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E01240: After the fall of the city of Amida (Mesopotamia) to the Persian army of Kavadh I in the year 503, the king took various spoils from the Church of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (martyrs of the early 4th c., S00103), among which was the food product made of dried wine, sometimes disguised by the clergy as the contact relic ḥnānā. Record in the Syriac Chronicle of Pseudo-Zachariah Rhetor (6th c.).

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posted on 04.04.2016, 00:00 by sminov
Chronicle of Pseudo-Zachariah Rhetor VII.4

ܐܫܟܚ ܕܝܢ ܬܡܢ ܘܚܡܪܐ ܛܒܐ ܕܝܒܝܫ ܒܬܛܪܗ. ܘܣܠܩ ܗܘܐ ܘܡܬܬܣܝܡ ܒܫܡܫܐ ܗ̣ܘ ܟܕ ܗ̣ܘ ܫܒ̈ܥ ܫܢ̈ܝܢ. ܘܐܚܪܝܬ ܡܬܝܒܫ ܗܘܐ. ܡܢ ܗܢܐ ܡܥܕܝܢ ܗܘܘ ܖ̈ܒܝ ܒ̈ܬܐ ܟܕ ܢܗܘܘܢ ܒܐܘܖ̈ܚܬܐ ܕܢܣܒܘܢ ܒܟ̈ܝܣܐ ܕܟܬܢܐ ܢܩ̈ܕܐ ܟܕ ܕܩܝܩ. ܘܪܡܝܢ ܗܘܘ ܡܢܗ ܩܠܝܠ ܒܡܡܙܓܐ ܘܫܬܝܢ. ܒܗܢܝܐܘܬܐ ܘܛܥܡܐ ܕܚܡܪܐ. ܘܐܡܪܝܢ ܗܘܘ ܠܠܐ ܝܕܘ̈ܥܐ ܕܚܢܢܐ ܗܘ. ܘܣܓܝ ܐܬܕܡܪ ܒܗ ܡܠܟܐ ܘܫܩܠܗ. ܘܐܬܒܛܠܬ ܗܘܬ ܐܘܡܢܘܬܐ ܗܕܐ ܕܪܚܡܬ ܟܪܣܐ ܡܢ ܒܢ̈ܝ ܥܕܬܐ ܡܢ ܗ̇ܘ ܙܒܢܐ.

'He (i.e. Kavadh) found there good wine that was dried into its sediment, which used to be brought up and was placed in the sun for a total of seven years, and eventually became dry. From this the stewards used to take some on their journeys, ground into dust in clean linen bags, and put a little bit of it in a mixture, and drink with the pleasantness and taste of wine. To the unwitting they would say that it was a ḥnānā. They king was greatly impressed by this, and he took it away, and from that time this craft of gluttony has been lost among the clergy.'

Ed. Brooks 1919-1924, v. 2, pp. 28-29. Trans. Greatrex et al. 2011, p. 241 (lightly modified).
Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

History

Evidence ID

E01240

Saint Name

Anonymous saints : S00518 Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, ob. early 4th c. : S00103

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Syriac

Evidence not before

503

Evidence not after

569

Activity not before

400

Activity not after

503

Place of Evidence - Region

Mesopotamia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Amida

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Amida Edessa Edessa Ἔδεσσα Edessa

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics – unspecified

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - hnana

Source

The Chronicle of Pseudo-Zachariah Rhetor is a historiographical work that, for the most part, deals with the period from the middle of the 5th to the middle of the 6th century. It was composed, apparently, around the year 568/9 by a Syriac-speaking writer, most likely a citizen of the city of Amida. Produced as a whole in Syriac, the Chronicle is a complex and composite work, which includes a number of texts translated into Syriac from Greek, such as the History of Joseph and Aseneth, the Acts of St Silvester of Rome, and the Ecclesiastical History of Zachariah of Mytilene. Syriac text: Brooks 1919-1924, vv. 1-2; English translation: Hamilton and Brooks 1899; Greatrex et al. 2011; German translation: Ahrens and Krüger 1899; Latin translation: Brooks 1919-1924, v. 3. For general information, see Greatrex 2006; Greatrex et al. 2011, pp. 1-92.

Discussion

The Chronicle reports that after the capture of the city of Amida by the Persian army of Kavadh I (r. 488-531), the king took various spoils from the Church of the Forty Martyrs. Among these, the author mentions an unusual food product, the powder made out of dried wine, which was produced and consumed by the local clergy. Trying to conceal their gluttony, the clergy would present this product to outsiders as ḥnānā, a kind of contact relic made of the dust from the graves of martyrs mixed with oil or water (see Jullien and Jullien 2010). The events described took place during the so-called "Anastasian War," i.e. the military conflict between the Roman and Sasanian empires during the years 502-506 (see Greatrex 1998, 73-138). The Chronicle is well informed on events in Amida, but it is hard to tell how much trust lies behind this peculiar story. It does however provide clear evidence that ḥnānā was often taken as a drink.

Bibliography

Main editions and translations: Ahrens, K., and Krüger, G., Die sogennante Kirchengeschichte des Zacharias Rhetor (Bibliotheca Scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana, Scriptores Sacri et Profani 3; Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1899). Brooks, E.W., Historia ecclesiastica Zachariae Rhetori vulgo adscripta. 4 vols (CSCO Syr. III.5-6; Louvain: Typographeo Reipublicae, 1919, 1921, 1924). Greatrex, G., Phenix, R.R., Horn, C.B., Brock, S.P., and Witakowski, W., The Chronicle of Pseudo-Zachariah Rhetor: Church and War in Late Antiquity (Translated Texts for Historians 55; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2011). Hamilton, F.J., and Brooks, E.W., The Syriac Chronicle Known as That of Zachariah of Mitylene (Byzantine Texts; London: Methuen & Co., 1899). Further reading (Pseudo-Zachariah): Greatrex, G., "Pseudo-Zachariah of Mytilene: The Context and Nature of His Work," Journal of the Canadian Society for Syriac Studies 6 (2006), 39-52. Further reading: Greatrex, G., Rome and Persia at War, 502–532 (ARCA, Classical and Medieval Texts, Papers and Monographs 37; Leeds: Francis Cairns, 1998). Jullien, C., and Jullien, F., “Du ḥnana ou la bénédiction contestée,” in: F. Briquel-Chatonnet and M. Debié (eds.), Sur les pas des Araméens chrétiens. Mélanges offerts à Alain Desreumaux (Cahiers d’études syriaques 1; Paris: Geuthner, 2010), 333-348.

Licence

Exports

Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

Categories

Keywords

Licence

Exports