Socrates Scholasticus

From Academic Kids

This article is about the Byzantine church historian. For the famous ancient Greek philosopher, see Socrates. For this page, we will sometimes refer to "Socrates Scholasticus" as merely "Socrates".

Socrates Scholasticus was a Greek Christian church historian; born at Constantinople c. 380.

Even in ancient times nothing seems to have been known of the life of Socrates except what was gathered from notices in his "Church History."

His birth and education are related in V., xxiv. 9; his teachers were the grammarian Helladius and Ammonius, who came to Constantinople from Alexandria, where they had been heathen priests (V., xvi. 9). A revolt, accompanied by an attack upon the heathen temples, had forced them to flee. This revolt is dated about 390.

That Socrates later profited by the teaching of the sophist Troilus, is not proven; no certainty exists as to his precise vocation, although it may be inferred from his work that he was a layman. On the title-page of his history, he is designated as a scholasticus (lawyer).

In later years Socrates traveled and visited among other places Paphlagonia and Cyprus (cf. Hist. eccl., I., xii. 8, II., xxxviii. 30).

His "Church History"

Socrates' work on church history was first edited in Greek by Robert Estienne, on the basis of Codex Regius 1443 (Paris, 1544); a translation into Latin by Johannes Christophorson (1612) is important for its various readings. The fundamental edition, however, was produced by Valesius (Paris, 1668), who used Codex Regius, a Codex Vaticanus, and a Codex Florentinus, and also employed the indirect tradition of Theodorus Lector (Codex Leonis Alladi).

The history covers the years 305-439, and was finished about 439, in any case during the lifetime of Emperor Theodosius I, i.e., before 450.

The purpose of the history is to give a continuation of the work of Eusebius of Caesarea (I., i.). It relates in simple language what the Church experienced from the days of Constantine to the writer's time.

Ecclesiastical dissensions occupy the foreground; for when the Church is at peace there is nothing for the church historian to relate (VII., xlviii. 7). The fact that, besides treating of the Church, the work also deals with Arianism and with political events is defended in the preface to book V.

Socrates seems to have owed the impulse to write his work to a certain Theodorus, who is alluded to in the proemium to book II as "a holy man of God" and seems therefore to have been a monk or one of the higher clergy.

English Translations

English translations of his writings can be found in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Scholasticus sr:Сократ Схоластик


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