{iii} THE Works of which this Volume is composed, being of an historical character, naturally require a Chronological Table of the principal events recorded in them; but the difficulties of forming any satisfactory statement, during the period to which they belong, are so great, that any arrangement can be but hypothetical, and must be accompanied with some notice of the difficulties themselves, and the various expedients which have been adopted with the view of overcoming them. Though such notice will be necessarily very imperfect, it shall here be attempted.

1. Interposition of Pope Julius in the affairs of the East

It is certain, that both the Eusebians and the Egyptian Bishops had recourse to Rome; that Athanasius went thither; that a synodal judgment was passed there; and that Legates went from S. Julius to Antioch; but the order and dates of these events are variously determined. For the sake of perspicuity, it will be necessary in the first place to take a view of the transactions to which dates are to be assigned; though it is impossible to do so, without prejudging some of the questions in dispute.

It appears then, that shortly after the return of S. Athanasius to Alexandria from his exile in Gaul, the Eusebian party brought charges against him before the three Emperors, (infr. pp. 18, 226,) and the Pope, (p. 37.) Their embassy or legation to the latter consisted of Macarius, Martyrius, and {iv} Hesychius, (pp. 42, 47.) and they were met by a counter deputation from S. Athanasius, (pp. 44, 226,) supported, (p. 48,) or preceded, (p. 43,) by letters from many Catholic Bishops, (pp. 47, 70,) and by a letter to the Pope, (p. 38,) which an Alexandrian Council of from eighty, (p. 61,) to one hundred Bishops, (p. 14,) had written in his favour, (pp. 14, 17, and 48.) The discussions which ensued at Rome perhaps were held before a Council of Bishops then present, (p. 46,) and ended in the defeat of the Eusebian legates, (p. 43,) one of whom abruptly left the city in consequence, (p. 44.) Julius, however, did not decide the matter at once, but at their suggestion, (pp. 39, 42, 226,) proposed a Council, (p. 11,) at which both Eusebians, (p. 54,) and Athanasius should attend, (p. 40,) and the Alexandrians have the choice of place, (p. 226.) Athanasius, who was otherwise disposed to betake himself to Rome, in consequence of the outrages of Gregory whom the Arian Council of the Dedication had sent to Alexandria in his place, (p. 227,) promptly obeyed the call (p. 49); and on his arrival at Rome, the Pope sent Elpidius and Philoxenus as legates to Antioch, (p. 39,) with a letter to the Eusebians, (p. 46,) repeating the invitation to a Council, (p. 41,) and fixing the day, (pp. 45, 227.) There they were detained over the time, ibid. and at length came back with a refusal on the part of the Orientals to attend (pp. 40, 46, 47); though the Eusebian legates had not only been the originators of the measure, but had gone so far as to offer to submit the question to the arbitration of the Pope, (p. 39.) Upon this Julius proceeded to hold a Council of fifty Bishops, (pp. 14, 39, 230,) at which Athanasius and others were pronounced innocent and admitted to communion, ibid. and in the name of which, (pp. 39, 46,) the Pope, eighteen months from the date of Athanasius's arrival, (p. 49,) proceeded to address a letter of remonstrance to the Orientals, who had written to him from Antioch.

This is a sketch of the history, and now to proceed to its chronology. The only date which is known for certain is that of the Eusebian Council of Antioch, held A.D. 341. {v} This we learn from Athanasius, de Syn. §. 25. “Ninety Bishops,” he says, “met at the Dedication under the Consulate of Marcellinus and Probinus, in the 14th of the Indiction;” L. F. vol. 8, p. 109. As, in dating by the Indiction, the new year began in September, the Council must have assembled during the spring or summer of 341; nay, it would appear, in the first months of it, if Gregory, who was appointed in it to the See of Alexandria, began his persecution at Alexandria in that year. Gregory entered Alexandria during Lent, (infr. p. 7.) that is, either in Lent 341 while the Council was still sitting, or the Lent following. Upon Gregory's coming, Athanasius left Alexandria for Rome, that is, after Easter; thus Athanasius's visit to Rome commences in the spring of 341 or 342; unless indeed we suppose with Mansi, that Gregory's invasion and Athanasius's flight were prior to the Council of the Dedication, viz. in 340. He remained at Rome three years, (p. 158.) and in the fourth year was called by Constans to Milan. Now in the latter part of 345 the delegates of the Eusebians also came to Milan, Eudoxius, Martyrius, and Macedonius, (vid. L. F. vol. 8, p. 111.) with the Macrostich or Long Confession, which had been drawn up at Antioch in the beginning of the year. They presented themselves before a Council there, according to a letter of Liberius, of the date of 354; which rejected them; and that, according to the same letter, eight years before that date, which nearly agrees with Athanasius's account of the publication of the Macrostich. It is natural to connect this visit of the Eusebians to Milan with the summons of Athanasius by Constans to that city, and to conclude that the proceedings of the Council issued in the resolution which the Emperor adopted at this time to treat with his brother for the meeting of a General Council. If so, the date of Athanasius's journey to Rome is 342. And it certainly seems much more probable that Gregory should proceed to Alexandria the Lent after the Dedication, than that the ecclesiastical {vi} and military acts and movements [Note 1] which attended his expedition should be despatched between January and Lent, which the date of 341 requires, i.e. did not Athanasius's words p. 226. on the other hand shew that the Eusebians were very much bent on the measure, and were likely to prosecute it promptly. And Baronius and others date the Councils of the Macrostich and of Milan at 344, not 345, which throws back the journey of Athanasius to 341. And moreover if the Anonymus Maffeianus, relied on by Mansi, be correct, the Council of Sardica was held at the end of 344, a date which may just allow time for a preliminary Council of Milan (in 344.) between the Sardican Council and the end of three years from May 341. In this uncertainty about the year of Athanasius's journey to Rome, 341 may be more fitly taken than 342 or 340, as having the suffrages of more critics in its favour. But in this question does not consist the main difficulty of the chronology on the point before us, which is internal to the documents which are to follow, arising out of the relative not the absolute dates which they contain.

