Archive for the 'From my diary' Category

Some 1786 images from the Baths of Titus

The Baths of Titus have long been destroyed.  They stood over part of the remains of Nero’s Golden House, itself filled with frescos.

A volume published in 1786 and now online, Ponce, Description des bains de Titus, here, contains a general view of the Baths, as they then stood, together with the entrance to the underground areas; plus two maps.

First the overview, including one of the massive exedras:

Baths_of_Titus_1_Ponce

View of the remains of the Baths of Titus (Thermae Titi) and the entrance to the underground tooms. From Ponce, Description des bains de Titus, 1786.

Next, a map of the underground areas, indicating the foundations of the exedras.

Baths_of_Titus_2_Underground_map_Ponce

Map of the underground areas under the Baths of Titus. Note the foundations of the semi-circular exedras at each end. From Ponce, Description des bains de Titus, 1786.

Finally a map of the overground area, with some elevations.  I wonder, from the notes on it, how much of this was still standing in 1786, tho.  I’m guessing this is merely a reconstruction from Piranesi, etc.

Ponce (1786).  Map of the Baths of Titus, after Piranesi.

Ponce (1786). Map of the Baths of Titus, after Piranesi.

A bunch of Chrysostom and ps.Chrysostom now online in English

Sometime correspondent “Inepti Graeculi” has been working away on some of the untranslated works of Chrysostom, and also some of the mass of literature attributed to him in transmission.

This sort of work is excellent.  Voicu has estimated that there are around 1,500 texts which are spuriously attributed to Chrysostom.  They are, of course, works which lost their original author, but were considered sufficiently interesting to be preserved; which means that they deserve attention now.  These translations should do much to make that happen!

There’s a list of material recently translated by IG at the bottom; but coming soon also is…

Ps.Chrysostom’s In Parabolam Ficu (CPG 4588) – a popular work that argues against the notion that God rejected the Jews (versions found in Syriac, Ethiopic, translated five times into Arabic (!), also in a very important manuscript in Slavonic etc etc.  Wrongly ascribed to Severian of Gabala in the Armenian tradition. Voicu assigns this to an anonymous Cappadocian. The amazing Sever Voicu’s short outline of Chrystostom in the Oriental tradition is quite eye-opening.

I have also nearly finished Chrysostom’s Non Esse Desperandum (CPG 4390) which I very much enjoyed

Here are the recent releases!

Pseudo-Chrysostom

Title CPG Comment Version
In Jordanem Fluvuium 4548 Attributed to Severian of Gabala by Marx (1939) but this was rejected by Altendorf (1957). Calvin should have read this. 0.1 Link
De Cognitione Dei 4703 A short homily in which  the speaker relates that Christ’s advent brought the knowledge of god (θεογνωσία). He then briefly addresses neophytes and invites the audience to pilgrimage to the Jordan. Possibly delivered at Bethlehem on the night before the celebration of Christ’s baptism 0.1 Link

 

Precatio in Obsessos 4710 One of several prayers published by Montfaucon (and reprinted by Migne) as a supplement to the Liturgy ascribed to John Chrysostom. Montfaucon sourced this text from Goar, Rituale Graecorum, Paris, 1647, p. 783. It was not included in Savile’s or Fronto’s Chrysostom edition. This little prayer is still found in the liturgical books of Eastern Orthodox churches. 0.2 Link
In Ingressum sanctorum jejuniorum 4665 On fasting and drunkenness. Ascribed to Proclus (Marx, Le Roy, De Aldama) or an anonymous sophistic rhetor (Musurillo) 0.1 Link
In sanctum Stephanum 2 4691 One of several homilies on the Protomartyr Stephen among the Ps.-Chrysostomica 0.1 Link
Encomium in sanctos martyres 4759 Text: Aubineau (1975) 0.1 Link

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

Up to now, Eutychius has repeated material derived from the Greek chronographic tradition.  As we saw in the last post, in chapter 10, for the first time, he introduces material from elsewhere: a now lost Sassanid Persian chronicle, beginning with Ardashir, founder of that dynasty.  Since it is unlikely that Eutychius knew Middle Persian, we may reasonably surmise that he consulted it in an Arabic translation.

5.  As for Sabur, son of Azdashir, king of the Persians, as far as he could he ruled the people with justice.  He dedicated himself to visit the provinces and to support the urban system of the countries.  After eleven years of his reign, he marched with his soldiers to the city of Nisibis (23), in which were garrisoned many soldiers of Antoninus Caracalla, King of the Romans, and he besieged it for some time without being able to conquer it.  Once aware of being unable to get the better of it, he ordered a large, spacious well-fortified seige-tower to be built next to the city.  After it was completed, he climbed up with the generals of his army, and looked down from the height into the inside of the city.  They shot arrows, so that no one dared to go into the open.  Eventually the besieged decided to surrender the city.  Meanwhile, it was reported that an enemy out of Khurasan had attacked the people of his kingdom.  For this reason, he sent messengers to the nobles of Nisibis, proposing to them either to give entry to the soldiers there that had kept them engaged in combat until his return, or to enter into a covenant with him, by which they agreed not to remove the seige-engine unless he did not return.  They preferred to enter into a covenant with him, and an agreement whereby they undertook to leave the bastion where it was, and the king left.  However the people of Nisibis poured out of the walls of the city, opened a gap in the wall near the place where the seige-engine was, took it inside the city, and surrounded it with a well fortified wall.

