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Jerome, Chronicle (2005). Preface to the Online Edition

The Chronicle of St. Jerome


The Chronicle of St. Jerome was composed around 380AD and became the primary available source of information on dates and events from the time of its composition until the end of the middle ages.  Jerome's work itself was a translation into Latin of the Chronicle of Eusebius of Caesarea, brought up to date, but it was through Jerome that it came to be so influential.

It is the first text in which we see an attempt to accurately date all the events of times previous.  Every event is assigned to a date, the kings and the dates are drawn up in columns, and brief notes made against each.  The revolutionary tabular format forces the chronologist to be precise in whatever data is entered and highlights any errors involved in synchronising lists from different kingdoms of kings and the number of years they reigned.

The Chronicle of Eusebius of Caesarea

Eusebius of Caesarea wrote his chronicle ca. 311 AD, and is responsible for the revolutionary format which transformed the study of history. 

Prior to Eusebius, a chronography would consist of lists of kings, and how long they reigned.  An occasional note might be attached to the name of a king, stating that in the 3rd year of his reign such-and-such event occurred.  Each kingdom would be treated separately, and its rulers or magistrates listed.  Eusebius himself compiled a chronography of this kind, which is today known as book one of his Chronicle, and has the title The Chronography.  But the problem for the reader was how to link information about rulers and events in one kingdom to events in other kingdoms.  Eusebius wanted to write a history of the church, and needed to link together information from Jewish sources with the chronographical information that he obtained from numerous Greek predecessors, such as Porphyry, Castor, and Erastothenes, and also from Christian predecessors such as Julius Africanus.

His own contribution was to draw up the existing mass of chronological information in a tabular format that enforced a perpetual synchronism between the various parallel strands of data. This innovation may rightly be described as a moment of genius. The second book of his Chronicle was drawn up in this way and entitled The Chronological Canons.  This was the portion that Jerome translated and its format can be seen below.  Jerome's translation is the most accurate version of this book that has reached us.

To do this, Eusebius took the then new medium of the codex (the modern book format, as opposed to the roll) and exploited the concept of a page.  He divided up the page using a tabular format. 

He drew vertical columns on the page.  The lefthandmost he headed as 'Kings of the Persians' (or whichever other empire was current at the time).  The righthandmost he headed 'Kings of the Egyptians', so long as there were any.  When new kingdoms came along, he added an extra column for them; when kingdoms disappeared, the column vanished with them.

When a king came to the throne, he placed his name on a separate line by itself, for any events of that king which had no specified year.  Beneath it he then enumerated the years of his reign on succeeding lines; 1, 2, 3, 4 and so on.  Thus for each year there was a line on which information could be entered.  Also, by running along the line, it could be seen precisely who ruled where at any given time.

The new format was an act of genius, which ensured that the problems of Greek chronography would not continue to bedevil history.

Eusebius also decided to start his Chronicle, not with the date of Creation, but with the earliest date that he felt he could reasonably calculate, which was the birth of Abraham.  Since his new format placed each year on a separate line, he marked every ten years how many years it had been from the birth of Abraham.  This universal dating foreshadowed the invention of the standard Anno Domini dating by Dionysius Exiguus.  That a standard dating system would come into being was ensured by the popularity of Jerome's version of the Chronicle, and the obvious need for it once that work existed.

Eusebius did not collect the materials himself for his work, but relied on whatever works he could find which gave brief lists of events and rulers.  Once he started work, the problems of Greek chronography must have become exceedingly evident.

The problems of Greek chronography

By the time of Eusebius, Greek chronography was a mess.  There were a number of reasons for this.

There was no agreement in the ancient world on which date the year should begin.  Each city would have its own calendar and reckoning.  There were several different systems of months in use.  There were also systems like 'Ab Urbe Condita' (AUC - from the founding of the City, Rome).  But there were so many of these, and they enjoyed such limited use, that these did not advance things.  The Romans, rather than using AUC, tended to date a year by the names of the annual consuls then in office.  Greek cities often did likewise.

The most common system of dating was by the regnal year of a reigning monarch, and inscriptions often record that they were erected in the nth year of king xyz.  Lists of kings and the number of years they reigned circulated, and exist still, carved on the walls of Egyptian temples.  But kings do not always come to the throne on the 1st of January, and some rule for less than a year, and some are obliterated from the lists for political reasons.  In consequence any reckoning based upon regnal years was bound to be in error, sometimes substantially as errors in a dynasty accumulated.

