Theophanes the Confessor

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Saint Theophanes
Image Theopanes nicea.png
Confessor
Bornc. 758–760
Constantinople
Died12 March 817 (aged 57–59)
Samothrace
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church; Eastern Orthodox Church
Feast 12 March (Catholic Church); 12 March (Julian Calendar for Orthodox Church)

Saint Theophanes the Confessor (Greek : Θεοφάνης Ὁμολογητής; c. 758/760 – March 12, 817/818) was a member of the Byzantine aristocracy who became a monk and chronicler. He served in the court of Emperor Leo IV the Khazar before taking up the religious life. Theophanes attended the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 and resisted the iconoclasm of Leo V the Armenian, for which he was imprisoned. He died shortly after his release.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning at least 3500 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Byzantine Empire Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural and military force in Europe. "Byzantine Empire" is a term created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".

Monk member of a monastic religious order

A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism by monastic living, either alone or with any number of other monks. A monk may be a person who decides to dedicate his life to serving all other living beings, or to be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live his or her life in prayer and contemplation. The concept is ancient and can be seen in many religions and in philosophy.

Contents

Theophanes is venerated on March 12 in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. (He should not be confused with Theophanes of Nicaea, whose is commemorated on October 11.)

Eastern Orthodox Church Christian Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 260 million baptised members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods. Roughly half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.

Theophanes the Branded Byzantine monk and hymnographer

Theophanes the Branded also called Theophanes Graptus or Theophanes of Nicaea was a Byzantine monk and hymnographer.

Biography

Theophanes was born in Constantinople of wealthy and noble iconodule parents: Isaac, governor of the islands of the Aegean Sea, and Theodora, of whose family nothing is known. [1] His father died when Theophanes was three years old, and the Byzantine Emperor Constantine V (740–775) subsequently saw to the boy's education and upbringing at the imperial court. Theophanes would hold several offices under Leo IV the Khazar. [2]

Constantinople capital city of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, the Latin and the Ottoman Empire

Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261) and of the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). In 1923 the capital of Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, was moved to Ankara and the name Constantinople was officially changed to Istanbul. The city is located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul. The city is still referred to as Constantinople in Greek-speaking sources.

Constantine V Emperor of the Romans

Constantine V was Byzantine emperor from 741 to 775. His reign saw a consolidation of Byzantine security from external threats. As an able military leader, Constantine took advantage of civil war in the Muslim world to make limited offensives on the Arab frontier. With this eastern frontier secure, he undertook repeated campaigns against the Bulgars in the Balkans. His military activity, and policy of settling Christian populations from the Arab frontier in Thrace, made Byzantium's hold on its Balkan territories more secure. Religious strife and controversy was a prominent feature of his reign. His fervent support of Iconoclasm and opposition to monasticism led to his vilification by later Byzantine historians and writers, who denigrated him as Kopronymos or Copronymus (Κοπρώνυμος), meaning the dung-named.

He was married at the age of twelve, but convinced his wife to lead a life of virginity. In 799, after the death of his father-in-law, they separated with mutual consent to embrace the religious life. She chose a convent on an island near Constantinople, while he entered the Polychronius Monastery, located in the district of Sigiane (Sigriano), near Cyzicus on the Asian side of the Sea of Marmara. [1] Later, he built a monastery on his own lands on the island of Calonymus (now Calomio), where he acquired a high degree of skill in transcribing manuscripts.

Cyzicus town

Cyzicus was an ancient town of Mysia in Anatolia in the current Balıkesir Province of Turkey. It was located on the shoreward side of the present Kapıdağ Peninsula, a tombolo which is said to have originally been an island in the Sea of Marmara only to be connected to the mainland in historic times either by artificial means or an earthquake.

Sea of Marmara Inland sea, entirely within the borders of Turkey, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea

The Sea of Marmara, also known as the Sea of Marmora or the Marmara Sea, and in the context of classical antiquity as the Propontis, is the inland sea, entirely within the borders of Turkey, that connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, thus separating Turkey's Asian and European parts. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Black Sea and the Dardanelles strait to the Aegean Sea. The former also separates Istanbul into its Asian and European sides. The Sea of Marmara is a small sea with an area of 11,350 km2 (4,380 sq mi), and dimensions 280 km × 80 km. Its greatest depth is 1,370 m (4,490 ft).

Calonymus of Alexandria was a Byzantine naval commander, known for leading the fleet in the Vandalic War (533–534). The main source about him is Procopius.

After six years he returned to Sigriano, where he founded an abbey known by the name "of the big settlement" and governed it as abbot. In this position of leadership, he was present at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, and signed its decrees in defense of the veneration of icons. [1]

Abbot Religious title

Abbot, meaning "father", is an ecclesiastical title given to the male head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not the head of a monastery. The female equivalent is abbess.

