Salaminius Hermias Sozomen
Part I.—The Life.
The name is an unusual and difficult one. It seems desirable to give preference to the order which Photius adopts, but to preserve the spelling in Nicephorus Callistus, and in the captions of the chief manuscripts, and therefore to call him Salaminius Hermias Sozomen. What the term Salaminius indicates, cannot yet be accurately determined. There are no data to show any official connection of Sozomen with Salamis opposite Athens, or Salamis (Constantia) in Cyprus; certainly there is no record of any naval service. In vi. 32, where he speaks of the greater lights of monasticism in Palestine, Hilarion, Hesychas, and Epiphanius, he remarks, “At the same period in the monasteries, Salamines, Phuscon, Malachion, Crispion, four brethren, were highly distinguished.” In the tart controversy between Epiphanius and the empress, the latter had said, “You have not power to revive the dead; otherwise your archdeacon would not have died.” Sozomen explains, “She alluded to Crispion, the archdeacon, who had died a short time previously; he was brother to Phuscon and Salamanus, monks whom I had occasion to mention when detailing the history of events under the reign of Valens” (viii. 15). The readings in the first citation fluctuate between the forms Salamines and Salamanes. Since these monks were of the family of Alaphion, intimate friends and neighbors of the grandfather of Sozomen (v. 15), it might be conjectured that Salamines stood in some relationship with Sozomen, such as sponsor or teacher, and that the cognomen might have its origin from such a connection. It seems strange in such a case that he would not have dwelt upon the bond, or at least have emphasized the life of this particular brother by a special note; but he simply avers, “Some good men belonging to this family have flourished even in our own days; and in my youth I saw some of them, but they were then very aged.” Nor in the other passages (vi. 32, viii. 15) is there any hint of intimacy. At the same time, this seems as yet the most warranted explanation of the epithet. Hermias was quite a common name even among Christians. It was originally connected with the household or local worship of Hermes, as the giver of an unexpected gift, or it may be as the utterance of a parental wish for the future success of the newcomer. Although it contained a heathen reminiscence, it was probably conferred in this case because it was ancestral. The name Sozomen itself is documentarily a very unusual one; and was probably bestowed upon the child by the father as a devout recognition of deliverance for himself and his boy, and in contrast with the family surname. A certain præfectus domestico, to whom Isidore of Pelusium addresses a letter (i. 300), was also so called; he must have been a cotemporary. It would be a pleasant surprise could he be identified with the historian; and it would not be at all impossible, for Evagrius, the advocate and historian, was so promoted (H. E. vi. 24). The biographical hints in Sozomens surviving work are of the smallest; and outside tradition has preserved absolutely nothing. His ancestors were apparently from early times inhabitants of the village of Bethelia, in the territory of Gaza, p. 192 and near to that important city. By race, they were probably of Philistine rather than Jewish descent; for they were pagans (Hellenists) up to the time of Hilarion, in the second quarter of the fourth century, and our historian contrasts them with the Hebrews. The family was one of distinction, belonging to a sort of village patricianate. That of Alaphion was of still greater dignity. The village of Bethelia was populous with a mixture of Gentiles and Jews; the former, however, largely predominating. Its name appears to have been derived from the Pantheon, erected on an artificial acropolis, and so overlooking the whole community, whose universalistic religious zeal was thus symbolized. The term Bethel was first given to the temple, and then was transferred to the town as Bethelia; and the use of such a form indicates that the prevailing dialect was a variation of Syriac or Aramaic. It is also spelled Bethelea (vi. 32). Hilarion was born in Thabatha, another village near Gaza, to the south, on a wady of the same name. He became a student in Alexandria, but adopted the monastic discipline, through the example of Antony; on returning to his home, he found his parents dead. He distributed his share of the patrimony to his family and the poor, and then withdrew to a desert by the sea, twenty stadia from his native village, and began his career of monastic activity as the founder of that ethical system in Palestine. Before his flight to other and distant seclusions, he came in contact with Alaphion, the head of a noble family in Bethelia, seemingly on very friendly footing with Sozomens grandfather. Alaphion was possessed of a demon; neither pagan formularies nor Jewish exorcists could relieve him; Hilarion had but to invoke the name of Christ, and the malignant agent was expelled. 1043 The healed man became at once a Christian; the grandfather of Sozomen was won to the same profession by the care of his friend. The father, too, adopted the new faith; many other relatives joined the ranks of the believers, in this intensely pagan community and region; for Gaza, as the chief city, displayed a decided hostility to the Gospel. The grandfather was a man of native intelligence, and had moderate cultivation in general studies, and was not without some knowledge of arithmetic. His earlier social and intellectual position made him at once prominent among the converts, especially as an interpreter of the Scriptures. He won the affections of the Christians in Ascalon and Gaza and their outlying regions. In the estimation of his grandson, he was a necessary figure in the religious life of the Christian communities, and people carried doubtful points of holy writ to him for solution; yet it does not appear that he held any clerical function.