Once the Olympic games had begun, with a group of four years between games known as an Olympiad, some of the Greeks began to refer to those four-year groups by the name of the victor in the games.  Later yet, a number was assigned to the olympiad.  Chronicles based on the four-year cycle began to come into existence, since this dating was more universal for Greek affairs than lists of annual officials in each city.

Anyone trying to write a history had to struggle with these obstacles. Frequently the best that could be done was to say that a certain man flourished in the reign of such a king.  Yet even here problems occurred, since the Greek word used for 'flourished' was extremely similar to that for 'was born.'  The result of such errors can be seen in the Chronicle in the dates assigned to Lycurgus, who appears 3 times over a period of more than a century.  The first is in fact when he was born; the second his hey-day, and the third refers to someone of the same name!  But each can be traced back to impeccable sources in the Greek tradition that Eusebius used.

Eusebius' approach to the chronological problems

Eusebius was powerless to solve most of these problems.  His innovative format however forced him to deal with some of them.  In many cases he simply recorded what he had, and left others to deal with the problem.  In others he presumed an error and adjusted the count of years assigned to a given ruler in order to make the lines tally and 'correct' the 'error'.

Starting with a mess of loosely connected regnal years, he linked them together through synchronisms.  These were points at which he had information that tied together events in two different kingdoms. 

For instance he was able to determine that Darius of Persia and Alexander the Great of Macedon lived at the same time, since the latter overthrew the former.  This linked the Greek lists with the Persian ones.  The Greek lists could be linked together through the Olympiads, which were often recorded for Greek events.  He was able to link Jewish events with Persian ones because it was recorded that the second temple was built in the Second Year of Darius.  This last date is one of his crucial synchronisms.  The date of the Trojan War was present in many of his lists, and forms another such link.

Some events, particularly in Olympiad Chronicles, were not given a precise year, but merely dated to the period of the Olympiad, or of a given ruler.  He handled this by placing each Olympiad and each ruler's name on a fresh line, separate from the normal list of years.  This gave him space to record such information.

The Chronicle is inevitably riddled with errors.  Eusebius himself records at one point that all dates prior to then are conjectural and disputed.  Responsibility for these errors must be assigned largely to his predecessors.  Even then, it is difficult to condemn inaccurate dates assigned to times when no-one had any conception of such a thing as a numerical date.  Rather the Chronicle draws a line under the period of confusion, and provides a framework in which errors can be identified and resolved.

Eusebius' own Chronicle is no longer extant in the original Greek.  An Armenian translation exists in two manuscripts, although the end of book one and start and end of book two are lost in both.  The entries in book two have also been augmented, and the format rearranged, but numerous errors crept in during this process.

Jerome and Eusebius

St. Jerome as a young man spent time in the East and became familiar with a great deal of the scholarship of the school of Origen and Eusebius.  He came across a copy of the Chronological Canons and recognised its importance.  As with other works by Eusebius, such as the Onomasticon, he arranged to translate it.  He had a skilled scribe draw up a volume with the numerals in Latin rather than Greek - no trivial task -, and then dictated a translation of the contents.

He also added his own comments where he felt that Roman history had been neglected.  Finally he composed a continuation down to his own times, ending with the disastrous defeat and death of the emperor Valens at the hands of the Goths at Adrianople in 378 AD. 

This continuation was of the utmost importance for the future.  The esteem in which Jerome was held was great in the succeeding decades and centuries, and the monastic scribes did not hesitate to follow his example and write further continuations to the text.  This practice undoubtedly contributed to the preservation of the work and its centrality to all future historical work.

Jerome made revisions to the text as time went on. He made an error in transcribing 'Alcamenes' in one entry, mistaking the numeral theta that preceded it as part of the name.  The text 'Thalcamenes' appears in numerous manuscripts, including 'O'; but is corrected in others.  It shows clearly the manner in which the Greek practise of using letters as numerals facilitated corruption of both the numbers and the text.

Families of manuscripts

It was Joseph Justus Scaliger (1540-1609) who first worked on the chronology of antiquity and so came up against the primary witness, Jerome's version of Eusebius.  In his work De emendation temporum (1583) he split the mss into two families.

Also present in the manuscripts of Jerome are a set of king-lists (the Series Regum) and an Exordium.  In 1750 the Veronese scholar Girolamo Da Prato published a treatise, De Chronicis libris duo ab Eusebio scriptis et editis.  In this he established the late date of these two items.  These are published in Schoene (below).