It appears that S. Athanasius was eighteen months at Rome before Pope Julius's letter, (p. 49;) that is, the Council of Rome, in or upon which he wrote it, was ending or just ended eighteen months after Athanasius's arrival, or in the month of October or rather November, since he set out for Rome after Easter. But the meeting of the Council was fixed for a day before the January preceding that November; because the Pope's legates who were sent into the East upon Athanasius's arrival at Rome are said, by being kept at Antioch till January, to be kept over the time {vii} of meeting. Thus we have an interval of eleven months between the meeting and the termination. It follows then that the Council did not meet at the time proposed, or that it was continued for nearly a whole year, or that there were two Councils, one in December, the other in November. Now as to the last supposition, it is most improbable that the same Bishops of Italy should meet twice over at so short a period, and Julius and Athanasius speak distinctly of but one synodal body, (even supposing they are not clear about one meeting,) which both pronounced the innocence of Athanasius and commissioned Julius to write. Still less is it conceivable that the Council should be prolonged for ten or eleven months. Nor can we easily conjecture, what is at first sight plausible, a postponement of the day of meeting, for Julius seems positively to say that they met at the very time for which they had been convened. (p. 46.)

In this difficulty, which can on no hypothesis perhaps be satisfactorily removed, some critics have thrown the fault, as it may be called, upon one place in the history, others on another.

The form in which it has been above exhibited is that which arises out of the arrangement of facts and dates first suggested by Valesius, and adopted after him by Schelstrate, Pagi, Montfaucon, Coustant, Du Pin, S. Basnage, and others. It seems far more natural and less open to objections than any other; and perhaps the readiest explanation of the difficulty, which has been above described as attaching to it, is to consider the letter of Pope Julius to be later than the Italian Council by eleven months, and written in the ordinary Autumnal Synod (Baron. 342. 34.), to which, on occasion of the delay of the Eusebians, the Italian Council of December, might naturally delegate [Note 2], as to a sort of Committee, the office of concluding negociations with them and issuing the Council's sentence, whenever the legates of the {viii} Pope should return. What makes this the more probable is, that Julius speaks of Athanasius as being among the Romans eighteen months. “He continued here a year and six months, … his presence overcame us all,” p. 49, words which properly belong to Bishops residing in the neighbourhood, not to an Italian Council. It is observable, moreover, that Julius says, “the sentiments I am expressing are not those of myself alone, but of all the Bishops throughout Italy, and in these parts,” [en toutois tois meresi], p. 46. (Baronius, however, adduces this passage in order to shew that S. Julius's first letter issued from a Council.) And he proceeds, “The Bishops now too, [kai nun], assembled on the appointed day,” as if there had been a former appointment, and that punctually kept; (though Valesius and Schelstrate understand the words, “I again write,” which follow, to refer to Julius's former communication with the Eusebians before Athanasius's coming, as we may understand it still.) And that a delay of some kind was occasioned in the proceedings at Rome by the conduct of the Eusebians, is plain, as various critics observe, from Julius's words, p. 40, “I, when I had read your letter, after much consideration, kept it to myself, thinking that after all some of you would come … but when no one arrived, and it became necessary that the letter should be produced, &c.” This passage too accounts for the long interval between the departure of the legates from the Eusebians in January, and the Pope's Letter to them of the November following in answer.

Such is the disposition of the dates which is the most satisfactory on the whole; but it must not be concealed, that names of the greatest weight may be alleged in favour of other chronological arrangements. Such is Baronius, who has been followed by Labbe, Petavius, and others; such are Hermant, Papebroke, and Tillemont, who adopt a third hypothesis. Such again is Mansi, who follows an arrangement of his own, founded on a document which has come to light since the time of his predecessors. {ix}

Baronius supposes two visits of Athanasius to Rome, and two Italian Councils held there. He refers to a statement of Socrates, as apparently the basis of the former of these suppositions; though Socrates is so inextricably perplexed in his account of the events and even of the names of persons which occur in the history, that it is difficult to determine what he does and what he does not say on this point. Baronius refers to Hist. ii. 11. where no such statement occurs. He may be taken, however, to say, (e.g. ii. 15.) that Athanasius after his acquittal at Rome returned to Alexandria before the violent entrance of Gregory, upon which he retired to Rome a second time. Accordingly, Baronius terminates the eighteen months some time before Lent, 342, which he considers the date of Gregory's entrance, or towards the close of 341, and places their commencement, that is, the first journey of Athanasius in the early part of 340, and the Council of Alexandria in 339. Further, since the termination of the eighteen months must coincide with the date of the Roman Council, which acquitted Athanasius, he supposes that Council to have been held in 341, before the outrages of Gregory, and before the return of the legates, whom he sends into the East in 340, previous to Athanasius' first journey, and brings back to Rome not till 342, when Julius holds a second Council, in which he writes his synodal letter.

Baronius urges in behalf of his two Councils that Pope Julius notices in his Letter written from the Council, the complaint of the Eusebians that Athanasius had been admitted to communion, which was undeniably the act of the Council of fifty Bishops. Valesius answers first by denying that Julius notices any such complaint, next by arguing that the act of the Council of fifty was not mere admission into communion, for Athanasius had never been out of communion, and of this the Eusebians might be complaining, but a formal recognition of his being, and deserving to be, in communion with the Church. And hence Athanasius says, that they gave him “the confirmation of their fellowship,” {x} p. 39. [ekurosan ten koinonian]. As to the question, which has been raised, whether the Pope suspended communion with Athanasius, it is treated of by Tillemont, vol. 8. p. 673.

