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Chapter XIX.—Further Particulars concerning the Term “Consubstantial.” Council of Ariminum, the Manner, Source, and Reason of its Convention.

It is not surprising that the Emperor Constantius was induced to adopt the use of the term “homoiousios,” for it was admitted by many priests who conformed to the doctrines of the Nicæan council. 1271 Many use the two words indifferently, to convey the same meaning. Hence, it appears to me, that the Arians departed greatly from the truth when they affirmed that, after the council of Nicæa, many of the priests, among whom were Eusebius and Theognis, refused to admit that the Son is consubstantial with the Father, and that Constantine was in consequence so indignant, that he condemned them to banishment. They say that it was afterwards revealed to his sister by a dream or a vision from God, that these bishops held orthodox doctrines and had suffered unjustly; and that the emperor thereupon recalled them, and demanded of them wherefore they had departed from the Nicene doctrines, since they had been participants in the document concerning the faith which had been there framed; and that they urged in reply that they had not assented to those doctrines from conviction, but from the fear that, if the disputes then existing were prolonged, the emperor, who was then just beginning to embrace Christianity, and who was yet unbaptized, might be impelled to return to Paganism, as seemed likely, and to persecute the Church. They assert that Constantine was pleased with this defense, and determined upon convening another council; but that, being prevented by death from carrying his scheme into execution, the task devolved upon his eldest son, Constantius, to whom he represented that it would avail him nothing to be possessed of imperial power, unless he could establish uniformity of worship throughout his empire; and Constantius they say, at the instigation of his father, convened a council at Ariminum. 1272 This story is easily seen to be a gross fabrication, for the council was convened during the consulate of Hypatius and Eusebius, and twenty-two years after Constantius had, on the death of his father, succeeded to the empire. Now, during this interval of twenty-two years, many councils were held, in which debates were carried on concerning the terms “homoousios” and “homoiousios.” No one, it appears, ventured to deny that the Son is of like substance 1273 with the Father, until Aëtius, by starting a contrary opinion, so offended the emperor that, in order to arrest the course of the heresy, he commanded the priests to assemble themselves together at Ariminum and at Seleucia. Thus the true cause of this council being convened was not the command of Constantine, 1274 but the question agitated by Aëtius. And this will become still more apparent by what we shall hereafter relate.



An independent chapter on the true cause of division and the origin of the council of Ariminum. Cf. Athan. Ep. de Synodis.


Cf. Soc. ii. 37.


κατ᾽ οὐσίαν ἀνόμοιον is the right correction of Valesius.


A mistake for Constantius.

Next: Athanasius again reinstated by the Letter of Constantius, and receives his See. The Arch-Priests of Antioch. Question put by Constantius to Athanasius. The Praise of God in Hymns.