4.1 “Dē Beroeā Edessam pergentibus, vīcīna est pūblicō itinerī sōlitūdō, per quam Saracēnī, incertīs semper sēdibus, hūc atque illūc vagantur. Quae suspīciō frequentiam in illīs locīs viātōrum congregat, ut imminēns perīculum auxiliō mūtuō dēclīnētur. Erant in comitātū meō virī, fēminae, senēs, iuvenēs, parvulī, numerō circiter septuāgintā. 4.2 Et ecce: subitō equōrum camēlōrumque sessōrēs Ismāēlītae irruērunt, crīnītīs vittātīsque capitibus ac sēminūdō corpore, pallia et lātās galliculās trahentēs. Pendēbant ex umerō pharetrae; et, laxōs arcūs vibrantēs, hastīlia longa portābant; nōn enim ad pugnandum, sed ad praedandum vēnerant. 4.3 Rapimur, dissipāmur, in dīversa distrahimur. Ego interim, longō postlīminiō hērēditārius possessor, et sērō meī cōnsiliī paenitēns, cum alterā mulierculā in ūnīus erī servitūtem sortītus veniō. Dūcimur, immō portāmur sublīmēs in camēlīs; et per vastam erēmum, semper ruīnam timentēs, haerēmus potius quam sedēmus. Cibus sēmicrūdae carnēs; et lac camēlōrum pōtus erat.
While traveling with a group of around seventy people for greater security, we were captured by Arab nomad slave traders. Rather than returning home to come into my inheritance as intended, I was enslaved with a woman I did not know and carried by camel over a vast wilderness.
Dē Beroeā: CL would be ex Beroeā or ab Beroeā. CL uses a preposition with the name of a town “where both a start and an end point of a journey are given” (Gray).
pergentibus: “for those who travel”; a substantivized participle, masc. pl. nom.; dative of reference, here used of the person “from whose point of view an opinion is stated or a situation or a direction is defined” (AG 378); also called “dative of the person judging.”
sōlitūdō: sōlitūdō -inis f., “wilderness”; “deserts” in ancient texts are usually wildernesses rather than the completely arid places we call deserts.
Saracēnī: Saracēnī -ōrum m. pl., “Saracens”; strictly speaking a people of the Arabian peninsula, but here a generic word for Arab nomads.
incertīs semper sēdibus: ablative absolute.
Quae suspīciō frequentiam in illīs locīs viātōrum congregat = quōrum suspīciō congregat frequentiam viātōrum in illīs locīs. < congregō (1), “to bring together”; < frequentia -ae f., “multitude.”
ut ... dēclīnētur < dēclīnō (1), “to avoid” (OLD 5c); pres. subj. in a purpose clause.
in comitātū meō < comitātus -ūs m., “group, party.”
sessōrēs < sessor -ōris m., “rider.”
Ismāēlītae < Ismāēlītēs -ae m. “descendent of Ishmael,” i.e. an Arab; here probably “Bedouin.”
crīnītīs vittātīs capitibus ac sēminūdō corpore < crīnītus -a -um, “long-haired”; < vittātus -a -um ,“headband-wearing”; ablatives of description (AG 415).
pallia et lātās galliculās trahentēs: pallia trahentēs means “dragging their cloaks” on the ground, i.e. “with long flowing robes” (see Varro, Menippean Satires fragment 128, speaking of Greek philosophers). lātās galliculās seems to refer to the Bedouins’ boots < gallicula -ae f., “Gallic shoe, boot” (LL), but the text is uncertain.
laxōs arcūs: their bows were unstrung, because (as we will learn) they were prepared for kidnapping and enslaving, rather than combat.
ad pugnandum ... ad praedandum < praedor (1), “to take as plunder”; gerunds expressing purpose (AG 506)
Rapimur, dissipāmur, in dīversa distrahimur: a tricolon crescendo, with homoeoteleuton, forcefully expressing the drama of the situation.
longō postlīminiō hērēditārius possessor: “(intending to be) a landholder by right of inheritance after a long time away.” < postlīminium -(i)ī n., “the right of recovery”; originally the right of someone returning from beyond the border (līmes) to repossess property, but here simply a reference to the fact that Malchus had been away for a long time (TLL postliminium II.B); probably ablative of specification (respect), which can include expressions indicating that in accordance with which a thing is done, AG 418.a.
possessor: possessor -ōris m.,“a person taking occupancy” (of a property, OLD 1.c).
sērō: “late, too late” (adv.)
cum alterā mulierculā: “with a second person, a woman” (Gray).
in ūnīus erī servitūtem sortītus veniō = veniō sortītus in servitūdinem ūnīus erī. < erus (herus) -ī m., “master”; < sortior sortīrī sortītus sum, “to assign by lot.”
haerēmus potius quam sedēmus: sc. in camēlīs.
pōtus: pōtus -ī m., “drink.”
