Archive Page 2
February 13th, 2014 by Roger Pearse
I wonder how many of us have ever heard of the “Bankes papyrus”? Certainly not I, before today. Yet it is a fascinating item.
A tweet from Sarah Biggs alerted me that:
The Bankes Homer is now online & blog post to come! (Papyrus 114, Greek, 2nd century).
P.Lond.lit.28, British Library papyrus 114, is a 2nd century Greek roll, containing the last 16 columns of Iliad 24.
The website browser is a bit “wobbly”, but displays a single image of the whole unrolled item (which is probably the right thing to do). I’m not sure whether a PDF of such an image is even technically possible, which is what one would otherwise want to have.
There are two images; one in a frame and one without. The framed image is clearly just for reference, as it isn’t very zoomable. It isn’t clear whether the verso is blank.
At the end is the colophon which consists only of “Ἰλίαδος Ω”, as is common in the papyri. If you zoom and pan, you eventually see something like this:
But of course you must look for yourself. The digitisation is really remarkable, and the quality of the result is extraordinary. You can probably see more, than you could if you were holding the item itself.
I learn from the page on the BL website – which is really very good, with very nice references for us to look up on Google books! - that William Bankes purchased the roll at Elephantine in 1821. The discovery was made by a certain Giovanni Finati, acting for him, and is told as follows:
… we all took our departure together for Assouan. And it was during our stay there of a few days that, on the opposite island of Elephantine, (which I have always remarked to be, after Thebes, the place where the greatest harvest of curious antiquities is brought for sale by the natives,) a roll of papyrus in the Greek character + was put into my hands, for which I bargained and fixed the price in the first place, and then took it to Monsieur Linant for the money, stipulating at the time that it was to be bought on Mr. Bankes’s account.
This roll proved to be that manuscript of Homer * which is considered so precious, but which it grieved me afterwards, and ever will, to have seen sold for more than its weight in gold + to that gentleman whom I considered the owner of it, and who would certainly have had it at my hands, without any further demand.
+ In my own journey, I bought a scrap of Greek upon papyrus in a very fine clear character, which seems to be the fragment of a letter or edict. I have a great number of tiles also written in a cursive Greek character, and highly curious upon that account, which purport to be receipts of pay by the Roman soldiery at Assouan during several reigns, from Tiberius to Commodius—one of these I found myself at Elephantine; and I have an amphora, also, that has served the same purposes as a modern slate to some tradesman’s family in Roman times, with his house or shop accounts registered upon it in ink from day to day.
* It contains the last book of the Iliad, most beautifully written, in uncial letters, and the lines numbered in the margin: what is very surprising, it has had accents added to it afterwards.
+ The author, though the first who had the handling of this papyrus, seems here to have formed a very undue estimate of its weight, for the sum which I paid for it amounted to no less than 25,000 piastres (about 500l.), that being stated as the offer that had been made for it from another quarter.
It is wonderful to have this item online! How many of us would ever have been able to see it otherwise? I doubt many of us could have managed to induce the keeper to let us see it, as recently as 10 years ago.
For this is what an ancient book looked like. This is a real roll, complete with the end of the book. Not a fragment of one; but 16 columns of it.
Look, and admire, and wonder!
February 12th, 2014 by Roger Pearse
The Getty Museum laudably makes some images available online. Some of these (but not all) may be freely used for personal purposes online. Most of the images on their site are NOT usable by anyone else, and they want money if we want to use any of them for scholarly purposes.
This simple statement is the outcome of some correspondence, which is worth detailing since I found the statements on their website confusing.
The Getty holds a statuette of Mithras riding a horse. I’d give you a photo of this – they have one here – except that I can’t. They want $15 if I let you see it. Don’t worry, it’s not very special. It’s probably not even Mithras. But rather annoying that I can’t just post a picture here. The object is not on display either, or I’d ask someone to go and take a photo.
But it gets more interesting. Originally I gave the wrong link, to another item. I got back:
We could agree to your request, but there would be a scholar rate fee of $15.00 to provide an image file and permission to publish the image on your site. …
If you do decide to order the image and obtain permission to publish it, here is a link to the Museum’s rights & reproductions information page:
Their “information page” was rather uninformative about permissions, which is why I had to write and ask. But of course if they have to do some work to make an image, then the $15 fee is reasonable. I fear, however, that making the image for them is something they would charge for again.
Once I gave them the right link, the answer was the same – $15 please.
