The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 6

Let’s translate a bit more of the work of the Arabic Christian writer, Sa`id ibn Bitriq, also known as Eutychius.  The last section dealt with the reign of Alexander the Great, and his death and burial by his minister “Filimun”.  For the funeral, Eutychius now introduces material from the “Sayings” literature.  So this chapter is fiction.

Collections of moral sayings attributed to famous figures circulated in antiquity in several languages, including Greek and Syriac.  They were a popular, and therefore a vulgar form of literature.  The material also came into Arabic.  Some of this material was used for Christian purposes, to demonstrate that the Greek philosophers predicted the events of the life of Christ, paralleling the predictions in the Old Testament.  None of this material is historically reliable.  Sayings pass from one author to another in the mass of material.  A modern analogy would be a joke book, where material may be attributed to Oscar Wilde, or to Winston Churchill, even if in fact it is proverbial. 

I’ve footnoted the Italian where I was unsure of the inevitably concise meaning.

17. Fīlīmūn the philosopher said, “This is a day of great instruction.  For the evil that he did has come about, and he abandoned the good that preceded him.[1]  He who wishes to weep over him whose kingdom has come to an end, let him weep.

Aflātūn [Plato] the philosopher said: “O you who gained by force everything, you accumulated what has deceived and abandoned you, and left you only the trouble of it, while the pleasure will pass to another.”

Aristatālīs [Aristotle] the philosopher said: “Alexander went away full of eloquence and returned to us silent.”

Nārin the philosopher said: “Say to Alexander’s flock, ‘This is a day when the flock leads the shepherd to pasture.'”

And Nīlūn said: “Can anyone console us for our king, who has suffered no disgrace, and truly leave us consoled?”

And another said, “This is the way that we must travel.  Desire what lasts as much as that which is temporary.”

And another said, “Take this as an example.  Yesterday gold was for Alexander a treasure.  Today Alexander was buried in gold.”

And another said, “You join those who rejoiced over your death, like those whose death will please you will join you.”[2]

And the philosopher Lūtas said: “Do not marvel at him who did not teach us anything when he was alive, and now warns us by his death.”

And the philosopher Mitrūn said: “Yesterday, O man, we could listen but not speak. Can you hear what we are saying today?”

And the philosopher Sīsan said, “This man has killed many people in order not to die himself.  Yet he died.  How could he not have been able to get rid of death with death?”

And another said, “Alexander did not teach us with his words as much as he teaches us now with his silence.”

And philosopher Dimitar said, “O you whose anger was the cause of your death, why have you never been angry with death?”

And another said, “Your strongholds tremble with fear, O king, and you have reassured the strongholds of those who feared you.”

And another said, “How do people neglect you today, O king, and how interested they are in your coffin!”

And another said, “How true is death to his own, yet they will not see, and they block their ears!”[3]

And the philosopher Fīluqatūn said: “If this is the end of life, it is best for us to be indifferent from its inception.”

And another said: “O people, do not weep over someone who has ceased to weep, but each of you weep for yourselves.”

And another said, “Well, you who were accustomed to the vastness of the conquered countries, how can you now endure such a narrow place?”

And another said: “If someone only weeps at death when it happens, there is still death on every new day.”

And another said: “You who were exalted, you have now become humble, and if you were in an enviable position, you have now become worthy of pity.”

And another said, “Who is he now whose anger was terrible, and standing beside him was forbidden?  Why are you not angry that death is allotted to you, or that you were unable to resist the humiliation [of death]?”[4]

And another said, “It is easy to see the example of the death of kings, and from kings the warning of the death of the will.”

And another said, “Alexander never had a lesson more effective than that of his death.”

And another said, “Your voice was terrible and high your kingdom. But now your voice is gone and your kingdom has fallen.”

And another said, “You could give favours and I could not speak. Today, however, I can speak and you can not give favours.”

And another said, “If nobody was safe from you yesterday, there is no one today who is your subject.”

And another said, “Yesterday the shepherd had cared for his flock, but today the flock cares for its shepherd.”

And another said, “You’ve joined those who had a claim against you and you’ll definitely have to pay it off.  Maybe I could know what tolerance you show to acts of paying debt and of justice.”

And another said, “If you had had as much severity and serenity in the past as you show us today, you would have been a sage.”

 

  1. [1]Not sure that I correctly render this sentence: “ne è venuto fuori il male che gli stava alle spalle e l’ha abbandonato il bene che lo precedeva.”
  2. [2]The Italian is:  “Ti possa raggiungere chi si è rallegrato della tua morte come tu hai raggiunto coloro la cui morte ti rallegrò”.  I can’t really understand this.
  3. [3]“Come è verace la morte con i suoi, eppure essi tacciano di falsità i loro occhi e si otturano le orecchie!”
  4. [4]Perché non ti sei incollerito sì che la morte s’allontanasse da te o perché non hai opposto resistenza per cacciar via da te l’umiliazione /della morte/?

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 5

We continue the reign of Alexander the Great.  Eutychius believes that Cassander poisoned him.  It is interesting that the evil reputation of Cassander (not named here) persisted after 13 centuries.

16. Alexander won many victories, and among the Greeks, thirteen kings obeyed him.  He founded thirteen cities, some in the west and others in the east.  He waged so many wars and gained so many victories that no king was greater than him.  He founded a city and called it by his name, Alexandria.  He then moved the government from the city of Makidūniya to the city of Alexandria.  He raised the lighthouse of Alexandria and made it a guide for all those who sailed by sea to lead them to the route that went to Alexandria.  After the king had conquered and obtained the empire of the world, he went to Bābil where he was poisoned and died.  This is because Alūmafidā[1], his mother, had written a letter in which she complained about his lieutenant, who commanded Makidūniyah, and as Alexander was angry at him, he had thought of killing him.  But getting wind of this, he sent his son to Alexander with many gifts and presents and with deadly poison, advising him to conduct himself with every kind of gentle wisdom in order to poison Alexander.  The young man came to Alexander, bearing all the gifts he had with him.  He came across, among others, the cupbearer of Alexander, with whom the latter had previously clashed and beaten up.  So, nourishing a great grudge against Alexander, the cupbearer assisted the young man in his intentions. Then one of Alexander’s followers joined them, in their conspiracy.  Now it happened that Alexander gave a banquet to his friends, where everyone ate and drank. Alexander was sitting with his followers and his close friends, cheerful and happy among the diners.  When he asked for a drink, the cupbearer poured the poison into the king’s cup and handed it to him.  Drinking it, the king immediately knew that he would die, and he called a scribe and dictated a letter to his mother in these terms:

“From the servant of God, Alexander, conqueror and lord of the land of the earth yesterday and today his pledge,[2] to his affectionate and merciful mother Alūmafīdā whose nearness he is unable to enjoy. Sincere and great peace to you.  The road that I am now travelling, O my mother, is the same as those have travelled who have fallen asleep before me, and that you and those who survive me will travel.  In this world we are just like the day that chases away the day that came before it.  Do not regret this world for the fact that it deceives its creatures.  You have an example of what you know about King Philip who could not stay with you nor survive.  Arm yourself, then, with sound endurance and remove your anguish and look for solitude.  Order that none should come to you unless they have not seen misfortune, so that you may know better what it is and know better about your condition and you can better care for your own. What I go to is a better and more restful condition than the one in which I lived.  Do good by me and accept this in resignation and endurance so that sorrow does not overcome you.  This letter I send to you on the last day of this life and on the first of the other, with the hope that it will console you and be a source of blessing to  you.  Do not disappoint me and do not sadden my spirit. Peace to you”.

He then commanded his seal put to the letter and for it to be sent secretly to his mother.  He then ordered his minister Fīlīmūn to keep his death secret and to go immediately to Alexandria.  Then he died.  It is said that when Alexander came to Qūmus, he became seriously ill and that his illness grew worse and worse every day.  His mother had told him that a diviner had predicted, when he was born, that he would die in a place whose sky was golden and whose earth was iron.  As ill as he was, Alexander came to Shahrazūr. His illness had become more acute during the journey. Then he stopped, and they put under him two boards with a coating of iron, and he sat down, while a man gave him shade with a shield inlaid with gold.  On seeing this, Alexander remembered the words of his mother, called his minister, dictated a letter to his mother and died.  When his mother received the letter, she ordered a banquet, inviting people to join.  However, she placed custodians at the door, with the order that nobody should enter except those who had not been hit by some misfortune.  The gatekeepers therefore questioned those who came and if they were struck by a disaster they would not let him in.  By doing so they excluded everyone and there was no one who could take part in the banquet.  On seeing this, [Alūmafīdā] accepted her fate in good faith, became strong and was convinced that this was the common fate of the mortals. The minister Fīlīmūn laid the body of Alexander in a golden coffin as an honour. In another text it is said: “He filled it with honey and kept the death secret.” He then led the soldiers to Alexandria, carrying behind the coffin of the [king], and as soon as the death of Alexander was made public in front of the people,  he showed them the coffin and placed it in the centre of the court.  Then the minister Filīmūn ordered the wise men to keep up a funeral elegy, which was a comfort for the friends of the followers, and an education for all the people.

