The letter was an "imperial assault on voluntary Christianity." (155) Constantine berates the Novatians, Valentinians, Cataphrygians
, and the rest: You gather, he writes, "not only in public but also in houses of individuals or any private places" to pursue "superstitious folly." "Everything about you is contrary to the truth." Despite "a pretext of godliness" you "wound innocent and pure consciences with deadly blows ...
The first group of heretics in the list is the Cataphrygians
, founded by Montanus, a sect that included two prominent women named Prisca and Maximilla as prophetesses.
Eusebius records an edict addressed to "Novatians, Valentinians, Marcionites, Paulians, ye who are called Cataphrygians
and all ye who devise and support heresies by means of your private assemblies", in which Constantine denounced their teachings as a "tissue of falsehood and vanity,' a "disease", filled with "destructive and venomous errors" that smite healthy souls with fatal contagion.