Alexander of Alexandria,1 would not have been a participant in debate) and on the ecclesiastical historians, some four of whom - Rufinus, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret - offer credible increments to our knowledge, while two of the most loquacious, Philostorgius and Gelasius of Cyzicus, may have done little more than embellish or parody what they read elsewhere. The later the historian, the more apt he is to follow Athanasius in assuming that the defence or definition of a contested orthodoxy was the main object of the council. Yet the creed itself - the vague yet polemical Symbolum Nicaenum which will furnish the centrepiece of the present chapter - is an expression not so much of unanimity as of a common desire for unity. Those bishops (the great majority) who came nursing other quarrels may have seen in it nothing more than a placebo for a new, abstruse and local controversy, which, like any other controversy, would be forgotten once it had been resolved.

The protagonists

Constantine himself, though an apologist, was never a dogmatic theologian. He could tolerate a modest idiosyncrasy in doctrine far more readily than conspicuous disparity in practice. In 314 he had used the Council of Arles2 to subject the west to the Roman calendar, which required that Easter always fall on the Sunday after the new moon which succeeded the vernal equinox. In Asia Minor, however, many churches held to the 'Quartodeciman' reckoning, according to which the remembrance of the Passion was to coincide with the day of preparation for the Passover (14 Nisan), whenever that Jewish festival chanced to fall. To the first Christian emperor, a Judaising anomaly was peculiarly unpalatable, and Constantine's instructions to the bishops after the Nicene council3 give the immediate force of law to the Roman date. It is not the creed but the paschal computation that was remembered in the canons attached to the Council of Antioch in 341,4 and even today the date of the chief Christian holiday continues to rotate according to principles laid down in 325.

Eusebius of Caesarea, the biographer and encomiast of Constantine, seems none the less to disapprove of the Council of Nicaea altogether when he

1 His attendance is recorded first by Gregory of Nazianzus (Or. 21); in a list preserved by Gelasius of Cyzicus, he is the only cleric of a lower order to sign the creed (HE 2.38.2). In his tract De decretis Nicaenae synodi, Athanasius speaks of the delegates in the third person.

3 Euseb. V.C. 3.17-19, with 3.5.1-2; see Eusebius, Life of Constantine, Cameron and Hall (eds. and trans.), 268-71.

4 Often assigned now to the earlier council which deposed Eustathius.

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