John Malalas

In the sixth century, the Byzantine chronicler John Malalas composed a history of the world from the Biblical story of creation to the author’s own day. The largest narrative unit within this Chronicle was a retelling of the Trojan War. For the most part, Malalas narrated his account within the generic constraints of traditional Byzantine historiography. He also, however, adopted styles from other more literary genres: the allegory and the novel. He thus introduced into the Byzantine tradition of the Trojan War new modes of narration which would be more fully developed by subsequent authors. With Malalas as his source, the twelfth-century grammarian John Tzetzes, for instance, wrote his Allegories of the Iliad, which rendered the story entirely as allegory, while Tzetzes’ contemporary Constantine Manasses and the later anonymous author of The Byzantine Iliad narrated the Trojan War as a novel or medieval romance. Comparing the later works to their sources and examining the contexts in which they were produced demonstrates how the mutability of genre and aesthetics made the Trojan War a subject that could be continuously reshaped to suit the ideology of the times.

John Malalas, sometimes spelled Malelas (Greek: Ἰωάννης Μαλάλας, Iōánnēs Malálas; c. 491 – 578), was a Greek chronicler from Antioch.
The name Malalas is first applied to him by John of Damascus. The form Malelas is later, first appearing in Constantine VII.  Many Greeks have non-greek names until today, Surnames in Greece sometimes are just  "a nickname" and pass to the next generations as a surname, it has nothing to do with the origins of the person.

Malalas was educated in Antioch, and probably was a jurist there, but moved to Constantinople at some point in Justinian I's reign (perhaps after the Persian sack of Antioch in 540); all we know of his travels from his own hand are visits to Thessalonica and Paneas

He wrote a Chronographia (Χρονογραφία) in 18 books, the beginning and the end of which are lost. In its present state it begins with the mythical history of Egypt and ends with the expedition to Roman Africa under the tribune Marcianus, Justinian's nephew, in 563 (his editor Thurn believes it originally ended with Justinian's death); it is focused largely on Antioch and (in the later books) Constantinople. Except for the history of Justinian and his immediate predecessors, it possesses little historical value; the author, "relying on Eusebius of Caesarea and other compilers, confidently strung together myths, biblical stories, and real history." The eighteenth book, dealing with Justinian's reign, is well acquainted with, and colored by, official propaganda. The writer is a supporter of Church and State, an upholder of monarchical principles. (However, the theory identifying him with the patriarch John Scholasticus is almost certainly incorrect.)

He used several sources (for example Eustathius of Epiphania and other unknown authors).

The work is important as the first surviving example of a chronicle written not for the learned but for the instruction of the monks and the common people, and its language shows a compromise with the spoken language of the day, although "it is still very much a written style. In particular, he employs technical terminology and bureaucratic clichés incessantly, and, in a period of transition from Latin to Greek governmental terminology, still uses the Latin loanwords alongside their Greek replacements.... The overall impression created by Malálas's style is one of simplicity, reflecting a desire for the straightforward communication of information in the written language of everyday business as it had evolved under the influence of spoken Greek."

It obtained great popularity, and was used by various writers until the ninth century; it was translated into Slavic probably in the tenth century, and parts of it were used for the Old Russian Primary Chronicle. It is preserved in an abridged form in a single manuscript now at Oxford, as well as in various fragments.


Thurn, Ioannis Malalae Chronographia
Sameh Farouk Soliman. «Center of Hellinic Studies, Harvard Univercity».
Geoffrey Horrocks, Greek: A History of the Language and its Speakers (Longman Linguistics Library, 1997: ISBN 0582307090), p. 180.
Thurn, Ioannis Malalae Chronographia, σελ. 2.
Warren Treadgold, A History of Byzantine State and Society (Stanford University Press, 1997: ISBN 0-8047-2421-0), p. 267.
Horrocks, Greek, σελ. 179-81, q.v. για λεπτομέρεις λεκτικών και συντακτικών όρων; δες επίσης σελ. 181-82 για κείμενο του Μαλάλα με μεταφράσεις που δείχνουν πώς θα ακούγονταν τα γραπτά του στην καθομιλουμένη Ελληνική της εποχής του (αγγλικά).
Oleg Tvorogov, Хроника Иоанна Малалы.
Catholic Encyclopedia (1910 ed.), John Malalas
Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Malalas, John". Encyclopædia Britannica. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
E. Jeffreys, B. Croke, and R. Scott (eds.), Studies in John Malalas (Sydney: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, 1990) (Byzantina Australiensia, 6), pp. 1–25. 
David Woods, "Malalas, Constantius, and a Church-inscription from Antioch," Vigiliae Christianae, 59,1 (2005), pp. 54–62. 
J. H. W. G. Liebeschuetz, "Malalas on Antioch," in Idem, Decline and Change in Late Antiquity: Religion, Barbarians and their Historiography (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2006) (Variorum Collected Studies).

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