2.1. Marōnīās trīgintā ferē mīlibus ab Antiochīā, urbe Syriae, haud grandis, ad orientem distat, vīculus. Hic, post multōs vel dominōs vel patrōnōs, dum ego adulēscentulus morārer in Syriā, ad pāpae Evagriī necessāriī meī possessiōnem dēvolūtus est, quem idcircō nunc nōmināvī, ut ostenderem unde nōssem quod scrīptūrus sum. 2.2 Erat illīc senex quīdam nōmine Malchus, quem nōs Latīnē “Rēgem” possumus dīcere, Syrus nātiōne et linguā, ut rē vērā eiusdem locī indigena. Anus quoque in eius contuberniō valdē dēcrepita et iam mortī proxima vidēbātur. Tam studiōsī ambō religiōnis, et sīc ecclēsiae līmen terentēs, ut Zacharīam et Elisabeth dē ēvangeliō crēderēs, nisi quod Iōannēs in mediō nōn erat. 2.3 Dē hīs cum cūriōsē ab accolīs quaererem, quaenam esset eōrum cōpula—mātrimōniī, sanguinis, an spīritūs—omnēs vōce consonā sānctōs et deō placitōs, et mīra nescioquae, respondēbant. Quā cupiditāte illectus, adōrsus sum hominem, et cūriōsius scīscitāns rērum fidem, haec ab eō accēpī.
While in Maroneia in Syria as a young man I happened to meet the aged Malchus and his wife. I learned about these events from him.
Marōnīās: nom. sing., also spelled Marōneia and Marōnia; its precise location is unknown.
trīginta fēre mīlibus: mīlibus = mīlibus passuum, i.e. “miles”; ablative of degree of difference (AG 414). Thirty Roman miles are about 27.5 miles or 44.5 km.
vīculus: “hamlet, small village.”
Hic = Hic (vīculus); subject of dēvolūtus est.
post multōs vel dominōs vel patrōnōs < patrōnus -ī m., “patron”; here probably in the LL sense of “landlord, landowner.” vel is probably not disjunctive but connective: vel ... vel almost = et ... et (Gray).
dum ego adulēscentulus morārer: “while as a young man I was spending time.” In CL this would be dum + pres. indic., but in later authors dum can take a subjunctive (AG 556). The date was ca. 373, when Jerome was with Evagrius in Antioch; if Jerome was born in 347 (the date is disputed) he would have been around 25.
pāpae Evagriī < pāpa -ae m., “bishop” (LL); Evagrius would become bishop of Antioch in 388 or 389.
dēvolūtus est < dēvolor (1), “to transfer”; a legal term for the transfer of property, especially by inheritance.
idcircō: “for this reason” (adv.); anticipating ut ostenderem.
ut ostenderem: imperf. subj. in a purpose clause.
unde nōssem = unde nōvissem > noscō; pluperf. subj. in indirect question, though with noscō the pluperfect is best translated as a perfect; unde: “from which general situation” (see Gray), “which is how….”
quod scrīptūrus sum: the “First Periphrastic Conjugation,” i.e. future active participle + sum (AG 194).
Malchus, quem nōs Latīnē “Rēgem” possumus dīcere: the name Malchus is Syriac (and Hebrew), and means “king” or “royal.”
Syrus ... linguā: Malchus spoke Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic.
rē vērā: “in truth.”
Anus quoque in eius contuberniō < anus -ūs f., “old woman; < contubernium -(i)ī n., “the fact of living together, association.” Chapter 10.3 suggests that Malchus and his wife ended up living in separate communities; for possible solutions to the problem see Gray, who suggests that the two may have returned to each other afterwards, and were living together (chastely) when Jerome met them.
studiōsī ambō religiōnis: religiōnis is objective genitive.
Zacharīam et Elisabeth: Zacharias and Elizabeth were the aged parents of John the Baptist; see Luke 1:5 ff.
ut ... crēderēs: imperf. subj., in a result clause, but also a potential subjunctive (“you would believe”; AG 447.2).
nisi quod: “except that” (LS nisi C.5).
in mediō nōn erat: “was not around,” “was not there” (DMLBS medius 24, n. subst. “middle part, centre, midst”).
ab accolīs < accola -ae m./f., “neighbor.”
quaererem: imperf. subj. in a circumstantial cum clause (AG 546).
quaenam esset < quisnam quaenam quidnam, “who, tell me? what, tell me?”; esset: imperf. subj. in an indirect question. On the importance of this question to Jerome’s story see Šubrt (2014) 209-10.
mātrimōniī, sanguinis, an spīritūs: genitives of quality after copula (AG 345)
omnēs vōce cōnsonā sānctōs et deō placitōs = omnēs respondēbant vōce cōnsonā (eos) esse sānctōs et deō placitōs.
mīra nescio quae: “some amazing stories,” (mīra -ōrum n. pl.), implying that Jerome did not attribute much importance to them at the time. See LS nescio I.γ and OLD nescio 6.a. DMLBS mirus 4.