6. Antoninus Caesar, King of the Romans, diedAfter him reigned over the Romans Marcianus Caesar (24), for a year and two monthsHe was killed, and after him reigned another Antoninus Caesar (25) for three years and nine months.  This happened in the fourteenth year of the reign of Sabur, king of the Persians[Antoninus Caesar] sent a huge army to Nisibis to defend and protect the city. In the first year of the reign of Antoninus Caesar Bitiyanus was made patriarch of Rome (26).  He held the office for five years and diedIn the second year of his reign Zebennus was made patriarch of Antioch. He held the office for nine years and died.

7. Quanto a Sābūr, figlio di Azdashir, re dei Persiani, tornato che fu a Nissfbfn e visto quel che gli abitanti avevano fatto del propugnacolo, li tacciò di tradimento e disse:

7.  As for Sabur, son of Azdashir, king of the Persians, he returned to Nisibis and saw what the people had done to the seige-engine, he spoke of betrayal and said:  “You have been rebels, and have broken the covenant.”  So he besieged the city.  But since already a long time had passed, without having found a way to get the better of the city, he was worried and said to his men, “Come, let us see if there is any of our soldiers who are not worrying at all about how long this is taking!”  They made a tour of the field and found two men intent on drinking wine and singing. [The king] said to them:  “Seemingly you have no right to be with us, since you behave in this way and you stand on the sidelines.”  They answered: “O king, however worried you are about how to conquer this city, we have a good chance of success, if you do what we tell you.”  “How so?” asked the king. They replied: “Advance with your soldiers in close order, and raise invocations to your Lord, to make you conquer the city.” Sabur ordered that it should be done as they had said.  But since that was no good, he said to them: “We have implemented your advice, but we have not seen any results. What have you to say to us now?” They answered: “We fear that what we suggested doing has just been taken lightly. But if you think it’s possible to get them to be sincere in what they do, and to invoke their Lord all together, as if it was the invocation of one man, then you’ll get what you want.”  Sabur then summoned his men and urged them to do what they were going to do with sincere intention and firm conviction.  It is said that they had not yet raised the second invocation when the wall fell down from top to bottom, leaving open a passage through which the men were able to enter the city.  Great was the dismay of the inhabitants and they exclaimed: “This is what we deserve for our treachery!”  Sabur entered the city and killed as many warriors as he could.  Then he captured the rest of the inhabitants, and took away with him many riches.  He left just as it was the gap that had opened in the walls, because people saw it and it was a lesson to them.  Next he stormed several cities of Syria, slaughtering the inhabitants and taking away great plunder.  He overran the territories of the Romans and made great slaughter, occupying Qalawniyah (27) and Cappadocia.

8. Antoninus Caesar, King of the Romans, died.  After him reigned over the Romans, in Rome, Alexander Caesar (28) for thirteen years.  This was in the seventeenth year of the reign of Sabur, son of Azdashir, king of the Persians.  In his day the Christians lived peacefully and were left in peace.  His mother’s name was Marna (29) and he was very fond of the Christians.  In the first year of his reign Heraclas was made patriarch of Alexandria.  He held the office for thirteen years and died.  It was in his time that the Patriarch of Alexandria was called “Baba”, or “grandfather”.  In the third year of his reign Antis was made patriarch of Rome (30).  He held the office for twelve years and died.  In the eighth year of his reign Babilas was made Patriarch of Antioch.  He held the office for eight years and died.  In the second year of his reign Narcissus he was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for twelve years, and fled.

Constantinople photos: the original width of the Hippodrome, plus the column of Arcadius

A couple of items have appeared on twitter this morning that I am loathe to let go by.  The first is a splendid, end-on view of the Hippodrome in Istanbul.  Note the arches at the foot of it.  This end of the Hippodrome was supported by them; which means that we can see just how wide the structure originally was!

End-on view of Hippodrome, Istanbul, from the air

End-on view of Hippodrome, Istanbul, from the air

I learn from Ste. Trombetti that the column of Arcadius, the “columna historiata”, was demolished in 1715, but a drawing of it survives (this from BNF):

Column of Arcadius, Istanbul, in 17th c.

Column of Arcadius, Istanbul, pre-1715.

However the base of the column does still exist, deprived of its reliefs!

Column of Arcadius, Istanbul.

Column of Arcadius, Istanbul.

Marvellous!

UPDATE: Dr Trombetti also draws my attention to this stunning blog post on the column of Arcadius, complete with early maps showing it intact, early drawings of the column, its reliefs, sections, early photographs, and a google maps diagram indicating its location in the modern city.  The blog is in Turkish but if you view the page using the Chrome browser and let it translate automatically for you then you will get 95% of what the author says.

