The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 4

We continue with the story of Alexander.  The Abbasid caliphs, for whom Eutychius wrote, were basically Persians, and so the destruction of the Achaemenids by Alexander – who is treated as the king of the “Rum”! – was obviously sensitive territory.  Eutychius copes with this inconvenience by denying Alexander his military victory, and instead attributing the defeat of Darius to treachery.  One doubts that anyone was fooled, but the flattery doubtless benefited the author.

I notice that Google Translate continues to mistranslate the numerals.  I must recheck all the numbers of years from A to B.

14 And when he came to the king, the messenger told him what Alexander had done.  Then Alexander gathered together his compatriots and his men, and said to them, “There are three ways to accomplish things:  with great forethought, with the ability to realize them, and with the implementation of both with a firm intention. Whoever of you is of this opinion will get what he wants and, whoever shares this will join with me, but whoever is not of the same opinion should stay away from me.” They replied, “God has united these three things in our king, while we have some who own one and some who own another, but no one is able to effectively implement what he has.”  Alexander was fully satisfied with their words.  Then he made all the arrangements and went out against Dāriyūs.  They met at al-Gazirah[1] and the war was protracted on both sides for forty days.  Dāriyūs had five trenches dug, and he placed in each of them a general (“isbahid”) at the head of twelve thousand men and every man went out to fight every five days.  Dāriyūs then ordered his men to bring him two heads of Rūm every day.  And in fact, two heads of the Rūm or one only were delivered to him daily.  Alexander was saddened at that in his heart and his rage reached its peak. He then sent to Dāriyūs: “We are almost annihilating each other. I therefore propose a way that allows us and you to come out of this; that is, that you deploy your men with a gap, so that I can take the way through your troops on the side where you are, and so can go back to my country.  We, indeed, have no intention of fleeing in the face of deployed troops, because such a thing would be a dishonour that could never be washed away, a spot that could never be purified and an unforgivable ignominy.”  Dāriyūs replied, “We do not think it appropriate to give you what you ask for, or see the reason for it.”  When he saw this, Alexander was thoughtful, with his head in his hands, looking for a way out.  Then he said to his men: “O Rūm, this means we are feeble and with little strength to win.  If there is any one among you, or among the Persians, who can suggest some stratagem in this matter in order to get us out of such anguish, he will have half the realm of the Persians and the Rūm and half of what is at the junction [of the whole territory]”.  The words of Alexander were heard by Khisnisf and Adarshīst[2], the sons of Adarbakht, the captains of the guard of Dāriyūs.  In another text it is said “of the armies”.  When it came to arms, they fell on Dāriyūs with their swords and struck him to the ground. The Persians were put to flight, and many were killed on the field.  It happened then that Alexander came to Dāriyūs, and saw him in that state, and he dismounted from his horse, rested his head on his chest, washed his face, bended his wounds, kissed him and wept, said, “Praise God who has not given it to any of my men to kill you. What we now see was already written in the foreknowledge of God.  Ask whatever you want.  For my part I grant you the right to ask three things, but you will also allow me to ask for one.”  Dāriyūs said to him: “I want you not to overthrow the nobles and dignitaries of Fāris, and to guarantee their safety.  I want you to not destroy the temples of fire, and to care for their security.  I want you to do justice on those who killed me, and return him the same, because he will certainly betray your favour if he is released as he has already betrayed mine.”  Alexander assured him that he would do what he had asked, and said, “What I want from you is that you give me your daughter Rūshtaq, and that this is done through you and with your blessing.” Dāriyūs replied, “I grant her to you in marriage, provided that you entrust the kingdom, after you, to a son that you have from her.”  Alexander consented and Dāriyūs gave his daughter to him in marriage.  Then he died.  Alexander then ordered him to be buried, wrapping him in the most precious linen that the king possessed and commanded the soldiers, Greeks and Persians, to march with the weapons [in salute] before his coffin.  Alexander and his most prominent men followed the parade to the place of the burial.  Then Alexander said, “If it had been my task to reduce Dāriyūs to the state in which you saw him, I would have done it because he was in any case my enemy.  Great is therefore the service of he who has spared me such an action and I feel I must reward him.  Come before me, and I swear solemnly in the name of God, that I will exalt him and raise him up above all my men.”  Then Khisnisf and Adarshīst, sons of Adarbakht, went on to him, and said to him, “We are the leaders of the guard of Dāriyūs, who have spared you such an action.  Therefore, give us what you promised us.”  [Alexander] ordered them to be crucified on two great crosses, saying: “These two men deserved to get what I ordered for them, because of their broken promise and for having betrayed their king. If they have not been loyal to their king, they will not be to anyone else.  I gave them what I had promised them and raised them above all my men.”  He then ordered gifts to be made to the mother, wife and daughter of Dāriyūsh, to give them the appropriate clothes to their rank and surround them with all honour.  He then ordered that gifts and clothing should be given to the Persian generals and notables as appropriate to their rank, benefits and expectations and confirmed them in their offices.  For these things they loved him, and held him dear to them.  Then Alexander invited those who wished to follow him in the invasion of India.  They went with him, glad and ready to fight.

