The Emperor Constantius died on the frontiers of Cilicia on the 3d of November, during the consulate of Taurus and Florentius; Julian leaving the western parts of the empire about the 11th of December following, under the same consulate, came to Constantinople, where he was proclaimed emperor. And as I must needs speak of the character of this prince who was eminently distinguished for his learning, let not his admirers expect that I should attempt a pompous rhetorical style, as if it were necessary to make the delineation correspond with the dignity of the subject: for my object being to compile a history of the Christian religion, it is both proper in order to the being better understood, and consistent with my original purpose, to maintain a humble and unaffected style. However, it is proper to describe his person, birth, education, and the manner in which he became possessed of the sovereignty; and in order to do this it will be needful to enter into some antecedent details. Constantine who gave Byzantium his own name, had two brothers named Dalmatius and Constantius, the offspring of the same father, but by a different mother. The former of these had a son who bore his own name: the latter had two sons, Gallus and Julian. Now as on the death of Constantine who founded Constantinople, the soldiery had put the younger brother Dalmatius to death, the lives of his two orphan children were also endangered: but a disease which threatened to be fatal preserved Gallus from the violence of his father's murderers; while the tenderness of Julian's age— for he was only eight years old at the time— protected him. The emperor's jealousy toward them having been gradually subdued, Gallus attended the schools at Ephesus in Ionia, in which country considerable hereditary possessions had been left them. And Julian, when he was grown up, pursued his studies at Constantinople, going constantly to the palace, where the schools then were, in plain clothes, under the superintendence of the eunuch Mardonius. In grammar Nicocles the Lacædemonian was his instructor; and Ecebolius the Sophist, who was at that time a Christian, taught him rhetoric: for the emperor had made the provision that he should have no pagan masters, lest he should be seduced to the pagan superstitions. For Julian was a Christian at the beginning. His proficiency in literature soon became so remarkable, that it began to be said that he was capable of governing the Roman empire; and this popular rumor becoming generally diffused, greatly disquieted the emperor's mind, so that he had him removed from the Great City to Nicomedia, forbidding him at the same time to frequent the school of Libanius the Syrian Sophist. For Libanius having been driven at that time from Constantinople, by a combination of the educators there, had retired to Nicomedia, where he opened a school. Here he gave vent to his indignation against the educators in the treatise he composed regarding them. Julian was, however, interdicted from being his auditor, because Libanius was a pagan in religion: nevertheless he privately procured his orations, which he not only greatly admired, but also frequently and with close study perused. As he was becoming very expert in the rhetorical art, Maximus the philosopher arrived at Nicomedia (not the Byzantine, Euclid's father) but the Ephesian, whom the emperor Valentinian afterwards caused to be executed as a practicer of magic. This took place later; at that time the only thing that attracted him to Nicomedia was the fame of Julian. From him [Julian] received, in addition to the principles of philosophy, his own religious sentiments, and a desire to possess the empire. When these things reached the ears of the emperor, Julian, between hope and fear, became very anxious to lull the suspicions which had been awakened, and therefore began to assume the external semblance of what he once was in reality. He was shaved to the very skin, and pretended to live a monastic life: and while in private he pursued his philosophical studies, in public he read the sacred writings of the Christians, and moreover was constituted a reader in the church of Nicomedia. Thus by these specious pretexts he succeeded in averting the emperor's displeasure. Now he did all this from fear, but he by no means abandoned his hope; telling his friends that happier times were not far distant, when he should possess the imperial sway. In this condition of things his brother Gallus having been created Cæsar, on his way to the East came to Nicomedia to see him. But when not long after this Gallus was slain, Julian was suspected by the emperor; wherefore he directed that a guard should be set over him: he soon, however, found means of escaping from them, and fleeing from place to place he managed to be in safety. At last the Empress Eusebia having discovered his retreat, persuaded the emperor to leave him uninjured, and permit him to go to Athens to pursue his philosophical studies. From thence— to be brief— the emperor recalled him, and after created him Cæsar; in addition to this, uniting him in marriage to his own sister Helen, he sent him against the barbarians. For the barbarians whom the Emperor Constantius had engaged as auxiliary forces against the tyrant Magnentius, having proved of no use against the usurper, were beginning to pillage the Roman cities. And inasmuch as he was young he ordered him to undertake nothing without consulting the other military chiefs.
Now these generals having obtained such authority, became lax in their duties, and the barbarians in consequence strengthened themselves. Julian perceiving this allowed the commanders to give themselves up to luxury and revelling, but exerted himself to infuse courage into the soldiery, offering a stipulated reward to any one who should kill a barbarian. This measure effectually weakened the enemy and at the same time conciliated to himself the affections of the army. It is reported that as he was entering a town a civic crown which was suspended between two pillars fell upon his head, which it exactly fitted: upon which all present gave a shout of admiration, regarding it as a presage of his one day becoming emperor. Some have affirmed that Constantius sent him against the barbarians, in the hope that he would perish in an engagement with them. I know not whether those who say this speak the truth; but it certainly is improbable that he should have first contracted so near an alliance with him, and then have sought his destruction to the prejudice of his own interests. Let each form his own judgment of the matter. Julian's complaint to the emperor of the inertness of his military officers procured for him a coadjutor in the command more in sympathy with his own ardor; and by their combined efforts such an assault was made upon the barbarians, that they sent him an embassy, assuring him that they had been ordered by the emperor's letters, which were produced, to march into the Roman territories. But he cast the ambassador into prison, and vigorously attacking the forces of the enemy, totally defeated them; and having taken their king prisoner, he sent him alive to Constantius. Immediately after this brilliant success he was proclaimed emperor by the soldiers; and inasmuch as there was no imperial crown at hand, one of his guards took the chain which he wore about his own neck, and bound it around Julian's head. Thus Julian became emperor: but whether he subsequently conducted himself as became a philosopher, let my readers determine. For he neither entered into communication with Constantius by an embassy, nor paid him the least homage in acknowledgment of past favors; but constituting other governors over the provinces, he conducted everything just as it pleased him. Moreover, he sought to bring Constantius into contempt, by reciting publicly in every city the letters which he had written to the barbarians; and thus having rendered the inhabitants of these places disaffected, they were easily induced to revolt from Constantius to himself. After this he no longer wore the mask of Christianity, but everywhere opened the pagan temples, offering sacrifice to the idols; and designating himself 'Pontifex Maximus,' gave permission to such as would to celebrate their superstitious festivals. In this manner he managed to excite a civil war against Constantius; and thus, as far as he was concerned, he would have involved the empire in all the disastrous consequences of a war. For this philosopher's aim could not have been attained without much bloodshed: but God, in the sovereignty of his own councils, checked the fury of these antagonists without detriment to the state, by the removal of one of them. For when Julian arrived among the Thracians, intelligence was brought him that Constantius was dead; and thus was the Roman empire at that time preserved from the intestine strife that threatened it. Julian immediately made his public entry into Constantinople; and considered with himself how he might best conciliate the masses and secure popular favor. Accordingly he had recourse to the following measures: he knew that Constantius had rendered himself odious to the defenders of the homoousian faith by having driven them from the churches, and proscribed their bishops. He was also aware that the pagans were extremely discontented because of the prohibitions which prevented their sacrificing to their gods, and were very anxious to get their temples opened, with liberty to exercise their idolatrous rites. In fact, he was sensible that while both these classes secretly entertained rancorous feelings against his predecessor, the people in general were exceedingly exasperated by the violence of the eunuchs, and especially by the rapacity of Eusebius the chief officer of the imperial bed-chamber. Under these circumstances he treated all parties with subtlety: with some he dissimulated; others he attached to himself by conferring obligations upon them, for he was fond of affecting beneficence; but to all in common he manifested his own predilection for the idolatry of the heathens. And first in order to brand the memory of Constantius by making him appear to have been cruel toward his subjects, he recalled the exiled bishops, and restored to them their confiscated estates. He next commanded the suitable agents to see that the pagan temples should be opened without delay. Then he directed that such individuals as had been victims of the extortionate conduct of the eunuchs, should receive back the property of which they had been plundered. Eusebius, the chief of the imperial bed-chamber, he punished with death, not only on account of the injuries he had inflicted on others, but because he was assured that it was through his machinations that his brother Gallus had been killed. The body of Constantius he honored with an imperial funeral, but expelled the eunuchs, barbers, and cooks from the palace. The eunuchs he dispensed with, because they were unnecessary in consequence of his wife's decease, as he had resolved not to marry again; the cooks, because he maintained a very simple table; and the barbers, because he said one was sufficient for a great many persons. These he dismissed for the reasons given; he also reduced the majority of the secretaries to their former condition, and appointed for those who were retained a salary befitting their office. The mode of public traveling and conveyance of necessaries he also reformed, abolishing the use of mules, oxen, and asses for this purpose, and permitting horses only to be so employed. These various retrenchments were highly lauded by some few, but strongly reprobated by all others, as tending to bring the imperial dignity into contempt, by stripping it of those appendages of pomp and magnificence which exercise so powerful an influence over the minds of the vulgar. Not only so, but at night he was accustomed to sit up composing orations which he afterwards delivered in the senate: though in fact he was the first and only emperor since the time of Julius Cæsar who made speeches in that assembly. To those who were eminent for literary attainments, he extended the most flattering patronage, and especially to those who were professional philosophers; in consequence of which, abundance of pretenders to learning of this sort resorted to the palace from all quarters, wearing their palliums, being more conspicuous for their costume than their erudition. These impostors, who invariably adopted the religious sentiments of their prince, were all inimical to the welfare of the Christians; and Julian himself, whose excessive vanity prompted him to deride all his predecessors in a book which he wrote entitled The Cæsars, was led by the same haughty disposition to compose treatises against the Christians also. The expulsion of the cooks and barbers is in a manner becoming a philosopher indeed, but not an emperor; but ridiculing and caricaturing of others is neither the part of the philosopher nor that of the emperor: for such personages ought to be superior to the influence of jealousy and detraction. An emperor may be a philosopher in all that regards moderation and self-control; but should a philosopher attempt to imitate what might become an emperor, he would frequently depart from his own principles. We have thus briefly spoken of the Emperor Julian, tracing his extraction, education, temper of mind, and the way in which he became invested with the imperial power.