While the ancestor of Sozomen was conspicuous as the religious teacher of Southwestern Palestine, the old Philistine region, Alaphion and his family were distinguished for works of a practical quality: they founded churches and monasteries; they were active in the relief of strangers and the poor; some adopted the new philosophy; and out of their ranks came martyrs and bishops. Sozomen says nothing of his father, excepting that he was originally a pagan, and therefore born before Hilarions mission. The edicts of Julian caused a sudden revival of the old state religion, and led to many local persecutions, where the pagans were the stronger party: Gaza and its dependencies were of this number, and some of the tragedies of that unhappy time are recorded by our historian. The families of Alaphion and of Sozomen were compelled to flee, to what place is not told us; probably the southernmost monastic retreats: the exiles certainly returned (v. 15), not unlikely after the accession of Jovian. We can only guess at the date of Sozomens birth, and somewhat in this wise. Hilarions activity in Palestine was after the council of Nice, and before the accession of Julian; we may say about a.d. 345. The grandfather at his conversion may have been about forty, since he had become a conspicuous local figure; the father, in all likelihood, was but a lad when this change came over the domestic worship. The exile under Julian took place very nearly in 362, and the return in 364, when the patrician of Bethelia was verging on sixty, and the lad had become a young man. We may place the date of Sozomens birth somewhere between 370 and 380. Hilarion passed away about 371: Ephraim Syrus, in 378; Gratian was emperor of the West; Theodosius the Great was just about to succeed p. 193 Valens in the East. Ambrose was the most imposing ecclesiastic of the Occident; Gregory Nazianzen and Epiphanius were the leaders of orthodoxy in the Orient.
There are but few details concerning his education. That it was directed by the monks is sure; in fact, the only form of Christian life known in that region was of the ascetic type; the very bishops and clerical functionaries were selected from the ranks of the practical philosophers. There was a succession of pious men in the line of Alaphion, and with the elders of the second generation, Sozomen, as a youth, was more or less acquainted. The names of some of them have already been mentioned: 1044 all had been pupils of Hilarion. The fourth of the brothers, Melachion by name, must have already passed away, and legends had speedily transfigured his memory. The influence of Epiphanius throughout Palestine, and particularly in its southern slopes and shepheloth, was dominant in shaping the quality of devotional thought and feeling: its force was scarcely spent when Sozomen was a boy.
