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 et aliorum Hierosolymytanorum, ch.15, written 1100-1101, St George is accompanied by St Demetrius and St Mercurius:
The squadrons began to go forth from both sides and to surround our men on all sides, hurling, shooting, and wounding them. There came out from the mountains, also, countless armies with white horses, whose standards were all white. And so, when our leaders saw this army, they were entirely ignorant as to what it was, and who they were, until they recognized the aid of Christ, whose leaders were St. George, Mercurius, and Demetrius. This is to be believed, for many of our men saw it. However, when the Turks who were stationed on the side toward the sea saw that that they could hold out no longer, they set fire to the grass, so that, upon seeing it, those who were in the tents might flee.
There was celebrated Pentecost on the third day of outgoing May. Then we came to Ramlah, which through fear of the Franks the Saracens had left empty. Near it was the famous church in which rested the most precious body of St. George, since for the name of Christ he there happily received martyrdom from the treacherous pagans. There our leaders held a council to choose a bishop who should have charge of this place and erect a church.
The shrine of St George was that at Lydda.
In the Chanson d’Antioche, to which I have no access, I gather that St George is also accompanied by St Maurice.
We read in the History of Antioch that during the Crusades, when the Christian hosts were about to lay siege to Jerusalem, a passing fair young man appeared to a priest. He told him that he was St George, the captain of the Christian armies; and that if the crusaders carried his relics to Jerusalem, he would be with them. And when the Crusaders, during the siege of Jerusalem, feared to scale the walls because of the Saracens who were mounted thereon. Saint George appeared to them, accoutred in white armour adorned with the red cross. He signed to them to follow him without fear in the assault of the walls: and they, encouraged by his leadership, repulsed the Saracens and took the city.
In the history of Richard of Devizes, we find many references to “St George” – i.e. Lydda – as a town, a mile from Ramleh, and Richard the Lionheart and his men basing themselves there.
It would be nice to see a proper collection of sources. (I’m currently busy with a new job, so I can’t do anything at the moment!)
See Susan B. Edgington, “Romance and Reality in the sources for the sieges of Antioch, 1097-8”, in: Porphyrogenita: Essays on the History and Literature of Byzantium and the Latin East in Honour of Julian Chrysostomides, Ashgate (2003), p.37-8, 44.↩
Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend, transl. and adapted from the Latin by Granger Ryan and Helmut Ripperger (New York. 1969). pp. 237-8)↩
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 is a byzantine war machine like a catapult, but also a windlass or a winch. I looked into the biographies of Saint George, and one of the tortures he was made to suffer by the relentless persecuter Diocletian was a wheel, to which he was strapped, and as it was turned (by a windlass?) his body was slashed by various sharp objects.
This is an icon of that torture:
Another tidbit, regarding the term “magganon”: a modern, composite Greek word for the instrument used for drawing water out of a well (πηγάδι) = μάγγανο-πήγαδο.
The icon is very helpful. It shows George, tied to the wheel with rope, and the swords positioned underneath to injure him.
Now this does indeed look like the right approach. There are mentions in the Life of daggers, right next to the references to “maggana”. It works!
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 machine”. Unhappily Arndt’s text of the Life is essentially a transcript of a medieval manuscript, so the spellings cannot be relied on; while a similar Passio was printed by Huber, but Huber didn’t know what the word meant either!
This evening I had a go with Google. A site called Dicolatin knew of the word, but suggested that it simply meant “wooden barrel”. Another site seemingly based on LSJ suggested that it meant “a wine-vessel made of wood, Schol. Cruq. ad Hor. C. 1, 9, 8.”
What on earth was that reference, tho? Luckily the same page expanded this a bit, “Schol. Cruq. u. Acro Hor. carm. 1, 9, 8.”, and a bit of googling revealed the meaning. This gnomic phrase indicates the scholia from Cruquius on the “carmina” of Horace, book 1, poem 9, line 8.
But who is Cruquius? And where can I find his scholia?
