1.1 Quī nāvālī proeliō dīmicātūrī sunt, ante in portū et in tranquillō marī flectunt gubernācula, rēmōs trahunt, ferreās manūs et uncōs praeparant, dispositumque per tabulāta mīlitem—pendente gradū et lābente vestīgiō—stāre firmiter assuēscunt, ut, quod in simulācrō pugnae didicerint, in vērō certāmine nōn pertimēscant. 1.2 Ita et ego, quī diū tacuī (silēre quippe mē fēcit, cui meus sermō supplicium est), prius exercērī cupiō in parvō opere et velutī quandam rūbīginem linguae abstergēre, ut venīre possim ad historiam lātiōrem. 1.3 Scrībere enim disposuī—sī tamen Dominus vītam dederit, et sī vituperātōrēs meī saltem fugientem mē et clausum persequī dēsierint—ab adventū Salvātōris usque ad nostram aetātem, id est, ab Apostolīs, usque ad huius temporis faecem, quōmodo et per quōs Chrīstī ecclēsia nāta sit et adulta, persecūtiōnibus crēverit, et martyriīs corōnāta sit, et, postquam ad Chrīstiānōs prīncipēs vēnerit, potentiā quidem et dīvitiīs māior, sed virtūtibus minor facta sit. Vērum haec aliās. Nunc quod imminet explicēmus.
This brief work is a kind of exercise to get back in the habit of writing after a long period of enforced silence, and prefatory to a contemplated larger history of the Church.
Quī nāvālī proeliō etc. Jerome compares his Life of Malchus to practicing for a naval battle, with a particular focus on the marines. The closest parallel for this metaphor is in Ambrose, de Officiis (1.10.32–3). Comparisons of a literary enterprise to a non-military voyage by sea are more standard.
Quī = (illī) quī.
dīmicātūrī sunt < dīmicō (1), “to fight”; the First Periphrastic Conjugation, i.e. future active participle + sum (AG 195).
ante: adverb, not preposition; “before” (the battle), “first.”
ferreās manūs et uncos: “grappling irons and hooks” (LS manus II.L); accusative plural.
dispositumque per tabulāta mīlitem ... stāre firmiter assuēscunt = (et) assuēscunt mīlitem dispositum per tabulāta ... stare firmiter. < asseuēscō -ere, “to make accustomed” (transitive); < tabulātum -ī n., “platform,” “deck” (of a ship). mīlitem: singular for plural, “the soldiery,” “the soldiers.” pendente gradū et lābente vestīgiō: ablative absolutes: “with a foot hanging (in the air) and with slipping footstep”; the soldiers have to get used to fighting on a moving deck. < vestigīum -(i)ī n., “footprint”; here the sole of the foot, and thus the foot.
quod ... didicerint: perf. subj. in relative clause of characteristic (AG 535). quod = (illud) quod, the direct object of nōn pertimēscant.
nōn pertimēscant: pres. subj. in purpose clause; the negative is normally nē, but ut ... non can occur when the negative is closely associated with a particular word (here pertimēscant).
silēre ... mē fēcit, cui ... supplicium est = (is) cui meus sermō supplicium est mē fēcit silēre. < supplicium: “torment, anguish, distress” (LS II). faciō + infinitive can mean “cause (someone) to do (something)”; the usage becomes common in LL (DMLBS facere 9).
The reference is probably to Pope Siricius, who in 385 had driven Jerome from Rome.
rūbīginem: < rūbīgō -inis f., “rust.” linguae: probably genitive. The tongue “stands for the capacity to write and is described as a tool used for battle which, in order to be efficient, needs to be cleared from its rust or other patina” (Gray).
abstergēre < abstergeō -ēre, “to wipe off”; depends on cupiō.
latiōrem < latus -a -um, “having a wide scope, far-ranging” (OLD 5.a); possim: pres. subj. in a purpose clause. Jerome, as we shall see, was planning a full history of the Church.
disposuī: “I intended,” (DMLBS disponere 5), perf. indic. in the apodosis of a disguised condition (AG 523). Jerome never completed the project outlined here, though he did write his De viris illustribus, a series of Christian and pagan biographies.
sī tamen ... dederit, et sī ... dēsierint: perf. subj. in the protasis of a future less vivid condition (AG 514.B.2.b.). < dēsinō, dēsinere, dēs(i)ī or dēsīvī, dēsitum, “to leave off, desist.” sī tamen: “provided that” (Gray). vituperātōrēs saltem fugientem mē et clausum: “my detractors, who persecute me even as I am a fugitive and confined” (Gray); saltem here adds emphasis, like vel. Jerome had left Rome and was in a monastery in Bethlehem because of the hostility provoked by his advocacy of sexual abstinence.
id est, ab Apostolīs: “that is, from (the time of) the Apostles”; Jerome is speaking loosely, since the time of the Apostles came about thirty years after the birth of Christ.
faecem: < faex faecis f., “the dregs” (of wine); "scum." The word is used metaphorically in CL for low status and immoral people, but its application by Jerome to his own age is striking.
quōmodo ... nāta sit ... crēverit ... corōnāta sit ... vēnerit ... facta sit: perf. subj. in an indirect question. persecūtiōnibus crēverit: “the paradox that persecution increases, rather than diminishes, the number of Christians is a commonplace” (Gray). potentiā quidem et dīvitiīs māior: sc. facta sit.
explicēmus: hortatory subjunctive (AG 439).
nāvālis -e: pertaining to ships; naval; subst., navalia, ium, n., dock, docks, dockyard, naval arsenal; naval equipments (> navis)
dīmicō dīmicāre dīmicāvī dīmicātus: to struggle, fight
portus portūs m.: port, harbor; refuge, haven, place of refuge
tranquillus -a -um: calm, still; subst., tranquillum, i, n., a calm; calm weather
flectō flectere flēxī flexus: to bend, curve, bow; turn, curl; persuade, prevail on, soften
gubernāculum -ī n.: a helm, steering rope, tiller (> guberno, steer)
rēmus rēmī m.: oar
ferreus -a -um: made of iron
uncus -ī m.: hook
praeparō -parāre -parāvī -parātus: to make ready beforehand, prepare, equip, make preparations
dispōnō dispōnere dispōsuī dispōsitus: to place, arrange, distribute; (late) to settle, determine (+ acc. and inf.)
tabulātum -ī n.: a planking; floor, deck of a ship; platform, story (> tabula)
pendeō pendēre pependī: to hang, hang down
lābor labī lapsus sum: to glide, slip
firmiter : steadfastly, immovably, fixedly
assuēscō assuescere assuēvī assuētum: to grow accustomed to
simulācrum simulācrī n.: likeness, image, statue
certāmen certāminis n.: contest, competition; battle, combat, struggle; rivalry; (matter in) dispute
pertimēscō pertimēscere pertimuī: to be very afraid
sileō silēre siluī: to be slient; (transitive) be silent about
rubigō rubiginis f.: rust; blight
abstergeō -ēre abstersī abstersum: to wipe clean
historia -ae f.: a narrative of past events, history
dominus dominī m.: master, lord
vituperātor -ōris m.: hostile critic, detractor
saltem: at least, at any rate
persequor persequī persecūtus sum: to follow up, pursue; overtake; attack; take vengeance on; accomplish
adventus adventūs m.: arrival, approach; visit, appearance, advent; ripening; invasion, incursion
salvātor -ōris m.: a saviour, preserver
apostolus -ī m.: apostle
faex faecis f.: grounds, sediment, lees, dregs
Christus -ī m.: Christ
ecclēsia -ae f.: an assembly of the people; church
adolēscō adolescere adolēvī adultus: grow up, mature, reach manhood, peak; become established/strong; grow, increase
persecūtiō -ōnis f.: a chase, pursuit; prosecution, persecution
martyrium -iī n.: martyrdom
corōnō coronāre coronāvī coronātus: to crown (as a victor or ruler)
Chrīstiānus -a -um: Christian
potentia potentiae f.: power, force
vērum: but indeed, but yet, yet, but
aliās: at another time, some other time, at other times
immineō imminēre: overhang, be imminent (+ dat.)