A first century fragment of Mark’s gospel? Some thoughts by an outsider

An article in Live Science two days ago:

Mummy Mask May Reveal Oldest Known Gospel

A text that may be the oldest copy of a gospel known to exist — a fragment of the Gospel of Mark that was written during the first century, before the year 90 — is set to be published. …

This first-century gospel fragment was written on a sheet of papyrus that was later reused to create a mask that was worn by a mummy.

Some sensible words of caution are here; and here at ETC, where it is suggested that the article at Live Science may be entirely derived from some public presentations.  There has also been some curious snarking from one or two papyrologists, who are not involved in the discovery, presumably out of sour grapes.

Is this a genuine discovery?  Who knows?  But I have some concerns about all this, even based on the story as we have it.

Mark’s gospel was completed ca. 70 AD, in Alexandria, according to the ancient literary sources, and to me there seems no pressing reason to suppose that they are wrong.  So it is possible, in principle, that a piece of an early copy could be found in waste papyrus in Egypt.  There’s no real reason why not.

But … surely it is somewhat improbable that one of the few copies of this text in existence at that date should happen to turn up in the limited amount of mummy cartonnage that has so far been dismantled?  Isn’t it?  Consider the vast output of papyrus made every year in ancient Egypt, of which a certain proportion ended up as waste papyrus.  What, statistically, are the chances of a 1st century copy of Mark being in that proportion?  They must be slim.

We’re told that portions of Homer have turned up, and this is not a surprise.  Likewise that documentary texts are found: this too does not surprise.  But something that must always have been a very rare item?

Of course probability is just that; a calculation based on averages.  All the same, it’s troubling.

In general, when a discovery is made which bears on matters of current interest or controversy (rather than something which was controversial in antiquity), it is wise to consider the possibility of forgery.   In the renaissance people forged stone monuments supposedly from well-known figures of classical antiquity, in order to make money.  Forgeries of papyri are not at all unknown.

There is a fingerprint for forgery, noted by Stephen C. Carlson.  By its very nature, a forgery must be of something which is exciting to people in the period in which it is “discovered”.   That’s where the money is.  Nobody is going to forge something that nobody is interested in.  But it is often the case that this modern excitement is over something that would not have been exciting in antiquity.  It is this dichotomy that marks out a forgery.

So any “discovery” that is of current interest, that fits squarely into a matter of current agitation, or fits the political or religious views of the discoverer particularly well, must be scrutinised with rational but exceptional caution.  Otherwise we will all be hoodwinked by those enterprising gentlemen in Turkey and Palestine whose attempts at forgery regularly attract interest from specialists.

A discovery of a first century fragment of a gospel fits that profile squarely.  A first century gospel could not have been of special interest in antiquity, when they were composed, but it would be very interesting today!

It is, therefore, of the utmost importance to do things right; to establish the provenance of the item, to look for signs of forgery, to get a range of experts involved, and, above all, to shed as much light as possible on the item.

When P52 was identified in the 1930s, the discoverer, Colin Roberts, proceeded with extreme care.  He did not publish, nor did he announce his find, until it had been examined by all the leading paleographers of the day, and a consensus reached.  The wisdom of his approach is evident: his result has not been seriously questioned in 80 years, even though it contradicted the established wisdom of biblical studies at the time, and reinforced the fondest wishes of Christians.

By contrast the way in which this supposed first century fragment is being made known raises in me the worst suspicions.

The papyrus trade is a secretive one, partly because of the foolishness of the Egyptian government in declaring all finds the property of state officials, and partly because of the stupidity of western activists, who harass those involved in the black market that has inevitably arisen.  It is, therefore, entirely understandable that nothing should be announced until everything is ready.  And if that silence is used, as Colin Roberts did, to determine the facts and build consensus, then well and good.  That’s one way to publish.

The alternative is better.  It is to shine a bright light on everything.  Publish the fragments now, without any very firm attributions, as soon as possible, with the provenance, and crowd-source an examination of every element of it.  The truth will out, and a consensus will come into being rather rapidly, as it did for the forgery known as the “gospel of Jesus’ wife”.

Either approach is acceptable.  But we seem to have neither.  Instead we have the worst of both worlds.

On the one hand we have a drip-drip of non-academic reportage, excitedly making all sorts of claims, possibly based on no more than a video by somebody who may (or may not) be involved in the project at all.  This feeds the fever of speculation; which, of course, increases the price that may be asked for publication, and generally increases the commercial value of the property.  It seems to benefit nobody in any other way that I can see.

On the other hand, we have an entire silence on all the matters that would allow professionals to form a judgement.

It is reminiscent of some of the hype around the Coptic Gospel of Judas.  That was a genuine text, and this mixture of whispers and real information is what we tended to get.  I suppose, in fairness, that this may be how Americans do things, for all I know.