This accounts for the exaggerated value he puts upon the monastic discipline as the true philosophy, and why he desires not to appear ungrateful to its cultivators, in the writing of his history; for he purposes to keep in mind that tremendous movement, and to commemorate its eminent leaders under different reigns; in fact, he decides to make it a feature of his treatment of church life and history. There is no warrant, however, for stating that he himself became a monk. With all his admiration for their spiritual superiority, he does not lay claim to any direct fellowship, but rather denies his right or competency to invade their domain. We may be sure that he received the ordinary education imparted in the monastic schools of the time, approximating that of similar institutions near Alexandria. In a degree it was narrow, and growingly hostile to pagan literature; moreover, it was apt to be provincial, if patriotic in its tone. This will account for his desire to elevate the importance of Palestine over against the supercilious tendency which centralized all culture in Constantinople. The main body of his studies was conducted in the Greek language, of which he is no slight master; indeed, he became one of the best imitative stylists of his time, according to so good a judge as Photius. His familiarity with the Syriac and Aramaic names, the exactness of their transliteration, and his larger acquaintance with the history of the Syrian church, point to a likely knowledge of at least a dialect of that widely diffused speech; indeed, he could hardly have escaped the patois, which seems to have predominated over the Greek in Bethelia. In iii. 16, he allows for the loss of force and original grace in every translation, but states that in Ephraims works, the Greek rendition made in Ephraims own day, suffered nothing by the change, and he institutes such a comparison between the original and its version, that one is inclined to think he could read both. So his effort to keep a balance in writing between the central and border lands of the empire, and indeed outside of it, would indicate a broader linguistic sympathy. In vi. 34, he speaks familiarly of Syrian monks, who had survived to his own period; the wider range of his knowledge may have been due also to the practice of his profession, or to Syrian cases brought to Constantinople, each of which would involve a comprehension of the language; nor less his use of the records written by the Christians of Persia, Syria, and particularly Edessa, to preserve the story of the Persian church and its many martyrs, whose material he used so copiously (ii. 9–14). It is difficult to be sure of his proficiency in Latin; on the one hand, as an advocate it would be absolutely necessary for him to understand that language of jurisprudence; for all edicts, laws, rescripts, were written therein: the Theodosian code itself was so compiled in his own day. On the other hand, where he quotes Latin documents, he invariably does it from translations into Greek made by other hands; thus in iii. 2, of Constantines letter to the Alexandrians, he says, “I have met with a copy translated from the Latin into the Greek; I shall insert it precisely as I find it.” So in iv. 18, the letter of the Synod of Ariminum to Constantius; and in viii. 26, the two epistles of Innocent. Probably his second-hand report about Hilary of Pictavium, v. 13, p. 194 leans the same way. But on the whole we must allow his profession, which necessitated a knowledge of the law language, to outweigh the lack of original versions in his book.
It is difficult to judge from a solitary work what the degree of an authors general culture is. Clemens Alexandrinus has multitudinous quotations; it would be easy to conclude that he was a scholar of universal reading, and a genuine polyhistor; but their inaccuracy and frequent infelicity make them rather appear as the excerpts from some florilegium or some rhetorical hand-book. The classical allusions in Sozomen are not very many; and he might well have considered it out of place to indulge in overmuch reference in such a record as he presents; the quality of what appears would not compel a wide range of reading; the dedication is most fertile in familiar illustrations, poetical, historical, and mythological. In i. 6, because of his mentioning Aquilis, he drags the Argonauts in by the ears, hardly from Pisander, but rather from Zosimus, who does the same in mentioning the progress of Alaric. 1045 When he describes Constantines tentative search for a favorable site on which to rear his new capital, the mention of the plain of Ilium moves the historian to relate a little tradition about the Trojan town (ii. 3). He mentions Aristotle, in whose philosophy Aëtius was versed (iii. 15); and to whose dialectic work Theophronius composed an introduction (vii. 17). When he dwells on the imitative literature produced by Apolinarius, he alludes indirectly to the Homeric poems, and mentions outright his writing “comedies in imitation of Menander, tragedies resembling those of Euripides, and odes on the model of Pindar” (v. 18). In narrating the history of Daphne under Julian (v. 19), he gives the myth of Apollo and Daphne. Such hints and others are no proof or disproof of any extensive reading, and yet the way in which he alludes to some is more after a cyclopædic fashion than any profound study of the authors themselves. In fact, his confession in the instance of the Apollo and Daphne myth is naive, “I leave this subject to those who are more accurately acquainted with mythology.” This acknowledgment is not born of any puritanic hesitancy,—for he had ventured into the sensual bog a little way already,—but is rather a genuine declaration