Archive Page 2

Photos of the base of the Colossus of Nero, and Mussolini’s alterations to the Colosseum area

While looking for material about the Meta Sudans, I stumbled across something which very few people know.

Most people will know that the Colosseum is named after a colossal statue of Nero that used to stand nearby.  Originally cast in bronze and stood outside the Domus Aurea, it was changed into a statue of the Sun by the Flavians, and moved slightly to stand near their new amphitheatre.

The bronze status is long gone.  But how many people know that the base on which it stood still existed well into the 20th century?  I certainly did not!  Indeed there are photographs of it.  It was demolished by Mussolini, in the course of constructing the Via del foro imperiali.

A modern Italian website identifies its location in red:

Location of the base of the Colossus in red.

Location of the base of the Colossus in red.

Let’s have a look at some of those photographs.

First, an aerial photograph from the Beniculturali website, taken about 1895:

Aerial view of the valley of the Amphitheatre with the base of the Colossus of Nero, the Meta Sudans and the Arch of Constantine in a picture from about 1895.

Aerial view of the valley of the Amphitheatre with the base of the Colossus of Nero, the Meta Sudans and the Arch of Constantine in a picture from about 1895.

In the middle of the left hand side of the Colosseum is a dark rectangular base.  This is where the Colossus stood.  Note that the modern Via del foro imperiali is not on this photograph – it had yet to be built.

Next, a slightly fuzzy ground level photograph from the Wellcome Library, from about 1929:

M0000104 Base of the Colossus of Nero, Coliseum, Rome, Italy Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images Base of the Colossus of Nero, Coliseum, Rome, Italy Photograph 1929 Published:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

Wellcome Library M0000104. Base of the Colossus of Nero, Coliseum, Rome, Italy. 1929

The hill behind the base is the Velian Hill, and it isn’t there today: Mussolini bulldozed it.  If we stood in the same location today, we would have the Colosseum at our back, and a view straight down the Via del Foro Imperiali to the Victor Emmanuel monument in front of us.

Next a couple of photos of the base from different angles, from a montage found online here in a set of flash cards:


A look at the area indicates just what alterations Mussolini made.  This photograph shows that the Colosseum actually stood in a hollow of the hills, approached from the Circus Maximus:


The whole area was rather different:


Mussolini certainly changed all that.

Some may wish to know what the Colossus itself looked like.  We have a medallion of Gordian III, which we already used for the Meta Sudans, which shows the Colossus standing behind it (via here):

Medallion of Gordian III, ca. 240, depicting the Colosseum and Meta Sudans

Medallion of Gordian III, ca. 240, depicting the Colosseum and Meta Sudans

Better than this is a depiction in a gem:


Amethyst gem (1-2nd c. AD) in the Staatliche Museen, Berlin. Antikensammlung inv. FG 2665: Bergmann 1993, 11, pl. 2.3. Via Albertson, p.106-7.

There is a useful 2001 article by Albertson on the Colossus which is available on JSTOR.[1]  He calculates that the Colossus was about 100 feet tall (31.524 m).  The statue had a radiate crown, was nude, with the right hip jutting to the side, and the right arm supported by a rudder, while the  left leans on a pillar.   A globe supports the rudder.

The National Geographic reconstruction of the statue and base looks fairly accurate, therefore (although the background should be the Velian Hill, as we have seen):

National Geographic reconstruction of the Colossus of Nero

National Geographic reconstruction of the Colossus of Nero

  1. [1] Fred C. Albertson, ‘Zenodorus’s “Colossus of Nero”‘, Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, 46 (2001), pp. 95-118.  Online here.

Martyrdom of St. Lacaron – now online in English by Anthony Alcock

Anthony Alcock has translated a long Coptic martyrdom or “passion” for us.  This is the Passion of S. Lacaron, which Orlandi dates to the 8th century.  The text and translation is here:

The Coptic Encyclopedia (vol. 5, 1991) has a useful article on Lacaron here, which reads as follows:

(CE: 1423b-1424a)

LACARON, SAINT, martyr in fourth-century Egypt (feast day: 14 Babah). His Passion has come down in a complete codex in Bohairic in the Vatican Library (Coptic 68, fols. 1-15) (Balestri and Hyvemat, 1908, Vol. 1, pp. 1-23). The text is that of one of the late Coptic Passions from the period of the CYCLES and can be dated to the eighth century. It deals with the period of persecutions under DIOCLETIAN. The Roman prefect ARIANUS comes to Asyut and orders sacrifice to the gods. Lacaron, a soldier, refuses and, after the usual arguments, is put in jail. The text then describes the usual episodes of torture, miraculous healings, sudden conversions—of a magistrate and the torturers themselves—and other visions and heavenly interventions. It includes an account of the archangel Michael’s gathering up the various pieces of Lacaron and restoring them to life. In the end Lacaron is killed, after converting and baptizing the soldiers around him.


