John Zonaras

John Zonaras (Greek Ἰωάννης Ζωναράς ) was a Byzantine historian, jurist and canonist of the 12th century.

Life and work

About the life of John Zonaras ' is only known what he himself says in his works about it. In the research is usually assumed that he was the Byzantine emperor Alexios I. (1081-1118) commander of the bodyguard and head of the Imperial Chancery, as he himself claims.

Zonaras wrote, among other things, a commentary on the canons of the reception are of the Orthodox ecumenical and local synods, or to the Canons of the Church Fathers. In addition, there are two sources smaller canonical writings. Erroneously, the Zonarae Lexicon he was also still often attributed to a book authored by several monks Byzantine lexicon of the 13th century.

His main work is a historical work entitled Epitome Historion ( " summary of the story " ) dar. It is a world chronicle, ranging from the creation of the world until the year 1118. The Epitome, which is one of the most comprehensive historical works in Greek and was written in a clear style, Zonaras created after his retirement from public life ( maybe this was motivated by the accession of John II Comnenus ) and his exile as a monk at the monastery on the island Hagia Glykeria. In a preface he justifies himself that he was active as a writer as a monk. He refers first to the invitation of friends, and looks at the same time in the literary activity a good distraction from the temptations of earthly existence. Zonaras succeeded, unlike many of his contemporaries, not too much slipping into theology. Nevertheless, the author is oriented to the classification of his work in religion: the first part includes the Jewish, the second the Roman Christian era.

Zonaras attacked in his account in part on today no longer extant sources back (see also Leoquelle ) what his presentation gives additional value. His intention was not (as he points out in the prologue of his work ) originality, rather he wanted to history in the form of a handbook ( Epitome ) in focus, concentrating on the facts and clearly represent, where he cut material from the sources used by him partly and summarized, but otherwise the contents completely reproduced. To be found in Zonaras also traces of pagan works ( pagan ) authors who are not transmitted to us. His work is just due to the loss of several ancient works of history, especially the history of the kingdom crisis of the 3rd century, but also partly for the late antique history a not unimportant source. In addition, the epitome for the reconstruction of the contents of Roman History of Cassius Dio important because Zonaras Dios plant extensively used.

The today's current classification follows that of the French Byzantinists Charles du Fresne, sieur du Cange (1610-1688), in eighteen books. Add Book 1-12 world history from creation is shown kompilatorisch to the Tetrarchy. The books 13-18 deal with the Byzantine history of Constantine the Great to the death of Alexius I Comnenus in 1118.

Editions and translations

  • Ioannis Zonarae epitome historiarum ( = Corpus Historiae Scriptorum Byzantinae 50). Edited by M. Pinder and T. Büttner - Wobst. 3 volumes. Weber, Bonn 1841ff.
  • Ioannis Zonarae epitome historiarum. Edited by Ludwig Dindorf. 6 volumes. Teubner, Leipzig from 1868 to 1875.
  • Thomas M. Banchich, Eugene N. Lane ( Translator ): The History of Zonaras. From Alexander Severus to the Death of Theodosius the Great. Introduction and commentary by Thomas M. Banchich. Routledge, London ua 2009, ISBN 978-0-415-29909-1 (English partial translation with introduction and commentary ).
  • Erich Trapp ( Translator ): military and courtiers in the struggle for the empire. Byzantine history 969-1118 ( = Byzantine historian 16). Translated, introduced and explained. Styria, Graz, among other things, 1986, ISBN 3-222-10295-3 ( translation of Books 17 and 18).