Searching for Aphroditian

The archmage Aphroditian, the Persian judge who takes the Christian side in the fictitious 6th century Religious dialogue at the court of the Sassanids, is an unfamiliar name.  A google search produces much that is of interest to the curious reader, for precisely this reason.  Here are a few examples from “Aphroditian”, mostly in German.

 It seems that there was a 16th century Greek named Michael, who came to Russia where he was known as Maksim Grek.  His story can be found here, in Dimitris Cizevskij’s History of Russian Literature, as an author and a victim of political persecution.  On p.298, Cizevskij refers to “apocrypha … The Tale of Aphroditian, a bogomil writing, …”  It is clear that the author has never heard of the work, and knows only of its Slavonic transmission among the Bogomils.

On p.323 of Porphyrogenita by J. Chrysostomides &c, we find the following interesting statement, in the middle of a discussion of what the name of Sophocles would have meant to a middling-educated Byzantine:

And then at the very outermost edge of contact with culture we find Sophocles — and Euripides — sometimes turning up among the ‘Hellenes’ who are to be saved at the Second Coming — the ‘Seven Sages’ or ‘pagan philosophers’ to whom Apollo foretold the Incarnation.  The commonest names to be mentioned in these theosophical texts (and later to be represented in iconography) are Thucydides, Plato and Plutarch, but the poets sometimes get included, often in odd company, rubbing shoulders with bizarrely corrupted names (‘Dialed’, ‘Aphroditian’).  The jumbling of Greeks and foreigners, real and fictitious  persons, does not presuppose contact with any actual line by Sophocles; at most it implies that the name was vaguely familiar, as an eminent ancient worthy.

It does not seem that Aphroditian the Persian, a man who is certainly intended as a worthy, was familiar to this author.

A complete article on the text by C. Kaufmann is here, in Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique 2.  This queries whether the reference to Hera Pege vs Mary Pege in Hierapolis is evidence of the continuation of the cult of the Magna Mater into Christian times in this region.

Searching for “Aphroditianus” gives different results.

Stephen Gero, Apocryphal Gospels: a survey, ANRW (1988) 2.25, includes a brief mention of the work in his review of Infancy Gospel apocrypha here.  Page 3981 and n.63 tells us that there is an unedited Armenian version of the Religionsgesprach, referring to Bratke’s edition, p.128, which in turn refers to Brosset’s catalogue of the manuscripts in Edchmiadzin.  Gero believes that the birth narrative is “surely” taken from a source of the early 5th century, although he doesn’t say why.


Housekeeping on the Religionsgesprach

I’ve just been through my posts about this 6th century fictional dialogue at the court of the Sassanids, and added a new tag to them all “Aphroditianus”.  This is because the main character in the novel is the Persian magus Aphroditianus, and the first half of the work is his speech. 

Material about Aphroditianus forms part of the apocrypha, and I wanted to make sure that my posts about the Religionsgesprach are found by those searching for him.

I’ve been reading Bringel’s thesis, which gave us a new critical text (although this was ignored in Katherina Heyden’s 2009 book on the subject).  There seem to be 44 Greek manuscripts of the work in existence (plus Slavonic versions), although Bratke’s edition is the first critical text.  Apparently an extract of the work under the name of Julius Africanus is also in the Patrologia Graeca.  It was a popular text, it seems.


From my diary

This evening I had another bash at applying the Eusebius proof corrections to the PDF.  I’m now up to p.274 of the PDF file, which means all the proof corrections to the Greek have been done (I think!).  But there will be some footnote renumbering, which is a pain.  This takes me up to around 30% of the Greek-Latin corrections.

Last night I wrote to everyone who had been doing stuff for me and whom I had not heard from for a while.  I got a note back from the chap who translated the 14 letters of Isidore I posted yesterday tells me that he has indeed started on the next lot, which should appear in a month.  He also reminds me that I had intended to get these reviewed by someone knowledgeable, which I must indeed do.  I must also ask him about his name appearing on the stuff.

The first draft of the translation of the remaining portion of the 6th century novel, the Religionsgesprach am Hof der Sassaniden has arrived.  There are quite a few queries on this.  I did some this evening, but it will have to wait until I have some time on Monday.  It looks very good, tho, and it is great to realise that we’re getting close to the end of this text.  I will make this translation public domain when it is done and paid for.  And that reminds me — Pauline Bringel, who edited the text recently, kindly sent me a PDF of her thesis.  I must remember to send her a copy of the translation!

