From my diary

The Christmas and New Year holiday season has been in full swing here, although the very unseasonably warm weather – 14C most days, and warm at night – has disguised this.  We’ve even had sunny days, such as today.

I’m spending this holiday quietly, as it is really the first holiday that I have had in 2015.  It’s really important to take your holidays, and not just work through them.

I’ve been doing a little light translating from Eutychius, and I may do some more.

Today I had some business in Norwich, and I took the opportunity to go into the Norwich Castle museum, and photograph all the items on display in the Roman gallery, using the camera on my mobile phone.   I had to stop when my hands grew shaky, but I think I got the lot.  The photos are not great – but they exist, and I have uploaded them to Flickr.

The majority of the items on display came from Venta Icenorum, modern Caistor St Edmunds.  They were found during the never-published excavations in the 1920’s.  Most of the rest came from hoards, discovered at one place or another.

One caught my eye:

Gold solidi, mainly of Honorius. Norwich Castle Museum
Gold solidi, mainly of Honorius. Norwich Castle Museum

It’s a collection of gold (and silver, according to the card) coins, mainly of Honorius, and was found in “South Norfolk” – a description that makes me think of the huge extant walls of the Roman fort at Burgh Castle.  Sadly the card did not indicate precisely what coins, and of what dates, we are looking at.

Is it possible that this is a donative, a collection of imperial solidi given to the soldiers at the accession of the new emperor?  Is this the property of some late Roman soldier, buried for some reason and then never reclaimed in the disorders that almost immediately followed?

Did that soldier march with one of the usurpers of the time?  Did he hear, when Stilicho removed most of the British troops in 402 AD?

In 409 AD the British rose in revolt and disgust and “expelled the Roman magistrates”, in Zosimus’ phrase.  Were those coins already in the ground then?

It’s worth making these speculations, not as history, but to bring before our mind that these are not just lumps of gold, but something that took part in momentous events, and belonged to a real man who saw them.


The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 16 (part 1)

We continue our translation of the Annals of Eutychius, melkite patriarch of Alexandria.  The text has reached the second half of the 5th century AD.  Marcian became emperor in 450 AD.  At this point Eutychius (or Sa`id ibn Bitriq as he was known) again relates material from a lost Sassanid Persian chronicle.  As before, “Rum” is the Arabic name for the Eastern Romans. 

1. In the sixth year of the reign of Marcian, king of Rum, Yazdagard, son of Bahram, king of the Persians, died.  On the death of Yazdagard, his two sons Firuz and Hurmuz contested the kingdom.  Some took the side of Firuz and others the side of Hurmuz.  After fierce fighting between the supporters of the two parties, Hurmuz was killed along with three members of his family.  Firuz, son of Yazdagard reigned over the Persians for twenty-seven years.  This was in the sixth year of the reign of Marcian, king of Rum.  King Marcian had the true faith, and he defended and promoted the faith of the Melkites.

2. King Marcian died. After him Leo the Great reigned over Rum, for sixteen years.  This happened in the second year of the reign of Firuz, son of Yazdagard, king of the Persians.  Leo was of the true faith, a Melkite.  When the inhabitants of Alexandria came to know of the death of Marcian, they rose up against Proterius, patriarch of Alexandria, and killed him in the church of Kūriyon; they brought his body on a camel to the great hippodrome that Ptolemy Lagus had built and they burned it.  Then there appeared in the sky a cloud of fire and there was thunder, lightning and violent storms for forty days.  Proterius was killed after having held the office for six years.  After him Timothy, brother of Anatolius, better known as Yānūriyūs, was made patriarch of Alexandria.  He was a Jacobite.  He held the office for three years.  Then a general named Balāwus came to Alexandria from Constantinople, who deposed Timothy, exiling him to a place called Marsūfin, a village on the coast of the Pontic Sea, and made another Timothy, better known as Swrs, Patriarch of Alexandria.  He was a Jacobite.  He held the seat for fifteen years and died.

