More on Michael the Syrian and Phlegon

Today I was able to see the complete edition of Michael the Syrian by J.B.Chabot at Cambridge University Library.  It consists of 4 volumes.  There is an introductory volume, containing an introduction about Michael and his works, and the index for the whole Chronicle.  This is labelled volume 1; confusingly so is the next volume, which contains the first part of the Chronicle!

Each volume contains the French translation at the front, and the Syriac text at the back.  The Syriac is in what looks like a handwritten, unvocalised, and very small Serto script.  The layout is as per the manuscript — indeed it looks like a copy of the manuscript — and the tables are in their proper places.

Numerals in square brackets in the French translation indicate the page number in the Syriac.  Phlegon is on pp.91-90, in the right-hand column (for the text is in 2-3 columns most of the time, each giving a separate narrative and not linking up; very peculiar!).

Given my limited Syriac, I was highly delighted to locate the correct column.  This I did by looking in the French to see what came immediately after the page break, and then if it was a proper name, looking for that soon after the break in the Syriac. 

I wasn’t sure how Phlegon would be represented.  The French read “Phlegon, philosophe profane” (=’Phlegon, a pagan philosopher’).  To my great joy I found PLGWN (the letter waw can mean ‘o’); and the next word turned out to be HKIM, i.e. hakīm, which is the Syriac for ‘learned man’ (and indeed the same word in Arabic means the same; sitt hakim=lady doctor).  The next word began with BR.., which I vaguely remember meant ‘pagan’.  Not bad for someone who hasn’t looked at Syriac for 3 months!

I hope to transcribe and translate exactly that portion of the Syriac soon, and we can have it exactly online.  Blessed be the Rare Books people at CUL, they did me a photocopy of the page there and then for me!


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