The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 17 (part 4)

The Origenist disputes of the time of Justinian now make an appearance in the chronicle.  But was the bishop of “Manbig” (Arabic) / Mabbug (Syriac) / Hierapolis (Greek) really named Origen?  The Persian chronicle records plots against a weak king by the Zoroastrian priests.

10. In the time of king Justinian lived Origen, Bishop of Manbiğ, who argued for the doctrine of transmigration of souls and denied the resurrection [of the body].  With him were Iniya, Bishop of ar-Ruha, Thaddeus, bishop of al-Masīsah and Theodoret, bishop of the city of Ankara.  These bishops claimed that the body of Christ, our Lord, was a “fantasiya”, that is a shadow without any reality.  On learning of their doctrine, the king sent to them to say to present themselves in Constantinople, and Eutychius, Patriarch of Constantinople arranged a meeting with them.  The patriarch said to them: “If the body of Christ, our Lord, was, as you assert, a”fantasiya”, then his actions were a ‘fantasiya” too, his words were a “fantasiya” as well.  The same would be true of the body, the actions or words of any [other] man.”  Addressing the Bishop of Manbiğ he said: “Christ our Lord, is truly risen from the dead and has taught us that in the same way we will be resurrected from the dead on the day of judgment.  In fact, he told us in his holy gospel that will be a time when all those lying in tombs will live when they hear the voice of the Son of God.  How then can you say that there is no resurrection?”.  Therefore he interdicted them, and excommunicated them.  The king, in turn, ordered that a council should be held against them at which they could be publicly excommunicated.  Then the king wrote to the four patriarchs summoning them to the council, i.e. to Apollinaris, Patriarch of Alexandria, Domnus, patriarch of Antioch, to Eutychius, Patriarch of Jerusalem and Vigilius, patriarch of Rome, telling them to go to Constantinople, so that they were present at the excommunication of the bishops.  They presented themselves.  At that council Eutychius, Patriarch of Constantinople, personally took part.  The Patriarch of Jerusalem was not personally present but sent some of his legates.  So too the Patriarch of Rome was not present, who did not send any legate but who agreed with them, and accepted the judgment.  The number of bishops who gathered in the Fifth Council was one hundred and sixty.  They excommunicated the bishops and all those who professed the doctrine, i.e. Origen, Bishop of Manbiğ, Thaddeus, bishop of al-Masīsah, Iniya, Bishop of ar-Ruha and Theodoret, bishop of Ankara.  They established that the Body of our Lord was a real body and not a shadow, and that He is perfect God and perfect man, with two natures, two wills and two operations, and only one person.  They also confirmed the doctrine of the four councils that were held before them, that life on earth is transient, that without doubt there will be the resurrection and that Christ, our Lord, will come with great glory to judge the living and the dead, as already the three hundred and eighteen had said.  Then the honoured ones returned, each to his own home.

11. From the fourth council of six hundred who gathered at Chalcedon and had excommunicated the Jacobites, to this fifth council of one hundred and sixty bishops who gathered in Constantinople, there passed one hundred and three years.  This happened in the twenty-seventh year of the reign of Justinian, king of Rum.

12. As for Qabād, son of Firuz, king of the Persians, he incurred the disapproval of his people and they decided to kill him, but refrained from doing so for fear of his minister Suwākhar.  So they did their best to bring Suwākhar into disgrace in the eyes of the king, in order to kill him.  After the killing, a man named Marzīq and his followers confronted him and said, “God has distributed his blessings on earth equally among men, so that no one has more than another.  But men act unjustly to each other and each one puts his own interests ahead of those of his brother.  In view of this, we will take what belongs to the rich and give it to the poor, we will remove from those who have a lot and we will return to those who have little, and those with more assets, more women, more servants and furnishings than others, we will remove them, and distribute them equally between him and the others, so that no one has more goods than another of a certain thing.”  So they began to seize the houses, women and the goods of the people and their position was strengthened.  Then they kidnapped Qabād, son of Firuz, hid him in an inaccessible place and put in place his uncle, named Mārāsf.  On seeing this Bzarmihr rose up against them with a group of Persian noblemen, killed a large number of the men of Marzīq, put Qabād, son of Firuz, back in his place, restoring the kingdom, and drove away Mārāsf.  The Mazdeans who remained started to stir up Qabād  against Bzarmihr until he was killed.  His reign was convulsed and in every part rebels rose up against him.  Seeing the state to which he was reduced Qabād repented that he had killed Sūkhar and his son.


The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 17 (part 3)

The reign of Justinian continues: but we get the first mention of Islam. 

4. After completing this, he returned to the king.  The king said to him: “Describe how you built the Bethlehem church.”  After hearing the description, the king did not find it to his liking and was not at all satisfied.  Great was his anger against him and he said:  “You took the money and you used it for yourself, you built a small building, you made the church dark, and you have not built it as I would have liked it to be, nor have you followed my advice.”  And so saying he commanded them to lop off his head.

