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London: Henry G. Bohn, York Street, Covent Garden. MDCCCLV.



ALL that is known with certainty of Philostorgius is that he was a native of Cappadocia, and was born of humble parentage about the year A. D. 364. It would seem came to Constantinople in his youth to complete his studies; but it is uncertain whether he was educated for the legal or for the ecclesiastical profession. In later life he composed a History of the Church, comprised in twelve books from the beginning of the Arian schism down to the year AD. 425.

The work itself is no longer extant; but we have an Epitome of it compiled by Photius, who was appointed to the Patriarchal see of Constantinople, A. D. 853, and under whom the schism between the Eastern and Western churches was formally consummated. We have also a short notice of this work in the Bibliotheca of the same learned writer ( Myriobiblion, Cod. 40). It is to be observed that Photius, although he was the author of the expulsion of the term "Filioque" from the Nicene Creed, inveighs throughout his Epitome against Philostorgius as a heretic and impious person, and as a friend and apologist of Arius, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Apollinaris, and other heretics of the fourth and fifth centuries.

Philostorgius would seem to have been a person possessed | p428 of a considerable amount of general information, and he has inserted in his narrative many curious geographical and other details about remote and unknown countries, and more especially about the interior of Asia and Africa. He was rather inclined to credulity, in regard to portents, monsters, prodigies, and other wonderful things, of which he gives accounts at considerable length; and Photius himself vehemently censures him for his absurdity in attributing miracles to those whom the patriarch himself regarded as heretics. He is quoted by Gibbon in the 18th, 19th, and 20th chapters of his Decline and Fall, not however without a caution against his Arian predilections and his partiality to the cause of Gallus.

The Epitome was translated into Latin, with comments by J. Gothofredus, and published in 4to at Geneva in 1642; as also by H. de Valois, under tile title of " Compendium Historiae Ecclesiasticae Philostorgii, quod dictavit Photius Patriarcha," Paris, 1673, with notes. It has also been translated into French, and published at Paris in 1676, under the title Abrege de l'Histoire de l'Eglise de Philostorge. It appears now for the first time in an English translation.


The following notice and short bibliography is taken from J. Quasten Patrology, vol. 3, pp.532-4:

Philostorgius was born about 368 at Borissus in Cappadocia Secunda but went at the age of twenty to Constantinople where he spent most of his life. Though a layman he became a follower and warm admirer of Eunomius (cf. above, p. 306).

While at Constantinople he published between 425 and 433 a Church History in twelve books covering the period 300-425 ostensibly a continuation of Eusebius but in reality a late apology for the extreme Arianism of Eunomius. Photius describes (Bibl. cod. 40) its size, content, style and tendency as follows:

Read the so-called Ecclesiastical History by Philostorgius the Arian, the spirit of which is different from that of nearly all other ecclesiastical historians. He extols all Arians, but abuses and insults all the orthodox, so that this work is not so much a history as a panegyric of the heretics, and nothing but a barefaced attack upon the orthodox. His style is elegant, his diction often poetical, though not to such an extent as to be tedious or disagreeable. His figurative use of words is very expressive and makes the work both pleasant and agreeable to read; sometimes, however, these figures are overbold and far-fetched, and create an impression of being frigid and ill-timed. The language is variously embellished even to excess, so that the reader imperceptibly finds himself involved in a disagreeable obscurity. In many instances the author introduces appropriate moral reflections of his own. He starts from the devotion of Arius to the heresy and its first beginnings, and ends with the recall of the impious Aetius. This Aetius was removed from his office by his brother heretics, since he outdid them in wickedness, as Philostorgius himself unwillingly confesses. He was recalled and welcomed by the impious Julian. The history, in one volume and six books, goes down to this period. The author is a liar and the narrative often fictitious. He chiefly extols Aetius and Eunomius for their learning, as having alone cleansed the doctrines of faith overlaid by time, therein showing himself a monstrous liar. He also praises Eusebius of Nicomedia (whom he calls the Great), Theophilus the Indian, and several others, for their lives and wonderful works. He severely attacks Acacius, bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, for his extreme severity and invincible craftiness, in which, he declares, Acacius surpassed all his fellow-heretics, however filled they were with hatred of one another, as well as those who held different religious opinions. This was the extent of our reading. Soon afterwards six other books were found in another volume, so that the whole appears to have filled twelve books. The initial letters of each book are so arranged that they form the name of the author. The work goes down to the time of Theodosius the Younger, when, after the death of Honorius, Theodosius handed over the throne of the West to his cousin Valentinian the Younger, the son of Constantius and Placidia. Notwithstanding his rage against the orthodox, Philostorgius does not venture to attack Gregory the Theologian [i.e. of Nazianzus], but unwillingly accepts his doctrines. His attempt to slander Basil the Great only had the effect of increasing his reputation. He was forced to admit the vigour and beauty of his sermons from actual knowledge, although he timidly calls Basil overbold and inexperienced in controversy, because he ventured to attack the writings of Eunomius (SPCK) .

