Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History, 4.16. 3-13
Arsakios was a confessor, who had resigned from his military career during the persecution of Licinius, and lived as an ascetic in one of the towers of the city walls of Nicomedia. He had a vision announcing the upcoming earthquake, and attempted in vain to warn the bishop. After the earthquake, he was found dead in his tower cell, prostrate in prayer, even though the tower had not been damaged. A rumour arose that he had prayed to be allowed to die before seeing the city destroyed.
Summary: E. Rizos.
Saint NameArsakios, confessor and ascetic in Nicomedia, ob. 358 : S01720
Saint Name in SourceἈρσάκιος
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)
Evidence not before439
Evidence not after450
Activity not before358
Activity not after450
Place of Evidence - RegionConstantinople and region
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcConstantinople
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Constantinople
Major author/Major anonymous workSozomen
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsOral transmission of saint-related stories
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits
SourceSalamenios Hermeias Sozomenos (known in English as Sozomen) was born in the early 5th c. to a wealthy Christian family, perhaps of Arab origins, in the village of Bethelea near Gaza. He was educated at a local monastic school, studied law probably at Beirut, and settled in Constantinople where he pursued a career as a lawyer.
Sozomen published his Ecclesiastical History between 439 and 450, perhaps around 445. It consists of nine books, the last of which is incomplete. In his dedication of the work, Sozomen states that he intended to cover the period from the conversion of Constantine to the seventeenth consulate of Theodosius II, that is, 312 to 439, but the narrative of the extant text breaks in about 425. The basis of Sozomen’s work is the Ecclesiastical History of Socrates, published a few years earlier, which our author revises and expands. Like Socrates, Sozomen was devoted to Nicene Orthodoxy and the Theodosian dynasty, but his work is marked by stronger hagiographical interests, a richer base of sources, and different sympathies/loyalties. Sozomen probably lacked the classical education of Socrates, but had a broader knowledge of hagiographical and monastic literature and traditions, which makes him a fuller source for the cult of saints. Besides Greek and Latin, Sozomen knew Aramaic, which allowed him to include information about ascetic communities, monastic founders, and martyrs from his native Palestine, Arabia, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia, to which Socrates had had no access. Much like the other ecclesiastical historians of the fourth and fifth centuries, Sozomen focuses on the East Roman Empire, only seldom referring to the West and Persia.
DiscussionThe story of Arsakios is not known from any other source.
Bidez, J., and Hansen, G. C., Sozomenus. Kirchengeschichte. 2nd rev. ed. (Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte, Neue Folge 4; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1995).
Grillet, B., Sabbah, G., Festugière A.-J. Sozomène, Histoire ecclésiastique. 4 vols. (Sources chrétiennes 306, 418, 495, 516; Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1983-2008): text, French translation, and introduction.
Hansen, G.C. Sozomen, Historia ecclesiastica, Kirchengeschichte, 4 vols. (Fontes Christiani 73; Turnhout: Brepols, 2004): text, German translation, and introduction.
Hartranft, C.D. “The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen, Comprising a History of the Church from AD 323 to AD 425." In A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Second Series, edited by P. Schaff and H. Wace (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1890), 179-427.
Chesnut, G. F. The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius (Atlanta: Mercer University, 1986).
Leppin, H. Von Constantin dem Grossen zu Theodosius II. Das christliche Kaisertum bei den Kirchenhistorikern Socrates, Sozomenus und Theodoret (Hypomnemata 110; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1996).
Van Nuffelen, P., Un héritage de paix et de piété : Étude sur les histoires ecclésiastiques de Socrate et de Sozomène (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 142; Leuven: Peeters, 2004).