Archive Page 2
February 17th, 2015 by Roger Pearse
The next chunk of the 10th century Arabic Christian Annals of Sa`id ibn Bitriq / Eutychius begins with words that indicate that the text as we have it has been re-edited at a later time. We’re still wading through dull twaddle about the Council of Nicaea.
12. Sa`id Ibn Batriq, the doctor, said: “I wanted to know on what day of the week Our Lord Jesus Christ was born, on what day was crucified, and in which months of the year these days took place (35). After careful research and having compared the years, I discovered that he was born on the twelfth of the solar cycle, in  of the number of the lunar cycle. The epact of the sun was one, and that of the moon . Now December 1 was a Saturday, and the first of Kīhak was a Tuesday. Thus our Lord Jesus Christ was born on December twenty-fifth, that is the twenty-ninth of Kīhak and the day of the glorious birth of Christ our Lord was a Tuesday. The day he was baptized is then found in fourteen of the number of the cycle of the sun and in nineteen of the number of the cycle of the moon. And the epact of the sun was three and a half and a quarter, while that of the moon was . The first of January was then a Thursday, and the first of the month of Tūbah was a Saturday. His glorious baptism took place on Tuesday, January 6th, therefore, i.e. on the eleventh of Tūbah. The day of his saving crucifixion fell on nineteen of the number of the cycle of the sun and in fourteen of the number of the cycle of the moon. The epact of the sun was seven and a half, as the moon was . The first of March was then a Thursday and the first of the month of Baramhāt a Sunday. The Passover of the Jews then happened on Thursday March 22nd, i.e. twenty-sixth of Baramhāt. This means that our Lord Jesus Christ ate the Passover with his disciples on Thursday, was crucified on Friday March 23rd, i.e. 27 Baramhāt, and rose again on Sunday March 25, i.e. the twenty-ninth of Baramhāt (36). The Christians, however, as we have said, celebrated the feast of the Baptism, and began to fast from the end [of that feast-day] for the forty-day period after which they broke their fast, and celebrated their Passover when the Jews did, the day on which they stopped fasting. After the three hundred and eighteen Fathers forbade them to do this, and arranged that Easter for Christians should be celebrated on the Sunday following that of the Jews, thus forbidding them to celebrate it together with them or before them, and taking care to celebrate it always after the Passover of the Jews.
They forbade bishops to have a wife. This is because from the time of the apostles to the council of three hundred and eighteen of them, they had wives, and if anyone of them was made bishop and was married, the wife was left with him and was not sent away, except for the patriarchs: as, in fact, those without a wife never elected as patriarch one that was married.”
13. As for Alexander, he deprived of the patriarchal dignity Ashīllā his companion, who had been patriarch of Alexandria before him, for he welcomed Arius and contravened what his master, the martyr Peter, patriarch of Alexandria, had told him to do.
As for the three hundred and eighteen, they each returned to their homes with great honour. King Constantine issued three edicts (37): in the first he required the tearing down of idols and putting to death all those who worshiped them; in the second he provided that rhetoric was limited to children of Christians and that only they might be designated as prefects and generals, and he ordered that the third Friday in Easter and after people should refrain from work and war. King Constantine commissioned Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, to search for the site of the tomb and the Cross and to build churches there (38).
