• Looking at the “Life” of St Mewan
    St Mewan, as he is known in Cornwall – known as Saint Méen in Brittany, and Sanctus Mevennus in Latin – was a Breton saint.  The Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina states that he died in “Britannia Armonica” in the 7th century, and is commemorated on the 21 June.  His “Life” (BHL 5944) is said to be 11th […]
  • Import Turnpike Emails into Thunderbird – for free
    When I first came onto the web in 1997, I used Demon Internet, and their “Turnpike” software on Windows.  All my emails until about 2012 were done that way, safely offline, when I moved to Gmail.  I still have my Turnpike directory on my PC, and, even on Windows 11, Turnpike.exe opens, and all my […]
  • An index of available translations on this site to download
    This blog is getting large.  A lot of patristic and other texts have been translated and placed here.  I thought that a list, linking to the posts, and also directly to the PDF and the Word file, might be helpful.  So I have compiled one, and placed it in the side-bar under Translations Available For […]
  • From My Diary
    Working as a computer programmer meant working on a series of “projects” to deliver some software system, or, more often, a package of enhancements to some existing system.  Once you finished the project, there was often a lull while the code was released to production.  In that time, you would tidy up; do various little […]
  • A new project: “translating key pieces of patristic pseudepigrapha into English” by Nathan Porter
    A post on Bluesky by Nathan Porter: Now online, and coming soon to an airport near you, is the first English translation of the Pseudo-Athanasian work, De Incarnatione et contra Arianos.… So begins my long-term project of translating key pieces of patristic pseudepigrapha into English. Coming soon: Ps-Basil, Against Eunomius IV and V Ps-Athanasius, […]
  • Three more miracle stories of St Nicholas: BHL 6177, 6178 and 6209
    Last year I created a file with the Latin text of 47 of the medieval miracle stories of St Nicholas, and a draft English translation for each.  Three more stories were left unfinished, containing BHL 6177 (the miracles at Angers), BHL 6178 (the miracles at Brauweiler), and BHL 6209 (a musical miracle at the Cluniac […]
  • From My Diary
    The other evening I realised with a shock that the project with the St Nicholas material is actually done.  My original intention was to make the oldest hagiographical material available in English translation, and this I have achieved.  With the translation of the “Life of St Nicholas” by Methodius (ad Theodorum), which originally drew me […]
  • Methodius ad Theodorum (BHG 1352y) – now online in English
    Here is the final version of the “Life of St Nicholas” by Methodius “ad Theodorum” – to Theodore. Methodius ad Theodorum-Life of St Nicholas (PDF) Methodius ad Theodorum-Life of St Nicholas The files are also on here.  As usual, this material is public domain.  Make whatever use of it you like, personal, educational or […]
  • How does “AI translation” work? Some high-level thoughts
    The computer world is a high-bullshit industry.   Every computer system consists of nothing more than silicon chips running streams of ones (1) and zeros (0), however grandly this may be dressed-up.  The unwary blindly accept and repeat the words and pictures offered by salesmen with something to sell.  These are repeated by journalists who need […]
  • Translations of St Nicholas of Myra material on this website
    I’ve just created a page on this blog with links to every post that contains a translation of one or the other of the medieval texts containing St Nicholas material.  It’s here. Looking back, I started taking an interest in 2013.  The first translations of the legends appeared in 2015.  The most recent was earlier […]
  • Methodius ad Theodorum (BHG 1352y) Part 4 – A Draft Translation using AI
    Sometimes the only way forward is to plunge in, and see what happens.  So I have taken the modern Greek translation of Methodius ad Theodorum by Ch. Stergioulis, and machine-translated it into English.  The results are attached, together with Stergioulis original, which has the ancient Greek facing the modern Greek, and footnotes at the end. […]
  • Memory and the Internet: Dales Week, Montague Goodman, Ian Balfour, and Me
    Yesterday, on a whim, I went to Google and searched for “Dales Week”.  Few today will remember what this was.  The Dales Bible Week was a Christian festival held at Harrogate in the late 70s and early 80s.  It was very influential.  Tapes of the worship were in the hands of many of my friends.  […]
  • On the typing of Greek
    I remember when the pre-unicode SPIonic font was the best way to enter polytonic Greek text.  You typed in a series of characters – “qeo/j”, changed the font, and the same letters now displayed as θεός.  It related very well to the betacode way of doing things, and I think we all got on well […]
  • St Valentine and the Martyrologium Hieronymianum
    Wikipedia is a fertile source of fake history.  Reading the article about St Valentine, I came across the following claim: However, there is a reference to his feast day on 14 February in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum,[19] which was compiled between 460 and 544 from earlier local sources. This appears around the web, as evidence that the feast […]
  • Nuisance “Discover more from” popup
    I discovered yesterday that a nagging popup has started appearing when trying to comment: Discover more from Roger Pearse Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive. Type your email… Subscribe Continue reading I didn’t do this, so I’m sorry for the nuisance.  It turns out to be something WordPress silently […]
  • The perils of AI translation
    Rather excited by the discoveries that AI would translate medieval Greek, I thought I’d try another attempt at that Ge`ez text that I put into Google Translate some time back.  That is a homily on St Garima by a certain bishop John.  I found the text on my disk, and put a paragraph into Bard […]
  • Methodius ad Theodorum (BHG 1352y) using AI on medieval Greek – part 3
    In the last post, we tried out various AI tools to translate the modern Greek version of Methodius ad Theodorum into English.  But in the previous post commenter Diego had considerable success doing the same with the original medieval Greek of chapter 3!  So I thought it might be interesting to see what might be […]
  • “…whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God” – a fake quote
    There are many pages around the internet which say something like this: The feast of St. Valentine of February 14 was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who included Valentine among all those “… whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God.” But the quotation is […]
  • Methodius ad Theodorum (BHG 1352y) in modern Greek – part 2
    Using AI and a dictionary, let’s try out the translation approach from my last post on a further chapter of this modern Greek translation of the Life of St Nicholas by Methodius.  Here’s the text, hopefully with few OCR errors: 4. Διηγήθηκα, λοιπόν, σύντομα τούτο το γεγονός, αν και ήταν περιττό, προκειμένου να μπολιάσω στις […]
  • AI Translation of modern Greek once more
    In my last two posts here and here, I looked at AI and other translations of the following passage from Ch. Stergioulis’ modern Greek translation of the “Life of St Nicholas” by Methodius, Archbishop of Constantinople (the “Methodius ad Theodorum”: 3. Καταγόταν ο Νικόλαος από τα Πάταρα, πόλη της επαρχίας των Λυκίων, η οποία εκείνη […]
  • Is Google now doomed? Wild thoughts and conspiracy theories below!
    I have just spent an interesting hour on the PC since my last post.  Those who read it will recall that I posted some modern Greek, and then the Google Translate output for it – good, but by no means perfect.  It then occurred to me to try Microsoft’s Bing AI.  The output from that […]
  • Methodius ad Theodorum (BHG 1352y) in modern Greek – part 1
    I’ve now obtained access to the modern Greek translation by Ch. Stergioulis of the “Life of St Nicholas” composed by Methodius I, patriarch of Constantinople, around 843 AD, and dedicated to a certain Theodore.  I’ve OCR’d the text using Abbyy Finereader 15, and corrected it – I had to install the Greek language patch into […]
  • A collection of modern Greek translations of St Nicholas legends
    An interesting volume of St Nicholas literature has come to my attention, published in 2017. I learned of it from the wonderful Dumbarton Oaks list of Translations of Byzantine Saints Lives.  It contains modern Greek translations of a number of the early Greek “Lives” of St Nicholas. You may wonder why most of us care.  […]
  • So… farewell, Abbyy Finereader, but why did you just commit suicide?
    It must be 20 years ago or more that I first stumbled upon the OCR software, Abbyy Finereader.  I was enthralled, and I bought it, with the option for Cyrillic recognition.  At the time the word was that it had originally been developed for the KGB!  It was much better than anything else. Since that […]
  • From my diary
    Happy New Year, everybody.  We can leave behind all the chores of last year, and plan to do some good things. Over the Christmas period, I took a long hard look at the St Nicholas project, and decided that it was time to guillotine it and actually release something.  I was just getting deeper and […]
  • John the Deacon, “Life of St Nicholas” – now online in English
    I have finally completed my translation of the “Life of St Nicholas of Myra” by John the Deacon (BHL 6104, 6105, 6106 etc).  Written around 880 AD, it is the foundation text for the entire western tradition of legends about St Nicholas.  There are no critical editions of the Latin, and all of the early […]
  • “Scriptor Syrus”, the scholiast on Dionysius bar Salibi: oft-quoted, but from where?
    Something that comes around every year at this time is a quotation from a certain “Scriptor Syrus,” supposedly about the origins of Christmas.  Often it is supposed to be 4th century. This is the usual wording. It was a custom of the pagans to celebrate on the same Dec. 25 the birthday of the sun, […]
  • Working with Bauer’s 1783 translation of Bar Hebraeus’ “History of the Dynasties”
    Following my last post, I’ve started to look at the PDFs of Bauer’s 1783-5 German translation of Bar Hebraeus’ History of the Dynasties. It must be said that the Fraktur print is not pleasant to deal with.  But it could be very much worse!  I’ve seen much worse.  Here’s the version from Google Books: And […]
  • The “Historia Dynastiarum” or “History of the Dynasties” by Barhebraeus
    The last of the five big Arabic Christian histories is the Historia Dynastiarum (Tarikh Mukhtasar Ad-Duwal) of Bar Hebraeus.  This is a revision, abbreviation, and expansion, of his Syriac world history, the Chronicum Syriacum.  There seems very little evidence in Google that the Historia Dynastiarum has received very much attention. Here is a Google Translate version […]
  • An adventurer in Arab Christian Studies – Prof. Bartolomeo Pirone
    None of the histories of Arabic Christian literature – Agapius, Eutychius, Yahya ibn Said al-Antaki, Al-Makin, Bar Hebraeus – exist in English translation.  This site has made some modest efforts to remedy this, by turning the French translation of Agapius and the Italian translation of Eutychius into English, and posting them online.  Judging from queries […]
  • Getting manuscript reproductions in the UK – important and useful court judgement?
    Via Dr Bendor Grosvenor on Twitter, I learn of an interesting court case about “image fees”.  According to Dr. G, this is very good news for manuscript researchers, and historians in general, and also for those who want to download and post online images of out-of-copyright material.  Here’s his thread: Those of us who’ve had […]
  • A new Mithraeum at Aquincum / Budapest, Hungary.
    The Roman military site of Aquincum near Budapest in Hungary is already known for five temples of Mithras.  A housing development in the area has uncovered a sixth temple, discovered in the summer and just now reported by Oliver Kovács in a Hungarian archaeological website,  There are a number of photos with the article!  […]
  • A modern “quote” from St Nicholas?
    On various websites you can find the following quotation, attributed to St Nicholas of Myra: The giver of every good and perfect gift has called upon us to mimic God’s giving, by grace, through faith, and this is not of ourselves. No source is given, however. A google search revealed no results prior to 2015, […]
  • Arabic Christian Historians: Yahya ibn Sa`id al-Antaki
    When the early Muslims conquered the Near East, they subjugated large areas populated by Christians, politically part of the Greek-speaking Eastern Roman empire, but speaking either Syriac or Coptic.  Over time these were forced to adopt Arabic, and to translate their literature into that language from the 9th century onwards.  This multi-lingual environment produced the […]
  • Al-Makin: Critical edition and English translation published!
    Arabic Christian literature is little known to most of us.  It is the literature of the Christian communities of the Near East, the Syriac and Coptic worlds, after they were overrun by Islam, and their languages started to fade under the pressure of the dominant Arabic-speaking culture.  Naturally much of it begins with translations from […]
  • Where do I find a list of the Melkite patriarchs of Alexandria?
    Recently something or other drew my attention to a mysterious saint named “John the Merciful”.  A google search took me to a dreadful Wikipedia article – since modified – which merely repeated anecdotes from his Life, itself online elsewhere.  He was described as “John V” and patriarch of Alexandria. With some effort, I discovered that […]
  • Review: Saints at the Limits: Seven Byzantine Popular Legends
    Stratis Papaioannou, Saints at the Limits: Seven Byzantine Popular Legends (Dumbarton Oaks medieval library 78), Harvard (2023).  ISBN 9780674290792.  $35.  Introduction online here.  Buy at here. The medieval religious folk-stories known as the “Lives of the Saints” are an under-studied form of medieval literature.  The stories themselves often arise from the people, and are […]
  • Admin
    On the 3rd October there was a close family bereavement.  There is, inevitably, a ridiculous amount of things to do.  So posting will be very light for a while, and emails may not be responded to.  No offence intended.
  • Another AI Translation Experiment: Old Slavonic
    This post at Three Pillars Blog came to my attention yesterday.  Scott Cooper is experimenting with Google Translate and ChatGPT AI to see whether we can get anything useful out of Old Church Slavonic. As you can see, Google’s language detection isn’t entirely useless with OCS. Apparently early Cyrillic and it’s modern Bulgarian equivalent, as […]
  • Ephrem Graecus – Published English translations coming soon
    Ephrem the Syrian is the most famous of the Syriac writers; but there is a mass of material in Greek attributed to him.  Some of it is translations of the Syriac, but most is clearly not.  It looks as if there was a fashion for writing in his style at one point. Unfortunately this large […]
  • Latin translations of the Greek fathers in Dark Ages monastic manuscript inventories
    How widely known were the Greek fathers in the Latin world during the Dark Ages?  How accessible were they? One possible source of information is the surviving inventories of medieval libraries.  A collection of these was printed by G. Becker in 1885 as Catalogi Bibliothecarum Antiqui, and it makes interesting reading indeed.  In fact if […]
  • Cyril of Alexandria on posthumous anathemas
    Letter 72 of Cyril of Alexandria, To Proclus, Bishop of Constantinople, is an interesting item.  The Greek is in PG77, column 344, and there is an English translation by John McEnerny in FOC77, p.72 f.  Nestorius has been deposed and exiled, and the hapless Proclus installed in his stead as bishop of Constantinople.  Cyril has […]
  • Some thoughts about interpolation in patristic texts
    The term “Theotokos” (“Mother of God”) becomes the subject of fierce controversy in the 5th century AD.  The dispute was perhaps more political than religious – Constantinople versus Alexandria – but was fought with great ferocity, and lavish bribery, and ended in the victory of Cyril of Alexandria and the exile of Nestorius and indeed […]
  • 16 page lost section of ancient “Julian Romance” text discovered in Vatican manuscript
    A pair of researchers have discovered and published a lost ancient text in the Vatican library.  It’s the long-lost opening portion of a text usually dated to the early 6th century, and known as the “Julian Romance.” This is a novelisation of the reign of Julian the Apostate, who reigned ca. 362 AD, and his […]
  • From my diary
    My apologies for the silence.  Unfortunately I caught Covid at the start of the month, and I have been out of action ever since.  The symptoms are no worse than a cold, but I’m still testing positive even now.  I gather that rushing back to work afterwards is one of the primary causes of Long […]
  • More experiments with Amharic and technology
    In my last post I found that it was possible to turn a PDF full of images of Amharic text into recognised electronic text using Google Drive, and then get some translation of the results into English using Google Translate. There were some extremely interesting comments made on the post, which I have been reading.  […]
  • Listening to Hard Rock helps Egyptologist make Middle-Kingdom Papyrus Discovery
    In 2010 a doctoral student at Johns-Hopkins University in Baltimore named Marina Escolano-Poveda was present at a conference of Egyptologists in Mallorca. While there she visited the small and obscure local museum.  There she discovered some papyrus fragments written in demotic.  Over time she studied these and found them to belong to the early Middle […]
  • Is it possible to read editions of Amharic texts? An experiment
    In my last post I mentioned how the Life of St Garima in Ethiopian was printed by Rossini, but without a translation.  In fact it has never been translated into any modern language, to my knowledge.  I don’t know any Ethiopian, and I doubt that I ever will. But we live in an age of […]
  • An Ethiopic Legend: Abba Garima copied the Bible in a Single Day
    Here’s an interesting one, which I came across today.  There is an early set of gospels in Ethiopia, at the Abuna Garima monastery in Ethiopia’s Tigrai Highlands.  An article in the Independent 6 July 2010 by Jerome Taylor tells us: The monks have their own legend about how the gospels came into their possession. They […]
  • Theotokos: A review of the scholarship on the paleographical date of P.Ryl. III 470 (“Sub Tuum Praesidium”)
    In 1929 papyrologist C.H. Roberts published a papyrus fragment from Egypt.  The text is in Greek, and is a Christian prayer, containing the word “theotokos”.  The fragment is held by the John Rylands Library in Manchester, where it has the shelfmark P.Rylands 407 (online here).  Here is the excellent image from that site: The statements […]
  • From My Diary
    I intend to write a post about the often repeated date of a papyrus, R.Ryl. III 407, which uses the word “Theotokos”.  As part of this, I’ve been collecting journal articles in order to find out what the actual arguments are, and what scholarship has been done.  It begins to look very much as if […]
  • A photo of the Meta Sudans from the Palatine
    Here’s yet another picture of the conical stub of the now vanished Roman fountain, the Meta Sudans, in front of the Colosseum. It was posted online here, where it is described as “late 19th century”. I wish we had more 20th century photographs of the Meta Sudans.  There ought to be legions of them.  
  • The Last Known Senatus Consultum of the Roman Senate?
    In Massimiliano Vitiello, Amalasuintha: The Transformation of Queenship in the Post-Roman World, University of Pennsylvania Press, (2017), p.93, we learn of the problem of bribery in Papal elections during the Ostrogothic rule of Italy.  He quotes a letter in 533 AD to Pope John II, preserved in Cassiodorus Variae, Book 9, letter 15, from which we […]
  • Every one of us has two guardian angels, a good one encouraging, and a bad one tempting – patristic sources
    Via Twitter I learn of this fascinating statement by Prof. Tom Ward: I just learned through Peter Lombard (Sent II.XI) that Gregory of Nyssa and Origen thought that each human soul not only has a (good) guardian angel, but a (bad) tempting angel (=demon). I’d always thought this was just a cartoon thing. I enquired […]
  • Theotokos: Pierius of Alexandria
    Our next possible candidate for the earliest use of the term “Theotokos” is Pierius of Alexandria, who died “after 309 AD”.  Our source isn’t great for this, for it is some fragments, which may or may not be by Philip of Side (ca. 380-431+), whose vast history of the early church has otherwise perished. Back […]
  • Theotokos: ps.Dionysius of Alexandria’s Letter to Paul of Samosata
    In my last post we looked at whether Origen used the word “Theotokos” (Mother of God) for the virgin Mary.  Let’s continue this by looking at another supposed 3rd century use of the term, in Dionysius of Alexandria, Letter to Paul of Samosata (CPG 1708). Dionysius died in 264 AD, and the text does indeed […]
  • From my diary
    We take for granted the availability of so much on the internet, that it can come as a shock when we need to go and physically find articles and books.  Of course even 20 years ago, that was routine.  But not every language group has kept up.  German articles in particular are very hard to […]
  • How long does it take to produce a professional translation from Latin?
    A fascinating twitter thread by Dr Jenny Benham (blog here), on translating a 1500 word medieval treaty text.  We don’t get many explanations of the process!  (Paragraphing is mine) A colleague has asked me how long it takes to do a translation from Latin into English of one of my treaties. I don’t think he […]
  • Theotokos: Did Origen use the term “Theotokos” for Mary?
    There are many websites online that suggest that Origen used the word “theotokos”, “Mother of God”, to refer to Mary the mother of Jesus.  Often the same references float around, or none are  given.  The term “theotokos” was a controversial one in the 5th century, and the determination of some people to use it was […]
  • Roberto Caro on the date of the “Oration concerning Simeon and Anna” of Pseudo-Methodius
    In my last post on the Sermo de Symeone et Anna, “Oration concerning Simeon and Anna” (CPG 1827), I mentioned that I had no access to the discussion in R. Caro, La homilética mariana griega en el siglo V (= Greek Marian Homilies in the 5th Century), Dayton, Ohio (1971-2), vol.2, pp. 610-617.  But commenter “Diego” kindly […]
  • Bits and Bobs 4
    This is another page of miscellaneous material.  It’s mostly from Twitter.  I bookmarked it over the last 4-5 years, with the intention of writing more, but never did.  So I may as well share them here. The first item is a combined fork and spoon, made of silver, possibly 3rd century, from the Metropolitan Museum […]
  • Bits and Bobs 3 – More stuff from the inbox
    Here are a few more items from my pending file. There is a project dedicated to the Coptic Magical Papyri, which ran from 2018-2023.  The website is here. Our goal is to advance the study of the corpus of Coptic “magical texts” – manuscripts written on papyrus, as well as parchment, paper, ostraca and other […]
  • The Letter of Claudius to the Alexandrians
    In 41 AD an embassy arrived in Rome from the Greeks of Alexandria.  The emperor Claudius responded with a letter, which was read in the city.  The Prefect of Egypt, L. Aemilius Rectus, then ordered copies to be made and circulated to other cities of the region, with a covering letter dated 10 November 41.  […]
  • More Bits and Bobs
    Here are a few more miscellaneous items which I squirreled away as I saw them, some as long ago as 2018.  I thought that I would delve into these further, but I never did.  Now that people are deleting their Twitter accounts, it’s worthwhile to preserve some of these. Ancient books were written on rolls […]
  • Does Jerome say that Christians need never shower again after baptism?
    Some websites claim that Jerome said that after being baptized you didn’t need to take a shower ever again.  For instance this website states: In fact, the association between the bath and baptism was so strong that some Christians, like the particularly grumpy St Jerome, argued that once you’d been baptised you didn’t need to […]
  • Why we should use Latin spellings of Greek names
    A twitter thread by @EzhmaarSul from June 11, 2023, made some interesting points about the use in English of spellings like “Nikaia” rather than “Nicaea”. Few will have seen it, and I’ve never seen another public discussion of the subject.  So let’s give it a bit more visibility. It went as follows: Something I really […]
  • New(ish) Patristic Blog – The Three Pillars
    I’ve just become aware of a blog that started in 2021 called The Three Pillars.  It’s written by Scott Cooper, another layman like myself.  The blog is devoted to church history stuff, just as I do here.  It’s very nice to see a new blog in this space! Recent posts include: Hugh of Saint-Victor On […]
  • Why Minucius Felix is later than Tertullian
    The “Octavius” of Minucius Felix is one of the most attractive works of early Latin Christianity.  It features three friends going to the baths at Ostia, when one of them kisses his hand to a statue of Serapis.  Reproved by the other, the three settle down to debate the merits of paganism and Christianity.  There […]
  • Bits and Bobs and Asset Strippers in Libraries
    I’ve been away on holiday in York.  It was very grey and rained a lot of the time. But I stayed in a hotel in a very central location and I enjoyed myself anyway.  One day I went up onto the city walls, using the stairs at the medieval gateway named Mickelgate Bar.  I walked […]
  • Archivo Pertzii??
    Here’s a reference guaranteed to waste the time of a researcher.  It’s from the Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina: This is some miracle material associated with the abbey of Brauweiler.  But… what is “Archivo Pertzii”?? I did find out, but it was enough work that I thought I’d put up a blog post, in case I forget and […]
  • A new use for the parallel Latin translations in the Patrologia Graeca
    Now that we have a very effective Latin translation in Google translate, it occurs to me that we can also use this to read a great deal of patristic Greek.  For as we all know, the Greek fathers were all translated into Latin at the renaissance and after, and were nearly always printed with parallel […]
  • The Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources
    A few minutes ago I learned of a marvellous project to create the Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources (DMNES).  This is under development, although a lot now exists, but a blog is available, and is itself a rather wonderful thing: The dictionary aims to contain all given (fore, Christian) names recorded in European […]
  • Is it a waste of time for us to make translations of ancient texts?
    Earlier this evening I was working away on a translation of one of the medieval St Nicholas miracle stories, BHL 6177, the “Miracles at Angers”.  I was using Google translate on the Latin text, which was producing some very decent quality outputs.  Then I was checking and correcting it.  It did indeed need correcting, but […]
  • The date and authenticity of the “Oration concerning Simeon and Anna” of Pseudo-Methodius
    The literature of antiquity is transmitted to us mainly in handwritten medieval books.  These are often more like loose-leaf binders than modern books, and can contain all sort of things.  A great number of ancient and medieval sermons appear in these volumes.  This is quite natural, since the volumes were copied exclusively by monks for […]
  • Working out the manuscript affinities from a collation
    Yesterday I finally finished collating the 4 editions and a selected 12 manuscripts of John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas.  This gives me a Word .docx file with every line of the text, the collation beneath it, and my translation under that.  In the left margin, it gives me a list of significant-looking variants: I’ve […]
  • From My Diary
    My last post on the “Praedestinatus” brought back a memory or two.  If my memory serves me correctly, this was the very text that caused me to seek out the Patrologia Latina for the first time, almost quarter of a century ago.  A reference in Quasten for the “Tertullianistae” was the prompt.  So I drove […]
  • The “Praedestinatus” – an anonymous 5th century text on the “Predestinarian heresy”
    In 1643 in Paris, Jacques Sirmond printed a previously unknown Latin text of the 5th century.  He had discovered it in the cathedral library at Reims.  His edition is online here.  The manuscript that he used is now Reims B.M. 70, 9th century (online here), and gives no title or indication of the author.  But […]
  • 20th century annotations in the margins of a Darmstadt manuscript
    This evening I was looking at a manuscript – specifically Darmstadt 344, written in the 3rd quarter of the 11th century (catalogue here, online here).  I have a PDF of the manuscript – sadly monochrome, but quite readable – and I started to look for what is “chapter 14” of the life of St Nicholas, […]
  • Eusebius of Emesa, “De Poenitentia” / “On Penitence” / “On Repentance” – now online in English
    Eusebius of Emesa flourished in the 340s AD, and was identified with the anti-Nicene party.  Only one of his works has survived in the original Greek, a short homily on penitence.  The rest of his works existed only in fragments until Eligius Buytaert located 29 homilies in antique Latin translations in two manuscripts in France. […]
  • From My Diary
    When the sun is suddenly very hot and the sky is now a blinding blue, it’s hard to go into the study and work on the PC.  It seems rather a waste!  So I have been busy with other things.  The last day or so was spent in buying and setting up a mobile air-conditioning […]
  • Tertullian, De Baptismo – new text and Italian translation available online
    Francesco Pieri kindly writes to let me know of a new edition and Italian translation of one of the works of Tertullian: I have just edited a slightly revised edition of De Baptismo: it is fully available on line and free for download: Looking at the site, I find this useful notice (I’ve tweaked […]
  • Methodius of Olympus, De Cibis – critical edition in progress
    Most of the works of the Ante-Nicene writer Methodius of Olympus (ca. 300 AD) do not survive in Greek.  Instead they are preserved only in Old Slavonic –  a language known to very few in the west -, plus a few catena fragments.  I became aware of this a few years ago, and Ralph Cleminson […]
  • A curious quotation of Matthew 17:19 in Latin
    In chapter 10 of John the Deacon’s 9th century “Life of St Nicholas” (BHL 6105), we find the following quotation from the gospel of Matthew: Porro nemini hoc incredibile videatur, quia salvatoris est ista promissio, dicentis, “Si habueritis fidem sicut granum sinapis, dicetis monti,  ‘Transfer te,’ et transferetur.” Moreover let this not seem incredible to […]
  • From my diary
    Tomorrow I hope to go up to Cambridge University Library.  I’ve applied online to renew my card, paid them the money they see fit to exact, discovered a Facebook “memory” that tells me that, ten years ago, I was doing exactly the same thing.  While there I hope to look at a Corpus Christianorum volume.  […]
  • Closing the brothels – the Vandals in Carthage
    An interesting passage in Will Durant’s The Story of Civilization IV: The Age of Faith,: (1950), p.30.  The author summarises an argument by Salvian of Marseilles, ca. 450 AD, De Gubernatione Dei, “On the Government of God”. The Vandal chieftain Gaiseric, on capturing Christian Carthage, was shocked to find a brothel at almost every comer; he closed […]
  • When did the free bread stop in Constantinople?
    A feature of imperial Rome was the “annona”, the distribution of free bread to the plebs.  This naturally created a large but idle population, and created servility out of a free people.  “Free stuff” tends to do that.  It is remarkable that, when Constantinople was created, the emperor decided to institute a similar system there.  […]
  • From my diary – more on the textual criticism of John the Deacon
    Last weekend I started reworking some code in QuickLatin, in order to allow me to add syntax notes on the fly, rather than having to break off and make code changes every time.  This went well, but is only partly done.  I had to break off early in the week to attend to other things, […]
  • Making Arabic Literature Accessible – Joep Lameer
    I was delighted to hear that somebody had sorted out Brockelmann’s Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, and produced an English translation.  This was a Herculean job, and the man who did it was Dutch scholar Joep Lameer.  I was even more delighted to hear that he is at work on translating Sezgin’s Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums, […]
  • Fundamental Reference Works for the Study of Arabic Literature
    Arabic literature is a closed book to most of us, and it is hard to know where to start, where to find out what exists. People refer to “the Hadith”, but where would you find this? In fact there is an incredibly useful summary of the reference works to use, which I came across a […]
  • An English translation of Brockelmann’s “Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur”!
    If you want to know what texts exist in Arabic, then the classic resource is Carl Brockelmann’s Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, published in seven volumes, in a terrible, disorganised, highly abbreviated format, starting in the 19th century.  This is essentially unreadable, even if you have good German. The first 2 volumes are the original edition; […]
  • From my diary
    I had forgotten how much I despise Microsoft software.  A couple of hours ago I decided to make a fix to my QuickLatin code.  More fool me.  Three hours later, I am no further forward and have spent the entire time struggling with their wretched development environment.  It was all working before I started.  I […]
  • Analysing the manuscripts of the Life of St Nicholas by John the Deacon – part 2 – the 12th c. manuscripts
    In my last post, I analysed the 9-11th century manuscripts of John the Deacon, and found that they fell neatly into three families.  These I have colour-coded as green, blue and purple.  I’ve only really got three data points, so this is all a bit provisional.  The other three turned out not to vary much. […]
  • Apologies for spam
    Spam is now starting to appear here in the comments.  For this I apologise.  It seems that Akismet have decided to force everyone to pay for their product.  To make us do this, this evening they have disabled my API key without warning.  Please bear with me while I deal with this. Greed is horrible. […]
  • Analysing the manuscripts of the Life of St Nicholas by John the Deacon
    I have made a full collation of all the 9-10th century manuscripts of John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas, as far as the beginning of chapter 6, where manuscript Q (BNF lat. 17625) breaks off.  I’ve recollated the first chapter, since I did that in a rather perfunctory way. But how do I work […]
  • From my diary
    For the last week I have been steadily collating a group of manuscripts against my text of John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas.  I have a list of the earliest manuscripts accessible to me, in century order.  I have a 9th century manuscript (M), and three 10th century manuscripts (P, Q and O), which […]
  • A new BHL-type database of Latin hagiographical texts and manuscripts at the IRHT?
    It seems that something is going on at the IRHT (= L’Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes).  For those who do not know, the IRHT is the French manuscripts people.  They do all sorts of very useful things.  But there is no announcement, nor much online.  It’s a new database, designed to allow you […]
  • From my diary
    I have returned to working on the Latin text of the Life of St Nicholas by John the Deacon, collating it against a bunch of manuscripts. Working on the text is a question of repeated passes, as I learn more and work out what I need to do.  Last time I combined the 13 chapters into […]
  • Plutei manuscripts online at the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, but … not useful
    UPDATE: A comment below informs me that the address for the BML is currently the rather awkward  If you use the search box at top right and enter Plut.20.2, you will get to the manuscript details, and there is an icon to view the images in Mirador.  The site does now feature an IIIF […]
  • Forty-Seven Latin Miracle Stories of St Nicholas – Now Online in English
    I’ve just uploaded a file containing the Latin text, with a translation, of 47 of the miracle stories of St Nicholas which are found in medieval manuscripts.  These are BHL 6130-6147 inclusive.  A couple of the texts I have transcribed from manuscripts online.  Most are from the Bollandist catalogues of the Brussels and Paris libraries, […]
  • Another drawing of the Septizonium
    Uploaded on Easter Sunday to was an interesting volume, with the description: “Salzburg, Universitätsbibliothek, M III 40, MONUMENTA ANTIQUA ROMANA — Lombardei, 4. Viertel 15. Jh.”  I.e. 4th quarter of the 15th century, 1475-1500.  It contains sketches of a number of the monuments of ancient Rome then standing, and notes about these, which seem […]
  • Are there any legends about the widow’s mite in medieval hagiography?
    An interesting letter from a correspondent: … We are working on a hagiographic project to uncover and develop the story of the poor widow who offered her two coins in Mark 12 and Luke 21. We have been exploring numerous Eastern Orthodox channels and so far have found no evidence of any preexisting tradition or […]
  • An odd adverb in a miracle story of St Nicholas
    Any fool can publish a Latin text without a translation.  Few people will want to go through it, looking for problems.  But if you have to translate the text, that forces you to examine every word.  This in turn brings you immediately into contact with any problems in the text. One of the miracle stories […]
  • Gilbert H. Doble’s “Cornish Saints” series – online in Brittany
    The Catholic diocese of Finisterre in Brittany has a digital library here.  Among this material are many volumes of the “Cornish Saints” pamphlets, issued by Gilbert Doble in the 20s and 30s. Just search for “Doble” in the search bar, and up they come – 46 of them. I stumbled on this by accident, and […]
  • Some musings on “Patron Saints”
    In ordinary daily usage we hear the phrase “patron saint”.  Thus St George is the patron saint of England.  St Piran is today often called the patron saint of Cornwall, a usage that was unknown within my memory, other than to antiquarians.  St Gertrude of Nivelle is sometimes called the patron saint of cats, a […]
  • A translation of a homily by Ephraem Graecus online in English!
    Some years ago I wrote a very long article here on whether pseudo-Ephraim testifies in the 4-5th century to a belief in the Rapture; the idea that, before the Tribulation described in Revelation, the saints will all be caught up in the air by God and taken away.  This is quite a controversial subject in […]
  • Searching for BHL 6173 and 6175 (Part 5) – the “Magnum Legendarium Austriacum”
    Our two fragments of story of St Nicholas, BHL 6173 and 6175, originate from a early 12th century sermon on St Nicholas by Honorius of Augustodunensis.  But not directly. In the late 12th century somebody created a massive 4-volume collection of material about the saints, in saint’s day order.  Each volume contained 3 months of […]
  • Honorius Augustodunensis, “Sermo de S. Nicolai” now online
    I’ve just completed my translation of this early 12th century sermon, from the Speculum Ecclesiae or Mirror of the Church by Honorius Augustodunensis.  I’ve included the Latin text.  This text is the origin of the fragments BHL 6173 and 6175.  Here it is: Honorius Augustodunensis – Sermon on St Nicholas (PDF) Honorius Augustodunensis – Sermon on St […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve been doing a bit of a side-project for the last couple of days. The short St Nicholas legends (reference BHL 6173 and 6175), that I have been working on, in fact derive – via the Magnum Legendarium Austriacum, of which more next week-  from the sermon on St Nicholas included by Honorius of Augustodunensis […]
  • Searching for BHL 6173 and 6175 (Part 4) – A couple of manuscripts of the Speculum of Honorius of Augustodunensis
    There are manuscripts of the Speculum of Honorius of Augustodunensis around online.  Here’s one at a library in Madrid, and a PDF can be downloaded from here!  The site, curiously, is silent about what library this item belongs to, or the shelfmark. That’s… awkward. At the mighty BSB in Munich, there’s another one here, although it’s […]
  • Searching for BHL 6173 and 6175 (part 3) – Honorius of Augustodunensis
    In my first post, I started searching online for a manuscript copy of BHL 6173, a miracle story about St Nicholas, in order to locate a copy of the text.  I continued with this post, looking at two Austrian manuscripts.  But then a kind commenter “Diego” here drew my attention to the Speculum Ecclesiae, or Mirror […]
  • Getting a manuscript offline from the Forschungsbibliothek Gotha
    The Gotha collection of manuscripts is less well-known than it should be, except to specialists.  But anybody doing anything with English and Cornish and Welsh saints’ lives is aware of a semi-mythical manuscript in that collection, with the shelfmark “Gotha Forschungsbibliothek Membr. I 81”.  These lives are mainly accessed in an abbreviated recension made by […]
  • Searching for BHL 6173 (part 2)
    In my last post, I started searching online for a manuscript copy of BHL 6173, a miracle story about St Nicholas, which has never been printed.  Two French manuscripts were supposed to contain a copy; neither did.  But two Austrian manuscripts were also listed by the Bollandists in their BHLms database: Heiligenkreuz SB 14 Melk […]
  • Searching for BHL 6173
    I’ve gathered nearly 50 miracle stories of St Nicholas, using the wonderful Bibliographica Hagiographica Latina (BHL) index.  BHL 6173 (beginning “Quidam praepotens vir, accersito aurifice…“; “A certain powerful man, an accomplished goldsmith…”) is an epitome of BHL 6172, so the Bollandists did not trouble to print the text.  So I need to look at the […]
  • From my diary
    For some months a copy of Charles W. Jones, Saint Nicholas of Myra, Bari, and Manhattan has sat next to my computer, pestering me to read it.  Today I gave up and fed it to the sheet-feed scanner.  It is no more; just a PDF, floating in the void.  Even as I write, Adobe Acrobat Pro […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve just finished translating BHL 6170, a rather pointless miracle story by St Nicholas, published in 1889 by the Bollandists as part of the second volume of their catalogue of the Latin manuscripts of the Royal Belgian Library.  The Bollandists were very busy at the end of the 19th century, and for each manuscript they […]
  • Apollodorus of Damascus (c. 100 AD), “On military engineering”
    A tweet by Gareth Harney drew my attention to a collection of ancient works on siegecraft, transmitted together in the Byzantine period, with splendid illustrations.  As with all technical texts, they probably were altered somewhat along the way. One of these is the Poliorcetica by Apollodorus of Damascus.  He was an important Roman engineer in […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve been away for a week.  I took a laptop, but blessedly never touched it.  Remarkably I had excellent weather nearly the whole time. Sightseeing, beaches, trips over the moors: all very different.  Even the 270 mile drives each way were not that great a problem.  Naturally I return to quite an inbox, but I […]
  • A letter by the gnostic Valentinus preserved among the letters of Basil of Caesarea?
    I have received an email from Nathan Porter, who has an article due out in Vigiliae Christianae, “A Newly Identified Letter of Valentinus on Jesus’s Digestive System: Ps.-Basil of Caesarea’s ep. 366”.  Thankfully the article is available at here. It seems that Basil of Caesarea’s Epistula 366 (De continentia) is verbally identical, in places, with portions […]
  • The fragrant underwear of St Nicholas
    The medieval miracle stories of St Nicholas are unsophisticated.  One of these, BHL 6168, contains the following episode, which provoked a few unintentional chuckles. …the blessed and chosen archbishop of our Lord Jesus Christ, Nicholas, when he was about to pass away from this light to the Lord in a wonderful way, and had completed […]
  • Some primary sources for the later legends of St Hilda
    The Anglo-Saxon Saint Hilda of Whitby is known to us, not from legendary material, but from a first-rate historical source, Bede’s History of the English Church and People.   The ruined medieval abbey still stands on the cliff-top above the town, and there is still an Anglican order of nuns with a priory in the town, […]
  • How did he get *that* reading?? (Again) – Recensio 7
    From one of the miracle stories of St Nicholas (BHL 6164), appended to John the Deacon.  The story so far.  St Nicholas has sneaked up on a gang of robbers who have looted a customs-house, which was left under the saint’s protection. Tunc dixit ad eos Sanctus Nicolaus, “O infelices et miseri, quid agitis? Numquid ignoratis, […]
  • From my diary
    An email arrived late yesterday from the library, advising me that a book had arrived, and apologising in case someone else had notified me already.  This was not the case, so I infer that my book had been sat there at the library for some time.  This morning I went in and collected it, and […]
  • English language review of Albocicade’s “Chrétiens en débat avec l’islam”
    French blogger Albocicade, who writes at Les Cigales Eloquentes and also maintains a site of resources on Theodore Abu Qurrah writes to say that his book – Chrétiens en débat avec l’islam, VII°-XXI° siècle: Paul d’Antioche, Anba Jirji al-Semani, Théodore Abu Qurrah, Timothée I de Bagdad (2022), ISBN : 978-2-14-026799-4 – has been reviewed in English very kindly […]
  • Please do plagiarize me, I don’t care: a blogger writes about #ReceptioGate
    On Christmas Eve, a blogger named Peter Kidd launched an attack on Twitter on a Swiss academic named Carla Rossi and her RECEPTIO foundation, with a blog post headed “Nobody cares about your blog!” Dr Rossi had helped herself to some images and some of the research on the blog while doing her own research, […]
  • From my diary
    An email from my local library advises that a copy of K. Meisen’s Nikolauskult und Nikolausbrauch im Abendland (1928) has arrived.  Tomorrow I shall go and get it.  I can’t read German very well, so I will have to scan it into a PDF, so that I can use Google Translate on it.  So I think […]
  • A complete Ibn Abi Usaibia “History of Medicine” now online in Arabic and English
    Something that passed me by, and which I only became aware of today, is that in 2020 a modern scholarly text and translation appeared of Ibn Abi Usaibia’s History of Medicine, from Brill. The author – often known in online forums as IAU – wrote in the 13th century, so it’s basically a bunch of […]
  • Fascinating extra stuff at Google Translate for Latin
    About a year ago Google Translate for Latin changed, and started to produce very good translations indeed.  I commented on this in April 2022 here.  I never saw any announcement of this.  But yesterday I again saw something new. I pasted into the Latin box part of a medieval miracle story of St Nicholas.  It […]
  • Whatever became of the World-Wide Web?
    The only certainty in life is change.  If things are bad, the only certainty is that they will be different soon.  If things are good, the only certainty is that they will be different soon.  This can be a comfort, or a warning.  But it is a fact. What brought this on, you may ask?  […]
  • “Duo mercatores” – Another miracle story about St Nicholas (BHL 6159)
    Here’s the Latin text and a Google translation of another of the random miracle stories that fill up the medieval manuscripts of the Life of St Nicholas.  This one is uncommon. The Bollandists assign it the number BHL 6159, and it only appears in three manuscripts, all in Belgium.  None of these are online.  Luckily […]
  • Fact Check: Did Clement of Alexandria say that “Every woman should be overwhelmed with shame at the thought that she is a woman”?
    An interesting query on yesterday’s post here: I wanted to know if you know where that quote attributed to Clement of Alexandria “Every woman should be overwhelmed with shame at the thought that she is a woman” comes from? In fact, some indicate that this phrase comes from Clement’s book “pedagogue 2”, but when I […]
  • Five miracle stories about St Nicholas
    The medieval manuscripts that contain the Life of St Nicholas almost always continue with a mass of miracle stories about the saint.  The 1751 pre-critical edition by Falconius does the same.  The genuine Life by John the Deacon ends with his “chapter 13” – the numbering is his – but there are more chapters.  Anybody who looks […]
  • Happy New Year
    A very happy new year to you all! This year I intend to continue looking at the Latin text of the legends of St Nicholas, and comparing the manuscripts.  I don’t know what will be the end goal of this, but I’m enjoying doing it.  At the moment I am still collecting and making PDFs […]
  • Learning by doing again – Recensio part 6
    I’ve now collated my Latin text – all 6 sentences of it – with 2 early editions and 24 manuscripts.  I have at least another 6-10 manuscripts accessible to me to collate. As I thought, this is a case where you have to learn by doing.  You have to attempt to collate the text and […]
  • The fragile world of online research tools
    It’s after lunch on a rainy Saturday, the central heating is on, and it’s New Year’s Eve.  I have my can of diet coke and some crisps.  Time to download and collate some more manuscripts of John the Deacon! First, off to the Bollandists site, the BHLms, here, to find out which manuscripts are next […]
  • A translation query in Augustine’s “Treatise against the Jews”
    I received today an interesting query about an old post from 2015 in which I give an English translation of Augustine’s Adversus Judaeos.  This involves some looking up, so I thought I would blog about it. Daniel Boyarin’s “Carnal Israel”  begins with a brief quote from Augustine’s Tractatus adversus Judaeos, (vii, 9)  which reads as follows: […]
  • A discontinued edition of Chrysostom’s “Adversus Judaeos”
    There’s a fascinating blog post this morning from Guillaume Bady at the Chrysostom blog:  L’édition interrompue des Sermons contre les juifs et les judaïsants de Jean Chrysostome.  Using Google Translate: The discontinued edition of John Chrysostom’s Sermons Against the Jews and Judaizers Published on December 26, 2022 by Guillaume Bady The edition of Sermons against the […]
  • Merry Christmas, everyone!
    It is Christmas Eve.  A silence falls across the land.  All the shops are shut, and the sound of the motorcar falls silent at  last.  Those rushing to and fro are at home around the Christmas tree. Some have gone to sing carols at the village church.  Others are with them in spirit, if not […]
  • Learning by Making a Collation – Recensio part 5
    I’ve commented before on “learning by doing”, how you have to actually attempt something in order, not to do it, but to find out how to do it.  You never get it right first time, because when you make your first attempt, what you’re actually learning is how not to do it.  When you try […]
  • Some Christmas excerpts from Venantius Fortunatus at Purple Motes
    A good post here at Douglas Galbi’s blog, Purple Motes, with some quotes from Venantius Fortunatus! sharing food indicates love in Fortunatus’s poetry
  • The Alcobaca manuscripts – catalogue located, and lots online at Lisbon!
    In my last post, I referred to a manuscript of the Alcobaca monastery in Portugal, number 113.  Afterwards I started to search for information.  I discovered that the modern catalogue in three volumes by Thomas L. Amos, The Fundo Alcobaça of the Biblioteca Nacional, Lisbon (1988), is online at! Vol. 1 – Vol. 2 […]
  • Delving into old references in the BHL
    One of the problems with skim-reading is that you miss stuff.  You can stare at the same pages repeatedly, and never see some of the things on the page. Last night, I noticed some stuff in the St Nicholas material in the Bibliographia Hagiographica Latina.  There is no excuse for not having read it carefully enough, […]
  • It’s starting to work! – Recensio part 4
    This afternoon I went to my draft text and translation, and, as per my last post, starting from the top, looked for a place in the text where the editions differed in meaning.  I did not have to go far before I found this place, on “in vocem” or “in clamationem“. To those wondering how […]
  • O novam Jacob stropham! – Recensio part 3
    The earliest printed editions of a text are often merely a printed version of some manuscript that the editor had to hand; or are based on a prior edition, plus readings from such a manuscript.  In some cases all the manuscripts were destroyed afterwards, and we only have the printed edition.  This is the case […]
  • The December Poems in the Chronography of 354
    For December, the images are preserved in the usual four manuscripts.  The poems are mainly preserved in various unillustrated manuscripts, but also appear in R1, the Barberini manuscript. Here is the 4-line poem (tetrastich): Annua sulcatae connectens semina terrae Pascit hiems; pluvio de Iove cuncta madent. Aurea nunc revocet Saturno festa December, Nunc tibi cum […]
  • From my diary
    Another couple of manuscripts were located today, and the relevant portions downloaded. Today I worked out how to download manuscripts from the Austrian National Library in Vienna, and indeed wrote a little post on how.  One of these is listed in the Bollandists website; the other is not, and contains only one part of the […]
  • How to download a manuscript at the Austrian National Library (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek)
    This is for all you non-German speakers out there.  Yes, it is indeed possible to download a PDF of manuscripts at the ONB in Vienna! All the fully-digitised manuscripts for the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek are listed on a page here:  (The link doesn’t look very permanent, so you might have to search at  [Update: […]
  • From my diary
    The first sounding for variants in the Latin text of John the Deacon was a decided success.  Now we have four variants for a single word, which seems to divide the witnesses quite nicely.  There is another doubtful place a couple of lines below, to look into next. I’ve downloaded around 30 manuscripts so far, […]
  • How to lose the first letter of a word in transmission
    In my last post I looked at how to decide what the genuine reading was of a single word in John the Deacon’s Latin text.  Among the variants was “Nacta” and “Acta”. Purely by chance this evening I have come across a perfect illustration of how Nacta became Acta.  It is to be found in […]
  • Inventa ergo… Or maybe not – Recensio, part 2.
    Time to plunge into the text and see if I can find any errors in the manuscripts that might help me divide them up into families. When I was collating the text of John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas, I came across a passage, which is interesting for the sheer number of textual variants, […]
  • How to Compare Manuscripts – Recensio part 1
    The Latin text that I am working on has never had a critical edition.  I am actually not sure what the author wrote at points, because the editions differ so much.  What to do? These days we have lots of manuscripts online.  But … how do we go about comparing them?  Where do we start? […]
  • From my diary
    Tomorrow is St Nicholas’ Day.  I’ve been working hard to complete my translation of the earliest Latin “life” of St Nicholas, by John the Deacon.  I pulled it all into one Word document at the weekend.  My intention was to read through it today a couple of times, and then get it out of the […]
  • A 4th century fork, with a mule-head finial
    Here’s a fascinating item currently held at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Inventory no 1987.210.  It’s a “furca”, a fork, or possibly a “furcula”, a table fork.  It’s just over 8 inches long (20.4cms): The museum date it to 375-425, but on what this is based they do not say.  I generally find that such […]
  • The Lippomano edition of John the Deacon
    The Life of St Nicholas by John the Deacon was printed in 1751 by Falconius, who refers to the earlier edition of Mombritius in 1477, but also that of Luigi Lippomano, Sanctorum priscorum patrum vitae, vol. 2, Venice (1553).  The Life of St Nicholas begins on folio 238v, here. I had thought that this was simply […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve returned to my translation of John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas.  I hope to have this ready and make it available by St Nicholas’ Day, December 6.  At the moment I am reading through the files from the start, and comparing it with the excellent Italian translation by P. Corsi based on a […]
  • Textual instability in hagiographical texts
    I’ve returned to working on a translation of John the deacon’s Life of St Nicholas.  I made a draft translation of the whole text, based upon the Falconius edition of 1751, before realising that this edition is not based on the authentic Life.  This was most evident in chapters 12 and 13, where the text of the […]
  • Bogus Bible Translations
    People are strange, and they do weird things.  But, as they said at Watergate, when nothing makes sense, follow the money.  See where it goes from, and who it goes to, and that will tell you what’s really going on. There are people out there who have created, deliberately, and at some expense, faked “translations” […]
  • Rediscovering the star-map of Hipparchus
    In Nature last month there was an extremely interesting article recording the discovery of a new text by Hipparchus in the palimpsest Codex Climaci Rescriptus, during – of all things! – a summer project led by Peter Williams of Tyndale Hall in Cambridge: First known map of night sky found hidden in Medieval parchment – Fabled […]
  • The November Poems in the Chronography of 354
    Four manuscripts of the Chronography contain an image for this month.  This includes the Barberini manuscript, with the poems. Here is the 4-line poem (tetrastich): Carbaseos post hunc artus indutus amictus Memphidos antiquae sacra deamque colit. A quo vix avidus sistro compescitur anser Devotusque satis incola, Memphi, deis. After this, arms limbs clad in a […]
  • The Last Hieroglyph
    The late Roman state was far more loosely organised than any modern state.  The abolition of official paganism at the end of the fourth century did not mean that all the temples were shut down.  Many continued to exist, so long as the local population wanted them to.  Near Alexandria at the start of the […]
  • The October Poems in the Chronography of 354
    For October, the images are preserved in four manuscripts of the Chronography.  The verses are preserved in R1, and in other, unillustrated copies of the text. Here is the 4-line poem (tetrastich): Dat prensum leporem cumque ipso palmite foetus October; pingues dat tibi ruris aves. Iam Bromios spumare lacus et musta sonare apparet: vino vas […]
  • From My Diary
    For the last six weeks my attention has been fully engaged in dealing with pointless and annoying domestic matters.  So there has been no time for anything important.  I hope to be able to post the October images and poems from the Chronography of 354 shortly, however, since I drew up a draft of the […]
  • “Amongst all savage beasts none is found so harmful as a woman” – a quote from John Chrysostom?
    A regular visitor to this blog also runs her own blog at She has been looking into a supposed quotation from John Chrysostom. “Among all savage beasts none is found so harmful as a woman.” – John Chrysostom The quotation circulates on the web, but predates the internet.  It forms part of a dossier […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve been clearing my inbox a little today, since I had a bit of time, and popping out a couple of blog posts.  Things are still not back to normal, but it is wonderful to be able to blog a bit.  I need to get back to doing proper Latin again too, but the pressure […]
  • The September Poems in the Chronography of 354
    A number of manuscripts contain an image for September.  But here again it is the Vatican Barberini manuscript that gives us the 4-line poem, the tetrastich: Turgentes acinos, varias et praesecat uvas September, sub quo mitia poma iacent. Captivam filo gaudens religasse lacertam Quae suspensa manu mobile ludit opus. The swelling berries and the different […]
  • Should we bring back Gelasius of Cyzicus?
    The publication of an English translation of Gelasius of Cyzicus (see here) brings us back to the question of just who was the author.  All the editions until recently attributed this work to “Gelasius of Cyzicus”.  In the recent GCS NF 9 edition, the editor, G. C. Hansen, reviews the origin of this, and roundly […]
  • Euthymius Zigabenus, Commentary on the Epistles
    Nicholas Antzaras writes to say that he has started a blog to report his progress, working on a text and translation of the Commentary on the Epistles by the Byzantine bible commentator Euthymius Zigabenus. It’s at So far he has collected the manuscripts and is busy collating them to produce a critical text.  This […]
  • Gelasius of Cyzicus now online in English!
    Great news!  The first English translation of Gelasius of Cyzicus has appeared!  It’s at the Fourth Century website of Glen L. Thompson, and may be found here.  There’s a PDF for each of the three books, and a webpage with the medieval chapter headings, or rather book summaries, here. I’m sure that more than a […]
  • From my diary
    I must apologise for the continued silence.  The business of moving house, and letting my old house, has continued to fill my life to the brim with urgent business that will matter nothing once it is done.  So this post is really just to let people know that I am still alive!  I’m gradually winning, I […]
  • Severus Sebokht, “Letter to Basil of Cyprus” (ca. 662) on ‘Arabic’ numerals
    The first reference to what we today call “Arabic” numerals comes in a letter by the Syriac scholar, Severus Sebokht, in about 662 AD.  The letter is often referenced in the literature, but has never been translated into English.  A German text and translation has been published fairly recently.  The letter itself is preserved in […]
  • From My Diary
    Since late May, I have been beset by an almost farcical number of trivial circumstances, each requiring my full attention, yet of no importance once they are dealt with.  Without going into much detail, these have included an emergency house move at the end of June, yet I am still in boxes; and trying to […]
  • Some thoughts about the term “theotokos”, used for Mary the mother of the Lord
    In the 5th century an Egyptian priest was disciplined by Nestorius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, for describing Mary the mother of Jesus as Θεοτόκος, “theotokos”.  Cyril, the Patriarch of Alexandria, decided to use this as a pretext for a bid for supremacy in the eastern church.  After much wrangling, a council was scheduled at Ephesus […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve been feeling guilty for not getting the August post out there from the Chronography of 354.  I have the draft materials on disk, but I do have to do some work, and I have had no time.  At least that is out there. A correspondent wrote to me and mentioned Petrus Crabbe.  I wondered […]
  • Petrus Crabbe (Pierre Crabbé) – first collector of all the church councils?
    Church councils tend to issue lists of regulations; or, in the jargon, “canons”.  These have been collected since antiquity, in all sorts of forms.  Once the era of printing arrived, inevitably the massive printed compilations followed, such as those of Surius, Mansi, and others. Yesterday I learned of the work of Petrus Crabbe.  He was […]
  • Petrus Crabbe and an online bibliography of Franciscan authors (13th-18th century)
    The earliest author of a big collection of the canons of church councils was a Franciscan chap called Pierre Crabbé, or rather Petrus Crabbe, according to the pleasant custom of the time.  In 1532 he undertook a search of more than 500 libraries for texts of the councils, and in 1538 he published a massive […]
  • The August Poems in the Chronography of 354
    Finally!  At last we have more than one manuscript containing an image for August, the first month where this is so since March. Here is the 4-line poem (tetrastich): Fontanos latices et lucida pocula vitro cerne, ut demerso torridus ore bibat. Aeterno regni signatus nomine mensis Latona genitam quo perhibent Hecaten. Look for spring waters […]
  • They walk among us
    Yesterday the removal men emptied my old house and brought all the contents to the new.  This included many bags full of books.  My library is not that large, and most of it is novels.  For I usually prefer to have scholarly materials in PDF form. On seeing the shelves set up to receive them, […]
  • From my diary
    It is day 14 of my house move, but I am still busy moving the accumulation of 24 years.  Most of my books are still at the old house, and 5 big book cases that I made when I was young.  I was busy removing books from the shelves yesterday.  Today my back has informed […]
  • The July Poems in the Chronography of 354
    The image for July is preserved once again only in a single manuscript of the Chronography, MS Vienna 3146, which never contains the text of the poems, only the pictures. So for the text of the poems, once again we are reliant on other, unillustrated, manuscripts, or the indirect tradition. Here is the 4-line poem […]
  • From my diary
    It’s been a busy couple of weeks.  I’ve been moving house, for the first time in 24 years.  I made the decision less than three weeks ago, the let of the property was only agreed about 10 days ago, and I took possession 5 days ago.  Today they installed an internet connection, which  took most […]
  • From my diary
    Not much is happening.  The mundane “business” of living has taken over my life.  I’ve barely been able to keep up with correspondence. I apologise to those who had to wait for replies. I had intended to post the poems for June, from the Chronography of 354, at the start of the month.  I had […]
  • The June Poems in the Chronography of 354
    Once again only a single manuscript of the Chronography contains an image for this month.  This is MS Vienna 3146, which never contains the text of the poems, only the pictures. So for the poems, once again we are reliant on other, unillustrated, manuscripts, or the indirect tradition. Here is the 4-line poem (tetrastich): Nudus […]
  • From my diary – thoughts about the text of John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas
    I have now scanned in the text of Corsi’s edition of John the Deacon, and found that – as he says – it is really a transcription of the Berlin manuscript, with better punctuation, plus a collation with the 1751 Falconius edition. He didn’t look at the Mombritius or Mai editions. But that’s just fine.  […]
  • From my diary
    It is a very long time since I have had to order a journal article through my local library.  The price of doing so became so enormous that it was impossible.  But a few weeks ago I realised that I really did need a copy of the following article: P. Corsi, “La ‘‘Vita” di San […]
  • From My Diary
    My apologies for the silence.  My central heating died the final death last week, after 32 years, and I’ve been getting a new boiler installed.  Anything major like that takes over your life, really it does.  The new boiler is now up and running, I can heat my house and my hot water once more.  […]
  • Finding and downloading medieval manuscripts online that you can print
    In my last post, I realise that I did something that I always find infuriating – I assumed stuff.  I started up the ladder, but omitted the first step.  Here’s a quick post on stuff you have to do first, then. Once you decide to edit a text which has never received a critical edition, […]
  • Printing out medieval manuscripts in preparation for editing
    At the start of my working life, fresh out of university, I was trained as a computer programmer and then assigned to a maintenance project.  This involved doing bug-fixes and small enhancements to an already rather elderly system, written in a near-obsolete language, and running on an IBM mainframe.  If I tell you that the […]
  • Getting Started With Collatex Standalone
    Collatex seems to be the standard collation tool.  Unfortunately I don’t much care for it.  Also interestingly, the web site does not actually tell you how to run it locally!  So here’s a quick note. Collatext is a Java program, so you must have a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) installed, for version 8 or higher.  […]
  • A way to compare two early-modern editions of a Latin text
    There are three early modern editions of John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas.  These are the Mombritius (1498), Falconius (1751) and Mai (1830-ish) editions.  I have already used Abbyy Finereader 15 to create a word document for each containing the electronic text. But how to compare these?  I took a look at Juxta but did […]
  • From my diary
    Back to John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas. I’ve now completely retranslated chapter 1, the prologue, which I made an attempt at last year.  I’ve been comparing the text of the Falconius (1751) edition, which I am translating, with the Mombritius (1498) and the Mai (1820-ish) editions, and finding small differences, and noting them. Over […]
  • The Anti-Scholar
    This afternoon I found myself debating with a Muslim polemicist online who was rubbishing the bible, and suggesting that we don’t even have the words of Jesus.  The polemicist dealt with my replies by ignoring them and simply making further claims, so our debate did not last long.  But in the process I was treated […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve had no time to do anything useful for a week, but I’m still gathering materials on John the Deacon as a sideline.  Thanks to the kindness of Fr. Gerardo Cioffari at the St Nicholas Centre in Bari (= Centro Studi Nicolaiani) – himself a considerable scholar -, I now have access to Pasquale Corsi’s […]
  • Fragment of unknown work by Apuleius discovered in Verona
    Via Ugo Mondini on Twitter I learn of an exciting find yesterday (May 9) at the Biblioteca Capitolare – the Chapter Library – in Verona.  It seems that an American team – the “Lazarus Project” – using Multi-Spectral Imaging have discovered a lost text by Apuleius. Via Quarantasette scatti per ciascuna pagina effettuati con […]
  • The May Poems in the Chronography of 354
    As with April, only a single manuscript of the Chronography contains an image for the month of May.  This is MS Vienna 3146, which never contains the poems. So again we are reliant on other unillustrated manuscripts, or the indirect tradition, for the poems. Here is the 4-line poem (tetrastich): Cunctas veris opes et picta […]
  • From my diary
    I have now run all the way through John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas and made a first pass at translating it.  However I find that I will have to redo the first two chapters, which I attempted last year, as they are no good.  This is rather disconcerting, considering the sheer hard graft […]
  • Working with pre-critical Latin texts
    Which comes first?  The text or the translation?  The question is not as simple as it seems. There is no finer way to come to grips with a text than by preparing an exact translation of it into another language.  This forces the translator to look at every case ending, every -ae and -um; every […]
  • A small personal amendment to the Lord’s prayer
    A few weeks ago I was asked to attend a memorial service for someone that I never met in my life.  Such are family commitments.  The service was for a child, and was every bit as sentimental and content-free as I had feared. I have never suffered from any urge whatsoever to be “religious”.  As […]
  • A bit of web searching for BHL 6106 = chapter 12 of John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas
    Alright, I got tempted.  I did a google search on BHL 6106, the chapter of John of the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas that I am currently translating, or rather prevaricating about translating! Almost instantly I came up with two manuscripts at the French National Library.  The first is 12th century, Ms. BNF Paris Latin 5573.  […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve settled back down to translating the Life of St Nicholas by John the Deacon.  The new and improved Google Translate for Latin has made it a far easier task.  The word order was exotic, and I had to crawl through each sentence, one by one, decrypting each word.  This was tedious and time-consuming.  Now […]
  • The April Poems in the Chronography of 354
    Only a single manuscript of the Chronography contains an image for the month of April.  This is MS Vienna 3146, which never contains the poems.  (I am told that the same image reappears in the Leiden MS Voss.Lat.Q 79, a manuscript of the Aratea!  But this I have not seen)  So we are reliant on […]
  • An Indian delegate at the First Council of Nicaea
    I heard an interesting story yesterday. Also recently discovered that the Indian Christian tradition was so well established by AD 325 that the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea had at least 1 delegate from the Indian Church.   … “India” was a more nebulous entity than the modern nation, so it may not have been within […]
  • Google Translate Latin – how it was, and how it is
    In 2019 I prepared to work on translating John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas.  I created a separate file for each chapter.  In each file I had the full text of the chapter.  Beneath that, on alternate lines, interleaved, was a sentence of the Latin and then the Google Translate output.  It is interesting to […]
  • From my diary
    I have returned to work on making a translation of John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas.  In July 2019 I prepared a Latin text.  The edition of Falconius, in 1751 seems to be all that there is!   During November and December 2020 I translated a couple of chapters with immense pain and huge labour […]
  • The Acts of the Council of Carthage in 397 and the Council of Hippo in 393 – online in English
    It is done.  I have finally finished the task of creating a translation of the Acts of the Council of Carthage in 397, incorporating the remains of the Acts of the Council of Hippo in 393.  The purpose of this exercise is to show how canon 36 of Hippo, which lists the canon of scripture, […]
  • The Pseudo-Chrysostomica database is now online
    Back in 2017 a project began (see a copy of the announcement here) to create a database of all the texts which in the manuscripts are wrongly attributed to John Chrysostom.  This is a very large number of texts – more than a thousand -, mainly Greek but also in Latin, Syriac, Armenian, Coptic, Georgian […]
  • Les Oeuvres complètes de Saint Augustin : évêque d’hippone – a 19th century translation
    It seems that there is a 32 volume (plus a volume of indexes) French translation from the 1860s of all the works of St Augustine.  Four translators are listed on the title page – Peronne, Vincent, Ecalle and Charpentier.  It’s published in Paris by Louis Vives.  How good the translation is, I do not know.  […]
  • The Byzantine Sea Walls of Thessalonica
    Thessalonica is a city that I have never visited, and have never had much awareness of.  But it is littered with Roman and Byzantine remains. Until the 1870s, the Byzantine walls of the city were largely intact.  This included massive walls all along the sea-front.  The existence of these forms a sad testimony to the […]
  • From my diary
    I have spent a very busy afternoon, pulling together most of the pieces of the Council of Hippo (393) and the two sessions of the Council of Carthage (397).  Despite all that I have done on this in the last twelve months, it has been rather awful.  I’m still not quite sure how to arrange […]
  • Munier’s “Concilia Africae” – read his Chronological Overview in English
    Let’s continue with our description of the material in the Latin preface to Munier’s Concilia Africae a. 345-a.525.  As I wrote in my previous post, this is a very dense and hard to understand preface, but anybody working with the book needs to know what is in it. The next chunk is actually very useful.  But […]
  • Munier’s “Concilia Africae” – read his Proemium in English
    During late antiquity the Catholic bishops of the Roman provinces of Africa frequently gathered in synods and issued rules (“canons”) for the behaviour of the clergy.  This created a mass of regulations which was eagerly seized on by other parts of the church and became a major source for medieval canon law.  The material for […]
  • From my diary
    The sudden improvement of Google Translate for Latin means that it is now possible to read a good many things written in Latin, modern as well as ancient.  I think that we have all picked up a critical edition of an ancient text and found that the preface is in Latin. If we were lucky, […]
  • The Council of Carthage (397), prefatory letter
    Something that I started on quite a long time ago was the very first item in Munier’s edition.  This was an introductory letter to the dossier.  It makes sense only if you know what happened. Basically Bishop Aurelius of Carthage summoned the council of Hippo in 393, which issued a bunch of canons – various […]
  • From my diary
    At the moment I am working on my translation of the minutes for the council of Hippo (393) and council of Carthage 3 (397).  This has been hanging around for ages, and I want it done.  I think I have translations of everything now, but I am taking advantage of the newly improved Google Translate […]
  • The Anthologia Graeca is online with manuscript, Greek, English, other languages
    I’ve just discovered  This is rather fabulous!
  • Five more canons of the Council of Hippo (393)
    In Munier’s edition of the material from the Council of Hippo, on page 32, there is a ‘First series of canons which are excerpted from the council of Hippo but which are not part of the “Summary of statues”‘.  I turned these into English back in December, but I was unable to work out where […]
  • Five stray canons of the Council of Hippo (393) – canons 4 and 5
    Here are the other two canons of Hippo rediscovered around 50 years ago.  The first one, canon 4, gave me a lot of trouble. 4.  Aurelius episcopus dixit : Sicut frater et collega noster Saturninus salubri consideratione deprompsit, debent episco­pi, non postquam pranderint, sed ieiuni cum populis ieiunis, quacumque hora, divina celebrare mysteria. Si vero […]
  • The Charaktêres site – Ancient Magic and Ritual Practice
    I’ve just become aware of a website devoted to the academic study of Ancient Magic and its rituals.  The site is Charaktêres – Ancient Magic and Ritual Practice, and it is run by Kirsten Dzwiza.  Apparently it dates back to 2008 originally – about the same date as this blog.  It is full of interesting […]
  • Five stray canons of the Council of Hippo (393) – canons 2 and 3
    It’s time to return to our translation of the canons of the Council of Hippo in 393, last visited in December last year here.  I’ve had a fair bit of material sitting on my desktop for a year, and it’s time to move some of it into the blog! As I said last time, five […]
  • The Meta Sudans from the Arch of Titus
    An unusual angle on the vanished monument, in this photograph from 1878 by John Henry Parker.   Sadly the resolution is low.  Via Twitter here.
  • The Life of St Piran – now online in English
    A couple of days ago I mentioned that Google Translate was doing an unusually good job on the Latin of the Life of St Piran (BHL 4659).  I’m afraid that I am easily distracted.  I had not planned to do so, but I seem to have produced a translation of the whole text.  So here it […]
  • The origins of Ash Wednesday
    Ash Wednesday, the dies cinerum, is the name used in English for the first day of Lent, the 40-day period of fasting that, in the medieval church, precedes Easter.  The Catholic and Anglican churches celebrate it by a church service of repentance, at which the people are marked with ashes, and this has become popular among […]
  • Pachomius, “Instruction concerning a spiteful monk” – now translated by Anthony Alcock
    There is a text preserved in a Coptic manuscript which is thought by some to be the work, or partly the work, of the Egyptian monastic leader Pachomius.  Dr Anthony Alcock has kindly prepared a new translation of the work, from the text printed by E. A. Budge in Coptic Apocrypha in the Dialect of […]
  • From my diary
    Last week, on Ash Wednesday, I happened to read some crazy claim by a neopagan that Ash Wednesday derived in some weird way from Woden (!).  Since then I have been working on a post about the origins of Ash Wednesday, and specifically the imposition of ashes.  It’s been a long and weary haul, as […]
  • A modern confusion between St Piran, and the “Saint” Pir who died while drunk
    March 5th is St Piran’s Day.  St Piran was a celtic saint who probably lived around 500 AD.  In recent years there has been increased media interest in St Piran, as the symbol of Cornwall.  The Cornish flag is called “St Piran’s flag.”  I suspect most of this stuff is from incomers, and that it […]
  • Did Pope Gregory the Great add four days to Lent?
    Here’s a story that you can find in many places on the internet.  The season of Lent is 40 days of fasting.  This is why it is called Quadragesima, in the West.  So Lent must start on the Sunday which is forty days before Easter.  But it is also the rule that fasting is not […]
  • Robert Bellarmine, Opera Omnia volumes at Google Books
    Yesterday I needed to look up something in the works of counter-Reformation writer Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (a.k.a. Roberto Bellarmino), about whom I know nothing very much.  I found it very difficult to do so using a Google search. It turns out that there is an Opera Omnia, which was reprinted in Paris by Louis Vivès in […]
  • The March Poems in the Chronography of 354
    A number of manuscripts contain an image for March.  But here again it is the Vatican Barberini manuscript that gives us the 4-line poem, the tetrastich: Cinctum pelle lupae promptum est cognoscere mensem Mars olli nomen, Mars dedit exuvias. Tempus vernum haedus petulans et garrula hirundo indicat et sinus lactis et herba virens. Know the month […]
  • The February Poems in the Chronography of 354
    The month of February has a number of illustrations.  In the Vatican Barberini manuscript, the 4-line poem (tetrastich) appears written down the side.  Here it is: At quem caeruleus nodo constringit amictus, quique paludicolam prendere gaudet avem, daedala quem iactu pluvio circumvenit Iris: Romuleo ritu februa mensis habet. And he whom the cerulean cloak wraps […]
  • The January Poems in the Chronography of 354
    Each month in the Chronography of 354 consists of a two-page spread.  On the left there is an illustration of the month, on the right a calendar of days and festivals and anniversaries. For the month of January the 4-line poem (= tetrastich) is preserved only in manuscripts of the Anthologia Latina.  Here it is: […]
  • An Introduction to the Poems of the Chronography of 354
    I’m going to do a little series of twelve posts, one per month, on the poems in an ancient text, the Chronography of 354.  Let me first say something about that book. In 354 AD, perhaps as a gift for New Year’s Day, an otherwise unknown Roman nobleman named Valentinus received a  very splendid present.  […]
  • “From your Valentine” – a modern legend, plus a bibliographical puzzle partly resolved
    Anyone searching the web for information about Saint Valentine is going to come across a story where Valentine heals his jailer’s daughter, the two fall in love, and, on the morning of his execution he sends her a message signed “Your Valentine”.  There seems to be no canonical version of the story, so no two […]
  • The earliest mentions of St Valentine
    Databases are handy things.  The truly wonderful Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity database at Oxford University allows you to search and see just what the earliest mentions are of the cultus of any particular saint.  Even better, it is open-access. Today I did a simple search on St Valentine, Valentinus, and the results can […]
  • Sacramentarium Gelasianum – The Gelasian Sacramentary
    Ancient and medieval church service books, or liturgical manuscripts, are a subject of their own, about which I know nothing.  Today I had occasion to find out something about the Sacramentarium Gelasianum, or Gelasian Sacramentary, so I thought that I would share it with you. There are three ancient service books which have survived to our […]
  • An account of St Valentine of Rome from 1730
    It is Valentine’s Day, and I have been looking at a particular modern legend and trying to deduce its real origin.  In the process I came across a volume of Saints’ Lives, compiled in Spanish by Pedro de Ribadeneyra, and translated into English in 1730 under the title, “The Lives of the Saints: With Other […]
  • “De solstitiis et aequinoctiis” (CPL 2277) – now online in English!
