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Optatus of Milevis, Against the Donatists (1917) Appendices 3-16. pp. 382-431.



In this letter Constantine sends orders to his Vicar in Africa that Caecilian and certain other Bishops (both Catholic and Donatist) should be directed to proceed, with some of their clergy, to Aries, where a Council was to be held (as he explains) once more publicly to vindicate the character of Caecilian. The date is 314.

This letter may be compared with another letter sent by Constantine to Chrestus, Bishop of Syracuse, and preserved for us by Eusebius (x, 5). In both these letters August 1 is fixed as the date for the opening of the Council at Arles; in both we find a reference to the Council which had been already held at Rome under Miltiades. Indeed the similarity between them is so striking that it has been suggested that the letter to Aelafius is a forgery and has been copied from that to Chrestus. But Mgr. Duchesne has shown (op. cit. p. 32) that this is quite impossible, since the letter to Chrestus was unknown in Africa, at the time when the letter to Aelafius was placed in the collection used by Optatus. The only edition of Eusebius known to St. Augustine, for example, was the version of Rufinus, where Book Ten (containing the letter to Chrestus) is wanting.

It has also been urged as an argument against the authenticity of the Letter to Aelafius that the Bishops are herein ordered to adopt a most improbable itinerary. They were directed to follow the coast of Mauritania, |383 thence to pass into Spain, and then to travel to Arles by land; whereas it has been pointed out that it would have been far simpler and cheaper to embark at Carthage, or Hippo, and go straight to Marseilles by sea. But here again Mgr. Duchesne has observed, with irrefutable force, that if the Letter to Aelafius be not genuine, it must have been composed by an African of the fourth century. During the course of that century there is no reason to suppose that there was any change of routes. And (to quote the words of Duchesne):

'The Africans who were the contemporaries of St. Optatus knew how people went from their own country into Gaul. No one of them, had he forged such a letter as this, would ever have dreamed of placing within it an impossible itinerary.'

On the other hand we can nowadays know but little of the circumstances which may well have caused the itinerary described in this letter to have been chosen for the journey of the Bishops to Gaul. So we may safely conclude, with Duchesne, that as to the authenticity of the letter there is no room for genuine doubt. |384


Already some time back, since it was brought to my knowledge that many persons in our dominion of Africa had begun to separate from one another with mad fury, and had brought purposeless accusations against each other about the keeping of the most holy Catholic Law, I thought it well, in order to settle this quarrel, that Caecilian the Bishop of Carthage, against whom especially they all often petitioned me, should go to the City of Rome, and that some of those who had deemed fit to bring certain charges against him, should appear as well. I also ordered some Bishops from the Gauls to proceed to our above-mentioned City of Rome, that, by the integrity of their lives and praiseworthy manner of living, together with seven Bishops of the same Communion, and the Bishop 2 of the City of Rome, and their assessors, they might give due attention to the questions which had been raised. Now they brought to my knowledge, by the written Acts of their meeting, all that had been done in |385 their presence, affirming also by word of mouth that their judgement was based upon equity, and declaring that not Caecilian, but those who brought charges against him, were guilty----so that, after giving their judgement, they forbade the latter to go back to Africa.3 Wherefore, in consequence of all this I once hoped that, in accordance with the probable issue of events, a fitting end had been made to all the seditions and contentions of every kind which had been suddenly called into being by the other party. But after I had read your letters, which you had deemed it your duty to send to Nicasius and the rest, about the crafty pretext of these men, I recognised clearly that they would not place before their eyes either considerations of their own salvation, or (what is of more importance) the reverence which is due to Almighty God----for they are persisting in a line of action which not merely leads to their shame and disgrace, but also gives an opportunity of detraction to those who are known to turn their minds away from the keeping of the most holy Catholic Law. I write thus because----and this is a thing which it is well that you should know----some have come from these men, asserting that the above-mentioned Caecilian is deemed not to be worthy of the worship of our most holy religion,4 and in answer to my reply that they were making an empty boast (since the affair had been terminated in the City of Rome by competent men of the highest character, who were Bishops), they thought fit to answer with persistent obstinacy that the whole case had not been heard, but that these Bishops had shut themselves up somewhere and given the judgement as was most convenient to themselves.5 Wherefore, since I perceived that these numerous and important affairs were being pertinaciously delayed by discussions, so that it appeared |386 that no end could be made of them without both Caecilian and three of those who are making a schism against him coming to the town of Arles, for the judgement of those who are opposed to Caecilian, and are bound to accept him as Bishop,6 I have deemed it well to impose upon your care to provide, as soon as you receive this letter of mine, that the above-mentioned Caecilian with some of those whom he himself shall choose----and also some from the provinces of Byzacium, Tripolis, the Numidias and the Mauritanias, and each of the provinces, (and these must bring a certain number of their clergy 7 whom they shall choose)----and also some of those who have made a schism against Caecilian (public conveyance being provided 8 through Africa and Mauritania) shall travel thence by a short course to Spain. In the same way 9 you shall provide in Spain each Bishop with a single right of conveyance 10 so that they may all arrive at the above-mentioned place 11 |387 by August 1; furthermore you will be pleased to convey to them without delay that it is their duty to provide, before they depart, for suitable discipline in their absence, in order that no sedition or contention of disputing parties may arise----a thing which would be the greatest disgrace.12 As to the rest,13 after the matter has been fully inquired into, let it be brought to an end. For when they shall all have come together, those things which are now known to be subjects of contention should with reason receive a timely conclusion,14 and be forthwith finished and arranged. I confess to your Lordship, since I am well aware that you also are a worshipper of the most High God, that I consider it by no means right that contentions and altercations of this kind should be hidden from me, by which, perchance, God may be moved not only against the human race, but also against me myself, to whose care, by His heavenly Decree, He has entrusted the direction of all human affairs, and may in His wrath provide 15 otherwise than heretofore. For then shall I be able to remain truly and most fully without anxiety, and may always hope for all most prosperous and excellent things from the ever-ready kindness of the most powerful God, when I shall know that all, bound together in brotherly concord, adore the most holy God with the worship of the Catholic religion, that is His due. |388 



The authenticity of this letter has never been contested. It is to be found, though under a slightly different form, in the collection of Canons of Merovingian Gaul, where it has been derived, not from African sources, but from the Archives of the Church of Arles.

In all probability a letter was also sent from the Council, announcing its decisions, to the Church of Carthage. But if so, this letter has been lost.

In the same way the Council of Sardica, at the conclusion of its labours, sent two letters (both extant), one to the Pope, the second to the Church of Alexandria. We also possess a letter from the Council of Nicaea to Alexandria; the letter from Nicaea to the Pope has shared the same fate as the letter from Arles to Carthage. That there was such a letter can hardly be doubted. As Duchesne writes (p. 15):

'Il n'est guère douteux que les légats de Silvestre au Concile de Nicée n'aient rapporté une lettre de cette assemblée, accompagnant, comme pour le Concile d'Arles, l'envoi des Canons disciplinaires.' |389 

Letter of the Council of Arles to Pope Silvester.

