Oriental Institute publications free online

While reading awilum.com, I discovered that the Oriental Institute in Chicago has decided that it “is committed to digitizing all of its publications and making them available online, without charge.”  This electronic publication programme makes material available in PDF.  A full list is available at the above link.  This is marvellous news — well done the OI! 


Mirror of the old v2 CCEL 38-vol. collection of the fathers

I suspect that I am not the only person who has found the old version 2 layout of the 38-volume Ante-Nicene, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers collection at CCEL rather easier to use than the new, improved, but very much more awkward version 3?

I today found that the v2 version has vanished from CCEL.  Fortunately I had a mirror of it, and I have uploaded it to


I hope it is useful.  It’s all public domain, so use as you will.  A cdrom of it, plus the additional patristic translations which I have online, is also available:



How the Chronicle of Eusebius was rediscovered

Since 1998 Dr. Armenuhi Drost-Abgarjan has been working on a new edition of the Armenian text of Eusebius Chronicle, with German translation *. She kindly sent me an off-print of an article about this. It looks as if the prefaces of both the Latin edition of Petermann (1875-6) and the German one of Karst (1911) are mistaken about a lot of things to do with the manuscripts.

The manuscript of this work was discovered in 1782 in the Eastern Armenian town of Šamaxi by a certain George Dpir Ter Yovhannisean (1737-1811), who was acting as liason man between the Armenian Patriarchate in Constantinople and the exiled Armenian Mechitarist monks in Venice. This is the ‘Lector George’ of Petermann.

It seems that while staying in the town, after a hearty meal at which the Madras wine flowed freely, he got up in the night feeling thirsty and went in search of the water jug. He found it, and found that a manuscript with a strong leather binding was being used as the lid. This was the ms. of the Chronicle, and has been dated in the past to the 12th century.

The ms. then went to Jerusalem; Constantinople; and then to the library of the monastery at Echmiadzin. After the Soviets took over Armenia, mss. were removed from monasteries to central libraries, and in 1939 the ms. was in Yerevan, in the Matenadaran manuscript institute, under the shelfmark Codex Maten. 1904.

In 1793 Dpir copied this manuscript himself, and sent his copy to the Mechitarists. It arrived at Christmas 1794, and is no. 931 in their library.

A further copy exists, made in Tokat in 1696, which is now in Venice as codex no. 302. The sigla in the editions, unfortunately, reflect confusion about what mss. exist.

Adolf von Harnack arranged for a photographic copy to be made of the original ms. by his pupil, Karapet Ter-Mekerttschian, who had discovered and published Irenaeus Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching. This copy has been in Berlin, in the “Archiv der Berliner Akademie der Wissenschaften” for almost a century, and was used by Karst. However the differences between this and the only published edition, that of Aucher, are very small.

Dr. Drost-Abgarjan has located a florilegium on paper (Codex Maten. 2679, s.IX) containing extracts from many historical works, which includes portions of the Chronicle. This will allow some lacunae to be filled up. She has also located various quotations in later Armenian authors, which will be used for the new edition. The new material will be published first; then the new edition.

* Armenuhi Drost-Abgarjan, Ein neuer Fund zur armenischen Version der Eusebios-Chronik, in “Julius Africanus und die christliche Weltchronistik” (Ed. Wallraff) (2006) pp.255-262. I hope to translate this and place it online.


Preparing for the Eusebius Chronicle translation

I have now entered both Petermann’s Latin and Karst’s German translation into a database, split into sentences and lined up the two in parallel columns.  It looks as if a copy of Aucher will be with me in a week or so, but I see no way to make much use of it.

I need to revise the software to make it possible for us to enter an English translation, and then we will be underway.  I will post in various groups once the first chunk becomes available, probably this weekend.


