Constantine's "Dear Arius" Letter (333 CE)
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A Political Analysis of a Nasty Letter
SOURCE: TEXT of Surviving Letter LETTER: Emperor Constantine to Arius Type: Early Arian Document (Urkunde) 34 (=AW III2 no. 27; CPG 2042) Date: 333 CE Source: Athanasius, Defense of the Nicene Definition 40 (TLG) Also found in Socrates, Church History 1.9.30 and Gelasius, Church History 3.19.1 Trans: Coleman-Norton, P.R., Roman State and Christian Church, London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) 1966, #67.
(5) Constantine's purposeful derogatory descriptions of Arius' character and nature.
He brought state orthodoxy into the light; He hurled his wretched self into darkness. He ended his labors with this He wrote that he did not wish God to appear to be the subject of suffering of outrage He wrote that (on the above account) he suggested and fabricated wondrous things indeed in respect to faith. He wrote books that collected and gathered terrible and lawless impieties He wrote books that agitated tongues [Editor: Very popular books] He wrote books which deceived and destroyed He introduced a belief of unbelief. He introduced a belief of unbelief that is completely new. He accepted Jesus as a figment He called Jesus foreign He did not adapt, he did not adapt (it was said twice) to God [Editor: the "new" orthodox God] He was twice wretched He reproached the church He grieved the church He wounded he church He pained the church He demoted Jesus He dared to circumscribe Jesus He undermined the (orthodox) truth He undermined the (othodox) truth by various discourses He detracted from Jesus who is indetractable He questioned the presence of Jesus He questioned the activity of Jesus He questioned the all-pervading law of Jesus He thought that there was a place outside of Jesus He thought that there something else outside of Jesus He denied the infiniteness of Jesus He did not conclude that God is present in Christ He had no faith in Christ He did not follow the law that God's law is Christ He had little piety toward Christ He detracted from the uncorrupted intelligence of Jesus He detracted from the belief in immortality of Jesus He detracted from the uncorrupted intelligence of the Church He was barred publicly from Godís church
He talked of one God. He said "Either let us hold that, of which already we have been made possessors, or let it be done, just as we ourselves desire." He said "We have the masses." He was a warrior of insanity. He was an Ares He fashioned the finest things for the masses He asked to celebrate services to God in Alexandria He asked to celebrate the lawful and indispensable services to God in Alexandria He hastened to destroy his friends He claimed the masses acted with him. He never admited where in the world he was He claimed all the Libyan populace was supporting him He was a source of aid for people He had august consuls He hastened to disturb the whole world by his impieties. He claimed there were a multitude of persons wandering about him He had supporters that were asserted to have given themselves to be eaten by wolves and by lions. He had supporters that were each oppressed by additional payment of ten capitation taxes and by the expenses of these He had supporters that sweated unless they ran as speedily as possible to the salvation-bringing Church, He had supporters that were condemned for wicked complicity He had associates that were threatened by local and state authorities He had associates that were threatened to speedily flee his association He had associates that were to accept in exchange the uncorrupted faith [of the church]
He wrote with a pen distilling poison He went further and opened the whole treasury of madness He added things further to orthodox doctrines He added certain things somehow swaggeringly He added certain things quite accurately elaborated He constructed a disease of savage thought He constructed a discord against the church He joined things to an impous separation of orthodox doctrines He substituted a foreign hypostasis He paved the way for the marks of addition He sang evil songs of unbelief He was not ashamed to disparage (state orthodox) doctrine He refuted (state orthodox) doctrine He admonished (state orthodox) doctrine He was the author of rotten words and meters He performed investigations that were called abominable He wrote sophisms that were clear He wrote sophisms that were known to all persons, at all events for the future. He struggled to accomplish something. He was an artificer.
He donned externally a mask of simplicity He counterfeited fairness of discourse He counterfeited gentleness of discourse He was perhaps healthy in respect to spiritual matters He was an "iron-hearted man" He appeared to take thought from his own self He seemed superior in faith He seemed superior in discourse He was known for his wits - they were not dull He did not perish even when surrounded by great horror He pretended piety. He had marvellous faith He did invoke some God for aid He was a fool in respect to his soul He was a wordy one in respect to his tongue, He was an infidel in respect to his wits. He was a witty and sweet-voiced fellow He had a mask of modesty He has terrible shamelessness He used the artifice of pretence; He pretended silence He showed himself to be tame and submissive He had the audacity worthy to be destroyed by thunderbolts! He considered holy only what was in him.
He was (be well assured) lost He engaged in folly. He did not listen to Constantine. He did not lend his ears to Constantine. He did not understand his folly He wrote letters to Constantine with a pen of madness He was a gallows rogue He was not to be associated with He was not to be addressed He was notorious - "It was mistake to be around him" He told Constantine to go away He caused Constantine to speak against him He needed to be captured in order to keep an imperial appointment at the public gallows He was very hasty He was the contraversial subject of imperial discourses against him He was asked to grant a field for discussion He made Constantine exited writing compositions against him He was abrogated He needes to be refuted and thoroughly He brought punishment upon himself He did not understand that Constantine, the man of God, already knew all things He and his flame were quenched with the rain of divine power He received an invitation from Constantine saying: "Come to me, come, I say, to a man of God" He is described c.333 CE in Constantine's "Dear Arius Letter He was a fellow full of absurd insensibility He talked disgracefully He was described as mad and clearly raving He was a patricide of equity He was truly an adviser of evil He was a villain He was a mediator of wild beasts. (See Plato) He answered to "foolish one" He was involved in evil. He was within full of countless evils and plots. He was made by the desire of the Devil He was made as a manufactory of iniquity for us. He possessed a perverted mouth He possessed a nature quickly roused to wickedness! He undoubtedly believed badly He engaged in silly transgression of the law He was quite fittingly subverted by the Devil He was a wicked person He had fallen in matters. He had fallen dead in matters He needed to be cured. He was trusty for evil He proffered profusely the poisons of his own effrontery He was a wicked interpreter He was an image and a statue of the Devil He had a nature absolutely most base He offered error He had lost the grace of taking advice. He vomited pernicious words He produced pernicious words his writings He did not coexist with the Eternal Father of his origin He was a truly dissembling person. He was a truly profane and base. He was a worthless person He progressed to the height of lawlessness He was a shamless and useless fellow He progressed to the height of wickedness He had a bitter tongue He was a profane person He was a sick and helpless soul He was not really blameless He was clearly mad He was a knave He was a destructive evil.