15. Alexander thus reigned over seven provinces. From the captivity of Babil to the reign of Alexander 263 years had passed; from the reign of David to that of Alexander, 740; from the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt to the reign of Alexander, 1,346; from Abraham to the reign of Alexander, 1,853; from Fāliq to the reign of Alexander, 2,394; from the flood to the reign of Alexander, 2,925; from Adam to the reign of Alexander, 5,181.  The teacher of Alexander was Aristātālis, the philosopher.  Also in the city of Athinah was a wise man named Diyūğānūs [3].




  1. [1]I.e. in Mesopotamia.
  2. [2]Arrian in the Anabasis III, 21, calls them “Satibarzan and Barsaente.”
  3. [3]Aristotle and Diogenes.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 3

Let us carry on with Eutychius.  We reach the times of Alexander.

10. After him reigned his son Qamīsūs for nine years.[1]  After him, Smardhiyūs the Magian reigned for a single year.  He was called the Magian because a Persian named Zarādast appeared in his days, under whose influence the religion of the Magi became official, and he instituted the worship at the temples of fire.  After him, Dārā I reigned for twenty years.[2]  After him reigned Artahshāst, nicknamed “Longimanus” for twenty-four years.

In his time there lived in Greece in the city of Quwā[3], the physician Buqrāt, master of medical art.[4]  Sa`īd ibn Batrīq the physician says: “It is true what Ğālinūs says in his commentary to “Kitāb Iman Buqrāt wa ‘ahdihī” [5] where he asserts: ‘The king of Persia sent messengers to Hippocrates with a lot of money, asking him to go to him.  But Hippocrates did not consent to his request and did not go to him because he did not consider it right to care for the Persian enemies of the Greeks.’ Hunayn ibn Ishāq reports, in his translation of this book from Greek into Arabic, that Galen has conveyed that Hippocrates did not go to Artakhshāsht nicknamed “Longimanus” because it was said that at the time of this king the Persians had been affected by the disease called ” Al-Mawāriq”.[6]  In another text it is said that it was an epizootic disease.[7] [The king] then sent the satrap of the city of Quwāsalah to give Hippocrates a hundred “qintār” of gold, and sent it to him with honors and signs of esteem, to heal the Persians from the illness that had struck them.  But Hippocrates refused because he did not feel right to help and care for the enemies of the Greeks.”

11. Artakhshāsht Longimanus died and after him Artakhshāsht the Great reigned for thirty years.  After him reigned Makidūniyūs for three years.  After him reigned Sa‘adaniyūs for three years.[8] After him, Dārā II, nicknamed an-Nākit[9], reigned for seventeen years.  After him, Artakhshāsht, one of the sons of his brother Kūrish II, reigned for twenty-two years.  The wise men and philosophers of his time living in Greece were Hiraqlus, Mālūs, Fīthāghūras, Suqrātis, Sīlūn the legislator, Zīnūn, Abindaflis.[10] After him reigned his son Artakhshāsht known as Akhūs[11] for twenty years. Akhus, king of the Persians, gathered the army and marched on Egypt. The king of Egypt went out, and occupied the land. The king of Egypt, who was then the Pharaoh Shānāq[12], fearing to fall into the hands of Akhūs, King of the Persians, and be tortured, cut off his hair, shaved his beard and fled in disguise to the town of Maqidūniyah.[13] Akhūsh, king of the Persians, built the citadel known as Qasr ash-Shama in Fustāt, Egypt. He also built an imposing temple for the house of fire known today under the name of the church of Mār Tādurus.”  The king of the town of Maqidūniyah was Philip, father of Alexander. Akhus, King of the Persians, died.  After him reigned his son Arsīs, nicknamed “an-Nākit” for eleven years.  The philosophers and wise men of his time living in the city of Athīnā and in Greece were Aflātūn, Kinsālūn, Dīmūkrātis, Abullūniyūs and Suqrāt.[14]

12. Arsīs, king of the Persians, died.  After him, his son Dāriyūs reigned for seven years until he was killed by Alexander, who had become king of the kings who were in Mossul, Bābil, Fāris and  Āmid.  The cause for which Alexander killed Dāriyūs, king of the Persians, was this.  When his father Philip died, Alexander succeeded him on the throne of Makidūniyah at the age of sixteen.  Dāriyūsh, king of Fāris, knowing that Alexander was reigning over the Rūm after his father, tried to subdue him and wrote a letter to him as follows: “It has come to my notice that you have taken to reign over the Rūm without my permission.  If you had followed your father’s judicious conduct and acted according to our agreements, it would have been better for you and your prosperity would be long.  But the inexperience of your youth has induced you to behave with foolishness, and fools also are those who are with you.  Desist from the state in which you are, and send the tribute for yourself and your country, acknowledge your mistake and do it soon, without delay, otherwise I will move against you with the men of Fāris, and with them I will trample your country, I will kill your men, and I will deprive you of your prosperity.  I send you something that, if you can count it, you will know how many are my men and my friends.  Peace [to you]”. And he sent to him by a messenger, a qafīr of sesame seeds.

