Humouring the end of the world

I came in just now, out of the burning heat, and there was a leaflet on my doorstep.  It was from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and titled “How will you deal with the end of the world?” or something like that.

Sad person that I am, the only thought that entered my heat-addled brain was “get better air-conditioning.”


A day in the life

No sleep for two days now.  It’s been 27C in my hotel room the last two nights; no air-con, no ventilation.  No refunds either.

In Hellsdump House, the office in which I attempt to work while awaiting the chop at the end of the month, the only portion that is air-conditioned is the director’s offices.  Temperatures in the office reached 27.2C.  People collapsed, fainted, wore beach wear or ran up and down with their underpants on their heads, shrieking.  Actually I made the last bit up.  Most people just slumped at their terminals.  I just sat there, giggling (not from the heat, but because I had found this site), and being avoided by everyone else.

Hope I’m more coherent than I feel.  Sleep-deprivation is weird.  Cooler this morning. Who knows, I may get some sleep tonight.


Choose your career wisely

We all hate going to work on Mondays, but in a way most of us are fortunate.  For example, on the way in to work today, I passed a van labelled “Sparkles mobile dog wash.” 

Just imagine what that job must involve.  It’s a job which means driving all over the place to wash dirty dogs.  Imagine leaning over the tub, bog-brush in hand, trying to clean the backside of some unfamiliar poodle, while the vicious little bugger tries to bite you.  “Look, he likes you!” squeals the silly owner, as you wrestle with her rottweiler, trying not to lose any fingers.

It makes you wonder what kind of alternatives the school careers advice were suggesting to him.

On the positive side, he must be the only man for whom an armoured cod-piece is a legitimate tax-deductible expense.


Why didn’t Buffy the Vampire-slayer study Patristics?

Probably because it isn’t a sexy subject.  So… should we be taking steps to ensure that potential students of Patristics DO associate the two?  And, if so, what steps?

Anyone who suggests bribing them with a free copy of John Climacus The Ladder gets thrown out straight away.


Holy desktop, Batman!

From the ever excellent Way of the Fathers I learn of a company selling a set of Windows/Mac OSX icons, depicting the Fathers.  It’s only $5, so might be a fun item.

What happened to the Ephraim icon?  Is that a beard completely covering his face?

Some of the lettering on the Ephraim icon ought to be in Syriac, really.  If anyone buys this product, perhaps they’d like to contribute a review?


More lust for the CPG – works of Eusebius in Armenian and Georgian

I’ve been unable to stop thinking about the object of my obsession.  Yes, this is another “why the Clavis Patrum Graecorum is like Paris Hilton” post.  Both might make you go blind, for instance, although probably for different reasons.  How many people realise just how wonderful this object is?

What brought this on, I hear you say?  Well, thinking about Eusebius of Caesarea, and his “Tough questions about the Gospels” (Quaestiones ad Stephanum/Marinum — and if I owned a copy of the CPG, I’d give the work’s CPG reference number).  As everyone knows, this work is lost but a large chunk survives, plus some fragments in Medieval Greek bible commentaries which were made up purely of chains of quotations from the Fathers of the Church. I commissioned David Miller to translate the Greek fragments; someone else is doing fragments extant in Syriac.

But I’m a sad person.  (Sorry Paris).  I started wondering what other languages Eusebius’ work might have been translated into in late antiquity.  Coptic is an obvious choice, and there are fragments in that language. 

But what about Armenian?  The Armenians were converted to Christianity around the time of Eusebius.  They set up a monastery in Jerusalem, to copy Greek books, translate them into Armenian, and send them back to the old country.  We know that at least two works by Eusebius were indeed translated into Armenian.  His famous Church History exists in Armenian.  Better still, his Chronicle exists; book 1 of that work only exists in Armenian, in a single copy.  That copy was found by a traveller who  was staying in Armenia in the 18th century in a rural district, who got up in the night for a glass of water and found the book being used as the water-pot cover!

Anyhow, I started asking around.  Maxime Yevadian mentioned that the Canon and the letter to Carpianus also existed in Armenian 1.  The excellent Dominique Gonnet of the CNRS in France then pointed me to the CPG!  To my astonishment, this lists information about Georgian works by Eusebius (please forgive rough OCR):

3465. Epistula ad Carpianum. Canones euangeliorum.Versio georgica. B. UT’IE, Evsevis ep’ist’elisa … Udzvelesi kartuli versiebi, in Mravalthavi 17 (1992),p.117-123.
3467. Commentarii in psalmos. (1) in ps.37. Versio georgica (introductio in psalmos). M. SANIDZE, Psalmunis dzveli kartuli redakciebi, 1 (Anciennes rédactions géorgiennes des Psaumes), Tbilisi, 1960, p. 470-475.
3495Historia ecclesiastica. Versio georgica (fragmentum de S. Iacobo fratre Domini: H.E., Il,23). Cf. M. VAN EsBROECK, Les homéliaires, p. 123,189,213.

Of course the most exciting bit of that is the portion of the unpublished and untranslated monster-work, the Commentary on the Psalms.  Nothing on the Quaestiones, but what a book, that contains stuff like this!


1 Thomson, Bibliography of Armenian Literature, Brepols, 1995, pp. 51-2. 


Byzantium and modern politics

A post by Douglas Carswell raised the issue of parallels between modern politicians and Byzantine emperors.   In some ways, we have much to learn from the way in which the Eastern Roman empire changed and evolved down the centuries, from Arcadius to Constantine XIV. 

It became a cruel power – the practice of blinding possible rivals for the throne was introduced, and deprived society of rulers who might have been of great service.

It became ever more bureaucratic, and it became ever less free.  Ordinary people counted for little.  If we think of the internet, it was created by a million people doing whatever they felt best.  Imagine what an internet would be like, which only contained content approved by some civil servant, goldplating some intolerant law?

The empire became ever more intolerant of the expression of ‘incorrect’ thought.  Classifying people as vendors of ‘incorrect thought’ was the endemic vice of the empire.  This amounted to finding ways to exclude and demonise people over words; surely a vice of modern societies too, with their litany of newly invented ‘sins’ such as ‘islamophobia’. 

Of course there are other things we might learn.  In a previous post I discussed the career of the Patriarch Macedonius, and attempts by his political foes to level child-abuse charges against him; charges that he was uniquely qualified to rebut, as (it turned out) a eunuch. 

Perhaps we should consider whether castration of civil servants should be reintroduced?  Indeed might the same measure might usefully be applied to US Democrat Presidents?


Greek mercenaries in Egypt used mosquito-nets

When I was in Egypt before Christmas, I got bitten to pieces by mosquitos.  On mentioning this, David Miller tells me that “canopy” is derived from the Greek word for mosquito-net.

The word is “k0n0peion”.   The derivation is via late Lat. ‘canopeum’ — perhaps with a supposed connection to ‘Canopus’ .

k0n0ps  (??”cone-face”??) = mosquito.

Imagine all those hard-bitten Greek mercenaries working for the late Pharaohs in the Nile Delta getting bitten, eh?


Off-topic: Telling it like it is…

I’m sitting here this morning in an empty office because all the permanent staff have been taken up to the fourth floor — the management floor — for a ‘briefing’.  It seems that the company has been taken over.  Everyone is terrified for their jobs, and rightly so. 

I understand that the management have decided to give them all a glass of champagne; to “celebrate” the takeover, you understand.  Funny how people don’t imagine how others might be feeling.