Eusebius of Caesarea : the Manuscripts of the "Chronicle"

The Chronicle of Eusebius was written in 303 A.D, but revised and brought up to date in 325/6.  All surviving witnesses are based on the later edition.  Note that Barnes assigns the first edition to 276/7, as it terminated with events of the second year of Probus.

It consists of two parts, the first (the Chronography) giving a history of the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Jews, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans based on a range of sources, often now lost.  This section is now incomplete in all our sources.  However  his quotations of Porphyry on the Hellenistic monarchs still provide one of the main foundations for modern chronology of this period.  The second (the canons) consisted of tables of dates and events, indicating the regnal year and the Olympiad.  

Greek Text

Apart from some fragments, the Greek text is lost.  Substantial remains can be identified in two ways.  There are a few explicit direct quotations by later Greek writers, and many lengthy passages in Greek not so identified which correspond in content and phrasing to the Armenian and Latin.  The latter is important for the long fragments which the Chronography quotes from earlier Greek historians.  (T.D. Barnes, p.112).

A portion of the preface to the first edition is extant, which reveals that it lacked the polemic against Porphyry (T.D. Barnes, p.113).

[I have no details on the fragments]

Armenian Text

The longer text is extant in an Armenian translation of the 6th century.

[The following information is all out of date: consult this article by Dr. Drost here]



Shelfmark & Notes

Date /

G Constantinople  Originally in Jerusalem.  Taken from the Armenian patriarchate there to the library of the Armenian Patriarchal Training college in Constantinople in the 18th century (Details from KARST in 1911) Between 1294-1307
E Etschmiadzin Discussed in the Catalogue of the Etschmiadzin Library (Tiflis, 1865), p. 187, No. 1684.  A photographic copy was made for the Berlin Academy of Science in 1898 13-14
N Venice Mechitharist Library.  Copy of E. 1696

G and E are both derived from a common exemplar in majuscules: they share common lacunae, large and small, and display confusion of characters that can most easily be explained by copying from an exemplar in majuscule.  G is more corrupt and defective; E has a better and more complete text.  N has no independent value.

The Armenian translation was made directly from the Greek, perhaps in the 6th century, and was probably revised in part from the Syriac version (T.D.Barnes, p.112).

Syrian Epitome

Edited by SCHOENE/ROEDIGER (see below) from an MS in London.  I have no further details of this, than this:

The Chronicle was translated in Syriac, perhaps more than once.  Two Syriac epitomes have been published, and traces of another Syriac version have been discovered.  Their value for reconstituting the text appears to be negligible, however (T.D.Barnes, p.112).

Latin Text

In addition, St. Jerome translated the second part of the text into Latin, bringing it down to his own time and adding additional Latin-oriented material.  In this form it dominated medieval historiography, and became one of the fundamental books on which all study of the past has taken its origin.

Jerome composed this in Constantinople in 380/1 and seems to have revised it in 382 when he travelled to Rome.  One MS of the 5th century survives almost complete; of another, enough fragments survive to identify two apographs which enable it to be reconstructed in its entirety.  There are several MSS of the 7th and 8th centuries.  These early witnesses attest securely not only the text of Jerome's version, but equally important, its arrangement of the columns of numbers and of the entries on each page of the original (T.D.Barnes, p.112).

An MS of Merton College, Oxford, is complete online at

The MSS of this version are discussed here.


J. QUASTEN, Patrology.  Volume III. pp.311-314.  Lots of bibliography. Checked.
Josef KARST, Eusebius Werke, 5te Band : Die Chronik aus dem Armenischen ├╝bersetzt.  Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteeler der Ersten Jahrhunderte 20.  (1911).  MSS pp. xi-xiv.  This contains a German translation of the whole work. Checked
A. SCHOENE, 2 vols, Berlin (1866-1875): (Details from Quasten).
    Vol. 1 contains: Armeniam versionem Latine factam ad libros manuscriptos recensuit H. PETERMANN.  Graeca fragmenta collegit et recognovit, appendices chronographicas sex adiecit A. SCHOENE.  
    Vol. 2 contains: Armeniam versionem Latine factam e libris manuscriptis recensuit H. PETERMANN.  Hieronymi versione Latine factam e libris manuscr.  rec. A. SCHOENE.  Syriam epitomen Latine factam e libro Londiniensi recensuit E. ROEDIGER.
MOMMSEN, Die armenischen Handschriften der Chronik des Eusebius.  Hermes 30 (1895), pp. 321-38.  Not checked.  Details from M.D.Donalson, Translation of Jerome's Chronicon, Mellen University Press (1996), p.2
T.D. BARNES, Constantine and Eusebius, Harvard University Press (1981).  Checked.
Dr Armenuhi Drost-Abgarjan, Ein neuer Fund zur armenischen Version der Eusebios-Chronik, published in Julius Africanus und die christliche Weltchronistik, ed. Martin Wallraff, pp.255-262.  Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter (2006).  ISBN-13 (978) 3-11-019105-9. CheckedEnglish translation here.

See also the bibliography of works by Eusebius, here.

Constructive feedback is welcomed to Roger Pearse.

Written 24th May 2002.

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