    I’ve written before about this interesting 4th century text, De solstitiis et aequinoctiis (On the solstices and equinoxes), here and on posts linked here, including creating an electronic text.  The author is unknown, but the work is one of the few ancient texts that labels the 25 December as the “birthday of the sun”.  It also […]
  • A Roman bog body found on Grewelthorpe Moor in 1850
    Here’s a fascinating post on Twitter here, by Emily Tilley: In 1850 two brothers digging peat on Grewelthorpe Moor found a Roman bog body wearing a green toga, scarlet robe, & yellow stockings. A policeman prevented the destruction of the remains & saved this hobnailed shoe sole, insole, & stocking fragment. For more information I […]
  • How to find a specific manuscript by shelfmark at the Bibliothèque Nationale Français website
    The French National Library has a great mass of medieval manuscripts online at its Gallica site.  Finding them, however, can be very tricky. Some time back, a genius drew a chart of how to do this.  It does work – my rather Covid-addled memory tells me only that I did work through it. I probably […]
  • Shenoute, “I have heard about your wisdom” (Ad Flavianum ducem) – English translation by Anthony Alcock
    An email last night brought with it a text and English translation of a Coptic text, Abbot Shenoute “I have heard about your wisdom” (the Discourse in the presence of Flavian or Ad Flavianum ducem), made by Dr Anthony Alcock.  Alin Suciu has discussed this text somewhat here.  The slightly unusual title is in fact […]
  • From my diary
    The big news is that Dr Isabella Image has today very kindly sent me a rather wonderful draft translation of an anonymous 4th century text, De solstitiis et aequinoctiis, about which I have written before.  It’s never been translated before into any modern language, and it is full of interesting things.  The author suggests that […]
  • A problem with “scrupulositas”
    I learned a word this week.  The word is “scrupulosity”, meaning a self-tormenting and obsessive worry about committing minor sins.  I learned of it from a twitter thread here, where some devout Roman Catholics were discussing some less than ideal behaviour by religious orders: @jdflynn: When I was in college, I knew a lot of […]
  • A brief yet very nice description of the calculation of the date of Easter from … a PHP manual!
    Computer programs need to calculate the date of Easter sometimes.  In the PHP programming language, there is a function, easter_date, which is used for the purpose.  The manual page is here, and is really rather good! The date of Easter Day was defined by the Council of Nicaea in AD325 as the Sunday after the […]
  • From my diary
    I work a lot with Latin texts.  So I use my own QuickLatin tool a lot, in order to do so.  Over the last few weeks I have found myself drawn to work on it some more.  I’m adding in some context-sensitive syntax information, as this is the area that my schoolboy Latin is weakest […]
  • Is the Latin infinitive a “mood”?
    Recently I found myself wondering about the Latin verb, and specifically the “mood” – indicative, subjunctive, imperative, and so on.  Partly this came about after I read a blog post on the Dyspepsia Generation blog, on “Latin by the Dowling method”, whatever that might be. The blog as a whole is a long-running US right-wing […]
  • Three common mistakes when consulting the Fathers
    While looking through Google Books, I came across a valuable footnote in Paul A. Hartog, The Contemporary Church and the Early Church: Case Studies in Ressourcement (Wipf & Stock, 2010). There seem to be no page numbers in the preview, but the note is linked to here.  The underlining is mine. 88. … To his […]
  • Did Theophilus of Caesarea in 190 AD state that Christmas must be observed?
    Now here’s an interesting claim! It is rather seasonal, and was posted on Christmas Day, and is here: Theophilus (A.D. 115-181), bishop of Caesarea in Palestine writes: “We ought to celebrate the birthday of Our Lord on what day soever the 25th of December shall happen. – Magdeburgenses, Cent. 2. c. 6. Hospinian, De origine […]
  • Did ancient writers say that Jeremiah 10:3-5 was about Christmas trees?
    There is an idea that circulates in certain fringe groups in the USA that Jeremiah 10:3-5 (KJV here) condemns the use of Christmas trees. Here’s the bible passage, in the KJV (as is invariably used): 3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work […]
  • Parallelomania, Bad Scholarship, and Fake History
    There are pyramids in Egypt.  Indeed if we know anything about Egypt, we know it has pyramids.  Almost as well-known are the massive pyramids of Mexico.  This tells a certain sort of person that the two are connected!  Either the Mexicans travelled to Egypt, or the Egyptians sailed to Mexico, or … inevitably … a […]
  • Cyril of Alexandria’s lost “Commentary on Hebrews” now available in English!
    Last year we heard that the lost Commentary on Hebrews by Cyril of Alexandria had been rediscovered in three Armenian manuscripts in the Matenadaran library in Yerevan, the Armenian capital.  The publisher has now produced an edition in Armenian with facing English translation! The price is about $60, which is not expensive.  It is available from […]
  • Five stray canons of the Council of Hippo (393) – canon 1
    The canons of the council of Hippo in 393 are lost.  Indeed at the third council of Carthage in 397, delegates complained that many had never seen the canons.  This point was grimly noted by the presiding bishop, Aurelius of Carthage, who thereafter ensured that everything was written down.  Since he held annual councils for […]
  • A modern myth: St Boniface and the Christmas Tree
    Christmas first appears in the historical record in 336, in Rome.  But there is no trace of anybody having a “Christmas tree” until 1521, when a record of trees being cut for this purpose appears in a town register in Séléstat in Alsace.  The tree was decorated with red apples and unconsecrated communion wafers.  When […]
  • Looking for the vanished North Gate of Ipswich
    The Suffolk town of Ipswich has almost no historical monuments, or historical feel, despite being one of the oldest towns in England.  Indeed it was founded in the early Anglosaxon period.  Three gates are preserved in street names – west, north and east – and there is certainly evidence for two of the medieval gates, […]
  • From My Diary
    It has been interesting to wander off for a bit into the field of early Welsh studies.  But I very much want to return to more familiar territory now. Sitting on my desktop are a number of Word documents, containing partially complete translations of documents from the Council of Hippo (393) and the 3rd Council […]
  • More on Llan Awst
    Now that we have located the missing Welsh hamlet of Llan Awst using the tithe map of 1844 – about which more in a moment -, it’s time to give some more information about the area. On the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) website, the tithe maps are also linked […]
  • The location of Llan Awst
    Since I read in G. H. Doble’s Saint Mewan and Saint Austell that there was a related place in Wales named Llanawystl, I have tried to find out where this might be, as I mentioned here. In particular I was working from a reference in George Borrow’s Wild Wales, where he says that in 1854 he “passed […]
  • Llanawstl: Trying to read the entry for Hawystl in the Welsh Peniarth manuscript 127
    I’m still trying to establish whether there was a locality in Wales, Llanawstl, which might relate to the Cornish St Austell. My first post on this is here. The Welsh National Library has online here a very useful resource: Peter Bartrum, A Welsh Classical Dictionary: People in History and Legend up to about A.D. 1000 (1993).  […]
  • “Lanawstl” or “Llanawstl” near Machen in Monmouthshire – a reference to St Austol?
    While reading the copy of G. H. Doble’s “Saint Mewan and Saint Austol” that I mentioned a post or two ago here, I came across an interesting statement on p.13: In another part of Gwent, in the parish of Machen in Monmouthshire, is a place called Lanawstl, which must mean “The Monastery of Austol.” The […]
  • The rediscovery of Philo, Eusebius’ Chronicon in Armenian
    A number of otherwise lost works of antiquity are preserved in Armenian.  The monks of the Mechitarist order, Armenians based in Venice, were responsible for the first publications of these, usually with a Latin translation.  Such was their scholarly reputation that, when the French Revolutionaries conquered Venice, under a certain Napoleon, and seized almost all […]
  • G.H.Doble’s “Cornish Saints” series – the original booklets
    After the Roman collapse in Britain, our sources for history become very scanty.  In Cornwall in particular we are almost entirely dependent on interpreting scraps in medieval saints’ lives – often written centuries later than the events – or making deductions from place names. The pioneer in this area was Canon Gilbert H. Doble (1880-1945), […]
  • From my diary
    It’s hard to say what I have done this year, yet I have been very busy with personal stuff. The low-level disruption of life caused by the plague, and by the measures taken to avert it, has tended to drain my energies.  I keep reminding myself that this is true for all of us, and […]
  • An 1850 photograph of the Palatine and Meta Sudans by Rev. John Shaw Smith
    This interesting item was posted on Twitter here. Photographs of the Meta Sudans are always welcome.  This one is at an unusual angle and indicates that the destruction facing the Colosseum was not flat 180°, as it often appears in photographs, but nearer 150°. The photographer, the Rev. John Shaw Smith, was an Irish clergyman […]
  • St Jerome on “Christmas Trees” in Jeremiah 10
    There is an interesting claim that circulates online – one of many – that Jeremiah 10:2-5 condemns the use of Christmas trees.  Helpfully this site, “Watch Jerusalem” gives the claim plainly: The Book of Jeremiah (written around 600 B.C.E.) states the following: “Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: […]
  • The Pratum Spirituale / Spiritual Meadow of John Moschus
    Yesterday I quoted a story from the Acts of Nicaea II (787) where a monk was told it would be better to visit every brothel in the City rather than abandon worshipping the images of Christ and his Mother.  This is attributed to Sophronius, but a kind correspondent pointed out that it is in fact […]
  • Better to visit every brothel in the city than deny the worship of images? A quote from Nicaea II?
    A curious claim on Twitter a couple of days ago, here: “It is better to admit all brothals into a city than deny the worship of Images.” -John, legate of the Greeks at the Second Council of Nicaea The quotation is clearly corrupt, genuine or otherwise.  But where does it come from?  Was this really […]
  • Copying old floppy disks – an adventure in time!
    Yesterday I inherited a couple of cases of old 3.5″ floppy disks.  Most of them were plainly software, of no special relevance.  But it was possible that some contained files and photographs of a deceased relative, which should be preserved. My first instinct was to use my travelling laptop, which runs Windows 7, and a […]
  • A plea for prioritisation of translation of foreign literatures
    The world is wide and the languages within it, living and dead, are numerous beyond counting.  None of us can know enough to read more than a fraction of what has been written.  But if the texts are not in English, then few of us will ever read any of them. The first step in […]
  • Where does the Vulgate use the word “unicorn”?
    In the King James Version of the bible, the unicorn is mentioned in Numbers 23:22 and 24:8, Deuteronomy 33:17, Job 39:9,10, Psalms 22:21, 29:6 and 92:10, and in Isaiah 34:7.  As I understand it, in 1611, in current English, the words “unicorn” and “rhinoceros” referred to the same, vaguely known, animal.  The two go back […]
  • New blog on later Neoplatonism – the Unhistorize blog
    Thanks to a link-back, I came across the Unhistorize blog. This seems to have started this summer. The blog has posts about What Orphica did the late Neoplatonists read? and Proclus on Atlas and the Pleiades (and the Muses) etc.  There is also Attis-related material, curse-tablets, and excerpts from Sallustius. The author has made the […]
  • The translators of the KJV speak! What they did about obscure words etc
    The Translator’s Preface to the Authorized Version is online here, yet few are aware of it, or refer to it.  It begins with many tedious pages justifying their task.  But then it becomes more interesting. First, on p.25, they discuss marginal notes, or variants as we would call them.  I’ve over-paragraphed and modernised the language […]
  • A high-quality 1865 photograph of the Meta Sudans, via Rome Ieri Oggi
    The incredible Roma Ieri Oggi website continues to post old photographs on the web.  This one here is a view of the piazza of the Colosseum, but looking up the Sacred Way to the Arch of Titus.  It’s high quality, and can be zoomed in to an amazing extent. I’ve snipped the portion showing the […]
  • Ancient references to Jewish attitudes to abortion
    There seem to be very few statements in ancient literature on Jewish attitudes to abortion.  Here is what I have been able to find.  I have not included material from the Mishnah or Talmud, which I may include in a separate post. For reference, here’s the Masoretic text of Exodus 21:22-25 (RSV). 22 “When men strive […]
  • From my diary
    My last post, on an attempt by greedy Italian officials to charge for every photograph uploaded to the web, reminded me of a story about another curious foreign custom, told to me by my father, a retired serviceman, some years ago. In the 1950s my father was a young man in military service.  He was […]
  • Italian government: “You took some photographs of ancient art!? PAY ME!”
    Among the monuments of Mithras is CIMRM 584, a relief showing the tauroctony, Mithras killing the bull.  It was probably found in Rome, but is today in Venice, as part of the Zulian bequest.  I came across a photograph online, and added it to the catalogue of Mithraic monuments. While googling, I found another photograph […]
  • Two pages of lost ancient text the “Orphic Rhapsodies” found in Sinai palimpsest
    I learned today via the Austrian Academy of Sciences (@oeaw) of a very exciting discovery indeed at the monastery of Mount Sinai in Egypt.  There is a rather good article about it at the OEAW site here, with photographs. A previously lost Greek classical text in hexameters has been found in a palimpsest, as the […]
  • It was twenty years ago today: 20 years of Rob Bradshaw and “Theology on the Web”
    A tweet by the excellent Rob Bradshaw alerts me to the fact that he has been plugging away and uploading scholarly material to the web for twenty years now, at a range of sites run by himself, including,, and many others.  The hub site is The material available is now in excess of […]
  • Ambrosiaster’s Dubia: Is there a translation of fragments of a commentary on Matthew?
    I received an email this afternoon on a very obscure text, which led me to do a little bibliographical work. I wonder if you might know whether anyone has published an English translation of the short fragment from a Latin Commentary on Matthew (on 24.19-44) published independently by Mercati (G. Mercati, Varia sacra: “Anonymi Chiliastae […]
  • The “Sortes Astrampsychi” or “The lots of Astrampsychus” – an ancient fortune-telling manual
    In the last few posts we’ve been looking at surviving 20-sided dice from antiquity.  From Pausanias we learn that dice, or knuckle-bones – astragalli – were used for oracles; throw the dice, pick the god’s answer from a list.  We do not have any testimony on how these particular dice, with 20-sides, were used, but […]
  • A pair of Italian leaves of the 16-17th century, a prospect of Rome, and the Baths of Constantine
    A correspondent writes to tell us all about an item sold at Sothebys on 12 April 2016, in its sale of the “European Decorative Arts From Caramoor Center For Music And The Arts”.  Lot 168 (online here) is “A pair of Italian leaves with scenes of Venus in her chariot and a sacrifice. 16/17th century.”  […]
  • The Confession and Martyrdom of Cyprian of Antioch – translated by Anthony Alcock
    Anthony Alcock is continuing his series of translations of Coptic texts.  He has sent in a translation of a hagiographical text, the Confession and Martyrdom of Cyprian of Antioch, and provided a short introduction.  The text is translated from manuscript. The story is known to 4th century authors but is purely fictional, and perhaps based on […]
  • Some memories of Steven Ring, Syriacist Extraordinaire
    Yesterday I learned by accident of the death of Steven Ring, one of the first enthusiasts online to promote Syriac studies.  He died on March 28th 2021 of cancer.  He had been ill for the previous four years, during which time he undertook and completed a PhD at SOAS. I’m not sure when I first […]
  • The “hugoye-list” for Syriac Studies -now at
    Syriac Studies online has long relied on the Hugoye-list, at Yahoo Groups, formerly at  But this closed in 2018.  This evening I was looking for the new location, and Google really was not that helpful. In fact the new location was announced on Twitter by @bethmardutho here: Important announcement: for 20 years, we have […]
  • Test
    Test post – WordPress has just deleted my post when I went to publish.
  • Throwing dice to generate oracles in Roman times
    My last post here looked at some examples of Roman 20-sided dice with numerals on them, almost certainly used to create oracles, to discover the future.  There is some literary evidence of this sort of practice, and I want to review it here. In Pausanias’ Description of Greece 7.25.10, written in the 2nd century AD, we […]
  • Some more Roman polyhedral dice
    A little while ago I wrote here about a Roman crystal twenty-sided dice in the Louvre, and about one ancient oracle book here, the Homeromanteion, which might have been used with it in order to predict the future.  Since then I have come across some images of other ancient twenty-sided dice.  As before, they seem to […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve not written any blog posts for a while, but this is because I have been working seriously on the QuickLatin code base.  The successes and failures of that effort are not of interest to others really. One thing that I have done is to write a couple of web pages on my pages at […]
  • Online and downloadable: the 5th century Oxford manuscript of Jerome
    We take for granted so much these days.  The web has transformed the life of the researcher.  But sometimes we see something and we just marvel; because we remember how things once were, only a few years ago. Long ago, maybe almost twenty years ago, I led a collaborative project online to translate the Chronicle […]
  • A quotation from Augustine: “God doesn’t love you as you are; he hates you as you are.”
    A tweet this evening: God doesn’t love you as you are; he hates you as you are. ~Augustine “You must be born again.” But is it from Augustine? In fact it is taken from M. C. Hollingworth, “Grace, confession, and the Pilgrim City: the political significance of St.Augustine of Hippo’s creation narratives”, Durham University thesis […]
  • Translations of Mozarabic texts at Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi
    A kind correspondent has drawn my attention to a website with new translations of Mozarabic texts – Latin texts from Islamic Spain, written by a certain Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, an Iraqi living in Great Britain.  The Latin text used is that contained in Juan Gil’s Corpus Scriptorum Muzarabicorum.  The site also translates a few brief late […]
  • Eusebius, Letter to Constantia – an English translation by Cyril Mango
    It’s always a shock to realise that some important early Christian text has never been translated; or, at least, is inaccessible online.  Such was myi feeling on seeing a quotation from the letter of Eusebius of Caesarea to Constantia, sister of the emperor Constantine the Great.  The quotation was: To depict purely the human form […]
  • From my diary
    I’m working on translating material associated with the council of Hippo in 393.  Not just the Breviarium of the canons, prepared for the council of Carthage in 397; but also a handful of canons that survived in more complete form, more or less by accident, outside of the main flow of canon law transmission.  To […]
  • Canons “37b, 38 and 39” of the Breviarium of the Council of Hippo (393)
    In Mansi’s edition of the Breviarium, canon 37 is longer than it is in Munier; and there are two more canons given.  Thankfully Munier does explain this, and in the interests of completeness, I think it’s worth giving the material here, to tie up a loose end. Around 500 AD Dionysius Exiguus compiled a collection […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve now returned working on the letter of Aurelius and Mizonius, to which the breviarium or summary of the canons of the council of Hippo was attached, and with which it is usually transmitted.  This is basically done, although I’ve had to look up a few phrases.  It was much easier to do, after spending so […]
  • Canons 37 of the breviarium of the Council of Hippo (393)
    The final canon, 37, in the summary of the canons of the council of Hippo is as follows.  I did get rather stuck at one point, so comments are very welcome. 37.  Placuit etiam ut, quoniam praecedentibus conciliis statutum est ne quis Donatistarum cum honore suo recipiatur a nobis, sed in numero laicorum, propter salutem […]
  • Canons 29-36 of the breviarium of the Council of Hippo (393)
    Let’s have a few more canons. 29.  Ut nulli episcopi vel clerici in ecclesia conviventur; nisi forte transeuntes hospitiorum necessitate illic reficiant; populi etiam ab huiusmodi conviviis, quantum potest fieri, prohibeantur. That none of the bishops or clergy shall dine together in the church; except perhaps those travelling may refresh themselves in that place through […]
  • Rutilius Namatianus, the Jews, and some notes on the fate of the unique manuscript
    In 1493 a manuscript of the 7-8th century was discovered at the Irish monastery of St. Columbanus at Bobbio in north Italy, which contained some previously unknown ancient works.  One of these was a poem, De reditu suo – On his return – by Rutilius Namatianus, who was Urban Prefect in Rome in 414 AD.  The poem […]
  • Canons 25-28 of the breviarium of the Council of Hippo (393)
    Let’s have some more of the canons of Hippo.  Dull as they are, they provide context as to what we can expect of a set of canons. 25. Ut primae sedis episcopus non appelletur princeps sacerdotum, aut summus sacerdos, aut aliquid huiusmodi, sed tantum primae sedis episcopus. That the bishop of the first see shall […]
  • The “Matronae Austriahenae” and a supposed link to “Eostre”
    In the Rhineland, there are over a thousand inscriptions and reliefs dedicated to the “Matronae”.  All of these are Roman, and date to the second-third centuries AD.  There is some kind of close relationship with a particular German tribe, the Ubians.  The reliefs show three women; two older, either side of a younger woman.  In […]
  • Canons 21-24 of the breviarium of the Council of Hippo (393)
    Let’s try translating a few more of the canons, in the summary of the canons of Hippo made for the council of Carthage in 397. 21. Ut nemo in precibus vel Patrem pro Filio, vel Filium pro Patre nominet; et cum altari assistitur semper ad Patrem dirigatur oratio. Et quicumque sibi preces aliunde describit, non […]
  • The “medieval legend” of the appearance of St Michael at St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall: a modern myth
    Reading the charming website of St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, there is the following statement: From as far back as 495AD, tales tell of seafarers lured by mermaids onto the rocks, or guided to safety by an apparition of St Michael. The patron saint of fishermen, it’s said the Archangel Michael appeared on the western […]
  • Online: The Latin Josephus Project
    Here’s something that I had never heard of!  It’s a website, based at Google Sites, called the Latin Josephus Project.  The URL is It contains the full text of the Latin Josephus for both the Jewish War and Antiquities, given in parallel with the Greek, and Whiston’s translation.  These words were translated in the 6th century, […]
  • The “Vita Sanctae Keynae”, an extract from the “Vita S. Cadoci”, and a modern myth about the year 490 at St Michael’s Mount
    One of the Cornish saints was a woman.  Her name was Saint Keyne, or Keyna – there are various spellings – and she is known from a number of hagiographical texts.  She flourished in the late 5th century, and is connected to St Michael’s Mount.  Indeed there are various places on the web that make […]
  • The decretal “Consulenti tibi” (JK 293) and the canon of the bible
    During the fourth century a change comes over the church, and indeed the bishop of Rome.  By the end of the century the medieval papacy is coming into existence.  The accession of Pope Damasus was attended with rioting in the streets and in the churches of Rome, as supporters of the candidates sought to impose […]
  • BHL 5955b – the “Miracula in Monte S. Michaelis in Cornubia”
    There is a very obscure medieval text, dated to 1262, which is referred to in a couple of modern works as the “Miracula in Monte S. Michaelis in Cornubia” – “The miracles at St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall”.  It is, apparently, listed in the 1986 supplement to the Bibliographica Hagiographica Latina, “supplementum novum”, published by […]
  • New publication: Georgi Parpulov’s catalogue of NT catenas
    A useful new open-access publication!  Georgi Parpulov has compiled a fresh catalogue of manuscripts containing the medieval chain-commentaries (“catenas”) on the Greek New Testament.  It’s being [published by Gorgias Press, here, but a free PDF is available here.  Get it now while it’s hot! From Gorgias Press: The book is a synoptic catalogue of a […]
  • From my diary: the Tertullian Project cleanup
    I’ve continued to work on cleaning up the old Tertullian Project website.  I’ve just counted how many Html pages it includes – the answer is 8,147.  I have been a busy boy, it seems, over the last 24 years.  By chance I came across a page announcing the “” domain – that appeared in 1999, […]
  • Peeking through the arch of Constantine – another view of the Meta Sudans
    Another photograph care of Roma Ieri Oggi depicts a US actress, Aloha Wanderwell, with husband, in front of the Arch of Constantine in 1928.  The angle is square on to the arch, unusually, so we can see the Meta Sudans particularly clearly through the arch. Nice!
  • From my diary
    Over the last few days I have been working on the static HTML files of the Tertullian Project.  My objective is to improve its metrics in the search engine race, but I have found much else to do. I’ve enabled HTTPS, as seems trendy today (and you get marked down for not having it). Most […]
  • An aerial view of the Colosseum, the Meta Sudans, and the base of the Colossus (1909-25)
    Via the amazing Roma Ieri Oggi site, I learn of this interesting aerial photo of the Colosseum and, much more interestingly, the meta sudans and the base of the Colossus, the statue of Nero.  It was made between 1909-25. At the bottom left the gate of Constantine.  Above it is the Meta Sudans, the demolished Roman […]
  • When saints disagree: the angry parting of St Epiphanius and St John Chrysostom
    John Chrysostom started his career as a popular preacher in Antioch in the late fourth century.  Then he was translated to Constantinople, to take up the role of Patriarch.  This was a highly political role, and whoever held it was the target of intrigue and machinations.  So it was with Chrysostom; and eventually his many […]
  • Why “search engine optimisation” is an evil
    We all want our words to be heard.  Our carefully crafted essays to be found.  That means that they must be visible in Google.  It is, indeed, for no other reason that I have devoted a couple of days of my life to doing some work on the old Tertullian Project files. Increasingly it is […]
  • Converting old HTML from ANSI to UTF-8 Unicode
    This is a technical post, of interest to website authors who are programmers.  Read on at your peril! The Tertullian Project website dates back to 1997, when I decided to create a few pages about Tertullian for the nascent world-wide web.  In those days unicode was hardly thought of.  If you needed to be able […]
  • Admin: Tertullian Project reload
    The Tertullian Project ( and all the files underneath it will be temporarily offline.  I’ve made a couple of small technical changes, globally, to the HTML files, and so I am uploading the directory again from my local disk.  I’m not sure how long this will take; maybe an hour or two, probably less. My […]
  • Josephus in Ethiopian – a dissertation
    An interesting dissertation has come online here, Y. Binyam, Studies in Sefer Yosippon: The Reception of Josephus in Medieval Hebrew, Arabic, and Ethiopic Literature, Florida (2017).  The abstract reads: In this dissertation I analyze the reception of Josephus in Ethiopia by way of the Hebrew Sefer Yosippon, its Latin sources, and its subsequent Arabic translations. […]
  • When did the Pope start to use the ancient pagan title of “Pontifex Maximus”?
    It is often stated online that the ancient title for the Roman high priest, “Pontifex Maximus”, was adopted by the Pope in the 4-5th centuries, as paganism disappeared.  The exact details are often vague, which should always raise suspicion. In fact this does not seem to be true, and the title is only applied to […]
  • Forthcoming: The Oxford Guide to the Transmission of the Latin Classics, ed. Justin Stover
    For anybody interested in how the Latin classics reached us – the manuscripts, the process of copying down the centuries – the standard work has been Texts and Transmissions by L. D. Reynolds.  Author by author, text by text, we are told whatever is known about how the work was copied. Justin Stover of Edinburgh University […]
  • Canons 15-20 of the breviarium of the Council of Hippo (393)
    Let’s continue translating the summary (breviarium) of the canons of the council of Hippo, compiled at the Council of Carthage in 397.  As ever, corrections are welcome.  But somebody has to start.  Here’s what I have. 15.  Ut episcopi, presbyteri et diaconi non sint conductores aut procuratores privatorum neque ullo tali negotio victum quaerant, quo […]
  • Materials for an English translation of the “Life” of St Botolph (or Botwulf), BHL 1428
    In 653 AD a Saxon monk named Botolph (Botwulf in Anglo-Saxon) built a hermitage at Iken Hoo, in Suffolk, overlooking the demon-haunted marshes on the river Alde.  Botolph was on good terms with the East Anglian kings, and he gained a reputation as an exorcist.  He died around 680 AD.  His monastery was later destroyed […]
  • Admin: apologies for the outage
    My apologies for the outage this afternoon.  It was caused by me, attempting to set up Google site verification in the DNS.  My provider does this in a bad way, and in so doing I erased something vital.  It should all be back now.
  • When did Roman emperors cease to use the title of “Pontifex Maximus”?
    In 376 AD the 17 year old emperor Gratian left his base in Gaul and – probably – made a visit to Rome.  This was ten years after his father, Valentinian I, proclaimed Gratian as co-Augustus on 24 August, and a year after the unexpected death of Valentinian.  It is possible that the visit was […]
  • Canons 9-14 of the breviarium of the Council of Hippo (393)
    The Council of Carthage in 397 began by creating a summary of the canons issued at Hippo in 393, the Breviarium. Here are the next few. 9. Sane quisquis episcopus seu clericorum, cum in ecclesia ei fuerit crimen institutum vel civilis causa fuerit commota, relicto ecclesiastico judicio publicis judi­ciis purgari voluerit, etiamsi pro illo fuerit […]
  • What is a critical edition, and how do I find one?
    I have just been asked this basic question, on this post on the manuscripts of Pliny the Elder, and to my surprise a quick google does not give a satisfactory answer.  So … here goes! Ancient literary texts were dictated or written by their authors more than 15 centuries ago.  They were then hand-copied for […]
  • The Acts of John and gnostic ritual dances
    The apocryphal Acts of John is a curious text which is first attested in the Manichaean Psalm-book in the Chester Beatty collection. This papyrus manuscript was one of seven Coptic codices which were discovered somewhere in Egypt before 1929.  Naturally they were broken up by the Cairo dealers in order to obtain a higher price, […]
  • Canons 5-8 of the breviarium of the Council of Hippo (393)
    Let’s look at the next four canons of this summary of the decisions of the council of Hippo in 393, that was prepared for the council of Carthage in 397.  Something of this material found its way into the canons of the council of 419, often somewhat revised.  Since the NPNF translation exists of these, […]
  • Tomorrow is Easter Day
    It is Easter Saturday.   I do not use my PC on Sunday, so let me now wish all my readers a Happy Easter!  Christ is Risen!  Alleluia! Many will make the effort to go to church, in an ordinary year.  But doing so under the current regulations requires booking in advance, with limited numbers.  So […]
  • Canons 1-4 of the breviarium of the Council of Hippo (393)
    The first act of the Council of Carthage in 397 was to draw up a summary (breviarium) of the decisions of the Council of Hippo in 393, as many clergy claimed that they had never heard of them.  Let’s have a look at them. INCIPIT BREVIS STATVTORVM 1. Vt lectores populum non salutent. Vt ante […]
  • The Nicene Creed in Hippo 393 / Carthage 397
    In the Breviarium Hipponense, the summary of the canons of the council of Hippo in 393, prepared at the start of the council of Carthage in 397, there is a version of the Nicene creed.  I thought it might be interesting to look at.  The text is from Munier, CCSL149, p.30, but I have added punctuation […]
  • From my diary
    I attended the zoom lecture by Dr Adrian Papaphagi on Latin manuscript fragments in Transylvania.  I had to leave early, but the first half hour was genuinely interesting.  The history of the Reformation in that part of the world was quite unknown to me before now.  The manuscripts of Transylvania suffered badly during the Reformation, […]
  • March 25 – the date of the annunciation, the crucifixion, and the origin of December 25 as the date of Christmas?
    Today is March 25, Lady Day.  According to various online sources, it is celebrated as the the day that the angel Gabriel announced the incarnation to the virgin Mary, the Annunciation.  This is also the day of Jesus’ conception.  I have read that some ancient sources also considered it to be the day of Jesus’ […]
  • Translations of the acts of the African councils
    There are two main chunks of material transmitted to us from antiquity.  The first is the Breviarium Hipponensis, with its introductory letter.  This is a summary of the canons of the council of Hippo in 393, which was prepared at the council of Carthage in 397 after it was discovered that the decisions of Hippo were […]
  • A few notes on Henry R. Percival, translator of “The Seven Ecumenical Councils” in the NPNF Series 2
    Continuing our little series on the councils of the African church, I’ve been looking at the existing translations into English.  I shall write a separate post on this. Any search for translations immediately brings up the volume edited by Henry R. Percival in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series, Second Series, volume 14. While reading […]
  • Zoom meeting – A paper on fragments of medieval Latin manuscripts originating in Transylvania, by Adrian Paphagi
    On March 26 at 3pm GMT / UTC (1100 EDT) Dr Adrian Papahagi will present a paper via Zoom with the title Evidence Preserved by Destruction: Recycling Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Transylvania during the (Counter)Reformation.  You can register for it here.  (H/T @FragmentariumMS on Twitter here.)  I may listen in myself. Like most of us, […]
  • Munier’s “Concilia Africae” edition (CCSL 149) – a table of contents
    The modern critical edition of the canons and acts of the African councils is Charles Munier, “Concilia Africae A. 345- A. 525”, in: Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 149 (1974).   The volume number is indeed 149, despite being misprinted as 259 (“CCLIX”) on the title page.  Volume 149A is the companion text, the conlocutio of 411 between […]
  • The “codex canonum ecclesiae Africanae” – looking at the Justell edition
    Today I looked at a Google Books volume, here, headed on that site as “Codex canonum Ecclesiæ Africanæ promulgated at the Council of 419”.  It turns out to be a book printed in 1615 by C. Justell, consisting – seemingly – of the material from the “collectio Dionysiana” under the heading of the council of […]
  • Can we use Fuchs’ Bibliothek der Kirchenversammlungen, and do we want to?
    Few will be aware that in the 1780’s G.D. Fuchs published an 4-volume German translation of the acts and canons of the church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries.  His Bibliothek der Kirchenversammlungen des vierten und fünften Jahrhunderts can be found online, at Google Books in low resolution, and at the BSB – Bayerische […]
  • Let’s kill all the umlauts!
    We all know the umlaut.  It’s those two dots above the vöwëls in German words.  It also appears in the names of low-grade heavy-metal bands, as a way to seem more Germanic. But how many of us know that the umlaut is completely fake? in 1783, G. D. Fuchs issued his Bibliothek der Kirchenversammlungen des […]
  • Ancient collections of church council canons and acts
    In the ancient period, bishops often assembled in councils.  There are famous cases, like Nicaea, where they did so in order to rule on some point of doctrine that had suddenly become a “hot button” issue.  In this case, they would issue a creed which clarified the point.  But they also held councils in order […]
  • We need more books on “Urban Legends of Church History”
    A kind correspondent drew my attention to the following volume: Michael Svigel and John Adair, Urban Legends of Church History: 40 Common Misconceptions, B&H (2020).  The book appeared at the end of last year, and is some 340 pages long.  It is issued by a publisher in Nashville, who does not seem very clued-up about how […]
  • Eusebius of Caesarea’s Commentary on the Psalms: critical text now online. And did you know there is an Italian translation?
    A kind correspondent draws my attention to an important blog post by Tommaso Interi on the Patristics.It blog, in English here, and in Italian here.  He points out that a preliminary text has appeared online of the new edition of Eusebius of Caesarea’s enormous Commentary on the Psalms.  It’s at this link:  They have […]
  • The canons of the councils of Africa – a few general thoughts
    Few of us are specialists in the material left to us by the early councils of the church. But it is often said that the canon of scripture was “decided” by the “Council of Hippo” or the “Council of Carthage in 397”. This sort of claim is very hard for most of us to evaluate. […]
  • From my diary
    I have started to look again at the canonical material relating to the councils of Africa.  What I’m trying to investigate is the material that supposedly defines the canon of scripture.  But to do so, I need to understand what I’m dealing with – the sources for the canonical material.  I’ve decided that I will […]
  • “Four major challenges to discipleship”, by Justin Martyr (sort of)
    Last night I saw this interesting tweet: Justin Martyr (AD 100–165) identified four major challenges to discipleship: 1. sexual immorality 2. wealth 3. magic 4. ethnic hatred Sub technology for magic and little has changed in almost 2,000 years Interesting indeed, and probably entirely true. But … Justin’s works are mainly apologetic.  So where did […]
  • From my diary
    My apologies for the sudden hiatus in blogging, and the lack of reply to some very interesting comments.  Eight days ago I had the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.  Unfortunately it has not agreed with me.  I had the standard sore arm and fatigue for a couple of days, which did not matter.  But […]
  • The canons of the African councils – hand me the painkillers now!
    I’ve continued to work on the canons of the African councils, and I’m not sure that I am making progress.  What I want to do is to understand those canons which deal with the canon of scripture, and to do so in the context of the full text to which they belong.  Usually these canons […]
  • From my diary – working on the acts of the “council of Carthage”
    A few days ago I discovered the existence of Ioannou’s French translation of the “Acts of the Council of Carthage”.  Since then I have opened up Finereader 15, and started the process of preparing a Word document with it in.  It has been very pleasant to do something mindless but useful, and something that I […]
  • 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 […]
  • Admin: added more sharing buttons
    I’ve added a WordPress plug-in that should allow readers to share a link to each post to a much wider group of websites and social media sites than before.  I’ve kept the old sharing buttons tho.  Most of these sites are unknown to me, but hey, the more the merrier. I’m not endorsing any of […]
  • A fragment of De Pythonissa by Methodius of Olympus (d. ca. 300), and more, discovered in Old Slavonic
    Every so often I come across a splendid piece of scholarly work; work that makes me want to stand up, and cheer, and shout “look at this!!!”. I’m thinking of work that could only be done by a professional scholar of great skill, great linguistic ability, and massive determination. Such an experience came my way […]
  • Did the priests of Isis have a cross marked on their foreheads?
    In the museums of the world there are a number of Roman sculptures of a head, with particular characteristics.  The person depicted is completely bald, lacking even eyebrows.  Deeply incised upon the head, usually on the right but sometimes elsewhere, is a cross-shaped or X-shaped mark.  In some cases the mark is shaped like the […]
  • From my diary
    While under lockdown I have not been able to progress any of my projects very much.  I suspect the background strain is affecting us all.  Everyone is on edge, I notice.  But I am certainly more fortunate than most. After a break, I have started to nibble again at my translation of John the Deacon’s […]
  • Sometimes we need boundaries
    If you write a blog, you will get correspondence.  Some of it will be useful.  A gentleman wrote to me only yesterday, sending an image for a Mithraic monument where I previously had none. But some of it is less welcome.  I used to get cases where young people would write, asking me to do […]
  • Aldama’s “Repertorium pseudochrysostomicum” is now online!
    A couple of weeks ago the Persée site announced that they had added the “Documents, études et répertoires de l’Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes” to their collection.  The IRHT is the centre of manuscript studies, so this is big news.  The collection may be found here. This is full of good things for […]
  • Preserving our efforts for the future – how can I safeguard my “literary legacy”?
    Yesterday I asked what the future is likely to be for private websites, in a much more regulated internet dominated by corporations and their lawyers.  This led me to consider what will happen to my own literary legacy – rather too grand a term! – when the time comes.  The preservation strategies of yesterday – […]
  • What happens next to private internet sites?
    Last night I noticed that one of my domains had renewed.  I marvelled at the price charged, for what is just a line in a database.  But I found a strange agreement of price from so many vendors.  It didn’t seem easy to find anywhere that was cheaper.  I then looked at the registry where […]
  • The Roman Martyrology – editions and origins
    The Roman Martyrology or Martyrologium Romanum is one of the service books of the Roman Catholic church.  It contains a list of martyrs, organised by the date on which they are commemorated, with a short notice of their life and death.  In the daily church service, there is a point at which the martyr or martyrs for […]
  • Did Gregory say that the four councils should have the same importance as the four gospels?
    An interesting tweet online here, which reflects a common understanding on some Roman Catholic sites: As Catholics, what weightage ought we to give sacred Scripture and sacred Tradition? “I confess that I accept and venerate the four councils (Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon) in the same way as I do the four books of the […]
  • The Roman Fort at Ain el-Lebekha
    Here’s a photograph for a snowy winter morning!  It’s the Roman fort at Ain el-Lebekha, a micro-oasis near Kharga Oasis in the western desert in Egypt.  It’s like something straight out of Beau-Geste. I had never heard of this place, so I did some googling.  I found that, as ever with Arabic names, the name […]
  • A “beautiful allusion” to palimpsests in John Chrysostom, and the less beautiful task of verifying it
    In 1866 a lecture was given by a certain Dr Charles William Russell (d.1880), President of Maynooth College, with the title, “Cardinal Mai and the Palimpsests”.  This contained the following statement, which has been repeated in some form now for 160 years. The practice [of palimpsesting] continued, in a greater or less degree, under the […]
  • Reconstructions of Old St Peters’ from the “Altair 4” design house
    An Italian computer graphics firm has created a 3-D model of Old St Peters‘, the 4th century basilica built by Constantine atop the ruins of the Circus of Gaius and Nero on the Vatican hill.  They have also created reconstructions of the site from the 1st century to our own day.  The material is all […]
  • Some notes on another brief biography of Juvenal (Jahn III)
    At the end of Jahn’s 1851 edition of the works of Juvenal, the editor helpfully gathered together various accounts of the life of Juvenal which are found in the medieval manuscripts that transmit to us the text of Juvenal’s Satires. The value of all of these biographies is very doubtful, but it is interesting to […]
  • From my diary
    Various snippets have come my way over the last few days. But rather than writing new blog posts, I’ve been updating some older posts that touched upon them. Much of this related to Juvenal. All my old posts on him can be found here. One old post here contained the text, together with a very […]
  • What do the scholia of Juvenal look like in the Montpellier manuscript?
    David Ganz kindly drew my attention to the fact that the Montpellier H25 manuscript of Juvenal (Lorsch, 9th century), our best witness for the old scholia on Juvenal, is now online here.  If we go to the start of the Juvenal portion of the manuscript, here, we see this: In the middle of the page […]
  • Photos of the Meta Sudans from the American Academy in Rome
    The American Academy in Rome has started placing its photographs online.  The results are rather spectacular, and a cut above the random old photographs that we find online.  It means that for the first time we can reference what we are looking at. Naturally I did a search for the Meta Sudans, the massive Roman […]
  • Did Aristocritus identify Zoroaster and Christ?
    In a previous post here we discussed a medieval Christian Arabic collection of apocryphal oracles by pagan philosophers, predicting the coming of Christ.  Much of this material was discovered in 2007 by Andrew Criddle, who had a further suggestion relating to it, and what follows is his work.  I post it here because it should […]
  • When to take down the Christmas decorations? A canon of the 2nd Council of Tours (567)
    When should we take down the Christmas tree?  A google search reveals confusion.  The general idea is that we do so on Twelfth Night, but not when that is.  However it seems pretty clear that it should be on the evening of the 5th January, because 6th January is the festival of Epiphany, when the […]
  • Gilbert Doble and his pamphlet “St Petroc, Abbot and Confessor”
    Gilbert Doble did not have a clear mind.  He was fully capable of deep erudition, combined with a child-like inability to imagine what others might think about it. He held office in Cornwall as an Anglican parish clergyman in the first half of the twentieth century, and was vicar of Wendron for almost twenty years […]
  • From my diary
    Happy new year, everybody, in a few hours. I’ve acquired some volumes of “The Saints of Cornwall”, by G. Doble.  I think there may be six in all.  Canon Doble was a Cornish antiquarian of the first half of the 20th century.  He issued individual pamphlets on Cornish saints – I think there might have […]
  • An 18th century drawing of the Meta Sudans from the Spanish National Library
    Here is a nice drawing from the 18th century of the Meta Sudans, the Roman fountain that used to stand outside the Colosseum until Mussolini decided to demolish it.  This one is from the Biblioteca Digital Hispánica, the Spanish National Library. Two things make this drawing interesting.  First, it’s close enough that we can see […]
  • Christmas Eve
    I would like to wish a very Merry Christmas to everyone who reads this blog. It is Christmas Eve here, and everything is quiet.  It has rained heavily today, and then turned cold.  Ice is predicted, and probably truly, for I went out for a walk late this afternoon, and it was very cold indeed.  […]
  • Did Mithras say “He who will not eat of my body and drink of my blood…”?
    In 1999 two journalists named Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy published a book called The Jesus Mysteries:  Was the “original Jesus” a pagan god?  The book appealed to a “new atheist” demographic, and material from it could be found online throughout the 2000’s. On p.49 they made the following claim, in the middle of a series […]
  • Christmas trees in Livonia? Balthasar Russow (1579) in the Livonian Chronicle
    It’s time for a Christmas post.  This may be out of period for us, but we can do a little digging into an obscure modern legend. Europe became Christian around 400 AD, and Christmas itself originates in Rome in 336 AD.  But the first documented example of a Christmas tree at Christmas is in a […]
  • Finereader 15 includes Fraktur OCR! Finally!
    Excellent news this afternoon.  It seems that the new version of Abbyy Finereader, version 15 (which for some reason they have renamed Finereader PDF 15) incorporates their excellent Fraktur recognition engine for the first time. And it works!  I tried it out on some 19th century German text. That is pretty darned good.  That’s exactly […]
  • Early 16th century maps of Rome and the Baths of Constantine
    This is the last in our little series of posts of renaissance images of the Baths of Constantine in Rome.  The final group of witnesses are not strictly drawings at all.  They are views taken from maps of Rome produced in this period.  The fashion was for aerial views, which means that monuments had to […]
  • Lanciani on the Baths of Constantine and some references
    In this series of posts on the now-lost Baths of Constantine in Rome, I’ve posted renaissance drawings of what then remained.  The list of these I took from Platner & Ashby’s Topographical Dictionary of Rome (1929), 525-6, which I accessed via the excellent Lacus Curtius site here.  This states:  Enough of the structure was standing at […]
  • Serlio’s 1540 plan of the Baths of Constantine
    The next item in our little series on the now-vanished Baths of Constantine in Rome is a plan, drawn by Sebastiano Serlio in the third volume of his Architettura and printed in 1540.  A hard-to-use copy is here, with the illustration on p.92 (“spread 49”).   The 1544 reprint is at the Digital Library in Heidelberg, […]
  • What on earth is Palladio’s “Le terme dei Romani”?
    When I started this little series on the Baths of Constantine, one of my references (from Wikipedia) was “Palladio, Le Terme, pl.XIV”.  A quick search revealed that this was Le terme dei Romani disegnate da Andrea Palladio e ripubblicate con la giunta di alcune osservazioni da Ottavio Bertotti Scamozzi giusta l’esemplare del lord co. di Burlingthon […]
  • Palladio and the Baths of Constantine
    The next item in our little series on the now-vanished Baths of Constantine in Rome is by none other than Palladio.  Andrea Palladio was a 16th century Italian architecture who became very famous for his 4-volume handbook on how to do Roman architecture.  This contained illustrations of many standing monuments, giving a plan, elevation and […]
  • The Baths of Constantine in the panorama of Antonio van Wyngaerde ca. 1560
    In 1894 the famous Italian archaeologist R. Lanciani found a long-forgotten 2-metre long drawing of a panorama of Rome, in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, in the Sutherland collection of some 20,000 artworks of all sorts.  He published it in facsimile the following year, in the Bullettino della Commissione Archeologica Comunale de Roma, vol. 23 […]
  • A 1621 reconstruction of the Baths of Constantine in Rome by Lauro Giacomo
    By 1621 there must have been little left of the Baths of Constantine, but there was a market for a drawing, as the existence of this item by Lauro Giacomo shows.  Here’s a small image from Europeana: A proper-sized image can be found at the Savannah College of Art and Design, here.  This allows us […]
  • Bufalini’s plan of the Baths of Constantine
    In 1541 Leonardo Bufalini drew a map of the whole city of Rome, the Pianta di Roma, with emphasis on the surviving ancient monuments.  This was printed in 1551.  Bufalini was early enough that his map shows much that has since been lost. Among them is a map of the Baths of Constantine, standing on […]
  • The Baths of Constantine in Rome
    Today I came across this interesting drawing from Du Perac, Vestigi dell’Antichita di Roma, 1621, plate 32 (online at Heidelberg here). The text beneath reads: Vestigij delle Terme di Constantino nel monte quirinale dalla parte che guarda verso Libecchio (= sud-ovest) qualli per esser molto ruinati non vi si vede adornamenti ma solo grandissime muraglie et stantie masimamente […]
  • Stelten’s Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin arrives
    Today I received a copy of Leo F. Stelten’s Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin (via  I’ve not really had a chance to look at it yet. But this evening it had its first test.  John the Deacon’s Life of St Nicholas describes the city of Patara, the saint’s home town, as once “rutilabat”.  The Oxford […]
  • From my diary
    The third unfinished project on my desktop is a translation from the Latin of the Life of St Nicholas by John the Deacon, who lived in Naples in the middle of the 9th century.   John was bilingual, and created his work by translating the Greek Life by Methodius – the one that defeated all my […]
  • St George, 5th century “Passio” – English translation now online
    The earliest account of the martyrdom of St George is palpably fictional, and probably Arian in origin.  It was composed in Greek, probably by an Arian.  It was a rather embarrassing work, and later versions remove much of the rubbish.  For this reason Matzke, who reviewed the tradition, referred confusingly to the original as the […]
  • From my diary
    I have now got all the way through the 5th century Latin “Passecrates” Life of St George, as edited by Arndt, and I have prepared an English translation of every sentence. What a mess the text is in!  The editor, Arndt, plainly had trouble reading the manuscript at all.  At points it makes no sense.  […]
  • From my diary
    It is good to have the Life of St Cuthman out of the way at last.  But it is not the only project of mine that has been stalled for many months. More than a year ago, a kind correspondent offered to translate a very early Latin Life of St George.  He did send in […]
  • St Cuthman, the wheelbarrow saint – Life now online in English
    I have today completed my translation of the medieval “Life” of St Cuthman.  Unlike most anglosaxon saints, Cuthman was a peasant.  He founded the church of Steyning in Sussex.  He is noted for carrying his mother about with him in a wheelbarrow! Here is the translation, together with the text that I translated and some […]
  • An apology
    Several people have written to me recently, or posted comments, which I should usually have replied to.  My apologies for my failure to reply.  An unfortunate illness in the family is absorbing most of my time at the moment.
  • From my diary
    Back in March I was working on making an English translation of the hagiographical Life of St Cuthman.  At the same time I was working on adding syntactical help to my QuickLatin tool. But then by the mercy of God I was able to get a contract and earn a living, at a time when […]
  • Admin notice
    I have just discovered a dozen comments on various posts, all of which for some reason went into the spam filter.  I have no idea why this happened – some of you are long-standing commenters and should go straight through. My apologies, and I have now rescued them.
  • The first mention of St Austell, ca. 900 AD, in a Vatican manuscript
    In the Vatican there is a Latin manuscript, shelfmark Vatican Reginensis Latinus 191, which contains a collection of texts assembled for the church in Reims in northern France.  The manuscript is online, and may be found here. At some point before the 12th century, the manuscript was given some parchment guard-leaves on either end.  These […]
  • A portrait of Julian the Apostate and his wife Helena – or is it?
    There’s an image which circulates online, purporting to be a depiction of Julian the Apostate and his empress, Helena.  Here it is: The item is from Wikipedia (where else?), and adorns the page dedicated to Helena.  From there it has spread to many sites, book covers, etc. But is it genuine?  Indeed what is it?  […]
  • Looking for an article in the Cambridge/Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies journal
    The plague rages among us, or so we are assured by the mass media.  My local library has closed after a librarian had a close encounter with someone later found to be infected.  There’s no question of visiting a research collection.  So … what you are about to do, do it online! A kind correspondent […]
  • Who was St Austell?
    Who was “St Austell”.  There is a town of that name in Cornwall, in the UK. I am no expert on saints, and I would imagine that there are shoals of local saints in the Celtic regions of Britain.  But I did find a source.  Apparently the book to go to is Nicholas Orme, The […]
  • A 1711 painting showing the Meta Sudans
    There is a painting in Turin, in the Galleria Sabauda, of a view of the Colosseum and the Arch of Titus, dating from 1711, and painted by Gaspar van Wittel (Vanvitteli).  But it also shows a taller Meta Sudans than we know from the 19th century.  Here it is: The ruined old fountain stands outside […]
  • From my diary
    The spam filter is acting up again.  I found four different messages from the contact form in it this morning, which I have tried to deal with.  My apologies for the delay.  There was also a mass of messages which did indeed seem to be spam and them I just deleted. Today I also came […]
  • More on the Homeromanteion
    Yesterday I mentioned the Homeromanteion.  This work consists of an introduction, followed by a list of oracular extracts from Homer.  Using three 6-sided dice, you can get a random extract. The work is extant in three papyri, P.Bon. 3, P.Oxy. 3831, and PGM VII.  One of these, P.London 1, 121 is a six foot long […]
  • A Roman rock-crystal icosahedron (20-sided dice) in the Louvre
    Here’s a pretty image that floats around the web: It’s ancient, and an icosahedron – a 20-sided dice. The Musée du Louvre twitter account (@MuseeLouvre) posted further images of what is plainly the same item (click to enlarge). The inventory number seems to be MNC882.  It is a pity that the Louvre is not as […]
  • A homily of Gregory the Great and Mary Magdalene
    Mary Magdalene has attracted a great deal of modern myth-making, mostly from the USA, mostly in a feminist direction.  A few weeks ago I discovered that the reputation of St Mary Magdalen as a penitent prostitute was supposedly the result of a decree by Pope Gregory the Great in 1591 (!) or 591, in homily 23 […]
  • More on the monster Meta Sudans!
    As I gazed at the amazing photograph from Roma Ieri Oggi in my last post, I suddenly became conscious of just how huge the Meta Sudans was.  The old photographs do not really give us an impression of its sheer size. But the combined photo does.  The monument was, clearly, immense, well worthy of an […]
  • How would the Meta Sudans look today outside the Colosseum?
    I’ve often wondered what it would look like if Mussolini had not demolished the Meta Sudans.  This was the stubby remains of a narrow, pointed fountain of the Roman imperial period – it appears on a coin of Titus.  The brick core was stablised in the early 1800s, reducing it to half its height.  The […]
  • Translating Eusebius on the Psalms – a new blog
    A friendly note from Justin Gohl of the Sophiaphile blog informs me that he is translating selected passages from the monster Commentary on the Psalms by Eusebius of Caesarea! This is extremely good news.  This text is very long, and has accordingly been very neglected.  I seem to remember commissioning translations of a few of […]
  • Did Origen deny the idea that “there was a time when the Son was not”?
    I came across an interesting claim on twitter here: Origen anticipating & contradicting the Arian heresy 10yrs before Arius was born and 80yrs before Nicaea is Fire. “He who was a son according to the flesh came from the seed of David…According to the Spirit, however, he existed first & there was never a time […]
  • New! Free Patristic Greek text archive now online
    A very important announcement today – the Patristic Text Archive has gone online in beta!  It’s here. This is a new open-access collection of Greek (and other) texts, encoded in XML format (well, strictly it’s TEI), and freely available for download from GitHub, as I noted a couple of days ago. But now the front-end […]
  • Ottoman drawings of the monuments of Constantinople
    Few of us know anything about Turkish literature or manuscripts, and I am certainly not among that number.  But I was interested to discover that some illuminated Ottoman manuscripts contain pictures of Byzantine monuments.  (Presumably they also contain text as well).  Here are a couple that I have found online recently. Here is the first.  […]
  • A few fragments for the weekend
    It’s time for a miscellaneous post.  Here are a few stories and notices from the last few weeks which may be of general interest.     *    *    *    * First up is a GitHub repository, containing an archive of open access antique Christian texts.  The title is the Patristic Text Archive, and it’s here.  Created […]
  • Reconstructions of Ostia and Portus from the air – painted by Katatexilux
    A marvellous Italian website has come to my attention.  It’s called Progetto Katatexilux, and may be found at  (Note that you need to use Chrome to view this). This pair of artists have drawn reconstructions of the ancient world.  Here are a couple of from their Ostia Antica project.  The first is Ostia: I have […]
  • A few more letters of Isidore of Pelusium – 102-116
    Ten years ago I attempted to get English translations made of letters of Isidore of Pelusium.  Each attempt failed for one reason or another.  This translation of letters 102-116 was made by Clive Sweeting in 2010, but never received a final revision, and was never published.  This seems a pity, so I post it here. […]
  • A coin from the days when English was a tribal language, ill-adapted to Roman letters
    Every so often there is a news story about the difficulty of representing some foreign language in Roman letters.  This is especially the case for languages like Chinese which already have a  dedicated script. Every script or alphabet exists for the purpose of representing the sounds of a language.  At those times when a language has […]
  • An email about the letters of Isidore of Pelusium
    Isidore of Pelusium was a monk living in the Nile delta in the early-mid 5th century AD, in the times of Cyril of Alexandria.  We know nothing of him except that a collection about 2,000 of his letters – or rather short excerpts from them – was made by the “Sleepless” monks of Constantinople in […]
  • Augustine, De Genesi ad litteram imperfectus liber (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis: Unfinished Book) – online in English
    Dr Isabella Image has kindly written to me and offered to make available her translation of Augustine, De Genesi ad litteram imperfectus liber (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis: Unfinished Book = CPL 268).  Dr Image has worked on several academic translations, so it is very nice indeed to have this one made available.  She has […]
  • From my diary
    My apologies for the lack of blogging.  It’s not for lack of material to blog about!  I have a folder of items that I want to talk about, and it seems to get longer every week.  Which is nice, really.  What I don’t have is any time.  I’m sitting at my computer in my study, […]
  • Walton Castle must have looked much like this in the 1600’s
    The Roman fort at Felixstowe in Suffolk stood on a sandy cliff.  It went into the sea between 1700 and 1750, and there are still remains of it on the sea bed, a few metres off-shore.  I collected some old drawings of the fort here, known as Walton Castle. Today I saw on twitter here an […]
  • Lost ancient text found in Armenia: Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Hebrews
    Excellent news today via Matthew R Crawford.  It seems that Cyril of Alexandria’s lost Commentary on Hebrews has been discovered.  It is preserved in three Armenian manuscripts held in the Matenadaran library in Yerevan, the Armenian capital.  An edition has been prepared, and is for sale here at, for the modest sum of around […]
  • An old list of abbreviations used in Latin inscriptions
    Today I saw an inscription on Twitter (posted by Gareth Harney), and part of it left me baffled.  Here it is: This funerary altar was erected to the memory of T. Flavius Athenaeus, by his freedman Nicostratus, and records that he lived for 22 years, 3 months, 5 days and 3 hours: Memoriae T. Flavi. […]
  • Augustine, De divinatione daemonum / On the divination of demons – now online in English
    How is it that demons are able to predict the future, and so support the pagan practices of oracles, soothsaying, and the like?  This question bothered some of those around St Augustine, and he wrote a short treatise to answer it, De divinatione demonum (CPL 306). It is very well worth reading.  But there is […]
  • Illiterate bishops decided the canon of the New Testament! Or did they?
    It is often claimed that the canon lists given in the canons of the council of Hippo in 393, and the council of Carthage in 397, in some way created the canon of the New Testament.  This is not the case, and cannot be the case – the lists are merely for local use in […]
  • Some first impressions on ancient collections of canons
    An inept Roman Catholic apologist today pronounced that the Catholic church decided the contents of the bible, and did so at the Council of Carthage in 397.  I can imagine Augustine raising an eyebrow at this, and quelling him where he stood.  But it made me realise that actually I have never read the acts […]
  • A Portugese Christmas tree around 1400? – part two
    A couple of days ago I started to track down a rather odd paragraph in the Wikipedia article on Christmas trees, and I wrote a blog post on it here.  The article reads: At the end of the Middle Ages, an early predecessor [of the Christmas tree] appears referred in the Regiment of the Order […]
  • A Portugese Christmas tree around 1400?
    There is a rather odd paragraph in the Wikipedia article on the Christmas Tree.  Today it reads as follows: At the end of the Middle Ages, an early predecessor appears referred in the Regiment of the Order of Cister around 1400, in Alcobaça, Portugal. The Regiment of the local high-Sacristans of the Cistercian Order refers […]
  • More thoughts on the scholia vetustiora of Juvenal
    Earlier today I discussed the appearance of the word “gladiatrix” in the oldest scholia on Juvenal.  I had hoped to find the passage in an online manuscript, but I didn’t have any good source for the manuscripts of the scholia. Soon afterwards a kind gentleman then sent me a copy of Wessner’s 1931 edition of […]
  • Is “gladiatrix” a modern term?
    On various sites you can find the claim that the Latin word “gladiatrix”, meaning a female gladiator, is a modern word, unknown in antiquity.  For instance this article: The term gladiatrix was never used in ancient times; it is a modern word first applied to female gladiators in the 1800’s CE. This in turn seems […]
  • More old photographs of the Meta Sudans
    There are many, many old photographs of the Arch of Constantine, the Colosseum, and the now-vanished Meta Sudans, the fountain that stood outside it and was demolished by Mussolini.  A few more have come my way this week.  For most of them I am indebted to the amazing Roma Ieri Oggi site and its twitter […]
  • St George and the Crusaders
    Today is St George’s Day. April 23rd is the feast day of the Patron Saint of England, adopted as such during the crusader period.  So I thought that I would collect a few early sources connecting the crusaders and St George.  This is not comprehensive: merely whatever comes to hand. In the Latin Gesta Francorum […]
  • A colour fresco of Old St Peter’s, half-demolished but with the obelisk in position
    A kind commenter drew my attention to this fascinating fresco of the appearance of Old St Peter’s. It shows clearly the rather ramshackle old front of Constantine’s basilica – there was an atrium/courtyard behind, and then the main front.  The huge construction of New St Peter’s looms at the back, unfinished – as indeed it […]
  • Further thoughts on translating St Cuthman’s “Life”
    While translating the Latin text of the Life of the anglo-saxon Saint Cuthman, I have taken to googling for fragments of the Latin, or even whole sentences.  The results are often interesting, and not infrequently important. One reason that I do this is to identify biblical references.  Often a tortured phrase turns out to be […]
  • How papyrus rolls lost their tops and bottoms – from Oxyrhynchus
    A truly fascinating post at Papyrus Stories tells us what happened when an archive of papyrus rolls was neglected in the early 2nd century. “The documents shown to me by the clerk Leonides (…) were in some cases deprived of their beginning, or damaged, or moth-eaten (…). Since the books have been hastily moved from […]
  • Some notes on St Alnoth
    A correspondent was looking for the Life of St Alnoth in the Acta Sanctorum, and found himself confused by the series, as most of us are initially. The Acta Sanctorum is confusing to the casual visitor, because all the lives of the saints are given on their saints’ day, the day in the Catholic Church […]
  • St Cuthman, the Vulgate, the sacramentary, and so forth
    Translating the Latin text of the Life of St Cuthman, printed by the Bollandists, is an interesting exercise.  I find that the text quite often uses the approach of the Latin Vulgate bible, where quia means “that” rather than “because”.  This means that you can often get something from simply googling a passage – it […]
  • Literary sources for the “Life” of St. Eanswythe
    There is a big news story yesterday about the bones of St Eanswythe, an anglo-saxon saint ca. 630 AD, which have been discovered in the wall of a Kentish church.  They were stashed there at the Reformation, and rediscovered a century ago, but without any certainty as to who they were.  The modern story is […]
  • The harvester who became a magistrate – an inscription from 260-270 AD
    On twitter this evening, I saw a Latin inscription in the Louvre, in a cursive script (!), which tells an interesting story.  It’s from Mactaris, in ancient Africa Proconsularis, between 26–270 AD (h/t Susan Rahyab).  It tells an interesting story of how a humble corn harvester rose to become a magistrate: The monument is today […]
  • Did Pope Gelasius create St Valentine’s Day as a replacement for the Lupercalia?
    Something weird has begun to happen over the last couple of years.   Twitter is filling up with claims that “Christmas is really pagan”; the same for Easter (!), St Valentine’s Day – indeed for every single Christian holiday.  This is new, and started maybe in 2018, and now has become very commonplace.  The object is […]
  • From my diary
    It is now four months since I fell ill with some minor but annoying problem that gave me splitting headaches all day long and left me washed out.  Thankfully those are nearly gone, and although I am still rather weak, I now believe that I will make a full recovery.  It’s been an expensive time, […]
  • A concise explanation of the legal basis for Roman persecution of Christians
    Tertullian tells us, in his Apologeticum that Christians were told, simply, “Non licet esse vos!” (You are not allowed to exist!)  I happened to see a very nice summary of what this meant, and what it tells us, in Servais Pinckaers Spirituality of Martyrdom, p.66. It was new to me, and I thought that others […]
  • A pagan philosopher writes against Manichaeism: Alexander of Lycopolis and his “Against the Manichaeans”
    While re-reading Anthony Kaldellis’ A Cabinet of Byzantine Curiosities I came across the following entry (p.129): Around A.D. 300, one Alexander of Lycopolis wrote a treatise Against the Manichaeans, which begins with a lucid account of the transformation of Christian thought in his time. “The philosophy of the Christians is fairly simple. It is mostly […]
  • From my diary
    It looks as if I will not be able to bring Origen of Alexandria: Exegetical Works on Ezekiel back into print.  This is unfortunate. My first idea was to use Amazon KDP.  After all, I already own an ISBN, the book in PDF and cover art, all used perfectly by Lightning Source.  But KDP just […]
  • Searching for the Vulgate: one genuine text and two “fakes”
    What do you do if you want a reading copy of the traditional Catholic Latin bible, the Vulgate?  The unwary purchaser may easily end up with something unsuitable. First, some necessary background. The original Vulgate Latin bible was created by St Jerome in the 5th century out of a mass of earlier “old Latin” translations, […]
  • Returning to book publishing
    This afternoon I sent an email to Lightning Source, who print my books, to take them out of print and close the account.  The account actually belongs to my company, which I may have to dissolve in April as a result of some legislative tax changes. You might be able to buy copies on Amazon if […]
  • The apocryphal canons of a supposed apostolic council of Antioch
    At the end of Mission und Ausbreitung des Christentums, (Leipzig, 1902) Harnack discusses a curious little Greek text, which purports to be the canons of a council held in Antioch by the apostles.  There are nine canons.  Harnack’s work is online at Google books in English as The Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries, in […]
  • From my diary
    No blogging in the last week.  On Monday 6th January I had a brand new and rather expensive Dell G5 Inspiron 5090 desktop delivered, with screen. I spent the week trying to set it up.  It’s time-consuming, isn’t it!  Sadly by the end of the week I had determined that there was a problem with […]
  • The text of De Solstitia et De aequinoctia (CPL 2277)
    I’ve written a couple of posts already on this obscure late-antique text.  The text was first printed in 1530 as part of the works of Chrysostom – it is, indeed, transmitted in Latin as part of a collection of 38 sermons attributed to him.  The only other edition is that of Botte in 1932, printed […]
  • “OMG I’m So Hungover” – Ogham Annotations in a 9th century copy of Priscian
    The Anglandicus blog has an amusing 2014 article on Massive Scribal Hangovers: One Ninth Century Confession.  The whole post is well worth a read on Irish marginal notes in manuscripts. One such manuscript has a great number of these marginalia.  Below is the upper portion of folio 204 in St. Gall 904 (or Codex Sangallensis […]
  • From my diary
    Happy New Year, everyone. I’ve created an electronic Latin text of the De solstitia et aequinoctia from the 1530 Froben edition.  This probably has some OCR errors in it, as I have already spotted one.  I’m waiting for a more modern edition to appear by inter-library loan.  I understand that the modern edition s not […]
  • Order my books before they go out of print!
    Long term readers will remember that I commissioned two texts and translations in printed form: Eusebius, Gospel Problems and Solutions (2011), and Origen’s Homilies on Ezekiel (2014).  The first is the only version of this text; the second is the best version of the work.  Both contain catena fragments, the original text, and a facing […]
  • Subscriptions by email
    A correspondent has asked me to enable a facility to subscribe to this blog by email.  I’ve added a widget for it to the sidebar on the right!  (I think the facility existed, but this makes it more obvious).
  • Some notes on “De solstitiis et aequinoctiis” (CPL 2277)
    There are very few sources for a Roman festival of the sun on 25th December.  The main one is the entry in the Chronography of 354, in the Philocalian Calendar, labelling the day as “Natalis Invicti”, the birthday of Sol Invictus, the state sun-god.  Next to it is a 13th century scholiast on Dionysius bar-Salibi.  But […]
  • Was there no festival of Sol on 25 December before 324 AD?
    Most of us are aware that the 25th December is labelled as the “Natalis [solis] Invicti” in the Chronography of 354; specifically in the 6th part, which contains the so-called “Calendar of Philocalus” (online here), listing the state holidays.  Sol Invictus was introduced into Rome by Aurelian in 274 AD as a state cult, and […]
  • The first mention of Yule: the Gothic liturgical calendar in the Codex Argenteus
    The first mention of “Yule” is to be found in a palimpsest manuscript, perhaps of the the 6th century AD.  A number of Gothic bibles were reused for their parchment at the northern Italian monastery of Bobbio, and one of these contains a fragment of a Gothic calendar of saints’ days as the last but […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve been updating the Mithras site with images that people have sent me over the last year.  These go into the catalogue of monuments and inscriptions that I maintain, as and when I feel like it.  I’ve added an entry for the “new” Mithraeum at Ostia, which has been dubbed the “Mithraeum of the coloured […]
  • “Feasting in excess”: a fingerprint phrase in quotations of Gregory Nazianzen on the Nativity
    I came across this (rather useless) page, which contained the curious claim: In 389AD, St Gregory Nazianzen, one of the four fathers of the Greek Church criticized customs of ‘feasting in excess” and “dancing” at Christmas. This criticism arose because these festive excesses were hangovers from the pagan midwinter festivals like Saturnalia when celebrants suspended normal […]
  • A miscellany of things
    Here are a couple of things that I noticed recently, and might be useful to others. Following an enquiry, I find that there is a translation of Theophylact on Matthew online here.  This is certainly better than the $70 needed to obtain the 1992 translation of the same work, at here. Next, the physical […]
  • St Nicholas and the story of the three schoolboys murdered by an inn-keeper and stashed in a pickling cask
    Saints’ Lives are a form of folk story.  These circulated widely in the middle ages, sometimes as ballads or plays, and they gained additional material from the need to tell a good story.  Tracing these stories back to a literary source can be time-consuming. Today is St Nicholas’ Day, so an investigation of this sort […]
  • Digging for gold: the archaeology of the internet and the “Electronic Journal of Mithraic Studies” (EJMS)
    Back in the 1970s, following the international conferences on Mithraic studies, a rising young scholar named Richard L. Gordon created a journal specifically for Mithras studies.  He named it the Journal of Mithraic Studies, and got contributors, and supporters, and a publisher.  There was definitely a demand for such a journal, as somewhere to report […]
  • From my diary
    I’m still unwell, after an unbelievable 9 weeks of sitting around at home with a headache.  But finally I seem to be improving.  None of the pills and potions prescribed by my GP has had any effect, but time seems to be the cure.  I’m waiting for a scan, but the doctor thinks that it […]
  • The earliest mention of Halloween? John Mirk’s “Festivall” or “Festial” or “Liber Festivalis
    This evening I happened to come across Lisa Morton, The Halloween Encyclopedia (2011).  I can see some errors in it, but on the whole it is an admirable effort.  On p.148, under “Parties”, we find this statement: One of the earliest written mentions of Halloween, from the 1493 Festivall, contains this description of what sounds […]
  • From my diary
    Regular readers will have noticed the lack of blogging. For more than seven weeks I have been unable to work.  The symptoms are general weakness and a constant headache, possibly sinus-related.  This came on following a three-day bout with the office cold.  I’m getting more rested, of course, but the problem is not really improving.  […]
  • A symposium on Ephrem Graecus next week at Marquette university in Milwaukee
    Regular readers will remember “Ephrem Graecus” – the mass of works in Greek which are attributed to Ephraim the Syrian, but which are in fact mostly original compositions.  Little work has been done on this area, which makes it one of the uncharted frontiers of patristics. Those in the Milwaukee area in the US might […]
  • From my diary
    Next Tuesday in Oxford there will be a study day, dedicated to the Codex Zacynthius of the bible.  Details may be found at the University of Birmingham website here. Codex Zacynthius, the oldest copy of the New Testament to be accompanied by a commentary, was rubbed out and written over in the Byzantine period. Using […]
  • “Bread for slaves – 2” – An ancient shopping list from Pompeii
    Two posts on twitter, here from @ahencyclopedia, and here, from the excellent Dr Sophie Hay, tell us of a list of provisions, bought or sold, over a number of days.  It lists three types of bread – “bread”, “coarse bread”, and “bread for a slave” (panem puero). The text was scratched on a wall in […]
  • Comments caught in the spam filter
    I’ve just discovered a bunch of real comments that have been caught in the spam filter.  My apologies to those who took the time to write.  I will fish these out and respond.
