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The Second Council of Ephesus and the Council of Chalcedon, called two years later, are inextricably linked, by their historical context, in their theological conclusions (in that the one was called with the deliberate intention of annulling measures taken at the other, and of having a new definition of faith adopted), and in the manuscript tradition through which the record of most of their proceedings is preserved. The Council of Ephesus, called by Theodosius II when, as it turned out by accident, his reign had little more than a year to run, represented an emphatic victory for the ‘miaphysite’ (one-nature) tendency in the Greek Church. The presidency was given to Dioscorus, bishop of Alexandria; Theodoret, as the most prominent remaining proponent of a ‘dyophysite’ (two-nature) Christology not in exile, was excluded; and the first session, held on 8 August 449, rehearsed in immense detail the record of proceedings against the extreme-miaphysite archimandrite Eutyches in the autumn of 448, and of hearings called to hear disputes over that record earlier in 449, before absolving Eutyches, and declaring the deposition of Flavian, bishop of Constantinople.
It is the quotation in the acts of the first session at Chalcedon, called by the new emperor Marcian, of this part of the proceedings, incorporating verbatim re-quotations of the records of the hearings held between autumn 448 and spring 449, that preserves for us the record in Greek of the first session at Ephesus, ending with the written affirmations (‘subscriptions’ – ὑπογραφαί) of 140 participants.
This paper considers the interplay of Latin and Greek in the workings of both State and Church in sixth-century Constantinople, and the way that these two languages are represented in the written records of each. The richest source of evidence is provided by the Acts of the Church Councils and Synods, because at the end of a session, or of a multi-authored document, it was the custom for those involved to make a one-sentence statement of assent in their own handwriting. These processes also leave room for reflections of the use of Syriac (but not for items of actual Syriac text), but of no other language.
Few collections of papers could claim to represent more emphatically than this one does a whole series of changes of focus which mark the evolution of ancient history over the last few decades. First, it is based almost entirely on documents, whether preserved on perishable materials or on stone; the literary texts transmitted in manuscript, and printed since the early modern period, on which our conceptions of the ancient world were previously based, have receded into the background. Second, its focus is on the eastern Mediterranean, taking the ‘Near East’ in a relatively broad sense, including both Anatolia and Egypt. Th ird, while not exploring Hellenism in the sense of the period between Alexander and Actium, it takes as its starting point the dominant Greek culture of the eastern Mediterranean under the Roman Empire. Fourth, its essential focus is on language – or co-existing or competing languages. That is to say both, on the one hand, that it explores the potential of original documents to represent for us the realities of the societies by and from which they were generated, and that, at the same time, it accepts always that a ‘document’ is, just like a literary text, a construct following rules and conventions – or obeying a ‘rhetoric’ of genre – and is not, and cannot be, a simple mirror of ‘how it really was’. But the focus on language also means something more complex still, namely the situations which evolve when more than one language is (in some sense) current within a particular society.
This article surveys three important and interlinked aspects of Justinian's policy in his first decade: reconquest in the West; the establishment of a set of fundamental texts of Roman Law; and the achievement of unity of belief within the Church. In that context, it looks at the remarkable record preserved in Acta Conciliorum Oecumenicorum III, of five successive sessions of a synod held at Constantinople, and one synod in Jerusalem. Its purpose is both to illustrate contacts and influences across the Mediterranean and, more particularly, to bring out distinctive features of the Church in the Near Eastern provinces.
In A.D. 530 the Emperor Justinian gave orders that a commission of lawyers should take the 1,500 libri containing the works of the Classical Roman jurists, and condense them into a single work, the Digesta or Pandectae. His purpose was that the result should be a coherent whole, stripped of repetition and contradiction. Fortunately for us, what they actually produced was something which is quite different, and belongs to a type which is familiar to all modern students of the Ancient World: a sourcebook. For what the commission in fact did was to arrange the work by topics, and under each topic to assemble a series of examples of legal reasoning extracted from the surviving works of Classical jurists. Nearly all of these jurists had worked in the Antonine and Severan age, with a few belonging to the period of the Tetrarchy.
The greatest works of what we normally call ‘Augustan’ literature were produced by writers who came to maturity in the Triumviral period, and were already established as major authors before January 27 B.C., when ‘Imperator Caesar Divi filius’, whom we like to call ‘Octavianus’, gained the unprecedented cognomen ‘Augustus’. By that moment the Eclogues and Georgics of Virgil, the Epodes and Satires of Horace, and Book 1 of the Elegies of Propertius were already written. Livy had composed his sombre Praefatio, and probably the whole first pentad, in the later Triumviral period, perhaps around the time of Actium or soon after.