Archive for January, 2011

A modern story about Louis Pasteur and the atheist

Curious Presbyterian has a charming story, which I reproduce below.

A story is told of a young businessman sharing a compartment on a train with an elderly gentleman.  When he noticed that the old fellow was quietly and intently praying with his rosary, the young man chided him for his ‘superstition’ and told him that science had rendered the beliefs of religion irrelevant.

“How did you come to discover that?” the old gentleman asked.

His companion didn’t really know how to answer the question fully right then and there, so he offered to send him a few texts and public lecture notes on the subject for his enlightenment.  “What’s your address?’ he asked, “I’ll send you the material via the Post Office.”  The old man rummaged in his coat pocket and produced a tattered business card that read, Louis Pasteur, Paris Institute of Scientific Research.

Louis Pasteur was the 19th century giant of microbiology who proved the germ-theory of disease and invented the rabies vaccine.  His humility certainly didn’t hinder his greatness and his commitment to science did not preclude his belief in God.

I hope this is true.  It is a very nice story.

I don’t want to be a party-pooper, and I would very much like to believe this story.  But before I give my assent, I would like to know that it is actually true.  I have grown into the habit of questioning things which I find convenient, in case they are “too good to be true.”  And the story comes with no reference, which should always make us wary.  I wonder what a search would find…

 The story comes, so Curious Presbyterian tells us, to him from Father Tim Moyle, who uses it as an introduction to an excellent article here.  There can be no question but that both repeat it in good faith.  But … is it true?  How do we know?  It does not take long to find an atheist site which claims Pasteur as an atheist.

This link takes us to a preview of Maurice Crosland, Science Under Control: The French Academy of Sciences 1795-1914, p.199 which identifies Pasteur as a Catholic, and references an anti-atheist position to Pasteur, Oeuvres, vol. 6, part 1, pp.56-7, in a discussion of fermentation at the academy of medicine, and another as Correspondance, vol.2, p.151, 154.

I have no more time to search now, but I think we must be wary.

The origins of scholia

Homer and other poetical texts were used in school rooms during the classical period, and after.  Inevitably this led to a need for explanation of unusual or obsolete words, summaries of books, and explanations of mythological events — the same sorts of things that modern students seem to require in order to read Jane Austen or Shakespeare.

Ancient texts were written on papyrus rolls or scrolls.  These had narrow columns, and narrower margins.  It was possible to place a letter or symbol in the margin, but little more, although we do have examples of attempts to write in margins.  Consequently these explanations had to be written in separate rolls.

These commentaries were composed early in the classical period, and continued to be composed and compiled throughout antiquity.  They often consisted of a series of entries, beginning with the word or words under discussion, or the beginning of the line of poetry concerned, or the start of the first line of a passage, followed by the comments.  These comments would often include comments from older commentators, often separated by “allws” (“alternatively”). 

Inevitably such commentaries could swell to a considerable size, and might therefore be epitomised in turn, and then the epitome augmented.  Copyists might feel able to change the comments, far more than with a normal literary text.  Many of the commentaries are lost, subsumed into subsequent compilations of comments, but a considerable number survive.

In the Hellenistic period, at the museum of Alexandria, the staff worked on the text of Homer and other classical texts, producing considerable quantities of commentary on textual and other issues.  None of this material has survived directly, as stand-alone commentaries — our earliest extant commentaries are 2nd century BC — but they are quoted again and again in subsequent compilations.

The invention of the modern book form — the parchment codex — made a considerable change to the practice in this area.  A codex could contain considerably more text than a papyrus roll, and nearly all codices have wide margins.  It was therefore perfectly practicable to take material from commentaries and write it in the margin; and this practice seems to have become endemic at some period between the 4-6th centuries AD, and continues down to the end of the Byzantine period of Greek texts.

These marginal comments are known as “scholia”, although in some branches of classical studies the term is also applied to the stand-alone commentaries, which, after all, contain the same sorts of material and are usually the sources of the scholia.

The “old scholia” were soon supplemented by Byzantine scholia.  These themselves were often based on older sources, directly or indirectly, and therefore can preserve ancient opinion about ancient texts.