To the most beloved Pope Silvester: Marinus, Acratius, Natalis, Theodore, Proterius, Vocius, Verus, Probatius, Caecilian, Faustinus, Surgentius, Gregory, Reticius, Ambitausus, Termatius, Merocles, Pardus, Adelfius, Hibernius, Fortunatus, Aristasius, Lampadius, Vitalis, Maternus, Liberius, Gregory, Crescens, Avitianus, Dafnus, Orantalis, Quintasius, Victor, Epictetus, eternal health in the Lord!

Being united by the common tie of charity, and by that unity which is the bond of our mother, the Catholic Church, we have been brought to the City of Arles by the wish of the most pious Emperor, and we salute thee with the reverence which is thy due,16 most glorious Pope. Here we have suffered from, troublesome men, dangerous to our law and tradition----men of undisciplined mind,17 whom both the authority of our God, which is with us,18 and our tradition and the rule of truth reject, because 19 they neither have reasonableness in their argument, nor any moderation in their accusations, nor was their manner of proof to the point.20 Therefore by the Judgement of God and of Mother Church, who knows and approves her own, they have been either condemned or rejected.21 |390 And would, most beloved Brother, that you had deemed it well to be present at this great spectacle. We believe surely that in that case a more severe sentence would have been passed against them; and our assembly would have exulted with a greater joy, had you passed Judgement together with us. But since you were by no means able to leave that region, where the Apostles daily sit, and their blood without ceasing bears witness to the glory of God, it did not seem to us that by reason of your absence,22 most well-beloved Brother, we ought to deal exclusively with those matters, on account of which we had been summoned, but we judged that we also should take counsel on our own affairs; because, as the countries from which we come are different, so events of various kinds will happen which we think that we ought to watch and regulate.23 Accordingly we thought well in the presence of the Holy Spirit and His Angels that from among the various matters which occurred to each of us,24 we should make some decrees to provide for the present state of tranquillity. We also agreed to write first to you,25 who hold [the government of] the greater dioceses,26 that by |391 you especially they should be brought to the knowledge of all.27 What it is that we have determined on, we have appended to this writing of our insignificance. But in the first place, we were bound to discuss a matter that concerned the usefulness of our life. Now since 28 one died and rose again for many, the same season should be observed with a religious mind by all at the same time, lest divisions or dissensions might arise in so great a service of devotion. We judge, therefore, that the Pasch of the Lord should be observed throughout the world upon the same day.

Also, concerning those who have been ordained clerics in any places whatsoever, we have decreed that they remain fixed in the same places. Concerning those too 29 who throw down their arms in time of peace,30 we have decreed that they should be kept from communion. Concerning the wandering agitators who belong to the Faithful, we have decreed that, as long as they continue their agitation, they be debarred from communion.

Concerning the strolling players we have decreed that, as long as they act, they be debarred from communion. Concerning those [heretics] 31 who are weighed down by illness and wish to believe,32 we have decreed that hands be laid upon them. Concerning magistrates who belong to the Faithful and are appointed to office, we have determined that, when they are promoted, they should receive ecclesiastical letters of communion, but in such a way that in whatever place they may be living, the Bishop of that place shall have a heed to them, and if they begin to act against discipline, they be then excluded from communion. We have decreed similarly with regard to those who wish |392 to hold state offices. Moreover, with regard to the Africans,33 inasmuch as they use their own law of rebaptising, we have decreed that if any heretic comes to the Church, he should be questioned concerning the Creed, and if it be found that he has been baptised in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, hands shall be laid upon him and no more.34 But if, on being questioned as to the Creed, he does not give the Trinity in answer, then let him rightly be baptised, and the rest, etc.35

Then giving over,36 he commanded all to return to their homes. Amen. |393 



Two objections, both of them sufficiently flimsy, have been brought against the authenticity of this letter, from which St. Optatus quotes twice (i, 23, 25, cf. pp. 44, 49), though, as we have seen, he was mistaken as to its date.

It has been urged that the indignation of Constantine at an appeal having been made to him from the decision of the Bishops is overdone, and it has been represented that the piety of its expressions is strange as emanating from an Emperor in an official document. To the first objection we may reply that Constantine might well be shocked. As Emperor, he could have no right to settle the purely ecclesiastical question who was the legitimate Bishop of Carthage, though in this capacity he considered it his duty to provide for the ecclesiastical trial of such matters as they arose, and deemed himself bound to enforce Catholic law and discipline (when it had been duly determined) throughout his dominions; as a Christian, he was still in the lowest rank, a catechumen. Small wonder then if he was scandalised, and expressed his scornful anger, at the behaviour of the Donatists in his regard. As for the piety of the tone of this letter, Duchesne observes that Constantine's letter to Chrestus of Syracuse, concerning the authenticity of which no one doubts, is equally full of pious expressions. Besides, Constantine seems to |394 have been fond of preaching to his subjects on occasion. 'Il a toujours beaucoup sermonné ses sujets. Sa vie écrite par Eusèbe et les autres documents que l'on a de son activité oratoire en ce genre, même certaines lois du code théodosien, nous édifient suffisamment là-dessus.' (Op. cit. p. 39.)

Moreover, this letter may perhaps have been touched up by an ecclesiastical secretary, of whom Constantine had several in his household. One of them, Hosius, the celebrated Bishop of Cordova, was certainly closely involved in these African controversies (cf. Eusebius, E.H. x, 6). However this may be, there is no doubt that Constantine felt the bad conduct of the Donatists very deeply. Whatever we may think as to the form of this letter, its substance is certainly his. Expressions may have been placed upon his lips, or made to flow from his pen. But this happens not seldom to personages of high estate Whatever was written in an official document, such as the one before us, he adopted and made his own. |395 

Letter of Constantine to the Catholic Bishops.

Constantine Augustus, to his dearest brothers, the Catholic Bishops, Health! The everlasting and worshipful, the incomprehensible kindness of our God by no means allows the weakness of men to wander for too long a time in the darkness. Nor does it suffer the perverse wills of some to come to such a pass as not to give them anew by its most splendid light a saving passage, opening the way so that they may be converted to the rule of justice. I have indeed experienced this by many examples. I can also describe it from myself. For in me of old there were things that were far from right, nor did I think that the power of God saw anything of what I carried amongst the secrets of my heart. Surely this ought to have brought me a just retribution, flowing over with all evils. But Almighty God, who sitteth in the watchtower of Heaven,37 hath bestowed upon me gifts which I deserved not. Of a truth, those things which of His Heavenly kindness He has granted to me, His servant, can neither be told nor counted. On this account, O most holy Bishops of Christ the Saviour, my dearest brothers, I indeed rejoice; yes, in a special way do I rejoice, that at length, after you have held a most impartial inquiry, you have recalled to a better hope and fortune those whom the wickedness of the devil seemed by his wretched persuasion to have turned away from the most noble light of the Catholic Law. Oh, truly triumphant Providence of Christ the Saviour, to come to the rescue of those who, already falling away from the truth, and in a certain manner taking up arms against it, had joined themselves to the Gentiles! For, if even now they will consent with |396 pure 38 faith to make their obedience to the most holy Law, they will be able to understand how great a provision has been made for them by the Will of God. And this, my most holy brothers, I hoped might be found even in those in whom the greatest hardness of heart has been engendered. But your right judgement has not been of any avail to them, nor has the merciful God made an entrance into their dispositions. In truth, not undeservedly has the mercy of Christ departed far from those men, in whom it is as clear as the sun of noon-day,39 that they are of such a character, as to be seen to be shut off even from the care of Heaven, since so great a madness still holds them captive, and with unbelievable arrogance they persuade themselves of things which cannot lawfully be either spoken or heard----departing from the right judgement that was given, from which, as through the provision of Heaven I have learnt 40 they are appealing to my judgement----Oh, what force has the wickedness which even yet is persevering in their breasts!