 

 

  1. [1]I.e. Olympias.
  2. [2]I really didn’t understand this: “Dal servo di Dio, Alessandro, conquistatore e signore dei paesi della terra ieri ed oggi suo pegno“.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 4

We continue with the story of Alexander.  The Abbasid caliphs, for whom Eutychius wrote, were basically Persians, and so the destruction of the Achaemenids by Alexander – who is treated as the king of the “Rum”! – was obviously sensitive territory.  Eutychius copes with this inconvenience by denying Alexander his military victory, and instead attributing the defeat of Darius to treachery.  One doubts that anyone was fooled, but the flattery doubtless benefited the author.

I notice that Google Translate continues to mistranslate the numerals.  I must recheck all the numbers of years from A to B.

14 And when he came to the king, the messenger told him what Alexander had done.  Then Alexander gathered together his compatriots and his men, and said to them, “There are three ways to accomplish things:  with great forethought, with the ability to realize them, and with the implementation of both with a firm intention. Whoever of you is of this opinion will get what he wants and, whoever shares this will join with me, but whoever is not of the same opinion should stay away from me.” They replied, “God has united these three things in our king, while we have some who own one and some who own another, but no one is able to effectively implement what he has.”  Alexander was fully satisfied with their words.  Then he made all the arrangements and went out against Dāriyūs.  They met at al-Gazirah[1] and the war was protracted on both sides for forty days.  Dāriyūs had five trenches dug, and he placed in each of them a general (“isbahid”) at the head of twelve thousand men and every man went out to fight every five days.  Dāriyūs then ordered his men to bring him two heads of Rūm every day.  And in fact, two heads of the Rūm or one only were delivered to him daily.  Alexander was saddened at that in his heart and his rage reached its peak. He then sent to Dāriyūs: “We are almost annihilating each other. I therefore propose a way that allows us and you to come out of this; that is, that you deploy your men with a gap, so that I can take the way through your troops on the side where you are, and so can go back to my country.  We, indeed, have no intention of fleeing in the face of deployed troops, because such a thing would be a dishonour that could never be washed away, a spot that could never be purified and an unforgivable ignominy.”  Dāriyūs replied, “We do not think it appropriate to give you what you ask for, or see the reason for it.”  When he saw this, Alexander was thoughtful, with his head in his hands, looking for a way out.  Then he said to his men: “O Rūm, this means we are feeble and with little strength to win.  If there is any one among you, or among the Persians, who can suggest some stratagem in this matter in order to get us out of such anguish, he will have half the realm of the Persians and the Rūm and half of what is at the junction [of the whole territory]”.  The words of Alexander were heard by Khisnisf and Adarshīst[2], the sons of Adarbakht, the captains of the guard of Dāriyūs.  In another text it is said “of the armies”.  When it came to arms, they fell on Dāriyūs with their swords and struck him to the ground. The Persians were put to flight, and many were killed on the field.  It happened then that Alexander came to Dāriyūs, and saw him in that state, and he dismounted from his horse, rested his head on his chest, washed his face, bended his wounds, kissed him and wept, said, “Praise God who has not given it to any of my men to kill you. What we now see was already written in the foreknowledge of God.  Ask whatever you want.  For my part I grant you the right to ask three things, but you will also allow me to ask for one.”  Dāriyūs said to him: “I want you not to overthrow the nobles and dignitaries of Fāris, and to guarantee their safety.  I want you to not destroy the temples of fire, and to care for their security.  I want you to do justice on those who killed me, and return him the same, because he will certainly betray your favour if he is released as he has already betrayed mine.”  Alexander assured him that he would do what he had asked, and said, “What I want from you is that you give me your daughter Rūshtaq, and that this is done through you and with your blessing.” Dāriyūs replied, “I grant her to you in marriage, provided that you entrust the kingdom, after you, to a son that you have from her.”  Alexander consented and Dāriyūs gave his daughter to him in marriage.  Then he died.  Alexander then ordered him to be buried, wrapping him in the most precious linen that the king possessed and commanded the soldiers, Greeks and Persians, to march with the weapons [in salute] before his coffin.  Alexander and his most prominent men followed the parade to the place of the burial.  Then Alexander said, “If it had been my task to reduce Dāriyūs to the state in which you saw him, I would have done it because he was in any case my enemy.  Great is therefore the service of he who has spared me such an action and I feel I must reward him.  Come before me, and I swear solemnly in the name of God, that I will exalt him and raise him up above all my men.”  Then Khisnisf and Adarshīst, sons of Adarbakht, went on to him, and said to him, “We are the leaders of the guard of Dāriyūs, who have spared you such an action.  Therefore, give us what you promised us.”  [Alexander] ordered them to be crucified on two great crosses, saying: “These two men deserved to get what I ordered for them, because of their broken promise and for having betrayed their king. If they have not been loyal to their king, they will not be to anyone else.  I gave them what I had promised them and raised them above all my men.”  He then ordered gifts to be made to the mother, wife and daughter of Dāriyūsh, to give them the appropriate clothes to their rank and surround them with all honour.  He then ordered that gifts and clothing should be given to the Persian generals and notables as appropriate to their rank, benefits and expectations and confirmed them in their offices.  For these things they loved him, and held him dear to them.  Then Alexander invited those who wished to follow him in the invasion of India.  They went with him, glad and ready to fight.

15. Alexander thus reigned over seven provinces. From the captivity of Babil to the reign of Alexander 263 years had passed; from the reign of David to that of Alexander, 740; from the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt to the reign of Alexander, 1,346; from Abraham to the reign of Alexander, 1,853; from Fāliq to the reign of Alexander, 2,394; from the flood to the reign of Alexander, 2,925; from Adam to the reign of Alexander, 5,181.  The teacher of Alexander was Aristātālis, the philosopher.  Also in the city of Athinah was a wise man named Diyūğānūs [3].

 

 

 

  1. [1]I.e. in Mesopotamia.
  2. [2]Arrian in the Anabasis III, 21, calls them “Satibarzan and Barsaente.”
  3. [3]Aristotle and Diogenes.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 3

Let us carry on with Eutychius.  We reach the times of Alexander.

10. After him reigned his son Qamīsūs for nine years.[1]  After him, Smardhiyūs the Magian reigned for a single year.  He was called the Magian because a Persian named Zarādast appeared in his days, under whose influence the religion of the Magi became official, and he instituted the worship at the temples of fire.  After him, Dārā I reigned for twenty years.[2]  After him reigned Artahshāst, nicknamed “Longimanus” for twenty-four years.

In his time there lived in Greece in the city of Quwā[3], the physician Buqrāt, master of medical art.[4]  Sa`īd ibn Batrīq the physician says: “It is true what Ğālinūs says in his commentary to “Kitāb Iman Buqrāt wa ‘ahdihī” [5] where he asserts: ‘The king of Persia sent messengers to Hippocrates with a lot of money, asking him to go to him.  But Hippocrates did not consent to his request and did not go to him because he did not consider it right to care for the Persian enemies of the Greeks.’ Hunayn ibn Ishāq reports, in his translation of this book from Greek into Arabic, that Galen has conveyed that Hippocrates did not go to Artakhshāsht nicknamed “Longimanus” because it was said that at the time of this king the Persians had been affected by the disease called ” Al-Mawāriq”.[6]  In another text it is said that it was an epizootic disease.[7] [The king] then sent the satrap of the city of Quwāsalah to give Hippocrates a hundred “qintār” of gold, and sent it to him with honors and signs of esteem, to heal the Persians from the illness that had struck them.  But Hippocrates refused because he did not feel right to help and care for the enemies of the Greeks.”

11. Artakhshāsht Longimanus died and after him Artakhshāsht the Great reigned for thirty years.  After him reigned Makidūniyūs for three years.  After him reigned Sa‘adaniyūs for three years.[8] After him, Dārā II, nicknamed an-Nākit[9], reigned for seventeen years.  After him, Artakhshāsht, one of the sons of his brother Kūrish II, reigned for twenty-two years.  The wise men and philosophers of his time living in Greece were Hiraqlus, Mālūs, Fīthāghūras, Suqrātis, Sīlūn the legislator, Zīnūn, Abindaflis.[10] After him reigned his son Artakhshāsht known as Akhūs[11] for twenty years. Akhus, king of the Persians, gathered the army and marched on Egypt. The king of Egypt went out, and occupied the land. The king of Egypt, who was then the Pharaoh Shānāq[12], fearing to fall into the hands of Akhūs, King of the Persians, and be tortured, cut off his hair, shaved his beard and fled in disguise to the town of Maqidūniyah.[13] Akhūsh, king of the Persians, built the citadel known as Qasr ash-Shama in Fustāt, Egypt. He also built an imposing temple for the house of fire known today under the name of the church of Mār Tādurus.”  The king of the town of Maqidūniyah was Philip, father of Alexander. Akhus, King of the Persians, died.  After him reigned his son Arsīs, nicknamed “an-Nākit” for eleven years.  The philosophers and wise men of his time living in the city of Athīnā and in Greece were Aflātūn, Kinsālūn, Dīmūkrātis, Abullūniyūs and Suqrāt.[14]

12. Arsīs, king of the Persians, died.  After him, his son Dāriyūs reigned for seven years until he was killed by Alexander, who had become king of the kings who were in Mossul, Bābil, Fāris and  Āmid.  The cause for which Alexander killed Dāriyūs, king of the Persians, was this.  When his father Philip died, Alexander succeeded him on the throne of Makidūniyah at the age of sixteen.  Dāriyūsh, king of Fāris, knowing that Alexander was reigning over the Rūm after his father, tried to subdue him and wrote a letter to him as follows: “It has come to my notice that you have taken to reign over the Rūm without my permission.  If you had followed your father’s judicious conduct and acted according to our agreements, it would have been better for you and your prosperity would be long.  But the inexperience of your youth has induced you to behave with foolishness, and fools also are those who are with you.  Desist from the state in which you are, and send the tribute for yourself and your country, acknowledge your mistake and do it soon, without delay, otherwise I will move against you with the men of Fāris, and with them I will trample your country, I will kill your men, and I will deprive you of your prosperity.  I send you something that, if you can count it, you will know how many are my men and my friends.  Peace [to you]”. And he sent to him by a messenger, a qafīr of sesame seeds.

