This part of the Annals continues the history of the 4th century, interleaving material from the Greek chronographic tradition with a lost Sassanid Persian chronicle known to the author in Arabic translation. Unfortunately the chapter ends with a curious oriental folk tale. One wonders what Theodosius the Great would have thought of it!
1. Sabur lived for seventy-two years in all, and died. After him there reigned over the Persians Azdashīr, son of Sabur (1), for four years and died. This was in the first year of the reign of King Constantine, son of Constantine, King of Rūm. After him there reigned over the Persians, for five years and four months, his brother Sabur, son of Sabur (2). This happened in the fifth year of the reign of Constantine, the son of Constantine, King of Rūm. In the fifth year of his reign there rebelled against his brother Constans, in Rome, a general named Maghnitiyūs (3) who killed him. When Constantine, son of Constantine, learned that his brother had been killed, he sent a large army, killed Magnentius, together with all those who had supported him in conspiring against his brother, and appointed as his representative in Rome a man who reigned in his name. In the seventh year of his reign there was made patriarch of Rome Marcus (4). He held the office for two years and died. In the ninth year of his reign there was made patriarch of Rome Būliyūs (5). He held the seat for fifteen years and died. In the twenty-fourth year of his reign there was made patriarch of Rome Līnāriyūs (6). He held the office for six years and died. In the twentieth year of his reign there was made bishop of Jerusalem Cyril (7). He held the office for five years and fled.
2. At that time the followers of Arius and all those who professed the doctrine went to King Constantine; after having presented their religion in a good light and expounded their doctrine in enticing colours they said: “The three hundred and eighteen bishops, who gathered at Nicaea, made a mistake and have turned away from the truth by claiming that the Son is consubstantial with the Father. Please, order that such a thing is no longer upheld because it is an obvious mistake.” The king agreed to their request.
3. At that time there appeared on the site of Cranion, i.e. on Golgotha, at noon, a cross of light which rose from earth to heaven, until it reached the top of the Tūr-Zaytā: (8) for the intensity of its glow even dimmed the sunlight. All the inhabitants of Jerusalem, large and small, were spectators of this. Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, also witnessed the phenomenon and hastened to inform the king, writing to him a letter in which he said: “In the days of your father, O blessed king, the cross of Christ, our Lord, appeared, made of stars, at noon, in the sky. And in your days, O blessed king, there has appeared at noon, on the site of Cranion, a cross of light so intense that it exceeds that of the sun” (9). In the same letter among other things he urged him not to welcome the doctrine of Arius and his supporters, or of his followers, because they were far from the truth and wicked, and had already been excommunicated by three hundred and eighteen bishops together with all those who professed the doctrine. The king received willingly the letter of Cyril and rejoiced at what he had written, and turned back to the truth and decided not to accept the doctrine of Arius.
4. At that time, the doctrine of Arius had almost taken over Constantinople, Antioch, Babil, and Alexandria: the followers of the religion of Arius and the supporters of his doctrine were called Arians, from the name of Arius. In the second year of the reign of Constantine, the son of Constantine, Cyprian was made patriarch of Antioch (10). He was an Arian. He held the office for two years and died. In the fourth year of his reign Blāsiyūs was made patriarch of Antioch (11). He held the office for four years and died. He was an Arian. In the eighth year of his reign Ustātiyūs was made patriarch of Antioch (12). He held the office for five years and died. He was an Arian. In the thirteenth year of his reign Lāwn was made patriarch of Antioch (13). He was also an Arian. He held the office for nine years and died. The king then sent for Eudoxius (14), bishop of the city of Girmāna (15), and made him patriarch of Antioch. He was a Manichaean. He held the See of Antioch for two years. Then the king sent him to Constantinople, where he remained for ten years and died as patriarch (16). In the twenty-second year of his reign Athanāsiyūs was made patriarch of Antioch (17). He was a Manichaean. He held the office for four years and died. In the first year of his reign, the king deposed Paul, the patriarch of Constantinople and made Eusebius patriarch of Constantinople, in his place (18). He was a Manichaean. He held the office for three years and died. At his death the king reinstated in his own see the patriarch Paul, whom he had deposed. He held the office for three years and died (19).
