The Elder Statesman

When athanasius was expelled from his see in February 356, he was an isolated figure, with few supporters in the East apart from his devoted following within Egypt. When he returned to Alexandria in February 362, the theological climate of the East had changed completely, and with it Athanasius1 position in the eastern church. Between 356 and 362 the exiled bishop was transformed from a proud prelate with a dubious reputation into an elder statesman renowned for his heroic defense of Nicene orthodoxy. In the autumn of 359, his On the Councils of Ariminum and Seleucia signaled a fundamental change of attitude, as Athanasius decided to ally himself with the theologians of Asia Minor, whom for twenty years he had stigmatised as 'Arians,' 'Arian fanatics,' and the like.1 They held conservative views and approved of the successive attempts by eastern councils to define a doctrinal via media from the 'Dedication Council' of 341 to the Council of Sirmium a decade latei;2 and those among them who attended the councils which formulated creeds had condemned Athanasius time after time, not only because of his intransigent rejection of their theology, but also because they genuinely (and with good reason) believed that he was guilty of using violence and intimidation to control the Egyptian church.

It must remain a matter of speculation what would have been Athanasius' fate had Constantius continued to rule instead of succumbing to illness in November 361. The military odds were in favor of the eastern emperor: he might well have defeated Julian and then secured empire-wide acceptance of the homoean creed of 359/60 for a period of years. In the event, however, the new official creed of 360 lost its imperial patron within two years, and Athanasius was allowed to return to Alexandria as bishop of the city by a pagan emperor who soon turned to persecuting him—and thus established even more firmly his reputation as a steadfast defender of embattled orthodoxy.

Julian, who was appointed Caesar on 6 November 355 and sent at once to Gaul, cannot have failed to notice how unpopular was Constantius' policy of requiring bishops to accept the decisions of the Councils of Sirmium, Aries, and Milan. Moreover, a cryptic remark later made by Hilary of Poitiers appears to imply that Julian expressed some sympathy for the victims of the imperial policies that he was obliged to enforce. In January 360 Hilary protested to Constantius that he had been wrongly deposed, and claimed that Julian 'suffered more insult from evil men in the matter of my exile than I did injury.'3 Hilary appears to mean that his ecclesiastical enemies abused Julian for not treating him with sufficient harshness or rigor when he enforced his deposition by the Council of Baeterrae by exiling him to Phrygia.4 On a priori grounds, it is not fanciful to imagine Julian looking for future allies against the senior emperor long before he was proclaimed Augustus.5

After the proclamation in the early months of 360, Julian still kept up the pretense of being a Christian. Ammianus notes both the fact and its motivation:

So that he might induce everyone to support him with no hindrance, he pretended adherence to the Christian cult, which he had long ago secretly abandoned, engaging with a few who shared the secret in divination, augury, and everything else which the worshippers of the gods have always done. And so that this should be concealed for the meanwhile, on the festival day which the Christians celebrate in January and call Epiphany, he proceeded to their church and departed after praying to the divine power in the normal fashion.6

Since no usurper who wished to displace a Christian emperor could succeed if he were a known pagan, Julian maintained an outward show of Christianity as long as Constantius lived. But what stance should a usurper adopt in ecclesiastical politics? Thar depended on the circumstances of the moment, and in 360/1 it was clear where Julian's advantage lay. At the Council of Ariminum, the majority of western bishops had opposed Constantius' attempts to secure their acceptance of an eastern homocan creed.7 By his proclamation as Augustus, Julian declared his political independence of Constantius. Accordingly, his subjects could expect him to abandon Constantius' most unpopular policies. Political interest, perhaps even political necessity, thus dictated that Julian pose as a champion of religious freedom, specifically of the freedom of western bishops to adhere to the Nicene creed. Moreover, there is unimpeachable (if indirect) evidence that in 360 and 361 Julian wooed the political support of Christians who were ecclesiastical opponents of Constantius.8

