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The Letter of Aristotle the Philosopher, translated from Greek into Syriac by the most ex-

cellent Mr Sargs the Elder of R Ain

Preface [107v] The letter composed by Aristotle the philosopher for Alexander the King

on the knowledge of the things that exist,1 which you, the elect,2 have have sent me and

1. '()*" ,). Sergius has not translated

The short title of the work in Syriac is !"
the title as we know it even semi-literally. There are several words that in Syriac mean
world in some sense or other, such as ,/3, '("23, '(./01, !-.) (as we will see,
'2-) is reserved for ), and words that mean order, arrangement (i.e.
in its etymological sense), such as 5/678 and the more naturalized '967:; from
ist mit Absicht
Greek , but as Ryssel (1880: 7 n. a) rightly explains, Das Wort !"
fr das griechische gewhlt, weil die syrischen Ausdrcke, wie !-.), '("23
nicht den metaphysischen Begriff von wiedergeben; on the word !" we may
compare the subtitle of Jacob of Edessas Hexaemeron (Chabot 1928: 2), where the word
is described as '("<3?=! , the structure of created things. Not surprisingly,
however, is in this text generally translated by !-.), including in the significant
place where the author defines the term at the beginning of chapter two (108v6). Syriac
expressions for the universe, which is what means in the title, are !.@ (SG
217) and the very common ,@ !A( e.g. in Jacob of Edessas Hexaemeron [Chabot
1928: 77b4]; cf. Renan 1852b: 320 n. 3). The Greek Fremdwort 9-C9? occurs but
rarelyanywhere other than that of Barhebraeus BkAsc 12.14 (!-D91 E"("
(/@ 9-C9? 2:=? G"E." 2:=?(' /./.H<I '9J/:D G"=( /3! /A2/LC
M/0N ,@ !A, there is a spherical mass between two parallel planes, the center of which
is the cosmos, or universe) cited at LS 680a?as does the denominal verb 5-6?;
Sokoloff (DJPA 478) cites from a JPA poem the word . See further remarks on
the title below.
2. This is not an official title, but rather a term of Christian kinship, O elect one. It
occurs also in The Chronicle of Joshua the Stylite (Wright 1882: 20.11-12 [Syriac text]):
!A9Q3 !=Q/6;
9/01' 9H 'EH@* , with God as my helper by the
assistance of your prayers, elect one. LS 100b cites the latter along with this line from
De Mundo. It cannot be said with certainty to whom Sergius addresses this preface, or
who the one who asked for this Syriac version of the De Mundo is. Renan (1852: 26,
1852b: 321) without justification claims that the preface is addressed to Theodore and
Wright (1872: 1157), following Renan, says that the work was translated for Theodore,
but this is simply not certain; it may well be that this Theodore is the addressee but he is
not explicitly named, in contrast, for example, to Sergius translation of Galens De
Simplicibus (Merx 1885: 244, 272, 286). On the identity of this Theodore see the
commanded3 that I translate4 according to my ability from Greek speech to the language

of the Syrians,5 I have received whence you sent it.6 I have, though, been hindered7 from

3. Cf. also your commands (T/A*?9I) at 107v36 and your command (TA*?9I) at
108 2. Sergius composed his preface to the translation along the same lines as other
prefaces in Syriac literature and he includes in it the common themes of an order or
request to undertake a project (Riad 1988: 191-196) and mention of his own humility (!H
9./J; (3 !/H*) 9/01 U/C at 108r9-11; cf. Riad 1988: 197-202).

4. The verb ,0 " has the meaning to translate only in Syriac and JPA (DJPA 234a)
among the Aramaic dialects.
5. Note the stylistic variation between the names of these languages (!/A9" !..-; G;
!/"Y9C=! Z.H). Sergius uses the same expression in one of the prefaces to De Simpicibus
(Merx 1885: 248), but the opposite noun-language combination (!/A9" !=ZH G;[! ZL;
!/"Y9C! ..--H) when referring to his translation of Dionysius the Areopagite (SpirLife

The expression is *D 2@ G;. BB 915 defines 2@ with ' &$ "!and !7", all three
words meaning where, and as an alternate meaning, with G7" how. The expression
2@, which interests us more directly, occurs in one ms. of BB (see 916 n. 1): \2D 2@
- () *$"!
and here it is merely the relative where. In line with these definitions 2@ G;
can mean whence but also, in a temporal sphere, from the time that, as soon as.
Since the latter is at least literally impossible in this sentence, the former meaning best
fits here.
7. This word ((/=]3 )is somewhat of an enigma. The verb G]3 means to complain
and in the pael to appeal to. Audo 58 gives a form G]
but offers no definition, i.e.

he simply takes it as a passive of G] which he defines with G]3
3, \2? .) * .!D
i.e. to cry out; to contend; to contend; to appeal; to bring suit, complain; to
G8 ,0 ? .MA,
murmur. The meaning from context is almost certainly, I have been hindered from the
work up to now for many reasons... As to the form, why is there a yod before the tw?
The first person perfect is vocalized !# $ (kebe) in West Syriac and " % " ' (keb) in East
Syriac. Nldeke (SG 47) wonders whether the western form should actually be
pronounced keb too. In the same paragraph he also notes that R.D and (D sometimes
appear in old mss. as ,/D and (/D. Brock (2003: 100) has noted that this orthography
with yod for the first person perfect is common in medieval Melkite manuscripts.
According to Brock, mss. of the sixth century have the earliest examples of this
phenomenon. Our example here certainly deserves to be named as another early

This sentence under discussion and also b8(' /A<N' c/]C G@9Q; GI
the work until now for various reasons, which it is not now time to mention. But now,8

since it is necessary, I have decided to fulfill your commands. Even though many other

important things have been preventing me, [108r] I have let them all go for the sake of

your command for me and have taken pains to accomplish9 your will. But I urge you,

dear sir, that if another copy10 of this letter is found, in which is anything more or less,11

eH a couple of lines following bring up possible excuses Sergius might claim for not
getting the project finished more quickly. We find examples of this literary tactic
elsewhere, e.g. at the beginning of Thomas of Margas Book of Governors: ,@ G"! A
:(" 91(; R.; 989"E3 G; !D! H :20)! A=! 3f3 (/;! H !A T6/LH E.@

G/H! 3<D ,) 'eH( /H G"! D( Bedjan 1901: 2); I have not devoted myself to all
this persuading of yours in the time that is past, but have been taking refuge now in the
unlearnedness of my words, now that there is no necessity for these narratives.
8. Anaphora with the word now.
9. We note the similarity of sound and meaning between 9/.-Z-H here and 9-.Z-H
fulfill above.
10.This apparently refers to another exemplar of the Greek text. Contrast Sergius
humility here, admittedly a literary topos, with Patriarch Timothy Is (d. 823) obvious
confidence with reference to his parthe did not do it alonein bringing Aristotles
Topika from Syriac into Arabic (Pognon 1903: xvii and Brock 1999, esp. p. 236).
11. This does not mean more or less with less meaning deficientotherwise,
Sergius would not worry about his patrons censure toward his translation abilitybut
means simply different (than mine). Note that more or less is usually merely 2"("
2"e3 or 2/6N 2"(" (cf. also from BkLaws 595.10-11 ,/.? 2"e3 ,/.? 2"(") without a
conjunction, not 2"e3 2"(", which we have here, although the similar 2/6N 2"("
occurs in the early (243 C.E.) deed of sale from Dura Europus (most conveniently
accessible in Muraoka 2005: 7*-10*). Later in the De Mundo (111v4) we do find simply
2/6N 2"(".

please, elect one, do not blame our weakness:12 that which I have found13 in the copy that

was sent from you, dear sir, I have taken care to preserve completely, neither adding any-

thing to those things written here by the philosopher, nor on the other hand taking away

from them according to my ability.14

The Letter that Aristotle sent to Alexander on the knowledge of the things that exist.15

12. Similarly, Sergius says of his translation of Dionysius that it was completed 9LH
R)*; 9./J; (SpirLife 114.6), according to the weakness of my intellect, and he
hopes that it will succeed despite G." 98
(ibid. 121.4-5), our ignorance. This
extreme humility-theme is a literary topos of prefaces. George, Bishop of the Arabs,
even uses it in a word play: 9./J-H ,/J; *Q; ( Ryssel 1893: 3), that he [sc.

God] will assist and strengthen my weakness.
13. There is perhaps a word play here ((J7D )with g@(Z; above.

14. Sergius brackets his preface with this expression here and above at 107v26
(inclusio). He uses similar expressions elsewhere, e.g. ("e; ;! T"( SpirLife
115.2), and 2; G./N T" @=! G/H! H( ibid. 115.6).

15. See the Introduction for discussion of the Greek title. The title of the work in Arabic
is 1
G0-F 1@;BD0
C0-B0 A ?@?!1>=
;< :89/
67 50 4!0-3)2/
10-/ The Letter of Aristotle to
Alexander on the Description of the Order of the World, known as the Golden [Letter].
Bos (1991: 313) mentions only the Armenian tradition and Stobaeus for a Letter to
Alexander and is apparently unaware of these Syriac and Arabic titles. Similarly, but
not in exact agreement, in Hebrew the work is called ( Book of the
Golden House), because our text was presumably sent by Aristotle to Alexander in
response to the latters letter praising the golden ornaments of a magnificent house in
India (see Stern 1964: 189-190 and Stern 1965). The interesting story of Alexanders
coming upon this house is recorded in the Syriac version of Pseudo-Callisthenes History
of Alexander the Great (Budge 1889: 181-182 [Syriac text]):
\ 98 R]C .G/:; *N \98
G; G; .T0.-H [*I \@(' E=;

*@ .G/;' c; ! .7" E; .'* /0) *N !.7"\ 98 ED ,) .'

(' .ZD E.?(; '
' .\ 2/C !3*\ N '(.ZD .2; R]C ("fN
9QA G;(H 9./N U) !A .(L-H !.7"[* )! I .\<:/H 'c;(H
I gave orders to set out from that place and from there we reached the foot of a
certain mountain that was very high. At its top a temple had been built, the height
of which was one hundred cubits. When I saw it, I was quite struck. There was a
Chapter one

[391a] Many times while thinking16 [about it], Alexander,17 it has seemed to me

chain of gold around it and the weight of the chain was three hundred pounds. I
gave orders to open the gate of the temple that I and my soldiers might enter.
The narrative goes on to mention golden windows ( G"E"("! 3 EH *"<N

a golden altar ('* /0)
!3* N !J3*; !.7"E3 E3), golden lamps (!3! 1<D
G"E/.)), a golden couch (
G/-/C !-/C !3*\ N !C2) !.7"E3 E3 )on which
lay Dionysius, and that the temple itself was actually made of gold (E3 !39[H
' !3 E.@ !.7" G"fN .G=32? '(/3). These connection between Alexanders
impressions of the house of gold in India and Aristotles letter is made very explicit in the
Arabic tradition (from ms. F, text in Brafman 79; cf. also 118-119 for ms. K and
Mads description):
U8XYT/-; A(' V U?67 -T!F -R!; :(-S :8R0 PQF MN -D0 :89/67 67 -K& A(G0 J!HF JD!/
-=?' X" 'V )H]2& '!=X]=TD0 -R!; UD]B& 10-/@0 GRF UF-N-; @H\F 4!0-3)2/ 50 ATZ
A(G0 J!F ' >)V U8XYT/ -V &=)-V C0-B0
It [the letter] was also called The Golden House because when Alexander
entered India he saw in it a house furnished with gold and he found pleasure in it.
He wrote to Aristotle about it and he [Aristotle] answered with this letter,
instructing in it that philosophers seek the beauty of the worlds arrangement, a
thing higher than that which in which he had found pleasure from the forms of the
golden house.
As for the Hebrew title of the work, in a letter to Samuel ibn Tibbon, Maimonides calls
the Book of the Golden House a false attribution to Aristotle. This Hebrew title is
certainly based on the Arabic description -K& A(G0 J!HF J!D/ above. The Arabic original
of Maimonides letter is lost but two Hebrew translations exist. The relevant portion
from the Constantinople ms. reads:
( Marx 1935: 378). The same section
in the Adler ms., published parallel with the version above, is worded differently but the
same meaning is clear.
16. There is no corresponding part to this in Lorimers Greek text, nor is it necessary for
the sense; it merely brings the author more into focus as the actor, though he is not the
main subject of the sentence. A Greek is, however, far from inconceivable
here; Lorimer in his apparatus correctly cites for this reading both the Syriac and
Apuleius (Consideranti).
17.Sergius employs a distinct form for the vocative (\=*67H) , as
opposed to =*67H( at 107v23, also in the title, 108r22, which is not necessarily
that philosophy really is something divine and lofty,18 especially in those cases where it

alone has been exalted to the spectacle of all that exists, because it has taken pains19 to

apprehend the truth that is in them, and although various arts20 have distanced themselves

from this [spectacle] on account of the height and greatness of the matter, it alone [i.e.

philosophy] was not afraid of it.21 Nor has it reckoned itself unequal to excellence like

this but has even considered the knowledge of these things as something quite kindred

and fitting for it[self]. And since it was not possible with this heavy22 body to reach the

Sergius), which corresponds to the name in other cases.

18. A suitable rendering of , especially considering that would
be very hard to render with a Syriac word other than !"EH, which was not available
since Sergius had just used it for .

19. Sergius also used this verb in the preface (108r14, translated I have taken care).

20. The Greek text has only . Sergius supplies '9=; or, rather unlikely,
read . Lorimer does not cite the Syriac or any other witness for this reading. Not
surprisingly, the Arabic F follows the Syriac (Brafman 79): -a-8`0
!_ DN
. Interestingly,
Furley (1955: 345) translated the Greek, the other sciences!
21. This first sentence is one of the more complicated ones in the entire treatise, much of
which is composed in a straightforward and simple, yet for scientific literature high, style.
The only thorough treatment of the Greek style of the De Mundo is Schenkeveld 1991,
but a beginning had been made in Barnes 1977 (cf. R&B 167-170). There are comments
of value also in Festugire 1949: 489-491, Rudberg 1953 (esp. pp. 10-12), and Blomquist
1969, despite the fact that the De Mundo is not cited there in the index locorum. In many
ways Dennistons description of early Ionic prose also fits the language of the De Mundo:
The language is throughout poetical, consciously exalted to the level of an exalted
theme, and it abounds in curious compounds and other new formations (Denniston
1952: 2).
22. This word (!/0)) has no corresponding word in the Greek text. Sergius uses this
word to make it clear why it is impossible (to reach the
heavenly place), viz. because the body is too heavy to rise heavenward. The Arabic
versions similarly have: F M!de0
;< -c0 CXc0
-F (Brafman 80), with the coarse, heavy body
[jasad], K M!de0
;< -c0 :Xc0
( Brafman 120), the coarse, heavy body [jism], and Y CXc0

heavenly realm and leave this earth, to ascend and see that realm,23 as the senseless

Aloadai24 once considered doing. On account of this the soul, because it took25 philoso-

phy as its26 helper,27 crossed over in its mind28 and departed, there being found for it a

path without toil. And these things quite far away from each other it [philosophy] within

its thought has gathered together and embraced,29 and easily, as it seems to me, under-

stood those things since they are kindred to it. And with the divine eye of the soul30 it has

</-c0 f!]g0( Brafman 136), the thick, solid body [jism].

23. For Greek , that heavenly region, the Syriac omits the
adjective and renders with the same word it used to render a few
words previous. Strohm 274: ...strt in dieser gepflegten Sprache nach das gleich
folgende (cf. Ryssel 1880: 7 n. 2).

24.For (Iliad 5.385-386, Odyssey 11.305-310) as examples and for the use of
in philosophical literature see Strohm 274-275.

25. * /3 followed by the verb ((06A) here renders a Greek participle (), the main
verbs ( ) being translated by perfects ((?fN...20)). The
following participle (), however, Sergius translates by *@ and the perfect (SG
262) to correspond to the aorist participle referring to activity antecedent to that of the
main verbs. The difference is merely stylistic.
26. as dative of advantage.
Taking EH

27. I have taken the word as a feminine active participle \)*, modifying '9I96./I, but

the noun \ )*is also possible. The choice does not change the translation.

This word (EAE3) is out of place. We expect to see it rather with (06A than 20).
In the Greek text (!A )is the object of , whereas in the Syriac version it is
part of a prepositional phrase modifying 20).

29. These two verbs together render the single Greek word , the Syriac
therefore clearly agreeing with this reading Lorimer chose rather than the variant
, preferred by Strohm (275)who calls it a Lieblingsausdruck Plutarchs
on lexicostylistic grounds.
30. The expression is inspired by Plato (see R&B 247 for references).
seen divine things and narrated31 them to mankind. Now this happened because it was

able through its goodness to give to mankind of its valuable goods.

Because32 of this, therefore, those who describe for us with great pains the nature

of a place, the form of a city, the size of a certain river,33 or [108v] the beauty of some

mountain, as some have already done, some writing about what is called Ossa, others

about Nyssa, others still about the temple34 which is called Corcyran, and others again

about something else of the things in the world, these it is not right to marvel at, but

rather to pity35 their senselessness, as they have marveled at the things here and had big

31. Sergius renders , not with R0A, this Greek words usual rendering in
the Bible, but with (/)(D. Perhaps he wants to distinguish prophesy in the biblical
sense from that used here, to interpret, announce as an intermediary in a meaning,
however, no less religious (cf. LSJ 1539-1540, R&B 247-248).
32. I have tried to carry into English the complexity of this sentence in Syriac (as in the
Greek) while still expressing its meaning clearly. There is a major stop here in the Syriac
text but there does not seem to be one in the Greek.
33. 'YEA G; *N equals simply . The fact that the Syriac word 'YEA is plural
does not, contra Lorimer (see his apparatus), make it probable that Sergius had before
him : the expression 'YEA G; *N simply underlines the indefiniteness. Sergius
makes the indefiniteness of this and the following nouns clear by various means. The
adjective one is present in the Greek text only with and and Sergius has it
in these places in the Syriac version too.
34. How does becomes a temple in the Syriac version? Caves were
not infrequently considered as a kind of holy place. See, for example, the first several
paragraphs of Porphyrys De antro nympharum. The particular cave mentioned here,
located at Mt. Parnassus, was sacred to the nymphs and to Pan (Pausanias 10.32.2-7,
R&B: 249).
35. On the bare infinitive of obligation without (" see SG 286 (p. 226) and the
additional note thereto on p. 358. Alternatively we are merely to assume again. In
either case with the infinitive renders the Greek potential optative ( ).

thoughts about themselves36 on account of small sights.37 This happened to them because

they were not watchers of excellent things, that is [watchers] of the world and of the great

things in the world: had they grasped the knowledge of these things, then [391b] they

would not have marveled at any of the other things, but they [the things] would have

seemed small to them and not worthy of anything38 in comparison with the excellence of

the former. Let us then speak39 now and, as we are able, deal theologically40 with all

36. Sergius has properly rendered this Greek idiom reflexively (cf. LSJ s.v.
37. Greek singular, but Syriac plural. To indicate the singular, though, the Syriac
orthography would be different only by omission of the sym. It is unclear why Sergius
or some later copyist would have felt the need to have these words in the plural rather
than the singular.
38. The Greek sentence is:
, , For if
they once genuinely gave their attention to these things, they would never wonder at any
other; everything else would appear small and worthless (Furley 1955: 347). The aorist
participle with (Goodwin 1896: 215, Smyth 1848) here represents an
aorist indicative with (Smyth 1784) for past potentiality and the imperfect
indicates unreality (Goodwin 1896: 243, Smyth 1786). As is
frequently the case 9H is here followed by the perfect (SG 375A and Griss 2 428a).

39. For this Greek hortatory subjunctive () we would generally expect a Syriac
imperfect, 2;cA (cf. the Greek and Syriac of, e.g. Matt. 21:38 and 26:46), rather than the
participle G="2;, but a modal quality does sometimes appear with the participle in Syriac
(SG 276). The examples Nldeke gives for this do not strictly match ours here, but it
does not take much to move from those usages to this one. The Arabic versions too,
following the Syriac, have a bare participle: F )0-d;' Y* -V( Brafman 81) and Y 67' Y*
&])-h (Brafman 137).
40. Ryssel (11 n. b) remarks, ...war es dem christlichen Syrer unverstndlich, dass man
die Behandlung solcher rein metaphysischer Fragen als ein Reden ber gttliche Dinge
bezeichnen konnte. Whether that be the case or notit would be difficult to prove
either way, it is the exact meaning of mLA that here concerns us. The verb G=/[LA is here
used in a sense like to mention, repeat (a word) (LS 439a ). This meaning is not very
common. PS (2420-2421) cites this occurrence without any discussion aside from
equating it with of the Greek text, but he does afterward cite some usages
moving in this direction: with !N to defend oneself, e.g. !N EH ' mLA (Wright
and McClean 1898: 3.23), RL.N !N mLA (Wright 1871: nC l. 17; Sergius himself uses
the idiom at SpirLife 122.1), and !N23 9I answer! (Wright 1869: 9=D l. 5).
Brockelmanns references are almost exclusively from the letters of Severus (Brooks
1902); I cannot find the occurrence of this word in BO given by Brooks as III.1, 292b or
by Brockelmann as III.1, 297a. Brockelmann seems to have copied the references from
Brooks (525) short vocabulary section of rare or difficult words and phrases (Brooks
1902: 2: xi). Because these few references from a single work make amply clear this
particular meaning of mLA I give them all together with Brooks English translation (Vol.
1 contains the Syriac text and the occurrence is cited according to page and line number;
vol. 2 has the English translation.):

'9="9J; 9H .R." !6H9? 9H </N G/."! A mLA*3 .'
! .7C ! A eH;(
(/). I am even compelled to become a fool by quoting words in my own

praise in order to show his disposition (1: 30.17, 2: 28).

!. ;
!.@963 E3 !H9I( .:; *@ (.:; mLA G/H T" .9/A9C9;. Muso-

nius...with regard to the same Paul made, sentence for sentence and word for word such
statements as these... (1:31.6, 2: 28).

193.17, introducing a quotation from Ignatius Eph. 5, 2"(" @(G"! /6I 9H *@

2 ; @* mLA EH *@ EH ("c./N. Again in writing to the Ephesians he expresses the same
thing in a more fearful form, saying... (1: 193.17, 2: 174).

mLA G/H G"@* . After I had given vent to these words (1: 251.16 [cited incorrectly
in LS as 251.10], 2: 224).
G/H ,:;(' .; 9I' 21\ E3 G; ("! 3 I should have wished to deal
with these matters in this letter also (1: 320.9, 2: 285).

RN23 (-)*3 .([L A G" G/H I have given vent to these utterances, because I have
grieved in my spirit... (1: 379.19, 2: 336)

'(0"(7H G/A@! ;( cH !A mLA G/=J3
G/." G; \*N ,@ *@ !H=! 7" Not
to prolong the letter by citing every one of the facts established by examination... (1:
423.8, 2: 375).
!=/]J; \2;c; '(/A<N( H ,) ! H ...but [he] also pronounces a festal dis-
m LA
course over three other women... (1: 469.1, 2: 414).
The translation of these letters from Greek into Syriac was made by Athanasius of Nisibis
in 669; the chief mss. are of the eighth century (Brooks 1902: 1: vii, 2: ix-xi; Wright
1872: 558ff.). The semantic development to go out > to utter, express, etc. is not
patent. Were the verb an afel (cf. Arabic : ;< >-V @i He vented that which was in his
bosom, or mind [Lane 718], Hebrew ) , it would be more easily
- 10 -
things that exist, how each and every one possesses nature41 and42 movement. It is fitting

also for you, as it seems to me, since you are the best of all leaders, that you become a

partner in the knowledge of great things,43 and that you keep in mind concerning philoso-

The Arabic versions have here (Y) '

!H*...<R0 PQ9F ...&])-h (Brafman 137) speaking
with divine expression [kalm]...and let us make clear... and (F) 'V )h l\]0 1>=
) ;< 0-d;
U]0 5]a< 8e&
( Brafman 81) speaking about the description of creation with speech
that praises God and making clear.... Here Y continues with a jussive (without a pre-
fixed )or a mere imperfect (cf. Blau 1966-67 172, 174), while F has a participle, like
the Syriac.

41. The Syriac version of Nicolaus Damascenus Compendium of Aristotelian Philosophy

(Drossaart Lulofs 1969: 66-67, [commentary] 114-118) includes a treatment of the
various meanings of !=/@.

42. The Syriac lacks any witness to , position, in the Greek text. The Syriac
translation would probably be !-/C (Hoffmann 1873: 193, LS 470b-471a). The Arabic
Y has @YT?
m!Z -R8V
: ": "1B!H3
-V (Brafman 137), what the nature of each one is and
how it moves, i.e. there is no there either, but F corresponds exactly to the
Greek: UTZ@ "UBq) p80' V 5S MZ @)(N (Brafman 81) the essence of each thing with
respect to its origin, position, and movement. What does this tell us about the
relationship of these texts? It is not unlikely that the Syriac Vorlage indeed originally
had position and at this point F was translated from it, but in another Syriac copy this
word had fallen out and from this copy the Arabic Y was made.
43. On the term (Syriac '()*"), cf. R&B 252, Il termine potrebbe essere
interpretato come un apprendimento progressivo, nellambito della filosofia attraverso
lascolto dellinsegnamento dei filosofi.
- 11 -
phy that it is no small thing,44 but rather that you extend your right hand45 with gifts like

these to the best men.

Chapter two

44. In the Greek text it is possible to understand ,

, ,
... in two ways, either by taking as dative with and therefore
the implicit subject of (so Furley 1955: 347, Strohm 240), or by understanding
as a dative of advantage/disadvantage (so Forster 1914 [no pag.], Festugire
1949: 461, Bos 1991: 314-315, R&B 177) or even an instrumental dative, Alexander still
being the subject of . Whichever of Alexander or philosophy is the subject of
is also the subject of the following infinitive, , and either would make
sense. Sergius translation clearly has Alexander as subject, and so the majority of
modern interpreters agree with him.
45. Brockelmann defines this idiom (T=/-" nD )to influence, to help (LS 310b), but
the meaning here, in accord with the context and the Greek
, to receive the best men with such gifts, seems to be to greet,
welcome, pace Ryssel (11 n. f), who is not sure a Syriac reader would have taken this
meaning from Sergius expression.
- 12 -
Now the world is a system46 of heaven and earth, and of the natures contained

within it. On the other hand, the term world (lm) is also used for47 the arrangement

and creation of everything that exists: that which is kept and sustained by God and on ac-

count of God. Now the center of this creation,48 that which is fixed and immovable,

46. The Greek term here, , Strohm (240) translates as Gefge, but offers no
explanation in his commentary. Similarly, R&B (252) hardly treat the term, except to say
that it is not unlike Aristotles in De Caelo 280a21. The term is presumably
straightforward enough in Greek. The first definition in LSJ (1735) fits well enough
here: whole compounded of several parts, and it is commonly used in later Greek with
just this meaning, referring to heaven and earth (Lampe 1350, s.v. mng. 1). Hoffmann
(1873: 205) cites !-"9? as a rendering of Greek (and ) in the Syriac
Aristotelian tradition, and we see an example of this in the Syriac Categories edited by
Gottheil (1893: 195.475-476): !/=/@ !-"9[3, which stands for the Greek
(9b17-18), where the phrase means natural constitution. Jacob of Edessa in
his Hexaemeron uses a phrase very similar to Sergius here: '(3! 3! A! -"9[H
'()e-3 G/H G"E.@ G; )! G;! /-D G;! J/0D 'E/;
(Chabot 1928:
46a27-31), this great and ornamented system, marvelous and glorious, that of heaven
and of earth, and of everything within; Emmanuel b. ahhr too uses the term in
reference to the world or universe (E.@ !-.)! -"9? [Manna 1901: 2 175]). Sergius
himself uses the term in a cosmological context in SpirLife (100.8 [!=/J ; !=LH9"

!="f ; !=/@ G; E-" 9? "(,
but Sherwoods French translation (1961: 139) is
faulty here; better would be, the quickening teaching, the structure of which is from
visible nature], 109.4-5, 110.1-2), and in a general sense in his preface to the translation
of book six of Galens De simplicibus (Merx 1885: 246): a teacher instructs his students
in the general principles so that they will possess the system of the skill (E-"9?
'9=; )that he is trying to impart. From an etymological angle, the Greek and
Syriac words correspond too, both being related to words for stand and exist.
47. The before !678 means about, i.e. [the term] lm is said also about the
arrangement and construction of all that exists. Ryssel (12-13 n. a) rightly expects ,)
here, but compares Hebrew ; Arabic <; -h could also have been mentioned.

48. The Greek has merely (sc. ), while the Syriac repeats the
equivalent !=? =( ) from the previous sentence. The essential structure
of this sentence is (:; !)cH !=?! A)( e;, the subject )(e; having a

descriptive relative clause ('(/=Q"! ;(H' 2Z; E"(" ) and the object

!)cH having a relative clause (G"YcI ,@ ("(/; E"(" )and a copulative appositional
clause ('(/=/32; 5=1 ,@' 9/N ;! 2/1 \ , cf. SG 213 on apposition)
separated by the verb. The Greek subject has become the object in the Syriac version, the
- 13 -
reaches to the earth, the producer of all fruits; for this is the mother of all kinds of life and

a nurse.49 That which is limited on the outside50 and above everything on all sides is51 the

dwelling of the gods and is called heaven, full of divine bodies (those which we custom-

arily call stars) and moving with an eternal movement52 in an orbit and circle, turning53

about with them in it unceasingly forever. Because the whole heaven and earth are a

sphere54 that moves, [109r] as I have said, continually, there are necessarily two points

Greek object the Syriac subject, but the meaning of the sentence has not changed.
49.'(/=/32; apparently stands for hearth, home, but the order of the
substantives is opposite the Greek order and the equivalence between these two words is
unexpected. Ryssel (12 n. 3) notes the possibility that it, with !;, translates ,
though would then remain untranslated.

50. Sergius strangely has this expression for . It is unclear why he

would have gone from above to outside on linguistic grounds. Perhaps a difference
of opinion in cosmology is the culprit.

51. is in apposition in Greek, but the Syriac has a complete statement

with "(.

52. The bare substantive ('(/"("' 9=Q" );(functions here adverbially (-)". This
matches the Greek ( ), and it is not infrequent in Syriac for words of
measurement (Ara 1: 248, SG 243), but not common for adverbial expressions of
manner (cf. SG 244).
53. The Greek word in Lorimers text is , dances in chorus with, but in
the apparatus he, apparently following Ryssel, cites witnesses for and Sergius
as probable among them. The Syriac word (TI);( matches neither of the two Greek
words more closely than the other. Ryssel (13 n. a) claims that the Syriac translation has
den einfacheren rather than the bildlichen Ausdrucks but gives no real evidence for
this assertion.
54. Sergius here has a noun instead of an adjective, i.e. !"2/LC or !/A2LC, which
would more closely follow the Greek . We find the latter Syriac form in the
Syriac version of Nicolaus Compendium: !0@9@ !/-D ! "(/A2/LC( Drossaart
Lulofs 1969: 87), Spherical are the heavens and the stars, and just after that, 2/1 !)

E"(" '(/A2/LC, For the earth is spherical. Such adjectival formations, often
appearing under Greek influence (e.g. found in translations), are very common in later
texts but already begin to appear in the fifth century (Brock 2003: 106-107, cf. Brock:
- 14 -
which do not move: let them be placed opposited each other, like a lathe which a sphere

turns on and is pulled:55 those [points] that remain in their places and hold the whole

sphere while the whole of its mass turns in a circle: these two points are called poles.56

In these let us imagine that a line57 is stretched from one to the other, that which some

[392a] call , that is, the axle (sarn):58 we mean that this line is the diameter59 of the

world, which is the center of the earth and its ends are these two poles.60 Of these two

1990: 325). See Evans 1998: 75-95 for the sphere in Greek astronomy.
55. There are two verbs here where the Greek has only one: . The latter
Syriac verb (\*]A(;) also occurs with 9A98 (Greek ) in a Syriac alchemical
text: G"*/]A 9AY9:3 T"<?! N des raies circulaires quon dirait faites au tour
(Duval 1893: 8.16 [Syriac text] and 16 [French translation]). This comparison, but with
reference to stars, appears also in Nicolaus Compendium (Drossaart Lulofs 1969: 84-85,
[commentary] 160-161).
56.Nicolaus Damascenus, according to the Syriac version of his Compendium, has
*"! /-D E@
9H9I G; ( "(Drossaart Lulofs 1969: 83), The length of the
heavens is that toward the poles.
57. While Sergius has !89C here, Jacob uses !89N for the lines that divide the earth into
regions (Chabot 1928: 64b).
58. Sergius includes here both the Greek word !=6@( ) as well as the native
Syriac term !A2C, just like Severus Sebokt in his work on the astrolabe:
!A2C <(/@ >96@ 2;( ;(Nau 1899: 84). As Elsas (1968: 76) remarks, Achse
scheint so ungebruchlich gewesen zu sein, da S.[ergius] seine bertragung nochmals in
einem Zusatz mit einem Synonym verdeutlichen zu mssen meinte....
59. Cf. for this word Barhebraeus definition in his BkAsc 4-5: \ "(9N 28E-"
G"(H' eH\ 9N 9H !I9 C E"Y(3 T"(6;
!]H9I 2:=? ,) 20)' e"! 89C

9].LA !"9D, The diameter of a circle is a straight line that crosses the center is
bounded at two ends on the circle, and it is has to divide it into equal halves. Also see
Severus Sebokt (Sachau 1870: 132.12-13, 18-19) for similar language. Both Severus and
Barhebraeus have the form ending in -on, while Sergius uses -os. The adverbial form of
the word (("2:;c" )even occurs in Severus (e.g. Sachau 1870: 130.9).

60. The demonstrative pronoun 9A functions like the Greek article (Smyth 1150) in
to make clear which noun is the predicate noun, namely

and 97C.

- 15 -
poles, which are without movement, one is visible to us, since it is above our heads61 in

the northern clime (and it is named the north pole), whereas the other is hidden beneath

the earth on the southern side and is called the anti-north.62

The substance of the heaven and the stars we call aether, not, as some think, be-

cause it is hot and glowing warm (because the word for glowing hot in Greek resem-

bles aether):63 these people are quite mistaken about its power, which is indeed far from

fire. Rather, it is called thus because it always runs quickly, going around in a circular

motion,64 being an element different, divine and inviolable,65 distinct from the four

61. Sergius clearly understands the participle in as a circumstantial

participle of cause. Nicolaus (Compendium [Drossaart Lulofs 1969: 82-83,
(commentary) 153]) too explicitly gives this description of the North pole as visible and
the South as invisible.
62.This translation is meant to clearly indicate the calque of , the earlier
north being .

63.That is, the word derives not from , to burn, but from , always to
run (Plato, Crat. 410b, Arist., De Caelo 270b22). This parenthetical statement is of
course not in the Greek. The Arabic F has -RHTpV
1!0 -!)*0 -F ART]D0
!@ r 67 (Brafman 82)
because aether and flaming are similar in Greek, and with different wording but the
same meaning in K and Y (Brafman 122 and 139).
64.Here Sergius makes the circular motion () very explicit with two
words: !@2@(; and \9J3. In the Greek text the notion of quickness (("cL"2N) is not
necessarily present.
65.The order of the Syriac is opposite that of the Greek. Sergius here (cf. Ryssel 15 n. c)
understands not as unmixed, pure (Furley 351, pure) but as untouched,
unhurt (LSJ 49), like Forster (indestructible), Strohm 240 (unvergnglich), and
R&B 179 (incorruttibile). Apuleius has genere divinum et inviolabile, like in order
and meaning to Sergius version. The Arabic versions expectedly follow the Syriac order
(Brafman 83, 122 and 139), but Y is worth quoting: 1BF 67' a -i <R0 4V-i 4d2/
:/-=0 -Xd2/
67( Brafman 139) and it is a fifth element, divine and apart from the four
corrupt elements. This Arabic version interests us for two reasons. First, we see a
Syriac loanword: Greek to !6@9:C( cf. this from Jacob b. akks Book of

Treasures: .!/=/@ M"(' C(D ("c"9C mZI( ; .!/A9" ! -D !6@9:C

- 16 -
customary elements.66 Now of the stars which are in it,67 some go around in a circular

pattern without wandering together with the whole heaven, possessing as they do the

same places,68 those stars in the middle of which is the circle named the life-bearing69 [the

\9A! /; !) .E"(" 2/1 !Q3[ Nau 1896: 291]) to 4d2/( not in
Fraenkel 1886), occurring here in both singular and plural; note the in Syriac but the
in Arabic. The Arabic K here uses 1B!H3
( Brafman 122) nature and F @N (Brafman 83)
a body. Second, the phrase 4V-i 4d2/ a fifth element is strikingly similar to
Apuleius elementum...numero quintum. Jacob of Edessa (Chabot 1928: 67a25-b5)
does not count aether as an additional element itself, but rather as a mixture of the two
elements of air and fire and devoid of any moisture.
66.The Greek text here has simply . Sergius fills out his version with
\*/), which can be translated by an adjective, e.g. regular, normal, customary (see
examples at PS 2826). This rendering comes close to Apuleius quattuorquae nota
sunt cunctis. F similarly has 1@;BD0 1BF67 G( (Brafman 83) these four generally
accepted [lit. known] (elements). Brafmans translation of the last word as perceptible
(172) misses the point.
67.We might expect G/Z/0N for the Greek participial adjective instead of
E3 (" 9A, as at 108v9-10 9]3 G/Z/0N=! /@ (, 391b10), at
109v13-15 !"
!-D9]H 9]3 EH M0N *@ (, 392a30), and at 110v12-13

\2/LC E.@ !Z/0N *@ (, 393a2), but the meaning here is hardly different;
Sergius merely hereby shows his freedom in the target language.
68. Nicolaus describes the fixed stars as follows: ("c"9D G"2/C @* .G/.D <G"! >0@9@
G/Q"( ;(Compendium, Drossaart Lulofs 1969: 85), But the stars are at rest; being held
fast, they move equally, that is, with the same proportion to each other in the circle of
heaven. Evans (1998: 247-250) offers a brief survey of the fixed stars in Greek
69. G/Q8
!/N is a calque of . G/Q8 of course frequently has an active sense (PS
1499, SG 280). The Arabic F !)Y0 MV- "5D/
G0&@ :T0( Brafman 83) and Y -DXD0
@ u:0
!)Y0 1]V-( "Brafman 139) have the same kind of loan translation as the Syriac. The
Greek Fremdwort 9[" occurs in later Syriac, e.g. in Barhebraeus BkAsc 12.15 (9"

!D9.;( /@ 9["( :=? , that is, the center of the zodiac, or signs) and

16.12 (!D9.; ()e;\ 9N (/@ 9?c"\ "=! "( 9N, the second circle is
the zodiac, or circle in the middle of the signs); PS 1097 cites the word from lexical
- 17 -
zodiac], set obliquely, girded, through those other circles named the tropics and divided

into twelve parts, which are the regions of the zodiacal signs. The others are called wan-

derers70 [planets], because they are disposed by nature to move unlike the first ones, and

that not in accordance with each other, but rather they move each in different circles,

[109v] so that of these circles one may be near to the earth,71 another higher up. Now the

multitude of those which go around without wandering is not discoverable to men,72 al-

though they move in one spot, that is on this side of the whole heaven,73 but the number

70. These stars, called !=/Q:;, contrast with those R/)98 !H above (109r20). This
terminology mirrors exactly Greek and . As the planets are
taken in both Greek and Syriac to be wanderers (, RQ8) in relation to the fixed
stars, before that planets in Akkadian were called bibbu wild sheep (Horowitz 1998:
153, Brown 2000: 57, CAD B 217-219). See Evans 1998: 289-403 for the history of
planetary theory to the Middle Ages.

