Archive for the 'From my diary' Category

75 more Greek manuscripts online at the British Library – the last batch

The final batch of Greek manuscripts has gone online at the British Library.  This means that pretty much all the mss are now online, except for a few fragments post-1600 bound in other collections; and a few (how many?) not digitised because doing so might damage them.

Something that I have not mentioned, but which I really appreciate about the British Library digitisations: the catalogue entry for each manuscript, and the indication of the start of each new work.  When you see what other sites sometimes do, you’ll be all the more grateful.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Add MS 41660, Works by Ephraem the Syrian. 11th-12th century.
  • Add MS 82951, Justin Martyr, Works. Created in Venice in 1541, probably at the request of Guillaume Pelicier.
  • Arundel MS 539, Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History. Decorated headpieces in red and black ink (ff 2r, 164r).  Complete with a  table of contents.
  • Arundel MS 542, Works of St John Chrysostom (some now attributed to Severian of Gabala). 10th century.
  • Arundel MS 543, St John Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew. 11th century.
  • Burney MS 34, Catena – a medieval bible commentary – on the Octateuch (Rahlfs 424), and additional theological texts. Italy, N. E. (Veneto?), mid-16th century.
  • Burney MS 35, Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Interpretatio in Psalmos. Italy, Central. Written during Lent 1548.
  • Burney MS 46, Works of Athanasius of Alexandria, in two volumes, Burney MS 46/1 and Burney MS 46/2. 2nd half of the 11th century-1st half of the 12th century.
  • Burney MS 47, St John Chrysostom, In Joannem (homiliae 1-45). 11th century.
  • Burney MS 48, Commentaries of St John Chrysostom on the Pauline letters, followed by the Catholic Epistles (Gregory-Aland 643; Scrivener act 225; von Soden α 1402, X40), in two volumes, Burney MS 48/1 and Burney MS 48/2. 11th-12th century.
  • Burney MS 49, Homilies of St John Chrysostom on selected Pauline Epistles. Eastern Mediterranean (Corfu), 1430.
  • Burney MS 50, Apophthegmata Patrum (Collectio alphabetica), in two volumes, Burney MS 50/1 and Burney MS 50/2. Eastern Mediterranean (Crete) 1361-1362.
  • Burney MS 51, Two fragments of the works of St Gregory of Nazianzus, the first dating from the late 10th or 11th century, the second dating from the 14th century. Fragment I possibly from Constantinople.
  • Burney MS 52, Homilies and sermons of St Gregory of Nyssa. 12th-13th century.
  • Burney MS 53, Patristic miscellany, containing texts by Origen, Eustathius, Gregory of Nyssa, and the emperor Zeno. Italy, S. (Naples) or Central (Rome), c. 1580.
  • Burney MS 81, Heron of Alexandria, Pneumatica, with extensive Latin marginal annotations and many pen diagrams. Italy, mid-16th century.
  • Burney MS 94, Grammatical and medical treatises, including works by Manuel Moschopoulos, Thomas Magister, Rufus of Ephesus, and Oribasius of Pergamon. Italy, N. E. (Venice), 2nd half of the 15th century.
  • Burney MS 104. Commentary on and introduction to Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos. Written in 1543, possibly in Paris.
  • Burney MS 105, Pappas of Alexandria, Synagoge, imperfect, including extracts from the Mechanica of Heron of Alexandria. Italy, 2nd half of the 16th century.
  • Burney MS 408, Palimpsest, the upper (14th-century) text being homilies of St John Chrysostom on Matthew and John, and the lower fragments of a 10th century Gospel lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 338).
  • Egerton MS 265, Collection of novellae and other legal texts by Emperors Leo VI the Wise, Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, Nicephorus II Phocas, Cosmas Magister and Eustathius Romaeus. 15th century.
  • Egerton MS 2474, Collection of various texts from Pseudo-Plutarch, Synesius of Cyrene, Amphilochius of Iconium, Gregory of Nazianzus, Nicetas David and John Zonaras, with interlinear glosses and marginal scholia. Italy?, 17th century.
  • Egerton MS 2610, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 700). 11th century.
  • Egerton MS 2626, Sozomen, Historia ecclesiastica (TLG 2048.001); Evagrius Scholasticus, Historia ecclesiastica (TLG 2733.001). Italy, Central (Rome), 1524.
  • Egerton MS 2783, Four Gospels, imperfect (Gregory-Aland 714). 12th-13th century.
  • Harley MS 5796, New Testament (Gregory-Aland 444; Scrivener evan. 444, Act. 153, Paul 240; von Soden δ 551). 1st half of the 15th century.
  • Royal MS 1 B II, Old Testament: Major and Minor Prophets of the Septuagint version (Rahlfs 22). 1st quarter of the 12th century. Headpieces, initials and titles in carmine ink.
  • Royal MS 2 A VI, Psalter (Rahlfs 175). 12th century. Illuminated headpieces at the start of Psalms 1 and 77 (ff 22r, 154r).
  • Royal MS 16 C XI, Galen, De diebus decretoriis libri III. Italy, 1st quarter of the 16th century.
  • Royal MS 16 C XII,Astronomical works, including John Philoponus on the construction of astrolabes. 1544-3rd quarter of the 16th century.
  • Royal MS 16 C XV,  Two works attributed to Gregory of Nyssa, with marginal notes by Isaac Casaubon and Patrick Young. 3rd quarter of the 16th century.
  • Royal MS 16 D I, Works by or attributed to St Gregory of Nyssa. 13th century.
  • Royal MS 16 D V, St Gregory of Nazianzus, Contra Julianum imperatorem 1-2 (Orationes 4-5). Italy, Central (Rome), 2nd half of the 16th century.
  • Royal MS 16 D VI, St Gregory of Nazianzus, Orationes 7, 8, 18, and 34, with the commentary of Elias of Crete. Italy, Central (Rome), 2nd half of the 16th century.
  • Royal MS 16 D VIII, Acts of the First Council of Nicaea, compiled by Gelasius of Cyzicus, followed by two works by Athanasius. Italy, 4th quarter of the 16th century.
  • Royal MS 16 D XI, St Gregory of Nyssa, selected works. Italy, N. (Venice or Trento), 2nd half of the 16th century.
  • Royal MS 16 D XVII, Clement of Alexandria, Paedagogus, Hymnus Christi servatoris, and an anonymous iambic hymn. 1st half of the 16th century.
  • Royal MS 16 D XVIII, Eustathius Macrembolites, Hysmene et Hysmenias; Achilles Tatius, Leucippe et Clitophon; and [Eustathius Antiochenus], Commentarius in hexaemeron. The works are from three separate manuscripts, bound together at some point after 1697. 1st half of the 16th century.

