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E07163: The Greek Life of *Athanasius (bishop of Alexandria, ob. 373 S00294) recounts the broader context of ecclesiastical history during the episcopate of its hero. Probably written in the 6th century at Constantinople. The text is known only through a summary and excerpts in the 9th century Bibliotheca of Photius.

online resource
posted on 2018-12-13, 00:00 authored by erizos
Photius, Bibliotheca

258. Life of Athanasius of Alexandria (BHG 184)

Summary and excerpts from a Life of Athanasius of Alexandria. The text is a narrative of the broader context of ecclesiastical and political history between the reigns of Constantine and Valens.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Athanasios, bishop of Alexandria, ob. 373 : S00294

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives


  • 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 - bishops


The Bibliotheca or Myriobiblos (the "Ten Thousand Books") is a work of the 9th century scholar and Patriarch of Constantinople Photius (c. 810-893), composed of 279 reviews of books of Christian and pagan authors from the 5th century BC to the author’s own time in the 9th century AD. Almost half the books mentioned no longer survive.


The pre-Metaphrastic Life of Athanasius is only known to us through the summary and excerpts included by Photius in his Bibliotheca. It probably belongs to a group of hagiographic texts which were composed in Constantinople in the 6th century (Fusco 1996). These include the Lives of *Metrophanes and Alexandros of Constantinople (E07162) and *Paul the Confessor (E07002), the Martyrdom of *Markianos and Martyrios the Notaries (E06890), and the Life of *Isaakios (E06980). All these works are characterised by the poverty of their information about their heroes and their dependence on the 5th century ecclesiastical histories, especially Socrates. Consequently, they can be no earlier than the mid 5th century. Three (the Lives of Metrophanes and Alexandros, Paul the Confessor, and Athanasius) were read by Photius in the 9th century, and summarised in his Bibliotheca in three consecutive chapters (246, 247, 248), which suggests that he may have found them in the same volume.


Text: Henry, R., Photius. Bibliothèque, vol. 2 (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1960), with French translation. Canfora, L., Bianchi, N., and Schiano, C., Fozio, Biblioteca (Pisa: Edizioni della Normale, 2016), with Italian translation and commentary. Further reading: Fusco, R., La vita premetafrastica di Paolo il Confessore (BHG 1472a). Un vescovo di Costantinopoli tra storia e leggenda, (Roma, 1996).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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