Balestri, I., and H. Hyvernat. Acta Martyrum. CSCO 43, 44. Paris, 1908.

Baumeister, T. Martyr Invictus. Der Martyrer als Sinnbild der Erlösung in der Legende und im Kult der frühen koptischen Kirche. Munster, 1972.


It is very useful to have the Coptic Encyclopedia accessible!  And very many thanks indeed to Dr Alcock for making this text accessible!


Further information on Mussolini and the Meta Sudans, by Elizabeth Marlowe

On Wednesday I posted a selection of old photographs of the Meta Sudans, and asked why Mussolini demolished it.  I then came across an article by Elizabeth Marlowe, ‘The Mutability of All Things’: The Rise, Fall and Rise of the Meta Sudans Fountain in Rome,[1] which answered some of these questions.


Meta Sudans.  Du Perac (16th c.)

Meta Sudans. Du Perac (16th c.)


Here is an illustration by Lafrery (1593)[2], which, curiously, Marlowe attributes to Du Perac (whose volume does not contain such an illustration):

Meta Sudans. Lafrery, Speculum Romanae, 1593 (NOT Duperac). Via University of Heidelberg.

Meta Sudans. Lafrery, Speculum Romanae, 1593 (NOT Duperac). Via University of Heidelberg.

By the 19th century, the Meta Sudans was in a sad state.

Already in 1816, the architect Valadier had lamented the fact that the passage of time had produced ‘the most wretched ruins [disgraziatissime rovine]’ right in front of the ‘Famous Flavian Amphitheatre’. A major restoration campaign undertaken in mid-century can be understood as an attempt to address the problem of the Meta’s ugliness. The precarious, upper reaches of the cone were removed, the concavities of the former niches filled in and its jagged, timeworn surfaces smoothed, producing the stable (if somewhat dumpy) appearance of the Meta seen in numerous photographs and postcards of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

It is a pity that no reference is given for the “restoration campaign” – one would like to know more.


To continue:

The official commission of 1871 advocated the undertaking of ‘all those demolitions that will enhance the grandeur [imponenza]’ of the major monuments of Rome, with the aim of creating the ‘most scenic vantage points free from clutter or inconvenience [senza ingombro e senza disagio].[40] Under these conditions, the Flavian fountain could no longer compete with its erstwhile sibling, although it would take sixty years, and the force of Mussolini’s urban ‘sventramenti’ (disembowelings) to finally bring the axe down.[41]

The vestiges of ancient Rome, carefully selected and manicured, played an important role in Mussolini’s creation of a monumental city-centre worthy of grand, Fascist spectacles.[42] While planners had long recognized the need for an artery linking Piazza Venezia with the southern part of the city, the issue for Mussolini was less one of circulation than of symbolism. One should be able to stand at the Piazza Venezia, seat of the new government, and see the Colosseum, emblem of Rome’s glorious past. Like his Risorgimento predecessors, he believed that ‘the millennial monuments of our history must loom gigantic in their necessary solitude’.[43] Never mind the fact that the Velian hill, three churches and 5,500 units of housing stood in the way. All were demolished during the 1932 creation of the ‘via dell’Impero’ (now the via dei Fori Imperiali), a showcase of the Fascist appropriation of the past.[44] The mostly buried ancient imperial fora that flanked the route of the new boulevard were excavated, and the road lined with bronze statues of the emperors associated with the fora, along with maps chronicling the expansion of the Roman Empire in antiquity and in the Fascist era.

But Mussolini wasn’t finished yet. His new parade route was not to be limited to the via dell’lmpero, but would continue to the south, past the Colosseum, through the ‘Flavian piazza’ and the Arch of Constantine and down the via S. Gregorio to the Circus Maximus. The via S. Gregorio was thus widened, repaved, spruced up with Fascist dedications and rechristened the ‘via dei Trionfi’, to underscore the topographical and ideological parallels between this route and that of the ancient Roman triumphal procession. Most importantly, the Stele of Axum, Mussolini’s trophy from his newly conquered Ethiopian empire, was installed in 1936 at the new terminus by the Circus. …