Another email from a translator who was working on an Arabic text for me, published originally by Paul Sbath.  I hadn’t heard from him since February, thanks to some local difficulties.  But he’s still on the case and we’re likely to get this in a month.


Back to the Religionsgesprach

The project to translate all the fragments of Philip of Side is still progressing.  A bunch of these are in a 6th century fictional text depicting a religious debate at the court of the Sassanids.  More or less by accident, I seem to have commissioned a translation of this text, although it is turning out to be very interesting indeed.

Another chunk arrived today, and I thought I would share with you the opening words, which struck me as truly splendid and brightened my morning considerably:

34.  The following day, Oricatus the foremost of the enchanters came to him and said:  “Master of everything under the sun, grant me glory, so that I may preside in this assembly, since I have three mighty acts to perform!” 

Not many job interviews begin like that!


I’m going to have a Religionsgesprach

One of the drawbacks of doing too much is that you tend to deal with emails a  bit too hastily.  One of those too hasty “yes that is fine” has come back to bite me.

Regular readers will remember that I commissioned a translation of all the fragments of Philip of Side.  Five of these are taken from a curious text, the Religionsgesprach am Hof der Sassaniden.  This is a fictional 6th century text, purporting to record a dialogue at the Sassanid Persian court between Christians and Jews.  It was edited by  Bratke, and reedited by Pauline Bringel in an amazingly erudite but unpublished(!) PhD thesis.  (All this I have discussed in previous posts tagged “Philip of Side”.)

Unfortunately I had a miscommunication with the translator, who had done some of the RGS for context, and he understood me to be commissioning a translation of the whole text.  It’s 45 pages of Bratke, 1007 lines of about 8.5 words per line, i.e. around 8,500 words.  Not small!  But he’s already done over half of it, and in fact the only question is whether the remaining portion is commissioned or not.  Since that will come out at around $200 — morally I must pay for the rest — I may as well bite the bullet.

Not that I really mind that much.  I suspect it might have been a long time before anyone ever translated the text otherwise!  So  it’s all for the good in the end.  I was hankering to translate it anyway, since I hate do excerpts of things.  But … I must learn to read more carefully.  “Always practice safe grammar” — one of  the rules of Count Yor.

When it is done, like the Philip of Side, I’ll put it in the public domain and make it available online.


Miscellaneous projects update

I’ve been really unwell this week, so all my projects are on hold.  Fortunately, for most of them, the ball is in someone else’s court.

One project has been abandoned.  The translation of the remains of Polychronius’ commentary on Daniel will not go ahead.  The translator has decided to write an academic article around what he found.  I am entirely in favour of academic publication, and I never had a strong attachment to this one anyway.

The translation of letters of Isidore of Pelusium is proceeding.  I still need to pass the translation of the first 14 letters in front of  a reviewer’s eyes, but this will happen when I feel somewhat better.

There’s a bit of confusion about how to handle one set of fragments of Philip of Side, coming from the Religionsgesprach text, a fictional dialogue set at the court of the Sassanids.  It turns out that more than half of it has been translated.  This raises the question of whether we may as well translate the lot anyway, and then make that available (plus excerpts to complete the Philip text).  I need to do some calculations to work out what that should cost, but I’m not fit to do so just yet.

The British Library Catalogue-in-Progress book block for the Eusebius book arrived today.  Also a note from the Coptic translator that corrections from that source will be delayed. 

Next week I am due to go to the Patristics Conference in Durham.  I’d like to meet potential customers for the book, and also potential translators for future projects.  But of course I need to be fit, which at the moment I’m not.  And after that, I do need to go and find a job that earns money.  Not for the first time, I could wish that I had been born wealthy. 


From my diary

Very busy this week with work-related stuff; too much so, to do anything useful! 

The fragments of Philip of Side are coming along nicely. The translator is doing his usual excellent job and ferreting out a lot of useful related information buried in articles in languages none of us know.  The publication — which will be free and online — will be an excellent one.