One MS of the 5th century survives almost complete; of another, enough fragments survive to identify two apographs which enable it to be reconstructed in its entirety.  There are several MSS of the 7th and 8th centuries.  These early witnesses attest securely not only the text of Jerome's version, but equally important, its arrangement of the columns of numbers and of the entries on each page of the original (T.D.Barnes, p.112).

So old are the manuscripts, that we can see some of Jerome's working practises.  S and its descendants reflect Jerome's final version.  O was based on a somewhat earlier copy which had a few readings which Jerome corrected against his copy of Eusebius, but has the same format.  However the copyist of O has chosen to save parchment by condensing the text into 30 lines per page, rather than the original 26.  B also derives from a pre-revision copy.  Schoene referred to the revised edition as the Editio Romana of the Chronicle, on the theory that Jerome made it to present to the Roman synod of 382. (RP: I have been unable to find any actual evidence in any of the works listed below for this).

There is no uniformity in the manuscripts in the division of lines and pages in the prefaces.  All the older manuscripts have a single column format for the preface; some later ones have two columns.




Shelfmark & Notes

Date /

O Oxford, Bodleian Library Codex Oxoniensis Bodleianus Lat. auct. T II 26.  Uncial. 30 lines a page.  It contains the Chronicle of Jerome (to f. 144), followed by a chronological summary on 1 leaf, followed by the Chronicle of Marcellinus.  A posteriores Ms.  (Online here)

Ff. 1-32 years, are in a late (s.XV?) hand in the priores (long-lines) format.  The remainder (A. Abr. 555-2394) is in a fifth century hand, the last leaf is missing, and the one-leaf summary replacing it is either by the same or a contemporary hand.  There are marginalia dating from around 1400.

The manuscript was acquired from an unknown source by Jean de Tillet, Bishop of Meaux, who died in 1570. Du Tillet had obtained authority from Francis I to collect Mss from French libraries; there are reasons to suppose that the Ms. was in the South of France ca. 1400. Pontacus borrowed it from him and cites it by the name of the Meldensis (M).  Sirmond, in his edition of Marcellinus (1619, 1696) refers to it as being in Tillet's library.  It then passed to the Jesuit College of Clermont at Paris.  This library was sold in 1764, when it was acquired by Meerman.  On the sale of his library in 1824, it was bought by Gaisford for the Bodleian.  There are full details in Fotheringham's facsimile.

MADAN, Summary Catalogue..., IV (1897), p.441.

S Leiden, Paris & Vatican Codex Floriacensis fragm.  Dismembered pages of this MS.  Paris. Lat. 6400 B (14 pages: the 7th quaternion of the Ms plus the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th and 8th gatherings of the 8th quaternion); Leiden, Voss. Lat. Q. 110 A (6 pages at the end of P); Vatican Reginensis 1709 (2 pages).  Uncial.  The Paris fragment has a note in a 9th century hand "Codex beati Benedicti Floriac.", indicating it belonged to the abbey at Fleury at that date.  This was sacked by the Hugenots in 1562.  Written in Italy.  26 lines per page.  The division of the pages is the same as in A,N,P.  N and P must have been copied from S, so similar are they in form and text.   A posteriores Ms.  

The Ms must have devoted one more leaf to the title and prefaces than M N and P and must have originally contained 167 leaves.  A photographic facsimile was published as Supplement I in the Leiden series of Codices Graeci et Latini.

B Berne, Stadtbibliothek. Codex Bernensis 219 (once Bongarsianus, in Scaliger; Aurelianensis or A in Pontacus). Written in uncial, probably at the Abbey of St. Benedict at Fleury, to which it belonged according to a notice in the Ms.  Later belonged to Peter Daniel Aurelianensis (d. 1603), then to Jacques Bongars, when Scaliger mentions it by that name.  A manuscript not related to S. A posteriores Ms.

Contains only the Chronicle of Jerome.  From dates given in the Ms it would appear to have been written between 627 and 699 AD, as there is a large notice on fol. 1 referring to the 5th year of Childebert king of the Franks and given various dates of this (697 AD), and on the last page another notice referring to 17th year of Heraclius as the 627th Dionysian year of Christ (I.e. A.D., after Dionysius Exiguus who devised it).  There are 76 leaves.  The pages are much larger than AOS and the number of lines per page varies from 34 to 40.  This manuscript generally compresses the two-page spread into one, making a division down the middle of the page instead.  It is a very careless piece of work and the scribe has not troubled to keep the columns in line.  However the right years correspond at the start of each page, so it seems that the scribe retained the division of pages in his archetype.  The constant misplacement of olympiads is a sign of the carelessness of the scribe.  Unfortunately Schoene used this as the basis of his edition.