Hilary of Poitiers returned to the West, apparently in the spring of 360 and without the permission of Constantius.9 Probably before the end of 360, a council of bishops met at Paris, with Hilary present. The Gallic bishops addressed a synodical letter to 'all the eastern bishops in various provinces,' from whom Hilary had brought a letter. The Gallic bishops thank God for their own libera tion from association with heresy and lament that so many bishops had been compelled to avoid the term ousia 'under the authority of your name* because East and West were divided. They defend the use of the term homoousios as avoiding Sabellianism while excluding Arianism. The fact that the eastern letter avoids the term ousia shows that its writers have been deceived, that the bishops who went from Ariminum to Constantinople were duped, since Hilary reports that they could not be driven to such blasphemy. Accordingly, the council excommunicated Auxentius, Ursacius, Valens, Gaius, Megasius, and Justinus, condemned all the blasphemies subjoined to the eastern letter, condemned all those who had replaced exiled bishops, and excommunicated anyone in Gaul who objected to their decisions. The letter closes by reiterating Gallic adherence to the homoousion and by stating that Saturninus of Aries has been deposed by all the bishops of Gaul for crimes in the past and for recent impiety.10

The letter is not straightforward, since it appears to envisage two sets of addresses. The Gallic bishops often express themselves as if writing to friends— who must be the bishops of Asia Minor whom Hilary regarded as allies. Yet it seems probable that the letter which Hilary brought is the synodical letter of the Council of Constantinople—and hence that the Gallic bishops are trying to win back eastern bishops from the new official orthodoxy. For in 360 and 361, by means of councils of bishops, Hilary 'condemned the decisions made at Ariminum and restored the faith of the churches to its original state of purity.'11 Julian allowed the Gallic bishops to meet in Paris, and perhaps actively encouraged them to do so.12 It was, moreover, probably in 360 that he first issued an edict allowing bishops exiled by Constantius to return to their cities. This edict is normally dated to the period after Constantius' death on the very reasonable grounds that it reached Alexandria on 8 February 362 and was published there on the following day, whereas the edict restoring pagan temples, which Julian certainly issued after Constantius' death, was published in Alexandria on 4 February (Hist. ac. 3.1/2).13 But it is hard to see what advantages such a policy could bring Julian after he had become sole emperor. Why should he now wish to restore Athanasius to Alexandria when he must have known how effectively he had resisted Constantius? On the other hand, the policy made perfect sense before November 361, for the exiled bishops, both eastern and western, were enemies of his enemy Constantius. The delay in publishing the edict can be explained. For the document which arrived in Alexandria on 8 February was not a copy of the imperial edict itself, but a letter from the comes Orientis transmitting its contents. Now the comes Orientis was an appointee of Constantius who went on to serve the Arian Valens as praetorian prefect of the East for eight years: Domitius Modestus was a prudent and cautious man who inay have hesitated before proclaiming an edict at variance with the official paganism of the new ruler of the East.14

As soon as Constantius was dead, Julian ordered his army to sacrifice to the old gods. He canceled all the privileges granted to Christians and the Christian church by Constantine and his sons, and embarked upon a systematic attempt to undo the Constantinian reformation. His religious policy had three main aspects. First, Christians were to be subjected to legal disabilities, but not persecuted outright, since Julian desired to debilitate the church without giving it more martyrs.15 Second, pagans were to benefit from 'affirmative action/ while paganism as an entity was to be organised along Christian lines as a counter-church. And third, the Jews were to be allowed to live in Jerusalem again and have a temple there in which to worship.16 But Julian's policy of harassment or covert persecution was doomed to be ineffectual. The Christian church had long been too powerful for the Roman government to suppress it—as Galerius and Maximinus had learned to their cost at the beginning of the fourth century.17 The ineffectiveness of Julian's attempt to subvert Christianity is perhaps most clearly displayed in his dealings with Alexandria.

George reentered Alexandria on 26 November 361. His timing was unfortunate. Four days later, news came of Constantius' death, and he was imprisoned. A month later, on 24 December, a mob dragged him out of prison and lynched him (Hist. ac. 2.8-10). On receipt of the news, Julian jumped to the conclusion that George had been murdered by pagans. He accordingly wrote the city a letter of mild rebuke for killing George, 'the enemy of the gods,' rather than leaving him to be tried and suitably punished. The letter emphasises that the Alexandrians are Greeks and devotees of Serapis, who will in future show themselves worthy of their Greek—in other words, their pagan—character.'8 Julian was sadly deluded about the Hellenism of Alexandria, and also probably about the identity of George's murderers. George's ecclesiastical opponents had as much cause to attack him as the pagans whose shrines he had seized. Since they had forced George to flee the city in 358 and had then taken over the churches from his supporters (Hist. ac. 2.3/4), it seems highly unlikely that they were mere spectators when he was killed.