It is now proper to mention what took place in the churches under the same [emperor]. A great disturbance occurred at Alexandria in consequence of the following circumstance. There was a place in that city which had long been abandoned to neglect and filth, wherein the pagans had formerly celebrated their mysteries, and sacrificed human beings to Mithra. This being empty and otherwise useless, Constantius had granted to the church of the Alexandrians; and George wishing to erect a church on the site of it, gave directions that the place should be cleansed. In the process of clearing it, an adytum of vast depth was discovered which unveiled the nature of their heathenish rites: for there were found there the skulls of many persons of all ages, who were said to have been immolated for the purpose of divination by the inspection of entrails, when the pagans performed these and such like magic arts whereby they enchanted the souls of men. The Christians on discovering these abominations in the adytum of the Mithreum, went forth eagerly to expose them to the view and execration of all; and therefore carried the skulls throughout the city, in a kind of triumphal procession, for the inspection of the people. When the pagans of Alexandria beheld this, unable to bear the insulting character of the act, they became so exasperated, that they assailed the Christians with whatever weapon chanced to come to hand, in their fury destroying numbers of them in a variety of ways: some they killed with the sword, others with clubs and stones; some they strangled with ropes, others they crucified, purposely inflicting this last kind of death in contempt of the cross of Christ: most of them they wounded; and as it generally happens in such a case, neither friends nor relatives were spared, but friends, brothers, parents, and children imbrued their hands in each other's blood. Wherefore the Christians ceased from cleansing the Mithreum: the pagans meanwhile having dragged George out of the church, fastened him to a camel, and when they had torn him to pieces, they burnt him together with the camel.
The emperor being highly indignant at the assassination of George, wrote to the citizens of Alexandria, rebuking their violence in the strongest terms. A report was circulated that those who detested him because of Athanasius, perpetrated this outrage upon George: but as for me I think it is undoubtedly true that such as cherish hostile feelings against particular individuals are often found identified with popular commotions; yet the emperor's letter evidently attaches the blame to the populace, rather than to any among the Christians. George, however, was at that time, and had for some time previously been, exceedingly obnoxious to all classes, which is sufficient to account for the burning indignation of the multitude against him. That the emperor charges the people with the crime may be seen from his letter which was expressed in the following terms.
Emperor Cæsar Julian Maximus Augustus to the Citizens of Alexandria.
Even if you have neither respect for Alexander the founder of your city, nor, what is more, for that great and most holy god Serapis; yet how is it you have made no account not only of the universal claims of humanity and social order, but also of what is due to us, to whom all the gods, and especially the mighty Serapis, have assigned the empire of the world, for whose cognizance therefore it became you to reserve all matters of public wrong? But perhaps the impulse of rage and indignation, which taking possession of the mind, too often stimulate it to the most atrocious acts, has led you astray. It seems, however, that when your fury had in some degree moderated, you aggravated your culpability by adding a most heinous offense to that which had been committed under the excitement of the moment: nor were you, although but the common people, ashamed to perpetrate those very acts on account of which you justly detested them. By Serapis I conjure you tell me, for what unjust deed were ye so indignant at George? You will perhaps answer, it was because he exasperated Constantius of blessed memory against you: because he introduced an army into the sacred city: because in consequence the governor of Egypt despoiled the god's most holy temple of its images, votive offerings, and such other consecrated apparatus as it contained; who, when you could not endure the sight of such a foul desecration, but attempted to defend the god from sacrilegious hands, or rather to hinder the pillage of what had been consecrated to his service, in contravention of all justice, law, and piety, dared to send armed bands against you. This he probably did from his dreading George more than Constantius: but he would have consulted better for his own safety had he not been guilty of this tyrannical conduct, but persevered in his former moderation toward you. Being on all these accounts enraged against George as the adversary of the gods, you have again polluted your sacred city; whereas you ought to have impeached him before the judges. For had you thus acted, neither murder, nor any other unlawful deed would have been committed; but justice being equitably dispensed, would have preserved you innocent of these disgraceful excesses, while it brought on him the punishment due to his impious crimes. Thus too, in short, the insolence of those would have been curbed who contemn the gods, and respect neither cities of such magnitude, nor so flourishing a population; but make the barbarities they practice against them the prelude, as it were, of their exercise of power. Compare therefore this my present letter, with that which I wrote you some time since. With what high commendation did I then greet you! But now, by the immortal gods, with an equal disposition to praise you I am unable to do so on account of your heinous misdoings. The people have had the audacity to tear a man in pieces, like dogs; nor have they been subsequently ashamed of this inhuman procedure, nor desirous of purifying their hands from such pollution, that they may stretch them forth in the presence of the gods undefiled by blood. You will no doubt be ready to say that George justly merited this chastisement; and we might be disposed perhaps to admit that he deserved still more acute tortures. Should you farther affirm that on your account he was worthy of these sufferings, even this might also be granted. But should you add that it became you to inflict the vengeance due to his offenses, that I could by no means acquiesce in; for you have laws to which it is the duty of every one of you to be subject, and to evince your respect for both publicly, as well as in private. If any individual should transgress those wise and salutary regulations which were originally constituted for the well-being of the community, does that absolve the rest from obedience to them? It is fortunate for you, you Alexandrians, that such an atrocity has been perpetrated in our reign, who, by reason of our reverence for the gods, and on account of our grandfather and uncle whose name we bear, and who governed Egypt and your city, still retain a fraternal affection for you. Assuredly that power which will not suffer itself to be disrespected, and such a government as is possessed of a vigorous and healthy constitution, could not connive at such unbridled licentiousness in its subjects, without unsparingly purging out the dangerous distemper by the application of remedies sufficiently potent. We shall however in your case, for the reasons already assigned, restrict ourselves to the more mild and gentle medicine of remonstrance and exhortation; to the which mode of treatment we are persuaded you will the more readily submit, inasmuch as we understand you are Greeks by original descent, and also still preserve in your memory and character the traces of the glory of your ancestors. Let this be published to our citizens of Alexandria.
Such was the emperor's letter.
Not long after this, Athanasius returning from his exile, was received with great joy by the people of Alexandria. They expelled at that time the Arians from the churches, and restored Athanasius to the possession of them. The Arians meanwhile assembling themselves in low and obscure buildings, ordained Lucius to supply the place of George. Such was the state of things at that time at Alexandria.
About the same time Lucifer and Eusebius were by an imperial order, recalled from banishment out of the Upper Thebaïs; the former being bishop of Carala, a city of Sardinia, the latter of Vercellæ, a city of the Ligurians in Italy, as I have said previously. These two prelates therefore consulted together on the most effectual means of preventing the neglected canons and discipline of the church from being in future violated and despised.
It was decided therefore that Lucifer should go to Antioch in Syria, and Eusebius to Alexandria, that by assembling a Synod in conjunction with Athanasius, they might confirm the doctrines of the church. Lucifer sent a deacon as his representative, by whom he pledged himself to assent to whatever the Synod might decree; but he himself went to Antioch, where he found the church in great disorder, the people not being agreed among themselves. For not only did the Arian heresy, which had been introduced by Euzoïus, divide the church, but, as we before said, the followers of Meletius also, from attachment to their teacher, separated themselves from those with whom they agreed in sentiment. When therefore Lucifer had constituted Paulinus their bishop, he again departed.