One interesting issue arose concerning the text to translate of the fragments contained in the Religionsgesprach text — a 6th century fictional dialogue at the court of the Sassanids.  This was printed by Bratke, but a critical edition does exist, in a thesis form, by Pauline Bringel.  The two texts are rather different, even aside from the fact that Bringel identified two recensions of the text.  We’re going to use Bratke, tho, and footnote differences.  Bratke is accessible.  Bringel will not be publishing her thesis any time soon, I learn, although the Sources Chretiennes would publish it, because of pressure of teaching duties.  There would be little point in doing a translation from a text that none have access to.

This weekend is deadline time for contributors to the Eusebius project.  There is more that could be done to the Coptic materials — but there has to be a limit some time!  The translator is sending me hard-copy of proof-changes, which I hope will arrive tomorrow.  I’m afraid it looks as if I may have to learn the Coptic alphabet to do some work on it, which is a nuisance, but there we are.  However I shall do the minimum possible!  With luck I can put the Coptic fragments to bed this weekend.  I still need to resolve issues with fonts, tho.  I’m still awaiting the transcription of the Syriac fragments, but I am told this will be ready on time, but not before.  The Latin fragments I revised last night and are now — thankfully — done.  An index of fragments and publications that I commissioned is in Excel, and needs more work and to be turned into a Word document.

The translator of the Origen Homilies on Ezechiel has found some more materials that probably derive from Origen’s Scholia on Ezechiel; these will be added in.  I have admonished him to remember to take a summer holiday!

On a quite different subject, I had to rebuild the installer of QuickLatin, the tool that I sell ($29) to help people with Latin.  My local anti-virus wailed about “unsigned code”, and I have been trying to work out how to sign a .exe file.  Apparently no-one wants to make it too easy, although why anyone would want to make a security measure hard to implement I can’t imagine.  I tried to f ind out this afternoon and failed.  Oh well.  It can go unsigned a while longer. 

I’m still thinking about going to the UK patristics conference at Durham in September.  I may yet go.  But I’ll wait until July at least, because I don’t quite know what will happen to me in my current freelance job.  I may need to find a new contract in a month, although I suspect that I shall end up with time off this summer!  And I shall take some time off too. 

I’ve also had a lot of correspondance this week, much of it very interesting.  One chap who is interested in Coptic turns out to have a PDF of the British Library manuscript containing De Lagarde’s catena.  This is the catena which I am publishing the Coptic from.  He declined to give me a copy of it, because of fears about copyright — not entirely unreasonable, considering that today there was an announcement about more enforcement measures by the regulator, OFCOM.  But he did let me see a  page with the first Eusebius entry on it.  The Coptic text was extremely clear, and interestingly there was a difference from De Lagarde’s printed version.  De Lagarde runs the text together, and the names of the authors of each bit appear inline.  But in the ms. the “Eusebius” was actually on a separate line!  I’d show you, but apparently the British Library don’t want you to see it unless we pay them money. 

It did leave me wondering what the point of running a public collection of manuscripts is, when circulation of images is prohibited!  But I think I’ve asked that question before.


The Bringel thesis of the Religionsgesprach

Fragments of Philip of Side are in the 6th century fictional dialogue set at the court of the Sassanids and known as the Religionsgesprach after Bratke’s publication.  But since I learned that Pauline Bringel had made a critical edition in an unpublished French thesis a few years ago, I have been attempting to obtain a copy.

I did find a website which sort of looked as if it supplied theses.  But the site — the Atelier National de Reproduction des Thèses has got back to me, telling me that they can suppy a copy for 20 euros or so… in micro-fiche format!  Yes, really!!  What an extraordinary thing to do, in the age of the PDF.  And… shouldn’t they make these available for free?  The public has already funded them, in taxes, after all.

Of course this means that there is a fall-back position.  I could get the fiche, get it converted to PDF (at further cost) and then email it to my translator.

But a French scholar has slipped me Dr Bringel’s email address.  I have written to her and asked if she has a PDF, or will sell me a photocopy.  Let’s hope I can get a copy that way.

UPDATE: Pauline Bringel has very kindly given me a copy of her thesis.  515 pages!  Wow! 


A list of the fragments of Philip of Side’s “Christian History”

The rambling 24 book history written by Philip of Side is lost. The fragments that remain are of considerable interest, however. I intend to get them all put into English and make them available online.

