians pay special honour to water, calling them gods. And yet others, and even the Egyptians who worship the waters, use them to wash off the dirt from others and from themselves, and ignominiously throw away what is used. While nearly the whole of the Egyptian system of idols consists of what are victims to the gods of other nations, so that they are scorned even by those others for deifying what are not gods, but, both with others and even among themselves, propitiatory offerings and victims.
But some have been led by this time to such a pitch of irreligion and folly as to slay and to offer in sacrifice to their false gods even actual men, whose figures and forms the gods are. Nor do they see, wretched men, that the victims they are slaying are the patterns of the gods they make and worship, and to whom they are offering the men.
For they are offering, one may say, equals to equals, or rather, the higher to the lower; for they are offering living creatures to dead, and rational beings to things without motion. For the Scythians who are called Taurians offer in sacrifice to their Virgin, as they call her, survivors from wrecks, and such Greeks as they catch, going thus far in impiety against men of their own race, and thus exposing the savagery of their gods, in that those whom Providence has rescued from danger and from the sea, they slay, almost fighting against Providence; because they frustrate the kindness of Providence by their own brutal character.
But others, when they are returned victorious from war , thereupon dividing their prisoners into hundreds, and taking a man from each, sacrifice to Ares the man they have picked out from each hundred. Nor is it only Scythians who commit these abominations on account of the ferocity natural to them as barbarians: And even the ancient Romans used to worship Jupiter Latiarius, as he was called, with human sacrifices , and some in one way, some in another, but all without exception committed and incurred the pollution: This then was the ready source of numerous evils to mankind.
For seeing that their false gods were pleased with these things, they immediately imitated their gods with like misdoings, thinking that the imitation of superior beings, as they considered them, was a credit to themselves. Hence mankind was thinned by murders of grown men and children, and by licence of all kinds. For nearly every city is full of licentiousness of all kinds, the result of the savage character of its gods; nor is there one of sober life in the idols' temples save only he whose licentiousness is witnessed to by them all.
While men, denying their nature, and no longer wishing to be males, put on the guise of women , under the idea that they are thus gratifying and honouring the Mother of their so-called gods. For their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: But acting in this and in like ways, they admit and prove that the life of their so-called gods was of the same kind. For from Zeus they have learned corruption of youth and adultery , from Aphrodite fornication, from Rhea licentiousness, from Ares murders, and from other gods other like things, which the laws punish and from which every sober man turns away.
Does it then remain fit to consider them gods who do such things, instead of reckoning them, for the licentiousness of their ways, more irrational than the brutes? Is it fit to consider their worshippers human beings, instead of pitying them as more irrational than the brutes, and more soul-less than inanimate things?
For had they considered the intellectual part of their soul they would not have plunged headlong into these things, nor have denied the true God , the Father of Christ. The refutation of popular Paganism being taken as conclusive, we come to the higher form of nature-worship. How Nature witnesses to God by the mutual dependence of all her parts, which forbid us to think of any one of them as the supreme God.
This shown at length. But perhaps those who have advanced beyond these things, and who stand in awe of Creation, being put to shame by these exposures of abominations, will join in repudiating what is readily condemned and refuted on all hands, but will think that they have a well-grounded and unanswerable opinion, namely, the worship of the universe and of the parts of the universe.
For they will boast that they worship and serve, not mere stocks and stones and forms of men and irrational birds and creeping things and beasts, but the sun and moon and all the heavenly universe , and the earth again, and the entire realm of water: It is worth while then to look into and examine these points also; for here, too, our argument will find that its proof against them holds true.
But before we look, or begin our demonstration, it suffices that Creation almost raises its voice against them, and points to God as its Maker and Artificer, Who reigns over Creation and over all things, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ; Whom the would-be philosophers turn from to worship and deify the Creation which proceeded from Him, which yet itself worships and confesses the Lord Whom they deny on its account.
