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A Short Note on the 3rd Century AD Historian Dexippus

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A Short Note on the 3rd Century AD Historian Dexippus

Postby aloimonon » Sun Feb 24, 2008 8:07 pm

Dexippus is on of those historians whose works I wished had survived. Alas, only fragments remain. Previously I had thought that Photius (9th century) was the last known private individual to have read some of Dexippus' works, as I don't count the 10th century Exerpta made on order of the Emperor, because Dexippus' works were probably in the Imperial library until 1204 (and thus not available to the public). This translated letter by Tzetses available at the URL below to the Emperor in the 12th century disproves my previous guess and shows that Dexippus was still known, albeit *barely*, to those in the well-placed public who were interested in history:

Translated letter:
http://www.ancientworlds.net/aw/Post/1022182

A small except of Dexippus' _Skythika_:
http://www.ancientworlds.net/aw/Post/1018821

I guess that after 1204 it and other rare works were lost forever...I found the letter fascinating and I hope that some of you do as well. Hopefully I can find Tzetses' letters somewhere, preferably in translation.

A slightly longer translation of this letter was available on the BYZANS-L mailing list (since it is a public mailing list I hope I can copy and paste it here):

I, your unworthy servant salute your most mighty God-appointed Majesty, most mighty emperor, and I hope I may be the messenger of well-sent news for you from well-sent dreams if Your Majesty should accept the Scythian horse as your ally. For I, your majesty's unworthy servant "neither a prophet, nor diviner of augurs" nor an abbot, nor a priest, nor anyone else sharing the virtue, have had dreams, almost prophecies and oracles, where I sometimes know their meanings. I dream them not falling asleep not due to gluttony, drunken bouts, or in an queer state, but sober, abstinent from drink, and not sleeping at all. As many people know of our conduct and disposition, I shall now tell what happened to me Sunday last. Since I am accustomed to not hang about the markets or go about the thoroughfares, I went to bed to sleep though I could not sleep, since a cloud of flees greater than that immeasurable army of Xerxes were attacking me and assailing my defenses from all sides. I tossed and turned all night long assailed by this mal greater than the wheel of Ixion until the dawning day , when since I had not closed my eyes with the pain and since I was still not asleep, I decided to walk to the nearby market of Leomakellos and meet Basil, a goldsmith by trade, near the perfumer Stratonikos Kondos's workshop who I found reading a book. At first, I thought the book was some poor one or the Holy Bible but as I heard him reading, I said to him, "Kyrios Basil, that's not the Scythian Wars by Dexippus is it?" He said to me, "Yes", and I said, "And who gave you it?" He said to me, "The bull officer." There are two bull officers, the father Theodore by name and his son Constantine the deacon, so I decided it must have been the son who gave it to him. I was astonished threefold at this because such a little lettered man such as Basil having been educated only in his primary and elementary letters would read such a book and because I had thought he had lived many houses away but now lived close to Stratonicus's workshop, and also because it was a book I had wanted myself and the bull officer had given it to the said goldsmith. The book's binding was damaged and some of the pages looked as though they had been ravaged by fire. As I was saying, in spite of how the book is, it has good work inside with no care being shown for the pages and the binding. At any rate, I figured that it would benefit your Imperial Majesty to know that Basil the gold-smith your most mighty Imperial Majesty's, who previously used to frequent below Stratonikos's working gold receiving the Scythian horse in alliance with the bull officer, the general Theodore, or his eldest ordained son, Constantine, who seal and bind the things across from one another in the workshop of Kontos Stratonikos, that is to say with the help of God and the said saints receiving as another ally in gold the Scythian horse, you may shortly (kontos) and in brevity render victories. As an unworthy servant, friend of the emperor and a patriot, I wrote to you.
ἀλλ' ἔγωγε ἐξ αὐτῶν τούτων μᾶλλον αὐτὸν τεθαύμακα, ὅτι ἔν τε ἀλλοκότοις καὶ ἐν ἐξαισίοις πράγμασι αὐτός τε διεγένετο καὶ τὴν ἀρχὴν διεσώσατο. Dio LXXII 36.3
aloimonon
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Postby aloimonon » Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:38 am

I just wanted to mention that I found Tzetzes' letters online at google books:

http://books.google.com/books?id=2TEFWC ... t#PPA51,M1

If you would read to read the letter in question, go to page 51 (letter number νη). I could not find it in English translation, however. Perhaps someone in Greece has translated it to Modern Greek.
ἀλλ' ἔγωγε ἐξ αὐτῶν τούτων μᾶλλον αὐτὸν τεθαύμακα, ὅτι ἔν τε ἀλλοκότοις καὶ ἐν ἐξαισίοις πράγμασι αὐτός τε διεγένετο καὶ τὴν ἀρχὴν διεσώσατο. Dio LXXII 36.3
aloimonon
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Posts: 198
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 12:13 am
Location: Montreal, Canada


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