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The Legend of Hilaria (1913) pp. v-viii. Preface






Vol. II 
The Legend of Hilaria
---- With 3 facsimiles ----




The existence of the story which is published in the following pages, may have been known in Europe since S. E. and J. S. Assemani published the catalogue of the Syriac Mss. preserved in the Vatican library (Bibl. apost. vatic. codd. mss. catalogus, III, p. 494). But it was only in 1879 that more details were made known by the appearance of Wüstenfeld's translation of the Alexandrian synaxary (Synaxarium das ist Heiligen-Kalender der Coptischen Christen, II, p. 252 et sequ.).

In 1887/1888 the Coptic text of the story appeared in the Proceedings of the Society for Biblical Archaeology, X, p. 194 et sequ., together with a translation of another redaction of the text of the Alexandrian synaxary, much longer than the one translated by Wüstenfeld (ib., p. 186). This edition and translation were made by Amélineau.

A new edition and translation of the enlarged Coptic text were published by Giron in his Légendes coptes, p. 44 et sequ.

The Arabic text of the Alexandrian synaxary has been edited by J. Forget (Corpus scriptorum christianorum orientalium, scriptores arabici, series tertia, tomus I et II). The text of Wüstenfeld's translation is to be found in tom. I, p. [Syriac] et sequ., that of Amélineau's translation in tom. I, p. [Syriac] et sequ. |vi  

The Syriac and Karshuni texts are published for the first time in the present book.

The general features of the story, contained in the above mentioned versions, are as follows.

Hilaria, daughter of the Emperor Zeno, having a strong inclination towards monastic life, steals away from her father's palace and reaches the valley of Skete, where she lives henceforth in a cell or grotto, disguised as a man. Her sister, having been attacked by a severe illness, is sent by Zeno to the monks in order to be healed. This task is entrusted to Hilaria. After having recovered the girl is sent back to the Emperor, to whom she relates how a monk, a eunuch, kept her in his cell and healed her. Zeno, being disturbed by this fact, summons the monk to his residence. Here it appears that the so-called eunuch is Hilaria. She returns to the desert and only after her death it becomes more generally known that she was a woman: The monastery receives yearly large gifts from the Emperor.

These are the common features of the Coptic, Arabic, Aethiopic, Syriac and Karshuni versions of the legend. On the differences cf. the Introduction.

It was Dr. O. von Lemm, who recognised the prototype of this, apparently thoroughly Christian, story in the old-egyptian tale of Bent-resh (cf. Mélanges asiatiques tirés du Bulletin de l'académie impériale des sciences de St. Pétersbourg, Tome IX, p. 595-597). The translation of this tale, contained in the present book, has been taken from Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, III, 429-447. A French translation is to be found in Maspéro, Légendes populaires de l'Egypte ancienne, p. 183 et sequ. |vii  

The translation of the Coptic text is based upon the above mentioned translations by Amélineau and Giron. Dr. von Lemm has revised and corrected it. I am greatly indebted to him for this kindness, as well as for many valuable data.

The Karshuni texts have been printed in Arabic characters for typographical reasons. In order to give an idea of the character of the Mss. I have added some facsimiles. ---- I have not deemed it necessary to translate the Aethiopic texts. They represent the same version as the short Arabic text.

I have to thank Professor K. Lake and Mr. M. G. van Neck for revising the English parts of this book.

I have to thank M. l'Abbé S. Grébaut who kindly lent me his photographs of the Parisian Aethiopic Mss. I have used.

My revered teacher Professor Snouck Hurgronje again read a proof of the whole book.

I beg that the Corrigenda be not overlooked, where also corrections to vol. I are to be found.

Leiden, November 1913.                                                                                                                                                                          A. J. WENSINCK.


Introduction ................ p. XI

Corrections in vols. I and II. ......... p. XXXII

Translation of the Story of Bent-Resh ....... p. 1

Translation of the Coptic text .......... p. 7

Translation of the long Arabic text ........ p. 17

Translation of the short Arabic text ........ p. 30

Translation of the Syriac text .......... p. 35

Translation of the short Karshuni text (V). ..... p. 58

Translation of the long Karshuni text ....... p. 63

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