As soon as Eusebius reached Alexandria, he in concert with Athanasius immediately convoked a Synod. The bishops assembled on this occasion out of various cities, took into consideration many subjects of the utmost importance. They asserted the divinity of the Holy Spirit and comprehended him in the consubstantial Trinity: they also declared that the Word in being made man, assumed not only flesh, but also a soul, in accordance with the views of the early ecclesiastics. For they did not introduce any new doctrine of their own devising into the church, but contented themselves with recording their sanction of those points which ecclesiastical tradition has insisted on from the beginning, and wise Christians have demonstratively taught. Such sentiments the ancient fathers have uniformly maintained in all their controversial writings. Irenæus, Clemens, Apollinaris of Hierapolis, and Serapion who presided over the church at Antioch, assure us in their several works, that it was the generally received opinion that Christ in his incarnation was endowed with a soul. Moreover, the Synod convened on account of Beryllus bishop of Philadelphia in Arabia, recognized the same doctrine in their letter to that prelate. Origen also everywhere in his extant works accepts that the Incarnate God took on himself a human soul. But he more particularly explains this mystery in the ninth volume of his Comments upon Genesis, where he shows that Adam and Eve were types of Christ and the church. That holy man Pamphilus, and Eusebius who was surnamed after him, are trustworthy witnesses on this subject: both these witnesses in their joint life of Origen, and admirable defense of him in answer to such as were prejudiced against him, prove that he was not the first who made this declaration, but that in doing so he was the mere expositor of the mystical tradition of the church. Those who assisted at the Alexandrian Council examined also with great minuteness the question concerning 'Essence' or 'Substance,' and 'Existence,' 'Subsistence,' or 'Personality.' For Hosius, bishop of Cordova in Spain, who has been before referred to as having been sent by the Emperor Constantine to allay the excitement which Arius had caused, originated the controversy about these terms in his earnestness to overthrow the dogma of Sabellius the Libyan. In the council of Nicæa, however, which was held soon after, this dispute was not agitated; but in consequence of the contention about it which subsequently arose, the matter was freely discussed at Alexandria. It was there determined that such expressions as ousia and hypostasis ought not to be used in reference to God: for they argued that the word ousia is nowhere employed in the sacred Scriptures; and that the apostle has misapplied the term hypostasis Hebrews 1:3 owing to an inevitable necessity arising from the nature of the doctrine. They nevertheless decided that in refutation of the Sabellian error these terms were admissible, in default of more appropriate language, lest it should be supposed that one thing was indicated by a threefold designation; whereas we ought rather to believe that each of those named in the Trinity is God in his own proper person. Such were the decisions of this Synod. If we may express our own judgment concerning substance and personality, it appears to us that the Greek philosophers have given us various definitions of ousia, but have not taken the slightest notice of hypostasis. Irenæus the grammarian indeed, in his Alphabetical [Lexicon entitled] Atticistes, even declares it to be a barbarous term; for it is not to be found in any of the ancients, except occasionally in a sense quite different from that which is attached to it in the present day. Thus Sophocles, in his tragedy entitled Phœnix, uses it to signify 'treachery': in Menander it implies 'sauces'; as if one should call the 'sediment' at the bottom of a hogshead of wine hypostasis. But although the ancient philosophical writers scarcely noticed this word, the more modern ones have frequently used it instead of ousia. This term, as we before observed, has been variously defined: but can that which is capable of being circumscribed by a definition be applicable to God who is incomprehensible? Evagrius in his Monachicus, cautions us against rash and inconsiderate language in reference to God; forbidding all attempt to define the divinity, inasmuch as it is wholly simple in its nature: 'for,' says he, 'definition belongs only to things which are compound.' The same author further adds, 'Every proposition has either a
genus which is predicted, or a
species, or a
differentia, or a
proprium, or an
accidens, or that which is compounded of these: but none of these can be supposed to exist in the sacred Trinity. Let then what is inexplicable be adored in silence.' Such is the reasoning of Evagrius, of whom we shall again speak hereafter. We have indeed made a digression here, but such as will tend to illustrate the subject under consideration.
On this occasion Athanasius read to those present the Defense which he had composed some time before in justification of his flight; a few passages from which it may be of service to introduce here, leaving the entire production, which is too long to be transcribed, to be sought out and perused by the studious. See the daring enormities of the impious persons! Such are their proceedings: and yet instead of blushing at their former clumsy intrigues against us, they even now abuse us for having effected our escape out of their murderous hands; nay, are grievously vexed that they were unable to put us out of the way altogether. In short, they overlook the fact that while they pretend to upbraid us with 'cowardice,' they are really criminating themselves: for if it be disgraceful to flee, it is still more so to pursue, since the one is only endeavoring to avoid being murdered, while the other is seeking to commit the deed. But Scripture itself directs us to flee: Matthew 10:23 and those who persecute unto death, in attempting to violate the law, constrain us to have recourse to flight. They should rather, therefore, be ashamed of their persecution, than reproach us for having sought to escape from it: let them cease to harass, and those who flee will also cease. Nevertheless they set no bounds to their malevolence, using every art to entrap us, in the consciousness that the flight of the persecuted is the strongest condemnation of the persecutor: for no one runs away from a mild and beneficent person, but from one who is of a barbarous and cruel disposition. Hence it was that 'Every one that was discontented and in debt' fled from Saul to David. Wherefore these [foes of ours] in like manner desire to kill such as conceal themselves, that no evidence may exist to convict them of their wickedness. But in this also these misguided men most egregiously deceive themselves: for the more obvious the effort to elude them, the more manifestly will their deliberate slaughters and exiles be exposed. If they act the part of assassins, the voice of the blood which is shed will cry against them the louder: and if they condemn to banishment, they will raise so everywhere living monuments of their own injustice and oppression. Surely unless their intellects were unsound they would perceive the dilemma in which their own counsels entangle them. But since they have lost sound judgment, their folly is exposed when they vanish, and when they seek to stay they do not see their wickedness. But if they reproach those who succeed in secreting themselves from the malice of their blood-thirsty adversaries, and revile such as flee from their persecutors, what will they say to Jacob's retreat from the rage of his brother Esau, Genesis xxviii and to Moses Exodus 2:15 retiring into the land of Midian for fear of Pharaoh? And what apology will these babblers make for David's 1 Samuel 19:12 flight from Saul, when he sent messengers from his own house to dispatch him; and for his concealment in a cave, after contriving to extricate himself from the treacherous designs of Abimelech, by feigning madness? What will these reckless asserters of whatever suits their purpose answer, when they are reminded of the great prophet Elijah, 1 Kings 19:3 who by calling upon God had recalled the dead to life, hiding himself from dread of Ahab, and fleeing on account of Jezebel's menaces? At which time the sons of the prophets also, being sought for in order to be slain, withdrew, and were concealed in caves by Obadiah; 1 Kings 18:4 or are they unacquainted with these instances because of their antiquity? Have they forgotten also what is recorded in the Gospel, that the disciples retreated and hid themselves for fear of the Jews? Matthew 26:56 Paul, 2 Corinthians 11:32-33 when sought for by the governor [of Damascus] 'was let down from the wall in a basket, and thus escaped the hands of him that sought him.' Since then Scripture relates these circumstances concerning the saints, what excuse can they fabricate for their temerity? If they charge us with 'cowardice,' it is in utter insensibility to the condemnation it pronounces on themselves. If they asperse these holy men by asserting that they acted contrary to the will of God, they demonstrate their ignorance of Scripture. For it was commanded in the Law that 'cities of refuge' should be constituted, Numbers 35:11 by which provision was made that such as were pursued in order to be put to death might have means afforded of preserving themselves. Again in the consummation of the ages, when the Word of the Father, who had before spoken by Moses, came himself to the earth, he gave this express injunction, 'When they persecute you in one city, flee unto another:' Matthew 10:23 and shortly after, 'When therefore you shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (let whosoever reads, understand), then let those in Judea flee unto the mountains: let him that is on the house-top not come down to take anything out of his house; nor him that is in the fields return to take his clothes.' Matthew 24:15-18 The saints therefore knowing these precepts, had such a sort of training for their action: for what the Lord then commanded, he had before his coming in the flesh already spoken of by his servants. And this is a universal rule for man, leading to perfection, 'to practice whatever God has enjoined.' On this account the Word himself, becoming incarnate for our sake, deigned to conceal himself when he was sought for; John 8:59 and being again persecuted, condescended to withdraw to avoid the conspiracy against him. For thus it became him, by hungering and thirsting and suffering other afflictions, to demonstrate that he was indeed made man. For at the very commencement, as soon as he was born, he gave this direction by an angel to Joseph: 'Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, for Herod will seek the infant's life.' And after Herod's death, it appears that for fear of his son Archelaus he retired to Nazareth. Subsequently, when he gave unquestionable evidence of his Divine character by healing the withered hand, 'when the Pharisees took council how they might destroy him, Matthew 12:14-15 Jesus knowing their wickedness withdrew himself thence.' Moreover, when he had raised Lazarus from the dead, and they had become still more intent on destroying him, [we are told that] 'Jesus walked no more openly among the Jews, John 11:53-54 but retired into a region on the borders of the desert.' Again when the Saviour said, 'Before Abraham was, I am;' John 8:58 and the Jews took up stones to cast at him; Jesus concealed himself, and going through the midst of them out of the Temple, went away thence, and so escaped. Since then they see these things, or rather understand them, (for they will not see,) are they not deserving of being burnt with fire, according to what is written, for acting and speaking so plainly contrary to all that the Lord did and taught? Finally, when John had suffered martyrdom, and his disciples had buried his body, Jesus having heard what was done, departed thence by ship into a desert place apart. Matthew 14:12-13 Now the Lord did these things and so taught. But would that these men of whom I speak, had the modesty to confine their rashness to men only, without daring to be guilty of such madness as to accuse the Saviour himself of 'cowardice'; especially after having already uttered blasphemies against him. But even if they be insane they will not be tolerated and their ignorance of the gospels be detected by every one. The cause for retreat and flight under such circumstances as these is reasonable and valid, of which the evangelists have afforded us precedents in the conduct of our Saviour himself: from which it may be inferred that the saints have always been justly influenced by the same principle, since whatever is recorded of him as man, is applicable to mankind in general. For he took on himself our nature, and exhibited in himself the affections of our infirmity, which John has thus indicated: 'Then they sought to take him; but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.' John 7:30 Moreover, before that hour came, he himself said to his mother, 'Mine hour is not yet come;' and to those who were denominated his brethren, 'My time is not yet come.' Again when the time had arrived, he said to his disciples, 'Sleep on now, and take your rest: for behold the hour is at hand, and the Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners.' Matthew 26:45 ... So that he neither permitted himself to be apprehended before the time came; nor when the time had come did he conceal himself, but voluntarily gave himself up to those who had conspired against him. ... Thus also the blessed martyrs have guarded themselves in times of persecution: being persecuted they fled, and kept themselves concealed; but being discovered they suffered martyrdom.