13. The messenger of Dāriyūs presented himself to Alexander and handed him the letter and the sesame seeds.  Alexander summoned his generals and read them the letter of Dāriyūs.  Then he said to them, “If you are gathered together, and you unite, you will beat him, but if you are divided he will get the better of you.” One by one they expressed their opinion and Alexander answered them, saying, “I feel that we will conquer Dāriyūs. It is proof of this, that he compared his men to sesame, which is a insubstantial food, and one that is eaten without effort. I feel that his kingdom will be ours.”  His men said to him, “This is the will of God.” Then Alexander wrote a letter to Dāriyūs in these terms: “From him who has become king by the will of God, from Alexander, the servant of God and King of the Greeks, to the excellent Dāriyūs.  I understand the content of your letter, what you describe as a transgression to your order, and what you are threatening me, that if I do not abandon the state in which I am and delay to send what you order me to send you, you will move against me with your men of Fars.  But your heart has spoken what your hand can not take, nor your thinking reach, because, in truth, I will come out against you with the lions of the Greeks, and then I will let you know how matters stand at our meeting. I send you something to be able to anticipate the strong flavour of my men. Peace [to you]”. And he sent him a small bag of mustard.

  1. [1]Cambyses II, son of Cyrus.
  2. [2]Darius I.
  3. [3]Cos?
  4. [4]I.e. Hippocrates.
  5. [5]I.e. the Book of the Oath and Testament of Hippocrates.”  Cf. Strohmaier, G., “Hunayn ibn Ishāq et le Serment Hippocratique”, in: Arabica 21 (1974), pp. 318-323.
  6. [6]More commonly “mayrùq”, i.e. fungus or jaundice.
  7. [7]I.e. an epidemic among animals, often communicable to men.
  8. [8]Sogdianus.
  9. [9]Darius II Notus.
  10. [10]Heraclitus, Malus (?), Pythagoras, Socrates, Solon, Zeno, Empedocles.
  11. [11]Artaxerxes III Ochus.
  12. [12]This must be Nectanebo II.
  13. [13]I.e. to Macedonia.
  14. [14]Plato, Xenophon, Democrates, Apollonius, and Socrates.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 2

Let’s carry on with Old Testament narratives from the time of Daniel.  It would interesting to know if any Persian sources were used for any of this.

5. After him, his son Awīl Marūdakh[1] reigned for twenty-three years.  He released Yahūnākhīm, king of the Israelites, from prison, and put on him the garments of honour, and treated him with every respect, and set free all the prisoners of Israel.  In Egypt the prophet Irimiyah[2] was stoned to death and was buried.  It is said that when Alexander entered Egypt, he brought the body of the prophet Irimiya to Alexandria and buried it there.  Awīl Marūdakh died.

6.  After him, his son Baltāssar reigned for three years and was killed. After he had eaten and drunk with his companions, and having become drunk, he had brought in the gold and silver vessels of the temple that his grandfather Bakhtanassar had taken away from Ūrashalīm[3] and drank from them, ordering his companions to do likewise.  But while he slept in the room, behold he saw the fist of a hand move on the wall, and the fingers of the hand write.  He was greatly frightened, and gathered together the wise men of Bābil, to read the writing and explain it.  But they did not succeed.  They said to the king, “There is here an Israelite named Dāniyāl whom your grandfather Bakhtanassar highly honoured and held in great consideration.  He will read it to you, and explain this to you”.  The king then summoned Dāniyāl.  Dāniyāl read the writing and recited the writing as follows: “Mānī. Thākāl. Fārās”. Then he said: “Mānī means ‘God has made your kingdom perfect and great.’ Thākāl means ‘The kingdom, already perfect, is destined to end’ and Fārās means ‘Your kingdom will be divided between the Medes and the Persians'”.  The king gave a mantle of honour to Dāniyāl and put a gold collar on his neck.  That same night, King Baltāssar was killed.

7. Then Dāriyūsh, son of Asrīr, the Mede, that is, of the house of Mādānī, reigned after him for a single year.  He took Dāniyāl and appointed him chief of his soldiers.  But his generals were jealous, and sought to discredit him in the eyes of the king, saying, “Dāniyāl is marching against the king with the intent of killing him”.  The king then cast Dāniyāl into a pit full of hungry lions.  Then, on his own, the next day he removed Dāniyāl from the pit.  The lions had not touched him.  The king felt very afraid, and threw in the pit the generals who had slandered him, and they were all devoured by the lions.  The king reconfirmed Dāniyāl as chief of his soldiers, and supreme organizer of his army.

8.  On the death of Dāriyūsh, the kingdom passed into the hands of the Persians.  The first Persian to reign was Kūrish the Persian.[4]  He also appointed Dāniyāl as chief of the army.  There was in Bābil a huge bronze idol called Bīl.[5]  To this idol there was offered daily twelve “makkūk” [6] of flour, forty rams and six divine measures.  Every day the king prostrated himself and worshipped the idol.[7]  But Dāniyāl responded, saying, “The servants of the idol are those who eat what is given to them as a daily ration”.  The king then called the servants, threatened them and confirmed [what Dāniyāl had said to him].  The king then ordered the demolition of the idol and that the servants should be put to death.

There was also, in Bābil, a great snake that the people of the city worshiped.  Dāniyāl said to the king: “Give me permission, and I will kill it.”  Dāniyāl then took some sausage, some pitch, and some hair, kneaded them together and fed them to the serpent.  As soon as the snake ate this, it died. When the inhabitants of Bābil saw what Dāniyāl had done, they were angry and sought to discredit him in the king’s eyes, saying: “Dāniyāl wants to kill you”.  The king was irritated with him, and threw him into a pit full of hungry lions, where he remained for six days.  The lions were given food, daily, of two bulls, and two rams. But during those six days, no meat was given to the lions.  In the land of Judah, in a place called Tiqwa‘, there was the prophet Habaqūq.[8]  He was cooking lentils and prepared a soup in a bowl to feed the harvesters.  But an angel from heaven called to him and said to him, “Habaqūq, bring the food you have with you to Dāniyāl in Bāhil.  He has been in the pit of the lions for six days and has not eaten any food”.  Then the angel of God grabbed the prophet Habaqūq by his hair and brought him to Bābil with the food that he had.  [Habaqūq] appeared at the pit where Dāniyāl was, called to him, and said to him: “Dāniyāl, I am Habaqūq.  God has sent me to you with food for you to eat”.  Dāniyāl came out of the pit, ate and praised God, then went back down into the pit.  The angel then took Habaqūq and brought him back to the land of Judah.  Then the king repented of what he had done to Dāniyāl and ordered them to pull him out of the pit.  The lions had not touched him.  The king was surprised, and restored to Dāniyāl the post of chief of the army.  The reign of Kūrish the Persian lasted for three years.[9]  Then he died.

9. After him reigned Akhshūwīrus for twelve years.  After him reigned his son Kūrish, known as Dāriyūs, for thirty years.  In the first year of his reign, Dāniyāl the prophet died.  In the second year of his reign he ordered the Israelites to return to Ūrashalīm and to [re]build the city and the temple.  This was because Kūrish the Persian had married an Israelite named Malihāt, sister of Zurūbābil, and made her queen according to the Persian custom.  Kūrish loved her very much and when she asked him to return the Israelites to Ūrashalīm with her brother Zurūbābil, the king agreed.  So Kūrish ordered Zurūbābil to reign at Ūrashalīm.  In his days prophesied Anagua[10] and Zakariya, son of Hağliyah.  He was the Ra’s al-Ğālūth[11] and he was entrusted with the task of [re]building the temple.  There was with him Izra, son of Sirāyā, the priest, and a multitude of the Israelites.  From the captivity of Bābil to the [re]building of the Temple seventy years had passed.  The construction lasted four years.  Zurūbābil, son of Salātiyil, son of Akhiyah, known as Yahūnākhīm, king of Judah, whom Bakhtanassar had deported and put into prison, waited for the construction.  Zurūbābil reigned over the Israelites at Ūrashalīm.  One year after the temple was rebuilt, the priest, `Izrā, died.  He had been a priest before the arrival of Yūsha, son of the priest Yahūsādūq,[12] and seeing the Jews commit many errors against the Torah, he wrote for them the Torah that they currently have.  He reformed the dictates of their law and taught them their religion.  Kūrish-Dāriyūsh, king of Bābil, died.