5. King Justinian built in Constantinople the beautiful church of St. Sophia.  Mar Saba died at the age of ninety-four.  Having been informed of the favourable attitude of the King Justinian and his predilection for building churches and monasteries, the monks of Tur Sīnā came to him and complained of the fact that the Arab Ishmaelites harassed them, ate their food, destroyed their sites, broke into their cells, grabbing everything that was there, and entered into the church during the Eucharist.  King Justinian said to them: “What do you want [me to do]?”.  They answered: “We ask you, O king, to build us a monastery in which we can feel safe.”  Before that, in fact, there was no monastery on Mount Sinai where the monks could gather, but they were just scattered here and there in the valleys around the bush from which God – Powerful is his name – spoke to Moses.  Above the bush they had a large tower, which still exists today, in which was the church of Martmaryam.  In that tower the monks were accustomed to assemble, and immediately repaired there when any threat hung over them.  The king sent with them one of his men, to whom he gave much money, and he wrote to his prefect in Egypt to give the messenger all the money he asked, to provide men and to send him food from Egypt.  The messenger ordered the building of a church near the Red Sea, the erection of the monastery of Rayah, and the building of the monastery of Mount Sinai, fortifying it so that there was none more protected and more secure, and that there was nowhere above the monastery from which harm to the monastery itself, and the monks, could come.

6. Once he reached the Red Sea, the messenger erected near the Red Sea the church of Mar Athanasius, and built the monastery of Rayah, and he continued to the Mountain of Tur Sīnā where he found the bush in a gorge between two mountains, the tower built on it, in the vicinity of the bush, as well as sources of water that flowed near the bush, and the monks scattered in the valleys.  He thought of erecting the monastery at the top of the mountain, leaving out the site of the tower and the burning bush, but discarded the idea because of the water; because there was no water in the upper part of the mountain.  So he built the monastery above the bush, on the site of the tower, so that the tower itself was inside it.  Thus the monastery found itself between two mountains in a gorge.  If someone climbed to the top of the mountain, to the north, and he threw down a stone, it would fall in the middle of the monastery and could cause damage to the monks.  And yet he built the monastery in that narrow place only because of the bush, the famous ruins and the water.  Then he built a church on top of the mountain, at the place where Moses received the Torah.  The superior of the monastery was called Dula.  When he returned to king Justinian, the messenger spoke of the churches and monasteries that he had built and described how he had built the monastery of Mount Sinai.  The king said to him: “You were wrong, and you have compromised the safety of the monks in exposing them to the mercy of their enemies.  Why did you not build the monastery on top of the mountain?”.  The messenger replied, “I built the monastery above the bush and near the water simply in consideration of the fact that if I built the monastery on top of the mountain, the monks would have remained without water, and that if the people besieged them, and prevented access to water, they would die of thirst.  And also in consideration of the fact that the bush would be away from them.”  The king said to him: “Then you should have broken down the northern slope overlooking the monastery so that the monks could suffer no damage.”  The messenger replied, “Even if we had spent the riches of the land of Rum, Egypt and Syria, we could not achieve what you ask.” The king was enraged with him and ordered them to lop off his head.

7. Then he sent another messenger together with a hundred men chosen from among the slaves of Rum, with their wives and their children, ordering him to take from Egypt another hundred men with their wives and their children, chosen from among the slaves, and to build them houses, out by Tur Sīnā, so that they could establish themselves and guard the monastery and the monks, making sure that they had the necessary means of livelihood, bringing to them and to the monastery enough food from Egypt.  When he arrived at Tur Sīnā, the messenger built, outside the monastery to the east, many homes, the walls of a fortress and settled the slaves there.  They began to protect the monastery and to defend it.  The place is called today “the monastery of the slaves.”  They increased and multiplied over time and during the caliphate of ‘Abd al-Malik b.Marwan Islam was imposed on them, so they attacked each other and fought among themselves; some of them were killed, others fled, others were converted to Islam.  Their descendants still present today in those places, are the Muslims called Banu Salih, also called Ghulmān ad-Dayr  [= servants of the monastery], from which come the Lakhmids.  Following their conversion to Islam, the monks destroyed the houses.

8. In the second year of the reign of Justinian, there was made patriarch of Rome Boniface.  He held the office for two years and died.  In the fourth year of his reign, there was made patriarch of Rome, John.  He held the office for two years and died.  In the sixth year of his reign, there was made patriarch of Rome Aghābiyūs.  He held the office for a year and died.  In the seventh year of his reign, there was made patriarch of Rome Bīlīnariyus.  He held the office for five years and he died.  In the thirteenth year of his reign, there was made patriarch of Rome Vigilius.  He held the office for eighteen years and died.  In his fifteenth year in office there was the Fifth Council.  In the tenth year of his reign, that is, of the reign of Justinian, there was made patriarch of Constantinople Epiphanius.  He was a Jacobite.  He held the office for six years and died.