There is an excellent article by Katharina Heyden, which lists all the fragments and discusses them: Die Christliche Geschichte des Philippos von Side: Mit einem kommentierten Katalog der Fragmente, in M. Wallraff (ed.), Julius Africanus und die christliche Weltchronistik (Berlin, 2006), pp. 209-243. Unfortunately German isn’t my best language, and I have to use a machine translator to make much of it. I don’t think I am alone in this. Since I need a digest for my own purposes, I thought I would share it.

[UPDATE (19/5/10): I’ve started to link to these where possible, and added some out of copyright articles online.]

A. Authentic fragments

Fr. 1. On Adam and Eve.

The text is found in Codex Bodleianus graecus 120, fol. 300r (14th century) and Codex Parisinus graecus Suppl 685, fol. 10r (16th century), and has been edited by D. Serruys, Autour d’un fragment de Philippe de Side, Melanges d’archeologique et d’histoire 26, (1906), 335-359. The text of Codex Parisinus Graecus Suppl 685 is in A. Wirth, Aus orientalischen Chroniken, Frankfurt (1894), p.208 f. (p.208 in the PDF).

The two manuscripts listed are both collections of miscellaneous snippets. There is a small note on a chunk of Old Testament numerical speculation from the Christian History. One attributes it to book (τόμος) 20, the other to book 22, but otherwise the text is the same. Philip seems to use now unknown apocrypha, as the calculated numbers differ from texts such as Jubilees.

Fr. 2. List of the presidents of the school of catechists at Alexandria.

Text: Codex Baroccianus 142, fol. 216r Z. 40 – 216v Z. 15; first edited by H. Dodwell, Dissertationes in Irenaeum. Accedit fragmentum Philippi Sidetae hactenus ineditum de catechistarum Alexandrinorum successione cum notis, Oxoniae 1689,488; again by: P. Nautin, La continuation de l'”Histoire Ecclesiastique” d’Eusebe par Gelase de Cesaree, Revue des Etudes Byzantines 50, 1992, 175 f. (gr. text); 177 f. (french trln.) sowie: G. C. Hansen, Theodoros Anagnostes Kirchengeschichte, GCS N.F. 3, Berlin 2 1995,160. [I have PDF’s of all these]

Literature: P. Nautin, ibid., 163-183; B. Pouderon, Le temoignage du Codex Baroccianus 142 sur Athenagore et les origines du Didaskaleion d’Alexandrie, in: G. Argoud (ed.), Science et vie intellectuelle a Alexandrie (I-III er siecle apres J.-C), Archipelegeen,Saint Etienne 1994,163-224.

A story of miracles at the temple of Hera at Babylon and the report of the Magi on their journey to Bethlehem.

This is a famous chunk, found in the Bodleian manuscript Codex Baroccianus 142, which was probably compiled by Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopoulos as part of preparations for his church history between 1303-1320. The codex contains on fol. 212r-224r und 236v-240v a short epitome of an ecclesiastical history. A marginal note ώς φησ’ι φίλιππος ό σϊδ έν λόγω κ 5 in the first hand clearly labels the source. A photo in Heyden shows this note, I gather. However the text also refers to Philip of Side himself, so is clearly not a direct quotation from his work. (Indeed the complete text was probably not extant at that late date).

Fr. 3. Fragments in the De gestis in Perside.

CPG 6968. Critical edition and study: E. Bratke, Das sogenannte Religionsgespräch am Hof der Sasaniden, TU 19/4, Leipzig 1899 (starting on p.448 of the PDF). No subsequent study has surpassed this, although Pauline Bringel has had a new critical edition forthcoming from the Sources Chretiennes for some years, based on her dissertation [I have a PDF of the dissertation].

Heyden notes: ‘The connection between this 5-6th century romance and the history of Philip has become so accepted that G. C. Hansen can simply record in the introduction to his edition of the Anonymous church history: “Pages and pages of excerpts from the giant work of Philip are found in the novelistic ‘Εξήγησις των πραχθέντων έν Περσίδι(…)”. However, we still await an answer to the question of what specific pieces from Pers. are to be classified as from the Christian History of Philip, even now.’ She lists the following, not all equally certainly by Philip, from Bratke’s edition.

Fr. 3.1. Narrative by Cassander (Pers. 5,11-9,5 Bratke). This is three pseudo-historical oracles about Alexander the Great and Christ.