  1. [1]Or Evil-Merodach, as our bibles memorably label him.
  2. [2]Jeremiah.
  3. [3]Jerusalem
  4. [4]Cyrus.
  5. [5]Baal.
  6. [6]A makkuk is about 55 litres of dry material.
  7. [7]I wonder if something is missing from the text after this sentence – it reads as if someone accused Daniel, who then replies.
  8. [8]The biblical account does not mention that Habakuk lived at Tecoa, modern Khirbet Tiqwa‘.
  9. [9]Much longer in reality; from 559-530 BC.
  10. [10]Haggai.
  11. [11]“27. The wording is obscure and very difficult to interpret.” – Pirone.  It looks like a title, like “Reis” i.e. “overseer”, to me.
  12. [12]The actions of Joshua son of Yozadak are referred to in the books of Esdras and Haggai.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 1

Let’s return to the start of chapter 7, in Old Testament times.  Compared to the last two chapters, this chapter is not very long.  So let’s have a crack at it.  Some of this story might be a little familiar…  Read the names aloud, and see if you recognise them.

1. In the eighteenth year of the reign of Bakhtanassar, i.e. in the year before the destruction of Bayt al-Maqdis, [the king] made an idol of gold sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and erected it in the centre of the city of Bābil, ordering all the people of his kingdom to worship it.  Anyone who refused to worship it would be burned in the furnace.  Bakhtanassar chose three young Israelites and named the first Sīdrākh, the second Mīsākh and the third ‘Abdanāghū.  These three young men refused to prostrate themselves in front of the idol and the king commanded them to be thrown into the furnace.  But God sent them an angel from heaven who extinguished the fire, and the fire was changed for them into coolness and health.  Seeing this, Bakhtanassar ordered them to be taken out of the furnace, scrutinized them thoroughly and found no traces of fire injuries either on their bodies or on their garments.  This increased his astonishment, and he was afraid, and honored them, invoking his power and making them heads of his household.

2. In the fourth year after the destruction of Bayt al-Maqdis, Bakhtanassar had a dream.  He therefore summoned the interpreters of dreams and the astrologers and said to them:  “Tell me about the dream I had and give me an explanation, otherwise I will kill you.”  They replied,  “How will we know what dream you had, if you do not tell us what you dreamed about, so that we can give it an interpretation?”  Bakhtanassar became angry and thought about having them beheaded.  The prophet Dāniyāl was still young when the deportation had taken place.  Bakhtanassar had taken him for himself, and had educated him in his house covering him with favours.  He then sent to call him.  Dāniyal said to him: “I will tell you the dream you had, and I will give you an interpretation.  The king saw a great idol, which looked like a beast.  Its head was of gold, its hands of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, the legs of iron, and the feet of clay.  Then the king saw a huge boulder fall from a mountain, and batter and shatter the idol until nothing was left of it.  The boulder then became an imposing mountain and filled the earth.  This is what the king saw.  The interpretation is then the following.  You, O king, are the head of that idol, the gold.  After you will rule one less than you, the silver.  After him will rule a king less than him, the bronze.  After him will rule a king less than him, the iron.  After him will rule a king less than him, the clay.  Then after him will rule a great king whose kingdom will never end.  And just as you saw a boulder fall from the mountain alone and break the idol and fill the earth, so that king will reign over all the earth forever”.  Bakhtanassar then ordered them to give new clothes to Dāniyāl, to cover him with honour, preferred him to all the wise men of Bābīl, appointed him chief of his house and called him Baltāssar.

3. In the fifth year of the captivity of Bābil and the destruction of Ūrashalīm, Hizqiyāl, son of Yūzi, prophesied at Bābil, in the place called Karmila, Bārūkh, son of Nāriyā, and his brother Sirās, Dāniyāl of the house of David, Mardukhāf of the house of Benjamin, Hakāy, Zakhariyā, son of Bārāshiyā, Malākhīya, ‘Izrā e Nāhūm.  In Egypt there were Habaqūq, the tribe of Simeon, and the prophet Irimiyā.  In Bābil the Israelites worshiped idols, and the prophet Hizqiyāl reproached them for their conduct.  But the magnates of the Israelites attacked him and killed him.

4. In the twenty-fifth year of the reign of Bakhtanassar, he marched against Egypt, devastated it and killed its king, thus extending his kingdom over Egypt, Syria, the land of Judah, of the Rūm, of the Greeks, the Fāris, of Bābil and of Mossul.  Bakhtanassar reigned for forty-five years, nineteen of which were before the destruction of Ūrashalīm and the captivity of the Israelites, and twenty-six after the destruction of Ūrashalīm.  King Bakhtnassar died.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19m – Abbasids part 12

The last chapter!  Continuing the reign of al-Muqtadir, the reign of al-Qāhir, the start of the reign of ar-Rādī, and the end of the Annals.  It ends with a solicitation of money – “O munificent king”! 

9. Al-Muqtadir withdrew his favour from his minister Hāmid b. al-‘Abbās and had him killed in the month of Rabi’ al-awwal of the year 321 [of the Hegira].[1]  He released Ali b. Ahmad (sic!) b. al-Furāt and appointed him as his minister, nine days before the end of the month of Rabī ‘al-ākhar of the year 311 [of the Hegira], for the third time. The Muslims of ar-Ramlah rioted, and destroyed two churches of the Melchites, namely the church of St. Cosmas and the church of St. Cyril.  They also damaged the churches of Ascalon and Caesarea, in the month of ğumādā al-ākhar of the year 311.  The Christians complained to al-Muqtadir, to allow them to [re]build what had been destroyed.  Then the Muslims of Tinnis rose up and demolished a church of the Melchites from Homs at Tinnis, called “Būthawr’s Church”, in the month of Rağab.  Afterwards, Christians [re]built the church of Tinnis, but before they had finished the Muslims rioted for a second time and destroyed what they had built, setting it on fire.  The sultan then gave his support to Christians so that they could complete the [re]building of the church.  Al-Muqtadir withdrew his favour from his minister Ali b. Muhammad b. Al-Furāt and had him killed together with his son Muhassin in the month of Rabi` al-awwal of year 312.  Al-Muqtadir appointed as his minister ‘Abd Allah in the month of ğumādā al-ākhar of the year 314 [of the Hegira].

10. The Muslims of Damascus rioted and destroyed the Church of the Catholics dedicated to the Blessed Mary.  It was a majestic, beautiful and beautiful church, for the construction of which two hundred thousand dinars were spent.  They looted all the vessels, ornaments, and drapes that were there.  They also looted the monasteries, especially the convent of nuns which was beside the church.  They demolished many churches of the Melchites and pulled down the Nestorian church, in the middle of the month of Ragab of the year 312 [of the Hegira].

11.  ‘Ali b. ‘Isà was at Mecca.  The minister Abd Allah wrote to him, that he should go to Egypt to see close up how things went.  ‘Ali b. Isa entered Egypt at the beginning of the month of Ragab.  He summoned the monks and bishops, and demanded that they pay the poll-tax for all the monks, the sick and the poor, and for all the monasteries who were in Lower Egypt, as well as for the bishops and monks who were in Dayr Mīnā.  A group of monks then went to Iraq to al-Muqtadir and begged him to come to their rescue.  [Al-Muqtadir] then wrote that no poll-tax was required from them, and that things would return to be as they always were.  He then dismissed the minister Abd Allah b. Muhammad b. Khāqān and appointed as his minister Abū’l-‘Abbās Ahmad b. ‘Abd Allah b. Ahmad b. Al-Khasib in the year 313 [of the Hegira].

12. Nicholas, patriarch of Constantinople, died after holding office for thirty-three years.  After him there was made patriarch of Constantinople Stephen.[2]  He was a eunuch. He held office for three years and died.

13. A huge star appeared in the land of Egypt, whose rays were brilliant and very fast-moving, and behind it a sparkling tail, and an impressive flame of considerable size and strongly reddish colour.  It ranged from north to east, nearly three hundred rods long,[3] and nearly two wide, like a snake.  This happened at sunset, on Wednesday, 5th of the month of Rabi` al-ākhar of the year 313 [of the Hegira].  It lasted three hours, then went out.