Apart from this interesting report Photius published separately an Epitome, a series of excerpts culled from the twelve books. Since Philostorgius' work has perished, this Epitome serves as a skeleton for its reconstruction. It survives in a number of manuscripts whose archetype is Cod. Barocc. 142 s. XIV. Scattered fragments are also extant in the Passio Artemii composed by John of Rhodos in the ninth century, in Suidas and in a Vita Constantini found in Cod. Angelicus 22 and edited by Opitz; still others in the Thesaurus orthodoxae fidei by Nicetas Acominatus, and in two epigrams of the Anthologia Palatina. These remains show that Philostorgius used excellent sources no longer extant, especially documents of Arian origin, which furnish very valuable information for the history of this controversy and its chief personalities. For this reason the loss of the complete text is deplorable despite its bias and inaccuracy.

One of the fragments reveals that Philostorgius wrote earlier a Refutation of Porphyry and an Encomium on Eunomius of which we know nothing.

Editions: MG 65, 459-624. -- Crit. ed.: J. BIDEZ, Philostorgius Kirchengeschichte: GCS 21 (1913) 1-150; Anfang der Artemii Passio mit Philostorgius Angaben uber Artemius, ibid. 151-157. -- H. G. OPITZ, Die Vita Constantini des Cod. Ang. Gr. 22: Byz 9 (1934) 535-593 (contains the complete text of the Vita with the fragments of Philostorgius). -- New fragments: P. HESELER, Neues zur 'Vita Constantini' des Codex Angelicus 22: Byz 10 (1935) 399-402. --J. BIDEZ, Fragments nouveaux de Philostorge sur la vie de Constantin: Byz 10 (1935) 403-442.

Translation: English: E. WALFORD, The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen... also the Ecclesiastical History of Philostorgius as Epitomized by Photius. London, 1855.

Studies: P. BATIFFOL, Fragmente der Kirchengeschichte des Philostorgius: RQ. 3 (1889) 252-289; idem, Die Textuberlieferung der Kirchengeschichte des Philostorgius: RQ 4 (1890) 134-143; idem, Quaestiones Philostorgianae (thesis). Paris, 1891; idem, Un historiographe anonyme arien du IV e siecle: RQ9 (1895) 57-97 (a source of Philostorgius). -- L. JEEP, Zur Uberlieferung des Philostorgius (TU 17, 3b, 2). Leipzig, 1899. --J. R. ASMUS, Ein Beitrag zur Rekonstruktion der Kirchengeschichte des Philo-storgios: BZ 4 (1895) 30-44. -- J. BIDEZ, GCS 21 (1913) IX-CLXIII (important introductions on manuscripts, sources, life, education and purpose of Philostorgius). J. MARQUART, Die schwarzen Syrer des Philostorgios: ThLZ 38 (1913) 705-709. --G. FRITZ, DTC 12 (1935) 1495-1498.

I believe a new translation of Philostorgius into English is planned, which will include fragments discovered since 1855.

This page contains Walford's text, omitting the indexes to the book since these contain both Sozomen and Philostorgius. Greek text is rendered using the freeware SpIonic font. The footnotes have been moved to a separate page, and renumbered. However the original numbers have been preserved in the footnotes. The page numbers of Walford are indicated in the text.

Roger Pearse Ipswich, 2002.


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