9. King Justinian wrote a voluminous treatise containing many rulings and laws.  In the seventeenth year of his reign, there was made patriarch of Constantinople Eutychius.  He held the office for twelve years and was deposed.  In his eleventh year in office there was the Fifth Council.  In the fourteenth year of the reign of Justinian, there was made patriarch of Jerusalem, Macarius.  He held the office for two years and died.  In the seventeenth year of his reign, there was made patriarch of Jerusalem Eutychius.  He held the office for twelve years and died.  In his eleventh year in office there was the Fifth Council.  In the fifteenth year of his reign, there was made patriarch of Antioch Domnus.  He held the office for fourteen years and died.  In his thirteenth year in office there was the Fifth Council.  In the time of king Justinian there appeared in the sky a big star that remained there for forty days.  Then there appeared in the sky a spear of fire which remained there for several days.


A new fragment of the “Forma Urbis Romae” discovered!

On a wall in the Forum of Peace in Rome, Septimus Severus erected a huge map of the city, at a scale of about 1:240, on 150 marble slabs, between 203-211 AD.  It was 18 x 13m in size, approximately, and held on with iron pins.  This map is today known as the Forma Urbis Romae.  The wall is still there, at full height, because it was incorporated into the complex of buildings which make up the Church of SS. Cosmas and Damian.  So we can see the marks of the pins there.   However the marble was broken up and taken away during the middle ages.  Only fragments remain today, covering about 10% of the whole.  The first batch were discovered in 1562, and some 1200 are known, mostly held in the Capitoline museum.

Dorothy Lobel King tweets that a new piece has been discovered at excavations at the Palazzo Maffei, far away from its original location.  The press release is here or here (PDF) via here.  It tells us that the fragment was found during excavations:

…in recent years in the interior of the Palazzo Maffei Marescotti, a building with extraterritoriality owned by the Vatican in the Via della Pigna.  The “Vatican” piece now allows a more comprehensive reading of the ancient topography of today’s Ghetto and Teatro Marcellino.

The new fragment relates to plate 31 of the map, which is the present-day area of the Ghetto, one of the monumental areas of the ancient city, dominated by the Circus Flaminius, built in 220 BC to host the Plebeian games, and where a number of important public monuments stood.  Among these still visible today are the portico of Octavia and the Theatre of Marcellus.  As well as a section of the theatre, the new Vatican fragment bears an inscription that completes the word “Circus Flaminius”, connecting to a large piece discovered in 1562.

(I have a map of ancient Rome here; the Circus Flaminius is near the Tiber island, up from the theatre of Marcellus).

Thankfully they also give pictures.  Click on the picture below for fill size.  The new piece is the one to the right.

New fragment of the Forma Urbis Romae showing the Circus Flaminius
New fragment of the Forma Urbis Romae showing the Circus Flaminius

And this zoomed in version:


The new piece is being exhibited for the next month at the Museo dell’Ara Pacis.

See also (via Sarah Bond) the Stanford site which holds the other pieces here, with a schematic of the whole map:



The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 17 (part 2)

A revolt of the Samaritans is put down – Mar Saba requests a reduction in the land tax from Justinian, because Palestine was ruined – Justinian orders that the church of the Nativity in Jerusalem is rebuilt.

3. From the time when Proterius, patriarch of Alexandria, was killed and burned, to the time when Apollinaris killed the Jacobites and the doctrine of the Melkites triumphed, was thirty-five years (In another text it says “eighty-five years”).  [All this happened] because the doctrine of the Jacobites had conquered in Alexandria and throughout Egypt.  The successive patriarchs in Alexandria were in fact Jacobites, and also Jacobites were the kings in the land of Rum, including Leo the less, Zeno, Anastasius and others that we spoke of earlier.  In the twenty-first year of the reign of Justinian the inhabitants of Samaria in Palestine revolted, destroyed and burned all the churches, killed many Christians subjecting them to serious afflictions and put to death the bishop of Nablus.  Hearing of this, the king Justinian sent an great army and many Samaritans were killed.  Then Peter, patriarch of Jerusalem, asked the holy Mar Saba to travel to Constantinople in order to ask the king to lighten the kharāğ<ref>The kharaj or kharatch was the Islamic land-tax, here used for whatever Byzantine tax was its equivalent. kharāğ is apparently the Egyptian form of the word. – RP</ref> on the population of Palestine in view of the damage that the Samaritans had done there.  Mar Saba then went to Constantinople, and great was the joy with which the king received him.  He delivered the letter of the Patriarch of Jerusalem and was asked what he wanted.  Mar Saba said: “I ask you to lighten the kharāğ on Palestine because the Samaritans have exterminated the inhabitants, and have sown destruction.  I would also ask that the king orders the rebuilding of the churches that the Samaritans gave to the fire, that a  hospice for strangers is erected in Jerusalem, and that Eleona, the church begun by Elias, Patriarch of Jerusalem is completed”.  The king granted him this and all he had asked for, he sent with him one of [his] messengers to deal with that everything was done as requested, providing a lot of money.  He then wrote to his prefect in Palestine and ordered him to hand over to the messenger the proceeds of the kharāğ of Palestine, with which to build what the king had ordered.  The king ordered the messenger to demolish the church of Bethlehem, which was small, and to rebuild it more  impressive, big and beautiful, so that there was none more beautiful in Jerusalem.  When the messenger came to Jerusalem he erected a hospice for strangers.  He completed the construction of the church of Eleona, rebuilt the churches which the Samaritans had burned, he built many monasteries, demolished the church of Bethlehem and rebuilt it, just as we see it today.