Cruquius turns out to be an old editor of Horace, who printed an edition in 1578 in Antwerp, reprint 1579. Cruquius had had access to four manuscripts from a Dutch monastery, all destroyed a decade earlier during the wars of religion. These contained interesting comments on the text, explaining individual words. These scholia were ancient, and contained in no other manuscript. For lack of a better term, the unknown ancient author of the scholia is known as the “Commentator Cruquianus”. This, then, is what I needed to access.
But where on earth could these scholia be found?
It turns out that there are several sets of ancient scholia on Horace. There are scholia from the 3rd century AD by Porphyrio; other scholia by pseudo-Acronis. Any search for “Commentum in Horatium” brings up endless editions of both in Archive.org. There is also a four volume Scholia in Horatium, by H. J. Botschuyver, Amsterdam 1935-42. But this was inaccessible to me.
But I was unable to establish if anyone had ever reprinted the scholia from Cruquius. Nor could I locate his edition in Google Books.
Eventually I had a lucky break: I found a reprint of Cruquius, from 1579. It’s online here at Google Books.
On page 28 is the text of the Commentator Cruquianus on Carmen I.9, line 8. It reads:
diota. vas еst vinarium duas ansas habens, quasi duas auriculas, unde nomen habet: aliud еst quod Magganum dicitur, vas vinarium ex ligno confectum.
This is an explanation of the word “diota” in the line of Horace: “a vessel is a wine-container having two handles, like two ears, from which it gets its name: otherwise it is what is called “magganum”, a wine-container vessel made out of wood.”
Which is what I was looking for. Is it the right meaning for St George? Well, I shall now have to go back and look at the context. But it was interesting to find these ancient scholia!
UPDATE: The meaning in the Life of St George is in fact “windlass” – see my next post!
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 can now enhance it as I like; which was the purpose behind doing all this in the first place. It might be an idea to merge into it some translation tools that I have created over the years. The main user of this will undoubtedly be me, so I may as well make myself comfortable.
The other piece of work is the ongoing translation of the very ancient Life of St George. This is in 21 chapters. The translator has done a draft of chapters 1-12, which I have revised and made ready for release. I have in turn prepared a draft of chapters 18-21, which I have sent to the translator for comment. I am now working on chapter 17, and using bits from it to test out QuickLatin. The completed translation will of course be released online as public domain once it is done.
Easter is now behind us. I had meant to do an Easter post, but somehow I got distracted. I spent quite a bit of my downtime on Twitter fighting the “Easter is pagan” jeer that is circulated every year by the malicious and their innocent dupes. This year the fight really got some traction behind it, and a number of people were patrolling and posting corrective links. Alas it is probably an unwinnable battle, at least while the false story is agreeable to a certain sort of influential person; but it is something to have tried.
I have enquired about access to the Ipswich Museum files in Suffolk Record Office, in order to locate the survey of the Roman fort by the 1969 sub-aqua expedition. The archivist has now looked at these, and found nothing. It looks very much as if the report has been mislaid in the last 20 years. However I can’t even go and look at the files; I’m told that permission to view the items must be obtained from Ipswich Museum, and their response time is six weeks (!) I have written of course. But it is a forlorn hope.
We must always be grateful for the internet and the ready availability of research materials on the web. I certainly am!
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 time. So it will be a while yet. Another chapter (12) of the vita has come in, in very rough draft, so I will have to look at that some time.
I received an email yesterday from Suffolk Record Office, suggesting strongly that the report on the sub-aqua survey of Felixstowe / Walton Roman fort has been lost. It looks as if the archivist only looked at a catalogue, however, so there is still hope that it may just be mislaid and might be found on examination. This will have to wait until I am mobile again, however.
A rather large number of items have arrived in the last week or so which I have placed in my “things to blog about” folder. One day perhaps I will get to them!
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 in my inbox now. The version is a very rough draft. The only difficulty is that the translator doesn’t read my emails with feedback, so makes the same mistakes every time. This means that I shall have to correct and finish it myself. I hope to do the job on these chunks this week. The translation is going forward nicely, tho; some 8 chapters still to do.
