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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.

A modern myth: that a soap factory was found at Pompeii, complete with scented bars!

This evening I came across an assertion that a soap factory was found among the ruins of Pompeii.  Naturally interested, I did a google search and came across endless assertions of this kind.  Some of them asserted that the find came complete with bars of soap; some sites, indeed, felt able to state that the bars of soap were scented.   But no proper references were forthcoming, which naturally made me suspicious.  A very few sites had some (undocumented) statements that this was wrong, referring to the “so-called soap factory”, “so named in the 18th century”, and that the “soap turned out to be fullers earth”, but again there was no reference.

There seems to be almost nothing online about Pompeii!  I don’t mean popularisations, novels, tourist visits, etc.  These, indeed, are endless.  But nothing scholarly; nothing reliable.  Not, at least, that a simple search pursued with some industry would reveal.

In the end I was lucky, and found a book in snippet view that had done some research.  It turned out to be none other than Partington’s A history of Greek fire (1960)!  Which was the source for my last two posts on soap, no less!

Here’s an extract from p.308 (overparagraphed by me):

 J. Sheridan Muspratt [167] said: “In the excavations at Pompeii a complete soap-boiling establishment was discovered, containing soap still perfect. . . . The Editor was greatly interested inspecting the factory.”

The pieces of supposed soap are in the Museo Nazionale in Naples. [168] A specimen of it was examined by de Luca,[169] who reported that it blackened when heated on platinum foil, and when it was warmed with dilute hydrochloric acid “a fatty substance of the consistency of butter was set free.”

K. B. Hofmann,[170] whilst saying that he did not question the result found by de Luca with his specimen, examined another specimen of reputed soap from Pompeii. It was insoluble in ether, alcohol and petroleum ether, had only a small part soluble in water, and effervesced with dilute hydrochloric acid, which dissolved only a small part. The residue was found by qualitative analysis to consist mainly of fuller’s earth of medium quality and it dispersed in water like this:

‘Die in der Fullonica gefundene, von mir geprüfte Masse ist also nichts als Walkerde. Was de Luca analysiert hat, weiss ich nicht—jedenfalls auch keine Seife; denn er gibt an, der unlösliche Antheil seien “thon- und kalkartige Stoffe” gewesen.’

Further, said Hofmann, soap was never found among toilet articles in Pompeii, and modern soap does not redden the hair. There was more interest taken in appearance than cleanliness; Tacitus says the Germans were dirty (sordidus) and, says Hofmann: “Wir haben uns also unsere Vorvater zwar ungewaschen, aber mit pomadierten Kopfen zu denken (We have, therefore, to think of our forefathers as unwashed but with pomaded heads),” A satisfactory history of soap has still to be written.

167.  Chemistry applied to Arts and Manufactures, Glasgow, n.d. (1857-60), Division vi, 868
168.  Feldhaus, Die Technik der Vorzeit, 1914, 1289.
169.  Rendiconti dell’Accademia delle Scienze Fisiche e Mathematiche, Naples, 1877, xvi, 74: Sopra una materia grassa, ricavata da talune terre rinvenute a Pompeji.
170.  “Ueber vermeindiche antike Seife,” in Wiener Studien. Z. f. classische Philologie, Vienna, 1882, iv, 263-70; [quote actually on p.269] Günther, in Iwan Müller, Handbuch der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, V, i, 63, gives this title as “Graz, 1885,” which may be another publication by Hofmann.

This is rather thorough, and I suspect we may take this at face value.

" Amy McCabe (Indiana University) investigates one of the tanks at the back of the so-called soap factory. The function of this industrial space in its final phase remains unclear." Via Interactive Archaeology

” Amy McCabe (Indiana University) investigates one of the tanks at the back of the so-called soap factory. The function of this industrial space in its final phase remains unclear.” Via Interactive Archaeology

An early instance of the story appears in Murray’s Handbook for travellers in Southern Italy, 1853, p.334:

Soap Factory (1786). – A small shop, which contained heaps of lime of excellent quality and other materials for soap-boiling, the vats, evaporating pans, and the moulds.

I wonder what the origin of the story is?  It is certainly wide-spread, and still enjoys currency today.

Zosimos of Panopolis on soap and soap-making

Previously we looked at the claim that Galen knows of soap.  In the same article we find the claim:

Zosimos the alchemist [148] (c. A.D. 250) mentions both soap (σαπώνιον) and soap-making (σαπωναρικὲ τέκνη).