A Valenciennes, Bibliothèque de la Ville. Codex Valentianus 495 (once Amandinus).   From St. Amand, now in the public library in Valenciennes.  Uncial, 26 lines per page.   Transcribed from S.  Contains only the Chronicle of Jerome.  The foliation suggests that the manuscript should contain 167 leaves; one is devoted to the title, while two leaves are missing after f.125, and one leaf has been accidentally omitted in the foliation after f. 105 (the error may be counteracted elsewhere).  The pages are the same size as NOPS.  It corresponds very nearly page for page and line for line with NPS and the first part of M, but devoted more space to the preface than MNP do. There are frequent blank lines, suggesting that some notices took up fewer lines in this Ms. than in the archetype, and that the scribe has resorted to this device to keep the layout the same.  A posteriores Ms.   7
P Leiden Codex Leidensis Lat. Voss. Q 110 (once Petavianus).  In the 9th century, according to a statement in the Ms itself, it was written in the Abbey of St. Mesmin in Orleans by a monk Elias in the time of Abbot Peter (ca. 840 AD). Transcribed from S.  Contains only Jerome's Chronicle.  Close correspondance with N, and almost as close to S.  166 leaves, including 2 devoted to the title.  A posteriores Ms. ca. 840 AD.
N Berlin, Staatsbibliothek Codex Turonensis Berolin. Phillips. 1872.  From the collection of Sir Thomas Phillips at Middlehill.  The manuscript came originally from Tours.  It contains only Jerome's Chronicle, on 166 leaves.  Minuscules are used for all entries in black ink and uncials for everything in red.  There are 26 lines per page and the division of pages corresponds to that in APS.  It seems to be a copy of S.  It has interesting marginalia derived from the other families. A posteriores Ms.  9 or 10
M Berlin Codex Middlehillensis Berolin. Phillips. 1829.  Written at Trier in the time of Charlemagne.  Minuscule all through.  26 lines per page.  A descendant of either S or O.  A posteriores Ms.

This Ms. came originally from Treves (see Mommsen, Chronica Minora I, p.78).  It contains the Chronicle of Jerome, the Liber Generationis and Hydatius.  Jerome occupies ff.1-153 and the first line of f.154.  In the first part of the chronicle the page division corresponds exactly to ANPST; in the latter part the division is different to any other Ms.  The hand changes at the start of f.73a.  A full collation appears in Schoene, but is not reliable.

