William Garrood: Late Antique Prosopography and the Ecclesiastical Historians

This paper looks at digital techniques in relation to proposography and its practical application to late antique texts, with specific reference to the ecclesiastical historians. Prosopography, the structuring of biographical data, has rapidly evolved over the last few decades with the growing pervasiveness of computing technology and its application to historical disciplines. For prosopography, a subject well suited to digital scholarship, this has meant profound changes in both the level of information that can be included, though in this it is following a wider trend in the discipline, and a change in how we collate, present and locate the information. The pace of this takeup is uneven, but in some areas, new-style ‘factoid’ prosopographies like the Prosopography of the Byzantine World offer the potential for new forms of analysis and far easier sorting of source data. This paper builds on the approach taken by the recent digital prosopographies, drawing on my own work compiling a digital prosopography of Socrates Scholasticus’ Ecclesiastical History and early work expanding that into other ecclesiastical historians. It explores the implications of seeking at applying more extensive implication within and aggregation of the data and in particular the possibility for greater depth and structuring of relationship and location information. I use relationship data to examine the potential application for network analysis and its limits – looking at the data from a general perspective and what it tells us about the sources themselves. I outline here a relationship-led case for the centrality of the Emperor in Socrates’ history.