How often have they been crushed already by myself in a reply, which, by their most shameless approaches to me, they have deservedly brought upon themselves. Surely, if they had kept this before their eyes, they would never have ventured on this appeal of theirs. They ask judgement from me, who am myself waiting for the judgement of Christ.41 For I declare----as is true----that the judgement of Bishops ought to be looked upon as if the Lord Himself were sitting in Judgement.42 For it is not lawful for them 43 to think or to judge in any other way, |397 excepting as they have been taught by the teaching of Christ.44 Why then, as I have said with truth, do wicked men seek the devil's services? They search after worldly things, deserting those which are heavenly.45 Oh, mad daring of their rage! They have made an appeal, as is done in the lawsuits of the pagans.46 For pagans are accustomed sometimes to escape from the lower courts where justice may be obtained speedily, and through the authority of higher tribunals to have recourse to an appeal. What of those shirkers of the law 47 who refuse the judgement of Heaven, and have thought fit to ask for mine? 48 Do they thus think of Christ the Saviour? Behold, they are now 'Betrayers.' Behold, without any need for disputatious examination, of their own accord they have themselves betrayed their wicked deeds. How can they, who have leapt savagely upon God Himself, feel as men should feel?

But, my dearest Brothers, although this wickedness has been discovered in them, nevertheless do you, who follow the way 49 of the Lord the Saviour, show patience, and still give them a choice to choose what they may think well. And if you see that they persevere in the same courses, do you go your way, and return to your own Sees, and remember me, that our Saviour may always have mercy on me. But I have directed my men to bring these wicked deceivers of religion to my court that they may live there, and there survey for themselves what is worse than death.50 I have also sent a suitable letter |398 to the prefect who is my viceroy in Africa, enjoining him, that, as often as he finds any instances of this madness, he is to send the guilty, forthwith, to my court, lest any longer, beneath so great a shining of our God, such things be done by them, as may provoke the greatest anger of the Heavenly Providence.

May Almighty God keep you safe, my dearest Brothers, through the ages, in answer to my prayers and yours. |399 



St. Augustine informs us (Ep. xliii, 20) that, in accordance with what we read in this letter, Constantine, after the Council of Arles, commanded representatives of both Catholics and Donatists to appear before him at Rome. The Donatists complied, but on the appointed day Caecilian failed to arrive. Constantine thereupon put off his judgement until a later date and directed that the Donatists should be conducted under a safeguard to Milan. Some of them, however, contrived to escape before Caecilian arrived at Milan----to be vindicated a third time from the charges which had been so persistently brought against his good name. |400 


A few days ago I determined that, in accordance with your demand, you should go back to Africa, so that there the whole case, which you think lies against Caecilian, should be tried by friends of mine whom I had chosen, and reach a fitting conclusion. However, whilst I was thinking it over for a long time, and duly turning the matter over in my mind, I deemed it best, rather than this----since I know that some of your party are full of turbulence and obstinately refuse to regard the right judgement and the statement of the complete truth, and that for this reason it would perhaps happen, that if the case were tried in Africa it would be determined, not as is fitting, and as the demands of truth require, but that through your exceedingly great obstinacy something might easily result which would both be displeasing to God in Heaven, and also would be exceedingly detrimental to my good reputation, which I desire always to preserve undiminished----that Caecilian should preferably come here, as was first settled. Thus, as I have said, I have determined, and I believe that, in compliance with my letter, he will soon arrive. But I promise you, that if, in his presence, you prove by your evidence anything against him concerning even one accusation or evil deed, I will regard this the same as though all your charges were seen to be proved.

May Almighty God grant us perpetual safety! |401 



Du Pin dates this letter 316; but (though Ziwsa follows him in printing it after the succeeding letter Perseverare Menalium) this must be a mistake. The letter itself concludes thus:

'Hilarus Princeps optulit IV Kal. Maias, Triberos' 51

It is addressed to Celsus who had by April 316 given place to Eumelius as Vicar of Africa. It was therefore written in 315. It carries into execution Constantine's permission, of which we have just read in the preceding letter, to the Donatist Bishops to return to Africa after the Council of Arles. Of itself it has no intrinsic importance, but is of some interest in consequence of its close connection with the document given by Optatus (i, 23), containing the names of the obscure signatories of the famous appeal to Constantine. Optatus records the names of Lucianus, Dignus, Nasutius, Capito and Fidentius. These all reappear in the document before us, excepting Dignus, who perhaps had died at Arles. |402 


Since Lucian, Capito, Fidentius, Nasutius the Bishops, and Mammarius the priest, who in accordance with the divine precept of the Lord Constantine Maximus, the unconquered, always august, had gone to Gaul with other men of their Law,52 were commanded by his Majesty to proceed to their own homes, we have, my brother, in compliance with the command of the Eternity of our most clement Lord, ordered for them a service of post-horses, with suitable provisions,53 so far as the port of Arles, from which they may set sail for Africa, a fact which it is desirable that your Carefulness54 should learn from this our letter.

We pray, my Brother, that the best of good fortune may always attend you.

Given at Trêves on April 28, by Hilary, the Magistrate. |403 



This letter was written by Constantino during the interval that elapsed between the appearance of the Donatists at Rome and the judgement at Milan. It betrays considerable irritation even against Caecilian, due no doubt to the fact that he had failed to obey the Emperor's summons (given in a letter no longer extant) to Rome. Constantine in this letter expresses a new determination----which he failed to carry out----to go himself to Africa and investigate the conditions on the spot. Since Constantine mentions in this letter the 'flight' of some of the Donatists as having already taken place, it was not written before September 315, when the Emperor left Rome; on the other hand it must have been written before Celsus was succeeded as Vicar of Africa by Eumelius early in 316. We are thus enabled to fix its date, as having been written in the autumn of 315 or the winter of 315-316. |404 


The latest despatches from your Lordship have informed me how Menalius,55 a man whom madness long ago took hold of, and the others who have departed from the truth of God, and given themselves over to a most shameful error, persevere in their course. You tell me in your letter, my well-beloved Brother, that you have obeyed my order with regard to the seditious in accordance with their deserts, and have placed a check upon the tumult which they were preparing. And now that they were contemplating wicked deeds has become manifest from the fact that, when I had determined to inquire most fully between them and Caecilian, concerning the various charges which they brought against him, they did their best to withdraw from my presence by taking to flight.56 By this most disgraceful deed they acknowledged that they were hastening to return to the things which they both had done previously and are now persisting in doing. But (since it is certain that no one ever gains an unmixed advantage from his own misdeeds, even though punishment may be delayed for a little while), I have thought well to command your Lordship that in the meantime you should leave them alone,57 and understand that we must temporise with them.58

But after you have read this letter, you should make it plain both to Caecilian and to them, that when by the Divine Goodness I come to Africa, I shall render it most |405 clear to all, both to Caecilian, and to those who are acting against him, by reading a perfectly plain judgement, as to what and what kind 59 of worship is to be given to the Supreme God, and with what manner of service He is pleased. Also, by diligent examination, I shall acquaint myself to the full with the things which at the present time some persons fancy they can keep dark through the allurements 60 of their ignorant minds, and shall drag them into the light. Those same persons who now stir up the people in such a war as to bring it about that the supreme God is not worshipped with the veneration that is His due, I shall destroy and dash in pieces.61 And since it is sufficiently clear that no one may hope to obtain the honours of a martyr with that kind [of Martyrdom] 62 which is seen to be foreign to the truth of religion, and is altogether unbecoming, I shall without any delay cause those men whom I shall ascertain to have acted against that which is right and against religion itself, and whom I shall discover to have been guilty of violence 63 in their worship, to undergo the destruction which they have deserved by their madness and reckless obstinacy.