71. The word order is odd here (E/@ @<b"2? 'EA !) 9H E=;=! 7"), perhaps
partly because of Sergius attempt to render all the parts of .

72. A similar adjectival phrase also occurs: !=@! ;(H unsearchable (LS 166b). A
Greek word similar to at Rom 11:33 ( ) is
rendered in the Syriac Bible M; !H MA. Cf. here Kayser 1889: 195.12-13: G; ,QH
!7C !H G/= ; ! Q/? G/H And
!H! 0@9@ E3 (" .!D9.; ,/.@ \2?(; .!"2/6)

above these [stars] is the tenth zone, which is called the circle of the zodiac, in which are
stars without number and without end.
73. Sergius has expanded the Greek text,
, to clarify the meaning. The last part of the sentence apparently
means something like that is, this side of the whole sky, but \ for is not
straightforward. It is very unlikely that Sergius could have misunderstood the Greek
word and there are Syriac words that would seemingly fit it better than \, e.g. !I
(LS 39a; cf. 155.23 \ RI) or !J:D (LS 772b), but note Jacob b. akks expression
for the spots on the moons surface: \E63 G"fN(;(' -@ G"' Y( Nau 1896:
295). F -
8!]?< T0 -DX0
UN 5]a : ":]F ;< has within a single zone upon the surface of the
heaven which faces us (Brafman 83, trans. p. 173), and similarly K )8c0 ;< : "lH3 <;
-8!]& G0( Brafman 122), and Y y]=0' V -8!]& G0 A*-c0 ;< :" x2/ <; (Brafman 139).
- 18 -
of those called wandering adds74 up to the number75 seven, these each moving in seven

circles set one after another, so that the one higher than the one next to it always happens

to be greater than the one beneath it, and the seven of them are one within another.

Everything then is encompassed by the sphere of the non-wandering stars. Now follow-

ing this in its position is the circle which is called76 Phaenon and likewise Kewan;77 and

74. We find regular Syriac mathematical terminology here in m. C (PS 2647), though I
wonder if, contrary to the diacritical point, we should read this as a participle rather than
a perfect, but F apparently read it as a perfect (-c? C]; has not exceeded).

75. The word !=/=-H should probably be read as singular. Different than either of these
readings, the Greek text has parts. The seven planets are elliptically referred to
merely by !Q0D (PS 4035; cf. Mandaic wb [MD 452] and also perhaps Montgomery
1913: 160 [text 8.11, but differently text 4.4 )] and that usage has perhaps
here appeared. Arabic F simply has the number seven here without a noun: :a -V-;
-c? C!@ ;]YTD0
( Brafman 83), and similarly K (Brafman 122) and Y (Brafman 139);
this text might easily have arisen from the number seven in Syriac, as number is

76.These names are preceded by ( corresponding to the genitive in the Greek text),
meaning, (the circle) of..., but I have left this element out of the translation because it
sounds too cumbersome in English.

77. This word is the native Aramaic name for the planet (cf. Amos 5:26 [Heb.
]in the Peshitta) < Akkadian Kaiamnu (for which see Gssmann 1950: 124,
Brown 2000: 56, and Mankowski 2000: 63-65), i.e. steady (CAD K 37-38, AHw 420;
in Gssmans words, Saturn ist der ,bestndige, weil er unter den Planeten am
wenigsten Anomalien aufweist (assidue ferri videtur). Aus diesem Grunde wurde er auch
Sonne genannt, und zwar Nachtsonne im Gegensatz zur Tagessonne), with m for [w] in
later dialects of Akkadian (GAG 31s). In Mandaic too we find kywn (MD 212, Drower
. (Is the occurrence of in Amos 5:26 due to the
1959: 226.1) and in Arabic ! )Z
association of almu [mul.gi6 (Gssmann 1950: 28-29)], black, and/or almu [an.dl],
image, with Kaiamnu [see Brown 2000: 69-70, who cites there the series AR-gud
from MSL XI, ed. M. Civil and E. Reiner, p. 40, l. 40]?) We find the Greek word 9A2?
for Saturn in Causa causarum (Kayser 1889: 195.8-9), Jacob b. akks Book of
Treasures (Nau 1896: 297-298), and Barhebraeus BkAsc 12.18, 13.15.
- 19 -
then after this comes that which is called Phaeton and Bel;78 and then after that the red

planet,79 which is named Heracles and Ares; and after this then the shining planet, which

some name holy Hermes,80 and some Apollo; and after this then is Kawkabta,81 which

78. The planet Jupiter is also called ,/0@9@ (e.g. BkLaws 591.3) in Syriac, with the word
star, planet tacked on to the front. Barhebraeus uses the Greek name for Jupiter, , at
BkAsc 13.16, as does Jacob b. akk (Nau 1896: 297). Jupiter is also byl in Mandaic
(MD 60, Drower 1959: 225.14) and, according to Epiphanius (Pan., ed. K. Holl, vol. 1, p.
211), in Hebrew.

79. Just as we say in English. In Akkadian one name for Mars was Pel red, but
another, similar in meaning to the Greek (fiery), was mulmakr fiery red star
(Brown 2000: 60, 69-70; Weidner 1914: 497-499; Gssmann 1950: 95, no. 255; CAD M/
I 138-139). Mars is in Hebrew too associated with redness: ( ab 156a(43) [in an
Aramaic context], Jast 17a). The color red was associated with Saturn in Mandaic,
however, e.g. kywn bwprh wswmq (Drower 1959: 226.1). The sun and moon are
elsewhere related to red, as the sun in ( BB 84a(16); DJBA 794a) and
the moon in the Bible, Joel 2:31:
( quoted at Acts 2:20).
While the Greek text of the De Mundo has the association of Mars with fire, there is no
such connection explicit in the Syriac text. How then do we explain -80 fiery in F
(Brafman 83)? It may be a native Arabic term, whether Greek-inspired (via Syriac?) or
not. Otherwise, red was understood as fiery red.
80.Sergius has the adjective holy modifying Hermes rather than in construct with
Hermes, which is what would equal the Greek (noted in Lorimers
81.On names of the planet in Syriac known some centuries after Sergius, cf. Kayser
1889: 195.4: ( /@ R:"2I( .3(' 0@9@ (the last word is Arabic ; (@see next
note). The amorous connotations of Venus were known among Syriac readers: '(Hf1

'(0@97H 9-/? '(/A T"?! 9Z3 \E6H when the moon is waning in the street
like a whore, they dedicate it to Venus (ES 2 458.1-2); for !?9D here cf. in JPA
(see AIOA 93 [<Akkadian suqqu] and DJPA 565), used both for real streets and also for
paths or places in the sky: In a discussion of comets and constellations Samuel says,
, Ber 13c(31), I know about the streets
of the sky like the streets of my town Nehardea; cf. also the phrase ><
[BR 432:10], streets of the firmament). For '(0@9@ as Venus in Aramaic, cf. BR 527:2
and Ber 2b(23) (DJPA 253b), and in Hebrew ( Jast 619a).

- 20 -
some call Belat,82 but others Hera. Above the circle of Hermes83 is the circle of the sun

and the last of all these on the bottom side is that of the moon, which the aether comes

next to at the top and is bounded there, as it encompasses within it the divine bodies and

the arrangement of their movement.84

82. The term (cf. LS 190b s.v. ;PS 541-542; in BB ~(@0-F @BD0 AZ)90 )occurs
frequently in BkLaws (583.20, 587.10, 588.8, 591.3, etc). The Akkadian word bltu
appears as blatu in Old and Middle Assyrian and Middle Babylonian (CAD B 187);
such a form may lie behind the Syriac word, but not necessarily, though, since the first
person suffix added to a feminine noun in -t makes the ending -a (see Ara 1: 83) in any
case. The Mandaiac name for Venus, lybt (MD 234-235, Drower 1959: 226.7), which
has been assumed to go back through Akkadian to Sumerian dil.bad (Pallis 1926: 35-36;
Gssman 1950: 35-43, no. 109; Brown 2000: 55) with the initial d taken by Mandaic
speakers to be the nota relationis, may simply be the same word as the Syriac with
metathesis of the b and l. Hesychius s.v. has: ,
. Also, in the list of Hebrew planet names Epiphanius gives for Venus
(Panarion, ed. K. Holl, vol. 1, p. 211). The former term is without doubt a
rendition of what we know as Arabic (@and the latter is most likely a relative of the
Mandaic name in question with for (the latter certainly pronounced [v], the former
possibly so, but the diphthong complicates the matter).

83. There is no reference to Hermes (=Mercury) here in the Greek text, but Lorimer
rightly notes this Syriac witness in the apparatus.
84. For convenience here is a list of the Greek names used here with the words Sergius
translates each of them with. Apuleius Latin renditions are given for comparison.
De Mundo Sergius Apuleius English
9=I Feno Saturn
9@ Saturnus
(I Faeton Jupiter
,/3 Iupiter
![;9C Pyrois Mars
5/.? Hercules
5" Mars
20; Stilbon Mercury
5/;! Z"*?
- 21 -
After, then, this nature of aetherabout which we said that it is divine and in or-

der,85 without change, transformation,86 and sensationcomes that which is in everything

liable to feeling, and in a word, corruptible and changeable.87 Of this nature the first part

is fine, burning, [392b] and inflamed by the aether88 on account of its great size and the

9.I Apollo, Mercurius

'(0@9@ Fosforus Venus
(.3 Venus
\ Iunonia stella (the word order is reversed: Iunonia immo
Veneris stella)
Both Sergius and Apuleius use a combination of Greek and native appellations. Of the
Greek planet names that occur here Cicero gives the names , , ,
, and , with their Latin equivalents of course, at De nat. deo. 2.19-20
(52-53). These are a series of names suggesting the varying intensity of the planets
and are associated particularly with Pythagoran astronomy (Bos 1989: 79-80). The Ara-
bic ms. F actually has a marginal comment indicating that this Pythagorean order was not
the one in regular use (])BV @ !A@?!T0 G )(among Arab astronomers (Brafman 84, with
commentary, pp. 216-217). While F gives a presentation much like the Syriac, K and Y
both generally use the native Arabic planet names and do not give the Greek
85. The Greek, however, has ,
, the aetherial and divine nature, which we declare to be ordered. It is
difficult to see how Sergius could have thus construed the Greek text as we have it.
Lorimer does not include variants of any kind like the Syriac in his apparatus. The
Arabic F (Brafman 1985: 84) follows the Syriac exactly.
86.Sergius Syriac for this expression (R=19D !H s.N9D !H )closely resembles
James 1:17, !/=19D(' /=.8 !.I! ;* L.N9D 9H (/H .

87. The Greek here uses what are essentially synonyms: . The
latter (see LSJ 638) means perishable, mortal, i.e. subject to death () and is not so
common a term, even in Aristotle (see Bonitz 1870: 273, where only two citations are
given, one of which is this one in the De Mundo). It seems likely that Sergius did not
understand the word and simply guessed at the meaning with !=L.N(Z;. The word @!g0 in
F (Brafman 1985: 84) reflects this Syriac rendering.
88.The Greek construction of the agent of a passive verb with is rendered by G; (SG
249D; cf. also Blau 1966-67: 306.2 for the same feature in Christian Arabic). The
expression is active in F: @!r67 UHR]&
( Brafman 1985: 84), but passive in K y=]0 ' (V ART]&

- 22 -
swiftness of its motion. Therefore in this inflamed nature, which is named disordered,

bright flashes run about, flames are cast forth, [110r] and often those things called

spears89 arise in it and vanish, and also fiery meteors and comets.90 Beneath this part

air is poured out, which is dark and cold in its nature,91 but because it is alight from that

(Brafman 1985: 123; (should, of course, be read UN, but I do not know if the error is
in the ms. or the printed text).

89. The word means spear (LS 427b, see also DJBA s.v. and ), but the
Greek word it translates, a form Jacob of Edessa gives in Syriac too (\*/?,
Chabot 1928: 79b12, 146a14), as well as Barhebraeus centuries later (Takahashi 2004:
188-189), who describes them as \*/L-H, torches, a correspondence taken from
Nicolaus Damascenus (see Takahashis commentary, 550)means plank. Pliny (Nat.
2.96) has a different form of the word, meaning beam, which he describes, Emicant et
trabes simili modo, quas vocant. More like the Syriac in this context is (Middle)
English, A sterre with a lance, at comete icluped is (Richard of Gloucester, 1297,
cited in OED s.v. comet). The Arabic F (cf. K in the next note) has the plural of the
Arabic form of the Syriac word here, -!80, at this spot (Brafman 84). Elsewhere in
Syriac, Jacob of Edessa refers to fiery, flashing showers that go through the air like, not
spears, but arrows (Chabot 1928: 79a8-11); conversely, lightning is used in a simile
with arrow in Zech 9:14 () .

90.The Greek word was loaned into Latin (but see Plin. Nat. 2.89, where it
etymologically equals crinitus) and thence into modern European languages. The
Arabic word AuG0( F) [Brafman 84]), which should probably be AuG0 locks (of
hair) (Lane 949), in this expression is a calque of the Greek word ( hair,
having long hair > comet); it occurs too in the recently discovered )8=0 A @&-TZ
!)B0 x]V Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels for the Eyes (Bodl. ms.
Arab. c. 90): AG0 AZ)90( fol. 13a), stars having locks. This sentence in K is
U0 G0< 8B& 52V) h 1*!-!)*0-F 5DX&
y0 MZ - *!-HS -!S - *AZ)90( Brafman 123)
stars having tails and things like spears. This is called in Greek qumee, i.e. that which
has a mass of hair. In English we may note Henry VI, Part I, I.i.2, where comets are
told, Brandish your crystall Tresses in the Skie. The native Syriac expression for
comet is != "
( LS 624a, PS 3382; Nau 1896: 328); BA and BB
!0@9@ or !/ ="
both define this word A*G0 AZ)Z 1FG0 AZ)Z.

91. The Greek word here is an adverbial accusative and well rendered by a preposition in
- 23 -
which is above it as well as inflamed, it is bright and warm. So then, in this [air], since it

is also from this power liable to feeling and changeable with changes of every kind,

clouds arise in it; rainstorms92 come down from it; snow,93 ice, and hail94 come about in it,

and winds and tornados;95 but also thunder and lightning come about in it too, and also

clashes of ten thousand lightning strikes and destructive thunderbolts.96


92.For \2:; "[! cf. the expression from Tan 3b(32) ( cited at
DJBA 411). The word , which occurs here, like Latin imber, with which it is
cognate, can mean storm or just rain.
93.With more detail, Jacob of Edessa speaks of snowy rain (!/=]H\ 2:;) distinct
from snow (Chabot 1928: 80b5).
94. Although these words are plural in the Greek text, Sergius has given these words in
the singular, as would an English translator. The second word in the Arabic F, lV, which
appears consistently where does in the Greek text (Brafman 218), is a rarely
attested Persian loanword (Daiber 1992: 219; for the word itself see Steingass 1892: 535).
95. The Greek text has . Whereas the Greek text a leading
noun followed by two in the genitive, the Syriac (!.Q.) '(/@! @<NY )has two head
nouns followed by one in the genitive. Lorimer does not list any variants in his
apparatus. It is not a matter of simply reading one of the nouns in
the nominative because the syntax of ... wound not work then (see Smyth
2974-2976). Either or could be translated by !NY and either '(/@ @<or
!.Q.) could translate . It is therefore difficult to imagine what Sergius read in
the Greek text before him. Apuleius, unfortunately too periphrastic to offer much help,
ends the chapter thus: turbinum flatibus tifonumque conflictu fit procellosa, sed telis
fulminum et missilium caelestium iaculis ignescit (it gets stormy with gusts of
whirlwinds and the crash of typhoons, but burns with projectile thunderbolts and flying
celestial javelins). F has @>!-a67 -cB0
@ u -@&0( Brafman 85), winds, circles of dust,
and cyclones, while K has m)>B0 -@&0( Brafman 123) winds and gales, and Y _F~0
1]F-dTD0 -&@0( Brafman 140) storms and opposing winds.
96. The Greek here is . As with the text

in the preceding note, there is disagreement between the Greek and Syriac (' 9J;

G/N<C! Q[I G/?<3 93Y). The Greek text has two nominative expressions:
and () . Sergius (having overlooked ?) first
- 24 -
Chapter three

Now after this element of the air the earth and seas are97 fixed and situated,

adorned with animals, plants, springs and rivers, some of which originate on top and as-

cend from it [the earth] to the surface, some of which spring up98 and go down to the sea.

It [the earth] is decorated too with great numbers of all kinds of colors, with high moun-

tains, with forests thick with wood, as well as with those cities which that wise animal,

man, has established,99 and with islands of the seas.

Now all the inhabited world100 the common saying, though, divides101 into islands

and inhabitable places separate from the sea,102 because they do not know that all the hab-

reads with rather than and then renders the entire second
expression as genitive rather than nominative. The Arabic Y is not even demonstrably
the same text: ~0 la`)0@ H0) a@0( Brafman 140), thunders, lightnings,
thunderbolts and earthquakes.

97. The Syriac participles are singular in agreement only with !).

98. I understand G/61 as a passive participle, despite the dicritical mark. The verb means
to project, belch, vomit.
99. The verb t0? means here to establish, found (PS 3478, LS 643a-b). Similar
meanings are found in Ephrem, G"2-Z3 E."' 97Hc; t0?
(Opera Omnia 2:299
C), and a short note given in Curetons Spicilegium Syriacum (1855: n;), '(/;*?
t0? '(C(D (said of Jesus). This precise meaning does not occur in JBA, but cf.
usages such as established courts (Suk 10b(29) and elsewhere,
cited in DJBA 981).
100. The object is fronted in Syriac, exactly as in the Greek text, but there is no all in

The Syriac has 'c/]C '(.; but then has the verb in the plural (G/].L;), a
constructio ad sensum (also Ryssel 21 n. b).
102. Sergius uses this circumlocution for Greek (cf. Ryssel 21 n. c).
- 25 -
itable earth is a single island,103 which is surrounded by the sea called Atlantic. Perhaps

there are also many others [islands] situated opposite this one and separate from it, some

larger, some smaller, though none of them are visible to us except this one, for that simi-

larity which these islands near us possess with respect to these seas, this [the similarity]

too the inhabited world [possesses], and those many other islands, with respect to the

whole inner sea, for those large islands that are near us are encompassed by large gulfs of

the sea.104 For the nature of all the moisture, in that it goes to the caves and holes105 of the

earth, has revealed those [places] which are called habitable. From this the nature of the

air especially comes about. After this, [110v] as we have said, is the earth, fixed in the

steadfast center of the world and existing without movement and without transformation.

This is the world [lm], which is named universe [hn kol], and these are the five

elements, [393a] which are set in five places that are contained within one another spheri-

cally, each smaller circle being contained by its neighbor, since it [the latter] is bigger

than it [the former]: that is, earth106 in water, water in air, air in fire, and fire in aether. As

103. Emmanuel b. ahhr too explicitly refers to this one island in his Hexaemeron:
'f1 \*N '9/JH
!Z=/=0H \2;9) '! -.)(' 3' f1 UC G/H)( e;

!--" (=/3 !7H ,7H !67:; !"cI=! ZH (/3 !-.)(' 3( Manna 1901: 2 172),
Within these he put the great island of the world, that it should be a dwelling-place for
people and animals: one great island of the world, between the tongues [of water], fitting
[and] ordered for all those that walk between the seas.
104. This is admittedly a complicated sentence in both the original and the translation.
The point is that there is an analogy between the known inhabited world and the Atlantic,
on the one hand, and, on the other, the known islands and the Mediterranean.
105. Of the caverns of the earth Emmanuel b. ahhr says !)c3 E3 *0) !3Y! ..N

!A28 G;! Ic@! 6;*3 =!/=; !H( Manna 1901: 2 174), Great caverns
9A 2?
he made in the earth without number, and encrusted them with piles of flinty rock.
106. Jacob of Edessa refers to earth as an element with both the common !)
(Chabot 1928: 47b11), as well as the rarer \( ;*ibid. 44b20), which does not occur in
- 26 -
these constitute the whole world and reveal the upper partall of it the dwelling of the

godsand on the other hand the lowerthe realm of mortal animals. But of this lower

[part] some is wet, that which we are accustomed to name rivers, springs, and seas, while

some again is dry, that which we name earth, inhabited world, and islands. But there are

also islands among these that are large, as we were saying about this whole inhabited

world, which is surrounded by various large seas. Then there are some that are small, all

of them known to us and on the inside.107 Of these are some which are prevalent in size:

Sicily, Euboia, Cyprus, Sardo, Kurnos, Crete, Peloponnese, and Lesbos. Some, though,

are smaller, those named the Sporades and those called the Cyclades, and others other-

wise named.