148.  Berthelot, Collection des anciens Alchemistes Grecs, 1888, vol. ii, 142.3, 143.7.  (This contains Zosimos; French translation here).

It is always good practice to check these claims.  Fortunately we can.  And if we look at the online copy of the Greek, we will see both these phrases for soap (sapo) where they are supposed to be.  But what is the context?

As might be supposed, this is an alchemical recipe, in a book full of these.  On p.143 of the French translation we find the text:

III. 8. On the same divine water

1.  Taking some eggs, whatever quantity you like, boil them, and after breaking them, remove all the white, but don’t use the shell.  Taking a male-and-female glass, which is called an alembic, put into it the yellows of the eggs, using the following amounts: 1 ounce of yellow, calcined egg-shell, two carats, neither more nor less, but exactly as written.  Then stir; then, taking some more eggs, break them and throw them into the alembic with the stirred yellows, so that the whole eggs are covered by the yellow.

A process of distillation then follows, and the “water” is what comes out of this.

So what of our soap-making?  A little further on it says:

2. … Then mix with the ashes other egg-yellows, as in the art of soap-making; stir together the wet and dry materials, and put them all into an alembic.  Do the same operation as before, but changing the recipient of the water, that is the rogion.

The notes make plain that in this case “the ashes” is a sulphur residue; but the point is that Zosimos knows that soap is made by mixing ashes – from wood, in the case of soap-making – with a fatty substance.

(At this point I must confess that I knew little about how soap is made, but a google search tells me that wood ash, or “potash”, contains Potassium Hydroxide (KOH), which is the alkali in soft soaps, which combines with the fat – usually oil – to make soap.  Hard soaps, in bar form, require Sodium Hydroxide.)

But there are two references to sapo in this text.  The other is close to the end:

Now after 41 days, remove the alembic from the hot place and let it cool completely for 5 days.  Once the 5 days have elapsed, place the alembic on the sawdust ashes and extract the divine water from it; not into your hand, but into a glass vessel.  Then, taking this water, put it into an alembic, as before, and heat it for 2-3 days.  After removing it, stir and expose to the sun on a shell.  When the product becomes as compact as soap, warm an ounce of silver and cover it with this solidified  water, i.e. 2 carats of dry powder, and you will have some for.

The total number of days of the operation is 110 days, according to what Zosimos the Christian and Stephanus say.  As for me, having foraged from everywhere like a bee and plaited a crown with many flowers, I do homage to you, my master.  Next I will explain what are the devices.  Take care in Jesus Christ, our God, now and forever and in all the ages of ages.  Amen.

The compact soap, from which moisture has evapourated, is all very well.  But the last paragraph betrays that we are not dealing with a text written directly by Zosimos, whatever his date; but with a compilation of fragments, assembled from Zosimos, and from Stephanus – perhaps a commentator – in a form that looks suspiciously like a pupil’s notes.

In the circumstances, can we be sure that these references to soap making are original to Zosimos?  Rather than a later addition?

It is slightly depressing to find the evidence for the early use of soap so fragile.  The author of these statements did indeed know how to make soap, that much is clear.  But was he Zosimos, or some much later writer?  Without knowing more about the transmission of these works – and technical works, by their very nature, tend to be revised, amended, “corrected”, and so on, when copied – it might be rash to be certain.

All the same, I suspect that it is simpler and involves fewer hypotheses if we assume that the statements are indeed original, than to posit an interpolator; in which case, we may reasonably assume that Galen, in the late 2nd century, is probably using the word “sapo” in the same way as Zosimos, and therefore the use of soap does indeed start to appear in the times of Marcus Aurelius or thereabouts.

The Bufalini map of Rome (1551)

Old maps of Rome can contain very useful information.  At this site is the 1748 reproduction of the 1551 Bufalini map of Rome.  The original is here, but for some strange reason is upside down and nearly unreadable.  (Both sites have annoyingly provided us with a “viewer” rather than a download of the whole map).

Let’s look at one or two locations.  The first is to look at St Peter’s:

Buffalini (1551) - Plan of Old St Peter's

Buffalini (1551) – Plan of Old St Peter’s

The “Templum S. Petri” has the modern plan at the western end, but the Old Constantinian basilica at the East, leading into the atrium, then down some steps and into the “Forum S. Petri”.  The Palace of the Pontiff faces into that piazza, which can be entered from the north through the wall that runs east to Castell S. Angelo.  The same entrance in the wall into St. Peter’s square is used by modern visitors, coming from the metro station.

