The Babylonica of Iamblichus the Syrian

The 1853 Manual of Greek literature by Charles Anthon may be antiquated, and its opening portions discursive to the point of madness, but it still has use.  Indeed I don’t quite know where else one might go for a survey of Greek literature in the Roman period and after.

I picked it up casually last night, to see if he had anything to say about astrological texts — not much — and found myself reading a section on Greek novels.  On p.488 I found the following:

V. Subsequently Iamblichus, the Syrian, who lived in the time of the Emperor Trajan, wrote his Babylonica (Babulwni/ka). It contained the story of two lovers, Sinonis and Rhodanes, and was in thirty-nine books, according to Suidas; but Photius, who gives an epitome of the work, mentions only seventeen. A perfect copy of the work in MS. existed down to the year 1671, when it was destroyed by fire. A few fragments only are still extant, and a new one of some length has recently been discovered by Mai (Nov. Collect. Script. Vet., vol. ii., p. 349, seqq.) The epitome of Photius and the fragments are given in Passow’s Corpus Eroticorum, vol. i.

I confess that I had never heard of this text before, and it is a shame that it should make it all the way to 1671 only to perish then.

The Corpus scriptorum eroticorum graecorum is a series new to me.  Volume 1, from 1824, is here.  On p.iii we learn that the sole manuscript was in the library of the Escorial in Spain, and destroyed in the fire of 1671.  But the edition is of no great value, I suspect.

Photius’ summary can be found here, in the Bibliotheca codex 94. 


2 thoughts on “The Babylonica of Iamblichus the Syrian

  1. The Babyloniaca (or rather, its fragments) were published by Habrich in 1960 under the title of “Iamblichi Babyloniacorum reliquiae”. I’m sure it helps 🙂

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