Such is the reasoning of Athanasius in his apology for his own flight.
As soon as the council of Alexandria was dissolved, Eusebius bishop of Vercellæ went from Alexandria to Antioch; there finding that Paulinus had been ordained by Lucifer, and that the people were disagreeing among themselves—for the partisans of Meletius held their assemblies apart—he was exceedingly grieved at the want of harmony concerning this election, and in his own mind disapproved of what had taken place. His respect for Lucifer however induced him to be silent about it, and on his departure he engaged that all things should be set right by a council of bishops. Subsequently he labored with great earnestness to unite the dissentients, but did not succeed. Meanwhile Meletius returned from exile; and finding his followers holding their assemblies apart from the others, he set himself at their head. But Euzoïus, the chief of the Arian heresy, had possession of the churches: Paulinus only retained a small church within the city, from which Euzoïus had not ejected him, on account of his personal respect for him. But Meletius assembled his adherents without the gates of the city. It was under these circumstances that Eusebius left Antioch at that time. When Lucifer understood that his ordination of Paul was not approved of by Eusebius, regarding it as an insult, he became highly incensed; and not only separated himself from communion with him, but also began, in a contentious spirit, to condemn what had been determined by the Synod. These things occurring at a season of grievous disorder, alienated many from the church; for many attached themselves to Lucifer, and thus a distinct sect arose under the name of 'Luciferians.' Nevertheless Lucifer was unable to give full expression to his anger, inasmuch as he had pledged himself by his deacon to assent to whatever should be decided on by the Synod. Wherefore he adhered to the tenets of the church, and returned to Sardinia to his own see: but such as at first identified themselves with his quarrel, still continue separate from the church. Eusebius, on the other hand, traveling throughout the Eastern provinces like a good physician, completely restored those who were weak in the faith, instructing and establishing them in ecclesiastical principles. After this he passed over to Illyricum, and thence to Italy, where he pursued a similar course.
There, however, Hilary bishop of Poictiers (a city of Aquitania Secunda) had anticipated him, having previously confirmed the bishops of Italy and Gaul in the doctrines of the orthodox faith; for he first had returned from exile to these countries. Both therefore nobly combined their energies in defense of the faith: and Hilary being a very eloquent man, maintained with great power the doctrine of the homoousion in books which he wrote in Latin. In these he gave sufficient support [to the doctrine] and unanswerably confuted the Arian tenets. These things took place shortly after the recall of those who had been banished. But it must be observed, that at the same time Macedonius, Eleusius, Eustathius, and Sophronius, with all their partisans, who had but the one common designation Macedonians, held frequent Synods in various places. Having called together those of Seleucia who embraced their views, they anathematized the bishops of the other party, that is the Acacian: and rejecting the creed of Ariminum, they confirmed that which had been read at Seleucia. This, as I have stated in the preceding book, was the same as had been before promulgated at Antioch. When they were asked by some one, 'Why have ye, who are called Macedonians hitherto, retained communion with the Acacians, as though ye agreed in opinion, if you really hold different sentiments?' they replied thus, through Sophronius, bishop of Pompeiopolis, a city of Paphlagonia: 'Those in the West,' said he, 'were infected with the homoousian error as with a disease: Aëtius in the East adulterated the purity of the faith by introducing the assertion of a dissimilitude of substance. Now both of these dogmas are illegitimate; for the former rashly blended into one the distinct persons of the Father and the Son, binding them together by that cord of iniquity the term homoousion; while Aëtius wholly separated that affinity of nature of the Son to the Father, by the expression anomoion, unlike as to substance or essence. Since then both these opinions run into the very opposite extremes, the middle course between them appeared to us to be more consistent with truth and piety: we accordingly assert that the Son is
like the Father as to subsistence.'
Such was the answer the Macedonians made by Sophronius to that question, as Sabinus assures us in his Collection of the Synodical Acts. But in decrying Aëtius as the author of the Anomoion doctrine, and not Acacius, they flagrantly disguise the truth, in order to seem as far removed from the Arians on the one side, as from the Homoousians on the other: for their own words convict them of having separated from them both, merely from the love of innovation. With these remarks we close our notice of these persons.
Although at the beginning of his reign the Emperor Julian conducted himself mildly toward all men; but as he went on he did not continue to show the same equanimity. He most readily indeed acceded to the requests of the Christians, when they tended in any way to cast odium on the memory of Constantius; but when this inducement did not exist, he made no effort to conceal the rancorous feelings which he entertained towards Christians in general. Accordingly he soon ordered that the church of the Novatians at Cyzicus, which Euzoïus had totally demolished, should be rebuilt, imposing a very heavy penalty upon Eleusius bishop of that city, if he failed to complete that structure at his own expense within the space of two months. Moreover, he favored the pagan superstitions with the whole weight of his authority: and the temples of the heathen were opened, as we have before stated; but he himself also publicly offered sacrifices to Fortune, goddess of Constantinople, in the cathedral, where her image was erected.
About this time, Maris bishop of Chalcedon in Bithynia being led by the hand into the emperor's presence—for on account of extreme old age he had a disease in his eyes termed 'cataract,'— severely rebuked his impiety, apostasy, and atheism. Julian answered his reproaches by loading him with contumelious epithets: and he defended himself by words calling him 'blind.' 'You blind old fool,' said he, 'this Galilæan God of yours will never cure you.' For he was accustomed to term Christ 'the Galilæan,' and Christians Galilæans. Maris with still greater boldness replied, 'I thank God for bereaving me of my sight, that I might not behold the face of one who has fallen into such awful impiety.' The emperor suffered this to pass without farther notice at that time; but he afterwards had his revenge. Observing that those who suffered martyrdom under the reign of Diocletian were greatly honored by the Christians, and knowing that many among them were eagerly desirous of becoming martyrs, he determined to wreak his vengeance upon them in some other way. Abstaining therefore from the excessive cruelties which had been practiced under Diocletian; he did not however altogether abstain from persecution (for any measures adopted to disquiet and molest I regard as persecution). This then was the plan he pursued: he enacted a law by which Christians were excluded from the cultivation of literature; 'lest,' said he, 'when they have sharpened their tongue, they should be able the more readily to meet the arguments of the heathen.'
He moreover interdicted such as would not abjure Christianity, and offer sacrifice to idols, from holding any office at court: nor would he allow Christians to be governors of provinces; 'for,' said he, 'their law forbids them to use the sword against offenders worthy of capital punishment.' He also induced many to sacrifice, partly by flatteries, and partly by gifts. Immediately, as if tried in a furnace, it at once became evident to all, who were the real Christians, and who were merely nominal ones. Such as were Christians in integrity of heart, very readily resigned their commission, choosing to endure anything rather than deny Christ. Of this number were Jovian, Valentinian, and Valens, each of whom afterwards became emperor. But others of unsound principles, who preferred the riches and honor of this world to the true felicity, sacrificed without hesitation. Of these was Ecebolius, a sophist of Constantinople who, accommodating himself to the dispositions of the emperors, pretended in the reign of Constantius to be an ardent Christian; while in Julian's time he appeared an equally vigorous pagan: and after Julian's death, he again made a profession of Christianity. For he prostrated himself before the church doors, and called out, 'Trample on me, for I am as salt that has lost its savor.' Of so fickle and inconstant a character was this person, throughout the whole period of his history. About this time the emperor wishing to make reprisals on the Persians, for the frequent incursions they had made on the Roman territories in the reign of Constantius, marched with great expedition through Asia into the East. But as he well knew what a train of calamities attend a war, and what immense resources are needful to carry it on successfully and that without it cannot be carried on, he craftily devised a plan for collecting money by extorting it from the Christians. On all those who refused to sacrifice he imposed a heavy fine, which was exacted with great rigor from such as were true Christians, every one being compelled to pay in proportion to what he possessed. By these unjust means the emperor soon amassed immense wealth; for this law was put in execution, both where Julian was personally present, and where he was not. The pagans at the same time assailed the Christians; and there was a great concourse of those who styled themselves 'philosophers.' They then proceeded to institute certain abominable mysteries; and sacrificing pure children both male and female, they inspected their entrails, and even tasted their flesh. These infamous rites were practiced in other cities, but more particularly at Athens and Alexandria; in which latter place, a calumnious accusation was made against Athanasius the bishop, the emperor being assured that he was intent on desolating not that city only, but all Egypt, and that nothing but his expulsion out of the country could save it. The governor of Alexandria was therefore instructed by an imperial edict to apprehend him.