A circle at the bottom of the “new” portion indicates the location of the Vatican rotunda, a 3rd century tomb converted into a chapel and only demolished a couple of centuries later.  To the right of it is a speck, which is the Vatican obelisk that now stands in St Peter’s square but then stood where it had stood for centuries, on the spina of the vanished Circus of Gaius and Nero.

There are various renaissance depictions of all these monuments online, and elsewhere on this site – click on the link for “Old St Peters” at the end of the post – but a map is invaluable.

Next let’s look at the area to the south of the Colosseum:

Bufalini (1551) - Location of Septizonium and Meta Sudans

Bufalini (1551) – Location of Septizonium and Meta Sudans

The Colosseum is next to the Palatine hill; but note the little shaded rectangle to the left of “Septizonium Severi” at lower centre.  That is the location of the remains of the Septizonium, the monumental arcade-entrance to the Palatine, built as a facade by Septimus Severus and demolished only a few years later than the map.  And to the left of the Colosseum is the dot marking the fountain, the Meta Sudans, which survived until Mussolini demolished it in the 1930’s.

Off to the right of the Colosseum, and beyond the church of S. Clemente, are the immense ruins of the Baths of Titus (Thermae Titi):

Bufalini (1551) - Baths of Titus

Bufalini (1551) – Baths of Titus

Let’s now wander off to the Quirinal Hill, up and left.

Bufalini (1551) - Temple of the Sun

Bufalini (1551) – Temple of the Sun

Somewhere in those streets is the modern Trevi Fountain.  But in the centre is the now vanished remains of the Templum Solis Aureliani – Aurelian’s Temple of the Sun.  Below it and to the right are the Baths of Constantine, the last major bath complex of imperial Rome.

I hope you have enjoyed your ramble around a vanished Rome.

(H/T Anna Blennow)

Galen on the origins of soap

I stumbled across an interesting claim this afternoon, in the Wikipedia article on soap, which I traced to a 1960 textbook on the history of Greek fire (!) by a certain J.R. Partington.[1]

The origin of the name sapo has been much discussed. Some think it is from the German saipjo, others from the English sepe (still used in Scotland), passing by way of Batavia to Gaul. Blumner says true soap was unknown to the ancients, Pliny’s sapo being a pomade made from unsaponified fat and alkali. When true soap was first made by boiling fats or oils with causticised lye seems to be unknown, but the use of causticised lye in making soap (σάπων) is mentioned by Galen,[145] perhaps from Asklepiades junior (c. A.D. 100), who says it is made from the fat of oxen, goats, or wethers, and causticised lye (sapo conficitur ex sevo bulbulo, vel caprino, aut vervecino, et lixivio cum calce). Galen says that the best soap was the German, since it was purest and in some ways the most fatty, that of the Gauls being next best, and that it acted as a medicine and removed all impurity from the body and from clothing. This is the first certain mention of the use of soap as a detergent. Galen [146] says soap is a better detergent than soda (λίτρον). If the mention of Gallic soap in Oreibasios [147] is from Rufus of Ephesus (c. A.D. 100) this would precede Galen’s in a Greek writer. Zosimos the alchemist [148] (c. A.D. 250) mentions both soap (σαπώνιον) and soap-making (σαπωναρικὲ τέκνη).

Sadly I was unable to access the page of the preview with the footnotes (p.333), so I couldn’t get Partington’s references.  I do not know where we might find the statements by Zosimos, therefore.

But a search on the Latin text of Galen, or rather “Asclepiades Junior” – why Latin? – produced some interesting results.  A volume from 1817 quoted that text exactly, and rather more of it:[2]

Sapo conficitur ex sevo bubulo vel caprino, aut vervecino, et lixivio cum calce; quod optimum judicamus Germanicum; est enim mundissimum et veluti pinguissimum, deinde Gallicum. Verum omnis sapo acriter ralaxare potest, et omnem sordem de corpore abstergere, vel de pannis, et exsiccare similiter ut nitrum vel aphronitrum, mittitur et in caustica. (Soap is made from ox, goat or sheep’s tallow, and lye with lime; the best we think is the German [soap]; for it is the purest and almost the fattest, then the Gallic [soap].  Indeed soap can quickly loosen everything, and wipe away all muck from the body, or from clothes, and likewise dry up like nitre/soda or African nitre/sodium carbonate, and is also used as a caustic.) De simplicibus medicaminibus, p. 90. G.