F Leiden, Bibliotheek der Universiteit Codex Leidensis Scaliger 14 (once Freherianus in Scaliger and Pontacus; although the latter sometimes confused this Ms (Fre.) with the Codex Fabritianus (Fab.)).  Written in red, green, black and purple ink, and belongs to the early part of the 9th century.  It descends from the manuscript of Bonifatius.  It is written on 190 leaves and contains Jerome, the Exordium, the Chronicon consulare of Prosper, and a dedicatory epistle and Carmen votivum of Bonifatius.  Jerome occupies ff. 2a-176a; f58b and f59a are blank, however, so the total is174 leaves.  The pages contain 25 lines each, and do not exactly correspond to any other manuscript.  A posteriores Ms. 9
L London, British Library Ms. Additional 16974. Related to T.  Contains the title 'Liber monasterii sancti Trudonis', so belong to the monastery of St. Tron in Belgium.  It contains Jerome's Commentary on Matthew, the Chronicon of Jerome, the Chronicon Imperiale of Prosper, and the Chronicle of Marius of Aventicum.  Jerome's Chronicle is ff. 57a-190a.  The pages are much larger than most mss, containing 42 (sometimes 40 or 41) lines.  This is the oldest of the priores.  The scribe was careless.  A displacement of a portion of the preface shows that the archetype had around 31 lines per page. 9/10
Lucca, Chapter library Codex Lucensis bibl. capit. 490.  Written in a small minuscule. AD 787
Lem. 1 Limoges Codex Lemovicensis bibl. publ. 1 12
D Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale Francais. Codex Parisinus Latinus 4860 (once Colbertinus).  Written in Mainz.  10
T Oxford, Merton College Codex Oxon. Merton 315.  Related to SAPN. Written in red, green and black ink.  It is written on 156 leaves, and contains Jerome's Chronicle.  However it inserts after the preface of Eusebius two short treatises, Interpretatio sancti Hieronymi de nominibus gentium and De mensuratio provinciarum.  After the Chronicle come four chronological summaries.  There are some German verses in a late, perhaps 14th century hand, on ff.9a, 156a/b, so the Ms perhaps was in Germany some time.  The division of pages is almost identical with that in AMNPS for the first part (to A.Abr. 1496) but with occasional deviations.  The latter portion is divided up differently to any other manuscript.  There are 26 lines per page, except in the prefaces and summaries at the end, where there are 28.  In the omission of headings in the Chronicle, the Ms. agrees with B. 9
C Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale Francais. Codex Parisinus Latinus 4859 (Colbertinus).  Related to T. 9/10
L London, British Library Ms. Additional 16974. Related to T. A member of the long-lines family. 9/10
Q Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale Francais. Codex Parisinus Latinus 4858.  Uncial and minuscule. 9
U Udine, Biblioteca Arcivescovile Biblioteca Arcivescovile ot° 14.  These partially supply the lost pages at the start of O.  Images in Fotheringam, Bodleian.
W Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale Francais. Codex Parisinus Latinus 4870.  These partially supply the lost pages at the start of O. Images in Fotheringam, Bodleian.  Contains the words common to other Mss descended from O: "A Valente VI et Valentiniano iuniore usque in consulatum Eudoxii colliguntur LXIIII, ac per hoc a XV Tiberi anno, quo dominus predicare incepit, in consulatum Eudoxii et Dioscori fuint anni CCCCXI." (442 AD).
V Oxford, Bodleian Library Canonici script. eccl. 96.
R Montpellier, Bibliothèque Universitaire, Section de Médecine Codex Montepessulanus H. 32.

This is not a complete list: there are said to be a hundred or so.

About this translation

This translation is the first translation of the whole work into a modern language.  The portion written by Jerome himself, from 326-378, has been translated before.  Malcolm Drew Donalson translated it into English with a commentary in 1996; Benoît Jeanjean published an excellent French translation and commentary in 2004, to which he added a translation of the two prefaces of Jerome and Eusebius.  Most but not all of the preface of Jerome had been translated into English as part of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series in the 19th century.

The translation came about as a result of some experiments in online collaborative translation by Roger Pearse.  Andrew Smith of had translated portions of the text of the Chronicle covering the Hellenistic era, down to the death of Tiberius, and formatted them as text keyed on Olympiad, year, and text.  This provided a model for placing the text of the Chronicle online so that it could be translated, without the need to worry about the king-lists and numbers and the detailed format of the final product.  This was the approach taken.

After a discussion with Steven Van Impe, in September 2004, a web page was placed online which contained on the left hand side some 160 text entries in Latin from Jerome's Chronicle, one after another, and on the right a box in which anyone might enter a translation.  The text was broken down into very short sections of no more than a short sentence.  The electronic Patrologia Latina Database text was used as a basis, and corrected against the edition of J. K. Fotheringham.  The PL text contained a great many medieval additions which were mostly ignored, and the remainder placed in brackets.

The text was made available in weekly 'chunks' of no more than 160 sections, each being edited, uploaded and announced on a Saturday.  Each chunk took around a week.  The website then allowed anyone visiting the site to enter a translation or comments there and then, without the need for registration.  The emphasis was on each section being so short that anyone with any knowledge of Latin would be able to do something, and thereby people of all levels of Latin would be encouraged to participate.  Quality was assured by keeping the length of the chunk short, so that when a chunk was done people could then review what had been done in the remainder of the week.

The existence of each new chunk was publicised in a variety of online fora, including humanities.classics, soc.history.ancient and the LT-ANTIQ mailing list.  The process took 14 weeks from September 2004 until Christmas 2004, starting with Gaius (Caligula) and proceeding to the end, then restarting with Abraham and continuing down to Tiberius; finally doing the praefationes in the same way. 

After the bulk of the translation work was done, the translation had to be harmonised to try to ensure that the same words were translated the same way.  This was not straightforward.  The text was too large to edit in Microsoft Word or Frontpage.  In the end, each sentence was placed online in a separate text file, numbered 1-2574, and a PHP script written so that the sentences could be browsed by number range (1-10, etc) or by searching for words in the text file.  Using the latter approach, it was easier to display only those sections which contained a specific word to be harmonised.  This process took a month.

