John Malalas

John Malalas /ˈmælələs/ (Greek: Ἰωάννης Μαλάλας, Iōánnēs Malálas; c. 491 – 578), was a Greek chronicler from Antioch.


The name Malalas probably derived from the Aramaic word (ܡܰܠܳܠܰܐ malolo) for "rhetor", "orator"; it is first applied to him by John of Damascus. The alternative form Malelas is later, first appearing in Constantine VII.[1]

Malalas was educated in Antioch, and probably was a jurist there, but moved to Constantinople at some point in Justinian I's reign (perhaps after the Persian sack of Antioch in 540[2]); all we know of his travels from his own hand are visits to Thessalonica and Paneas.[3]


He wrote a Chronographia (Χρονογραφία) in 18 books, the beginning and the end of which are lost. In its present state it begins with the mythical history of Egypt and ends with the expedition to Roman Africa under the tribune Marcianus, Justinian's nephew, in 563 (his editor Thurn believes it originally ended with Justinian's death[4]); it is focused largely on Antioch and (in the later books) Constantinople. Except for the history of Justinian and his immediate predecessors, it possesses little historical value; the author, "relying on Eusebius of Caesarea and other compilers, confidently strung together myths, biblical stories, and real history."[5] The eighteenth book, dealing with Justinian's reign, is well acquainted with, and colored by, official propaganda. The writer is a supporter of Church and State, an upholder of monarchical principles. (However, the theory identifying him with the patriarch John Scholasticus is almost certainly incorrect.[6])

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

The work is important as the first surviving example of a chronicle written not for the learned but for the instruction of the monks and the common people, and its language shows a compromise with the spoken language of the day, although "it is still very much a written style. In particular, he employs technical terminology and bureaucratic clichés incessantly, and, in a period of transition from Latin to Greek governmental terminology, still uses the Latin loanwords alongside their Greek replacements.... The overall impression created by Malálas' style is one of simplicity, reflecting a desire for the straightforward communication of information in the written language of everyday business as it had evolved under the influence of spoken Greek."[7]

It obtained great popularity, and was used by various writers until the ninth century; it was translated into Slavic probably in the tenth century, and parts of it were used for the Old Russian Primary Chronicle.[8] It is preserved in an abridged form in a single manuscript now at Oxford, as well as in various fragments. Medieval translation in Georgian also exists.[9]

See also



  1. ^ Thurn, Ioannis Malalae Chronographia, p. 1.
  2. ^ Geoffrey Horrocks, Greek: A History of the Language and its Speakers (Longman Linguistics Library, 1997: ISBN 0-582-30709-0), p. 180.
  3. ^ Thurn, Ioannis Malalae Chronographia, p. 1.
  4. ^ Thurn, Ioannis Malalae Chronographia, p. 2.
  5. ^ Warren Treadgold, A History of Byzantine State and Society (Stanford University Press, 1997: ISBN 0-8047-2421-0), p. 267.
  6. ^ Thurn, Ioannis Malalae Chronographia, p. 2.
  7. ^ Horrocks, Greek, pp. 179-81, q.v. for details of lexical and syntactic usage; see also pp. 181-82 for a passage of Malalas with interlinear translation and transcription showing how Horrocks believes it would have sounded in the spoken Greek of the day.
  8. ^ Oleg Tvorogov, Хроника Иоанна Малалы Archived 2009-05-17 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Baldwin, Barry (1991). "Malalas, John". In Kazhdan, Alexander (ed.). The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. p. 1275. ISBN 0-19-504652-8.


Modern editions

  • Elizabeth Jeffreys, Michael Jeffreys, Roger Scott et al. 1986, The Chronicle of John Malalas: A Translation, Byzantina Australiensia 4 (Melbourne: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies) ISBN 0-9593626-2-2

Further reading

  • E. Jeffreys, B. Croke, and R. Scott (eds.), Studies in John Malalas (Sydney: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, 1990) (Byzantina Australiensia, 6), pp. 1–25.
  • David Woods, "Malalas, Constantius, and a Church-inscription from Antioch," Vigiliae Christianae, 59,1 (2005), pp. 54–62.
  • J. H. W. G. Liebeschuetz, "Malalas on Antioch," in Idem, Decline and Change in Late Antiquity: Religion, Barbarians and their Historiography (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2006) (Variorum Collected Studies).

