Henry Savile wrote a critical dissertation on Chrysostom’s biographers for inclusion in the eighth volume of his edition of Chrysostom’s works in Greek. He was indeed very interested in the
of his author, primarily in the
of Palladius of Helenopolis, then only known in Latin translation, whose Greek original he took considerable pains to unearth, to no avail, in libraries throughout Europe. His amanuenses instead brought him an array of Byzantine hagiographical texts, of which he was dismissive, publishing them only in part. Savile’s dissertation propounds his criteria of historical criticism (opposing ‘ancient’, authoritative writers, such as Palladius, and ‘modern’ ones, who invented miraculous stories) and attempts to reconstruct an exact chronology of Chrysostom’s life. It also discusses events immediately following the saint’s death, and argues that the letter of excommunication allegedly sent by Pope Innocent I to Chrysostom’s persecutors, the Emperor Arcadius and the Empress Eudoxia, cannot be genuine. As this episode was much used by champions of papal authority, Savile realized that he would be drawn into contemporary controversies. He preferred therefore to suppress his dissertation altogether: an act of self-censorship which raises fundamental questions about the nature of his undertaking.