14. Helena, mother of Constantine, said: “I made a vow to go to Jerusalem, to find the holy places and rebuild them”. Constantine then gave her a lot of money and Helena, together with Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, went to Jerusalem with the intent to seek the Cross. Finding the place, Helena collected a hundred men from among the Jews who lived in Jerusalem and Galilee, and she selected ten. Of these she chose three, one of whom was called Judas. She asked them to indicate the [holy] places but they refused saying: “We do not know anything of this place.” [Helena] had them thrown in a dry water well and left them there for seven days, without food or water. The one of them who was called Judas told his companions that his father had shown him one day the places that the woman wanted to know from them, and which his father had learned from his grandfather. Then the two cried out from the well, were pulled out and told Helena that Judas had told them. Helena gave orders to whip him until he decided to confess his knowledge of the places. They went out together and he led them to the place where they found the Sepulchre and the Cranion, now reduced to a great garbage dump. Then [Judas] prayed saying: “Lord God, if this is the place where is located the Sepulchre and the ground shakes violently, and fire comes out because of this, I shall believe.” The ground shuddered, there came out a fragrant smoke and the man believed. Helena then ordered area of earth that covered it to be removed, and there came to light the Sepulchre and Cranion and three crosses were found. Helena said: “How will we know which of these three crosses was that of Christ the Lord?” There was, near there, a man suffering from a serious illness, of which he despaired that he could be healed. On him were laid the first and second crosses, but he was not cured and only when the third cross was laid on did the patient get up, completely healed (39). Helena realized then that this was the cross of Christ, our Lord, to be exposed to the veneration [of the faithful]. She enclosed it in a case of gold, and took it with her, along with everything that had been buried, and that had belonged to Christ our Lord, to bring everything to Constantine, her son. She had built the Church of the Resurrection, built Golgotha, and the church of Constantine, and leaving, ordered Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, to build other churches. This happened in the twenty-second year of the reign of Constantine. From the birth of Christ, our Lord, to the finding of the Cross had passed three hundred years.
February 16th, 2015 by Roger Pearse
In the little courtyard or “atrium”, inside the portico but outside the main doors of Old St Peter’s (and you can follow the tag below for many images of the church), stood a little fountain.
pianta di Roma di Etienne Du Perac (1577), particolare del Vaticano.
It included a colossal pine-cone of bronze, which will be familiar to many who have visited the Vatican:
The Vatican pinecone and peacocks today. Via Wikimedia Commons.
I found online at Google Books the following copy of a drawing of the fountain, itself taken from Huelsen:
Water installation with bronze pine-cone in the atrium of Old St Peter’s, Rome. Drawing by Cronaca (1457-1505). Uffizi, Florence, 1572.
The Huelsen article includes further drawings.
Andrea della Vaccaria, “Ornamenti di fabriche antichi e moderni dell’alma citta di Roma”, 1600, quarto.
Another image comes from a manuscript, Ms. Brussels 17872, fol. 56v, by Philipp de Winghe, and made around 1591-2.
Supposedly water would come out of the pinecone at various places, although how I don’t quite know. The pinecone and two of the peacocks have survived, as may be seen above.
February 16th, 2015 by Roger Pearse
When the Muslims conquered Constantinople in 1453, one of their first actions was to tear down and demolish the Church of the Holy Apostles, the church to which the mausoleum of Constantine was attached, and to build on it the mosque of Mehmet the Conquerer.
I have never seen a drawing of the church until today. But Ste Trombetti has kindly sent me a link to a digitised manuscript online, which contains an early map of the city of Constantinople!
The link is to a manuscript at the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut.29.25, Christophori Ensenii descriptio cycladum et aliarum insularum. It appears here, on p.74:
Constantinople 1420, Ensenius / Cristoforo Buondelmonti
The image is not as high resolution as one might like, but I have zoomed in and got this, with the now vanished church in the very centre of field:
The building is labelled “s[an]ctorum apostolorum” (“of the holy apostles”), with abbreviations. The Hippodrome is to the right – note the towers of fortification around it. Left of that are two columns, the right hand one labelled “hic Justinianus in equito porphyia” (“here is Justinian on a porphyry horse”). Above the Church of the Holy Apostles is another column, labelled “hic Constantinus …” with two words underneath which I cannot read, referencing Constantine, of course.
It looks as if most of the churches stand inside a walled enclosure – remember that most of the city was just fields by this date. But this may not be so, as we shall see.
The depiction of Hagia Sophia does not fill one with confidence that the pictures are very accurate, it must be said. But it is certainly better than nothing!
The image itself is not an original, but a copy of a drawing by Cristoforo Buondelmonti, an early traveller, from his Liber insularum archipelagi. Another copy of the map is at Wikimedia commons here, from a Paris ms, apparently:
This is very low resolution, but seems to give a better and more believable image.
Yet another version of the map is owned by the Metropolitan Museum in New York, from where someone has copied a bitmap to Wikimedia.
This is drawing gives us a much more likelike picture. Hagia Sophia looks more accurate. The churches no longer stand in courtyards but have high walls with domes atop them, which is probably correct.