13. The messenger of Dāriyūs presented himself to Alexander and handed him the letter and the sesame seeds.  Alexander summoned his generals and read them the letter of Dāriyūs.  Then he said to them, “If you are gathered together, and you unite, you will beat him, but if you are divided he will get the better of you.” One by one they expressed their opinion and Alexander answered them, saying, “I feel that we will conquer Dāriyūs. It is proof of this, that he compared his men to sesame, which is a insubstantial food, and one that is eaten without effort. I feel that his kingdom will be ours.”  His men said to him, “This is the will of God.” Then Alexander wrote a letter to Dāriyūs in these terms: “From him who has become king by the will of God, from Alexander, the servant of God and King of the Greeks, to the excellent Dāriyūs.  I understand the content of your letter, what you describe as a transgression to your order, and what you are threatening me, that if I do not abandon the state in which I am and delay to send what you order me to send you, you will move against me with your men of Fars.  But your heart has spoken what your hand can not take, nor your thinking reach, because, in truth, I will come out against you with the lions of the Greeks, and then I will let you know how matters stand at our meeting. I send you something to be able to anticipate the strong flavour of my men. Peace [to you]”. And he sent him a small bag of mustard.

  1. [1]Cambyses II, son of Cyrus.
  2. [2]Darius I.
  3. [3]Cos?
  4. [4]I.e. Hippocrates.
  5. [5]I.e. the Book of the Oath and Testament of Hippocrates.”  Cf. Strohmaier, G., “Hunayn ibn Ishāq et le Serment Hippocratique”, in: Arabica 21 (1974), pp. 318-323.
  6. [6]More commonly “mayrùq”, i.e. fungus or jaundice.
  7. [7]I.e. an epidemic among animals, often communicable to men.
  8. [8]Sogdianus.
  9. [9]Darius II Notus.
  10. [10]Heraclitus, Malus (?), Pythagoras, Socrates, Solon, Zeno, Empedocles.
  11. [11]Artaxerxes III Ochus.
  12. [12]This must be Nectanebo II.
  13. [13]I.e. to Macedonia.
  14. [14]Plato, Xenophon, Democrates, Apollonius, and Socrates.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 2

Let’s carry on with Old Testament narratives from the time of Daniel.  It would interesting to know if any Persian sources were used for any of this.

5. After him, his son Awīl Marūdakh[1] reigned for twenty-three years.  He released Yahūnākhīm, king of the Israelites, from prison, and put on him the garments of honour, and treated him with every respect, and set free all the prisoners of Israel.  In Egypt the prophet Irimiyah[2] was stoned to death and was buried.  It is said that when Alexander entered Egypt, he brought the body of the prophet Irimiya to Alexandria and buried it there.  Awīl Marūdakh died.

6.  After him, his son Baltāssar reigned for three years and was killed. After he had eaten and drunk with his companions, and having become drunk, he had brought in the gold and silver vessels of the temple that his grandfather Bakhtanassar had taken away from Ūrashalīm[3] and drank from them, ordering his companions to do likewise.  But while he slept in the room, behold he saw the fist of a hand move on the wall, and the fingers of the hand write.  He was greatly frightened, and gathered together the wise men of Bābil, to read the writing and explain it.  But they did not succeed.  They said to the king, “There is here an Israelite named Dāniyāl whom your grandfather Bakhtanassar highly honoured and held in great consideration.  He will read it to you, and explain this to you”.  The king then summoned Dāniyāl.  Dāniyāl read the writing and recited the writing as follows: “Mānī. Thākāl. Fārās”. Then he said: “Mānī means ‘God has made your kingdom perfect and great.’ Thākāl means ‘The kingdom, already perfect, is destined to end’ and Fārās means ‘Your kingdom will be divided between the Medes and the Persians'”.  The king gave a mantle of honour to Dāniyāl and put a gold collar on his neck.  That same night, King Baltāssar was killed.