The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 17 (part 1)

With chapter 17 of the “Annals”, we move into the last chapter of antiquity – the century from Justinian to Heraclius – before the muslim invasions swept away the ancient world altogether.  As with most chroniclers of this time, Eutychius divides his work into two halves, so this is the last chapter of the first half.  It’s a long chapter, tho.  Let’s resume the story of the Eastern Roman Empire, as seen from a distance of five centuries by a man who spoke Arabic but thought of himself as a Greek.  We begin with the ascent of Justinian to the throne.

1. Justin, king of Rum, died.  After him there reigned over Rum, for thirty-nine years, Justinian.  This was in the forty-first year of the reign of Qabād, son of Firuz, king of the Persians.  King Justinian was a relative of king Justin.  In the first year of his reign, the king Justinian sent his messenger to Alexandria and summoned to him, at Constantinople, the patriarch Theodosius, whom he enjoined to renounce the doctrine of the Jacobites and to return to the truth.  But he refused to do so, so [the king] decreed his death.  Theodora, wife of the king, interceded for him, and the king let him go.  [Theodosius] returned to Egypt, where he hid in a place called Masil or al-Lamīdas, villages in western Egypt, continuing to profess the doctrine of the Jacobites and gaining a lot of people to his cause.  Having received news of this, the king sent one of his messengers, and condemned him to exile.  At Alexandria there was made patriarch a man named Paul.  He was a Melkite.  He held the office for two years when the Jacobites rose up against him and killed him, making patriarch in his place a man named Dalmiyūs.  He was a Melkite.  He held the office for five years in between harassment and affliction from the Jacobites.  They tried to kill him, but he fled.  He remained a fugitive for five years until he died.

2. News came to king Justinian that the Jacobites had risen up in Alexandria and in Egypt, and that they were killing every patriarch who was appointed for them.  The king was enraged, he chose one of his generals, made him patriarch of Alexandria, gave him a huge army and sent him there.  Apollinaris was his name.  When he arrived in Alexandria, the general made his entrance wearing the armour of a soldier, as a sign that he entered as the representative of the king.  When he reached the church, he removed the clothes he wore, put on his patriarchal robes, stepped up to the altar and celebrated mass.  The population of Alexandria rose up against him, throwing by hand from every side stones and rocks which almost killed him.  He departed from them that day, but three days later reappeared telling them that he had received a letter from the king, and that he needed to read it to the people.  So he had rung the bells, ordering the population to gather in church on Sunday, in order to listen to the letter of the king.  As that was a Sunday, all the inhabitants of Alexandria, without exception, appeared.  The patriarch Apollinaris had agreed with his men that when a signal was given, they would strike with the sword all who were in the church.  Then he got onto the ambo, or pulpit, and said: “O people of Alexandria, if you return to the truth and abjure the doctrine of the Jacobites, it will be best for you, because I fear that otherwise the King will send against you someone who considers it lawful to pour out your blood, dishonour your women and make your children orphans.”  While he addressed these words to them, they began to stone him, so that he feared for his life.  Then he made to his men the signal agreed, and they began to strike with the sword all who were in church.  Innumerable were those who were killed, in and around the church, and the soldiers sank to their knees in the blood of the people.  A great of the population was able to escape to Wadi Habib, to the monastery of Abu Maqar.  The doctrine of the Melkites was then triumphant.  They recovered the churches that the Jacobites had taken away from them, and they seized theirs, and peace was re-established in the city.  This was in the fifteenth year of the reign of King Justinian.  Since then, the see of the Jacobites has continued to be in the monastery of Abu Maqar.


A hagiographer confesses: “I made it up”

We sometimes wonder just how hagiographical texts came into being.  It’s obvious that the majority are a form of folk-story, rather than accurate narrative.  But wouldn’t it be nice if we actually had some information from the author of such a text?

Today I came across an interesting passage in an otherwise tedious and annoying book by C. W. Jones on Nicholas of Myra.[1]  It concerns a certain Agnellus of Ravenna (born around 805 AD).  My source tells us that he was ordered to write the Lives of all the bishops of Ravenna for eight hundred years.  Part way through, he becomes a bit self-conscious – for his work would naturally be first read aloud to his fellow monks, remember – and writes:

If by any chance you readers should find the treatment in this part of the book vague and should be moved to ask, “Why didn’t he depict the deeds of this pontiff as he did his predecessors?” listen to my reasons: I, Agnellus, likewise called Andrew, lowly priest of my holy Church of Ravenna, have put together this book which covers nearly eight hundred years or more from the time of the death of the blessed Apollinaris, by inquiry and research among the brothers of the see. Wherever I found material that they were sure about, I have presented it to you; and anything that I have heard from the elderly gray-beards I have not withheld from you.