Athanasius was ready to take advantage of the edict which allowed bishops exiled under Constantius to return. On 21 February 362, twelve days after the prefect Gerontius published it in Alexandria, he reentered the city (Hist. ac. 3.3) and within a few weeks presided over a small but important council of bishops. Eusebius of Vercellae and Lucifer of Caralis were in exile together in the Thebaid and also ready to act. Eusebius came to Alexandria, conferred with Athanasius, and played a prominent role in the council.19 The hot-headed Lucifer preferred to go straight to Antioch, where he took the precipitate step of consecrating Paulinus as bishop of the followers of Eustathius, who were in schism not only with the recently appointed homoean bishop Euzoius, but also with the followers of Meletius, who, having been deposed for Nicene tendencies in 360, was also entitled to return to the city under the terms of Julian's edict. Meletius reached Antioch before Lucifer and his supporters had already taken possession of the 'old church':20 hence the latter's hast)' consecration of Paulinus exacerbated existing dissensions and divided the pro-Nicene party in the church of

Antioch into two mutually hostile factions. Athanasius and Eusebius, in contrast, were determined to restore peace, concord, and unity among all who could accept the creed of Nicaea.21

The Council of Alexandria met in the spring of 362, probably shortly after Easter, which fell on 31 March. Two primary documents have survived to illuminate its proceedings. The first, transmitted under the title EpistuLi Catholica, appears to be the opening section of the synodical letter of the council: it long languished forgotten among the numerous Athanasian spuria, but has recently been recognised as a genuine document of great historical significance.22 The second document is the so-called Tomus ad Antiochenos, which was produced by a small sub-committee after the council in an attempt to persuade the two pro-Nicene groups in the church of Antioch to lay aside their quarrel.23

Most of the bishops who attended the Council of Alexandria came inevitably from Egypt and Libya. But the presence of Eusebius of Vercellae, of the Arabian bishop Asterius, and of two deacons representing Lucifer made it much more than a mere provincial council. Its synodical letter was composed jointly by Athanasius and Eusebius—or, to be more precise, Athanasius produced the final version from a draft which Eusebius had prepared before he reached Alexandria.24 Its tenor is pacific, its aim reconciliation. The letter alludes to the violence suffered by the orthodox in the recent past, but it presents the current situation in the best possible light and propounds a minimal interpretation of orthodoxy. Although the corruption of Arianism has long been present, nevertheless the vast majority of both ordinary Christians and bishops retain the true apostolic faith unsullied. Even if both laity and bishops have been constrained by force or misled with deceptive words, they can now redeem themselves merely by acknowledging the truth of a few basic propositions. These are set out in the broadest of terms. Since it must be accepted 'that as God the Son of God cannot be a creation of God and that the Holy Spirit cannot be reckoned among what is created,5 for only divine incarnation, not the presence on earth of a creature or a slave, can make men divine or into God's temples, what every Christian needs for salvation can be stated briefly and succinctly:

The badge of our faith [is]: the Trinity [is] of one essence (homoousios)>15 true God who became man of Mary. Whoever does not agree, let him be anathema! For this is what the document of the great Council of Nicaea means: that the Son is of one essence with the Father, and that the Spirit is glorified [equally] with the Father and the Son; that as true God the Son of God became flesh, suffered, rose again, ascended into heaven, and will come as judge of the living and the dead, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen!26

The Epistula Catholica was designed for an empire-wide audience. The version of which a part survives was addressed to the orthodox bishops of Syria, Cilicia, Phoenice, and Arabia, and Eusebius was charged with taking a letter identical in content to the West.27 But before he departed, he subscribed his name to the so-called Tomus ad Antiochenos, which Atbanasius drew up in the name of himself and other bishops, including Eusebius and Asterius, who met after the main council in an attempt to solve the schism in the church of Antioch.