External links

557 Constantinople earthquake

The 557 Constantinople earthquake took place on the night of December 14. This earthquake, described in the works of Agathias, John Malalas, and Theophanes the Confessor, caused great damage to Constantinople, then capital of the Byzantine Empire in a region frequently afflicted with earthquakes. More minor quakes had preceded the large event, including two in April and October respectively. The main quake in December was of unparalleled ferocity, and "almost completely razed" the city. It caused damage to the Hagia Sophia which contributed to the collapse of its dome the next year, as well as damaging the walls of Constantinople to the extent that Hun invaders were able to penetrate it with ease the following season.

Acacius (curator)

Acacius (Greek: Ἀκάκιος) was a Byzantine imperial curator, active in the late reign of Justinian I (r. 527-565). He is known for his role in a civil disorder incident of the 560s. The main source about him is a fragment of John Malalas.


Anthemius (; Latin: Procopius Anthemius Augustus; c. 420 – 11 July 472) was Western Roman Emperor from 467 to 472.Perhaps the last capable Western Roman Emperor, Anthemius attempted to solve the two primary military challenges facing the remains of the Western Roman Empire: the resurgent Visigoths, under Euric, whose domain straddled the Pyrenees; and the unvanquished Vandals, under Geiseric, in undisputed control of North Africa. Anthemius was killed by Ricimer, his own general of Gothic descent, who contested power with him.


Ascum (Greek: Ασκούμ) was a general of the Byzantine Empire, active early in the reign of Justinian I (r. 527–565). He was in command of the Praetorian prefecture of Illyricum. His name is reported by John Malalas. Both Theophanes the Confessor and George Kedrenos render his name "Ακούμ" (Acum).

Baduarius (Scythia)

Baduarius was a Byzantine general, active early in the reign of Justinian I (r. 527–565) in Scythia Minor (modern Dobruja).

The historian Patrick Amory considers the name Baduarius to be Germanic in origin. Baduarius is mentioned in the writings of John Malalas, John of Nikiû, Theophanes the Confessor and Georgios Kedrenos. He is recorded in Greek as "stratelates of Scythia", hence probably a magister militum. In 528, Baduarius and Godilas led a military expedition from Odessus (modern Varna) against the Huns of Crimea. Under their leader Mougel, the Huns had reportedly captured Byzantine areas on the coasts of the Black Sea.Also in 528, Baduarius is mentioned as Dux Scythiae. He and Justin, Dux of Moesia Secunda, joined their forces in battle against a force of foreign invaders. Malalas reports "the Huns", whom Theophanes identifies as Bulgars, invading Scythia and Moesia. Either way, the battle went poorly for the Byzantines. Justin was killed and the invaders next entered Thrace. Justin was replaced by Constantiolus.While operations against the invaders continued, Baduarius is not mentioned taking part in them. With later battles taking place at some distance from Scythia Minor, he might have nothing to do with them. His eventual fate is unknown. A younger Baduarius turns up in the reign of Justin II (r. 565–578). The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire considers it likely the younger man could be a son or grandson of the stratelates of Scythia.

Book of Jubilees

The Book of Jubilees, sometimes called Lesser Genesis (Leptogenesis), is an ancient Jewish religious work of 50 chapters, considered canonical by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as well as Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jews), where it is known as the Book of Division (Ge'ez: መጽሃፈ ኩፋሌ Mets'hafe Kufale). Jubilees is considered one of the pseudepigrapha by Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Churches. It is also not considered canonical within Judaism outside of Beta Israel.

It was well known to Early Christians, as evidenced by the writings of Epiphanius, Justin Martyr, Origen, Diodorus of Tarsus, Isidore of Alexandria, Isidore of Seville, Eutychius of Alexandria, John Malalas, George Syncellus, and George Kedrenos. The text was also utilized by the community that originally collected the Dead Sea Scrolls. No complete Greek or Latin version is known to have survived, but the Ge'ez version has been shown to be an accurate translation of the versions found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Book of Jubilees claims to present "the history of the division of the days of the Law, of the events of the years, the year-weeks, and the jubilees of the world" as revealed to Moses (in addition to the Torah or "Instruction") by angels while he was on Mount Sinai for forty days and forty nights. The chronology given in Jubilees is based on multiples of seven; the jubilees are periods of 49 years (seven "year-weeks"), into which all of time has been divided.

Books of the Maccabees

The Books of the Maccabees are books concerned with the Maccabees, the leaders of the Jewish rebellion against the Seleucid dynasty and related subjects.

