SOCIETY ISLANDS (French Archipel de la Société), an archipelago of the Pacific Ocean, in the eastern part of Polynesia, between 16° and 18° S., 148° and 155° W., with a total land area of 637 sq. m., belonging to France. (For map, see Pacific Ocean.) The principal island is Tahiti (q.v.). Part of the archipelago was discovered by Pedro Fernandez Quiros in 1607. In 1767 Samuel Wallis re-discovered it, and named it King George's Island. In 1768 Louis de Bougainville visited Tahiti, claimed it as French, and named it La Nouvelle Cythère. On the 12th of April 1769 the British expedition to observe the transit of Venus, under the naval command of James Cook, arrived at Tahiti. On this first voyage (he subsequently re-visited the islands twice) he named the Leeward group of islands Society in honour of the Royal Society, at the instigation of which the expedition had been sent; Tahiti and the adjacent islands he called Georgian, but the first name was subsequently adopted for the whole group. In 1772 and 1774 the islands were visited by a Spanish government expedition, and some attempt was made at colonization. In 1788 Lieutenant Bligh of the “Bounty” spent some time at Tahiti, to which island the historical interest now passes.
The archipelago is divided into two groups—the Leeward (Îles sous le Vent) and the Windward Islands (Îles du Vent)—by a clear channel of 60 m. in breadth. The Leeward Islands are Tubai or Motuiti, a small uninhabited lagoon island, the most northern of the group; Marua or Maupiti—“Double Mountain,” the most western; Bola-Bola or Bora-Bora; Huaheine; Raiatea or Ulietea (Spanish Princessa), the largest island of this cluster, and Tahaa, which approach each other very closely, and are encircled by one reef. To the west lie the small groups of coral islets—Mopiha (Lord Howe), Ura (Scilly) and Bellingshausen (discovered by Otto von Kotzebue, 1824). To the Windward Islands belong Tapamanu or Majaiti (Wallis's Sir Charles Saunders's Island and Spanish Pelada); Moorea or Eimeo (Wallis's Duke of York Island and Spanish San Domingo); Tahiti—Cook's Otaheite (probably Quiros's Sagittaria; Wallis's King George's Island, Bougainville's Nouvelle Cythère and Spanish Isla d'Amat); Tetuaroa—“The Distant Sea” (? Quiros's Fugitiva; Bougainville's Umaitia and Spanish Tres Hermanos); and Maitea (? Quiros's La Dezana, Wallis's Osnaburg Island, Bougainville's Boudoir and Pic de la Boudeuse and Spanish Cristoval), the most eastern and southern of the archipelago. Tetuaroa and Tubai, besides the three western Leeward Isles, are coral atolls. The length of the Tetuaroa reef ring is about six miles; it bears twelve palm-covered islets, of which several are inhabited, and has one narrow boat-passage leading into the lagoon. With the exception just named, the islands, which agree very closely in geological structure, are mountainous, and present, perhaps, the most wonderful example of volcanic rocks to be found on the globe. They are formed of trachyte, dolerite and basalt. There are raised coral beds high up the mountains, and lava occurs in a variety of forms, even in solid flows; but all active volcanic agency has so long ceased that the craters have been almost entirely obliterated by denudation. Hot springs are unknown, and earthquakes are slight and rare. Nevertheless, under some of these flows remains of plants and insects of species now living in the islands have been found—a proof that the formation as well as the denudation of the country is, geologically speaking, recent. In profile the islands are rugged and elevated (7349 ft. in Tahiti, Moorea 4045 ft., Raiatea 3389, Bola-Bola 2165). A mountain, usually with very steep peaks, forms the centre, if not the whole island; on all sides steep ridges descend to the sea, or, as is oftener the case, to a considerable belt of flat land. These mountains, excepting some stony crags and cliffs, are clothed with dense forest, the soil being exceptionally fertile. All voyagers agree that the varied beauty of form and colour the Society Islands are unsurpassed in the Pacific. Innumerable rills gather in lovely streams, and, after heavy rains, torrents precipitate themselves in grand cascades from the mountain cliffs—a feature so striking as to have attracted the attention of all voyagers, from Wallis downwards. Round most of the islands there is a luxuriant coral growth; but, as the reefs lie at no great distance, and follow the line of the coast, the inter-island channels are comparatively safe. Maitea, which rises from the sea as an exceedingly abrupt cone, and Tapamanu, appear to be the only islands without almost completely encircling barrier-reefs. The coasts are fairly indented, and, protected by these reefs, which often support a chain of green islets, afford many good harbours and safe anchorages. In this respect the Society Islands have the advantage of many Polynesian islands.