The Tomus has the same general aim as the Epistula Catholica, but it addresses itself specifically to the situation in Antioch, where it was to be read aloud with both Eustathians and Meletians present in the hope that those who desired peace could ensure that the Lord would be glorified by all together.28 Hence Athanasius advances a careful (but not carefully constructed) argument which seeks throughout to persuade the followers of Eustathius to enter into communion with the newly returned Meletius and his much larger congregation.29 The letter praises fellowship, peace, and concord, and voices a prayer that 'if someone still seems to be associating with the Arians, he may abandon their madness, so that everyone everywhere will in future say "One Lord, one faith" (Ephesians 4.5).'30 And in order to secure that end, the representatives of the council who are being sent to Antioch will join both the congregation in the 'old church' and former Arians with Paulinus and his congregation by requiring of all only that they abjure the heresy of Arius, accept the creed of the holy fathers at Nicaea, and anathematise those who say that the Holy Spirit is a creature and distinct from the essence (ousia) of Christ, and also anathematise the heretical ideas of Sabellius, Paul of Samosata, Valentinus, Basilides, and Mani.31 Moreover, since the theological statement which the western bishops at Serdica in 343 had discussed was known in Antioch, Athanasius deemed it necessary to emphasise that it had been rejected by the council.32 For the central contention of the whole document is that acceptance of the creed of Nicaea as the sole authoritative creed is both necessary and sufficient to restore harmony to the church.33

The Tomus ad Antiochenos has the form of a letter written in the name of Athanasius, Eusebius, Asterius, and some seventeen Egyptian bishops to Eusebius, Lucifer Asterius, and two Syrian bishops, Cymatius of Paltus and Anatolius of Beroea. The apparent oddity of the fact that Eusebius and Asterius are both writers and recipients of the letter is easily explicable: they were deputed to take it to Antioch, read it aloud, and attempt to reconcile the dissident factions.34 The transmitted form of the Tomus reveals what happened to it after Athanasius had composed it. First, in Alexandria, it was duly subscribed by the bishops whose names stand in its heading; in addition, two deacons sent by Lucifer and two by Paulinus added their names in the presence of monks sent by Apollinaris. Moreover Eusebius appended a very brief doctrinal statement in Latin signifying his agreement with the preceding document, while Asterius added a single sentence to the same effect.35 Then, in Antioch, Paulinus added a paragraph in which he accepted the trinitarian theology of the Epistula Catholica and the Tomus ad Antiochenos and uttered the required anathemas.36

In Antioch, however; events had moved beyond the situation which the

Council of Alexandria sought to remedy: Eusebius arrived to find that Lucifer had already consecrated Paulinus as the pro-Nicene bishop of Antioch, and as a result he was totally unable to reconcile the two factions. Hence he left for the West with his mission in Antioch unfulfilled, while Lucifer, enraged that Eusebius refused to recognise his consecration of Paulinus, tried to wriggle out of the consequences of his deputies' acceptance of the decisions of the Council of Alexandria, then returned home to Sardinia, where he soon died after founding a schismatic sect of Luciferians.37 In Antioch itself, Meletius controlled the major churches and was widely recognised as the legitimate bishop of the city by other bishops who attended councils under his presidency.38 Athanasius, however, refused until his death to enter into communion with Meletius, even when Basil of Caesarea pressed him to do so in order to strengthen the pro-Nicene forces with the churches of Syria and Asia Minor.39

The importance of the Council of Alexandria should not be measured by its failure to solve the local problems of the church of Antioch. When Eusebius reached Italy, he entered into alliance with Hilary of Poitiers and Liberius of Rome to undo all the consequences of the western bishops' acceptance of the homoean creed at Ariminum three years earlier.40 The Council of Alexandria was not an isolated phenomenon. A letter of Athanasius discloses that similar councils were held in 362 in Greece, Spain, and Gaul: those councils, like the Council of Alexandria, decided to pardon those who had fallen and championed impiety, provided that they repented, though excluding them from the clergy, and both to pardon and to acknowledge as clergy those who had not voluntarily furthered the course of impiety, but had acquiesced as a result of necessity and violence, provided that they were able to explain their actions satisfactorily.41