Today also brought a welcome email from the Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service with unwelcome news. In 1969 a team of divers surveyed the ruins of a Roman fort in the sea off Felixstowe, known locally as Walton Castle. A report was filed with the museum, and was accessible a decade ago. The email today tells me that they cannot locate it now. I have written therefore to the sub-aqua club, who may have it in their files. Another email went to the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology, who published the article mentioning the survey, to see if I can get in contact with the author in case he has a copy. We tend to think of museums and archives as safe repositories. But the truth is that history is vanishing before our eyes. So it has always been.
Last week I was working industriously on the new QuickLatin. This is going well, and crude errors are disappearing. I must get a version released online, as a base version for further work.
My backlog of interesting topics to blog about continues to increase. So much to do!
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 anything useful. It was indeed very waffly and poorly structured, as is often the case at that period. There was a lot of criticism of Papebroch, the Bollandist editor, for not printing much of the Latin versions.
But I learned from it that Arndt’s edition of the “Passicrates” Life that I am currently working on is indeed every bit as bad as I had thought. Huber suggests that the text itself probably suffered, both from a bad translator, when it was created from Greek; and then from errors in transmission by copying. He queries whether it has been significantly interpolated. He also makes clear that Arndt isn’t a critical edition. He gives as his third Passio another recension of the “Passicrates” life, which isn’t as old but is much easier to read. My thanks to the kind correspondent who drew my attention to this. But on the whole Huber achieves little in the pages he devotes to the question.
I came away from the exercise feeling even more strongly that a scholar needs to dedicate himself to sorting out the hagiography of St George, and write a definitive monograph. It really can’t be that hard to list the versions, compare the texts within them, and do a proper analysis for both Latin and Greek.
My next task was to look at the possible meanings of “separo”, which usually means “separate”. This appears at various points in Arndt’s text, in contexts where this meaning does not make sense. Possibly “sever” will cover most of the choices.
However it is becoming clear that I ought to prepare a Word document containing the Latin, if only to use for searching through. This will probably be my next task. I have OCR’d and corrected chapters 12-21 already, but the rest should be done too.
Something that distracted me this evening was the tools that I am working with. I’m using my old QuickLatin product for quick morphologies, which it does perfectly well. But I find that I am using other PDFs and online dictionaries. Surely these could be integrated somehow?
The problem is that it was written in Visual Basic 6, which is now some twenty years old, and only runs on Windows 10 by a special miracle. Another tool that I use, to interleave Latin and English text, was written in VB.Net 2008, which replaced it. This too is now more than ten years old. Microsoft have been terrible at keeping their development tools working, and compatible, and I have complained before about their current offering, Visual Studio Community Edition, as nearly unusable by anyone but a professional.
My eye was caught by the old Delphi product, which I downloaded and played with a bit. I always liked Pascal, the language it used. It would be a bonus to be able to generate Android and iPhone apps. Why can’t you do that from Visual Studio? But of course my code is all in VB. I have to work on this stuff in odd moments, unlike the way a professional works. There is no way that I will ever port all this to Delphi; which is, in any case, nearly a dead tool itself.
Eventually I decided to leave that task for another time. I was slightly nervous today that I might get a call about a job, and need to put everything to one side. Whatever I do, it has to survive the call to go and earn a living, and to drop everything else in the mean time. That is quite a demand of any project.
I’d better settle down and work up a text for chapters 1-11.
Update: I have just discovered, to my utter astonishment, that Arndt prints his corrections to the text, sometimes in the text with the manuscript reading in the footnote; and sometimes in the footnote, leaving the (unintelligible) manuscript reading in the text! Generally “corr. minimos” means that minimos is what he thinks it should be. “se. cod.” means that he has corrected it, but the ms. read “se”.
Less clear is “seccabo prius, corr. rad.” where he has printed “secabo” in the text. The latter is the normal spelling. But what is “prius”? Not the manuscript? and what is “rad.” short for? Some of his “corrections” in the footnotes don’t even make sense.
Incredible rubbish. Both he and his editor should have been shot.
Update: An even worse example. Footnote reads: “corr. inest” on “inextimabiles”. By this he means we should read “inestimabiles”. Good grief. Fortunately after the first few pages he settles down. But clearly his editor never read any of this.
Update: A commenter has pointed out that the mistake is mine! that “corr.” indicates a feature of the manuscript, changes introduced by a “corrector”. “rad” is for “radendo”, “scraped away”. Thank you!
