Tuesday, December 29, 2009

To wit, that is to say to know

The verb know serves to express many different states of knowledge in English which other languages use multiple verbs to express. For example, the French language uses two different verbs savoir and connaître to express two different states of knowledge. Savoir expresses knowledge of facts and figures, whereas connaître expresses knowledge of people.

However, this all purpose verb in English was not always as such. If we trace the verb back to Old English and Anglo-Saxon literature, we meet know in the form cnawan and also another verb witan from which is derived the words wit, nitwit, dimwit, outwit, and wise. Witan seems to assume most of the functions of know.

For example, in the Old English translation of Apollonius of Tyre, we read:

“Nate ic hwæt he is ne hwanon he is, ac gif ðu wille witan hwæt he is, axsa hine, forðam þe gedafenað þæt þu wite (1).”

“I don’t know who he is or where he’s from, but if you want to know who he is, ask him, since you have a right to know.”

In this quotation, witan signifies knowledge of a person and facts about them such as where they are from. It is an interesting example of this word. An interesting study would be to look for when cnawan began to replace witan in English and finally end up surpressing it to become the modern know, but that is a study for another day, though my inclination is to say the change took place mostly in the late 1400’s and early 1500’s when wit meaning a clever or funny saying first came into currency.

As to the origins of these two words, let us deal with them separately. Cnawan is related to French connaître, Latin gnoscere, and Greek γιγνώσκω from a Proto-Indo-European root in gno-.

Witan is more interesting. It is related to Afrikaans weet and Ancient Greek οίδα. Οίδα is the perfect form of wίδω (hence Latin video) meaning ‘I see.’ So to know in Ancient Greek is to have seen. This makes a lot of sense because that is really what knowledge and science is: having seen things and having made observations. The Proto-Indo-European root for this word is wit/d-.

1. The Old English Apollonius of Tyre. ed. Peter Goolden. Oxford University Press 1958. p. 24 sect. XV 2-5.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Xenophon: Toxic Honey

Tonight I went to see the movie Sherlock Holmes with family for Christmas. The entire movie was a quite macabre spectacle of science vs. superstition and magic. What as a particular interesting piece of the plot was a reference in the movie to toxic honey induced by the the collection of bees of pollen from the rhododendron, so called toxic honey. This is the plant that permitted Lord Blackwood to appear without a pulse and seem as though he was dead. The reference reminded me of the famous passage from Xenophon in which he describes the retreat of the 10,000 through the Pontus region of Turkey, where the rhododendron grows wild.

Xenophon writes:

Here, generally speaking, there was nothing to excite their wonderment, but the numbers of bee-hives were indeed astonishing, and so were certain properties of the honey. The effect upon the soldiers who tasted the combs was, that they all went for the nonce quite off their heads, and suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea, with a total inability to stand steady on their legs. A small dose produced a condition not unlike violent drunkenness, a large one an attack very like a fit of madness, and some dropped down, apparently at death's door. So they lay, hundreds of them, as if there had been a great defeat, a prey to the cruellest despondency. But the next day, none had died; and almost at the same hour of the day at which they had eaten they recovered their senses, and on the third or fourth day got on their legs again like convalescents after a severe course of medical treatment. (taken from Daryn's translation on Project Gutenberg here)

Apparently the agent that is responsible for the poisoning effect is grayanotoxin. As to how it works, there is an interesting article on the Federal Food and Drug Administration website here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Attaliates: Reign of Theodora to Isaac Comnenus 1055-1059

Here is my translation of this section of my ongoing translation of the work of Michael Attaliates. This section picks up at the death of Constantine Monomachus in 1055 with the sucession of the empress Theodora, who was the last of the Macedonian dynasty. Our text recounts her reign and death as well as the civil war that ensued over the succession to the throne ending with the semisuccessful reign of Isaac Comnenus.

Attaliates' record of events is considerably shorter than his contemporary Michael Psellus's record, but it makes up for some of the military and political questions that Psellus's palace chronicle deals with only sparingly.

Michael Attaliates: Historia pp. 51-70

As Constantine was lying there dying, he wanted to appoint a new emperor himself and hand over to him the reins of government, so he summoned a man called Proteuon by letter with much zeal, yet his end won out his zeal. Monomachos reigned twelve years and seven months.

Immediately the previously mentioned Augusta Theodora (her sister died before her) took the throne and didn’t want to marry any man or co-rule with anyone. She dealt with everything herself through her eunuchs of the bed-chamber. She appointed to government administration an ordained man who was very learned, prudent, and experienced (the man’s name was Leo). He acted moderately in all respects and reasonably towards what befell him making the law his will thereby bringing order and lawfulness to the state. Not only were Theodora’s vassals free from turmoil, but also the other nations around her as God was pleased with how things were being virtuously carried out and he straigened out the curved ways.

When this empress was about to depart for the kingdom of Heaven (she ruled a year and eight months) her chief ministers were filled with concern over who was to rule next. As things turned out, they did not choose a noble spirit to succeed to the office, but one who would be laid back and subservient to them, who would be simple and carefree leaving the business of government to them.

So for this reason they proclaimed an elderly man name Michael, who had been raised in the manners and matters of the city excelling in the soldierly art.., who seemed simple and plain to them as well as wearied by old age so that consequently shared power with them would share and followed their advice and did exactly what they wanted him to. Because power was in the hands of many, different men and each of these co-rulers was proudly strutting around as emperor, much grumbling and bewilderment filled the aristocrats and the people at this 'democracy.' People who belonged to their group or were at all related to the emperor met with rewards regardless of whether they had benefitted the state, harmed it, or done nothing at all. As for everybody else, they were ignored unless they became the object of baseless arrogance and pointless huffing and puffing. As a result of this, one of the patricians named Isaac (Komnenos was his surname) who was famous in the east and of noble birth, insulted at being overlooked and contemptuously abused became filled with anger and shared his misfortune with some of the soldiers. They themselves had been infuriated and pained by the abnormality of what was happening, so they urged him to revolt. Little by little they won over a considerable number of conspirators and began laboring to bring their plot to fruition. The plan was to leave the capital and a short while later to raise the flag of revolt and raise Isaac on high as emperor thumbing their nose at the current ruler and so bringing their plot out in the open. Yet before all the arch-conspirators could do this, one of them named Bryennius, a native of Adrianople acting as military commander of Cappadocia, overpowered the agent sent by the emperor to distribute his soldiers’ provisions, or more correctly betrayed him and took a hold of him and put him in chains. However, some soldiers rose up to avenge the man and so he was released from the chains though he put out the eyes of previously enchained man. Fear then seized the other conspirators that their plot had been revealed by the blinded man so that they were forced to muster their forces and throw themselves into the fray immediately rather than be arrested separately and subjected to unspeakable atrocities. Their revolt got under way in the spring and it was joined by many other people its size growing daily. As commander-in-chief, they proclaimed the arch-conspirator Isaac Comnenus. Yet great numbers of eastern soldiers went over to the emperor in Byzantium. Comnenus had only those soldiers gathered together with him in revolt, while the emperor had all of those forces gone over to him and the western forces. Drawing on all of them, he fitted out an impressive force that he had cross from Europe to Asia. They came until Nicomedia where they set up camp in anticipation of their opponents' assault on them, but then they out for Nicaea by imperial command and were approaching the outskirts of Nicaea. Yet Isaac Comnenus had gotten to the city of Nicaea ahead of them and subjected it to himself leaving a group of his faction there at his rear before advancing forward against his opponent. He and the forces arraigned against him met each other in a fierce battle ten stades in front of the city at the place that since olden times bore the dual names of Polemon and Hades. The right flank wore down Comnenus’s men and on the left side it closed ranks and came close to the enemy advancing through the patricians. But then the tide turned and the men sent from Byzantium took flight. The right flank catching sight of their opponents’ defeat was emboldened again and a total rout of the imperial troops followed. Great numbers fell on both sides, while the greater part of those who took flight was cut down. It was a moment when father and son did not hesitate to slaughter one another forgetting nature with a son staining his hand with the murder of his father and a brother delivering the mortal blow to brother and no discrimination was made or pity taken on account of kinship, relation, or the fact that they were all the same people until they halted themselves in their crazed mania on perceiving the calamity raising a terrible shriek of grief. However, as Comnenus had triumphed he was greeted with triumphal acclamation and proclaimed Augustus by everyone and was high in everyone‘s hopes in which they would not miss the mark. In addition, the famed magister Nicephorus Botaniates from a family prominent for its glory and evidence in brave deeds and the commanding of troops, did noble deeds and proved his great might during that battle.