3. In the sixteenth year of the reign of Leo the Great, Martin was made patriarch of Jerusalem.  He was a Jacobite.  He held the office for eight years and died.  In the tenth year of his reign Acacius was made patriarch of Constantinople.  He held the office for thirteen years and died.  In the twelfth year of his reign John was made patriarch of Antioch.  He held the seat for six years and died.  In the thirteenth year of his reign Julian was made patriarch of Antioch.  He held the office for five years and died.  In the eighth year of his reign Hilary was made patriarch of Rome.  He held the seat for six years and died.  In the sixteenth year of his reign Sīlfnūs was made patriarch of Rome.  He held the seat for fourteen years and died. This patriarch excommunicated Timothy, brother of Anatolius, Patriarch of Alexandria.

Leo the Great, King of Rum, died.  After him Leo the Less reigned over Rum, for one year only.  He was a Jacobite.  This happened in the eighteenth year of the reign of Firuz, son of Yazdağard, king of the Persians.

4. Leo the Less, king of the Rum, died.  After him his son Zeno reigned over Rum for seventeen years.  He was a Jacobite.  This was in the nineteenth year of the reign of Firūz, king of the Persians.  While the king Zeno was out strolling in a place called Surah, a man named Basiliscus, along with his son Marcus, took over the kingdom for twenty months.  The fighting between them did not stop until Zeno got the better of them, returned to Constantinople, killed Basiliscus and his son, confiscated their homes and possessions, and put to death all their supporters.  At that time there was a great earthquake in the city of Constantinople; the sun was darkened, and the stars appeared in the sky in broad daylight. Many houses collapsed and many people died because of the violence of the earthquake.  This happened in the ninth year of the reign of Zeno, king of Rum.

In the second year of his reign Timothy, patriarch of Alexandria, better known as Swrs, fled to Wadi-Habib, and Timothy, brother of Anatolius, returned from Marsūfin to the patriarchal see of Alexandria, held the office for two years and died.  After him the archdeacon Peter was made patriarch of Alexandria.  He was a Jacobite.  He held the office for thirty-six days and fled to Constantinople.  Then Timothy, better known as Swrs, returned from Wadi-Habib[1], was patriarch for four years and died.

In the ninth year of the reign of Zeno, Ibn Ghustus was governor of Alexandria, on behalf of Zeno.  Then John became Patriarch of Alexandria.  He was a Jacobite.  He held the office for six months.  Then another governor came to Alexandria on behalf of Zeno, called Aughustāliyūs, together with Peter, the patriarch who had fled to Constantinople.  The general Ibn Ghustus fled before Awghustāliyus and the patriarch John fled with him also.  So the patriarch Peter, who had fled, reoccupied his own place.  He held the office for eight years and died.  In the sixteenth year of the reign of Zeno Abinās was made patriarch of Alexandria.  He was a Jacobite.  He held the seat for seven years and died.  He built many churches in Alexandria and several burial sites.

5. At that time, the great hippodrome that Ptolemy Lagus had built in Alexandria, and where the patriarch Proterius had been burned, caught fire.  In the seventh year of the reign of Zeno Militūs was made patriarch of Jerusalem.  He was a Jacobite.  He held the office for eight years and died.  In the sixteenth year of his reign Elias was made patriarch of Jerusalem.  He held the seat for twenty-four years.[2] He built churches and erected the church of Eleona, but did not finish it so it was [later] turned over to Aylah.[3] At that time there were in Jerusalem Anba Theodosius, the founder of the monastery of ad-Dawākis, Anba Chariton, founder of the monastery of the Old Laura and Anba Saba, founder of the New Laura.

6. In the sixth year of the reign of Zeno Iwfūtiyūs was made patriarch of Constantinople.  He held the office for five years and died.  In the eleventh year of his reign[4] Iwfathimiyūs was made patriarch of Constantinople.  He held the office for ten years and died.  In the first year of the reign of Zeno Peter, nicknamed the Fuller, was made patriarch of Antioch.  He was a Jacobite.  He held the seat for six years and was removed.[5]  He was excommunicated and removed by Bāsīlīqūs, patriarch of Rome.  Once removed, Stephen was made patriarch of Antioch.  He held the office for only one year and died.  After him another Stephen was made patriarch of Antioch. He held the office for six months and died. After him Qalidiyūn was made patriarch of Antioch. He was a Nestorian.  He held the office for four years and died.  Then Peter the Fuller returned to occupy the Patriarchal See of Antioch.  He held the office for eight years and died.[6].  After him Palladius was made patriarch of Antioch.  He held the office for ten years and died.  This happened in the eleventh year of the reign of Zeno, king of Rum.  In the thirteenth year of his reign Filnīqūs was made patriarch of Rome.  He held the office for eight years and died.