14. The minister Abu’l Abbas ibn al-Khasib was dismissed and Ali ibn Isà b. al-Garrah was appointed minister. Then [al-Muqtadir] dismissed him and appointed as minister Abū ‘Ali b. Muhammad b. ‘Ali on the Thursday of the middle of the month of Rabi` al-ākhar of the year 316 [of the Hegira].  At Baghdad, the officers rose up against al-Muqtadir and decided to kill him.  They were Abū’l-Hayğā, Nazūk, and others.  Al-Muqtadir, fearing for his own life, abdicated on the Saturday of the middle of the month of al-Muharram of the year 317 [of the Hegira].  Al-Muqtadir’s brother, Muhammad b. Ahmad, was enthroned in his place.  He sat on the throne for only the Sabbath and Sunday, for on Monday, the servants gathered, better known as the al-Masāffiyyah[4], killed Nāzūk and Abū’l-Hayğā, returned the Caliphate to al-Muqtadir, removed Muhammad ibn Ahmad and sent him back to his home with all honours.  In Egypt there was such an indescribable invasion of grasshoppers that they prevented, by their multitude, the sun’s rays falling on the earth.  The Egyptians had never seen similar grasshoppers.  The grasshoppers devastated their vineyards, all the fruit trees, the palms and the leeks, and the gardens and the vineyards were reduced to complete devastation.  This took place in the month of Rabi` al-awwal of the year 327 [of the Hegira]. (In another text it says “of 317”.)

15. In Yamāmah[5] and in Bahrain, there arose a rebel called Sulayman ibn Hasan, better known as Abū Sa’id al-Gānābi (268), who marched on Basra, conquered it, and destroyed it, making a great massacre of the inhabitants.  From there he moved to Kūfa, occupied it, and killed the population, taking away a great booty.  Then he went on and camped near Baghdad, in a place called “Tell ‘Arqūf”.  There were many battles between him and the soldiers of al-Muqtadir, but, unable to get what he wanted, he returned to Kūfa in the year 313 [of the Hegira].  Then he filled with earth, in order to block them, the water wells that were scattered along the road leading to Mecca and the lowlands.  The people of Baghdad and Khurāsān saw themselves thus forced to forgo the pilgrimage, for fear of him, while those of Egypt and Syria continued to make it.  It was the 7th of the month of Dhū’l-higga of 317 [of the Hegira] and many people were intent on doing their pilgrimage, when al-Gannābi with his men fell upon Mecca and entered it.  Around the Ka’bah, in the mosque and in the markets, he killed such a multitude of people as to fill with corpses the well of Zamzam.[6] Even the valleys, the streets, the houses and the deserts were full of corpses.  Of those who had escaped escape, some were killed by the desert Arabs who deprived them of what they had, others fled to Jedda and took to sea.  Al-Gannabi[7] was insatiable of these incalculable riches and furnishings, and he laid his hands on all the gold and silver that was inside the Ka’bah.  On the door of the Ka’bah there were silver plates: he prised them off and took them.  In a corner of the Ka’bah, outside, there was a black stone that people worshiped and kissed, imploring blessings from God: he removed it and took possession of it. He stayed at Mecca for seven days, stripping it of everything he found.  Then he returned to his country, making pilgrimage impossible [to Mecca].

16. Elias, Patriarch of Antioch, died, on Saturday, 13th of the month of gumādà al-ākhar of the year 317 [of the Hegira].  He had held office for twenty-eight years.  Muhammad ibn ‘Ali b. Muqla was dismissed as minister on a Tuesday, eleven days before the end of the month of gumādā al-awwal and there was appointed as minister Sulaymān ibn al-Hasan b. Makhlad on Thursday, thirteen days before the end of the month of ğumādà al-awwal, of the year 318 [of the Hegira].  He was dismissed eight days before the end of the rağab month of year 317 (sic!).[8]  There was made minister ‘Ubayd Allah b. Muhammad al-Kaddāni on Saturday, six days before the end of the month of Ragab of the year 319 [of the Hegira] and he was dismissed.  There was appointed as minister al-Hasan ibn al-Qasim b. ‘Ubayd ad-Dīn Sulaymān b. Wahb on Saturday, three days before the end of the month of Shawwāl of the year 319 [of the Hegira] and he was nicknamed ‘Amīd ad-dawla b. Wali ad-dawla.  He was dismissed and there was appointed as minister Abū’l-Fadl b. Ga‘far b. al-Furāt b. Khayzurānah, on Sunday, three days before the end of the month of Rabi al-ākhar of the year 320 [of the Hegira].  His genealogy was derived from his mother, because it was his mother who was called Khayzurānah.

17. As for the Rūm, Christopher, son of Domitius, died and Domitius embraced the monastic life.  Constantine alone remained in the government of the empire. Stephen, patriarch of Constantinople, died after having held office for three years. There was made patriarch of Constantinople Atrānfinūs.[9]  Christodoulus, Patriarch of Alexandria, died on Wednesday, eleven days before the end of the month of Dhul-qa’da of 320[10], or November 25, 649 of the era of Diocletian.  He was buried at Fustāt-Misr.  He had held office for twenty-six years and six months.  He was buried in the church of [St] Michael.  The officers who were stationed in Baghdad rose up against al-Muqtadir, along with the eunuch Mu’nis and provoked rioting against him.  [Al-Muqtadir] went out against them to fight against them, but they killed him and with his head, hoisted on top of a spear, they went around the city.  It was the Wednesday, two days before the end of the month of shawwāl of the year 320 [of the Hegira].  His caliphate lasted twenty-four years, eleven months and fifteen days.  His minister was al-Fadl b. Ga’far b. al-Furat.

18. The Patriarch of Constantinople [Tryphon] died after having held office for three years.  There was made patriarch Dumniyūs, his own son, called Brufilaqta.[11]  He was an eunuch and he was twenty-two years old.

CALIPHATE OF AL-QĀHIR (320-322/932-934).

1. The bay’ah was given to al-Qāhir bi’llāh Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Mu‘tadid on Thursday, the last day of the month of Shawwāl of the year 320 [of the Hegira]. He named as his minister Muhammad b. ‘Ali b. Muqla.

2. In the first year of his caliphate, there was made patriarch of Alexandria Sa‘id ibn Batrīq[12], the physician, a native of of Fustāt-Misr, and later called Anba Eutychius, on Thursday 13th of the month of Safar of the lunar year 321.

CALIPHATE OF AR-RĀDĪ [BI’LLĀH] (322-329/934-940).

1. The bay’ah was given to ar-Rādī, i.e. Abū’l-`Abbās Muhammad b. Al-Muqtadir, on Wednesday 6 ğumādā al-awwal of 322 [of the Hegira].  He named as his minister Muhammad b. Muqla.

2. In the first year of his caliphate there was made patriarch of Antioch anba Theodosius, i.e. Stephen, the scribe who was in Baghdad with the eunuch Mu’nis, in the month of Ramadan of the year 323 [of the Hegira].  On the 3rd of the month of dhū’l-qada of that year, there was a frightening earthquake in Egypt and a confused movement of falling stars.

3. Muhammad ibn Tu‘g[13] fled to Barqah with a group of officers and people. Then they gathered and returned to Alexandria while those in the city fled to the Gulf of Rosetta.  Ibn Tughğ sent an army with his brother Abu’z-Zafar at the head.  He repulsed them in the year 304 [of the Hegira][14], killing some of them and making some of them prisoners.  The people then returned to Alexandria.[15]

4. Ar-Rādī withdrew his favor from his minister Muhammad b. Ali and appointed as his minister ‘Abd ar-Rahmān b. ‘Isa in the year 324 [of the Hegira].

5. On Palm Sunday of the year 325 [of the Hegira] the Muslims made an uprising against the church of Jerusalem, focusing on the southern gates of the church of Constantine and the portico.[16]  The patriarch was from Ascalona, ​​had two sons and two daughters and was called Christopher.[17]  The fire occurred in the first Easter of his period of patriarchy.  [The Muslims] also attacked the Place of the Skull and the Place of the Resurrection.[18]  In year 325 [of the Hegira] ar-Rādī removed his favour from ‘Abd ar-Rahmān b. ‘Īsā and dismissed him, appointing as his minister al-Fadl b. Ga’far.  In the year 326 [of the Hegira] there was a satisfactory truce between the Rum [and the Muslims].  That same year Theophilus, patriarch of Constantinople, sent his own message to the patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch asking them to mention their name in their prayers and in their masses, as this was no longer done from the time of the Umayyads.  They welcomed his request.

6. Here ends the book of Sa`īd ibn Batrīq the doctor, namely Eutychius the Melchite, who became patriarch of the city of Alexandria in the year 321 of the Islamic Hegira at the age of sixty lunar years.  But if you want to know the date of the beginning of this book and from when it is composed, start your calculations from this date, i.e. from the day when Sa’id ibn Batriq became patriarch, i.e. from the 8th of the month of Safar of  the year 321 of the Islamic Hegira.  May God keep us in good health!

The book has been completed with the help of God Most High, O munificent King.

