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E02293: Socrates, in his Ecclesiastical History, recounts that, in 362/3, the emperor Julian, failing to obtain an oracle from Apollo at his shrine in Daphne, near Antioch, ordered that the remains of *Babylas (bishop and martyr of Antioch, S00061) be removed from the site. Written in Greek at Constantinople, 439/446.

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posted on 2017-01-29, 00:00 authored by erizos
Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, 3.18

1. Τὰ γὰρ κατὰ τὴν Ἀντιόχειαν ἱερὰ {τῶν Ἑλλήνων} ἀνοιγῆναι κελεύσας χρησμὸν λαβεῖν παρὰ τοῦ ἐν Δάφνῃ Ἀπόλλωνος ἔσπευδεν. 2. Ὡς δὲ ὁ ἐνοικῶν τῷ ἱερῷ δαίμων τὸν γείτονα δεδοικώς (λέγω δὴ Βαβυλᾶν τὸν μάρτυρα) οὐκ ἀπεκρίνατο (πλησίον γὰρ ἦν ἡ σορὸς ἡ τὸ σῶμα τοῦ μάρτυρος κρύπτουσα), γνοὺς τὴν αἰτίαν ὁ βασιλεὺς τὴν σορὸν τάχος κελεύει μετοικίζεσθαι. 3. Τοῦτο μαθόντες οἱ κατὰ τὴν Ἀντιόχειαν Χριστιανοὶ ἅμα γυναιξὶν καὶ νέᾳ ἡλικίᾳ χαίροντες καὶ ψαλμῳδοῦντες ἀπὸ τῆς Δάφνης ἐπὶ τὴν πόλιν μετέφερον τὴν σορόν. 4. Αἱ δὲ ψαλμῳδίαι ἥπτοντο τῶν Ἑλληνικῶν θεῶν καὶ τῶν πεπιστευκότων αὐτοῖς τε καὶ τοῖς εἰδώλοις αὐτῶν.

'Having ordered that the pagan temples at Antioch should be opened, he [Julian] was very eager to obtain an oracle from Apollo of Daphne. But the demon dwelling the shrine gave no answer, out of fear for his neighbour – I mean Babylas the martyr, for the sarcophagus which contained the body of the martyr was close by. When the emperor was informed of the reason, he commanded that the sarcophagus be immediately removed. Having heard that, the Christians of Antioch, including women and youths, transported the sarcophagus from Daphne to the city, rejoicing and chanting psalms. The psalmody referred to the pagan gods, and those who put confidence in them and their images.'

Text: Hansen 1995. Translation: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Babylas, bishop and martyr in Antioch, and his companions, ob. late 3rd c. : S00061

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Constantinople Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Major author/Major anonymous work


Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - sarcophagus/coffin

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Destruction/hostile attempts to prevent veneration of relics

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family Pagans


Socrates ‘Scholasticus’ was born between 380 and 390 in Constantinople, where he probably spent his entire life. He was trained as a grammarian and rhetorician under the sophist Troilos of Side. From his work, Socrates emerges as a classically educated intellectual, and probably a member of the higher echelons of Constantinopolitan society. His only known work, the seven-volume Ecclesiastical History, was published between 439 and 446, very probably in 439/440. It covers the period from the accession of Constantine to 439, focusing on the Roman East and recounting the 4th century Christological disputes, the reign of Julian the Apostate, the conflicts that led to the deposition of John Chrysostom, and the beginnings of the Nestorian dispute. Socrates’ synthesis is defined by his loyalties to Nicene Orthodoxy, the Theodosian dynasty, and the Origenist tradition. He is markedly sympathetic to the Novatian community, of which he may have been a member, and is interested in recording information about several other sectarian Christian groups of his time. Although an Origenist, like John Chrysostom and his supporters, Socrates distances himself from the Johannite party. Socrates draws extensively on the Latin Ecclesiastical History of Rufinus of Aquileia for his account of the 4th century, which results in substantial overlaps between their works. In this database, we record only Socrates’ additions, and not the sections he reproduces from Rufinus. Alongside the recording of doctrinal disputes, successions of bishops, and victims of persecutions, Socrates was the first author to include a relatively systematic treatment of monasticism to the agenda of ecclesiastical historiography. It seems that he had access only to Greek and Latin sources, but not to the Syriac and other Aramaic hagiographies produced in this period in the East. The work of Socrates is the first of the three Orthodox ecclesiastical Histories published in Greek between 439 and 449. Within less than ten years of its publication, Socrates’ work was systematically reworked and expanded by Sozomen, and may have been known also to Theodoret of Cyrrhus. Socrates’ narrative overlaps extensively with both of these ecclesiastical histories. This boom in Greek ecclesiastical historiography may have been instigated by the publication in Constantinople of an Arian Ecclesiastical History by Philostorgius in 425/433, which survives in fragments.


Socrates’ account of the incident of Daphne is based on Rufinus and John Chrysostom. For a more extensive discussion of the incident of Daphne, see E00095 and E02671.


Text: Hansen, G.C., Sokrates, Kirchengeschichte (Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte NF 1; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1995). Translations: Zenos, A.C., "The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus," in: The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, vol. 2 (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1890), 1-178. Périchon, P., and Maraval, P., Socrate de Constantinople, Histoire ecclésiastique (Sources Chrétiennes 477, 493, 505, 506; Paris: Cerf), 2004-2007. Further reading: Bäbler, B., and Nesselrath, H.-G. (eds.). Die Welt des Sokrates von Konstantinopel: Studien zu Politik, Religion und Kultur im späten 4. und frühen 5. Jh. n. Chr. Zu Ehren von Christoph Schäublin (Munich: K.G. Saur, 2001). Chesnut, G.F., The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius (Atlanta: Mercer University, 1986). Leppin, H., Von Constantin dem Grossen zu Theodosius II. Das christliche Kaisertum bei den Kirchenhistorikern Socrates, Sozomenus und Theodoret (Hypomnemata 110; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht), 1996. Nuffelen, P. van, Un héritage de paix et de piété: Étude sur les histoires ecclésiastiques de Socrate et de Sozomène (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 142; Leuven: Peeters), 2004. Treadgold, W.T., The Early Byzantine Historians (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). Urbainczyk, T., Socrates of Constantinople: Historian of Church and State (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997). Wallraff, M., Der Kirchenhistoriker Sokrates: Untersuchungen zu Geschichtsdarstellung, Methode und Person (Forschungen zur Kirchen- und Dogmengeschichte 68; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1997). On Julian: Teitler, H.C., “Ammianus, Libanius, Chrysostomus, and the Martyrs of Antioch,” Vigiliae Christianae 67 (2013), 263-88. Teitler, H.C., The Last Pagan Emperor: Julian the Apostate and the War against Christianity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).

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