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Theo'phanes or Theo'phanes Isaacius

3. ISAURUS, also surnamed Isaacius 1, from his father's name, and also Confessor, or Confessor Imaginum, from his sufferings in the cause of image worship, but more celebrated now as the author of a Chronicon in continuation of that of Syncellus. lived during the second half of the eighth century of our era, and the first fifteen years of the ninth.

He was of noble birth, his parents being Isaacius, the praefect of the Aegeopelagitae, and Theodota. He was born in A. D. 858, and soon after, by the death of his father, he became a ward of the emperor Constantinus Copronymus. While quite a youth, he was compelled by Leo the patrician to marry his daughter; but, on the wedding-day, Theophanes and his wife agreed that the marriage should not be consummated; and, on the death of Leo, in A. D. 780, his daughter retired into a convent, and her husband Theophanes, who had in the meantime discharged various public offices, entered the monastery of Polychronium, near Singriana, in lesser Mysia. He soon left that place, and went to live in the island of Calonymus, where he converted his paternal estate into a monastery. After a residence of six years there, he returned to the neighbourhood of Singriana, where he purchased an estate, called by the simple name of Ager (῎αγρος), and founded another monastery, of which he made himself the abbot. In A. D. 787, he was summoned to the second Council of Nicaea, where he vehemently defended the worship of images. We have no further details of his life until A. D. 813. when he was required by Leo the Armenian to renounce the worship of images, and, upon his refusal, though he was extremely ill, and had been bed-ridden for five years, he was carried to Constantinople, and there, after a further period of resistance to the command of the emperor to renounce his principles, he was cast into prison, at the close of the year 815 or the beginning of 816 and, after two years' imprisonment, he was banished to the island of Samothrace, where he died, only twenty-three days from his arrival. His firmness was rewarded by his party, not only with the title of Confessor, but also with the honours of canonization.


Theophanes was the personal friend of Georgius Syncellus, by whose desire he continued the Chronicon, which was broken off by the death of Syncellus. The work of Theophanes, which is still extant, begins at the accession of Diocletian, A. D. 277, and embraces a period of 524 years, down to A. D. 811, that is, almost up to the very period when the career of Theophanes was ended by his imprisonment. It consists, like the Chronica of Eusebius and of Syncellus, of two parts, a history arranged according to years, and a chronological table, of which the former is very superior to the latter. We possess the original Greek, and an ancient Latin translation, badly executed, by Anastasius Bibliothecarius.


The Chronica has been published, with an improved Latin Version, and with the Notes of Goar and Combéfis, in the Parisian and Venetian Collections of the Byzantine writers, Paris, 1655, fol., Venet. 1729 fol., and in Niebuhr's Corpus Script. Hist. Byz Bonn. 2 vols. 8vo.

Further Information

Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. vii. pp. 459, foll.; Cave, Hist. Litt. s. a. 792, vol i. p. 641, ed. Basil.; Vossius, de Hist. Graec. p. 340, ed. Westermann ; Hankins, Byz. Rcr. Script. 1.11, pp. 200, foll.

1 * There appears to be no authority for calling him, as Vossius does, Georgius. The mistake probably arose from some accidental confusion of his name with that of Georgius Syncellus.

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