Forthcoming English translation of Poggio Bracciolini’s letters

We all owe a great debt to Poggio Bracciolini, who in the early 15th century hunted down and recovered so many classical texts. His letters have never been published in English, aside from an unsatisfactory collection to his friend Niccolo Niccoli, whose massive collection of Greek and Latin manuscripts forms the kernel of the Biblioteca Mediceo-Laurenziana in Florence.

Harvard University Press have launched a series modelled on the Loeb Classical Library for renaissance writers. Details about it are here.

UPDATE (2012): Updated link for the I Tatti library here.


Marutha of Maiperqat, On the Council of Nicaea

I recently located an unpublished translation, made probably in the 1850’s, of this work.  This is now online here. The translation is public domain so copy freely and put online elsewhere, etc.  I hope to get the Syriac online if I ever get 5 minutes to spare!

I have some doubts that this is really by Marutha.  The text contains almost nothing about the deliberations, and everything in it could be sourced from Eusebius.  The extra details all feel like fictional embellishments, and there are many anachronisms in it. 

The manuscript has slumbered in Yale University for 150 years.  The notes on it by AHW are by Austen H. Wright of the American Mission at Urmia in the 1850’s.  He was one of the missionaries who set up a press there and printed the Syriac Peshitta Old Testament in 1851.


Cato the heavyweight

In Petermann’s Latin translation of the Armenian version of Eusebius’ Chronicle one finds reference to “Cato Porkius”.  Somehow I had always thought of him as a well-built man…

Porkius is just Porcius — we would say Marcus Porcius Cato–, and it indicates the hard-sound that ‘c’ had in antiquity.  In medieval times the ‘c’ sound would alternate with ‘t’; so we find manuscripts of Tertullian’s De patientia where it reads De patiencia, which gives our own word ‘patience’.


British Library Readers Group

I’ve always felt that the BL readers needed a voice in its running, and didn’t get one.  So I was delighted today to discover that a British Library Readers Group was set up in January.  This followed the announcement that the government was considering chopping 7% off the £100m budget.

The British Library Readers Group is made up of academics, students, journalists, independent scholars, researchers and writers who are readers at the British Library. We have come together to meet one another and to represent readers to the administration and trustees of the British Library.

Our aim is to seek constructive solutions to issues that have an impact upon our working lives in the library.

Please publicise it in mailing lists.  No organisation should be allowed to operate without considering the wishes of those who use it.


UK MLA – a white knight for the library user?

Today I discovered that there is a body in the UK called the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.  The point of it is somewhat unclear, but it looks as if it might have some input to government policy on how the UK library service is run.

Two things have bothered me for some time about this.  Firstly the cost of interlibrary loans is now so great that a reading list of 20 items costs around $180.  Of course this means that you can’t pursue a course of study, at that price.  Secondly, as databases of journals like JSTOR become the usual way to consult the academic literature, and as outsiders have no access to these, it’s getting more difficult for non-professionals to compete.

What to do?  Well, I’ve found that John Dolan is ‘head of library policy’ and written to him.  I’ve also written to David Dawson, ‘Senior policy adviser Digital Futures’ and pointed out the problem that the British Library won’t digitise its medieval manuscripts, or let anyone else do so.

It will be interesting to see what response comes back. Someone must be interested in these issues besides me.

Postscript: to his credit David Dawson got back to me very quickly with the following epistle:

The British Library is very active in digitising its collections, but these are obviously huge in scale and scope. I visited your site, and can understand your desire to see the relevant manuscripts digitised.

The BL have a set of standards for the way in which they digitise documents, to ensure that this is done once, and at high quality. I cannot comment on the figures that they gave you, but the BL is following best practice in digitisation.

They are in the process of making large numbers of resources available online – recent projects include millions of pages of newspapers, substantial holdings from the Sound Archive and the Microsoft digitisation project is under way.

‘Best practice in digitisation’… or gold-plated?  Nothing online, tho, and no prospect of it.  This is rather disappointing.

Postscript (21st May): John Dolan has written back to me, and it sounds as if he is indeed in the processing of looking at some of these issues. I will write more on this when I have read his reply.