And that is just a selection!

The only thing to wish for is a PDF download for the books.  When you need to do serious work on a manuscript, you don’t want to have to peer through an online viewer.

Marvellous to have, all the same!

English translation of Shenoute’s “On those who have left the monastery” by Anthony Alcock

This afternoon brings another gem from Anthony Alcock: a translation from Coptic of Shenoute’s De eis qui e monasterio discesserunt, his attack on monks who have abandoned their monastery.  He explains:

The text translated here makes it clear that some of those who have left blamed Shenoute for his ill-treament, but others simply did not the strength to remain there.

Shenoute himself is a very famous figure in 4th century Egyptian monasticism, and his works have been edited recently (offline!) by Stephen Emmel.  He was notorious for using a stick to discipline his monks; and also using them as stormtroopers to demolish pagan temples.

Here is the text, with a learned introduction as ever:

It is very nice to have this material online in English.  Shenoute lived at a critical junction between the Roman and Byzantine world, and his works give a clear insight into the period of change.


Jona Lendering’s new “Ancient History” magazine

An email from Jona Lendering of advises me that he has launched a printed magazine called “Ancient History”.  It will be bi-monthly, and aimed at a popular audience.

It’s all pretty much funded already, via Kickstarter, and he’s hoping for lots of subscribers.  He writes:

There’s a summary of everything here, there’s a more official piece here and of course we have a trial issue (PDF).

I’m sure we all wish him, and the magazine, good luck!

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 12 (part 2)

Here is some more of the Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (= Sa`id ibn Bitriq), translated by me from the hard-to-find Italian translation of Bartolomeo Pirone.  We’re at the end of the 4th century AD, the reign of Theodosius the Great.

6. But let’s return to what we were saying about Theodosius and Theophilus.  Theophilus, the friend of Theodosius, stood for a year at the door [of the palace of the king] without being able to see him.  In fact, every day he went to the door [of the palace] of the king to ask the porters to deliver a written letter to the king, but they had always refused him, rejecting it.  After a year, while King Theodosius was busy praying, that he heard a voice say: “O Theodosius, have you forgotten your friend and companion Theophilus?” Theodosius said: “My Lord, who are you?”  He replied: “I am the man who was with you in the desert.  And as I made you become king, I will make Theophilus become Patriarch.”  Theodosius sent at once to call Theophilus, who came before him, and greeted him.  King Theodosius said: “Believe me, my friend, I had completely forgotten about you and never has the memory of you touched my mind; but yesterday, while I was praying, the man I had seen in the dream called me and made me remember you.” Theophilus answered, “I saw yesterday in a dream a man who told me: “As I made Theodosius become king, so I will make you become patriarch.”  While they were talking thus, in came the chamberlain and said to the king: “The inhabitants of Alexandria have sent their men to tell you that the patriarch Timothy has died and they are looking for a man to make [their] patriarch.”  The king appointed Theophilus Patriarch instantly (10) and sent him to Alexandria.  He held the seat for twenty-eight years and died.  As soon as he arrived in Alexandria, Theophilus tore down the idols that were in the city.  There was, in Alexandria, a large marble slab on which were written three Theta’s and all around them was written: “He who can interpret the meaning of these three Thetas will come into possession of what they conceal.”  Theophilus said: “I will interpret it myself.  The first theta means theos, or God.  The second theta is for the king Theodosius while the third theta is for the Patriarch Theophilus”(11).  He then removed the marble slab and under it there was a lot of money.  He wrote to the king Theodosius making him aware and King Theodosius replied: “Build churches with the money.”  The Patriarch Theophilus did then build a large church in the name of King Theodosius and adorned it all with gold.  He built other churches in Alexandria, including the Church of Martmaryam [i.e., Santa Maria] and the church of Mar Yuhanna [i.e., Saint John].

7. The King Theodosius had two children.  He called the greater Arcadius and the lesser Honorius, and he took great care to find them a tutor.  He sent to ask those of Rome to find him a wise man who could educate his children.  They chose a philosopher named Arsenius (12), and sent him and he became tutor to the children of the king.  One day the king surprised Arsenius in the act of teaching the children while standing, while the children were sitting.  Then he chided him, saying: “Why are you acting in this way?” Arsenius said: “It is so that I can educate your children, O king.”  But the king ordered him to sit and the children to stand in front of him.  Learning what they needed, Arsenius beat Arcadius so violently that he left a mark on the skin, and for this reason Arcadius harbored great resentment against him.  But Arsenius beat him simply so that when he became king after his father, he would remember the pain of the beating when he happened to flog some of his subjects.

Your article, your footnotes: getting started with Zotero

These days you may have to submit an article to one of a number of journals, each of whom uses a different format for footnotes.  To cope with this foolishness, it’s a good idea to have all your references in a database somewhere, and insert them into your paper in Microsoft Word using {field} tags, or something like that.  The exact format inserted is controllable by the database software.

This is what Zotero is: a database for articles, plus a Word plugin (“connector”), and a web-browser plugin so that you can add the complete data for your article – journal, year, pages, etc –  to your database from Google Scholar by a couple of clicks.

It helps a lot if someone shows you how it’s done.  The best way to find out is to use YouTube, and pick short videos (I hate video myself).  If you are lucky, you will have a SmartTV in your house, which is connected to your Wifi and has a YouTube app (which is what I did).  If not, you can still use Youtube on your PC.