But … this isn’t a perfect copy. Note that Justinian on his horse is now perched atop the column. It is just as well that the copy was put on Wikimedia, for the link to the Metropolitan Museum no longer works. It is infuriating that curators do this, considering that locating images is very hit and miss anyway.
Thankfully libraries are getting more sensible, and a visit to the Gallica site at the French National Library can pay dividends. Doing so reveals a volume containing Ptolemy’s Cosmographia which also contains plates by Buondelmonti, such as this one, Ms Latin 4802 (1552), on f.134r:
But this is a late copy, and various important bits have vanished. Also the walls of the churches have turned into courtyard walls – perhaps this is a feature of later copies? Here I was hoping for an early copy, but evidently this is not available yet.
A different image in many ways – and one in which the writer has just put stuff wherever he likes, seemingly, is here, a 1450 manuscript copy of the Liber insularum archipelagi sold in Chicago.
The copies of the map of Cristoforo Buondelmonti, from the Liber insularum archipelagi, vary greatly it seems. What we need, I think, is some nice, high resolution images of all the copies that we can find. The results could not fail to be interesting and informative.
UPDATE: Ste Trombetti has kindly sent me a bibliography on Ensenius/Buondelmonti. This includes T. Thomov, “New information about Cristoforo Buondelmonti’s drawings of Constantinople”, Byzantion 66 (1996) 431-453, which seems to be sadly offline but is often referenced where these maps are concerned. Also a link to another image, a copy of Buondelmonti’s “Liber insularum Archipelagi”, in MS Lat.X.123, at the Bib. Marciana:
This is clearly not an accurate copy.
I also found a bibliography on the Vatican website, giving Thomov’s article as a reference for the following Vatican manuscripts (which, presumably, must contain also copies of the Buondelmonti map): Chig.F.V.110, Ross.702, Ross.704, Urb.lat.277. Sadly none of these appear to have been digitised as yet.
Another find, an article by Michel Balard, tells us more about the map:
Buondelmonti’s positive appreciation of the Turks can be perceived not only from the text of the Liber insularum Archipelagi, but also from the illustrated maps which complete his vision of the Aegean world. The most important are those of Constantinople, which can be found in 16 manuscripts of the Liber. Ian Manners has demonstrated how at the beginning of the fifteenth century, the cartographers changed their way of constructing their work. In their bird’s eye views, they wanted to represent places and landscapes as they appeared to the travellers. For instance, when they drew the design of Pera, the Genoese colony on the north of the Golden Horn, they show the galleys waiting along the shore, the wooden piers, the walls, the churches and some specific building known by everyone at that time. The maps display the city “as known, as experienced, as remembered, as imagined by artists and cartographers”, with a growing realism and a tendency to accentuate and add particular facts of peculiar interest to themselves. In so far as the manuscripts and their drawings can be dated, the maps depict the transformation of Constantinople according to the main events of its history, and particularly according to the contrast between the last years of the Byzantine domination and the reconstruction by the Ottomans after 1453.
When he visited Constantinople in 1421-2, Buondelmonti received from Vitold of Lithuania, father-in-law of John VIII Palaiologos, a commission for a map of Constantinople, which perhaps could have been a model for the illustrations of Buondelmonti’s text on the city. The oldest maps, drawn between 1420 and 1450, depict a city quite ruined, with very few indications of monuments and places. The representation insists on the fortifications, sometimes with a single line of walls and towers, sometimes with a double line, similar to the reality. The city has a triangular shape, as is described by many chroniclers and travellers using a frequent topos and comparing the triangle-shaped city to a lateen sail. Very few monuments are drawn inside the walled city: the imperial palace of the Blachernai, two monumental colums, and some churches, but no effort has been made to emphasize or even identify the great church of Hagia Sophia. Pera, described in the text as “Januensium pulcerrima civitas”, is shown on the opposite site of the Golden Horn as a very small suburb of Constantinople. The general impression is that of an open and empty city, with a few scattered buildings. Buondelmonti with his text and drawings wants to show the miserable condition of the city and of its inhabitants, whose hostility towards the Latins is underlined by reference to the Franks put to death by the Greeks who, during the crusades, offered them bread mixed with lime (a legend related by many chroniclers since the First Crusade).