For if men are thus awestruck at the parts of Creation and think that they are gods, they might well be rebuked by the mutual dependence of those parts; which moreover makes known , and witnesses to, the Father of the Word, Who is the Lord and Maker of these parts also, by the unbroken law of their obedience to Him, as the divine law also says: The heavens declare the glory of God , and the firmament shows His handiwork.
But the proof of all this is not obscure, but is clear enough in all conscience to those the eyes of whose understanding are not wholly disabled. For if a man take the parts of Creation separately, and consider each by itself — as for example the sun by itself alone, and the moon apart, and again earth and air, and heat and cold, and the essence of wet and of dry, separating them from their mutual conjunction — he will certainly find that not one is sufficient for itself but all are in need of one another's assistance, and subsist by their mutual help.
For the Sun is carried round along with, and is contained in, the whole heaven, and can never go beyond his own orbit, while the moon and other stars testify to the assistance given them by the Sun: And the air is warmed by the upper air, but illuminated and made bright by the sun, not by itself. And wells, again, and rivers will never exist without the earth; but the earth is not supported upon itself, but is set upon the realm of the waters, while this again is kept in its place, being bound fast at the centre of the universe. And the sea, and the great ocean that flows outside round the whole earth, is moved and borne by winds wherever the force of the winds dashes it.
And the winds in their turn originate, not in themselves, but according to those who have written on the subject, in the air, from the burning heat and high temperature of the upper as compared with the lower air, and blow everywhere through the latter.
For as to the four elements of which the nature of bodies is composed, heat, that is, and cold, wet and dry, who is so perverted in his understanding as not to know that these things exist indeed in combination, but if separated and taken alone they tend to destroy even one another according to the prevailing power of the more abundant element? For heat is destroyed by cold if it be present in greater quantity , and cold again is put away by the power of heat, and what is dry, again, is moistened by wet, and the latter dried by the former.
But neither can the cosmic organism be God. For that would make God consist of dissimilar parts, and subject Him to possible dissolution. How then can these things be gods, seeing that they need one another's assistance? Or how is it proper to ask anything of them when they too ask help for themselves one from another? For if it is an admitted truth about God that He stands in need of nothing, but is self-sufficient and self-contained, and that in Him all things have their being, and that He ministers to all rather than they to Him, how is it right to proclaim as gods the sun and moon and other parts of creation, which are of no such kind, but which even stand in need of one another's help?
But, perhaps, if divided and taken by themselves, our opponents themselves will admit that they are dependent, the demonstration being an ocular one. But they will combine all together, as constituting a single body, and will say that the whole is God. For the whole once put together, they will no longer need external help, but the whole will be sufficient for itself and independent in all respects; so at least the would-be philosophers will tell us, only to be refuted here once more. Now this argument, not one whit less than those previously dealt with, will demonstrate their impiety coupled with great ignorance.
For if the combination of the parts makes up the whole, and the whole is combined out of the parts, then the whole consists of the parts, and each of them is a portion of the whole. But this is very far removed from the conception of God. For God is a whole and not a number of parts, and does not consist of diverse elements, but is Himself the Maker of the system of the universe. For see what impiety they utter against the Deity when they say this. For if He consists of parts, certainly it will follow that He is unlike Himself, and made up of unlike parts.
But the following point, drawn from the observation of our human body, is enough to refute them. For just as the eye is not the sense of hearing, nor is the latter a hand: The balance of powers in Nature shows that it is not God , either collectively, or in parts. And in yet another way one may refute their godlessness by the light of truth. For if God is incorporeal and invisible and intangible by nature, how do they imagine God to be a body, and worship with divine honour things which we both see with our eyes and touch with our hands? And again, if what is said of God hold true , namely, that He is almighty, and that while nothing has power over Him, He has power and rule over all, how can they who deify creation fail to see that it does not satisfy this definition of God?
For when the sun is under the earth, the earth's shadow makes his light invisible, while by day the sun hides the moon by the brilliancy of his light. And hail ofttimes injures the fruits of the earth, while fire is put out if an overflow of water take place. And spring makes winter give place, while summer will not suffer spring to outstay its proper limits, and it in its turn is forbidden by autumn to outstep its own season. If then they were gods, they ought not to be defeated and obscured by one another, but always to co-exist, and to discharge their respective functions simultaneously.