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 a 19th century edition by Arndt, and this I sent him.
Chunks of this have proceeded to arrive over the last few months. I commented in detail on the first couple, and then pressure of work meant that I just filed the next few.
However last week I started to collect them, and go through them, and try to create a final version. This evening I finished with what I had. This consists of chapters 1-8 and chapter 10 (out of 21).
I feel really rather guilty now. It’s a nightmare to translate and revise. The reason, simply, is that the editor, Arndt, slacked on the job. All he seems to have done is to fix one or two obvious errors, and leave the rest as he found it, weird late spellings and all. That makes it very hard indeed to read.
I can cope with “capud” for “caput”, “head”. But more obscure words have frequently left me baffled and guessing. It’s obvious that “maggana” is “magana”, “daggers”, once you know. Other words like “amos ferreos” – “iron whatsits” – are beyond me.
These spelling choices make it very difficult to find words in dictionaries! The tortures that St George undergoes name quite a lot of bits of the body, as the wicked emperor gloats on what he will do to the saint unless he recants. I do have a specialist glossary for body parts. But even so what is the noun in “nerbona incidam”? Or what does bella in “humera et bella secabo” mean?
In these few cases, indeed, I have been quite unable to work out what the word means. Maybe this is down to the eccentric spelling.
What on earth did Arndt think he was doing here? If he was providing a transcription, he had no business correcting the text, as his apparatus makes clear that he did. If he was providing a text, then using normal spellings was essential.
We will plod on, of course. But Arndt’s laziness makes the task much harder than it should have been.
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 late 5th century. He was removed from the Roman calendar of saints in 1969.
In the late 5th century, archaeology gives us churches, dedicated to Saint George. Literary sources of the same time likewise mention the veneration of St George. In 530 we have a mention of his shrine at Lydda ( = Lod, = Diospolis) in Palestine by the pilgrim Theodosius.
Also in the early 6th century we have a Saint’s Life from which all subsequent Lives of the saint derive. This Life is so silly and so full of absurdities, that it is clearly a piece of fiction, based on nothing but imagination. It is so bad that we also have an official Catholic condemnation of it, again from the early 6th century, in the Decretum Gelasianum.
The narrative in brief is of a Roman soldier, born in Cappadocia, who becomes a Christian, is put on trial by the emperor Datianus (sic) in Egypt, executed three times(!), and buried at Lydda in Palestine.
During the Dark Ages folk-stories arise of miracles wrought by the saint after his death, in response to prayer. These continue to come into being until modern times. The notion of St George the “invincible warrior” appears.
During the crusader period, a version of St George, the Red Cross Knight, is adopted as patron saint of England. Around the same time, some ingenious person composes the legend of St George and the Dragon, based on the ancient legend of Perseus and Andromeda. This body of material appears in the Golden Legend of the west in the late medieval period.
In short, we are dealing with fictional material about a figure for whom we have no evidence whatever, and no factual material whatever. Hagiography as a genre runs across a spectrum, all the way from historical accounts, down through fictionalised or “improved” versions of the facts, until we end up with wholly imaginary saints and wholly fictional Lives. St George is at the far end of that spectrum.
Early Archaeology and Literature for the veneration of St George
These appear in the 6th century, although some inscriptions might be tentatively dated to the end of the 5th century.
It is frequently said that there is a 4th century inscription at Shaqqa in Syria dedicating a church to St George. The inscription exists, but the dating era is that of the Era of Maximian, and the correct date is 549 AD. I have written about this here.
The earliest dated inscription to mention St George in fact seems to be at Izra / Ezra / Zorava, also in Syria, again dedicating a church to the saint. The date is 515 AD. I’ve written about this item here.
Literary mentions also exist. An early example is the Itinerarium of the anonymous Piacenza pilgrim (ca. 570), the tomb of St George at Diospolis / Lydda in Palestine is mentioned in chapter 25; a hospice of St George, soldier and martyr in 35
Miracle Stories of St George
Greek text: J.B.Aufhauser, Miracula S. Georgii, Teubner, 1913. Available online here.
