Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Water Clock Again? And a Street of Gold...

The sources get more obscure to find untilled ground in the historical record on Ancient Antioch.

Stumbling recently on an academic article on on the Julian the Apostate I did not expect any topographical detail but interestingly did indeed find something. In this case the paper was the "The Syriac Julian Romance And Its Place In The Literary History" by Alexei Muraviev which was originally published in the journal, Khristianskiy Vostok (XB), 1(7) 1999, pp. 194-206. 

The subject is a "romance" on the subject of the life of one of the most interesting of the later Roman emperors, who as I have discussed before spent the last part of his life in Antioch (before going to his death in battle against the Persians). His time in Antioch was fruitful and controversial. His Misopogon satire was the result of his squabbles with the local populace and his actions, and death, provided fertile ground for the literary works of his sometime tutor and admirer, Libanius. 

Syriac literature is not exactly a subject I find gripping but wading near the end of the paper there is a discussion of a story within the bigger romance about a certain Eleuthera, daughter of Licinius, whose belongings were stolen by Julian. She meets the demon of the clocktower by night in the street called "The Street of Gold", who offers her his help in getting back her property. Taking him for the watchman she accepts and prays the king to make Julian swear by the image that protects the city clock. Julian heard all this and hurried the same night with his friend the sorcerer (Magnus) to the clocktower, where the demon offers to Julian the mastership of all the earth. 

The interesting thing here (presuming all this took place in Antioch) is that it features again the clock which I have discussed elsewhere and gives us a new street name. If I recall rightly we have only ever encountered two other minor street names in the city (besides the Colonnaded Street). A Street of Gold is no surprise because most cities until recently had streets for the goldworking trades (which activity Antioch was famous for, amongst others). The past mentions of the water clock place it near the Regia in the oldest part of the city, which most probably had proximity also to the old agora, which would probably be near where the gold workers would be located.