On his second banishment from Alexandria, Athanasius came to Rome, and was recognized as a regular bishop by the synod held in 340.
The orthodox Nicene party, notably Athanasius himself, held communion with Paulinus only; twice, in 365 and 371 or 372, Meletius was exiled by decree of the Arian emperor Valens.
According to the testimony of Athanasius of Alexandria, the hermit Anthony decided that it should be held to be unlawful and impious to leave the bodies of the martyrs unburied (Vita Ant.
On the death of the bishop Mar Athanasius Matthew in 1877, litigation began as to his successor; it lasted ten years, and the decision (since reversed) was given against the party that held by the Nestorian connexion and the habitual autonomy of the Malabar church in favour of the supremacy of the Jacobite patriarch of Antioch.
All writers earlier than the 5th century are valuable, but particularly important are the following groups: (1) Greek writers in the West, especially Justin Martyr, Tatian, Marcion, Irenaeus and Hippolytus; (2) Latin writers in Italy, especially Novatian, the author of the de Rebaptismate and Ambrosiaster; (3) Latin writers in Africa, especially Tertullian and Cyprian; (4) Greek writers in Alexandria, especially Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Athanasius and Cyril; (5) Greek writers in the East, especially Methodius of Lycia and Eusebius of Caesarea; (6) Syriac writers, especially Aphraates and Ephraem; it is doubtful whether the Diatessaron of Tatian ought to be reckoned in this group or in (1).
A non-theological Athanasius contra mundum, he has the truest missionary spirit, an intense faith which would seek to move the mountains of apathy and active opposition.
Damasus, to whom they appealed for help, was unable to be of much service to them, the more so because that episcopal group, viewed askance by St Athanasius and his successor Peter, was incessantly combated at the papal court by the inveterate hatred of Alexandria.
It must be remembered that Nestorius was as orthodox at all events as Athanasius on the subject of the incarnation, and sincerely, even fanatically, held every article of the Nicene creed.
Further, Caesarius was in the habit of putting some words of a distinguished writer at the head of his compositions, which would account for the fact that the name of Athanasius was subsequently attached to the creed.
His biographers used to be perplexed by a letter purporting to be from Liberius, in the works of Hilary, in which he seems to write, in 352, that he had excommunicated Athanasius at the instance of the Oriental bishops; but the document is now held to be spurious.