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In 325 CE, following the defeat of Arius at the Council of Nicea, Emperor Constantine the Great went on a campaign of book burning to eradicate all memory of Arius and his beliefs:

After the First Council of Nicea (325 CE), Roman emperor Constantine the Great issued an edict against nontrinitarian Arians which included a prescription for systematic book-burning:

"In addition, if any writing composed by Arius should be found, it should be handed over to the flames, so that not only will the wickedness of his teaching be obliterated, but nothing will be left even to remind anyone of him. And I hereby make a public order, that if someone should be discovered to have hidden a writing composed by Arius, and not to have immediately brought it forward and destroyed it by fire, his penalty shall be death. As soon as he is discovered in this offense, he shall be submitted for capital punishment....."[3]

According to Elaine Pagels, "In AD 367, Athanasius, the zealous bishop of Alexandria... issued an Easter letter in which he demanded that Egyptian monks destroy all such unacceptable writings, except for those he specifically listed as 'acceptable' even 'canonical'—a list that constitutes the present 'New Testament'".[4] (Pagels cites Athanasius's Paschal letter (letter 39) for 367 CE, which prescribes a canon but does not explicitly order monks to destroy excluded works.[5][original research?]) Heretical texts do not turn up as palimpsests, scraped clean and overwritten, as do many texts of Classical antiquity. According to author Rebecca Knuth, multitudes of early Christian texts have been as thoroughly "destroyed" as if they had been publicly burnt.[6]

The great Alexandrian library was destroyed under mysterious circumstances around that time.

So my thought is that it might be impossible to get my hands on Arius' writings. Is it? Or have any of his words survived?

  • There is a neat summary and some of his writings at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arius Note that the above decrees were almost certainly not fully implemented. Constantine's son was Arian, and Athanasius was expelled shortly after when Arius was reinstated. That popular opinion flip-flopped for bout a century or more after Nicaea. – user43409 Mar 21 at 21:14
  • Where did you get this quotation from? Sources? – Sola Gratia Mar 21 at 22:55
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    Yeah, I was concerned about Wikipedia citing Pagels, author of 'The Secret Gospel of Thomas'... lying about Athanasius ordering monks to burn Arian works. The biased author clearly wasn't concerned about truth. They literally say, 'this happened, says someone [SOURCE??]' what kind of article is that. Citing Wikipedia is not very useful. The primary sources are all that matter. What "The great and victorious Constantine Augustus" does is of little surprise or import or relationship to the Catholic position on the matter. – Sola Gratia Mar 22 at 0:06
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    Do not add unnecessary pejorative language to your question. This site is not for petty insults. – Nathaniel Mar 22 at 12:59
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    @ruminator, I doubt anybody has intentionally hidden that the circumstances around Constantine choosing not to go with Arianism were a strange moment in history, I read this in my daughter's history book (which has a very Catholic bent). But this site, it is important to remember, is a Q&A site, not a place for the airing of grievances. – Peter Turner Mar 22 at 13:14
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Yes. As St. Alphonsus of Liguori writes in "Article 2: The Arian Heresy" §8 of his The History of Heresies p. 56:

Noel Alexander says that these errors [of Arius] are taken from an impious work he wrote, called Thalia, and from an Epistle of his to St. Alexander, referred to by St. Athanasius, and from the Synodical Epistle of the Council of Nice, quoted by Socrates, St. Epiphanius, and Theodoret.

  • From your link, "Fragments of this work survive in two writings of his opponent Athanasius." We do have some of his words, but not in context as he presented them. – disciple Mar 22 at 13:20

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