A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

(Ἀγαθίας), the son of Mamnonius, a rhetorician, was born, as it seems, in 536 or 537 A. D. (Hist. 2.16, and Vita Agathiae in ed. Bonn. p. xiv.), at Myrina, a town at the mouth of the river Pythicus in Aeolia (Agathiae Prooemium, p. 9, ed. Bonn.; p. 5, Par.; p. 7, Ven.), and received his education in Alexandria, where he studied literature. In 554 he went to Constantinople (Hist. 2.16), where his father then most probably resided, and studied for several years the Roman law. (Epigr. 4.) He afterward exercised with great success the profession of an advocate, though only for the sake of a livelihood, his favourite occupation being the study of ancient poetry (Hist. 3.1); and he paid particular attention to history. His profession of a lawyer was the cause of his surname Σχολαστικός (Suidas, s. v. Ἀγαθίας), which word signified an advocate in the time of Agathias. Niebuhr (Vita Agath. in ed. Bonn. p. xv.) believes, that he died during the reign of Tiberius Thrax, a short time before the death of this emperor and the accession of Mauritius in 582, at the age of only 44 or 45 years. Agathias, who was a Christian (Epigr. 3, 5, and especially 4), enjoyed during his life the esteem of several great and distinguished men of his time, such as Theodorus the decurio, Paulus Silentiarius, Eutychianus the younger, and Macedonius the ex consul. He shewed them his gratitude by dedicating to them several of his literary productions, and he paid particular homage to Paulus Silentiarius, the son of Cyrus Florus, who was descended from an old and illustrious family. Hist. 5.9.