Mike Aquilina

He Was the Very Model of a Pantheon Librarian

Sunday May 04th 2008, 7:03 pm

Born in Jerusalem, closely connected with the royal house of Edessa, Sextus Julius Africanus served as librarian at the Pantheon in Rome during the reign of Alexander Severus (third century). Talk about your inside tracks on history! They say his Chronicles filled many volumes, though only fragments survive. He corresponded with Origen, and he was an invaluable source for Eusebius.

Now, all the fragments have been collected, with two letters by Africanus, in one volume with and English translation and footnotes. Iulius Africanus: Chronographiae: The Extant Fragments is a very valuable book, whose pricetag certainly reflects that high value. Bryn Mawr Classical Review says:

Through the Chronographiae Africanus conceived the extraordinarily ambitious plan of fitting widely disparate strands of different histories into a biblical frame of time, beginning with Adam and culminating with the Resurrection. The resultant chronological system served as a basis for universal histories of which the Eusebian-Hieronymian version proved both influential and lasting. Perhaps the success of the latter ultimately guaranteed the dispersal and fragmentary survival of the model conceived by Africanus.

Hat tip: PaleoJudaica.

Many apologies for my relative silence. I’ve been down with some mystery bug, which seems to be affecting all major systems simultaneously. Last week I could barely stay awake. My fever broke Friday, but other symptoms are lingering. Raise an Ave for a poor blogger, please.