Périclès-Pierre Joannou (1904-1972) and French translations of canons of ancient councils

I opened up a stray word document on my desktop, and found in it the beginnings of a translation of the letter of Bishops Aurelius and Mizzonius, prefixed to the Breviarium Hipponense.  The latter document is a summary of the decisions of the council of Hippo in 393.  I soon discovered why I had stalled – the sentence structures are awful.  Inevitably I wondered whether some other poor soul had made his way through it, and started to google.  This produced few useful results, but led me to a preview of something by Hartmann, The History of Byzantine and Eastern Canon Law to 1500 (2012).  Hartmann discussed the Council of Carthage in 419; and from it I learned that there was a translation in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series (series 2, vol. 14); and also a French translation in “Joannou, CSP 197-436”.  Maybe these dealt with Hippo?

But “Joannou” rang no bells at all.  The preview did not indicate the meaning of this abbreviation. Nor did Google reveal much.

In fact the work referred to is this:

“Joannou CCO/CSP/CPG” = Périclès‑Pierre Joannou, Discipline génèrale antique (IIe–IXe s.), 1.1: Les canons des conciles oecuméniques (IIe–IXe s.), 1.2: Les canons des synodes particuliers (IVe–IXe s.); 2: Les canons des pères greques, 3: Index.  (4 volumes; Codification canonique orientale, Fonti, Série 1; Rome-Grottaferrata 1962–1964).

It’s a four volume compilation.  In fact some photocopies of the volumes can be found online too, at Archive.org.

The volumes are mingled Latin and Greek, with a French translation at the foot of the page.  They must have involved tremendous labour.

But who was Périclès‑Pierre Joannou?  I found a couple of brief statements:

Perikles-Petros Joannou; Byzantinist and scholar of patristic literature; born November 27, 1904, in Erzingian, Armenia (now Erzincan in Turkey); studied in Athens and in Paris; an ordained priest, he worked in the Catholic diocese of Marseilles and in the Greek Catholic community in Munich, Germany; submitted his Habilitationsschrift to the Universität München in 1952; taught Byzantine studies and Greek philology at Munich; died January 12, 1972, near Mantua, Italy, of injuries sustained in an automobile accident.

The other was briefer:

Iōannu, Periklēs Petros; other data in authority record: Byzantinist, classical philologist, and university professor; scholar of Oriental canon law; born 1904; died 1972. http://d-nb.info/gnd/172169445

That’s all that I was able to find.  A Roman Catholic priest and academic of considerable scholarly achievements who wrote at least 8 monographs and died at the age of 68 in a car crash.  Hardly anything about him has survived the transition to the internet.

His work does not seem to contain material about the Breviarium Hipponense, sadly, although I shall go back to this.*  But I’ve learned something tonight; and I hope that others engaged in frantic googling will find this useful.

  • Update – the letter is indeed there, vol. 1.2, p.254!  Phew.
Share

10 thoughts on “Périclès-Pierre Joannou (1904-1972) and French translations of canons of ancient councils

  1. Dear Mr. Pearse,
    First, thanks for all the work you have done for so long to make so much so much easier to use.
    Second, looking at the Breviarium Hipponense and letter, I’d be happy to help out with a translation.
    w.north

  2. Dear Mr North,

    That is very kind of you. But I think now I have the French that I will be able to find my way through the text.

    I was having trouble with these two sentences, and particularly the second sentence. Do you mind if I ask how you would put the second sentence together, syntactically? The “illud” (neuter) cannot mean the “excessus” (masc.). Ad excusandos excessus is clear enough – in order to excuse the failure/lapse. But where is the main verb?

    Ecclesiasticae utilitatis causa dum in Carthaginensi urbe convenerimus in unum, a plerisque suggestum est, ea quae in concilio Hipponiensi iamdudum acta sunt, et legitime, ad corrigendum disciplinam, quae salubriter statuta noscuntur, effrenata temeritate, quosdam minime custodire. Ad huiusmodi vero excusandos excessus, illud ab aliquibus praetendi, quod ea, quae iamdudum cum legibus statuta sunt, ignorantes praetermiserunt.