Fr. 3.2. Narrative by Aphroditian (Pers. 11,2-19,9; 45,4-9 Bratke). A story of miracles at the temple of Hera at Babylon and the report of the Magi on their journey to Bethlehem.

From here on we are on more dodgy ground.

B. Less certainly authentic fragments

Fr. 3.3. Prophecies by Greek Sages (Pers. 31,27-33,7 Bratke). This is a discussion with the Jews about whether Jesus was the messiah; pagan pseudo-prophecies are adduced after Aphroditian asks, “Why should we cite the prophecies of the Jews and not those of our own?”.

Fr. 3.4. Material about god-fearing heathens (Pers. 19,25-21,10 Bratke) such as Cyrus.

Fr. 3.5. Legend of the shepherdess Koatos (Pers. 42,2-43,3 Bratke). This is a legend of a pagan virgin who preferred purity to an admirer.

Fragment 4. Additions to Eusebius in the Byzantine Church-Historical Epitome.

Manuscripts: Codex Baroccianus 142, fol. 212r-216r (extracts), Codex Oxoniensis Misc. 61 (Auct. E.4.18), fol. 136r-143r (unedited, extracts); Frg. 4.3-6 also in Codex Vatopedi 286, fol. 91r-218r (extracts).

Edition with commentary: C. de Boor, Neue Fragmente des Papias, Hegesippus und Pierius in bisher unbekannten Excerpten aus der Kirchengeschichte des Philippus Sidetes, TU V/2, Leipzig 1888,169-171 (p.322-341 of the PDF; the following 7 chunks of Greek are on pp.326-7 of the PDF).

Fr. 4.1. Information on the birthplace of Julius Africanus (Addition to Eusebius HE I 7:1) — Emmaus / Nicopolis, it says.

Fr. 4.2. Etymology of names; a quote from an unnamed writing by Pierus (Continuation to Eusebius HE II, 1:13)

Fr. 4.3. A quote from Hegesippus: the names of the sons of Judas, the brother of the Lord: Zoker and James (Addition to Eusebius, h.e. III, 17-20)

Fr. 4.4. A list of apocryphal Gospels (Eusebius addition to, HE III, 25). The following are labelled ευαγγέλια ψευδή; that of the Egyptians (κατ’ Αιγυπτίους), the Gospel of the Twelve (κατά τους δώδεκα) and the Gospel of Basilides (κατά Βασιλείδην). The same list is found in Origen, Homilia in Lucam I, which probably served here as the source.

Fr. 4.5. A quote from Pierios about Paul’s matrimonial abstinence (an addition to Eusebius, HE III 30). It states that Pierios said in his first Easter sermon (έν τω πρώτφ λόγω τών εις τό πάσχα) that the Apostle Paul was married, but lived celibate for God’s sake and renounced his wife for the service of the church (I hope I got that right!).

Fr. 4.6. A quote from the second book of the Λογίων κυριακών έξήγησις of Papias: the martyrdom of John and James (an addition to Eusebius, HE III, 39). Heyden adds that this fragment is particularly interesting because Papias says that the Evangelist John and his brother James had been killed by the Jews. The same words are quoted also in a homily of John Chrysostom on 1 Corinthians 2, with the promise of resurrection for all the martyrs – which alone would be a terminus post quem given for this source, but also further demonstrates the close relationship between Philip and John Chrysostom.

Fr. 4.7. The life and works of Pierios (Addition to Eusebius, HE. VII, 32). This is an important text for the history of the church of Alexandria.

Fr. 5. Fragments in the Anonymen Kirchengeschichte (AKG = ps.Gelasius of Cyzicos)

Text: CPG 6034. Edition: G.C. Hansen, Anonyme Kirchengeschichte, GCS N.E 9, Berlin 2002.

Literature: G. C. Hansen, intro to GCS N.F. 9; also Hansen in, Eine fingierte Ansprache Konstantins auf dem Konzil von Nikaia, ZAC 2,1998,173-198.

