Monday, January 18, 2010

Further Musings on the Palace in Antioch

I have written a number of times both directly and tangentally about the Imperial Palace which was situated in the Island Quarter of the city. There is no firm evidence for its location. Despite being one of the largest administrative complexes in the whole of the Roman Empire and home to various Emperors for short or extended periods of time, the number of concrete references to it are very few.   

The main facts in positioning the structure are:
  • that Trajan fled the earthquake of 115 AD by fleeing from the Palace into the circus
  • that Libanius wrote that it was on the Island, took up a quarter of the terrain and that the shorter of the four colonnaded streets on the Island ran up to it (and his various other comments on it, but no more locational than that mentioned)
  • that Valens spied Aphraates scurrying past the Palace during a  curfew and engaged in a conversation. This seems to situate it on the riverbank (which is corroborated by Libanius) and that there was a bridge nearby that Aphraates had crossed or was about to cross.
  • Evagrius' comment that the palace had the river on its north side and "on the south there is a large portico with two stories which touch the walls of the city, and which have two high towers. Between the palace and the river is a public road leading from the city to the suburbs".

Thin pickings indeed. The information above has been employed to position the Palace at the side of the Hippodrome (in fact on the north-west side) with some sort of connection being imagined between the two structures to allow ingress and egress by the "powers that be" without them having to resort to the streets. The Palatine Palace in Rome adjoined (quite literally) the Circus Maximus and the palace of Galerius at Thessalonika was directly connected to the hippodrome. On of the best sources on the palaces of Diocletian and Galerius is "Late-Antique Palaces: The Meaning of Urban Context" by Slobodan Ćurčić in Ars Orientalis, Vol. 23, Pre-Modern Islamic Palaces (1993), pp. 67-90

Some have conjured up images of a version of Diocletian's Palace at Split, but on the Orontes banks instead of the shores of the Adriatic. Well, not a "version" almost an exact copy. This has brought with it the totally unfounded conjecture that the Palace was laid out like a military camp (in four segments) like the Palace at Split. 

It is also claimed that the Palace had some sort of portico or cryptoportico facing the river, from which one could gaze to the suburbs and gardens on the other side of the river. 

All these speculations may indeed be true. I take this opportunity to throw some more wood on the fire. I spent some time looking at the Split complex recently. I attach Robert Adam's reconstruction of the plan. 

First I would note that while Diocletian finished the rebuilding of the Antioch complex, it had been started by Galerius so Diocletian was working with material that was already started. Split also was a retirement villa for Diocletian while the Palace in Antioch was a major administrative complex from which much of the Eastern Empire was run when the Emperors were in residence (or the "junior" Emperors and Caesar's during the Tetrarchic and Constantianian periods when split leadership prevailed). Thus all things being equal the Antioch Palace would have had vastly more functions than Split was built for and thus may have been significantly larger.

Did parts of the "older" iterations of the Palace survive these rebuildings? The Palatine Palace complex in Rome was accretive as have been more recent examples like the Louvre in Paris and the old Schloss in Berlin, so why should we imagine that Galerius leveled the old structures and rebuilt from scratch? Did the Palace include significant gardens? Libanius said it took up a quarter of the Island. Even if exaggerating that would have been a lot of territory to be exclusively covered by one structure. Did it include barracks? Was there a Praetorian Guard-like complex as is Rome?

Some (e.g. Deichmann) have imagined that the Golden Octagon might have been inside the Palace. This seems to rely almost literally upon the Split comparison(where there was an octagonal structure called the Temple of Jupiter) imagining the Octagon as a recycled Temple or a Heroon or Mausoleum. 

Was the palace fortified? Did its river wall (if there was one) comprise part of the wall that Libanius describes as running around the Island "like a crown"? Did it need to be fortified? After all the Palatine was not fortified.... Split was fortified but it was in the middle of nowhere compared to Antioch. 

