The Martyrdom of Macrobius in Gǝʿǝz (and Arabic)   5 comments

Yesterday Alin Suciu posted a notice of a Bohairic Coptic leaf with some lines from the martyrdom of Macrobius that was recently found in a Syriac manuscript from Saint Mark’s Monastery in Jerusalem. He also mentioned the entry for that martyr in an Arabic synaxarion (published in PO 16.2, 190-193). The same entry also exists in the Gǝʿǝz synaxarion (published in PO 46.3, 304-309). The saint is commemorated on 2 Baramhāt (ⲡⲁⲣⲉⲙϩⲟⲧⲡ; see Crum 269a for the forms) in the Copto-Arabic synaxarion and 2 Mäggabit in the Gǝʿǝz synaxarion. (According to the Mensium tabulae in BHO, this date corresponds to Feb. 26 — “15 février” in the FT of PO 16 is an error; it is correctly given as “26 février” in the running title — but according to Colin’s table in PO 48.3, the Ethiopian date is Mar. 11.)

Alin notes that the new Coptic leaf has “part of the episode when Macrobius is boiled by the governor Armenius in grease, oil and pitch.” Saints’ lives sometimes exist in two lengths: a shorter notice in the synaxarion and a longer — sometimes considerably longer — one, which may be a vita (or sīra), collection of miracles, martyrdom account, an encomium, or a combination of these types, and which may circulate on its own, that is, not in a calendrical series like the synaxarion. Naturally, many more saints are listed in the synaxarion than have their own separate stories, and when more than one kind of hagiographic text exists for a particular saint, the episodes of the stories may vary more or less, whether in the same language or across languages. The Copto-Arabic and the Gǝʿǝz texts referred to above for Macrobius are essentially the same, but distinct from that of the longer encomium published by Hyvernat. Here is the beginning, with an ET of the Arabic and different readings in the Gǝʿǝz in brackets, of the synaxarion entries:

  • في مثل هذا اليوم استشهد القديس الطوباني انبا مكراوي الاسقف كان هذا الاب من اهل اشمون خريسات من اكابرها فجعل اسقفا على مدينة نقيوس
  • በዛቲ ፡ ዕለት ፡ ኮነ ፡ ቅዱስ ፡ ወብፁዕ ፡ አባ ፡ መክራዊ ፡ ኤጲስ ፡ ቆጶስ ፡ ሰማዕት። ዝንቱ ፡ ቅዱስ ፡ ኮነ ፡ እምሰብአ ፡ ሀገረ ፡ እስሙንዙራይስ ፡ እምልሂቃነ ፡ ዚአሃ ፡ እምደቡበ ፡ ግብጽ።ወተሰይመ ፡ ኤጲስ ፡ ቆጶሰ ፡ ላዕለ ፡ ሀገረ ፡ ነቂዮስ።
  • On the same [G. "this"] day the blessed saint Anba Macrobius the bishop was martyred [G. "became a martyr"]. This father [G. "saint"] came from the chiefs of Ešmūn-Ḫarīsāt [G. ʾƎsmunzurayǝs] and he was made bishop over the city of Nikiu.

The synaxarion entries do not have the detail of the longer martyrdom text that partially survives in the Coptic leaf, and there is nothing about boiling the martyr. All they have to say about Armenius, governor of Alexandria (والي الاسكندرية, መኰንነ ፡ ሀገረ ፡ እስክንድርያ፡), and his tortures at this point is the following. The texts are formally different enough that they merit separate translations.

  • فلما بلغ ارمانيوس ما يصنعه القديس من الايات امر ان يعذب بانواع العذاب بالعصر وبقطع الاعضاء وان يلقى للاسد الضارية وان يغرق في البحر وان يوضع في اتون النار وكان صابرا على هذا جميعه غالبا بقوة المسيح
  • When news of the miracles the saint was doing reached Armenius, he commanded that he be tortured with various kinds of torture — by pressing and by cutting off limbs — that he be thrown to the savage lions, that he be drowned in the sea, and that he be placed in a furnace of fire. He was enduring all of this, conquering in the power of Christ.
  • ወሶበ ፡ ሰምዐ ፡ ሄርሜንዮስ ፡ መኰንን ፡ በእንተ ፡ ተአምራት ፡ ዘገብረ ፡ ቅዱስ ፡ አባ ፡ መክራዊ ፡ ወአዘዘ ፡ ከመ ፡ ይኰንንዎ ፡ በዘዘዚአሁ ፡ ኵነኔ ፡ ወኰነንዎ ፡ በመንኰራኵራት ፡ ወመተሩ ፡ መልያልያቲሁ ፡ ወወገርዎ ፡ ለአናብስት ፡ መሠጥ ፡ ወአስጠምዎ ፡ ውስተ ፡ ባሕር ፡ ወወደይዎ ፡ ውስተ ፡ እቶነ ፡ እሳት። ወኮነ ፡ ቅዱስ ፡ ውስተ ፡ ኵሉ ፡ ኵነኔ ፡ መዋዒ ፡ ወጽኑዕ ፡ በኀይሉ ፡ ለእግዚእነ ፡ ክርስቶስ ፡ ወያነሥኦ ፡ ጥዑየ ፡ ዘእንበለ ፡ ሙስና።
  • When Armenius the governor heard about the miracles that the holy Anba Macrobius had done, he commanded that he be tortured with various kinds of torture, and they tortured him with wheels, cut off his limbs, threw him to savage lions, drowned him in the sea, and put him in a furnace of fire, and the saint was prevailing in all of this torture, strong in the power of our Lord Christ, and he will raise him whole without decay.

In addition to the obvious text-critical interest that studying multiple versions of this or that hagiographic text might conjure, in the case of probably or definitely dependent texts, questions of translation technique might be asked (and, hopefully, answered). Those interested more in the narrative content of the stories and in their use in cult and devotion, too, have plenty of material for study in eastern Christian hagiography. And while there is already far more available across these languages than any one person could completely study, new pieces continue to appear, especially in previously unploughed fields of manuscript collections, as this Coptic leaf shows, a textual witness to a particular continuum that spans Coptic, Arabic, and Gǝʿǝz.

Thanks to Alin for his notice and discussion of the Coptic fragment!

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5 responses to “The Martyrdom of Macrobius in Gǝʿǝz (and Arabic)

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  1. Reblogged this on Alin Suciu and commented:
    Adam McCollum has further details about Abba Macrobius, extracted from the Copto-Arabic and Gǝʿǝz synaxary.

  2. The other Coptic leaf which survived from the Martyrdom of Macrobius makes clear that the text was attributed to Julius of Aqfahs, the ‘historiographer’ of the martyrs. The encomium published by Hyvernat is a different text, being attributed to Mena of Pshati. The entry in the synaxarion is a résumé of the former.

    Perhaps a careful survey of the catalogues of Arabic manuscripts might bring to light the Arabic version of the text.

  3. « According to the Mensium tabulae in BHO, this date corresponds to Feb. 26 (…) but according to Colin’s table in PO 48.3, the Ethiopian date is Mar. 11. » : maybe Feb. 26 is Julian, and Mar. 11 Gregorian (XXIst century) ?…

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