Tillemont, though he agrees with Baronius in supposing two journeys of S. Athanasius to Rome, follows Papebroke in differing from him altogether in the dates at which he places them. He argues that the Council at Rome must be dated shortly after the Council of the Dedication at Antioch 341; after it, because Julius complains that the Eusebians had anticipated him [Note 3], (p. 50.) and but shortly after, because they pleaded the suddenness of the summons to Rome as a reason for not going, whereas it had been sent them by the Pope's legates as far back as the foregoing year. And he considers that the legates set out in the year 340, because in Athanasius's Encyclical Letter, written in the spring of 341, mention is made (p. 11.) of an intention at Rome to hold a Council for settling the existing troubles, an intention moreover the news of which occasioned the Eusebians to assemble at Antioch in 341. Accordingly he places the Council of Rome in June of that year; and this, in spite of S. Julius's express statement that January, when the legates were dismissed from Antioch, was about (because just beyond) the time when the Council was held, meeting the difficulty by an arbitrary alteration of the text, of June for January. And he supposes the Council to continue by adjournment and representation till the return of the legates, when S. Julius wrote his letter to the Eusebians. Athanasius's eighteen months therefore terminated at this date, i.e. in the autumn of 341; but, as agreeing with Valesius in fixing Gregory's arrival at Alexandria in Lent of that year, Tillemont is obliged to suppose that the eighteen months were not consecutive, even if they were complete. He dates Athanasius's first coming as at the end of 339 [Note 4]; considers that he {xi} returned to Alexandria in the course of 340 on the rumour of the Eusebian movements at Antioch, and retired a second time to Rome on the forcible entrance of Gregory during the Lent following.

Valesius argues against the double journey of Athanasius from the strong negative fact that Athanasius nowhere speaks of more than one, (vid. infr. pp. 39, &c. 158, 227, &c.) He considers too that he could not have returned to Alexandria without formal Letters from Constantius, which there is no appearance of his obtaining.

Mansi differs from other critics in this, that he rejects the testimony of Socrates, &c. upon which it rests that Gregory's appointment proceeded from the Council of the Dedication, and considers his violences at Alexandria to have taken place in Lent 340. He argues from the language of Athanasius in his Encyclical Letter and elsewhere that Gregory certainly was not elected by Bishops, and therefore not in a Council, (vid. infr. pp. 5, 64, 229, &c.) Yet surely, according to Socrates, &c. Athanasius was deposed by the Council “because he had violated a rule which they themselves then passed,” viz. that he had exercised his episcopal office without the formal leave of a Council of Bishops; and it can hardly be supposed that, when the Eusebians took the pains to be thus formal, they had already despatched Gregory to take possession of the Alexandrian See. And Pope Julius's letter too, p. 50 fin. implies that the Council passed some act against Athanasius. Hence Schelstrate and Pagi maintain that he was not deposed till after the question of faith and at least some canons had been settled. Mansi, however, relies upon a document discovered by Maffei in the Veronese Library, presently to be mentioned, which anticipates the date of Athanasius's return after the Council of Sardica by some years, placing it on Oct. 21, 346. and assigning six years and six months for the length of his exile. In consequence he fixes Athanasius's flight from Gregory and journey to Rome at the beginning of 340, agreeing with Baronius and Papebroke {xii} in supposing that it was preceded, as Sozomen reports Hist. ii. 9. by a time of concealment. He places the Council of Rome at the end of the eighteen months after Athanasius's arrival, i.e. towards the end of 341. And he argues that the Council of the Dedication was held in the month of August, from the circumstance of St. Jerome's assigning the Council in his Chronicon to the fifth year of the Emperors, (as does Socrates Hist. ii. 8.) while the fourteenth of the Indiction, which is also its date, ended with the beginning of September. But the fifth year from Constantine's death began on May 22; and from the new Emperors' assumption of the title of Augustus, not in August as Mansi states, (vid. Suppl. Cone. p. 175.) but on Sept. 9. vid. Tillem. Emp. t. 4. p. 312. l'Art de verifier les Dates, t. 1. p. 392.

The mention of the accession of the sons of Constantine leads to the notice of one date in which Schelstrate, Pagi, and Montfaucon, as well as Papebroke, and Tillemont, side with Baronius against Valesius, who wishes to make 337 instead of 338 the year of S. Athanasius's return from Gaul. Valesius argues in favour of 337, from the circumstances that Constantine the younger in his letter to the Church of Alexandria, (infr. p. 121.) which is dated June 17, designates himself as “Cæsar,” not by the title of Augustus, which he assumed with his brothers the September after his accession, i.e. Sept. 9, 337. Valesius adds, that while the brothers were but Cæsars, Constantine would have the highest authority of the three, as being the eldest; as if thus accounting for Constantine's writing to the Alexandrians, not Constantius their sovereign. Tillemont, after Schelstrate and Pagi, urges in reply the testimony of Theodoret, who says that Athanasius was two years and four months at Treves; and as he arrived there not before the end of 335, (Tillem. Montf.) or in 336, (Baron. Schelstr) he did not leave till 338. Moreover, Constantine's letter was written too soon after his father's death, on the supposition of its belonging to 337, to allow even of {xiii} his hearing of that event, much less of his speaking, as he does, of his father's wishes as regards Athanasius. It appears too that the three brothers met in Pannonia in 338, where Athanasius tells us, (infr. p. 159,) he had about this time an interview with Constantius, viz. at Viminacium; it is natural then to suppose that the letter of Constantine was the consequence of the meetings then and there held. And while Athanasius, (infr. p. 225,) expressly says, that his return was the joint act of the three brothers, it is known that Constantius and Constans were at Viminacium in June 338, since one of their laws bears this date and place; not to say that, according to Epiphanius, Constantius's approbation of the return of Athanasius was given when that Emperor was at Antioch, which he is known to have been in October 338. (vid. Schelstrate, Pagi.) As to Valesius's difficulty about Constantine's title, Pagi solves it by observing that Constantine was writing to a Church under his brother's jurisdiction, and in such case he would naturally drop the title Augustus, though he was in possession of it. He refers to parallel instances. And as to Constantine's writing at all, it is sufficient to answer that Treves where Athanasius was staying was within his territory.