  1. [1]Note by B. Pirone in the body of the text: ‘In another text it says “Dayr Habib”, which is undoubtedly more accurate’.
  2. [2]Pirone: ‘in another text it says “for fourteen years”‘.
  3. [3]Aqaba, location of a see in Byzantine times.
  4. [4]Pirone: ‘In another text he says “in the twenty-first year of his reign”‘.
  5. [5]Pirone: ‘in another text it says “for two years”‘.
  6. [6]Pirone: ‘In another text he says, “for three years”‘

In Memoriam: Acharya S

Did you know that:

  • Mithra [sic] was born on December 25th.
  • He was considered a great traveling teacher and master.
  • He had 12 companions or disciples.
  • He performed miracles.
  • He was buried in a tomb.
  • After three days he rose again.
  • His resurrection was celebrated every year.
  • Mithra was called “the Good Shepherd.”
  • He was considered “the Way, the Truth and the Light, the Redeemer, the Savior, the Messiah.”
  • He was identified with both the Lion and the Lamb.
  • His sacred day was Sunday, “the Lord’s Day,” hundreds of years before the appearance of Christ.
  • Mithra had his principal festival on what was later to become Easter, at which time he was resurrected.
  • His religion had a Eucharist or “Lord’s Supper”

Or that very much the same is also true of Horus, Krishna and Prometheus?

These claims, and others equally strange, were widely circulated on the early internet.  They originated from a website,, run by a woman calling herself “Acharya S”.[1]

These claims were met with much derision at the time, at least among those with any knowledge of antiquity.  But they were terribly useful to a certain sort of ignorant atheist, and so were repeated endlessly.  Indeed they may still be met with online, in one form or another.  The author never withdrew them, or admitted any mistake of fact.

I was led to interest myself in Mithras as a direct result of the circulation of these claims.  Occasionally I crossed swords with the authoress or one of her close disciples on various online discussion forums, an encounter that seldom left a pleasant impression behind.  But always the claims were stimulating, and I received a great deal of enjoyment in chasing down the real facts of the matter on more than one occasion, and learning of strange or unusual ancient sources, such as Antiochus of Athens.  We all need intellectual stimulus, and sometimes it may be found in strange places.

On Christmas Day 2015, she died.  She was 55 years old, and died of cancer, leaving a 13-year old son.

That she should die on 25 December was itself full of irony.  Acharya S was certain, certain with a degree of certainty that would appal most of us, that Christmas Day was a fraud: that Jesus of Nazareth never lived, and that the day was in fact the birthday of a huge number of pagan deities – Attis, Mithras, Adonis, Osiris, Horus, and so on.  So she wrote, and so she preached with a fierce fervour that contradiction only strengthened.

I cannot tell you her real name.  She went by the pen-name of Acharya S; before that, of Acharya Sanning.  In recent years she used the name “D. M. Murdock” on her books, but whether that was her legal name is not clear.   If it was, her name may have been Dorothy.

Nor can I tell you anything much of her background.  She claimed to have modelled when young, in New York City; to have become a Christian briefly at that time.  But she gave no account of her life.  This cannot, therefore, be an obituary – only an account of what I encountered or found online.

Her key assertion was that Jesus of Nazareth never lived, and that Christianity was merely an antique and fraudulent concoction from pagan beliefs.  This she derived from 19th century atheist popular writers, and embedded into a hazy new-age system of her own that she called “Astrotheology”.  But this system was really nothing: her life-energy was really spent in trying to rewrite history to prove Christianity false, and to convince as many as possible of her preferred account of events.

Without the internet, it is unlikely that Acharya S would have ever been heard of.  But the “Jesus myth” was taken up eagerly by atheists on the web.  Claiming that Jesus never existed, and demanding people prove them wrong, is an easy way to render discussion futile, while creating an impression of doubt; for it requires no education, merely impudence, a willingness to demand others prove to them what everyone knows, and a determination that any evidence to the contrary shall be “inadequate”.