The next day, Comnenus took command of his forces and took the road leading to the capital. And yet before he even reached the shore opposite the city, a conspiracy was set in motion by the people in power at Constantinople against the emperor. Whether the archpriest and patriarch Cerularius were in cahoots with them, or not, is unclear and not evident. Nevertheless, on account of what he received in the end and what followed, these suspicions do not seem without some serious grounding in the truth, since he was to work in concord with Comnenus and be a recognized member of the chief counsel as well as his nearest of kin and his friend the vestarch Constantine Ducas, the husband of the patriarch’s sister, who gave and received much favor on this account. The plot was set in motion and all of the chief conspirators as well as its partisans…came together in the Church of Haghia Sophia alleging that the emperor had broken their contracts whereas Comnenus would not do so. They wanted to make peace with him and make him emperor instead. They began to acclaim Comnenus showing themselves to be his prosecutors and his advocates and allies at the same time. They said Comnenus had sworn off and renounced his friendship with the emperor once and for all and they conferred the honor of the imperial dignity upon him in stead. The patriarch’s nephews joined the people going to them since they wanted to find out what was the cause of the insurrection and were sent off in fear by the patriarch when they seemed to be arrested by the rioters and they would have been manhandled, had not the patriarch arrived and joined their conspiracy. He was spurned by nature as he as their uncle he was almost their father and because it seemed necessary so that the people would not grow further at odds with one another and their anger burst aflame resulting in civil war in the city. He entered into the Church and the innermost sanctuary and made himself a judge of the proceedings throwing his lot in with them. His move proved the turning point for the people wanting to depose the emperor and replace him with Comnenus because he was held in high estimation by many people. And so to prevent the insurrection from degenerating into civil war, he made the Comnenus’s acclamations louder and he instructed his priests to do likewise as it was the general sentiment. This made it doubtful whether the patriarch premeditated it.

And so everyone started to coalesce into one faction around Comnenus and the old man's power collapsed. Old man was what the group of conspirators against him called him and the name as stuck till the present day. When word reached Comnenus, a little bit away in the village of Chrysopolis, about what was happening, it emboldened him with news that the palace would be opened to him and all of the people would acclaim him. Yet he did not proceed until he got more concrete news about the old man’s deposition. And so, the patriarch called all those in power to him prudently, some willingly, others unwillingly, and he took over unnaturally the forces of the army and people and the imperial prerogative, and he decided things as they seemed best at the time. He dispatched men to the old men with an ultimatum: the emperor must at once abdicate and become a monk if he wanted to live as this was the will of the people. Michael, although he had the soldiers at court and those who stood behind him with him, he did not go out to defend himself against his enemies there, capture them readily, and assert his might, instead saying that permitting the city proper to be stained with murder and slaughter would be an act of hatred for humanity and selfishness on his part. Looking down on his crimson buskins, he said, "Michael won’t give up his piety for these”, and cast them aside far from his feet and held out his head for the people sent to him to tonsure him. Having gladly exchanged the monkish state for the imperial throne and a rough rag for the expensive and precious clothing, he was sent off that very day in black and joined the ranks of the monks. The patriarch received him kindly smiling. “Welcome”, he said to him and embraced him with a kiss. Michael replied, “May God worthily embrace you in turn”, and surrendered himself up to one of the patriarch's establishments, the above mentioned Anachorite, having reigned only one year.

And so Comnenus entered into the city by sea with the entire fleet being saluted with acclamations, shouting, and the noise of trumpets and other instruments. He entered into the palace near the late afternoon of September of the tenth indiction. On the following day, he went in dazzling procession to the Great Church of the Divine Wisdom with a large escort where he was crowned by the patriarch upon a raised platform. From there, he proceeded wearing the crown having provided proof of his vigorousness and great virtue not only to his subjects, but also already the barbarians, since he became emperor by battle and by the sword and had shown that he was capable of ruling. In his official images, he was portrayed holding a drawn sword with a tax register and it was n this way that that he ruled over the empire and handled its business. Those who had undertaken and fought for this victory, he decked out with generous honors and he also appointed many tax collectors, thus granting the people with the appropriate honor. Above everyone else, he dealt with the patriarch very reverently treating him like he was his father and he made his nephews preeminent with chief honors and promotions. He also dedicated the rights owed by religious establishments to imperial prerogative to the Church including even palace ones so that somebody would need to be appointed by the emperor for their management and their keeping and preservation of sacred treasures, but rather both their selection of individuals and administrative business would rest under the authority of the patriarch.

Once set on the throne, he began to look to the finances of the empire and the great task of paying the soldiers since wars confronted him requiring huge cost in order to overcome his opponents and bolster the Romans on all fronts. In need of money, reckoning their wealth without end, he instituted a heavy tax on those paying the public revenue. Then he cut off payments to office holders and like a great insatiable hunter sought after many from anywhere it could be got. Afterwards, he paid attention to economy and the making over of fields to the imperial dominion. On this account, he then deprived many private persons of a lot of possessions ignoring the imperial chrysobulls by which lordship over them was conferred. He even descended on some of the monasteries which possessed great and rich possessions which owed nothing to the imperial treasury. He seized many of them presenting the explanation that he was leaving the monasteries and the monks what they needed taking for the imperial treasury the excess, which seemed illegal and impious while for the pious it seemed ready sacreligion, but nothing out of place to people more profoundly looking at things. On both sides, though, it was seen as advantageous because the monks were free from care inconducive to their state as he was moving them, who were taught poverty, away from money and he was taking none of their necessaries away from them as well as freeing their rural neighbors of their burden because the monks would force them to part from their lavish and expensive possessions having been sick with greed and gotten used to their illness trumping their prosecutors if ever a suit was brought against them since through the exchange of money and property they could make them withdraw their suit. The treasury compelled to pay its contents to many people and many parties welcomed this addition to its revenue as an immeasurable relief and the measure did not injure others quantitatively.

It was these doings of the emperor that kept him in the capital for their implementation. During this time, the patriarch charged by his previous doings that caused him to think his power more extensive than it was and emboldened by the emperor’s affection for him, upbraided him many times for his undertakings that did not beseem him giving him one moment the counsel of a father, the next a chastising and threatening telling off in place of moderate words of praise and suggestions such that the emperor began to grow gradually wearied by him and grew to think of his counsel as raving. Not much later, born down upon by these words, the emperor decided to arrest the man and strip him of his position since he had overlooked his duties and in this way escape censure. And so, when as the celebration of the Archangel was approaching in November the patriarch Michael went to the monastery raised by him from the ground up going outside of the great unsacked, and God-crafted city celebrating the festival lavishly near the western part of the city. And so the emperor sharpened his treachery, shined his blade, and unsheathed his innermost feelings to those around him and sent one of his servants disguised as a priest to speak with the patriarch about some private matters providing the occasion for thought and talk in regards to it in private. When they started to speak, a multitude of armed soldiers burst in surrounding him and lifted him irreverently off his throne and carried him off. They sat him on a mule and drove him to the harbor at Blachernae. When the cowardly imperial order came, they loaded him onto a boat and the chief shepherd was carried off into exile like a wrongdoer for speaking perhaps too much. Likewise those dear to him of his kin suffered the same fate.