Where I could not uncover a story or determine what kind of a life they led, either from the most aged or from inscriptions or from any other source, to avoid a blank place in my list of holy pontiffs in their due order according to their ordination to the see one after the other, I have with the assistance of God through your prayers invented a Life for them. And I believe that no deception is involved; for they were chaste and almsgiving preachers and procurers of men’s souls for God.

If any among you should wonder how I was able to create what I have written down, you should know that a picture taught me. Images were always made in their likeness in their lifetime. To anyone who may raise a question about whether a picture is sufficient warrant for a description, St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, in his Passion of the Blessed Martyrs Gervase and Protasius, says of the description he drew of blessed Paul the Apostle, “A picture taught me his features.”

Deeply dubious, of course: but very interesting.

Jones tells us that he translated this from “MGH, Scriptores Rerum Langobardicarum, p.277” which (thankfully) is online at the Bavarian Staatsbibliothek here (and it is possible to download the whole work in PDF).  The text, “Agnelli liber pontificalis ecclesiae Ravennatis”, begins at that page number, but that doesn’t give us the passage above.  It is in fact to be found on p.297, in chapter 32:

Et si aliqua aesitatio vobis hunc Pontificalem legentibus fuerit, et volueritis inquirere dicentes: ‘Cur non istius facta pontificis narravit, sicut de ceteris praedecessoribus’? audite, ob hanc causam: Hunc praedictum Pontificalem, a tempore beati Apolenaris post eius decessum pene annos 800 et amplius, ego Agnellus qui et Andreas, exiguus sanctae meae huius Ravennatis ecclesiae presbiter, rogatus et coactus a fratribus ipsius sedis, composui. Et ubi inveni, quid illi certius fecerunt, vestris aspectibus allata sunt, et quod per seniores et longaevos audivi, vestris oculis non defraudavi; et ubi istoriam non inveni, aut qualiter eorum vita fuisset, nec per annosos et vetustos homines, neque per haedificationem, neque per quamlibet auctoritatem, ne intervallum sanctorum pontificum fieret, secundum ordinem, quomodo unus post alium hanc sedem optinuerunt, vestris orationibus me Deo adiuvante, illorum vitam composui, et credo non mentitum esse, quia et horatores fuerunt castique et elemosinarii et Deo animas hominum adquisitores. De vero illorum effigie si forte cogitatio fuerit inter vos, quomodo scire potui: sciatis, me pictura docuit, quia semper fiebant imagines suis temporibus ad illorum similitudinem. Et si altercatio ex picturis fuerit, quod adfirmare eorum effigies debuissem: Ambrosius Mediolanensis sanctus antistes in Passione beatorum martirum Gervasii et Protasii de beati Pauli apostoli effigie cecinit dicens: ‘Cuius vultum me pictura docuerat’.

The MGH editor helpfully adds that the reference to Ambrose is a Passion of Saints Gervase and Protasius, the text of which may be found in the Acta Sanctorum 19. Jun., III, 821 (I apologise for the lunatic organisation of the Acta Sanctorum series by saint’s day, volume – many volumes for each day – and then page number), but which “is falsely set forth under the name of St Ambrose”.

It is useful to know of at least one example of a dark ages writer who honestly admits to inventing the stuff.

  1. [1]Charles W. Jones, Saint Nicholas of Myra, Bari and Manhattan, p.48.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 16 (part 5 and last)

This next portion of the Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c.), also known as Sa`id ibn Batriq, starts with three theological paragraphs.  Since I don’t actually understand the points at issue here, even in English, it isn’t possible for me to translate them; and I doubt many of us are interested in them.  The three paragraphs appear to be interpolated by an editor.

18. Sa`īd ibn Batriq, the doctor said: “It seemed appropriate here to refute the Jacobites and show the falsity and absurdity of their doctrine. … [Also 19 and 20].

