Archive for the ‘ethiopian’ Tag

Ethiopian mss online from Frankfurt   Leave a comment

My colleague, Ted Erho, has informed me of twenty-one Ethiopian manuscripts (or related to Ethiopia, at least) in Frankfurt that have been digitized and made available: http://sammlungen.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/msorient/nav/index/all. Basic information about each item is in the main list, and on the page for each item, click on “Ausführliche Beschreibung” for the appropriate page(s) from the printed catalog. The manuscripts are readable online or downloadable as PDFs. Included are books mostly copied in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, even a couple written by the greatest early European éthiopisant, Hiob Ludolf (1624-1704). Hearty thanks to those in Frankfurt who made these items available: they are another reminder of how grateful we can be to have so many manuscripts at our fingertips nowadays, no matter where we are on the planet! So let’s get to work reading them!

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Samson and the Archangel Michael in the Ethiopian synaxarion   1 comment

In the Gǝʕǝz reading in the synaxarion for Yäkkatit 12 is a commemoration of the Archangel Michael, specifically with how he is said to have been involved in the life of Samson, who is here called a giant. For the benefit of those studying Gǝʕǝz, here is the short passage, the text taken from PO 45: 528, 530 (ed. Colin), with some vocabulary and glosses.

 በዛቲ፡ ዕለት፡ ተዝካሩ፡ ለመልአክ፡ ክቡር፡ ሊቀ፡ መላእክት፡ ሚካኤል። እስመ፡ በዛቲ፡ ዕለት፡ ፈነዎ፡ እግዚአብሔር፡ ሎቱ፡ ስብሐት፡ ለመልአክ፡ ክቡር፡ ሊቀ፡ መላእክት፡ ሚካኤል፡ ኀበ፡ ሶምሶን፡ ረዓይታዊ፡ ወረድኦ፡ እስከ፡ ሞኦሙ፡ ለሰብአ፡ ፍልስጥኤም፡ ሶበ፡ ፈቀዱ፡ ቀቲሎቶ፡ ወወሀቦ፡ እግዚአብሔር፡ ኃይለ፡ ላዕሌሆሙ፡ ወአጥፍኦሙ። ወቀተለ፡ እምኔሆሙ፡ በአሐቲ፡ ዕለት፡ ፲፻በመንከሰ፡ ዓድግ። ወሶበ፡ ጸምዓ፡ ወቀርበ፡ ለመዊት፡ እስተርአዮ፡ ሎቱ፡ ሚካኤል፡ ሊቀ፡ ምላእክት፡ ወአጽንዖ፡ ወአውሐዘ፡ ሎቱ፡ እግዚአብሔር፡ ማየ፡ እምዓፅመ፡ መንከሰ፡ ዓድግ፡ ወሰትየ፡ ወድኅነ። ወሶበ፡ ተጋብኡ፡ ሕዝበ፡ ፍልስጥኤም፡ ወተመክነዩ፡ ላዕሌሁ፡ ምስለ፡ ብእሲቱ፡ ወአዖርዎ፡ አዕይንቲሁ፡ ወሰድዎ፡ ውስተ፡ ቤተ፡ ጣዖቶሙ፡ ወአስተርአዮ፡ ሚካኤል፡ ወወሀቦ፡ ኃይለ፡ ወቀተሎሙ፡ ለኵሎሙ። ትንብልናሁ፡ የሀሉ፡ ምስሌነ፡ አሜን።

ፈነዎ፡ D to send (+ 3ms)
ሎቱ፡ስብሐት፡ “to whom be glory!”
ረዓይታዊ፡ giant
ረድኦ፡ to help (+ 3ms)
ሞኦሙ፡ to conquer (+ 3mp)
ፈቀዱ፡ to want
ወሀቦ፡ to give (+ 3ms)
አጥፍኦሙ፡ caus. to destroy (+ 3cp)

ቀተለ፡ to kill (we saw the converb above)
መንከሰ፡ዓድግ፡ jawbone of an ass (the second word also spelled with ʔ)

