Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume II/Socrates/Book II/Chapter 26
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Chapter XXVI.—After the Death of Constans, the Western Emperor, Paul and Athanasius are again ejected from their Sees: the Former on his Way into Exile is slain; but the Latter escapes by Flight.
The conflux of these disastrous events occurred during a short space of time; for they happened in the fourth year after the council at Sardica, during the consulate of Sergius and Nigrinian.
When these circumstances were published, the entire sovereignty of the empire seemed to devolve on Constantius alone, who, being accordingly proclaimed in the East sole Autocrat, made the most vigorous preparations against the usurpers. Hereupon the adversaries of Athanasius, thinking a favorable crisis had arisen, again framed the most calumnious charges against him, before his arrival at Alexandria; assuring the Emperor Constantius that he was subverting all Egypt and Libya. And his having undertaken to ordain out of the limits of his own diocese, tended not a little to accredit the accusations against him. Meanwhile in this conjuncture, Athanasius entered Alexandria; and having convened a council of the bishops in Egypt, they confirmed by their unanimous vote, what had been determined in the Synod at Sardica, and that assembled at Jerusalem by Maximus. But the emperor, who had been long since imbued with Arian doctrine, reversed all the indulgent proceedings he had so recently resolved on. And first of all he ordered that Paul, bishop of Constantinople, should be sent into exile; whom those who conducted strangled, at Cucusus in Cappadocia. Marcellus was also ejected, and Basil again made ruler of the church at Ancyra. Lucius of Adrianople, being loaded with chains, died in prison. The reports which were made concerning Athanasius so wrought on the emperor’s mind, that in an ungovernable fury he commanded him to be put to death wherever he might be found: he moreover included Theodulus and Olympius, who presided over churches in Thrace, in the same proscription. Athanasius, however, was not ignorant of the intentions of the emperor; but learning of them he once more had recourse to flight, and so escaped the emperor’s menaces. The Arians denounced this retreat as criminal, particularly Narcissus, bishop of Neronias in Cilicia, George of Laodicæa, and Leontius who then had the oversight of the church at Antioch. This last person, when a presbyter, had been divested of his rank,
because in order to remove all suspicion of illicit intercourse with a woman named Eustolium, with whom he spent a considerable portion of his time, he had castrated himself and thenceforward lived more unreservedly with her, on the ground that there could be no longer any ground for evil surmises. Afterwards however, at the earnest desire of the Emperor Constantius, he was created bishop of the church at Antioch, after Stephen, the successor of Placitus. So much respecting this.
- 350 a.d.
- Cf. Apost. Cann. XXII. and XXIII.; according to these any cleric was to be deposed if found guilty of such a crime. The Council of Nicæa also passed a canon on the subject which is as follows: ‘If a man has been mutilated by physicians during sickness, or by barbarians, he may remain among the clergy; but if a man in good health has mutilated himself, he must resign his post after the matter has been proved among the clergy, and in future no one who has thus acted should be ordained. But as it is evident that what has just been said only concerns those who have thus acted with intention, and have dared to mutilate themselves, those who have been made eunuchs by barbarians or by their masters will be allowed, conformably to the canon, to remain among the clergy, if in other respects they are worthy.’ Canon I. See Hefele, Hist. of the Councils, Vol. I. p. 375, 376.