The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18f – the reign of Muawiyah

The murder of Ali ends the rule of the companions of Mohammed and ushers in the reign of the first of the Ummayad dynasty.

Caliphate of Muawiyah I (41-60 / 661-680)

1. Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyān advanced from Syria into Iraq and was [there] given the bay‘ah.[1]  His name was Sakhr ibn Harb b. Umayya b. Abd Shams.  Mu’awiya’s mother was Hind, daughter of Utba ibn Rabi`a b. Abd Shams [b. Abd Manaf].  His appointment as caliph occurred in the month of rabi` al-awwal in the forty-first year of the Hegira, in the tenth year of the reign of Constantine, the son of Constantine, King of Rum.  He ruled for nineteen years and five months.

2. In the second year of his caliphate there was made patriarch of Constantinople George.  He held the office for ten years and he died.  In his second year in office there was the Sixth Council.  The Patriarch of Rome was then Martin, and the Exarch who ruled the West in the name of King Constantine, was a man named Constans.  He was a Maronite and put pressure on Martin, patriarch of Rome to profess that doctrine.  But Martin refused energetically and Constans banished him to a remote town.

3. There lived in those days a holy monk named Maximus, who had two disciples.  He went to the exarch Constans, reproached him with the indecency of his doctrine and of his religion and showed him how horrible was his faith and how stubborn his wickedness.  Constans then took Maximus, cut off his hands and feet, tore out his tongue, and banished him to a remote place.  He then took one of his disciples and treated him the same way, while the other he had flogged; then he exiled them to remote places, far away from each other.  After treating in this way the patriarch Martin, Maximus and his two disciples, Constans made patriarch of Rome a man of eminent virtues named Diyūnus.  When the orthodox King Constantine learned of the death of Theodore, patriarch of Rome, and what Constans had done to the patriarch Martin, to the monk Maximus and his two disciples, as well as the appointment of Diyūnus as Patriarch of Rome, he disapproved of what had happened and sent a letter to the patriarch accompanied with a ‘sigilius’, asking him to send to him the most distinguished bishops who participated with him at the same altar, assuring him that he need not be afraid of anything.  Constantine did this because he knew the cause of these excuses contrary to the doctrine of the church and who had originated them, just as the council of the holy Fathers had anathematized those who were not found worthy.