Wherefore, let them also know for certain what they ought to do to secure full credence after they have invoked their own salvation,64 since I am going most diligently to search into the things which concern not merely the |406 people, but also those clerics who are in the first places, and shall pass judgement in accordance with that which is most clearly in the interests of truth and religion. I shall also make these persons see what worship and what kind of worship is to be given to the Divinity, for by no means do I believe that I can in any way escape the greatest guilt otherwise than by refusing to close my eyes to that which is wicked. What can be done by me more in accordance with my constant practice,65 and the very office of a Prince, than, after having driven away errors and destroyed all rash opinions, to bring it about that all men should show forth true religion and simplicity in concord, and to render to Almighty God the worship which is His due? |407 



This letter speaks for itself. It seems to be contemporaneous with the Rescript of Verinus (May 5, 321). Its object is to inform the Catholics of Africa that the Government had changed its plan of dealing with the recalcitrant Donatists. Rigorous measures were to be abandoned, and toleration granted, in the hope of attaining good results in the end. With regard to this new determination Duchesne writes as follows (op. cit. p. 28):

'This toleration, in face of the fanaticism, of the audacity and the violence of the schismatics, was in reality an abandonment. Without doubt the Emperor exhorts the Catholic Bishops to endure with patience the wrongs inflicted upon them by the Donatists; he also makes reparation, up to a certain point, for the material damage caused by these sectaries, but this does not make it less true that he tolerates them. In thus granting them toleration, he goes back upon his much more decided attitude anterior to the Rescript of 321 and allows the judgement to fall into abeyance, which he had himself given against Donatus and in favour of Caecilian.' |408 

Letter of Constantine on Toleration to be granted to the Donatists.

Constantine Augustus to all the Bishops in Africa and to the people of the Catholic Church. You know right well that, as Faith required, so far as Prudence permitted, as much as a single-minded intention 66 could prevail, I have endeavoured by every effort of kindly government to secure that, in accordance with the prescriptions of our law, the Peace of the most holy Brotherhood,67 whose grace the supreme God has poured into the hearts of His servants, should, through complete concord, be preserved secure. 'But whereas the provisions that we have made have not prevailed to subdue the obstinate violence of crime, which has been implanted in the breasts of certain men----few though they be----and whereas some favour is still shown to this wickedness of theirs, so that they would not on any account suffer a place in which they were proud to have sinned68 to be extorted from them, we must see to it, that as all this evil affects a few, it may be, through the mercy of Almighty God, mitigated for the people. For we ought to hope for a remedy, from that source to which all good desires and deeds are referred.69 But, until the Heavenly medicine shows itself, our designs must be moderated so far as to act with patience, and whatever in their insolence they attempt or carry out, in accordance with their habitual wantonness----all this we must endure with the strength which comes from tranquillity. In no way let wrong be returned to wrong, |409 for it is the mark of a fool to snatch at that vengeance which we ought to leave to God, especially since our faith ought to lead us to trust that whatever we may endure from the madness of men of this kind, will avail before God for the grace of martyrdom. For what is it, to overcome in this world in the Name of God, excepting to endure with an unshaken heart the untamed savagery of men who harass the people of the Law of Peace? But, if you will give yourselves loyally to this affair, you will speedily bring it about that, by the favour of God on high, these men, who are making themselves the standard-bearers of this most miserable strife, may all come to recognise, as their laws 70 or customs 71 fall into decay,72 that they ought not, through the persuasion of a few, to give themselves over to perish in everlasting death,73 when they might, through the grace of repentance, be made whole again, having corrected their errors, for everlasting life.

Fare you well, by your common prayer, for ever, by God's favour, dearest brethren.74 |410 



In this Rescript Constantine provides that, as the Donatists refused to give back to Catholics their basilicas----amongst which was one that he had himself built for their use----the Donatists should, lest worse things befall, be left in undisturbed possession of their ill-gotten goods, and that a new Church should be built, again at his expense, to provide for the religious needs of Catholics. He also states that he had ordered that certain exemptions, relative to the curia and munera personalia, of which the Donatists had succeeded by their intrigues in depriving Catholic clerics of lower degree, should be restored to them, according to a custom which was already ancient.

Duchesne has shown (op. cit. pp. 28, 29) that certain passages in this letter are in even verbal accord with the prescriptions of Constantine in his letter to the Consular of Numidia still preserved in a law of the Theodosian Code.

He prints them as follows in parallel columns: |411 

Letter to the Numidian Bishops.  Theodosian Code, xvi,ii.75
Ad consularem quoque scribi mandavi Numidiae ut ipse in eiusdem ecclesiae fabricatione in omnibus sanctimoniam vestram iuvaret.

Lectores etiam Ecclesiae Catholicae et hypodiacones, reliquos quoque [qui] instinctu memoratorum quibusdam pro moribus ad munera vel ad decurionatum vocati sunt, iuxta sta[tu]tum legis meae1 ad nullum munus statui evocandos. Sed et eos qui ducti sunt haereticorum instinctu iussimus protinus molestis perfunctionibus absolvi.

Data non. febr., Serdica.

Imp. Constantinus Valentino consulari Numidiae.

Lectores divinorum apicum et hypodiaconi ceterique clerici qui per iniuriam haereticorum ad curiam devocati sunt absolvantur; et de cetero ad similitudinem Orientis minime ad curias devocentur sed immunitate plenissima potiantur.

Data non. febr., Serdica.

Constantine evidently was as good as his word. He dated, and no doubt despatched, his letters on the same day to the Numidian Bishops and his Prefect in Africa. Would that Princes had always thus faithfully kept their promises to the Church. |412 

Rescript of Constantine to the Bishops of Numidia.

Constantine the supreme Victor and always triumphant Emperor, to Zenuzius, Gallicus, Victorinus, Sperantius, Januarius, Felix, Crescentius, Pontius, Victor, Babbertius, Donatus, Bishops.