  • All Saints Day: Alcuin in 800 AD exhorts his friend to celebrate it on 1st November
    In Letter 193, to his friend Arno, Alcuin writes: Kalendis Novembris solemnitas omnium sanctorum. Ecce, venerande pater Arne, habes designatam solemnitatem omnium sanctorum, sicut diximus. Quam continue in mente retineas et semper anniversario tempore colere non desistas; adtendens illud et intente considerans, quoniam, si Helias, unus ex illis in vetere testamento, oratione sua, dum voluit, […]
  • All Saints: the edict of Louis in 835 establishing the date as 1st November
    The commemoration of All Saints was first made universal in 835 AD  by the Emperor Louis the Pious, in the 21st year of his reign, at the suggestion of Pope Gregory IV.  This information reaches us through the 12th century Chronographia or Chronicle of Sigebert of Gembloux, who records the following entry for the year: […]
  • The Martyrologium Poeticum of ps.Bede, a.k.a. The Metrical Calendar of York
    All Saints Day is celebrated on 1st November.  But it was not always so.  The first reference to this celebration on this date is a poem of 83 lines, in hexameter verse, preserved in the manuscripts under the title of “Martyrologium Bedae”, the Martyrology of Bede.  It cannot in fact be by Bede, because it mentions […]
  • From my diary
    I have spent a few days, researching the Martyrologium Poeticum of pseudo-Bede. This work would ordinarily be a bit late for us.  Bede himself appears in the Clavis Patrum Latinorum, but the editors declined to include his dubia and spuria, doubtless realising that this would take them centuries into the middle ages. The text is […]
  • From my diary – thinking about All Saints Day
    Halloween is nearly upon us, and with it comes the incessant smug chanting that “Halloween is simply Samhain renamed”, and other cries of a similar kind. Folklore is often a bit rubbish.  All sorts of claims are made, of the wildest kind, and those who make them often take offence if you ask what evidence […]
  • More manuscripts of the “notae” in the margins of Cassiodorus, “Expositio Psalmorum”
    I gave some examples in a previous post of the unpublished “notae”, symbols indicating what type of comment was involved, in the margin of Cassiodorus’ Expositio Psalmorum, his commentary on the Psalms.  The notae are listed and explained at the top; and I gave some manuscript images. After doing so, a few more online manuscripts […]
  • The late antique use of “Christianitas”
    The word “Christianitas” became important during the Dark Ages.   Charlemagne inherited the kingdom of the Franks, and he sought to do something about the pointless barbarian kingdoms atop the decaying ruins of the Western Roman Empire.  Out of these he forged a vision of a new world, and one that his contemporaries could understand and relate […]
  • More on “Christianitas” in the Codex Theodosianus
    Yesterday we saw that the earliest reference for “Christianitas” = Christianity (rather than the earlier Christanismus) was in the Theodosian Law Code (Codex Theodosianus) of 450 AD: Christĭānĭtas, ātis, f. Christus. I. Christianity, = Christianismus, Cod. Th. 16, 7, 7; 12, 1, 112.— II. Meton., the Christian clergy, Cod. Th. 12, 1, 123. I thought that I would […]
  • More on the earliest use of the word “Christianity”
    I can’t believe that I forgot to hit the “Publish” button last night on yesterday’s post… Yesterday I was asking when the word “Christianity” appears in our sources.  In Greek it is Χριστιανισμός, and it appears in Ignatius of Antioch; then in Origen; and then in post-Nicene sources.  It’s not a widely-used word in surviving […]
  • What is the earliest use of the word “Christianity”?
    When did the word “Christianity” actually come into use?  The Greek is Χριστιανισμός. A certain amount of searching online brought me to an Italian article, from which I learned that the first person to use the word is none other than Ignatius of Antioch.  There are 4 references, in Ignatius’ letters to the Magnesians 10,1 […]
  • Diversity of teaching and early Christianity
    I’ve spent some time this evening thinking about the claim that “early Christianity was diverse”.  I have had some difficulty finding anything like a definitive statement or attempt at proof for the claim.  Rather it is simply assumed.  For instance there is this: The wide diversity of early Christianity may be seen above all in […]
  • Catherine Nixey, “The darkening age” is back – and annoying scholars in five languages
    A couple of years ago I came across a strange volume, seemingly designed to smear the ancient Christians.  It was authored by a recent arts graduate named Catherine Nixey, and titled “The Darkening Age”.  Some fawning reviews appeared in the mainstream press in England – presumably arranged by the publisher -, which was unfortunate as […]
  • Finding online manuscripts
    I wrote about my frustration in being unable to locate manuscripts online, despite having the shelfmarks.  Of course I am not the only one to encounter this.  A kind correspondent has made me aware of a list of links which helps enormously.  Compiled by Albrecht Diem, at the Monastic Manuscript Project, it is here.  I […]
  • Blog recommendation: Papyrus Stories, by Jenny Cromwell
    It’s been a while since I saw a blog that I wanted to add to the sidebar, but this evening I found one.  It’s called Papyrus Stories, and it may be found here: There is also a linked Twitter account, @Papyrus_Stories. The desert climate of Egypt has preserved enormous quantities of “waste paper”.  The […]
  • Where are the academic reviews of bible translations?
    This evening something drew my attention to the New World Bible Translation, the English translation of the bible made by and for the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  I knew nothing much about it, except that it is generally derided as biased and edited to reflect the theological ideas of that group. But I prefer not to rely […]
  • From my diary
    A twitter discussion led me to update my post on an ancient Latin inscription, once visible on the casing stones of the Great Pyramid in Giza.  The inscription was recorded by a medieval pilgrim, Wilhelm von Boldensele. As part of this, I searched for manuscripts of von Boldensele’s work.  I found a nice list, indicating […]
  • Thinking about ways to display Latin syntax information in a translation tool
    Most of us probably learned Latin at school.  Those lessons focused on grammar – amo, amas, amat – and also on rote learning of vocabulary.  All of this is essential, and I really wish that I could remember more of it than I can today. But this focus means that questions of Latin syntax are […]
  • A little-known museum in Rome – the Case Romane del Celio.
    There is a museum in Rome of which I had never heard until today.  It’s called the “Case Romane del Celio”, whch means the “Roman houses on the Caelian” hill. The museum is underneath the basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo – St John and St Paul – on the Caelian hill.  This was built […]
  • Notae in the margins of Cassiodorus, “Expositio Psalmorum”
    An  interesting volume has appeared this year, which unfortunately I have not seen, but that I learned about from Jesse Keskiaho on twitter.  The book is by Evina Steinová, based on her 2016 dissertation (online here, I now find), and now in a revised book form from Brepols here as Notam superponere studui : The Use […]
  • “Let the flamen dialis shave only with a razor of bronze!”
    An interesting query on Twitter read: Apparently, Roman priests were not allowed to use iron razors or scissors…  Anyone know why? A little searching turned up some sources.  I had hoped to find more in the old Realencyclopädie, but Bd. VI.2, col. 2489 gave only the same few.  All are very late indeed. My earliest source […]
  • From my diary
    I’m busy earning a living at the moment, so there is little to report.  However I happened to see a post on twitter recently about St Cuthman, an anglo-saxon saint, which sparked my interest.  All that is known about him is contained in the Acta Sanctorum volume for February (vol. 2), under February 8th, published […]
  • “account suspended” – anyone know what has happened?
    I was just googling and I find that the Orthodox forum is unavailable.  The address brings up a message saying that its “account has been suspended”.  Does anybody know what has happened?
  • Philo of Byzantium, On the Seven Wonders of the World: an English translation and some notes
    Approximately 50,000 Greek manuscripts survive, containing a mass of literature from the ancient and medieval period.  Among these is a curious little work, On the Seven Wonders of the World, De septem orbis miraculis, or peri ton hepta theamaton (Τῶν ἑπτὰ θεαμάτων ἑκάστου φήμῃ μέν). This is the first literary account of the seven wonders of the […]
  • Isidore of Seville – on the Tironian notae
    From Isidore of Seville, Etmologiae, book 1, chapter 22: XXII. DE NOTIS VVLGARIBVS. [1] Vulgares notas Ennius primus mille et centum invenit. Notarum usus erat ut, quidquid pro con[ten]tione aut [in] iudiciis diceretur, librarii scriberent conplures simul astantes, divisis inter se partibus, quot quisque verba et quo ordine exciperet. Romae primus Tullius Tiro Ciceronis libertus […]
  • An ancient handbook of short-hand: Tironian notes and the “Commentarii notarum Tironianarum”
    A new article at the British Library Manuscripts blog, Emilia Henderson, “Note-worthy connections: antique shorthand in Carolingian books“,, discusses an obscure ancient text, the Commentarii notarum Tironianarum, or Lexicon Tironianum.  This is a handbook of short-hand, giving the symbols with the Latin word or phrase that they represent. Bernard Bischoff wrote: The name covers the […]
  • Drawings of Old St Peter’s in Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.A.64.ter
    Another Vatican manuscript has come online, as I learn from @gundormr on Twitter here, and this one contains 16-17th century drawings of Old St Peter’s church in Rome. It has the rather awkward shelfmark of Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.A.64.ter, and may usually be found here, although I see tonight that the site is not working. Here’s a small […]
  • An unusual view of the Meta Sudans across the Piazza del Colosseo in 1930
    The excellent Rome Ieri Oggi site has started posting again on Twitter, and today posted the following fascinating image from 1930: Note the Meta Sudans in the middle.  By this date the brick stub of this ancient fountain had only a handful of years more in the world, before Mussolini demolished it. Marvellous to see […]
  • From my diary
    There is a certain very large text from late antiquity to which I have always wished to have access.  I don’t need to use it often, but when you do, you do.  There is indeed an English translation, itself a massive volume 18″ tall and 2 inches thick, some 650 pages.  But what I really […]
  • “John the deacon” – just who was he?
    There are several Italian authors of the Dark Ages known loosely as John the Deacon, and a google search will quickly find evidence that people get confused.  The text that I am working on, BHL 6104, is a Life of St Nicholas of Myra, in Latin, translated by “John the Deacon”.  I struggled with this, […]
  • Free! Database of manuscripts containing Latin Saint’s Lives – at the Bollandists
    I’ve been looking for manuscripts of the “Life” of St Nicholas by John the Deacon.  In the process I have just come across something very useful. This is the “Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina Online” (although it doesn’t contain the BHL info) or Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina manuscripta (BHLms) database.  And … it is free!  You have to […]
  • Looking for manuscripts of John the Deacon’s “Life of St Nicholas” (BHL 6104 etc)
    When using Google, it really helps if you have the BHL (Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina) number for the text that you are interested in.  You can find interesting things! My next project is to translate the “Life” of St. Nicholas, written in Latin by John the Deacon.  I shall use the Falconius text of 1751, which […]
  • Of the wickedness of men
    I apologise for the fact that there is currently no way to contact me through my website. The contact form has been targeted by a professional spammer in the last week.  I wasted an hour of my life this evening, which I could ill afford, reworking the form to require human input.  The spam […]
  • T. D. Barnes on Rodney Stark’s claim that only a “tiny number of Christians were ever martyred”
    Some time ago, someone on social media started a campaign under the hashtag of “Black Lives Matter”.  Someone else soon started another in response under the hashtag of “All Lives Matter”.  The supporters of the former responded with extreme fury to what, on the face of it, was a neutral response.  They saw it as […]
  • An early printed hagiography – the volumes of Aloysius Lippomanus
    First came Mombritius, probably in 1480, who printed his Sanctuarium in the incunable era.  This was essentially a two volume version of a late medieval collection of Saint’s lives. But next came Luigi Lippomano, or Aloysius Lippomanus, (Wikipedia article) with his vitarum Sanctorum priscorum Patrum, 1551-1560, in 8 volumes in Venice.  The links to the […]
  • More on Mombritius, and John the Deacon’s “Life of St Nicholas”
    The first collection to be printed of the lives of the saints was issued in Milan in 1477 by Mombritius in two large folio volumes.  These featured forms of the text which differed from subsequent collectors such as Lipomani, Surius and of course the Bollandists.  But the volumes became so rare that two monks of […]
  • Some thoughts on Craig Evans, “How Long Were Late Antique Books in Use?”
    A few days ago I wrote about the statement of Peter of Alexandria (d.311) that the original manuscript of John’s gospel was still around and that readings could be obtained from it. A few days ago I came across an interesting article by Craig Evans, “How Long Were Late Antique Books in Use? Possible Implications […]
  • The column of Arcadius – a detailed pre-1700 drawing
    Yesterday I posted about the column of Arcadius in Constantinople, designed like Trajan’s column in Rome, but destroyed by an earthquake in 1719.  In the process, I came across something rather remarkable – a very detailed drawing of the column, produced shortly before the column fell!  Here it is: This, I hope you will agree, […]
  • Some wonderful pictures from the Column of Arcadius in Istanbul, and notes on when it was destroyed
    The column of Arcadius stood at the centre of a circular forum in Constantinople.  It was pattern on Trajan’s column in Rome.  Like Trajan’s column it was hollow, with a spiral staircase inside, and richly decorated.  But it is no longer standing.  It was badly damaged by earthquakes, and eventually taken down by the Ottoman […]
  • From my diary
    There is a heatwave affecting southern England at the moment, which made it impossible to sleep last night, and filled the roads with sleep-deprived traffic early this morning.  I’ve started a new contract, which is very welcome after so long.  The air-conditioning in the office is even more welcome!  But all of this means that […]
  • Extracts from Peter of Alexandria (d.311) and the original copy of the Gospel of John
    In the 10th century one or more scribes created what is now a parchment manuscript with the shelfmark Vatican gr. 1941 (scanned microfilm online here).  The majority of the pages today (folios 19r-290v) are occupied by an anonymous chronicle of the 7th century, written, as it tells us, by a contemporary of Heraclius.  This world […]
  • St Nicholas and the “Life” by John the Deacon
    The Acta Sanctorum is of no use for the Saints’ Life of St Nicholas of Myra, as his feast day falls in December, a month that the Acta Sanctorum has yet to reach.  However there is a Latin Life that I want to translate.  It is that of John the Deacon. The text of John […]
  • Farewell J.-B. Piggin, of ” Piggin’s Unofficial list” of Vatican manuscript releases online
    I learned today that Jean-Baptiste Piggin has left us, on 28th June 2019.  He had been ill for some time, and had retired from his day job as a journalist only last year.  He posted to twitter as recently as 10th June! He had his own research interests, but he was much more widely known […]
  • Valentine of Rome (BHL 8465) – extracts from the Passiones of Marius, Martha, Audifax and Abacuc (BHL 5543)
    I mentioned that I would not be translating the “Passio” of St Valentine of Rome, priest (BHL 8465), because it was in fact just an extract from the Passiones of Marius, Martha, Audifax and Abacuc (BHL 5543); and that these had been translated rather splendidly by Michael Lapidge.  But very few people will ever see […]
  • From my diary
    This evening I spent some time upgrading the software on my personal Wiki.  It was a project for Syriac literature that I did many years ago, and I only discovered today that it was no longer functioning.  Thankfully the upgrade was smooth and I got everything back.  But it does make you realise that websites […]
  • How to approach translating hagiography; St Valentine of Rome; and why I won’t translate his “Life” (BHL 8465)
    I pressed “Publish”.  My post with my translation of the Passio of St Valentine of Terni shot out onto the internet.  What now? I found myself thinking about the “other” St Valentine, Valentine of Rome, the priest.  I went back to the Acta Sanctorum, February vol. 2, for February 14th, and looked at the material […]
  • St Valentine – his “Passio” (BHL 8460) now online in English
    St Valentine’s Day is February 14.  But who was St Valentine?  Well, he was bishop of Terni, or Interamna.  His (fictional) “Life” or “Passio” is now online in English.  This has the Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina (BHL) number 8460.  The work probably dates from the 6th century AD.  It’s fairly short, and it has – sadly – […]
  • Still working on the translation of the “Life” of St Valentine of Terni
    The two pages of the medieval Life of St Valentine have taken me rather more time to translate than I had realised.  But we’re getting there! When I decided to make this translation, I first located the text in the Acta Sanctorum (AASS) volume for February 14.  I was preparing to transcribe this, but I […]
  • Ignorant musings about saints
    This evening I was thinking about saints.  As a protestant I know very little about them, and how the institution works.  That makes me admirably suited to make some ignorant remarks on the subject. What sparked my interest was the question of whether there was a patron saint of cats.  There seems to be a […]
  • A good portrait of Constantius II?
    I’ve been googling online, and I have been unable to locate a good likeness of Constantius II, who succeeded his father Constantine, murdered all his cousins, then his brothers and left only a nephew, Julian the Apostate, to succeed him.  His reign is described vividly by Ammianus Marcellinus, and the church remembered him as an […]
  • Tutorial: How to download the LIDAR datasets from the UK Environment Agency website
    Lidar is a technique for displaying the shape of the ground using pulses of laser light.  The results have been widely used to discover Roman monuments, as they can process them to omit modern buildings, trees, etc.  I have been interested in this ever since I discovered some Lidar images of the seabed showing the […]
  • Underwater archaeology beneath the pyramids of the Black Pharaohs
    A simply amazing story has appeared in National Geographic magazine this month (July 2, 2019, by Kristin Romey).  It’s online here. An expedition is investigating the burial chambers under some of the pyramids of Nuri in Sudan.  Rising ground-water means that these are drowned in water, and so inaccessible.  Indeed some may never have been […]
  • A 1987 plan for the ruins of the Roman fort of “Walton Castle”
    Walton Castle is the local name for the remains of a Roman fort, now submerged beneath the waves offshore at Felixstowe in Suffolk, Britain.  Resources for study of this monument are limited, and I have discussed them in other posts. One interesting article appeared in, of all things, a popular magazine.  Such an item is, […]
  • Two ancient Latin versions of the letter of Arius to Eusebius of Nicomedia
    Thanks to a kind correspondent here, I have become aware that the letter of Arius to Eusebius of Nicomedia is preserved in two Latin versions.  These are given in Hans-Georg Opitz, Urkunden zur Geschichte des arianischen Streites (Documents on the history of the Arian dispute), in Athanasius Werke, III, pt. 1, 1934.  He gives an […]
  • Ibn Khaldun, taxation, and Boris Johnson
    During a TV interview yesterday, a politician suddenly referred to a 14th century Arabic writer.  Via Twitter: When asked about his spending plans and plans to cut taxes, Boris Johnson responds “as the great Tunisian scholar and sage Ibn Khaldun pointed out as early as the 14th century, there are plenty of taxes that you […]
  • The New Jerusalem like a bride in Rev. 21:2 and Christ as bridegroom
    An interesting enquiry on Twitter here: Who is the very first commentator to apply to Rev 21:2 (the New Jerusalem) the analogy of Christ as bridegroom to his Church? I’m looking for the very beginnings of this tradition and a nice juicy source on its dissemination. Let’s have Revelation 21:2 first: 21 Then I saw “a […]
  • Arius to Eusebius of Nicomedia: the Son is “fully God”
    The Da Vinci Code has spawned a host of people who believe that the First Council of Nicaea voted on whether Jesus was God.  I tend to correct such people by pointing out that Arius himself calls the Son, “fully God”, in his letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia (321 AD).  I usually include a paragraph […]
  • Some further notes on Primasius
    Following my post of yesterday, I have gleaned a few more details on Primasius of Hadrumetum and his commentary on Revelation (Commentarius in Apocalypsin). A better account of his life and actions can be found in the old 19th century Dictionary of Christian Biography volumes, with references, here.  It reads: Primasius, bp. of Adrumetum or […]
  • Primasius and his Commentary on Revelation
    Few will have heard of Primasius, bishop of Hadrumetum in Vandal Africa.  What little we know about him comes from the obscure chronicle by Victor of Tunnuna (who is NOT Victor of Vita), and from Isidore of Seville (De viris illustribus 22).  The Italian continuation of Quasten’s Patrology published by Marietti (Patrologia IV: I padri […]
  • Augustine’s “De ordine” and his comment on prostitution
    One of the earliest works of St Augustine is a work that he wrote in 386 AD at a country villa while preparing for baptism.  It is one of a number of works that he wrote at that time.  Augustine had just abandoned his job as a teacher of philosophy, but the milieu is still […]
  • An online quote attributed to St. Jerome, on prayer
    It’s often wise to be wary of online quotes which carry a famous name, but no reference.  One of these caught my eye a couple of days ago, and I wondered if it was genuine.  A google search revealed nothing as to its source, unfortunately.  It does appear without reference in a Catholic collection of […]
  • John Zonaras on the date of Easter
    Most of us think of John Zonaras as a Byzantine epitomator of Cassius Dio.  This he certainly did, as part of composing his own history.  Even in brief, that history was pretty long, running up to the reign of Alexius I Comnenus.  We’re still dependent on the old Bonn CSHB text for access to this […]
  • The late antique edition of Livy by the Nicomachean family
    The vast history Ab urbe condita by Livy was so enormous – well over 100 books – that it was transmitted in collections of 10 books.  Most of these “decades” are lost.  We possess only the first, third, fourth, and half of the fifth decade. In late antiquity the texts of the first century came […]
  • Bits and bobs
    Here’s some stuff that’s wandered into my in-tray. Google is becoming a useful tool for biblical quotations.  While checking some of these by googling, I found myself looking at at several volumes of the critical text of the Vetus Latina.  A search on Vetus Latina brings up quite a number here.  I hope that […]
  • More Meta Sudans photos and a document on the demolition!
    The excellent Roma Ieri Oggi site continues to upload old photographs of Rome.  I confess that I find the twitter feed more accessible than the website, and of course it allows for feedback. A couple of days ago, I browsed through the feed and came across something very interesting.  First there was a photograph of […]
  • Manuscripts and text of the Vita S. Valentini: a review of the article by Edoardo D’Angelo
    I’ve started to look at the photocopies that I obtained three days ago of articles in the Bassetti volume of papers about St Valentine.  Naturally my first interest is the paper by Edoardo D’Angelo, “La Passio sancti Valentini martyris (BHL 8460-8460b): Un ‘martirio occulto’ d’età postcostantiniana?” (p.179-222), as it contains a discussion of the manuscripts […]
  • From my diary
    Today I had to drive for three hours each way for a job “interview” of around twenty minutes.  I already had a job offer, but I thought it wise to have a face-to-face meeting, and it proved very wise indeed.  The job looks like a stress-fest.  Not for me. But I redeemed the travel time […]
  • From my diary
    Yesterday and today I’ve been working on a translation of the “Saint’s Life” of St Valentine of Terni / Interamna.  I started this a few months ago, and then got diverted.  It’s only ten chapters in the Acta Sanctorum, two sides of a page.  It is mildly incredible that nobody has translated this. Anyway this […]
  • More on “Magganum” and St George
    Following yesterday’s post, a kind correspondent wrote to tell me of a Greek word in wiktionary that seems relevant, μάγγανο.  This noun may be a form of war machine, but also a type of crane, or a windlass.  The email continued: The -um endings in Latin coincide with the Greek ending -on, hence, “magganon”. It […]
  • What does “magganum” mean? Looking for the Commentator Cruquianus of Horace
    While working on the Life of St George, I came across an unusual word, “magganum”.  Whatever it was, it was being used during the tortures inflicted on the saint.  The dictionaries were really not very helpful!  Gaffiot thought it could mean “wine barrel”, but also pointed me to “maganum” which Du Cange thought meant “war […]
  • Discovery of unpublished letter by Eastern bishop on Easter, from the time of Nicaea, mentioning the Acts of Pilate
    There are still treasures out there, slumbering in forgotten manuscripts in the collections of the west.  French scholar Pierre Chambert-Protat today announced on Twitter that he has discovered a previously unknown ancient text in manuscript Montpellier 157.  This 9th century manuscript, copied in 848, is a collection of extracts on Easter, assembled by Florus of […]
  • Commercial use of my stuff by someone else?
    Today I received an email from “Delphi Classics” asking if they could use the Eusebius translations from my website for an upcoming eBook of the works of Eusebius.  These consist of translations now out of copyright, which I scanned, plus material that others sent me, and stuff that I commissioned myself.  They’re not offering me […]
  • Norwich Cathedral and the Latin origins of modern English liturgies
    I passed the weekend in the English city of Norwich.  On the Sunday I attended the sung eucharist at Norwich Cathedral with a friend.  I confess that I have never attended a Sunday morning service at a cathedral in my life, so it was a new experience. The interior was very bare.  The stonework had […]
  • From my diary
    I made a trip to Cambridge University Library on Tuesday, to look at a couple of books on Theophanes of Nicaea, rather than waiting several weeks.  I was glad to find some money still on my university card, but the photocopiers become more difficult to use each time they get a new one!  I got […]
  • Theophanes III of Nicaea and the light of God as the fire of hell for those who reject Him
    The Wikipedia article on the “Light of Tabor” – the divine light seen by the disciples on Mount Tabor – mentions that “Theophanes of Nicaea” believed that “the divine light will be perceived as the punishing fire of hell”. This is indeed true, although Theophanes is actually merely following Gregory Nazianzen here. But who is […]
  • The Lysippus bust of Alexander the Great
    The majority of ancient depictions of Alexander the Great show a rather effeminate-looking youth.  However there is another portrait which is said to be a Roman copy of a bronze made by Lysippus, Alexander’s personal sculptor.  Three photographs of this, seemingly gathered from the web, were posted on Twitter this morning by @HellenisticPod here.  (Click […]
  • Tertullian and British Israelitism
    A correspondent wrote to me, in search of a quotation: In McBirnie (1973,227) writing about the 12 apostles I found a quote he states is from Tertullian. He cites Lionel Smithett Lewis ( 1955, 129) who wrote re Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury, England. Both authors cite the Tertullian reference as (Def. Fidei, 179). McBirnie’s […]
  • Banishing the letter “v” from the Latin alphabet
    I was looking at James Morwood’s A Latin Grammar (Oxford), when I espied at the foot of the introduction (p. vii) the following words: I am delighted to have compiled the first Latin grammar in English to have banished the letter V from the Latin alphabet. It was never there. These words do smack rather […]
  • Did King James issue instructions to the bible translators to change the text to hide his own sins?
    An interesting discussion on twitter led me to a man who roundly asserted that King James I issued a list of instructions to the translators of the King James version of the bible, with an eye to getting his own sins omitted from it.  It sounded quite improbable.  In fact it is complete nonsense; but […]
  • The domes of the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople
    By accident I came across an old exchange on Twitter, criticising a reconstruction of the vanished church of the holy apostles in Constantinople.  The church was demolished by the invading Ottomans. The church was originally constructed by Constantine, with his mausoleum at the rear, and rebuilt by Justinian.  It was in the usual square cross […]
  • Eusebius of Caesarea, Six extracts from the Commentary on the Psalms, in English
    Last year I gave a list of passages from Eusebius’ massive Commentary on the Psalms which deserved to be read in English.  Thankfully Fr. Alban Justinus stepped up and translated six of these for us, before other events drew him away.  I’d like to make that material accessible now.  Here they are: Eusebius-Commentary_on_the_Psalms_6_extracts-2019 (PDF) Eusebius-Commentary_on_the_Psalms_6_extracts-2019 (Word […]
  • Richard McCambly, Lectio Divina, and Gregory of Nyssa
    An email arrives from Richard McCambly, with news that he has created a website for the practice of “lectio divina”.  It’s at Dr McCambly’s site also contains his own translations of the works of Gregory of Nyssa.  These can be found here, as PDFs, under the icon of Gregory, each with an introduction. Excellent […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 1 (part 8)
    We now reach the days of Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph.  And … this is the very last chunk of Eutychius!  We’ve now read through the lot.  What now remains is to gather all the pieces together, revise them, add whatever notes seem appropriate, and make it available online. 16. Abraham was seventy-five years old when […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 1 (part 7)
    Let’s carry on with Eutychius’ rewriting of the Old Testament.  None of this is enormously interesting, but we, or rather I, have to trudge through it if we are to complete this translation of Eutychius.  It seems that nobody will produce an English translation direct from the Arabic.  So, as before, I am taking the Italian […]
  • The Acts of John in the minutes of the Second Council of Nicaea (787)
    The Greek church during the 8th century became embarassed at the naked worship of icons in the churches.  Eventually the emperor Constantine V called a synod at Hieria in 754 to deal with the situation.  This obediently passed canons condemning the worship of icons.  But over the next few years a reaction took place, and after […]
  • The Second Council of Nicaea (787) and the Canon of the New Testament
    Why on earth would anybody suppose that the Second Council of Nicea / Nicaea in 787 was responsible for deciding which books went into the bible?  It’s absurd on the face of it, considering the vast mass of patristic testimony and physical bibles that survive. However I keep seeing ignorant people online who either state […]
  • Why can’t I find this passage from Cyril of Alexandria’s “Commentary on John” in the text?
    Cyril of Alexandria wrote an extensive Commentary on John in twelve books.  It is not entirely preserved.  Books seven and eight have not reached us, although a few quotations survive in the medieval bible commentaries known as the catenas. The commentary tends to be less well-known than other patristic commentaries.  The doubtful reputation of Cyril […]
  • From my diary
    A couple of things have held my attention in the last few weeks.  Firstly I have been working on the QuickLatin codebase.  The migration to dotNet is complete, and it is now a question of firing stuff at it and finding why it breaks!  I’ve also updated the dictionaries to the latest version. Basically I […]
  • An unexpected tale for Good Friday: The House on Lake Minnetonka That Never Existed
    Today is Good Friday, and also the start of Passover; the slight divergence in the calculations this year makes for an unusual coincidence.   Good Friday is a bank holiday today, so there is peace and quiet here.  It is good to remember what the Lord did for us this day. I thought that I would […]
  • A fresco of the interior of Old St Peter’s by Filippo Gagliardi in San Martino ai Monti in Rome
    Via Twitter I learned today of the existence of a fresco in the church of San Martino ai Monti in Rome, which depicts the interior of Old St Peter’s.  Here’s a somewhat muddy picture of it that I found on the web: A better: The following inset was on Google Image search, from a now […]
  • Lidar on the Roman fort at Felixstowe
    A kind correspondent, David Blocker, has looked at the Lidar images that I posted, of the ruins of “Walton Castle”, the Saxon Shore Roman fort lying submerged near Felixstowe in Suffolk, and annotated them.  The results are fascinating: Then with annotation: As a reminder, the rough sketch map drawn by the diver Jeff Errington: He […]
  • An interesting request: get books without paying for them!?
    Like every blogger, I get a certain amount of mail.  Most of it is nice and interesting.  I’ve not had any death threats at all! Then there is the item that reached me recently via the Chieftain Publishing website, where I advertise the two volumes that I published.  I don’t get much email from that […]
  • A silver “votive plaque” of the 2-3rd century AD, attributed to “Mithras”
    A twitter post drew my attention to an interesting item held in the British Museum since 1899.  Their catalogue page is here.  It is described as a “silver votive plaque with a figure of the god Mithras”.  Here are the pictures: And a zoomed in version: Viewed up close, this is not Mithras.  Nothing about […]
  • From my diary
    I was able to sit at my computer this evening for the first time and work a little on the translation of chapter 11 of the Vita of St George.  So I am clearly improving.  But I still can’t really walk, or leave the house, and I must keep my foot elevated most of the […]
  • The tomb of Aelia Arisuth in Libya
    A few days ago a kind correspondent sent me details of the tomb of Aelia Arisuth, 8km west of Tripoli in Libya, which I have added to my digest of Mithras photographs.  It’s listed in the CIMRM as CIMRM 113.  The tomb contains two tomb niches, one for Aelia Arisuth herself, and one for her […]
  • From my diary
    I have now discovered why I was unable to locate the 1969 survey report by Jeff Errington, reporting on the dives to the submerged Roman fort at Felixstowe.  The article from 2000 said that it was at Ipswich Museum.  But an email from one of the article authors, Tom Plunkett, reveals that a mass of […]
  • Finding “Great Long Dole” – maps of the fort area, old and new
    The old Victoria History of the County of Suffolk, on the landscape near Felixstowe Roman fort, refers to a close known as “Great Long Dole”, which apparently bore that name in 1907.  This gave no results in Google.  Fortunately the old Ordinance Survey maps are online (although for some peculiar reason the new ones are […]
  • The Errington sub-aqua expedition to “Walton castle”, 1969 – the press clippings
    The ruins of the Roman fort of the Saxon shore at Felixstowe, known as “Walton Castle”, were examined in 1969 by a team of divers from the Ipswich branch of the British Sub-Aqua club, led by Jeff Errington.  Ipswich museum liason was Elizabeth Owles, although I have yet to locate the survey report filed with […]
  • Old drawings of “Walton Castle”, the Roman fort of the Saxon Shore at Felixstowe
    We do possess a number of old drawings of the Roman “Saxon Shore” fort that once stood on the cliff at Felixstowe. These show what it looked like, before it went over the cliff into the sea, and then after.  These were printed in 1907 in The Victoria history of the county of Suffolk, Vol. […]
  • More on the “Errington manuscript”
    I’ve written a couple of posts about the remains of the Roman fort of the Saxon Shore, lying under the water offshore at Felixstowe.  I’ve been trying to get hold of a survey report from 1969, done by members of the British Sub-Aqua club.  This seems to be the last work done on the fort.  […]
  • From my diary
    The hunt for a copy of a 1969 survey report, detailing sub-aqua dives on the ruins of the Roman fort offshore at Felixstowe, continues!  I had a nice email back from the local sub-aqua club, who no longer have a copy.  But it seems that the report’s author, a “J. Errington”, is in fact “Jeff” […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve had rather a busy week, ending with a rather splendid college reunion.  But of course everything else has gone out of the window, and I also have rather a large sleep debt to pay off. Today brings another chunk of translation of an early Latin Vita of St George.  Chapters 9 and 11 are […]
  • From my diary
    It is Saturday evening here.  I’m just starting to wind down, in preparation for Sunday and a complete day away from the computer, from all the chores and all my hobbies and interests.  I shall go and walk along the seafront instead, and rest and relax and recharge. Sometimes it is very hard to do […]
  • From my diary
    WordPress decided, without my permission, to install version 5.1, complete with their new but deeply unpopular “Gutenberg” editor that nobody either wanted nor requested.  I can’t downgrade from 5.1, but I’ve managed to get rid of the useless Gutenberg editor.  Let me know if there are any funnies.
  • From my diary: looking for the Roman fort of “Walton Castle”
    In late antiquity the Saxons started to make raids into the Roman province of Britannia.  This they did by sailing across the North Sea – the Narrow Seas, as it is also known – in open boats.  In response to this the Romans built a chain of impressive forts along the British coast, under the […]
  • From my diary
    This is another highly technical post, so I apologise to those readers with no interest in programming. This week I have continued the ghastly process of migrating the 27,000 lines of code that make up QuickLatin from Visual Basic 6 to VB.Net 2008. I found that the “Upgrade Wizard” for VB6 was no longer included in versions of […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve been continuing to work on QuickLatin.  The conversion from VB6 to VB.Net is horrible, but I am making real progress. The key to it is to change the VB6 project, so that it will convert better.  So for instance I have various places at which I make a raw Win32 API call, because VB6 […]
  • From my diary
    It’s been an interesting couple of days. I was working on the Passio of St Valentine, and I really felt that I could do with some help.  So I started browsing grammars. This caused me to realise that many of the “rules” embedded in them were things that you’d like to have pop-up, sort of […]
  • From my diary
    When I was 11 years old, I was transferred to an old-fashioned northern grammar school.  This kept up the tradition of Latin and Greek, and Latin began at 11, and continued until 16. The textbook used was Paterson and Macnaughton, The Approach to Latin.  This was actually the first volume of a three book series.  […]
  • Latin as it is spoke: some thoughts on Latin syntax
    In the last few days I have been looking at the Latin text of the passio of St Valentine of Interamna / Terni.  It’s a while since I did any Latin translating.  But the process always involves difficulty. These days it is very easy to determine the tense, number, case, gender and meaning of individual […]
  • Will the real St Valentine please step forward? – A look at the BHL
    Valentine’s Day has just passed.  In honour of the day, I thought that it would be interesting to look in the Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina vol. 2, and see what it says about saints named “Valentinus”. Rather to my astonishment, Abbyy Finereader 14 seems to be very good at OCRing Latin.  So here it is: Valentinus […]
  • From my diary
    Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.  Inevitably I found myself wondering what kind of ancient or medieval literary material there was about St Valentine. I found very little.   What little there was to be found by a Google search suggested that it was all derived at many removes from the old Catholic Encyclopedia.  The article in this […]
  • Help!
    Some time ago a kind gentleman sent me a link to a Google drive spreadsheet full of links to volumes of the Acta Sanctorum.  I have managed to lose all trace of this.  If you know the one I mean and where it may be found – it has many other series as well – please contact […]
  • From my diary
    This evening I spent some time looking at Huber’s article, Zur Georgslegende (1906).  I’d not looked at this before, so it was time to do so.  It contains five Latin versions of the Life of St George. I also OCR’d the article, so that I could pass the German introduction through Google Translate, to see if it contained […]
  • The importance of standard spelling in critical editions
    A few months ago a kind gentleman offered to translate some Latin for us all.  Meaning no harm, I suggested that the earliest Latin version of the Life of St George might be a good candidate.  For narrative texts are easier to translate, and how difficult could a late antique saints’ life be?  There was […]
  • Why does paleography work, and how did we get it?
    Paleography is a technique for dating hand-written copies of ancient or medieval texts by looking at the way that the actual text is written; the shapes of the letters, abbreviations used, and so on. I’ve found by experience that laymen often don’t understand how it works, or why it works.  Only yesterday I came across […]
  • Menelaus of Alexandria in al-Biruni
    Continuing from yesterday…. A little more information about Menelaus of Alexandria can be got from Roshdi and Papadopoulos’ introduction, although not without effort. On page 13 they tell us about the lost work of Menelaus: The Book on the Elements of Geometry, translated by Thābit ibn Qurra, was quoted by other scholars, like al-Bīrūnī.37 With […]
  • You can call me al-… : Arabic sources on Menelaus of Alexandria
    I ran out of time when doing yesterday’s post so I had to cut short my investigation of Arabic sources for Menelaus of Alexandria and just post what a secondary source said. Today we only know the Sphaerica of Menelaus; but his Elements of Geometry were translated into Arabic by Thabit ibn Qurrah in the 9th […]
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about Menelaus of Alexandria but were afraid to ask
    I’ve just come across an ancient author who is completely unfamiliar to me.  His name was Menelaus, and he was a mathematical writer, and one of his books even survives today, his Spherics, although only just. Let’s see what ancient sources say about him. In the Almagest (or Syntaxis) VII.3, Ptolemy tells us that he […]
  • A daguerreotype of the Roman forum from 1842
    A kind correspondent has drawn my attention to an article in the New York Times, on an exhibition of daguerreotypes.  These were early photographs which possessed a 3-D quality hard to reproduce today.  The Metropolitan Museum in New York possesses a collection taken by Frenchman Girault de Prangey (1804-1892).  They were all taken in 1842, […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 1 (part 6)
    Continuing… 13. At that time people spoke only one language and one dialect.  Some say that they spoke Syriac, others instead that they spoke Hebrew, and others that they spoke Greek. For me the latter are more reliable, because the Greek language is much more vigorous, richer and more varied than both Syriac and Hebrew (44). Seventy-two of them […]
  • A couple of thoughts on translations of Juvenal
    A kind correspondent sent me the introduction to the 2004 new Loeb edition of Juvenal.  I warmed to the translator (Susanna Braund) on the first page of the preface: My aim in translating the Satires of Juvenal and Persius for the Loeb Classical Library has been to produce a translation that is vivid and vigorous and […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 1 (part 5)
    Continuing with Eutychius’ rewrite of Genesis and the Cave of Treasures. 9. When they went out [from the ark] they built a city and called it Thamanīn (29), from their number, which means “We are eight”.  God – powerful and exalted – then said to Noah: “There will not be another flood in future”.  God […]
  • An ancient life of Juvenal
    Little is known about the satirist Juvenal, other than what can be gleaned from his works. There are ancient scholia, but these are plainly the product of Late Antiquity. Reading the old 1913 Loeb edition of Juvenal, my eye was drawn to mention of an ancient biography of Juvenal, of dubious veracity.  The editor gave […]
  • Terrence B. McMullen: a name on a fly-leaf comes alive
    I’m still purging books.  This afternoon I shredded two modern paperback translations of Juvenal and turned them into PDFs.  Both were new, and both are disposable. But I’ve been caught out slightly.  The next volume was a battered old copy of J. C. Pollock’s A Cambridge Movement (1953), in blue cloth cover.  It’s a history […]
  • A fuller extract from Gregory of Nyssa on the evils of slavery
    A few years ago I found online an extract from Gregory of Nyssa against slavery which I wrote about here.  Today I came across the full text of the translation, and the passage is rather longer than I had thought, and well worth giving in full. The passage appears in the Homilies on Ecclesiastes, homily 4.  […]
  • 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 […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 1 (part 4)
    Now the flood… 7.  The corruption was now great upon the earth, for the sons of Shīt had intermingled with the sons of Cain, the accursed, performing sins and every sort of immorality and giving themselves only to entertainment, so God spoke to Noah and said to him: “I will send the flood upon the earth and I […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 1 (part 3)
    Continuing…. Part of the fun in this is trying to recognise the familiar biblical characters behind their unfamiliar Arabic names! 5. When Yārid felt near death, he called to him his son Akhnūkh, and Mātūshālikh, son of Akhnūkh, Lāmikh, son of Mātūshālikh and Nūh, son of Lāmikh, and said to them: “Do not let any of you […]
  • Depictions of the column of Justinian in manuscripts of the Notitia Dignitatum
    While reading Twitter I happened to see this item:… ”Constantinopla Nova Roma” – Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid, Spain -(15th. c. Manuscript) What struck me at once was the prominent view of the column of Justinian, complete with the equestrian statue of the emperor pointing towards the east.  The column stood outside Hagia Sophia, and was destroyed […]
  • From my diary
    It is Saturday night; in fact the twelfth night after Christmas day, and so – according to Google – the time to take down Christmas decorations.  It is slightly surprising that the Church of England press office does not issue a formal letter to the press, reminding everyone.  Sadly the ecclesiastics of today tend to have […]
  • From my diary
    The Christmas-New Year holidays continue here, which is just as well as it allows me to get something worthwhile done.  It also allows me to plan things for the year to come.  After several dull days this morning was bright, sunny and full of light; and so, therefore, was I. When household papers arrive on […]
  • From my diary
    Happy New Year to everyone who reads this blog!  May it be a prosperous and successful year for us all! We stand on the first step of the year.  There are 364 more steps until we get to this place again!  So… it’s the time to decide just what we want to do with the […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 1 (part 2)
    Let’s carry on from where we left off in September 19, 2016, when last we looked at Chapter 1.  All of this material is derived from the Old Testament, albeit with some imaginative reworking, and it is of no historical value except as indicating how people in the Muslim world thought about this narrative in […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 2 – part 3 and last
    Time to get back to Eutychius… This is more Old Testament stuff: Joshua.  The invasion of the Israelites into Canaan is depicted in rather similar language to the Muslim invasion, doubtless intentionally. 6. After the death of Moses, there took command of the people Yūshā‘ (29), son of Nūn, and held it for thirty-one years.  After crossing […]
  • An unusual angle on the Meta Sudans
    On the 15th December this image was posted, dated to the 1920s-30s: It shows the Arch of Titus, and behind it the Colosseum, from the unusual vantage point of the Palatine hill.  But at this date, of course, it also shows the remains of the ancient Roman fountain, the Meta Sudans, which was demolished soon […]
  • Arator, his “Historia Apostolica” and its “tituli” and “capitula”
    Back in October I received an email enquiring about the chapter headings in the manuscripts of Arator.  My first reaction, like yours, was to wonder who on earth was Arator!  So I thought that it might be interesting to give some information here about this obscure figure, and discuss the question posed to me. Let’s […]
  • Cotelerius on Pope Julius and Cyril of Jerusalem
    In my last post I looked into John of Nicaea – or John of Nike, as we ought to call him – and found the full version of the De nativitate Dei text that Migne quoted briefly in the PG 33 to show that Cyril of Jerusalem wrote to Pope Julius I to find out […]
  • From my diary – The “upgrade” that destroys your website
    WordPress has pretty much conquered the world, as far as blog engines are concerned.  Who uses anything else now?  Fortunately, to the best of my knowledge, WordPress has not adopted the evil practices of other ‘net monopolies and started to censor content for political reasons.  But the monopoly cannot be good for any of us. […]
  • The search for “John of Nicaea”: adventures in Byzantine prosopography
    John of Nicaea is not known to the World-Wide Web.  A search for this author, whom I mentioned in my last post, was quite futile.  So I began to think about how I might find someone from the 9th or 11-12th century, potentially.  The CPG ends around the time of John Damascene, so is useless […]
  • Dubious claims: Pope Julius I decided that Jesus was born on 25 December?
    Christmas comes round every year, and every year somebody will tell us that Pope Julius I (337-352 AD) in 350, or 352, or 320 – the supposed date varies – decided that Jesus was born on 25 December.  Julius lived under the Arian emperor Constantius II, and was an ally of Athanasius, but is otherwise obscure. […]
  • From my diary
    My apologies for the annoying pop-up that now appears on the right of the blog, touting ReCaptcha.  This is a little bit of market-position abuse from Google, who have forced their branding into the Contact Form that I have been using, and popped it up throughout my site (!).  I will find a way to […]
  • Ephraim Graecus – a list of works
    Just to wrap up my work on Ephraim Graecus, I’ve uploaded a list of works to the site.  This appears as a page in the right-hand side of the blog here.  I give the title of the work, in Greek, the Latin title, where the text  may be found, any translations known to me, and […]
  • From Hell’s bookshelf: the official 1930 history of the Student Christian Movement
    Some books are fun to read.  Some are worth reading, fun or not.  Some are not worth reading.  And finally some are worse than that. Last weekend I was reading Oliver Barclay’s From Cambridge to the World, a fine description of the work of God through student ministry in Britain over the last 120 years.  I was […]
  • There will be stars: the life and death of Robert H. Schmidt
    Ancient technical texts are very hard to work with.  Not merely do you need the usual Greek and Latin language skills, and a feel for the customs of the ancient world.  You also need a specialised understanding of the discipline in question.  Not many of us have knowledge of alchemy, or farming methods, or architecture.  So the […]
  • Ancient Greek / Latin translator available for hire
    A gentleman wrote to me enquiring if I knew anybody who could use someone with knowledge of ancient Greek or Latin, primarily patristic.  He’s a PhD student who is already doing some work as a volunteer. Now I’ve not seen his work, and at the moment I can’t offer him some work myself. But if you […]
  • Memories of the polemical and literary activity of Earl Doherty
    Few today will have heard the name of Earl Doherty.  But in the late 90s and early 2000s, if you were one of those posting online in the religion groups in Usenet news, you would inevitably encounter some atheist gleefully parotting his theories. Doherty was a Canadian atheist, who used the nascent internet to push the claim […]
  • A Roman ring with “Pilato” on it found in Israel?
    A story today in Haaretz, here, has been repeated across the news outlets: Ring of Roman Governor Pontius Pilate Who Crucified Jesus Found in Herodion Site in West Bank The ring was found during a dig led by Professor Gideon Forster from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem 50 years ago, but only now has the […]
  • From my diary
    It’s been a very nice break at home, this summer and autumn.  But all good things must come to an end, and on Monday I shall have to go out an earn a living once more.  So I’m tidying up and winding down. One problem that I have been struggling with for some time is […]
  • Another engraving of the buried Roman west gate of Lincoln
    Back in March this year I wrote a post on the 19th century rediscovery of the west gate of Roman Lindum, modern Lincoln.  The Norman castle mound had buried it; and it was rediscovered when a nearby businessman sought to enlarge his own property by digging away at the mound.  Out came the gatehouse, more […]
  • Beatitudines aliae, part 5
    Continuing! ϛʹ. Μακάριος ὁ | ἔχων | ἐν νῷ | τὴν ἡμέραν τὴν μέλλουσαν τὴν φοβερὰν | καὶ σπουδάσας ἰάσασθαι | ἐν δάκρυσι τὰ τραύματα τῆς ψυχῆς αὑτοῦ. (VI.  Beatus, qui mente versat formidabilem illam futuri judicii diem, & qui lacrymis vulnera animae suae curare studet.) A slight change at the front: ὁ rather than […]
  • Gaffiot’s massive Latin-French dictionary online; plus Du Cange’s medieval Latin glossary
    A kind correspondent wrote today to supply some obscure words in the ancient catalogue of the Regions of Rome (and their monuments) attached to the Chronography of 354.  In the process I learned that a couple of really important dictionaries for Latin have come online in searchable form. The first of these is Felix Gaffiot’s Dictionnaire Illustré […]
  • From my diary
    This evening I wanted to check a point of Greek grammar, so I went to my “black library”, where the Greek and Latin grammars are stored.  My study is in a converted bedroom, which has the floor-to-ceiling sliding mirrored doors that were fitted in the 90s.  Inside this are not the clothes that such wardrobes […]
  • Beatitudines 4
    Here’s the next few sections in Beatitudines aliae capita viginti of Ephraem Graecus. δʹ. Μακάριος ὃς | γέγονεν ἁγνὸς Θεῷ | καὶ ἅγιος καὶ καθαρὸς | ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν μιασμῶν καὶ λογισμῶν καὶ πράξεων τῶν πονηρῶν. (IV. Beatus, qui castus est Deo, & sanctus ac purus a cunctis immunditiis, cogitationibusque, ac operibus improbis.) As before, […]
  • Beatitudines aliae 3 – stepping through the Greek once more
    Let’s carry on looking at the Greek of Ephraim Graecus, Beatitudines aliae capita XX.  I apologise if it’s a bit dull, but it’s useful to me.  Into section 3: γ’. Μακάριος ὃς γέγονεν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ὡς ἄγγελος οὐράνιος καὶ μιμητὴς τῶν Σεραφίμ, ἁγνοὺς ἔχων καθ’ ἑκάστην τοὺς λογισμούς. Traversari’s modern translation (which helps quite a […]
  • Beatitudines aliae, section 2
    In the comments to my last post it was pointed out that the syntax of the sentence of Beatitudines aliae capita xx is poetic, rather than prose; and the word order is accordingly weird. The first two “chapters” – or rather sentences – are both in a similar form.  The first clause consists of: Μακάριος ὃς (“Blessed is he […]
  • More on Beatitudines aliae capita xx.
    There are perils to late-night writing, one of which is that you may not be that sharp!  But today I have started to look at Traversari’s translation of Ephraem Graecus’ Beatitudines aliae capita xx.  Here’s the first “chapter” (with ocr error corrected!): I. Beatus, qui praesentem hanc vitam odit ac deserit, & in solo Deo […]
  • Looking at Ephraem Graecus, “Beatitudines aliae capita XX”
    Insomnia is a pain.  But it is my lot tonight, so I thought that I’d go and look at Ephraim Graecus’ work Beatitudines aliae capita XX” (Other blessings, 20 chapters). My first intention was to translate some of the Greek; but I quickly was drawn to the parallel Latin translation printed by Assemani, and originally […]
  • Working on the bibliography of Ephraim Graecus
    This is a bit of a computer-y post, so perhaps will be of interest to few. A couple of days ago I started with a list of PDFs of Greek works of Ephraem Graecus from here, and I opened it up in Notepad++ and global search and replaced on it.  So this: became this, by changing […]
  • From my diary – yes, Ephraem Graecus and Phrantzolas etc
    A kind correspondent lent me the missing volume 2 of Phrantzolas today.  So I’ve been able to add the page numbers for the works in this volume into my XML file of works and editions. I’ve also just gone through the list of translations at Tikhon Alexander Pino’s excellent website, Saint Ephrem the Syrian: Translations from […]
  • From my diary – still more Phrantzolas and Ephraem Graecus
    I have now looked through all the volumes of the Phrantzolas edition of Ephraem Graecus, (except for volume 2 which I do not have), and added all the page numbers of the works, as printed in it, to the file of works and page numbers and editions that I am building up. Probably I shall have […]
  • From my diary
    On Saturday I was working on a text file containing the works of Ephraem Graecus, as they appear in the Phrantzolas edition, with CPG numbers and Assemani page numbers.  This proved much more difficult than I had at first thought, and I was reduced to opening the PDFs of the Greek text and looking at […]
  • From my diary – more Phrantzolas and Ephraem Graecus
    At the  moment I am plodding away through a tedious but necessary task. On the web here, there is a page which purports to be a list of all the works of Ephraem Graecus, as they appear in the seven volume Phrantzolas translation / edition.  It also links to a PDF with the ancient Greek […]
  • Ephraem Graecus and John Wesley
    The name of John Wesley is not well-remembered today; and indeed the same could be said of the organisation that he founded, the Methodist church.  Born and raised as an Anglican high churchman, he was converted and became one of the most important figures of the 18th century. Few will be aware that he refers […]
  • Ephraem Graecus: the Phrantzolas edition (part 5)
    Well, well.  At the start of volume 7 of the Phrantzolas edition of Ephraim Graecus, there is an additional introduction!  Let’s see what it says, shall we?  (Here are the pages – click to enlarge) Once again I have OCRd them, and run the result through Google Translate.  We get this: Αντί επιλόγου Μέ τόν […]
  • Ephraem Graecus: the Phrantzolas edition (part 4)
    I’m still looking at the Phrantzolas edition and (modern Greek) translation of “Ephraim Graecus”, the huge but neglected collection of texts in Greek attributed (mainly wrongly) to Ephraim Syrus in the manuscripts. I thought that I would OCR the prologue and introduction to volume 1, and run the result through Google translate, to see what […]
  • English translations of Ephraim Graecus!
    I had not realised earlier, but there are 27 works of Ephraim Graecus online in English!  Credit for this goes entirely to Tikhon Alexander Pino, a PhD candidate at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI.  The list of translations is at his Saint Ephrem blog, here. Around half of the translations are his.  The remainder were […]
  • The ‘genuine’ Ephraim Latinus : a survey
    There are a number of texts in the medieval Latin manuscripts which the copyist attributes to “Effrem” etc.  The Clavis Patrum Latinorum divides these into two groups; “Ephraem Latinus” and “Pseudo-Ephraem Latinus”. Neither has any connection with Ephraem the Syrian, of course.  The “genuine” Ephraim Latinus consists of texts which are translations into Latin of […]
  • Ephraem Graecus: the Phrantzolas edition (part 3)
    Phrantzolas is mentioned in Part 1 and part 2) A correspondent has discovered PDFs – or, rather, Djvu files – of a number of volumes of the Phrantzolas’ edition of Ephraem Graecus.  Unfortunately volume 2 is corrupt and will not open – does anyone have a copy of this? The edition prints a translation in modern […]
  • From my diary
    A couple of busy days.  A look in the spam folder – Akismet is behaving erratically these days – revealed a week old but deeply interesting comment on the Printing banned by Islam? post from 2009.  I ended up adding a long extra section to the post, full of material about early Ottoman firmans – […]
  • Two sensible tweets on Twitter, and some reflections on keeping politics out of your twitter feed
    This tweet appeared on Oct. 27: Biting my lip and stopping my finger from tweeting on a political tweet that has me itching to point out how wrong it is. However, is it helpful, edifying, done in love? No, I’m too emotionally invested to do so? Then I’ll shut my mouth unless/until I can. And […]
  • The medieval catalogue of the abbey of Lorsch now online!
    I discovered yesterday that there is a project to reconstitute online the scattered volumes of the library of the abbey of Lorsch in Germany, and that some of the books are now online.  This includes the lengthy 9th century list of books then in the library. Lorsch was founded during the Dark Ages, as part […]
  • Fragments of a 4th century manuscript of Cyprian’s Letters
    A tweet from the British Library medieval manuscripts account drew my attention to five damaged leaves in a British Library manuscript, Additional 40165 A.  They are portions of Cyprian’s Letters, letters 55, 74 and 79.  This is CLA II 178. What makes them exciting is the early date – 4th century, according to the BL twitter account […]
  • Did pseudo-Ephraim believe in the Rapture? Some notes on the manuscripts, the passage and its Greek origins
    There is a Latin text from the early Dark Ages which some believe teaches the “Rapture”; the idea that, before the Tribulation described in Revelation, the saints will all be caught up in the air by God and taken away. This claim has become a subject of controversy in the USA, as has the discussion […]
  • Hunting for the modern Greek translation of Ephraim Graecus
    After my post on Ephraim Graecus here, I discovered that a modern edition of the whole collection exists, with a translation of all the works into modern Greek. This is Φραντζοᾶς, Ὁσιοῦ Ἐφραίμ τοῦ Σύρου, Thessaloniki, 1988-98, 7 vols.  There is a website with a list of the contents by volume, and some mysterious-looking linked […]
  • From my diary
    It’s rare that I can mark my birthday, because it is in October.  Once the summer holidays are over, managers recruit contractors in September. So as a rule, I have just started a contract when my birthday comes round.  So, “big birthday” or not, it goes unmarked. However this year I am still at home, so I went […]
  • A big hole in Patristics – the neglect of Ephraim Graecus
    We all know that Christianity spread west into the Greek and Latin-speaking world.  It also spread east, into the Syriac-speaking world.  Most important of the Christian writers in Syriac is Ephraim of Nisibis, known generally as Ephraim the Syrian, or Ephrem/Effrem Syrus, who flourished in the mid-to-late 4th century and died in 373 AD.  He wrote […]
  • The limits of politics
    This afternoon I was talking to a lady friend, when discussion strayed to the US.  I quickly became aware of a froideur, of a certain lack of sympathy with the views I was expressing.  Politely I changed the subject. This evening I was reminded of a passage in Augustine Birrell’s essay on John Wesley, discussing […]
  • From my diary
    A couple of days ago I became aware of a sermon de fine mundi by pseudo-Ephraim, in Latin, which allegedly contains a reference to the Rapture.  This is when all Christians on earth are caught up to heaven before the Second Coming of Christ, at least according to some American Christians.  A draft translation of the […]
  • From my diary
    As the year grows older, bright warm days grow fewer, and more precious.  Fortunately this week we had two; yesterday and today.  I resolved to take a break from contract-hunting, and go somewhere.  After some thought, a trip to Cambridge beckoned. I started as I usually do, by visiting the University Library.  I dropped in during […]
  • A bibliography of the various collections of the Apothegmata Patrum (Sayings of the Fathers)
    The Apothegmata Patrum is a collection of around 2,500 sayings in total.  These are attributed in the manuscripts to one or another of the Desert Fathers; monks and hermits living in the Egyptian deserts from the mid-4th century onwards.  Originally passed from mouth to mouth, they were then gathered into small collections which appear in […]
  • Epiphanius on reading the scriptures? An item from the Apothegmata Patrum
    A quotation via Twitter: Reading the Scriptures is a great safeguard against sin…It is a great treachery to salvation to know nothing of the Divine Law…Ignorance of the Scriptures is a precipice and a deep abyss.” – Epiphanius of Salamis/Cyprus Very sound… but it doesn’t sound like Epiphanius.  It is, in fact, taken from the […]
  • That Museum in Washington
    Via here: Why the Museum of the Bible Angered So Many Academics Sept 14, 2018 Opened last fall and located not far from the National Mall in Washington, DC, the Museum of the Bible was a source of controversy even before it opened its doors, in part because of its founder, Steven Green, the president of […]
  • Literary sources for the hippodrome of Alexandria: the Lageion
    I thought that it would be interesting to discuss the literary sources for the horse-racing track in Alexandria, the hippodrome.  When the French scholars arrived with Napoleon, a Roman-style circus or chariot-racing track was still visible just behind the Serapeum.  The spina or central barrier showed that it was used for this purpose; the narrowness […]
  • View the Serapeum from above on Google Maps!
    The temple of Serapis stood on a raised area in ancient Alexandria.  It consisted of an enclosure with a colonnade all round, and the temple stood in the centre. Remarkably this arrangement can still be seen today in satellite photographs on Google Maps! The area to the north of the enclosure is a muslim cemetary, but […]
  • New edition and commentary of the Chronography of 354!
    The Chronography of 354 was a physical book, compiled for a late Roman nobleman and illustrated by a famous artist.  It contained 12 sections of practical information like calendars.  It also contained pictures of cities, and of Constantius and Gallus, “our emperors” – which the fall of Gallus later in the year must have made […]
  • Sayings of Luqman – translated by Anthony Alcock
    The sage Luqman appears in the Koran, but also in other sources, as the author of collections of wisdom.  Anthony Alcock has translated one of these collections from Arabic, which is very good news.  The content itself is highly readable, and it is very useful to have.  Here it is:  Luqman_Alcock_2018 (PDF) Thank you, Dr. A!
  • Does Victor of Vita quote from the Three Heavenly Witnesses?
    Victor of Vita lived in Roman Africa after its conquest by the Vandals.  The Vandals were Arians, and their kings persecuted the Catholic clergy.  In 484 Victor wrote an account of the persecutions, which has come down to us in a number of manuscripts.  These I list from C. Halms 1878 edition in the Monumenta […]
  • More on Project Hindsight
    Back in 2010-11, I became aware of Project Hindsight, a series of privately published English translations by Robert H. Schmidt of ancient astrological texts.  These are draft translations, coming out of the modern astrology community.  But it is unlikely that anybody will ever translate these highly technical texts, and copies are very hard to find. For some […]
  • Heliogabalus or Elagabalus?
    The third century Antonine emperor M. Aurelius Antoninus, also known as Varius Bassianus, is universally called “Elagabalus” in modern scholarly literature in English.  Yet 19th century literature calls him “Heliogabalus”, and I see that French literature is less inclined to Elagabalus than English.  So… why the change? The cause of the change appears to be the […]
  • A kind invitation; or a hard-faced attempt to loot?
    I get a lot of emails.  Most are very welcome.  But I’ve never had an email like the ones I received this morning. From: Ambrose Adriano Subject: Roger Pearse’s blog contact form: Interested in merging with Hey Roger, First of all, thank you for all the content you’ve done. I can only imagine […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 2 – part 2
    Continuing our translation.  More material summarised from the bible. 3. If someone objects that in the Torah it is written that the sons of Abraham – in another text: the sons of Israel – were slaves for four hundred years (11) and then asks why we say instead that they were slaves for two hundred […]
  • A new translation of Synesius’ “In praise of baldness” from Anthony Alcock
    Anthony Alcock has translated Synesius of Cyrene’s spoof Encomium of baldness  from Greek.  Synesius was a contemporary of Hypatia, and lived in the late 4th century. Here it is:  Synesius Encomium Calvitii_Alcock (PDF)
  • Two inscriptions from the library of Pantainos in the agora at Athens
    I’d never heard of the library of Pantainos in the marketplace in Athens, until I saw a very nice image on twitter today by Michael Lara: The stone is marble backed by concrete, and reads: No book is to be taken out because we have sworn an oath. (The library) is to be open from […]
  • What on earth is the “Hypomnesticon” of “Josephus Christianus”?
    While we were looking at the Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae of ps.Athanasius, there was a reference in Zahn’s article to “the strange book of Josephus Christianus”.  This is yet another obscure text, so I thought that I would gather what I could find here. This work is divided into 5 books and 167 chapters.  It has […]
  • Manuscripts of the Suda / Suidas
    I recently had reason to consult manuscripts of the 10th century Byzantine encyclopedia known as the Suda, and known in the past under the misleading title of “Suidas”.  This I did, but I realised that I did not actually know what the main mss of the Suda might be.  Some 80 manuscripts are listed at Pinakes, […]
  • What the heck is the “Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae” of ps.Athanasius??
    Enthusiasts for the authenticity of the “Three Heavenly Witnesses” passage in 1 John 5:7 are well aware that no Greek manuscript contains it.  But as I remarked in a previous post, they point to a work by Athanasius, the Synposis Scripturae Sacrae (“Summary of the Holy Scriptures”) as evidence that it was part of the text […]
  • The Manuscripts of Photius’ Epitome of the Church History of Philostorgius
    The Arian Philostorgius wrote his Church History in twelve books.  A copy came into the hands of the patriarch Photius in the 9th century, bound into two volumes, and he reviewed it in his Myriobiblion or Bibliotheca, as codex 40 (online in English here). But as the Myriobiblion went on, Photius returned to some of […]
  • The last oracle of Delphi
    The oracle of Apollo at Delphi was perhaps the most famous of the Greek oracles.  It was known throughout the Greek and Hellenistic world.  It continued to exist in Roman times, doubtless in a somewhat artificially preserved way.  But Apollo ceased to speak to men as Christianity took hold, just as the other oracles also fell silent. The […]
  • 1 John 5:7 in the fourth century? Theodore, Diodorus, the Suda, and Byzantine punctuation
    From 1 John chapter 5 (KJV): 6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the […]
  • My experience of real-time censorship on Twitter
    I had a very odd experience this week, while I was away in York, and since it seems to be little known, I thought I’d share it with you.  In brief, I encountered real-time interference with the tweeting process while I was on twitter. Over the last year or so Twitter has taken to interfering […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 2 – part 1
    Chapter 2 is another short chapter of material summarised from the bible. 1. After the death of Joseph, his brothers and all those of their generation, the Israelites became numerous and spread to such an extent that Egypt was full of them. Then there reigned over Egypt a king who did not know Joseph, who […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 3 – part 2 and final
    Eutychius continues summarising the Book of Judges.  Today… Gideon, Samson etc.  This material is of no special interest, except as showing what seemed interesting to include to the author.  3. Gid‘ūn, son of Yuwās, of the tribe of Manasseh came out against them, and took ten of his servants with him in the night, and destroyed […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 3 – part 1
    As we’re translating backwards, we now find ourselves at the start of chapter 3.  This is material from the biblical book of Judges. 1. Later the sons of Israel began to visit the surrounding nations, marrying and giving in marriage their daughters and worshiping the idols, i.e. Ba‘alīm (1), ‘Ashtārūt and Bā‘il.  The sons of Israel […]
  • Important items that are not online – Souter’s “Glossary of Later Latin”
    Long ago, probably in the 1990s, I purchased in Heffers in Cambridge a copy of Alexander Souter’s Glossary of Later Latin.  Today I had occasion to dig it out and use it. The original edition was printed in 1949, with a corrected edition in 1957.  Tiny print was used.  A scan would be very useful to those […]
  • Life of Aesop, translated by Anthony Alcock
    Anthony Alcock has deviated from his usual work in Syriac and Coptic to translate one of the ancient Lives of Aesop.  His full introduction explains which, and based on what manuscripts.  This work belongs to the genre of “sayings” or “wisdom” literature (gnomologia); but I presume might also relate to the genre of Saints’ lives. […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 4
    Chapter four is also derived from the Arabic bible. 1.  Then the priest ‘Ālī governed the people for twenty years.  The temple was located in Shīlūm (1).  The priest ‘Ālī had two sons.  The first was called Hufni and the second Finhās.  In his time there lived a prophet of ar-Rāmayyayn (2) named Hilqānā, son […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 5 – part 4 and final
    Let’s return to the “Annals” of Sa`id ibn Bitriq, Melkite Patriarch of Alexandria in the 10th century.  I’m reading the Italian translation using Google Translate, and thereby producing an English translation – the only one that exists.  The material in chapter 5 is mainly derived from the Arabic bible, so is of limited historical interest.  […]
  • The Studios monastery in Constantinople – lots of it still standing
    Today I came across a new Twitter feed, @ConstantineCity, publishing additions to, “Cataloging the remnants of Roman Constantinople in Istanbul”.  This is a great idea, which I wonder nobody has had before. The website doesn’t seem to have much on it, but the twitter feed does.  Here is a tweet on the Studios monastery: […]
  • Abraham the Syrian – Arabic text now translated by Anthony Alcock
    Dr Anthony Alcock kindly sent in this item today:  Abraham the Syrian_Alcock (PDF)
  • Hoaxed! “Dionysus, the son of the virgin, … His blood, the blood of the grape…”
    I got scammed today.  Doesn’t happen that often.  It was on twitter, and a very respectable person tweeted: From his blood, Dionysus created the first grapes and so the drinking of wine was the drinking of the God’s blood. It’s not the only parallel between Dionysus and later religious figures. Of course I was all […]
  • St George – the main post! What do we know about him, and how do we know it?
    Introduction to the St George material Study: Christopher Walter, The Warrior Saints in Byzantine Art and Tradition, Ashgate, 2003.  Google Books Preview here.  Essential reading. St George himself, whoever he was, even he even existed, has left no mark in the historical record.  There is not the slightest mention of such a figure prior to the […]
  • The importance of ignoring “nice to do” things
    Long ago, I was told that there are three categories of things that we do in this life: Things that we must do, or end up in real trouble.  Like paying your bills. Things that would be nice to get done.  Like tidying up your cupboard of computer stuff.  Nothing bad will happen if you […]
  • Texts of the “Life” of St George
    When I came to look at St George, my intention was to arrange for the translation of one or two versions of his Life.  What I had not anticipated was to find a mess, where there is still basic scholarly work to do in identifying and classifying versions of the Lives.  Originally I had hoped […]
  • Broken noses, crosses on the forehead – the fate of statues at the end of antiquity
    I saw today a truly remarkable statement which I thought that I would share with you. From the sixth century BC through the fourth century AD, sculpture had been created and destroyed, stolen and repositioned, but always prominently displayed and used in the context of Corinthian religion, economic activity, and urban life. Yet from about […]
  • A few more interesting links from my backlog
    Here are a few more stories that I saw over the last few weeks, and thought might be of general interest, some concerned with antiquity, others less so. Ps.Chrysostom, “De remissione peccatorum (CPG 4629)” – now edited with French translation Another tweet alerts me that Sergey Kim has put online at here a new […]
  • A papyrus of the lost Autobiography of Hadrian; and a papyrus of the lost History of Seneca the Elder
    The excellent Carole Raddato posted on her blog this image of a papyrus fragment.  It turns out to be a portion from the lost autobiography of Hadrian, which, it seems, was written in letter form.  The papyrus is from Oxyrhynchus (of course).  Here is a part of what she tells us: This papyrus (OIM E8349), […]
  • A manuscript of a regionary catalogue and a manuscript of the Notitia Dignitatum online!
    Update: I misread the announcement of that it contained the Notitia Dignitatum.  It does not.  Post amended! A few years ago I uploaded the Chronography of 354 AD to the web, and I included some of the regionary catalogues here as part 14, with notes by me; the lists of buildings, temples, etc in […]
  • Travel posters for Ruritania! Hurrah!
    The Ruritanian novel is a genre that is extinct, because it relies on a world-view likewise extinct today.  Both The Prisoner of Zenda and its unsatisfactory sequel, Rupert of Henzau, belong to the pre-WW1 era.  Winston S. Churchill attempted one, Savrola.  But the genre was already dying in the 1920s when Dorothy L. Sayers described […]
  • Debunking idiotic myths about Easter. No, it isn’t pagan. No the Easter bunny doesn’t signify anything
    At Easter every year the web witnesses an upsurge of smug howling of idiotic anti-Christian nonsense, about Easter, Ishtar, the Easter Bunny and heaven knows what.  Most of us ignore it for the rubbish it is. A couple of months ago I came across some extremely capable responses to this from a certain Adrian Bott, […]
  • Giuliano da Sangallo’s “book of designs”, and the Septizonium
    I was looking through the Vatican manuscript Barberini lat. 4424, the “book of designs” by Giulano da Sangallo (d.1516), and I found what seems like an old favourite – a drawing of the Septizonium, the now vanished facade that once stood at the end of the Via Appia to hide the Palatine.  The drawing is […]
  • Basil the Great’s condemnation of sodomy? Or Peter Damian? Or Fructuosus?
    In a tweet by Matthew Schmitz on Twitter I came across a striking quotation, attributed to Basil of Ancyra / Basil the Great.  Enquiry quickly showed that in fact it came from a work by medieval writer Peter Damian, complete with attribution to Basil. The publication I found was Peter Damian, Book of Gomorrah: An eleventh-century treatise against clerical […]
  • Origen, Homilies on Ezekiel – now available online
    I am delighted to announce that Origen’s Homilies on Ezekiel (Chieftain Publishing, 2014, edited by myself) are now freely available online.  This is, of course, Mischa Hooker’s excellent translation of the Latin, and his marvellous and comprehensive edition and translation of the fragments of the Greek.  It is the best version available anywhere. You can download […]
  • From my diary
    The weather here is incredibly hot and humid, which makes sitting in front of a computer less than attractive.  Thankfully this evening I’ve been able to do so with good effect.  My backlog of stuff to do has shrunk to around 45 items, which is a relief – it was around 150 when I finished […]
  • Gosh I shall drop everything and start at once – a reader’s letter
    I am fortunate to receive many interesting emails, which it is a privilege to read.  My spam filter defends me from many others.  But occasionally I receive an email that simply makes me rub my eyes in wonder. Such an email arrived on 24 July.  I will reproduce it for you, suppressing only the name. […]
  • Making a selection of interesting passages to translate from Eusebius’ Commentary on the Psalms
    I dislike translations of “selected passages”.  You always wonder what was in the missing bits.  On the other hand Eusebius’ Commentary on the Psalms is so immense that nobody has translated anything much of it.  Indeed Andrew Eastbourne’s translation of the portion on Ps.51/52 is pretty much all that anybody has done. I’ve been compiling […]
  • The very words in which Constantine ordered the bible to be assembled? The strange, odd Oahspe hoax.
