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 Eusebius of Caesarea

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Ecclesiastical History

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Emperors and Persecutions in the Third Century A.D.

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Eusebius of Caesarea in Palestine (the Roman empire offered many cities with the name), sometimes known as 'Pamphilus' or the 'son of Pamphilus,' was born a little after A.D. 260, became bishop of Caesarea about 313 and lived there until his death in 339. Perhaps because of his Panegyric of Constantine (elsewhere on this site) as well as his long Life of Constantine, Eusebius is always linked with the Christian emperor; in fact, he encountered Constantine but rarely, and his information about his emperor is mostly secondhand. Eusebius also wrote quite a number of other works, ranging from the theological treatises and works on Christian Scripture to the Ecclesiastical History (of which significant portions are available from the links below). He seems to have taken quite an interest in martyrs; his history offers many examples treated at length, and his Martyrs of Palestine was written in several editions over a period of years. Indeed, one of the problems with any study of Eusebius is the number and the dating of the editions of his works. I shall not attempt any further remarks here, but refer readers to T.D. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius (Cambridge, Mass., 1981), who treats the problems thoroughly and refers to detailed discussions of his own and those of others.



The translation is that in the Library of Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers and available in its entirety on the World Wide Web, together with the other volumes in the series. I have replaced the introduction with a brief one of my own, removed the page numbers to that edition (since they seemed more confusing than helpful), and deleted the references to footnotes (since only the references and not the notes were present in the scanned version). I have added a few notes; these, employing the capabilities of Internet browsers, I have placed in a second frame to facilitate consultation of text and notes at the same time. Occasionally, I have made a few corrections to the scanned text and made minor changes to layout to facilitate ease of use.

J. Vanderspoel, Department of Greek, Latin and Ancient History, University of Calgary



Eusebius devotes a considerable portion of his ecclesiastical history, particularly the first seven books (which he finished before the Great Persecution of Diocletianic times), to doctrinal matters and heresy, the successions of bishops, etc. For the student of history, these may be of somewhat less interest. I have therefore abstracted from Books VI and VII those portions which refer to emperors from Septimius Severus onwards, as well as the persecutions of the third century and the experiences of the persecuted, though complete versions of these books are available through the links below. When he wrote ecclesiastical history again, his perspective seems to have changed somewhat. Consequently, Books VIII, IX and X address, with little exception, emperors, persecutions and martyrdom. I have therefore included complete versions only; these books are in any case considerably shorter than Books VI and VII. Throughout his historical work, especially, Eusebius is fond of quoting documents, whether these be imperial decrees which he has translated from the Latin into Greek or letters written by bishops and others. The historicity of some documents has occasionally been impugned. Of this the reader should be aware, but my brief notes can hardly do justice to the topic, and the absence of a note ought not to be regarded as indicative of veracity. In general, the notes are designed to aid in understanding of the text, to alert readers to problems and to refer readers to other material, whether this be other ancient sources or modern treatments. Students in my courses rather than students elsewhere or scholars are the target audience.

The notes may seem, at first glance, to be presented oddly; in fact, they are. Because hyperlinks offer possibilities not available in other forms of publishing, all the notes to the entire selection of material from Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History have been placed in a single file; this should appear in the bottom window. To spare myself the necessity of writing all the notes immediately or manually rearranging numbers and hyperlinks later, notes are numbered in order of preparation, not in order of their appearance in the files. Readers need merely to click on a note number to have the correct note appear at the top of the bottom window. This will permit me to add notes easily in the future; it also means that the repetition of a note in another section need only offer a link to the previous note. [I do not recall seeing frames employed for notes in this way. Have I invented this and the apparently erratic numeration?]



Links:

Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book VI, selections

Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book VII, selections

Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book VI

Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book VII

Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book VIII

Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book IX

Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book X

Eusebius, Martyrs of Palestine

Eusebius, In Praise of Constantine



 List of Texts available on this site


Last modified 17 February 1998