Valesius also maintains, that the Encyclical Letter was written on occasion of the second attack on the Alexandrian Church, by George in 356, not upon the first under Gregory. He is misled by the faults in the text noticed infr. p. 1, which Baronius had corrected from the necessity of the case, and which Montfaucon has been able to set right from one of his Mss. To meet the difficulty which the mention of Philagrius creates, of whose connection with Gregory we are informed by Athanasius himself, infr. p. 224, Pagi, who, as well as Schelstrate, follows Valesius in this point, supposes that there were two Prefects of the name of Philagrius, the second the son of the first. He supports this supposition by the mention which occurs, (ibid.) of a Philagrius, Vicar of Cappadocia, i.e. under the Prefect, and who cannot, he considers, be the man who had served the higher office of Prefect of Egypt. In this way {xiv} would be explained the praise bestowed upon a Philagrius by Nazianzen, (vid. ibid. note b.) whom he supposes to be the second of the two.

2. The council of Sardica

If any period in the life of S. Athanasius might at first sight be considered free from chronological difficulties, it would be that which lies between his second and his third exiles. Baronius, Montfaucon, and Tillemont, whose dates we have found so discordant in the foregoing years, have hardly a subject of difference in those which follow. There is a general consent among them and the critics which come between them concerning the date of the Council of Sardica, the restoration of S. Athanasius, and the irruption of Syrianus and his flight. The great difficulties attaching to the Councils of Sirmium in these years scarcely fall into the narrative of his life. Thus stands the matter, if we confine ourselves to the discussions and researches of the seventeenth century. But in the course of the eighteenth a fresh source of information was discovered, which, while it added perplexity to the perplexed period which has already come under review, brought into serious difficulty the hitherto unquestioned dates of the Council of Sardica, and of S. Athanasius's return to Alexandria consequent upon it.

Maffei published from the Library of Verona a fragment of the Latin Version of Annals of the life of S. Athanasius, written apparently in Greek at Alexandria, and not very long after the times which it records. The high value which he sets upon this document, is confirmed by the judgment of Mansi and the Ballerini, the latter of whom call it an “aureum opusculum,” Observ. in Noris. p. 834. and the former has made it the basis of a new chronological arrangement [Note 5]. That it contains very great historical misstatements is evident at first sight; but it is a question whether these may not be attributed to the ignorance of the translator, errors in transcription, e.g. in numerals, and other causes; while on the other hand, were {xv} the mistakes even so numerous and flagrant, an apparent internal consistency as well as plausible external support may be urged in behalf of those particular statements, on which are founded the corrections of the chronology of the historical period now under review.

In the very passage which is of main importance in the inquiry, and with which the fragment opens, we find a glaring error, at variance too with the account which follows. “Post Gregorii mortem Athanasius reversus est ex urbe Româ … et remansit quietus apud Alexandriam annis xvi. et mens. vi.” whereas it is notorious, as the Annalist himself goes on to say, that he was driven into banishment again in little more than nine years.

In the paragraph that follows, the Author speaks of the Consuls of the year 349, as Hypatius and Catulinus, instead of Limenius; and of Eusebius of Nicomedia as then alive, who died in 341 or 342; and of the murder of Hermogenes at Constantinople, which took place at the same date. Mansi, however, has a very ingenious explanation of the mistake in the Consul's name.

Afterwards he speaks of Constans for Constantius, and Gregory for George.

The statement in which we are immediately concerned runs thus: “Et factus est, post Gregorii mortem Athanasius reversus est ex urbe Româ et partibus Italiæ et ingressus est Alexandriam, Phaophi xxiv. Consulibus Constantio iv. et Constante iii. hoc est post annos vi.” The Consuls named belong to 346, and the Egyptian date, according to Mansi, corresponds to October 21; whereas the received date of Athanasius's return is 349, and is computed thus:—Sozomen Hist. iii. 12. places the Council of Sardica in the Consulate of Rufinus and Eusebius, that is, A.D. 347. From the Council an embassy or legation was sent by Constans to his brother, consisting of Euphrates and Vincentius. What happened to them at Antioch we read infr. p. 235, and it took place “at the season of the most holy Easter,” which must {xvi} be 348, Easter-Day being April 3; now Gregory died “about ten months after,” p. 236; that is, in February 349, upon which Athanasius was restored to his see, ibid. But on the other hand, reckoning backwards, if his restoration took place, as the Annalist would have it, in 346, then Euphrates and Vincentius were at Antioch at Easter 345, and the Council took place in 344.

In another place the anonymous Annalist speaks of the irruption of Syrianus, infr. p. 206. as occurring, “Mechir xiii. die per noctem supervenientem xiv.” or February 9, which answers to the received account infr. p. 294. and adds, ”Hoc factum est post annos ix, et menses iii, ac dies xix, quam Italiâ reversus est Episcopus;” a period, which, reckoning according to Alexandrian months of thirty days, consistently answers, as Maffei and Mansi observe, to the interval between Oct. 21, 346. and Feb. 9, 356. One cannot suppose then the date assigned, whatever be its value, to have been altered in transcription or translation. It is the date intended by the Author. Now in St. Jerome's Chronicon, the year assigned for Athanasius's return, is the tenth year of Constans, that is, this very year 346, though the date A.D. is there otherwise marked, viz. as 350 (349). Theodoret too reckons the length of Gregory's usurpation at six years, which, however treated, cannot be made to reach to 349. Moreover, if Euphrates was convicted of Arianism in 346, which is the date assigned to the Council of Cologne, he could not have been a legate from the Council of Sardica to Constantius in Easter 348; but this difficulty, so celebrated in controversy, vanishes, if for 348 we substitute 345, as the date of the visit of Euphrates to Antioch. It may be added, that in Surius's Edition of the Council of Sardica, the Consuls of 344 are named in the title; which is also the case in an ancient Ms. of the Collection of Mercator formerly contained in the Jesuit Library at Paris, though other chronological specifications are added inconsistent with this date.

