2. JOSEPHUS HYMNOGRAPHUS (ὁ Ψ̓μνογράφος
), or MELODUS, or CANONUM SCRIPTOR (ὁ ποιήτης τῶν κανόνων
), or of SICILY.
This Josephus lived a little later than the preceding.
He was a Sicilian by birth, the son of Plotinus or Plutinus (Πλουτίνος
), and Agatha, persons apparently of some property, and of eminent piety. They were compelled, in consequence of the ravages of the Saracens in Sicily, to flee into the Peloponnesus; and Joseph, fearing lest their altered circumstances would interfere with his desire of leading a monastic life, left them, and, while yet a lad, repaired to Thessalonica, and became an inmate of the convent of Latomus, where he became eminent for his ascetic practices land for the fluency and gracefulness of his utterance ; " so that he easily," says his biographer, " threw the fabled sirens into the shade." Having been ordained presbyter, he accompanied to Constantinople Gregory of Decapolis, who there became one of the leaders of the " orthodox" party, in their struggle with the iconoclastic emperor, Leo the Armenian, which began in A. D. 814. From Constantinople Joseph repaired, at the desire of this Gregory, to Rome, to solicit the support of the pope; but falling into the hands of pirates, was by them carried away to Crete. Here he remained till the death of Leo the Armenian (A. D. 820), when he was, as his biographer asserts, miraculously delivered, and conveyed to Constantinople. On his return he found his friend and leader, Gregory, dead, and attached himself to another leader, John, on whose death he procured that his body and that of Gregory should be transferred to the deserted church of St. John Chrysostom, in connection with which he established a monastery. that was soon, by the attractiveness of his eloquence, filled with inmates.
After this he was, for his strenuous defence of image worship, banished to Chersonae, apparently by the emperor Theophilus, who reigned from A. D. 829 to 842 : but, on the death of the emperor, was recalled from exile by the empress Theodora, and obtained, through the favour of the patriarch Ignatius, the office of sceuophylax, or keeper of the sacred vessels in the great church of Constantinople. Joseph was equally acceptable to Ignatius and to his competitor and successor Photius [IGNATIUS, No. 3 ; PHOTIUS, No. 3].
He died at an advanced age, in A. D. 883.
The chronology of his life has been much perplexed by the interpolation of the notices of him in some MS. of the Greek Synaxaria,
by which interpolations the emperor Leo the Armenian [LEO V.], in whose reign Joseph attempted to go to Rome, has been confounded with Leo the Isaurian [LEO III.], who reigned nearly a century before.
Joseph is chiefly celebrated as a writer of Canones or Hymni,
of which several are extant in MS.
Confusion with composistions of Joseph of Thessalonica
There is some difficulty in distinguishing his compositions from those of Joseph of Thessalonica [No. 1].
His Canones in omnia Beatae Virginis Mariae festa, and his Theotocia, hymns in honour of the Virgin, scattered through the ecclesiastical books of the Greeks, were published, with a learned commentary, and a life of Joseph, translated from the Greek of Joannes or John the Deacon, by Ippolito Maracci, under the title of Mariale S. Josephi Hymnographi, 8vo. Rome, 1661.
A third Joesph, writer of hymns?
Some writers have supposed that there was a third Joseph, a writer of hymns, mentioned in the title of a MS. Typicon
at Rome, as of the Monastery of St. Nicolaus Casularum (τῶν κασούλων
: but there seems reason to think that this Joseph was the subject of the present article; and that the Monastery of St. Nicolaus was the one built by him, adjacent to the deserted Church of St. John Chrysostom.
The version of the life of Joseph in Maracci's 1661 edition was by Luigi Maracci of Lucca, the brother of Ippolito. Another Latin version of the same life but less exact, by the Jesuit Floritus, was published among the Vitae Sanctorum Siculoram of Octavius Cajetanus (Ottavio Gaetano), vol. ii. p. 43, fol. Palermo 1657
, and reprinted in the Acta Sanctorum (vid. infra).
Vita S. Josephi Hymnographi,
in the Acta Sanctorum, Aprilis,
a. d. iii. vol. i. p. 269, &c., with the Commentarius Praevius
of Papebroche, and Appendix,
p. xxxiv.; Fabricius, Biblioth. Graec.
vol. xi. p. 79, Menologium Graecorum,
jussu Basilii Imperatoris editum, a. d. iii. Aprilis, fol. Urbino, 1727.