The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – the remainder of chapter 8.

(Continuing our translation from the Italian, itself a very scarce book):

6.  From the time when the star appeared to the Magi, to the time when they knelt before Christ, our Lord, and then returned to their country, was two years.  It was told in a dream to Joseph, Mary’s husband, to take the child and his mother and escape into Egypt.  Joseph did as he was told.  Herod saw that the Magi were slow to return to him, and decided that they were mocking him.  So he fell into a rage and ordered that all the boys in Bethlehem aged two years and under should be killed.  So they slew all the children without sparing even one.  But God poured out his anger and struck Herod with a grave illness.  The pain did not leave him until he died, having reigned thirty-seven years.  He left four children.  The first was called Arshīlāwus, the second Hīrūdus, the third Fīlippus and the fourth Usāniyūs (17).   They divided the kingdom between them, and each took a quarter of Judaea.  Bethlehem and Bayt al-Maqdis belonged to Archelaus.

When Joseph heard that Herod was dead, he left Egypt, together with Christ, our Lord, and his mother.  Christ, our Lord, was four years old.  Joseph was afraid to dwell in Bethlehem because of Archelaus, and went to live in Nazareth (18).  So Christ was called a Nazarene.  In the eighth year of Archelaus, Christ, our Lord, was twelve years old, and sat in the temple among the doctors [of the law] and learned and taught.

7.  Joseph, who raised the messiah, died (19).  Archelaus also died, after a reign of nine years, leaving no-one to inherit the kingdom.  Caesar Augustus also died, having reigned fifty-six years and six months.  After him reigned over Rome his son Tiberius Caesar.  Christ, our Lord, was then fifteen.  The king Tiberius had a friend named Pilate, a native of an island in the sea near Rome.  This island was called Buntah, so he was called Bīlātus al-Buntī (20).  [Tiberius] entrusted him with the government of Judaea in place of Archelaus.  In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar appeared John the son of Zechariah, called the Baptist, who baptised the Jews in the Jordan for the forgiveness of their sins.  Christ, our Lord, presented himself to John and John baptised him in the Jordan.  Christ, our Lord, was then thirty.  Herod, son of Herod, son of Antipater, had put aside his wife, named Aritā (22), daughter of the king of the Arabs (in another text it says “the Ghawr”), and took the wife of his brother Philip instead, even during his lifetime, by force.  The woman’s name was Herodias.  But John said, “It is not lawful to take your brother’s wife while he is still alive.” (22)  So he commanded him to be  thrown in jail.  Then it happened that Herod gave a banquet for his friends, where they ate and drank.  The daughter of Herodias danced in the middle of the room.  He liked it a lot and said, “Ask of me whatever you like.” (23)  And she asked him to give her on a platter the head of John the Baptist.  So he ordered John to be beheaded and handed her his head.  As for his wife Aritā, she went to her father.  He was angry, gathered his men, and went out against Herod who fought back, killing many men and making many others prisoner and burning their villages.  This happened in the eighteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar.

8.  In the twenty-ninth year of the reign of Herod, son of Herod, son of Antipater, Christ, our Lord, was crucified.  This was on Friday, March 23, i.e. 27 Baramhāt.  Christ, our Lord, was celebrating the passover with his disciples on the Friday night, the day of Easter.  One of his disciples, named Judas Iscariot, went to the Jews and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?” (24) They gave him thirty dirhams.  He then went with them in the night to the place where [Christ] was with his disciples.  They took him, and carried him to the priests Annas and Caiaphas, their leaders, who disputed with him.  The next day they handed him over to the governor, Pontius Pilate.  But Pilate found no charge against him, and said to them, “You say that this man is the king of the Jews.”  They answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”  He replied, “What shall I do with him?”  They told him, “Crucify him, because he has profaned our religion, has dissolved our law, and proclaimed himself son of God.” (25)  Pilate was saddened and washed his hands with water, declaring himself innocent of his blood.  But the Jews invoked his blood on them and their children.  Then [Pilate] ordered him to be crucified, and crucified with him were two robbers, one on his right and one on his left, at the sixth hour of Friday.  There was a great darkness, or night, all over the earth.  The sun was darkened and the stars appeared and the rocks were opened and many of the dead rose from their graves.  Christ, our Lord, died on the cross; they opened his side with a spear and blood and water gushed out.