    Roger

  3. Hi Roger,
    I suspect Joannou is probably from a Greek background, despite his birth in Armenia. His last name is just a version of ‘John’ and has the common Greek ‘ou’ ending while Pericles is one of those classicising names Greeks would give their children in the 19th century. Perhaps Joannou was Pontian. There were also lots of Catholic missionaries active in Pontus so that might explain Joannou’s French connection.

  4. Dear Mr Pearse,
    Apologies for the delay in my reply.

    Here is how I would render these sentences.

    Ecclesiasticae utilitatis causa dum in Carthaginensi urbe convenerimus in unum, a plerisque suggestum est, ea quae in concilio Hipponiensi iamdudum acta sunt, et legitime, ad corrigendum disciplinam, quae salubriter statuta noscuntur, effrenata temeritate, quosdam minime custodire. Ad huiusmodi vero excusandos excessus, illud ab aliquibus praetendi, quod ea, quae iamdudum cum legibus statuta sunt, ignorantes praetermiserunt.

    When we came together in the city of Carthage for the sake of the good of the church, many indicted that what had already been legitimately decided (acta) at the council of Hippo for the correction of discipline—which are properly (salubriter) known as statutes—do not restrain certain persons from the unbridled boldness. [They further suggested] that to excuse excesses of this kind, some pretend that they neglect these things—which were decreed long ago with laws–out of ignorance.

    I think that a key structural element is the “a plerisque suggestum est” which sets up not only the “ea ….custodire” phrase but also the “illud a aliquibus praetendi quod” So the folks indicated two things: 1) the canons are not constraining “quosdam” from their temeritas; 2) certain folks were claiming as a pretense “illud quod”. The illud and quod are coordinated.

    I hope that this is helpful.

    Have you consulted Mansi to see whether/how he presents these concilia?

    All the best,
    bill

  5. Dear Bill,

    No hassle for the delay … I think we all have much to do at the moment.

    Now that is a very interesting suggestion about using “a plerisque suggestum est”, “it was suggested by the majority” twice; and it feels right. That “illud … quod” without a verb struck me as weird, and I was going to insert some form of “to be” in there.

    I had not thought of the first “statuta” as “statutes”, and had read “salubriter statuta noscuntur” as “which are known to have been set up for a good purpose” or something or the sort. “minime custodire” seemed like “should not retain”. My first draft was:

    “In the interests of the church, when we convened as one in the city of Carthage, it was suggested by the majority, rashly, that some should not observe some things, which in order to improve church discipline were decided upon properly years ago in the council of Hippo and which are accepted as being advantageous. Indeed in order to excuse this failure, this [is] given as an excuse by a few, that those things which were established as laws years ago [object clause of sentence], they being ignorant [of them] have let pass.”

    Joannou has: “Plusieurs d’entre nous, en vue du bien de l’église, avaient rapporté, lors de noire assemblée dans la ville de Carthage, que certains dans leur audace effrénée n’observent point les décisions que jadis le synode d’Hippone après mûre réflexion a légitimement prises et publiées pour l’a¬mélioration salutaire de la discipline. Or pour s’excuser de ces fautes, certains mettent en avant, qu’ils ont péché parce qu’ils ignoraient ce qui jadis fut statué comme loi.”

    Let me see how I get on with untangling the sources, and I’ll come back to you. Mansi I must look at, agreed.

  6. Roger,
    In reading your message I was immediately struck by a, I think, superior rendering of quae salubriter statuta noscuntur, i.e.:

    which are known to have been decreed to the benefit of all (my sense of “salubriter”). I think that this makes better sense of the “salubriter”‘s adverbial force. Should have thought of this earlier.

  7. In a word: I think that your rendering makes good sense. Joannou’s French captures the sense but does some significant reworking of the structure.

  8. I like that one. Much better! Salubriter as an adverb has to relate to a verb, and “decreed” is better.

    Joannou is loose. I was just wondering if he is following the Greek in some of his stuff.

Leave a Reply