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.


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