What alterations in the chronology of the period seem to be {xvii} required by this and other notices contained in the fragment under consideration, will be seen by inspecting Mansi's table, a specimen of which shall presently be given. Here the dates set down by the Annalist himself shall be set before the reader.

Entrance of S. Athanasius into Alexandria on his return from Italy. Oct. 21, 346.
Legation of five Bishops from S. Athanasius to Constans [Constantius] at Milan.   May 19, 353.
Montanus the Palatine enters Alexandria, four days after, with Letters
    from the Emperor to S. Athanasius prohibitory of his legation.
May 23, 353.
Diogenes the Notary comes to Alexandria with a view of driving S. Athanasius
    from the city.
  he was there 4 months from the intercalation (after July) to Dec. 22.
end of July,
Syrianus enters Alexandria. Jan. 5, 356.
Breaks into the Church at night. Feb. 9, 356.
George is driven from Alexandria. Oct. 2, 358.
Death of S. Athanasius. May 3, 373.

It does not fall within the scope of this Preface to enter into the Chronology of the Councils of Milan, upon which so much has been written. On the critics who have treated the subject and their respective judgments, vid. Pagi, ann. 344. n. 4.

3. Councils of Sirmium

Something was said on the subject of the Councils of Sirmium, in the eighth Volume of the Library of the Fathers, p. 160, in course of enumerating the Sirmian and other Confessions. Mansi, however, was scarcely referred to; and Zaccaria who has written after him not at all. A few words will be sufficient to supply the omission.

Socrates and Sozomen assign the condemnation of Photinus at Sirmium to a Council held there in 351. Baronius, Sirmond, and Gothofred, consider them mistaken, and fix it in the year 357, towards or at the end of which, Constantius came to that place, and remained there through the greater {xviii} part or whole of 358, and part of 359, (Gothofred in Philost. p. 200. Mansi, Suppl. Conc. p. 182. ed. 1748.) Petavius, Tillemont, S. Basnage, &c. speak of three Councils or Conferences of Sirmium, placing them respectively in 351, 357, and 359. Gothofred three, in 357, 358, 359. Mansi three, in 358, 359, 359. Zaccaria makes in all five, viz. in 349, (in which indeed he follows Petavius,) 351, 357, (at which Hosius lapsed,) 357 (following Valesius and Pagi,) and 359. The main point of dispute is, whether there are two dates for Sirmian Councils, 351, and 357-9, or but one, and that, at the latter period, the former date, though assigned by Socrates, being in that case impossible; and the main argument in favour of Baronius and Mansi, who assert that there was but one, is the improbability, be it great or be it little, that there should have been two Councils or Conferences in that city, of an ecumenical not local character, within a few years of each other. There does not seem much more to be said than this, against Petavius and other advocates for 351 and 357.

This is evident from the mode in which Mansi draws out his argument. He urges that Socrates and Sozomen, the two writers who date the Council at 351, nevertheless state, that “George, Bishop of Alexandria,” was present at it, that is, George of Cappadocia, who was not consecrated till 356, and was not driven from Alexandria till the end of August, (or Oct. 2, according to the Anonymus,) 358. The Council then was held towards the end of that year, a date at which we happen to know that Constantius was making a long stay at Sirmium. Such seems the utmost of Mansi's argument. Tillemont had already urged the mention of George to shew that there was a Sirmian Council at a later date, but it does follow from thence, as Tillemont well understands, that still Photinus was not condemned at an earlier Council held in 351. Now the reasons for the latter opinion, with the replies made to them, are as follows: 1. Socrates dates in this place by naming the Consuls (of the foregoing year,—there were no Consuls in 351,) and is never wrong, according to Petavius, when he dates by {xix} the Consuls. Mansi, however, denies this, and Zaccaria concedes it, vid, also infr. p. xxi. 2. The Council of Sirmium, says Tillemont, was composed of Bishops of the East, yet held in Illyricum, all which agrees with the date 351, when the West was under the power of usurpers; Mansi accounts for the fact by alleging that the West had already declared its judgment in two Councils held against Photinus at Rome and Milan. 3. Basil of Ancyra, who was the life of the Council against Photinus, opposed himself at Ancyra to the Council of 357 or 358; which obliges us to distinguish between the two Councils. Mansi explains by stating, what was the fact, that there were two parties, Arians and Semi-Arians, at the Council, and that when the latter, of which Basil was the leader, left it, the former stayed and passed the Confession which Hosius subscribed, and Basil, &c. at Ancyra repudiated. 4. Germinius, who succeeded Photinus in the see of Sirmium, sat as Bishop as early as the Council of Milan, 355; it is answered, that at least he was Bishop of Cyzicus before the deposition of Photinus. 5. Theodore, who subscribed the formulary against Photinus, was dead in 355, that is, if the Theodore who subscribed was the Bishop of Heraclea, and this formulary the confession which Liberius signed. vid. Hilar. Fragm. vi. 7. 6. Cecropius of Nicomedia, says Zaccaria against Mansi, though not against Baronius, was present at the Council, but he was killed in the earthquake in that city, August 28, 358. 7. Pagi too observes, that the disputation between Basil and Photinus was taken down, according to Epiphanius, Hær. 71. p. 829. by “Callicrates, registrar of Rufinus the Prefect;” now if Prætorian Prefect be meant, Rufinus was Prefect of Illyricum 349-352. Exceptores or registrars were attached to all judges, Gothofr. Cod. Theod. t. 2. p. 459. but they are especially connected with Prætorian Prefects by Gothofred, ibid. Pancirollus Not. Dign. p. 36. and Lami Erud. Apost. p. 262. {xx}

4. The year of S. Athanasius's death

Though there is nothing in the following Treatises which leads specially to a discussion of the year of S Athanasius's death; yet since it is one of the principal points of controversy in a history which, as we have seen, abounds in chronological difficulties, and is closely connected with passages which occur below, it will not be out of place here to set down the opinions of various critics on the subject. Many of them are collected together in Fontanini's Dissertation appended to his Historia Literaria Aquileiensis.