    On Twitter today I came across some really rather unusual claims about Christian history.  These were advanced with the usual utter certainty that every crank seems to possess.  The author of these pronounced: This is what emperor Constantine said during the council of nicaea… “28/48.31.  Search these books, and whatever is good in them, retain: but […]
  • A false quotation of Augustine against the Jews
    A correspondent wrote to me some time back, asking: I’m currently translating John Gray’s booklet ‘Seven types of atheism’ into Dutch. On p. 17 Gray cites this line from Augustine’s ‘Pamflet against the Jews’: ‘The true image of the Hebrew is Judas Iscariot, who sells the Lord for silver. The Jews can never understand scripture, […]
  • The “Acts of Mark” and the “Martyrdom of Mark” – an unnecessary confusion
    There is a certain confusion in online resources between two late apocryphal texts, the so-called Acts of Mark and the Martyrdom of Mark; and that there is a connection from this material to a spurious Encomium in XII Apostolos attributed to Severian of Gabala. This I discovered in response to an enquiry about the Encomium; and then […]
  • A few months of interesting links
    For some months I’ve been collecting bits and pieces.  Mostly I have nothing much to add, but they shouldn’t be lost. Cool 9th century manuscript online as PDF Via Rick Brannan I learn that a downloadable PDF of the Greek-Latin St Gall 9th century manuscript of Paul’s letters is online and can be downloaded as a […]
  • From my diary
    This week I have been away for a few days, staying in the Hilton hotel in the lovely English city of York.  The hotel was very central, so I could walk everywhere and did.  Every street was unique, and all had some tea-shops, so walking was hardly arduous.  It seems like I have been away […]
  • A Nestorian Syriac account of the life of Nestorius – translated by Anthony Alcock
    In the late 19th century the Nestorians were still holed up in the mountains of what is today northern Iraq, and preserved a considerable amount of literature in Syriac giving their side of the dispute with Cyril of Alexandria that culminated in the Council of Ephesus in 433. Anthony Alcock has kindly translated an abbreviated […]
  • Sunday, the Sabbath, and ps.Athanasius’ De Sabbatis et Circumcisione
    The church does not celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday, but rather on Sunday, as we all know.  Those interested in why this is so collect patristic testimonia and among these are some attributed to Athanasius, from a work entitled On the Sabbaths and Circumcision.  For instance this website and this tell us: 345 AD. Athanasius: “The […]
  • From my diary
    Well here I am again.  A year ago I went off to start a contract in a town which I very much like, but involves a journey of 2-3 hours each way, and a round trip of 220 miles.  That was the last time that I had any substantial time off.  It’s been a long […]
  • An annotated translation of part of the Coptic Acts of the synod of Ephesus – by Anthony Alcock
    Now here is an interesting one!  Dr Alcock writes: I attach an annotated translation of the ‘fictional’ part of the Coptic acts of the Synod of Ephesus. I am currently preparing an annotated translation of a short Syriac text about Nestorius, which of course contains a different perspective (or ‘take’, as people say nowadays). Here […]
  • Should we build reproductions of now vanished buildings?
    The ancient city of Norwich in East Anglia is still surrounded by much of its medieval circuit of walls.  But the gatehouses are all gone.  They were thrown down in an outbreak of civic improvement in 1792, to improve access to the city and save money on repairs.  By that time they were all rather […]
  • From my diary
    A.J. Festugière, Sainte Thècle, saints Côme et Damien, saints Cyr et Jean (extraits), saint Georges. Traduits et annotés, Paris: Picard, 1971, arrived by ILL a week ago.  Something made me guess that it might contain French translations of some of the miracle stories printed by Aufhauser in S. Georgii Miracula, Teubner, 1913; and so it does!  In […]
  • A collection of sayings attributed to Ammonius/Amun
    Dr Anthony Alcock has translated for us all a collection of sayings, some Syriac, some Greek, which are attributed to St Ammonius, or Amun, a disciple of the desert father St Anthony.  These take the form of short anecdotes. It’s lovely to have these in English!  The PDF is here: syriac apophthegmata of amun-alcock (PDF)
  • 9th century ms of Chrysostom on Matthew for sale at Sothebys
    I learn from the Twitter feed of the excellent and erudite Pieter Bullens of a curious story.  One of the most important manuscripts of Chrysostom’s Homilies on Matthew, currently University Library, Basle, under the shelf-mark B. II. 25, is to be sold at Sothebys after a 38-year loan. The Sotheby’s catalogue contains a number of […]
  • Looking at Aufhauser’s 1913 “edition” of miracle-stories of St George
    A couple of years after his 1911 publication on the miracles of the Dragon and the Demon, Aufhauser went on to publish the text of 19 miracle stories or other pieces about St George, in the Teubner series in 1913.  (Online at here). The book contains text(s) taken from several manuscripts.  Unhappily these include the […]
  • From my diary
    So much is online these days, that I hardly use my local library any more.  Also I have rather more money than I did thirty years ago, and the temptation is strong to simply order any book that I want, and have it appear at my house – or my hotel room – the next […]
  • Do we really have a 4th century inscription from Sakkaia / Shaqqa dedicated to St George?
    If you want to know about the origins of St George, it isn’t very long before you hear that a church inscription in Syria exists, dedicated to St George, and dating from the 4th century AD.  The details are often a bit vague; but the site is the town of Shaqqa or Shakka, ancient Sakkaia […]
  • The Miracles of St Ptolemy – translated from Arabic by Anthony Alcock
    Dr Alcock has kindly translated another Eastern Christian text.  This one is a collection of miracles by St Ptolemy.  It’s here:  The miracles of St Ptolemy_Alcock_2018 (PDF) Thank you so much, Dr A.!
  • Help at last! A FREE database with all the references to the Saints and their cult before 700 AD!
    For the last few weeks I have been trying to find out about St George.  Starting from nothing, I want to know when the first mentions of him are, what literary texts are available, etc.  It’s been amazingly hard work, poring over century-old German monographs, the Acta Sanctorum, trying to find more recent works, and […]
  • The oldest dateable inscription mentioning St George
    The first evidence in the archaeology of St George is from a little church in Syria, in a town called Izra, or Izraa, or Ezra, or Ezraa, or Zorava, with the usual Semitic indifference to vowels, and the usual consequent confusion. Here is the relief, in a nice new modern photograph from here.  I spent […]
  • A fragment of a sermon by Peter I of Alexandria – by Anthony Alcock
    We don’t get a lot of new ante-Nicene material these days, which is why such a piece is very welcome.  Peter I of Alexandria was put to death in 311 AD in the persecution of Diocletian. This fragment of a sermon is preserved in Coptic.  Anthony Alcock has translated it, and here it is! Peter […]
  • Suddenly a light shines – something at last on the Martyrdom of St George!
    I’ve been trudging through Krumbacher and another heavy old German tome, running the text into English and looking for pointers to understand the mass of literature about the Passio or Martyrdom of St George.  While these give a great deal of detail, the beginner would often be grateful for a roadmap. Today, quite by accident, […]
  • Aufhauser’s discussion of some miracles of St George
    Update (1st June 2018): Since I wrote this post, I have become aware that there is no collection of miracle-stories about St George transmitted in the medieval manuscripts.  There are scattered stories in many manuscripts, some as late as 1878!  Aufhauser simply discusses some that were contained in one or another of the manuscripts that […]
  • The standard English “Life” of St George – by Jacobus de Voragine
    St George is one of only two medieval saints to make it through the reformation and still be celebrated in modern England; the other being St Nicholas, of course.  But few could name the sources for whatever legends are told. There seems little doubt that modern ideas about the saint derive from the 13th century […]
  • From my diary
    This time of year is always busy, isn’t it?  But I’ve still been looking into hagiographical texts.  A kind correspondent sent me a link to a mass of links to various editions of the Acta Sanctorum, which I must look at. Early in the week I was looking at various texts of the Life of […]
  • From my diary
    I have updated the Acta Sanctorum blog post with a load of links to the original edition.  I wasn’t able to locate all the volumes on Google Books – although I suspect that they are all there, but it’s a whole lot better than nothing. Another blasted cold has hit me – what a sickly […]
  • Chasing some fake news about the Gospel of Barnabas
    Weird websites can be a lot of fun!  Often they get hold of some obscure fact, which might pass us by.  It can be interesting to track it down.  I was reading Twitter earlier today and came across a series of tweets by an Islamic propagandist, one of which mentioned the Acta Sanctorum.  The page […]
  • A short Syriac legend on the Emperor Maurice – in English
    Anthony Alcock has emailed in an English translation of another Syriac text.  This one is a hagiographical text, perhaps of Nestorian origin, on the Emperor Maurice.  It’s here: The Emperor Maurice_Alcock_2018 (PDF) Thank you!
  • The Saints’ Lives of St George – texts and sources
    Today is St George’s Day, in England at least, and I found myself wondering what the literary sources were for his legend.  About all I know about him is the story of St George and the Dragon.  So I started looking for some kind of list of the hagiographical sources for his Vita or Saint’s […]
  • From my diary
    It’s all rather busy right now, as it always is for me in April. First, I’ve tried to enable “https” on the address.  It’s possible that this will cause something odd to happen.  Please let me know if it does. I’ve got hold of the Greek text of Severian of Gabala, De sigillis sermo (On […]
  • Nicholas of Myra, “Vita Compilata”, now available in English
    Another of the medieval “saints’ lives” of St Nicholas of Myra, the basis for our Santa Claus, is now accessible in English.  This is the so-called Vita Compilata, or “Compiled life”, (BHG 1348c,) put together from earlier hagiographical sources. A kind gentleman writing as Fr. Alban Justinus has translated it for us, from the Greek […]
  • Trial and Martyrdom of St Apollonius – by Anthony Alcock
    Dr Alcock has sent over a translation of two texts, one Greek, one Coptic, of the Trial and Acts of St. Apollonius.  I’m a bit pressed for time this evening so I will release it as is: Alcock_The trial and martyrdom of Apollonius (PDF) It is great to have these, though.  Thank you!
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 5 – part 3
    Eutychius continues with the reign of Solomon. 7. It is told that Hīram, king of Tire, was the first king to wear purple.  The cause of this was a shepherd who had a dog.  This shepherd went, one day, together with the flock and the dog, right onto the shore of the sea.  The dog took a […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 5 – part 2
    We’re in the Old Testament here.  Can you work out which familiar faces lie behind the Arabised names? 3. Then the king of Sūbā, called Hadad-‘Āzir, son of Rihūb (13), rose up against David, and waged war on him.  David confronted him and conquered him, killing seven thousand horsemen and twenty thousand infantrymen (14).  Then Sūris, king […]
  • The martyrdom of Theodore the Anatolian: a Bohairic Coptic text translated by Anthony Alcock
    Anthony Alcock has sent in another of his excellent translations from Coptic.  This time it is a hagiographical text, the Martyrdom of Theodore the Anatolian, or Oriental.  It is translated from a Bohairic Coptic text preserved in Codex Vaticanus 63 ff. 28-54.  The text was edited by I. Balestri and H. Hyvernat in the Acta Martyrum […]
  • Where to find remains of the Hippodrome seating today
    A few days ago I posted some photographs of the 1950 excavations of the Hippodrome in Istanbul here. Today I came across Eileen Stephenson’s Beginner’s Guide to the Hippdrome post, which includes photographs of various bits of the Hippodrome that I had not noticed on my own visit.  These include the seating that was excavated. […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve been mildly but definitely ill with the flu for more than three weeks now, and I am now convalescing.  I’ve taken advantage of my recovery to go through my backlog of blogging ideas, and turned them into posts.  The length of that list was rather daunting! I attempted to obtain access to a copy […]
  • Appealing for a photocopy – “The Hymns of Saint Hilary of Poitiers”, ed. Myers, 1928
    I wonder if any of my readers have access to the following book: The hymns of Saint Hilary of Poitiers in the Codex Aretinus; an edition, with introduction, translation and notes, W.N.Myers, Philadelphia, 1928.  It’s 82 pages long. Worldcat gives a long list of US universities that hold this volume.  So it’s not that rare.  […]
  • A genuine quote by Plato
    Another quotation that I have come across is the following, attributed to Plato: Who are the true philosophers? Those whose passion is to see the truth. or: Who are the true philosophers? Those whose passion is to love the truth. It sounds a bit cute, doesn’t it?  We have so many bogus quotes online.  But […]
  • A few interesting items
    Here are three items that might be of interest.  I had intended to blog about these, but they have sat in my inbox for more than six months, so clearly I never will.  So I thought I’d post a quick note about them. Firstly, how many people know that there is an 1885 volumes, China […]
  • A dubious quote about devotion to Mary, attributed to Hilary of Poitiers
    Some time ago I came across a rather odd quotation here. No matter how sinful one may have been, if he has devotion to Mary, it is impossible that he be lost. – St Hilary of Poitiers. Now that sounds like a very modern Roman Catholic position, rather than anything ancient. But did Hilary say […]
  • Eutychius and the English Civil War
    The Annals of the 10th century Arabic Christian writer Eutychius, also known as Sa`id ibn Bitriq, were printed for the first time, together with a Latin translation, during that curious period of history, the 1650s.  Charles I was dead, and the revolution had devolved into government by the army and the protector, Oliver Cromwell. Fanaticism […]
  • A June 1935 photograph of the Sphendone in Istanbul
    Tourists who visit the Hippodrome in Istanbul are usually unaware that the far end is in fact supported by Byzantine masonry, as the land falls away on that side.  The construction is called the sphendone.  These days a Turkish official building sits on top of it. Here’s a particularly nice photograph of the sphendone, as […]
  • Photos of archaeological work in the Hippodrome in Istanbul
    A couple of photographs appeared on Twitter last year, from the @ByzantineLegacy account, of the 1950 excavations of the Hippodrome in Istanbul undertaken by Rüstem Duyuran.  Here’s the first: That looks like some of the seating, today invisible, to my ignorant eyes. This seems to be from the account of @Seda_Ozen, who also published two […]
  • Mithras in Greece – some new locations
    An article online by Michael Petropoulos, “Roman interventions in the city-plan of Patras”,[refP.65, online here.[/ref], contains a paragraph about Mithras.  This I found by googling for “Μίθρα”.  The article is in Greek, but thanks to the miracle of Google Translate, we can get an idea of its contents: Μία ακόμη ανατολική λατρεία, αυτή του Μίθρα, […]
  • A couple more “gentleman’s translations”
    A kind correspondent writes: I’ve found another couple gentleman’s translations, these ones of patristic Greek poetry. The first is properly a lady’s translation: in 1842, Elizabeth Barret Browning submitted some verse translations, interspersed with thoughtful analysis, of the Greek fathers for publication in the Athenaeum. (As a child she had studied Greek patristics in the […]
  • An old photograph of the Meta Sudans from the Palatine (plus the Colosseum and Arch of Constantine)
    The “Meta Sudans” was a fountain that stood next to the Colosseum.  The remains of the core were demolished by Mussolini in the 1930s, so there are quite a few photographs around.  Every so often I come across another. Here’s one that I found on Twitter, published on 11 Jan 2018.  It is unusual, because […]
  • A comparison in tabular form of various translations of Josephus on the Jotapata incident
    A gentleman named David Blocker has made a comparison of the English translations of the passage in Josephus Jewish War where he describes the episode at Jotapata.  Very kindly he has allowed this to appear here:  Table_Josephus Water Trick Comparison (PDF) He writes: [This is a] tabular comparison of different translations of Jotapata episode from Jewish […]
  • Firmicus Maternus, On the Error of Pagan Religions – now online in English
    Firmicus Maternus, De errore profanum religionum, is a very interesting late Roman text on paganism from the mid-4th century.  Unfortunately it has never been online. A correspondent kindly lets me know that a PDF containing a 1971 thesis with a full translation can be found here (PDF here): Richard E. Oster, Julius Firmicus Maternus: De errore profanum […]
  • Theodoret on Deuteronomy, from “A word in season” by the Augustinian Press
    Church lectionaries sometimes contain English translations of chunks of the fathers.  I came across this one on Facebook here. Tuesday after Septuagesima: A READING FROM QUESTIONS ON DEUTERONOMY BY THEODORET OF CYRRHUS After the Lord God had brought the people out of Egypt, he gave them, on Mount Sinai, the Law that was to govern […]
  • From my diary
    I noted yesterday that my posts no longer appeared in Twitter.  Today I noticed that the sharing buttons had vanished from my posts as well.  Sigh.  It’s all down to WordPress Jetpack, which kindly disabled this functionality without telling me. Let’s see if I have managed to reenable it….  Hmm….
  • The buried west gate of Roman Lindum (Lincoln)
    The ancient city of Lincoln is well-known as a Roman city, Lindum.  But an interesting discovery was made in 1836 by a rascally inn-keeper, who was burrowing away at the castle mound, trying to expand his premises.  He came across the Roman west gate. Not the foundations.  The whole gatehouse had been buried when the […]
  • A post on the death of the blogosphere
    I came to blogging comparatively late, and I was never one of the “cool kids” anyway.  But here I am still, while the grandly named “blogosphere” has passed into history. Recently I came across an article on Legal Insurrection entitled Surviving the death of the blogosphere: I read two very interesting posts recently on the […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 5 – part 1
    Let’s continue with translating the “Annals” of Sa`id ibn Bitriq, the Melkite patriarch of Alexandria in the 10th century. 1. After him reigned David, son of Yassà.  From the departure of the sons of Israel from Egypt to the kingdom of David there had passed 606 years; from Abraham to the kingdom of David, 1,113 years; from Fāliq […]
  • Trying to find a picture of the “Cista mystica” of M. Modius Maxximus from Ostia
    In my previous post, I put up a picture of a vessel, a cista or modius, surmounted by a cock, which belonged to the High Eunuch (archigallus) of Cybele at Ostia, M. Modius Maxximus.  In fact there is a pun here; the Latin for a cock is a gallus, which is depicted on top of a […]
  • Canna intrat: “Finding the infant Attis among the reeds”?
    An interesting claim on twitter a few days ago began: On this date in ancient Rome, the annual Festival of Attis and Cybele began with a procession of reed-bearers to commemorate the finding of the infant Attis among the reeds. This instantly suggested a parallel with the baby Moses to me; and hence, the fear […]
  • A new edition and translation of Hyginus, De munitionibus castrorum
    An email from the editor, Duncan B. Campbell, tells me of a new edition, with facing translation, of an unusual text: ps.Hyginus, On fortifying a Roman camp (Liber de munitionibus castrorum).  He has self-published this, and it is available in eBook form for a trivial price through Amazon here ( here). I must say when […]
  • New at a revised Zosimus translation
    Zosimus, “Count of the fisc” in the 6th century, wrote an oddball history in 6 books, which only just reached us.  It was an oddball text because Zosimus was a pagan, and blamed Constantine for everything.  Although he wrote around 550, he had access to lost sources, which make him our only source for events […]
  • Notes and news
    Here are a few items that I learned about over the last couple of weeks.  De Gruyter have published an edition of the fragments of the Ecclesiastical History of Gelasius of Caesarea, ed. Martin Wallraff &c, with a translation by Nicholas Marinides.  The De Gruyter item is here.  A “teaser” extract is now available on the translators […]
  • Some more notes on the Archko volume
    Fake gospels have been composed continuously from the second century until our own times.  The object is either to convert Christians to something else, or to make money off them. One interesting example, which I have discussed before, is the Archko Volume, a collection of “ancient documents” corroborating the events of the New Testament, but in […]
  • Please don’t contribute to Wikipedia
    Another day, and another example of some quite interesting research which some intelligent person has inserted into a Wikipedia article.  I can only sigh. Wikipedia is an example of the centralising trend of the internet, placing control in the hands of a handful of very rich men or companies.  All of them are of one […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve received the final chunk of the Vita Compilata of St Nicholas of Myra.  There are only a couple of queries, which I have sent over to the translator.  He is currently busy with the Eastern Orthodox season of Lent; but when I get them back, I will go through the whole text, revise it, and […]
  • Syriac Life of Shenoute, by Anthony Alcock
    Anthony Alcock has emailed another text for which he has made an English translation.  This time it is the Syriac version of the Life of Shenoute.  It’s here: The Syriac Epitome of Shenoute’s Life_alcock_2018 (PDF) As ever, it is great to have this. Thank you!
  • From my diary
    This morning I  have received another chunk of the translation of the Vita Compilata of St Nicholas of Myra.  This is going well, and the end is not so far distant now. I’ve not been able to blog at all lately.  But I have a nice backlog of blog article ideas to work on when […]
  • Two more items from Anthony Alcock
    Dr Alcock has kindly sent over two new translations in the last week.  I am too busy to do them justice, but I am glad to make them available here: Bardaisan Laws of Countries_Alcock_2018 (PDF) – Translation from the French of Bardaisan’s Book of the Laws of the Countries.  Frumentius, Athanasius and Constantius_Alcock_2018 (PDF) – Two letters about […]
  • Microsoft does not believe that Microsoft has a future?
    Two events in the last week have convinced me that the management of Microsoft does not believe that their company has a future.  The management are, it seems, the sort of grey people who took over Apple, expelled Steve Jobs, and ran the company into the ground. The first event took place at my PC in my workplace, […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 6 – part 2 and final
    Well this hasn’t happened for a while!  But somehow I have just translated the entire remainder of the chapter of Eutychius’ Annals.  Not bad considering that I only set out to do a couple of sections at the end of a long week at work! The material in this chapter is from the Old Testament.  But […]
  • – fraudulent use by cybersquatter
    Just to warn everyone – my site is, not  I used to hold the latter domain name, but I let it lapse last year. Now I discover that some sleazeball has registered the address for a year (carefully concealing his name), created a website on that address, in blog format, and, two days […]
  • Josephus in the hands of Sir Roger L’Estrange
    Sir Roger L’Estrange is probably mainly remembered today for his activities as a journalist and violent pamphleteer for the court during the reign of Charles II.  As with others of Charles’ partisans, there was a strong element of ingratitude in all this.  L’Estrange had fought for Charles I in the civil war, but had received a pardon in 1653 from Oliver Cromwell, after which […]
  • Ps.Chrysostom, De Susanna Sermo – Coptic version translated by Anthony Alcock
    Anthony Alcock continues to turn Coptic texts into English.  His latest contribution to us all is a translation of the Coptic version of pseudo-Chrysostom, De Susanna Sermo, a homily on the apocryphal book of Susanna: alcock-ps-chrysostom-de-susanna-2018 (PDF) For comparison, a draft translation of the original Greek text (PG 56: 589-594, CPG 4567) by “K.P.” is online at Academic here. Both […]
  • From my diary
    The coughs and colds and tummy bugs of winter have arrived, and I’ve had other things on my mind for the last three weeks.  But there are a few updates. I’ve been updating my Mithras site with a few extra photographs found online.  Every so often I see one, sometimes on Twitter, and track down the […]
  • Update on my book, Origen’s Homilies on Ezekiel
    Long term readers may remember that, back in 2014, my company published a rather splendid item in book form, Mischa Hooker’s marvellous translation of Origen’s Homilies on Ezekiel, including the catena fragments, with facing Greek text; some 700+ pages of it.  This was the second volume in the Ancient Texts in Translation series, from Chieftain Publishing.  The […]
  • The “Christianos” graffito from Pompeii
    The buried Roman city of Pompeii was rediscovered in 1748, and excavations for antiquities have continued ever since.  Modern archaeological methods only originate around 1880 with Flinders Petrie in Egypt; so a great deal of work was done under conditions that all of us today would lament.  Sometimes this means that we cannot be certain […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 6 – part 1
    Let’s return to translating the history composed in Arabic in the 10th century AD by Eutychius, or Sa`id ibn Bitriq, the Melkite Patriarch of Alexandria.  Last time we finished off chapter 7.  I seem to be working backwards through the intensely tedious rewriting of Old Testament narratives; because the further we go back, the less […]
  • The “Apotelesmata” of Apollonius of Tyana – now online in English
    Anthony Alcock has sent in a translation of a curious anonymous Greek text in 8 chapters, concerning the Apotelemata (Talismans) of Apollonius of Tyana.  The content is astrological, concerned with names and words. The work appears in medieval Greek astrological manuscripts, but also in a Syriac version as an appendix to the gnostic apocryphal Testament of Adam, itself […]
  • From my diary
    This Christmas break has been very welcome after a period of six months in which I was away from home, Monday to Friday, every week.  I’ve not done much with it, beyond a few essential professional chores which come with the end of the year.  Indeed no sooner was I home than I went down […]
  • Merry Christmas
    I would like to wish all my readers a very happy Christmas!
  • When “it was no longer possible to become a saint”; Byzantium in the 11th century
    A curious claim met my eyes recently, in the Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography, vol. 1.  On p.148, as part of Symeon A. Paschalidis “The Hagiography of the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries”, we read the following words (overparagraphed by me): An important catalyst in the decline of hagiographic production in the eleventh century… was the […]
  • John the Lydian, “On the Roman months” – version 2.0 now online!
    Regular readers may recall that Mischa Hooker translated John the Lydian’s four books On the Months for us all a year or two back.  The fourth book has 12 sections, one for each month, and we also did the other three books.  It’s a mass of 6th century antiquarianism, as the author tries to hold on to […]
  • The amazing drawings of Constantinople by Antoine Helbert
    Today I came across a series of drawings of Byzantium which were all made by French artist Antoine Helbert.  They may be found here. The one that caught my attention was this one, showing columns with the statues of emperors atop them, in the Augustaion outside Hagia Sophia. It gives a very nice context to […]
  • Brockelmann’s GAL translated into English??
    Anybody who wants to know anything about Arabic literature must rely on the seven-volume textbook by Carl Brockelmann, Geschichte der Arabischen Litteratur.  The work lists the authors and their works from the beginning in the 6th century down to modern times, with a bibliography for each.  Unfortunately the work is a complete mess, with inscrutable […]
  • Universities Spend Millions on Accessing Results of Publicly Funded Research
    Mark C. Wilson, a senior lecturer at Department of Computer Science, University of Auckland, writing for The Conversation (h/t Slashdot): University research is generally funded from the public purse. The results, however, are published in peer-reviewed academic journals, many of which charge subscription fees. I had to use freedom of information laws to determine how […]
  • Zacharias Scholasticus, “Life of Isaiah the Monk”, now online in English
    Anthony Alcock has emailed me a new translation of his.  This time it is a piece from the early 6th century by Zacharias Scholasticus, the Life of Isaiah the Monk, of Scetis in Egypt. Here it is:  Alcock-Isaiah the Monk-2017 (PDF) Thank you very much for doing this for us all!
  • The final hagiographer: Michael Psellus on Symeon Metaphrastes
    Writing lives of the saints was something that everybody did in the Greek empire from 400 to about 1000.  After that people stopped writing new lives, or not in the same way.  But up to that point these lives were written by people of all stations.  The forms of Greek used reflect that ordinary people […]
  • A translation of Basil the Great’s commentary on Isaiah is online!
    A kind correspondent drew my attention to the fact that there is an English translation of Basil the Great’s Commentary on Isaiah accessible on here.  This is the page of the translator, Nikolai Lipatov.  Grab your copy now!
  • The differences between Menologion, Menaion, and Synaxarion
    There are various medieval lives of St Nicholas of Myra.  The Greek texts were collected by G. Anrich in Hagios Nikolaos, which is still useful today.  One of the sections of this book (section VIII) is devoted to “Synaxarientexte” – texts from various types of synaxarion.  I placed online a translation of this material a […]
  • Anthony Alcock on Ptolemy and the LXX in Agapius
    An interesting article from Anthony Alcock, translating the passage in the 10th century Arabic Christian historian Agapius which describes the creation of the Septuagint under Ptolemy.  It’s here:  Alcock_Ptolemy and the Septuagint in Agapius_2017 (PDF) Thank you, Dr Alcock!
  • Origen, Commentary on Matthew, book 16 now online and in English
    A kind message informs me that David Gohl’s translation of the remaining books of Origen’s Commentary on Matthew (which I discussed here) has now reached book 16.  He has translated this, and uploaded it for comment to here. Excellent news!  Grab your copy while it’s hot!
  • From my diary
    The leaves are falling, the dark days are beginning, the pre-Christmas rush at work is underway, and winter colds are starting to appear.  I’ve been unable to progress any of my projects.  Indeed I am only able to blog today because of a cold which has prevented me working, and, of course, from doing much […]
  • St Nicholas of Myra in the Greek Synaxarium – now online in English
    Christmas is coming, and, as it happens, I have a new translation for you.  This is another piece of the medieval St Nicholas of Myra material, all edited by G. Anrich in Hagios Nikolaos back in 1902. In the Greek orthodox church, various days are marked as saints’ days, and a short life of the […]
  • A further reference to the “parabalani”?
    As I wrote a week ago, there are only three ancient references to the “parabalani”.  These were a group of men under the control of the patriarch of Alexandria in the 5th century AD, first under Cyril of Alexandria, and then under his successor, Dioscorus.  They appear in 416 and 418 AD in the Theodosian […]
  • Eusebius of Caesarea, Commentary on Luke – now online in English
    Alex Poulos of the Catholic University of America has kindly translated for us the text of Eusebius of Caesarea’s Commentary on Luke.  Here it is: Eusebius-Commentary_on_Luke-2017 (PDF)  Eusebius-Commentary_on_Luke-2017 (Word .docx) I have also added it to here.  As ever, I place these in the public domain.  Use them in any way you like. The “work” itself […]
  • Online edition and Russian translation of Severian of Gabala, In illud: Secundum imaginem et similitudinem (Gen. 1, 26), CPG 4234
    Russian scholar Sergey Kim has made a critical edition and Russian translation of Severian of Gabala’s In illud: Secundum imaginem et similitudinem (Gen. 1, 26), CPG 4234, “In the image and likeness (of God)”.  It’s a pity that this isn’t in a more mainstream language, but one can hardly complain that a Russian scholar writes in […]
  • “Parabalani” – an early order of male nurses? or Cyril’s “goon squad”?
    The Watts book, City and School in late antique Athens and Alexandria, continues to offer interesting passages.  It’s a book to be read for the text, rather than the footnotes, although there are plenty of these. We take up the story in Alexandria, after the murder of Hypatia in 415 by a gang of thugs […]
  • Hello Windows 7 my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again
    Yesterday I wrote about my frustration with Windows 10.  Twice in the last few weeks, I have brought my laptop to my hotel room, in order to do a few items for an hour; and then been prevented from doing so, by an unwanted and unstoppable “upgrade” which locked out the machine all evening.  I update […]
  • Raging against the … Windows?
    This evening I’m in a hotel, as so often.  I turned on my travelling laptop.  I wanted to download Edward J. Watts, City and School in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria, from, in order to OCR it and make the PDF searchable. But something was wrong.  The machine kept stuttering.  Eventually I got the file; […]
  • Fun with footnotes again – a sentence suggesting Christian villainy, and the text of the reference
    Yesterday’s post, investigating a paragraph on Dirk Rohmann’s book, drew some comment on the last sentence: In John [Chrysostom]’s metaphorical words, the apostles have “gagged the tongues of the philosophers and stitched shut the mouths of the rhetoricians.” This passage echoes a similar statement in an unpublished manuscript (attributed to John) which asserts that “the […]
  • From my diary
    Earning a living is consuming all my time at the moment, so blogging is slow.  But a couple of things are going on. Good news: I have started a new commission, this time for a translation of another Byzantine vita of St Nicholas of Myra.  I have hopes that this will be out by Christmas.  The translator […]
  • Fun with footnotes – the Laudatio Apostolorum of ps.Chrysostom
    I do enjoy looking into footnotes.  I’ve been looking into another couple on a passage in Dirk Rohmann’s book, which we encountered a few days ago.  (I’m ignoring footnotes that I’m not looking at; but giving the context). In John [Chrysostom]’s metaphorical words, the apostles have “gagged the tongues of the philosophers and stitched shut the […]
  • Another Coptic text from Anthony Alcock – the martyrdom of Apatil
    It’s here: Alcock-The Martyrdom of Apatil-2017 (PDF)
  • Some photographs of seats in the Hippodrome of Istanbul from 1950
    The Hippodrome of Constantinople remains a splendid place, even in modern Istanbul.  But I was unaware that in 1950 a Turkish archaeologist excavated on the west side of the hippodrome, and uncovered some of the seats.  This week I came across some photographs from the excavations online, here, here and here.  So I thought that […]
  • Hunting the wild misquotation again: the perils for the author of not verifying your quotations
    A week or so ago I saw on Twitter a quotation attributed to John Chrysostom, which read as follows: Chrysostom liked to gloat that the apostles had gagged the tongues of the philosophers and stitched shut the mouths of the rhetoricians. The author of the tweet was a certain Catherine Nixey, who is an arts journalist for the […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 7 and final
    Let’s do a bit more of Eutychius, just to keep in touch with it.  The scene begins at the funeral of Alexander the Great, most of which is fiction, and then proceeds down the list of the Ptolemaic kings. 18. When the philosophers had finished speaking, the wife of Alexander, Rushtak, daughter of Dāriyūsh, king of the […]
  • 1918 aerial photograph of the Colosseum, Meta Sudans and base of the Colossus
    The tireless Italian site Roma Ieri Oggi has found yet more vintage photographs of the eternal city.  They are all worth looking at!  This batch are all from the air, and were taken in 1918.  Apparently they are part of an album which an admiral named Thaon di Revel left to the Museo del Risorgimento […]
  • Cambridge Ancient History (3rd edition) now online at
    A delightful discovery this week.  Cambridge University Press have released the 3rd edition of the Cambridge Ancient  History online at!  All 19 volumes!  It’s here. Those red-clad volumes were £40 each back in 1979.  I used to save up birthday money to buy a volume.  I still have them.  They were never as exciting […]
  • Rome, 1868: the Arch of Drusus, defended by Bourbon soldiers!
    Occasionally you see something online that really makes your eyes open.  This happened to me some time back, when I came across the following photographs on the excellent Roma Ieri Oggi website.  They depict the so-called Arch of Drusus, which stands just inside the massive Porto San Sebastiano in Rome. This is simply amazing.  We […]
  • The only surviving handwriting of an emperor: Theodosius II and a petition from Aswan
    How many of us know that there is a papyrus with the handwriting of a Roman emperor on it?  I certainly did not, until I learned of it from a tweet by Richard Flower.  But so it is. The papyrus comes from Elephantine in Egypt, the island of Philae, opposite the modern town of Aswan, which is […]
  • Did Origen record the burning of Marcionite literature?
    Academic books have many failings, but usually we can rely on them for certain things.  In particular, if an author says that an ancient source says X, and gives a footnote and a quote, then we can be pretty sure that it does indeed contain those words, or something very much like it.  The readers […]
  • A 1574 set of drawings from Constantinople in the Freshfield album
    One of the great delights of our day is the digitisation of manuscript collections.  This brings to light treasures hardly seen before. Trinity College Cambridge are the possessors of a collection of 20 colour drawings of monuments in Constantinople, made in 1574 by an unknown artist.  This item, known as the Freshfield album, came into […]
  • Anthony Alcock, “The concept of our great power” – online in English
    Dr Alcock has translated one of the Nag Hammadi gnostic texts, and annotated it for use by students.  It’s here:  Alcock_The Concept of Our Great Power_2017 (PDF) Thank you very much!
  • “Persia and the Bible” … and Mithras?
    Review: E. Yamauchi, Persia and the Bible, Baker publishing (1990).  Paperback ISBN: 9780801021084. Available from: Dr Yamauchi attended the second conference on Mithras studies in Tehran, back in the 1970s.  Coming across my pages on Mithras, which referenced a couple of his papers, he kindly sent me a copy of this 1990 volume which includes a […]
  • Book review: Anthony Kaldellis’ “A cabinet of Byzantine curiosities”
    Anthony Kaldellis, A cabinet of Byzantine curiosities: strange tales and surprising facts from history’s most orthodox empire, Oxford University Press (2017). Available from:; Oxford University Press (USA) emailed and asked me to review this little volume.  I agreed at once.  We need more easy-to-read collections of anecdotes and wit from antiquity, and something of […]
  • The tomb of St Nicholas of Myra?
    Turkish archaeologists have used ground-penetrating equipment and discovered the shrine of St Nicholas of Myra underneath the church of St Nicholas in Demre, ancient Myra, according to the Daily Telegraph.  The report seems rather sketchy, and the claims likewise.  They are also claiming that the bones of St Nicholas, supposed now to be in Bari, […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve been looking some more at Byzantine science.  My original intention was to write a series of posts on each area of science.  But I’m finding that in fact I don’t know enough about the subjects to do so.  In particular knowledge of Byzantine mathematics and astronomy seems to require more knowledge of the works […]
  • The log book of Inspector Merer from Wadi al Jarf and the pyramid of Cheops / Khufu
    So now we know how the stones were transported to build the pyramids of Egypt!!  They were moved by boat.  We know now this, thanks to a discovery in 2013 of a papyrus, in some boat storage caves on the Red Sea.  The find has caused a bunch of picture stories online this summer, such […]
  • Byzantine science – Zoology
    Timotheus of Gaza.  A grammarian who lived in the reign of Anastasius at the end of the 5th century.  He was a student of the Egyptian philosopher Horapollo (so the Cyrillus Lexicon).  Tzetzes (Historiae 4.166- 69) remarks that Timotheos, along with Aelian and Oppian, represents the best zoology.  The Suda (T 621) describes him thus: […]
  • Byzantine science: where to start and where to look
    Where do we start, if we want to know about Byzantine science?  Well, you start here! The history of science in the Byzantine empire is a neglected field of investigation, even more so than the same subject in the ancient world. It has suffered because few scholars with the language skills also possess an understanding […]
  • Byzantine science – Botany
    Here are some notes on sources for Byzantine Science; in this case botany. Botany was not a subject of real interest to the Byzantines.  The Byzantine interest in plants was entirely practical. As such they compiled lists of plants useful for medicine – materia medica -, or for magical use. They are also noted for […]
  • A forgotten scholar: the grammarian Peter Egenolff (1851-1901)
    Bibliography is a perilous trade.  Let a man once follow a footnote, and he may find his hours and days consumed in searching for he knows not what – and wishes he did! Today I made the acquaintance of a scholar who, as far as I can tell, is scarcely remembered.  I first encountered him in […]
  • Why have less than 5% of Byzantine scientific works been published?
    A few days ago, I noted that only 5% of all Byzantine scientific works have managed to make it out of the medieval manuscripts and into a printed edition of some sort.  For translations the figure is worse still.  The figure is an estimate by Byzantinist Maria Mavroudi, who works with the subject and certainly […]
  • A portrait of Constantius II from 354, via two intermediaries
    As manuscripts of the Vatican come online, it becomes possible to look at items previously known to us only from poor-quality photographs.  This is a good thing. Years ago I made an online edition of the Chronography of 354, an illustrated luxury manuscript made for a Roman aristocrat in 354 AD, and transmitted to us […]
  • Less than 5% of Byzantine scientific texts have been published?
    Today I came across a statistic which really shocked me.  It seems that less than 5% of Byzantine “scientific texts” have been printed, never mind translated. The phrase “scientific texts” would include technical texts which give practical instruction, but also the philosophical texts that discuss what would today be scientific theories.  It would be interesting to know how […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 6
    Let’s translate a bit more of the work of the Arabic Christian writer, Sa`id ibn Bitriq, also known as Eutychius.  The last section dealt with the reign of Alexander the Great, and his death and burial by his minister “Filimun”.  For the funeral, Eutychius now introduces material from the “Sayings” literature.  So this chapter is fiction. […]
  • A few descriptions of Constantinople in the 15th century, none accessible to us
    The fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the Ottoman Turks drew a line under the history of the eastern Roman empire.  The buildings and monuments of the city, already badly damaged by time and the Latin occupation of 1204, now suffered the fate of being irrelevant and inconvenient to the city rulers, and much was […]
  • Did Alfred the Great invent the story of Caesar invading Britain?
    Apparently so, according to this Danish site (Aug 16, 2017, written by Ben Hamilton): Caesar conquering Britain a 9th century invention by Alfred the Great: Saxon king fabricated 54 BC invasion to replace Viking-friendly heir and protect England from the Danes He came … He saw … but He tampered As you do. This story […]
  • “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit” – an ancient Greek proverb?
    This week I came across a saying online: A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. This, we are told, is a Greek proverb. The sentiment is unexceptionable, but readers of this site do not believe attributions without evidence.  Is this truly ancient?  If so, […]
  • English translation of Fortunatianus of Aquileia’s Commentary on the Gospels is online at De Gruyter!
    Back in 2014, I learned that the lost 4th century Latin commentary on the Gospels by Fortunatianus of Aquileia had been rediscovered by Lukas J. Dorfbauer!  This was very wonderful news, and I wrote about it here.  The exegesis follows the allegorical model common in Alexandria, rather than the more literalist format of Antioch. A couple […]
  • A marvellous photograph of the remains of the Quirinal temple staircase in 1930
    The massive temple on the Quirinal hill in Rome is now gone, but substantial remains still exist of the twin brick staircases, and the stair-well, down the hill.  Unfortunately they stand in the gardens of the Colonna palace, which is not very accessible; and on the other side is the Gregorian University. However the Gregorian University […]
  • A renaissance engraver: some notes on G. da Sangallo and the Quirinal temple
    A kind correspondent (R. Fassaert) has sent me an image of one of the plates in the new Atlas of Ancient Rome, featuring the huge temple on the Quirinal Hill in Rome, about which I have written a series of posts.  The temple was thought to be Aurelian’s Temple of the Sun; then a Hadrianic Temple of […]
  • A fake item on eBay
    There are many antiquities for sale on eBay.  But it is very much “buyer beware”.  One item caught my eye a couple of weeks ago: “ROMAN Ancient Artifact BRONZE PLATE with INSCRIPTION Circa 200-400 AD -4234″… “Circa 200-400 AD. WEIGHT:23.3 g. A Certificate of Authenticity will be issued on request but it will cost extra. […]
  • From my diary
    There’s no news on any of my projects.  I’m still busy earning a living, and I have had no time or energy to do anything else. A copy of Sevcenko’s edition and translation of The Life of St Nicholas of Sion has reached me.  It made interesting reading, as clearly the cult of Nicholas of Myra […]
  • A rather useful plan of the Quirinal temple
    A correspondent, Rene Fassaert, has directed my attention to a 1910 two-volume item Monuments Antiques, which contains some architectural materials for ancient Greece and Rome.  It’s online in very high resolution at the University of Texas here. On p.172 of the second volume (p.77 of the PDF), there is a splendid plan of the massive […]
  • From my diary
    I’m busy earning a living at the moment, so I can’t really pursue any of my projects.  Instead I’ve been using Google in odd moments to locate nice pictures of Rome and the Quirinal.  I hope to go out there in October.  Eutychius and my other interests will just have to wait until I have […]
  • Another marvel through Google maps – the South Arcade of the Quirinal stairway!
    After posting my last, I went back and played a bit more with Google maps on the Quirinal hill.  And I found … something marvellous!  Here it is: This is part of the arcades of the Southern wall of the great stairwell that ran from the vast temple on the Quirinal – of the Sun, […]
  • Using Google Maps to “fly” around the ruins of the temple of Serapis on the Quirinal hill
    This morning I accidentally discovered the 3D feature of Google Maps.  If you search for the Quirinal Hill in Rome, turn on the Satellite view, and then hold down the control key, you can “fly” around the area.  Not every area of the world is filmed in this detail; but for the gardens of the […]
  • The modern remains of the Quirinal hill temple of the Sun / Serapis – map and photographs
    I’ve written a few posts now about the vast temple whose remains may still be seen on the Quirinal hill in Rome (but only if you know where to look, and can get into the gardens of the Palazzo Colonna).  Early engravers considered that this is the remains of Aurelian’s temple of the sun; German […]
  • A useful list of Syriac and Arabic chroniclers
    French blogger Albocicade writes to say that he has compiled a list of Syriac and Arabic chronicles on his blog.  I found this rather useful, to see it in a condensed form.  Better still, he has linked the entries to online versions of the text or translation.  Very useful, I think! It’s here.
  • The mystery picture of the Quirinal temple and the newly built Quirinal palace
    I mentioned several times a fascinating drawing, of unknown origin, that I found on the web in very low resolution.  It depicts the remains of the vast temple on the Quirinal, as it was before 1630, together with the newly built Quirinal palace – today the residence of the Italian president.  But I was never […]
  • Some dictionary material on the Quirinal temple of the Sun / Serapis
    I was able to acquire access to a couple of reference tomes, and see what they had to say about this huge but mysterious temple.  Here’s the first of them.  Sadly the figure was not well reproduced in my copy. From L. Richardson, A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, 1992, 341-2: Remains of a […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve been at home this week with a cold, so I have been distracting myself by searching on my phone for material about the Quirinal temple.  But I shall have to go back to work on Monday, I think, boxes of tissues and all. A colleague is looking for manuscripts online containing Chrysostom’s Expositio in […]
  • Peruzzi’s drawing shows the real arrangement of the stairs at Aurelian’s temple of the sun / Serapis on the Quirinal
    At the back of the great temple on the Quirinal – often thought to be Aurelian’s Temple of the Sun, sometimes Caracalla’s Temple of Serapis – a great staircase ran down the hill to the plain.  Portions of the sides of this still remain; but the actual arrangement of this is unclear.  The steps themselves […]
  • “Numerous 16th century drawings” of the Temple of the Sun / Serapis in Rome
    Let’s look for more evidence about the temple.  I learn that the ruins of Aurelian’s Temple of the Sun (or possibly Caracalla’s Temple of Serapis) on the Quirinal are depicted in “numerous” 16th century drawings, under the names of the “Torre Mesa” or “Torre di Mecenate” or “Frontispizio di Nerone”. Of course such a claim deserves […]
  • The stairs at the back of Aurelian’s Temple of the Sun
    Relaxing in the bath after completing my last post, I had a sudden realisation.  I think that I know how the stair-complex worked at the back of the Temple of the Sun (or Temple of Serapis, as some think), on the Quirinal Hill in Rome. The key to this is to think of the Spanish […]
  • Palladio and the “Temple of the Sun” in Rome
    I am not aware of any directory of sources for old prints and descriptions of Rome as it was in the 15-16th century.  This means that I discover such sources more or less by accident.  Earlier this week I came across another. Palladio published in 1570 his book, I quattro libri, on architecture.  What I […]
  • Some useful reconstructions of the vast “Temple of the Sun / Serapis” on the Quirinal
    I have written before about the remains of a huge temple on the Quirinal hill in Rome.  The temple is often referred to as Aurelian’s Temple of the Sun.  Others prefer to say that it was a Temple of Serapis.  I’ve seen a suggestion that it was a Temple of Salus.  In short, nobody knows […]
  • Some notes on a letter of the Coptic St. Pisentius – by Anthony Alcock
    Dr Alcock writes: Rather than a translation I have decided on a few notes instead. Here are his notes!  Notes on a letter of Pisentius_Alcock_2017 (PDF)
  • From my diary
    Last Sunday I drove down to start a new contract on the Monday.  It’s quite interesting adapting back to life on the road.  Sleeping in hotels is an art!  I did manage to get some sleep on Thursday night!  The manager who recruited me to the new client is trying to cheat me, which is not […]
  • Admin
    Started a new job this week, so no time to blog.  Rather foolishly this evening I updated Jetpack on the site, and the wretched thing is now scattering errors on posts with footnotes.  My apologies.  I will fix this when I know how, and when I have time to find out how.
  • Who were you, “P.R.”? A flyleaf and its story
    This morning I went into the Treasure Chest second-hand bookshop in Felixstowe.  This is an old-fashioned bookshop, full of 45,000 books, mostly paperbacks, which are available at very reasonable prices, is the very model of a seaside provincial bookshop.  It hasn’t changed in thirty years, as my own shelves testify. I went straight to the classics section, where I […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 5
    We continue the reign of Alexander the Great.  Eutychius believes that Cassander poisoned him.  It is interesting that the evil reputation of Cassander (not named here) persisted after 13 centuries. 16. Alexander won many victories, and among the Greeks, thirteen kings obeyed him.  He founded thirteen cities, some in the west and others in the east.  […]
  • In progress: an online translation of Gelasius of Cyzicus!
    A correspondent writes to tell me of a wonderful thing!  A chap named Nathanael J. Jensen is translating the History of the Council of Nicaea by in 3 books by ps.Gelasius of Cyzicus!  (CPG 6034). Better yet, the results are appearing online! This work was composed around 475, and contains chunks from earlier, now lost, histories.  Portions of it […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 4
    We continue with the story of Alexander.  The Abbasid caliphs, for whom Eutychius wrote, were basically Persians, and so the destruction of the Achaemenids by Alexander – who is treated as the king of the “Rum”! – was obviously sensitive territory.  Eutychius copes with this inconvenience by denying Alexander his military victory, and instead attributing the defeat of Darius […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 3
    Let us carry on with Eutychius.  We reach the times of Alexander. 10. After him reigned his son Qamīsūs for nine years.  After him, Smardhiyūs the Magian reigned for a single year.  He was called the Magian because a Persian named Zarādast appeared in his days, under whose influence the religion of the Magi became official, and […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 2
    Let’s carry on with Old Testament narratives from the time of Daniel.  It would interesting to know if any Persian sources were used for any of this. 5. After him, his son Awīl Marūdakh reigned for twenty-three years.  He released Yahūnākhīm, king of the Israelites, from prison, and put on him the garments of honour, […]
  • Forced marriage in saints’ lives – by Anthony Alcock
    Anthony Alcock has written a short note on a hagiographical theme; where monks are kidnapped, and forced into marriage.  This appears in St. Jerome’s Life of Malchus in the 4th century, and also in the 9th century Life of Samuel of Kalamoun. It’s here: A note on monks in captivity_alcock_2017 (PDF)
  • English translation in progress of Cyril of Alexandria’s “Contra Julianum”
    A correspondent has advised me that Matthew Crawford is engaged in making the first ever English translation of Cyril of Alexandria’s Contra Julianum, the 10-book work refuting Julian the Apostate’s attack on the Christians.  And it is true!  Dr C. has uploaded the preface and opening sections of book1 to his account here. This […]
  • From my diary
    About a week ago summer arrived.  The temperatures rose by 10 degrees, and it is now in the upper 20’s centigrade outside, and the upper teens at night.  The happiest thing to do is to drive around in air-conditioned comfort, and observe the world from there.  Now is the time to make outdoor visits to […]
  • Porphyry on quotation practices in antiquity
    An interesting volume has come my way on the quotations in Eusebius.  It is Sabrina Inowlocki, Eusebius and the Jewish Authors: His citation technique in an apologetic context, Brill, 2006.  This, remarkably, was a PhD thesis in French. The study is interesting enough that I should like to read the paper volume. I have a PDF but […]
  • Altercatio Simonis et Theophili online in English!
    Anthony Alcock has translated a much longer piece for us all this time – the Altercatio Simonis et Theophili, or, Disputation between Simon the Jew and Theophilus the Christian.  This has been dated to the 5th century AD, and is the oldest Latin dialogue between Christians and Jews.  It relies extensively on proof-texts.  Altercatio_Simonis_et_Theophili_Alcock_2017 (PDF) This […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 1
    Let’s return to the start of chapter 7, in Old Testament times.  Compared to the last two chapters, this chapter is not very long.  So let’s have a crack at it.  Some of this story might be a little familiar…  Read the names aloud, and see if you recognise them. 1. In the eighteenth year […]
  • Reading the Italian translation of Methodius “De resurrectione”
    The Italian translation of Methodius of Olympus, De resurrectione, has arrived.  I was able to order it from the publisher without undue difficulty (although would probably have been easier, had I remembered them!)  I have now scanned some of it, which means that I can now use Google Translate on the Italian.  Google Translate handles […]
  • From my diary
    Well!  I have finally reached the end of chapter 19 of the Annals of Eutychius.  Of course I skipped chapters 1-7; and a long theological excursus in chapter 16 (?).  But it’s still very pleasing to get to the end of the interminable Muslim section.  Thank you, everyone who has offered encouragement. I probably ought […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19m – Abbasids part 12
    The last chapter!  Continuing the reign of al-Muqtadir, the reign of al-Qāhir, the start of the reign of ar-Rādī, and the end of the Annals.  It ends with a solicitation of money – “O munificent king”!  9. Al-Muqtadir withdrew his favour from his minister Hāmid b. al-‘Abbās and had him killed in the month of Rabi’ al-awwal of […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19k – Abbasids part 11
    A new caliph, al-Muqtadir.  In this period the entire population of Alexandria is ordered out of the city, and many perish in the countryside, leaving ruins behind.  Some do return in the end. As is often the case in chroniclers, the events of recent history – but not contemporary history, which might be dangerous for […]
  • There are Italian translations of Methodius of Olympus!
    Few are familiar with the works of Methodius of Olympus.  He is an Ante-Nicene Fathers whose works are hard to access. Most were not translated into English as part of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, because they are preserved mainly in Old Slavonic.  Only one large work was translated in the ANF series, the Symposium, because that exists […]
  • “The miracle of St Michael at Colossae” – now online in English
    Anthony Alcock has taken a break from Coptic and translated for us all this Greek hagiographical legend, from the text given in the Patrologia Orientalis 4.  A few notes on the text from the PO might be of interest to readers. The Bollandist editors placed the composition of this text between 692, when Colossae was abandoned, and 787 AD, […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19j – Abbasids part 10
    The decay of the Abbasid caliphate continues.  Egypt is almost an independent country; and the caliphate is also troubled by the Qarmatian revolt – a group of Shia fanatics who end up stealing the Black stone from Mecca.  CALIPHATE OF AL-MUKTAFĪ BI’LLĀH (289-295/902-908). 1. The bay’ah was given to al-Muktafī, i.e. Abū Muhammad [‘Ali] b. Ahmad al-Mu’tadid, in Baghdad, on […]
  • A fragment of Bede’s “De ratione temporum” from his own lifetime?
    Here’s a fun item!  Inside the binding of a book, somebody found a really early fragment of a manuscript of Bede’s De ratione temporum.  (This is the only work which mentions “Eostre”, and includes all his calculations of dates and events.) Even more fun – it’s online in a nice high-resolution image at Darmstadt!  It […]
  • The awful history of Brockelmann’s GAL (and why it is in the state it is)
    Six years ago, I wrote a post in which I roundly attacked Brockelmann’s Geschichte der arabischen Literatur for its copious failings.  Today I discovered online a piece which explained exactly why it is the mess it is. Would you believe: it’s because of German copyright law? The article that I found by Jan Just Witkam, […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19i – Abbasids part 9
    The events of the Abbasid caliphs continue.  This reign is interesting for a curious storm that affected Egypt in 284 AH / 897 AD. CALIPHATE OF AL-MU`TADID (279-289/892-902). 1. The bay’ah was given to al-Mu’tadid bi’llāh Abū’l-‘Abbās, i.e. Ahmad b. Abū Ahmad al-Muwaffaq bi’llāh b. Ga’far al-Mutawakkil ‘alā’llāh – his mother was an umm walad named […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19h – Abbasids part 8
    We’re getting to what for Eutychius is modern times.  The next caliph, al-Mutamid, seems to be almost a figurehead, in the account that Eutychius gives.  Real power is in the hands of Abu Ahmad al-Muwaffaq, and he is challenged by the ruler of Egypt.  The Abbasid caliphate is becoming merely a convention. Eusebius in his […]
  • From my diary
    Hmm.  I wrote a long post yesterday “From my diary”, and published it; and it vanished, and there is no sign of it.  That hasn’t happened before, or not for a very long time.   Deeply worrying when that sort of thing happens.  Let me see what I can recall of the updates that I posted… […]
  • From my diary
    I learn from Twitter that the North American Patristics Society (NAPS) is holding its 2017 convention, starting tomorrow.  I hope that everyone there finds it useful and productive, and maybe even fun! On this continent, I’ve continued hacking away at the Annals of the Arabic Christian historian, Eutychius.  I must admit that the Muslim sections […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19g – Abbasids part 7
    We’re not that far from the close of Eutychius’ Annals, in his own times.  But we still have a few Abbasid caliphs to go through.  None of the next few caliphs lasted very long. Ominously the Turks start to appear as the king-makers. CALIPHATE OF AL-MUNTASIR BI’LLAH (247-248/861-862). 1.  The bay’ah was given to al-Muntasir bi’llāh/Abū Ğa‘far/ Muhammad b. […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19f – Abbasids part 6
    Let’s carry on with the Annals of Eutychius.  In the Islamic world, the second-class status of the Christians means that they hold their property only at the whim of the caliph.  This starts to become an increasing problem.  Meanwhile in Constantinople the talk is all about iconoclasm. CALIPHATE OF ĞA‘FAR AL-MUTAWAKKIL (232-247/847-861). 1. The bay’ah was […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19e – Abbasids part 5
    CALIPHATE OF AL-WĀTHIQ (227-232/842-847) 1. The bay’ah was given to al-Wāthiq, i.e. Hārūn ibn al-Mu’tasim – his mother was a umm walad named Qarātis, on the same day that al-Mu’tasim died. He left the internal affairs as they were in the days of al-Mu’tasim, He built the palace known by the name of al-Hārūni, and moved there.  Al-Wāthiq argued that […]
  • From my diary
    Interesting.  I’ve received two emails from this blog in the past week, saying that I requested a change of password.  I did not, of course.  So either it’s a scam, or somebody is trying to hack this blog.  Time for a backup, methinks. For the last two and a half weeks, I have been laid […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19d – Abbasids part 4
    CALIPHATE OF AL-MUTASIM (218-227/833-842). 1. The bay’ah was given to al-Mu`tasim, i.e. Abū Ishāq Muhammad b. Hārūm ar-Rashid – his mother was a “umm walad” named Māridah – at Tarsus.  But some of al-Ma’mūn’s generals advocated appointing al-‘Abbās, son of al-Ma’mūn, as caliph, and in fact acknowledged al-‘Abbās ibn al-Ma’mūn as their caliph.  All the other generals recognized al-Mu’tasim as their […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19c – Abbasids part 3
    It’s good to return to the Annals of Eutychius.  We continue with the reign of al-Mamun.  CALIPHATE OF AL-MA’MUN (196-218/814-833). 1. In Khurasan, in the year 196 of the Hegira, the bay’ah was given to al-Ma’mūn, i.e. ‘Abd Allah ibn Hārūn ar-Rashid b. Muhammad al-Mahdi b. ‘Abd Allah Allāh b. Hārūn b. Al-Mansūr – his mother was Marāgil […]
  • First use of “abracadabra”? It’s Serenus Sammonicus!
    The first writer to use the phrase “abracadabra” as a magical incantation is, I understand, the (probably) late second century AD medical writer Q. Serenus Sammonicus.  He does so in his two-book medical handbook, the Liber medicinalis, in chapter 51, as a cure for demi-tertian fever, which is perhaps some form of malaria. Here’s the […]
  • Anthony Alcock: Three short texts relating to Severus of Antioch – now online
    Anthony Alcock is continuing his series of translations from Coptic and Arabic.  Today he emailed over a translation of three short texts in Arabic, relating to Severus of Antioch.  The original language material may be found in the Patrologia Orientalis 2 (1907). Three short Arabic texts relating to Severus of Antioch_alcock_2017 (PDF) This is very welcome.  […]
  • An extant “sillybos” – parchment label – from an ancient roll
    The British Library manuscripts blog has produced a rather marvellous article by Matthew Nicholls on Ancient Libraries. But what made it special to me was an image of an item which I had never seen before. As we all know, ancient books were written on rolls of papyrus.  The modern book form or “codex” belongs […]
  • From my diary
    I am still at home, ill with what I assume to be a flu virus or something.  It seems interminable.  But you could fry eggs on my forehead. I’ve just found a bunch of comments that WordPress unaccountably marked as spam.  I’ve now approved them.  My apologies for this.
  • The codex Aesinas of the minor works of Tacitus now online (?)
    A correspondent advised me some time ago that the Codex Aesinas – the Iesi codex -, our sole remaining manuscript of the minor works of Tacitus, is now online in high-resolution images. This is marvellous news, obviously.  The link is here:$1i But … just at the moment the viewer did not seem to be […]
  • Severian of Gabala news: critical editions from GCS, plus an online bibliography
    An Australian scholar who sometimes comments here writes with some interesting news about Severian of Gabala studies: … the GCS people announced last year that they are going to put out critical editions of Severian’s works.  This will take years of course, but it’s only the Germans who commit themselves to such long-term projects these […]
  • John of Ephesus describes the Justinianic plague
    John of Ephesus was a monophysite bishop who worked for Justinian and was instrumental in destroying the Montanist holy places at Pepuza, including the grave of Montanus.  He wrote a Chronicle, much of which is lost.  But he was also an eye-witness of the outbreak of plague, known as the Justinianic plague, which affected the […]
  • Apocryphal and then some: The so-called “Synopsis” of so-called Dorotheus of Tyre
    A correspondent asks me about Dorotheus of Tyre, Synopsis.  This is a patristic work of which I had never heard.  A Google Books search shows that scholars refer to the work from the 16th to the 19th century, after which there is a sudden silence. The Synopsis is a work that was first published in 1557 in a collection in […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve been thinking about the (pseudo) Synopsis of ps.Dorotheus of Tyre, and I will have a blog post on this strange item just as soon as pressures of work permit.  I’ve also been unwell so apologies to anyone writing to me. I’ve also asked a correspondent to translate some of the ps.Dorotheus material.  I’m not […]
  • An 1850 view of the Meta Sudans and the Arch of Constantine
    Another splendid find from Roma Ieri Oggi!  This shows the Meta Sudans, with the Arch of Constantine and the ruins of the Palatine … in 1850!  Unusually this was taken from high-up in the Colosseum.  Marvellous!
  • The date of Hero of Alexandria, and another translation of some extracts of the “Mechanics”
    When did Hero of Alexandria live?  The truth is that we know little other than what can be inferred from his works. Karin Tybjerg tells us that Hero quotes Archimedes, who lived ca. 287-211 or 212 BC, and is quoted by Pappus who flourished around 320 AD.  But it seems that in his Dioptra Hero […]
  • Cleomedes: how big is the earth?
    Some time between Posidonius and Ptolemy, i.e. between the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD, a Greek named Cleomedes wrote a 2 book basic treatise on astronomy, De motu circulari corporum caelestium.  This was based mainly on the lost work of Posidonius, but also on others. Cleomedes is our primary source for the calculations […]
  • Good Friday – the Pilate Stone
    It is Good Friday today.  By chance I found myself looking on Twitter at a picture of the so-called “Pilate stone”.  This is the inscription which mentions Pontius Pilate.  Most of us will be familiar with its existence, but it seems appropriate to gather some of the information about it. In 1961 an Italian expedition […]
  • Extracts from Hero of Alexandria’s “Mechanics”
    Earlier this week I saw a reference online to a work by Hero of Alexandria, the ancient constructor of machines who lived at an uncertain time, possibly even in the late 1st century AD.  The reference was to his Mechanics. In the Mechanica, I am told, Hero explored the parallelograms of velocities, determined certain simple centers of […]
  • “Burned without pity” – the fake quotation taken back to 1930!
    A few weeks ago, I discussed a fake quotation attributed to Pope Innocent III: Anyone who attempts to construe a personal view of God which conflicts with church dogma must be burned without pity. These kinds of “quotes” are often derived from opinions by modern writers, which someone has then turned into a quote by the […]
  • Life of the Coptic Patriarch Isaac (686-689 AD) by Anthony Alcock
    Anthony Alcock has kindly translated for us all a Bohairic Coptic account of the life of the Coptic patriarch Isaac (686-689 AD), which he has sent to me for publication.  The PDF is here: Isaac_life_alcock_2017 (PDF) Isaac does appear in the History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church, but only briefly – this Life is […]
  • From my diary
    I am now recovered from the virus that struck me down last week.  Thank you everyone who prayed for me.  I’ve spent the last few days preparing for a job interview with a new client.  This required quite a bit of revision of my skills, for the inevitable technical test.  But I was successful. Evidently the “other guy” bombed […]
  • From my diary
    A week of illness, as I have had yet another bout of fever and stomach troubles, assisted by a dental problem.  It seems odd to get two episodes of the fever within two weeks, but so it is.  I’ve been unable to respond much to emails. Most days I have taken a ten minute drive […]
  • Nice big image of the Nuremberg drawing of Rome (with Meta Romuli)
    Again seen on twitter, a link to a wonderfully large image of the page in the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493) with a picture of Rome.  It may be found here, but I reproduce it below because images vanish from the web like butterflies.  The basilica of Old St Peter’s may easily be seen; but also the […]
  • The Meta Sudans in 1849 in Pierre Monami
    A twitter post alerted me to the existence of an oil-painting from 1849 by Pierre Monami, depicting the Roman forum with the Arch of Constantine, the Meta Sudans, the Temple of Venus and Rome, and the Via Sacra leading to the Arch of Titus.  The painting was sold recently at Bonhams, who have a viewer […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19b – Abbasids part 2
    We continue with a couple more caliphs. CALIPHATE OF HARUN AR-RASHID (170-193 / 786-809). 1. The bay’ah was given to Harun ar-Rashid b. al-Mahdi – his mother was al-al-Khayzuran – in the same night that Musa al-Hadi died, the night of Friday 14 Rabi al-awwal in the year 170.  That night his son al-Ma’mun was born.  He […]
  • Selling oranges outside the Meta Sudans, 1900-1910
    This item appeared on Twitter here today: “Woman selling oranges”, Colosseum, Rome, Italy. Between 1900-1910 Lantern slide (hand colored)”.  Marvellous!
  • Alin Suciu on the Berlin-Strasbourg Apocryphon or “Gospel of the Savior”
    It’s taken four years, but Alin Suciu’s magnificent thesis on the so-called “Gospel of the Savior” has now appeared in book form from Mohr Siebeck, although at a huge price.  The abstract is as follows: The Berlin-Strasbourg Apocryphon – A Coptic Apostolic Memoir The present volume offers a new edition, English translation, and interpretation of […]
  • Origen’s Commentary on Matthew – what exists in English?
    The remains of Origen’s 25-book Commentary on Matthew appear in four volumes in the GCS series.  These are: GCS 40 – “Origenes Werke X, Commentarius in Matthaeum I” – this contains the Greek text of books of books 10-17.  (I found a PDF on ScribD and uploaded it to here; a DJVU file exists in Poland […]
  • New book on Hellenistic astrology
    Chris Brennan has written to tell me about his new book, on Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune. Ancient astrology is something that I ought to know about, but don’t.  There’s a whole class of ancient texts like Vettius Valens which incorporate information.  Probably if we knew more about it, we would see […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19a – The Abbasids arrive!
    After the murder of Marwan II, last of the Ummayad caliphs, we begin the Abbasid caliphs.  These are basically Persians, so the centre of the Islamic world moves eastward.  The first few Abbasid caliphs seem to lack shelf-life.  Interestingly Eutychius does not have good information on the patriarchs of Constantinople or Rome from this point […]
  • From my diary
    Bright sun this morning, the light reaching round into my bedroom as I get up, with a hint of summer on the way.  At lunchtime I saw crocuses coming into flower on a roundabout nearby.  A walk along the sea promenade was warm. All this was very welcome to a man recovering from a 48-hour […]
  • A new Mithras inscription from Dacia
    Csaba Szabo writes to say that a new Mithraic inscription was recovered by the police in Romania in 2015.  His blog post about it is here.  He has published the inscription at here, which is very useful as otherwise it might be very difficult to get hold of. The inscription is on a half-column, which […]
  • Origen: a very early copyist of Matthew made a mistake…
    Alex Poulos has posted what may be the most interesting blog post that I have seen for a very long time: Textual criticism and biblical authority in Origen’s Homily on Ps. 77.  It’s the text and translation of the first section of Origen’s first homily on psalm 77, with comments.  And by golly it’s interesting! […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18i – The remaining Ummayads
    The last few Ummayads conclude chapter 18.  The seizure of the Damascus church was plainly not straightforward.  It looks rather as if at least some of the Muslims felt that the failure to honour the guarantee by Khalid ibn al-Walid was dishonourable, for the matter came up again under the next caliph, Omar.  Omar also made moves […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18h – Abd al-Malik, Al-Walid and Suleiman
    The remaining Ummayad caliphs are dealt with briefly by Eutychius.  Muslim seizures of churches begin. CALIPHATE OF ABD AL-MALIK IBN MARWĀN (65-86/685-705) 1. The bay’ah was given to Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan b. al-Hakam b. Abi’l-`Ās – his mother was Aisha, daughter of Mu’awiya b. al-Mughira b. Abi’-`Ās b. Umayya b. Abd Shams -, in the […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18g – the reigns of Yazid and Marwan I
    Eutychius does not seem to know that much about the next two Ummayad caliphs, so I include both of their short entries here. CALIPHATE OF YAZID IBN MU`AWIYA (60-64/680-683) 1. The bay’ah was given to Yazid ibn Mu’awiya  b. Abi Sufyan – his mother was Maysūr, daughter of Yahdak al-Kalbi -, in the month of Ragab in […]
  • “Burned without pity” – a fake quotation attributed to Pope Innocent III
    While looking for some information on the Spanish Inquisition, I came across a whole slew of pages containing the following quotation (various, but here). Pope Innocent III: “Anyone who attempts to construe a personal view of God which conflicts with church dogma must be burned without pity.” ~Papal Bull, 1198, qtd. in Peter Tompkins, Symbols […]
  • 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.  His name was Sakhr ibn Harb b. Umayya b. […]
  • Temple of Mithras discovered at Mariana in Corsica
    A previously unknown temple of Mithras has been discovered in Corsica, in Lucciana, on the site of the Roman colony of Mariana. French website l’Express carries the story with more care than most, from which I learn of the following details. Mariana, a Roman colony founded around 100 BC, reached its peak in the 3rd […]
  • String ’em up! How middle managers destroy the value of institutional websites
    Few things are quite as infuriating as an institutional website designed by somebody who will never ever have to use the service in question.  The designer is usually some group of bureaucrats, with a checklist of things that the service “must” contain.  Not infrequently a real user finds that the wasters have actually torpedoed any useful […]
  • When did Christmas Day become a public holiday?
    In the legal code of Justinian, issued in 534 AD, we find the following entry, in book 3, title 12, law 6, Omnes dies: 3.12.6 (7). Emperors Valentinian, Theodosius and Arcadius to Albinus, City Prefect.  We order that all days shall be court days. 1.Only those days shall remain as days of vacation which each […]
  • A “gentleman’s translation” by H.S. Boyd of Ps.Basil’s homily on Paradise
    A couple of weeks ago, Ted Janiszewski wrote to tell me about another volume of “gentleman’s translations” that he had found.  I see no purpose in paraphrasing his fascinating email, which is practically a blog post in itself! I’ve come across another gentleman’s translation of patristic writings: The Fathers not Papists: Or, Six Discourses by […]
  • Let’s not shout at the Vatican library for digitising microfilms
    The Vatican library digitisation has made a bit of a left turn lately, and I’ve certainly complained about it, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this.  Instead of the high quality brand new full colour photographs, they’ve started to digitise vast numbers of rather rubbish quality microfilms. Today a correspondent from the library gently […]
  • A close up of the Meta Sudans from 1910
    The invaluable Roma Ieri Oggi site continues to upload photographs of old Rome, including photographs of vanished sites like the ancient fountain, the Meta Sudans.  A new one appeared a couple of days ago here.  It’s a close-up of the Meta Sudans, although I had to disable my anti-virus software (Kaspersky) in order to view […]
  • A new work by Apuleius!
    This story passed me by completely, until the excellent J.-B. Piggin tweeted about it, as part of his lists of Vatican manuscripts coming online.  Justin Stover has more here. In 1949, the historian of philosophy Raymond Klibansky made a dramatic announcement to the British Academy: a new Latin philosophical text dating from antiquity, a Summarium librorum […]
  • Piranesi’s engraving of the Arco di Portogallo
    The “Arco di Portogallo” or “Arch of Portugal”, so called because it was located in the Corso in Rome near the residence of the Portugese ambassador, was demolished in 1662.  I had never heard of it, I confess, until Anna Blennow tweeted an engraving by Piranesi.  It stood near the Palazzo Fiano.  It seems to […]
  • From my diary
    It’s been a busy few days.  I have a few blog posts backed up, which I shall now be able to get to.   The last few days have been taken up with life stuff, and also with thinking about the post by Richard Carrier that I responded to earlier. Reading polemic is a tedious business, […]
  • More on the sestertius of Titus showing the Meta Sudans
    A correspondent kindly drew my attention to the following piece in the Daily Express. Rare Roman coin featuring early depiction of the Colosseum sells for £372,000 AN INCREDIBLE rare Roman coin featuring one of the earliest depictions of the Colosseum has sold for £372,000 – nearly five times its estimate. The bronze Sestertius coin that […]
  • Words, Words, Words: A response to Richard Carrier on Feldman and Eusebius
    It’s always nice when my blog posts attract attention. I learned last week that an old post of mine, from 2013, has attracted a response from a professional atheist polemicist named Richard Carrier. In a rather excitable post here on his own blog he roundly denounces my casual remarks, and indeed myself (!), and offers […]
  • Solomon in Coptic Songs – text and translation by Anthony Alcock
    Anthony Alcock continues his series of translations from the Coptic.  This new item consists of 10th century AD Coptic songs – folk-stories – which mention Solomon. solomon_alcock_2017 (PDF) Thank you, Dr A., for sharing this with us!
  • From my diary
    A previously unknown Temple of Mithras was discovered last week at Lucciana in Corsica, during road improvement work.  The location is somewhere near or in the Roman city of Mariana, itself founded by Gaius Marius.  The archaeology suggests a third century date.  The usual cult benches on either side are present, and three fragments of […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18e – the reign of Ali
    The murder of Omar was followed by the murder of Othman.  The next caliph, Ali, was unable to master the large realm that he had inherited and was swiftly murdered also. Caliphate of Ali ibn Abi Talib (35-40 / 656-661) 1. After Othman there was made caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib b. Abd al-Muttalib b. Hashim b. […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18d
    After the  murder of Omar, the Muslims elect Othman. The Muslim conquests continue.  The Byzantines don’t make much resistance, apparently.  Othman too is murdered after drawing up an edition of the Koran and destroying all the other copies. Lots of theological letters in this section of Eutychius.  We also see the appearance of “Misr” for the […]
  • A few thoughts on handling miraculous passages in ancient texts
    While I was thinking about Geza Vermes’ The Nativity, I realised that part of his difficulty with the text was his starting assumption that miracles did not happen.  But this didn’t just affect the miraculous bits of the text.  It actually led him into a strange wilderness of subjectivism, even with respect to non-miraculous events. The end result […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18c (part 9)
    The Arab conquest of Egypt continues the story of the reign of Omar.  The small bands of Arabs naturally see their conquest of Egypt as merely a chance to loot. But faced with the enormous wealth of Egypt, Omar realises that if he can extract protection money on a continuing basis, this would be better […]
  • Is scholarly scepticism about Gallio a modern legend?