of his ignorance, and that in the capital where Anthemius and Synesius were authorities. Probably we have a little light in the limitations and illiberality of his early training, by recalling his attitude toward the imitative writings of Apolinarius, which sprang up to countervail the Julian edict, which the Christians interpreted as a prohibition to their enjoyment of the Hellenic culture. While Socrates whole-souledly and forcibly advocates the humanizing effect of the ancient literature (iii. 16), Sozomen says, “Were it not for the extreme partiality with which the productions of antiquity are regarded, I doubt not but that the writings of Apolinarius would be held in as much estimation as those of the ancients,” and he rather sides with the monks in their contempt for classic studies (i. 12). He does not wholly commit himself; he is a bit hesitant,—a characteristic of his make-up. This was an absorbing question in that and previous days, as it has continued to agitate the church, more or less, until our own time. In his time the influence of the monks and the clergy, who were pervaded with the ascetic spirit, was more and more against the humanities; the court fluctuated, while the training of the Valentinian and Theodosian succession had been decidedly monastic, and its sympathies were mainly with the intolerant tendency, the necessities of their position, and the splendid and overshadowing political abilities of men like Libanius, Themistius, Anthemius, Troïlus, could not be set aside. Some of them, too, had proved themselves to be the saviours and uplifters of the state. The learning and grace of Eudocia, the empress, the spirit of her early training as the daughter of an Athenian philosopher, and her own poetic gifts, were persuasive agents in sustaining a classical survival among the Christians at the court, before she fell under the blight of her husbands jealousy. Cyrus, the restorer of Constantinople, filled his verses with the same antique flavor. The clergy, whose preliminary training had been in the schools of the sophists, or at the Universities, could not wholly bury their sympathy, although they went through casuistic struggles such as that of p. 195 Jerome. The Arians, too, were frequently of a larger culture, and on the Germanic side, of signal military skill and political sagacity, whose services the state could not dispense with. The University which even the monastically drilled Theodosius the Younger organized in Constantinople, while seeking to give a Christian tone to the higher education, previously controlled by Athens, made very liberal provision for the languages, if not so much for philosophy. Sozomen, as we see, inclined to a less generous view, and thought Apolinarius had such a universal genius, that his numerous originals might be dispensed with; Homer, Menander, Euripides, Pindar, but for an affectation, need not have been missed. This shows the thin quality of his reading, if not the restricted quantity of it, and lays bare the impotence of his critical faculty. These limitations were doubtless due in large measure to the shrunken ideals of his Palestinian education: it savored of Epiphanius temper and impress.
His education on the religious side was in the Nicene faith as professed by the Catholic Church in the East, to which the monks remained, not always thoughtfully faithful, in all that stormy period. As Sozomen says, the people were unable to follow the refinements of theological discussion, and took their cue from those whose lives seemed better than that of the ordinary clergy. He had, however, no close drill in the arguments pro and con, judging from his own declarations of inability to follow the various aspects of Arian discussion. After citing the letter of Gregory Nazianzen to Nectarius, in which the distinctive features of the heresy of Apolinarius are given, he supplements: “What I have said, may, I think, suffice to show the nature of the sentiments maintained by Apolinarius and Eunomius. If any one desire more detailed information, I can only refer him to the works on the subject, written either by them or by others, concerning these men. I do not profess easily to understand or to expound these matters” (ἐπεὶ ἐμοὶ οὔτε συνιέναι τὰ τοιαῦτα, οὔτε μεταφράζειν εὐπετές, vi. 27). And when he enumerates the causes of rupture among the Eunomians, “I should be prolix were I to enter into further particulars; and indeed the subject would be by no means an easy one to me, since I have no such dialectic skill” (ἐπεὶ μηδὲ ἐμπείρως ἔχω τῶν τοιούτων διαλέξεων, vii. 17). It would seem, then, that his logical training had not been of a very deep quality, and yet it must be said that such definitions and arguments as he does state in the history of controversy are orderly and lucid. Metaphysics also seems to have had no large place in his earlier studies; but he certainly did become familiar with its later theological terms and distinctions, and he draws a clear line between the various contestants who warred for and against consubstantiality. His reading also covered some philosophical speculations, as one gathers from a sentence in v. 6, “For it is not true, as some assert, that as is the body, so is the soul.” He probably also early learned to distinguish between ontology and ethics, by the practical lines drawn between the clerical disputant and the monastic philosopher. A sentence in his history of Meletius, bishop of Antioch (iv. 28), emphasizes this difference as we seldom find it in early Christian literature: “In his first discourse he confines himself to instructing the people in what we call ethics (τοὺς καλουμένους ἠθικοὺς λόγους), and then openly declared the Son to be of the same substance as the Father.”