ጸምዓ፡ to thirst (√ṣmʔ, though the last here written as ʕ)
ቀርበ፡ለመዊት፡ “he was near to death”
እስተርአዮ፡ caus.-pass. to appear to (+ 3ms)
አጽንዖ፡ caus. to strengthen (+ 3ms)
አውሐዘ፡ caus. to make s.t. flow
ዓፅመ፡ bone
ሰትየ፡ to drink
ድኅነ፡ to be saved

ተጋብኡ፡ L pass.-refl. to gather together
ተመክነዩ፡ Q pass.-refl. to scheme
አዖርዎ፡ caus. √ʕwr to put out (someone’s eyes) (NB the pronominal suffix matches the suffix of the following word — 3ms, ref. to Samson — and not the following word itself.)
አዕይንቲሁ፡ pl. of ዐይን፡ eye (+ 3ms)
ወሰድዎ፡ to lead, take (+ 3mp)
ቤተ፡ጣዖቶሙ፡ “the temple of their idol”
ትንብልናሁ፡ intercession (+ 3ms)

An episode from the Martyrdom of Barbara   1 comment

Today (Old Style, Dec. 4) is the commemoration of Saint Barbara (and her companion Juliana). Greek, Armenian, and Syriac texts are listed at BHG 213-218 and BHO 132-134. In addition, there are truncated notices of the synaxarion in Arabic (ed. Basset, PO 3: 403-404) and Gǝʕǝz (ed. Grébaut, PO 15: 651-654, with the sälam on 674-675). This Georgian icon of the saint has the following inscription at the bottom in asomt’avruli: წმიდაო ქალწულ-მოწამეო ბ(არ)ბ(ა)რე ევ(ედრ)ე ღ(მერ)თსა ჩუენთჳს (“O holy virgin-martyr Babara, plead with God for us!”).

From here.

From here.

Well known is the metamorphosis (Verwandlung) of Kafka’s Gregor Samsa “zu einem ungeheuren Ungeziefer”, but in this hagiographic episode we have another metamorphosis, a change into beetles thanks the curse of a saint! Prior to the part of the narrative I want to focus on, mainly for its fantastic elements, Barbara’s father, who is not a Christian, has hired some craftsmen to make a bath — balani in Syriac, but a tall tower (πύργος ὑψηλός) in Greek — in her name with two windows, but his daughter, who is beautiful, of course, and a Christian, in her father’s absence orders the builders to add an extra window, so that when he returns he finds three windows, an obvious index to the Trinity. Below I give part of the next part of the story in English, translated from Syriac; the corresponding Greek text is in Joseph Viteau, Passions des saints Écaterine et Pierre d’Alexandrie, Barbara et Anysia, publiées d’après les manuscrits grecs de Paris et de Rome, avec un choix de variantes et une traduction latine (Paris, 1897), pp. 91, 93; the book is now at archive.org here. The Syriac text is available in two places. In 1900, Agnes Smith Lewis, in her still significant volumes on females saints in Syriac, gave it along with an English translation: Select Narratives of Holy Women, vol. 1 (Syr.) 104-105, vol. 2 (ET) 79-80. Unfortunately, her manuscript was illegible at a crucial part, and thus her translation is missing some words, but Bedjan’s previously published text (AMS III 348-349, which appeared in 1892) has it, and it is on the basis of his text that I give the translation below.

In lieu of typing out the Syriac text from Bedjan, here are the necessary images.

bedjan_ams_III_348 bedjan_ams_III_349

Here is my translation:

When the building was finished and the bath made, her evil father, Dioscorus, returned from his journey. He entered the bath to see it, and saw three windows there. He asked and said to the craftsmen, “You’ve installed three windows?” The craftsmen said to him, “It was your daughter that commanded us to do so.” So he turned to his daughter and said, “Did you command the craftsmen to open [sic!] three windows?” She answered and said to him, “Yes, father, well have I commanded, because there are three windows that give light to everyone who comes into the world, and just two are dark.” So her father took her and went down to the bath, and she said to him, “How much more splendidly these three windows give light than two!” Again the maidservant of Christ, Barbara, said to him, “Observe now, father, and see: here is the Father, here is the Son, and here is the Holy Spirit.”