The Meta Sudans and the colossal statue base were doubly doomed. Not only were they not very attractive, but they stood directly in the path of the central passageway of Constantine’s Arch, thus preventing parades from marching straight through. A photograph of a ceremony held just after the inauguration of the via dei Trionfi reveals all too plainly the awkwardness and asymmetries that ensued (Figure 2.6), and which prompted the Governatore of Rome, Francesco Boncompagni Ludovisi, to declare the ruins ‘a most serious embarrassment’. This skewed topographical relationship had been acceptable under Constantine, when the triumphal route had turned left just beyond the Arch and continued up the via Sacra through the Forum Romanum to the Capitoline temple. Much of this very route had been self-consciously retraced as recently as 1536, when Charles V made his triumphal entrance into Rome. But the Fascist parade route ignored the via Sacra, continuing instead up the full length of the Colosseum piazza, and only turning left once it reached the via dell’lmpero.

To make the piazza serve the function of ceremonial thoroughfare, the Meta Sudans, as well as the statue base, had to go. Both were razed in 1936, the year of the dedication of the Stele of Axum. On Mussolini’s orders, however, the memory of the decrepit structures was not to be entirely erased. The archaeologist A. M. Colini was given two years to investigate thoroughly the remains of the ancient fountain, and his findings were published along with two careful reconstruction drawings by the Fascist architect Italo Gismondi (Figure 2.7).[45] Moreover, like the police chalking around a fallen body, the contours of the monuments’ vanished forms were outlined in a lighter coloured stone on the surface of the newly repaved piazza …

41. A. Cederna, Mussolini Urbanista: lo sventramento di Roma negli anni del consenso, Rome: Laterza, 1980; D. Manacorda and R. Tamassia, Il Piccone del Regime, Rome: Armando Curcio, 1985.
45. A. M. Colini, ‘Meta Sudans’, Rendiconti della Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia 13, 1937,15-39.

It is interesting to learn that the base of the Colossus survived this late.

It is also interesting to realise that the Colosseum actually stood in a hollow in the hill, until Mussolini cut through the Velian hill to make the Via del Foro Imperiali, and that ancient parades turned left at the Meta Sudans and advanced into the forum.  The Via del Foro Imperiali distorts the whole shape of the ancient landscape, splendid as it is.

The function of the Meta Sudans is vividly described by Marlowe, and is well worth repeating here.

Independent of its historical referents, the fountain would surely have been a welcome gift in this bustling piazza. Due to a number of natural and unnatural phenomena occurring over the subsequent centuries (including Mussolini’s removal in toto of the Velian hill), the Colosseum valley is much more open and spacious today than it was in antiquity.

In the Flavians’ day, even without the Neronian structures, the constricted space within the valley’s steep walls must have felt oppressively crowded, particularly when thousands of agitated spectators were thronging towards, or bursting out of, the amphitheatre’s west entrance, or lining the streets to watch triumphal parades pass by along the via Saera.

It also must have been stiflingly hot for much of the year. The Meta Sudans seems to have been purpose-built not only to provide fresh, abundant drinking water from the spigots around its base, but also to cool the surrounding air. Its ingenious (though imperfectly understood) design somehow managed to raise water all the way up an inner pipeway in the cone, from which it burst forth out of a spherical finial and then flowed down the sides to collect in a basin below. The fountain’s great height would have widened the range of its cooling mists.

The sensual pleasures afforded by the Meta Sudans would have included the aural and the visual, as well as the tactile. While nothing survives of the fountain’s marble cladding, the depictions of the monument on coins minted by the Emperor Titus clearly show niches around its base (Figure 2.3), which presumably contained statuary. In fact, in the sixteenth century, Pirro Ligorio reports having witnessed the carting off to a private warehouse of the ‘marine monsters, heads of ferocious animals and images of nymphs’ from the area around the fountain.[19] These fragments may have been the inspiration for the Triton in the niche in Du Perac’s elegant reconstruction of 1575 (Figure 2.4)[20] Overall, the fountain must have been a most attractive landmark in the new Flavian piazza, and it is not surprising that many of the numismatic commemorations of the amphitheatre proudly display the Meta Sudans alongside it as an integral component of the Flavian building programme in the valley.

20. E. Du Perac. I Vestigi dell’antichita di Roma Raccolti et Ritrattl in Perspettiva con ogni Diligentia, Rome: Apresso Lorenzo della Vaschena, 1575.