Carried along by this tide, in 1999 she published The Christ Conspiracy: the greatest story ever sold.  How well this sold I do not know, but it certainly attracted attention, and material from it has continued to circulate.  She contributed to a film, Zeitgeist, which made many of the same claims.

But mythicism did not pay well.  She wrote online that she was very poor.  It is a fact that, in the last year of her life, she was obliged to seek money from the public in order to pay medical bills.  Pitifully, her executors have been obliged to continue the appeal in order to pay her funeral expenses.

What can we say about her?

Acharya S stirred up interest in a whole load of obscure aspects of antiquity.  It gave us all something to research, something to investigate, and much time and fun online in rebutting it.  To this extent we are all poorer for her passing.

On the other hand she did some real harm.  Nobody is well served by getting the raw facts wrong.  Many a gullible young atheist will have been confirmed in his newly-minted obscurantism by her work, and led just a step or two further from the light of knowledge into the darkness of ignorance and intellectual self-destruction.  “Jesus mythicism” is the judgement of God upon modern atheists – that those who boast most frequently of their own logic, science, reason and learning should be led to advocate an ignorant, stupid claim in the face of the world.  In this judgement she took a full part.  To dedicate yourself full-time to proving that others are completely wrong is perilous to every human soul that does so, whatever the object so hated.  It leads those who do it into a darkness of hate and blindness.  This path she walked.

She dedicated herself to trying to destroy the Christian religion, to the extent that she was able.  I never knew the reason for this, but it must be personal.

She was not an educated woman.  This fact lay at the root of all the mistakes of historical judgement that filled her books.  I never detected the slightest interest in history for its own sake.  If she had had this, it might have given her the education she lacked.  As far as I can tell, she never understood that history must start by compiling the primary sources and seeing what they say.  To the end, a book by some writer of the 19th or 20th century was “authority” – so long as he said what she wanted to hear!  In fairness she used better sources in her later books.  Acharya S wanted, wanted very badly, to be learned; but only, one sensed, to bolster the cause.

This lack of education meant that she had no critical detachment from her own claims.  What she wanted to believe was what she believed, and woe betide you if you contradicted her wishes.  Like many ignorant people, she seemed unaware that men may honestly disagree sometimes.  Even her admirers describe her as “strong-willed”.  I remember asking for evidence that Mithras had twelve disciples, and, after much abuse, being shown a relief with a Zodiac on it, and told that if the apostles were sometimes depicted as the zodiac in the renaissance, then clearly this showed that Mithras had twelve disciples.  If you disagreed with her, on whatever basis, she asserted that you were simply dishonest.

I usually felt sorry for her, except when provoked by some very gross piece of intellectual dishonesty.  Perhaps I am unduly imaginative or sentimental, but I always felt pity for this poor woman.  She was somebody’s little girl, somebody’s “mum”.  Indeed any sensitive man must look at how women are treated in our times with hearthbreak and shame.  Everything is against them.  Everything encourages women when young to throw themselves away outside of marriage.  The pain, guilt and misery that results must ruin many lives.  In attempting to cope with the guilt, some turn into railers at Christians – the only people to say “this is wrong” – and, in their howls, one can sometimes hear the pain of a violated conscience.  Acharya often railed against men, and “patriarchy”.  Was there some awful experience at the hands of some selfish man or selfish men in her past?  I do not know.

But it is impossible to look at her life, and not feel a sense of waste.  The world owes a great debt to energetic, single-minded women such as Florence Nightingale, or Elizabeth Fry, or several modern women.  Such women are often personally charming, as Acharya was, and often attract dedicated supporters who feel chivalrous towards them, as she did.  They are often determined to an intimidating degree, as Acharya seems to have been.  Such women can achieve much.  What can be vices in conversation can become virtues for society as a whole.  Acharya S might have been one such.  Who can say?

May the God whom she was so fierce against in life have mercy upon her, and rescue her, somehow, from the consequences of her wrong choices in life.

RIP “Acharya S”, 25th December 2015.

Edit: Add a couple of words of clarification at one or two points.

UPDATE (25 June 2016):  Her legal name was Dorothy Milne Murdock, known as Dori, and she was born on March 27, 1960.  I have found an obituary at the “The Hartford Courant”, published January 24, 2016, which mentions her family, which I have pasted into the comments.