The sea that is outside the whole inhabited world is named Atlantic and Ocean,108

and as it goes along also surrounds109 us here, because on the west side on the inside a

strait is open,110 beside the [place] called the Pillars111 of Heracles. Its112 [the Oceans]

the De Mundo.

107. 9]H G; (Greek ) refers to the Mediterranean. I do not know of this usage
from elsewhere in Syriac.
108. On the name Ocean Jacob of Edessa has E.@! /=H9@! /A91 ! /0?

9Ac?! /A9" G; \2?(; .!/;=! /@ (Chabot 1928: 99b8-12).

109. The form of the participle is pl. and marked with sym, probably due to the two
names, Atlantic and Ocean, just given, even though just one sea is intended.

110. EH an ethical dative with !;9I.

111. Cf. the index of proper names, s.v. 5/.? 9.:C, for Jacob of Edessas different

112. This sentence is striking for its lack of G", , or a similar introductory conjunction.

- 27 -
course goes out to this sea near us,113 as to a sort of harbor,114 and thus little by little

broadens here, diffusing until it embraces large bays, each containing another, the mouth

of which narrows near us.115

In this direction116 they broaden and widen.117 First, then, it is said [111r] that it

broadens to the south118 after going out from the Pillars of Hercules and is divided into

two bays and passes by islands, these that are called Surteis, one of which people call

Greater Surteis, and the other Lesser Surteis. On the other side, the north, it is not like

this, immediately broadening as well as forming there three bays: the one named Sardin-

ian, the one called Galatian, and the Greater Adriatic. After these there is another bay

[positioned] obliquely, the one called Sicilian.119 Next to it on one side are the Egyptian,

the Pamphylian, and the Syrian, while on the other is the Aegean and Myrtoan.120 Oppo-

113. 9H, i.e. the Mediterranean.

114. !Ac-H, a loanword (also in Arabic [Fraenkel 1886: 231-232], but with the initial
l- taken to be part of the article!) from Greek: , which it here translates.

115. Barhebraeus borrowed heavily from this section (Takahashi 2004: 371-372).

Literally towards here (!@ G" RIcH

117. The previous verb, narrows ('e/H), referred to their mouth and was
therefore singular, but these verbs, now assuming mouths, are plural.
118. This word, which means right (opp. left), does not commonly mean south
in Syriac, but it does in other Semitic languages.
119. See Takahashi 2004: 375-376 for Barhebraeus dependence on this passage.
120. These last five bodies of water I have translated with English adjectives, but the
Syriac has the relative followed by the proper noun, i.e. that of Egypt, etc.
- 28 -
site all these lies the many-parted Pontus, the extremity121 of which is named Lake122

[393b] Maiotis. The other side, the outer, which is at the Hellespont, is joined with that

called Propontis.

But in the east, its course,123 which is within the Ocean, opened the sea that is

named Indian and Persian124 and showed125 us126 that it holds with one uniformity up to127

121. The Greek has here innermost part, exactly the opposite of the
Syriac! The Syriac translation is not based on the closely following , though,
since that is clearly translated with !"23. Ryssel (27 n. b) has probably interpreted the
problem correctly in saying, Wenn man freilich bedenkt, dass der usserste d.h. der von
dem Hauptmeer am weitesten entfernte Theil eines Meerbusens auch als der innerste
Theil bezeichnet werden kann, sofern er sich am weitesten in das Land hineinerstreckt, so
ergiebt sich, dass der Syrer zwar nicht den einzelnen Ausdruck, wohl aber die Sache
selber richtig getroffen hat.
122. It is not specifically called a lake here in Greek, but it is so designated below at

123. Sergius has apparently rendered the participle with a noun "(2;, which
serves as the main subject for this long sentence.
124. Literally of the Indians and Persians.
125. These two verbs stand out being in the perfect. Most of the verbs in this section,
indeed throughout the treatise, are participles, which is the unmarked non-modal tense in
Syriac. It is not clear why Sergius should have used the perfect tense here.
126. The Greek has nothing that matches GH here. Sergius has freely indicated what the
Greek implies.

127. The addition of !;*) makes 9C\ 2?(;! 39QH not the object of */N,
which would match the Greek exactly, but prepositional phrase qualifying */N. A side
effect of this addition is that */N now has no object nearby. The word is commonly used
in the passive with an active meaning, but of course without an obvious object it may be
taken as a genuine passive. If understood with an active sense, the object must be \cH
below, which, although some distance away from this verb, is otherwise difficult to place
syntactically in the sentence.
- 29 -
the bay that is called Suf128and this sea,129 as it narrows130 and makes a certain kind of

long mouth again broadens as it goes along, widening,131 bounding132 and producing133 the

128. Where the Hebrew Bible has ( HALOT 747) the Greek version regularly
has ; in these places the Peshitta has 9C! -" (e.g. Ex 15:22, Josh
24:6; cf. without sea Deut 1:1 , Greek , Syriac ,0?9H
9C). At 1 Kgs 9:26 the Hebrew is , which the Greek
version takes differently than elsewhere, understanding with the meaning end (
), though the Syriac translates the Hebrew
as usual: 9C! -" (LC ,). The Greek expression occurs in the New Testament only
at Acts 7:36 and Heb 11:29, in both places the Peshitta having 9C! -". The Hebrew
in this name is generally taken to be reeds, but does not occur with this
meaning in Aramaic except in Samaritan (Tal 575), and even there it is probably a loan
from Hebrew. In Syriac, Jacob of Edessa at least once (Chabot 1928: 101b5-7) uses both
the Greek name (\ )and its Syriac translation (![;9C), but elsewhere just gives
the latter (e.g. ibid. 111b7). Classical sources use (Latin rubrum
mare) for our Red Sea, Indian Ocean, or Persian Gulf; for a representative list of how
Greek and Roman writers used these terms see S. Sidebotham, Roman Economic Policy
in the Erythra Thalassa (Leiden: Brill, 1986), 182-186. The fact that Sergius renders the
Greek name with 9C! -" suggests that, not surprisingly, he knows these Greek Bible
passages together with the corresponding verses in the Peshitta.
129. is added and apparently refers back to the Indian/Persian
!-" ! A
130. G:?(; *@ agrees with Stobaeuss text and not the more likely
reading of the direct tradition (see Lorimer 1925: 80-82).

131. Sergius has added @* ;(.

132. The verb UN(; may be read as active (pael) or passive (etpaal) and either
meaning is possible in the context. The latter matches the Greek , which
admittedly...has an odd sense..., but the author is running short of synonyms for
forming seas (Furley 1955: 359 n. e). The orthography (one tw) and the diacritical
point over the tw are inconclusive, it being so placed for both pael and etpael (Segal
1953: 18).
133. *H9; is added.

- 30 -
sea called Hyrcanian and Caspian134the place135 that is above136 it [the Caspian sea], that

[place] which is also above Lake Maiotis, because it [the place] is deeper137 than it [Lake

Maiotis], it possesses it [Lake Maiotis],138 and thus, little by little, above the Scythians

134. Jacob of Edessa similarly gives both names to the sea in .!/=?Y! -"

!/LCc?( Chabot 1928: 100b32-33).

135. This word is preceded by the object marker, but being masculine cannot be the

object of possesses (!= ?), whose object is marked as feminine (EH), a fact ignored by
Ryssel (28), who took the object to be Meer (=!-"), and so I have taken the word here,
as stated above, as object of */N.

136. Here and in the following lines Sergius has rendered with G; ,QH above.
This is the straightforward correspondence, but it does not seem to fit here, the Greek
preposition meaning rather beyond, unless G; ,QH too has the meaning beyond.

137. What is the precise meaning of m/-) here? Is it that this region was thought to
be a kind of large hollow and therefore held in Lake Maiotis? Sergius has expanded
(see Ryssel 29 n. a [and also 30 n. a, end] for a somewhat different interpretation
of the Greek adjective) from an object to a d- clause, either because it is deeper (as I
have translated) or which is deeper.

138. The Greek sentence is

. Sergius read the as , which in fact goes with , a masculine adjective
agreeing with ; Sergius, then, takes this adjective as an attributive adjective and
parallel object with , while in the Greek text as we have it the adjective is
predicative (Smyth 1168-1169). As for the neuter article of the direct tradition, the usage
should be understood as the substantive-making power of the article (Smyth 1153c),
and the meaning be the [part/area] above this holds a deep [spot], the place above/
beyond Lake Maiotis.
- 31 -
and {the place}139 that which is called Keltk140 it embraces the whole inhabited world.141

Toward the bay that is called Galatian and toward the Pillars of Hercules, which were

mentioned above, [and] which are on the outside,142 the Ocean girds the earth. In this

[area] too are large islands, two in fact, which are called British, one named Albion and

one Ierne, which is located in a bay, as well as other small [islands]not a few143in it

toward Britain144 and Spain, which surround the inhabited world like a crown.

[111v] Of this inhabited world, which we call an island, geographers have report-

ed that its width at its extremity145 is 40,000 stadia, more or less, and its length they have

139. \cH is very probably a repetition from the previous occurrence of this form a
few lines above. It is not in any other witness to the the Greek text, nor does it make
sense here.
140. That is, the place where Celts live. There is no such corresponding place name in
English, hence the strangeness of the word. In Greek is the second object of
, but in Syriac it is in apposition to the added \cH (see previous note). If we pass
over this addition, then ![/:.? \2?(; too would be an object with 9[C of the
prepositional element G; ,QH.

141. Though the Greek of this long sentence is clear and easy to understand, the same
can hardly be said for the Syriac, as can be seen from the previous notes and the English
translation itself. The roughness of the rather wooden translation given here is due to the
apparent additions in the Syriac and uncertainties of the referents for the pronominal
suffixes. I have tried to make sense of it based on the the ancient geographical
conception of this region. For two excellent maps based on this passage (the Greek
version) in the De Mundo see R&B 269-270.
142. The sense seems to be that the Pillars of Hercules are the outermost point, beyond
which flows the Ocean, which girds the earth.
143. The numerous occurrences of this figure of speech ( , litotes) in Acts
(e.g. 12:18, 14:28, 17:4, 27:20) are never so rendered (9)f3 !H )in the Syriac Bible;
there the adjective 'c/]C usually does the job.

144. The Greek has here British (Isles).

145. The Greek here has , deepest part. Cf. n. [GIVE NUMBER] above,
where this Syriac word translates .
- 32 -
determined to be about 70,000 stadia.146 The habitable world is divided into into three

parts: Europe, Asia, and Libya.147 Europe, which mountains also surround, is bounded by

the Pillars of Hercules and the end of the Pontus and [reaches] until the Hyrcanian Sea,

which sets a kind of narrow isthmus from it to the sea. Some, though, instead of this isth-

mus, have said that the river named Tanas bounds it. Asia is the part from this isthmus

of the Pontus and Hyrcanian148 Sea to the other isthmus, the one between the Arabian

Gulf and the Inner [i.e. Mediterranean] Sea; it is contained by this sea and by the Ocean,

that which surrounds the earth. Some, though, set the border of Asia from the Tanas

River to the Nile. Libya too is bounded by the Arabian Gulf [and reaches] to the Pillars

of Hercules. Some, though, mark its border from the Nile to these Pillars. [394a] Egypt,

because it is contained between the mouths of the Nile, some reckon to be from Asia, oth-

ers from Libya. All the islands of the inhabited world some take separately, but others at-

tach them to those parts near to them.

The nature, then, and position of the earth and the sea, which we customarily

name inhabited world, which has appeared to us like this, as we have said.149

146. Severus Sebokt, in the fragment published by Sachau (1870: 128.21-129.2), gives
the measurement of the inhabited world as 100,000 by 50,000 stadia; see the fragment by
the same author in Sachau (1870: 132.7-14) for the circumference and diameter of the
whole sphere of the earth. See Evans 1998: 63-67 for the subject in classical astronomy.
147. The first two are preceded by a lmad, but the last word, which itself begins with
lmad has no preposition. The name appears later (111v2, 13) without a preposition, but
still with lmad and so the absence of another lmad here must be a mistake.
148. Here the the word is not a gentilic adjective but a toponym.
149. This is not a complete sentence but a closing title to the chapter.
- 33 -
Chapter four

About the excellent things in the earth and the good things on account of it, now

we speak, gathering together in brief what is necessary.

Two vapors,150 then, rise from it [the earth] continually toward the air above it,

quite thin and never visible to us, except if we happen to see in the east those exhalations

[112r] that appear to rise from rivers and springs. Of those two vapors, one is dry and

smoky and rises from the earth, while the other is moist and steamy and evaporates

from151 its damp nature. From this second [class of] vapor occur mists, dew, hoarfrost,

clouds, rain, snow, and hail, while from the dry vapor occur winds, various breezes, thun-

der, lightning, thunderbolts, sparkling rays, and other things of this kind. A mist is a va-

porous exhalation from water and more dense than air and rather finer than clouds,152 aris-

ing either immediately from a cloud or from a remnant of one. Opposite of this is said to

be (and is) clear weather, which is nothing other than air without cloud and mist. Dew153

150. These \<:) are the of Greek cosmology (Strohm 297, R&B
279-280). This Syriac word is at times difficult to distinguish from !1EH, which also
occurs in this sentence (translated exhalations); indeed, Jacob juxtaposes the two words
as apparent synonyms (Chabot 1928: 53b33).
151. This is probably a causal G;, and so because of or due to would also be a
suitable translation.
152. Similarly, Barhebraeus says that !.I2) does not have the consistency of a cloud.
For it is finer than cloud... (!==) G; 2/1 !=/:? .!/=? !H !==)! -"9?, Takahashi 2004:
146-147). In addition to the word !.I2), which in the De Mundo I have translated as
mist, Barhebraeus in this section has \2) (which does not occur in the De Mundo), a
mist less dense than !.I2) (cf. PS 2974 and Takahashi 2004: 441).

153. The description in Theophrastus (Daiber 1992: 186) is both more thorough and of
a different character.
- 34 -
is moisture from clear weather that comes down in thin154 substance. Ice is water that im-

mediately congeals from clear weather. Frost is dew that has congealed, and frozen

dew;155 it is also dew, only half of which has congealed.156 A cloud is the density of va-

por157 that is gathered and pressed together158 and produces rain. Rain comes from the

squeezing out of a cloud that is quite dense.159 Its drops are differing according to the va-

rieties of the clouds pressure. When it is lightly pressed from its condensation, it casts

154. Job of Edessa too stresses the thin quality of dew (Mingana 1935: 204, 417b), as
does Barhebraeus (Takahashi 2004: 144-145).
155. The noun dew in this second instance is in the absolute state (*/.1 ,8), but none
of the regular uses of the absolute state (SG 202, MG 216) for the noun obtain here.
156. Theophrastus description of frost is unfortunately lacking in Syriac, but the
Arabic versions of ibn al-Khammr (Daiber 1992: 239) and Bar Bahll (ibid. 207) show
that the same ideas about frost (lV in the former version, @@&RV in the latter) were in the
De Mundo and Theophrastus Meteorology, though the latter presentation is more
detailed. Emmanuel b. ahhr too says that frost (!A2?) comes from cold-hardened
dew (Manna 1901: 2 176). Barhebraeus explanation of frost is also apt: 9A*.]; G;
!-JI .!A2? 9H !.8 !@ G; .'(' /; (/@! A2? '(/Z? '2"2? */3 !.8

!= ? !]H 9H \2:;, From the freezing of dew due to severe coldness, frost
[qarn], also called zmyt, is formed. Hence dew has in relation to frost the
relationship of rain to snow (Takahashi 2004: 144-145).
157. This expression (!1EH' 9/0)) finds a close parallel in Theophrastus: '*/0H
'c/]C \<:) G;...]' [9=/0)(;( Daiber 1992: 184).

158. This description corresponds with the first of three theories given by Barhebraeus
on cloud formation (Takahashi 2004: 138-139).
159. According to the Arabic version, a similar point must have been expressed in the
Syriac Theophrastus, but the text is very poor here (Daiber 1992: 185). Ibn al-
Khammrs version reads !@eZ
f ]-D0 50 M!YTX&
( Daiber 1992: 237),
Clouds turn into water when they have become very thick.
- 35 -
soft drops, but when it is strongly condensed,160 it throws161 large drops. This [latter] kind

of rain we call rainstorm, since with robust and constant force it comes down on the

earth.162 Snow happens when, before clouds have turned into rain, they are divided on ac-

count of their density and crumble.163 The division,164 then, causes the fluffiness165 and

whiteness166 of snow. The coagulation of the moisture in them, because it has not yet di-

minished and been poured out, causes its coldness. [394b] When it comes down immedi-

160. PS 1880 cites from a ms. of Barhebraeus Candelabra Sanctuarii ("c0/@)==!

*0H, which is very similar to this line.

161. of the previous line, but the

Sergius adds a verb to continue the synonymous !?
Greek has only one verb for both parts of the sentence.
162. Barhebraeus used this sentence in composing the corresponding part of the
Butyrum (Takahashi 2004: 429).
163. Theophrastus description (Daiber 1992: 185, [Arabic] 238) is very similar,
though more wordy, and Emmanuel b. ahhr likewise says that snow occurs thus: ?*
("cA() EH ![6I(; e)! H*) ,QH G; !Z-D' 9Q3 !==) ,Z3( Manna
1901: 2 9Q?), before a cloud is cooked by the intensity of the sun above and still not
pressed, it is divided with fluffiness. On this last term (an adverb in Syriac!) see two
notes below [GIVE NUMBER]. Job of Edessa makes wind penetrating humidity in a
cold environment the cause of snow (Mingana 1935: 203, 417a).
164. De Lagarde (142.7) has G"E[ 6I
for G/[ 6I
of the ms. He was perhaps tacitly
correcting the text to have the word agree with the singular verb *0), but in that case,
why leave the sym (cf. Ryssel 35 n. c)? I have, therefore, corrected the text to G"E[6I,

which also agrees with the Greek .

165. The term '9A() derives from '(), which is generally said to mean foam
or froth, but these words do not in English fit snow so well. Emmanuel b. ahhr also
relates fluff to snow: '()\ )==! @* ;(9N...!]H' '()! /]C! NY G0@
![6I(;( Manna 1901: 2 9Q?), Winds are strong, fluff increases, and snow comes
about... A cloud becomes white, as it gets fluffy and divides...
166. According to Theophrastus (Daiber 1992: 185), the whiteness is caused by the air
that is in snow. On the likelihood that Barhebraeus used this passage in the Butyrum see
Takahashi 2004: 435-436.
- 36 -
ately and forcefully, this [kind of] snow is named tempest.167 Hail happens when a tem-

pest swells [112v] and takes on a certain heaviness weighing downward on account of its

density. In accord with the size of the fragments that are split [from the cloud]

[hail]stones also come about that are large168 and compressed, beaten down by force.169

All of these, then, occur by nature from the moist vapor.