Both by night and by day the sun and the moon and the rest of the band of stars ought to shine equally together, and give their light to all, so that all things might be illumined by them. Spring and summer and autumn and winter ought to go on without alteration, and together.
The sea ought to mingle with the springs, and furnish their drink to man in common. Calms and windy blasts ought to take place at the same time. Fire and water together ought to furnish the same service to man. For no one would take any hurt from them, if they are gods, as our opponents say, and do nothing for hurt, but rather all things for good.
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But if none of these things are possible, because of their mutual incompatibility, how does it remain possible to give to these things, mutually incompatible and at strife, and unable to combine, the name of gods, or to worship them with the honours due to God? How could things naturally discordant give peace to others for their prayers , and become to them authors of concord? It is not then likely that the sun or the moon, or any other part of creation, still less statues in stone, gold, or other material, or the Zeus, Apollo, and the rest, who are the subject of the poet's fables, are true gods: But some of these are parts of creation, others have no life, others have been mere mortal men.
Therefore their worship and deification is no part of religion, but the bringing in of godlessness and of all impiety, and a sign of a wide departure from the knowledge of the one true God , namely the Father of Christ. Since then this is thus proved , and the idolatry of the Greeks is shown to be full of all ungodliness, and that its introduction has been not for the good , but for the ruin, of human life — come now, as our argument promised at the outset, let us, after having confuted error , travel the way of truth , and behold the Leader and Artificer of the Universe, the Word of the Father , in order that through Him we may apprehend the Father , and that the Greeks may know how far they have separated themselves from the truth.
The soul of man , being intellectual, can know God of itself, if it be true to its own nature. The tenets we have been speaking of have been proved to be nothing more than a false guide for life; but the way of truth will aim at reaching the real and true God. But for its knowledge and accurate comprehension, there is need of none other save of ourselves. The word of faith is within your heart. Which very thing the Saviour declared and confirmed, when He said: The kingdom of God is within you.
For having in ourselves faith , and the kingdom of God , we shall be able quickly to see and perceive the King of the Universe, the saving Word of the Father. And let not the Greeks, who worship idols , make excuses, nor let any one else simply deceive himself, professing to have no such road and therefore finding a pretext for his godlessness. For we all have set foot upon it, and have it, even if not all are willing to travel by it, but rather to swerve from it and go wrong, because of the pleasures of life which attract them from without.
And if one were to ask, what road is this?
Against the Heathen (Contra Gentiles) - St. Athanasius - Google Книги
I say that it is the soul of each one of us, and the intelligence which resides there. For by it alone can God be contemplated and perceived. Unless, as they have denied God , the impious men will repudiate having a soul ; which indeed is more plausible than the rest of what they say, for it is unlike men possessed of an intellect to deny God , its Maker and Artificer.
It is necessary then, for the sake of the simple, to show briefly that each one of mankind has a soul , and that soul rational; especially as certain of the sectaries deny this also, thinking that man is nothing more than the visible form of the body. This point once proved , they will be furnished in their own persons with a clearer proof against the idols. Proof of the existence of the rational soul. Thought is to sense as the musician to his instrument. The phenomena of dreams bear this out. Firstly, then, the rational nature of the soul is strongly confirmed by its difference from irrational creatures.
For this is why common use gives them that name, because, namely, the race of mankind is rational. Secondly, it is no ordinary proof , that man alone thinks of things external to himself, and reasons about things not actually present, and exercises reflection, and chooses by judgment the better of alternative reasonings.
For the irrational animals see only what is present, and are impelled solely by what meets their eye, even if the consequences to them are injurious, while man is not impelled toward what he sees merely, but judges by thought what he sees with his eyes. Often for example his impulses are mastered by reasoning; and his reasoning is subject to after-reflection.