Since this is certainly the Will of the Supreme God, who is the Author of this world and its Father, (through whose goodness we enjoy life, look up to heaven, and rejoice in the society of our fellow-men), that the whole human race should agree together and be joined in a certain affectionate union by, as it were, a mutual embrace, it is not doubtful that heresies and schism have come from the devil, who is the head of wickedness. Therefore, there is no room to doubt that whatever heretics do, is done through his prompting who has taken possession of their senses, minds and thoughts. For, when he has reduced men of this character beneath his power, he rules them in every sort of fashion. And what good thing can be done by a man who is insane, unbelieving, irreligious, profane, opposed to God, an enemy of the Holy Church, who (departing from God, the Holy, the True, the Just, the Supreme, and the Lord of all, from Him who has given us life and preserved us in this world----having bestowed upon us breath for the life which we enjoy, and willed us to have, that which is His own 76 ----and has made all things perfect by His Will) runs on the downward path to the side of the devil? But, inasmuch as the soul which has once been possessed by the Evil One----for it must needs do the works of its teacher----does those things which are opposed to equity and justice, it follows that they who have been possessed by the devil yield themselves to his falsehood and wickedness. Moreover, |413 it is not to be wondered at 77 that the wicked depart from the good, for thus has it been rightly laid down in the proverb, 'Like flock with like together.' 78 It must needs be that those who have been stained with the evil of an impious mind should depart from our fellowship. For, as Scripture says, the wicked man brings forth wicked things from a wicked treasure,79 but the good man brings forth good from good. But since (as we have said) heretics and schismatics, who, deserting good and following after evil, do the things that are displeasing to God, are proved to cling to the devil, who is their father, most rightly and wisely has your Gravity 80 acted in accordance with the holy precepts of the Faith, by abstaining from contending with their perversity, and giving them the use of that which they claim for themselves, though they have no right to it, and it does not belong to them, lest----so great is their wicked and shameless perversity----they might even break out into tumults, and stir up men like themselves at their crowded meetings, and thus a state of sedition might be produced, which could not be allayed. For their criminal purpose always requires them to do the works of the devil. Therefore, since the Bishops of God overcome them, together with their father himself,81 by patience, let those who are the worshippers of the Supreme God obtain glory for themselves, but these others condemnation and condign punishments. In fact, may the Judgement of the Supreme God become the more imposing and appear 82 the more just from this, that He bears with them in calmness, and His patience condemns all the deeds which have come from them, enduring them for a while, for God indeed has declared that He is the Avenger of all. So when vengeance is reserved to God, the enemy is punished the more severely. And |414 I have now been informed that you, the servants of God, have done this willingly, and I have rejoiced that you demand no punishment upon the impious and wicked, the sacrilegious and profane, the perfidious and irreligious, upon those who displease God and are the enemies of the Church, but rather ask that they should be pardoned. This is to know God truly and thoroughly, this is to walk in the way of His Commandments, this is to believe with happiness, this is to think with truth, this is to understand that when the enemies of the Church are spared in this world, the greater punishment is laid up against them for hereafter.

I have learnt by the receipt of the letter of your Wisdom and Dignity, that the heretics or schismatics, with their accustomed wickedness, determined to seize the basilicas belonging to the Catholic Church, which I had ordered to be built in the City of Constantine,83 and that, though they had been often warned, both by us and by our judges at our command, to give up what was not theirs, they have refused to do so, but that you, imitating the Patience of the most high God, with a calm mind relinquish to their wickedness what is yours, and ask instead for another site for yourselves in exchange, namely the Custom House. This petition of yours I gladly welcomed, according to my custom, and straightway sent a suitable letter to the accountant,84 commanding him to see that our Custom House should be passed over, with all its rights, to the ownership of the Catholic Church. I have given you this with ready liberality, and have ordered it to be at once delivered to you. I have also commanded a basilica to be built on that spot at the Imperial expense, and have directed letters to be written to the Consular of Numidia,85 |415 telling him to be of assistance to your Holiness in all things which concern the building of this Church. I have also decreed, in accordance with my Statute law, that the lectors and subdeacons 86 of the Catholic Church, and any others who, by the command of the above-mentioned, have been summoned in consequence of their fitness, to public offices, or to the decurionship, should be free from all public obligations 87; also we have provided that those who at the instigation of heretics had been summoned, should forthwith be set free from disagreeable duties.88 For the rest I have also ordered that the law which I have made concerning Catholic ecclesiastics be observed. All these things have been written out at length, as this letter testifies, in order that they may be made known to your patience. And indeed, oh that the heretics or schismatics would at length provide for their own salvation, and that, having wiped away the darkness from their eyes, they would open them to the vision of true light, and that they would depart from the devil, and, however late, would flee to God, who is One and True, and the Judge of all mankind. But, since it is clear that they are remaining in their malice, and wish to die in their crimes, our warning and former careful exhortation is enough for them. For if they had been willing to obey our commands, they would have been freed from all evil. Let us, however, my Brothers, follow after the things that are ours, let us walk in the way of the Commandments, let us by good actions keep the Divine Precepts, let us free our life from errors and with the help of the mercy of God, let us direct it along the right path.

Given on February 5 at Sardica.




This document seems to have been joined in the Appendix to the Gesta apud Zenophilum. Its substance was given by St. Optatus (i, 14) who added:

'Sicut scripta Nundinarii tunc diaconi testantur et vetustas membranarum testimonium perhibet, quas dubitantibus proferre poterimus; harum namque plenitudinem rerum in novissima parte istorum libellorum ad implendam fidem adiunximus.'

It was produced by Catholics at the Conference of Carthage (Coll. iii, 351-355, 387-400; 408-432, 452-470; Brev. Coll. iii, xv, xvii). St. Augustine quotes it in several passages (con. Cresc. iii, 26, 27; Ep. xliii, 3; c. Litt. Petil. i, 21; de unico Baptismo xvii; ad Donat. post coll. xiv (Cirtense concilium, si tamen concilium dicendum est, in quo vix undecim vel duodecim Episcopi fuerunt); con. Gaud. i, 47 &c). I give a translation of the document as it is to be found almost in its entirety in con. Cresc, iii, 27. |417 


When Diocletian was Consul for the eighth and Maximinian for the seventh time, on March 4, after Secundus, Bishop of Tigisis and Primate, had taken his seat in the house of Urbanus Donatus,89 he said:

'Let us first see that all are duly qualified to act, and thus we shall be able to consecrate a Bishop.'

Secundus said to Donatus of Mascula:

'It is alleged that you have been guilty of Betrayal.'

Donatus replied:

'You know how Florus searched for me to make me offer incense, and God did not deliver me into his hands, my brother; but since God has pardoned me, so do you too leave me to God.'

Secundus said:

'What then are we to do about the Martyrs? They have been crowned because they did not "betray."'

Donatus said:

'Send me to God. Before Him I will render my account.'

Secundus said:

'Come to one side.'

Secundus said to Marinus of the Waters of Tibilis:

'It is alleged that you too were guilty of Betrayal.'

Marinus answered:

'I did give papers to Pollus. My codices are safe.'

Secundus said:

'Stand on one side.'

Secundus said to Donatus of Calama:

'It is alleged that you were guilty of Betrayal.'

Donatus answered:

'I gave them medical treatises.' |418 

Secundus said:

'Stand on one side.'

And in another place:

Secundus said to Victor of Rustica:

'It is alleged that you "betrayed" four Gospels.'

Victor answered:

'Valentianus was Curator. He forced me to throw them into the fire. I knew that they were lost. Pardon me this fault and God will also pardon me.'

Secundus said:

'Stand on one side.'

