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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

St Athanasius the Great HISTORY OF THE ARIANS, Complete

Translated by Cardinal Newman.

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Editor's Introduction (9 Pages - Jump directly to Athanasius' treatise

This History takes up the narrative from the admission of Arius to communion at the 'dedication' synod of Jerusalem (adjourned Council of Tyre) in 335, as described in Apol. c. Ar. 84. It has been commonly assumed from its abrupt beginning (the tauta, referring to an antecedent narrative) that the History has lost its earlier chapters, which contained the story of Arianism ab ovo. Montfaucon suggests in fact that the copyists omitted the first chapters on account of their identity in substance with the great Apology. But this seems to require reconsideration. If the alleged missing chapters were different [1511] in form from the second part of the Apology, they would not have been omitted: for such repetitions of the same matter in other words are very frequent in the works of Athanasius: but if they were identical in form, they are not lost, and the conclusion is that the History was written with the express intention of continuing the Apology. The customary inference from the abrupt commencement of the History may be dismissed with a non sequitur. Such a commencement was natural under the circumstances: we may compare the case of Xenophon, whose 'Hellenica' begin with the words Meta de tauta, ou pollais hemerais husteron..., the reference being to the end of the history of Thucydides. The view here maintained is clinched by the fact that Athanasius at this very time reissued his Apology against the Arians with an appendix (S:S:89, 90) on the lapse of Hosius and Liberius [1512] .

[1511] i.e. slight modifications excepted, see Montf. in Migne, P.G. xxv. 318, note 46, and 389, note 60.

[1512] For another example of hastily inferred mutiliation, see S:48, note 3.

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