    The presence of Seneca’s brother, Gallio, in Corinth, during the period when Acts 18:12-17 refers to him, is attested by an inscription.  The French excavators in the late 19th century found vast numbers of fragments, and Emile Bourguet in 1905 published a group, which contained a letter of Claudius, mentioning Gallio as proconsul. However, floating […]
  • Review: Geza Vermes, “The Nativity: History and Legend”
    For my sins, which are clearly far more substantial than I had realised, I agreed last week to a request from a lay reader, to read through and comment on Geza Vermes’ book The Nativity: History and Legend, which I should otherwise never have read.  The book is indeed directed to the educated layman, so […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18c (part 8)
    The Muslims capture Babylon fortress; but the fighting between the Arab force and the Roman force takes them both all over the place. Eventually the Muslims have to besiege Alexandria.  13. ‘Ubāda ibn as-Samit then returned to Amr ibn al-As and made him aware of what had happened.  When the Muslims heard that there were only a few men in the […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18c (part 7)
    The Islamic raiders have now reached Egypt, and approach Babylon fortress, on the Nile.  The bitter ideological infighting of the past century has left the country and its rulers at odds, and both hate the Emperor Heraclius. The Persian war has stripped the country of soldiers, and left societal bonds weakened.  So the Prefect of Egypt is willing […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve reached the last couple of volumes in the pile of books to slice and convert to PDF.  One of these was an old Loeb, but when I opened it, I found a “withdrawn” library stamp for Aberdeen University in it.  The book became an old survivor, and I couldn’t bring myself to pull its […]
  • A couple more images of the Meta Sudans from Twitter
    Roma Ieri Oggi has posted yet another old photograph, from 1898, of the Colosseum, with the Meta Sudans: The angle on the Meta Sudans is a little unusual, and indicates that the top was not level. This caused a second photo to be posted, this one from 1865: Note how much the land level has […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18c (part 6)
    We continue the account of the reign of Omar. 10. When he arrived at Medina, Omar ibn al-Khattab wrote a letter to remove Amr ibn al-‘As from office in Palestine, ordering him to equip himself and leave for Egypt, and he appointed Mu‘āwiya ibn Abi Sufyān as governor of Ashkelon, Caesarea and Palestine. Mu’awiya and his forces […]
  • When a book order goes wrong: problems with Abebooks and Reuseabook
    I think most of us have used Abebooks as a valuable way to get hold of second-hand literature.  And it is truly valuable.  I well remember hunting bookshops for Tertullians in the 80s, unable to find even ordinary books. But Abebooks is not Amazon, and if things go even slightly wrong, the marvellous customer service […]
  • Who was “Euthalius”, and what did he write?
    The Catholic Encyclopedia contains the following paragraph: The martyrdom [of St Paul] took place towards the end of the reign of Nero, in the twelfth year (St. Epiphanius), the thirteenth (Euthalius), or the fourteenth (St. Jerome). But who is this “Euthalius”? In medieval Greek bible manuscripts, there is a mass of commentary material.  For instance, […]
  • If death did not exist, would Stalin still rule in Russia?
    I was reflecting on the career of Josef Stalin, the brutal bandit from the Caucasus, who rose to become Soviet dictator, and enslaved, first a huge nation, and then half of Europe.  He had total power.  The only thing that he could not control was death.  One day death came for him, and his empire crumbled soon after. […]
  • Roman pranks: Glueing a coin to the pavement, in Horace and Persius
    While reading Horace at the weekend in the old Loeb edition, my eye fell upon a passage in Epistles I, XVI 63: Qui melior servo, qui liberior sit avarus, in triviis fixum cum se demittit ob assem, non video; nam qui cupiet, metuet quoque ; porro, qui metuens vivet, liber mihi non erit umquam. How […]
  • More colophons from Coptic manuscripts, by Anthony Alcock
    A little while ago Anthony Alcock sent in a set of colophons – ending remarks – from Coptic manuscripts, which appear here. Today I have received a follow-up email from Dr A., with translations of a further 20 colophons found in Coptic manuscripts.  It’s here: Colophons of Coptic Manuscripts Part Two Upper Egpt (PDF) Here is […]
  • From my diary
    I am continuing to turn my reference books into PDFs by taking the covers off and breaking them into sections, guillotining the edge and then scanning them.  This is going well. I also visited a local second hand bookshop and purchased a few classics for a couple of dollars each.  These were books that I […]
  • The crucifixion graffito of Alkimilla from Puteoli
    I was unfamiliar with this item until today, and I doubt that I am alone in this. In 1959 a group of eight Tabernae were excavated at Puteoli.  Taberna 5 was a guesthouse, as is clear from the graffiti within it.  These mention various names and cities. On the west wall of taberna 5, a mass […]
  • Review: “Before Nicea: The early followers of Prophet Jesus” by Abdul Haq al Ashanti and Abdur Rahman Bowes, 2005
    This book was drawn to my attention on Twitter, where it was offered as a scholarly source for some very odd remarks about ante-Nicene Christianity. The book has the ISBN of 0955109906.  But it circulates most widely in eBook form, e.g.  The eBook that I have marks it as “© SalafiManhaj 2005”, although it does not seem […]
  • An aerial shot of the base of the Colossus in 1918
    Roma Ieri Oggi has posted a set of aerial photographs of Rome, made in 1918.  They are here.  And they are quite marvellous, and high resolution. Of special interest to us is one that looks at the Colosseum area: Note the area where today runs the Via del foro imperiali – mainly farmland on the […]
  • The manuscripts of Manuel Paleologus, “Dialogues with a Muslim”
    Towards the end, the Byzantine state become nothing more than a city-state.  The emperor, John VI Paleologus, was forced to become the feudal vassal of his enemy, the Ottoman sultan Murad.  His son, Manuel Palelogus, in 1391-2, was actually obliged to go on campaign with Murad’s son Bayezid, and endure the contemptuous treatment of the latter.  […]
  • How I do the footnotes on my blog; and other bits of blog configuration
    This blog runs on WordPress.  I host a copy of the software in a directory on my rented webspace (rented from the ever-reliable  A commenter asked: Do you use a plug-in for footnotes? If so, could you please identify the plug-in, and comment on its usefulness? I do indeed use a plug-in. In fact, […]
  • New dustjackets for old books!
    Via the H.V.Morton blog, named after the South African travel writer, I learn of a novel thing. How many of us have old hardbacks, bought second-hand, where the dust jackets have long since gone?  The colourful dust jackets of H.V. Morton’s travel books on my shelves are long gone, leaving only a bible-black cloth cover, […]
  • A collection of colophons from Coptic manuscripts, by Anthony Alcock
    Anthony Alcock has kindly sent in a text and translation of some colophons – final material – from Coptic manuscripts.  It’s here: Alcock_Colophons of Coptic Manuscripts Fayyum_2017 (PDF) As ever, many thanks to Dr. A.  It is really useful to have this material online and in English!
  • How I met I.E.S. Edwards
    A good long time ago, before I ever heard of the internet, I was a member of the Egypt Exploration Society (EES).  This society was founded in Victorian times in order to raise funds for archaeology in Egypt, and to promote interest in the country. Every year I used to receive a thick, uninviting-looking copy […]
  • Two questions: can translations be biased? and are ancient texts reliable?
    I’ve had some correspondence in the last few days, posing a couple of interesting questions which are actually quite hard to answer definitively.  But I thought that I would mention both, and give some thoughts about them. The first asked about bias in translations of ancient texts.  It’s an interesting question.  Can you actually do […]
  • From my diary
    Happy new year 2017 to you all! I’ve been busy, tearing the backs off books, in order to turn them into PDFs.  It’s far quicker, if you have a scanner with a sheet feeder, than turning pages laboriously.  First you pull off the card cover.  This leaves you with the book block.  Then you break […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve spent this evening breaking another book.  This one is genuinely not valuable, selling for a few euros a copy on second hand site.  It’s a deeply dull exhibition catalogue in German from 1969.  I think I wanted a photograph from it or something.  Anyway it’s an inch thick, and will go to its reward. […]
  • The base of the Colossus, next to the Colosseum, in 1920
    The Roma Ieri Oggi site is a vast resource of old and wonderful photographs of Rome.  It’s rather a pity that these are being embedded in an on-site “viewer”, to make it hard to download the things.  But in them we see Rome before Mussolini made his necessary but destructive changes. Today he posted a […]
  • Low life in Cairo before the war, with Bimbashi McPherson
    The passing of the British Empire has deprived the world of the memoirs of colonial officials.  Doubtless some were leaden; but many a character, who might have been lost to obscurity in Britain, bloomed under an Eastern sun.  Last night my eye fell upon A Life in Egypt by Bimbashi McPherson, and I pulled it […]
  • Goodbye Harpocrates, hello Hor-pa-khered!
    I’ve spent a little time looking for information about the ancient Egyptian deity who lies behind the Greek figure of Harpocrates. The results are discouraging, because I find so very little.  Admittedly I have no access to Egyptological databases; but I can’t help feeling that if there was much more to know, that the articles […]
  • Temple of Mithras discovered at Diyarbekir in SE Turkey?
    A news report in Turkish newspapers suggests that a Mithraeum may have been discovered. Dec. 27, 2016: Excavations at Zerzevan Kalesi in the Cinar district of Diyarbekir suggest that there is an underground temple of Mithras, a mysterious cult of the Roman period. Excavations were started in 2014 at Zerzevan castle, located on a hill near the […]
  • How can we write history or mythology when all we have is archaeology?!?
    In my last post I gathered the handful of Graeco-Roman literary references to Harpocrates, the Horus-the-child deity. But now we must venture behind the ancient world, into an area which few of us know well – ancient Egypt – and try to find some primary sources for the original Harpocrates, whatever his Egyptian name.  This leads us […]
  • Who the heck is Harpocrates and why is he “really” Jesus?
    Let’s start looking at Acharya S, Christ in Egypt. In my last post, I discussed how you create a false story about some ancient person or event. With this in mind, I now want to look at Harpocrates, who appears as a key player in Acharya’s book. The central contention of Acharya’s book is that […]
  • How to create your own crank theory about Christian Origins (or any other ancient event)
    I’m going to start looking at Acharya S, Christ in Egypt, a crank volume which I found myself turning into PDF a couple of days ago.  But first, a few words about how I always approach such things. Every Christmas the internet is full of stories which rewrite Christian origins to show that (a) the […]
  • Acharya S, One year on.
    It is Christmas Eve.  Tomorrow is Christmas Day, which by chance falls upon a Sunday, when I do give myself a break from my PC.  So let me now wish all my readers a very merry Christmas! December 25th, 2016, is also the first anniversary of the death of anti-Christian writer Dorothy Murdock, better known as […]
  • From my diary
    ‘Twas Christmas Eve in the workhouse, And the snow was raining fast. When a barefoot boy with clogs on, Went slowly speeding past. It’s Christmas, and all of us start to recall the Christmases of days gone by.  Not all of these may be positive. But the memories of gladness from childhood shine through. The […]
  • Translation in progress of Hrabanus Maurus commentary on Judith
    Brian Glass has written to tell me that he is working on a translation of the commentary on Judith by 9th century Latin writer Hrabanus Maurus.  This writer is later than the scope of this blog; but I heartily approve of the project, which he is doing through a series of posts on his blog, […]
  • From my diary
    The run up to Christmas is always busy, even if you are at home, and mine is no exception. A few months ago Dr Michael Fuller kindly sent me some excellent photographs from the Mithraeum of S. Maria Capua Vetere, and some Mithraea in Ostia.  I have finally got around to uploading them to my […]
  • Coptic text of the Acta Pilati – translated into English by Anthony Alcock
    Anthony Alcock continues his splendid series of translations from Coptic with a translation of the Coptic version of the Acta Pilati, from a papyrus manuscript in Turin published in the Patrologia Orientalis 9.  This forms part of the text known as the Gospel of Nicodemus. Here it is: Acta_Pilati_alcock_2016 (PDF) Our thanks to Dr Alcock for […]
  • For further reading: A bibliography and resource list for the pyramids at Meroe
    It might be useful to gather in one place the sources that I have found online for the pyramids at Meroe.  Doubtless some of the links will prove ephemeral; but corrections are welcome in the comments, however late.  The material here is not up to date – the most recent from the 1950s – but […]
  • Viewing Cailliaud’s engravings of the pyramids of Meroe at the Biodiversity Heritage Library
    The first modern visitor to the pyramids of the black pharaohs at Meroe was the 18th century Scotsman, James Bruce.  In 1821 the ruler of Egypt, Mohammed Ali, sent a huge army up the Nile and occupied the Sudan. The next visitor, therefore, was the Frenchman Frédéric Cailliaud, who marched with the army.  Cailliaud wrote […]
  • A labelled map of the north pyramids at Meroe, and a Google Maps satellite view on a phone!
    Let’s continue our series on the pyramids of the Black Pharaohs at Meroe in the Sudan. Now that we have seen all these pictures and photographs of pyramids, by Cailliaud, Lepsius, and others, the question arises… is there a list, with a map attached showing the layout of the pyramid field? In fact I see references […]
  • Lepsius at Meroe – the some pictures of the pyramids
    The early German archaeologist Karl Lepsius came to Meroe after the treasure-hunter Ferlini had done his worst.  His engraver produced a number of rather charming depictions, which are all online here.  I thought I would include the Meroe pyramid images. The shattered state of the pyramids is obvious.  Modern German archaeologists have done some repairs […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18c (part 5)
    Let’s carry on a little further with the narrative of Eutychius.  The Muslims now prepare to invade Egypt.  But first, some bureaucracy! The narrative of Eutychius contains endless letter-writing and refers to supposed Muslim guarantees. It seems unlikely that this is historically accurate, considering the illiteracy of most of the invaders, and their indifference to anything except […]
  • Mithras in “Mythes fondateurs. D’Hercule à Dark Vador”
    I learn via Twitter that there is an exhibition doing the rounds in France, called “Mythes fondateurs” (=foundation myths).  It seems to be largely aimed at children, which of course is one of the genuine functions of public museums. Among the items in the exhibition is this: Now this is plainly two figures from the […]
  • The pyramids of Meroe in 1821 – the engravings of Frederic Cailliaud
    The pyramids of Meroe, today Gebel Barkal or Mount Barkal, 100 miles north of Khartoum, were vandalised by an Italian, G. Ferlini, ca. 1832.  But between 1819 and 1822, a French explorer named Frederic Cailliaud also visited the area.  His discoveries were published in four normal-sized volumes of text, each around 400 pages, and two large […]
  • The difficulties of consulting Libanius
    A kind correspondent sent me a link to a 1960 article by A. F. Norman on the book trade in ancient Antioch, in the latter part of the 4th century AD.  This was based mainly on statements in the orations of Libanius, then almost untranslated. In the half-century after that, Dr. Norman made a considerable number […]
  • Just one Italian: the pyramids of Meroe and Giuseppe Ferlini, their destroyer
    Few people are aware of the amazing pyramids of Meroe in the Sudan, about a hundred miles north of Khartoum, and easily accessible by a day-trip from the city.  I have not been there myself, sadly. Sadly they are all badly damaged these days.  They look as if the tops were blown off with gunpowder; […]
  • Collecting all ancient texts referring to the gift of tongues
    Charles A. Sullivan writes to say that his Gift of Tongues Project is up and running:  It has been a while, but I have the majority of ancient church writings located, digitized, organized, and analyzed for the Gift of Tongues Project. Of course, there is always more to do, but a sound framework is in […]
  • A previously unknown governor of Judaea
    Via Haaretz (beware incredible amounts of popups, popunders and other junk), an excellent article gives us the following information: Divers find unexpected Roman inscription from the eve of Bar-Kochba Revolt – A statue base from 1,900 years ago found at Dor survived shellfish and seawater, and to the archaeologists’ shock, revealed a previously unknown governor […]
  • English translation of Coptic apocrypha, “The Investiture of the Archangel Michael” – by Anthony Alcock
    Anthony Alcock has translated another Coptic apocryphon for us – the Investiture of Michael the Archangel.  It purports to be written by John the Evangelist, and narrates non-canonical discussion between Jesus and his disciples.    The complete text is preserved in a 9th century Sahidic codex, and fragments from a White Monastery parchment manuscript of the 9-12th […]
  • Publishing in the ancient world
    A correspondent has written to me, asking an interesting question: Let’s suppose I’m living down the street from Philo in Alexandria and I’ve just written my book.  How do I get published?  I.e., I’ve written for other people to read so I want other people to get hold of my book–by having a scribe copy […]
  • From my diary
    My contract has finished, so I am notionally a gentleman of leisure.  In actual fact I am at home, trying to put things back together after the work of the painters and the carpet-layers.  Most of my stuff is still in the garage, including all my books. As I gradually bring things back in, I […]
  • The Obelisk of Antinous in the renaissance
    I have been reading about the obelisk of Antinous, which today stands on the Pincian Hill in Rome.  But it was not erected there in antiquity, but in some other location. In the 16th century, the obelisk was discovered in the ruins of the Circus Varianus.  This monument may be unfamiliar to most people – indeed […]
  • Hugh Houghton on New Testament catenas
    The late antique and medieval commentaries on scripture took the form of chains of quotations from ancient writers, including much lost early Christian commentary.  These are known today as the catena (=chain) commentaries, and their study is a rather specialised one. Thankfully it is receiving some real attention today.  Hugh Houghton writes to say that a volume […]
  • Returning to Antinoupolis by satellite photo
    Today I found myself looking at the splendid map of Antinoupolis in the Description de l’Egypte, made by Napoleon’s engineers.  When it was made, in the 1790’s, the Roman city still stood on the high ground – above the level of the Nile flood – to the east of a wretched village named Sheikh Abade. […]
  • 18th century Egypt and a travelling Frenchman
    In C. S. Sonini de Manoncourt, “Travels in Upper and Lower Egypt”, vol. 3, (1807), p.292, I find this anecdote.  The Reis is the captain of the boat on which de Manoncourt is travelling up the Nile, and he is in the region of Antinoupolis. Among those persons whom the Reis had put on board, […]
  • The obelisk of Antinous – the text written upon it
    Among the actions of Hadrian after the suspicious death of his “favourite” Antinous was the construction of an Egyptian-style obelisk in Rome, which still stands.  Each of the four faces has a text upon it in hieroglyphics.  It was constructed in Rome, where someone who knew how to write the ancient language wrote the text. The first two faces read as […]
  • “In this sign shall you conquer… No, not in that sign. In *this* sign!”
    Among the remains of Latin antiquity to reach us is a volume known today as the Panegyrici Latini, or Latin Panegyrics.  These are twelve orations delivered to emperors, nearly all from the late empire, but also including the (unreadable) panegyric for Trajan by Pliny the Younger.  They are, in short, examples of flowery, professional-grade bum-sucking […]
  • There is nothing like a Dane… Frederic L. Norden at Antinoe in 1737
    Another early traveller who voyaged up the Nile in 1737-8 was the Danish naval officer, Capt. Frederic L. Norden.  His Voyage d’Egypte et de Nubie, vol. 2, Copenhagen (1755) describes his trip, and mentions Antinoupolis during the account for Tuesday 26 November 1737.  Sadly it does not give us much. Here is an excerpt of plate […]
  • Another patristic source on Antinous and Antinoupolis
    At the end of the 2nd century, Clement of Alexandria mentions the deification of Antinous in his Against the Heathens c.4 (online here): Another new deity was added to the number with great religious pomp in Egypt, and was near being so in Greece by the king of the Romans, who deified Antinous, whom he […]
  • Another picture of the vanished Caesarium at Armant
    The temple of Caesarion at Armant is long gone, but early travellers made drawings of it.  Today I found another one, in J.H. Allan’s A pictorial tour in the Mediterranean, 1843, facing p.68.  Here it is.
  • The “Chronicle of Alexandria” – a will o’ the wisp?
    Reading Jomard’s description of Antinoe, among the authors he lists a “Chronique d’Alexandrie” as an ancient work.  His reference is only “Chronic. Alexandrin. p.598″, which is less than helpful.  But what on earth is this work? A google search reveals little for “Chronicle of Alexandria”.  But the French version took me to this link which […]
  • Some patristic sources on Antinous and Antinoupolis
    In his article on the city of Antinoupolis, Jomard quotes a few authors relevant to the story of the wretched Antinous, and the city that bore his name.  I thought that I would give a few here. Justin Martyr, First Apology, c. 29, writes: And again [we fear to expose children], lest some of them be […]
  • The Antinoupolis inscription of Alexander Severus, in the “Description de l’Egypte”
    We’ve reviewed the earlier visitors to Antinoupolis.  It’s time to go back to the Description de l’Egypte, made by Napoleon’s engineers, and the detailed description of the city made by them. In fact it’s a relief to do so.  The shoddy engravings of Paul Lucas are not to be compared to the excellence of the […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve had to change the WordPress theme again.  The one that I was using simply doesn’t display correctly.  Which is worrying, when you consider that it was an official theme, Twenty-Fifteen.  I’ve switched to Twenty-Sixteen, but I’m not very happy with it either.  I’ll have to change it when I get more time. It’s Friday […]
  • 1743: publication of the visit of Charles Perry to Antinoupolis
    The English traveller Charles Perry visited Antinoupolis in the early 18th century, although I have not been able to see in his book the exact year without reading the whole thing through.  His account was published in 1743 as A view of the Levant: particularly of Constantinople, Syria, Egypt and Greece (London: Woodward & co, […]
  • Drawing the ruins of Antinoupolis in 1778, while pursued by bandits! The account of C. S. Sonnini de Manoncourt.
    Travelling in Egypt could be dangerous, as one French visitor discovered. The natives did not always like to see people drawing the ruins! Our next early visitor to Antinoupolis was C.S. Sonnini de Manoncourt, a French Engineer sent out by the ancien regime in France in 1777, but published in “year 7” of the French Revolution, i.e. […]
  • The 1714 visit of Paul Lucas to Antinoupolis
    Another early visitor to the ruins of Antinoupolis in Egypt, made by order of Louis XIV, no less, was the French knight Paul Lucas (1664-1737). His rather derivative account appears in his Voyage Du Sieur Paul Lucas, Fait En M.DCCXIV, &c. Par Ordre De Louis XIV. Dans La Turquie, L’Asie, Sourie, Palestine, Haute Et Basse Egypte, &c Ou l’on trouvera […]
  • Preaching with cartoons?
    This week I saw on Twitter that a certain Jack Chick had died.  I was rather astonished at the outpouring of jeering, bile and vitriol in response!  In fact I had never heard of the man until a few years ago, when I heard some atheist cursing him. But apparently he was well-known in the USA […]
  • Did Antinous pull Zeus from Olympus? Did Hadrian pave the way for Christ?
    The emperor Hadrian made the curious decision to deify his deceased favourite, Antinous, and to build temples and a city in his memory. It’s worth reflecting a little Hadrian’s absurd-seeming action of deifying his bum-boy.  It’s too easy to dismiss this action as merely the product of grief.  To do so makes  a good story, […]
  • Sicard’s illustrations of Antinoupolis
    My last post gave an account of a visit to Antinoupolis in Egypt in 1715.  But without the illustrations!  Well, I have spent several days now, attempting to locate online a copy of Father Sicard’s Letter to the Count of Toulouse which had undamaged illustrations in it.  Not all copies were bound with illustrations, I […]
  • A visit in 1716 to Antinoupolis by Fr Claude Sicard, SJ
    One of the earliest explorers of Egypt was the Jesuit missionary Claude Sicard.  His 1715 journey is recounted in a letter which he wrote to the Count of Toulouse on 1st June 1716, which was printed as “Lettre d’un missionaire en Egypte a S.A.S. Mgr le Comte de Toulouse”, in a collection of Jesuit missionary […]
  • Faces in the streets of Antinoupolis
    A google images search, undertaken for other reasons, gave me a sudden picture of the people of Antinoupolis.  Here it is: Fascinating to see, isn’t it? I suppose some of them are from elsewhere in the Fayoum; but even so, this is a fascinating collection of people!
  • An inscription from Antinoupolis preserved by Richard Pococke
    An earlier visitor to Antinoupolis was the Jesuit Father Sicard, whose work I have yet to locate.  But Richard Pococke gives (p.279) an item on his authority as follows: We’ve seen a reference in Vansleb to a “pillar of Marcus Aurelius”.  This must be the inscription. I don’t profess any skill with Greek inscriptions whatsoever, but even […]
  • An English visitor to Antinoupolis in 1737
    Another early visitor to Antinoupolis was Richard Pococke, whose Observations on Egypt, vol. 1, 1743, begin with a picture (before page 73) of one of the gates still then standing at the city. He describes his visit as follows: On the fourteenth [of December, 1737] we had a good wind, and passed by Minio [Minya] on the […]
  • Aerial photo of Antinoupolis in 2011 – before the destruction of the circus began
    Never rely on Google Maps for an aerial view of an archaeological site.  Always screen-shot it.  You may be grateful in future that you did. This thought was provoked by finding an aerial image of Antinoupolis in Egypt, modern Sheikh Ibeda, here.  Here it is: Comparison with the current view will quickly show that part […]
  • From my diary
    I’m still looking at material on Antiopolis, so expect more posts on this. I’m dissatisfied with the new blog theme.  It looks as if the left menu frequently does not get displayed.  Rats!
  • The journal of a French visitor to Antinoupolis in 1672-3
    There are many good things to be found online these days.  Among them is Father Vansleb Nouvelle Relation … d’un Voyage fait en Egypte, Paris 1702; the diary of a journey into Egypt in 1672-3.  On p.386, we find an account of his visit to Antinoupolis. I don’t guarantee the accuracy of my translation; but […]
  • Antinoupolis at the British Museum – a project
    I was delighted to discover that the British Museum has initiated a project to catalogue its holdings from Antinoupolis in Egypt.  It seems that in 1913-14, John de Monins Johnson excavated at the site; but did not publish his work.  All that appeared in print was literary and documentary texts on papyrus!  The link above […]
  • Antinoupolis in 1843 – the traveller John H. Allan
    The English traveller John H. Allan went up the Nile, and published his account, with drawings, in 1843, under the name A Pictorial Tour in the Mediterranean (online here). Coming back down the Nile from Nubia, he visited Antinoe or Antinoupolis, and included a sketch: He wrote as follows: January 31st. – Sheik Abadeh, site […]
  • Antinoupolis today
    After my last post about Antinoupolis in Egypt in the Napoleonic period, I find that Google Maps can give us interesting pictures of the modern site, a village named Sheikh Ibada / Abada / Ebada (etc). I also learn from this site that the revolution in Egypt has been a disaster for the site, where the […]
  • The lost city of Antinoupolis in Egypt, as seen by Napoleon’s expedition
    The emperor Hadrian founded (or refounded) a city in Egypt which he called Antinoupolis or Antinoe, in memory of his favourite Antinous.  The city was of considerable extent, and existed into the Islamic period. The ruins were destroyed in the 19th century for building materials to erect a sugar factory.  However they were still visible […]
  • Snapshots of the secret world
    They play an unacknowledged part in our universe, yet when they vanish few remember them, and there are no records of what they looked like or contain. For the last few years, there have been a number of websites which contain large numbers of books in PDF or other format, making them available for free […]
  • From my diary
    My house is still being painted.  My books are still in 70 plastic crates in the garage.  But this weekend I’ve managed to sneak my laptop back into the house.  I’ve brought in the router and got my internet working again! It is such a relief to be able to get online at home.  I can […]
  • Petronius Secundus, Prefect of Egypt, at the Colossi of Memnon
    The “Colossi of Memnon” at Luxor in Egypt were a recognised tourist sight in antiquity, because one of them made a “singing” noise at dawn.  Few will be aware that the lower portions of the statues are covered with ancient graffiti and inscriptions. Among these, I learn from David Blocker, is an inscription by “Petronius”.  This […]
  • From my diary
    I have lived at my current address for nearly 20 years.  When I took possession, on 10th February 1998, I was staying in a hotel with my property in storage.  So I arranged for the place to be painted throughout before I moved in, on the 20th.  I have never been able to arrange for […]
  • A Japanese Edo-period woodblock image of the Roman forum
    Here’s a curiosity!  Have you ever wondered what Rome would look like, to someone from the alien cultures of China or Japan? David Blocker kindly emailed me the following image, which he found on Wikipedia here.  It was made by a Japanese artist who had never seen Rome, and to whom a ruined stone city was utterly […]
  • The letter of Tiberius to Pilate (Epistola Tiberii ad Pilatum)
    A little while ago I wrote a post on the apocryphal Letter of Pilate to Tiberius, which is a Latin text of the renaissance period.  Perhaps it was written as a composition exercise, or something, but it is not ancient. A correspondent asked me about the date of another item in the same bunch of […]
  • More paintings of the Meta Sudans
    The vanished Roman fountain next to the Colosseum, demolished by Mussolini, but not before being photographed, is a long-term interest of mine.  In its later years, the monument was only half its former height.  But if we look at older paintings of the scene, we can see how it was during the 18th century. A […]
  • Materials for the study of the Ethiopian version of the history of al-Makin
    The Arabic Christian historians are largely unknown.  Starting in the 9th century, the main ones are Agapius, Eutychius, al-Makin, Bar Hebraeus, and one whom I always forget [Yahya ibn Said al-Antaki]. Al-Makin wrote in the 13th century, and contains a version of the Testimonium Flavianum of Josephus, which appears in Shlomo Pines’ much-read but much-misunderstood […]
  • A parchment fragment of Agrippa Castor “Against Basilides”?
    A correspondent writes to tell me that there is a 5th century parchment item in the Bodleian Library in Oxford – a fragment from Egypt, of course – listed in the catalogue here, which the cataloguer attributes to Agrippa Castor: Shelfmark:  MS. Gr. th. g. 3 (P) Summary Catalogue no:  31812 Summary of contents: Theological controversy […]
  • Reasons to hate Microsoft, part 2
    A beautiful morning, I have just got up, and already I hate Microsoft. That’s because part of my routine is to turn on my laptop and look at my email.  This I did and … it wouldn’t let me in. I don’t have a password on my laptop; it never leaves my house, and only […]
  • Al-Aktal on “halal” food
    While reading this post by Nassim Nicholas Taleb yesterday, I encountered the following interesting statement: .. the 7th Century Christian Arab poet Al-Akhtal made a point to never eat halal meat, in his famous defiant poem boasting his Christianity: “I do not eat sacrificial flesh” The article is talking about ways in which a minority can […]
  • A new translation of Agapius into Italian, plus the publication of two more pages of the text
    A correspondent has drawn our attention to a rarity – a new translation of the Arabic Christian writer, Agapius of Hierapolis (or Mahbub ibn Qustantin, in the graceless phrase of that language).  It is a translation into Italian, by Bartolomeo Pirone, who translated Eutychius back in the 80s.  Here’s the front cover: Bartolomeo Pirone, Agapio […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 1 (part 1)
    In the name of God, One, Pre-Eternal, Everlasting, without beginning or end, to whom we resort. 1. Let us begin, with the help of the Most High God and the goodness of His assistance, to write the Book of History, compiled critically and with verification, the work of Patriarch Eutychius, called Sa‘īd ibn Batrīq. God, powerful and exalted, created the world, […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – preface
    The Arabic Christian historians are very little known.  But they preserve Byzantine historian material, and indeed materials from elsewhere also.  No English translations exist of their works; indeed some have not even been printed in the original language.  The first two are Agapius and Eutychius.  I don’t know Arabic, but a few years ago I […]
  • Two postcards of the Colosseum and the Arch of Titus (and the Meta Sudans)
    I found two 19th century postcards, taken from the Palatine, looking towards the Colosseum, at this site, which also includes many other interesting images. Note how the Basilica of Maxentius is enclosed in some now demolished building! And this:
  • From my diary
    It’s been a little while since I posted an update.  Of course it is summer, here at Pearse Towers, and I spend my days frolicking in the sunshine, away from the laptop.  Or perhaps not. In truth the weather has discouraged indoor pursuits until this week.  Such time as I can spare from lazing around is […]
  • An 18th century image of the Meta Sudans in a prospect of the Colosseum
    I came across an image on Twitter which shows the Colosseum, but also the ruined fountain that used to stand next to it, the Meta Sudans.  Here it is (click to enlarge): The tweeter had found it online “somewhere”.  Fortunately it is not too hard to locate: this is Prospetto dell’anfiteatro Flavio … detto volgarmente il […]
  • al-Masudi on Christian Arabic historical writings
    The early Islamic historian al-Masudi has this passage in his Kitāb at-tanbīh wa’l-ishrāf: One of those who belong to the Maronite religion, known under the name of Qays [ = Nafis?] al-Maruni, wrote a good book about history:  starting from the Creation, and then all the [sacred] books, [the history] of the city, of the […]
  • More old photographs of Rome
    Quite by accident, via the Daily Mail, I find this 1846 photograph online, taken by the Rev. Calvert Richard Jones (click for a larger size): The circular area to the right is the basin for the Meta Sudans, the now vanished fountain outside the Colosseum.  The man in the top hat, and the woman in the […]
  • A supposed Mithraic mosaic, with zodiac, unearthed in Bursa / Prusa
    A news report from the Turkish website, the Daily Sabah, on 19th August 2016, contains a photo and a curious story: A Roman-era “Mithras Mosaic,” dating back nearly two millennia and depicting solar and astrological signs from the Roman zodiac has been discovered during archeological excavations in the Hisar region of the ancient province of […]
  • An almost forgotten anti-Christian jibe by Golding, misquoting Richard Sisson, “Answering Christianity’s most puzzling questions”
    I’m purging my shelves at the moment, and I came across a volume which I bought only because of an online argument.  I can’t help feeling that I dealt with this online long ago, but if so I cannot find it.  So let me document here what was claimed, and the facts, and then I can […]
  • Did the Catholic church oppose street lights? Some notes on the Papal States in the 1830s
    A couple of days ago, I happened to see a brand new anti-Catholic slur online on Instagram. Here’s the item: It’s not spread that far as yet, but claims to be from – a US humour site. The poster makes three claims: The Catholic Church opposed street lights. In 1831, Pope Gregory XVI even […]
  • Anthony Alcock: translation Wansleben’s1671 account of Coptic church
    Anthony Alcock has translated a curiosity for us: an account of the state of the Coptic church in Egypt made by a certain Johann Michael Wansleben, and published in 1671.  Wansleben was a Lutheran traveller who hoped to reach Ethiopia.  His book is an account of Egypt as it then was. Here is Dr Alcock’s […]
  • A note on the authenticity of Eusebius of Caesarea’s “Commentary on the Psalms”
    In Rondeau’s account of ancient Christian commentaries on the psalms, there is naturally a section on the commentary by Eusebius of Caesarea.  It contains an interesting footnote on the authenticity of the text.  But first, a few words about this little known item. Eusebius is a writer whom we do not usually associate with exegesis.  But […]
  • From my diary
    I’m now on holiday, and starting to feel vaguely normal again.  Our working lives may be a blessing from God, but they do take it out of us! I’ve been working on the Mithras site, or trying to.  It is remarkable how technology has changed in a couple of years.  The front-end technology that I […]
  • The manuscripts of Philostratus’ “Life of Apollonius of Tyana”
    The Life of Apollonius of Tyana by Philostratus is a curious text with an evil history.  It was perhaps originally composed in the Severan period, quite innocently, as a mainly fictional work based partly on earlier sources about the pagan sage of the last first century AD. But it was then used, and perhaps re-edited, […]
  • Catenas on the Psalms – two important French works now online!
    Great news!  A correspondent writes to say that two important French works on commentaries and catenae on the Psalms are now available online in full: 1) M.-J. Rondeau, Les Commentaires patristiques du Psautier (IIIe-Ve siècles), 2 vols, OCA 219-220, Roma 1982, 1985.  Vol. 1: Vol. 2: 2) G. Dorival, Les chaînes exégétiques grecques sur les […]
  • The new Chronica Tertullianea et Cyprianea is out
    Those interested in the Latin fathers prior to Nicaea will be aware of the annual list of publications, the Chronica Tertullianea et Cyprianea, published each year in the Revue des études Augustiniennes (et Patristiques) by the Institut d’études augustiniennes in Paris.  This invaluable resource has appeared each year since 1974, initially covering just Tertullian, and […]
  • A curious bibliography: Angelo Uggeri and his “Journées pittoresques”, “Ichnografia”, “Icnografia degli Edifizj” etc
    The most accessible early account, of the discovery of an ancient house in the grounds of the Villa Negroni in Rome, is by Camillo Massimo in 1836.  But for his source, Massimo refers to a mysterious volume which is online, but nearly impossible to find. Massimo writes: Una esatta descrizione di quattro delle suddette Camere, […]
  • A visit to the ancient Roman house in the Villa Negroni – rooms A and B
    Let’s return to 1777, and continue our visit to the ancient Roman house uncovered in the fields of the Villa Negroni. We shall descend into the pit, ably drawn by our English friend Thomas Jones.  It’s rather damp down there!  Since we’ve not been here before, I attach at the end the floor plan. We […]
  • The Bloodsucker Award, July 2016 – the Royal Institute of British Architects
    In my last post, I quoted the Tate Gallery catalogue for Thomas Jones’ 1777 painting of the excavations of the Roman house in the Villa Negroni.  This referred to drawings and a plan by a certain Thomas Hardwick, in the “RIBA collection”. Well!  Thanks to Google, I have discovered what the “RIBA” might be – […]
  • A visit to the Roman house at the Villa Negroni
    Imagine that the year is 1777.  Let’s go to the open fields to the east of the Baths of Diocletian.   I hear that a Roman house has been discovered in the fields of the Villa Negroni! The house lies between the Viminal and Esquiline hills.  As we approach from the north-east side, we can see […]
  • An early account of the Roman villa at the Villa Negroni in Rome
    Pre-scientific accounts of archaeology can be very vague.  The 1777 discovery of a magnificent Roman house, near what is now Termini station in Rome, is naturally not properly documented.  It does not help that the area of ground – a farm within the walls, essentially – goes under various names, such as the Villa Peretti, […]
  • I brought this back from Italy, my boy! – paintings from the Villa Negroni
    Last weekend I visited Ickworth House in Suffolk, the family home of the Marquess of Bristol.  An earlier Lord Bristol travelled to Italy on the Grand Tour, and brought back with him a taste for Italian architecture: and the curious structure of the house reflects this.  There is a huge central rotunda, with the entrance, family rooms, […]
  • Where do you go to, my hateful?
    Where have all the atheist forums (sic) gone? I was reading Twitter earlier this evening, and did a search on “atheism”. I found some stale jeering, a few self-important or foolish tweets; and a mass of muslim propaganda.  If ever I saw an area dying for lack of participants, it was this. This made me think […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18c (part 4)
    The discussion of the events of the Muslim conquest fills many a page of Eutychius.  I confess that it doesn’t excite me.  Much of the material seems written with an eye to the events, not of the 7th century, but of the 10th, and to safeguarding church property – always an important concern for senior clergy, […]
  • Archellites – a 10th century Coptic poem, translated by Anthony Alcock
    Anthony Alcock has sent me another translation from Coptic.  There is a collection of 10th century Coptic poems, which were published in Oriens Christianus (the volumes are online at  One of these is about the martyr Archellites.  Here it is: archellites_alcock_2016 (PDF) There is no historical content to this, but it is useful to have […]
  • Some notes on the sermon of Nectarius of Constantinople on the martyr Theodore Tiro (CPG 4300 / BHG 1768)
    On the first Saturday of Lent, the Greek church prescribes the reading of two sermons from the Fathers, both of them in praise of an obscure saint, Theodore Tiro, of Amasea.  The first sermon is by Gregory of Nyssa; the second by the much more obscure Nectarius of Constantinople (d. 397 AD).  The latter work […]
  • Old photographs of the Nemi ships
    Here are some photographs that I found online about the massive pleasure barges of Caligula, excavated from Lake Nemi during the 30s, on the orders of Mussolini, placed in a “Museum of Roman navigation” by him, and then destroyed in 1944 during the fighting.  Worth looking at… and feeling sad about. There were two barges, […]
  • The serpent column in Constantinople in early printed books
    More and more early printed books are becoming available online.  Fortunately the German libraries are scanning them at high resolution.  This includes the line-drawings, which have hitherto been difficult to access, and often only available under incredibly restrictive terms that meant only publishers could use them, and only a few.  But now, suddenly, a wealth of drawings is becoming available. […]
  • That old bull again! – the recent international conference on Mithras in Italy
    I must have missed the announcement, but Csaba Szabo kindly drew my attention to his report on an international conference on Mithraic studies in Italy.  About 50 people attended.  Sadly the long-exploded Cumont theory was in evidence in some papers.  But it sounds as if it was an interesting event. The main impression that I gained […]
  • Qasr Bashir – A Roman fortlet in Jordan
    I found this marvellous photograph of a Roman fortlet in the Jordanian desert on Twitter here.  The tweeter also added: Great photos & interesting survey diagrams of Qasr Bashir done by Brunnow & Domaszewsky in 1897 here. More useful to most of us is a nice blog post here, with many photographs and plans, to […]
  • Scribes removing paganism from Galen’s “On my own opinions”?
    In 2005 a bored PhD student, left hanging around the catalogue desk at the Vlatades Monastery in Thessalonika, looked through the catalogue and discovered a previously unknown Greek manuscript of the works of the 2nd century medical writer, Galen.  The Ms. Thessalonicensis Vlatadon 14 contained complete Greek texts of several works previously known only from fragments […]
  • WARNING!!! Fragments of Euripides “Palamedes” NOT rediscovered in Jerusalem
    On June 21 2016 I wrote a post here to the effect that fragments of the lost play, “Palamedes”, by Euripides had been found in a manuscript in Jerusalem by Dr Felix Albrecht.  This I based on other internet reports, in German, which themselves seem to misunderstand the sitiuation. But after communicating with Dr Albrecht, I find […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18c (part 3)
    The reign of the Caliph Omar continues, with the seige of Damascus.  The Roman garrison defends the city against what is seen at the time as merely a large-scale raid.  But in the end, after six months, the governor surrenders. 6. When the Muslims arrived at Damascus, Khalid ibn al-Walid camped near the “Bab ash-Sharqi”, Abu Ubayda ibn al-Garrah near the […]
  • The owner of the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” papyrus unmasked!
    Back in 2012 a Harvard “religious studies” academic named Karen King announced the discovery of a papyrus fragment containing a Coptic text which referred to Jesus having a wife.  It takes little knowledge of the methods of commercial forgers to see why someone would forge such a thing.  Nor is it hard to see why a […]
  • Roman statue used for “alien relic” in album cover
    We forget, sometimes, how extraordinary the remains of antiquity really are, when seen for the first time. Look at this: An album by progressive rock group Magellan, it depicts a fantasy scene.  But the head will be familiar to many of us, because it is a real monument… the head of the monster statue of […]
  • Text and translation of three Coptic stelae – by Anthony Alcock
    We don’t do a lot with inscriptions here.  But I wonder if people realise that there are inscriptions in Coptic?  I certainly never thought about this; but there are. Anthony Alcock has made a text and English translation of three stone stelae, which have Coptic inscriptions.  These are from various locations around Egypt. 3_Coptic_Stelae_alcock_2016 (PDF) Fascinating! […]
  • The manuscript tradition of the works of John the Lydian
    John the Lydian was an antiquarian writer of the 6th century AD, whose career flourished under Justinian.  His three works, De magistratibus Romanis, De Ostentis, and De Mensibus, all are full of information about Roman origins.  John wrote in Greek but knew Latin, and sought to transmit to the future information that was already fading […]
  • Euthymius Zigabenus, Commentary on the Psalms – edition and translation completed!
    A few months ago I heard from John Raffan, who was industriously working on a translation of the immense Commentary on the Psalms by the 12th century Byzantine writer, Euthymius Zigabenus (or Zigadenus).  He had posted on his page a draft of the commentary for Psalms 1-75. Today I hear from him that he […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18c (part 2)
    We continue our “grey translation” of Eutychius, and the reign of the Caliph Omar.  The treacherous governor of Damascus, who was slighted by Heraclius, prepares to betray the Romans to the muslims. There is a reference here to a patriarch “Swrs”, which ought to be Sawirus, or Severus.  Evidently there is some problem with this. […]
  • An imperial civil servant of the time of Justinian, in John the Lydian
    While looking at John the Lydian, De magistratibus romanis, for quotations from Suetonius, I happened upon a story.  The manner of its telling is rather like Suetonius also!  It also refers to a lost work by Suetonius on famous courtesans.  But let’s have a look at the excerpt. The earthquake in Syria in the time […]
  • Rome, Quirinal hill: access to the temple of Serapis / Sol Invictus?
    Regular readers will be aware of my interest in monuments of ancient Rome which were visible, and drawn, during the renaissance, but have since vanished.  Among these was a colossal temple on the Quirinal hill, often thought to be Aurelian’s temple of Sol Invictus, but today mainly thought to be a temple of Serapis.  Much […]
  • The use of Coptic by modern Egyptians – Anthony Alcock translates
    I’ve been sent the attached PDF, which is a curiosity of great interest.  It is translated from a modern book, written entirely in modern Coptic, which Dr Alcock found on the web. Coptic_Quill_alcock_2016 (PDF) I think many of us would like to know more about how the last version of the Ancient Egyptian language is enjoying […]
  • The lost opening of Suetonius’ “The Twelve Caesars”, in John the Lydian
    The biography and actions of the first twelve Caesars, from Julius to Domitian, were immortalised by a civil servant of the age of Hadrian.  Suetonius Tranquillus in his De vita Caesarum, On the lives of the Caesars, perhaps best known in English by the title of the Penguin edition, The Twelve Caesars, created a gossipy, colourful portrait […]
  • Shenoute, On the invasions of the “Ethiopians” – translated by Anthony Alcock
    An item that Anthony Alcock translated some time ago, but did not reach me, is three texts by the 5th century Coptic abbot Shenoute, which are concerned with invasions by “Ethiopians” – presumably Nubians – at that period. It will be remembered that the temples at Philae, on the southern Egyptian border, remained open for […]
  • Shenoute – Adversus Graecos de usura / On usury, now online in English
    The excellent Anthony Alcock has made a translation of a short but interesting text by the Coptic abbot Shenoute (or Shenouda).  The Latin title is Adversus Graecos de usura, but he titles it On labour relations and usury, and seems to question whether it can be really directed against the pagans. Here is the translation: […]
  • Two photochromes of the Meta Sudans in Rome, from 1890
    A kind correspondent has pointed me to a site on mashable containing photochromes from 1890.  It’s here. But what is a photochrome?  The site says: These postcards of the ancient landmarks of Rome were produced around 1890 using the Photochrom process, which add precise gradations of artificial color to black and white photos. Invented in […]
  • A collection of 31 (?) rolls and codices found in a jar: the Bodmer / Chester Beatty “papyri”
    Sometime in the 1940s, an Egyptian peasant found a large jar full of ancient gnostic books, at a place today known as Nag Hammadi.  The books passed into the art market, and caused a sensation, and various dealers made money on the find. The news made its way back to the region.  This stirred other peasants to […]
  • 19th century treatments of palimpsests with chemicals
    The British Library assigns its Syriac manuscripts to the “Asian and African Studies” department.  The people there are far easier to deal with than the people in Western Manuscripts.  They also run a blog which from time to time contains frankly wonderful material. One such post was made back in September 2013, and I have […]
  • Why should I ever buy another reference book? Give me a PDF!
    Recently I needed to consult a translation of an ancient author.  I don’t own paper copies of very many translations, and I never knowingly buy books that I will not read and reread.  But unusually for me, I did own a copy of this volume in printed form. However when I searched for it, it was nowhere to […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18c (part 1)
    We move now to the second Caliph.  Heraclius is still Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire.  Yezdigerd has managed to become the Sassanid Persian king of kings, after much bloodletting, and enjoys a shadowy authority.  As the Islamic hordes prepare to overrun the world, the nominally Christian ruling class of the Roman empire is engaged in […]
  • Proclus of Constantinople, “Encomium on St Nicholas of Myra”, now online in English
    I have another piece for you of the ancient literature about St Nicholas of Myra.  This is an encomium which is found in the manuscripts among the sermons of Proclus, the 5th century Patriarch of Constantinople.  Although it has acquired his name, it is really anonymous.  Bryson Sewell completed a draft of the translation, and Andrew […]
  • Paypal and “We’re sorry, but we can’t send your payment right now.”
    Paypal is pretty much the only game in town for online payments.  But as with every monopoly, that causes poor customer service. I needed to pay a translator yesterday, but I fumbled.  I entered the wrong password three times.  When I did manage to log in, I entered the details of my payment – to […]
  • A drawing of the Meta Sudans by Piranesi
    A correspondent kindly drew my attention to this page on Wikimedia Commons, where there is a drawing published in 1756 by Piranesi, from Le antichità Romane vol. 1, pl. 36, of the Arch of Constantine, and the now destroyed fountain, the Meta Sudans.  The scans were made in Japan from a 19th century reprint. Here is a […]
  • The hairstyle of Julia Domna
    Via Ticia Verveer on Twitter I came across this unusual item, today held in the Metropolitan Museum in New Year.  It is a gem, a beryl, an intaglio – i.e. an incised – portrait of Julia Domna, the wife of the emperor Septimius Severus.  According to the museum, it is 2.4 cms in height – just under an […]
  • From my diary
    A translation of another piece on Nicholas of Myra has arrived.  This is the Laudatio S. Nicholai, found in the manuscripts of the sermons of Proclus of Constantinople – early 5th century – but is clearly not by him.  Once I’ve paid for it, I will release it online.
  • From my diary
    My apologies for the test posts.  Twitter insists on displaying an image with every notification of a post made here, and it’s always blank unless I include an image.  I’ve just been tweaking the theme to ensure that an image is always displayed.  It took 3 goes to get right!
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18b (part 2)
    We now get the first significant chunk of Islamic history. 5. When Abu Bakr became caliph, there was the first riddah [war] among the Arabs, but he fought those who did not remain in Islam to the end.  Then he sent Khalid ibn al-Walid with a huge army into Iraq.  Khalid encamped in Mesopotamia.  The […]
  • Manuscript of Eusebius’ Quaestiones ad Stephanum/Marinum now online!
    Readers may remember that a few years ago I published a translation of Eusebius of Caesarea’s Gospel Problems and Solutions (Quaestiones ad Stephanum et Marinum).  Today I learn from a correspondent that the main manuscript, Vaticanus Palatinus Graecus 220, has been digitised and is now online at the Vatican website!  Folios 61-91 contain the work, which […]
  • In Memoriam: Eve Parkes (d. 2016), Interlibrary loans officer at Ipswich Library
    Scholarship depends more than we sometimes admit on the support that we receive from library staff.  I learned today that the lady, who for almost two decades has handled my interlibrary loans, died suddenly in the street.  I’d like to acknowledge what she did for me, although she was a stranger to me. I first became seriously […]
  • Paul the Persian: Zoroastrianism is incoherent, but science is a better guide
    In my last post, we found Armenian writer Eznik of Kolb stating that the Avesta was not in written form in his own time, the 5th century AD.  This information came to us via Zaehner’s book on Zurvan. Zaehner also gives us a comment on Zoroastrianism by none other than Paul the Persian!  This obscure writer will be […]
  • Eznik of Kolb: the Avesta was not transmitted in writing but orally
    A tweet by @BLAsia_Africa led me to a neglected passage in Eznik of Kolb, the 5th century Armenian writer, and a quotation from Paul the Persian!  From it I learned that: …the Avesta was transmitted orally and not written down! The author drew this conclusion after reading some remarks by R. C. Zaehner in 1955: However, […]
  • A couple of pictures of the start and end of Melito’s “De pascha” (On Easter)
    Until 1940 Melito of Sardis was an obscure figure of the 2nd century AD, known mainly from Eusebius, who mentioned that he wrote a work on Easter.  In that year there appeared an edition and translation of On Easter (De Pascha).  It was based on a 4th c. papyrus codex which had come from Egypt. This had been broken […]
  • 1606 Aegidius Sadeler print of the Colosseum and Meta Sudans
    Here is another old print (from 1606, by Aegidius Sadeler) of the Colosseum and a curious view of the Meta Sudans to the right.  I found it here.  Click on the picture to get the full size image. The site adds: Rare and early copper engravings by Aegidius Sadeler (c. 1570-1629)from Vestigi delle antichita di […]
  • Coptic “Life” of Maximus and Domitius
    Anthony Alcock has continued his invaluable series of translations of Coptic literature.  The new item is a translation of the hagiographic Life of Saints Maximus and Domitius, who were brothers.  He adds a preface – read all about it! Maximus and Domitius_Alcock_2016 (PDF) There is an article online in the Coptic Encyclopedia here, from which I learn […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18b (part 1)
    We now come to the start of the portion of the Annals where the Muslims take centre stage.  But there is still some Roman and Sassanid Persian history to run. CALIPHATE OF ABU BAKR (11-13 / 632-634) 1. The Muslims were unanimous in giving the bay`ah to Abu Bakr, i.e. to ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Uthman b. […]
  • Some post-renaissance paintings of the Meta Sudans
    Regular readers will be aware that I am interested in the Meta Sudans, a Roman fountain that stood in Rome outside the Colosseum, and behind the Arch of Constantine, until it was demolished by Mussolini in the 1930s.  By that time it was merely a stump, but earlier representations show that it was originally much […]
  • What patristic authors are extant in Old Slavonic?
    An interesting volume came into my hands lately: Regarding your question as to what patristic works have been translated into Old Slavonic, the best resource to check with is a catalogue of the Old Slavonic texts prepared by a group of Russian scholars two years ago: Katalog Pam’jatnikov drevnerusskoj pismennosti XI-XIV vv. (rukopisnyje knigi), Studiorum […]
  • From my diary
    Brady Kiesling has kindly sent me a translation from the Greek of codex 186 of Photius’ Bibliotheca.  I have added it to the translations that I have online here.  My list of all the codices – sections – in the Bibliotheca is here. Photius’ work, composed in the 9th century, consists of summaries of the content […]
  • “I have run away. Seize me!” – a slave collar of the time of Constantine, and other similar items
    Roman society was a brutal place.  At the bottom of the heap were slaves, who could endure a very unpleasant time.  Not unnaturally, some of them ran away; and some were recaptured. In the museum in Rome in the Baths of Diocletian, there is a slave collar on display. Here are some images of it (click on the […]
  • P. Petaus 30: A letter describing a travelling book dealer
    A tweet today from Sarah Bond drew my attention to an interesting papyrus: 2nd c letter of touring bookseller hawking small membranae (parchment codices) Details of the papyrus may be found here, with full-size photographs of recto and verso.  It was first published in 1969. The papyrus was written around 150 AD by a scribe named […]
  • Why does the date of Easter move about so much?
    Very few people seem to understand how the date of Easter is calculated, or why.  I am not among that select group!  I am deeply ignorant of the details.  But I thought that I would share what I do understand, because most people don’t even know as much as I do.  And it is Good […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18 (part 2)
    Heraclius arrives at Jerusalem, and massacres the Jews.  6. When he entered the city and saw that everything had been destroyed and burned by the Persians, he felt a deep sadness; then when he saw that Modestus had [re]constructed the Church of the Resurrection, of the Skull and the church of Mar Constantine, he felt great joy and thanked […]
  • Is Easter really Astarte, a Babylonian goddess (or festival)?
    It is terribly easy for the learned and scholarly readers of this blog – and even its author – to forget that most people in this world honestly have no idea about history at all.  To the ordinary man, the present fills almost his entire field of view.  To him history is a kind of […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18 (part 1)
    Let us venture into the second part of the history by Eutychius.  It opens with the reign of Heraclius and his war against the Sassanid Persian king Chosroes. PART TWO. FROM HERACLIUS TO AR-RĀDĪ (610-934) 1. In the first year of the reign of Heraclius, king of Rum, there took place the Hegira of the Prophet to […]
  • The posts containing the translation of Eutychius’ “Annals”
    I’ve been working away on translating the Annals by the 10th century Melkite patriarch of Alexandria, Eutychius (or Sa`id ibn Bitriq, to give him his Arabic name).  Inevitably there are quite a lot, and a quick way to access them is useful. A kind correspondent has marched through them all, and I have created a […]
  • Eutychius: an interlude
    My last chunk of the Annals of Sa`id ibn Bitriq, better known as Eutychius, the 10th century Melkite patriarch of Alexandria, took us up to the accession of Heraclius as Emperor of the East.  This concluded chapter 17, in Pirone’s Italian translation; and also concluded part 1 of the work.  A division into two halves […]
  • An 1860 photograph of the Meta Sudans
    Another old photograph of the Meta Sudans has appeared online via Roma Ieri Oggi, this time on Twitter.  What makes this one interesting is the angle; it is taken with the Palatine hill in the background.  Here it is:
  • TES article calls for translation of Latin, Greek, to be valid research goals
    An important article by Dr Emma Gee of St Andrews University has appeared in the Times Higher Education supplement here. Recently, an audience of “disadvantaged” 16-year-olds listened with rapt attention when I read from my translation of Lucretius’ On the Nature of the Universe. Written around 55BC, this is the first surviving full-scale account of a […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 17 (part 9 and end)
    The Persian king Chosroes II (=’Kisra’) began his campaign against the Eastern Roman empire under the usurper Phocas.  As the Persian troops overthrew Byzantine rule in Palestine, a Jewish revolt broke out.  Eventually Phocas was assassinated by Heraclius, with whom this chapter ends. 26. So he sent to Jerusalem one of his generals named Harwazayh, to […]
  • A painting of the “temple of Serapis” / “Aurelian’s temple of Sol Invictus”
    In the 16th century there were a number of ancient monuments in Rome which have since disappeared.  Among these was a massive temple on the Quirinal Hill, which was generally thought to be the Temple of Sol Invictus dedicated by the emperor Aurelian in 274 AD, but today is thought to be the temple of […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 17 (part 8)
    My, this is a long chapter.  But it brings the whole pre-Islamic period to an end, so we’re stuck with it.  The narrative of Chosroes II continues. 24. When Kisra came to Maurice, king of Rum, he was received with very great honors and granted many soldiers in aid.  With the soldiers that Maurice had given him, […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 17 (part 7)
    Let’s carry on with events in the century from Justinian to Heraclius and the rise of Islam.  Eutychius now returns to events in Persia, where the new King Hormizd IV made himself unpopular and was murdered.  His son Chosroes II fled to the emperor Maurice for help.  This seemingly trivial action was to have immense […]
  • Has the lost “De baptismo” of Melito of Sardis been rediscovered in Coptic?
    Alin Suciu has been undertaking the thankless task of sifting through Coptic patristic papyri.  It looks as if he may have struck gold!  A new second-century patristic text, no less!  From his blog: At the Coptic congress, which this year will be held in Claremont, California, I will speak about the discovery of Melito of […]
  • Keep christian literature out of the classics!
    Today I saw a series of tweets which started with Tertullian’s Ad Nationes – a work rich in quotations from Varro – and then read as follows: @hashtagoras: Tertullian v neglected by classicists, methinks. @b_hawk: I’ve a feeling Tertullian is often relegated to religious studies, & often used more for contextual info. @hashtagoras: By virtue […]
  • Bar Hebraeus, Chronicon Ecclesiasticum – English translation published
    David Wilmshurst writes to tell me that a really important book has finally come out – the first English translation of Bar Hebraeus, Chronicon Ecclesiasticum, is now available from Gorgias Press as The Ecclesiastical Chronicle, ISBN 978-1-4632-0535-5.  It’s a mighty 590 pages long, but sadly it costs $140 although various discounts are readily available. The work consists […]
  • Where St Nicholas lived (if he did) – a paper on the city of Myra
    A correspondent draws my attention to a paper by Dr Engin Akyürek, Myra: the city of St. Nicholas, which is online at here.  Those who have followed the posts about Nicholas of Myra may find it interesting and useful, as the author discusses the physical layout of the ancient city.  That is something known […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 17 (part 6)
    Agapius now begins the events of the reign of the emperor Maurice.  This chunk ends with an oriental tale, with which authors of histories of that period evidently were obliged to lace their narratives.  17. Then Justin the Younger, King of Rum, died.  After him there reigned over Rum Tiberius, for four years.  This happened in […]
  • Ezekiel the Tragedian’s play on Moses; quoted by Eusebius, found at Oxyrhynchus
    A number of news reports have circulated this week about the finds of Greek literature at Oxyrhynchus.  One of the better ones is in the Daily Mail, which has been running a lot of articles on subjects of interest lately.  The report by James Dunn (2 March 2016) is here.  It’s based on an article […]
  • A quote from Tacitus and its source
    Around the web, you will find the following: Cornelius Tacitus: He had a certain frankness and generosity, qualities indeed which turn to a mans ruin, unless tempered with discretion. The thought was striking, as indeed it should strike anyone who is fairly open, like myself.  But is it Tacitus? Well it is!  It is in […]
  • From my diary
    I’m on holiday, and not doing very much, other than dealing with some of minor nuisances that fill our days if we are not careful.  I have no desire to do anything very demanding!  I’m browsing twitter for anything of interest to us, and finding it rather full of tedious hooting and shouting about US […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 17 (part 5)
    The reign of Justinian continues, and after him Justin II.  We have two extracts from the lost Sassanid Persian chronicle that Eutychius has in Arabic translation.  The Persian chronicler was plainly very well-disposed towards the next Sassanid Persian king, Anūshirwān. 13. Qabād died.The years when Qabād reigned, together with the years in which Rāmāsf reigned, were around forty.  […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 17 (part 4)
    The Origenist disputes of the time of Justinian now make an appearance in the chronicle.  But was the bishop of “Manbig” (Arabic) / Mabbug (Syriac) / Hierapolis (Greek) really named Origen?  The Persian chronicle records plots against a weak king by the Zoroastrian priests. 10. In the time of king Justinian lived Origen, Bishop of […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 17 (part 3)
    The reign of Justinian continues: but we get the first mention of Islam.  4. After completing this, he returned to the king.  The king said to him: “Describe how you built the Bethlehem church.”  After hearing the description, the king did not find it to his liking and was not at all satisfied.  Great was his […]
  • A new fragment of the “Forma Urbis Romae” discovered!
    On a wall in the Forum of Peace in Rome, Septimus Severus erected a huge map of the city, at a scale of about 1:240, on 150 marble slabs, between 203-211 AD.  It was 18 x 13m in size, approximately, and held on with iron pins.  This map is today known as the Forma Urbis Romae.  The wall is […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 17 (part 2)
    A revolt of the Samaritans is put down – Mar Saba requests a reduction in the land tax from Justinian, because Palestine was ruined – Justinian orders that the church of the Nativity in Jerusalem is rebuilt. 3. From the time when Proterius, patriarch of Alexandria, was killed and burned, to the time when Apollinaris killed the Jacobites […]
  • 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 hagiographer confesses: “I made it up”
    We sometimes wonder just how hagiographical texts came into being.  It’s obvious that the majority are a form of folk-story, rather than accurate narrative.  But wouldn’t it be nice if we actually had some information from the author of such a text? Today I came across an interesting passage in an otherwise tedious and annoying book […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 16 (part 5 and last)
    This next portion of the Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c.), also known as Sa`id ibn Batriq, starts with three theological paragraphs.  Since I don’t actually understand the points at issue here, even in English, it isn’t possible for me to translate them; and I doubt many of us are interested in them.  The three paragraphs […]
  • From my diary
    I’m now on a much needed holiday, and I have been disposing of various minor tasks.  My long-serving inkjet failed at the weekend – well, it was 12 years old! – and had to be replaced, so that I could fulfil an order for a CD of the Additional Fathers collection.  This CD needs revising and […]
  • Did Constantine put the Jews to death at Passover? A passage in Eutychius
    In a comment here on an old post, an interesting question is raised: Hi, do you have a translation of Patrologiae Graeca 111, pages 1012-13 where Eutychius talks about how Constantine killed the Jewish Christians on Passover? The link is to column (not page) 1012 in PG 111. Doing a google search for a […]
  • A challenge for Greek language nerds! What do you make of *this*?!
    One of the texts for St Nicholas of Myra is a beast and a monster.  No matter how good your Greek is, it is bafflingly hard.  Part of the problem is that it is written in a poetic style – the editor, Anrich, even marks the cadences with <> marks!  The opening section is highly […]
  • From my diary
    The legends of St Nicholas of Myra, or Santa Claus, became known in the West through a Life composed by a certain John the Deacon, probably in the 9th century.  It was based on Greek models, especially – as it says in the prologue – on the letter of Methodius to Theodorus which has given translators […]
  • “Non licet esse vos” – a modern politician’s wife writes…
    Sometimes you see something so outrageously false in the press that it becomes amusing, and so it was today. Sarah Vine, better known as the wife of British Conservative politician Michael Gove, wrote an article in the Daily Mail today: Why Islam is a feminist issue: Most Muslims lead decent lives. But, ignored by the PC brigade, […]
  • Nicholas of Myra – the story of the generals, and of the three innocents – now online
    David Miller has kindly made us a translation of another of the legends of St Nicholas, a.k.a. Santa Claus.  This one is the Praxis de stratelatis, (BHG 1349z) which recounts how Nicholas dealt with three generals and also how the governor tried to execute three innocent men.  The narrative displays considerable knowledge of events of […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve got a translation of another legend of St Nicholas of Myra ready for release as soon as I can find some time.  This is a translation of De Stratelatis.  I’ve also commissioned a translation of the Encomium of Methodius ad Theodorum – it will be interesting to see if we have more luck this […]
  • Notes on the Life of Nicholas of Myra by John the Deacon
    Frequently listed among the important sources for the legends of St Nicholas of Myra is the Life written in Latin by John the Deacon.  This is not printed in Anrich’s collection of Greek sources, which is a nuisance.  Various versions of John’s text were created in the Middle Ages, and there is a translation of […]
  • The Roman dice tower from Vettweiss-Froitzheim (=Vettweiß-Froitzheim Römisches Würfelturm aus Bronze)
    Here’s a picture of a rather interesting item – a pyrgus or Roman dice tower, used to throw dice and prevent dishonest manipulation of the dice: I found myself wondering what the other sides look like.  It wasn’t easy to find out much, so I thought I’d write up what I found. Via this forum, […]
  • Nicholas of Myra in the Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca
    The Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca (3rd ed) gives a list of hagiographical texts about St Nicholas of Myra, the origin of our Santa Claus. As I am commissioning translations, I thought that I would run through this, in an abbreviated way, and see just what there is listed.  Nothing like typing it out, to get a […]
  • No grant from the Arts Council to translate Methodius from Old Slavonic
    Last summer I wrote to the Arts Council, enquiring whether they would sponsor a translation of a couple of long works by Methodius of Olympus from Old Slavonic.  I usually pay for translations myself, but in this case the cost was beyond what I can reasonably afford myself. I was willing to pay a significant part […]
  • Hero of Alexandria, on the making of automata
    The technical works of antiquity are not well known, not least because modern technical knowledge is often necessary to understand them.  For instance a reading of an alchemical work may well baffle anyone without a Chemistry degree!  So … they go untranslated and unread. Four years ago I listed the works of the engineer, Hero of Alexandria, […]
  • Legends of St Nicholas of Myra: the miracle of the tax (Praxis de tributo, recension 1) now online in English
    Considering how important Santa Claus is to our culture, it has always seemed remarkable to me that the medieval sources for whatever stories we tell about him – or rather St Nicholas of Myra, his prototype – remained untranslated.  I’ve had a few translations made, and here is another.  This is a short medieval story about […]
  • Severian of Gabala conference in November 2016
    A call for papers has reached me for a conference in Leuven on Chrysostom and Severian of Gabala, talking about their exegetical strategies.  Lots of good speakers are planned, and I suspect most of it will be in English. One of the main items will be Severian’s commentary on the six days of creation in […]
  • Shenoute – Against the Pagan Philosopher. Now online in English
    Dr Anthony Alcock has just sent me another of his excellent translations from Coptic.  This one is an oration by the 4th century Father Shenoute, the most important figure in Coptic monasticism, against a pagan philosopher (Ad philosophum gentilem).  He has helpfully included an introduction and notes.  Here it is: Shenoute-Ad philosophum gentilem_Alcock_2016 (PDF) It is wonderful […]
  • ‘Finding a home’ for copies of about 500 periodical articles and monographs on Tertullian
    Dr Ian Balfour is retiring, and writes: While working on a Ph.D. thesis on Tertullian in the 1970s, I photocopied about 500 periodical articles and monographs on Tertullian from libraries all over the country (with appropriate permissions) and bound them in spring-back foolscap-size folders, and stored them at home. My son took over our house […]
  • Another photograph of the Meta Sudans
    Regular readers will be aware of my fascination with the Meta Sudans, the ruined Roman fountain that stood beside the Colosseum until 1936.  The Roma Ieri Oggi site tweeted another photograph.  Here it is:   There is always room here for photographs of the Meta Sudans!
  • The faces of Theodosius and his sons
    A series of tweets by the Classical Association of Northern Ireland drew my attention to a curiosity about Theodosius the Great, and his two sons Arcadius and Honorius. Let’s look first at the disk of Theodosius: Note how long the face of Theodosius is.  He was only 48 when he died.  Next, a statue of Arcadius, […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 16 (part 4)
    In response to fan mail (!), here is some more of the Annals of the Arabic Christian writer, Sa`id ibn Batriq / Eutychius of Alexandria.  This is not a translation from the Arabic, and nobody has seen fit to make one.  So I’m turning the Italian translation of Bartolomeo Pirone (itself a very rare item, […]
  • From my diary
    Two long works of Methodius of Olympus (d.311 AD) are preserved only in Old Slavonic: De Autexusio (=On Free-Will) and De Resurrectione.  Yesterday I applied for some grant money to get these translated and put online.  Wish me luck! I’ve never applied for grant funding before.  The price is just beyond my means to do; […]
  • Andrew of Crete, Encomium on St Nicholas of Myra – now online in English
    Happy new year to you all!  Here’s a belated Christmas present – a translation of Andrew of Crete’s Encomium on St Nicholas of Myra, (BHG 1362 / CPG 8187), otherwise known as Santa Claus!  It would have appeared for Christmas, except for email communication difficulties (and believe me, we had a few!).  It was kindly […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 16 (part 3)
    9. Firuz died after reigning for twenty-seven years.  Then the two sons of Firuz, i.e. Qabād and Balābis, contested for the kingdom.  Balābis got the better of Qabād and drove him off, far away from him.  Qabād repaired to Khurasan to ask Khāqān, king of the Turks, to help him against his brother. 10. Balābis reigned well, and […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 16 (part 2)
    Eutychius (=Sa`id ibn Bitriq) is still writing the history of the 5th century AD, mainly from Greek/Byzantine chroniclers.  But he also has access to an Arabic translation of a lost Persian chronicle of the Sassanid kings, and material from this is inserted at intervals.  We now return to the Sassanid history.   The major threat to […]
  • From my diary
    The Christmas and New Year holiday season has been in full swing here, although the very unseasonably warm weather – 14C most days, and warm at night – has disguised this.  We’ve even had sunny days, such as today. I’m spending this holiday quietly, as it is really the first holiday that I have had […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 16 (part 1)
    We continue our translation of the Annals of Eutychius, melkite patriarch of Alexandria.  The text has reached the second half of the 5th century AD.  Marcian became emperor in 450 AD.  At this point Eutychius (or Sa`id ibn Bitriq as he was known) again relates material from a lost Sassanid Persian chronicle.  As before, “Rum” is the Arabic name for […]
  • In Memoriam: Acharya S
    Did you know that: Mithra [sic] was born on December 25th. He was considered a great traveling teacher and master. He had 12 companions or disciples. He performed miracles. He was buried in a tomb. After three days he rose again. His resurrection was celebrated every year. Mithra was called “the Good Shepherd.” He was […]
  • When will the librarians start to throw offline literature away?