I am a poor scholar. They are a very rich institution. It’s a bit rubbish for them to try to charge scholars for this.
What I’m doing is making a catalogue of all Mithraic monuments and items. Why is it in the interest of the Getty to obstruct scholars doing this?
Basically you can’t use their images in any way. Which is rather silly.
Still at least they have put an image of the item online. And they are starting to make some of their images available for use by the great unwashed. I would guess that some people at the Getty understand that open access is the way. But others haven’t got the message.
No doubt they will see that it makes no sense – and just irritates – to demand fees that nobody will pay to use images that nearly nobody cares about.
I would suggest that they do what the Walters have done, and allow ordinary people to use the images (suitably attributed) so long as money isn’t involved. Nobody won from trying to stiff me for money.
February 10th, 2014 by Roger Pearse
A passage in Damascius’ commentary on the Phaedo sheds an interesting light on the later neoplatonist philosophers and their involvement in theurgy – the art of invoking the gods by magic:
Some honour philosophy more highly, as do Porphyry and Plotinus and many other philosophers; others honour more highly the hieratic art [=theurgy] as do Iamblichus and Syrianus and Proclus and all the theurgists [=hieratists].
The rise in superstition in late antiquity, and still more in the post-Roman world, is a deplorable feature of the Roman decline and fall. Sometimes this rise is attributed to the rise of Christianity, which occurs in the same period. Nor is this allegation always without merit.
We are all familiar with the story of Justinian closing the philosophy schools. There are not lacking writers who rage against Christianity for this event, supposing that the successors of Proclus and Marinus and the like were pure intellectuals. But as we see from this excerpt from Damascius, they were in fact seriously involved in something not notably different from witchcraft.
Why did the neoplatonists lose contact with philosophy?
February 8th, 2014 by Roger Pearse
A correspondent kindly sent me some extracts of a English translation of Henri Crouzel’s book on Origen. On p.37-38 I find an English translation of the list of Origen’s works, as given by Jerome in letter 33. This is very useful information, and I reproduce it below.
On Genesis 13 books; assorted homilies 2 books; on Exodus scholia; on Leviticus scholia; Stromateis 10 books; on Isaiah 36 books; also on Isaiah scholia; on Hosea about Ephraim 1 book; on Hosea a commentary; on Joel 2 books; on Amos 6 books; on Jonah 1 book; on Micah 3 books; on Nahum 2 books; on Habakkuk 3 books; on Zephaniah 2 books; on Haggai 1 book; on the beginning of Zechariah 2 books; on Malachi 2 books; on Ezekiel 29 books. Scholia on the Psalms from the first to the fifteenth; also a book on each of the Psalms 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 24, 29, 38, 40. On Psalm 43, 2 books; on Psalm 44, 3 books; on Psalm 45 1 book; on Psalm 46, 1 book; on Psalm 50, 2 books; on Psalm 51, 1 book; on Psalm 51, 1 book; on Psalm 53, 1 book; on Psalm 57, 1 book; on Psalm 58, 1 book; on Psalm 59, 1 book; on Psalm 62, 1 book; on Psalm 63, 1 book; on Psalm 64, 1 book; on Psalm 65,1 book; on Psalm 68, 1 book; on Psalm 70, 1 book; on Psalm 71, 1 book; on the beginning of Psalm 72, 1 book; on Psalm 103, 2 books. On the Proverbs 3 books; on Ecclesiastes scholia; on the Song of Songs 10 books and two other volumes which he wrote in his youth; on the Lamentations of Jeremiah five volumes. Also the Monobibla; four books On Principles; two books On the Resurrection and two others on the Resurrection which are dialogues; a book on certain problems of the Proverbs; the dialogue against Candidus the Valentinian; a book on martyrdom.
Of the New Testament; on Matthew 25 books; on John 32 books; scholia on certain parts of John, 1 book; on Luke 15 books; on the epistle of the apostle Paul to the Romans 15 books; on the epistle to the Galatians 15 books; on the epistle to the Ephesians 3 books; on the epistle to the Philippians 1 book; on the epistle to the Colossians 2 books; on the first epistle to the Thessalonians 3 books; on the second epistle to the Thessalonians 1 book; on the epistle to Titus 1 book; on the epistle to Philemon 1 book.