Socrates places his death in the Consulate of Gratian ii. and Probus, that is, in 371; in which he is followed by Petavius; Hermant in his Life of S. Athanasius; P. F. Chifflet, (upon Ep. Paulin. 29.) Paulin. Illustr. part. 2. c. 11. p. 150; Papebroke in vit. Ath. p. 248; and Sollerius (who answers Pagi and Montfaucon in a very disagreeable tone) de Patriarchis Alexandrinis, Act. SS. in t. 5. Jun.

Baronius; Valesius (Theod. Hist. iv. 22.); Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 95; and Fontanini supr. adopt the date of 372, from the duration of his Episcopate being 46 years, (on which there is a general agreement,) and its commencement in 326. Sollerius too confesses, that of the two he should prefer 372 to 373, de Patr. Alex. n. 213. and it can hardly be doubted, that this date would have, what may be called, the second votes of the advocates both of 371 and of 373.

Cardinal Noris in his Censur. in Not. Garner. (Opp. t. 3. p. 1178.) in correction of a former statement in his Hist. Pelag. in which he agreed with Baronius; his Editors the Ballerini in their Obss. p.834; Bucherius (in. Victor. Can. Pasch.); Pagi; Quesuel (Leon. Opp. t. 2. p. 1545. ed. Baller.); Du Pin, making S. Athanasius's Episcopate “more than 48 years;” Oudinus (in supplem. Script. Eccles.); Tillemont; Montfaucon; Ceillier (Hist. des Aut. Eccles.); S. Basnage (Annal), Le Quien (Or. Christ. t. 2. p. 400.); Scip. Maffei (Osserv. Lett. {xxi} t. 3.); and Mansi in the Dissertation quoted above, (though he speaks respectfully of Sollerius's objections, in Pag. Ann. 372. 9.) argue in favour of 373. This last opinion, which Montfaucon is considered to have established, in his Vit. Ath. and a “Dissertatio de tempore mortis Alex. Ep. Alex. ac de anno ob. Athan. M.” (which has not fallen in the way of the present writer,) is founded principally upon S. Proterius's Paschal Epistle.

Little seems to be adduced in favour of 371, beyond the circumstance of Socrates mentioning the Consuls of that year, a mode of dating which, according to Baronius, may ordinarily be trusted, (in Ann. 69. n. 36.) that is, in the case of public acts or contemporary events, as Montfaucon observes, Fontan. Diss. p. 444. Petavius, however, says, Socrates nunquam temere, aut falso notas Consulares adhibet, de Phot. Hær. c. 2. p. 379; on this point, however, something has occurred above, p. xix. After alleging the evidence of Socrates, Sollerius, who is the latest of the above advocates of the year 371, does little more than attempt to adjust that date with other existing chronological data, and to refute objections.

The most obvious difficulty in his hypothesis is, that Socrates himself, in the very passage in which he mentions the Consuls of 371, states that S. Athanasius was Bishop for 46 years, which, since he did not succeed Alexander till 326, will bring the date of his death to 372 or 373. A controversy follows, whether his consecration was at the end of 326, or at the beginning. S. Alexander died, according to the Coptite History, as late as April 17 (326); but according to Athanasius himself, infr. p. 88. and Theodoret, within five months after the reception of the Meletians, (which followed upon the termination of the Nicene Council, i.e. upon Aug. 25, 325,) and therefore in the beginning of 326, or the end of 325. Epiphanius too reports, that S. Alexander died the year of the Nicene Council, Hær. 69. 11. (though he adds what invalidates his testimony, or rather turns it the other way;) and his Festival is fixed in the Roman Martyrology on {xxii} Feb. 26. Next comes the question of the interval between Alexander's death and Athanasius's ordination, which Sollerius of course wishes to curtail as much as possible. With this view he refers to the words of the Alexandrian Council, infr. p. 22, which he interprets to imply, that the vacancy in the see was immediately filled, and he maintains, after Papebroke, that the Greek Feast-Day of S. Athanasius, Jan. 18, was really the day of his consecration, i.e. in 326. However, though this be granted for argument's sake, even then the 46 years of S. Athanasius's Episcopate extend to January 372, i.e. beyond May 2, (his day of death,) 371. Nor can we suppose, that Socrates merely uses round numbers, when he speaks of 46 years, for S. Cyril expressly tells us, that Athanasius's Episcopate was “46 whole years;” and Theodoret, Sozomen, the Arabian writers, (Renaudot Hist. Patr. Alex. p. 96.) and others say the same thing. Yet Rufinus, who was in Egypt about the time of Athanasius's death, certainly says only, that he died in his 46th year.

And here at first sight is an argument in favour of 372, rather than 373; Papebroke and Fontanini observe, that S. Athanasius would have been Bishop 47 not 46 years on supposition of the latter date. But this depends on the time of year at which his Episcopate commenced. Sollerius maintains above, that it dates from January 18; but Montfaucon (in his Monitum in correction of his Vit. Athan.) and Tillemont place the death of S. Alexander on the 17th or 18th of April, following the Jacobite Chronicon of Abraham Eckellensis, as above cited, and other Coptite, as well as Abyssinian Calendars. To the five months spoken of above by Athanasius and Theodoret, must in this case be added, as indeed is reasonable, the time consumed in the return of S. Alexander from Nicæa to Alexandria, and the proceedings in reconciliation of the Meletians, which will make up the whole interval between August 25, and the April following. Again, S. Athanasius's consecration does not seem to have followed immediately upon the death of his predecessor, infr. {xxiii} p. 22. which will carry down the beginning of his Episcopate far into the year 326; and if we date it from the middle or the end, and much more if, as the Ballerini propose, we fix it on Jan. 18, 327, then 46 years and some months, or as it is natural that S. Cyril should express it, 46 whole years, will bring us to May 2, (the received day of his death,) 373. The known duration then of S. Athanasius's Episcopate does not decide between 372 and 373, being consistent with the latter date as well as with the former. Other arguments, decisive against 371, but available for both 372 and 373, are deducible from the date of the coming of Valens to Antioch, where, as Socrates tells us, he was staying at the time of S. Athanasius's death; and of Melania's visit to Alexandria, when Athanasius gave her Macarius's sheep-skin,—a proof, says Montfaucon, that Athanasius was not dead then, a proof, says Fontanini, that he was dying.