Here’s your first video, about 4 minutes long: Getting started with Zotero using Zotero standalone.  This shows you how to install.  Do watch it, even if you think you know; it has a couple of tricks.

After that, you have Zotero Standalone, you have Zotero’s plugin in Word, and also in your browser (I used Google Chrome).

Next is a 2 minutes video Zotero Word Plugin.  This shows you how to insert footnotes into your document.  (If you choose the Chicago Style, rather than the one they choose, you will get footnotes, rather than inline references.)  (This is another of the same kind, about 5 mins).

After that, you will want to know how to get articles and books into your database of articles.  Google Scholar is the answer!   There’s a page on the Zotero site, Getting Stuff Into Zotero, with a 5 minute video at the top (which I haven’t found in YouTube yet).

Basically you search for your article in google scholar.  You have an extra icon at the top right of your browser, Chrome (or whatever).  So when Google Scholar comes back with a list of results, including the article you want, hit that icon and you’ll get the list of results in a box.  Check the one you want, and it’s saved!

There are many other sites you can use it with.  It works with COPAC, for books.  But for articles, at the moment the only source of references that I know about is Google scholar.  There are others, I believe.  Anyone care to list some?

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 12 (part 1)

We continue the Annals of Eutychius, and deal with the Council of Constantinople and some anti-Manichaean material.  It is important to recall that Eutychius is a Melkite, and Patriarch of Alexandria.

1. Theodosius, called Theodosius the Great (1), reigned over Rum for seventeen years.  This happened in the fortieth year of the reign of Sabur, son of Sabur, king of the Persians.  The ministers and generals presented themselves before the king Theodosius and said: “The doctrine of the population has become corrupt and infested with the doctrine of Arius and Macedonius.  Take to heart the matter and take it upon yourself to defend the Christian faith and to present it in all clarity.  Write therefore to all the patriarchs and bishops telling them to come together, to examine the issue and to set forth with clear wording the true Christian faith.”  King Theodosius then wrote to Timothy, patriarch of Alexandria, to Milātiyūs (2), Patriarch of Antioch, to Damasus, patriarch of Rome and Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, ordering them to go with their bishops to Constantinople in order to discuss the Christian faith and present it in clear terms to the people.  The patriarchs went to Constantinople, together with their bishops, except for Damasus, patriarch of Rome.  In fact, although he did not go there personally, he wrote to Theodosius a letter in which he explained and expounded in clear terms the true faith.  At Constantinople there gathered in council a hundred and fifty bishops.  The presidents were Timothy, patriarch of Alexandria, Meletius, Patriarch of Antioch and Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem.  King Theodosius gave them the letter of Damasus, patriarch of Rome, in which the latter had set out and explained in clear terms the true faith.  They read it, expounded the doctrine of the faith and confirmed that it had been expounded.

Then they went on to examine the doctrine of Macedonius who said: “The Holy Spirit is not God, but [was] created and made.”  Timothy, patriarch of Alexandria, said: “When we speak of the Holy Spirit, we intend to speak of God’s Spirit.  The Spirit of God is nothing more than his life.  So if we were to say that the Holy Spirit is created, we would say that the Spirit of God was created.  And if we say that the Spirit of God is created, that would be to say that his life is created.  And if we say that his life is created, we would be affirming that He is not living [by his own power].  And if we say that he is not living [by his own power] we would be committing an impiety against him.  For those who deny God are worthy of excommunication.” They were therefore unanimous in excommunicating Macedonius, and excommunicated him along with his followers and the patriarchs who had followed after him and had not followed [true] doctrine.  They also excommunicated Sabellius, bishop of Lūbiya (3), and his followers.  He actually said that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are a single person.  They excommunicated also Apollinaris and his followers because they claimed that the body of Christ, our Lord, was devoid of intellect.  They established thus that the Holy Spirit is the creator, uncreated, true God, of one substance with the Father and the Son, one substance and one nature, adding to the Symbol of faith drawn up by the three hundred and eighteen bishops who had gathered at Nicaea, the words: “And in the Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,” where the three hundred and eighteen had said, in the creed they composed, only “and in the Holy Spirit”.  They also established that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three persons, three substances and three properties, Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, one essence in three persons, one God, one substance and one nature.  They also confirmed that the body of Christ, our Lord, possessed an intellectual and rational soul.  Then they made patriarch of Constantinople, from the guards of the king, a man named Fiqtūriyūs (4).  They defined the primacy of the Patriarch of Rome, placing in second place the patriarch of Constantinople, the patriarch of Alexandria in the third and in fourth the Patriarch of Antioch.  They elevated to the rank of patriarch, the bishop of Jerusalem, which had been until then only a bishop — Jerusalem had never had a patriarch before then —, and placed him in fifth place.

Then each returned to his own see.

2. From the first council of three hundred and eighteen bishops who had gathered in the city of Nicaea, to this council of the hundred and fifty bishops who had gathered in Constantinople excommunicating Macedonius and his sect, there had passed fifty years.  Timothy, patriarch of Alexandria, allowed the patriarchs, bishops and monks to eat meat on the feasts of the Lord because of the Manichaean so-called as-Siddīqūn (5) in order to know which of the patriarchs and bishops were Manicheans.  He intended, in fact, by making them eat flesh to making vain their religion and to abolish it.  This is because Manichaeans are not allowed to slaughter animals and eat them, nor themselves to eat meat from animals in any way.  Most of the metropolitans of Egypt and their bishops were Manichaeans.  Now the Orthodox patriarchs, with their bishops and monks, ate meat at the feasts of the Lord.  The Manichaean metropolitans, however, and their bishops and monks did not eat meat and replaced it with fish, placing it instead of meat, fish being [also] an animal.  This custom was observed at the time of the heretical and impious Mani.  On the death of Mani and his followers, the Orthodox patriarchs, with their bishops and monks, returned to their ancient custom and abstained from meat on the feasts of the Lord.