  1. [1]This should be 311 AH, as the next sentence makes clear.
  2. [2]Stephen II, who held off from 29 June 925 to 18 July 927.
  3. [3]The Italian word for “rods” is “aste”.  I have no idea how long this is supposed to be.
  4. [4]A special group of palace slaves.
  5. [5]In central Arabia
  6. [6]A well in the mosque area south of the Kaaba, 72 feet deep.
  7. [7]Jedda is “Gedda” in the Italian; perhaps al-Gannabi should be al-Jannabi?
  8. [8]Should be 319.
  9. [9]Tryphon, who held office 927-31 AD.
  10. [10]I.e. 22-23 November, 932 AD.
  11. [11]Theophilus, 933-56 AD.
  12. [12]I.e. Eutychius himself, who held office 7 Feb. 933-11 May 940.
  13. [13]This is Muhammad b. Tughg al-Ikhshīd, founder of the Ikhshid dynasty who controlled Egypt for three decades.
  14. [14]Should read 334.
  15. [15]This paragraph doesn’t make sense, as far as I can see.  The Italian is: “Muhammad ibn Tu‘g (284) fuggì a Barqah assieme ad un gruppo di comandanti e al popolo. Poi si riunirono e fecero ritorno ad Alessandria mentre quelli che si trovavano in città fuggirono verso il golfo di Rosetta. Ibn Tughğ mandò un esercito con a capo il fratello Abū’z-Zafar. Costui li sgominò nell’anno 304 /dell’ègira/ (285), in parte uccidendoli e in parte facendoli prigionieri. La popolazione fece così ritorno ad Alessandria.”
  16. [16]Pirone: Recorded in PG 111, 1155-6: “The Muslims set fire to the basilica of Constantine while the patriarch was officiating.  The episode is commemorated in the Jerusalem calendar on March 24th.
  17. [17]Probably Christodoulos is meant here.  If so, this means that Eutychius omits the reign of Athanasius I, his predecessor.
  18. [18]Cf. PG 111, 1083.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19k – Abbasids part 11

A new caliph, al-Muqtadir.  In this period the entire population of Alexandria is ordered out of the city, and many perish in the countryside, leaving ruins behind.  Some do return in the end.

As is often the case in chroniclers, the events of recent history – but not contemporary history, which might be dangerous for the chronicler – get treated at more length. 

CALIPHATE OF AL-MUQTADIR BI’LLĀH (296-320/908-932).

1. The bay‘ah was given to al-Muqtadir bi’llāh Ga‘far b. Ahmad al-Mu‘tadid bi’llāh, on the very day that his brother al-Muktafī died, that is, on Sunday 13th of Dhul-qa’da of the year 295 [of the Hegira]. His mother was an umm walad named Sha‘ab.  He confirmed the position and office of al-‘Abbās, his brother’s minister, and entrusted him with the management of his affairs.

2. Then some of the officers came together in order to put on the throne ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Mu‘tazz.  For several days Baghdad was convulsed by acts of war.  The ministers al-‘Abbās ibn al-Husayn and Fātik were killed in the month of Rabī‘ al-ākhar of the year 299 [of the Hegira].  ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Mu‘tazz was taken and put in prison.  Al-Muqtadir appointed as minister Ali ibn Muhammad b. Musa b. Al-Furāt.

3. In the Maghrib, a man named Abū ‘Abd Allah al-Muhtasib bi’llāh revolted who, put to flight the troops of Ibn al-Aghlab, killed his men and captured the Maghrib.  Learning this, Ziyādat Allah b. Ibrāhim b. Al-Aghlab, who took with him his women and followers and went to Egypt.  He entered Egypt in the month of Ramadan of the year 296 [of the Hegira], and then went to ar-Ramlah and remained there until his death.  Abū ‘Abd Allah al-Muhtasib, who had been raised in the Maghrib, took a man named ‘Ubayd Allah who claimed to be an ally, enthroned him, gave him the bay’ah, and invited others to do the same.  Then ‘Ubayd Allāh attacked Abū ‘Ubayd [1]Allah al-Muhtasib and killed him, taking over the Maghrib, in the year 298 [of the Hegira].  Al-Muqtadir removed his favour from Ali ibn Muhammad b. Al-Furāt in the month of Dhū’l-hiğğa of the year 299 [of the Hegira] and he was thrown into prison, appointing as his minister Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah Allāh b. Yahya b. Khāqān, nicknamed “Daqqa sadrahu”, because when asked to do something, he used to beat his chest saying, “Yes, with great pleasure!”[2]

4. In the third year of the caliphate of al-Muqtadir there was made Patriarch of Jerusalem Leo.  He held office for seventeen years and died.  In Alexandria, the great church called “al-Qaysāriyyah” – i.e. the temple that Queen Cleopatra had erected and dedicated to Saturn – caught fire on Monday, 3 of the month of Shawwāl of the year 300 [of the Hegira].

5. In the month of Rabī’ al-ākhar of the year 300 [of the Hegira] Abd Allah sent an officer named Habāsa at the head of a large army.  Habāsa occupied the city of Barqah, routing the soldiers of al-Muqtadir who were there, then he aimed at Alexandria, engaging the soldiers of al-Muqtadir in Alexandria in a tough battle.  Habāsa routed them and occupied Alexandria.  He then sent a detachment to al-Fayyūm and to al-Bahnasā[3] and occupied them.  He wrote to Ubayd Allāh[4] to inform him about what was happening, and Ubayd [Allah] sent his son Abū’l-Qasim (In another copy it says ‘Abd ar-Rahmān’) at the head of a great army to support Habāsa.  Takin al-Khassah was governor of Egypt.  Al-Muqtadir sent al-Qāsim ibn Simā to help with a group of officers, as well as the eunuchs Mu’nis and Hawa.  They went to al-Gizah and asked for the help of the people, recruiting about a hundred thousand armed men.  [Habāsa] moved against them with his army, and the others also deployed, ready for battle.  The battle between the two sides took place in an district of al-Ğazīrah known as “Ard al-Khamsin”.  Habāsa was put to flight, and his servants were killed and hunted down by the population.  Then Habāsa’s soldiers marched back and fell upon the people and killed all those whom they came across.  It was already evening and night separated them.  Of the people there were about twenty thousand killed, and of the men of Habāsa ten thousand.  During the night, the men of ‘Ubayd Allāh reassembled, and cryers went around to recall the population.  Abū’l-Qāsim returned to the Maghrib with his men and his army.

6. Al-Muqtadir withdrew his favour from Ali ibn Muhammad b. ‘Ubayd Allāh b. Yahya b. Khāqān on Monday, 10th of the month of al-Muharram of the year 301 [of the Hegira], and appointed as his minister Ali b. Al-Garrāh, who he then dismissed in the month of Dhūl-hiğğa of the year 303 [of the Hegira].  Ali b. Muhammad b. Al-Husayn b. Al-Furāt was brought out of prison and appointed as minister.  Then he dismissed him, and again put him in prison in the month of ğumādà al-awwal of the year 304 [of the Hegira], appointing as his minister Hāmid ibn al-‘Abbās.

7. In the year 307 [of the Hegira] Abū’l-Qāsim ibn ‘Ubayd Allāh moved from the Maghrib at the head of one hundred thousand men and captured Alexandria.  The people of Egypt were terrified.  He then conquered al-Fayyūm, al-Bahnasi, and the island of al-Ashmuriyyin.[5]  Learning of this, al-Muqtadir sent the eunuch Mu’nis with a large army.  The armies encamped at al-Gizah.  Then Ubayd Allah arose and sent one hundred warships, eighty of those called humuli[6] and twenty of those called ushārinī[7], who docked at Rosetta.  Mu’nis wrote al-Muqtadir, informing him of the fact.  Al-Muqtadir sent the eunuch Thamāl with fifty warships.  Thamāl confronted them, and destroyed the fleet by burning it.  Most of the men were killed, others drowned, many others surrendered pleading for protection.  He then sent the latter to Misr.  When they arrived, the people said to them, “Whoever of you is a kutāmī [8] should separate himself from the Sicilians, the Africans, and the Tripolitanians.” The Kutāmiyyūn were set aside: they were about five hundred.  Then they attacked them and killed them in a place called “al-Muqass”, without saving anyone, in the vilest and most repugnant manner.  Mu’nis stayed with his army at al-Gizah for two years, and dug a moat around his camp.  Abū’l-Qāsim ibn ‘Ubayd Allah was camped at Alexandria and soon marched in the direction of al-Fayyūm.  The eunuch Mu’nis wrote to the eunuch Thamāl to take his ships to Alexandria – in fact it was known that in Alexandria there were only three thousand soldiers of Abū’l-Qāsim – to evacuate the population, and to prevent anyone from entering.  When he arrived in Alexandria with his ships, Thamāl sent around his cryer, announcing that no one could stay in Alexandria beyond the third day, on penalty of death.  The inhabitants left their furnishings and everything they possessed, closed the doors of the house, and left Alexandria as if going for a walk.  Thamāl transported them on his ships to the island known under the name of  “gizat Abi Qir”.  Many of them were drowned in the Nile while others, about two hundred thousand men, women and children, died of hunger and thirst in rural villages and at al-Fustāt.  The country was reduced to a ruin, depopulated as it was.  Thamāl acted in this way so that Abū’l-Qāsim would find no place to take refuge if he returned from al-Fayyūm.  Later the eunuch Mu’nis gathered his army and went against him while he was still at al-Fayyūm.  He routed them, killed the men and laid hands on their possessions and everything they had.  Abū’l-Qāsim ibn ‘Ubayd Allāh fled with his followers and returned to al-Qayrawān in the month of Dhū’l-hiğğa of the year 308 [of the Hegira].  After these events the eunuch Mu’nis stayed at that place for another two months, then returned to Baghdad, leaving in Egypt [as governor] Hilāl b. Badr.  As for Alexandria, the survivors of those who had fled returned, and the city returned to life.