Conclusion here.. none.. We do not know enough about the palace to claim it is a copy of Split or any other known structure. The main way to dispel this confusion involves a pick and shovel.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Misopogon - Julian vs the Antiochenes

One of the most famous documents ever concocted in Antioch and directed at the local populace was the Misopogon (or the Beard-hater) written by no less than the Emperor Julian. Its text in English and Greek can be found here:

Julian was, with Marcus Aurelius, the most literate of the Roman Emperors, who tended to be a rather brutish lot. When they ran to any culture at all (beyond an appreciation of architecture) it tended to end up almost cartoonish or kitschy as can be noted in the actions of Nero and Elagabalus. Robert Graves in his "I, Claudius" would have us believe that Claudius was some form of frustrated academic. Maybe so, but his works have not survived to enlighten us either way. Amongst the worst must be ranked Jovian who burnt down the books from the library at Antioch in a spasm of faux religious zeal.

While Marcus Aurelius has come down through history as an enlightened humanist, he was also of the warrior disposition and led the Roman forces in various campaigns. Julian had a fair amount in common with Marcus Aurelius but has received little credit and much opprobrium due to his attempts to "wind back the clock" by reviving the "old gods" (we shall not call it paganism). But was he winding back the clocks? He may in fact have just been representing the will of the majority, or at least a large minority, who had been religiously disenfranchised when Constantine, and most particularly his successors, foisted Christianity upon the Empire as the State religion. What had been a rich and relatively tolerant religious regime for hundreds of years suddenly became monotheistic and monolithic. 

We have always found it hard to believe that Julian was a lone wolf in his campaign and that he was reintroducing the "old gods" for his own predilection. That would have been shallow indeed for reviving all the temples and rites for merely one person was clearly impractical. It looks more like he was giving voice to the frustrations of a largish chunk of the general population, in some parts maybe the majority. 

This has relevance when coming to look at the Misopogon, which was posted at the Tetrapylon of the Elephants in front of the Imperial Palace in Antioch's Island quarter in early 363. This satiric note was an address by the Emperor to the people of Antioch whom, he felt, had impugned and insulted him. Critics over the intervening centuries have attacked Julian for lowering the Imperial prestige by engaging in a literary dialogue with his detractors using (false?) modesty and self-deprecation. I frankly think the work is quite daring and certainly illuminating. He was addressing his work not to po-faced churchmen but to the pleasure-seeking Antiochenes who clearly oscillated between religiosity and a penchant for races and theatres. Hypocrisy was alive and well in early Christian Antioch. Indeed his self-criticisms focus upon sleights made of his looks which remind me of the attacks upon Jimmy Carter for wearing a cardigan and urging others to do so (to conserve energy in the 1970's crises). They did not like Julian's scraggly beard, his clothes or his way of walking. The "style-police" were clearly in the ascendancy. 

If anything the chief takeaway from Julian's essay is that the Antiochenes having found religion had not found piety and were as frivolous and fashion-loving as ever. They were censorious of the serious side of life and yet wallowed in swinging censers (to coin a pun) and the embroidery of ecclesiastical robes. Well he may have said "Apres moi, le deluge" for within 180 years, they were all swept away by earthquakes, famines, invasions and the forced march to "Better-than-Antioch". 

Despite it all, one suspects that Julian had a sneaking admiration for the Antiochenes. His former tutor, Libanius, was ensconced there and, despite being a devotee of the old gods, was an ardent fan of the city in competition, or comparison, against all others. If Julian had lived beyond his ill-fated campaign against the Persians he might have chosen to spent his time in Antioch (or Rome), but almost certainly not Constantinople. This might have had very interesting consequences for the evolution (or indeed the eclipse) of Christianity. As so many who adhered to the Constantinian conversion were fair-weather followers there might have been a long term drift to the favoured religion if Julian had remained the source of power and prestige for decades after, instead of mere months. The eventual heir(s) might have continued and consolidated this trend. Instead the oafish Jovian was followed by the intellectually limited Valens and history evolved in the way we now have things. 