His spirit was taught to enslave itself with legalistic fetters, and where he does rise above them, it is with trembling misgivings; he had a side for larger things, like Socrates, due probably to his profession, but he was afraid to venture quite so far, and yet he is magnanimous as compared with the better educated and clerical Theodoret.
To those early school years we must also attribute his statement, that he was a witness to the fidelity of Zeno, bishop of Majuma, the seaport of Gaza. “It is said, and I myself am witness of the truth of the assertion, that when he was bishop of the church in Majuma, he was never absent at morning or evening hymns, or any other worship of God, unless attacked by some malady; and yet he was at this period an old man, being nearly a hundred years of age” (vii. 28). The patriarchs self-support and industry were in like manner the object of his youthful admiration. The struggle of the bishop of Gaza to assert his jurisdiction over Majuma, the seaport which had its own episcopate, and desired to retain its ecclesiastical autonomy, after it p. 196 had lost its civil independence, Sozomen speaks of as happening in his day, and was one of the news of his youth; and one catches in his statement an inner satisfaction with the decision of the council which recognized the freedom of the Christian community by the sea (v. 3). In connection with public worship, he had very likely heard in those earlier days the reading of the Apocalypse of Peter. He says in vii. 19, “Thus the book entitled the Apocalypse of Peter, which was considered altogether spurious by the ancients, is still read in some of the churches of Palestine, on the day of preparation, when the people observe a fast in memory of the passion of the Saviour.” And a favorite book he saw in the hands of the monks of his native land, was the Apocalypse of Paul, “although unrecognized by the ancients” (vii. 19). A familiarity with such books gives a key to his later attitude toward prophecy.
There is no evidence as to what persuaded him to study law, nor do we know when he was enrolled as a student. The fact that he mentions the school of Berytus as the place where Bishop Triphyllius had prosecuted jurisprudence for so long a while (i. 11) can hardly be taken as a suggestion of Sozomens own residence there. It would have been more likely for him to have attended lectures at the University of Alexandria or Antioch, with which cities he shows a considerable acquaintance. His studies were probably based on the Codex Gregorianus, with its supplement, the Codex Hermogenianus; for it was in his own day, and during the writing of his history, that the Codex Theodosianus was begun, and one is sorry to miss his name from the list of its compilers; and it was not until a.d. 439, that it was proclaimed as the text-book of imperial law. That he was admitted to the practice of that profession, we have direct evidence, as in the case of Evagrius, (H. E. vi. 7) while as to Socrates, it is simply an uncertified tradition. Sozomen speaks of his afflicted friend Aquilinus (ii. 3), “who is even at the present time residing with us, and is an advocate in the same courts of justice as that to which we belong.” From the tenor of the legal notices in his history it is likely that he practiced in the episcopal courts as well; for these had assumed form, and the function of an advocate is regulated in several synodical canons. He is more careful and systematic in stating the course of important legislation with regard to religion and the Church, than any other historian. Thus under Constantine, i. 3, 5, 8, 9, 21, 23, ii. 32; under Constantius, iii. 17, iv. 15; under Julian, v. 5, 15, 17; under Jovian, vi. 3; Valens, vi. 12, 19; Gratian, vii. 1; Gratian and Theodosius, vii. 4; under Theodosius, vii. 9, 12, 16, 20, 25, viii. 4; Valentinian, ii. (Justina), vii. 13; Arcadius, viii. 7, 24. There is no instance of his own practice such as Evagrius gives (H. E. vi. 7).
