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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Valens (2)

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the Roman emperor, the brother and Augustus of Valentinian I, is important to Church history as the last political representative of Arianism ins the East. He was nominated to the throne by Valentinian, March 28, 364, and assigned to the rule of the East. His first efforts were directed towards the securing of his rule against the pretensions of Procopius, whom the late emperor Julian had selected to become his successor. It is not certain that other than political motives were at work in this campaign, though Milmani, basing his remark on a fragment by Eunapius, says, in Gibbon, Decline and Fall, 3, 25, "It may be suspected that the heathen and philosophic party espoused the cause of Procopius" (but comp. Ammian. Marcell. 26:6-9). The next campaign of Valens was directed against the Goths, who had operated along the Danube in behalf of Procopius; but before entering on that undertaking, the emperor sought to conciliate the favor of Heaven by receiving Christian baptism; and as the rite was performed by Eudoxius, the Arian bishop of Constantinople, the event became decisive of the future course of the administration of Valens by identifying him with the Arian party and bringing him into direct conflict with the Catholic and semi Arian; sections of the Church and empire. The Gothic war was successfully completed, and was followed by a systematic, persecution of the orthodox and semi-orthodox party throughout the East. A special edict was issued against monks, and military bands were sent to traverse the wilderness in which they dwelt to compel them to enter the service of the State and contribute to its support. Orthodox bishops everywhere were exiled, and historians speak of many who were drowned or otherwise put to death. The persecution was most severe where the emperor was himself present; and as the operations of the Persian king compelled his presence at Antioch, that province became the scene of the most thorough and extensive persecution.

The most horrible incident of the persecution was the destruction of eighty presbyters who had been deputed to protest against the installment of the Arian Demophilus as the bishop of Constantinople, instead Of Evagrius, the choice of the Catholics, and. whom the praefect Methodius embarked in a vessel which he caused to be burned on the high seas. Curiously enough, the persecution resulted in the placing of Christian orthodoxy and heathen superstition under the same category of enemies to the emperor. The heathens had appealed to an oracle to obtain the name of the next emperor, when Valens discovered their action, and at once proceeded to enforce against them the edicts of the empire. His ragings were, however, brought to a close by the progress of events on the northern boundary of his State, where the migrating nations involved him in a war, which became fatal to himself and the country. His army suffered an unexampled defeat near Adrianople (Aug. 9, 379), and he was slain. During his reign of fifteen years he had done all he could to intensify the hatred of religious parties within the empire, and he now achieved the unenviable distinction of, being the first to show to foreign invaders the way into the heart of his country. The political history of his reign is, upon the whole, given with great thoroughness and fidelity by Ammian. Marcellinus and Zosimus, while the ecclesiastical may be gathered from the writings of Basil the Great and the two Gregories, Nyssa and Nazianzen. See also Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, 5, 33-39; Gibbon, ut sup.; Schlosser, Universal histor. Uebersicht, etc., 3, 2, 370; the ancient histories of the Church, Socrates, Sozomen, etc.; Smith, Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Biog. s.v.; and Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Valens (2)'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/v/valens-2.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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