And in another place:

Secundus said to Purpurius of Limata:

'It is alleged that you killed at Milevis the two sons of your sister.'

Purpurius answered:

'Do you think that I am frightened of you, like the rest? What have you done, who were forced by the Curator and the soldiers to give up the Scriptures? How did you come to be set free by them, unless you surrendered something, or ordered it to be surrendered? For they did not let you go at random. Yes, I did kill, and I intend now to kill those who act against me. So do not now provoke me to say anything more. You know that I interfere with nobody's affairs.'

Secundus the Less said to Secundus his uncle:

'Do you hear what he is saying against you? He is ready to leave, and make a schism; and not only he, but also all those who are accused by you. I know that they intend to abandon you, and pronounce sentence against you. You will then remain alone, a heretic. So what business is it of yours what any one has done? He has to render an account to God.'

Secundus said to Felix of Rotarium, [to Nabor] of Centurio and Victor of Garba:

'What do you think?' |419 

They answered:

'They have God, to whom they must render their account.'

Secundus said:

'You know and God knows. Sit down.'

And they all answered:

'Thanks be to God.'  |420



We have here a report of the Pro-Consul Anulinus to Constantine, informing him that he had duly sent his letter to Caecilian, but that a few days afterwards he had been approached by a deputation, followed by a crowd of people, requesting him to transmit two documents----one sealed, the other open----to the Emperor (cf. Opt. i, 22).

This document was produced in its entirety by the Catholics at the Carthage Conference (Gesta Coll. Carthag. diei iii, ccxv-ccxx, cccxvi, cf. Brev. iii, 8, 24). It has also been reproduced by St. Augustine (Ep. lxxxviii, 2, from which source I have made my translation) and is often mentioned by him (con. Crescon. iii, 67; De Un. Bapt. 28; Ep. lxxxix, 3; cxxviii, 2; cxxiv, 9, &c). |421 

Report of Anulinus to the Emperor.

My duty 90 has caused me, amongst the acts of my insignificance,91 to send your Majesty's heavenly letter, 92 after I had received and venerated it,93 to Caecilian and his subordinate clerics 94; at the same time I exhorted them that----now that Unity has been effected with general consent, since through the condescension of your Majesty their liberty was seen to be in every respect completely secure, and the Catholic Church was protected----they should apply themselves to the service of their holy Law and to the things of God, with due reverence. But a few days afterwards I was approached by certain persons, followed by a great throng of the populace, who held that Caecilian must be opposed, and presented me in my official capacity 95 with two documents, one bound in leather and sealed, the other a libellus unsealed, and demanded with insistence that I should send them to the sacred and venerable Court of your Highness. This my littleness has been careful to do (preserving Caecilian in his position), and I have forwarded their Acts, that your Majesty may be in a position to determine everything. I have sent the two libelli, of which the one bound in leather has been endorsed Libellus Ecclesiae Catholicae criminum Caeciliani traditus a parte Maiovini.96 Also the one without a seal together with that in leather. Given on the fifteenth of April at Carthage when Constantine Augustus was for the third time Consul. |422 



In this letter Constantinc calls upon Pope Melchiades (or Miltiades) to judge the question lately raised in Africa between Caecilian and his accusers. The Emperor encloses for the Pope's information the two documents which (as we have just read) he had lately received from Anulinus (cf. Optatus, i, 22; Augustine, Ep. xliii, 5; Ep. xciii, 13; de Unit. xviii; con. Crescon. iii, 61). This letter has been preserved for us by Eusebius (H.E. x, 5) E0peidh_ toiou~toi. It was produced by the Catholics at the Conference in 411 (Coll. iii, 319; Brev. iii, 12). |423 

Letter of the Emperor Constantine in which he provides for the 
case concerning Caecilian to be judged at Rome.

Constantine Augustus to Miltiades Bishop of Rome and to Marcus.97 Whereas several documents 98 have been sent to me from Anulinus, the most illustrious ProConsul of Africa, in which it is shown that Caecilian, Bishop of Carthage, has been accused on many grounds by certain of his fellow-Bishops 99 in Africa----since it appears to me a very grievous 100 thing that in those Provinces which Divine Providence has freely committed to my fidelity, where there is a vast population, the multitude (as it were divided into twain) are found to be deteriorating, and the Bishops, amongst others, are at variance----I have resolved that this Caecilian with ten of the Bishops who accuse him and ten others whom he himself may choose to aid in his defence, shall sail to Rome; that there in your presence and in the presence of Reticius, Maternus and Marinus your fellow-Bishops, whom I have ordered to hasten to Rome for this purpose, this case may be determined in the manner which you know to be in agreement with the most holy Law.101 Moreover, that you may derive the fullest knowledge of all this business, I have added copies of the documents which were sent me by Anulinus, to my letters to your above-mentioned fellow-Bishops. After you have perused these your Gravity 102 |424 will carefully consider in what way this controversy may be most accurately investigated and justly decided. And it will not have escaped your careful observation that so great is my reverence for the most holy Catholic Church that I am absolutely unwilling that any schism or dissension should be left in any place by you.103 My most esteemed one,104 may the Divinity of the Most High God preserve you for many years. |425 



This letter was produced by the Donatists at the Conference in 411 (Coll. Carthag. Diei iii, dlvi, dlviii; Brev. iii, 41, 42). St. Augustine gives us the complete text (con. Crescon. iii, lxx. Cf. Ep. lxxxviii, 4; ad Donat. 19). |426 

Letter of the Emperor Constantine to Probianus the Pro-Consul of Africa.

The Emperors Constantine Maximus and Valerius Licinius Caesars to Probianus the Pro-Consul of Africa.

Your predecessor Aelianus at a time when he was discharging the duties of that most worthy man, Verus our Vicar, in consequence of his ill-health, thought well (and with reason), amongst other matters, to investigate and determine the business----that is, the charges----brought by envy against Caecilian, a Bishop of the Catholic Church. For after he had secured the presence of Superius the centurion, and Caecilianus the Magistrate of Aptunga, and Saturninus 105 who was formerly Curator, and Calidius 106 the younger Curator, and Solon a public official of that city, he gave them a fair hearing----so that when it was alleged as an objection against Caecilian that he had been raised to the Episcopate by Felix, who was accused of the Betrayal and burning of the Divine Scriptures, the innocence of Felix was proved. Finally, when Maximus charged Ingentius, a decurion of Ziqua, with having falsified a letter of Caecilianus formerly Duovir, we have learned from the Acts of the Proceedings that this Ingentius was prepared for torture, and was only saved by his statement that he was a decurion of Ziqua.107 Wherefore it is our will that you should despatch this Ingentius, under suitable escort, to my Court of Constantine Augustus,108 so that it may be made quite clear, in the presence and hearing of those who are concerned with this affair, and for some time past have been incessantly appealing to me, that it is to no purpose that they show their malice against Caecilian |427 the Bishop and have been pleased to bestir themselves against him with violence. So will it be brought to pass that these disputes having ceased, as is right, the people may without any dissension serve their religion 109 with the reverence that is its due. |428


We have here a letter of the Emperor Constantine to the Pro-Consul Anulinus, commanding that restitution should be made of their property to the Catholic churches. It has been preserved by Eusebius (H.E. x, 5). |429 

An Imperial Decree

Hail, Anulinus, most highly esteemed by us! After this manner is our benevolence, that we will that those things which by just title belong to others should not only remain unmolested, but also, when necessary, be restored, most esteemed Anulinus! Wherefore we decree that, so soon as you have received this letter, if any of those things which belong to the Catholic Church of the Christians, in the several cities or other places, are held by Decurions or by any others, these you shall cause immediately to be restored to their churches. For we have determined that whatever these same churches formerly possessed shall be restored in accordance with justice. When therefore your Fidelity 110 has understood that this decree of our orders is most clear, you will make haste to see that everything, whether gardens or houses, or whatever else belongs to these churches, be restored to them as soon as may be possible----that we may learn that you have attended to, and most carefully carried into execution, this our decree. Farewell, my most esteemed and beloved Anulinus. |430 


Letter of the Emperor Constantine to the Pro-Consul Anulinus, concerning the Immunity of Clerics belonging to the Catholic Church at Carthage, where Caecilian was Bishop.