A thorough introduction to the subject, and what commentaries and scholia exist for classical Greek texts, with references, can be found in Eleanor Dickey’s Ancient Greek Scholarship, which I thoroughly recommend and which is the source for these remarks.  She also details how to read a critical edition, the Latin abbreviations used, and gives exercises in how to read and translate scholia.  And the book is very cheap as well!  Anyone with an interest in the subject should buy one.

I am amused to see Cramer editing various scholia in the 19th century.  We have discussed his work before, in this blog, in the context of catena-commentaries.  The connection between the two is perhaps something that should be explored.

From my diary

Last night I was reading some Christian blogs and I stumbled on Curious Presbyterian.  The author has run a series of detailed posts about some of the problems Christians are facing in modern Britain, and unlike so many has not minced his words. 

Comments seem to be disabled — at least I couldn’t add comments on any of them.  But other Christian bloggers have written on how the organised haters simply abuse the comment facilities on their blogs to try to start fights and generally wear them down, and this may be the reason why.

There is a disturbing post there about Stephen Green of Christian Voice, from the Daily Mail.  Let us hope that it isn’t true; Stephen has done a great deal to organise Christian action against some of the taunting that goes on. 

Back to ‘real life’, and I’m still reading Eleanor Dickey’s book on the scholia in ancient Greek texts.  It is very dense, but very sound.  With great difficulty I got through the first chapter last night.  It’s not long, but full of good things.

I kept asking myself, “Why has no-one done something similar for the catenas?”  Inevitably it could use some more references at points, tho. 

Do we find the New Testament church in the Fathers?

The New Testament is the word of God, and the basis and of a Christian’s daily walk with Christ.  It is our SatNav in the motorway network of life.  May we always turn to it before we get to Spaghetti Junction!

The church that we see in the NT is (a) mostly Jewish (b) based on local congregations, but with an emotional loyalty to the apostles in the Jerusalem Church (c) not blessed with bishops and priests.

Very often, when we come to read the Fathers — especially the apostolic Fathers — our motivation for doing so is that we want to know what happened next.  I would myself always refer people first to Eusebius Church History, in the excellent Penguin translation by G. A. Williamson, for answers to that, not least because he quotes verbatim otherwise lost early sources.   Then I would recommend the reading of the apostolic fathers, and then all 10 extant Fathers writing before 200 AD.  Such a course of reading gives one a mastery of the data not to be obtained in any other way, and really takes very little time.  The whole lot could be skim-read in a week during the evenings.

But I suspect that many of us cannot help feeling that the Church (with a capital C) that we see in those works is a very different animal to that which we find in the New Testament.  All these bishops, for one thing, look markedly unapostolic, and they look ever less apostolic as they swell in importance (and self-importance, sadly) in the years after Cyprian. 

Indeed already, ca. 215 AD, Tertullian has cause to criticise one bishop as a “veritable pontifex maximus, a bishop of bishops”, who has ventured to take on himself the right to forgive adultery and fornication on application at his office! (De Pudicitia, 1).  Tertullian suggests that the letter issuing this instruction should be posted where it will be of most use to those affected, namely in the red-light district, outside certain temples, or over the doorways of brothels.  When one modern editor commented, “Churchmen have not liked Tertullian; they praise him with reservations,” it is perhaps passages like this that explain why.  Another bishop is accused by Tertullian of violating the Scantinian law, which prohibited sodomy.

But it is less the abuses of the church in late antiquity that trouble us, so much as a sense that the organisation looks little like that which we see in the bible, and the literature emanating from it equally so.  I think the impression is a valid one, and deserves consideration.  Why is this the case?

Of course for a Roman Catholic the answer is that the New Testament does not concern itself primarily with such matters, but that the apostles appointed bishops and set up the organisation to take things forward.  No doubt there is truth in this, and certainly the texts witness to such appointments.  Whether the prelates of late antiquity such as Cyril of Alexandria were quite what Peter and John had in mind may, I think, be legitimately debated.

But there are other factors.  Much of second century Christian literature — I exclude the apocrypha and the scribblings of heretics — consists of apologetic literature directed to an uncaring pagan emperor and casting itself in whatever form the author thought might gain a hearing.  Other portions consist of anti-heretical literature.  The NT contains neither, and these together give a quite misleading impression.  If we exclude these, we are left with a selection of letters, more or less, mostly from the apostolic fathers. 

