provincial synod to reverse the Egyptian judgment. The controversy between the two great bishoprics was silenced, but not healed, by Licinius' prohibition of synods (Eusebius, Life of Constantine 1.51.1). Constantine took the affair in hand in 324. His conduct, like his treatment of the Donatists, exemplified his belief that a strong king ought to make strong bishops: at a preliminary session, held in Antioch, it was not a co-opted presbyter, like Origen or Malchion, but Ossius of Cordova who interrogated a number of his colleagues and discovered that they had gone so far with Arius as to deny a common nature to God the Father and his Son.10

Ossius was present again for the gathering at Nicaea in June and July of 325. Over 200 prelates attended, only six of whom held Western bishoprics; nevertheless, historians ever since have joined Eusebius in styling this the First Ecumenical Council (Life of Constantine 3.6.1). It met, as Socrates tells us, with three objects: to determine the date of Easter, to arrive at a common mind on the nature of Christ and to resolve the Melitian schism in Alexandria (Church History 1.8). In two of these tasks the throne collaborated with the altar, for it was Constantine, according to Eusebius, who inserted the word homoousios into the creed, and who insisted after the council that the death of Christ was not to be celebrated at the time of the Jewish Passover, but according to the lunisolar calendar of Rome (Eusebius, Life of Constantine 3.17-19). The principle that the unity of the church should be exhibited in its liturgy was reinforced by canons that ordained that penitent followers of Paul of Samosata could be reconciled only by a second baptism, without imposing the same condition on the rigorist followers of the Roman presbyter Novatian. At the same time, by requiring the Melitians to submit to Alexander (Athanasius, DedecretisNicaenae synodi 36), by confirming the authority of every metropolitan within his own province (c. 6), and even by prohibiting the translation of bishops from see to see in the hope of restraining clerical ambition (c. 15), they proclaimed that only a Catholic magisterium, observing strict degrees of power and deference, could sustain this common obedience in Christ.11

There now ensued, according to Athanasius, a decade of cabals disguised as synods, all contrived by the Arian party to procure the deposition of certain bishops who had opposed it at or after the Nicene council. The defendants were charged, like Paul of Samosata in 268, with faults in conduct and in doctrine; like him, Eustathius of Antioch and Paul of Constantinople were degraded in their own cities (Athanasius, History of the Arians 4; 7). The emperor, though

10 H. Chadwick, 'Ossius of Cordova'.

11 For the canons, see Jonkers, Acta et symbola, 39-47.

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