But it is also reminiscent of how forgers operate: people whose sole aim is to boost the value of their merchandise and make a quick buck while the going is good.  For all I know, there is some Turkish forger at work, using some clever Swiss lawyer (or whatever) to control the whole process via “confidentiality agreements”, and manipulating the scholars at the far end who seek merely to recover knowledge.

If the discovery is genuine, then it is wonderful.  Any recovery of lost texts from antiquity is a joy, and any very early witness to any important text is to be treasured.

But is it genuine?  We cannot say.  But the manner in which it is becoming known to the public does nothing to give me confidence.

So I think we need to hold our horses, and await proper publication.  To me, all this is too good to be true.  But let’s hope not.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 10 (part1)

Eutychius is obscure, so perhaps a reminder is in order.  It is often forgotten that the lands conquered by the Arabs contained large populations which did not instantly turn into Arabs, or into Moslems.  This text, the “Annals” is by the Melkite patriarch of Alexandria in the 10th century, Eutychius, also known as Sa`id ibn Bitriq.  Compiled from older chronicles going back to Eusebius of Caesarea, this is the first of the Arabic Christian histories.  It’s interesting to see what a man at that date knew about the past.

Chapter 10.

1. In the tenth year of his reign the Persians appeared, who conquered Babil, Amid (1) and Persis.  Their king was Azdashir, son of Tabak, son of Shashan (2), a native of Istakhr (3), who was the first king to reign once again over Persia.  He sent letters to all the kings of Persia near him, and to the rulers of distant lands, asking them to recognize him as their king and give him their support, warning those, who dared oppose him, with threats of death and punishment.  When the edicts and letters came to these kings, great was their fear.  Some hastened to promise obedience and to assure him of their support; others waited until he went personally to them: then he made them pay obedience and submit themselves, some by love and some by force; others, however, refused to do what he had commanded them, and they were killed and destroyed.  To those who had immediately given him obedience, he rewarded them with magnanimity and elevated their position, denying, however, to everyone the title of king, because only he, and no other, could reign.  He moved continuously from one kingdom to another, from one king to another and from one country to another, until he came into the city of Zahl (4), which is in front of Maskin (5), also known as al-Hisn, within which was the King of as-Sawad (6). Azdashir besieged it long, without being able to take it.  Then out of the citadel, to watch the soldiers of Azdashir, came the daughter of the king — I mean the King of as-Sawad.  Seeing Azdashir, she was taken with the attractiveness of this man, and she fell in love.  Therefore she took an arrow and wrote on it:  “If you promise to marry me, I will show you a place from where you will be able to conquer this city.”  Then she shot the arrow in the direction of Azdashir. He found that he liked what she had written. He wrote this reply on the arrow: “I promise that I will do what you asked me,” and shot it in the direction of women.  When she had read it, she wrote: “This city has a small gate, built of unbaked bricks, in this place,” and described him the place.  Azdashir immediately sent some of his men to that place, while he kept the others engaged on another front, and he was able in this way to go through that place without the knowledge of the inhabitants of the city.  So he killed the king and had the better of all those who were in the city.  Afterwards Azdashir married the daughter of the king, as he had promised.  But one night. while he slept in his bed, [the woman] arose, and went out all night.  Looking around, on the next day, Azdashir saw, under the outer garment of the woman, on the bed, an olive leaf that had left its mark on her skin.  Azdashir asked her then with what her father nourished her, and she replied:  “Mostly on the cream of milk, honey and marrow.”  Azdashir said: “I do not know if anyone can give you as much love and honour as your father gave you. Yet you repaid him, contrary to what you should have rather done, with death.  You are not worthy of being in the world.  And I will avenge him.  If love blinded you, and took away your mind enough to make you forget your duty to your father, I am afraid that you will do the same thing to me also”.  So saying, he ordered them to tie her hair to the tail of a big horse and let him run.  This was done as [the king] ordered, and she was torn apart (7).

2. Commodus Caesar, king of the Romans, died.  After him reigned Bartinfqūs (8), king of the Romans, for three months and was killed.  After him reigned over the Romans Julianus Caesar (9) for two months and was killed.  After him reigned over the Romans, in Rome, Severus Caesar (10) for seventeen years.  This happened in the fourth year of the reign of Azdashir, son of Tabak.  This king Severus was wicked and procured for the Christians great misfortunes and much affliction.  In his day, many Christians found martyrdom everywhere.  Then he went to Egypt and had killed all the Christians who were in Egypt and Alexandria, destroying the churches.  At Alexandria he built a temple and called it the “Temple of the Gods”.  In the fourteenth year of his reign Callixtus was made patriarch of Rome (11).  He held the office for six years and died.  In the third year of his reign Asclepiades was made patriarch of Antioch.  He held the office for nine years and died.  In the twelfth year of his reign Philetus was made patriarch of Antioch.  He led the office for thirteen years and died.  In the first year of his reign Capito was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for four years and died.  In the sixth year of his reign Maximus was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for four years and died.  In the tenth year of his reign Antoninus was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for five years and died.