The direct evidence in favour of 373 has been mentioned above. It consists in the Paschal Epistle of S. Proterius, a contemporary of S. Leo, which is contained in Petavius's Doctr. Temp. t. 2. who, however, p. 889. ed. 1627. as Sollerius and Fontanini after him, thinks the text corrupt and untrustworthy, as it evidently is in part. Sollerius also argues against it as irrelevant in its context, and unmeaning. It is confirmed by S. Jerome's Chronicon, which places Athanasius's death in the 10th year of Valens; and by the Coptite History, which, by dating it on a Thursday, fixes it in 373; and especially by Maffei's fragment, of which so much has been said above. Collateral evidence is gained from the date of the consecration of S. Basil 370, who, when he was Bishop, corresponded with S. Athanasius; which, under the circumstances, could hardly have been the case, had Athanasius died in 372. Sollerius, however, suggests, that the Athanasius addressed by S. Basil was Athanasius of Ancyra, at one time an Arianizer, though afterwards zealous for orthodoxy, ii. 250.

It only remains to exhibit the historical events which have {xxiv} come under review according to the respective chronologies which different critics have adopted.

Dates according to Valesius, Schelstrate, Pagi, Montfaucon, Sam. Basnage

S. Athanasius returns from Gaul 337. 337. V.
338. S.P.M.B.
    leaving Treves end of June, M.
Three Eusebian Legates sent to Rome. 339. V.S.P.M.B.
Council of Alexandria. 340. S.P.M.B.
Council of the Dedication. 341. V.S.P.M.B.
in beginning of Year, V. end of 340, till January
    341, S. before Sept. P. to anticipate Roman,
    Bar. not to anticipate Roman, S.P.
Entrance of Gregory into Alexandria. Lent. 341. V.P.M.B.
Athanasius writes his Encyclical Letter.
    in concealment, M.
[in 356 according to V.S.P.]
341. M.
S. Athanasius escapes to Rome.
March or April, S.P. after Easter, (April 19,) V.
May M. after Council of Dedication, P.
341. V.S.P.M.B.
Legates set out from Rome to the Eusebians.
    before Athanasius arrives there, and in
    beginning of Year, V.
after Athanasius's arrival, in March or April,
    S. P. May, M.
341. V.S.P.B.
Legates arrive at Antioch.
    in April or May or June, S. in June, P.
341. S.P.
Legates set out from Antioch.
    January, S.B.M.
they return in March or April, S.
342. V.S.M.B.
Council of Rome, in which Athanasius is acquitted.  
    October, S.B. or November, M.
342. V.S.P.M.B.
The Pope's Letter to the Eusebians. 342. V.M.B.M.


Baronius and Petavius

Athanasius returns from Gaul. 338. B.P.
The three Eusebian Legates, Macarius, &c. sent
    to Rome.
339. B.P.
Council of Alexandria. 339. B.
The Legates sent from the Pope to the Eusebians. 340. B.
{xxv} Athanasius comes to Rome (first time) beginning of 340. B.P.
Council of the Dedication at Antioch,
    to anticipate Roman Council, B.
341. B.P.
First Council of Rome, in which Athanasius is acquitted. 341. B.P.
Athanasius returns immediately to Alexandria, 
end of year, or beginning of next, B.
341. B.P.
Eusebians send back the Legates.
    after the Council of Rome, B. before it, P.
341. B.P.
Entrance of Gregory into Alexandria, Lent. 342. B.P.
Athanasius retreats from Alexandria into a place
    of concealment.
342. B.P.
He writes his Encyclical Letter. 342. B.
The Pope's Legates return to Rome. 342. B.
Second Council of Rome. 342. B.
The Pope's Letter to the Eusebians. 342. B.
Athanasius comes to Rome (second time). 342. B.P.


Papebroke, Tillemont

S. Athanasius returns from Gaul. 335. P.T.
The three Eusebian Legates sent to Rome. 339. T.
Council of Alexandria. 339. P.T.
S. Athanasius goes to Rome.
    and his 18 months begin, T. September, P.
339. P.T.
The Legates sent from the Pope to the Eusebians, 
immediately after Sept. 339. P.
340. T.
S. Athanasius returns to Alexandria, end of
  340. P.T.
Council of the Dedication.
    beginning of Year, T.
before September, T.
341. P.T.
Entrance of Gregory into Alexandria, Lent. 341. P.T.
S. Athanasius writes his Encyclical Letter. 341. P.T.
He leaves Alexandria and retreats to Rome.
    after Easter, T.
341. P.T.
The Pope's Legates leave Antioch.
    in June not January, P.T.
341. P.T.
Council of Rome,
opened before return of Legates, P.
sitting till August or September, T.
  341. P.T.
The Pope's Letter to the Eusebians.
August or September, T. {xxvi}
341. T.



Entrance of Gregory into Alexandria. Lent, 340.
S. Athanasius leaves Alexandria for a place  
    of concealment.
May, 340.
He goes to Rome. June, 340.
Council of the Dedication. August, 341.
Council of Rome. End of 341.


