SOZO'MENUS, HERMEIAS, SALAMANES, or SALAMINIUS
*Swzo/menos, (Phot. Bibl.
Cod. 30; comp. Sozomen, H. E.
lib. 6. c.32 : Ἑρμείας Σωζόμενος
, ὁ καὶ Σαλαμίνως
, Niceph. Callist. H. E.
lib. i. c. i.), with the additional epithet SCHOLASTICUS; usually called in English SOZOMEN; a Greek ecclesiastical historian of the fifth century.
He was probably a native of Bethelia or Bethel, a populous village in the territory of Gaza in Palestine. His grandfather was the first of his family who embraced the Christian religion, being influenced thereto by the wonderful recovery of Alaphion, a person of property in the same village, and a demoniac, who had been relieved by the prayers of the monk Hilarion, after he had resorted in vain to Jewish and Heathen exorcists.
The grandfather of Sozomen, with some of his kindred, fled from Bethelia during the reign of Julian, fearing the violence of the heathen multitude : but they appear to have returned; and the grandfather being a person of some education, and skilled in the exposition of the Scriptures, and especially in solving difficulties, was much esteemed by the Christians of Ascalon, Gaza, and the neighbouring parts (SOZOM. H. E.
lib. 5. c.15). That Sozomen was born and educated at Bethelia is inferred from his familiarity with the locality (ibid.), and from his intimacy, when quite young, with some persons of the family of Alaphion, who were the first to build churches and monasteries near Bethelia, and were pre-eminent in sanctity (ibid.); a description which, as Valesius notices, appears to identify them with the four brothers, Salamanes, Physcon, Malachion or Malchion, and Crispion, mentioned by him in another place (lib. 6. c.32). Valesius supposes Sozomen to have derived that great admiration of the monastic life which he shows in various parts of his work from his early intercourse with these monks ; and it was perhaps from the first-mentioned of them that he derived his own name of Salamanes.
That the early life of Sozomen was spent in the neighbourhood of Gaza, appears also from his familiar acquaintance with the deportment of Zeno, the aged bishop of Maiuma, the port of that city (lib. 7. c.28).
The statement of some writers that Sozomen was a native of Cyprus is an error, arising apparently from the corrupt form Σαλαμίνιος
, Salaminius, in which Nicephorus has given his name.
According to Valesius, whom Cave follows, Sozomen studied civil law at Berytus; but we have not been able to trace any reference to this circumstance in Sozomen's history : he practised at the bar at Constantinople, and was still engaged in his profession when he wrote his history (lib. 2. c.3). Of his subsequent life nothing appears to be known.
As he mentions, in the prefatory epistle to his history, an incident which probably occurred in A. D. 443, he must have survived that year; and Ceillier thinks that, from the manner in which he speaks of Proclus of Constantinople (lib. 9. c.2, ad fin., Πρόκλου ἐπιτροπεύοντος τὴν Κωνσταντινουπόλεως ἐκκλησίαν
, "in the episcopate of Proclus of Constantinople"), he must have written after the death of that prelate in A. D. 446 ; but we think the words do not necessarily lead to that conclusion.
The only work of Sozomen which has come down to our time is his Ἐκκλησιαστικὴ ἱστορια
, 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 Constantine 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 (H. E.
lib. 1.1). 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 Theodosius, 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 a little 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., Λόγος πρὸς τὸν αὐτοκράτορα Θεοδόσιον
, Oratio ad Imperatorem Theodosium.
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 may 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 Jerusalem to Constantinople, by the empress Eudocia, 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 Bibliotheca,
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 (100.6) 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 (100.19); also that observation on beauty of person, when speaking of the virgin in whose house Saint Athanasius was for some time concealed (lib. 5. 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 the ascetics, and therefore published his own history with the view of honouring them.
The work of Sozomen is one of those abridged and combined in the Historia Tripartita
of Cassiodorus. [CASSIODORUS
, EPIPHANIUS, No. 11
The Greek text of Sozomen appears to have been first published, with that of Socrates and the other Greek ecclesiastical historians, by Rob. Stephanus, fol. Paris, 1544
; and was again printed, with the Latin version of John Christopherson, bishop of Chichester, fol. Geneva, 1612. It was also included with the work of Socrates, in the edition of Valesius, both in its original publication and in its several reprints
; and in the edition of Reading
There are Latin versions by Musculus and Christopherson, which have been repeatedly printed with their versions of the other ecclesiastical historians [SOCRATES, SCHOLASTICUS].
The version of Christopherson extended only to the first six books of Sozomen ; the needful supplement of a version of the last three having been made by Petrus Suffridus. The abridged English version of the Greek ecclesiastical historians by Parker includes Sozomen
, as does also the French version of Cousin
, but not the English translation of Meredith Hanmer [SOCRATES SCHOLASTICUS].
Valesius, De Vitis et Scriptis Socratis et Sozomeni,
prefixed to his edition of their works; Vossius, De Historicis Graecis,
lib. 2. c.20; Fabric. Biblioth. Graec.
vol. vii. p. 427; Cave, Hist. Litt.
ad ann. 439, vol. i. p. 427, ed. Oxford, 1740-1743; Dupin, Nouv. Biblioth. des Auteurs Eccles.
vol. iv. or vol. iii. partie ii. p. 80, ed. Mons, 1691; Ceillier, Auteurs Sacrés,
vol. xiii. p. 689; Ittigius, De Bibliothecis Patrum,
passim; Watt, Bibliotheca Britannica; Lardner, Credibility,
part ii. vol. xi. p. 453; Waddington, History of the Church,
part ii. ch. vii. ad fin.)
Lambecius has confounded Hermeias Sozomen with Hermeias, the author of the Irrisio Gentilium Philosophorum
[HERMEIAS, No. 3], but there is no doubt that they are different persons. (Fabric. l.c.