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E04020: Sozomen in his Ecclesiastical History refers to several monastic holy men who were active in Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and the West in the mid-fourth century. Written in Greek at Constantinople, 439/450.

online resource
posted on 2017-09-13, 00:00 authored by erizos
Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History, 3.14-16.

3.14. 1-20: Holy monks of Egypt: Makarios the Egyptian and Makarios the Alexandrian, the founders of Sketis; Pambo; Herakleides; Kronios; Paphnoutios; Poutoubastes; Arsisios; Serapion; Pityrion; Pachomios of the Tabennesiots; Apollonios; Anouf.

3.14. 28: Holy monks of Palestine: Hilarion, Aurelios of Anthedon, Alexion of Bethagathon, and Alaphion of Asalea ($S04018)

3.14. 29: Ioulianos of Edessa

3.14. 30: Daniel and Symeon in Syria/Mesopotamia

3.14. 31-37: Eustathios of Sebaste

3.14. 38-41: Martin of Tours (S01270)

3.15: Didymos the Blind

3.16: Ephraim the Syrian

Summary: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Hilarion, anachorite in Palestine and Cyprus (ob. 371) : S00099 Didymos the Blind, ascetic in Alexandria : S01370 Ephrem, poet and theologian in Edessa, ob. 373 : S01238 Martin, ascetic and bishop of Tours (Gaul), ob. 397 : S00050 Symeon, ascetic

Saint Name in Source

Ἰλαρίων Δίδυμος Έφραὶμ Μαρτῖνος Συμεὼν Ἀλεξίων Αὐρήλιος Ἀλαφίων

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 - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


Salamenios Hermeias Sozomenos (known in English as Sozomen) was born in the early 5th c. to a wealthy Christian family, perhaps of Arab origins, in the village of Bethelea near Gaza. He was educated at a local monastic school, studied law probably at Beirut, and settled in Constantinople where he pursued a career as a lawyer. Sozomen published his Ecclesiastical History between 439 and 450, perhaps around 445. It consists of nine books, the last of which is incomplete. In his dedication of the work, Sozomen states that he intended to cover the period from the conversion of Constantine to the seventeenth consulate of Theodosius II, that is, 312 to 439, but the narrative of the extant text breaks in about 425. The basis of Sozomen’s work is the Ecclesiastical History of Socrates, published a few years earlier, which our author revises and expands. Like Socrates, Sozomen was devoted to Nicene Orthodoxy and the Theodosian dynasty, but his work is marked by stronger hagiographical interests, a richer base of sources, and different sympathies/loyalties. Sozomen probably lacked the classical education of Socrates, but had a broader knowledge of hagiographical and monastic literature and traditions, which makes him a fuller source for the cult of saints. Besides Greek and Latin, Sozomen knew Aramaic, which allowed him to include information about ascetic communities, monastic founders, and martyrs from his native Palestine, Arabia, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia, to which Socrates had had no access. Much like the other ecclesiastical historians of the fourth and fifth centuries, Sozomen focuses on the East Roman Empire, only seldom referring to the West and Persia.


This is the first survey of major figures of the monastic movement summarised by Sozomen. The author groups together the stories of ascetics known to have been active in c. 350-370. Several of the figures are repeated in Sozomen's survey of holy men living under Valens (364-379) (E04151). The section is representative of Sozomen's broad access to hagiography in Greek, Latin and Syriac. Rufinus' version of the History of the Monks in Egypt (on which see E03558) and Palladius' Lausiac History (E03176) were probably Sozomen's main sources for the ascetics of Egypt, Ioulianos of Edessa, Didymos the Blind, and Ephraim the Syrian. The author is also aware of Ephraim's Syriac writings, which he praises very highly, including Ephraim's Life of Ioulianos of Edessa. In 3.16.3, Sozomen states that Basil of Caesarea praised Ephraim, which suggests that our author consulted a text ascribed to Basil. This could be the extant Greek encomium of Ephraim, ascribed by the manuscript tradition to Gregory of Nyssa (see E###). Sozomen also uses Jerome's Life of Hilarion (E00694), although he seems to be unaware of the Life of Paul. His awareness of the Life of Martin of Tours is the only known attestation of this text's presence in the Greek East during Late Antiquity (E01270). In 3.14.30, Sozomen makes a general statement about ascetics in the regions of Edessa, Amida, and Mount Gaugalion (location unknown), naming only a certain Symeon and one Daniel. These may include the figures whose stories were assembled together by Theodoret of Cyrrhus in the Religious History. Symeon may indeed be Theodoret's Symeon the Elder (E00422). It is possible that the author here records information he knew from oral traditions, to which we may include his reference to the three holy men of his native area of Gaza, Aurelios, Alexion, and Alaphion (E04018). Finally, Sozomen provides a lengthy account about Eustathios of Sebaste, whom he presents as the main figure of Anatolian monasticism, reporting that some people ascribed him with the Asketikon, known under the name of Basil of Caesarea. Since Eustathios was condemned and deposed with the rise of Theodosius I, it is possible that Sozomen's sources about him were heterodox ascetic communities in Anatolia.


Text: Bidez, J., and Hansen, G. C., Sozomenus. Kirchengeschichte. 2nd rev. ed. (Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte, Neue Folge 4; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1995). Translations: Grillet, B., Sabbah, G., Festugière A.-J. Sozomène, Histoire ecclésiastique. 4 vols. (Sources chrétiennes 306, 418, 495, 516; Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1983-2008): text, French translation, and introduction. Hansen, G.C. Sozomen, Historia ecclesiastica, Kirchengeschichte, 4 vols. (Fontes Christiani 73; Turnhout: Brepols, 2004): text, German translation, and introduction. Hartranft, C.D. “The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen, Comprising a History of the Church from AD 323 to AD 425." In A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Second Series, edited by P. Schaff and H. Wace (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1890), 179-427. Further reading: 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). Van Nuffelen, P., Un héritage de paix et de piété : Étude sur les histoires ecclésiastiques de Socrate et de Sozomène (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 142; Leuven: Peeters, 2004).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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