Julian realised too late that his subversion of homoean predominance in the East was not weakening the Christian church as he hoped, but strengthening those parts of it which had shown themselves most capable of resisting imperial power. Accordingly, he decided on a change of policy. On 24 October 362, the philosopher Pythiodorus, a native of Thebes, arrived in Alexandria bringing with him an edict from the emperor which ordered Athanasius to leave the city [Hist ac. 3.4; lrtdex 35).42 Julian explained that he had allowed the bishops exiled by Constantius to return to their cities, not to their churches: since Athanasius had reoccupied his episcopal throne, and this was displeasing to the pious people of Alexandria, he must leave as soon as the emperor's letter arrived.43

Athanasius did not leave. On the contrary, the local senate submitted a petition requesting that he be allowed to remain. In reply, Julian banished Athanasius not only from Alexandria but from the whole of Egypt, and he wrote to the prefect Ecdicius scolding him for his silence in the matter of Athanasius and commanding him to expel the bishop from Egypt by 1 December. A querulous subscription added in the emperor's own hand to the dictated letter betrays his impotent fanaticism:

It vexes me greatly to be disobeyed. By all the gods, there is nothing I should rather see, or rather hear of as done by you, than that Athanasius has been driven out of Egypt. The infamous fellow! He has had the effrontery to baptise Greek women married to prominent citizens in my reign! Let him be hunted down!44

Athanasius was not perturbed. He dismissed the imminent persecution by Julian as 'a small cloud which will soon pass,'45 went up river to the Thebaid (Index 35), and again avoided capture by the soldiers sent to arrest him.46 Julian's death in Persia soon provided him with yet another proof that God intervened actively in human affairs to protect both true faith and Athanasius himself.

As soon as he learned of Julian's death, Athanasius returned secretly to Alexandria by night, and at once set off to the imperial court.47 The death of Julian had been announced in Alexandria by the prefect Ecdicius on 19 August 363 (Hist, ac. 4.1). On 6 September Athanasius embarked and left Egypt to seek an audience with the new emperor, whom he reached before Jovian left Hierapolis (Index 35), probably in early October.48 The emperor received Athanasius with honor and gave him the vital document which past experience warned him he might need for his own protection (Hist. ac. 4.4): a letter which complimented him on his sufferings for orthodoxy and instructed him to return to his episcopal duties in Alexandria.49 Other bishops too approached Jovian, even before Athanasius. The allies of Macedonius asked to be restored to the sees of which anomoeans had dispossessed them. The bishops Basil of Ancyra, Silvanus of Tarsus, Sophronius of Pompeiopolis, Pasinicus of Zela, Leontius of Comana, Callicrates of Claudiopolis, and Theophilus of Castabala presented the petition. Jovian declined to grant their request, observing that he hated rivalry, but loved and respected those who preached concord within the Christian church.50

What Jovian meant by concord became clear when he arrived in Antioch and showed favor to Mcletius. Under Meletius' presidency a council was held at Antioch which drew up a letter to the emperor. Recalling not only Jovian's desire for peace and concord within the church, but also his insistence on a creed to embody this unity, the assembled bishops declared that they accepted the Nicene creed. They explained, however, that by homoousios the fathers at Nicaea had meant that the Son was 'begotten from the essence of the Father,' and that he was Mike the Father in essence' (that word not being used in the normal Greek sense). They condemned both Arius and the anomoeans, and quoted the creed of Nicaea. The signatories of the letter comprised Meletius, Eusebius of Samosata, Titus of Bostra, and another twenty-four bishops from Oriens and Asia Minor.51

Athanasius may have felt obliged to make a gesture of friendship toward Meletius, but there was no reconciliation, and the aims of the Tomus ad Antiochenes remained unfulfilled.52 Athanasius acted independently. He pre sented to the emperor, in response (or so at least he alleged) to his request for a brief statement of catholic doctrine, a letter which had been drawn up by a hastily convened council of bishops in Alexandria before he left.53 It emphasises the Nicene creed as the touchstone and guarantee of orthodoxy. The holy fathers at Nicaea had condemned Arius and promulgated an orthodox creed. That creed now needs to be reiterated because some who wish to renew the Arian heresy have set it aside: while pretending to confess the creed, they deny it because they interpret away the term homoousios and blaspheme against the Holy Spirit by saying that the Holy Spirit is a creature and came into existence through the agency of the Son.