In another book, ascribed to Galen, the greater part of which is taken from Aetius, and of which a Latin translation only remains, De dynamidiis, p. 28. G, according to Gesner’s edition stands: Recipe saponem spatarenticum, and p. 31. C, emplastrum de sapone spathulgno. These epithets, in my opinion, signified soap which was so soft that it could be spread.

But what is Galen’s De simplicibus medicaminibus?  It is unknown to the standard 20-volume edition of Galen’s works by Kuhn.[3]  Fortunately the answer is not far to seek – it is the title of an early printed edition of a pseudo-Galenic work, the Alphabet of Galen, recently edited and translated by Nicholas Everett.[4]  The editio princeps of this text was printed by Diomedes Bonardus under the title Liber Galieni de simplicibus medicinis ad Paternianum, and in the 16th century in the Opera Omnia of Galen[5] as Liber Galieni de simplicibus medicaminibus ad Paternianum.  Likewise I learn that De dynamidiis is also ps.Galenic, and also addressed to the same Paternianus, Paterninus or Paternus – Everett’s introduction is excellent on all these.

De simplicibus medicinis is listed in Fichtner’s modern Galen bibliography as #139: “Ad Paternum = De simplicibus medicinis ad Paternianum = Liber pigmentorum = De simplicibus medicaminibus ad Paternianum = Alfabetum Galieni” and “Nicht bei Kühn; Pseudo-Galen”.  Likewise De dynamidiis appears as #219, also spurious.[6]

But what of this editor “Gesner”?  He turns out to be the 16th century editor Conrad Gessner.  Curiously his edition includes a page listing Galenic spuria, and among them, De simplicibus medicinis![7]  His edition of the work is here, and we quickly see that the book is a list of simple things like aloe, etc.  Unsurprisingly we find a section De sapone here, and the entire entry is as above.

So this is indeed the source of the material given by Partington.  It is not by Galen, nor can he have used it.  It’s from a medieval handbook, at least in its current form, and attributed to Galen in general handbooks which are repeated uncritically throughout the 19th century.

Everett considers that the text incorporates a great deal of ancient medical knowledge.  No doubt it does, like many a medieval text;  but its value as evidence for the use of soap in Galen’s time, or indeed that of Asclepiades Junior, must be negligible.

The main mystery remaining is why Partington attributes the material to Asclepiades Pharmacion, known as Asclepiades Junior (ca. 100 AD).  This attribution is our only other possible reason to consider this material ancient.

It would be good to check the other references in Partington.

Update: A kind correspondent has now sent me the page of references, and I have decided that Partington is not quite as culpable as I first thought!  I have revised the post accordingly.

Now Partington does indeed give extra references, which are as follows:

145.  De compos. med. sec. loc., ii; Kuhn, xii, 586. (i.e. this is Galen)
146.  Method. medend., vii; Kuhn, x, 569. (and this)
147.  Synopseos, iii; in Stephanus, Medicae artis principes, 1567, 53.  (This is Oreibasios)
148.  Berthelot, Collection des anciens Alchemistes Grecs, 1888, vol. ii, 142.3, 143.7.  (This is Zosimos; French translation around here).

Interestingly there is no reference for the material from ps.Galen, although we have tracked it down above.

But let’s now look at those references in Galen and see what the man himself has to say.

Galen, De compositione medicamentorum secundum locos, book 2, in Kuhn xii, p.586, mentions a pound of “sapo” (“saponis libram unam”) as an ingredient, 3 lines from the bottom.  My limited knowledge of Latin words for lye does not allow me to find the reference to it in here, however.  Is there one?

Galen, De Methodo Medendi, book 8 (at least in my copy of Kuhn) of 14, p.569, does indeed contain a reference to “sapo”: “But it is also called soap [sapo/sapon] by those who want to clean most effectively.”  The discussion is about various types of “material for cleansing” the body before bathing, and references caustics like nitre and aphronitre.  The idea of soap is certainly here, if not the specifics, and it is contrasted with nitre / soda.

But is this evidence for soap in Galen’s time?

  1. [1] J.R. Partington, A history of Greek fire and gunpowder, JHU Press, 1960, p.307.
  2. [2] Johann Beckmann, A history of inventions and discoveries, tr. by W. Johnston. Vol. 1-3; 4, 2nd ed, vol. 3, London: Longman &c, 1817, p.225.
  3. [3] Everett, p.11.
  4. [4] Nicholas Everett, The Alphabet of Galen: Pharmacy from Antiquity to the Middle Ages : a Critical Edition of the Latin Text with English Translation and Commentary, University of Toronto, 2012. See p.13-14.
  5. [5] Published in Latin by Junta in 1522, 1528, 1565 and 1586; also in Charterius in 1679 – see Everett p.11.
  6. [6] Online here.
  7. [7] Galeno Ascripti Libri, in Omnia Quae Extant, Froben, 1562. Online at Google books here.

