Athanasius, bp. of Ancyra
Athanasius (4), bp. of Ancyra in N. Galatia (A.D.
360–369). His father, who bore the same name, was a man of high family and great
learning, and had held important offices in the State (ἐθνῶν
καὶ πόλεων ἀρχὰς διευθύναντος); but was reputed harsh and unfatherly to his
children. This rumour, reaching St. Basil's ears, led him to write a friendly remonstrance,
and hence arose a correspondence of which one letter is preserved (Ep. 24).
The son Athanasius was raised to the see of Ancyra by the Arian Acacius of Caesarea,
through whose influence his predecessor Basilius had been deposed at a synod held
at Constantinople A.D. 360 (Soz. iv.
25; Philost. v. 1). But notwithstanding this inauspicious beginning, he gave unquestionable
proofs of his orthodoxy by taking an active part in the Synod of Tyana (A.D.
367), at which the Nicene symbol was accepted (Soz. vi. 12). By St. Basil he is
commended as "a bulwark of orthodoxy" (Ep. 25), and Gregory Nyssen praises
him as "valuing the truth above everything" (c. Eunom. i. ii. 292).
Owing to some misunderstanding, however, Athanasius had spoken in very severe terms
of St. Basil, misled, as Basil conjectures, by the fact that some heretical writings
had been fathered upon him; and the bp. of Caesarea sends an affectionate letter
of remonstrance (Ep. 25), in which he speaks of Athanasius in the highest
terms. At his death Basil writes a letter of condolence to the church of Ancyra,
on the loss of one who was truly "a pillar and foundation of the church" (Ep.
29). This seems to have happened A.D.
368 or 369 (see Garnier, Basil. Op. iii. p. lxxvii. seq.).