4. The king’s messenger arrived in Rome and found that Diyūnus was dead.  There had been made Patriarch of Rome, after him, Aghābiyūs.  So he gave the letter to the patriarch Aghābiyūs.  Aghābiyūs convoked the bishops.  They were around one hundred and twenty, and he sent them with the messenger from the king along with three deacons who communicated at his own altar.  And they came to Constantinople, the bishops were received by King Constantine, made him their greetings and blessings.  Constantine summoned [another] hundred and sixty eight bishops, and so there were around two hundred and ninety-two.  The three deacons sent by Aghābiyūs, patriarch of Rome, were subtracted and there remained two hundred and ninety bishops.  They are mentioned thus in the diptych.  By the help of the goodness of God and by the elevation of the meekness of Constantine the orthodox king, this issue was resolved with a judgment against the Monothelites, who were anathematised.  There presided at this holy synod George, patriarch of Constantinople, and Theophanes, patriarch of Antioch, who was made Patriarch at that council as Macarius, his predecessor, was excommunicated at the council itself.  Alexandria and Jerusalem had at that time no patriarch and the two sees were vacant.  Anathematised were Macarius, Macedonius and George, patriarchs of Antioch, and Stephen, a disciple of Macarius; also excommunicated were Cyrus and Peter, patriarchs of Alexandria; excommunicated was Honorius, Patriarch of Rome; excommunicated were Sergius, Tūdrus, Paul and Peter, the patriarchs of Constantinople, Theodore, bishop of Faran, and Blūkhrūniyūs, called Simon Magus, because he was a heretical Syrian priest who claimed to have seen Christ tell him in a dream that the Monothelites were in the right.  At that time he was present at Constantinople, after the final ruling against the Monothelites was published, and he had started talking about what he had seen in a dream, advocating the cause of the Monothelites.  They excommunicated him so he and his followers rejected the false allegations and the people called him Simon Magus.  They finished pronouncing the anathemas against the Monothelites, continued sitting, and settled what was the true faith, orthodox, pure and blameless saying: “We believe in the One of the Trinity, the Only-begotten Son, who is the eternal and everlasting Word, equal to the Father, God in one person, and in a unique hypostasis, must be considered perfect in humanity and perfect in divinity, in substance that is our Lord Jesus Christ, with two perfect natures, two operations and two wills in one person.”  Also they professed what was already professed by the Council of Chalcedon namely that God’s Son received by the holy virgin Martmaryam a human body with a rational soul and intellect, by the mercy of God who loves men, without suffering mixture nor corruption nor separation or division, but remaining one in doing both what man does in his nature and in his doing what God does in his nature.  He is the only begotten Son, the eternal Word who became flesh and truly took shape, as the Holy Gospel, without losing any of his eternal glory and without changing it, but keeping it integrated in two operations, two wills and two natures, God and Man in which is perfected the discourse of truth.  And each of the two natures work in communion with the other, with two wills not contrary or opposed to each other, but the human will remaining in accord with the omnipotent divine will.  If the Word of God in the act of incarnation had not become a perfect man in every part, our salvation would be a phantasm and a shadow.  How could the doer of good, the wise doctor who truly heals, as the prophet Malachi says: “He will stand as the sun of justice for those who fear the name, will heal them and carry them on his wings”, take upon himself the ancient defeat of the created and consent that in his power, in his will and in his power there was the first sin of man?  And as this was done without any compulsion, we see the Lord who is the object of the Father’s pleasure, the Son who alone is free, not a slave but who even became a servant for our salvation, giving us victory over those who were vainly uttering and saying that Adam sinned by necessity, that his sin did not depend at all on his own will and that his nature did not have a free power with which prevent it from falling.  With these their words, the proponents of this doctrine, in particular, and all those who share it, trace the sin and the lack to God the Creator – who is immensely beyond anything – and justify Adam in his sin.  Indeed, according to this their doctrine, the whole human race continues to sin, because it is forced to.  We, however, maintain that Adam was able to observe the commandment of his Creator and could also reject the advice of the woman, but he would not do so;  he accepted and ate the fruit picked from the tree and that the woman handed him with her hand, and the woman accepted the advice of the snake not under constraint by nature, but because of weakness of mind.  It was the greed of the will on the part of the first two creatures, i.e. Adam and Eve, to provoke that from which they obtained the painful wound and at the same time the healing, because our Lord Jesus Christ took upon himself our infirmities and our sorrows, as said the prophet Isaiah: “We saw him and he had no form or comeliness and was despised and cast aside, he shared our infirmities and took our sorrows, he through whose wounds we were all healed.  Because like a sheep he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and he stood silent before the shearers, but in his humiliation his judgment was exalted.”  Understand, now, children of the church of God, what is the true doctrine, and that is that Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, has two perfect natures, two wills and two operations in what is actually one person.

This is the profession and the symbol of faith of the sixth council. In it [the Fathers] confirmed what was established by the five previous holy councils, anathematising those whom they had excommunicated and driving [out of the church] the ones that they had driven out.  They set forth the doctrine of Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, welcomed this and confirmed it.

All these things were accomplished with the help of God and the presence of the orthodox King Constantine.  They invoked God for him, and then everyone returned to their own homes.  This was the thirteenth year of the reign of Constantine, the fourth year of the caliphate of Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyān. From the fifth council, in which there was one hundred and sixty bishops gathered in Constantinople in the time of Justinian, the king of Rum, to this sixth council of two hundred and ninety bishops gathered in Constantinople in the time of Constantine, King of Rum, there had passed a hundred years.  Since this controversy had its own epilogue at the time of S. Aghābiyūs, patriarch of Rome, the inhabitants of Syria and Egypt since then took to mentioning the name of Aghābiyūs, patriarch of Rome, in their diptychs, which today they still do.