We can only guess at the time of his settlement in Constantinople. One would judge from his narrative, that he was not there during the riots excited by the deposition of Chrysostom, a.d. 404. He may have arrived a little after the elevation of Atticus to the see, as successor to Arsacius, who had followed John, somewhere about 406, a year before the death of the orator, and two years before the decease of the Emperor Arcadius. Under the sage Anthemius, he was finding his way in his profession. Under Pulcheria, one is inclined to suppose that he obtained some recognition. The capital thereafter remained the center of his practice, and he appears to be still in connection with the dikasteries while he is writing the second book of his history (ii. 3). There are a few personal points in his life at the imperial city which he hints at. Thirty five stadia overland from the city, toward the Pontus, was Hestiæ; owing to an appearance of the Archangel Michael, a temple was built there, and, as a consequence, called Michaelium. It became noted for its curative properties, both for physical and mental disorders. Sozomen himself had been afflicted, how, he does not tell us,—whether by reverses, or dangers, or disease, or other suffering,—but he resorted thither and testifies to the benefit he received (ii. 3). There is another personal incident which he records in ix. 2. He was a spectator of the splendid ceremonials connected with the discovery and transfer of the remains of the Forty Martyrs: he saw the costly caskets, the festival, and the procession; he heard the music of the commemorative odes, and beheld the deposit of the relics by the body of St. Thyrsus. A number of other spectators whom he knew were there, the greater part of whom were living at the writing of his record. p. 197 This celebration took place much later, under the episcopate of Proclus; therefore after the year 434. A final personal hint is given in his statements of the overthrow of Uldis. Concerning the remnant of the Sciri, who as a result of that campaign were scattered as slaves over Asia Minor, he remarks, “I have seen many in Bithynia, near Mt. Olympus, living apart from one another, and cultivating the hills and valleys of that region” (ix. 5). As to the nature of this tour, we know nothing. He must have been active in many of the later ecclesiastical and secular matters which he narrates, for the first endeavor of his history is to mention the affairs in which he was concerned (μεμνήσομαι δὲ πραγμάτων οἷς παρέτυχον, i. I). We can only deplore that he makes no sign, in the unfolding story, possibly some might have been indicated had he completed his ninth book.
The influential circles of the Eastern and Western capital were divided into parties on a variety of themes. One such, on the lines of culture, we have already considered. A second and very decisive one, was the question whether the foreigners, especially the Goths and the Persians, should be admitted into the service of the state. The stronger body believed in the use and incorporation of these new elements. What before was a variable matter, became a fixed policy under Theodosius the Great, and in all directions. His weak sons were controlled by both factions alternately. Anthemius, Pulcheria, and Theodosius II. adhered in the main to the liberal view. Yet the presence of a cry, Rome for the Romans, could overthrow such a man as Stilicho, and elevate such a weakling as Olympius. Sozomen, from his handling of the events, allied himself with the illiberal cabal; and while he sought room for a representation of foreign Christianity in his book, nevertheless opposed the intrusion of at least the northern element into the offices of the empire.
There was a third line of cleavage among the people and the court. A very strong and persistent faction set itself against the admission of pagans and Arians into political position. These two, dying elements often combined to save themselves from extinction. The court itself fluctuated, because the Germanic politicians were mostly Arian, and the best scholars of political science were pagans. Exigencies compelled the recognition of masters like Anthemius and Troïlus. Sozomen threw in his lot with the narrower clique. He does not condescend to mention the best statesman of his time, or the wisest political thinker. Socrates does, and with admiration. The portrayal of Alaric is from the estimate of him as a leader in whom the hopes of pagans and Arians revived. Gaïnas is traduced, because he was the rallying-point of expiring Arianism in the East.
Sozomen, as we have seen, sided also with the majority in honoring the monastic life, which was bitterly opposed by many politicians and ecclesiastics. Naturally, therefore, he regarded life from a more pietistic standpoint, than did the court under the leadership either of Eudoxia or Eudocia. He responded to the puritanism of Chrysostom and Pulcheria.
He is a defender of Chrysostom, and answers such criticisms as Socrates has made. We can scarcely doubt that his heart was with the Johnites, although he may not have entered their separatist communion.
