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125Chapter XIII.—The Arians excite a Tumult at Constantinople.

At the time when the emperor was thus occupied on his military expedition, the Arians excited a great tumult at Constantinople by such devices as these. Men are fond of fabricating statements respecting matters about which they are in ignorance; and if at any time they are given occasion they swell to a prodigious extent rumors concerning what they wish, being ever fond of change. This was strongly exemplified at Constantinople on the present occasion: for each invented news concerning the war which was carrying on at a distance, according to his own caprice, always presuming upon the most disastrous results; and before the contest had yet commenced, they spoke of transactions in reference to it, of which they knew nothing, with as much assurance as if they had been spectators on the very scene of action. Thus it was confidently affirmed that ‘the usurper had defeated the emperor’s army,’ even the number of men slain on both sides being specified; and that ‘the emperor himself had nearly fallen into the usurper’s hands.’ Then the Arians, who had been excessively exasperated by those being put in possession of the churches within the city who had previously been the objects of their persecution, began to augment these rumors by additions of their own. But since the currency of such stories with increasing exaggeration, in time made even the farmers themselves believe them—for those who had circulated them from hearsay, affirmed to the authors of these falsehoods, that the accounts they had received from them had been fully corroborated elsewhere; then indeed the Arians were emboldened to commit acts of violence, and among other outrages, to set fire to the house of Nectarius the bishop. This was done in the second consulate732732    388 a.d. of Theodosius Augustus, which he bore with Cynegius.


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