Thursday, January 7, 2010

A House of Ill Repute?

Again ploughing through the Suda for the scant references to Antioch we came upon this juicy piece of gossip on the famous poet Juvenal and one of Domitian's dalliances...

"A Roman poet. This man lived when Domitian was emperor of Rome. Domitian was friendly with the dancer of the Green faction, known as Paris, concerning whom there was slander from the senate and Juvenal the poet. The emperor exiled Juvenal to Pentapolis in Libya, but enriched the dancer and sent him to Antioch; he established a house and baths outside the city and died there".

Ἰουβενάλιος, ποιητὴς Ῥωμαῖος. οὗτος ἦν ἐπὶ Δομετιανοῦ βασιλέως Ῥωμαίων. ὁ δὲ Δομετιανὸς ἐφίλει τὸν ὀρχηστὴν τοῦ πρασίνου μέρους, τὸν λεγόμενον Πάριν, περὶ οὗ καὶ ἐλοιδορεῖτο ἀπὸ τῆς συγκλήτου καὶ Ἰουβεναλίου τοῦ ποιητοῦ. ὅστις βασιλεὺς ἐξώρισε τὸν Ἰουβενάλιον ἐν Πενταπόλει ἐπὶ τὴν Λιβύην, τὸν δὲ ὀρχηστὴν πλουτίσας ἔπεμψεν ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ: ὃς κτίσας οἶκον καὶ λουτρὸν ἔξω τῆς πόλεως ἐκεῖ τελευτᾷ.

It sounds like one of the establishments the Antiochenes would have frequented!

The Danikon

The source for this is the Suda, which is an encyclopedic work upon which criticism is sometimes heaped. I include it for its trivia sake.

"The danikon is in currency at Great Antioch of Syria, which they use for small transactions".

ἐπιχωριάζει τῇ μεγάλῃ Ἀντιοχείᾳ τῆς Συρίας τὸ δανικόν, ᾧπερ χρῶνται εἰς μικρὰς πραγματείας.


"This is the name of a coin which in the old days they gave to the corpses as they buried them, as the fare on the boat over Acherousia. Acherousia is a lake in Hades, which the dead cross, and as they do so they give the aforementioned coin to the ferryman".

Δανάκη: τοῦτο νομίσματός ἐστιν ὄνομα, ὃ τοῖς νεκροῖς ἐδίδοσαν πάλαι συγκηδεύοντες: νεὼς Ἀχερουσίας ἐπίβαθρον. Ἀχερουσία δέ ἐστι λίμνη ἐν ᾅδου, ἣν διαπορθμεύονται οἱ τελευτῶντες τὸ προειρημένον νόμισμα τῷ πορθμεῖ διδόντες. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Lost Work of Pausanias

Pausanias underlies quite a bit of the information we have on early Antioch and yet remains a somewhat obscure figure. This ancient travel writer is only extant in one of his works, with most of the rest having perished over the centuries. 

He was revived early in the second millenium when Stephano of Byzantium came across a copy of his Travel Guide to Greece in its ten (surviving) volumes and gave the work a new lease of life. This creation has proven to be invaluable in the information it brings on Greece and its cities in the first years of the Roman Empire. Alas, much of the rest of Pausanias' output has been lost. One of these works was his book De Antiochia, of which only a snatch of text still survives, again a legacy of Stephano's efforts. 

Some scholars feel that Pausanias may never even have been published in his own heyday and that he may have only made a single copy of his work and thus it is quite a miracle that so much of the work on Greece survived until Stephano's time and consequently no surprise also that most of the Antiochene writings should have perished. 

The ubiquitous Karl Ottfried Muller produced the Greek text in Fragmenta historicorum graecorum, Volume 4 which can be found here on page 467.

He provides a Latin translation which we repeat here:


 Seleucobellis, urbs Syriae finitima. Civis Seleucobelites et Seleucobclaeus Dicitur etiam Seleucensis ad Belum: sic enim Pausanias habet in libro De Antiochia.