The term mostly refers to two deuterocanonical books contained in various canons of the Bible:

1 Maccabees, originally written in Hebrew and surviving in a Greek translation, relates the history of the Maccabees from 175 BCE until 134 BCE.

2 Maccabees, a Greek abridgment of an earlier history in Hebrew, relates the history of the Maccabees down to 161 BCE, focusing on Judas Maccabaeus, discussing praying for the dead and offerings.The term also commonly refers to two further works:

3 Maccabees, a Greek book relating to a 3rd-century BCE persecution of the Jews of Egypt.

4 Maccabees, a philosophic discourse praising the supremacy of reason over passion, using the Maccabean martyrs as examples.The term may also refer to:

5 Maccabees, an Arab language history from 186 BCE to 6 BCE. The same title is used for a Syriac version of 6th book of Josephus' Jewish War.

6 Maccabees, a Syriac poem that possibly shared a lost source with 4 Maccabees.

7 Maccabees, a Syriac work focusing on the speeches of the Maccabean Martyrs and their mother.

8 Maccabees, a brief account of the revolt drawing on Seleucid sources, preserved in the Chronicle of John Malalas (pp. 206–207 in Dindorf).

Ethiopian Maccabees, a similar account from Ethiopian sources. It offers a narrative of Jewish rebels who fight against Antiochus' rule, but make no mention of the brothers from Modein. The origin of these accounts are unknown.


Comito (Greek: Κομιτὼ) was the daughter of Acacius "the bear-keeper", an elder sister to Theodora and Anastasia. Through Theodora, Comito was a sister-in-law of Justinian I. The Secret History of Procopius is a main source about her. Comito is also mentioned by John Malalas, Theophanes the Confessor and Georgios Kedrenos

Constantia (Osrhoene)

Constantia or Konstantia (Ancient Greek: Κωνσταντία) was a town of some importance in the province Osrhoene in Mesopotamia, on the road between Nisibis and Carrhae, at no great distance from Edessa. It was, after his departure from Nisibis, the residence of the dux Mesopotamiae until the foundation of Dara. There is considerable variation in different authors in the way in which the name of this town is written and the names under which it is known, including: Constantia or Konstantia (Κωνσταντία), Constantina or Konstantina (Κωνσταντίνα), Antoninopolis, Nicephorium or Nikephorion (Νικηφόριον), Maximianopolis (Μαξιμιανούπολις), Constantinopolis in Osrhoene, Tella and Antiochia Arabis, Antiochia in Mesopotamia (Ἀντιόχεια τῆς Μεσοποταμίας – Antiocheia tes Mesopotamias) and Antiochia in Arabia (Ἀντιόχεια ἡ Ἀραβική – Antiocheia e Arabike).According to Pliny it was founded by Seleucus I Nicator after the death of Alexander the Great. According to the Byzantine historian John Malalas, the city was built by the Roman Emperor Constantine I on the site of former Maximianopolis, which had been destroyed by a Persian attack and an earthquake. Jacob Baradaeus was born near the city and was a monk in a nearby monastery.Under the names Constantina and Tella, it was also a bishopric, suffragan of Edessa; some names of early bishops have been preserved, including Sophronius who attended the Council of Antioch in 445. No longer a residential bishop, it remains a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church under the name Constantina. The city was captured by the Arabs in 639.Its site is near the modern Viranşehir, Turkey.


Cyriades (referred to in other sources as Mareades or Mariades or Mariadnes) was a Roman rebel who betrayed the city of Antioch to Shapur I sometime during the 250s. His chief claim to fame is that he is enumerated as one of the Thirty Tyrants who supposedly tried to overthrow the emperor Gallienus.

Eustathius of Epiphania

Eustathius of Epiphania (Greek: Εὐστάθιος Ἐπιφανεύς, died after 518) was a sixth-century Byzantine historian.

Eustathius was born in Epiphania (modern Hama, Syria). He was probably a Christian and wrote in the time of the emperor Anastasius I a history (Chronological Epitome) from the fall of Troy to the 12th year of Anastasius (502/3) in two parts. The chronicle was used by later historians, but only a few fragments remain preserved in Evagrius Scholasticus, the Suda and John Malalas. According to Evagrius, Eustathius's work was an epitome (a compilation, not an abridgement) of pagan and ecclesiastical writers.