The fall of Constantinople in 1453 changed the representation of the city in the copies of the Liber insularum of the second half of the fifteenth century. Buondelmonti died probably after 1431, but those who used his text and illustrated it shared partially his representation of Constantinople. The majority, especially the authors of the copies made in Chios, give many details about the city’s system of fortification: a moat, a double line of walls studded with strong towers, a single but mighty line for Pera. And, above all, inside the urban perimeter, a great number of churches, differentiated by their shape and denomination. The more recent maps also show the Byzantine standard: a cross with the quadruple “b” of the Palaiologoi. It seems that the illustrators, longing for the city’s Christian past, wanted to enhance its Christian heritage. For them, Constantinople, which possessed so many relics and shrines, is still the New Jerusalem, a holy city with the benefit of divine favour. These copies are often linked with the writings of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, who, when he became pope, attempted to…
It is, then, clearly important to have a list of manuscripts, and to get the images from each.
The article is an interesting one, and it is a pity that it is offline. It seems to give a biography of the Florentine priest, Christopher Buondelmonti, who knew Niccolo Niccoli, based himself at Rhodes and visited Constantinople twice, in 1420 and 1421-22, while hunting for Greek manuscripts.
February 14th, 2015 by Roger Pearse
Anthony Alcock has very kindly sent me a new English translation that he has made of the Coptic Prayer of Athanasius. It’s here:
The text used is E.A. Wallis Budge Miscellaneous Texts in the Dialect of Upper Egypt (1915). However he tells us that the downloaded copy of this accessible to him was tightly bound and the ends of the lines were hidden in the spine.
This is probably a feature of all the original copies. I have myself seen a copy of this volume at Cambridge, and it was a small, very thick volume, so bound as to be nearly unusable.
Does anybody know of an electronic copy that does not suffer from this problem? It may be that somebody needs to buy a copy and disbind it, to create a decent PDF.
February 12th, 2015 by Roger Pearse
The Digital Library at the University of Heidelberg is a little difficult to use at first. But if you go to the search page and enter “romae”, you will get a list of books. If you click on one of these, such as Montjosieu’s Romae Hospes (1585), you will get the “home page” for the book, with its link for downloading PDF’s. Page down, and you will see a list of sections of the book, all clickable. Choose one – any one – and click through.
This will give you a single page: but hit the “Vorschau” link at the top, and, le voila, you will get thumbnails of all pages! This is incredibly useful, when looking for early prints. It saves the necessity to download the PDF in most cases.
In this case we find another depiction of the Vatican obelisk and the Vatican rotunda to the south side of Old St Peter’s in Rome, on folio 10, here. It doesn’t give us more than Dosio, but it does confirm it.
For me this settles it: the UB Heidelberg is now, officially, a really important site for anyone interested in ancient Rome. If you don’t take the time to familiarise yourself with it, you are certainly missing out.
February 12th, 2015 by Roger Pearse
Searching the collection at UB Heidelberg for words like “Romae”, “Romanae” produces some excellent results, if you know a few of the artists of the period. The drawings of G. A. Dosio have been referenced before on these pages! They come from his Urbis Romae Aedificiorum Illustriumquae Supersunt Reliquiae (1569), online here. The thumbnails of the pages are here.
On tafel 10 is the familiar image, at full size for once, of the ruins of Aurelian’s “temple of the sun” on the Quirinal, now thought to be a temple of Serapis.
On tafel 34 is a very familiar view of the Vatican rotunda, the 3rd century tomb converted into a chapel that stood by the side of Old St Peter’s, with the Vatican obelisk, buried in the earth but in its original position. This appears everywhere, and invariably in a defective form. It is wonderful to see it full size!
Only a couple of images there; but very nice to have. Again, thank you, UB Heidelberg!
February 12th, 2015 by Roger Pearse
Following my post yesterday, Ste Trombetti has found that the prints by Lafrerie / Lafrery are to be located in the Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae (1593). Happily this is online in high resolution, and downloadable in PDF form, at the UB in Heidelberg here (and the page shows all the pix in thumbnail too – a very well organised site).
