Michael the Syrian, book 12, chapter 1 — have a quick translation!

Today is pretty much done, but since I read the first chapter of book 12 of Michael the Syrian, perhaps I could give a quick translation of it here.

Book 12.

With the aid of the divine power that perfected the twelve holy apostles, we shall commence the twelfth book of the chronicle, which begins in the year 1088 of the Greeks, which is the year 157 of the empire of the Arabs, who are the Taiyaye, the year 6260 from Adam, i.e. since the beginning of the world, and the year 758 from our Lord.

Chapter 1. — Of the era from the beginning of the reign of Leo, (emperor) of the Romans, and of Mahdi, (king) of the Taiyaye, when the holy patriarch and martyr Mar Georgius came out of prison.

In the year 1088 Leo son of Constantine began to reign over the Romans.  In the same year, 25 days later, Mahdi, son of Abu Jafar, began to reign over the Taiyaye.  Both set free all the prisoners who had been imprisoned by their fathers.

Mahdi opened the treasuries of his father and gave away his riches, as with the van, not only to his soldiers but also to women, his concubines; because he was debauched and addicted to pleasures.  He was also interested in magic, divination, sortileges, and he collected books of magic and divination.  This is why Leo, emperor of the Romans, sent him the book entitled Janes and Jambres, which contains all the magic of the Egyptians, and all that they did when they encountered Moses.

In the year 1090 Mahdi went to Aleppo, and the Tanoukaye came out to meet him; [479] they lived in tents in the surroundings of Aleppo.  He saw that they were mounted on Arab horses, and were richly dressed.  Then someone said to him, “All these people are Christians.”  He was inflamed with rage and ordered them to become Moslems.  He forced them to do this by tortures, and the men apostasised, to the number of five thousand; the women were saved and to the present day are found in the churches of the west.  A venerable man among them, named Leith, suffered martyrdom.

Mahdi invaded the territory of the Romans and fixed his camp on the river Pyramus, in the region of the town of Arabissus.

He sent his son Haroun to ransack Beit Roumaye; himself he captured Syria and returned to Jerusalem to pray; his son, after capturing a fortress called Semalus, finished pillaging and moved off.

In the year 1092 of the Greeks, the Taiyaye penetrated into the region of Ephesus and made captive around seven thousand men.  The emperor Leo, on his side, sent an army which took into captivity the orthodox Syrians and settled them in Thrace.

One of the Chalcedonian writers says that this emperor Leo detested images and wouldn’t allow anyone to venerate them, and that he adhered to the Orthodox, like his father.

In the year 1092 Leo died, and his son Constantine [Porphyrogentius] began to reign.  Since he was a child of 12, his mother Irene governed and was proclaimed as ruler with him.

In the year 1094 Mahdi sent his son [480] Haroun, with two generals, into the land of the Romans.  `Adb el-Malik beseiged Nacolaea; his army was shattered in pieces and he returned covered in shame.  Bournike gave battle and killed ten thousand Romans.  Haroun advanced towards the imperial city.  The Romans made use of a ruse, and encircled the Taiyaye near the river Sangarius between the mountain on one side and the sea on the other.  The Taiyaye were in great straits.  They asked for peace; Irene, following the feminine spirit, agreed.  A truce of three years was made, and the Taiyaye emerged from their difficulty.

In the following year `Ali built the town of Hadeth.

In the year 1095, Mahdi died.  His son Mousa [began to reign], for two years.

In the year 1097 the Romans advanced with a considerable army and reached the town of Hadeth, which had been newly built by the Taiyaye, on the frontier.  The inhabitants fled and it was deserted.  The Romans then destroyed the walls completely and demolished all that had been constructed.

In the month of Tammuz [July] Mousa, [king] of the Taiyaye died; and after him reigned his brother Haroun, surnamed Rashid [=the Just, a name given by his father].

At the time when Mahdi began to reign over the Taiyaye, he sent a man named Mohtasib to destroy the churches which had been built in the times of the Taiyaye, and he ordered that the Christian slaves should be sold.  Many churches were demolished, and the slaves fled.

The church of the Chalcedonians at Aleppo was destroyed.

He also stirred up a persecution against the Manichaeans everywhere.  Many of the Taiyaye were convinced of this heresy and were put to death because they would not renounce it.

A place called Padana Rabta was destroyed, which was quite filled with Manichaeans.  Some Christians were arrested because they were unjustly accused of being of this heresy.  A Persian also denounced some women of the family of the Goumaye, and they were arrested.  The motive (for this) of this Persian was that they had not given him lodging in their house situated in the town of Hinan.  He was annoyed at this, and when he saw at Baghdad [479] that (a persecution) was being stirred up against the Manichaeans, he denounced the people of the Goumaye as being Manichaeans.  Eight of the principal men among them were seized and thrown in prison.  After many torments, three died in prison and the other five were delivered and came out, thanks to the Saviour who saves.

[A long passage on a locust plague in 1095 follows]

After nine years of the imprisonment of the patriarch Georgius at Baghdad, Mahdi, son of Abu Jafar, began to reign and released the prisoners.  The patriarch came out with them.  Mahdi banned him from exercising the patriarchate, and from calling himself Patriarch.  The blessed man went back to Tikrit, and was received there like an angel of God.  He was received the same way in going through Mosul and all the towns of Jezira [=Iraq], and was treated everywhere with honour.  He came to Antioch.  There he ordained ten bishops in that year; he deposed those of David, and created others in their place.  However he left some of them, making the concessions which the situation of the moment demanded.

He excommunicated and deposed Plotinus, who had been installed by Sandalaya, and made Constantinus return to Samosata.  Some time later, when Constantinus died, the inhabitants of Samosata asked him for Plotinus [479], and he sent him back to them.

After the patriarch had spent two years in travelling around and supporting the churches, some calumniators accused him to `Ali, emir of Jezira, of using the orders of the king to clean his feet.  Annoyed, (`Ali) had him brought from Harran to Callinice.  Before he appeared in the presence of the emir, Theodosius, the bishop whom Sandalaya had deposed, went in and calmed the heat and anger of the emir.  He demonstrated to him that the patriarch had been accused falsely.  When the blessed man went in, and when the emir set forth the accusations against him, he made his apology admirably, and was very well received, above all because Theodosius who interpreted his words into Arabic, and who was well thought of by the emir, made a eulogy of the patriarch, saying that he was a good and holy man and that those who accused him of having imposed charges and tributes on the church were not truthful.  The emir was appeased by this acceptable discourse, and the patriarch retired victorious, and after that he governed the church of God without fear until the end of his life.

At Alexandria the patriarch was Maiana for 9 years; then Iwannis [=John].

In the year 1095 the Edessans fell out with Zacharias their metropolitan for various reasons, but principally because they told him to bring back his brother Simeon, because of his bad conduct, and because he never did anything.  This is why the patriarch Georgius ordered him to leave the town, and he was no longer received there.

 And so on it goes.


2 thoughts on “Michael the Syrian, book 12, chapter 1 — have a quick translation!

  1. This seems to be a reasonably good translation, and if you have used google to do it, a full translation may not be very daunting after all.

  2. Actually I did it myself, rather than using Google; I haven’t yet created an electronic French text of any of it. But I think a machine-translator would find it very easy.

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