tried to heal the rift through creating a common creedal formula. This novel attempt at formulating an explicit orthodoxy led to an intense period of formulating compromise creeds: the second formula of Sirmium (the so-called 'blasphemy of Sirmium', 357); the third formula of Sirmium (358); the fourth formula of Sirmium (359); the formula of Rimini and the formula of Seleucia (359); and the formula of Constantinople (360).10

Hosius of Cordova and Liberius of Rome were caught up in Constantius' ambitious religious policy. The emperor suspected Athanasius of high treason and therefore had him condemned by synods in Arles (353) and Milan (355). The Milanese bishop Dionysius - like Eusebius of Vercelli and Lucifer of Calaris (Cagliari) - refused to join the condemnation, and was exiled and succeeded by the Cappadocian Auxentius. Hosius, too, refused to sign the Arles-Milan synodical decision but was probably left unharmed. During the summer of 357 Constantius called a small synod of bishops - possibly under Hosius' leadership - to his residence at Sirmium to heal the theological rift through a compromise formula of faith. The resultant second Sirmian formula outlawed any use of ousid-language (e.g., homousios, homoiousios).11 Five Western bishops (Hosius, Potamius of Lisbon, and three Illyrians: Valens of Mursa, Ursacius of Singidunum and Germinius of Sirmium) subscribed to the formula. When the aged Hosius returned to Spain and propagated the second Sirmian formula, however, he met resistance in his home province, the Baetica. Meanwhile, Liberius of Rome criticised the condemnations of Athanasius at Arles and Milan and was therefore exiled to Beroia, Thrace. His senior clergy had sworn to support him. But the imperial resolve carried the day and Liberius was eventually replaced by Felix II. Felix proved unpopular, but in any case after two years Liberius was obliged to endorse both Athanasius' condemnation and the second Sirmian formula. Constantius then allowed him to return on the condition that he and Felix share the episcopal throne. The political compromise failed and public unrest ensued. Liberius and Hosius probably signed the creed in order to further the cause of ecclesiastical peace and unity.12 Notwithstanding their support, the second Sirmian creed was contested in both East and West, and eventually withdrawn.

10 Kelly, Early Christian creeds, 283-95.

11 Hilary of Poitiers, Desynodis 11.

12 Already at Serdica it was Hosius of Cordova who was most interested in reaching a compromise. The authenticity of the relevant letters of Liberius and his subscription to the second Sirmian formula have been conclusively established by H. C. Brennecke, Hilarius von Poitiers.

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