But he fled again, saying to his intimates, 'Let us retire for a little while, friends; it is but a small cloud which will soon pass away.' He then immediately embarked, and crossing the Nile, hastened with all speed into Egypt, closely pursued by those who sought to take him. When he understood that his pursuers were not far distant, his attendants were urging him to retreat once more into the desert, but he had recourse to an artifice and thus effected his escape. He persuaded those who accompanied him to turn back and meet his adversaries, which they did immediately; and on approaching them they were simply asked 'where they had seen Athanasius': to which they replied that 'he was not a great way off,' and, that 'if they hastened they would soon overtake him.' Being thus deluded, they started afresh in pursuit with quickened speed, but to no purpose; and Athanasius making good his retreat, returned secretly to Alexandria; and there he remained concealed until the persecution was at an end. Such were the perils which succeeded one another in the career of the bishop of Alexandria, these last from the heathen coming after that to which he was before subjected from Christians. In addition to these things, the governors of the provinces taking advantage of the emperor's superstition to feed their own cupidity, committed more grievous outrages on the Christians than their sovereign had given them a warrant for; sometimes exacting larger sums of money than they ought to have done, and at others inflicting on them corporal punishments. The emperor learning of these excesses, connived at them; and when the sufferers appealed to him against their oppressors, he tauntingly said, 'It is your duty to bear these afflictions patiently; for this is the command of your God.'
Amachius governor of Phrygia ordered that the temple at Merum, a city of that province, should be opened, and cleared of the filth which had accumulated there by lapse of time: also that the statues it contained should be polished fresh. This in being put into operation grieved the Christians very much. Now a certain Macedonius and Theodulus and Tatian, unable to endure the indignity thus put upon their religion, and impelled by a fervent zeal for virtue, rushed by night into the temple, and broke the images in pieces. The governor infuriated at what had been done, would have put to death many in that city who were altogether innocent, when the authors of the deed voluntarily surrendered themselves, choosing rather to die themselves in defense of the truth, than to see others put to death in their stead. The governor seized and ordered them to expiate the crime they had committed by sacrificing: on their refusal to do this, their judge menaced them with tortures; but they despising his threats, being endowed with great courage, declared their readiness to undergo any sufferings, rather than pollute themselves by sacrificing. After subjecting them to all possible tortures he at last laid them on gridirons under which a fire was placed, and thus slew them. But even in this last extremity they gave the most heroic proofs of fortitude, addressing the ruthless governor thus: 'If you wish to eat broiled flesh, Amachius, turn us on the other side also, lest we should appear but half cooked to your taste.' Thus these martyrs ended their life.
The imperial law which forbade Christians to study Greek literature, rendered the two Apollinares of whom we have above spoken, much more distinguished than before. For both being skilled in polite learning, the father as a grammarian, and the son as a rhetorician, they made themselves serviceable to the Christians at this crisis. For the former, as a grammarian, composed a grammar consistent with the Christian faith: he also translated the Books of Moses into heroic verse; and paraphrased all the historical books of the Old Testament, putting them partly into dactylic measure, and partly reducing them to the form of dramatic tragedy. He purposely employed all kinds of verse, that no form of expression peculiar to the Greek language might be unknown or unheard of among Christians. The younger Apollinaris, who was well trained in eloquence, expounded the gospels and apostolic doctrines in the way of dialogue, as Plato among the Greeks had done. Thus showing themselves useful to the Christian cause they overcame the subtlety of the emperor through their own labors. But Divine Providence was more potent than either their labors, or the craft of the emperor: for not long afterwards, in the manner we shall hereafter explain, the law became wholly inoperative; and the works of these men are now of no greater importance, than if they had never been written. But perhaps some one will vigorously reply saying: 'On what grounds do you affirm that both these things were effected by the providence of God? That the emperor's sudden death was very advantageous to Christianity is indeed evident: but surely the rejection of the Christian compositions of the two Apollinares, and the Christians beginning afresh to imbue their minds with the philosophy of the heathens, this works out no benefit to Christianity, for pagan philosophy teaches Polytheism, and is injurious to the promotion of true religion.' This objection I shall meet with such considerations as at present occur to me. Greek literature certainly was never recognized either by Christ or his Apostles as divinely inspired, nor on the other hand was it wholly rejected as pernicious. And this they did, I conceive, not inconsiderately. For there were many philosophers among the Greeks who were not far from the knowledge of God; and in fact these being disciplined by logical science, strenuously opposed the Epicureans and other contentious Sophists who denied Divine Providence, confuting their ignorance. And for these reasons they have become useful to all lovers of real piety: nevertheless they themselves were not acquainted with the Head of true religion, being ignorant of the mystery of Christ which 'had been hidden from generations and ages.' Colossians 1:26 And that this was so, the Apostle in his epistle to the Romans thus declares: Romans 1:18-21 'For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has shown it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, that they may be without excuse; because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God.' From these words it appears that they had the knowledge of truth, which God had manifested to them; but were guilty on this account, that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God. Wherefore by not forbidding the study of the learned works of the Greeks, they left it to the discretion of those who wished to do so. This is our first argument in defense of the position we took: another may be thus put: The divinely inspired Scriptures undoubtedly inculcate doctrines that are both admirable in themselves, and heavenly in their character: they also eminently tend to produce piety and integrity of life in those who are guided by their precepts, pointing out a walk of faith which is highly approved of God. But they do not instruct us in the art of reasoning, by means of which we may be enabled successfully to resist those who oppose the truth. Besides adversaries are most easily foiled, when we can use their own weapons against them. But this power was not supplied to Christians by the writings of the Apollinares. Julian had this in mind when he by law prohibited Christians from being educated in Greek literature, for he knew very well that the fables it contains would expose the whole pagan system, of which he had become the champion to ridicule and contempt. Even Socrates, the most celebrated of their philosophers, despised these absurdities, and was condemned on account of it, as if he had attempted to violate the sanctity of their deities. Moreover, both Christ and his Apostle enjoin us 'to become discriminating money-changers,' so that we might 'prove all things, and hold fast that which is good': 1 Thessalonians 5:21 directing us also to 'beware lest any one should spoil us through philosophy and vain deceit.' Colossians 2:8 But this we cannot do, unless we possess ourselves of the weapons of our adversaries: taking care that in making this acquisition we do not adopt their sentiments, but testing them, reject the evil, but retain all that is good and true: for good wherever it is found, is a property of truth. Should any one imagine that in making these assertions we wrest the Scriptures from their legitimate construction, let it be remembered that the Apostle not only does not forbid our being instructed in Greek learning, but that he himself seems by no means to have neglected it, inasmuch as he knows many of the sayings of the Greeks. Whence did he get the saying, 'The Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, slow-bellies,' Titus 1:12 but from a perusal of The Oracles of Epimenides, the Cretan Initiator? Or how would he have known this, 'For we are also his offspring,' Acts 17:28 had he not been acquainted with The Phenomena of Aratus the astronomer? Again this sentence, 'Evil communications corrupt good manners,' 1 Corinthians 15:33 is a sufficient proof that he was conversant with the tragedies of Euripides. But what need is there of enlarging on this point? It is well known that in ancient times the doctors of the church by unhindered usage were accustomed to exercise themselves in the learning of the Greeks, until they had reached an advanced age: this they did with a view to improve themselves in eloquence and to strengthen and polish their mind, and at the same time to enable them to refute the errors of the heathen. Let these remarks be sufficient in the subject suggested by the two Apollinares.
