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E04012: Socrates in his Ecclesiastical History refers to the stories of several holy monastics from Egypt, based on information from the History of the Monks in Egypt and the Lausiac History. He also reports that the Egyptian monk Ammonios (ascetic of Kellia, buried near Constantinople, ob. 403, S01263) visited the shrines of the Apostles *Peter and *Paul (S00036 and S00008) in Rome in 339/345. Written in Greek at Constantinople, 439/446.

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posted on 2017-09-12, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, 4.23

Socrates refers to the stories of: Amoun of Nitria, Didymos the Blind, Arsios (Probably Arsisios of Nitria, mentioned by Palladius in the Lausiac History), Pior, Isidoros, Pambo of Nitria, Arsenios, Piterous, Makarios the Egyptian and Makarios the Alexandrian, Evagrios of Pontus, and Ammonios of Kellia

4.23.72-73 … Ἐγένετο δὲ καὶ ἄλλος ἀνὴρ θαυμάσιος ἐν τοῖς μοναχοῖς, ᾧ ὄνομα Ἀμμώνιος, ὅστις οὕτως ἦν ἀπερίεργος, ὥστε ἐν τῇ Ῥώμῃ ἅμα Ἀθανασίῳ γενόμενος μηδὲν ἑλέσθαι ἱστορῆσαι τῶν ἔργων τῆς πόλεως, μόνον δὲ ἰδεῖν τὸ Πέτρου καὶ Παύλου μαρτύριον.

‘There was another excellent man among the monks, Ammonios by name, who was so free from curiosity that when he went to Rome with Athanasius, he sought to visit none of the masterpieces of that city, but was content just to see the shrine of Peter and Paul.’

Text: Hansen 1995. Summary and Translation: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Amun, monk in Nitria : S00419 Didymos the Blind, ascetic in Alexandria : S01370 Makarios the Egyptian, ascetic in Sketis, ob. 391 : S00863 Euagrios of Pontus, ascetic in Egypt, 345-399 : S01418 Ammonios of Kellia, ascetic, ob. 403 : S01263 Makar

Saint Name in Source

Ἀμοῦν Δίδυμος Μακάριος Εὐάγριος Ἀμμώνιος

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

Martyr shrine (martyrion, bet sāhedwātā, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting graves and shrines

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


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 comes from a chapter concerning monastic holy men in Egypt during the 4th century (4.23). Socrates names as his sources a book by Evagrius of Pontus, which most probably refers to the extant History of the Monks in Egypt (E03558), and a book by Palladius, which is certainly the Lausiac History (E03176). It is possible that the author consulted versions of these texts which differed from the ones known to us. The stories of the holy man Arsenios and the pilgrimage of Ammonios of Kellia to the tombs of Peter and Paul in Rome are not known from the extant versions of the two monastic collections. The story of Ammonios' pilgrimage could be a pious tale related to the fact that he was buried at the shrine of Peter and Paul near Chalcedon (see E02729).


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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