Perseus quum per multos annos imperium Persidis tenuisset, certior factus lonitas, ex Argivis oriundos, in Syria sedes suas posuisse, eo concedit ad Silpium montem, eos tanquam sanguine sibi conjunctos visitaturus. Ab his autem honorifice exceptus est, ut qui scirent cum genus suum ab Argivis lopolitis duxisse: summa ¡taque laetitia affecti Perseum suum in celebrabant. Tempestate vero ingruente, quum Draco fluvius, qui nunc est Orontes, lopolim ргаetегfluens, supra motum imbribus auctus esset, Perseus lonitas, ut preces funderent, bortatus est. Quibus precantibus sacraque peragentibus, globus ignis fulminalis e coelo delapsus tempestatem sedavit, fluminisque impetum coercuit. Mirabundus ad boc Perseus stetit, et ex igne illo statim ignem accendens, apud se religiose asservavit : quem in Persidem, regnum suum, secum tulit. Persas autem edocuit divinos honores eidem exhibere, utpote quem de cœlo delapsum se vidisse asserebat. Persae itaque ignem etiamnunc colunt, pro numine habentes. Ipse autem Perseus lonitis fanum condidit igni aeterno sacrum. Aliud etiam templum in Perside igni exstruxit, ubi illius ministres posuit sánctos quosdam vires, quos magos nominavit. Haec Pausanias sapientissimus chronographus conscripsit.