Also homilies on the Old Testament: on Genesis 17; on Exodus 8; on Leviticus II; on Numbers 28; on Deuteronomy 13; on Jesus, son of Nave (Joshua) 26; on the book of the Judges 9; on the Passover 8; on the first book of the Kings 4; on Job 22; on the Proverbs 7; on Ecclesiastes 8; on the Song of Songs 2; on Isaiah 32; on Jeremiah 14; on Ezekiel 12. A homily on Psalms 3, 4, 8, 12, 13; 3 on Psalm 15; on the Psalms 16, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27; 5 on Psalm 36; 2 on Psalms 37, 38, 39; 1 on Psalms 49, 51; 2 on Psalm 52; 1 on Psalm 54; 7 on Psalm 67; 2 on Psalm 71; 3 on Psalms 72 and 73; 1 on Psalms 74 and 75; 3 on Psalm 76; 9 on Psalm 77; 4 on Psalm 79; 2 on Psalm 80; 1 on Psalm 81; 3 on Psalm 82; 1 on Psalm 83; 2 on Psalm 84; 1 on Psalms 85, 87, 108, 110; 3 on Psalm 118; 1 on Psalm 120; 2 on Psalms 121, 122. 123, 124; 1 on Psalms 125, 127, 128, 129, 131; 2 on Psalms 132, 133, 134; 4 on Psalm 135; 2 on Psalm 137; 4 on Psalm 138; 2 on Psalm 139; 3 on Psalm 144; 1 on Psalms 145, 146, 147, 149, Scholia on the whole Psalter.
Homilies on the New Testament: on the Gospel of Matthew 25; on the Gospel of Luke 39; on the Acts of the Apostles 17; on the second epistle to the Corinthians 11 on the epistle to the Thessalonians 2; on the epistle to the Galatians 7; on the epistle to Titus 1; on the epistle to the Hebrews 18. A homily on peace. A (homily) of exhortation to Pionia. On fasting. On cases of monogamy and trigamy 2 homilies. At Tarsus 2 homilies. Also scholia by Origen. Two books of letters from Firmilian,
Gregory and various persons: the epistles of the synods of Origen’s case are in Book II. Nine books of letters from him to various people; the letter in defence of his works is in Book II.
I imagine the footnotes that Crouzel gives are also useful:
3. Eusebius says 12: HE VI. XXIV, 2.
4. Perhaps it should be to the twenty-fifth: cf. Eusebius’s Iist below.
5. The psalms are numbered according to the Greek, not the Hebrew, system.
6. Etymologically: books (or Bible) only. We have no idea what that meant.
7. The famous Peri Archon or De Principiis.
8. 22 according to Eusebius HE VI, XXIV, 1: but we have Books XXVIII and XXXII.
9. This figure is certainly wrong. The von der Goltz codex only speaks of five volumes
covering the whole of the epistle and notes the verses commented on in each volume. See E. von der Goltz, Eine textkritische Arbeit des zehnten bezw. sechsten Jahrhundert. Texte und Untersuchungen XVII 4. Leipzig, 1899. p. 95. Jerome also mentions five books in Letter 112 to Augustine, §4.
10. In reality 3 books of which the von der Goltz codex notes the verses on which each
comments: see previous note.
11. A long passage of the third book is quoted in Latin translation by Jerome in Letter 119 to Minervius and Alexander, §§9-10 .
12. Sixteen homilies are usually reproduced but a Homily XVII is given in PG 13. 253-262: its text is the same as that of part of the De Benedictionibus Pamarchorum of Rufinus and it is eliminated as unauthentic for that reason, a faker being thought to have made up a homily of Origen out of that passage of Rufinus. I confess myself sceptical about this solution and think the opposite equally plausible: the early Fathers having no idea of literary etiquette – shown in numerous cases, the typical examples being Ambrose of Milan – Rufinus may well have sent to Paulinus of Nob who was asking for a treatise one which began by reproducing a homily by Origen which Rufinus had himself translated. In Letter 72 to Evangelus Jerome mentions a homily on Melchisedec which is no longer extant.
13. We have 13 of them.
14. We have 16 of them.
15. That is of Samuel.
16. These are the 14 that Jerome translated, but we have 22 and also in the Philocalia fragments of homilies 21 and 39.
17. Perhaps we should read the ‘first epistle’, for we have numerous fragments on it published by Cl. Jenkins in the Journal of Theological Studies IX-X, 1908-1909. Jerome says in Letter 48 to Pammachius §3 that Origen gave long expositions of this epistle. On the other hand we have no fragments on 2 Corinthians.
18. First or second?
19. These words mean in the primitive Church those who have been married once and
those who have been married three times successively. Three simultaneous marriages would have been illegal in the Greco-Roman world .