The emperor having extorted immense sums of money from the Christians, hastening his expedition against the Persians, arrived at Antioch in Syria. There, desiring to show the citizens how much he affected glory, he unduly depressed the prices of commodities; neither taking into account the circumstances of that time, nor reflecting how much the presence of an army inconveniences the population of the provinces, and of necessity lessens the supply of provisions to the cities. The merchants and retailers therefore left off trading, being unable to sustain the losses which the imperial edict entailed upon them; consequently the necessaries failed. The Antiochians not bearing the insult—for they are a people naturally impatient with insult—instantly broke forth into invectives against Julian; caricaturing his beard also, which was a very long one, and saying that it ought to be cut off and manufactured into ropes. They added that the bull which was impressed upon his coin, was a symbol of his having desolated the world. For the emperor, being excessively superstitious, was continually sacrificing bulls on the altars of his idols; and had ordered the impression of a bull and altar to be made on his coin. Irritated by these scoffs, he threatened to punish the city of Antioch, and returned to Tarsus in Cilicia, giving orders that preparations should be made for his speedy departure thence. Whence Libanius the sophist took occasion to compose two orations, one addressed to the emperor in behalf of the Antiochians, the other to the inhabitants of Antioch on the emperor's displeasure. It is however affirmed that these compositions were merely written, and never recited in public. Julian abandoning his former purpose of revenging himself on his satirists by injurious deeds, expended his wrath in reciprocating their abusive taunts; for he wrote a pamphlet against them which he entitled Antiochicus, or Misopogon, thus leaving an indelible stigma upon that city and its inhabitants. But we must now speak of the evils which he brought upon the Christians at Antioch.
Having ordered that the pagan temples at Antioch should be opened, he was very eager to obtain an oracle from Apollo of Daphne. But the demon that inhabited the temple remained silent through fear of his neighbor, Babylas the martyr; for the coffin which contained the body of that saint was close by. When the emperor was informed of this circumstance, he commanded that the coffin should be immediately removed: upon which the Christians of Antioch, including women and children, transported the coffin from Daphne to the city, with solemn rejoicings and chanting of psalms. The psalms were such as cast reproach on the gods of the heathen, and those who put confidence in them and their images.
Then indeed the emperor's real temper and disposition, which he had hitherto kept as much as possible from observation, became fully manifested: for he who had boasted so much of his philosophy, was no longer able to restrain himself; but being goaded almost to madness by these reproachful hymns, he was ready to inflict the same cruelties on the Christians, with which Diocletian's agents had formerly visited them. Since, however, his solicitude about the Persian expedition afforded him no leisure for personally executing his wishes, he commanded Sallust the Prætorian Prefect to seize those who had been most conspicuous for their zeal in psalm-singing, in order to make examples of them. The prefect, though a pagan, was far from being pleased with his commission; but since he dared not contravene it, he caused several of the Christians to be apprehended, and some of them to be imprisoned. One young man named Theodore, whom the heathens brought before him, he subjected to a variety of tortures, causing his person to be so lacerated and only released him from further punishment when he thought that he could not possibly outlive the torments: yet God preserved this sufferer, so that he long survived that confession. Rufinus, the author of the Ecclesiastical History written in Latin, states that he himself conversed with the same Theodore a considerable time afterwards: and enquired of him whether in the process of scourging and racking he had not felt the most intense pains; his answer was, that he felt the pain of the tortures to which he was subjected for a very short time; and that a young man stood by him who both wiped off the sweat which was produced by the acuteness of the ordeal through which he was passing, and at the same time strengthened his mind, so that he rendered this time of trial a season of rapture rather than of suffering. Let this suffice concerning the most wonderful Theodore. About this time Persian ambassadors came to the emperor, requesting him to terminate the war on certain express conditions. But Julian abruptly dismissed them, saying, 'You shall very shortly see me in person, so that there will be no need of an embassy.'
The emperor in another attempt to molest the Christians exposed his superstition. Being fond of sacrificing, he not only himself delighted in the blood of victims, but considered it an indignity offered to him, if others did not do likewise. And as he found but few persons of this stamp, he sent for the Jews and enquired of them why they abstained from sacrificing, since the law of Moses enjoined it? On their replying that it was not permitted them to do this in any other place than Jerusalem, he immediately ordered them to rebuild Solomon's temple. Meanwhile he himself proceeded on his expedition against the Persians. The Jews who had been long desirous of obtaining a favorable opportunity for rearing their temple afresh in order that they might therein offer sacrifice, applied themselves very vigorously to the work. Moreover, they conducted themselves with great insolence toward the Christians, and threatened to do them as much mischief, as they had themselves suffered from the Romans. The emperor having ordered that the expenses of this structure should be defrayed out of the public treasury, all things were soon provided, such as timber and stone, burnt brick, clay, lime, and all other materials necessary for building. On this occasion Cyril bishop of Jerusalem, called to mind the prophecy of Daniel, which Christ also in the holy gospels has confirmed, and predicted in the presence of many persons, that the time had indeed come 'in which one stone should not be left upon another in that temple,' but that the Saviour's prophetic declaration should have its full accomplishment. Such were the bishop's words: and on the night following, a mighty earthquake tore up the stones of the old foundations of the temple and dispersed them all together with the adjacent edifices. Terror consequently possessed the Jews on account of the event; and the report of it brought many to the spot who resided at a great distance: when therefore a vast multitude was assembled, another prodigy took place. Fire came down from heaven and consumed all the builders' tools: so that the flames were seen preying upon mallets, irons to smooth and polish stones, saws, hatchets, adzes, in short all the various implements which the workmen had procured as necessary for the undertaking; and the fire continued burning among these for a whole day. The Jews indeed were in the greatest possible alarm, and unwillingly confessed Christ, calling him God: yet they did not do his will; but influenced by inveterate prepossessions they still clung to Judaism. Even a third miracle which afterwards happened failed to lead them to a belief of the truth. For the next night luminous impressions of a cross appeared imprinted on their garments, which at daybreak they in vain attempted to rub or wash out. They were therefore 'blinded' as the apostle says, and cast away the good which they had in their hands: and thus was the temple, instead of being rebuilt, at that time wholly overthrown.
The emperor meanwhile invaded the country of the Persians a little before spring, having learned that the races of Persia were greatly enfeebled and totally spiritless in winter. For from their inability to endure cold, they abstain from military service at that season, and it has become a proverb that 'a Mede will not then draw his hand from underneath his cloak.' And well knowing that the Romans were inured to brave all the rigors of the atmosphere he let them loose on the country. After devastating a considerable tract of country, including numerous villages and fortresses, they next assailed the cities; and having invested the great city Ctesiphon, he reduced the king of the Persians to such straits that the latter sent repeated embassies to the emperor, offering to surrender a portion of his dominions, on condition of his quitting the country, and putting an end to the war. But Julian was unaffected by these submissions, and showed no compassion to a suppliant foe: nor did he think of the adage, 'To conquer is honorable, but to be more than conqueror gives occasion for envy.' Giving credit to the divinations of the philosopher Maximus, with whom he was in continual intercourse, he was deluded into the belief that his exploits would not only equal, but exceed those of Alexander of Macedon; so that he spurned with contempt the entreaties of the Persian monarch. He even supposed in accordance with the teachings of Pythagoras and Plato on 'the transmigration of souls,' that he was possessed of Alexander's soul, or rather that he himself was Alexander in another body. This ridiculous fancy deluded and caused him to reject the negotiations for peace proposed by the king of the Persians. Wherefore the latter convinced of the uselessness of them was constrained to prepare for conflict, and therefore on the next day after the rejection of his embassy, he drew out in order of battle all the forces he had. The Romans indeed censured their prince, for not avoiding an engagement when he might have done so with advantage: nevertheless they attacked those who opposed them, and again put the enemy to flight. The emperor was present on horseback, and encouraged his soldiers in battle; but confiding simply in his hope of success, he wore no armor. In this defenceless state, a dart cast by some one unknown, pierced through his arm and entered his side, making a wound. In consequence of this wound he died. Some say that a certain Persian hurled the javelin, and then fled; others assert that one of his own men was the author of the deed, which indeed is the best corroborated and most current report. But Callistus, one of his body-guards, who celebrated this emperor's deeds in heroic verse, says in narrating the particulars of this war, that the wound of which he died was inflicted by a demon. This is possibly a mere poetical fiction, or perhaps it was really the fact; for vengeful furies have undoubtedly destroyed many persons. Be the case however as it may, this is certain, that the ardor of his natural temperament rendered him incautious, his learning made him vain, and his affectation of clemency exposed him to contempt. Thus Julian ended his life in Persia, as we have said, in his fourth consulate, which he bore with Sallust his colleague. This event occurred on the 26th of June, in the third year of his reign, and the seventh from his having been created Cæsar by Constantius, he being at that time in the thirty-first year of his age.