We can gather from intimations in his history that Sozomen had traveled somewhat. He shows a better knowledge of Palestine, than even Epiphanius; he must have kept up his connection with his native land to have been so well informed as to its traditions, places, and customs. Naturally the greater part of this interest centers in Gaza and its neighborhood, as his old home. In ii. 1, 2, his story of the invention of the Cross and the holy buildings erected by Helena, improves on the original, by local detail and color. In ii. 4, he enlarges upon the Eusebian account of Constantines purgation of Mamre or Terebinthus, as one familiar with the spot and with its fair. In ii. 5, he gives a bit of history of Gaza and Majuma under Constantine. In ii. 20, he narrates the election of Maximus as bishop of Jerusalem, from a source which no one else has used. In iii. 14, his biographical notices of Hilarion, Hesychas, and others, indicate an exact topographical knowledge. The Julian edict gives occasion to state the p. 198 dissensions between Gaza and its seaport (vii. 3). Quite graphic is the martyrology of Gaza and its vicinity, given in v. 9. In discussing Julians outrage on the image of Christ at Paneas (v. 27), and the miraculous well at Nicopolis, formerly Emmaus, we see signs of local acquaintanceship. In v. 22, Julian is said to write to the patriarchs, and rulers, and people, asking for their prayers for himself and his empire; here is a distinct reference to the then existing patriarchate; so all the details of the attempted restoration betray a well-informed hand, as well as state the fact of direct communication with the witnesses of the phenomena. The biographies in vi. 32 are bound up with Southern Palestine, and particularly with Bethelia and Gerar. Similarities in vii. 28, of those more closely related to him, easily prove that he was near home. In viii. 13, Scythopolis is selected by the fugitive Egyptian monks, because its many palms afforded them their customary means of support,—a circumstance narrated by no one else. Nor are local hints wanting in the story of the finding of Zachariahs body (ix. 17), with its legends. There is in one sense a disproportionate mention of Palestine, and designedly, not only from patriotic motives, but from a desire to vindicate its historic position in the development of Church history, and to rebuke the prevailing tendency of churchmen and historians to press it into the background. It is a curious juxtaposition, that the councils of Chalcedon should so soon after have vindicated the primacy of Jerusalem. There is also a better acquaintance with the facts and purposes of Jewish history, the relation of Judaism to Christianity (i. 1); the genesis of the Saracens, and their association with the covenant people (vi. 38); the regulations of the paschal season, especially in vii. 18; as well as a greater accuracy in the transliteration of names of places.
It was no inconsiderable journey from Gaza to his school, and from his school to Constantinople. The hints concerning Palestine, already mentioned, indicate personal observation. Beyond these we have suggestions that may look to his having been in Arabia and Cyprus, as, when he speaks (vii. 19) of knowing the custom in both places, to have a chorepiscopus at the head of a local church. So, too, in Alexandria, he was struck with the strange position of the bishop in not rising when the Gospels were read, something he had never known or heard of in other communities,—words which point to familiarity with that city. One would be glad to think of his having visited Tarsus, since he was acquainted with Cilix, a presbyter of that city, whom he consulted about the origin of the Apocalypse of Paul (vii. 19). That he knew Bithynia from the sight of it, we have already seen (ix. 5). He describes or alludes to architectural or topographic features of Alexandria, Antioch, and possibly Edessa, in a way that scarcely leaves a doubt of his having seen those cities; we may suppose that his clientelage would compel journeys to and fro.
