bluntly attacked by Eleusius, the ex-soldier and Semi-Arian Bishop of Cyzicus.
On Friday Acacius refused once more to take part in any further deliberations and Leonas joined with him, on the plea, as he averred, that the Emperor had not sent him to preside over a council of bishops who could not agree among themselves. The majority thereupon convened without them and deposed Acacius and some fifteen other prelates. That astute leader, however, did not wait for the formal vote of deposition against him, but set out immediately, with eight others, for Constantinople. On arriving there he discovered that his object had already been secured by the advent of a number of disaffected deputies from Ariminum. The famous conference of Niké (near Hadrianople) had taken place and the ὅμοιος, without the supposed safeguard of the κατὰ πάντα, had been adopted. This led to a fresh synod held at the suggestion of Constantius in the imperial city itself. It meant the complete triumph of the indefatigable Acacius. Homœan ideas were established at Constantinople; and, although their influence never lasted very long in the West, they enjoyed a fluctuating but disquieting supremacy in the East for nearly twenty years longer. Acacius returned to his see in 361 and spent the next two years of his life in filling the vacant sees of Palestine with men who were thought to sympathize with his policy of theological vagueness and Anti-Nicenism. With characteristic adroitness he consented to a complete change of front and made a public profession of adherence to the Nicæan formularies on the accession of Jovian in 363. When the Arian Valens was proclaimed Augustus in 364, however, Acacius once more reconsidered his views and took sides with Eudoxius; but his versatility this time served him to little purpose. When the Macedonian bishops met at Lampsacus, the sentence previously passed against him was confirmed and he is heard of no more in authentic history. Baronius gives the date of his death as 366.
For bibliography see Acacians.
Acacius, Patriarch of Constantinople; Schismatic; d. 489. When Acacius first appears in authentic history it is as the ὀρφανοτρόφος, or dignitary entrusted with the care of the orphans, in the Church of Constantinople. He thus filled an ecclesiastical post that conferred upon its possessor high rank as well as curial influence; and, if we may borrow a hint as to his real character from the phrases in which Suidas has attempted to describe his undoubtedly striking personality, he early made the most of his opportunities. He seems to have affected an engaging magnificence of manner; was open-handed; suave, yet noble, in demeanour; courtly in speech, and fond of a certain ecclesiastical display. On the death of the Patriarch Gennadius, in 471, he was chosen to succeed him, and for the first five or six years of his episcopate his life was uneventful enough. But there came a change when the usurping Emperor Basiliscus allowed himself to be won over to Eutychian teaching by Timotheus Ælurus, the Monophysite Patriarch of Alexandria, who chanced at that time to be a guest in the imperial capital. Timotheus, who had been recalled from exile only a short time previously, was bent on creating an effective opposition to the decrees of Chalcedon; and he succeeded so well at court that Basiliscus was induced to put forth an encyclical or imperial proclamation (ἐγκύκλιος) in which the teaching of the Council was rejected. Acacius himself seems to have hesitated at first about adding his name to the list of the Asiatic bishops who had already signed the encyclical; but, warned by a letter from Pope Simplicius, who had learned of his questionable attitude from the ever-vigilant monastic party, he reconsidered his position and threw himself violently into the debate. This sudden change of front redeemed him in popular estimation, and he won the regard of the orthodox, particularly among the various monastic communities throughout the East, by his now ostentatious concern for sound doctrine. The fame of his awakened zeal even travelled to the West, and Pope Simplicius wrote him a letter of commendation. The chief circumstance to which he owed this sudden wave of popularity was the adroitness with which he succeeded in putting himself at the head of the particular movement of which Daniel the Stylite was both the coryphæus and the true inspirer. The agitation was, of course, a spontaneous one on the part of its monastic promoters and of the populace at large, who sincerely detested Eutychian theories of the Incarnation; but it may be doubted whether Acacius, either in orthodox opposition now, or in unorthodox efforts at compromise later on, was anything profounder than a politician seeking to compass his own personal ends. Of theological principles he seems never to have had a consistent grasp. He had the soul of a gamester, and he played only for influence. Basiliscus was beaten.
He withdrew his offensive encyclical by a counter-proclamation, but his surrender did not save him. His rival Zeno, who had been a fugitive up to the time of the Acacian opposition, drew near the capital. Basiliscus, deserted on all sides, sought sanctuary in the cathedral church and was given up to his enemies, tradition says, by the time-serving Patriarch. For a brief space there was complete accord between Acacius, the Roman Pontiff, and the dominant party of Zeno, on the necessity for taking stringent methods to enforce the authority of the Fathers of Chalcedon; but trouble broke out once more when the Monophysite party of Alexandria attempted to force the notorious Peter Mongus into that see against the more orthodox claims of John Talaia in the year 482. This time events took on a more critical aspect, for they gave Acacius the opportunity he seems to have been waiting for all along of exalting the authority of his see and claiming for it a primacy of honour and jurisdiction over the entire East, which would emancipate the bishops of the capital not only from all responsibility to the sees of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, but to the Roman Pontiff as well. Acacius, who had now fully ingratiated himself with Zeno, induced that emperor to take sides with Mongus. Pope Simplicius made a vehement but ineffectual protest, and Acacius replied by coming forward as the apostle of re-union for all the East. It was a specious and far-reaching scheme, but it laid bare eventually the ambitions of the Patriarch of Constantinople and revealed him, to use Cardinal Hergenröther's illuminating phrase, as "the forerunner of Photius."
The first effective measure which Acacius adopted in his new role was to draw up a document, or series of articles, which constituted at once both a creed and an instrument of reunion. This creed, known to students of theological history as the Henotikon, was originally directed to the irreconcilable factions in Egypt. It was a plea for re-union on a basis of reticence and compromise. And under this aspect it suggests a significant comparison with another and better known set of "articles" composed nearly eleven centuries later, when the leaders of the Anglican schism were thridding a careful way between the extremes of Roman teaching on the one side and of Lutheran and Calvinistic negations on the other. The Henoticon affirmed the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (i.e. the Creed of Nicæa completed at Constantinople) as affording a common symbol or expression of faith in which all parties could unite. All other σύμβολα or μαθήματα were excluded; Eutyches and Nestorius were unmistakably condemned,