Eustathius is also known to have compiled an epitome of Josephus (Historikon of the Judaean Archaeology by Iosepos). It is likely the same as a short 13th/14th-century text preserved in Paris. It begins with Adam and Eve and reaches to the reign of Vespasian and Titus.

John of Antioch (chronicler)

John of Antioch was a 7th-century chronicler, who wrote in Greek. He was a monk, apparently contemporary with Emperor Heraclius (610–41). Gelzer (Sextus Julius Africanus, 41) identifies the author with the Monophysite Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch John of the Sedre, who ruled from 630 to 648.

John of Antioch's chronicle, Historia chronike, is a universal history stretching from Adam to the death of Phocas; it is one of the many adaptations and imitations of the better known chronicle of John Malalas. His sources include Sextus Julius Africanus, Eusebius, and Ammianus Marcellinus. Only fragments remain.

The fragments of the chronicle are contained in two collections, the Codex Parisinus 1763, which was published in an edition by Claudius Salmasius, and the encyclopedia of history made by order of Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (912–59), in fifty-three chapters. Of the Constantinian collection only parts remain (Krumbacher, Byzantinische Litteraturgebchichte, 258–60). Two titles: "Of Virtue and Vice" and "Of Conspiracies against Emperors" contain the literary remains of John of Antioch. A difficulty arises from the fact that a great part of the extracts (from the Roman Commonwealth of Justin I) differs considerably from the corresponding quotations in the Salmasian collection. The Constantinian passages are of the nature the old Hellenic writing of history, the Salmasian ones are rather Byzantine and Christian. The Salmasian compilation is older, and so appears to be the original text; the other is no doubt a re-arrangement made under the influence of the Hellenic Renaissance started by patriarch Photius. But some authorities see in them two different originals and speak of a "Constantinian" and a "Salmasian" John of Antioch.

The Salmasian excerpts are edited by Cramer, Anecdota Graecae cod. mss. regiae Parisiensis, II, Oxford 1839, 383–401. Both series of fragments are in C. Muller, "Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum", vol. IV, Paris, 1883, 535–622; V, 27–8.

An English translation was published by De Gruyter in 2009. [1]

Justa (rebel)

Justa (or Justasa and Justasus) was elected by Samaritans as their king during the 484 AD Samaritan revolt. Following his ascent in Samaria, he moved on Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. There, many Christians were killed and the church of St. Procopius was destroyed. Justa celebrated the victory with games in the circus.According to John Malalas, the dux Palaestinae Asclepiades, whose troops were reinforced by the Caesarea-based Arcadiani of general Rheges, defeated Justa, killed him and sent his head to Zeno.

Justin (Moesia)

Justin (Latin: Iustinus; Greek: Ἰουστίνος; died 528) was a general of the Byzantine Empire, active early in the reign of Emperor Justinian I (r. 527–565) as commander of the Danubian limes in Moesia Secunda.Justin is mentioned in 528 as "stratelates of Moesia". He probably held the title of dux Moesiae Secundae and the rank of magister militum. He joined forces with Baduarius, dux of Scythia Minor, in battle against a force of foreign invaders, who John Malalas identifies as "Huns", while Theophanes the Confessor identifies as Bulgars. Justin was killed in that battle and was succeeded in his post by Constantiolus.


Medeina or Medeinė (derived from medis (tree) and medė (forest)), often treated as synonymous to Žvorūnė or Žvorūna (derived from žvėris (beast)), is one of the main deities in the Lithuanian mythology, and is similar to Latvian Meža Māte. She is a ruler of forests, trees and animals. Her sacred animal is a hare.A Slavic transcription of John Malalas' Chronicle (dated 1261) mentioned Žvorūna and three other gods. The Hypatian Codex, describing events of 1252, mentioned pagan gods still worshiped by King Mindaugas. The Codex mentioned Medeina and an unnamed hare goddess. There is an academic discussion whether Medeina is the name of hare goddess mentioned in the Codex or those two are independent deities. As part of the official pantheon, Medeina represented military interest of warriors and later was replaced by Žemyna, goddess of earth representing agricultural interest of peasants. In the 15th century, Jan Długosz compared Medeina with Roman goddess Diana. She was also mentioned by Jan Łasicki, Mikalojus Daukša, and in the Bychowiec Chronicle.According to research by Algirdas Julius Greimas, Medeina is single, unwilling to get married, though voluptuous and beautiful huntress. She is depicted as a young woman and a she-wolf (cf. vilkmergė) with an escort of wolves. According to the author, Medeina can be described as a goddess with both divine and demonic traits. Her duty is not to help the hunters, but to protect the forest. Vykintas Vaitkevičius identified five Hare Churches (sacred stones, hills, forests) and ten Wolf-footprints (stones with hollows that resemble a footprint) in Eastern Lithuania (former Duchy of Lithuania) that were related to the cult of Medeina. After baptism of Lithuania, the cult diminished.

