Syropilus (also SGUROPULTUS, Σγουρόπουλος, Σγοῦρος), SYLVESTER, a writer on the history of the Council of Ferrara and Florence (1438 sq.), who himself participated in its business, and was one of the most determined opponents of the union between the churches of the East, and West upon which the emperor, John Palaeologus, had set his heart. So far did he carry his opposition that he found it advisable to resign his place as one of the six debaters in the council, and came into violent antagonism with both, the patriarch and the emperor… He yielded to the emperor's commands and threats, however, so far as to sign the decree of union, which had been adopted, but afterwards deplored the weakness of his action. He was a legal officer (δικαιόφυλαξ) and a chief sacristan (μέγας ἐκκλησιάρχης) at Constantinople, and also one of the five dignitaries about the patriarch who were allowed to wear the badge of the cross upon their robes; but his want of firmness in the matter of the treaty of union with the Latin Church rendered him unpopular at home and thus caused him to retire from public life. He devoted his leisure to the composition of a "true history of the untrue union between the Greeks and the Latins," thereby exciting against himself the anger of the Latins and their friends in turn, so that Romish writers like Labbe and Allatius class him unqualifiedly with Grecian liars and the worst sort of schismatics.
The work of Syropuluis has important and undeniable value as a source for the history of the Synod of Ferrara. It presents a credible view of events personally engaged in by the author, and defends a position actually represented in the council, besides revealing to view a series of connected and involved incidents which, but for its narration, could not have been known at this day. The later criticism of Allatius may, nevertheless, have corrected some minor particulars of the narrative. The object of the book was to show that a real unions was impossible, though the leaders on both sides, the pope, Bessarion, the patriarch, the emperor, etc., steadily drew nearer to each other, until the necessities of the Greeks decided the result, which Syropillus justly characterizes as a compromise (μεσότης) rather than a union. The final drafting of the terms of union involved extraordinary difficulties (sect. 8:14). Book 12 relates the disagreements of the Greeks while returning from the synod, and their discouraging reception at home.
The work is extant in a single edition based on a codex of the Bibliotheca Regia (N. 1247), from which Serrarins caused it to be copied in 1642 and sent to Isaac Vossius for publication; but Sir Edward Hyde, the English ambassador, caused the manuscript to be placed at the disposal of Robert Creyghton, chaplain at the court of Charles II and, later, bishop of Bath. The latter issued the book in the original Greek and accompanied it with a Latin translation under the title Vera Hist. — Unionis non Verce inter Graecos et Latinos, etc. (Hagee Comitis, 1660), besides prefixing to it a eulogy of Syropulus and of the Grecian theology and Church as compared with the papal, which rendered the work still more unpalatable to Romish readers. Allatius accordingly prepared a refutation, directed more especially at Creyghton, entitled In R. Creyghtoni Apparat., Versionem et Not. ad Hist. Concec, Florentini, etc. (Rom. 1665), pt. 1 Creyghton's edition and also the Paris codex are incomplete, as the whole of the first book is wanting; but several other manuscript scopies of Syropulus exist, so that the deficiency may perhaps be met. See Creyghton's preface, ubi sup.; Oudini Comment. 3, 2418; Cave, Hist. Liter. Append.; Schröckh's, 34:411. — Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.