Then the result had to be laid out in the format of the original, which took some three months until April 2004 and was very arduous.  The format is 26 line pages and follows Helm's edition (1956).  This proved extraordinarily difficult, involving some unusual HTML.  The layout was done from the rear of the volume, and only once around 70% of the text had been formatted was a template that would work for every page successfully evolved.  This process took until the end of April 2005, and around 20% had to be done again once the modus operandi had been established. However many features of the Chronicle only become clear once you actually try to lay out a copy on a page, electronic or otherwise.

The layout was done a page at a time in Dreamweaver 6.  Attempts to edit larger files proved impractical.  It quickly became clear that the HTML tables could not be allowed to resize as normally happens.  Instead the tables were specified as fixed size and the properties of each cell specified in CSS.  This ensured compatibility across browsers, such as Internet Explorer 6, Netscape 6 and Firefox.

Finally a question arose about colours in the text.  Jerome's original text had the columns of kings coloured alternately red and black, in order to avoid confusion.  This has been followed in the online text.  There are no indications in either Helm or Fotheringham of the colour system.  The Merton College manuscript is online, but since this has additional colours it could not be used without reservation.  A colour strip of 27 pictures of the Bodleian manuscript was bought and used as a guide, but this mainly contained items from the latter portion of the Chronicle.  The Assistant Librarian of the Bodleian, Dr. Bruce Barker-Benfield, kindly agreed to allow access to this treasure.  A visit during May 2005 allowed the production of a marked up print-out of the translation which indicated which portions of the text were in which colour.  In the process he found that the facsimile really was an extraordinarily accurate reproduction of the look and feel of the codex, colour aside.  However the first original page was page 69.  The colour on the pages before this point is therefore a reconstruction.  The last page of the codex was also lost in late antiquity; again a guess has been made on the correct colours.

One problem that was encountered in the translation was a portion in Jerome's introduction.  The original text was laid out in a specific tabular format by Eusebius, and following him, by Jerome.  However at some time during the Dark Ages, a scribe chose to reformat the document by placing all of the columns of kings on the left, and all the text on the right.  The first letter of the text was colour-coded to indicate to which column of numbers - up to nine - it related.  To explain this, the scribe interpolated a short passage into Jerome's introduction.  Unfortunately this passage is extremely terse and difficult to understand in the absence of a manuscript formatted and coded in this way.  A manuscript of this family does exist in the British Library.  Permission to view this manuscript has been granted but the opportunity to view it has not yet arrived. Until this can be checked, the translation of the interpolated passage must be considered provisional.

Translators and helpers

Around 25 people participated at various points during the 14 weeks of the experiment, and I would like to thank everyone who did so.  In no particular order, the main translators and problem-solvers were: Roger Pearse (RP), Andrew S. Jacobs (ASJ), José Miguel Blasco Ibáñez (JMB), Jacob Wainwright Love (JWL), and an anonymous contributor known as '...'; together with contributions large and small by Argyros George Argyrou (AGA), Steven Van Impe (SVI), Benôit Jeanjean (BJ: whose splendid French translation of the last portion of the Chronicle appeared as our project was drawing to a close), Frank Gay (FG), Frank Van Heden (FVH), Mark DelCogliano (MD), Andrew Smith (AS), Michael Kuettner (MK), James Hannam (JH), DSV, TV, GAC, MDM, M. Guy, Kevin O'Donnell, Ayse Tuzlak (AT), FM, RAK, JWS, tks, EL, SJJC, DH, KS, Pe, AC, RIP and others who chose to remain entirely anonymous. (If anyone for whom I only have initials would like to contact me, I'd be glad to add your names).  Many, many thanks to you all!

All errors of translation, revision and layout are solely the responsibility of Roger Pearse, of course. The translation does not pretend to be what it is not, and doubtless contains errata and corrigenda.  All such will be gratefully received.  The object of the translation was to explore the possibilities and limitations of online translation of works never before translated by a mixture of professionals and people not professionally involved in such activity, and in the process to make this fascinating work available to the general public, and thereby to encourage interest in ancient chronography.  It is hoped that this will now occur.

Thanks are due to Dr. Bruce Barker-Benfield of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, who made it possible for the manuscript 'O' -- one of the treasures of that library -- to be consulted.