Beroea -ae f.: Beroea (modern Aleppo)
Edessa -ae f.: Edessa, a city in Macedonia; a city of Mesopotamia (modern Şaniurfa, Turkey)
sōlitūdō -inis f.: solitude, loneliness; desert, waste land
Saracēnī -ōrum m.: Saracens; a people of Arabia; a generic word for Arab nomads
incertus -a -um: unsure, uncertain, unreliable
vagor -ārī or vagō vagāre vagāvī: to wander
suspīciō suspiciōnis f.: suspicion; mistrust
frequentia frequentiae f.: crowd, throng
viātor -ōris m.: traveler, wayfarer
congregō congregāre congregāvī congregātus: to assemble, collect
immineō imminēre: to threaten, be a threat (to); overhang, be imminent (+ dat.)
mūtuus -a -um: interchangeable, reciprocal; on both sides; per mutua, mutually, to each other (> muto)
dēclīnō dēclīnāre dēclīnāvī dēclīnātus: to turn down or away; of the eyes, to close in sleep; (intrans.) turn aside (to), be inclined (towards)
comitātus -ūs m.: an accompanying or following; a suite, train, retinue (> comitor)
iuvenis iuvenis m.: youth; young man
parvulus -a -um: very little; small, little (> parvus)
circiter: nearly, not far from, almost, approximately, around, about
septuāgintā; septuāgēsimus -a -um: 70; 70th
camēlus -ī m./f.: a camel
sessor -ōris m.: one who sits, rider
Ismāēlītēs -ae m. : descendent of Ishmael; an Arab; a Bedouin
inruō -ere -ruī: to rush in, break in; rush on; rush
crīnītus -a -um: long-haired (> crinis)
vittātus -a -um: bound up by a fillet
sēminūdus -a -um: half-naked; nearly defenseless, without arms
pallium palli(ī) n.: cover, coverlet; Greek cloak
"gallicula -ae f. : Gallic shoe, boot"
pendeō pendēre pependī: to hang, hang down
umerus umerī m.: shoulder
pharetra -ae f.: quiver
laxus -a -um: wide, loose, spacious
arcus arcūs m.: bow, arch
vibrō vibrāre vibrāvī vibrātus: to set in tremulous motion, move to and fro, brandish, shake, agitate
hastīle -is n.: the shaft of a spear; a spear, lance, javelin; a spear-like sapling or branch; a shoot (> hasta)
praedor -ārī praedātus sum: to plunder; to go hunting for food
dissipō -āre: to spread abroad, scatter, disperse
distrahō -ere -trahere -traxī -tractum: to pull apart, tear to pieces
postlīminium -ī n.: resumption of civil rights on return from exile; leading back again; reprisal
hērēditārius -a -um : of an inheritance, inherited, hereditary
possessor -ōris m.: a possessor, owner
sērō: late, at a late hour, tardily; of a late period
paenitet paenitēre paenituit: to make sorry, cause to repent
muliercula -ae f.: a (small or weak) woman
erus -ī m.: an owner, householder, master, lord
servitūs servitūtis f.: slavery
sortior -ītus sum: to cast lots; obtain, get, take by lot; share; distribute; assign, allot, appoint; select, choose (> sors)
immō: no indeed (contradiction); on the contrary, more correctly; indeed, nay more
sublīmis sublīme: elevated, lofty, heroic, noble; (of breathing) shallow, panting; with head held high
camēlus -ī m./f.: a camel
vāstus -a -um: empty, devastated
erēmus -ī m. or f.: desert, waste land (late Latin)
ruīna ruīnae f.: fall; catastrophe; collapse (of a building), destruction
haereō haerēre haesī haesus: to stick to, hang on to
potius: rather, more
sēmicrūdus -a -um: half raw, partially cooked
carō carnis f.: meat, flesh
lac lactis n.: milk; juice
pōtus pōtūs m.: a drinking, a drink
4.1 “Dē Beroeā Edessam pergentibus, vīcīna est pūblicō itinerī sōlitūdō, per quam Saracēnī, incertīs semper sēdibus, hūc atque illūc vagantur. Quae suspīciō frequentiam in illīs locīs viātōrum congregat, ut imminēns perīculum auxiliō mūtuō dēclīnētur. Erant in comitātū meō virī, fēminae, senēs, iuvenēs, parvulī, numerō circiter septuāgintā. 4.2 Et ecce: subitō equōrum camēlōrumque sessōrēs Ismāēlītae irruērunt, crīnītīs vittātīsque capitibus ac sēminūdō corpore, pallia et lātās galliculās trahentēs. Pendēbant ex umerō pharētrae; et, laxōs arcūs vibrantēs, hastīlia longa portābant; nōn enim ad pugnandum, sed ad praedandum vēnerant. 4.3 Rapimur, dissipāmur, in dīversa distrahimur. Ego interim, longō postlīminiō hērēditārius possessor, et sērō meī cōnsiliī paenitēns, cum alterā mulierculā in ūnīus erī servitūtem sortītus veniō. Dūcimur, immō portāmur sublīmēs in camēlīs; et per vastam erēmum, semper ruīnam timentēs, haerēmus potius quam sedēmus. Cibus sēmicrūdae carnēs; et lac camēlōrum pōtus erat.
|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).