Theophylact Simocatta (Byzantine Greek: Θεοφύλακτος
Σιμοκάτ(τ)ης Theophylaktos Simokat(t)es; Latin:
Theophylactus Simocattus) was an early seventh-century Byzantine
historiographer, arguably ranking as the last historian of Late
Antiquity, writing in the time of
Heraclius (c. 630) about the late
Emperor Maurice (582–602).
4 External links
Heraclius receiving the submission of the Sassanid
Khosrau II – during Simocatta's times (plaque from a cross.
Champlevé enamel over gilt copper, 1160–1170, Meuse Valley). Housed
at the Louvre.
Simocatta is best known as the author of a history in eight books, of
the reign of the emperor Maurice (582–602), for which period he is
the best and oldest authority. However, his work is of lesser stature
than that of
Procopius and his self-consciously classicizing style is
pompous, but he is an important source of information concerning the
seventh-century Slavs, the Avars and the Persians, and the emperor's
tragic end. He mentions the war of
Heraclius against the Persians
(610–28), but not that against the Arabs (beginning 634), so it is
likely that he was writing around 630. Among his sources he used the
history of John of Epiphania.
Edward Gibbon wrote:
His want of judgement renders him diffuse in trifles and concise in
the most interesting facts.
This notwithstanding, Simocatta's general trustworthiness is admitted.
The history contains an introduction in the form of a dialogue between
History and Philosophy.
Nicolaus Copernicus translated Greek verses by Theophylact into Latin
prose and had his translation, dedicated to his uncle Lucas
Watzenrode, published in
Kraków in 1509 by Johann Haller. It was the
only book that
Copernicus ever brought out on his own account.
Simocatta was also the author of Physical Problems, a work on natural
history, and of a collection of 85 essays in epistolary form.
In regards to the Far East, Simocatta wrote a generally accurate
depiction of the reunification of China by Emperor Wen (r. 581-604 AD)
of the Sui Dynasty, with the conquest of the rival
Chen Dynasty in
southern China, correctly placing these events within the reign period
of Byzantine ruler Maurice. Simocatta also provided cursory
information about the geography of China along with its customs and
culture, deeming its people "idolatrous" but wise in governance. He
also related how the ruler was named Taisson, the meaning of which was
"Son of God", possibly derived from Chinese Tianzi (Son of Heaven, a
title of the emperor of China) or even the name of the contemporaneous
ruler Emperor Taizong of Tang.
^ "Snub-nosed cat". Other forms of the name are Simocattos and
^ J.D.C. Frendo, "
History and Panegyric in the Age of Heraclius: The
Literary Background to the Composition of the 'Histories' of
Theophylact Simocatta", Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 1988.
^ Important editions published in 1609, ed. pr. by J. Pontanus, and
C.G. de Boor in 1887.
^ E. Gibbon, The
History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire,
The Folio Society (1997), s.v. "Simocatta".
^ Angus Armitage, The World of Copernicus, pp. 75–77.
^ Cf. ed. J. Ideler in Physici et medici Graeci minores, i. 1841.
^ The best edition was published in 1873 by R. Hercher in
Epistolographi Graeci. The letters were translated into
Copernicus in 1509, reprinted in 1873 by F. Hipler in Spicilegium
^ a b Yule (1915), pp 29-31.
^ Yule (1915), p. 29, footnote #4.
Michael and Mary Whitby, translators, The
History of Theophylact
Simocatta: An English Translation with Introduction, Oxford University
Press, 1986, ISBN 0-19-822799-X, 9780198227991
Angus Armitage, The World of Copernicus, New York, Mentor Books, 1947.
Yule, Henry (1915). Henri Cordier (ed.), Cathay and the Way Thither:
Being a Collection of Medieval Notices of China, Vol I: Preliminary
Essay on the Intercourse Between China and the Western Nations
Previous to the Discovery of the Cape Route. London: Hakluyt Society.
Accessed 21 September 2016.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Simocatta,
Theophylact". Encyclopædia Britannica. 25 (11th ed.). Cambridge
University Press. p. 124.
Whitby, Michael (2015). "THEOPHYLACT SIMOCATTA". Encyclopaedia
Greek Opera Omnia by Migne Patrologia Graeca with analytical indexes
Raw Greek OCR of Carl de Boor's Teubner edition Theophylacti
Simocattae Historiae (1887) from the Lace collection at Mount Allison
Panodorus of Alexandria
Hesychius of Miletus
John of Ephesus
John of Epiphania
Liberatus of Carthage
Peter the Patrician
Theophanes of Byzantium
Trajan the Patrician
John of Antioch
Hippolytus of Thebes
Theophanes the Confessor
Nikephoros I of Constantinople
Leo the Deacon
Symeon the Metaphrast
Yahya of Antioch
Nikephoros Bryennios the Younger
Eustathius of Thessalonica
Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos
ISNI: 0000 0001 1827 3291
BNF: cb130917160 (data)