    When I started my projects, in 1997, there was little online.  To get access to books, I had to visit a major research library.  I cadged a reader’s ticket, sans borrowing privileges, and made day trips.  Once there, I browsed the stacks and photocopied and photocopied whatever I could, for an exaggerated price.  Some items – […]
  • From my diary
    As you may have seen, I have resumed translating the Annals of Eutychius (or Said ibn Bitriq as he was known in life) from the Italian translation of Bartolomeo Pirone into English, with the assistance of Google Translate. I would much prefer to translate the Arabic directly.  But since I don’t know Arabic, and I […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 15 (part 4 and end)
    7. Theodosius the Less, king of Rum, died and after him Marian reigned over Rum, for six years.  This happened in the fourteenth year of the reign of Yazdagard, son of Bahram, king of the Persians.  When Marcian became king, the bishops of each country came to him, wished him a prosperous reign and spoke of […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 15 (part 3)
    5. This was the second council which was held in the city of Ephesus.  Presiding at this council were Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria, Domnus, Patriarch of Antioch, Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem and the legates of Leo, patriarch of Rome.  They examined the case of Eutyches along with that of Eusebius, bishop of Dorilea, and Flavian, […]
  • Rome before Mussolini – what a map can tell us
    Mussolini demolished various areas of the city in order to create modern Rome.  I’ve given various photographs of the areas in the past; but today I learn that there is a zoomable map of Rome here, before his work began.  This has interesting things to show us. First, a map of the area before St Peter’s basilica.  […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve finished work for the year, and I’ve been diligently clearing away all the things in my inbox.  It’s quite a relief to do this!  But most of them are done. Six weeks ago I started a new job which means that I have done nothing about applying for funds to translate Methodius.  I will […]
  • John the Lydian – corrigenda
    Regular readers will remember that a translation of John the Lydian, On the Roman Months – a month by month explanation of the festivals of the Roman year – appeared in chunks in this blog (click here for the posts).  The translator, Mischa Hooker, has now sent in a couple of pages of corrections.  They are […]
  • The Legend of Nicholas of Myra by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, 1275
    Thanks to the excellent (and too little known) Xmas website of Caitlin R. Green, I have discovered a translation into English of the Latin version of the legend of St Nicholas of Myra (a.k.a Santa Claus).  It exists in, and in a couple of other places: but I feel that it would be seasonal […]
  • Pietro Bembo: less than 1% of ancient literature survives
    Many years ago I learned from the eminent Greek scholar N.G.Wilson that less than 1% of ancient literature survives.  He referred to an statement by Renaissance humanist, Pietro Bembo, which seemed as good as any. The work in question is the Oratio pro litteris graecis (Oration in favour of studying Greek), addressed to the rulers of […]
  • The grave of Nestorius in Egypt
    The exile of Nestorius to Egypt led him into a series of misfortunes, not all terminating with his death.  Ken Parry kindly drew my attention to a paper that he presented in 2011 on this very subject.  In fact I heard the end of this paper at the Oxford Patristics Conference, and wished that I […]
  • The Coptic martyrdom of James the Persian, aka James Intercissus, aka James the Sawn-into-small-bits
    An early Christmas present – Anthony Alcock has translated the Coptic text of the Martyrdom of James the Persian into English for us all.  This is here: James the Persian (PDF) This martyr was put to death by having 28 bits of him cut off with a saw.  I was tempted to head this post […]
  • Eusebius on the Psalms – a project for a new edition in Germany
    I heard this week about a new edition of the Eusebius Commentary on the Psalms.  It’s very good news! This monster work has survived in a rather curious fashion – the section on Psalms 51-100 has been transmitted directly, which is pretty unusual for an ancient biblical commentary.  But the sections on the other psalms are recovered […]
  • Eusebius of Caesarea: Gospel Problems and Solutions – now online in English
    Back in 2010 I published the text and translation of the remains of Eusebius of Caesarea’s Gospel Problems and Solutions.  This was the work in which he reconciled the differences at the start and end of the gospels.  The Latin title is Quaestiones ad Stephanum and Quaestiones ad Marinum. Many people contributed to the project. My intention […]
  • Photographs online about Mithras by Michael Fuller
    Archaeologist Michael Fuller, who has worked at Dura Europos, has been collecting photographs of Mithraic monuments.  He modestly writes to say: Here are a few of my webpages with images of Mithraic reliefs, altars, etc… Most of these duplicate images you already have, but a few maybe new to you. […]
  • Euthymius Zigabenus, Commentary on the Psalms – draft translation online!
    John Raffan has written a comment on another post, which deserves to be much more widely known: On the topic of translations of Greek patristic texts, I would like to announce that I have made a new edition of the Commentary on the Psalter by Euthymius Zigabenus and have started to make an English translation of the […]
  • Translation of Porphyry’s “Ad Gaurum” on ensoulment
    The technical works of antiquity tend to be neglected.  I have written before about the astrological works which, although on a subject of limited interest today, really should exist in English.  And indeed some modern enthusiasts for astrology have made such translations, and perhaps are the only people today to make use of the works […]
  • Is there a distinctive iconography for Sol Invictus?
    It’s that time of the year, when the malevolent delight in posting wild claims that Christmas is “really” – in some undefined sense of “real” – the festival of Sol Invictus, recorded only in the Chronography of 354. Few of us know much about Sol Invictus, the state cult created by Aurelian in 274 AD.  […]
  • The Meta Sudans and the Djemila fountain in Algeria
    I’ve posted a number of images of the Meta Sudans, the ancient Roman fountain that stood next to the Colosseum and was demolished by Mussolini, in posts such as this one.  Today on Twitter I saw a picture of a standing, much smaller, Roman fountain in Djemila in Algeria, posted by @AlgeriaTTours.  Here’s the image: […]
  • The temple that Cleopatra built for Caesarion at Armant
    While I was looking at the Description de l’Egypte for information about the Serapeum as it was in Napoleon’s time, a whim came over me to look for the now-vanished temple at Armant (ancient Hermonthis), some 12 miles south of Luxor. The temple was destroyed in 1861-3 in order to get stone to build a sugar […]
  • 1603 Zuccaro drawing in red chalk of Old St Peter’s, Rome
    Here’s another image of Old St Peter’s, part-way through the transformation into New St Peter’s.  The main entrance, steps and square are all still present.  From the Getty website: Federico Zuccaro (Italian, about 1541 – 1609).  25.9 x 41.3 cm (10 3/16 x 16 1/4 in.) Using red chalk in a highly detailed manner, Federico […]
  • Latin translations of Chrysostom’s homilies on John – website
    Chris Nighman writes to me: I’ve just launched a new online resource for several Latin translations of Chrysostom’s Homilies on the Gospel of John. I will be seeking funding for this project in February and, if successful, expect that this resource will be completed by the end of next summer. I also plan to produce a […]
  • The stadium, hippodrome or “Lageion” of Ancient Alexandria
    Just to the south of the Serapeum, which stood on a hill, was a Greek stadium or hippdrome.  The temple overlooked it, and there was seating.  The following map by Judith McKenzie indicates the location (click to enlarge): The area of the stadium was built over in the 19th century.  But it was still visible […]
  • List of volumes of the “Description de l’Égypte, ou Recueil des observations et des recherches qui ont été faites en Égypte pendant l’expédition de l’armée française”
    Today I found that I needed to consult a plate in the Napoleonic Description de l’Egypte.  I had some difficulty in finding online volumes, and so I compiled the following list.  Please feel free to offer additions in the comments.  First edition (Imperial edition) Book 01 (1809), Volume I – Antiquités, Descriptions. Heidelberg. Book 02 (1818), Volume […]
  • Timestamp: Alexandria in the 5th century. Sinister goings-on in the ruins of the Serapeum, in Peter the Iberian
    Peter the Iberian is a name that was unfamiliar to me.  He was a Georgian prince who lived in the 5th century A.D. and ended his days as a monk.  His Life was written by his close friend, John Rufus, in Greek.  The Greek is lost, but a Syriac translation survives in two manuscripts.  These […]
  • What did the Serapeum in Alexandria actually look like?
    The destruction of the Serapeum in Alexandria in 392 AD by the Christian mob, headed by its leader, the patriarch Theophilus, is a famous moment.  It was the last temple to be closed, and by far the most famous. It stood on the only high ground in the city, in the South-West.  Rufinus gives us […]
  • Images of Theophilus of Alexandria and the Serapeum in a 5th century papyrus codex
    Today I came across an image which, although striking, was previously unknown to me.  It can be found on Wikipedia here, and in other places.  It depicts Theophilus of Alexandria, standing atop the Serapeum at Alexandria: The destruction of the Serapeum in Alexandria in 392 AD – the date is not precisely certain – at the […]
  • On finding my own books
    It is early here.  The sky is the deep overcast shade of an English winter’s morning in November.  But it is warm, too warm to stay in bed, so I have risen to begin the day.  As I did so, I noted that I needed a new bedside book, and the whim struck me to […]
  • New edition of Cyril of Alexandria’s “Against Julian” is soon to appear – offline, and very pricey
    In the early 5th century, Cyril of Alexandria found it necessary to write a large apologetic work.  The book was in response to Julian the Apostate’s anti-Christian work Against the Galileans. This was written some 50 years earlier by the then emperor, but must have continued to circulate. Cyril made a series of extensive quotations from the work, […]
  • Is “those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad” a classical quotation?
    Last night I was reading Boswell’s Life of Johnson, and came across the familiar quotation in a Latin form, Quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat – “those whom God wishes to destroy he first drives mad”.  Therein it was stated that the Latin quotation was on everyone’s lips, but its source was known to nobody. A […]
  • From my diary
    I apologise for the lack of blogging.  Ordinary life has been getting in the way, as it does for us all, and I am in the middle of changing job, which is always rather tedious. I’ve not done anything further on applying for a grant for the Methodius translation.  I will; it is simply a […]
  • A diadem of Serapis and a Fayoum portrait
    Two days ago the British Museum twitter account posted this item, which seemed to me worthy of wider circulation.  They posted a picture of an item in their collection, together with one of the Fayoum mummy portraits depicting it in actual use! This mystery object is a diadem ornament worn by priests of the god Serapis […]
  • Still more Pantoleon!
    After writing my last post, I thought to check JSTOR.  And … I got a hit!  This discusses marginalia in an Old English manuscript, but the author wanders quite far afield, discussing devotion to St Michael the Archangel: Greek devotion to St. Michael is well attested, but one writer in particular deserves attention in connection with the […]
  • I say Pantaleon, you say Pantoleon – more notes on this figure
    Yesterday I collected what I could find about the mysterious writer Pantoleon or Pantaleon, a bunch of whose sermons appear in PG 98.  The data was rather a farrago, and a testimony to the obscurity of this medieval figure or figures. This evening I venture a little further into the mine! Migne prints the following items.  I have […]
  • Who *was* that masked man?! The mysterious Pantoleon
    A correspondent writes: Do you know anything about Pantaleon the Deacon? It looks like we have 5 sermons of his, in the PG 98 columns 1244-1269, though sermon 4 (apparently an encomium on Michael the archangel) is only given in Latin. … I was curious if you know if his works existed in English yet. This […]
  • The Jests of Hierocles, and a Greek rascal named Minoides Minas
    While reading Boswell’s Life of Johnson this week, my eye fell on a note telling me that Johnson published an article with a free translation of the “Jests of Hierocles”.  Such a text was unknown to me, so I did a little research.  I find that it is very obscure, and seems to have attracted little recent attention. It […]
  • New Mithraeum at Kempraten in Switzerland
    A correspondent Csaba Szabó has kindly written to tell us about a new discovery of what seems likely to be a Mithraeum in Switzerland, at Kempraten near Zurich.  Interestingly the site is by a lake.  Somewhat ominously, the remains of three large lime kilns were also discovered nearby. The newspaper article in Zurichsee Zeitung is here.  An exhibition […]
  • A curious software puzzle
    A correspondent has sent me a link to a dissertation, which, he assures me, it is possible to download as a PDF.  Unfortunately his email was vague as to how, and I simply can’t work it out. It’s presented in some obscure online viewer software, which, to my eye, simply doesn’t have a download option. Can anyone […]
  • Another Coptic translation from Anthony Alcock
    Anthony Alcock has completed a new translation of a Coptic text on the 24 elders.  It’s here: Alcock-The Twenty-Four Elders-2015 (PDF)
  • From my diary
    Just small stuff lately, as I am rather busy with real life. The sample page of the translation of Andrew of Crete’s Encomium on St Nicholas of Myra has arrived.  I have passed it to Andrew Eastbourne for comment.  I’m optimistic about this one. A post I did ages ago on whether Pythagoras ever went […]
  • From my diary
    I’m trying to push forward a couple of projects.  I’ve written to the translator for the Encomium on St Nicholas of Myra by Andrew of Crete, to see if the sample is available yet. I have also changed my plans slightly for the translation of Methodius from Old Slavonic.  The lady who was to do the […]
  • Books lost, books retained
    This evening I was chagrined to discover that I cannot find anywhere my copy of Blanchard’s translation of Eznik of Kolb, On God.  I have relatively few translations in paper form, but I certainly had that.  I remember a small green hardback.  It was quite useless to me, frankly, although finely made, and it just occupied […]
  • Cybele’s castration clamps – medical apparatus of the Magna Mater
    A couple of years ago I mentioned the eunuch priests of Cybele here, together with a couple of illustrations of a set of ornate castration clamps, found in the River Thames in the 1840’s, and now, supposedly, in the British Museum. This week I came across a 1926 article discussing how the items were used.  The […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 15 (part 2)
    3. Bahram Gur reigned over the Persians, after his father Yazdagard, son of Bahram, for eighteen years.  This happened in the thirtieth year of the reign of Theodosius the Less, king of the Rum.  In the twenty-seventh year of the reign of Theodosius, king of Rum, Sixtus was made patriarch of Rome.  He held the […]
  • An anecdote on the perils of being “learned” in public; and some others
    Another anecdote from the collection of E.H. Barker: 7. Professor Porson. We have seldom read a better story, to say the least of it, than the following. As to the facts of it, we can only say that the statement rests on the authority of the author of Lacon, whence it is extracted. Porson was […]
  • Some 4th century pagan festivals in Libanius
    Reading through the Literary Reminiscences of the ill-fated E.H. Barker, I find a short list of the works of Thomas Taylor, the 18th century translator known as the “English Platonist”.  Snobbery forbade his recognition in England, but his work was rated higher on the continent.  The list begins with some biographical details, for Barker knew […]
  • An anecdote from 1827
    XXXIX. The Negro and the Fish. “A negro about to purchase a fish visited a shop, where several were exposed for sale; but suspecting that one, which he intended to buy, was not altogether as fresh as he could wish, he presumed either to dissipate or confirm his suspicions by applying it to his nose. […]
  • No more free speech
    I have just updated the blog header, and also the About page, to remove the references to my interest in freedom of speech online.  Old posts on the subject will remain, but I have no plans to post more on this subject. I grew up in times in which you could express pretty much any […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve been reading the Walpoliana, anecdotes ca. 1800 from Horace Walpole.  I like books of anecdotes!  They are easy on the eye and the mind after a long day.  I did try to obtain a printed copy, but the “reprints” are just print-on-demand items, available in two weeks.  By that time I will have forgotten […]
  • Another image of the Meta Sudans
    Via Twitter, I saw this photo of the Meta Sudans from 1885.  It’s always nice to see these old photographs.  I wonder who the lady was?  Somebody’s wife, someone’s mother, someone’s grandmother.
  • Al-Maqrizi’s account of Coptic feast days – online in English by Anthony Alcock
    In the Topographical and Historical Description of Egypt by al-Makrizi (or al-Maqrizi), a 13th century Muslim author, there is a section which describes the Feast Days of the Copts.  Anthony Alcock has translated this from the Patrologia Orientalis text into English and made it available for us all online.  It’s here: Al-Maqrizi-Coptic_Feast_Days_Alcock2015 (PDF) The work by al-Makrizi […]
  • The encouragement of learning
    Edward Gibbon, the author of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was a notoriously vain little man.  In the Walpoliana of Horace Walpole, a collection of anecdotes, I find this story: I was told a droll story concerning Mr. Gibbon, t’other day.  One of those booksellers in Paternoster Row, who publish things in numbers, went […]
  • Notes upon the modern history of the “Bruce codex”
    A correspondent kindly sent me a copy of a rather interesting recent paper on the “Bruce codex”, which deserves the attention of many more people than it is likely to get.  The article author apparently lives in Canada, but for some reason has published in French, a language better known in Europe than in North […]
  • The sack of Constantinople in 1453 (Part 3)
    In The sack of Constantinople in 1453, I quoted a very vivid description of the sack on Constantinople, found online and attributed to Critobulos, the renegade who served the Muslim attackers and wrote a history of the event.  But it was less than clear where the translation came from. In The sack of Constantinople in […]
  • Methodius of Olympus, De Lepra (On Leprosy) – now online in English
    The fourth short work by Methodius of Olympus (d.311) is De Lepra, On Leprosy, an explanation of Leviticus 13.  The first English translation of it is now made available. Unlike the three previous works, some fragments of the original Greek text are preserved in a medieval anthology found in at least 20 manuscripts.  The task of […]
  • The Greek fragments of Methodius translated in the Ante-Nicene Fathers series
    Most of the works of Methodius of Olympus (d. 311) are preserved only in Old Slavonic.  His Symposium exists in Greek, and was translated in the mid-19th century, and appears in the Ante-Nicene Fathers series in volume 6.  A modern translation by Musurillo also exists. Three short works exist in Old Slavonic only; a fourth, De Lepra, […]
  • The sack of Constantinople in 1453 (Part 2)
    A commenter queried the outcome of an investigation that I began in The sack of Constantinople in 1453, and asked whether the “quote” with which I started was, or was not, found in Critobulous. Here is the Riggs’ translation of the passage describing the sack of Constantinople, which must be the passage in question (p.71 […]
  • A Coptic fragment of Severian of Gabala on Penitence via Alin Suciu
    The excellent Alin Suciu has continued his trawl through uncatalogued Coptic papyri.  The lost papyri of Louvain have attracted his attention.  A post on his blog reports the discovery of parts of a Coptic version of CPG 4186, a homily by Severian of Gabala on penitence: Under no. 48, Lefort published an unidentified papyrus fragment […]
  • From my diary
    Autumn has arrived very early this year, with its quota of draughts in the office, and consequent colds and chills and air-conditioner wars.  I am rather preoccupied with some work-related nuisance of just this kind, so don’t expect too much from me for a bit.  But things are moving slowly forward anyway. I’ve been corresponding […]
  • Notes on Andrew of Crete’s Encomium on St Nicholas of Myra
    In all the Methodius stuff, I have not forgotten that there are many untranslated hagiographical texts about St Nicholas of Myra, or Santa Claus, which are still on my hit list.  A correspondent has written to offer help with translating Greek texts, and I recalled that the Encomium by Andrew of Crete (BHG 1362, CPG […]
  • From my diary
    I have just spent four hours on an application for grant funding.  I ache as much as if I had been doing manual labour!  Why is this process so awful?  I did smile, though, at the assurances that the process is not intended to be a barrier to applicants – an assurance contained in a […]
  • Thinking about Methodius, De resurrectione and De autexusio
    This evening I combined the English translation of the Old Slavonic text of De Lepra with the translation of the Greek fragments of the same work.  The latter were considerably fuller, where I had both, and sometimes with startling differences.  However I hope to have this completed before too long. This will complete the four […]
  • Methodius of Olympus, On the Leech – now online in English
    The third of the short works by Methodius of Olympus, On the leech (De sanguisuaga) is now available online, thanks once again to Ralph Cleminson who has translated it from Old Slavonic for us all.  It’s an explanation of a couple of passages from the Old Testament. Here are the files: Methodius-On_the_Leech_2015 (PDF) Methodius-On_the_Leech_2015 (Word .doc) I have […]
  • A list of translations of the Orations of Libanius, at Antiochepedia
    Libanius lived in 4th century Antioch, and he knew everyone who was anyone.  His very voluminous works have not received much attention from translators.  This is probably because his works are rather dull.  Nevertheless they contain valuable data on late antique culture.  But even finding what translations exist can be a challenge. A useful item, this, at the Antiochepedia website: […]
  • From my diary
    Work is continuing on Methodius of Olympus.  There has been no progress for just over a week, thanks to a contaminated sandwich purchased at a garage, and then some other trivial but time-consuming difficulties.  It would be nice, sometimes, to be a man of independent means! However a translation of Methodius “On the Leech” has […]
  • The last gladiatorial show
    In 325 AD Constantine passed an edict against gladiators (Codex Theodosianus book 15, title 12, leg. 1).  The version in Cod. Just. XI. 44 runs: Bloody spectacles in a time of civil peace and domestic quiet do not meet with our favor, wherefore we absolutely prohibit the existence of gladiators. But clearly nothing happened. In […]
  • From my diary: Gentlemen say “Old Slavonic”, Yankee; the latest on Methodius; plus the Oxford Patristics Conference 2015. All in your soaraway blog!
    Sometimes, it’s just a very good idea to go offline! — I’m back after a very pleasant week of holiday, and I’m starting to pick up the threads once more.  I’m still feeling somewhat frivolous. While I was away, Ralph Cleminson sent over a fresh version of Methodius’ De Lepra (a text which gives an allegorical […]
  • A visit to a church building in the weekday
    We all need holidays.  I’ve been on holiday for a week, and I’ve largely stayed away from the computer, and instead I have just enjoyed the weather, neither too hot nor too cold. On Friday I decided to do a trip out, and I went up to the Peak District.  This is quite a run, a round-trip […]
  • The man who wrote the creed of Nicaea
    I always learn something from T. D. Barnes’ books.  While looking for something online, I happened across these remarks: Much will always be obscure about the Council of Nicaea. No stenographic record of the proceedings was taken and no minutes were produced by anyone. It is true that we have reports of different parts of […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 15 (start)
    Let’s do a little more of the Annals of Eutychius.  The author returns to his now-lost Sassanid chronicle, which clearly contained fanciful material as well as much history.  Here is the first two chapters.     *    *    *    * 1. Let us return now to our purpose and to the place in history where we were.  As for […]
  • Just because you are an Old Testament scholar, that does not make you Moses!
    Academia is a cruel trade.  It means a life of loneliness in libraries, mostly reading rubbish articles purely to make sure that you need not pay any attention to them.  Every career ends in oblivion, however many professorships you obtain, however lauded you may be.  A day after you die, some whipper-snapper will publish an […]
  • From my diary
    I’m now on holiday for a week.  I’m going to ignore nearly all correspondence, all comments on the blog, and generally go and do other things.  I have received an awful lot of correspondence lately, and I need a holiday from it. I may write the odd blog post, but I still won’t be taking […]
  • How do we define “anti-semitism” so that we can use it for testing Matthew 27:25?
    I’ve written now a series of posts on the use of Matthew 27:25 – “His blood be upon us and upon our children” – in Christian writers up to the 6th century.  This was provoked by the question of whether this verse was the cause of, or contributory to, anti-semitism. In order to examine that […]
  • Some reflections on translation styles, provoked by a passage in the NRSV
    Yesterday I was reviewing the translation of Methodius of Olympus, De cibis.  Believing that the NRSV was the modern standard academic translation, and remembering the original RSV with some affection, I recommended the use of that for biblical quotations. But perhaps I was too hasty.  For I noticed the following passage, from Numbers 19:18, in […]
  • Methodius of Olympus, De Cibis – now online in English
    Once again Ralph Cleminson has very kindly translated for us a work by Methodius of Olympus out of the Old Slavonic, in which alone it now survives, and made the first-ever English translation! Methodius-De_Cibis_2015 (PDF) Methodius-De_Cibis_2015 (Word .doc) Dr Cleminson has done if anything a better job here than with the previous text, De Vita.  I’ve also incorporated into […]
  • Origen, Homily 26 on Joshua and Matthew 27:25
    Another of the last remaining references to Matthew 27:25 is found in the Homilies on Joshua by Origen, extant in a Latin translation-cum-paraphrase by Rufinus.  It is found in homily 26, and as this is short, I thought that I would post it here.  The translation is from the Fathers of the Church vol. 105, […]
  • From my diary
    Today I decided to have a go at finishing off my posts on the references to Matthew 27:25 in patristic literature.  This has really dragged on, and I want it done. At the moment I am working near Cambridge, in the UK, which means that it is possible for me to make use of the […]
  • Augustine, Homily 229F and Matthew 27:25
    I’ve made a bit of an effort today to finish off my series on references to Matthew 27:25 in patristic literature.  One of these references can be found in one of Augustine’s sermons, number 229F (which was one of those discovered by G. Morin in the 1930’s). Today I was able to access the New […]
  • From my diary
    The first draft has arrived of Methodius, De cibis, translated from the Old Slavonic, using manuscript 40 of the Lavra of Holy Trinity-Saint Sergius.  It looks very good, except that the translator has used the Authorised Version as the basis for the bible quotations and allusions.  I’ve suggested that he use the NRSV instead. The translation […]
  • Severian of Gabala bibliography – another minor update
    I’ve just tweaked my working bibliography of Severian again.  Here are the new files: Severian-of-Gabala-works (PDF) – updated. Severian-of-Gabala-works (docx) – updated These replace the version in the last such post here. UPDATE (21st July 2015): I have updated the files to include the very useful comments by Sever Voicu in the comments below – thank you. […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 14 (Abbreviated)
    It’s been a while since I translated any of the Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (= Sa`id Ibn Bitrik).  But I rather fancy doing some this evening. I should add that I am working, not from the Arabic, but from the difficult-to-obtain Italian translation of Bartolomeo Pirone, and using Google Translate to do a lot […]
  • Spamming to promote the NIV bible?
    I have written a couple of times before about the collapse in confidence in the New International Version (NIV) of the bible.  This happened after Zondervan, the publishers, decided to revise it to be “gender neutral.”  As I wrote in my last such post: … “gender neutrality” is not a principle of text criticism, nor of biblical […]
  • Methodius, On Life and Rational Action – online in English
    Today I am quite pleased to be able – at long last! – to upload the first English translation of De Vita, On Life and Rational Action, by Methodius of Olympus. The translation was made by Ralph Cleminson, from the unpublished Old Slavonic text, which alone has survived.  This was accessed using the online images of manuscript 40 […]
  • From my diary
    I hope to upload Methodius On life and rational activity soon.  The translation is done, and paid for (as of today), and only needs a tweak to my introductory footnote. Less good news: the Trinity-St Sergius Lavra site,  which hosts the Old Slavonic manuscripts that we are using, is offline.  Fortunately I did download the images of […]
  • Works of Fulgentius the Mythographer now online in English
    I learn via AWOL that the Ohio State University Press is sensibly placing online older volumes, of no conceivable commercial value.  Among these is the 1971 translation of the complete works of the 5th century Roman author Fulgentius Mythographicus.  He lived in Vandal Africa and composed a handbook of ancient mythology and other works.  The […]
  • A little more Asterius
    Blogger Albocicade has very kindly sent me some excerpts from Asterius the Homiletist’s 31 homilies on Psalms, which he has culled from a French book.  Let me give them here; I’m sure we can all use Google Translate. Sur l’arbre verdoyant: “Le Verbe est le bois planté au bord des eaux, que le Père a […]
  • Asterius on Matthew 27:25
    My original reason for interest in Asterius the Sophist, and the collection of 31 homilies that bears his name in Richard’s edition, is the reference to Mathew 27:25 – His blood be upon us and upon our children – in homily 21.  Of course we must now recognise that this is by Asterius the Homiletist, […]
  • Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Isaiah, on Matthew 27:25
    I learn from the TLG (4090.103) that there are two references to this verse of scripture in Cyril of Alexandria, Commentarius in Isaiam prophetam (Commentary on Isaiah). It is not mentioned in BiblIndex. Here is the TLG results: PG 70 col 52 line 18: τλήκασι γὰρ τῆς ἑαυτῶν κεφαλῆς τὸ τίμιον αἷμα Χριστοῦ, Πιλάτῳ λέγοντες· «Τὸ αἷμα […]
  • Do we live in the age of Robert C. Hill?
    Few will ever have heard of Robert Charles Hill, sometime professor at an Australian Catholic university.  Indeed his name was unfamiliar to me also, until the last few weeks.  But in that time I have been looking for translations of ancient biblical commentaries.  And anyone who does so will swiftly realise the debt that we […]
  • From my diary
    Some of the works of Methodius of Olympus (d. 311 AD) no longer exist in Greek.  But an unpublished Old Slavonic version of a few does exist.  Recently a couple of manuscripts of this appeared online on a Russian site; and a little while ago I commissioned a translation of “On life and rational activity”. […]
  • A few more notes on Asterius the Sophist, Asterius the Homiletist, and the Commentary on the Psalms
    After my post yesterday, I did a google search and found a number of useful items of bibliography.  It seems that there was further work on Asterius, after Marcel Richard’s edition.  In particular there is a rather excellent work by Wolfram Kinzig, whose conclusions about this collection of 31 homilies on the Psalms (which he […]
  • Some notes on the commentary on the psalms by Asterius the Sophist
    This morning a Greek text of the remains of Asterius the Sophist’s Commentary on the Psalms came into my hands.  The editor’s preface is quite interesting on this obscure writer, and I thought that I would transcribe a few remarks from it. But who was this fellow?  Asterius was a pupil of Lucian of Antioch, […]
  • From my diary
    I am still collecting references to Matthew 27:25 in the fathers, and still encountering interesting and unusual texts that are unfamiliar to me.  The major chunk of material still in my hands is a bunch of references in the commentaries of St Jerome, and a library visit is going to be necessary to finish them […]
  • Some more from St. Jerome on Matthew 27:25
    Last week, using the Brepols Library of Latin Texts Series A database (formerly Cetedoc), I was able to increase my list of references to Matthew 27:25 in patristic authors. It is slightly curious to discover that the results from a search of the database change, if I include a comma, but they do.  The search […]
  • Anthony Alcock – text and translation of the Life of Barsuma the Naked
    Another translation from the Coptic by Anthony Alcock, this time of a medieval saint who emulated Job.  Here it is: alcock_Barsuma_the_Naked_2015 (PDF) A little after our time-frame, but always good to make literature accessible online!
  • Translations of the biblical commentaries of St Jerome
    St Jerome produced a significant quantity of commentaries on the bible, and translated still others.  These last were mostly by Origen.  Yet his commentaries have remained untranslated until recent times; and it is actually surprisingly difficult to discover what has, and has not, been translated. I thought that I would give what information I have […]
  • New Latin-Italian edition of the collected works of St Jerome from Città Nuova
    It is really remarkable that the works of St Jerome have never been translated in their entirety into any modern language. But the Italians are good on this kind of thing, and while searching for whatever exists, I learned of a project to do just that.  It is being directed by the excellent Claudio Moreschini, […]
  • Some notes upon Apponius and his commentary on the Song of Songs
    It is rare that I come across a wholly unfamiliar patristic writer.  But among the results of a Cetedoc search on Matthew 27:25 was a quotation from “Apponius”: Apponius – In Canticum canticorum expositio (CPL 0194) lib. : 12, line: 1136 Quos omnes non est dubium manibus aures oculos que clausisse, ne tam horridam uocem audirent dicentium: […]
  • More pictures of the Meta Sudans
    Here’s another photograph of this now vanished monument in Rome: The source for this is Flickr, which gives some more details of the photograph: Foto Fonti / foto source: Roma vista dall’alto (8) Colosseo. Fotografo: Stabilimento Costruzioni Aeronautiche Roma – Laboratorio Fotografico. Data: primo quarto 1900 Tecnica: gelatine Vecchia_Segnatura: Alb.25 Sottoserie: 12) Roma vista dall’alto […]
  • From my diary
    This evening I emailed a correspondent, asking if he knew someone who might translate some works by Methodius out of Russian.  Knowledge of Old Slavonic would be good; and the translator must be a native English speaker, and familiar with Christian jargon.  I’ve had rough experiences when these last two were not present! The enquiry […]
  • Further notes on Methodius in Old Slavonic
    I have written before on Methodius of Olympus (d. 311 AD), and how some of his works survive only in an Old Slavonic translation.  This week I scanned the preface of the Russian translation by E. Lovyagin (1905).  It proved to be in a pre-revolutionary spelling, but a kind correspondent modernised this for me, so […]
  • A Coptic version of the Acts of Peter – translated by Anthony Alcock
    Anthony Alcock continues his programme of translations of Coptic literature with this item from a papyrus, P.Berol.8502, best known for containing a copy of 3 gnostic texts, including the Apocryphon of John.  Here it is: Alcock_Acts_of_Peter (PDF) As ever, we can all be grateful to have this accessible.
  • The “Glaphyra” of Cyril of Alexandria and Matthew 27:25 (part 3)
    This continues the series dealing with patristic quotations of Matthew 27:25 – “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”  Cyril of Alexandria is our current target, but I think we’re getting close to the end. Now I’ve dealt with the first and second quotations from the Glaphyra.  I think that I probably got […]
  • Playing with a 1905 Russian book, Finereader 12, and Google Translate
    This morning I decided to see what I could find out about a 1905 Russian edition of the works of Methodius of Olympus (d.311 AD), which I obtained in PDF form from a library in Chicago a year or so back. Now I don’t know any Russian … not even the alphabet.  But I have […]
  • Sometimes it can be a long day at the monastery
    David Wilmshurst has sent me an amusing GIF of the (amicable) 13th century debate on christology between Latin and Syrian monks… ‘And how many natures, persons, hypostases, wills, energies and activities do you ascribe precisely to the Incarnate Christ? Think carefully before you answer …’ Click to enlarge.  
  • The “Glaphyra” of Cyril of Alexandria and Matthew 27:25 (part 2)
    Yesterday I gave the first of the four passages in the Glaphyra in which Cyril quotes Matt.27:25, “His blood be upon us and our descendants.”  Today I continue with the second.  The TLG entry is as follows: PG 69 col. 349 line 29: Ἕτερον γὰρ, οἶμαι, παρὰ τοῦτό ἐστιν οὐδὲν τὸ ἀσυνέτως εἰπεῖν ἐπὶ Χριστῷ· […]
  • Upcoming: translation (offline) of Bar Hebraeus’ “Chronicon Ecclesiasticum”
    The 13th century Syriac writer Bar Hebraeus wrote before the Mongol invasions that devastated the Near East and reduced it to the backward condition in which it has languished ever since.  The same events also brought an end to the production of Syriac literature, and caused the loss of vast amounts of what already existed. Among […]
  • More engravings of Rome in the 18th century from Piranesi: Vatican Rotunda and Meta Sudans!
    A tweet this evening drew my attention to the fact that a search by author on Piranesi at the Spanish National Library produces heaps of results, available in very high quality and very large images.  I looked through these, and found a couple of gems. First, an external view of St Peter’s: “Veduta dell’ Esterno della gran […]
  • The “Glaphyra” of Cyril of Alexandria and Matthew 27:25
    Cyril of Alexandria wrote quite a number of commentaries on the Old Testament.  There is the De adoratione et cultu in spiritu et veritate, in 17 books, in the form of a dialogue with a certain Palladius.  There is the massive line-by-line Commentary on Isaiah, in 5 books; and his Commentary on the minor prophets, […]
  • Severian of Gabala, De Sacrificiis Caini (PG 62: 719-722 = CPG 4208) – now online in English
    Another work attributed to Severian of Gabala, On the sacrifices of Cain, CPG 4208, has come online at here.  It contains parallel Greek and Latin from Migne. Marvellous!
  • The Meta Sudans in a drawing of the Arch of Constantine by Piranesi
    The Meta Sudans is (by now) familiar to us in old photographs, as a Roman fountain extant as merely a brick stump outside the Arch of Constantine in Rome, which was demolished by Mussolini in the 1930’s.  But until the 19th century it was twice the height.  Ancient pictures on coins show a slender, pointed […]
  • Cyril of Alexandria and Matthew 27:25 (part 2): the case of the vanishing passage!
    Yesterday I discussed 5 passages from Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on the XII minor prophets, which according to a TLG search supposedly reference Matthew 27:25, “His blood be upon us all”.  Passage #1 was a glitch, and #3-5 are genuine and I gave the passages in translation using the Fathers of the Church translation. But it is […]
  • Cyril of Alexandria and Matthew 27:25 (part 1)
    The evil day has arrived, when I have to sift the references to Matthew 27:25 found in the works of Cyril of Alexandria.   Woe is me. We start with his Commentary on the 12 Minor Prophets.  The TLG search gave us the following five references: Volume 1 page 90 line 7: φόνος καὶ κλοπὴ καὶ μοιχεία […]
  • From my diary
    At least I got Procopius done.  But I really feel he’s too late a writer for me to worry about, in the survey of early Christian writers who wrote about Matt. 27:25.  I don’t know about anybody else, but I am getting a little fed up of this particular story.  Perhaps it’s time to write […]
  • Procopius of Gaza and Matthew 27:25 (part 2)
    Let’s continue looking at the references to Matthew 27:25 – “His blood be upon us, and upon our children” in the 6th century writer Procopius of Gaza.  Earlier I translated a number of passages here.  We’re looking at this reference in BiblIndex: Procopius of Gaza, Commentarii in Octateuchum, PG 87.1, 21-1220. (p.252); (p.491, l.46); (p.919); […]
  • From my diary
    It’s the end of a long hard week, and I can’t face any more Procopius of Gaza tonight!  So I’ve instead been downloading a few volumes of the Patrologia Graeca from Google Books to my hard disk.  It’s always helpful to have these locally, as hotel Wifi is not to be relied on when you want […]
  • Post-antique / Byzantine references to Matthew 27:25
    Two kind correspondents have sent me the results of a search of the TLG for references to wording found in Matt.27:25.  I have used these (different!) outputs, to supplement my blog post on ancient references, which hitherto ends with Procopius of Gaza.  This has added a few extra items: the big finds are a bunch of references to Cyril […]
  • Procopius of Gaza and Matthew 27:25
    Our review of patristic references to Matthew 27:25 (“His blood be upon us and our children”) has now reached the latest author given by BiblIndex, Procopius of Gaza.  With this author we have reached the 6th century, and there is a case that we are no longer dealing with patristic writers, but rather with Byzantine […]
  • Augustine’s “Treatise against the Jews”
    Augustine’s Tractatus adversus Judaeos (Treatise against the Jews) is probably unfamiliar to most of us.  This short work – a homily, or a pamphlet – is printed in the Patrologia Latina vol. 42, cols 51-64.  But I was quite unaware that an English translation exists, in Fathers of the Church 27, published under the title Treatises on Marriage and […]
  • Jerome, Commentary on Jeremiah, on Matthew 27:25
    The next patristic work to refer to Matthew 27:25 is in Jerome’s Commentary on Jeremiah.  BiblIndex gives the following information: Jerome, In Hieremiam prophetam libri VI. REITER S., CCL 74 (1960). § 2 (p.71, l.18) & § 3 (p.162, l.20 & § 3 (p.181, l.14) Which is fine if you have the Corpus Christianorum Latina […]
  • Origen’s new homilies on the Psalms – now published!
    J.B. Piggin draws my attention to a marvel – a timely scholarly edition!  You may remember how, in 2012, a bunch of unknown homilies on the psalms were found in the Bavarian State Library in Munich?  This itself was a wonderful find: and the Bavarians went further, and put the manuscript online – a process that […]
  • Origen on Matthew 27:25 from the Commentariorum in Matthaeum Series
    Only books 10-17 of Origen’s Commentary in Matthew survive in Greek.  But as I wrote yesterday, a Latin translation from antiquity renders a large chunk, from books 12, chapter 9 to almost the end of Matthew’s gospel.  Unfortunately there are no signposts in the text as to Origen’s book division: only a division into sections, […]
  • Some notes on Origen’s Commentary on Matthew
    The Commentary on Matthew written by Origen of Alexandria in 25 books has not come down to us complete.  From SC162 I learn that the Greek text of books 10-17 has survived complete.  This appears as GCS 40, which is online here. Two independent but closely related manuscripts have preserved the text: Monacensis gr. 191, […]
  • Jerome on Matthew 27:25
    While looking for information on the textual tradition of Origen’s Commentary on Matthew, I stumbled across a Google books preview of Jerome’s Commentary on Matthew, in the Fathers of the Church series, vol. 117 (2008), ably translated by Thomas Scheck.  This work in four books also references Matthew 27:25 (His blood be upon us and on our […]
  • Another Matthew 27:25 reference in Theodoret on the Psalms?
    The next reference in the Fathers to Matthew 27:25 – “His blood be upon us and our children” – is to be found in Theodoret.  The Biblindex site gives the reference simply as “Theodoret, Interpretatio in Psalmos. PG 80, 857-1997″ which is notable for the lack of a precise column number.  Oh dear. Today I […]
  • From my diary
    I’m still working on my post on the use of Matt.27:25.  It is really interesting, looking up all these unfamiliar passages in patristic writers.  Today I translated most of a question by Ambrosiaster; and several sections of homilies found in the Patrologia Graeca.  I can’t translate from Greek – my training as a scientist did […]
  • Origen, Fragments on Proverbs – translation by Travis Fernald now online
    Travis Fernald has been doing an MA at Pittsburg Theological Seminary, on Origen’s views on human wisdom as expressed in his Commentary on Proverbs (CPL 1430); or rather, on what now remains of it – some 17 columns in the Patrologia Graeca 13.  He wrote to tell me about this, and has very kindly made the […]
  • More pictures of the Septizonium
    My attention was drawn to a couple more pictures of the Septizonium this week.  First, drawing in B. Gamucci ‘Libri Quattro dell’ antichita della citta di Roma’ 1569: Next, a redrawing by Dutchman Matthijs Bril, via the Louvre: Interesting for showing the area beyond the monument.
  • Three texts describing labouring jobs in a Coptic monastery – translated by Anthony Alcock
    Anthony Alcock has translated three Coptic texts which give instructions on manual labour to be undertaken within a monastery; at harvest, in the bakery, etc.  It’s here: Alcock_Work_in_a_Coptic_Monastery_2015 (PDF) This is very useful, precisely because it is not an “exciting” text.  But it gives a clear picture of an important aspect of monastic life.  Thank you, Dr Alcock, […]
  • Online collaborative translation of the Lexicon of Harpocration
    A group of volunteers are making a translation online of the Lexicon of Harpocration.  This has some 300 entries, and the translation is nearly complete, in fact.  The project is here.  The entries seem mainly about people, rather than things, whom a reader of classical literature might find difficulty in identifying.
  • From my diary
    This week I went to Cambridge University Library to obtain translations of some patristic quotations of Matthew 27:25 and Acts 4:10 for the post on the subject.  Instead of photocopying them, I used my smartphone and took pictures. I wasn’t sorry to avoid the charge of 15c per page!  On the other hand, trying to balance open […]
  • Vatican Manuscript of the Chronography of 354 uploaded
    Another discovery by the excellent J.-B. Piggin is that a crucial manuscript of the Chronography of 354 has been uploaded at the Vatican site.  This is purely illustrations; but then that was always the hard part of this text to get hold of. In 354 AD a famous artist named Furius Dionysius Philocalus was commissioned to […]
  • Vatican manuscript with Grimaldi’s memories of Old St Peter’s in Rome uploaded
    The digitisation of the Vatican manuscripts is a very good enterprise, but undertaken in a less than entirely satisfactory way.  The manuscripts are uploaded – but there is no indication of contents beyond the shelfmark.  Thankfully, and in the spirit of crowd-sourcing, J.-B.Piggin has been making notes on them as they appear, and publishing lists at […]
  • Shenoute: Apocalypse and Testimony, translated by Anthony Alcock
    Anthony Alcock continues his programme of translations from Coptic with a couple of short texts, which profess to be the Apocalypse and the Testimony by Shenoute.  Whether these are indeed by Shenoute is not clear, but it is very useful to have this material in English! Shenoute-Apocalypse_and_Testament_Alcock_2015 (PDF) Thank you!
  • “His blood be upon us”: The use of Mt.27:25 and Acts 4:10 in patristic writers
    An email from a correspondent reached me earlier this week, asking an interesting question: Lately I’ve been tackling arguments that passages like Matt. 27:25 (“his blood be on us…”) were a huge influence on later anti-Semitism. …  The key issue being: Just how influential were passages like Matthew 27:25, and Acts 4:10 (“Be it known unto you […]
  • Chrysostom quote: “How is it that you come to be rich?”
    Today I saw an interesting quotation attributed to John Chrysostom, which reads as follows: John Chrysostom, a fourth-century preacher and bishop of Constantinople, wrote, “Tell me then, how is it that you are rich? From whom did you receive it, and from whom did he transmit it to you? From his father and his grandfather. […]
  • Religious tests, profligate wretches, and the tricks of memory
    Many years ago – indeed in my last summer at Oxford – I formed a high opinion of the pre-WW1 essays of Augustine Birrell.  This opinion was not founded on any great study.  On the contrary: I was going punting, and looking for a book to take with me.  In a shop I found a copy […]
  • A couple more drawings of the Vatican rotunda
    A couple more drawings have come my way of the Vatican Rotunda. I have blogged before about this.  It appears that a couple of circular tombs were built in the 3rd century AD in what had been the Circus of Gaius and Nero, just down the slope from where Constantine was to build the basilica […]
  • Further notes on the “Cura Sanitatis Tiberii”
    Yesterday I wrote some notes on this curious Latin apocryphal text.  There is a whole cycle of medieval texts about what happened to Pilate after the gospels, often attached to the Gospel of Nicodemus in Latin versions, of which the Cura Sanitatis Tiberii is one. Today I discovered a few more bits of information, especially […]
  • The death of Pilate: a text and some notes on the “Cura Sanitatis Tiberii”
    A correspondent enquired whether I knew of a translation of a text named the Cura sanitatis Tiberii.  Never having heard of this text, I looked into it.  Here is what I found. In the medieval Greek and Latin manuscripts, there are preserved a whole cycle of fictional stories known as the Gospel of Nicodemus, the Acts […]
  • Severian of Gabala bibliography – minor update
    I came across an article by Alin Suciu on the Coptic ps.Severian homily In Apostolos, and thought that I had better update the bibliography.  It is, as ever, far from comprehensive – I am no compiler of bibliographies – but merely a tool for my own purposes. Severian-of-Gabala-works (PDF) Severian-of-Gabala-works (docx) This replaces the files uploaded here. […]
  • A couple more photographs of the Meta Sudans and base of the Colossus
    A couple more interesting pictures appeared on Twitter tonight. The first of these was posted by Ste Trombetti, and shows the Arch of Titus in 1848 (!).  The photo is in the Getty archive, and was taken by Count Jean-François-Charles-André Flachéron (French, 1813-1883).  Through the arch, the Meta Sudans is visible, in its truncated 19th century […]
  • Discovered: A 5-6th century fragment of Methodius’ “Symposium”!
    I learn from Brice C. Jones that a marvellous discovery has been made: a papyrus leaf, or the remains of one, containing a portion of the Symposium of the Ante-Nicene writer Methodius of Olympus (d. 311 AD, as a martyr): New Discovery: The Earliest Manuscript of Methodius of Olympus and an Unattested Saying about the […]
  • Theodore of Antioch: Encomium on Theodore the Anatolian – now online in English
    Anthony Alcock has continued his marvellous programme of translations from Coptic.  Today’s item is the Encomium on Theodore the Anatolian, by Theodore, Bishop of Antioch.  It’s here: Alcock_Theodore_of_Antioch_on_Theodore_the_Anatolian_2015 (PDF) The manuscript that contains the work was published by E.A.W. Budge, and dates from 995 AD. The text is a hagiographical text, but St. Theodore the Anatolian […]
  • Some tables of contents in minuscule Greek manuscripts
    Via AWOL I discovered the existence of a search engine for Greek manuscripts, made by David Jenkins and online at Princeton here.  I promptly started looking for examples of the “summaries” or “tables of contents” in Greek texts.  Not many of the texts that I looked at had them; but a few did. First off, let’s have […]
  • Online: Free .pdf version of Lanciani’s “Forma Urbis Romae”
    Ste Trombetti draws my attention to the existence of a PDF of 19th century archaeologist R. Lanciani’s map of ancient Rome.  It’s here. It zooms really nicely too… Here’s a mirror of the PDF. lanciani_carta-archeologica.pdf0 (PDF)
  • From my diary
    Oops.  I was just preparing the Italian text for the next chapter of Eutychius when I noticed that it was chapter 14; while my posts for the last five chunks were supposedly “chapter 12”.  They should, of course, have been headed “chapter 13”.  I have gone back and fixed the headings. The mistake was easy, […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 13 (part 5 and end)
    Eutychius continues telling us about the reign of Arcadius, in the 5th century, from his perspective of 5 centuries later, followed by the story of the Nestorian dispute. 13. In the fourth year of his reign, i.e. the reign of Arcadius, king of Rum, there reigned over the Persians Yazdağard (37), son of Bahram, called “the […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 13 (part 4)
    Here’s the next chunk of the Annals of Eutychius, covering the period of Chrysostom.  The story of Chrysostom and his violent disagreement with Theophilus of Alexandria must always have been difficult for the Copts, who revered both.  10. There lived in Egypt a bishop who had died leaving three children, who then all three became monks who […]
  • English translation of Cramer’s catena on Galatians published
    John Litteral writes to tell me that a complete translation of Cramer’s catena-commentary on Galatians has been made by Bill Berg, and is available at a trivial price ($12)on Amazon here (US) and here (UK). Some will be unaware of what a catena is.  The medieval church created its bible commentaries by stringing together chains of quotations from […]
  • The Nazis at Jesi: some notes on the modern history of the codex Aesinas of Tacitus’ “Germania” &c.
    The minor works of Tacitus include the Germania and the Agricola.  The history of the manuscripts is somewhat tangled.  Several manuscripts of the minor works reached the renaissance, but were then lost.  The only survivor today is the Codex Aesinas Latinus 8, possibly the same as that discovered at Hersfeld by Guarini.  It was discovered […]
  • Drawings by Mercati (1629) of Aurelian’s “Temple of the Sun” / temple of Serapis
    The excellent Ste Trombetti has discovered online a couple more drawings made in the days when more of ancient Rome existed than does now.  This is really valuable, since locating such items is difficult for most of us. These drawings are by G. B. Mercati, from 1629, from the series Alcune vedute et prospettive di […]
  • Anrich online at German site
    I keep losing these links, so perhaps a post will help. Most of the literary sources for St Nicholas of Myra were published by G. Anrich, Hagios Nikolaos. Der heilige Nikolaos in der griechischen Kirche, in two volumes before WW1.  These are online at Hathi Trust, for US readers only – in case worldwide rioting breaks […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 13 (part 3)
    Let’s carry on reading the “Annals” of Eutychius of Alexandria.  The translation that I am making from Italian is very rough, no doubt: but since nobody capable of doing so has ever made a translation of this work into English, it does at least give us some idea of what the work contains. 8. In […]
  • The Easter Bunny must die! – fear and loathing at the Guardian
    There is an article published by the Guardian Newspaper in London in 2010, written by a certain Heather McDougall, which gets trotted out at this time of year.  It rejoices in the title The Pagan Roots of Easter. Easter is, of course, the festival of Christ’s death and resurrection.  Malicious or dishonest – but unscholarly […]
  • From my diary
    It’s the evening of Easter Saturday.  I don’t use my computer on Sundays, so this is my opportunity to wish you all a happy Easter.  With or without chocolate eggs, bunnies, or whatever! All over the world, Christian bloggers are wracking their brains on what to say about today.  I have nothing original to say. […]
  • Photos of the base of the Colossus of Nero, and Mussolini’s alterations to the Colosseum area
    While looking for material about the Meta Sudans, I stumbled across something which very few people know. Most people will know that the Colosseum is named after a colossal statue of Nero that used to stand nearby.  Originally cast in bronze and stood outside the Domus Aurea, it was changed into a statue of the […]
  • Martyrdom of St. Lacaron – now online in English by Anthony Alcock
    Anthony Alcock has translated a long Coptic martyrdom or “passion” for us.  This is the Passion of S. Lacaron, which Orlandi dates to the 8th century.  The text and translation is here: Martyrdom_of_Lacaron_alcock (PDF) The Coptic Encyclopedia (vol. 5, 1991) has a useful article on Lacaron here, which reads as follows: (CE: 1423b-1424a) LACARON, SAINT, martyr in […]
  • Further information on Mussolini and the Meta Sudans, by Elizabeth Marlowe
    On Wednesday I posted a selection of old photographs of the Meta Sudans, and asked why Mussolini demolished it.  I then came across an article by Elizabeth Marlowe, ‘The Mutability of All Things’: The Rise, Fall and Rise of the Meta Sudans Fountain in Rome, which answered some of these questions. Here is an illustration […]
  • Mussolini and the Meta Sudans
    It’s been a little while since I posted a picture of the Meta Sudans.  This was the conical fountain at the end of the Appian Way, just outside the Colosseum. At Wikimedia Commons today I found an old photograph, from the Bundesarchiv Bild library (no 102-12292) of Mussolini, from a podium outside the Colosseum.  The […]
  • More archaeology on our own PCs
    In my post Archaeology on my own PC, I discussed what I did with some files from the early 90s, that I found archived on my PC, and how I got them into a modern file format. Some of the files were in .drw format.  These were produced by a long-vanished DOS-based drawing package, Lotus […]
  • 75 more Greek manuscripts online at the British Library – the last batch
    The final batch of Greek manuscripts has gone online at the British Library.  This means that pretty much all the mss are now online, except for a few fragments post-1600 bound in other collections; and a few (how many?) not digitised because doing so might damage them. Something that I have not mentioned, but which […]
  • English translation of Shenoute’s “On those who have left the monastery” by Anthony Alcock
    This afternoon brings another gem from Anthony Alcock: a translation from Coptic of Shenoute’s De eis qui e monasterio discesserunt, his attack on monks who have abandoned their monastery.  He explains: The text translated here makes it clear that some of those who have left blamed Shenoute for his ill-treament, but others simply did not the […]
  • Jona Lendering’s new “Ancient History” magazine
    An email from Jona Lendering of advises me that he has launched a printed magazine called “Ancient History”.  It will be bi-monthly, and aimed at a popular audience. It’s all pretty much funded already, via Kickstarter, and he’s hoping for lots of subscribers.  He writes: There’s a summary of everything here, there’s a more […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 13 (part 2)
    Here is some more of the Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (= Sa`id ibn Bitriq), translated by me from the hard-to-find Italian translation of Bartolomeo Pirone.  We’re at the end of the 4th century AD, the reign of Theodosius the Great. 6. But let’s return to what we were saying about Theodosius and Theophilus.  Theophilus, the […]
  • Your article, your footnotes: getting started with Zotero
    These days you may have to submit an article to one of a number of journals, each of whom uses a different format for footnotes.  To cope with this foolishness, it’s a good idea to have all your references in a database somewhere, and insert them into your paper in Microsoft Word using {field} tags, […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 13 (part 1)
    We continue the Annals of Eutychius, and deal with the Council of Constantinople and some anti-Manichaean material.  It is important to recall that Eutychius is a Melkite, and Patriarch of Alexandria. 1. Theodosius, called Theodosius the Great (1), reigned over Rum for seventeen years.  This happened in the fortieth year of the reign of Sabur, […]
  • Archaeology on our own PCs – unravelling old file formats
    A good few years – seventeen! – have passed since I left off working for a certain major corporation, stashed a bunch of documents and sometime projects in a directory on my PC, and went off to seek my fortune.  But this week the past came back to me, in the shape of reunion drinks; […]
  • Guest-post: Valesius, on Sozomen and Socrates (translated by Anthony Alcock!)
    The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius ends in 325 AD.  It was continued by both Socrates and Sozomen. The opinions of early modern editors are often of considerable interest, but, since they wrote their scholarship in Latin, few today take the trouble to read them. Anthony Alcock has kindly translated for us the section de vita et scriptis […]
  • St Nicholas of Myra, “Life” by Michael the Archimandrite (Vita per Michaelem) now online in English
    We all know who Santa Claus is.  Some of us may even know that he is derived from St Nicholas of Myra, who threw three bags of gold through the windows of three poor girls, so that they could have a dowry and get married.  But none of the medieval literature about St Nicholas – […]
  • Uploading the remains of the failed al-Makin transcription project
    If you wish to learn the literature of a people, a good place to start is their histories of themselves.  For Arabic Christian literature – the literature of the Christian peoples occupied by the Muslims in the 7th century, there are five such histories.  I have done some work on Agapius and Eutychius. But the […]
  • HMML microfilmed manuscripts in Syriac and Christian Arabic
    The Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, under Fr Columba Stewart, has been photographing manuscripts in the East for quite a few years now, and creating microfilms of them.  How necessary this work is, has been shown graphically in recent weeks by the barbaric destruction of Assyrian monuments in Iraq by Muslim thugs, apparently out of sheer […]
  • Some stories from the Apophthegmata Patrum
    I suppose that only a few will download the PDFs of Anthony Alcock’s new translation from Coptic of the Sayings of the Fathers.  But it contains many stories that the monks told each other.  Here are one or two samples.  I have over-paragraphed them for readability. 226. It was said of Apa Macarius that one […]
  • Anthony Alcock, Fourth part of Coptic Sayings of the Fathers now online
    Anthony Alcock continues his translation of the Apophthegmata Patrum – The Sayings of the Fathers with a translation of the fourth and final part.  The complete set are all here.
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 12
    This part of the Annals continues the history of the 4th century, interleaving material from the Greek chronographic tradition with a lost Sassanid Persian chronicle known to the author in Arabic translation.  Unfortunately the chapter ends with a curious oriental folk tale.  One wonders what Theodosius the Great would have thought of it! 1. Sabur […]
  • Did St Nicholas of Myra / Santa Claus punch Arius at the Council of Nicaea?
    In many places online we can find the statement that St Nicholas of Myra – the basis for Santa Claus – was present at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, where he punched Arius in the mouth.  So … is it true? Unfortunately we have almost no historical information at all about any […]
  • Is this Katharevousa and can anyone translate it? A passage from Damaskenos Monachos on St Nicholas punching Arius
    Let me introduce to a certain Damaskenos Monachos.  Apparently he lived in the second half of the 16th century, and may (or may not) be identical with the man of that name who was Bishop of Liti and Rendini in 1564; and Metropolitan of Naupaktos and Arta in 1570.  He composed a biography of St […]
  • Negotiating the use of another translation – the Vita Per Michaelem of Nicholas of Myra
    The earliest full-dress hagiographical “life” of St Nicholas of Myra, a.k.a. Santa Claus, is the Vita per Michaelem by Michael the Archimandrite, dating from the 9th century.  The first 11 chapters of this were translated by John Quinn of Hope College, Holland, Michigan, but he died in 2008 while out jogging without completing the work.  […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 11 (part 7 and end)
    This seems to wind up the stories about the Arian controversy, and we then continue with the death of Constantine, and events in the Sassanid realm.  An apocryphal and rather awful story about Constantine persecuting the Jews appears in this section, which gives a rather nasty impression of the attitude of the Melkites in the 10th […]
  • Constantine banned crucifixion – sources
    Yesterday someone told me that crucifixion was banned by Constantine.  I wondered how we knew this. The actual edict has not survived, and is not included in our collections of Roman law.  Our source is only Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History I, 8:13, it seems.  First Sozomen: He regarded the cross with peculiar reverence, on account both of the […]
  • Freaky Fables: The Career of Richard the Lionheart – according to Handelsman!
    Those of a bookish disposition have a tendency, in middle age, to go in search of the books that they read in their formative years.  I will not disclaim any such tendency.  Rather, I have just come across an item that I read when I was very much younger, which I thought that I might […]
  • Some notes on Musonius Rufus
    C. Musonius Rufus (c. 30-100 AD) was a Stoic philosopher of the reign of Vespasian.  He belongs to the group of four Roman Stoics which comprises Seneca, Epictetus (who was a pupil of Musonius Rufus), and Marcus Aurelius.  He has been referred to as “the Roman Socrates”. Naturally he spent time in gaol under Nero, and was exiled under Vespasian. […]
  • A trip to Colchester Castle museum
    The Roman site of Camulodunum lies beneath the modern British town of Colchester.  By a curious chance, it remains an army town, even today, almost 2,000 years later. Today I drove there, with the intention of photographing the Roman items on display in the Castle, which serves as the town museum.  The Norman Colchester Castle […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 11 (part 6)
    The story of the 4th century, as seen by a Christian Arabic writer of the 10th century, continues.  Thankfully we are now past the stuff about the finding of the True Cross. 15. In the twenty-first year of the reign of Constantine Athanasius was made patriarch of Alexandria (40). He was a Kātib.  He held […]
  • Paulinus of Nola, and the “Liber Pontificalis”, on the courtyard outside Old St Peter’s
    In early 396 AD Paulinus of Nola wrote a letter of consolation to his friend Pammachius which contains an interesting passage on the entrance courtyard at the front of Old St Peter’s. It is a pleasure even now to linger on the sight and the praise of such a great work. For we do not laud the […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 11 (part 5)
    The next chunk of the 10th century Arabic Christian Annals of Sa`id ibn Bitriq / Eutychius begins with words that indicate that the text as we have it has been re-edited at a later time.  We’re still wading through dull twaddle about the Council of Nicaea. 12. Sa`id Ibn Batriq, the doctor, said: “I wanted to […]
  • The fountain of the pine-cone outside Old St Peter’s in Rome
    In the little courtyard or “atrium”, inside the portico but outside the main doors of Old St Peter’s (and you can follow the tag below for many images of the church), stood a little fountain. It included a colossal pine-cone of bronze, which will be familiar to many who have visited the Vatican: I found online […]
  • A drawing of the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople?
    When the Muslims conquered Constantinople in 1453, one of their first actions was to tear down and demolish the Church of the Holy Apostles, the church to which the mausoleum of Constantine was attached, and to build on it the mosque of Mehmet the Conquerer. I have never seen a drawing of the church until […]
  • New English translation of Coptic “Prayer of Athanasius” now online
    Anthony Alcock has very kindly sent me a new English translation that he has made of the Coptic Prayer of Athanasius.  It’s here: prayer_of_athanasius-alcock_2015 (PDF) The text used is E.A. Wallis Budge Miscellaneous Texts in the Dialect of Upper Egypt (1915).  However he tells us that the downloaded copy of this accessible to him was tightly […]
  • A few more pictures from Heidelberg
    The Digital Library at the University of Heidelberg is a little difficult to use at first.  But if you go to the search page and enter “romae”, you will get a list of books.  If you click on one of these, such as Montjosieu’s Romae Hospes (1585), you will get the “home page” for the book, […]
  • Dosio’s pictures of Roman ruins (1569) also online
    Searching the collection at UB Heidelberg for words like “Romae”, “Romanae” produces some excellent results, if you know a few of the artists of the period.   The drawings of G. A. Dosio have been referenced before on these pages!  They come from his Urbis Romae Aedificiorum Illustriumquae Supersunt Reliquiae (1569), online here.  The thumbnails of […]
  • More images of then-surviving Roman monuments from “Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae” by A. Lafrery (1593)
    Following my post yesterday, Ste Trombetti has found that the prints by Lafrerie / Lafrery are to be located in the Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae (1593).  Happily this is online in high resolution, and downloadable in PDF form, at the UB in Heidelberg here (and the page shows all the pix in thumbnail too – a very […]
  • Some more images of Old St Peter’s basilica in Rome
    This evening I did a Google Images search for images of Old St Peter’s basilica in Rome.  I’ve put some of these online before; but it’s always worth searching again, as new material appears all the time. Note that you can click on these images to get a larger picture sometimes. Via this site I […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 11 (part 4)
    Let’s continue reading this.  I’m taking the Italian translation by Pirone – itself a near-impossible item to obtain -, running it through Google Translate and cleaning up the output.  I know that “no true scholar” would do this; but since I see evidence that people simply don’t know what may be found in Eutychius, it seems worth […]
  • A useful paper on Eutychius of Alexandria (Sa`id ibn Batriq); and some rueful reflections on why a useful tax-funded book has been made copyright of Brill
    A little while ago I came across an article, online in PDF format, which contained much the most useful overview known to me of the life and works of the 10th century Melkite patriarch of Alexandria, Eutychius, known to the Arabs as Sa`id ibn Bitriq.  The author is Uriel Simonsohn, an Israeli academic, and the […]
  • Gamucci’s images of the Septizonium; the Temple of the Sun; the Arch of Claudius; and the obelisk and Vatican Rotunda
    Ste. Trombetti has continued to search through early books and prints for images of vanished Rome.  Here is another example, from the 1565 work Dell’Antichita di Roma by Bernardo Gamucci.  It depicts the remains of the monumental facade that Septimius Severus built across the end of the Palatine hill facing the Appian Way.  Behind it […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 11 (part 3)
    The story continues… sadly with very little historical value. 7.  Constantine made the necessary preparations and prepared to fight against Maxentius, King of the Romans.  He had prepared a large cross, placed it on top of a standard, and went against Maxentius, king of Rome.  Having heard that Constantine had moved to fight against him, Maxentius […]
  • Draft translation of Chrysostom’s “Laus Diodori” now online
    Regular correspondent IG has written to say that her translation of the Laus Diodori by Chrysostom (PG 52: 761-766 = CPG 4406) is now available online on here.  It’s just the bare translation, no commentary yet; but it’s there and it’s hot!
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 11 (part 2)
    Once more Eutychius switches over again to the lost Sassanid Persian chronicle which he is interweaving with the Greek chronicles; and then back.  We are not told what became of Maximian: evidently the Sassanid chronicle did not say. 5.  As for Sabur, son of Hurmuz, king of the Persians, he grew up and become a young man, and, throughout […]
  • The literary development of the “Life” of St Nicholas of Myra (=Santa Claus)
    The modern idea of “Santa Claus” derives, at some remove, from the medieval legends of the Greek orthodox St. Nicholas of Myra, recorded in the hagiographical texts known as “Saints’ Lives”.  Ever since I discovered that none of these vita‘s have been translated into English, I have been looking into the matter.  Of course the […]
  • Why Methodius ad Theodorum (9 c.) is proving very difficult to translate
    Back in 2013 I wondered what the earliest sources were for the life of St. Nicholas of Myra, whose legends form the basis for the Santa Claus story.  There are three, all 9-10th century, in fact.  I decided that one of these, the Methodius ad Theodorum, c. 817-821 AD, would be a good candidate to get […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 11 (part 1)
    The memory of the Great Persecution, under Diocletian, persisted.  Unfortunately the details seem to have been entirely forgotten by Eutychius’ time, and been replaced by fiction. 1. Diocletian began to reign in the eleventh year of the reign of Sabur, son of Hurmuz, king of the Persians.  Together with Diocletian reigned Maximian called Ilkūriyūs (1).  They […]
  • More online Greek manuscripts at the British Library
    Another batch of Greek manuscripts has gone online at the British Library, which is excellent news.  It’s a fairly miscellaneous batch, but that’s all to the good.  New discoveries are not likely to be made in the “mainstream” manuscripts that are turned over constantly; but rather in those which are never handled or examined. Here […]
  • Sayings attributed to Jesus in Muslim sources, translated by Anthony Alcock
    In the Patrologia Orientalis 13 and 19 is a collection of deeds and sayings attributed to Jesus in Muslim sources of the 10th-11th century.  This was edited by Miguel Asin y Palacios in 1919 and 1924.  Asin apparently took the curious view that these went back to the 1st century.  (Anyone familiar at all with […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 10 (part 4 and end)
    Let’s continue using Google translate on the Italian translation of the Annals, with some smoothing and correcting, and see what Eutychius has to say.  This section again contains a chunk from the lost Sassanid Persian chronicle. 16. Ghallitīnūs Caesar, King of the Romans, died.  After him Claudius Caesar (61) reigned in Rome, for one year only.  […]
  • Latin scribes getting Greek numerals wrong – authorial corrections in the text of Jerome’s Chronicle
    Sometime before 325 AD, Eusebius of Caesarea compiled his Chronicle, in two books.  The second volume exploited the new, large-size, parchment codex, and consisted of page after page of tables of dates and events, synchronising events in different kingdoms, and laying the basis for all subsequent history.  Around 380, Jerome came across a copy in […]
  • From my diary – scanning my own past
    You do it.  I do it.  We all do it.  Yes, I’m talking about photocopies!  All those journal articles… all those books that we couldn’t get hold of in any other way. At least, that’s what we used to do.  I suspect that university libraries are allowing copying direct to PDF these days.  But certainly […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 10 (part 3)
    We continue reading the Arabic Christian Annals by Eutychius, Melkite patriarch of Alexandria.  The Sassanid kings, whose lost chronicle is used here, seem to have had a direct way with the Manichaeans. 9. Alexander Caesar, King of the Romans, died.  After him Maximinus Caesar (31) reigned over the Romans, in Rome, for three years.  This […]
  • Why do Greek alchemical works get more and more obscure in terminology over time?
    Greek technical literature is largely neglected.  Few can work with it, unless they have both excellent language skills, plus knowledge of the specialised jargon, plus some knowledge of the subject area – medicine, chemistry, or whatever. But even someone who has all this may find themselves baffled.  The following section from a paper in Ambix: […]
  • Some 1786 images from the Baths of Titus
    The Baths of Titus have long been destroyed.  They stood over part of the remains of Nero’s Golden House, itself filled with frescos. A volume published in 1786 and now online, Ponce, Description des bains de Titus, here, contains a general view of the Baths, as they then stood, together with the entrance to the underground […]
  • A bunch of Chrysostom and ps.Chrysostom now online in English
    Sometime correspondent “Inepti Graeculi” has been working away on some of the untranslated works of Chrysostom, and also some of the mass of literature attributed to him in transmission. This sort of work is excellent.  Voicu has estimated that there are around 1,500 texts which are spuriously attributed to Chrysostom.  They are, of course, works […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 10 (part 2)
    Up to now, Eutychius has repeated material derived from the Greek chronographic tradition.  As we saw in the last post, in chapter 10, for the first time, he introduces material from elsewhere: a now lost Sassanid Persian chronicle, beginning with Ardashir, founder of that dynasty.  Since it is unlikely that Eutychius knew Middle Persian, we […]
  • Constantinople photos: the original width of the Hippodrome, plus the column of Arcadius
    A couple of items have appeared on twitter this morning that I am loathe to let go by.  The first is a splendid, end-on view of the Hippodrome in Istanbul.  Note the arches at the foot of it.  This end of the Hippodrome was supported by them; which means that we can see just how […]
  • A first century fragment of Mark’s gospel? Some thoughts by an outsider
    An article in Live Science two days ago: Mummy Mask May Reveal Oldest Known Gospel A text that may be the oldest copy of a gospel known to exist — a fragment of the Gospel of Mark that was written during the first century, before the year 90 — is set to be published. … […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 10 (part1)
    Eutychius is obscure, so perhaps a reminder is in order.  It is often forgotten that the lands conquered by the Arabs contained large populations which did not instantly turn into Arabs, or into Moslems.  This text, the “Annals” is by the Melkite patriarch of Alexandria in the 10th century, Eutychius, also known as Sa`id ibn Bitriq.  […]
  • Help wanted by Perseus with metadata for Patrologia Graeca
    The Perseus project are working on the Patrologia Graeca and Patrologia Latina.  I’m not entirely certain what they are hoping to produce as output, but it looks as if they are OCRing the volumes, as best they can, and producing lists of what texts are contained, on what pages/column numbers, what footnotes, introductions, etc.  They […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 9 (to end)
    15. At that time the Jews returned to Jerusalem.  They then became so numerous that they filled the city, they decided to give themselves a king.  Hearing about this, Trajan Caesar sent one of his generals to Jerusalem at the head of a large army (41).  Countless Jews were killed in that way.  Now it happened […]
  • John the Lydian, “On the Roman months”, books 1-3: now online in English
    Mischa Hooker has very kindly translated books 1, 2 and 3 of John the Lydian, De Mensibus (On the Roman Months) for us all.  The results are now in the public domain: do as you like with them, and use them for personal, educational or commercial purposes. Book 1 did not make it to us […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 9 (part 3)
    8.  At the time of Nero Caesar, there lived a sage named Andrūmākhus who prepared for king Nero a very effective theriac, called by the Arabs “Diryâq” (16).  King Nero was killed in Rome.  When he learned that the king had been killed, Vespasian lifted the siege of Jerusalem, returned to Caesarea and halted there.  After him [=Nero], there reigned […]
  • A modern myth: that a soap factory was found at Pompeii, complete with scented bars!
    This evening I came across an assertion that a soap factory was found among the ruins of Pompeii.  Naturally interested, I did a google search and came across endless assertions of this kind.  Some of them asserted that the find came complete with bars of soap; some sites, indeed, felt able to state that the […]
  • Zosimos of Panopolis on soap and soap-making
    Previously we looked at the claim that Galen knows of soap.  In the same article we find the claim: Zosimos the alchemist [148] (c. A.D. 250) mentions both soap (σαπώνιον) and soap-making (σαπωναρικὲ τέκνη). 148.  Berthelot, Collection des anciens Alchemistes Grecs, 1888, vol. ii, 142.3, 143.7.  (This contains Zosimos; French translation here). It is always good […]
  • The Bufalini map of Rome (1551)
    Old maps of Rome can contain very useful information.  At this site is the 1748 reproduction of the 1551 Bufalini map of Rome.  The original is here, but for some strange reason is upside down and nearly unreadable.  (Both sites have annoyingly provided us with a “viewer” rather than a download of the whole map). […]
  • Galen on the origins of soap
    I stumbled across an interesting claim this afternoon, in the Wikipedia article on soap, which I traced to a 1960 textbook on the history of Greek fire (!) by a certain J.R. Partington. The origin of the name sapo has been much discussed. Some think it is from the German saipjo, others from the English […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 9 (Contd)
    Let’s continue with chapter 9 of this Arabic Christian work: 5. As for those who wonder why the patriarch of Alexandria is called “Bābā”, we answer: “Bābā” means “grandfather”.  But from the time when Ananias was made patriarch of Alexandria by the Evangelist Mark to the time of Demetrius, patriarch of Alexandria, who was the eleventh patriarch […]
  • John the Lydian, On the Roman Months IV: January now online
    Mischa Hooker has come up trumps and sent me a translation of the section of John the Lydian, On the Roman Months, book 4, which covers January!  As with previous sections of John, this details the various Roman festivals in the month, together with other calendrical information, often from lost sources.  Dr Hooker has also […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 9
    Let’s continue looking at how the 10th century Melkite patriarch of Alexandria saw the events of the 1st century AD, by giving a translation of the start of chapter 9 of the Annals: 1.  Pilate wrote to king Tiberius speaking of Christ, our Lord, and of his disciples and of the many miracles that they did, […]
  • Conference: Syriac intellectual activity in late antiquity. Oxford, 30th-31st January 2015.