This means that, for the first time, we can get some decent resolution images of some of the monuments. Some of these we have seen before, in squinny little images defaced with bumptious watermarks, but here we have the full size images. (Click on the pictures below to get these).
First up on tafel 116 is the Seven Churches of Rome and the Old St Peter’s (1575). This is stylised, and the surroundings of each church are incorrect; but the depiction of the basilica itself is spot-on!
Note the steps, the atrium behind it – interesting that Raphael omits the section with three arches leading into it, as being a later addition – then the nave, with the hulk of the new basilica at the far end, and on the left the Vatican rotunda, the 3rd century tomb being used as the chapel of S. Andreas. To the right of the church, as today, is the papal palace.
Also included by Lafrery is the picture of Old St. Peter’s (1581-86) by Claudio Duchetti & Ambrogio Brambilla, tafel 115:
Note the pope in the Loggia, blessing the sea of people!
Next on plate 27 is the now vanished Septizonium, drawn by C. Duchetti & A. Brambilla:
Pretty marvellous! Our thanks to the UB in Heidelberg for making all this material accessible; and in a manner which means that we can actually study it, for once!
February 12th, 2015 by Roger Pearse
I am not an academic, and I don’t even envy those who must strive to earn a living in our universities, in these days of slender pay, little tenure, and cutbacks. But I did once write an article for print publication. It was on the subject of the divisions and titles and tables of contents to be found in medieval manuscripts, addressing the question of whether these are, or are not, authorial. I concluded that the use of these is probably a 4th century phenomenon, and probably connected to the rise of the use of the codex, and that then they became authorial.
That article will never be published now. But the content might well be of use to others. I have, therefore, uploaded it to Academia.edu, and a copy is here:
This is a draft, so it contains various comments in the margin, intended for discussion. I have left these here as the majority will probably be useful to anybody interested in the subject. The plates are not those which I intended to us, but merely a collection of possibly useful material, prepared for discussion but never discussed.
So what on earth made me write this thing, given my lack of interest in formal publication? Well, the truth is that I was asked to. The story is a curious one, and a cautionary one to any non-academic interested in getting published.
In May 2013 a lecturer at York University named Mary Garrison – previously unknown to me – wrote and asked me to write a paper for book publication by Eric Kwakkel of Leiden University Press. The subject was ancient chapter headings, chapter divisions, and so on. The reason why she asked me is that I have online some rough notes on the subject. There is so little in English, that these notes have appeared in academic bibliography.
Naturally I demurred, since I am not a scholar, and I knew that I would need quite a bit of guidance. I also knew that no less an authority than Michael Reeve of Cambridge considers that such a project would require a team of scholars. But my objections were brushed aside, assistance promised, and of course I was flattered to be asked. The deadline was September 2013, and the length was 7,000 words.
I quickly found that writing an academic article is not a small task! Anyway … it took all summer, and it was hard but rewarding work. Of course I lost several months earnings, but it was worth it, if I could get an article published, or so I thought. My emails to Mary Garrison asking advice, tho, were not answered, doubtless because of the summer break.
I sent it in, on time, and received an acknowledgement. A month later, I asked if there was feedback, and she told me that she was printing it off. Then … nothing. No emails of mine were ever answered again. In Summer 2014 I thought to write to Eric Kwakkel. He had never heard of any such project, and he queried Mary Garrison. In this way I learned that she had abandoned the project, some time in 2013. I imagine that some such outcome is not too uncommon, when laymen get involved in scholarly projects which they do not own.
So there it is. I won’t do that again. I came away with a new respect for the sheer effort involved in formal publication of an article. And I hope that my efforts on the subject will spur more work on this neglected area. There is still no other useful introduction in English. Enjoy!
February 11th, 2015 by Roger Pearse
This evening I did a Google Images search for images of Old St Peter’s basilica in Rome. I’ve put some of these online before; but it’s always worth searching again, as new material appears all the time.
Note that you can click on these images to get a larger picture sometimes.
Via this site I learn of the existence of a map of Rome by Etienne du Perac (1577); curiously not from the text, but by inspecting the HTML source for the page! Here’s a detail of it, highlighting the fountain that stood in the atrium:
Pianta di Roma di Etienne Du Perac (1577), particolare del Vaticano.