20. There is no other evidence of a stay by Origen in Tarsus. From this point on we
reproduce the text as corrected by P. Nautin.
Isn’t it odd that nobody has ever thought it worthwhile to produce an English translation of all of Jerome’s letters? This awkward, difficult man stands at the foot of all western biblical studies, and is of incredible importance for the history of Christianity in the west. Yet the majority of his works – written in simple Latin – remain untranslated.
February 7th, 2014 by Roger Pearse
4TH EDITION: Scribes and Scholars: A Guide to the Transmission of Greek and Latin Literature by L. D. Reynolds and N. G. Wilson (OUP). Forthcoming at the end of February.
One of the remarkable facts about the history of Western culture is that we are still in a position to read large amounts of the literature produced in classical Greece and Rome despite the fact that for at least a millennium and a half all copies had to be produced by hand and were subject to the hazards of fire, flood, and war. This book explains how the texts survived and gives an account of the reasons why it was thought worthwhile to spend the necessary effort to preserve them for future generations.
In the second edition a section of notes was included, and a new chapter was added to deal with some aspects of scholarship since the Renaissance. In the third edition (1991), the authors responded to the urgent need to take account of the very large number of discoveries in this rapidly advancing field of knowledge by substantially revising or enlarging certain sections. The last two decades have seen further advances, and this revised edition is designed to take account of them.
This volume is essential reading for anyone interested in the transmission of texts. Get it.
According to Amazon.co.uk, however, it is already available.
February 6th, 2014 by Roger Pearse
I’ve just had a very bad experience, because I relied rather uncritically on a volume that I found on Google books. It’s a warning, and I doubt I shall forget it in a hurry.
I have someone out in the Middle East transcribing the Arabic from Erpenius’ 1625 edition of the 13th century Coptic historian, al-Makin. Of course I got a copy from google books and sent it off, and thought no more about it.
The text is 300 pages. It turns out that various pages are missing, others appear out of order, or several times. Of course the transcriber was chosen for their Arabic skills, and, although they’ve done their best, have been utterly confused by this. Worse yet, they live in a region where internet access is poor, so downloads are very slow.
I have had to spend the entire evening working on the Erpenius PDF in Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro; indicating, page by page, whether the page should be included or not; marking up individual pages with red crossings out; inserting missing pages from another copy.
I’ve had to do this so that the transcribe can go through their transcription, in the order of the original defective PDF, and find the material in the right places.
It’s a hideous job.
Moral: never rely on a Google books PDF. Take the time and just go through it and collate it. It will take 15 minutes at most, and it will save you a world of frustration.
February 5th, 2014 by Roger Pearse
A correspondent has suggested to me the possibility of using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to read a portion of al-Makin that was published in the Bibliotheque d’etudes orientale 15, back in the 1950′s. I admit that I was dubious, but I’ve spent a little time this evening looking into the matter.
I believe that Adobe Acrobat Pro XI may have a facility to OCR text in Arabic. Certainly Acrobat Pro 9 does not; at least, my copy doesn’t seem to. There is discussion at the Adobe forums here.
One product mentioned there was something called Novoverus. This is supposedly used by the US government. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the company website omits any prices and will only deal with customers personally. However I did find a site offering it for sale, here, at a cool $1,299!
Fortunately the Adobe forum notified that Abbyy Finereader Pro 11 supports Arabic OCR. This I have. The user interface to this version of FR is buggy. It caused me endless grief while scanning Theodoret’s commentary on Romans. So I have mostly used an older version.
I’ve installed FR11 (version 10 is not good enough) and it does indeed have an Arabic option: “Arabic (Saudi Arabia)”.
I tried OCR’ing the text on a page of Erpenius. I didn’t think the results were that great; but then it wasn’t a fair test on a 1625 font! So I tried again on Cahen’s text. The result is as follows:
I don’t think that seems particularly impressive; but perhaps those who can actually read Arabic might comment.
February 4th, 2014 by Roger Pearse
An email brings the text of the Erpenius (1625) edition of al-Makin. The typist has done a good job.
She’s also indicated that some words – especially names – seem to be corrupt. These will need to be fixed by comparison against a manuscript.
Erpenius was a very early editor indeed, and his edition is probably very faulty. I don’t see it as my job to produce a satisfactory critical edition – I leave that to the professional scholars. What I want to do is get something that we can work with (while the professional scholars sit on their hands, as, since Erpenius, they have done).
