Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chrysostom on Antioch's Topography

I must confess to not being a fan of St John Chrysostom and I have avoided as much as possible the Christian Era in the city. However it does overlap with the period of Libanius (who was a tutor of Chrysostom). 

I have been waiting a long time to get my hands on Wendy Mayer's article on the theme of Antioch's topography as evidenced through the writings of the Bishop and it has now popped up on and is well worth reading. 

In it she scours the homilies and letters for references to various features of the city. While the martyria do not interest us the mention of features of the city, particularly within the walls do provide some useful insights:

"In regard to the civic data, the prison is said to be located within the city walls and we are told that one passes through the agora from the dikasterion en route to it. The agora is a focal point of civic and festival activity, lit well into the night and traversed by vehicular as well as foot traffic. Passing through the agora is required of John when he presides at one of the city's churches. A dikasterion is closely associated with the agora. An execution site (barathron) exists to which the condemned are led through the agora. This raises the question: to what extent is the agora used as a route because of its location (necessity) and to what extent because it is central to the life of the city (symbolic) or offers the greatest number of spectators (opportunity for public display)?" 

Then further along Dr Mayer notes:

"Additional civic data includes the information that baths are located inside the city within walking distance of the prison. These were closed by imperial decree for a number of weeks in Lent 387.  A theatre was closed by imperial decree at this same period. A theatre is also said to be situated at a lower level than one of the regularly used churches. Taverns are situated on the route back from a suburban martyrium. It is uncertain whether these are situated inside or outside the city walls. 

A number of statements are made about the river Orontes. It was used as a substitute baths during Lent 387, after baths were closed by imperial decree. At that time, men and women bathed in the river together. It was used for the disposal of illegal items in the winter of 371/2, and it was bracketed on at least one side by gardens when one travelled on route back to the city from one of the martyria". 

A dikasterion is a law court. I have referred to these before with reference to the water-clock

While this may seem like thin gruel on the agora, it is more information than anyone else has recorded on this important civic venue as it to pertains to Antioch. So we have something to thank Chrysostom for!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Two More Inscriptions

I stumbled upon another two... also discoveries by Richard Foerster, but one notably was sourced by him from the mysterious Sr Toselli...


ANTIOCHIA Syriae (p. 973).

1416514 Antiochiae rep. a. 1888 a Tosellio prope mosceam maximam,

nunc ibi in curte coenobii Franciscanorum.


R. Foerster Jahrb. d. deutsch. archaeol. Instituts 1898 p. 191.

Inscriptionem cum reperiretur septem vel octo versuum fuisse a Tosellio audivit Foerster.


1416515 Antiochiae auf einem Pflasterstein des Wegs, der zurn Serail




R. Foerster Jahrb. d. deutsch. arch. Instituts 1 898 p. 191.

2 F litteram incertam esse significat editor.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Waldemar Ceran - Poland's Antiochiologist

Recently in my hunt for new sources of research on Antioch, I stumbled upon the existence of a body of works in Eastern Europe that were seldom quoted by Western scholars, presumably due to language issues. The most prominent scholar in recent times was Professor Waldemar Ceran. He was an eminent Polish academic with a focus on Byzantium. He was born in Lodz in 1936 and died on the 20th June 2009.

Interestingly his work was not only in Polish, but also in French. His most important contribution to the Antioch oeuvre was Byzantina Lodziensia XVIII: Artisans et commercants a Antioche et leur rang social, Wydawnictwo: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego ISBN: 978-83-7969-071-8. I shall be focusing on this work anon in a standalone posting. 

Professor Ceran was, for many years, the director of the Department, then the Chair of Byzantine History, at the University of Łódź – the first, and largest, of such academic units in Poland. Throughout his long academic career, he held a number of roles, amongst which he was the director of the Institute of History, University of Łódź, as well as the president (subsequently honorary president) of the Commission of Byzantine Studies at the Committee of Ancient Culture, Polish Academy of Sciences (the Polish national committee of the Association Internationale des Études Byzantines). He began his studies as a student, and then became a close collaborator, of Professor Halina Evert-Kappesowa, the doyen of Byzantine studies in Łódź. He received substantial specialized training from such noted foreign scholars in the field such as Professor Paul Lemerle and Professor Nina V. Pigulevskaya. 

Professor Ceran specialized in the history of Antioch during Late Antiquity, the relations between the Church and the Byzantine state as well as the history of the Mount Athos monasteries. He was an indefatigable propagator of ancient and medieval history (especially of the Byzantine Empire). Thus, the decision to name the newly founded Waldemar Ceran Research Centre for the History and Culture of the Mediterranean Area and South-East Europe after him seemed fitting to the founding members. The creation of the Ceraneum in a way fulfills the aspirations of Professor Ceran himself. He devoted all his life to developing the Byzantine studies community in Poland and popularizing the research on the history of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Some of his other works with Antiochene focus:

„Emporoi” we wczesnobizantyńskiej Antiochii, „Acta Universitatis Lodziensis. Folia Historica” 23, 1986, s. 17-28.

„Basileia” i „patris” w ujęciu Antiocheńczyków okresu wczesnobizantyńskiego, [w:] Pamiętnik XV Powszechnego Zjazdu Historyków Polskich, Gdańsk-Toruń: Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek 1995, t. I, cz. 1, s. 107-116.

Libanius et Jean Chrysostome – deux attitudes envers la centralisation et la bureaucratisation de l’Empire byzantin au IVe siecle, [in:] Mélanges d’histoire byzantine offerts a Oktawiusz Jurewicz a l’occasion de son soixante-dixieme anniversaire, Byzantina Lodziensia III, Łódź: Wydawnictwo Uniwerstytetu Łódzkiego 1998, s. 29-42.