21. But let us return to the point in the history where we stopped.  When Severus, Patriarch of Antioch, died, there was made patriarch of Antioch Paul.  He held the office for five years and died (In another text it says “for two years”).  After him there was made patriarch of Antioch Ifrūsinūs.  He held the office for five years and he died.  That was in the twentieth year of the reign of Anastasius, king of Rum.  In the twenty-third year of his reign, that is, after Elias, Patriarch of Jerusalem, had been deposed, the people of Palestine and Jerusalem met serious afflictions: famine, pestilence, a great epidemic, [an invasion of] many grasshoppers and death, and it did not rain for five years.  In the fifth year of the drought the shortage of water in Jerusalem was so great that the spring of Siloam dried up, and the population began to dig everywhere without finding a bit of water.  There was a terrible earthquake in Antioch, many houses collapsed and many people perished.  Five years after Elias, Patriarch of Jerusalem, had been exiled to the city of Aylah, the superiors of the monasteries, including Saba, went to the Patriarch Elias in the city of Aylah.  The Patriarch Elias welcomed them with great joy, and they stayed with him for seven days.  Then he said, “The king Anastasius has just now died.  I will join him in ten days, and contend with him in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ten days after, the Patriarch Elias died, at the age of eighty-eight, after being Patriarch for twenty-four years.  It is said that St Saba kept in mind the time [specified by Elias], and then having asked about the king Anastasius, the answer was that at that moment there fell on Constantinople lightning, followed by a terrible thunder from which the King Anastasius reported a discomfort in his brain: clutching his head in his hands, crying and asking for help and running from apartment to apartment, he received God’s punishment, and it killed him.  Before dying, the king Anastasius had written a letter, [found] in his possession, to remove St. Theodosius, the founder of the monastery of ad-Dawākis, from Jerusalem.  But the king Anastasius died before sending the letter to Jerusalem.

22. After him there reigned over Rum Justin, from the province of Thrace, for nine years. This happened in the thirty-second year of the reign of Qabād, son of Firuz, king of the Persians.  King Justin was of the Orthodox faith, a believer in the truth.  He ordered restored to their own places everyone that the king Anastasio had exiled and he sent an edict to Jerusalem in which he set forth his faith.  The monks were reunited with cries of joy, and made publicly available the edict of the king, which they celebrated with a magnificent feast and they confirmed the fourth council of six hundred bishops who had gathered at Chalcedon.  In the fifth year of the reign of Justin there was made patriarch of Rome, John.  He held the office for two years and died.  In the seventh year of his reign there was made patriarch of Rome Felix.  He held the office for four years and died.  In the second year of his reign there was made patriarch of Alexandria Theodosius.  He was a Jacobite and a Katib.  He held the office for three years and was deposed.  In his place there was made patriarch of Alexandria Ghābiyūs.  He was a Manichean and archdeacon.  He held the office for two years and was deposed.  Then Theodosius was reinstated in his office.  He held the office for five years, was deposed and died.  In the first year of his reign he was told that Antimus, the patriarch of Constantinople, was a Jacobite.  He removed him and in his place he made Menna Patriarch of Constantinople. He held the office for eighteen years and died.  In the fifth year of his reign Ephrem was made patriarch of Antioch. He held the office for eighteen years and died.  John, Patriarch of Jerusalem, who had taken the place of the deposed Elias, held the office for seven years and he died.

In the third year of the reign of Justin, Peter, a native of Bayt Gibrīh, was made patriarch of Jerusalem.  He held the office for ten years and died (In another text it says, “for twenty years and died”).  King Justin sent an edict to all countries, providing that everyone should profess the faith promulgated by the Chalcedonian council.


From my diary

I’m now on a much needed holiday, and I have been disposing of various minor tasks.  My long-serving inkjet failed at the weekend – well, it was 12 years old! – and had to be replaced, so that I could fulfil an order for a CD of the Additional Fathers collection.  This CD needs revising and modernising, but not right now.

I have prepared an electronic text of the Latin of John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas; but I find that I really can’t find any enthusiasm for doing a translation at the moment.

Jones’ “biography” of St Nicholas of Myra has arrived, but likewise I don’t feel like opening the covers at the moment.  I was amused, however, by the bookseller, who called himself “Caveat Emptor”!

My next priority is to avoid as many tasks as possible, and get out into the open air!


Did Constantine put the Jews to death at Passover? A passage in Eutychius

In a comment here on an old post, an interesting question is raised:

Hi, do you have a translation of Patrologiae Graeca 111, pages 1012-13 where Eutychius talks about how Constantine killed the Jewish Christians on Passover?

The link is to column (not page) 1012 in PG 111.

Doing a google search for a source for this claim – which it is always prudent to do -, I found this Israeli page which said the following:

“From the late account of Eutychius (Patrologia Graeca 111, 1012-13) that, just at this time [333 C.E.], the faithful while they were leaving the church on E*aster day, were forced to eat pork under pain of death. We know how the Judeo-Christians refused this in order not to transgress the Mosaic law to which they held they were bound” (Bagatti, p. 14).

Bellarmino Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision (Yerushâlayim, Franciscan Press 1971), pp. 13-14.

I found it quite interesting that Bagatti was published by Franciscan Press, as they published the translation of Eutychius into Italian, and I bought my own copy of it from their bookshop in Jerusalem.

Now Eutychius of Alexandria was the Melkite patriarch of Alexandria in the 10th century AD and wrote his Annals in Arabic.  It was translated into Latin in the 17th century by Edward Pococke; and Migne has reprinted Pococke’s translation.