7. Then Dāriyūsh, son of Asrīr, the Mede, that is, of the house of Mādānī, reigned after him for a single year.  He took Dāniyāl and appointed him chief of his soldiers.  But his generals were jealous, and sought to discredit him in the eyes of the king, saying, “Dāniyāl is marching against the king with the intent of killing him”.  The king then cast Dāniyāl into a pit full of hungry lions.  Then, on his own, the next day he removed Dāniyāl from the pit.  The lions had not touched him.  The king felt very afraid, and threw in the pit the generals who had slandered him, and they were all devoured by the lions.  The king reconfirmed Dāniyāl as chief of his soldiers, and supreme organizer of his army.

8.  On the death of Dāriyūsh, the kingdom passed into the hands of the Persians.  The first Persian to reign was Kūrish the Persian.[4]  He also appointed Dāniyāl as chief of the army.  There was in Bābil a huge bronze idol called Bīl.[5]  To this idol there was offered daily twelve “makkūk” [6] of flour, forty rams and six divine measures.  Every day the king prostrated himself and worshipped the idol.[7]  But Dāniyāl responded, saying, “The servants of the idol are those who eat what is given to them as a daily ration”.  The king then called the servants, threatened them and confirmed [what Dāniyāl had said to him].  The king then ordered the demolition of the idol and that the servants should be put to death.

There was also, in Bābil, a great snake that the people of the city worshiped.  Dāniyāl said to the king: “Give me permission, and I will kill it.”  Dāniyāl then took some sausage, some pitch, and some hair, kneaded them together and fed them to the serpent.  As soon as the snake ate this, it died. When the inhabitants of Bābil saw what Dāniyāl had done, they were angry and sought to discredit him in the king’s eyes, saying: “Dāniyāl wants to kill you”.  The king was irritated with him, and threw him into a pit full of hungry lions, where he remained for six days.  The lions were given food, daily, of two bulls, and two rams. But during those six days, no meat was given to the lions.  In the land of Judah, in a place called Tiqwa‘, there was the prophet Habaqūq.[8]  He was cooking lentils and prepared a soup in a bowl to feed the harvesters.  But an angel from heaven called to him and said to him, “Habaqūq, bring the food you have with you to Dāniyāl in Bāhil.  He has been in the pit of the lions for six days and has not eaten any food”.  Then the angel of God grabbed the prophet Habaqūq by his hair and brought him to Bābil with the food that he had.  [Habaqūq] appeared at the pit where Dāniyāl was, called to him, and said to him: “Dāniyāl, I am Habaqūq.  God has sent me to you with food for you to eat”.  Dāniyāl came out of the pit, ate and praised God, then went back down into the pit.  The angel then took Habaqūq and brought him back to the land of Judah.  Then the king repented of what he had done to Dāniyāl and ordered them to pull him out of the pit.  The lions had not touched him.  The king was surprised, and restored to Dāniyāl the post of chief of the army.  The reign of Kūrish the Persian lasted for three years.[9]  Then he died.

9. After him reigned Akhshūwīrus for twelve years.  After him reigned his son Kūrish, known as Dāriyūs, for thirty years.  In the first year of his reign, Dāniyāl the prophet died.  In the second year of his reign he ordered the Israelites to return to Ūrashalīm and to [re]build the city and the temple.  This was because Kūrish the Persian had married an Israelite named Malihāt, sister of Zurūbābil, and made her queen according to the Persian custom.  Kūrish loved her very much and when she asked him to return the Israelites to Ūrashalīm with her brother Zurūbābil, the king agreed.  So Kūrish ordered Zurūbābil to reign at Ūrashalīm.  In his days prophesied Anagua[10] and Zakariya, son of Hağliyah.  He was the Ra’s al-Ğālūth[11] and he was entrusted with the task of [re]building the temple.  There was with him Izra, son of Sirāyā, the priest, and a multitude of the Israelites.  From the captivity of Bābil to the [re]building of the Temple seventy years had passed.  The construction lasted four years.  Zurūbābil, son of Salātiyil, son of Akhiyah, known as Yahūnākhīm, king of Judah, whom Bakhtanassar had deported and put into prison, waited for the construction.  Zurūbābil reigned over the Israelites at Ūrashalīm.  One year after the temple was rebuilt, the priest, `Izrā, died.  He had been a priest before the arrival of Yūsha, son of the priest Yahūsādūq,[12] and seeing the Jews commit many errors against the Torah, he wrote for them the Torah that they currently have.  He reformed the dictates of their law and taught them their religion.  Kūrish-Dāriyūsh, king of Bābil, died.

  1. [1]Or Evil-Merodach, as our bibles memorably label him.
  2. [2]Jeremiah.
  3. [3]Jerusalem
  4. [4]Cyrus.
  5. [5]Baal.
  6. [6]A makkuk is about 55 litres of dry material.
  7. [7]I wonder if something is missing from the text after this sentence – it reads as if someone accused Daniel, who then replies.
  8. [8]The biblical account does not mention that Habakuk lived at Tecoa, modern Khirbet Tiqwa‘.
  9. [9]Much longer in reality; from 559-530 BC.
  10. [10]Haggai.
  11. [11]“27. The wording is obscure and very difficult to interpret.” – Pirone.  It looks like a title, like “Reis” i.e. “overseer”, to me.
  12. [12]The actions of Joshua son of Yozadak are referred to in the books of Esdras and Haggai.

