From my diary

I’m busy still with translating Eutychius.  We’re nearly at the end of the raw translation work.  Once that is done, then I need to go through the material, add a minimum number of footnotes, assemble it into a single file and write some kind of introduction.  I also need to indicate the relationship to a manuscript which may be the autograph, discovered in Sinai some years ago.

I’ve been purging my books.  This evening I discovered one of the hazards of this.  I wanted to consult Albrecht Berger’s Accounts of Medieval Constantinople: The Patria.  I couldn’t remember the name or title.  It did not seem to be on my shelves, although I knew that I had once owned a copy.  Nor could I find it on my disk.  Nor could I even find the book using Google, nor was it in Wikipedia.  Eventually I found it in Amazon, and, once I knew what the cover looked like, I saw it in a pile of books intended for disposal to charity.  I have no idea why it was there.

It would be more useful in PDF form, in truth.  I wanted to search through it for references to a statue of Hera that once stood in the Forum of Constantine, and was melted down for cash by the renegade army originally hired for the Fourth Crusade.  But in paper form this is impossible.

I still have lots of books that I never read.  Novels that once meant much, but that now I may never read again.  I can’t dispose of them – especially those I knew as a child – but I don’t need to fill my shelves with them.  I shall store them in a cupboard, I think.

I’ve also been taking part in some discussions on the date of Minucius Felix in the comments for a blog, of a kind that hardly exists any more.  This has been very pleasant to do, even if many of the other commenters are somewhat eccentric.  It has been interesting to discover that a German monograph in 1967 has completely settled the date as post-dating Tertullian.  I ought to write all this up some time.

Two translation projects are still happening, somewhere.  Some selections from Eusebius’ Commentary on the Psalms are nearly done.  A translation of an early Life of St George is still in progress.  I have had no time to attend to either, however.



7 thoughts on “From my diary

  1. Yes, I for one would be very interested in reading what you’ve learned about the dating of Minucius Felix.

  2. You refer, I assume, to the excellent Bavarian Academy monograph by Carl Becker? It really is very good on Minucius Felix, though he quite underrates the literary quality of Cyprian’s Ad Donatum.

    Also essential on Minucius Felix are two contributions by Hermann Dessau, which you may know. In them, Dessau argues for identifying Caecilius with a certain Caecilius Natalis attested on an inscription from Cirta. Now, that man was a pagan as an adult, which does not fit the tenor of Octavius–written, after all, as a memorial to the now-dead Octavius, it would hardly succeed if Caecilius, grown to full maturity, had turned back to his old gods. Dessau’s argument also depends on taking Caecilius’ reference to Fronto as ‘Cirtensis noster’ as a proof that they were both natives of Cirta. That is doubtful, as Anton Elter pointed out not long after the appearance of Dessau’s second article; Elter’s arguments are, as I recollect, a bit eccentric: he wanted, if my dim recollection is accurate, to demonstrate that Octavius was aimed mostly at a Christian audience. Not convincing, but Christoph Schubert, author of the big Herder commentary on the dialogue, has revived a more circumspect version of the case, to better effect.

    I provide the JSTOR links for Dessau’s pieces, but I suspect that you could find them somewhere online, as those volumes of Hermes ought to be in the public domain.

    Dessau, H., ‘Über einige Inschriften aus Cirta’, Hermes, 15/3 (1880), pp. 471–4.
    — ‘Minucius Felix und Caecilius Natalis’, Hermes, 40/3 (1905), pp. 373–86.

    Elter, A., Prolegomena zu Minucius Felix (Bonn, 1909).

    Schubert, C., ‘Heiden oder Christen? Das Zielpublikum von Minucius Felix’ Octavius’, in id. and A. von Stockhausen (eds.), Ad veram religionem reformare: Frühchristliche Apologetik zwischen Anspruch und Wirklichkeit (Erlanger Forschungen, Reihe A, Geisteswissenschaften 109, Erlangen, 2006), pp. 123–46.

  3. Hmm. I left a rather lengthy comment on this post yesterday. Did it get eaten by the spam-filter? It was on Minucius Felix; I’d be happy, if I find the time, to reconstitute something like it, but I thought I’d ask before then.

  4. Ah you know more than I do. The “Cirtensis noster” as a reference to Fronto is the crux of the “early date” argument, that much I know.

  5. This would be a long term project to enter all your books, but I have a nifty little library program named Readerware. It’s relatively inexpensive and easy to use. I catalog my books and journals/magazines and all my videos. I purchased a copy about 10 yours ago and it has been a lifesaver for locating things. Of course, I have to remember to put the book back where it belongs or the whole thing is useless. Here’s the link:

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