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date: 21 March 2023

Zonaras, Johanneslocked

, Byzantine historian and canonist

Zonaras, Johanneslocked

, Byzantine historian and canonist
  • Arnaldo Momigliano


A commander of the body-guard and imperial secretary, he was probably forced to retire into monastic life after the failure of the conspiracy to make Anna Comnena empress in 1118 ce. Living in exile on an island far from the capital he devoted himself to writing. He composed an authoritative commentary to Byzantine canon law, commentaries on the poems of *Gregory(2) of Nazianzus and on the terminology of religious poetry. Various other exegetic books and lives of saints go under his name; he is also the author of at least one religious poem. As a historian he wrote a universal history from the creation to ce 1118. Zonaras never claimed to be more than a compiler. For Greek history he mainly used *Herodotus(1), *Xenophon(1), *Plutarch, and *Arrian. For Roman history to the destruction of *Carthage he excerpted Plutarch and the first twenty-one books of *Cassius Dio, for which he is our only important source.


  • Late Antiquity

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