Forced marriage in saints’ lives – by Anthony Alcock

Anthony Alcock has written a short note on a hagiographical theme; where monks are kidnapped, and forced into marriage.  This appears in St. Jerome’s Life of Malchus in the 4th century, and also in the 9th century Life of Samuel of Kalamoun.

It’s here:

English translation in progress of Cyril of Alexandria’s “Contra Julianum”

A correspondent has advised me that Matthew Crawford is engaged in making the first ever English translation of Cyril of Alexandria’s Contra Julianum, the 10-book work refuting Julian the Apostate’s attack on the Christians.  And it is true!  Dr C. has uploaded the preface and opening sections of book1 to his account here.

This is excellent news.  Making an English translation is going to be very hard work; some “900 pages of difficult Greek”.  But it is great to learn that someone is going to attempt it.

More power to his elbow!

From my diary

About a week ago summer arrived.  The temperatures rose by 10 degrees, and it is now in the upper 20’s centigrade outside, and the upper teens at night.  The happiest thing to do is to drive around in air-conditioned comfort, and observe the world from there.  Now is the time to make outdoor visits to Roman sites in Britain!

On Monday I drove to Norwich.  The playing-card shape of Venta Icenorum is visible from the Ipswich road, which runs along a rise at that point.  A medieval church stands in one corner of the deserted Roman city, as so often in Britain.  But the tower was largely shrouded by the leaves of the oaks and other trees that have grown up around it.

It’s not the weather to sit indoors over a computer, unless you are being paid for it.  My own time at home is now drawing to a close; in just over a week, I shall be back to work.

In the meantime, I wonder whether I should make a day-trip to Roman Leicester?  I’ve never been there, and I gather that there are considerable remains to be seen.

I’m taking something of an interest in studies on the way in which Eusebius quotes other writers.  I have Inowlocki’s study of the citations from Jewish writers[1].  I have today ordered a copy of Carotenuta’s Tradizione e innovazione nella Historia ecclesiastica di Eusebio di Cesarea, which apparently is also important.  I was sad to discover that no copies of the work are held by any British library, according to the COPAC union catalogue.  Fortunately it was cheap.  Even more fortunately, my insurance company recently paid me some token compensation for unwanted spam emails, and that nicely covers the cost.  It should arrive next week, thanks to the miracle of Amazon.

I’m discovering that a fair bit of Eusebius scholarship is going on at the moment.  Of course as an outsider, I don’t get to hear about a lot of it.  I do get the impression that there might be something of a clique involved.  But so long as good work gets done, that’s the main thing.

I’ve been meaning to scan a volume of a translation of the first five books of Livy.  It stands on my shelf, disbound.  I merely haven’t got around to it.

Nor can I find any energy to proceed with translating Eutychius right now.  It’s summer, chaps.  Get your straw hats on, and get out on the river on a punt.  Or something.

A correspondent tells me that the new two-volume German edition of Cyril of Alexandria’s Contra Julianum, against Julian the Apostate, is now out, in the GCS series (NF 20 and 21).  Better yet, the Sources Chrétiennes series are at work.  Long ago Pierre Evieux edited and translated books 1 and 2 of the work for the SC.  Now SC 583 has appeared, volume 2 of the SC Contre Julien, and it contains books 3-5, from the new German text, with French translation.  I’m glad that they have decided not to replace the Evieux volume.  Evieux’s translation was simply splendid!

Cyril’s work was in at least 20 volumes, and is important because of long verbatim citations from Julian the Apostate’s work against the Christians.  Cyril in fact rearranged the order of Julian’s rambling text, and made his own work consist (from book 2 onwards) of quote followed by refutation.

Unfortunately only the first 10 books survive, plus fragments from the next 10.  It has been estimated that 30 books would be needed to cover all of Julian; but whether books 21-30 ever existed is unknown.

Long ago I felt that the world needed an English translation of this work.  I reluctantly approached the National Lottery for money, only to be contemptuously rejected.  Oh well.  I never liked the idea of taking lottery money anyway.  I think today that I wouldn’t do that.

It’s a fascinating work, anyway.  It’s good to see it made more readily available.

It’s still a sunny day.  Enough.  I’m going to take my own advice and get out there!

  1. [1]Eusebius and the Jewish Authors.

Porphyry on quotation practices in antiquity

An interesting volume has come my way on the quotations in Eusebius.  It is Sabrina Inowlocki, Eusebius and the Jewish Authors: His citation technique in an apologetic context, Brill, 2006.  This, remarkably, was a PhD thesis in French.

