AERIUS: Presbyter and director of the asylum for strangers, maimed, and incapable, in Sebaste in Pontus in the fourth century. He was one of the progressive men of the time who protested against the legalistic and hierarchic tendencies of the Church. Supporting his contention by the Scriptures, he objected to the inequality of presbyters and bishops, denied the value of prayers for the dead, and opposed strict ordinances concerning fasting, which he wished to leave more to individual judgment. About 360 he resigned his position. He had many followers, who constituted a party of "Aerians"; they were severely persecuted and soon disappeared. The only source is Epiphanius (Haer., lxxv.; cf. Gieseler, Church History, i., section 106, note 3), who treats him in a very partizan spirit.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. G1as, Monograph on the Heresy of Aerius, Perth. 1745; C. W. F. Walch, Historie der Ketzereien, iii., 321 sqq., Leipsic. 1766.