Epilogue

Athanasius never forgot the controversy surrounding his election in 328. In order to prevent another disputed election after his own death, he chose a successor and consecrated him at the end of April 373, five days before he died {Hist. ac. 5.14).1 No sooner was Athanasius dead than his choice was ratified by his clergy, his congregation, and the worthies of the city of Alexandria, who elected Peter as their new bishop. But the guarantee of security which Athanasius had effectively enjoyed since 366 did not extend to his successor. As soon as the new bishop was enthroned, the prefect surrounded the church and demanded that Peter come out. But Peter had learned from the example of his predecessor a generation earlier. Although it seems that Peter was arrested, he soon escaped from custody, boarded a ship, and, like Athanasius in 339, sailed to Rome, where he was confident of the support of the bishop.2 Damasus, who had become bishop of Rome in 366 in an election contested with extreme bitterness and violence,3 gave him a warm welcome. After his arrival in Rome, again like Athanasius in 339, Peter composed an account of his expulsion from Alexandria, which survives (though not complete) as a long quotation in Theodoretus' Ecclesiastical History* With greater plausibility than his predecessor forty-four years earlier, Peter presented his own cause as the cause of endangered orthodoxy, and he gave specific details of his expulsion which, even when allowance is made for exaggeration, indicate that great violence was also used in this attempt to install the emperor's candidate as bishop of Alexandria.

The prefect Palladius, who was a pagan and a worshipper of idols, gathered a crowd and attacked the Church of Theonas. Holy virgins were stripped and beaten with clubs: many were struck on the head and killed, and their bodies were denied proper burial. Lucius entered the city, a man who regarded the position of bishop as a secular honor to be bought with gold, a man who had not been 'elected by a council of orthodox bishops, by the vote of true clergy, or at the insistence of the laity, as the laws of the church prescribe.' He was not escorted by bishops, priests, deacons, laymen, or monks, but by two thoroughly disreputable characters. Euzoius, the Arian bishop of Antioch since 360, had been condemned at Nicaea in 325 together with Arius, while he was still a deacon in Alexandria. Magnus, the comes sacrarum largitionum, had burned the main church in Berytus in the reign of Julian, and had subsequently been compelled to rebuild it by Jovian, who spared him from the execution which his crime merited. In Alexandria in 373, Magnus assembled nineteen priests and deacons as if they were guilty of a criminal offense and pressured them to accept Lucius and his homoean creed. When they refused and reiterated their adherence to the creed of Nicaea, he imprisoned (and perhaps tortured) them; when they persisted, he brought them before a crowd of pagans and Jews (so Peter alleges) close by the harbor; when they refused yet again, he deported them to Helipolis in Phoenicia, which was still heavily pagan.

The prefect Palladius forbade the display of sympathy for the exiles: those who lamented their fate, twenty-four in number, including the deacon who had brought letters of communion and comfort from Damasus in Rome, were arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and finally sent to the mines of Phaeno or the quarries of Proconnesus. Repression extended beyond Alexandria itself into Egypt: Magnus sentenced bishops who refused to accept Lucius to serve in their local city councils, and eleven bishops who resisted with exceptional determination were exiled to the Jewish city of Diocaesarea in Galilee.5 Action was also taken against the monks who supported Athanasius and his chosen successor,6 and the repression probably continued for some time. For it is reported that Flavius Eutolmius Tatianus, who between 367 and 370 had been prefect of Egypt, then the first praefectus Augustalis of the Egyptian diocese, exiled bishops and tortured and burned priests, deacons, and monks after the death of Athanasius— presumably when he replaced Magnus as comes sacrarum largitionum?

The bishop of Rome was sympathetic. But effective action depended on the western emperor, and either Valentinian refused to intervene or his attitude was so well known that Damasus and Peter did not think it worthwhile to make a formal request. Lucius remained in Alexandria with the support of the eastern imperial administration until a political and military emergency enabled Peter to return. In the spring of 378 Valens left Antioch to confront the Goths. Almost immediately, Peter returned to Alexandria with a letter from Damasus which reaffirmed the creed of Nicaea and confirmed him as the rightful bishop of the city. His supporters reinstated him and expelled Lucius, who betook himself to Constantinople in search of imperial support.8 The issue was decided by the defeat and death of Valens at the Battle of Adrianople on 9 August. The senior surviving emperor Gratian appointed the Spaniard Theodosius magister militum to command Roman forces in the Balkans, and on 19 January 379 Theodosius became Augustus and ruler of the East. As a westerner, Theodosius was a firm supporter of the creed of Nicaea, and he soon acted to make

Nicene orthodoxy the official religion of the eastern Roman Empire.

A general edict of 27 February 380 declared the emperors' desire that everyone abide in the religion given of old by the apostle Peter to the people of Rome and now preserved by Damasus and by Peter, the bishop of Alexandria and a man of apostolic sanctity. The edict defines catholic Christians as those who believe in the equal divinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and denounces those who do not as disrespectful and insane heretics who deserve punishment.9 Theodosius was consistent and thorough in his religious policies. The Council of Constantinople in 381 officially reaffirmed the creed of Nicaea, the emperor enshrined its decisions in law,10 and he subjected Christians who did not accept the creed of Nicaea and its watchword homoousios to legal disabilities.11 As has long been recognised, these events mark the transition from one distinctive epoch in the history of the Christian church and the Roman Empire to another—the age of Theodosius had replaced the Constantinian empire.

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