A sestertius of Titus (80-81) showing the Meta Sudans

A sestertius of Titus (80-81) showing the Meta Sudans

Curiously, there is a postscript to the story.  It seems that some Romans would like to rebuild the Meta Sudans, or something like it on the site.  The project is primarily a political one, unfortunately, designed to rally the left under the guise of attacking Mussolini.  Since Mussolini is remembered fondly by a considerable section of Romans, it seems unlikely to proceed.  But it would be nice to see it rise again, especially if done in a historically accurate manner.

There are some nice photos in the Marlowe article, unfortunately too poor to reproduce in the copy I have.  One shows the Fascists parading past the half-removed Meta Sudans.  Another the Colosseum from the air, showing the site of the base of the Colossus.  It would be nice to have better images of both.  But anyone who has searched for images knows what a hit-and-miss business it is!

The Marlowe article is very valuable, because it gives us such a clear picture of the technical value of the Meta Sudans in its original setting, and so much detail on why it was removed.  I wonder if Colini’s article is online?

UPDATE: I find that a Google Books Preview of Aristotle Kallis, The Third Rome, 1922-43: The Making of the Fascist Capital, 2014, is online here.

  1. [1] E. Marlowe, “‘The Mutability of All Things’: The Rise, Fall and Rise of the Meta Sudans Fountain in Rome”, in D. Arnold and A. Ballantyne, Architecture as Experience: Radical Change in Spatial Practice, Routledge, 2004, p.. Online at here.  The whole volume is at Google Books here in a rather odd preview format.
  2. [2] Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae. Via the splendid University of Heidelberg copy

Mussolini and the Meta Sudans

It’s been a little while since I posted a picture of the Meta Sudans.  This was the conical fountain at the end of the Appian Way, just outside the Colosseum.

At Wikimedia Commons today I found an old photograph, from the Bundesarchiv Bild library (no 102-12292) of Mussolini, from a podium outside the Colosseum.  The Meta Sudans stands nearby, soon to be demolished at his orders.  Here is the picture on Wikimedia Commons, which has a date of September 1931:

1931: Mussolini (left on the podium) addresses the fascist youth movement outside the Colosseum and the Meta Sudans.

Mussolini (left on the podium) addresses Fascist supporters outside the Colosseum and the Meta Sudans.

But here is what seems to be the same picture at the Bundesarchiv site (complete with annoying and pointless “watermark”), with the date April 1926.  This states, contra to Wikimedia, that it was taken after Mussolini returned from Tripoli, and says nothing about “youth” at all.

I do wish that I could find a source that explained why Mussolini had the ancient fountain demolished.  For a movement that drew inspiration from Ancient Rome, doing so was a curious thing.  Probably some Italian source will hold the answer, but these are not nearly visible enough online.

Here’s another photograph of the Meta Sudans, this time by Richard Brenan, Dungarvan, Waterford on a holiday in Italy c.1910.  A copy is present on the Waterford County Museum site, although with a watermark.  (I must say that the greed of repositories for fees, when they are paid to make material available by the public, is rather shameful).

Meta Sudans ca. 1900.  Waterford co.

Meta Sudans ca. 1900. Waterford County Museum, EB246.

This one I got from Twitter.

 There are also some images available on coins, which are interesting.  Here is a sestertius of Titus, showing the Meta Sudans to the left of the Colosseum:

A sestertius of Titus (80-81) showing the Meta Sudans

A sestertius of Titus (80-81) showing the Meta Sudans

The same coin is depicted here:

Meta Sudans on a sestertius of Titus

Meta Sudans on a sestertius of Titus

There is also a medallion of Gordian III, ca. 240, via here, which depicts the Meta Sudans in antiquity:

Meta Sudans - medallion of Gordian

Meta Sudans – medallion of Gordian

And a photo of the item itself via here.

Medallion of Gordian III, ca. 240, depicting the Colosseum and Meta Sudans

Medallion of Gordian III, ca. 240, depicting the Colosseum and Meta Sudans

And a too-dark photograph of the medallion from the British Museum website (and kudos to them for putting it online):

Medallion of Gordian III, ca. 240, depicting Meta Sudans and Colosseum

Medallion of Gordian III, ca. 240, depicting Meta Sudans and Colosseum

The sestertius of Titus is common, and copies can be had on the market easily enough.  This means that we have some good photos, made freely accessible online.  On the other hand the medallion of Gordian is rare.  This means that our only access is rather rubbish.  Museums that hold copies don’t make good quality photos available.  One has to ask: isn’t this the reverse of what should happen?  If public owned museums hold things, they should be more accessible, not less?

Now something else.  Here is an excerpt of the Bufalini map of Rome (1551) indicating the position of the Meta Sudans:


Let’s now have some more old photographs.

