The Ancient Library

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Historia Ecclesiastica. His first design was to comprehend in this work the whole period from the ascension of Christ ; but considering that the earlier period, to the overthrow of Licinius by Con-stantine the Great, a. d. 323, had been already treated of by other writers, among whom he enu­merates Clemens (apparently meaning the Pseudo-Clemens, author of the Recognitiones or the Clemen­tina), Hegesippus, Africanus, and Eusebius, he contracted his plan so far as related to that period, and comprehended it in a separate work, a com­pendium in two books, which is now lost (ff. E. lib. i. 1). His longer history is in nine books, but is imperfect ; for though he proposed to bring it down to the seventeenth consulship of the younger Theo-dosius, a. d. 439, the year in which the history of Socrates ends (comp. Oratio ad Imp. Theodos. men­tioned just below), the work, as now extant, comes down only alittle later than the decease of the emperor Honorius, A. d. 423. Whether it was ever finished according to the author's design, or whether some portion of it has been lost, cannot now be ascertained. It breaks off at the end of a sentence, but in the middle of a chapter ; for, while the title of the last chapter promises an account of the discovery of the relics of the prophet Zacharias (or Zachariah) and of the Proto-Martyr Stephen, the chapter itself gives an account only of the former. The work was divided by the author into nine books, and has prefixed to it a dedication to the emperor Theodosius II., Aoyos irptis rov avroKpdropa ®eo-Soo'toi', Oratio ad Imperatorem TJieodosium. The first two books contain the events of -the reign of Constantine the Great; the first book ending with the Council of Nice, and the second beginning with the discovery of the cross of Christ, and the visit to Jerusalem of Helena, the emperor's mother. The next two books comprehend the reigns of the sons of Constantine ; the events which preceded the death of Constans being in the third book, and later events in the fourth. The revolt of Julian, the death of Constantius, and the greater part of the events of the reign of Julian, occupy the fifth book ; the invasion of Persia by Julian and the death of that emperor, and the reigns of Jovian, Valentinian, and Valens, are included in the sixth ; the reign of Theodosius the Great is given in the seventh, that of Arcadius in the eighth, and that of the younger Theodosius in the ninth, which last book, as already noticed, is imperfect. It mav be here observed that Fabricius denies that


the work is incomplete, urging that the discovery of the relics of the prophet Zacharias, which is the closing incident of the history, occurred, ac­cording to the authority of Marcellinus, in the seventeenth consulship of Theodosius II., A. d. 439, the year to which Sozomen proposed to bring down his history. Even were this statement accurate, the authority of Marcellinus could not be permitted to overbalance that of Sozomen himself, who distinctly places the discovery of the relics among the incidents of the minority of Theodosius, whereas Theodosius, in his seventeenth consulship, was nearly forty years of age. Marcellinus, how­ever, does not mention the finding of the relics either of the prophet Zacharias, which Sozomen has actually related, or of the proto-martyr Stephen, which Sozomen proposed to relate in his last extant chapter. What Marcellinus does mention as an in­cident of the seventeenth consulship of Theodosius, is the translation of the latter relics from Jeru-


salem to Constantinople, by the empress Etidocia, the wife of Theodosius (Marcellin. Chron.}. The discovery, or asserted discovery of the relics, was quite a different event, and took place in a. d. 415 [LuciANUS, No. 3], long before their removal.

Sozomen is admitted to excel Socrates in style. This was the judgment of Photius, which is con­firmed by later critics: but these contend for the superiority of Socrates in soundness of judgment. Valesius says, " In writing history, Sozomen adopted a style neither tame nor turgid, but of a medium character ; which style, indeed, is most suitable for a writer on ecclesiastical affairs. And indeed Photius, in his Bibliotlieca^ prefers the style of Sozomen to that of Socrates ; an opinion to which we readily subscribe. But Socrates excels Sozomen in judgment as much as he falls short of him in. elegance of diction ; for Socrates, indeed, judges exceedingly well, both of men and of eccle­siastical events and transactions ; nor does his history contain any thing except what is of gravity and importance : there is nothing that you can expunge as superfluous. On the other hand there are in Sozomen things of a trifling and puerile character ; such as the digression in the first book (c, 6) on the building of the city of Hemona, and on the Argonauts, who carried the ship Argo on their shoulders for several stadia ; also that de­scription of the suburb of Daphne (at Antioch) which is contained in the fifth book (c. 19) ; also that observation on beauty of person, when "speak­ing of the virgin in whose house Saint Athanasius was for some time concealed (lib. v. c. 6) ; and lastly, the ninth book contains scarcely any thing else than warlike incidents which have nothing in common with ecclesiastical history." But it may be observed, that however the last remark of Va­lesius may be intrinsically just, the very fault of which he complains (and the complaint will apply to other parts of the work as well as the ninth book, and, though in a less degree, to Socrates also) makes the work more valuable, as furnishing ma­terials for an interesting but obscure period of Roman history.

As Socrates and Sozomen were contemporaries, it has been a question which of them first published his history. As they commence at the same point, and profess to terminate at the same point (though the work of Sozomen, as we have observed, is in­complete), it is obvious that one borrowed at least his plan from the other ; and as they for the most part agree in their statements, it is probable that the later writer made considerable, though unacknow­ledged use of his predecessor's work. Valesius, on the ground that the inferior writer is likely to be the plagiarist, assigns the priority to Socrates ; and he is probably correct. The ancients, in naming the two, generally put Socrates first. So­zomen has given much which Socrates omits ; espe­cially he abounds in notices of anchorets and saints, of whom he seems to have been a great admirer. Why Sozomen, supposing him to be the later of the two writers, should have undertaken to write a second history of a period which had just been treated of by another, is not clear. There are no sharp criticisms or other indications of personal feeling ; and no marks of important theological difference. Possibly he may have thought Socrates had not sufficiently recorded the virtues of tho ascetics, and therefore published his own history with the view of honouring them.

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