Athanasius must have remained in Antioch for some time, since he did not reenter Alexandria until 14 February (Hist. ac. 4.4). jovian left Antioch in early November, but before he departed, he repulsed the enemies of the bishop. A single page has survived in Coptic translation of a letter which Athanasius wrote from Antioch to his Alexandrian congregation. Athanasius appears to allude to the Council of Antioch: he urges his congregation not to ridicule a document which his erstwhile enemies may publish and to let bygones be bygones. The emperor has shown himself well disposed toward Athanasius despite the complaints which 'Lucius, Berenicianus, and the other Arians' made in Antioch on 30 October 363.54

A full account of these complaints and of the emperor's reaction to them has been preserved in a documentary or quasi-documentary form in the corpus of Athanasius' apologetical writings.55 Lucius, formerly a priest of George in Alexandria, had been elected as George's successor, and was recognised outside Egypt by Eudoxius of Constantinople, Theodorus, Sophronius, Euzoius, and Hilarius.56 Lucius too was now in Antioch, leading a group of Alexandrians with complaints against Athanasius. They approached the emperor as he rode out of the city to military exercises. He refused to listen. They then approached Jovian a second time, but he brushed aside as obsolete accusations which were ten, twenty, or even thirty years old. On the third occasion, Jovian listened to two representatives from each side. But he still refused to hear ill of Athanasius, whose orthodoxy he had himself verified. Moreover, he asserted Athanasius' right to prevent his opponents from assembling to worship, since they were sectarians and heretics. Significantly, the Arians complained that Athanasius had seized church property (in other words their churches), and one of their number, who was a lawyer, stated that the catholicus had seized his houses at Athanasius' instigation. Jovian rebuffed the petitioners again. Later the same day, when Lucius approached the emperor yet again as he returned to the palace, he was rebuffed yet again at the porch of the palace, and the emperor punished the court eunuchs who petitioned him to grant the Arians an audience.

After he left Antioch, Jovian crossed Asia Minor and traveled toward Constantinople, but died in Bithynia of accidental suffocation during the night of 16/7 February 364.57 A few days later, the army acclaimed as emperor the Pannonian officer Valentinian, who, on 28 March, after pressure from his officers and men, appointed his younger brother Valens joint Augustus with him.58 The two brothers reorganised the administration of the empire, then, on 4 August at Sirmium, divided the empire between them and parted. Valentinian took the western provinces and most of the Balkans, Valens the East. This division of the Roman Empire closely resembled the earlier division between Constans and Constantius, and the ecclesiastical politics of the decade from 365 to 375 show a strong similarity to those of the 340s. There is, however, one striking and fundamental difference between the two periods: the western emperor Valentinian gave no encouragement or support to eastern bishops who opposed his brother's ecclesiastical policies when they appealed for western assistance in combating heresy in the East.

Valens was later remembered as an 'Arian' emperor who persecuted the Christian church fiercely, and the orthodox ecclesiastical historians of the fifth century duly repeat tales of atrocities—eighty clerics burned on a ship in the Gulf of Astacus near Nicomedia and a massacre at Edessa supervised by the praetorian prefect.59 But those stories have long (and rightly) been regarded with extreme suspicion: the early and reliable evidence fails to document any real 'persecution' except in Egypt.60 Valens reinstituted the homoean creed of 360 as the official creed of the Roman Empire in the East, but, unlike Constantius, he did not insist that all bishops subscribe to it in order to retain their sees, merely that they refrain from repudiating or attacking it.61 Hence a resolute and crafty opponent like Basil, who became bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia in 370, was able to build up a strong opposition by ensuring the ordination of priests and the election of bishops who accepted the Nicene creed—provided that both he and they took care not to condemn the Council of Constantinople and its creed.62

