Medieval Armenian Sibylline Traditions comprising the “Defloratio Berosi” of Giovanni Nanni

(Johannes Annius) (§§884-891)

  1. Go to §885, below, >>, for a translation of the Defloratio Berosi, and to §891, below, >>, for the original Latin. The Defloratio Berosi Chaldaica, to give it its full title, was divided into five books. These, according to Nanni’s preface to the Defloratio (fol. CIVb), were addressed in their original form to the Athenians, and were intended to correct perceived errors in their accounts of ancient history. Berossus is known to have been well received by philosophers in Athens towards the end of his life, after he had moved his residence from Babylon to the Aegean island of Cos. (Pliny, Nat Hist. VII. xxxvii [123].) The Defloratio differed in the above respects from the “Babyloniaka” of Berossus, several excerpts of which have been preserved by ancient authors: the “Babyloniaka” was divided into three books, not five, and was dedicated to Antiochus II Theos, the king of Seleucid Babylon when Berossus was still present in that city, before he moved to Cos and was honored at Athens. This is one of the principal reasons why the Defloratio was rejected in the Renaissance: it was presumed it was claiming to be the “Babyloniaka” of Berossus, and it was known from the surviving fragments of the latter that the presumption was mistaken. However, the Hebrew Sibyl known as the “daughter Berossus” may well have drawn on the writings of her priestly “father,” including the sources of the “Babyloniaka,” to compose “Summary Extracts (Defloratio) from Berosus (Berosi),” — as the title of the work should perhaps be translated, — of relevance to the historical inquiries of the Athenians. It was alleged the Hebrew Sibyl was born in Syria of Manasseh (a Hebrew name) by Papilia, a female related to Alexander of Macedon, and that she migrated subsequently to Cumae in Italy. (Vaticinium Sibyllae, MGH SS 22, p. 376.) The Sibylline hypothesis is reasonable: it harmonizes with what we know otherwise of her work. The chief reasons for classing the Defloratio Berosi as a medieval Sibylline fragment are, therefore, as follows:

Continue reading Medieval Armenian Sibylline Traditions comprising the “Defloratio Berosi” of Giovanni Nanni



884.6. The original Latin of the Defloratio Berosi follows the translation at §891, below, >>. The first section of the translation, through the earlier part of Book Five of the Defloratio, is by Salverté (Essai historique et philosophique sur les noms d’hommes, de peuples et de lieux, E. Salverté, tome II, Paris 1824, p. 369ff.), as translated from French into English by Mordaque, and modified here, on occasion, to correct obvious errors, or to reflect the original better; the remainder of Book Five, left untranslated by Salverté, and therefore also by Mordaque, is my own rendering. The English translation of Salverté by Mordaque is from the “History of the Names of Men, Nations and Places, in their connection with the Progress of Civilization. Translated from the French of Eusebius Salverté by Rev. L. H. Mordaque, M.A., Oxon.,” vol II, London 1864, p. 295ff. Salverté’s translation was of the text of the Defloratio Berosi itself, as transcribed by Nanni from the book obtained in Armenia and given to him in Italy by the monk George. Salverté did not translate Nanni’s commentary on the Defloratio Berosi. The Defloratio Berosi and the accompanying commentary forms Book XV of Nanni’s Antiquitates. Nanni’s extensive commentary is not included in this translation either, except in a few instances, so references in “The Six Days of Creation” to the Defloratio (in the 1512 edition of the Antiquitates in Latin, published by Joannes Paruus and Jodocus Badius), or to other sections of the Antiquitates not found here, can be presumed to be part of the commentary on the Defloratio itself, or to be extracted from other works and/or accompanying commentaries contained in the Antiquitates. My own notes are contained within braces { }.


Complete translation from Latin to English:


Before the well-known disaster by which the whole world perished beneath the waters, many centuries had elapsed, the records of which have been faithfully preserved by our Chaldeans. According to their writings, there lived in those days a race of giants, in a city of great size, called Enos {= Enoch} near Mount Lebanon, which was the seat of empire over the whole world, from the rising of the sun to its setting. Trusting in their strength and colossal size, these giants made themselves weapons, and oppressed their neighbors all around. Wholly given up to a life of indulgence, they invented tents, instruments of music, and everything which contributes to pleasure. Continue reading ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THE DEFLORATIO BEROSI CHALDAICA.

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