This letter has been preserved by Eusebius (H.E. x, 7). |431 

A Copy of a Letter of the Emperor Constantine, in which he orders that all those holding office in the Churches should be exempt from all Civil Duties.

Hail, Anulinus, most highly esteemed by us! Whereas from many incidents it is abundantly clear that whenever the religion, by which the supreme reverence due to the Divine Majesty is guarded, has been held in contempt, the greatest perils have overtaken the State, and whereas this religion, when it has been duly accepted and protected, has, through the goodness of God, conferred the highest prosperity on the Roman name and has given their chief benefits to all human affairs----We have resolved that those men, who with due piety and careful observance of this Law, have given their service to the divine worship, should receive the recompence for their labours, O most esteemed Anulinus!

Wherefore it is our will that those men called Clerics, who within the Province entrusted to your care serve this most holy religion in the Catholic Church, over which Caecilian presides, shall be held totally exempt from all public offices, to the end that they may not, through some mistake or sacrilegious deviation, be drawn away from the service which is due to God Most High; but may be free to serve their own Law without any disturbance. For through their showing supreme reverence to God, the very greatest advantage will accrue to the Commonwealth. Farewell, my most esteemed and beloved Anulinus!

[Footnotes have been moved to the end and renumbered]

1. 1 Aelafio. We do not meet this name elsewhere. It is almost certainly an error of the copyists. Du Pin (without giving any reason for his choice) suggests Ablavio. Mgr. Duchesne, however, (p. 61) with, his usual acumen, identifies this Aelafius of the corrupt Ms. with the Aelius Paulinus of whom we have read at the beginning of the Acta Purgationis Felicis (cf. Opt. i, 27). For the recipient of this letter evidently was Constantine's Vicar in Africa, and no one else could be charged with the public conveyance of Bishops of Numidia, Byzacium, and Mauritania. Now Patritius was Vicar from the end of 312 to the beginning of 313 (cf. S. Aug. con. Cresc. iii, 81 etc.), Verus was Vicar in February 315. Shortly before Verus, Aelius Paulinus. It is therefore in all probability his name which is hidden beneath the group of letters Aelafius. The following then is the succession of Vicars of Africa in the early years of Constantine. (1) Patritius, (2) Aelius Paulinus=Aelafius, (3) Verus, (4) Domitius Celsus, (5) Eumelius, (6) Verinus.

2. 2 Episcopus. The MS. reads episcopi----of course this is a mistake.

3. 1  Cf. Opt. i, 26 (n. 4, p. 29).

4. 2  minus dignus idem Caecilianus cultu sanctissimae religionis habeatur.

5. 3   Cf. p. 328, n. 1.

6. 1  consensumque debent = they owe him their approval as Bishop.

7. 2  aliquantos ex suis.

8. 3 data evectione publica. 

9. 4 nihilominus ( = huiusmodi, in the same way).

10. 5 his in singulis Episcopis singulas tractorias tribuas. In his History of the Conference at Carthage, a.D. 411 (reprinted by Du Pin in his Optatus), Balduinus writes as follows: 'Nolo hoc loco praeterire quod ipse Augustinus in Lib. post Collat. cap. 24 ait Donatistas a Primate suo per Tractoriam fuisse evocatos. Tractoria verbum est iuris nostri, sicuti et in eadem prope significatione, Evectio, quo etiam verbo utitur Augustinus lib. 5 Confess. Significat autem libellum vel diploma ut missis aut evocatis detur viaticum de publico, et ut uti possint cursu publico. Exstat lib. xii. Cod. Titul. de Tract. ubi Interpres praeterea refert quoddam fragmentum cuiusdam edicti Constantini facientis memoriam Tractoriarum et Evectionis publicae dandae Donatistis propter caussam Caeciliani.' Constantine gave the same right of public conveyances to the Bishops for Nicaea, and his successors did the same for all the great Councils of the Church----they had the Bishops conveyed at the public cost in the regular imperial post-chaises. So this letter of Constantine with regard to the Council of Arles is rendered more interesting from the fact that thereby he set the example for future Emperors.

11. 6 Arles.

12. 1  Above is a translation of a sentence twenty lines long in the Latin, with several anacolutha.

13. 2  de cetero, an emendation for the de secreto of the MS., which cannot be translated.

14. 3  quaeque non inmerito finem debent accipere maturum. This can only be translated by leaving out quaeque, which has probably slipped into the MS.

15. 4  decernat. The MS. reads decernet.

16. 1  merita reverentia salutamus.

17. 2  The Editors read graves ac perniciosos legi nostrae atque traditioni effrenatae mentis homines pertulimus. Ziwsa for graves ac perniciosos reads gravem ac perniciosam, for legi, traditioni, he reads legis, traditionis, and supplies iniuriam et between traditionis and effrenatae.

18. 3  Dei nostri praesens auctoritas.

19. 4  ita respuit, ut.

20. 5 ut nulla in iis ant dicendi ratio subsisteret aut accusandi modus ullus aut probatio conveniret.

21. 6 aut damnati sunt aut repulsi.

22. 1  tamen.

23. 2  observare.

24. 3  The MS. has ex his qui singulos quos monebat. Du Pin observes that there must be a lacuna between quos and monebat. Ziwsa changes quos to quosque and monebat to movebant. This I have translated in the text.

25. 4  The MS. reads antequam ante a te. This is manifestly corrupt. Ziwsa reads antea ad te scribi.

26. 5 qui maiores dioeceseos tenes (so the MS. Hefele, History of the Councils, i. 204, note 2, suggests that the word gubernacula had fallen out. In this case maiores should be maioris). The editors read maiores dioeceses. Dioecesis is a province of the Empire (cf. 'mirifica expectatio est Asiae nostrarum dioecesium ' Cic.). Antioch, for example, was the capital of the dioecesis Oriens, and the Bishop or Patriarch of Antioch had jurisdiction over that vast province. The context shows that the Pope is over all these 'greater provinces,' so that he can intimate the decision to the whole East and West.

27. 1  per te potissimum omnibus insinuari.

28. 2  Reading, with Ziwsa, quia for the qui of the MS.

29. 3  Reading with the editors de his etiam for de his agitur of the MS.

30. 4  qui arma proiiciunt in pace.

31. 5  de his. The MS. has de his agitur.