[p. 349]

When her father heard these things, he was filled with anger and great wrath, and he drew the sword that was hanging on him in order to kill her. But Saint Barbara prayed, and the crag that was near her opened up and received her within it and immediately put her out on the mountain that was there to receive her. Two shepherds, who were shepherding on that mountain, saw her fleeing, and when her father approached them, he questioned them whether they had seen his daughter. One of them, because he wanted her to be rescued, swore that he had not seen her, but the other one pointed his finger and showed her to her father. When the saint saw what he had done, she cursed him and immediately he and his sheep became beetles [ḥabšušyātā]: to this day these beetles congregate on the saint’s grave. As her father was going up the mountain after her, he found her and pulled her bitterly: he grabbed her by the hair of her head, drug her, brought her down from the mountain, brought her in and imprisoned her in a nasty room [ḥabšāh b-baytā ḥad šiṭā]. He closed and sealed [the door] in front of her with his ring, and he set guards over her, so that no one would be able to go in with her, until he went and informed Marcianus the governer about her, that he might eliminate her.

The whole text of the martyrdom has other happenings of interest, including some that have verbal echoes with parts of the text given above, but for now, in this part of the tale, we see a saint teleporting through rock, and a shepherd and his flock transmogrified into beetles. In the Greek version, the sheep do indeed become beetles, as here, but the informer shepherd himself becomes a stone instead: καὶ εὐθέως ἐγένοντο τὰ πρόβατα αὐτοῦ κανθαρίδες καὶ προσμένουσιν τῷ τιμίῳ αὐτῆς λειψάνῳ, αὐτὸς δὲ ἐγένετο λίθος, καὶ ἔστιν ἕως τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας. Notably, the synaxarion texts in Arabic and Gǝʕǝz lack the part about the shepherds, and thus the beetles! But since we’re here, I’ll append the sälam from Gǝʕǝz:

ሰላም ፡ ለበርባራ ፡ ዘአግሀደት ፡ ሃይማኖታ።
እንዘ ፡ ታርኢ ፡ ሥላሴ ፡ በውስተ ፡ መስኮተ ፡ ቤታ።
ኢያፍርሃ ፡ መጥባሕት ፡ ወሞሰርተ ፡ ሐፂን ፡ ኢያሕመመታ።
ሰላም ፡ ሰላም ፡ ለዩልያና ፡ ካልእታ።
እንተ ፡ ሰቀልዋ ፡ በ፪ኤ ፡ አጥባታ፨

Greetings to Barbara, who publicly announced her faith,
Showing the Trinity in the window of her house.
The sword does not frighten her, the iron saw does not harm her.
Greetings, greetings to Juliana, her companion,
Whom they hung up by her breasts.

Saint Marina/Margaret   3 comments

Image source.

The saint known as Marina (Margaret in the west) — not to be confused with Marina the Monk — is in some churches celebrated on July 30. In the synaxaria available to me, I find her story only in the Gǝʿǝz for Hamle 23 (see PO 7:386-389, with a sälam). Her tale, quite fantastic, is known in many languages. Here is an outline of the version of the aforementioned Gǝʿǝz synaxarion, with some excerpts in that language.