From the other [vapor], the dry one,170 when it is pushed by the cold so that it goes

forth, wind arises.171 This is nothing other than a lot of air going forth immediately. This

wind is also named breeze. Differently, the soulish and generative ousia that is sown in

167. This is the same word ('(/@9@) that Sergius uses for whirlwind (Greek
) at 113r24; the Greek here is , snowstorm. This double meaning of
'(/@9@ reaches all the way to Barhebraeus, who uses this passage from the De Mundo
(see Takahashi 2004: 144-145, 437).
168. Barhebraeus knew reports of a hailstone weighing more than a mina
(approximately 830g according to Takahashi 2004: 441) and claims to have himself seen
large stones of hail which fell in the shape of horns and heads of oxen, sheep and
\Y RZ"Y(' A<? U7Cc3 R.LA
horses (!Z@Y' f) \23(' 3Y<\ I, ibid. 146-147)!

169. Theophrastus treatment of hail (Daiber 1992: 186, [Arabic] 238) is wholly
different, as is Emmanuel b. ahhrs (Manna 1901: 2 176). Theophrastus attributes
hail simply to drops of watersmall according to the Syriac, big according to the
Arabicbecome hail due to the cold. (Incidentally, there are several diacritical points
missing from this section and others in the Syriac text, either in the ms. or by Daiber.)
Job of Edessa puts the cause of hail in a windless environment of contracting cold
(Mingana 1935: 203, 417a). According to Emmanuel, !-/)! -D91 (A *@

\23 *0) 2I(; '9/v? G; EH m6I(A, When the body of a cloud condenses and
[then] divides, it crumbles due to the hardness and makes hail.
170. Job of Edessa opposes the Aristotelian doctrine of wind coming from the dry
vapor (Mingana 1935: 191-192, 410b-411a); according to Job (Mingana 1935: 191,
410b), Indian writers considered wind a fifth element, a view he disagrees with.
171. Theophrastus discussion of winds (Daiber 1992: 187-188, [Arabic] 239-242)
focuses on the causes of the various kinds, rather than their names, the concern of the De
Mundo. Emmanuel b. ahhr is especially concerned with the direction that winds
emanate from in his treatment of winds (Manna 1901: 2 177).
- 37 -
all animals and in plants is also called wind,172 about which it is not necessary to speak

now. The winds that blow in summer173 are called refreshing breezes and those breezes

that come from dampness are called cooling breezes. Of the winds, those that come from

moist earth are called earthy, those that run and blow from the gulfs of seas are named

gulf [winds]. In the likeness of these are also those that gush forth from rivers and lakes.

Those that arise from fragments of clouds and the dissolution of it density174they are

not differentare called cloud [winds]. If they split all of a sudden with much rain, they

are called moist [winds]. Those that blow from the east continually are called eastern

[winds], northern if they are those from the north, western those from the west, and

southern those from the south. These, again, are the eastern, divided into three winds:

eastern175 [proper], Caecias, and Apeliotes.176 Eastern [proper] is the one that blows from

the place in the center of the east, Caicias the one that blows from the place of the sum-

mer sunrise, and Apeliotes is the one that blows from the place of the winter sunrise. The

western [winds] are opposite these. They too are divided into three. Western [proper] is

called the one that blows opposite the eastern [wind] from the place in the center of the

172. The statement does not, of course, make as much sense in English, which, unlike
Greek and Syriac, has mutually exclusive terms for wind and breath.
173. The Greek has here . Perhaps Sergius made the change to cope with the
odd (cf. R&B 288) distinction between winds () and breezes ().

of the ms. is probably a mistake for 9/0) (= Greek ).

here for !/JA*-H. In the next sentence the word
The ms. mistakenly has !/JA*-H
correctly does not have sym.
176. See Chabot 1928: 84b-85a for Jacob of Edessas reference to several of the winds
named in this section, and Takahashi 2004: 172-173 (with commentary on p. 503) for
mention in Barhebraeus Butyrum.
- 38 -
west, Argestes is named the one that [113r] blows from the place of the summer sunset

(this one some call Olympias, some Iapyx), Lips is called the one that blows from the

place of the winter sunset. Yet again the northern [winds] are in this way divided into

three. Northern [proper] is called the one that blows from the north pole, the one that

blows from in front of Argestes is called Thrascias (some call it Kanakan),177 and the one

that blows from in front of Caicias is named Aparc[t]ias. Similarly the southern winds:

the one that blows from the place of the south pole invisible to us, opposite the north

wind, is named southern; Euronotos is called the one that blows from the place that is be-

tween the south and Apeliotes; the one from the other side, which blows from the place

between Lips and the southern [wind], some name Libonotos, while others call it Li-

bophoenix. Some of the winds178 blow directly, all those that run forward without devia-

tion, while there are some whose blowing turns, [395a] such as Caicias. Again some pre-

vail in winter, like the southern [winds], some in summer, like those that are called

Etesian, which are combined from the northern and southern [winds].179 Ornithian are

called the winds pushed strongly from the northern side.

177. The Syriac word is spelled c?cAc?, but the Greek form is . We perhaps
have here a case of the common interchange across and within languages of r and n (and
178. Here the old plural form !=NY (contra Ryssel 40 n. a) is used instead of !NY,
which occurs elsewhere.
179. There is a major pause in the ms. here (), but the following sentence goes with
the preceding section and not with the following on violent winds. It is possible that
113r16 ends thus with because the next word (!"(/AY )would not have fit on the
line and empty spaces in a line were avoided as much as possible, a scribal practice going
back to Akkadian (Reiner 1991: 298).
- 39 -
Of the strong winds, gust180 is named a wind that forcefully rises upward, while

storm181 or whirlwind182 is called a wind that twirls around upward and downward. A

wind that goes up from a fracture or fissure of the earth, which goes to the depth, is called

a blower. When it goes up a lot from below, while twirling around vehemently, it is

called a subterranean183 prstr.184 But if, [113v] when the wind is enclosed within a

dense and moist cloud, as it is forcefully pressed to cleave the thickness of the cloud and

blow [it] out, it makes a sound185 and no small noise, we call it thunder;186 its noise is in

similarity to wind driven vehemently within water. In the breaking up of a cloud, when

the wind catches fire and shines, it is called lightning,187 which appears before thunder, al-

Barhebraeus gives three different causes for the generation of !.Q.)
2004: 180-181). See Mingana 1935: 211, 421b for Job of Edessas description, Manna
1901: 2 177 for Emmanuel b. ahhrs, and Nau 1896: 323-324 for Jacob b. akks.
181. See Job of Edessa for a longer description of a !N2? (Mingana 1935: 211-212,
182. The same two terms (!N2? and '(/@9@) are also grouped together by Jacob
(Chabot 1928: 85a35), though in the reverse order.
183. This renders !) G; (N(H. In the previous line (N(H also occurs and it is
possible that the word was repeated here. If that is the case, what remains in the Syriac
would match the Greek more closely.

184. See the note below [GIVE NUMBER] on this term.

185. This word (!-; )normally indicates a sound much less intense (PS , Ryssel 42
n. b) than , which it translates here. The Arabic versions (F [Brafman 94], Y [ibid.
127], K [ibid. 147]) offer no help, since they are all different from each other with no
close match to the Syriac text.
186. Emmanuel b. ahhrs explanation is very similar: !NY GZ0N
!==) !;

!/Z? !-)Y! .? *0)! .? G3E" G"E39Q3 (Manna 1901: 2 176), When clouds ascend
and enclose winds within, they make a noise and produce harsh thunder peals. So too,
but with more detail, is Job of Edessas account (Mingana 1935: 204-205, 418a).
187. This corresponds most closely to Theophrastus fourth of four causes of lightning
(Daiber 1992: 178, [Arabic] 230). As with winds, the De Mundo is concerned with
- 40 -
though it happens after it, because something audible is naturally188 preceded and passed

by that which is visible, in that something visible is also able to be perceived189 from a

distance, but that which is audible, [only] when it approaches [our] hearing; and this is

especially the case when that which is visible is swifter than all things, that is, when it is

fiery, but that which is audible would be less in its swiftness to come to [our] hearing,

like something that is deadened190 in its striking.191 Again, that which flashes, when it

naming the phenomena, Theophrastus with giving the causes of them. According to
Emmanuel b. ahhr, it is the friction of clouds together that cause lightning: !/Z? !I9D
!==) !==) !L/D
\9A G/[0D !H2I! Ic@! I9D 9;*3 \9A m0D \*/0H !-D91

G-)Y G/Q?
!I9Z3 !==) !.? G3 E" ?!23
20N (Manna 1901: 2 176), Intense
friction of a dense body leaves fire, like the friction of a rock and iron, which leave fire.
One cloud rubs against another, and lightning comes about, and the clouds make a noise
with the friction and sound thunderously. Instead of friction, Job of Edessa speaks of
impact of quickly moving clouds (!/Z? !823 \*J3 GLZ 1 *@, Mingana 1935: 205,
418a). Job also offers an amusing everyday occurrence similar to this violent meeting of
bodies: T"! J;(; 'fN !.? E" ("c/Z? :!7I G3f3 20JH MA! J-A 2/1 !;
mLA ?! ;*23 (ibid. 418b; Minganas translation is on p. 205), For when a man strikes
another person on the cheek, it makes a vehement sound and the one who was struck sees
something like lightning coming out.
188. De Lagarde (144.6) prints G7; for the clearly written G=; of the ms. His (tacit)
correction matches the Greek and it is difficult to make sense of the sentence if
we read G=;. How was the error made? The phrase G=; t;(Z; ;* makes perfect
sense by itself, and so might have felt natural, but in the context of this involved sentence
cannot stand.
189. Stobaeus has this reading ().

190. The word is ,/H, also meaning damp, as a sound heard in water is much less
sharp and clear than out of water.
191. The same two ideasthe quickness of what is visible compared with the audible
and the quickness of firealso occur in Theophrastus (Daiber 1992: 179, [Arabic] 231)
and Job of Edessa (Mingana 1935: 206, 418b). Both of these authors use the same
illustration to reinforce the assertion about the visible being more quickly perceived than
the audible, namely, that when someone is chopping wood at a distance from us, we see
the action before we the fall of the ax on the wood. The wording, however, is different
enough between the versions (Syriac and ibn al-Khammr; not in Bar Bahll) of
Theophrastus, on the one hand, and Jobs text, on the other, that direct dependence is
- 41 -
catches fire strongly and runs all the way to the earth, it is named a striking flash. But if

it is not much aflame, but is vehement and comes down suddenly, it is named a prstr192

coming down from above. But if there is no fire or flame at all, it is called a thunderbolt.

Each one of these, when it is stretched and pressed all the way to the earth, is named

skptos. Of the flashes that strike, those that are moist193 are named sulfurous,194 those

that are swift, runners that do not cut.195 Crooked196 are called those that are in the form

of a twisted line. Skptoi are called all those that come down to the earth, as I said.197

impossible to prove. Barhebraeus (Takahashi 2004: 184-185) also reports the fact of
seeing lightning first and gives the illustration of chopping wood, whose language now
follows ibn Sns Kitb al-if (ibid. 535-536).
192. This Greek word means hurricane and is also used by ibn al-Khammr in his
Arabic version of Theophrastus (Daiber 1992: 241), where a long description of the
phenomenon may be found. This part is lacking in Syriac, but there is an apparent
paraphrase of it in Moses b. Kephas Hexaemeron, which remains unpublished in full, but
Daiber (1992: 188-189) has published the fragment in question. There too (p. 188) we
find the loanword prstr (incorrectly written 5/:6"2I). Barhebraeus mentions a kind of
2/:6"2I (firewind, Takahashi 2004: 186-187) that is related to 9AE?
193. G/./H is perhaps an error for G//=A smoky (= ). This easier change is
preferable to assuming that Sergius read , which Sergius translates with ,/H( at
113v35), instead of (Ryssel 43 n. d, PS 4437; considered also by Takahashi
2004: 545).
194. The Greek word () translated here means sooty, smoky; according to
Barhebraeus, though, following Nicolaus (Takahashi 2004: 543-545), this Greek word
means !I9Z1 (ibid. 186-187), which Takahashi translates as touching, though barely
touching would be better as Barhebraeus following comments make clear.
195. The phrase G/[6I !H is obscure.

196. The Greek word here () means bright, vivid, glancing; according to
Barhebraeus, however, who again follows Nicolaus (Takahashi 2004: 543-545), this
Greek word means \9N, white (ibid. 186-187).

197. This description is close to Job of Edessas definition of !Q[I (there = ):

!) ,) !/-D G; '(JA ,/Z=;\ 9A (Mingana 1935: 422b), fire that comes down
- 42 -
To speak briefly, of all the things that appear in the air, some occur [only] accord-

ing to our sight,198 such as the rainbow, that called the staff,199 and all things such as these,

and some exist in substance, such as meteors, stars that run,200 comets, [114r] and things

similar to them. A rainbow, then, is the light of the disc of the sun,201 which is only in

half of the earth, which is thick and joined202 to our sight, which as in a mirror203 appears

to us in a half-circle. A rod is the likeness of a rainbow that is stretched out straight. A

halo is a light [395b] of the glory of one of the luminaries that is around its disc, [the

suddenly from heaven onto the earth.


Barhebraeus calls these occurrences !]1, illusions, which contrast with
(/H G/-/[;! A<)9C, realities which exist by themselves (Takahashi 2004:
150-151, 156-157). In Sergius terminology (113v31, 35-36), the first category is 9LH
G/-/?(; fN, and the second G""( c;9=?.

199. This word (!:0D), together with !?90D, Barhebraeus (Takahashi 2004: 166)
gives as a synonym for !@f/A, spear, which is described below in this paragraph. On
these terms, as well as atmospheric \Yc1, arrows, see Takahashi 2004: 446; he takes
the use of !@f/A later by Sergius to be different from that of Barhebraeus in the cited
passage, but I see little reason for this.
If this means shooting stars, it is not the regular term for them, which is !0@9@
(as Job of Edessa [Mingana 1935: 212, 422b]).

201. The Greek also has or moon.

202. The Syriac is missing any reference to a cloud (
), but the last three words of this Greek clause are in fact reflected
by fN 9H */J;, though it does not make much sense standing alone as it now does.
This Syriac expression is somewhat unique, in that the verb is commonly used with or
U), not 9H (see PS 1197-1198).

203. The Syriac word renders (also mirror) in 1 Cor 13:12 and James 1:23.
The expression '("fJ-3 T" renders the Greek verb in 2 Cor 3:18. In
Wisd 7:26 it is said of wisdom: 'EH* 0)
E.7H !J39D "(' fJ; (Greek

- 43 -
halo] differing from it [the luminary] in its uniqueness.204 A rainbow appears on the op-

posite side of the sun or the moon, but a halo occurs around one of the luminaries.205 A

meteor is the burning206 of sudden fire that is in the air. Some meteors are thrown sud-

denly, some remain: their throwing, then, is productive of fire that is from much friction

running in the air and it207 does not show itself as it is on account of its swiftness; their re-

maining is without force and for a long duration, like some flow of a star. If it extends in

two directions, it is called a comet, often remaining for a longer time than meteors, and

some becoming extinguished immediately. Many other kinds of appearances208 are dis-

played in the air, such as those named lamps, spears, jar,209 and hollows, which take210 the

name from [their] similarity to these things. Of these some are western and some eastern,

and some appear toward half the sky. Rarely and seldom in the north as well as in the

204. The description of the halo in Theophrastus is much more detailed, but only
survives in Arabic (Daiber 1992: 242). For a Syriac description of the halo on this level,
see Moses b. Kefas remarks published by Daiber (1992: 189); the same term for halo
('(19N) is used there as here, but that is where the similarity stops.

205. Barhebraeus (Takahashi 2004: 156-157) offers a similar, but more thorough,
distinction between a halo and a rainbow.
206. The ms. reading !"*/J" I have taken as an error for !A*[", since individual of fire
makes much less sense.
207. This subject, and the subsequent pronominal elements, are feminine and therefore
must refer back to \9A (fire), which is feminine.

208. It is tempting to read this (!:-6I) as the Greek plural (LSJ 1916)
with a missing n since that is a common word and what actually occurs in the Greek text
here, but (with Elsas 1968: 72) it may well be (LSJ 1919). The Syriac word is
plural in either case, despite the absence of sym.

209. The word is not marked as plural, in contrast to the surrounding words.
210. The ms. has b6A, which may be interpreted, [each of which] take..., or it may
in fact be plural, since 906A would of course sound the same (cf. SG p. 255 n. 1).

- 44 -
south has anything like these appeared. All of them are without stability and without or-

der, since none of them have been commonly seen always to be211 fixed and stable.

These, then, are things known, for the earth possesses within it both springs of

water212 and a source of wind, among which are those that are subterranean, invisible to

us, indeed [too] those which cast and blow upward, visible to us, and they are numerous,

such as the place called Lipara and Aetna, and those, [114v] again, that are in the islands

of Aiolos, some of which often flow213 in the form of some river214 and cast flaming coals

and fiery stones upward. Those that are subterranean, when they are near215 springs of

water, warm them; of the springs that are near them, some flow lukewarm, some rather

hot, and some temperate. Similarly too numerous sources of winds open up216 in every

place in the earth, some of which cause those who approach them to use divination, oth-

ers [cause them] to decrease in their bodies, and others [cause them] to prophesy about

211. The ms. has "(but the conjunction is out of place.

212. See Mingana (1935: 196-197, 413b-414a) for Jobs discussion of springs.
213. G"\ 2;. For the infinitive absolute in Syriac see SG 295.

214. The ms. has \2"EA, but the small change to \EA seems to make more sense
light in Syriac does EA, but not \, the latter being the verb used in this sentenceand
would match the Greek exactly, but perhaps there is an intentional word play
with river (\EA) and light (\2"EA) because we are talking about flowing lava, which
is of course bright with light. Once again de Lagarde has tacitly corrected the Syriac
215. The meaning seems to be are near rather than come near, approach. This is
reflected in the syntax: ;! is generally followed in this text by the imperfect, but here
it has the participle. It would seem that 932[A ;! would mean when they approach.

216. For the intransitive use of (I see LS 616a s.v. mng. 2.

- 45 -
future things, such as in the temple that is called Delphic217 and the one that is named

Lebadeia, and others completely destroy [them], like those in Phyrgia.

Often too a wind that is temperate, when it is pushed from below out of the

earths caverns and forced218 out of its places, it shakes many areas with it.219 Often,

when it becomes intense and is pushed from the depths of the earth and is tightly en-

closed, it goes with it,220 looking to find an exit and causing the event we customarily

name an earthquake.221 Of these movements, [396a] those that shake to one side at acute

angles are called movers, those that toss it [the earth] up and down at right angles are

217. Literally, of Delphos, sic singular, unlike the Greek name, which is plural.
218. The verb mN(A is probably an etpeel of mN, with the first consonant assimilated
to the -t- as in some of the occurrences of the verb RN in this conjugation in this text (see
the index). Alternatively it is possible, though unlikely, that the verb is an etpaal of an
otherwise unattested verb m[N in Syriac. The word occurs in JBA in peal and pael
(DJBA 480) and JPA in peal and itpeel (DJPA 213) and is known from Hebrew (HALOT
347) and (probably) Samalian (KAI 214.34; see Tawil 1973: 478-479 and Tropper 1993:
97); the root in Arabic does not have a physical meaning (e.g. to dig, drill, bore, carve,
etc.), except in the VIII stem (Lane 607). For the etpaal of geminate verbs in Syriac see
SG 178C. If this latter, unlikely possibility is read here, the meaning would be and
hollowed out of it places.
219. This explanation matches almost exactly the third of Theophrastus four causes of
earthquakes (only in Arabic, Daiber 1992: 244). According to Job of Edessa (Mingana
1935: 189-190, 409-410), earthquakes occur due to the opposing or antagonistic forces
within the earth; similar opposition above the earth is responsible for winds (ibid. 192,
411a). Strangely, Emmanuel b. ahhr terms these forces within the earth that seek to
come out, and in so doing shake the earth, !1EH (Manna 1901: 2 176-177), the word that
commonly means (in the De Mundo and elsewhere) vapor or exhalation, something
not so violent as to be able to shake the earth.
That is, the earth (E-) with feminine object): it follows the course that the earth
221. Literally, movement of the earth, as (late) Latin terraemotus, whereas the Greek
word simply means shaking.
- 46 -
named quakes, those that move this way and that all the way to the depth are called shak-

ers,222 and those that make openings and open the earth are called diggers. Some of these

cast winds and make them rise from the earth, some large stones, some mud, some open

springs which had not existed before, some even lay waste with a single push and are

therefore called pushers. Those that cast upward and with agitation of both sides keep

that which shakes in a straight lines are named shaking [movements] because223 they

cause an event similar to shaking. There are sometimes also rumbling movements which

move [115r] the earth with a sound of rumbling. Sometimes even without movements a

rumbling occurs from the earth: when a wind that is contained within it is not sufficient to

move it, but as it goes around in it and is torn with a strong force, it makes a sound like


222. Takahashi (2004: 266-267) considers this word (!.)Y), where the Greek has
(sinking), too general a term to be the name of a specific type of
earthquake; it is indeed general, but no less general a term occurs just a few lines later in
'("Y, so his claim is not strong. Better is his observation that the Syriac word has
nothing to do with downward motion, and so, on the basis of a related passage from
Barhebraeus Butyrum containing the rare adverb ("c=.1(Z; (with a sliding motion,
< ,1(D, formed on the root ,1), he posits that the word in the De Mundo may in fact
have originally been something like !/.1Y. The change to gmal is, of course, very
easy in the Estrangela script. As he also notes, the reading of Arabic Y (Brafman 149),
MN67( having feet) strongly supports his hypothesis.
223. The ms. has only ,:;, not ,:;.