Here’s another old photograph of the Meta Sudans, from the other side, with the Palatine in the background and the Arch of Constantine to the left:


Here’s another one, this time around 1922, from here:

Meta Sudans and Arch of Constantine, around 1922

Meta Sudans and Arch of Constantine, around 1922

The next one, from here (which also has a bunch of other photos of the Meta Sudans), is looking towards the arch of Titus, and taken around 1880:

Meta Sudans, ca. 1880

Meta Sudans, ca. 1880

And another from the same site:

Meta Sudans

Meta Sudans

And a third one, also from the same site.  Note how the Meta Sudans lines up with the road to the forum?

Postcard of the Meta Sudans

Postcard of the Meta Sudans

Let’s end with a 16th century drawing by Du Perac, showing much the same view looking towards the forum.

Meta Sudans.  Du Perac (16th c.)

Meta Sudans. Du Perac (16th c.)

It is remarkable that the monument looks basically the same as it does in the 19th century pictures.  Du Perac has depicted it as taller and thinner than it was – it can hardly have got fatter since his time! – but it looks as if it was no taller in his day.  The main damage to it, no doubt, occurred in the Dark Ages.

I do wonder if a complete set of documents exists in Italian archives somewhere.  Is it conceivable that the demolition was not documented?  Not really.

More archaeology on our own PCs

In my post Archaeology on my own PC, I discussed what I did with some files from the early 90s, that I found archived on my PC, and how I got them into a modern file format.

Some of the files were in .drw format.  These were produced by a long-vanished DOS-based drawing package, Lotus Freelance Graphics.  I read online here that Lotus SmartSuite 9.8.2 Millennium – itself long vanished – should be able to open them, and save the results to PowerPoint.  Copies of SmartSuite are available on eBay, so I ordered one, and it arrived yesterday.

I popped the CD into my PC, and ran the installer.  I marked every part of it, other than Lotus Freelance Graphics, as “do not install”.  Freelance installed fine on Windows 7 (64-bit), and started fine.

I then tried to open some .drw files, and found that it would not play.  But the same site advised me:

I can open a DRW file and store it in another format (like PowerPoint 97 or one of the many alternatives). …

I installed Freelance only from SmartSuite 9.8 on a Window 7 PC, no problem. Open the DRW file in a blank page, use ‘save as’ to convert.

And that’s the trick.

You will probably wish to avoid this by setting a user preference: File | User Setup | Freelance Properties | Skip the startup dialogs and bring up a blank page with no look.

Note also that the “blank page” will be in landscape, whereas you probably want portrait (since that was the Freelance for DOS default).  This is File | Page Setup | Portrait.  I have yet to discover how to change this by default; or how to fiddle with the page size either.

Once you have a blank page open in Freelance, then when you do File | Open you get a long list of file types.  There are two .drw imports – use the Freelance one at the bottom!  Here using keyboard shortcuts will speed things up quite a bit – e.g. Tab, Down arrow, End, Up arrow, to choose files!

It is very clunky doing the imports, I must say.  Also I get a warning:

Lotus Freelance Graphics - import warning for Freelance for DOS files

Lotus Freelance Graphics – import warning for Freelance for DOS files

“Freelance Graphics cannot duplicate the colors that were used when this file was saved….” Which is impenetrable.  And … “the device that the file was saved for”?

But then, in the days of DOS, when printer drivers were the responsibility of the application, not the operating system, you got extreme coupling like this.  What device is involved I don’t know, of course.  Probably some long forgotten screen or printer.

Anyway if you OK that, you get your diagram imported.  Mine all seem to be black and white, but I hazily remember that this was the case back then.  It was a marvel, in 1988, to be able to draw at all on a PC!

So … this strategy does work.  For most of the files, anyway.

A few simply were blank.  This may be fixable, tho.  In one case, it was blank if I imported into a landscape page, but when I saved it anyway to PPT, a load of text was scrunched up at the top of the page.  So I tried again, imported it to a portrait page, and it worked fine.

One problem that I encountered was where bitmap files had been imported.  Even when these were in the same directory, Freelance refused to find them.  I’m unclear how to fix this.

I wouldn’t try to do new work with Lotus Freelance Graphics, tho.  After a while, “f32main.exe” started to crash when I saved as .ppt.  Why this happened I don’t know, but no doubt has something to do with being a very old piece of software.  We can do rescue stuff only.

About to reboot.  Hope that fixes it!

UPDATE: It didn’t.  But I found that if I saved a few files as .jpg instead, then turned back to .ppt, it worked.  Weird.

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 13 (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?