8. King Leo contracted a serious illness, and fearing that he was to die soon, sent for the Patriarch Nicolas, who he had dismissed, reconciled with him and returned him to his office.  He then removed the patriarch Anthimus,[9] and relegated him to a monastery in Constantinople, where he remained for two years and died.  King Leo bore his illness for several months, until he died.  After him there reigned over Rum his brother Alexander.  He reigned seven years and died.  After him reigned over Rūm Constantine [10], son of Leo.  He was twenty-three years old (in another text it says “thirteen years”).  His mother Augusta administered the empire.  The King of the Bulgars sent to ask Constantine to give his sister to his son, but Constantine did not consent.  There were many wars between the king of Rūm and the king of the Bulgars.  Observing such a continuous succession of wars between the two, Nicholas, patriarch of Constantinople, had good reason to fear that they might destroy each other.  He therefore called for an officer of the king named Domitius[11] and joined him to Constantine as emperor.  He then took Domitius’ daughter and gave her to Constantine.  Constantine, Domitius and Christopher, the son of Domitius, were recognized as the three kings of the Rūm, and together administered the Empire.  Domitius gave his daughter to the king of Bulgars and the wars ceased.[12]

The reign of al-Muqtadir will be continued in the next post.

  1. [1]This should read “Abū ‘Abd Allāh…”.
  2. [2]Pirone does not explain this nickname, instead referring to the reader to another source.  I would infer that the label is obscene.
  3. [3]I.e. to Oxyrhynchus.
  4. [4]Called ‘Abd Allah a little earlier.
  5. [5]Probably “al-Ashmūnayn”, the classical Hermopolis or Mercurii oppidum, now in the district of Rawdah in the province of Assiut.
  6. [6]I.e. transport or cargo vessels, also known as markab hamla or markab hammāl.
  7. [7]Lighter vessels, seemingly used for transfer of goods and people from cargo ships to shore.
  8. [8]The Kutama tribe were Berbers, and supported the Fatimids against the Aghlabids.
  9. [9]I.e. Eutymius I.
  10. [10]Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus.
  11. [11]Pirone suggests a confusion of consonants in the Arabic for Romanus, i.e. Lecapenus.
  12. [12]In fact Peter of Bulgaria, son of Simeon of Bulgaria, married the neice of Romanus Lecapenus.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19j – Abbasids part 10

The decay of the Abbasid caliphate continues.  Egypt is almost an independent country; and the caliphate is also troubled by the Qarmatian revolt – a group of Shia fanatics who end up stealing the Black stone from Mecca. 

CALIPHATE OF AL-MUKTAFĪ BI’LLĀH (289-295/902-908).

1. The bay’ah was given to al-Muktafī, i.e. Abū Muhammad [‘Ali] b. Ahmad al-Mu’tadid, in Baghdad, on the same day that al-Mu’tadid died.  Al-Muktafi was in ar-Raqqah.  Letters and missives were sent to him to travel to Baghdad.  He went, and settled there.  His mother was Bakhtagiknah, and she was the daughter of al-Qāsim b. ‘Ubayd Allah b. Sulaymān b. Dhahb.  He named his secretary al-‘Abbās b. Al-Hasan al-Mādarāni, and restored things to order.

2. In the second year of the caliphate of al-Muktafī, in 290 [of the Hegira], the Nile of Egypt reached the height of thirteen cubits and two fingers.  The Muslims, Christians and Jews went out in procession, praying to God for rain, but the level of water remained as we mentioned, and the water continued to flow.  In the third year of al-Muktafi’s caliphate there was made patriarch of Antioch Elias.  He was a kātib.  He held office for twenty-eight years and died.  In the month of Rabī ‘al-ākhar, the town of Seleucia, in Byzantine territory, was conquered, and the loot was brought to Egypt in the month of Ragab of the year 290 [of the Hegira].  In the second year of the caliphate of al-Muktafi died Michael, patriarch of Alexandria, on Sunday, six days before the end of the month of Ramadan of the year 290 [of the Hegira], after having been patriarch for thirty-four years.  After him the see of Alexandria remained without a patriarch for four years.  In the fifth year of the caliphate of al-Muktafi, there was made patriarch of Alexandria Cristodulos, originally from Aleppo.  He was consecrated in Jerusalem on Holy Saturday, the 4th of the month of Nīsān, that is, the 7th of Barmūdah, 19th of the month of ğumādā al-ākhar.  Elias, the son of Mansūr, patriarch of Jerusalem, consecrated him and he went to Alexandria.  But the inhabitants of Alexandria said, “We will not accept him unless the prayer making him patriarch is repeated.”  The prayer of patriarchs was prayed over him on the 4th of Ramadan of the year 294 [of the Hegira].  He held office for twenty-six years and six months and died.  He was buried in the church of [Saint] Michael at Fustāt-Misr.  In the sixth year of al-Muktafi’s caliphate there was made patriarch of Jerusalem George, son of Da’ğān.  He held office for four years and eight months and died.

3. There arose in Syria a rebel called Ismā’il the Qarmatian[1].  In Damascus the governor, in the name of Khumārawayh b. Ahmad b. Tūlūn, was Tughğ b. Khaff al-Far’āni.  After several battles, Tughğ was put to flight at the hand of Ismā’īl the Qarmatian, and many of his men fell on the field.  Tughğ then wrote to Hārūn ibn Khumārawayh, informing him of the fact.  Hārūn sent a large army to him, all of which belonged to the men of the Tulūnids.  The battle between the army of Hārūn and the Qarmatian took place near a village called “Kenākir”, in the province of Damascus, in the area known as “al-Askafiyyah” in the month of Ragab of the year 289 [of the Hegira].  After a fierce battle, the Qarmatian was killed, and on both sides about twenty thousand men fell, while the others were fleeing.  The survivors of the forces of Hārūn went to Damascus and Tiberias, while those of the Qarmatian army headed to Homs.  Then Hārūn’s soldiers returned to Egypt, but part of them remained in Damascus with Badr, called al-Ğamāmi.  The Qarmatian had a brother named an-Nāgim.  He gathered the survivors of his brother’s forces, and formed an army by recruiting his own people, and began his rebellion in the area around Homs.  When al-Muktafi learned that the Egyptian hosts had been cut to pieces and decimated by the Qarmatian and that the Egyptian soldiers had been killed, he decided to occupy Egypt, and he sent Muhammad ibn Sulaymān at the head of his most illustrious commanders and with a huge army.  Al-Muktafi then went to ar-Raqqah and stopped there.  When he came to Homs, Muhammad ibn Sulayman put to flight the troops of the Qarmatian an-Nāgim and captured seven hundred of his men.  The Qarmatian escaped but he was caught in a place called “ad-Dāliyyah”.  Muhammad ibn Sulaymān brought him to al-Muktafī, at ar-Raqqah, along with the seven hundred men.  Al-Muktafi took him with him to Baghdad where, after torturing him for a long time, he had him decapitated on a scaffold, then hanged his body on a cross.  He then ordered the killing of the seven hundred men: some were decapitated on the scaffold and then crucified, others had their hands and feet cut off.

4. Al-Muktafi’s armies progressed with Muhammad ibn Sulaymān even to Damascus.  Badr al-Hammāmi, along with the soldiers who were with him, asked for a promise of safety from Muhammad ibn Sulaymān.  Muhammad ibn Sulayman then left for Palestine with the intent of invading Egypt.  Knowing that the soldiers and armies had him as their target, Hārūn ibn Khumārawayh went to a place called “al-‘Abbāsiyyah”, an Egyptian territory of the province of al-Hawf, and camped there with his commanders and many men, to wait for Muhammad ibn Sulayman and to fight against him.  Al-Muktafi’s ships followed the route to Tinnis and entered the province of Egypt.  The Greek Damian commanded the fleet.  Then some of Hārūn’s commanders[2] came to meet Damian in a village of al-Fustāt called “Tanūhah”.  The battle between the two sides was violent, but Hārūn’s officers went over to the other side and fled.

5. Shaybān ibn Muhammad b. Tūlūn, the uncle of Hārūn, attacked Hārūn ibn Khumārawayh and killed him, on Sunday 18th of the month of Safar of the year 292.  Shaybān b. Ahmad b. Tūlūn was the arbiter of the situation only for a few days.  For Hārūn’s officers wrote a letter to Muhammad ibn Sulaymān asking him to grant them protection.  Granting them what they asked, Muhammad ibn Sulaymān entered Misr without finding any opposition and no objection on Thursday, two days before the end of the month of Safar of the year 292.  Faced with this event, and seeing that Muhammad ibn Sulayman had already deployed his battle-ready soldiers in a place called “ar-Riyah” at the gate of the city of Misr, Shaybān and his brothers sought a guarantee of their lives and property .  This was granted, and Shaybān’s forces disbanded.  Muhammad ibn Sulayman ordered all the officers and secretaries of Hārūn who were with him to go to Baghdad.  They went to Baghdad, while Muhammad ibn Sulaymān stayed in Egypt for six months, and the scribes and the officers with them collected thousands of thousands of dinars.  Then he returned to Iraq, leaving Is’ān an-Nūshari in Egypt, after having stayed for six months and having collected from the provinces thousands of thousands of dinars destined for the sultan.  Al-Muktafi took Muhammad ibn Sulaymān and threw him into prison, demanding the restitution of the goods that he had collected in Egypt.