3. As for Azdashir, son of Tabak, king of the Persians, he attempted to administer his people as justly as possible.  He founded six cities, namely the city of Gawr (12) and the city of Azdashirākhurrah (13), both in Persia; [the city of] Bahman-Azdashir (14), i.e. Furat al-Basrah, [the city of] Astādābād (15), i.e. Baysan Karkh in the district between the Tigris, the town of Souq al-Ahwaz (16) and one of the three cities that are in as-Sawad.  He rebuilt three cities, one of which is al-Khatt (17) to the west of the transfluvial region, the second is Bahārsamir near Karman, and the other is the city of al-Aylah (18).

4. Having reigned for fourteen years and six months Azdashir died.  There reigned after him his son Sabur, son of Azdashir (19), for thirty years and one month.  This was in the twelfth year of the reign of Severus Caesar, King of the Romans.  Severus Caesar died and reigned in Rome, after him, Antoninus Caesar Caracalla, the Bald (20), for six years.  In the third year of his reign  Uryānūs was made patriarch of Rome (21).  He held the office for four years and died.  In the first year of his reign Valens was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for three years and died.  In the fifth year of his reign Dulichianus was made bishop of Jerusalem (22).  He held the office for four years and died.

Help wanted by Perseus with metadata for Patrologia Graeca

The Perseus project are working on the Patrologia Graeca and Patrologia Latina.  I’m not entirely certain what they are hoping to produce as output, but it looks as if they are OCRing the volumes, as best they can, and producing lists of what texts are contained, on what pages/column numbers, what footnotes, introductions, etc.  They also need help with proofreading.

It might be a fun thing to get involved in, if you have some time (which I don’t myself).  Although how you contact them I don’t know (for, curiously, they do not say).

Via here, and slightly reformatted:

Help sought with Metadata for the Open Patrologia Graeca Online

http://tinyurl.com/p39fx3f  [draft — January 19, 2015]
Gregory Crane (Perseus Project and the Open Philology Project, The University of Leipzig and Tufts University)

We are looking for help in preparing metadata for the Patrologia Graeca (PG) component of what we are calling the Open Migne Project; an attempt to make the most useful possible transcripts of the full Patrologia Graeca and Patrologia Latina freely available.

Help can consist of proofreading, additional tagging, and checking the volume/column references to the actual PG.

In particular, we would welcome seeing this data converted into a dynamic index to online copies of the PG in Archive.org, the HathiTrust, Google Books, or Europeana.

For now, we make the working XML metadata document available on an as-is basis.

They’ve been attacking the OCR in an interesting way:

Nick White … trained and ran the Tesseract OCR engine and Bruce Robertson [ran] … the OCRopus OCR engine on scans of multiple copies of each volume of the Patrologia Graeca.

The resulting OCR [outputs] contain … a very very high percentage of the correct readings [allowing] very useful searching, as well as text mining…

This is all very well; but of course you need to be able to label each text, so that you can find things.  This means indexing the texts and tagging them.  There is already an index, created by Cavallera in 1912.  So…

To support this larger effort, we are working on Metadata for the collection.

We have OCRd and begun editing the core index at columns 13-114 of Cavallera’s 1912 index to the PG ([link] here).

A working TEI XML transcription, which has begun capturing the data within the print source, is available for inspection here.

I must confess a small bit of pride here: for I had long forgotten that I uploaded that PDF of Cavallera to the web.  But this is the beauty of the web – each contribution makes another contribution possible.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 9 (to end)

15. At that time the Jews returned to Jerusalem.  They then became so numerous that they filled the city, they decided to give themselves a king.  Hearing about this, Trajan Caesar sent one of his generals to Jerusalem at the head of a large army (41).  Countless Jews were killed in that way.  Now it happened that at Babylon a rebel rose up against this king Trajan.  The king Trajan marched against him, and between the two there was a violent combat.  Many men fell on both sides in that war, and the king Trajan was killed (42).

16. After him reigned Aelius Hadrian Caesar for twenty years (43).  He waged war on the rebel of Babylon and defeated him.  He then passed into Egypt; he subjected the population to severe hardships, forcing people to worship idols and for this reason he put to death many Christians, including Eustathius, his wife and their two children: he dropped them in a copper kettle, poured water on them, lit a fire under the boiler and made them die groaning in agony (44). The king Aelius Hadrian Caesar was hit by a horrible disease that spread throughout the body, and he began to go from one country to another in search of some medicine able to heal his body and cure his disease.  Finally it was suggested that he go to Jerusalem.  But having arrived there, and found that the city was all a mass of ruins and that there was nothing but the church of Christians, he ordered that a city be built around the temple, and furnished with a strong tower.  Having heard this, the Jews flocked from every country and city.  In a short time the city was full, and they were many, and gave themselves a king named Barğūziyā (45).  The king Aelius Hadrian, being made aware of the fact, sent one of his generals at the head of many men who besieged the city.  All those who were there died of hunger and thirst.  Then he conquered it, killed many Jews and destroyed the city, leaving it empty (46).