Her father, Decius (ዳኬዎስ፡), was a chief of the idol-priests (ሊቀ፡ገነውተ፡አማልክት፡ዘሀገረ፡አንጾኪያ፡), and with the saint’s mother dead, he gave her over to the care of a nurse or guardian (ሐፃኒት፡), who was a Christian and who taught her the faith (ወመሐረታ፡ሃይማኖተ፡ክርስቶስ፡). One day, inspired by hearing about the martyrs (ሰምዓት፡እንዘ፡ትትናገር፡ሐፃኒታ፡ጻማ፡ተጋድሎቶሙ፡ለሰማዕታት፡), the young saint, then around fifteen years old, went out to seek martyrdom herself (ሖረት፡እንዘ፡ተኃሥሥ፡ከዊነ፡ስምዕ፡). On meeting a “wicked magistrate” (፩መኰንን፡ዓላዊ፡), who characteristically inquires as to her identity, she equally characteristically responds, “I am of the people of Jesus Christ, and my name is Marina” (አነ፡እምሰብአ፡ኢየሱስ፡ክርስቶስ፡ወስምየ፡መሪና፡). The magistrate noticed Marina’s beauty and splendor (ስና፡ወላሕያ፡) and could not control himself (ስእነ፡ተዓግሦ፡), so he tried to persuade her with all kinds of talk to make her agree to give herself to him (ወሄጣ፡ብኵሉ፡ነገር፡ከመ፡ኦሆ፡ትብሎ፡), but she would not, of course, and instead she cursed him and slandered his gods (ረገመቶ፡ወፀረፈት፡አማልክቲሁ፡). This results in the magistrate’s command that she be beaten with iron bars, cut and lacerated (አዘዘ፡ይቅሥፍዋ፡በአብትረ፡ሐፂን፡ወይምትሩ፡መለያልዪሃ፡ወይሥትሩ፡ሥጋሃ፡) “until her blood flowed like water” (እስከ፡ውኅዘ፡ደማ፡ከመ፡ማይ፡). The saint prays and Michael the archangel heals her (ፈወሳ፡), but she is then thrown into prison, an especially dark one (ቤተ፡ሞቅሕ፡ዘምሉእ፡ጽልመት፡). There she again prays, Michael comes and illumines the prison, and he takes her to heaven and before returning her he shows her the habitation of the saints and the just (ወአዕረጋ፡ውስተ፡ሰማይ፡ወአርአያ፡ማኅደረ፡ቅዱሳን፡ወጻድቃን፡). Once, while she is praying, having endured more tortures and having received subsequent archangelic healing, a huge serpent (or dragon) comes to her “from one of the corners of the prison” (መጽአ፡ኀቤሃ፡እማእዘንተ፡ቤተ፡ሞቅሕ፡ዐቢይ፡ተመን፡). She is afraid of it, and it swallows her whole  as she has her arms extended in prayer in the shape of a cross (ወውኅጣ፡እንዘ፡ስፉሕ፡እደዊሃ፡በአምሳለ፡መስቀል፡ወትጼሊ፡በልባ፡)! Just then, the serpent’s belly splits open, and the saint emerges unharmed (ተሠጥቀ፡ከርሡ፡ወወፅአት፡እምኔሁ፡ዘእንበለ፡ሙስና፡)! On her way back through the prison in another direction, she sees Satan sitting down in the form of a black man (በአምሳለ፡ብእሲ፡ጸሊም፡), his hands gripping the top of his knees (ወጽቡጣት፡እደዊሂ፡ዲበ፡አብራኪሁ፡); she marks him with the sign of the cross, grabs him by the hair and beats him with some kind of scourge (አኃዘቶ፡በሥዕርተ፡ርእሱ፡ወዘበጠቶ፡በበትረ፡መቅሠፍት፡)! After that, in a vision of the cross with a talking white dove on it (ተከሥተ፡ላቲ፡ዕፀ፡መስቀሉ፡ለኢየሱስ፡ክርስቶስ፨ወዲቤሁ፡ትነብር፡ርግብ፡ፀዓዳ፡), she knows her time of departure is near. The next day, the magistrate orders her stripped (አዘዘ፡መኰንን፡ያዕርቅዋ፡ልብሰ፡), hung upside down (ወይስቅልዋ፡ቍልቍሊተ፡), burned (ወያውዕይዋ፡በእሳት፡), and thrown into a cauldron of boiling liquid (ወይደይዋ፡ውስተ፡ጽሕርት፡ዘቦቱ፡ማይ፡ፍሉሕ፡). As she is praying inside the cauldron, a dove with a golden crown in its mouth comes and frees her bonds and baptizes her in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the saint emerges from the liquid. The magistrate has had enough and orders her decapitated (ወአዘዘ፡ከመ፡ይምትሩ፡ርእሳ፡በሰይፍ፡), but before she dies, Jesus comes to her and promises (ወወሃባ፡ኪዳነ፡) that her name and story will have an especially effective intercessory power.

So much for the tale of Saint Marina/Margaret. This fabulous (in the original sense of the word) story offers readers quite a spectacle of hagiography. We have several martyrological topoi, and students of Gǝʿǝz will find the excerpts, if not the whole, worth their time to pore over.

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