His work abounds with allusions to structures and regions of Constantinople, to say nothing of its vicinity. The general description of the building of the city by Constantine (ii. 3) already gives some of its principal features. Of the churches, he mentions the first of those dedicated to the Archangel St. Michael (ii. 3), at some remove from the city (Hestiæ, Michaelium), and to be distinguished from a later structure on the opposite shore, and one in the city, erected to the same patron angel; 1046 —the church of the Apostles, which became the place of sepulture for emperors and even bishops (ii. 34, iv. 21, viii. 10);—the church of Acacius the martyr (iv. 21), to which Macedonius endeavored to remove the coffin of Constantine;—the church of Sophia (iv. 26), begun by Constantine, and dedicated under Constantius,—with which was connected a baptistery (viii. 21); this great edifice was burned in the tumult which arose after the second exile of Chrysostom was announced (viii. 22);—the house of prayer begun by Chrysostom and completed by Sisinnius, containing the tomb of the martyred Notaries; this was outside the walls, in a spot previously devoted to the execution of criminals, and an object of dread, because of frequenting ghosts (iv. 3);—the church of the Novatians, situated in a part of the city called Pelargum; this was taken down by them and transferred to a suburb p. 199 named Sycæ, hence the edifice was entitled Anastasia; it was restored to its original spot under Julian (iv. 20);—the little dwelling which was converted into a house of prayer for Gregory Nazianzen, and so became a church, also called Anastasia (vii. 5);—the church reared by Macedonius, which received the name of Paul, bishop of Constantinople, when Theodosius removed the confessors body to that building; it is described as a spacious and distinguished temple (vii. 10); when Theodosius the Great conveyed the head of John the Baptist to Hebdomas, in the suburbs, where was the seventh milestone, he erected on that site a spacious and magnificent temple, which became a center of imperial devotion and miraculous cures (vii. 21, 24, viii. 4, 14);—the church reared in honor of St. Stephen, the proto-martyr (viii. 24);—the church dedicated to the memory of St. Mocus the Martyr, where Dioscorus was buried (viii. 17);—the place where the body of Thyrsus the Martyr reposed, and whither the relics of the forty soldiers were transferred (ix. 2); this was a temple, according to Procopius. 1047 In Chalcedon, he mentions the church of St. Euphemia, so glowingly described by Evagrius, and that of SS. Peter and Paul in the Oak (Ruffinum).
While he speaks of the number of monks and nuns, in and about Constantinople (iv. 2, viii. 9), and alludes in a general way to their dwellings (iv. 20), he mentions no particular establishment except that founded by Marathonius, which stood in Sozomens time. He also refers to the Xenodochia, the Nosocomia, the Cherotrophia, and the Ptochotrophia (iv. 20, 27, viii. 9), but he does not specialize, not even concerning the group of institutions founded and endowed by Pulcheria (ix. 8). There were residences for the bishops and clergy, but these are only hinted at (vii. 14, viii. 14). The palaces and the forums are mentioned only in a general way, but the splendid council chamber (μέγιστος οἶκος τῆς συγκλήτου βουλῆς), which was burned with the Sophia, is described as south of that edifice. He refers to the Hippodrome in the third region, with a little description of its early form and place (vi. 39, viii. 21). Certain of the eight public baths are mentioned, the commodious thermæ called after Zeuxippus (iii. 9) is set forth as a conspicuous and large structure, and the palace as adjoining it near the sea-side. This was in the second region. He speaks correctly of baths bearing the names of Anastasia and Carosa, daughters of Valens, standing in his own time (vi. 9). The baths of Constantius are characterized as very spacious when he tells us how the followers of John resorted thither for the paschal feast (viii. 21).
We have some brief notices of a few friends outside the earlier circles in Bethelia and Gaza. By the advice of some pious acquaintances, who were versed in the mysteries, he decided not to publish the Nicene symbol (i. 20). Among those who experienced relief at the Michaelium, was a fellow-advocate, Aquilinus; the story of his cure is told us from Sozomens own observation, and from the statements made by his colleague (ii. 3). He was on good terms with Cilix, the venerable presbyter of Tarsus (vii. 19). He had a friend or friends, who were cognizant of affairs under Theophilus (viii. 12); and similarly with some who had been intimate with Chrysostom (viii. 9). It is not unlikely that he knew Nicarete in her old age, a lady of Bithynia remarkable for her sacrificial life, whose memory is preserved by him alone (viii. 23). The facts which he brings to light concerning Pulcheria, and the submission of his work to the younger Theodosius, shows that he was received graciously by both.
v. 15, and Hieron. de vita Hilarionis.193:1044
v. 15; vi. 32; viii. 15.194:1045
Zos. v. 29.198:1046
Procopius de Ædificis, i. 3, 8.199:1047
de Ædificis, i. 4.