Medeina was related and similar to Greek Artemis and Roman Diana and in fact was sometimes called Diana.


The menaulion or menavlion (Greek: μεναύλιον), also menaulon or menavlon (μέναυλον) was a heavy spear with a length of 2.7 to 3.6 metres with a thick shaft, used by the Byzantine infantry as early as the 10th century AD, against enemy heavy cavalry. To give it increased strength, whole oak or cornel saplings were preferably used. These were then tipped with a long blade of ca. 45–50 cm.Its use is attested by emperor Nikephoros Phokas in his treatise Praecepta Militaria, and by Nikephoros Ouranos and Leo VI the Wise in their Taktika. It is also described in the 10th-century treatise known as the Sylloge Tacticorum. The men who were carrying the menaulia (menaulatoi, sing. menaulatos) were deployed behind the battle line and were only ordered to advance in front before the enemy cavalry charge. They seem to have arrayed in a thin line directly in front of the first rank of the battle line, although the Sylloge Tacticorum has the menaulatoi forming well before it, a tactic strongly condemned by Nikephoros Phokas. Another proposed deployment was obliquely on the flanks of a friendly infantry formation, along with javelineers, in an attempt to directly attack the flanks of the advancing enemy. They also deployed in the intervals between the heavy infantry formations of the Byzantine line along with light infantry to guard against enemy exploitation attempts. Within the encampment, they were positioned at the exits.In his work De Ceremoniis, Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus orders great numbers of menaulia to be produced.It has been proposed that the vinavlon mentioned in the 6th century AD by John Malalas in the sixth book of his Chronographia is an archaic form of the same weapon, although in Malalas' text it is carried by cavalrymen.

Mundus (general)

Mundo (Greek: Μοῦνδος; Moundos; died 536), commonly referred to in the Latinized form Mundus, was a Gepid general of the Byzantine Empire during the reign of Justinian I.

Scriptor Incertus

The Scriptor Incertus de Leone Armenio ("Unknown writer on Leo the Armenian") is the Latin title given to an anonymous 9th-century Byzantine historical work, of which only two fragments survive.

The first fragment, preserved in the 13th-century Vat. gr. 2014 manuscript (interposed into descriptions of the Avaro-Persian siege of Constantinople and the Second Arab Siege of Constantinople, as well as hagiographical texts) in the Vatican Library, deals with the 811 campaign of Emperor Nikephoros I (r. 802–811) against the Bulgars, which ended in the disastrous Battle of Pliska. Discovered and published in 1936 by I. Dujčev, it is also known as the Chronicle of 811, or the Dujčev Fragment.The second, which is preserved in the early 11th-century B.N. gr. 1711 manuscript in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris along with the chronicle of the so-called "Leo Grammaticus", deals with the reigns of Michael I Rhangabe (r. 811–813) and Leo V the Armenian (r. 813–820) that followed after Nikephoros I. The date of authorship is disputed, but the vividness of the narrative suggests that it was written by a contemporary of the events described.The two fragments were identified as forming part of the same work by Henri Grégoire based on similarities in style. Although generally an unreliable indicator, this hypothesis has since been commonly accepted. Both fragments provide information not included in the contemporary histories of Theophanes the Confessor and Theophanes Continuatus, and Grégoire hypothesized, again based on style, that the Scriptor Incertus was a continuation of the work of the 6th-century historian John Malalas. The second fragment was known to, and used by, the late 10th-century Pseudo-Symeon Magister, but he does not appear to have used it for the sections of his history before Michael I.


Svarog (Church Slavonic: Сваро́гъ, Russian, Serbian and Ukrainian: Сварог, Polish: Swaróg, Slovak and Croatian: Svarog) is a Slavic deity known primarily from the Hypatian Codex, a Slavic translation of the Chronicle of John Malalas. Svarog is there identified with Hephaestus, the god of the blacksmith in ancient Greek religion, and as the father of Dažbog, a Slavic solar deity. On the basis of this text, some researchers conclude that Svarog is the Slavic god of celestial fire and of blacksmithing.

Byzantine historians
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