Erpenius also died before he finished. His text only runs as far as 525/1130. The remainder of his second part (which is all that Erpenius edited) was published by C. Cahen, in “La Chronique Ayyoubides’ d’al-Makin b. al-`Amid.” Bulletin d’Etudes Orientale, 15 (1955-7): 109-84.
It turns out that I don’t have any decent images of manuscripts of that part of the work. So I have today ventured across to Cambridge University Library and photocopied Cahen’s publication. We’ll stick that on the end of Erpenius. I do wish, however, that CUL would buy some new photocopiers! Theirs are worn out.
Then we can venture onto the really interesting stuff – part 1! This contains the narrative from the creation down to the 11th year of Heraclius. I think we may start with Constantine, and do the section to Heraclius first. The opening material will undoubtedly be very tedious – at least, it was for Agapius, and, if I hadn’t done all the rest of him, I’d have abandoned it there!
February 1st, 2014 by Roger Pearse
The place is Beirut (or Berytus as it was then) in the early 6th c. A.D. Zacharias Rhetor, the author of the Life, and Severus of Antioch, its subject, are young men – students - at the famous law school. The latter is considering becoming a Christian. The two have decided to study the church writers together.
The work, by an eye-witness, gives an interesting picture of student life at that period, which is not unrecognisable even today. Note that “philosophy” here means asceticism.
We agreed, and set to work. We began with the treatises that different ecclesiastical authors have written against the pagans. After that, we read the Hexameron of the very wise Basil, then his individual discourses and letters, then the treatise addressed to Amphilochius, the refutation he wrote Against Eunomius, as well as the oration addressed to young men, in which he teaches them how they can benefit from the works of the pagans.
Then our reading continued, and we arrived at the writings of the three divines, Gregory and the two illustrious ones, John and Cyril.
It was only Severus and I who did these profitable readings during the time agreed. But every day we went in company to the church to attend the evening service. We had with us the admirable Evagrius, whom God had sent to Berytus expressly in order to urge lots of young folk to exchange the pointlessness of the legal profession for the philosophy divine. This Evagrius was from Samosata, and had been instructed in the schools of Antioch the great. When he was young, it happened that he was caught up in the passions of youth, and he went to see a spectacle being given in that city. A riot followed, and he was injured. Straightened out by this injury, he came to abhor the shameful spectacles, and thereafter assiduously frequented the holy churches, joining with those who, at that time, were singing all night in the church of the very illustrious Stephen, the proto-martyr.
These people were devoted to practical philosophy, which, in most cases, was not inferior in any way to the monks. After applying himself to the preliminary learning, Evagrius wanted to rise up to philosophy and to embrace the monastic life completely. But his father forced him to go to Phoenicia to study law, at the time when I also was going there. At the same time the admirable Eliseus (=Elisha), originally from Lycia, also came to Berytus for the same reason. Eliseus was a man who was very sweet and very humble. He lived simply and was full of compassion for those who needed food and clothing.
The friends that we make at university are often friends for life. It seems that it was much the same for Zacharius. At any rate he clearly remembers fondly, decades later, the friends of his youth.
So do we all, even if they have grown grey and weary since. Truly “such were the Grecians of our time.”
February 1st, 2014 by Roger Pearse
Regular readers will know that through an intermediary I have commissioned a lady in Syria to type up the Arabic text of Erpenius’ 1625 edition of the second part of al-Makin. Al-Makin was a 13th century Coptic writer. The first part runs from the creation to the 11th year of Heraclius; the second part (which alone has been printed) is abbreviated from the Islamic writer al-Tabari and runs down to his own time.
Today a further 8 chunks of transcription appeared – 80 pages of the Erpenius edition, which is 300 pages in all. I now have 190 pages of text in electronic form! Only 110 to go.
This transcriber is really good and swift and efficient.
I’ve also received a bunch of rather excellent photographs of the Barberini Mithraeum in Rome from a correspondent. The basic versions can be found here, but the photographer has kindly sent me the high resolution copies. I shall incorporate them into the Mithras site in due time.
I am still working on the Mithras materials from time to time. It’s the only way to attack such a vast catalogue of material. I daresay I shall still be working on it in a few years time. But that doesn’t matter. Whatever I put online is useful, and whatever I never get to … well, we’re no worse off.
A bunch of errata have been sent to the typesetter for the Origen book who, it turns out, has been in hospital.
I’m still full of cold, so not doing much on any of my projects however.