This was the final destruction of Jerusalem.  Some of the Jews fled to Egypt, others in Syria, others to the mountains and others to Ghor.  The king ordered that no Jew should live in the city.  He ordered to kill the Jews and annihilate the race.  He then ordered that the city should be inhabited by Greeks and called Aelia (47), from the name of the king.  After that, in fact, Jerusalem was called the city of Aelius.  The Greeks lived there and built a tower at the door of the temple called “The Splendour”.  On it they put a large tablet on which was written the name of King Aelius.  The tower, today, is the one that is close to the gate of the city of Jerusalem called “Mihrāb Dāwud” (48).

17. From the previous destruction by Titus, to this one, fifty-three years had passed.  Soon Jerusalem was populated by Greeks.  But seeing that Christians used to go to pray to the place of garbage, under which the Holy Sepulchre was found, and the place called The Skull, the Greeks prevented this and built on that place of garbage a temple dedicated to Venus; this was so that no Christian could go any more close to the unclean place (49).  In the sixth year of the reign of Hadrian, Hyginus was made patriarch of Rome (50).  He held the office for four years and died.  In the tenth year of his reign Marcus was made patriarch of Rome (51).  He held the office for fifteen years and died.  In the ninth year of his reign Cornelius was made patriarch of Antioch.  He held the office for sixteen years and died.  In the second year of his reign Eumenes was made patriarch of Alexandria.  He held the office for twelve years and died.  In the fourteenth year of his reign Marcian was made patriarch of Alexandria.  He held the office for ten years and died.  In the fourth year of his reign Tobias was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for three years and died.  In the seventh year of his reign Benjamin was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for three years and died.  In the tenth year of his reign John was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the seat for two years and died.  In the thirteenth year of his reign Matateus [or Mattias] was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for two years and died.  In the fifteenth year of his reign Philip was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for two years and died.  In the seventeenth year of his reign Seneca was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for only one year and died.  In the eighteenth year of his reign Justus was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for five years and died.

18. The king Aelius died, and after him reigned in Rome Antoninus Caesar for twenty-two years (53).  In the fifth year of his reign Anicetus was made patriarch of Rome (54). He held the office for eleven years and died.  In the sixteenth year of his reign Soterus was made patriarch of Rome (55).  He held the office for eight years and died.  In the fourth year of his reign Celadio was made patriarch of Alexandria (56).  He held the office for eleven years and died.  In the fifteenth year of his reign Agrippinus was made patriarch of Alexandria (57).  He held the office for twelve years and died.  In the third year of his reign Arus was made patriarch of Antioch.  He held the office for thirteen years and died.  In the sixteenth year of his reign Theophilus was made Patriarch of Antioch. He held the office for twenty-one years and died.  In the first year of his reign Levi was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for five years and died.  In the sixth year of his reign Ephrem was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the seat for two years and died.  In the eighth year of his reign Arsenius was made bishop of Jerusalem (58).  He held the office for three years and died.  In the eleventh year of his reign Judah was made bishop of Jerusalem. He held the office for two years and died.

From James, first bishop of Jerusalem, to this Judah, Bishop of Jerusalem, the bishops who had succeeded to the See of Jerusalem were of the circumcision (59).  In the thirteenth year of the reign of Antoninus Marcus was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for eight years and died.  In the twenty-first year of his reign Cassianus was made bishop of Jerusalem. He held the office for five years and died.

19. Antoninus Caesar died.  After him reigned Marcus, called Aurelius Caesar and also called Antoninus swrs (60).  He reigned for nineteen years and died.  He procured for the Christians great misfortunes and long affliction.  Many Christians found martyrdom in his day.  There was, in his day, severe famine, drought and pestilence.  For two years no rain fell and the king and the people of his kingdom were about to die by famine and pestilence.  Therefore he asked the Christians to invoke their Lord so there would be rain.  The Christians then lifted up imploring voices to their Lord: God made a lot of water rain on them, and the pestilence and drought disappeared (61).

20. At the time of this king the sage Meghitiyūs lived in Greece  (62). In the second year of his reign Eleuterius was made patriarch of Rome (63).  He held the seat for fifteen years and died.  In the seventeenth year of his reign Victor was made patriarch of Rome (64).  He held the office for ten years and died.  In the fifth year of his reign Julian was made patriarch of Alexandria (65).  He held the office for ten years and died.  In the fifteenth year of his reign Demetrius was made patriarch of Alexandria (66).  He held the office for forty years and died.  He was the first patriarch to ordain bishops in the province of Egypt.  In the fifteenth year of his reign Maximus was made patriarch of Antioch.  He held the seat for nine years and died.  In the fourth year of his reign Eusebius was made bishop of Jerusalem (67).  He held the seat for two years and died.  In the sixth year of his reign Būliyūs was made patriarch (sic!) of Jerusalem (68).  He held the office for five years and died.  In the eleventh year of his reign Maximus was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for four years and died.  In the fifteenth year of his reign Julian was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the seat for two years and died.  In the seventeenth year of his reign Gaius was made bishop of Jerusalem (69).  He held the office for three years and died.

