Chapter V.—Athanasius the Great is Very Highly Esteemed by the Emperor, and rules over the Churches of Egypt. Vision of Antony the Great.
At this period, 1436 Athanasius, who governed the see of Alexandria, and some of his friends, deemed it requisite, as the emperor was a Christian, to repair to his court. 1437 Accordingly Athanasius went to Antioch, and laid such matters before the emperor as he deemed expedient. Others, however, say that the emperor sent for him in order to consult him concerning the affairs relative to religion and the right tenet. When the business of the Church had as far as possible been transacted, Athanasius began to think of returning.
Euzoïus, bishop of the Arian heresy in Antioch, endeavored to install Probatius, a eunuch who held the same sentiments as himself, in Alexandria. The whole party of Euzoïus conspired with him to effect this design; and Lucius, a citizen of Alexandria, who had been ordained presbyter by George, endeavored to prejudice the emperor against Athanasius, by representing 1438 that he had been accused of divers crimes and had been condemned to perpetual banishment by preceding emperors, as the author of the dissensions and troubles of the Church concerning the Divine Being. Lucius likewise besought Jovian to appoint another bishop over the church of Alexandria. The emperor, since he knew the plots which had happened against Athanasius, attached no credit to the calumny, and with threatening, commanded Lucius to retire quietly; he also ordered Probatius and the other eunuchs belonging to his palace, whom he regarded as the originators of these troubles, to act more advisedly. From that period Jovian manifested the greatest friendship towards Athanasius, and sent him back to Egypt, with directions to govern the churches and people of that country as he might think fit. It is also said that he passed commendations on the virtue of the bishop, on his life, his intellectual endowments, and his eloquence.
Thus, after having been exposed to opposition for a long while, as has been narrated in the former books, was the Nicene faith fully reestablished under the present government; but further embarrassment awaited it within a very short period. For, as it appeared afterwards, the whole of the prediction of Antony the Monk was not fulfilled by the occurrences which befell the Church during the reign of Constantius; part thereof was not accomplished until the reign of Valens. It is said that before the Arians got control of the churches during the reign of Constantius, Antony had a dream in which he saw mules kicking the altar with their hoofs and overturning the holy table. On awakening, he immediately predicted that the Church would be troubled by the introduction of spurious and mixed doctrines, and by the rebellion of the heterodox. The truth of this prediction was evidenced by the events which occurred before and after the period now under review.
A largely independent chapter. Cf. Soc. iii. 24; Philost. viii. 6.349:1437
This may have a connection with Theodoret, iv. 2, 3; Athanas. Ep. ad Jovianum imp., where several petitions and interlocutions of the Arians with Jovian against Athanasius are given.349:1438
The accusations made by the Arians, Lucius and Bernicianus. See preceding reference to Ep. ad Jovianum, 4.