Seleucus Nicator statim post victum Antigonum Poliorceten urbes nonnullas condere in animo habens , initium condendi suinpsit ab Syria: oris maritimis. Itaque ad mаге descendens urbem conspexit exiguam, in monte sitam, a Syro Agenoris filio olim conditam. Xanthi ¡taque vicésima tertia die Cäsium montem conscendit, Jovi Casio sacra facturus. Quibus rite peractis et carnibus in frustula concisis, precibus rogavit, ubinam loci condenda esset urbs. Derepente vero aquila ex sacrificio carnis offulam surripiens detulit eam Palaeopolim: quam insecuti Seleucus quique cum eo erant auspices projectam invenerunt offulam ad emporium Pieriam, quam vocant, prope mare, infra Palaeopolim. Designate ¡taque muro, urbis statim jecit fundamenta; quam e nomine suo Seleuciam vocavit. Inde deo gratiis actis, lopolim contendit, urbem in monte Silpio sitam , ubi fanum erat a Perseo Pici ex Danae filio exstructum. Hîc post tres dies festum Jovi Ceraunio celebravit, sacrificium faciens Artemisii mensis die primo. Antigoniam deinde profectus, urbem ab Antigono Poliorcète conditam (quae inter paludem Arceuthamque fluvium, qui et Japtha dictus, ex ea emanantem media interjacens situ gaudebat tutissimo), sacra illic Jovi fecit super altaribus, quae erexerat ibi Antigonus: et excisis offulis, una cum sacerdote Amphione numen exoravit, ut signo aliquo edisceret, utrum ibi in Antigonia, mutato loci nomine, sedem poneret, an potius alio in loco novae urbis fundamenta jaceret. Repente igitur ex aère descendens aquila ingens, arreptis ex ara ignescentibus victimae carnibus, per aerem fertur in montem Silpium. Hanc ¡taque Seleucus et qui cum illo erant, insecuti, sacratam offulam in monte invenerunt, aquilamque ei incubantem. Sacerdos autem et auspices et ipse Seleucus, portentum hoc videntés, dixerunt omnes: « Hic sedes nobis ponendae sunt; Antigoniam vero пес incoli ñeque urbem fieri fas est; quippe sic numini visum.» Consilium itaque cum iis inibat Seleucus, quo tandem in loco urbis fundamenta tuto ponerentur. Cavens autem sibi ab effluviis montis Silpii et ab aquis hiberno tempore inde exundantibus, fundamenta urbis molitur in planitie convallis, ex opposito montis, juxta Draconem fluvium magnum, qui postea Orontes vocatus est; ubi et vicus fuit, nomine Bottia, e regione lopoleos. Rem vero divinam fecit immolante Amphione, sacerdote et mysta, virginem, Aemathen nomine, die vicésimo secundo Artemisii sive Maji mensis, hora diei prima, sub ortum solis. Urbem vero ab Antiochio Sotere filio suo Antiochiam vocavit. Fanum deinde exstruxit Jovi Bottio sacrum; moeniaque urbis excitavit summo studio stupenda, Xenaeo usus architecto. Statuam praeterea aeneam, urbis Fortunam, erexit; cui juxta fluvium collocatae sacra statim peregit. Antigoniam deinde repetens, eam funditus evertit, utilemque ruinarum materiam flumine inde deportavit. Antigoniae autem urbis Fortunae statuam aeream erexit, Amaltheae cornu manu tenentem; eamque in sublimi collocavit in sacello quattuor columnarum, aramque excelsam ante illud exstruxit. Hanc Fortunae urbis statuam post Seleuci mortem Demetrius, Antigoni Poliorcetis filius, devexit in Rhosum, Ciliciae urbem, a Cilice, Agenioria filio, conditam. Seleucus vero post Antigoniam eversam Athenienses, qui eam incoluerunt, relictos ibi ab Antigono cum Demetrio filio, praeterea etiam Macedones (quorum omnium numerus fuit virorum quinqué millium et trecentorum) in Antiochiam magnam a se conditam transtulit. Ubi staluam etiam aerecam plane stupendam Minervae posuit, propter Athenienses qui eam colunt. Cretenses etiam deduxit Seleucus, quos arcam summasque urbis partes habitare fecit olim Casus Inachi filius. Et cum his Cyprios etiam in eandem Antiochiam traduxit. Casus enim rex uxorem habuit Amycen, quae et Cittia vocata est, Salaminis, Cvpriorum régis, filiam: cum hac Cyprii venientes summitates urbis incoluerunt. Amyce deinde mortua, centum ab urbe stadiis sepulta est; a qua regio illa Amyce dicta est. Argivos etiam lonitas hiortatus est, ut lopoli relicta in Antiochiam migrarent ; quos tanquam sacerdotales et optimates urbem administrare jussit. Idem Seleucus lapideiim simulacrum aquilae ante urbem posuit. Menses item Syrorum Macedonum mensium nominibus vocari jussit, quod invenit in hac etiam regione olim gigantes habitasse. Nam duobus ab Antiochia millibus passuum locus est ubi humana corpora reperiuntur, ira del in lapides conversa, quos in hunc usque diem Gigantes vocant. Porro Pagram quendam gigantem, illius loci incolam, igné coelesti consumptum ib¡ periise ferunt. Ante urbem vero ad ripam fluminis ulteriorem Seleucus alíud etiam posuit simulacrum, capitis scilicet equini, juxtaque cassidem deauratam, qiiibus haec inscripta sunt : Huic insidens Seleucus Antigonum fugiens evasit : et deinde reversus eum occidit. Amphioni etiam sacerdoti, qui cum ipso auspicia captaverat, Seleucus columnam posuít marmoream, intra portam quam vocant Romanesiam. Porro Seleucus Nicator urbem concedit etiam in Syria marítima, quam a filia sua Laodiceam nominavit. Antes ibi fuerat vicus, cui nomen Mazabda. Sacris autem Jovi pro more peractis, numinque rogato ubinam urbs condenda esset, advolans aquila, ut antea, offuílam ex ara surripit: quam dum rex insequitiir, occurrit ei арer ingens ex arundineto: hunc Seleucus hasta quam ferebat interfecit; et occisi apri circumtrahens cadaver, missa aquila, sanguine ejus designatis moenibus fundamenta urbis in illo posuit: parata in victimam virgine intacta, nomine Agave ; cui etiam statuam aeream erexit in Fortunam urbis. ídem Seleucus Nicator incidens in vicum quendam Syriae, cui Pharnace nomen, mœnibus eum cinxit, urbemque fecit magnam, a filiiae suae nomine Apameam vocans. Quam deinde Seleucus, mulato nomine, Pellam ab urbis Fortuna; nomine (sic dictae, quod a Pella Macedoniae urbe ipse oriuindus erat) appellavit. In sacrificium habuit taurum et hircum. Et aquila tum rursus advolans tauri hircique capita abripuit. Quorum ex sanguine moenia urbis designavit. Praeterea alias urbes quam plurimas Seleucus condidit in aliis regionibus et in Perside etiam, numero septuaginta quinqué, uti sapiens Pausanias chronographus memoriae prodidit: quas omnes vel nomine suo vel liberorum suorum pro lubitu Seleucus insignivit. Sapiens autem Pausanias tradidit Seleucum Anliochia; magnae nomen dédisse a patre suo Antiocho. Verum nemo urbis conditor eam in demortui nomen vocare solet: absurdum enim est; sed viventis alicujus et superstitis nomen ei indit. Itaque et hanc urbem Seleucus Antiochi filii sui nomine Antiochiam vocavit, uti in prioribus dictum. Ceterum et alia multa sapientissimus ille Pausanias poetarum more ficta tradidit.