The study is interesting enough that I should like to read the paper volume. I have a PDF but reading more than a bit on screen is impossible. But sadly the price at $150 renders that impossible.  However the PDF is indexed, and as a result I keep finding good things.

Chapter 2 is about the way that ancient authors quoted sources.  In chapter 2E, Faithfulness to the Text Cited, we find the following statements:

The changes brought by an author to the cited passage vary substantially. They generally consist in the omission or addition of words, in grammatical changes, in the combination of citations, and in the modification of the primary meaning of the quotation. These changes may be deliberate, which means that they are made by the citing author specifically in order to appropriate the content of the citation.52 They may also be accidental. If deliberate, the changes result from the author’s wish to adjust the citation to his own purposes, to ‘modernize’ the stylistic expression of a more ancient writer, or to adapt the grammar of the cited text to that of the citing text. It may be noted that deliberate changes do not always stem from the citing author’s eagerness to tamper with the primary meaning of a passage, as modern scholars often suspect and harshly condemn.

A passage from Porphyry, cited in the Praeparatio, is particularly revealing. It shows the methodology applied to the cited text, even by an author who was eager to preserve the primary meaning of that cited text:

(I omit the Greek, since I can’t paste it and don’t have time to retype it tonight)

To such you will impart information without any reserve. For I myself call the gods to witness, that I have neither added, nor taken away from the meaning of the responses, except where I have corrected an erroneous phrase, or made a change for greater clearness, or completed the metre where defective, or struck out anything that did not conduce to the purpose; so that I have preserved the sense of what was spoken untouched, guarding against the impiety of such changes, rather than against the avenging justice that follows from the sacrilege.(53)

53.  De philosophia ex oraculis I, p.109-110 (Wolff) = PE IV. 7. 1.

The sense, in other words, is what Porphyry transmits, not the exact words before him.  This is perhaps easier to understand if we remember that the copies before him were manuscripts, and so could easily contain corruptions.

Inowlocki goes on to say:

This passage emphasizes the prominence of the meaning of the text over its phrasing: The nous is clearly opposed to the lexis.54 Porphyry claims not to have tampered with the noemata of the oracles but he does not claim that he has not changed the terms and expressions of the cited text.55 Yet it should be noted that the respect shown to the meaning of the oracles is due to their sacredness. Similar attitudes are also found among Jewish and Christian authors regarding the modification of the Scriptures. Such changes are even more harshly condemned in the Jewish and Christian traditions.56[1] This was not the case with secular texts, as can be seen from Porphyry’s use of citations in his De abstinentia.57 Porphyry was especially gifted in manipulating texts, although the concept of manipulation hardly applies to antiquity. At any rate, the neo-platonic philosopher was not the only one to do so. Plutarch, who is well known for his extensive use of quotations, does not hesitate to transform the passages he cites by omitting, adding or modifying terms or expressions occurring in the quotation. Not even Plato was spared by him.

However, it should be emphasized that our scholarly criteria of citation are not relevant to the practice of ancient authors. Purpose and methodology differ dramatically. Actually, that which we might consider falsification was viewed by ancient writers as a methodology in explicating the true, authentic meaning of a text. In a sense, in the ancient authors’ view, modifying the text cited was meant to express its essence more clearly.59

In addition to the distinction between sacred and secular texts, the treatment of prose citations differs from that of poetic citations. Indeed, it was more difficult to modify poetic texts because of the metric rules. Moreover, in many cases, the readership knew them by heart. This was especially the case with Homer. As Stanley has pointed out in a study on Paul,60 the status of Homeric poems in Hellenism was to some extent comparable to that of the Scriptures in Judaism and Christianity. Both texts constituted the most authoritative text. Homer had been critically edited in the Hellenistic period and this ‘vulgate’ was in general faithfully copied by second-century C.E. authors. This observation may probably also apply to Euripides’ and Sophocles’ tragedies.

However, the poetic text cited by the ancient authors is not always identical to that which has reached us through direct transmission, i.e., in manuscripts. Several explanations other than the responsibility of the citing authors may be suggested. Firstly, the authors often cited passages from memory and therefore made mistakes;61 secondly, in the case of Homeric quotations, the authors could use a text other than the Alexandrian ‘vulgate;’ thirdly, most authors excerpted passages from florilegia rather than from the original text;62 finally, some differences may be due to the corruptions to which medieval manuscripts were subject.

As for prose texts, they could be more easily modified thanks to the flexibility of their form. They could easily be summarized, paraphrased and transformed. It is worth noting that the faithfulness to the text also depends on the feelings of the quoting author towards the quoted author. An author such as Strabo, whose faithfulness to the Homeric text has been shown by Stanley, proves to be rather loose in his citations from Herodotus.63 Likewise, Plutarch quotes Herodotus faithfully only in half of the cases64 whereas it is well known that he cites Homer faithfully.