9.  After his death, a man named Joseph went to Pilate and asked for his body.  He was taken down from the cross, wrapped in a shroud, and buried in a new tomb that Joseph had had dug for himself, and he blocked the door with a stone boulder.  The next day the Jews stood before Pilate and said, “We have good reason to fear that his disciples may come at night and take him away and tell people that he is risen.  Would you order that the stone at the entrance to the sepulchre be sealed.”  But Pilate replied, “Go and do whatever you like.” (26)  So they got some guards and placed them to guard the tomb, then they sealed the stone and left.  At midnight on Sunday some women came, bringing spices and incense to fumigate the tomb.  They found before them an angel descended from heaven, who had rolled the stone away from the entrance of the tomb, and was sitting on it.  [The angel] said to them, “Fear not; he is risen.  Tell his disciples to go to Galillee, for there they will meet him.” (27)  The women came to the disciples and told them what they had heard from the angel.  The guards who were responsible for monitoring the tomb fell into a deep sleep, like that of the dead, when they saw the angel and what he had done.  Then they arose and told the Jews what had happened.  [The Jews] tried to bribe them, saying, “Tell anyone who asks, ‘His disciples took him away.'” (28)  As for the disciples, they went to Galillee, and there they met Christ, our Lord.  He blessed them, and sent them into all the world, to preach to the nations faith in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

10.  Forty days later, he ascended into heaven.  He was thirty-three.  Ten days later, while the disciples were gathered in the upper room of Zion (29), the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke in every language.  The disciples used to go every day to the tomb and the place of crucifixion.  When the Jews say what the disciples did, they said, “This place will not stay hidden [long] and they will certainly erect a building.  Cover it with earth, so that nobody can see it and not a trace remains.  If the people can actually see the empty tomb, they will believe and embrace the faith [of the disciples], making vain our religion.” (30) So they covered the  place with earth and turned it into a garbage dump.

(A few of the notes may be useful:)

17.  Archelaus, Herod Antipas, Philip are the first three; is Lysanias perhaps the fourth?
20.  Pilate belonged to the gens of the Pontii.  Ponza is an island in the Tyrrhennian sea.
21.   Aretas was the father’s name, in fact; in this case it means the Nabatean king Aretas IV.


Cassiodorus “Chronicle” now online in English

Bouke Procee has kindly sent me a copy of his translation of this 6th century chronicle (CPL 2269), and made it public domain so that we can all use it.  A text is also included.  Here it is:

Much of the material is reused from earlier Chronicles; the impact of Jerome’s Chronicle is obvious here, as in every subsequent chronicle.  But the most interesting material is from his own time – the account of the games given in Rome in 519 AD by Eutharic, and the statement that the audience were now quite unaccustomed to such shows.

It is excellent to have such texts accessible in English.  The task of translating most of the entries is a humdrum one, which is perhaps often shirked on the basis that most of those interested can just as well read it in Latin.  But it is far easier still for many people to skim down the text in a translation, and, of course, for Google to find it.  I think we can all be grateful to Mr Procee for taking this one on.  It just makes life easier.


The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 8, continued

The story continues… (and, accidentally, rather seasonably!)

2.  From the reign of Alexander to the end of the reign of Cleopatra there were 289 years.  While Caesar Augustus was returning to Rome from Egypt, Herod met him a second time, in ar-Ramlah (11), bringing many gifts.  Caesar Augustus gave him power over the whole territory of Judah, and its provinces, and over Galilee, placing on his head the royal crown.  Learning that Herod was in the Bayt al-Maqdis as king, the Jews refused to recognise him as their king.  So Herod came upon them and made great slaughter; he threw down the wall of the city and the temple, and took the books that Ezra had rewritten, with their lineages, and had them burned, so that no-one would know any longer from which tribe he originated or who his ancestors were (12).  Then he took all the furnishings and utensils of the priests, and sold them, and the vestments of the priests and placed his seal on them.  Then he started to sell the office of priest, so that, if anyone wanted to become a priest, he demanded a lot of money from them before the charge could be conferred upon them.  He administered the kingdom with cruelty and despotism.

3.  In the 40th year of his reign, Caesar Augustus issued an edict which ordered that the name of every man in his kingdom throughout the world should be registered, together with his wife.  This was an ancient custom, and he also took a census of the population of his kingdom.  So he sent his general, named Quirinius, to undertake the census of the population of Syria and Judaea (13).  In the 41st year of his reign there was announced, to the Lady Mary the virgin, pure and immaculate, [the nativity] of Christ, our Lord.  In the 42nd year of the reign of Caesar Augustus and the 33rd year of the reign of Herod, son of Antipater, in the land of Syria [in another text “of Israel”], was born Christ, our Lord, on the 25th December, or the 29th Kīhak.