The soldiery being thrown into extreme perplexity by an event so unexpected, and without delay, on the following day proclaimed Jovian emperor, a person alike distinguished for his courage and birth. He was a military tribune when Julian put forth an edict giving his officers the option of either sacrificing or resigning their rank in the army, and chose rather to lay down his commission, than to obey the mandate of an impious prince. Julian, however, being pressed by the urgency of the war which was before him, retained him among his generals. On being saluted emperor, he positively declined to accept the sovereign power: and when the soldiers brought him forward by force, he declared that 'being a Christian, he did not wish to reign over a people who chose to adopt paganism as their religion.' They all then with one voice answered that they also were Christians: upon which he accepted the imperial dignity. Perceiving himself suddenly left in very difficult circumstances, in the midst of the Persian territory, where his army was in danger of perishing for want of necessaries, he agreed to terminate the war, even on terms by no means honorable to the glory of the Roman name, but rendered necessary by the exigencies of the crisis. Submitting therefore to the loss of the government of Syria, and giving up also Nisibis, a city of Mesopotamia, he withdrew from their territories. The announcement of these things gave fresh hope to the Christians; while the pagans vehemently bewailed Julian's death. Nevertheless the whole army reprobated his intemperate heat, and ascribed to his rashness in listening to the wily reports of a Persian deserter, the humiliation of ceding the territories lost: for being imposed upon by the statements of this fugitive, he was induced to burn the ships which supplied them with provisions by water, by which means they were exposed to all the horrors of famine. Then also Libanius composed a funeral oration on him, which he designated Julianus, or Epitaph, wherein he celebrates with lofty encomiums almost all his actions; but in referring to the books which Julian wrote against the Christians, he says that he has therein clearly demonstrated the ridiculous and trifling character of their sacred books. Had this sophist contented himself with extolling the emperor's other acts, I should have quietly proceeded with the course of my history; but since this famous rhetorician has thought proper to take occasion to inveigh against the Scriptures of the Christian faith, we also propose to pause a little and in a brief review consider his words.
'When the winter,' says he, 'had lengthened the nights, the emperor made an attack on those books which made the man of Palestine both God, and the Son of God: and by a long series of arguments having proved that these writings, which are so much revered by Christians, are ridiculous and unfounded, he has evinced himself wiser and more skillful than the Tyrian old man. But may this Tyrian sage be propitious to me, and mildly bear with what has been affirmed, seeing that he has been excelled by his son!' Such is the language of Libanius the Sophist. But I confess, indeed, that he was an excellent rhetorician, but am persuaded that had he not coincided with the emperor in religious sentiment, he would not only have given expression to all that has been said against him by Christians, but would have magnified every ground of censure as naturally becomes a rhetorician. For while Constantius was alive he wrote encomiums upon him; but after his death he brought the most insulting and reproachful charges against him. So that if Porphyry had been emperor, Libanius would certainly have preferred his books to Julian's: and had Julian been a mere sophist, he would have termed him a very indifferent one, as he does Ecebolius in his Epitaph upon Julian. Since then he has spoken in the spirit of a pagan, a sophist, and the friend of him whom he lauded, we shall endeavor to meet what he has advanced, as far as we are able. In the first place he says that the emperor undertook to 'attack' these books during the long winter nights. Now to 'attack' means to make the writing of a confutation of them a task, as the sophists commonly do in teaching the rudiments of their art; for he had perused these books long before, but attacked them at this time. But throughout the long contest into which he entered, instead of attempting to disprove anything by sound reasoning, as Libanius asserts, in the absence of truth he had recourse to sneers and contemptuous jests, of which he was excessively fond; and thus he sought to hold up to derision what is too firmly established to be overthrown. For every one who enters into controversy with another, sometimes trying to pervert the truth, and at others to conceal it, falsifies by every possible means the position of his antagonist. And an adversary is not satisfied with doing malignant acts against one with whom he is at variance, but will speak against him also, and charge upon the object of his dislike the very faults he is conscious of in himself. That both Julian and Porphyry, whom Libanius calls the 'Tyrian old man,' took great delight in scoffing, is evident from their own works. For Porphyry in his History of the Philosophers has treated with ridicule the life of Socrates, the most eminent of all the philosophers, making such remarks on him as neither Melitus, nor Anytus, his accusers, would have dared to utter; of Socrates, I say, who was admired by all the Greeks for his modesty, justice, and other virtues; whom Plato, the most admirable among them, Xenophon, and the rest of the philosophic band, not only honor as one beloved of God, but also are accustomed to think of as having been endowed with superhuman intelligence. And Julian, imitating his 'father,' displayed a like morbidness of mind in his book, entitled The Cæsars, wherein he traduces all his imperial predecessors, not sparing even Mark the philosopher. Their own writings therefore show that they both took pleasure in taunts and reviling; and I have no need of profuse and clever expressions to do this; but what has been said is enough concerning their mood in this respect. Now I write these things, using the oration of each as witnesses respecting their dispositions, but of Julian in particular, what Gregory of Nazianzus says in his Second Oration against the Pagans is in the following terms:
'These things were made evident to others by experience, after the possession of imperial authority had left him free to follow the bent of his inclinations: but I had foreseen it all, from the time I became acquainted with him at Athens. Thither he came, by permission of the emperor, soon after the change in his brother's fortune. His motive for this visit was twofold: one reason was honorable to him, viz. to see Greece, and attend the schools there; the other was a more secret one, which few knew anything about, for his impiety had not yet presumed to openly avow itself, viz. to have opportunity of consulting the sacrificers and other impostors respecting his own destiny. I well remember that even then I was no bad diviner concerning this person, although I by no means pretend to be one of those skilled in the art of divination: but the fickleness of his disposition, and the incredible extravagancy of his mind, rendered me prophetic; if indeed he is the
best prophet who conjectures correctly events. For it seemed to me that no good was portended by a neck seldom steady, the frequent shrugging of shoulders, an eye scowling and always in motion, together with a frenzied aspect; a gait irregular and tottering, a nose breathing only contempt and insult, with ridiculous contortions of countenance expressive of the same thing; immoderate and very loud laughter, nods as it were of assent, and drawings back of the head as if in denial, without any visible cause; speech with hesitancy and interrupted by his breathing; disorderly and senseless questions, answers no better, all jumbled together without the least consistency or method. Why need I enter into minute particulars? Such I foresaw he would be beforehand as I found him afterwards from experience. And if any of those who were then present and heard me, were now here, they would readily testify that when I observed these prognostics I exclaimed,
Ah! How great a mischief to itself is the Roman empire fostering! And that when I had uttered these words I prayed God that I might be a false prophet. For it would have been far better [that I should have been convicted of having formed an erroneous judgment], than that the world should be filled with so many calamities, and that such a monster should have appeared as never before had been seen: although many deluges and conflagrations are recorded, many earthquakes and chasms, and descriptions are given of many ferocious and inhuman men, as well as prodigies of the brute creation, compounded of different races, of which nature produced unusual forms. His end has indeed been such as corresponds with the madness of his career.'
This is the sketch which Gregory has given us of Julian. Moreover, that in their various compilations they have endeavored to do violence to the truth, sometimes by the corruption of passages of sacred Scripture, at others by either adding to the express words, and putting such a construction upon them as suited their own purpose, many have demonstrated, by confuting their cavils, and exposing their fallacies. Origen in particular, who lived long before Julian's time, by himself raising objections to such passages of Holy Scripture as seemed to disturb some readers, and then fully meeting them, has shut out the invidious clamors of the thoughtless. And had Julian and Porphyry given his writings a candid and serious perusal, they would have discoursed on other topics, and not have turned to the framing of blasphemous sophisms. It is also very obvious that the emperor in his discourses was intent on beguiling the ignorant, and did not address himself to those who possess the 'form' of the truth as it is presented in the sacred Scriptures. For having grouped together various expressions in which God is spoken of dispensationally, and more according to the manner of men, he thus comments on them. 'Every one of these expressions is full of blasphemy against God, unless the phrase contains some occult and mysterious sense, which indeed I can suppose.' This is the exact language he uses in his third book against the Christians. But in his treatise On the Cynic Philosophy, where he shows to what extent fables may be invented on religious subjects, he says that in such matters the truth must be veiled: 'For,' to quote his very words, 'Nature loves concealment; and the hidden substance of the gods cannot endure being cast into polluted ears in naked words.' From which it is manifest that the emperor entertained this notion concerning the divine Scriptures, that they are mystical discourses, containing in them some abstruse meaning. He is also very indignant because all men do not form the same opinion of them; and inveighs against those Christians who understand the sacred oracles in a more literal sense. But it ill became him to rail so vehemently against the simplicity of the vulgar, and on their account to behave so arrogantly towards the sacred Scriptures: nor was he warranted in turning with aversion from those things which others rightly apprehended, because forsooth they understood them otherwise than he desired they should. But now as it seems a similar cause of disgust seems to have operated upon him to that which affected Porphyry, who having been beaten by some Christians at Cæsarea in Palestine and not being able to endure [such treatment], from the working of unrestrained rage renounced the Christian religion: and from hatred of those who had beaten him he took to write blasphemous works against Christians, as Eusebius Pamphilus has proved who at the same time refuted his writings. So the emperor having uttered disdainful expressions against the Christians in the presence of an unthinking multitude, through the same morbid condition of mind fell into Porphyry's blasphemies. Since therefore they both willfully broke forth into impiety, they are punished by the consciousness of their guilt. But when Libanius the Sophist says in derision, that the Christians make 'a man of Palestine both God and the Son of God,' he appears to have forgotten that he himself has deified Julian at the close of his oration. 'For they almost killed,' says he, 'the first messenger of his death, as if he had lied against a god.' And a little afterwards he adds, 'O thou cherished one of the gods! Thou disciple of the gods! Thou associate with the gods!' Now although Libanius may have meant otherwise, yet inasmuch as he did not avoid the ambiguity of a word which is sometimes taken in a bad sense, he seems to have said the same things as the Christians had done reproachfully. If then it was his intention to praise him, he ought to have avoided equivocal terms; as he did on another occasion, when being criticised he avoided a certain word, cutting it out of his works. Moreover, that man in Christ was united to the Godhead, so that while he was apparently but man, he was the invisible God, and that both these things are most true, the divine books of Christians distinctly teach. But the heathen before they believe, cannot understand: for it is a divine oracle that declares 'Unless ye believe, assuredly you shall not understand.' Wherefore they are not ashamed to place many men among the number of their gods: and would that they had done this, at least to the good, just, and sober, instead of the impure, unjust, and those addicted to drunkenness, like the Hercules, the Bacchus, and the Æsculapius, by whom Libanius does not blush to swear frequently in his orations. And were I to attempt to enumerate the unnatural debaucheries and infamous adulteries of these, the digression would be lengthened beyond measure: but for those who desire to be informed on the subject, Aristotle's Peplum, Dionysius' Corona, Rheginus' Polymnemon, and the whole host of poets will be enough to show that the pagan theology is a tissue of extravagant absurdities. We might indeed show by a variety of instances that the practice of deifying human beings was far from uncommon among the heathen, nay, that they did so without the slightest hesitation: let a few examples suffice. The Rhodians having consulted an oracle on some public calamity, a response was given directing them to pay their adoration to Atys, a pagan priest who instituted frantic rites in Phrygia. The oracle was thus expressed:
'Atys propitiate, the great god, the chaste Adonis, the blessed fair-haired Dionysius rich in gifts.'