5. In the tenth year of his reign Macedonius was made patriarch of Constantinople (20). He asserted that the Holy Spirit is a created being. He held the office for ten years and died. In his twenty-first year of his reign, the king called to Constantinople Eudoxius, Patriarch of Antioch, and appointed him patriarch of that city (21). He was a Manichaean. He held the office for ten years and died. Of the population of Egypt and Alexandria, most were Arians and Manichaean. They occupied the churches of Egypt and Alexandria and took possession of them. Then they made a raid against Athanasius, patriarch of Alexandria, with the intention of killing him, but he managed to escape and hide. Up to that time he had been Patriarch for ten years. Gregory was then made Patriarch of Alexandria (22). He was a Manichaean. He held the office for twelve years and died. At his death Athanasius, patriarch of Alexandria, reoccupied his own place. He held the office for three years. In that time there came from Constantinople to Alexandria a general named Sawīriyānūs that, being an Arian, confined Patriarch Athanasius in a place called Tībāriyādah and appointed Khurayğ as patriarch of Alexandria (23). He was an Arian. He held the seat for six years. The general Sūriyānūs then left Alexandria bound for Constantinople. When he left Alexandria, the Melkites of the city revolted against the patriarch Gurayh and killed him and then burned his body. Patriarch Athanasius again reoccupied his see. At that time there was a terrible tsunami and many places and many churches of Alexandria were submerged.
6. The King Constantine, son of Constantine, died after a reign of twenty-four years. After him reigned over Rum Julian, the apostate King (24). This happened in the twenty-first year of the reign of Sabur, son of Sabur, king of the Persians. This king Julian was a renegade from the Christian religion, who wanted to return people to the worship of idols and killed a large number of martyrs. In the first year of his reign the Arians who were in Jerusalem rose against Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, with the intent to kill him. [Cyril] fled and Heraclius was elected bishop of Jerusalem (25). He was an Arian. He held the office for three years and died. In the second year of his reign Milītiyānūs was made patriarch of Antioch (26). He was an orthodox (27). He held the seat for twenty-five years. In his twenty-first year in office there was the second council in Constantinople (28).
At the time of this king there lived at Alexandria the patriarch Athanasius, at Constantinople the Manichaean patriarch Eudoxius, and at Rome the patriarch Līnāriyūs (29).
At the time of this king lived the blessed Basil, Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, a territory subject to the jurisdiction of Rum, and Gregory, bishop of Nazianzus. The inhabitants of the city of Nazianzus were all Sabeans. Gregory, bishop of Nazianzus, composed the sermon on the birth of Christ, our Lord, which begins: “Christ is born, glorify [him]; Christ [is] from heaven: welcome Christ on earth: glorify [him]”(30), and while he was reading to them, they mocked him and started laughing. On the feast of the Baptism, Gregory wrote another sermon in which reviewed the religion of the Sabeans and illuminated its errors. This was the sermon that begins with the following words: “And again, my Jesus, and still a mystery” (31). At the time of Julian the Apostate there lived Anba Antonius, who was the first monk to live in the desert of Egypt, where he founded the monasteries and gathered monks there. Anba Hilarion lived in Syria (32), who was the first monk to live in the desert of Jordan where he collected the monks and founded the monasteries and many other places.
Learning that Sabur, son of Sabur, king of the Persians, was preparing to invade his territories, Julian the Apostate made the necessary preparations and went out against him. Meanwhile he had spread his cult and his wicked religion everywhere, carryinbg out his perverse intention and proposal to return people to the worship of idols. But Sabur, son of Sabur, king of the Persians, defeated him and killed him in battle, making great slaughter of his men.
7. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, has handed down to us that, one day while he was sitting in his room in front of a painting depicting the martyr Mercurius, he realized, suddenly, that the image of the martyr was missing from canvas. He was very surprised. After just one hour the image of the martyr had reappeared on the canvas but now, on the tip of the spear in his hand, was something like blood. The wonder of Bishop Basil at the sight of this increased, and he remained deep in thought, until the news came that the King Julian the Apostate had been killed in the war in that hour. Basil then understood that the martyr Mercurius had killed him, that Julian had been put to death on account of the animosity he felt toward Christians, and because of his firm resolution to restore everywhere the worship of idols (33).
8. After Julian the Apostate had been killed, there reigned over Rum, for one year only, Jovian (34). This happened in the twenty-first year of the reign of Sabur, son of Sabur, king of the Persians. The king Jovian was of excellent faith and a staunch defender of the religion of the Christians. A rebel rose up against him a rebel, and Jovian made war on him, but died on the way at a place called Daris (35).
After him there reigned for twelve years over Rum Valentinian (36). This happened in the twenty-fourth year of the reign of Sabur, son of Sabur, king of the Persians. In the third year of his reign Damasus was made patriarch of Rome (37). He held the seat for twenty-eight years and died.
9. In his seventeenth year in office there was the second council at Constantinople. In the fourth year of the reign of Valentinian Demophilus was made patriarch of Constantinople (38). He was a Manichaean. He held the office for eleven years and died. In the first year of his reign Irnis was made bishop of Jerusalem (39). He was a Manichaean. He held the office for five years and died. In the seventh year of his reign Hilarius was made bishop of Jerusalem (40). He was an Arian. He held the office for four years and died. On his death there returned to his own see Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, who had fled because of the Arians. He held the seat for sixteen years and died. The entire period for which Cyril was bishop was thirty-three years.
10. In his twenty-seventh year in office there was the second council at Constantinople. The population of Alexandria rebelled again against the patriarch Athanasius and decided to kill him. But [Athanasius] fled and hid. They therefore made Lucius Patriarch of Alexandria (41). He was an Arian. Five months later there gathered, along with a large group of Melkite Christians, a good number of bishops who excommunicated the patriarch Lucius and deposed him. The patriarch Athanasius returned to his own see and remained there until his death. He was patriarch was for forty six years.
11. In the eighth year of the reign of Valentinian Peter was made Patriarch of Alexandria (42). But the followers of Arius rose up against him, with the intention of killing him, and he fled away from them. Lucius was then recalled, who had been deposed, and he held the office for three years. But since the Melkites rose up against him with intent to kill him, he fled away from them. The patriarch Peter then returned to his place. He held the office for six years and died. In the Maghrib a rebel rose up against Valentinian. Valentinian went out against him at the head of a huge force but was killed in the war (43).
12. After him his brother Valens (44) reigned over Rum for three years. This was in the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Sabur, son of Sabur, king of the Persians.
At the time of Valens, king of Rum, there lived in Alexandria, a man named Theodore who disputed and fought in defense of the doctrine of the Melkites, refuting the assertions of the Aryans. The followers of the excommunicate Arius took him, tied his hands and tied him to the feet of a horse that they drove off at full speed in the direction of the desert. He thus had all his limbs dislocated and died a martyr for the faith. In the second year of the reign of Valens, king of Rum, Timothy was made patriarch of Alexandria (45), Peter’s brother, former patriarch of Alexandria before him. He held the seat for seven years and died.
In his sixth year in office there was the second council in Constantinople. The patriarch Timothy had built many churches in Alexandria and numerous tombs, and converted many people from Arianism to the Melkite religion. In the third year of the reign of Valens, king of Rum, Evagrius was made patriarch of Constantinople (46), of the Melkite religion. He held the seat for two years and was removed. The king Valens sent for Gregory, bishop of Nazianzus, and ordered him to take care of the see of Constantinople. Gregory administered it for four years and died.
At the time of Valens, king of Rum, St Euthymius was born (47). In the West there rose up against Valens a rebel and Valens came out against him with his forces. After many days of fighting, in a place called Tarāqā, Valente, king of Rum, was defeated and fled to a village in the province of Adrianople where they set fire to him and to the village (48).