Did this man bear his suffering irresolutely and ignobly and let the unfaithful, audacious act of the emperor shake his faith? No, instead resolutely and nobly he is celebrated to have won out with courage far surpassing Job because he did show himself at pained by the loss of his office, his state, his license to speak, or his high office and he defeated his attraction for these things bearing it as recompensation for his homeland and his wife. Blessing he blessed the Lord and did not cease giving him thanks, while he did not call his suffering, suffering, but an exact chastisement, a lesson leading to perfection, and a step towards greater virtue. He did not lose his humbleness putting himself to blame and deeming himself worthy of what he had suffered making his mind prisoner to God though he did not loss his noble state of mind. He did not entirely collapse or lose his zeal such as the soul may do when stricken with panic by material things downward-leading.

When the emperor learned of this, he felt terrible and was repentant: he needed to set it right, though he did not feel he needed to punish himself for having acted wrongly. It was his wish to bring charges against him and show the unworthiness of a man who had been already for many years invested with the office and administered correctly the word of God. Some of those in office held his opinion though they were fully aware of the man's reputation. However, they too backed away with time as that is how flatterers work. The emperor testing his devotion sent some of the capital's most preeminent men, who he thought were skilled with words than others, to discuss with him abdicating so that the charges against him would not be brought in the synod and church gathering. Yet he showed himself impregnable to them and extremely inflexible breathing fire with his tongue and gesture and made them feel ashamed of themselves and beg him for his forgiveness. When they returned to the emperor who sent them to tell him what happened, they did not dissemble at all and said, "We were defeated, Your Majesty, we were defeated, the man with all his threats was better and stronger than us in words and persuasion and he was beyond by far taking. If you want to go after an unassailable and an incontestable man, consider defeat and repentance hereof." The emperor heard them and understood taking care to how and in what way to go about things. In the meantime, the patriarch ended his life in peace, God seeing a greater purpose for him, having foreseen God’s calling for him as such was the virtue of the holy man and because he numbered amongst the good in practice and purity in the midst of their commemoration for the incarnation of our savior Jesus Christ because of his love for us. So he exchanged the mortal and perishable life for the immortal and indestructible. Such was what came about during the last days of the patriarch. The emperor was overcome by repentance and feared the man's virtue not knowing in what way to set right his sinful mistake, so he ordered his corpse to be brought back to the capital. He was entombed in the place which he had selected when he was alive near the monastery he built. A great miracle that took place after his death worthy of a patriarch was that a indesrible symbol appeared on his hand in the shape of a cross. His precious hand has maintained its appearance peace and blessing through the cross up to the present time in spite of the body’s decomposition.

As patriarch, the proedrus and protovestarius Constantine Lichudes was chosen having made himself illustrious in both the business of the emperor and the city from the proclamation of Monomachus until his own, with responsibility in the palace for the administration of everything. He was such a gift giver and considerate that nearly everyone had something to gain from his alacrity and was utterly amazed.

As the Sauromatians in the west along with the Scythians near the Ister River, who the masses call the Pechenegs, were causing trouble, the emperor therefore decided to lead Roman forces against them. Making his preparations for war and calling up his soldiers, he set out all in arms. When he got to Sardica, he fought with the Sauromatians and forced them to make peace and encouraged by the peace turned his attention to the other peoples, I mean the Scythians. Their chiefs were divided amongst themselves with some coming before him and agreeing to keep their pledges of peace in order to be delivered of all fear. Only one, returning towards the by of the Ister River taking possession of a barren rock as a refuge (Selte was the barbarian‘s name) did not want give in to the emperor and instead, being so disdainful of him went out onto the flat land drawing up his lines against the Romans. Yet his foulmindedness got its proper results as he was overpowered by a small part of the army ranged against him and took flight hiding in a great wood like a cowering hare with those under him. The emperor taking the refuge, left behind a garrison and appointed it a commander eagerly turning about for home.

Setting up his encampment near the feet of the mountain [hill?] called Lobitzus, in line with the name of the place. A ghastly storm and a terrible snow storm struck straight away even though September was still under way doing much damage and destruction. Nearly all of the horses and many of those there weakened by the cold and the constant, unending snow storm after such a lengthy time died, while the supplies left behind unexpectedly for those on the expedition became a casualty of the flood of the river and the winter. When it stopped, the emperor set out in the morning and crossed the nearby river swollen by the river abandoning his own men. Pausing his march for a little, he stood in the shadow of a tree along with some of his high in command, and a little bit later there was a sound that caused the emperor to take a step forward a little out of its range as broken at its very roots it fell with a great noise. The emperor was mute seeing how closely he had escaped peril, it proving no favorable beginning.

Leading on the army, he continued on his way. A false and incorrect report caused him to make haste as it said that the city man sent by him to collect public revenue in the east had rebelled. On reaching the capital already vexed with the wretchedness of what happened, he found that the accusation against the officer was phony becoming disheartened and going to the opposite strait opposite the capital where he busied himself with the hunt bolstering his spirits with constant exercise. Around spring there was a lightning strike at those spots that go by Neapolis. The emperor stricken as the saying goes set out from them and came by boat to the palace where after struggling with disease for a couple of days he began to await his final destiny, Consequently he made his repentance to obtain the mercy of God and exchanged the authority of an emperor for the solemn and unaffected life of monk appointing emperor not his brother John, nor his nephew, nor the husband of his daughter, but the proedrus Constantine Ducas, who had always been his conscious fellow combatant for acquisition of the throne. Comnenus then himself in monkish rags went to the monastery of Studius still being worn down by disease living…after a reign of two years and three months living no less than that as monk.

After his death, it was noticed that his coffin was filled with liquid, which caused people to remark. Some said that it was clear evidence of him being punished for the massacre during the civil war at Nicaea. Others said it was because of him wronging many people and his partial and in whole stopping up of payments from the imperial treasury to most people, while others said it was for his seizure of church and private property, still others saying it was for everything. Yet some people said it was because he later came to his senses. It was anything but the punishment of the late emperor since they think he repented because he called upon Divine mercy to have pity on him. Those in opposition to them said that the man was made repentant only after his retirement and that he had not fully changed his life. Some believed that water was a work of holiness for his delayed repentance, though everyone accepted that it is not a sin to force Divine goodwill, if a person gives up their vices and elects the path of righteousness. Personally, I am of the opinion that he gave his vices and went from worse to better, though I condemn the lesser no more.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Trapezuntine Scandal!

Here are two letters about the ecclesiastical scandal that broke out under Manuel III of Trebizond because Manuel bribed electors in order to get his candidate for metropolitan of Alania elected. Both letters were written sometime in 1401. I haven't yet tried to pin down more exact dates, but here are draft translations of pretty good letters.

Letter to the metropolitan of Trebizond

Most holy metropolitan of Trebizond, honored exarch of all Lazica, our Moderation’s beloved brother in the Holy Spirit and fellow servant, may God grant grace and peace to your Holiness.

We are writing to inform you that our Moderation was greatly hurt, offended, and angered by the illegal action carried out there which is forbidden in the Church of Christ by the divine and sacred canons. As your Holiness well knows, the canons of the holy apostles and nearly all the ecumenical councils damn anyone elected for money and his elector, and the canons eject this from the Church as simony. Our Moderation because of the danger by sea posed by the infidel due to the siege gave you all permission to elect a metropolitan of Alania there canonically and with ecclesiastical precision and we laid out how it was to be carried out by my exarch, but the people there overpowered him and locked him up using force and violence on him in order to effect the election contrary to the divine and sacred canons as well as illegally by bribes of the man that the secular rulers wanted and had already marked out for the post, who they forced unwillingly and gave bribes to have elected. Perhaps this is not to be unexpected from the worldly rulers who do many other things out of contempt for others, but I am amazed that your Holiness, a long time high priest of the Church of Christ fully aware of the laws and canons, did not do your best to prevent such illegal actions, but that you actually aided and abetted it. For this reason, we are furious with your Holiness and our exarch the monk Nathaniel. We are greatly offended and angered that this illegal action was not resisted until the last drop of blood, but that it was permitted and let come to pass and also that an ordained man would have risked his own position by daring to so great an effrontery be committed against the Church of Christ. The man elected over Alania will be judged by the synod and if someone will accuse him of this when the time comes, he will receive all that the holy and sacred canons demand. Our Moderation will not correspond with him, nor shall we address him as metropolitan until he has his hearing. We have returned as well although they were sent here to the clergy and my cell the five somia to the abbot of Saint Sophia, the hieromonk Gedeon, who gave them to us. We are poor and needy and we and this clergy live off the pity of Christians, but were all the gold in the world obtained illegally offered to us, we would not take it. Rather we would say to the people giving us it what Saint Peter said, “To hell with them and their money.” Tell the man appointed over Alania this.