Baron. Pag.  Mont. Tillem. Mans.
Macrostich is drawn up by Arian Council
    of Antioch.
344. 345. 344. 345. end of
It is rejected by the Westerns in the Council
    of Milan.
344. 346. 345. 345.  344.
    when the Arian Legates leave the Assembly
        in anger.
344. 346. 345. 345. 346.
Council of Sardica. 347. 347. 347. 347. end of
Sardican Legates at Antioch. Easter,
348. 348. 348. 345.
Death of the usurper Gregory, Jan. or Feb.
 349. 349. 349. 346.
Council of Cologne deposes Euphrates. 346. 346. 346. 346.
Council of Milan against Photinus, at which Valens  
and Ursacius appear.
350. 347. 347. 347. 346.
Council of Jerusalem. 350. 349. 349. 349. 346.
S. Athanasius returns to Alexandria. 350.  349. 349. 349. Oct. 21.,
First Sirmian Council against Photinus. 357. 351. 351. 351. 358.
Montanus comes to Alexandria. 351. 353. 353 or
end of
  May 353.
Diogenes the Notary attempts to drive S. Athanasius
from Alexandria.
354. 355. 355. 355. end of
  July 355.
Irruption of Syrianus into the Church, Feb. 9.,
356. 356. 356. 356.
George is driven from Alexandria. 357. 358. Oct 2.,
Second Sirmian Council or Conference, in
    which was
passed the “blasphemia,” vol. 8. p 161.   
Beg. of
End of
357. 357. 359.
Council of Ancyra just before Easter. 357. 358. 358. 359.
Third Sirmian Council or Conference.  357. 358. May 22, 
359. 359.
Council of Ariminum, July 21. 359. 359. 359. 359. 359.
Death of S. Athanasius, May 2. 372. 373. 373. 373. 373.


Before concluding, it is necessary to observe, that in the references in the notes or margin, S. Athanasius's Works are designated by their Latin titles for the sake of clearness; and “Hist. Arian.” is the same work as “ad Mon.” There is some unavoidable irregularity in the mode of reference to former Volumes of this series, e.g. “Libr. F.” with the Volume specified, is equivalent to “Oxf. Tr." or “O.T.” or to the name of the Treatise with “Tr.” added. Also the reference is sometimes made according to pages, sometimes according to sections &c. Consistency has not been thought of much consequence in a matter of this kind, where clearness and conciseness of reference were rather to be consulted in each particular case.

Also it may be right to refer the reader to a Letter addressed to Montfaucon on the words [thallon] or “boughs,” infr. p. 270. in the Collectio Nova (t. ii. in Cosm. p. 18); and to a note of Quesnel's on S. Leo, (t. 3. p. xlvii. ed. Baller.) who observes, that Siscia, infr. p. 60. is not a province, but the city of that name in Pannonia.

And. it should be added to page 13, that Tillemont dates the Apologia contra Arian. not earlier than A.D. 356. arguing from the mention of the banishment of Liberius and Hosius. Also in note g, p. 49, justice is not done to Baronius's view of Athanasius's double journey to Rome, as the foregoing pages will shew. And in p. 76, note m, Thomassin is quoted not to corroborate Febronius's interpretation, but principle.

Also in p. 46, Valesius Obss. Eccles. i. 2. p. 174. understands Eusebius himself by [hoi peri Eusebion] §. 26. Montfaucon observes, that Eusebius alone is spoken of in §. 1. He adds, “res hic in dubio versatur.” Baronius adduces the phrase as used in the Encyclical Letter in proof that it was written while Eusehius was still alive, but Valesius denies the argument on grammatical grounds, Obss. Eccl. i. 7 fin. Montfaucon, however, observes, in his Monitum prefixed to that Letter, that in matter of fact the phrase is never {xxviii} used by S. Athanasius of Eusebius's party after E.'s death, but always [koinonoi ton peri E.] or [kleronomoi tes asebeias tou E.]

Also with reference to the subject of note n, p. 77. it should be observed, that the majority of critics side with Du Cange against Gothofred on the meaning of the word Canalis. “Those Bishops,” says Baronius, were “in Canalio, qui sedes haberent in cursu publico, viâ scilicet quâ equi publici per stationes singulas dispositi essent ad iter agendum.” An. 347. 55. “Qui præerant sacris urbium, quæ regiæ viæ insidebant,” says Noris, professing his agreement with Baronius, Opp. t. 4. p. 623. Pitiscus also, “qui sedes habent in cursu publico,” in voc. So also Kiesling, adding, “intelliguntur hoc nomine urbes, seu potius civitates, in quibus Episcopi sedem habuerunt fixam.” de Discipl. Cleric. p. 13. Beveridge reports Zonaras and Balsamon as furnishing the same interpretation; “cities which are in the public ways, or canal, through which travellers pass without trouble, as water flows in an aqueduct.” Pandect. t. 1. p. 507.

For the Translation, the Editors have to express their acknowledgments to the Rev. MILES ATKINSON, M.A. late Fellow of Lincoln College.

J. H. N.
Dec. 4, 1843.

Top | Contents | Works | Home


1. Pagi after Schelstrate contends, that the Confession of faith and the Canons preceded the cause of Athanasius in the Council. Montfaucon and Tillemont, (with the exception of the Canon, which was expressly levelled at Athanasius, and which Montf. does not notice as a Canon,) place it first of all. If there were at first orthodox Bishops at the Council, as is said, we cannot suppose, that Athanasius was condemned till after their departure. Schelstrate, who places matters of faith and discipline first, in his task of vindicating the Catholicity of the Council, is obliged to suppose its commencement in 340, in order to gain time for Gregory's expedition by Lent 341.
Return to text

2. Tillemont will be found to make a similar suggestion, vol. 7. pp. 706, 7. He supplies parallel instances.
Return to text

3. Schelstrate of course, whom Pagi follows, will not allow any intentional anticipation on the part of the Council, which he maintains to be in its beginnings Catholic, and to have assembled at the end of 340 to dedicate the Aureum Dominicum.
Return to text

4. The words [monon akousas] in Athanasius, infr. p. 227. §. 11 init. are felt as a difficulty both by Tillemont and Montfaucon; by Montfaucon, as if shewing that his flight was before Gregory's coming; by Tillemont, as shewing that it was after Gregory's ordination.
Return to text

5. Vid. also Vallars. in Hieron. Chron. p. 793.
Return to text

Top | Contents | Works | Home

Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
Copyright © 2007 by The National Institute for Newman Studies. All rights reserved.