This is one of several translated excerpts from Byzantine sources produced and mounted with historical introduction and commentary by Paul Stephenson.


Parastaseis syntomoi chronikai

A full text and English translation has been published as: Constantinople in the early eighth century: the Parastaseis syntomai chronikai, ed. & tr. Averil Cameron & Judith Herrin (Leiden, 1984).

The title of this work may be translated as brief historical notes, or expositions on Constantinople. It was written in the early eighth century, although the text is preserved in only one 11th-century manuscript (Cod. Par. gr. 1336). (For that reason, the title may not be original.) Whatever we call the parastaseis syntomoi chronikai, it belongs to a corpus of works devoted to the monuments of Constantinople, the most notorious of which is the rich and varied text known as the Patria Konstantinoupoleos, completed in c. 995-1006. (The date derives from a reference within the text to the years since Hagia Sophia was completed, which would supply either date, from the acutal completion, or the date for completion given in the Patria itself.) The Patria survives in numerous versions, containing innumerable later accretions and interpolations, such that "the normal conception of a unitary work or discrete 'text' can only be appied within limits. We should think rather of a growing body of material in which much overlap and variation is possible, and in which fidelity to the original text is far from being the prime concern." The parastaseis syntomoi chronikai, in contrast, demonstrates no accretions (besides, perhaps, its title), and as such "it is a rare source of knowledge of the late antique and early medieval city ... [which] offers intriguing insights into the cultural world of an age from which very little other literary evidence has survived." (Quotations from Cameron & Herrin, p. 1)

May 2002

Revised November 2006; January 2012

Google Book link added January 2009