Surviving References

And while Arius to expound his own error wrote a Thaleia in an effeminate and ridiculous style like Sotades the Egyptian

For with them for Christ is Arius, as with the Manichees Manichæus; and for Moses and the other saints they have made the discovery of one Sotades, a man whom even Gentiles laugh at, and of the daughter of Herodias. For of the one has Arius imitated the dissolute and effeminate tone, in writing Thaliæ on his model; and the other he has rivalled in her dance, reeling and frolicking in his blasphemies against the Saviour; till the victims of his heresy lose their wits and go foolish, and change the Name of the Lord of glory into the likeness of the ‘image of corruptible man’ and for Christians come to be called Arians, bearing this badge of their irreligion. … after abandoning the oracles of divine Scripture, call Arius’s Thaliæ a new wisdom? and with reason too, for they are announcing a new heresy. And hence a man may marvel, that, 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 nor 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 heresies, 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 wretched words of irreligion into dissolute and loose metres? that, while ‘a man,’ as Wisdom says, ‘is known from the utterance of his word,’ so from those numbers should be seen the writer’s effeminate soul and corruption of thought. It is very difficult to gain a clear idea of the character of Arius. In truth, that crafty one did not escape detection; but, for all his many writhings to and fro, like the serpent, he did but fall into the error of the Pharisees. They, that they might transgress the Law, pretended to be anxious for the words of the Law, and that they might deny the expected and then present Lord, were hypocritical with God’s name, and were convicted of blaspheming when they said, Why dost Thou, being a man, make Thyself God, and sayest, I and the Father are one? And so too, this counterfeit and Sotadean Arius, feigns to speak of God, introducing Scripture language, but is on all sides recognised as godless. And so godless Arius, denying the Son, and reckoning Him among the creatures.

Now the commencement of Arius’s Thalia and flippancy, effeminate in tune and nature, runs thus:- ‘According to faith of God’s elect, God’s prudent ones,
Holy children, rightly dividing, God’s Holy Spirit receiving,
Have I learned this from the partakers of wisdom,
Accomplished, divinely taught, and wise in all things.
Along their track, have I been walking, with like opinions.
I the very famous, the much suffering for God’s glory;
And taught of God, I have acquired wisdom and knowledge.’

And the mockeries which he utters in it, repulsive and most irreligious, are such as these: ‘God was not always a Father;’ but ‘once God was alone, and not yet a Father, but afterwards He became a Father.’ ‘The Son was not always;’ for, whereas all things were made out of nothing, and all existing creatures and works were made, so the Word of God Himself was ‘made out of nothing,’ and ‘once He was not,’ and ‘He was not before His origination,’ but He as others ‘had an origin of creation.’ ‘For God,’ he says, ‘was alone, and the Word as yet was not, nor the Wisdom. Then, wishing to form us, thereupon He made a certain one, and named Him Word and Wisdom and Son, that He might form us by means of Him.’ Accordingly, he says that there are two wisdoms, first, the attribute co-existent with God, and next, that in this wisdom the Son was originated, and was only named Wisdom and Word as partaking of it. ‘For Wisdom,’ saith he, ‘by the will of the wise God, had its existence in Wisdom.’ In like manner, he says, that there is another Word in God besides the Son, and that the Son again, as partaking of it, is named Word and Son according to grace. And this too is an idea proper to their heresy, as shewn in other works of theirs, that there are many powers; one of which is God’s own by nature and eternal; but that Christ, on the other hand, is not the true power of God ….
Moreover he has dared to say, that ‘the Word is not the very God;’ ‘though He is called God, yet He is not very God,’ but ‘by participation of grace, He, as others, is God only in name.’ And, whereas all beings are foreign and different from God in essence, so too is ‘the Word alien and unlike in all things to the Father’s essence and propriety,’ but belongs to things originated and created, and is one of these. Afterwards, as though he had succeeded to the devil’s recklessness, he has stated in his Thalia, that ‘even to the Son the Father is invisible,’ and ‘the Word cannot perfectly and exactly either see or know His own Father;’ but even what He knows and what He sees, He knows and sees ‘in proportion to His own measure,’ as we also know according to our own power. For the Son, too, he says, not only knows not the Father exactly, for He fails in comprehension but ‘He knows not even His own essence;’—and that ‘the essences of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, are separate in nature, and estranged, and disconnected, and alien and, in his own words, ‘utterly unlike from each other in essence and glory, unto infinity.’ Thus as to ‘likeness of glory and essence,’ he says that the Word is entirely diverse from both the Father and the Holy Ghost. With such words hath the irreligious spoken; maintaining that the Son is distinct by Himself, and in no respect partaker of the Father. These are portions of Arius’s fables as they occur in that jocose composition. … Who is there that hears all this, nay, the tune of the Thalia, but must hate, and justly hate, this Arius jesting on such matters as on a stage? who but must regard him, when he pretends to name God and speak of God, but as the serpent counselling the woman? who, on reading what follows in his work, but must discern in his irreligious doctrine that error, into which by his sophistries the serpent in the sequel seduced the woman? who at such blasphemies is not transported?