May the grace and pity of God be with your Holiness.

Letter to the Emperor of Trebizond Manuel III

Beloved brother-in-law of my mighty and holy emperor, most noble, most glorious, most brave, most prudent emperor of Trebizond and all Lazica, most dear son of our Moderation in the Holy Spirit, lord Manuel Komnenos, our Moderation prays God Almighty grant you grace, peace, spiritual and corporal health, all else that is good.

The letter sent by your Imperial Majesty with the hieromonk was received by the divine and sacred superior synod. We have convened one, two, three times and thoroughly read and pondered it. We found much difficulty and contrariness in what you wrote as it goes against the rule set down by the Holy Fathers and against your Imperial Majesty’s letter which you wrote previously about the man of Alania in which you wrote, “We ask that this one thing happen”, and elsewhere, “We will not seek this.” Because of all this, it appeared difficult now as up to this time the divine and sacred superior synod has consented to your pleading and requests because of our friendship and love for your Imperial Majesty and because of the good and praiseworthy reputation which the hieromonk and spiritual Symeon has and because of the love and affection which you all have for him, to let him come here and happen to him as the canons command and as you request, if only your Imperial Majesty will give written satisfaction and assurance to the divine, sacred, and superior synod that you shall speak no further of this individual or write anything further in regards to it as this is against the letter and law of the canons. Let him come here therefore without summons following spring in March during the four month period he was given to come here. If he does not come, then the synod will do what is required by the canons to this church of ours. Do not present us with anything whether it is money or anything else because we do not need anything. In regards to this man of Alania, we are amazed how your Imperial Majesty thought that if we did not give in for 5 somia, we would give in for eight. In doing this, you revealed that you are ignorant of us and our aim. We admit we are poor now and we will be in the future, but not so much as eight gotten from such a means or even eight thousand would we touch, rather likewise we would return them as we would snakes and scorpions. In regards to the man of Alania, since a bad reputation and one very unflattering to Church leadership has fallen through him on the Chuch of Christ and since many have been harmed and scandalized on his account, it is our Moderation’s decision that he need come here and face the charges against him and show himself innocent. If he returns with papers of innocence given in synod by our Moderation, then those who were scandalized by him will be satisfied. So let him come here himself after March during the four month period we are giving him, which once it has passed if he has still not given an account of himself to the synod, then our Moderation will consider him free from leadership position in the Church by decision of the synod. Please take back the money the somia you gave us.

May God preserve your Imperial Majesty disease-free, happy, healthy, and free from all cause for grief.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Kephale as Archontship

Extracts from the TLG

noun: kephale^

13. Acta Monasterii Macrinitissae Acta, Eccl. et Legal., Joasaph Maliasenus Cypriano abbati monasterii sanctae Mariae permittit possessionem dimidii terrae Petrae donatae monasterio Macrinitissae a pincerna Raul (a. 1276). {5322.038} Line 2. (Browse)
Ἐπειδήπερ ὁ περιπόθητος ἐξάδελφος τοῦ κραταιοῦ καὶ ἁγίου ἡμῶν αὐθέντου καὶ βασιλέως, κεφαλὴ τῆς Μεγάλης Βλαχίας, ὁ πανευγενέστατος Ῥαοὺλ ὁ πιγκέρνης ὁ Κομνηνὸς, ἐποίησε γράμμα παραδοτικὸν αὐτοῦ πρὸς τὴν σεβασμίαν μονὴν τῆς πανυπεράγνου θεομήτορος τῆς Ὀξείας Ἐπισκέψεως τῆς Μακρινιτίσσης, ὡς ἵνα κατέχῃ ἡ τοιαύτη σεβασμία μονὴ τὴν ἅπασαν γῆν τῆς Πέτρας, τούτου γενομένου δι’ ἔργου, κἀγὼ, ὁ τῆς σεβασμίας μονῆς τῆς Πανυπεράγνου ἡγούμενος Κυπριανὸς ἱερομόναχος, φιλικῶς καὶ ἀδελφικὸς ἐν εἰρήνῃ ἑνωθεὶς μετὰ τοῦ πανευκλεεστάτου Ἀγγελοκομνηνοῦ Δούκα τοῦ Μαλιασηνοῦ καὶ κτήτορος τῆς σεβασμίας ἁγίας βασιλικῆς πατριαρχικῆς μονῆς τῆς Ὀξείας Ἐπισκέψεως τῆς Μακρινιτίσσης.

11. Acta Monasterii Iviron Acta, Eccl. et Legal., Cambitas possessionum monachorum Chortaiti. (c.a. 1320) {5303.076} Line 48.
διορίζεται δὲ τοῦτο γενέσθαι παρὰ τοῦ σεβασμιωτάτου (καὶ) θεοφιλοῦς π(ατ)ρ(ὸ)ς ἡμῶν τοῦ πανοσιωτάτου πρώτου τοῦ καθ’ ὑμᾶς Ἁγ(ίου) Ὄρους, συμπαραλαβόντο(ς) τόν τε πανιερώτ(α)τον μ(ητ)ροπολίτην Θεσσαλονίκης ὑπέρτιμον (καὶ) ἔξαρχον πάσης Θετταλί(ας) (καὶ) τ(ὸν) εἰς κεφαλὴν τῆς τοιαύτης πόλ(εως) εὑρισκόμενον οἰκεῖον τῶ κραταιῶ (καὶ) ἁγ(ί)ω ἡμ(ῶν) αὐθέντ(η) (καὶ) βασιλεῖ δομέστικον τῶν κ(α)τ(ὰ) Δύσιν σχολῶν τ(ὸν) Λάσκαριν.

38. Acta Monasterii Lavrae Acta, Eccl. et Legal., Actum Pauli Gazae et Georgii principis. (a. 1408){5309.161} (A.D. 9-15) Page 157 line 10.
ὥρισε πρός̣ τε τὸν αὐθ(έν)τ(ην) ἡμ(ῶν) καὶ περιπόθητ(ον) υἱὸν αὐτοῦ τὸν πανευτυχέστ(α)τ(ον) δεσπότ(ην) κ(αὶ) τὸν οἰκεῖον τῆ κρατ(αιᾶ) κ(αὶ) ἁγία βασιλ(εία) αὐτοῦ λαμπρότατον κεφαλ(ὴν) Θεσσαλονίκης κῦρ Μανουὴλ τὸν Ἐσκαμματισμένον γενέσθαι κ(α)τ(ὰ) τὴν τοιαύτην ζήτησιν κ(αὶ) παράκλησιν τῶν εἰρημέν(ων) τιμιωτάτων ἱερομονάχων. Κ(αὶ) λαβόντες ἡμεῖς παρά τε τοῦ αὐθ(έν)τ(ου) ἡμῶν τοῦ πανευτυχεστάτου δεσποτου κ(αὶ) τοῦ εἰρημένου λαμπροτάτου κεφαλῆς Θεσσαλονίκης τὸν περὶ τούτου θεῖον κ(αὶ) προσκυνητ(ὸν) ὁρισμὸν τοῦ κρατ(αι)οῦ κ(αὶ) ἁγίου ἡμῶν αὐθ(έν)τ(ου)κ(αὶ) βασιλέ(ως),