Quā cupiditāte illectus: “spurred by desire as a result” (Gray); < illiciō illicere illexī illectum, “to entice.”
adōrsus sum hominem < adorior adorīrī adortus (LL adorsus) sum, “to approach a person in order to address him, to ask something of him” (LS adorior I).
cūriōsius: comparative adverb of cūriōsus -a -um (= the neuter of the comparative adjective, cūriōsior cūriōsius).
scīscitāns < scīscitor (1) “to inquire.”
rērum fidem: “the truth of the matter” (LS fidēs II.A.1.b; see OLD fidēs 9b)
Marōniās -ae f.: Maronias, an unidentified small village in Syria
trīgintā; trīcēsimus or trīcēnsimus -a -um: 30th
Antiochīa -ae f.: Antioch, the name of various cities, esp. Antioch on the Orontes, the chief city of Syria (modern Antakia, Turkey)
Syria -ae f.: Syria
grandis grandis grande: full-grown, grown up; large, great, grand, tall, lofty; powerful; aged, old
oriēns -entis m.: the rising; morning; the east; the rising sun
distō distāre distāvī distātus: to stand apart; be distant
vīculus -ī m.: a small village, hamlet
dominus dominī m.: master, lord
patrōnus patrōnī m.: protector, defender, patron; (in law) defending counsel, advocate, lawyer
adolēscentulus adulēscentulī m.: young man
pāpa -ae or -ātis m.: a father, papa;bishop, pope
Evagrius -iī m.: Evagrius, bishop of Antioch
necessārius necessāri(ī) m.: relative; connection, one closely connected by friendship/family/obligation
possessiō possessiōnis f.: possession
dēvolvō -ere -volvī -volūtus: (of property) fall to, devolve upon (an heir)
idcircō: on that account; therefore
nōminō nōmināre nōmināvī nōminātus: to name, call, mention
senex senis: old, aged
Malchus -ī m.: Malchus, a proper name (orig. Syriac or Hebrew for king)
Latīnē: in Latin
Syrus -a -um: Syrian
nātiō nātiōnis f.: nation, people; birth; race, class, set; gentiles; heathens
indigena -ae: born in the land; native, indigenous (> indu-, an old form of in-, and geno)
anus anūs f.: old woman
contubernium -ī n.: companionship, a dwelling together
dēcrepitus -a -um : very old, decrepit
proximus -a -um: next, nearest, most recent, last
studiōsus -a -um: eager, keen, full of zeal; studious; devoted to, fond of
ambō ambae ambō: both
religiō religiōnis f.: religion, sanctity
ecclēsia -ae f.: an assembly of the people; church
terō terere trīvī trītum: to rub, wear away; tread on
Zacharīas -ae m.: Zacharias, father of St. John the Baptist
Elisabeth f. (indecl.): Elisabeth; mother of John the Baptist
ēvangelium -ī n.: the Gospel, the Good News
Iōannes or Iōannis -is m.: John
cūriōsus -a -um: careful, diligent
accola -ae m./f.: a neighbor (> accolo)
quisnam (quīnam) quaenam quidnam: who, pray? what, pray? who? what?
cōpula -ae f: a band, tie, bond
mātrimōnium -ī(ī) n.: marriage
consonus -a -um: harmonious
placitus -a -um: agreeable, pleasing (> placeo)
mīrus -a -um: marvelous, wonderful
nescioquis -qua -quid (also written as two words): someone or other other; I know not who/what; to some degree, a little bit
cupiditās cupiditātis f.: enthusiasm/eagerness/passion; (carnal) desire; lust; greed/usury/fraud; ambition
illiciō -licere -lēxī -lectum: to allure, entice, attract, seduce, inveigle, decoy
adorior adorīrī adortus sum: accost, address, approach
scīscitor scīscitārī : to inform oneself, seek to know, ask, inquire, question, examine, interrogate
Jerome Vita Malchi 2 read aloud (CF)
2.1. Marōnīās trīgintā ferē mīlibus ab Antiochīā, urbe Syriae, haud grandis, ad orientem distat, vīculus. Hic, post multōs vel dominōs vel patrōnōs, dum ego adulēscentulus morārer in Syriā, ad pāpae Evagriī necessāriī meī possessiōnem dēvolūtus est, quem idcircō nunc nōmināvī, ut ostenderem, unde nōssem quod scrīptūrus sum. 2.2 Erat illīc senex quīdam nōmine Malchus, quem nōs Latīnē “Rēgem” possumus dīcere, Syrus nātiōne et linguā, ut rē vērā eiusdem locī indigena. Anus quoque in eius contuberniō valdē dēcrepita et iam mortī proxima vidēbātur. Tam studiōsī ambō religiōnis, et sīc ecclēsiae līmen terentēs, ut Zacharīam et Elisabeth dē ēvangeliō crēderēs, nisi quod Iōannēs in mediō nōn erat. 2.3 Dē hīs cum cūriōsē ab accolīs quaererem, quaenam esset eōrum cōpula—mātrimōniī, sanguinis, an spīritūs—omnēs vōce cōnsonā sānctōs et deō placitōs, et mīra nescioquae, respondēbant. Quā cupiditāte illectus, adōrsus sum hominem, et cūriōsius scīscitāns rērum fidem, haec ab eō accēpī.
The World of Jerome's Malchus
|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).