The populations of the chief islands are: Tahiti 10,300, Moorea 1600, Raiatea and Tahaa 2300, Huaheine 1300, Bola-Bola 800; and that of the whole archipelago is about 18,500.
SOCINUS, the latinized form of the Italian Sozini, Sozzini or Soccini, a name born by two Italian theologians.
I. Lelio Francesco Maria Sozini (1525–1562) was born at Siena on the 29th of January 1525. His family descended from Sozzo, a banker at Percena, whose second son, Mino Sozzi, settled as a notary at Siena in 1304. Mino Sozzi's grandson, Sozzino (d. 1403), was ancestor of a line of patrician jurists and canonists, Mariano Sozzini senior (1397–1467) being the first and the most famous, and traditionally regarded as the first freethinker in the family. Lelio (who spells his surname Sozini, latinizing it Sozinus) was the sixth son of Mariano Sozzini junior (1482–1556) by his wife Camilla Salvetti, and was educated as a jurist under his father's eye at Bologna. He told Melanchthon that his desire to reach the fontes juris led him to Biblical research, and hence to rejection of “the idolatry of Rome.” He gained some knowledge of Hebrew and Arabic (to Bibliander he gave a manuscript of the Korān) as well as Greek, but was never a laborious student. His father supplied him with means, and on coming of age he repaired to Venice; the headquarters of the evangelical movement in Italy. A tradition, first published by Sand in 1678, amplified by subsequent writers, makes him a leading spirit in alleged theological conferences at Vicenza, about 1546; the whole account (abounding in anachronisms, including the story of Sozini's flight) must be rejected as fabulous. At this period the standpoint of Sozini was that of evangelical reform; he exhibits a singular union of enthusiastic piety with subtle theological speculation. At Chiavenna in 1547 he came under the influence of Camillo of Sicily, a gentle mystic, surnamed Renato, whose teaching at many points resembled that of the early Quakers. Pursuing his religious travels, his family name and his personal charm ensured him a welcome in Switzerland, France, England and Holland. Returning to Switzerland at the close of 1548, with commendatory letters to the Swiss churches from Nicolas Meyer, envoy from Wittenberg to Italy, we find him (1549–1550) at Geneva, Basel (with Sebastian Münster) and Zürich (lodging with Pellican). He is next at Wittenberg (July 1550 to June 1551), first as Melanchthon's guest, then with Johann Forster for improvement of his Hebrew. From Wittenberg he returned to Zürich (end of 1551), after visiting Prague, Vienna and Cracow. Political events drew him back to Italy in June 1552; two visits to Siena (where freedom of speech was for the moment possible, owing to the shaking off of the Spanish yoke) brought him into fruitful contact with his young nephew Fausto. He was at Padua (not Geneva, as is often said) at the date of Servetus's execution (Oct. 27, 1553). Thence he made his way to Basel (January 1554), Geneva (April) and Zürich (May), where he took up his abode.
Calvin, like Melanchthon, received Sozini with open arms. Melanchthon (though a phrase in one of his letters has been strangely misconstrued) never regarded him with theological suspicion. To Calvin's keen glance Sozini's over-speculative tendency and the genuineness of his religious nature were equally apparent. A passage often quoted (apart from the context) in one of Calvin's letters (January 1, 1552) has been viewed as a rapture of amicable intercourse; but, while more than once uneasy apprehensions arose in Calvin's mind, there was no breach of correspondence or of kindliness. Of all the Reformers, Bullinger was Sozini's closest intimate, his warmest and wisest friend. Sozini's theological difficulties turned on the resurrection of the body, predestination, the ground of salvation (on these points he corresponded with Calvin), the doctrinal basis of the original gospel (his queries to Bullinger), the nature of repentance (to Rudolph Gualther), the sacraments (to Johann Wolff). It was the fate of Servetus that directed his mind to the problem of the Trinity. At Geneva (April 1554) he made incautious remarks on the common doctrine, emphasized in a subsequent letter to Martinengo, the Italian pastor. Bullinger, at the instance of correspondents (including Calvin), questioned Sozini as to his faith, and received from him an explicitly orthodox confession (reduced to writing on the 15th of July 1555) with a frank reservation of the right of further inquiry. A month before this Sozini had been sent with Martino Muralto to Basel, to secure Ochino as pastor of the Italian church at Zürich; and it is clear that in their subsequent intercourse the minds