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§ 146. Simeon Metaphrastes.


I. Simeon Metaphrastes: Opera omnia, in Migne, Patrol. Gr. Tom. cxiv.-cxvi.

II. Panegyric by Psellus, in Migne, CXIV. col. 200–208; Leo Allatius: De Symeonum scriptis, in Migne, CXIV. col. 19–148; and the Preface to Migne’s ed. Cf. Du Pin, VIII. 3; Ceillier, XII. 814–819.


This voluminous author probably lived in Constantinople during the reigns of Leo the Philosopher (886–911) and Constantine Porphyrogenitus (911–959).928928    Cf. Gassin Herzog2IX. pp. 677-679. He was the Imperial Secretary, High Chancellor and Master of the Palace. When somewhat advanced in years he was sent by the Emperor Leo on a mission to the Cretan Arabs for the purpose, which was accomplished, of turning them from their proposed campaign against the Thessalonians. It was on this journey that he met on the island of Pharos, an anchorite, who suggested to him the writing of the lives of the saints and martyrs.

To this collection Simeon owes his fame.929929    It is found in Migne, and utilized in the great hagiographies of A. Lippomani (Paris, 1551-60, 8 vols. ), Surius (Cologne, 1570-79, 6 vols. ) and the Boltandists (1643-1875, 61 vols.). He apparently never carried out his original plan, which was to cover the year, for the genuine Lives of his now extant are nearly all of September (the first month of the Greek Church year), October, November and December. The remaining months have very few. But how many he wrote cannot be determined. Allatius credits him with only one hundred and twenty-two. MSS. attributed to him are found in the libraries of Munich, Venice, Florence, Madrid, Paris, London and elsewhere. The character of his work is sufficiently indicated by his epithet Simeon the Paraphraser, given to him because he turned “the ancient lives of the saints into another sort of a style than that wherein they were formerly written.”930930    Du Pin, in loco. He used old material in most cases, and sometimes he did no more than edit it, at other times he re-wrote it, with a view to make it more accurate or attractive. Some of the lives are, however, original compositions. His work is of very unequal value, and as his credulity led him to admit very doubtful matter, it must be used with caution. However, he deserves thanks for his diligence in rescuing from obscurity many now illustrious names.

Besides the Lives, nine Epistles, several sermons, orations, hymns, and a canonical epitome bear his name.931931    Migne, CXIV. col. 209-292. The Simeonis Chronicon is probably the work of a Simeon of the twelfth century.



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