The Ancient Library

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jority in the council. Undismayed by the triumph of his enemies, the deposed archbishop returned to Tyre, and presenting himself before Constantine as he was entering the city, entreated the emperor to do him justice. His prayer was so far granted as that his accusers were summoned to confront him in the imperial presence. On this, they abandoned their previous grounds of attack, and accused him of having threatened to prevent the exportation of corn from Alexandria to Constantinople. It would seem that the emperor was peculiarly sensitive on this point; for, notwithstanding the intrinsic im­probability of the charge, and the earnest denials of Athanasius, the good prelate was banished by Constantine to Gaul. It is not unlikely that, when the heat of his indignation had subsided, Constan­tine felt the sentence to be too rigorous; for he prohibited the filling up of the vacant see, and de­clared that his motive in banishing the primate was to remove him from the machinations of his enemies.* Athanasius went to Treves (a. d. 336), where he was not only received with kindness by Maximinus, the bishop of that city, but loaded with favours by Constantine the Younger. The Alexandrians petitioned the emperor to restore their spiritual father, and Antony the hermit joined in the request} but the appeal was unsuc­cessful.

In the year 337, Constantine died. In the fol­lowing year, Athanasius was replaced in his see by Constantine II. He was received by the clergy and the people with the liveliest demonstrations of joy. But he had scarcely resumed the dignities and duties of his office, when the persevering hos­tility of his Arian opponents began to disturb him afresh. They succeeded in prejudicing the mind of Constantius against him, and in a council held at Antioch proceeded to the length of appointing Pistus archbishop of Alexandria. To counteract their movements, Athanasius convoked a council at Alexandria, in which a document was prepared setting forth the wrongs committed by the adverse party, and vindicating the character of the Egyp­tian primate. Both parties submitted their state­ments to Julius, the bishop of Rome, who signified his intention of bringing them together, in order that the case might be thoroughly investigated. To this proposition Athanasius assented. The Arians refused to comply. In the year 340, Constantine the Younger was slain; and in him Athanasius seems to have lost a powerful and zealous friend. In the very next year, the Arian bishops convened a council at Antioch, in which they condemned Athanasius for resuming his office while the sen­tence of deposition pronounced by the council of Tyre was still unrepealed. They accused him of disorderly and violent proceedings on his return to Alexandria, and even revived the old exploded stories about the broken chalice and the murder of Arsenius. They concluded by appointing Eusebius Emisenus to the archbishopric of Alexandria; and when he declined the dubious honour, Gregory of

* Gibbon ascribes the sentence to reasons of po­licy. "The emperor was satisfied that the peace of Egypt would be secured by the absence of a popular leader; but he refused to fill the vacancy of the archiepiscopal throne; and the sentence, which, after long hesitation, he pronounced, was that of a jealous ostracism, rather than of an igno­minious exile."


Cappadocia was advanced in his stead. The new primate entered on his office (a. d. 341) amidst scenes of atrocious violence. The Christian popu­lation of Alexandria were loud in their complaints against the removal of Athanasius ; and Philagrius, the prefect of Egypt, who had been sent with Gregory to establish him in his new office, let loose against them a crowd of ferocious assailants, who committed the most frightful excesses. Athanasius fled to Rome, and addressed to the bishops of every Christian church an energetic epistle, in which he details the cruel injuries inflicted upon himself and his people, and entreats the aid of all his brethren. At Rome he was honourably received by Julius, who despatched messengers to the ecclesiastical opponents of Athanasius, summoning them to a council to be held in the imperial city. Apparently in dread of exposure and condemnation, they re­fused to comply with the summons. When the council met (a. d. 342), Athanasius was heard in his own vindication, and honourably restored to the communion of the church. A synodical letter was addressed by the council to the Arian clergy, severely reproving them for their disobedience to the summons of Julius and their unrighteous con­duct to the church of Alexandria.

In the year 347, a council was held at Sardica, at which the Arians at first designed to attend. They insisted, however, that Athanasius and all whom they had condemned should be excluded. As it was the great object of this council to decide upon the merits of that very case, the proposition was of course resisted, and the Arians left the assembly. The council, after due investigation, affirmed the innocence of those whom the Arians had deposed, restored them to their offices, and condemned their adversaries. Synodical epistles, exhibiting the decrees of the council, were duly prepared and issued. Delegates were sent to the emperor Constantius at Antioch, to notify the de­cision of the council of Sardica; and they were also entrusted with a letter from Constans to his bro­ther, in which the cause of the orthodox clergy was strongly recommended. At Antioeh an infamous plot was laid to blast the reputation of the dele­gates. Its detection seems to have wrought pow­erfully upon the mind of Constantius, who had previously supported the Arians; for he recalled those of the orthodox whom he had banished, and sent letters to Alexandria forbidding any further molestation to be offered to the friends of Athana­sius.

In the following year (a. d. 349), Gregory was murdered at Alexandria; but of the occasion and manner of his death no particulars have reached us. It prepared the way for the return of Athanasius. He was urged to this by Constantius himself, whom he visited on his way to Alexandria, and on whom he made, for the time, a very favourable impression. He was once more received at Alex­andria with overflowing signs of gladness and affec­tion. Restored to his see, he immediately pro­ceeded against the Arians with great vigour, and they, on their side, renewed against him the charges which had been so often disproved. Constans, the friend of Athanasius, was now dead; and though Constantius, at this juncture, professed great friend­liness for the primate, he soon attached himself once more to the Arian party. In a council held at Aries (a. d. 353), and another at Milan (a. d. 355), they succeeded by great exertions in procur-

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