The same site also has a drawing of the fountain from somewhere, made anonymously ca. 1525. One would like to know where this clearly well-informed website got its information!
La fontana di San Pietro, in un disegno
a penna di anonimo del 1525 c.ca.
The huge brass pine-cone still stands in a courtyard in the Vatican, as those who have done the tour well know. I wonder whether the item has any connection with the cult of Cybele, for a Phrygianum once stood somewhere on the hill, as the 4th century regionary catalogues indicate, and a bunch of 4th century inscriptions from it were dug up near the piazza outside new St. Peter’s.
Next let’s have a drawing of the construction of new St Peter’s. The remains of the old nave stand to the left here, for this is a shot of the hulk of the new basilica from the north side. The author is Martin van Heemskerk, in 1536.
Van Heemskerk, Construction of basilica, 1536.
Now another drawing (caution – the site plays audio at you!), this time showing the construction from the west. The pointy tower on the front of the old basilica still stands, with some of the nave behind it. But to the right is a circular building; the chapel of San Andreas, or “Vatican Rotunda”, a 3rd century tomb converted into a chapel. And is the tip of the Vatican obelisk just visible beyond it?
Now here’s another overview shot. This, I learn from Anna Blennow – thank you! – is a detail from Antonio Lafreri’s image of the seven churches of Rome, 1575, here. The surroundings of the church are not accurate, but the general layout is. It shows the Vatican rotunda, just to the left side of the nave, with the atrium – and fountain – behind the raggedly front facade.
I also found online a picture of a model from the Vatican museums, although it was back-to-front on the site on which I found it! It shows the Vatican rotunda, with the obelisk before it (although not the surrounding houses); and also the other 3rd century tomb behind it, the chapel of S. Petronilla, in which the Empress Maria, the young wife of the Emperor Honorius, was buried. That tomb was demolished very early in the rebuilding, and the grave of the empress found and emptied.
However the most exciting pictures are some colour paintings that had previously passed unnoticed. The first is a painting of the burning of the Borgo, a district nearby, by none other than Raphael himself!
Raphael, The burning of the Borgo, detail.
In the background is the tower, and to the left of it, the facade of the main church inside the atrium! This, as we shall see, was indeed painted yellow, with pictures on it. Ste Trombetti kindly drew my attention to this site, which zooms in yet further:
Raphael, Burning of the Borgo, more detailed
This shows the pope in the tower, and the church behind (not sure that all the elements are in their real and historical places here; but we don’t care, because we get these marvellous pictures). The image of the stonework in particular gives a sense of scale otherwise difficult to sense in many of the old pictures.
The next image, a fresco from the sacristy in the modern Vatican, from Art Resource gives us a sadly low-resolution image of the exterior of the old basilica, which lines up very nicely with Raphael’s depiction (a high res image can doubtless be purchased at that site).
The atrium and entrance to the nave of old St Peter’s.
Finally, also from Art Resource, is another image from the Vatican museum, this time with an unusual “head on” view of the outside of the basilica. It shows the coronation of Sixtus V in 1585 A larger image of this would be very welcome!
Coronation of Sixtus V outside Old St Peter’s.
That’s it for now. Many thanks indeed to Ste Trombetti and Anna Blennow, who saw these images being posted on Twitter and contributed their better images!
February 11th, 2015 by Roger Pearse
Let’s continue reading this. I’m taking the Italian translation by Pirone – itself a near-impossible item to obtain -, running it through Google Translate and cleaning up the output. I know that “no true scholar” would do this; but since I see evidence that people simply don’t know what may be found in Eutychius, it seems worth doing.