Eodem imperante Claudio primores et populus Anliochienus ad imperatorem referebant, ab eo pétentes, ut divino ejus edicto facultatem sibi haberont Olympia a Pisaeis redimendi ex annuis illis reditibus urbis suae a Sosibio quodam cive et senatore Antiochieno olim legatis. Facultatem ¡taque Olympia redimendi concessit eis Claudius imperator, anno aeгаe Antiochenae XCII. Factum nempe hoc ab Antiochenis, aegre ferrent in magistrabus suis ea quae de supra dictis Sosibii reditibus factitata essent. Sosibius enim, uti scriptum reliquit Pausanias sapiens chronographus, Antiochiae magnae Iegavit moriens quindecim auri talenta annuatim urbi solvenda, sicuti superius in Augusti Octaviani temporibus memoratum est. Reditum vero hunc annuum Sosibius Antiochenis Iegaverat, ut haberent unde sumptus facerent in varium spectaculum scenicorum, thymelicorum, tragicorum, athleticorum ludorum, gladiatorum quoque et certaminum equestrium, quod quinto quoque anno, Hyperberetaeo sive Octobri mense, per triginta dies celebrandum esset. Et initio quidem ludos hosce gymnasiarchae rite celebrabant; deinceps vero Iucellum captantes, celebrationem hanc penitus omittebant, donec divino imperatoris edicto primores urbis Olympia a Pisaeis redimerent.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Imports and Exports

A key text on the trading activities of the Antiochenes (and their neighbours) is the article "Commercial Syria under the Roman Empire" by Louis C. West that was published in Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Vol. 55 (1924), pp. 159-189.

It is interesting to read in context of the aforementioned visit of Theophanes to Antioch. West though deals with the external trade of the province and as Syria was largely self-sufficient in food (grains for instance) and most fruit (besides dried versions) did not travel well, these basic foodstuffs do not figure in the external trade patterns.

I shall excerpt here the list of imports that have been documented by the historic sources. The list is Syria wide, but as the chief consumer of luxury goods (and imports tended to be luxuries due to the high transport costs) Antioch features prominently. 

West spends much more time on exports though and a reading gives the impression that Antioch had some relevance but little importance. From my reading over broader territory I would beg to disagree. West concedes to Antioch an export source for wine and olive oil, though this would have been the surrounding countryside rather than the city. In medical remedies, he mentions the city as the source of "oil of lilies" and oenanthe (a product that went into around 21 potions). The city was mentioned as a source of race horses (though this may have been training "value-added") and camels were said to come from city, as did geese and poultry. John Chrysostom mentions the city as a producer of copper goods. 