French translation: A.J. Festugière, Sainte Thècle, saints Côme et Damien, saints Cyr et Jean (extraits), saint Georges. Traduits et annotés, Paris: Picard, 1971. All the material from Aufhauser is translated.
English translation: Miracle 6: Daniel J. Sahas, “What an Infidel Saw that a Faithful Did Not: Gregory Dekapolites (d. 842) and Islam”, in: Greek Orthodox Theological Review 31 (1986), 47-67. Based on the text at PG 100, cols. 1201-12. Online here. – Other online St George material by David Woods is here – a nice bibliography here, inscriptions here.
Study: J.B. Aufhauser, Das Drachenwunder des heiligen George in der griechischen und lateinischen Überlieferung, 1911. Online here. – Piotr Grotowski, “The Legend of St. George Saving A Youth from Captivity and Its Depiction in Art”, Byzantine Studies, 2001. Online here.
These are the miracles of St George. (Notes by me here, and summary of each miracle here):
1. De columna viduae – The column of the widow
2. De imagine perfossa – The stabbed image
3. De iuvene Paphlagonensi – The Paphlagonian young man
4. De filio ducis Leonis – The son of Duke Leo
5. De bubus Theopisti – The runaway oxen of Theopistus
6. De visione Saraceni – The Saracen’s vision
7. De imagine – The image
8. De milite interfecto – The murdered soldier
9. De iuvene Mytilenaeo capto – The captured young man of Mytilene
10. De libo – The pancake
11. De Manuele – Manuel
12. De dracone – The dragon
13. De daemone – The demon
14. De zona S. Georgii – The belt of St George
15. Apocalypsis S. Georgii – The apocalpyse of St George
16. Hymnus in honorem S. Georgii – A hymn in honour of St George
17. De mansionario – The inn-keeper
18. De statua marmorea – The marble statue
19. De voto coram imagine – The vow before the image
The items are given in order of how early they appear in manuscripts. The collection itself is modern. More than one version is often printed. There is no canonical form for any of these narratives; they are folk-stories, retold as often as they were told, in different words. For this reason Aufhauser’s summaries of the contents are as good as a translation to most of us.
The Lives of St George, Soldier and Megalo-Martyr
Greek text: K. Kumbacher, Der heilige Georg in der griechischen Überlieferung, . Available online here.
Other texts: Acta Sanctorum, April vol. 3. In the Paris reprint this starts on p.101, here.
Studies: Hippolyte Delehaye, Les légendes grecques des saints militaires, Paris: Librairie Alphonse Picard, (1909) 45-76. Online here. – John E. Matzke, “Contributions to the History of the Legend of Saint George, with Special Reference to the Sources of the French, German and Anglo-Saxon Metrical Versions”, Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, (list of volumes online here), in vol. 17 (1903) and vol. 18 (1904). Essential reading. I discuss it here.
For most “saints lives”, the original story is more historical, and later versions acquire miraculous additions. But for St George it is the other way around; the original story was so ridiculous that it was condemned in 492 in the Decretum Gelasianum, and all later versions show omission. It tells the story of George of Cappadocia, arrested and tried in Egypt by the emperor Dadianus (??), executed three times, including being torn to pieces, and resurrected each time. The author of the life is a certain Passicrates.
The “apocryphal” version is not attested earlier than the late 5th century. Our knowledge of it consists of a 5-6th century palimpsest (Pal.), two more or less complete Latin translations (Gallicanus and Sangallensis), and four Greek manuscripts in various states discovered by Krumbacher. This version was the basis for all the oriental translations, including Syriac, Coptic, and many others.
The “normal text” appears later, although how much later is unclear. Dadianus becomes Diocletian, and the account is tidied up. This in turn is the basis for most subsequent Greek versions, including the Symeon Metaphrastes edition of saints’ legends in the 11th century.
Latin texts are based on a mixture of the apocryphal and normal text.
There is much more detail on all this in my post on the texts of the Martyrdom of St George here.
The martyrdom of St George, Solider and Megalo-Martyr, is commemorated on April 23. I’ve been writing about St George for a while, now, as it has been hard to get access to solid information. My initial post is here. My post discussing St George and English nationalism is here. The standard late-medieval English life – the Golden Legend – is here. How the word “legend” changed from “Something that must be read” to “something probably not true” is discussed by Sherry L. Reames, The Legenda Aurea: A Reexamination of Its Paradoxical History, 1985, p.27 f.