3.  Sa`id ibn Batrīq, the doctor said: “Timothy, patriarch of Alexandria, allowed the eating of meat on the feasts of the Lord in view of the fact that the Manichaeans such as-Siddīqūn used to eat fish instead of meat.  When he speaks of “eating meat” he refers to a slaughtered animal, and a fish is not considered a  slaughtered animal.  And in fact another sect of Manicheans, called the as-Sammākūn, (6) ate fish because it cannot be considered a slaughtered animal, while abstaining from eating meat from a slaughtered animal.  And yet they were in error even the Manichaeans called as-Siddīqūn, who had replaced meat with fish, because Christ, our Lord, ate meat, and it is therefore the duty of all who profess the Christian religion in imitation of Christ, our Lord, to eat meat at least one day a year, to remove from their hearts any kind of scruple and confirm, before all, their contempt for this wicked sect of Manicheans.  In Acts it is written that Peter was in the city of Jaffa in the house of a tanner named Simon.  Peter was on the housetop to pray at about six in the morning.  There fell on him a deep sleep and fell asleep, and he saw the heavens opened to him, and there came down from the sky a sheet, touching the ground, in which there were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, and flying birds of the sky.  And he heard a voice say: “O Peter, get up, kill and eat.”  But Peter said: “No, Lord, I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”  The voice told him for the second time:  “What God has made clean do you not treat as unclean.” And the voice repeated it to him for the third time. Then the sheet rose up to heaven” (7).  These words of Peter support this, he being one of the leaders of the Apostles and a founder of our religion, as well as one from whom you have to take and accept, what Christ our Lord, has done in eating the meat of slaughtered animals and in making all animals lawful.  So it is necessary to be wary of those who abstain from eating meat and act differently from how Christ, our Lord, and Peter, the head of the Apostles, behaved.  Therefore, anyone who refuses to eat meat from slaughtered animals is for us a transgressor of the Christian law and is to be counted among the followers of the doctrine of Mani, with the exception of the patriarchs, bishops and monks, for they do not refrain from the use of meat as prohibited but only for abstinence and to honor God.”

4. “The people of Rum also began not to wash themselves with water because most of them were Manichaeans.  The Manicheans, in fact, do not believe that it is good to wash with water.  Having therefore for a long time continued to maintain their custom, they continue to this day to refrain from washing with water.  Some have said that they stopped washing with water simply because of the intense cold that there is in their country and because the water was too cold, especially in winter, and that they could not bathe in cold nor could touch it as it was so cold” (8).

5. “The Manichaeans are, as we have said, of two species: the Sammākūn and the Siddīqūn.  The Sammākūn fast on certain days of each month, while the Siddīqūn fast for life, eating only what the land produces.  Having embraced the Christian faith, the Siddīqūn, fearing to be recognized and killed if they abstained from eating fish, also began to fast, and actually fasted on the Orthodox feasts of Christmas, the Virgin Mary and the Apostles, abstaining, in those days of fasting, from eating the flesh of fish.  They adopted a similar behavior only so as to pass in fasting the day of the year and in these fasts did not refrain from eating fish only so that they were not discovered.  Over time the Nestorians, Jacobites and Maronites adopted this custom, who made it a norm.  Later also some Greek Melkites, especially those living in the territories subjected to Islam, adopted a similar habit, starting also to abstain from eating fish on the aforementioned days of fasting, although this was not included in their traditions nor in their precepts, since the Greek Melkites abstain from eating fish only on the two days reported, namely Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year, and on the eve of Christmas and the eve of Baptism, days when they abstain from eating fish as they revere these in the same way as the great fast.  The Greek Melkites, then, who prefer to fast for Christmas, [for the feast of the Madonna] and for the feast of the Apostles, fast in these three days by eating the flesh of fish, abstaining only on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Similarly, if someone wishes to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year, they can fast until the ninth hour without eating fish.  And yet this is not obligatory and no one is obliged to fast and abstain from these fasts to make use of the meat of fish, except for Wednesdays and Fridays, as we said at the first, for the great fast and for two vigils of Christmas and Epiphany.  Some Greek Melkites also refrain from eating fish on the fast of the feast of Our Lady, following their custom in this the holy Typicon of St. Saba (9), nor is there, in this abstinence, any shadow of sin.  Only those who say otherwise sin, thus contravening the law and acting contrary to the divine precept.”

Archaeology on our own PCs – unravelling old file formats

A good few years – seventeen! – have passed since I left off working for a certain major corporation, stashed a bunch of documents and sometime projects in a directory on my PC, and went off to seek my fortune.  But this week the past came back to me, in the shape of reunion drinks; and I found myself looking for a document that I hadn’t seen in 20 years.

When I found it, I found that it was in a file produced by WordPerfect 4.2.  For DOS!  It was last edited sometime in the late 80s.  Fortunately at the time I had the habit of using “.wp4″ etc as the file suffix, so I knew what the format was.  I found other files, suffixed as “.ws5″ – WordStar 5!  There were some “.drw” files, which I knew were vector graphics files, and proved to belong to Lotus Freelance.  There were bunches of zipped up directories; but in “.lzh” directories, produced using the lha.exe archiver, which is now dead.

I know a crux when I see one.  Whether I can retrieve all of this now I do not know; but certainly the problem won’t get better if I leave it.  I once thought these files worth keeping.  But there’s not a lot of point, if I can’t open them.

Dealing with the WordPerfect 4.2 files was relatively straightforward.  Corel bought WordPerfect long ago, and a correspondent showed me that the conv50.exe file at the Corel FTP site, under the WordPerfectDOS 5.0 directory (which you can’t open in IE, but can in Google Chrome) was a self-extracting zip file which contained the convert.exe file used to convert 4.2 to 5.0.  So I got hold of this, and converted my file to Wordperfect 5.0.  Few utilities indeed will work with WordPerfect for DOS versions earlier than 5.0, although in fact 4.2 was a far more popular and widespread version.  You can run this quite happily in a Windows 7 (64-bit) command window, and it will prompt for input – I put *.wp4 – and output, and it will do all the files in the directory in one go.

