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Malchus

4. Of PHILADELPHIA. Among the writers from whom the Ἐκλογαὶ περὶ πρέσβεων, Excerpta de Legationibus, compiled by order of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, are taken, was Malchus the sophist (Μάλχος σοφιστής). According to Suidas and Eudocia (s. v. Μάλχος) Malchus was a Byzantine; but the statement of Photius that he was a native of Philadelphia, is preferable; and his Syriac name makes it probable that Philadelphia was the city so called (the ancient Rabbah) in the country of Ammonitis, east of the Jordan. Malchus probably followed his profession of rhetorician or sophist at Constantinople, and the statement that he was a native of that city may have arisen from that circumstance.


Works


History of Byzantium

According to Suidas and Eudocia, he wrote a history extending from the reign of Constantine to that of Anastasius; but the work in seven books, of which Photius has given an account (Bibl. cod. 78), and to which he gives the title Βυζανταϊκά, comprehended only the period from the final sickness of the Eastern emperor Leo I. (A. D. 473 or 474), to the death of Nepos, emperor of the West (A. D. 480). It has been supposed that this was an extract from the work mentioned by Suidas, or a mutilated copy: that it was incomplete is attested by Photitis himself, who says that the commencement of the first of the seven books showed that the author had already written some previous portions, and that the close of the seventh book showed his intention of carrying it further, if his life was spared. Some eminent critics, among whom is Valesius (Not. in Excerpt. de Legat.), have thought that the history of Malchus began with Leo's sickness, and that he was the continuator of Priscus, whose history is supposed to have left off at that point. Niebuhr (De Historicis, &c., prefixed to the Bonn edition of the Excerpta) supposed that this coincidence arose from Photius having met with a portion only of the work of Malchus, which had been inserted in some historical Catena after the work of Priscus; or that the history of the antecedent period had been given by Malchus in another work. As, however, Suidas and Eudocia speak of the history in its whole extent, as one work, we are rather disposed to think it was published in successive parts, as the author was able to finish it (a supposition which best coincides with the notice in Photius of the continuation being contingent on the longer duration of the author's life); and that Photius had met with only one part. Photius praises the style of Malchus as a perfect model of historical composition; pure, free from redundancy and consisting of well-selected words and phrases. He notices also his eminence as a rhetorician, and says that he was favourable to Christianity; a statement which has been thought, but we do not see why, inconsistent with the praises he has bestowed on the heathen philosopher and diviner, Panmprepius [ILLUS].


Other Works

The works of Malchus are lost, except the portions contained in the Excerpta of Constantine [CONSTANTINUS VII.], and some extracts in Suidas, which are collected and subjoined to the Bonn edition of the Excerpta.


Further Information

Photius, Suidas, Eudocia, ll. cc. ; Vossius, De Hist. Graecis, 2.21; Cave, Hist. Litt. ad ann. 496 ; Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. vii. p. 540; Niebuhr, l.c.

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