As mentioned earlier, a Life of St George appears in the list of apocryphal works in the Decretum Gelasianum, (online here), a 5th century list of books approved and otherwise – as a composition likely to bring discredit on the church, and probably written by heretics! No doubt the use of “Athanasius” for the name of the magician who opposes George in Egypt has something to do with this, as does the name of George of Cappadocia, the Arian bishop of Alexandria.
Finally, St George was still venerated quite late in England. I came across a 1633 English account of St George which can be found online: Henry Seyle, The Historie of that Most Famous Saint and Souldier… St. George… the Institution of the Most Noble Order of S. George, Named the Garter, 1633. Online here.
There are quite a few holes in all this, and most accounts of St George contain errors. The relationship of all the Latin stuff to the Greek texts is simply not defined. Somebody needs to go through all this and draw up a spreadsheet of texts, recensions, and references. The task requires more time and energy than anything else, and the output would certainly be publishable. Anybody interested?
C. Walter, “The origins of the cult of St George”, in: REB 53 (1995), 295-326 (online here) : “The first pilgrim’s account, that of Theodosius, dates from about 530: “In Diospolim, ubi sanctus Georgius martyrizatus est, ibi et corpus eius est et multa miracula fiunt”115. His testimony could hardly be more explicit. It is supported by that of other pilgrims, Antoninus of Piacenza (about 570) and Adamnanus (about 670). The cult of Saint George’s relics certainly continued at Lydda.” “115. Pilgrims’ visits to Lydda: P. Geyer, Itinera hierosolymitana saeculi IV-VIII, Vienna 1898, p. 139 (Theodosius); p. 176-177, 182 (Antoninus); p. 288-294 (Adamnanus).”↩
Of the holy places visited by Antoninus martyr, Palestine Pilgrims Text Society, 1885. Online at Archive.org here.↩
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 to list all the texts which contained versions of the martyrdom of St George; or at least the earliest ones. But this quickly proved futile. So here is what I was able to work out.
The relationships of the various Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Arabic and Ethiopic texts are dealt with in great detail by John E. Matzke, “Contributions to the history of the legend of St George”, Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 17,1902, 464-535. Each version of the legend is summarised; and better still, the characteristics of each strand of the tradition are listed. But Matzke’s splendid article hardly touches on the Greek texts at all.
For the Greek, our main source of texts is K. Krumbacher, Der heilige Georg in der griechischen Überlieferung, 1908, online at Archive.org here, and in high-resolution at the BSB here. These I list below, indicating page number as K1, K3, etc. Krumbacher also discussed his texts, and was well aware of many more texts, as his discussion section makes clear.
Some texts are also printed in the Acta Sanctorum, in April volume 3, under 23rd April, the Saint’s Feast Day, and Krumbacher discusses which these are in his list of “Hilfs” texts. His conclusion section is well worth reading, but he avoids going into the Latin texts.
None of the early versions have ever been translated into any modern language, apparently.
Here’s what I can usefully glean.
The Apocryphal Text (O)
The oldest version of the Life of St George is known as the apocryphal version, or O. The author is given as a certain Passicras, or Passicrates. This version has reached us as follows:
The Latin “Codex Gallicanus” (G). Passio Auct. Pseudo-Passecrate. BHL 3363. This is in the Bollandists own library in Brussels, under the shelfmark “23. bibl. 1 Bollandiana 23 Bruz 1 (1842)”, and belongs to the second half of the 9th century. Walter suggests that this is the oldest version of the story, supposedly by a certain Passecrates. – Text: W. Arndt, in: Berichte über die Verhandlungen der kön. Sächsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, philol.-hist. Classe, XXVI (1874), 49-70. Online here. Excerpts in the Acta Sanctorum, April vol. 3, p.101, n. 4, 5. I have asked a translator to have a look at this.