5. Constantine, the orthodox King, died after a reign of sixteen years.  After him reigned over Rum his son Justinian for twelve years.  This happened in the eighth year of the caliphate of Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyān.  There were presented to Justinian, king of Rum, some people saying: “In the city there are those who find fault with the Sixth Council which your father Constantine kept to, and assert that it is void.”  Justinian then summoned hundred and thirty bishops, confirmed what the sixth council had asserted and anathematised those who resumed and contradicted the decisions; also they confirmed what was claimed by the previous five councils, they excommunicated those whom [the bishops of such councils] had already excommunicated and they returned each to his own home.  In the seventh year of the Caliphate of Mu’awiya there was made patriarch of Jerusalem, John.  He held the office forty years and died.  From the death of Sophronius to the appointment of John the see of Jerusalem was left without a Patriarch for twenty-nine years.  After ten years in office there also died George, the patriarch of Constantinople.  In the twelfth year of the caliphate of Mu’awiya there was made patriarch of Constantinople Thomas.  He held the office for ten years (in another text it says “twenty”) and died.  In the twenty-third year of the caliphate of Mu’awiya, Maslama ibn Mukhallad al-Ansāri added the minaret to the structure of the mosque of Fustat, built by Amr ibn al-As, putting his name on it.  During the caliphate of Mu’awiya the island of Rhodes was captured and taken from the Rum.  Also during his caliphate, in the fiftieth year of the Hegira, there was a solar eclipse so intense that you could see the stars.

6. Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyān died in the month of Ragab in the sixtieth year of the Hegira, at the age of eighty years.  Mu’awiya was obese, had a big posterior, and was short of stature; he had a stentorian voice, bulging eyes, a wide chest and a thick beard which he dyed with visto (?)[2].  He was buried in Damascus.  The leaders of his bodyguard were first Yazid ibn al-Hurr al-Ansi, then Qays ibn Hamza al-Hamdāni, then ad-Dahhak ibn Qays al-Fahri. His ‘hāgib’ was the freedman Riyah.

  1. [1]Islamic oath of allegiance.  The sense is that the Muslims swore allegiance to Muawiyah.
  2. [2]I don’t know what this Italian means: “ed una folta barba che tingeva di visto”?

6 thoughts on “The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18f – the reign of Muawiyah

  1. Maybe because visto is not Italian. In the Arabic it is bi’l-wistati, too. It is unvocalised so this is just my guess.

    I wonder if it is a spelling error for bi’l-wâsiṭi, “in the middle”. I’ve often been complaining here how rotten the standard edition is.

  2. re the eclipse: Tabari mentions, from Muḥammad b. ʿUmar al-Wâqidî, that it was 50 AH and that the stars came out. Problem: there was no such eclipse in that year.

    There was, however, an annular eclipse 7 December 51 / 671. This late in the year it would certainly have darkened the skies at least in upper Egypt, Tripolitania, and southern Arabia.

  3. These letters are starting to show more of the falsehood in the later parts of Eutychius’ narrative of events. Earlier in his narrative after the reign of Diocletian he said that Constantine the Great reigned for 32 years now he says that the same Constantine reigned for 16 years and was followed by his son Justinian the Elder.

    How odd is this as earlier in his narrative he placed the reign of Justinian the Elder after Anastasius, and Zeno who supposedly reigned before him. According to mainstream history Zeno was to rule right around the time that the Western Roman Empire fell in 476 AD. As Christ died in 30 AD that would mean 446 years had passed from Christ’s crucifixion to the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

    The numbers in Eutychius’ histories aren’t adding up…

  4. Not to worry Roger I’m not blaming you for the numbers being scrambled as your work has clearly shown for itself that you’re remaining faithful to your word on simply giving a general sense of the Italian translation of Annales. Actually it’s refreshing to talk with a modern day scribe!

    You’ve been very transparent with your work and it shows. While Google Translate has been known to mangle things I noticed they’ve gotten much better when translating whole websites.

  5. This history of Eutychius was very challenging to read as my knowledge on Arabic history is like that of a newborn babe: still on the nipple I’m afraid lol! My knowledge of Eastern and Western Roman is just as a bit stronger, but Roman Empire and Republic are stronger as I read about them in the Bible, Tacitus, and Livy. As for the Greeks I only know what was spoken of by Herodotus, Plutarch, and bit from Thucydides…whatever I know of Alexander is from ‘The Gests of Alexander of Macedon’, the Bible, and The Maccabees; and as regards Persian history I’ve read from the Bible and Xenophon’s ‘Cyropaedia’; and finally whatever I know of Babylon comes from Herodotus, the Bible, Josephus, and the Book of Judith.

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