explicō explicāre explicāvī/explicuī explicātus/explicitus: to untangle; extricate; unfold, explain
[1.1] Quī nāvālī proeliō dīmicātūrī sunt, ante in portū et in tranquillō marī flectunt gubernācula, rēmōs trahunt, ferreās manūs et uncōs praeparant, dispositumque per tabulāta mīlitem—pendente gradū et lābente vestīgiō—stāre firmiter assuēscunt, ut, quod in simulācrō pugnae didicerint, in vērō certāmine nōn pertimēscant. [1.2] Ita et ego, quī diū tacuī (silēre quippe mē fēcit, cui meus sermō supplicium est), prius exercērī cupiō in parvō opere et velutī quandam rūbīginem linguae abstergēre, ut venīre possim ad historiam lātiōrem. [1.3] Scrībere enim disposuī—sī tamen vītam Dominus dederit, et sī vituperātōrēs meī saltem fugientem mē et clausum persequī dēsierint—ab adventū Salvātōris usque ad nostram aetātem, id est, ab Apostolīs, usque ad hūius temporis faecem, quōmodo et per quōs Chrīstī ecclēsia nāta sit et adulta, persecūtiōnibus crēverit, et martyriīs corōnāta sit, et, postquam ad chrīstiānōs prīncipēs vēnerit, potentiā quidem et dīvitiīs māior, sed virtūtibus minor facta sit. Vērum haec aliās. Nunc quod imminet explicēmus.
|Antiochia||Capital city of the province of Syria and the residence of Jerome intermittently in the 370s. He was ordained there in the late 370s by Bishop Paulinus. Founded near the end of the fourth century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, it eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the Near East. After the founding of Constantinople, it ceased to be the principal city of the East. At the same time, it began to be prominent as a Christian city, ranking as a Patriarchal see with Constantinople and Alexandria. With the former of these cities it was connected by the great road through Asia Minor, and with the latter, by the coast road through Caesarea. Ten councils were held at Antioch between the years 252 and 380.|
|Nisibis||Birthplace of Malchus. Situated on the Roman-Persian frontier in very rich and fruitful country, Nisibis was long the center of a very extensive trade, and the great northern emporium for the merchandise of the East and West. In the fourth century control of this strategic and heavily fortified border city passed back and forth between the Roman and Sassanid Persian empires. The Persians ceded it to the Romans in 299. From 360 to 363, Nisibis was the camp of Legio I Parthica. In 363 Nisibis went back to the Persians after the defeat of Emperor Julian.|
|Persis||Persis or “Persia” refers at this period to the Sassanian Empire, the last kingdom of the Persian Empire before the rise of Islam, and a major strategic rival of the Roman Empire. When Malchus leaves home to become a monk he cannot go east from Nisibis, “because of the proximity of Persia and the Roman military guard” on the militarized frontier (3.2). Named after the House of Sasan, the Sassanid dynasty ruled from 224 to 651 AD, and was at this time under the control of the long-reigning and dynamic Shapur II (AD 309–379).|
|Chalcis||Site of Malchus’ monastery, mod. Qinnasrin. An important caravan stop on the frontier zone with the Syrian desert, Chaclis had a fine Roman road leading to Antioch, and was in late antiquity an important center of Syriac Christianity.|
|Immas||a small settlement about 20 miles due east of Antioch|
|Beroea||The second largest Syrian city after Antioch, modern Aleppo.|
|Edessa||modern Şanliurfa in Turkey, also known as Urfa, about 200 miles NE of Beroea (modern Aleppo). The public highway from Antioch via Beroea and Edessa to Nisibis was a major travel and trade route connecting the Mediterranean with Mesopotamia. The emperor Septimius Severus had a road built along this route in AD 197 when he prepared a campaign against the Persians (Gray).|
|fluvius||Gray identifies this as the river Jhagjhaga (Greek: Mydgonius or Hirmus), which flows past Nisibis, now in in SE Turkey|
|Road from Antioch to Nisibis via Beroea and Edessa||The public highway from Antioch via Beroea and Edessa to Nisibis was a major travel and trade route connecting the Mediterranean with Mesopotamia. The emperor Septimius Severus had a road built along this route in AD 197 when he prepared a campaign against the Persians (Gray).|
This map was created using Antiquity À-la-carte, a web-based GIS interface and interactive digital atlas for creating custom maps of the ancient world using accurate ancient geographical features, an initiative at the Ancient World Mapping center. Placemarkes come from the Pleiades Project. It is meant to accompany William Turpin's DCC edition of Jerome's Life of Malchus the Captive Monk (2019). Annotations are based on various sources, inlcuding the edition of the Life of Malchus by Christa Gray (2015), and Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854).