And every one, if he be a friend of truth , perceives that the intelligence of mankind is distinct from the bodily senses. Hence, because it is distinct, it acts as judge of the senses, and while they apprehend their objects, the intelligence distinguishes, recollects, and shows them what is best. For the sole function of the eye is to see, of the ears to hear, of the mouth to taste, of the nostrils to apprehend smells, and of the hands to touch. But what one ought to see and hear, what one ought to touch, taste and smell, is a question beyond the senses, and belonging to the soul and to the intelligence which resides in it.
Why, the hand is able to take hold of a sword-blade, and the mouth to taste poison, but neither knows that these are injurious, unless the intellect decide. And the case, to look at it by aid of a simile, is like that of a well-fashioned lyre in the hands of a skilled musician. For as the strings of the lyre have each its proper note, high, low, or intermediate, sharp or otherwise, yet their scale is indistinguishable and their time not to be recognized, without the artist.
For then only is the scale manifest and the time right, when he that is holding the lyre strikes the strings and touches each in tune. In like manner, the senses being disposed in the body like a lyre, when the skilled intelligence presides over them, then too the soul distinguishes and knows what it is doing and how it is acting. But this alone is peculiar to mankind , and this is what is rational in the soul of mankind , by means of which it differs from the brutes, and shows that it is truly distinct from what is to be seen in the body.
Often, for example, when the body is lying on the earth, man imagines and contemplates what is in the heavens. Often when the body is quiet , and at rest and asleep, man moves inwardly, and beholds what is outside himself, travelling to other countries, walking about, meeting his acquaintances, and often by these means divining and forecasting the actions of the day.
But to what can this be due save to the rational soul , in which man thinks of and perceives things beyond himself? We add a further point to complete our demonstration for the benefit of those who shamelessly take refuge in denial of reason. How is it, that whereas the body is mortal by nature, man reasons on the things of immortality , and often, where virtue demands it, courts death? Or how, since the body lasts but for a time, does man imagine of things eternal , so as to despise what lies before him, and desire what is beyond? The body could not have spontaneously such thoughts about itself, nor could it think upon what is external to itself.
For it is mortal and lasts but for a time. And it follows that that which thinks what is opposed to the body and against its nature must be distinct in kind. What then can this be, save a rational and immortal soul? For it introduces the echo of higher things, not outside, but within the body, as the musician does in his lyre. Or how again, the eye being naturally constituted to see and the ear to hear, do they turn from some objects and choose others?
For who is it that turns away the eye from seeing? Or who shuts off the ear from hearing, its natural function? Or who often hinders the palate, to which it is natural to taste things, from its natural impulse? Or who withholds the hand from its natural activity of touching something, or turns aside the sense of smell from its normal exercise? Who is it that thus acts against the natural instincts of the body? Or how does the body, turned from its natural course, turn to the counsels of another and suffer itself to be guided at the beck of that other?
Against The Heathen
Why, these things prove simply this, that the rational soul presides over the body. For the body is not even constituted to drive itself, but it is carried at the will of another, just as a horse does not yoke himself, but is driven by his master. Hence laws for human beings to practise what is good and to abstain from evil-doing, while to the brutes evil remains unthought of and undiscerned, because they lie outside rationality and the process of understanding. I think then that the existence of a rational soul in man is proved by what we have said. Proved by 1 its being distinct from the body, 2 its being the source of motion, 3 its power to go beyond the body in imagination and thought.
But that the soul is made immortal is a further point in the Church's teaching which you must know , to show how the idols are to be overthrown. But we shall more directly arrive at a knowledge of this from what we know of the body, and from the difference between the body and the soul. For if our argument has proved it to be distinct from the body, while the body is by nature mortal, it follows that the soul is immortal , because it is not like the body. And again, if as we have shown, the soul moves the body and is not moved by other things, it follows that the movement of the soul is spontaneous, and that this spontaneous movement goes on after the body is laid aside in the earth.
If then the soul were moved by the body, it would follow that the severance of its motor would involve its death. But if the soul moves the body also, it follows all the more that it moves itself. But if moved by itself , it follows that it outlives the body. For the movement of the soul is the same thing as its life, just as, of course, we call the body alive when it moves, and say that its death takes place when it ceases moving.