9. Constantine was baptized in a town called Nicomedia, in the twelfth year of his reign. He gave orders to build churches in each country and to take from the Crown Treasury the money with which to make enough vessels for the churches. In the first year of his reign Eusebius was made patriarch of Rome. He held the office for six years and died. In the seventh year of his reign Miltiades was made patriarch of Rome (22). He held the office for four years and died. In the eleventh year of his reign Sylvester was made patriarch of Rome (23). He held the office for twenty-eight years old and died. In his ninth year in office the council was held in the city of Nicaea (24). In the third year of the reign of Constantine Filūniqūs [= Philogonus] was also made patriarch of Antioch. He held the office for five years and died. In the ninth year of his reign Paulinus was made patriarch of Antioch. He held the office for five years and died. In the fifteenth year of his reign Istāt [=Eustathius] was made patriarch of Antioch. He held the office for eight years and died. In his fifth year in office there was the council in the city of Nicaea. In the first year of the reign of Constantine Asun was made bishop of Jerusalem (25). He held the seat for nine years and died. In the tenth year of his reign Macarius was made bishop of Jerusalem. He held the seat for nineteen years and died. In his tenth year in office there was the council in the city of Nicaea. In the fifth year of the reign of Constantine there was also made patriarch of Alexandria Alexander, a disciple of Peter Martyr, the patriarch of Alexandria who had been killed, a companion of Ashillā, patriarch of Alexandria. He held the seat for sixteen years and died. In his fifteenth year in office there was the Council of Nicaea in the city because Alexander, Patriarch of Alexandria, had forbidden Arius to enter the church, and excommunicated him saying: “Arius is accursed because the patriarch Peter, before his martyrdom, told us: “God has cursed Arius: do not receive him and not let him go in with you into the church.” At the head of the city of Asyut (26), in the province of Egypt, there was a bishop named Meletius who shared the doctrine of Arius. The patriarch Alexander excommunicated him. There was at Alexandria a great temple that Queen Cleopatra had built in honor of Saturn, inside which was kept a large bronze idol which was called Mika’il. The inhabitants of Alexandria and Egypt were accustomed, every twelve month of Hathor, i.e. Tishrin ath-Thani (27), to celebrate, in honor of this idol, a great festival during which they offered many sacrifices. When he became Patriarch of Alexandria and having everywhere publicly professed the Christian religion, Alexander decided to destroy the idol and to put an end to the sacrifices. But since the people of Alexandria objected, he tricked them by saying: “From this idol can be expected neither utility nor profit. I would suggest, therefore, that you celebrate this feast in honor of the angel Michael and offer him these sacrifices that you may intercede for you before God, and so benefit you better than this idol.” Having them willingly accepted his words, [the patriarch] demolished the idol and put up a cross, and he called the temple “the church of [St] Michael” which is the church now called ”al-Qaysariyyah”, which was burned and destroyed at the time of entry into Alexandria of Magharibah. The festival and sacrifices were thus dedicated to the archangel Michael. Even today the Copts of Alexandria and Egypt are accustomed to celebrate on this day the archangel Michael, cutting the throat of many animals in his honour.
10. When Alexander, Patriarch of Alexandria, interdicted Arius from entering the church and excommunicated him, the latter appealed to King Constantine, asking him to help him against the patriarch of Alexandria. With Arius joined two bishops, one of whom was called Eumenius, bishop of the city of Nicomedia (28), and the other Eusebius, bishop of the city of Phila (29). They appealed to King Constantine, and Arius said: “Alexander, Patriarch of Alexandria, has acted unfairly against me and wrongly expelled me from the church.” And so saying, he asked him to convene the church in order to discuss the matter openly in the presence of the king. Constantine then sent his messenger to Alexandria and summoned the Patriarch in order to arrange a meeting between him and Arius and so to adjudicate the affair. King Constantine said to Arius: “Expound your doctrine.” Arius said: “I assert that the Father has always been, before the Son was. Then it is fact that the Son is the Word but he is created and made. Then the Father gave the Son, who is named Word, the power to be creator of the heavens and the earth and what is between them, as he himself said in his holy Gospel in the passage where he says: ‘I have been given all authority on heaven and on earth.’ He was not, therefore, creator by his own power but by that which had been conferred on him. I assert that this Word then took on a body over time, in the womb of the Virgin Mary and by the power of the Holy Spirit so as to become one Christ. Christ, therefore, is the result of putting together the Word and the flesh, both, however, created”.