verb: kephalatikeuw

Theodorus II Palaeologus Rhet., Argyrobulla. {3314.001}
(104.) ☩ Ἡ βασιλεία μου τὸν παρόντα ἀργυρόβουλλον ὁρισμὸν αὐτῆς ἀπολύει, δι’ οὗ δὴ καὶ διορίζεται ὡς ἂν κρατῇ καὶ κεφαλατικεύῃ ὁ οἰκεῖος τῇ βασιλείᾳ μου κῦρ Γεώργιος ὁ Γεμιστὸς τὸ κάστρον καὶ τὴν χώραν τοῦ Φαναρίου μετὰ πάσης τῆς αὐτοῦ νομῆς καὶ συνηθείας καὶ περιοχῆς, λαμβάνων κατ’ ἔτος ἐντὸς τοῦ προσοδίου αὐτοῦ πάντα τὰ δίκαια τοῦ κεφαλατικίου τῆς αὐτῆς χώρας, τὰς μύζας καὶ εἴ τι ἄλλο ὀφείλουσιν οἱ ἔποικοι τῆς αὐτῆς χώρας αὐθεντικὸν δικαίωμα χωρὶς μόνης τῆς τοῦ φλωριατικοῦ δόσεως, ἥτις ὀφείλει εἶναι τοῦ δημοσίου, καὶ οὐδὲν ἔχῃ εἰς τὰ αὐτὰ παρά τινος τὴν τυχοῦσαν διενόχλησιν ἢ παρασάλευσιν, ἀλλὰ ἀπολαύῃ πάσης ἀνενοχλησίας καὶ δεφενδεύσεως τῇ ἰσχύι καὶ δυνάμει τοῦ παρόντος ἀργυροβούλλου ὁρισμοῦ τῆς βασιλείας μου, κρατῶν καὶ κεφαλιτικεύων αὐτό, ὡς ἄνωθεν εἴρηται, παρ’ ἅλην αὐτοῦ τὴν ζωὴν καὶ ἐκδουλεύειν ὀφείλων•

Michael Panaretus Hist., Chronica de imperatoribus Comnenis. {3299.001} p. 70 (circa 1390)
Τῷ αὐτῷ γοῦν ἔτει, τῷ ͵ϛωξʹ, Σεπτεμβρίου κβʹ, ἀπήλθαμεν μὲ τὴν δέσποιναν, τοῦ βασιλέως τὴν μητέρα, εἰς τὰ Λιμνία κατὰ τοῦ κεφαλατικεύοντος ἐκεῖσε Κωνσταντίνου τοῦ Δωρανίτου, ἀδελφοῦ τοῦ πρωτοβεστιαρίου τοῦ Πιλέλη, καὶ λείψαντες μῆνας γʹ πάλιν ἤλθαμεν.

A Short Extract on the History of the Latin Empire of Constantinople

All too frequently we always hear the Byzantine side of the story of the Latin Empire of Constantinople. Here I've translated from Old French an extract of a history by Baldwin of Avesnes on the Latin emperors as found in La Conquête de Constantinople pgs. 423-7 (which you can find online by clicking here).

Extract from the work of Baldwin of Avesnes

Now that we have spoken to you a little about the emperor Frederick and the land beyond the sea [Outremer], we shall tell you about the empire of Greece.

You have heard above how the emperor Henry went to the kingdom of Salonika and of the war that he waged against the Lombards who wanted to hold the land in opposition to him. When he had vanquished them, he made peace with Johennis the king of Vlachia [Kalojan, the king of Bulgaria 1197-1207] and Toldre l'Acres [Theodore Lascaris, emperor of Nicaea 1204/5-1221/2]. He took as his wife the daughter of Kalojan and gave him in marriage his niece, while he gave another one to Theodore Lascaris, and a third one to King Andrew of Hungary [Andrew II 1205-1235]. These three ladies were the daughters of Count Pieron d'Auchoirre [Peter of Courtenay] and the Countess Yolent [Yolanda], the emperor's sister. By means of these marriages, he obtained peace and aid, though he did not live much long afterwards and died without any direct heirs, which was a real shame since he had been very vigorous and great-minded. The barons in Constantinople immediately then sent messengers to Peter of Courtenay, whose wife was the sister of the emperor. They were the German cousins of King Phillip of France. He had two sons by his wife. The eldest was named Phillip to whom he had given the county of Namur which had come to him by way of his wife when Phillip of Namur [Phillip I the Noble 1195-1212] died without any direct heirs. The other was named Robert. He had more daughters than the three we have told you about who were married off. When the messengers came to Count Peter and he heard of the death of the emperor Henry and how the barons were asking him to become emperor, he set his affairs in order and set out with his wife. Along with them went the Count of Sansuerre and a large company of knights and sergeants. When they came to Rome, the Pope crowned them. From there, they went to Brandis [Brindisi] and took to the sea. The Emperor Peter then came to Duras [Durres], which was one of the chief cities in Greece across from Sezille [Sicily], while the empress his wife went ahead to Constantinople because she was pregnant. She had not been there long before she gave birth to a son named Baldwin.

The Emperor Peter, meanwhile, who had gone to Durres, was received there with great honor by its lord, who was named Toldres li Communies [Theodore Comnenus Angelos, despot of Epirus 1215-1224, emperor of Thessalonica 1224-1230]. Yet, he had hardly been there long before he was seized hold by him along with the count of Sansuerre and held there in prison until they died. The Empress Yolanda did not live much long after either before she died at Constantinople. And so the barons of the land sent an entreaty to Count Phillip of Namur asking him to come become emperor as it had so fallen to him. When Lascaris learned that the emperor Peter had died as well as the empress Yolanda, his wife, he tried to conquer the empire and commenced hostilities. And so, the barons in Constantinople sent a large party of their people against him. The commanders of them were Sir Gerard la Truie and Gryu who reconquered a large part of the land that the emperor Henry had gained before them. Meanwhile, the messengers that came to Count Phillip of Namur told him that the barons were asking him to be emperor. He had no desire to go, so he sent Robert, his brother. He traveled by way of Hungary where he was received with great honor by his sister and was the queen of that land, and by King Andrew. He passed the winter there in Hungary because the way forward was uncertain. He had with him a sergeant who was born in Lille in Flanders. No one would say he was the uncle of Robert who was going to become emperor. Yet, he had a beautiful lady as his daughter, so Robert of Courtenay dressed her up richly and said that she was his cousin opening discussions of marriage between her and the king of Serbia [Stefan II 1217-1228]. The king, who desired the lady he saw, agreed to the marriage and their marriage was celebrated with great ceremony. Through this marriage and the aid of the Vlachs, Robert of Courtenay arrived safely in Constantinople, where he was received with much joy. However, he did not bring the father of the lady with him so that the affair should not be known, but gave him money and sent him back to Flanders. When Gerard la Truie and his men learned that Robert had reached Constantinople, they went to him and crowned him at Saint Sophia. After this, they undertook to bring about peace between the emperor Robert and Lascaris, who was married to his sister. The lady herself made a great deal over it bringing an end to hostilities and finally Lascaris agreed to give the emperor his daughter [Eudocia] who he had by his first marriage as a wife and lots of land to go with her.

This was agreed to by both parties and all of the prisoners were released. However, to be brief, when Lascaris died, Robert no longer wanted to go through with the marriage. The barons of the land felt great contempt for the marriage too, so they recommenced hostilities. The Cumans were fighting on the opposing side and laid siege to a castle on a mountain. The emperor Robert sent his best men there to defend it, but they were defeated and were for the most part killed off. This proved a great loss for the emperor because little remained of the folk with which he might do great things. At length, talks were reopened and a marriage between him and the daughter of Lascaris. A great number of prisoners were released too who were in le Gryu’s custody. For a time, the emperor Robert kept the peace. Yet there was a woman in Constantinople who was the daughter of knight from Artois named Baldwin of Nueville. The emperor Robert was in love with her so much that he abandoned the marriage between Lascaris' daughter and himself. Instead, he married this lady shamelessly and had her join him in the his palace along with lady's mother too.