UPDATE (14 November 2016): Via her Facebook page (pointed to by this link) I find this image of her gravestone.

Acharya S' gravestone.
Acharya S’ gravestone.
  1. [1]A sample post from 2005 is here, which helpfully tells us the source from which they were then disseminated: The page at no longer contains these claims, and were prevented from archiving it.  However her PDF “Origins of Christianity”, although revised somewhat, still contains a  version of much of these claims.

When will the librarians start to throw offline literature away?

When I started my projects, in 1997, there was little online.  To get access to books, I had to visit a major research library.  I cadged a reader’s ticket, sans borrowing privileges, and made day trips.  Once there, I browsed the stacks and photocopied and photocopied whatever I could, for an exaggerated price.  Some items – many items – were confined to the rare books room, and so could only be photocopied by the staff.  This cost twice as much, and invariably involved a delay of a week.  Always the copies were very bad quality.

In less than twenty years, everything has changed.  Books are available in vast amounts online.  Access is still a thorny issue, but this will change.  We are in a period of transition.

Things once unthinkable are now routine.  I remember, in the late 90s, going to the British Library in London and asking innocently if I might photograph a manuscript.  The keeper whom I asked became very rude, almost as if I had asked for the casual use of her daughter for the night.  Today you can stroll in with your mobile phone and builtin camera.

I’ve spent much of today scanning a book containing a modern English translation of a patristic biblical commentary.  It’s hard, time-consuming work.  But I don’t actually want a paper copy.  A PDF will be far more useful to me, especially once I make it searchable.  So I am converting my three volume paper copy into PDFs.  Naturally I am somewhat irked at spending my time thus, when I know that the paper copies were printed from an electronic PDF!!  But no matter … this too is a matter of transition.  Already translations are being offered in PDF, at ridiculous prices, and these too will fall.

I don’t scan very much these days.  My days are shorter than they once were, and I am more tired.  I can’t put the output from this task online either.  But I just want the floor space.  Still, it brought back a memory or two, turning the volume on the scanner and working over the images in FineReader.  What I would have given in 1997 for the hardware and software I have today!!

But once everything is online, or at least in electronic form, what becomes of the offline material?

But while scanning, my mind drifted to a Sci-Fi novel, in which this future is envisaged.  The work is Archform Beauty, by L.E.Modesitt.  The work is written from the perspective of the heroine, a professional singer and academic in a world with a diminishing need for art music.

I was buried in the southwest corner of the lowest level of the university library. My eyes burned as I flicked past image after image in the reader, hurrying through decades of information quickly, trying to locate old photos and stories not in the link archives–or even fragments of stories …

On Monday, I’d done what I could. I awakened early and gotten in a good two hours of practice, plus some exercise, and managed to get to the university a good twenty minutes before my lesson with Abdullah. The lesson had been good.

I’d gone to the library to browse through the closed stacks and try to discover some more older sheet music that had never been scanned into the system–in hopes of finding something unique. I didn’t. Back in November, I had found a “lost” song cycle of a twentieth-century composer named Britten, called “On This Island”–very haunting and beautiful. I wasn’t that lucky on Monday.

I decided not to go back home, but to check my office. It was old-fashioned, but I’d never linked the office and my conapt. I still felt that unless the university wanted to make me full contract, they didn’t deserve instant, around-the-clock access. I really felt that way at that moment.

The first message was from Mahmed. He was smiling, but it wasn’t a condescending expression. “Luara, I just wanted to confirm that we’re on for three-thirty on Tuesday. If that’s a problem, let me know. It will be a long session. Cannon has some new ads he wants to record. We may have to schedule another session on Wednesday. I hope you can do that.” …

The second message was from a tall blonde woman.

“This is SuEllen Crayno of the Crayno Agency. Mahmed Solyman of Crescent Productions provided your codes. We’d be very much interested in talking to you. If you’re interested, please let me know.”

Was I interested? How could I not be interested, with Dean Donald suggesting that he was just dying to throw me out once he could figure out a way? …

After that, I checked the system for memos and documents. The only thing of interest was a note from the library to inform me that the section I’d been searching manually was scheduled for purging in June. Purging? Just because no one wanted to take the time to scan the information or read through it? There was no way I could search it all by June. How many other songs or song cycles were there, like the Britten cycle, that would be lost forever? There might not be any, but I had no way to know.