11. To this Alexander replied, saying: “Tell us, what do you think is more important for us: to worship the one who created us, or to worship one who did not create us?” And Arius said: “Worshipping the one who created us.” Alexander replied: “If the Son created us, as you assert, and the Son is [in his turn] created, it follows that to worship the Son who created us is more proper than to worship the Father, who is uncreated; indeed, to worship the Father creator would be an impiety and to worship the created Son an act of the pure faith. But that would be the most absurd of things.” The king found the argument [of Alexander] was right, along with the others who were present with him, and found that the doctrine of Arius was instead absurd. There were many other questions and answers between the two, but in the end the king Constantine authorized Alexander, Patriarch of Alexandria, to excommunicate Arius and anyone who upheld his doctrine. Alexander then said to the king Constantine: “No, it is for the king himself to convene the patriarchs and bishops, so that there is a council at which to deliver a judgment, to excommunicate Arius and set forth the true faith, in order to present it with clear wording to all nations.” Constantine then sent his messengers into all countries and gathered the patriarchs and bishops. Within a year and two months there gathered at Nicaea two thousand and forty-eight bishops of differing opinions and religions. For there were those who claimed that Christ and his mother are two other gods, and these were the Barbarāniyyah, also called Maryamiyyūn;(30) there were those who claimed that the Son comes from the Father like the flame of a fire fed by the same fire, and that the former is not subject to reduction by the fact that he depends on the second, and this was the doctrine of Sabellius and his followers; there were those who claimed that Mary had by no means kept Christ in her womb for nine months, but that he passed through her belly like water goes into the gutter (31), since the Word came in by her ear and immediately went out to where the baby comes out, and this was the doctrine of Ebanus and his followers; there were those who said that Christ is a man and was created by the Deity like each of us as to the substance, which is the principle of the Son of Mary, and that, having been chosen to be the saviour of the human substance by virtue of divine grace that came down and dwelt in him through love and will, for this reason he was called the Son of God. And there were those who said that God is one substance and one person, and that he was called by three names but they did not believe either in Word or in the Holy Spirit, and it was this, the doctrine of Paul of Samosata, Patriarch of Antioch, and its followers, that the Paulicians held. There were those who argued that there are three gods, one good, one bad and a third one sharing in both, and this was the doctrine of the excommunicated Marcion and his followers, who claimed that Marcion was the leader of the Apostles, denying that role to the Apostle Peter. And there, finally, those who supported the divinity of Christ, and this was the doctrine of the apostle Paul and the three hundred and eighteen bishops (32).
When King Constantine heard their doctrines, he was very surprised at many of their differences and put at their disposal a building where he gave them space, ordering them to talk to each other in order to determine on which side was the true religion to follow. Of these, the Three hundred and Eighteen found themselves unanimous on one doctrine and one religion, after discussing with each other and with the other bishops. They refuted the arguments of the others, and proclaimed the true faith, while the other bishops even among themselves held to conflicting doctrines and religions. The king then for the three hundred and eighteen bishops had a large room set aside, sat among them, and took his ring, his sword and his scepter and handed them to them, saying: “Today I have given you authority over my kingdom, to do what seems appropriate to you to do for the definition of right religion and for the good of the faithful.” They blessed the king, girded on his sword and said: “Profess publicly the Christian religion and be its defender.” Then they wrote for him forty books containing the constitutions and laws, some of which related to what the king should know and do, and other related to the responsibility of making the bishops. The leader and president of the council was Alexander, Patriarch of Alexandria, along with Eustathius, Patriarch of Antioch, and Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem. Silvester, patriarch of Rome, had sent as his representatives two priests, one of whom was called Vitus and the other Vincentius (33). [The Three hundred and eighteen] unanimously sanctioned the expulsion of Arius and his followers, excommunicated him and all those who supported his doctrine, and formulated the profession of faith by establishing that the Son was born of the Father before all ages, and that the Son is of the substance of the Father, uncreated. They appointed then Metrophanes as patriarch of Constantinople. They were also unanimous in stating that the Christian Easter should be celebrated on the Sunday after the Passover of the Jews, and that the Passover of the latter should not to be celebrated in place of the day of Easter for Christians. Also they confirmed what had been said on the Calculation of the days of fasting and Easter by Demetrius, patriarch of Alexandria, Ghayānūs (34), Bishop of Jerusalem, Maximus, Patriarch of Antioch and Victor, Patriarch of Rome, and that is that the fasting of Christians must end on Easter day, or on the Sunday after the Passover of the Jews.