While the import lists show Antioch as an importer of perfumes I would suggest that it was more of an importer of ingredients for Antioch was renowned as being a producer of perfumes for exports. Likewise it was an important center for silver and ghold jewellery production, which necessitated the import of the precious metals for conversion in the end products. West doesn't credit the province with much in the way of mining but in fact, Kisladag, just a few miles north of Antakya has been a gold mining site since Roman days and still is exploited in a desultory fashion.

The city certainly wasn't a silk production center but may have been a source of value added, such as embroidery and making up into clothing articles. West makes no mention of textiles from Antioch but we know the city was a major wool center with the Fuller's Canal, which I have dwelt on before being a major industrial complex the likes of which was not seen again until Britain in the Industrial Revolution. There was also the very important tanning industry, which if we hazard a guess must have used goat and pig skins as a major input. If we cast our minds back to the sticky end met by Euphrasius in a vat of tar/wax used by wineskin makers then one can find at least one outlet for goatskins.

West concedes that Antioch was an important center for arms manufacturing due to it being a leading base for the Eastern Armies on the Persian frontier.

A. F. Norman also writes in his article, The Book Trade in Fourth-Century Antioch
in The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 80, (1960), pp. 122-126, of the importance of the publishing industry. Antioch was clearly a major site for production of Greek language books for the Empire. 

One should also not lose sight of the city as an exporter of carved and sculptural works (including sarcophagi) from its workshops reflecting the high standing of its craftsmen.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Foraging with Theophanes - what the Antiochians ate

Around 320 AD, Theophanes, a lawyer and public figure from the Nile valley city of Hermopolis, made a six-month business-related journey to Antioch. His experiences on this trip are detailed in "The Journey of Theophanes: travel, business, and daily life in the Roman East" by John Frederick Matthews which was published  by Yale University Press in 2006.

The day to day details of Theophanes journey were preserved on papyrus documents and cover everything from distances traveled to daily food purchases, from medicinal supplies to fees paid for services. The collection of papyrus is known as the Archive of Theophanes and was published by C. H. Roberts in 1952, in volume IV of the Catalogue of the Greek and Latin Papyri in the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester (hence its standard abbreviation as P.Ryl. 616-51). 

While I have oft bemoaned the lack of new sources on Antioch it just goes to show that the papyrus troves of Egypt (not to mention obscure Arab or Syriac sources) may yet yield us new information to plug some of the many gaps in our knowledge of the mundane in the ancient metropolis. This source is thus fresh meat (and drink) literally to the Antiochophile community. The dossier of material relating to the journey consists of over fifteen hundred lines of close documentation, is a fascinating record of an episode in Theophanes' life. 

In the book, the classicist and historian John Matthews translated these important documents and puts them in the wider context of the social history of the Graeco-Roman world. The memoranda relating to Theophanes’ journey are presented within a historical narrative that offers an array of revelations on diet, travel, social relations, and other fascinating topics. 

The Antioch picture given by the papyri has attracted the attentions of a number of historians besides Matthews. An important article (in modern Greek) was published by J. Kalleris soon after the appearance of the archive and discussed the terminology of its many references to food and drink. A paper, Ein Monat in Antiochia, by Hans-Joachim Drexhage studied the evidence for costs and prices relating to the period of Theophanes' residence at Antioch. (Actually Theophanes spent two and a half months in Antioch not "ein Monat"!)

Matthews, in talking of those who preceded him in working on the subject of Theophanes, refers to "some characteristically acute remarks by Ramsay MacMullen on Theophanes in his public role, some informative pages in Lionel Casson's book on Roman travel, and a somewhat inaccessible article on the same subject by Patrice Cauderlier". 

As Theophanes did his peregrinations in the years preceding the rise of Constantine this is a good snapshot of the city in its pre-Christian apogee. 