Still, I had to try. So I went back to the stacks and spent three hours. I found nothing. Then, I got a sandwich from the student center and ate it before I walked to the shuttle station to head home.

Will it be thus?  Administrators “purging” offline archives, once everything of importance is online?  I think that it will.

Libraries cost money.  Do we need large buildings, heavily staffed, full of paper, if “everything of importance” is online, in databases, collections, and so forth?  For a university accountant, the answer is self-evidently not.  A generation may be needed, but those volumes will be sold, the staff dismissed, and the building repurposed.

Such changes in information technology have happened before.  When the codex replaced the roll, whatever was not copied into the snazzy new book format was lost.  And only materials of interest at that time were likely to make the transition.  We probably lost half of Tacitus at that time, for instance.  Likewise when printing replaced hand-copying, we lost vast numbers of manuscripts, many irreplaceable.  Now a new gateway is at hand through which the knowledge of the human race must pass.

Perhaps we’d all better get scanning.


From my diary

As you may have seen, I have resumed translating the Annals of Eutychius (or Said ibn Bitriq as he was known in life) from the Italian translation of Bartolomeo Pirone into English, with the assistance of Google Translate.

I would much prefer to translate the Arabic directly.  But since I don’t know Arabic, and I have no access to the Arabic text, then I am working from the Italian version.  This itself seems to be a rare book.  The object is to make the text known.  Anyone intending to base themselves on a statement in Eutychius should, of course, arrange to translate the original.  But that I leave to those able to do it.

Yesterday I revised the application for grant money for the translation of Methodius De Resurrectione and De autexusio from Old Slavonic.  It’s nearly as I want it to be.  I’ve written to the translators to check their availability in the timescale that (annoyingly) I have to specify.

I’ve spent some time on twitter, combatting the persistent nonsense that Mithras was born on 25th December.  No ancient source connects the two, and the idea originates from a careless bit of speculation by Franz Cumont – a great man, but altogether too prone to speculate.

It is now Christmas Eve.  I’m sure that some of my readers are off to late church services for carols and midnight masses and the like.  If you have such an opportunity, do take the opportunity to do something different.

Merry Christmas to you all!


The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 15 (part 4 and end)

7. Theodosius the Less, king of Rum, died and after him Marian reigned over Rum, for six years.  This happened in the fourteenth year of the reign of Yazdagard, son of Bahram, king of the Persians.  When Marcian became king, the bishops of each country came to him, wished him a prosperous reign and spoke of the injustice that Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria, had done at the second council held in Ephesus, the excommunication that had launched against the patriarchs who had died from the abuse they suffered because of him, of his adherence to the doctrine of the wicked Eutyches, his statement made of this, how he had introduced corruption into religion and the creed and how the doctrine of Eutyches had gained the upper hand among the people.  King Marcian ordered [his scribes] to write to Leo, patriarch of Rome, to Maximus, Patriarch of Antioch and to Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem, who were noted by him along with their metropolitans and bishops.  He ordered [them] also to write to the bishops of the land of Rum, to gather in the city of Chalcedon to consider and examine the doctrine of Eutyches, what Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria, had done, in adhering to the doctrine of Eutyches and excommunicating the patriarchs who were dead, and to define the Creed in light of what had been laid down by the three holy councils. Six hundred bishops gathered in the city of Chalcedon. Anatolius, patriarch of Constantinople, Maximus, Patriarch of Antioch and Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem, presided over the meeting.  Leo, patriarch of Rome, wrote a letter to the king Marcian in which he set forth the true faith, that is the creed of the Melkites, and sent it to him by means of a priest chosen from among his disciples, named Boniface.  King Marcian sent the letter with the priest Boniface to the city of Chalcedon, to the bishops gathered there, and the priest Boniface was counted with the six hundred and thirty.  There were at the council the disciples of St Euthymius, i.e. Stephen, bishop of Barabiyā, and John, Bishop of the Barbarians.