These are far more like the NT than we might imagine.  1 Clement deliberately harks back toPaul’s letters to the Corinthians.  The letters of Ignatius may be troubled by docetists, but their relation to the NT is also obvious.  The Didache is not a letter, but is both Jewish and refers to apostles and prophets.

We must also remember that 99% of literature written before 200 AD is lost.  What we have is largely a matter of accident.   The large quantity of apologetic literature is the produce of a single accident.  In the 10th century Archbishop Arethas of Caesarea was interested in early Christian apologies, and got one of his toadys to give him a book with a whole load of them copied into it.  That book has survived, and thereby  influences our perceptions.  Other collections doubtless might have been made at that time; but since no-one was interested in copying such old and out-of-date texts, they perished.

Finally, and by no means least, we must consider the question of translation.  Most of us will read this pre-200 literature in stilted older translations, often written by men in the Oxford Movement and steeped in ecclesiasticism.  There is quite a gulf between these and a modern NIV, and still more a Good News Bible.  This again fosters a sense of distance, which is purely accidental.

I suggest, therefore, that our picture of the early church in the first century should really follow New Testament lines.  As time goes on, things change; but probably more slowly than we realise.  I doubt that Polycarp, who died ca. 155, knew of a church other than that founded by John the Apostle.  I have my doubts that Irenaeus, writing ca. 180, did so, although things were very clearly changing.

Change is inevitable, and so is a return to God.  That is the nature of human beings, and it is the history of the church also.  But I do not think we should be troubled if we find something very ecclesiastical in our reading.  Think instead of the house churches that must have continued, where no member never wrote a line that has reached us, but in which the early Christians actually worshipped.

Islamic mss now online

I’m not sure whether it is relevant or useful to any readers of this blog, but I saw an email saying that the Islamic manuscripts at the University of Michigan are now pretty much all online here.

It’s all happening, people — the manuscripts are coming online, slowly.  The dam is bursting, and we will all be able to hunt through the primary sources in the oldest extant copies without leaving our desks!

From my diary

Eleanor Dickey’s Ancient Greek Scholarship has arrived.  A couple of cans of decaffeinated diet coke, a handful of Marks & Spencers chocolate eggs, and a sofa will help me read it.

Handbooks of ancient literature

Regular readers will recall that I found reference to a possible pagan festival, supposedly in Antiochus of Athens.  I tracked down the text and made a translation, as part of the annual struggle against those headbangers who every year celebrate Christmas by jeering “Christmas is really a pagan festival” at the nearest Christian.  My knowledge of ancient literature is rather decent, yet I had never heard of this author, so I have spent quite a few posts exploring who and what exists in this field of ancient Greek and Roman astrological writers.

It’s a strange sensation doing this, in a way.  Surely there should be a handbook, which lists all the authors, gives us a brief biography of what facts are known, when they lived, and then lists their works with a reference to the printed text and whatever translations exist? 

When we study the early Christians, we are so fortunate.  We have Quasten’s Patrology in 4 volumes (plus the extra volume by Angelo Di Berardino, translated Adrian Walford), which gives us just this.  It’s getting a little elderly now, and I could wish that someone would bring it up to date.  But it is possible to gain so much knowledge of  the field, just by reading through it constantly.

Likewise when I took an interest in Arabic Christian studies, I found Georg Graf’s Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur, in 5 volumes.  Of course a book of that kind in German is of limited use to most of us, but persistence pays off, and by purchasing a copy and reading and scribbling in the margins, I’ve been able to get something.  We need this text in English, in truth.  I did enquire through an intermediary whether the Vatican library, who own the copyright, would permit me to sell a translation, but got a refusal.  In truth the cost of translation would have been something like $10,000, for each of two volumes, which is a bit rich for my slender resources.  But until it is made, Arabic Christian studies in English will always be a cinderella subject.

While looking at the scholia on Aristophanes, I encountered Eleanor Dickey’s book Ancient Greek Scholarship, which gives us the information we need on ancient Greek commentaries on classical works.  I was impressed enough to buy a copy, and indeed I am sitting here this morning awaiting a courier from Amazon with it.