If then the use of certain phrases of divine Scripture changes, in their opinion, the blasphemy of the Thalia into reverent language …
On the other hand, what have these persons to shew us from the infamous Thalia? Or, first of all, let them read it themselves, and copy the tone of the writer; at least the mockery which they will encounter from others may instruct them how low they have fallen; and then let them proceed to explain themselves. For what can they say from it, but that ‘God was not always a Father, but became so afterwards; the Son was not always, for He was not before His generation; He is not from the Father, but He, as others, has come into subsistence out of nothing; He is not proper to the Father’s essence, for He is a creature and work?’ And ‘Christ is not very God, but He, as others, was made God by participation; the Son has not exact knowledge of the Father, nor does the Word see the Father perfectly; and neither exactly understands nor knows the Father. He is not the very and only Word of the Father, but is in name only called Word and Wisdom, and is called by grace Son and Power. He is not unalterable, as the Father is, but alterable in nature, as the creatures, and He comes short of apprehending the perfect knowledge of the Father.’ Wonderful this heresy, not plausible even, but making speculations against Him that is, that He be not, and everywhere putting forward blasphemy for reverent language! Were any one, after inquiring into both sides, to be asked, whether of the two he would follow in faith, or whether of the two spoke fitly of God,—or rather let them say themselves, these abettors of irreligion, what, if a man be asked concerning God (for ‘the Word was God’), it were fit to answer

when he was with Eusebius and his fellows, he drew up his heresy upon paper, and imitating in the Thalia no grave writer, but the Egyptian Sotades, in the dissolute tone of his metre

However, when they are beaten hence, and like Eusebius and his fellows, are in these great straits, then they have this remaining plea, which Arius too in ballads, and in his own Thalia

Men who have been promoted by Eusebius and his fellows for advocating this Antichristian heresy, venture to define articles of faith, and while they ought to be brought to judgment as criminals, like Caiaphas, they take upon themselves to judge. They compose a Thalia, and would have it received as a standard of faith

the Arian party invent such a heap of phrases, not from Scripture, Out of nothing, and the Son was not before His generation, and Once He was not, and He is alterable, and the Father is ineffable and invisible to the Son, and the Son knows not even His own essence; and all that Arius has vomited in his light and irreligious Thalia, why do not they speak against these, but rather take their part, and on that account contend with their own Fathers? And, in what Scripture did they on their part find Unoriginate, and the term essence, and there are three subsistences, and Christ is not very God, and He is one of the hundred sheep, and God’s Wisdom is ingenerate and without beginning, but the created powers are many, of which Christ is one?

This they have not confined to words, but Arius composed in his Thalia, and the Sophist Asterius wrote, what we have stated above, as follows: Blessed Paul said not that he preached Christ, the Power of God or the Wisdom of God, but without the addition of the article, God’s power and God’s wisdom

It should be observed moreover that Arius had written a treatise on his own opinion which he entitled Thalia; but the character of the book is loose and dissolute, similar in its style and metres to the songs of Sotades. This production also the Synod condemned at the same time.

He says that Arius, after his secession from the church, composed several songs to be sung by sailors, and by millers, 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.

It should be observed moreover that Arius had written a treatise on his own opinion which he entitled Thalia; but the character of the book is loose and dissolute, similar in its style and metres to the songs of Sotades. This production also the Synod condemned at the same time.

Victor Constantine Maximus Augustus, to the bishops and people.—Since Arius has imitated wicked and impious persons, it is just that he should undergo the like ignominy. Wherefore as Porphyry, that enemy of piety, for having composed licentious treatises against religion, found a suitable recompense, and such as thenceforth branded him with infamy, overwhelming him with deserved reproach, his impious writings also having been destroyed; so now it seems fit both that Arius and such as hold his sentiments should be denominated Porphyrians, that they may take their appellation from those whose conduct they have imitated. And in addition to this, if any treatise composed by Arius should be discovered, let it be consigned to the flames, in order that not only his depraved doctrine may be suppressed, but also that no memorial of him may be by any means left. This therefore I decree, that if any one shall be detected in concealing a book compiled by Arius, and shall not instantly bring it forward and burn it, the penalty for this offense shall be death; for immediately after conviction the criminal shall suffer capital punishment. May God preserve you!

The words in which his opinions were couched were likewise condemned, as also a work entitled Thalia, which he had written on the subject. I have not read this book, but I understand that it is of a loose character, resembling in license Sotadus. … The emperor punished Arius with exile, and dispatched edicts to the bishops and people of every country, denouncing him and his adherents as ungodly, and commanding. that their books should be destroyed, in order that no remembrance of him or of the doctrine which he had broached might remain. Whoever should be found secreting his writings and who should not burn them immediately on the accusation, should undergo the penalty of death, and suffer capital punishment.

Background

amid more serious poems, there be any room for the sportive Thalia

my Thalia, chained and imprisoned by your command, longs to pursue the glory of your forbidden name

A Cretan, a Maroneian, possessed by demons, a writer of iambics. He wrote Farces, that is obscene verses, in Ionic dialect; for even these used to be called Ionic Stories.

verses which will read backwards like the Sotadean ditties

the style of dialects and mannerisms that was in vogue among the cinaedi. Sotades was the first man to write the talk of the cinaedi; and then Alexander the Aetolian. But though these two men imitated that talk in mere speech, Lysis accompanied it with song; and so did Simus, who was still earlier than he.

Others to get

  • Marcellus of Ancyra Letter to Pope Julius in Epiphanius Panarion 72.2
  • Anastasius of Sinai