In response to his brother’s request, Photius, ninth-century Patriarch of Constantinople, write the Bibliotheca, which contained brief summaries and reviews of 279 books of theology, history, grammar, and literature. Among other things, it gives a glimpse of what an educated ninth-century Byzantine could read about Constantine, and what he thought of it.
Of Eunapius’s Chronicle, the major source of Zosimus’ anti-Constantinian history, he writes:
“It begins with the reign of Claudius Caesar, when the history of Dexippus ends, and goes down to the time of Honorius and Arcadius, the sons of Theodosius. The work actually ends at the time when Arsacius, after the banishment of John Chysostom, was raised to the archbishopric of Constantinople, and the wife of Arcadius died of a miscarriage. This Eunapius was a native of Sardes in Lydia, and an impious heathen. He slanders and abuses in every way and without restraint all who have adorned the empire by their piety, especially Constantine the Great; on the other hand, he extols the impious, above all Julian the Apostate. Indeed, it almost seems as if the work was written as an elaborate panegyric upon him.” Eunapius’s “elegant” and “forcible” style “palliates the offense” of the contents of the book, though Photius thinks he is too fond of expressions like “fowl-like” and “more swine-like” and “ape like” and “a tear like a river.”
Number 127 on the list was Eusebius’s Life of Constantine, which he described as a “eulogy in four books.” He is almost as hard on Eusebius as Burckhardt. He notes that Eusebius adopted a more “flowery” style than in his other books, that he leaves out facts – such as who baptized Constantine and whether the emperor agreed with Arius or Alexander, and he complains the Eusebius never identifies Arius as a heretics. He conceals facts surrounding Athanasius too, and on the whole follows a “method of concealment.”
His full comments are: “It contains the whole manner of life of the man, and describes all those acts of his that have to do with ecclesiastical history, from his earliest years till the day when he departed this life, at the age of sixty-four. Even here the author preserves his characteristic style, except that his language is obliged to be somewhat more brilliant, and words are inserted here and there that are more flowery than usual; he does not, however, exhibit much charm and grace in explanation, which is also a defect of his other works. A large number of passages from all the ten books of his Ecclesiastical History are scattered over this work in four books. He says that the great Constantine was also himself baptized in Nicomedia, having put off his baptism till that time since he desired to receive it in the waters of Jordan. He does not state definitely who baptized him. As to the Arian heresy, he does not make it clear whether he still adhered to that doctrine or whether he had changed, nor does he state whether Arius’s views were right or wrong, although he ought to have mentioned this, seeing that a great part of the deeds of Constantine has to do with the synod, which again claims a detailed account of them. But he mentions that a ‘dispute’ (as he calls the heresy, to conceal its real nature) arose between Arius and Alexander, and that the pious emperor was very grieved at the “dispute,” and strove, by letters and through Hosius, bishop of Cordova, to induce the disputants to abandon mutual strife and such questions, and to restore friendship and harmony amongst them; that, being unable to persuade them, he called together a synod from all parts, and so put an end to the strife that had broken out, and made peace. His account, however, is neither accurate nor clear. Wherefore, as if ashamed and unwilling to make public the facts concerning Arius and the decree of the synod against him or the just punishment of his companions in impiety who were cast out with him, he says nothing about this. He does not even mention the just punishment of Arius inflicted by heaven and seen by every eye. He brings none of these things to the light, and says little about the synod and its proceedings. For this reason, when about to speak of the divine Eustathius, he does not even mention his name, nor the audacious and successful intrigues against him. Attributing these also to sedition and tumult, he again refers to the calmness of the bishops who had assembled at Antioch as the result of the emperor’s zeal and co-operation and changed sedition and tumult into peace. Similarly, where he speaks of the intrigues against the much-tried Athanasius, in his desire to include these things in his history, he says that Alexandria was again filled, with sedition and disturbance, which were calmed by the presence of the bishops, supported by the emperor. But he does not make it clear who started the sedition, nor its nature, nor how it was put down. He preserves almost the same method of concealment in his narrative of the quarrels of the bishops about dogma or their disagreements in other matters.”