As the emperors left Constantinople in the spring of 364, a council of bishops from Bithynia and the region of the Hellespont who accepted the term homoousios sent Hypatianus, the bishop of Heraclea, to the emperors to request permission to meet 'for the correction of doctrine.' Valentinian replied that as a layman he had no right to an opinion on such matters, but the bishops whose concern they were might gather wherever they wished. The Hellespontine bishops then met at Lampsacus and declared the decisions of the Council of Constantinople invalid: they reaffirmed the creed of the 'Dedication Council' of 341 and the formula that the Son is like the Father in essence, they reinstated the bishops deposed in 360, and they wrote to all the eastern churches to that effect. When Valens learned of their decisions, he invited them to be reconciled with Eudoxius, and when they refused, he exiled them.63

In the following year, a series of councils met on the south coast of Asia Minor, at Smyrna, in Pisidia, in Isauria, in Pamphylia and Lycia, and decided to send Eustathius of Sebasteia, Silvanus of Tarsus, and Theophilus of Castabala as envoys to the western emperor Valentinian with letters to Liberius and the western bishops generally asking for their aid in the defense of orthodox)'. When the envoys arrived in Italy, Valentinian had already departed for Gaul: they gave up any attempt to see him, and simply presented the letters of the councils and a briefer communication of their own to the bishop of Rome. They protested that they and the bishops who had met at Lampsacus, Smyrna, and elsewhere were defending the orthodox faith of the catholic church as defined by the three hundred and eighteen bishops at Nicaea against the insane attacks of heretics. Liberius received the envoys into communion and gave them a long letter in his name and in that of the western bishops in general addressed to some sixty-six named bishops and 'all the orthodox bishops in the East.'

The bishop of Rome complimented the eastern bishops on their adherence to the creed of Nicaea, the pure 'catholic and apostolic faith' which the West also upheld, and explained that the western bishops in 359 had repudiated it only temporarily at the Council of Ariminum because of deception and compulsion by secular power: the recipients of the letter, therefore, should publicise the fact that the West was now firm in its repudiation of the creed of Ariminum (that is, of the official homoean creed of the East) and of all the blasphemies of Arius. The envoys sailed back to the East by way of Sicily, where a provincial council gave them a similar letter, and presented the letters which they had received in the West to a council at Tyana. This council endorsed the decisions of the earlier Asian councils, welcomed the agreement of the western bishops, and circulated a synodical letter which invited bishops elsewhere in the East both to signify their agreement in writing and to gather on a stated date in Tarsus. This projected large eastern council at Tarsus was clearly intended to ratify and reaffirm the creed of Nicaea. To forestall it, thirty-four bishops hastily met at Antioch in Caria: they proclaimed the need for concord in the church, rejected the creed of Nicaea, and affirmed their adherence to the creed of the 'Dedication Council' as reiterated at Seleucia in 359. The Carian council presumably followed the normal practise of transmitting its decisions to the emperor: at all events, Valens prohibited the planned Council of Tarsus from meeting and issued a general order to provincial governors that bishops who had been deposed under Constantius, then restored to their sees under Julian, be expelled from their churches.64

Valens' general policy and the new decree had an obvious relevance to Athanasius in Alexandria. Athanasius had never disguised his disapproval of the homoean creed, and there was a rival claimant to the see of Alexandria in the shape of Lucius, whom the supporters of George had elected to succeed him and who accepted the official homoean creed. On 5 May 365 an imperial order was published in Alexandria which stipulated that bishops who had been deposed and ejected from their churches under Constantius but who had recovered their positions in the reign of Julian should again be expelled from their churches. The edict also threatened with a fine of three hundred pounds of gold any local curia which failed to ensure the expulsion of the bishop in its city if he fell under its terms. The leading curiales of Alexandria, who were few in number, and the prefect Flavianus urged Athanasius to obey the imperial order and leave the city, but a crowd of Christians demonstrated against the authorities, arguing that the imperial order did not apply to their bishop, since Athanasius had been restored as well as exiled by Constantius and exiled as well as restored by Julian, and owed his most recent restoration to Jovian, not to Julian.65 Public disorder continued until 8 June, when Flavianus announced that he had written to the emperors reporting on the situation and requesting clarification.