Now I have a WordPerfect 5.0 file, there is a utility you can obtain, again from Corel, to convert wp5 files to an ancient version of Word.  This may be found in the WordPerfect for Windows 6.1 directory, and is named wp_convert_utility.exe.  This is an installer, actually, which installs a windows utility in the c:\program files (x86)\corel directory on your PC.  Don’t get creative with installing it, by the way – it plainly is on its last legs.  Here’s a screen grab:

WordPerfect Convert Utility

WordPerfect Convert Utility

 You can’t actually browse to files anymore – that doesn’t work!  You must type the names in yourself, and choose the right output type.  You want Word 97, which is actually the next item.  This will give you a nice .doc file.  I was then able to double-click on the file and open it in Microsoft Word 2010; whereupon I promptly saved it in some new, shiny, file format.  In the same directory, naturally.

The Wordstar files were simpler to deal with.  Long ago Microsoft produced an import filter for all versions of Wordstar 3.0-7.0.  They don’t include it any more; but it is out there, on a Microsoft FTP site.  The site is incredibly slow, tho.  The file, wdsupcnv.exe, is a self-extracting zip file, which creates a bunch of .cnv files and a readme.  You then copy these into C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Textconv.  Once you have done this, you open the .ws5 (or whatever you called them; if you called them .doc, as was the default, then I don’t know if this confuses Word) by double-clicking and choosing Word 2010 as your application.  It opens, prompts you to confirm the file format, then asks you to say “Yes” to something, and …. your file opens.  I then saved it as a modern Word .docx file – again next to the original.

I haven’t yet managed to open the .drw files.  But I gather that Lotus SmartSuite 9.8 Millennium should be able to open it, and save the results in Microsoft PowerPoint format; and copies are available cheaply on eBay, so I have ordered one.  Whether this will work on 64-bit Windows I do not know.

The worst problem that I got was with the collection of .lzh files.  The lha site is gone, and although 7Zip will open these files (although not on the command-line version), that doesn’t help you if you have a couple of hundred.  If you have an old copy of the lha.exe file, you will find that it doesn’t run on Windows 7 (64 bit), because lha.exe is a 16-bit applicatio1n, and Microsoft thoughtfully ensured that any compatibility layer was only present on the rare 32-bit version of Windows 7.   However I was able to find a clone LHA for Windows, and this worked fine.  I copied the new lha.exe into my directory of files, and adapted a little batch script that I found online to scan for all the .lzh files in a directory, and unpack them to a new subdirectory of the same name:

@echo off 
setlocal enableDelayedExpansion 

set MYDIR=.
for /F %%x in ('dir /B/D %MYDIR%\*.lzh') do (
  rem set FILENAME=%MYDIR%\%%x
  set FILENAME=%%x
  echo Processing !FILENAME! to !FILENAME!.DIR\
  cd !FILENAME!.DIR\  
  D:\MYFILES\lha x ..\!FILENAME! 
  cd ..

And it worked: FRED.LZH was unpacked to a new directory FRED.LZH.DIR, and so on.

It’s been an afternoon of archaeology.  I think that I have now converted all the files (except the .drw) that I have on disk.  I hope that these will go with me into the future.  Unless we are careful, even the past that we have saved carefully and archived will vanish.

Guest-post: Valesius, on Sozomen and Socrates (translated by Anthony Alcock!)

The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius ends in 325 AD.  It was continued by both Socrates and Sozomen.

The opinions of early modern editors are often of considerable interest, but, since they wrote their scholarship in Latin, few today take the trouble to read them.

Anthony Alcock has kindly translated for us the section de vita et scriptis Socratis et Sozomeni from the 1677 edition of their works by Valesius (Henri Valois), together with very useful footnotes.  The PDF is here:

I will put the main text inline here, as otherwise people reading this via RSS feed etc won’t see the content.

Welcome, Valesius!

    *    *    *    *    *    *

Our Socrates therefore, for we will start with him, was from Constantinople. He bears witness in c. 24 of Book 5 of HE that he was born and brought up in that city, and for this reason narrated principally those things that had happened in that city. As a youth he was instructed in the study of language and literature by Helladius and Ammonius, who at that time had perhaps taken refuge in Constantinople from Alexandria. Anyone wishing to know why those teachers left Alexandria will find the reason in c. 16 of Book 5 the HE. When the pagan temples at Alexandria were destroyed, as a result of the commitment and zeal of Theophilus the Bishop of that city, the teachers Helladius and Ammonius, one a priest of Zeus and the other of Simius at Alexandria, found this violence perpetrated on their gods difficult to bear and left the city for Constantinople, where they made their home.

The temples of the pagans at Alexandria were destroyed when Timaeus and Promotus were consuls, as Marcellinus writes in his History, which was the eleventh year of the Emperor Theodosius. It is clear that Socrates was first saw the light of day around the beginning of the reign of Theodosius: it was customary to start the education of boys when they were about ten years of age. After this Socrates studied rhetoric with Troilus the sophist, who was one of the best-known teachers at Constantinople. Socrates does not say this explicitly. However, the attentive and diligent reader easily gathers what I have just said from his words. For so often and with such admiration does he mention him that he appears to be paying tribute to his master. For he says that he came from Side in Pamphylia. He mentions quite a few of Troilus’ pupils: Eusebius the scholar, of course, and the Bishops Silvanus and Ablabius. Finally, in the seventh book he writes that the Praetorian Prefect Anthemius, who ran the state when Theodosius was still a boy, notably made use of Troilus’ counsel. He writes of Troilus the following words of praise: ‘who, in addition to his native understanding of philosophy, was the equal of Anthemius in political thinking.’ In consideration of these reasons I think that Socrates made use of Troilus as a teacher in matters of rhetoric. But each person will have decide individually on this matter. It should further be known that the ancients worked at their eloquence, not hastily and precipitately as is the modern custom, but with good deal of time. To be sure, Gregory of Nazianzus testifies in a poem about his life that he left Athens when he was thirty, having taught rhetoric in that city. After this Socrates, having left Troilus’ school, went to the bar and practised law at Constantinople, where he acquired the nickname of ‘pupil’. This is what lawyers were called at that time, as has been observed previously by others, not because they were still at school, but because, as young men who had come from lawyers’ schools, they professed this skill.

