Socrates begins the second book of his Ecclesiastical History' by stating that he has rewritten the first two books avoiding the chronological errors of Rufinus which he had earlier repeated (such as putting the Council of Tyre after the death of Constantine (cf. Rufinus, HE 10.17] and omitting Athanasius' exile in Gaul in 335-337). Socrates explains that he became aware of Rufinus' errors when he came across treatises by Athanasius and contemporary letters: hence the rewritten first two books, with their copious quotations instead of the bare narrative of the first edition (HE 2.1.1-5). The following brief analysis of the second book of the Ecclesiastical History notes the correct dates where they are known in order to show how unsatisfactory Socrates' account remains as a sequential narrative, despite the vast amount of excellent information it contains on particular individuals and episodes.1
2 After the death of Constantine, which Socrates correctly dates to 22 May
337 (1.40.3), the Eusebians cause disorder in the church by attempting to reintroduce Arianism.
3.1-4 Letter of Constantinus to the Christians of Alexandria (17 June 337, quoted from Athanasius, Apol. c. Ar. 87.1-4).
3.5-7 Athanasius returns to Alexandria (23 November 337), and plots are made against him. Socrates alludes to Athanasius' condemnation by a Council of Antioch and to his expulsion from his see (spring 339).
4 Acacius becomes bishop of Caesarea in place of Eusebius (who died in late May 339).
5 Constantinus dies (Socrates gives the correct consular date of 340).
6 Alexander of Constantinople dies and Paul is elected as his successor (late summer 337).
7 Paul is deposed, and Eusebius of Nicomedia replaces him (early autumn 337).
8 The 'Dedication Council' meets at Antioch in the consular year 341, which by inclusive counting Socrates reckons as the fifth year after the death of Constantine (5). Socrates has apparently conflated the council of January 341 (1-5) with the council of 338/9 which deposed Athanasius (6-7).
9 The career of Eusebius of Emesa summarised from the life by George of Laodicea, including his refusal to be named as Athanasius' successor in Alexandria (6-7).
10.1-20 The Council of Antioch appoints Gregory bishop of Alexandria (1) and issues credal documents (4-8 from Athanasius, Syn. 22.3-7; 10-18 from Syn. 23.2-10), which Gregory subscribes before going to Alexandria (19). Socrates continues to conflate the councils of 338/9 and 341 (cf. Athanasius, Syn. 22.2).
10.21-22 Roman territory is invaded by the Franci (21) and great earthquakes occur in the East, with Antioch shaken for a whole year (22). The Frank-ish invasion and the earthquake are dated to the fourth year of Constantius (340/1) by Jerome, Chronicle 235K< Helm, and to the consular year 341 in Chr. min. 1.236.
11 Gregory enters Alexandria, and Athanasius flees to Rome. The narrative partially conflates the entry of Gregory in March 339 with the attempted arrest of Athanasius in February 356: although the burning of the Church of Dionysius occurred in 339 (6), the dux Syrianus and his five thousand soldiers belong to 356 (1, cf. Athanasius, Fug. 24.3; Hist. Ar. 81.6). Moreover, the chapter ends with an apparent reference to the Roman council of summer 341 (7).
12-13 After Eusebius of Nicomedia dies, Paul returns to Constantinople, the
Arians elect Macedonius, Hermogenes is killed when he tries to expel Paul, and finally Constantius comes from Antioch to do so. All these events belong to the winter of 341/2: Socrates gives the consular date of 342 for both the murder of Hermogenes and Constans* defeat of the Franci (13.4, cf. Chr. min. 1.236}.
14 The Arians replace Gregory with George of Cappadocia. This chapter reveals a hopeless muddle: Gregory died in Alexandria on 26 June 345, well before George was first named bishop of the city in 349 (Sozomenus, HE 4.8.4).
15 Athanasius, Paul of Constantinople, Asclepas of Gaza, Marcellus of Ancyra, and Lucius of Adrianople, all in Rome, approach Julius; armed with letters from Julius, they rcoccupy their sees (3), despite opposition from the supporters of George when Athanasius entered Alexandria (6). This return is sheer fantasy, but may ultimately be based on a confused recollection of the attempts of Lucius and Paul to resume their sees after the Council of Serdica.
16 The praetorian prefect Philippus expels Paul from Constantinople and restores Macedonius as bishop (late 344).
17.1-11 Athanasius goes to Rome, and Julius writes to the bishops who had met at Antioch. The charge of embezzlement (2) was made against Athanasius in 337/8. Socrates refers to the letter of the Egyptian bishops in early 338 (6, cf. Athanasius, Apol. c. Ar. 3-19), to the letter of a council of Antioch which appears to be the 'Dedication Council' (5,10, cf. 15.4-5), and to Julius' long letter of 341 (7-9, cf. Apol c. Ar. 21-35).
17.12 'Shortly afterward' Paul of Constantinople goes from Thessalonica to
Icaly (early winter 344/5).
18.1-6 The bishops Narcissus, Theodorus, Maris, and Marcus present a creed to Constans (3-6, from Athanasius, Syn. 25.2-5). The context in Athanasius indicates that this embassy occurred in 342.
18.7 The heresy of Photinus.
19 The 'long creed,' quoted from Athanasius, Syn. 26 (344).
20 The Council of Serdica (343), which Socrates misdates to the consular year 347 (4). Socrates states that there was a delay of eighteen months between the summoning and the meeting of the council (6): that might derive from Julius' letter of 341 [Apol. c. Ar. 29.2), which in fact refers to Athanasius waiting in Rome in 339/40.