13. After him reigned over Rum his son Valentinian (49) together with Gratian (50) for three years. The king Gratian died a few days after the king Valentinian. Then arose within Rum much contention about to whom to entrust the kingdom. Some said: “One of the sons of the great king Valentinian should reign over us”. Others said: “Only a man who shares our faith should reign over us, to fight for the Christian faith.” The opinions of many Christians and their doctrines were varied, but the doctrine of the Arians and followers of Macedonius won out. They remained prey to confusion for six months without being able to give themselves a king, nor was there, then, a patriarch in Constantinople, because after the death of Gregory (51), bishop of Nazianzus, who had held the seat of Constantinople, another patriarch had not yet been made. Then the ministers and generals went to one of the bishops of Constantinople, named Cyrus, excellent man, and full of virtue, and said: “We will rely on you because you can judge what is best for us in such a predicament. Choose from your full and unconditional initiative a man of your own faith and make him our king, because, if we continue to be without a king, the Persians or others could invade our country and subjugate us, because of our many doctrines and bitter disputes, and destroy us”. The bishop replied, “If I choose for you a man, and I make him your king, this will leave some happy and others not, and thus there may be more fighting between you and more dead. I can only give you some advice, that if you follow it will be more useful both to me and to you.” They said to him: “What?” And the bishop replied: “Send around the city of Constantinople an crier and tell people to gather, at sunset, in the church where we will pray all night. Tomorrow we will celebrate the Mass and ask our God and our Lord Jesus Christ to choose for us a king. Whom He will choose, we will welcome him as our king.” They welcomed his advice.
14. There lived in Constantinople two men, poor and of low condition, bound together by friendship. One was called Theodosius, and was bald and thirty years old, and the other Theophilus, who was a sage and a philosopher and was twenty-five. Both, every day, went out early from Constantinople in search of wood, which they carried on their heads and then sold, giving half of the proceeds in alms to the poor. With what was left they bought something to eat and whatever they needed. Only night separated them, when each went to his home and returned to their accustomed place. That day Theophilus went early in the morning to Theodosius to wake him and go out in search of firewood. When he called, Theodosius came out and said: “My brother, I was having a strange dream when you called me and woke me up in the throes of my turmoil. If I can find someone who will give me an interpretation, I will give all him earn throughout the week, allowing that I am poor and have no other source of income except what I procure by selling the wood.” Theophilus said: “I know how to interpret dreams. Tell me what you have dreamed of, and also, Christ, our Lord, willing, I’ll give an explanation, without you having to give anything to the person who would explain it.”
Theodosius said: “While I was sleeping, I heard a great voice and I awoke in the grip of turmoil. Then I said to myself: “The soldiers of the Persians have come to Constantinople” and I rushed into the street, but I did not see anyone and I did not hear any voices. So I went back to bed and I fell asleep and I dreamed that I was in a vast desert full of big rams, sheep, cows and beasts, lions and birds and animals of every race and species, of leafy trees and large and most numerous heaps of grain, and I said: “I wish I could have a bit of that grain I, who are so poor!” And as I looked at the animals, the trees and the vast harvest of wheat, behold I saw a tall man fifty cubits high, whose body shone like pure gold in his right hand and wore a double-edged sword, on which were engraved four seals that shone like gold, and in his left hand he had a golden shield. When I saw him come near me, I was afraid and fell face down. But he took me by the hand, raised me up and told me: “Fear not. Would you like to have all that is in this wilderness?” I replied: “My Lord, I just want a bit of wheat.” And he answered me: “Everything you see in this wilderness will be yours from now on, and under your power.” Then he told me: “Follow me,” and I followed, as I walked here and I saw the rams, sheep, cows, the beasts and the birds and the trees fall down before me and reverence me. The lions, however, greeted me with roars and I had great fear. But he told me then: “Fear not, take this sword and shield and keep them tight in your hand.” The sword was double-edged and there were four seals on it. I took them from him, therefore, the sword and the shield, and I kept them tight in hand. When the lions saw the sword and shield in my hands, they bent