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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

AFTER Athanasius had escaped all danger, and thus presented himself suddenly in the church, no one knew whence he came. The people of Alexandria, however, rejoiced at his return, and restored his churches to him. The Arians, being thus expelled from the churches, were compelled to hold their assemblies in private houses, under the guidance of Lucius, who had succeeded George as their bishop. George had been slain a short time previously: for when the magistrates had announced to the public the decease of Constantius, and the accession of Julian, the Pagans of Alexandria rose up in sedition. They attacked George with such violence that it was expected he would have been torn to pieces; but they merely, for the time being, committed him to prison. The following day, however, they repaired early in the morning to the prison, killed him, flung the corpse upon a camel, and after exposing it to every insult during the day, burnt it at nightfall. I am not ignorant that the Arians assert that George received this cruel treatment from the followers of Athanasius; but it seems to me more probable that the perpetrators of these deeds were the Pagans; for they had more cause than any other body of men to hate him, on account of his having destroyed their temples and their gods, and having, moreover, prohibited them from sacrificing, or performing the other rites of their religion according to the custom of their fathers. Besides, the extraordinary influence he had acquired over the emperor rendered him an object of popular odium; for the people, who generally look with suspicion on those in power, regarded him with uncontrollable aversion. A calamity had also taken place at a spot called Mithra. It was originally a desert, and Constantius had bestowed it on the church of Alexandria. George having given orders to clear the ground, in order to erect a house of prayer, an adytum was discovered during the process of digging. In it were idols, and instruments formerly used in Pagan ceremonies, which were of a very strange and ludicrous appearance. The Christians caused them to be publicly exhibited, in order to humiliate the Pagans; but this affront was more than the Pagans could bear, and they rushed to attack the Christians, after arming themselves with swords, stones, and whatever weapon came first to hand. They slew many of the Christians, and, in derision of their religion, crucified others. This led to the abandonment of the work that had been commenced by the Christians, and to the murder of George by the Pagans, as soon as they had heard of the accession of Julian. This fact is admitted by Julian himself, which would not have been the case had it not been fully established; for he would rather have thrown the blame of the murder on the Christians than on the Pagans. He expressed great indignation, in a letter which he wrote on the subject to the inhabitants of Alexandria, and threatened to take vengeance on them: but he forgave them out of consideration to Serapis, their tutelary divinity, to Alexander their founder, and to Julian his uncle, formerly governor of Egypt and of the Alexandrians. This latter was so bigoted to Paganism, and so prejudiced against Christianity, that contrary to the wishes of the emperors, he persecuted the Christians unto death.








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