 4.  From the end of the reign of Cleopatra, to the birth of Christ, our Lord, had passed 30 years; from the reign of Alexander to the birth of Christ, our Lord, 319 years; from the deportation by Bakhtanassar of the Jews to Bābil, to the birth of Christ, our Lord, 582 years; from the reign of David to the birth of Christ, our Lord,  1059 years; from the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt to the birth of Christ, our Lord, 1665 years; from Abraham to the birth of Christ, our Lord, 2172 years; from Fāliq to the birth of Christ, our Lord, 2713 years; from the flood to the birth of Christ, our Lord, 3244 years; from Adam to the birth of Christ, our Lord, 5500 years.

5.  In the 44th year of the reign of Caesar Augustus and the 35th of the reign of Herod, son of Antipater, there came from the east into the land of Judah three magi, astrologers, who asked where the great king had been born. Herod felt afraid, and the whole land of Judah was troubled.  Herod summoned the Magi, and asked them about what they had said.  They answered, “We saw a great star in the east, and we have learned that a great king was born.  We therefore come to worship him.  The star has gone before us and walked with us always, but just as we arrived here we lost sight of it.”  Herod then questioned the Jews, asking, “Where will the messiah be born?”  They told him, “In Bethlehem, of Judah.” (14)  Then Herod summoned the Magi secretly and sent word to them asking in what place and time the star had appeared to them.  They answered, “It appeared in the east, two years ago.” (15)  Then he said to them, “Go and look for this newborn king.  When you have found him, worship him, and then come back to me to let me know, so that I may go to worship him.” (16)  The Magi left Herod, and the star appeared and went before them until they came to Bethlehem, the place where Christ our Lord was, with the Lady Mart-Maryam, his mother.  They worshiped him, and offered him gifts of gold, myrrh and incense.  They were then told in a dream to return to their country by another path, and not to return to Herod.

To be continued…


Anthony Alcock : the “Sayings of the Fathers”, from Coptic

Anthony Alcock has continued his excellent translations of Coptic texts, which he continues to make available online.  A few days ago he kindly sent me the first two parts (of four) of a translation of the Apophthegmata Patrum – The Sayings of the Fathers, so that they could be available online.  Here they are:

He also asks for a little help here.  Does anyone have access to a copy in PDF of the Arabic version of this text, which was published by J.-M. Sauget, Une traduction arabe de la collection d’Apophthegmata Patrum de ‘Enaniso’, CSCO, Subsidia 78 (1987)? * If you do, would you contact me? (UPDATE: I now have this).

Coptic texts are hard for anybody but specialists to access.  Even translations, when made, tend to appear offline only, and in obscure journals.  Dr Alcock is doing us all a favour in making this material accessible online.  Thank you, sir.

Update: Third part added!
Update: Fourth part added!
Update: The Sauget volume is in fact a study, rather than a copy of the Arabic text itself.


And the tide rushes in: now self-service photography arrives at the British Library

About ten years ago, when digital cameras had appeared, I went down to the British Library and asked if I could use mine to photograph manuscript items.  The female librarian to whom I spoke looked very angry and rudely and indignantly refused.  I remember thinking that the response was more or less as if I had casually asked for the loan of her daughter for the night. 

Not long afterwards mobile phones acquired digital cameras.  But still the hard-faced refusal went on.  I commented, in these pages, on this nonsense.  Only last year I went to examine Ms. BL addit. 12150, but had to resort to verbally describing various paragraphing marks, because I had no means to take a snap of the pages.

But the tide has been with us, and finally sense has prevailed.  Yesterday I learned via a correspondent of an update to the British Library policies, here.

Self-service photography

From 5 January 2015 you will be able to photograph collection items using compact cameras, tablets and mobile phones in the following Reading Rooms:

  • Humanities – floors 1 and 2
  • Newsroom
  • Science – floors 2 and 3
  • Social Sciences

Photographic copies made may be used for personal reference purposes only and must not be used for a commercial purpose. Copyright and data protection laws may still apply.

Some material will be excluded from self-service photography, including items at risk of damage, or further damage. …

In March 2015 we will extend this service to include the following Reading Rooms:

  • Asian & African Studies
  • Business & IP Centre
  • Manuscripts
  • Maps
  • Philatelic
  • Rare Books & Music

It is very good news.  No doubt there will be teething problems, as the staff get used to the idea that snapping is normal.  But it should mean that a lot of material starts to appear online that might otherwise wait for years to appear in someone’s priority queue.