The passage does, of course, appear in Bartolomeo Pirone’s modern Italian translation of the Annals.  Rather than translate Pococke’s Latin, based on who knows what text, let’s look at Pirone’s Italian, chapter 11, section 20, p.203:

20. Il re Costantino diede disposizione che nessun giudeo abitasse a Gerusalemme né che vi transitasse e ordinò inoltre di mettere a morte tutti coloro che si fossero  rifiutati di farsi  cristiani (58). Moltissimi pagani e Giudei abbracciarono allora la fede cristiana ed il cristianesimo prese ovunque piede. Fu poi riferito al re Costantino che i Giudei si erano fatti cristiani per paura di essere uccisi ma che continuavano a seguire la  loro religione. Il re disse: “Come potremo saperlo?”. Paolo, patriarca di Costantinopoli, gli disse: “La Torah proibisce Idi mangiarel il maiale ed è per questo motivo che i Giudei non ne mangiano la carne. Ordina quindi di far sgozzare dei maiali, che ne vengano cotte le carni e siano date da mangiare ai membri di questa comunità. In tal modo si potrà scoprire che sono ancora legati alla loro religione tutti coloro che si rifiuteranno di mangiarne”. Il re Costantino replicò. “Ma se la Torah proibisce il maiale, come mai è invece lecito a noi mangiarne la carne e farla mangiare agli altri?”. Il  patriarca Paolo gli rispose: “Devi sapere che Cristo, nostro Signore, ha abrogato tutte le disposizioni della Torah e ci ha dato una nuova Legge che è il Vangelo. Egli ha detto nel santo vangelo: “Non tutto quello che entra per la bocca contamina l’uomo (ed intendeva  dire: ogni cibo). Quello che contamina l’uomo è solo quanto esce dalla sua bocca” (59), ossia la  stoltezza e l’empietà e tutto quanto è a ciò simile. Anche l’apostolo Paolo ha così detto nella sua prima lettera ai Corinzi: “Il cibo è per il ventre e il ventre è per il cibo, ma Dio distruggerà entrambi” (60).  Ed è anche scritto nella Praxis: “Pietro, capo degli Apostoli, si trovava nella città di Giaffa (61) in casa di un conciatore di nome Simone. All’ora sesta del giorno salì sulla terrazza di casa per pregare, ma un sonno profondo cadde su di lui e vide il  cielo aprirsi. Dal cielo vide scendere fino a toccar terra un manto in  cui c’era ogni specie di quadrupedi, di bestie feroci, di mosche e di uccelli del cielo, e sentì una voce che gli diceva: “O Pietro, alzati, uccidi e mangia”. Pietro rispose: “O Signore, non ho mai mangiato alcunché di immondo”.  Ma una seconda voce gli disse: “Mangia, ciò che Dio ha purificato tu non ritenerlo immondo”. La voce lo ripetè per tre volte. Poi il  manto fu riportato in cielo” (62). Pietro ne restò meravigliato e si chiedeva perplesso cosa potesse significare l’accaduto. Ma per quella visione e per ciò che Cristo nostro Signore ha detto nel santo vangelo, Pietro e  Paolo ci  hanno ordinato di mangiare la  carne  di ogni quadrupede e perciò ci è lecito mangiare carne di maiale e di ogni altro animale”. Il  re allora ordinò di ammazzare dei maiali, di cuocerne le carni e di farle mettere alle porte delle chiese in tutto il suo regno nella domenica di pasqua. A chiunque usciva dalla chiesa veniva dato un boccone di carne di maiale e chi si rifiutava di mangiarlò veniva ucciso. Fu cosÌ che molti Giudei furono uccisi in quella circostanza. Costantino fece erigere un muro attorno a Bisanzio e la chiamò Costantinopoli. Ciò avveniva nel suo trentesimo anno di regno. Elena, madre di Costantino, morì all’età di ottanta anni. Costantino regnò  per trentadue anni e morì. Era vissuto in  tutto sessanta cinque anni: Lasciò tre  figli.  Al maggiore aveva dato il suo nome, Costantino, aveva chiamato il secondo con il  nome di suo  padre, Costanzo, ed  il  terzo  l’aveva  chiamato Costante (63).  A Costantino assegnò  la  città di Costantinopoli, a Costanzo Antiochia, la Siria e l’Egitto, e a Costante Roma.