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

Let’s continue with chapter 9 of this Arabic Christian work:

5. As for those who wonder why the patriarch of Alexandria is called “Bābā”, we answer: “Bābā” means “grandfather”.  But from the time when Ananias was made patriarch of Alexandria by the Evangelist Mark to the time of Demetrius, patriarch of Alexandria, who was the eleventh patriarch [of that place], there was never, in the province of Egypt, a bishop and the patriarchs who preceded him had never consecrated bishops.  But when he became patriarch, Demetrius consecrated three bishops and it was he, in truth, who was the first patriarch of Alexandria to consecrate bishops.  At his death there was made patriarch of Alexandria Heraclas, who consecrated twenty bishops.  One of these bishops, named Eumenius, transgressed the law, and the news came to the patriarch Heraclas who immediately convened a group of bishops, went to the city [where was] Eumenius, and made some inquiries about him; and he pondered the case thoroughly and worked out the truth.  It was then that, hearing the people call the bishops “Ab” [or “father”], the patriarch thought: “If we call the bishop “Ab” and the bishops themselves call the patriarch “Ab”, then we call the patriarch “Bābā”, or “grandfather”, for he is the father of fathers.”  The Patriarch of Alexandria was so called, from the time of Heraclas, “Bābā”, or “grandfather”.  Ananias, patriarch of Alexandria, whom the evangelist Mark had made the patriarch of that time,  remained in office for twenty-two years and died.  The evangelist Mark went to Barqah (8), exhorting the people to embrace the faith in Christ, Son of God.

6. Claudius Caesar died, and there reigned after him, in Rome, his son Nero Caesar for thirteen years. He was the first to procure serious evils and misfortunes for the Christians.  He was an extremely bad man and of wicked habits.  At the time of Nero Caesar, Peter, chief of the Apostles, wrote in the city of Rome the Gospel of Mark, at the hands of the latter, in Latin, and attributed it to Mark.

It was also at the time of this king that Luke wrote his gospel in Greek for a Roman nobleman named Theophilus and it was also he who wrote the “Praxis”, i.e. “The Acts of the Apostles” (9).  The evangelist Luke was the companion of the Apostle Paul, and remained with him for a long time. We know this because the apostle Paul says in his letter: “The doctor Luke greets you” (10).  Nero Caesar took Peter, crucified him with his head down, and had him put to death, because Peter had asked him: “If you want to crucify me, crucify me with my head down, because my death is not the same as that of Christ, my Lord, who was crucified in the upright position” (11).  Then [Nero] beheaded Paul.  Peter was put to deathtwenty-two years after Christ, our Lord, was put to death.  After Peter, Linus was made patriarch of Rome(12).  He held the office for twelve years and died. He was the first to be made patriarch of Rome.  The evangelist Mark preached to the people the faith in Christ, Son of God, in Alexandria and Barqah for seven years.  In the first year of the reign of the aforementioned Nero Caesar, Mark was put to death in Alexandria, and his body was set on fire (13).  In the twelfth year of the reign of Nero Caesar Ignatius was made Patriarch of Antioch.  He held the seat for thirty-two and was put to death.

7. Qistus, governor of Jerusalem, died and the city was without any authority or sovereign to govern it.  The Jews then arose and rioted and killed James, son of Joseph, known as the “brother of the Lord”, stoning him to death (14).  Then they harassed a group of disciples and expelled them from the city.  The Christians abandoned Jerusalem, crossed the Jordan and settled in those places (15).  Informed of this fact, Nero Caesar sent word to the commander stationed in the East, named Vespasian, to rally his troops and go to Judea with orders to kill all the inhabitants, sparing none, and to destroy the houses.  Having heard these things, the Jews gathered together and those who among them were wealthy offered their goods to build three citadels around the city.  They equipped them with towers, fortified them, and castellated them. Vespasian arrived in Judea after spreading destruction in every town of Galilee and burning it.  But against Jerusalem he could not do anything, because it was well fortified and strengthened.  He spent a year besieging it.  The Jews made nocturnal sorties, in secret, and spread death among the Roman soldiers.



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