The different methodologies in modifying a text may be presented as follows:65 …

But here we must halt our quotation.  Most of the footnotes refer to studies.

Isn’t this fascinating stuff?  It is really useful to hear Porphyry’s statement.  It is really useful to hear some solid examples of how ancient writers handle these things.

The author, Sabrina Inowlocki, is a Eusebius scholar, and her study of the quotations in the Apodeixis (i.e. the Praeparatio Evangelica and Demonstratio Evangelica) is really interesting.  But it’s the kind of book to read through.

What a murder it is, that so useful a volume, funded by a tax grant, should be obscured by such a high price!

  1. [1]56. See, e.g. Josephus, Antiquities I. 17, X. 218 and Against Apion I. 42; Letter of ps.Aristeas 310…

Altercatio Simonis et Theophili online in English!

Anthony Alcock has translated a much longer piece for us all this time – the Altercatio Simonis et Theophili, or, Disputation between Simon the Jew and Theophilus the Christian.  This has been dated to the 5th century AD, and is the oldest Latin dialogue between Christians and Jews.  It relies extensively on proof-texts.

This is enormously useful to have accessible online! Thank you, Dr. A!

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 1

Let’s return to the start of chapter 7, in Old Testament times.  Compared to the last two chapters, this chapter is not very long.  So let’s have a crack at it.  Some of this story might be a little familiar…  Read the names aloud, and see if you recognise them.

1. In the eighteenth year of the reign of Bakhtanassar, i.e. in the year before the destruction of Bayt al-Maqdis, [the king] made an idol of gold sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and erected it in the centre of the city of Bābil, ordering all the people of his kingdom to worship it.  Anyone who refused to worship it would be burned in the furnace.  Bakhtanassar chose three young Israelites and named the first Sīdrākh, the second Mīsākh and the third ‘Abdanāghū.  These three young men refused to prostrate themselves in front of the idol and the king commanded them to be thrown into the furnace.  But God sent them an angel from heaven who extinguished the fire, and the fire was changed for them into coolness and health.  Seeing this, Bakhtanassar ordered them to be taken out of the furnace, scrutinized them thoroughly and found no traces of fire injuries either on their bodies or on their garments.  This increased his astonishment, and he was afraid, and honored them, invoking his power and making them heads of his household.

2. In the fourth year after the destruction of Bayt al-Maqdis, Bakhtanassar had a dream.  He therefore summoned the interpreters of dreams and the astrologers and said to them:  “Tell me about the dream I had and give me an explanation, otherwise I will kill you.”  They replied,  “How will we know what dream you had, if you do not tell us what you dreamed about, so that we can give it an interpretation?”  Bakhtanassar became angry and thought about having them beheaded.  The prophet Dāniyāl was still young when the deportation had taken place.  Bakhtanassar had taken him for himself, and had educated him in his house covering him with favours.  He then sent to call him.  Dāniyal said to him: “I will tell you the dream you had, and I will give you an interpretation.  The king saw a great idol, which looked like a beast.  Its head was of gold, its hands of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, the legs of iron, and the feet of clay.  Then the king saw a huge boulder fall from a mountain, and batter and shatter the idol until nothing was left of it.  The boulder then became an imposing mountain and filled the earth.  This is what the king saw.  The interpretation is then the following.  You, O king, are the head of that idol, the gold.  After you will rule one less than you, the silver.  After him will rule a king less than him, the bronze.  After him will rule a king less than him, the iron.  After him will rule a king less than him, the clay.  Then after him will rule a great king whose kingdom will never end.  And just as you saw a boulder fall from the mountain alone and break the idol and fill the earth, so that king will reign over all the earth forever”.  Bakhtanassar then ordered them to give new clothes to Dāniyāl, to cover him with honour, preferred him to all the wise men of Bābīl, appointed him chief of his house and called him Baltāssar.

3. In the fifth year of the captivity of Bābil and the destruction of Ūrashalīm, Hizqiyāl, son of Yūzi, prophesied at Bābil, in the place called Karmila, Bārūkh, son of Nāriyā, and his brother Sirās, Dāniyāl of the house of David, Mardukhāf of the house of Benjamin, Hakāy, Zakhariyā, son of Bārāshiyā, Malākhīya, ‘Izrā e Nāhūm.  In Egypt there were Habaqūq, the tribe of Simeon, and the prophet Irimiyā.  In Bābil the Israelites worshiped idols, and the prophet Hizqiyāl reproached them for their conduct.  But the magnates of the Israelites attacked him and killed him.

4. In the twenty-fifth year of the reign of Bakhtanassar, he marched against Egypt, devastated it and killed its king, thus extending his kingdom over Egypt, Syria, the land of Judah, of the Rūm, of the Greeks, the Fāris, of Bābil and of Mossul.  Bakhtanassar reigned for forty-five years, nineteen of which were before the destruction of Ūrashalīm and the captivity of the Israelites, and twenty-six after the destruction of Ūrashalīm.  King Bakhtnassar died.