their legs to the ground and prostrated themselves before me. Then he took me to the sea and I saw come out of it a column of light. The man stretched out his hand, took the column and it covered me, and in doing so the column was divided into three stars. The first star was similar to the earth, and he wrapped me up in this light around the chest; the second was like beryl and he wrapped this light around my thighs, and the third was similar to ruby and he wrapped this around my foot. Then I was taken by the hand and taken back in that great wilderness and he told me: “Lift up your eyes to the sky.” I looked up, and I saw a big star like lightning which is divided into two parts falling on my head. Then he led me to a corner of the wilderness, and I saw thick briars and brambles sprouting in the middle of fruitless trees. Then I was led into a wide and beautiful tent. I looked into the tent, and there I saw in the centre a lamb, and a spring of water, as white as milk. Then that lamb became like the flame of a fire, and ascended to heaven together with the water. I came out of the tent, and I saw the man holding a long key which was a cubit wide, which he gave me and I said to him: “My Lord, how can I hold the shield, the sword and this key?” He replied: “This is what you are commanded to do.” I am left to speculate on whom to entrust the key. And I saw you, standing to my right, wrapped in a white pallium and beautiful, and with a tiara on your head. I handed the key to you, and then I saw only the man. Then we headed home, but along the way we came across a wall that blocked the road, two hundred cubits long. And I said: “How will we overcome this wall?” And as we were halted, I saw a light descending from heaven like lightning. The wall collapsed and we passed through. Then I woke up to the sound of your shout.”
Theophilus said: “If you have described your dream accurately, know that it will be you that is chosen as king. There, now I’ll explain. The great wilderness is the world. The sheep and the sheep are men, both the good and the bad, living in the world. The beasts are the Greeks and the birds represent every town and village. The trees are the ministers and generals. These all shall bow down before you in your kingdom. The lions are the enemies of the king. The double-edged sword is the Torah and the books of the Old and New Testaments. The four seals of the sword are the four evangelists and the piles of grain represent the enormous wealth of your kingdom. The column of light with which you have been covered is the mercy of God that has fallen upon you, and that your days will abound. The three stars that have fallen on you represent the baptism that you received in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The star then that fell from heaven alighting on your head is the crown of your kingdom. And as you saw it split in two, you will have two children in your kingdom. The brambles and fruitless trees represent the people who do not believe in Christ, our Lord. The tent is the church and the lamb you saw in the middle of the tent is the Eucharist. And the water was like milk is Baptism. And as you saw the lamb like the flame of a fire with water ascend to heaven, so the Eucharist will rise to heaven. The key, then, is the authority that was assigned to you, to give the church a leader who will govern according to your mandate. You gave me the key, and that means that I will be made patriarch. The wall, finally, is the peace and tranquility that there will be in your kingdom. And this is the interpretation of your dream.”
Theodosius said: “That’s very nice, my brother, your interpretation of my dream! But that I become king, and that you will become patriarch, this will never be possible! Come on, get up, let’s go to work.” As they were going out, they saw people heading to church and asked: “What day is this?” “We go to church,” they answered, “to see who God will choose as our king.” Theophilus said to Theodosius: “Let’s do the same ourselves and go to church. It could also be that your dream will come true.” They entered the church and having prayed, Theodosius said Theophilus: “Our clothes are shabby and worn. Let’s get behind everyone and let ‘s see what happens.” The mass ended, and people were about to leave, when suddenly a large bird appeared, carrying in its beak a crown of light.
The people watched it for a couple of hours and began to shout: “O Lord, have mercy on us!” The bird then moved toward Theodosius and dropped on his head a crown of light. He was immediately brought to the altar, where the bishop took away the worn and shabby clothes, covered him with the royal robes and put on his head the crown of the kingdom, calling on him the blessing of God. Then he was made to mount on one of the king’s horses – Theodosius still did not believe his eyes seeing himself surrounded by ministers and generals – and introduced him to the court, that the king’s palace, going then each their own way.