But this can be made clearer once for all from the action of the soul in the body. For if even when united and coupled with the body it is not shut in or commensurate with the small dimensions of the body, but often , when the body lies in bed, not moving, but in death-like sleep, the soul keeps awake by virtue of its own power, and transcends the natural power of the body, and as though travelling away from the body while remaining in it, imagines and beholds things above the earth, and often even holds converse with the saints and angels who are above earthly and bodily existence , and approaches them in the confidence of the purity of its intelligence; shall it not all the more, when separated from the body at the time appointed by God Who coupled them together, have its knowledge of immortality more clear?
For if even when coupled with the body it lived a life outside the body, much more shall its life continue after the death of the body, and live without ceasing by reason of God Who made it thus by His own Word, our Lord Jesus Christ. For this is the reason why the soul thinks of and bears in mind things immortal and eternal , namely, because it is itself immortal.
From this time to the end of the Arian controversies the word "consubstantial" continued to be the test of Catholic orthodoxy. The formulary of faith drawn up by Hosius is known as the Nicene Creed. The term had been proposed in a non-obvious and illegitimate sense by Paul of Samosata to the Fathers at Antioch, and had been rejected by them as savouring of materialistic conceptions of the Godhead. While still a deacon under Alexander's care or early in his patriarchate as discussed below Athanasius may have also become acquainted with some of the solitaries of the Egyptian desert, and in particular Anthony the Great , whose life he is said to have written.
In about , when Athanasius was a deacon , a presbyter named Arius came into a direct conflict with Alexander of Alexandria. It appears that Arius reproached Alexander for what he felt were misguided or heretical teachings being taught by the bishop. Arius was subsequently excommunicated by Alexander, and he would begin to elicit the support of many bishops who agreed with his position. Forbes writes that when the Patriarch Alexander was on his death-bed he called Athanasius, who fled fearing he would be constrained to be made Bishop. Athanasius was thus elected, as Gregory tells us He was most unwilling to accept the dignity, for he clearly foresaw the difficulties in which it would involve him.
The clergy and people were determined to have him as their bishop, Patriarch of Alexandria, and refused to accept any excuses. He at length consented to accept a responsibility that he sought in vain to escape, and was consecrated in , when he was about thirty years of age. Athanasius' episcopate began on 9 May as the Alexandrian Council elected Athanasius to succeed the aged Alexander. That council also denounced various heresies and schisms, many of which continued to preoccupy his year-long episcopate c. Patriarch Athanasius spent over 17 years in five exiles ordered by four different Roman Emperors, not counting approximately six more incidents in which Athanasius fled Alexandria to escape people seeking to take his life.
This gave rise to the expression "Athanasius contra mundum" or "Athanasius against the world". During his first years as bishop, Athanasius visited the churches of his territory, which at that time included all of Egypt and Libya. He established contacts with the hermits and monks of the desert, including Pachomius , which proved very valuable to him over the years. Shortly thereafter, Athanasius became occupied with the theological disputes against Arians within the Byzantine Empire that would occupy much of his life. Athanasius' first problem lay with Meletius of Lycopolis and his followers, who had failed to abide by the First Council of Nicaea.
That council also anathematized Arius. Accused of mistreating Arians and Meletians, Athanasius answered those charges at a gathering of bishops in Tyre , the First Synod of Tyre , in There, Eusebius of Nicomedia and other supporters of Arius deposed Athanasius. When Athanasius reached his destination in exile in , Maximinus of Trier received him, but not as a disgraced person.
Athanasius stayed with him for two years. Paul I of Constantinople , who was banished by the Emperor Constantius, also stayed with him. Maximinus cautioned the Emperor Constans against the Arians, revealing their plots. Shortly thereafter, however, Constantine's son, the new Roman Emperor Constantius II , renewed the order for Athanasius's banishment in Athanasius went to Rome, where he was under the protection of Constans , the Emperor of the West.