The Latin Codex Sangallensis (Sg), Saint-Gall 550, 9th century. This seems to be derived from the same Greek exemplar as G. – Text: Zarnacke, Berichte über die Verhandlungen der königlich sächsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, Philologisch-Historische Klasse, 17, 1875, p.265-277. Online here (but several vols bound together starting with 13 so be careful!).
The Greek Vienna Palimpsest, “Pal.” (Krum. p.1). Cod. Vindobon. lat. 954. 5th century. Discovered by Detlefsen. This is part of the Greek version from which G and Sg derive.
Four more Greek versions of the apocryphal legend are given by Krumbacher, who says that these provide the full Greek text of the apocryphal text. Prior to Krumbacher these were unknown. They relate closely to the Gallicanus text.
Athens version (K. p.3). Cod. Athen. 422, paper, 1546 AD, f. 277v-291r.
Venice version (K. p.16). Codex Marcianus gr. II 160 fol. 150r-172r.
Paris version (K. 18). Codex Paris gr. 770, parchment AD1315, fol. 59r-72r.
Vienna mixed text (K.30). Codex Vindobonensis theol. gr. 123, 13th century, fol. 37v-43v.
The Coptic versions are also based on the Apocryphal text. So are the Syriac versions; but they have been revised in the same way as the normal text (but independently), to remove discreditable material. The Arabic version is also based on the apocryphal text. There are also Ethiopic versions (a late translation from Arabic), Armenian, Old Slavonic, and Sogdian (translated from Syriac), Georgian, and Nubian versions (these close to the Athens form of the Greek) and probably more.
The Normal Text
Most of the articles tell us that this was produced by removing the most outlandish versions of the earlier apocryphal text.
The normal text is printed by K. p.41, from two mss., Cod. Vatic. 1660 (AD 916), fol. 272r-288r (=V) + Cod. Paris 499 (11th c.), fol. 289v-300r. (=P).
Krumbacher also prints an interpolated form of the normal text.
The interpolated standard text (K.51). Cod. Paris. gr. 1534 (11th c.) fol. 107v-124v.
Further Greek texts are given by Krumbacher, each a representative of a large collection of orations, encomiums, etc. None of these are of any interest here, however.
Rhetorical reworking by Theodoros Daphnopates (K. 59)
Eulogy: The homily of Arcadius of Cyprus (K. 78)
Eulogy: The encomium of Theodoros Quaestor (K. 81)
3 songs, two by Romanus the Melodist (K. 84)
The story of the illegitimate birth of St. George (K.103)
The edition of the legend by Symeon Metaphrastes (BHG 676) does exist in print, not by Krumbacher, curiously, but in the Acta Sanctorum, April III. 7-12, printed at the end of the volume. It is also reprinted in the PG 115, cols. 141-161.
How any of the Latin or other texts relate to the Normal text is unknown to me.
For further research
Krumbacher also lists a mass of Greek manuscripts containing the legend of St George. The BHG gives a bunch more Greek texts. The BHL gives a mass of Latin texts. How all these relate to the Greek, or each other, I do not know. Krumbacher chapter 3 discusses the genealogy of the Greek texts.
It may be the limits of my German, I have been unable to find any article that indicates the relationships between all this material in Greek and Latin. What is needed is a list of them all, in spreadsheet format, with incipit, shelfmark, BHL/BHG/AASS reference, date, and relationship to each strand of the tradition, using the characteristics identified by Matzke.
Does anyone care to undertake such a task?
A final thought, sent in by a correspondent:
I have only just begun looking into hagiography and it seems to me that there are very few “academic” translations. Rather, as there are usually several recensions/version of an hagiography floating around, academics provide summaries. This seems fair, because it would be a very expensive exercise to translate each recension for little added value. Those hagiographies which are still used for liturgical purposes would have long been translated into their appropriate liturgical language. This is just my own observation. Those who work in the field would be better placed to comment.
Hansen, “Berliner sogdische Texte II”; Benveniste, “Fragments des Actes de Saint Georges en version sogdienne”, JA, 1943-5, 91-116. See E. Yarshater, The Cambridge History of Iran: Seleucid Parthian, p.1226.↩
Gerald M. Browne, The Old Nubian Martyrdom of St George, CSCO 575, 1998. Preview here.↩