Second Council of Nicaea synod

The Second Council of Nicaea is recognized as the last of the first seven ecumenical councils by the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. In addition, it is also recognized as such by the Old Catholics and others. Protestant opinions on it are varied.

Veneration the act of honoring a saint, a person who has been identified as having a high degree of sanctity or holiness

Veneration, or veneration of saints, is the act of honoring a saint, a person who has been identified as having a high degree of sanctity or holiness. Angels are shown similar veneration in many religions. Philologically, "to venerate" derives from the Latin verb, venerare, meaning to regard with reverence and respect. Veneration of saints is practiced, formally or informally, by adherents of some branches of all major religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism.

When Emperor Leo V the Armenian (813–820) resumed his iconoclastic warfare, he ordered Theophanes brought to Constantinople. The Emperor tried in vain to induce him to condemn the same veneration of icons that had been sanctioned by the council. Theophanes was cast into prison and for two years suffered cruel treatment. After his release, he was banished to Samothrace in 817, where overwhelmed with afflictions, he lived only seventeen days. He is credited with many miracles that occurred after his death, [1] which most likely took place on 12 March, the day he is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology . [1]

Leo V the Armenian Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans

Leo V the Armenian was Emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 813 to 820. A senior general, he forced his predecessor, Michael I Rangabe, to abdicate and assumed the throne. He ended the decade-long war with the Bulgars, and initiated the second period of Byzantine Iconoclasm. He was assassinated by supporters of Michael the Amorian, one of his most trusted generals, who succeeded him on the throne.

Iconoclasm The destruction of religious images

Iconoclasm is the social belief in the importance of the destruction of icons and other images or monuments, most frequently for religious or political reasons. People who engage in or support iconoclasm are called iconoclasts, a term that has come to be figuratively applied to any individual who challenges "cherished beliefs or venerated institutions on the grounds that they are erroneous or pernicious".

Samothrace Place in Greece

Samothrace is a Greek island in the northern Aegean Sea. It is a municipality within the Evros regional unit of Thrace. The island is 17 km (11 mi) long and is 178 km2 (69 sq mi) in size and has a population of 2,859. Its main industries are fishing and tourism. Resources on the island include granite and basalt. Samothrace is one of the most rugged Greek islands, with Mt. Saos and its tip Fengari rising to 1,611 m (5,285 ft).

Chronicle

At the urgent request of his friend George Syncellus, Theophanes undertook the continuation of Syncellus' Chronicle (Χρονογραφία, Chronographia), during the years 810 to 815. [3] The language used occupies a place midway between the stiff ecclesiastical and the vernacular Greek. [4] He arguably made use of three main sources: first, material already prepared by Syncellus; second, he probably made the use of a set of extracts made by Theodore Lector from the works of Socrates Scholasticus, Sozomenus, and Theodoret; and third, the city chronicle of Constantinople. [1] Cyril Mango has argued that Theophanes contributed but little to the chronicle that bears his name, and that the vast bulk of its contents are the work of Syncellus; on this model, Theophanes' main contribution was to cast Syncellus' rough materials together in a unified form.[ citation needed ]

Theophanes' part of the chronicle covered events from the accession of Diocletian in 284 (which is the point where the chronicle of George Syncellus ends) to the downfall of Michael I Rhangabes in 813. This part of the chronicle is valuable for having preserved the accounts of lost authorities on Byzantine history for the seventh and eighth centuries that would be otherwise have been lost. [5]

The work consists of two parts, wherein the first provides a chronological history arranged per annum, and the second contains chronological tables that are regrettably full of inaccuracies. It seems that Theophanes had only prepared the tables, leaving vacant spaces for the proper dates, but that these had been filled out by someone else (Hugo von Hurter, Nomenlator literarius recentioris I, Innsbruck, 1903, 735). In the chronological first part, in addition to reckoning by the years of the world and the Christian era, Theophanes introduces in tabular form the regnal years of the Roman emperors, of the Persian kings and Arab caliphs, and of the five ecumenical patriarchs, a system which leads to considerable confusion, [4] and therefore of little value.

The first part, though lacking in critical insight and chronological accuracy, greatly surpasses the majority of Byzantine chronicles. [6] Theophanes's Chronicle is particularly valuable beginning with the reign of Justin II (565), as in his work, he then drew upon sources that have not survived his times [7]

Theophanes' Chronicle was much used by succeeding chroniclers, and in 873–875 a Latin compilation was made [8] by the papal librarian Anastasius from the chronicles of Nicephorus, George Syncellus, and Theophanes for the use of a deacon named Johannes in the second half of the ninth century and thus was known to Western Europe. [1]

There also survives a further continuation, in six books, of the Chronicle down to the year 961 written by a number of mostly anonymous writers (called Theophanes Continuatus or Scriptores post Theophanem), who undertook the work at the instructions of Constantine Porphyrogenitus. [1]

Notes

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