In the fourth century, a group of Christians who followed the teachings of Arius, an Alexandrian presbyter, claimed that Christ was not truly divine but a created being. According to Arius, God alone is unique and self-existent: the Son is not. Although Arianism was condemned as heretical at the Council of Nicaea in 325, it continued to exert significant influence. Patriarch of Alexandria, St Athanasius (c.296–373) was among the most vigorous defenders of the orthodox view of the divinity of Christ. This 1873 publication presents the original Greek of four polemical orations directed against the Arian heretics. Also included is an account of Athanasius' life and a commentary on his work provided by William Bright (1824–1901), Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Oxford, who specialised in the history of the early church.