Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume III/Theodoret/Ecclesiastical History/Book I/Chapter 4
Chapter IV.—The Letter of Arius to Eusebius, Bishop of Nicomedia
“To his very dear lord, the man of God, the faithful and orthodox Eusebius, Arius, unjustly persecuted by Alexander the Pope, on account of that all-conquering truth of which you also are a champion, sendeth greeting in the Lord.
“Ammonius, my father, being about to depart for Nicomedia, I considered myself bound to salute you by him, and withal to inform that natural affection which you bear towards the brethren for the sake of God and His Christ, that the bishop greatly wastes and persecutes us, and leaves no stone unturned against us. He has driven us out of the city as atheists, because we do not concur in what he publicly preaches, namely, God always, the Son always; as the Father so the Son; the Son co-exists unbegotten with God; He is everlasting; neither by thought nor by any interval does God precede the Son; always God, always Son; he is begotten of the unbegotten; the Son is of God Himself. Eusebius, your brother bishop of Cæsarea, Theodotus, Paulinus, Athanasius, Gregorius, Aetius, and all the bishops of the East, have been condemned because they say that God had an existence prior to that of His Son; except Philogonius, Hellanicus, and Macarius, who are unlearned men, and who have embraced heretical opinions. Some of them say that the Son is an eructation, others that He is a production, others that He is also unbegotten. These are impieties to which we cannot listen, even though the heretics threaten us with a thousand deaths. But we say and believe, and have taught, and do teach, that the Son is not unbegotten, nor in any way part of the unbegotten; and that He does not derive His subsistence from any matter; but that by His own will and counsel He has subsisted before time, and before ages, as perfect God, only begotten and unchangeable, and that before He was begotten, or created, or purposed, or established, He was not. For He was not unbegotten. We are persecuted, because we say that the Son has a beginning, but that God is without beginning. This is the cause of our persecution, and likewise, because we say that He is of the non-existent. And this we say, because He is neither part of God, nor of any essential being. For this are we persecuted; the rest you know. I bid thee farewell in the Lord, remembering our afflictions, my fellow-Lucianist, and true Eusebius.”
Of those whose names are mentioned in this letter, Eusebius was bishop of Cæsarea, Theodotus of Laodicea, Paulinus of Tyre, Athanasius of Anazarbus, Gregorius of Berytus, and Aetius of Lydda. Lydda is now called Diospolis. Arius prided himself on having these men of one mind with himself. He names as his adversaries, Philogonius, bishop of Antioch, Hellanicus, of Tripolis, and Macarius, of Jerusalem. He spread calumnies against them because they said that the Son is eternal, existing before all ages, of equal honour and of the same substance with the Father.
When Eusebius received the epistle, he too vomited forth his own impiety, and wrote to Paulinus, chief of the Tyrians, in the following words.
- On the name “Pope,” vide Dict. Christ. Ant., s.v. 1st, it was applied to the teachers of converts, 2ndly, to Bishops and Abbots, and was, 3rdly, confined to the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Constantinople, and to the Bp. of Rome; 4thly, it was claimed by the Bp. of Rome exclusively.
- πάντα κάλων κινεῖ. Cf. Luc. Scyth. ii. The common proverb was πάντα ἐξιέναι κάλων, to let out every reef. Ar. Eq. 756 Eur. Med. 278, &c.
- ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων ἔστιν
- ἐξ ὑποκειμένου τινός. Aristotle, Metaph. vi. 3, 1, defines τὸ ὑποκείμενον as that καθ᾽ οὗ τὰ ἄλλα λέγεται.…μάλιοτα δὲ δοκεῖ εἶναι οὐσία τὸ ὑποκείμενον πρῶτον
- Arius and Eusebius had been fellow disciples of Lucianus the Priest of Antioch martyred under Maximinus in a.d. 311 or 312. Vide note on page 38.
- Arius plays on the name Eusebius, εὐσεβής, pious.
- From the phrase “ὁ ἀδελφός σου ὁ ἐν Καισαρεί& 139·,” it has been inferred by some that the two Eusebii were actually brothers. Eusebius of Nicomedia, in the letter of Chapter V., calls the Palestinian δεσπότης; but this alone would not be fatal to the brotherhood, for Seneca (Ep. Mor. 104), calls his brother Gallio dominus. The phrase of Arius is not worth much against the silence of every one else. Vid. Dict. Christ. Biog. Article, Eusebius. Theodotus, bishop of Laodicea, Syria, (not the Phrygian Laodicea of the Apocalypse), was a Physician of the body was well as of the soul (Euseb. H.E. vii. 32). Paulinus, bishop first of Tyre, and then of Antioch for six months, died in a.d. 329. (Philost. H.E. iii. 15, cf. Bishop Lightfoot in Dict. Christian Biog. Article, Eusebius of Cæsarea). Athanasius, bishop of Anazarbus, an important town of Cilicia Campestris, is accused of dangerous Arianism by his great namesake. (Athan. de Synod, 584.) Gregorius succeeded Eusebius of Nicomedia at Berytus (Beyrout), on the translation of the latter to Nicomedia. Aetius, Bishop of Lydda, (the Lydda of the Acts, on the plain of Sharon, now Ludd, the city of El-Khudr, who is identified with St. George), died soon after the Arian Synod of Antioch, a.d. 330 (Philost. H.E. iii. 12), and is to be distinguished from the arch-Arian Aetius, Julian’s friend, who survived till a.d. 367 (Phil. H.E. ix. 6). Philogonius was raised to the episcopate per saltum, like St. Ambrose (Chrysost. Orat. 71, tom. v. p. 507), he preceded the Arian Paulinus. Hellanicus was present at Nicæa, but was driven from the See of Tripolis, in Phœnicia, by the Arians (Athan. Hist. Ar. ad Mon. §5). Macarius is praised by Athanasius (Orat. I. adv. Arian. p. 291). On a possible “passage of arms” between him and Eusebius of Cæsarea at Nicæa, vide Stanley, Eastern Church, Lect. V. Cf. post, cap. xvii.