compared with that of two other well-known advocates for the independence of the church from imperial oversight.

Even before John Chrysostom's audacious assertion ofthe primacy of episcopal authority and Ambrose of Milan's dramatic demonstration of that potential, the case for a sphere of religious authority that existed apart from the boundaries of the traditional state was being made, gingerly, but with increasing confidence, by those who found themselves out of step with the plans of the imperial court. Athanasius' criticisms of Constantine's son, Constantius II, are well known, but they are of diminished significance here because they were intended solely for a limited body of the faithful; when addressing the emperor himself, Athanasius carefully stayed within the bounds of traditional thought.25 Two other documents are more significant, because they were addressed directly to the emperor. These are a letter sent by Ossius of Cordoba to Constantius II in 343, and another that Pope Gelasius I addressed to Anastasius about a century and a half later.

In the first of these, Ossius, an early adviser of Constantine's, urged the emperor's son to remember that

God put the empire in your hands, to us he entrusted the affairs of the Church. Just as he who usurps your rule contradicts God's established order, so you must beware lest, by taking upon yourself the affairs of the Church, you be held accountable to a greater charge. 'Render,' it is written, 'unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's.' So it is not given unto us to exercise earthly power, nor, emperor, that you have spiritual authority. I write these things out of concern for your salvation.26

Gelasius' letter to Anastasius took this point further, asserting the principle that 'two forces rule this world - the sacred authority (auctoritas) of the bishops and the royal power (potestas)' of the emperors.27

Although Gelasius' distinction of the 'two powers' is far better known, Ossius' letter was, for its time, by far the more audacious. Jesus' words at Matthew 22.21 were at most a declaration of indifference to worldly concerns; they had previously been applied only to the narrow issue of obligations such as taxation (the situation that prompted the remark) or, as in the case

25 As Kenneth Setton put it, 'It was one thing to think ill of the Emperor; it was quite another to stand in the Sacred Presence and speak ill of the Emperor': Christian attitude towards the emperor in the fourth century, 103. For a comparison of Athanasius' depiction of Constantius 11 in his History of theArians and his Apology to Constantius, see pp. 78-9.

26 Ossius ap. Athanasius, Historia Arianorum 44.7-8 (ed. Opitz, 11.1: 208); for a Latin translation, PL 8:1328-32.

27 Gelasius, Ep. viii Ad Anastasium imperatorem (PL 59: 41-7).

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