When the French people in Constantinople found out about it, they were distressed and distraught because the emperor was not doing what he was his duty. On this account, they made a joint resolution and went to the emperor's chamber. They took the lady's mother and sent her on board a boat to be drowned, while they cut off the girl's nose and her lips and went away. When they emperor saw what his people had done, he could not stand to remain there and so he boarded a galley and went to Rome where he complained to the Pope about the disgraceful acts that his people had done to him. The Pope comforted him and soothed him, and then asked him to go back to Constantinople. As he was going back, he stopped in the land of Joifroi de Vile Harduin [Geoffrey of Villehardouin], who received him with much honor, but there he took ill and died from it. When those in Constantinople found this out, they held a counsel over what should be done. Several of them were for leaving the city, but another part of them said that it would shameful to leave such a noble city just like that.

At length, in general agreement, they sent messengers to the Pope informing him about the condition of the realm and asking him to advise them what should be done. In addition, they asked him to speak to King John of Acre and get him to defend the empire because they could not bear in the least to ask for aid from others. The Pope, who took pity on the realm, sent a message to King John asking him to fulfill this need. King John responded that he would do so in no manner because there was still one son left of the emperor Peter, who was outside of the realm, and that he had no desire to put himself in such grave danger to make safe another realm. The Pope told him if he would go there, he would provide with people and aid. At length, he said that he would go if it was agreed that the heir to the throne marry one of his daughters and swear an oath that as long as the king was alive, he would not demand power for himself in the empire, that the peers of the realm pay him homage, and that all the land that he would conquer that had belonged to the child's ancestors, would continue to belong to the child. If he conquered any other land, it would belong to his descendants who would hold it as a fief from the emperor. The Pope agreed to this and informed the messengers from Constantinople of it who returned to Constantinople and reported to the knights all that they had heard. They held a counsel and because they saw that the child was still young and held little land outside Constantinople, it seemed that they had little to guarantee, so they gave their approval to the agreement.

And so, they responded to the Pope that they accepted the agreement as it had been set forth. When King John came to the Pope, he gave him a lot of aid and swore to him that he would help aid with men. Then the king went to Venice and took to the sea for Constantinople. The knights went to meet him and received with great honor. In short, not long after, Baldwin would become emperor, was married to the daughter of King John and swore an oath to keep the agreement that had been reached and all of the people paid him homage. Now that we have spoken a little of the empire of Greece, we shall speak of King Louis of France.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ctesias Extracts

Photios in the Library Codex 72 has an extensive section devoted to him and the chief differences between him and Herodotos. His account of Kroisos and his barbecue is rather interesting for the ethnic pride the Persians took in themselves don't you think? The pyre is gone! (Note all page numbers from TLG 4040.001) pp. 36A-B

Καὶ ὅτι στρατεύει Κῦρος ἐπὶ Κροῖσον καὶ πόλιν Σάρδεις, σύνεργον ἔχων Ἀμόργην. Ὅπως τε βουλῇ Οἰβάρα, Περσῶν εἴδωλα ξύλινα ἀνὰ τὸ τεῖχος φανέντα, εἰς δέος μὲν κατέστησε τοὺς ἐνοικοῦντας, ἥλω δὲ διὰ ταῦτα καὶ αὐτὴ ἡ πόλις. Ὅπως τε πρὸ τῆς ἁλώσεως δίδοται ὁ παῖς Κροίσου ἐν ὁμήρου λόγῳ, δαιμονίου φαντάσματος ἀπατήσαντος Κροῖσον. Ὅπως τε, δολορραφοῦντος Κροίσου, ὁ παῖς κατ’ ὀφθαλμοὺς ἀναιρεῖται· καὶ ὅπως ἡ μήτηρ, τὸ πάθος ἰδοῦσα, ἑαυτὴν τοῦ τείχους ἀποκρημνίζει καὶ θνῄσκει. Ὅπως τε, ἁλούσης τῆς πόλεως,
πρὸς τὸ ἐν τῇ πόλει ἱερὸν τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος καταφεύγει ὁ Κροῖσος, καὶ ὡς τρὶς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ πεδηθεὶς ὑπὸ Κύρου, λύεται τρίτον ἀοράτως, καίτοι σφραγίδων τῷ ἱερῷ ἐπικειμένων, καὶ τούτων τὴν φυλακὴν Οἰβάρα ἐμπεπιστευμένου. Ὅπως τε οἱ συνδούμενοι Κροίσῳ τὰς κεφαλὰς ἀπετέμνοντο ὡς καταπροδιδόντες λύεσθαι Κροῖσον. Καὶ ὅτι ἀναληφθεὶς ἐν τοῖς βασιλείοις καὶ δεθεὶς ἀσφαλέστερον, βροντῶν καὶ σκηπτῶν ἐπενεχθέντων, λύεται πάλιν καὶ τότε μόλις ὑπὸ Κύρου ἀφίεται. Ἐξ οὗ καὶ περιείπετο καὶ ἔδωκε Κῦρος Κροίσῳ πόλιν μεγάλην Βαρήνην, ἐγγὺς Ἐκβατάνων, ἐν ᾗ ἦσαν ἱππεῖς μὲν πεντακισχίλιοι, πελτασταὶ δὲ καὶ ἀκοντισταὶ καὶ τοξόται μύριοι.

Also from Artaxerxes' side of Cyrus's revolt. pp. 43A-44A

Ἐν δὲ τῇ ιθʹ ἱστορίᾳ, διαλαμβάνει ὡς Ὦχος ὁ Δαρειαῖος ἀπέθανεν ἀσθενήσας ἐν Βαβυλῶνι, ἔτη βασιλεύσας τριάκοντα πέντε.

Βασιλεύει δὲ Ἀρσάκης ὁ μετονομασθεὶς Ἀρτοξέρξης, καὶ ἐκτέμνεται Οὐδιάστης τὴν γλῶτταν καὶ ἐξελκύεται ταύτην ἐξόπισθεν, καὶ θνῄσκει. Ὁ δὲ παῖς αὐτοῦ Μιτραδάτης ἀντὶ τοῦ πατρὸς καθίσταται σατράπης. Ἐπράχθη δὲ ταῦτα σπουδῇ Στατείρας, καὶ ἠνιᾶτο Παρύσατις.

Διαβάλλεται Κῦρος ὑπὸ Τισσαφέρνους πρὸς Ἀρτοξέρξην τὸν ἀδελφόν, καὶ καταφεύγει Παρυσάτιδι τῇ μητρί, καὶ ἀπολύεται τῆς διαβολῆς. Ἀπελαύνει Κῦρος ἠτιμωμένος παρὰ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ πρὸς τὴν οἰκείαν σατραπείαν, καὶ μελετᾷ ἐπανάστασιν. Διαβάλλει Σατιβαρζάνης Ὀρόνδην ὡς Παρυσάτιδι μίγνυται, καίτοι λίαν αὐτῆς σωφρονούσης·καὶ ἀναιρεῖται Ὀρόνδης, καὶ ὀργίζεται ἡ μήτηρ τῷ βασιλεῖ.

Ὅτι Παρύσατις φαρμάκῳ διαφθείρει τὸν Τεριτούχμεω υἱόν. Καὶ περὶ τοῦ θάψαντος τὸν πατέρα διὰ τοῦ πυρὸς παρὰ τὸν νόμον· ἐξ οὗ καὶ ἔλεγχος Ἑλλανίκου καὶ Ἡροδότου, ὡς ψεύδονται.