This I translated here:

20. The King Constantine gave orders that no Jew should live in Jerusalem or pass through it, and he also ordered to put to death all those who refused to become Christians (58). Many pagans and Jews then embraced the Christian faith and Christianity took root everywhere.  It was then told to king Constantine that the Jews had become Christians for fear of being killed but that they continued to follow their religion.  The king said: “How will we know?” Paul, the patriarch of Constantinople, said: “The Torah forbids [eating] pork and it is for this reason that the Jews do not eat meat. Order that the throats of pigs be cut, that the meat should be cooked, and fed to the members of this community.  In this way you will find that all those who refuse to eat are still tied to their religion.” King Constantine replied. “But if the Torah forbids the pig, why is lawful for us to eat its flesh and make others eat it?”. Patriarch Paul replied: “You must know that Christ our Lord, repealed all provisions of the Torah and gave us a new law which is the Gospel. He said in the Holy Gospel: “Not everything that enters the mouth defiles a man (and he meant any food). What defiles a man is just what comes out of his mouth” (59), i.e. folly and wickedness, and all that is similar to this. The apostle Paul said so in his first letter to the Corinthians: “Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will destroy both” (60). And it is also written in the Acts: “Peter, chief of the Apostles, was in the city of Jaffa (61) in the house of a tanner named Simon. At the sixth hour of the day he went out on the terrace of the house to pray, but a deep sleep fell upon him and saw the sky open. From the sky he saw a mantle descend to earth in which there was every kind of quadruped, wild beasts, flying things and birds of the air, and he heard a voice saying: ‘O Peter, get up, kill and eat.’ Peter replied: ‘O Lord, I have never eaten anything unclean.’ But a second time the voice said: ‘Eat, what God has cleansed you must not consider unclean.’ The voice repeated it three times. Then the mantle was taken back into heaven.” (62) Peter was amazed and wondered what it meant. Because of that vision and because of what Christ our Lord said in the Holy Gospel, Peter and Paul ordered us to eat the flesh of every quadruped and therefore it is not wrong to eat pork or any other animal.”The king then ordered him to kill the pigs, cook the meat and put it at the doors of the churches in all his kingdom on Easter Sunday.  To everyone coming out of the church a bite of pork was given, and those who refused to eat it were killed.  Thus it was that many Jews were killed in that circumstance.  Constantine erected a wall around Byzantium and called Constantinople.  This was in his thirtieth year of the reign.  Helena, mother of Constantine, died at the age of eighty years. Constantine reigned for thirty-two years and died.  He lived in all for sixty-five years. He left three children.  The first was given his name, Constantine, he had called the second with the name of his father, Constantius, and the third was called Constans (63).  To Constantine he gave the city of Constantinople, to Constantius Antioch, Syria and Egypt, and Rome to Constans.

The historical value of this anecdote, complete with “he said, he said”, is probably nothing, at a distance of 7 centuries.  Constantine did not force pagans to become Christians, and indeed paganism remained the state religion for another 50 years.


A challenge for Greek language nerds! What do you make of *this*?!

One of the texts for St Nicholas of Myra is a beast and a monster.  No matter how good your Greek is, it is bafflingly hard.  Part of the problem is that it is written in a poetic style – the editor, Anrich, even marks the cadences with <> marks!  The opening section is highly rhetorical and windy; even the narrative portion, telling the tale of the three virgins for whom Nicholas found dowries, is difficult.

David Miller had a go at it, and has produced the following: but if you reckon yourself a Greek whizz, then why not see if you can work out what’s going on with the text?  David writes:

Anyway, speed of work on this was about twice as slow as on the previous ones, even with leaving seven places where I have had to take a guess from the context at meanings which were out of my reach.  I suggest that, as it’s only for your blog, you could put this bit up, complete with my notes about those seven places, and invite anyone who knows more to contribute their solutions.

Here’s the page images from Anrich’s edition:

And here is David’s final version of the translation, after much discussion in the comments.  Any further comments are very welcome!

David’s first encounter with the text produced the following email, which I reproduce for the benefit of others who may walk this way:

Now, as for Methodius ad Theodorum:

I’ve reached, in rough, halfway through para.2 (“Heimat”) – far enough to try a bit of it out on you, to see if it really is the sort of stuff you want.

Note first that, as the bit of Greek embedded in Anrich’s introduction reveals, it is designed as a poem (ποιημα).  The angle brackets that disfigure the text passim are the cadences, marked by Anrich in accordance with Meyer’s Sentence-end Law (intro. para.2), and therefore, I suggest, nothing whatever to do with us, even if I could reproduce them.

The whole of the first paragraph is the sort of wordy grovelling that you see in the preface of 17th/18th cent. English treatises, designed to flatter the dedicatee;  it expresses the author’s intention to please him by giving up writing encomia, and writing narrative instead.

Here’s the start of para.2:

“O Nicholas, God’s servant, vessel containing the perfume of the [all-holy and lifegiving] Spirit;  flower, shoot and root of the Myrans, and their fragrance, lily-white in pre-eminence, adorned like a violet in public life, red as a rose in truthfulness, greener even than the buds in self-control, and with your head crowned in grey; you have toiled to the uttermost at your work, making light of the body but keeping the spirit tightly strung, bedewed with purity and alive [lit. “foaming”] with zeal ….”  [incidentally we have yet to reach a verb – I stuck in “you have toiled” in place of the participle because I could hold out no longer – and I should probably be putting “thou” for “you”, in an attempt to reach the distant heights of Methodius’ language, which he claimed in par.1 was going to be plain and clear]

It all sounds very, um, Byzantine!