But … when it comes to classical literature outside of Christian studies, what is there?  Where is the equivalent sort of work for Greek literature?  For Latin literature?  For specialised technical works such as ancient medical literature?  Or, in this case, for astrological literature?  Unless I am mistaken — and I could be — it does not seem to exist.

I toyed, indeed, with creating such a thing for the astrological literature.  But in truth I am simply not interested enough.  I don’t particularly want to learn how ancient astrology was done, the various elements and jargon of that discipline.  My mind is on other things.  I can’t imagine how such a work can be written without that knowledge.  In fact I get the impression that the field of study is largely left to historically-minded modern practitioners of astrology.  Isn’t that a curious thing to do?

It is a pity that scholars like David Pingree, whose excellent article on Antiochus and Rhetorius I discussed yesterday, have not compiled the necessary overview text for that area of knowledge.  I find that he died a few years ago, otherwise I should write and ask him to create one.

Cracking down on crime online — or on freedom?

I apologise for all the free speech items today!  It’s not what I want to blog about. 

However today seems to be a write-off, as far as other subjects are concerned.  So let me finish the series of free speech-related  posts with another news item. 

This evening I learn that five people have been arrested by police in the Midlands for taking part in the “Anonymous” group of online hackers, who have been performing DDOS revenge attacks on sites like Paypal which removed support for Wikileaks.  Quite properly so, of course — they were engaged in online crime.  The story is here, and in many other places.  But it is the Financial Times which grasps the real implications and reports it properly.

Global police moves against ‘hacktivists’

An online “hacktivist” group that brought down the websites of perceived opponents of Wikileaks  has itself become the target of an international police crackdown.

The London Metropolitan Police arrested five men in connection with a recent spate of attacks by Anonymous, behind last month’s revenge assault on the websites of a number of organisations that had severed links with WikiLeaks.

In the US, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it executed “more than 40” search warrants on Thursday to gather evidence likely to lead to arrests.

The FBI said it was working on the case along with the UK, “authorities in the Netherlands, Germany and France”.  …

Now I have little sympathy for Assange, nor his supporters.  What Assange was doing was espionage, and he knew it.  DDOS attacks on Paypal were criminal, and those doing them knew it. 

But as I predicted on Dec. 4, the Wikileaks attack on the US is bad for free speech.  The collateral damage from this affair is that all of us are getting a little bit less free.  I am sorry to find myself proven right.

For some things areintolerable to any government, however supportive of free speech it might ordinarily be.  It doesn’t matter what sort of politician you are, you don’t want this sort of thing to happen.  You will make sure it does not happen.  And if taking control of the internet is what it requires, you will take control of the internet.  And in a situation like this, who will oppose you?  No responsible politician opposes matters of national security.  And people have died, remember, because of all this. 

As I wrote then, what Assange did was give politicians a cast iron excuse to take control of the web, and to create the mechanisms to locate and arrest people for online activity.  “Anonymous”, with its evidently criminal activity, simply helped reinforce the perception that politicians had to act. 

Today we see global police forces, coordinating to track down people for what they are doing online.  That never happened before.  It could not have happened before.  It’s probably taken a couple of months of international negotiations.  But who, with all these DDOS attacks going on, could oppose the request?

Does it make anyone reading this feel good, to learn that the police are now geared up internationally to arrest people on the web?  It makes me feel sick. 

Because once these mechanisms for control exist, they will get used for other things.  After 9/11, legislation was passed to make it possible to lock up terror suspects, and rightly so.  But those laws have almost entirely been used for other purposes, as a quick way to arrest and deport people who are in no sense terror suspects.  So it will be here.  We’re watching those mechanisms being created, this very evening.

Giving money and power to the government is like giving money and cars to teenage boys, as P.J.O’Rourke once wrote.  It isn’t going to be good.  Bye-bye online freedom. 

It means that the freedom we have all enjoyed online is diminished sensibly.  It was never possible to track us down, and never worth the trouble, or the cost to invest in infrastructure.  But Mr Assange has given western governments just the incentive they needed to make every form of online tracking legal and technically possible.  And it’s happening right now.