At length he abandoned the law and applied himself to the writing of church history, in which he displayed singular judgement and diligence. The judgement is expressed in the observations and statements incorporated into his books, which in my opinion are of outstanding brilliance. There are many of examples of his diligence, but foremost among them his attention to dates, often noted by consulships and olympiads, particularly when writing of significant events. He was not lax or negligent in his writing, like Rufinus of Aquileia, who seems to me to have composed his two books of church history, which he added to the works of Eusebius of Caesarea, from memory. Socrates is quite different: he has faithfully and scruplously composed his history using the best textual material he could find, that is, letters of leading prelates, acts of synods and books of church historians. In the first edition of his work he followed Rufinus and wrote of the Synod of Tyre and the exile of Athanasius to Trier as having happened during the reign of Constantius, but recognized his error after reading the works of Athanasius. For this reason he considered it necessary to produce a new edition of his history, in which he corrected the error I have just mentioned. He also added things that were missing in the earlier publication, as he tells us at the beginning of Book Two. It is clear from this how much we should value the history of Socrates, to which the author himself put the finishing touches. Socrates employs a simple and humble style in his work, and for a good reason: that it might more easily be understood by all, as he tells us at the beginning of Books One and Three. He thought that the sublime and ornate style was more fitted to panegyrics and speeches than to the history of church matters. Moreover he dedicated his work to a certain Theodore, whom he calls a holy man of God at the beginning of Book Two, in the same way that Eusebius addresses Paulinus the Bishop of Tyre at the beginning of Book Ten. I have not been abe to discover who Theodore is. I am inclined not to believe that it was Theodore of Mopsuestia, because he was dead when Socrates wrote his history. But is now time to enquire about religious beliefs and allegiance, as we promised at the beginning.

Baronius in the Annals and Philip Labbaeus in his book on ecclesiastical writers maintain that Socrates was a Novatian. Nicephorus said the same thing before them: Socrates, ‘pure’ of name, but not so much in spirit. This does not mean that his nickname was ‘pure’ but rather that he was a Novatianist, for the Novatians called themselves ‘pure’, as we learn fron Canon 8 of the Council of Nicaea. Similarly in c. 14 of Book Two Nicephorus writes about Socrates that he did not distance himself from the Novatians. There are several important reasons why Socrates was considered to a Novatianist. In the first place, he diligently records that there was a series of Novatianist bishops who ruled the Church from the time of Constantine, with details of the consuls, to whom individuals migrated from this light. In the second place, he praises each one of them, especially Agerius and Sisinius, Chrysanthus and Paul. And by his prayers, he writes, a certain miracle was performed at Constantinople. In the third place, everything that relates to the Novatianist sect, he examined with such care and diligence that he seems to have been a follower of the sect. But if one were inclined to examine them more accurately, one would find nothing in them to prove that Socrates was a Novatian. For he enumerates the Arian bishops who administered the Church at Constantinople just as scrupulously, and he is never said for that reason to have been Arian. He relates everything that happened to Arians, Eunomians and Macedonians at Constantinople as carefully as the things that happened to the Novatians. He himself gives the reason for this in Book 5 chap. 24, where he writes that it was his resolve to record as far as possible what had happened at Constantinople,partly because he lived there and had been born and brought up there and partly because the things that had happened there were more illustrious and worthier of memory. If anyone objects that Arian bishops did nor receive praise equal to that bestowed upon the Novatians, the response is easy: there were far fewer Arian bishops in Constantinople than Novatian ones. The Church at that time was bristling with prominent Novatian priests. Sozomen, who records the praises of them, similar to those of Socrates, also confirms this by his own testimony. As a result it has to be said that Sozomen was also Novatian, as Socrates has to be absolved of this slander. Nevertheless, he states that Sozomen was not Novatian, not to mention the testimony of Theodore the Reader, who according to a letter which he added to his Tripartite History calls him ‘most blessed’ and writes in Book Nine that he had attended a public procession celebrated in honour of the 40 Martyrs at Constantinople, when Proculus administered the church of that city. From which it can be clearly gathered that Sozomen was of the Catholic communion, because he was present at a public supplication together with Catholics. I admit that Socrates was very favourable to Novatians, as when he numbers the founder of the Novatian sect among the martyrs and says that the Novatians were attached to the Catholics by close ties of well-meaning benevolence and prayed with them in ths same church; when he praises the speech that Sisinnius made against that saying of Chrysostom: even if you have done penance ten thousand times, come to us. It is one thing to be partial to Novatians and other thing to be one. Socrates was able to be partial to them, either because he was tied to them for reasons of friendship or family or because he approved of their discipline and abstinence. He was, as we are able to gather from his books, rather strict, but I find it difficult to believe that he was a Novatian, especially since I seem to understand the opposite from some passages in his history. First, in c. 38 of Book 2 he does not once call ‘those of the church’ Catholics, but contrasts them with Novatians. He therefore recognizes that Novatians were outside the Church. He would not have done this if he had embraced the Novatian sect. But in cc. 20 and 23 of Book Six he calls Novatians heretics, with Arians of course, Macedonians and Eunomians. In the second place, he clearly reprehends the advice of Nectarius to remove the penitentiary priests. For he says that if this is done licence is given to sinners, for there would be nobody to prove conclusively that they were sinners. This view cannot come from a Novatian, for as Socrates tells us, Novatians would never admit penance or the priest of penances. There is also the testimony of Theodore the Reader, who in a letter that prefixes his History calls both writers ‘God-loving men’, pious and acceptable to God. Moreover, Theodore lived in the same city and almost at the same time as Socrates, that is when Anastasius was Emperor. Finally Peter Halloix agrees with us in his Life of the Blessed Irenaeus (p. 664). Disputing with Baronius, who had written about the year 159 AD : Socrates the Novatian, celebrating the Pasch on the 14th of the month, together with the Jews …says this. And the statement that Socrates is Novatian can be understood in two ways. One, that from time to time he wrote approvingly of Novatians, according to the description of Bellarmine in his book Ecclesiastical Writers for the year 440 about both writers. Another, that he was of the Novatian heresy. In the chapter cited he shows neither that was a Novatian nor that he favoured them. For he castigates them and uncovers their disagreements and faults. So that he seems not to be a friend, but an enemy, or perhaps neither but someone who told the truth. Because this is the task of the historian. So much for Socrates. It is now time to talk of Sozomen.