    Today I became aware of a two-day conference in Oxford that sounds rather interesting.  It takes place in three weeks time. The title is Syriac intellectual culture in late antiquity: translation, transmission and influence and the abstracts are here.  The cost is negligible – £5 / $8 – and accomodation is possible for a rather more […]
  • Anthony Alcock, Third part of Coptic Sayings of the Fathers now online
    Dr Alcock has now sent me the third part of his translation of this work!  It’s here with the others.
  • Matti Moosa, RIP
    Armeniologist Robert Bedrosian writes: On Tuesday, December 30, 2014, the great U.S. Syriac scholar and historian, Matti Moosa, passed away. Although we never met in person, he and I became close friends via the Internet. He heard from somewhere that I was translating into English the medieval Armenian versions of Michael the Syrian’s Chronicle. Matti […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – the remainder of chapter 8.
    (Continuing our translation from the Italian, itself a very scarce book): 6.  From the time when the star appeared to the Magi, to the time when they knelt before Christ, our Lord, and then returned to their country, was two years.  It was told in a dream to Joseph, Mary’s husband, to take the child and his […]
  • Cassiodorus “Chronicle” now online in English
    Bouke Procee has kindly sent me a copy of his translation of this 6th century chronicle (CPL 2269), and made it public domain so that we can all use it.  A text is also included.  Here it is: Cassiodorus_Chronicle_Procee_2014 (PDF) Cassiodorus_Chronicle_Procee_2014 (.docx) Much of the material is reused from earlier Chronicles; the impact of Jerome’s Chronicle is […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 8, continued
    The story continues… (and, accidentally, rather seasonably!) 2.  From the reign of Alexander to the end of the reign of Cleopatra there were 289 years.  While Caesar Augustus was returning to Rome from Egypt, Herod met him a second time, in ar-Ramlah (11), bringing many gifts.  Caesar Augustus gave him power over the whole territory […]
  • Anthony Alcock : the “Sayings of the Fathers”, from Coptic
    Anthony Alcock has continued his excellent translations of Coptic texts, which he continues to make available online.  A few days ago he kindly sent me the first two parts (of four) of a translation of the Apophthegmata Patrum – The Sayings of the Fathers, so that they could be available online.  Here they are: Apophthegmata Patrum […]
  • And the tide rushes in: now self-service photography arrives at the British Library
    About ten years ago, when digital cameras had appeared, I went down to the British Library and asked if I could use mine to photograph manuscript items.  The female librarian to whom I spoke looked very angry and rudely and indignantly refused.  I remember thinking that the response was more or less as if I […]
  • 46 more British Library manuscripts online
    The flow of manuscripts continues!  Here’s some highlights from the latest batch at the British Library. Add MS 26112, Georgius Cedrenus, Compendium historiarum (TLG 3018.001), imperfect, starting from vol. 1, 546.3 and ending with 750.22, συγχάρια τῷ βασιλεῖ (from AD 374 to 641). 12th century. Add MS 27862, John of Damascus, Dialectica sive Capita philosophica […]
  • Locating images of monuments online
    A year or so ago I decided to collect some of the online images of monuments of Mithras, and put them together on my site with some explanatory material.  The reason is that I kept seeing some glorious images; with no idea what they were, or where they might be found.  Of course a complete […]
  • Augustus’ own reason for attacking Anthony, and an 18th century forgery
    In the old Loeb edition of Martial’s epigrams, translated by Walter C. A. Ker, there is a curious epigram in book XI, 20, which gives Augustus’ own stated motive for the war with Anthony.                XX CAESARIS Augusti lascivos, livide, versus sex lege, qui tristis verba Latina legis: “Quod futuit Glaphyran Antonius, hanc mihi poenani […]
  • The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – opening section of chapter 8
    (I thought that it might be interesting to see how an Arabic Christian writer of the 10th century, Eutychius, also known as Sa’id al-Bitriq, the patriarch of Alexandria, saw the events of the time of Christ.  I think we may all have some fun trying to recognise the names from the Arabic transcriptions!) 1. In the […]
  • Severian of Gabala bibliography updated again
    I received an email this evening telling me about four new English translations of homilies by Severian on the ascension; also that De Spiritu Sancto, as published by Migne, is missing the last 10 lines; and that the Clavis Patrum Graecorum Supplement has quite a bit of extra material.  Which, I find, it does. I […]
  • From my diary
    A new job at the start of November, so I have been rather preoccupied.  But a little progress has been made. I’ve commissioned a translation of the fragments of Theodore of Mopsuestia on Genesis.  The main part of this was published by Sachau from the Syriac, but there are also Greek fragments.  The tendency towards […]
  • The life of St Nicholas of Myra in the “Methodius ad Theodorum”
    Further to my post about the ancient literary sources for Santa Claus – or St Nicholas of Myra – I have begun to look at getting translations made.  The first up is the “letter” of Methodius to Theodore, Methodius Ad Theodorum, BHG 1352y, which appears in Anrich vol. 1, 140-150 and in a revised version (with […]
  • Half-way point on the British Library Greek manuscripts
    A post on the British Library manuscripts blog tells me something once almost unimaginable: that fully half the Greek manuscripts in the collection are now online and accessible to the world 90% of the Greek manuscripts of the BL will be online by March.  All credit is due to Julian Harrison and his team for […]
  • What does Eutychius’ Annals contain?
    Arabic Christian literature is little known.  There is no English-language handbook, and even the “big histories”, the works in which Arabic-speaking Christians recount their own history, are mostly not translated into English; or, indeed, sometimes even edited. Eutychius – also known as Sa`īd al-Bitrik -, Melkite Patriarch of Alexandria between 877-940 AD, wrote one of the […]
  • Coptic Acts of Andrew and Paul now online in English
    Anthony Alcock has continued his programme of translations with the first English translation of two Coptic fragments from a Vatican manuscript, which have been given the title of the Acts of Andrew and Paul.  The two were printed, with French translation, by X. Jacques, “Les deux fragments conservés des ‘Actes d’André et Paul'”, in Orientalia 38 […]
  • No photos allowed inside the National Museum in Damascus
    It seems that the Syrian National Museum in Damascus does not / did not allow photography inside the building.  Not that it got many tourists, thanks to the grim reputation of the Assad regime in the old days, but those who did turn up were prevented from photographing, or rather recording, the contents. That doesn’t […]
  • Wanted: an epigraphist. Or: Pancieri on “et nos servasti eternali sanguine fuso”
    One of the most famous discoveries in Mithraic studies is the text painted on the wall of the Mithraeum of Santa Prisca in Rome which reads “et nos servasti eternali sanguine fuso” – “and you have saved us through the shedding of the eternal blood.”  This has been widely compared to Christian ideas, and, outside […]
  • Proof that Roman gladiators hated astronauts
    Seen on Twitter this morning: Proof that Roman gladiators hated astronauts (via @CRKARLA) 😉 — Jason Major (@JPMajor) October 22, 2014 Hmm.  Maybe not. We’re often told that “archaeology is science so only archaeology is reliable.” So this is a fun illustration of the perils of that; of what can happen when you have no literary sources, and […]
  • Acts of Andrew and Paul: Does anyone have access to “Orientalia”?
    I need an article: can someone help me?  We may get a translation out of it, if we can get hold of the text. The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation by J. K. Elliott makes mention of some 9th century Coptic Acts of Andrew and Paul, on p.243. The text […]
  • 46 more Greek manuscripts online at the British Library – mostly classical or patristic!
    The British Library manuscripts blog has announced here (and in PDF form here) that another 46 manuscripts have gone online. Which is always good news! This particular group is rather special. For the first time it isn’t dominated by biblical texts. Instead we have mainly classical or patristic manuscripts. Of course a lot of these […]
  • Part 3 of the Chronicle of Seert translated by Anthony Alcock – now online
    Anthony Alcock has continued translating the Chronicle of Seert.  Part 3 arrived last night.  I have added it to the post with his other translations, here. This is excellent news.  The more translations that appear on the web, the more people will see them.  In particular this promotes interest among the educated general public; educated, […]
  • Choosing what we read: a spiritual warfare?
    It’s a dark, dull, rainy day today; and I am steadfastly refusing to notice.  Because I don’t want to let the rain influence my mood.  So far, it’s working! We all do the same, I know.  But why limit it to the weather? Yesterday I saw, on an American Christian site, Reviewing School Book Lists, […]
  • How the church changed after Constantine
    Seen on Twitter this week, via David Walsh: Jesus: ‘If someone strikes you, turn the other cheek’. Chrysostom in 387AD: ‘Slap them in the face!’ – something lost in translation there. It is always good practice to verify your quotations, but this is entirely genuine.  The reference is to the Homilies on the Statues, 1, […]
  • Two Pannonian monuments connecting Mithras with 25 Dec.?
    The Hungarian scholar Istvan Toth died this year.  I learn this from his page at, where may be found all his papers and books in electronic form.  This is no small thing, for many are quite inaccessible in the west, even in major research libraries.  Well done, Dr Toth, for making all this mass […]
  • A previously unpublished ancient Greek lexicon
    A few months ago I wrote a post summarising the lexica that have reached us from antiquity.  Often ancient material is embedded in the Byzantine lexica, which were also included. Via Peter Head at ETC I learn today that a previously unpublished Byzantine lexicon has made it into print, in an inexpensive edition: Eva Villani, […]
  • Primary sources for the Eleusinian mysteries
    At Eleusis stood the most important temple of Demeter, the Greek goddess of the crops and fertility.  The mysteries there were famous.  But what happened there? Needless to say there is a load of hogwash available in printed and web form averring that it was all exactly like a Christian ceremony, or maybe slightly like, […]
  • Ps.Chrysostom, De Salute Animae, now online in English
    A rather splendid Greek sermon appears in the Clavis Patrum Graecorum as entry 4622 (vol. 2, p.577-8), among the spuria of Chrysostom, with the title De salute animae (on the salvation of the soul).  Some mss. attribute it to Chrysostom, others to Ephrem Syrus.  It exists in two versions in Greek, and also in Coptic, […]
  • Norwich cathedral – no entrance unless you pay $8?
    The more things change, the more they stay the same.  All public institutions in our time seem to be in decay, with ever fatter salaries for those nominally in charge, and ever less concern as to whether the job gets done at all.  This is sometimes eerily remniscent of the 18th century.  Yesterday I found myself thinking of […]
  • Some translations by Anthony Alcock from Syriac, Coptic and Arabic
    Anthony Alcock has been busy on a number of texts, creating new translations.  He has kindly sent a number of these to me for upload here, although I think that they are also available on and perhaps on Alin Suciu’s blog also. In each case he provides a useful introduction. Here they are (all PDF): Chronicle […]
  • Severian of Gabala – On the Holy Spirit, now online in English
    Severian of Gabala (ca. 398 AD) was a member of the Antiochene school of biblical interpretation.  In consequence his sermons tend to be expository, and consequently still of value today.  Regrettably they have not been translated into English, for the most part.  Regular readers will be aware that I have commissioned translations of a number […]
  • Managing the photocopies!
    Alright.  Confess.  Is there anyone who does NOT have a large pile of photocopies of articles, book excerpts, and even complete books, somewhere in their house or study area?  No?  I thought not. Dratted nuisance, aren’t they? Years ago I used to file them, in hanging folders in filing cabinets.  This week I have been […]
  • The Green collection founder and his bible museum
    A commenter draws my attention to a most interesting article in the Washington Post: Hobby Lobby’s Steve Green has big plans for his Bible museum in Washington … The Bible museum taking shape in the building over the Federal Center SW Metro station started out in a very different location and with a very different […]
  • H.V.Morton on Gregory the Great and the deserted Palatine
    This morning I read these words: I descended the noble steps [from the church of St Gregory on the Caelian hill].  Every day of his life, I reflected, St Gregory while in Rome, and before he went to live at the Lateran Palace as Pope, must have seen the Colosseum; a few paces would take […]
  • From my diary
    The first complete draft of Severian of Gabala, De Spiritu Sancto, has arrived.  More to the point, I have now read through it all and given feedback.  One section of it is distinctly hard to follow in the original, because Severian is not being as clear as he might be.  In consequence he has to keep asking […]
  • Origen on Ezekiel: yet another translation has been made!
    A correspondent writes: Just wanted to alert you that John Sehorn successfully defended his PhD dissertation on Origen’s Homilies on Ezekiel 1–14 not long ago (link). Apparently it includes a translation of the text. He’s been at it for over three years now – I guess working parallel to you and Scheck. I don’t know.  […]
  • If you have access to HathiTrust, can you help me with a 1913 article?
    I’m trying to access an article from Italian journal Ausonia, from 1913.  Unfortunately, while many volumes of the journal before and after are accessible at, the particular issue I want is not. The article I want is C. Huelsen, “I lavori archeologici di Giovannantonio Dosio”, in: Ausonia: rivista della Società italiana di archeologia e storia […]
  • Sever J. Voicu’s 1990 article on Severian of Gabala
    It is hard to do much work on Severian of Gabala for lack of access to the basic materials; texts, translations and studies.  The list of works in the Clavis Patrum Graecorum is useful, but hard to access and split across various entries and sub-sections.  The most important article on the subject is, and remains […]
  • Severian of Gabala news
    A couple of updates on the Severian of Gabala work. Firstly, Bryson Sewell has sent me a first draft of his English translation of De Spiritu Sancto (PG 52 813-826). It still needs heavy revision, and I haven’t commented on it yet, but it is there in skeleton at least.  It looks interesting, for the most […]
  • More Greek manuscripts at the British Library
    An announcement this morning that 44 more Greek manuscripts are now online at the British Library, thanks to funding from Stavros Niarchos. Many are biblical manuscripts.  The following will be of interest to us. (Apologies for any errors; some thoughtless person at the BL site has fiddled with the copy and paste, removing all formatting and adding a pointless […]
  • John the Lydian on August
    Another chunk of John the Lydian, De mensibus, book 4, has arrived from Mischa Hooker.  Indeed it arrived at the weekend, but was delayed by my own illness.  As might be expected, this covers the month of August. JohnLydus-4-08-August (PDF) JohnLydus-4-08-August (Word .doc file) There is material on Augustus, as might be expected, and calendrical material.  No […]
  • Is it time to nationalise the academic publishers?
    A few tweets this morning were complaining about the inaccessibility of the main reference works for patristics, the Clavis Patrum Latinorum and the Clavis Patrum Graecorum.  These works are essentially lists of works by patristic authors.  Each is assigned a number, and the opening words of the first line are given.  If the text appears in the […]
  • British Patristics Conference underway today
    The 5th British Patristics conference is beginning today in London, and it runs until Friday.  There is a great mass of interesting papers on offer. Unfortunately I am unable to attend.  I wish that I was there, and I booked back in January.  But a virus has laid me low since Saturday – undoubtedly acquired […]
  • Having the right tools
    It is wonderful what a difference it makes to have the right tools. Years ago I obtained a thesis from the US, for which I was charged like a wounded bull.  It was printed double-sided, and I had no sheet-feeder able to handle that.  Today I found two very old Finereader projects on disk, neither […]
  • Going a-Rome-ing in August
    Readers of twitter will be aware that I went to Rome last Friday, coming back Monday afternoon.  I booked only a couple of weeks earlier, so I had to pay a large sum to the airline.  But the hotel was cheap, relatively.  Even so, the money seemed to vanish! Going to Rome in August was […]
  • Mithras, the church of Santa Prisca, and the perils of the imagination
    The Mithraeum of Santa Prisca in Rome is of great importance to Mithraic studies because it contains striking wall paintings, with text against the images.  The scenes depict a procession of the seven grades of initiate, and other interesting items.  Among the verses is a statement that “you have saved us after the shedding of […]
  • From my diary: the evanescent internet
    Today, at work, I cast around for a web-based form to point a computer program at, for testing purposes.  I recalled my own feedback form, at, and decided to use that.  I was having one of those days, you know, when everything goes wrong.  But at least my own website wouldn’t let me down, […]
  • “Septimus Severus” or “Septimius Severus”? A false trail
    Today I came across an image by Sophie Hay, of the British School of Rome, of an inscription lying near the west gate of Leptis Magna in Libya.  She kindly sent me a hi-res copy, which I have sharpened (click on it to see the full size image): Looking at a section of the lower […]
  • From my diary
    The sales figures for the books have come in.  The Eusebius is still selling, although not in great numbers; the Origen has yet to really get underway, although it may do better once the reviews appear. I’ve continued to work on the Mithras website.  For the most part this is reactive; e.g. somebody posts an […]
  • Abandoning the transcription of al-Makin project
    In any language group the first literature that we read is usually the histories of themselves, by themselves.  In Arabic Christian literature there are five such histories: Agapius, Euthychius, Al-Makin, Bar Hebraeus, and one other whose name I can never remember. Of all of these, the 13th century history of al-Makin has attracted my attention […]
  • Is “Happy Birthday” an egregrious example of fraudulent claim of copyright?
    Techdirt today have published an article making the extraordinary claim that one of the world’s leading music publishers has fraudulently collected hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties for the song, “Happy Birthday”, when – they say – it is in fact out of copyright: Lawsuit Filed To Prove Happy Birthday Is In The Public […]
  • John the Lydian on “July” – now online in English
    For the last few months, each month we’ve had a chapter from a 6th century antiquarian on the festivals and days of the month.  Our translation of John the Lydian, De Mensibus book 4, has now reached July. As ever Mischa Hooker has done a super job on it, with copious footnotes.  This month contains […]
  • From my diary
    It’s hotter than hell in the office in which I work, which is not helping me get anything done!  However I’m also close to Cambridge University Library, and I’ve made two trips there in the evening this week, in search of books and articles. I’m still thinking about Severian of Gabala.  I’ve now obtained a […]
  • Severian bibliography updated
    A couple of tweaks to my Severian  bibliography.  As ever, this is not an academic bibliography but just something for my own use from which to commission translations. Severian of Gabala – works (PDF) Severian of Gabala – works (.docx) UPDATE: Forgot to add notes from Homiliæ Pseudo-Chrysostomicæ. UPDATE: Newer versions here.
  • Unpublished homilies by Severian of Gabala which are not listed in the CPG?
    I’m preparing to commission an English translation of CPG 4188, Severian of Gabala’s De Spiritu Sancto (=PG 52. 813-826).  While searching the web for any indication of an existing translation – for I wouldn’t want to duplicate – I came across an article by Danish scholar Holger Villadsen here.  Then, blessedly, I came across a […]
  • Severian of Gabala – On repentance and compunction – now online in English
    Bryson Sewell has now translated for us Severian of Gabala’s sermon on repentance, De paenitentia et compunctione (CPG 4186).  This is another rather splendid ancient sermon, as most of those attributed to Severian seem to be (so far!).  Whether they are really by Severian may reasonably be doubted a lot of the time, I admit. […]
  • Notes on Walter Bauer’s “Orthodoxy and Heresy” – part 5. Afterthoughts
    It is now a year since I wrote four posts examining the first chapter of Walter Bauer’s Orthodoxy and Heresy, and others on points of detail.   All the posts may be found here. I had intended to write a further post, summing up what I had found.  But in the end I never did.  […]
  • A book describing the ceiling of the vanished Septizonium in Rome
    A couple of weeks ago Ste. Trombetti posted on Twitter another couple of finds about the Septizonium.  This was a facade in front of the Palatine hill in Rome, erected at the end of the Appian Way as a kind of formal entrance to the palaces, by Septimius Severus.  It was pulled down in the […]
  • Notes on the manuscript tradition of Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations”
    A slim undated hardback of an old English translation of the “meditations” of the emperor Marcus Aurelius came into my hands last week for a couple of pounds in a seaside second-hand bookshop.  The long preface by the unnamed translator  -who proves to be George Long, a 19th c. scholar – was a bit odd, but contained […]
  • Oxyrhynchus Papyri online … or maybe only in the US?
    Via AWOL: Oxyrhynchus Papyri Volumes 1-15 online The Oxyrhynchus Papyri Volume 1 (1898) The Oxyrhynchus Papyri Volume 2 (1899) The Oxyrhynchus Papyri Volume 3 (1903) The Oxyrhynchus Papyri Volume 4 (1904)[Alternative version] The Oxyrhynchus Papyri Volume 5 (1908) The Oxyrhynchus Papyri Volume 6 (1908) The Oxyrhynchus Papyri Volume 7 (1910) The Oxyrhynchus Papyri Volume 8 […]
  • Origen of Alexandria: Exegetical works on Ezekiel. Sermons, scholia, fragments.
    The second book in Ancient Texts in Translation is now available.  This is a translation of all that Origen wrote on Ezekiel, together with the original text.  The work was translated by Mischa Hooker, who has gamely worked away at this for five years.  The results are really quite satisfactory. I’m not sure that I […]
  • The demolition of the Meta Sudans
    Quite by accident these evening I discovered a photograph of the Meta Sudans which is different to the rest.  It shows what look like troops  marching past a half-demolished Meta Sudans.  Presumably these are some of Mussolini’s black-shirts. Here it is (from somewhere on this site – I got it via Google Images): Here is another […]
  • Images of vanished Rome once more
    Ste. Trombetti has turned his attention to the Dutch Rijksmuseum in his search for old etchings and drawings of Rome.  The search for this museum is here. The first image is of the vanished Septizonium, from 1550, a drawing by Hieronymus Cock (Antwerpen c. 1518-1570).  The majority of the image consists of some unfamiliar-looking ruins […]
  • A couple more images of the Meta Sudans (minus one I can’t show you!)
    Ste. Trombetti has had more luck today, this time finding images of the vanished fountain that stood between the arch of Constantine and the Colosseum. The first item is an undated photograph on a German site – the “- here.  It’s quite a splendid image.  The site owners seem to be demanding money, the thieves.  So I […]
  • Images of vanished Rome : the Septizonium and the Meta Sudans
    Ste. Trombetti has been busily searching the online site of the Spanish National Library, and posting the results on Twitter. First of these is a view of the Septizonium, the vanished facade of the Palatine, built by Severus at the end of the Appian Way and demolished in the 16th century for materials to build […]
  • Review: “Commentaries on Genesis 1-3: Severian of Gabala” from IVP Academic
    Severian of Gabala is best known, if he is known at all, for his six sermons on Genesis 1-3.  His fame, or notoriety, is because he expounds a curious flat-earth theory in them.   This opinion, very rare among early Christian writers, is enough to stigmatise him in modern eyes, and his work has consequently received far […]
  • Severian of Gabala, “De fide et de lege natura” – now online in English
    Bryson Sewell has made the first English translation of another work by the 4th century preacher, Severian of Gabala.  This one is On faith and the natural law (De fide et de lege natura) (CPG 4185).  It is a homily on faith and works, in terms that would undoubtedly have interested Martin Luther, had he […]
  • Another image of the Vatican rotunda
    In the modern basilica of St Peter’s in Rome, the high altar is at the west end. The same was true of the basilica built in the 4th century by Constantine. By the south door of the basilica stood two large round buildings, which ran in a line west-east.  The western-most of these was demolished […]
  • Lexicon: an introduction to the dictionaries of ancient Greek that survive from antiquity
    Around twenty ancient and medieval lexicons/dictionaries/glossaries/encyclopedias of Greek words and their meanings have reached us, plus quite a number of minor lexica.  These works contain lists of Greek words, often dialect or otherwise unusual.  In many cases they are concerned with advising the reader how to write Attic Greek correctly. The works exist because, after the […]
  • “Glossa ordinaria” on 1, 2 and 3 John now available in English
    The Glossa Ordinaria is a medieval Latin commentary on the bible, composed of excerpts from earlier writers (including the Fathers).  John Litteral writes to say that he has setup a project to translate it, here. The results are now starting to appear.  The translation of the section on 1 John, 2 John and 3 John into […]
  • Translation of Bar Hebraeus “Chronicon Ecclesiasticum” to appear later this year
    David Wilmshurst writes to tell me that he has reached agreement with Gorgias Press and that his translation of the Chronicon Ecclesiasticum of Bar Hebraeus will appear in print before the end of 2014. This is excellent news.  All our knowledge of Syriac literature – who wrote what, and when – is based on this […]
  • Jerome: God hates the sacrifices of heretics
    An interesting quote came my way on Twitter: God hates the sacrifices of these [i.e., heretics] and pushes them away from Himself, and whenever they come together in the name of the Lord, He abhors their stench, and holds His nose… Fortunately the tweeter had a reference: Comment in Amos Proph, P.L. 25 1053-1054. Those […]
  • A change to comment policy
    The quantity of spam that is slipping past Akismet is now large enough that I feel obliged to change the comment setting.  From here all comments will be held foe moderation unless I have previously approved a comment by you. I wish that all the policemen busily trawling twitter for thoughtcrime would spend as much […]
  • John the Lydian’s thoughts on the Roman months: June is now online in English
    Another chunk of John the Lydian, De Mensibus – on the Roman Months – book 4 is now available!  Find it here: JohnLydus-4-06-June (PDF) JohnLydus-4-06-June (docx) As ever, full of abtruse Roman customs, and copiously and learnedly annotated. Have fun!
  • Basil the Great, On holy baptism – now online in English
    A correspondent writes to say that he has discovered a forgotten translation of Basil the Great’s Sermon 13: On holy baptism (In Sanctum Baptismum). He found it as an appendix in an 1843 American volume of Catholic anti-protestant polemic on the subject, issued by a certain Francis Patrick Kenrick who was later to become Archbishop […]
  • A Coptic life of Severian of Gabala (!)
    Severian of Gabala was the enemy of John Chrysostom.  The latter’s importance necessarily involved Severian’s eclipse, and all the accounts of their quarrel are written from John’s point of view.  Or so I thought.  But an email from Albocicade, a correspondent of this blog, reveals a “Life of St. Severian of Gabala”, in the Arabic […]
  • Severian bibliography updated again
    I’ve done a little more work on the Severian bibliography, so here’s an updated version.  It’s still a work in progress, but at the moment I have other things preventing me working on it. Severian of Gabala – works (PDF) Severian of Gabala – works (.docx) UPDATE: Later version here.
  • Rome in 1557 – Old St Peters, the Septizonium, the Templum Solis
    Another marvellous find by @ste_trombetti at the Bibliotheque Nationale here; – a large map depicting Rome in 1557!  Here is an excerpt (click on the image to see it all)  I have ventured to highlight, in this excerpt, three monuments, all now vanished.  Near the Palatine, the remains of the monumental entrance to the Palatine, […]
  • Patristics Carnival XXXV: Pentecost Edition – at Linguae Antiquitatum
    It’s now available here:
  • Some 1860 photos of the lost Meta Sudans fountain in Rome
    The meta sudans was an ancient Roman fountain outside the Colosseum.  It was demolished, atypically, by Mussolini in 1936 as part of his improvements to Roman road transport.  By then it was in a sad state. Two marvellous photos have been found by @ste_trombetti on Twitter in a volume of photographs taken in 1860 by […]
  • How to download a book at the German Arachne – DAI site
    I had trouble with this, so I am going to document it here!  With pictures.  Because it’s about as user-friendly as a cornered rat; but obvious once you know. Say you want to download a volume of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum?  These are here.  So go to that link.  You get a page like this […]
  • From my diary
    It’s been a busy 24 hours.  Another chunk of the translation of Eusebius’ Commentary on Luke has appeared – this work now nearly done, thankfully. As previous posts have indicated, Severian’s De pace came in.  I have commissioned another Severian, and a second gentleman has expressed interest in doing Severian as well.  I’m willing.  In […]
  • The epigrams of Palladas of Alexandria
    On twitter a couple of days ago I came across this item by Bettany Hughes: Palladas of Alexandria c.350AD ‘in the darkness of night Zeus stood beside me and said: “Even I, a god, have learned to live with the times”. @Bettany_Hughes I confess that Palladas is not a name that I had ever heard […]
  • What did the Romans bury with a 5th century empress?
    The demolition of the Constantinian basilica of St Peter’s in Rome, in the 16th century, in order to build the present church, also required the demolition of the neighbouring circular chapel of St Petronilla.  This building stood next to the south door, and probably predated the basilica.  Like the chapel of St Andrew nearby, it […]
  • English translations of Chrysostom “De Severiano Recipiendo” and Severian’s “De pace” now online
    Long ago I became aware that there were two related sermons in the Patrologia Graeca.  The first was given by John Chrysostom, after the empress had interceded to patch up a dispute between him and another bishop, and entitled De Severiano Recipiendo (CPG 4395) – That Severian must be received.  The other was delivered the […]
  • Severian of Gabala – bibliography (updated)
    I uploaded a list of the works of Severian of Gabala here.  I’ve worked on it a bit more since, and revised versions are now available: Severian of Gabala – works (PDF) Severian of Gabala – works (DOCX) I don’t seem to have done anything on these for a week, so best to park them […]
  • Academic hoaxes, academic feuding – an article in the Oldie
    The Oldie magazine is probably read by few of us, being mainly for people who are, well, old.  A correspondent has sent me a copy of an article in this week’s issue, written by the editor, Richard Ingrams. Harvey’s revenge We love a spot of academic intrigue and so were delighted to receive an email […]
  • “You’re not the same religion as me” – Severian of Gabala and his editors and reviewers
    Severian of Gabala (fl. 398 AD) was the enemy of John Chrysostom, patriarch of Constantinople, and assisted in driving the latter into exile and to his death.  The disagreement between them was not ideological, but arose from perceived snubs by John’s officials.  It seems that the patriarchal officialdom created enemies for Chrysostom faster than he […]
  • Plans and illustrations of the Vatican from 1694
    We’ve been looking at old pictures of Old St Peter’s in Rome, and thinking about the Circus of Nero nearby, and other structures from ancient Rome. Last week Brent Nongbri very kindly sent me an extract from one of those tourist books, which the Italians do so well, about the pagan tombs under the Vatican, which contains some […]
  • Boxes of papyri in Berlin “unopened” since they left Egypt a century ago
    I’m reading William Brashear’s 1991 publication of P. Berol. 21196, identified as a Mithraic “catechism”.  It probably comes from excavations at Ashmunein (Hermopolis), undertaken by O. Rubensohn in 1906.  He asks, in the preface, if any more fragments of the papyrus are extant, and was unable to find any.  But then he states that there […]
  • Ancient sources on the Gaianum / Circus of Nero
    It might be useful to gather all the ancient testimonies on the Circus of Nero / Circus of Gaius, on the Vatican, and see what they do, and do not, tell us. Pliny the Elder, Natural History, NH book 36, chapter 14 / section 70 (Loeb, vol. 10, p.54-5): Divus Claudius aliquot per annos adservatam, qua […]
  • An extract from Severian of Gabala “On Epiphany”
    While working on the bibliography of Severian of Gabala, I came across a 1952 paper by A. Wenger in which he publishes, with French translation, a portion of Severian’s homily on Epiphany.  I thought that it might be good to give this here in English. So great is the light, so great is the beauty […]
  • Revue des Etudes Augustiniennes available online!
    I had not realised that the important French journal, Revue des Etudes Augustiniennes, was freely available online from 1955-2005, but so it is!  It’s here. Marvellous!
  • How ancient writers lost their books? A modern parallel!
    Ancient writers often composed their works in many books.  Often, we find that not all of these books have reached us.  Some have; some have not. This evening I had an illuminating experience. Like many people, I have a directory on my hard disk, full of PDF’s of old Loeb editions.  Among these are nine volumes […]
  • Works of Severian of Gabala
    Severian of Gabala (fl. ca. 398 AD) was the enemy of John Chrysostom.  A popular preacher at the court of Constantinople, where he preached in a pleasant Syrian accent, and favoured by the empress, he was among the various people slighted or snubbed by John Chrysostom’s officials.  In consequence he became an enemy, and was […]
  • John the Lydian on the month of May – now online in English!
    The 6th century Greek writer, John the Lydian, composed a work in 4 books on the Roman months (De mensibus).  The work is full of antiquarian information, which makes it a fascinating source for Roman time.  Book 4 consists of 12 chapters, one for each month. In a very timely way,  Mischa Hooker has now […]
  • Bits and pieces on the Circus of Nero
    Today I came across this picture here, clearly of a model, of the “Circus of Caligula / Circus of Nero” on the Vatican.  Whether the two circuses were indeed the same I do not know.  But the model-maker was clearly aware of the construction of a large circular building on the spina of the circus […]
  • New translation of Chrysostom’s 3 sermons on the devil now available
    Bryson Sewell has finished making a new translation of the three sermons De diabolo temptatore (CPG 4332) by John Chrysostom.  These are now available here: chrysostom-devil-bryson-2014.doc chrysostom-devil-bryson-2014.pdf And I hope they will become available also at in due course, but their uploader seems to be having an off-day. The sermons are really quite interesting […]
  • Piranesi’s drawing of Old St Peter’s square ca. 1660
    Via Wikimedia:
  • A wooden model of Old St Peter’s
    I found this on Wikimedia Commons here, and adjusted the image to make it clearer.
  • Old St Peters, the Circus of Caligula and the Phrygianum
    The Vatican hill is famous today for the great basilica of St Peters, constructed in the third decade of the fourth century by Constantine, and demolished and rebuilt in the 16th century.  A collection of essays on this building appeared in 2013, edited by R. McKitterick, which contains various interesting snippets. Few today are familiar […]
  • Worrying questions about the supposed new NT papyri from mummy cartonnage
    In my last post, I noted that Peter Head pointed out that we have a forger active among us, who knows how to play to the predispositions of scholars. I have just seen a very sound post by Roberta Mazza, discussing the supposed discovery of a bunch of interesting papyri from mummy cartonnage – papyrus […]
  • How to scam a scholar – the ps.Gospel of Jesus’ Wife affair
    I expect many of us have watched the story of a papyrus fragment purporting to reveal that Jesus had a wife.  Coptologist Christian Askeland discovered clear proof of forgery, thanks to a bit of carelessness by the forger, and the story is now history. Peter Head has an article here which is so useful that […]
  • Origen hardback arrives!
    The hardback test copy of Origen of Alexandria: Exegetical works on Ezekiel (text and translation of the homilies and fragments) has arrived and is fine.  This is the first time I have seen the hardback, and its cover, and it all looks very good!  It’s a meaty volume and no mistake! I’ve now pressed the […]
  • Origen of Alexandria on Ezekiel has arrived!
    The paperback proof of the new book has arrived!  Origen of Alexandria: Exegetical works on Ezekiel, translated by Mischa Hooker, has hit my doormat with a mighty thump in its paperback incarnation: So far, so good.  I can’t see any obvious problems with it, which means that we can go to print and (I hope) sell […]
  • Caesar’s reform of the calendar – some ancient sources
    Plutarch, Caesar 59: 59. 1. The adjustment of the calendar, however, and the correction of the irregularity in the computation of time, were not only studied scientifically by him, but also brought to completion, and proved to be of the highest utility. 2. For not only in very ancient times was the relation of the lunar to […]
  • More on Old St Peters in Rome
    This morning I found some more material of interest about Old St Peters in Rome. Firstly, I found a rather good line-drawing of the appearance of the church here. This is really helpful in trying to visualise Constantine’s basilica. The “atrium” at the front looked like this (drawing by G. Grimaldi), although normally it must […]
  • De’Cavalieri’s image of the Septizonium.
    Well!  The British Museum seems to have quite a few engravings by Giovanni Battista De’Cavalieri online.  Browsing them here, I quickly see that some come from a 1569 book entitled, promisingly, Urbis Romae aedificiorum illustrium quae supersunt reliquiae, i.e. Remains of famous buildings of the city of Rome.  It contains some fascinating images. Here’s the […]
  • Another image of old St Peters in Rome
    Old St Peters in Rome was not demolished until the end of the 16th century, so there ought to be quite a number of engravings and artists’ depictions of it.  I confess, tho, that I know little about early engravers, and so don’t know where to look. The following item, from 1575, is by Giovanni […]
  • An evening in Cambridge, a strange phrase in a book, and a man who ran away
    Staying in a hotel with nothing to read is not a pleasant experience.  So I decided to drive into Cambridge town centre after work today. Those familiar with the city will know that such a decision is not idly taken.  The hopeless congestion, caused by two decades of mingled spite and negligence on the part […]
  • Some early engravings of the Septizonium
    I have blogged before about the Septizonium, a monumental facade constructed by Septimus Severus at the foot of the Palatine where it faced the end of the Appian Way.  It seems to have had no function other than to impress the visitor.  The last remains of it were demolished to provide materials for new St. […]
  • From my diary
    I have just deleted over 50,000 spam comments from this blog; all of them received within the last couple of weeks. I could wish that the politicians were rather less ready to arrest people for expressing dissenting views online, and rather more interested in dealing with this plague.  
  • Greek and Latin Epigraphy – an absolute beginners’ guide
    A marvellous resource has appeared online here.  It’s by Onno van Nijf, and is named the “The Absolute Beginners’ Guide to Greek and Roman Epigraphy”. Since I don’t know anything about this myself, it’s wonderful to find an orientation guide. Recommended. Via AWOL.
  • Struck by the Lightning Source … right in the Origen … ouch!
    The Origen book – a text and translation of his works on Ezekiel, including masses of catena material – is complete!  This afternoon, after a mighty struggle with the crummy online interface that Lightning Source Inc provide their hapless customers, I managed to upload the files and order the full proofs, complete with covers and dust-jackets.  […]
  • Happy Easter
    Christ died.  Everyone dies.  But Christ is risen, to show that we too can rise. If we sign up with Christ, then we find that our lives have some point, and some prospect in the future.  May I recommend this to all my readers this Easter. Happy Easter to you all.
  • A time to hold and a time to give – when to pass on old books
    Today I made a decision to do something necessary, yet it was a wrench.  I decided to give away my copy of the 1608 Commelin edition of Tertullian’s works. I bought it over the internet, years ago.  In those days we had no PDFs online.  The only way to get hold of the detailed apparatus, […]
  • Rufinus’ account of the fall of the temple of Serapis in Alexandria
    This evening I  happened across some files on my hard disk containing an English translation of the Ecclesiastical History of Rufinus.  The following account is given of the fall of the Serapeum in Alexandria: 11.23. I suppose that everyone has heard of the temple of Serapis in Alexandria, and that many are also familiar with […]
  • A marvellous collection of photographs – Following Hadrian, by Carole Raddato
    Over the last couple of months, I have become aware of another individual who, quietly, and without any fanfare, is making a real difference to ancient history online.  Her name is Carole Raddato, and she writes the Following Hadrian blog. What she is doing is travelling all over the Roman Empire, and photographing its material […]
  • Copyright and critical editions – a French court says the text is not copyright
    Today I learned via Maïeul Rouquette of a fascinating court case in France, here, (in French).  The question is whether editing a critical text of an ancient author creates a copyright. The dispute is between two companies, Droz and Garnier.  Garnier placed online the text (without apparatus or commentary) of certain medieval texts, using the text published […]
  • Proof-reading help wanted
    The edition and translation of Origen’s Homilies on Ezekiel that I commissioned is now in its final stages.  I need someone to check that the latest bunch of changes were applied correctly, and also to go through the footnotes in one (long 150 page) section and check that the numerals are in the right places, […]
  • Chariot-racing at Leptis Magna in a mosaic
    The circus of the Roman city of Leptis Magna in Libya was plundered for stone by a rascally Frenchman a couple of centuries ago.  However we can get a good idea of what it looked like from a mosaic at the Villa Selene, nearby.  Unfortunately it’s not that easy to make out.  Here’s my 2006 […]
  • A postit note
    The task is done; the peace is signed, Fearful tensions now unwind, Peace in our time! the foolish cry, The wise will keep their powder dry. — Bob Harrison, Ashford, Kent, 27 Feb. 98, on BBC Ceefax. It’s a new financial year, which means a new set of accounts here in the UK where I […]
  • Digitising ancient texts – the future that did not happen
    This morning I saw the following announcement: We’re really proud to announce that EpiDoc XML versions of all 99 volumes of the monumental Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum (CSEL) are now being added to the Open Greek and Latin Project‘s GitHub repository! What it means, for non-techno junkies, is that someone has scanned the 99 volumes of the […]
  • Where have all the photos (of archaeology) gone? Gone to recycle bins, every one.
    There’s no getting away from it: the Roman city of Leptis Magna in Libya is gorgeous.  It’s situated by the sea, the surrounding area is very underdeveloped, thanks to Gaddafi’s tyranny, and it gives you such a great idea of what a Roman city looked like.  I’ve been twice, and would gladly go again.  Even […]
  • The inopportune polemicist in my email inbox
    I get a lot of email, either directly or through the form on this site.  Most of it is very interesting.  Some of it makes work for me.  And sometimes I get an email which makes me rub my eyes and wonder what – or if – the author was thinking. A couple of days […]
  • From my diary
    Lately I’ve been taking an interest in the monuments of Mithras in Egypt.  Apparently some are in the museum in Alexandria, while others come from Memphis and are in the Graeco-Roman room in the Cairo museum.  I haven’t been very fortunate in finding images from either online.  Is it possible that one or both of […]
  • English translation of Michael the Syrian by Matti Moosa now available
    A very large and unexpected parcel arrived today.  In it was … the first published English translation of the world history of Michael the Syrian, or Michael Rabo, to give him his proper name.  Matti Moosa, who has translated a number of important Syriac texts, is the translator, and he has kindly sent me a […]
  • The decay of digital media
    This evening I was looking through some PDF’s of a Mithras reference volume, which a correspondent very kindly scanned for me some time back.   I keep a copy on my travelling laptop, and so when I am working away from home, I can work on the site in the evenings in the hotel.  I was, in fact, […]
  • Damascius on Orphic mythology
    The philosopher Damascius was the last head of the Academy at Athens, at the time when it was closed down by Justinian in 529 AD. His Problems and Solutions concerning first principles has recently been translated by Sara Ahbel-Rappe, and a preview of the book is online. This is a very useful piece of work; […]
  • From my diary
    I’m still working away on the Mithras site.  This week I’ve been dealing with the find of statues and inscriptions at Merida in 1902-3, when a bull ring was constructed.  No archaeological investigation was undertaken, and details are very hazy. Meanwhile I have discovered some time-consuming problems with the footnotes in the Origen book, in […]
  • From my diary
    I’m very busy with the Mithras site, uploading more data about monuments.  Last night I worked on the page on the Caernarvon Mithraeum, adding information from the excavation report.  It was discovered in 1959, during preparatory work by a jerry-builder developer, and is now a set of rather dreary-looking 50’s houses.  Today I’ve been looking […]
  • Origen’s Homilies on the Psalms – in English in a dissertation
    A correspondent has drawn my attention to the existence of an English translation of Origen’s nine surviving homilies on the psalms.  It is to be found in a dissertation by Michael Heintz, The pedagogy of the soul: Origen’s “Homilies on the Psalms“, Notre Dame, 2008.  It can be accessed via the commercial ProQuest database – […]
  • Mithras scholar Vermaseren on the Mithras cranks
    There are endless crank books about Mithras, usually with an anti-Christian twist.  They go unnoticed by scholars, as a rule. A correspondent drew my attention to some remarks made by Maarten Vermaseren on one of them.  The title is Mithras: the fellow in the cap, by a certain Mrs Wynne-Tyson, back in 1958 (but reprinted […]
  • Finding archaeology online about Mithras
    I’m extremely busy at the moment adding material to the Mithras site.  At the moment this is driven by a list of Mithraeums discovered since 1960.  I am attempting to research each of these online, grab some text, some images, and create a page for it.  This is, inevitably, a very time-consuming business. Several things […]
  • A quotation from Libanius
    I found the following quotation online (on a tee-shirt!), attributed to Libanius: Men are neither suddenly rich, nor suddenly good. As an aphorism it is rather like Libanius himself; a bit trite.  But did he say it? I find the saying attributed already in A handbook of proverbs by a certain John Ray, published by […]
  • Help! How can I get hold of this?
    Time for a public appeal!  I’m trying to get hold of an exhibition catalogue, for an exhibition held at the town hall in Viterbo on 21 June 1997-10th January 1998, title: Il Mitreo di Vulci : Montalto di Castro, Palazzo del Comune, 21 giugno 1997-10 gennaio 1998, which is 43 p. and was written by a […]
  • Italian items online!
    I spend a very busy morning attempting to locate the publication of the Mithraeum in Vulci, in Etruria.  My search was rewarded, after around 3 hours persistence, by discovering that it was online!  It was certainly impossible to buy, probably because it seems to have been an exhibition catalogue. The site that made this possible […]
  • From my diary
    I’m mainly busy with the Mithras site at the moment. I’ve been working through a list of new finds since 1960 made by John W. Brandt, together with a list by Szabo Csaba.  In each case I do a web search for pictures or sites.  I did the Riegel Mithraeum on Friday night.  It’s slow, […]
  • A ray of light for Mithras at Hawarte on the 25th December?
    I’ve been back working on the Mithras site in the evenings, and in particular looking at Mithraea found in recent years.   I’ve created a page for these, and I’m going through them. Last night I was searching for material about the Hawarte Mithraeum in Syria.  The site was a 5th century church, excavated in the […]
  • 1st century inscription mentioning the library at Alexandria
    A tweet drew my attention to a monument by a certain Tiberius Claudius Babillus which mentions the library of Alexandria.  There is a Wikipedia article about him here, asserting that he died in 59 AD (we will all be wary of anything in this source I am sure). An image is online at Wikimedia Commons here: […]
  • Ancient Christian Writers volumes online at
    A correspondant tells me of a website which lists the volumes of the ACW series, and, better, has links to some which are online at!  The link is here. Ah, those were the days, before century-long copyrights!!
  • The Bankes 2nd c. Homer papyrus roll now online at the British Library
    I wonder how many of us have ever heard of the “Bankes papyrus”?  Certainly not I, before today.  Yet it is a fascinating item. A tweet from Sarah Biggs alerted me that: The Bankes Homer is now online & blog post to come! (Papyrus 114, Greek, 2nd century). P.Lond.lit.28, British Library papyrus 114, is a 2nd […]
  • Getty your hand out of my wallet – some way to go on open access, I fear
    The Getty Museum laudably makes some images available online.  Some of these (but not all) may be freely used for personal purposes online.  Most of the images on their site are NOT usable by anyone else, and they want money if we want to use any of them for scholarly purposes. This simple statement is […]
  • What happened to the later neoplatonists – a quotation from Damascius
    A passage in Damascius’ commentary on the Phaedo sheds an interesting light on the later neoplatonist philosophers and their involvement in theurgy – the art of invoking the gods by magic: Some honour philosophy more highly, as do Porphyry and Plotinus and many other philosophers; others honour more highly the hieratic art [=theurgy] as do […]
  • A list of the works of Origen (Jerome, Letter 33)
    A correspondent kindly sent me some extracts of a English translation of Henri Crouzel’s book on Origen.  On p.37-38 I find an English translation of the list of Origen’s works, as given by Jerome in letter 33.  This is very useful information, and I reproduce it below. On Genesis 13 books;[3] assorted homilies 2 books; on […]
  • New edition of “Scribes and Scholars”
    Via Paleojudaica: 4TH EDITION: Scribes and Scholars: A Guide to the Transmission of Greek and Latin Literature by L. D. Reynolds and N. G. Wilson (OUP). Forthcoming at the end of February. One of the remarkable facts about the history of Western culture is that we are still in a position to read large amounts […]
  • Google books lets me down badly
    I’ve just had a very bad experience, because I relied rather uncritically on a volume that I found on Google books.  It’s a warning, and I doubt I shall forget it in a hurry. I have someone out in the Middle East transcribing the Arabic from Erpenius’ 1625 edition of the 13th century Coptic historian, al-Makin.  Of […]
  • Experiments in Arabic OCR
    A correspondent has suggested to me the possibility of using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to read a portion of al-Makin that was published in the Bibliotheque d’etudes orientale 15, back in the 1950’s.  I admit that I was dubious, but I’ve spent a little time this evening looking into the matter. I believe that […]
  • Erpenius’ al-Makin arrives in Word format
    An email brings the text of the Erpenius (1625) edition of al-Makin.  The typist has done a good job. She’s also indicated that some words – especially names – seem to be corrupt.  These will need to be fixed by comparison against a manuscript. Erpenius was a very early editor indeed, and his edition is […]
  • The Life of Severus of Antioch – part 12
    The place is Beirut (or Berytus as it was then) in the early 6th c. A.D.  Zacharias Rhetor, the author of the Life, and Severus of Antioch, its subject, are young men – students – at the famous law school.  The latter is considering becoming a Christian.  The two have decided to study the church writers together. The […]
  • From my diary
    Regular readers will know that through an intermediary I have commissioned a lady in Syria to type up the Arabic text of Erpenius’ 1625 edition of the second part of al-Makin.  Al-Makin was a 13th century Coptic writer.  The first part runs from the creation to the 11th year of Heraclius; the second part (which […]
  • They shoot webpages, don’t they? Some notes for a reader
    It’s fun, knowing a lot about the ancient world.  But it does mean that we are cut off from the great majority of people.  Most people don’t. To such people, the web is full of misinformation.  Web pages that we might smile at and ignore are a real source of perplexity. It’s easy for us.  […]
  • Coin-images and smartphones
    Reading twitter on a smartphone has been unexpectedly beneficial.  The benefit is that I can zoom with a flick of my fingers; and this comes into play when someone posts Roman coins which display now vanished buildings.  I can then zoom in, very easily, and see what is portrayed on them. I have been impressed […]
  • From my diary
    I had intended to go to Iceland on holiday this week.  Unfortunately the gods decided otherwise, and Hecate breathed her poisoned breath on me on Saturday.  However all things work together for good, for those who love God, and no doubt this is for the best. This leaves me here, wasting my time at home, and feeling […]
  • CSEL volumes to be typed up and made freely available online
    An interesting announcement from the Open Greek and Latin Project, here at Digital Humanities Leipzig. The Open Greek and Latin Project (OGL) recently signed a contract with Data Entry Company Jouve to OCR and encode Latin works and collections in accordance with the latest TEI EpiDoc standards. First on the to-do list is the monumental Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum […]
  • Augustine to Jerome on the inspiration of scripture
    An interesting article at draws together some useful quotations from St. Augustine on the inspiration of scripture. The quotations come from Augustine’s letter 82, addressed to St. Jerome himself. For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these […]
  • Photos of underwater basilica at Nicaea
    A wonderful article in a Turkish newspaper here (via Twitter).  It seems that someone has uncovered the remains underwater of a basilica at Nicaea (modern Iznik), just offshore in lake Nicaea.  It’s thought to have been demolished after the earthquake in the 8th century. Modern Nicaea is just a small Turkish town nestled within the massive double […]
  • Investigating “quotations” online – another blog
    Regular readers will know that I sometimes investigate supposed quotations from the ancients which I have found online.  Often they prove to be bogus. I came across a blog which does nothing but check quotations.  I’d never heard of it, and it deserves wider notice: Recommended.
  • What happened to the bindings of the Syriac manuscripts at the British Library
    A very interesting post on this here:   The Syriac manuscripts in the British Library: what happened to the bindings? (Liv Ingeborg Lied). Basically they were mostly discarded and rebound. H/T Paleojudaica.
  • Might we lose money (shock) if we publish open-access?
    A correspondent has drawn my attention to the OAPEN-UK project, and the participation of Oxford University Press in it. This means that, temporarily, some monographs are online as PDF’s on various sites and accessible to us all, e.g. here. I think we must all be interested in  this project.  It’s quite an interesting idea: OUP is […]
  • Fancy translating some of the Glossa Ordinaria?
    The Glossa Ordinaria is a Latin collection of patristic comments on scripture which circulated in the 9th century.  A project is underway to translate portions of it. The editor, John Litteral, has asked me to post an appeal for contributors, which is as follows: I have been working on the Gloss on 1 John, and have […]
  • Chrysostom’s letters – more translations at, this time from Wendy Mayer
    A couple of days ago I mentioned the 30-odd letters by John Chrysostom which had appeared in draft form at, and the project (not mine) to translate the lot. Today I learn that Chrysostom scholar Wendy Mayer has also uploaded some draft translations of letters by Chrysostom.  They may be found here, and look very good […]
  • The Roman sponge-on-a-stick
    The Romans didn’t use toilet paper.  Instead they used a sponge on a stick.  Or at least, that is my understanding. I’m not sure what our sources are for this, but one came my way this week.  It’s from Seneca’s Letters 70, ch. 20: 20.  Nuper in ludo bestiariorum unus e Germanis, cum ad matutina […]
  • A list of translations into Arabic of biblical texts from Graf’s GCAL
    Seven years ago I placed online the table of contents to volume 2 of Graf’s GCAL,, which lists the original compositions in Arabic by Christian writers up to the 15th century.  I then promptly forgot all about it. This evening I have been looking at volume 1.  This contains details of the translations into Arabic […]
  • Welcome to Christophe Guignard’s “Marginalia” blog
    The excellent Christophe Guignard has started his own blog (in French), on details of ancient Christian literature and its Graeco-Roman context.  It’s called Marginalia. He’s just done a post in both English and French on a “new” uncial fragment of John’s Gospel (0323). He’s also interested in Syriac mss. at Sinai. I think I shall […]
  • From my diary
    The transcription of part 2 of al-Makin (from the Erpenius edition of 1625) is going well.  It’s arriving in 10-page chunks, and there are 300 pages in all so that will make 30 chunks.  Chunk 11 arrived today. I was reflecting at the weekend on our lack of knowledge of Arabic literature, including Arabic Christian […]
  • Chrysostom letters – translations at
    I’ve mentioned this before, but “Inepti Graeculi”, who occasionally comments here, has been working away at translating the letters of John Chrysostom and posting draft translations at here.  An index of those letters translated is here. There are some 240 letters, nearly all from Chrysostom’s second exile, from which he did not return.  Remarkably only […]
  • Divine disapproval: the complete letter from David Silvester
    Over the weekend the BBC and other media was calling for the head of a certain David Silvester, a councillor of the UKIP party in Henley-on-Thames.  His crime was to write the following letter to his local paper, the Henley Standard.  Since I can find the complete letter nowhere, I think it would be good […]
  • Byzantine insularity in the early Dark Ages
    I’ve been browsing the introduction to Van der Vin’s book on medieval travellers to Constantinople, nearly all of whom visited after the 11th century.  It seems that the eastern empire became  very isolated from the west after the collapse of the western Roman empire. The book contains the following interesting statement (p.4): In the last few […]
  • From my diary
    The translation of Origen’s exegetical works on Ezekiel has been proof-read all the way through, and a long but not very serious list of minor issues produced.  Next week I shall do a comparison of bold-face passages in the PDF with the original Word document, and then send the lot to the typesetter to be […]
  • Did moral decay destroy the ancient world?
    The idea, that the Roman state declined, and ultimately collapsed, in part, because of the moral decay of the Romans themselves, is a commonplace of older literature. On the other hand many modern writers scoff at the very idea.  A Google books search will easily find examples such as this.  Blogger Gary Carson at Ancient World […]
  • The Life of Severus of Antioch – part 11
    Zacharias Rhetor is talking ca. 500 AD to Severus of Antioch, who is considering becoming a Christian. Filled with joy, I replied, “I came to this town to study civil law, because I love the science of law.  But since you also care about your salvation, let me propose a project which, without harming the […]
  • A useful map of Constantinople
    Van der Vin’s book also contains a rather useful map of Constantinople, which I think worth sharing.  In particular it shows the location of the Church of the Holy Apostles. UPDATE: I suppose this map will be more useful to more people, if I OCR the names at the bottom so that Google can find […]
  • The church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople – already in ruins before 1453?
    The church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople was the location of the mausoleum of the emperors.  It doesn’t exist any more, as it was demolished by the Turks after 1453 and a mosque built on the site, the mosque of “Mehmet the Conquerer”. I’ve seen the statement online, made in such a way as […]
  • More on the inscription of “D. Cetiannus”
    Four years after Wilhelm von Boldensele, in 1336, another German traveller visited the pyramids of Giza.  His name was Ludolf von Sudheim, the chaplain of another German nobleman on pilgrimage.  He also left an account of his travels, and a transcription of the Latin inscription on the pyramid at Giza.  His statement was as follows: […]
  • An ancient Latin inscription on the pyramids of Giza
    The pyramids of Giza still retained their outer casing into the middle ages, and only lost it when the Arabs started to use it as a source of stone.  But in 1332 a German noble, Wilhelm von Boldensele, while on pilgrimage in the orient, visited the site.  In his Itinerarius Guelielmi de Boldensele in terram […]
  • The Life of Severus of Antioch – part 10
    Let’s continue reading Zacharias Rhetor’s eye-witness account of the life of Severus of Antioch.  The date is the late 5th century.  The two friends have now gone to Beirut (ancient Berytus) to study law. Shortly afterwards, the man of God (=Severus) came to me.  He greeted me cheerfully and said, “God has sent you to […]
  • From my diary
    Another chunk of the transcription of al-Makin has arrived, making 70 pages in all, or around a quarter of Erpenius’ edition.  This is going swimmingly! One of the reasons why I wanted an electronic transcription of the text is so that I — as a non-Arabic speaker — can use Google Translate on it.  Today […]
  • From my diary
    The only useful thing I did today was to add the Inveresk Mithraeum to the Mithras website. I did a little work on the Origen book.  I tried to find out what size the thumbnail of the cover should be — for purposes.  In the process I discovered that I could no longer log […]
  • From my diary
    2014 has certainly started with a bang!  Here I am, on the Friday of the first week back, and it seems as if I was never on holiday! The two monochrome microfilm-PDF’s of the unpublished history by the 13th century Arabic Christian writer al-Makin, from the Bibliothèque Nationale Français are now on my hard disk.  […]
  • Street preacher arrested on frivolous grounds, held overnight, brought to court in Dundee, Scotland
    From time to time in every British town you see sandwichboardmen.  These are often elderly men, often alone or with a tiny group of supporters, preaching in the street.  They received their name from their habit of wearing sandwichboards, adorned with slogans such as “Prepare to meet thy God” and “The wicked shalt burn in […]
  • An English translation of Martin of Braga’s “De correctione rusticorum”
    Rather to my surprise I found a website online dedicated to the 6th century writer Martin of Braga, best known for a work De ira which is based on Seneca’s lost work of the same title. The site is run by Angus Graham and is here. (Update 2017: link repointed to  He also scanned a bunch of […]
  • Fortunatianus of Aquileia and his lost gospel commentary
    From Quasten’s Patrology 4, p.572: According to Jerome (De vir. into 97), Fortunatianus, an African was bishop of Aquileia in the mid-fourth century at the time of the Emperor Constantius. and Pope Liberius. He died, it seems, shortly before 368. Fortunatianus was at first a strong defender of Nicene orthodoxy and received Athanasius as a […]
  • Honouring “Jupiter’s day” in the 6th century AD
    From Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 13, chapter 5: (5) Now, I believe that the unfortunate practices which have remained from the profane customs of the pagans have under God’s inspiration been removed from these places because of your reproaches. However, if you still know some people who practice that most sordid and disgraceful act of […]
  • Major pagan temples still operating in the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5-6th century?
    The edicts of Theodosius I which closed all the temples and made offering sacrifice, in public or private, a crime of high treason were, of course, not enforced.  The code that transmits these edicts to us, the Theodosian code, itself bears witness that late emperors found the greatest difficulty in getting their edicts put into […]
  • Julian the apostate and the magician
    From Eunapius, Lives of the Philosophers and Sophists, on Maximus the theurgist: But Eusebius [of Myndus], at least when Maximus was present, used to avoid precise and exact divisions of a disputation and dialectical devices and subtleties; though when Maximus was not there he would shine out like a bright star, with a light like […]
  • From my diary
    Back to work!  And suddenly what I think of as my real life slows to a crawl… The proof-reader for the Origen volume is going great guns.  He’s picked up a lot of niggles of one sort of another, which won’t take much time to fix but would have looked bad.  It was a very […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve spent today driving up to Cambridge to visit the university library.  My object was to obtain some articles by R. Delmaire on the subject of Chrysostom’s letters.  For the most part I was able to obtain these; although I was disappointed to discover that the latest available volume of one serial was not shelved […]
  • Basil the Great discusses twitter, blogging and online discussion fora
    From On the Holy Spirit, 1.1: I admire your proposing questions not for the sake of testing, as many now do, but to discover the truth itself. For now a great many people listen to and question us to find fault. . . . [T]he questions of many contain a hidden and elaborate bait, like […]
  • A catena fragment of Eusebius on Psalm 29:7
    John Literal has sent me a translation made for him by Peter Papoutsis of a catena fragment discussing Daniel, and attributed to our old friend Eusebius.  He has kindly allowed me to post it here.  The biblical passage being commented on is Psalm 29:7. Εὐσεβίου Καισαρείας ῥητοῦ προκειμένου, Φωνὴ Κυρίου διακόπτοντος φλόγα πυρός. [00003] Διεκόπη μὲν ἐν τῇ […]
  • The curious case of the Tongeren codex
    From the science.history.papyri mailing list for December 2007: Dear colleagues, A few months ago a small papyrus codex was discovered in the Gallo-Roman Museum at Tongeren (Belgium). It consists of about 100 pages and measures roughly 14 x 13 cm. No writing is visible, but maybe we can read something after the book has been opened. It […]
  • A mystery quotation attributed to Leo the Great
    A tweet alerted me to a patristic quotation new to me: “No degree of cruel inhumanity can destroy the religion founded on the mystery of the cross of Christ.” (Leo the Great) I find a source for this: R. L. Wilken, The spirit of early Christian thought (1985), p.1, but preceded by a biblical quote: […]
  • The Life of Severus of Antioch – part 9
    We continue reading the French translation of the Life of the early 6th century Patriarch of Constantinople (and controversial political figure) Severus of Antioch. What I’m doing, in these posts, is taking the old Patrologia Orientalis translation from here, and running it through Google Translate (which is doing a rather fine job, I notice), and […]
  • Some notes on the bindings of ancient codices
    A useful post at the British Library blog here drew my attention to an interesting question: what did the bindings of ancient manuscripts look like? We all know that ancient books in 1 AD were written on rolls of papyrus.  With these we are not concerned here.  Examples have reached us, notably the charred rolls from […]
  • From my diary
    Happy new year everyone.  I’ve spent the last few days at a very nice house-party in Derbyshire, complete with evening dress dinners — no, it wasn’t at Pemberley! So, quite naturally, I haven’t done very much on any of my projects. However I did receive 10 pages of Arabic in a Word document: the opening section […]
  • The Life of Severus of Antioch – part 8
    The story continues. But let no-one think that this story is irrelevant to our subject.  Our intention is to show that the accusation made against the great Severus is entirely unfounded.  Far from ever deserving the accusation and reproach of idolatry, he was constantly with those who gave proof of their zeal against the pagans, […]
  • A curious tale about the burial of St Peter – a fake by Leo the Great?
    Headbanger websites can be very frustrating.  You know the sort of thing — the sort of website that eagerly recounts how the Fathers of the Church boasted of being liars, how Mithras had 12 disciples and was born of a virgin (sic), and so on. But they can also be a joy, for they can […]
  • The Life of Severus of Antioch – part 7
    The pagan Paralios has just been converted after violent Christian-pagan rioting in Alexandria. Paralios then concerned himself with his two other brothers, who were pagans living at Aphrodisias.  One of them was the scholasticos of the country, and was named Demochares.  The other was called Proclos, and was the sophist of the town.  He wrote […]
  • A typist for part 2 of al-Makin
    It looks as if another correspondent of mine will be making it possible for the second half of al-Makin’s History to be typed up.  I have today sent her a cut-down copy of the edition by Erpenius from 1625. Extraordinarily, there are only two editions of this half of the work (and none of the other half).  […]
  • Connecting to tumblr
    I read an article this afternoon that Facebook is on its way out.  Whether or not this is so, it is certainly the case that my facebook connections post only rarely.  Comparing that with Twitter, where the flow of tweets is endless, there is no question as to where one tends to spend one’s time. […]
  • From my diary
    If you can actually find anything on your hard disk any more — and I know that this can be difficult for many of us — then, sometimes, when you do, you get a little more than you expected. Regular readers will know that I have arranged to get an electronic text created of the history of al-Makin.  He […]
  • The Life of Severus of Antioch – part 6
    Severus has yet to put in an appearance, as Zacharias Rhetor is busy telling us all about his own student experiences in Alexandria ca. 500 AD. Paralios, having offered God an exploit of this nature, received the baptism of the Redeemer when the Easter festival arrived, along with many pagans who had been zealous for […]
  • The Life of Severus of Antioch – part 5
    The pagan Paralios has been flirting with Christianity, and talking with his Christian brother Athanasius and the latter’s friend Stephen, who are based at the monastery at Enaton.  He’s gone to the pagan oracle at Menouthis, demanding some answers, and has been snubbed.  So he got angry and went back to Alexandria.  There he started jeering at the pagan […]
  • The Life of Severus of Antioch – part 4
    The pagan Asclepiodotus has passed off the illegitimate child of a priestess of Isis as the child of his sterile wife, claiming that Isis had cured her.  The student Paralios, vacillating between his pagan friends, and Stephen, the friend of his Christian brother Athanasius, has learned the story. Paralios, believing that this story was true, […]
  • Hiring someone to type up an edition of al-Makin from a couple of manuscripts
    One of the great problems with accessing the history written by the Coptic Christian writer al-Makin ibn-Amid (13th century) is that you have to deal with manuscripts. I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a manuscript typed up.  After all, that would mean we could use Google Translate to at least get the gist […]
  • The Life of Severus of Antioch – part 3
    From the Life of Severus of Antioch (6th c. AD), as written by Zacharias Rhetor: Shortly afterwards occurred the events relating to Paralios and Horapollon the grammarian, from which we learn that he [Severus] who has been slandered, contrary to the divine laws, is innocent of the slanders of his infamous slanderer.  Here’s what was […]
  • From my diary
    ‘Twas Christmas Eve in the workhouse …  and I’m still busy even as late as this. I’ve been reading John Carey’s “Down with dons” (PDF) with great enjoyment this evening.  Written in 1975, it accurately predicts many of the disasters of the coming decades.  I love the way that it depicts the Oxford University establishment.  Indeed […]
  • A new Claudio Zamagni article on Eusebius’ Gospel problems and solutions
    Claudio Zamagni has written to tell me that a new article of his is online at here.  It discusses the difficult question of the manuscripts of the fragments of Eusebius of Caesarea’s Gospel problems and solutions (Quaestiones ad Stephanum et Marinum).  It’s excellent stuff, as ever with Dr Z., and highly recommended. This holiday […]
  • Ancient literary sources for St Nicholas of Myra
    It is Christmas Eve, and so what better time to ask the question: what, if anything, does the historical record tell us about a supposed 4th century bishop of Myra named Nicholas? Every Christmas there is a flood of articles in the press and online about the origins of “Santa Claus”.  It is a curious […]
  • Proof-reader wanted
    This morning, to my considerable surprise, the proof copy of Ancient Texts in Translation 2 — Origen of Alexandria: Exegetical works on Ezekiel — arrived on my doorstep.  My surprise was because I do my proof copies through, and I only uploaded the PDF to the site on 18th December.  Six days to print it […]
  • How not to do scholarship – the perils of studying those we disagree with
    I trained as a scientist.  Like all scientists, I despised scholars.  I thought that they were just people decorating their prejudices with the results of a library search.  Given time, we all knew, we could do as well or better.  Inspecting the occasional volume of what was sold in Blackwell’s bookshop as “Biblical Scholarship” did […]
  • The Life of Severus of Antioch – part 2
    We continue from the Life of Severus of Antioch by Zacharias Rhetor. The illustrious Severus is Pisidian in origin, and his home town is Sozopolis.  In fact it was this town that fell to him as his his home, after the first [birth], of which we have all  been banished following the transgression of Adam, […]
  • The life of Severus of Antioch by Zacharias Rhetor – part 1
    Tidying your desktop can be perilous.  I found a PDF with the French translation of the Vita of Severus of Antioch on mine.  I had forgotten how interesting a work this was. I know that there is an English translation out there somewhere, but of course it is inaccessible to most of us.  So I […]
  • An old engraving of the Hippodrome at Constantinople, sabotaged by Google Books
    This afternoon I was trying to find out what early engravings might exist of Constantinople.  The search was mainly vain; but I did learn that a certain Onofrio Panavinio in his Ludi et Circences (1600) had printed an engraving of the Hippodrome. This may be found here at Flickr, and I have uploaded the original […]
  • The brass statue of Justinian in Constantinople
    One of the sights of Constantinople before the Ottoman conquest was the colossal equestrian statue of Justinian, standing in the Forum Augusteum, atop a 100 foot-tall pillar outside the senate house.  The statue faced east and was widely thought to have magical powers to repel invaders from that direction. At Robert Bedrosian’s site I have […]
  • When interests collide: Elsevier start threatening the scholars who publish with them if they post copies online
    An interesting story which hasn’t really reached critical mass was mentioned to me by a correspondent this morning.  Via Wired I read: Elsevier clamps down on academics posting their own papers online … Guy Leonard, a research fellow at the University of Exeter, posted a screengrab of the message, which said: “ is committed to […]
  • Emperor with a crown of glass paste: John VI Catacuzene
    While looking for material about George Codinus, or pseudo-Codinus as we must call him, I came across a paper on here. which gave a striking picture of the poverty of the Byzantine court at the end of the 14th century: This picture of court life in the reconquered Constantinople, which is generally regarded as […]
  • Narratives about Constantinople – the “Patria”
    There is a collection of medieval texts, more or less inter-connected, which contain descriptions of Constantinople, its monuments, statues, origins and so on.  I have mentioned a couple already in discussing the tombs of the emperors at the Church of the Holy Apostles, and I have discussed why George Codinus cannot be the author of […]
  • Creating addiction – are there links between Wikipedia and the techniques used by online computer game sites?
    I read today a troubling article about online “free-to-play” games, which instantly reminded me of Wikipedia, and the way in which people become hooked on participating in it.  Chasing the whale: examining the ethics of free-to-play games is about online games, that encourage addiction in order to profit from the vulnerable. “I’d use birthday money, […]
  • Why Codinus did not write the works ascribed to him – by Theodor Preger
    The Patria — the historical works describing the monuments of Constantinople — are ascribed to George Codinus in some of the manuscripts.  Averil Cameron states that: Preger demonstrated in 1895 (op. cit. n.8) that these works belong to the tenth century and are not (as previously supposed) by George Codinus. The reference given in Cameron […]
  • How to find the digital manuscripts at the Bodleian-Vatican project
    Lots of ballyhoo in the press, but it is remarkably difficult to find any actual manuscripts digitised by this project, paid for by Leonard Polonsky (to whom all kudos), between the Vatican and the Bodleian libraries. Anyway, the Greek manuscripts to be digitised are listed here: The tiny number that have been done so […]
  • From my diary
    A bit of a red-letter day today: the interior setup of the Origen book — or Origen of Alexandria: Exegetical works on Ezekiel as I must get used to calling it — is complete.  This evening I uploaded the PDF to (which I use to generate proof copies, because Lightning Source do not provide such […]
  • More on the tombs of the emperors at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople
    The now-vanished Church of the Holy Apostles stood on a high place in Constantinople with views of the sea to north and south.  It stood in the western part of the city, standing on the main street which connected the Forum of Theodosius with the Charisian gate (Edirnekapi), and which corresponds to the modern Fevzi […]
  • “In the Heroon of the great and holy Constantine towards the east end lies the porphyry larnax of the great Constantine himself…”
    Another text in the PG 157 volume (col.725) is one describing the tombs of the emperors in the Church of the Holy Apostles, here: On the tombs of the emperors which are in the Church of the Holy Apostles. In the Heroon of the great and holy Constantine towards the east end lies the porphyry […]
  • Some ancient statues taken to Constantinople under Constantius and Theosodius II
    Cyril Mango’s excellent article on the fate of ancient statues in Byzantium tells us: The importation of statues into Constantinople greatly diminished, but did not entirely cease, after the reign of Constantine. Individual statues were apparently brought in under Constantius II,[15] Valentinian,[16] and Theodosius II.[17] The references given are to a publication, the Scriptores Originum […]
  • The “Testimonium Flavianum” in al-Makin
    The so-called Testimonium Flavianum of Josephus has provoked extensive discussion down the years, not all of it either measured or even sensible.  One witness to the text is the Arabic versions.  These were handled in a rather mangled way in 1971 by Shlomo Pines, who introduced the world to their existence in the World History […]
  • The two recensions of al-Makin
    There are quite a number of manuscripts of the history by the 13th century Coptic historian al-Makin ibn al-Amid.  I have listed these in a previous post here.  Martino Diez, in his important article on the subject has obtained copies of three of the manuscripts.  This is no small feat in itself, as I can […]
  • Diez’ article on al-Makin is online!
