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Evagrius Scholasticus

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Ecclesiastical historian and last of the continuators of Eusebius of Caesarea, b. in 536 at Epiphania in Coele-Syria; d. after 594, date unknown. He followed the profession of advocate at Antioch (hence his surname) and became the friend of the Patriarch Gregory (569-594), whom he successfully defended in presence of the Emperor Maurice and of the Council at Constantinople (588). Having already been appointed questor by Tiberius II (578-582), he received from Maurice the title of honorary prefect ( ex praefectis ). Evagrius, a product of the masters of rhetoric, made a collection of the reports, letters, and decisions which he had written for the Patriarch Gregory. Another collection contained discourses of Evagrius, among them a panegyric of the Emperor Maurice and his son Theodosius. These have all been lost. None of his works survive except his "Ecclesiastical History" in six books. In this he proposes to write the sequel of the narrative begun by Eusebius of Caesarea and continued by Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret. He begins with the Council of Ephesus (431) and ends with the twelfth year of the reign of the Emperor Maurice (593-594). This work is very important for the history of the religious controversies of the fifth and sixth centuries, Nestorianism, Eutychianism, and the last phases of Monophysitism. Evagrius furnishes details concerning events and persons, and does not neglect works of art (St. Sophia, H.E., IV, 31). To political history he gives an important place; in a word, he is an authority of the first order for this period. He is sincere, and is conscientious in securing information. But he shares the ideas of his environment and of his time. In his defence of Constantine he goes so far as to deny the murder of Crispus and Faustina. He relates wonders and legends, and it is to him we owe the account of the blood that was taken up with a sponge at certain times from the body of St. Euphemia of Chalcedon (II, 3). Among the sources of his information he mentions the chronicle of Eustathius of Antioch, and the works of Procopius, Menander Protector, John of Epiphania, and John Malalas (whom he calls John the Rhetorician). While he relies on these authors, he does so with discretion. In his ecclesiastical attitude he is strictly orthodox and abides strictly by the decrees of Chalcedon; nevertheless, he judges the heretics with moderation. His was an equable mind, and he is a reliable guide.

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