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sure! Was the picture intended by the writer to make the heresiarch ridiculous?
But what authority is there for this "wild excitement" and dancing imputed to him? Only a somewhat obscure expression of Athanasius, which justifies nothing of the sort. Dr. Stanley appeals to his first oration against the Arians, section fourth. We will give the whole passage, and, to avoid the charge of partiality we will present it in the Oxford translation (Newman's). Athanasius speaks of Arius's "Thalias," called "a new wisdom." He proceeds: "Whereas, many have written many treatises and abundant homilies upon the Old Testament and the New, yet in none of them is a Thalia found, nay, not among the more respectable of the Gentiles, but among those only who sing such strains over their cups, amid cheers and jokes, when men are merry, that the rest may laugh; till this marvellous Arius, taking no grave pattern, and ignorant even of what is respectable, while he stole largely from other heretics, would be original in the ludicrous, with none but Sotades for his rival. For what beseemed him more, when he would dance forth against the Saviour, than to throw his words of irreligion into dissolute and abandoned metres.'
This, it will be recollected, is the account of Athanasius, who, by his own confession, "hated " Arius, for he was as good a hater as Dr. Johnson. It bears marks of a hostile hand. Yet there is nothing here which authorizes Dr. Stanley's assertion, "The grave Arius himself is said, in moments of wild excitement, to have danced like an Eastern dervish." Athanasius, as just said, betrays a hostile hand; but Dr. Stanley goes far beyond him. The Alexandrian prelate is severe; he indulges in bitter invective; but, as we read him, he does not attempt to make Arius ridiculous, by introducing him dancing in this wild way. This was left for the Regius Professor of Oxford, who seems to have thought the subject a fit one for the exercise of his talent for ludicrous description.
It is not clear from Athanasius's account that Arius himself danced at all. Whether the choric dance formed part of the
* Oxford Library of the Fathers, Vol. VIII. p 182.
religion of the old Alexandrian Christians, in imitation of the Hebrews, we are not prepared to say. It is worthy of notice that the Greek word used by Athanasius is the same which occurs in the Septuagint, where David is represented as dancing "before the Lord," on occasion of bringing the ark to the tabernacle. The dance, too, was practised, as a part of sacred worship, at the national festivals of the Jews, and on other occasions of religious interest, as history informs us. It is barely possible that something of the kind may have taken place among the Christians of Alexandria, being borrowed from the Jews, many of whom had long resided in Egypt, and especially at Alexandria, the home of Philo, the dance being accompanied with song. If so, this may be what Athanasius refers to, when he speaks of Arius as adapting his verses to the light measure used by the Egyptians on festal occasions. Arius might or might not have joined in the dance, but if he was half as infirm as Dr. Stanley's description makes him, he would hardly be expected to dance with the animation and "wild excitement" of an "Eastern dervish." This is all fiction."
There are other parts of Dr. Stanley's description which are open to criticism. He speaks, in our first extract, of this "moonstruck giant." Now, to say nothing on the question whether a man so excessively thin and emaciated, his limbs scarcely able to support his height (which, however, is not represented as excessive, it being said only that he was "very tall"), can with propriety be called a "giant," what are we to make of "moonstruck"? Arius was no lunatic. He is
*Dr. Milman defends Arius in the matter of the Sotadic measure, and refers to a "celebrated modern humorist and preacher," who "adapted hymns to some of the most popular airs, and declared that the Devil ought not to have all the best tunes." (Hist. Christ., p. 314.) As to the songs of Arius, we have suggested the bare possibility that they were intended for religious dances. This is very improbable, however. We are expressly told by the historian, that they were written for mariners, for those who worked at the mill, or who were travelling. (Philostorg., II. 2.) Nothing is said about religious dances like those of Miriam, David, or any other referred to in the Old Testament or the New; nor does the language of Athanasius, "when he would dance forth against the Saviour," whatever may be its meaning, necessarily imply it. To make a demonstration, or set forth words, "against the Saviour," that is, against the orthodox doctrines, may be, probably is, all which
not presented to us in history as a fanatic, or crazy enthusiast; he is described as remarkably sober, distinguished rather by his dialectic skill than for his ardor. All accounts make him an accomplished dialectician, the very opposite of "moonstruck." He is characterized as relying too much on the hard logic of the understanding. Mosheim says that he was a "man of an acute mind and fluent"; Gieseler speaks of his "love of clearness and precision," acquired in the "historicocritical school of Lucian"; and Neander tells us that he "placed the free grammatical interpretation of the Bible at the basis of his doctrinal system "; in him a "tendency to narrow conceptions of the understanding, exclusive of the intuitive faculty, predominated"; he had a "strong predilection for logical clearness and intelligibility." Socrates, the historian, gives him credit for "logical acumen "; and Sozomen says that he was a "most expert logician." All this makes him a clear-headed and close reasoner, whom one would hardly expect to hear characterized as "moonstruck." From a scholar of Dr. Stanley's reputation, one would look for more discrimination.