32. 6 credere. So Ziwsa. The MS. has recedere.

33. 1  The MS. has de Africa. The editors read de Afris.

34. 2  manus tantum ei imponatur.

35. 3  etcetera. The text of the letter is here broken off, and the interruption is marked by an etcetera.

36. 4  tunc taedians iussit omnes ad sedes suas redire----amen. Taedians, literally, 'being sick of the affair.' This is clearly no longer in the epistolary but narrative style. It evidently means to say that Constantine was now weary of the whole thing, and sent all those who had assisted at the Council back to their homes. Duchesne argues (op. cit. p. 10) that this 'débris de phrase' proves clearly that there was, besides the documents in the dossier, a running commentary, which held them together ('un récit qui les reliat'). He says that no doubt there was originally to be found in this place a statement (after the letter had been finished) as to the protests raised by the Donatists against the decision of the Council, of the Emperor's useless efforts for peace, and that he then grew tired of it all. If so, the last line of this document alone remains to tell the tale.

37. 1 in caeli specula residens. This is Ziwsa's emendation. The MS. has secula. Du Pin suggests per saecula.

38. 1  mera ( = unmingled, pure). Du Pin suggests vera.

39. 2  manifesta luce claret.

40. 3  comperi (i.e. by your letter to me from Arles).

41. 4  meum iudicium postulant, qui ipse iudicium Christi expecto. Famous words. Cf. Optatus i, 23.

42. 5  dico enim, ut se veritas habet, sacerdotum iudicium ita debet haberi, ac si Dominus residens iudicet.

43. 6 i.e. the Bishops.

44. 1  nisi quod Christi magisterio stint edocti.

45. 2  perquirunt saecularia, relinquentes caelestia.

46. 3  Cf. Optatus i, 25.

47. 4 detractores legis.

48. 5 The pagans appealed from the lower courts to the higher, the Donatists from the higher to the lower, from the ecclesiastical to the civil, from the judgement of Heaven (of Bishops) to that of earth (the Emperor's).

49. 6 viam (cf. Acts ix, 2).

50. 7 ibi sibi mortem peius pervideant. For mortem we must read morte.

51. 1 Duchesne writes (op. cit. p. 24): 'Triberos, et non Triberis, comme dans les éditions.'

52. 1  Legis eius, i.e. Donatism, as contrasted with Lex Catholica.

53. 2  angarialem his cum annonaria conpetentia . . . dedimus.

54. 3  Sollertiam tuam.

55. 1  eum Menalium. Probably the Menalius mentioned by Optatus (i, 13) as having been present at the Council of Cirta.

56. 2  The MS. has praesentia mea susceptam fugam subtrahere. This seems impossible to translate, even though, with Ziwsa, we read praesentiae meae. If, with Du Pin, we read suscepta fuga se subtrahere, the sense becomes clear.

57. 3  eosdem omittas.

58. 4 dissimulandum super ipsos cognoscas.

59. 1  quae et qualis.

60. 2  inlecebris. The editors read in latebris.

61. 3  perdam atque discutiam.

62. 4 posse beatitudines martyris eo genere conquirere. Duchesne paraphrases thus (op. cit. p. 37): 'Il ne reculera pas devant la rigueur, et ceux qui s'en trouveront mal ne devront pas s'attendre à ce qu'on les regarde comme des martyres.'

63. 5  The MS. reads violentiae; Ziwsa reads violentes.

64. 6  ad plenissimam fidem salute etiam teste invocata. The sense seems to be that the clerics were to invoke their own salvation as witness to their fullest fidelity or truthfulness. 'As they hoped for salvation,' this was to be the Christian formula, as distinguished from the old appeal to heathen deities, in confirmation of evidence.

65. 1 pro institute meo.

66. 1  pur it as.

67. 2  Pax illa sanctissimae fraternitatis. (The Catholic Church.)

68. 3 i.e. the basilicas, in which they were proud (gauderent) to have sinned by their schism.

69. 4 quo omnia bona vota et facta referuntur. Quo is an emendation for cum of the MS.

70. 1 institutes.

71. 2 moribus.

72. 3 languescentibus.

73. 4 leto. The MS. has laeto.

74. 5 Valete voto communi per saecula, iubente Deo, fratres carissimi.

75. 1 Cod. Theod. xvi, ii, 1,2; cf. Eusebius, H.E. x, 7.

76. 1 qui nos id quod suum esse voluit. These last words are clearly corrupt, I have translated, emending esse to est habere.

77. 1  mirandum est. The MS. has miratum est.

78. 2  Cf. Cicero, Cato m. 3, 7.

79. 3 Cf. Matthew vii, 17, 18. 

80. 4 Gravitas vestra.

81. 5 cum ipso suo patre (i.e. the devil).

82. 6 ex hoc quippe maius existat. For existat Du Pin reads exstat.

83. 1 In Constantino, civitate. Cirta had only recently received its new name.

84. 2 rationalem.

85. 3 ad Consularem Numidiae. Consularis is one who has been consul; consequently 'consularis Numidiae': = governor of Numidia, as he was not technically 'proconsul' but prefect.

86. 1 hypodiacones.

87. 2 Cf. Appendix xvi, p. 430.

88. 3 molestis perfunctionibus absolvi.

89. 1 Cf. Optatus i, 14: 'Quia basilicae necdum fuerunt restitutae, in domum Urbani Carisi consederunt.'

90. 1 devotio mea.

91. 2 parvitatis meae.

92. 3 scripta caelestia. This letter has been preserved by Eusebius (x, 7). I subjoin a translation (Appendix xvi). 

93. 4 accepta atque adorata.

94. 5  his qui sub eodem agunt, quique clerici appellantur. This is taken from Constantine's own 'heavenly letter.'

95. 6  obtuleruni dicationi meae. Cf. Edictum Marcellini (Migne, P.L. ix. 819, 820): 'epistulis ad meam dicationem currentibus,' and 'qui dicationi meae de publicis praestolantur officiis.'

96. 7  Cf. p. 43, n. 3.

97. 1  καὶ Μάρκῳ. Baronius suspected that the text was here corrupt and suggested ἱεράρχῃ. But Marcus was probably a priest in Rome high in the counsels of Miltiades----very likely the Marcus who succeeded Silvester as Pope (Opt. ii, 3). Μάρκῳ may, however, be a mistake for Μεροκλεί, the Bishop of Milan, who was present at the Roman Council (Opt. i, 23).

98. 2  χάρται, called chartae in Coll. Carthag. (diei iii, cccvi).

99. 3   κολλήγων αὐτοῦ.

100. 4 βαρὺ σφόδρα.  

101. 5 i.e. of the Catholic Church; cf. p. 333, n. 2:

102. 6 ἡὑμετέρα στεῤῥότης.

103. 1 ἔν τινι τόμῳ ὑμᾶς καταλιπεῖν.

104. 2 τιμιώτατε.

105. 1  The Claudius (or Calidius) Saturianus of Optatus (i, 27).

106. 2  The Calidius Gratianus of Optatus (id.).

107. 3  Cf. p. 343.

108. 4  ad comitatum meum Constantini Augusti.

109. 1 religioni propriae cum debita veneratione deserviat.

110. 1 ἡ καθοσίωσις ἡ σή.

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Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts