Theophanes the Confessor, St.
THEOPHANES THE CONFESSOR, ST.
Byzantine chronicler; b. during the reign of Constantine V Copronymos, probably ca. 752; d. Samothrace, ca.818. Theophanes, of noble origin, married the daughter of a Byzantine patrician, but shortly afterward, without consummating the marriage, retired to a monastery which he himself built on the shore of the Sea of Marmara between Cyzicus and the Kirmasti River. Ruins of this monastery still survive. His family later became related to the great Macedonian dynasty. As a monk, Theophanes ranked himself against the iconoclastic policy of Emperor leo v the Armenian, was arrested, and finally exiled to the island of Samothrace where he died. He is included among the saints in both the Greek and Latin Churches.
Theophanes is the author of an important chronicle composed between 810 and 814 at the suggestion of the author's friend, George Syncellus; it covers the period from 284 to 813. The narrative, arranged in the form of annals, includes a number of chronological elements: the year since the creation of the world (according to the Alexandria era, which puts the creation of the world in 5493 before the Incarnation); the year since the Incarnation; the current year of the Byzantine, Persian, and Arab rulers; the current year of the bishop of Rome and the four patriarchates; and the number of the indiction cycle. It should be observed, however, that from the year of the creation 6102 (a.d. 609–610) to 6265 (a.d. 772–773), with the exception of the period of 6207 to 6218 (a.d. 714–715 to 725–726), Theophanes's dates fall one year behind the indiction. Theophanes derived his information from earlier historians and chroniclers, including perhaps a great world chronicle, which is no longer extant. His chronicle, along with that of nicephorus i, Patriarch of Constantinople, constitutes the principal Byzantine historical source for the greater part of the 7th and 8th centuries. It was translated into Latin by anastasius, the papal librarian, in the 870s.
Feast: March 12.
Bibliography: Theophanis chronographia, ed. c. de boor, 2v. (Leipzig 1883–85). k. krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Literatur (Munich 1890; 2d ed. 1897) 342–347. g. ostro gorsky, History of the Byzantine State, tr. j. hussey from 2d German ed. (Oxford 1956); American ed. by p. charanis (New Brunswick, N. J. 1957). m. e. colonna, Gli storici bizantini dal sec. IV al sec. XV (Naples 1956) 131–134. g. moravcsik, Byzantinoturcica, 2 v. (2d ed. Berlin 1958) 1:531–537.