Key to codes used in the translation

The double-page openings of Jerome's copy are represented on-screen by the white rectangles.  Areas in yellow indicate material not part of Jerome's text.  The spine of the book is represented by a yellow column down the middle.  Page numbers (a later addition) are indicated in square brackets at the top -- [220/221] is pages 220 and 221.  These page numbers appear in Helm and Fotheringham.

A few things in the text may be obscure.  These have been transcribed from the edition of Helm (1956).

g An entry -- The italic letter is not present in Jerome's text, but is a code devised by Rudolf Helm.  All the text entries can be referenced by page number and letter, e.g. 303a.

* -- When an entry is marked with an asterisk in Helm's edition, it is supposedly not present in the Armenian translation of the original work by Eusebius.  This means that it must be an entry added by Jerome.  However Burgess states (p.24) that these are not very accurate.  After some hesitation, I have transcribed them.
(*) -- Helm's code for an entry which is present in the Armenian, but in a somewhat shorter or different form.
*? -- Helm's code for another possible modification; I am unclear in what way.

The first column of years, underlined, is the years from Abraham, shown every 10 years.  The reckoning of years AD and BC is shown for guidance, but did not form part of the original text.

Note that the text has been formatted for display under Internet Explorer 6.  I have been unable to discover why it behaves erratically under Firefox.  The task of converting the Chronicle to HTML for the first time has not been a trivial one, and the only way to find out how to do it was to learn by doing.  There are certain irregularities of page width in the second portion of the Chronicle.  I hope I may be forgiven for not redoing this portion entirely, using the page size and format of the pages in the first part. Such an enterprise would be useful, but it would take months, for purely cosmetic gain.  At the moment I do not have the resources to redo it.  If it causes deep pain, let me know.

It is possible to print off the tabular portion of the Chronicle, in landscape mode, resizing to paper width.  An inkjet can give quite satisfactory results.

Latin text

After this was all done, there was very little energy left for anything else, and certainly not to create an online Latin text.  The text used for the translation project consisted of the 'lemmas' of text only.  But during the summer of 2005, JMB very heroically volunteered to incorporate this into the format of the translation, so that a Latin text would be available.  This he did, and it now appears here with the English.  The numerals have not been converted back to Roman numbers.  If someone would care to volunteer for that task, it would be nice to complete the job.


The materials available to the editor were limited to whatever could be bought or photocopied by someone living in a rural town.  These were:

Richard W. BURGESS, Studies in Eusebian and post-Eusebian Chronography, Stuttgart (1999). (Photocopy of portions).
Malcolm Drew DONALSON, A Translation of Jerome's Chronicon With Historical Commentary, Mellen University Press (1996). ISBN: 0773422587 (Photocopy of translation).
J. K. FOTHERINGHAM, The Bodleian Manuscript of Jerome's Version of the Chronicle of Eusebius Reproduced in Collotype.  Oxford: Clarendon (1905) (Photocopy)
J. K. FOTHERINGHAM, Eusebii Pamphili Chronici canones. London: Humphrey Milford (1923).  (Photocopy)
R. HELM, Eusebius Werke 7: Die Chronik des Hieronymus, Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller 47 (1956). (Photocopy of text only) 
Benoît JEANJEAN & Bertrand LANÇON, Saint-Jérôme, Chronique : Continuation de la Chronique d'Eusèbe, années 326-378 suivie de quatre études sur les Chroniques et chronographies dans l'An ... e ronde du GESTIAT, Brest, 22 et 23 mars 2002, PU Rennes (1 octobre 2004), ISBN : 2753500185. (Purchased copy).
Josef KARST, Eusebius Werke, 5te Band : Die Chronik aus dem Armenischen übersetzt.  Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteeler der Ersten Jahrhunderte 20.  (1911). (Photocopy of portions).
Alden A. MOSSHAMMER, The Chronicle of Eusebius and the Greek Chronographic Tradition, Lewisburg/London (1979), ISBN 0-8387-1939-2. (Photocopy)
Alfred SCHOENE, Eusebi Chronicorum Libri.  2 vols. Berlin: Weidmann (1875) (Purchased copy, but not extensively used after reading Mosshammer's comments).

The other item available to the editor and translators, and used with wonder and delight for every chunk of translation, was the 9th century Merton College Oxford manuscript 315, available online from the Bodleian Library website.


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This text was written by Roger Pearse, 2005.  All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font, free from here.

Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts