Chapter XXI.—List of the Places in which the Nicene Doctrines were Represented; Faith manifested by the Scythians; Vetranio, the Leader of this Race.
Arianism met with similar opposition at the same period in Osröene; but in the Cappadocias, Providence allotted such a divine and most educated pair of men,—Basil, the bishop of Cæsarea in that country, and Gregory, bishop of Nazianzen. 1465 Syria and the neighboring provinces, and more especially the city of Antioch, were plunged into confusion and disorder; for the Arians were very numerous in these parts, and had possession of the churches. The members of the Catholic Church were not, however, few in number. They were called Eustathians and Paulinists, and were under the guidance of Paulinus and Meletius, as has been before stated. It was through their instrumentality that the church of Antioch was preserved from the encroachments of the Arians, and enabled to resist the zeal of the emperor and of those in power about him. Indeed, it appears that in all the churches which were governed by brave men, the people did not deviate from their former opinions.
It is said that this was the cause of the firmness with which the Scythians adhered to their p. 359 faith. There are in this country a great number of cities, villages, and fortresses. The metropolis is called Tomi; it is a large and populous city, and lies on the sea-shore to the left of one sailing to the sea, called the Euxine.
According to an ancient custom which still prevails, all the churches of the whole country are under the sway of one bishop. 1466
Vetranio ruled over these churches at the period that the emperor visited Tomi. Valens repaired to the church, and strove, according to his usual custom, to gain over the bishop to the heresy of Arius; but this latter manfully opposed his arguments, and after a courageous defense of the Nicene doctrines, quitted the emperor and proceeded to another church, whither he was followed by the people. Almost the entire city had crowded to see the emperor, for they expected that something extraordinary would result from this interview with the bishop.
Valens was extremely offended at being left alone in the church with his attendants, and in resentment, condemned Vetranio to banishment. Not long after, however, he recalled him, because, I believe, he apprehended an insurrection; for the Scythians were offended at the absence of their bishop.
He well knew that the Scythians were a courageous nation, and that their country, by the position of its places, possessed many natural advantages which rendered it necessary to the Roman Empire, for it served as a barrier to ward off the barbarians.
Thus was the intention of the ruler openly frustrated by Vetranio. The Scythians themselves testify that he was good in all other respects and eminent for the virtue of his life.
The resentment of the emperor was visited upon all the clergy except those of the Western churches; for Valentinian, who reigned over the Western regions, was an admirer of the Nicene doctrines, and was imbued with so much reverence for religion, that he never imposed any commands upon the priests, nor ever attempted to introduce any alteration for better or for worse in ecclesiastical regulations. Although he had become one of the best of emperors, and had shown his capacity to rule affairs, he considered that ecclesiastical matters were beyond the range of his jurisdiction.
This is an independent chapter. Cf. Theodoret, H. E. iv. 35.359:1466
Sozomen repeats this below, in vii. 19, where he recounts the various local customs prevailing in the ecclesiastical system.