Athanasius did, however, remain in contact with his people through his annual Festal Letters , in which he also announced on which date Easter would be celebrated that year. In or , nearly one hundred bishops met at Alexandria, declared in favor of Athanasius,  and vigorously rejected the criticisms of the Eusebian faction at Tyre. Plus, Pope Julius I wrote to the supporters of Arius strongly urging Athanasius's reinstatement, but that effort proved in vain. Pope Julius I called a synod in Rome in to address the matter, which proclaimed Athanasius the rightful bishop of Alexandria.
Together they set out for Sardica, Sofia. The travel was a mammoth task in itself. At this great gathering of prelates, leaders of the Church, the case of Athanasius was taken up once more, that is, Athanasius was formally questioned over misdemeanours and even murder, a man called Arsenius and using his body for magic — an absurd charge. They even produced Arsenius' severed hand. The Council was convoked for the purpose of inquiring into the charges against Athanasius and other bishops, on account of which they were deposed from their sees by the Semi-Arian Synod of Antioch , and went into exile.
It was called according to Socrates, E. One hundred and seventy six attended. Eusebian bishops objected to the admission of Athanasius and other deposed bishops to the Council, except as accused persons to answer the charges brought against them. Their objections were overridden by the orthodox bishops, about a hundred were orthodox, who were the majority. The Eusebians, seeing they had no chance of having their views carried, retired to Philoppopolis in Thrace, Philippopolis Thracia , where they held an opposition council, under the presidency of the Patriarch of Antioch, and confirmed the decrees of the Synod of Antioch.
His innocence was reaffirmed at the Council of Sardica. Two conciliar letters were prepared, one to the clergy and faithful of Alexandria, the other to the bishops of Egypt and Libya, in which the will of the Council was made known. Meanwhile, the Eusebian party had gone to Philippopolis, where they issued an anathema against Athanasius and his supporters.
The persecution against the orthodox party broke out with renewed vigour, and Constantius was induced to prepare drastic measures against Athanasius and the priests who were devoted to him. Orders were given that if the Saint attempt to re-enter his see, he should be put to death.
Athanasius, accordingly, withdrew from Sardica to Naissus in Mysia, where he celebrated the Easter festival of the year Eastern Bishop Gregory of Cappadocia died, probably of violence in June of Gregory, an Arian bishop, had taken over the See of Alexandria. The emissary to the Emperor Constantius sent by the bishops of the Sardica Council to report the finding of the Council, who had been met at first with most insulting treatment, now received a favourable hearing. Constantius was forced to reconsider his decision, owing to a threatening letter from his brother Constans and the uncertain conditions of affairs on the Persian border, and he accordingly made up his mind to yield.
But three separate letters were needed to overcome the natural hesitation of Athanasius. He was accorded a gracious interview by the Emperor, and sent back to his See in triumph, and began his memorable ten years of peace, which lasted to the third exile, Pope Julius died in April , and was succeeded by Liberius.
For two years Liberius had been favourable to the cause of Athanasius; but driven at last into exile, he was induced to sign an ambiguous formula, from which the great Nicene text, the "homoousion", had been studiously omitted. In a council was held at Milan, where in spite of the vigorous opposition of a handful of loyal prelates among the Western bishops, a fourth condemnation of Athanasius was announced to the world.
With his friends scattered, the saintly Hosius in exile, and Pope Liberius denounced as acquiescing in Arian formularies, Athanasius could hardly hope to escape. On the night of 8 February , while engaged in services in the Church of St. Thomas, a band of armed men burst in to secure his arrest. It was the beginning of his third exile.
By Constantius' order, the sole ruler of The Roman Empire at the death of his brother Constans, the Council of Arles in , was held, which was presided over by Vincent, Bishop of Capua , in the name of Pope Liberius. The fathers terrified of the threats of the Emperor, an avowed Arian, they consented to the condemnation of Athanasius.
The Pope refused to accept their decision, and requested the Emperor to hold another Council, in which the charges against Athanasius could be freely investigated. To this Constantius consented, for he felt able to control the Council in Milan. Three hundred bishops assembled in Milan, most from the West, only a few from the East, in They met in the Church of Milan. Shortly, the Emperor ordered them to a hall in the Imperial Palace, thus ending any free debate.