Here Atys, who from an amatory mania had castrated himself, is by the oracle designated as Adonis and Bacchus.
Again, when Alexander, king of the Macedonians, passed over into Asia, the Amphictyons courted his favor, and the Pythoness uttered this oracle:
'To Zeus supreme among the gods, and Athene Tritogenia pay homage, and to the king divine concealed in mortal form, him Zeus begot in honor to be the protector and dispenser of justice among mortals, Alexander the king.'
These are the words of the demon at Delphi, who when he wished to flatter potentates, did not scruple to assign them a place among the gods. The motive here was perhaps to conciliate by adulation: but what could one say of the case of Cleomedes the pugilist, whom they ranked among the gods in this oracle?
Because of this oracle Diogenes the cynic, and Oënomaus the philosopher, strongly condemned Apollo. The inhabitants of Cyzicus declared Hadrian to be the thirteenth god; and Adrian himself deified his own catamite Antinoüs. Libanius does not term these 'ridiculous and contemptible absurdities,' although he was familiar with these oracles, as well as with the work of Adrias on the life of Alexander (the pseudo-prophet of Paphlagonia): nor does he himself hesitate to dignify Porphyry in a similar manner, when after having preferred Julian's books to his, he says, 'May the Syrian be propitious to me.' This digression will suffice to repel the scoffs of the sophist, without following him farther in what he has advanced; for to enter into a complete refutation would require an express work. We shall therefore proceed with our history.
Jovian having returned from Persia, ecclesiastical commotions were again renewed: for those who presided over the churches endeavored to anticipate each other, in the hope that the emperor would attach himself to their own tenets. He however had from the beginning adhered to the homoousian faith, and openly declared that he preferred this to all others. Moreover, he wrote letters to and encouraged Athanasius bishop of Alexandria, who immediately after Julian's death had recovered the Alexandrian church, and at that time gaining confidence from the letters [spoken of] put away all fear. The emperor further recalled from exile all those prelates whom Constantius had banished, and who had not been re-established by Julian. Moreover, the pagan temples were again shut up, and they secreted themselves wherever they were able. The philosophers also laid aside their palliums, and clothed themselves in ordinary attire. That public pollution by the blood of victims, which had been profusely lavished even to disgust in the reign of Julian, was now likewise taken away.
Meanwhile the state of the church was by no means tranquil; for the heads of the sects assiduously paid their court to the emperor their king that protection for themselves meant also power against their acknowledged opponents. And first the Macedonians presented a petition to him, in which they begged that all those who asserted the Son to be unlike the Father, might be expelled from the churches, and themselves allowed to take their place. This supplication was presented by Basil bishop of Ancyra, Silvanus of Tarsus, Sophronius of Pompeiopolis, Pasinicus of Zelæ, Leontius of Comana, Callicrates of Claudiopolis, and Theophilus of Castabala. The emperor having perused it, dismissed them without any other answer than this: 'I abominate contentiousness; but I love and honor those who exert themselves to promote unanimity.' When this remark became generally known, it subdued the violence of those who were desirous of altercation and thus was realized in the design of the emperor. At this time the real spirit of the Acacian sect, and their readiness to accommodate their opinions to those invested with supreme authority, became more conspicuous than ever. For assembling themselves at Antioch in Syria, they entered into a conference with Melitius, who had separated from them a little before, and embraced the 'homoousian' opinion. This they did because they saw Melitius was in high estimation with the emperor, who then resided at Antioch; and assenting therefore by common consent, they drew up a declaration of their sentiments acknowledging the homoousion and ratifying the Nicene Creed and presented it to the emperor. It was expressed in the following terms.
'That your piety has above all things aimed at establishing the peace and harmony of the church, we ourselves, most devout emperor, are fully aware. Nor are we insensible that you have wisely judged an acknowledgment of the orthodox faith to be the sum and substance of this unity. Wherefore lest we should be included in the number of those who adulterate the doctrine of the truth, we hereby declare to your piety that we embrace and steadfastly hold the faith of the holy Synod formerly convened at Nicæa. Especially since the term homoousios, which to some seems novel and inappropriate, has been judiciously explained by the fathers to denote that the Son was begotten of the Father's substance, and that he is like the Father as to substance. Not indeed that any passion is to be understood in relation to that ineffable generation. Nor is the term ousia,
substance, taken by the fathers in any usual signification of it among the Greeks; but it has been employed for the subversion of what Arius impiously dared to assert concerning Christ, viz.— that he was made of things
not existing. Which heresy the Anomœans, who have lately sprung up, still more audaciously maintain, to the utter destruction of ecclesiastical unity. We have therefore annexed to this our declaration, a copy of the faith set forth by the bishops assembled at Nicæa, with which also we are fully satisfied. It is this: bishop of Antioch, Eusebius of Samosata, Evagrius of Sicily, Uranius of Apamæa, Zoilus of Larissa, Acacius of Cæsarea, Antipater of Rhosus, Abramius of Urimi, Aristonicus of Seleucia-upon-Belus, Barlamenus of Pergamus, Uranius of Melitina, Magnus of Chalcedon, Eutychius of Eleutheropolis, Isacocis of Armenia Major, Titus of Bostra, Peter of Sippi, Pelagius of Laodicæa, Arabian of Antros, Piso of Adana through Lamydrion a presbyter, Sabinian bishop of Zeugma, Athanasius of Ancyra through Orphitus and Aëtius presbyters, Irenion bishop of Gaza, Piso of Augusta, Patricius of Paltus through Lamyrion a presbyter, Anatolius bishop of Berœa, Theotimus of the Arabs, and Lucian of Arca.'
This declaration we found recorded in that work of Sabinus, entitled A Collection of the Acts of Synods. Now the emperor had resolved to allay if possible the contentious spirit of the parties at variance, by bland manners and persuasive language toward them all; declaring that he 'would not molest any one on account of his religious sentiments, and that he should love and highly esteem such as would zealously promote the unity of the church.' The philosopher Themistius attests that such was his conduct, in the oration he composed on his 'consulate.' For he extols the emperor for his overcoming the wiles of flatterers by freely permitting every one to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience. And in allusion to the check which the sycophants received, he facetiously observes that experience has made it evident that such persons 'worship the purple and not God; and resemble the changeful Euripus, which sometimes rolls its waves in one direction, and at others the very opposite way.'
Thus did the emperor repress at that time the impetuosity of those who were disposed to cavil: and immediately departing from Antioch, he went to Tarsus in Cilicia, where he duly performed the funeral obsequies of Julian, after which he was declared consul. Proceeding thence directly to Constantinople, he arrived at a place named Dadastana, situated on the frontiers of Galatia and Bithynia. There Themistius the philosopher, with others of the senatorial order, met him, and pronounced the consular oration before him, which he afterwards recited before the people at Constantinople. And indeed the Roman empire, blest with so excellent a sovereign, would doubtless have flourished exceedingly, as it is likely that both the civil and ecclesiastical departments would have been happily administered, had not his sudden death bereft the state of so eminent a personage. For disease caused by some obstruction, having attacked him at the place above mentioned during the winter season, he died there on the 17th day of February, in his own and his son Varronian's consulate, in the thirty-third year of his age, after having reigned seven months.
This book contains an account of the events which took place in the space of two years and five months.
Source. Translated by A.C. Zenos. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 2. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1890.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/26013.htm>.