This work quotes from the original text of Philip, imitating Eusebius, attacking Eusebius of Nicomedia, and displaying the style that Socrates Scholasticus attributes to him. Hansen has catalogued a bunch of fragments, which I will simply list:

Fr. 5.1 Fabulous story of Constantine’s campaign on the right bank of the Rhine (AKG 14.2-5 [7.7 to 28 Hansen])

Fr. 5.2 Speculative reflection on the trophies of Constantine (AKG I from 5.2 to 7 [8.15 -9.20 Hansen])

Fr. 5.3. Report on the campaign of Constantine and Crispus against Licinius (AKG 111.19 to 21, 12.1 [18.18 to 19.2, from 21.1 to 9 Hansen])

Fr. 5.4. Report on a one-year vacancy in the episcopal office in Alexandria and the bishops Achillas and Alexander (AKG II 1.13 f. [Hansen 23.28 to 24.3])

Fr. 5.5. Fictional speech of Constantine on the Council of Nicaea (AKG II 7 [34.20 -42.9 Hansen])

Fr. 5.6. Polemic against the Arians (AKG II from 12.8 to 10 [47.5 to 19 Hansen])

Fr. 5.7. Report on the conversion of an Arian philosopher by a confessor (AKG II 13 [47.20 to 50.5 Hansen], excerpts)

C. Fragments whose authenticity has been denied

6. Fragments of Ecclesiastical History in the church history epitome

Editions: Carl de Boor also edited seven fragments from the church history epitome (v. a. Codex Baroccianus 142, fol. 216r Z. 11-39; s. Abb. 2a), which he attributed to Philip (and referenced the Dodwell fragment as the 8th(: C. de Boor, Neue Fragmente des Papias, Hegesippus und Pierius in bisher unbekannten Excerpten aus der Kirchengeschichte des Philippus Sidetes, TU V/2, Leipzig 1888, 167-184 (PDF p.322-341). Edition of the fragments on pp. 182-184 (339-341 of the PDF). There is a newer edition from the same codex of some of it by G. C. Hansen, Theodoros Anagnostes Kirchengeschichte, GCS N.F. 3,2 (1995) 158-160., who assigns them to Gelasius of Caesarea. After comparing the mss of the epitome Pierre Nautin edited a total of 8 fragments (including the list of the catechical school) from a “ouvrage sans titre”: P. Nautin, La continuation de l'”Histoire Ecclesiastique” d’Eusebe par Gelase de Cesaree, REByz 50, 1992, 174-176 (gr. text); 176-178 (fr. trnl.).  [I have a PDF of Nautin, and the relevant part of Hansen]

7. Alchemical fragments.

Codex Vindobonensis medicus graecus 2 (1564), fol. 106-107; Edition: M. Berthelot/Ch. Em. Ruelle, Collection des anciens alchimistes grecs vol. 2, Paris (1887-1888) p.346 f. (p.346 of the PDF is the Greek; there must be a French translation in there somewhere too)  There are two fragments in the Vienna medical manuscript attributed to a “Philip”. Lambeck ascribed them to Philip of Side; but it seems unlikely that this is correct.

So… quite a lot there.  I shall be taking a trip to Cambridge tomorrow, and hope to acquire most of these.


Progress on Philip of Side

The fragments of Philip of Side’s monster Ecclesiastical History — or more likely, World Chronicle — are being looked at.  Most interesting are the bits embedded in the fictional text the Religionsgesprach am Hof der Sassaniden, published by E. Bratke, Das sogennante Religionsgesprach am Hof der Sassaniden (TU 19, 3) Leipzig 1899, 153-164.  (Bratke starts on p.448 of the PDF; something about Philip appears on p. 476 of the PDF).  These discuss the work, and depict it being brought out in evidence and quoted verbatim!  The start of a translation of these bits is most interesting.

Apparently a French dissertation has a critical text and a translation.  Does anyone know how one might obtain/buy a copy of French dissertations?

Apparently a catalogue of the fragments of Philip of Side appears here: Katharina Heyden, “Die Christliche Geschichte des Philippos von Side: Mit einem kommentierten Katalog der Fragmente,” in M. Wallraff (ed.), Julius Africanus und die christliche Weltchronistik (Berlin, 2006), pp. 209-243.  Does anyone have a copy they could slip me in PDF form?  If so, contact me using the form on the right.

Another article that would be of use, if anyone has it, is Katharina Heyden, Die “Erzählug des Aphroditian,” Studien und Texte zu Antike und Christentum 53 (Tübingen, 2009).  This relates to the Religionsgesprach, I think.