21 Digression in defense of Eusebius of Caesarea against the charge of being an Arian.
22 Constans threatens to restore Athanasius and Paul by force. The letter from which Socrates quotes (5) belongs to early 345.
23 Constantius allows the restoration of Athanasius and the other exiled bishops. Socrates quotes seven letters from Athanasius (Apol. c. Ar. 51-56). Athanasius entered Alexandria on 21 October 346 (Hist. ac. 1.2; Index 18).
24 Athanasius returns to Alexandria via Jerusalem, and Ursacius and Valens enter into communion with him.
25 Rapid survey of political history from May 337 to June 350.
26 After the death of Constans in the consular year 350 (1), attacks on Athanasius resume; Paul is deposed and killed; Marcellus is expelled; Lucius dies in prison; and Athanasius flees to avoid being killed on Constantius' orders. Socrates again conflates events of different dates: the death of Lucius of Adrianople (6) belongs to the period immediately after the Council of Serdica, but the complaints about Athanasius' flight are those which he answered in 357 (9, cf. Fug. 1). The expulsion of Marcellus (6) is unhistorical, since he was not allowed to return to Ancyra in the 340s at all.
27 Macedonius becomes bishop of Constantinople in place of Paul (probably in 349).
28.1-15 The conduct of George in Alexandria, from Athanasius, Fug. 6.1-7.5 (describing events of 356).
28.16-20 Vetranio abdicates (25 December 350).
28.21 Consrantius proclaims Gallus Caesar (15 March 351) and sends him to Syria.
28.22 As Gallus reaches Antioch, a cross appears in the sky (7 May 351). 28.23 Constantius sends his generals against Magnentius (summer 351).
29-30 A council at Sirmium deposes Photinus in the consular year 351. Socrates quotes from Athanasius both the creed of the Council of Sirmium (30.5-30, from Syn, 27.2-3) and the 'blasphemy* of 357 (30.31-41, from Syn. 28.2-12) without realising that the latter does not belong in 351. He also puts after the council the preliminary interrogation of Photinus by Basil of Ancyra, which occurred before it (30.43-45, cf. Epiphanius, Pan. 71.1.4-6).
31.1-4 Ossius of Corduba is forced to subscribe to the decisions of the Council of
Sirmium (he submitted only in 357).
31.5 Constantius remains in Sirmium awaiting the outcome of the campaign against Magnentius.
32.1-10 Defeat and death of Magnentius, which Socrates dates c. 15 August 353 (8). The Battle of Mursa, which Socrates transfers from Pannonia to Gaul (2), occurred on 28 September 351.
32.11 Usurpation of Silvanus (355).
33 Gallus suppresses a Jewish rebellion (352).
34.1-5 Misdeeds and execution of Gallus in the consular year 354.
34.5 Julian is proclaimed Caesar (6 November 355).
34.6 Constantius visits Rome (357).
34.7-8 Julius dies, and Liberius becomes bishop of Rome (352).
35 The career of Aetius.
36 The Council of Milan (355).
37 The Council of Ariminum in 359 (cf. 39.5-7). Socrates prefaces his account of the council with a digression on how Eudoxius of Germanicia became bishop of Antioch (6-11). Although Socrates, by dating the death of Leontius 'about this time,' implicitly puts Eudoxius* election too in 359, his statement that Eudoxius was in Rome with Constantius when he received news of Leontius' death indicates that the correct date is 357. In his account of the council, Socrates quotes from Athanasius the 'dated creed' of 22 May 359 (18-24, from Syn. 8.3-7); a long passage of Athanasius himself (31-49, from Syn. 3.1-4.4); the letter of the Council of Ariminum to Consrantius (54-74, from Syn. 10.1-12); and the emperor's reply to the council (78-87, from Syn. 55.2-7). He then narrates the exile of Liberius (355-357) as if it were a consequence of Liberius* refusal to accept the creed presented at Ariminum (90-94), and he concludes the long chapter with the creed of Nike (95-97:10 October 359).
38.1 Introductory: earlier events in the East.
38.2 Acacius and Patrophilus install Cyril as bishop of Jerusalem (probably
38.3-42 Activities of Macedonius in Constantinople, especially his persecution of Novatianists, with details supplied by Auxanon (10).
39-40 The Council of Seleucia. Socrates records that it convened on 27 September 359 (39.7, cf. 5) and quotes a document presented by Acacius (40.8-17, cf. Epiphanius, Pan. 73.25).
41-42 The Council of Constantinople (January 360: 41.8-16 quote Athanasius, Syn. 30.2-10).
43. l-7a Eustathius of Sebasteia. Socrates summarises the canons of the Council of Gangra (3-6), which he expressly dares after the Council of Constantinople: Sozomenus, HE 4.24.5, puts Gangra before Constantinople, correctly so it seems.5
43.7b-16 Eudoxius becomes bishop of Constantinople. Socrates records the consecration of the great church of Hagia Sophia on 15 February 360 (11).
44 Meletius becomes bishop of Antioch, but is soon replaced by Euzoius (5).
Socrates refers to Constantius' journey to Antioch for the Persian war early in 360 (7).
45.1-8 The deposed Macedonius founds a sect.
45.9-17 Council of Antioch meets in the consular year 361 (10).
46 The two Apollinarii of Laodicea in Syria.
47 Constantius dies on 3 November 361.
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