More gay interference with free speech in Britain

I hardly thought, when I wrote one of my rare political posts a couple of hours ago, on the attacks on Christians by gay groups, that I would feel obliged to write another this evening.  But so I must.  For another attempt at politically-motivated censorship has been put into effect this evening.

From the BBC I learn that two men have been charged with the crime of inciting ‘homophobia’ (the latter term invented by gay pressure groups).  Reading between the lines, as one has to do in unfree nations with media censorship, their offence was to express an opinion that homosexuality in wrong in leaflets handed out outside a mosque.  Unusually the men are Moslems.

The law, passed only in March 2010, is an evil piece of work.  Even those determined to do wrong are ashamed to say honestly what they intend, and so the act is weasel-worded.  The charge is “inciting hatred” — because who could be in favour of “hate”? — but of course the real offence, the real action criminalised, is to express opposition to homosexuality.  That makes the issue one of censorship.  For there is no suggesting that they were “inciting violence“; they were merely leafleting in favour of an opinion.

The BBC report is here:

It is the first such prosecution since laws outlawing homophobia came into force in March 2010.

Razwan Javed, 30, and Kabir Ahmed, 27, will appear before magistrates on Friday.

The charges relate to a leaflet, The Death Penalty?, which was distributed outside the Jamia Mosque in Derby in July last year.

The leaflets were also posted through letterboxes in the city.

Mr Javed and Mr Ahmed have both been charged with distributing threatening written material intending to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Note how full of weasel-words the charge is.   I wish I had a copy of the leaflet.

Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Sue Hemming said: “This is the first ever prosecution for this offence and it is the result of close working between the Crown Prosecution Service and Derbyshire Police.

“Following complaints from the public, Derbyshire Police mounted a thorough investigation.

“We have carefully reviewed the evidence provided by the police and are satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to charge these men.”

It sounds to me rather like a show-trial, designed to create law and intimidate others. 

The language used suggests to me that the police and CPS think that this is dubiously legal, and that the act of Parliament is unconstitutional and probably contrary to European “Human Rights” law.  For Moslems, notoriously, themselves have all sorts of rights denied to the rest of us.  It would be interested to learn who precisely authorised this action, who was asked, who decided, and so forth.  But, in Britain today, it is useless to ask such questions. 

I wonder how many Moslems at that mosque come from oppressive regimes where you aren’t allowed to express an opinion?  They must feel right at home.

Some readers may not be familiar with the concept of “lawfare”, the acquiring of power by means of abuse of the legal system, backed by corrupt laws designed to facilitate such abuse.  It has been documented by Ezra Levant, himself a victim.  If you are not, please familiarise yourself with it.   It is, sadly, a common tactic in our day.  Both this and the action against the Christians seem to be examples.

Now begins an interesting discussion.  In politically correct poker, being Moslem gives you points; but so does being gay.  The long-mooted question of which gives you more points will now be decided.

It will also be interesting to see if Moslem groups decide to override this nasty process by an appeal to arms. 

More on Antiochus of Athens

I’m not really all that interested in ancient astrological texts.  What I am very interested in, tho, is that we should have access to ancient literature, whatever it may be.  And it’s really quite hard to access to stuff when you don’t know it exists!

The technical works of antiquity are just as much part of the heritage we receive as the literary works of history or biography or philosophy or theology.  Indeed in some ways they are more significant.  It was the technical works that the Moslems had translated into Arabic by their Christian servants such as Hunain ibn Ishaq in Baghdad in the 10th century.  It was these same works that naturally made their way to Spain, and so into Latin during the middle ages.  A textbook on how to do medicine, how to build walls, how to do military tactics, how to divine the future — this is hard knowledge of a kind that even a barbarous age can respect.

I’ve been reading a 1977 article by David Pingree entitled Antiochus and Rhetorius.  It highlights some of the peculiar features of the transmission of technical works.  Such works are peculiarly liable to acquire additions, subtractions, and revisions.

There is a simple reason for this.  You go to Tacitus to read about the history of the first century.  But you go to Antiochus of Athens because you want to draw up a horoscope.  And if you find Antiochus’ work is a bit unsatisfactory in some respect, you’re quite liable to write notes in the margin of your copy, or to produce a shortened version of the useful bits, or whatever.  You don’t care so much about Antiochus.  It’s what he has to say that matters.  You’re only interested in whether the book helps you do that horoscope or not.