21. At that time Demetrius, patriarch of Alexandria, wrote to Gaius, bishop of Jerusalem, Maximus, Patriarch of Antioch and Victor, Patriarch of Rome, on the calculation of Easter for the Christians, and on their times of fasting, as well as how to calculate the time starting from the passover of the Jews.  He drew up in this regard many writings and letters which established that the Christian Easter is celebrated according to the practice still in use today.  This is because the Christians were accustomed, after the ascension into heaven of Christ, our Lord, to celebrate the feast of his Baptism (70) starting from that day to fast for forty days, after which they broke the fast precisely as Christ our Lord had done.  For Christ, our Lord, having received baptism in the Jordan, retired to the desert and stayed there, fasting, for the period of forty days.  The Christians were accustomed thus to celebrate their Easter in the same period in which fell that of the Jews [the passover].  Those patriarchs settled thus the calculation of Easter, so that the Christians fasted for forty days and broke the fast on Easter Day (71).

22. The king Marcus [Aurelius] Caesar died.  After him there reigned at Rome Commodus Caesar (72), son of Antoninus, for twelve years.  In his time there lived in Greece, in the city of Pergamum, the physician Galen, initiator of the medical art.  Among other things Galen records, in the index of his own books, that he was the tutor of king Commodus.  And likewise Galen tells us, in the first treatise of [his] book known under the title of Kitāb Akhlāq an-Nafs (73), that there was in the days of King Commodus a man named Perennis (74) whom the king Commodus sent to call to him, intending to kill him.  But [Perennis] fled.  [This Perennis] had two servants, and the king had them flogged to make them show him where their master could be found.  But from nobility of mind, and wanting at all costs to save the life of their master, they preferred to remain silent.  From Alexander to Perennis five hundred and sixteen years had passed, since this incident is located in the ninth year of the reign of Commodus Caesar.  So says Galen.  In his day, the sage Dīmuqrātis flourished.  In the eighth year of his reign Fūritūs was made patriarch of Rome (75).  He held the seat for eighteen years and died.  In the fifth year of his reign Serapion was made patriarch of Antioch.  He held the office for ten years and died.  In the first year of his reign Symmachus was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for two years and died.  In the third year of his reign Gaius was made bishop of Jerusalem (76).  He held the office for three years and died.  In the sixth year of his reign Julian was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for four years and died.  In the eleventh year of his reign Elias was made bishop of Jerusalem (77). He held the seat for two years and died.

John the Lydian, “On the Roman months”, books 1-3: now online in English

Mischa Hooker has very kindly translated books 1, 2 and 3 of John the Lydian, De Mensibus (On the Roman Months) for us all.  The results are now in the public domain: do as you like with them, and use them for personal, educational or commercial purposes.

Book 1 did not make it to us as a continuous text; instead there are a series of quotations from later writers, assembled and numbered by Wuensch, the editor.  The other two books are more or less complete.

The description of the Roman circus and the objects on the spina, in book 1, should be of general interest!

Here they are:

It’s great to know that this valuable resource is now accessible to everyone!

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 9 (part 3)

8.  At the time of Nero Caesar, there lived a sage named Andrūmākhus who prepared for king Nero a very effective theriac, called by the Arabs “Diryâq” (16).  King Nero was killed in Rome.  When he learned that the king had been killed, Vespasian lifted the siege of Jerusalem, returned to Caesarea and halted there.  After him [=Nero], there reigned Ghalyās (17) for seven months, and he was killed.  After him reigned Unūn (18) for three months and he was deposed.  After him reigned Nibtāliyūs (19) for eight months, and he was killed.  The empire of the Romans was violently shaken and the peoples revolted.  After violent strife and great trouble, all the generals, commanders and officials of the territories of Rome and the East were unanimous in designating as king Vespasian, who had besieged Jerusalem.  He left Caesarea and went to Rome.  He had already reached the outskirts of Rome, when the generals who were in the city rose up against a general named Artitin, who wanted to take possession of the kingdom, and killed him.  Then they came out from the city to meet Vespasian and put on his head the crown of the kingdom.  After he entered into the city and sat on the throne of the kingdom, Vespasian put to death every person who was dangerous and lawless in Rome, so that the Roman territory was once more stable and peaceful.  He had two sons: one was called Titus (20) and the other Domitian.  He sent Domitian with a large army against the barbarians and the nations:  he killed them, subdued them and wiped them out.  And he sent Titus, after giving him a large army, to Jerusalem.  He besieged it for two years, and all those who were in the city died from hunger, even coming to eat the flesh of corpses and the flesh of their children because of the great famine.

Eventually Titus conquered the city and killed all the men and women that were there.  His soldiers gutted pregnant women and killed little children by banging them against the rocks.  [Titus] destroyed the city and dedicated the Temple to the fire.  He then counted those who had been killed by his efforts, and counted three million.  The survivors fled either to Syria, Egypt or Ghor (21).