Hermias Sozomen was also a lawyer at Constantinople, at the same time as Socrates. His parents were not without nobility, from Palestine, a town near Gaza called Bethelia. At one time it was populous village, with very beautiful and ancient temples. The outstanding temple among them was the Pantheon, positioned on an artificial hill. It was a sort of citadel of Bethelia, according to Sozomen in c. 15 of Book 5 . His grandfather was also born in the town and was converted to Christianity by Hilarion the monk. When Alaphio of the same town was being tormented by a demon and the Jews and doctors who had tried to heal him were unsuccessful with their incantations, it was Hilarion who, in the name of God alone, drove out the demon. Sozomen’s grandfather was astonished by this miracle. Both he and Alaphio, with their entire families, embraced Christianity. His grandfather excelled in explaining the Scriptures, because he had a subtle intellect and large intelligence. He was moreover otherwise reasonably well educated. So, for the Christians living in Gaza, Askalon and neighbouring places he was precious, because he was useful and necessary to the religion as one who could easily untie the knots of Scripture. Alaphio’s family,, with the sancitity of their life and kindness to the poor, achieved great celebrity. They were among the first to found monasteries and churches there, as Sozomen tells us in the passage quoted. He adds that certain men of the Alaphio family had survived to his own day, with whom he had had dealings when he was was a young man and of whom he promises that he will speak later. He undoubtedly means Salamensis, Fusco and the brothers Malchio and Crispio, of whom he speaks in c. 32 of Book Six. He says that these brothers, instructed in the monastic life by Hilarion, became stars in Palestinian monasteries during the reign of Valens: they lived near Bethelia, a town in Gaza, where they were nobility. He mentions them in c. 14 of Book Eight where he says that Crispio had been the archdeacon of Epiphanius. It is therefore clear that the brothers I mentioned were of the Alaphio family: Alaphio was joined by family ties with the grandfather of Sozomen. From this I guess that Sozomen’s grandfather converted to Christianity with the whole household because he admired the caretakership of Alaphio, who had been cured by Hilarion using only the name of almighty God. Second, from what Sozomen writes, as a young man he had spent family time with the old monks of the Alaphio family. Finally, he took the name, from what Sozomen writes, from those sons and nephews of Alaphio. He was called Salamanes Hermias Sozomenus, according to Photius in the Bibliotheca, after that Salamanes who, as I noted above, was the brother of Fusco, Malchio and Crispio. For this reason the mistake made by Nicephorus and others is to be corrected, viz. that Sozomen was called Salamanes because he was from Salamis in Cyprus. But, as I have shown, the evidence of Sozomen himself was that he was not Cypriot but Palestinian. Not only was his grandfather, as said earlier, but Sozomen himself was educated in Palestine, among the monks of the Alaphio family. In my view, it was from this education that Sozomen appears to have drawn his love of the monastic life and discipline, which he displays throughout his work. Not merely content to relate the fathers and authors of monastic philosophy, he also scruplously commemorated their successors and disciples, in Egypt, Syria, Palestine as well those in the Pontus region, Armenia and Osrhoene. Hence the eulogy of the monastic life in c. 12 of Book One, as if it were to be read as an introduction. He thought it would be an act of ingratitude if he were not to expresse his thanks, at least in this way, to those in whose society he lived and from whom as a young man he had learned so many outstanding examples of good conversation. He indicates this in the preface of Book 1. Another passage that shows that Sozomen was Palestinian may be found at the end of Book 8, where he says that he had seen Zeno the Bishop of Maiuma.  Maiuma was the port of Gaza. It is true that Zeno was almost 100 years old, but he never missed matins or vespers, except when he was severely ill. Sozomen then took up the study of law, and studied civil law in Beirut, a neighbouring Phoenician city, where there was a well-known school of jurispudence. He also fought cases at Constantinople, as is clear from c. 3 of Book Two. While practising law at Constantinople he wrote his Ecclesiastical History, as can be gathered from his own words. Thus. on p. 48 of this edition, he writes: The things that happened to Aquilinus, a man with whom I still have contact today and practises law in the same forum, I have partly heard from him and partly seen for myself, I will speak of necessity. Moreover, Sozomen had written a breviary of ecclesiastical matters, from the Ascension to the dismissal of Licinius, before he wrote his 9 books of church history. This work consisted of two books, as he says in the preface of his first book. But there was a long interval between these two books.

In writing the history Sozomen’s style was neither too low-key nor turgid, but somwehere in between. It was indeed a style best suited to a writer on church matters. In his Bibliotheca Photius says he prefers the style of Sozomen to that of Socrates, with which we are happy to agree. Sozomen wrote elegantly, but Socrates showed better judgement. For Socrates’s judgement about people and church matters was always excellent. He never wrote anything that was not serious and important. There is nothing you can delete as superfluous. In Sozomen, on the other hand, there is a certain amount that is light and juvenile. In Book One there is a passage about the founding of the city of Hemona and the Argonauts who carried the Argo on their shoulders for several stades. Book Five has a description of the suburbs of Daphnae (p.209). There is also an observation about the beauty of the human body, in which he expresses about the Virgin what the blessed Athanasius adumbrated at such length. Finally, Book Nine contains almost nothing events connected with war, which have nothing to do with church history. But Sozomen’s style, which Photius preferred to that of Socrates, is not lacking in faults. For I have observed that his sentences are connected with each other only by the particles and , which is really rather laboured. If one carefully reads the δέ τέ letter written in which Sozomen mentions his work to the younger Theodosius, one will definitely find what I said earlier, that Sozomen was not a great orator.