Reading the Italian translation of Methodius “De resurrectione”

The Italian translation of Methodius of Olympus, De resurrectione, has arrived.  I was able to order it from the publisher without undue difficulty (although would probably have been easier, had I remembered them!)  I have now scanned some of it, which means that I can now use Google Translate on the Italian.  Google Translate handles Italian well, so long as you read intelligently.

I thought that I would give a page-worth, on the Old Slavonic translation of Methodius.  Here it is:

The Corpus Methodianum, however, was preserved in Old Slavonic. This translation was supposedly made in Bulgaria around the tenth century and was made accessible to the West by the end of the nineteenth century in the German translation of Bonwetsch, who edited all the works of Methodius for the critical edition except those considered inauthentic. This Old Slavonic translation contains the almost complete text of De autexusio, De resurrectione, and De lepra, and also that of other works of which there was no mention in ancient testimonies, and of which there were no Greek remnants (De cibis, De sanguisuga, De vita). The Greek text used for this translation seems to have been in good condition. It is translated to the letter, except in some passages where we are faced with summaries (it is difficult to determine whether this was done by the Old Slavonic translator, or found by him in the original). As we have mentioned earlier, Musurillo believes that the writings of Methodius have been handed down in Slavonic because of a happy error of attribution, because of the homonym with the 9th century evangelizer of the Slavs. Bracht criticizes this suggestion, noting that Musurillo does not provide reasons for this affirmation, and considers it simpler to attribute the interest in preserving his writings to the uninterrupted tradition of the Eastern Church, which continued to venerate Methodius as a saint, martyr and Doctor of the Church. Bracht does not exclude the idea that the influence of the homonym, Methodius, apostle of the Slavs, might have helped preserve the writings; but not – as Musurillo suggests – by error in attribution. In his opinion, a stronger reason – in turn already advanced by Ivan Dujchev – would be this: the thesis of the De autexusio would be considered very useful in order to counteract the doctrinal errors of the Bogomil heresy (a heresy that arose in Bulgaria around the 10th century). These heretics affirmed a strong dualism. The refutation of any kind of dualism contained in the De autoexusio of Methodius would have helped to get it translated.[1]

I shall keep reading.

PS: I wondered what Old Slavonic manuscripts were used for the Slavonic text.  This is not stated; but two manuscripts – Q.I. 56a and Q.I. 57b – are mentioned in footnotes.

  1. [1]Italian: “Il Corpus Methodianum ci è tuttavia rimasto in traduzione paleoslava. Tale traduzione è stata realizzata presumibilmente in Bulgaria attorno al X secolo ed è stata resa accessibile in occidente dalla fine del XIX secolo nella traduzione tedesca di Bonwetsch, che ha curato l’edizione critica di tutte le opere di Metodio, eccetto quelle considerate inautentiche 81 . Questa traduzione paleoslava contiene il testo quasi completo del De autexusio, del De resurrectione, del De lepra e quello di altre opere di cui non si aveva notizia da testimonianze antiche e di cui non erano rimastiframmenti greci (De cibis, De sanguisuga, De vita). Il testo greco di riferimento di questa traduzione sembrerebbe essere stato in buono stato. Esso è tradotto alla lettera, tranne in alcuni punti in cui ci troviamo di fronte a riassunti (se del traduttore paleoslavo o degli originali stessi è difficile a dirsz). Come abbiamo accennato,  Musurillo ritiene che gli scritti di Metodio siano stati tramandati in slavo per un felice errore di attribuzione, a causa del!’ omonimia con l’evangelizzatore degli slavi del IX secolo 82. Bracht critica questa informazione, rilevando come Musurillo non offra motivi per questa sua affermazione, mentre ritiene più lineare far risalire l’interesse per la conservazione dei suoi scritti all’ininterrotta tradizione della Chiesa orientale che ha continuato a venerare Metodio come santo, martire e Dottore della Chiesa 83. Bracht non esclude che un influsso dell’omonimia del Metodio apostolo degli slavi abbia potuto contribuire a salvare gli scrittz; ma non – come vuole Musurillo – per errore di attribuzione. A suo parere, un più forte motivo – a sua volta già avanzato da Ivan DujCev 84 – sarebbe questo: le tesi del De autexusio sarebbero state ritenute molto valide per contrastare gli errori dottrinali dell’ eresia dei bogomili (corrente eretica sollevatasi in Bulgaria attorno al X secolo). Questi eretici affermavano un forte dualismo. La confutazione di ogni tipo di dualismo presente nel De autexusio di Metodio avrebbe portato a favorirne la traduzione 85.”