    I have started to blog about a fascinating article on the Coptic historian, al-Makin.  The article is Martino Diez, “Les antiquites greco-romaines entre ibn al-`Amid et Ibn Khaldun. Notes pour une histoire de la tradition”, in: Studia Graeco-Arabica 3 (2013), 121-140.  But I had not realised that the full article is online!  The PDF is here, […]
  • Melting down the statues in Constantinople in 1204
    Looting the tombs of the emperors was one thing.  Choniates goes on with yet more examples of cultural vandalism.  The fate of statues, many obviously from ancient times, was the furnace, to be turned into coins. Because they were in want of money (for the barbarians are unable to sate their love of riches), they […]
  • The Latins break open the tombs of the emperors in Constantinople
    The history of Nicetas Choniates ends with a mournful description of the damage done to the city of Constantinople by the victorious Latins in 1204.  It seems to describe events well after the initial capture and sack of the city. The following is very interesting: Exhibiting from the very outset, as they say, their innate […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve managed to read Diez’ article on al-Makin ibn Amid, the largely unpublished 13th century Arabic Christian historian.  It’s a cracker!  It is, indeed, the new entrance-point to all the literature on the subject.  It also – ahem – mentions this blog. I’ll post some more about this in due course.  But I did start […]
  • Ehrman on Epiphanius and the Borborites – some notes
    We have now gone through all the ancient evidence concerning the gnostic cult known as the Borborites (here).  This includes the long chapter (26) in the Panarion of Epiphanius in which he recounts their practices, says something about their mythology, and tells us of his own personal encounter with the group. The time has now come to […]
  • Some Chrysostom, ps.Chrysostom, ps.Athanasius in translation at
    I’ve just discovered a group of English translations available online here.  All of them are of previously untranslated texts.   Most excitingly (for me), the translator has started on Chrysostom’s letters. The translations are a work in progress; but very welcome! More!
  • Al-Makin in prison
    The Diez article on the 13th century Arabic Christian historian, al-Makin ibn Amid, contains an interesting anecdote from the historian’s life: A second obscure point in the life of Ibn Amid concerns the period of the attempted Mongol invasion of Syria.  The functionary, who was then at Damascus, was accused of being in contact with […]
  • LACE Greek OCR project
    On a better note, we live in blessed times where technology and the ancient world are concerned.  The astonishing results of a project to OCR volumes of ancient Greek from may now be found online here.  Clicking on the first entry, and one of the outputs in it here gives astonishingly good results.
  • Arrested for saying a word
    The BBC has the story, and, curiously, seems to approve. Two men have been arrested for posting anti-Semitic tweets following Tottenham Hotspur’s match with West Ham. …  Both men were arrested on Thursday on suspicion of inciting racial hatred. … West Ham told supporters that anyone caught behaving in a racist, anti-Semitic or homophobic way […]
  • From my diary
    Is it just me, or is everyone frenetically busy right now?  For myself, it’s ridiculous; every day seems to bring an interesting or important email (or three) that I simply must deal with.  Often the issue is something well worth blogging about as well.   So suddenly I find myself snowed under. This week the new […]
  • Epiphanius and the veil – a 4th century attitude to images
    While searching for old commentary on Epiphanius and the Borborites, I stumbled across something even more interesting. In The Catholic Layman in 1853[refTwo articles are referenced: ]”The Story of St. Epiphanius and the Veil”, The Catholic Layman, 2.17 (1853), 50, 56.[/ref] appear a couple of quotations from Epiphanius. The first (p.56) appears in a discussion […]
  • Summing up the ancient accounts of the Borborites-Phibionites
    Now that we have access to all the relevant ancient sources, we can see what they say about this gnostic group, the Borborites or Phibionites, and evaluate what Epiphanius has to say a bit better. The sources, in chronological order, are: The Pistis Sophia 147, 3rd c.? The Second book of Jeu 43, 3rd c.? […]
  • The Blue Mosque in the snow
    Via twitter:
  • Diez on al-Makin and the Testimonium Flavianum
    Just a quick note to signal an important article: Martino Diez, “Les antiquites greco-romaines entre ibn al-`Amid et Ibn Khaldun. Notes pour une histoire de la tradition, in: Studia Graeco-Arabica 3 (2013), 121-140 (Online here).  (In this and what follows, don’t presume I have every letter just correct: WordPress won’t allow me to!) The abstract tells […]
  • Eusebius Chronicon book 1 – portion of original Greek rediscovered!
    A very interesting article (in English) by J. Gruskova has appeared on the web, discussing recent work with Byzantine palimpsests, at the Austrian National Library.  Somewhat annoyingly the PDF doesn’t allow copying of the text, so I can’t give you more than snippets here. The article notes various palimpsests where modern technology – multi-spectral imaging […]
  • In progress: an English translation of Cedrenus in Australia!
    A week ago I was searching to see if there was an English translation of the Byzantine history by George Cedrenus.  An awful lot of Byzantine chronicles have been translated (for the first time!) by Australian scholars, so I knew that it was a possibility. Well, I drew a blank.  No English translation exists.  The […]
  • Do Syriac historians care about getting their dates right?
    A correspondent points out some very different attitudes towards chronological accuracy between Greek and Syriac historians. In his monster-sized world chronicle, Michael the Syrian (12th c.) quoted frequently from earlier historians.  I will let my correspondent describe what he found. “One of the sources Michael used was Ignatius of Melitene, whose preface he reproduced in full […]
  • Mediceo-Laurenziana digital manuscripts site offline for fear of cyber-attack
    Via the Macrotypography blog I learn of some very bad news indeed: Java Disaster in Florence The digital library of 3,000-plus manuscripts at the Medicea Laurenziana Library in Florence was introduced on this blog as outstanding news three years ago. This year, disaster struck as hackers round the world exploited security vulnerabilities in Java software. Java’s security had to […]
  • Is this the best Santa Claus post this Christmas?
    I’ve seen a few twitter posts about St. Nicholas punching Arius at the Council of Nicaea.  Now this (via Dyspepsia Generation):
  • Titus of Bostra – critical edition of Greek and Syriac now available!
    There are quite a few of the fathers who we don’t know anything about, despite having their works.  Titus of Bostra is perhaps one of the most important of these.  We — i.e. almost everyone aside from one or two scholars — don’t know anything about him because his work Against the Manichaeans in 4 books […]
  • The Borborites-Phibionites in the “books of Jeu”
    I have already mentioned a passage in the Pistis Sophia, found in the codex Askewianus, that refers to Borborite practices. But there is also a reference in the texts known as the “Books of Jeu” (the name is modern), in the so-called Bruce codex.  This was obtained by the Scottish traveller James Bruce ca. 1769, […]
  • People Per Hour will simply take your money without telling you
    I’ve just had a rather unpleasant experience with People Per Hour.  I experimented with using this service a couple of years ago, and it didn’t turn out that well (through no fault of anybody).  But there was a sting in the tail, which I have just discovered. In order to use the service, you advertise […]
  • More on the translation of Origen’s homilies on Ezekiel
    Back in 2011-12, a translation of all of Origen’s works or fragments of works on Ezekiel was in progress.  Things went very quiet, but the book more or less existed on disk, awaiting sufficient time to do something about it. This week I have been getting the first homily set up in Adobe Indesign CS5.  […]
  • 170 Christian Arabic manuscripts from St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo now online!
    They are here: Blessedly, they have all been placed on!  So they are downloadable as PDF’s!!!  What an excellent decision! The images are all from microfilms.  But at least we have them! Mostly Arabic, some Coptic.  Lots of biblical mss, of course; This one caught my eye: COP 20-5 (Theology 30) Principal Work: […]
  • Epiphanius on the Borborites or Phibionites
    In order to discuss this cult, we do need before us the testimony of Epiphanius from the Panarion 26.  We are a fortunate generation, in that Frank Williams has produced an English translation, although unfortunately the price of this places it outside the pockets of most of us.  The translation has, indeed, reached a second […]
  • Ephraim the Syrian on the Borborites / Phibionites
    A rather baffling reference to “Ephraem the Syrian, Contra Haereses 79″ turns out to be a reference to Hymns against Heresies 22, 4, which, by happy chance, was translated for us a while back here.  Here’s the relevant section: 4D The Arians, because they added and erred; The Aetians, because they were subtle; The Paulinians, […]
  • Filaster on the Borborians / Phibionites
    A further witness to the Borborians or Phibionites mentioned by Epiphanius is to be found in the catalogue of heresies by Filaster or Philaster in his Diversarum haereseon liber (PG12, col. 1186): LXXIII. Borboriani. Alia est haeresis Borborianorum, qui vitiis implicati saeculi, et malis concupiscentiis servientes, non sperant judicium futurum, sed potius carnalem saeculi concupiscentiam laudant.  […]
  • Untangling the homilies of Chrysostom “on the resurrection”
    A correspondent has written to me, enquiring about “9 homilies on the resurrection”.  He’s been trying to find a text, and getting confused by what he finds, which includes spuria. Looking at the Clavis Patrum Graecorum vol. 2, that list of the works of Chrysostom, is always a pleasure.  One day I must make a […]
  • When the emperor Constans looted Rome of all its statues in 663
    Cyril Mango’s article on the fate of ancient statues in the middle ages continues: It is, however, recorded that Constans II, during his infamous residence in Rome (663), despoiled that city of its ancient bronze ornaments, including even the copper roof tiles of the Pantheon, with a view to having them transferred to Constantinople. The […]
  • A further reference to the Borborites-Phibionites in the Codex Askewianus
    A 4-5th c. Coptic manuscript now in the British Library (Ms. BL. Addit. 5114), acquired under unknown circumstances by a Dr Askew, contains a gnostic text which bears the title of the Pistis Sophia.  Another copy was found in a 5th century codex unearthed at Akhmim in 1896 also containing three other texts (now P.Berol. 8502).  The text of the Pistis […]
  • Theodoret on the Borborites / Phibionites
    Epiphanius of Salamis devotes a section of his Panarion to the Borborites or Phibionites, a bunch of libertine gnostics of a pretty disgusting kind.  But few will know that Theodoret also mentions this group, in his Compendium haereticarum fabularum book 1, chapter 13.  The English translation of this is itself little known. Let’s hear what Theodoret has to say. […]
  • Rather than ruin all the library books with photocopying…
    To the local library, to collect a copy of the English translation of a Byzantine text.  The volume was a substantial hardback, with the library plate of the John Rylands Library in Manchester.  Inside the book at various points was an old train ticket fromWigan, and two trading cards from some exhibition in 2007, all […]
  • From my diary
    It’s been a while since I did anything with the translation of Origen’s Commentary on Ezekiel which I commissioned.  The book has sat in a collection of .doc files on my hard disk, while other tasks went forward. The main obstacle to progress is getting the book typeset.  I did buy a copy of Adobe […]
  • Fire in the sky: a piece of ancient sorcery explained in Hippolytus
    The article by Dodds on theurgy and Neoplatonism mentions Compare … Hippolytus’ receipe for simulating a fiery apparition of Hecate by natural if somewhat dangerous means (Ref. Haer. 4, 36). The magician casts his spell, and … suddenly a flame is seen ascending in the sky nearby! The Refutation of Heresies IV, chapters 35-6 is […]
  • An important 6th c. historical witness: notes on the ‘Life’ of Symeon Stylites the Younger
    In a preceding post I quoted from two different versions of the Saint’s Life of S. Symeon Stylites the Younger (521-592).  I have now obtained photocopies of much of Van den Ven’s edition, and I think a summary might be of general use. Manuscripts The following manuscripts exist. A = Codex Athous Lavra B 71 […]
  • More from Mango on ancient statues in Byzantium
    I’m still looking at Cyril Mango’s marvellous paper on the fate of ancient statues in medieval Byzantium, and looking up references from it.  I learn something from every one of these. The last few posts concerned references to Christians smashing pagan statues: The deliberate assembling of ancient statues in Constantinople constitutes something of a paradox. […]
  • Editing Chrysostom – an SC volume appears
    Nathalie Rambault has undertaken the task of editing some works by John Chrysostom for the Sources Chretiennes series.  Just to list the manuscripts of Chrysostom takes many volumes, so we may admire her courage! The first volume (of two) is now out, I believe, and includes homilies on the resurrection, ascension and Pentecost.  6 pages […]
  • Idols “subjected to popular derision” at Antioch?
    The next statement by Cyril Mango on the subject of the destruction of pagan statues in the lives of the saints is as follows: At about the same time idols were subjected to popular derision by being hung in the streets of Antioch. The reference is to the Vita S. Symeonis junioris, the Life of Simeon Stylites […]
  • The Walters understand that images of manuscripts should not be copyright
    A useful article: via here:
  • Simeon Stylites – a new Diogenes?
    Earlier I posted Theodoret’s account of the life of Simeon Stylites.  Written while the saint was stil alive, and as an eyewitness of at least some of his life, it has considerable value as a historical source.  The portions in square brackets represent later interpolation, it should be added. Reading the life raised some uncomfortable […]
  • Theodoret on Simeon Stylites
    Earlier we looked at the Life of Abraham as presented in Theodoret’s Lives of the Monks, written in 444 AD, and one of our best historical sources for an area generally represented by hagiographical texts. While reading the volume, in the same excellent translation by R.M. Price, I found myself reading the Life of the famous […]
  • Haefner and Salvian on forgery
    In Forgery and Counterforgery, Bart Ehrman makes a series of statements about Salvian of Marseilles, suggesting that the 5th century monk and moralist was guilty of forgery, and also that Salvian actually confesses to the deed in his Letter 9. In earlier posts, I have evaluated E.’s statements against the text of the letter — not given by E., […]
  • Theodoret’s “Life of Abraham” – related to that of “Abramius”?
    We have been discussing St. Abramius.  I’m not sure if the Life in the Acta Sanctorum is intended to refer to the same man, but let us read what Theodoret says, in his “History of the Monks” about St. Abraham.  There is no reference to idols in all thus. It’s worth remembering that Theodoret knew some […]
  • More idols overthrown, this time by St Abramius
    The next reference in Mango’s article to idol-smashing is the following: In the middle of the sixth century we hear of St. Abramius destroying pagan idols near Lampsacus on the Hellespont, in a village that was totally pagan. The reference is to the Acta Sanctorum, the Acts SS, Abramii et Mariae, March, vol. 2, p.933.  […]
  • Ancient Egyptian idols destroyed in the life of Severus of Antioch
    Here is another statement from Mango’s article: At the end of the fifth century a great number of idols, salvaged from the temple of Isis at Memphis, were concealed in a house behind a false wall. But their presence was detected by the Christians.  The statues were loaded on twenty camels and taken to Alexandria […]
  • Mark the Deacon on the destruction of the statue of Aphrodite
    Following my last post, I find that the Life of Porphyry of Gaza, by Mark the Deacon, is online.  Mango states (p.56): At Gaza there stood in the center of town a nude statue of Aphrodite which was the object of great veneration, especially on the part of women. When, in 402, Bishop Porphyry, surrounded […]
  • Ancient statues in medieval Constantinople
    A truly fascinating article has come my way, thanks to a tweet by Dorothy King: Cyril Mango’s Antique Statuary and the Byzantine Beholder (online here).  The tweet itself was as follows: Rare scene of pagan statues that survived being destroyed during later Byzantium in Constantinople The article contains a great number of references to […]
  • Theodore Abu Qurrah and an anti-Manichaean synod
    A correspondent kindly sent me an article which mentioned a synod against the Manichaeans, assembled by Theodore Abu Qurra, the Melkite bishop of Harran, at Harran in 764-5 AD.  This is mentioned in a 14th century source, a certain John Cyparissiotes.  The latter was previously unknown to me, but his works are found in PG152. It seems that […]
  • Cramer’s catena on Mark translated into English!
    It’s remarkable what you can find on Google books if you look.  An idle search for “catena” yesterday revealed that someone has translated the entirety of Cramer’s catena on Mark into English!  Yay! But first, a few words about catenas! Not everyone will know what a “catena” (the word means “chain”) is.  The term itself […]
  • Farewell to the NIV?
    The New International Version of the bible was on course to become the new standard English translation; until, in an act of incredible hubris and folly, the publishers, Zondervan, decided to tinker with it and keep tinkering with it.  Not, one might add, in the interests of greater accuracy, but to make it “gender neutral”.   […]
  • Infra-red light can “remove” spilled ink from digital images of books?
    An interesting email on the Ethiopian literature email list: List members may value knowing that one of the positive results of the imaging of the 1513 first Ge’ez book – Psalterium Æthiopicum – Rome, Potken, was the use of Infra Red imaging to ‘remove’ spilled ink. Please see:- This is a printed text; […]
  • Fire hits Internet Archive building
    Fire hits Internet Archive building
  • From my diary
    On Monday I must go back to work, so blogging will certainly take a back seat while I get established in a new job. I have spent much of today converting a large 600+ page book into a PDF, so that I can search it, quote from it, and work with it more conveniently.   It […]
  • A new 4th century fragment of Justin Martyr!!!
    Via Brice C. Jones I learn that the new volume of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (vol. 73) contains a parchment fragment of the 4th century, with 6 lines from Justin Martyr’s First Apology on it! The reference is P.Oxy. 5129. This is quite a find, since the apologies of Justin are known to us only from […]
  • The patristic idea that God is outside of time
    A post in an online forum drew my attention to some passages in which God is described explicitly as being outside of time, and seeing all eternity as the present. The first source mentioned is Augustine, Confessions, book 11.  The old NPNF translation is here, and a look at the (Victorian) headings for the chapters reveals […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve been adding a few more Mithraic monuments to my collection of pictures online.  A Mithraeum from 1969 from Cologne is the focus. Otherwise I am doing little.  Gainful employment beckons!
  • Church of Scotland trying to hide a scandal by editing Wikipedia?
    A few months ago I mentioned a very odd story from Scotland, where, in 2012, the Glasgow Presbytery of the Church of Scotland drove one of its largest congregations out of their own building, which they had just contributed $5m to refurbish, under threat of lawsuit.  There were many evil deeds by the church officials, all […]
  • The “Senatus Palace” at Nicaea (Iznik)
    I have just returned from a coach tour around parts of Turkey.  One of the places visited was Iznik, formerly Nicaea. Nicaea stands at the eastern end of a substantial lake, and at the western end of a considerable plain filled with endless olive groves.  The lake itself is surrounded by mountains, with a breach at the […]
  • Coptic Encyclopedia, Nag Hammadi photos, online at Claremont Colleges Digital Library
    Via AWOL I learn: The Claremont Colleges Digital Library is serving some interesting open access  material relating to antiquity: … Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia The Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia (CCE) will initially include  approximately 2800 articles published in The Coptic Encyclopedia (Aziz  S. Atiya, ed. NY: Macmillan, 1991). The CCE will continuously add  updates and new topics […]
  • British Library beginning to digitise its papyri
    Sarah Biggs at the British Library Manuscripts blog writes: The British Library holds one of the most significant collections of Greek papyri in the world, including the longest and most significant papyrus of the Aristotelian Constitution of Athens, unique copies of major texts such as Sophocles’ Ichneutae, and the Egerton Gospel, as well as a […]
  • Some observations on Bart Ehrman’s presentation of Salvian’s letter 9 and “Ad Ecclesiam”
    The last few posts have been concerned with establishing some basic facts about the priest Salvian of Marseilles.  I have discussed his Ad Ecclesiam; the text of “letter 9”, which he seems to have prefaced to the work; about his relationship with his friend and pupil Salonius, bishop of Geneva; and about the manuscript tradition of his […]
  • Two opinions on Salvian’s Letter 9
    While online this afternoon I came across a copy of the Eva M. Sanford, 1930, translation of Salvian’s De gubernatione dei, “On the government of God”, complete with a lengthy preface.  After some time I realised that it was something I had scanned myself, transferred to another site. Sanford lists the works of Salvian in […]
  • Is Salonius’ commentary on Ecclesiastes authentic?
    In my last post I raised the question of whether the two commentaries transmitted under the name of the 5th century bishop Salonius of Geneva were in fact authentic.  These consist of a commentary on Proverbs, and one on Ecclesiastes. This evening I stumbled across a 1987 dissertation by A.M. Wolters which mentions the scholarship […]
  • Is Salonius’ Commentary on Ecclesiastes accessible?
    A commentary on Ecclesiastes attributed to Salonius of Geneva does exist in English, I find.  This Google Books page tell us that a certain William Pollard in 1615 produced a translation under the title, A misticall exposition of doctor Salonius, borne at Vienna and bishopp of Fraunce, upon the Ecclesiastes of Salomon, in manner of a […]
  • Graf’s Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur online!
    A correspondant kindly drew my attention to an online resource for Islamic manuscripts.  The address is here: The site includes all five volumes of Graf’s GCAL.  It may be 60 years old but it is still the only handbook of Christian Arabic literature. The site also has a vast array of manuscript-related catalogues and […]
  • Was Salonius Salvian’s “own bishop”?
    One statement that appears repeatedly in the discussion of Salvian in Bart Ehrman’s Forgery and counterforgery is that Salvian was “caught by his own bishop” in writing a forgery.   The main question is one that I am addressing in this series of posts.  But was Salonius, Salvian’s friend and former pupil, as Salvian tells us in his […]
  • Why did Salvian place the name of “Timothy” at the head of his “Ad Ecclesiam”
    I have been posting about Salvian of Marseilles, his early work Ad Ecclesiam (ca. 440 AD), which addresses the universal church under the name of “Timothy”, and what Salvian’s letter 9 can tell us about all this. Today I would like to address the question of why Salvian placed the name of “Timothy” on his […]
  • Some notes on the transmission of Salvian’s “Ad Ecclesiam” and Letter 9
    There is an entry for Salvian in the continuation of Jerome’s De viris illustribus by Gennadius, written ca. 470 AD.  It forms chapter 68, and may be given in the NPNF translation: Salvianus, presbyter of Marseilles, well informed both in secular and in sacred literature, and to speak without invidiousness, a master among bishops, wrote […]
  • The “Book of Ehud” – a modern apocryphon?
    As we consider Salvian’s letter 9, discussing why his Ad Ecclesiam was written under the name of Timothy, let us also include the following item, taken from the Private Eye Annual 2009, ed. Ian Hislop.  Private Eye is a British satirical magazine, and the “Book of Ehud” is an item that appears in very similar […]
  • Salvian, Letter 9, to Salonius: on why he used the name Timothy when writing Ad Ecclesiam
    In Forgery and counterforgery, Ehrman makes great play of the “confession” of Salvian that he forged a work in the name of the apostle Timothy.  Unfortunately he does not give the text of the letter in question.  The reference is to letter 9 in the collected letters, although it is not found in the unique manuscript […]
  • More on experimenting with Arabic and Ibn Abi Usaibia
    In this post I asked if anyone had access to the following texts: B. L. Van der Waerden, “Die Schriften und Fragmente des Pythagoras,” RESupp. 10 (1965): 843-64; see also idem, Die Pythagoreer. Religiose Bruderschaft und Schule der Wissenschaft (Zurich: Artemis, 1979), 272-73. A correspondent kindly sent me the latter item today.  A PDF is […]
  • The informer and the sycophant in Diogenes Laertius
    I’m currently rereading Diogenes Laertius’ Lives of the Philosophers as my bedtime book.  This evening I came across a curious passage in the life of Plato (III, 24): There is a story that he [Plato] pleaded for Chabrias the general when he was tried for his life, although no one else at Athens would do […]
  • Ehrman’s use of the term “forgery”
    Before I go further in reviewing Ehrman’s Forgery and Counterforgery, it would be good to look at what E. means when he uses the word “forgery” — a word which he uses very frequently — and what we mean when we use the word, and whether the two are the same and of the same extent. […]
  • Ehrman on the long recension of Ignatius
    Some busy days have prevented me getting to grips with Ehrman’s Forgery and counterforgery.  My query about the Apollinarians earlier today led me back to it, as a Google link brought me to the Google Books version, where I found material on the long recension of the letters of Ignatius of Antioch.  I thought that […]
  • The “forgeries of the Apollinarians”
    This evening I stumbled across a book which few, perhaps, will have read: Georges Florovsky’s The Byzantine Fathers of the Sixth to Eighth Centuries.  Fortunately the book is accessible here, for it is otherwise quite uncommon. What led me here was a question about the “forgeries” of the Apollinarians.  We know that in the 6th […]
  • Getting started with the Fathers
    Via Twitter I learn of this post at Triablogue, answering the question: Jason, where would you recommend someone start with the church fathers, both in terms of primary and secondary reading? It seems such a dauntingly large field to a non-specialist… The answer is worth reading, but inevitably I disagree profoundly! If you are interested […]
  • Doesn’t every library look like this? If not, why not?
    A photograph of the old Cincinnati Public Library, sometime in the 1870’s, from here (via here).  Impractical; but fun!
  • Ibn Abi Usaibia – the GAL entry, and the manuscripts
    I have finally managed to find some hard information on Ibn Abi Usaibia (translation here), the two editions of the text, and the manuscripts of both.  What follows may be hard going; but it is almost entirely hard data. A google search turned up this site.  It gives, thankfully, the GAL reference for Ibn Abi […]
  • A little information on Ibn Abi Usaibia, from Ibn Khallikan
    A thought struck me, to look into Ibn Khallikan’s biographical dictionary, of which an English translation exists.  The index to this is not nearly so confusing as for the GAL, and I eventually found a reference to vol. 4, p.158, where in the footnote we read: Abu ‘l-Abbas Ahmad Ibn al-Kasim Ibn Khalifa Ibn Abi […]
  • From my diary
    I’m trying to discover whether there is knowledge anywhere that Ibn Abi Usaibia (d. 1207) did, or did not, produce two editions of his great work, The History of Physicians.  The reason that I want to know is the existence of a supposed quotation from Porphyry, extant in a version of the text different from that […]
  • Experimenting with Arabic, and Ibn Abi Usaibia
    On p.109-10, in Forgery and counterforgery, Bart Ehrman quotes a passage from medieval author Ibn Abi Usaibia (here), supposedly about Pythagoras (as translated by Carl Ernst, from a private translation): But as for the books of Pythagoras the sage, which Archytas the Tarentine philosopher collected by himself, they are eighty books. But those that he […]
  • From my diary
    For a few days now I have been wading through Bart Ehrman’s Forgery and counterforgery.  It’s a long book, not very well structured, and written in an off-putting way.  So it is taking time, which I rather grudge, from other things. Much the most interesting section so far is on the question of whether or not it […]
  • More on the “arrest” of Josh Williamson
    I’ve been blogging about the arrest (twice) of preacher Josh Williamson in Perth, Scotland.  He said that he was arrested and was taken to a police station, where he was refused a solicitor.  The police have denied that he was arrested.  He was arrested again last Saturday.  The circumstances of all this seem very unclear, and the police […]
  • Syriac and Manichaean-related materials on a British Library blog
    Via MedievalEgypt on Twitter I learn of a valuable post on Manichaean-related materials in the British Library, here, by Ursula Sims-Williams: One of the most important sources in the British Library is the Syriac manuscript Add.12150 which contains the treatise Against the Manicheans by Titus (d. 378) of Bostra (Bosra, now in Syria), translated from Greek. This codex […]
  • A 2-3rd c. papyrus “title page”?
    An extremely interesting article on the Brice C. Jones blog about a piece of papyrus, found inside a leather binding, which is blank except for “Gospel according to Matthew” in Greek on the recto.  Simon Gathercole has written about it.  The suggestion is that this is the “cover-leaf” for a papyrus codex, and that the […]
  • Dictating to a scribe can alter the language used?
    A fascinating post at Evangelical Textual Criticism (the post seems to have vanished for the moment, but, lucky me, I can see it in my RSS reader).  This gives abstracts for an Australian conference, Observing the Scribe at Work.  One of these caught my eye: Delphine Nachtergaele (Ghent University), ‘Scribes in the Greek Private Papyrus Letters’ […]
  • The Codex Agobardinus of Tertullian is online at Gallica!!
    A red letter day, this.  I learn via Twitter and the Florus blog that some more Latin manuscripts have appeared on the French National Library site.  Among them is the oldest and most important manuscript of the works of Tertullian, the Codex Agobardinus (Paris lat. 1622).  It may be found here.  100Mb of joy! […]
  • Some new patristic translations in the pipeline at Moody – Spokane
    A correspondent writes to tell me that Jonathan Armstrong, at Moody Bible Institute-Spokane, is at work with his students on a number of patristic texts.  He writes: We have founded an early Church studies honors society complete with electives that are taught primarily by Dr. Armstrong. As part of the program, students will be taking […]
  • Life of Mar Aba – final version now online in English
    I have collected together all the pieces of the Life of the 6th century patriarch of Persia, Mar Aba, and revised them slightly and uploaded them to the Additional Fathers collection, with an introduction.  The translation is here. I made the translation, not from the original Syriac, but from the BKV German translation.  It’s probably […]
  • Theodoret’s Commentary on Romans – online in English
    Theodoret’s Commentary on Romans, part 1 and part 2, from the 1839-40 Christian Remembrancer (vols. 21 and 22) is now online. The translation appeared in installments throughout those two volumes, and the page numbers reset when the new volume came out.  So I have divided it into two web pages. Many of the notes are […]
  • And yet another (!) street-preacher arrested in the UK
    No details as yet.  The preacher was a certain Josh Williamson, of Operation513 ministries.  I learned of the arrest via a tweet from Tony Miano, the US preacher arrested at Wimbledon for the same “offence”.  The Facebook post: I was arrested for “Breach of Peace” in Perth, Scotland. I was told the content of my message […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve continued to work on formatting Theodoret’s Commentary on Romans for online accessibility. Another chunk of the translation of Eusebius of Caesarea’s Commentary on Luke has arrived from the translator – chunk 8 out of 14, if I recall correctly.  Apparently progress on this will slow down, tho, for term time. OUP are going to […]
  • Oliver R. Barclay (1919-2013)
    I learn by email of the death of Oliver R. Barclay, a former chairman of the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (CICCU), and then general secretary of the IVF (now UCCF).  He was the author of Whatever Happened to the Jesus Lane Lot? (1977), an excellent informal history of Christian work and witness among students in Britain during the […]
  • Bart Ehrman says that I am a Moonie. And a Scientologist.
    An interesting post at Paleojudaica here, drawing attention to a review of a new book by a certain Bart Ehrman, who is described as a professor of New Testament textual criticism and apparently writes books trying to prove that the New Testament is complete nonsense.  That would seem like an unusual role for the normal […]
  • Feldman, the Testimonium Flavianum, Eusebius and the TLG
    Last year Josephus scholar Louis Feldman wrote a tentative article in support of the hitherto fringe idea that Eusebius of Caesarea composed the so-called Testimonium Flavianum found in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, book 18.  On p.26 we find the following statement: There is one phrase in the Testimonium that, while it has been noted […]
  • From my diary
    I am still struggling away with transcribing Theodoret’s Commentary on Romans.  15 pages to go. When I have it done, I will collect the bits of the Life of Mar Aba, write a preface and upload them as a whole.  It would be useful to know what the manuscript tradition is for the work. I […]
  • Some questions about “looting matters”
    I have a certain amount of time for the antiquities trade.  If it did not exist, there can be little doubt that the majority of papyrus codices discovered in Egypt in the last century would have gone into the fires of local farm-workers in that country (and some did anyway).  The fact that, in modern […]
  • From my diary
    One item that has hung around on my PC for ages now is Theodoret’s Commentary on Romans.  A translation actually exists of this obscure item, published by an Oxford Movement person in the 1840’s, in a journal, and then forgotten.  I did scan it in the then-new Finereader 11 back in early 2012; but a […]
  • Yet another street-preacher detained for endless hours
    From Christian Today (6th September) comes news of yet another political arrest of a street preacher in Britain, this time in Basildon in Essex (also at Christian Concern): A street preacher was arrested in Basildon on Wednesday following a complaint by a member of public. The Christian Legal Centre reports that Rob Hughes was held for […]
  • “Freedom of speech is not something to be awarded to those who are thought deserving and denied to those who are thought undeserving’ – judge
    Another valuable article appears today in the Daily Mail.  The context is a curious system of secret ‘family’ courts who take children from families but may not be reported by the press.  This evil seems peculiar to Britain, and the details may be read in the article.   The new judge in charge of the system, […]
  • A modern pillar-hermit?
    An article in the Daily Mail today reports on a Georgian monk, Maxime Qavtaradze, who lives atop a “pillar” above his monastery.  The “pillar” seems to be a rather wide chunk of rock, with a little hut and a chapel on the top. It takes a strong mind and a lot of willpower  to become a […]
  • Miscellania: some snippets about the CICCU and the SCM from Google Books
    For some reason today I did a search to find out when the Cambridge Inter-collegiate Christian Union (CICCU), one of the most influential Christian bodies of the 20th century, split away from the Student Christian Movement (SCM).  The CICCU had founded the SCM, but the latter became compromised with liberalism and had to be cut adrift.  […]
  • Life of Mar Aba – chapter 41 (and end)
    We may as well add today the conclusion of the Life of Mar Aba. 41.  In order to avoid wearying you, through hearing too much, let us pass over what God soon did through him and for his sake in many distant countries, through arbitrating disputes which Satan, the enemy of our nature, had aroused; then in the […]
  • Life of Mar Aba – chapter 40
    Dead but not buried yet! (I have split up some of the monster sentences in this one). 40.  He was honoured for seven days in the cathedral, day and night, with scripture readings, hymns, sermons and spiritual songs, and all the hosts of believers from all the provinces took the blessings home, by means of small […]
  • Life of Mar Aba – chapter 39
    Mar Aba may be dead; but the political situation was still difficult.  The fire-priests had not forgotten their old adversary.  For Zoroastrians were not buried, and Mar Aba had been a noble Persian. 39.  Then the magians made so much fuss, that nobody dared to bury him until the King commanded it.  When he was laid […]
  • Life of Mar Aba – chapter 38
    By this time Mar Aba was an old man.  Clearly he had reached an understanding with the Sassanid King, and was trusted to undertake what were really diplomatic missions.  But his health had suffered from his long period of imprisonment, and it is likely that everyone knew that he did not have long to live. […]
  • Life of Mar Aba – chapter 37
    Let’s return to the 6th century Syriac Life of Mar Aba, the Nestorian patriarch.  This life is interesting since it is not far removed in time from the events, and contains what are clearly historical statements about an otherwise little-known period of the history of Christianity in Persia. A German translation exists, but no English […]
  • Making money from my efforts; but do I care?
    A Google search for Pionius reminded me that, back in 2006, I had scanned the late Life of Polycarp by ps.Pionius — it is probably 4th century — and added it to my collection here. What I did not expect was to find the same item for sale on Amazon, here and here, added in […]
  • Passion of St Saturninus of Toulouse – now online in English
    In the early 5th century an unknown writer edited an account from ca. 300 of the death of Bishop Saturninus of Toulouse.  He added a preface, and a conclusion recording the moving of the saint’s remains; but the main core of the account remained the same.  It is an interesting, and historical, insight into how Christians […]
  • Admin: possible changes to the appearance of the site
    I may need to change the WordPress theme that I use for this site.  For some reason quoting material – which I do a lot – does not work very well since I upgraded.  My apologies if there is any oddness while I experiment! UPDATE: OK, I have reverted.  The same problems appeared in the […]
  • More on the arrest of a preacher in Norwich for objecting to homosexuality
    Further to yesterday’s post, I have now seen the email which caused “Norwich Pride” to report Dr Clifford to the police.  It is entirely innocuous.  Every word of it is benevolent, and addressed to sinners, calling them to repentance.  I would post it here without a second thought except that I find myself asking…. would […]
  • From my diary
    Some may recall that I commissioned a translation of the Passion of St Saturninus, written in the 5th century but the core of it 3rd century.  Saturninus was bishop of what is now Toulouse.  The oracles in the pagan temples started to fail, and go silent, and the priests enquired why.  Someone mentioned Saturninus, who […]
  • English clergyman informed against, harassed by police for saying homosexuality is a sin
    There was a Gay Power march in the quiet rural city of Norwich in England a month or so ago.  I remember thinking how offensive it probably was — and was intended to be — to the conservative inhabitants of the city. I remember thinking how much it was a triumphalist proclamation of gay power over […]
  • An extract from Eusebius, “Ecclesiastical Theology” III, 4-6
    A portion of Eusebius of Caesarea’s Ecclesiastical Theology, written against Marcellus of Ancyra, was edited and translated in John Mackett, Eusebius of Caesarea’s Theology of the Holy Spirit. Milwaukee, WI : Marquette University,  1990.  As it is not too long, I think it might be interesting to give the passage translated here. Mackett goes on […]
  • Forthcoming: translation of Eusebius’ “Contra Marcellum” and “Ecclesiastical Theology”
    We have English translations of a great deal of Patristic literature.  One of the most conspicuous absences, however, has been the five books that Eusebius of Caesarea wrote against Marcellus of Ancyra after the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.  These are the Contra Marcellum and the Ecclesiastical Theology. Today I heard from Dr Kelley […]
  • A quotation from Thales?
    A correspondent writes: I have seen this statement all over the web referring to an alleged quote of Thales: Megiston topos: hapanta gar chorei (Μέγιστον τόπος• άπαντα γαρ χωρεί) “Space is the greatest thing, as it contains all things” However, I have never seen a reference to an ancient text.  Is this a web myth? […]
  • The unlawful pleasures of the imagination
    While searching for something else, I found an interesting passage in Augustine’s De Trinitate, book 12, chapter 12: … when the mind is pleased in thought alone with unlawful things, while not indeed determining that they are to be done, but yet holding and pondering gladly things which ought to have been rejected the very […]
  • Chrysostom, De terrae motu (on the earthquake) now online in English
    Bryson Sewell has kindly translated for us all the short homily by John Chrysostom, De terrae motu (on the earthquake; CPG 4366, PG 50 713-6). It’s here in HTML form.  I have placed the PDF and Word forms at here. The translation is public domain: use it freely for personal, educational or commercial use. If […]
  • Medieval poison ring found – get one now!
    NEW!  For the Borgia in YOUR church … a poison ring! SMILE … as your opponents die writhing on the floor while you preach a sermon about peace and unity! END … those interminable conferences by poisoning your enemies during the communion service! INVITE … your foes round for dinner: “The drinks are on me!” […]
  • Notes upon the Acts / Passion of St. Saturninus
    An online forum asked about an ancient text named the Acts of St. Saturninus.  I had not heard of these, and my investigation is perhaps worth writing up. The Passio S. Saturnini is a text which describes the death of Saturninus and other martyrs of Toulouse in Gaul during the Decian persecution.  It belongs to […]
  • More Egypt vandalism: the museum in Minya attacked and looted by Muslim Brotherhood
    From the Daily Mail (h/t Nebraska Energy Observer): Looters ransack Egyptian antiques museum and snatch priceless artefacts as  armed police move inside stormed Cairo mosque Museum in the Upper Egyptian city of  Minya was broken into on Thursday. Ministry accused Muslim Brotherhood  supporters of breaking in. Egypt’s famous Malawi National Museum has  been ransacked, looted […]
  • Coptic monastery set alight; fate of Coptic manuscripts unknown
    There have been vague reports on twitter for a few days of a 4th century Coptic church, the “Virgin Mary church”, being burned by the Moslem Brotherhood’s thugs in Egypt.  Today I find something solid, and it looks grim. From Ancient Egyptian Christian Monastery Set Aflame As Muslim Brotherhood supporters continue their jihadi rampage on […]
  • Notes on chapter divisions in Syriac manuscripts from antiquity
    The British Library holds some of the most ancient Syriac manuscripts in the world, brought there in 1842 by Archdeacon Tattam from the monastery of Deir al-Suryani in the Nitrian desert in Egypt.  Last Saturday I went down there, along with Syriacist Steven Ring, and examined four of them for evidence of chapter divisions.  This […]
  • Updating the WordPress software
    My apologies to anyone who tried to visit the site over the last half-hour.  I was engaged in the long-deferred task of updating WordPress (and cursing the half-written upgrade instructions).  All seems to be well now.
  • Google sabotaging Internet Explorer
    A new version of Google Mail yesterday; and today I find that it won’t work properly with Internet Explorer 10.  I was forced to use Chrome – which I dislike – in order to reply to an email.   (link; link) It looks as if it doesn’t work that well with Firefox either. This is not […]
  • A visit to the Verulamium Museum
    A dinner engagement took me to St Albans this evening.  The road-widening on the M25 caused me to go early; and a look at my own Mithras site revealed that the Verulamium Museum there had some Mithraic items.  I took my mobile phone, paid for parking, then admission, and wandered in. The museum didn’t place […]
  • Selections from Schröder’s “Titel und Text” – 4
    One of the most useful elements of Schröder’s “Titel und Text” is the appendix.  This attempts to work out what words were used by the Romans for “work-title”, “book-title”, “table of contents”, “item in a table of contents”, “chapter”, “title”, and “poem heading”. I would imagine that Dr Schröder compiled these references by a database search, but […]
  • Augustine, Letter to Firmus – English translation
    An article by Lambot informs me of the existence of an interesting letter by St. Augustine, and a correspondent has let me know that an English translation exists in the Fathers of the Church volume of the City of God, to which the letter relates. While discoveries of sermons by St. Augustine have never ceased, […]
  • British Library impressions
    It has been quite a while since I lasted visited the British Library.  It has been so long, indeed, that when I found a need to do so, I found that my readers’ card had expired in 2008, five years ago.  The building is in central London, a destination pretty much barred to those of […]
  • Manuscripts online at the Walters Art Museum
    A bunch of gospel manuscripts and other items, mostly illuminated, are online at the Walters Art Museum here.  Blessedly, the Walters has made the images truly accessible: This Web page links to complete sets of high-resolution archival images of    entire manuscripts from the collection of the Walters Art Museum, along    with detailed catalog descriptions. They […]
  • The Townley Homer at the British Library
    A very welcome addition to the British Library collection of digital manuscripts is announced on their blog today.  In an excellent article by Julian Harrison, Hooray for Homer!, we learn that BL. Burney 86, a 10th century manuscript with copious scholia, is now accessible here. The article itself is really useful, giving the history of […]
  • Selections from Schröder’s “Titel und Text” – 3
    Here is a rough English translation of the conclusions for part 2 of Bianca-Jeanette Schröder’s book, Titel und Text.  It was made in haste for my own purposes, so is probably not 100% reliable.  Nevertheless, the material is so important, and is apparently so little known, that it seems well worth placing this here. Part 2 […]
  • An extract from Galen’s “De Compositione Medicamentorum Secundum Locus”
    Another interesting snippet from Dorandi is a piece of a work by the 2nd century medical writer Galen. Galen’s works fill 20 huge volumes in the standard edition by Kuhn.  Few indeed have ever been translated.  Yet they contain interesting snippets on the history of books. Dorandi gives us the text and a French translation […]
  • The origins of marking written work in red ink – Cicero and Atticus
    While reading Tiziano Dorandi’s fascinating work, Le stylet et la tablette, on how ancient authors composed their works, I find on p.113 a little snippet. Cicero sent his works to Atticus for correction and publication.  It seems that Atticus would ‘mark’ the work in red ink, just like a modern school-teacher. We learn from Cicero’s […]
  • (Ps.)Chrysostom, Homily on the Nativity, now online in English
    Bryson Sewell has kindly translated for us a homily transmitted under the name of Chrysostom on Christmas.  This is not the better known Christmas homily, but a second one whose authenticity was defended by C. Martin. The translation of the homily may be found here: HTML at PDF and Word format at As […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve been working away at Bianca-Jeanette Schröder’s Titel und Text for what seems like forever.  It’s an excellent book on chapter titles, tables of contents, and the like; but if your German is as limited as mine, it can take a while to get anywhere. I’ve actually been translating lengthy sections of the book, in […]
  • Leontius of Byzantium, Against the frauds of the Apollinarists – now online in English
    The 6th century Chalcedonian theologian, Leontius of Byzantium, is most likely the author of a compilation of texts by the 4th century heretic, Apollinarius of Laodicea, entitled “Against the frauds of the Apollinarists”.  What was happening was that Monophysite polemicists were using these texts for anti-Chalcedon arguments.  The texts themselves were circulating under the names […]
  • Which manuscript of Leontius Byzantinus did Angelo Mai use?
    The translation of Leontius of Byzantium’s Adversus fraudes Apollinistarum (CPG 6817) is going great guns.  But we have found at least one lacuna in the printed text, where a heading promises a quotation from Apollinarius, but is in fact followed by Leontius’ diatribe in reply. The Greek text of this work was published by Angelo […]
  • Who translated Leontius of Byzantium, Adversus fraudes Apollinistarum, into Latin?
    The project to translate Leontius of Byzantium, Adversus fraudes Apollinistarum, goes on.  We’re using the text in Migne, Patrologia Graeca 86, and making reference to the parallel Latin translation.  But who wrote the latter?  And when? According to the table of contents in PG 86, the text is a reprint of an edition by Angelo […]
  • Still more on early French travellers to Libya – Durand’s article at last!
    In 2010 I wrote about the circus at Leptis Magna, and how guidebooks say that Durand, a 17th century traveller, found it in much better condition.  In 2011 I found a snippet from it. This week Joe Rock, who commented on the article, has come to all of our assistance.  He has obtained a copy […]
  • Selections from Schröder’s “Titel und Text” – 2
    Continuing from the table of contents of Schröder’s “Titel und Text” here, this is a rough translation of the conclusion to the first part, on the titles of ancient books.    *     *     *     *     *     * Part 1 – Conclusion (p.90) It should not surprise us, if the most ancient book titles seem unimaginative to modern […]
  • No free speech in France – Jewish group successfully sues Twitter to hand over ID’s of foes to police
    A horrifying story which sets a ghastly precedent.  I have edited it slightly, for reasons that will become apparent. Twitter hands over confidential data of Jewish-sounding users to French authorities Twitter has handed confidential account information over to French authorities to track down the authors of Jewish-sounding tweets, to end the legal battle that started last year […]
  • Selections from Schröder’s “Titel und Text” – 1
    B.J. Schröder’s Titel und Text is a profoundly important book for the subject of book titles, chapter divisions, chapter titles, tables of contents and the like.  Yet it seems to be largely unknown in the anglophone world.  I can find no reviews in JSTOR, nor a review at Bryn Mawr. For a few days now […]
  • Alin Suciu on the Berlin-Strasbourg Apocryphon / ‘Gospel of the Savior’
    Alin Suciu notes on his blog that he has successfully defended his PhD thesis.  The content of it is very interesting indeed, and thankfully he has made it available online here: Apocryphon Berolinense/Argentoratense (Previously Known as the Gospel of the Savior). Reedition of P. Berol. 22220, Strasbourg Copte 5-7 and Qasr el-Wizz Codex ff. 12v-17r […]
  • Armenian version of Chronicle of Michael the Syrian now in English
    This morning I received an email from Robert Bedrosian, the translator into English of a great number of Classical Armenian texts: The English translation of Michael the Great’s Chronicle is now online.  It may be freely copied and distributed. This is incredibly good news! The Chronicle of Michael the Syrian is the largest medieval […]
  • From my diary
    I have continued to work on Bianca-Jeanette Schröder’s book.  This evening I have finished translating the conclusion to the second part.  From it I conclude that that section is, I think, something I really will need to read in detail.  Tomorrow I shall begin on the conclusion to the third part. I wonder if there […]
  • Reading a book in a language you don’t speak
    For my sins, which evidently must be worse than I had realised, I need to master the contents of an entire book in German.  The book in question is Bianca-Jeanette Schröder’s Titel und Text, with the subtitle: Zur Entwicklung lateinischer Gedichtüberschriften. Mit Untersuchungen zu lateinischen Buchtiteln, Inhaltsverzeichnissen und anderen Gliederungsmitteln.  It was published by De […]
  • A saying from Polyaenus’ Strategems
    I’ve been looking at the Strategems of Polyaenus.  These exist in eight books, dedicated to Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus.  In book 8 I find the following: 30.  After Caesar had seen all his enemies subdued, he empowered every one of his soldiers to save the life of any Roman he pleased.  By this act […]
  • Saying grace before ….
    At the weekend, I ventured as far as the English coastal resort of Aldeborough.  Like all the little towns on the East Coast of England, it is gloomy and desolate for nine months of the year, its streets swept by the bitter weather that blows in from the North Sea.  But this weekend the sun […]
  • From my diary
    A very hot day here.  I have been converting an out-of-copyright Loeb into PDF format.  The book is old and worn, and the binding is loose with much use.  Yes, it is a library copy. Yet somehow such old volumes have a charm of their own.  I did look to see if I might purchase […]
  • Manuscripts online at the Spanish National Library
    A correspondent, Surburbanbanshee, has drawn my attention to the presence of digitised manuscripts at the Biblioteca Nacional de Espana website here.  If you click on the link “manuscritos” at the foot of the BNE page, you get all their manuscripts. Of course a lot of these are modern, and of no interest to us.  Instead […]
  • Links on the Wimbledon preacher arrest
    The BBC has chosen to ignore the story of how a street preacher was sworn at by a woman and then arrested, for daring to mention homosexuality among a number of sins (see here and here and here).  Others have not. Cranmer broke the story, and the Daily Telegraph ran with it.  A few more links. […]
  • Bamberg manuscripts online
    The library website does it’s best to conceal the fact, but there are a number of very interesting manuscripts online at the Staatsbibliothek Bamberg Kaiser-Heinrich-Bibliothek site in Munich.  The top-level site is here, but unless you can wade through oceans of PR waffle, you won’t find the manuscripts.  These are here. The online viewer isn’t […]
  • Police statement on arrest of street preacher in Wimbledon
    Further to this and this, I have now received confirmation of the basic details of the story from the police at Wimbledon.  My enquiry was as follows: I read online a report that the police arrested a street preacher and held him for seven hours while quizzing him on his beliefs.  According to the report the reason […]
  • Excel spreadsheet of all manuscripts at the British Library
    Someone at the British Library has had an excellent idea.  They’ve uploaded a spreadsheet listing all the manuscripts they have online, with the URL.  It’s here.  They have 856 mss online at the moment; a small proportion of their holdings, but still very useful. The spreadsheet lists shelfmark, contents, url and the project that did […]
  • More on the arrest of the street preacher at Wimbledon
    Further to yesterday’s post: I learn from the comments at the Cranmer blog that the incident took place on Monday 1st July. I have had no reply to my enquiry to Wimbledon Police Station. The Daily Telegraph has today run the story, Christian arrested for calling homosexuality a ‘sin’. A Christian street preacher has been […]
  • Street preacher arrested at Wimbledon, held for seven hours
    There is a worrying report at the Cranmer blog this evening.  It is good that they have highlighted this, because it seems to have gone otherwise unreported. Mr Miano has recently been out preaching in Wimbledon. He very much enjoys biblical evangelism, speaking about spiritual growth, personal holiness and the person and work of Jesus […]
  • Chapter divisions, titles and tables of contents in the BNF Greek mss.
    Now that the French National Library has a bunch of Greek manuscripts online, we can use them to find out what proportion have chapter divisions and titles.  It can’t be comprehensive, but this limited exploration will give us some sort of idea.  It will also be interesting to see if I stumble across any tables […]
  • E. Schwartz on the book titles and kephalaia of Eusebius’ Church History
    They certainly knew how to write scholarly editions, those editors of the Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller series.  A handful of pages on “titles and kephalaia” in GCS 9.3, by the editor, Eduard Schwarz, has nevertheless remained unchallenged for a century. Of course one reason for this may be that it is incredibly hard for any non-German […]
  • The colloquia of the Hermeneumata PseudoDositheana
    A press release advises me that the excellent Eleanor Dickey of Exeter University has brought out a rather interesting book: The colloquia of the Hermeneumata Pseudodositheana are a set of little stories and dialogues about daily life in the Roman Empire, written for ancient Greek speakers learning Latin. Like modern language textbooks, they contain scenes […]
  • Greek mss. at the French National Library
    I learned today from the Evangelical textual criticism blog that the Bibliotheque Nationale Francais have been putting manuscripts online, at their portal. Locating these is not straightforward; but if you do an advanced search, leave blank the title etc, and select manuscripts, Greek, you get back a list. A good number are biblical mss., […]
  • The Arethas codex (Paris gr. 451) of the Greek apologists is online!!!
    I’m looking through the Greek mss. of the French National Library online, and compiling a post with a list.  Dull work. But imagine my excitement when I find that Paris gr. 451 is online.  This is the manuscript that preserves for us a bunch of early Christian apologetic works!  It was copied for Archbishop Arethas […]
  • Papyrus manuscript of Didymus the Blind’s “Commentary on Ecclesiastes” online!
    Quite accidentally I find that colour photographs of the pages of Didymus the Blind’s Commentary on Ecclesiastes are online here.  I can only say “wow!” This work was lost until 1941.  In that year, the threat of Rommel’s Afrika Corps caused the British Government to order works carried out at the Tura quarries near Cairo, […]
  • Some notes on Parthenius of Nicaea, and his “Peri Erotikon Pathematon”
    Until a few weeks ago, I had managed to go through life without ever encountering the name of the ancient writer Parthenius of Nicaea, or being aware of the absence.   However today I found myself looking at his work, and so obliged to discover who he was, when he lived, and so forth. Our best […]
  • Detlefsen on the “indices” of Pliny the Elder’s “Natural History”
    Pliny the Elder states, at the end of his preface to his Natural History, that a list of contents of the work follows.  In our modern editions this forms book 1 of the work.  The indices to each book are also found sometimes at the start of the book to which they relate.  The text of […]
  • Buying images of pages from a manuscript in the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg – part 1
    I need to look at some pages from a Syriac manuscript in the collection of the National Library of Russia in St Petersburg.   Rather than flying out there, paying for a hotel, it might be cheaper to just purchase a few digital photographs.  At least, one would hope so! After a look at page on the […]
  • Leithart’s “Defending Constantine” – an interesting idea
    Constantine gets a bad press these days. It’s all down to the Hapsburgs and the Romanovs, really.  When you are trying to overthrow an autocrat who justifies his rule by appealing to Constantine as the source of authority, then the urge to rubbish Constantine is going to be strong.  And we find just this sequence […]
  • A Christian inscription from Palmyra dated 135 AD?
    A discussion in a forum raised an interesting issue, and since I ended up translating material to answer it, it seems right to give it a wider currency. Steven Ring in his chronology of Syriac history here makes the following interesting comment: Dated Christian tomb inscriptions written in the Palmyrene Aramaic dialect were made in Palmyra, Syria. […]
  • The manuscripts of Polybius
    The Greek writer Polybius wrote a history in 40 books which recorded events from 264 BC down to the fall of Carthage in 146 BC.  The work must still have existed in a complete form in the Byzantine era, when extracts were made from it, but has not come down to us intact.  However a […]
  • The manuscripts of Pliny the Elder’s “Natural History”
    Pliny the Elder, who died in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, has left us only a single work out of his vast literary activity.  This is the Historia Naturalis, a compendium of information about natural phenomena of various sort.  The work consists of a prefatory letter, addressed to his friend, the emperor Vespasian Titus, followed […]
  • Stephen Langton and the modern chapter divisions of the bible
    If you read any book on the text of the bible, you will sooner or later come across a statement that the chapter divisions in our modern bibles are not ancient, but are the work of Cardinal Stephen Langton, the medieval Archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1228 AD.  I have never seen this claim […]
  • Christians in the madhouse of the early 21st century
    Via Monday Evening I discover an amusing post, Anthony Esolen’s Welcome to the Mental Ward. The author points out that, in our day, the people who have power have reached such a point that their demands make no sense, even from their own point of view.  The article is impossible to epitomise, but is well worth […]
  • The Law Society and the Mendham collection – afterthoughts
    I blogged earlier on a minor scandal of our times, and I have a few more reflections on the matter now. In 1869 Sophia Mendham gave her husband’s collection of early books to the Law Society of Great Britain, on the understanding that it would be preserved for all time.   However the current controllers of the Law […]
  • Anyone have access to “Kanon in Konstruktion”?
    Does anyone have access to this item: Joseph Sievers, Forgotten Aspects of the reception of Josephus’ Bellum Judaicum: Its Lists of Contents, in Eve-Marie Becker, Stefan Scholz, “Kanon in Konstruktion und Dekonstruktion”, DeGruyter, 2011. p.363-386. Somewhat annoyingly, Cambridge University Library did not appear to have the book, and it isn’t listed in COPAC either. If […]
  • Theses online at Oxford University Research Archive
    Via the excellent AWOL I learn of a digital repository for PhD theses.  Oxford, it seems, has declined to support the British Library’s EthOs initiative, preferring to keep material produced at Oxford on an Oxford website: Oxford University Research Archive. This afternoon I did a search of the archive (from my smart phone – the […]
  • A manuscript of Polybius online at the British Library
    I’m getting interested in the manuscript tradition of the works of Polybius.  Basically books 1-5 of his history come down to us directly.  Books 6-18 are transmitted by a collection of excerpts known as the Excerpta Antiqua.  Finally there are long quotations in some of the compendia of the time of Constantine Porphyrogenitus.  I have […]
  • Three kinds of hate mail
    An interesting post here. It’s been a while since I’ve had one of those coordinated attempts at stoning me in the comments.  It’s always a pressure group and their supporters.  I almost miss them … the comments coming in thick and fast and me deleting them after a sentence or two, unread.  Zap zap zap!
  • Bibliography management tools – any suggestions?
    I’m writing an article at the moment, for publication.  I’ve got too much bibliography for me to remember everything any more. I’ve got lists of articles on bits of paper, and no idea, in some cases, why I looked at something.  I’ve got folders full of PDF’s.  And I’m forgetting stuff.  Stuff that I know […]
  • In Cambridge today
    I’m having a research day in the university library. Feel free to say hello. I’m the chap with the white shirt, crimson tie, and grey trousers.
  • The Repose of John – Alcock’s translation
    Anthony Alcock has produced a modern translation of a Coptic text, The Repose of St John the Evangelist and Apostle.  It was published originally in 1913 with a translation by Wallis Budge. The new translation (with facing text) is here: The Repose of John_alcock_2013 (PDF).
  • The Syriac translation of Eusebius of Caesarea’s “Church History”
    Two very early manuscripts exist of a Syriac translation of the “Church History” of Eusebius.  One of these dates from 462 A.D. It was bought from the monks of the Nitrian desert in Egypt, and destined for the British Library; but the middleman, a certain Pacho, double-crossed his masters and instead sold it, together with […]
  • An earlier Morton Smith – D’Antraigues and Clement’s “Hypotyposeis”
    I have today come across a very curious paper, telling a strange story.  I give the opening portion here. In the early Spring of 1779 a young French nobleman pulled up his camel outside the ancient monastery of Anba Makar, just off the main route between Alexandria and Cairo. He had in his pocket a […]
  • Disabling IE10 auto-complete spam
    I upgraded to IE10 recently, but have been driven crazy by one ‘feature’.  When I type in the address box a few letters of one of my regular sites, it shows me a whole list of url’s which I have never visited and in which I have no interest.  This infuriating trick must be commercially […]
  • Syriac manuscripts in St Petersburg, Russia
    It’s pretty hard to find out what the libraries in St Petersburg hold.  But today I discovered that Gregory Kessel produced an abbreviated translation of the 1960 catalogue by N. V. Pigulevskaya.   Better yet, he made it available online.  It’s here.
  • “The Mysteries of the Greek Alphabet” – part 5 of translation from Coptic now online
    Dr Anthony Alcock has kindly sent me the fifth and final part of his translation of the 14th century Coptic text, “The mysteries of the Greek alphabet”.  It’s here: alphabet_alcock5 (PDF) See also: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Very many thanks indeed to Dr Alcock for making this translation freely accessible online!  […]
  • Break-up of the Mendham Collection – Law Society flogging their books to Sothebys
    The Law Society has decided to sell a collection of early printed books, bequeathed to it long ago in the expectation that they should be preserved forever.  Rebukes from academics have been met by stonewalling, and a refusal to discuss it.  The collection is now visible on the Sothebys website. A sad email appeared on the […]
  • From my diary
    There’s quite a lot going on in my world at the moment.  Too much, indeed, for me to keep on top of it all. Firstly, I’ve been asked to write a paper for an academic volume.  As I am not an academic, this is quite unusual; the explanation, perhaps, is that the subject is an intractable […]
  • John the Lydian – On April
    Mischa Hooker has sent over another chunk of John the Lydian, De Mensibus book 4.  This time it is the section on the events in the Roman month of April.  It’s very interesting, as ever! JohnLydus-4-04-April – final (PDF) We’ll need to decide whether to carry on with this project.  A printed translation of De Mensibus has […]
  • A drawing of Old St. Peter’s and the Vatican palace from 1535
    I stumbled across the following sketch here.  It shows Old St Peters (left).  On the right is the wall that leads even today to the Castell Sant’Angelo, so the viewpoint is more or less that of every modern photograph of St Peters. From this, it is easy to see why the old basilica was not […]
  • “The Mysteries of the Greek Alphabet” – part 4 of translation from Coptic now online
    Anthony Alcock continues working on this late Coptic text.  Part 4, of 5, is here: alphabet_alcock4
  • Review: Tony Burke, “Ancient Gospel or Modern Forgery? The Secret Gospel of Mark in Debate”
    I have now completed my review of this book.  My thanks to Wipf and Stock for sending me a review copy.  Of course I write as an interested amateur, not a professional scholar, so my opinions are those of an educated layman. The review may be found here (PDF): Review_Burke_Secret_Mark
  • From my diary
    Spent the evening labouring over a book review.  This item must have cost me several evenings work.  At least I have now got through to the end of it.  But I shall reread it in a couple of days time.  Always good to judge the tone first! It will be a good while before I […]
  • Scribonius Largus – an authorial table of contents
    Scribonius Largus was a physician in the time of Claudius.  He was the author of a collection of medical recipes, written in 47-48 A.D. The work begins with a preface; then there is an index; and then the recipes. At the end of the preface, Largus writes: Primum ergo ad quae vitia compositiones exquisitae et aptae […]
  • More on chapter titles
    I need to do some further research on chapter titles in ancient texts, and whether they are authorial.  A correspondent has drawn my attention to Bianca-Jeanette Schroder’s Titel und Text: Zur Entwicklung lateinischer Gedichtüberschriften. Mit Untersuchungen zu lateinischen Buchtiteln, Inhaltsverzeichnissen und anderen Gliederungsmitteln (De Gruyter, 1999, 349 pages).  It retails for the eye-watering sum of […]
  • Chronica Tertullianea et Cyprianea 2011 now out
    Through the kindness of Pierre Petitmengin, a copy of the Chronica Tertullianea et Cyprianea 2011 has reached me.  This bibliography of Latin patristic materials before Nicaea, with short reviews, is published in the Revue d’etudes augustiniennes, which, I learn, has now become the Revue d’etudes augustiniennes et patristiques. So, what was published in the last […]
  • The evil bishop, the evil Pope, and the satire of Erasmus on such creatures
    I mentioned a little while ago how a Canadian episcopal bishop named Michael Bird, fervent in promoting non-Christian causes such as homosexuality in his unfortunate church, zealous in suing his congregations for daring to disapprove, seizing their property and closing the doors, is now suing a blogger who dared to criticise and satirise him, the […]
  • Another angle on the Meta Sudans
    The Meta Sudans was a fountain in Rome on the Appian Way, just inside the Arch of Constantine.  Its remains were demolished by Mussolini to make way for a road.  In old photographs it is usually photographed from the Arch of Titus, which makes it look more complete than it was.  Today I found online another […]
  • “The Mysteries of the Greek Alphabet” – part 3 of translation from Coptic now online
    Anthony Alcock continues his translation of the late medieval Coptic text which reads symbolism into the letters of the Greek alphabet.  Part 3 (of 5) is now available!  alphabet_alcock3 (PDF) See also part 1 and part 2. I’m sure that all of us are grateful to Dr Alcock for making this text available to us all.  This […]
  • Back from Rome
    Just back from a long weekend in the Eternal City.  Went to Ostia as well!  Glorious weather, but a bit of rain two mornings only. Here’s a photo from a cafe on the Piazza Navona, late afternoon on Sunday.
  • Attempts to hack the new Mithras pages
    When I wrote the PHP scripts that support my Roman cult of Mithras site, I incorporated some code to tell me if anyone was looking at the pages.  Specifically it tells me which pages are popular; information that is useful to me when deciding what to work on. Each page is accessed using an address like this: […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve asked a colleague to translate for us Leontius of Byzantium, Adversus fraudes Apollinistarum (Against the forgeries of the Apollinarists) (CPG 6817, PG 86, col. 1948-1976).  This is fourteen and a half columns of Migne, and may well be interesting.  The circulation of banned works under other names was an inevitable consequence of the intolerance […]
  • “The mysteries of the Greek alphabet” – part 2 now online in English
    Dr Anthony Alcock has continued his translation of this fascinating late Coptic text on the ‘meaning’ of the Greek alphabet (part 1 here).  Part 2 (of 5) is here: alphabet_alcock2 (PDF)  
  • Isidore of Pelusium, Letter 78
    Edward Campbell has kindly translated for us this letter of Isidore of Pelusium, from the Patrologia Graeca text.  It came to my attention after a correspondent asked whether it referred to the Three Hundred Spartans. To Esaias[1] the soldier. To[2] the disorderly soldier. If, from among your weapons, you consider your spears and your helmet […]
  • Anglican church of Canada bishop Michael Bird uses church funds (?) to sue blogger for “defamation”
    UPDATED: I learn that it is not clear whether Bishop Bird is actually using church funds to do this.  I suspect that he is, since few people can afford such vanity cases personally, but I do not actually know this for a fact. Anglican Samizdat blog is being sued.  The pretence is defamation, but the object is to […]
  • “Ingesting the Godhead”? – a dubious “quote” from Cyril of Alexandria
    A correspondent has written to me with an interesting quotation which is being attributed on the web to Cyril of Alexandria.  It may be found here, among other places, and reads: When we ingest the Eucharist in reality we are ingesting the Godhead ….. because His Body and Blood are diffused through our members we become partakers […]
  • Guidance in Christian life and the sort of things we should do
    An interesting post by the Ugley Vicar makes a point that is worth repeating: Maybe you are a square peg in a round hole – there is no shame in that. One of the turning points in my life came when, sitting in the vicarage in Sparkbrook, my eye was caught by Romans 12:6: “Having gifts […]
  • Off to Rome
    I’m off to Rome for a few days in a couple weeks.  Just a long weekend — boy are those hotels expensive! — but nice all the same. I’m travelling independently with a friend who hasn’t been to Rome before.  I’d rather like to spend some time in museums; my friend, however, is not an ancient […]
  • Jerome’s Commentary on Jonah – online in English
    I discovered today that there is online a thesis containing an English translation of Jerome’s Commentary on Jonah.  It was made by Timothy Michael Hegedus in 1991.  It’s here.  I am OCR’ing the PDF as I write! I learned about this via AWOL.  There is a website Open Access Theses and Dissertations.  This is a […]
  • From my diary
    I apologise for the outage yesterday.  My website provider was having difficulties.  There was also an unusual amount of comment spam which naturally had to be manually deleted.
  • “The Mysteries of the Greek Alphabet” – part 1 of Coptic text now online
    Dr Anthony Alcock has been at it again.  Fresh from translating the late Coptic poem, the Triadon, he has attacked another late Coptic text.  Today I received a PDF with the first part (out of five) of an English translation of a 14th century work, The Mysteries of the Greek Alphabet.  It is here: alphabet1_alcock_2013 (PDF) […]
  • Eusebius book – doing the money
    A day that I have long dreaded has arrived – the day on which I have to work out just what it cost to make the translation of Eusebius of Caesarea’s, Gospel Problems and Solutions. Why now?  Well, it’s the end of the financial year.  The company has been selling copies of the book for […]
  • Translation of the Triadon, part 2 – now online in English
    Anthony Alcock has continued translating the Triadon, the 14th century poem which happens to be the last literary text composed in Coptic.  He has kindly made this accessible to us all.  A PDF of the second part is here: Triadon_Part_Two_Alcock_2013.pdf Thank you very much, Dr Alcock!
  • A note on Sir Henry Savile’s edition of Chrysostom
    A correspondent yesterday enquired whether the edition of Chrysostom prepared by Sir Henry Savile in the 17th century mentioned a Sir Henry Neville.  The latter, he said, was a student of Savile’s and contributed largely to the cost of the edition. As you can see from the title page, above, only Savile’s name appears.  But […]
  • Life of Mar Aba – chapter 36
    The 6th century Saint’s life of the Nestorian Patriarch, Mar Aba, is an interesting document in that it contains real insights into the political maneouverings at the court of the later Sassanid kings.  The Nestorian patriarch now had a very substantial following in Persia.  Earlier Patriarchs were merely seen as the head of an unpopular sect […]
  • Some information on the homilies of Severian of Gabala
    Severian of Gabala, the enemy of John Chrysostom, has left around 60 homilies to us, some in Greek, preserved under his enemy’s name, and others in Armenian or other languages.  Much of this material is unpublished, and nearly all of it is untranslated.  Being rather obscure, it can be hard to get a handle on […]
  • Free ancient Greek OCR – getting started with Tesseract
    A correspondent draws my attention to Tesseract, a Google-hosted project to do Optical Character Recognition.  The Tesseract website is here.  Tesseract is a command-line tool, but there are front-ends available. I am a long-term fan of Abbyy Finereader, and, let’s face it, have probably OCR’d more text than most.  So I thought that I would […]
  • From my diary
    I’m afraid the sickliness of the current season has interfered quite a bit with my ability to do anything other than work and sneeze! But I still have several projects going forward.  Eusebius’ Commentary on Luke is progressing – a third chunk arrived this week and I reviewed it yesterday.  Likewise the translation of a […]
  • The man who discovered Egypt – a BBC TV programme on Flinders Petrie
    Last night, quite by accident, I found myself watching The man who discovered Egypt, an hour-long documentary on the founder of modern archaeology (and Egyptology), Flinders Petrie.  For the first time in a long time I watched a TV programme all the way through.  It was excellent! Ancient Egypt was vandalised by tomb raiders and […]
  • Ancient Greek OCR – progress, perhaps!
    A correspondent has sent me a very interesting message from a Bruce Robertson, taken from the Digital Classicists list, which I think might interest people here. Federico and I have been working quite a bit on Greek OCR this past  year, and have made some advances since the publications below.  We now  have a process […]
  • The dialogue of the Saint with the mummy of a Graeco-Egyptian: readings in the Life of St. Pisentius
    Dioscorus Boles has sent me a couple of links from his Coptic Literature blog which I think will be of wide interest.  The posts are referenced copiously, and of a very high standard. The first of these is an article on E. Wallis Budge, who published an immense amount of Coptic and ancient Egyptian material.  […]
  • From my diary
    A virus has left me stuck at home, and I am therefore in need of  the less taxing kind of literature to pass the time.  I have fallen back on Cicero’s Letters to his friends, in the two volume Penguin edition from 1978, translated by D. R. Shackleton Bailey. Letters are a strange form of […]
  • Press and web censorship to be introduced in Britain
    It’s mildly unbelievable, but apparently it’s true. The new regulation will cover “websites containing news-related material” apparently.  That means not only ones such as this, but the one run by your local parish council too.  And the one written by just about anyone with a blog. We now live in a world in which millions […]
  • From my diary
    I’ve been looking at some of the entries for Syria in the CIMRM, the collection of all Mithraic monuments and inscriptions.  In particular the two altars at Sia have drawn my attention.  One is easy enough to deal with — I have a photo from the original publication, plus another from the web. But the […]
  • From my diary
    I have been collecting images of Mithraic monuments from the web and identifying them, and adding them to my Mithras site.  It’s fun; and there are more to do. I’ve also written a short section in the site on Mithras and the Taurobolium.  Did the cultists of Mithras perform the taurobolium, a ceremony of being […]
  • Christians rescue snowed-in motorists in UK: story in Daily Mail
    From the Daily Mail today: Thank Heavens for Snow Angels! How a group of Christians got through to help stranded drivers hours efore the emergency teams arrived Motorists stranded on A23 towards Brighton for up to 13 hours But more than 30 Plymouth Brethren turned out to lend a helping hand Airports and railways also […]
  • Dishonesty at Wikipedia: “they don’t like it up ’em, sir”
    An amusing story from Wikipediocracy, the Wikipedia criticism site.  A user at Wikipedia has now banned any link to Wikipediocracy from Wikipedia, by adding the site to the “spam” blacklist.  Of course Wikipediocracy is not spam; this is censorship of an external site. Since Google privileges Wikipedia so much, this reduces traffic to Wikipediocracy and […]
  • Finding interesting things at the Christies web-site
    Few of us will be aware that there are good quality images of past sale objects on the website of Christie’s, the fine art dealers.  But an accident took me there this evening, and I found half a dozen objects relating to Mithras, which had been sold over the last 20 years.  There were photographs […]
  • From my diary
    I did a little more on the Mithras pages.  I was able to identify one of the images that I found online and create a CIMRM page for it.  The section in CIMRM on material from Alba Iulia is not very easy to work with, and I was reduced to looking through the limited number […]
  • Eusebius on the Psalms – some old quotations on the sabbath
    A couple of years ago I discussed a quotation from Eusebius’ Commentary on the Psalms.  An incoming link alerts me to a discussion which gives a longer quotation, and a source for it. The source given is Moses Stuart’s Commentary on the Apocalypse (vol. 2, p.9, p.40; Andover: Allen, Morrill, Wardwell, 1845).  But a quick […]
  • A Mithraic brooch in the Ashmolean in Oxford
    Last Saturday I was in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, browsing idly the Roman exhibits.  Suddenly I realised that I was looking at a set of small finds, all of Empire-period deities; and I started looking much more closely to see if there was a representation of Mithras.  And so there was! Sadly I had no […]
  • From my diary
    Last week and this I have been staying in two different hotels in neither of which it is easy to sleep.  How great the noise is, in our society!  It does make it diffic