It remains for us to ask which of the two wrote first and which borrowed from the other, or rather purloined. Both wrote almost the same things about the same events, both started and finished historically in the same period, that is to say from the reign of Constantine to the 17th consulship of the younger Theodosius, so it is inevitable that one compiled the material used by the other. The sort of plagiarism practised by many Greek writers is evidenced by Porphyrius in Book Ten of Eusebius’ Praeparatio Evangelica. But which of the two was the plagiarist is difficult to say, since they were contemporaries and wrote their works in the reign of the younger Theodosius. Accordingly, this question is a matter of conjecture. Thus, Porphyrius in the above-mentioned work, in the doubtful matter of whether Hyperides had purloined from Demosthenes or the other way round because they were contemporaries, pronounced that conjecture had to be used. Let us therefore see upon which of them the suspicion of theft falls. It is my opinion that the lesser writer purloined much from the greater and the younger from the older. In my view Sozomen is inferior to Socrates by a long way, and was younger than Socrates when he started writing his work. For he wrote it when he was a lawyer, as I siad earlier. The profession of advocate among the Romans was not a permanent occupation but temporary. Ultimately the one who added to and occasionally corrected the work of the other appears to have been the later writer. But Sozomen occasionally added to the work of Socrates and, in some places, disagreed with him, as Photius oberves and we have pointed out in our notes. Accordingly, Sozomen appears to have been the later writer. And this is the opinion of almost recent authorities, who place Socrates before Sozomen. Thus, Bellarmine in his book on Ecclesiastical Writers, followed by Miraeus, Labbaeus and Vossius. Among the ancients Cassiodorus, Photius and Nicephorus put Socrates in first place, though Cassiodorus is found to enterain different views. In the preface of his Tripartite History he changes the order, placing Theodoret first, Sozomen second and Socrates third. This too is the judgement of Theodore the reader in the letter which he prefixed to the Tripartite History. So much for Sozomen. It is now time for us to hear the testimony of the ancients about both writers.

(The article in PDF continues with statements about Socrates and Sozomen from ancient writers, but we will leave it here.)

St Nicholas of Myra, “Life” by Michael the Archimandrite (Vita per Michaelem) now online in English

We all know who Santa Claus is.  Some of us may even know that he is derived from St Nicholas of Myra, who threw three bags of gold through the windows of three poor girls, so that they could have a dowry and get married.  But none of the medieval literature about St Nicholas – who may be a Dark Ages invention anyway – has been translated into English.

I became aware of this a few months ago, and also that a translation of the earliest Life – by Michael the Archimandrite, the Vita per Michaelem – had been started by Prof John Quinn and was online at the St Nicholas Center website.  Unfortunately he only completed 11 chapters before his untimely death.

Thankfully Bryson Sewell has come to the rescue and has translated 12-52.  The St Nicholas Center have kindly agreed to allow Dr Quinn’s translation to be made Creative Commons-NoCommercial-NoDerivative4.0, thereby allowing the whole item to circulate.  They’ve completed Dr Quinn’s translation on their own site in a rather splendid way; and I am uploading my version of the thing here.  The text is the same, but this version has less pictures and more footnotes, and also my introduction.

Here are the files:

I’ve also placed these files at here.

Bryson’s portion of the work, and my introduction, are public domain.  But you can circulate these files are you like for non-commercial usage.

Uploading the remains of the failed al-Makin transcription project

If you wish to learn the literature of a people, a good place to start is their histories of themselves.  For Arabic Christian literature – the literature of the Christian peoples occupied by the Muslims in the 7th century, there are five such histories.  I have done some work on Agapius and Eutychius.

But the world history from the Creation to his own times of al-Makin, a 13th century writer, has remained outside the knowledge of most people.  It exists in two parts; the first part taking the story up to the Arab Invasions, and the second part to his own day.

The first part of al-Makin has never been printed, to my knowledge.  The second part was badly printed by Erpenius centuries ago from a manuscript which had lost the last section, with a Latin translation.  The missing text at the end was printed by Cahen in the 1950’s.

Foolishly, I decided that it ought to be possible to get the whole text transcribed from manuscripts.  If an electronic Arabic text existed, then at least we could all use machine translation on it or something.

Unfortunately the project went hopelessly awry, because I was dealing with people in other cultures, who proved intractable.  I ended up $600 out of pocket and with nothing that was usable.  Somehow my wish to transcribe part 1 became a transcription of part 2.  My wish to transcribe from manuscripts turned into a transcription from Erpenius.  Unfortunately the PDF of Erpenius was damaged; and getting it fixed was beyond my powers of communication or persuasion, even though the portion to fix was trivial, if you know Arabic letters.

In fact the psychological pain, caused by the stress and frustration in trying to get this done, became so acute that I was obliged to abandon the project.  I have never regretted that decision.  It was stupid for me to try to deal with foreigners on a text in a language which I do not know using an alphabet that I do not know.

I believe that someone with knowledge of Arabic might fix the transcription in an hour.  I could not do so.  If anyone would like to do this, I would be grateful.  So it seems to me that it might be useful to upload the mangled text, and the PDF, marked up with the fixes, in case anyone does feel like running with it.  So here it is:

  • Erpenius_with_fixes – small (PDF of the copy of Erpenius from which the transcription was made, with pages that should have been inserted marked in red, and duplicate pages that should not be in the transcription marked also).
  • complete Makin (PDF of transcription of Erpenius, complete with errors)
  • complete Makin (.doc of transcription)
  • cahen1 (PDF of part 1 of original article by Cahen)
  • cahen2 (PDF of part 2 of original article)
  • cahen1 (.doc) – transcription of Cahen)

I also have PDFs of various manuscripts, about which I have written in other posts (click on the tag for “Al-Makin” at the bottom of this post to see them).  Rubbish quality most of them are too!  But as more manuscripts come online, it may well be possible to attack this problem again.  And it should be done.