224. The explanation of rumbling earthquakes is one of several that Barhebraeus

uses in the Butyrum (Takahashi 2004: 263-264).
- 47 -
These winds, then, that move sometimes are also mixed225 with the moisture in-

side the earth and therefore also occur in the sea in similarity to these.226 For there is

sometimes in the sea also a migration from place to place and the force of heavy waves

that sometimes meet each other from opposite [points], and sometimes they are only

pushed to one side, as is written to have happened in Helice and Bura.227 Sometimes too

fire is cast up228 in the sea and it causes the flow of springs, exit points for rivers, planti-

ngs of trees, the current, and the hurricane229 in similarity to those things they say occur

from the wind: some of these occur in large bays, some in small arms230 [of water]. For

many of these also cause a return of water and a tossing of the waves, a cycle with the

moon231 at specific times.

To say in a word: since the elements move in each other, it is natural that the same

similarities of variety, which cause the destruction and genesis of them little by little, sub-

225. This reading agrees with Stobaeus , while Lorimers text has
, hidden, referring to the moisture.

226. There is a division mark here but the sentence has more to do with what follows
than what precedes.
227. As with other proper names in the text, Syriac 903 G/?9Hc3 shows the Greek
accusative endings ( ). There is another division mark at the
end of this sentence.

I can find no more literal rendering of G"\ 9A*"! 1; it thus becomes necessary

to have the following verb singular in English rather than plural, as in Syriac (G"*0)).

229. Although the reason is unclear, these last two words are singular, hence the article
in English, as opposed to a generic plural without the article.
230. In Syriac tongues.
or (less likely) in
\EC U) \ ;*9N is either an asyndetic object of G"*0),
apposition to the two direct objects in the sentence.
- 48 -
sist in the air, the land, and the sea, for they keep the general part232 of the universe with-

out creation or destruction.233

Chapter five

Perhaps someone might say, How is the world composed of opposite principles,

that is, dry and wet, hot and cold, and has not long ago been destroyed and [396b] ru-

ined? This is like the way that someone might marvel concerning a city how it remains,

though composed of opposite classes, that is, poor and rich, young and old, weak and

strong, good and evil, not knowing234 that this is the skill of civic harmony, I mean that

one consensus comes from many, and that it becomes similar from things dissimilar,

since it accepts every nature and fortune. If, then, [115v] nature is pleased with those

things that are opposite and forms a consensus, as long ago male joined female, yet nei-

ther of them was outside of its class. It is acknowledged that it [nature] also brought to-

gether the first consensus of things that exist by means of opposite things and not similar

things. It seems to me that art also, since in everything it imitates nature, does this. For

232. I am not sure of the meaning of this word ('9A91). It is not in the lexica, but
Ryssel (48), without comment, translates it die Gesammtheit. Any connection with
!A91 (color) or !/A91 (corner) seems out of place, but it is most likely an abstract
derivative of 91 with the -n suffix (cf. RA91), hence the translation given here.

233. I have taken the final two phrases of the chapter (,0N !H 9"23 !H )adverbially,
but Ryssel (48) adjectivally: ungeschaffenen und unvergnglichen Alls. Were this
latter interpretation correct, we would expect (participial) adjectives (e.g. !H\ 23(; !H
!=.0N(;), not the quasi-prepositional phrases that Sergius gives.

234. The subject has become plural (G/H G/-7N) from the previous singular (2;(A

- 49 -
painting, as it joins the colors black, white, yellow, and red, completes the images that

they might be like their originals. Again, music, with low tones and high, longs and

shorts, with various sounds, completes one harmony from them all. Again, grammar too

has mingled various letters and so established the whole art of literature, as that which

was said by Heraclitus235 (named the dark), who said, A gathering to all and not-all;

one thing from all gathered; it has come236 and is passing; and again one from every-

thing.237 Thus, then, also it has mingled the structure of everything that exists, I mean,

heaven and earth and all the universe [alm], as one nature and arranged one harmony

out of opposite principles. In this way it joined dry with wet, cold with hot, heavy with

light, straight with crooked, and arranged all the land, sea, aether, sun, and moon, with

the whole heaven. The power that spread through all these is one, that which from differ-

ent and alien things, I mean, from air and earth and from fire and water, has created the

whole structure of the universe [alm] and has contained [it] on one surface of a sphere.

The natures that are in it, which are opposite of each other, it was necessary that they

235. De Lagarde corrected the ms. reading 5/.? to 5:/.?( at 147.27), once again
without indication. The reference is indeed clearly to the philosopher and not to the hero:
Hercules was never called !

236. Is this ( "(which is not a recognizable word) or R"("( which does not fit the
context), or perhaps an error for '( has come) or ( "(has brought)? I have
opted for ' in the translation, but it is a questionable passage. The following verb is
marked diacritically as a participle, while this verb could be either, therefore the sense
might also be comes and goes (away). Knig (Lorimer 1933: 106) apparently
(existierend) took it as some form with (".

237. The philosopher is called for a reason, evidenced by other Heraclitean

fragments as well. The fragment is only slightly more comprehensible in Greek than in
- 50 -
agree together, as it [the aforementioned power] skillfully is able to preserve238 the whole.

Again, by this power is fashioned the consensus of elements that it should match the non-

consensus, lest [397a] one239 of them be stronger than the other. [116r] For the heaviness

in the world possesses equal balance to the lightness, and, again, the heat possesses a

power that is equal to the cold,240 nature teaching us also through these great things that

equity is the preserver241 of concord, while concord is the salvation of the universe, which

is the begetter of everything and is more excellent than everything.242 For what is more

excellent than the universe? For whatever someone might open his mouth and say is part

of it! But even orderly arrangement [maksu] we take from the construction of the uni-

verse [tuqnh dlm] and say that it is constructed [mtaqqen].243 For what is there

238. I have taken \289A as a kind of madar. For a similar nominal usage from
Sergius hand, cf. SpirLife 100.7: '("(H

*N 9J.3,
And there is only one
thing left to demonstrate.
239. The number and verb are masculine and therefore refer to element (!6@9:C)
and not consensus ('9-.D).

240. The Greek has simply the other, opposite (; cf. Lorimers apparatus), but
Sergius has given the exact noun ('2"2?) implied by the text.

241. I have taken '9:A not as the abstract noun preservation, but rather the
feminine form (in agreement with '9"9D) of the nomen agentis \9:A. The Greek has
salvific, preserving.

242. These two lines in the ms. (116r13-14) show well the orthographic variability
present before the age of printing: in the first line everything is spelled ;*,@, then in
the next *-.@. The decision for the separate spelling in the first line is probably that in
that way it was easier to fill the line and so have no empty space at the end.
243. Sergius makes an effort to carry over the meaning of this Greek sentence of
etymological import, and the latter two terms in both languages belong to the same
respective root ( /, '(=?(;/E=?). For the first term he has used a
Syriac word derived from a Greek root ('967:;).

- 51 -
from these things in part244 that can equal the orderly arrangement of heaven and the

movement of the stars, sun, and moon, which move with exact measurements from age to

age? For what firmness could exist like this which preserves the seasons of the year,

which are excellent and productive of everything, causing summer and winter in orderly

arrangement, and days and nights for the fulfillment of months and the year? But even in

its size it surpasses everything, in its movement it is quickest of all, in its radiance most

excellent of all, and in its power it neither ages nor is destroyed. This, then, has kept the

nature of the various animals of the sea, the dry land, and the air and has ordained the life

and manners in self-movement, all the animals living245 and taking breath. From this too

arise harsh storms in orderly arrangement as winds of every kind blow, strong lightning

falls, and large floods occur. From these, as the air is pressed and the flame in it is evap-

orated, it brings the whole into concord. Again, the earth makes plants of every kind bear

fruit and shoots up springs of every kind, and there is in it...246 Again, it sometimes

makes animals come forth, receives and makes them bear fruit, as it makes a myriad of

244. Or particular things. The Syriac has \*"c3 \*"c3 G/H, which stands for

This feminine plural form is written with two yods: G//N.

246. The sentence ends simply with E3 (". There is no clear correspondence
between these words and the Greek text. The greater part of this Greek sentence is
, (The earth, too, that is crowned with plants of
every kind and bubbles with springs and teems with living creatures everywhere, that
brings forth everything in season and nurtures it and receives it back again, that produces
a myriad shapes and conditionsthis earth still keeps its neveraging nature unchanged...
[Furley 1955: 383), so there is simply something missing in the central part of this
- 52 -
grass varieties come forth and preserves nature in this pattern without age. [116v] Al-

though it sometimes shakes plants,247 overflows with floods, and is destroyed in some

parts with burnings of fire, it seems that even all these things happen for its good, since

they give248 eternal preservation to it. For [as] an exit of winds that occur from it [the

earth], when it reels and breaks up, breezes occur over it and, as we said above, it is puri-

fied when inundated with floods; it is washed of all sickness when refreshing breezes

roar and make purification for it and the things on it. [397b] Again, the flames that

come about in it soften the intense cold and frost. Again, those things, as they are re-

leased, produce springs and, to speak generally, all those things that happen in each part,

some reaching their prime and some in old age,249 the genesis of each250 helps destruction,

247. The expression does not make much sense and Knig passed over the difficulty
by translating this and the next phrase, durch Erdstsse und berschwemmungen in
Sintfluten erschttert (Lorimer 1933: 107) The verb 'eLA means to shake; to cast
down, and adequately matches , but the noun is clearly written as plants,
where the Greek has here earthquakes. I have translated what the Syriac says,

but there is probably an error, the word in question ('(3e=H) perhaps originally having

been a form from the root eLAa change from '(3e=H to 'eL=H being easy to
conceiveand therefore a cognate accusative with 'eLA. Admittedly, no such noun is
otherwise attested, as far as I know, but the root is well-known. Until another
explanation appears, then, this hypothesis may stand.
248. The form is passive (G0"E"), but I am not sure of the reason. It is perhaps simply

an error for G3E".

249. This Greek word () and its derivatives are usually rendered by ,0N and
its derivatives (see the Index).
250. The ms. is clear here and reads 'Y G; G"E"*H9;. The word ' Audo
(877-878) defines first with just part and then goes on to describe it as a torn part of
clothing, etc. Knig again missed the mark in his translation: ihre Hervorbringen with
a note that there is a letter missing and that we should assume von. He has completely
ignored the problematic word which follows the preposition he suggests. His observation
of an apparently missing letter is based on de Lagardes printed text, but there is in fact a
small dot still visible here in the ms. that would match a dla, so von (or a genitive) is
- 53 -
while destruction assists genesis. There is always one salvation of all these as they are

equal: their opposition to each other.251 As one prevails, another is prevailed over,252 [yet

they all]253 keep the whole without destruction forever.

Chapter six

Further, it is [time] to speak in brief also some concerning254 the cause that holds

everything that exists, as also concerning all these other things, because it is foolish for

one to speak concerning the worldeven if not accurately but as in accord with the pat-

tern of instruction255but to leave out a discussion that concerns that which is more ex-

cellent than the world! Now it is an old saying, a mother and institution of all men, that

[says]: Everything is established from God and because of God. For there is not even

indeed very likely here.

251. \*N ,0?9H 9/.39[C is an appositive to !=?9I *N.

252. An opposition must be intended here between peal and etpeel. For the latter
conjugation LS 552a has to be conquered (also the meaning in our passage) and cites
only one example, from the letters of Patriarch Ishoyab III (CSCO 64, ed. R. Duval,
139.18). PS 3003 lists a few places under etpeelwith a note that some possibly etpeel
he has listed under etpaalbut gives definition to prevail, the exact opposite of
Brockelmanns definition! I cannot check Brockelmanns Ishoyab reference, but those
given by PS do seem to concur with the active definition. Our passage, however, does at
least stand in favor of the meaning given in LS, so apparently the word could have both
active and passive meanings.
253. This insertion is meant to make clear that, while the verbs of the subordinate
clauses are singular, referring to individual events within the universe, that of the main
clause is plural and has to do with all the happenings in the universe taken together.
254. The ms. has ,), but de Lagarde (149.19) prints only ,).

255. This parenthesis further explains in brief above.

- 54 -
one nature that is sufficient of itself to continue, if it be alienated from his preservation.

Because of this it happens that some of the ancients said, All things that are seen by us

through our eyes and are perceived256 by us through our senses257 are full of gods.

This258 saying of theirs is fitting for the divine power, but is not proper for the ousia, for

God is truthfully259 the preserver and progenitor of all things that in any way are accom-

plished in the world, [117r] but does not himself sustain the world260 in the form of some

laboring creature, but uses his power without tiring,261 through which [power] he controls

even those things that seem far off and distant. The world, then, the top that is first and

exalted, is his lot, and therefore it seems that everything that is named [is also his lot], as

the poet Homer said, since he dwells in uppermost height, all of heaven.262 Especially

256. The Syriac word here continues G"fN(;, while the Greek has no explicit
counterpart. Not surprisingly, this pair visible and perceptible occurs elsewhere, for
example, in Sergius SpirLife (81.1, 100.3-4) and Jacobs Hexaemeron (Chabot 1928:
46a25-26, 47b15-16).
257. The word is singular in Syriac ((Z1), but I have put in plural in accord with
English idiom.
258. The postpositive G; correctly has a supralinear dot in the ms., but de Lagarde
(149.28) has omitted it.
259. For \2Z3 T" simply as an adverbial qualifier and not a subordinating clause,
cf. PS (146), who renders 'c1963 T" plerumque (generally).

260. De Lagarde (150.1) has silently corrected !-.) of the ms. to !.-) in agreement
with the Greek , but I have kept the ms. reading, as it makes sense as it stands.

261. Using similar language, Emmanuel b. ahhr affirms that God creates and orders
the world without fatigue: 'cH !H! .-) *Q.3 (Manna 1901: 2 172).

This line runs \2D !/-D E.@ !/.) ;! 23 ,:;. De Lagarde (150.5) added
is simply in apposition to
the relative marker before E.@, but it is unnecessary: !/-D E.@
!/.) ;! . Heaven, usually masculine, is here taken to be feminine (according to
the supralinear dot on the pronominal suffix).
- 55 -
and foremost the body nearest to him receives of his power, and, on account of this, the

one beneath it less, thus263 little by little until the places near us each and every thing that

exists according to its nature. Therefore the whole earth and the things on it seem

since264 they are in great distances265 from benefit from Godvery weak and feeble and

full of no little confusion, but since God is by nature active266 in every place, even the

things that are in places near us partake of his assistance. The things that are above us, in

accord with their nearness267 or distance [to him], thus more or less in accord with their

nature [398a] receive the benefit that is from him.

This is fitting, right, and proper especially to think about God, because the pow-

er268 that dwells in heaven, even for all the things that are very far off and distant it is the

cause of preservation and assistance, better than thinking that the same power, spread and

planted where it is not fitting and suitable, crosses over269 of itself to the things that are in

263. The preceding relative marker of 9@ resumes the pronoun of !A ,:;.

264. The ms. has a clear ,:;, while de Lagarde (150.8) has ,:;. The ww here
begins a circumstantial clause (Ara 2: 240), i.e. a -Y0( Wright 1898: 2: 183).


Reading '9A*Q0-3,
not '9A*0Q-3.

266. De Lagarde gives 20Q-H for *0Q-H of the ms., apparently to agree with
of the Greek text, but it is questionable whether 20) has this meaning. The
translation given above matches the Syriac but certainly verges on contradicting the
belief that God, although he indeed works in the world, does so only through
intermediaries, a central tenet of the chapter.
267. The sym on this word are probably an error.
268. Sergius has made the subject emphatic by topicalization and resumes it with 9"
it is.
269. Baumstark (1904: 407, 504 n. 280) changes 20) to *0)
to line up with
of the Greek text, and he also compares the very similar expression at 117v36-38, which
has *0) and not 20).
Once again, though Baumstarks emendation is almost certainly
- 56 -
the earth, for this is not proper to think even about some human being,270 [with regard to]

what is entrusted to some man or other; I mean, the leader of an army, or a city, or house.

For it would not be fitting for him to carry common items, if it were necessary to move

them, or to do some other commonplace task, that which happens and a slave does,271 but

[he should be] as is recorded concerning the great king Cambyses, and Cyrus272 and Dar-

ius, that they were adorned with great pomp and glory and with greatness of [117v] beau-

ty, and each one of them (as is reported) dwelt in Susa or Ecbatana, while remaining in a

comely royal residence and observing273 everything marvelously, dwelling in a palace

glistening with gold, electrum, and ivory, and having gates many and large. He is situat-

ed within many gates that are stadia away from each other and fortified within gates of

bronze and large walls. For beyond them (as it is said) men stand, those who are

foremost and strong, ornamented around him, his garrison and servants to guard the

palace, those that are called gatekeepers and the rear-guard, so that the king might seem

[to be] God, because he sees all and hears all.

correct for the original text, I have kept the ms. reading in the translation because it can
stand on its own apart from reference to the Greek text.
270. The expression could hardly be more indefinite: !Z=/=3 G; MA* N.

271. There is a section divider here in the Syriac but I have not divided the paragraphs
in the translation to avoid the apparent anacolouthon that would then result.
272. As below (117v36), Sergius gives Cyrus, where the Greek has Xerxes.

273. For Sergius has the active cN, and so apparently did not read this word
with -privative, nor as a passive adjective.
- 57 -
In places274 they divided duties275 and appointed for him generals over cities and

hunts, others to receive gifts, and others diligent in tasks performed by hand,276 and in all

the empire of Asia, the border of which on the western side is the Hellespont, on the east-

ern side the Indians,277 among all peoples278 he had leaders, satraps, servants of kings,

watchmen, couriers, messengers, watchmen for signal-fires,279 who signaled one to anoth-

er. Such was his280 ornament, greatness,281 and beauty, and especially with respect to the

watchmen, who transmitted one to another the fire-light from the end of his282 empire to

Susa the Fortress283 and Ecbatana, with the result that on the very day the king might

know everything that happened as news284 or that moved in Asia. [398b] All those things

274. A bare adverbial 'Y.

275. This seems to be the meaning, but it is unattested elsewhere for '(.).

276. Sergius apparently read , where Lorimer gives .

277. See Lorimers critical apparatus (). This is not simply an error by addition
of seym for : in that case we should also expect \EA.

