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Agapetus

Deacon of the church of Sancta Sophia at Constantinople (about 500)

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Agapetus, a deacon of the church of Sancta Sophia at Constantinople (about 500), reputed tutor of Justinian, and author of a series of exhortations in 72 short chapters addressed (c. 527) to that emperor (P.G., LXXXVI, 1153-86). The first letters of each chapter form an acrostic of dedication that reads: The very humble Deacon Agapetus to the sacred and venerable Emperor Justinian. The little work deals in general terms with the moral, religious, and political duties of a ruler. In form it is quite sententious and rhetorical, and resembles closely a similar work in the romance of Barlaam and Joasaph. Both of these seem to be based on Isocrates, and on Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzus. The work of Agapetus was eminently fitted for the use of medieval teachers by reason of its edifying content, the purity of its Greek diction, and its skillful construction. It was translated into Latin, French, and German, and was highly commended by the humanists of the Renaissance. Some twenty editions of it appeared in the sixteenth century.

THOMAS J. SHAHAN


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