Athanasius, Intimidated by the Emperor's Threats, Returns to Rome Again.
At this time another accusation was concocted against Athanasius by the Arians, who invented this pretext for it. The father of the Augusti had long before granted an allowance of corn to the church of the Alexandrians for the relief of the indigent. This, they asserted, had usually been sold by Athanasius, and the proceeds converted to his own advantage. The emperor, giving credence to this slanderous report, threatened Athanasius with death, as a penalty; who, becoming alarmed at the intimation of this threat, took to flight, and kept himself concealed. When Julius, bishop of Rome, was apprised of these fresh machinations of the Arians against Athanasius, and had also received the letter of the then deceased Eusebius, he invited the persecuted Athanasius to come to him, having ascertained where he was secreted. The epistle also of the bishops who had been some time before assembled at Antioch, just then reached him; and at the same time others from the bishops in Egypt, assuring him that the entire charge against Athanasius was a fabrication. On the receipt of these contradictory communications, Julius first replied to the bishops who had written to him from Antioch, complaining of the acrimonious feeling they had evinced in their letter, and charging them with a violation of the canons, because they had not requested his attendance at the council, [289] seeing that the ecclesiastical law required that the churches should pass no decisions contrary to the views of the bishop of Rome: he then censured them with great severity for clandestinely attempting to pervert the faith; in addition, that their former proceedings at Tyre were fraudulent, because the investigation of what had taken place at Mareotes was on one side of the question only; not only this, but that the charge respecting Arsenius had plainly been proved a false charge. Such and similar sentiments did Julius write in his answer to the bishops convened at Antioch; we should have inserted here at length, these as well as those letters which were addressed to Julius, did not their prolixity interfere with our purpose. But Sabinus, the advocate of the Macedonian heresy, of whom we have before spoken, has not incorporated the letters of Julius in his Collection of Synodical Transactions; [290] although he has not omitted that which the bishops of Antioch sent to Julius. This, however, is usual with him; he carefully introduces such letters as make no reference to, or wholly repudiate the term homoousion; while he purposely passes over in silence those of a contrary tendency. This is sufficient on this subject. Not long after this, Paul, pretending to make a journey from Thessalonica to Corinth, arrived in Italy: upon which both the bishops [291] made an appeal to the emperor of those parts, laying their respective cases before him.


[289] Sozom. X. 3 follows Socrates. The contents of the letter written by Julius to the Eusebians, found in Athanasius' Apologia contra Arianos, c. 20, are different from those here given by Socrates. Julius there complains of their ignoring his invitation to the synod at Rome, but says nothing of any canon such as is mentioned here. Cf. ch. 8, note 2.

[290] See above, ch. 15.

[291] Athanasius and Paul.

chapter xvi the emperor constantius through
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