9. From the birth of Christ, our Lord, to when Titus destroyed Jerusalem, there passed 70 years;  from Alexander to when Titus destroyed Jerusalem, 389 years; from the Babylonian captivity to when Titus destroyed Jerusalem, 652 years; from the kingdom of David to when Titus destroyed Jerusalem, 1129 years; from the exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt to when Titus destroyed Jerusalem, 1735 years; from Abraham to when Titus destroyed Jerusalem, 2242 years; by Fāliq when Titus destroyed Jerusalem, 2,783 years; from the flood to when Titus destroyed Jerusalem, 3314 years; from Adam to when Titus destroyed Jerusalem, 5570 years.

10. When the Christians, who fled away from the Jews and had crossed the Jordan and settled in those places, learned that Titus had destroyed the city and killed the Jews, they returned to Jerusalem, which was in ruins, and lived there and built a church and put at its head a second bishop named Simon, son of Cleophas.  This Cleophas was the brother of Joseph who had brought up Christ our Lord.  This happened in the fourth year of the reign of Vespasian.  Vespasian had ruled for twenty-six years old when he killed the king Trajan (22).  In the third year of his reign there was made patriarch of Rome Daklītiyūs (23).  He held the office for two years and died. In the fifth year of his reign was made [patriarch] Clement of Rome (24). He was a Kātib (25).  He held the office for nine years and died.  In the ninth year of his reign there was made patriarch of Alexandria Fīlftiyūs. He held the office for thirteen years and died. Vespasian reigned with power and authority for nine years and seven months and died.

11.  After him his son Titus reigned for three years and two and a half months and died (26).  After him reigned his brother Domitian for fifteen years (27).  He was so ruthless towards the Jews that not even one could be seen in his day.  He had proposed to kill all the kings and their children, so that there would be on earth no king but him.  He therefore killed the sons of the sons of kings and killed many kings.  He was then told that the Christians were saying that Christ was their king, and that his kingdom would last forever, and it was also learned that they formed a large army and were otherwise numerous.  Great was his indignation and he ordered the Christians to be put to death, if any of them were found in his realm.

12.  The Evangelist John was then at Nīshas (28).  Hearing this, he felt great fear, and fled to Ephesus. The king sent his men to Jerusalem, arrested the children of Judah, son of Joseph, one of the disciples, and they bound them and took them to Rome.  Having asked them about Christ and his kingdom, they then said to him: “His kingdom is a heavenly [kingdom], not of this world.  At the end of time he will come with great honour and glory, to judge the living and the dead, and give each one his own reward according to the deeds of each person.”(29).  Hearing them speak in this way, he felt great fear, let them go on their way and ordered that the Christians should no longer be persecuted.  In the second year of his reign Evaristus was made patriarch of Rome (30). He held the office for eight years and died.  In the tenth year of his reign Alexander was made patriarch of Rome (31).  He held the office for ten years and died.  In the fifteenth year of his reign Kurdiyūs was made patriarch of Alexandria (32).  He held the office for ten years and died.  In the fifteenth year of his reign Primus was made patriarch of Alexandria.  He held the office for twelve years and died.

13. The king Domitian Caesar died. After him there reigned in Rome Nerva Caesar, called Barastiyūs Caesar (33), for a year and five months and died.  After him there reigned in Rome Trajan Caesar, called Hadrian Caesar, for nineteen years (34).  This king procured for the Christians serious misfortunes, long affliction and great tribulations.  He put to death many martyrs, and at Rome he had Ignatius, Patriarch of Antioch, executed.  And he had killed Simon, son of Cleophas, Bishop of Jerusalem, on the cross, at the age of one hundred and twenty years (35).  He ordered that the Christians should be enslaved because in his opinion they had neither religion nor law (36).  Despite the seriousness of what the Christians were suffering, and the many killings suffered by them, the Romans showed their piety, and the ministers of the king, together with his generals, pleaded their case before him, asserting that they had a steadfast religion and a good law, and therefore that he should no longer continue to oppress them.  [The king] then gave the order not to persecute them, and desisted from harming them.

14.  At the time of King Trajan Caesar, John wrote his Gospel in Greek in an island called Patmos, in Asia, a territory under the jurisdiction of the Romans.  Also in his time lived a remarkable Roman philosopher named Commodus (37).  In the sixth year of his reign Judah was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the seat for seven years and died.  In the fourteenth year of his reign Zacchaeus was made bishop of Jerusalem.  He held the office for nine years and died.  In the sixth year of his reign Brūn was made patriarch of Antioch (38).  He held the office for twenty years and died.  In the fourth year of his reign Sixtus was made patriarch of Rome (39).  He held the office for ten years and died.  In the fourteenth year of his reign Telesphorus was made patriarch of Rome  (40).  He held the office for eleven years and died.  In the eleventh year of his reign Justus was made patriarch of Alexandria. He held the office for ten years and died.



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