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Eutychius, Melchite Patriarch of Antioch



Eutychius, Melchite Patriarch of Alexandria, author of a history of the world, b. 876, at Fustāt (Cairo); d. May 11, 940. He was an Egyptian Arab, named Sa´īd ibn Batriq; his father's name was Batriq (Patricius). He first studied medicine and history, and practiced for a time as a physician. He then entered a monastery and eventually became Patriarch of Alexandria, taking the name Eutychius, in 933. Being the Melchite (Orthodox) patriarch, he spent most of his reign in strife with the great majority of Egyptian Christians who were (Monophysite) Copts, and with his Coptic rival. His works (all written in Arabic and preserved only in part) are treatises on medicine, theology, and history. He wrote a compendium called "The Book of Medicine", treatises on fasting, Easter, and the Jewish Passover, various feasts, etc.; also a "Discussion between a Christian and an Infidel", by which he means a Melchite and a Monophysite. But his most important work is "Nazm al-Gawāhir" (Chaplet of Pearls), a chronicle of the history of the world from Adam to 938. The work is dedicated to his brother, Isa ibn Batriq, and is meant to supply a short account of universal history. In Latin it is quoted as "Eutychii Historia universalis", or as the "Annales" of Eutychius. The author states that he has compiled his history only from the Bible and reliable authorities. It contains, however, a great number of strange and improbable additions to Biblical and profane history not found in any other source. There are also in the "Chaplet of Pearls" many valuable details about the Monophysite controversy and the history of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. The book acquired a certain fame when, in the seventeenth century, John Selden published an excerpt of it (London, 1642, see below) in order to prove that originally at Alexandria there was no distinction between bishops and priests (a theory at one time adopted by St. Jerome, "In Ep. ad Titum", I, 5; Ep. cxlvi, "ad Evangelum"). Selden was answered by a Maronite, Abraham Ecchellensis (Rome, 1661), who disputed the accuracy of his translation of the passages in question and proposed another. In the thirteenth century another Arabic historian, Al-Makin (d. 1275), used Eutychius' work in compiling his own history of the world to 1260 (Krumbacher, Byzantinische Litteratur, Munich, 1897, p. 368).

ADRIAN FORTESCUE








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