3. Of EPIPHANEIA, known also as EVAGRIUS SCHOLASTICUS and EX-PRAEFECTUS. He was a native of Epiphaneia on the Orontes, in the province of Syria Secunda, as we gather from the title of his Ecclesiastical History, where he is called Ἐπιφανεύς
. (Comp. also his Hist. Eccles.
3.34.) Photius says (Biblioth. Cod.
29), according to the present text, that he was of a celebrated city (πόλεως δὲ ἐπιφανοῦς
) of Coele-Syria; but the text is probably corrupt. Nicephorus Callisti (Hist. Eccles.
1.1, 16.31) twice cites him as ὁ ἐπιφανής
, "the illustrious;" but this is probably an error, either in the transcription of Nicephorus or in that of his authorities.
The birth of Evagrius is fixed by data furnished in his own writings in or about A. D. 536. (Evagr. Hist. Eccles.
He was sent to school before or when he was four years old, for he was a schoolboy when he was taken by his parents to the neighbouring city of Apameia to see the exhibition of "the life-giving wood of the Cross," during the alarm caused by the capture of Antioch by Chosroes or Khosru I., king of Persia, A. D. 540. Two years afterwards (A. D. 542), he was near dying from a pestilential disorder which then first visited the Byzantine empire, and which continued at intervals for above half a century, if not more, to cause a fearful mortality. Evagrius gives a melancholy catalogue of his own subsequent losses through it.
It took off, at different times, his first wife, several of his children (especially a married daughter, who, with her child, died when the pestilence visited Antioch for the fourth time, A. D. 591 or 592, two years before Evagrius wrote his history), and many of his kindred and domestics. Evagrius was a "scholasticus" (advocate or pleader), and is often designated from his profession.
It is probable that he practised at Antioch, which, as the capital of the province of Syria, would offer an important field for his forensic exertions, and with which city his writings shew that he was familiar. (Comp. Hist. Eccles.
He appears to have been the legal adviser of Gregory, patriarch of Antioch; and some of his memorials, drawn up in the name of the patriarch, obtained the notice and approval of the emperor Tiberius, who gave Evagrius, not as some have understood, the quaestorship, but the rank of a quaestorian or ex-quaestor. (Evagr. Hist. Eccles.
6.24, where see the note of Valesius.) On the birth of Theodosius, son of the emperor Maurice (A. D. 584 or 585), Evagrius composed a piece, apparently a congratulatory address, which obtained a farther manifestation of imperial favour in the rank of ex-prefect (ἀπὸ ἐπάρχων
), which designation he bears in the title of his own work, and in Nicephorus. (Hist. Eccles.
He accompanied the Patriarch Gregory to a synod at Constantinople (A. D. 589), to the judgment of which the patriarch had appealed when accused of incest and adultery. On his return to Antioch, after the acquittal of Gregory, Evagrius (in October or November of the same year) married a second wife, a young maiden. His reputation and influence are evidenced by the fact that his marriage was celebrated by a general festival at the public expense; but the rejoicing was interrupted by a dreadful earthquake, in which, as some computed, 60,000 of the inhabitants perished.
This is the last incident in the life of Evagrius of which anything is known, except the death of his daughter, already noticed, and the completion of his history, in A. D. 593 or 594.
An Ecclesiastical History
An Ecclesiastical History
, which extends, besides some preliminary matter, from the third general council, that of Ephesus, A. D. 431, to the twelfth year of the reign of the Emperor Maurice, A. D. 593-4.
He modestly professes that he was not properly qualified for such a work (μὴ δεινὸς ἐγὼ τὰ τοιαῦτα
), but says he was induced to undertake it, as no one had yet attempted to continue the history of the Church regularly (κατ᾽ εἰρμόν
) from the time at which the histories of Sozomen and Theodoret close.
He has the reputation of being tolerably accurate. His credulity and love of the marvellous are characteristic of the period rather than of the individual. Photius describes his style as not unpleasant, though occasionally redundant; and (as we understand the passage) praises him as being more exact than the other ecclesiastical historians in the statement of opinions: ἐν δὲ τῇ τῶν δογμάτων ὀρθότητι ἀκριβὴς τῶν ἀλλῶν μᾶλλον ἱστορικῶν
. Some however interpret the passage as a commendation of the historian's orthodoxy. Nicephorus Callisti (Hist. Eccles.
1.1) notices, that Evagrius dwells much on secular affairs, and enumerates the writers from whom he derived his materials, namely Eustathius the Syrian, Zosimus, Priscus and Joannes, Procopius of Caesarea, Agathias, " and other writers of no mean character."
His history has been repeatedly published. The edition of Valesius (Henri de Valois) which comprehends the other early Greek Ecclesiastical Historians, has a valuable biographical preface, a Latin translation, and useful notes. It was reprinted with some additional " variorum" notes by Reading, 3 vols. fol. Camb. 1720.
Memorials, Letters, Decrees, Orations, and Disputations
A volume of Memorials, Letters, Decrees, Orations, and Disputations
, including the Memorials and the address which procured for Evagrius his rank of Quaestorian and Ex-praeftect.
This volume is mentioned in the Ecclesiastical History, but appears to be now lost.
Some pieces of little moment have been ascribed to Evagrius, but most or all of them incorrectly.
Evagrius, Hist. Eccles.
4.26, 29, 6.7, 8, 23, 24; Photius, Biblioth. Cod.
29; Nicephorus Callisti, Hist. Eccles.
1.1, 16.31; Fabric. Bibl. Graec.
vol. vii. p. 432.