6. In Syria one of Hārūn’s officers, known under the name of Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Khalīğ, one of those who remained with Muhammad ibn Sulaymān in Syria, rebelled, and, having gathered around him a multitude of men of every sort, had set up their seat in the city of ar-Ramlah.  Learning of this, Isa an-Nūshari joined with al-Husayn ibn Ahmad al-Mādarāni, called Abū Zaynūn, and the soldiers who were in Egypt and came out together to fight against Muhammad ibn Ali al-Khaliğ.  When they learned that he had a large number of men with him, they returned, together with the officers, to al-Fustāt.  From here they went down to al-Gizah, broke the two bridges then gave them to the flames, so that Muhammad ibn Ali al-Khalīğ could not reach them, and continued marching about, now to Alexandria, now to upper Egypt.  So the city of al-Fustāt remained without authority and without anyone [as governor].  The citizens protected themselves, and took care of each other for five days.

7. Muhammad ibn [Ali] al-Khalīg entered Misr on a Thursday, fourteen days before the end of the month of Dhū’l-qa’da of the year 292.  He stayed there for eight months, accumulating riches and strengthening his position.  Then the armies of al-Muktafī arrived, under the command of his freedman Fātik, and a group of officers.  Muhammad ibn Ali al-Khalīg came out against him, retreated on al-Fustāt with his men and engaged in a violent battle.  Muhammad ibn Ali was beaten and succeeded in returning to al-Fustāt, where he hid himself.  Fātik made his entry into al-Fustāt together with his officers.  The man with whom Muhammad bin Ali al-Khalīg was hiding went to Isā an-Nūshari and told him that he was with him.  He was arrested – it was the month of Rağab of the year 293 [of the Hegira] – and he carried him with him back to Irāq together with his men, his family, his officers and scribes, and those who had helped him.

8. Al-Muktafi died on Sunday 13th of the month of Dhū’l-qa’da of the year 295 [of the Hegira].  His caliphate lasted six years, nine months and two days.  His influential advisers and administrators of his affairs were his minister al-‘Abbās ibn al-Husayn and his freeman Fātik.

  1. [1]From what follows, the name of this rebel was actually Abū’l-Qāsim, as is clear from the battle in which Tughğ was defeated.  Eutychius has confused him with Ismā’īl, son of the 6th Imam Ga’far as-Sādiq (d. 765), from whom the Ismailites take their name.  The latter are easy to confuse with the Qarmatians. (Pirone).  The “Qarmata” or “Qarmatians” or “Qaramita” were a Shia group best known for taking the black stone from Mecca.
  2. [2]Perhaps “officers” would be a better word?

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19i – Abbasids part 9

The events of the Abbasid caliphs continue.  This reign is interesting for a curious storm that affected Egypt in 284 AH / 897 AD.

CALIPHATE OF AL-MU`TADID (279-289/892-902).

1. The bay’ah was given to al-Mu’tadid bi’llāh Abū’l-‘Abbās, i.e. Ahmad b. Abū Ahmad al-Muwaffaq bi’llāh b. Ga’far al-Mutawakkil ‘alā’llāh – his mother was an umm walad named Sirār.  The bay’ah was given to him on the same day that al-Mu’tamid died, eleven days before the end of the month of Rağab of the year 279 [of the Hegira].  The revolts ceased, the countries returned to order, the wars stopped, each rebel accepted peace, and prices fell sharply.

2. Al-Mu’tadid sent to ask Khumārawayh b. Ahmad b. Tūlūn to give him his daughter in marriage.  Khumārawayh consented, and sent her with great riches, slaves, and maidservants.  They made peace and order was restored.  Khumārawayh b. Ahmad b. Tūlūn left Egypt for Syria and stopped at Damascus.  He had built, outside Damascus, below the dayr Murrān, on the “Thawrah” River, a palace that used to be his residence.  Khumārawayh was killed in this palace that he built, near Damascus, on Sunday night, three days before the end of the month of dhū’l-qa’da of the year 282 [of the Hegira].  His servants, Zāhir, Sābūr, Lu’lu ‘, Natīf, Shafi` ash-Sharābi and Ghanā’im, were charged with his killing.  These servants were then killed and their heads were taken to Egypt, while their bodies were crucified at Damascus.  Khumārawayh was taken in a coffin from Damascus to Egypt, and was buried on mount al-Muqattam.  Egypt was shaken by violent riots because of Khumārawayh and his death.

3. After him there was appointed governor of Egypt Gaysh ibn Khumārawayh.  Gaysh returned from Damascus to Egypt and stayed there for eight months. Then there were serious dissensions between him and the commanders.  They rose up against him and killed him.  His brother Hārūn ibn Khumārawayh took his place, at the age of ten years, in the month of rağab of the year 283 [of the Hegira].

4. Al-Mu’tadid wrote a letter to Hārūn b. Khumārawayh, in which he entrusted him with the rule of Egypt.  Hārūn was ten years old and his regent was Abū Ga’far b. Muhammad b. Abā at-Turki.

5.  On the night of Thursday, two days before the end of the month of Rabī’al-awwal of the year 284 [of the Hegira], a strange phenomenon happened in Egypt.  The Christians were intent on celebrating the feast of the Ascension into heaven of our Lord Christ, when wild and violent winds blasted them, from dinner time until midnight.  At midnight, then, there came such a thick darkness that nobody could see their fingers even if they were in their eyes.  Then the harsh winds of earlier returned, taking off the roofs of many houses.  On the heads of people, gathered in their homes, there was a rain of red sand.  At the four corners of the heavens there were flaming columns of fire.  This lasted until dawn.  Then the wind calmed a little and the sky became intensely red, like a flame of fire, with a cold wind.  The earth, the mountains, the trees, the people and their clothes, and all that they could see, looked red because of the intensity of the red sky.  The red [sky] lasted for two hours, then turned yellow until noon.  Then the yellow vanished and the sky became black all day and until noon the day after, before dissolving.  The sun did not appear for a day and a half, from when the winds began to blow, until the black clouds broke.

6. On the morning of Wednesday, 9th of the month of Dhū’l-qa’da of the year 288, there was also, in Egypt, from midnight to dawn, a violent movement of the stars, which the vulgar called falling stars.  The sky was full of such stars coming down from east, west, south and north.  No one could watch the heavens because of the many falling stars.[1] In the first year of the caliphate of al-Mu’tadid, there became patriarch of Antioch Simeon, son of Zarnāq. He held office for twelve years and died.

7. As for Leo, king of the Rūm, his wife died without having children.  He decided to remarry, but the Patriarch of Constantinople, Nicolas, forbade him, saying, “You are not allowed to marry, because you have been consecrated as an anagnoste [= a reader] and you have to fulfill the priestly prayer. If you marry, you will not be allowed to come to the altar.”  King Leo replied: “I decided to marry only in order to have a son who can inherit the kingdom after me.” But the patriarch did not allow him to marry.  Then King Leo wrote to the patriarch of Rome, to Michael, the patriarch of Alexandria, to Elijah, son of Mansur, patriarch of Jerusalem, and to Simeon son of Zarnach, patriarch of Antioch, asking them to go to him in order to examine whether he was allowed to get married or not.  None of them could go in person to the king, but each one sent their own messenger.  The bishops gathered together with the messengers at Constantinople to examine the case of the king and pronounced in favour of his marriage.  King Leo married and had a son called Constantine.  Nicholas was removed from his office and Anthimus was made patriarch of Constantinople.

8. Al-Mu’tadid bi’llāh died on Sunday, nine days before the end of the month of al-ākkar of the year 289.  His caliphate lasted seven years, nine months and two days.  He died at the age of forty-seven.  The administrators of his property were the freedman Badr and `Ubayd Allah b. Sulaymān, who was succeeded in the place that he occupied by his son al-Qasim b. ‘Ubayd Allah (204). Al-Mu’tadid was handsome in his face and body, and he spent much time accumulating riches.

  1. [1]Does he perhaps mean that astronomy became impossible?  There is no explanation of these interesting events in the notes of the Italian.  I find discussion of this, however, in Richard B. Stothers, “Cloudy and clear stratospheres before A.D. 1000 inferred from written sources“, Journal of Geophysical Research 107 (2002), online here: “2.14. A.D. 897 [26] Red skies in Egypt made the outdoor surroundings appear red (Eutychius of Alexandria, Annals, Migne, PG, 111, 1144; al-Tabari, Annals, A.H. 284; Elias of Nisibis, Chronicle, p. 92, Brooks). This event, which occurred only on 5 May and only near Alexandria, was apparently caused by a red sandstorm, as mentioned by the chroniclers.”.