Reading through Matthews on Theophanes one is almost tempted to see the ancient traveller as the Samuel Pepys of Antioch. His stay was relatively brief and his record is not a commentary but quite literally a reckoning of his daily expenditures but compared to the inaccuracies of Malalas and the high level politicking of Libanius, Theophanes is the closest we get to a street-level correspondent on the way things were.

He travelled to Antioch on some sort of business, what exactly is never revealed though he eventually signs an agreement and seemingly has a party to celebrate then swiftly hits the road back to Egypt. He came with a small retinue of slaves/retainers most of whom bear Egyptian names. These had to be fed and were entrusted with buying expeditions and thus have been immortalised in their master's budgetary statements. It seems that Theophanes had rented lodgings (as he had to buy firewood almost daily for the cooking requirements) and Matthews speculates that he was staying in a house rented from a widow (due to a large payment paid to somesuch at the end of the stay. 

Theophanes dated his trip and was thus there during the months (on the Egyptian civil calendar) of Pachon, Epheibe and Pauni. Epheibe, at least in 320 AD, corresponded roughly to July of our calendar. This has relevance because some of the diet is dictated by seasonal availability. Everyday Theophanes had bread purchased in two qualities, refined and plain/common (the latter presumably for the slaves and maybe factotums). The shopping records include purchases of vegetables (gourds, cucumbers, lettuce, pot herbs, leeks, onions, carrots etc), eggs, olives, olive oil (of different qualities), pickled and fresh fish and cheeses. Wine was also purchased on a daily basis. He also acquired a herb-flavoured wine, absinthion, which is somewhat akin to today's vermouth. He also bought wine vinegar. 

He bought fruit frequently. From the very start of his Antioch stay he bought figs (both dried and fresh) as well as nuts. He bought apricots (armenia) and plums (damaskenoi) when they came into season. He also bought melons, apples and peaches (the latter as apricots went out of season). From mid-July onwards until the end of his stay he was a buyer of grapes. One one occasion mulberries figures as a purchase, as do nettles. Generally the diet was the far of Antiochians of an elevated standing in the summer time, when fruits were mainly in season. Winter must have been much more restrictive in the choice available. 

As well as the fish we previously mentioned, he also bought meat in sizeable quantities and seasoning like garum (an ancient fish sauce) to flavour it ( or moreover hide the flavour!). He also acquired, salt, syrup and sweet wine and speices such as coriander and cumin for augment the favour of food. He also bought luxury items like honey and on at least one occasion, garlic. He was a very frequent buyer of meet, sometimes up to eight pounds in a day while some of its is dedicated to salting, a necessary action to preserve meat prior to refrigeration. On several occasions he also bought smoked sausages (loukanika) and chopped meat called eissikia (on two occasions) to be made into meatballs. On various occasions he bought trotters (presumably pigs) both boiled/cooked and even once bought a head. The meat is seldom specified but on the occasions when it was mentioned it was either goat or pork.

Matthews then goes on to describe the amounts of money expended and the types of meals that were either eaten amongst intimates or with guests present. 

Int he translated shopping accounts, soap is also mentioned as a purchase as well as "foam of nitre". He also notes buying a sponge from the physician. The cost of a trip to the baths (with Antoninus) figures as costing 200 drachmas. A pair of slippers for the baths was purchased. The repair of crockery is mentioned, as is the cost of buying some wooden bowls. Gourds were purchased also for cooking vegetables in. He also notes buying papyrus (to write up these accounts) but also presumably to draft the agreement (symbole) which concluded his business successfully in Antioch. Finally on the eve of his return he stocks up on loukanika, presumably a portable snack for the road home. 

All in all, Matthews retelling of Theophanes visit is fascinating and makes the daily grind in Antioch come alive. Never has a shopping list been so valuable! Theophanes obviously was a man of means to take such a retinue on his trip. He clearly wanted to live in some style (and entertain) in Antioch, maybe it was all part of making an impression upon whoever he was bargaining with over the still mysterious object of his mission.