Having gathered, they examined the falsity of the doctrine of Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria, and took note of his adherence to the doctrine of Eutyches.  Dioscorus was then excommunicated, and Eutyches was excommunicated, and they confirmed that Jesus Christ our Lord, is man and God, sharing in the same substance as the Father in his divinity and of the same substance with our humanity, with two natures, perfect in his divinity and perfect in his humanity, one Christ.  Also they confirmed what the three hundred and eighteen bishops who had gathered in the city of Nicaea had already said, and embraced their doctrine, that is to say that the Son is consubstantial with the Father, light from light, true God from true God.  They excommunicated Arius and confirmed what the second council of the hundred and fifty bishops who had gathered in Constantinople against Macedonius had said, saying that the Holy Spirit is God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one God, one nature, three persons and three substances, and they excommunicated Macedonius.  They confirmed what the Third Council of Two hundred bishops who had gathered in the city of Ephesus for the first time against Nestorius had defined, saying that the Virgin Mary gave birth to God, i.e. our Lord Jesus Christ, who is of the same divine nature as the Father and of the same human nature as men, and testified that Christ is two natures, one person and one substance.  So they excommunicated Nestorius, and they excommunicated Dioscorus and anyone who professed his doctrine and deposed them. They excommunicated the second council which was held at Ephesus.  At this council the archdeacon of Alexandria, named Prūtāwus, was present, and they made him patriarch in place of the wicked and excommunicated Dioscorus.  From the third Council of Ephesus of two hundred bishops, who gathered at Ephesus for the first time and who had excommunicated Nestorius, to this Fourth Council, in which there were six hundred and thirty bishops who excommunicated Dioscorus and Eutyches and which was held in the city of Chalcedon, there were twenty-one years.

The inhabitants of Egypt and Alexandria had embraced the doctrine of Dioscorus and Eutyches and believed that Dioscorus had been excommunicated unfairly.  But through fear of king Marcian they did not dare to openly profess their doctrine.  As for Dioscorus, after being dismissed he went to Palestine and Jerusalem, and he corrupted the faith of those who were in Palestine and Jerusalem to the point that he professed his doctrine and there appointed his own bishops.  When Eudoxia, wife of King Theodosius, heard talk of the doctrine of Dioscorus, she embraced it and sent him many gifts.  At Jerusalem St Euthymius battled, and defended the doctrine of the Melkites.  So St Euthymius sent a message to Eudoxia: “Do not embrace the doctrine of Dioscorus because he has been deposed and excommunicated, he and all those who hold this doctrine. Return then, to the truth into which you were at first.” Eudoxia welcomed the words of St Euthymius, abandoned the doctrine of Dioscorus, returned to the truth and sent him many gifts.  Eudoxia then had many churches and monasteries built in Jerusalem.

8. In the third year of the reign of Marcian Anastasius was made patriarch of Jerusalem.  He was a Jacobite. He held the office for nineteen years and died.  In the [same] year Basil was made patriarch of Antioch. He held the office for two years and died.  In the fifth year of his reign Martyrius was made patriarch of Antioch.  He held the office for eight years and died.  In the sixth year of his reign Gennadius was made patriarch of Constantinople.  He held the office for ten years and died. At the time of King Marcian lived Simeon the recluse, called Stylites. He was the first monk to live in a sawma’a, [32] in the rural district of Antioch, on the mountain known as “al-Gabal al-mu’gib” [= Mount Admirable].  At that time St. Theodosius, the founder of the monastery of ad-Dawākis, left his country and went to Simeon the recluse at Antioch. He stayed for a few days with him, then he went to Jerusalem and embraced the monastic life.

32.  A term indicating a column with a habitation on the top.


The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 15 (part 3)

5. This was the second council which was held in the city of Ephesus.  Presiding at this council were Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria, Domnus, Patriarch of Antioch, Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem and the legates of Leo, patriarch of Rome.  They examined the case of Eutyches along with that of Eusebius, bishop of Dorilea, and Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople.  Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria, confirmed the doctrine of Eutyches and excommunicated Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Eusebius, bishop of Dorilea.  But Domnus, Patriarch of Antioch, Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Modestus, bishop of Ancyra, and Asa, Bishop of Edessa, along with many other bishops and the legates of Leo, patriarch of Rome, disapproved of the behavior of Dioscorus and rejected his doctrine as absurd. Dioscorus then excommunicated them and wrote to Leo, patriarch of Rome, and to all the priests, imposing excommunication and interdiction from the celebration of the Eucharist, if they refused to embrace the doctrine of Eutyches.  Convinced of this doctrine, Dioscorus left the city of Ephesus.  This happened in the fortieth year of the reign of Theodosius the Less.  The true faith was thus corrupted and the doctrine of Eutyches became the creed and [official] doctrine, especially in Egypt and Alexandria.  Even King Theodosius embraced the doctrine of Eutyches.

