Philostorgius : 
Epitome of the Ecclesiastical History
(Excerpts on the First Council of Nicaea)

The Ecclesiastical History of Philostorgius is lost, but it was read in the 9th century by Photius, who includes a review in his Bibliotheca, and made an epitome of its contents, which survives in a single MS in Oxford.  The work was translated by Edward Walford in 1855 and appended to his translation of Sozomen, and is online complete here.

This extract is to illustrate the Council of Nicaea page:




CHAP. 7.Philostorgius says that before the synod at
Nicaea, Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, came to Nicomedia,
and after a convention with Hosius1 of Cordova and the other
bishops who were with him, prevailed upon the synod to de-
clare the Son consubstantial with the Father, and to expel
Arius from the communion of the church.

CHAP. 8.Not long after this, the synod of Nicaea was
held; at this synod, over and above the other high priests of
God, Basileus,2 bishop of Amasea, and Meletius,3 bishop of
Sebastopolis, were present. 

CHAP. 9.Philostorgius also confesses that all the bishops
consented to the exposition of the faith made at Nicaea, with
the exception of Secundus,4 bishop of Ptolemais, and Theon,
bishop of Marmarica. But the rest of the band of Arian
bishops, such as Eusebius of Nicomedia (whom Philostorgius
calls the Great), Theognis of Nicaea, and Tharis of Chalcedon,
and all the others, embraced the sentence of the council,
though with a fraudulent and treacherous purpose, (as Phi-
lostorgius admits,) for under the term o9moou&sioj they secretly
introduced that of o9moiou&sioj.5 But still they did not refuse
submission to the decrees of the synod, though Constantina,
the emperor's sister, suggested this counsel to them.

CHAP. 10.Philostorgius adds that Secundus, on going
into exile, said to Eusebius, "You subscribed, Eusebius, in
order to escape being sent into banishment: but I place my
confidence in a revelation made to me by God, that within a
year you will be sent into exile too." In point of fact, within
three months after the conclusion of the synod, Eusebius was

  1 Compare Socrates, Eccl. Hist. b. i. ch. 8.
  2 Or Basil (Basi/leioj) according to other writers. It is to be observed
that all other writers agree in considering that he was killed in the perse-
cution under Licinius, and was not therefore present at Nicaea. Valesius
is of this latter opinion.
  3 Concerning this Meletius, see the note of Valesius on Eusebius, Eccl.
Hist. b. vii. ch. 32. The interpreters of Philostorgius confound him with
Meletius of Sebaste, who was afterwards bishop of Antioch.
  4 Compare Socrates, Eccl. Hist.. b. i. ch. 8, and note in loco. Socrates
states that five bishops declined to subscribe to the exposition of faith at
Nicaea. It is clear, however, that he is mistaken, not only from this pas-
sage of Philostorgius, but also from the letter of the council given by
himself subsequently in chap. 9, where, it may be observed, Theon is
called Theonas.
  5 Compare note on Socrates, Eccl. Hist. b. i, ch. 8.


sent into exile according to the prediction of Secundus, upon
returning to his own original and manifest impiety.


CHAP. I.PHILOSTORGIUS falsely relates, that after the ge-
neral council and the recantation of the Eusebians, and their
open return to the orthodox faith, the emperor Constantine
punished them, because, while they subscribed to the Homo-
ousian faith, they entertained sentiments at variance with it,1
and on the other band, that he recalled Secundus and his
associates from banishment, and sent letters in every direction,
exploding the term "Homoousios," and confirming the doc-
trine of a diversity of substance. He adds that Alexander,
bishop of Alexandria, subscribed these letters, and that on
this account Arius communicated with him. But when all
fear on account of the emperor was at an end, Alexander
returned to his original sentiments, while Arius and those
who joined with him in his opinions seceded from communion
with Alexander and the church.

CHAP. 2.He says that Arius, after his secession from the
church, composed several songs to be sung by sailors, and by
millers,2 and by travellers along the high road, and others of
the same kind, which he adapted to certain tunes, as he
thought suitable in each separate case, and thus by degrees
seduced the minds of the unlearned by the attractiveness of his
songs to the adoption of his own impiety.


  1 Compare Socrates, Eccl. Hist. b. i. ch. 16, 20.
  2 asmata e0pimu&lia.  Philostorgius here makes no mention of the song
known in the "Thalia," from which Athanasius distinguishes these popu-
lar songs in his books concerning the Decrees of the Council of Nicaea. Vales.


Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press
SPIonic font, free from here.

Constructive feedback is welcomed to Roger Pearse.

Written 15th June 2001.
Updated with link to complete text, 9th July 2002.

This page has been online since 15th June 2001.

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