1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/George the Syncellus

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21743621911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 11 — George the Syncellus

GEORGE THE SYNCELLUS [Georgios Synkellos], of Constantinople, Byzantine chronicler and ecclesiastic, lived at the end of the 8th and the beginning of the 9th century A.D. He was the syncellus (cell-mate, the confidential companion assigned to the patriarchs, sometimes little more than a spy; see Syncellus) or private secretary of Tara(u)sius, patriarch of Constantinople (784–806), after whose death he retired to a convent, and wrote his Chronicle of events from Adam to Diocletian (285). At his earnest request, the work, which he doubtless intended to bring down to his own times, was continued after his death by his friend Theophanes Confessor. The Chronicle, which, as its title implies, is rather a chronological table (with notes) than a history, is written with special reference to pre-Christian times and the introduction of Christianity, and exhibits the author as a staunch upholder of orthodoxy. But in spite of its religious bias and dry and uninteresting character, the fragments of ancient writers and apocryphal books preserved in it render it specially valuable. For instance, considerable portions of the original text of the Chronicle of Eusebius have been restored by the aid of Syncellus. His chief authorities were Annianus of Alexandria (5th century) and Panodorus, an Egyptian monk, who wrote about the year 400 and drew largely from Eusebius, Dexippus and Julius Africanus.

Editio princeps, by J. Goar (1652); in Bonn Corpus scriptorum hist. Byz., by W. Dindorf (1829). See also H. Gelzer, Sextus Julius Africanus, ii. 1 (1885); C. Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Litteratur (1897).