Ἀπόστασις Κύρου ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ καὶ συναγωγὴ ἑλληνικοῦ στρατεύματος καὶ βαρβαρικοῦ, καὶ στρατηγῶν Κλέαρχος Ἑλλήνων. Ὅπως τε Συέννεσις, ὁ Κιλίκων βασιλεύς, ἄμφω συνεμάχει Κύρῳ τε καὶ Ἀρτοξέρξῃ. Ὅπως τε Κῦρος τῇ ἰδίᾳ στρατιᾷ καὶ Ἀρτοξέρξης πάλιν τῇ οἰκείᾳ παρῄνεσαν. Κλέαρχος δὲ ὁ Λακεδαιμόνιος, ὃς ἦρχε τῶν Ἑλλήνων,καὶ Μένων ὁ Θετταλός, οἳ μετὰ Κύρου ἦσαν, ἀεὶ διάφοροι ἀλλήλοις ἐτύγχανον διότι τῷ μὲν Κλεάρχῳ ἅπαντα ὁ Κῦρος συνεβούλευε, τοῦ δὲ Μένωνος λόγος οὐδεὶς ἦν.

Ηὐτομόλουν δὲ ἀπὸ μὲν Ἀρτοξέρξου πρὸς Κῦρον πολλοί, πρὸς δὲ Ἀρτοξέρξην ἀπὸ Κύρου οὐδείς·διὸ καὶ Ἀρβάριος, προσχωρῆσαι Κύρῳ μελετήσας καὶ διαβληθείς, εἰς τὴν σποδὸν ἐνεβλήθη.

Προσβολὴ Κύρου πρὸς τὴν βασιλέως στρατιὰν καὶ νίκη Κύρου, ἀλλὰ καὶ θάνατος Κύρου ἀπειθοῦντος Κλεάρχῳ, καὶ αἰκισμὸς τοῦ σώματος Κύρου ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ Ἀρτοξέρξου· τήν τε γὰρ κεφαλὴν καὶ τὴν χεῖρα, μεθ’ ἧς τὸν Ἀρτοξέρξην ἔβαλεν, αὐτὸς ἀπέτεμε καὶ ἐθριάμβευσεν.

Ἀναχώρησις Κλεάρχου τοῦ Λακεδαιμονίου ἅμα τῶν σὺν αὐτῷ(44a.) Ἑλλήνων τῆς νυκτός, καὶ τῶν τῆς Παρυσάτιδος πόλεως μιᾶς κατάληψις. Εἶτα σπονδαὶ βασιλέως πρὸς τοὺς Ἕλληνας.

Ὡς Παρύσατις εἰς Βαβυλῶνα ἀφίκετο πενθοῦσα Κῦρον, καὶ μόλις ἐκομίσατο τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν χεῖρα, καὶ ἔθαψε καὶ ἀπέστειλεν εἰς Σοῦσα.

Τὰ περὶ Βαγαπάτου, τοῦ ἀποτεμόντος προστάξει βασιλέως τὴν κεφαλὴν ἀπὸ τοῦ σώματος Κύρου· ὅπως ἡ μήτηρ, μετὰ βασιλέως κύβοις ἐπὶ συνθήκαις παίξασα καὶ νικήσασα, ἔλαβε Βαγαπάτην· καὶ ὃν τρόπον τὸ δέρμα περιαιρεθεὶς ἀνεσταυρίσθη ὑπὸ Παρυσάτιδος, ὅτε καὶ τὸ πολὺ ἐπὶ Κύρῳ πένθος αὐτῇ ἐπαύσατο διὰ τὴν πολλὴν τοῦ Ἀρτοξέρξου δέησιν. Ὡς Ἀρτοξέρξης δῶρα ἔδωκε τῷ ἐνέγκαντι τὸν Κύρου πῖλον, καὶ ὡς τὸν Κάρα τὸν δοκέοντα Κῦρον βαλεῖν, Ἀρτοξέρξης ἐτίμησε, καὶ ὡς Παρύσατις τὸν τιμηθέντα Κάρα αἰκισαμένη ἀπέκτεινεν.

Ὡς Ἀρτοξέρξης παρέδωκεν αἰτησαμένῃ Μιτραδάτην Παρυσάτιδι ἐπὶ τραπέζης μεγαλαυχήσαντα ἀποκτεῖναι Κῦρον· κἀκείνη λαβοῦσα, πικρῶς ἀνεῖλεν.

Photios's typical assessment of the writer: p. 45A

Ἔστι δὲ οὗτος ὁ συγγραφεὺς σαφής τε καὶ ἀφελὴς λίαν· διὸ καὶ ἡδονῇ αὐτῷ σύγκρατός ἐστιν ὁ λόγος. Κέχρηται δὲ τῇ ἰωνικῇ διαλέκτῳ, εἰ καὶ μὴ διόλου, καθάπερ Ἡρόδοτος, ἀλλὰ κατ’ ἐνίας τινὰς λέξεις. Οὐδὲ πρὸς ἐκτροπὰς δέ τινας ἀκαίρους, ὥσπερ ἐκεῖνος, ἀπάγει τὸν λόγον. Τῶν μέντοι γε μύθων, ἐν οἷς ἐκείνῳ λοιδορεῖται, οὐδ’ οὗτος ἀφίσταται, καὶ μάλιστα ἐν τοῖς ἐπιγραφομένοις αὐτῷ Ἰνδικά. Ἡ δὲ ἡδονὴ τῆς ἱστορίας αὐτοῦ τὸ πλεῖστον ἐν τῇ τῶν διηγημάτων αὐτοῦ γίνεται διασκευῇ τὸ παθητικὸν καὶ ἀπροσδόκητον ἐχούσῃ πολύ, καὶ τὸ ἐγγὺς τοῦ μυθώδους αὐτὴν διαποικίλλειν. Καὶ (15)
διαλελυμένος δέ ἐστι πλέον τι τοῦ δέοντος αὐτῷ ὁ λόγος,ὡς καὶ εἰς ἰδιωτισμὸν ἐκπίπτειν. Ὁ δὲ τοῦ Ἡροδότου λόγος, ταύτῃ τε καὶ τῇ ἄλλῃ τοῦ ἔπους δυνάμει καὶ
τέχνῃ, κανών ἐστιν ἰωνικῆς διαλέκτου.

There's a full Engish translation of the codex at

Monday, January 19, 2009

In Harrio Pottero et Philosophi Lapide

Denique trias post hebdomadas librum Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis finivi. Liber optimus scilicet erat, etiam in linguam latinam a Petro Needham interpretatus. Multum studium liber mihi est, cum multa didicerim librum legens. Erroribus et difficultatibus interpretationis, autem, liber plenus est. Pagina CXXIII, interpretor scribet, "Noli aperire fasciculum ad mensam." Melius esset scribere, "Noli aperire fasciculum mensae", quod ad mensam significat mensam versus? Pagina CXLIX iocularior erat. Pro "Potter for President", Petrus Needham interpretatur "Potter praesideat." Difficultas erat pagina CXC ubi interpretatum est, "'Carolus,' inquit. 'tu quoque es mente alienata,' inquit Ronaldus. ego sum Ronaldus. meministine?" Latine perturbatio nulla est propter casus. Ronaldus dicere debet, "Quid in animo habes?", sed interpretatio est e lingua anglica, quae nullos casus habet, sic perturbatio possibilis est. Sicut illum exemplum est atque hoc: "non debetis die tali intus manere,'inquit, facie mire contorta subridens. 'eramus,' Harrius coepit." Quaestio est haec. Ambo imperfecto casu utuntur, sed melius esset 'em' dixisse, quia anglice dicendi "We were (going/leaving/exiting et cetera) intermissio est naturalis, sed non latine. Naturale est imperfecto casu uti, sed non eramus. Fortisse interpretatum sit "exibam..."

