The Catalogue of Virtues in the "Ecclesiastical History" of Sozomen of Bethelia

Sławomir Bralewski

University of Lodz , Poland


On the one hand, in his Ecclesiastical History, Sozomen presented the qualities of the ruler he held in high esteem – Theodosius II; on the other, he listed characteristics of the ascetics he admired, the new sages, living – in his view – according to the principles of the best philosophy. Interestingly, in this presentation, he applied an almost identical set of virtues that he attributed to both rulers and monks. In both cases he equated piety with wisdom and made them the most important, leading virtues. They were the ones that conditioned the subsequent qualities. Thus, in Sozomen’s account, one can trace the theory of the unity of virtues characteristic of Socrates of Athens. It claimed that one cannot possess a particle of virtue without possessing the whole, nor can one possess one specific virtue without possessing all of them. It seems that the order of virtues used by Sozomen in the catalogue of virtues ascribed to Theodosius II is not accidental, and reflects their hierarchy: εὐσέβεια-σοφία φιλανθρωπία, ἀνδρεία, σωφροσύνη, δικαιοσύνη, φιλοτιμία, and μεγαλοψυχία. This hierarchy stems from the Christian values adopted by Sozomen.


Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History, cardinal virtues

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Bralewski, S. (2022). The Catalogue of Virtues in the "Ecclesiastical History" of Sozomen of Bethelia. Vox Patrum, 84, 31–50.

Sławomir Bralewski
University of Lodz


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