SOCRATES (c. 380-456)

A church historian. Socrates was a native of Constantinople, where he lived and obtained his education. He ultimately became a lawyer and earned the title Scholasticus. He is best known as a and seems to have started where EUSEBIUS OF left off. Thus his history is probably the most important after Eusebius’, though it has been said that he made use of the historical work of RUFINUS, which must have appeared only a short time before.

His work was planned in seven books, each dealing with an imperial reign, beginning with DIOCLETIAN in 305 and covering the period to 439. After writing its first version, Socrates became better acquainted with the works of Saint ATHANASIUS, whom he admired, and this led him to produce a second and definitive version, which is the one extant today.

On the whole, Socrates’ history is lucidly written, and his objectivity of is uncontested. His accounts of the ecumenical are based on the documentary collection of Sabinus of Heraclea, and he is more versed in events connected with Constantinople. Though a good historian of the church, he displays no special interest in the theological controversies of his time.

His history attracted attention from the earliest days of printing, its first edition appearing at Paris in 1544, by Stephanus; later versions were by Valesius at Paris in 1688 and by W. at in 1720. It was reproduced by at Paris in 1859 and by W. Bright at Oxford in 1878. It appeared in English by A. C. Zenos, in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Series, in 1890.


  • Milligan, W. “Socrates.” In DCB 4. New York, 1974.