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E04006: Socrates in his Ecclesiastical History reports the transfer in 381/2 of the remains of *Paulos (bishop of Constantinople, ob. 350s, S01500) from Koukousos in Armenia to Constantinople, where they are buried at the former church of the Macedonianists. In the same period, the body of *Meletios (bishop of Antioch, ob. 381, S01192) is transferred from Constantinople to Antioch. Written in Greek at Constantinople, 439/446.

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posted on 2017-09-11, 00:00 authored by erizos
Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, 5.9.-5

1. Ἡ μὲν οὖν σύνοδος τοιοῦτον ἔσχε <τὸ> τέλος. Ὁ δὲ βασιλεὺς τὸ σῶμα Παύλου τοῦ ἐπισκόπου ἐκ τῆς Ἀγκύρας τότε μετέφερεν, ὃν Φίλιππος ὁ τῶν βασιλείων ἔπαρχος διὰ Μακεδόνιον εἰς ἐξορίαν πέμψας ἐν Κουκουσσῷ τῆς Ἀρμενίας ἀποπνιγῆναι πεποίηκεν, ὥς μοι καὶ πρότερον εἴρηται. 2. Σὺν τιμῇ οὖν καὶ σεβάσματι πολλῷ δεξάμενος εἰς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τὴν νῦν ἐξ αὐτοῦ χρηματίζουσαν ἀπέθετο, ἣν πρότερον οἱ τὰ Μακεδονίου φρονοῦντες κατέσχον τῶν Ἀρειανῶν χωρισθέντες, τότε δὲ ἐξωσθέντες ὑπὸ τοῦ βασιλέως, ὅτι αὐτοῦ τὴν πίστιν ἀπέφυγον. 3. Τότε δὲ καὶ Μελέτιος ὁ τῆς Ἀντιοχείας ἐπίσκοπος ἀρρωστίᾳ περιπεσὼν ἐτελεύτησεν, ὅτε καὶ τὸν ἐπικήδειον ἐπ’ αὐτῷ λόγον ὁ ἀδελφὸς Βασιλείου Γρηγόριος διεξῆλθεν. 4. Ἀλλὰ Μελετίου μὲν τὸ σῶμα οἱ προσήκοντες ἐπὶ τὴν Ἀντιόχειαν διεκόμισαν, πάλιν δὲ οἱ Μελετίῳ προσκείμενοι ὑπὸ Παυλῖνον εἶναι οὐκ ἤθελον, ἀλλ’ εἰς τόπον Μελετίου Φλαβιανὸν προβληθῆναι παρασκευάζουσιν, πάλιν τε ὁ λαὸς ἄνωθεν διεκρίνετο. 5. Οὕτως αὖθις διὰ τοὺς ἐπισκόπους, οὐ μὴν διὰ τὴν πίστιν ἡ Ἀντιοχέων ἐκκλησία διῄρητο.

‘Such was then the conclusion of the council. The emperor [Theodosius I] had the body of bishop Paulos brought from Ankyra at that time. The Prefect of the Palace Philippos had banished him, because of Macedonius, and he had him strangled at Koukousos of Armenia, as I have already mentioned. The emperor, then, received the body with great honour and reverence, and had it deposited at the church which is now known by Paulos’ name. This had been formerly occupied by the followers of Macedonius, following their separation from the Arians, but then they were ousted by the emperor, because they had rejected his faith. That was also the time when Meletios, the bishop of Antioch, fell sick and died, and Gregory, the brother of Basil, pronounced his funeral oration. Meletios’ associates conveyed his body to Antioch. Now, as his followers were still unwilling to be administered by Paulinos, they caused Flavianos to be elected in Meletios’ succession, and the congregation was once again divided. Thus the Church of Antioch church remained divided, not for doctrinal reasons, but because of the bishops.’

Text: Hansen 1995.
Translation: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Paulos, bishop of Constantinople and confessor, ob. c. 350. : S01500 Meletios, bishop of Antioch, ob. 381 : S01192

Saint Name in Source

Παῦλος Μελέτιος

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

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Appropriation of older cult sites

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Heretics Monarchs and their family

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Transfer, translation and deposition of relics Transfer/presence of relics from distant countries


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.


This passage refers to events in the immediate aftermath of the First Council of Constantinople in 381, marked by two transfers of corpses. The first was the transfer of Paulos to Constantinople. The Nicene cleric Paulos had been bishop of Constantinople intermittently from 337 to 350 when he was finally ousted by his Arian rival, Macedonius, and exiled to Koukousos where he died. Sozomen (4.2.2) expresses doubts as to whether Paulos died violently, recording the story of his strangulation as an uncertain rumour. Paulos was remembered by the Nicenes as the last Orthodox bishop of Constantinople, whose exile and death marked the seizure of the bishopric by the Arians (the three Arian bishops of Constantinople were Macedonius, Eudoxius, and Demophilus). The transfer of Paulos' remains to the capital was a gesture symbolising the return of Orthodoxy, and the restoration of the canonical episcopate. Paulos' body was deposited at the church where the followers of his foe, Macedonius, had been based. Socrates reports that this was the church where Macedonius had been consecrated bishop by the Arians in 342 (Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, 2.12), whereas Sozomen says that Macedonius had actually built the church (see E02282). Whatever the case, the building apparently remained under the control of Macedonius' followers (the Macedonianists were separated from the Arian community in the 360s or 370s) until it was seized by Theodosius I and consecrated to Paulos. From that point on, the church was known as Saint Paulos the Confessor (Ἅγιος Παῦλος ὁ ὁμολογητής). Sozomen reports that several people were under the impression that the church was dedicated to Paul the Apostle (see E02282). The location of this shrine is uncertain, although mentioned by several Byzantine sources. The Notitia Urbis Constantinopolitanae records it in the Seventh Region of the city (E07003). It must have been in the region, between the forum of Constantine and the Holy Apostles (see Janin 1969, 394-395). The transfer of Paulos from Anatolia to Constantinople was paralleled by the transfer of the body of Meletios, one of the protagonists of the Council of Constantinople, from the capital back to his see of Antioch. Sozomen reports that his body was conveyed in procession, being received with honours at every city inside the walls, contrary to the Roman customs (E02283). Meletios was buried at the shrine of the martyred bishop of Antioch Babylas, thus offering a statement of restoring the Orthodox episcopate at that city. Both cases are striking examples of the centrality of transfers of relics in the religious policy of Theodosius I.


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).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity