Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Hesychius (27) Illustris, a writer
Hesychius (27) Illustris, a copious historical and biographical writer, the son of an advocate and born at Miletus. His distinctive name (Ἰλλούστριος) was the official title conferred by Constantine the Great on the highest rank of state officers. Nothing is known of him except that he lived in the reigns of Anastasius, Justin, and Justinian, and that his literary labours were cut short by grief at the premature death of a son named John. Suidas doubts whether he was a Christian on the somewhat precarious ground of his omission of all ecclesiastical writers in his work on men of learning. But very substantial reasons have been produced on the other side by Cave (Hist. Lit. t. i. p. 518) and accepted by Fabricius. His chief work was a Universal History in six books and in a synoptical form through a period of 1920 years, reaching from Belus, the reputed founder of the Assyrian empire, to the death of Anastasius I., a.d. 518. The whole has perished except the initial portion of bk. vi., which has been several times printed under the title of Constantinopolis Origines, or Antiquitates. It was published by George Dousa, and ascribed to Georgius Codinus (Heidelberg, 1596), and subsequently by Meursius, under the name of its real author, appended to his de Viris Claris (Lugd. Bat. 1613). It was followed by a supplement, recording the reign of Justin, and the early years of Justinian. This, as the work of a contemporary whose official position enabled him to obtain accurate information, must have been of great historical value, and its loss is very much to be regretted. Hesychius also wrote a series of biographical notices of learned men, which, going over very much the same ground as the work of Diogenes Laertius, has been supposed to be an epitome of the Vitae Philosophorum. A comparison of the two will shew that the differences are too great to admit this idea. This work has been printed by Meursius (Lugd. Bat. 1613). Without sufficient grounds Hesychius Illustris has been identified with the lexicographer of Alexandria. Cave, l.c.; Suidas, s.v.; Photius, Cod. 69; Fabr. Bibl. Graec. t. vii. p. 544; Thorschmidius, de Hesychii Illustri, ap. Orellium Hesychio Opera.