Pingree starts by referring us to Franz Cumont, a man who did more for the weirder stuff than almost any other.  Apparently in 1934 he wrote a paper on Antiochus d’Athenes et Porphyre, AIPhO 2 (1934): 135-56.  (Wonder what “AIPhO” is!)  Cumont reckoned that Antiochus lived between 100 BC and 50 AD, and might be the same as Antiochus of Ascalon, although Pingree points out that Cicero and the others who talk about the latter never suggest he was an astrologer.

Pingree then goes on to discuss the various epitomes of Antiochus’ works, and to state his purpose in the following interesting way:

Antiochus apparently wrote two major works on astrology: an Isagogika known to us from Epitome I (see the discussion on pp. 205-6) and from the (unacknowledged) plagiarisms in Porphyrius’ Isagoge, and a Thesaurus which was one of the sources of Epitome II, from which are derived Epitome IIa and the first part of Epitome III. From Epitome III are derived Epitomes IIb, IIIa, IIIb, and IIIc; and Epitome IV drew upon the same source that was used in the latter half of Epitome III. Of all these epitomes only Epitome IIb bears the name of Rhetorius, but scholars have generally associated his name with all of the works mentioned above except for Epitome I.

This seems very involved!

The object of this paper is to eliminate the confusion that has been created regarding Antiochus and Rhetorius, and to establish a program for editing Rhetorius that may seem unusual to a classicist, but that is necessary in the editing of Greek astrological texts.

The manuscripts cannot be relied on to preserve the original compositions of ancient authors; Ptolemy’s Apotelesmatika is virtually the only such text that seems to have survived relatively unscathed by the “improvements” of scribes, though the variant readings of Hephaestio of Thebes and of “Proclus” indicate that even its text is not completely pure. It is of the utmost importance for understanding the history of the transmission of the texts and the history of Byzantine scholarship in astrology that the various epitomes of each work be carefully distinguished and separately edited.

This is interesting, not least because it has not happened.  Traditions that involve this sort of complexity tend to deter editors.

He then goes on to review the evidence for Antiochus himself.  Most of Porphyry’s Introduction (to the Tetrabiblos/Apotelesmatika of Ptolemy) is borrowed from Antiochus.  But Porphyry only mentions him  by name once, in chapter 38, where he mentions two methods of determining the position of the moon at conception; that of Petosiris, and that of Antiochus.  Hephaistio of Thebes (Apotelesmatika II, 1, 2-6) does the same and also calls Antiochus an Athenian:

In the case of the Moon, others have different things to say. Antiochus the Athenian says that the following method lays claim to some truth. (tr. Robert Schmidt, 1998, vol. 2, p.2)

At two places in chapter 10 of book 2,  Hephaistio says Antiochus and Apollinaris agree in essence with Ptolemy:

Ptolemy sets out these matters in a perfect and wondrous manner, but let there be an illustration of what he has said. The Moon is marking the hour in Taurus at the 25th degree, and none of the benefics either trines or squares or regards the Moon in any other way; Aphrodite, who has the rulership of Taurus, chances to be in the domiciles or bounds of Kronos or Ares. The native having this will of necessity go unnourished; and both Antiochus and Apollinarius are in agreement with these [matters]. (p.22)

and

Next Ptolemy says, “But if the rays of the malefics bear on the places preceding the lights while those of the benefics bear on the succeeding places, the child that has been exposed will be taken up again and will live. And if then it should be configured, etc.” We must do an exegesis of this, since both Antiochus and Apollinarios say nearly the same things. (p.25)

Pingree suggests that these indicate that Antiochus is probably after Ptolemy, then, although I don’t quite see the logic.  He also mentions the Anonymous of 379 which refers to Antiochus, together with Vettius Valens, Antigonus and Heraiscus as writing on the power of the fixed stars.  In addition Firmicus Maternus, writing in the mid-4th century in his Mathesis II 29:2, quotes Ptolemy and Antiochus. 

