has whipped her slave to death (c. 5) and another one decreeing the lifelong excommunication of those that use black magic (c. 6).5 Nineteen bishops and twenty-four priests had assembled, among them Bishop Ossius of Cordova, who was to be involved in such important councils as the synods of Nicaea (325), Serdica (343) and Sirmium (357) before his death some fifty years later. How its decisions were to be enforced we cannot say, as no lay sovereign had yet become a Christian.

The first council that could boast an imperial mandate was convened at Arles in 314, after Constantine had been asked to review the acquittal of Caecilian by a synod of Italian and Gallic bishops under Miltiades of Rome.6 Constantine, disclaiming any power to reverse the verdict of an ecclesiastical gathering, had sent letters to bishops in all the Western provinces, and the names of those who obeyed the summons are listed in the Acts. Whether or not the emperortooka seat at it,7 the councilnursed his interests by condoningmilitary service and enjoining uniformity in the celebration of Easter. Caecilian's tenure in Carthage was endorsed first by his colleagues, then by Constantine, who satisfied his own doubts by a private interrogation. Sylvester of Rome, however, did not attend - a fact lamented by the bishops, half ironically, when they wrote to acquaint their 'brother' with the rulings that they had none the less disseminated without his imprimatur.

In the East neither papal nor imperial authority was needed to underwrite the councils that took place in the aftermath of Licinius' victory over Maximinus Daia in 313. At Ancyra penalties commensurate with the fault were enjoined on those who had lapsed under persecution; the chief concern of a council held in Neocaesarea was to provide for the expulsion and restoration of those who committed heinous sins in a time of peace.8 A few years later, doctrine claimed the attention of a council once again when Alexander of Alexandria persuaded the clergy of Egypt to condemn his presbyter Arius as a heretic.9 Arius' following numbered only half a dozen presbyters and two bishops, but he found an ally in Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, who convened a

5 E. J. Jonkers, Acta et symbola, 5-23; on the scholarly debate see P. Badet and D. DeDecker, 'Historicité et actualité'.

6 See Optatus, Against the Donatists 1.25, appendix 4; perhaps also 1.22. In the longer version, edited by C. Munier (CCSL 148: 9-22), supplementary canons and a copious list of signatures are appended, but there is no allusion to a presiding magistrate and no criticism of the absent pontiff.

7 The name of the president has fallen out of the closing sentence to Optatus, appendix 4.

8 Jonkers, Acta et symbola, 28-38.

9 On Arius' refusal to admit that the Son is God see Alexander's letters at Theodoret, Church history 1.3 and Socrates, Church history 1.6, together with Arius' letters of defence (Theodoret, Church history 1.5 and Sozomen, Church history 1.15).

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