E.73, but we should perhaps add before !--).
The text has !--)

279. Literally, watchmen of the place of fire.

280. I have taken these pronominal suffixes as referring to the king himself;
alternatively, it might refer to the empire (!=:H9D).

281. Baumstark (1904: 407) emends 9"c" 93 to 9"c" 93.

282. There is a dot over the far edge of the suffix in E=:H9D, but it is probably the
upper dot of the divider rather than the supralinear dot marking the 3fs suffix (contra de
Lagarde 151.13).
283. The Greek text simply has , but Sergius has followed a ancient near
eastern naming custom for the city, as Hebrew ( e.g. Neh. 1:1, Est. 1:2, Dan.
8:2), on which see Poebel 1933. Fortress was applied in Aramaic to other cities, too,
e.g. Elephantine (TAD A passim); Susa is used without in TAD A 6.12.1. For
the Aramaic see AIOA 44, and for the word in Hebrew, Mankowski 2000: 46-47.

- 58 -
are recorded about the great king, but it is right to consider his glory and the greatness of

his beautyin comparison with God, he who governs the worldinferior, just as the

magnificence of some commonplace and feeble creature is inferior to his.

Therefore, if it is obscene to think that Cyrus285 himself did everything and ac-

complished [118r] everything he wanted done with his own hands, and was found every-

where, thus governing indeed, it is much more obscene to think this even about God: it is

more obscene than this and not fitting! Truly, that which someone should think: that, al-

though dwelling in the uppermost place, his power is spread throughout the whole world,

moves the sun and moon, turns the whole heaven, and is the cause of preservation of

everything in the earth, for he does not need the service and help of others, as rulers

among us need aid in accord with their weakness. Rather, this is something exalted and

divine: that easily and with simple movement he accomplishes things of every kind, as

practitioners of that great art do: by means of a single bolt of the machine they accom-

plish many and various actions. In this fashion also those who move several286 puppets,

when they pull287 a single string, they make the puppets neck move, and its hand and eye.

284. The adverb here (*N) is one exhibiting the old feminine absolute ending (SG
285. The Greek here has .

286. For this meaning of ;*see LS 375b s.v. mng. 3. Knig (Lorimer 1933: 110)
incorrectly has only eine Figur (eine Puppe).
287. This mng. for E" is otherwise unknown to me. Knig (Lorimer 1933: 110)
adds the word Impuls and takes E" in its regular sense of give and the preposition
instrumentally: mit einer einzigen Sehne (Schnur) einen Impuls geben; the addition of
Impuls, though, seems too great a leap.
- 59 -
Sometimes they even make288 all the parts move in a certain order. Thus too the divine

nature from the simple movement of the first body applies power to the things next to it,

and from them again extends it to things far off until it crosses through all. For all that

moves starts with that:289 so one thing moves another with all the world, and thus each

and every part of the universe does its work according to290 the preparation of each and

every one of them, for the method of each one is not the same, but one or another291 of

different kinds. Some possess an opposite way in their movement, even from their first

beginning, though there is one start for all things, as if someone were to toss292 a ball

from a container and at the same time a pebble and a cone, for each one of them would

move according to its own particularity. Or if someone were to have in his lap [118v]

some sea animal and at the same time a ground creature and a bird and then made them

go out at the same time, it is known that the aquatic293 one, jumping into the depth of its

habitat, will hurry to swim away; the one from the ground, according to its manners and

customs will wiggle around and creep along; and the one of the air, when it lifts itself up

288. The ms. (as well as de Lagarde) has *0), but this must be an error for G"*0),
agreement with the previous part of the sentence and prior occurrence of this verb.
289. Literally, all that moves, this from that.
The preposition is used in this way again a few lines later: EC9
-=H /QH
according to its manners and customs (118 10).

291. I have followed the ms. and not Baumstarks (1904: 411) emendation to '("2N

292. Reading\*ZA for \2ZA.

293. Baumstark (1904: 407) emended !/; to !-", presumably based on !-" a few
lines above, but the text makes sense without the change and Sergius may have simply
been using variatio in his wording.
- 60 -
from the ground, will fly upward and flee; there being one first cause that294 has given to

all of them the facility vivifying it. For thus [399a] it is right to think also about the

world, for by means of the circuit of heaven, which is bounded by day and night, the vari-

ous results of everything in the heavens come about and, though they are contained in one

sphere, some move quickly and some slowly,295 in accord with the lengths of the dis-

tances which are defined according to the preparation of each and every one of them. For

the moon ends its full course in one month as it waxes, wanes, and decreases,296 while the

sun makes its course for a whole year, and in its pattern too the two stars that are before

it, I mean, Kawakbta [Venus] and the one called Hermes [Mercury]; but Ares [Mars] runs

its course in twice the time of those, and Bel [Jupiter] in six times the time of this one,

and finally the one named Kewan [Saturn] in one and a half times that of the one below

it. One harmony is brought together297 from all these as they go and move in heaven,

294. Following Baumstarks addition of the relative marker (1904: 407).

295. The lexica do not give this meaning for ("2/[", but in contrast to the preceding
("c./.?, it fits. In any case the steps from move with heaviness / difficulty to move
slowly are few.
296. Two of the three verbs used here (\e3 !-]I !/3 )@* ;(also occur with
reference to the moons phases in the Syriac version of Nicolaus Compendium: !3Y *@
Ye3( Drossaart Lulofs 1969: 87). For the first verb, however, Sergius has used an
ethpeel, while the translator of the Compendium opted for a simple peal. The reason for
the sym in the Compendium is unclear, though: if the subject is plural, referring to

phases (9[6I), the first verb should be 93Y, and the second too should have a w at the
end (and the sym are still quite irregular); if the subject is singular, referring to moon
(which can be either masculine or feminine, but the suffix on phases shows that the
translator is here thinking of it as masculine), the letters are correct, but the sym are
then, of course, out of place. Drossaart Lulofs does not comment on the problem.
297. Our Greek text has , but Sergius seems to have read .
- 61 -
from one creation and toward one result:298 this [harmony] it [?] has plainly called299 the

construction300 of all, and has not named it non-construction. As, then, when an instruc-

298. The English Payne Smith (599) gives a word !@ 2D tendency, result, which is
not in PS (or the Supplement), LS, Audo, or Cardahi, but this must be the meaning here,
as !@2 D remainder makes little sense in the context. Knig (Lorimer 1933: 112)

arrived at the same meaning, but by semantic extension of !@2 D:
brigen (= Ende).

The form here (2?) is a 3ms perfect with 3fs object suffix, which resumes the

extraposed that begins the clause and refers back to !/=;( harmony). The
question is: What is the (masculine) subject of the verb? In Greek the corresponding verb
is a participle () governed by harmony and the primary object is :
One harmony out of all these things that sing and dance together in heaven arises from
one thing and ends in one thing, truly [] having named the whole [ ]
order [] and not disorder [] (399a12-14). The Syriac, then, in
comparison with the Greek, 1) has a different subject for call/name, 2) has a different
direct object, and 3) represents with ,@, now no longer as object of call, but
as a qualifier for !=?. The question of the subject of 2? remains open, and the
translation given above merely smoothes out the difficulty. Arabic F (Brafman 108) is
like neither the Syriac nor the Greek, and K (Brafman 134) is too periphrastic. The Y ms.
(Brafman 159), which reads -DX0 -RZ "@ : "m!0- ?1]=T\D0
;< -R]Z -Z@Y0 G' (V -T]&
U ;!4!0 : "Uu-dF UTH? -H0 1d]i
5DX? M90 : ":HV -(:HV
M90 : ":HV 50 5RT8&
1H@?0 m0- &\-V (From these movements a single synthesis comes together, with all their
movement in the heavens, and their beginning is one beginning, and the whole ends at
one beginning; the whole was called the constitution [see Lane 801] of the Creator, with
its rank and permanence being one, and there is nothing in it that conflicts with its rank),
does have similarities with the Syriac, but the part of the sentence in question
unfortunately finds little elucidation from this Arabic version too; the subject of 5DX?
(was called) is M90( the whole), different from both the Greek and Syriac!

300. See Strohm 343 and R&B 334-335 for the philosophical references to this
passage, beginning with Plato, Gorg. 508A, though earlier thinkers were already heading
in this direction (cf. Peters 1967: 108). !=? here stands for . As is well known,
this common Greek word for world or universe principally has to do with order.
Apuleius has ornamentum, Strohm (254) translates Kosmos (schmuckvolle
Ordnung), and R&B (223) have il nome di cosmo, ossia di ordine; the English
versions (Forster 1914: 399a14, Furley 1955: 395) too have similar renderings with
order. There is no question that in the Greek text here order is the paramount
concern in naming and describing the universe, but how well does !=? communicate
this meaning in Syriac? The verbal form is known from several Semitic languages:
- 62 -
tor301 in a group starts singing, the whole gathering answers him, often [consisting] of

men and women, who with thin and thick sounds mingle one melody, it is also this way

with God the leader of all, for on account of his movement from abovelike302 that

initiator303 in the group, called the beginning of allthe stars also move and, therefore,

too, the whole heaven. [119r] The sun, too, that shines over all, goes along its two cours-

es, in one limiting day and night with its risings and settings, in the other causing the

years four seasons as it creeps forward to the north and backward to the south. Rains,

too, arise at their time, and winds and dew, and many other things that occur in the air on

Akkadian (CAD T 197-199), Late Biblical Hebrew (Qoh 7:13, also Sir 47:9; see HALOT
1784-1785), Rabbinic Hebrew (Jastrow 1691-1692), Arabic (Lane 309), and Aramaic
(HALOT 2009, DJPA 589-590, DJBA 1228-1229, PS 4483-4486, LS 831-832, MD
489-490), with meanings centering around preparing, correcting, and establishing. The
noun pattern here is common to derivations from pael verbs (SG 117). The word has
several meanings (PS 4486-4487, LS 832b), but the ones most relevant for this context
9 53 . -+ , "0
3 .)+ , -',
are among the synonyms that Audo (1122) gives: )< ' .53) : , -;
.), 8
that is, constitution; bringing something into existence; the structure of something;
construction. Drower and Macuch give for the Mandaic noun tuqna the definition
order (MD 483), and, insofar as order is understood as the proper arrangement or
structure of something, then this meaning fits our Syriac noun too, and so, Sergius has
done well to translate with !=?. According to Emmanuel b. ahhr, it was this
ordered construction of the world that was lacking at the beginning of primeval history:
! ;(?=(' H(' 3e; !H 2I9D 9/LN)! c3 E3 90.) 93 U) 2/1
,/7; (Manna 1901: 2 171), toh with boh [i.e. ] prevailed over the earth and
obscured its beauty, and it was no longer ornamented and well-arranged.
This (E=L.;) is the regular word for teacher in all Aramaic dialects (see e.g.
DJBA 682, MD 245, DJPA 311), while there are several words for leader, such as (in
Syriac) !A23*; (the most common term), !=.0Z;, !A9-]", !", and !=Z"which
would have been an etymological match for the Greek term used here ()and
in this particular context \91 M" would also have been quite suitable.

302. A should be read before the pronoun in the words !="2Z; ' 9;*3.

303. De Lagarde (153.7) prints a dot beneath the word (!="2Z;),

but there is not one in
the ms.
- 63 -
account of the first cause, productive from long ago.304 Following these are the flowings

of rivers, swellings of seas, plantings of trees, the ripening of fruits, the offspring of ani-

mals, and again the change of all things, the prime and destruction that aid their produc-

ers well, as I said above: that that leader and progenitor of all is not visible to anything

else except the mind [and] making known all this nature that moves between heaven and

earth, for all of it goes around continually in a circle and in specific limits from one be-

ginning, sometimes being seen of itself305 and sometimes not being seen, and it shows us

a myriad of other things within it, and again hides them.

[399b] This thing that is done well seems to be like the things that happen espe-

cially in time of war, when the trumpet sounds and signals to the people. For then as

soon as everyone hears the sound of the trumpet, this one takes a shield, that one puts on

a corselet, and yet another girds himself with greaves,306 helmet, and breastplate; again,

some harness horses, others mount chariots, the one who gives the watchword summons,

the one over the troop immediately stands ready with the troop, the company-man with

the company,307 the horseman immediately with a flank of the army, and again the foot-

304. For the construct state before prepositions and adverbs (to which this
prepositional phrase, U"*? G;, is equivalent), see SG 206, 207. The prepositional
phrase can mean simply earlier, previously in addition to long ago (cf. LS 647b s.v.
!-"*?, mng. 6), the latter meaning appropriate here in concert with the foregoing !/;*?.

305. The exact significance of this E=; is not clear, but cf. SG 249B, where this
preposition is followed by EH to indicate, by itself.

306. Singular in Syriac.

307. The phrase E678 9H 57:;
continues the previous */0)( QD23 G?

\91 9H \91 ,), and so 57:;
is parallel to \91 ,) */0) .
The word takes
its meaning from in the sense of band, company (LSJ 1756 s.v. mng. I.4), hence
the translation given here.
- 64 -
soldier stands ready308 at his post.309 They all get moving under one signal310 at the com-

mand of the leader who holds authority.

In this way it is right to think also about the movements of the universe, for from

one [119v] shift, as all that exists moves, all their works come about in order, although

the mover and leader is neither movable nor perceptible, a fact that does not stop him

from acting nor us from believing. For even the soul on account of which we live and

possess houses and cities, though not movable, is visible from its works, and all the orna-

ment and activity of this world has been found to be constituted in this: that is, the culti-

vation of lands, the propagation of plants, the reckonings and usages of skills, the orna-

ment of laws, the governments of cities, common activities, war beyond borders, and the

like311 peace.312 Therefore it is right to consider also about God, that in power he is more

powerful than all, in his excellence stronger than all, and so, though he is not visible to

any mortal nature, from his works he is perceived and recognized. For the changes that

308. The Greek has at this part , that is: In Greek, he runs
to his post; in Syriac, he is seen as there and ready. Logically the Greek text makes the
most sense in light of the other examples given.
309. These last four clauses (concerning the one over the troop, the company-man, the
but it is explicit only in the first
horseman, and the foot-soldier) all have as their verb G?,
and last clauses, thus forming an inclusio.
310. This word (!=)9Z;) recalls signals (E)9D )from earlier in the paragraph and
even making known (9Z;) from the previous paragraph.

311. That is, peace with other nations.

312. The word is plural in Syriac. The previous war (!32?), however, is singular, as
are both nouns in the Greek text. Incidentally the sym on peace are over the in, not
the yod, which is how de Lagardes text has it. Of course, this difference does not affect
meaning, but as a point of accuracy in editing mss. it is worth pointing out.
- 65 -
take place above, and all those that take place through the air above the earth and in the

sea, announce that they are in truth the works of God, who controls the whole world,

from whom, as Empedocles the natural philosopher has said, are all things existing now

and yet to be, all plants, men with women, animals, birds, and fish dispersed313 in the

sea. Foreven though it is quite lowly and inferiorit314 is like the things called the

313. Baumstark (1904: 407) is right to add the relative marker before G/CY;(.
Unlike in English, the relative is always required in such an instance in Syriac.
314. Not he, as the participle is feminine (cf. SG 201).
- 66 -
joints of scissors,315 for316 the pins that are fixed in the middle of the joint of the other part

hold the shape of the scissors, holding together and keeping in order, but not moving.317

We say also about Pheidias the maker of sculptures,318 that as he was making the statue of

315. The Greek word translated here, , may mean scissors, razor; sewer drain;
vault (LSJ 2017). The surrounding words of the passage taken as a whole suggest the
last of these given meanings and the modern translators follow suit (Forster 399b30,
Furley 1955: 399, Strohm 256, R&B 227 [see 337-338 for commentary]). The reference
to pins, however, in the Syriac (not in Greek) makes it more likely Sergius understood
the Greek word in the first of the meanings given above, and I have translated
accordingly. As for the word '2L6;, there are two roots spr in Aramaic, one meaning
to count, write, and the other to cut, and it is from the latter that the word in question
derives. Brockelmann (LS 492b) rightly gives a masculine (see below) and feminine

form (vocalized '2 L6 ;) of the word with the meaning razor (citing Land 1868:
134.19 and two places in Barhebraeus Chronicon [cf. Budge 1932: I 271, 290]) or
shears; PS (2709-2710) also gives both forms of the word with the meaning scissors,

but for the feminine wordwhy does he vocalize it '2L 6;?referring to the passage
here in the De Mundo, offers the definition vault, curved part (in a building).

Similarly, Audo (661) defines the word (here vocalized correctly as '2L6 ;),

< % )BB' .)D .@AB?
)+0+ 3 , that is, in the meaning of maspr [scissors, razor]; also vault,
hollow, curved part in a building. For these Syriac words we may compare the form in
Onqelos/Jonathan ( in Ezek 5:1 the form is ), which translates Hebrew
and , and in JBA and
, both meaning scissors (DJBA 691-692;
no similar form in Mandaic). There is no evidence that the Syriac word '2L6; ever
means vault (contra Knig [Lorimer 1933: 113], Schwibbogen), only razor or
scissors, the latter most fitting in this passage. Here Brockelmann has presented the
matter accurately, but Payne Smith, followed by Audo, has apparently given the word as
an architectural term merely on the basis of the Greek original, while an attentive reading
of the Syriac text casts this meaning into serious doubt, and it should be purged from the
Syriac lexicon.
316. and 2/1 function here doubly to mark this causal clause.

317. These three verbs are all singular, but apparently refer to the pins. It is very
unlikely that pins (') should be corrected to the singular number, since the previous
verbs that follow it are clearly plural (G"2:A...G/Q/0?). This is probably, then, a simple case
of anacolouthon. In passing, it may be said that Nldekes discussion of this feature (SG
381), even though in a kurzgefasste grammar, is too meager; neither Brockelmann
(1968: 221) nor Muraoka (2005: 92) in their sections on grammatical concord, both
grammars lacking a section specifically on anacolouthon, go much further.
318. A Greek word (!:="Y < ) is here used to translate another Greek word
- 67 -
Athena, which is set in the upper city,319 he set his own face in the middle of her shield

and joined the whole statue with it320 and put it [400a] [the statue] together by means of a

skill that is not visible, so that [120r] if someone ever wants to take it,321 it is necessary to

undo and ruin the whole statue.

In this pattern, then, is God in the world, in that he holds the harmony and preser-

vation of all that exists, without being in the center,322 where323 the earth and this troubled

([]). On this phenomenon see further Brock 1975: 87 n. 43. It is of

additional note that this compound Greek word is rendered partly by a Greek loanword

(!:="Y), partly by a native Syriac word (*0)).