He presented an Arian formula of faith for their acceptance. He threatened any who refused with exile and death. All, with the exception of Dionysius bishop of Milan , and the two Papal Legates, viz. Those who refused were sent into exile. The decrees were forwarded to the Pope for approval, but were rejected, because of the violence to which the bishops were subjected. Through the influence of the Eusebian faction at Constantinople, an Arian bishop, George of Cappadocia , was now appointed to rule the see of Alexandria.
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Athanasius, after remaining some days in the neighbourhood of the city, finally withdrew into the desert of Upper Egypt , where he remained for a period of six years, living the life of the monks, devoting himself to the composition of a group of writings; "Apology to Constantius", the "Apology for his Flight", the "Letter to the Monks", and the "History of the Arians". Constantius, renewing his previous policies favoring the Arians, banished Athanasius from Alexandria once again. This was followed, in , by an attempt to arrest Athanasius during a vigil service. During this period, Athanasius completed his work Four Orations against the Arians and defended his own recent conduct in the Apology to Constantius and Apology for His Flight.
Constantius' persistence in his opposition to Athanasius, combined with reports Athanasius received about the persecution of non-Arians by the new Arian bishop George of Laodicea , prompted Athanasius to write his more emotional History of the Arians , in which he described Constantius as a precursor of the Antichrist.
Constantius ordered Liberius into exile in giving him three days to comply. He was ordered into banishment to Beroea , in Thrace. He sent expensive presents if he were to accept the Arian position, which Liberius refused. He sent him five hundred pieces of gold "to bear his charges" which Liberius refused, saying he might bestow them on his flatters; as he did also a like present from the empress, bidding the messenger learn to believe in Christ, and not to persecute the Church of God. Attempts were made to leave the presents in The Church, but Liberius threw them out. Constantius hereupon sent for him under a strict guard to Milan, where in a conference recorded by Theodore, he boldly told Constantius that Athanasius had been acquitted at Sardica, and his enemies proved calumniators see: The emperor was reduced to silence on every article, but being the more out of patience, ordered him into banishment.
Liberius went into exile. Constantius, after two years went to Rome to celebrate the twentieth year of his reign. The ladies joined in a petition to him that he would restore Liberius. He assented, upon condition that he should comply with the bishops, then, at court. He subscribed the condemnation of Athanasius, and a confession or creed which had been framed by the Arians at Sirmium. And he no sooner had recovered his see that he declared himself for the Creed of Niceae , as Theodoret testifies. So did the bishops at his court. Athanasius stuck by the orthodox creed.
The Arians sought the approval of an Ecumenical Council. They sought to hold two councils.
Against the Heathen
Constantius, summoned the bishops of the East to meet at Seleucia in Isauria , and those of the West to Rimini in Italy. A preliminary conference was held by the Arians at Sirmium , to agree a formula of faith. A "Homoeon" creed was adopted, declaring The Son to be "like the Father". The two met in autumn of At Seleucia, one hundred and fifty bishops, of which one hundred and five were semi-Arian. The semi-Arians refused to accept anything less than the "Homoiousion", see: Homoiousian , formulary of faith. The Imperial Prefect was obliged to disband, without agreeing on any creed.
Acacius, the leader of the "Homoean" party went to Constantinople, where the Sirmian formulary of faith was approved by the "Home Synod", consisted of those bishops who happened to be present at the Court for the time , and a decree of deposition issued against the leaders of the semi-Arians. At Rimini were over four hundred of which eighty were Arian, the rest were orthodox. The orthodox fathers refused to accept any creed but the Nicene, while the others were equally in favour of the Sirmian.
Each party sent a deputation to the Emperor to say there was no probability to agreement, and asked for the bishops to return to their dioceses. For the purpose of wearing-down the orthodox bishops; Sulpitius Severius says , Constantius delayed his answer for several months, and finally prevailed on them to accept the Sirmian creed.