We live in fortunate times.  In the 19th century editors had to pay for collations of manuscripts, and thank the owners of the mss fulsomely for even being allowed to have such a thing.  It seems unthinkable now.  So also the nuisances of very recent times will quickly become historical curiosities.


46 more British Library manuscripts online

The flow of manuscripts continues!  Here’s some highlights from the latest batch at the British Library.

  • Add MS 26112, Georgius Cedrenus, Compendium historiarum (TLG 3018.001), imperfect, starting from vol. 1, 546.3 and ending with 750.22, συγχάρια τῷ βασιλεῖ (from AD 374 to 641). 12th century.
  • Add MS 27862, John of Damascus, Dialectica sive Capita philosophica (TLG 2934.002) and Expositio fidei (TLG 2934.004); Sketches on the Division of Philosophy according to Christ and On the Seven Good Things; Anastasius of Sinai, Viae dux (TLG 2896.001); selections and fragments from other works (theological and geographical). 11th c.
  • Add MS 28821, Mathematarion in Byzantine music notation, containing works by a number of composers such as Manuel Chrysaphes, John Koukouzeles, John Kladas, Xenos Korones, Chionopoulos, John Glykys, Gregorios Mpounes Alyates, Theodoros Manougras and others. 15th-17th century.
  • Add MS 28828, John Zonaras, Epitome historiarum (TLG 3135.001-002), imperfect; George Akropolites, Annales (TLG 3141.002), imperfect; Leo VI the Wise, Oracula. 14th century.
  • Add MS 36634, Gregory of Nazianzus, Orationes, followed by Pseudo-Nonnus (Nonnus the Abbot), Scholia mythologica, imperfect. 10th century, ff 1-9 being added on paper in the 15th century.
  • Add MS 36749, Gregory of Nazianzus, Epistles and Poems; Leo Magister, Poems; Anonymi professoris epistulae; Hierocles, In aureum carmen. 10th century, with some paper additions in Messina (southern Italy) in the 15th century.
  • Add MS 39607, John Chrysostom, In epistulam I ad Corinthios homiliae (TLG 2062.156), imperfect. 12th century.
  • Add MS 58224, Appian, Historia Romana. Eastern Mediterranean (Crete?), c. 1450-1460. Decorative headpiece on f 1r. The text belongs to Mendelssohn’s family i (deteriores). The text breaks off after 11 lines on f 65r, after which 37 unfoliated leaves are left blank, marking the lacuna in the Illyrica first found in Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, MS 70.5.
  • Burney MS 69, Greek treatises on warfare, with numerous drawings. Includes works by Athenaeus, Biton, Heron, Apollodorus, Philo of Byzantium, Leo VI the Wise, and others. Italy, N. E. (Venice), completed 7 May 1545.
  • Kings MS 17, Scholia on Pindar’s Olympian and Pythian Odes. Italy, N., 4th quarter of the 15th century.
  • Royal MS 16 C XXIII, Philostratus, Heroicus, Imagines, and Vitae Sophistarum. 15th century.
  • Royal MS 16 D II Epistles of Phalaris (TLG 0053.001), with many marginal annotations, imperfect. Italy, N. (Venice), 2nd half of the 15th century. Owned by Isaac Casaubon.



Locating images of monuments online

A year or so ago I decided to collect some of the online images of monuments of Mithras, and put them together on my site with some explanatory material.  The reason is that I kept seeing some glorious images; with no idea what they were, or where they might be found.  Of course a complete or professional collection is beyond me, but there is still value is sticking text under commonly found pictures.  It is not always that easy, in truth, to find an image of a monument just by looking.

A little while ago I became aware that a relief of Mithras killing the bull was found by Italian police in Veii during a raid.  It was hidden in a  barn, and was intended to be sold to a Japanese collector for 500,000 euros.  Little information exists in English, but I have a page on the item here.

But what I could not find – and I tried hard – was any pictures of the relief.  All the articles – in Italian – had no images or just a fuzzy one of a barn with some cops hanging around it.

This evening I was making some technical changes to it, and I searched for “Mitra Veio” and drew blank.  Then I searched for “dio mitra veio” (because one of the Italian articles talked about “Dio Mitra”), and clicked on the images tab.  And … there it was!  There were several images; not huge, but quite large enough!  One showed the item upside down in the barn; another after restoration.

So now there is a proper page with the material on, and searchers will be able to find it.

But it is odd, you know?  It’s like one of those fairy stories, where you can’t find something by looking for it.  Instead you must be looking for something else, and it will just come along of its own accord.  Which is why sites that index material are valuable.