319. That is, the Acropolis.

320. The pronominal suffix here refers either to the shield or the face.
321. The suffix on 9/06-H requires discussion. The standard 3ms ending for
suffixes on the infinitive is the same as that attached to singular nouns: -h, so we expect
here E06-H.
No infinitive form regularly takes the suffix form seen here, -iyw(hy), the
form that appears on the 2fs perfect, 3ms and 2ms imperfect, and the fs imperative. The
initial vowel of the ending in the feminine forms is the original ending of these feminine
verbal forms, which is otherwise unpronounced in Syriac, but well known from other
Semitic languages, and it attaches to the -w(hy) ending known elsewhere as the 3ms
ending to masculine plural nouns. On the masculine imperfect forms the same ending is
an alternative to the -h form. The Old Aramaic 3ms suffix on singular nouns was -ih(u)
(Garr 1985: 102) and on dual and plural nouns -awhi (Garr 1985: 107). The -h form is
also used as the suffixed objective pronoun on verbs (Degen 1969: 80, Garr 1985: 110),
as in later Aramaic (MG 200, see JPA references below). The other form probably
developed as follows: -ay (construct masculine dual/plural ending) + -hu (3ms suffix) > -
awhu > -awhi (see Garr 1985: 107). This -aw- becomes the -- of the familiar Biblical
Aramaic ending -h, while the diphthong remains stable in Syriac, and the -hi-, while
written, is no longer pronounced. The unexpected form seen here is probably due to the
fact that the 3ms and 2ms imperfect take either the -h ending as elsewhere in Aramaic,

or the ending -iw (written 9"), and this option has been extended to the infinitive, which
normally takes the -h ending.
322. That is, unlike Pheidias face in the shield.
323. De Lagarde (154.28) is probably right to read 2@ instead of the ms. reading 20@,
but once again he does not indicate any emendation.
- 68 -
place are, dwelling, rather, above as pure in a pure place, which we call heaven. They

call heaven Olympus324 because it is the limit above (for the likeness of the noun heav-

en in the Greek language is as the limit above, for they call heaven ouranos, limit

oros,325 and above ann326). They call it Olympius,327 as something that gives light

completely328 and is distant from all darkness329 and disordered movement, things that oc-

cur here with us through storms and the force of winds, as the poet has said, you have

made Olympus,330 pure for God,331 an eternal dwelling place, which is never shaken by

winds, nor again do rains moisten it, nor does snow sprinkle it, but clear weather without

a cloud, pure indeed, is spread out in it. All everyday common practice332 also bears wit-

324. The word is vocalized as having an e-Anlaut.

325. Not horos: the pronunciation of the rough breathing had long since passed away
in Greek.
326. Sic! What can explain the ending in -n? There is a phenomenon in JPA where
indeclinable words ending in a long vowel appear with -n (Dalman 1905: 102; see also
Kutscher 1976: 61 with the literature at n. 79), and analogous behavior may have taken
place here.
327. This time written with an internal yod.
328. Literally, that all of which shines.
329. De Lagarde (155.3) has without indication corrected '989) to '989-).

330. Spelled without mim here.

331. Stern (1964: 204 n. 46) incorrectly has gods in his brief reference to this
passage. Stern is right, however, to point out the error in Knigs German version (in
Lorimer 1933: 114), which mistakenly has Reinheit for rein (!/@ )and habe
ich...gegeben (which would be (3E" and not E"(3E" of the ms.) for hast
332. Reading \23 for \23 of the ms.; de Lagarde (155.8) gives only the correct
- 69 -
ness with these things that the upper region is given as separate to God, for, certainly,333

all of us humans beings lift our hands to heaven in prayers and supplications and on ac-

count of this it is said, not wrongly, by the poet, To Zeus is heaven allotted, aether and

clouds. Because of the perceptible things, the most revered among them have the same

type,334 for the stars, sun,335 moon, and all the celestial [bodies] because of this always

possess order, and therefore are fixed, never changing or altering, like the things on the

earth that change all the time and possess limitless alteration, for, as is well known,336 fre-

quent337 earthquakes split many parts of the earth, rains that fall by chance inundate them,

the rush and storms of waves often have changed much dry land to sea and dried up many

seas, the force of violent winds and [120v] frequent gales have overturned many cities

entirely; flames of fire, some from heaven first of all, as they say happened in the days of

Phaethon, burned up all the eastern parts, and some on the surface of the western region

would338 blow and rise, as at Aetna,339 and split hard mountains and flow in the earth in

333. This adverb is an attempt to render the Syriac interjection '.

334. Apparently Sergius read , where the received text has .

335. De Lagarde (155.13) has this word without a preceding conjunction, but
Baumstark (1904: 408) added it in correction. The ms. here has a smudge but there is
certainly room for a and part of the letter (right edge) is in fact visible.

336.This admittedly expansive translation of the interjection '( cf. NOTE

NUMBER above) serves in place of anything more literal, but conveys the sense well.
337. The word (!0/@) can also mean intense, vehement but I have opted for
frequent because the point here seems to be the contrast of the changeless upper region
with the lower region that is throughly subject to change and frequent makes this
contrast more obvious. The same word occurs a few lines later with winds and there I
have translated it violent, since the referent is the force (\2/:?) of those winds.

338. The previous verbs were perfect but those following this one are all participles.
339. Jacob too mentions volcanic activity on Sicily, though without naming Mt. Aetna
- 70 -
the form of a river. [400b] The numen340 of the place chiefly honored341 the work342 of the

merciful and distinguished343 it, for when the course of the flame344 reached the young

men carrying their parents on their shoulders and wanting to save them, it did not harm

them, for as soon as they approached with them,345 the river of fire was split apart and it

turned the fury of the flame this direction and that and preserved346 without harm the

young men with their parents.

specifically (Chabot 1928: 57a24-33).

340. This meaning of \*1 (pace LS 104a s.v. mng. 2) probably developed under the
influence of similar meanings of Greek (LSJ 1839 s.v. mng. IV, cf. also Lampe
1422 s.v. mng. 1b). For this understanding elsewhere in Aramaic, note its apparently rare
occurrence in JPA (DJPA 120), as well as genius in JBA (DJBA 260).
341. The ms. (and de Lagarde) have a supralinear point on 2[", which Baumstark
(1904: 406) changed to a sublinear point. The difference is between a peal perfect
(Baumstarks emendation), to be honored, and a pael (ms. and de Lagarde), to honor
(though Baumstark apparently interpreted the point as indicating a peal participle). There
is no reason to emend the ms., since numen is the subject of both verb (E"9N...2[")
work the object of the same. Baumstark apparently read the first part of the sentence
here as the work of the merciful was honored, a possible interpretation, but given the
fact that the ms. reading also makes good sense, no recourse to changing it is called for.
342. The Greek has . Lorimer suggests but the suggestion does not help
much with reference to the Syriac reading.
343. The verb is the common verb to show (9N) and has the sense here, pointed it
out (as unique).
344. This word does not properly render any specific word from the Greek, but with
!" it clarifies and here means lava.

345. The preposition and object 9H may refer to the parents, but the construction
is awkward. It is possibly an ethical dative, referring back to the young men, but this too
is not a straightforward meaning.
346. Baumstark (1904: 406) adds a sublinear point to indicate the perfect; the addition
is helpful but not necessary as the verb, preceded by the conjunction and coming after
two perfect verbs with the same subject, could not easily by read as anything but a
- 71 -
To speak, then, in a word: as a captain in a ship, a driver347 in a chariot, an instruc-

tor in a chorus,348 the law349 in the city, and a leader in the army,350 so is God in the world,

except for the fact that the authority of these is in the world and with movement and care,

but his is without distress, as he is far removed from351 any human weakness, while

dwelling in immovable power [and] moving everything that exists and turning [them]

wherever he wills and however he wills in various forms and natures of every kind.

For as even the law of a city, though it is not movable, it moves and directs all the

things that happen in the city by the lives of those who use it, for when they receive it, the

governors use352 the same thing as those who are governed by them, judges in their

courts, counselors and speakers in their assemblies, this one by it [the law] goes to the

prytaneion to pay his fine,353 that one rushes to the court to defend himself, and another is

led to prison to die. Also by law occur [121r] the common meals, the festivals from year

347. The word is to be read '9=D, but the nun is written short and so looks like a yod.

348. Cf. the note above [GIVE NUMBER] on !=L.;.

349. There is a problem with this passage in Greek, on which see the fine discussion of
Lorimer (1925: 114-119), but Sergius stands with most other witnesses in testifying to

350. The word order of these phrases in Greek is: prepositional phrase, noun; the
Syriac word order is exactly opposite except in the next to last phrase, !C9-A '(="*-3.

but should undoubtedly be read G;.
The word has a supralinear point (G;),
352. Sergius simply repeats the previous Syriac verb, but the Greek text is rather
different at this point: ,
for in obedience to the law the magistrates go to their offices (Furley 1955: 403).
353. Or perhaps, to impose a fine; Knig (Lorimer 1933: 115) renders literally, dass
er seinen Tribut hinwerfe (= erlege). The Greek is completely different: ,
to eat.
- 72 -
to year, the sacrifices of the gods, the offerings of Ares,354 the rest355 of the weary,356 and

everyone is set to his task differently by one command and legal authority. It preserves

the order that belongs to it, because this is the form of the city, which here was full of

joy,357 there [full of] distress and groaning.358 In this way, too, it is right to think about

this great city,359 I mean about the world. For God is for us a fair law, which is not sus-

ceptible to correction or change360 at all, but fixed and established more than the kuboi361

that are inscribed as a kind of section,362 the whole world being administered as he leads

354. This is how a Syriac reader would have understood the text (5"), but de
Lagarde (156.15) addsthis time explicitlya ww to read 5" and match the Greek

355. '(J/A means rest in general, but also agape feast held for the dead (LS 419b).
Brockelmann (LS 419b) gives two references too for gift. The word here could be
translated rest, feast, or gift, the last of which agrees best with the Greek.
356. The Greek is used metaphorically for the dead (LSJ 873 s.v.
mng. 5). The Syriac !"cH (participle, but not absolute) is a literal rendering; I do not
know of this metaphorical meaning in Syriac, but see previous note.
357. This the reading of the text (!-C93), but in light of the Greek
(incense), it is tempting to assume originally a form of '9=-63. Another possibility,
though, is that !-C93 had in addition to joy the meaning incense, thus far
358. In Greek this saying is of the poet and is known from the
beginning of Sophocles Oedipus Rex (ll. 4-5).
359. There is a division mark in the ms. here.
360. The ms. reads !=19D, which de Lagarde (156.20) rightly corrects to !/=19D,
again with no indication of the change.
361. The Greek has tablets, but Sergius either read here a form of or,
more likely, a scribe miscopied or intentionally altered the unfamiliar 93Y9? to 939?.
Lagarde (156.20) corrects the form to 93Y9?.

362. These words are probably to be understood as indicating a summary of the fuller
collections the law.
- 73 -
equitably and orderly and divides heaven and earth and the things in them, all of them:

plants and animals of every genus and every species,363 also [401a] vines, palms, perseai,

sweet figs, and olives,364 as the poet has said, and those other trees that are without fruit,

but serve the use of other necessities: plane trees, cedars, cypresses [or a kind of cedar],

white alders, the black poplar, and the cypress, whose scent is pleasant,365 and those again

that produce sweet fruit that are hard to store,366 that is, walnut367 trees, pomegranates, and

apples; and again animals of every kind, the wild that are untamed368 and that live in the

air, on the ground, and in the sea, all those that the poet has said. They come into being,

363. !6=1 and !D occur elsewhere in the text in more general meanings, but here
their technical specification is intended.
364. The words of the poet (Odyssey 11.590) are only ,
but it is unlikely that a Syriac reader, at least one reading the De Mundo in Syriac and not
in Greek, would have been able to delimit the quotation exactly.
365. The last three tree names are from Odyssey 5.64 but as there is no reference to
the poet, most Syriac readers would not have recognized the quotation.
366. Based on the meaning of the verb from which it derives, the given meaning of
!.;9N is gathering, collection (LS 240a [only this passage cited]; Knig,
Einsammlung [Lorimer 1933: 116]; not in PS or Suppl.), but the produce named here is
hardly difficult to gather. The Greek hard to store is very simple and
would not have been misunderstood by so experienced a Hellenist as Sergius, so it is
necessary to add to the Syriac lexicon the meaning storage for !.;9N.

367. The Syriac word means (wal)nut (tree) (see in general Lw no. 63), but
pears. Pear in Syriac (aside from the rare words !- "28
[LS 289b] and !- /82 I [LS
595b]) is \;(9@ (LS 333; cf. JBA [ DJBA 563], and in general Lw no. 153),

but note the similarity between the word here, '91, and words like Hebrew
(Jastrow 13) and Arabic -c*/-c*/-N , which equals D p V or @e D Z pear (Lane

368. The Syriac has exactly the opposite meaning of the Greek text, i.e. without !H
the Syriac would agree with the Greek as we have it.
- 74 -
reach their prime, and come to destruction in that they follow the laws of God, for all

that creeps, as Heraclitus has said, grazes369 in all the earth.370

Chapter seven

Although he is one, the same371 is many-named,372 for he is named from many

happenings among us. For he is called living, for we live in him, as if someone were to

say, We live in Zeus,373 or again in374 Cronus, as he directs chronos, that is, time

equally from age to age; giver of lightning,375 thunderer, aethereal, celestial, and giver of

369. The ms. reading !;

is likened makes little or no sense. !) is an easy change
and matches the Greek (see already Lorimer 1933: 98 n. 1); also see the
following note.
370. The Greek text has , but, as suggested by Lorimer, we should consider
or , which would stand close to the Syriac.

371. The text reads @* ,

but the function of the is not clear.
372. Literally, much of names. Not surprisingly, the following long series of names
in the Syriac version does not match the Greek version exactly, either in the number of
names or in the order.

The ms. has c3, with the third letter in the shape of dla / r, but with two

dots, one above, one below. De Lagarde (157.4) reads it as r (meaning?), but the
correction f3 was suggested by Baumstark (1904: 408). This does agree with the
Greek (sc. /), but the name is typically spelled, in this text and elsewhere,
simply as . The phonological observation of similarity between and is, of
course, lost in Syriac, and Sergius, unlike his method above on Olympus, does not offer
any explanation to explain the connection.
374. Why in ( ?)Our Greek text has at this point
(He is called son of Cronus and time [chronos]).
375. With the correction of !=?*0; to !=?20; (also de Lagarde 157.6, but without
indication of the error), which agrees with Greek, but is likely even on internal grounds
because of its proximity to the following related name !=-)2;.

- 75 -
rain we call him, from the fact that he gives rain, is in the aether, [121v] and causes light-

ning,376 thunder, and such things; again he is named giver of fruit on account of fruits and

nourisher because he nourishes; merciful and wall and father on account of [his] similari-

ty and participation in these things; he is called social, friendly,377 kind to strangers, vic-

torious, ,378 responsive to prayer and supplication, and at rest, savior, and free, for

all these names the poets call him from the similarity he possesses with them and [from]

the effects [associated] with with them they name [him] this way. To speak in a word, he

is also called celestial and earthly on account of his effect on every nature and race,

through the fact that he is the cause of everything that exists, and therefore well did

Orpheus379 say, Zeus is first, Zeus is last, he brings lightning, head is he and middle,

everything comes from him, [401b] he is the foundation of the earth and top of heaven,

376. Reading !?<3 for !3<?; de Lagarde (157.8) tacitly corrects the form.

377. The form here (!/-N )is derived from !-N, friend, as the Greek
< , but the Syriac form is otherwise unknown, nor are there any common analogous
substantive patterns in the language.
378. This word ('(/A )is unknown to me. Knig (Lorimer 1933: 116) translates it
with wohlgeneigt (leicht zu erbittern), though without any note to explain it. If !/@
(victorious) stands for both and , then '(/A corresponds to
(purifying) or (avenging), but it is impossible to be sure, due
to the lack of absolute correspondence between the two versions of the list of names.
379. The name in the ms. is written 9I with an e written (probably later) beneath
the tw. If this tw were absent, the name would match the reference to Orpheus in the
Greek text, but it bears pointing out that the Greek does not say, Orpheus said, but
, not wrongly is it said in the Orphic books. Based on
the Greek Baumstark (1904: 411) emended the text here to 9IcH 2; and
remarked that the ms. reading plane nihili est. Either changeomitting the tw or
altering according to Baumstarks suggestionclears up the textual difficulty adequately,
but the the former emendation, which is simpler, is preferable, especially since it is clear
that Sergius has shown himself no slave to the exact wording of the Greek.
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Zeus made males and females and created infants, he is the end of the sea, and he is sun

and moon.380 Again, he is king of all and chief of everything, he hides everything, then

again brings it to light, as from his pure heart he includes himself in all and raises them

up. I think that anank (Necessity) too is named381 nothing other [than him], but as if382

he is also the cause that is not susceptible to defeat (not susceptible to defeat in the

Greek language is named anikton).383 Again it seems to me the case that he is what is

called (h)eimarmen384 and peprmen, that is, fate and fortune. (H)eimarmen, which

has contained and connected everything without harm, for krsai385 in the Greek lan-

guage is translated was connected. Peprmen, from the fact that everything is limited

by it, and there is nothing in the world that is far from a limit (for peprmen in the Greek

380. There is a division mark here, perhaps elicited by the of the next clause.

381. ![=A, and not Zeus, is the subject, as is clear from the feminine verbal form

382. The Greek (as + if) is rendered literally with the separate corresponding
elements G; T" EA.

383. And thus similar in sound to (anank).

384. The Greek word is transliterated into Syriac but, as expected by this time period,
without the initial rough breathing mark.
385. The Syriac text has !C2@, but it is not clear what Greek word is intended; there is
no word in our Greek text that means was connected and looks close to this spelling in
Syriac. The only clear explanation is that the Syriac word in fact is meant to indicate
, the aorist infinitive of the verb that appears in our Greek text as a present
infinitive (). This verb does not of course mean was connected, which is closer
to the other Greek verb given in the text, (to bind together), but it is not difficult
to imagine a scribe, whether sleeping or untrained in Greek, who passed over in
Sergius explanation and instead repeated . A puzzling aspect of this hypothesis
is the absence in the Syriac of a verb corresponding in meaning to . The passage
has difficulties, but there is hardly a more likely interpretation of !C2@. If this scenario is
correct, the reading needs to be added to the critical apparatus. Knigs
Mutterschoss (Lorimer 1933: 117), that is, !C2 makes no sense.

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language is translated termination). He is also called Nemesis, that is, distributor, from

the distribution of the gift of every man. [122r] Thus too he is named Adrasteia, as he is

naturally the cause from which it is not [possible] to escape (for Adrasteia is translated

inescapability).386 The three Moirai [Fates], whom Hesiod mentions, match387 these,

for he has said that there are three that weave388 the thread of their distaffs in three times:

in one, what is past; in another, what is to come; and again in what is [now].389 The

Moira that is put over what is done390 [the past] is called Atropos, because all the things

that have passed do not return again. The one that is named over what is to come [is]

386. Reading '9A*; ;(for '9A2;;(, which is clearly necessary following the
verb *--H, the verb from the geminate root ( ;*afel) and the noun from the related root

387. For this meaning of U.D, see LS 782a s.v. peal, mng. 9a.

for the correct G.ZL;.
There is a metathesis in the ms. form G.LZ; The verb is in
the right form (!.ZL; )several lines below (122 27).

389. The Greek here has , being turned around, which refers to the
string on the distaff, but Sergius has translated what is indicated rather than the exact
390. The ms. has */0) , but de Lagarde (158.7) printed 20) , to which
Baumstark (1904: 406) added a sublinear point to more clearly indicate the perfect.
While the reading of de Lagarde and Baumstark is defensible20) commonly has the
meaning past and indeed the previous reference (122r13) to the past is with 20)
the ms. reading is hardly out of place (cf. to spend time, PS 2766 s.v. mng. ), so there
is no call to emend. The Greek phrase in question is simply , and so does not
offer elucidation to either reading, and the following 20) G/."( things that have
passed) stands for .
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Lachesis,391 for everything that is yet to be is named by natural lot.392 Over the time that

is now is put the one called Clotho, since she weaves and gives to everything the things

that are hers. So this parable too of Hesiods ends, thus in fine order.

All these things are nothing other than393 God, as also the mighty Plato394 has said:

God, as also the ancient saying proclaims, while holding the beginning, middle, and end

of the things that exist, governs rightly, going along naturally, and judgement, which is

the vengeance of those who forsake the divine law, always follows him. And he alone

will be excellent and blessed who immediately from the beginning does not forsake, but

takes it.

The letter that Aristotle sent to Alexander the king on the knowledge of the things that

exist has ended.

391. The word order here is suspect, the verb coming between the one...over what is
to come, which led Baumstark (1904: 411) to reorder the words to *"() ,) G"
'E-Z;. The word order in Greek, being the same for all three Fates, offers no help to
explain the Syriac text.
392. The word !6I probably derives from 'eI (cf. SG 105; Fraenkel 1886: 60-61;
LS 438a, 580b).
393. G; 20H here renders .

394. This adjective ((./N) regularly renders any of the several Greek words for
strong or able, but PS 1262 lists only this passage for the translation of .
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