From this he concludes that Antiochus wrote in the second half of the second century.  The logic, evidently, is that Ptolemy has to be before, while Porphyry, ca. 300, must be after.  This does not seem very firmly established to me.

He then adds that Antiochus, in the Isagogika, references Hermes, Timaeus and Nechepso-Petosiris as authorities.  The citations from Hermes look like the sort of thing that Dorotheus of Sidon was coming out with in the mid first century BC, while Nechepso-Petosiris he has already dated as early first century.  No contradiction there, as Pingree remarks — but surely these all suggest an earlier date than 150-200 AD?

Interestingly Antiochus is used as an authority in Arabic astrological texts from the 9th century on, together with Dorotheus and Vettius Valens; a combination of authors already found in a 6th century source used in epitome III, which itself was used for epitome IV.  Pingree infers that the 6th century source was translated into Arabic.

He then proceeds to analyse all these sources, coming finally to the conclusion:

An edition of Antiochus need include only Epitomes I, II, and IIa, together with the fragments in Arabic.

The remainder he ascribes to Rhetorius.

“Epitome I” contains the remains of the Isagogika.  It is found in ms. Parisinus graecus 2425 (15th century), folios 232v-237v, where it forms chapter <62> of book 6.  It has been printed as CCAG vol.8 part 3, p. 111-18.  Pingree gives a table of contents, and remarks on the many passages which are also found in Porphyry.  The text is incomplete in this, the unique surviving manuscript.  The heading in the manuscript is “book 1 of the summary of the Isagogika of Antiochus”.   There are 28 chapters, the last of which is incomplete.  There may have been further chapters, and clearly there should be more than one book.

“Epitome II” contains the remains of the Thesaurus. It is found in ms. Florence Laurentian 28, 34 (11th century), on folios 84-93v.  Some chapters cover topics from the Isagogika, but others are word for word identical with Porphyry, and one cites Paulus of Alexandria who composed the second edition of his own Isagogika in 378 AD!  So this epitome is probably a work of the 5-6th century.  It is printed in CCAG vol. 1, p.140-64.  There are 53 chapters.  A translation by Robert Schmidt (1993) is available from Project Hindsight.

“Epitome IIa” is a rewriting of various chapters of epitome II, undertaken ca. 1375 by the school of John Abramius.  Pingree lists five manuscripts, one of which was destroyed in the 1904 fire of the Royal Library in Turin.  A further six manuscripts he lists as deteriores.  So “epitome IIa” is merely an additional textual source for epitome II.

Returning to Robert Schmidt’s translation of Antiochus of Athens, I have had difficulty relating his statements to CCAG.  He writes:

The present translation bas been made from two sets of excerpts edited in the Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum. The first set was excerpted from Rhetorius’ large compendium (no longer extant in its entirety), and Rhetorius had himself made these excerpts from a Thesaurus (or Treasury) of Antiochus. This set of excerpts was edited in Vol. I. p. 149 ff. by F. Boll. Many of the entries in this collection were apparently taken over almost verbatim by Porphyry in his Introduction to the Tetrabiblos.

The second set of excerpts (from Vol. III, p. 107 ff. also edited by F. Boll) is identified as being from the same Thesaurus of Antiochus. However. the sequence of excerpts seems to be broken with apparent excerpts from another works or works inserted. Most of these insertions are attributed to Heliodorus by the modem editor. A few of the sections are of doubtful authorship. We have translated those that the editor has attributed to Antioobus with some certainty.

But there is no work of Antiochus listed on p.107 of vol. 3 of the CCAG.  The material he translates is in 9 chapters.  And the material he lists for vol. 1 as beginning on “p. 109″ in fact begins on p.108.  When I have more time, I must try to reconcile these.

UPDATE: The comments on this post are well worth reading.  In particular Jose tells us that the “second set of excerpts” translated by Schmidt are in fact found in vol. 7 of the CCAG (not vol. 3) on pp. 107-128.  Indeed they are, under the heading, Excerpta ex Antiochi thesauro et ex Heliodoro.

The first set of excepts translated by Schmidt seem to  be those on vol. 1 p.140-164: Rhetorii quaestiones astrologicae et Antiochi thesauris excerptae. So Schmidt is indeed translating “epitome II”.



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