Liber melior erat. Ego volo alteros legere, si tempus et pecuniam habeam.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

In Historiam Apolloni Regis Tyri

In Historia Apolloni Regis Tyri
In hac hiemi, librum auctoris anonymi de tristi historia et peregrinationibus Apolloni legi. Omnia accidit Apollonio. Primum rex Antiochae (qui incidens in furorem nodum virginitatis filiae suae eripuerat), cuius filiam in matrimonium quaestionem suam respondendo petiverat, conatus est eum occidere. Postea, Apollonio effugito a malignitate regis naufragium accedit. Deinde Apollonius naufragus ad regiam Archistrati advenit, ibi filia regis ob sapientiam artium omnium adamoravit et patrem petivit ut Apollonius coniunx suus sit.

The Latin summary is unfinished, but I'll hopefully get to it soon.

I finally finished tonight the anonymous romance in Latin entitled Historia Apolloni Regis Tyri. The proposed author is Xenophon of Ephesus, which I agree with because that is where Apollonius recognizes his wife, first taking her for the goddess Diana and his stories seem to revolve around Ephesus especially Habrokome and Anthia. They also show how the goddess Diana reunites lovers. This would make it a translation into Latin from the Greek. Regardless of its authorship, it served its purpose for me. I learned a bit of Latin and as a teenager it soothed my love hungry heart as Nonnus in his pastoral Daphnis and Choe says a story of love can for the young.

What impressed me the most in the story was the importance placed on virginity, which is definitely lacking in our American society and makes me think that is why medieval western monks let it slide (Unfortunately for this reason, we have none of the more racy novels that must have existed:) as well as the total lack of it. The men take glee in breaking in a prostitute and getting her to cry, though luckily they don’t succeed with Tharsia. Also the eye for eye mentality is strange, For example the greedy brothel owner (leno) gets burned alive for trying to make men pierce Tharia’s nodus virginitatis, which is disgusting, but being burned alive!? Also the violent deaths of Dionysias and Stranguillionis for saying Tharsia was dead seem unmerited to my twenty-first century eyes, though Dionysias like the Wicked Queen in Snow White tried to have her done in.

As an adventure/love story for me this one was entertaining but not as compelling (or repetitive) as Habrokome and Anthia, though it had the divided lovers meeting again and living happily ever after. I guess what did it for me in that story was the fisherman Aigaleus who mummified his recently dead wife so that they could still be together. It is twisted, but love endures ὅτι ἔρως ἀληθινὸς ὅρον ἡλικίας οὐκ ἔχει. The Latin story doesn’t have this sort of moral to it, which is why it does not work as well for me. Next I have to finish Harry Potter in Latin for which we’ll have our comments.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Michael Choniates to Theodore Doukas

In the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade, the Byzantine Empire was split by competing powers for control. The Latins divided up the empire into fiefs which crusaders then tried to take. They had a great measure of success in the west overrunning Thessalonike and the greater part of Achaia and the Peloponnese. Notable Byzantine resistance was put up at Corinth by Leo Sgouros. Interestingly, Michael Choniates, the brother of historian Niketas Choniates and bishop of Athens, preserves us an account of his story of life after Athens fell in a letter to Theodore Doukas, the infamous ruler of Epiros and future emperor of Thessalonike for a spell. This is a clever response to Theodore's request, more like command that Choniates retire to his dominion. The date of the letter is 1217 because he says its been 12 years since Athens fell in 1205 and his nephews referred to are the sons of his brother Niketas Choniates. The monastery is Saint Nicholas the Saver refferred to in Choniates letter 166, which I've not yet had time to research much about.

To the mighty lord Theodore Doukas,

Who am I, Lord, my Lord, that the greatness of Your Person, who is surrounded by attacking enemies, tugged at one end and the other by myriads of cares and military expeditions, and neither gratifies its eyes with sleep nor rest to your temples so that it might keep his God-entrusted government free from Italian tyranny, has kindly paid attention to me and remembered me addressing letters to me and summoning to itself me, a man long since dead and genuinely near forgotten by everyone like a corpse. When I was driven from Athens, I ought to have as the prophet says spread my wings and flown to the dawning sun to the furthest reaches of the sea to settle down, but I did not, and instead contrived something almost Promethean because I am such philathenian and an idiot. What exactly? I did not flee far from my flock like a total hired laborer (1) because of the attacking beasts, but instead I took up residence at the islands across from Attica to watch from them as from far off guard watchtowers the panathenian destruction and to be able to help. I have lived here in the neighborhood of Athens for twelve years now (1205-1217) finding not benefit because I have seen the pains, convulsions, wailing, and lamentation my children be consumed as my own heart is tormented suffering along with them as though a motherbird seeing her own chicks become dinner for snake can only fly around and shriek pitifully and may even be gotten herself, so have I run the risk nearly to suffer. Last year, I dared to come to Athens and if I had not high tailed it out of there, I would have myself been gobbled down by Italian teeth.

When I soon realized that I was doing no good for my flock and putting myself in serious danger, I got far from there and fled here brought in a coffin to the holy monastery here where I was entombed and I pass the time with the holy abbot and the brotherhood under him.

They pray excessively night and day for your succor, and I add my own excessive prayers that you be strengthened in the Lord and that he shade your divine head on war days as well as for you to be girded with power from on high, so as to purge completely the enemy encircling your dominion and keep untrodden all your inheritance by the Italians as well as inspire fear always in them and strike them before they strike you. Your Lordship has no greater of us living here. Should a worn down person ravaged by all sorts of hard time leave here who is so unable to move that he is worthy of a couch and corner? Being in this condition, believe me that even if because of your love of God to took to traveling in a litter, I would be hard pressed to fulfill your order.

At the present time too, there are many things hindering me and especially preventing me from coming, which I will recount, so that Your Lordship may forgive our unwilling, one might say, disobedience. It’s like this. When I came here from Euboia, it happened that at the same time, the heads of Greece was gathering, who when they head of our migration, they became suspicious that I would head no where else than straight for Your Person’s land and they became so embittered, as passersby have made clear, that they were ready to a good deal of harm to my nephews traveling together and to the monastery that has received me. On this account my close of kin and the most holy abbot are afraid due this suspicion they should look to their own defense, since all of the barbarians are ready to impale them and do far worse thing out of only a suspicion as they have already posted agents not far from the monastery of Komnenos should I make a move for it, and thus reassured themselves of a possible stumbling block. Since things have gone this way, were I to follow your injunction to come there, I would be of no help to Your Person and become responsible for disaster for my next of kin and would also nevertheless create trouble for this monastery, returning their friendship to me and welcome with poor signs of gratitude having provided an excuse for perfidy against it to the Italians, who are ever hovering over it and thirsting for the slightest excuse at all to do damage to it.

Wary of all this, I have to remain here until God-willing I end the few, wearisome remaining days of my despondent life, though I am exasperated, believe me, that I cannot carry out the will of Your Person, to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for its kindness to me and its kind sympathy to Ligouros and its recalling me to the previous honor. You benevolent soul indeed has don a great deed worthy of itself. Either you have felt sympathy for a man who has stumbled or you have become an imitator of God who endures us sinners every day or innocently become the object of false slander and thus kept the holy commandment saying that, “You will not condemn an innocent and just person.” So please forgive me for our unwilling refusal to live here when your forgiving and kind person asked us to live in one of the monasteries under your control. Whatever you should do there, I pray excessively not only for you, but also with the most holy abbot and the sacred brotherhood under him making mention each day of Your Person as well as of your close of kin the founder.

Exert yourself then, follow the correct road, and become superior to anyone hostile to you, open or closed, oh adornment of the Komnenoi, glory of the Doukades, pride of the Romans. For all to see, I acknowledge through my present letter the greatness of Your Person (2). May the Lord be with you, championing, guarding, and preserving you from all evil accident.

  1. illusion to John 10:1-16 where Jesus compares himself to a shepherd that his flock knows and who looks after his flock in comparison to a hired laborer.

  2. This sentence resembles for some reason the formality of an imperial letter or chrysobull. A chrysobull began, “For all to see is set here our present pious seal.”