The qualities of the serpent attributed to Arius by his enemies refer mainly, we conceive, rather to his skill in dialectics than to his person. The charge brought against him was, that he could shift his argument "up and down," elude or refute objections, or seemingly refute them; could twist and turn, and so escape the toils of his antagonists. His adversaries ascribed to him the venom, as well as the craft, of the serpent. The Devil infused this venom into his veins, they said, poisoning all the fountains of his intellectual life. This is only an example of the odium theologicum. It is easy to apply abusive epithets; easier to pronounce opinions impious, than to prove their falsehood. So it was in the case of Arius. His opinions were denounced as blasphemous by those who were perplexed by his logic, and he himself was called an emissary of Satan, who used him as his instrument. But he was not in person the "crooked serpent," as Dr. Stanley describes him, any more than in mind. The ladies of Alexandria did not fly from him. Devout women there, to the number of seven hundred at least, evidently occupying a reputable position, and a
fair proportion of them, we may presume, possessing intellectual culture, became his followers; and nothing, as we are told by the old writers, no argument and no menace, no dread of church censures, could induce them to renounce him or his doctrines.
We will place by the side of Dr. Stanley's portrait of Arius two others, by learned men in modern times, who had access to all the documents used by the Oxford Professor; but with what different optics they scrutinized them our readers shall judge. It is but just to state that they are not portraits drawn by Arians. The first is taken from Dr. Milman, Dean of St. Paul's, London, who, after observing that Arius was a presbyter of acute powers of reasoning, popular address, and blameless character," who, "it was said, had declined the episcopal dignity" in the metropolis of Egypt, adds:
"The person of Arius was tall and graceful; his countenance calm, pale, and subdued; his manners engaging; his conversation fluent and persuasive. He was well acquainted with human sciences; as a disputant, subtle, ingenious, and fertile in resources. His enemies add to this character, which themselves have preserved, that this humble and mortified exterior concealed unmeasured ambition; that his simplicity, frankness, and honesty only veiled his craft and love of intrigue; that he appeared to stand aloof from all party merely that he might guide his cabal with more perfect command, and agitate and govern the hearts of men."*
This, it must be recollected, was, according to Dr. Milman, the construction which his enemies put on his conduct and motives.
The other portraiture is from Maimbourg, a Catholic writer of the seventeenth century, who was as fond of pictorial composition as the Regius Professor, though not so skilful an artist. We had prepared a translation of the passage, but finding that it had already been rendered into English by Rev. George Waddington, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, etc., and inserted in his "History of the Church," we, for obvious reasons, prefer to give his version. Maimbourg, says Mr. Waddington, very justly, "has seldom treated either Arius
* Hist. Christ., pp. 313, 314, ed. N. Y.
or his followers with any show of candor or justice"; he cannot therefore be suspected of partiality in this case. He says:
"Arius made use of the advantages he was master of by art and nature, to gain the people; for it is certain that he had a great many talents which rendered him capable of nicely insinuating himself into their good opinion and affections. He was tall of stature, and of a very becoming make, grave and serious in his carriage, with a certain air of severity in his looks, which made him pass for a man of great virtue and austerity of life. Yet this severity did not discourage those who accosted him, because it was softened by an extraordinary delicacy in his features that gave lustre to his whole person, and had something in it so sweet and engaging, as was not easily to be resisted. His garb was modest, but withal neat, and such as was usually worn by those who were men of quality as well as learning. His manner of receiving people was very courteous, and very ingratiating through his agreeable way of entertaining those who came to him upon any occasion. In short, notwithstanding his mighty [great] seriousness, and the severity and strictness of his mien, he perfectly understood how to soothe and flatter, with all imaginable wit and address, those whom he had a mind to bring over to his opinion and engage in his party."
Again the portrait of an enemy; but here is no "moonstruck giant," no "wriggling of a snake," no "wild excitement," no dancing like an "Eastern dervish."
Both these writers, as we perceive, impute faults and imperfections to Arius, give the shady as well as the sunny side, -the shady as it presented itself to the minds of his enemies; but there is nothing of the grossness, or disposition to make the heresiarch contemptible or ridiculous, which many will detect in Dr. Stanley, but of which, very possibly, he may himself have been unconscious. However this may be, the result is unfortunate for his reputation for fairness and justice. A writer who is capable of sacrificing so much to dazzling periods and picturesque effect cannot enjoy our highest confidence. A graphic style is not everything; historic truth is more precious and venerable.
Dr. Stanley very properly notices the bitterness of Athanasius, "the founder of Orthodoxy," against the Arians. He gives an amusing list of his favorite epithets for them. They are,
↑ Maimbourg, Histoire de l'Arianisme, Tom. I. p. 20. Waddington, p. 94.