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Socrates (MPol 22)

Role: Copyist

Gender: Male

Date: mid-late second century CE

Place: Corinth

Language:  Greek

Literary Genre: Martyrdom Account; Letter

Title of Work: Martyrdom of Polycarp

Reference:  MPol 22

Original Text:

ταῦτα μετεγράψατο μὲν Γάϊος ἐκ τῶν Εἰρηναίου, μαθητοῦ τοῦ Πολυκάρπου, ὃς καὶ συνεπολιτεύσατο τῷ Εἰρηναίῳ. ἐγὼ δὲ Σωκρᾴτης ἐν Κορίνθῳ ἐκ τῶν Γαΐου ἀντιγράφων ἔγραψα. ἡ χάρις μετὰ πάντων. (MPol 22.2)

ἐκ τούτων οὖν, ὡς προλέλεκται, τῶν τοῦ Εἰρηναίου συγγραμμάτων Γάϊος μετεγράψατο, ἐκ δὲ τῶν Γαΐου ἀντιγράφων Ἰσοκράτης ἐν Κορίνθῳ. ἐγὼ δὲ πάλιν Πιόνιος ἐκ τῶν Ἰσοκράτους ἀντιγράφων ἔγραψα κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν τοῦ ἁγίου Πολυκάρπου ζητήσας αὐτά, συναγαγὼν αὐτὰ ἤδη σχεδὸν ἐκ τοῦ χρόνου κεκμηκότα, ἵνα κἀμὲ συναγάγῃ ὁ κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς μετὰ τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν ἐπουράνιον αὐτοῦ βασιλείαν· (MPol Epilogue from the Moscow Codex)

English Translation:

Gaius transcribed these things from the papers of Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp; he also lived in the same city as Irenaeus. And I, Socrates, have written these things in Corinth from the copies made by Gaius. May grace be with everyone.  (MPol 22.2)

And so, as was indicated before, Gaius made a transcription from the writings of Irenaeus, as Isocrates did, in Corinth, from the copies of Gaius And then I, Pionius, wrote a copy from those of Isocrates, in accordance with a revelation of the holy Polycarp, after seeking out these writings and gathering them together when they were nearly worn out by age, so that the Lord Jesus Christ may gather me together with his chosen ones into his heavenly kingdom. (MPol 22 Moscow Codex)

Text and Translation adapted from Bart D. Ehrman, The Apostolic Fathers (Loeb Classical Library; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003)


Isocrates, or Socrates as he is sometimes listed in translations, copied the Martyrdom of Polycarp in Corinth from the edition made by Gaius. His existence and notice in the codicil to the account helps cement the literary lineage of the edition set before the reader. That Isocrates is identified as copying the text in Corinth suggests that the instructions of Evaristus–that the letter be copied and sent on to other churches–was fulfilled. Other than his socio-literary ties to Gaius and Pionius, nothing else is known of this Isocrates. That Pionius recopied Isocrates’s text only because it was worn out from age affords us a rare glimpse into the materiality of ancient book production and conservation. Curation often involved recopying. 

The Greek name Isocrates evokes the famous classical Greek philosophers Socrates and Isocrates. It is used of enslaved or formerly enslaved workers in a large number inscriptions (e.g. CIL 6.16314; CIL 6.10064; CIL 6.20268). Nevertheless, it is by no means certain that Isocrates was enslaved or formerly enslaved, only that he performed work normally associated with those of servile status.

Keywords: Apostolic Fathers; Christian; Copyist; Literate Worker; Martyrdom Account; Polycarp 

Related Entries: Evaristus; Gaius

How to Cite:

Moss, Candida R. “Isocrates (MPol 20).” Ancient Enslaved Christians. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR. <URL>



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