Nearly four months later, on 5 October, Athanasius left his church secretly during the night and went into hiding, just in time to escape an attempt to arrest him by Flavianus and the dux Victorinus, in command of a detachment of soldiers. Athanasius remained in hiding for four months.66 Release came for reasons which had nothing to do with ecclesiastical politics. On 28 September 365 Julian's relative Procopius was proclaimed Augustus in Constantinople. Valens was compelled to break off his journey to Syria to confront what appeared to be a serious challenge to his rule, and the rebellion was not suppressed until the spring of the following year.67 Like Constantius in 350, therefore, Valens could not take the risk that Egypt might side with the rebel. On 1 February 366 the notarius Brasidas arrived in Alexandria with a letter from Valens which invited Athanasius to return to his church and resume his normal functions as bishop. After Brasidas, accompanied by the prefect and the dux, had announced the imperial order to the decurions and the people of the city in the prefect's palace, Brasidas led the decurions and a large crowd of Christian to Athanasius* hiding place and escorted him back to the Church of Dionysius {Hist. ac. 5.1-7; Index 37).

That was almost the end of Athanasius' troubles. On 21 July 366 it is reported that a pagan mob burned the Caesareum (Index 38): the episode is isolated and puzzling—unless its correct date is 21 July 365, on which day a great tidal wave caused great destruction in Alexandria and throughout the eastern Mediterranean (Index 37). After 365/6 Valens decided to leave Athanasius unmolested. When Lucius returned to Alexandria again, he did so without official support. Athanasius' rival arrived in the city secretly on 24 September 367. After spending the night in hiding, he went to his mother's house. As soon as his arrival became known, a large crowd gathered and denounced his entry into the city. The dux Traianus and the prefect Tatianus sent the leading decurions to persuade Lucius to depart. When it became clear that Lucius could not leave his mother's house without being lynched by the crowd, the dux and the prefect came with a large number of soldiers and escorted him through a continuous shower of insults to the official residence of the dux, where he stayed until the next day. On 26 September Traianus took Lucius to Nicopolis, whence he sent him out of Egypt under armed guard (Hist. ac. 5.11-14; Index 39).

Athanasius was at last secure, and on 8 June 368 he celebrated the fortieth anniversary of his consecration as bishop of Alexandria. He marked the occasion by commissioning a documented history of the church of Alexandria from the beginning of the fourth century in order to ensure that his version of events would henceforth be accepted—an enterprise in which he was conspicuously successful. He may also have collected and revised the works which he had composed and recomposed to defend himself against the attacks of his ecclesiastical enemies in the 330s, 340s, and 350s: although the collected edition which survives in mediaeval manuscripts is a posthumous edition, there are signs that Athanasius himself may have made revisions and additions around 370.68 Athanasius also left his mark on his city with two new buildings. Through Traianus, who had shown his goodwill toward him in 367, he submitted a request to Valens that he be granted imperial permission to rebuild the Caesareum. Valens indicated his official support of Athanasius by granting permission, and rebuilding commenced on 1 May 368 (Index 40). On 22 September of the same year, Athanasius began construction in the Mendidion of the church which was to bear his own name: it was completed quickly and dedicated on 7 August 370 (Index 41,42).<9

Outside Alexandria and Egypt, Athanasius was regarded as an elder statesman whose opinions carried great weight, and Basil of Caesarea wrote to him in flattering terms.70 Basil pressed Athanasius to join in the struggle for orthodoxy, to become a Samuel for the churches. But Athanasius declined to involve himself in ecclesiastical affairs outside Egypt, and he did not respond to Basil's urgent pleas to heal the schism in Antioch by entering into communion with Meletius.71 After 362 Athanasius served as a potent symbol of the resolute defense of true faith in the face of heretical oppression, but it may plausibly be argued that he had long been out of touch with current theological debate.72 He played no significant part either in shaping the Neo-Nicene orthodoxy which was to triumph at the second ecumenical council or in more mundane ecclesiastical politics outside Egypt. The Letter to the Africans, which appears to show that Athanasius supported the theological initiatives of Damasus and the bishops of Gaul and Spain, must be pronounced inauthentic.73 And when, toward the end of his life, Athanasius wrote to Epictetus, he was responding to a letter from the bishop of Corinth, whose acquaintance he may have made as he passed through Greece on his return from seven years of exile in the West a quarter of a century earlier.74

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