6. In the fortieth year of his reign, Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople, who had excommunicated Dioscorus, died.  After him Athanasius was made patriarch of Constantinople. He held the office for nine years and died.  In his fourth year in office there was the fourth council, in the city of Chalcedon.  In the forty-first year of the reign of Theodosius Domnus, Patriarch of Antioch, who had excommunicated Dioscorus, died.  After him Maximus was made patriarch of Antioch. He held the office for four years and died.  In his third year in office there was the fourth council, in the city of Chalcedon. King Theodosius had a wife named Eudoxia.  The king was given an apple out of season and the king gave the apple to his wife Eudoxia.  One day when he was at the house of one of his nobles, he found the apple that had given to his wife.  The king reluctantly endured it, he was sad, and he thought that his wife Eudoxia was the mistress of the patrician.  So he exiled her to Jerusalem.


Rome before Mussolini – what a map can tell us

Mussolini demolished various areas of the city in order to create modern Rome.  I’ve given various photographs of the areas in the past; but today I learn that there is a zoomable map of Rome here, before his work began.  This has interesting things to show us.

First, a map of the area before St Peter’s basilica.  Today this is a wide street, the Via della Conciliazione.  But prior to Mussolini, the street did not exist!


We learn from H.V. Morton that there was a little restaurant directly facing the Piazza di S. Pietro, where he ate breakfast.  Today that is gone.

We also know that Mussolini demolished a stretch of buildings from his office in the Piazza Venezia to the Colosseum, to build the Via del Foro Imperiali.  But some of the remains of the imperial forums must have been pretty substantial.  Where were they located, before the buildings were bulldozed?  Again the map shows them, embedded in the city:


The main losses from this activity were around the Colosseum.  We lost the ancient Roman fountain, the Meta Sudans, and also the base of the Colossal statue of Nero, after which the Colosseum was named.  But they both appear in this map:


The Via del Colosseo still exists, although its lower end is chopped off and diverted upon the hill.  But the creation of the Via del foro imperiali changed the geography completely.  The wide road around the Colosseum is not here.


From my diary

I’ve finished work for the year, and I’ve been diligently clearing away all the things in my inbox.  It’s quite a relief to do this!  But most of them are done.

Six weeks ago I started a new job which means that I have done nothing about applying for funds to translate Methodius.  I will see if I can do anything about that this week.  Blogging may well be rather sporadic over the next six weeks also, again for work-related reasons.  After that time, I may well commission some more translations.

The first draft of a commission that I had outstanding for Andrew of Crete, Encomium on St Nicholas of Myra, is done; but the last few queries on it are not resolved.  So I can’t very well pay for it and release it, which is a shame.  But I suspect the translator is simply snowed under with other commitments, as is so common at this time of year.  It will still be valuable when it is done.

I have a nagging feeling that I have another commission in flight, and have forgotten all about it.  Which is, of course, rather embarassing!  No doubt it will come to me.

I have started the process for taking Eusebius, Gospel Problems and Solutions, out of print, which means notifying the printers.  It will go out of print on 22nd March 2016, and I will put in the request for this four weeks beforehand.  So if you want a printed copy, you have only a couple of months left in which to do so!

Christmas is a time when blogging tends to go quiet.  Many bloggers have families to attend to at this season.  However I hope, as usual, to keep posting!


John the Lydian – corrigenda

Regular readers will remember that a translation of John the Lydian, On the Roman Months – a month by month explanation of the festivals of the Roman year – appeared in chunks in this blog (click here for the posts).  The translator, Mischa Hooker, has now sent in a couple of pages of corrections.  They are here:

He’s continuing to work on this, so no doubt there will be more!