Agathias

, a Greek historian, who lived in the 6th century, under the emperor Justinian, was born at Myrina in Asia Minor. Some have concluded from Suidas, that he was an advocate at Smyrna; but Fabricius thinks that he was in general an advocate, or scholasticus, as he is called, from having studied the law in the schools appointed for that purpose. In his youth he was strongly inclined to poetry, and published some small pieces of the gay and amatory kind, under the title of “Daphniaca:” he tells us likewise, that he was author of a “Collection of epigrams” written by divers hands, a great part of which are presumed to be extant in the Greek Anthologia, where, however, he calls himself Agathius. These are also in Brunck’s Analecta. There have been doubts about his religion Vossius and others have supposed him a pagan; and they have concluded this chiefly from a passage in the third book of his history; where, giving a reason why the fortress of Onogoris in Colchis was called, in his time, St. Stephen’s fort, he says, that this first Christian martyr was stoned there, but uses the word <paffi t they say; as if he did not himself believe what he might think it necessary to relate. But this is by no means conclusive; and Fabricius supposes him, upon much better grounds, to have been a Christian, because he more than once gives very explicitly the preference to the doctrines of Christians: and in the first book he speaks plainly of the Christians as embracing the most reasonable system of opinions.

He wrote an “History of Justinian’s reign” in five books, at the desire of Eutychianus, secretary of state, who was his intimate friend, and probably furnished hinty with many important materials for the purpose. It begins at the 26th year of Justinian’s reign, where Procopius ends; and, as Evagrius says, was carried down to the flight of Cosroes the younger to the Romans, and his re> | storation by Mauritius: but the same Evagrius adds, that the work was not then published. It was printed in Greek, with Bonaventure Vulcanius’s Latin version and notes, at Leyden, 1594, in 4to; and at Paris in the king’s printinghouse, 1660, in folio, to accompany the other Byzantine historians. His manner is prolix, and his style too much interspersed with poetical flights; but his facts are said to be accurate. 1

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Gen. Dict.—Moreri.—Fabric. Bibl. Græc.—Saxii Onomasticon.